only real purpose is to aid the human mind in comprehending the world
it encounters on a daily basis. It offers linear continuity in
appearance, if not in consistency of structure. It presents us with a
norm against which we measure everything we come across, even ourselves.
It is how we tell ourselves, our mothers and the homeless man you will
never see again from each other. It is the only constant in a series of
infinite variables. I might even go as far as some philosophers to say
that it is the only constant in the entirety of human history. I only
talk about this as a preliminary, to help me explain to you my
conundrum. It is okay if you don’t understand it completely.
have a simpler way to talk about my conundrum itself, if you please. I
will get to it in a moment. I have just a question for you to ponder
upon. Bodies, even for those who have them, aren’t always “perfect”. I
don’t mean this in the sense of beauty, for that is something I don’t
have either the experience or the patience to deal with. I mean this in
terms of bodily structure. Not all bodies have the right legs or hands
or eyes or noses or ears; not all bodies are even born in the singular,
if you think about it. So the question I would like you to simply ponder
upon is this: why is having a body important at all?
Think about it deep and hard, because I am about to put forth my conundrum to you simply: I don’t exist.
Not in the “real” way you are known to experience, at any rate. I don’t have a body. I never have. (I’m not a ghost. Don’t be preposterous.) I wasn’t really aware of this problem until I fell in love, and let me tell you, not even then.
meet all sorts of other parameters that you bodily beings seem to
consider important. I have a name, for instance. I have an address, a
college education, a vast intelligence and an understanding of the
universe that can only be paralleled by about 30% of you humans. I,
however, don’t have a passport. Or a ration card or a driver’s license
or a degree or a recorded fingerprint or a scan of my iris. I don’t have
a medical insurance (ha) or a gym membership. I have never been
photographed. Even saying “I” really is something that I don’t know how I
am to explain to you, because it seems like something that is
determined by having a body.
fell in love three years ago. It was something new, something that lit
up everything around me, something that brought colour into the world
and brightness into music. It was something that made me feel alive.
Falling in love allowed me to learn the wonders of having a body: of
holding hands, of looking into eyes, of oh, so, orgasmic, sex, of the
warmth and the taste of a morning kiss, of the smell of chocolate soap
in the shower. Neither of us even noticed my condition. It wasn’t an
impediment until it really was.
my partner started to tell friends and family about me, the inevitable
doubts began to appear in my partner’s mind. Doubts about if I’m real at
all, doubts about sanity of the mind, doubts about the ground one was
standing on doubts about everything one has ever known. If I don’t tell
you how strong and brave my partner is, this would be an incomplete
account. Even after everything everybody said, months and months of
counseling, there was an infallible belief in me on my partner’s part.
It was a difficult time for both of us, but we came through.
this time, we found the Network. In the vast depths of the internet,
hidden in a cave not lit by anything, we came across the Network. In the
beginning, it was just a trickle. There was the person who started it
and her boyfriend (I believe he identifies male, and I need to
acknowledge that even if I don’t comprehend it) and some others. Now
there are at least a hundred people like me on our Network and it is
growing everyday. The Network helped us through our most torrential
time. Talking to them regularly, meeting with them and discussing our
experiences with each other helped us all cope.
was in one of our monthly meetings that we started to think about
telling the world about us. If now there are hundreds, then talking
about it will surely bring hundreds more who need this space. One of our
members has gladly allowed this space on her blog to host as many of us
who want to write about it, and so that’s what we’re going to do.
anyone who wants to think of this as fiction, I hope this is
entertaining, for that is the point of a good story anyway. But for
those of you who identify, please know that you are not alone.
"one hasn't a why or because or although
(and buds know better
one's anything old being everything new
(with a what
around we come who)
one's everyanything so"
beer. lots and lots of beer.
a slightly better internet connection to watch thursday's grey's anatomy episode and today's good wife episode.
cold drinking water.
a regular, non-squat toilet.
did i mention beer?
6 straight hours in which to sleep.
1 straight hour in which one isn't fumbling around with language.
an english newspaper.
or just roads, for that matter.
vehicles with better suspension. alcohol of any kind, really. may be wine. white.
(top of the list of things i constantly forget: doing important things is tiring work!!)
I'm currently in Chitrakoot, Uttar Pradesh. Yesterday was the last day of the Kumbh Mela. This place is about three - four hours from Allahabad, and all of these people (and many, many, many, many more) are either going to the Kumbh or waiting for a train to go back home.
There were policemen only at AC compartments, making sure people with no reservations could get in. They had lathis and weren't afraid to use them. All of the other compartments (general, sleeper, whatever) had hundreds of people in them, on them, around them, hanging from them. This picture is from 6 AM, but I was stuck in that station till 7.30 PM.
The waiting rooms (especially for reserved trains) were worse than the platforms!
It was absolute madness, to say the least. It made me ask all sorts of mean and elite questions of the Mela, but in asking these questions, it made me ask questions of myself for asking those questions.
Is all this worth it? For taking a dip in three really polluted rivers? Even at the price of going to heaven?
chain ones with outlets all over the country; small, tiny ones in which
only one person can actually fit; lovely, comfortable ones that play
the blues in a corner; beautiful bookstores for which I am willing to
visit a whole new country; bookstores with reading rooms that even F
Scott Fitzgerald used to frequent; stalls that sell second-hand books or
pirated books; vendors on footpaths with old, fraying books; bookstores
whose books only the shopkeepers can find.
You can gauge reading habits of a whole town from its bookstores, sometimes.
know that Landmark in Hyderabad has a horrible collection, but Landmark
in Madras is always rich in the books they have. Blossoms in Bangalore
is possibly my most favorite bookstore of all time. Bookstores in Delhi
are usually eclectic. They have shelves and shelves full of academic
books (neatly arranged by printing press) often just behind the section
with poetry or graphic novels. They'll have three different translations
of Marx or Dostoevsky and depending on how the bookshop owner leans
politically, he'll tell you which one to buy. (I've come across very few
women who sell books. Barring the Full Circle in GK, I can't remember a
single one). Bombay is strange about its bookstores. They're commercial
and mindless, except may be Strand when it's in a good mood. I never
found a bookstore I liked in all my time in Bombay.
Bookstores are how I find new things to
read. They are where I experiment. They open my eyes to new books,
writers, genres, ideas, styles like nothing else. I have never made a
friend in a bookstore, but I've never needed anybody's company but my
own in one. Sure, I buy more off Flipkart and Infibeam these days, but I
mostly buy books that I've already looked longingly at in a bookstore
or read parts of in a library or borrowed from someone else. And I do it
only because the discounts are amazing when I buy online.
Bookstores make me happy in any shape and form.
make me happy because I always end up looking at more books than I can
buy. (They make me sad for about the same reason). I have found the
strangest, loveliest books just browsing in bookstores. It's how I found
American Gods by Neil Gaiman (at Blossoms, was I 15?). It's how I found
Kari by Amruta Patil (in Chennai, I was bored), Em and the Big Hoom,
Hush, Sita's Ramayana (all in Yodakin while waiting for people to show
up). Spending hours and hours in bookstores with friends or cousins,
before or after or during coffee also yielded great results. I was
introduced to lots of wonderful books like this: Nick Hornby, Aminatta
Forna, Sandman (frikkin' Sandman!), Jasper Fforde. Actually, if I think
about it, that's how I spent much of my time as a kid in Walden, with my
make me happy for the smell of old paper and the promise of a new book.
I know it's a romantic thing to say and we're all against the idea of
being romantic about bookstores these days, but I don't think I'm going
to apologise for it. I love bookstores because I can get lost in them.
(Not like a library, where the book isn't yours to write your name in
and hide in your cupboard or write little notes in and stick pretty
On some days, I want happy endings the way you would picture them for me.
I want the wedding you want for me: I want silk sarees and exquisite make-up. I want diamond jewellery and special photographs. I want everyone I love from everywhere in the world to come give me a hug and tell me a joke and share my happiness. I want a tall, handsome boy from a good family who is independent and earns lots of money and whose parents are also of a similar mindset.
I want the right career as you think is right for me: I want a job that is interesting and that will pay my bills all at once. I want tenure. I want for it to allow me maternity leave. I want for it to pay for expensive shoes and mandate expensive watches. I want to have to do my hair everyday and have meetings with power-point presentations. I want to live with my husband and my in-laws and come home by 6 o clock.
On some days, I genuinely wish for a life that can conform. I don't want have to explain myself. I don't want to have to fight. I don't want to be judged for the way I am. I don't want to hear sly remarks about how my parents didn't know how to bring up their daughter right. I genuinely wish for someone to find me a boy to marry, a job in the same city as him and friends that we can share.