Monday, June 16, 2014

Bye bye, Blogger :')

So after almost five years of dedicated blog posting at Blogger, it is time to change. Much like yours truly, my blog is shifting too. It took a LOT of courage for me to take this step, because I love reading everyone's post in my network. So I shall continue to follow all of you.

If you want to continue following me (and I would LOVE if you do so), my new blog address is: https://iflutteredby.wordpress.com

I really hope I see you guys there.

Much, MUCH love,

Astha.

P.S. Thanks for being so amazing, Blogger :)


Friday, June 13, 2014

Life on rollerskates

Life is moving rapidly here in Bangalore. It's like suddenly I'm wearing roller skates or something. Everything seems to be passing by a little too quickly. Does time move faster when you're in your 20's? I'm already right in the middle of my second month at my new job. I got my first paycheck! Oh, the joy. The rush when you use your very own bank account to withdraw your very own money and realize, "Oh my god, this is not mom's money. This is my money." It's as incredible as they tell you it is.

The people at work seem like family now. It's amazing, how we go amidst this bunch of complete strangers, and little by little start unravelling them. What they like, how they are, what are their qualities, what kind of music they like, what they read, what they are interested in, what ticks them off. It's like college in a lot of ways. You sit together and work on projects, eat, laugh, learn a lot about work and about each other in the process.

I have been getting really good work and I think I've begun to understand a lot of things which I was completely unfamiliar with. I do feel that it would have helped if I had learnt all these things in college, but I don't mind taking up the course I did. It was journalism that made me who I am today. And I like who I am today. I'll learn. Maybe a tad slower than the others, but I'll learn.

I cannot help admiring the spirit, the energy and the positivity that our boss exudes. How is he always so pumped up? If I had to handle all that pressure I'd probably tell everyone to go take a hike and go on a long sleep marathon. But I guess that is what differentiates great people from the regular people. They are so passionate about something, they would do anything to get what they set their heart on. That's how I want to be.

I have realized that in small companies, people frequently come and go. And because everyone is so closely knit, it really sucks when they go. Two employees left this month. One of them was my first friend here. He was the one who taught me a million things during my first few days here. He told me not to get overwhelmed. He told me I should be excited, and positive and should always try to improve. I had so many conversations with him over dinner. And long walks talking about so many things in life. It was the heaviest I've felt so far in Bangalore when he left. I only knew him for a month and I knew so much about him. It's funny how you sometimes meet people, you connect, you share, you bond, and suddenly they are gone. I've started to believe that everyone you meet has a purpose in your life. You had to meet them. Maybe they come to teach you something, to make you realize something, to help you get through something, or maybe just to share some happy moments. Whatever be the reason, they give you a part of themselves, and take a part of you with them, and that's how our lives are shaped.

In other news, Chattu and some other college friends are here in Bangalore as well. I'm going to meet them this weekend. Four new people are going to join work in a few days. Our seating arrangement will change as well. Even our office might shift to a different place. It feels like so many things are happening at the same time. It's one of the most exciting phases of my life. The week days can get tiring, but then the weekends are worth it. In fact, all that hard work makes the weekends all the more fun. You feel like you've earned them.

I feel so lucky that everything worked out the way it did. The weather is so perfect here. The office is a lot of fun. With a bunch of awesome people. And a lot of good work. I got to work with really big clients in my first month itself. I have a nice roommate. There is nothing to complain about, really. Except perhaps, the traffic and the bottle-necked roads. If that problem gets solved, Bangalore would be the best city to live in. After Pune, of course :)

P.S. I'm meeting Chee next weekend as well. He's getting me Swedish chocolates. So many things to look forward to, see? :)

P.P.S. A friend at work calls me 'Titli'. I love it :)

Monday, May 26, 2014

Hello, new life. I kinda love you already.

When I was a kid, the afternoons used to be long. Mom and dad would return only in the evening, and I would have the whole day stretched before me. Of course, I didn’t know the value of all that time then, but I did have a few things I loved doing.

One of my favourite pastimes used to be pedaling my little yellow scooter back and forth in our porch when the cars were not parked inside. I would do it for hours. Making my tiny feet push against those pedals and go taka-taka-taka across the length of the corridor. I would think of many things then. Or maybe I didn’t. Sometimes I just hummed one of the latest Bollywood numbers.

Another thing I loved doing was plucking the ripe, green leaves off the Gulmohar tree outside our house, adding water on it, squishing it under a stone, and making chutney! I would sit on my favourite blue plastic chair (I’d know it was mine because it had a shiny Betty and Veronica sticker on it, right in the center), and I’d just keep grinding the poor leaves under an unfortunate stone and make a dangerous amount of chutney that no one in their right mind would ever even attempt to eat.

But one of my absolute favourite hobbies was to listen to Westlife, Backstreet Boys, and all the other popular ‘90s bands on my cheap Aiwa Walkman, and note each and every word they sang in my ‘Songs Diary!’ Then sing it over and over again, in front of the mirror, copying Britney Spears’ expressions.
Now when I think about that time, I can’t believe I’ve come this far since then. When I think of that version of myself, I can’t believe that was me. And yet, it was.

I am a working class professional in one of the best cities in India. The IT hub. The ‘Silicon Valley’. The city which has the good weather, the good jobs, the good places, the good culture. I have begun my fourth week at work. I’m learning new things, trying to absorb everything like a sponge. I have begun to almost love some of my co-workers, who are rapidly turning into good friends. A couple of them, one absolutely crazy, and one not-so-crazy, have been especially encouraging and helpful throughout. I cannot imagine office without them. It’s a cozy environment, not much different from a classroom, where you love everyone for their specific qualities and idiosyncrasies. I love having lunch with them, where everybody is random and where we can take a break from work and exchange a few jokes.

I went to I-Bar with some of them this Saturday, and we went bonkers dancing to all the Hindi songs we love to love, and the ones we love to hate. We danced so much, and for so long, I woke up the next day with sore muscles.

I even found a good PG to stay in, with a roommate, who is sweet enough to accompany me outside when I don’t feel like eating PG food, and who offers me alphonso mangoes she got from Bombay :) And this is just the beginning. I can’t believe it has only been 20 days. I feel like I’ve gone through a time warp in this time. A new city, new home, new friends, colleagues. To think about how nervous I was on my first day at in Bangalore. (Will I find a good place to stay? Will the work people like me? Will I be able to do what they ask me to do?) It’s almost amazing how smooth this transition has been, and how comfortable I’ve started feeling in this new skin. It is incredible to think how things just start falling into place one by one. In the beginning, I used to just tell myself, “Take it easy. One step at a time.” And now it seems like I’ve crossed quite a distance without even realizing it.

(View from my new balcony)


Today has been one of the best days here so far. I got up way before time, took a leisurely hot water bath, had breakfast, plugged in my earphones and played Queen’s OST (Man, Amit Trivedi!), and walked to the bus stop. I always smile seeing all these people around me walking hurriedly to catch their buses. I read the work tags hanging around their necks. Accenture, TCS, iGate, SAP. All these young people, in their prime, including me, just starting off with our lives, with our dreams. I feel so united with them. Crossing the road, though always a tricky business, was relatively smooth today. I barely waited for the bus for 5 minutes and even got a seat! Oh, the joy. Otherwise, on some days, the buses are packed, with you barely managing to stand in the teeniest spot you can find, jostling with the other women, trying to reach into your purse and managing to find exactly fourteen rupees without falling hard on your ass, or on the road (since sometimes you have to stand precariously close to the door).

I reached office way before time. I knew exactly what I had to do during the day, and I think I was having a good hair day! What more could you ask for? But wait, it gets better. My boss, who is supportive and very approachable, told me I am performing really well at work. My insides were inflating like a balloon, but I think I managed to say ‘thank you, sir’ very gracefully. He told me he thinks I have been working for a quite some time. Now THAT, is the perfect ending to the day. But right now, I have a lot to learn. A LOT. So, without focusing on the feedback much, I would just like to take baby steps, and improve every day. Bit by bit.

I feel so good writing after so long. Even though I worked for ten hours today and I am dead tired. A blog post was long, long due. Please excuse the disjointed post. I tried to contain the scattered thoughts into cohesive sentences. I have a lot more to share. And I will be back soon.


P.S. I still sing in front of my mirror acting like a big-time pop singer. Some things never change, do they? :)

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Withdrawal symptoms

I get extremely agitated and tensed when I don't write for so long. So much happens in a span of a few days that to think of how to bring the words out succinctly is perplexing. I shall try.

*breathes deeply*

Out of the big lists of things that have happened, it is safe to say that the most significant of them is the fact that I now have a job. On the day of my last exam, I had three job offers in my hand. And only a couple of days ago, I had none. Funny how life works out sometimes. Just when I had accepted that it is highly likely that I might have to go home unemployed, something clicked. But I applied somewhere at the right place at the right time. So now, Bangalore it is. I'm excited and nervous. I'm exervous. I really like the city, my friends will also be there, I think I will enjoy my work. The thing I'm most looking forward to is managing my own finances. Finally, I'll be earning. No more a parasite. I would be producing, instead of consuming. I'm employed! :)

The first thing I felt after I received the call was.. relief. Not joy, not excitement. I just sighed and sat limp for a while at the thought that I would not have to give any more interviews. No more people sitting across me and judging me. It is time for me to really give everything I have. Just be good at something. To do something. Have an identity.

I'm not sure I'm handling it very well, though. The suddenness of this. Sure, I have a job. Is it really such a big achievement? To be honest, I'm quite terrified of what lies ahead. What if I don't perform well? What if I don't enjoy my work? What if I don't get along with the people? Plus, I'm going to the city alone. Looking for a place on my own. This time, it is permanent. This time, I cannot be unhappy. I have to mould myself in order to enjoy what I have.

One of the questions the interviewer asked me was, "If you were an animal, which one would you be, and why?" He gave me no time to think, and for some reason I could only picture giraffes. I think I thought of them because they are so tall and slender, and well I have extremely long limbs. But to him, I had to give a substantive answer, so I said, "Because they have the advantage of reaching the inaccessible juicy leaves on the tall trees. Oh, and they can run free and wild on the grassy plains." And I had a faraway expression and a stupid grin on my face while I said that. (Inside my head I was shrieking at myself, "What?! Juicy leaves?! Grassy plains?! What did you just say to him? Be professional! Sound intelligent! You've blown it, blown it I say!") Thankfully, he just laughed and let it be. I think I'm always going to remember this. Giraffe. Sheesh :P

The other significant thing that happened and broke my heart to smithereens was that college got over. Completely. I felt it dawning over me when I had my last lunch in the mess, when I packed my bags till they looked like they were swollen and overflowing, when mom and dad came to wrap everything up and take me back home. My mom loved my campus. We sat together, tea cups in hand, watching the sunset. Dad said, "So your last sunset, eh?" And I swear I welled up. The hills contain too many, just too many memories.

People always complained while we were there. 'Oh it's so far away from civilization.' 'I hate coming back before 11.' There's nothing to do here.' 'It's so boring.' 'The mess food is so bad.' Many of them were happy to get rid of the place. I never understood them. How can you not love a place so beautiful? A campus so pretty with such good infrastructure? A nice, clean, comfortable hostel with a gorgeous view? One of my professors told me that we all take this place for granted and don't appreciate it for what it is. I told him that I did not. I felt lucky every day I was there. I would give up anything to be in a place with such natural beauty, than live in a concrete jungle full of honking cars and imposing buildings. I tried to soak it all in, because I knew I would not get two whole languorous years on such a picturesque campus.

It is a scientific fact that our brain has a habit of phasing out all the bad memories and retaining the good ones, and that is why when we look back on our childhood, we remember it fondly as if it was the best time ever. It probably was, but the point is, the more time passes, events seem grander than they were in our heads. I was probably miserable when I was eight, seeing as I hated school and fought furiously with my sister and brother and always had problems with math. But now when I think about it, I would give up everything up to be 8 again.

When it comes to my college life at Lavale, it was already so grand while it was happening. I don't need time to pass to look back at it and think of how wonderful the time was. I felt that when it was happening. I was so aware of it. It was Unagi. When I was running back to the hostel on a rainy day after class, half-drenched and laughing, I felt it. When I sipped hot coffee on a chilly night with my friends, felt the breeze blowing my hair back, and gazed at the sky which was always, always so amazingly clear, I felt it. When I sat in class and we laughed together at a joke our professor made, I felt it. When we all danced to a stupid Bollywood song at one of our go-to place for drinks, I felt it. I felt it in all those small moments. I felt thankful. I knew I was living one of the best, most amazing, most exciting years of my life. I can only wonder how grander they would appear when I am 50 and I think about them then.

I knew I was going through withdrawal symptoms when I woke up in the morning and it took me a couple of minutes to realize that I am not in my hostel room. I didn't see the pink curtains, with the shadows of the leaves dancing on it. I was in a room where I couldn't hear the chatter and laughter of the students at PMC. It took me a while to get out of bed.

I'm listening to a song called 'Daydreaming' by Dark Dark Dark which makes me think of it all the more. You will understand if you were a student on our campus.

"Oh now look to the east, great mountains remember me,
It's land I can see for miles, with only the wind whispering,
And oh if you knew what it meant to me,
You would see it too."


(One evening on the terrace)

(On the way to class)

(View from the hostel terrace)

(Depression point)

(View from the amphitheater)

(My room. And fairy lights)

(View from the football field at sunset)

(One beautiful, foggy evening)


I'll miss college terribly. I can't believe I won't go back to my room, meet Possum and break into our renditions of all the silly songs we sing. I can't believe I won't greet all my friends with warm hugs, high-fives and discuss our vacations. I can't believe I won't have the view. Oh, the view.

I had decided that after I write a post about it, I might get some closure. Then I will not look at my college life with woeful reminiscence, but a surreal satisfaction of living it. I was there. I lived it. It's time to look ahead. It's going to be frightening and maddening at times. But now I will be an adult in the truest sense of the word. I finally control the steering wheel of this car called life. And I can't wait.

Goodbye Lavale. You were incredible.


Thursday, March 13, 2014

Lying on the Moon

Know that feeling when you don't mind writing notes in class because the pen is so blissfully smooth? And the feeling when someone makes you laugh so hard you can't imagine what you would do when you won't be able to see them each day? Or the feeling when you walk to class taking each step with the beats of the song you're listening to? The sound of a class laughing in unison? These are little moments that make up my day here. Tiny fragments of the last 30 days left.

There's nothing in particular that I want to write about. I just felt like writing. It's comforting. To open up this little box and observe what unfurls in front of me. It rained today. After long. I was in the editing studio working on an assignment, and when I stepped out, the gust of wind and the smell of wet mud filled my senses. It was like a spell. I was just so happy. I walked all the way to the photocopy shop with a stupid grin plastered on my face. I just love this place so much. 

We have this professor teaching us Business Journalism these days, and he is so good that none of us mind spending our entire evenings sitting in a classroom listening to him. He discussed the financial crisis of 2008, he talked about its aftermath, and then he played a game with us, where we all were the head of the Federal Reserve and had to control the economic condition of America. I wish all the teachers in the world were like him. People would grow up smarter then. I wish I had better teachers in school. I did, but nothing ever interested me apart from stories. Biology and Geography to an extent, but I never spent as much time trying to understand those as I did with my nose etched deep between the pages of my English literature textbooks.

I watched the first episode of True Detective. There's something Matthew McCanoughey says which caught my attention. "Human consciousness is a tragic misstep in evolution. We became too self-aware. Nature created an aspect of nature separate from itself. We are creatures that should not exist by natural law. We are things that labour under the illusion of having a self. The secretion of sensory experience and feeling programmed with total assurance that we are each somebody. When in fact, we are nobody. Maybe the honourable thing for our species to do is to deny our programming. Stop reproducing. Walk hand-in-hand into extinction."

That's probably a pessimistic, awful thing to say to anybody. But god, I love it. I just love it when somebody tries to think beyond what we are supposed to do. What we are taught to do. What we are made to do. I can't believe people have stopped asking questions. They do not want to know things which are beyond their comprehension. Which reminds me, I also watched Richard Linklater's Waking Life. Linklater is the same guy who created Before Sunrise, Before Sunset and Before Midnight. Sheer brilliance.

Anyway, so I love him because he's constantly asking all these questions in his films. Waking Life is about a boy who is lucid dreaming, and he meets all these people and talks to them about existence, science, the universe, religion and other such things. Things that people, for some reason, don't discuss in everyday life. They just talk about superficial everyday issues. Which is also fine, but have you noticed how people usually seem to talk nonsense most of the time?

I didn't even understand half the things they were trying to explain in the movie. And I know, I know, people usually roll their eyes and advise me not to think so much and to 'go with the flow.' But, I just don't buy it. The whole 'living' thing. If I had a choice, I would probably not even do it. There's got to be bigger plan, but that is not enough and it doesn't even matter because we are here for like a fleeting second. We are here completing our time, trying to get by and salvage some happiness for ourselves. Which is fine, but it just makes me so restless.

There was a scene in the movie where a girl bumps into the guy for less than a second, and they apologize and start walking away, and then she stops him and says, "Hey. Could we do that again? I know we haven't met, but I don't want to be an ant. You know? I mean, it's like we go through life with our antennas bouncing off one another, continously on ant autopilot, with nothing really human required of us. Stop. Go. Walk here. Drive there. All action basically for survival. All communication simply to keep this ant colony buzzing along in an efficient, polite manner. "Here's your change." "Paper or plastic?' "Credit or debit?" "You want ketchup with that?" I don't want a straw. I want real human moments. I want to see you. I want you to see me. I don't want to give that up. I don't want to be ant, you know?"

Isn't this true? Even more so now, in our digitally 'enhanced', virtual existences where we interact the most on social media and not with real people, we just don't talk. How many of us would start a conversation with a stranger on the road?

I don't know. I know I may be a bit of an over-thinker. It's just that, we are just so small. And powerless, and fragile. We think we are big-shots, with our bloated egos, and our greedy natures, but we are only human. And that is the sad part. How great it would be if people communicated like that, without any ulterior motives?

I don't know. I know I may be a bit of an over-thinker. It's just that, we are just so small. And powerless, and fragile. We think we are big-shots, with our bloated egos, and our greedy natures, but we are only human. And that is the sad part. 

P.S. I'm listening to The Moon Song from the movie 'Her'. It's so painfully nostalgic. 
P.P.S. The title of my post is the first line in the song :)

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Whiny post

I want to whine. Big time. About everything. So brace yourself. Or just skip it.

IT'S NOT FAIR. It's not fair that we are constantly doing things we do not want to do. These useless assignments, attending classes we don't want to, going to different cities for a job we don't even want. Why is it like this? Why? I have to do three assignments today. My lower back is hurting. I AM TWENTY THREE YEARS OLD. I should NOT have back aches. Is it because I'm so tall? It's not fair. Plus, I slept in a weird position and my right shoulder is killing me. I have to leave for Bangalore tomorrow and come back the next day. I am going to be exhausted. Plus, my attendance is lower than I thought it would be. I need 75% or else I will not be allowed to write my exams. Now I have to go and talk to the administration to adjust my attendance because I had missed some classes because of an interview. Damn these rules. Damn everything. I am spending so much money. I do not want to, but I have to. I have a headache. I have a white-head on my stupid chin and my hair is so messy today. Why can't it just stay in place?! And maybe stop falling for a change?

Why have we made our lives like this? It wasn't supposed to be like this. I am so young. I just want a simple, comfortable life doing something I like and enjoying some moments of pleasure. Is it too much to ask for? I don't want to study or give exams. I don't want to do anything. I just want to go into a long deep slumber and wake up when everything has sorted itself out. I am so jealous of people who enjoy their work and earn loads of money doing it. Maybe I should sell my soul to the devil and become a corporate slave. Everything comes down to money at the end of the day, anyway. I'm losing faith in so many things. I am also jealous of people who can express their thoughts so efficiently and eloquently.

I want to detach my legs from my torso and keep the two parts away from each other. I want someone to pamper me and get me nice things. I want hot chocolate. I'm sitting alone in my room. Procrastinating and trying to do assignments I don't want to. Why do we have to do all this? No. No. NO! NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

Monday, March 3, 2014

Just breathe

Yup.


A couple of days back, my laptop charger suddenly decided to stop working. It said ‘the battery was unrecognized’ and I would have to buy a new one. My first reaction was a loud gasp ensued by a panic attack. I could not afford to have even a temporarily dead laptop because it has EVERYTHING. Literally, everything. My books, my ongoing dissertation work, my movies, my songs, internet, everything. It’s my connection to everything important in my life right now. Then I thought to myself how pathetic that was. I mean, if I can’t use my laptop, I’m practically handicapped. I won’t be able to work, to watch anything, read anything, or chat with anyone. I mean, what about the days when your books were physical, your notes were written on actual notebooks and you spent more time outside talking to people for real, and not typing out words with a poker face infested with ‘LOLs’ when you don’t actually ‘LOL’.  

I thought to myself it won’t be so bad. I’d order another charger and in the meantime I can go out more, read a book or talk to people. But I knew I would be restless till I get my hands on my laptop again. This is what we do, every single day after our classes get over. It’s unnerving, and disconcerting to think of the amount of information that is shoved into our faces as soon as we sign into our Twitter accounts or read all those feeds on our Facebook walls. The relentless ‘Which Game of Thrones character are you?’ quizzes, or innumerable reports and analysis of the same events, or opinion pieces on politics and how so and so affects your so and so. It makes me think, do we need so much information after all? Is it even healthy?  

Everything and everyone is crying out for your attention. But not everything and everyone deserves your attention. Imagine if a person living in the 1930s time-travelled into the future and observed us. He’d be befuddled and appalled to see how everyone is so obsessed with these square-shaped gadgets of various sizes emitting light on people’s faces. He might think human beings are possessed by some sort of bewitching objects, and we have no choice but to follow their orders. Because more often than not, it is us following their orders, than giving them. ‘Read me! Read me!’ ‘Click me because my headline is really inviting and once you open it you’ll realize that it is actually completely useless.’ ‘Watch this video and waste several minutes of your life which you could have spent stargazing or getting some exercise.’ They make us lazy, complacent and totally dependent on them. People can be dumb today, because they know they just have to whip out their black mirrors and get all the answers they want. Don’t know a song? Shazam it! Forgot the name of a movie? Google it! Eating something, or absolutely anything at all? Instagram it! Came across something nobody cares about? Tweet it!

Want to know what’s the worst part? We have all fallen prey to it. Including me. Though I might not be as bad as some of my friends, who hold their cell phones as if they’re an actual extension of their hands, I do it too. I do it because I’m a media student, and I have to ‘keep up.’ I need to be up to date with facts, and sometimes I do admit, I enjoy it. There is a vicarious thrill in 'checking someone out' or 'stalking' them or make fun of what they write. But I wish we had not reached a stage where we all go out and spend half the time with our eyes fixed on our tiny screens. Where everyone can be whoever they want to be, by projecting who they want to be, and not who they really are.

I miss the time when I used to listen to music on my Walkman and rewind it over and over to try to figure out what the singer with the heavy American accent was trying to say. I miss playing board games and cards and the anticipation of getting glossy printed photographs. I just wish we were not so reliant on it, you know? Too much of anything can’t be good.

Anyway, today is March 4th. Know what that means? We have exactly one month before college gets over. One month to finish the dissertation, classes, assignments and exams. We just attended a college fest. Our last one. We had a band called Swarathma that played in college. They were great! Entertaining, good and kind of crazy. Plus, Amitabh Bachchan visited our campus today! Yep, we saw him in flesh and blood. His voice is amazing. It was pretty unbelievable to see the not so 'angry young man' for real. So, good stuff. 

I’ve been discovering lots of new music and Fleet Foxes is one of my most favourite bands currently. Please listen to them. My top two songs are ‘Blue Ridge Mountains’ and ‘Your Protector’. I’ve also been listening to this song called 'Breathe' since I watched an episode of Grey’s Anatomy. I like the lyrics.

Went to Bombay to give an interview, and once again, was shocked at the number of people scurrying about. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to get used to that.

We spent the entire time playing Taboo after dinner today. God, it can be so much fun. Really keeps you on your toes. The breeze was beautiful tonight, like always. I’m trying not to get increasingly sentimental about leaving college over the next few days.

My sister completed two years of marriage today. TWO WHOLE YEARS. I was kind of freaking out about it. I had thought I would be sorted by the time I’m 23. But I guess you can never be ‘sorted’ in your life, ever. One of the things Big B said in his speech today was, “Agar mann ka ho to achcha hai. Aur agar mann ka na ho to zyaada achcha hai.” Translation: “If something you want happens, it’s good. If something you want doesn’t happen, it’s even better.” It just put a smile on my face. It’s okay if things are not turning out as I wanted them to. It will all be okay.

Like the song says, breathe. Just breathe. 

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Sunday mornings

(View from our college campus)

So I know that very, very soon I’m going to be sent out (correction: thrown out) to face the ‘real’ world. I will always be busy, always be running about, and weekends will be so precious I would probably sleep them away. I won't have views such as the one I've uploaded above. Which is why I want to write about today morning. In general, about Sunday mornings on the campus. Even though I have missed a LOT of Sunday breakfasts because I hardly ever get up before 12 o’clock, but still, I am writing about the ones I have managed to get up for.

I was supposed to wake up at 8: 30, but I snoozed my alarm a couple of times and ended up getting at 9. I brushed my teeth, tied my hair up messily into a pony tail with my scrunchy, tried to wipe off the leftover kajal from the previous night, wore my Buzz Lightyear pajamas and my Wonder Woman tee-shirt, and left my room. I hummed ‘Your Protector’ by Fleet Foxes as I walked along the smooth hostel corridor, climbed down the stairs and got out of the gate. It was a crisp, sunny day and the breeze was cool and pleasant. I was happy I had my favourite black jacket along with me. 

Chattu was already there, and he gave me a toothy ‘good morning’ grin. We happily hoppity-hopped towards the mess while I told him about the latest developments in Dr. Meredith Grey’s life. The mess area is decorated with red lanterns and posters as part of promotions for upcoming college events. We entered the mess and started stuffing out plates with poha and aloo parathas. But the butter was over. For me, parathas without butter is almost sacrilegious! But I could make do with jam and pickle. We gulped them down and had a cup of tea. After we were done, we filled another cup of tea and sat outside the mess and looked at the beautiful view. And that is why I love Sundays. Sitting in the sun with cups of tea in our hands, gazing lazily into the distance with our pajamas on, and not rushing off to class or discussing an upcoming class assignment. You can just sit, and talk. Or not. Just sit silently. I WILL MISS THIS!

I just love tea. Even more than coffee. My mom never denied us from having tea, and since my family needs to have those daily cups of morning and evening tea, it’s not surprising that I like it so much. It is so comforting, and familiar. Be it in a kulhad, or in a plastic cup, I can have tea anytime, anywhere. Plus, for me, tea means a break. Snack time. Evening. Talking. Anyway, the best part about a Sunday is, you can go back to your room and sleep till lunch!

I have been listening to some Assamese songs by Papon. Have been particularly hooked to Raamdhenu, which means ‘Rainbow’. I’ll try posting the meaning of the lyrics later on. They’re beautiful. I want to travel after the exams. I want to go to Mcleodganj and Dharamshala, and Arunachal Pradesh and Bhutan. I want a job which I would like. I want to be in a city I will like. I want to earn money and get gifts for myself. And everyone else. I want to join Aerobics classes, and learn to play an instrument. I want to start exercising. I want to start eating healthy.

I just realized the possibilities in front of me. I can live on my own, and own a pet. Okay not a pet, but I can own a potted plant which I can keep on my window sill. I can have lace curtains and a bookshelf. Ooh, I can have this café cum bookstore which I would visit on weekends and sit and read. I can have a cheap roadside restaurant I could go to when I would be trying to save money. I can learn how to play an instrument. I can learn how to cook. I can make work friends and talk about work things and go on trips with them. I can take leaves and travel on my own money! I can whine about bigger problems than assignments and marks. I can whine about work issues and not getting leave to attend a wedding and not getting raises. I can whine about the maid taking too many leaves, or the rise in the prices. I will be, in the truest sense of the word, independent! Oh my god!

Okay, no more planning. A lot has to be done before that. A lot! I need a job, first of all. Fingers, toes and body crossed. Be back soon!

Saturday, February 15, 2014

For the love of fictional characters

Why is the first step so difficult? The first massive, colossal, leap you have to make, to get over the inertia and just start writing. Or is it inertia? Maybe it’s fear. Sometimes when I read a good book, I feel inspired to write but I’m afraid that I can’t ever write that well. I want sentences to just flow beautifully from my fingertips and onto the keyboard, but I always feel that I won’t be good enough.

Why can’t I just use mellifluous words that are just sitting right there in my head? Why can’t I weave beautiful stories without ever doubting my work? Ernest Hemingway once said, “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” So, there. 

I wanted to write about some of the movies I’ve watched recently. The latest one amongst them is Ruby Sparks. It’s a story about a boy who writes down a character and falls in love with it and she comes to life. A quirky, complicated girl with whom he shares a wonderful relationship. But when things start to go wrong between them, he tries to tweak her by writing more about her. Fascinating, right? I mean, what would it be like to whip up someone like that? Someone you think would be perfect for you? For instance, I know exactly the kind of guy one of my friends would like to be in a relationship with. Tall, lanky, bespectacled, crooked teeth, perfect nose, singer, drummer, football player, socially awkward, sarcastic, smart. How would it work in real life though, I wonder.

One of the best movies that I’ve seen in a long time though, is Her. What an irresistibly beautiful movie. It makes so much sense in the technologically advanced world we are living in. Imagine having that one socially aware operating system who is also our best friend, who we can call and have an intelligent discussion with, who we can ask anything about anything in the world. It only gets messy when emotions get in the way. God, emotions can be so detrimental to everyone, to society. Why are we such a backward species? We kill each other, we are greedy and malicious and do unspeakable things to our own kin. And what is up with all the diseases and sickness and the slow, painful deaths?  Why is the whole process of reproduction so outrageously risky and disgusting? We should have been more evolved, resistant, logical and advanced organisms. I should have been born a billion years later. Anyway, I digress. The point being, the movie is fantastic.

Another movie to watch out for is The Ship of Theseus (Fair warning: This movie is not, I repeat, NOT about a ship) It’s one of the most brilliant masterpieces any Indian movie maker has created. And that too, a movie maker who once wrote dialogues for Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi and Kahaani Ghar Ghar Ki. Until one day, he realized how pathetic his job really was and devoted himself to making god amazing movies. Anand Gandhi used Theseus’s paradox as the base of the film which questions whether an object which has had all of its components removed and replaced remains the same object. There are four stories, each beautifully constructed and woven together to form a brilliant tapestry in the end. It’s deep, you need patience and the eye for little things to fully enjoy this movie. Some of the discussions in it made me pause it and think over it. It is really something. I am so glad India is going through this sort of movie renaissance where there is this whole new parallel cinema running alongside the mainstream crap, which is coming out which such good movies. There is Vikramaditya Motwane, Anurag Kashyap, Anand Gandhi, Ritesh Batra, Kiran Rao and so many others, trying to prove what movie watching is all about. Just go through this list once. Exciting, isn't it?

Next, I watched Frozen. Sure, it’s a beautiful, funny, very well-made Disney movie. But I don’t get the hype about the two main characters being female and how it is a feminist movie. I mean, Anne was stupid and clumsy. She fell in love with a guy who she met for a few hours, decided to marry him, offended her sister and then ran away onto snow-covered mountains to get her atop a horse? Then she had to ask another guy for help. Elsa on the other hand, somehow really irritated the way she handled her problems. Okay, if you are not convinced, please read this article. I do give this movie a big thumbs up for being funny, beautiful, entertaining and engaging. Just let’s not discuss the feminism aspects of it.

Okay, I really need not say anything about the next movie. You’ve seen it, you’ve loved it and you’re rooting for Leonardo Di’Caprio to win the Oscar with all your heart. The Wolf of Wall Street. I loved DiCaprio hated him at the same time in the movie. I loved his drool phase and his cerebral palsy phase. Sheer, sheer magnanimity.

Last on my list is Don Jon, a movie about a guy addicted to porn. I had a few problems with this movie as well. The entire purpose of this movie, actor and director Joseph Gordon Levitt claims to make is to show how porn makes us have unrealistic expectations with  with our sex lives. But the movie somehow seemed to do the opposite. It reinforces the fact that girls are not hot enough, guys have to do all the work, and sex is never as good as the porn. He sort of used sex to sell the movies. Opinions are solely my own, however.

Ooh, I’m also watching Grey’s Anatomy, which is a good show. But if you’ve been a loyal Scrubs fan, you will not like it much. The concept is the same, the characters are somewhat similar, in the end everything resolves, and the narrator has an epiphany, which all of us can relate to. Scrubs is funnier, but I guess Grey's Anatomy is more popular. Oh, and the doctors look like supermodels who somehow always have perfectly blow-dried hair and lip gloss on. But it’s a good show to watch when you are not getting any sleep at night. 

Well, that’s that. I have more movies to watch on my hard disk and I cannot wait to start gorging on them. But I have this big submission on Tuesday and I JUST CAN’T SEEM TO GET DOWN AT IT. Tomorrow, fo shizzle. It's deliciously chilly up on these hills and the weather can't get any better. A few things are stagnant but I hope they will pick up soon. I shall be back.

See you soon!

Sunday, February 9, 2014

The hills

Every day slips by only too quickly and I can’t help but think how fast it is approaching. The end. Of college. Of student life. Of living on this hill. I wish I had one more semester. One more semester to do so many things we do not have the time to do now. One more semester to go out to the city and eat at all the places we had favourited on Zomato. One more semester to set things right with some people. One more semester to become better friends with friends, and to get to know more people we could never really get to know.

How do I sum everything up I have seen, felt and experienced on this hill? How are you supposed to do something like that? It’s like trying to fit an elephant through the eye of a needle. How do I share what I felt when I woke up every day and just gazed in amazement at the view outside? How do I share what those long walks with friends around the campus under the moonlight meant? How do I describe the infinite cups of tea I’ve shared with my favourite people looking at the sunset? Sitting at the iconic tea-point and imitating everyone, those inside jokes, the times when somebody’s chappal would fall in the drain and one of us would have to jump down and rescue it. How do I express what I felt every time I would sit in class and it would start to pour outside? How I would itch to go outside and get soaked to the bone?

How do I describe those flashes of memories that fly before me so quick no editing software in the world would ever come close to the video that plays in my head? Those enormous clouds gliding past on those rainy days. The droplets slithering down the colourful umbrellas. The rings left on the mess table. The brown leaves falling on the road leading down to the mess. The screech of the bus tyres. The cacophony after winning a match. The twinkling fairy lights in the room. Pink Floyd. The warmth flooding through me when I would see my friends after months. The long hugs. Waiting at PMC. Running to the store to buy snacks for the night before it closes. Hot cups of coffee after dinner. Making plans of going to SS. Running to the terrace with the desperation of doing something spontaneous. Making plans. Oh, so many plans.

How do I write it all out? How it would crush me to remove the bulletin board we stuck on our walls with so much love? How will I get used to not sleeping next to a person as crazy as me who gets up squealing and screaming and laughing? What better way to start your day? The uncountable shoes under her bed. Her table so messy you wouldn’t know how she keeps a track of anything. Her laundry basket always overflowing with clothes. The sound her keyboard makes when she types away furiously. Her cookie monster face. Her horrifyingly loud and physically painful laughter. Her telling me “I ate three of your cookies in the morning but I replaced them today evening.” The one who understands exactly what I’m feeling because more often than not, she feels the exact same way. Who quivers her lips when I tell her we might not need another hand wash. Who cries when I read out my old emails I had sent to my best friend. How do I express what I feel when I think one day we would pack our bags together and will not live in room 445 anymore? How do I tell her how this time round, it will be me staining my pillow, for she will be gone and I would be missing her just too much.

How do I talk about the boy who sat next to me every day? He made me jam and butter sandwiches when I missed breakfast. He marked my proxies in class. He understood when I was hungry or sad even before I knew it myself. He sang old Hindi songs with me, he made me laugh and he made me cry. He hurt me more than anyone else here, but he loved me so much more than that. He sent me hilarious audio clips in the morning to wake me up for class. He sent me chocolates, he got me books, he encouraged me, he made me feel I am worth so much more than what I get. We would sit by the benches next to the basketball court and gaze up in amazement at how clear the skies were. He would invariably tell me “You see that? That’s the Orion belt. And that’s Ursa Minor.” And I would say “Wow”, even thought I knew that already. I would let him explain the constellations to me, because then, his eyes twinkled brighter than the stars.  How do I say what it would be to not talk to him at the end of every single day?

How do I describe what those Whatsapp group conversations mean? Asking about the next lunch/dinner, discussing assignments, events, classes or people. That incessant chatter will one day end. I am afraid it would reach a point where none of us would have anything in common to discuss. I am even more afraid that one by one, each of us would leave the group and get lost in our respective jobs, dashing about concrete jungles and trying to make sense of the brand new chapter in each of our lives.

How do I explain how much I love my room? How inviting the bed is after a class ends and you stumble inside the room, drained out of energy. How fresh it looks when it is bathed in the sunlight entering through the window? How do I write what seeing familiar tables in the mess felt? Those times when you would stand till 11:59 outside the hostel gate, talking to everyone because it was just so much fun to be with all your best friends? How it felt when the cool breeze blew the hair away from our faces, and we ran around, high on friendship and on love.

What do I do with the endless photos I have gathered in my phone? The unusual uniqueness of every relationship I share with each of my friends. So different, so comfortable. How I know each one of them so well. Maybe too well. Which makes me love them and hate them at the same time.

When you live on a residential campus, your friends are your family. And I have found my family here. These hills, silently observing our every move, knowing what takes place in dark, obscure spots of the campus, enveloping us in their misty, majestic presence. They know us. It is oddly pleasing to look at the sprawling city spread out before you like a game of Monopoly. The shimmering city lights in the distance remind you that when you gain enough perspective, your problems do not seem as gigantic as you make them in your head. Right now, I feel that there is so much more to life than your career. Than your placement. Than your CGPA. That’s not what we will remember. What we will remember are the nights we were crazy enough to stay awake and go for breakfast even before the mess opened. What we will remember are those times we stayed up at night talking, realizing how we all have the same doubts in life, how we are all in this together. We are all in the same boat. We are a family.  

I wanted to do this for quite some time. Just sit in front of my laptop without thinking and let the words spill out, like smoke billowing out of a chimney in haphazard patterns. There is so much more to this place than what meets the eye. It teaches you life lessons which probably no other place would teach. It compels you to bond with the people around you, to keep you sane. It teaches you that there is more to life than holding grudges against each other, or to wallow in grief if you miss out on an opportunity. Much like the roads here, life here has been full of ups and downs. And my heart refuses to believe that it is going to end. How would it be to not have to worry about missing class every morning? How would it be to never have to write an exam again? How would it be to not stay up all night and sleep the next day away? How would it be to not see the deep orange sky and the silhouettes of the guys playing football every evening? What would life be? Where would I be? Where would we all be?


We would all probably be struggling with our newfound freedom and all the challenges that come with it. But I am certain that we would never forget our experiences on these amazing, throbbing, gleaming, heartbreaking hills. The hills that have witnessed thousands of students come here, go through the same experiences every 20-year-old something would go through, and then leave with a heavy heart. They have watched them leave year after year, knowing that they will never be the same again.