Wednesday, March 30, 2016

424, 423, 422

Wrote something on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/bemost-definitely-mukta-raut?trk=hp-feed-article-title-publish

Saturday, March 26, 2016

425

I am sitting with a cup of coffee, looking out the window. There's a beautiful moon out there.It's not full but it seems like it has been there recently enough (and it has).

I've cut my hair really short now and I'm liking it.

It will be nice to have a deep, mysterious love affair with the sea. Like no matter where I am, I'll feel the scrunch of sand under my toes and I'll walk in the direction where I find the sea within 15 minutes. Then I swim and do some back floating and then come back to this world. And no one has to know.

It will be great if it rains right about now. Please God. Tonight. Let it rain.

Friday, March 25, 2016

426: First Impressions: Nocturnes by Kazuo Ishiguro

This is a set of five short stories, all centred around music and musicians.

In one, an aging singer serenades his wife before their marriage ends and their lives take a different direction. In another, a friend has been roped in to save his friend's marriage in an unconventional set-up. In the third story, an older musician couple interact with a young guitarist. As a result, the hollowness of this couple's equation with their own son comes through. The fourth one is a piece between a popular singer and a jazz musician. They meet in a swanky clinic where they have both had plastic surgery done. Although they are both bandaged and can't see each other, they connect through music, play each other's records, hum their favourite songs. This connection takes its time, though. In the final story, a Russian cellist finds and loses his groove through his interaction with an American virtuoso.

Each story is so delicately embroidered, so beautifully written - that they feel very touch and go...like gossamer, like the sweet smell of vanilla in milk, like the music that vanishes from the car when you go through a tunnel.

As a reality and a metaphor, Ishiguro explores the question of what remains when the music stops. And where would you be if the song played on.

428, 427

There has been no electricity since 2 a.m. My new, short haircut is keeping me cool but just about. I'm earing a sequinned, flowing sea-green skirt (as a strapless dress) and ate a chilled piece of kiwi. I also made some hot chocolate which was good.

Mostly, I've been wondering whether I should buy this book: http://www.amazon.in/Harley-Loco-Rayya-Elias/dp/1408837692/ref=sr_1_sc_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1458859071&sr=8-1-spell&keywords=harvey+loco

Also, I've been combing thrrough Elizabeth Gilbert's Facebook Page where I discovered this jewel. I read it often. I intend to read it often. I hope it helps you too:

Dear Ones -

I'm worried about something. I'm worried about how much we hate ourselves.

When I say "we", I mean modern people in the developed Western world, primarily. And among that population, it is the women who hate themselves most of all — who harm themselves, sabotage themselves, bully themselves, undermine themselves, and speak to themselves in voices of unthinkable cruelty.

Increasingly, I believe that the vast majority of our suffering is a result of this epidemic. And I am CERTAIN that everything you want for your life — everything you want to feel and believe and become — is on the other side of that dark river of self-hatred and self-abuse.

We have to stop this.

I won't be talking today about the causes of our self-hatred. I don't want to drift into the easy blame of "the media's images of women", or "the patriarchy", or "the internet" or "the emotional disconnect of the post-industrial world" or even "our fucked up families." Because you know what? I DON'T KNOW. I'm not smart enough to know what this is all about, or where the self-hatred comes from. I just know that it's prevalent, it's contagious, it's really dangerous, and that we are destroying ourselves with it.

Sharon Salzberg, the great American meditation master, tells a story about meeting the Dalai Lama in 1990. She asked him what he thought about self-hatred, and he replied, "Self-hatred? What is that?"

Seriously. He didn't know what she was talking about. He kept probing: How could people be taught to hate THEMSELVES?

The room was filled with Western meditators, scientists, pyschologists, and researchers, and over the next hours they tried to explain it to the Dalai Lama — tried to answer his puzzled question of how a person could be taught to hate themself. But he remained puzzled. He said, at the end of it all, "I thought I had a good acquaintance with the mind, but now I feel quite ignorant. I find this very, very strange."

And heartbreaking.

Unlike the Dalai Lama, I know self-hatred inside and out, you guys. I know self-blame, shame, self-recrimination, and I have certainly experienced rage against my own machine. I know what it feels like to look at every molecule of your being (physical, emotional, intellectual, spiritual) and declare: NOT GOOD ENOUGH, KID. And I know that this way lies madness. Madness and pain, and the death of all good things.

I also know this — that the answer is not to become A BETTER PERSON. The answer is not to IMPROVE. The answer is not TO GET YOUR SHIT TOGETHER. And this is coming from somebody who loves improving, who loves striving, and who is always trying to get her shit together. Look, trying to improve yourself is FINE, if that's what you're into. Exercise more, eat better, become more productive, de-clutter your house — whatever. Getting your shit together is very nice. Do all that stuff, if you want to. (I certainly do all that stuff, and I don't judge it.) But understand this — PEACE WILL NOT BE FOUND THERE. Your house can be so tidy that you could invite Marie Kondo over for dinner with pride, and maybe someday you can achieve rock-hard abs, and maybe someday you could get out debt, and land your dream job, finally stop drinking....and you might STILL hate yourself.

Because the darkness of self-hatred is immune to any worldly accomplishment or success. Achievement does not touch the part of yourself who abuses yourself. The world is filled with highly successful and accomplished people who treat themselves horribly, who talk to themselves savagely, and who abuse themselves terribly. If you could see inside their heads and witness the dreadful conversations going on in there, you would be shocked. You would be shocked, and maybe you would cry. And maybe you would want to take that highly successful and deeply troubled person in your arms and say, "There, there, little small one...there, there...hush, hush..."

Peace will only be found when you can love all the parts of yourself that you have always hated.

I used to think that self-love would only come to me when I had "cleaned up my act" — only when I had gotten rid of all my bad behaviors, only when I had mastered my mind, only when I had driven out all the negative thoughts, only when I had forgiven everyone for everything, only when I had made amends for every mess I had ever caused, only when I could see divinity in everybody, only when I never lost my temper, only when I no longer experienced "bad" emotions like anger, jealousy, resentment, self-pity. In other words, I could not love myself until I had become WORTHY.

Which means...what? Which means: I believed that I could not love myself until I was some kind of polished golden orb of perfection, with an immaculately-controlled mind, a healthy body, and a totally clean record. Someone who would never make another misstep, never speak another unkind word, never be a fuck-up again in any way whatsoever...ever. Then I could love myself.

But who is that? Who is that person I have just described?

That person is nobody. That person is no human being who has ever lived.

And once you realize that, then you realize that we are all this same boat together. That everything you hate about yourself is nothing less than your HUMANITY. Your shared humanity. That you and I, and your neighbor Bob, and your awful sister-in-law, and all those shiny people on Instagram...that we all share the same human dilemma — that we all don't totally know how to BE, and what to do with ourselves. We all have these strange minds full of incomprehensible thoughts. We all have these untrustworthy hearts that often want forbidden things. We all have these funny ape-like bodies with weird urges. We all have these enormous souls filled with a desperate longing for belonging.

You are no different from me, and I am no different from your neighbor Bob, and your neighbor Bob is no different from your awful sister-in-law, and your awful sister-in-law is no different from all those shiny people on Instagram. There is a massive sense of tenderness that comes over me when I remember that we are all the same in our shared dilemma of how to be a person. We are all in this together. We are a bizarre but beautiful species. And if you believe that human beings need love, and deserve love...then you must someday grow into the belief that YOU also need love and deserve love, and that you must stop being so stingy about giving it to yourself.

You must not think that love is something you give to yourself as a reward, only if you have earned it — like some kind of gold star sticker that you get to put on your homework today if you are good...but maybe not tomorrow, if you fuck up.

No.

You have to give yourself love all the time.

Giving yourself love doesn't mean that every day is spa day. (Although, hey. If you can swing it...) Giving yourself love doesn't mean buying yourself fancy presents, or constantly treating yourself, or spoiling yourself. (You are not SEDUCING yourself, remember. You are not trying to get yourself in bed. You are just being kind and loving to yourself.) Giving yourself love doesn't mean becoming Kanye-like in your insistence that you are the greatest.

You are not the greatest. But you are also not the WORST. And I bet there have been days of your life (maybe years of your life) where all you do is walk around telling yourself that you are the WORST. And I bet that nothing good has ever come out of that way of thinking.
You are not the greatest, and you are not the worst. You are just one of us.

I have tried a radical experiment recently. I call it: THE EXTREME LOVE EXPERIMENT.

Whenever I have a dark thought — a "forbidden" thought, like anger, jealousy, resentment, lust, shame, contempt — I immediately say to myself, "I love the part of you, Liz, who is full of anger right now."
or: "I love the part of you who is ashamed of yourself right now."
or: "I love the part of you who can't stop judging yourself right now."
or: "I love the part of you who feels weak and helpless right now."
or: 'I love the part of you who just had an explicitly violent fantasy about watching that person who is talking loudly on her cellphone suddenly have her head blow up."
or: "I love the part of you who is still having an argument in your head with a man you haven't talked to in 15 years."
or: "I love the part of you who broke your New Year's resolution on January 4th."
or: "I love the part of you who believes that she is such a spiritual hypocrite, it's ridiculous."
or: "I love the vain/insecure part of you who stands in front of the mirror lifting up the dangly flesh on your neck and wondering if there's some kind of plastic surgery for that."
or: "I love the part of you who is jealous of that other novelist for winning that big award."

I used to try to banish all those parts of myself. Because they were BAD. They were WRONG. They were UNEVOLVED. They were NEGATIVE.

But banishing the parts of myself that I hated has never worked. The more I try to banish them, the stronger they grow. The more I hated these parts of myself, the more they multiplied. It's like my self-hatred was fertilizer — creating a dark, warm, nourishing environment for all those "bad" thoughts and impulses to grow...and as they grew, they destroyed me.

Now I just say to the dark thought, "I love this part of you"...and the dark thought loses its power.

I understand now that I am not a SELF. I am SELVES. I am thousands of different selves — and all of them are worthy of love.

To say, "I love you," is the only force strong enough to diffuse darkness.

And here's the crazy thing — this habit is starting to spread out of me, and I can now do it toward others.

For instance, I now have the capacity to think: "I love the part of my husband who is constantly interrupting me. This is just his weird humanity at play."
Followed by: "And I love the part of me who gets so freaking irritated about how my husband is constantly interrupting me."
Followed by: "I love the part of me who doesn't really BELIEVE that I love the part of my husband who is constantly interrupting me."
Followed by: "I love the part of me who is saying that this EXTREME LOVE EXPERIMENT is total bullshit, and it will never work."
Followed by: "I love the part of me who wonders if I will ever truly love myself."
And it goes on like that. But I go on, too. I just keep throwing love at everything that comes up...until finally it all gently quiets down.

And it does all finally gently quiet down.

I love all these dark parts of myself not because they are wonderful and adorable and perfect and fantastic, but because they are THERE. My dark bits are with me and they will likely always be with me. Just as your dark parts are with you and will likely always be with you. All that is there needs to be loved.

That's OK.

As they say: "It's not a bug; it's a FEATURE."

Our humanity is not an ERROR. Our crazy thoughts are not MISTAKES. Our scary longings and giant failures and ongoing disasters are not ABERRATIONS.

This is merely what it is to be a person — messy, weird, inconsistent, doubtful. This is how we ARE, and that has to be OK, or else nobody is OK.

We are not some early Dell Computer Operating System, here to be de-bugged. We are not some new product for sale, here to be perfected. The goal is not to become an immaculate golden orb. The goal is to return to a place of kindness, where you can be gentle with yourself and others, no matter what arises. This requires, I think, a friendly sort of loving humor about who you are and who we all are. Why does the Dalai Lama have such a twinkle about him? Because he gets it. He gets that it's kind of funny, how we are. Even when it's terrible. The whole thing is...very, very strange. And that's OK. It's strange, but it's sacred.

And I believe there no is gentler or safer place to stand on this earth than in a place where you can say to yourself, "I love every bit of you, you beautiful freak."

The Buddha said it better, of course. The Buddha said, "You can search the whole world over and never find anyone as deserving of love as yourself."

In other words: Be good to you, OK?
Please put down the knife you have been holding to your own throat. You don't deserve that kind of abuse, and it won't help.
Just try it. Try saying to your scariest bits: "I love this part of you."
And then say it again to the next part...and the next part...and the next part...and the next part...and ONWARD.

Good luck in there.
LG

And what do you know? It's 4:30 a.m., no electricity yet. But it's dawn.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

429

I think it's time to slowly put to rest a lot of expectations now. I think it's time to try and figure out a way to move ahead knowing that the apologies and expectations may not come one way. It's time for peace now. Hopefully it will find its way.

I am feeling really low now, very nauseous, and very, very sick.



 

Sunday, March 20, 2016

433, 432, 431

Sex is a lonely planet.

It seems that in world we live in, it seems to be much talked about, talked at, than maybe just simply and quietly understood.

And perhaps a dimension that ought to be quietly and silently understood gets lost in that vortex of very strong, sure voices.

There is one kind of shame and accountability expected from people who, say, are sexually active. Happily so. Depending on who's observing, you may get labelled a certain way.

There's another kind of shame and accountability expected from people who are not sexually active. Not because they were so unappealing as to not have choices. Not because there was some memory of deep, scarring abuse. Or maybe there was. But maybe because...and there's no reason after that.

This piece, here, is then an ambiguous articulation of why perhaps this might be the case.

Maybe because the last time such people may have had sex with the one they loved. When there may have been, yes, the biological hunger, but also a wise invincibility of being together with someone who could never wrong you. When, even though, you didn't ask for it, you were given the gift of their vulnerability, their laughter, their sweetness, their...love. Their hearts filled with it, their fingertips smudged with it, their hair zinging with it.

And sure, one could meet others who will offer different things. And over and over, one may be told that this is the best you can get for now. It's good. It's emancipation. And one may be confused and one may believe and one may even go forward. But then, one will stop. Because one may not see it - the little kindness where the other person may notice that you're cold and cover you up even as you're being intimate. When a little song may be hummed or a verse may be recited...simply to make you smile in the dark. When your tears will be wiped away.

And when one doesn't see that, one steps aside. Making love only to the one you love - may seem like a word in a lost language. And many other words may come close. But if you've spoken that word before, you know that those don't come close.

Then one waits and makes peace with the memory and remains very, very grateful for that.

And even if it doesn't come your way again, it's fine. No shame in that.

 

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

435, 434

I came across this line and it resonated.

"Unless the heart feels secured, the head will never receive new ideas." - Devdutt Pattnaik, My Gita

Monday, March 14, 2016

437, 436

Some good things that have happened:

1. I think I overcame some kind of a jinx by going for a late-night movie by myself to Phoenix. Watched 'The Revenant' which I loved. I am besotted with the lighting in that movie. The glow of flint, the blue-silver of the river, and snow that's white with a tint of pink...how is it so stunning?! I loved it! Anyway, I returned around 2 p.m. Since it was a Saturday night, there were some cops on the road. They indicated me to pull over. Since I don't have a license and as I was not carrying any money to pay up the fine, I was a little nervous. But they saw me in the car by myself and told me to go on.

2. There's this Reader's Meetup I go to where I met someone who shares my interest in horror fiction. He gave me a book called 'Things that go bump in the night'. Really looking forward to reading it.

3. I finally went grocery shopping and got rice! Rice is just so beautiful! So I got rice and I also got this one small roll of cheese that's flavoured with roasted cumin. It is just so, so tasty! I cut up a slice and had it with thetcha. Sublime! Really!

Friday, March 11, 2016

438: First Impressions: Mrs. Funnybones by Twinkle Khanna

I began the year reading this and I liked it. It was a sweet, light read. I was looking for something to read between Bombay and Pune - something that I could finish in the two-and-half-hour car ride. This book sufficed perfectly.

Here's a little background about the author: She was an actress and is the daughter of considerably renowned thespians in Bollywood, Rajesh Khanna and Dimple Kapadia. She's married to Akshay Kumar, an actor. She was an actress with a rather unremarkable body of work. She gave up acting to take up candle-making and interior-designing and many years later, found her mojo as a columnist. This book is derived from the theme of her columns, i.e. - a famous person's observations as she goes about her mundane life. It's not 'ha-ha' funny but it is witty in places - especially when she talks about her house-help, her mum, and her kids, especially her elder son. I particularly liked a couple of entries.

In one entry, she writes about teen suicide. She's read an article on the subject while sipping her coffee in the balcony. Somewhere she spots her son flying a kite on the beach. She's feeling a little overwhelmed with the world her young son will inhabit in a few years. She just wishes and her son, through kite-flying, remembers the lessons - that if you hold on and not let go, the winds change.

In another chapter, she talks about one trip to Goa she'd taken with a bunch of pals. She'd learned to ride a scooter there, fallen into a ditch, and later pretended not to care in friend of her guy friends. There was youth and insouciance and the thrill of a forever kind of happiness. She captures that mood so well...a single evening of a single trip becomes so memorable that it skirts around all the other important areas of your later life. Twinkle bought a house near the café she'd lounged with her friends. She'd bough her family there numerous times. But she's aware that that time, though shared so often with so many, is now gone.

The other piece I liked very much is the final, concluding chapter. Her son's cooking while she's carping about something or the other. Her son stops her and asks her what she really, really thinks about an issue In response, she broaches the topic of being unsure of whether there's a God or not. Her son is surprised. Later, she's in the midst of a large dinner with her Punjabi family. The house is choc-a-bloc with relatives and friends. She's keenly aware that with her belief system (that she'd shared with her son earlier), she's an outsider in that milieu. But then, the music starts and her sister-in-law drags her to dance. And she dances. Again, keenly aware that despite the beliefs, there are worlds where you can belong.

All in all, a nice book. It's a simple record of a smart woman just trying to figure it all out.

___________________________

Note: I'm open to giving away this book. You ought to be in Pune and should be open to collecting it in the Baner, Aundh area.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

439: First Impressions: Em and the Big Hoom by Jerry Pinto

Jerry Pinto's mother, Imelda or Em as the kids call her, is depressive, suicidal and schizophrenic. The big Hoom is Jerry Pinto's father and Susan is Pinto's sister. This is the story of a family that lives in a one-bedroom apartment in Mahim (a suburb in Bombay) and tackles incidents like attempted suicide, a son who is so frustrated that he calls his mother a filthy bitch one day. The mother who's 'mental' remembers that but pretends that she was out of her senses when she heard it. It's the story that ends with a family having a cup of tea in the memory of their feisty, wonderful mother who they'd just buried. It's the story of Em's illness, how the family copes, and it's core, the togetherness between a woman who fell ill and her husband who took care of her (and everything) until the very end.

It's a very moving story and a necessary one to read. There's so much strong and hopeful magic in seeing what all people can endure.

And despite all that, love.

Wednesday, March 09, 2016

440: First Impressions: Dying to be me by Anita Moorjani

This is a real life account of Anita Moorjani's Near Death Experience. She had been suffering from cancer for a long while and one day, had lapsed into coma. The doctors felt that they were losing her. Her mother and husband were crying and pleading with the doctor to try something...anything. But the doctors had given up hope. And the heart monitor indicated death. And Anita Moorjani revived.

The book is mainly about this incident and her observations on what she'd seen on the other side. You'd think it would make for fascinating reading but somehow I felt a little underwhelmed. In hindsight, I think it's understandable why.

Moorjani isn't a writer. She had had an experience that was profound and well, annihilating to logic and reason and vocabulary. How do you describe an immersion into a feeling of such peace and healing that you know it's love but it isn't love the way you know it? What word describes certainty of goodness? Sure, you call it peace because that's the closest you can come to that emotion. And how do you use words and language to describe something to a populace who haven't, or will not, ever go through what you've been through? Some may want to. Like I did. But I'm a writer who is reasonably proficient with words. And I get overwhelmed if I have to describe a stunning rainbow. Moorjani has to describe to someone like me an entitiy called God. Who she'd been with, by the way.

Yes, the immenseness of the endeavour does not escape me. Although the text may feel a tad plodding, the things she writes about are quite immense. She'd grown up in Hong Kong and describes her childhood vividly. We get a sense of her fun and wholesome time with her maid and the smells and colours of the markets in Hong Kong. We also understand the kind of a child she was whose main feeling was fear. She went to a Catholic school where she was scared that she'd be left alone on Judgment Day because she wasn't Catholic and didn't worship Jesus. She was so paranoid that her parents shifted her to another school.

She was from a conservative Sindhi family and battled her way through social mores to get a job, say no to a suitor who wasn't right for her, drank wine, and had fun. She also kept feeling guilty about a whole lot of things for a long time. Soon enough, her best friend died of cancer and so did her father. She was so afraid of getting it that she monitored her diet and exercise regimen. And then she got cancer herself.

This is where the book got really interesting for me. It outlined the philosophy that it doesn't matter what you're doing, if you're doing it out of fear, the very thing that's making you afraid will come to pass.

Moorjani's healing, her understanding of her place in the cosmos and the light, her subsequent work of writing her book - all point to some kind of a plan that was charted out for a specific life on earth. She was one of those who got to find that out.

I read it the way I'd pore through an entry in a Lonely Planet magazine. It looks like an interesting place - the one she visited. Who knows when I'll visit? But if I do, I'll know of a few interesting hangouts.

********
I am done with reading my copy and would like to give it away. If you're in Pune, I could give it to you. You'll have to meet me in the Aundh or Baner area. You can email me at mukta.raut@gmail.com.

Tuesday, March 08, 2016

441

Those denouements of Chekhov,
Those dirges of Flloyd,
Where do you contain all those echoes,
Of the vastness and the void.
 
 
(How would you visualize this verse?)

Monday, March 07, 2016

444, 443, 442

It's enough I think...my procrastination and all that. It's time I just sit the hell down and work on what I want to work on. Last night, I panicked. I felt like I would die without doing anything.

Anyway, so that's why I just sent a mail telling some dear friends that I won't be in touch with them until the end of the year.

It just seemed the right thing to do.

Thursday, March 03, 2016

One day was like this

Had headed to Parel in the afternoon...dappled sunshine and a lovely tree and an old building with many flats. 'Teeming', I believe the word is.
The sun is doing an 'ice-cube in hot water' routine. And that bus you see is a double-decker one. I loved those.

Ooh! This is when we got to Aer - the club on the 34th flor. This is my city with its spine of light.

Aer has two parts. One side has the view of Marine Drive, which is a prettier place to sit. But it was crowded. So we sat on the other side but I went by to take a few pictures.
Large and glitzy through the window.
That bright shiny thing on the side is the moon.

All that sky we're busy scraping
There's just one kind of a light where the machines will look beautiful!


Amidst all that sky and those pretty little light, a structure choked with teensy cubes where lives are being lived out and worked through.

Black and yellow cabs and the Mumbai myth


Black and yellow cabs and the streets they take you through

Wednesday, March 02, 2016

445

March feels like a fresh start. It feels like a different kind of start though - I understand that there is a fair bit of residue from the past but it's manageable.

So much is uncertain now that it's really good to just stay focused and pay attention to one thing at a time.

In other news, it's just splendid to pay attention to my plants in the balcony. There's a plant that earlier have pretty white flowers but today it just grows sturdy and green. In fact, it's become so tell that I actually have to tiptoe and sprinkle water on top of it. Another little mogra plant has displayed shy, reluctant blooms. And when I would bend down to break away a tiny, brown-tipped leaf, I'd get the faint scent of a bloom.

Today the strong, slow sadness crept up again. But I think I am getting better at handling it. So I just chatted with a very old friend, breathed in and out, and then let it be.

It has helped but there is pain. 

Tuesday, March 01, 2016

446: Whoa Delhi! Go Delhi!

There's a quote that goes, "What can't be said, will be wept."
Though some unshed tears may play a different part
They'll find the splotches and strokes and paint
And who knows? A city will get it's art.
 
- A tiny ode to the one thing that Delhi's done right recently!
 
http://www.thebetterindia.com/47808/street-art-india-foundation-lodhi-colony/