No Ship Will Come

So I directed a play. Never thought I’d ever write a sentence like that in my life. But it happened and it was fun. The rehearsals were the best part. My students are too damn cool and I wish I had half their willingness and dil to do new things when I was young :/

The play is an adaptation of No Ship will Come written by Nis-Momme Stockmann. What began as a rehearsed reading soon became a play by itself and I have absolutely no idea how that happened. I am now itching to perform on stage myself. You can watch the play here. It can be watched on Vimeo till August 27, 2021. Please watch off 🙂

How to waste time and other lists

The Proust Questionnaire

Here are the thirty-five questions Proust originally answered in 1890. And this is me in 2021 because I have a ton of work to do but I’d rather be doing this. The last time I did this, I was the same. So nothing’s changed fml.

  1. What is your idea of perfect happiness? Waking up early to drink French Press
  2. What is your greatest fear? Having the same fear year after year
  3. What is the trait you most deplore in yourself? How easy it is to not write
  4. What is the trait you most deplore in others? Putting energy to make others miserable
  5. Which living person do you most admire? Asha Kowtal
  6. What is your greatest extravagance? Making time to do things I love
  7. What is your current state of mind? Gas
  8. What do you consider the most overrated virtue? Punctuality
  9. On what occasion do you lie? All the time
  10. What do you most dislike about your appearance? My tooth gap but after I read Wife of Bathe, I don’t mind it so much
  11. Which living person do you most despise? Tejaswi Surya
  12. What is the quality you most like in a man? Laughter
  13. What is the quality you most like in a woman? Laughter
  14. Which words or phrases do you most overuse? “As the French say”
  15. What or who is the greatest love of your life? Detective Inspector Sarah Lund
  16. When and where were you happiest? Morning after great nights
  17. Which talent would you most like to have? Waking up early
  18. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? I wish I wasn’t in a hurry to respond to people
  19. What do you consider your greatest achievement? Moving on
  20. If you were to die and come back as a person or a thing, what would it be? The Banyan Tree at St. Joseph’s College, Bangalore
  21. Where would you most like to live? Bombay
  22. What is your most treasured possession? Capacity for small joys
  23. What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery? Squashing other people’s joys
  24. What is your favourite occupation? Plants vs Zombies
  25. What is your most marked characteristic? Cracking knuckles in my sleep
  26. What do you most value in your friends? Desire to drink
  27. Who are your favourite writers? Students
  28. Who is your hero of fiction? Alice Munro
  29. Which historical figure do you most identify with? Jackie Chan
  30. Who are your heroes in real life? Razia-Razzak
  31. What are your favourite names? Rumlolarum and Disco Shanti
  32. What is it that you most dislike? Having time but wasting it
  33. What is your greatest regret? That I didn’t put kai when I should have
  34. How would you like to die? In bed with a book on my chest
  35. What is your motto? Live quietly, drink tightly

This is Joan Didion answering the questionnaire when she was 69.

Growing Up

At one point in my life, the only thing I wanted to learn was how to be. What do you do when you feel a certain way, when someone goes out of their way to show you their disapproval, when you are misunderstood and there’s nothing you can do to offer clarification? This ate my insides for years together. Every time I thought I had grown up, something would happen and the way I responded confirmed that I had, in fact, not grown up.

Over the last year, I picked some battles, ignored the rest, allowing only my instincts to inform me. And I must say, I am a lot more at peace than I’ve ever been. I used to survive confrontations and the need to defend myself by using too many words in the past. This, as I have come to learn, is unnecessary. I now use the mute option on Twitter generously, the block option on WhatsApp liberally.

Today, I blocked a friend I went to college with. She unleashed a barrage of accusations that were both untrue and painfully long to read. I said what I had to and refused to be dragged into a conversation I had no energy for. A year ago, I’d have fallen for it, explained, over-explained, analysed, taken screenshots, sent it to other people for clarification, sympathy. I did none of that today, and I am happy. Before blocking her, I said two lines. That I hadn’t thought of her since 2012, that it’s been close to a decade, and that she must please, please get a life.

I’m sort of joyful that after years of whining about not knowing what to do, I seem to have found a way to deal with things that no longer bring joy. I am drinking to that today.

Doors

It’s exhausting to occupy two worlds when you know that really, you belong to only one because that’s where you want to be. Home is home only when I don’t have to deal with the fatherliness of boundaries, the anti-elixir of freedom. I wonder now what happens to the body in this fight between the life you want to live and the one you can’t escape.

A week ago I saw that in my mind I live a completely different life from one that is expected out of my body and me at home. Coming back home from work before the pandemic only held the promise of sleep and early morning solitude. It didn’t need me to change who I was before stepping into the house because everyone would already be asleep, except mother whose anger simmered on her eyelids in a half dream-half awake state.

That I had a place to be in every morning for nine years, that I didn’t have to wear another face for work, another for home offered me a kind of freedom I haven’t appreciated enough. It is irritating to write this with what I assume is a cheap xerox copy of freedom, knowing that outside this room, there are people with the original, people who see a completely different life for me, and seem awfully confident that it’s all going to happen, despite me.

I feel like a fraud sometimes, talking and dreaming of freedom with passion and fury – never intense enough to go get it. Sometimes I am able to persuade myself into believing that parental expectation is not free of caste, so I shouldn’t wallow in a helplessness that wasn’t designed by me. Despite that and despite years of knowing and unknowing caste, I continue to be bothered by how unsettling it is to confront that there’s still something I don’t have and will never have. Every day I wonder what it would be like to be the student whose ambitions burn my insides with a fever, to be in homes where marriage is barely mentioned, and dinner is always a table full of charts and maps- making plans to go here, go there for studies, and mornings aren’t battlefields for last night’s unspoken demands.

Stepping outside my room after class last week, I overheard someone say on the phone that getting daughters educated is a mistake, that they shouldn’t be sent to schools because they grow up wanting to do PhD, not wanting to be married. I walked straight back into my room, my legs burning with the desire to run, hands wishing they were now holding the key to the department door while my bedroom door swelled with rage and slammed hard on the other world, the bolt clicking it shut.

Today, I am just grateful for doors. They not only open other worlds for you, they also close.

February Fever

The morning-afters are something else. Your body doesn’t return to you for days, it’s still with them, in the tightness of their arms, and in the blurring outline of your desire and theirs.

This morning, my face towards the sky, my back on the floor, I watched a hawk (eagle?) flying. It was high enough for me to want to imagine what it sees from up there — the triangle of terraces, the straightness of pipes, the black opaqueness of water tanks, the rough crookedness of roads, and low enough for me to notice the lazy flap of wings it brought every 30 seconds. Was one casual flap enough to sustain flying for 30 seconds? I watched until it reached the edge of my vision and then looked straight up again to find 3 more hawks (eagles?)

In my dream this morning, I saw an open tap next to my bed. If only it had drinking water, I thought – I’d never have to worry about going to the kitchen six times a day.

It’s January February March and already I have seen versions of myself that make me drop things with joy, bring aches to parts of my body that I can only reach when I am sitting a certain way, do nothing but sit on my purple sofa and read endlessly.

Donna Tartt’s The Secret History is calling.