I was lost,
when I found you.
my searching eyes
met your silent form
when you appeared
from between winding
streets and towering houses.
i had to stay. longer.
looking at you, unabashed.
taking in every detail,
every ray of light that touched you,
passed my eyes, absorbed.
I couldn’t move away,
now that I knew you.
and where I’d find you.
you’re not an image in my head
you’re the canvas on which
everything will be painted upon.
we don’t belong to anyone or anywhere
we just passed one another,
and stalled passing by.
an unending sojourn.
I smell pickles.
I smell tadka. It’s 8am.
I hear the water gush down pipelines
It has just stopped raining.
The incredible – for a loss of words-
View outside my window
Is a lush green garden bursting with flowers
I can’t name.
I hear kids quarreling at the top
Of their voices.
I can already imagine what the parents will
Saturdays are Sundays here
So everyone is at home.
Either planning a visit to relative’s
Or perhaps a temple they’ve been meaning to go to.
While some are thinking whether they should
Manage the meals with the vegetables turning black in the fridge or perhaps buy a crate
Of fresh eggs or maybe some chicken or buff.
Maybe it’s a good day for some curry-rice.
Perhaps take the kids to the zoo which is
A stone’s throw away from our neighborhood.
And yes, get them those pastries from hot breads.
Maybe Patan darbar if time permits?
Or should we settle for a nice time
At home? The kids look unmanageable today.
Perhaps let them watch Shin-chan (or whatever it is kids watch in Nepal) and eat chips for a change.
Before we forget we should call the grandparents.
Is it sad that it’s become a chore.
But they will insist on visiting and quite honestly everyone just wants to sleep in today.
Did I just say we?
But I’m just a girl in a new city
That has begun to tell it’s stories to me.
Making me believe I could be in them too.
Oh I should go get some milk
We don’t have a refrigerator
So we buy it fresh from the shop.
And maybe some vegetables too.
I hear the parents consoling the kids
In a foreign tongue. And they’ve succeeded.
Perhaps they will visit the granny living
At their uncle’s in Khokana, after all.
And perhaps I’ll make chicken today.
Even though I planned to read all
Day with a cup of tea. And in the evening,
Walk around Boudha, in disbelief.
I’m here, after all.
will i feel better if
this room could turn into
an aquarium with corals?
would it be better if the
sun spared my window
just for today?
is it okay if i can
sleep in my jeans
and not turn off the lights?
do you listen to movie OST’s
playing in the background
imagining endless storylines?
do you wish you lived
in a hill-station with conifers
poking you in your balcony?
do you drink in stained mugs
or cups with mismatched
saucers with hairline cracks?
will it be okay if I ask
you to walk with me to
nowhere in particular?
because somewhere in my
mind I think if you leave
this time, I’ll lose you as
my best friend forever.
i wish i could tell you
this instead of sending silly
but there is nothing more
i hold dear than finding
your hipster messages telling
me to rule the world
and there is nothing better
than seeing your smug smile
every time I feel lost.
just promise that beneath
the Italian sky, you’ll
remember to laugh at
everything that happens
good, bad, mad, rad.
I hope I cleared any doubts about this being a post about Valentine’s Day. I’m trying really hard not to look down upon the celebrations as best I can. I’ve not sent cheeky messages to friends who’ve changed their display pictures into pouting selfies; I’ve not bitten off the heads of the few who came to talk to me about Valentine’s nor did I reply bitterly to anyone who thought it would be a good idea to wish me. So, I’ve behaved pretty well, now, haven’t I? Moving on.
For those of you who don’t know how seriously I take Instagram – I should warn you that the way I fall in love with certain posts that introduce me to a whole new Universe almost every week – can seem quite weird to you. Of the three hundred odd people whose accounts I’ve subscribed to, there are a few that have added pages to my life by giving me tiny bursts of inspiration. It could be the quotes they share or a certain picture they took while travelling – a work in progress – a memory – portraits of people – views I’d never have seen if I hadn’t followed them – experiences that inspire me to go the extra mile. I know this is a generic list but one must find pleasure within their means.
Dayanita Singh is one such person. Photography as art. Subtlety and originality. A curator of memories she is. Her posts capture the essence of her travels and encounters with people and places. Sometimes they speak of the art that she’s making and sometimes about the musician on a bus. Through her I met my love : Vikram Seth.
I had bought A Suitable Boy with great interest in a book fair from one of those second-hand stores – it was one of the early-prints of the book – its white jacked tattered and pages yellowing. My Mother wondered how I’d ever get to finishing the book – it being thicker than her arm – as she paid for it. It’s stayed on my shelf ever since because I believe that every book has its time and I never force myself to read – anything. That was my first encounter with Seth and now suddenly, after two months I see him again on Singh’s post – its a quote, I thought, before realizing its in verse.
I smiled at you because I thought that you Were someone else; you smiled back; and there grew Between two strangers in a library Something that seems like love; but you loved me (If that’s the word) because you thought that I Was other than I was. And by and by We found we’d been mistaken all the while From that first glance, that first mistaken smile.
And that’s it. I dropped what I was doing and began searching for where I could get more of this. Like a cat lapping up milk. I tracked the book down and then a larger collection of poems until I had almost five of his poetry books in my hands within a weak. And I devoured it – in silent passion. I did’t note verses down or speak about it to anyone because I wanted it all for myself. I’d sit hour after hour in my sanctuary – reading about love, about places afar, sculpture, anguish, resignation, sleep, kinship – and a myriad of other things. I like how simple Seth is. The images that form in my head as I read line after line – are clear and resonate with feelings of my own. I didn’t stop at poetry – I wanted to hear the voice that spoke in his head. And once I found his voice – speaking to me about his impulsiveness and his process of making anything – art or novella – I fell. You can almost here a certain tone of self-importance but at the same time he flashes a humble smile and his fragile hands move in the air painting something from his mind that he’s trying very hard for us to understand.
I am yet to read A Suitable Boy, Two Lives and An Equal Music (All of which I’ve bought and kept in my shelf for the right time) but when I do read them I will write about it because something tells me I will love it. Also, I hope I read these books before he releases A Suitable Girl (whenever that is).
Since November – time’s just swished passed by me. One day I was excited about moving to Pune and the next day – I was to continue here in Chennai. You dream things, sew them in a fabric with minute details leaving space for the things to come. And sometimes you don’t get to complete it, just yet. So you fold it and keep it in a trunk for another time, perhaps and pick up a new piece. Its been some time since then and many good-bad-crazy things have happened.
I’ve begun reading again, writing bits of poetry, sketching in odd corners of journals, walking to places I’ve never had time to give a second look, stalking beautiful buildings with gardens and things like that – things I’d lost touch with. And sometimes that messes your head up. I went back to college for the viva and got to get back to the good times with the girls. Its interesting how we change – within a couple of months. Some looked different but were the same; some looked the same but were a changed person. Towards some I felt the same warmth and towards some – I just began to see them in a new light. I spent an entire week in Bengaluru – soaking up the winter sun, binge-watching horror movies with my cousins, riding under the night sky with the winter breeze blowing against us and making plans that never quite materialized. And just when I thought I was having a great week-off, things happened that I can’t quite elaborate upon. Things like these really show you who you are and where you stand. Unnerve you. Tear you enough for you to breakdown behind trees and sit on steps before thresholds wondering what to do next now that you don’t want to go inside. It passed. I understood things and learned that I needed to accept some realities.
The most beautiful things happened, too. I’ve begun reading like I used to before but the books are different. Galadriel’s chants have been replaced by Abeer Hoque’s poetry, dragon-riders no more reside on my shelves – there are letters of love exchanged by an artist and a poet sitting atop Jane Austen’s finest. More Indian authors than fantasy-fiction. More depth, more tears, more black and white photos of things of the past, more feeling, more originality, more questioning, more understanding, little vanity, more secrets than messages and well, more insight. A lot more and yet, a lot less.
(I’m listening to Whitney’s No Woman and have discovered these new bands called Oh Wonder ; Hibou; Foxes in Fiction and Low, as I write. Yes, that’s a lot of distraction, I know but its music, come on.)
I’ve made correspondence with some delightful people. Friends from my childhood, friends from college who I never got a chance to know better and a friend with a mind so beautiful that I want to pique it tirelessly. Their stories, my stories, our stories and everything else around us have kept me pleasantly busy. I’ve come to realize that there are really people who love things I love and see them in a way that tells stories that others can’t hear. People who see the way I do, even deeper, I believe. How I’d wish to get lost with them and go to the places we only talk about. Collecting antiques, savoring moments spent walking by beautiful street- scapes, gazing at old-houses endlessly – just being. Its wonderful to hear similar stories from a mind that’s different from everyone else and yet so familiar. When you think a little differently from others around you it so happens that you either feel a tad bit lost or try to be someone who mixes with the crowd. Either ways, you’re missing out on being yourself. But when you meet someone whom you could tell what you think knowing they’d understand – you’re liberated in a way. You’re being yourself. Alas, time makes sure I don’t pester that mind too much.
Of course, I’ve been narcissistic here. My city suffered deep blows this entire past month. From standing in queues, penniless, to being blow away by a cyclone and losing a gem of a Leader. All said and done, the city is beginning to frown upon Decembers because of all the ghastly surprises it brings with it year after year. But then the clock never stops and we still stand in queues and stock up on candles and instant-noodles at the slightest spotting of dark clouds. We move as does the year.
Hopefully, in my next post I’ll share with you some poetry I’ve under-lined (I used a pencil so don’t frown at me) in my new books and a more interesting read. Christmas looks promising and so does New Year (Family-friends are throwing a bash at their place – a home I love because its got certain spaces that I can’t stop talking about). And there is the Birthday on the first Saturday of the year (is that somehow supposed to make it more cheerful? Or is this just a sly reminder to all you, readers?)
Hope you’re all doing well, so far. Give 2016 a chance – there’s still a week left. Great things can happen, yeah? Happy Holidays!
Warning : Reading this may upset people I know personally and who may have said things that I quote so please be kind and use discretion. I love you all, anyway.
I know people, like my best-friend from school, P who did his engineering while I did Architecture – he got a job like everyone else while I still did Architecture because its a longer course (and is still not over – for those who think I’m chilling in Chennai). He just knows he wants to work for the forces. He left his corporate job and is preparing for SSB. I recently (read, July) had the opportunity to act in a Short Play (Short + Sweet, Chennai, 2016 ) and this was, by chance – because I went against my usual habit of ignoring messages and actually replied to a friend who was the director of the play. Okay, coming to the point, I got a chance to meet other actors, writers and directors. To us, the lay-folk who only enjoy cinema and read gossip blurbs or the Times of India – actors just happen to be and earn big bucks and splurge it on controversies that we can use as ice-breakers at work. But the truth is, getting a job as an actor for a somebody is really tough in a country where every third person wants to be one (Okay, you knew this). I think you can become a politician, more easily, if you’re erudite and tactical enough. SO – I met all these people who just KNOW that they want to be an actor – regardless of where they are right now – they’ve left jobs, homes and families for this. Every text, every expression, every meeting – they only talk about their passion and I’m left aghast. Like, ‘sapne mein aaya kya tere?” (did it occur to you in a dream?). It probably did.
Such crystal dreams don’t occur to me. I’m usually in morbid situations in dreams- running around with people I may/may not know in strange set-ups that may/may not exist.
Every month – I have a new ambition. I get influenced by movies, books, people, magazine articles and of course, social media. Its not easy. They say – trust in the magic of beginnings. I do – but then it fizzles out. And something new takes it place. Its not easy – when you’re pursuing a degree; want independence; super-fast WiFi; good food; social life; a job which feels like a holiday; security – it just doesn’t all materialize in one night on a platter – much like how we’d like it to. Some people just get stuck in the grind of everyday mundane jobs to support themselves and a family. Or run behind their passion – a train they may/may not catch. Or live in the delusion: ‘Aayega – Don aayega”.
Don gaya tel lene.
No parent/well-wisher/aunty/uncle-ji who owns a shop/dhobi-wallah/already-established-friend/Data-scientist-cousin-in-the-US likes it when you tell them you want to become a Screen-writer or Casting Director – Art Manager – Art Director – Critic – Media Producer – Shift to another city – Get a flat- Buy a dog- etc:-
“Does it even pay well? What – I’ve never heard of it. Its just tricks – to scam your generation into doing odd-jobs no one else wants to do. Are you crazy? Interns are unpaid labor – even the dhobiwallah knows that. Pune? Tomorrow you’ll go to New York also. Pehle na you lose weight and leave that Facebook wagera. Some Hunky Dory became a screenwriter – doesn’t mean ki you’ll become one, too. Please keep your room clean, first. And what about the five years you spent cutting cardboard to become an Architect (or whatever you studied)? Who’ll pay for rent? Accha, leave all this blogging about movies which some other person made and share serious views on your blog. Get married before 25 – movie mein dekha na – that actor also said that only. Kya? How many degrees do you want? PINK dekha PINK? Yahi hota hai outside world mein – go, go get your flat ab. Accha jao – sab karlo – Director bhi ban jao. Artist bhi ban jao. Go ask your Michel Gondry’s mother if he spoke to her in this tone, ever. Remember Ankita? She’s working in that advertising company – she’s getting married in November. You’re still sending in CV’s to these funny companies. What do you want to do with the rest of your existence? Ja, main nai poochti.“
You got my point. And its all in our best interest. No parent wants their kid lying broke in some dingy corner smoking cheap cigarettes regretting why they didn’t take up that Accenture wala job. Neither do they want you as an added attachment to the house (unless of course you’re a boy, in our patriarchal country). And I agree with them. This is not a rant as much as it looks like one.
Its a dilemma that I realized, more recently, a lot of us are facing but because we want to maintain the status-quo of being happy – we don’t share it. We just write poetry because its a hobby. We don’t tell people that it gives us more pleasure doing than data-entry because poetry doesn’t pay – unless of course you write something that goes viral on scoopwhoop. No one writes Facebook statuses about how they fought with someone who thinks their dreams are worth nothing. No one tells you how much it hurts to lose a job because you could’t focus on your work. No one tells you how bloody scared they are about life, itself. We blame our social status, lack of money, parental pressure, etc – and continue doing what we do best – nothing.
But all that is when you have some tinkering clue about what you really want to be. Thomas Zacharias (okay, I not-secretly have a crush on him and he Instagrams as @cheftzac) knew he wanted to be a Chef. Though it looks like he’s always smiling as he grills salmons and posts pictures about inspiring local cuisine – it took him a hell load of effort to become the Executive Chef of the Bombay Canteen (believe it or not, one of the many reasons for me to want to work in Pune is so that I can go to Mumbai to see this place designed by a firm called The Busride – where I will work, one day.). A snippet of that effort (posted with permission aka DM that he may/may not read, on Instagram) :
On the contrary, another person I got introduced to, thanks to all the weird research I do – is Shanoo Sharma (@shanoozeing on twitter) who is the Casting Head at YRF Films. And she didn’t just land up this job in one year or even two. She has the experience of working as a hair-stylist, bartender, waitress, singer – and pretty much everything she wanted to try. She has no degree to her name and at one (or many) point was tagged by well-wishers as someone who could not stay in one job for more than a year. And look where all that has lead her to. She now gives actors their breaks. She calls her job a holiday and has the authority to work from where she wants, when she wants. She does a job she’s obsessed with and this didn’t occur to her in a dream. She is India’s top Casting Director. Ranveer Singh, Parneeti Chopra, Arjun Kapoor, Alia Bhatt – and many more happened because she thought they could happen. And her story which I read is here .
Closer home, in Chennai, someone I actually know did something out of his dreams. Shyam Renganathan just gave his first TEDx talk in VIT, Vellore – and why? Because he didn’t just sit around moping (okay maybe he may have done that at one point) – when he believed that he could be funny. He didn’t want that engineering life – he stood against joining a B.E course and went ahead to do what he loves doing – he’s now a Standup Comic, RJ, Web Series (Black Sheep) Actor and I don’t know what more he will do. It was definitely not easy – or fun, when he decided to take a step back and change course. But he made it. Its not an easy world for dreamers but then again, people make it.
And these are just some examples that I’ve stumbled upon. Okay, let’s take Sushant Singh Rajput – for those who are living under a rock / From another country – he’s a Bollywood actor who recently acted as M.S Dhoni in his biopic. Besides that, he has starred as Byomkesh Bakshi and as a lead character in Kai Po Che, the movie based on Chetan Bhagat’s Three Mistakes of My Life. He didn’t become an actor bas aise hi kyunki sapna aaya. He was first an AIEEE Topper with AIR 7 – then a student in DTU – a dancer in Shiamak Davar’s Dance troupe – a theatre artist with Ekjute – an actor in Hindi Serials – and finally, an actor. This journey was a long and strenuous one. I haven’t interviewed him but I sure as hell know that he didn’t know he’ll be acting as M.S Dhoni in the year 2016 – when he was giving his AIEEE. Not everyone knows for sure. And you know what, its okay.
I say this to myself whenever I get a new idea – that’s daunting – that makes me look jittery and unsure – which I agree I am. But what’s wrong in that? I’m afraid that I don’t know. But at least, I accept that I don’t know and I’m trying to know. I’m giving my everything – I’m working hard and looking at prospects- I’m applying to places which resonate my beliefs, somewhat. I’m looking at originality in a field dominated by trends and popularity.
But that doesn’t stop me at marveling what Michel Gondry does with a few colours, a paper and a video camera. It doesn’t stop me from reading scripts written by Woody Allen and Rebecca Miller. It doesn’t stop me from thinking what Greta Gerwig thought before signing up for Frances Ha. It doesn’t stop me from watching Wes Anderson movies back-to-back noting down things I like – joining FTII forums and discussing Bollywood – watching Anurag Kashyap’s speeches on Film-making – noting down email addresses of Production houses I would like to intern with – sending my CV to Art Management firms just to see if I fit the bill. I’m trying. I don’t know if its right – I don’t know if job security is the secret to success. I don’t know if I’ll ever end up in Mumbai writing films like Juhi Chaturvedi and Gauri Shinde. I also remember promising my best friend, Sarkar, that we’d write scripts for Korean Drama together, when we were in college. Maybe we should have done that.
Its all a bit unsettling when you see your friends going to pursue their Masters in the US, UK and Singapore – or when they post “FMS / IIM – Life be like” pictures on instagram – and you’re still here sitting before a screen.
Being afraid is normal and so is stalking celebrities on Instagram. Reading Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me (by Mindy Kaling) instead of Lean-In or Seven Habits of Highly Effective People (or whatever its called) – is absolutely OKAY. Crushing on celebrity chefs who don’t even know you exist is OKAY. Reading never-ending tumblr posts on inspiration is OKAY – as long as you don’t lose yourself in another person’s world and come back to your own to build yourself up. You’re not alone. You never will be. Talk to people and get to know things instead of being shy and apprehensive. Throw yourself at opportunities and learn things that can’t be learnt on lifehack or buzzfeed. Get out of your shell and give yourself a chance to feel vulnerable.
It doesn’t matter where we are as long as we know we want to try harder and make something out of this opportunity we call life.