i get it. we all had a fabulous year.
move on now. go get drunk.
sukhi evaro, sumukhi evaro
i get it. we all had a fabulous year.
you're not laughing
at my freezing toes
or the pink hearts
on my purple socks.
you're not witness
to romantic nights
with ginger tea
and tomorrow's reading.
you're not asking me
which song is next
beatles or p'njaabi
on your playlist or mine.
i'm stuck in a cold wave
but i doubt that has
anything to do
with the weather.
for me, because my proxy winter now includes a brand new pair of old socks and a third purple sweater. bring on the cold wave, i say!
also for m, because her winter apparently includes a scarf. tsk.
walk away, now.
leave behind your memories
in trinkets on the fridge -
a chocolate wrapper, long forgotten
a photograph, worn at the edges
a bill, for coffee and a book
a parking ticket, and its unfinished song.
but whatever you do, don't forget
to take your smells with you -
some beer, some whiskey
some food, some mint.
old books, cinnamon tea
is that you, or is that me?
i. between sleep and waking
It is a world made up of chance and coincidence, and in this I firmly believe. There were days and nights and days and nights in the past, when I didn't know whether the sun was up, the fog had cleared or the mist had gathered in the winter chill. I like to call this the hibernation phase of my life, when I lived like an animal in a hole in the ground, eating when I felt like it, frozen foods reheated in an old microwave, and getting out of bed only when my body absolutely demanded it. I don't know what led me to drown in that whirlpool, but one day I almost woke up from my sleep, turned in bed and stared at the wall, but it took me ages to feel awake.
I could say that it lasted for that many days, like days that are crossed off on a calendar I could say, two weeks, I could count it, a hundred and twenty four days, for sure, twelve hours, it might have been. But if I have to be true to myself, I won't do it. Because even though I know how many days it actually was, I didn't know it then, and I can't tell for sure even now. Time had no meaning for me, not dusk nor dawn, not lunchtime nor bedtime, not noon nor five o clock, not even am nor pm. I can't even say that time passed by slow as a snail, or time was suspended and the clocks had stopped. Nothing moved for me then, nothing went forward or backward, nothing froze, nothing remained in suspended animation. There simply was nothing, and that's just how it was.
In that state of nothing, my sleep was plagued by a constant nightmare. You can choose how you want to end your dreams, they say. You can choose whether you want to fall or fly. With nightmares, however, you don't really have much of a choice. With nightmares, it's tougher to resolve them. They come into your sleep from the depths of your fears, they hang around in your thoughts and haunt you in your waking hours. They hide everywhere to confuse you, they blind you when it's brightest and make silences frightening. In the night, you're left sleepless, walking about in a daze, trying to compose the world around you, seeing if you actually fit in.
In my nightmare, there was a pale woman who you may call beautiful if not for the fear she inspired, her eyes were cold as the middle of winter, leaving you only with a faint memory of the warmth of the sun. In a twisted way, she is real to me, more real than my neighbor or the woman who sells vegetables, a product of my imagination she may be, but she is closer to my reality than any of my lovers or any of my friends. Even thinking of her now, my stomach clenches in fear, my head feels clouded and my hands go cold. She is my darkest, the only thing that I wish I could cut away from myself.
The woman in my nightmare was the most awe- and terror- inspiring entity I have ever come across. I ran from her for what seemed to be hours, while she consumed the world around me. I rallied, I hid, I taught myself how to fight her, I taught myself how to control my fear, all in my nightmare. I ran and I ran, and the ground was coming apart behind me. I had no strength to turn around to see what she had wrought upon the world. I had an acute sense of what I was running towards - an orange and purple sunset that would save me somehow, the prospect of blue skies that would make me happy again somehow. I could feel feel her behind me, stalking unhurriedly, her wicked smile piercing my neck as everything melted away to it.
Once, and only once I would turn around to see her. It was when I turned around to see her, every single time I turned around to see her, without exception, that the nightmare would end and I would wake up. Almost. Even today, I can't come to terms with what I saw. I don't know what it was that I saw in her face, or what it was that I saw in her eyes, or what it was about her smile that made everything inside me shrivel up. It was in this nightmare that I lived when I lived in the hole I dug for myself. I lived in the world that was dying away, the world in which the beast stalked and that woman took my world away. It was this world that I was clawing my way out of.
ii. the dead of the night
The beast had come to see me in the dead of the night.
It dug its nails into my heels and hauled itself over me.
Before I knew what I was doing,
I screamed and screamed into the dark.
Through my mouth it entered and took a hold of me.
In my shock I gave in, in my shame I surrendered,
before I knew what had happened,
that beast was me and I was the beast.
I looked into the mirror in the morning.
I saw, I saw that I could not see.
What would the mirror know, but for what it was shown?
What would the mirror show, but for the facets that it knows?
There I was before it, plain as plain could be.
My hair was flat, my lips were dry, my eyebrows completely out of shape.
If you saw my eyes you’d know, if you looked within you’d see,
I was the beast within, I was within the beast.
I wrapped the cold around me, darkness came in clouds.
In the mist I walked the night, in the fog I stalked.
When I saw people, I knew what I was, for sure.
For all I could see was flesh and blood, all I could hear was the sound of hearts,
all I could smell was the stink of fear, and all I could feel was their anger.
Fallen people everywhere, sex, drugs, alcohol,
on the roads I walked all night, feeding on greed and lust.
If they searched their nightmares, they’d find my beloved beast.
If you searched my beast, you’d only find me.
It was a winter for my heart, a grey winter whose ice I lay beneath. I lay there timelessly, pulling myself together, dreaming my nightmare over and over again. In between lapsing into sleep and waking in fear with her face etched in my mind, the world was a blur, one moment swirling into the next, one smell as insipid as the other. What I thought as 'I' was strewn everywhere formlessly, gathering dust and memories to find its way together again. What I thought as 'I' was forming itself anew, it seemed, realigning itself to this strange thing I now call reality.
I ran and ran as fast as I could, until one day I stood my ground. I remembered somehow that I wasn't to look, I remembered her tricks and her guile. I could see her face in my mind if I tried, in the mind of my dreams. She was coming towards me, this I could tell, in long paces, relaxed and calm. In my mind, I knew who she was. I knew that I had to save myself, I knew I had to try.
I told myself a story, I sang a lullaby. I told myself about the girl who married the king. What did she do for thousand nights and one, that she couldn't sleep at all? Did her dreams die unseen, did their lies not sing? I told myself about the girl who slept a hundred years. What did she think of the prince's kiss when she finally woke? Did she find him in her dreams, did he kiss her there? I told myself about the man who slept for twenty years. What did he feel when his home was gone when he finally woke? Did he dream of days gone by, did his nights feel true?
That was when I felt again, that was when I woke - The sun was rising in the east in an orange and purple dawn.
to himself, far away:
a guitar occasionally
a chill in the air
and lazy sunlight
when i woke up
to a december
and the end of the year.
and then, out of nowhere she said, "i love you".
i was so taken aback for a second, i didn't really know how to respond. i hesitated. i mumbled something even i didn't hear. before i knew what to say, that moment had passed. we just stood there awkwardly, hand in hand, the waves coming up to our toes, and the sun going down. i could tell she was totally appalled at my lack of response. we walked back slowly and bought ourselves more beer. we spent the rest of the evening making the most perfunctory conversation.
to this day, i wonder how that would have turned out if i had said it. "i love you too."
there's something about this story that i find that i identify with in the strangest of ways. i like noticing people's feet. that's actually an understatement. noticing the shape of people's toes comes as naturally to me as listening to the sound of their voice, or seeing if they have two eyes and one nose. sometimes, i get so uncomfortable around people who wear socks or shoes that i can't even talk to them without mentally trying to figure out what their feet must look like.
most times, i even go a step further - i judge people on the shape of their toes. i decide whether i like you, you're a snob, you're sweet, you're harmless, you're patient, you're annoying, you make me comfortable, you think too highly of yourself, i could go on and on - based on how your toes make me feel. i've even had crushes on people for their feet. (i could tell you about someone i sat next to for a whole cricket match, and only looked at his feet. his feet, i can tell you with some certainty, are the nicest feet i have ever seen.)
people who know this about me often think it's weird or strange, a fetish, even (with good reason, they think). today, i found out that a cousin of mine does the exact same thing (and now i feel normal.)
i seem to have a new found love for (of all things bleh in the universe) milk chocolate! there's an overwhelming amount of absolutely terrific dark chocolate at home now (godiva, mostly, so think about it carefully), and i'm only eating hershey's milk chocolate. three weeks ago, even i would have judged me. let's just hope this phase passes quickly. sigh.
list of things that annoy me about hospitals:
needles that stay stuck in your hand
nurses who insist on speaking malayalam with you
people who come to visit
people who don't come to visit
people being more tensed than you
people being less tensed than you
doctors who insist on not speaking malayalam with the nurses
other things that get pushed into your body
"you can pass urine after test is over"
unanswered phone calls
not knowing what is getting pumped into your body
not knowing what they're taking out of your body
not knowing what is wrong with your body
not knowing what they think is wrong with your body
not knowing the person in pain next to you
not knowing whether they will be better
not knowing, period.
but the smell of hospitals, i like that smell.
I looked into the mirror in the morning. I saw, I saw that I could not see. What would the mirror know, but for what it was shown? What would the mirror show, but for the facets that it knows? There I was before it, plain as plain could be. My hair was flat, my lips were dry, my eyebrows completely out of shape. If you saw my eyes you’d know, if you looked within you’d see, I was the beast within, I was within the beast.
I wrapped the cold around me, darkness came in clouds. In the mist I walked the night, in the fog I stalked. When I saw people, I knew what I was, for sure. For all I could see was flesh and blood, all I could hear was the sound of hearts, all I could smell was the stink of fear, and all I could feel was their anger. Fallen people everywhere, sex, drugs, alcohol, on the roads I walked all night, feeding on greed and lust.
If they searched their nightmares, they’d find my beloved beast. If you searched my beast, you’d only find me.
I have been having some crazy nightmares of late, and last night was particularly potent. I woke up dazed, trying to explain to myself what was happening, and what exactly I was going through. In my half-asleep state, cold and scared, my laptop was lying next to me, so I decided to write it down. I can still see her face, the woman in my nightmare now, and I can still feel that fear, nothing but that fear.
I can't judge this post yet - I don't know if it's any good, but I'm going to post it nevertheless, because right now I need to get it out of my system. The last time I wrote something after a nightmare, I wrote this. And I still don't know what to make of it.
dare i flail in the maddening storms
dare i let the tide take me
dare i drown
dare i find my wings in a hurricane
dare i listen to my heart
dare i try
dare i play
a child's game like this
dare i ask
for your forgiveness
dare i live
I was going to ask these questions a week ago, in a context completely different from this one. But in light of what has happened with Ramanujan's essay, I ask these questions again.
If history can carry a story, if communities distort it, and our politics shape its morals, is black black and white white? Can Sita not be Ravana's daughter and the one that he is consumed by, at the same time? Is Ravana the terrible, the enemy of the gods not Ravana the terrific, of a thousand years of penance and Shiva's own boons? If Rama is righteous, and Rama is perfect, and Rama is God, is he still not a man, consumed by the need for vengeance, above all else? Can a hero be a man? Why should the true telling of the story be only the one that is first heard? Can a myth not be just a story?
this night is long.
i miss the sound of your voice:
soft, quiet, humming the song in your head.
i miss the rhythm of your breath:
regular, deep, except when you smell my hair.
i miss the taste of your fingers:
soap, ink, whatever you ate for lunch.
in sum, i miss you.
ABED AND DOCTOR WHO!!!
you wrinkle my brain, man.
ps. boy, i really wish i hadn't quit facebook (for the second time).
they're good most especially at 3 am for bitching about jerkfaces, periods, politics and the weather. and for knowing exactly what you're going through when you tell them about that earring that fell off. or that you have to buy a new pair of jeans. sigh.
every song on that album (blue lines), i have memories of being on the road in adilabad or mahboobnagar. safe from harm is my favorite memory - i was on a bridge over a river, the sun was setting and the sky was reflected in the water - the whole world was purple, orange and pink*. i was looking back to see if you were looking back at me to see me looking back at you. blue lines only reminds me of chickoo and me singing alternate lines because we only remembered the song that way. i still only sing half the lines and imagine her singing the other half.
with mezzanine, i still excitedly tell people that i first listened to that album because my room for the longest time was a mezzanine floor. dissolved girl has got to be one of my most favorite massive attack songs. feels like i've been, i've been here before - you're not my savior but i still don't go. and angel, reminds me of the first time i watched snatch. that afternoon when we all got drunk in my house, drinking vanilla vodka and baking the best quiche and apple crumble i have ever eaten.
so now i listen to massive attack again, thinking to myself that growing up hasn't been what i thought it would be at 17. i might think i know better, that the years have worn my optimism down, but i'll still sing it - i'll sing it in the shower and sing it in the car and i'll sing it loudly when i'm all alone.
they say the magic's gone
well i'm not a magician
they say the spark's gone
well get an electrician
freedom, without love
magic, without love
here we're safe
better things will surely come my way.
*it just struck me - i actually have a picture!
i just don't know, okay?
in this town, something is always trying to tell me somebody.
i resist the urge every year around this time to delete all my early posts, only because they're an indicator of what a pure idiot i was. (i guess, in seven years, i'll look back at this post and think the same thing about this one as well.)
anyway, it has been a phenomenal seven years. more specifically, it has been a pretty spectacular last year.
in sum, my learnings for this blog year come (as usual and unsurprisingly) from the sunscreen song:
1. be kind to your knees, you'll miss them when they're gone. (i understood this while mine collapsed under all my excessive weight and sudden jogging habits early last year.)
2. understand that friends come and go but for the precious few you should hold on to. (this learning came to me during a mid-afternoon hangover under a neem tree, while two of my closest friends drilled me on the meaning of life. ps. hi m! glad you found my blog. :| )
3. don't be reckless with other people's hearts, don't put up with people who are reckless with yours. (...)
4. ..or worry, but know that worrying is as effective as solving algebra by chewing bubblegum. (algebra doesn't get solved by chewing bubblegum. another thing i tried this year.)
5. don’t mess too much with your hair, or by the time you're 40, it will look 85. (hello, longest hair ever! also, hello egg-white treatments and avoiding expensive keratin ones.)
otherwise, i sing (a lot), dance (in the shower, occasionally), stretch (ha!), travel (um), get plenty of calcium.
happy seventh birthday blog!
pale the wall.
love moves away.
the light changes.
i need more grace
than i thought.
- rumi, translated by coleman barks, emphasis mine.
if i keep taking the high road all the time, i might just fall off. bah.
It was in a rickshaw in Old Delhi last week after a meal mostly made of kababs and naan, and a conversation about music, love and breaking up that someone told me this.
"Never have a girl friend who is in love with the Beatles."
I remember that first night most vividly. A cold, Delhi winter's night, so foggy we could hardly see our feet, and it was beginning to drizzle ever so slightly. You had offered to drop me home in your car. Even though we had been meeting everyday and making the most perfunctory conversation, arguing in class and supplementing each other's questions, we were strangers to each other. I knew but your name, and if I have to be completely honest, I really don't know much else even now. I remember you were a bit nervous about what music I'd like. Did you really think I was the type who'd say "bollywood ke gaane," because you could scarcely hide your surprise when I sang along to 'Elephant Gun'.
That was when things were good. When we would have mundane conversations over coffee or beer about what imagery we lend to some songs, or what stories we thought they were telling us. That was when things were romantic. When we went to a monument every Saturday for history walk, but made up histories of our own about the maid and the guard and spoke about the couples under the trees. That was also when things were steamy, with adrak chai and pakodas, and ice cream that never melted.
When Delhi started getting hot, you started going cold. You'd leave class before I could even say hi, you'd spend all our time together in silence, you wouldn't respond to my messages, you would take my calls but hardly listen to what I was saying, hang up without saying a single thing. I knew everything about you (I knew that listening to the Beatles makes you think in cartoons, I knew that pink strawberry icecream reminds you of elephants, I knew that you didn't like reading Pratchett because he puts too much effort into being funny, and that you love Rahman enough to listen to his music even in a strange language like Tamil) and you, me. But I wasn't close enough to tell you that I was angry, I wasn't friend enough to be mean to you, I wasn't sure enough to tell you I love you.
When summer reached its peak, we were strangers again. You'd smile at me in the corridors, and I'd nod back, and that's all the warmth we could manage for each other, in that incredible heat. And that's what we remained, strangers who had perhaps shared a song and a conversation.
i also yearn for biryani and haleem this ramzan. the taste of it has everything to do with the lights and sounds and the bustle of the night, the life that hyderabad suddenly acquires in these few weeks while waiting to see the moon. in old delhi, there is a peculiar charm that only old delhi can have, but it's not as pretty as hyderabad is, and a goat's foot, however well-cooked, no offense, is not the same as haleem.
(of course, there still is my other blog which i will update for as long as reading something makes me want to write about it.)
Often, it seems to me, that you don't fall in love with a person, you fall in love with the way they make you feel. You make me happy, you make me comfortable, you make me cry, you make me horny, you make me laugh in public places at the most inappropriate things, you make me feel secure, you make me want to wake up in the morning, you make me want to get out of bed, you make me want to stay in bed with you. You don't fall in love with a person, you fall in love with their image in your head. That's what you were to me, a piece of fiction - a feeling, a perception, a trick of the light. And when it comes crashing down, it's only you you have to blame.
That poem of Rumi's I read only recently makes different sense now though -
The minute I heard my first love story
I started looking for you, not knowing
how blind that was.
Lovers don't finally meet somewhere
They're in each other all along.
the most annoying thing about heartache is that suddenly a whole lot of music just becomes unavailable. (it's very, very difficult to find music that isn't about love or heartbreak, even more difficult to find music that is happy and doesn't suddenly remind you of what you're trying hard to avoid, even more difficult to listen to that music you used to love when you loved.)
she just goes stumbling through her memories
staring out onto grey street.
she thinks hey! how did i come to this?
i dreamed myself a thousand times around the world
but i can't get out of this place.
there's an emptiness inside her
and she'd do anything to fill it in
but all the colours mix together
and it breaks her heart.
i'm aware that this is the second time i've chosen to put up the lyrics from this song, but i really really wanted to.
when everything comes falling straight down, when everything you've stood on is falling apart, when what one takes for granted is no longer there. what do you do when you find yourself so utterly, helplessly alone? when we've had more time away than together, it may be awkward for a day or a week, you may not know the gossip in my life, i may not call for months and months, i might not see you for a year perhaps. but i've got to ask all the questions like i've asked before, i've got to say that i don't know what to say, we've got to make the small talk, if we want to avoid the elephant in the room. when i can still say 'i love you' and be around someone when i need to be, and i know that that's all that matters, really. because that's all that there really is. love and strength.
and a prayer.
hairdressers, not so much.
speaking of hair. a conversation with s.
"i like your eyes."
"i like your hair."
"so superficial you are! eyes have depth etc."
"i think stories come out of people's hair. the more tangled up your hair is, the more stories there are."
"but what if i go bald in two years?"
(actually, lots of people around me worry about receding hairlines. makes me feel old.)
There is hardly anyone in all of mythology who inspires as much terror and awe as does he. Ravana of the ten heads, lord of Lanka - isn't it strange that a man, nay Rakshasa, who spent a thousand years in penance should fall for a woman so fiercely and uncontrollably, that he would deploy his most mighty army and employ the most bright minds to find her and take her? While Rama killed his person, vanquishing all the evil he stood for and putting a less threatening Rakshasa on the throne, Ravana's ghost stayed.
It wandered the earth for centuries, doing what all ghosts do - remembering. It saw people, rich and poor, happy and sad, lonely and loved, gathering all of what one gains with death and loses with life. In its own memories that spanned hundreds of years, the ghost of Ravana searched for what it needed. Through the prosperity of Lanka, the love of Mandodhari, the sex of his concubines, the loyalty of his brothers, the revelry of the night and the peace of the mind, he recalled what it meant to be himself. The rush of the war, the edge in strategy, the thrill of victory, in these he wallowed, guilty for having lost.
In all of its travails, one day it came upon a little girl and her doll. This girl, it seemed, could not only see it, but was willing to talk to it, and treated it like a playmate. Abashed and amused, the ghost of Ravana the terrible, the destroyer of worlds, the abductor of Sita agreed to sit down for tea with a child and her doll. In the cup the child offered was an aroma of jasmine, in the air was the smell of eucalyptus and that was when it came rushing back to him. During this time, for as long as it took to finish a cup of tea, the ghost of Ravana did what all mortals do. It remembered what it meant to be alive. And in that moment, with but a memory of a smell, Ravana died, leaving no ghost behind.
That is the story of Ravana's ghost, and that is the story of death.
in a book i'm reading is this: 'for s, on the eve of seeing raavana's ghost. love m.' i don't know how you meant it, but this is how i saw it. :)
Now, as you can imagine, very few people in India actually like tea that's made up of mostly hot water. This includes much of my maternal family. Recently, when I was asked to make tea for my grandmother, she gave me a very, very disappointed look and said:
"Inda tea-ey seriya panna theriyaade. Maamiyar aathele enna panna poriyo!"
("When you can't even make tea properly, what will you do in your mother-in-law's house!")
I suppose that closes the subject of marriage entirely.
Now, right from the start it's obvious that it isn't exactly a prudish art film. It's definitely a movie that's made for upper-class, urban, adult audiences; and it sure as hell doesn't pretend (not in the trailers or the songs) to be anything but superficial and humorous. I'm not sure if it's as good, but I'm guessing it aims to do what a Snatch or a Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels aims to do: blunder about, be funny, put people in awkward situations, and just fucking entertain.
So if this is all that it's doing, then how much of an issue does one take with it? Because the charges that are leveled against it are legitimate: It's sexist, it's classist, it's crass, it's enteric (true story!), it's a 'superhit'. The women in the film might just be exaggerated stereotypes (are they? I do have to watch this film), the jokes might be threateningly toxic (should I carry a perfumed hanky?), some jokes might be at the expense of others (I'll also carry along my 'I'm offended' look).
But what does one see, and what does one see past? Also, for my own pleasure, how does one see? If I were to watch this film and not look at what informs its representations, would I be superficial? If I were to take a joke that is seemingly innocent, pry and find its biases, is it worth being the Grinch? If this is not a battle I want to fight, is it not even a battle I want to sympathise with?
What do you do?
most people forget i'm in the auto when they're talking to each other. they forget that i'm close to them and i can probably hear everything. i could just as well be invisible, and it might not make a difference to them. parents quarrel with their children, couples make conversation about mahesh babu, friends talk about which movie to watch at imax. in the old days, i could judge where they would want to go and whether they would haggle over the price. i used to be able to tell what they bought at general bazaar and how much they paid for vegetables at monda market. nowadays, these multiplexes are too crowded and there are too many supermarkets.
i think these two were eloping. the boy was telling the girl about how he'd take care of her for all her life, and she was saying that she'd completely cut herself away from her parents. he promised he'd give their children a good life and she was saying that she'd take up a job as soon as she finishes college. they didn't seem worried, not a frown on their foreheads, not a crease on their brow. in matters of the heart, always follow the heart, i used to say back then. it wasn't a romantic piece of advice, it was the practical thing to say. dealing with heartbreak is always more difficult than dealing with physical pain. the broken hearted are always easy to make out. they look lost and sound distant, their laughter is generally empty and their eyes are always hollow. i always avoid those.
i would have told them as much, if i didn't feel like minding my own business. i would have told them about the exhilaration that love offers, the liveliness of the breath after a kiss, the satisfaction of knowing that they can make decisions that can change their lives. promises for life, hearts intact, being awake, being alive, these are things i'm skeptical of now. i'm not sure if i'm the right person to give lectures about these things, or bother thinking about them. advice is a form of nostalgia, they say, and for an old zombie like me, life is a form of nostalgia. i dropped them off at masab tank, collected my fare and went on my way.
thanks s, for the idea for a story. it's all in the hair, really.
..remember, to let her into your heart
then you can start to make it better.
(and anytime you feel the pain
hey jude, refrain.
don't carry the world
upon your shoulders.
for, well, you know that it's a fool
who plays it cool
by making his world
a little colder.)
hey jude, the beatles.
But I'm sure you'd do better than to trust a trickster, wouldn't you?
i see it at the corner of my eye, i know it's there but i play the game. i'm a traditionalist, so i'll still pretend that i don't know, i'll still behave like i don't see. i'll still take part in that charade: i'll peek under the curtain when you mean for me to, put on a look of absolute surprise, run and shout "i spy!"
all the while i'll hum to myself, in irony i'll sing.
you can't see me
but i can
nothing like context to help make sense of a song.
if you could only see the beast you made in me.
i've held it in but now it seems you've set it running free.
nothing like a song to help make sense of the world.
me. "rana daggubati, i say. the guy was single-handedly hotter than deepika padukone AND bipasha basu. although, the theory is that you put a pair of aviators and that much facial hair on anyone, they'll just become hot"
him. "it doesnt work that way is what i'm saying. certain people with facial hair and sunglasses look like masood azhar"
(the real sign of getting back to blogging, btw, is saying 'wait i'm going to put this up on my blog'. :P)
Would you know how that would make me feel? I'm sure you would, because every thought of mine is yours to scrutinize, apparently.
Yesterday I had sex. You know that already. In fact, you also know who I had sex with, whether I used protection, how I like it, that I was thinking about work instead. You know all this, you sick, sick bugger.
What I find most annoying is that something needs to keep happening in my life. There has to be excitement, ugh. After all, who cares about someone who wakes up at 7 every morning, takes the same train to work, does the same boring thing there, eats the same lunch and comes back home at the same time. I wouldn't.
I have to know what the cool music is, I have to speak in obscure literary references, I need to know what the good films are. It's not enough that I'm not living an ordinary life, that I have sheep popping up in hotel rooms and wizards coming out of walls, it's not disturbing that I think my world is flat and rests on the back of four elephants, or that I'm living in the middle of civil war and all I can think about is my books. It's normal that I spent my childhood in a tree with someone with a moon for a face, and completely safe that I spent my summers hunting criminals and getting taken seriously by blundering policemen.
If routine bothered you that much, why do you live it? Why make me someone out of this ordinary of yours? I don't understand why there have to be twists and turns on everything regular. Someone just died, wait, someone killed her. Someone just broke up, wait, she got cheated on. Someone ate a sandwich, wait, it was made of blue cheese. Why can't my life just be plain? Like yours, perhaps? Why do you have to know everything that happens to me?
Now what if I told you that my story was made into a movie?
You'd really like that, wouldn't you.
for S, who was in the mood for a story but had to work instead. Typical.
1. Read. As far and wide as you can. It doesn't matter if you're meaning to write about development policy since Independence, you can still be reading the children's books section on the Guardian. Or re-read an issue of Sandman. I find that this allows you to think in long, coherent, well-punctuated sentences. It also distracts you from the actual writing. Of course, this can only be detrimental if you have a deadline, so it goes without saying that if you have a deadline, read what you're meant to be reading.
2. Talk about it. By "it" I mean both the block and the actual piece of writing you're meaning to do. Everybody has an opinion (on both). Most of these opinions will never help. But at least you can be sure about what you don't want to write by the end of this exposition.
3. Stare. At an empty, white Word document. This does nothing to actually help, but it gives you a sense of impending doom which only pushes you to some more reading. (Or TV watching, but I shall maintain that TV watching does not help writer's blocks.)
4. Have an epiphany. These strike in the shower, or in the middle of reading something else, or while making an elaborate cheese sandwich, or in the middle of class while doodling something complex, multi-layered and made up of more than one kind of writing instrument and colour.
I don't have pink lipstick.
And I have straight black hair.
I first met him when I was in junior college. For all my conservative values, ours was a love marriage. I met him at my friend's sister's wedding. He was dressed in a black sherwani, and the way he kept asking me to speak, the way he laughed at the shiest of my jokes, the way he rubbed his nose with the back of his hands, I was floored. We sat next to each other when it was time to eat. It seemed to me that it was by accident, only much later did I find out that it was by design. His.
By the time I went to college, he had turned me into a poet. I would write for him, about him, my whole world was his world, his thoughts were my thoughts, my dreams were him, I was his. He had bought me a cellphone on which he would call me and text me incessantly. I would bunk college and meet him at the ice-cream parlor at the other end of town, where nobody could see us meet. I would wear my burqa on the roads, so that when I held his hand, nobody would know it was me.
In my second year of college, he was living in Bombay. He would come to meet me every month, and bring me tons of gifts every time. Like all college girls tend to do, I had a huge gang of friends I would hang out with. They knew every little one of my secrets. We never held back anything from each other. They would call me by his name to make fun of me and hoot everytime I got a call from him. They would read out my poems with exaggerated sighs and melodrama, and I would pretend to get very irritated, but secretly, I enjoyed every bit of it.
The blonde hair in his sweater is probably someone on the bus, then.
But what are those pink stains on the back of his neck?
Both of us come from very conservative households. My father was very strict about where I went, when I came back home and who I spoke to, and this is not just accepted, it is understandable. Daughters are the pride of the house, and it is our duty to hold it with the most respect. It helped, for me, that he and I were of the same religion, same caste and even a similar economic background. It also helped that he was earning a very good salary and was soon to be transferred to America. Our wedding day was the happiest day of my life. I couldn't stop blushing, and even though my trousseau was weighing me down, I felt light. I couldn't believe I had just married the man of my dreams. My man.
My love-life hasn't been without problems. I have been in New Jersey for over a year now. And my mother is very proud of the way I'm handling my household. Truth be told, that's all I spend my whole time doing, and I need to keep myself busy, don't I? I see less and less of him these days. Sometimes he comes home at 2 AM when I'm already asleep, smelling of something strange. Even in bed, he is hardly interested, or when he is, he gets very rough. We used to fight a lot in the beginning, but now he hardly even makes conversation. But he has always been the silent type, letting me do the talking.
My mother tells me that all marriages come with their ups-and-downs. The good wife always knows this. After all, he is my love and I need to accept his good and his bad.
I can't wait to show off the new lipstick I bought this morning.
And tell him that I'm pregnant.
by William Blake
Never seek to tell thy love,
Love that never told can be;
For the gentle wind does move
I told my love, I told my love,
I told her all my heart;
Trembling, cold, in ghastly fears,
Ah! she did depart!
Soon as she was gone from me,
A traveller came by,
He took her with a sigh.
dear mr. blake,
thank you for your advice. i have felt your fear, i must say, trembling and cold. but i do have something to ask, though. or an intervention, if you please.
what of love that is being, never told? or love that has been half-told? what of love that has been told and misconstrued?
what of me, now that i have told my love? would there be a departure? would i have to be shrouded in this traveller's garb if i have to take someone with a sigh, silently, invisibly.
you make me
you make me want
"sometimes i need new music. what do you do when you want something empty of memory, emotion and nostalgia? you need songs you don't associate with anything, no?"
1. to curl up into a blanket
2. a cup of hot, steaming cocoa.
3. preferably with marshmallows.
4. to re-read colour of magic. and mort.
1. to sleep.
2. till i can't sleep anymore.
3. to wake up and loll in bed.
4. preferably with a murakami.
1. to take a train.
2. a long, long journey. to hyderabad, may be.
3. amitav ghosh.
4. who i've always wanted to read on a train.
"... in our house books are neither furnishings nor badges of learning; they are debris. Officially we have two libraries, which are defined as places where you store your old books while your new books pile up beside the bed."
I am Sita.
Why do you ask?
Is it because of my silence or my rebellion? Which offends you? Which takes your breath away? Which makes you want to brush me away or take me for granted? Tell me, why do you think that I would wait within boundaries you draw for me, why would I not flirt with strangely garbed men who come knocking at my door? If they spout ten heads, would I scream in a fit of rage, or cower submissively, and let myself be taken away?
I am Sita.
Why do you care?
Is it because of my seeming conformity, my life within a life? Which soothes you? Which makes you feel I am like any person you would encounter on the road? Answer me, why must I not go where I please, dream of love-making in forests while monkeys and trees watch in voyeuristic nonchalance? You would protect me, you say, you with more than just Bala, you who have experienced Atibala, you would hold me dear, fight wars for me, you would abandon me, just when I allow myself to be tamed, a Queen, by any standard?
Let me not lie to you then, I am she, and yet, I am not.
I am Sita.
ghosts of songs lurk in corners of my mind. they pounce on me when i least expect them, waiting for that moment, ah, that precise point in time when i'm looking away. they descend upon my mind like a lattice around all my thoughts, they envelop everything. they haunt me sometimes, a woman's voice humming exactly one note, while the rest of the song watches elusively from too far away, while i grope in the dark for just one more snatch of the song, a clue so i can figure out what ever comes next.
they delight in teasing me, these phantoms that i can only ever hope to place, sometimes heaping nostalgia onto me. phantoms from the past, some that bring me specific memories of specific people in specific places, others that leave me with vague feelings, feelings of being at home, of friendships i've lost, and so the songs have either lost their meaning or bring me only pain.
and so, i sing, hoping that i can reach it, this song, sometimes just hoping that eventually, i'll know the rest of it, and when i do listen to it, it will live up to everything i went through to find it again.
(look ma, two posts!)
(there's actually a third. didn't want to overdose. tomorrow, may be.)
slow down you move too fast you gotta make the morning last just kickin' down the cobblestones just lookin' for fun and feelin' groovy badadadadadada feelin' groovy hello lamppost whattttcha knowin' i've come to watch yer flowers growin' ain't you got no rhymes for me dutt tu du du feelin' grooveeeeeyeeeyeeey dadadadaaa rappararara feelin' groovy i've got no deeds to do no promises to keep i'm dappled and drowsy and ready to sleep let the morning time drop all its petals on me life i love you
all is groovy.
pararara raa rappara papapum ta ta ta ta laaaaa laaaa laaaaaa
(ctrl c ctrl v ad infinitum.)
the seeming non-metaness of that which is metaphysical.
side note about notes titled 'about': they're insubstantial because i have only just begun to wrap my head around these ideas. feel free to make of them what you want to. they don't mean anything specific or solid to me either, and considering the ambiguity of some of these ideas, i doubt they ever will. the idea is also that these seeming non-meta things (er) are so non-meta that they can be anything.
a second side note, contradicting the first: body. labour. these are the things i am trying to figure. but like foucault said in a context not completely different, we need to look in the most unpromising places, in what we tend to feel is without history - in sentiments, love, conscience, instincts. though, i must say, the questions in the ones titled 'about' before this, i have moved beyond. it is not as if i have figured it out for myself and know all that there is to know, it is just that i am now used to seeking answers to these questions, and that my head has metaphorically wrapped itself around that question by now.
"I don't understand the point of fiction," someone said to me a while ago.
What is not to understand, I wonder.
Stories are what the world is made of, fantasy is what dreams are made of, narratives are what memories are made of.
If you cannot indulge in imagined worlds, get taken by people's and hobbits' lives, laugh at Arthur Dent and whoop in joy with Harry on a firebolt, how can you begin to appreciate Marx talking about parties overthrowing parties in 18th Brumaire, or marvel at Foucault's teasing ways? If you cannot feel the gloom of a novel, how would you empathise with a book on the partition, if you don't like recreating worlds, how would you conceptualise an abstract model of economic development? If you're reading the news, would you not imagine Mubarak's trepidation, or think about Aarushi in the suave, cold way that Marlowe would have?
Most importantly, though, what do you daydream? I cannot imagine what you would do for your endless hours in trains, if not for think about the woman next to you and why she smells of jasmine. Would you, in a bus, not think about how much money a single bus route might make in a trip, without thinking of where the conductor obtains the tickets and how many times the driver takes a break? Do you not have conversations with dogs on roads about how their sex life is going, or talk to yourself in a mirror, practicing a speech for some award or the other? Do you not have little traditions to convince yourself of your quaintness, or music that makes you think in cartoons?
How do your days not have pieces of fictions, parts of stories strewn in thoughts? How do you live like that, in stark, boring, unimaginative reality?
I don’t exist.
Oh. Yeah. Smart.
No, don’t give me that “You think, therefore you are” crap. It has even been theoretically disproven. Of course, for the sake of self-depravity, I shall also argue that I don’t think.
How am I writing this if I don’t exist, you ask? This is probably some existential crisis, you say? Hah, I say to you. Hah, if only were I to exist, were I to have a crisis. I write this, not by myself, no Sir, it writes itself.
You still doubt my non-existence? You are but one of many to do so, I must say.
Why, just yesterday, I went to a bank to get myself a new bank account. At first, the manager saw right through me.
Stop grinning your self-important grin already, yes yes, he saw through me because I didn’t exist, I get the joke, now can I move on with a slightly more intelligent argument? Thanks.
I clapped my hands a bit, I yawned, I started at him with my hands folded tightly under my non-existent big breasts, these are the things that sleazy Delhi men like in any case, and finally, when he had absolutely no choice but to acknowledge my non-presence, Madam-ji, he blessed, Aapko kya chahiye?
Ah, I reflected. Finally, I sighed. I tried my rickety Hindi on him. Bhaiya-ji, I beseeched. Ek account open karna hain idhar. Form kahaan se milega, I ask. He blinked. He blinked twice. He looked down at his keyboard as if I had not even spoken. After what I thought might have been time enough for a buffet lunch and three drinks, he turned to his right and yelled. Salim, idhar ek naya khaata kholneka form do, beta.
As I filled out my details, I started to face conundrum upon conundrum. But the real problem would not be faced until I was at a loss for proof.
Proof of birth, it asked me. Here I was, hatta-katta, paunchy, tall, healthy, what more proof of birth do you need, I asked the form. In its mechanical voice, giving me no more argument than mothers tend to do, it said PROVE IT WITH PAPER, BITCH. A tenth-class pass certificate? Eh? But what if I didn’t pass. A birth certificate? Reader, dude, why are you on this again?
You see now? You see why I say that I don’t exist?
Oh. More argument? I see. That’s just paper trail, you think? Alright, then. I shall entertain your snooty existent Self then, for just one more moment.
A day before that, I went to get myself a mobile phone. You would probably be aware of what those things are, you do don’t you, you sly Reader, you. I bet you know what he asked for. Proof of Residence.
He wanted proof that I live somewhere. Preferably a real building. Something with numbers on it. And right there, I lost my bets with Existence. A real building with my name on it?
You try it sometime. Prove you exist. Then you’ll know what I mean.Until then, Readers, I shall fade myself into invisibility, live under a rock and not make any financial transactions.
I shall also, definitely, not think.
for A, who complained that nothing I write makes her smile.
makes melancholy melody.