Dec 21, 2010

Earthy smell.
Rain.
Pitter patter.
Tip toe.
Wet.
Muddy.
Grin.
Kick.
Bow.
Eyes shut.
Soak it in.

Of Hostels, Morning P.T & Headside Partners

Rishi Valley was one of the best things to have happened to me and the experience sure taught me a lot.There are too many lessons learnt and too many memories taken from the place and its people. It would be untrue to say that all the memories were good, but still, even the bad ones helped me become who I am today. But the times have changed and I am no longer the person I was in school. Change is a constant and accepting that was hard but something the experience at school allowed me to do. It taught me how to be strong while allowing myself to feel weak sometimes, how to be independent but to also let some people in who one can depend on. It made me see friends in teachers, beauty in Nature, simplicity in living. But most of all, it made me believe in myself.

The world is one big masquerade ball and everyone uses it as an excuse to pretend, disguise, deceive. As long as you can walk out of there as the same person who entered, you’re safe.
I still remember my first day there. Sarita Akka, the Houseparent of Green House, in her loud and jolly way welcomed my mother and me. She helped bring in the suitcase and showed me around the house. A while later, Priya walked into the house with her parents and gave me a confused and lost smile. We were the two fresher girls in class 9 and we would have to stick up for each other in this new way of life=

The new way of life was not bad at all. I had Trisha for my ‘headside partner’ and the two of us turned our heads to each other and hit it off the first night itself. She did surprise me in the morning though, when I found her sleeping on the ‘cool’ floor because it had been too hot to sleep on the bed. Every time I think about her, Casablanca’s ‘I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship’ come to mind. Over time, others went from ‘acquaintances’ to finding out that they were ‘classmates’ and eventually, became ‘friends’. Boarding schools have a strong feeling of a community. Teachers become friends, friends become family, boys become girls. If you were wondering, the last part of that sentence implies that one can’t differentiate between a guy friend and a girl friend because you treat them both as just ‘friends’, regardless of the gender. Of course, the hostels are well demarcated between the two genders, and that keeps things under control.

One thing that cannot be controlled is the paper chatting during boring classes and during Prep, an hour of supervised studies every evening before dinner. Someone writes something down, nudges the neighbour and asks to pass it to the receiver, who is usually sitting quite far away from the receiver. The middlemen get annoyed quite fast and the paper chatting comes to a halt. A little secret: some people would hide the grub that parents brought during visits in their desks, which they would unlock during Prep and munch away at the back of class. Those were the best Preps and such risks were taken only when a not-so-strict Supervisor was in charge.

Sports was one of the biggest things I had going for me during my time in school. After the first few weeks of complaining, I got used to waking up for PT at 6 in the morning and jogging for long distances. It didn’t help that in my previous school, I had done no stamina building activity. I would just be pleased that I could make it back to the field in one piece after each jog. Handball season was around the corner and they needed players. I gave it a shot and it turned out that being a ‘wing’ was my forte! In my four years there, the games ground became a place I loved being at, be it while playing tennis with Marker on the tennis courts, being goalie for 4th standard kids trying to play football, playing volleyball with a bunch of teachers and juniors, or even for sipping on hot tea and watching the basketball matches against the big uncles from nearby ‘schools’. Before Sports Day, my Economics teacher and I would go jogging round the 200 m path, in preparation for the 5 km jog that we intended to take part in. I came 2nd in girls for two consecutive years in that event thanks to the practice sessions with Rajan. Another big help in bringing out the runner in me that I discovered in class 11 were the stamina building sessions with Siddhartha Mennon, my English teacher/Class Teacher/Stamina Building Coach. Because of the compulsion to partake in sports in the school, I gave every sport offered by the school a shot. I even tried basketball despite my useless height and would be overjoyed when I was not picked last. A spirit of sportsmanship was developed and nurtured, which can now only be fed by going to a gym. The football field, the volleyball courts, the jogging paths, the uphill runs faded away and the gym, its make-do ‘replacement’ did not even earn itself a comparison to the pleasures of those open air, beautiful sports arenas...

Dec 16, 2010

My Yearly Affair With Winter

Christmas is right around the corner and the chill in the air envelopes me almost like a hug as I welcome Winter.
 I love these two guests who visit every year around this time! Christmas is always punctual and arrives at the same date, but Winter, who loves chilling, comes whenever he feels like. He is forgiven, however, because he never fails to bring a smile to my face. I get to go shopping for new warm clothes and take out my woolen sweaters and all the jackets from the cupboards.
 I forgot to mention-he can be quite a sleaze! He'll come very close and blow his cold breath into your ears, on your neck, all over. This is just the reason why the warm, thick extra layers must adorn your body and tempt him. But other than that the occasional flirting, he is decent. He visits for around two months a year, and thanks to him, bonfires,the badminton games, garam chai, pakodas, and glasses of brandy in the evening become a frequency.
With these in your life, could you really complain about this visitor,regardless of however long he intends to stay?
With other guests, maybe.
Not this one. ;)

Dec 8, 2010

I wonder why 'Jangli Maharaj' Road is called that.

Dec 5, 2010

Reality bites

There are some things you just know and some things that you think you know. Life can be such an elusive bitch sometimes...

The unsure became sure, the nervousness found different reason to exist, the smiles were extracted from her face more easily than in her entire past. He just had a certain way; a certain touch. She had given it her all, but apparently, even that's not enough, nowadays. There are certain things about a man that truly are beyond a woman's comprehension. This is not new and has always been the case, but some people just never learn.

It changed because it was supposed to. Or was it? Supposed to and meant to be became two of the most amusing phrases she knew and she could no longer fathom why people would believe in fate, soulmates, true love, destiny...

There are those things you think you know as a reality but then again, reality bites.

Dec 4, 2010

Of Life Changing Devices and Chocolate Cakes



Someone once said “Inside some of us is a thin person struggling to get out, but they can usually be sedated with a few pieces of chocolate cake.” For a very long time in my life, I was sedated by those slices of chocolate cakes. And hot chocolate fudge. And tiramisus...Then, Papa brought home something that was to change his life-a n Aerofit 835 treadmill. I disliked the idea of it in the house for the first month. I made sure it did not feel welcome. I sat in front of it eating a plate full of french fries and smirked. It would not get me! It would not make me stop my daily unhealthy consumption of oily, sweet foods. Those were my life. Not 'THIS'!


But wonders never cease, do they? I had seen my brother's beer belly vanish since he started running on the treadmill for 45 minutes a day. He said he ran 10 kilometers a day and had never felt better. After all the spite I had shown that machine in front of my family, I'd be embarrassed to try it in front of them, especially since they would definitely give me the 'I-told-you-so' look, which I hated.


One Saturday evening, when they had stepped out with the entire jing bang of cousins for drinks, I slowly walked up to it. My keds were on, my shorts did nothing to cover the humongous thighs, and my t-shirt was ill-fitting. I stepped onto it and put the time to 5 minutes. My feet were walking on a machine involuntarily. I increased the speed from the default 4 to a 6.5 . By now, it was almost a little jog. I knew that my breathing was wrong and I consciously started working on that. It felt good now. Jogging on the spot but knowing that you are covering great distances. The speed was now 8 and I was running and feeling the extra flab jiggle around and that made me want to really push myself.


It felt so good.
I needed this.
My body needed this.
I gave in.
I was hooked.


My first wise choice made (voluntary or involuntary) after the many years of deciding whether to have the chocolate mousse or the blueberry cheesecake...

This entry was for the 'Your Life Changing Device' contest.
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Dec 1, 2010

Habits & Habitats

The smoke in their hand, a sign of strength,
The alcohol high once a week, a must.
Their morals are not in the least bit bent,
On their conscience, they lay full trust.

The breed of this kind are made to go far,
Their attributes, too long to list.
You might find them at a disco or a bar,
Or on a hillside in the mist.

What they do there is another story-
Weed, Cigarettes, cocaine and acid.
Constantly finding new forms of glory,
New found ways of being placid.

A look at him and you would know that he is one,
The tattoos, piercing, red eyes, et al.
He’d get the money because he was Mr Rich’s son,
Mr Rich, unaware of his inevitable fall.

But having a boy like him for a son is a boon,
How precious and thoughtful and kind he is.
He’d make you feed him out of golden spoon,
And then curse you under his breath and give you a kiss.

It must be cool to smoke a joint,
It must be fun to screw up.
I am not even trying to make a point,
Just thinking of the world in which I grew up.

Nov 26, 2010

Help?!

“If you want to be truly selfish, help someone”

It sounds like a strange quote at first glance, but if one looks closely, there is a lot of truth in it. If I, for example, help someone, I will be the one feeling good and possibly, experiencing a change within me. More than the effects that it has on the receiver of help, a selfish person can find solace in the fact that his/her own interests have, in fact, been furthered.

A big company carries out its Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programme to its best ability. A few hundred more trees have been planted in the company’s name in an industrial area and hence, the company’s image is being built. Isn’t that the motive to help out, rather than the legalities and the evident formality to have a CSR department? After all, let’s face it-there is no unselfish good deed!

[Disclaimer: This is just a take on the quote. It may or may not reflect the author’s opinion on the matter]

Senseless Rhymes

She tried, she tried, with all her might
To put on her old pants, now tight,
Gave up after putting up a very good fight,
Not blaming her weight but increasing height.
..............................................................................
Little Suzy wanted to eat a peach:
A peach high up on a tree, out of her reach;
Disappointed, she went and sulked on the beach,
Where her blood got sucked by a scary leech.
.............................................................................. 
To the trainers of big, wild bears,
Do brush their hair, though they don’t care!
On my chairs they sit, fart, and shed their hair,
To do such a deed, how do they dare?
 ..............................................................................
On and off, up and down,
Of such opposites, who wears the crown?
A greyish death, a shitty brown,
Adjectives have scope to cover so much ground!

Counting the minutes

Forty eight more minutes to cut in this office,
Today’s 432 others have passed.
My head feels light, light as the clouds,
For my brains can no longer process a thought.

A dry day in the truest sense of the word-
The cold dry air of the AC dried my skin,
No juices or coconut water consumed,
No mind games or work to tickle my brain,
That vestigial organ, that resides in my head.

The wall to my left,
To me has been kind
The only solace of the day-
As I lean on its broad shoulders offered to me,
It, with no complaint, takes my weight.

I am ready to leave, ready to sleep,
To go out and face the world-
Catching a cab that will take me home
Will be the world’s greatest adventure, untold.

Nov 23, 2010

I keep going on diets from time to time. Why don't I give up? Because I'm determined and wont let anything stop me...

Except food.

:)

Urban Shots: My first book launch


Imagine yourself standing in a crowded bus, trying hard to look out of the window to catch ephemeral glimpses of the street lights, of busy roads, of traffic jams. You are in the midst of it all, brushing shoulders with strangers who have their own stories to tell. This book is that window in the bus, giving you an insight into the fictional or non-fictional lives of others.

That's a short excerpt from the foreword that I wrote for an anthology of 29 short stories by 13 Indian authors titled 'Urban Shots'. The book can be found/bought here, the main site of the publishers, Grey Oak.

On the 19th of November, I held a copy of this book in my hand at Oxford Book Store, Calcutta (can't say Kolkata because this one's been around for too long and the Chai Bar and set-up to sit and read still reeks of the Calcutta I grew up in). The book was launched along with the publisher, Ahmed Faiyaz's book, Another Chance. The book launches across India were either focusing on Another Chance or Urban Shots. The Calcutta one was on Another Chance. But I was a panelist for this launch in a conversation between Ahmed, Mrs Arpita Chatterjee, who did a dramatic book reading, and myself. The poster for this event is here: (They screwed up Ahmed's book's name. There's no 'The' before Another Chance)

I never thought that the first book launch I would attend in life would be my own. There was a lot of unease before the event and in the part where I had to decide what to wear. Finally, I settled for a black simple kurta with jeans, the image of a college goer. Simple and smart. Besides, black hides the fat! When the event started, I did the moderation of the discussion and different angles on urban relationships were brought up. Talking into the mike in front of an audience (that had many smiling supportive family members and friends) was interesting. This was not a school assembly on Dream Theatre or a little girl dressed as a fairy singing We Wish You A Merry Christmas in CSC's Christmas Fancy Dress/Talent Show Competition. This was a grown up girl, speaking her mind about the topics concerned. I even gave my input in the question-answer session.

The most fun parts were:
1) Drinking the water from the glass kept in front of me during the discussion. Silly, but felt great!
2) Signing the copies bought by the people attending. Mummy's was the first I signed and the whole thing felt real only when I saw that smile on her face. She deserved my first autograph. She and Papa were the reasons why I was there facing an audience rather than being one in the audience. They let me pursue my own dreams and write, even if it wasn't the best paying option for a future (Still not sure about the future, though. Working on it). In the copies, I could write whatever I wanted and my friends and cousins would have to buy it! I did! 

Fingers crossed that there will be more such book launches in the future. When I mailed my Head of Department about the experienced, his one line made it feel even better-"This is the kind of 'high' that I preach about."

Nov 21, 2010

Kamale Kamini

These are a few photographs from a dance recital called 'Kamale Kamini' on the banks of the Hooghly River in Calcutta that I saw this evening. The performance took place on a barge while the audience had to stand at the bank, which was quite far from the barge! The concept of this entire event on this beautiful winter evening on the night of Kartik Purnima was brilliant! Here they are: (no captions)




Nov 20, 2010

Thoughts of a baron

"Americans came into the land 500 years ago. They carried a gun in one hand and the Bible in the other. They killed the native Americans and enslaved the Blacks. That's how they got free land and free labour. That is why they are rich. That is why they are now a super power."
---Lord Diljit Rana,
Baron of Malone in the County of Antrim

The lines mentioned above were spoken by Lord Diljit Rana, Baron, Ireland, in a conversation about how America became a superpower. The words have been carefully picked and combined and show how it had exploited its own people for furthering the selfish interests of a few, and even thrown out the weaker sects of society rather than bridging disparities between them and the ‘powerful’ class.  Did their means truly justify their ends? Is it self-sustaining or even sustainable in the long run? Just some afterthoughts after hearing this line from him.

Denial

An opportunity at hand can definitely be an opportunity denied.
There are many occasions in life when one seeks something, gets an opportunity to further it and reach that 'something', but soon enough, for one reason or the other, that 'something' is taken from them. It is pitiable and we read about such stories day in, day out but the truth of its denial sticks.

The 98 percent-er 'could have' put in more number of hours of study a day and topped. But she didn't. She slacked off in her own eyes and lost self-determination to push herself for those 2 extra hours a day. She did not give up because that would not let her have come to the podium that she was standing on today. But she used those two hours a day to talk to her new found love, a classmate with whom she communicated only via the Internet and through glimpses caught from the first row in classes. Opportunities lost, Opportunities found.

Like many others of her age, she wanted to do something big and make a change in this tumultuous world. She allowed herself to believe that working in an NGO might further this. She got two great opportunities. She could work at the grassroots with the people infected by the diseases of urban life, deprived of resources because their urban counterparts took it all for themselves. She needed to do this. She wanted to, but was being unable to do so. Her father did not want her to mingle with the womenfolk, children, and especially not the HIV patients in those villages, who the NGOs were trying to help. 
A thousand children would not receive her help because she was his only child. 

Nov 13, 2010

Best Unsaid

The lack of resemblance with his parents would puzzle others but not him. There was a sense of peace within, stemming from the fact that he had unique looks. He was not one to yearn for attention, though he remembered getting plenty of it from them. Good manners, respect for elders and women, and politeness were just a few among the many values that he had inculcated in growing up. The environment was always full of love and the few unreasonable demands that any child makes were granted to him. He was never allowed to feel alone and if something bothered him, they were there. The feeling of resentment towards his parents' words and actions was incomprehensible even while peers around him cursed theirs with no shame.

A woman sat in a corner of the slum in a city far from where the boy lived. Life had not been kind to her as was evident from her tattered saree, the hole in her blouse, the unkempt hair, the scars. One man after another had used her body to find momentary peace in and left her with small packets of money. It helped her survive but that survival was one of disgust and remorse. Hurling abuses at passersby, she cried. Was it on that day or the next that her son had been born into this world? The father, a past lover, had showed her dreams of a home, of security, of love.

But those dreams had been baseless and were soon shattered because of his lust for alcohol. The beatings were especially unbearable on those nights that he had had a bad day at the farm. On the day she told him about the life that she was bearing inside her, the demon in him came out. His bloodshot eyes told her that the life in her and hers may not see the next day. She ran to the kitchen as he came after her and found the knife its target. Bemused by her move, she ran out of his little hut and fled. A temple in a village far from hers took her in without questioning why this pregnant woman had no other home.

He was born in a tiny village hospital without proper medical aids. She held the life that she had just given birth to in her arms. The tiny hands needed a hand to guide him and she knew that she did not have the strength or financial capacity to do that. She had to be fair to him. She had to give him the future that she could not have. She had to let him live his own dreams and face his own nightmares. She let him go...

Nov 11, 2010

All that matters

Coffee takes his place in your life once again. There is the morning dosage as well as the large dosage at night. Before you sleep. Sleep? Quite a forgotten concept.Foregone. Though Sleep does try and seduce you every now and then. Lure you to use her to her fullest capacity. But you must resist. And besides, Coffee hates Sleep and vice versa. They cannot stay in the same room. And you can thank Nature for that.

Swimming and Horses plays on the laptop near me. A curse is uttered. For just how good the song is! So good that you are just tempted to lie. And wish to forget all that you know so far. Forget and just be. Understand the moment. Not give that examination that will add/subtract to/from your future. The numbers, the B+s, the cramming. However important it may seem right now, it won't matter in the end. When you find the secret to living contently, the perfect song, or how to make your mother laugh like a child again, you'd know what does... 

Nov 6, 2010

Festivities

Nov 5, 2010

Diwali in Bangalore


There could be an escapist angle to this trip too but more than anything, it's the need for a change of scene. As much as I love Nila, Megha and Varsha, I needed time apart from people in general. From the room where I could do what I wanted for the upcoming week to a space that I had to try to take mine while abiding by certain norms. It worked. Things can go really wrong when one ponders more than is required. And besides, my true love, Hot Chocolate Fudge from Corner House beckoned me. It even wrote me a love letter recently asking me to come visit. Couldn't resist. So there I was, asleep on the flight before it even took off, and soon paying 900 bucks to get to my aunt's place.

It felt nice seeing her face and meeting my other aunt (s) and cousins. The sad part was that the workload followed me till here and that my laptop was being used to compile module notes rather than watch movies on. However, the Gilmore Girls obsession started soon after the notes were submitted, much to my delight. Season 4 episode 19/22 is where I am. Ahhh! Such is life. Sujay, Trisha and Sreeja were highlights of my trip! Also, Shubham with his driving me back home. Hot Chocolate Fudge featured in all of the above! And the shopping...Cruel as it may be to one's pocket, it is not as bad as I thought it was. Jeans, Shampoos, four tops, 3 pairs of chappals, banana chips, filter coffee, Subway, Pasta with Deepika Padukone consuming wine behind me. All very nice! No guilt :)

The place is warm but cold. Home is home. This is a home away from home and the warmth from the diyas at home can't be matched up to. But this is good. It IS still family. And that's what brought me here.

Happy Diwali, whoever ends up reading this post! :) May you have a bright and cracker-free safe Diwali!

Nov 3, 2010

Eyes that know

I love this one. No particular reason.

Nov 1, 2010

Growing Up

This is an excerpt from my essay titled 'Growing Up' that will be featured in a book called 'Strangers' by Ahmed Faiyaz:


The frivolous, carefree time in one's early years eventually turns into an enigmatic, tumultuous process that you live out. That process is commonly known as 'growing up'. Becoming an adult is not something everyone looks forward to, tempting as it may sound. You are sitting alone in a corner in your verandah, holding a drink in one hand and your lover in the other arm. The falling rain is only a distant sound because you are deep in thought about how this is what you had always hoped for - love, money, happiness. Or is it just a part and parcel of the bigger picture?

There is an inwardly laugh and you realize that though this may be THE ultimate life, your mind as a child had painted a completely different painting of what these terms would mean. For a boy, it might have meant that he would be a top cricketer, earning plenty of money, and having a wide choice of good looking girls (probably his own female fan following) to pick his girlfriend (not wife) from. For a girl, it might have been that she would be a respected businesswoman and be financially independent and loaded, with a 'cute' boyfriend who loved her. Such were the silly dreams, while the reality then was that the two genders hated each other. 

The I-Hate-Boys phase came when we read the books that told us that boys ate snails. Eventually, you grew up and realized that though each boy was worse than the other in terms of the number of snails consumed, that number could not prevent you from having feelings for some of those snail-eaters. The game, Ghar Ghar (role-playing of being in a married household) that one would play with their family friends only turned out to be an enactment of what you hoped would reflect in your future. The dressing up, cooking for the one you love, the pretend babies that you looked after with your fake husbands... It is all too embarrassing when one truly realizes the potential of his or her imagination. The wastefulness of your resources would now make you cringe.



Read the rest of the essay here.

The Man On The Hill

Hard hitting Sun parched the back,
Yet he sat in a state of imposed ecstasy
The inhaled smoke creating that momentary high in the mind,
The music in the air brought in the Desert Rain.

From afar he came, to feel the rays,
To delve into himself in all its truths,
To breathe the easy air and sway,
To live amidst the passion of Nature.

Gleams reflected off the surface,
The winding road to where he sat seemed like a python.
Many had sat at the very spot before him
Living the moment in whichever way they could.


Oct 31, 2010

Ladybug

O! Creature of the grass,
Arise and show thy red and black spots
That you gained from the fire and the smoke,
From the lands that you once tread!

Penned with numb fingers

My numb fingers took the pen out of my reliable red jhola. The auto ride to the Shivajinagar Railway Station at 6 a.m had been enough to freeze my ears and nose momentarily. I cursed Winter under my breath for finally having arrived, though inwardly smiling that it had. A resolution was made not to sleep in till noon henceforth, and also to utilize the waking hours in Pune better.

The oversized purple sweatshirt gave little warmth but I thanked my roommate for reminding me to carry it at least, even if the need did not arise in the day. Better something on the back than nothing! Remember the fate of the person who could hear the whistle blow 500 miles away?

It was odd not to see a crowded station like the Howrah station in Calcutta, where at daybreak or nightfall, crowds were never a scarcity. Other than the general want for people though, the Indian Railway Station scene was pretty much the same-a few school boys awaiting the train, the chaiwalla, the occasional man crossing the tracks, the station residents/refugees lying down on the benches with their scanty blanket and monkey caps, that only revealed their eyes and nose to the passersby...

Oct 27, 2010

:o

The sweat drips from your forehead,
The muscles feeling loose,
The pain surging within you
The position you can choose.
The varying speeds and intensities
With time will pleasure you...
Till then you can inhale-exhale,
And enjoy whatever you do.
The gentle moan fills the air
And then the gasp for breath
You finish off the job you took up
Satisfied with the progress made.
Gyming is fun!

Oct 26, 2010

Experimentation with homeopathy

As a child, there had always been a fascination for homeopathy, scientifically defined as 'a form of alternative medicine in which practitioners use highly diluted preparations'. To me, it was the tasty cure for a stomach ache or headache, without the painful ordeal of having to swallow a tablet like Disprin or Pudin Hara, a tough thing to do at the time. The septicemia attack when I was 8 or 9, however, accustomed me to the art of tablet taking and since then, drips and tablets don't bother me.

So there I was, a child bored during her summer holidays, not sure of how to spend her time. Since school was out, there was no faking illnesses either, something that every child would look forward to doing every morning. Mummy rarely bought my 'tummy aches because of the bad cheese in the previous dinner's pizza' or 'headache because of excess swimming the previous evening'. A pity, because some of those excuses would actually sell if I had sold my brilliance with better marketing skills!

Either way, on one summer afternoon, I decided to take on a course of homeopathy for a month. I made sure that Mummy was asleep and Papa was in the office, for it felt slightly silly doing what I was. I took out the box of Glucon-D from the cabinet and cut out blank papers into small rectangles. Each tiny rectangle had to be given the same dosage of the 'delicious white medicine', which would prevent me from anything and everything that could fall sick. I could not afford to fall sick that summer, since big things were happening for me-the summer swimming camp which meant consuming a plate of masala chips after every session, the arts and crafts summer camp, and more importantly, the mental preparation for entering middle school on the next floor in the schools building!

There was a lot of concentration devoted to this job that I had undertaken, and exactly one teaspoon of Glucon-D was put into each paper. Then, it was neatly wrapped in a four-fold manner into a smaller rectangle. There was one rectangle to be consumed after every four hours (of my being awake in  a day). And since this was approved by no doctor, it had to be done on the sly. And so, the medication began its course.

No one did get to know of my medication, and wonders never cease, I actually don't remember falling sick that summer! I would pat myself everyday on the shoulder and say, 'Good going, Dr Kejriwal!' 

Oct 24, 2010

The Familiar

She stepped out of her bathroom in the fresh new pink towel wrapped around her body. The curls of her hair were even more defined when wet. The water dripped down her back, one drop at a time. She drew the curtains in the room and started drying herself. A tiny puddle was beginning to form on the floor. She did not care. She was conscious of the eyes the eyes that would be on her. She looked into the mirror and felt his stare, though no one lay on the bed to make eye contact with.The clothes that she would wear lay pressed on a bed in a neat stack. One by one, she put them on. She brushed out the knots from her curls and applied the kajal under her eye. She stared back hard at herself in that reflecting surface that showed her who she was. The pink kurta was of a deeper shade than she would admittedly wear out, but it suited the skin tone. She put on the earrings. She wore the chappals. Heels were not her thing. She stepped out of her home, bought a pack of cigarettes, and got into the auto.

The place was not the same. The feeling wasn't the same. The names of the items on the menu would be the same, but the taste would never be the same. She sat there on that same table, quietly sipping on the glass of vodka that was mixed with Coke. The worst combination, for some. But she sipped. Silently absorbing the music of the space. Absorbing the once felt excitement inside her.

The vodka was soon over. The dues were paid. She stepped into the ladies bathroom and caught a glimpse of herself in the mirror. She looked different. Perhaps it was the alcohol. Perhaps it wasn't.

Heart in Heart

You hope and yearn for it to all come back
But heart in heart you know what it lacked.
You try to convince yourself of its end being true,
But the cause and effect, you cannot construe.
It may be a while before you feel it again,
You just need to wait, and watch out for when.

Oct 22, 2010

The smile changed

She could not see herself in his eyes
She could not spell out the confusion in her mind
She would not smile the same smile again.
He would not even care
For he had stopped bothering
Stopped living to see that smile a long time ago

Oct 19, 2010

Dear Blank, Please Blank-my contribution

Dear Gas Cylinder,

You can actually kill someone by letting out too much gas! 

Sincerely, the not-so-deadly fart

Oct 14, 2010

Unsaid

He can lay his whole world on me and I will gladly look after it.
The you and me is now us and to that world,somewhere I belong.
The times, the hours with him, the best ever,
I cannot express it in words.
But my smile, as I reminisce,
Is enough to tell me what those unsaid words would.

Oct 13, 2010

College Lectures

Not a word makes sense-
Oblivion IS bliss.
My inability to pay attention
Will redeem me free.

Carefree

Her prying innocence could not be blamed
Her fortunate self had been spared the shame;
Noone would point a finger,
Noone would raise a hand,
Scotch-free, she'd walk the roads like a carefree child.


Oct 12, 2010

Home


They say that home is where the heart is. It is the place where one feels like he/she belongs and can find a comfort in being there. Four walls, a floor, and a roof over the head is what they say makes a home. But that is only the socially accepted definition of it. This photograph depicts ‘home’ to the man shown above. His home’s flooring may be of gravel; the disfigured sofa in the living room may be his bed; the cycle behind him in his garage may be his means of transport. But he has shoes to adorn his feet, clothes to cover his back, a blue box-like room that may be claustrophobic but has nice windows to pride as his own. He has the air he breathes to be grateful for, the road he can walk on to gain hope from, the emotions of pain, joy, hope, and struggle that he can experience to feel thankful for.

There are many in this world who have none of this-disabled people who have no arms, legs, ears, eyes to feel with and take the support of; people who have felt so much emotion that they can no longer feel; people from denotified tribes who have no land to call their own; people who are framed and imprisoned for no wrong doing of theirs and the four walls and roof around them are really not what they want to call ‘home’. The community factor comes in here and one can say that this is not the case of one man or woman alone but there are whole communities that live like this. There is a culture that is born within a slum and a certain way of life becomes accepted there, though other parts of society would not think the same way and like the same things. The tastes differ based on the environment that people grow up in and live in.

Let us take the example of the man in the photograph. He could have been from a well off family and under certain circumstances, was forced to take to the streets. He could have grown up in a slum and had skewed values (according to societal norms) and got into alcohol and stealing and sent to juvenile jail. He could be anyone. He represents humanity. He represents the past, present and future. He is society. It’s only his story that makes him different from another individual. Such is life. Such is society and the world around us. 

Oct 10, 2010

The magic of food

In our grandparents' days, meals were so simple and innocent...A conversation between my Nani and Nana took place over dinner:
Nana(whispers into my ear): Now I'll get my ice cream and she'll ask for a little bit and eat 90% of it, leaving me with the 10% like she's doing me a favor! 
Nani(notices the whispering): I know he's telling you that I eat his food. On the other hand, when I am ordering something, he'll say No a good ten times. When the dish arrives, he'll agree to 'try' it and finish it off.
Nana(waiting to see if Nani returns the bowl): See, I told you she'll eat it all up! I'm going on becoming slimmer and she's just getting fatter. :)
It was just delightful seeing them this way. It was so young and childlike. It's a nice concept to wait till the husband gets back from work and eat with him, for the girl to cook(once in a while!), to eat something that you didn't order but want from your partner's plate...Food really does have some magic to it! 

Now or never

A sense of guilt surged through him-
The unwanted thoughts too heavy to push aside
The pain caused, weighing down on him.
A good punch or two even, would serve no good
Too petty compared to his deed.
Stopping himself had not even crossed his mind.
But an end had to be put.
Better now than never.

Oct 5, 2010

Addiction

I want out.
I want in.
There's nowhere seemingly safe.
I know it's happening,
I even know where!
But my feet fall back with every try.
Every attempt I make to crawl back to it fails-
The dismay is followed by pain.
The mental displeasure,
The physical aches,
There's really no going away.

Sep 23, 2010

Morning Coffee

One could call it anything they want. But it wouldn't matter. When she woke up in the morning and felt his arm around her waist, she smiled. Almost in roleplay of a married couple or one in preparation of what was to come, he demanded that she went and got him his morning cafe. The newspaper was amiss. He sure did have the right to ask this of her. And though she complained and stuck her tongue out at him at the demand, she smiled inwardly. And obediently went and got the coffee in a tray, holding it with shaking hands. There was something really beautiful in this. She asked him how many spoons of sugar he wanted and put those many. They sat on their porch and drank their individual cups of coffee. Strong. Wonderful. Very sweet. The coffee, that is :)

She

She lay on her bed and stared at the ceiling. There was a feeling of shame and guilt at the same time. She knew she had to be strong but knew not how. There was an embarrassment that flooded her mind. She was afraid of looking at herself in the mirror. Her breathing was much too fast for her own liking. She wanted to jump in anger, though unaware of why she wanted to do that. It was not 'jumping in excitement' and the desire to do so made her doubt herself even more. She was unsure of things that were happening around her because her reality had been shifted. The gravity under her had been seemingly moved. She tried to shut her eyes and sleep it away but that was impossible for the images would flood her mind, without her consent. She just lay there staring up...

Sep 21, 2010

Sign language

I stood there devouring the puchkas. He came there when I was halfway through the first plate and stood next to me. A thirty-something man with a checked shirt and formal pants. He might have been craving those puchkas since morning but had been stuck at office. There was an eagerness to him. His eyes probably met the puchkawala's for he was given a plate to hold. I told the puchkawala that I wanted one more plate of those delicious, sinful round puffed puris with the potatoes and spices and the seemingly dirty but excellent pani. I saw the man next to me turn to look at me and seem to be shocked. A girl's appetite is not supposed to allow 2 plates of puchkas is probably what he thought. We started getting the puchkas on our plate. After the first one, the man pointed to the water container. In his next one, he got a puchka with much more water. I was oddly fascinated and I think it showed, because he looked at me and frowned. I frowned as well, but more because of confusion than anything.

After we finished eating, he gave a 50-rupee note to the puchkawala. He was told that there was no change. He went to the kulfi stall close by and showed the man the note, and made a sign with his hands to ask for change. It was something like a cutting motion. On receiving the change, he smiled and nodded with gratitude. He came and paid the puchkawala and walked away. The man was mute. Not shy, not snobbish. Mute. Special. Lucky, in his own way. I thought about people on my walk home and looked at those who passed me. I realized that enough and more can be said by sign language, through gestures, through the eye, through hand movements. If something has to be communicated, there will always be a way.

Sep 18, 2010

The Waterfall

Like people, it has two faces-the brute side of nature being a part of the fast-flowing violent course of a river. Or perhaps, something that calms you down as you see the layers that the water falls in if you stand still and track its flow.
You throw in a coin and make a wish.
The denomination does not matter because it is simply the giving up of something that is yours to Nature. You see the shimmer from atop as the coin awaits the flow of the water to consume it and allow it to begin its journey.
And then, the reflection is gone.
The coin is taken into the depths of the water, mixed with the soil, and accepted as an offering of something made my Man to Nature. A token of appreciation for all that it has to show you.
We are all like the waterfall-playful at times, wild and violent at others. Exploring the course that the river of life is taking...

Sep 17, 2010

The Winding Road

The winding road he took.
He could not be sure of what lay ahead.
He never saw it coming.
He did not regret.

Vice vs Vice

Two months without one,
The best day with the other.
How good they both can make you feel,
You remember in rainy weather.

One becomes your vice and you keep it at bay,
The other, a life, that is here to stay.
While one is rejected, and you have gone astray,
Welcome the other with a smile on each new day!

Alone

It's something that you would have felt at some time or the other in your life. The only time that you wouldn't have felt it would have been when you were truly attached to your mother with an umbilical cord; i.e.biologically not alone.
But in the everyday reality of your existence, being alone is a part. A major or minor part, but there. It is an inevitable feeling with or without your acknowledgement of it. But that does not change the existence of the feeling when you are locked up in your room or at a social gathering with a bunch of familiar faces but none that you can relate to.
That is not to say that it is necessarily a bad thing if someone feels alone. It is a much needed way to sanity in crazy,tumultuous times. It is in an escape route when the world seems to be gaining in on you. It can lead to a creative expression of one's thoughts. In Ruskin Bond's words, Loneliness is a vital part of an artist's creativity.
It is what it is. Writing about it doesn't make the empty spaces go away, doesn't help gain control of the feeling.
The world spins madly around you but you are still. You are not swept away by the wave. Your frequency does not match with anyone else's.
So be it.

Sep 13, 2010

From a Railway Carriage

You're allowed to, and more like supposed to be excited before a train journey, right? And I was. That was before I got onto the train and found my place-the upper side berth, Seat no 24, the lower occupants of which was a couple who chose to block everyone's view by keeping the curtains drawn the whole time. That meant that I could not sit down till my co-passenger wanted to sleep. I felt betrayed by the railways. I could not watch the trees and fields and scarecrows pass me by as I would when I was younger. 


R.L.Stevenson's poem, 'From a Railway Carriage', with its hills and mills and the wonderful line 'Each a glimpse and gone forever!' was always something I remembered on any train journey I had made since the day I studied the poem in the school days. I could not keep to my seat for the whole journey. I was determined to watch life pass me by in the form of blurry moving images. Sitting in the compartment opposite mine was impossible since a Gujarati family of nine members occupied it. The lack of space and the picnic-like atmosphere(Yes, Marwaris are not the food obsessed ones. Not like it's a bad thing to be food obsessed. But, I'm just stating what I observed.) in that compartment was enough to not even keep that as an option. Besides, they disliked me anyway, since I refused to switch seats with them in the beginning of the journey.(In my defence, the seat they were offering was right next to the toilets that don't smell too pleasant. Also, being the first time I was travelling alone, God knows how I'd sleep close the to the door thinking about how I'd be among the first few victims of a terrorist attack if they decided to use that door!)


With gathered optimism, I searched the coach for an empty seat that I could look out of the window from. The only seat available had a family with a squealing baby. The parents must have been so immune to the torture that none of them even bothered trying to shut it up(I mean, 'make it quiet with a gentle pat on the back'). I returned to my seat, slept, woke up to loud music(decent song, though),wrote, slept again. Now is when I'm awake, amused at my situation, and writing this. Thoughts of someone have kept me going on this journey. The last few days before this journey have been so amazing for me that this journey's not being among the best in my life, doesn't even matter. 


I wish this journey involved his being here, next to me, (jokingly) cribbing about the lack of space because of my hugeness. I know that that journey will be made on another day. Maybe with a thin me. Maybe.  For now, Bill Wither's Lean on Me is getting me into a sleepy mood. On removing my earphones, I hear the happy family next to me talking about cheese dips, moving on to talks of goat cheese, and now, goat milk vs buffalo milk. 


Help! I really wish you'd been here! At least, I'd be laughing at this. Or blocking out the world around us by lying next to you. Or better still, in your arms.


Damn. Reality sucks!

Awake/Asleep


One of the things that makes life interesting is living someone else's experience in your own context. You read a book, hear stories, watch them happen...But when you become a character in the story and live it, it really is something else.

There have been many occasions where one has heard/read about the feeling you get while watching 'someone' sleep. (The inverted commas should get the point across to those who'd know what I'm talking about.) Just the simple act of observing the person as they sleep. You watch from afar, observing the slight frown on the forehead calm itself, careful of not waking the person up with a sudden movement. You watch the chest moving with each breath. You notice the little details of the face that you hadn't till then.

You smile to yourself.

You feel slightly strange because you realize that if a third person had not noticed the intertwined fingers of the two concerned individuals, he'd have taken you to be a stalker!

After a while, the person wakes up from dreams of Pokémon Red and you look away, pretending that you'd only been listening to your iPod and looking at the road in front of you the whole time...

Sep 5, 2010

The Wannabes

Lack of originality.
Inability to think for themselves.
'Going with the flow' taken too literally.
Aping.
Hypocrisy.
Lying to themselves.
They are the 'Wannabes'.
The ones who just HAVE TO follow the trends, regardless of whether it makes any sense to them personally or not. The ones who are always trying to fit in. Those who go out of the way to buy the new Ray-Ban shades that the 'cool dudes' are wearing or the tank top that all the apparently beautiful girls have adorned. What happened to the concept of beauty within? Of never judging a book by its cover? Of accepting and appreciating everybody for who they are?

Has the time arrived to say that we have entered the era of The Wannabes, who are now penetrated so deep into our social structure that their roots are already too deep to be uprooted? Is there a possible way out of this madness or will we all slowly succumb and convert? Why aren't people making a huge hue and cry about an involuntary conversion of a faith this time? Is it possible that this is not even a new concept but has always been ingrained in humanity and it is only now that it is surfacing due to circumstances? Has mankind paved its own way for disaster in the form of an army of people who, due to social facts, no longer wish to be how they are but in fact, choose to be Longfellow's 'dumb, driven cattle'?

Sep 1, 2010

Changes

For thirteen years had she walked hand-in-hand with the man,
Now, from his thoughts, she withdrew and ran.
An unexplainable loss had entered her life,
This newness would be followed by many a strifes.
Pondering over her past, she found nothing she could forget
Though these memories were things she could not beget.
She waited for the sign to let go of herself,
And when it came, her whole world finally changed.

Aug 31, 2010

The death of Santa Claus

On Christmas morning, after collecting their gifts from Santa:

"Merry Christmas, Shivam Bhaiya!" *hugs*
"Merry Christmas, Choti!"
"We won't get scolded for anything today, right?"
"What do you have in mind?" *evil grin emerging on face*
"Let's have chips for breakfast! Junk food for breakfast is the ideal breakfast."
"I love how food obsessed we can be. I'll go check in the kitchen. And we can put sauce on it, as we do with everything consumable."
...
...
...
"Choti!!!  *prolonged shriek* Come here right now!"
*running to the kitchen from the computer room where Choti was happily playing Lego Island*
"What happened? Are you all right?"
"Look what I found."
*points to the dustbin with around 30 Lays and Cheetos packets*
"It's chips! What's the big deal?"
"We got 15 tazos each as a Christmas present from Santa. Mom made us write to Santa asking him what we wanted for Christmas this year and we wrote that we wanted to expand our tazo collection so that we can exchange them in school. Do you really think the letter reached the North Pole?"
"If she said it did, then..."
"Choti..."
"You think so...?" *voice quivering*
"I think so."
"Nooooooooo. But this can't be! You mean to say that for the last few years, we've been tricked by your Mom and mine? But why?"
"I do not know. The minds of these adults works in mean ways."
"But..."
"It's OK, Chots. Jesus Christ might have been born on 25th December but Santa Claus just died."

What is 'it'?

If you hear its song, your day gets made.
Pay momentary heed to it, and then the thought starts to fade...

Aug 30, 2010

Reconnect

I feel awe, beauty, loss, confusion, simplicity. I feel reconnected to something I had lost out on for a while now. I feel at home with myself and with people around me. I feel a reestablished bond that had been broken for some time now because of distances. Distances that were bridged by man through technology. Then, he himself regretted having done so and wanted to go back to what he had destroyed. He thought that it would take him back in its giving arms, but there was too much to uncover before the arms could even be reached. Finally, he would succumb to the distance and live in that regret.

This was written about Rishi Valley when I was in Panchgani. It almost felt like I was back there. Almost.


Sunset: the connecting factor

Aug 27, 2010

A Frame of Freedom


                                          
To me, this photograph implies freedom. 
It was taken in Bangalore but it could have been clicked anywhere because this is an everyday thing. 
It happens all around us and sometimes, we even get to see this freedom up close, against our wish. 
Death is that release, that freedom that helps one let go of whatever you were clutching on to.
The false hopes. 
The norms of society.
The people who we don't want bossing over us.
The turbulent state of affairs in a country fighting for their independence.
Death frees all.
This 6-winged creature is free.
A cup of freedom, anyone?

In association with Blogadda: Frames of Freedom

Aug 24, 2010

Lonavla

Staring into this misty abyss,
The vast spreading silence excites me.
Feeling the shiver down the spine,
Experiencing the beautiful unknown.

The whites and the purples in the green,
The cloud encompassing us,
The raindrops falling on my skin,
An untouchable aura.

The beauty in the falling rain
Oh!It did move me.
Traversing the hills in the foggy morn,
In my mind, I had found peace.

Aug 22, 2010

Emoting

Emoting.
For some, it comes as easily as breathing. For some, it may be difficult but within the realm of possibilities. For a few, impossible and not even worth thinking about. There must be others who do not fall under any of the categories mentioned above and emote(or not) to different degrees..
I don't even know what I fall under. But I do emote. To a few people, at least.
Sometimes it may be a spurt of emotions. Sometimes a few words and a smile may express what I feel.
There was a time when I was even called 'overemotional' by everyone. But there were reasons. And I am glad that I could get all those feelings out of me then-in the form of conversations or tears or better still, poetry.
Then, music had become a means of self defense for me. An escape from the reality of things around. Though it may still act as that vent when I want it to, it has come to mean more to me...Much more than I'd have thought. Something I can't explain in words yet.
Today, however, for the better or worse(The answer to this would occur to me in the future when my present would be my past), I am not able to emote as I used to. I will no longer run to just any person who might be able to console me for those few minutes or who would, in all probability, pretend to relate to the emotions I was feeling at the time and provide a shoulder to cry on or just an ear to hear me out.
Now, there are very few people who I would go to when I want to be heard, who I would turn to for advice, who I would let in. This may be out of fear of being deserted or being judged. Or it might just be maturity and an ability to fight my own wars.
Or it is probably the fact that there is someone in my life who might not emote the way I do and who might not have even felt what I am feeling when I am talking to him about it, but he is there. No pretense. No lies. He comforts me, reassures me, shows me the brute realities of life, and just keeps me going. Just by being himself. And helping me be me...

Aug 15, 2010

Where I want to be

Under the gulmohur tree
Lying down on top of Cave Rock Hill
Reliving a carefree childhood swinging...
 . 
Home

Aug 7, 2010

Paint me a picture

Paint me a picture, show me all,
Use vivid colors but black for the pall.
The shades of red be extensively used,
Tone down the blues of its different hues.

Paint me a picture, show me all,
How our empire rose, despite the first fall.
Man, woman, and child, depict them true
The worst affected as the violence grew.

Paint me a picture, show me all,
Towards our enemies, we did crawl.
Bloodshed, hunger, fear and hate,
Are all that remains in this soldier's fate.

Paint me a picture, show me all,
Place it on my now bare walls.
Today, I may no longer be able to see,
But in it my son will be able to see my past, my glory.

Jul 28, 2010

The last one fell

Autumn winds came lingering on
My grandfather's tree it swayed,
The maple leaves would at dawn
Seem alive with the dull Sun's rays.

The memories of those days long gone
Filtered in and out of his disturbed mind,
He looked out the window at his lawn
In the roots,his past memories he tried to find.

One leaf remained on the autumn struck branch
Grandpa sighed and breathed his last,
The last leaf fell down in a motion like a trance
My feelings, the sky, the overcast

Yours today, mine tomorrow

I'd like to escort you to the other bank of the river but the existence of this abyss in my heart prevents me. The darkness feels cold. My emotions flow uncontrollably like this river. The tears, unstoppable. I will make the journey on another day when I am ready. I will join you on the lands you are about to explore and walk uncountable miles by your side. The past will be our present and we shall meet the others and dine with our forefathers. But forgive me for I will not make this journey today. My time shall come. I only come to bid you farewell and a peaceful journey. You shall be missed. Till the next time we meet, Goodbye.

Jul 27, 2010

Temporary Departure

Clutching on to your shoulders,
Holding the hand for as long as I could,
The taste of my tears in my mouth,
The flow that would not stop.

The emotions took over me
And I was forced to let go
Only to see you go away for a while,
Having promised me your world.

Legacy

Underlying the fear within was the deep irony of it all,
To carry the loss be the deed done today.
And tomorrow.
For years to come shall it reside in me
Thoughts so deep one could drown.
In the breathlessness of the moment,
Emerging from nowhere,
Surrounded by the graves unburied,
Conviction needed to accept it.
To bear the loss alone I am willing
For it is mine own to bear.
After the decades of rotting,the belief shattered,
The legacy left behind.
Unclaimed.
Lost in time.

Jul 20, 2010

Scents and Scentsibility

There I stood, facing my back to the paan shop that I visited as many times in a day as I felt the urge to smoke. As always, I looked around me, feeling the energies of passers-by merge with mine, each looking for their own vents...

Ramu Dada, the paan-walla sat cross-legged at his stall in a dhoti and kurta that had been yellowed with time. As his mouth chewed fiercely on a paan, the remnants of the paan that were stuck on his thick moustache also moved in synchronization. The lady in the car awaiting her paan was quite a character herself. Her facial expressions went from angst to impatience to glee as she saw her daily unprescribed dosage get prepared. The driver rushed out to collect the paan for his memsahib at Ramu Dada’s nod. Counting the money, Ramu Dada spat out the red liquid onto the street, exposing his brown teeth for the world to see. The smell of the paan got to me and I moved two steps away.

Chotu, Ramu Dada’s twelve-year-old assistant was trying desperately to light the lantern for the stall since it was almost dark. His sunburnt skin and confused face reflected innocence. This was, however, a farce because he had smoked next to me many a times, having probably stolen a Classic Mild from the box when Dada wasn’t looking. The strong smell of the burning oil filled the air as did the light emitted by the lantern.

As I bought my seventh cigarette for the day, I was distracted by legs that led up to blue denim shorts and a tight black shirt. She stood there, still an anonymous dream girl for me. Thoughts of her would occupy my head all day. Her straight hair blew in the evening wind as she gazed at the darkening sky. Her petite appearance, the twitching of her nose, her perfectly shaped eye brows, and above all, the pensive look she would bear on her face had me mesmerized. I closed my eyes and imagined the smell of her hair on my face when I would have her in my arms. I opened the eyes to my reality, stubbed the cigarette, and walked home, with the faint smell of the nicotine lingering on in my clothes…

Jul 15, 2010

It had to be you

It's just one of those feelings that you can't put away as much as you try. When you feel it, you just want to scream it out in the middle of your college cafeteria and not care about who might have heard you. You want to keep running on that treadmill feeling a surge of energy in you when you start thinking about the feeling and how much a part of your life it is. When someone asks you to define it, you look at them, smile, and shrug your shoulders. In your mind, you are hoping that they get to feel it sometime in their life as well...To get to be as lucky as you are. A candle lit somewhere brings back memories, a stress-buster ball with a smile on it unnerves you completely, a song makes you cry. That feeling, novel as it may be in one's life, is just awesome!
It had to be you...