Wednesday, September 30, 2015

573: The unbridled missing

For some unbridled missing...I miss Bombay. Out of nowhere, I miss Bombay today the way I haven't missed it in ages. I miss my home there, my friends there, my friendships there, my freedom there, my work there, my offices, my bosses, my colleagues, trains, cabs, buses, the busy-ness, the business, the life, the ennui, the living, the way I was, the acceptance, the non-labelling, the resilience, the oblivion on a platter, the sense of hope, the gritty broken truth behind every fragment of every fa├žade the stories, the shifting endings of stories...I miss it so so so badly. I miss that I could meet people I'd understand and very little seemed to be fake and friendships, if hollow, seemed to be hollow, and if deep, lasted a long time and rode out many storms...not the fucking play-acting happening in Pune...with the endless scrutiny and the incessant labelling and the slow-poisoned judgment of whoever you are. (Having said that, very thankful Shaniwarwada, KP, and Bhandarkar Road. That was nice...and there's always the happy, charming Bangalore. Thank God for cities and the sweet escapes they represent.)

Maybe for the rest of my days in the city, will imbibe the lessons from Chitale Bandhu (who just struck me as the wisest people to have cracked the code for surviving Pune): For as long as you can manage, keep yourself closed and the keep those people out.
 

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

574: What this is or will be about

Some time ago, I had written about a very low point in my life in recent times. There seemed to have been a lot of build-up, resistance, and denial about it I feel. Around that time, when I was going through what I was, Deepika Padukone had just come out with her confession regarding depression. I applauded that. Then one day, in office, a colleague told me about what she was going through. It seemed very similar to my predicament. My reaction, though, was not one of empathy. I told her to suck it up and also to just stop playing victim. I was telling her the same script that I was telling myself.

I think I was doing that because, for some reason, I was denying it in myself.

Then I had that moment where I wept to my mom. I went to a counsellor and I wrote about it. A couple of people read it. That, still for some reason, surprises me. That people read what I write here...but so it goes. Anyway, I knew a couple of people who did read that post. I knew them and I met them.

Now, I'm not very sure how I come across to someone who reads my blog - whether my blog is more ad than I am or I'm not as interesting as it is or what. After that post, in a couple of occasions, people have sat across me and told me, "So you went to a counsellor, huh?" I smiled, nodded, and sipped my coffee/ water/ wine. And I wondered just how cold must a person be to read that and not offer solace or kindness or even the courtesy of not bringing it up if one didn't know what to do with the information.

That, at least, was my initial reaction.

The reason I was not rude or curt with those people is because, well, I don't forget much. I remember  the colleague from long ago who'd invited me home to simply talk to me when I'd written something sad. He didn't need to. We hadn't even worked all that closely together. I didn't even know he read the blog. But he had called me, something of a stranger, to his place to talk. It is not a small act. To reach out to one on the brink of crumbling is not a small act.

The other thing I remember is how I had rebuffed my friend when she'd tried to tell me that her stomach felt hollow and her eyes felt empty. I had snapped at her and then, feeling guilty, had tried to distract her by taking her for a movie and gelato. Since both were good, it had worked somewhat.

I also remember how those people who had asked me, oh so casually, whether I'd gone to counsellor and how it went (like a cute parlor game), gently present the fact that they too had been to counsellors, take or refused drugs, taken or refused Coke, solicited or refused sex, and considered extreme measures.

Since I hate any kind of weakness and since I saw (sometimes still do) a compellingly sad mood as a weakness, I keep my distance. So I understand those people's need to keep their distance too.

I'm now all too familiar with the way the polite veneer cracks when you think that somebody watches...and you know that somebody knows. Maybe at that time, I could have reached out too. But I didn't.

Anyway, I am not out of the woods although many, many good days have passed since and many, many more good days will pass now. But I wanted to write about my...umm...passage through the tunnel. Because I am in it now. I don't want to write about it once I have everything figured out and life is good and all my wishes have come true and all that. I want to write about it now because as crazy scary as it may be, it is pretty exciting. It is like you're stuck in a tunnel for so long that your eyes get used to the darkness and you start seeing faint lines and then stronger strokes, and finally patterns and pictures on the tunnel walls. The current depression comes from some deep, past hurt (or so they say) so that pain has to be explored like an archeological marvel. Pain is a city. Wasn't built in a day.

A long time ago, a friend was narrating a particular scene from some thriller. She described this scene so vividly that even now, I get confused whether I had read the book myself or seen it in a film or heard it from her.

This is the scene:

There is a dangerous man in a bath tub. He's having a nice, steaming hot bath. He's not too tall or well-built. He is neat little Japanese man with pale, white skin. But he's sitting in water so scalding that it's amazing that he hasn't suffered burns yet. After a good long soak, he realizes it's time to  kill the person he was hired to put out. When he gets up, you see that his back has a special tattoo in ink that is visible only in very hot, humid vapour. It's a strong, full, fierce tiger...ready to pounce.

I think that's what the sadness feels like now. It's uncomfortable and hot...but I think beyond a point, it will trace out those wounds sharply enough and then we can see them do something about them.

I suppose I'm not in that place where I can really be kind in person, just yet. I will still be gruff and non-chalant. But in light of the goodness I have received, I'd like to put my kindest, truest self forward - which is through my writing.

This is not to help anyone. I won't arrogate myself to that position. I won't give advice. I will though write about what's making this tunnel-dwelling easier for me. Or even more difficult.

If you read this, meet me for coffee, and still ask me "How are you?" in that knowing, not-knowing way I will smile and say 'Great' and mean it too. But I'd still like you to know that the paces we are putting ourselves through is okay. For the time being. Until we can accept it in ourselves and be kind to it in others.

Until then the dance and deceit will continue. Until the water gets hot enough.

Monday, September 28, 2015

This is imperative

This video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HyUYa-BnjU8


576, 575

Here's the weekend in broad strokes...

Lots of food. LOTS. My mom was here so, of course, there was plenty of grub. But she returned to Bombay and left behind her cook in Pune for a few days. And she's awesome. So yesterday I had her make vegetable samosas (at home - samosas at home!), halwa made of wheat flour, a crushed chutney made of these dried rice pellets you get in Orissa (this was a huge hit) and small uttapas with a topping of onion, capsicum, and tomatoes. Called a friend over for chai, we ate all this, and then we went for a walk, and swung on the swing and I tried to forget that my shorts from Zara are tight.

Anyway, this month, I will be lax. Next month, I will get disciplined. 

The day before that I was a friend's place who was housekeeping for her folks because they're away. That place is posh. Like P.O.S.H. All gleaming ceramics and pretty stone artifacts, even in the loos, pastel, sandalwood theme everywhere, ornate copper bells hanging as separators between sections in the living room (and it is a multi-storeyed place with several rooms), a spotless kitchen, and just the genteel kind of rich hush that a moneyed place brings. (My balcony has a pigeon.)

They have two large gardens - one where we sat and skimmed through papers while my friend got us wine in wine glasses. There were twinkling fair lights around a shrub. We then went inside and watched T.V. We ate. We lounged and then I left.

It was so good! A home that is tended to so meticulously is so nice!

I'd like to be very, very rich. So much so that even the grass that grows in my lawn and peeps out of the earth, sings to the abundance that awaits it. 

It is now Monday and one is back to work. 




Friday, September 25, 2015

577

I watched Katti Batti yesterday and I really liked it. Imran Khan has improved so much! Also liked that, maybe in a seemingly cheesy, mostly unliked film, someone seems to have got it - that moving on isn't all that it's trumped up to be.

What I am wondering about today - that not all things matter and it perhaps doesn't matter to matter. So, does nothing matter? Hmm. I don't feel that the answer to that is an outright 'No'.


Thursday, September 24, 2015

579, 578

The day before yesterday, we had the farewell for a colleague. She was a friend, I suppose. Situational. We both liked watching movies in cinema halls. On a New Year's eve that we found our calendars empty, we hung out together. She had introduced me to the meetup groups in Pune and also to a man who, for better or for worse, taught me a few hard lessons.

She left yesterday. To travel. To take a break. To make other plans without also having to juggle the mundane.

Yesterday, we had Ganpati visarjan of the idol we'd kept in office. That friend wasn't there. There was dhol taasha and there were modaks and I didn't go because I had work.

It felt normal, funny, hollow, regular.

Like we try to piece together a jigsaw of the void and every piece of puzzle is made of vapour.

Monday, September 21, 2015

583, 582, 581, 580: I prayed like a pagan that day

I prayed like a pagan that day

To clay that had the imprints of tide and thumb,
To a single hibiscus in the softest shade of peach
That had petals and stamen gilded with the gold of the sun, the blue of the sky, and the translucent glory of rain,
To hand-crafted sticks of incense from which wafted fragrances like soul, like music, like memory,
To a single tiny square of raw sugar,
To the lust and lush of flames...

I prayed like a pagan that day

When I was distracted from the void and the peace
When my fingers stroked every bit and bend of artful form
When I stared at every pixel of purple and green
When I only saw beauty in all that impermanence
And was grateful for believing
That the impermanence redeemed
That the beauty was enough



 

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

584

Some days one is so lucky to actually meet up with two friends. After work, met up with a friend at Peter Donuts. We had coffee and eggs. He told me about the writing he had gotten done by taking a week off, a sushi place he had tried out (Soy at Koregaon Park), and some other random things.

I drove home and just got the feeling that I wasn't quite done yet. So I took a chance by texting another friend if she was up for a drive. She said yes.

Picked her up, we drove to Koregaon Park, had salted caramel yogurt from 'Yogurt Bay' - which was very tasty, and drove back.

All in all, a good evening.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

586, 585

A friend who lost her dog recently had come to stay over last night.

I really liked that sweet, affectionate cocker spaniel. While I warmed up the egg curry and heated up the rice and fried some chilly with garlic, I couldn't believe that the dog was gone. I mean, not in a sad agitated way. Just that the dog has gone off to play somewhere and the owner's exaggerating.

Where did he go?

There's a pigeon laying eggs under a table in the balcony. I am not pleased about it...but maybe I am a little bit. I have never been close to flora or fauna but now I lots of lovely plants that I've tended to since the last two days. And I like that a pregnant pigeon found it hospitable enough to want to bring forth life here. Maybe pigeons don't give it all that much thought. I told my pal to not smoke in the balcony. Maybe it would be nice to make things a little pleasant for the pigeon.

But when will those eggs be laid and when will they hatch and when will I get my terrace back to do my yoga?

In other news, I have discovered David Sedaris who.is.excellent.


Sunday, September 13, 2015

587

Yesterday I went to a counsellor with my mother. We were late because the doctor's office was quite a distance from my house. (Vashi to Babulnath can take a while!) But I always like taking the new highway and try to stop my heart from lurching with love and awe every time I see the skyline! Anyway, the drive was fun, even if long. The session was short, though, and I guess there wasn't much breakthrough. But I noticed that after nearly 6 years, I bought and wore a necklace in German silver, earrings, and went for coffee with a friend. So, small steps maybe...but a little bit of joy.

This morning, on a lark, I gave a scene to my mom and her masseuse to act out.

The scene was this: There's a matriarch of a large family that is largely absent. She is still a stickler for propriety and so, even in a large empty house, instead of having her meals in the bedroom in front of the T.V., she still has the table laid out, the chandelier polished, the drapes match the table placements, and the silver polished until they shone. She lives only with a maid who doubles up as a cook. They have lived together, like this, for nearly a decade. While they are mistress and maid and that distinction is still apparent, a certain familiarity has permeated the equation. The maid can approach the mistress without a preamble and simply ask for money to buy salt or ask for the extra tube of purple lipstick the mistress was about to throw away.

One evening, the maid comes in to ask the mistress about the half-eaten dinner on the table. The mistress looks up and says that she had cleared the plates herself. After all, she knew the maid would be out in the garden anyway. The maid is not convinced. The custard has spilled on the mats, the chicken is shredded but not eaten, the gravy has spilled and stained the tablecloth. She's listing each such aberration when she notices her mistress's gaze to someone behind her. The hair on her neck stands and she realizes who it is. The dead need to eat too.

After some initial joking and stuff, they did the scene. I think they were quite good.

Maybe I SHOULD write a movie.  A good, horror film.




 

Friday, September 11, 2015

588

The flowers are blooming so nicely. A bright orange hibiscus was dancing away in the early morning showers and the chilly plant, with its dangerously long chillis, is a rockstar!

I'm thinking large black and white portraits of each plant.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

590, 589

I will lay this baldly.

First two days in Bangalore were very bad. I was hurt and weepy and walked around like an open wound. I think it was because around me I saw couples and I was tired of being by myself. Over dinner one night, I shared it with a friend. I asked him what men looked for in a woman. He casually said that I should get laid. It felt very, very bad. Like that scene in Kill Bill where she puts a sword through someone's stomach and twists it a little before pulling it out.

But later it became better. I stayed away from that friend, roamed around, and had food and fun.

The heart and stomach still ached and it felt heavy and vacant...like it was carrying sadness like a dead, black baby (or that was how Sylvia Plath described it in one of her poems...or was it 'Bell Jar'?)
But I got through it - one long bus ride at a time. One coffee by myself at a time. One dinner with some friends at a time. One sleepless night a time.

I came back. That night I held my mother and cried. Very, very hard. It would be fair to say that I cried like a baby but to my recollection, I have never cried like that nor have I seen babies who cried like that. In any case, my mom was alarmed and so was I. I wasn't surprised though because I think I had been behaving strong and capable for a long time. I wasn't and the fakeness had perhaps caught up. My mom asked me because if it was I didn't have a partner. I felt that was it. That everyone I know, including Donald Trump- who I don't know...but well, have partners. They can talk to them about life being empty. They can say that there's no milk in the house - go get some. They can ask what is to be cooked for lunch. They can talk about the fears of what will happen after the parents are gone. I can't do that.

But...

I tried to imagine what it would be to have someone to hold and talk to. That knot in the stomach didn't go away. That tightness in the chest didn't relax. I was scared. So I just held on to my mother and cried and cried and asked her to fix it. To fix whatever it was that was causing just so much pain. When I eat nowadays, I hold my breath while eating. I eat a lot and fast - to glut out anything that might come up remotely resembling sadness. Or pain. Anyway, I remember crying very deeply and asking Ma to fix it. She held me and said that she would.

Then after many many days I slept.

She has bought me some very pretty plants, which I have to tend to. They are very pretty so I think I'll be motivated to take care of them.

I have to go to a counsellor this weekend.

Just met a friend at Apache and we had a lot to drink - some beers and a pretty Long Island Iced Tea.

I have decided to do yoga three times a week and so far have kept it up.

And while I had told my mom, that if something did not change I could do something drastic, I have decided to just stay curious. It would be interesting to see how the next how many ever thousands of days turn out.

Today at the pub, when my friend had gone to the loo, I thought about the author she recommended I read - just in case I got diagnosed with depression - David Sedaris. So I thought about ordering a book and I looked at the rain falling softly against the light of the street lamp. I have always loved it.Very, very much. Maybe this is all there is to it? To figure out a few things that one may love and be quiet about...and to notice them whenever they are around?

I wanted to write about what I am going through. I had thought of writing this much later when I had more clarity and strength. I don't know how it will be received by someone fro work if they are reading it. But today I was moved by the prevalence of beauty and alcohol and a recommendation of a book. I think it is not end of the tunnel for me or not even the beginning...but just in case, anyone reading it has felt the way I felt...I don't know...I can't say it will get better or easier...I can only say that I felt it too.

I feel it too.

Present tense.

Promise.



 

Tuesday, September 08, 2015

591

Yesterday was a good day.

Got an email from storymirror informing me that I've won their Season 1 contest.

Watered the plants yesterday. (Mum has got me close to 10 plants, of which some 7 have flowers.) They are too pretty!

A friend at work had got me home-made gulab-jamuns.

Had dinner with a friend and her dog. We had corn poha.
 

Monday, September 07, 2015

And also...

After going through a dark night of the soul, so to speak, one finds that that one's favorite author has written a new book. And that suddenly stultifies all grief and one finds a million specks of the most beautifu sunrises floating about one's room. This is exactly why books save and why writers can be very generous people. So, for the publishing of the book 'Two years, Eight Months, and Twenty Eight Nights, Salman Rushdie rescued me again tonight.

Rushdie, my hero.

A review is here: http://www.theguardian.com/books/2015/sep/04/two-years-eight-months-and-twenty-eight-nights-salman-rushdie-review

592

Sometimes I really wonder just what has to happen to make rude and personal remarks so blithely. Like really - what ought to have happened to make a deeply personal remark and then say that it was a joke! What part of the brain or the heart ought to have shut down so definitely to not have any kind of empathy?

Anyway, since one ought to end the day on a good note, here are a few fun things that happened. I bought a bunch of books - Life after Life by Kate Atkinson and The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins. I also ordered Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert online. I left a copy of this book in Bangalore and I haven't been able to get one at any of the bookstores in Pune.

Ate a lot of rice today which always makes me happy. There's also this preparation of a sweet puri that we make for Janmashtami that's real tasty. Also, did some yoga again after a really long time.

Ma left earlier in the day which was harder for me this time. But hopefully she'll be here soon.



 

Saturday, September 05, 2015

593

A post from long go: http://reve3.blogspot.in/2007/04/fresh-from-closet.html?q=paul+reiser

Somedays it's harder not to look back...and dwell.

After all, today is teacher's day. And what teaches more persistently than the past?

Friday, September 04, 2015

595, 594

from where i sit
i see a blue sky with clouds
it stretches across as far as i can see
i am told, it covers the whole world
every piece of earth can look up to it...
it starts off as blue from where i sit
but somewhere along the way it becomes dark and grey
or purple and gold
somewhere it holds the sun
somewhere else, the stars
somewhere in the midst of a billion nights
it hugs on to the the billion lights

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

596

I wonder if one searches for someone stronger than oneself because one is looking for someone to protect and save her from herself. She hasn't managed. Maybe someone stronger will?

Am really liking this song 'Saware' from Phantom: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CsOsmgUmT9U