Sunday, May 13, 2012

Not a Morning Person

There are mornings when you feel old. When you feel like you've understood the secrets of the world--some of them, at least--and you just want to walk up to your mother and ask her what she was thinking, bringing you into this mess. When you feel like you've lost yourself, but also found yourself after years, maybe for the first time. And it all only makes as much sense to you as it does to anybody else who isn't privy to your every thought.

On mornings like this one, when you've chosen to stay up all night, pretending to give meaning to your existence and worn yourself out; and further pushed yourself to get back into your exercise regime; and then tried to round off the health routine by having that rare breakfast, your first in two weeks... on such mornings, you feel worn thin, stretched out, left with little idea of who you are and what the hell you're doing on this little planet, because even sleep won't come (and every damn person chooses to knock on your door to ask irrelevant questions and present you with bills that are not yours and you are too broke to pay anyway). Thoughts crowd in, too heavily, and you want to drill a hole into your temples just to relieve the pressure--if only that wouldn't be so fatal.

Why are there mornings when your present seems to define your whole past and future and everything about you gets washed in the same greyness until you feel like there has never been and will never be anything, anyone other than this moment and the you in it--so dull, so drab, so washed-out and lacking in any kind of interest, a ghost who pretends she is living but knows, always knows somewhere that this is not what living is? When did that realization dawn, that you cannot take your cues of living from others, that you must make this frightening journey into the abyss of yourself if you want to find any kind of lasting meaning?

The abyss yawns
and I swim
into it (though I
don't know how)
without torch,
oxygen, map.

So clearly is god beckoning, from the other end, telling you that you needn't look in there, forget it, the looking has been done for you and the answers have been piled up, compiled neatly and placed in a way that would inspire and please the Virgo in you. And there's more... there are paths already trodden a million times by a million travellers, tried and tested... Yet they all seem to fit badly, entirely lack in imagination, are uninspiring and just plain not for you. A morning like this can drive you up the wall with confusion; if you weren't stuck in this rut, you'd probably jump up and do something really crazy just to prove you can.

And then just like that, you lose interest in mornings like these.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Just a moment

I came across a photograph of you today. It wasn't in anything nearly as romantic as a shoebox or an old diary, no; I was rummaging through my external hard-drive, took and wrong turn, and found you standing there, outlined against a blue sky and a grey ocean, apparently caught in a rare candid moment, with that quizzical look in your eye and your hand fanned out against your pocket. You are just breaking into a smile and all the charm of your sunsign--all that almost childish charm that lets you get away with many, many slips--is all frozen there in that moment, leaping out, as if competing with the wave caught mid-climb behind you. I smiled back at you and remembered the day, the time, those seemingly perfect moments. Though so many things have changed, so much has gone, water under the bridge and passing clouds bringing rain, there was still just you there, as you were to me then and as I imagine you now. And I didn't want to walk into that moment and speak to you, ask you how you felt at that moment, tell you what followed and how, I didn't even want to hear your voice. I just wanted to sit down at the shore, beside you, let the waves continue their journey, taste the salt on my lips... For a few short seconds, I just wanted to be... in that moment, with you.


I sometimes wonder if it's true that we've lost our appreciation for photos what with the unlimited bombardment of our eyes with images that range from barely recognizable to brilliant, from the truly remarkable to the banal and random. Maybe when there were fewer photographs to be seen and when they had to necessarily have a physical impact, printed and touched in glossies and mattes, we appreciated them more. But that photo of you reminded me that we'll probably never lose our sense of the poetic, the sense of the beauty of anything our senses can perceive. That photos will always freeze those moments and force us to imagine the rest, force us to imagine the rest of the story in 3D, in time, in love, in the gaps our memories have, in nostalgia.

Sunday, February 19, 2012


That night, it hailed on you and me, unexpectedly. We were quite vulnerable to the rocks of ice that the sky was hurling with inexplicable wrath on us--you, completely unprotected, and I, carrying only a notebook and a folder, with not a tree nor a building anywhere in sight. Not that we could see much anyway: it was late in the night, in a little mountain town with its early sunsets and no streetlights. I pulled out my notebook and folder when the raining rocks got big enough for us to start discussing concussions, and when I offered it to you as protection for your head, you exclaimed, (quite ridiculously, considering the situation): "But your notes! They'll be drenched!"

And in the midst of wondering at the strange twists of life that had brought me, from the hot southern city where we don't even have a proper word for snow, to this place of hailstones as big as my fist; in the midst of paranoid yet oddly calm contemplations about the irony of dying in this dark little hillside with only you for company; in the midst of cursing myself for having forgotten both umbrella and torch; in the midst of yelping at the stones that were assaulting our necks now; in the midst of all this, I could only think of your remark and barely contain an urge to burst out laughing.  And remember why we'd been friends once.

Friday, November 18, 2011

flickers in the night

Tonight, the air is so clear, the half-moon turning from yellow to such dazzling light, you could close your eyes and dissolve into the thinness of it. Is this all there is, then? The nostalgia, the sadness of the sweetness of the past? The dreams were built up so much, it reflects in the eyes of everyone all around you, yet you know somewhere even deeper than your sense of self that they are false, that what lies inside is somehow more real, more full, more hollow than anything anybody could have ever dreamt up.

He taught her love--the passion and wild recklessness of it, of throwing yourself into it without thought of self or survival. He taught her the quietness of it, the easy joys, the unpretentious, unrepentant, un-self-conscious simplicity of it. She also learned of destruction, of pouring out and burning out, of building up just to tumble down; learned to despair, enjoy and destroy and be destroyed.

Sometimes, you long for those naive beliefs of childhood, those black-and-whites that were so comforting. It is easy to realize that there are those for whom those still exist, yet you can neither really envy them nor deride them, nor ever try to go back--we all belive what we do and there is no going back once you tread that fragile path to growing up. Yet, there is that wistfulness, always, of a fast-disappearing belief system, though you have no idea where it came from, leaving you with a well-ordered, well-reasoned one. Perhaps it will feel like it fits someday. 

She taught her of love, that it could last longer than the toss of fate, that it could mean something deeper than togetherness. She reminded her that the fact that everything that touches you changes you is not as trivial as it seems--and love, when it touches, changes you in ways unexpected. No wonder, then, that shaking it off is never so easy. It stays with your forever. Your only choice, then, is to wear it on yourself, like a tattoo, full of colour and meaning--or like a scar, fading and ignored.

You can never again believe that your sorrow means anything except what it is--a simple feeling that will affect nothing unless you choose to let it. It is only in fiction and perhaps the fictions of your imaginary life that there are grand moments to any emotion, rather than the gentle troughs and peaks of a single long wave of feeling. And you realize that happiness is not something anyone or anything can give you or take away, that it constantly flows from inside you, like life--if you let it. 

He showed her love--the unreason and the reason of it, the fleeting, wildly unordered nature of it. That it can multiply madly, gush forth like a storm and disappear like a rainbow, when you're still basking in its beauty, but not really looking at it. He showed her the discomfort of it, the fissures and the ruptures in it, that you can jump into it, immerse yourself in it, float and resurface, get lost, get found, taste the delicate hues of joy, pain, and a million other unnamed emotions and just be madly confused in its deliciousness. She let herself feel. Just feel. 

Is this all there is, then? Just you, typing in the middle of the night, to strangers who are friends and friends who are strangers? Just you, being and becoming more you every time you struggle to be you, not be you, hide you behind a mask, escape every mask to reveal you, fear the thought of being you and not being you? Is this all? Just you. Not that there was ever anyone else to begin with.

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Love and live

I've decided that it's absolutely ok and in fact not at all uncool to blog about post-breakup things. Especially since said breakup is now ancient history and pretty much most of the world (and especially me) has stopped giving a damn. Therefore, a note on being alone. Somebody once told me that the hardest part of a breakup is the end of an entity you became a part of, the end of an "us". You return to the state of being "me" again, and in the meanwhile, if you've given enough time and energy to the relationship, you've completely lost track of who that is or even how to be that person. Much madness ensues--the inability to be alone, rebound relationships, etc.

Looking back, this seems like a horrifying way for relationships to work. We live in a culture (that includes a frightening percentage of humanity) that prioritizes the collective over the individual--our ideas of democracy, fashion and even society itself. And love just happily skips along into the party. The popular perception of love seems to be a noble giving up of the ego, of immersing your self in something "greater"--as if greater necessarily need be greater in number and not just scope. I'm all for the idea of building something "greater", but it does seem dangerous to give up being something you are just to be part of something else. Rather, I would imagine love to be something that lets you be exactly who you are and embrace something or someone else in all their uncomfortable, wondrous reality. 

And let's face the hard facts--we are all ultimately alone, in body and mind. I'd hardly be the first to point out profoundly that everybody dies alone. Yes, the entire history of humankind, every power struggle and work of art somehow leads back to that fact. We may ignore it or try to erase it by building elaborate fantasies such as happily ever after, true love, and so forth, but there is no getting away from it, really. You are the only one who will ever be there, the only entity, sane or insane, that you will meet all your life. It's nice to have someone along for however long in the ride, but that's all it'll ever be--a little company.

Call me a cynic, but I'd rather face that and hold on to me. And still love and live.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011


What if you stood before an enchanting lake on a hot summer day, a cool, enticing lake, and yet don't step in? All you have to do is strip off your clothes (there's no one looking, and you don't care anyway) and plunge yourself into the delicious water and you know you will forget the harshness of the sun, the thirst of your skin, the dust that coats you. You can imagine the water enfolding you in its embrace and you know instinctively that you can trust that you will enjoy every minute of it. Yet, you stand at the water's edge, looking in, looking around, half-longing, yet holding back.

It's not that you're afraid. You know you can probably swim the depths of this lake. Well, you're not really sure, the water has frightened you in the past--always that fear of drowning. Yet you know that you need to try before you know for sure whether you can swim or not. The only way to confirm or disprove your own fears is by facing them. Yet that's not why you hesitate. Sometimes you enjoy facing those fears, there is a certain excitement to that sense of drowning, almost running out of breath, before you break the surface and remember to kick your feet and move your arms and fill your lungs with oxygen, eyes stinging with water, yet unable to close them to the light that proves that you're alive. No, a little fear of drowning could never dissaude you from the rewards of a swim on a summer day.

But the fact is that you would rather stand here and stare at the sparkling water. There is a hint of a quiet breeze rippling the surface of the lake on the otherwise quiet afternoon, but it doesn't touch you--only stillness all around. The sun is beating down and the grass is letting out that hot humid smell of summer green. Insects dance in a huge column in areas over the grass. And the water beckons. And somehow, this moment is enough. It's enough to know that the water is there without having to throw yourself into it. It's enough to imagine the depths of that pool, imagine being deep in its belly and look up to see the sun streaming in, oddly distorted and pretend you're a fish. It's enough to imagine all the pleasures of finally escaping the dreadful, sultry day and giving in to the beauty of the water. Somehow there is enjoyment in knowing that this is all the moment will be, that it will remain unfulfilled. Yes, this is enough, just this feeling of anticipation.

Not everything must reach its logical or desirable conclusion, must it?

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Hostel Mess Cheatcode

Perhaps it’s best to start with explanations. A lot of things in life might be more pleasant if an explanation preceded them instead of us gamboling through events like happy things that gambol (?) blindly and get really confused about why water’s wet, love is just not enough (no matter how much really quite awesome songs may claim otherwise), the chicken crossed the road, etc. Life might be a little more enjoyable if it were a little more like this post is going to be and a little less like trying to learn a game of cards you don’t know by observing a bunch of Bengalis playing (i.e., completely incomprehensible, and just when you feel like you’re maybe getting the hang of it, somebody wins and you realize the goal was the opposite of what you thought, and most of the time, you don’t get what people are saying). So. Explanations are in order. Two fact about me should do, I think.
Fact 1: I am lazy. Like really. Like it pisses people off kind of lazy. But as you shall soon see, laziness is not all it’s cracked up to be. It’s quite a lot of work. So, on to…
Fact 2: I tend to over-think things. This, combined with a slight tendency to geekiness and mild OCD of the pattern-finding variety, makes things interesting.
So the explanations are done. (But I now realize that the whole explanation thing is futile because explanations make less sense than the things they explain before the things they explain unfold. Wait, I think I might have said something profound. Let’s examine that… Ah, never mind, too lazy. So, moving on.)
I live in a hostel that’s built like a pyramid. No, its construction didn’t (exactly) involve slave labour and it’s not full of dead people and fabulous wealth (snort) so the pyramid thing refers to what you first thought it referred to, before I distracted you with irrelevant details–the shape. Each floor is slightly smaller than the one below it. I have no idea what the architectural significance of this is, but since I live in the second floor, this creates many, many puzzles and challenges for me. One of the challenges revealed to me that if I were a civilization all by myself, I’d be in what Douglas Adams calls the Survival stage, for the challenge is, “How do I get to the mess to eat?” This may seem like a trivial question. But this is where I ask you to turn your attention to Facts 1 and 2.
Living in the second floor means I expend a lot of energy climbing up and down stairs. And to have to do this for every meal and water refill creates unspeakable anguish for my lazy side. To reduce the monotony and make myself feel better, I decided to over-think things. Fun. So, there are many ways in which you can reach the mess from my room. Cross the corridor, take the stairs at the end, climb down two floors, exit. Cross half the corridor, take the stairs in the middle, cross the other half at the ground floor, exit. Take the stairs in front of my room, cross the corridor at the ground floor, exit. The last option might sound good because the stairs are right in front of me, but the fact is, this is out because it would involve crossing the whole of the ground floor, which, in the pyramid structure, has the longest corridor. So, the first option? Nope. Wrong again. It IS in fact the shortest route, but there are problems. The staircase at the end of each corridor (except on the ground floor) plays host to a lovely little thing called the common dustbin. This is generally a huge plastic drum, and is often filled with… well, let’s say the cats and flies love it. It’s smelly and quite effective in killing any appetite that dares to pass it without the answer to its impossible riddles and it also has to the power to send any satisfied appetite to go commit suicide. The ancient Egyptians, had they met Mr Dustbin, would not have bothered with pressurized acid and such to keep marauders out of their tombs.
It took me just two weeks to figure it out, and the funny looks I get from other, more unadventurous, weary dinner-time travellers were answered with looks of smug superiority. I had the keen intelligence, the courage, the perseverance to figure it out! All you have to do is:  Take the middle stairs, thus cleverly avoiding the dreaded Dustbin, cross the other half of the first floor corridor (which is still shorter than the ground floor’s, ha!), take the stairs at the end of the corridor, exit and reach your destination, thus achieving high score of sheer genius.
And then, you go eat mess food.
Sigh. Maybe all we do need is love :D

Friday, August 26, 2011


It is now down to the last hour of my life at 23. It’s been a funny year, brilliant, breathtaking (in happiness and in sorrow), fun and life-changing. I’ve loved the year but I don’t think I’d be able to survive another one like it. The one thing it’s not been is boring. Friends have come and gone faster than imaginable and ideas changed like lightning. Weight was lost and (unfortunately) regained And all the usual inconseqential things that we call life–dinners, breakfasts (yeah, there were quite a few of those, believe it or not), haircuts, heartaches, hobbies, deadlines, books, songs, poetry, papers, languages, roommates, dresses, parties, trips, weddings, breakups, diets, social networks, hugs, gossip, discoveries, rediscoveries, re-rediscoveries… lots and lots of lessons learned.

The chief lesson has been to never plan too far ahead, and for crying out loud, stop the crying out loud and whinining! And spend less time on Facebook. And party more. And talk to more people. And exercise more. And waste less time. And go see the world, there’s bound to be a lot more to it. And hold on to and HUG the people you love. And don’t change anything about your ice-cream consumption habits. But really, mostly, just to never, ever try to guess the turns and trends. So, 23, here’s looking at you, and 24, looking forward to you.

PS. No, I don’t feel like I’m growing old… Am I supposed to?

PPS. If every year of my life were an hour, then 24 would be the perfect year, my favourite time of the day!

Friday, July 08, 2011

And so... goes on. I come back to this place and look around, at what I created years ago, and filled, in my naivest and most un-self-conscious moments. What brought me back? An email alert for a comment from a stranger on a post I wrote ages ago--he calls me incredibly stupid, this person I don't know from a country I have never visited. My own coldness and lack of reaction to this surprises me. All I really feel is puzzlement, and curiosity. For a few seconds, I stare at the comment, wondering how I should react, what I should feel. Should I delete it? It's insulting and completely unnecessary addition to a space I consider my own. Yet, I cannot bring myself to hit the delete button. I re-read this post, one that seems to me to have been written in a different lifetime, by a different person. It is kind of stupid, I begin to tell myself and then I stop. This is who I was. I'm not going to judge myself, just because this person did so. This person who randomly comments on an old post in the blog of a person he doesn't know and cannot understand. This person who has taken the effort to actually type all that out, only to say something that makes no meaningful contribution to... well, anything. I visit his blog, and realize that even if I wanted to, I could't come up with a vicious retort on his post because it's almost like we're from different species and he's rambling on and on about things that simply don't interest me, the everyday minutiae of his average married (American?) life.

But life does go on. We grow up, we look back, and I, for one, read old comments from friends who are now strangers, strangers who are now friends, and random disturbing people who waltz into your life for short intense periods and disappear forever. We struggle with ordinary, everyday things and we celebrate, we cry, we discover music and we write blog posts. One day, maybe I'll read my own, now juvenile-seeming blog posts and be at a complete loss for things to say. One day, our past selves will be strangers to our present selves. All the pangs we feel for broken romances and broken friendships, the unexpected turns of life, the stomach-clawing excitements, the breath-stealing sorrows, will all just be distant memories and would make about as much sense to our future selves as the blog of this random stranger did to me.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011


Everything is metaphor. This fact was suggested to me in a course that was called (loosely) Post-structuralism in connection with language, but the more I think about it, the more it seems to apply to everything under the sun. Language, in whatever form, be it music, dance, or Tamil, is metaphor. But so is everything else we do. Advice is metaphor--my life was like this, so life is like this.

The past is also metaphor. It's built up of our ideas of ourselves, of sense experiences and our own memory, which is never too reliable anyway. The past is a memory of our own selves and our world-view. Everything we believe about the past is built up on our narrative, the grand story of our lives. The past is a metaphor that represents us as we perceive ourselves. When that metaphor is jarred by reality, it is a hard fact to reconcile with. But the metaphor is perhaps the most resilient creature in all of creation. It builds itself up again, till all is in order.


The opinions expressed herein are not necessarily those of my employer, not necessarily mine, and probably not necessary.