Saturday, December 27, 2008

Another Year, Another Story

Nothing fills me with more optimism and enthusiasm and general love than the the start of a new year. It also allows me to take stock of the year gone by, and maybe learn something. So here goes - the last year can be categorised into hits and misses.

Hit: So many new friends! And rediscovered some old ones. And had some pretty decent nooky :-)

Miss: Not been in love even once this year.

Miss: Did not quit smoking.

Hit: Did not start on hard drugs.

Miss: One film released. Total disaster.

Hit: Written two cool (my personal opinion) films, waiting for them to hit the screens

Hit: My day job has been making my bank account look consistently good.

Miss: Just about sick of my day job.

Hit: Travelled to London and Scotland and discovered that they're my new favorite cities in the world.

Miss: HUGE fight with my brother in London.

Hit/Miss: Things are still where they were with Dad. I wonder if it's weird to have an expectation of 'love, understanding and support' from someone just because they're family. I wonder if he feels the same way about me.

Hit: Getting used to having my own place... I think this particular aspect has made me decidedly calmer.

Miss: Calm in another language would probably mean lazy.

Hit: Became an entrepreneur with a friend. Completed a couple of projects with the same.

Miss: Left the company after 3 months. No time and frankly no inclination.

Miss: My friend was diagnosed with ovarian cancer of the malignant kind.

Hit: She's on her way to full recovery right now

Hit: Watched some really cool movies and got introduced to some pretty good music

Hit/Miss: Watched a LOT of crap too. But it is one of my guilty pleasures.

Hmm... reading through my list, i've finally realised a few things.

a) 2008 wasn't the total success it seemed like it was going to be at its beginning, but then i guess that is the running motif of my life.

b) Money and sex don't seem to make me too happy, though they do help me avoid the abyss of depression

c) Working through the year has been a mixed blessing in a way. It gives me money and instantaneous satisfaction, but it doesn't seem to give me 'moments' which would make my year seem worthwhile.

Aaarrrrgh! Even as i wrote this last point, i realised what a totally ungrateful whiny person i sound like. So i'll make up for it by actually putting down the good, the bad and the ugly learnings from my day job:

The Good: Despite having NO background / qualification in graphic design, i got the opportunity to lead a great team of copywriters, concept developers and graphic designers, all in their early 20s, all of them enthusiastic about life, regardless of the cards that have been dealt them. Everyday, watching them work, individually and together, teaches me something about myself, and what i should aspire to. They've also been a bundle of laughs. AND, through them i have learnt how to put an abstract idea into visual form - it has been one of my greatest highs this year.

The Bad: Stupid people exist everywhere. I don't just mean IQ, but also their inability to respect other peoples' talents and flaws, and learn to work around them, inspire them to do their best. The fact that this job has made me face them on a daily basis has a positive side too though - my reservoirs of patience have increased manifold. I'm well on my way to achieving moksha

The Ugly: This year, i have seen my insane side - really, the side which reacts to extreme rage. It's not pretty.

But all in all, it's been a great year of learnings. Also, the fact that i'm writing this in the first week of the new year adds to my rose-tinted view of a year which I couldn't wait to get out of just a few days ago.

And my birthday's coming up too!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

"The kingdom of heaven (and hell, i presume) is within you.."

This isn't a religious post. I personally don't believe much in religion, mainly because i find it slightly silly standing in front of a photograph / statue / engraving / book and praying for a miracle. Which doesn't mean i don't depend on miracles. Every day i get through without coming under a bus, or falling seriously ill, or getting fired - i consider that day miraculous. So yes, my life's blessed.

But coming back to the subject of my post: I just saw "Stigmata" for the 79th time. I usually watch the film to stare at Gabriel Byrne's good looking face as he plays the unbeddable priest conflicted about his faith. But this time, this line - "The kingdom of heaven is within you, and all around you..." - jumped out at me. It got me thinking about heaven, and then of hell. And then i read this:

Fathers and teacher
I ponder, "What is hell?"
I maintain it is
The suffering of being
Unable to love...
- Dostoevsky

Usually my blog is about carnality, some romance, but usually it's about when a boy met a girl, and me hoping for a romantic comedy ending instead of the usual alternative cinema "wha?" impasse and end credits. This time, however, I'm here to talk about my personal piece of hell i can't seem to put down.

Lately, i find myself unable to love. This phase began at the beginning of last month. I discovered that a supposedly benign growth in my friend's body was malignant and spreading. She had to lose her ability to bear children to save her own life. I know the choice seems like a no-brainer, but a week before the operation, she'd told me that she really hoped she wouldn't lose her ovaries. As she lay recovering under sedatives, all i wondered was what would happen to me if she died.

Then the terrorists picked that week to attack Bombay, a city I adore. Then my favorite 'father-figure' Uncle was diagnosed with a growth in his throat. And then my Boss at my event-management gig was a total prick to me. And my friend's father died after a year of suffering. Suddenly my job of planning events that would sell more FMCG products didn't seem like so meaningful after all. And i've been doing this for a year and a half now - longer than most of my long-term relationships. All of these things together have just somehow cauterised my sensory nerves, to the extent that i feel nothing really.. except maybe fatigue.

So i took a step back and took a long hard look at my life. I'm going to be 31. I'm sleeping with a 25 year old sweet boy with whom no matter how naked i get, i'm not ever intimate with. At the start of it all, he seemed to be the answer to my prayers - no strings attached fun times. But now, while the going is still good, it's.... pointless.

Everything seems just a little bit more pointless everyday. And somewhere in the middle of all this, i've misplaced my fearlessness. Every little thing strikes fear in my life - what will i do if my friend dies? Or my mom? If i die, will anyone notice me missing? Will i ever love again, like i used to? Like i used to have the energy to? Will i write that damn book or will i be the 'so much potential but all wasted' person one never hears about? I'm scared i shall never be able to love anything so deeply again that i will want to fight for it. And because of that, i shall waste away, slowly, minimally, every day, like a bit of dust blowing off the sand dunes of a desert, until there will be nothing there... and no one to even remember that it wasn't always this way.

I'm also scared that i don't know how to change this.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Drinking and Dialling

We have all done it - Had a few more drinks than necessary, looked around and seen happy couples, reacted to 'that song' which happened to play at just the right time and wondered where we had screwed up. Because we were alone despite all the chances we had had in our short lives. We tend to forget the details of the exact scenario, who had said or done what to whom, whose 'fault' it was... all those details become hazy in the fugue created by alcoholic fumes and romantic melodies and you reach for the phone.


Even as you scroll down to the number that you should ideally have deleted a long time ago, you know it's a move that you'll regret the next morning, but blaring more loudly in the foreground of that doubt is the thought, "If not now, then when? If not like this, then how?" Yes, at heart, I'm probably a chicken-shit, and without a generous amount of dutch courage flowing through my arteries, am only too happy pushing things under the proverbial carpet.

Last night, surrounded by a few friends and several acquaintances, something snapped inside me. I was coasting along, singing the songs, smiling and laughing when suddenly a voice from my 8-year-ago-love-past pinged me. "Hi, am in Pune. Was thinking of you. I still love you." Love? Really? It made me wonder if i even knew what it meant anymore. And quick on the heels of that particular thought, came the memory of another boy whom I had truly loved... enough to have let him walk away, and not shut down access lines. So, surrounded by youngsters who were playing the guitar and singing love songs, i picked up the phone and pinged him - "Right now. This minute. I miss you. I miss us."

Sweet, right? Atleast i'd like to believe so. He responded. I pinged back. And the next morning, when I woke up and read the other, increasingly maudlin messages I had sent, that screamed of loneliness and sadness, I was mortified. How could I? For someone who has been a proponent of the "I'll Survive" school of thought, what a terrible admission of frailty.

So the next day, i went red-faced with the effort of sweeping said mortification under yet another carpet and met a friend who sat me down and told me to get a grip on myself. His judgement was : "So you leaned on someone in a moment of weakness. So what? It means you're human." Yes i know it's human... but ... why him? Why a person whom i'd loved and lost? Why can't it be someone who is around, right now, right here? "Because you don't stick around long enough for someone to be around you."

Aww.. crap. Last thing i needed in this state was a reality check. The fact that he was kinda right is no excuse. To make a reeeaaalllly long story very short: boy met girl, got girl, dumped girl; then girl met boy, got boy, dumped boy, etc etc. This went on for a while until finally, girl figured that any guy she meets and gets is probably not the right guy for her. So as soon as she senses that she may get a boy, she bolts. Leaving her alone at parties wondering why she's alone.

Okay, yes i know the "The solution: don't bolt" theory. But the real situation is this: My whole life i've taken a fairly large section of responsibility for my actions. And hence, their consequences. So when faced with empirical evidence of multiple failures of a particular "fall in love first and ask questions later" strategy, I opted for the "ask questions first and then fall in love" modus operandi.


Because now, since i was already analytical about a person and a situation, just "feeling and going with the flow" was impossible. So we now had a girl who believed she could see through people, their pathetic attempts at 'wooing' her, the various pick-her-up strategies that ranged from "I'm such a cute cuddly guy" to "i'm such a super smart brainiac" to "i don't want you but you want me" to "sex is ok, after all this is the 21st century"... It was exhausting to constantly question and probe and seek the truth about peoples motivations - what do you truly want from me? Validation? Sex? Friendship? Sweetness? Devotion? What??? The bad news was that this MO provided no fool-proof clear-cut answers either and hence my analytical approach rejected them all. And it was impossible to stop.

So when i was drinking and dialling, surrounded by youngsters and music, i was actually reaching back to a time of my life, to a person who had just been, who had let me be, who had loved me and made no secret of the fact, whose assurance had carried us when my own was shaky, who took our future for granted, whom i never ever considered giving 'no' for an answer. It was a time of ease and of confidence in ourselves, not tainted by fear of loss, fear of rejection, fear of our own fallibility.

It was a time of youth. Sigh.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

When You Gotta Go...

I smoke sometimes. Sometimes I smoke a lot. I also go for weeks without. This isn't a post about whether i'm an 'addicted' chain smoker or not. But i do get a few stares every now and then from people. One of the recent starers was a young thing at work. As i inhaled deeply while trying to solve the problems of the world in my mind by looking out of a grimy window, she said, "You mustn't smoke. It's not good for you." Usually i respond with a "I know. I'll stop soon." But that day, i actually envied her her whole assurance that she knew the answers, that she knew for certain that some things are good and some things are bad and there can be no compromise. I hated the fact that i used to be her at some point, and now i wasn't, and no matter how hard i try, i never will be.

So I asked her why she felt smoking was so bad. She looked surprised that in today's day and age, any educated person would even dare question that axiom of life. Her entire expression communicated 'what an idiot' - her judgement of me. I don't blame her. But she was young and i'm almost her boss, so she seemed hesitant about stating the obvious.

I said, "Do you smoke?
Do you drink?
Do you drive rashly?
No, i don't even drive! (giggle)
Do you eat red meat?
I am a vegetarian
Very good. Do you do drugs?
(gasp!!) Never!
Not even combiflam? (i was smiling)
Ohh.. like that.. i thought you know....
Yes, I know. You are right. You live a clean, healthy, perfect life.
She nodded vigorously.
And yet, you too shall die.

The change of her expression is usually the stuff that the best jokes are made of. But as she stared at me as if I was some crazy woman who had poured my hopelessness into her, i felt bad. I laughed, and she laughed too, and i went back to smoking, and she went back indoors to her computer, but i know that there was no need for me to dump on her like that.

Yesterday i attended my uncle's funeral. It's the first funeral i have ever been a part of. We weren't very close, but he was a warm person in whose company i have spent a few blissful hours. I am infact very close to his sisters and his kids - my cousins - which would explain my presence there (apart from the usual "family" thing). He smoked heavily for the last 45 years of his life. Predictably, his lungs gave up on him. There is a ring of 'karmic bells' but then i've seen my grandfather die - a healthy man who, at the age of 75, was stronger than most people my age - of throat cancer. I also have a friend who had a heart attack when he was 27, and another person i almost knew who died while mountain climbing.

My point? When it's time, it's time. There's not much one can do about that, despite age miracles and stem-cell whatchamacallits. But we can do a lot for the living. At my uncle's funeral, there was deep grief, many tears, AND rolling-on-the-floor-telling-hysterical-jokes-and-laughing. It's probably due to the fact that my family's average IQ is in the 140s, or probably because it was too soon for us to really react 'appropriately'. Whatever be the case, what was fantastic was that we were all in this together, for better or worse. I am not kidding, my family is who i would want around me if the sky fell on my head.

Because when i die - be it of lung cancer, or breast cancer (now, that would be ironic), liver disease or chronic old age - i hope it's in my sleep and that i leave behind a family that would get drunk and laugh that day and stiff my credit card company for it.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

The Ex-Files

Yesterday, i was sitting with a friend over dinner. He insisted that there was 'something wrong' ("I can see it in your face.. come on, open up, let it out...")and wanted me to talk about it. Since i didn't have something terribly topical to discuss, i made some stuff up about a friend of mine who has been acting totally strangely around me.

Anyway, the discussion boiled down to why this person was bothering me so much and i said, "When it comes to guys, there are just two categories in my life - lovers or friends. Now they can be a bit of both, but one of the categories is always more predominant." So this friend of mine said, 'There's a category called 'ex-lovers.' They never become friends and they aren't lovers."

And while it does seem like common sense, this particular insight hit me like a lightning bolt. Of course! So many things can be explained now. The ridiculously abrupt conversations, the taken-for-granted-ness, the freedom to be a jerk without provocation...

But then i sat down to analyse this particular category of people, and the hold they have on our lives. I mean, who are they, really? They're people with whom at some point or the other you shared certain intimacies with. He was the guy you could hold hands with, reach across for a cuddle, expect to come with you to the airport in the wee hours of the morning, expect to be concerned about your world and everything within it. It was a relationship way greater than friendship. And you seriously expected to revert to 'friendship' with him and not expect it to hurt one or the both of you??? Thinking about it, it's so obviously silly.

But now what? You have gone through several years of your life collecting these "ex's" - people who enthralled you at some point, but people you let go off (or vice-versa) for reasons that at the time were perfectly sensible. But you cared about them deeply, and insisted on having them in your life, because of all the value they added to it. Now, several years later, you look back at this train of people who're populating your life, wondering "uh.. what are you doing here again?"

An ex-boyfriend called me the other day. He wanted to have "coffee and/or lunch" sometime. I'm not really surprised to hear from him or even the invitation. He always issues summons such as this every few years. I always say yes. What will surprise me is if he ever follows through and actually does meet me and discover that we truly have nothing left in common. Knowing him, that's probably why we shall never meet - we love our fairy tales.

Maybe that's why we hold onto our past loves. They remind us of a miraculous bond we shared with someone else, a bond that's becoming harder and harder to share the older we become. More importantly, they remind us of who we were all those years ago - enthralling, mysterious, totally captivating and absolutely perfect - for those few months for that one person. And ultimately, they give us hope that we still have what it takes to be enthralling, captivating and absolutely perfect for someone else too.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Analyse This and That and Those and Them

Does anyone remember the Oracle in The Matrix? She tells Neo that he is NOT the one, and then Morpheus tells him (and all of us) that what the Oracle said was for him, and him alone. It's all very confusing, until we see how cannily that Oracle had fixed it - "Would you still have broken the vase if i hadn't said anything?" This kind of mind-manipulation is what therapy is about. It doesn't matter what the facts of the case are - it's what you believe is the truth that needs to be battled, not the real demons but the imagined ones.

No, i'm not a shrink, nor seeing one. But a few days ago, i did seriously consider finding me an empathetic stranger whom i could spill my guts to. I was willing to do the whole "lie on the couch and tell me why you hate your mother" routine, if i could be guaranteed the answer to everything and everything (no, it's not 42) about my world and why i feel i'm messed up. I ultimately didn't find the shrink, but i did find a friend who gave me an assignment:

Question: "Write a letter to your father which you will never mail."

Dear B,
I wish i knew you. I wish you knew me. I wish that when we talked, i felt that you were family, and not just some stranger on the other end of the line that i'm paying lip-service to. I wish i could talk to you about the boys in my life, and be able to trust what you say because you have lived an honorable life. I wish you were the person i would consider calling if i was in trouble, and not scroll down my phone list to find a friend. I wish i could believe in you and not always feel that our interactions are a negotiation of truth. I wish i could explain the feeling of loss i felt when you walked out of my life with a "see you later". I wish i could explain the betrayal i felt when you blamed me for choosing my mother, and thus 'becoming' my mother. I wish i belonged somewhere, to someone, to something solid, enduring, and not be the footloose nomad who was a child of the world. I wish i felt unadulterated joy when i knew that "dad" was coming to visit. I wish i didn't feel indifferent to you.

"Write a letter to your mother which she will never read."

Dear M,
I wish you would let me go. Not make me the receptacle of your joys and sorrows, not make me feel like the one who has to make up for all the wrongs done to you by your mother, your brother, your husbands, your son, your friends, etc. I don't want to be the de-facto peace keeper of the family, i don't want to be the soothing voice of reason when all about me are losing their heads, i don't want to be made to feel guilty for not calling 'because you know i'll worry' (don't worry.) or not spending enough time with you when you visit (nothing is enough). I wish you wouldn't be so verbal about all your stresses because I tend to absorb your anguish, and it pisses me off that you couldn't find someone your own age to do this with. I wish between you and B, both of you could have taught me the basics of having a normal relationship, instead of haranguing me with "what's happening with your love life?" I wish i didn't have to bear the cross of the 'one good thing' in your life, paraded in front of all. I wish i didn't have to be your knight in shining armour.

Etc etc.

Now for the facts of the case:

A long time ago i had written something down in this very blog. At that time, it was about getting over a heartbreak, but the underlying emotion is the same. I have a choice - either blame my parents for everything wrong with me or accept that they're regular people just doing the best they can. The former leads me to a painful shut down of systems, wailing about the injustice of it all, while the latter leads me to the recognition of my parents as people and taking responsibility for how i let them affect me... in short, it leads me to adulthood.

Growing up is overrated.

Monday, September 1, 2008

careful what you wish for...

I wished that someone would come out and ask me to play. Someone did.
I wished that it would be before i forgot how to say yes. It was.
I wished that i was the kind of person that people could hurt. I am.

I'll stick with my ball of light, within my fortress walls. Thanks.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Who WAS he?

I haven't been able to get him out of my mind. This is a really odd feeling, and one i haven't felt for sometime now. It happened like this.

I've already mentioned my friend Tappa, the super adorable father-wannabe who thinks i'm the person he'll get that dream with. Despite the fact that i've made it clear that he's the only one dreaming that dream, he pursues me. It's sweet. And at times, a little too much. There's only so many times a girl will tolerate "but we're meant to be together if you would only give yourself a chance to find happiness with me" at the end of an evening. It's too much pressure to take after a buddy-evening. And the anticipation of another such ending keeps me away from evenings with him. I'm not proud of it, but it is how it is.

So anyway, yesterday Tappa shows up at my office, with a bottle of white wine and two glasses. He takes me to the beach, where we walk the length of the shore, while he regales me with extremely forgettable stories. I laugh at the right times, make the apropriate noises that show i'm paying attention, while mentally, i listen to the sound of the waves. It was beautiful and peaceful, and made me stop in my whirlwind life for a few precious minutes.

His friend VJ comes by. They talk about what they do, while leaving me alone to notice the trails of footsteps that we were leaving in the sand. I was relieved that the friend was there because that meant that I could leave without the customary "we should be together" conversation. And things were going according to plan. I was heading home, they were heading to some other friend's house. Happy ending.

Then VJ says, "Let's go to a club." And before i knew it, the three of us were in a neighborhood club, dancing. And then a very strange thing happened. I found myself looking only at Tappa, dancing with Tappa, flirting with Tappa. Because, behind my back, VJ was holding... feeling my hand... And i was allowing it, touching him back. Trust me, when i say this, holding hands with a stranger has never been quite so erotic.

It began with the accidental brush of fingers. Then when fingers intertwined, it was hard to explain it away as accidental. When i leaned forward to say something to him, he pulled me into a hug, closer than necessary. I liked it. A lot. The evening ended. We hugged goodbye. Tappa still dropped me home. We DID have THAT conversation. But all i kept thinking was, "who was he?"

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Random Wrath - I

Do you envy the people who can get hurt by others? I do. It means they give a shit. It's good to give a shit. Once upon a time I used to. Then I decided its too damn painful. So here I am, not giving a shit, so that the only person who has any say in how happy or unhappy I am is me.

It's a pretty high pressure job, constantly monitoring happiness levels. Most of the time, one tends to shirk and choose "contentment" over the vagaries of happiness or unhappiness. It's also pretty lonely.

Not that writing it down is going to make me give a shit. It's just going to make me realise that no matter what I do, I probably never will change back to the person who really cared. Cuz that person is long gone.

Left behind is me, a girl who wishes she could get hurt by others. Imagine that. After spending a lifetime wishing people wouldn't hurt me, here I am wishing they could.

Talk about irony.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Reel Character

I don't own a TV. I haven't owned one, or had convenient access to one for about 6 years now. It's mostly because i am a couch-potato-at-heart with a magpie-like affinity for flickering images on screen. Given enough time, this tends to reflect on my productivity. Also, it's always easier to assume 'goodness' in terms of television content and quality when not faced with the truth. Anyway, the reason I'm confessing this dimly-lit side of mine is to put down a thought i have about a phenomenon that has, by and large, pretty much passed me by entirely - Reality Shows.

Specifically, one reality show called MTV Roadies. It happened like this. During the course of trying to come up with a real-time creative concept for the show, not being familiar with it per se, I decided to look it up online and watch a few episodes. And I'm appalled. Not by the quality of the show but the principles it's based on.

The makers of the show pay these teenagers a paltry (in today's age of inflation) sum of 2-3 lakhs to prove to their peers in the real world just how conniving, back-stabbing, selfish, petty and generally untrustworthy they can be. Then there's the VJ who keeps undermining their confidence and instigating paranoia - not their finest hour. And it's horrifying that the number of kids who line up every year to do more of the same keeps increasing.

My thought for the day: They should have asked for more money. Or maybe more character.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Damage Control

Mark asked me a few days ago, "What's the one major way that your parents' divorce affected you?" I was a little bit stunned by that particular conversation-opening gambit, especially since over the last few months, Mark and I have pretty much drifted off each others' radars. But seeing how he's Mark, and that I'll always have a soft spot for him no matter what, I gave his question serious thought. I told him, "I think it's the inability to recognise, and thus retain, a solid romantic relationship." Even as I said it, i realised that I sounded like such a cliche! Seriously, divorced parents, damaged child? How long can that band play? But it got me thinking of the many ways that we are damaged over the duration of our lives.

The friendly man-servant who one day carries 7-year-old you into a small room, and gets so friendly he leaves you in tears. Your favorite sibling who finds your secret diary and reads it aloud to his laughing friends as you sit humiliated. The girlfriend who makes you choose between the love of your life and her friendship. The parent who dismisses you for the nth time or looks at you as if you were a stranger. The lover who proudly guarantees that he would never feel anything but lust for you, teaches you to wall off your emotions, and says, "Atleast I'm being honest" as if he expects a medal. The fiance who breaks your heart the day after proclaiming to all and sundry that "I may hurt myself, but I will never hurt her". The friend-turned-lover who stands you up several times with the excuse, "Oh shit, I forgot."

The list is never-ending, and not all of it serious, sure. After all, Life is the School of Hard Knocks. It makes you appreciate the good, and makes you a better, kinder, more trustworthy person. Yes, sometimes, some of it is true. But at what cost?

Two decades ago, I wrote this totally uninspired childish attempt at a short story that tells the tale of a fortress and how she sets up her defences against attacking hordes. Everytime her exteriors were breached, she would magically rebuild stronger than before (much like human bones actually). One day, a young soldier who'd heard of the unsurpassable fortress walls came by. It was a lovely crisp winter morning, seasonal flowers were out in full bloom, and the Fortress, liking the look of the bloke who didn't shoot cannons at her, let him in without any struggle. The Prince, unworthy as he is, robs her of her treasures, sells them off, gets drunk, invites random blokes from the nearby tavern to show off, creates a ruckus, breaking all the furniture, etc etc. The fortress, pissed off, throws him out, and shuts her doors forever.

So yes, it's an obvious story with somewhat of an obvious moral. But for me, the story, and my post, is not about the shrapnel from external sources and the holes in the exterior walls. It's about the real damage inflicted by people you trust, people you let in, people who became privy to your closest held secrets, people who treated that courtesy not as a privilege but as an opportunity.

Don't get me wrong. I do know that for every jackass out there, there are atleast 10 wonderful, warm, loving people living right under your nose. But herein lies the rub. When we're born, we carry this ball of light within us. It makes us laugh loudly and unselfconsciously, it makes our eyes shine brighter, it makes us adorable to everyone. We are innocent, taking for granted that we shall be loved always, that no one will deliberately harm us, that we shall always have friends, and there'll always be someone with an answer to our dumbest-brightest questions. So good people are expected. It's the betrayals that get our attention. Because they change us.

With every betrayal - small and large - the door of the fortress shuts a little bit, converting another fraction of the ball of light into lead. At some point, you make a choice between keeping the door open, and watching your life-source getting sucked into lead, or keeping what remains of the light and just shutting the fortress door saying, "Thanks, but no thanks. Who needs this shit!"

The good news is that the light inside grows. It replenishes. It shines out through the windows, and draws everyone to you. It makes you laugh again. But it doesn't obliterate the memory of how close you got to losing everything. It whispers continuously about how it's others like those out there who made you shut down to begin with. You have all the right reasons to stay where you are. Content. Happy.

So I suppose it's fair to say that the whole separation/ parents-hating-each-other/ divorce thing is just another betrayal (maybe the biggest) in a life full of them. By now, you have some amount of perspective. But as you look out through the windows of your self-constructed missile-proof super sonic shield, you can't help hoping that someone worthy would come by and ask you out to play again. And that it's before you've forgotten how to say yes.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

When in Doubt, turn to Poetry

Something has happened. Well, several things actually – I’ve just returned from what was supposed to be a relaxing two-week vacation (it wasn’t) in the UK, my film has finally been released after 3 years in the making (a middling success, I’m told by kind people) and I’m still financially stable (another first) despite having dug deep into my bank balance to fund my trip. And yet, amidst all these big moments, something fundamental has shifted in my life. And this time, I don’t think it’s got much to do with a man.

This time, I think it’s just me.

Just before I left, I was working on a project, my output on which left me convinced that I was a non-starter, creatively speaking. While usually, it’s just a periodic “I’m such crap, why do I bother anyway?” litany going on in my head, this time, I think I’d found a reason for the same – I have no memory for details, and memory is the one essential ingredient for a writer. It was no wonder then that I had nothing to put down on a page which didn’t boil down to worn, oft-repeated clich├ęs.

Contrary to what appears on paper, there is all around me a plethora of drama and humour always in evidence, unique in its own way. For instance, the undercurrents of a family of eight as they manoeuvre the explosive mines of 30 years of familial baggage while on an international vacation, the ineffectual tussle between two grown men as they stagger out of a pub, the cloying groping of a couple as they block my view of a concert. Even the details of simple things like describing the undulating landscape of the Highlands, the excitement of lying on the grass in Hyde Park, soaking in the Sun, the amazing concert where John Mayer, Sheryl Crow and Eric Clapton performed on stage together for a brief few minutes are blurry for me.

What I have come away with is that I love that city, and that it’s the only other city I know that has felt like home. I’ll be hard-pressed to describe the details of the walk through Notting Hill, the beautiful sculptures that seem scattered around the city or what the paid actors said to make “eerie London” come alive for me. But I can evoke the warmth of the sunshine as I sat in Trafalgar Square, stretching out a sore back, and the fear of spending my first five pounds on some trifle, as I quickly did the pound-rupee conversion. And I haven’t even begun to scratch the surface of my experiences.

Nor am I inclined to… which is where the problem is, I think.

That city is a monument to achievement – literary, scientific, political and cultural. And amidst that whole barrage of stimuli and the accompanying discussion about their minutiae, I think I’ve realised that perhaps I won’t make it, that I don’t have it in me after all.

PS: I’d visited Lake District, home to William Wordsworth, where I'd picked up an anthology of his works. Sitting here, as I was listlessly going through it, wondering if I should delete this entire piece, something he wrote caught my eye.

He wrote, “Enough of science and of art, close up these barren leaves, come forth and bring with you a heart, that watches and receives.” This was a low self-esteem, self-pitying, pointless post, until Wordsworth saved it for me. There has to be a lesson in there somewhere, right?

Friday, May 23, 2008


Shall I just jump him, and then see where the cards fall and what, if anything, either of us does about the future, including keeping/abandoning the friendship?

Will this phase of "who am I, where am I going?" ever end? Will I be satisfied with the answers?

Is appreciating a person sufficient substitute for not loving them? Particularly if they love you?

Is not appreciating a person enough reason to leave them? Even if they love you?

Is being a 'mama's boy' more often than being 'my man' a deal breaker?

What does it take to cut up an ex-boyfriend into 300 pieces before packing him up in a bag and strolling out with a big smile? Do guys worry about things like that when they callously mess with their girlfriends?

How does the American populace choose the right American idol and not the right President?

How many of us would dump our current spouses never to look back in the event of a 'one-time-only-no-repurcussions-guaranteed' offer? For all those who raised their hands, what are the repurcussions, the fear of which keeps us together? Is fear a good enough reason to be married?

Would you give up your high-powered career if it meant having a person worthy of you in your life who loves you unendingly, passionately, completely?

Would you give up a person you love if it meant having your career reach dizzying heights of success and fame?

Will starting a new story/post/screenplay ever get easier? Or will I always look for things to do just to delay facing the blinking cursor on a screen?


Monday, May 19, 2008

"You Want Men?" the Universe Laughed

I've been spending a little time thinking about what would make my perfect man - the Mr. Right, if you will. And I think the Universe has pretty much had enough of me whining about it and has chosen to throw a few men in my direction. In the process, the Universe has proven that it has a sick sense of humor.

Let me explain, I know you're holding your breath.

You know what they say about dams bursting? Well, the dam kind of creaked a bit with Vinnie. He's a few years younger than I, inexperienced in the matters of love and heartbreak, and was 'pursuing me' (his words, not mine) from a different city. He was cute, totally my type physically, and spontaneous and fun. For him, this was leap-first-ask-questions-later territory, which is so refreshing in these days of over-mentalisation of everything. Wish I'd kissed him the last (and only) time I saw him. He wishes it too. But distance, and not just the physical kind, keeps me hands-off.

(Why, you ask? Cuz he's a child!!! What's wrong with you readers, have you no morals???)

Then there was Tappa, sweet, adorable, super-bright, affectionate, wannabe-husband-daddy... absolutely wonderful. He makes me feel soft and sweet. Except for almost negligible chemistry from my side, there was no reason for me not to get it on with him. That, and the fact thatI've been kissed better.

Which brings me to Steve. If there was a poll on recent kisses I've shared, he would rate among the top three. But that could also be because I haven't been kissed in a while. That aside, the one time he did kiss me, I was knee-wobbled surprised. And in these days of my fallen standards, that itself would have been enough. That is, if he'd learnt to keep his mouth shut, and let the "tall, brooding" thing weave its magic. I mean it, that boy is an idiot, and proves it everytime he opens his mouth to speak. I read recently that the female sex organ is the brain. Obviously, that piece of information has bypassed him entirely. Pity.

And then ofcourse there's Kosta. He appeals to my sex organ allright. But I'm getting to my wit's end trying to figure out how the hell to snog him. He's totally unapproachable (sexually speaking). And what's worse, he keeps dropping these heavy innuendo-laden bricks around me, but just not when I'm physically in front of him. Oh no, at that time we discuss the world and it's problems and potential solutions. He drives me nut-job wild.

(PS: If Kosta did drop those bricks when I'm in front of him, I'd probably be all tongue-tied and gawky about it. I'm the equivalent of a clutz in a China shop when it comes to 'moments'. Sigh. That's another post, though.)

But what proves irrevocably that the Universe is perverse is this: put these guys together in one package - the youthful passion, the soft affection, the extremely masculine 'you're mine, wench!' attitude and the total mental stimulation - there will be my perfect person.

So I'm wondering, does anyone know the legal position on five-somes (absolutely no pun intended!)?

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

"He loves me, he loves me not...."

He was pretentious, spoke with an accent that had come from few years in USA, and had stayed put over the last eight years he had been back in the country. He held onto that accent, as if he was holding on to that part of his life that held the most promise. But i didn't really mind. He was someone i could laugh with, despite his accent.

But when one starts to tick off "despite this" and "inspite of that", the relationship is doomed before it starts. There are just too many things that one needs to overlook to actually get down to the long arduous process of falling in love. And it is a process.

A friend of mine once told me, "Falling in love is not a feeling, it's a decision." At the time, i scoffed at him, pitied him for his total lack of awareness of the best thing in the world. Two years and several still-born attempts later, I'm inclined to agree with him.

So i decided to fall in love with the at-heart-American. I wasn't doing much else with my life anyway, and he was nice. And then the oddest thing happened - he intrigued me. It's odd because I don't find that happening too often. Normally I'm quick to peg people into certain slots. And they usually don't bother trying to escape from it. But with him, there was something different.

For one, he was quite sexy in a completely hands-off manner. Tall, lean and totally my type. But additionally, he was almost ascetic - the virgin. I was afraid to touch him because I was terrified he would crumble with shock. And yet, I know that he had had his lovers, some whom he had left crushed, and others who had trampled him on their way out. In fact, it could very well be this improbable combination of being fascinated and yet compelled to run away fast that made me stand rooted.

He never made a single move on me. We talked about it - not about making a move on me specifically, but about sex in general - and it was a hugely academic discussion. We could very well have been discussing .... the weather. Oh! And the verbosity of it all. Words one wouldn't normally use in conversation came up all the time. My rusty vocabulary got a new shine, my dumbed-down sentence formation got a new life, and I finally understood a statement I'd been struggling with from the time I was 12 - "Words conceal instead of reveal" - it was the subject of a debate competition. For example, after hours of speaking with him, I still didn't know the answer to my basic question - is he into me or what?

So I started stretching the boundaries. Little by little, I added a bit of the outrageously flirtatious into conversations which he surprisingly responded to in kind, but with an added edge of indulgence. I invited him out to dark cubbyholes which play loud throbbing music and totally suitable for a bit of sin. But, instead of him being the odd one out in that place, he made the whole place odd. I really liked that about him.

It is also one of the first few things that I know will infuriate me endlessly in a longer-than-few-weeks relationship. Other things would include the accent and the verbosity, the annoying way he licks his lips when introspective, his huge phobia of commitment to anything, his shaky career footing, etc etc. That said, I like him, despite myself. THAT, I think, is the biggest problem. After all, how long can liking someone 'despite' myself work?

Oh! And I still don't know if he's into me. The fact that he could be imagining some other woman (or man, yes there IS that tragic possibility too) while I'm plucking petals off some unsuspecting flower is a little disturbing. Actually, just plucking petals off is disturbing enough.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Le Divorce

Over the last few weeks, i've had several things to write about. But everytime i came here, thinking i'd put down a post - another memory in the cybervoid - i wondered, "Is it really that important?" It wasn't. But then, nothing in my blog is. So why stop, eh?

The story is about Children. And Parents. And Marriage and Divorce. Coming from a 'broken family' myself, i'm a little sick and tired of the eyes that widen while hearing a story of another fallen apart marriage, another shaken foundation stone of what should have been a long-term relationship. And then there are the hushed voices that say, "But what about the child?" But i have been guilty of the same, though not for the same reasons.

I recently found myself face-to-face with this exact situation. A very close friend of mine - Damien - told me that he was separating from his wife of four years. I know they have been going through their share of ups and downs over the years, but with the arrival of their bundle of joy a year or so ago, most people assumed that things were limping back to normal.

Not. Because if they had been, he would have not cheated on his wife, he said. So, the simple decision was to end it. My immediate reaction was "You have a son. what about that?" to which he replied, "He's too young." I laughed.

Yes, the child does go through his/her share of trauma. If the kid is old enough, then he/she pretty much is certain that the reason why Mommy and Daddy are fighting is him/her. It must be because he/she asked for the cycle, or doesn't like mushrooms or got a 'can do better' remark from the schoolteacher in the last pages of the school diary. The kid vows to be the best kid ever
if the parents will not fight anymore.

If the kid is a little older, then the battle lines are drawn and he/she is forced - subtly or otherwise - to pick sides. Daddy becomes the 'asshole' or Mommy becomes the 'bitch'. There is
rage, not because the child is really upset about the divorce situation but more because the child can't understand how his parents - the people he loves the most - made him/her pick a side, without a thought to how that would tear him up. And that rage forms a big part of who he/she finally becomes.

Damien was certain that the split would not harm the psyche of his too-young son. But the reason i laughed was because Damien, in all his knowledgable naivete, had no idea what the absence of his kid would do to him. And few people actually stop to think about that.

The way i see it, the reason people go through the whole process of loving, marriage, conception, childbirth and child rearing (the last bit goes on till you die) is to have someone in your life who will never stop belonging. You will always be a parent, the child will always be your child, whom you will always worry about and always love, pretty much unconditionally. But that bond only happens over time, over fights and arguments, and laughs. You become a prototype for the child's moral compass, it imbibes your values, and through the child, you propagate all that you think is good and right in your world. It's a rare chance to shape the future.

The Kid? He'll find alternate role models, strangers who have a say simply by virtue of being around when a child's question - "what does fuck mean?" - needed an adult answer.

The divorce won't screw up the kid as much as it will screw up the parent as he helplessly watches his future become someone else's. My Father didn't know this. I hope Damien does.