7

(N)otes from Above the Ground

Bathing at midnight on a night like this
When the cat lies curled up in the quilt
The fog that enters all but the mind
Myriad musings trapped in time
And life that has upset itself over a rhyme.

3

(M)elody Moods

Haunting tunes of old Hindi music. Poetry set to melodies that mingle with countless emotions in one’s head. Some tragic, some too real to ignore. Yearning for those absent. Waiting for life to begin.

And then there’s the overwhelming indescribable feeling…Sadness? Love? Nostalgia? Who knows.

Memories float in the air, mixed with images of the times to come. The intangible. The unknown.

Songs bring forth thoughts, all but mundane. The playlist, as if by design, reflecting the highs and lows of one’s emotional trajectory through life.

And soon enough its all over…the feeling, the train of thought, the acute sense of the past, present and future.

All that remains is the tune, reminding one of nothing more than music itself. And with that one rests, knowing it shall all happen again.

They say it about love, but its just as true for melodies.

If music gets you to it, music will get you through it.

2

The (L)imitless Light of Life

The light shines into the act of life for only the briefest moment-perhaps only a matter of seconds. Once it is gone and one has failed to grasp its offered revelation, there is no second chance. One may have to live the rest of one’s life in hopeless depths of loneliness and remorse. In that twilight world, one can no longer look forward to anything. All that such a person holds in his hands is the withered corpse of what should have been.

– ‘The Wind-up Bird Chronicle’ by Haruki Murakami

As much as I love this book, I can’t help but disagree with this passage, even if it is a poignant reminder of fleeting moments and squandered opportunities.

I think the light that shines into our lives is limited only by our notions of what is possible. Yesterday, a gentleman shared the story of a woman who was diagnosed with a tumor of the spine which was going to render her paralysed from the waist down. What may have left most people shattered made this woman react with enough strength to face her reality head-on. Doctors had informed her of the gradual onset of paralysis and she spent the intervening time preparing for her life ahead in practical terms. After a few years her young daughter was also diagnosed as having the same condition.  And they found a way to lead fulfilled lives on their terms.

There are countless stories of people not being limited by their circumstances. And yet, more often than not happiness is equated with requiring a certain set of attributes that fit into earmarked boxes. These include models of success, physical beauty, mental acumen, all defined by the external world.

If only we could save ourselves a whole lot of heartburn and be reminded each day of one simple fact: Happiness is simply a celebration of the limitless light we hold inside.

Easier said than done, but worth fighting with ourselves for, no?

4

Twisted (K)aleidoscope

Eating fruit yogurt (pineapple flavour, if you must know) and listening to INXS is supposed to help me generate ideas for my new piece. In between the will it, won’t it game, I consider the convenience of writing my thoughts (random as they always are) in the sequence they come to me. Let all who read on be forewarned: This is an experiment.

If one could sort life like a music playlist, things would be just fine. That i can get the late Michael Hutchence to start the show, have Kurt Cobain and Roger Waters follow, is the exercise of one of the best kind of personal choice.

Incidentally, the Pink Floyd song ‘Coming back to life’ reminds me of the time a friend and I wanted to hear the song so bad that we were ready to leave a trying-to-be-a-party at another friend’s home and go sit in the car and hear it (the only option available at the time).

That day also happened to be the time when one witnessed brilliance from close quarters…opening of a wine bottle with a screw driver as the cork screw could not be located. The cork fell into the bottle after being pushed this way and that and as expected, didn’t enhance the taste of the ‘warm’ (it had been worked at for a long while) wine. Someone floated the sacrilegious suggestion of putting some ice in the tall wine glasses. Rest assured, things didn’t go as far that.

From wine glasses to another kind. What is the most difficult thing to find without your spectacles?
Well, your spectacles.

For reasons unknown, I just remembered this restaurant in Delhi (lets not name it), that had created two seating areas demarcated as ‘smoking and non-alcoholic’ and ‘non-smoking and alcoholic’. Asthmatic non-alcoholics could not have been happy.

Have you ever wondered how marketing managers of cigarette companies live with themselves? For several years now they have probably been taking inspiration from the film ‘Thankyou For Smoking’ (some people will tell you I really sell this film). Three words for you : go get it.

Come to think of it, there are quite a few things I sell to people around me: contact lenses, bananas as breakfast, taking notes to keep from sleeping, carrying a book to read everywhere, etc.

Perhaps after reading this piece people will also see the benefits of blogging. How else can you get away with something like the above.

Needless to say, this stream of randomness could flow on forever.
I must practice restraint and build impenetrable obstacles in its path.
Au revoir dear reader.

Rest assured there are better days ahead. Amen.

2

Weekend (J)amboree

The weekend whiff is special. It’s glorious. It’s all that it’s made out to be and more. There is hope, deliberation and the feeling that something new (and potentially exciting) is waiting in the wings. It could be the play you want to see and almost miss and then end up watching from the second row. Or your car stereo that you declare dead on arrival, suddenly coming to life.

And mingled with all that’s sweet and pure is the stench of the not-so-far-away monday morning. Bad traffic to start the day with and a string of (hyphen) days rather than (hyphen) ends to look forward to. I wonder if weekdays are getting a raw deal. More than half the world was born on a weekday and surely someone was rejoicing. But for every happy daddy in the waiting room, there is probably a doctor cursing the baby that ate his lunch time, on the nothing-to-cheer-about-weekday.

Saturday then is a godsend, Sunday is huh-what-where’d-it-go day and the remaining famous five are what novelists would not write about. Like all precious things, we arrange safe boxes and lockers for weekends-only activities…the weekend book, the weekend drive, the weekend comedy, the weekend jive.

Sometimes (strictly sometimes) it helps to give weekdays a chance. Pancakes for dinner on a Thursday, high heels and makeup on a Tuesday or embarrassing dance moves on a Wednesday.

The motto then: loathe the activity, not the day. Boycott boredom, embrace weekday stardom

And more often that not, spray on that weekend perfume on what promises to be the worst weekday. If smelling is believing, then a Monday as an aspiring Saturday is a good start.

4

Cleaning Up My (H)ead, One Room At a Time

There are very few things about interior arrangements that I take seriously. But one that I religiously believe in is that your living space (whether office desk or bedroom) should be free of clutter. Because things piling up around you somehow begin to create unmanageable piles of nothings in your head. So every now and then I have a de-cluttering attack and today seemed like a good day to suffer from it.

There I was among a pile of things that had begun to live together without disturbance. Today I was going to disturb this house of the rising junk. Newpaper clippings that were four years old. ID cards that carried passport pictures of someone who looked like me.

Diving into the piles of things (many of which beg the question: What was I thinking when I kept them so long), I found some things I had forgotten about.

The more than 16 cards I got on my 16th birthday, from people, some of whom (okay most of whom) I have no connection with at present.

The belated birthday card hand drawn for ‘Dear Mumma’ (Man oh Man I could draw and colour with perfection).

A polaroid picture of mom and me having coconut water at the beach in Bombay . The camera we had wasn’t working and we had no pictures of that trip (which was our first to the city). So going all out and doing the touristy thing we thought one picture would suffice to sum up our trip. Now it hangs beside a chidhood picture where mom and I are looking heavenwards (actually at a lizard on the wall) and dad clicked.

Guess what else I found and have enjoyed ‘reading’ the past few minutes. Slam books (remember those?!). For the uninitiated, these were snippets of useless things we wrote about ourselves for the benefit of our friends. I found some prize-winning things in them. For instance, in “Lines for me” a friend had written “Hazel eyed idiot”, another thought I was “a waste of good protoplasm”. That stands out among the humdrum “You’re sweet and generous and a great friend”. Blah Blah Blah.

I noted that very few of the friends have actually become what they fantasized about as a career back then (Or atleast thought fashionable enough to write in a teenage tell-all diary).

Elsewhere, in an ‘Autographs book’ one had made spaces for everyone to write notes to yours truly. So pages were reserved for Grandma, Dad, Mom, Brother etc. The space reserved for younger brother has an arrow pointing to his name and states in my handwriting “You’re a fool”. Now that all those years of screaming and hitting are over, one can just smile at memories of us being enemy number one to each other.

The de-clutter my space expedition was certainly worth the toil. Now I’m waiting for the positive effects of the same on my mind. If only things worked as plainly with respect to the latter. Things your better judgement tells you to discard often stay rooted and things of utmost importance are lost somewhere behind the piles of everyday life.

As my eyes scan the perfection that is my room, I know there’s hope for the mind. And there’s no sleeve-rolling expedition required. Just a recognition of the perils of singing junkyard blues in one’s head.

2

Watch your Filthy Mouth. You’re on (G)od’s Twitter Feed

The one thing people will not say about me is ‘She’s deeply religious’.

That is not to say I’m an atheist. I like to believe there is someone, I’m not sure who, listening when I’m grateful or confused or just want something real bad. Perhaps the Mustang prayer hasn’t materialised because that someone also heard Rolling Stones saying ”You can’t always get what you want”.

My conversations with God happen to be in English, unless I’m chanting out of a scripture. I assume that the listener is multi-lingual and my prayers are not lost in translation.

The concept of one God makes sense to me. I have bowed my head and knelt before Christ in many a church. I have visited a Dargah or Masjid and felt one with the Almighty. I have been to certain Hindu temples and felt nothing.

The one thing I’m always thankful for is that I was never told what to do when it came to my relationship with God. I was free to find my way there. Or not.

And I found my way there. I don’t fast and don’t always know which dates the significant religious festivals fall on. But sometimes I’ve stood in front of a deity in a crowded hall and felt more at peace than if I were sitting under a tree up in the Himalayas.

Once (only once till date) I shut my eyes and closed off the noise around me, (I am absolutely certain it wasn’t a nap) while sitting straight and crossed legged on my bed. I think I was supposed to be studying, but may have been praying for a bomb-scare-at-school sort of miracle. It was a strange feeling to come back from wherever I had travelled in my head and have the noise slowly creep in again. A few minutes later my father came into the room and said my grandfather had passed away. No relation to anything really, but that was my only tryst with meditation, albeit unwittingly.

I find yagyas very peaceful. I don’t know if it’s the chanting or the smoke or the act of doing swaha. When we were kids, birthdays always started with a yagya in the morning. It laid the foundation for the excitement that was difficult to contain. One always felt good and righteous starting out this way. Now there are no yagyas but a visit to the temple is often on the cards.

Then there was the time I visited the ISKCON temple in Brooklyn, New York, what with it being Janmashtmi and all. Actually it was a friend’s idea (she is very religious). So we chanted Hare Rama Hare Krishna (lead by a man in accented Hindi). While I was trying to connect with the deity, my view was blocked by numerous phone cameras. It felt like intrusion. I could understand wanting to capture the Lord in all his glory, but at the same time it felt like saving an image in your mind should have been enough. Sure its not a jpeg but oh my god how on earth will you put it on Facebook?

I have also clicked away in places of worship, but I can only do that if I’m not there to pray. I can’t manage praying and clicking at the same place. “Thankyou god for all that you have done for me, keep my loved one’s safe and healthy oh and yeah, can you strike your best pose please. Its important”.

I wasn’t playing photographer but I couldn’t help doing other things after my share of the conversation was over. Like wondering about the percentage of people drawn to Krishna thanks to the Beatles. Or passing a smirk or two at the recreation of Mathura, with Barbie in a saree representing Radha. And looking at others and asking no one in particular whether these people led their lives with as much sincerity as they seemed to be praying with.

I wasn’t up in arms when Shahrukh Khan suggested he took a leak in a church in the film from so long ago. Or when a certain actress walked into a Gurdwara in a skirt. And I didn’t say Hawwww in my head while watching David Duchovny dream up a blowjob sequence with a nun in a church. (I can’t think of any possible temple desecration examples.)

But I do feel like someone’s watching me make mistakes, do a good deed or do laundry (and it’s not just the Government).

I have a feeling the special person up above takes a bathroom or snack break during the laundry parts.

5

(F)lashback ’07: The Night of The Fog

On a balmy weekend in June nearly seven years ago, I found this film The Fog while surfing channels. It is supposed to be scary so I watched in eagerness. I got to it after it had been on for about half an hour so it took me a while to understand who or what was going to spook me. Of course they made it easy by putting the name of the scare-element in the title.

So basically the Fog is following people around and killing them. And I was sitting alone in my living room, trying my best to imagine that the Fog was going to get me too. It didn’t happen. I mean how unpredictable are car breakdowns or phone lines going dead or people (very stupid ones) going out into the dark, menacing night with a lantern. You will get killed.

And there is no forgiving the unpalatability of actually seeing a ghost in a horror film. Why do they assume that people with bad make-up can pass off as ghosts? Who actually decides that this is what ghosts must look like? Is there a council out there that lays down guidelines on appropriate ghost look and behaviour?

In real life people usually get scared of things they sense but don’t actually see. So when I was following the trio in the Blair Witch Project, I knew anything could happen and I was excited. Well yes it’s a jungle and there are going to be animal sounds and weird shapes in the dark. I didn’t get scared out of my wits but at least they weren’t showing me women in white or men in black.

I guess it is mostly a case of to each her own ghost. I remember getting spooked by the T-Rex dinosaur in Jurassic Park when I saw the film as a kid. It was raining that night and I could swear I saw that slimy thing outside my bedroom window. Then there were the late night visits to the boarding school bathroom, made spookily-special by rustling trees and howling winds and the knowledge that like every other Convent yours was built on a graveyard too.

That was ages ago. Now there aren’t any imaginary beings outside my window or monsters under my bed. I have to try real hard to let well-intentioned horror flicks scare me. Perhaps the time has come to send a message across to those who care: Spirits of the world unite and spook me baby one more time.

2

(E)nchanting Escapade

Spaces on a map, with crooked lines for streets

Are places that dwell in the hearts of men,

Becoming a part of the whole as they move away

But not without memories left lingering long after.

 

Countless times the streets are drawn,

By hands that have felt the air

Drawn for those who must taste the dust,

And make the journey to this love.

 

Inexplicable it shall always be

To the unfortunate who live in oblivion

Never for them shall streets of a town conjure up

Feelings of ownership and longing.

 

As life makes the journey to destinations unknown

Through routes where all else may depart and deceive,

The spaces on maps will enter one’s heart

And bring alive everlasting love.