31.3.13

why i so insanely love doctor who

"Imagine that. Human souls trapped like flies in the world wide web, stuck for ever, crying out for help."

"Isn't that basically Twitter?"

Ha. <3

28.3.13

there's nothing as something as one

Bodies are superficial.

Their 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.

I 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.

I 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.

Many people around me have their own ways of comprehending this situation. Many people with bodies (like someone else who has written about this from my own network before me) have chosen to think of it as a problem of perception: one of “maladjustment to reality”. I suppose it is a just way of classifying it from the point of view of someone who lives in a world full of bodies. To me, this is not an acceptable classification. I write here to tell you my story. If not anything else, just to present you with a new question.

I 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.

When 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.

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.

It 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.

To 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
than books
don't grow)
one's anything old being everything new
(with a what
which
around we come who)
one's everyanything so"

- e e cummings

**

this is the second in the series of stories i am writing about "imaginary" people and third in the series of stories about things that aren't real. 
the other imaginary people story is here: we're everyanything more than believe. 
the first story is here: fresh lime soda.
i'm having quite a bit of fun with this series, so you can definitely expect more of these!

17.3.13

i wouldn't mind

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?
a shower.
6 straight hours in which to sleep.
1 straight hour in which one isn't fumbling around with language.
a mojito.  
an english newspaper.
milestones.
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!!)

12.3.13

kumbh mela


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?

unmasking

we wear masks to hide, they say.

they don't know the truth.

we wear masks to become.

7.3.13

you

hate
hating
you.

6.3.13

bookstore love


I love bookstores.

Big, 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. 

I 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. (Student, okay?) 

Bookstores make me happy in any shape and form. 

They 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 grandfather.  

Bookstores 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 flags in).

Bookstores make me happy, and that's about that.

5.3.13

if i were a bukowski poem

would you like me to draw the shades, mr. chinaski?

the man with the pack
on the sidewalk in the sun
is about to disappear
and the neighbours are fighting
in their perfect home about their
perfect lives.

would you like me to draw the shades, mr. chinaski?

there's very little money
no job no love no sex
the hands of the clock
are moving slowly enough
for me to see
loneliness.
 
would you like me to draw the shades, mr. chinaski?

it's a bright sunny day
high noon
and all i want is
a shot of whisky
and some quiet.

would you like me to draw the shades, mr. chinaski?

1.3.13

happy endings

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.

On some days, happy endings are all that matter.