Friday, 10 October 2014

Dear Reader, sometimes during the day, I find myself in the grip of a it even sadness, I wonder? It is like that silence that can only be heard in the middle of the night.... that perfect silence that can make one even hear the thoughts that run in one's head at a zillion miles an hour....

I have come to realise that I actually crave this disjointed and alienating sadness....... Perhaps, if I let myself feel.... I would feel too much...That I would crave to be loved and wanted too much... It is not that I'm hated exactly, but I realised a long time ago that people don't like me much, even when I try hard to be liked.......

I know that you're thinking that I probably need to go see a psychiatrist, I have long thought so. However there are circumstances that have often made me rethink. You see I live next door to an asylum for the mentally infirm. I see them roaming around in the gardens subdued and becalmed due to the medicines they are on, and it makes me think about my own inner turbulence.

From my high vantage point of the neighbouring apartment building, it seems safe to observe people going through extraordinary calm lives, even if they do so under the influence of strong medication. I frequently find myself actually thinking that turbulence, fury, anguish and constant melancholy are preferable to the becalmed numbness, these medicines seem to bring on. Perhaps, I'm wrong in thinking thus, however I have decided that on reflection I prefer my peculiar kind of insanity to mundane sanity.

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Dear Reader, will it surprise you if I told you that I have recently become addicted to going to the Gym?However, I loathe this particular addiction, unlike my addiction to books. I suppose that after going on and on about the beauty of nature and the outdoors, you are sure to have deduced that I love the outdoors. However, it is rather difficult for anyone to go for a nice run when it is pouring, courtesy the 'Great Indian Monsoon'.

I crave the sense of normalcy of working-out on a regular basis. I really like running and I find that it lends coherence to my otherwise turbulent inner dialogue. I also like the fresh air and sense of achievement that only a nice long run can provide.

I must admit, that I do find these things whilst working out in a gym . However, at the risk of courting the wrath of all you serious gym aficionados..... I confess that I hate running on a treadmill. I feel absolutely no sense of achievement.

In a philosophical sense, I must explain that my love for running stems from my desire to lead a life full of movement. I want to go further than everyone I know, explore new avenues as opposed to doing all the work, going through major exertions yet staying put; quite akin to running on a treadmill; where you run but don't go anywhere.

So, I confess that despite the wonderfully plush surroundings and swanky equipment, the gym still hasn't managed to lure me away from the siren call of the asphalt on the open road.

Sunday, 31 August 2014

Of Euphoria, Parikrama, Strings and Junoon......

Dear Reader, today I stumbled across a song that I used to really love when I was in indie rock song by a band called Euphoria....Oh how I loved Euphoria... I remember that I gravitated to all these songs with the fusion beat.....I think that indie songs especially with a folksy-rock fusion beat is especially IN right now but, Euphoria was seriously something.

I prefer hard rock and old school rock and roll when it comes to english music but when it comes to hindi music I really like folksy-pop-rock... I suppose that it might even be an oxymoron but who cares. I remember spending countless evenings listening to Euphoria, Parikrama, Indian Ocean, Advaita, Junkyard Groove etc and even those amazing Pakistani bands.... Strings, Junoon, Jal, Fuzon and Zeest....

I love the fact that today all I have to do is tune into MTV Indies/ Coke studio/ Sound Treck/ The Dewarists/ Youtube  and listen to Papon, Monica Dogra, Swarathma or even Bangla Rock, but I do find myself longing for those days of innocence when one waited for a Euphoria album or an Indian Ocean/ Parikrama Concert and felt really cool to even know about Indian Rock.. :)

For those of you who are Indian/ Pakistani and grew up in the subcontinent during the 90's and early 00's I am sure that you know what I'm feeling nostalgic about. It was an experience that I am sure is up there with watching shows like Hip Hip Hurray...... kids now-a-days don't know what they've missed do they?

Ah..'Strings' I was crazy about this band! :)

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

In which I muse about the importance of 'Readers' for 'Writers'

Dear Reader, life is an interesting journey full of ups and downs....I have always felt the need to write about the interesting, mundane and sometimes bizarre turns that this journey takes. Things like the feeling of being loved by some, hated by others, successes and failures, flights and crashes and so on.

Unfortunately, my muse has been most uncooperative during the past couple of months and also certain personal roadblocks have proved to be distractions that have prevented me from writing this blog. I know and realise that I have a responsibility to myself as a blogger to maintain a steady flow of posts. With this in mind,  I have resolved to post regularly from now on, in order to always be in a position to write and to ward of writers block.

I know that most of my posts might not be interesting or useful. But are writers ever really fun, or even that interesting for anyone? Except of course for those select few called 'Readers'. I firmly believe that, it is our readers who make us identify ourselves as writers.

And so for all my noble and patient readers out there..... I will try my level best to be a good writer and communicate more through this blog. Until the next post.....

Sunday, 22 June 2014

True faces, different selfs and the madman with the looking glass....

Dear Reader, sometimes there are days when I go on thinking and thinking, musing about the meaning of life and the life that I lead, and the kind relationships that I have with people. I wish I was dynamic and that people would take me seriously.

I suppose when one is the sort to find humour in the oddest of situations, it is hard to be taken seriously by people in general. But, being a flaky bird with grandiose pretensions to being a ' Brainy one', can generally be a pain for one's family members. I've only recently realised that my parents are saints and the amount of patience it takes to deal with an annoying know it all.

A couple of years ago I saw this interesting movie about journeys and self discovery...One of the characters in the movie was a madman who used to run around the town square with a mirror urging the people to peer in and 'see' themselves. It is only now that I've realised that he really meant ' peering into the mirror and seeing our inner selves'; who and what we really are.

The past couple of months have acted the part of the madman with the mirror in my life and have brought out the hitherto hidden aspects of my self. I never realised the extent of my patience and strength. I have always thought that  I wanted momentum from life, and here I am dealing with stillness in a most surprising manner.

Perhaps, all of us have times in our lives when we peer into the looking glass and find a stranger who looks just like us staring back. Honestly, dear reader, it was quite startling when that happened to me. But now, I find myself getting used to looking at the new me. I know, that right now it is extremely difficult for the people around me to take me seriously, but I'm sure that there will be a time when someone will actually listen to me and hear the true meaning behind my words. Until then, I will bide my time and venture to discover my true face in the mirror; or perhaps I should just be the madwoman running about with the looking glass?    

Monday, 7 April 2014

HOME AND THE WORLD: When misogyny from within one's family, rather than the outside world forces to choke the life out of the gutsy feminist.

Dear Reader, it is not easy being a woman. It is even more difficult to be a young woman who is not a significant contributor to the financial standing in one's family...It is also excruciatingly painful to have brilliant liberal and supportive parents but a vile and misogynistic extended family.

My parents have always encouraged me to think for myself and be honest in my dealings with others, yet I ask you Dear Reader, is it really possible to be honest when social conventions force us to be nice to those who clearly hate us and make us miserable?

 In India, family and family values are considered paramount. In a culture that places huge importance in the collective that is the 'Great Indian Extended Family', it is hard to ignore family members who have the capacity to leach every single drop of joy from your body with derisive glances and cutting words. As a 'well brought up young woman' one is expected to show every modicum of civility to them as 'the parent's honour depends upon it'.

It is a frustrating conundrum Dear Reader, why is having a vagina in the 'Great Indian Bourgeois Family' an open invitation to disapproval, constant criticism about behaviour / cooking skills / lifestyle / body / opinions etc? I will probably be embarrassed when I read this post in future, but I have a confession...I know what it is like to feel as low as it is humanly possible. In a culture where a woman's opinions have no weightage or are considered insignificant, I feel doubly frustrated. As hosts, we are taught to be gracious, but being insulted by various family members constantly in front of one's parents as well as behind the scene is excruciating at so many different levels.

As a highly educated feminist, one can't help but chafe under the restrictions, good manners and certain unavoidable circumstances puts one under. Yet, there is another being that lives within this highly educated feminist; the daughter, who feels guilty at causing pain to the said brilliant, liberal and supportive parents who place a lot of store into good manners. By indulging in impulsive, reactionary and insulting put downs that the horrid relatives deserve, I  would only expose my parents to ridicule from their siblings/in laws and lead to further embarrassment. Thus, sadly, in this struggle, the highly educated feminist loses to the daughter.

However, it is important that I share my realisation with you my Dear Reader, cynical though it may seem.... The road to freedom, equality and respect it is still an extremely daunting and difficult one, when our own kin stand in the way, presenting us with debilitating psychological hurdles, that are perhaps tougher than breaking down the walls that society places in front of all of us dedicated to the feminist cause. 

Saturday, 5 April 2014

Oh Calcutta......Soul city..... City of I love thee!

New Market

Dear Reader, Kolkata on the surface is a dirty, slightly dilapidated, overcrowded city, but it has SOUL...and what a luminous soul it is....One that has survived centuries of the Raj, Riots and the languid indolence of the 'Bhadralok'; the bourgeois snobs, who live their lives entirely disconnected with society......

The heat and humidity are nearly unbearable, to even one such as yours truly, so used to the dusty and torrid embrace of the Delhi summers.Yet Dear Reader, Kolkata still manages to capture you. I love this city. My love affair with this metropolis began at the age of six, when I first came here for a visit. I was one of those kids who would tag along with uncles and aunts and end up visiting places. On that occasion, I tagged along with my uncle, my mother's younger brother who was on his way to the city. Back then she was Calcutta and one of my most poignant childhood memories is crossing in front of the Victoria Memorial at 5 am. The first rays of the sun turned the marble monument into gold, a sight, not many have the privilege of seeing. I remember, my indulgent uncle made the cabbie stop for a while right in front of the gate and in hindsight probably ran up the cab fare to more than it should have been. That was the moment I fell in love with Calcutta.

The Victoria Memorial
Imagine the sight Dear Reader, a looming white marble monument suddenly appearing out of the January mist, and then catching fire and turning into molten gold as the rising sunlight caressed it's white and pristine beauty. For my six year old self  it was an enchanted fairy castle which had appeared out of the mist by magic. I remember how my uncle entertained me and the cabbie with tall tales of fairy princesses, kings, queens, wizards and chariots of fire that he swore revealed the castle's true golden hue as they circled it... It is one of my most treasured memories; we returned that evening and we went around the monument in a horse drawn phaeton. You can well imagine Dear Reader, how special that day was, I truly felt like a princess.

Alas, I am not six anymore, and Calcutta is now Kolkata,  however, I have still managed to retain my impression of the city...A city of princes and paupers...a city of dreams mired in bleak reality. It is mystifying how Calcutta has managed to retain it's unique verve through the ages.

Park Street
One of my favourite places in the city, Park Street stands sentinel to nearly 300 years of history and Calcutta's existence. It is like a faded, unwashed cousin of the gorgeous Regent Street in London, littered with charming book shops and patisseries choc-a-block with government and corporate offices; and yet, beneath all the grime and surprising vines and creepers, you can spy the marble cherubs, the muses and the griffins. The beautiful detail work on the columns and the topmost fa├žades of the buildings, reveal the regal beauty of the architecture of  a bygone era.    
The Standard Life Assurance Building

This Dear Reader, is Calcutta's soul, resilient and charming, like that beautiful and graceful old lady whose features make it apparent of her youthful beauty that refused to fade beneath the wrinkles brought on by age. She is gracious and gentle, commanding respect and full of stories and tales of the past, yet still, her relevance and presence provides a balm to the chaotic 21st century nomad.
The General Post Office Building

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

in which I look into the mirror only to find a stranger look back...

Dear Reader, have you ever watched a show on the telly that everyone is just raving about and found that you absolutely hate it? Well, I have recently been exposed to a show that made me actually ask myself some really awkward questions... Is it that I've changed so much fundamentally that I find certain things (that I might have enjoyed even two years ago) vacuous and idiotic....or was I the one who was vacuous and idiotic?

As I approach another birthday, one that is going to take me from one part of my twenties into another; I find myself looking in the mirror at someone really different from the person who stared back at me during my college years. I  find the girl looking back at me slightly alarming....not the looks really, it is just the eyes, specifically the expression. It used to be animated and bright but now it is guarded and angry..

There have been times in my life when I've looked into the mirror to find a new me looking back. The last time this happened, was in my teens when I looked in expecting the child, to only find the innocence curiously blink back and vanish.

They say that our eyes are the mirrors to our soul. I don't know if that's true, however I do know that the mirror never lies. If one really looks at oneself....really looks, one can always find the truth within oneself. I found a peculiar emptiness and darkness that I have always associated with being an adult. I find myself scared and worried for the child that still lurks within. You see, I tenaciously held on to remnants of my  childhood, yet now I find it slipping away through my fingers. It's ephemeral presence seems to be gradually receding, replaced by this  heavy permanence of being all grown up.

Perhaps, it was meant to be, still, it makes me wonder at myriad faces of life and it's 'ever constant changefulness'. I hope this post with it's incredibly philosophical content doesn't bore you much dear most writers I wish daily, that every sentence that I write or speak is frightfully witty and intelligent; however if I do come across as idiotic and boring forgive me... I am after all only human and promise to try and write a more entertaining post next time.... 

Friday, 21 February 2014

In which I address my serious addiction to books

Dear Reader, there is something really special about reading an interesting book whilst listening to melodious music. It can transport you to another realm, a place full of possibilities.... a place where our imagination reigns supreme....

In my case reading is a way of life, and listening to good music only makes living worthwhile. I don't really need to hear the lyrics, sometimes the melody is enough to take me to that other place...the world of my dreams. A realm in which the memorable characters from my favourite books dwell.

I have a confession dear reader, after I read a good book, I have a hard time coping with reality. I get lost in the language, words which are so beloved to me make everything worthwhile. A good book together with a perfect melody can make me forget all my problems.

In that world, I am able to live a thousand lives, go through numerous adventures, have unique experiences and fulfill all the hidden yearnings that accompany any deeply introspective human being.

We live in a world where we have to wear different masks for the different people and circumstances, our true face always hidden; so much so that sometimes it becomes to recognise ourselves in the mirror...  I believe that books provide us with an outlet for our wandering minds. In my case every time I pick up a book, I get this incredible breath quickens and I feel this sense of anticipation, quite like something one feels before a date with a hunky guy....

Now, I know that you think that I need to seriously get out more, however, can you actually tell me that you don't understand the power the written word holds over us....For some, it is getting lost in lyrical poetry, for others it is reading a robust prose that makes them lose track of time. Who needs the pursuit of the 'perfect mate' when one can just open Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice and have Mr Darcy leap out of the pages into one's imagination.... Slaying dragons and having an adventure like Bilbo Baggins is just curling up with Tolkien's ' The Hobbit ' with a warm cuppa and listening to the Kinks greatest hits....

 I could go on and on Dear Reader,  for me reading a good book is akin to stepping inside a complicated maze and then having the most enjoyable time finding my way out. I suppose, I should really own up to the fact that I have a serious addiction to books. So Yes, I admit it...if the accusation of being  a bookworm is one of my many faults, I suppose there could have been worse foibles. I end this post with this thought: remember the last book that engrossed you to a great degree.....Perhaps, you'll understand and encourage this most noble of addictions then eh?      

Monday, 10 February 2014

To the best of fathers...

Dear Reader, Fathers, they are the best and the worst….they say that the relationship between fathers and daughters are really special. If I said that my father is perhaps the most interesting man in my life, you’ll roll your eyes …but it’s true!
To say that our relationship is tumultuous, would be an understatement….but behind the bickering, the constant disagreements and the furious silences; lies a love that only a daughter can feel for her father. My father is not my best friend, he is not sweet or even gentle, he is in fact the strongest man I know.

By strength, I don’t mean that he is a physical colossus; it is his mental strength and the strength of his character that inspires me daily. We have had our differences through the years, indeed, there were times that I thought that the differences in our temperaments and way of dealing with things was insurmountable.

Yet there he was, supporting me through the worst times in my life. He gave me strength to take the toughest decisions in my life. I may not be the best daughter in the world but I know that I have a wonderful father, who perhaps drew a short straw when I was foisted on him...But, do you know dear reader, I am glad..I love him for his frowns and his smiles that he tries to hide, and for his morals and his unconditional support....I love you rock..I may not say this often but you really are the best of fathers. J

Friday, 17 January 2014

In which I realise how important it is to be there for good friends going through a dark phase.......

Dear Reader, the other day I realised that living in an extreme state of melancholia while still retaining a kick-ass sense of humour is actually possible....and also how self- centred, we are as a generation.

I met a very old and dear friend "M", a couple of days ago completely by chance and I barely recognised her. Let me tell you something about M, she was this really smart cool girl that everyone liked, she was never boring and her sense of humour was legendary!

She was also kind of hot so most of the guys really liked her, she was one of those rare girls who did not have issues with her body or image which made her extremely likeable. We loved her and always thought that she'd end up doing great things.

A couple of years ago M sort of vanished. We figured that she was finally doing what she always said she'd do, spend time backpacking through Europe or live in South America or Africa.... We spent a couple of minutes during get- togethers speculating her whereabouts, even in absence, M was interesting. So imagine my shock when I bumped into a  nearly unrecognisable M in the most unlikely of places.

She was so different, it was clear that she was going through a really bad time. I made her tag along with me as we began what turned out to be a long chat. I realised something about myself dear reader...something upsetting...I am a terrible friend. M has always been there for me, there were times when she travelled across the city just to see me. There were times over the past couple of years when she called but I was busy and didn't pick up.

I never realised how horribly self centred we become as adults. We all promised our friends that we would stay in touch but, did we mean it. There is always that one person in a group who is always there for the others, who always calls and takes calls, who is willing to spend countless hours listening to our crap, who is a wonderful friend. M was that, she has been there for all her friends, she is basically the best person I know.

She isn't perfect, she never was, at one point in our lives people would confuse us, as we have vague similarities. I always took that as a compliment. When I saw her, with her sad eyes and teary smiles, it was like looking into a distorted mirror, she could have been me and I could have been her...if I had spent the last three years without a job, without any friends in a state of limbo, I would probably not have retained any faith or kindness.

It is apparent that M is in a state of severe depression, her smiles had a certain hesitant quality that pained me. But she still was extremely kind and soft spoken, her rage and anguish at what she termed her 'failures' were turned inwards. During the course of our meeting, I found myself confiding my worries, I had reverted back to the old pattern, I felt so selfish dear reader... I should have been there. I should have called when she didn't. If the situation was reversed she would have been there.

We live in a cruel world, not many show kindness, and I can certainly say that we are highly self-involved..I thus feel that sometimes we should be there for others. It is really important for us to be there for the few real friends we have. Next time read between the lines, look past the bright smiles to the sad eyes, call if the other doesn't..maybe she got tired of always being the one to call....don't learn about her wish to die....just give her a reason to live....see past her black humour to the underlying melancholia.....

Thus dear reader, if you have a friend who needs you for once, be there for him/ could perhaps prevent something awful....or life could just be one full of that great regret....If dear reader, you are in a dark place, reach out...I am sure that there is someone out there who loves you and was just careless....and didn't really mean to lose touch.....Give your friends a chance to prove that they care.....

Friday, 10 January 2014

The pedestrian feminist

Dear Reader, I am not a great thinker, I am just opinionated. I believe that we are all entitled to our opinions, however 'pedestrian' they may be. Also in today's age of information we are perfectly entitled to air our opinions on various platforms of our choice.

Thus when I call myself a feminist, I do not take it lightly, I do so not because it is in vogue. It is something I believe in and I expect to be taken seriously as one. The past week taught me something about principles, hypocrisy and betrayal.

When I called myself pedestrian, I was not being sarcastic, in fact I was congratulating myself on not being the 'model feminist'. My explanation to the above phrase is simple, I refuse to of the major issues I have with certain women who call themselves feminists is that they practice a form of intellectual snobbery that is chauvinist in it's own way....

I am obliquely referring to some 'sisters' who are of a certain age and have been part of the movement for as they put it ....A LONG TIME........there seems to be this silence from young feminists...the fact is that many journals say that they don't really have a voice...the truth is that most of us do have voices, some of us however shy away from coming across as not dedicated enough! Or in some cases (like mine) are not given the opportunity to express our views.

I would thus like to state it clearly on this blog, that I am not ashamed of my views being called pedestrian, by some....if being a 'pedestrian', and 'commonplace' means that I am inclusive and respect the opinions of others even if I disagree with them; then I am proud to be a 'Pedestrian Feminist'.