Thursday, June 30, 2011

Substitutes

A heavy-set night with sleep
bloated with sad thoughts
They squelch in the mind softly
Each set of them chosen in weird lots

Somewhere the heavy sleep thins away
And trickles down the cheek and chin
Tears, they call it - manifestations of tristesse,
Known to bring out the dirt and hurt within

A sponge-like darkness outside
Absorbs and holds on strongly to this diluted pain
Holds on, even, with a sort of terrifying might
And that's how tears, instead of dreams, come to us in a heavy-set night

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Funny how that happens...

I just sent off a final batch of articles I had to finish by today. Not too much time left - a couple of hours to wash up, withdraw cash, pack a few things and go to CST to catch the train to Goa. I was wondering if I should also maybe start work on a couple of things, but my Tata Photon has slowed down considerably.

Everything, but everything, just gets into the Goa mood.

So, yay!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Between Whew and Wow, a life passes by...

A lot has been happening. Wild luscious capriciousness of life and friendships. I have just returned from a real quick trip to Goa and am going on another real quick trip to Goa tomorrow again. Work is piling up but  I can only think of getting hold of a chalice to store the amazing greyness of the skies. Of course, in time I have to get down and work off each assignment solidly. Maybe later.

What comes to mind, though, is the new development on Juhu beach. Every monsoon, Mumbai rains leave behind a monumental emblem. This time, it seems to be a ship stranded near Juhu beach. The other day, I was stuck in front of the beach for nearly four hours. The entire populace of Maharashtra seems to have descended upon that spot. There was police bandobast everywhere and people looked happy and crazed. The beach looked as if a large jar of colourful pills had smashed open and the pills were rolling out all over the place.

Beyond the milling crowds, though, was the mighty sea. Heaving and rising like a dormant force in a restless consciousness. And there was the stranded ship - beautiful, solid, grey and sepulchral. It seemed as if a somber Godfather had come to take his place at the head of a table for dinner.

Being stuck at traffic was mesmerizing. Strange times indeed.

Monday, June 20, 2011

That IS the spirit

Bad things happen. How one responds makes the difference.

Long time ago, a woman was accosted in a local train and thrown off while 3 other female passengers watched. The CM at that time gave a statement that this was a one-off incident and that Mumbai was still safe for women.

Another time, a woman was mauled badly near Gateway during New Years. The Police said that the girl and her friends were warned against going to that spot.

Yet another time, a girl was molested badly on New Year's eve by a bunch of rowdy drunkards. The Commissioner of Police, at the time, gave a statement that nothing more could have been done to prevent this incident. Adequate police force were deployed all over the city.

Recently, a journalist was shot dead in broad daylight by two people on a motorcycle in the city. BUT this time...this time it was different. The Police took a stand. They acknowledged that they had let down the citizens of the city. That they had been lax and careless. The Commissioner of Police went on to state that crime reporting in Maharashtra should be carried out undaunted and the police would provide whatever support necessary. Arup Patnaik went on to promise to make Mumbai the safest city for its citizens.

No callous whitewashing here. Just simple, strong resolve.

It is this spirit that makes a city's people feel, not just safe, but brave.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Even if that were true...

Several years ago, I decided to fast one day a week. I had heard that when you fasted one day, ate nothing, drank nothing - your body became sharper. Your mind could clear through unnecessary clutter easily. Slowly, over time, you became a more focused, vigilant person. You knew what you wanted and you could get directly in the most focused way possible. And what I wanted then, as what I want now, is a fantastic body and supreme peace of mind.

Of course, now, I have made my peace with my body. It's a good body. I don't cringe too much when I look at it, unless I see myself in some clinging lycra or something. But overall, I am pleased. Peace of mind, on the other hand, is a tough story to tell. There are spells when I do experience a stillness, a calmness - a suspension of everything that is cracked, unfulfilled or hard. But these are brief. Many times, I lose that feeling on account of an external event. Sometimes the reasons are flimsy - an incorrectly made cappuccino; sometimes they are more substantial- road rage.

But there did come a point when I was tired of all these vicissitudes. I just wanted to have something solid inside my heart - something that wouldn't sway or get broken by whatever is going on around me. And at times, this feeling has made me feel very, very lonely.

Somewhere along the way, one does reconcile to the truth that everything will move away. People will go, things will leave, feelings will pass. At some point, I did stand to wonder at what remained when all else left. And what remained was this quivering globule of yellow insecurity. It wasn't a pleasant realization. If anything, the loneliness that I felt when I first noticed this was quite devastating. It's like I could physically feel my heart get crushed and my rib cage ache. I wonder if anyone ever, ever felt this way. Because around me, no matter what my differences with people have been, they have all seemed so sorted.

In any case, this vague, painful, sharp aloneness that had once led me to fast. At the time, a couple of friends told me that I was really just using spirituality as a crutch. In fact, they still say that about me now. For the longest time, I defended myself. Spirituality was meaningful to me. Even an innocuous ritual like fasting and waiting until sundown to eat gave my wandering sense of alienation a north star. But now, I think, maybe they are right. Maybe I do use spirituality as a crutch.

But I need to. Because as of this moment, I feel broken. It hurts to walk. By myself, taking one small step ahead, taking one deep breath, heaving onwards to the next spot - physically my body can't take the weight of my mind. So yes, spirituality seems to be a crutch now. I don't see that as wrong, though.

One day, I'm sure this will heal and I won't need it anymore the way I need it now. But today, this belief in something larger, bigger, beyond - it helps me hobble along.

At least, I haven't given up walking. And that's sure to get me somewhere.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Back home

I'm back from an impromptu trip to Goa. My cousin arranged this holiday with his family and I tagged along. Goa has such a pulchritude of lazy, indolent, gut-wrenching prettiness. It's a joy to share it with just about anyone - your family, your friends, an ex-lover you just made peace with, your dark inner cynic, your impoverished romantic heart that seems to have a windfall when it sees a wild fortress sea at Candolim.

This trip was quite an adventure. You haven't really seen rains unless you have seen them on the ghats. We stayed back a night at Amboli because we couldn't proceed to Goa. And in Goa, we did a million things in a couple of days. We took a cruise in the middle of a blazing storm, got drenched at the Calangute beach, supped on parathas and xacutis and luxuriated in the opulence of churches. The best part was smelting in the joys of my niece and nephew. That feeling of walking into huge walls of waves with kids in tow - the exhilaration is unbeatable.

I'm now home, in Mumbai - warped and wefted in the songs of the sea. With my mum's cheery chatter in the background and good food in my belly. With the terrace splattered with streaks of rain. With ropes of grey clouds getting more thickly interwined by the second.

Life is good. Actually it's more than that. Life is goodness.

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Scribble, scribble, scribble

It has been a good day today. Cheeriness came in spasms, mainly due to the lovely, cool, grey rains. I sat reading the latest Vogue edition on the terrace. The magazine spoke of a trend called Sicilian White - which is head-to-toe white dressing with gold accents. I like that theme but looking around me, I figure it is probably better suited to Sicily. Sicilian white in Mumbai is hard to wear. In monsoons, it is nearly impossible unless one wants a delicate fringing pattern of splattered mud.

I am really at a loss. I have no clue what I need to do from this point on. It's a very strange, unsettling, dark feeling. It's like somewhere I have lost the plot. So, I have to stop everything that I am doing and take care of unfinished business:

My divorce - which has been pending for so long now.
My writing.
My book or movie script.
My yoga practice where I can do the shirshasan and halasan and thousand suryanamaskars a day.
My first long meditation retreat.
My first experience of having enough money in the bank to brunch at the Zodiac Grill every single day for the rest of my life.

There is so much work and such little time. I can't get to the zone where I can figure out what to do to get all these things in place.

Honestly, I need a manager. I was such an accomplished kid - topped my class, in the tenth topped my school and the zone and stood seventh in the state or something, won elocutions everywhere, debates aplenty, was the class captain for many grades, etc. etc. I think all this was possible because my mother was strict. She worked me to the bone and rarely took 'No' for an answer.

Then somewhere along the way, my mother got more understanding or something. There was all of that, "No matter what you do we will love you" etc. Maybe that's when the unravelling began. I wonder if all this independence has been good for me. Maybe if I were forced to work hard and write 10,000 words every 3 days, I would have accomplished something. My ex-husband and I had thought of opening a fund for public interest litigations. He had even gotten me all the required material and case laws. I had to go through them and come up with a proposal to be submitted to some government agency. I got distracted doing other things. He never ever pushed me to get to it. If I berated myself sometimes, he'd say, "Don't worry. It's okay." So that got strewn on the wayside.

These many months of freelance has taught me something. I am not indisciplined. I can set down a time schedule and a budget and stick to it. But I am spoilt. It hurts me to accept this but I think that is why I feel held back. I look around desperately for someone to blame and there's nobody. Sigh! What can I say? I suffer because I have always been accepted for who I was. The tragedy that is my life.

So, the plan is to introduce some rigor into my life - in the form of an impossible to please person. Maybe a really stringent editor who ensures that I write 25 articles a day. Maybe a fitness trainer who makes me do 400 crunches a session. Maybe a teacher who will keep returning assignments until I turn in a brilliant piece. Someone who will not get cowed down when I get stubborn and angry. Someone who will push me through my breaking point.

I accept it - I cannot do it by myself at this point.

Dear Universe, please send me someone who makes me that person Rudward Kilping wrote about. I want to be the one who can fill the unforgiving minute with sixty seconds worth of distance run.

Amen.

Saturday, June 04, 2011

What an evening!

I had the most slurpacious, delicious nap this evening.  A full two hours luxurious tour of snoozeland. I think a full, great dinner had something to do with that. There was some Lebanese pilaf made with broken wheat. My mother uses an amazing Lebanese spice that makes the entire house smell good. It's got a nice, spicy fragrance.

Okay, so there was that Luscious Lebanenon-spiced pilaf.

There was also rajma - just the way I like it, very soft with a slightly thick gravy. Wheat rotis - unevenly baked and hot from the tava. And the piece de resistance was the taal gud someone got us from Kolkata. Hot rotis or puris with slightly warm and runny taal gud is one the finest combinations I have ever, ever,ever come across. I don't like rotis too much. But with taal gud, I can eat a dozen.

As I systematically moved through my plate (heaped as it was), there was another kind of delectable drama happening in the sky. Grey clouds gathered. They got passionate and turned black. Heavy gusts of wind blew everything asunder. It felt like this world was a page that had become stuck and someone was furiously trying to turn it.

After I ate that and watched this beautiful crazy storm, I felt sedated. Heavy, molasses-like, thick velvet sleep overcame me and I don't know how I found myself under cool sheets. Sleeping. Maybe even peacefully dead for a couple of hours.

Over time, my definition of success has changed. It now features quality of sleep.

Today, I won.

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Mumbai by someone who probably never visited it...

I came acrross this passage by Mark Twain. It was part of his speech to St. Nicholas Society in New York, 1900, December 6. It's about New York but could very well have been about my super city.

"The foreigner coming to these shores is more impressed at first by our sky-scrapers. They are new to him. He has not done anything of the sort since he built the tower of Babel. The foreigner is shocked by them. In the daylight, they are ugly. They are - well, too chimneyfied and too snaggy - like a mouth that needs attention from a dentist, like a cemetery that is all monuments and no gravestones. But at night, seen from the river where they are columns towering against the sky, all sparkling with light, they are fairy-like; they are beauty more satisfactory to the soul than anything man has dreamed of since the Arabian nights."

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Well, just...

It is the first of June and I find myself in my father's office. I have to wrap up some work urgently and then head to a meeting at Worli Naka in the afternoon. So, of course, there is no reason why I should be blogging. However, like I said, it is  the first of the month and there is always a fresh, crisp feeling when one does something on the first.

Like my little nephew. He managed to be born on the first of June five years ago. In his short, checquered life, he has learnt to make life simple for those around him. Therefore, when I asked him, "What do you want for your birthday?", he said, "Anything...make it big but." These are exactly the sort of guidelines one looks for in life.

My neighbor from Vashi has shifted to Mahalakshmi. A very sweet girl with stormy moods. She's a great cook and loves feeding people, which is why my deep affection. In Vashi, for the longest time, she was feeling restless. Today, from her new home, she texts me in the morning (a time of day I don't think she's been acquainted with for a long time). "I can see the treetops!", she says. Now, upon catching the sight of brilliant green in the morning, she is planning a luncheon for her friends. There was some talk of having 8 different kinds of cheeses and fresh, hard and crusty bread from Indigo Deli.

Last few days have seen some slipped opportunities. This month, though, I intend to remedy that. I think every month must have one over-riding priority. A goal to which every other action and decision must be subservient to. This month, I shall make mine business development. Just spend a solid week or ten days polishing up my resume and compiling a portfolio of work. Yes, that should give my work a boost.

Okay, this is it. I will get back to work now. The first of the month has been tackled. I'll leave the rest for other days.