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.
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.


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


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
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


"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


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.

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


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.