Silver Linings

Holiday today. Life played its most evil trick on me yesterday. When one wraps oneself in a nice, warm, blue rug and calls it a day and hops to bed smilingly because one believes the next day is a holiday; the world must learn to respect that and leave one alone and not cruelly take it all away the next morning by undeclaring a holiday.

Only my damaged teeth knows how I peeled myself off of the bed last morning — all that angry teeth gritting. I survived yesterday anyway but not without ranting endlessly about having absolutely no time. I wasn’t exaggerating when I said some four weeks ago that that would be my last free Sunday for a long time.

When I slept last night, I was smiling. And it had nothing to do with the two glasses of Pina Colada I’d knocked down before. It had everything to do with today and all the time I’m going to have on my hands to do absolutely nothing.

In the morning, I woke up to major Sairat feels. I watched it again last week with my Arts and Culture students and was glad to find in the class, a like-minded attentiveness to the movie. It was liberating to not have to beg them to be quiet and pay attention — they were all glued to the screen and scribbling away in their notebooks. It’s finally happening the way it was always supposed to. I’m very excited about drama-free classes this year. Silver lining number 1.

I downloaded the songs on my phone this morning and listened to every single one of them on repeat – while cleaning, brushing and blushing. Only Sairat songs can make me blush like a 16 year old. The entire morning was a long romance with Sairat and then strangely at breakfast, I watched Curse of Chucky as some kind of punishment I think. I’ve never watched a single Chucky movie and decided that this would be the best way to spend my holiday. I watched the first of the series and am now going to watch the second.

My new coffee mug arrived a couple of days ago in a box that could’ve easily carried a printer. They sent me two mugs of the same color. One’s in the department and the other one’s at home. On some mad impulse I also ordered a bottle of Davidoff’s coffee powder from Nature’s Basket. When it arrived, it almost broke my heart to peel the silver covering.

When I dug for smell, it was there – all dark and lurking in its own aroma. Each particle of the powder was thick enough to make a tin-tin noise when it fell in my brand new mug. I didn’t feel like drinking the coffee though – I was too satisfied with its smell. I’m not abandoning my tea. I just need something powerful to keep me through the day. Tea is too relaxing. When I drink tea, it’s like telling the universe, ‘Hello there. Thank you for this moment. I feel absolutely relaxed to be having this tea right now. How I wish I had work to do so I could do it and have tea at the same time’

Having coffee is like saying, ‘Hi Boss. Thanks a lot. Like it wasn’t enough that I have unfinished work from yesterday- now I’m going to have to finish today’s work tomorrow. Thanks man. Where’s that coffee’

But I’m beginning to like this Davidoff guy. Silver lining number 2.

And then this happened in the afternoon and I fell about laughing on the bathroom floor:

Screenshot_2016-07-07-11-14-22-1

Fuck winter. Zebra says period’s comin. Gospel truth happened off. Solidarity sister. It’s an app that lets women track their period and other ovulation dates. I think my PCOD has become powerless under GodZebra’s reign. Silver lining number 3.

I picked up Ferrante with great enthusiasm last month only to discover that it’s a pity how much I suck with time this year. Haven’t gotten past the 3rd chapter. My writing has pretty much died. I was working on a piece but it has stopped and is now shooting me bitch looks from the draft folder. The only thing I’m happy about right now is the weekend which is only a day away 🙂 Silver lining number 4.

Silver lining number 5 is The Open Dosa which is off to a great start this year. There’s decent work happening. Do check it out! Usually there are two tabs that open when I hit google – Facebook and Rumlolarum. These days, there’s Open Dosa too. I have five silver linings. I should be making a dress, not complaining.

Pensieve

I sometimes find, and I am sure you know the feeling, that I simply have too many thoughts and memories crammed into my mind.”

— Albus Dumbledore

It is 6:00 pm. I am sitting with dusty old department files from’95 and listening to the Azhan from a nearby mosque. It is oddly reassuring to listen to the Azhan today, especially after a big burger and a glass of O.M. My ears are sharper and begging for distractions.

I like unearthing old department files. Time and again, I find myself asking for stories about the department. These stories are from a faraway time where, I am assuming– there was more quiet. I imagine myself, following the people in and out of their stories from the 80’s, the 90’s,and the 2000’s. I am like Harry in the Pensieve – floating, desiring, following.

I look into yellowed papers and let my eyes sit on its words. Hand writings. Some familiar, some not- whose pensieves I cannot seek because they are lost. I find it hard to cope with moments like these because there is too much conflict in them. I am nostalgic for a time that wasn’t even mine.

Is there a word for this? To be nostalgic for a time that you have only heard of – from other people? What does it mean if you want to live in other people’s stories more than in your own? I am not looking for an answer. I am looking for a solution.

I came back from a family trip yesterday and like always, I kicked myself for having agreed to go on the trip. There was a baby on the trip – my nephew. My mother becomes a child when she sees him. In la-la land, it should make me happy no? To watch my mother laugh like a child? I think somewhere it did. But behind those giggles was a soft plea to me – to give her a grandchild. Her own, as they say – to play with and what not.

My aunt says I should have a baby before turning 30 because otherwise, they become slow – the babies. My grandmother says I have to get married before she dies otherwise she’ll never forgive me. I don’t want to know how she’s going to manage not forgiving me after her death. I have watched far too many horror movies.

I sat next to these women, holding their hands, giggling in my head and calmly nodding. My sister kept raising her eyebrows and making terrible lesbian jokes. My brother kept dying about wanting internet connection. The father of the baby was stuffing his face with food while the mother was feeding the baby- feeding herself- keeping the baby from falling off the earth. There was so much irony in this entire trip that it stopped becoming an irony after a point.

These are times when I don’t want the pensieve.

At Peace

We close for Christmas holidays today. The department hasn’t been this quiet in a long time. I am tempted to do another list, but I won’t. WordPress anyway gives me an end-of-year review. Also, I don’t like that I have to rely so much on lists to keep the writing going.

It has been a good year. I won some, I lost some. At certain points, it looked like I lost more than I won but the biggest win this year has been to realize that I can survive all the things I thought I never could. For a long time I believed that I would never be able to deal with people hating me. Turns out I’m quite the bitch in the gofuckyourself department. Not bad at all. Although, I wish I was a nastier bitch and remembered to be nasty every now and then.

I am not too thrilled by the prospect of holidays only because they have come at such a terrific time that I am going to relax the fuck out of them, so much so that I am going to have to perform Krav Maga on myself (Fight Club style) to get back into work shape once college reopens.

Time

6:30 am:

Did I get 8 hours of sleep? I did not. It must have been six or five actually. I should wake up and go for a jog. It’s too cold outside let me just snuggle for 5 minutes. Why am I dreaming about horses so much? Am I attracted to them? Should I just go to Princess Academy and sign up for training? I should schedule my mornings differently. I should do one hour of exercise and one hour of writing. How do people wake up so early when it’s so cold outside and get more work done within 9 than I get done all day? I am sure that student with the nice hair doesn’t like me. She saw me by the lift that day and didn’t even wish me. Did I say anything wrong in class? Maybe that class didn’t go too well. Why do I keep thinking that classes have gone well when they clearly haven’t? I should tighten up my class hours strictly from now on. Maybe I am too close to students. Maybe that’s why nobody likes me. What am I doing in I O.E today? Fuck, forgot to post that reading for them on the group. Will do it the minute I wake up. Next time that tweed comes to me, I’ll give him a piece of my mind. What the hell? I am wasting too much time in the Department doing nothing. I should be doing shit. It’s because I hang out there so much that shit happens. Wait? Why the fuck should I go anywhere? It’s my workplace. I shouldn’t have to go if I don’t have to. Maybe it’s not about pride anymore. Maybe it’s more to do with the fact that I am wasting my time. I don’t read, I don’t write.

Yoga:

I don’t think I can ever get my foot up to a right angle. It’s so hard. Maybe I should begin by doing my favourite asanas. Wait, how many asanas do I actually like? One? Two? That Twinkle Khanna’s book is funny. Wait, what did she say about feminists in her latest article? Bra Burners, she called them? Is it ok that I like her still? I thought she was having fun in that article. Maybe I should take this to class. That could be fun. There’s so much I haven’t done in class this sem. Should have just gone ahead and taken the class out to watch Bahubali and made them read that piece. I’ll do that the next time. I need to write about Bahubali first. I need to watch it again.

Deep breath.

Yay. I just took a deep breath. Hope I can take as many as I want today.

8:00 am:

I waste so much time thinking. Now look at this, there’s no shampoo. How am I going to wash my hair? I have to go out nude in this cold? Where’s that bathrobe? Bless Bubbly for ordering bathrobes. I should buy one too. Lavender. No. White. No. Baby pink. No lavender’s good. What, Himalaya shampoo a? Thoo. As it is my hair looks like some mountain rat’s tail. Himalaya shampoo, my ass. I should be really quiet and do work today. Fuck everything, fuck everybody. I’ll go to BCL today. Haven’t gone there in a while. I am such a waste. I should have a packed schedule. Why do I have so much free time on my hands? What am I doing in life? I should buy that watch before it goes out of stock. I should get new formals. My butt looks big in formals. I shouldn’t wear formals. What if I am trying to write on the board and they see how big and shapeless it is and laugh. Wait, it’s my butt. I’ll wear it how I want. Should I just finally start wearing sarees? The cotton ones. I’ll ask Nams where she got that lovely blouse stitched from. Maybe I’ll meet my own personal blouse mohan this way. See? That’s what I need in my life. Stories. How am I ever going to write shit if I haven’t met enough people. I shouldn’t run away from family functions. It’s where the best stories are buried.

What went wrong with the Anusual piece? Maybe I can make a list of things that went wrong and use it in class next sem. I can give them a set of books to read and get them to review it.

Inner peace. Why can’t I calm down? I need a me place. My Parisian cafe is gone. Can Marzipan be my new Parisian? I need a new A to Z challenge. I need a new life. Why is my hair getting thinner and thinner? Is that a new mole? When did it come here? I don’t know my body at all. I will be at the Body workshop 12th 13th 14th. I can raise it there. I need a vacation. I am on vacation. I need 8 hours of sleep.

Versions

I don’t know how many different versions there are of me. I don’t know which one to trust. But there is a fake one, a moody one, an overthinking one, a frequent one, and a dishonest one. I have become increasingly suspicious of what I am saying to people in moments of intimacy. I think that whatever I say will be lodged somewhere in the air or in my own head, and that it will be said and used by the people they were told to. Or it will be said repeatedly in my own head until I have extracted all possible meaning out of it, tested it and vowed to never open my mouth again. This does not mean that I cannot trust people, this simply means that I am losing what I was once capable of: the ability to keep quiet and not offer comment.

I am growing more and more desperate because I am not able to decide who I want to be. On any given day, I am the over-thinker. I watch myself cautiously, pausing now and then to test the waters, exercise free speech – withdrawing every once in a while and eventually reserving all my comments for people I am comfortable saying anything to.

Lately, I have been asking myself – Should there be people in my life I can say anything to? Why? Why risk it especially since I know for a fact that I have never been able to continue friendships? That the bottom line of all failed friendships has been never to grow too attached to people?

Then there are other days when I manage myself pretty well. I listen and say nothing. But then there are also days when I blurt things out to people in moments of excitement and wonder why I am alive. Although with a lot of practice now, I know when I am saying things that I will later regret — my brain sends me green signals but my tongue ignores it and goes at it. This is followed by five minutes of recalling what I have just said and ten minutes of considering becoming Buddhist.

At one level, I am losing respect for myself because I think I have become information hungry. Like some fucking news channel. My only option now is Buddhism.

All my energy today is going into not explaining why I have so much free time.

More baby lotion

I woke up feeling threatened and depressed. When I sat down to do breathing exercises, I thought what’s the point, what’s the point at all if through out the day I am living more in my imaginations than anywhere else. I felt weak and stupid and vulnerable. But because I nurture hope now and then, I dragged myself out for a jog but an hour later when I am sitting down and typing this, I have no memory of how the jog was or what I saw.

Stepped in for a cold shower, because that’s a thing now; cold in the morning, hot in the night, dabbed baby lotion all over my body because it helps me breathe, sat at my desk and found this:

To The Women Whose Lives Are Not Love Stories

… and now my day is already smiling down at me. I have so much to do.

Thiruvananthapuram

Traveling with the family has always been a messy affair for me. Dad has unhindered access to me and what I wear and what I eat and how I live; the comments ensue, the match begins. But this happens only now, although oddly enough it seems like there’s a history that’s older than me when I think of all the disagreements we have had. Our travel sprees were a lot different when I was younger. And so were the disagreements.

Back then, I must have been crouching in the back seat, playing referee to the two voices in my head – one his, one mine; making them disagree. In short, waiting to grow up so I didn’t have to travel with them to temples and other violent places children should never be taken to. 

Traveling all of South India with a joint family in a matador will therefore only remain a blur that I accidentally found while groping in the dark, looking for something else. Somebody mentions a beach, a temple or a hotel and I find myself donning my best cat behavior trying to locate the blur in my memory, now whizzing like a housefly to be caught, an answer to be found, a page to be filled up.

We covered the temple cities in less than 4 days, stopping very briefly at Trivandrum, which until last year I firmly believed I had never seen. Last November, I discovered the blur in my memory that was Trivandrum and everything did not come rushing back as I had hoped it would. It took me a while to realise that I was seeing 2 versions of a city. One of which is imposed on you by temple going freak shows in the family who turn a blind eye to everything else the city offers. The other is when you catch a passing glimpse of yourself, in a moving vehicle, a showroom, a granite wall, and you smile in whispers and curse your family, when you are out exploring the city all by yourself.

I saw myself, away from home, away from temple people, away from the prying eyes of my father, wearing shorts, carrying nothing but a little bag and waiting to be lost. I walked around the hotel, smiled at all the slopes, coconut trees and little brick homes that gave me all kinds of Mangalore flashbacks. I took random turns, and found out that it is not easy to get lost in this city. Either that or I was too scared to go all the way out and be lost. 

At the turn of every corner, I smelled fish curry and coconut oil, a smell that I shamelessly associate Trivandrum with even today. The city made me see and feed the small foodie I was beginning to take note of in me. It outperformed the beach person that I was throughout my life.

I gorged on idiyappams and Kerala chicken curry in Statue hotel, downed jars of Pankaj Island Ice Tea, scooped chemmen fry with mounds of red rice and fish curry at Mubarak, judged soggy bits of meen pollichathu and forced its taste to match with the taste I thought it ought to have had, wolfed down puttu and prawn curry at Black pepper, all the while trying hard to drown the voices and faces of my part mallu-part mangy mother and her relatives. I could hear them echo loudly behind me. ‘Ti amgel vari khaoche’ – ‘She eats like us’.

Trivandrum’s streets are a marvel in themselves. An India coffee house, that looks like the leaning tower of pisa parked hazily around buses and bikes comes zooming back when I try to retrace my tour around the city. The buses looked easy to climb into unlike the whistling, red ones in Bangalore that are hostile bloody dynamites. At the far end of the street that I call Trivandrum is a little place that serves Biryani chaya – butter beer if I may. At the risk of getting kicked, I am going to say, drink it to know it. 

So when I go to Trivandrum, it is also to devour the best rice and kerala fish curry in the name of all that is fancy at Hotel Villa Maya, which, true to its name stands tall and quiet; unknowing of the city bustling all around it. I am no food expert but the food there is both sleep-inducing and exploding with taste.

This is how I remember Trivandrum, in its streets and food, in its friendly looking buses and pankaj island ice tea, but surprisingly very little in its beaches. However, nothing screams more Trivandrum than that familiar smell of fish curry and coconut oil when I check into its hotel.