Thursday, December 28, 2006

nerve endings

Tangled prepares for other trips. This time with the family. Four days without the internet.
What odds offered?

It is a sad truth that the T keeps attempting weaning herself from the internet and from the chat and other such empty-minded addictions. To her chagrin, she never manages very well. The addictions are noticeably less potent, but they haven't gone, by any means.
Four days without promises a much better chance to study the withdrawal.

In other news, the T has been:
- relearning her organic chemistry
- driving around town and getting lost in the wilderness that lies between Banashankari and Malleshwaram
- playing chaperone to sixteen-year-old again
- wishing for money
Yes. I want money. Poor people need not apply.

The holiday beckons. I go. See me next year. Or on the eve.
How long can I stay away? :)

shame

Can I cry now?

Thursday, December 21, 2006

feel...

...forgotten, I.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

altogether

"Who are you?" said the Bun.
Apparently Tangled hadn't been described very well.
Larger than you; and younger than you, the Bun had been told. Not very detailed.
Still, that's hardly an excuse.

assuage hunger.

There was a fog. All pervasive.


"What the fog!", said the boys. They said it at irregular intervals for at least five minutes. It stopped being funny after the first utterance. But when has that ever mattered with boys?


The first night, at dinner, Tangled knocked over her glass of water and inundated the table.
The second day, at breakfast, she jostled her glass and got water on her onion uthappam.
The second day, at lunch, she sloshed water all over the table while pouring it for the others.
The second day, at dinner, she tried to put salt in her soup. The lid and half the contents of the shaker fell in instead.
"At least it wasn't the water", said Wabby.
The third day, at breakfast, she jostled the table with her helmet and spilt the tea, the water and the coconut chutney.
"Don't y'all dare say anything", she said.



At every smoke-stop on the ride there, Tangled tripped over her own feet and almost landed on the highway.
She tripped over her own feet again in the underground Shiva temple.
"At least it wasn't the highway", said Wabby.



imbibe. so there.

"I want a picture of that cockerel", said Tangled. "Look at him, he's magnificent!"
"Did you know that a cock's testicles are below its beak?" said the Bun.


By the side of the road was a tree that was two trees.


"Oh, stop!" said Tangled.
She took pictures while the others honked at the echoes.
"Did you see that?" she asked breathlessly.
No one had.
"Never fear," said Tangled. "Pictures!"



prerogative. and again.

The Bun was worried about her hair. "Feel this part", she said.
"Is it Tangled?" asked the Crapper.
Chortle snort.

subterfuge.

"Watch out for the monkey poop on the balcony," said Tangled. "I stepped in it while photographing the sunrise."


"Aanai-kundi."
(hah, elephant's ass.
no, it's the elephant's asshole.
same thing.
err, not really.
well, same area.)
The rest, extrapolated.

pregnant with meaning.



Red Riding Hood returns.
"You won't be wanting the helmet, then?" said the Crapper.
"Probably, but I want something with a hood then", said Tangled.
"Oh, wait," she continued, "This has a hood already."
"Moron of the first order", said the Crapper.
"What?" said Tangled. "I can't hear a word you're saying."

Another rest stop.
"Parts of my body don't like me", said Tangled.
"Well, there's nothing we can do to make them like each other", said the Crapper.
"Oh, they like each other fine. It's me they don't like."
"TBisms", said the Crapper.


"I'm a late bloomer," said Tangled.
There was a moment of winking and blinking, and the Bun smiled all over her face.
"I'm not saying anything," said the Crapper.

"I confuse", said T.


The first day, the gang was to leave the bachelor terrace-pad at four in the a.m.
The three of them; the Bun, Tangled and the Crapper; retired to the room at half-past eleven.
The T and the Crapper then spent most of the night on the terrace talking. With some methi bread to mix things up a bit.
They slept at three. The Crapper was listening to Linkin Park.
"Umfwff, too loud, stop singing," mumbled T.
At three thirty the alarm went off. Tangled reached over and jolted the Crapper awake by jabbing him in the knee.
"Uhhh", he said.
"Shall we extend", she said.
"Half an hour", he said.
"Four o'clock", she said.
sleep.


number of times phrases related to bowel movements were shared: err.
so there were many. i didn't count.
would have needed more than the fingers on both hands.


The next morning the gang was to leave the hotel room to go to Hampi at seven.
"Wake us up at six for the plock," Tangled was told.
She woke up in darkness and realized it was half past four.
Sigh, she said, and wandered around the room. She sat down and wrote some really bad poetry before deciding to write letters instead.
"I write this sitting across thresholds", she wrote. "Thresholds of bathrooms in new hotels at half-past four in the morning while all others sleep."
She took a break to wake the others up.
"Half an hour," they mumbled. "Seven o'clock," they messaged.
She went out on the balcony and photographed the sunrise. And stepped in the monkey poop, but y'all know that part already.
"The story so far," she wrote.
When room service arrived at seven, she'd only gotten as far as Saturday morning.
"Letters fuel my rambling", she said.
They left Hospet for Hampi at ten.
"Told you so", said the Bun.




Another rest stop.
"Bleh bleh nonsense glah gluck cluck," said Tangled.
"What?" said everyone else.
"Nothing, never mind, it's just- I'm just-"
"You confuse?" smiled the Crapper.
"Huh." sniffed Tangled.


They flew under diamonds in velvet. Brought the tears to Tangled's eyes.
Then again, perhaps that was because of the fly which flew in.
Who can tell?



The Bun and Tangled were talking. Tangled did the Valleyspeak.
"Oh, stop talking like my cousin," said the Bun.
"Where's your cousin from?" asked Tangled.
"Philly", said the Bun.
"My cousin's from Atlanta, and technically she should have that Southern drawl, but she doesn't," said Tangled.
"But Atlanta's up north!" said the Bun.
"Er, no. Atlanta's in Georgia!", said Tangled vehemently. "It's a southern state! Full of rednecks and lynching of niggers! and I am going to shut up now."
"Oh I confused Atlanta with Alaska," said the Bun.
Tangled laughed. So did the Crapper.
"You spilt tea on your pants, and didn't even notice," said the Crapper.
"Half the self-confidence comes from nonchalance," said Tangled.
(All right. She only wishes she said it. What she actually said was, "I just pretended not to notice." See? The nonchalance line was much better.)
"You should change your nickname from Tangled to Spilt," said Wabby.


The Bun sat down at the table and shuddered, "Why do men like going around stinking of sweat?"
"Who?" said Wabby.
"That guy in there," said the Bun, pointing into the Coffee Day.
"You know," said Tangled, "Maybe it isn't that they like it. Maybe men just don't realize the extent of their own, er... unpleasant odours."
After a beat, two masculine arms were raised and two armpits discreetly sniffed.
sigh. boys. :)


"Have you seen---? Have you read---? Have you heard---?" said Tangled.
"Tchuh," said Tangled, "why do I even bother."



Tangled bought some Cadbury's Gems. She got four different colours.
"Look!", she said, "I've never gotten all four of different colours before!"
The Crapper got two blue Gems.
"See?" said Tangled, "they're always doubles."
"Maybe they're from Dublin," said the Crapper.
He turned to Wabby and added, "Your blog or mine?"
Huh. Too late.

pedantic.
How appropriate. :)

And now, one I didn't take.
(With apologies to the Crapper.
You take one hell of a picture, honey,
but I gave you
more than twenty four hours.
After that it's free-for-all.)


"Why, I've done such a lot of insanely funny stuff this trip", said Tangled. "I must write it out." Out came book and pen. Away flew book into the centre of the highway.
One for the road.

*sigh*
"You're being kidnapped", he'd said.
I wish I'd told him to do it and welcome.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

thankful for the excuse

Sometimes a tag is a nice way to get started after a slump. Is it an excuse? Assuredly.
I have to reveal five things people don't know about me. Hmmm. Haven't I done this already?

Five things.

1. I am irresistibly attracted to signs that say BOOK SALE UP TO 80% OFF and CHINA BAZAAR BUY ITEMS FOR RS. 100 ONLY and BARGAIN MART and CLEARANCE SALE and... er. You get the picture?

2. I love taking a day pass on the bus and wandering around town.

3. I hate being yelled at.

4. I hate twilight.

5. For therapy I clean my room.


Not exactly a happy camper, are we? Not till Saturday, anyhow. Then we shall see.

Oh, and NEW POEM.

Monday, December 11, 2006

stopped the writing

Ecstasy is all you need
Living in the big machine
Now
Oh, you're so vain
Now your world is way too fast
Nothing's real and nothing lasts
And I'm aware
I'm in love but you don't care

Turn your anger into lust
I'm still here but you don't trust at all
And I'll be waiting

Love and sex and loneliness
Take what's yours and leave the rest so I'll survive
God it's good to be alive

And I'm torn in pieces
I'm blind and waiting for
My heart is reeling
I'm blind and waiting for you

Still in love with all your sins
Where you stop and I'll begin
And I'll
I'll be waiting
Living like a house on fire
What you fear is your desire
It's hard to deal
I still love the way you feel

Now this angry little girl
Drowning in this petty world
And I'm
Who you run to
Swallow all your bitter pills
That's what makes you beautiful
You're all or not
I don't need what you ain't got

And I'm torn in pieces
I'm blind and waiting for
My heart is reeling
I'm blind and waiting for you
I'm still here and waiting for you
And I can't believe it's coming true
I'm blind and waiting for you

Goo Goo Dolls - Big Machine

Friday, December 8, 2006

waiting for kumar

.

all the dreams are dead, and the words won't come.
but friends are beautiful people.

Monday, December 4, 2006

worried about other people

And my life is one big performance.
I say the things that make the memorable moments; I do the things that make the poignant gestures. I've told you this before, haven't I? Yes, but then again, these words only settled in the head in this particular moment.
I am a performer. I take the cues and I play the parts. I am a million people in my own head, and some at a time outside. I am anything you want me to be, one by one, changeable; because I can be anything I want to be, anytime, anywhere, anyhow. I use words and smiles and laughs to make you think what you want to think and what I want you to think. And the reason it works is because I believe. At any instant, I believe, with heart and soul, in the part I'm playing. Every part. What else makes a good performance?

The point is this: at the end of the act, the belief is gone.
What will I do when it happens this time?

Sunday, December 3, 2006

girl, third part


On that road, with my eyes open for the first time, I noticed things I hadn't before. Women tend to walk through life selectively blinkered, I think; because never before had I actually seen men stare. Men whistling, ogling, leering, yes, all of those. But this matter-of-fact checking out? Not before.
Nearly every man who passed by did it - young, old; with friends, with girlfriend, with wife, with children, alone. It seemed so casual - a flicker of the eyes, no more; in the midst of conversations and silences, a quick inventory: face, breasts, legs, breasts; all right, done, let's move on.
It took me at least twenty minutes to realize it was happening, and I think one of the first conscious thoughts was, Exactly how blind have I been? The next thought was, And this is why they say all men are animals? And I found bubbling up in me an unholy desire to burst out laughing. Was that wrong?

My memories of the rest of the evening are marked by little moments lit up in fluorescent shop-front light.
I remember the way I stood in the beginning. Arrogance. I am going to lounge, and I am going to watch, and I have every right to do both. I remember thinking it was going to be easy.
I remember staring into the Bata store I was standing in front of, watching people go in and out, letting my mind drift until I abruptly realized I was turning myself off again. I remember how hard it was to remind myself to be there.
I remember the two people with the cameras.
I remember the boy in the blue shirt who stared back at me all the way down Brigade Road, and I remember how flustered he was each time he turned back to see me still staring at him.
I remember all the looks - startlement, curiosity, discomfort. I remember the man who returned for a second look.

I remember walking down the road so all of us could stand closer together. I remember ending up next to my sister. I remember not thinking about all the men staring at her exposed midriff. I remember the man who stopped, the one who got up right in her face, the one who made me leave my post on the rail and abandon my pretence of isolation and go stand by her side.

I remember walking down to Mota Royal Arcade. The fire at Pizza Corner. The man who jerked his elbow into each of the girls in front of me till my sister, in front of me, told him to "Hutt". I remember thinking, She's too young and reckless to be here.

I remember Mota Arcade.
Every moment of it.
Every man who stared. All the people who didn't give us a second glance. All the women who walked past, with girl friend and boyfriend and husband and family. They never saw us. I wondered if I would have. The one girl who stopped, took a letter, read it, and joined us. My sister. My niece. Me.
Anticlimax. Grand finale.
All the eyes.

Friday, December 1, 2006

dinner date

I cannot live with you,
It would be life
And life is over there
Behind the shelf


And slowly, with steps tentative and strangely unwilling, I open my head to the poetry.
When all of them love it, there must be something I'm missing.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

wo-man, part two

I turned back when it wanted still ten minutes to show time. I'd barely been walking fifteen minutes, but all the looks I was getting from strangers, and the thick sheaf of letters I still held in my hand were beginning to discourage me. As I turned around, I met the other girls, in clumps of twos and threes. We walked back the way we'd come, and in little disappointed voices each of us recounted the more hurtful dismissals.
But then, as we were almost at Brigade road, I caught the eye of two girls I'd given the letters to on my way out, and they nodded and smiled; and suddenly I felt as though the day would be worth it in the end.

By the time I got to Brigade road, I was alone again. I turned onto the left of the road automatically, and then walked down till I stood opposite Church Street. The sky was the twilight hue I hated above all others, and in the midst of pre-rush-hour traffic, I felt unreal and somehow not really there.
I crossed the road, and walked over to the railings. I spotted some of the others, standing in stiff statuesque postures, their chins and elbows and feet little agressive punctuations; and then I picked an empty spot at the railing, and I stood.


part one part three

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

wide-eyed waiting

See the animal in his cage that you built,
Are you sure what side you're on?
Better not look him too closely in the eye,
Are you sure what side of the glass you are on?
See the safety of the life you have built,
Everything where it belongs
Feel the hollowness inside of your heart,
And it's all...right where it belongs

What if all the world's inside of your head?
Just creations of your own
Your devils and your gods all the living and the dead
And you're really all alone
You can live in this illusion,
You can choose to believe.
You keep looking but you can't find the woods,
While you're hiding in the trees

What if everything around you,
Isn't quite as it seems?
What if all the world you used to know,
Is an elaborate dream?
And if you look at your reflection,
Is it all you want it to be?
What if you could look right through the cracks,
Would you find yourself...find yourself afraid to see?

Nine Inch Nails - Right Where It Belongs

Sunday, November 26, 2006

precious people

So this Saturday I was at NLS for Legala, their Lit-Cul fest.
Went Friday, too. Took part in three team events (I qualified for the finals of two of them, and ended up second to last in both. Sigh. Much resentment). Wrote creative writing five times. Three poems and two stories.
Met old friends and recent friends. Made new ones. Died of envy at talent and teams. Got invited to join two pot-pourri teams on the spur of the moment. Missed my mother’s school annual day presentation, for which I had written a poem for the fourth standard production and the outline for the ninth standard play. Ate food. Lots of food. Different kids of food. College fest food stalls are dangerous.
On Friday, I left the fest at eight in the evening. Got home at nine.
On Saturday, I left the fest at a quarter to seven in the evening. Got home at nine. Why? Because I had adventures on Saturday. Transport adventures. The only kind worth having.

I was supposed to have been at my mother's school in Koramangala at 5:45 in the evening, as per promises. But the What’s the Good Word finals (where I proved that, with a good (PERMANENT!!) partner and some practice, I could possibly be formidable competition) stretched up to six thirty, and so I didn’t get out of the campus till six forty-five.
The sun had set and there was a slim crescent moon hanging in the sky. I admired it for a few seconds and then headed out the gate. Spotted a girl up ahead. Female = relative safety, in my opinion.
I walk up to her and say, “Excuse me, are you going to town by any chance?”
“Yes,” she replies. “I’m just going to catch an auto.”
“May I walk with you?” I ask her. Indeed. The people have made me bold.

I walked down to Nagarbhavi in the company of the stranger on the road, and made friends. It’s positively a talent, now. At the Nagarbhavi circle, I took her leave. Then I boldly took the wrong road and walked 50 metres, until, a little unnerved at lack of traffic in general and buses in particular, I walked back to the main road after asking directions of helpful people at the nearest shiny petrol bunk.
I waited at the bus stand annoyed and disappointed and considerably rumpled in spirit. I waited for a bus to Banashankari, from where I could catch a bus to Koramangala. Discovered I’d get no direct buses to Banashankari, and would have to go to Vijayanagar instead. And so I waited for a Vijayanagar bus instead. None were forthcoming for the next half an hour, and so I gave it up for a bad idea and hopped on to a Majestic (from where I could catch a bus to Tippasandra (which is where I live)) bus instead.
(too many insteads. but in lieu sounded far too pretentious. just pretend it's a theme.)
The bus was of the kind where the first few seats are set facing backwards and into the side instead of facing forward. All seven places; the ones facing backwards and the ones facing sideways were occupied by men. If I’d had a fraction more energy, I would undoubtedly have asked them to vacate a ladies’ seat, but I was loath to spend the rest of the ride sitting rigid and bolt upright next to shady characters.
And so I stood, till a lady got off barely two stops down; and I took her seat with a gratefully murmured "Well, that was lucky." (And I mean murmured. I talk to myself on public transport as a general rule).
Took out the journal and waxed eloquent about pleasant events and the unpleasantless of the lack of partners. An elderly lady got on, and I, in the spirit of gratitude and goodwill, offered her my seat. She thanked me, but she was getting off at the next stop, she said.
At this point, I noticed the eyes of one of the men on the seats on the side staring at me. A man, forty-five or thereabouts. Big frog eyes and discomfiting leer. Alarm bells and scary sensations. “Ignore him”, I told myself. After a while, my discomfort got rather unbearable, and so, in an attempt to shame him into stopping (Yes, I'm an idiot, I know) I stared at him for a few seconds, hoping he’d drop his eyes, as the man at the bus stop had that morning.
And he says, "What, madam."
So I tell him, "Please look somewhere else", and then I take out my journal again and start writing. Do I need creepy guys staring at me in the middle of the night? No.
And then, he starts talking to me. Asking me what I'm writing. Peering over my shoulder. Asking me to take down his address.
“Are you taking my address? What madam?”
At this point, I was one step away from freaking out and losing my head entirely. I was in no condition to handle some evidently drunk sleazeball. So I tried to ignore him completely, and congratulated myself on almost succeeding completely; and then, the women (unhelpful; heartless; unconcerned) sitting next to me got off.
He’s going to come sit next to me, I thought. Oh God, Oh God, Oh God…
And I, being in no mood to handle some random guy trying anything because I was tired and had missed my mother's school function and had won nothing means nothing at the fests, decided to turn to perfect strangers for help.
I'd noticed a bunch of college students in the seats behind me when I'd gotten on the bus, and just at the last stop, one of the guys had given his seat up to a lady and had squeezed in next to his friend. They looked decidedly uncomfortable, and I thought they'd leap at a more convenient arrangement.
So I turn back to them and say, "Excuse me, would one of you guys mind sitting next to me, I'm a little scared of that creepy drunk guy in front." Naturally they find this highly amusing and start ribbing each other over which of them will sit in front with me. And then Mr. Creepy Man helps out, by leaning over and asking one of the girls sitting next to them, "Which country you are from, madam? Nepal? Singapore?"
One of the boys gives him a single incredulous look, and then he says, "I see what you mean. Tell you what, why don't you come and sit here, and the two of us will sit in front."
:) Yay.
So I sat next to the two girls, and, just to be sociable, I ask them, "So you guys are all from the same college?"
Turns out, yes. And guess which college they go to? NALSAR.
:)
So I told them I knew Vinaya. And we spent the next hour on the ride to Majestic talking about things. They're all first years who'd come to NLS for the parliamentary debate, and they regaled me with amusing anecdotes (many of which I needed explained) and I, in my turn, impressed them with my intimate knowledge of NALSAR politics. All in all a very pleasant ride.

And then we all got down at Majestic Bus Terminal, and it turned out the seven of them were headed in my direction. They wanted to take autos, and I think they would have offered me a spot, but I decided to take my tried and true public transport home rather than go out partying. They were headed to Stones, a pub in Indranagar. Practically next door, sigh.

I walked into the terminal smiling. I do that a lot lately. Every time mind dwells not on design, more sigh.
So I waited for a bus, the 314, which drops me practically at my doorstep. But none came, only a series of 138s and 139s. And I was exhausted and my feet hurt and I wanted my bed very badly.
So, I just took the next 139, which goes sort-of-near-home-but-not-quite.
Got on, and I sat next to this lady.
AND. Guess who she turns out to be. Go on, guess.
She turns out to be the same stranger who fed me chips on a bus ride a week ago.
(WHAT ARE THE ODDS :D)
I asked her if she remembered me. She hadn't recognized my face. I told her I'd recognize her anywhere. I have a fabulous memory for faces, but even so, that would probably be true after last night.
This time she gave me biscuits.

Sometimes the things that happen to me I think no one in their right minds would write into fiction because they're so unbelievable. And that's why real life is better, you two. Because it always surprises. Only in life do you see the truly unexpected. It's what makes life worthwhile.

And so I came home.

The end.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

besotted part 2

I have a new addiction now. It seems as though I cannot go without an addiction. Addiction to addictions, isn't that funny?
The latest is conversations. Suddenly I need to talk. All the time. And have people listen. Listen and talk and pick apart the things I'm saying. I want Conversations. So I come online every morning the instant I wake up and I log in to every messenger and I wait for one of six people. And one of those is you.

So, on Monday, my birthday, somebody goes, "May I ask you a favour? Don't talk to me for the next week."
I say, "Sure."
And it's been a day and a half, and I see that it's far too hard. There's no one to talk to, and I don't want to keep writing to strangers who come to the blog and then never reply. And no one's online; and the ones who are online can't talk because they're busy, and I should be busy too, only I don't want to be because I want to talk. My entire body is one big itch.

I've been asking about good psychiatrists.
Do you know any?

And in case you couldn't tell, this is one (1) number besotted chatterbox requesting company. Specifically, yours.
Or even letters. Letters would help.
Something to read from other people. Something for me. Stop by and say something? It means so much.

(crossposted)

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

perhaps i should shut the winamp down?

Fancy a big house
Some kids and a horse
I can not quite, but nearly
Guarantee, a divorce
I think that I love you
I think that I do
So go on, mister, make Miss me Mrs you.

Fancy a fast car
A bag full of loot
I can nearly guarantee
You'll end up with the boot

I love you, I love you, I love you; I do
I only make jokes to distract myself
From the truth, from the truth.

Zero 7 - Distractions

Monday, November 20, 2006

birthday

read me.

where it says "before".
and here, here, here.
i'll be back eventually.
i need some fixing in the mean time.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

fe-male, part one

One Sunday evening, I took two of my girls out so we could reclaim our streets.
Were you there?

It's been six days since that memorable evening. It took me that long to get around to writing about it. Sometimes things fill your head up so completely and so conflictingly, that you need to take time out just to get all your feelings in order. I came home Sunday night and sat in front of the computer for half an hour before I realized I wasn't going to be writing anything about it just then.

There were only the three of us that afternoon; my sister, my niece and I (16-18-21; 21 till Monday, anyway :) )
We walked down to Brigade road from Union Street, two long girls and their dumpy escort; step-walking "Ginger" on the footpath. We ate at McDonald's and slipped over to Pecos and then walked along to India Coffee /House half an hour early.
And my own long girl ate eggs while I had a coffee and thought of the three other times I'd been there before.

And one by one all the others came, and then followed the introductions and the instructions and the vegetable cutlets. We folded up testimonials from women who'd written in to the Blank Noise Project back in March. We spoke about why we were there. Everyone said the same things - "we felt we needed to be a part of this", they said. My sister made a little speech that showed how young she was, and how impressionable; while I sat thinking of the things that brought people together.

We went out half an hour before the intervention was to take place to try and spread the message around. We were to hand out those letters to women on the street; letters that began with incidents of sexual harassment in the street actually experienced - leering, pinching, stroking, exposing; and which ended: "If you know what I'm talking about, come join us on the railing on Brigade Road between five thirty and six thirty today."

Just giving out those letters was a revelation. I walked along the street, uncomfortably conscious of exposed calves and emphasized bosom. I walked along with thirty folded letters in my hands, looking for women to give them to. I never imagined how hard it would be. So many women simply put a hand out and said "No"; every Caucasian I asked did it, and I was torn between shame and anger.
A pretty girl walked along with her head down as men around her gave second glances, and I tried to give her a letter. I knew she wouldn't take one, though; from the beginning I'd known it; and all I could think was, You're one of the people this is for.

I discovered a way to make people take the letters instead of dismissing them as flyers and petitions.
I don't care if you take this or not, I told them silently. I'm just wandering along this road slightly inappropriately dressed; and I'm not going to stand here waiting to see if you read what I'm giving you. This isn't a request for money. This is just a letter I'm going to slip into your hand on my way to somewhere more important I have to be.
I told them all this in my head, and then I gave them each a letter as I passed them; casually handed it to them as I walked on by. "Just take a look at this", I'd say as I handed it to them, and then I'd be gone, on my way.
I don't know how many of those letters were read and how many ended up on the footpath.

avoiding people

i hurt myself today
to see if i still feel
i focus on the pain
the only thing that's real
the needle tears a hole
the old familiar sting
try to kill it all away
but i remember everything

what have i become?
my sweetest friend
everyone i know
goes away in the end
you could have it all
my empire of dirt
i will let you down
i will make you hurt

i wear my crown of shit
on my liar's chair
full of broken thoughts
i cannot repair
beneath the stain of time
the feeling disappears
you are someone else
i am still right here

if i could start again
a million miles away
i would keep myself
i would find a way

Nine Inch Nails - Hurt

Friday, November 17, 2006

morning with sections

my friend assures me its all or nothing
i am not worried - i am not overly concerned
my friend implores me, for one time only,
make an exception - i am not worried

wrap her up in a package of lies
send her off to a coconut island
i am not worried - i am not overly concerned
with the status of my emotions
oh, she says, we're changing
but we're always changing

it does not bother me to say this isn't love
because if you don't want to talk about it then it isn't love
and i guess i'm going to have to live with that
but, i'm sure there's something in a shade of grey
or something in between
and i can always change my name if that's what you mean

my friend assures me its all or nothing but i am
not really worried - i am not overly concerned
you try to tell yourself the things you try, tell yourself to make
yourself forget
to make your self forget
i am not worried
if its love she said, then we're gonna have to think about the
consequences
she can't stop shaking and i can't stop touching her and
this time
when kindness falls like rain
it washes her away and anna begins to change her mind
these seconds when i'm shaking leave me shuddering
for days she says
and i'm not ready for this sort of thing

but i'm not gonna break
and i'm not going to worry about it anymore
i'm not gonna bend. and i’m not gonna break and
i'm not gonna worry about it anymore
it seems like i should stay as long as this is love
but its not all that easy so maybe i should just
snap her up in a butterfly net-
pin her down on a photograph album
i am not worried
because i've done this sort of thing before
but then i start to think about the consequences
and i don’t get no sleep in a quiet room and
this time
when kindness falls like rain
it washes me away and anna begins change my mind
and every time she sneezes i believe its love
and oh lord, i’m not ready for this sort of thing

she's talking in her sleep - it's keeping me awake
and anna begins to toss and turn
and every word is nonsense but i understand and
oh lord. i'm not ready for this sort of thing
her kindness bangs a gong
it's moving me along and anna begins to fade away
it's chasing me away
and she disappears, and oh lord
i’m not ready for this sort of thing

Counting Crows - Anna begins

Sunday, November 12, 2006

go on with the story about the wedding cake

(but first...)

Saturday. Does anyone else have days this full?

I needed to go to college to pay some fees. Which were, incidentally, very far overdue. Because I'd spent the morning on the computer as usual, I left late. Which meant I had to take public transport. I did the usual - one autorickshaw, three buses. One day-pass.
Spent two hours running up and down from the department to bank to administration block; and then back and all over again.
Phone calls, letters and some pleading. Mission accomplished :)

Then, on to a play reading. In Jayanagar. Which meant Banashankari bus stand. Two buses, an elephant on the road, blisters on my feet.
Abstract play, absurd play. The discovery of many common connections. And people who do things they dream of. Theatre as a career. It isn't for me, but I want a dream to follow.

More buses, and some messaging. Invitations out to coffee. Boys are fun. :)

Ignorant, ignorant people in electronic shops. "addictaphone?" *sigh* Morons.

Starvation, waiting, and cheesy garlic bread. One at a table for four.

More buses. Half my life, I say. Half my life.

Dead bird. Oh, after so long!
(Fine, I'm morbid. That's what I am. But the bird? Was dead. I didn't do nothing. However, incidentally, the minute after I took the photograph, I got peed on by another crow. Now that's poetic justice. Very disgusting poetic justice, but I believe in it, so I sha'n't complain)

Dictaphone. Finally. What's Voice Activated Recording? Nobody knows. Teach your staff, please, people.
I'm such a sadist.

Bookshops; two. Books; four.
Mental mathematics and snobbery. Why must I always show off in front of people who seem to be well-read? For shame.

Unexpected calls and plans to go bowling.
Strolled along to Pecos while I waited. Alas, no corners. Wrote letters to myself in the midst of too many staring men for far too long. Suddenly, luckily, a corner downstairs; one already inhabited by a pleasant faced young man reading a nice hefty book.
(more snobbery in the offing. such a poseur! :).

Saw a senior; from school and from other things. Uncomfortable undivided attention, and hasty escape to aforementioned reading person. A T.S. Eliot play, and a chat with a complete stranger. Distractions, and cancellations. Other friends with mutual friends. Strange bearded man, and some seriously unwanted attention.
Apparently, the instincts are doing okay.

And to top off a wonderful day was a little old lady sitting next to me on the bus who gave me chips and cashews and juice.

What a jolly, jolly day. Once in a way, one needs something like this to realize just how wonderful people can be. And how not.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

still hoping

Three days ago, I decided to write about my feelings on eve-teasing. Roadside-Romeoing. Whatever one wishes to call it.
I usually avoid talking about sensitive topics. The biggest problem I have with coming up with an opinion I'm happy with is that I never know exactly what is being discussed. It's easy having an opinion on a book, but not on abstracts that every person defines differently. Everything's relative. Which is why most arguments with me end with the other person either exasperated or in hysterics. I spend more time defining the boundaries of the discussion than in airing my own opinions. :)
But then I've also noticed that your opinions always place you on one side of a divide, with no leeway, only degrees. Perhaps that is why.
I abhor labels above most things.

I am, God save me, a woman. And every woman does have a hundred stories, each one different, all of them the same.
I have been stared at in the streets. I have had songs sung at me. I have had men say, "Hey, baby" as I walk past them. I have had strange men on buses lean into my body. But I have never, in all that time, felt as though my dignity was threatened. My body, yes, but not my dignity. When I was fifteen, a man on a cycle slapped my backside (ass, bum, sit-me-down) as he rode by. I ran after him screaming, threw my lunch basket at his head, and generally made a hell of a fuss. I still bring up that incident whenever conversations flag.
The point is, as long as I know how to react, what to think, what response makes sense, I can handle most things. You expect. You protect. You project a sense of confidence and strength, just so people know better than to mess with you. You walk in constant fear, and hence in constant preparedness. You know where you begin and where you end, and which people in your world are allowed where. Military alert with poor ammunition; but always you have your honour.

In fact, when I think about it seriously, of all the things that have happened to me, there is only one incident I find it hard to think about; only one incident that still fills me with rage and shame a sense of powerlessness. Of impotence.
It happened while I was driving my car. Women drivers, right? I've heard all the lines.
I know how to handle a man staring in the window from his car. Or from his motorcycle. Singing songs at me. Honking for a month because I'm holding him up at an empty signal, only because the light happens to be red. Scornful looks when the car stalls in the middle of the road.
All these things, you expect.

But once I crossed a signal ahead of a motorcyclist, and so brought along all the vehicles behind me, effectively cutting him off.

And the man spat at me through my open window.



I cannot say that now without feeling shame. At that instant of shock and horror, I truly didn't know how to react. I told my father, who was sitting beside me, "That man just spat at me", and he said, "What??" and turned back to look at the guy. And then he looked at me, and then he looked out through the windshield, and I? I just kept on driving.
If I'd told my father "That man just touched my breast." or "That man just put his hand on my thigh." or "That man just pinched my ass." he would have known how to react. There is only one thing to be done with men who touch women against their will, isn't there? Beat them up, the assholes.
A friend of mine doesn't believe in beating people up. "I cannot accept mob rule, even in a so-called good cause", he said. I wish I'd told him: Well, when you violate my body and my dignity, you effectively give me carte blanche to do the same to you. With as many people as I want to. It may be wrong, but it sure as hell feels right.

The key to good warfare is the element of surprise, right? Well you surprised the hell out of me, asshole. The next time, and who knows if there will be a next time, I'll be sure to stop the car, get out, and then beat your brains out on the pavement. Yes, I will.

And now, suddenly, I know what this post is really about.
People all over blogland talk about the power of catharsis. You need to start writing about it, they say. I never needed catharsis for stuff like this, but I find myself thinking, If I knew more about the things people do, would it not help me be more alert, more aware, more prepared?
The answer is yes. Talk about what happened to you so that others know, not only that they are not alone (oh trite, oh cliché) but also that these things happen.

I helped a charming old gentleman cross the road yesterday. I gave him my arm till he reached his destination and talked to him while in the back of my mind ran a litany on lecherous old gentlemen on the streets.
He asked me my name, and I said, "I'm not comfortable giving my name to strangers."
"After all, you never know", I said.
He laughed, and agreed, and thanked me for my help.
"What a charming gentleman", I told myself. "If I hadn't known any better, I would have told him my name. How depressing."
"Alas, the wicked world", I said. "Alas, little naïve me."

Now, whom should I thank for that thought?

Wednesday, November 8, 2006

took me far too long

"ask any woman and she'll have a hundred stories"

here and here.

Why did I wait so long? Perhaps this is why.
I will try and write about them all. How many can I remember?
Watch this space.

ol, ul, li

Time for list making. What do I admire in other people?

Dedication Culture Courage Tolerance Veracity
Confidence Versatility Loyalty Empathy Tact
Faith Adaptability Honesty Sympathy Capability
Patience Conviction Passion Charisma Efficiency
Intelligence Talent Gumption Eloquence Determination
Knowledge Diligence Whimsy Silence Wisdom

All that I have not?


I want to make this a tag.
Write out as many things as you can that you admire in others, whether you have them or no
.
I tag the following:
Sowmya; when you find the time
Rahul; would you, please?
Erimentha; *your* list I would see
The One; oh, the temptation!

four for now, more later.

Tuesday, November 7, 2006

quotations

"Look, do you see that poem?" she said suddenly, pointing.
"Where?" Jane and Diana stared, as if expecting to see Runic rhymes on the birch trees.
"There . . . down in the brook . . . that old green, mossy log with the water flowing over it in those smooth ripples that look as if they'd been combed, and that single shaft of sunshine falling right athwart it, far down into the pool. Oh, it's the most beautiful poem I ever saw."
"I should rather call it a picture," said Jane. "A poem is lines and verses."
"Oh dear me, no." Anne shook her head with its fluffy wild cherry coronal positively. "The lines and verses are only the outward garments of the poem and are no more really it than your ruffles and flounces are you, Jane. The real poem is the soul within them . . . and that beautiful bit is the soul of an unwritten poem. It is not every day one sees a soul . . . even of a poem."

I can't stand people not liking me. Is it vanity or insecurity?

Monday, November 6, 2006

epiphanies

Seems my mind has been doing a little thinking all by her own sweet self. Having adventures without sunscreen, mosquito repellent or clean underwear. Tripping over tree branches and falling down rabbit holes.


Sometimes I write things I like. Sometimes I write things I'm proud of. Sometimes I write things I would quote. A few days ago I discovered a secret I'd been keeping.
Apparently I want to be a writer.
Who knew?

I want it all - the misery and the hard work and the constant fear of rejection and the constant rejection, too. I want to be published. I want to write stories. I don't want to be a columnist or a journalist or an essayist or anything respectable. I want to be (oh, dare I say it) a novelist. I want to write fiction. Stories. I don't care about the news and I don't care about the world, and I want to write stories. And I want to write tall tales about real people I know and real things that happened. Fiction and creative non-fiction.
I don't care if the things I write are terrible literature and will be forgotten the day after anyone reads them. I want to write stories that are fun and entertaining. I want to be the candyfloss at the fair.
There.

That's what I want. What do I think? I think there is so much better writing out there that I cannot even compare, and that it will be years before I go anywhere; but for the very first time in my life, I am not going to let the fear of being mediocre and forgettable and unworthy stop me before I start.

And I thought I didn't want to tread the beaten path?

Friday, November 3, 2006

hiatus

Very many things to say. Very many.
Life has been full and fun and frenzied and mad and merry and morbid. Too many things.
I need to take a little break before I overdose. And before I become an overdose. Will anyone tell me if I talk too much?

I'll leave y'all with some pictures in the meantime. Yes?








I want to find this kid and give her this photograph.










And I'm back at the first one. I want to be able to put them together.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

past due dates

How strange that I feel no shame in the thought of grovelling to the man in charge to get something done. How strange that the thought of flattery and lies and self-abasement no longer turn my stomach. Is it just something I do now?

Monday, October 30, 2006

doubting self

A friend asked me "What does one do when one loses in spite of trying, because one is simply not good enough?"
I read that sentence twice over and then sent him an arbitrary generic feel-good reply, and then sat to mull over the realization that I've never realized I'm not good enough simply because I've never bothered to try at all.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

And I spent too long...

...waiting for blogger beta

Here are the old pages:
blog
poetry
not poetry

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

third tag

I've been tagged by another stranger. But then again, we are all family here in blogland.

So. Six things I love about my city

1. Wandering the streets with camera and journal. Café adventures.
2. Second-hand bookstores on Church street. Bookstores with chairs :)
3. Music in little pubs. Wiser youngsters to take me there.
4. Rs. 25 day pass. And the people to visit.
5. Night drives with the sibling on the Ring Road. And ice cream after.
6. Running into someone I know every time I step out of the house. And anywhere.

And I tag nobody. Nobody responds to my tags, anyhow.

All right, I tag Sow. There, now.


And for some fun.
That big fat dog might well be me :)

Friday, October 20, 2006

patience

There is an exasperation that comes with the people who belong to us.
It comes as though expected, like hair in clogged drains and banana peels in the street. It slips in slyly and chokes the little happy moments tripping blithely through your day.
Telephone laughs. Loud voices. Easy tears. Easy fears. Silences. Noises. Nagging. Caring. Sentences repeated. Sentences not heard. Mistakes. Assumptions. Conclusions. Things people do over and over and over till they're part of their personality. Things people say over and over and over till one can predict exactly the words that are going to come out of their mouth. All the lies people tell themselves, and the lies they tell you. All the lies you tell.
Knowing the people who live in your world means you know when and how they pretend; and you know when you do, too. And it is in these moments when things are rubbed the wrong way.
Living with someone gives you time to pick your peeves. Living with someone slams you with the details.

The exasperation will get under your skin. It will grab you and make you snap and scream and sulk and scowl, and then it will hold a mirror up to your face so you can see just what a pleasant person you are.
Oh, but I need some patience.

Monday, October 16, 2006

bright lights

There is something about empty auditoriums (or auditoria. yes, i actually checked) at the end of a performance, especially the ones that you've been a part of. When all attendant families are done meeting and greeting; when all the congratulation and hugging and screaming is complete. When costumes are removed and make-up is taken off. When everyone is making plans about the rest of the night - dinner and parties and sleep. When chatter is muted and everyone's gone.
And the hall sits empty and yellow and familiar.

There's no one around but you and the empty stage, from which all trace of the evening has removed except for those inevitable little things everyone overlooks; a flower, a handkerchief, a ribbon.

And you sit in the first row of the audience and you look at where you were; and you remember where you've been.
You think about old performances: the things you did wrong and the things you did right. The time you sat, frozen, for almost the entire performance till your foot went to sleep and your fingers went numb and people told you they noticed you more than the play just because you stayed still so well. The times your school won Best Play at inter-school fests and how you were there both times. The time the stage monitors for a dance didn't work and you counted everyone through the entire performance. The time you wore new stockings for a dance and tore them on a nail in the ladies' room just before the performance. All the time you spent editing music and dialogue. All the time spent organizing. All the time spent arguing.
You think of greenrooms and make-up and losing things. Borrowed pins and face wash. Last minute panic. Little quarrels. Mixed instructions and many confusions. Rushing around backstage just because it makes you feel important. Screw-ups and fix-ups. The friends you made and the ones you lost. Emergencies and handling them. The thrill of responsibility. The practices and the hard work and all the stress and tension you've been through; all for that one perfect moment that you'll never remember anything of but the emotion, because those lights are shining in your eyes and blinding you and you can't see a thing, but you don't care because you're in that moment and nothing else matters at all.
The butterflies before every performance, and the relief after. That ecstatic sense of a job well done. The after-parties. That's what you sit there and think of.
That's what you remember.

Sometimes the best part of a performance is the afterward.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

past presents

Did you know? You can send yourself an instant message in the year 2020. Be part of the Yahoo! Time Capsule.

Almost it intrigues me.
Yea, even so. After the first half hour of laughing at the incredible people who would spend time out of today for tomorrow when yesterday's still beating them around the head, I began to see the benefits. Indeed, and I saw the incredible potential of a time capsule to effectively counter immense boredom brought on by work you don't want to do and people you don't want to see and all the things and people who just aren't around.
An email time capsule that you can not edit to make sound more impressive is a fabulous way to remember your young and (all right, just more) impressionable self.
It's essentially the point of any time capsule:
To see if you've done the things you wanted to.
To see if you're the person you wanted to be.
To see if you're different in any way. In any way that's good. Or bad. Either way, actually. (I guess those last three sentence fragments were rather unnecessary.)
Fourteen years is a long time...
Here is my tentative composition, then.


Hello this is you fourteen years ago. I'm really bored. Hope you're having a better time than I am. Hahahaha we're both having this time at the same time, because I'm from the past, see?? So I'm having a time at the time of writing this letter and you're having a time at the time of reading this letter, see? Hahahahah! It's one of those fun time-thingies whatchamacallits.
There's a calvin strip about this somewhere. In fact, I think I'll go read some comics. Or some peoples' blogs. I'll make you a list so you'll know what you used to read. In fact I'll make you a whole bunch of lists. That's going to be so much fun for you! Books, music, movies, food, blog-reads! You'll have a week of entertainment!! You lucky, lucky girl!!!
And then you can see if you write better now, or, (oh, I love this part) now!
See you. Or rather, be you.
Hahaha, I totally crack myself up.

I must be the only person I can write to as a total dweeb and not worry of judgement. But then again, I'll only know for sure in 2020.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

timidity and old scores

I want to share a story. It's a long story, and I give you my apologies for that. But if you care at all, please read it. It matters to me what you think.

Once upon a time I met a guy. Once upon a time we set up a charming online flirtation. Once upon a time was my first time, and I went a little overboard. Once upon a time someone introduced me to blogging, and chatting, and the charm of esoteria. Once upon a time I was almost in love.

And then I found something someone had written about it.
Yes? Go look. That second part is about me.

What I did after I read this, I'm not proud of. I could not believe there existed in this world people who, if faced with the facts would not turn around and at least admit their validity.
(Such naïveté. I cannot smile about it yet.)

I sent him a letter.
Then, not content to leave well enough alone, I bombarded him with emails. Explain to me, I'd pleaded. Explain to me how someone so nice can have a friend as horrible as you. Explain to me how someone who sent me virtual hugs and kisses and had said "I love you" within ten minutes of our first chat could accuse me, me, of being the desperate one in the relationship. Explain how you can make blanketr statements about someone you don't know. Explain how you can take such liberties with something as precious to a girl as her reputation.
How stupid was I?
I'd wanted him to eat those words, I'd wanted that slander out of his mind. I'd wanted no one to think of me things that were based on nothing. Dislike me as much as you want, I'd always think. Just do it on my own merit.
I didn't think of it in those terms, naturally. I didn't have the self confidence to put it in those terms either. It's only now that I see that that (so many thats!) was what I was trying to say.
How stupid was I? How cowardly? How timid?
The man had given me enough fodder to rip apart his morals, his ethics and his mental ability. At every step he insulted me, and then defended his thoughts by saying I shouldn't care what a stranger thought of me. He'd defended his decision not to give me advice by saying he knew nothing about me; and then he'd said he was entitled to his opinions about me and there was nothing I could do about it. He'd shown himself, with every subsequent letter, to be crude and prejudiced and contradictory and stubborn. Blanket generalizations and unfounded accusations.

And I tried to make excuses for him because I'd liked his friend. The stupidity of a susceptible heart.

I was young and inexperienced and clumsy, but that does not excuse my behaviour. What I realized after five months is that even less does it excuse his.
I was so unwilling to blame the common factor that I wrote him letters as well. These were the kind of letters that make me think "Glenn Close!" Even then I thought it.
There is no excuse for the way I continually abashed myself, put every bit of the blame on my own head. I must have done something to give him the wrong impression. Because I knew nothing, it's what I assumed. For someone who sees sexual harassment in every lone man around, I missed just plain harassment when it was staring me in the face.
Because I liked the boy. Because he was the first person who'd ever thought I was pretty. Who'd spent an hour in a conversation with me about nothing. He was someone who'd made me feel special, and attractive, and fun, and to think it was all a lie was breaking my heart. See, I never wanted a relationship. I never asked for a relationship. I was not the one who started this thing.

This has sat heavy on my head for far too long, and I never did anything about it. What stopped me, every time, was the thought that I owed the boy. I owed him. For things he showed me. And taught me. And brought to my life. Every time I wrote a post, I'd think, If not for him.

What I know now is that nothing is worth this.

Consider the score settled, love.
Take this, my gratitude.
I wish you joy of your friends. I have mine.


Author's note: As always, after a spewing of bile, I began to doubt the statements I'd made. But then again, this pain is mine; and all I've stated here is the truth. Perhaps I'll remove this sometime. But I did not think it fair that I could get no answers from direct contact, and that's why this is here. When all I met were evasions and sentences that said nothing at all. I will leave this for that.
For the clarity, and the explanations. For the closure.
This might be a temporary post.
I hope it is.


Update: Edited. All I've left are the links. To publicly posted material. Nothing more. I couldn't follow through, and I couldn't make it stay. I haven't asked permission. I haven't given warning. I have not covered my bases. The pain I'd cause is not worth the settling of old scores. Do you blame someone because you were too inexperienced and naïve to know any better? Or do you leave well enough alone when everything is done even though the memory rankles as much today as it did five months ago?
*sigh* I await further developments.
Update again: *sigh*, ow.

Sunday, October 8, 2006

old things

So it's been six months since I got here. And a few days more. It seems, at the risk of sounding trite, rather incredible. I've been happy here. What I'm missing are the new people. No one stops by any more, alas. But then, I think I post too often. Absence and the heart fonder and all that. The key is, to take a hiatus, and leave something fun to see.
Here are my pet posts, picked. Backwards.

social calls centennial passing bogeyman been a while the brothers singh more ventures ventures out of my face post forum too much input cobblestones! heavy in my name ol spirit sing theory :) crochet matrimonial café again running jam pictures king café mice late fool


There are twenty nine of them. If you run the mouse over, you get pretty green special effects. I promise I'll reply to every new comment I get. Really.
Someone tell me when I get boring.

social calls

* (yes, go down and find it)

Now, a few days ago, I had the pleasure of walking around my current part of town to visit old friends and neighbours*. It was invitation time, and personal delivery was felt to be the most thoughtful way to go about it. Hence, come sunset, witness me trudging along towards old haunts.

I visited five residences in two hours, in itself a feat, and then proceeded to do my duty in each one. I explained in detail the current situation of my studies, my mother's work, my sister's practice for the recital, the trials of arranging an arangetram; the traffic, the roads, the weather.
I then proceeded to partake of the food on offer (at every house, o' the horror. tea, biscuits, juice, bananas**) depending on whether my audience
a. possessed a son in foreign lands (two families)
b. contained elderly members (three families)
c. rejoiced in new arrivals (one family - and that kid is adorable)
d. had just had spats with neighbours over street dogs (one family) or
e. had just returned from holiday (one family).
I also smilingly denied the first reaction to the invitation at every single place of visit.***

Then I discovered, to the accompaniment of indescribable feelings, that I was, in fact, enjoying it all. And hence found myself face to face with a startling and disturbing thought. I am not my mother. I am my ancestors!
bugrit.

* Ah, more remniscence of Jo March.
P.S. This particular footnote wasn't really necessary; I just wanted a new meme to adopt (Plus it's a nice alternative to those parentheses. Also, it has shades of Terry, and you know that's all I need.**)
** Well, some of you know; ekcetera, ekcetera, bugrit.***
*** And here's where you return to the singly asterisked sentence. viz, the title.

* Damn. Necessary, this one. See, once upon a time, we lived in a particular locality (for four years), then moved elsewhere (for three), and then moved back within walking distance of the first (three years ago). Which naturally explains why I hadn't seen any of my erstwhile neighbours in six years.
** That was at my music teachers'. Two smart, funny, energetic cricket-loving delightful old ladies in a little house. More people like that, please.
*** "Oh, you're getting married, ah? Never told us! ahahahaha." (phe.)

Wednesday, October 4, 2006

comic interlude

It seems to be one of those little rules of this wonderful thing called life, that a day (or a week, or a month) of grand epiphanies and solemn thought be followed by such moments that will leave you shaking your head ruefully for aeons.
Last night I misplaced my phone.
This happens on a fairly regular basis, because I have four bags I cart around depending on the situation, with the phone actually in the current bag for preference. And when I'm at home, a whole new set of locations enters the equation - the tops of the television, the computer monitor and the washing machine, any place in any of the three bookshelves, the sinks in the bathrooms, any of our four beds, my cupboard, my mother's cupboard, my father's cupboard, the balcony, and anywhere on the floor I might have dropped it.
The usual practice when I've misplaced my phone is to call it. That sets off the loud and insistent ringing and every member of the family currently in the house is roped into the rescue efforts. The average is two calls before it is found, and I was, until recently, justifiably proud that we'd got the system down to such a fine art.

Last night was different. My phone had been on low battery for a few hours before it went AWOL; and when I called it, instead of the reassuring sound of the ring tone I'd been saddled with by Hutch (completely against my will), I heard instead a poorly recorded automated message telling me the phone I was calling had been switched off. Panic ensued in short order.
I systematically turned the entire house upside down, all the while whimpering "my phone" in a pathetic little voice, aware that there were far more important matters in the world needing attention. After about an hour of concerted effort, we'd found numerous items previously given up for lost (isn't that always the case?) including my mother's spectacles, assorted stationery, and a coat hanger (don't ask). We went through every room in the house, some of them twice, but to no avail.
I went to bed desolate and disconsolate and phoneless.

This morning, my mother found my phone. In the freezer.
The joy of life.

Saturday, September 30, 2006

in the family

I cannot imagine a single civilization that does not honour its dead. That's something about humans, surely? That we recognize not just our own mortality, but also the mortality of others. That's probably where religion comes from; the knowledge that we will all die; that we all will die.

Yesterday I watched my father and his siblings bid farewell to their father; and watched my grandmother reassess her idea of herself as a woman, rearranging her thoughts to accomodate the idea of herself as a widow. Here was a woman who, almost singlehandedly, raised four children; who turned out, every one, into successful, happy adults. A grandmother with an open mind and an enormous heart. A grandmother who would take English lessons from even such a capricious teacher as a ten year old me; who would, uncomplainingly, satisfy every whim of five demanding grandchildren. A grandmother who would think nothing of cooking omelettes for her grandchildren if they wanted them.
And there she was, rearranging her mind to accommodate the idea that she was now a widow. I stood behind her and watched her hold on the iron railing of the window into the room where the ceremony was taking place, and I held her hand and wished I could do more.
This morning she is in the kitchen cooking breakfast.

There is not a woman in my family who does not deserve respect. Aunts who have handled demanding and thankless in-laws, scraped and scrounged to make ends meet, worked for eight years to reach a PhD, refused to go on their honeymoon so they could finish their MSc. Grandmothers who will, everyday, teach you that there is a reason to be glad that genetics mean you might just turn out to be half as wonderful as they are someday. If, before I die, I can look back and say I lived with a fraction of the dignity these women have invested their lives with, I will be content. Every cliché about the strength of women is an understatement.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

centennial

I just finished reading this book.
If you haven't read it yet, what I've written below may spoil it for you. Not by much, but it might.

I had a dream one night that led, over many months, to a sad hotch-potch little story that you could, if you really wanted to, read here. I wouldn't advise it, but I had to have it said. I did think about it. I did try. I got nowhere, but I tried. I was so reluctant to talk about what I'd dreamed that I did not address the issue even here, letting it end, instead, hanging. Happy. Safe.
I didn't feel right talking about something of which I had no knowledge.
What right had I?

And yet, I know the fear. As a woman, I live with that fear every day. I don't know if all women do this. I know I do. Every time I am out walking by myself. Every time I'm carrying bags, so my hands aren't free. Every time I smell drink on the breath of the driver of the auto I am in. Every time I find I am alone, anywhere, with a man I don't know beside me. Every sense is suddenly heightened, every thought is about possibilities. Every cell is afraid.
See, I'm not stupid. I don't drink, I don't smoke, I don't do drugs. I don't party, I don't stay out late, I don't hang out with strangers. (much). When I'm alone, I'm alert. When I walk out at night, or late, I walk with an umbrella in my hand; the cord wrapped around my wrist; as a weapon. When I'm on a public bus, I stand with my elbows out; I sit with my arms wrapped around my body; as weapons, as protection. I try to draw as little attention to myself as a female as possible.
But not always.
Not always.

These are my scariest nightmares. I have dreamed of a day when I'm not as careful, when I let down my guard, when I'm vulnerable; when I suddenly become a victim.
My mother believes that I am too naïve, too trusting, too gullible; she fears for me all the time. I know she worries about me; when I'm alone, out late, at a party, at a pub. She worries, but she never imagines it. I do. I know that there are too many. I know how easy it is, how common.
Until today, I always felt that I had no right to imagine it because it had never happened to me. I had no right to imagine it because it was something that could not be imagined. I read about hundreds of women who had been raped, by people they knew, by people they trusted, by strangers; and all I could think was that trying to write fiction about it would belittle their pain.
Now I will attempt it again. I don't promise it will be better; I don't promise it will be good. I just want to be able to imagine the horror of a violation of my own body.
It's my body. I believe I have the right.

Five months. A hundred posts. Have I ever said anything worthwhile?

Monday, September 25, 2006

far too many


I found myself at Bangalore Central with my sister this evening. I had to meet a guy about a thing, and this was the spot he'd chosen. Hence, naturally, I'd dragged the child along as chaperon. Now, Sunday evening at a mall is possibly one of the worst ideas a person can have. We hadn't been there ten minutes before I'd saturated both eyes and ears, stubbed my toes, and developed a highly unpleasant edge to my voice. Four escalators later, I was following my sister in her search of Wai Wai noodles and snapping at every second word out of her mouth. We followed that with a discovery that she'd picked shrimp instead of vegetarian, and a colourful pain-filled trip back down to the lobby. I wonder if humans are supposed to be so easily mesmerised by bright shiny lights. It's probably the idea behind advertising. And festivals. And fireworks. And a host of others i am too tired to imagine, but which will probably slip into my mind when least expected and wanted. The way of the world.
So, after the short, yet painful mall-crawling, we finally got what we'd gone for; and I drove home to television therapy and a two hour long nap. Now all I have to look forward is an entire 24-hour day of work I am in no mood or state to begin.

I just need to get this bitter taste out of my mouth.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

anonymous passing

The most important things are the hardest things to say. They are the things you get ashamed of, because words diminish them - words shrink things that seem limitless when they were in your head to no more than living size when they're brought out. But it's more than that, isn't it? The most important things lie too close to wherever your seccret heart is buried, like landmarks to a treasure your enemies would love to steal away. And you may make revelations that cost you dearly only to have people look at you in a funny way, not understanding what you've said at all, or why you thought it was so important that you almost cried while you were saying it. That's the worst, I think. When the secret stays locked within not for want of a teller but for want of an understanding ear.
from The Body, Different Seasons; Stephen King


So, after Pratchett, I went back to King today. I don't exactly know why.
Perhaps it was because my grandfather died three days ago and I realized that here was someone related to me directly by blood whom I'd never seen in my life, whom I would never see, and for whom I could not find it in myself to grieve. Perhaps it is the impending design review on Tuesday and the fear attendant. Perhaps it was the waiting for phone calls.

There is something choking about the fear of disappointing that never seems to lessen with time. The fear of doing less than you are capable of, purely because you do not have it in you to get your act together. The fear that you have wasted an entire day with Different Seasons and washing the keyboard and other pleasant time-filling activities; when you have a review on Tuesday for a design that hasn't yet been approved, with the added responsibility of wasting four hours of your day on Monday getting the studio ready because you were too pussy-whipped to say you wouldn't.
The fear that guilt is as easy as blame. The fear that everything is your fault.

I need some help getting through this. Song suggestions, anyone?


But, in happier news:

Dear Mensan,

We wish to acknowledge receipt of your application form towards life membership. We shall be adding your email address to the official e-group of mensa india (bangalore). We shall keep you informed regarding your membership card.

Thank you,
Best Regards,
Administrator
for mensa india (bangalore)

*sigh* Life is so sly. And I still need those songs.