Of muddled webs and letting in the light

I joined a professional gym recently. When all the sweets and cheeses and fried goodies showed no sign of leaving my languishing-under-the-strain body, I had to. There were many reasons for having done this instead of trundling along on my own regimen. The most predominant one is — I simply cannot have a self-imposed regimen. If I could, I wouldn’t need to look at discarding the security of my own home and wobbling my hitherto hidden bagsful of jellied anatomy in front of people. It does have its advantages, though. For one, you have someone else imposing the regimen on you. The second is a little trickier to explain — it puts you in a blissful cocoon.

Yesterday, as I thomped on the treadmill, the boom-boom blast of the skilfully remixed songs egging me on, I noticed that the deep staccato drove out everything from my thought-mist. At home, on my elliptical trainer and with a modest music system, the effect isn’t half as effective. Here, the mind wanders towards that cobweb next to this wine-bottle plant, or the dish-washing detergent on sale, or those cute boots I simply must have. There, inside that sprawling gym room with struggling ex-indulgents and ambitious muscle-developers, everything gets squished down under the boom-boom. It is almost like a divine hand, blotting out distraction. Yes, everything gets drummed thin. Even those cute boots.

That must explain the blissfully blanked minds of the youth listening to boom-boom. It’s as if nothing else matters. For me, the focus gets beaten in for the remaining 23 minutes of atrociously horrid stationary biking. For the boom-boomed youth, it must be the this-second gossip on Justin Bieber. Whatever it is, the drums succeed.

For weeks now, my thought-mist has been playing muddle-you with me. I read blog posts reminding how worlds are crumbling, the Human is now struggling, now succeeding; of the Devastating, Terrifying, Seemingly Commonplace, and the God-please-don’t-make-me-open-my-eyes. It is too much to handle. Especially if you have to retain the strength of your mind to remind yourself that the two dollops of sinfully chocolatey ice-cream are not for you. Not fair, wouldn’t you say?

I read on. And keep feeling like that tiny speck of floating seaweed, now waved there, now sinking, now waved here. And now on the top of my swinging world. If someone explores this possibility to somehow aid calorie-burn, they will make history.

But discovering ideas and people and being overwhelmed with the depth of a number of emotional journeys is not restricted to reading-a-blog habit. At least that’s what I think. There is a smooth muddling of our lives in general.

Since it is a muddle anyway, let me introduce a tiny Light without any preamble.

Years back, in 2006, a movie called Rang de Basanti (Let there be Yellow (the colour of spring, revolution)) took the Hindi-speaking world by storm. People, in swanky cars, smelly buses, the literate and the illiterate alike, thronged the theatres to watch it. Regardless of the tremendous profit it made, it brought in a much needed sense of doability among people; the youth especially.

Sue McKinley, a struggling British filmmaker comes across the diary of her grandfather. He was a jailer with the Imperial Police during the Indian independence movement. Going through this diary, Sue learns about  five freedom fighters. She can’t resist the intensity of the passion these men must have felt and generated, and decides to make a film on them in India. Her friend Sonia helps her cast four young men, DJ, Karan, Aslam and Sukhi to portray the revolutionaries. These four typify the typical disgruntled youth, who has no belief in the system; seemingly no direction whatsoever.

They are not enthusiastic about a film on a drab topic like the independence movement, but Sue eventually manages to convince them. Laxman Pandey, a political party activist, joins the cast later. He is unpopular among the team members due to his anti-Muslim beliefs and contempt for Aslam, a Muslim. During the filming, these young men begin to warily appreciate the revolutionary heroes they are portraying. They gradually begin to realize that their own lives are quite similar to the characters they portray in Sue’s film and that the state of affairs that once plagued the revolutionaries continues to torment their generation.

Meanwhile, Ajay, a flight lieutenant in the Indian Air Force, Sonia’s fiancé, is killed when his plane crashes. The government claims that the crash was caused by pilot error and closes the investigation. Knowing that Ajay was an ace pilot, Sonia and her friends do not accept the official explanation. They know that he went down with the plane to avoid ejecting and letting the plane crash over a heavily populated town. Restless, and looking for some justice, they begin to ask questions. Soon, they come to know that a corrupt defence minister had signed a contract in exchange for cheap and illegal MiG-21 aircraft spare parts for a personal favour, thus making the plane that used these parts unreliable. When they also learn that the person who got the deal through was Karan’s father, they are enraged. And Karan is heartbroken.

Peaceful rallies and seething anger does not seem to help this bunch. (Does it ever?) DJ, Karan, Aslam, Sukhi, and Laxman decide to take a leaf from those very freedom fighters they had enacted, and resort to violence to get justice.

They kill the defence minister. Karan, in the meantime, shoots his father, realising he can’t be reasoned with.

The media says that minister was killed by terrorists. He gets a martyr status. Not outdone, the five friends decide to announce the real story to the public through a radio station. They forcibly take over the station premises after having evacuated its employees. Karan goes on air and reveals the truth about the defence minister and his wrongdoings. Still on air, they are all killed by the police and military commandos.

When they are at the radio station, this song plays in the background:

Here’s a video of the song.

The conversation between the little kid and his father in the video:

“Come, Bhagat Singh.”

“What are you doing, father?”

“I am planting a mango tree. Plant one, reap a thousand.”


This morning, when I reached the gym and told my trainer, Rahul, that I simply didn’t have the strength to lift any weights, he said, “We’ll see.”

And then quoted a famous cricketer, “If your day’s bad, make it good. If it is good, make it great.”

I ended up exercising more than I usually do.


Note: I pasted the movie’s story from Wikipedia, and modified it a little to suit my convenience. Is that plagiarism? Sorry.

9 thoughts on “Of muddled webs and letting in the light”

  1. I envy those people in their swanky cars thronging to the theater to see this film. It sounds inspiring. Even just reading the summary, I could see these muddled young men slowly adjusting their gaze to let in the light. But life is a muddle no matter what, as demonstrated by the blogs you refer to, and we have to look for the light wherever we can. Thank you for adjusting my gaze with your writing and your insights. I hope you too feel “the path is new” and “so is the journey.” Continue to be inspired — in the gym, and everywhere.

    1. This is my favorite sentence:

      “There, inside that sprawling gym room with struggling ex-indulgents and ambitious muscle-developers, everything gets squished down under the boom-boom.”

      1. Where do you find such inspiring words, Charles*? I thought I’d muddled this post up. But after your comment, it all seems worth it. The muddle and the essay on it. 🙂

        Thank you for liking one of my favourite sentences here. I don’t know your reason, but I just love the sound of boom-boom.

        *And if this and similar things continue, I will continue to feel inspired.

  2. It is all too much to handle, Priya. I’ve reached the point where I’m too muddled, too frightened, and too worried to pray even. I wish for a little of the light spoken of in that beautiful poem. I wish for it for all the people suffering in this world.

    1. It is a symbiotic world, Jean. No matter how hollow it may sound, we do give and take. And more often, the good things. You have lit up our worlds in your tiny, one-human way. We must have provided the same thing to you, in our own personal, one-human ways. It never ends.

      As I re-read what I write here, I feel a little idiotic for sounding cocksure. But I am not. I am not cocksure. I am not even sure. At the same time, I do know that the world isn’t weak enough to be mauled by a relatively insignificant bunch of morons. You are not one of them. You strengthen it.

  3. Priya, this post was a much needed breath of fresh air! I, too, have fallen under the oppressive blanket of woe that has been the world lately. Your inspiring post helped clear the cobwebs.

    Here’s my favorite line: “If I could, I wouldn’t need to look at discarding the security of my own home and wobbling my hitherto hidden bagsful of jellied anatomy in front of people.”

    Good luck at the boom boom gym. Ugh. Necessary evil that it is.

    BTW: I’m honored to be referenced here! 😉

    1. Inspiration likes to to and fro, Linda! If you find my post inspiring, please do know that your posts have left me feeling richer and more ‘abundant’.

      The Gym: Ugh, too. But honestly, I love the all the excessive workout, the sweat, the rush of having stretched myself to the limit. I know I wouldn’t have done that at home or on a mountain trail.

  4. Hi Priya,
    That’s why I didn’t remember the post – I hadn’t read it. Good gracious! You posted it when I was in South Africa and I must’ve missed it.
    Great post. I enjoyed your descriptions of the music at the gym vs the music at home. No matter what the music, I have a lot of trouble getting on those machines, so I admire your persistence.

    My favorite sentence:
    “And keep feeling like that tiny speck of floating seaweed, now waved there, now sinking, now waved here.”
    and I love the photo of the spider-web.

    1. This post was written when there was too much on my mind, Rosie. The gymming has since stopped. All the weight I lost there has mulishly come back. Oh, if only I didn’t love food so much! And practiced my love for exercise more.

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