Life

Between Pages and Places

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 Galadriel’s chants have been replaced by Abeer Hoque’s poetry, dragon-riders no more reside on my shelves – there are letters of love exchanged by an artist and a poet sitting atop Jane Austen’s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.

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(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.

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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!

Arrividerci.

Dreamer, Life

One Mind, Many Dreams.

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.

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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.

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You can thank me later.

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.

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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.

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Life, Uncategorized

For Bigger Things – Women’s Day

There are people who lose and then there are sour losers. I am not proud of the fact that I belonged to the second category. Always running into new opportunities, making mistakes and moping about it, etcetera. Sometimes I would win and celebrate like there was no tomorrow and if I ever happened to lose I would be a pile of misery sobbing in a corner. Such was the hyperactivity my Mother had to tolerate.

She would always sit next to me, look at my tear-stained face and say, ‘Don’t worry about this one. You’re made for better things,’ and smile.

I never understood what she meant then. I’d always think she was too optimistic for reality. But as life moved on and I actually landed up in good places I realized that if I hadn’t lost that day I’d never tried for the position I succeeded in. Sometimes things just happen (or don’t happen) for a reason. Life is always throwing options at y. Always trust that what you choose is the best. And if you falter remember that you’re probably made for better things and search for enough courage to stand up and walk towards a better horizon. Do not mistake this as escapism because whole-hearted effort has been put in the fruition of a task.

On this woman’s day I’d like to congratulate the spirit of the woman – the woman who creates; who’s asked to adjust because “the world is like this only”; who’s feminism is laughed upon or misunderstood; who’s sensuality is looked down upon as cheap; who’s behavior is judged subjectively; who’s biology is help up against her existence; who’s security depends upon the other gender; who’s freedom is localized; who’s love is taken for granted and who can rule the world if she sets her mind on it.

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Feminism is not a placard you hold in a rally against the people. Its a message- a way of life that needs to be adopted to bridge the gaps (that we all know, exist) be it financially or otherwise; to get out of stereotypical treatment; to face perverts/abusers with the confidence that they should fear their prey; to be able to express without worrying about hurting the male ego; fighting against the chains women have gotten themselves bound into and alas, its not a race. Its not a plea. Its a mindful decision that a person takes towards equality in a broad and holistic sense.

Happy Women’s Day because somebody feels its important to make us feel loved and remind us of our importance when actually it should be a living-breathing-everyday-realization in every home, workplace, public area, road, street and room.

And you cannot expect everyone to change overnight- you need to live by this principle yourself. Stop expecting people to assist you when you can do it yourself. Listen to yourself, use your discretion, analyse what you do. RESPECT YOURSELF AND THE PEOPLE AROUND YOU sans judgement. Give it your best – work with passion. And if you’re unhappy wherever you are- believe that there is a way out and there is a better place.

Dear woman, girl and human reading this: Opportunities come and go but one must give it a try (fairly) and the objective is to have tried and worked for your dream – if it works out, splendid and if it doesn’t, always remember you’re made for better things in life.

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Life, Uncategorized

Who.

This is the part of my life where I start understanding who I am. Who I want to become .But there is no saying who I’ll become.

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Its not easy to figure it out in a day, months or now that I come to think of it, years, maybe. Every week I discover something new about myself; the people around me, the potential I have and how it affects the others. Every action reverberates. It brings something new to our life. Like, just last week – though short – I’ve lived through a journey on a brook (were I a little paper boat this sentence would have made much more sense than it does, right now). If you know me then you’d probably have heard the word Thesis at least ten times a day on an average basis. The poor parents, close friends, roommate and partner go through much worse. All they hear about is : Thesis. So much so that my Dad doesn’t discuss anything else, he is attuned to my nature- keeping track of my progress and encouraging me in whatever way he can including the occasional hearing to remind me a theater play or a movie should not be my focus and that I should start focusing on also getting an internship. Parents are farsighted. That’s probably why I’m in a college and getting to write this post, right now. The point being – when you start becoming more vulnerable (and this is purely by choice – a shade of mindfulness, maybe?) to the things happening around you and there is no saying whether its good or bad – you realize how real things can actually get. Your interaction with people is not based on the that moment or even the moment before. Our entire life affects every action we take. Over the years the way you think, react to things, accept criticism or pain, respond to threat, appreciate another or learn something – have all evolved. You’re not the same person you were two years ago (in my case, a month ago). When you look back at the things you said last weekend after the jury went bad and you were all red-faced and puffy-eyed – would make you laugh at our childishness (nudge, nudge, that’s me).

So give it time. Let things sink in, be processed until you’re sure about how you feel before expressing it outside. You’ll be surprised how a little thinking before speaking can help in the long run. After my rather unexpectedly weird jury I took a time off the maddening heat of the thesis. I spent time with friends, read good things and waited for the answers to come to me. And come they did : in a newspaper article, that too, believe it or not and by next week it may actually turn into something life-changing. Open to these new experiences. Anyway, lots of following up to do and a test tomorrow. I’m going to try writing more here so that I can get to a clearer thought-process.

Also I’d like to thank you all for the support : all your comments and remarks mean a lot. Keep them coming. Which blogger doesn’t love comments? So just feel free to share things with me- always receptive. Hope you had a great weekend. Waiting to actually hear from you and learn something so yes, write to me.

Arrividerci.

Life, Uncategorized

Happy Valentine’s Day, Chandler Binggg

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*In that blood-curdling- nasal-twangy-Janice-From-F.R.I.E.ND.S-tone*

Yes, that’s right. I thought (not less than a hundred times) whether or not to post a V-Day post. I live in this parallel-Universe where Corny-Cheesy V thoughts are frowned upon if not abhorred. Honestly, I’ve always believed if you really have the hearts-kisses-cuddly teddy-thoughts for someone, its going to last for a long time and you don’t need such a day to remind yourselves to go on a date where you’ll probably splurge more than you did on his/her birthday (See : birthdays > concept > totally another Universe. I say, go all out on making someone’s birthday because that is really something. I know I’m contradicting myself. I’m not a hater of celebrations. Hell no, I’m just picky about some. Its a personal blog, remember? So yeah. *winks*)

I believe that besides being a highly successful commercial idea – VDAY is the day you can breeze into someone’s life -ask them out- and no matter what the result be all coy and say, “Well, its Valentine’s day, no?”. Good luck with that.

But if you’re still gummy bears about it, then yes, I do hope you have a great time. But have you heard of these Anti-Valentine Bashes? Now these are the real amazing people. They get together as a symbol of their not being coupled with someone- to party it out – probably meet another specimen who they can then hope to make their valentine next year. Are you serious? You want to party? Partaayyy – why name it like that? Isn’t Valentine’ Day (bless that poor Saint who’s name is getting dragged into all of this) cheesy enough that you have to find an anti for it? There is absolutely nothing to be upset about not having a valentine. Chances are you’re much happier today than most coupled ones. Anti-V is almost asking for pity and louve. Really, you can do much better.

So, today I’m going to do some posts – in a string, yes. My senior blogger buddies must be clucking at the idea of bulk content being pushed into the world at once. I’m sorry, I really have no option here.  Also, I must catch breakfast.

So, yes, if you’re sitting like me staring at a computer or phone- but hoping someone pops the question : just do it yourself. Use this opportunity to make a complete fool out of yourself. I believe in doing things you think you must. Chose the harder option. Silent-love is so 18th Century – “Oh but how do I embrace my love for her when she is betrothed to Master Sullivan?”. Get over yourself and shake that ass with some happiness in you.

Love yourself.

Perhaps, celebrate yourself today (like I plan to despite having a Valentine) and be less hypocritical about it (I’m trying, don’t roll your eyes at me).

My Mum texted me Happy valentine’s Day so I know whose day to brighten up, now. 

Also, dear, do NOT, I repeat : Do not randomly wish people you find cute. Its such a put off. Not even as a  joke. Because, darling, everyone these days can see right through each other. Yes? Good. Time for some good writing now. I love you all, V or not.

Arrividerci.

 

 

Life, Uncategorized

Journey

You stumble and fall.

You get lost.

You join nomads.

You abandon travel-mates.

But you’re still walking.

Sometimes running – out of breath.

You never stop.

Life doesn’t let you – that’s its cruel sweetness.

The unseen beauty of how things work – the process in continuum.

You choose some of the paths you take.

And the others choose you.

You find companions on the way.

Some stay while the other have a way of withering away.

Some demand your time. Some are free.

You’re either a nurturer or a wanderer.

You choose companions – for life or for the moment.

That’s the law- break it- and you feel lost within your Universe.

You’re always thinking- too less, too much, deep or shallow.

Reminisce – nostalgia -memories give light.

Fears. Challenges. Betrayals – bring dusk upon you.

You breathe. You sleep. You cry and then look up at the constant sun.

This journey that our lives have begun – ends only at the beginning of another.

Life, Uncategorized

Kaalai Vanakkam

Its the last Sunday of the semester (cheers) and its a sunny morning. Yes, I’m sounding like a Radio Jockey (which I’d love to be if I could). In 48 hours I will be home. Saamraani pogai mixed with the fragrance of home food…sprays of different perfumes as the elders get ready for work. RJ Balaji or some religious music playing on the radio…Sun TV news running somewhere. And I’ll be missing Hostel and its lazy timings. By 7AM the entire family is out and about. We wake up before Dawn and wind up breakfast even before most people brush. And that’s the trend of most people in our city. Earlier I was run-in-the-mill with the timings because there was school to go to. And now…I’m the vacationer who just wants to sleep-in; watch TV; read books in silent corner; draw on innocent-inanimate objects lying around the house; Whatsapp faraway friends; make plans that don’t materialize, watch more TV, write a few lines and well, wait for dinner. That’s the time the entire family is back again.

‘So, how was your day?,’ they’d ask.

‘Pretty good. I washed those sneakers you asked me to wash last week,’ I’d reply with a proud grin. My sister would cluck at me while the rest of them nod.Yeah, well, come to Tumkur and see my swagger, family. Running behind buses; shouting and singing from autos; eating in the craziest places; dancing  (Or at least eyeing) random wedding processions; making elaborate plans of gate-crashing parties; midnight coffees- what-not. But at home, I’m a cat curled up in a basket. Or that’s what its been like during the college vacations. And I’ve used them all up. No more breezy vacations – now that I’m at the verge of being a grown up – with a job and professional identity (and all that stuff about being busy all the time). At a funny palm-reading session my friend said I’ll be the types who studies a lot in life. Well, if that’s the case I hope there are vacations too(no strings like internships etc attached) because this unwinding is so necessary after grueling semester-ends (please notice I didn’t say semester).

Anyway. Its the end of my last odd semester. So bidding farewell to the oddity of semesters. And hoping this winter break has a lot of good stuff. Let me give you a quick preview. Kolkata is definitely happening for 6 days. Then I’m meeting all (At least most) of my CBC members; visiting galleries throughout Bangalore-Chennai and going to be in conversation with a lot of artist, performers and writers.. so yeah, praying it all goes well 😀

Love journeys.

Hope you’re having a great Sunday.

Arrividerci.