Baba

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I remember long, dull summer afternoons spent sitting at the dining table with Baba and Dadi. I would stare at my plate and then at my grandfather.

“What happened now?” he would ask, eyes twinkling with mild amusement as they always did when I was being troublesome.

“I can’t eat anymore. I’m too full.”

“Oh, alright then.”

He would take my plate and carefully divide the food into small, bite-sized portions. He’d point to one and say, “You know who this is?”

I would shake my head.

“Well, it’s a peacock. And it’s sad. So sad, that it’s crying.”

“Why?”

“Because you’re not eating it.”

To the mind of a six-year-old, this was an extremely sad thought. Even today as an adult, I can’t bear to leave a single grain of rice on my plate because I don’t want it to cry.

For the longest time Baba was just Baba to me. Not a college professor, not a scholar, not an academician, not an author. Even though he was all of these things and more. He grew up in poverty, walked barefoot to school with nothing but a handful of boiled chickpeas tied to a corner of the only dhoti he owned. He taught himself how to read and built a career for himself. He achieved much in his life and in our dusty little town of Agra, he was, and still, is one of the most respected souls. He was a teacher admired and appreciated by all.

But to me, he is simply the man who turned my food into little animals waiting to be eaten. He is the man who gave me an ‘inaam’ when I finished reading a hundred books. The one who read the childish stories I wrote with glee and corrected my spelling and punctuation mistakes with the reddest ink pen I had ever seen. He had done the same with Dadi many years ago, when she wrote letters to him in English. He’d read each letter, correct all her errors, and then send it back. Who does that? Being a lover and a teacher at the same time with such dedication?

As a little girl, I would tail him for hours and watch him in fascination as he melted lac sticks onto envelopes to seal his letters. I watched him enter names alphabetically in his formidable telephone directory. He had his own stamp as well. ‘Dr. SP Sahai’, it read. Shiv Pujan Sahai. Named so, because he was born only after his parents prayed to Lord Shiva in a nearby temple.

Many afternoons were spent watching him shave his coarse, white beard with a metal razor sitting under the sun. I watched him open his big book of ‘hisaab’ where he recorded each and every expense he had made in the last several years. Everything had to be accounted for. Everything needed proof. Even if it was a couple of lemons bought for five rupees. He taught me about eclipses and planets, and drew a diagram of the summer solstice to show me what he meant when he said “the days are getting longer.”

He often told me about the day of the storm. I loved listening to his retellings because of all the drama he added to it.

“It was very windy,” he’d say. “I was walking back to our old house in Soami Nagar. You were barely a year old. Just a tiny bundle of flesh wrapped up in a blanket. The wind had started picking up, and I could hear tree branches cracking and blowing towards us with full force.

I was so scared for you that day. You were so helpless, your eyes squeezed shut. There was no place to take shelter, so I just held you tightly to my chest and ran towards the house as fast as I could. I didn’t stop. I didn’t look anywhere but the road. I ran and ran until we were both safe inside the house.”

I sometimes held my breath when he spoke. I sometimes forgot to chew. I asked him to repeat that story over and over again because it made my heart grow ten times its original size. A big ball of emotion always rose in the pit of my stomach. A sudden wave of love for this old man who had lost so many “soft” teeth he had to mash his food with his fingers before he could take a bite. This lovable, harmless soul who barely had a handful of hair at the back of his head but still went to the barber regularly to get a haircut like it was the most important task in the world.

He’d remove his white dhoti and vest, and wear a crisp shirt and pants that reached up to his chest for the occasion. He never forgot to protect his head with one of his innumerable woolen caps during the winter. There were so many to choose from. The black Nehru cap with the soft fur, the grey rounded one that fit on his head snugly, the brown one that almost looked like a hat. I loved running my fingers over them and feeling their softness against my cheek. They smelled faintly of sandalwood, neem leaves and naphthalene balls.

There was a time when food wouldn’t pass down my gullet without listening to his stories during lunch. Of course, I knew all of them – even the pauses and the dialogues – by heart. But there was something so gratifying about listening to them again and again. And he never refused to narrate them a hundred, a thousand, a million times.

I loved accompanying him to buy groceries. He always chose to walk all the way to the market. “You should always keep the body moving. A still body is a refuge for disease.” I would observe as he picked up the freshest fruit while keeping a stern eye on the weighing balance before his lentils were handed over to him. On our way back, he always stopped outside the sweetshop. The smell wafting through the window was too tantalizing to be ignored. “You want barfi, is it? Come then, I’ll get you some.”

A few years later I realized that it was he who had wanted all that barfi all those times. The milky white rectangular sweet with a delicious pink layer of sugar and coconut shavings. It was our favourite. A few minutes of conversation with the shop uncle and a plastic bag full of sweets later, we’d walk back home. Baba always grabbed my hand while crossing the street, advising me to look both sides before crossing the street.

Mummy Papa were both at work during the day, so after school Baba Dadi were our babysitters, our parents and our playmates. I’d run home to them, undo my pinafore, my laminated ID badge, and run around the entire house with my red ribbon still hanging from my ponytail.

After lunch, I could do whatever caught my fancy. Run up to the forbidden ‘sloping’ part of the terrace, climb all the trees in the park next to our house, collect the prettiest Amaltas and Kachnar flowers and bring them back to Dadi so she could arrange them in her vase. Sometimes when she couldn’t handle my effervescence, she lured me with another story and I fell straight into the trap of an afternoon nap. Oh, I hated being tricked into those, but could never resist a shiny new story. My last thought before falling asleep was always this: Dadi’s eyelids looked exactly like aam papad. Mmm, I wish I could have some aam papad right now…

Every alternate day or so, Baba invited his closest friends for a game of Bridge. It was an unspoken rule to make it to each game without fail, unless there was a family emergency. Dadi would call me to serve them hot cups of tea and special homemade snacks. The pattern was always the same. Something crispy, something savoury, something sweet. I wondered how she always managed to think of something new and exciting to cook every single time.

“Chinky betaaa!” Baba would call out to me. “Come and say Namaste to the guests.”

Dadi always made me wear a nice frock, did my hair in two neat little braids and then sent me off to the ‘game room’ with a tray full of trembling tea cups. I loved greeting them, delicately placing the cups on their respective saucers, answering their questions politely.

“Gupta ji, my poti writes stories,” Baba would say. “She’s going to grow up to be a writer.”

I liked these men. I loved their calm, steady chatter emanating from the room and filling the entire house. Sometimes I would peep in, eyebrows scrunched up. I never really understood what was happening even though Baba tried explaining it to me once. It was way too quiet, even during the most interesting parts of the game. The silence was broken only occasionally by nods, quiet chuckles and monosyllabic terms. I’d get bored eventually and bury my nose into another book or laze outside in the verandah.

Many, many seasons have passed since. The Kachnar tree doesn’t bloom anymore. Baba uses a hearing aid now, and even that doesn’t seem to work most days. His skin is mostly always too dry, and has snake-like patterns all over. His eyes have sunk so deep into his skin they look like tiny, grey beads staring out of dark holes. He doesn’t stand tall anymore but walks with quiet, calculative caution. He doesn’t play bridge any longer, because a few years ago the players started disappearing, one by one, until eventually there weren’t enough left to play.

Baba is too weak to visit the market now, and he needs assistance to get simple tasks done. There’s something so incredibly vulnerable about him when he removes his dentures and presses his lips together. He often has a faraway look on his face, and his afternoon naps keep getting longer and longer. He sometimes writes the simplest of facts in his diary to keep track of the world around him. The last time I went home, he asked me where I was working.

“Bangalore, Baba” I said.

“And your sister?”

“Singapore.”

He nodded, and then silently opened his telephone directory and scribbled this on the first page:

Cheena – Singapore, Chinky – Bangalore

Baba turned ninety last month. Nine times ten. Nine decades of learning, teaching, writing, record keeping, loving, losing, breathing. Ninety years of that sturdy heart beating and beating and beating away. Ninety years of routine, relationships, and countless, countless games of Bridge. On occasion, Baba boasts of the enriching journey he has had. “We have led a great, fulfilling life. No complaints. No complaints at all,” he says and smiles faintly. I look at him, and my heart swells up to see the familiar twinkle in his eyes return.

Happy 90th, Baba. You are and always will be, the angel who saved me on the day of the storm.

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Haunted: A Poem

It’s not the meaninglessness that haunts me.

It’s the emptiness.

 

It’s the hours and hours of mindless, seamless, boundless

searching, worrying, scratching, weeping, struggling.

 

It’s watching the sun go down every day,

It’s watching the seasons change the trees,

Watching buildings rise and then wither away,

Watching people I love slowly decay,

Knowing the planet is turning and spinning,

And I’m here. I’m here. I’m here.

 

It’s all the weight.

All the weight I lug around every day.

Sometimes forgetting it’s there,

Sometimes floating away

Other times perched on a cloud,

 

But the anchor.

The anchor always pulls me back to the docks.

The diving bell always sinks me back to the sea bed.

The storm always knocks me windless.

 

And then like a dried leaf, I’m swept away by the wind again.

Adrift, and lost and directionless.

 

It’s not the lack of emotion that haunts me.

It’s the abundance of it.

The “too muchness” of it.

Too much love, too much pain, too much anger.

Too much hate, too much greed, too much apathy.

 

Too much, too little, too soon, too late.

 

You tell me I should look around and not let it

Wear me down.

But do you feel right about walking through life

With a blindfold and your imaginary crown?

 

Does it not hurt you when we turn our backs against others,

And ourselves.

When we drown all the misery of the world with the noise

Of our own happy, colourful, distracted lives?

 

I can’t do it.

I want the world to hit me right in the face,

If it means that maybe I can help. Maybe,

letting it wear me down would be less hurtful.

 

Maybe it will rile me up enough to change me.

Change us.

Shake something in us. Maybe just…. Wake us up.

 

It’s not our mortality that haunts me,

It’s the absence of life.

It’s days melting into days and not forming

A cohesive shape.

It’s the everyday battle.

The stigma, the sorrow, the guilt, the shame.

While others like us are butchered outside,

I smile through it all,

I live. I live. I live.

 

Telling myself and believing it too,

That even though we’re all made of the

Same stardust, we’re still living separate lives

In separate worlds,

Divided by invisible walls and unseen spells.

 

Telling myself that I can steer my rudderless boat into

Another direction, once I plug in all the holes.

Once I grab the oars again.

Once I am whole again.

Until then,

I breathe. I breathe. I breathe.

 

Meteor Shower

How strange is this time. Days pile up against days, float over the little joys and hurt of everyday life like flower petals in the wind. You find yourself grappling through it, immersed in the bittersweet deliciousness of it, and then suddenly, another year has come and gone.

The weather in Bangalore makes everything seem so woefully wonderful. The skies are overcast, the breeze is chilly, our fluffiest blankets are out, the roads are rain-kissed and the trees are greener. (Of course, there are madening traffic jams, flooded streets and power cuts, but I’m choosing to focus on the good stuff).

I just peeled a pomegranate and now I’m reaping the benefits of all the hard work and the stains on my T-shirt. Sometimes talking about the banalities of life is fun, isn’t it? In other good news, I finally visited the planetarium since its renovation. I felt like a kid again, sitting up and staring at the dome, looking at the millions of stars we don’t actually get to see anymore. And when the show started and I saw the Milky Way and the smallness of us – I just sat there and cried. Felt the goosebumps form all over my arms and legs, felt our seats moving as the screen zoomed in and out of galaxies and constellations. More people need to visit planetariums, because we don’t look up at the sky anymore, and when we do, we don’t see the stars like our forefathers used to. We need to remind ourselves again and again that none of our lives really matter, and why that is a brilliant and a liberating thought. Why that is a gift, a privilege, and not a right. Why we need to salvage all the love and all the humanity we can in our lifetimes, because really, the universe is far too big to care about you or me. And why realizing that is the biggest gift of all.

This weekend I also attended Dot’s concert, after listening to her serenading me on particularly dull work days. She’s an 18-year-old artist called Aditi, and she’s so beautiful – inside and out. Her voice is like milk and honey, and before each song, she had a sweet little story about its origin. I lost my heart to her that night. Her innocence and niceness is what makes her music so good. People really underestimate the power of being kind. Of talking in soft, low tones, of not needing to prove their dominance, of not having the upper hand in every situation, of treating everybody with the same respect and compassion they expect in return. As Margaritas flowed freely and candles flickered in that tiny dark pub, I felt happier than I have in a long, long time. I closed my eyes and locked that moment and promised myself I’ll try to be a better, simpler, more genuine, more forgiving person.

A few days back I was feeling a certain type of feeling that seemed indescribable. So I started writing. And what I produced on paper seemed like a poem. And so I recorded it. Sharing it here with all of you. I hope you like it 🙂

We always seek each other out like two whales calling
From thousands of miles away.
I reach out to you not because you’re different,
But because you know none of us really are that different,
And to you, that’s okay.

We collide like a bolt of lightning and the cloud.
Like the spray of a waterfall and the rock.
Like the mighty mountain and the glacier.

My heart beats and beats with the rhythm of us.
Of the dazzle of colour and madness and wonder.
Dubdub, dubdub, dubdub.

And then,

Like a supernova –
The end.
The glow and the explosion of the fleeting magic that was us.

The wrecking ball to our mansion.
The wildfire to our forest.
The tsunami to our island.

Unlike the others, our story ends in unrequited love.

So tell me, dear friend,
How do you expect me to be whole
As chunks of me are chipped away
Bit by bit
With each ending.

When this world takes away more than it can give?
When the nights are longer than the days could ever be?

And then a voice takes over.
Shh.
It’s alright.
Breathe.
Live.
Shine.
There’ll be more unions,
More explosions,
More magic.

We’re not that different, you and I.
We try to make sense of a world
That has seemed to lose its senses.
We look for love, and beauty, and
Acceptance, and depth and warmth.

So come, let’s bask in the glory of a world
That wasn’t meant for us.
Let’s look at the skies full of stars
That don’t twinkle for us.
Let’s look at clouds and comets,
At snowfall and mountains
At roaring oceans and fireflies

Because what else is life, if not for a series of
Tears and laughter,
Dreams and madness
Stories and potions
Hellos and goodbyes?

Life is.. life is a sunset.
Life is impermanence.
Life is nothingness.
Life is a blink.
Life is the space between darkness and light.
Flimsy and fickle, and always, always lurking in the shadows.

Shadow of the Day

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Dear Chester,

The first line is always the toughest. Type, backspace. Type, enter. Type, delete document. I always pause, stutter, hesitate.

Writing late into the silence of nights like these, I feel like I’m laying myself bare. I think of all those letters I never posted, the emails that are still gathering dust in my drafts folder, the texts that never saw the light of day. There’s too much that should have been said, tears that should have been shed, hugs that should have been offered.

I don’t want to do that again. I need to let it out before it joins the long list of feelings I extinguished like the last few embers of a dying cigarette.

I miss you. Not in the traditional sense, no. I miss you in a way you deserve to be missed. With a force brighter than a thousand suns, slowing ebbing and billowing and flowing through me. The grief simmering beneath, but never breaking through the surface.

How silly it seems. My life is seemingly unchanged. Isn’t it?

Is it?

You did what you had to do. And I’m proud of you. People sit and pass judgements at you, they say you let them down. Theirs is the worst case of entitlement. They couldn’t deal with the fact that you were in pain. Instead of understanding your suffering, they’d rather malign you now because they can’t deal with the unpleasantness of having lost an artist they loved. How selfish we all can be. They don’t deserve you. They didn’t know you were a fighter. They didn’t know what it was like to be you.

I know you have no way of knowing this, but about a decade ago, two oily-skinned girls sat on a wobbly chair in an abandoned classroom in a hundred-year-old Catholic building and watched you growl into your mic on the tiniest, scratchiest screen in the world. You were thousands of miles away, but they loved you. They talked about your life like they were a part of it, they dissected your songs, your lyrics, talking about how it made them feel. They had a diary with your songs written neatly in them, and they used up their free time to sing along with you. They sculpted a character that had your name in their stories, they wondered when you would release the next album. They engraved your name on an old water tank near a graveyard in school, wore an earplug in each ear, and listened to you when they should have been studying for a test. To them, you were alive. You were a part of their everyday life. They grew up with you.

They spoke about the loneliness of Valentine’s Day, the brilliance of Hands Held High, the isolation of My December, the pain of What I’ve Done, the dread and depth of Shadow of the Day, the desperation of Numb, the breathlessness of Crawling. Each song had its special place in their hearts. They believed they understood you. They knew you.

How do I tell you how much they looked up to you? Your music mirrored the anxiety they felt, you gave them the words they didn’t have the courage to utter. When you crooned, your voice soothed them as they lay in bed, fretful before an exam. When you screamed, it pulsated through them with cathartic ecstasy. Between you and Mike, you were everything two teenage girls with surging hormones and a career-obsessed family needed. You were courage. You were comfort. You were power. You were love.

They dreamed of the day they’d grow up and make enough money to see you live, spinning intricate stories of how they’ll react, what they’ll feel, what they’ll say, what you’d look like standing in front of them in flesh and blood.

Tonight, it truly feels like the beginning of the end. Mortality is glaring at us in the face, screaming that people we love are slowly beginning to slip away, and that it’ll only get worse. That life is agony, and it’s fragile, and it’s unfair. That it takes away more than it can give. That it’s intensity, and despair and decline and it’s all over way too fast. That you don’t get to fulfill many, many dreams and that you’ve to learn to deal with it. That the world owes you nothing and that you can do everything to hold on to everything you love, but it all ends with a sudden, white, blinding light.

Tonight, we remember you, Chester. We don’t want to let you go. We don’t want to say goodbye.

Tonight, we ache.

Dunkirk

Dunkirk

When you watch a Nolan movie, you know you’re not being spoonfed. You’ve been served an exquisite dish – with tasteful and minimalistic cutlery – and it’s up to you how you make your way through it.

I’d never been so excited about a war film before I watched Dunkirk’s trailer. I was curious to see how Nolan goes about it, and it’s safe to say that he has turned the very concept on its head in a way only he could have. Of course, he bought and decimated an actual Spitfire, and of course, he shot it in 70mm – those things are expected from a director revered globally for his godlike movie-making prowess. But what amazed me were certain things that changed the meaning of war films in general, in a way none of us could have fathomed.

When it’s Nolan, you know the linear passage of time will get kicked hard in the butt. But I didn’t realize there were three completely different time passages being shown simultaneously in the film – one week, one day, and one hour. Through all the gunshots, dizzying POVs from fighter planes, the jagged breathing, and the sheer desperation, I didn’t even have the time to process it. I did realize what the mad genius had done towards the end when all three stories (on land, water and sea) came together in a maddening crescendo. Beautiful.

Nolan didn’t use similar war tropes in this movie. There was no need to even mention the Germans, let alone show us their side of the story. Why? Because that wasn’t the point. The point was to bring us as close as possible to the face of war, trap us inside its murky jaws, make us feel the pointlessness of battlefields, make us hold our breaths and jump in our seats. There are no heroes in the film, so to speak. If we had to spell it out, then survival or getting home is the protagonist, and war or death, the antagonist. Getting out of Dunkirk is the only thing that mattered. Even the title of the film says a lot about what it focuses on.

Another thing I appreciated about the movie is that it doesn’t use any sentimentality, which is the easiest thing to do in a movie surrounded by death and destruction. There was no carnage, no pieces of bodies flying off, no soldiers crying out for their friends, no wives/children/parents waiting for their sons back home. There was no war strategy, no blooming friendships, no extended shots of dead soldiers. He didn’t use any well-known actors, there was hardly any dialogue, he didn’t even show Hitler or Churchill. He didn’t need to do all that because that wasn’t his intention. All he wanted the viewer to do was to be there – at the beach, on the ships, in the jets, under the water, fighting for their lives amidst fire and missiles and torpedos. Everything else seems too insignificant.

The shots were breathtaking. You almost felt like a war videographer, following these soldiers, trying to survive yourself. You were as much a part of the narrative as any other soldier – crawling like ants in neat files, finding refuge in abandoned boats, waiting with an acquired sense of patience, hoping and hoping to be taken home. Everything from shaky camera movements, to disorienting shots of capsizing ships, to the deafening sound of gunshots – everything in the movie is designed to shake you, to play on all your senses. It’s not a dramatic movie, but with the looming terror of dread and Hans Zimmer’s heart-stopping music, it’s a psychological thriller. It’ll make you hold your breath right until Tom Hardy successfully lands the plane on that beach, right until the soldiers reach home. Dunkirk is not a story, it’s a first-hand experience, less likely to make you exit the hall with tearful eyes, and more likely to make you walk out with a glazed, vacant expression.

In terms of character development, I wouldn’t say I could feel too much about any of the characters. I didn’t even get most of their names – but I guess that is what Nolan wanted to do. I wouldn’t say it’s as amazing a spectacle as Interstellar, the music not nearly as haunting, the characters not as long-lasting, but it’s definitely something that makes you forget the hall, forget the people, forget the world around you. It’s an exercise in complete immersion – it’s existential, it’s introspective, it’s deeply personal, almost meditative. And that’s what great cinema is all about.

So Now What

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Wow, 2017 already feels so old. Seems like yesterday when we were all happily making silent resolutions and sighing and convincing ourselves that nothing can be as bad as the year 2016.

Well.

A while ago a fresh bout of anxiety struck me. See, the thing with anxiety is, the more you try to ignore it, the more it flares up. It’s like a spoilt, obstinate kid that demands all your attention and energy. So I gave in. I sat and let it attack me with full force from all sides. I dealt with all the little nagging problems my brain was firing at me. I was answering my questions patiently, trying not to be too hard on myself, but the questions just wouldn’t stop.

“Oh yeah? What about the time you turned your back against your best friend in 5th standard?”

“And what about the time you absconded from home and sent everyone into a furious state of panic?”

This time, it was a classic case of self-admonishment and loathing. You see, I am not known to have made very good decisions in life. It’s only in hindsight that I realize the horror and embarrassment I had caused my friends and family. I’m still reeling from the after effects of some of those decisions. I know what some of you will say. “Oh, don’t hold regrets because all the paths you chose led you to this place in life and made you who you are, so it was all meant to be!”

Please, just save it.

Sometimes you do things that cause irreversible damage to your system, or your relationships or your lives and you can’t do anything about it and that’s OKAY. We’re all complicated humans with brains that haven’t been fully understood and higher states of consciousness and hormones and mood swings and probably a lot more we don’t even know about. So it’s okay to accept things for how they are. We don’t need to sugarcoat everything just to make ourselves feel better. Suck it up and pull yourself together. Or not. It’s your call.

Last week I was in the shower and all these decisions came running back to me and I literally said out loud, “JUST LIVE WITH IT.”

(Side note: So Now What by The Shins is my new favourite nostalgia-inducing song.)

I rarely ever have happy dreams anymore. They’re either gruesome, post-apocalyptic, or involves people I’d rather not think about. I trudge through the day feeling emotionally heavy, a bitter aftertaste I try to cover up with cups of chai, and sometimes milky coffee with extra sugar. I’m hungry almost all the time. I don’t know why my stomach is turning into this bottomless pit. Oh wait, I know why. I’m eating all my feelings. Distracting myself. Telling myself it’s okay, because look! I can eat this entire sub all by myself with the cheese dripping down my hand as I binge-watch Master of None.

Oh, by the way, please watch Master of None. I love it not only for how real it is, but also for the incredible production quality and cinematography. They’ve used such classic and techniques: black and white, simultaneous cuts, muted audio, continuous wide shots. And just their ability to show relationships begin and grow and change and decay. It’s brilliant. I would recommend it any day.

Tell me something. Do you have days when you’re like, “Oh god, I’m already too tired of life?” Where your brain wants to shut down, or reboot or just wants to voluntarily conk off just for a little while? No? Yeah, me neither. *looks away sheepishly*

I’m reading this book called The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories by Ken Liu. Despite some bad reviews I read on Goodreads, I LOVE it. The stories are a perfect mix of science-fiction, fantasy, drama, everything put together into a wonderful, wonderful book. So glad I came across it.

Also, dear readers (the entirety of the three and a half people who actually read what I write), if there’s someone you’re not able to get over, please watch this video. I promise it’ll make you feel better. I love all of School of Life’s videos. I love the authoritative voice, the wisdom, the beautifully and succinctly constructed sentences.

I’m currently on a sort of “purge” in my life. It really sucks, but like someone used to say to me. “It has to be done.” Whoa, it just started pouring outside. With thunder, lightning, rattling windows, the works. Pathetic fallacy, much?

You know in Assamese, when people separate for short periods of time, say a few days or so, they don’t say “bye” to each other. There’s no word for goodbye in their language. What they say is “Moi aahi aasu”, which translates to “I’ll be back soon.” Isn’t that sweet? 🙂

Anyway, I’ll unburden my woes through something else now. Maybe watch Moonlight? Though I’m not sure I’m ready to cause so much emotional damage to myself yet. Probably watch American Gods? Let’s see.

P.S. I can’t believe Chris Cornell is gone. This just proves that behind all those appearances, there’s a whole new person, probably trying to deal with their own anxieties, in their own ways, and often failing at it. Ben shared one of his lesser known albums with me, and each song is as beautiful as the other. Listen, and go cry into your pillow, okay?

I’ll be back. Like always.

Much love.

Neon, neon, neon

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Bits of patchy sunlight.

It’s the 13th of April. There’s something so inauspicious about today. Sinister, almost. I’m not a big fan of this month. I’m waiting for June, desperately. The moon is hanging low tonight, uncannily orange. From my window, it looks like a gigantic bulb in the sky.

Alt-J just released the official video of their new song. It’s so despairingly melancholic. So otherworldly. I can’t believe the intensity with which I love the things (and the people) I love. It breaks my heart.

I’m writing in this weird, staccato fashion because my thoughts are too varied and disjointed, and this is a new technique I’m trying out. Seems easier, somehow. I don’t have it in me to glide from one topic to another without any effort. (It’s only temporary though).

I deactivated my Facebook account today. I feel so damn liberated. Lately I have been spending too much time on it, and the emotions I’ve been feeling have all been negative – anxiety, sadness, shock, annoyance. And yet, and yet, I was browsing through the damned site like a drug addict. My thumb would just automatically reach out for the bloody blue sign and then I’d scroll like a zombie, not really processing anything fully. Why was I doing that to myself? So I decided to detox for a bit by taking a couple of months off. (On the plus side, I can still sign in through my Facebook-enabled Goodreads account through Amazon! Thank god for loopholes.)

I just finished a writing workshop I had participated in. Lots of stories, discussions, feedback, critiques, words, long nights, crippling self-doubt and angst later, I can say that I’m finally one step closer to the actual art of writing. It’s a lot of work. A. Lot. Of. Work. But it’s something I’m willingly going to put myself through. I have to do it. I have to.

I recently met some wonderful people and warmed up to them so organically. Something that I’ll always be thankful to Bangalore for is the barrage of people it brought my way, some of them so close to me I can’t imagine the last three years without them.

Which brings me to the next point. I’ve been in Bangalore for three whole years now. When did I grow up, man? I look at my fresh-out-of-college pictures and I realize I even look different now. A little more matured, a little more flab on the hips, the youthful skinniness of the face has been squandered away (like a boss). I like it though. I feel like JD when he turns from Bambi into a third year resident at Sacred Heart. (Whuddup Scrubs reference!). There’s still a lot of uncertainties and even though I may not know what I want, I certainly know what I don’t want. And that’s an important lesson to learn.

I’m reading a lot, lot more now, thanks to my Kindle. I do watch a movie once in a while, but reading is something I did not want to lose touch with, and I’m so happy that hasn’t happened. The last book I read was Roald Dahl’s ‘Switch Bitch’. My brain feels vandalized right now. I love him more as an adult fiction writer because he’s so unapologetically edgy, sexy and bizarre. Also read ‘A Monster Calls’ by Patrick Ness. A book that only fully hit me once I was done with it. It kind of took my breath away.

There are certain truths about life and existence that I’m beginning to understand, and I feel a little more stable, and a little more at peace. Just a little. A teeny bit. I’m learning how to love myself again. Baby steps. I’m learning how to meditate, how to tame my anxiety, how to learn from it, how to grow despite it. I’m learning how to accept who I am. The real me, with all the fusses and frills.

A friend shared a TED talk with me today, and it kind of changed me a little. Check it out, and if you’re someone who gets extremely excited talking about life, the cosmos, consciousness, evolution, society, (and if you’re in Bangalore), let’s meet up over a cuppa coffee and talk 🙂 I’ve realized that connections with like-minded people are essential to keep your sanity in check.

I’ll be back soon. This time, hopefully, with some stories to tell. I know they’re in there, somewhere. I wish you all the best in the world.

Lots of love. ❤