Thursday, December 31, 2009

Ritual

On the last day of every year, since I was in school, I've been making journal entries that sum up the year : mostly things I'm grateful for, experiences and people that propelled me to the next level of personal growth (or were just a lot of fun).

For some reason, I'm unable to do the same thing this year. Not because I'm not grateful - this year has been singularly life-affirming, the ups and downs have been monumental but not catastrophic and I feel as though I've surfed through them and emerged more intact than I was going in. So it's not lack of gratitude, rather it's the insistence of two words, buried deep inside & dying to come out, that makes me do things differently...

The first is Fear. For as far back as I can recall, this word has held me in a vice-like grip. So much so that I'd started to believe it was inseparable from me. Fear in speaking my mind, fear in liking what I liked, fear in living the way I wanted, fear in reaching out to other people, fear of allowing others to reach me. Fear of the dark, fear of the outside, fear of the new, fear of the unknown, fear of the future, fear of everything I didn't immediately understand and fear of myself. Last year, I began to grasp where this fear was coming from and how it had sometimes saved me from myself. This year, I realised it was time to let it go. Fear had served its purpose and now it must leave.

2010 then, must kickstart the Year...no, the Decade of No Fear. It must be one where I speak my truth, live the life I know I was put on this planet to live and be the most authentic version of myself as I possibly can. I'm excited.

The other word is Trust. It's come up a lot in the last two weeks, more in the context of 'lack of'. I hurled it at someone and had it hurled back at me. When I launched my 'No Trust' missile, I meant no harm, thinking it was nothing more than armour to protect me. How could it ever cause damage? But when it was lobbed back at me (meant, I'm sure, to innocently graze my shoulder and whizz past) I realised just how explosive and destructive it could be.
Trust, I realised, isn't this flaky tool of the weakling or the naive. It isn't detrimental to my inner strength. It doesn't take away from my ability to protect myself. Trust, in fact, allows me to experience everything I've been too chicken to experience all this time.

I don't know...things are still a bit jumbled up in my head. When I say I'd like to trust, I mean it. And I also know that like 'Love', it is more an action than a word. I have no idea how I will allow this word to become a living, breathing organism. As for today, I guess I can start at the very beginning. I can start with trusting the process of life.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Plug

If ever anyone - especially a woman - gets the opportunity to listen (live or in illegal download) to Ani Difranco perform her poetry, she must take it.
------

"My I.Q." - Ani Difranco


when I was four years old
they tried to test my I.Q.
they showed me a picture
of 3 oranges and a pear
they said,
which one is different?
it does not belong
they taught me different is wrong

but when I was 13 years old
I woke up one morning
thighs covered in blood
like a war
like a warning
that I live in a breakable takeable body
an ever-increasingly valuable body
that a woman had come in the night to replace me
deface me

see,
my body is borrowed
yeah, I got it on loan
for the time in between my mom and some maggots
I don't need anyone to hold me
I can hold my own
I got highways for stretchmarks
see where I've grown

I sing sometimes
like my life is at stake
'cause you're only as loud
as the noises you make
I'm learning to laugh as hard
as I can listen
'cause silence
is violence
in women and poor people
if more people were screaming then I could relax
but a good brain ain't diddley
if you don't have the facts

we live in a breakable takeable world
an ever available possible world
and we can make music
like we can make do
genius is in a back beat
backseat to nothing if you're dancing
especially something stupid
like I.Q.

for every lie I unlearn
I learn something new
I sing sometimes for the war that I fight
'cause every tool is a weapon -
if you hold it right.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Girl Before A Mirror: A Facebook-ish Critique

Having already been told by Facebook on an earlier occasion that I would meet my maker via lethal injection and that I have a couple of secret admirers pining for me somewhere on this planet, I didn't expect much from a quiz called 'A Painting That is Me'.
But then the Girl Before A Mirror by Pablo Picasso popped up claiming to be, well, me.
After the ooo-look-at-all-the-colours reaction (I love visual art but am not the most educated about it), the next thing I noticed was her body. Shite! How does Facebook know about my tummy? How does Facebook know that horizontal stripes look like crap on me? How does Facebook know about my struggles with my hairdo? And how does Facebook know what a non-traditionally great looking babe I am?
Then and only then did I turn my attention to (forgive me, Pablo) the mirror and the fact that she stands opposite it, not just looking at but reaching out to her reflection. According to me the actual girl is way prettier than her reflection (a fact she'll never know, so focused is she on what she sees, thinking that this is what everyone else sees of her as well). I love the half moons of her face - much more serene than her reflection. There are powers this girl possesses that her reflection never will. Yet, she clings to that reflection.
I've been doing a lot of 'mirror work' recently. It's a meditative process of sorts, a highly charged and extremely powerful way to get to the core of oneself and make changes at that elemental level. It involves chanting positive affirmations to oneself while looking deep into your own eyes. It's a completely no-bullshit technique, you can't hide from yourself. If you feel ridiculous, there are things to uncover, if you feel resistant there are things to uncover and if you feel a deep sense of sadness there are things that need to be healed.
And then one day, you look into that mirror and you say something fabulous to yourself and your insides don't fight it. They vibrate with the recognition of the words you're saying. The reflection and reflected come together.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Reveal yourself, mysterious blog-appreciator

I'm tormented by a single anonymous comment on my blog.

What if it's a secret admirer (of my feminine charms and not just the writing)? What if it's a rich & powerful publishing tycoon who could potentially secure me a book deal? What if it's the boy I've set my heart on but who remains elusive? What if it's my first celebrity co-worker, who googled my name and stumbled upon this blog; and who knows a rich & powerful publishing tycoon who could potentially secure me a book deal? What if it is a friend whose birthday I forgot and who deleted his profile from facebook so that I couldn't message him (as opposed to calling him which I didn't have the energy to)?
What if it's my sister - the only one I have, the one who lives on the opposite side of the globe but somehow manages to make me feel loved when I need it the most.
She's the only one I know whose smileys are =) instead of :)
Perhaps my work here is done.
------------------------
24 hrs later: I was wrong. My work here is not done. Oooooh, this is driving me stark raving, cross-eyed batty....

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Between Cup & Lip

I woke up happy this morning. I made a plan with my mum to go watch a film. Then had the world's best cinnabun...the kind that melted on my tongue the second it landed on it. We proceeded to see Julie & Julia - possibly one of the happiest films I've seen in a long time. Meryl Streep's joy was infectious; every cell in my body was laughing with her.
I thought I'd blog about how good I felt but then I fell asleep.
Woke up feeling unsettled, restless and dying to get out of the house but without the fight of finding an autorickshaw and wearing thirty layers of clothing to protect from the cold. I struggled between these two conflicting emotions, feeling more and more frustrated by the minute. The familiar, helpless loneliness (always, always waiting in the wings, waiting to swoop in when I'm not paying attention) descended.
Suddenly a near-perfect day had turned into one of hopelessness. As if a switch had been turned off.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Yesterday

Somewhere between navigating the galis of Nizammuddin, dodging crowds and protocol at the dargah, praying amongst the faithful and being uplifted by the qawwaals...
Somewhere between the umpteenth argument with an auto-driver, walking into the swanky Park Hotel in CP to attend a 'high-society' arty event, where the food was great and the drinks free...
And riding back in a rickshaw at 9:30 pm as the fog began to wrap itself around India Gate and the Parliament, as my nose and eyes began to water in the startling cold that rushed in from both sides of the open vehicle, listening to Norah Jones in my Ipod...
I fell absolutely in love my New Delhi.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Keep It Simple Stupid

Have money, will spend
Have time, will write
Have friends, will laugh
Have rhythm, will dance
Have song, will sing
Have gravity, will jump
Have love, will make
Have breath, will live


(Please don't sue me, xkcd.com...it's just that you're so good)

Friday, December 4, 2009

Covert Operation


It was a routine reconnaissance mission; one that Agent P had completed scores of times before. The sector was a known one, the layout of the premises imprinted upon her razor-sharp brain. At precisely 1900 hours, she tightened her boot strings, braced herself against the chill and set out. Little did she know that she had forgotten to take the most important precaution one takes in such weather conditions.

At first, the sortie went as planned. The disguise was impeccable as usual and no one, least of all Agent P, could have suspected what lay just a few yards ahead. And then it struck...
A piercing, neural sensation emanating from the nether regions of her anatomy. A not unfamiliar sensation - one that struck her most typically when ensconced warmly within layers of blankets on a bitingly cold night. It was not just an unwelcome sensation but a highly inconvenient one. It would require swift thinking and daring that the young (and strikingly hot) Agent had never been required to summon up. On this dark and moonless night, well into enemy territory, surrounded by old aunties & joggers in shorts, Agent P realised, she needed to pee.

'This is what they trained me for," she thought. She recalled her days in the trenches when she learned the elite-force survival technique of clenching & unclenching ones muscles 'down there'. One time, she went as long as 24 hrs without feeling the need to visit the trench next door (the designated Leak Zone on the mission). She was sick for days after that, but it'd all been worth it in the line of duty.

But those days were long gone now. Bladder control had not been required of her in the longest time. She feared the skill had been lost. She realised she would need to employ another strategy. So she called upon the memory of her comrade Agent N. Agent N had been a legend in the Force. She'd watered every high-foliage location in & around New Delhi - from high-security zones like the Hyatt Regency lawns to the vast farmlands along the Agra highway. Agent N had shown her that it was possible.

"Yes, I can!" exclaimed Agent P (albeit, silently) and with a quick scan in both directions, jumped behind the nearest bush she could find. Once behind said bush, she realised that she could have scouted the area for a better one. This one, while leafy enough, had one serious flaw - it was along the boundary wall of the park, leaving Agent P ass-exposed to the high-traffic road outside.

But it was too late now. Speed was of the essence and so down came the pants. As the passing cars' headlights periodically illuminated her behind, Agent P tried to stop her racing heart from jumping out her chest. Some of the walkers had begun to look in the direction of the bush, perhaps drawn to the sounds of 'Death and all His Friends' emanating strangely from it. "Shit!" thought Agent P, "I should have switched my ipod off!" Nothing to be done, though, but wait for nature to take its course as she vowed never again to drink 3 cups of green tea just before venturing out on a mission.

Deed done, Agent P rose gingerly from her crouched position. She scanned the perimeters once again and then made a mad dash for the main pathway. A few passersby did glance suspiciously for a second, but so nimble had been her recovery that they carried on with their business.

The rest of the recon was a breeze. No longer battling the su-su feeling; bursting instead with a rush of adrenaline, Agent P realised - this was perhaps the most courageous act she had ever performed in the line of duty. She wished Agent N had been there to witness her daring feat. "What else is there to achieve now?"

And so she turned back towards home base. It was time to debrief. Literally, because she'd sprayed herself a little while peeing...

Thursday, December 3, 2009

YOU hit the gym!

I've always been a big girl. I've always been the heaviest kid in class. I've always had just a little too much paunch and chin for most to handle. I've always been on the wrong side of the 60 kg marker on the weighing scale. I have been on every diet known to woman, since the age of 14 and have tried pretty much all forms of exercise (except krav maga) devised by humans. I have been desperate to the point of tears, I have allowed the excess baggage to be an excuse for not living a full life. I have felt ugly, have cursed my poor body even as I heaped gobfuls of unhealthy food into my mouth. I have treated my flesh and bones like aliens, here to destroy me rather than help me get to the next level of self-awareness.

Something changed, this last year. As Jane Fonda says in her autobiography, I 'took residence back in my body'. I made friends with it again - tummy, double chin and all. I decided it was awesome how it had stood by me through thick and thin, even when I treated it like shit. I felt it was time to treat it with the respect it deserved.

So I stopped starving it. I stopped ignoring the extreme backpain I was having as a result of jogging on the uneven track in my neighbourhood. I decided I didn't need to be at the point of death to feel worthy of that square of Cadburys. I decided to listen to my body.

My body wanted to go for walks with my ipod. Some days it wanted to be the fastest walker in the park. Most days it wanted to walk for at least an hour. Some days it wanted to stretch and open up its back muscles. And sometimes it just wanted to vegetate.
I also realised that my body didn't want as much food as I thought it did. I let it decide amounts based on how much physical work I'd done through the day. It enjoyed chocolate but realised that after two bites, the thrill was gone & everything tasted the same . I listened and gave it what it wanted.

As a consequence, I've put on muscle mass, dropped a couple of sizes and am off all my various meds. I recently survived an intensive 2 day shoot schedule, where I was on my feet from 5 am to 10pm - a near impossible feat just two years ago. I am still not thin but I'm fitter than most people I know and have more stamina, energy and sheer joie de vivre than I've ever had...

....And yet, such is the brainwashing that society has inflicted upon us all that when I go out into the world, I am still seen as someone who has no self control, who has let herself go and is somehow a lesser form of being than most others. Assumptions are still made on the type of person I am. I am automatically disqualified from being a sexual entity, a woman in all senses of the word. And sadly, when it comes to men, I am still considered an embarrassment by many.

There's nothing I can do about it. I can only focus on myself and my health. I can only acknowledge for myself how great I think I feel and look (and I really, really do). Luckily, having endured this kind of mindless prejudice since a young age, I have learnt how to deflect it before it affects my psyche. Now when someone tells me to hit the gym, without bothering to find out if I really need to or not, I'll know that the problem lies not with the slice of pizza on my plate, but with the mounds of ignorance sitting on theirs.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Un-Clichéing Myself

Many are the lessons a woman learns as she grows older. Among the more important ones is shattering the Myth of the Mysterious Man.

Currently the flavour of the season is Twilight's Edward Cullen.
My best friend and I went to see the film the other day. As the tweens ooh'd and aah'd, we both found (to our horror) that every time the tortured vampire's tortured brow glowered at its tortured best, we dissolved into splits. Everytime he lurked darkly in the background, we got goosebumps - and not the fun kind either. The kind you get when you're walking on the streets of New Delhi at night and a carfull of drunk jat boys zips past you for the third time & you reach for that swiss army knife in your bag just in case...

Of course, I say all this as a woman who was once a girl who was once attracted only to the dark, brooding kinds. As if the silence gave them a booster shot of EQ or being misfits allowed them access to higher truths. Turns out the mystery was there for a reason - to hide who they really were: scared little boys.

Don't get me wrong - there's no shame in being a scared little boy. Who isn't (apart from us scared little girls)? Just let us know. For god's sake tell us women what's really going on. Dark silences are not very sexy. They're annoying because who knows what's happening in that male brain?

Which brings me to the next cliche - men are uncomplicated. Bull. Shit. You lot are the strangest, most bizarre creatures and I don't for one second claim to understand what you're thinking. Or if you're thinking at all. And if they call the lack of thinking 'uncomplicated' then I'm sorry - that logic will just not fly. Thoughts result in action - a pre-requisite for including yourself in the human race. Without thought, you'd be a bit like a comatose patient set afloat on a raft in the Indian Ocean. That's pretty complicated, I would say...

Anyhoo, point is - dear, sweet, well-meaning men above the age of 23. Please don't be mysterious, please don't brood or try to attract women by squinching your brows & hiding your feelings. Be nice, talk to us every so often. Who knows, we might just have a conversation that's fun. Trust me, nature intended for us women to seek out the stable, open and communicative types who are equipped to raise our babies with love & compassion. Not to zero in on guys who only wear black and have a tendency to weep after 7 beers.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

So Much Rage

I'm tempted to, but will not delete the post below.
Perhaps I can hold it up as an example of how I'm not as cool as I thought I was. That when push comes to shove, I don't see all humans as equals. That I judge according to the colour of one's business suit. That I have inner rage issues which find a convenient outlet in the much abused, unfortunate bazillionaire.
All may be Brahman but not when it comes to corporate flunkies. The fact that I can write an equally scathing review of folks I've encountered from the other side of the tracks is immaterial.

I am a hypocrite. I'll try and work on it...

Head On Collision with Corporate India

Spent the last two days trapped in the belly of corporate India. Had to film a Citibank conference and take interviews of people who have finance coming out of their noses. Worse still, I had to pretend that I, don't just give a damn but, am actually enthused by the functioning of banks and treasuries across this great nation of ours.
Was saved by frequent trips to the free Hersheys stand and the sound of my cameraman exchanging choice hindi abuses with the lightboys.

Reasons why I'm glad I never did an MBA:
1. Drab clothing. I'd have to say goodbye to all colours except black, white and a sickly blue that for some reason reminds me of tetanus.
2. Pretentious vocabulary: I bumped into a college acquaintance at the conference. I remember her vaguely as this mousy, very inarticulate girl who never had much to say. Now she spoke of 'verticals' instead of departments and 'making assets sweat'. So I ask - why can't corporate India speak normal English? Is it a ploy to have us wound up in language, while they go about screwing with our economies?
3. Pre & Post alcohol personality switch: We all change once a few pegs warm the cockles of our bosoms. But corporate India undergoes a bizarre switch from being walking-talking insurance brochures to sounding like pre-pubescent punjabi boys from Rajinder Nagar. The girls? They don't drink at all but are on hand to laugh nervously at all the pre-pubescent jokes.
4. Contempt for all non-corporate forms of beings: Just because I have come with a camera crew to film your lame conference (that I'm sure you slept through) does not mean I'm a wedding videographer, does not mean you can interrupt when the camera's rolling to tell me to find a good 'seating arrangement' for your clients, does not mean I'll wait for hours on end for your white-boy CEO to finish his 5th beer just so he can give me 5 minutes of talktime, does not mean you can let me pass through your venue gates but stop my lightboys because they don't look rich enough.
5. The Asslicking: I never did like the taste of ass. And if I have to laugh at my boss' bland jokes even after I've become the India Head for Citi, then really, it's not worth it.
6. The Regret: I cannot tell you the number of really rich, 'successful' and upwardly mobile people I met who expressed a great longing to be 'artistic like you'. For a second, they almost looked human as their eyes grew wider and they told me about all the music/ theatre/ dance/ debating/ poetry they did in college and now had no time for. I felt like a friggin therapist.
I'm guessing they can't all be bad. Yes, they did cause a global meltdown that directly affected my livelihood, which forced me to take up the job of filming the conference. Yes, the posturing and the facade of constant coolness can get exceedingly annoying. But at the end of the day they're the same Chunnu's and Munnu's I grew up with. They've got to be just like regular folks right?
Perhaps...but only on weekends & Christmas

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Lines blur

I've always had trouble with reality. Not with accepting it, but in telling it apart from the movies running inside my head (soundtrack and all). Things are said to me, they pass through a wispy filter and reach my insides in an entirely different way from what was intended. Events happen and are fashioned by my neurons into an entirely distinct (often fantastical) story in my head. My emotions attach themselves to words and gestures rather whimsically, attributing new meanings to what's just occurred.
It makes for great parties in my head - celebrations that go on for days and weeks.
But invariably, there a comes a point when I'm forced to confront how the outside doesn't match the drama inside, there is a rude awakening and I'm left in a vacuum.

I want things to change. I'm not sure if I can completely revoke my citizenship of Lalaland or even if I really want to (especially since I've lately met wonderful people who've got permanent resident status there) but here's what I would really like to do: I'd like to build a railway system, something like the Samjhauta Express (perfect name too) that can, at regular & timely intervals allow me to cross the border & journey into reality. I'd like to purchase a lifetime pass on this train (first class only) and effortlessly navigate between the colourful carnival inside and the more utilitarian world outside.
I'd like a tour guide to travel with me, someone who can tell me which stations are worth getting off at, how long to stay at each stop before climbing back on the train again and whom to visit while I'm there.


Friday, November 13, 2009

I found new music. A band called The Weepies. The rain is falling outside as it gets colder and colder. I snuggle inside my sweatshirt and listen to this beautiful music. And I dream...

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Recurring Dream

I have a recurring dream, where I'm either at the airport or making my way there, extremely excited because I'm taking a flight out to Anywhere-But-Here.
However, each and every time my best laid plans are thwarted due to some silly reason or the other. Either I've left my passport at home, or I lose my luggage, or I go the bathroom just before the flight's supposed to take off and I miss it. Once, I missed my flight because I forgot to pack underwear & decided to go home to get some. I thought I'd make it back in time. I didn't.
It is the MOST frustrating dream one could have - worse than being chased by wild animals or being stuck in a burning building or hiding from terrorists (all of which used to be recurring dreams but then stopped for some reason) - because I can almost taste the freedom of getting way, I can feel the promise of something new on my skin...and then I get left behind.

Perhaps this has something to do with my grandmother. She built a house for herself by the sea. She spent her whole retirement gathering things to decorate her house with. She did it up, furnished it from top to bottom - all for that day when she would move triumphantly into the apartment she'd built with her entire life's savings. Then a few days before she was supposed to move in bag and baggage, she had a massive heart attack and died.

The other night, I told you this story of my grandmother's passing. Just as I was getting to its moral for me ("Don't just spend all your time & energy planning. Learn when to take the plunge."), you say - "It sounds like your grandmother was really happy when she died...knowing that she'd realised her biggest dream."
As I looked at you, I felt a release. I laughed, then you did and we both couldn't stop for the longest time.

Perhaps because my flight had taken off the runway and I was finally on it.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Oh...

This is what the good stuff is supposed to feel like.
This is what it feels like when someone waits for you. When you don't need to do things you don't want to. When you're no longer governed by 'Should' and learn to just breathe.
Just breathe.
I'm learning.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

High level meeting

This was part of a conversation I had today over lunch at this very swanky Chinese restaurant, with a woman who was once my supervising producer and now a dear friend:
"Main tere lund ko kaatkar ped pe chadhha doongi. Phir kowey usko chodengey."

No More Familiar

A couple of days ago, someone gave me a gift. A two-inch tall action figure. Then we had a conversation that took me into spaces that I never share with people I barely know. I went with it, fought the discomfort and had an ok enough time. It brought up stuff for me that this person knew nothing about. It had been an effort but well worth it - I came a little closer to making a new friend. But I had no idea how exhausted it made me.

This last month has been a longer version of that day spent with the new person. My closest friend, my sanctuary in many ways, has moved cities, my professional life has taken me into spaces that scare & challenge me and bring up old things from the past, I have man problems (always fun) and I have run out of places and people to run to when I'm going stark raving mad.

Through it all, I have not cried a drop. Not even when my best friend hugged me goodbye (I got teary but no big sobbing). I have thanked the universe for keeping me busy. I have hung out at film festivals for hours on end, alone or with a bunch of people I vaguely know from work. I have made an effort to penetrate the shells of people who normally I would have left to themselves. All so that I could feel a little normal. All so I could clutch onto a little piece of the familiar.

Then today I had a really shitty day professionally - the ONE goddamned space where I am not confused, the one part of my life where I don't feel incompetent and ill-equipped - and it shook me to the core. It was the straw that broke this trying-to-be-sunshiny-happy girl's back. I felt the final facade of my well-meaning bravado fall apart.

I clutched that two-inch doll like it was my last ally and sobbed my heart out.

Limmerick

I'm not a poet. I've never fancied myself as someone who even remotely understands the form. A client once asked me to write the title track lyrics for a children's programme based on 5 superheroes. It brought me to tears.

But one evening in a tiny resort called Georgia Sunshine Village, 3 hours out of Bangalore, under the influence of some fine weed, sitting poolside, I looked to my friend Mrinalini (Lotus Eyes) and came up with the following:

There once was a girl called Lotus,
Who was diagnosed with lodosis
Although she was nice
She harboured a vice
She liked to do dope in large doses.

Of all the things I've written in my life, this is right up there with some of my best work...

Friday, October 30, 2009

Sach Ka Saamna

My writing, never the best that's out there, has officially gone to pot.
I suck. But much.

Learning To Accept the Good

Here's a lesson for everyone who feels they've been shortchanged, that the world is full of mean-spirited people, that goodness is only exchanged for a price.

We need to start trusting again. Tough as hell. Tough not to keep looking for loopholes, tough not to keep wondering when that pound of flesh will be extracted. Tough to believe that the goodness is there just because.

But what if there's a teeny-tiny, infinitesimal chance that it's all for real? That the decency, generosity and concern is as natural as the air I breathe? What if it's as basic as my god-given right to exist on this planet.

Well then, as David Duchovny told Benicio Del Toro in a fairly pretentious movie, I have to learn to 'Accept the Good'. I just hope that I learn to do it before the Good gets tired of waiting around and leaves to go to someone who won't doubt its very existence.

I'b Sick

I'b go' da zniffles...by bob says I'b a hybocho'driac. Sweet ban says by ibunity is low and bakes be gi'ger tea wi' lebon.

I fee' 'ike dea'...ooooooohhh.


Monday, October 19, 2009

Prayers Work

I grew up in a largely irreligious household (is that a word? 'Irreligious'? It should be. Now it is). We didn't visit temples, we didn't have an alter at home. I saw my paternal grandfather do his daily prayers. A highly disciplined man, I always thought that was part of his morning ritual, not very different from that first sip of coffee perfectly timed with the unfurling of the newspaper.

My maternal grandmother was the first adult to infuse me with a real sense of 'faith'. My sister and I would meet her over our summer holidays. She would line up all us grandkids and teach us the basic Gayatri Mantra and Sri Vishnu Sahasranamam. I enjoyed these sessions thoroughly because she was a 'fun' grandparent and injected everything with laughter and joy. [Today these prayers are on Youtube and as I listen to them, the sounds of my childhood and my beloved Ammamma come back to me.] I once asked her why she prayed as much as she did and more importantly why she wanted us to do the same. She answered that as I grew up and moved through life, I would need these prayers more and more. That when all seemed blurry and confused, my faith and these prayers would stand me in good stead.

She died when I was 12 and I got busy being a troubled teenager. I forgot the Gayatri Mantra and only remembered the first two words of the Sahasranamam. I had no idea what it meant to have faith in anything unshakable. I relied completely on my own resources and made a mess of most things.

In my late twenties, I began a journey back to myself. I met a wonderful therapist and started reading important books. I worked hard on understanding where I came from and took responsibility for landing where I had. Then, one morning, I returned to prayer. Completely devoid of my own spiritual anchors, I drew on the faith of my grandmother. I hinged all the hopes of my fractured self on the fact that she had once, more than 15 years ago, told me that when all else failed, prayer would help me.

My prayers were not like hers at all. They were in English and derived from a self-help book. The first few times I said them, I felt desperate, needy and ridiculous all at the same time. I said them anyway. Then I said them again the next day and the next. By the second week, I didn't care that there weren't immediate, tangible results. I felt lighter because I was sharing the load with something else. I was letting someone else carry the burden for a while. The more I prayed for good things, the more my insides began to believe that I deserved the good things. The more I believed I deserved it, the more I - consciously and subconsciously - went after the good things. The results were surprising. I did get - and continue to get - amazing gifts everyday that I'd never imagined possible.

But what really surprises me is the change in my insides. I have always thought that I'm a depressive type. But I've always known that I have a place of joy inside me that's more real than the depressive aspect. The depression has always followed me like a shadow but I've never been able to access the joy, beyond occasional snatches. I was beginning to believe that life is mostly sad with a handful of happy moments thrown in to keep us going. I never imagined that things could be the other way round too.

I can't aptly describe what prayer does for me. I know that it affects me at my cellular level. I know that it has changed my DNA to a large extent. It helps me work harder at things that mean something to me. I give up less easily and things are more fraught with meaning than ever before. I carry it like a legacy from my grandmother, a protective layer that takes care of me. The more I believe in it, the more energy I feed into my prayers, the stronger its influence becomes in my life. The more my life lights up.

(Sculpture by Allan Houser)

Friday, September 25, 2009

My Life In An Instant

A couple of days ago I had me a moment, which perfectly encapsulated the sad reality of my life.

I was out shopping with one of my closest male friends (he and I are each other's backup plan, should our love lives be at the same pathetic place five years from now). We entered one of my favourite stores, Anokhi, and I made a beeline for the section that sells cotton boxers. As I was browsing the merchandise, I saw this fantastic pair of French knickers - words cannot describe how amazing they were. Beautiful Rajasthani blue & the softest cotton imaginable. It was true love at first sight. Unfortunately they were Rs. 300 - a sum of money I cannot even dream of spending on a pair of chuddees right now. I looked to my potential future husband with great sorrow and explained to him why those knickers could not be mine. He looked sympathetic and since he's a rich (or soon to be rich) doctor in the US, offered to buy them for me.

That was the moment - in Anokhi (a place where all my retail dreams come true), standing in front of a man who I love but am not in love with, too poor to buy myself underwear and too proud/ inhibited to let him buy them for me...all the while pining and despondent because the man I'd like to wear them for has not called me in over a week.

(The one that got away: Imagine this very same scarf as a pair of divine French knickers...)

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Getting to the point

Watched bits of Moammar Gaddafi's UN speech last evening. It was the most entertaining bit of television I'd seen in a long time. Delegates in the audience were laughing, others sleeping. He looked a little insane, ripping out pages of the UN charter, talking about JFK and jet lag. Great theatre.
But then, when I watch Obama speak, it seems just as theatrical to me as Gaddafi's vaudevillean act. The idealistic tilt of his head, the tone of idealistic seriousness, the political correctness, the diplomatic hoops he makes us jump through without saying a thing.

It's just a question of language. Both talk a lot of shit. Both also make sense - in a way that's bizarre to the other. Both are sincere and speak from the heart. Both mince the truth.

But if you ask me who I'd pay to hear - my money's on Gaddafi.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Please Write

Unanswered phone calls,
Unacknowledged texts,
Uninspired filmscripts
Unexciting blogs
Unfinished stories

The not writing is killing me

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Thoughts Post Watching P.S. I Love You


It would be very nice if I could schmeer Gerard Butler's lips on a toast and take a big bite. Maybe I could frame his eyes and keep it on my work desk. Or fashion his arms into arm rests on my chair so that we could hold hands between changing channels or get a nice cuddle while I watch a late night movie. Make a pillow out of his torso so I could hold it as I fall asleep.
And assemble him back together from time to time so that we can slow dance to Iron & Wine.

So pretty...sigh...

Friday, September 18, 2009

Hic

...this girl's had a bit too much tonight...


(Trust me, if my life were indeed a highway, this is what it would look like after tonight. Amidst the shards of glass are shreds of my dignity and any chances of a bright romantic future...)

Sunday, September 13, 2009

:)

She laughs a lot at the jokes he makes. Ironic, since she'd imagined he had no sense of humour. But the more she laughed, the more jokes and funny stories he began to come up with.
Now they laugh all the time.


Note: I am SO not the type of person to put up photographs of kittens, but you have to admit, this one is the cutest.

Friday, September 11, 2009

A new low?

For some reason, I've never really had a lot of money for a consistently long period of time. It feels like I've always been struggling financially for as long as I've been working. There are, of course, many reasons for this.

Louise Hay (self-help guru) says that we only get as much money/love/success as we feel we deserve. By that equation, I must have really felt I deserved a lot of money in 2008. Then in 2009 I must have rethought the pedestal I'd put myself on and returned to the familiar feeling of poverty. Have to admit, it does feel like home.

The other reason could be my brave-but-stupid insistence on being a freelance writer. Sounded glamorous at the time (still does unfortunately) - 'I can't do a 9 to 5', 'I can't have people telling me when to start working and when to finish it, watching my every move, making me do 3 people's work at the salary of half a person's', 'I need to be able to take off whenever I want...go wander...get lost somewhere...sigh..'
I wish I'd had the foresight to understand that I'm not one of those people who knows how to market herself. And since there's no money coming in, I can't afford to go wander and get lost somewhere anyway...

Of course, then there's the forces of nature, by which I mean the blood-sucking TV producers who will use any and every excuse to cut corners on your penny. I remember this one time (not in band camp) when a producer who owed me money said he'd diverted it to an alcoholic editor because he needed it more ('wife and family - you understand'). I was only 20 then and actually accepted his sorry-assed excuse. I felt guilty for having non-alcoholic parents & an air-conditioned home to go back to.
I also know (& trust me, I've often agonized if I'm being too paranoid) that many times I've not been paid as much or as frequently as my male counterparts. Perhaps, because of the same subconscious notion that I don't need the money. Perhaps for their own twisted reasons. All this has made me distance myself from the rogue-producers...unfortunately it leaves very few names in the hat for me to go after...

This morning, I hit a new low. A client of mine (someone who routinely asks me to do little bits of inconsequential work) asked me if I wanted to tramp two hours away from home in the rain to come meet him for lunch and discuss a project. I wrote him an absolutely pathetic, bottom-of-the-barrel email telling him that I couldn't afford an autorickshaw to his place so could we please meet halfway? I felt sick to my stomach doing it, especially since I'm not that poor yet. I remembered all those times I swore to myself that I would insist on being paid, NOT because I needed the money but because I'd earned it. It was such a betrayal of myself, I can't tell you how awful it felt.

But here's the thing: his assistant called me up within 20 minutes of recieving the email, to ask for my account number. Turns out boss man wanted to clear all my past dues. Yes, it still makes me sick to my stomach, but you know what? I now have money to see me through October...

Monday, September 7, 2009

I'll Have Me a Helping of Gratuitous Violence, Please

A couple of days ago I did a Facebook Rorschach test that declared I was an insane psychopath.
This evening I did another Facebook quiz to determine the exact time & circumstance of my death. January 17th, 2021, 5:33 am, by lethal injection. Consistent as only Facebook quizes can be.
But not as off point as some might think...
...because I've recently got me a hankering for some blood & gore.

Was having a low moment ("why hasn't he called?") when HBO started showing the James McAvoy-Angelina Jolie action movie 'Wanted'. All my sensitive, 'The Hours'-lovin, bleeding heart, arty-farty illusions went flying out the window (like McAvoy's father towards the end of the movie..but I'm not going to spoil the film for those who haven't seen it). Everyone was kicking everyone's ass, bullets were flying in slow motion, guns were being bandied about like chocolate bars, explosives were being constructed out of peanut butter-addicted mice and even though all the make-out scenes were cut by HBO, it still got my heart racing, wondering what other destruction was up next.

Now, I have decided I want to be an assasin when I grow up.
I want to be the 'perfect weapon' (again, see the movie to know more). I want to karate chop and kung fu with the best of international secret agents. I want to not feel pain and miraculously heal my body even though I've been punched, drop-kicked, stabbed, shot at, blown up and pushed off steep cliffs. I want to curve bullets, hurl knives across kilometres of crowded city and still hit my mark, I want to launch bazooka attacks & carry tampons that double as RDX-loaded explosives.

Fuck, I wanna be BadAss.

(This is a character called Anaksha: 'A beautiful but deadly femme-fatale who embarks on a brutal, bloody-thirsty rampage through the city of Santa Lina, delivering her own brand of justice to social parasites who've avoided punishment.' http://www.anaksha.com/)
And true love waits
In haunted attics
And true love lives
On lollipops and crisps

- 'True Love Waits' by Radiohead

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Conjoined

Saw a fascinating Natgeo feature on conjoined twins and the surgeries they'd had to separate their bodies.
The one that stuck out for me was a case of a set of American twins whose torsos were fused. The heart of one of the girls lay 3/4ths inside the rib cage of the other and they were sharing the same liver. The doctors thought that they had a good chance of separating the two without major permanent damage.
Needless to say, the girls were absolutely the cutest things that ever lived. They'd spent the earliest months of their lives facing each other, separated by mere inches. Talk about getting in your sibling's business. Talk about twintuition.
Anyway, so when the surgeon opens them up, everything seems to be going according to plan. The livers are divvied up and they turn their attention to shifting one of the twin's heart back into its own ribcage.
That's when they find that the two hearts are connected by a single nerve. The nerve is sending the same signal to both hearts, making them beat as one.
The doctor has no option but to say a little prayer and cut the sliver that's joining the two vital organs. He severs the connect, the hearts still and Natgeo takes a dramatic pause with a dramatic voice-over. Close ups on the faces of the other doctors and nurses. And then...
The hearts begin beating again. But no longer together. They pulsate in alternating rhythm, still harmonious but now very, very separate.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Really, people....

....for the last time - Global warming and unnaturally rapid climate change is real. It's not a dirty lie created by solar panel manufacturers, it's not propaganda launched by organic cotton farmers and it's not an urban myth perpetuated by Al Gore and Rajendra Pachauri.

It is unbelievable the number of people I've met who're in denial about this...the same people who're wondering why it's 'so hot' in september...I wish they'd pick up a newspaper once in a while or do something else on the internet besides playing Mafia Wars. And I really wish they'd think a million times before procreating.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Someone once said to me - "Nostalgia is so passe, darling!"
Never did I feel this more than this evening when I dug deep into my cupboard and unearthed old photographs from school....
I really thought I'd look at them, sigh and say - "We were so young, our skin was so tight, our eyes so bright...look - doesn't it seem like the whole wide world lies in front of us?..."
Except, I stared back at a bunch of kids, who looked lost and scared and were definitely not all that great looking. As for me: I have never looked or felt more miserable as I did at 15. I hated my body, I had a terrible hairdo and an even worse attitude.

30 is an amazing age for a woman to be in 2009. It pisses me off that we're brainwashed to believe anything else. Everything starts now...

The Men I Once Knew

I once knew a man, who noticed me in a crowd, stole me away from daily drudgery and filled the workday with sweet surprises. On my birthday, he bought me the biggest bouquet of flowers I'd ever seen and made the guys in the restaurant sing 'Happy Birthday' for me. He loved when I grabbed his ass and found the time to tell me I was a 'good person...perhaps one of the best he'd ever met'. But he insisted that we remain a secret...in order to try his luck with other women, as it turned out.

I once knew a man, who made music. He called me his best friend and said I knew enough about him to "write his autobiography". Once, when I told him my close friend was depressed, he called her up (STD) and sang 'Yellow' just to make her smile. But then he locked himself up in his room with a bottle and made me throw away the key.

I once knew a man, who told me he loved me the same evening we met. He spoke of me in metaphors and similes and referred to me as an 'orchid'. One morning I woke up to his sms - 'I'm standing outside your door and I'm here to marry you.'. He wanted me to get an MBA (Masters in Business Admn) and have an OBE (Out of Body Experience). Throughout our cross-country relationship, he kept tabs on what I was doing & who I was meeting. 8 months later I realised I should have been keeping tabs on who he was meeting & doing.

I once knew a man with whom I could conduct conversations in broken French for 15 minutes at a stretch. He introduced me to Joni and Ani. He supplied me with a steady stream of Himachal's finest. He taught me about warm sake and chopsticks. He had the face of a cherub on crack. And the demeanour, I discovered to my horror, of a demon.

Not one of them knew how to hold me.

***********************************************************************************
PS: This post is dedicated to a friend who listened patiently as I gave him a lecture on alanis' music being whine-fests about men.

Monday, August 31, 2009

The First Flush of BS

Am in the process of getting to know new people. That golden period where every word and action emanating from you is peppered with just a tich of bullshit. It's a tightrope walk, deciding which parts of you are worth being put on display, which parts are to be filed away for later and which parts are never to be shown the light of day. (I can't help but wonder how much better off we'd be if only the rest of our lives were lived with similar diligence.)
Of course, I am older now. Which means that I can now make a more informed choice of the kind of bullshit I want to introduce into the mix. The levels of goofiness, political opinions, taste in films & music and of course revealing your battle scars - some glamorous, others not so much.
I realise that with time the number of party tricks I'm willing to perform has reduced. And I had some pretty nifty ones. I had a 'guerrilla warfare' strategy. Be very still, the better the camouflage, better the chances of getting onto the home team. Listen but rarely speak. Nod your head and agree a lot. Be funny but not in a cynical world-weary way. Keep your back straight, your eyes focused and don't look at your watch every five seconds.
Some of these I still subscribe to (esp about the posture and watch thing) - most, I am too tired to indulge in. I can no longer pretend that I like The Doors or that I remotely understood Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels. I can't keep sucking my stomach in, trying to look like that amazing chick two bar stools down, with the pixie haircut & pixie body and I cannot, for the life of me, pretend to be enraptured by someone who's rhapsodizing endlessly about his BMW and LSE education.
Also, now I have stuff to say. And there is definitely stuff I don't want to waste time listening to. Have a theory on how Gujarat 2002 never happened? Air it by all means but don't expect any applause from me. Want to expound on Tendulkar's batting stats when I've just told you I have no interest in sports? Please be prepared for my eyes to glaze over. Think that insulting the waiter is a sign of your machismo? Better make the most of the evening because you'll never see me again.

Of course, I acknowledge that if done in the right spirit and to the right degree, bullshitting can be oh-so-much fun. There's only a limited amount of time each one-on-one interaction gets before we decide if its worth taking forward or not. There's no way we can transmit all of our authentic selves in that period. Unless we get sucked into the 'Juno' soundtrack...

You're a part time lover and a full time friend
The monkey on you're back is the latest trend

Here is the church and here is the steeple
We sure are cute for two ugly people
I don't see what anyone can see, in anyone else
But you

We both have shiny happy fits of rage
You want more fans, I want more stage
I don't see what anyone can see, in anyone else
But you

You are always trying to keep it real
I'm in love with how you feel
I don't see what anyone can see, in anyone else
But you

I kiss you on the brain in the shadow of a train
I kiss you all starry eyed, my body's swinging from side to side
I don't see what anyone can see, in anyone else
But you

The pebbles forgive me, the trees forgive me
So why can't, you forgive me?
I don't see what anyone can see, in anyone else
But you

- 'Anyone Else But You' by The Moldy Peaches

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Have I Lived Enough?

If there is one question that's plagued me since the age of 15 it is - Have I lived enough?
The definition of 'lived' has changed several times. I've tried to map out its chronology:

1996-2000:
Have I been to enough 'girl-boy' parties?
Have I smoked enough cigarettes?
Have I tried all varieties of Kingfisher beer more than thrice?
Have I studied enough ancient Indian, Greek, Western philosophy?
Have I entered enough inter-college competitions?
Do I have enough people who like me?

2000-2003:
Have I travelled enough across India?
Have I survived enough night edits?
Have I behaved sufficiently badly on said night edits?
Have I made sufficient money?
Have I 'struggled' enough to tell stories of it when I'm 50 and sitting in an air conditioned office ordering my minions about?
Do I have enough long-haired, male friends?

2003-2006:
Have I been daring enough to throw away everything I've worked for because I'm 'not happy'?
Have I done enough narcotics (no harder than E)?
Have I been stoned/ drunk for a sufficient stretch of time without break?
Have I met a sufficient number of 'crazed yet artistically-inclined' people?
Have I lived on my own & been poverty stricken enough?
Have I had enough 'near death' experiences?

2006-2009:
Have I been hugged enough?
Have I been outdoors enough?
Have I been brave enough?
Have I been kissed enough?
Have I been vulnerable enough?
Have I had enough therapy?
Have I made enough phone calls to powerful people?
Have I worked hard enough at improving my writing?
Have I travelled enough across the globe?
Have I heard enough cool music?
Have I fought enough for what I want?

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Free Ka Maal.com

There is no dearth of people looking for a free ride...most times at your expense.
I have had very little work in the last few months. Yet I get calls from clients who expect me to do jobs for no money - 'yaar, thodey spelling mistakes hai, theek kar de'. Read 'I've written this hinglish piece of nonsense, please redo the whole document and put it into language that my (paying) customers can understand'
'It's just a small, one-page proposal.' Read 'Actually, in order to write that one page, you need to go through 97 pages of jargon on this pdf sent by the Ministry of So and So'.
'It'll take you not more than two hours to complete'. Read 'That's not counting the boring meetings I want you to accompany me to since I'm too lazy/ busy to read what you've written and need someone to answer the questions the client may ask.'

But the worst freeloaders are the emotional freeloaders. The so-called friends who want to meet up for a 'chat over coffee'. The ones who don't want to make an effort to haul ass and meet halfway, the ones who won't bother beyond the necessary enquiries of "How're you doing?" before launching into detailed descriptions of their deadend jobs and deadbeat boyfriends/ husbands (strange though: men NEVER complain about their girlfriends/ spouses unless something's terribly wrong).
These are the same 'friends' who disappear when you call for a chat, when you're in the mood to meet up and when you need to spill your guts about your deadend job and deadbeat boyfriend/husband. Or god forbid, if you actually need a favour from them.

As someone who's made it a life-long profession to paalo such parasites, I have now decided to go in for a career change...

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Oh So THAT'S what the BJP is about...or is it? Isn't it?

I have to admit - the Bharatiya Janta Party has always been a bit of a mystery to me.

It came to the forefront in the 1990's, when I was still a student. I have a very distinct memory of heading out the front door on my way to school, when I saw the front page of the newspaper. It was December 7th and the photograph of the Babri masjid's broken dome had me staring at it for a long, long time. Something was so off. I still carried childhood memories of the 84 riots, which had directly affected us Delhiites and I had this feeling of dread now as I stared at the headlines.
There and then I formed an opinion of the BJP and LK Advani in particular. They were terrifying, demonic and poisonous to India.

Then came 1998 and the BJP led NDA came into power. Even more bewildering. Had the rest of the country not seen the same headlines all those years ago? I was older now...on my way to college and more able to understand Indian politics (or so I thought). I guessed that they'd come into power because the previous government had been so god awful. That did nothing to remove my sense of dread.
As the months and years progressed, I began to see an interesting face of the party. People like Jaswant Singh and even PM Vajpayee seemed to be rational and sensitive thinkers. They didn't want to exterminate all non-Hindus, they didn't bark like rabid canines, they wanted to take buses and trains to Pakistan, they welcomed 'the outsider' when it came to their economic policies - what the heck was going on? Who were these people? Maybe the BJP wasn't all bad...after all, it was the 'secular' Congress that was at the forefront of the Anti-Sikh riots, right?

Then came Gujarat 2002. Not only was the violence shocking, but as the facts began to trickle in, it seemed almost engineered by the state government. Narendra Modi, it appeared fairly clear to me, had a huge role to play in the extent of mayhem and destruction. Why, then, was he still in power? What was up with Vajpayee? Why has Modi, since then, gone on from strength to strength in his party? I had a chance to visit Gujarat in 2007 and the worst riot-hit areas were still chilling to drive through. The burnt buildings, the absolute silence in places where residents had refused to return...it was eerie and deeply upsetting.

In terms of personal impact, I remember the BJP's entire stint in power as being one where communalism coloured every aspect of our daily lives. I remember RSS workers becoming more active in my colony, my Christian neighbour getting threats. I remember school books becoming more 'Hinduised'. I remember being more conscious of the religion of those I interacted with. If someone was Muslim, the awareness was heightened. I remember going for a shoot in Old Delhi's mosque area and my crew feeling afraid - something that had never happened before and has mysteriously not happened since the Congress returned to power.

After the recent unravelling of the BJP and the public brawls and downright childish bickering, it now appears that there have been 2 BJP's all along. A Dr. Jekyll-Mr.Hyde game with Hindutva. It's got me interested enough to read up a bit on the genesis of the party and research its ideology. Turns out it's a combination of something called 'Integral Humanism' and Gandhian Socialism. What?!?! Are you serious? Wasn't it an RSS guy who bumped off Gandhi? What the hell!

When Jaswant Singh speaks of Hindutva, its a beautiful concept that I can actually see myself agreeing with. It is deeply linked with the ideals of Advaita Vedanta, which I fell in love with in college. It exists far beyond the notion of 'religion' and has nothing to do with whether you and I think cows are the highest form of divinity. It does not see Hindu-Muslim-Sikh-Christian-Dalit-Brahmin. It is a philosophy that one lives by. It is literally a song for the spirit to sing every waking moment. And this is what the BJP is supposed to be built on.

I've thought a lot about it and for me it boils down to what I learnt, studying philosophy in college. Vedanta literally means the 'end of the Vedas' and its that part of the teachings that contains its most subtle and sublime philosophies, couched in fairly enigmatic jargon. In Ancient times (and even now, in the Brahmin tradtion) that's where the Guru came in. He was literally the divine translator...the dude who was responsible for making sure duds like you and me didn't misinterpret the teachings. Without said dude, it was all a bunch of symbolism and fancy-schmancy wordplay. Without said dude, duds like us got lazy and turned to the easier bits of the Vedas, the stuff that talked about the cows etc. (ok, I'm over oversimplifying things, but youknowwhatImean). Without said dude, for us, that's what espousing Hindutva became...just that and nothing beyond.

Unfortunately it's the ideas that lie 'beyond' that are the basis for the BJP's espousal of Integral Humanism. Hindutva actually echoes a core value that separates us from Western political philosophies like capitalism and communism (both of which have not really been super-duper hits in ensuring a happy populace) - that society is to built on a more holistic foundation than just material, one where the spiritual aspect is just as integral to social structures as economic-political ideals. It is a uniquely inclusive way of looking at the world and is so far removed from divisive religious fundamentalism that they might as well exist on two separate planets.

Somewhere, straddling these two planets lies the BJP and with every tremor on either surface, it stretches itself more and more and more. Perhaps there will be a breaking point and it'll come undone altogether. But one hopes, really hopes, that the two worlds will come closer and closer and closer until one of them (the angry, boiling, red hot one) is cooled by the other one and India finally gets a political party that can truly consider itself worthy of being in the opposition.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Meri Aarzoo Kameeni

It is past midnight. I have downed a lot of alcohol. There is a lot of sadness that's taken residence inside me.
As I play this song on loop:

Kya kare zindagi isko hum jo mile,
Iski jaan kha gaye, raat din ke gile
Raat din gile…
Meri aarzoo kamini,
Mere khwab bhi kaminey,
Ek dil se dosti thi, yeh huzoor bhi kaminey,
Kya kare zindagi isko hum jo mile,
Iski jaan kha gaye, raat din ke gile…
Kabhi zindagi se maanga, pinjre mein chaand la do,
Kabhi laanten deke, kaha aasmaa pe taango
Jeene ke sab kareene the hamesha se kaminey,
Kaminey kaminey kaminey kaminey,
Meri daastaan kamini, mere raasten kaminey,
Ek dil se dosti thi, yeh huzoor bhi kaminey…
Jiska bhi chehra cheela, andar se aur nikla,
Masoom sa kabootar naacha to more nikla,
Kabhi hum kaminey nikle, kabhi doosre kaminey,
Kaminey kaminey kaminey kaminey,
Meri dosti kamini, mere yaar bhi kaminey,
Ek dil se dosti thi, yeh huzoor bhi kaminey…
- Gulzar & Vishal Bhardwaj

Sunday, August 16, 2009

I want, I want

I am hungry.
I want to open wide and swallow the globe.
I want to stomp through the city and crush its buildings.
I want to scream out loud and shatter glass palaces.
I want to crush the population in a bear hug.
I want to block out the sun with my palm.
I want to thrust my fist through the ground and cause a landslide.
I am hungry.
I want to open up wide and swallow the globe
Whole.

http://fav.me/d1wi1qb

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Are they hiring on Grey's Anatomy?

Because, I swear I have what it takes to write for them.
Sample their dialogues:

Alex: You son's crying because his nervous system is shot. Your son's crying because his kidneys are failing. Your son's crying because you operated a meth lab from your home, you son of a bitch.

Dr. Bailey: You let a known drug peddler get away with a baby. You let a convicted felon escape with a child. I know you know better than that. I know because I taught you better than that.

Meredith: It's over. It's over. It's so over.

If anyone cares to read back on some of my blogs they will find that I can just as easily come up with repetitive, sing song sentences that I'm sure no one uses in real life.

But then nothing on Grey's is like real life. Least of all McSteamy.


I am not happy working for the Spawns of Satan.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

The nicest sucky song

And the award for the nicest sucky song goes to Elvis' 'You Were Always On My Mind'. Such a beautiful melody to gently and lovingly tell your soulmate WHAT A FRIGGIN ASSHOLE YOU ARE.
Geez...it encapsulates every experience I've ever had with a man. Useless creatures.

Is it a bird? Is it a plane?...

Or could it be....noooo...is it? It couldn't be! It IS! It is (drum roll please) a paying job!!!
Broke the losing streak.
Saved from bankruptcy.
Alleviated from penury.
Stopped the plummeting self-worth just inches off the gravel.
Stemmed the rot.
Regained my mojo.

Baby! I'm back!
(at least for a while...)

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Art of Loving

We keep forgetting that we have an infinite capacity to love. Love that is separate from lust, infatuation, vanity, codependency or guilt.
Love of the simple kind, the kind we have an unending supply of.

Ok, I'm off to my satsang now...hyuk
:P

Monday, August 3, 2009

When They Messed With My Head

Several years ago I had what was diagnosed as an epileptic episode. I blacked out in an STD booth in Bangalore, bang in the middle of a phone call. My best friend had been with me, both of us in our PJ's still, having stepped out early morning to make a bunch of phone calls. I terrified her with my fainting spell. Somehow, she had the presence of mind to do the right things and took me to the hospital in an auto.
At Mallya, I was put on a glucose drip and admitted to a really expensive private room. I remember nothing of that time, my friends were making all the decisions (we were all in our early 20's). Within 48 hrs, I was on a plane back to New Delhi, leaving behind a city I loved and a fresh relationship.
Upon reaching Delhi, I was 'shown' to some head doctors and subjected to many tests. No one could find anything (there was a hilarious episode of the neurologist looking at my brain MRI and saying - "There is nothing"). At the end of it all, we were no better off than when we'd started. Yes, I'd collapsed. The nature of the spell suggested it was epilepsy. No one was sure of anything. I was put on medication.
The medication was awful. My hands shook, I couldn't grip a pen to write a straight sentence. I felt dull and would retreat into a headspace where there was only static. I was told I'd have to be on this medication forever.

Years on, I've yet to have another epileptic seizure (if it was indeed that in the first place). I've gotten my act together healthwise - I eat intelligently, use my body for things other than watching television and have even made the dreaded yoga a part of my life. I am happier today than I ever was, I accept myself and appreciate my virtues more than ever. I feel as if I am learning to see myself. Recently I decided to stagger my medication and eventually stop taking it altogether.

Since then, I've begun to feel the withdrawal effects of the medicines. My anxiety levels have increased...a strange sense of dread sits inside me for no apparent reason. I couldn't make the connection for the longest time until I had a horrible night last night. Tossing and turning, trying to get rid of the creepy-crawlies, I tortured over what was causing this mental unrest. Woke up with a horrible headache that could only be ascribed to anxiety and felt like someone had pummeled my body all night.

I then did what any educated adult would have done years ago when told to ingest medication that affects ones neurology. I went online and typed in the name of the drug I'd been taking. Turns out, besides being used for epileptic seizures, this was mainly a drug used for mood disorders and bipolar. That just threw me for a toss. Bipolar? Bipolar?? God only knows which senses this drug was dulling out inside me. The more medical journals I read, the more disturbed I got.

For a chunk of my twenties then, I've been on mood elevators - on uppers, for fuck's sake! I'm appalled with the casual attitude my allopaths took to this. There was nothing in my diagnosis to suggest this course of treatment. They should have referred me to a therapist, told me to meditate, change my diet...try something else, before putting me on mind altering drugs.

As I nurse my poor head, I feel such a sense of betrayal and helplessness. I feel like apologizing to my brain, to my blood and my body chemistry. I'm so sorry. I should have watched out for you better.
Now I'm just angry...and it isn't just because I cut down on the happy pills.

Call the Pentagon. We've been compromised.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Being Stupid

Conventional wisdom would beg the question – Why would you dive headlong into a situation that has a huge chance of blowing up in your face?
Because all I’ve done these last few years is follow conventional wisdom. It worked wonderfully and brought me to this point – now, I’m ready to be stupid again.
Because stupid is fun, because stupid makes the world go round and because stupid lets you feel more things than safe. Because I have a feeling it’s possible to be stupid and safe, all at the same time.

Play Me My Drug of Choice


I've had a hyper-emotional couple of days. There've been too many people to meet, too many voices flying about, too much coffee drunk and too much felt - most of it very happy and completely up my alley. But still, the creature that I am, I'm tired and I need a dark, cool place to recede to. Alone, thank you very much (I say it with love).
I haven't slept in days. There's too much shit buzzing in my head - again, all happy - but just too much. Last night I had a horrid headache just behind my left eye and I finally fell asleep at twelve. Only to wake up at 4am. So frustrating. For the first time in my life, I begged my doctor mother to make like Conrad Murray and give me a fucking pill. She said - take a walk.

I needed me some drugs. So I plugged into my ipod. Played me the tunes that always work and shut my eyes. Perhaps it was the exhaustion, perhaps it was the whole smorgasbord of emotions that I'd been carrying with me, but I felt myself getting sucked through a rabbit hole of time and landing smackdab in the middle of 1995 - class X boards, me and my Sony Walkman, playing my first official Beatles tape and realising for the first time that I was an entirely different human being from the one I thought I was. Listening to John Lennon's 'Love', I discovered that unlike the rest of my family, I was a cryer. Music gave me the permission to feel things that were real inside me, but had been relegated to the 'irrational' side of my brain. Music brought to life my inner melodrama...and it's a side of me I love to this day.

Since then, I've tried to find succour in many other things - food, drugs, therapy and even writing. But there's no place that feels more like home than that riff that bypasses logic and makes a beeline for my gut. Aren't we supremely lucky beings? :D

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

I Done Drafted The Damn Thing

It's done. The first draft was approached with trepidation...had to virtually sneak up on it. Did the guerrilla thing and finished it. It's far from perfect, I would even say it is deeply flawed and unformed in many ways.
But it has the farm fresh goodness of a first draft. I have a first line, I have a (lovely) last line and I have a mess of stuff in the middle.
Went to bed at 3am with a smile on my face, woke up at 10am with a smile on my face.
And tonight, I go to bed at an earthly hour, Thank God.

Oh, and I finally visited the Miditech office. I am convinced it is run by the spawns of Satan.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

AAArrrrghhhh

It's nearly 1am and my friends would be surprised to find me, the quintessential early-to-bed, 'morning person' up so late, fourth night in a row.
I am trying to finish a story that I started and something tells me it can't be done in the daytime. It's driving me mad, this thing. It started off, like most of my writing ideas, with an image. But unlike other short pieces that I've started and completed within a few hours, this one refuses to be coaxed into completion. Even as I blog this blog, I am entirely unsure that it will ever reach completion.
Two pages down, I knew from the first sentence, that this would be a story that was way beyond anything I've attempted in the past. It requires a complexity of thought that I often find myself incapable of bringing to the surface. The story has everything to do with me yet the language eludes me and makes me feel like an alien trespassing into territory that's not mine.
There are two principal characters. One is the observer, the silent spectator who is the catalyst for the second character's drama to play out. He's not so much of a problem.
It's the woman, the second (or actually the primary) character, who poses the problem. She has a painful past that she is attempting to resolve, more for herself than for anyone else. She hopes a single encounter with the story's observer will help her get there. This story is about acceptance of oneself, one's traumatic history and most of all (it strikes me now, as I write this) the power of simply being seen. This woman needs to be seen by another in order to face her own self.
These are the profound realities of my own life, as it is right now. I know that I am stuck to my past, in very unhealthy ways. It's like the wheel of a car being stuck in the mud. I'm pushing the gas peddle as much as I can but there's no give. There won't be any give until I haul myself out of the car and get someone to help me.
Which is why I struggle with this story so much. I don't want to use the frills and flourishes that I usually employ. I want it to be as stark as possible. I do this, not for the benefit of the reader, but for myself. To prevent myself from running away into my escapist nooks. I've known for 3 years now that I need to face some very big things that happened to me. I also know that I need to share those things with someone outside myself. Even if it is just one person, I feel it is time for me to get real.
And if I can't find the words, then my characters in this story will have to do the work for me. But right now, at 1 am, it's proving to be tougher than I thought.