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


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.

Monday, July 27, 2009


I have vowed to maintain my sanity in the face of unemployment and poverty by doing one thing creative everyday. So one day I took to sewing with a vengeance, the next day I painted a tree (which for some reason has a red trunk which looks rather morbid) and the day after that I invented two phrases (pl find 2 blogs below) and then yesterday, I started work on a short story.
But it's Monday today and while all my friends are in their air-conditioned offices, I'm sitting here getting thoroughly bored and inspiration-less.
All I can come up with is this visual in my head of a maternity ward with bedfuls of screaming women in labour, all lined up against a wall. On one side of the ward is a full orchestra. When the orchestra strikes up, the women start shooting babies out from between their legs. Whoosh! Whoosh! Whoosh! Like those automated tennis ball-throwers I've seen on TV. The orchestra reaches a crescendo as a row of men line up across the beds, in wicket-keeping stance, all ready to catch the deluge of slime-covered babies.
Running back and forth between the baby-shooting canons and the baby-catching fielders, are masked doctors and nurses, slipping and sliding on the goo-covered floor.

I need an occupation. Universe, can you hear me? I need an occupation.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

My First Time

This is the first bit of adult, non-work, non-journal writing I ever did, way back in 2005. I had just quit a job in TV and was working as an editor in a very RAW-like wing of the Ministry of External Affairs. There was no one in the office I could relate to except a co-worker called Parvinder Singh. He turned out to be the sweetest, most encouraging and intelligent young man, who welcomed any and every piece of writing that I chose to email across the hall to where he sat. If I have any self-esteem at all, as a creative person, I owe it to these first exchanges :)


"I struggle to find my niche," she said, sprawled languidly across the length of the soft, velvet chaise-lounge, "What lies within me? How do I coax it out?"
Somewhere in the background, muted sounds of the television; the Pope is dying on CNN.
"I have lived out more than a quarter of my life - but what have I lived through? Nothing has left a permanent stamp. Nothing, which needs to be washed out with ink." She pulls on the long, thin cigarette that dangles from her lips, "Everything is...wispy...gone before I can give it form and character...(mon dieu, the tummy it lunchtime already)? If only I could be faithful to what roams in my recesses..."
With each sigh of resignation, she releases a perfect wave of smoke that swims across the room and quickly dissipates, "If only it were that simple - that I could exhale, and the Truth in all its splendour, would be set free." She enjoys watching the shapes, the simple act of liberating her breath, make. They remind her she is capable of higher thought, of recognizing the identity of things beyond their literal meanings.
She stubs out the last burning bits of her cigarette and stretches out luxuriously, ensuring no tension remains in any inch of her body. "It is so uncomfortable to live with the knowledge that genius could lie within."
With that she rolls onto her side, sinking deeper into the belly of the couch. In a while, the soft, sophisticated purr of slumber fills the silence.
2nd April 2005

Saturday, July 25, 2009

My Contribution to the English Language

Some crazy guy on You Tube has taken a still image of (my one true love) John Steinbeck and animated its features against his voice talking about the Grapes of Wrath. It's really well done and just a little bit creepy.

Anyhoo, I'm reading his Journal of a Novel nowadays. At one point he bemoans the fact that young authors are no longer inventing new language. No one's coming up with new words or phrases to keep English fresh. So I thought that if I call myself a writer, that's the least I can do. Here is my contribution to the English language.

1. Spacey Cutlet. As in: I left the stove on when I left for work this morning. Now everything I own is carbonized. I'm such a spacey cutlet.

2. Bledy Feck. As in: Bledy Feck! I left the stove on when I left for work this morning. Now everything I own is carbonized. I'm such a spacey cutlet.

I have no doubt in mind that long after I'm gone, these little contributions of mine will ensure that my good name is interred in the annals of history.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Alright then

Fine. I'll admit it. I wish SOMEONE other than me would read this damned blog.
Or perhaps it is a metaphor for my life: wanting to be saved yet not letting on that I'm drowning.
But I don't always feel like I'm drowning or that I need saving.
And I don't always want anyone to read this blog.

Tonight, I want Kansas

There comes a time when you stand face to face with your psychoses and you have nothing and no one left to blame. You've read too many books, attended too many workshops, had sufficient hours with a therapist and had too many genuinely enlightened moments to go back to being a victim.
Oh, but it was so comfortable there.
Tonight, as I pray for sleep to come, as I pray for someone to cosmically clue into my misery and reach out, as I pray for chemicals to magically materialize in the palm of my hand, I wish that it was simply enough to feel wretched in order for the miracle cure to appear.
I feel angry and confused tonight. I cannot reconcile myself to the idea that I must have the courage to pray yet I must learn not to expect.
I must not shy away from my desires, yet I must not wait for them to be fulfilled.
I must not be a silent witness to my life, yet I must learn that I cannot control it all.
It's like trying to brush your teeth and wipe your ass with the same hand, at the same time.

How simple they make it seem - these self-help authors, these wise men & women on Oprah. Oh yes, we know The Secret, they all say, Let us give it to you. Click your heels thrice and say 'There's no place like home.' They lull us into the complacent belief that it's really that simple, this business of getting happy. No one tells you the hows, whens and the how muches. That's your deal, sucker. That's life.
Because some nights, like tonight, there is no logic, no Grander energy and no softness to this feeling that settles in my belly. I have tried all the home remedies and I've tried to banish the familiar aloneless and self-loathing that infects my insides. I know full well that I will wake up, if not tomorrow morning, then the next one, feeling as though the world is right side up again. I will no longer remember this restlessness crawling under my skin. I'll even look back on this evening and dismiss it as just another one of those moods.

But tonight, all I want is to crawl into the arms of someone safe and make my brain stop. Tonight I just want Kansas. Like Dorothy, I'm sick of Oz.
And while we're on the subject, let's not forget how she came upon those ruby slippers in the first place. She dropped her house on the Wicked Witch. The original owner of the shoes and Dorothy's first murder victim.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Blogging the Blues

Ma baby done lef' me,
Took ever'thang but his boots.
OH ma baby done lef' me,
Took ever'thang but his boots...
He took ma money, he took ma pills
He lef' me here,
Jus' bloggin' the blues....

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

TSE 22nd July 2009

Up until the eve of the Total Solar Eclipse (TSE), I wasn't really psyched about it.

I'd researched this damned eclipse 4 months ago...for a project I am yet to be paid for and perhaps may never be paid for. Nothing worth celebrating here. Even, the horoscopes sounded ominous. I found that in the aftermath of the event, I am to lose (what little) money I have left. I will struggle with finding employment (big surprise) and as a special icing on the cake, I will become fat(ter). There was also some talk about being struck down by deadly water-borne diseases. Yeh me.

So, even as I set my alarm clock for 5 am with a resolve to witness the 'Greatest Celestial Event of the 21st century', I remained only mildly enthused. I stayed awake & sleepless for hours and hours, thinking about my life and the direction it seemed to be taking, the things that I desperately wanted and the life lessons I urgently needed to learn (letting go).

At some point around 1am, my thoughts turned to the eclipse itself. I tried to recall the exact science of it as I had learned in JV Narlikar's massive library in Pune:
The solar system spans roughly a 100,000 AU (that's more football fields than my brain can comprehend). The Sun rotates at about 4500 miles/hour - that's fast. The Earth revolves around it at 107,000 km/hr. The Moon revolves around the earth at varying speeds and takes approximately 27 days to take one round.

For a Total Solar Eclipse (TSE) to occur, not only do these speeding objects have to perfectly align in a linear plane, they must also be tipped at the perfect angle on their axis AND be at the perfect distance from each other for the moon's shadow to perfectly cover the sun.
That's a huge motherfucking amount of perfection to take care of before you can have one successful TSE.
And then, it hit me. While the next one will only occur in 2132, the fact is - in the lifespan of the solar system, this seemingly impossible moment isn't as rare as one might think.
I lay there in bed, grinning, repeating the same thing again and again until I fell asleep - it happens, it happens, it happens.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Music and Silence
Silence and Music

Sometimes a little prayer goes a long way.
And rings in our ears long after we've fallen into a peaceful sleep.

Falling Back

Today after many, many days I tried to handle a difficult emotional situation with a big ol' bowl of chocolate ice-cream, shovelling spoonful after spoonful, long after the body's signals had raised the red flags. Today after many, many days I felt the unnecessary substance churn in my gut, rebelling and resisting every effort of my recently-strengthened metabolism to neutralize it, to tame it.
But it wasn't to be. Out it came, hurling itself in undignified sludge as I kneeled in a most humiliating way, in supplication to the toilet bowl, knowing, knowing that I had once again returned to the poison.

For anyone who has relinquished control to something outside themselves and regained it back, a relapse, any relapse feels as bad as your lowest moment - that moment when you realised that this was no longer working. And as the days and months since then will have given you the false sense of your own super powers, you realise that this is a disease you will always grapple with.

Even after you've understood your own vulnerability.
Even after you've comprehended your own history.
Even after you've forgiven.
Even after you've surrendered to the unknown.
Even after you've proven yourself a million times over.
Or maybe even if you've only just realised how very angry and scared you really are.

There's no way to do it but to do it. And so we start again.

Monday, July 20, 2009


Isn't that a lovely word? Tashakhor. It means 'thank you' in farsi, I think. It makes me want to watch 'Kite Runner' a million times, it makes me want to take up Farsi classes. It makes me crave more words of its kind that skim as delicately, yet assertively, off my tongue. I do love this word.


Saturday, July 18, 2009

Guys will be guys....

...but more importantly, girls will also just be girls. Sometimes I think I'm a nine year old trapped in a 30 year old body. It would serve men well to remember what they're dealing with.

Jazz, By the Way

I went for a jazz concert yesterday. It's part of my experiments with becoming more open minded, doing things I didn't do for the entire decade of my twenties...things I regret not being open to in the past. The whole essence of these experiments is to say Yes a lot. Even to things, I'm convinced I won't enjoy.

Last evening, I decided (against my better judgement) to attend an evening of Jazz. It's a genre of music that I've never understood. It's like a club that I know is really cool but won't admit me. It's like a Jackson Pollock that everyone seems to appreciate the genius of, except me. It's like an Orhan Pamuk book that will always be just out of reach. I feel as if I'm locked out, staring in through a dirt smeared window - the dirt is, of course, on my side of the glass.

I sat in the makeshift lobby area outside the main concert hall, watching the performance projected on the American Centre's walls, right next to the His n Hers. I had been inside for a while but the seats were limited and I didn't want to take up the space of a true jazz enthusiast. Outside seemed perfect for heathens like me. There we were - the yawning, the sleepy and the high-pitched squeakers. The cellphone addicts, the girlfriend pleasers and the 'we thought he was famous' seekers. I tried for a while to pay attention and really give this a shot. How can something so universally appealing, elude me so completely, I thought. I waited for the genius to hit me like a lightening bolt. It never really happened.

Each track seemed like it was on a collision course with the next, crashing into each other, making it difficult to tell which mangled parts belonged to which song. I felt dyslexic - jazz dyslexic. It was all a jumble of plink plink plink, boom bash, budoom-doom-doom. 'Don't think too much about it...there's nothing to 'understand', said my friend. But try as much as I could, it was no use. Jazz and me would never do the whole twain-meeting thing.

On the way back, I asked my friend if I - the self-proclaimed music addict - had actually got it wrong all these years. Had I been more in love with music for the emotional context it fit into? Does my notion of a 'good' track have to fulfil a criteria of matching with the film in my head. Does it have to fit into categories of 'sad', 'happy', 'angry', 'joyful' etc. etc. Am I the bleeding heart, country music loving fool who has no true appreciation for the beauty of music as it is?

Then I heard Saeen Zahoor performing with Noori as part of the Coke Studio project ( and I realise I have enough stuff to be insecure about without worrying how little I understand jazz. It's ok, if I delay the cooldom. The greater existential implications of my not liking jazz can wait a while. I have a bunch of stuff to illegally download first...

Aik Alif - Bulleh Shah (performed by Saeen Zahoor and Noori at the Coke Studio)

Parh parh ilm te faazil hoya
Te kaday apnay aap nu parhya ee na
You read so many books
to know it all,
yet fail to ever read your

heart at all.

Bhaj bhaj warna ay mandir maseeti
Te kaday mann apnay wich warya ee na

You rush to holy shrines to play a part,
Would you dare enter the shrine of your heart

Larna ay roz shaitaan de naal
Te kadi nafs apnay naal larya ee na

Everyday you fight Satan
But you never fight your own Ego
Bulleh Shah asmaani ud-deya pharonda ay
Te jera ghar betha unoon pharya ee na

Bulleh Shah you try grabbing that which is in the sky
But you never get hold of What sits inside you
Bas kareen o yaar, Ilm-oun
bas kareen o yaar
Ik Alif teray darkaar

Stop seeking all this knowledge my friend
Only an Alif is what you need

Allah Sayyaan Allah Sayyaan
God is All we need! God is All!
Nee main jaanaa Jogi de naal
I will follow the wandering dervish!
Jo naa jaane, Haqq ki taaqat
Rabb naa devey us ko Himmat
If you deny the power of all that’s true,
God will not grant strength to you.
Hum Mann ke darya mein doobey
Kaisi nayya? Kya manjhdhaar?

We have drowned in the river of Self
the boat and the flowing waters do not matter
Bas kareen o yaar, Ilm-oun,
bas kareen o yaar

Allah Sayyaan Allah Sayyaan

Tuesday, July 14, 2009


A lot has happened has happened in the last few days. The best way to describe it is to say that I've been having very realistic dreams of being pregnant. I looked it up on Google and found that it signifies the birth of a new phase; one that's full of creativity.

So, back to the week gone by. Found and then lost an incredibly important job. Lost and found an incredibly important person. Both events potentially crucial to my future. As I write, I'm fully aware of how I stand smack dab in the centre of these two happenings. Which way things go now depends in equal measure on how I steer my life and how my life steers me. Now more than ever, I have to learn to let go while gripping the reins.

Right now my soundtrack is a new discovery - Newton Faulkner. His music gets me one step closer to defining the genre of music I like best. And we all know that understanding one's music gets us one step closer to understanding ourselves. So this acoustic guitar slapping and simple lyric seems to hit home today...

Monday, July 6, 2009

Riding back home in an auto and at one point I just wanted to stick my head out the side of the three wheeler and scream and scream and scream until my throat could scream no more.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Unleashing the Beast

One of those nights where the dreams are powerful and you wake up brimming with new ideas.
I had just had the most fruitful creative sessions I've had in a long, long time and I wasn't even awake for it.

Had a dream that Parminder from Films Rajendraa (she's the one who stole my film to get a seat in the Osian's Cinefan workshop) was presenting a film somewhere. As the film started playing, I realised it was brilliant. It was a film of photographic stills and collages that came together beautifully and had this quietude to it, the kind of deep, internal calm one feels when one witnesses the sun set over the beach...I can't tell you how wonderful this film was.

But before I could seethe with jealousy, I realised this was a dream and that it was, in fact, me who was creating the film. Unfortunately, as soon as I realised this, I woke up and promptly forgot everything about the film except the way it had made me feel.

As I sit here, upturning the junk in the garage that is my TV-addled brain, I'm struck by the fact that it is capable of extremely subtle thought that I've never given it credit for. I spend most of my time lamenting the fact that while I have good ideas (or germs for ideas), I lack the skill to develop them into whole and complete works. That I lack the ability to fill in the details with any kind of maturity. With last night's dream, I realise that I'm wrong. But for the life of me, I have no idea how to unlock the skills.

That is why I keep returning to 'The Hours' - the film more than the book. Each time I see it, I marvel at David Hare's ability to translate existential dilemmas as internal and ephemeral as a woman's struggle to reconcile her place in a world where she just doesn't fit - a feeling that even she can't articulate. Hare doesn't fall back on the luxury of long, explanatory monologues to explain what's going on inside these women. After all, if they can't explain themselves, how can the screenwriter? Yet, he does it - many times wordlessly - avoiding the typical filmmaking cliches of long silences and even longer close-up stays on the 'tortured' soul's visage. He creates the dark turmoil through moments (which is what the 'Hours' signify anyway) - when Kitty comes to visit Julianne Moore's character, when Clarissa seems to 'unravel', when Virginia and her young niece give the dead sparrow a funeral. These are gems of celluloid moments as far as I'm concerned and when they're woven together as masterfully as Hare and Daldry do, it becomes more than a movie. It becomes a song that resonates in the innermost chambers of my being.

So, well, there's no use whining about it. I don't live in my dreams (well, I do, but that's a whole other discussion) and I definitely can't summon up creative genius at will - in my dreams or otherwise.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Hat And Feet

I love the words to this Fountains of Wayne song:
I'm just a hat and feet
That's all that's left of me
A spot on the sidewalk
A mark on the street
I'm just a hat and feet
I'm just a hat and feet

I guess it's supposed to be a sad song but as with all things Fountainlike about Wayne, the imagery and sweet melody makes you smile. Jackson is

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Chronic Dissatisfaction

There's a scene towards the end of Woody Allen's 'Vicky Christina Barcelona', when the Spanish artist, played by Penelope Cruz, accuses Scarlett Johanssen's American wanderer, of 'chronic dissatisfaction'. When I heard that phrase, I absolutely fell in love with it. It rolled off my tongue beautifully and seemed to describe perfectly, the ills of all mankind - and more specifically, all that bothers and depresses me.
Yesterday, while watching Allen's 'Husbands & Wives', I heard the phrase again and realised, Woody obsessed about it as much as I did.

Yes, there are legitimate concerns in my life. Yes, there are plenty of things that are far from perfect and yes, there are less than perfect traits within me that prevent me from making those things perfect. But as I lie contemplating these (and my) imperfections, I leave little to no room for the fact that I too am infected by that most deadly of spiritual viruses - chronic dissatisfaction.

For a while, I thought chronic dissatisfaction was part of the human condition. One has to be dissatisfied to move, to create, to bring change, right? But the more I thought of it, the more I disagreed with this theory. Dissatisfaction in itself is desirable at many levels. And it's definitely not a flippant feeling one develops when things are not going one's way. It's a state one reaches (according to me, of course) after passing through the phases of 'adjustment', 'compromise' and attempts at understanding. Dissatisfaction, then, necessitates the need to improve upon the present situation.

But when the word 'chronic' is attached to it, it becomes something else together. It becomes a trap that most of us seem to be falling into the older we get. It describes the state of constant disdain we exist in, hopping from one miserable event in our lives to another, forgetting that life is a mixed bag of happy and unhappy, fun and drudgery, the creative and the mundane, stability and shake-ups etc.

When I was younger, we were constantly in 'Do' mode. We didn't have the time to stop and be dissatisfied. Yes, there was the adolescent angst, but even that was something we waded through, soaked in and thoroughly enjoyed. We loved hating parents because it made us bond with friends more fiercely. We loved hating our teachers because it made us 'punk'. We revelled in our rebellion. It made life more colourful, more eventful and well, sexier.

The older we got, the more trapped some of us began to feel. Trapped by the fact that we're not half as footloose and fancy free as we'd once believed we were. Our universe has shrunk, our options have narrowed and while the world continues to be, in theory, our oyster, many of us find we've already sucked much of the saltiness out of it. And so we enter the state of chronic dissatisfaction. That bit of grey gunk sitting in the centres of our hearts that we can't trace the origins of. That regret-tinged slime that settles on every thing that we possess...things that we chose to possess. Some of us learn to live with the chronic dissatisfaction by sitting on it and pretending it doesn't affect us. Some of us can't stand its prodding and so are never still. We keep moving, never locating a home - more comfortable searching than finding.

If we're lucky, a few of us, will someday see the light. The freedom loving gypsy forced to get married, the single person who craves a partner, the broke professional missing the 9 to 5 and the overworked corporate flunky sleeping away his Sundays. Someday, we'll all locate that little bee in our bonnet. We'll confront our chronic dissatisfaction and banish it by owning up to our lives. We'll stand up straight and say - this is the only life I could've had because I made it. I made this moment I'm standing in and I take responsibility for whatever exists in this moment.

And when we're done with our confessional purge, the good news - the moment that comes after that.