Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Crack a little, let the light in

I come from a multitude of families. Whatever kind of growth I have had has been inspired by their breaking away, their coming together in a new way, their healing, their anger and ultimately their (and my) acceptance.
It is a said, written and much mulled over theory that kids from 'broken homes' have difficulty forming relationships. I think forming relationships is difficult for anybody. You could have had the most wholesome family as a child and still be uncertain about closeness, bonding.
Keeping up with families in the plural is difficult. There is resentment, bitterness, a desperate guarding of one's own space and place in the familial structure. But what is possible is genuine affection, inclusion and greater care in navigating your way through different relationships, blood or otherwise.
I have shed tears and bitten my lip to keep from saying anything potentially destructive. And so have a lot of my families. I listen to stories from friends and colleagues, about strictness and discipline, about the subtle hierarchy that exists between parents and children, the older and the younger etc. And I am grateful for the complete equality I share with both my parents.
I think of how I would rather be home spending time with E, than anywhere else. Even if spending time means telling him to eat his vegetables and not gape at the TV. I think of how wonderful it is have everybody out of the house on my day off.
Distance and space, keeping up with one another, having enough softness to yield to the new, and being solid enough to assimilate it with what already was, taking responsibility for a relationship you have no idea what to do with...all of this came with the breaking of a whole and the forming of new ones.
Most of all, there are stories I would never have thought of telling, had there not been fractures and healing in my life.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Revival

There's nothing in the following editorial that hasn't been said/written about before. But it mirrors how I feel when the house is dark and I watch the red lights on my Christmas tree. It's not a feeling I've had very often in the past few months, so I'm posting this as a reminder to myself on blue days...



Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus
By Francis P. Church, first published in The New York Sun in 1897.

Dear Editor—
I am 8 years old. Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus. Papa says, “If you see it in
The Sun, it’s so.” Please tell me the truth, is there a Santa Claus?
Virginia O’Hanlon

Virginia, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men’s or children’s, are little. In this great universe of ours, man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.
Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus! It would be as dreary as if there were no Virginias. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The eternal light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.
Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies. You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if you did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that’s no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.
You tear apart the baby’s rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived could tear apart. Only faith, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, Virginia, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding.
No Santa Claus! Thank God! he lives and lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay 10 times 10,000 years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Tagged

Okie people, I got this from Neha's blog after she threatened to kill me long-distance if I didn't do the tag and put it up. So...put up your answers to the following in the comments section and put up the questions on your blog so I can return the favour!

1. Who are you?
2. Are we friends?
3.Something I have and you want?
4.Give me a nick name and explain why you picked it.
5.Describe me in one word.
6.What was your first impression of me?
7.Do you still think that way about me now?
8.What reminds you of me?
9.If you could ever give me one thing, what would it be?
10.How well do you know me?
11.How do you see me in the future?
12. Something you wanted to tell me but couldn't.
13.Are you going to put this on your blog to see what

Friday, December 05, 2008

Kathleen Kelly speaks...

It's coming on Christmas
They're cutting down trees...

This time of year throws me roughly into nostalgia. It isn't memory so much as longing. Longing based entirely on strings of red lights and festive cartoons. And Mum.
We've always loved Christmas, Mum and I. Church, carols, Midnight Mass....and presents.
As long as we lived together, Mum never let me give up on Santa. I don't think she's given up even now.
It's been difficult these past seven years, more so because through Europe, we've seen everything we love about this season in the flesh.
We've had years in Calcutta, years that only we know about. Christmases where I decorated the tree alone because she was working late. There weren't presents then, but we'd go out for lunch next day. My snobbish, luxury-loving mother would ensure she worked enough all year to take me to the Oberoi for Christmas lunch.
She's been alone for six of the last seven Christmases. I'd give a lot to change that. No matter where we are and who is around us, Mum and I spend Christmas alone if not with each other.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

days

The past 8 days have been stretching. New work, new workplace, new people...so much to make room in my life for. This isn't tnt in many ways. But then again, there are similarities. I still have a boss who gives me lifts in his car. I am still working with people I have already started giggling with. There are spaces where I can go and smoke.
But it is my workplace. It's business and it can and does get dirty. I wouldn't go in there and wander around to soothe myself the way I do at the Store.
I am learning to be quick, to ask for help, to work constantly under deadline and to write for a volatile audience. I am working with software and style and other technicalities.
I had gotten used to the effortless way I could work in the Store. But then it took two years, countless goof-ups and a steady focus on completing every day's tasks every day to get to that stage.
And now, I'm starting all over again.
Apart from office work, there is work needed to be done with A-and-me. We're happy, dissatisfied by the distance, but there's a seed of certainty about what we have that is taking root. I think that's mainly because I might throw tantrums, he might not call for a day, I might have issues over something he said when he was half-asleep - but at the end of it all, we're genuinely pretty psyched to have each other in our lives. Since we both started working, communication has gone down to 5 minutes of 'how was your day' online, but every little bit counts.

Monday, November 24, 2008

letter

Dear Backbone,

Today I head off to a brand new workplace. People around me are intensely excited, proud and constantly offering advice. For myself, I'm determined to handle this my way. This isn't my first job, and though the previous one was part-time and non-corporate, it was business and it was work, and I was taught to handle it that way.

So far the best advice has come from Mitul Pishi who very quietly told me, 'focus completely on your work and don't talk bad about anybody in your workplace.'

And that is the essence of any work I'll do. I know I'll resist corporate work life at every step, but nobody will ever fault me for the lack of hard work and personal dignity. I'll be making mistakes, looking blank and sponging up all kinds of information. And every time I come through fire or scale a corporate brick wall, I'll remember to give you a pat. And to say a silent thank you to people like Sumit Pipa and Trips who are convinced that you and I are awesome!

It's been you and me for many years, buddy. So here's to another adventure!

Cheers!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Wishlist

I want a vacation filled with bookshops, long browses, sleep, writing, movies....and absolutely nobody I know around!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Orange blossom, roses and being a non-tourist in Paris

I anticipated trouble this time at Charles De Gaulle. I figured it was easier than to be surprised by it. About six hours into my plane ride, I looked out and espied a lone star looking back at me. So I asked it to please ensure that my journey was smooth, and my trip fruitful.
And it appeared to wink at me and do just that.
I wasn't arrested, photographed or even looked at suspiciously. My passport was stamped, my luggage came through and I was out of there in less than five minutes.
Since Dear Old Dad believes that his children must be Super Independent, I bought myself a bus ticket to Porte Maillot and made the trip to the hotel by myself.
The first night is a frenzy of cold air and posh French food. DOD and i ate our way through scallops, snails, foie gras and finished a bottle of rather good red wine between us. I must tell you, that to see my hard-nosed, dark-rum-drinking father swirling the wine in his glass, tasting it delicately and instructing his provincial daughter on how a wine-glass should be held was tres funny.
The next morning began with an enormous breakfast. Meat, cheese, meat, cheese, meat, cheese...oh and some yoghurt for good health.
Paris on a Saturday morning is sleepy. The newspaper kiosks were open, a few florists were open (it is perfectly possible in Paris to have a sudden craving for roses at 9 am),but nobody began business till 11 am.
While walking off our breakfast, I looked at the Parisiennes. Their shoes shone, their coats were of perfect length, they walked in four-inch heels as though they had been born in them (which is very possible). I had a feeling if they were pricked, they would bring forth gushes of Chanel No.5 rather than blood. I could not imagine them breaking into a sweat, or having wind-blown hair.
Maybe it's just Paris. I mean, you're living the standard of world fashion rather than living upto them...
We had another enormous meal in the afternoon....more meat, more snails....sigh. Then we stood out, leaning against the wooden tables and smoked. In my long, felt coat, pointy leather boots, with cigarette in hand...I might have felt worldly and European...but I was too busy feeling full of food and sleepy.
Paris was a whirl this time. The few journeys I made alone...walking out at 7 am to buy postcards, the bus ride to the airport, the orange blossom shampoo that stayed on my pillow...this is what I remember best. Paris is designed for travellers, loners, lovers, gypsies. In less than two days, it gave me aching feet, cold fingers and took my breath away...
The visa officer was highly disapproving of the fact that I was travelling alone to Paris, that I had no planned itinerary for my stay. Dear sir, I wish you two weeks in Paris. Try getting lost, try gazing out at nothing and make yourself some new secrets.



Sunday, November 02, 2008

....so are our talks.
Language so filled with desire it forms in your brain
and transforms into an ache deep in your belly,
dark red and overbearing,
filling your body with secrets

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Return

I know I know...I haven't been writing in here at all. I is sorry :( But..I have been positively swamped! Writing, getting paid for it a little bit, trying to decide on that big step of moving out of home....and trying on a new relationship for size.
Now, most of you already know about this since I am pathologically incapable of keeping such big news to myself! In fact, there are at least five people I have to tell right away when something Big Deal happens.
The truth is that it is big news for me. I am taking an old friendship off the shelf, dusting it off and looking at it anew. And I have been wonderfully surprised at what I am seeing. What is even more surprising, and leading to palpable irritability, is that it is happening long-distance. Trust me to respond to somebody only after they move to the southern hemisphere! But, truth be told, it could not have happened sooner. We both needed to go through a lot of brick walls in order to become the girl who can respond, and the guy she could respond to.
I freak out over these happenings periodically, but despite this, and the distance, we are managing to communicate a LOT. The good thing about the distance is that it means the going is slow. We have time to savour, to think (in my case, to obsess.) Oh, it drives me crazy a lot of times, but it is forcing me not to rush, to actually cultivate patience. (Aren't you proud of me Boss??!!)
For now, I am hummingly happy, enjoying being showered with liking and affection and silly arguments. I will get sordid and cry buckets and have nasty doubts clouding this light, but you know what, I think I can pull this off. I think we can pull this off.
Amen.

Friday, October 10, 2008

For Mitul Pishi

I know you will survive this. I know you are worried about those who might not be able to. I know that I am sitting here tight in my helplessness and sending you what meagre prayers I can dress up in words.
You have survived so much. And you have remained strong and forthright and a passionate advocate of solitude and living. Life has thrown so much, so many big things at you...and you have let them wash over you. You have caught them and plucked out the glitzy feathers and held on to bare bones.
You have held fear and resignation in your hands, and you have moulded them into strength.
All this I know, and I am putting all my faith in this knowledge and sending it to you so that you never forget just what you hold in you.

~ Tia

Friday, October 03, 2008

Weekend in Mumbai

At the Hawaiian Shack. Yes, we were slightly blurry!
Happily buzzed!
At Spikey's. Trying to distract Weed from Sudoku/crossword/general compulsiveness.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

On letters and SMS

shortness of words
sharp, always black
sitting on the edges of impatient fingers

how did we get here?
Love was beautiful
in longhand
on paper alive with your smell
with the deep blue of your words
poured out from the curve of your belly

now there is quickness
metallic, silver.
we are free of waiting

and yet we wait

only,
the time is diminished
I can hear across hemispheres
the clicking of letters,
the slight sounds
as you choose brackets and dots
in the shape of your kiss

within minutes, sounds closer
to me will signal the arrival of a few lines
from you.
I could close my eyes and store the translucent laughter you brought...

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Thank You :)


Thanks so much for the award Friend-of-a-dozen-years :)
Here are the blogs I love:
Maddie: The most peaceful, lovely writer I have read.
Left-handed trees: Very powerful, very gentle.
Misty: Poems, soul-searches and more....
Didi: Intimate, quivering word-play....
Gypsy: From Kittenland, with love :)
Prachi: Wistful wanderings in Strawberry Cove

Friday, September 05, 2008

Variations on the word Sleep

I would like to watch you sleeping,
which may not happen.
I would like to watch you,
sleeping. I would like to sleep
with you, to enter
your sleep as its smooth dark wave
slides over my head.

and walk with you through that lucent
wavering forest of bluegreen leaves
with its watery sun & three moons
towards the cave where you must descend,
towards your worst fear

I would like to give you the silver
branch, the small white flower, the one
word that will protect you
from the grief at the center
of your dream, from the grief
at the center. I would like to follow
you up the long stairway
again & become
the boat that would row you back
carefully, a flame
in two cupped hands
to where your body lies
beside me, and you enter
it as easily as beathing in

I would like to be the air
that inhabits you for a moment
only. I would like to be that unnoticed
& that necessary.

~Margaret Atwood

On this, your day, I told you...or wished furiously I could.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Dear Airbus

My grandparents arrived back from the US a few days ago via Dubai. Their flight from JFK to Dubai was aboard the Airbus-380.

Here's the mail Dadu sent me about it:

I must tell you about our new experience while returning from NYC this time. By our two and a half trips by Emirates, we had earned enough extra miles to upgrade our JFK-DXB 13 hr flt to Business Class which in the latest Airbus A-380-200 means flat bed with ready made soft bed with a shoe-box and a shelf containing bottle of water, 3 brands of soft drinks. When the bed is made, the becomes a separate cubicle with just an entrance. The Bus Cl is a separate entity with separate entrance and - hold your breath - a wholetime buffet counter which serves almost any type ( within limits, of course ) of drink and snacks. As the flt took off at 2300 hes, one stewardess handed me themenu-card for dinner and breakfast, wine-card and info about the buffet which they preferred to name ' Anytime Titbits '. Thammi ordered a salmon grilled with some soft drink while I ordered a complicated cocktail ( which the lady took down punctiliously ) with grilled prawns. The service was perfect. I repeated the ordered as both my items were excellent. After this, the Economy Cl trip DXB-CCU was so disappointing. Anyway, it was an experience. Unfortunately, we probably won't have another opportunity to enjoy it.

Love, Dadu

When my grandfather says 'complicated cocktail', he means complicated. And he has been living on my grandmother's cooking for the past 53 years, so if he compliments culinary skills, they must indeed be superlative.

Airbus, trust me you'll never receive higher compliments :)

Sunday, August 31, 2008

In Gratitude

'Serious, thoughtful and drawing attention to and trying to open windows that are closed or ajar. From that point of view, out of the ordinary and brave.'
~ Dadu

'I read your piece and it was a thoughtful write-up. I hope to get more of that in the future.
.....a genuine prayer to the elements that you write more, for some like you write, and the rest, like us feed on it. '
~ The Professor

When my book(s) are published, these are two people whose opinion I would like printed on the front cover.
Thank you, gentlemen.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Yay yay yay yay

Chillibreeze published my article!!!!! And they've rated it pretty well. Me is Eskited!
Go see.

Every day you play

Every day you play with the light of the universe.
Subtle visitor, you arrive in the flower and the water.
You are more than this white head that I hold tightly
as a cluster of fruit, every day, between my hands.

You are like nobody since I love you.
Let me spread you out among yellow garlands.
Who writes your name in letters of smoke among the stars of the south?
Oh let me remember you as you were before you existed.

Suddenly the wind howls and bangs at my shut window.
The sky is a net crammed with shadowy fish.
Here all the winds let go sooner or later, all of them.
The rain takes off her clothes.

The birds go by, fleeing.
The wind. The wind.
I can contend only against the power of men.
The storm whirls dark leaves
and turns loose all the boats that were moored last night to the sky.

You are here. Oh, you do not run away.
You will answer me to the last cry.
Cling to me as though you were frightened.
Even so, at one time a strange shadow ran through your eyes.

Now, now too, little one, you bring me honeysuckle,
and even your breasts smell of it.
While the sad wind goes slaughtering butterflies
I love you, and my happiness bites the plum of your mouth.

How you must have suffered getting accustomed to me,
my savage, solitary soul, my name that sends them all running.
So many times we have seen the morning star burn, kissing our eyes,
and over our heads the gray light unwind in turning fans.

My words rained over you, stroking you.
A long time I have loved the sunned mother-of-pearl of your body.
I go so far as to think that you own the universe.
I will bring you happy flowers from the mountains, bluebells,
dark hazels, and rustic baskets of kisses.

I want
to do with you what spring does with the cherry trees.

~ Pablo Neruda

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Penmanship

The rains have softened slightly and I am in the throes of an intense urge to receive and write letters. I don't mind e-mails, they indulge my impatience, but...the writing on a monitor screen is not to be touched, nor are there visible smudges where the ink has run. No hand has passed over the words in a silent prayer that they will reach their destination...
I feel like putting ink-pens with thick, curved nibs to rough, hand-made paper with flowers pressed into it. Ball-points are such crass, scratchy things.

So...who wants to become pen-pals?

Friday, August 01, 2008

Look what Frobscottled sent me!!

That teeny print on the left reads:

Consider yourself blessed if the Snooty Scooty agrees to take you to your desired destination, allows you to pay by meter and does not leave you with a broken vertebrae. If you are a risk-taker and a kick-ass haggler, then sit back and enjoy the gravity-defying journey of a lifetime.
There's a lot more to this card than what I'm putting up. Let me just say that I'm more glad than ever that we found each other again :)

Of Friends and madmen

M called from Hyderabad and made my day :)
Shibs and I caught up after a long time.
She's sent me perfectly Jungian pictures of her trip to Europe. No, Europe is too prosaic. Her trip to Paris and Normandy...sigh! Shibs, you are looking tres model-like in them!!
Frobscottled is in Delhi studying to be a Human Rights lawyer. I hope your first day is a PlayClan type :)
And P is off to perform in HRC Mumbai, before going off to dancing school in Bangalore.
And I have completed and sent off an article and gotten shortlisted for a 'zob.' I have regained courage and bloom and audacity, and am looking forward boldly to this non-degree education year! I've never had one of those before.

Oh....despite blasts and terror and earthquakes and the LOC....people are doing beautiful things. The Parliament is defamed, the democracy stands in ruins....but there is a sweeter, more primal madness than all of this....the will to live big and rich and constructive.

I Stumbled across this poem by Oriah Mountain Dreamer. In gentile language, it is entitled 'The Invitation.' In my mind, I also call it 'Let's Cut the Small Talk Crap.'


It doesn't interest me what you do for a living.
I want to know what you ache for,
and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart's longing.

It doesn't interest me how old you are.
I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool
for love, for your dreams,
for the adventure of being alive.

It doesn't interest me what planets are squaring your moon.
I want to know if you have touched
the centre of your own sorrow,
if you have been opened by life's betrayals or have become shrivelled and closed from fear of further pain.

I want to know if you can sit with pain,
mine or your own, without moving to hide it
or fade it or fix it.

I want to know if you can be with joy mine or your own.
if you can dance with wildness and let the ecstasy
fill you to the tips of your fingers
and toes without cautioning usto be careful, be realistic,
remember the limitations of being human.

It doesn't interest me if the story you are telling me is true.
I want to know if you can disappoint another
to be true to yourself.
If you can bear the accusation of betrayal and not betray your own soul.
If you can be faithless and therefore trustworthy.

I want to know if you can see Beauty even when it is not pretty every day,
and if you can source your own life from its presence.
I want to know if you can live with failure, yours and mine, and still stand at the edge of the lake and shout to the silver of the full moon,
Yes.”

It doesn't interest me to know where you live,
or how much money you have.
I want to know if you can get up after the night of grief and despair,
weary and bruised to the bone,
and do what needs to be done to feed the children.

It doesn't interest me who you know
or how you came to be here.
I want to know if you will stand in the centre of the fire with me and not shrink back.

It doesn't interest me where or what
or with whom you have studied.I want to know what sustains you from the inside
when all else falls away.
I want to know if you can be alone with yourself,
and if you truly like the company you keep
in the empty moments.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Yeesh! Humour

Me: I've had a problem FOREVER!
Dad: Now that's no way to talk about your face!


Dad: I'm a poet
Though I didn't know it!

YEESH!!!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Shades of blue

The house has gone a little cuckoo with preparations for E's birthday picnic tomorrow. Tis the same spot where the Liquifier puts flowers in her hair, drinks vodka and nariyel pani straight out of the bottle and floats around in the river. However, I shall be very well-behaved on the morrow as I have kiddies to look after.

I feel less blue today. An old schoolmate saw my status on gtalk - a few lines inspired by The Professor - and asked if I could come up with something on deception and heartbreak.
Here's what came through:



Dust is what I have left
Particles of little lies
and your eyes
shaded
smudges of your fingers
mingling in my skin
fading

what is real?

the body and the light
flowing through
as you become grey
an outline remembered,

darkness

'That's how I feel,' she said after reading it.
I love her for saying that!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

For E

On the day that you were born
The angels got together
And decided to create a dream come true...

Happy 8th birthday!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Chrysallis and Erica Hopper


I haven't been where those dancers are for days. Too many changes, enormous ones, taking place around and within me. The last four days have been bruising, filled with action, some acts which seem fruitless and utterly stupid, some news that I have tucked away, all of them sharp-edged and bouncing of my apparently stoic backbone.
And it has left me deeply tired. Sleep has been very, very disturbed. I have been walking a lot, and my body is asking for peace. Peace that depends only on my habit of keeping it together. There is too much coiled inside me for peace to be any deeper than my carefully trained brain.
But I am growing larger in my capacity to endure. Bigger in determination and more independent in taking decisions.
It has been difficult being around people. I am not good at facing the world, even my world, without my strongest face forward. When I am fragile, indecisive, when I have taken a step that goes awry, I must first look within for questions. I look for a brighter side, what I could possibly learn and what I might lose. And I always give the learning more importance.
This is chrysallis time for me. I am trying to wrap myself in quiet.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Fuck em and finish em off

Because I've always had myself, my tears and my own bloody backbone! So what does any of it matter!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Question Mark

If I told you
my eyes seek
the colours bleeding under your skin
would you believe me?

would you smile
slowly, disbelievingly

if I took the raw edges of your hands
your heart
in mine

I wouldn't try to smooth them
I would let them cut into my palms
to see the shapes they make

if i tilted my head
just that little bit

my mouth brushing
the back of your collar

so close
I could see the tenderness
where your hair joined your neck


would you take a few steps back?
testing...
these are indigo waters after all

if my body deepens,

if it speaks

when you look at it
do you listen?

I look for you
your roughness and
the symmetry of your rounded fingertips
the clean light in your eyes and
the murkiness within you that drags you back

I seek the answers
there at the corner of your mouth

and the thousands of question-marks
I painted on you.....

To yall

This is for my friends. For N and S in Calcutta, who love me even when I'm horrible. For Dee who would wallop the world for me. For Rosh, who accepts my cold-shouldering, for Frobscottled who tells me to fly. For Vidushi who will never read this, but I hope will on some level feel my gratitude.
For Weed, for being ok with the dozens of obsessive SMS's and chats and talks. For Trips who always has a high opinion of me. For M, who openly tells the world she's in love with me. For P who listens to me unconditionally. For Dr. N, who let me cry.
The Noir Gypsy who looks to me for help and gives me so much affection in return. The Mad Bawi who matches my craziness at every step. For Caveman who is endlessly patient when I lose my way.
For Didi, just.
There are some I haven't mentioned, but they're all incredibly important. People who have given me a reason to be social, to be a little more sensitive.
I hear horror stories about friends who end up wilfully hurting you. I heard one today and it has horrified me. I've only just realized how protective I am of the person who ended up getting hurt. I'd calmly and severely bruise anyone who made her unhappy. And I will!
What kind of sick, twisted people deliberately cause pain to a friend!

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Full of it :)

My personality type: the dreamy idealist

Ummmm...yeah..so..

I have come to the rueful conclusion that I am a melodramatic person. I love fizzing and spitting in passionate indignation and the smallest thing can lead to a long, teary, furious piece of writing.

After all the angst poured into my previous post, I called the GP's this morning......and the result was an anti-climactically nice conversation! Oh, there was the usual 'why must you do a plain M.A. in Literature?' and 'have you looked at Librarianship as an option?' but I wasn't phased, I actually managed to not get agitated and say 'yes, yes of course' to everything. Am very proud of myself. They're all pre-occupied with their trip to the US. They're leaving on the 19th, so of course preparations began from the 1st of the month., if not before.

So the lectures were kept at a minimum, and there were no sharp pokes. Very un-dramatic indeed, but I didn't really mind.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Blood

The Gestapo have been complaining that I don't keep in touch with them. Even if I do happen to call, I keep it short, say 'yes' a lot and hang up for the next 2-3 weeks.

They're good people, my grandparents. Strong, self-reliant individuals who live principled lives. I've lived with them off and on for the first twenty years of my life, and amidst all the angst, the blame, the comparision, I stand firm in my recognition of their virtues.

They're just not good for me.
My relationship with them is volatile and precariously love-hate. My grandfather is a marvellous photographer. Their home is littered with photographs of me as a kiddie. He is a keen traveller, an upright man who once kicked a chair in the CM's face and quit his position as Commissioner of Police to maintain his integrity.
On the other hand, he is pompous and material-minded and refuses to accept that his granddaughter has taken up English Literature, and intends to study it forever.
My grandmum is the world's best cook. She is practical, makes her home beautiful and is wonderful at remembering things about people. Ask her the date of the wedding anniversary of her third cousin's wife's brother's daughter, she'll know it. She's also one of the most well-dressed women I know.
She is however insensitive, petty and a terrible nag.

What do I remember? That he has preserved the tapes that he made of me reading aloud and singing as a three year old, or that he will always make me feel like a disappointment because I won't be an M.B.A.
Will I dwell on how she always remembers that I like the leg of the chicken and lots of aloo in my gravy, or that she made me cry every day for four years?
They want a granddaughter they can brag about. All grandparents do, I suppose. And like all grandparents, there was a time when I was a bright star for them. I did things they never expected. I'm sure they were shocked, disappointed and hyper-worried. They decided to practise tough-love. By making sure that they reminded me every minute that I had failed their ideal of a granddaughter. We spent four years in the same flat...they, certain they were doing the best they could, I baffled, miserable. We were all trapped. They, forced to look after a 16 year old granddaughter they could not understand, who was no longer their bright little star. I, having nowhere else to go, being made to feel smaller all the time, not understanding how people who professed to love me were kicking me the hardest when I was down.
So we spent four years unable to reach each other in any way. Four years of red, screaming pain for me, which they never saw. Nor anyone else. And for them, it was very difficult. They were old, had just gotten back a flat they had been fighting for in court for 16 years. They really weren't equipped to handle the person I was then. I had just flunked a year of school, Mum had just moved to Spain and my maternal grandparents hadn't really wanted to keep me. I was raw, needy and determined not to let anything get me down.
And this determination irked them the most. How could I still smile and want to go out with friends! Why was I not ashamed! They were.
Maybe I should have told them that it wasn't bravado or carelessness. That I have a backbone that is used to blows and isn't used to bending. Had we tried to switch roles, maybe it wouldn't have been so bad. But we didn't. And now, they try to reach out in their way, and where I once would have humoured them and heard them out of sincere affection...I find my flesh shrinking at the thought of it. I am ruthless and I do not forgive. Rather than hold grudges, I simply cut people off.
I know I will be there for them if they every need to be looked after. They let me stay when others wouldn't. They've done a lot more besides.
But to give them a place in my life, or to make one for myself in theirs is not something I choose to do.
Blood is a weak link in my relationships. My family are those who are important to me, and a lot of them have no blood-tie with me. Therefore I will not have automatic affection for people 'because, after all they're family.' I rarely humour people, I either love them or I don't.
My grandparents will have my duty-bound self, I'll remember the DVD my grandfather wants and pick it up for him if I see it, I'll never, ever talk them down to other people...in short I'll do unto them all the duty they did unto me....and no more.

You and I

I explain quietly. You
hear me shouting. You
try a new tack. I
feel old wounds reopen.

You see both sides. I
see your blinkers. I
am placatory. You
sense a new selfishness.

I am a dove. You
recognize the hawk. You
offer an olive branch. I
feel the thorns.

You bleed. I
see crocodile tears. I
withdraw. You
reel from the impact.

~Roger McGough

Friday, July 04, 2008

Sickness

your body was faintly sour
the skin between your shoulders.... irritable and tasting of salt
wrapped in cold, cold sweat
trembling

trembling

ever

so

slightly

your hand reaching for the thermometer
impatience throbbing in your throat
where the hell is it!
The light reflecting off the foil-wrapped tablets
white, bitter
head thrown back, your eyes closing as you swallow
my hand resting on the motion of your throat


sleep now
I think I sat and smoothed the blotchiness
Out of your dreams...

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Scribble

Rain, loneliness and a queer dissatisfaction. Am going to soak my feet, then make my nails less claw-like.
Inexplicably tired. Needing movement, serenity and touch. A little more purpose and firmness of mind.
and your smile...

Monday, June 23, 2008

Mad Girl's Love Song


"I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead;
I lift my lids and all is born again.
(I think I made you up inside my head.)
The stars go waltzing out in blue and red,
And arbitrary blackness gallops in:
I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead.
I dreamed that you bewitched me into bed
And sung me moon-struck, kissed me quite insane.
(I think I made you up inside my head.)
God topples from the sky, hell's fires fade:
Exit seraphim and Satan's men:
I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead.
I fancied you'd return the way you said,
But I grow old and I forget your name.
(I think I made you up inside my head.)
I should have loved a thunderbird instead;
At least when spring comes they roar back again.
I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead.
(I think I made you up inside my head.)"


~Sylvia Plath

Thursday, June 19, 2008

In Gratitude

Dear Dad
Thank you for not parenting me like your parents. Thank you for the endless forgiveness and understanding. For never questioning my 'nos' and giving me the freedom to say 'yes.' Thank you for always treating me as an equal, for giving my role as an individual personality as much importance as that of daughter.
Thank you for being the person I am most brutally honest with. For letting me be a-social, sleepy and telling people who object to go to hell...just like you.
Most of all, thank you for knowing me so well and for being proud of exactly who I am.
Just as I am of you.

Love you lots and lots and lots.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Someone like you

When I was in the ninth standard many moons ago, a fellow scholar did ask of me the reason for my lack of a gentleman-friend.
'Liquifier my dear,' she said, 'it is IMPOSSIBLE that you are alone. Someone like you! '

Someone like you!

This sentiment was repeated many times through the next few years, pausing briefly during the J-months, resuming, and pausing again during S. The weird part is that nobody ever asks me my relationship-status when I'm actually in a relationship.
So anyway, the most recent 'someone like you!' sentiment came from Sameer when we met last month. And it's got me thinking. Why can't 'someone like me!' (yes it has to be italicized and exclamation-marked) not have a guy in my life?
I'd like to think that it refers to my vivacity and lusty love for life, my irreverent charm or maybe my oh-so-cuteness but well....it could just be that my biological clock has been pointing to 'TOO LATE' since ninth std.
Let's be honest. I love those relationship-status-type relationships. I love flirting and over-analyzing every word, every gesture with Weed and RS and P and M and Shibs and Boss and..well...whoever happens to be around and is nice enough not to have me committed (heh!).

I even enjoy the raw terror that springs up in my throat when the relationship status actually reads 'in a relationship.'
'Someone like me' is a lot of boogeymen. A lot of 'go away, this is my book-and chips time!'
It means you're gonna materialize in every poem I read or write. That some place on my body will remember you for a pretty long time. And it especially means that you will be deconstructed extensively by all my girlfriends and me.
It's pressure, baby!

I'm a hopeful romantic! One who's seen divorce and bitterness and the hard, hard work that goes into making relationships work. J and I had a hard-driven, almost painfully bright romance. The kind where you haven't a clue what you're doing, but just hurtling on desperately hoping it will work out. With S, it was a softening and a toughening. But neither of us were ready to give as much as was needed. If a splitting apart can be tender, ours was. I think we gave each other more during our break-up than during our romance.

Technically, I've been single for the last two years.
I have been lonely a few times, wistful a few times more. With the abysmally long time I take to get over relationships, the first year and half of the second was spent teary and obsessive. In fact, till January this year, I was in 'getting over phase.' Then the Mars Bar came along, and I woke up to the fact that there were still men out there who could make me smile by waving their hands around and telling the class that 'St. Augustine was a sensually fulfilled man.' I came back to Singletonhood with a vengeance which simply means that my battle-worn emotional self was ready to play again.
The thing is, almost all those people who asked That Significant Question knew a little bit of me. They saw the bad jokes, the good writing, the perpetual normalcy. They didn't know about the boogeymen. Didn't know how much it takes to make a tie with me. Or how much it is worth.

' Someone like me.' Are you listening, Universe?








Saturday, June 14, 2008

Rain and The Remains..



It was the perfect evening. Darkness, soft rain, no electricity. Ideal for sunggling under my quilt and read Howards End. I always choose all fiercely English writing on such days. I especially like the Brontes because their novels are all set in gloomy moors seething with a repressed wildness. I is big fan of Victorian gloom in English Literature.



I have just finished 'The Remains of the Day' and loved it. Ishiguro has carved Stevens' character with such intense perfection. From the utterly perfect language, to the stern repression of any untoward emotion, in fact any emotion at all, the psyche of the stereotypical English butler has been examined through Stevens' introspection as well as the sub-text of his narration. The author has also managed to instill the essence of a deeply-felt-but-never verbalized love story between the lines...


The novel is set over a period of approximately thirty years, spanning the two World Wars and the slow death of English aristocracy and Ishiguro has maintained a beautiful balance between defending the aristocrat and his lifestyle, and demonstrating why it had to be left behind.



So...Half of a Yellow Sun to be finished, Howards End to be snuggled up to and The Palace of Illusions to make acquaintaince with. And I definitely want to watch the movies of 'Remains...' and 'Howards End.' Anthony Hopkins, Emma Thompson, Helena Bonham Carter, old-style English manor-houses...my monsoon is made!

One finger to my temple

I haven't written any poetry in a while. I am in a tired place where there is no humour or poignancy. I've been trying so hard to write, and it comes out whiny, dismal, self-satisfied. Such is my non-fiction.

It is as though my writing cannot escape the issues I have buried most deep inside, things I have never ever spoken of and written about only very vaguely. Those were the days when I had journals. I still have a few...beautifully covered, blank, hand-made paper I cannot resist.

I need to soften the giant lump that settles in my chest every time I attempt to write. To step out of the petty, sordid details that crowd me, begging for expression. Or maybe I need to turn them loose on paper and be done with it. Maybe then, poetry will come to me again. I need to clear when I write poems. Clear in my pain, my joy...

I think I need to go back to my journal.

Friday, June 13, 2008

A Thousand Kisses Deep


For he's touched your perfect body with his mind....

In a world where Leonard Cohen exists, hope is not lost.


Listen to him here.

Plish to note

I am opening roll-er dokan! Apologies to all those who were sending me off to the Furren Universities, but really, roll-stalls will cause less pacing, chip-eating and screaming at my reflection.
So there!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Letter

Dear Universe
Send me un-jadedness. Let me never become a manager-type person. Send me love that stays even after seeing all my boogeymen. Let me not ration my stubborness, my moods, my brutal honesty. May I retain my shamelessness for all time. Rejoice in being the vague, unstructured, obsessive girl I am.
Remind me that I can always stretch further. That I am responsible wholly and completely for my every move. Strengthen my belief that my joy is big and wrapped up in silence, solitude and eating chips just as much as in good conversation, books and independence. Give me the freedom to say go to hell to those who try to direct me, no matter how well-meaning they may be. Teach me to be good to myself, to take off and be carefree soon as I can afford it! Let me be as melodramatic as I wish and sucks-boo to those who can't take it. Most of all, help me to be grateful without thinking myself indebted for life, to live without compromising on what is most important to me and to imagine with a little more courage each day.
Thank you so very much.

Congratulations


My aunt started her production house in a tiny room on the mezzanine floor in our South Kolkata house. She got out of a marriage and a job, both of which were dying and struck out on her own with a five year old daughter.
This was ten years ago. Today she is happily re-married, the owner of two homes and her own company. I have seen her working. The stress, the sweat, the charm that formed strong alliances. The support of her new husband who has made refusing-to-back-down an art. Even now, when I ask her how she is, she replies with 'just breathing.'
After years of ad-films, Anuranan came into being. Low-budget, with most of the cast and crew becoming like family.
And it has culminated in a National Award for Best Regional Film. I am so proud!

Monday, June 09, 2008

Education

The Fringe Benefits of Failure, and the Importance of Imagination Harvard University Commencement AddressJ.K. Rowling
Copyright June 2008
As prepared for delivery


President Faust, members of the Harvard Corporation and the Board of Overseers, members of the faculty, proud parents, and, above all, graduates,
The first thing I would like to say is 'thank you.' Not only has Harvard given me an extraordinary honour, but the weeks of fear and nausea I've experienced at the thought of giving this commencement address have made me lose weight. A win-win situation! Now all I have to do is take deep breaths, squint at the red banners and fool myself into believing I am at the world's best-educated Harry Potter convention.
Delivering a commencement address is a great responsibility; or so I thought until I cast my mind back to my own graduation. The commencement speaker that day was the distinguished British philosopher Baroness Mary Warnock. Reflecting on her speech has helped me enormously in writing this one, because it turns out that I can't remember a single word she said. This liberating discovery enables me to proceed without any fear that I might inadvertently influence you to abandon promising careers in business, law or politics for the giddy delights of becoming a gay wizard.
You see? If all you remember in years to come is the 'gay wizard' joke, I've still come out ahead of Baroness Mary Warnock. Achievable goals: the first step towards personal improvement.
Actually, I have wracked my mind and heart for what I ought to say to you today. I have asked myself what I wish I had known at my own graduation, and what important lessons I have learned in the 21 years that has expired between that day and this.
I have come up with two answers. On this wonderful day when we are gathered together to celebrate your academic success, I have decided to talk to you about the benefits of failure. And as you stand on the threshold of what is sometimes called 'real life', I want to extol the crucial importance of imagination.
These might seem quixotic or paradoxical choices, but please bear with me.
Looking back at the 21-year-old that I was at graduation, is a slightly uncomfortable experience for the 42-year-old that she has become. Half my lifetime ago, I was striking an uneasy balance between the ambition I had for myself, and what those closest to me expected of me.
I was convinced that the only thing I wanted to do, ever, was to write novels. However, my parents, both of whom came from impoverished backgrounds and neither of whom had been to college, took the view that my overactive imagination was an amusing personal quirk that could never pay a mortgage, or secure a pension.
They had hoped that I would take a vocational degree; I wanted to study English Literature. A compromise was reached that in retrospect satisfied nobody, and I went up to study Modern Languages. Hardly had my parents' car rounded the corner at the end of the road than I ditched German and scuttled off down the Classics corridor.
I cannot remember telling my parents that I was studying Classics; they might well have found out for the first time on graduation day. Of all subjects on this planet, I think they would have been hard put to name one less useful than Greek mythology when it came to securing the keys to an executive bathroom.
I would like to make it clear, in parenthesis, that I do not blame my parents for their point of view. There is an expiry date on blaming your parents for steering you in the wrong direction; the moment you are old enough to take the wheel, responsibility lies with you. What is more, I cannot criticise my parents for hoping that I would never experience poverty. They had been poor themselves, and I have since been poor, and I quite agree with them that it is not an ennobling experience. Poverty entails fear, and stress, and sometimes depression; it means a thousand petty humiliations and hardships. Climbing out of poverty by your own efforts, that is indeed something on which to pride yourself, but poverty itself is romanticised only by fools.
What I feared most for myself at your age was not poverty, but failure.
At your age, in spite of a distinct lack of motivation at university, where I had spent far too long in the coffee bar writing stories, and far too little time at lectures, I had a knack for passing examinations, and that, for years, had been the measure of success in my life and that of my peers.
I am not dull enough to suppose that because you are young, gifted and well-educated, you have never known hardship or heartbreak. Talent and intelligence never yet inoculated anyone against the caprice of the Fates, and I do not for a moment suppose that everyone here has enjoyed an existence of unruffled privilege and contentment.
However, the fact that you are graduating from Harvard suggests that you are not very well-acquainted with failure. You might be driven by a fear of failure quite as much as a desire for success. Indeed, your conception of failure might not be too far from the average person's idea of success, so high have you already flown academically.
Ultimately, we all have to decide for ourselves what constitutes failure, but the world is quite eager to give you a set of criteria if you let it. So I think it fair to say that by any conventional measure, a mere seven years after my graduation day, I had failed on an epic scale. An exceptionally short-lived marriage had imploded, and I was jobless, a lone parent, and as poor as it is possible to be in modern Britain, without being homeless. The fears my parents had had for me, and that I had had for myself, had both come to pass, and by every usual standard, I was the biggest failure I knew.
Now, I am not going to stand here and tell you that failure is fun. That period of my life was a dark one, and I had no idea that there was going to be what the press has since represented as a kind of fairy tale resolution. I had no idea how far the tunnel extended, and for a long time, any light at the end of it was a hope rather than a reality.
So why do I talk about the benefits of failure? Simply because failure meant a stripping away of the inessential. I stopped pretending to myself that I was anything other than what I was, and began to direct all my energy into finishing the only work that mattered to me. Had I really succeeded at anything else, I might never have found the determination to succeed in the one arena I believed I truly belonged. I was set free, because my greatest fear had already been realised, and I was still alive, and I still had a daughter whom I adored, and I had an old typewriter and a big idea. And so rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.
You might never fail on the scale I did, but some failure in life is inevitable. It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all – in which case, you fail by default.
Failure gave me an inner security that I had never attained by passing examinations. Failure taught me things about myself that I could have learned no other way. I discovered that I had a strong will, and more discipline than I had suspected; I also found out that I had friends whose value was truly above rubies.
The knowledge that you have emerged wiser and stronger from setbacks means that you are, ever after, secure in your ability to survive. You will never truly know yourself, or the strength of your relationships, until both have been tested by adversity. Such knowledge is a true gift, for all that it is painfully won, and it has been worth more to me than any qualification I ever earned.
Given a time machine or a Time Turner, I would tell my 21-year-old self that personal happiness lies in knowing that life is not a check-list of acquisition or achievement. Your qualifications, your CV, are not your life, though you will meet many people of my age and older who confuse the two. Life is difficult, and complicated, and beyond anyone's total control, and the humility to know that will enable you to survive its vicissitudes.
You might think that I chose my second theme, the importance of imagination, because of the part it played in rebuilding my life, but that is not wholly so. Though I will defend the value of bedtime stories to my last gasp, I have learned to value imagination in a much broader sense. Imagination is not only the uniquely human capacity to envision that which is not, and therefore the fount of all invention and innovation. In its arguably most transformative and revelatory capacity, it is the power that enables us to empathise with humans whose experiences we have never shared.
One of the greatest formative experiences of my life preceded Harry Potter, though it informed much of what I subsequently wrote in those books. This revelation came in the form of one of my earliest day jobs. Though I was sloping off to write stories during my lunch hours, I paid the rent in my early 20s by working in the research department at Amnesty International' s headquarters in London.
There in my little office I read hastily scribbled letters smuggled out of totalitarian regimes by men and women who were risking imprisonment to inform the outside world of what was happening to them. I saw photographs of those who had disappeared without trace, sent to Amnesty by their desperate families and friends. I read the testimony of torture victims and saw pictures of their injuries. I opened handwritten, eye-witness accounts of summary trials and executions, of kidnappings and rapes.
Many of my co-workers were ex-political prisoners, people who had been displaced from their homes, or fled into exile, because they had the temerity to think independently of their government. Visitors to our office included those who had come to give information, or to try and find out what had happened to those they had been forced to leave behind.
I shall never forget the African torture victim, a young man no older than I was at the time, who had become mentally ill after all he had endured in his homeland. He trembled uncontrollably as he spoke into a video camera about the brutality inflicted upon him. He was a foot taller than I was, and seemed as fragile as a child. I was given the job of escorting him to the Underground Station afterwards, and this man whose life had been shattered by cruelty took my hand with exquisite courtesy, and wished me future happiness.
And as long as I live I shall remember walking along an empty corridor and suddenly hearing, from behind a closed door, a scream of pain and horror such as I have never heard since. The door opened, and the researcher poked out her head and told me to run and make a hot drink for the young man sitting with her. She had just given him the news that in retaliation for his own outspokenness against his country's regime, his mother had been seized and executed.
Every day of my working week in my early 20s I was reminded how incredibly fortunate I was, to live in a country with a democratically elected government, where legal representation and a public trial were the rights of everyone.
Every day, I saw more evidence about the evils humankind will inflict on their fellow humans, to gain or maintain power. I began to have nightmares, literal nightmares, about some of the things I saw, heard and read.
And yet I also learned more about human goodness at Amnesty International than I had ever known before.
Amnesty mobilises thousands of people who have never been tortured or imprisoned for their beliefs to act on behalf of those who have. The power of human empathy, leading to collective action, saves lives, and frees prisoners. Ordinary people, whose personal well-being and security are assured, join together in huge numbers to save people they do not know, and will never meet. My small participation in that process was one of the most humbling and inspiring experiences of my life.
Unlike any other creature on this planet, humans can learn and understand, without having experienced. They can think themselves into other people's minds, imagine themselves into other people's places.
Of course, this is a power, like my brand of fictional magic, that is morally neutral. One might use such an ability to manipulate, or control, just as much as to understand or sympathise.
And many prefer not to exercise their imaginations at all. They choose to remain comfortably within the bounds of their own experience, never troubling to wonder how it would feel to have been born other than they are. They can refuse to hear screams or to peer inside cages; they can close their minds and hearts to any suffering that does not touch them personally; they can refuse to know.
I might be tempted to envy people who can live that way, except that I do not think they have any fewer nightmares than I do. Choosing to live in narrow spaces can lead to a form of mental agoraphobia, and that brings its own terrors. I think the wilfully unimaginative see more monsters. They are often more afraid.
What is more, those who choose not to empathise may enable real monsters. For without ever committing an act of outright evil ourselves, we collude with it, through our own apathy.
One of the many things I learned at the end of that Classics corridor down which I ventured at the age of 18, in search of something I could not then define, was this, written by the Greek author Plutarch: What we achieve inwardly will change outer reality.
That is an astonishing statement and yet proven a thousand times every day of our lives. It expresses, in part, our inescapable connection with the outside world, the fact that we touch other people's lives simply by existing.
But how much more are you, Harvard graduates of 2008, likely to touch other people's lives? Your intelligence, your capacity for hard work, the education you have earned and received, give you unique status, and unique responsibilities. Even your nationality sets you apart. The great majority of you belong to the world's only remaining superpower. The way you vote, the way you live, the way you protest, the pressure you bring to bear on your government, has an impact way beyond your borders. That is your privilege, and your burden.
If you choose to use your status and influence to raise your voice on behalf of those who have no voice; if you choose to identify not only with the powerful, but with the powerless; if you retain the ability to imagine yourself into the lives of those who do not have your advantages, then it will not only be your proud families who celebrate your existence, but thousands and millions of people whose reality you have helped transform for the better. We do not need magic to change the world, we carry all the power we need inside ourselves already: we have the power to imagine better.
I am nearly finished. I have one last hope for you, which is something that I already which is something that I already had at 21. The friends with whom I sat on graduation day have been my friends for life. They are my children's godparents, the people to whom I've been able to turn in times of trouble, friends who have been kind enough not to sue me when I've used their names for Death Eaters. At our graduation we were bound by enormous affection, by our shared experience of a time that could never come again, and, of course, by the knowledge that we held certain photographic evidence that would be exceptionally valuable if any of us ran for Prime Minister.
So today, I can wish you nothing better than similar friendships. And tomorrow, I hope that even if you remember not a single word of mine, you remember those of Seneca, another of those old Romans I met when I fled down the Classics corridor, in retreat from career ladders, in search of ancient wisdom:
As is a tale, so is life: not how long it is, but how good it is, is what matters.
I wish you all very good lives.
Thank you very much.


Shibani sent me this a day after I'd been whining about how I'm still told that English Literature is not a 'career.'
Thank you Shibs, for giving my whinings such sincere importance.

Watch the video here.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Bright as Yellow



And you live your life

with your arms stretched out.

Eye to eye when speaking.

Enter rooms with great joy shouts,

happy to be meeting.


And bright,

bright,

bright as yellow,

warm as yellow.


And I do not want to be a rose.

I do not wish to be pale pink,

but flower scarlet,

flower gold.

And have no thorns to distance me,


but be bright,

bright,

bright as yellow,

warm as yellow.


Even if I'm shouting,

even if I'm shouting here inside.

Even if I'm shouting,

do you see that I'm wanting,

that I want to be so bright,

bright,

bright as yellow,

warm as yellow.


-The Innocence Mission


Listen here.

Thanks Shibani. You brought a splash of yellow on a dark day :)

Love always.

Vague

I am frightened when I am unable to write. Not as in writer's block, but when I am disturbed so deeply that my gut is buried alive.
It's been that way for a while, hence the poems written by other people and the photographs. I have had lots to write about....new intimacies, good talks, active days, terrifying suspicions...but thw words will not come.
I am realizing that I love couching my writing in abstract, beautiful words. And a diary cannot be hemmed in by such artistic demands. I talk straight..my stammer makes it necessary to keep conversation to the point. I am even accused of being outspoken to the point of rudeness.
But in writing, I feel I must be flowing, graceful, subtle.
Disturbance, terror, shattering suspicions are alien to this mindset. It bruises me to be less than honest while writing, but...honesty is raw. Honesty is the big pimple on the cheek, the intensity that most people back away from, being moody because you feel like it, favouring silence rather than small talk...
I need this honesty. I need to write with it. I need to shed layers and move out...

Friday, June 06, 2008

chhobi

E and I. Taken especially for Dad's 50th birthday basket.



In Kamshet, two years ago.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Focus

Rebecca Wells writes that total suppleness of the spirit is not always for the best. I have been labile in mind and heart over the last few days...allowing myself to rise far...maybe too far above what I know. I haven't had the quiet intimacy that this flight needs...therefore it has resulted in confusion.
Right now, I am crying out for enormous change. For quiet, for intimacy with one from whom I have earned it, for space where no one needs me. I am facing my urge to think of myself alone, to take steps that are so far removed from my plans of yesterday. From who I have been all these years.
There may well be an exasperating cacophony around me if I articulate all this. I don't have answers to all the how's and whys. I need to go and I need to be. I want to take a step, knowing that it is what I want only at that moment. I want to be careful with myself and to hell with a lot of things. I want to move, to drift away from everything that I have not built.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Poem

Some say that love's a little boy,
And some say it's a bird,
Some say it makes the world go round,
And some say that's absurd,
And when I asked the man next-door,
Who looked as if he knew,
His wife got very cross indeed,
And said it wouldn't do.

Does it look like a pair of pajamas,
Or the ham in a temperance hotel?
Does it's odour remind one of llamas,
Or has it a comforting smell?
Is it prickly to touch as a hedge is,
Or soft as eiderdown fluff?
Is it sharp or quite smooth at the edges?
O tell me the truth about love.

Our history books refer to it
In cryptic little notes,
It's quite a common topic on
The Transatlantic boats;
I've found the subject mentioned in
Accounts of suicides,
And even seen it scribbled on
The backs of railway-guides.

Does it howl like a hungry Alsatian,
Or boom like a military band?
Could one give a first-rate imitation
On a saw or a Steinway Grand?
Is its singing at parties a riot?
Does it only like Classical stuff?
Will it stop when one wants to be quiet?
O tell me the truth about love.

I looked inside the summer-house;
it wasn't ever there:
I tried the Thames at Maidenhead,
And Brighton's bracing air.
I don't know what the blackbird sang,
Or what the tulip said;
But it wasn't in the chicken-run,
Or underneath the bed.

Can it pull extraordinary faces?
Is it usually sick on a swing?
Does it spend all it's time at the races,
Or fiddling with pieces of string?
Has it views of its own about money?
Does it think Patriotism enough?
Are its stories vulgar but funny?
O tell me the truth about love.

When it comes, will it come without warning
Just as I'm picking my nose?
Will it knock on my door in the morning,
Or tread in the bus on my shoes?
Will it come like a change in the weather?
Will its greeting be courteous or rough?
Will it alter my life altogether?
O tell me the truth about love.

~W.H. Auden

Friday, May 16, 2008

Love


Thursday, May 15, 2008

Those were the days....



I have a knack for beautiful girl-friends :)

Congratulations on the engagement, Dee. I hope this is the beginning of many wonderful things for yall.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Kahlil Gibran





But if you love and must needs have desires, let these be your desires:

To melt and be like a running brook that sings its melody to the night.

To know the pain of too much tenderness.

To be wounded by your own understanding of love;

And to bleed willingly and joyfully.”

Saturday, May 10, 2008

On the Eve of Mother's Day

I sent Mum some early Mother's Day greetings. This was her reply.

Nothing in my life would be wonderful
There would be no magic,
No marvel
No feeling of being worthy,
No faith,
No tears of joy.....

If You did not happen to me!!!!

I can never hold you enough,
Never be with you enough.
Never laugh with you enough..

I only wish there was more of us together.

Thank you for the Mother's Day Greetings!
With you, I feel greeted every moment!
Love you.

Seven years and thousands of miles apart....there is no one closer.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Hot Library Smut ;)

Bits of bibliophilic beauty from around the world!

If I have my way, I shall live in each one for at least a week.
Thanks RS.

Education

This is good stuff!

Much gratitude to the Insane Rambler. I loved it.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Quote

“All forms of tampering with human beings, getting at them, shaping them against their will to your own pattern, all thought control and conditioning is, therefore, a denial of that in men which makes them men and their values ultimate.”

Isaiah Berlin

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Leaves

Woke up early today. 9 am! Was supposed to meet Sameer for lunch at 11:30, but a girl doesn't go to meet one of her favourite men in the world without oiling her hair, using special shampoo and conditioner and making sure her arms and legs are smooth. Weed wanted to meet him, so I took her along....we ran in to Vaishali at 12:00 with me panting out apologies.
For those of you who don't know, Sameer was one of the facilitators at a creative-writing workshop my college organized last year in collaboration with Pennsylvania State University last year.
We kept in touch via email, or in Sameer's words..'she wouldn't go away, so I finally decided to mail back.'
Twas good catching up with him...he is one of those people with gypsy limbs who wander actively and look you clear in the eye while talking/listening. Tis one of the things I love about The Professor as well :)
Sameer's going to be a father in June..and he is so incredibly excited! Aaaaaand....he said I write really well, and I should totally apply for an M.F.A, at PSU itself maybe. Thank you so much!

Weed and I went to the British Library for some free air-conditioning, and I ended up walking out with four books. Will I ever be less compulsive about books!! And shoes! And junk food!
Then we had the riches, thickest chocolate shakes and then went and bought Oshos and a jhola for me.
Sigh...how much I'm going to miss that road. Even if I'm at the university here, it won't be the same as going there every day.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

I currently hate

everyone on the OC...why should they have all the fun!
all girls with thin legs
every student in Mumbai University
everyone who makes the slightest noise around me

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Pipes

and underneath our colouring, we're all full of stories.
indigo as love
and who could put one story above another
(old scars
deeply sour in our blood)

the nightmares
pulsing in yellow
losing out breathing in wandering where there is more
waking up to fruitless
dim
white
(where are you)

peace, perfect in lavendar
crimson in its hunger
the tired red of eyes
bloodied
flowered bodies
every
body

a flower

and stories flowing
mouth to mouth
ritualized
tender
chanting and swaying

ancient as lines on palms

underneath my skin
yours
burnt and pale and touched
lies our breath
sullied, buried, storied
us.

breathing
...and who puts one breath above another...

Thursday, April 24, 2008

3 pages a day

Be it mindless scribbling, poetry or the continued flow of a leetle story I began last night, 3 pages a day is my new YES.

Did you know that in Tahiti, they don't have a word for 'sad?' Sad isn't an emotion as far as they know. When somebody is sad, Tahitians believe she/he is physically ill.
That is the only interesting part of my Industrial Psychology course. Thankfully, the exam got over yesterday so I'm well rid of it.

But now begins the real stress. Starting Monday, I have Philosophy, Functional English a.k.a Linguistics and Literary Criticism one after the other.
The two English papers hold my pride so I'll dive into them. Philosophy, because I love it. It and the Professor :)
I'll leave you with a few lines inspired by him...

....you know how sometimes your brain feels like it's in a coma...like every nerve is frozen. And then...a huge shot of adrenaline bursts through you..like the sun is too close...like a fresh cut on your belly.. and you wake up glowing...gleaming with what you learnt. You...are that shot of adrenaline..the cut, the sun.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Yes





1. "I long to create something that can't be used to keep us passive: I want to write a script about plumbing, how every pipe is joined to every other."


2. "In order to live a fully human life we require not only control of our bodies (though control is a prerequisite); we must touch the unity and resonance of our physicality, our bond with the natural order, the corporeal grounds of our intelligence."



-Adrienne Rich

Monday, April 21, 2008

Rumi

“This is love: to fly toward a secret sky, to cause a hundred veils to fall each moment. First to let go of life. Finally, to take a step without feet.”

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Blocked

...and very jittery. I have a feeling something's coming..and I'm not ready, though I want to be. I have the hard knots in my belly that have nothing to do with eating chips. The thing about me and fear is that I don't face them, I ignore them. As in, ignore them and get on with life. But fears have a nasty way of festering deep inside, of growing redder and more sore...
Maybe it's time I took some of these sores in hand. I'm rarely soothing to myself. I say 'tough love' and end it there.
I am realizing now that a lot depends on my facing life with my fears instead of trying to skate over them. I remember Maddie's post on saying YES. Tis incredibly important. Yes to impertinent grins, to the freedom of motion, to 'loving big, loud and shining.' Yes to speaking up, and talking freely. Yes to looking deeper at being responsible and being joyful. Yes to poetry. To spontaneous caring.
Tell you what. I'll make a project out of it. Pick one thing each day to say YES to. To open up to and learn about.
What do yall want to say YES to....

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Treble trouble

Heat. PMS. Irritability.
Thank all goddesses for rooms with locks on the doors. And for VJ's who remind me that there are indeed people out there who are stupider than I am.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

ETZ and more...

The countdown has begun. The stiffness in the neck. The tightening of the stomach muscles. This is that time of year when sleep seems a hindrance. When all I can bear to watch are animated movies and MTV Kickass Mornings.
The Liquifer has officially moved into the Exam Time Zone.

I'm also seeing and hearing of a lot of love :)
There's P and S and their wonderfully affectionate relationship. I've never seen P this happy in the 3 years that I've known her. There is so much sharing and richness between them.

There's Dee and her guy. I'm really really hoping this love makes her happy. She's far away, but her photographs and her writing tone are happy. Dee, if you're reading this...I'm sending you Special Hope Bubbles!

And now there's RS. Aren't new beginnings the best? Don't forget to never stop smiling :)

As for me, I'll borrow a few words from Maddie to tell you all about it...

"As it may happen I was so very busy feeling wounded I did not notice love following close behind me. It hummed little tunes and helped me pick out polkadot knee~socks, it chased the sticks I tossed for my dog at the beach. It waved me over in shops when it found a romantic flouncy skirt or a particularly pretty hat. Yet love was invisible to me. When I read my book and sipped my tea in the very early morning, love peeked over my shoulder and nodded happily at the parts that made me laugh. Love held my hand when I jumped over puddles and kissed my nose as I read the menu in the breakfast diner. It slipped into the bath before the candles were lit, and waited to tickle my toes. However, I turned my blind green eyes away from the romantic moons and pretended not to hear the soaring serenades outside my window. Yet every now and then my pen would slip and glance true love's way ~ allowing a few wayward poetic murmurs to slip on to the page.And then one evening, deep into the night I played the piano as a new note crept into my song. So, curious, I went back to read all my scattered scribblings and began to piece it all together
and there it was

~ staring me straight in the heart

~ petal by petal love had returned....:)

Isn't she beautiful.....

Monday, April 07, 2008

Love Song to a Stranger








Your gentleness came down upon me and I guess I thanked you



When you caused me to yield



We spoke not a sentence and took



not a footstep beyond



Our two days together which seemingly soon would be gone



Don't tell me of love everlasting and other sad dreams



I don't want to hear





Just tell me of passionate strangers who rescue each other



From a lifetime of cares



Because if love means forever, expecting nothing returned



Then I hope I'll be given another whole lifetime to learn..





-Joan Baez

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Monday, March 31, 2008

Gloom

Learning alone is no fun. I miss classrooms.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Naked

Naked, you are simple as a hand,
smooth, earthy, small. . . transparent, round.
You have moon lines and apple paths;
Naked, you are slender as the wheat.

Naked, Cuban blue midnight is your color,
Naked, I trace the stars and vines in your hair;
Naked, you are spacious and yellow
As a summer's wholeness in a golden church.

Naked, you are tiny as your fingernail;
Subtle and curved in the rose-colored dawn
And you withdraw to the underground world

As if down a long tunnel of clothing and of chores:
your clear light dims, gets dressed, drops its leaves,
And becomes a naked hand again.

Pablo Neruda

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Maya Angelou

1. Refusal

Beloved,
In what other lives or lands
Have I known your lips
Your Hands
Your Laughter brave
Irreverent.
Those sweet excesses that
I do adore.
What surety is there
That we will meet again,
On other worlds some
Future time undated.
I defy my body's haste.
Without the promise
Of one more sweet encounter
I will not deign to die.



2. When You Come

When you come to me, unbidden,
Beckoning me
To long-ago rooms,
Where memories lie.

Offering me, as to a child, an attic,
Gatherings of days too few.
Baubles of stolen kisses.
Trinkets of borrowed loves.
Trunks of secret words,

I CRY.


3. Touched By An Angel

We, unaccustomed to courage
exiles from delight
live coiled in shells of loneliness
until love leaves its high holy temple
and comes into our sight
to liberate us into life.

Love arrives
and in its train come ecstasies
old memories of pleasure
ancient histories of pain.
Yet if we are bold,
love strikes away the chains of fear
from our souls.

We are weaned from our timidity
In the flush of love's light
we dare be brave
And suddenly we see
that love costs all we are
and will ever be.
Yet it is only love
which sets us free.


4. Rememberance

Your hands easy
weight, teasing the bees
hived in my hair, your smile at the
slope of my cheek. On the
occasion, you press
above me, glowing, spouting
readiness, mystery rapes
my reason

When you have withdrawn
your self and the magic, when
only the smell of your
love lingers between
my breasts, then, only
then, can I greedily consume
your presence.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Upturn

I haven't wwritten for a long time. As in...written about me and what's important right now.
Academics and intense studying going on. I'm enjoying it. I haven't yet reached the stage where the world is blurred and only the monotonous, photocopied sheets scattered around me have significance, but I'm getting there.
I'm learning to appreciate poetry and prose in a disciplined way, reading 50 page essays on why poetry is the best form of art/expression and all else sucks, trying to learn the form, function and meaning of verb phrases, draw tree diagrams and cudgeling my brain to absorb the 'supersensuous world' of Philosophy and Religion.

I've also been partying, getting to know some really nice people and getting over certain relationships.
Personally, I am in a bit of a situation. It's been discussed and mulled over so much that I don't know what to write. It's at the stage where I'm hoping for a response, for personal conversation. It's also at the stage where I am having to show restraint, which is a tremendous struggle for me.
I am a very bad flirt, I've realized, being entirely without arts and graces. I look, I like, I leap...that is my motto. And I love it.
But...this little in-the-pipeline-relationship needs brutal discipline and hard work...again not my strongest areas.
In the next few weeks, I'm going to be honing all my latent resources and faculties towards it. Figure out how important it is. And no my exam prep won't suffer because this relationship is intimately entwined with sincere study.
It might be fun. As Holly Golightly would say,'Of course I'll be hard-working and diligent. I've never been hard-working and diligent before.'

Saturday, March 22, 2008

new

Blog set up for Dad's 50th birthday party prep.

www.bhepus50thbirthday.blogspot.com

Monday, March 17, 2008

Wonder

Intimacy is tough to write about. One ends up being didactic and preachy, albeit ever so slightly.
Also, to scrutinize intimacy and write about it in a systematic, concise way, is to limit its scope.
I like the term, the concept. I like how it feels on my lips and tongue when I say it. I like that I smile when I use it.

But what to write about it?

I ask for the freedom to be intimate. I ask to have the choice of not saying 'yeah whatever' to things. I would like to care obsessively.

Is it intimate to run to meet someone with your hands outstretched? To hug your teacher because he/she makes a brilliant point and is in love with the classroom?

What if I walk barefoot on wet grass and stretch my body with pleasure? Ask my dad for cigarettes?

Can I maintain eye contact with everyone I talk to? Tell people I stammer so that they can get over it? Would you be afraid if we had a conversation based entirely on the first things that came to my mind?

Say I touched the hand of an unattainable man...one I could never have...
What would they call me?

I read love stories and the ocean makes me dizzy. So....

It's all questions and never certain.

Intimacy?

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Love

This was recorded in Savera, over iced tea and cigarettes. The Professor, sitting across from me, in conversation with an ex-student sitting at the next table.



Ex-student: Sir, are your classes over?

The Professor: No.

Ex-student: Oh...when are they on till?

The Professor(smiling and glancing towards his Honours students sitting inside): Till whenever they want.


Not 'till we finish the course,' or 'till the third week of March,' but till whenever his students want to be with him.

There was no pushing back of hair, he wasn't even talking to me....but I don't think I've ever wanted to give anyone a bigger hug.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

A Call from Cochin

Dad: Are you studying or maroing adda?

Me: Neither.

Dad: Are you on the pot?

Me: Geez! I don't ask you what you're doing! How come you get to ask me??

Dad: Because you're the daughter.

Me: I'm also the only equal you have.

Dad: Hmph! You need to know how lucky you are. Yesterday, I was at your uncle's place for dinner. D(his daughter) asked him if she could go for a concert. He said she could go if eithet he or her mum went with her. She couldn't go with friends. And the girl's 18 years old.

Me: I know I'm lucky, Dad. I've cutsie parents!

Dad: I had visions of what would happen if I told you such a thing.

Me: Oh? And what vision was that?

Dad: You'd ignore me!

Laughter...


The dear man doesn't read my blog so he doesn't know how often my gratitude appears in writing :)
Lucky.

And I never forget it!

Thursday, March 06, 2008

When I think about it...

....when your mum and dad are the coolest people you know, when your heart is wrapped around a cuddly seven year old with big eyes and a fast mouth, when your first ever boyfriend's birthday message reads, 'happy birthday +1, my love' because he's a day late, when your friends buy a can of really sticky confetti and spray it all over you in the middle of the road, when half the Philosophy department spontanously start singing Happy Birthday at the Main Circle in your college, when people you don't expect call to wish you, when you're not too sure where you're heading..but that's ok, when your stepmum buys you totally sexy underwear and your brother refuses to buy you anything that costs less than a 100 bucks, when you, when people tell you your writing makes them feel light and happy, when your head's been blown off by a mad Doctor of Philosophy and suddenly all that's important is that he looked at you over his shoulder....twice, when a friend you thought was lost returns to you..and he's grown sweeter and more affectionate, when your Boss is a best friend, when you eat chocolate-dipped strawberries with Mascarpone cream, when you're planning a second birthday party for the weekend, when you feel full of space and completely filled all at once...

...well, twenty-three looks pretty good...