Wednesday, December 29, 2010

A Perfect Calm

Like that before a storm, maybe
Or just the eddying lake where the waters from the falls come to rest
Hinting at past tumults, yet comfortable in today's ripples
Taking a breather before the Next Great Shift
There will always be another one
For even as it lies mirror-still
It craves for someone to dive in, shattering its peace
So it can once again strive for quiet.

Perfection is that it's always just a little out of reach.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Why Resolve to be Different when We're Unique?

We are what we feel
We are empty and warm
We are untouched and overwhelmed
Love and indifference, joy and breathlessness
We are what we hear
We are the silence under the clamor
We are the waves of the ocean
We are the notes of music wafting on the breeze
We are the sighs of lovers
Who are choked up and relieved
That there will be another day of meeting
And another day of loss
We are the end of a year
We are the beginning
We are the truth
That nothing and everything changes
And that it's all a constant
We are what we touch
A fevered brow, a cold shoulder
The roughened edges of reality
Damp tears pushed away
We are what we taste
We are acrid and bittersweet
We are sweet and venomous
We are who we are
For better or for worse.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Dating Blind and Poetic

Once upon a time, a girl was interested in a boy. He seemed nice, though how much can one actually know another person through the printed word, right? So she asked him out to a poetry slam in her neighborhood. If he agreed, this would serve as the perfect setting not just in terms of being a public place, and hence safer to meet a total stranger, but also as a spot to discover a bit more about each others artistic and fun leanings.

She Said:

So, there's a Poetry slam being hosted in Bandra. You wanna go?

He Said:

Poetry and me?
Kiddin thy must be
Although fine I am with the time,
Dont think I can stand the rhyme
Now before you judge me as a creep
I will come, but you have to let me sleep
Better still let us give this a pass
And opt for History of India by Vir Das
But seriously, Dec.6th to 11th busy I am,
So gotta skip this poetry grand slam
The 16th onwards, a lot of time I have free,
So lets start with a 1am drive to Fariyas for coffee

And this is when things got interesting.

She Said:

Your words of rhyme
Are a surprising facet indeed
But if not the poetry slam
The History of India, it shall be
And midnight drives, to Lonavala or closer
Will have to wait till i know you better
Cuz I am a damsel, secure i must be
That you're not on an axe-murdering spree

He Said:

An axe-murderere or a psycho, I am surely not to be
But from a damsel's point of view, the logic do I see
So final it is for Vir Das, as the poetry would've made me slumber
And lastly where do we meet and what is your number

She Said:

We will meet where the show is being played
If you tell me when, I'll try not to be delayed
You know my face, and I know your name
Let's pick a spot so we can meet before the same
And if all goes well, and neither is a schlep
A phone number will definitely be the next step

He Said:

I gotta find Tata hall, where the show is hosted
In that great effort my mind will be toasted
And then to imagine a place where we shall meet
Based on a single photo, is quite a feat
Now if you are so paranoid to even give a number
For me to drive to Nariman point, would seem even dumber
If one is a dud and we already plan a flight
Then too much effort let us not put, as a hindsight
Plan something in Juhu/Andheri, boring it may be
If interested are we, then further we can see
So I propose an alternative, to which you are already privy
A bottle of wine, at Versova Ivy


She Said:

If you were to drive, so had I
If an effort had to be made, it was yours and mine
If a 'boring' evening is the best that you can envisage
Then the day is done, even before we start
My safety nets are mine, maybe flimsy at best
If you can't see that, then you failed the test.
And, umm.. if your plan was for tonight, then it was really bad timing
Because a lady needs notice, not a couple of hours of rhyming.

He Said:

One thing is for sure, I do not want to be tested
Although backflips you might do, to keep me interested
Your logic is true and by your safety nets I do abide
But makes no sense for the effort, if your number you cannot confide
Drink we can one and evaluate before we have another
If I can slip away and be home to watch 'How I met your mother'
So the best bet would be the wine bar, if the same is your will
The message you would get clear, if I leave you to pay the bill

Ok, so this is suddenly sounding not so nice...

She Said:

Charming. And yeah, let's not. Enjoy the show - both on TV and on stage. Goodbye

He Said:

I thought you were cool and knew I was kidding
But interesting you are, so I gotta do your bidding
So how about we finally stop this debate
And meet tomorrow, maybe at eight?
I have your pic and you have mine
I'll call out to the one who looks so divine
Now I gotta run and get back to my office
So await will I your reply and stop this maska polish

She Said:

You're probably interesting too, but i sense a brewing skirmish
It's a chemical misfit i think, not maska polish
What was supposed to be a stress-free encounter
Is now looking like uncharted potential disaster
Poetry is great because it reveals feelings better than prose
While one concentrates on rhyming, one's attitude clearly shows
So maybe you're right, i don't have a sense of humour
Or maybe it's you, who's managed to scare off a stranger
So best to leave this be, no harm, no foul
A pity really, but no point taking it personally at all.

He Said:

Agreed. It was nice whatever has transpired.
And no further mails for this is required.

And they lived happily ever after :-)

This too shall pass... And it did.

Remember my "Marriage"? Yeah, it's over.

The only lessons that i can actually take away from it are these:

a) Pay attention to your instincts. They're the only ones looking out for you. And regardless of every other wisdom you have, your instincts are almost always spot on.

b) It's not supposed to be this hard. Ever. The Law of Nature is to pick the easiest route possible. That's why water moves towards gravity, not against it. That is why, with enough friction, all moving objects come to a halt. Because that's the law of Inertia. Predators kill off the weakest in the herd of prey - because it's the Law of the Jungle. Easy DOES do it.

c) It takes two people to screw something up. Not because either of you are bad, or inept. But just that the chemistry is all wrong. One carbon atom will bond with only two oxygen atoms - not less or more - to form a stable compound, and Helium won't bond with anything. It's just how it is.

d) We need to have break-up etiquette classes as part of compulsory education.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

"If Kipling Wrote about Relationships..."

If you can laugh easily but not AT people
If you can drink, but not make drinking your aim
If you can smoke, but step away from chemicals and hallucinogens
And treat those two social lubricants just the same
If you believe that our lives are touched by magic
But not expect magic to do the laundry and dishes
If you think fast cars with rocket fuel engines are cool
And yet, can still drive within the speed limit
If you can accept a grudgingly offered apology
Or even one where not a single word is exchanged
And know that you have won this round
But be graceful enough to not rub someone's face in it
If expensive candle-lit dinners and romantic vacations are you
And movie, pizza and beer moments are possible too
If you have passion and love for something outside of you
That is not going according to plan
And there's nothing there to keep you going
except a will that says "Hold on", so you stay,
and work on it for another day
If you truly believe in a happily ever after
And that it's a goal worth working towards
Then yours will be the greatest love story possible
And which is more, it isn't far, my friend

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

In the final analysis...

Meg died. Brother got married. SN, my director, died. About 5 other people got married. My cousin got pregnant. A few more people died. Sony Mony changed her whole career profile. My FRIEND got pregnant. People are still getting married. KayC moved to a whole different country.

I bought a car.

Looking around me, i see people taking huge strides in their personal lives. They're moving on, doing the thing, living the life.

I - buy a car.

This has been a year of major upheaval for a lot of people i know. Things have dramatically been shaken up for them to reveal new, different and possibly more rewarding paths.

Me? I bought a car. Oh, and a TV.


Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Wish I Was Elsewhere

Ayn Rand wrote "Fountainhead", a fantastic book where she explained concepts of achievement and mediocrity through characters such as Howard Roark - as the striving for personal excellence, Peter Keating as the clueless yet exalted mediocre and Ellsworth Toohey, as the one who knows the difference and maliciously encourages the latter.

I watched this film - "Robot". Not to be confused with Isaac Asimov's "I, Robot" (now a major Hollywood motion picture starring Will Smith). This can be called Rajnikanth, Robot. Or Rajnikanth, Terminator. Or Rajnikanth, Mask. Or Rajnikanth, Bicentennial Man. Or Rajnikanth, Rubbish.

After 3 hours of relentless exposure to its gamma rays, I want to kill myself now. Not because it's a film that i wish i had made, or that i feel inadequate (I wish!). It's because i'm surrounded by people who are raving about this regressive piece-of-shit work... and the only reason can be that it's too socially uncool to do otherwise.

Themes covered in this film:

a) A perfectly understandable cause of suicide/mortification is being rescued naked from a burning building. In a choice between life and modesty, it's best to choose modesty.

b) It's all right to be almost-gang raped by your neighbors and then, a few screenshots later, look at them smugly across your balcony because "Heh heh, my pet Robot beat you! Nyah nyah nyaa nyaaaaaah nyaah." Don't involve the cops, don't stand up for yourself... just get a robot.

c) And now that you have a robot, it's okay to use it to beat up people in your neighborhood just because they annoy you, cheat in an exam that will determine if you are fit to be a doctor... oh, and speak to mosquitoes!

d) All robots - and machines really - can be taught emotions through speed-reading of self-help books and a healthy shot of lightning. And voila, we have a robot that is insane with lust and irrationality. Oh, and also a quivering lump of pathetic because "he's in love".

e) There is a species called Robo-Erectus. Half human, half machine with gobble-de-gook scientific claptrap explaining how metal molecules will fuse with human DNA through the act of a human copulating with.. yes, the robot who is now erectus.

f) It seems robots can be created but not destroyed. Even when completely dismantled, and powered off, and thrown into an out-of-town garbage dump (yes, because our scientists are smart enough to create an android, but still can't sort out the pesky problem of effective recycling and disposal), at the end of the day, the robot can still find its parts amidst the mile long garbage heap, and it can still speak to humans from behind plexiglass. Robots thus are beyond the laws of physics.

It's sad that the only thing to commend this cult film that has crossed all the usual boundaries of language and star power, is the computer graphics and animation team that is entirely from Los Angeles.

As a filmmaker, I'm really depressed that this garbage perhaps is the real standard i have to hold myself to.

Maybe Peter Keating is the real hero in this world. And maybe we're all Ellsworth Toohey.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

It's Not Me, It's You

Someone told me recently that i was emotionally unavailable. To him and others who agree, here's what i have to say:

Go to hell. That emotional enough for you?

Before you sit on that little high horse and tell me all that i'm doing wrong and how it is my emotional unavailability that is attracting the kind of people it is, look back at your life and find me moments when i haven't been 'emotionally' available to you. I've been there to sit and bat the breeze in the middle of working days, i've been there to listen and talk till 5 am in the morning, i've always been available to go out - to a dinner or a movie, i've kept your awful secrets and loved you regardless, i've always picked up the phone and spoken to you whenever you have called, i've gone out of my way and called in favors for you, i've made a fool of myself to amuse you, i've respected your privacy and given you space whenever you have asked for it, I've helped you with your work, i've forced you to celebrate life guilt-free after a year of seeing someone die, I've welcomed you into my home, and i've held you when your world shattered.

And here's the truth - when i was hanging out in the middle of the workday, i could have been working and meeting my deadlines instead of staying up till 4 to make up for lost time! when i listen to you till 5 am, i could be easily sleeping and getting ready for my early morning appointment! when i go out with you at a moment's notice, i could be going out with anyone else, or sitting at home reading a book or watching back episodes of House; i could blab about your secrets or just shut you down under a barrage of guilt-driven morality trumpets, i could just not answer my phone and say "my phone was on silent mode" or "i hate talking to people so text or be gone" (responses to when my calls have gone unanswered - and i'm glad because you sometimes don't even bother coming back with a reason).

And you say, "People need to hear that you care about them." Sweety, if i didn't give a shit, you sure as hell won't be the person feeling secure enough in our friendship to be able to tell me some "home truths". It's because you know i care about you that you can talk to me about your shit, know that i'll be there at the other end of the line for as long as you need. And after all that you say, "You should call more often." Hmm. I HAVE called when i've needed YOU. When i'm about to down a bottle of pills, you've been in a meeting. When i've really really wanted to do something, you haven't been in the mood or you've pulled me to do what you want. When i've wanted help with work, you've been evasive. When i've been desperately unhappy, you've told me to "get over it". And i have sucked it up and put on my happy face because i've sensed you coming to the end of your tether.

So i've learned to not lean on you too much. I believe that the time you give me is precious and it's a privilege - so i will not burden it with phonecalls about the minuitiae of my life because, let's face it, we all have those. And over the last 12 years that i've lived on my own, with my family too far away to help or even be physically available, and my friends in different parts of the world, and my boyfriends leeching the lifeblood out of me, and jobs that have been earned without family recommendations or contacts, and pregnancies that have been dealt with, and illnesses that have been borne alone, etc etc i've learned to sort out my own shit.

Now here's also something i know - maybe you need to be needed, and you figure i don't need you. The truth is, i Do. And I know that in a hundred different ways you have been there for me. I recognize that and i love it. I'm careful with it. I don't call you emotionally unavailable when i clearly see so much evidence to the contrary. But i also know that if you're not there for me, i'll be okay. It's been training my life has given me. But i do WANT you, not for what you can do for me or how you can be useful to me, but because i genuinely like you, that you are an amazing person in your own self, regardless of whether i may benefit from you, and I love the fact that i'm allowed a peek into your life. That i shall always be there for you, even if you are unable to return the favor sometimes. It's unfortunate you don't understand what a huge compliment i'm paying you.

So instead, i write.

PS: If I'm attracting mirrors who reflect my emotionally barren life, what does that say about you?

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Li'l Miss Psychopath?

Over the last few weeks i've been asking myself if i'm perhaps borderline psychopathic. The term came into common, everyday use with the episodes of Dexter (what a show, right?!?), but these days i find myself looking inward quite a bit. The thing is - i don't feel much of any emotion really. Yes, i have cried tears while watching a film - mostly about peoples' solitude and its various expressions - because somewhere it obviously touches a chord. And ofcourse i feel irritation and anger, and i find humour in situations. But it's all 'in the moment'.. as in, i don't think there's any... sentimentality?.. linked to the people or the occasion. Sometimes i think that maybe because i'm so acutely aware of my aloneness is why i may have gone to the other extreme and shut off my sensory valves.

It all came to a head one day when i decided to watch a favorite band play. I invited about 8 people to come along. ALL of them cancelled, and mostly for perfectly legitimate reasons too. One wasn't well, two were out of town, one's friend had recently died, one was at work. But there were a few who were just out of line (or maybe i felt that way because i so really wanted to go for the show and i hardly ever impose on my friends to do anything!) - one who forgot to return a phonecall to confirm his attendance and the other - Vinter - with whom the conversation went something like this:

Vinter: Just got back home

Me: Great. I'm still at my edit, So why don't i see you directly at the venue..?

Vinter: Oh.. umm.. by what time will you be done?

Me: I'm almost done, it'll just take me a really long time to get back home, pick you up and then head out...

Vinter: Oh.. you know the traffic is a nightmare..

Me: Yeah i know, i'll be facing it too

Vinter: Umm.. You've got company right? Apart from me?

Me: Nope..

(a pause)

Me: But listen, if you're not upto it, it's fine..

Vinter: Really? If you want i'll come

Me: Yes ofcourse i want you to come (that's why i invited you a week ago, right?) but if you don't want to, then that's ok..

Vinter: Umm..

Me: So..?

Vinter: Well, if you're giving me an out, i'll take it

Me: ofcourse you will.. allrighty, gotta go.

And I used to count her among my closer friends. Notice the past tense? I figure if a friend takes an out that is there, then what makes her any different from the thousand of other acquaintances i have?

Lately, i find myself referring to a few other close friends as 'acquaintances'. Sony Mony who, through her own admission, was using me for my 'talents and contacts' to further the reach of her business. Her exact words were, "Have i chosen the wrong person to ask to do something for me?" To put this in some kind of context - I was helping Sony Mony create written material for her business - ideas, presentations, workshops, etc. It was mostly as a favor. Then, when i'd forgotten to mail her something, she called me out of the blue and went on the offensive. Not good. When Baz Luhrmann said about some unexpected things coming at you at 4 pm on a tuesday afternoon - this is what he meant. After 2 weeks of the silent treatment, i finally broke and asked her if she ever wanted to discuss what had happened that afternoon of her unprovoked outburst and she said, 'Really? I hadn't even noticed that anything had happened." Well, if i haven't been missed, then i guess i'm not that important. Why make someone a priority when you're just an option, right? So, that's another "good friendship" that got tossed out.

The thing is - apart from a mild irritation (like a burr in the bonnet) and a sense of injury - i don't really miss either of them. They hail me every now and then and i'm always polite, but... it's gone. On good days i figure that it's just deadwood that's been sloughed off - people who treat you badly do not deserve the consideration that they have been receiving. On other days, i wonder if i'm a psychopath - unfeeling, untouched, destined to be alone forever - and maybe just a little too stringent in my standards of friendship.

And then i wonder, if the true mark of a fulfilled life is how you are, how you love, how you treat yourself and the people around you, then am i screwing up irredeemably?

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Lessons from my "Marriage"

So sometimes i take life's really big steps as an experiment on myself. I do it with a slight sense of anxiety but mostly it is a "WTF" moment followed immediately with a "How bad can it possibly get?" and ending with a "One can always leave" reminder. This is not to say that one wants to leave, but a lot of the bravery comes from knowing that one does have that option.

I'm talking about my arranged "marriage". There's no other way to look at it. Some people call it "love and arranged".. in my case it was (apart from the above mentioned thoughts) "Kinda Like, Let's See Where it Goes." It was my first business venture in a partnership.

I started a company with my long-time acquaintance-friend. Honestly speaking, i'm usually one of the first people waving the red flags when it comes to working with friends. Apart from the usual problems of different temperaments and things getting sour over issues of money, work ethic, commitment - in a boy-girl partnership, there's also the niggling undercurrent of romantic-sexual tension/expectations.

And this is what i learned:

a) you never know what a person is really like until you start working with them - in a company or in a marriage. No amount of theory or "pre-nup" contracts does anything to ease the actual pain of adjusting to another person's baggage.

b) there is no thing as an equal partnership. One is always the child, the other is always the grown up. Once in a while, you may switch roles, and be happy to do so, but the majority of the time, one is throwing a tantrum, the other is counting to ten.

c) No matter what anyone says, there's always a subconscious testing of depth - depth of love, depth of trust, depth of support, how much is too much, why is too much "too much", keeping track of the wounds - real and imagined, and ofcourse - the retribution.

d) Money is an important thing. Doesn't mean you have to have a lot of it, but you do need so much that you don't mind parting with a bit of it to oil the wheels of togetherness. Whenever i say this, i have the idealistic light go on in my friends' eyes and their mouths start saying things like "money doesn't buy happiness" and "money is hollow" and "i don't believe in money." For them i have this to say: the romantic coffee, the walk in the sunset on empty white beaches, the candle lit dinner, the surprise small gifts - ALL of it is MONEY. There is more ofcourse. But there IS money.

e) Love is the other thing. Not just for each other - though that is important. But i think between people, LIKE and RESPECT are much more crucial. LOVE is for something that the two of you are working towards. It could be a company, a common future vision, family, live music, old hindi songs, antique curios, making home made wine, etc. To love something, and to work on it with someone you like and respect and yes, love too, is the kind of heady experience that is hard to duplicate with anyone else. If that is not there, then the focus shifts to how much the individual is gaining out of this partnership - and that's bad news because there's no end to individual greed and delusions of worth. A partnership works only when, in its entirety, it is greater than the sum of its parts.

f) Communication.. ah, that nightmare. Don't get me wrong, i've read the books and heard the chat shows that go on about it. But, let's admit it, communication is very hard to do. Sure, in an ideal world, all of us would be able to express ourselves in a clear and concise manner (without sitting on a therapist's couch) where we shall be understood for our good intentions and even better content, by an audience that is totally receptive to us. That's a Utopian illusion. In truth, in any relationship, at that critical time, the right word or the right phrase escapes us, but we blather on regardless, usually causing hurt and offense. And this without even considering the labyrinth of non-verbal cues that one has to navigate to get to some modicum of understanding. There's no real solution except to keep at it until we get it close to adequate.

g) Every partnership is fraught with conflict situations. Time, family, deadlines, work, even sheer lazyness sometimes bring us into "unstoppable force meets immovable object" zone. These conflicts - small or big - are exhausting. Inevitably, we become more discerning and pick our battles, choosing which ones are really the ones that are critical to our continued presence. These are the compromises one makes - all for the future goal that we love. This is not a bad thing. Successful war strategists down the ages have employed this very 'forward and retreat' approach to gather some of the world's greatest riches. We compromise on defending our ideals simply because we don't have the energy to do otherwise while struggling to get to our Goal. Between reaching our Goal with our partner (who's crucial to the exercise), and spending our energy fighting every battle, we choose to survive and fight another day. This is Good.

h) However, there are days when anger, irritation and resentment - mostly about the many compromises we have made - threaten to tip us over. Many many times when walking out is just a heartbeat away. At times like this, communication is also clearly not an option. This is when S P A C E is the only saving grace. This space could be a separate room, a crowded club, a really loud opera concert you listen to full blast on your headphones. The only rule is - this is where you go to shut out your partner. No phone calls. No long emotional texts. In this day of e-communication, mails and texts suffice to provide factual data to make the day or the work continue. This is also a good thing because it allows all the eddied emotional waters to settle and be calmed again before you address them. Hopefully with better results.

i) You find yourself constantly Re-EVALUATING the partnership. You wonder if all the effort and nonsense - and there is a LOT of both - is worth the "goal" you love. This is again a good thing. It also needs to be a highly individual thing. Your partner will not change. S/he has spent the last many years of her/his life becoming who s/he is, has successfully avoided changing for the 5000 or more people s/he met before you. The reason s/he thinks you're special is because you probably came closest to accepting her/him for who s/he is. Things won't become better or worse with a new partner - just another version of the same thing.

J) And now i finally come to the sex part, which in a business context, becomes 'playfulness' or 'fun'. You have to be able to have fun with your partner. It need not always be the whole start-to-finish-asm, but there must be a certain lightness - of touch and of heart - that makes every day that much easier to get through. It's the barometer of our personal happiness and is crucial.

Recently, i completed two years of my partnership. Today was a bad day. But after writing this, i think i'm ready for Round 7659809.


Tuesday, August 31, 2010

In Another Life

Lately i've been thinking about all the people splitting up around me, walking around with broken hearts, wondering if they'll ever get better, ever get fixed.

Next time you shall smile at me
Your jokes shall make me laugh
Holding hands will be my thing
To do with you wherever we're at
Next time you shall look deep
Into my eyes and see us together
My words will hold you wrapped entranced
As we spin our tales forever

We shall not hide in our shadows
fearful of the others gaze
we shall not shut our eyes
afraid to see the hurt face
We shall not watch early affection
bloom into casual indifference
we shall reach out to each other
and not flinch when the other reaches out too

This life we disappointed ourselves
We weren't all that we could be
We didn't trust our safety nets
we didn't even try to fly free
Our excuses never came up to scratch
But we clung to them like you once clung to me

So maybe this time we got it wrong
every decision was a mess
Each wound was wrongly caused
Every apology was a fake
but i know that we can get it right
you've gotta feel it too..
The only choice i think i have
Is to start again, in another life,
Just me and you...

Going Out

So i've been dabbling with the art of poetry. It's a bit different from my usual prosetic rants about life, loves and everything in between. Also, all this is already on the ubiquitous Facebook... but despite that i'm plagued by thoughts of the website shutting down suddenly and all my writing disappearing with it. Which makes me think about backing up this site too. Ah, paranoia.

The stage is set
the whistle blown
the time has come
to put on the show
wearing a costume
A suit and a smile
we step out of the wings
And start to speak our lines
The rehearsals were many
the actors parts all known
one plays the pauper
one sits on the throne
and the jester of the lot
has his tales often told
the lights come up
the applause is tumultous
the calls for an encore
are nothing if not tortuous
for our jobs are done
this show is over
we were the audience
we are the players.

High Time

We've been together for many years now
a life that has seen many ups, a few downs
Often a snail moved faster
But sometimes i wished we had slowed down
Now i think it's finally time you and i moved on

I have loved you for as long as i've known
You gave me wings and taught me how to float
You showed me the stars, even let me reach the top of the tree
But now i know that its time for me to leave

I don't have a plan, there is no one else
And a shit load to pack up from life's forgotten shelves
Items carried with care now devoid of meaning
Not even much feeling left unless you count that little excited tingling

You'll maybe shed a tear and shrug your shoulders, resigned
Promise even to keep a few things to remember me by
But in truth we'll move on fast enough,
Probably before i finish this maudlin Goodbye

All I Need to Know I Learned at Computer Solitaire

Yes, I do spend a lot of time at my computer. Yes, I often click open Freecell or Solitaire for breaks. Yes, that makes me a bit of a nerd.

But, given all that, i have to say that life lessons are all around you if one would only care to look. So here are a few that Solitaire seems to be trying to tell me - Solitaire's Ten Commandments i suppose.

a) Every hand is a good hand. It's the hand you're dealt. But a part of it is left upto chance. So breathe easy, it's not all in your control anyway (whew!)

b) Opportunities come at you often, probably in threes (who knows?). But you do have to click on them for them to show up. Basically, you need to put in a little bit of effort to let Life know you're ready to play.

c) What you do with these new cards however depends on a combination of the cards that you have been dealt and how well you spot the new ones. Pay a little attention.

d) Once a new card opens for you and you take it, it pretty much ensures that the previous opportunities will never come back to you in the way they did earlier. Maybe they'll come back later when you're better prepared for it. Maybe not. Either ways, each choice you make has far reaching consequences.

e) Sometimes we'd play a card and then a better card would come along and we'd find ourselves saying, 'Damn! I shouldn't have done (whatever) and then (something) wouldn't have happened and then i'll be able to get (whatever new shiny thing that has my fancy at this moment)!" Sorry kiddo, it just wasn't dealt that way. Don't take it personally.

f) You have to constantly rearrange the cards that you have been dealt to make space for new cards. You have to stack them in their correct order, or they don't move. Once you do, they all kind of effortlessly fall into place in their designated little spaces on top. And thus, you create space for the new opportunities every card brings to you.

g) If not a single new card that has opened works for you, well... Game Over. That is also the nature of the game - some hands aren't meant to be played. But you still need to have played it to know that.

h) However, if there is even a single card that is useful but which you haven't picked up, the game doesn't end until you do. Basically, it isn't game over until you squeeze the last drop of juice from every usable opportunity - jobs, people, chance encounters - that is presented to you.

i) I think most versions still have only one "undo" option. So make amends while you still can, because if you move too far, returning to the point of offence may be impossible. So "undo" while you can, and delay "Game Over" so that there's an option of "Game Won".

j) It's just a game. The only thing you have to do is play. With every Game Over, there's the option of Play Again. And you will get better at it.

PS: My current win rate at Computer Solitaire is 16%. So it's likely i'm wrong about everything.

PPS: It's also likely I spend too much time staring at my screen and maybe should get some semblance of a real life.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The Lives that Rock

What is it about a little piece of music that unites nations, credos and even lives? To watch a group of people give their all for music, for a lyric, a guitar riff, a perfect symphony - that they have done nothing for maybe except listened to... It's truly the closest feeling that i have ever had to religion.

Just watched "The Boat That Rocked." A bunch of pirate DJs that broadcast the best music of the time from a ship that, when the time came, they went down with. Very Titanic. All for songs that made them feel like something was really truly worth it.

I love live music nights. To feel the energy pulsating off a stage as the people on it give their hearts to putting the notes together, the euphoric drumbeats as they take our pulse up many notches, the arrogant guitar solos, the soulful smoky voices that pluck our heartstrings, the melancholy piano... I love music.. but i love musicians more.

To be able to create or even recreate a bit of soul with melody that speaks to us of feelings long denied, to be able to fearlessly show passion for squiggles on a sheet that, if only one could read, would transform the world into one of constant beauty and wonder.. to be able to speak to my heart without uttering a word..

That is why i love you... not because you can play the guitar and look like Kurt Cobain. But because you get it.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Boy Meets Girl 101

Listen up everybody, i need to make a point here - a point i didn't think i'd have to make because of the totally obvious nature of it - but it seems that in the mish-mash of intersecting messages that the media and our increasingly chaotic childhoods are bringing us, it's almost essential.

When we like a boy, in truth, we like the Man we see him becoming. I say this because it means something to be "manly". It implies strength, integrity, a sense of power within the world.. it means someone who can be depended upon to look after us. This isn't very feministic of me, but political correctness be damned. And any woman who says that she doesn't want to feel truly safe, cherished and loved by her man is a truly blind person lying to herself.

Trust me, it took me a while to come to this understanding of the situation. I pride myself on being an independent woman - mentally as well as financially. I don't "need" a man, but gosh! i do want him! And not the hammed up roles of 21st century butter-fingered vulnerable dishrags either - i mean a real man, someone who is strong for the woman, who looks after her, is there for her...

... not someone begging for "understanding" of his manic-depressive behavior because he fucked something up to begin with!

I met this guy - let's call him Veeks - and, on a work-date type thing, he seemed fine. We talked about our respective jobs, and how there could be a possible cohesion of interests on a few projects. Then he orders dinner - at a nice place - and walks out without paying! Call me weird but i don't think that kind of thing is cool. What's the greatness in getting some poor employee into trouble with the management? Strike One.

Then, the next day he starts incessantly texting me and starts asking me questions like "so i guess you don't believe in god" and "tell me your birthdate - indian and western".. etc. HUH??? I mean, dude! i just met you. I didn't even know there are two birthdays to reckon with. and it's none of your business if i believe in god or mud. As a crowning touch to that flurry of space-invasive messages, he sends me mail on "breathing exercises that i MUST do to get in touch with my body's energy". Uhm.. thanks, but my regular energy level is fine which you would have known had we even touched upon this area of highly personal introspection ever. Strike Two.

Then i meet him for coffee where he lays bare for me the last 10 years of his life - a committed relationship, a great business, etc - which he had all left without a backward glance just a few months ago. Basically telling me that he was broke, on the rebound and seemingly casual about all of it. Now tell me something - at a business interview, would you be telling your prospective employer details about how you screwed up at your last job??? Why is your personal life to be dealt with lesser delicacy? And all because i asked him the question "So... what brings you here?" I meant "sitting across from me after haranguing me for a few days with offers of coffee" and which he obviously took to mean his great philosophical journey as an adult. I should have been more specific. That was Date Two.

And then finally, the next day, he sends me a text. "I'm in the dumps. feeling depressed. and i thought of you." Is that, by any chance, supposed to make me feel good??? That you feel comfortable enough to "share your mood swings" with me already? Why don't you just land up wearing your boxers and scratching your ass the next time we meet? I'm so pissed off with these oh-so-sensitive heart-on-your-sleeves spirit-sucking vampires who these days are passing themselves off as "men". What happened to the famed strength? The resolute control? Needless to say, that was Strike Three.

So here's my perspective on the dating thing: Assume you're applying for a job that gives you benefits such as regular sex, TLC during sick days, a dedicated partner to share some of the most boring chores and some of the best laughs. The interview is the tough part - which occurs over a few "dates". During this time, you reveal parts of you that are trustworthy, dependable, a team-worker, etc. Then the group discussion, where you're invited to be a part of the friend / family circle and where you show charm, ease of adaptability, trustworthiness and dependability. Finally, if you clear these hurdles, you get the jackpot - trust, respect, honesty and love.

But even then, there's a basic rule - like a preferred customer in a neighborhood bank, you may withdraw love and attention and care ONLY if you have deposited enough to begin with. Sometimes an overdraft may be allowed, but only if it is returned with a little extra interest.

The principles of banking and employment are so simple, kids start learning them in primary school. Why can't love and respect - something that no one else can do for them and which will inform every human relationship they ever form - be taught too?

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Missed You

If there was a Craigslist kind of thing in Mumbai, this is what i would be writing in the Missed Connections section:

You - in a purple tie-dye kurta and a backpack
Me - in a purple beaded top and blue jeans
At the Landmark store, going through the DVD titles
You - of live action films
Me - of animated features
while we both mini-bee-bopped to the muzak and i wondered if you'd like to maybe watch a film, while i nuzzle your neck and drown in the musky aftershave you use as you shave around your cute goatee that just goes to accentuate your perfect jawline and the ironic lips, while you marveled at how perfectly my body fit yours and how you don't ever want to let go.

You're probably 24. That would make me a student of the Cougar school of thought.


Sunday, February 14, 2010

When Love and Hate Collide...

Megan was a friend of mine. She was always surrounded by people who were only too glad to shower on her the attention she demanded. She shamelessly pouted, smiled and sulked her way into every person’s consciousness. And as soon as the object of her attention surrendered to her charms, she grinned at the mission accomplished. I always assumed that we were too old for “best friend” nomenclature. I found that it limited me. I felt threatened by its meaning on my life. But she said it out loud. She made no bones about being my friend, about holding me above and beyond any other friend. She proved it often enough too.

I always thought I was immune to her moves, indulgent of her need for attention and love, gladly giving her both, but knowing somewhere that she wouldn’t get to me. And then she died.

For the record, there’s nothing like death to lend some perspective on your own life. It’s not always a great perspective. You see, i find myself hating her and the cheap trick she pulled with her death. Because more than anything, i realise that over the last decade that i spent with her, she had somehow managed to get under my skin.

At first, not knowing what my anger was about, i directed it straight at her family. They made a decision to pull her off life support, and i hung all my indignation on the fact that they hadn’t consulted with her... that no one knew whether she was ready to go, regardless of how correct the decision was, how hopeless the medical situation had become. In her death, as in her life, control had been wrested from her.

Yesterday, i visited her family. I was there with friends , most of whom i’d made because of her. Her family welcomed me as one of their own. We held each other like lost souls clinging to each other to provide a life raft for all of us. And i realised that they didn’t deserve my anger, indeed that my anger had never been about them at all. The first clue i had of this was when, at the memorial service, i found i couldn’t even look at her photograph, her smiling face, her happy expression. Because i found that i was angry – not with her family, not with “God”... but with her. I hated her.

A decade ago, she found me at a time when i was young, strong, attractive, healthy. Sure, I had a family that hadn’t seen or communicated with each other for years, i’d never had a boyfriend, had a bad self-image and was determined to hurt and break as many things as i could on my way to growing out of my cage of self-loathing. I didn’t need anyone or anything, had no intention of picking up lost strays, least of all someone who laid claim to my friendship as if it was hers. And yet, there she was, depite everything.

Sitting at her memorial, while a ridiculous hymn went on in the background, I finally saw the truth of something - she saw the best in me. She was in my corner regardless of anything that happened. She believed in my nobility, in my honesty, in my strength and vulnerability. She was the only person in my life, who had met my entire dysfunctional family (step-family included), even though the dysfunctional family itself hadn’t met each other. She knew all my boyfriends, knew what i felt about them, knew why i had hurt them, and hated them for hurting me. Everyone knows that you can’t tell your parents everything, and that you can’t tell your friends somethings either. There are times when your family can really get you down, there are times when your friends shun you... Through all those times, she was there, telling me that she loved me, will always love me, will always believe in my heart, in my goodness. She somehow connected all the disconnected parts of my world. At a time when i functioned from the belief that nothing lasts, she earned my trust, one molecule at a time, until i came to believe that she would always be there... that she would always last.

And now she’s gone. I never asked to depend on her. I didn’t need her. She forced me to care, she forced me to open up my life and include her in it... Only to take off herself. She saw me at my best and believed in it, more than me. And now i hate her, because with her gone, and all my very specific history with her erased, no one else will know the minutiae of me again... or believe that i used to be unscarred, or know the story behind each of those scars and still believe that i deserve and am able to be loved and cherished... She spoiled me. I hate her for that.