A Mid Year Review of the 2017 Plan

In the month of April, I was involved in a minor accident, that resulted in a knee injury and a badly cracked phone screen. It was an oddly proud moment for me.

I see you going, “Huh?” Allow me to explain.

Growing up, I didn’t fall down much. I had one big fall in ’92 (hurt my nose, shin, and foot), and another big fall in ’07 (fractured my elbow). Smaller, forgettable injuries may have taken place, who knows? This injury-free childhood and adolescence is a result of a life lived with extreme caution. When you live over-cautiously, you rarely make mistakes. Nothing, of course, is a bigger mistake than not ever making mistakes.

By this, I mean actions you perform out of your own volition. There were plenty of things that happened to me that I see as mistakes, but ones that I always found someone else to pin the blame on. There’s only so much anger and resentment you can live with before you start suspecting if you’ve developed a victim complex or if you’re simply so unlucky that you’re always at the wrong place at the wrong time. Both of these explanations were unacceptable to me. I had reached my threshold.

The accident I mentioned happened on a trip I took. I’ve written in multiple birthday-resolution posts about how I pine to take trips but life does not allow me to. Taking off on my own was a big deal for me. Getting injured, therefore, was an indication of reduced caution. Reduced caution was an indication of being open to more risks, being open to finally making mistakes. Being open to finally learning from them. Being open to finally taking ownership of my life. There is something so liberating about being to look in the mirror and say, “I am the reason I’ve hurt my knee and broken my phone. Me. No one else, but me.”

I started this year with some major stocktaking and a desire to go back to the root of what caused my depression and fix it. I even decided to document my journey, with the hope that it may benefit someone. What I didn’t mention (explicitly) was I had decided to go back to college to earn a Master’s degree – that had been my big plan at the start of the year. That didn’t work out (for this year) because the Uni I really wanted to go to rejected my application, and my second choice, where I got accepted, was asking for the kind of tuition I couldn’t afford even with student loans.

I have a tattoo on my right wrist – a tribute to two books I like – that, roughly translated, means to accept whatever happens in life because it has all been written beforehand. A rather fatalistic view that, at the beginning of this year, I forced myself to reject and take action to affect the outcome that I wanted. It is true that I once believed in fatalism (hence the tattoo). But such a world view makes us complacent. You wade through life, accepting your lot, believing, hey, this is all predetermined anyway. 

For this reason, I’m glad that I did something this year: applied to college, returned to writing, took three trips (so far), became more accepting of things I cannot change, and more that I will speak about when the time is right. Whatever the result may have been, I can’t say I sat idly by, watching life unfold. From here on, whatever mistakes I make will be my own, and my scars will make me as proud as my accomplishments will.

While I’m no longer the kind of fatalist I started out as, I do still believe there’s a plan in the cosmic scheme of things that we cannot see. However, that is no reason for us to be lazy. Good things come to those who, instead of waiting for miracles to happen, get off their asses and make miracles happen.


Linking to #ChattyBlogs

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Happiness | #AtoZChallenge

She told me it was nice to meet me. Her manner conveyed it wasn’t nice at all.

“Who was that?” I asked you as I watched her retreating back.

“No idea. But I strongly suspect she was flirting with me,” the mock gravity in your tone suggested I should be mock appalled. Or truly appalled. I couldn’t pretend to be either.

“Oh! Poor thing. She lost one of the good ones,” I smirked.

“I’m one of the good ones?”

“Aren’t you? If you’re not, I can call her right back.”

You say nothing, but I can see you’re pleased. As am I. This lack of insecurity and jealousy is new to me, but I recognize this equal exchange of trust.

“Hey, do you want to go to the playground after this?” you ask.

“Our playground? Sure.”

*

“You’ve been quiet for a while,” you observe.

We are sitting on swings that are too low for us, toes digging into coarse sand like tiny mice.

*

When I was fifteen, and my sister was twelve, we had an argument about love. She said all love was unrequited. The person you loved was never the person who loved you. I disagreed. Because I was thinking of a celebrity couple that had gotten hitched recently. My reasoning, at age fifteen, was simple – if all love was unrequited, then where do these famous love stories come from? Her response made me laugh, “Those people are rich.”

*

At fifteen and twelve, we weren’t fully qualified to talk about the concept. All I knew is I didn’t share my sister’s belief. Being with you proved I was right. Ours wasn’t just a love returned, it was returned in full. Like an infinity ribbon. It was the perfect balance. There’s an archaic term for a love like ours – redamancy. It’s the antonym of unrequited love.

“I was thinking,” I say in reply, “of equal love. And I was thinking that I have finally found ‘home’.”

You smile, not only because you understand, but also because you hear the words I’m not saying.

What does it take, I muse, for someone as detached as me to fall in love?


 

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!

H

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?

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)

The Fear Of Being Underwhelmed

–Some extremely emotional/sad content ahead. This is a post I composed three months ago. I never thought it would see the light of day because I could not frame my thoughts as coherent sentences. My aim in publishing this today, I guess, is to examine my own thoughts in an attempt to understand them. Pushing the Publish button does force us to stand back and construct full sentences instead of writing jibber-jabber. With that said, there are some conflicting, confusing, and personal things coming up, which, honestly, I don’t think will help anyone. So if you don’t feel like it, please feel free to skip this post.–

It’s been over two years since I wrote this post, the only surviving post on my blog from that era. The reason I did not delete it with the others is because I felt it might, maybe help someone, in a similar situation might relate to it, and find the words to express what they were feeling.

That statement still holds true. Depression gives you jaded glasses through which it forces you to look at the world. Nothing interests you, nothing impresses you, and you’re pretty much a breathing vegetable on the emotional front. In the internet parlance, I would often state that everything is so “meh” in a lighthearted attempt to throw the focus off my mental state. If you want to be optimistic about it, you could say just as much as nothing made me happy, nothing disappointed me either. But that’s digging too deep for the silver lining.

The worst part of it was that I had no one to speak to about it. I had my blog for a while, until the posts were found out, but there was no one I could speak to, not one person who would listen. Or maybe I didn’t try to reach out.

Music plays a big part in our lives. I had very few non-grey days during that period (as opposed to now when I have few grey days) and whenever I could, I’d listen to music. I say whenever I could because even music has the ability to drain you on a bad day. It can enhance, terrible as that sounds, the greyness of your mood.

It was around that time that I heard Temple of Thought, by Poets of the Fall. I realize whatever I say post this statement may sound silly. It is not. Nor am I trivializing my condition, because I know what I went through. I am only telling you how one song, one band helped me at a time when I was at my lowest, strange as it may sound. I received medical attention for my condition a few months later (it’s a different story that I still refused to take my medication – they’re still safely tucked in a drawer) but until then, all I had was Temple of Thought on repeat. There was still no one to talk to, but there was a song reassuring me, a voice telling me, that it is going to be alright, that someone will be there for me. The extent to which it worked, I don’t know, because I was still jaded, still feeling neither excitement nor enthusiasm nor… anything. But I will admit, it was comforting.

The more songs I listened to, the more I began to appreciate everything about them. The lyrics (mostly penned by their lead singer Marko Saaresto) were better than most poetry I had read. When I first published my poetry book, on one of the promotional websites, I cited his name as one of my influences.

A few months ago, the band was in Bangalore on tour to promote their new album. For the first time in so long, I felt excited. I wanted to go for the concert. To see for real the people who helped me when I had all but given up. It was a confusing feeling, given that I had ceased erupting for joy lately, even on the days when outwardly I expressed happiness.

When you’ve been dead for too long, you don’t know how to respond to stirrings of life within you.

R noticed my enthusiasm, and though he is not a fan himself, he agreed to go for the concert with me. He was quite amused by my shenanigans, I think. I have never told him, or anyone (until now, when I put this up on my blog, however briefly) about the impact their music has had on me. Which is when the ugly rose its head again.

The ugly said, they will let you down. The ugly said, you have too many expectations from them. The ugly said, they will be terrible on stage and whatever support you had from them, unbeknownst to them, will be lost forever in the pile of disappointment you will face. The ugly called me a silly fangirl. The ugly said I was giving a larger than life reverence to mere artists who did not deserve it.

The ugly will do all in its ability to smother down even the littlest flame of joy in you.

The first time I tried to book the tickets, it didn’t work due to a system error. I was glad, strangely. Now I realize that was probably ugly’s doing. The ugly wanted me to fail. Ugly wanted me to sabotage my own chance at happiness, to live in that detachment I’d been living with for so long.

After that first attempt, I had given up trying to book tickets, making excuses upon excuses, mainly due to a fear of being underwhelmed by the same people whose music had helped me. R convinced me otherwise. He asked me to give it another go. I refused – stubborn and moody as I am. Mere days before the concert, I gave a try – I think I was looking for a sign. I think, in a superstitious haze, I convinced myself if the tickets were full, then that meant I was better off not having attended the concert. Complicated train of thought, I know.

They were not full.

Of course, like the happy ending in movies, they were not full.

We attended the concert. Oh, and that night, among so many of their wonderful songs, they sang Temple of Thought. I was happy. It was a simple joy.

It may take years before I am overjoyed by an event or display the kind of enthusiasm I was capable of before depression overtook me. I liked my extreme displays of emotion, because they had an innate… humanness to them, that this feeling of sorry indifference forced upon me does not. Someday I will reach there. Until then, more music for me, especially, from my favourite band. They will never know who I am, but this only goes on to prove how much influence someone can have on us, without them even knowing about it. It just goes on to prove, that when you’re good, even without realizing it, you’re helping someone, in some corner of the world.

The Mandatory Birthday Post – That I Almost Forgot To Share

Every year, I share a post on my birthday in which I analyze all the times I goofed up that year and list down more ways in which to goof up the coming year. I almost forgot to write one this time. Maybe because I did not goof up at all this year.

Ha-ha! Hahahahha! Ok, moving on.

In all honesty, this year was a good year (jinxing it by saying so). I feel like someone who’s accomplished some stuff. Nothing major, I mean, they haven’t called me about my Nobel yet, but still.

My birthday posts in the past have led people to shun my blog entirely or just be pissed off in general. For those of you who don’t know, for most part of my 20s, I suffered from major clinical depression, a condition I used to write about through years 26-28, it may have been that some of my birthday resolutions included something on the lines of, “At least one successful suicide attempt this year.” I had to take down my posts because my family “felt offended” by it and felt it should not be spoken about on a public platform, cos chaar log problems. I should not talk about MCD in the past tense, because one can never assume it will not come back – I still have grey days. But because I have seen the worst of it, the least I can do for myself is laugh at myself. Which I do, quite successfully, if I do say so myself.

But I am glad to say that at age 29, I don’t feel like making that resolution, because, as I mentioned before, I have accomplished some stuff this year, and learned (?) some stuff (I think).

From: Wikipedia
From: Wikipedia

If you believe internet listicles, there’s a lot of stuff you’re supposed to do before you turn 30. Clearly, like every deadline, I have waited for the last minute, and now I feel there’s too much pressure on me. At 29, I have only one year to do utterly bizarre things like waltzing with a penguin in Antarctica and taking a leak on Mt. Everest, next to a flag that I planted. Fingers crossed for all that, but before that, a recap:

A lot of people are complaining that 2015 is rushing by too soon. I am inclined to agree but as I look back, I feel it wasn’t all that short. One of my resolutions for year 27 was to travel more (travelling is the new losing weight!). This year, I travelled quite a bit around south India. Even TripAdvisor seems shocked by my activity! And Instagram is wondering why I am behaving like everyone else. Though I would like to travel more, a lot, lot, lot more, I feel like I’ve taken the first step – especially because I didn’t completely go the “Check these touristy sites off the list” way.

In terms of blogging, I made one major goofup. Actually I don’t know if I can call it so, because I like this interface a lot more than what I was used to before. But I have lost a lot of readership – down to 1/10th. Does it matter? That’s up for debate [subtle hint – read me more, I am awesome. Pretty please.].

One more thing is I am not writing as much fiction as I used to – a fact that worries me, but not overwhelmingly so (yet). Poetry seems to have died entirely. That worries me, and yes overwhelmingly so. I’ll wait and watch.

But on the plus side, BlogAdda included my blog in their Top 5 Creative Blogs list for WIN ’15. I was exhilarated when that happened, because (entirely without pretense and exaggeration) I never thought that would ever happen. Ever. And I finally understood why they say during the Oscars “It’s such an honour to just be nominated” because the other 4 people on that list were big shots! It was a humbling moment.

There’s more I want to say about that though. Now, I am not a big believer of zodiac signs as such. But they say Scorpios are vengeful. I have always known I am more of the passive aggressive types (how sad), although you have to admit, the notion of being all vengeful with flaring nostrils has a certain romantic appeal. When people I know learned that I blog, I had some outspoken detractors. Some who said I would never write anything worth reading. One person openly said he would stop reading books if I ever – haaye raam – got published. I don’t know what makes people so openly mean, but apparently something can. When BlogAdda announced its nominees, the first thing I wished was to see the faces of those people. Maybe I am a little vengeful?

Speaking of being published – I self published my poetry in June this year. A poem I wrote on my 28th birthday got published in an anthology, and a story of mine got published in an anthology of love stories. Yet another one got selected for a women-centric anthology. I am considering another project, which also I will self-publish (I am not ready for the big ones yet, but I’ll get there – as soon as I stop procrastinating!). So that’s probably the first thing I’ll do this year. I am really glad the guy I mentioned earlier will now stop reading books – people like that should have no access to them anyway.

Yet another subtle hint: Buy my books, y’all.

Another accomplishment is the sheer number of books I read in the past year. I don’t do those goodreads challenges, because this isn’t Roadies, and there’s nothing I want to “prove to myself” (dafuq does that phrase even mean?!) but if I had set a number, I would have definitely crossed it. Hell, exploded over it! And the sheer variety – I read only indie stuff till April, and after that I read nearly everything from drama to literary to erotica to horror to fantasy. Pulitzer winners, Man-Booker winners, Nobel winners, everything. I think I am shocked at how much I read this year – touchwood, no jinx, shut up *spits thrice, throws salt over shoulders* At least this I have to credit to the death of my laptop. Hence proving – technology dying can be a good thing. (Also, shoutout to anyone planning to buy an ASUS device – my laptop was merely months old when it died, still in warranty but could not be fixed by the service centre guys – I lost everything. Just saying)

After all that, you’d think I would take a year off just to chill. But listicles tell me otherwise, as I already mentioned. Also, I have not yet been featured on any 30 under 30 lists, so I have to do something (desperately) to change that. So I am gonna go meditate on that for a bit. If you need me, I’ll be on top of Mt. Everest squatting next to a flag.

The Nostalgia For Happiness

When they met, she gave him a wistful smile
Laden with the yesterdays spent
On the clouds of heaven filled with joy
When the happiness seemed endless.

On the rim of her eyes 
The image still sparkling clear remained
And the rustle and swish could be heard
Of her skirt, autumn-coloured.

As they waltzed together around the empty ballroom
Once a drop and then up he did lift
Slow was the music, filled was the wine glass
The music faded into the sugar touch of lips

A touch of lips she had thought would last forever,
But moments die and people change though;
Preserved memories stretch in time
Diminishing the present even more so.

The music fades, and the wine is drunk
A kiss remains nothing but
A heaviness from the past on swollen lips
This she knows, and so does he;

But they let the memory of the dance remain
The nostalgia for happiness
The swish and rustle of an autumn-coloured skirt
And the kiss they thought would never end.




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