Thursday, July 31, 2014

930: That shade of purple (Fiction)

They sat on a purple sofa that was slightly askew. He didn't mind it as much as he would ordinarily have. After all, she was gracious enough to have invited him over. Wait. Not gracious.  They had spoken on the phone a couple of times and she had seemed nice enough. She at least showed some  interest in him and not his salary or whether he had a house…his 'own' house, that is. By that most women seemed to mean a house that she could share but his parents would have nothing to do with. It had been so long since he'd been on this matrimonial trail. He could actually trace the evolution of this conversation. There used to be a time when the woman and he'd be in the intimate darkness of a car. They'd have met a few times earlier and laughed and watched movies or gone for walks. Then just as he would re-arrange his biases such that it made space for a future, this conversation would come up. And he'd get this slightly bitter taste in the back of his throat. "No", he wanted to say. "It's not my 'own' house. I dragged myself into a dead-end job to pay for it. I didn't buy that great guitar because the EMI would cut into it. I swallowed my pride in the company of my 'entrepreneur' friends for being a conventional rug-rat and living with my parents while they lived out their dreams in rented apartments. All that made me angry and resentful. And I took it out on my parents every night when I'd shove the food and turn up the volume of the telly and not talk to them. No. It's not my "own" house and it certainly won't be yours."

Now, the 'own house' discussion would come up soon after "hello".

This girl hadn't asked him that, though. She'd asked him to come over to her house in the next city instead. At first, this did strike him to be a little forward. She lived by herself. And this match was arranged, so to speak. Somehow, in the way she'd said, "Come over then", he'd sensed escapism.  He wasn't sure if they'd be compatible but he had driven four hours to find out. So far, it hadn't been a total disaster.

Her house had been a mess but the food had been excellent. Mushroom with haleem masala was a first for him. But it went excellently with the brown rice. Most of the furniture was tilted or skewed. Her clothes were weird. Or 'eclectic', as I think she called them. She was nice looking enough. But that strange, untamable scent that came off her body when they'd hugged that afternoon was funny.  Actually, it was not. He doubted whether she'd ever have the maturity to stick to or commit to anything unpleasant. Although, why he thought marriage with him would be unpleasant, he didn't know. He was being eccentric. No, wait. Weird.
She had a tiny garden in front of her kitchen. "They're pretty weeds", she'd explained why she hadn't bothered with uprooting them. He got a little irritated. Sure. If you got ditzy, anything is 'pretty' enough to just leave it as it is. Maybe the garbage clearance staff should tell her once, "Oh but miss, look how your trash has all these primary colours. Let's leave it here."

But there were a few tiny bulbs strewn around and she'd also lit a half-used vanilla scented candle. There was a cup of whiskey for him (she didn't have the right glass) and a cup of green tea for her. They shared a wedge of carrot cake he'd brought over and after a long time, he felt a sense of something getting calm inside of him. A knot that stayed lodged in the middle of his chest…it seemed to be rounding off the edges a little. It was nice, he thought, looking around. Maybe he should have invested in a house with a garden.
Almost delicately she broached the subject of why they were meeting. What kind of girl was he looking out for? What kind of life did he want for him and his wife? Children? His take on fidelity? He liked that she was coaxing out his responses and not demanding them out of her. He liked that this conversation was happening without a timer.

It was close to midnight now. He really had to get back unless…unless she insisted he could stay. Her invitation was there, of course. Her insistence on the matter would make the difference.
They got up. She asked him if he'd like more cake for the road. Or a thermos of strong coffee maybe. They entered the living room again and he collected his things. As she filled a thermos with black coffee, she turned and asked him, "Do you really want to marry?"  He looked in her eyes and saw her answer. No.
And there was that again.

That slight rise of bile. That irritation with free-floating types that had made a lifestyle of being lost, clueless, and irresponsible. She'd never ever take a home loan, he thought.

He tried to get the edge out of his voice when he said, "Yes. I'd like to."


Then, just before he left, he straightened the purple sofa.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

931 - What I found in translation


Outside, it poured fast and thick.  Inside the car, I listened to my happy songs. They are songs from 'Yeh jawaani hai deewani.' I love Badtameez Dil and listen to it every day. Friends make fun of me, family is exasperated,  but I love it. When I drive to work with this tune filling up the car, I feel like I have my face shoved in a large cloud of candyfloss. I am filled with cheer and a large, prickly, tingly amount of it. On a break from that song, though, I was listening to another number from the same movie, "Via Agra." I didn't like that song too much but warmed to it after seeing the picturisation. Still, I found it trite and silly, manufacturing jollity where none existed.

Today, though, I had to translate a line from the song to a friend who doesn't understand Hindi. That line translated to, "Your skirt is a fluttering, wandering rumour." (Udhti, phirti afvaa hai tera ghaagra.) Suddenly, that song shone a little bit for me. There could have begun the spinning of sugar, right about then.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

932

Everybody wants to be so damn special.  Well, we are not. Not much difference between one another. We are much too similar anyway...at times just as crappy, at times just as happy.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

933 - Could there be a connection?

It seems as if there haven't been too many great horror films or too many great love stories in the last few decades. Could it be that as we lose our ability to frighten, we lose our ability to move someone with matters of the heart?

Friday, July 25, 2014

934 - On reading Camus

I am reading Albert Camus' 'The Outsider'. In the dead of the night, when the tasks are done, his simple prose just wakes up something inside of me. And that thing that wakes up, wakes up screaming quietly.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

935 - Will always choose mushrooms, thyme after thyme

Tonight I made mushrooms my favorite way. Wash them, tear them with your fingers, and fry them in sesame or mustard oil until they are brown. Then add a good strong meat masala (not tandoori, though). Ideally, the haleem masala is perfect but I used a Badshah meat masala which waa nice. My flatmate had suggested I use thyme so I sprinkled some generously. After the mushrooms were coated really well, I turned up the heat and cooked the pieces. They turned a nice, delicious smoky brown.

Meanwhile I had cooked the rice all niceband soft, almost to baby-food consistency. So, I added the mushrooms and the masala to the rice and mixed it up.

It was really something!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

936 - Daily ritual

It was a really long day at work. My buddy at work who I have tea/ coffee with is out of town so I worked straight through tea-time. In my world, it's tougher than working through lunch. I think it's because with the rains, there's just a slimmer window forgetting the last light of the day. So, if I miss that, I feel like I've missed something important, maybe an episode of my favorite series.

But it went off well and I reached home to a hot dinner of some really good pasta that my flatmate had made. That and Red Bull.After she went to bed, I stayed back and dusted the books on my shelf. It was so comforting. Last night I didn't feel pressured into wondering when I would have enough time to read all of them. It felt very wholesome and fuzzy.

I think it's a good bedtime ritual.


Tuesday, July 22, 2014

937 - One wonders

If you stood on top of the sky so that all that light blue was beneath your feet and you felt it rip a little somewhere. And through that rip, you saw the peak of a green and brown hill and the fragile crown of a waterfall. And if you widened the rip a little with your fingers or your toes and a bright pink hibiscus waved at you.

You, lost god, would you wave back? 

Sunday, July 20, 2014

939 - Begin again

Today, I saw the movie 'Begin Again' starring Keira Knightly and Mark Ruffalo. I liked it. It is trite and stereotypical in places - the romance of NYC, the British-rose demeanour of Keira Knightly, Ruffalo looking scruffy yet again, and the shallowness of the music industry. But the songs are really nice. One imagines listening to it with the lights off, a candle flickering, and waiting for the dawn to break.

 

Saturday, July 19, 2014

940 - About the sky and the clouds

Last few days, I have stopped yoga and going up a hill for a walk. My friend and I trudge slowly up, notice sometimes the origin of a waterfall that is still a thin stream. Sometimes we stop awhile to spot a snail snack on a mushroom. Then we reach the top of the hill and sit on  rock. The sky is open. I is always open, yes, but when you are sitting under an open sky, it looks open in a way that makes you quiet. It feels childish to say this but when I first climbed that hill and sat there, I thought to myself that the sky is so up. It's higher, much higher than the tallest tree, the tallest building, the tallest peak of the tallest mountain. Yes. The sky is high. I wonder if this is why a state of inebriation is referred to as being 'high', even though it might bring you to the depths of sorrow. If you are drunk, then you are high even if you feel 'low'.

Anyway, my friend and I chitchat a little but mostly look around. The clouds move slowly, inch in one direction, so unfettered but so steady and so, so soft. You can't hear a cloud. You don't listen to it scrape or shuffle across the sky. It just passes on.

What kind of a world is it that looks down on 'drifter'?  

Friday, July 18, 2014

941 - super day

Today was a really sweet day t work. I worked on something felt smoothened out. Like everything else I have worked on so far, this assignment too was a tasty one. And like the other ones, this too came with that paradox of rushing through it when ideally one wanted to take one's time with it, craft it, jewel it up, polish it, and let it dazzle. However, it got done and not just 'done'. It seemed to have taken on the wholesomeness of a home-cooked meal. After a long time, I was satisfied with what I had written. It was simple. Usually, I'm burning up with excitement with so many many ways to treat a particular piece of content. Things sometime go well. Sometimes, they go all over the place. But today, it just fit well together.

Anyway, that's what I think of it. It gets edited tomorrow. But today, my writing satisfied me.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

942 - unlikely book buy

I bought Ramit Sethi's 'I will teach you to be rich'. I still look at it on my kindle app and wonder, "Hmm...how uncharacteristic but perhaps necessary."

Time to make some money. 

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

943 - Walk home in the rain

Wet streets, cold rain, and street lamps painting the road the colour of melted butter. Felt so good. 

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

944 - Humpty Sharma ki Dulhaniya

If that movie is Karan Johar's ode to DDLJ and a tribute to Shah Rukh Khan, then clearly there has been a fall-out with the Chopras and the Khan. I do not get the big deal about Varun Dhawan and Alia Bhatt looks 15. Which is probably why those lovemaking scenes make one uncomfortable. And what was that scene with Angad drinking milk?

It is very saddening to be this bored.


Monday, July 14, 2014

945 - Sunday in Mumbai

This Sunday was in Mumbai. I took the familiar bus from Vashi to Bandra. There was a trouble in the bus and the conductor and the driver callously let us out in the rain. I joined forces - or voices, at the very least - with a man in a red tee-shirt who told them that this was wrong. Usually, such an argument would have made me uncomfortable. But that morning, it felt good to feel that surge of edge back. 

Mumbai was beautiful and Bandra was stunning. I shopped at Hill Road and walked along Bandstand. The sea churned. The skies were ripped to let out the rain. Huge waves crashed against the promenade. It was magnificent beyond belief. So magnifent that people, slack-jawed, witnessed the waves (yes 'witness'. 'See' is too small to what you do when you confront something like that.) instead of staring at Mannat. They witnessed the waves instead of leching at some girl in a wet tee. They witnessed the downpour and the expansiveness of the sea and I think they felt what I felt - what I always feel in Bombay - a thudding, subtle, resounding, quiet, yet roaring 'Yes'.

It is a city of yesness.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

946 - Mumbai-Pune ride

Took the bus to Bombay yesterday afternoon. The Mumbai-Pune highway is gorgeous. It's like you've gone to a restaurant that serves up excellent views of mountains and monsoon clouds and you eat dish after dish of the most succulent treats. Tufts and patches of green that will hurt your eyes. Strong, sturdy mountains that rise up like frozen muddy waves. Clouds grazing and wrapping over the peaks. Slender, silvery waterfalls that braid the mountain faces. It's qa beautiful world!

Saturday, July 12, 2014

On a KP visit

Tough day that had begun well. There was a climb up a lovely hill in Baner. There was a nice, rainy evening and day off from work. It finished off with a trip to Koregaon Park. As homey and pretty as Baner is, it's at KP that something inside gets unknotted and relaxed. Maybe it's all those memories of having lived in a simpler time or having been a simpler person. That little area that had hinted that I could find that sweet spot in Pune. To enjoy anything in Baner somehow feels like serenading a current flame with a song that was written for a past love. Just as true. Just as false.

947

A friend and I walked up a hill this morning. It was lush and green. The sky was inky blue and the climb was easy. We sat a little bit near the temple and then climbed down to begin a good day. However, I reached home and retched for a couple of hours. There was fever and a sudden surreal experience of I don't know what happened. I kept looking at a bunch of keys and wondering what they were and what they could be used for.

Took the day off work to sleep off this weird fear that maybe I just might be losing my mind now. Going to Bombay tomorrow.

Friday, July 11, 2014

948

I looked out the window in the pantry. There was no milk in the coffee machine and there was no rain around. The day had just begun and it had already started seeming deficient. It wore on. I finished some work and made a couple of work-calls. I spoke to a client based out of Mumbai. I asked her whether it was raining in Mumbai. She said 'Yes'. She also softly mentioned that even though the city might get flooded, it needed the rain. They'd put up with it.

Rains - even in their outset, bring out a willingness to sweetly surrender to a greater common good.

Somehow the fact that it was raining in Mumbai and not in Pune - it made me feel a little forsaken. I took a break and went back to the coffee machine. The weather was excellent but no rain. I took my coffee and squeezed my eyes shut to pray, really, really, really pray that it please rain today. Please. I remember praying that hard one afternoon in school during a Geography class. I had looked out the window and with every ounce of strength that I had, I had wished for clouds to gather and rain to pour down. It had.

Anyway, the pantry was getting crowded. I left and there was still no rain. A colleague and I decided to go to the terrace for an early lunch and there was the silvery, magical mist in the air. Rain. Gossamer. Shimmery. Angel-whisper rain. Later in the evening, it rained a little harder.

In Hindi, there's a phrase that, translated, means that if you could have wished for anything, you'd have got it. (The context for this is usually when you've wished for something mundane and that has come your way.) The notion is that right about that time, there's some channel that's open between you and whatever vortex that has all kinds of fulfilled wishes that will get sucked in your direction. Today, though, even if I had a full array of whatever I could get after wishing for it, I'd choose this.

I'd choose rain.

Note: Also, perhaps very opportune that my thousandth post is about a day when it rained and my prayers were answered.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

949

I fasted today after a really long time. Kept myself supplied with thick lassis, coconut water, lime water, and tea. So my stomach was full. Yet somehow my breathing was more normal and my head was clearer. I think I will try doing it once every week. I had read somewhere that 20% of your month should be spent in fasting - which means no food at all.

From my experience today, it is worth a try.

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

950

One more day ends. There we were, sipping Diet Coke under a grey sky outside Subway. Talking of Goa and planning a dinner some other time. Nothing concrete was decided and still the day ended. Time stayed yet passed on, like the sketch of two people done with charcoal. Still life, the call it. It's smudged into a distant but certain tomorrow...when time will shade us some more.

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

951

Really...thank you. All of you. Many of you actually took the time to write to me and share your stories. Thank you so much. :-)

Monday, July 07, 2014

952

Bobby Jasoos last night. It was quite sweet. We saw it at Rahul and one of us was a foreigner. It was quite commendable that she followed most of it. Only hundred rupees for a ticket. And blue wooden benches outside the screens where you can sit and wait. Two kinds of popcorns, one kindof coffee, pne type of butter wafers. And parking - lots of it. The parking attendant had fallen asleep so I couldn't pay him on the way out.

Nice.

Sunday, July 06, 2014

953

Long time ago, I had written a post and some people had not liked it. I don't remember the details. However, one person had something like, "You need help." I don't think it was said with any degree of empathy. It was certainly not said with any degree of concern either. And I wonder why that phrase has come to represent such an insult or a put-down. In any case, that person probably had diagnosed something pretty accurately at the time.

I do need help and I'd like details of some people I can actually talk to.

Lately, I have felt very shattered and overwhelmed. There is no outward reason for I. But it has come to the point where I have started feeling a dull sense of solace in this exasperation. I talk, chat, smile, go for walks, crack jokes, sparkle at the odd dinners, show up for yoga - but I carry within me a knot that is hardening every minute with every interaction. It's easy to peg everything on the job or the past or the society but I don't think that's it. I find myself feeling helpless in a strange sort of way.

To cut a long story short, I do think I need help.

If anyone knows of a good counsellor in Pune, can you please share the contact details. I have asked a couple of friends but they don't quite know.

Many times I am criticized for being so open on a public forum - a space where I really don't exclude anyone. Family reads it, friends read it, people at work may or may not read it, ex-colleagues might, exes of any stripes might as well. It is not always easy. Consequences of doing that have been hard. Many times it's ridicule, sometimes it's derision for being attention-seeking. Why do I continue to do it?

One is Salman Rushdie's Shame and the passage that he has written when Omar Khayyam first goes to school and his aunts' advice on how to deal with that crippling, debilitating, overpowering, impotence-inducing emotion: shame. "Do not ever, ever feel it", they said. (I strongly urge everyone to either read the novel or go to a bookstore, hunt out that paragraph and go through that at least.)

The other is an incident that happened in my second week in Pune. I took a rick from my house to get to office. I asked the autorickshaw driver to take a U-turn and drop me in front of the office. He said no and how he had made a mistake taking me on because he didn't want to take a turn. Then he started yelling and I yelled back. I told him if he didn't take the turn, he could say goodbye to his fare. He took the turn, I got off, and as I walked across to office, he yelled 'Rundi'. That means slut in English.

He yelled it.

The guards at the workplace heard it. Some people from office who have tea in a stall nearby heard it. The place I buy cold bottles of water also heard it. I kept hearing it in my head for many many days. Anyway, that day I somehow reached office. I did not cry in the office bathroom as I would have usually. I just really honestly thought of what it would be to land up wherever he was and shoot him. On his groin. I went over that sequence again and again in my head. My stomach was burning and my head was exploding.

I called up a friend. I told him what had happened. I told him what the auto-fellow had called me. And he said, "Slut toh slut. Don't bother. Take a day off and go home." I didn't go home. I did bother. But I felt a very deep sense of relief. For some reason I don't know what was going on in my head but I wanted someone to take the sting of shame away from me. I wanted to deal with my anger that anyway ruins my system so quickly. I didn't want to deal with shame also. Anyway, I always hear a lot of remarks about what I wear and how I am overfriendly with guys (although how anyone thinks I am anyway even remotely polite with anyone - leave alone over-friendly, I don't know.)

But I think taken collectively, these two things clarified something in my mind - I will not feel shame. I.will.not. If I do, on instinct, I will reverse it. If I am asked to feel it, I will deny it. If I cannot manage to do it, then I will still try doggedly.

Anyway, I have tried very very hard to deal with whatever anger or residual pain that keeps choking me intermittently. I am not strong or willing enough to cope with it anymore. I always consider options like going to Bombay, back to my parents. I consider locking this blog down and be done with it. Or change cities and life. Or become vegan. But if the past is any indicator, none of it will work permanently.

So, yes, I need help.

If anyone knows of a good counsellor in Pune or even Bombay who I can meet over a weekend, please do let me know. Thank you.

Saturday, July 05, 2014

Friday, July 04, 2014

955

I have been feeling really beaten lately. It would be nice to just have my mom around making me khichdi and asking me if I want more butter on top of it. Or be in love and sleep with that person's hand on my ear. I would just really really like some kind of comfort. My eyes are parched and I haven't been able to sleep for so long. On top of that, I have to be strong. Or not really. I have to be functional but that feels like being the same thing to me right about now. But the Universe has been kind. It has rained today and I took a friend from out of town to Peter Donuts. She is going through some severe transition as well. And when two people are going through some jagged times, I think they melt into that time of life when joy was there, when there was simplicity and wonder but also a sweet taking-for-granted of all the friendships and sunshine and favorite seasons rolling in on time. I think they melt into childhood. We spoke about our childhoods over donuts and coffee. Then I came home and laid out my clothes for work. I made coffee because I have to work through the night now. Been very scattered lately and colossally unable to focus. But will still plod on.

Still to feel better, I ordered a book - Where the Wild Things are by Maurice Sendak. My warm hand on the ear for tonight. :-)


Thursday, July 03, 2014

956

Float away, the rain-sea that is also the sky.       
Untethered to anything.
Shuffled by wind.                                           
Still, it sinks.

 Lower and lower with the pull of the million eyes that look up and hope.

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

957

I saw a very beautiful man today. He had a face that...that...you looked at and you thought at you were looking at clear blue sky.

958

It has been so frenetic since the last week and my stomach has been churning really hard. Usually, when that happens, there is a drastic change afoot. As it turns out, I may have a flatmate for a while. I think that the way to manage any change, unexpected or drastic, is to approach it with tenderness. So, that's the plan.