I seem to have accumulated this horrible habit of not finishing what I start. Three of my attempts at short stories are hidden away in some lame ass corner of this Net book. My half finished copy of Tibor Fischer lies on the shelf at work and so do PDF’s of Pnin and who killed palomino Molero? Apart from feeling continued disgust with myself, I cannot produce much reaction to rectify this habit. I can think of a 100 other things I should be doing right about now, like getting to the ignored bundle of papers sitting on my table waiting to be valued or finally finishing writing the damn report for a research project I am now wondering how and why I said yes to. Now that I think of it, when I am not doing either of those things or worrying about why I am not doing either of those things, I watch Gilmore Girls. Maybe I should stop watching the damn show after all! It has been way too long. I can look for inspiration elsewhere, like in finally being able to meet with deadlines and being able to write every day.
Sometimes my desires scare me. I have never really been scared of silence but I am afraid of the fear of silence. I am scared about not wanting space, freedom and choices. I am scared of regret, of guilt, of screwing up. Most of all, I fear wanting to go back. I haven’t gone there yet. Because I am scared of wanting to come back. I am scared of not knowing myself enough to leave home and live alone. What if I hate my own prolonged company? What if I start craving for the company of others’? What if I cannot deal with the silence in my home? What if I start craving for familiar noise? The TV, footsteps on the stairs, the sound of the gates being opened and closed, the doorbell, the smell, the warmth, the cold, the things I never noticed before- walls, the color of my bathroom window, the dust on the ceiling, the carvings on the door, the Sunday morning dosas, the quiet evenings of days I stay back home, the desire to leave home and run?
So while invigilating this morning on a stomach that had last seen or heard of food some 14 hours ago, I did the dumbest thing. I thought about the food I had had last week at Republic of Noodles. Put simply, Republic of noodles is the best restaurant in the history of the world. On a bad day, I think of the food I had there and make myself more miserable. I can now only make vague attempts at recalling the taste and try to produce it in writing, thereby scarring forever, my memory of the food that I had there.
So I went there on a warmish Tuesday afternoon. I had only just had a pleasant day but I am convinced that if I had had a terrible day and was waiting to die, the food at republic of noodles would have saved the day and me.
I am bad at ordering. I want all the things on the menu, even though my appetite sucks. I can’t choose what I want because if I order one, I keep dreaming about the other. Over the last few months I have been thinking about the tedious process that is ordering; having said that, it also requires practiced skill to be able to order like a champ. It seems like ordering food off the menu is just as serious business as eating. All of this could very well be pompous bullshit coming from some Victorian person’s ass but it makes sense to me now because I have only just begun to enjoy eating.
I started with the Roast Duck soup with pickled lime. Funny thing about restaurants like these is the suffix- like thingies that are added after the main item. Roast Duck soup with pickled lime. I mean all the while I was waiting for the food to arrive I had only imagined the roast duck; I hadn’t quite registered the pickled lime yet. I mean who thinks about lime in that way?
So the soup arrives in this ceramic black bowl and I can smell the meat struggling to waft through the thickness that I assumed was the soup. The soup was not thick though. It was thin and watery. Although I have my doubts about thin and watery soups, my first sip permanently changed my conception about the thick and thin nonsense. It was meaty and just that. While the meat itself was very soft, the soup was consistently getting sharper in taste. I think it was because I was beginning to taste the tiny strips of pickled lime. I got conned. I thought the pickled lime was just some flavour that may not even be physically present in the soup. I was so wrong. Just as I was finishing the soup, the lime bits became more and more playful. They were doing something to the texture of the soup.
Soon after I emerged from the duck soup, I saw a bunch of banana leaves being escorted to the table. The waiter put one on my plate and vanished. I looked at it with mild interest for sometime before unfolding the ‘Grilled fish in Banana leaves’. There were 5 pieces, each squarely cut.
I undressed my fish and looked. It promised me meat and because a faint trace of coconut was travelling around the vicinity, I took the promise very seriously. Turns out it was the best thing I had ever put in my mouth. The fish was perfectly cooked; the masala and the oil were sharp and allowed me many moments of oohing and aahing. I think I maybe partial to the fish because of its coconut friend. Even the orphaned slice of the sad looking tomato cheered me up because the coconut had befriended it too. I was only recovering from my food death when some interesting looking bamboo container was placed next to me. It had Jasmine rice in it to accompany my fish in coconut and tamarind gravy.
The Jasmine rice smelled great enough to fill my already bursting stomach and the curry looked inviting. At my first bite I died many times. I feel terrible about dying so many times and so badly at that but the curry simply felt like coconut goodness. I have never understood the expression food melting in the mouth until now. I think my mouth was favouring the coconut and the fish so much that it may have overshadowed the tamarind, bits of which I could only taste after I was full.
All of these earth-shattering orgasms were washed down with coconut milk and chestnut jelly for dessert, which I should write about at some point.
I have been to the republic of noodles twice now. The fish in banana leaves and in the coconut curry are taking too many liberties with my dreams even now. I am waiting to go there again and this time I am going to take lots of pictures and write again.
I was 14 when I took to drinking tea. Back then it was only ever made to accompany my special white maggi. My special white maggi was maggi noodles only partly cooked with no masala. Maybe because of this, I was the only person at home to ever eat it and enjoy it. I liked the wheaty uncooked maggi taste. I don’t think I can eat it anymore though. My pica disorder has found fulfillment in other tasty things like paint, slate chalk, mud, stones etc.
I have always loved tea though, even more than coffee or any other non alcoholic drink. On a bad day, drinking tea restores my faith in things getting even worse so I just shut up and drink it and let the bad things happen.
My experiments with making tea initially involved dumping 4 big spoons of tea powder into very little water with lots of sugar which made me walk around like a duck for the rest of the evening because of constipation. Over the years my tea making must have gotten considerably worse I am sure. I can’t actually say, thanks to the coming of the tea bags which made my life an absolute bliss. The tea bags were, I am convinced, discovered for me. I didn’t have to wrench my arms out in frustration anymore. No more dumping 4 spoons of tea. No more constipation.
The next big revelation was the kettle. I didn’t have to wait for the water to boil and pace restlessly and count the number of cracks on the walls of my kitchen anymore. Mug – sugar – tea bag – hot water. Done.
The next big big revelation was the automatic Kent hot water filter which has made me the lazy bum I am today.
I am not one of those “Need tea before starting day” people but I’m quiet addicted to the ginger tea at K’s and cannot go for over 2 days without having it. I have tried flavours ranging from the regular ginger-elaichi to orange-pomegranate. Now I stick with Elaichi like my life depends on it. I am comfortable with Elaichi-Ginger and have learnt not to be too hopeful in expecting similar comfort with pomegranate (I don’t know what I was thinking)
I am sometimes fond of the specialty Darjeeling – Assam Chai. All of these flavours I really enjoy only in black. The only milk tea I can digest is the one served at Ganesh right in front of my college. And some machine teas, like the ones they serve at K’s bakery.
I have no idea why I am writing about tea. It was a choice between tea and why I cry. So I had to pick tea. I came home a little exhausted and wanted to unwind before the week begins and everything but all I could find was some dabba slim tea and pomegranate tea and cinnamon and Aloe Vera. Who brings these flavours home? Need to find out.
Some sections from ‘The notebooks of Don Rigoberto’ that gave me multiple orgasms.
“And ever since she was a girl, Dona Lucrecia had felt a fascination for standing on the edge of the cliff and looking down into the abyss, for keeping her balance on the railing at the side of the bridge”
So Rigoberto is going nutty after Lucrecia left so he has this whole different routine where he wakes up really early in the morning to read his old notes and books by his favourite authors. He is doing some such thing one morning and begins to miss Lucrecia terribly after reading this bit of Neruda.
“And to see you urinate, in the dark, at the back of the house, as if you were pouring out a slender, tremulous, silvery, obstinate stream of honey, I would give up, many times over, this choir of shades I possess and the clang of useless swords that echoes in my soul…” – Widower’s Tango, Neruda
“Without transition he caught a glimpse of Lucrecia sitting on the toilet, and listened to the merry splash of her pee in the bottom of the bowl that received it with tinkling gratitude”
If I ever go into coma or am dying or anything, just read these words to me and I shall come flying back to life, full of love and libido.
“Lucrecia also shat, and this, rather than degrading her, enhanced her in his eyes and nostrils”
I had often wondered if good literature includes descriptions of bodily functions – nose digging, bowel movements, passing urine, inserting buds into the ear, scratching body parts which shouldn’t even be acknowledged in public et al. And after Llosa I have happily arrived at the conclusion that that kind of literature is probably the only kind that I enjoy reading the most. I also felt really happy at the thought of marrying him, having his babies and having him write about all my bodily functions.
I had the best time reading the whole nose cleansing procedure in “In praise of the stepmother”
“The magnificent Lucrecia understood everything. Nothing in the tangled labyrinth of human desires shocked her”
And now for the section that taught me what words do and how they become stories. Big, I know but as I was reading this bit, I started to register some words that were used and noticed that if I removed them, the whole damn section would suck. I noticed adjectives and the words that follow the adjectives. Here –
“The novel is constructed with deceptive simplicity, beneath which a dramatic context is depicted: the merciless struggle between reality and desire, those sisters who are bitter enemies separated by impassable distances except in the miraculous recesses of the human spirit”
I have no idea what shit is being talked about here. All I know is this passage taught me something. And something really valuable. In some sense, more than teaching me how to write, this passage taught me how to read words. I looked at all the adjectives and suddenly all writing seemed to make a whole different kind of sense to me.
“Pornography strips eroticism of its artistic content, favours the organic over the spiritual and mental, as if the central protagonists of desire and pleasure were phalluses and vulvas and these organs not mere servants to the phantoms that govern our souls, and segregates physical love from the rest of human experience”
Wait for it.
“Pornographer, while for you the only thing that counts when you make love is the same thing that counts for a dog, a monkey, or a horse- that is, to ejaculate – Lucrecia and I, go on, envy us, also make love when we are having breakfast, dressing, talking with friends, and contemplating the clouds or the sea”
I rest my fucking case.
Rigoberto has been the most complicated reading experience for me. After a point I got so impatient with the complexity of the book and my own cluelessness over what to read and how, I entered panic attack mode and had many restless nights. I cried because I wasn’t able to finish the book. I cried because I was a slow and pathetic reader. I cried because I wasn’t able to figure out if I hated Fonchito with every fibre of my being or if I wanted to hump him senseless for being a child sex bomb. Having said that and perhaps because of all that, Rigoberto will always be my most treasured reading experience.
I would like to go back to the book again very soon and this time around, if I cry it will be because I have fallen hopelessly in love with Llosa.
More GG Madness
Season 1 – Rory’s Dance
This is probably one of those few episodes where Lorelai and Emily bond for like a minute before something comes along and screws it up. Oh no wait, that’s actually all the episodes. But I find this episode to be particularly interesting because this is the first time on the show we see Lorelai caught in between 2 horrendous roles. She is both mother and daughter in this episode. In most other episodes, Lorelai is hardly either mother or daughter. I have never actually looked at her as either one of those because she has always been Lorelai Gilmore to me.
There are about a dozen moments that I really liked in this episode. The one where Emily and Lorelai are watching TV together and they talk about Rory and mash banana toast and the legendary Monkey lamp. After all this, Emily puts her to sleep and then when they wake up in the morning to find that Rory never returned; all hell breaks loose. Here Lorelai is trapped between what she calls the worst nightmare for a parent and if we know her well enough, the worst nightmare for a daughter – screwing up in front of a parent.
There’s that chaotic moment between Lorelai screaming at her mother, defending Rory and Rory getting screamed at by Lorelai soon after Emily leaves. Well, Emily leaves and then Rory leaves and Lorelai feels screwed. That’s why this scene is beautiful on so many different levels, everyone feels screwed because of too much love. And I couldn’t be in a better position in life to know that kind of screwy love.
Season 1 – Forgiveness and stuff
Richard is in the hospital. He has just been brought to the ward. Lorelai is trying hard to find all kinds of excuses to not go in, yet. And finally when she does go in – Silence. Deep breathing. More silence. Focus on Lorelai. Focus on Richard and the 1000 different wires sticking out from his worn out body. They look at each other, Lorelai opens her mouth to say something, Richard opens his mouth to say something – Doctor, Emily and Rory enter – talk gibberish – Richard and Lorelai look at each other. Lorelai stammers, runs out and cries.
Some would say over done and it probably is. But it’s still ok because it is easy to overlook the overdone if you have survived one too many Gilmorie-ish communication blocks with parents. And that is why for a long time I will keep coming back to the scene whenever I think of my father.
The first time I tasted crab, my skin responded in a way that perpetually scared me away from returning to it. I thought it wasn’t worth much because after all the allergy madness, I had forgotten how it tasted. I simply had no memory of the crab.
I have always enjoyed sea food though. It somehow tastes like home to me. Maybe that’s why I still can never tell the difference between prawn and crab. Anyway, a couple of weeks ago I was gripped by this sudden mad urge to devour a whole crab, with masala and oil and everything. Part of this madness came from this strange desire to feel sea in my mouth. So I went to Mangalore Pearl, ordered rice and crab curry and waited. I was not particularly hungry that evening. I had only just belted a whole plate of Bombay toast and some chicken sandwiches. I’m saying this because I know I can’t really boast of having a kickass appetite but when I could smell the crab curry come to our table, my stomach did a somersault and I forgot all about my stupid appetite and reached out for my first piece of the evening.
When I started work on my first piece, words of wisdom spoken by somebody who wished well came to mind; that eating crab required skill and that I possessed no such skill. And this was because I use both of my hands, all my fingers and parts of my face to eat crab. I was slightly embarrassed to return to that adventure and needless to say, I did have to struggle a lot with undressing the crab but when I finally did put that first piece in my mouth, I said fuck you to talent and decided to make use of all body parts if I have to, to eat the damn crab. Because it simply tasted that good and my need to justify why I am doing something was overpowered by my new found respect for crab. It was only 45 minutes later when I finally emerged from my plate and looked up at laughing friends did I realise that my way was the best way.
There is that moment of struggle between wanting to release the spicy sweet meat from its stupid pincers to sucking really hard on the tip of the pincers to make sure you haven’t left out any meat. After I had attacked the pincers and sucked out all the meat, I turned to look at what is now my favourite part of the crab, its stomach. I feel rich when I see the crab’s stomach. I feel gracious when I comb its meat out and stuff all of it in my mouth. Reasonably this is my favourite part of the crab because I don’t have to wrestle much and it always promises meat bursting about in all directions.
I have never really been much of a spice or a masala person. But I didn’t quite mind it when they accompanied the crab. I think it’s because they didn’t interfere much with the flavour of the crab and flirted with it only a proper amount before dissolving into seafoodness.
It was only after I tasted my second crab in life that I realised that I am capable of enjoying good food and that the affair with taste and remembering taste is an interesting one. Sometimes I cannot believe that it took me a just one plate of crab yet so late in life to make sense of food and its capabilities to produce happy feelings. I have frequented the crab a little more after Mangalore Pearl. Not much has improved when it comes to the number of body parts that get involved in this task; it has gotten progressively worse in fact. But my curiosity to look for words to remember taste and to produce it in writing has increased.
Let’s see where this takes me.
Luke: ‘There isn’t anything like family to screw up a marriage’
Lorelai: ‘Well in my case, there isn’t anything like family to screw up a family’
Between running around from film to film, venue to venue and from cheerfully waking up in the morning to grumpily entering the home a half hour before midnight, I stumbled upon the source of all human tragedy in life, family. People are miserable because of family. Either because they can’t stand them or because they love them to bits, so much so that they have to smother you with their love and couldn’t care any lesser for your life and its various demands on you. I had to juggle between 2 sets of worlds and deal with the tragedies in it by creating 2 sets of lies, just to be able to do something that I wanted to do. I wanted to attend the Film Festival this year, absorb whatever little I was capable of and write about it like a mad woman.
Attend, I did. Write, I tried to but for reasons not entirely because of me, I couldn’t write much. I was tired from all the excuses I had to make, the lies I had to lie to try and manage the 2 different worlds that I live in to keep the people in it from tearing their hair out and mine. Now that I think about it, I am sure that at one point those 2 worlds merged. And that’s when trouble began. Maybe my boyfriend and I were able to manage without fights for so long because for 8 years I was able to keep him away from the world that was occupied by Emily and Richard. It was easy because he made no demands. But he is beginning to speak the language of the Gilmores now and that scares me.
I am 25 and I work. I am an adult. I don’t have to lie to attend the Film Festival. I shouldn’t have to micromanage my life and the people in it if they cannot deal with what I want to do with my time. I shouldn’t have had to miss a day of the film festival to go and nurse an upset boyfriend’s hurt feelings. I shouldn’t be made to feel guilty for missing my mother’s birthday cake cutting. For one week, I wanted to watch movies, talk about it and write about it. I wanted to stay back as late as I bloody wanted to on all those nights and not rush home like a mad woman, fearing a teary eyed mother, full of blackmail and menace.
I shouldn’t have to explain this to anybody. I love my life here, I love my job, and I love what I am doing right now. I shouldn’t be made to leave all of what I love and go someplace far away just to be away from these people. Why am I ranting when I can say screw you and continue doing the shit that I am doing anyway? A 500 word post later too, I still feel screwed. I look at women, my age and younger, living lives their way and I want that. I don’t know these women all too well but nothing stops me from constantly stalking them on twitter and face book and blogger.
So when I feel insanely jealous about the free lives that they are living, I feel better when I see that most of my friends from school and college are either married or getting married or have kids or are getting pregnant. It is sad and evil, I know. But you have no idea how great it feels to return home at 11:30 in the night after having watched 5 kickass movies one after another, battled a hundred different questions about the movies, asked them out loud, got laughed at, had conversations about the movies with people who know this stuff, made mental notes about how to write only to find out that that guy who sat in the fifth bench and was very rarely nice to you is married. And he is 25. Yes, I am an evil person, making judgments and everything, but what the hell, I am 25 too and not married so I get to gloat. Hee haww!
I often dream of returning to an empty home after a day well spent at work and with friends. I yearn to listen to the sound of my own footsteps on stairs that I have not had the time to scrub. As I dig into my bag to look for keys, the fact that nobody is waiting for me inside except the silence of my living room and the slow trickle of a leaky tap at my washbasin, makes me smile. I like not having to share this feeling with anyone. I like knowing that all the stuff I left behind in the hurry burry of the morning are in the exact same places, just as I had left them. I like knowing that I have the whole evening for myself. I like taking long hot showers and trying hard not to think about anything. I like that I can walk around in my home with nothing but a slip and shorts. The tea is a little too hot today so I leave it alone for sometime only to forget about it later. Now I am too busy trying to look for a song on YouTube. The one that an old friend who doesn’t talk to me anymore had made me listen to 100 times. I find it but quickly lose interest so I try to write for some time. It is hard sometimes and harder some other times. I keep looking at the empty page thinking of all the things that I should say, that I remembered I would say but I still cannot write. I am too happy to write. So I stop writing. But I dream of writing every day.
Why can’t I write every day? I mean, is it that difficult? Some days, yes. No matter how much I want to write, eventually the persistence of the stupid blinking cursor overpowers my desire to put words together and I give up and go watch Gilmore Girls or something. And then there is this other problem, a more serious one. Just when I am about to write, my stalker ego comes alive and I start reading other people’s writing like a woman possessed. I am simply obsessed with writers and their blogs and their lives. I have a humongous capacity to stalk writing. And then after I have finished reading their stuff and have nourished my envy enough (which I enjoy) I feel miserable (which I do not enjoy) and then I just stop writing.
I can’t wait anymore to have a specific state of mind to be able to write. I am not saying that I am going to be disciplined and have a time to write and all; god knows the plan will fall flat on its ass even before it takes off. But I think I am getting closer to finding the space between reading and writing. Something interesting is happening to my reading. I am now reading Tibor Fischer’s ‘Under the Frog’. And I am noticing a pattern in the way in which I am reading these days.
I am paying attention to words. In that, when I was reading ‘Em and the Big Hoom’, I was confused about what I should be paying attention to; the words or the story or the characters and what they say or to just read and get done with the book. Now I am a little more focused on the words. I like watching them grow into a story. I am particularly interested in trying to understand why the writer used a word as opposed to so many others. I am paying attention to adjectives, to details and just the whole idea of writing.
I just stopped to read what I had written so far, which now I am thinking was a mistake because it is crazy how I started to write about some far away home and then skipped to writing and reading. What do I do with myself?