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.

The barista at the counter was someone I knew. Hooray, I thought. Free coffee.

She blinked at me, when I went up and said “How’s it going”, with the familiarity of someone you’ve met. Half a beat, and she realized who I was. Now she looked bemused.

“It’s funny”, she said. “You look like a different person every time I see you.”

“Is it a good different?”, I asked, uncertainly. This was the same girl who’d told me that I was a beautiful person, the first time we’d met. Awkwardly she’d explained that no, she was’t talking about my soul. “With the hair, and the face. It’s good for my eyes”, she’d said.

“Well, the first time I met you, you were wearing this really nice frilly dressed up shirt (it had been an indian tunic). The second time- yesterday- you looked really chill, like really dyke-y ” (I’d been wearing black pants, and a black sleeveless sweater with loose shampooed hair, tired, and kohl-smudged eyes). And today, you have the glasses and the lipstick and the bun.”

“It’s just funny”.

I grinned at her, took my free iced coffee, and headed upstairs to my nook. I’d never been called dyke-y before. I was carrying a copy of ‘The Feminine Mystique’, and living in a feminist commune at the time. Clearly, they were rubbing off on me. Being called dyke-y made me strangely happy. I wasn’t entirely sure about the rest, though.

on the surface of it

one day we will own a house with shabby comfortable couches, that you can sink into, and french windows. one of the rooms will have rust coloured walls and a fake fireplace on the mantel of which will live an empty frame that i have spray painted gold. we will own a cat whom we will name Murakami. Murakami will like you more but love me more, like children often do their mothers. i will have faint frown lines that finally show between my eyebrows and you will have the same old metallic frames housing your gaze. your hair will be more tamed, with a few blotches of white in it. mine will have resisted and have gotten messier than ever, clinging to girlhood. we will have a record player cohabitating with a stack of books we don’t read very often, but like to look at for their covers. perhaps they will have grand impressive titles like ‘Sarte on existentialism and bacon’. Actually, that is a book I would like to read, so scratch that. I should have been an art director in films. Perhaps I will be an art director for small films, and you will be writing something you like. one of the walls in one of the rooms will have lines from poems and books we love on it; parts will be yellowing, but we like it better that way. there will be a stack of dirty dishes in the sink that i am putting off doing, and there will be a line above your forehead, signaling your growing impatience,as you sit in an armchair and read The Times cover to cover, leaving out the obituaries and the tabloid. i will be traipsing around the house with a vague look in my eyes, in purple slippers and a long t-shirt that i have stolen from you. i cannot remember what it is that i’m looking for, but i keep throwing glances at the refrigerator each time i pass it, and finally, i settle down with a block of dill havarti (in a coloured jar with a paper label saying ‘I Can Haz Cheez’) on the other armchair on the opposite side of the room. i sit cross-legged, open Ulysses (which I have not managed to read in all these years), and catch you looking at me.

“what?”

you just sigh. “never mind.” a slight twitch of the head.

“what?! why must you always leave things hanging?”

“i suppose you’re going to want me to do the dishes again”.

i smile in what i think is an endearing manner, but you don’t catch it because you’re looking at the kitchen and besides, you stopped thinking it was endearing about forty two weeks ago.

“only if they bother you”

“whatever”, you snap, and bury your head in the paper again.

sunday crawls along. i’ve never liked sundays. bloody evil days providing you with time to mull over things you have no business thinking about.

one day we will own a house, and a cat, and comfortable couches, and grow old and tired of each other. or perhaps not.

Postcard Evening

It’s like there’s a part of my brain that always has you on its mind. There’s a corner that’s always tuned to you. Once in a while I remember it, and I look at it, and there you are. Right now, typing this, I’m sitting curled up beneath a red rug that I have ‘borrowed’ from the roommate for the time being. The roommate is hardly ever home, and her cat is beginning to love me more. Already he follows me around instead of her (it’s because I actually feed him). Anyway, I’m curled up on the air-mattress, as comfy as you can get on an air-mattress. The giant tabby cat is curled up, pressed against my feet with his back facing me. He’s quiet, satisfied, and he flicks his tail from side to side, erratically, like he’s keeping time with the music. I only just realized that the tail is a muscle a few days ago. It’s one of those things you know, but don’t know. So the tail is a muscle, like certain other things are muscles.

Here is what I do sometimes: I go to Grooveshark, and I click on you, and I click on ‘play station’. It’s a comforting thought that I can play you like you’re a radio whenever i want. Right now ‘Crush on you’ by Springsteen is drawing to an end, the tinny sound through my speakers, turning my room into an old-time cafe with a jukebox. I like having this option to play your station. It makes me feel safe, and warm- the way a fire in the fireplace makes your soul feel warm, as the flames leap up and lap at the wood.

I want to write you a letter. “Dearest”, it would start. I want to write it in curling handwriting at the back of a post-card. but i won’t because I’ll forget, and we talk too much on the phone anyway, and where’s that letter I was promised?

I’m reading ‘American Gods’; it’s interesting. It’s nice, this feeling of being wrapped up in a story. I’d missed it. I’ve missed you. I’ve forgotten how to kiss you, but maybe I’ll rediscover it when we meet. Through the prickliness of your ‘stache, or perhaps not.

‘Whiskey in the jar’ is playing now. I’m going to get back to my book.

Watch out, the world’s behind you

It’s the strangest thing. I was going to write about separating the essential from the inessential. And disconnecting. Then I read something which made me rethink and shape my ideas with more honesty and clarity.

What I have been doing:

Separating the essential from the inessential.

Since the beginning of this year, I have turned (mostly) vegetarian, developed an easy camaraderie with people at work, stepped out of my comfort zone, and entertained the possibility that I’m alright.

What I have realized: I turn older, I run out of patience. I have no patience with people who are inconsistent, and who take more than they will ever give. I really love few people, and I love them fiercely. My time is limited, but I will give it without reservation to them. The rest I have no time for. I am not one for social niceties. I thought I was, but I’m not, and I’m strangely happy with this decision. I will not waste my time with people I don’t really want to any longer. It is my time after all.

I am a possessive little brat. Who tries very hard to be pretend to be a grownup. I’m not really sure what to do about this, but I do know that I need reciprocity when it comes to being essential. To be really free is to remove oneself from the need for anything, or anyone save the few biological requirements. You are then the sole master of your heart, your moods, your life. I do not want this freedom. Another kind of freedom lies in trusting someone else with the capacity to hurt you. In making someone an essential when they do not have to be. This is the one I instinctively choose, and prefer for myself, after having given it some thought.

Which brings me to: Sometimes taking a step back is necessary. A slight shift of the frame brings back the perspective that was hard-won and then discarded- slowly, and then all at once.  I have realized that you do not really need anyone. Not really, you don’t. Allowing yourself to is terrifying, but it also brings with itself the second kind of freedom, that can make life immeasurably richer if you let it.

I have realized that I do not want to be a doctor. And that I want to teach and get my hands dirty with the children. That I am not a cynic, and I never want to be. That it s important to differentiate between what you really want and what you think you should want.

I have realized that I have a choice now between viewing my life as a straight trajectory of what I could do, and what would suit my career best, or letting it become slightly unpredictable and geared towards experiences I would like to have. Not having a straight career path is borderline terrifying, and such a choice would be something that I would admire in someone else. Using myself as an experiment, is both something I long to do, and something I’m incredibly nervous about.

I’m a clingy monkey, lazy and irresponsible. I want to be the opposite.

The old motto of the lab I’m at used to be “Do something”. I think I shall try very hard to adopt it as my own. Do something.

I partied away the last two days, and felt really old. Today I woke up without a hangover to a phone call from the mater, and listening to my thamma’s quavery voice over the phone. She is not amused with the vegetarianism. I skyped with Upi and had a brief glimpse of Mishtu and shared virtual hugs with Shalmus. I also devoured the majority of a pumpkin pie.

What I want to do moving forward:

gain some perspective. take a step back.

get the ball rolling on life after undergrad

take greater care of my hair and my body (time to read that damn yellow book again). i’m thinking it’s time to get a haircut that always brings a change.

unpack my life, and set up house properly.

stop feeling obligated to do things and meet people and spend my time on things because it seems like I should.

be productive and a step ahead at work. do something.

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.