Reading, revisiting

I took out ‘reading’ from my list of hobbies a couple of years ago. I remember going to public library to borrow algorithms texts last year. The year before that, I browsed the shelves for books on development studies and sociology. This year, I’ve visited only on behalf of my mother to get her yoga books from the ground floor main section.

It is quite probable that I was never an avid reader. I mostly read what Achu annan suggested/bought me. An omnibus for every birthday when I was young. A lot of Paulo Coelho from our school library. Those standard books almost everyone reads – Kite Runner, To kill a mockingbird, JD Salinger.

He bought me Cat’s Eye in my final year and it was great. For some reason, I really liked reading books written by women. There was this book by a lady – I forget the name but I’m sure I have it written down in one of my diaries – it talked of suitors and hemming lines, dainty glass cups taken out in the afternoons with designs on them, extra linen stored away in cupboards and wardrobes, recipe books with extra scribblings in pencil on margins, and double curtains – not necessarily all plush (mostly not and those being the best kind. Too cosy. Is it too English, early 20th centuryish? There were Indian books among them as well. Unlike Wodehouse with golf and butlers, that was my brother’s thing.

Sapiens is lying around and he has asked me to read it, more than a couple times. I tried and the contents page gave me the idea of a summary of Anthropology texts – evolution. Achu annan still vouches for it, but I’m not sure I’d visit again. I had a similar experience with 100 years of solitude. Made a mental note of returning later to see if maybe I liked it now, but haven’t yet.

So – I started reading again. My reading has, over last 2 years, been reduced to blogs on WordPress (mostly recipes of thoroughly familiar and straightforward stuff like dal – yes it’s a fetish), Medium articles and more stuff off the internet. On Sundays I look for Vasundhara Chauhan’s cookery and recipes or culinary experiences in Hindu – mutton cooked in pressure cookers with meat falling off the bone and tender chicken pieces in stew. All of G. Sampath’s satirical stories, especially the ones where his complainant wife is cooking a curry, and finishes before the raunchy couple he’s watching on tv does.

As always, I digress.

I’m reading Winesburg, Ohio. It’s a small town where everyone knows each other. I picked it from a list of rustic set books. Honestly, I do not stick to settings though, and I picture a prairie-land – yellow meadow of grasses with sun shining over, intermittent cottage houses with ivy walls and narrow roads connecting them. The landscape in “Love comes slowly” precisely describes it. Once in a while Sherlock Holmes visits to solve a case, unimpressed, and the lady from A Sound of Music is running amidst the dry grasses, singing in the evenings in her skirt-gowns. All the women are strong and wear layers of clothing. The men are strong as well, like in those movies set in Ireland and they eat freshly baked bread and chicken pies from firewood ovens with gravy.

There’s a beach adjacent to it, the shore from a story about an old man once written by a friend.  Somehow it fit there right next to the prairie.

The meadow segues into the short grassy ground in front of our engineering college quarters, where boys played in the evenings after school and fresh cow milk was delivered by a woman who lived in the depths of the road that went behind our house, to far away from where the sun shines.

There was a Facebook challenge long back, where you had to pick an image out of 4, and it showed your personality. I know it sounds too simplistic, it was; I remember 3 of the options – the sky, the sea and a meadow.
If you picked the sea it meant you’re outgoing, love hanging out with people etc. I was the meadow (I remember being terrified of the sea picture lol). I can’t remember what the description said but it fit me so maybe it was the cliché loves to curl up in bed and doesn’t like going out as much. I made a mental note to keep revisiting every few years to see if I ever picked the sea.

We were taught “Daffodils” in middle school (I think we all were, irrespective of the schools we went to). I had no idea what a daffodil looked like, the teacher did describe them but our brains have their own way of concocting images, no? I was stuck in a vast daffodil field for a long time. The field over time metamorphosed into the meadow, the prairie and everything else. I googled to find a match to the image in my head, sometimes it occurred in dreams, sometimes in stories and movies, it just wasn’t daffodils anymore. I don’t think it ever was.

I think somewhere in my childhood reading or English poetry classes, I got lost in one of those villages. And I refuse to come out.

Or maybe I just love revisiting.


Do you know what the worst part about writing is? It sometimes takes the magic out of things. I swear.

I remember writing about Indian coffee house once. It took me a long time to feel again what I wrote about after posting it, cos when I returned all I could think of were people’s comments. It’s like exposing a part of you. More importantly, it’s just not in my head anymore, I’ve put it down in words thereby limiting it – defining it. You know?

It’s like some things shouldn’t be put on paper until you’re ready to let go of them.

So Winesburg, Ohio – it’s mostly men’s stories – men from Winesburg, a small village town with vast open fields. There are women obviously else I couldn’t bear it. This author Sherwood Anderson wrote it, there are dainty cups from time to time, soft hands and wistful smiles and a lot of cynicism. But most importantly, there are evenings with the sun shining over the village and its cottages.

I don’t think I do a good job at a charismatic or even an accurate description. But I think I might be writing less and reading more now.

It’s time to get lost again.

Beautiful polish meadow with fence in late spring
I’ll leave you with this image assuming you too like cosy beds
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Cry

I’m a crier.

I mean I own a weak-ass heart that feels too much.

It’s funny because I didn’t quite cry for a long time, although I was sad for the longest time. Then came this study leave before sixth semester exams in college when I cried 24×7.

Like after a breakup you look at your face in the washbasin mirror but realize it’s already wet all over with tears.
Like you don’t cry for two decades, and then you do.
And you can’t stop.

So one evening after my second last exam I cried to someone, and although I didn’t think it was possible, this time I cried it out.
Well, most of it. Which is when I started crying for all the right (you decide) reasons.

For those of us that feel too strongly, crying just happens to be the easiest release in a world where we’re a minority. It isn’t reserved just for when I’m really sad or really happy, it’s for everything overwhelming in between.


At how time conned us, and didn’t let me meet my parents’ magnificent younger selves.

As most 70/80s songs play, I can see my father contesting elections in engineering college (to lose, of course) in black & white, while my mother (in color, cos she has described the shades of her college saris to me) is studying her ass off in medical college hostel. Achan vehemently yells SFI slogans in CET while Amma scoffs at party members in MCH, and they both listen and tap their feet to the same songs, but I never got to see or hear any of it.

Neither know at the time they’d marry each other. Or that they’d have 3 kids who’ll listen to them humming these songs (with a much much lower tempo) some 15 years later on moonlit nights at engineering college quarters, sleeping on their shoulders and laps and chests. So I was upset when I finally heard the originals of Aayiram Padasarangal Kilungi  – “that’s NOT how you sing it, those are not even the lyrics, this record is all SO wrong”.
Because that’s not how Achan sang it to us.

Some days I wonder at how beautiful the world looks during sunrise and wish I could broadcast it across people’s minds in a network so we can feel one another (okay Amal I know that sounds wrong on many levels).
Or how we could both be looking at it and I could be thinking of you right now, and you could be thinking of me, but we’d never know.

And the sunrise could be a Kathak performance or a ghazal recital, or two lines of a brilliant poem or a song or an instrument, the beauty of how its boundlessness dissolves us into one, for as brief and fleeting a moment it be.

Like listening to Vijay Yesudas’ Malare and remembering that’s the closest I can listen to his father’s voice sing it, and how we weren’t lucky enough to belong to the generation whose lives can be traced along Yesudas’ songs.

Or those dusty college windows with sunlight streaming into classrooms and how there was never such a romance as Premam to enjoy all of that on evenings after classes, how I never had the appetite for those back then either.

Of how we were (I mean I was) ugly and sweaty and sick dressers in school (and college, pfft) and how the people and the happiness was innocently believed to be ‘a trial version of what’s to follow’ yet the trial was the best there ever came.

That there was this magical duet of If I Lose Myself we practised during monsoon 2015, when the song could hardly be heard over the patter on chetan’s studio roof, that we never took a video of, that the world never got to see, that’ll die in team memories.

Or of how we cycled through the college forests at Madras at 4am on borrowed bicycles after placing a wrist watch on loan, stopping under orange streetlamps for breaths and shouting across roads, turning in zigzags as trucks passed us by, not knowing it would be our only time.

Of how often I deserved to lose so many from my life yet how they always stayed. And stayed.

Of longing to have known certain people just a little bit more, and to have hung onto certain chapters of our lives just a little bit longer.

How life is short and life is unfair and life is cruel and yet how it comes back together to us every time. And just how much we endure in those hopes. Alone.

Of the stories we hear delivered, and how there remains so much more untold.
Of how no poetry is more beautiful than the conversations we leave unexplored.

And at the end of the day, how we all deserve more.
So much more.


I know most of this is worth smiling over. But you can only smile so much.
And then you can only cry.

No?

(I quit) Dragon hunting

G and I don’t talk a lot. I need to notify a day in advance so the Flight mode is switched off and we can call. So when we do, it’s for the most pressing of issues.
“I’m considering quitting dragon-hunting”, I chip in. At this point, I haven’t decided and am awaiting comments. Speculation is in order.

“Yes”.
Not No.
Not Think about it maybe.
Not even The world doesn’t care anyway so stop only if you want to, as I’d hoped.

Yes/No’s are powerful. They break hearts. They ruin self-esteem. They cause damage that takes a lifetime to heal. Yes/No’s change life as we know it.
Do not ask unless you’re ready to have it go either way.

The thing is, (surprise) I don’t really hunt dragons. Not because they do not exist, I knew that when I became a dragon-hunter. I couldn’t care less even if they did.
I do not make a living out of it, I hardly make anything out of it really. And not many know I call myself one, it’s privy to few. You don’t just tell people that you’re (surprise) boring, you let them figure it out.

Now I don’t have a particularly fragile heart, but dragons are a sensitive matter.

Well that’s all for today, I quit. There’s stuff aplenty out here on earth I’ve found, so I don’t think I’ll be going back anytime soon.
At least the dragons are happy.

 

 

Dear UPSC –

IMG_20170626_132622.jpgFrom UPSC Prelims Paper – 2017

When you read Statement No. 3 and wonder :

  • Was that sarcasm?
  • Or maybe it’s UPSC’s way of presenting to students a light-hearted moment in the middle of a stressful test?
  • WAAAAIT, is this a tactic to screen for anti/nationalist tendencies? If so, screen in or out? Omg, has the day come?

Answer is option (a), good to know that was uncalled for. Or maybe it’s a screening out process 😀

For those who want to know how my test went, maybe I’ll write about it in another post. One exam joke is quite enough for a day. Here’s the full paper –

Civil Services Preliminary Paper 1 (General Studies) – 2017

Hot vs Cold

Yesterday, we slept with the AC on almost all through the night. It’s hot because our room is on the 4th floor right below the terrace.

I turned the AC on a few minutes ago, and it smells weird.

“It’s probably pigeon shit”

“Or it’s pigeon semen,” says my roommate.

The couple does indulge in copulation while occupying the top of our window AC. I mean I don’t really know if that’s it, the two pigeons flutter around and on top of each other quite frantically, and my roommate and I take turns to say “Dude why can’t they find another AC once in a while.”

My only means to confirm is to Youtube ‘pigeon sex’ but I’d rather just go with it.

Either way, it smells weird.

Winter’s cool because you just have to add on layers of clothes until you (think you) are okay to deal with the cold outside. And though you can’t get out after a hot bath with no clothes on because you’ll freeze in the 2 seconds you take to run for life and turn on your tiny heater, and you can’t stop itching your wet skin in hot water because it’s too satisfying (it WILL leave marks), at least you can go 3-3.5 months without a wax/shave because all you wear are sweaters and stuff.

You can sleep in bed all day everyday wrapped up in quilts or attend all those Littfests happening. But what good are summers?

Also no mango trees in my PG.

But who misses home?

Do evenings still make you miss home, they ask.

Pfft no not any more that was almost a year ago when I’d just left Trivandrum.

It was New Year and we were supposed to celebrate. I knew we were supposed to cos the reading room had remained shut. So the 60-odd souls, some unbespectacled (like me from the good ol’ days), mostly with specs and clothes worn straight for a week were made to dig up their roots growing from beneath their seats where they sit eating up WiFi all day and night, getting up only to attend calls and nature’s  calls.

The reading room basically shoves its occupants out once in a while viz. Holi, Christmas, etc and that’s how we know that it’s been a month or two or a year even. Well, two in some cases.

Since we were supposed to celebrate, I stayed in my room, ordered food and chomp-chomped watching Julia Roberts eating (well something between that and sucking in but isn’t that how many of us slurp it) spaghetti off her Italian plate, Katut sermons in tropical and sweaty Bali, When You Say Nothing At All in the middle of a park and singing Forever and Ever at rehearsal dinner table at the Best Friend’s Wedding.

I slept off somewhere in the middle.

When I woke up, it was dark and raining. Outside the window, there were lights and honking from rain-induced traffic below.

The tall curtains were only half-drawn and there was an army of headlights at the signal. Orange streetlamps bathed the building in front of mine from under, a pigeon was perched on its roof against the deep maroon sky, or was it?

Slanting slivers of rain hugged at my panes and more kept beating against, drowning everything else with them.

And I had that really strange/lonely/confused/clueless feeling when you wake up after an evening nap, and the first question when you open your eyes and scan the darkness around is (always), Am I in Hogwarts? Gryffindor Living Room? We must be on our Hogsmeade trip, I probably slept off. And finally to find out what ‘gingerbeer’ tastes like. Where are the others though?

Then you come to your senses that it isn’t Hogwarts. You never caught the train, never got the letter, you missed the feasts and the Sorting Hat and the Quidditch and Fred n George and everything else JK Rowling had promised. This is when it’s worst, when you feel like you missed the last 10 years of your life in ignorant sleep, when you are reminded that Hogwarts was a big big joke on you, and even if it wasn’t a joke, you’re 22 now. So again, joke’s on you.

In these deep situations, I usually decide I’ll make do with chaya if not gingerbeer. So I call for Amma.

Except this time, there was no chaya either. So I was just sitting on my bed, staring at the window not least because it was an inconsequential Jan 1 – it always is – but because it was evening. Alone.

Achan Amma were probably watching the 7pm news in our living room now, an old habit that stuck on from the days of Doordarshan. He would have attended the JanaMaitri meeting in the evening and she would now have lit the lamp and he would have shut all the windows to keep out mosquitoes, and they would’ve settled in front of the TV after tea.

Usually, it used to be Achan Amma and me on weekends. Usually, we would eat the stew I had cooked after extracting the three thengapaal’s (coconut milk) watching Om Shanthi Oshana at 5 pm (Asianet played that a lot).

Oh look who else wears shorts at home like paru, she says.

At least she doesn’t look homeless, says he, every time. Oh pinne’s (Yeah right’s) would surface. It happened so often it is almost a ritual.

Do evenings still remind me of home?
Some days, especially New Year’s, I think.

But what’s life without a little missing?

Life Updates

OKAY LONG TIME NO POST.

Life Update 1 : Youtuuuuuuuuube!
Today, I’m a 13 year old girl that wants to marry Ryan Higa.

I always believed the best bloggers are the ones who tell you a lot about their lives without telling you much about themselves. You’d know if you know. I’m not so sure if I believe in that theory anymore, also I’ve been out of touch with WordPress for a while (Life Update No.2).
Also I deleted Whatsapp and have been off of Facebook and Instagram (Life Update No. 3).

I recently realized I have friends check my blog when jobless or something because apparently it’s more hassle-free than texting (calling I can maybe understand but texting, seriously). Also when have I put up Life Updates on my blog? Yeah okay.

Somebody said I should be happy since I get more views.

See thing is, I’m not at that point in life where I’d rather have views than messages.

Some day I’ll edit out and post the 21 drafts from my PC and the 19 from my phone’s Evernote. Some day I’d prefer blog visits over personal messages. That day, dear readers, is not today.

Maybe if I were getting paid, but I’m not. So like I said, not at that point.

Yet.

Also why I’m not responding to the Sunshine Blogger Award Shweta nominated me for. I don’t really get awards, but then again I don’t get them either. But thankyou Shodha 😀 Will reply and nominate soon enough. I find the Award-nominate-stuff lingo interesting for want of a better word.

(Update: Sunshine Blogger Award)

Also I cannot work on the lap for long since I got specs last month (Life Update No. 4) and it hurts, I should’ve seen that coming since the movie marathon that began as a part of my personal New Year Celebration got diversified and extended to over 2 months. From Notting Hill to Youtube to my Path to Slow but Sure Blindness.

I deleted all superfluous apps from my phone right after I got diagnosed with myopia – okay it’s just shortsightedness but it’s not just shortsightedness, it’s the onset of you know what. In my case that is, I just know it.

With specs on, I look like the annoyingly prodding kid that goes “What’s this? What’s that? Why is this like this? Why is that like that?” I hate them too.

Life Update No. 5 : Youtube  (To whomsoever it may concern, just to be clear I’m not getting paid for this, or for anything else I do as a matter of fact)

If you’re from Trivandrum, and especially if away from home, you should watch Uppum Mulakum 😀

Lilly Singh – funn and relatable if you’re from India. Oh look at me all fancy pretending to have non-Indian readers. Slowly realize it’s for high school kids, so move on to..

Brandon Rogers – OFFENSIVE. Savage more often than not. Cusses a lot. Scary shit at times. Not for the faint-hearted (I skip some of it truly madly deeply). Or the easily offended. Or the nice people. But genuinely cleverly creative – makes you go “I COULD NEVER HAVE THOUGHT OF THAT” if you’re me but then you’re not me so I guess there’s no point but you’d know if you know.

Ryan Higa – Clean, neat, smash. Puns and sarcasm, creativity and I might as well add good looks. I’m a bad advertiser and an even worse seller, but it is more than fart jokes trust me.

I don’t mean to sound racist or anything, but I didn’t know you could crush on Chinese/Japanese/Korean guys. Something about that sounds racist, especially those chinky hashes, I think.

I had a couple of friends who’d go all K-Popish lockish someish and I distinctly remember watching a couple of their videos in school after Sreya mentioned it, they look great but again, they all look alike. Now I know I just never tried. Did I mention I’m a troubled 13 year old girl today.

If you’re racist like I used to be, you’d find Ryan Higa similar to all the other Chinese/Japanese/Korean guys. Except Jackie Chan and PSY and the Pen-Pineapple-Apple-Pen guy. OH GOD that sounds like the most racist thing I’ve ever read. But then he’s American so not even.

And he’s funny. Also, he dances.

*dies*

Just Between Us – Um, the best?

PS : Life Updates are cool, but I hope you know they aren’t what they claim to be. Nothing on the internet is. Thanks.