The World Is Turning Upside Down

I thought I heard clocks resetting

Turning time back by the hands

Turning it to a long time ago

I thought I heard it start and stop

Start and stop

But I could not have been more wrong

Because the world is turning upside down

And I fail to understand

How no one else is hurt

Because only my feet are off the ground

As the world turns upside down

The clocks weren’t resetting

Time is garbled, going mad.

Because the world is turning upside down

Why don’t the others understand?


 

Reality is unkind. We face it, over and over, and it jolts us awake, making us realize how fickle and futile life and our attempts to live it are. Sometimes it’s death that sets us thinking about life. Death – another face of reality, the coldest one.
There was more I wanted to write on this subject. I’m deeply saddened today. But I cannot find the words. Not the right ones. I’ll leave you with this.

“When my time comes, forget the wrong that I’ve done
Help me leave behind some reasons to be missed
And don’t resent me, and when you’re feeling empty
Keep me in your memory, leave out all the rest.”

You will be in our memory, and you will be missed.

Unfinished | #AtoZChallenge

Your words are slurred. Your eyes are bloodshot.

All the time.

It isn’t just the drinking. The way you think has changed. Your assertiveness has given way to hardness, to an ugly edge laced with superiority and anger. There’s an air of unpredictability, as if any moment you’d strike a match in a room full of gasoline just for laughs. Fear clouds my thoughts. This unfamiliarity is jarring.

But I shut the door on my instincts. Your slurred words are convincing me to pick up where we left off.

Those words are the splinter on which I cut myself.


 

Hi everyone! I’m working on a minimalist fiction project for this year’s #AtoZChallenge. The story will be shared in snippets, and the events occur non-sequentially. It is for the reader to interpret and form the “whole”. You can read all the posts here. Join me, and do share links to your AtoZ posts as well!

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Changes, Self-Indulgence, and The Four Year Cycle

Of late, this rough little slimy rope has been growing around my mind telling me I sound overly self indulgent, a la Elizabeth Gilbert from what I assume to be a pre-Eat Pray Love era. I have criticized the book in the past because I felt it was the work of a privileged person who had the means to indulge if she so wished. But I stand here corrected, because unless we’ve been on the edge of chaos and confusion, I don’t think we are in a position to judge. So humor me while I too find my footing like she did.

While I do not have the resources to take a year off work and go eating in Italy or cycling in Bali, I do know that I’m going to move out of my comfortable box. For two whole years now, I have been caught in this conflict between stagnancy and listlessness. This is partly because I’m used to things changing – change, as the saying goes, has been the only constant in my life.

Growing up, we changed cities every four years (give or take one year). Which meant every four years, I had to leave behind friends, houses, familiar settings. Which means, even now, while I am surprisingly loyal to my friends, I remain a tad detached out of fear of being eventually uprooted from their lives. This is my normal.

This paved the way for the identity issues I’ve spoken about before. This also paved the way for the what bothers me most: the lack of a place I can call home. I’m perpetually homesick for a place I do not even know for sure exists. (And I’ve written so many times about this subject, I sound repetitive even to myself).

This year, I will complete eight years in Bangalore. That’s double of what I’m used to. This February, I will have lived in my current residence for four years. Those who know me know that every part of me rejected this house since the day I moved in. The reasons why I have my name on the contract, the forceful ways I’m tied to it – all of it only caused me to reject it more. You cannot turn a house into a home if you’re so busy disconnecting from it. Did I give it a try? Yes, because as I mentioned above, it’s a house that’s been forced on me, so goddammit, I tried to make it work. But eventually you reach a breaking point. One where the dissonance around you shakes everything you know and you’re willing to let go of it all. Why now and not before? That’s a story for another day.

The next part of my grand 2017-figure life out plan/idea is that I’ve decided to move to a different city. Which city? I don’t know. Am I jinxing it by speaking too soon about it? Maybe. Is the world a hostile place right now (quite possibly on the brink of war)? I do believe it. But eight years ago also the world was a shaky place and I still quit a cozy job to move cities for my own reasons – a move which was unanimously labeled “hasty and stupid” by family and friends. I still like to think I made it, professionally at least. Only back then, I knew where to move and what I wanted to do. Elizabeth Gilbert knew where she wanted to go and what she wanted to do. Right now, I do not know either.

Who’s got advice for me?

Decisions at a (Metaphorical) Gun Point

I had life all figured out as a six year old. There was nothing to it – you grew up, became an adult, and then everything would be at your fingertips. Quite simple.

It was as I grew older that I felt I was losing fragments of my grand plan, and that things weren’t as transparent as they seemed. This led to maturity giving way to immaturity. Like I’m Benjamin Button, but on the inside. Frankly, I was at the peak of my maturity and ambition at age six.

How did I get here?

There’s a reason why we are told to make decisions with a cool head. The reason being, the decisions we make at a metaphorical gun point are often terrible.

Depression does not allow you to have a cool head. It is a permanent gun pointed at you when you have it. Your actions seem mechanical and you feel you’re just going through the motions. At the same time, there’s an incessant restlessness in you, a tingling in your feet that tells you to run away, do something reckless just so that something happens and you feel something. Anything to forget what’s hurting you; anything to feel anything else.

In December, I made some poor choices out of the desperation that comes from being there – I got back in touch with a group of people I had broken ties with because I intensely dislike their hypocritical and negative outlook towards life [it drains your energy right out], just so I could have someone to talk to. I was so terrified of the fact that if someone did not tie me up, I might harm myself, and my future looked so blank and bleak (mostly blank) that I just wanted someone from the future to come and tell me everything was going to be OK. Reassurance. I wanted to take a trip, just to get away from everything. I wanted to relocate to a different city, because I felt claustrophobic over here all of a sudden.

I held myself back.  For once I let lessons learnt in the past rule me. While I did reconnect with the people I mentioned above, and also may have said/done some borderline imbecilic things, I did not let myself make any decisions that would in the long run have severe repercussions. I decided to give myself a month to “calm down” so to speak.

A month later, the immediate restlessness had subsided and I collected my follies from the previous month. Whatever hurt me then was still hurting, but not in a slice-your-heart-open way. I was definitely calmer, could sleep better, and while I still desperately wanted to see a therapist and get help, I was stopped by the doubts I have on the competencies of Indian therapists, given some less than satisfactory experiences I had had in the past [If anyone reading this has a recommendation, I would surely welcome it]. I considered a career change, and when nothing came to light, and I began to feel restless and directionless again. I did the only thing that I could think of then – call up my oldest friend in the middle of the night and cry (this is not alarming – she’s used to it by now, I think).

My friend and I look alike; everyone tells us so. When my son was a year old, he met her and was confused as hell. It is because of this that when I look at her, I think of her as me in a parallel universe – a universe where I have not made the mistakes I’ve made. I always looked up to her for her independence and her levelheadedness. She never bowed down to parental pressure (yet another gun point of sorts) and has so far made a good path for herself. So imagine my shock when I was crying that night about how lost I was feeling and she replied with, “Dude, we’re all lost.” Of course, I insisted I was more lost, and that at least she had a plan. Turns out she also did not have a plan. No one has a plan.

In any case, having a plan negates everything I believe in. But I had assumed as a six year old that by now, I would be thirty and thriving. Instead I’m thirty and confused. Which is frightening, because a decade ago, I was twenty and confused. I have said it before that nearly every mistake I’ve made in the past twelve years can be traced back to one great mistake. So while I still do not have a plan, contrary to what I had hoped for at the end of my previous post, and may never have one, what I do have is an idea: to retrace my steps to that one great mistake, and start over.

Let’s see where this goes.

The Heavier Expectations

A few weeks ago, I was discussing Past life regression with an acquaintance. While I was always interested in the study of the mind, and the subconscious, and Freud’s theories, past life regression is a wholly new area for me. I had, of course, heard of it, but it was not something I gave much thought to. To me, until then, reincarnation, or past life, or the manifestations of accumulated karma were a largely religious concept, and therefore something to be dismissed as hokum. They were also, to some extent, a Bollywoodesque idea, that had run its course somewhere in the 90s.

No matter, because the idea was still intriguing, and I have to say, all of a sudden, I wanted to know if I had lived lives before. Wait. I’d be lying if I said the idea took root when the discussion happened. The fact is, I had been curious about past lives ever since I read Ashwin Sanghi’s The Rozabal Line, back in 2009. It has come and gone like a whiff every now and then since then. If such a thing exists, then I’d like to know something about it. Anything. It is difficult not to romanticize about it once the idea has planted itself.

But this particular discussion dug its toes deeper into my head. Suddenly, I was googling past life regression in the middle of the night, in the midst of a splitting headache, and reading all I could find on the subject. I dreamed up all kinds of scenarios, where I sat with a practitioner and discovered who I was, and dramatically discovered my relationships with those who are in my present life. Most prominently though, I secretly harbored this fantasy that I would discover I was Sylvia Plath or Anais Nin in a past life. A girl can dream, eh?

One of the articles I read said that the only people who are advised to perform past life regression are those who feel there is something lacking in their present life, or those who are trying to find the root cause of a problem or emotion. I have always felt this strange sense of “not belonging”. Not to this world, not to this period in time. Always a little lost, always searching for “home.” Always trying to figure something out. I have written several posts about this as well. This explains the Sylvia Plath fantasy!

The reason why I am a writer today is partly because I have been trying to explore these questions. On the other hand, I believe writers must keep an open mind – to all hypotheses, to all ideas, to all experiences. I also believe writers must give in to instincts and emotions. Writers grow through excesses. The excesses they fit into their short attention spans. The whys. The hows. The alrights. The welcomes. The loves. The lusts. The harmonys. The cordialitys. The honestys. The opennesses. The acceptances. The understandings.

The being.

My error was, however, I bracketed all writers into these open-minded souls. I forgot, at the end of the day, we are humans. Humans with our pettiness and our general smallness of mind. I went out into the world expecting the same openness from everyone around me, placing the burden of my heavy expectations on their broad but weak shoulders.

Where I went looking for open-mindedness, I found the same kind of world I sought to abandon – closed, small souls, calling themselves creators but being nothing more than lice trying to trample each other on one head of hair. Angry souls. Dishonest souls. Backstabbing souls. Lonely and afraid souls. Friendless souls. Judgmental souls. Mocking souls.

Not souls. They were mere humans.

I went looking for people, who, perhaps felt as lost as I. I believed I would find the honesty and humility I was looking for in a crooked world. That maybe, in being among my own kind, or who I thought were my own kind, I would find myself. That together, we would better ourselves. Instead, all I found was a subset of the same people who already thought they were higher than the rest simply because they could string sentences one after the other. Who I found were those looking for instant fame. Writers on the outside, nosey, obnoxious neighbours on the inside.

Not writers. They were mere marketers.

Often, even in friendships, my expectations of others have been too great a weight for them to bear. Perhaps, this is an extension of it, and perhaps, this feeds my somewhat dormant misanthropy. It cushions the disappointments that come my way.

I wonder if I were to actually do the regression (since that is, after all, what we were discussing), what would I find about myself that would explain my boredom? What would I find that would stop me from placing so many expectations on simple-minded folk who do not deserve it.

 

Artists on the Boulevard

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Image Source: GettyImages

Reclusive I had been so long

Forgotten the ways of the world

Forgotten the art of speech known

The misty window said outside was cold.

 

My old, worn, brown jacket

That had seen better days

Now with ink splotches it’s dotted

Signs of my moods and rage.

 

I took a stroll on the boulevard

Where lost artists set up their easels

The colours of their palette clashed

Against the grey painted by the winter.

 

Shocked was I to find my songs

Printed on sheets yellowed

Fingerprints and wasted brushstrokes

Accompanied verses of our love now gone.

 

And such paintings our songs inspired!

Breathtaking; they would leave you speechless

Such talent, yet in the cold they’ve to perspire,

I merely watched as our words took form on canvas.

 

I continued to stroll when one artist

Cried aloud in despair, and in anger

Rushed to destroy what he had just painted

One of two lovers; he smeared on black and red.

 

The result seemed beautiful even then

Two bodies writhing in ecstasy or turmoil

I noticed the verse he used; it was my favourite

Reminded me of so much; I paid a sum royal.

 

Now it adorns the wall above my typewriter

Reminds me of why I’m a recluse in a world of colour

Had I not been a poet, with my whims and swings of anger

Would we be like those paintings, still together?

YOLOs, FOMOs, and MOMOs

“Has it ever occurred to you that life is an excruciatingly long wait for death.”

-Not A Famous Person

‘Twas I who said those words. Ok, tweeted. It is a universally acknowledged fact that we hate to wait. Combine that fact with what I have written above and what you have is a sinister idea – well, suicidal, but please do not try anything stupid at home, because I don’t want this blog post to be held responsible.

Also, you’re all already performing various acts of varying levels of stupidity all around me.

I know a lot of people blame social media for a whole lot of things, and rightfully too. I have one major grievance against it and that is – inspirational quotes. Especially of the YOLO variety. Oh wait, apparently YOLO is now outdated, because evolution somehow started working in reverse or something and all of us now have the attention span of a fish. I have no idea about the real attention span of fish, that’s just an expression but I am guessing that also could be a possible acronym which completely encapsulates the idea of short attention span – Fuck It, Shithead (FISH) ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.

Oh, digressing. Blame the FISH attitude. So, YOLO is now outdated, and acronym of the year 2014 (two years ago, so probably wayyyy outdated) was FOMO – fear of missing out. The idea of fomo (I don’t feel like capitalizing it, meh) is that people want to do too much, too soon, because they are all convinced they’re gonna die tomorrow or in the next hour and are terrified they wouldn’t have DJ’d at a pub before then. Or grown potatoes on Mars.

Ugh, how morbid.

I sometimes binge-read wikipedia late at night, as I am sure you all do (no? okay) and last night for reasons beyond the ideas and constraints of logic, I started reading about Drake, the rapper. Apparently he is credited with popularizing “YOLO.” He must be feeling real foolish now. Also, I noticed, he is my age, so I guess that’s ok – ’86-borns are used to feeling foolish from time to time. Then I woke up this morning, and Facebook slaps my face with this:

Capture

Then I just lost it. I wanted to wail, please stop putting so much pressure on me to enjoy my life! I never even thought about Feb 29th before this as anything other than just another day – an attitude I reserve for every day, including NYE, because I, boring as it sounds, don’t wanna over-drink and die of alcohol poisoning or being bonked on the head by over-enthusiastic party-goers.

What are we so afraid of? Of death? Because sounds like we’re more afraid of life. Life, as idyllically and unhurriedly as it comes – we seem terrified of it. We are, propelled by those nonsensical quotes (admit it – it’s all it is!), doing so much that our heart isn’t in any of it. Everybody I know is travelling like a maniac, playing four musical instruments, getting tattoos they don’t like, dating a new person each day, screaming off rooftops, enjoying NONE of it. Why? Because they’re too afraid of not enjoying life while it lasts. Oh, the irony.

I agree, life is short. I mean, I’ve been doing it for 29 years, but yeah, I’d probably find it short when I’m on my deathbed, and I still find the manuscript of my novel unfinished on my desk (I’m not fooling anyone, I started off in 2012, it’s been bloody 4 years, that’s not getting written, LOL). But do you really have to rush through life? In your chaotic frenzy to create an unforgettable one, aren’t you just creating an utterly forgettable one, one that even you can’t remember, thanks to the fish?

Ask yourself, what do you really want. Tell me it isn’t just a blanket and more hours of sleep.

And some momos (cos it’s there in the title, and I had to put them somewhere in the post. Also they’re tasty)