Wednesday, November 30, 2016

225

Things I learned since morning:

1. That .KEY files cannot open in PowerPoint presentation. (They are created in Mac. I've never worked on a Mac so I didn't know that.) Got them converted through www.zamzar.com. Also, I think there is an app that you can download and use on your Windows to convert but doing it through Zamzar was easier. Super stuff.

2. Today I went running without my headphone so I ran without music. It's been a long time since I did that so it felt a little surreal. I found myself running a little faster.

3. I think the coming weekend, I will take myself out to coffee and set some work goals. There is a lot of work coming in and now I want to just be sure that it is all headed some place - some place where I want to go. I have a good feeling about the coming days and about the future.

4. I think I'm just going to dress nice from now on even if I am not going out. I don't want to keep opening my cupboard and look at pretty clothes look sad.

5. Mum subscribes to Reader's Digest. They sent a really slick, thin black notebook with the words 'Write it right!' It's think enough to pop into the purse and take it around with me. I may inaugurate it at my coffee outing.

6. Read an article on Imposter Syndrome. Check if you have it? (http://www.forbes.com/sites/amymorin/2016/11/27/9-things-people-with-impostor-syndrome-do/#78baa9fb2928)


Tuesday, November 29, 2016

226

I'm getting really short with people now. Just so irritated. Today, I didn't go out anywhere. Just worked and fought a fever brought on by not sleeping too well. Then I snapped at the cook for making the dalia too salty. I ate two tacos and had a glass of apple juice. Finished a LOT of work. Took one tiny step at filled in one row of an invoice. Really must get down to doing it.

I think I will faff for some time. Then I will make coffee. Then I will get to work.

Monday, November 28, 2016

227

1. Watched Dear Zindagi. Really liked it. Alia's clothes are also really pretty! Particularly liked a white satiny top she's wearing in one of the songs where she's being serenaded by Ali Zafar.

2. Had home-made iced tea today. Don't know why it felt so luxurious but it did.

3. Really have to buckle down to getting my invoices done.



Sunday, November 27, 2016

228

Years ago, on this day - that is the 26th of November, I was driving back from Powai really late. I had the radio on. Was a little sad because my flatmates were moving back to Delhi. My living situation was changing again. I was in flux at work. 

Some songs on the radio were good. As I drove past Powai lake with the ghostly silhouette of the Renaissance hotel on the other side, the songs on the radio stopped. Some DJ with a sober voice that was choking back panic, talked about a shooting at Colaba. I rolled my eyes at the heavy drama DJs resort to. "Enough of the build up!", I thought. "Start the music." I thought. But over the next ten minutes or so, I got the sense that the shooting the DJ was referring to (and the one I had assumed) was not a film shoot. Some people had started shooting in the Taj and killed people. Wait. They had been to Leopold earlier. Oh wait. Had they also shot people at CST? 

It was scary and it was late and I was still far from home. Suddenly the routine, risk police personnel you generally see on the roads late at night seemed more ominous. I drove in, dashed inside my house, and just stood there. A little frozen. My parents came out from the bedroom. Mom was crying. Dad said very seriously that this time "they'd gone too far."

At that time, I did not know of Kasab or who those guys were and why they'd come. I didn't know anything except that I loved my city so so so much and it was dying and breaking and bleeding. I didn't know that I had lost a friend to the shootings at Leopold. I didn't know that I would leave Bombay soon after. 

Many years have passed. Thinking about the time in between - the collective gulping of remorse, regret, helplessness, anger, unease, hope that the city engaged in - is futile. I remember vaguely what happened to my life after that. I remember vaguely of what I saw, the speeches politicians made, the jokes on Facebook on 'the spirit of Bombay', etc. I remember vaguely but I am a little more determined to hang on to amnesia.

Anyway, today, I went for a run in the park behind my house. There's a dark stretch in the park that I run through. I love it because it is sparsely populated. I sometimes look up at the moon when I run. I like the city lights in the lake beside the running track. Today, the moon was a plump crescent. As I jogged through the patch, I saw a man in teh shadows. He was skipping. He skipped fluidly and rhythmically. He moved liked a song. He used one of those plastic ropes that are smooth and slick with some kind of a latex-like coating. The moonlight glistened on his rope and he looked like he was steadily jumping over little dribbles of a lunar stream. The DJ on the radio that I was listening to at the time was talking about a movie. Incidentally, the movie's called, "Dear Zindagi."

What can you make of it? 

I don't know. I don't know how I can want to be away from a city and yet know in my bones that there is no other place I'd rather die. I don't know why that man skipping on a shiny piece of rope and a title called 'Dear Zindagi' made me stop in my tracks and throw pebbles in a pond. I don't know why I went off home, hugged my mom and took her out for coffee to Bandra, my favorite nook in the world.  I don't know why I'm relieved for this night when I take, yet again for granted, the option to run alone in the dark unarmed. And the guy skips away without being chased or hurt. I don't know why I am grateful for our capacity to remember and our willingness to forget.

I don't know.  And when I don't know stuff, I usually turn to poetry. (Or something poetic at the very least.) This is what I found. 

WARRIOR

Watch me.
I will go to my own Sun.
And if I am burned by its fire,
I will fly on scorched wings.

-          -  Segovia Amil

Saturday, November 26, 2016

229

4:25 a.m.

Things that happened yesterday, real quick:

1 Went for a shaadi. Was dressed in all white. My mom's 40 year old sari in white chiffon with very pretty paisley print in glitter. Wore her white brocade blouse from years ago and a pairr of long silver danglers I bought from the street a few days ago. It was fun dressing up and heading out.

2. Really like chocos nowadays.

3. Ate a bowl of Maggi with kadhi-pakoda. It was spicy and really hot so I liked it. But overall, I wouldn't recommend it.

4. Watching Friends all over again. It is so comforting. Especially Monica and Chandler. It is interesting that who I had started loving from the group (Rachel and Phoebe), those characters didn't stay with me. Bu Monica and Chandler - somehow those two have a sweeter, kinder disposition that comes from having seen hard times. I'll write about my favorite episodes some other day.

5. Am listening to this song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qsocZrEcp0Y&list=RDqsocZrEcp0Y.

Really liking it.


Friday, November 25, 2016

230

I think what is required to succeed is to have very strong emotional discipline. One must very fastidiously avoid thinking about the outcome. I think that is fundamental. If I have to break down what emotional discipline means (to me, at least), it means displaying the following behavioral traits:

1. Not thinking about the outcome of a project with any degree of attachment. I mean one has to think about the outcome to plan for time and budget. But no attachment.

2. I think allow for some dedicated time in a day to feel disappointed or weary and get it out of the way. Otherwise, I notice that it is hard to concentrate on the other tasks.

3. To have some kind of a routine that one must follow stubbornly. No matter what. For me, it is writing this blog. Now I have decided that no matter how much other writing work I get done or not or what else I work on, I will write a little bit here every day. It does not make me happy. But it makes me feel a little strong and purposeful. I feel like I could tend to my turf in the face of some quiet and incessant storm wreaked by time and heart. Both savage and beautiful.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

231

Went to JuHu beach last night. The tawa pulav tasted like freedom. The shoreline was so pretty. There's a segment on the beach that's decked with a line of sky-blue bulbs.

Today have been losing my temper with everyone at home.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

232

My father told me this story yesterday.

In the book 'Discovery of India', Nehru writes about the Bengal famines. Nehru tells the story of a man who sat opposite a sweet shop. He kept looking longingly at the sweets behind the glass pane and whilst watching that, he died of starvation. Nehru wrote that the tragedy was not so much that the man died but that he did not pick up a stone to shatter the case.

I cannot get that story out of my gut.


Monday, November 21, 2016

233

1. It is good to work towards losing attachment to one's own struggles. I think if one is not careful, your struggles become part of how are defined and identified. It's good to explore the possibility of what it might be like to not have that toughie.

2. This working late night sure comes with its own yawning need for sugar. Last night I had chocos drenched in Coke.

3. I was working on something and I mistakenly typed 'character cunt' instead of 'character count'. The spell-check didn't catch it. Must be very very careful whilst working late.

4. I read this on Pinterest and I loved it so much. It's from something called 'Being Cabalbro: Never let the white knight die.' (I am not sure whether it's a book or a movie.) Anyway, here's the piece:

Nobody is born a warrior.
You choose to be one when you refuse to stay seated.
You choose to be one when you refuse to back down.
You choose to be one when you stand up after getting knocked down.
You choose to be one because if not you, who?

5. Having chai now and finishing off one more document that might involve a dangerous error. :-)

234



Feeling really overwhelmed today.

Must be my period.

I have come to appreciate menstruation a lot more now. I think if you have lived alone for a long time - as long as I have - you tend to take on more masculine energy, I suppose. You get tough and focused and very goal-oriented and stuff like that. You push yourself, soldier through pain, be very driven and task-based, etc. But then you get your period and automatically, you want to slow down. I may not actually slow down. But I definitely want to. Periods at least soften me. I feel like nurturing some thing - treating everything gently. Breathing deeper. Using a more gentle gaze. It feels good to sip something hot when your stomach hurts or your back aches but actually what you want to cry about is that knot of all the little follies and heartbreaks and shards of anger you have accumulated over the days. You miss, you wish, you long, you snap - it is actually quite nice to just let the mood have its way. And then, because you brave through so much emotional intensity at a time, you crave something sweet - a warm muffin, a little sugar, a pour of honey.

Periods are definitely rewarding. I'd recommend it to everyone. :-)

Sunday, November 20, 2016

235

I'm taking a short break for work now. Poured myself a glass of Nimbooz. Nice, cold, tangy. I am not a huge fan of lemony drinks but sometimes, the kind of nausea that hits you when you are working late nights needs the tang. (I like that phrase: needs the tang.)

What should I write about today? I think I will write about the clothes that I got mended from the tailor's. They were really old clothes. Some had rips and some others were a little snug or a little loose. Anyway, they are all as good as new now. So, here's the list of stuff that the tailor fixed:

1. A really pretty saree blouse - a multi-colored one with applique work.
2. A pair f pants that were too long.
3. A white shirt with a little lace around the cuffs. The cuffs had ripped a bit.
4. A really pretty summery dress. I got it from Colaba causeway but it looks like something you would have picked up from Goa. Orange, white, and a blue tie-and-dye number.
5. A deep green kurta in raw silk with embroidery done in sandalwood-colored silk thread. This, perhaps, is my favorite.

In other news, I posted something on LinkedIn. Someone wrote to me asking me if I was depressed. :-) I am not but it is so nice to see that a stranger might write in to check on whether I was doing okay.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

236

I'm not feeling so good right now but I really liked my walk this morning. Went slow, listened to music, and saw a beautiful orange moon. Came back home and just started feeling weird about a lot of things.

Hoping that things will improve soon.

Maybe I'll just have a warm bath now and relax before getting back to work.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

237

Quick note today because I have loads to finish and I'm not getting enough sleep.

Anyway, the more I work from home in crumpled, flimsy tees and tracks, the more my mother feels I need fancy clothes. She bought me a really pretty black skater dress, knee-length with netted sleeves and a dainty belt. It's really pretty, falls quite nicely too, skims the hips (although I am glad I've taken up running) and has a dainty belt. There's a slightly embellished cowl neck with some bead work so even though, it's just a plain black number, it looks dressy.

Of course, I have nowhere to wear it to. But it hangs in my cupboard amongst my other tees that have tiny, customized holes around the armpits.

Mum also bought me another lycra crop top which she said I could wear as a saree blouse. (Also, my sweet mum sometimes forgets her daughter's lifestyle. Even on days when I went out to two clubs a night or three restaurants and five cafes over weekends, I never wore sarees. To wear one now that I make extensive trips from the bed to my computer - is rather hard to imagine.) But I have to say...it's a really good looking top. It's well, short, with incut sleeves and it has a sprinkling of some starry sequins around the neck and seams. I was thinking of wearing it with a dull gold skirt I have to a party I am only imagining in my head. Or a really sheer, plain black saree with silver heels. (I don't have those shoes and I don't have that saree. What I have, instead, is a place in my cupboard where this top lays folded above a cheap, grey skirt.

Anyway good clothes and an exercise habit that should hopefully make me look good in them.

Waiting for PAH-TAY!

Will make black coffee now and get to work.


238

Running happened.

As did some work, some pitching, some follow-ups.

I was just so tired to be at home the last few days. So went to the Starbucks near my house for some coffee and book time. Read a few pages of Cal Newport's 'Deep Work' which is so lush that I want to eat it up. Anyway, I think I will need to read a few pages every day because I feel I need to really focus on work now. More than work, I really need to figure out a way to get on top of time schedules. If anyone has any recommendations, please share.

Now that I write every day, there is an area that keeps resurfacing - one that I think I need to understand and change. I think I dwell too much. If something is not going my way or if something is not happening as quickly as I want it to happen, I cannot bring my attention to the task at hand. I never really figured it to be as much a problem before. But I see it as one now. I think I need to really work on detaching from outcomes and simply going on about the work at hand. Otherwise, I think a lot of energy gets knotted in the head and that in turn eats up into the time.

It's almost morning now. I have a very strong cup of coffee and will begin my work in a little bit.


Wednesday, November 16, 2016

239

Feel a little bit of fever coming on. So, quickly then:

1. Saw a man fishing in the quiet lake today.
2. The moon shone on all the water droplets on the fish net and it looked very enchanting.
3. Break my headset.
4. Slept fitfully.
5. Feeling a little trapped as I am not able to get a handle on the amount of time I need to spend on projects.

But tomorrow is another day. Having black coffee now and finishing more work.

Monday, November 14, 2016

240: Moon, moon, moon

Today was a really busy day. Worked a lot and was really tired.

Slept off. Panicked over a pushed deadline. Felt overwhelmed.

Got an email reminding me about the deadline yet again.

Started working on the assignment again.

Got fed up and went for a run.

The moon was out and large. It shone strong and shyly. It reflected on the lake and the protruding rocks looked like handcrafted, clumpy jewelry made of decaying archipelagos. The world was still crude but so beautiful.

I came to my favorite part of the road where I love jogging. It's usually dark, blue tinted, and empty of people. It's also usually cooler than the other spots. I run past a guy who's humming. I recognize the song.

I look up at the moon now. Somewhere they are bursting crackers. For a few seconds, a flurry of emerald green sparklers burst in the air against the moon. You see this cloud of green, fiery glitter against the backdrop of the moon and on the varnish of the still lake. I'm besotted. I keep jogging.

In another bend of the track, I see a plane fly, almost scraping the end of the moon. I imagine that a bit of the moon would have crumbled and a few flecks would fall on earth.

And then I finish my rounds and head back home. There will be dinner and there will be work. I remember a phrase by Catherine Collautt: A dream is half a prophecy.

Good night, my beautiful moon. You were closest today but you'll be favorite familiar tomorrow.


241

Will make this quick before I get sucked into all these tabs open on my laptop - especially the tasty Pinterest one that beckons oh-so-rivetingly.

1. Made a trip to Pune today. Had to pay my maids. Paid up in tens and twenties and in a matter of seconds, my entire wad of notes got used up. So I will likely have to make a trip to the bank soon.

2. The kitchen verandah has a pot of really pretty bush of mandarin oranges. In the time that I was away, they have really flourished. Bright fresh globes of orange and yellow in tufts of bright green leaves. I had a good time clicking them and applying all kinds of filters (my favorite one was something called 'blue wash'.) I made a mistake saving the pictures so I don't know where they went. Thankfully, the bush with the fruits is still there.

3. A friend came over and we talked about the magenta strip of fun that we'll be calling money now. My mum, she and I had pakora and aata halwa (which I find tastier than the sooji variety). I looked around and I have to say, that house is cosy. Every nook of it is cosy. It has always made space for some comfort in a brash world for everyone who's come in there. I've had rabid arguments in there with friends and family, meltdowns, and dizzying ecstatic periods - the kind where you twirl into dementia. But always, on the tiles, in the walls, in the corners, there as been peace. I don't know too much about vastu - but this home is filled with a well-being. It seems to be independent of whoever chooses to live there.

4. The drive back was soothing. There was some really good music on the radio - old songs. They are pretty good to drive through tunnels with. Soothing, comforting, yet a little sad. Reminders that the light at the end of the tunnel may just be a dying flame.

Good day today.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

242

I had planned a long post for tonight but I have been watching videos for a long while now. It's therefore just going to be bullet points for now.

1. There is a kind of roti we make where we knead the dough in hot water. I am having strips of that soaked in orange juice. I was feeling really hungry and my head is hurting. So, this is my midnight snack.

2. The book I had ordered has arrived. The Unknown Craftsman - A Japanese Insight into Beauty by Soetsu Yanagi. With the demonetization and things like that,I had to pay up for the book (approximately Rs. 1830) in denominations of Rs. 20. While counting and losing track of the figure, I realized just how used I have become to counting larger notes. Small  change is just a lump of nameless, faceless currency. I need to pay more attention.

3. I go running to a place behind my house thrice a week. I go in the late evenings when the lights from the street shine on the surface of the lake. The running path has lamps but there is a stretch that is not well lit. It always has a bluish hue to it - just that little strip of the path. It's like sliding down the blue skin of Shiva or running down a blue-jammed tongue of some weird creature. It's really pretty. Today I jogged for a little while to a different soundtrack. There's a song I have come to be particularly fond of: Wakhra Swag (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iMdH_G4N9nY). It's a Punjabi song and not even a new one. It's just that I heard a lot of it when I'd been to Kasol a few months ago. Every time I listen to that song, I remember that final turn we took in the hills from which point we started seeing those huge fir and pine trees. Running to that song takes me there.

4. Today, in that path, I saw a group of boys peering into a nearby bush. One of them stopped me and asked me if I'd seen the python. He pointed into the bushes and there it was - a huge, brown, gold, and black snake slithering into the bushes. I don't know whether it was a python or not but it was massive. MASSIVE. I couldn't see the end of its length and it had a thick body. It looked like a moving, brown ocean. The moon shone on it and it was just devastatingly beautiful. I came back home and had supper. But it was the most luscious piece of enchantment I could hope for today.






Saturday, November 12, 2016

243

A blank page once again so I'll just jot down a list of things that happened today.

A friend from Pune called to tell me about some good news in her life.

I grunted and finished some work. Was quite pleased with some of it, not all. Need to figure out a way to improve.

Watched a really moving interview of Kajol and Ajay Devgan. They were promoting Shivaay and the interviewer asked her how she felt about not being invited to the 21st anniversary of 'Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jaayenge'. She said something about that. Then the interviewer asked her whether she had lost out on friends - Aditya Chopra and Karan Johar. She got a little misty-eyed. Then Ajay Devgan intervened and said that maybe personal questions should not be asked.

I don't know why but that little segment really moved me. I think at some point we all have had to answer questions (not always to interviewers on TV) about the loss of a love or whether there's anything illicit going on with someone else or how will we cope with the loss of money or hey, isn't it hard getting older? But there is an odd way in which you get stumped when you have to explain why you stop being friends with someone. Or when you have to answer whether you'll ever be friends again.

I could relate to Kajol at that moment - the way she looked slightly confused and sad. She looked away briefly before making eye contact again. And I really liked the way her husband stepped in and handed her a compass of sorts. (Or maybe he really had had enough of the Chopra and Johar brigade and just wanted to talk about his film.)

Maybe that is another kind of friendship - where someone tells you that you may have lost your Atlantis but he's taking you home.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

What comes my way

 A blank document in many ways is just a tissue that I sometimes use to wipe any of the anxiety that may spill off my head. Anyway, lots of coffee has been had, some futile discussion has been engaged in on Facebook and now it is time to do some work. Some work was done. Now maybe I need to get down to doing some other kind of research. Or I'll just faff. 

I am going to come back to the blog in a regular way now. I think I will be writing for different people and different things now. Somewhere along the line, my own voice may get to be part of some other kind of chorus. So, I need to face a blank screen for myself every day - even if it is to put an asterisk on the page, shut it down and go to sleep.



259, 258, 257, 256, 254, 253, 252, 251, 250, 249, 248, 247, 246, 245: Happy things, quiet things

1. Have practically moved from Pune. I still have the house and my books and clothes are still there. I am sure my small mandarin oranges are ripening in the sun. But I have moved to Bombay. There is still a feeling of transition but overall, there are a few routines in place. So, it's good.

The freelance world is going well. Collaborated with a couple of good people on some interesting projects. That is good. Now, scouting for more work. What I'm finding really interesting now is a chance to be part of product development. It's a really good change of pace. It does take a lot of time and there is a lot of waiting involved and you inch very very slowly ahead. But I think there's some learning there to be had as well.

The other day I'd gone to Haji Ali with a couple of friends and it was so beautiful. The sea and the skies were a lovely minty-blue - exactly the kind I used to gaze at in one of my earlier stints as a freelancer. That specific shade of blue and that specific kind of breeze are souvenirs of the time I had spent in my earlier freelancing stint.

I have been trying to read Cal Newport's 'Deep Work' for a long time now. It's happening in fits and starts. I have a feeling that it will be one of the most important books that I will read. So hoping to clear some mental and emotional space and get on with it.

There is the demonetization of Rs.500 and Rs. 1000 to get through. Some contracts to be signed and some invoices to be shipped. Some kind of facebook behaviour to process with the rise of a phenomenon like 'Trump'. More and more as things unfold in the world, I catch myself thinking about Rushdie and how he said in one of his speeches, "What you are offended by defines who you are. If you aren't offended by anyone, who are you?"

I'd gone over to a friend's house the other day. It was a really nice evening. He made a simple quiet meal of omelette and bread. I chatted with his mum and his really gifted daughter sketched out a verse from her painting. This evening happened a few days earlier to the demonetization move. The reason I write about it now is because I often find myself thinking about what would I remember as the years go by? What will take me through? I think it will be peaceful, uncomplicated evenings like this.

I think only simplicity will save. It's the only thing that can.