New Tattoo

Video call snapshot 4

“Like a bird on a wire, Like a drunk in a midnight choir, I have tried in my way to be free.”

Advertisements

For N- who complains that I only write depressing things about him

dropped into my life

with whiskey-blood and a mouth full of smoke.

my feet forgot the pull of gravity

for months afterward.

i should have paid more attention to what the storm was singing.

the happiest i have ever been

is struggling not to fall asleep on strange living room floors,

on make-shift beds,

beside lights strung in bottles

losing track of which of these limbs belong to me.

Bout of nostalgia

Annesha’s latest mix made me listen to the Gangs of Wasseypur soundtrack again. Right now I have ‘Womaniya’ blasting through my ears, and I want so, so badly to be back in Cal, on that day when I first watched the movie. That morning we reached Forum nearly three hours too early, crammed into the metro with a hundred other jostling, sweaty bodies. I was afraid that there was going to be a lot of awkwardness with someone who was there because of drunken antics that had happened a little while ago. There was no real awkwardness, and our motley assortment of people wandered Elgin Road searching for Crossword, taking the longest route possible. I remember sitting on the top floor with said person and looking out at this gigantic hoarding of Shahrukh Khan advertising some sort of vest(?) that bordered on the obscene. We were listening to these new-ish old songs and sharing a bowl of something or the other that was not enough for a single person, but we had no money. We kept getting the song names right, and then we wanted to look at the CD that was playing but the manager very firmly told us that it was against the rules. He took it out and let us stare at the CD cover though- lurid pink hearts and all. Then we walked back to the movie, and the Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi theme song began, and then the rest of the utterly brilliant movie followed. I was blown away by a Hindi movie after a long time, and when we staggered out into the sunlight, we were wobbly on our legs, and I was starving, but still broke so Chandrima fed me some sort of egg-fry thing from the roadside vendor on the footpath opposite Forum. It was delicious and then Squg turned up, glasses and all- and we debated for a long time where to go adventuring. Finally we let our stomachs guide us, and stopped at Sharma’s because K wanted kochuri and puri of which I stole some. Then A did his impression of Arunava which was incredibly spot on, and I laughed, and then I felt guilty for laughing, but it was all in good fun, so I laughed some more. We were back to wondering what to do next, and then someone started chanting ‘momos, momos’, so we started walking to the Metro Station to get to Denzong’s. I remember walking down the Gujarati part of the city for the first time and I was doing my usual thing, stopping to take pictures of cars, and saying ‘Byeee’ to random passersby on the street. Squg and I didn’t know each other as well back then, and she was torn between amusement and firmly taking me by the hand and dragging me along before I could cause any trouble. Anyway, so we wound up at Denzong’s and I remember texting N maybe(?)- we were always texting back then- and we settled down on the stairs/road next to the shop, and there was a cat mewling at us, and a turd somewhere close by, and ants too, but the momos were delicous, and salty, and the soup burned my tongue, and I wasn’t paying, so I sat down and gobbled a plate and a half. Then I went home, and I was very, very happy.

I loved Wasseypur 2 even more, if possible. N came along for that one, only the viewing experience was super uncomfortable for me. We watched it at some seedy, shady cinema hall- Roxy or something like that, with a coolio bar-lounge monstrosity on the top floor that said ‘On the Roxxx’. My seat was right in front of the AC vent, and I shivered through the entirety of the next three hours. I stuck my ice cold hands into N’s shirt out of desperation, which didn’t help much, and made him squirm. We’d just started dating though, so he didn’t say anything, just twitched his lips and looked amused. My favourite scene was at the end when Faisal just would not stop shooting at Ramadhir Singh’s body. Sweet, sweet release it was, and it fed my bloodlust, and man, Sneha K was a genius with the score.
I don’t really remember what we did before and after very well- I vaguely remember walking with N along New Market and trying (and failing) to pick out a decent tee for him at Sanjay’s. Chandrima and Squg were straggling behind us. When we got out of the theatre, blinking in the sunlight, we were starving as usual and we wanted to go to this place that Tridipta kept telling us about. So we walked all the way, but it was a Sunday, and it was closed, so we wound up eating roadside chowmein again. Then we wanted lassi, so I stole about half of N’s mango lassi. Then someone wanted shoes or something, so we walked along the tram line where Tridipta told N and I that if he ever had a girlfriend, he would like to sit with her on a tram and not get off for the entirety of the way, and just talk, talk, talk. I thought that this was great, and poetic, and all that, only I remembered some Splitsvilla episode or something equally heinous where one of the vapid girls on the show had to impress Rannvijay on a tram journey like they were hitting on him- so that ruined it a bit- but I didn’t say anything, just smiled and nodded.
I think about last summer sometimes, and it’s strange that it happened to me. It was so great, so much fun, so- life-altering- which is a grandiose statement to make, but it really was. It brought a bunch of people into my life who are now my people, and there were so many new things I tried, and just good emotions I felt. I guess if someday I have to remember being young, and being happy, that summer will stand out even though a lot of great stuff has happened since- stuff that has been a lot shinier, and a lot more exciting. We airbrush our memories though- I cried a bunch over summer, and did many stupid things- but I do know that last summer, I’d never been happier in my life.
I go home in a month. Everything has changed. People are now old and familiar, like ha’pant-genji, and I love them infinitely more. But there are people still to meet, and new experiences to have with the old ones. Chaa awaits, and aimless rambles, and stuffing face, and getting wet, and lazy afternoons with music and kulfi, and falling asleep happy together, if I can.

Half Baked

I am a dust mote floating,
caught on a single ray of sunlight
that is your eyes,
and your laugh,
and your touch,
burning into my skin.

Look, goodbyes are all I know. They mean that there are more adventures to come. With me, it’s always time to go. But, well…I knew right away that there was something different this time around. I didn’t want to be anywhere else. Around you, my guilt seems to melt away, and time feels like an alien concept.
“Are you ever happy?”
Everyone has times when they know that they’re happy for the most part, but moments of pure, crystallized happiness are another matter altogether.
“I can pinpoint certain moments in my life when I’ve had this pure burst of happiness. It’s like- hang on, let me say this right… it’s like… I was floating, suspended- a dust mote lit up by the sun. If i could explain the fierce blaze of happiness I felt with my entire being- that’s what it was like. Like being tiny, tiny, tiny but so large that the happiness consumes you. In a good way. It wasn’t like being overwhelmed by a flood- it’s like floating, suspended, with a mind wiped clean- no, not like being high- like… I don’t know. I was never much good with words. You know what I mean.”
I was really, really happy that time in the fourth grade when Mrs. Gomes, my favourite teacher said that I was an asset to her class. I looked up the word ‘asset’ in the big green and black Oxford Dictionary we had at home, and I felt like I had something to be proud of.
When else? When we, my brother and I, were at the backseat of the family car, tired out playing Antakshari and finger chess. We’d fallen quiet and our parents were talking, laughing about grown-up things that did not include us. Not fighting. Never have I felt so happy to be excluded.
Watching cartoon after cartoon on Fox-kids, watching Spiderman with Ma and Bhai in the master bedroom made me really happy.
When else? Laughing till my skinny ten year old sides ached, my head on a kolbaalish as my Grandpa read ‘Haw-jo-baw-ro-law’ to me. The story about the crow(?) that I’ve now forgotten.
An evening on a deserted college campus, after the rain, with a cool breeze, and a few errant souls and old music playing on their phones. I wrap my arms around a lanky frame, and push my chin into the small of a back. Close is not close enough, I realize. All the time is not time enough. Kissing is not kissing enough. Too much all at once. I am startled, and taken aback by my discovery, but fiercely, fiercely happy.
Another sort of happiness- lying on a too-thin mattress with an eye peeping at me from behind skin, blurred, Neruda streaming into reality.
Almost every time I’ve danced un-selfconsciously, I’ve been very happy. Almost every time I’ve allowed myself to get caught in the rain, I’ve been happy.
Reading really, really good books, realizing that I was beginning to love them, I’ve been happy. Fahrenheit 451 comes to mind, curled up on a couch at a cafe, with crumbs from finished butter-tarts littering my clothes.
“Listen, you probably don’t remember this. The first time I came over to your new place, when you lived by the cows-”
“I did not live by cows!’, you interject.
“Uff, you did. Yes, you did! We passed them everyday on our way to your place. Before the auto and before Papon De, but after that advertisement in Bangla we couldn’t read”
“Yes, but that was a good 3 minute walk away- that is not the same as living by cows”.
“Okay, okay fine. That house, anyway.”
“Yes, yes, carry on”.
“We were supposed to go exploring. North Calcutta, and old houses touching elbows, and sweet-shops. But it started to rain buckets, so I came over instead. We had the place to ourselves because Lahiri- bless his soul-was in Sodepur. And we wanted to watch a movie about a talking lizard. Johnny Depp was a talking lizard, and I really liked Johnny Depp so we were going to watch that movie. But then you slid over to me and wrapped a long arm around my tiny waist. You bent down and put your face next to mine, and breathed into my ear. “Koto din tokey dekhini”, you said with feeling. It had only been three days. “Far too long”, you answered, and that was that.
Something deep inside me was singing then. Happy-happy-happy, it went, and I knew how happy I was. Who knows what strange twist of fate, or chance brings people into our lives, but how unutterably lucky, lucky, lucky when someone you could really love comes along and rubs their eyes, disbelieving, at the dumb luck of it, too.

Kissing you goodbye was not the hardest part because it did not feel real. Wanting so badly to reach out and feel your bony shoulders and bury my face in your neck- wanting to do that and not being able to- that was hard. It took me nine months to shed tears over the distance, but I did.
Dilli door nahi.

In fragile things

Who’s to say what happiness is?

I could never have predicted (despite all the predictions I made)

that you would be so close.

That you would nestle – like the word last read in a half-read sentence-

deeply, firmly, lightly embedded.

I play with chopping blocks,

and fixatives.

With resin.

Bloody hearts may lie strewn across my spotless white bench.

It gives off the faintest smell of formaldehyde

(-makes me light headed sometimes,

but nothing to compare with – no matter, that’s sop.)

And who’s to say that happiness cannot be found

In the rustle, as pages brush their bodies against each other for a moment,

In the middle of a story-

About October telling stories,

As February-fussy, timid- sulks,

and April sucks her dainty fingers clear of innards,

while May takes her side.

And I, I dream at the back of my mind,

About a wondrous, terrifying August.

On an evening, where the skeletons of trees look in through my window,

as I sit inhaling the hot breath of my brown-slatted-heater.

Fingers stained with chocolate that arrived in the mail today

(near a month too late).

Bearing solemn, sincere advice on a background of blue,

it brought with it the hope of a new year.

I listen to a pink moon sing,

And curl up by my heap of warm, fresh, laundry.

Who would have known that we would come to know

each other, from half a world away.

Through tangles of invisible wires,

and calling plans that rob us blind.

Who’s to know that happiness lies here?

In fragile things.

You’ve got the love

1. Invincible Summer. Vines. Morning slow dawning eureka moment.

2. Productive bus ride reading paper.

3. Discover old messages. Find unexpected peace, and subconscious calm acceptance. Let go of bitterness and regret.

4. Intelligent discussion with intimidatingly smart people. Fail to reject competence.

5. Visit MIT with colleague. Bond over rants and dreams.

6. Eat Turkish chocolate.

7. Decide to leave work early. TGIF!

8 Say goodbye, promise to let people know about party over the weekend.

9. Carry hand drawn map by coworker and find indie cafe on street corner.

10. Settle down with cappuccino and research paper and alternately read and eavesdrop on conversations. Initiation ritual to life in Boston.

11. Get up to leave. “You have a radiance about you. You’re going to do great things”.

12. Have long conversation with strange well dressed old man. Talk about life, Reiki, Harvard, and listen to all his advice about your life with pinch of salt, and some amusement.

13. Long train and bus ride home, listening to music and feeling at peace.

14. Find out that there’s been an accident.

15. Heat up chilli chicken, bhindi, and tortillas.

16. Call up friend and manhandle oven while laughing over life, love, and randomfluff.

17. Settle down. Receive goodnews about housing and the kindness of strangers.

18. Be profoundly grateful for the xx. Notice what a great bum Florence W. has.

19. Plan springbreak with friend.

You really got a hold on me

I’m so consistently grateful for you, you’d be slightly freaked out if you knew. Everyday I’m grateful for you. You’re one of the best things 2012 threw up, maybe the best thing, my biased heart says. I write love letters these days. I’m a sap these days. I’m so very chill these days, so very chill for me. I rely on you these days. But baby, if you bring a squirrel home, you’re welcome to keep it company outside.

I went to a Dylan-Knopfler concert on the 14th. To say that it was brilliant, and life changing and surreal would be an understatement. I mean I have a poster of Dylan in my room that is more than half my size. But Knopfler was the real revelation for me. Details and pictures are on the music blog, which I have added as a new page here. 

I’ve been feeling intensely grateful for everything I have in my life, of late. I have decided to give up any resentment I had towards Canada, or at least add some gratefulness into the mix. If I had never come here, I would never have gotten the internship at Harvard which I’m going to be doing come Jan 2013, nor would I have seen Bob Dylan and Mark Knopfler in the flesh and been privileged enough to experience their fantastic music live. 

So, with all the sincerity that I can muster up, I finally thank you, Waterloo. Wholehearted thanks.  I am very, very grateful, and truly glad that I came, without reservation, without bitterness, without regret, for the very first time in my life.

This looks like a healthy trend. I’m sort of loving 2012, but I’m starting to get kinda paranoid that I have a ginormous ‘Kick me’ sign taped to my  back and the cosmic kick will happen very soon.