30.12.09

Summary (seems appropriate).

1. What did you do in 2009 that you'd never done before?
·          Finished school
·          Taught the piano
·          Started college
·          Moved to a new city to live on my own
·          Went on a long holiday by myself
·          Turned eighteen, though that’s nearly over now.
·          Uh, several other things which I can’t actually write on a public forum.

2. Did you keep your new years resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

I never make resolutions at New Year. I like starting the year off on a happy note. Giving up bad habits would not make me happy.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

No.

4. Did anyone close to you die?

Yes.

5. What countries did you visit?

I travelled a lot within India, but outside just Malaysia and Indonesia.

6. What would you like to have in 2010 that you lacked in 2009?

A stable mind and inner peace, perhaps? Also cheaper alcohol.

7. What date from 2009 will remain etched upon your memory and why?

No date in particular, but time slots. The first half of the year for leaving school and embarking on my Amazing Holiday and coming home to a fabulous summer. The second half, for getting into the college of my choice and moving to Delhi and living on my own.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Not failing at anything I set out to do.

9. What was your biggest failure?

Hm. Maybe selfishness? Yeah. Selfishness.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

Nothing apart from the usual falling into a ditch.

12. Whose behaviour merited celebration?


Daddy, for switching to bidis instead of smoking cigarettes though I’m not sure whether this is because of a vague attempt to be semi health conscious or because he’s cheap. My brother, for doing so well at work even though he loathes his job. Mama, for being the strongest, most selfless person I know.

13. Whose behaviour made you appalled and depressed?

HAH! I would love to mention several people but I can’t.

14. Where did most of your money go?

Cigarettes. Alcohol. Autos.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?

The whole school/college saga, the trip to KL and Bali (and the tan), Delhi, the Jaipur wedding, and this Christmas (which has so far lived up to my expectations)

16. What song will always remind you of 2009?


Can’t think of one offhand. Oh alright, I can. But I don’t want to tell you.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you happier or sadder?


Both.

19. What do you wish you'd done more of?

Nothing really.

20. What do you wish you'd done less of?

Smoking, biting fingernails, cutting off hair.

21. How will you be spending Christmas?

Christmas is over. I saw it in with drunken friends (after the obligatory carol singing and mulled wine with family) and then I spent the day with family and more wine and Articulate and turkey and mince pies and basically the way Christmas should be spent.

22. Did you fall in love in 2009?

Uh uh.

23. How many one night stands?

Lalalala.

24. What was your favourite TV programme?

Gossip Girl and no, I’m not ashamed.

26. What was the best book you read?


Quite a few, but Seth’s An Equal Music, Cartography (thanks Naomi), Divakaruni’s Palace of Illusions and Lessing’s The Golden Notebook spring to mind.

27. What was your greatest musical discovery?

I discovered my voice is really as bad as everyone always said it was, and that I’m a good piano teacher.

28. What did you want and get?

I think I got almost everything I wanted.

29. What did you want and not get?

More meat.

30. What was your favourite film of this year?

Going by films I’ve SEEN this year, not the ones that necessarily came out, I’d say The Reader, Schindler’s List, Big Fish, Stage Beauty, The Pianist- okay, it’s a long list. I saw a lot of good films this year courtesy Proiti M. And to be honest, The Ugly Truth would be up there on the favourite list too (must see for Man Whores).

31. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

I had a huge party (joint with Min) on the Outside Terrace. Turned eighteen.

32. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

Six months in Bali instead of ten days, friends like Min and Aditya joining DU.  

34. What kept you sane?

My extreme level headedness of course.

37. Who was the worst new person you met?

Man Girl *cough*. She’s tied with Ape Boy though.

38. Who was the best new person you met?

Nick (sometimes)

39. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2009.

When the going gets tough, curl up under the sheets and do not emerge until the end of the year.

40. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.


No.

25.12.09

I got an iPhone for Christmas. Hahahaha (My brother is going to be sick when he reads this).And a laptop. I wonder what my birthday next week will bring.
This has been the best Christmas ever- and the presents actually have nothing to do with it. But more on that later. Turkey, wine and family await. 

Merry Christmas. 

I'm happy. 

13.12.09

You know what annoys me about Woolf?

Her writing is beautiful but it flutters too much. You can't pin it down or grasp it or draw it out. Maybe for some people, that's a good thing. But it pisses the hell out of me.

6.12.09

Keeping In Touch.

 I'm going back home for Christmas in a couple of weeks and I'm going to be seeing a lot of friends who I said goodbye to almost six months ago. The move to college (not just my move, but everyone's- it's been a bloody migration) has changed relationships- some are stronger, some are weaker and some are just...different. Deep reflection (helped pass the half an hour I spent being trapped in a god forsaken Metro) and being influenced by my insane brother's love for categorising things made me realise that there are various kinds of- what I like to call- Keep In Touchers in our lives...

1. The One You're Always In Touch With: This sort of friend is special because, well, let's face it- if there's even one person out there who makes the effort to keep in touch at least twice a week despite your being in different cities/countries and who knows exactly what's going on in your life at any given moment, it means you're not alone. It means that you're probably a semi nice person. It means that you're probably loved. It means a lot of things.
I don't want to brag or anything but I have a lot of friends in this category-Moo, MWF, Tanu and Jahnavi. Mothers, grandmothers and stalkers don't count.

2. The One Who's Always There: This sort of friend is not someone you talk to everyday. It doesn't really matter though, because whenever you need this friend (or the friend needs you), all you need to do is send a text or a quick email and you get an instant response. The specialness of Type 2 friends lies in the fact that they never make you feel as if you're being a nuisance and no matter how busy they are, they always make time for you.
Pria and my brother (who is sort of my friend, I suppose) fall into this category. So does Bon.


3. The One You Never Talk To Or Text But Who Loves You Anyway: You somehow never have time to call/text/keep in touch with this friend. But it doesn't matter and you don't even feel the need to because you already have Types 1 and 2 to talk to if you need someone to talk to. Besides, with this friend, even though you don't feel the urge to talk to them regularly, you're aware that you love them and that they love you. And the moment you see them, even if its been months and months since you last saw each other, it's going to be as if you never were apart at all.
For example, I rarely talk to Ishani or Jayatri but when I do or even when I see them, it's as if no time has passed. We fall back comfortably into our old places. It's the same with Arjun M- something which anyone who knew me at fourteen will find hilarious.


4. The One You're Not Particularly Close To But Who You Miss In a General Sort Of Way Because They Were Once a Part Of Your Everyday Life: School friends fall into this category. Close school friends. Maybe you weren't best friends or anything, but you went out for lunch and you sat together in class and you copied each other's homework and you whined about tests to each other. You do feel a genuine affection- maybe even love- for them. Maybe you haven't kept in touch over the year except for an occasional 'hi' over facebook or a random conversation on Skype, but you look forward to seeing them again and catching up. They still mean something and maybe, in a funny sort of way, they always will.
   Basically, a lot of classmates come to mind.


5.The One You Talk To Rarely: These friends can be sub-divided into two parts.

A) The Type 5 Part A friend is someone you talk to rarely but when you do talk, you catch up on absolutely everything. 
For example, Jahnavi J and Rohini.

B) The Type 5 Part B friend is someone you talk to rarely and when you do finally talk, it's awkard because a lot of time has passed and neither of you are in the same place anymore. And there's nothing you can do about it.
I don't think I'm going to tell you who belongs here.


6. The One You've Lost Complete Touch With: Again, these friends can be sub-divided into two parts:

A) You miss this friend with all your heart.

B) You don't miss this friend. At all.

Again, I don't think I'm going to reveal the people I've shoved into the above categories. I don't have a handkerchief on me.
(Joke).


7. The One You Want To Lose Complete Touch With: But they just won't LET you. So annoying. Unless they feel that you're a Type 6 Part A friend. In which case it's sad (for them). And sad for you, because it's quite probable that your Type 6 Part A friend considers you a Type 7 friend. Re-read this carefully if it doesn't make sense because it should.


8. The Stalker: I decided to give this person his own category. Pretty self explanatory and similar to the One You Want To Lose Complete Touch With. The difference lies in the degree- and let me emphasise that it's the difference between a nice, warm afternoon bath (with bubbles) and dying of severe burns in the ICU. A word of advice, don't ever accidentally give your number to a random South African student you met outside a metro station. Especially if they're carrying a Bible in their pocket and offer to teach you how to cook. I should also make it clear that this type of friend is not a friend, this type is a potential rapist/murderer. You really shouldn't keep in touch with them.


9. The Rest: I had to shove them in somewhere. These include various family members who you're mildly fond of, acquaintances you neither like nor dislike and basically everyone else who just doesn't fit into Types 1 to 8. I suppose these people just shouldn't be classified Keeper In Touchers but the fact is, you are in touch with them. You just don't know how or why and that's okay because if you did, they wouldn't be in this category.


Anyway, Tanu's on Skype now and I'm going to go and talk to her. We'll both be home for Christmas soon- everybody will- and so neither of us will have to be a Keep In Toucher, at least for a while.

27.11.09

Karma.

I was talking to a Man Whore Friend yesterday (known from now on as MWF) and the poor boy is in deep distress.

He was complaining about how he didn't feel the need to bang anything that moved anymore and after establishing that he was suffering from no known disease, I decided to probe a little further.

"Is it the girls?" I asked. "Are they maybe, not so hot?"

"No," he said sadly, "they're hot."

"Then what is it?"

Pause.

"I don't know. It's just that there are so many of them. They all want it. They all want me."

"Uh-huh," I said disbelievingly.

"So basically I've got it all at my fingertips- and I don't want it,"

"Maybe," I said carefully, a little wary of sending his brain into overload, "that's the problem. There's no thrill-of-chase thing going on anymore,"

Another pause while he tried digesting this information.

"That could be it," he finally admitted. "I mean, I don't hear from anyone during the week. And then Friday afternoon, bam. I'm booked for the weekend."

So far this didn't really seem like a tale of woe to me. I probed further, trying to unravel his manwhore mind. The place where he's at is full of girls. All very eager, all very willing. All knowing exactly what they want. Which is basically the same thing he wants- or used to want, until recently.

And then finally, he let it out.

"THEY'RE USING ME FOR SEX! I'M NOTHING BUT A PIECE OF MEAT TO THEM! I FEEL SO USED!"

I explained to him that he really shouldn't feel so upset because this is what he's been doing to lots of girls over the years. And while I was at it I told him that at least ninety per cent of women (I may have been guilty of exaggerating the number in order to increase his discomfort) have used men, at least once in their lifetime, for money or sex.

"Are you serious?" he asked, and I swear I'm not exaggerating when I say that he was completely horrified.

"It's a known fact that lots of girls are perfectly aware that they're being used by men and they take advantage of it to use those men right back without their ever knowing,"

"Don't you people have souls?" he choked out.

"We're not that different from you, that's all,"

He then launched into a long tirade about how heartless a species we were and didn't we realise that men had feelings too. What happened, he whined, to things like love and respect and being liked for one's character and personality. The most epic part was when he told me, and he sounded almost heartbroken, that he felt like a whore. A man whore, to be precise. It was a moment I'm going to cherish for the rest of my life.

Realising MWF was actually suffering, I comforted him as much as I could, telling him that maybe there were a few girls out there who genuinely liked him for who he was. But then I ruined it by adding that he'd probably banged them all by now anyway and so, lost them forever.

He hung up despondently, still muttering about how used he was feeling and how he was going to go and search for a girl with Soul. I cheerfully wished him good luck.

Karma, I love you.

11.11.09

What I Did Today.

1. Walked to college since I'm trying to be healthy. Fell into a ditch.

2. Went to piercing shop because the bottom half has disappeared into my tongue. They informed me that this was not supposed to happen and to return tomorrow so they can take it out. Failing that, I'll have to find a dentist and get a slit made in my tongue so it can be pulled out. If my mother ever finds out...

3. Went to have a drink with Mawii. Waiter asked us if we were twenty five because that for some strange reason, is the legal drinking age in Delhi. Said yes. Waiter asked for id. Batted eyelashes.

4. Ordered a Bloody Mary. Thought about tongue. Ordered more.

4. Laughed for no reason- well, okay, for obvious reasons- in the auto on the way back to Metro Station. Auto driver thought we were insane.

5. Stopped at traffic light, beggar girl came and begged me for money. Didn't want to be an indirect supply of drugs so ignored her. She grabbed my leg. Gave her the money hoping that if she did spend it on drugs, she'd be too zonked out to go around touching people.

6. Staggered into my room and spent two hours watching Gossip Girl. For the first time, may I hastily add. Not for the last, if I'm going to be honest.

7. Gossiped with Gossip Queen on phone.

8. And now I'm going to go and intoxicate myself and then pass out.

Overall, a productive day.

7.11.09

I dreamt of you last night. After a really long time.

You were in my arms again, but you weren't stiff and cold. You were warm and I could feel life pulsating through you. I could feel it in your wriggles and in the wag of your tail and the warmth of your hot biscuity breath.

We were sitting in my room; we were sitting on my bed. And it was very cold because it was winter I think, and I held you very, very close and you looked at me with your big and round eyes and I saw the love there and I felt its warmth and its light.

Were you flying through the skies last night and did you see me asleep and alone and decide to invade me? To remind me that wherever you are now, the very essence of you still lingers on, clinging to the life you once knew? No, not clinging perhaps, because I don't like to think of you clinging on to something. Wherever you are, you're free, I know you're free. But sometimes, freedom can be a little lonely and what you really want more than anything, is to snuggle up to someone familiar and feel the circle close around you, protecting you. Just for a little while before you start flying again. Or going back to your long sleep under the earth.

I woke up at dawn and instead of you in my arms, there was sun in my eyes. But it's nice to know that when it comes to love, death is nothing but a shadow line. So easy to tiptoe over.

2.11.09

Red Fort.

I had a Saturday afternoon with nothing to do last week, and since it was the right kind of day- you know, the kind of day that has the right amount of sun and wind and freshness; the kind of day you want to literally grasp with your hands- I decided to explore the Red Fort. 

I asked Mrs Khera, over buttery toast and sweet papaya, how to get there. Simple enough- take the Metro Station to Chandni Chowk and once you get there, ask someone to point the way to you. So I did that. Kurta and backpack and sunglasses and all. 

Stepping into Chandni Chowk was like stepping into a another world where past and present kind of spill into each other. Fruit sellers at this corner, a kebabwallah in that corner. Bright glass bangles and sequinned jholas and embroidered chappals. Flies everywhere. Dust. Lots of dust. Cars crawling along, easily being outstripped by the rickshaws. When you turn a corner, there is a long stretch of busy road ahead of you, and looming up at the end of it, is the Red Fort and it is impossible, completely impossible, to describe what that first glimpse is like. The road itself is a bit of a delight- like the rest of Chandni Chowk, it's a mixture of old and new. Crumbling havelis on one side, cracked and touched with sun, and right opposite, a McDonald's. 


The intersection that lies before the Red Fort is a busy one. Trucks and buses roar past and the smoke chokes you. I attached myself to a family, figuring that if all six or seven of them, ageing grandparents and toddlers- all equally unsteady- could make it through alive, I'd be able to as well. And then I found myself standing in a wide, open courtyard alongside many people, some walking and some sitting on stone steps and some taking photographs. A long wall, red brick at once both soft and hard, looked down upon everyone and behind it, the fort with the Indian flag swaying gently. 


There is a long line of shops, once you enter the fort, that you have to cross before getting to the main entrance. Shops selling clay souvenirs and glass bangles, heavy silver earrings and embroidered carpets ("Straight from Kashmir, madame,"). I lingered there because they are a feast for the eyes. Colour and texture and movement even in the stillest of objects. 


And then I walked along and suddenly the sun was above me and I was in front of a big gate that led to where the main palaces stand. Showed the guards my ticket, got my bag checked, wondered vaguely whether there were any terrorists around, and found myself walking down the long path that leads to where the Durbar used to be. 


A long, low building, with marble pillars beautifully etched with flowers- were they flowers, lotuses maybe?- and I lingered, touched it and despite the brightness of the sun, the marble was cold under my fingertips. There are long pieces of rope- or maybe velvet cloth, I don't remember now- that stretch across and prevent you from wandering into the actual hall. They keep you firmly outside, but your eyes can see. I tried imagining myself back to five hundred years ago, I tried seeing the courtesans, low and shuffling, high pitched and cackling, turbaned and moustached, dripping with jewels. Almost did, before I got shoved by a loud mouthed guide pointing out the marble slab where the Peacock Throne had once stood.

The Peacock Throne. I want to see it; I don't even know if it still exists. Taken away long ago, but even now, its absence can be felt and the slab of marble on which it is supposed to stand looks slightly forlorn. Or maybe I'm just being fanciful but it's difficult not to be, when you're standing in a place that is so full of history and you're standing alone. 



The Diwan-i-Khas, its ceilings stripped of  its gold and silver, but not the words that gave it legend: If there be a Paradise on earth, it's this, it's this, it's this. Or maybe, it's here, it's here, it's here. I don't know but it's not difficult to see why. 


I didn't have a guide so I don't know what the various buildings I saw were called. Passed by the Moti Masjid- they wouldn't let me enter- it was closed for prayer. Aurangzeb built it specially for himself; he used to go there and pray. I stood on a stone just under its window and looked in and all I saw was white marble, made whiter under the sun. It sounds so cold but it wasn't cold at all; just very calm and peaceful. You can feel its peace just by that glimpse through the window. 


I wondered around the gardens, saw a few more palaces (for want of a better word). Warm red stone and cold white marble. Dry and cracked pits where water used to flow once. Weeds where flowers used to grow. There was an artist sitting under a tree, painting part of the...I don't remember the name now. But it has a twin right opposite it. I wished I had a camera because that moment- the concentration on his face and the swift movement of his fingers and the sun that fell on the dome and the wind that made the surrounding uncut grass sway gently- was perfect. A moment worth capturing. 


Had a drink at a restaurant that's tucked away at the back. Basket chairs on a low verandah overlooking trees, with glimpses of mahals from where you sit. 


Went back to the Nahr-i-Bihisht, the stream of paradise, and stood at the white railings that overlook Delhi city. I went up to a museum that houses war relics and it was crowded and sweaty and miserable so after walking very quickly, from Entrance to Exit, I went back to the Diwan-i-Khas to get rid of the taint. 


On my way out, I looked back at the fort. The sun was lower in the sky now and it bathed the red stones, making them glow. There were a few other people, standing still amidst the crowd, also looking at the fort. It's difficult not to stand there and look and to be overwhelmed by the sheer insignificance of people compared to something like that; ironic, because most of the charm, for me at least, lies in the fact that you can still feel traces of people- dead emperors and courtesans and ministers- in there, and that is where the magic lies. People have created history and rendered themselves insignificant by it. 


The peace of the Red Fort- for there is peace there, a calm and a quiet that exists in spite of the tourists and the noise and the excitement and the shops- disappeared the minute I stepped foot into Chandni Chowk's busy roads. Felt again the smoke from the traffic clog my eyes and my nose. 


Outside the Metro station, I ate a plate of fresh watermelon and drank a glass of nimbu pani. 


A sense of belonging. A sense of coming home. 

31.10.09

Sometimes, heat. Warmth. 
And sometimes, so cold, that my insides are frozen. 
What do you really feel?

20.10.09

The Magic Circle.

In The Ramayana, Sita sees a golden deer and she desires it more than she's ever desired anything. She turns to her husband Ram and asks him to capture it for her.


Ram, ever cautious, ever prudent, tells Sita that it could be a trap set by a demon.


"I'm spending the next fourteen years of my life with you in this damn forest because I love you," replies Sita. "And you're kicking up a fuss about one measly golden deer?"


So Ram sighs a sigh, probably wishes he'd left Sita back in the palace and sets off in search of the golden deer. After a while, Sita hears him call for help.


"Laxman," she calls and Ram's dutiful younger brother trots up. "Laxman, Ram's in trouble. I can hear him shouting,"


"Ram's a great warrior," is the reply. "We must be careful because it could be a trap. This forest is full of demons you know,"


"I know, and one of them is probably killing my husband. Will you save him or not?"


Laxman sighs a sigh, probably wishes Ram had left Sita back in the palace and sets off. But before he does, he draws a circle, a magic circle, and tells Sita to stay inside it. As long as she does, she'll be safe.


But Ravana comes along a while later, disguised as a beggar, and tricks Sita into stepping outside the circle. One step which leads to thirteen years of despair and desperate search and war.


We all have our magic circles. And no one knows who drew them for us. But we know why they're there- as long as we stay inside, we're safe. Untouched by evil. To step out- even one tiny little step- would be to throw ourselves into all the misery and despair and hopelessness that's waiting, waiting, waiting, with black tendrils ready to curl around us and hold us, perhaps forever.


But what The Ramayana doesn't tell us is that wonderful things lie beyond the circle too. New friendships and new adventures and new reasons to laugh everyday.


After all, if Sita hadn't stepped outside that circle, there wouldn't have been a story in the first place.


Would there?

15.10.09

:)



                                                                                    
 

It pains me to admit it, but I think this is what I'll miss most about home.





12.10.09

Home.

So I haven't updated for a while, mainly because I have a life again. A happy life. This is because of the following:

1. Cars: Most importantly, my car, which has airconditioning. When my car is out of commission, taxis come a close second since there is very little danger of the cab drivers here raping/murdering you. They're too busy smoking ganja and thinking of their next cup of tea. I haven't stepped foot on the Metro in two weeks. Bliss.

2. Meat: There are no words that will do justice to this. It simply isn't possible for mere words to highlight the beauty of a steak or a couple of slices of roast beef. I haven't eaten chicken though- chicken doesn't count. It's vegetarian meat.

3. Friends: It's strange but if I'm bored now, I can pick up my mobile and call someone and actually go and hang out with them. My weekends in Delhi were spent glued to the computer, obsessively reading pathetic sites about pathetic people, secure in the knowledge that I was united with them in patheticness. My only contact with the outside world was facebook and skype. Although I still do switch on my laptop occasionally to fb, skype and chat, I don't actually spend most of my day on it. This is because most of my day is spend having face to face conversations with people. People I like. People I really like. Friends. It's fun.

4. My bed: The sheer joy of cuddling down amidst a pile of pillows and pulling (clean) sheets over me. The familiar mattress which feels as soft as heather (not that I've ever actually slept on heather but I'm assuming the Famous Five knew what they were talking about) after the three inch platform of ground brick I sleep on in Delhi.

5. Privacy: Nothing beats having my own room again. Not to mention an attached bathroom all to myself. I don't have to lug my shampoo back and forth- it stands on a shelf in the showerplace and it looks very happy to be there. I don't have to keep a towel wrapped around me while changing because there's no one to be horrified by a glimpse of my butt. In fact, I make it a point to wander around my room naked before and after my shower. It is seriously one of the best feelings in the world.

6. Air conditioning: If I'm at home and I feel hot, I press a little green button and hey presto- I don't feel hot anymore. I think that speaks for itself.

7. Laundry: I don't have to wash my clothes, I don't have to iron my clothes, I don't have to fold my clothes. I can leave them on the floor when I go to sleep and by the next evening, they are back in my cupboard- washed and pressed and folded. And it's absolutely okay to be this spoiled because this is, after all, only a temporary privelege. So I don't even have to feel guilty.

8. The city: When I first came home, it didn't feel like home. That feeling's passed away now though, because after a few days, I realised that everything's still the same. And even if it isn't- because okay, it's not completely the same- it doesn't matter, because this is still my home.

9. My mother: She's as annoying as ever- actually a little more annoying because she's gone and got herself an iPhone while I'm stuck using my pink monstrosity- but I have to admit, being able to hug her whenever I want is a sort of nice feeling.


The best thing of all is that sitting here, feeling warm and loved and home again, makes me look at Delhi with a new perspective.
When I first came back here, to be honest, it didn't feel like home. It felt different- and Delhi didn't feel like home either. So I fondly imagined myself as a homeless hitchhiker, roaming from place to place, belonging nowhere. But I have a couple of wonderful friends who refused to let me sink into my much loved misery.

So I'm just going to settle on having two homes. Here and in, ugh, Delhi. Because let's face it, the thought of going back doesn't make me want to jump off my terrace. In fact, I think a small part of me is actually looking forward to it.  Delhi has its own charm. But more on that later.

30.9.09

I've been in Chennai for two and a half hours and I'm down three glasses of red wine and a beef steak.
Ohmygod.
I am living happiness.

28.9.09

Surviving the Delhi Metro.

According to Google, there are six and a half billion people inhabiting the earth. I'm pretty sure most of them find their way onto the Delhi Metro at some point of time or the other- mostly when I'm on it. The Metro, during rush hour, and in Delhi, every hour is rush hour, is convenient but not always pleasant. 

Think harsh tubelights and enclosed spaces, the smell of talcum powder and deodorant, sweat and hair oil. Being pressed in on all sides by people, until it feels your lungs are about to fall through your stomach. Like I said, not always pleasant. 

But like most unpleasant things, the Metro is a great learning experience. I think, in the past two and a half months, I've learnt more about people than I ever had in Calcutta (man whores excepted). I've also learnt about survival because I have to admit- if you can survive the Delhi Metro on a regular basis, you're qualified to face all the darkness and misery the world will throw at you. 

Surviving the Delhi Metro: A Guide.

1. If you're waiting for a train and you're right at the back of the line, step back. Let the train arrive, let the train depart and while you're watching, wave at all the people who are packed in there, faces pressed against the doors, mouths opening and closing like fish gasping for breath. You may now step smugly up to the yellow line, secure in the knowledge that you are in a position to get yourself to a corner where there might just be some oxygen. 


2. When about to board or 'de-board' the train, make sure your fists are clenched and your elbows are jutting out. This is an excellent position to counter-shove fat ladies and men with big briefcases who will do their best to push you against the walls. It is also an excellent position to detract gropers- if you feel a hand on your butt,  stay in position, swing slightly until your elbow connects and you hear a groan. Then make a run for it because it's Delhi after all and there's always the danger of acid being chucked on your face.

3. Ladies, the men are not going to stand to make room for you. Even if you're carrying a big backpack and three files and an overnight bag and look as if you haven't slept in two weeks. In fact, they're going to take special pains to sit in the Seats Reserved for Ladies. Standing in front of them and glaring at them is not going to help. You need to point to the sign and then point to yourself and indicate you are a lady (I use the term loosely). Normally this works. If it doesn't work, hit them with your backpack and make a run for it because like I said before, you don't want to end up with acid on your face.

4. Grammarians, to survive a trip on the Metro, you are going to have to make yourselves temporarily deaf/blind. This is because you'll be hearing terms like 'de-board' and seeing sentences such as 'Stand clear off the door'. 

5. Always carry a bottle of cough syrup with you. Unless you're extraordinarily lucky, you'll be forced to stand for at least half an hour, pressed in by people on all sides and the world will start spinning and you'll wish you were dead. Cough syrup comes in handy at times like this- it's sweet and it calms your nerves and it makes the Metro a happier place. 

6. Should you not happen to have cough syrup on you, while switching lines (especially if you're heading towards the Blue Line), stop at the Nirula's or Gianni's in CP and get yourself an ice cream before you board the train. You'll need the happy feeling it gives you. Trust me. 

7. When waiting for the train, always stand at the end of the platform. This way, as the train draws into the station, you'll be able to see which carriage is relatively empty and make a run for it. It is also a good idea to wear sneakers while travelling the Metro. 

8. Always keep your Metro Card in your hand. If you keep it in your pocket, it will fall out. If you keep it in your bag, you won't find it until you've paid the whopping fine those Metro Criminals extort from you. Keep the damn thing in your hand and also, talk to it to keep it happy. Sing to it if you must. It's also a good way to pass the time.

9. To pass the time: A book will not help because you won't have room to read it. An ipod is always good but from personal experience, the battery usually dies five minutes after you get on the train (don't worry- it comes back as soon as you get off). Eavesdropping on other people's conversations is always a good way to pass the time. Adding your own input to them is not. Delhi people are notoriously unfriendly. 

10. Take a friend along if possible. Two being stronger than one and all that. You'll not only have someone to talk to, if you pass out from lack of oxygen, you can be sure that there will be at least one person who isn't trampling over you as soon as the doors open. 

11. Always carry money on you, in different places. Some money in your bag, some in your pocket, some tucked away in your socks and if you're very paranoid, other...strategic...places. Because you will get robbed one day and it's always good to be able to have access to an emergency stash. 


12. Above all, look at it as a challenge. You are in a tough city and you are dealing with tough people and you are therefore, no matter what your friends and family think, tough (I should also mention that delusions and hallucinations always help you cope with the Metro Experience better). And above all, keep in mind that you won't be using the Metro forever. One day you will leave Delhi or even if, by some sad twist of fate, you don't- you will have a car or a helicopter or a bicycle or some other mode of transport. However, should this fail and you are faced with the prospect of travelling on the Metro for the rest of your life- there is still no need to worry. After all, if you throw yourself off the platform, it will be happy to run over you. 

25.9.09

Durga Puja.

I think I was thirteen the last time I was in Calcutta for Durga Puja. So I really don't know why I'm suddenly missing it so much this year. I don't even know what I'm missing. 


Is it watching, wide eyed, as Durga and her four children were reverently brought into Nabakailash on a battered old truck? I remember the black, coarse curls of her hair and the red silk of her sari and the silver foil at the end of her trident. And I can see her slanting eyes, so terrible and so gentle. The pink of Lokhi's sari and the green of Saraswati's and it took me years to understand why her skin was white while the others' were gold. They all stood- no, stood is the wrong word- they occupied, the rough wooden stage and sometimes it seemed to me that they really were alive, that they were watching all of us, smiling secret smiles that we were too blind to see. 



I remember going out in Dad's jeep, inching our way along roads taken over by people- fat women, hot and sweaty with make-up streaming down into the crevices of their faces and little girls and boys in crushed clothes and laughter in their eyes. Vendors selling steaming food, oily and crispy and hot. Plastic whirring toys and gas balloons. Green tube lights turning the trees a harsh, terrible green. The sky was never black, not even at night, it was always a deep purple because of all the noise and all the lights and it was as if the excitement on the streets had slowly wound its way beyond the clouds. 


And I remember waking up every morning to the noise of drums, a noise that managed to find its way all the way up to the eighth floor, through my closed windows to trumpet me awake. It didn't even bother me, it gave me a fierce rush of energy and I'd gulp down my breakfast and rush downstairs to join the crowd already there, scooping up a handful of orange flowers and getting ready to throw them to the thakur- an offering and though I didn't know why I did it, I did it with faith. 


The last day, I remember sitting on the cold white marble steps watching the thakur being put back in the truck. Wailing women and grave men and smiling boys climbed on as well, to accompany her to the river- the last part of her journey. I remember feeling a tug of sadness because she was gone, with her red silk sari and her black curls, and with her, the drums and the marigolds and the incense and the priests and the chanting crowds and the games and the wooden stage were gone too. 


I remember one particular Doshomi watching Bobby get on the truck to go with her to the river and I wanted to go so much, to see the final act of putting her in the water and watching her wind her way down to the sea, back to the Destroyer. 


All this was so long ago and now, when I look back, I see it through someone else's eyes. A lifetime ago and I've lived a lot of lives since then. 


But tonight, just tonight, I'm turning back the clock. Just for a little while. 

21.9.09

The Secret Garden.

Only I can see the flowers- and the weeds and thistles. And I can roam there, at peace, secure in the knowledge that some walls have no peep holes.

18.9.09

Update.


Friday. Bliss.

I have Monday off too- even better. Of course, I'm spending the weekend with my great uncle and aunt so it's not like I'm going to be having a wild time. But I'll be having a good time. Boring yes, but boring and good sometimes go together. Lots of on-lining and sleeping and I've decided to learn how to cook. My great aunt's going to teach me how to produce a kick ass Punjabi meal. She is unaware that I set her bathroom waste paper basket on fire two weeks ago- I don't think she'd be as willing to let me step into the kitchen if she knew. Never mind. You're never too old to learn.

Speaking of food, when I arrived in the evening, I made the mistake of telling her I hadn't eaten lunch. I would've been happy to eat a banana and wait till dinner but she force fed me three lunches instead. I've gone to the bathroom thrice already and the pain in my stomach still hasn't gone.

The Metro was crowded as usual and I was forced to spend half an hour standing next to a woman who had all the symptoms of swine flu. Watery nose, hacking cough, feverish eyes. So if you never hear from me again, you'll know what happened.

College has been good. Delhi isn't as soulless as I thought it was. And day by day, I realise the benefits of living in a city that is not the one my mother lives in. Of course my life isn't all that wonderful- I get less hugs than I did back home, and I walk into more cows on the road. Okay- that happened once, just once, but it never happened in Calcutta. There, most of the cows I encountered were dead ones- cooked to perfection and lying on the plate in front of me. Anyway.

I have a good week ahead. I have two dinners, a concert, a potential party and...yeah, okay. That's about it. But still. Compared to last month, it's a lot.

Soni, the maid/cook, just came in with a mug of coffee. I love her coffee. It's the best coffee in the world. I wish I could describe its divine taste in detail but words can't do justice do it. How do you go about describing coffee anyway? Brown, bitter, not too bitter because of the right amount of sugar....see what I mean? Hopeless case. Anyway, I'd rather drink it (which I'm doing right now) than describe it.

I'm chatting to one of my Man Whore friends (Type 3 for those who are interested) and he's telling me about the four girls he's got running after him. Man, girls are stupid. Actually I shouldn't talk. I'm also stupid when it comes to boys. This is where my brother could come in handy- whenever I need boys to be interpreted, I call him up and ask him to interpret them for me- but he's normally as clueless as I am and turns to his female friends for advice which is then passed on to me.

I was bored the other day and decided to try my hand at writing a story which I hoped, would soon escalate into a novel and then maybe a best-seller. I'd written 600 words when I realised it was basically my life story and therefore, it would never go anywhere.

Mawii is right. I am self obsessed.

Ugh.

13.9.09

Founder's Day.

Founder's Day today. No, not college. School.  My facebook is, therefore, peppered with status messages from people quoting bits of school song and the school motto. Labore et Constantia. I always hated it. Who the hell wants to labour constantly? 

Always found it really funny that we celebrate Founder's Day, not on the day of Claude Martin's birth, but the day of his death. Of course our Principal always managed to use this fact as an excuse to make us aware of the solemnity of the occasion. No laughing, no jollity, no sunshine, etc. 

Do I miss school? 

I don't think I do. I sure as hell don't miss Founder's Day. The practices leading up to the Big Day, the standing and the sitting, the hissing during the Canticle, the Anjali Sengupta singing- it's all in the past and I am so very thankful for that. I always thought Founder's Day was a nightmare. Class 12 was sweet because of the special blazer and the front row that the Prefects were entitled to, but I think its specialness lies in the fact that it was my last. 

I've been trying to write more about it but I can't think of anything to say. There is nothing to say. 

Oh, except this: Our school song is lame. I love it, of course I do, because you learn to love things that are familiar but as songs go, it really is pathetic. 




5.9.09


I want to walk across the earth with you. It doesn't matter where we go, so long as we go places.

There is a little town in Spain, near Alicante. A little town by the sea. It's called Moraira and it's set in the hills, slowly curving its way down until it reaches the shore. I haven't been there for a long time, but I remember that the sky there is a crisp blue when the weather is fine and the houses that wind down the slopes, have gardens with orange trees. I've been there before but I want to go there again with you and see it once more, through your eyes.

Then we can climb the Himalayas, up and up and up, until we're looking down at the feathery clouds, and below them, the rest of the world. There are other mountain ranges to climb too, ones I haven't been to, and I don't want to stop until we've reached the pinnacle of every one.

There are so many cities to explore- old cities that have stood for thousands of years and the new ones, artificial, but brimming with life- spilling over with thousands of people, speaking thousands of languages, all different and yet still the same.

I want to drink beer with you in a London pub and cappuccinos in an Italian cafe. Hot tea, held tentatively in an earthen cup, on the dusty streets of Calcutta.

And I want a boat- either a low, cream coloured yacht or a little wooden dinghy or if we're lucky, a big and sprawling ship with white sails- and I want to sail away with you beyond the horizon, like Ulysses did. Except I don't want us to fall off the edge of the earth, oh no, I want to sail and sail, stopping at busy harbours and crowded ports and bustling sea towns, until we reach a little island where, tucked away among the trees, waits a house that looks like a sugar cube with tomatoes in the garden.

I want to live through wild, raging storms and ravaging suns and freezing winters. I want to feel every nerve of my body tingle with anticipation and excitement and restlessness and when that's done, I want to be at peace, to lie somewhere under a soft sky, and read books and listen to music and talk to you about Things.

Have you ever noticed how many different kinds of roads there are? Some long and straight and broad, others twisting their way into nothingness. Cobbled and grassy, broken and made of sticky red mud that clings. I want to walk down all of them with you, and maybe, here and there, when we don't feel like walking on the road, we can break away a little and see what lies beyond.

Most of all, I don't want any of this to be a dream- I don't want it to be elusive, breaking into a million little pieces as soon as I reach out to touch it, just because I reached out too soon. So I'm going to let it be for now. A dream catcher- they're supposed to catch your dreams and hold them for you until the time comes for them to turn real.

31.8.09

the uninteresting.


I climbed up to the terrace again this evening. I could say that I did it to see the sunset- which is spectacular by the way. But really I did it to wallow in misery.

Not that I'm particularly miserable at the moment. But I feel it's good to wallow now and then just for practice. So you'll know how to cope with the real deal when it comes along. Which it will.

I managed to find things to be miserable about anyway. I'm good at that. I sat there for a while and then went to find Mawii because it's no fun being miserable on your own. Unless you complain about it to someone, the flavour is lost.

So Mawii and I sat there on the terrace and I started telling her my problems. She knows most of them already, poor girl, but I figured a refresher course would be good since we hadn't seen each other over the weekend. There was one big problem she hadn't been updated on though and by the time I finished telling her, she was howling with laughter. Good to know I bring joy into her life.

I really don't know what this post is supposed to be about. Nothing in particular. I'm typing almost automatically. I'm a little worried actually, because I think I have insomnia. I've slept about five hours since Friday. It's almost midnight now and I'm still not tired.

I am bored though. Going to go find something to occupy myself with. I know what it is but I can't say because I will be laughed off the face of this planet.

Although sometimes I think that might not be such a bad thing.

30.8.09

The Pigeon.

Vikram's pigeon is dead. It died a long time ago. Months ago.

But due to an earlier blog post, I feel I should pay it tribute.

Rest in peace, Pigeon. And I'm sorry I took so long to give you a public send off. In my defence, it is due to me that you're immortalised forever.

In your defence, it's the least you deserve.

28.8.09


I have a 3000 word assignment to write about realism as used in Amitav Ghosh's The Shadow Lines and I don't know where to begin. The introduction was written with much labour, and the thesis statement was introduced so on the bright side, I have only 2900 words left to write.

The trouble is I have no clue what to write about.

This sucks. I thought no one worked in college. I thought I'd be spending my time talking about realism, lying on the green lawns of Stephens, with smoke rings swirling above my head. I did not picture myself slaving away at the computer, writing three thousand words about the damn thing for my eccentric Bengali science fiction loving professor.

Next week, I have two more assignments due. One is something to do with Browning and the dramatic monologue- I think- and I know she gave us a reading list for it that's about a mile long. I have no clue what the other assignment is about. I only know I have one, because the feeling of dread in my stomach isn't light enough for only one assignment.

Right now, I'm trying to figure out how to explain Amitav Ghosh's use of the stream of consciousness technique in a thousand words. Enough for one paragraph. It is, you see, a stylistic feature of the modernist realist technique. Ghosh expresses it through the constant back and forth shifts in time throughout the novel. That's all I've got.

Oh man. I'm too dumb for college. Everyone else seems to know everything about everything. You should see some of them in tutorials. They're all arguing with each other, using words I've never even bloody heard of. I really need to stop reading Janet Evanovitch and move on to something a little more intellectually stimulating. Maybe that'll help.

All I want to do right now is curl up with a book and a bar of chocolate. Well, to be honest, with an Asterix comic and three bars of chocolate. Snickers. Mmm. A rost beef sandwich dripping with butter wouldn't go amiss either.

Which brings me to another grievance. Beef. I swear to god, I will never take that meat for granted again. When I go back home, I will stuff myself with Bouchi's roast beef and steak and meatloaf and corned beef and scotch egg. I'm wasting away on this bloody vegetarian food. The only red meat you get in Delhi is mutton and by a strange twist of fate, mutton is the only meat I steer cleer off. One, because I don't like the taste and two, because I'm partial to goats. I think it's a Heidi thing left over from my childhood. There's chicken occasionally but I only ever see it in a McDonald's burger and since I'm on a limited budget, I refuse to waste my money on that trash. The chicken I get everywhere else, is the on-the-bone kind, which I can't eat because eating anything attached to a bone freaks me out.

Oh beef, I miss you.

I'm talking to a friend on Skype and describing what I want my wedding to be like. I don't ever want to get married but I like the idea of a wedding.

Jahnavi got it right when she said she wanted to be married in a simple temple. I take it a step furthur. I want to be married in a temple- an open temple with pillars and no walls- on a cliff overlooking the sea. During the monsoon. There has to be a fire with a priest chanting in Sanskrit. The sky- dark and overcast with a howling wind. But maybe, just maybe, as I step out of the temple, a ray of gentle sunshine could fall on me. My friend asked where the groom comes in. I forgot about him. He could be a problem. Oh well.

Anyway, it's 8.08 PM and the assignment's due in twelve hours and I'm already beginning to think up brilliant excuses for not handing it in. It's never a good sign when I do that.

I should go.

Right.

Now.

.




26.8.09

Man Whores.


Men, I've realised, work like this:


Man 1: Fuck. She's hot.

Man 2: Yeah dude.

Man: 1. I think I want to bang her.

Man 2: Go for it, dude.

Three days later.

Man 2: So?

Man 1: She's hot, dude. But what a slut.

Man 2: At least she's not like (insert girl name). I've been trying to bang that bitch for a month now. No luck. Stupid frigging ice queen.



Okay, maybe not all men. But the majority.

That's Man Whore Type 1.


Man Whore Type 2 is more subtle. Not as despicable. Often a nice person. But still a Man Whore.


Man: I was on a plane.

Friend: Uh-huh.

Man: There was a beautiful girl sitting next to me.

Friend: Uh-huh.

Man: When I say beautiful, I mean beautiful. And she was intelligent. We talked about stuff.

Friend: Uh-huh.

Man: And then we made out. And then we went to the bathroom and...

Friend: What was her name?

Man: *pause*

Friend: Well?

Man: I could lie to you and say I know, but that was part of the beauty. You know... the smoothness of things.




And finally, there's Man Whore Type 3.

Man: *while making out with girl* You kiss so much better than So-and-so.

Girl: Uh.

Man: Seriously. You're gifted. And you're good in bed too. Much better than any of the other people I slept with last week.

Girl: *leaves*

Man: Did I say something wrong?





I asked a friend of mine once- he happens to be an original MCP- why it's okay for men to be whores while women are condemned for sleeping around. He thought for a moment.

"It's because we're men," he said. "It's a manly thing to do,"

I replied that that wasn't a good enough answer.

"It's evolution. Men used to go out and hunt and impregnate women to continue their lineage or whatever the term is. Women were supposed to just let themselves be impregnated and stay at home and cook."

"So there you go. Women used to get a lot of action too. Why is it such a big problem now?"

"They don't fucking cook anymore."


...




23.8.09

coordination. lack of it.

In the past twenty minutes, I've managed to break a candle stand and a plate as well as a bottle of deodrant, torn a kaftan and spilled water all over a carpet which I think is now ruined.

I think I need help. And fast.

18.8.09

I want to write but I have nothing to write about.

*Blink*

I'm feeling hot and sweaty and tired and bored. Tried reading, mind's not on it. Fooled around with some online quizzes before I felt disgusted with myself and gave up. Would eat but there's no food available for another two hours. I could walk down to the Exchange Store (only a twelve minute walk) but I have no money because I still haven't opened my bank account.

I should go have a shower.

Oh wait. I can't have a shower because the bathrooms here don't have shower heads. And they don't have bathtubs either. Just taps.

I should go have a bath with a bucket. A bucket bath.

And if I don't switch the lights on, I won't even see the lizards.

But I have to cross the terrace to get to the bathroom. Too much effort. And it'd mean scrounging for my soap, shampoo, facewash, toothpaste and toothbrush and putting them in my wash basket, along with my towel (which, let's face it, isn't too clean). Again. Too much effort.

I could watch television. Television's good. Except since I share this place with twenty other girls, most of whom are twice my size, it's already occupied and wrestling for the remote doesn't really seem like a good idea.

I could go out with some friends. Except I don't have any here except Mawii who's asleep with her mouth open. Anyway, even if I did have friends, I wouldn't be able to go out with them because this is Delhi and we'd all probably get raped.

Hm.

I could wash my sheets, change my pillow cases and iron my clothes. Not to mention scrub the floor because if you walk on it without your slippers, your feet go black. This is because the lady who comes in to clean is old and knows she's old and takes full advantage of it.

I could study or work on the script. But I've lost my glasses and I've been wearing my contact lenses so long, I think my eyeballs are dancing inside my head. I can't do anything about it though because I don't have an optometrist and even if I did, I don't have the money to go to one.


So really I think I'm just going to lie here, in the heat, and get bitten by mosquitos since I've run out of mosquito repellant.



I sincerely hope that anyone who is sitting in the comfort of their own home and reading this, is feeling suitably ashamed of themselves.

16.8.09

Dear Jahnavi.

Promise kept:
[8/14/2009 1:29:45 PM] sunrise: i'm just jealous.
[8/14/2009 1:29:58 PM] Trisha Dutt: want me to write one about u?
[8/14/2009 1:30:05 PM] sunrise: :)
[8/14/2009 1:30:13 PM] Trisha Dutt: I WILL!
[8/14/2009 1:30:30 PM] sunrise: (happy)
[8/14/2009 1:30:31 PM] Trisha Dutt: yaay. i always love writing things to you/about you- like the orkut and hi5 testimonials.
[8/14/2009 1:30:35 PM] sunrise: (nods)
[8/14/2009 1:30:36 PM] Trisha Dutt: because there's always so much to write.
[8/14/2009 1:30:42 PM] sunrise: :O
[8/14/2009 1:30:46 PM] sunrise: sunrise is very flattered.
[8/14/2009 4:26:47 PM] sunrise: did you write a blog post about me yet huh huh?


When you asked me to write this for you, I thought it would be incredibly easy. Easy because I've known you for so long- so long that I don't remember a time when I haven't known you. But I've been sitting here for the past ten minutes now and for the first time, I can't think of something to say. Because there's so much to be said? Such an old, old problem.


I don't have a first memory of you. Nowhere to start. I'm thinking about you as a little girl and for once, I'm not being able to see things in words or paragraphs. Only pictures- snapshots flying through the air, allowing me glimpses here and there. Ahh, my mind whispers in remembrance, and the moment is gone, replaced by another.
What do I see?
Jahnavi running around Pixie Mashi's garden, wanting to build a bonfire.
Jahnavi whispering something into Tara's ear.
Jahnavi pinching Varun, because he double dipped his chips into the tomato sauce.
Jahnavi sitting on the CCFC cannon, flying to the moon.
Jahnavi laughing, because she's happy.
Jahnavi running away from an invisible Lettuce Ham.



And then slowly, so slowly I almost miss the change, you start growing older.



Jahnavi wearing lipgloss, and me envious because I'm not allowed to yet.
Jahnavi reading Danielle's death with tarot cards, wide eyed and believing what they say.
Jahnavi swimming Butterfly, faster and faster because Farhad is watching- or so she hopes.
Jahnavi crying, because Adito said something mean to her.
Jahnavi starving her Neopets.
Jahnavi shouting, because she is Jahnavi.
Jahnavi making fun of me for wearing a skirt, and turning up in a shorter one the next day.



And now, as they keep switching around, great switcheroos in the making, I see you and I am amazed because you are so different, and yet, still the same.

Jahnavi daring me to break into the house of the Seventh Floor People.
Jahnavi bringing Sims 2 over to my house, and the two of us squealing in delight.
Jahnavi showing me how to put a (youknowwhat) on my (youknowwhat).
Jahnavi cycling, while I hold onto the cycle and rollerblade after her.
Jahnavi sitting in my room, talking about music and Wrik and Egypt.
Jahnavi squeezing my arm until she draws blood, while I stick a needle into her ear, and laughing once she sees the little stud shining there.






And now you're a teenager and so am I and suddenly it's the moment we've been waiting for all our lives.

Jahnavi with Sidharth Pradhan's arm around her.
Jahnavi holding my hair back while I throw up my first ever vodka shots.
Jahnavi stealing my clothes.
Jahnavi telling Siddharth Sharma to look at the moon, hoping he's going to kiss her.
Jahnavi holding me while I cry about Ringo.
Jahnavi sitting next to me in Oly, downing beers with me.
Jahnavi sitting outside Mama Mia, not telling me what's wrong with her life.
Jahnavi crying, with tears I believed were false.
Jahnavi hugging me quickly as she sets off on a new journey and I stay where I am.


And so you went to where the sun rises and it rose for you there and I stayed behind, believing the album had run out of pages. And I think we were both happy- you, discovering the new, and me, content in the warmth of the familiar.




But you see, I've realised that some albums have pages that go on forever and ever and ever. And when you came back this summer, it re-opened itself again, and photograph threw itself on photograph.


Jahnavi sitting with me at Someplace Else- the first time the two of us have ever ventured there alone without the boys.
Jahnavi smirking at me because she sees something in my mind that I've been trying desperately to hide from everyone else.
Jahnavi sitting in Mangio, laughing at me as I slowly put a finger down while playing Never Have I Ever.
Jahnavi sprawled on my bed, eating mango ice cream.
Jahnavi lying on my terrace with me, both of us believing we're magic.
Jahnavi shrieking, as I tell her a secret that pales in comparision to all other secrets.
Jahnavi watching me, this time as I set out on my journey.
Jahnavi with earphones on, as the ugly golden bus trundles along the highway to Jaipur.
Jahnavi in green silk, shouting at her mother.
Jahnavi saying goodbye, again, and walking down the road as I get into an auto and go the other way.
There are so many more memories I want to describe and so many more things I want to say about you. But sometimes, and this is one of those times, you have to sit back and let the pictures do the talking. With us, and I believe this with all my heart, they'll talk forever- whether we like it or not.

13.8.09

Thakuda.

You were the one who showed me Venus.

I remember standing with you on the verandah, under a starry sky in Spain and you were crouching down by me and you pointed to the brightest, whitest star and told me that whenever I was good, that star would shine for me.

But what if I'm bad, I asked you.

I don't remember your answer to that one. I was two and a half years old, I think. But I do know that since that night, every time I look at the night sky, it's always Venus- that bright, white star- I look for. Even now at eighteen.

I remember hearing stories about the War from Daddy. He told me about the time you shot the young German pilot out of the sky. I used to watch you sometimes and try and imagine you doing that, flying a plane high in the sky under the shimmering sun. You talked to me about many things that happened to you when you were young, but you never once talked to me about the War. And I never asked. And it felt like we had a secret bond, a secret pact. But when we did the Battle of Briton in school, whenever I read that quote of Churchill's- "Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few"- I felt so incredibly proud.

I remember the last time I visited you in Spain. I was twelve and Mama was with me. I remember sitting in that cafe overlooking the sea and you were so amazed because I couldn't take my eyes away from it. Is that how you felt about the sky? Like you belonged there? Maybe that's why you understood why I needed to leave the cafe and climb down to the rocks and feel the spray of the waves on my face.

I remember dragging myself away from Proiti Mashi's movies to go down and talk to you for a while. I always intended to stay for five minutes or so, but then you'd start telling me stories about Kashmir and Nehru and Manekshaw and from there we'd start talking about communism and religion and politics and you always made me feel so incredibly grown up and intelligent.

I wish I'd spent more time with you now. I wish I'd asked you more things. You always had so much to give but I never really reached out for it. But I loved you.

And every time I look at Venus shining in the sky, you will be in my heart.

12.8.09

The Library.

I discovered the college library today.

It's always been there of course- tucked away on one side of one of the many broad pillared corridors that look out onto the grass and the wind and the hot sun.

But I've only ever seen it from the outside, looking in through unfriendly doors at the must and the dampness and the bare wooden tables and harsh tubelights.

But I went inside for the first time today- not to browse through bookshelves but to use the internet.

And it's really quite beautiful if you take the time to notice it properly.

The furniture is uncompromising solid wood- but the wood is smooth and cold and dark and you can feel the students it has held over the years, all looking alike with dark heads, bowed together over old books, thinking thoughts that are both similar and unique.

The bookshelves are lined up in straight rows and if you wander in between them, you'll probably sneeze. They hold, like all bookshelves should, the musty smell of books that have been well thumbed.

And my god- the books! I only browsed through the history section and it held volumes and volumes about dysfunctional royalty and bloody wars and great, wise movements and great, wise people and ordinary people who woke up and decided to change the world.

And I thought of visiting the library when I had nothing to do and I imagined wandering over to one of the shelves, upstairs and downstairs, and breathing in that curious smell and choosing one of the leather bound books and ambling over to one of the long, broad wooden tables and sitting there, away from noise and away from sun. And I felt curiously happy.

The quiet, satisfied sort of happiness that you feel when you put forward a tiny soul root into new land.

6.8.09

glimpses of sun.

I have a creature- a really tall, blonde creature- in my life called the Annoying One. The Annoying One is known as A.O. for short.

A.O. is someone I'm very fond of. In fact, there is also quite a lot of love involved. I try not to let him see how much he actually means to me though, because I'd never hear the end of it. My insults would lose some of their sharpness and he'd never quite believe them again.

A.O. has, for the past several weeks, been travelling around the world. He made a stopover in Delhi for two days and since he's not aware of this blog's existence, and since most of my readers are convinced I'm suicidal and I believe I should try reassuring them, I'd like to say here and now, that they were a very happy two days. Golden.

A.O.'s gone now and in some ways it's worse, because I feel more alone than I did before. But I realised something very important.

You can't be happy all the time. Experiences don't have to be positive all the time. I shall not launch into a tirade about how misery emotionally strengthens you, because that's never worked for me. I've always drawn my strength from happiness.

All I know is, being with A.O. reminded me of things I'd forgotten. How important laughter is. And ice cream- the chocolate kind with the bits of brownie in it. Teasing and mindless television and long talks and big hugs and Long Island Iced Teas and the wind in your face and an incredibly bad joke and laughter all over again. Those are things I haven't experienced in a long time, and those are the things that really matter.

I found a bit of soul in Delhi, when I was travelling around in autos with him. It is there. I just need to look for it harder.

I'm not saying that my misery (and let's face it- I've always enjoyed being a miserable person) has disappeared yet. It hasn't even grown paler. But every road has patches of darkness. And right now I may be stumbling around, feeling alone and lost and helpless, and maybe I don't know why I'm still walking or even if I want to. But I do know that the sun is going to peep out now and then and when that happens, I shall cling to the warmth and carry it with me- a talisman.

Because, I hate to say it, but the world doesn't really let you be all that completely miserable all the time. It will show you its softness occasionally and it will show you cold rain after dusty winds.

I'm still not happy and I don't know if I'm going to be happy any time soon but I remember what happiness feels like now. I'll bide my time till it creeps up on me again.

There's a verse from somewhere that goes like this:

Look to this day:
For it is life, the very life of life.
In its brief course
Lie all the verities and realities of your existence.
The bliss of growth,
The glory of action,
The splendour of achievement
Are but experiences of time.

For yesterday is but a dream
And tomorrow is only a vision;
And today well-lived, makes
Yesterday a dream of happiness
And every tomorrow a vision of hope.
Look well therefore to this day;
Such is the salutation to the dawn!



It's good advice.