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You meet someone new but they are already in love with someone else. It doesn’t matter though. You like the intensity with which they love the other, you are okay with it. You find yourself laughing around this new person, you allow yourself to be fascinated one more time. You take interest and get over your general indifference towards life. It is about proximity and it is certainly about other things, it is not about them, but it is good to have them around.

Most of this liking springs from an idea in your head. It always starts in your mind. Some seemingly irrational part begins to toy around with possibilities and then everything, every small action, every stolen glance, every conversation becomes a building block of the tower of your castle in the sky. That’s how infatuation works.

After a million heart breaks and a billion heart aches you don’t really care about the silly foreplay. You are too tired to read the signs or play the game. You don’t care if they like you or not. You like them, maybe a little and you work with that. You are kind to them, you are gentle, you smile and laugh and listen, just about enough but not too much. You have your own life and they are in love with someone else. Those moments with them, you make them count, then you come back to your room and you smoke your lungs out.


 Image link – here

 

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We don’t need that kind of writing.

I have come out for an evening walk. It is in this nearby park by the sea. It is 6:06 pm and it is still sunny. I am glad my mother will join me a little late. She doesn’t like the sun that much.

As I walk slowly towards the water, I see children playing in the park. I see families. I see people running. I see old people walking. So many people. Just so many of them. It’s amazing. In the sunlight, it is beautiful.

The children remind me of a book I began reading today. You take it from here, it is called. The appreciation for the book said that this book gives hope to all other women or something to that effect. I look at the people around me when I am walking and I think we don’t need that kind of writing for hope. We have each other. We are good.

American Crime Story

Season 2 is out on FX and it is around the assassination of Gianni Versace. Till yesterday I wasn’t aware that Versace was assassinated. Assassination is a powerful term. It is reserved for Presidents and Prime Ministers. Great people are assassinated. Was Versace great?

Here is the trailer –

 

 

If you have watched the show, do tell me how you like it. Is it good, is it bad? I have only just begun. Thank you. Have a great weekend ahead!

Jonkoping – Stockholm – Alvesta, Sweden

I spent an exchange semester at the Jonkoping International Business School in Jonkoping Sweden in fall last year. It was a quiet beautiful time. Days were longer, the sun shined brighter, the air was colder. I took a flight from Mumbai to Delhi to Arlanda, Stockholm with two other students from IIMA. When we landed these guys ran into another student attending the International Marketing program at the same university. So, that night of 1st September 2017, four of us, boarded the Flixbus from Arlanda to Jonkoping. This was to be the start of my time in Europe.

That’s me and the University

Jonkoping is quaint. Sometimes it is colorless. At the time when this post is being written, unusually so. I met a 48 year old man on the way back to New Delhi, he lived in Nord, and he tells me that the temperature there is a negative 24 degrees. This man lived 5 blocks away from the writer Stieg Larsson of the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo series fame. The woman I shared an apartment with regularly sends me pictures of snowfall. I did see snow in Russia, a first for me, but and thankfully so, I have not yet watched inches of snow. I was asked in a job interview if I would be willing to work in Alaska, I, invariably, laughed. No, I said, not a chance, it is too cold. I don’t like too cold. I think its restrictive. And depressing.

That’s me prepping for minus temperatures. I shopped from Yashwant Palace, New Delhi. Mink is sinful, better to stay away. I finally settled for a Dolce and Gabbana.

Airbnb, first place of stay. I changed 3 apartments in 45 days

The Airbnb that the two guys had booked in Jonkoping was well-equipped – huge TV, playstation etc, a complete kitchen, great balcony, candles and lights, Ikea furniture and sheets. Everything was within walking distance, that is one of the things I liked about my time there – one could walk for commuting purposes, it did spoil your hair and skin, but then it was doable, and sometimes you had to do it since you know, student on a budget. I walked for the first 10-12 days, then when I shifted to a permanent residence which was 6 kms away from college, I got a bus pass made. I would not have had I not got lost in a cemetery one morning when I had a 8 am class. At this point I did not have an active phone connection, free wifi sufficed. In fact, I purchased a call plan only when I started traveling post the completion of my study-term which ended on the 45th day in the country.

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Day 1, Central Station at 3 am and 2 degrees, Jonkoping
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View from my room in the A6 motel, 2nd place of stay. This was my temp acco for over a week. The college provided ample help for helping me settle here.

Nearby our college, there were lots of cafes. I took a liking to Wayne’s coffee. I spend a couple of evenings here with that stranger we had picked up at the airport. I also spend another evening here with a student-friend who had come visiting.

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Before I write about my time in Stockholm and then the 10 other countries I visited, below are some more pictures of Jonkoping –

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Dear past self, it does get better…

January 2018
Mumbai, India

Dear past self,

I am writing this letter to you because I know the ordeal of living daily life seems overbearing right now. You have just returned from an exchange term in Sweden and you have traveled to 11 countries. But coming back home does not feel the way you had thought it would feel, it seems different now. You terribly missed home when you were away and now that you are back to your own country you miss some of the things of the west.

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Remember when you stepped foot on foreign lands and the first thing that hit you was not the different color of the  skies or the different shades of the  people. No. It was the silence. There was no noise. Cars ran smoothly. No one honked. People spoke quietly. There were no fans. It was all quiet and silent. In fact, everything was so damn quite, you could hear yourself clearly, you could think aloud, your voice could be heard. You loved it. It was calm and serene.

It is the silence to be that you miss the most. 

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I am writing to you today, to tell you, that, very soon in a few years you will be able to have that silence again and you wouldn’t even have to travel to the west. You will be able to hear your own voice amidst the chaotic cacophony. Your thoughts will be clearer, you days a little slower, your life more meaningful, as you will be able to experience the ups and downs of life slowly and silently.

In a few years from now, there will come a device from a business by a man from our own country, a man who showed that no matter where Indians go they are creators of excellence. This device will let you carry your own personal space with you. You will be able to go about life, wearing this ( super sexy looking ) gadget, in a more fulfilling kind of a way.

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You like watching movies, you know how realistic 3D movies sometimes feel. It’s funny you know a lot of money is invested in how the user sees the movie but not in how the user hears it. Sure, they have good surround sound systems, but are they are really good. Sound is very important. It is the sound that matters. That is why silent movies did not last. Now comes the most interesting bit, in the future, when you will be at home or on the road, watching a movie or listening to a song, you will find that with this device it will seem like that the movie is happening around you, you will feel that the singers are performing right in front of you.

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Back in Sweden, and on those dusty streets of Dubai, when you would go out for walks you would be thankful for the silent roads and the silent people, it helped you unwind at the end of a long day. Now with this device, you will be able to in a relaxed mode, as and when you wish. Imagine, just imagine, the luxury of thought, at your disposal. You have no idea, and I cannot even begin to tell you, how good your professional life will become once you start using this machine, and how much more fun your personal life will too.

One last thing, you are going to love using this device in the planes. Remember how babies cry, and people snore in planes. All of those unwanted sounds will go away. Now only the sounds that matter will stay with you. The sounds of life. 

So, courage dear heart, it gets better in the future.

Yours always,
Future Self


 

Image Links

  1. Image 1 – Cats and Rain
  2. Image 2 – Typewriter
  3. Image 3 – Candle
  4. Image 4 – Stockholm

Of sex ratios, anniversaries and role models

Surnames are derivative, they give away the most common perceptions about your kind. As informative labels they tell which part of the country you are from, who you have descended from, which strata of the pecking order you belong to. For those of you don’t know, despite what my last name suggests, my blood line originated in the north. My native state is Haryana. Haryana is known for many things, and among one of those many things is its dismal sex ratio. 1000 men for every 879 women[1]. It is not uncommon in the northern part of the country for families to desire a male child. And sometimes that desire is so strong that educated people opt to have an economically nonviable third or fourth or eighth child in the hopes that they will conceive a son. A boy who will take care of his elder 2, or 3 or 7 sisters and his parents.

One night in the year 2005 or 2006, I answered the landline to an over enthused classmate, a girl with two elder sisters, who told me that they had welcomed her younger brother into the family. Yes, she now had a younger brother. They had a boy in the family. I was in class eleventh then. Even back then, I found it to be very amusing. A brother who was 15 years younger to you. Another child when there were already 3 in the family.

A wonderful man I know, is the third child in his family. He comes from Haryana, from the same city that I do. He has two elder sisters. Both are doctors. In the States. I told him once – you know your parents had you only because their older children were girls, right? He said – yes, I know, they love me because I am their precious baby boy.

This conversation annoyed me a little. So, one summer morning in 2015 on the dinning table, I asked my parents – would you have had a third child if my brother was a girl? They started laughing. I said – I am serious, tell me.

My father said – No, we wouldn’t have. We had always planned for two children.

My mother said – you are strange.

My father then went to tell how they had sufficient role models around them, to show them it really doesn’t matter whether you have a boy or a girl. He told me of his many seniors who had had two girl children, and no more. He said it the gender didn’t matter, the number did.

From this little breakfast talk, talks like these are not unusual in our house, the word role model stuck with me.

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It becomes impertinent I think, to have good mentors and good role models in your life. These people, they show you, they become examples of the type of life you want to lead. And once you see that someone is doing it, you can take inspiration from their lives to build your own.

On this day today, 29 years ago, my parents got married. I have grown up seeing them treat each other with love and immense respect. My father knows my mother’s word is the final word. My mother knows when to use that final word. I have seen other couples, even the older ones, argue in public, or say something improper or impolite. I have never seen my parents do that. My father is an honest, hardworking man. My mother is an honest, hardworking woman. And they really like each other a lot. Like a lot. Like, sometimes, I have to tell them – stop being so much in love, its annoying.

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All around me, in this modern day and age, I hear of relationships not working out, of people cheating on their other halves, of marriages ending in divorces, of those that haven’t, being unhappy, of the constant complains that she doesn’t have the time for me, that he doesn’t understand me. I hear people talking about unrequited love, heartbreaks, boring dates, and failed efforts. Another comment, which is often made, and I think which has been popularized by contemporary culture, is that the initial phases of dating and marriage, the cliched honeymoon phase, is the best time of a relationship. That passion, those first-time feelings, that excitement, that craziness, the love songs, the oh I am in love feeling, the butterflies in the stomach… we lived on sunlight and chocolate bars… it was an afternoon of extravagant delight.

Another wonderful man I know, quite recently was telling of the same thing. He had met a gay director/actor/writer(?) and that gay artist, when asked about relationships, had concurred that relationships are the best in the starting.

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I laughed when I heard this. Relationships are not the best in the beginning. No silly. They get better with time. You can talk better, you share more, you do crazier things, you can crack sillier jokes, you can be goofy and weird, you can shout and be loud, you can just be yourself. These are the nice parts. In the bad ones, you know that there is someone who is there no matter what. That that one person believes in you, wishes for the best for you, and cares for you. They will work with you and sometimes they will even work on you. You can be vulnerable. Just this once. It’s safe. It feels like home. On a more practical note, having a companion through ups and downs can make life much easier. It helps you unwind at the end of the day. Life isn’t just about what you do, it is about how you feel. And love is a great source of power. One of the best feelings in the world – to love, and to be loved.

A lot of those around me, are getting married now or will be getting married soon or are already married. Let this serve as an example that you can lead your life with honor and build a beautiful relationship. It might not be easy, but it is simple. Love is wonderful. Protect it. Nurture it. Grow with it.

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[1] Despite of what Khattar says in a recent report, let us go with the 2011 official consensus data.

 

Life at IIMK – an honest account

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God’s own Campus they call it

A long time back I had read an article on life at IIMs. The article had gathered much likes, its content was along the obvious lines – how mba is a total waste of money, how the culture is one that of debauchery, how every graduate is a standardized product, how all people are fake, how there is no real value addition or creation and how the entire management system is a shameful scam (these are not my words). I was quite amused when I read this article, and I had thought that in the coming year I shall write one about the real IIM experience.

Well, here goes.

I have done my graduation from IIT Delhi, and Mathematics and Computing was no piece of cake. Those were mostly tough days, with a few good ones in-between. It is the same with IIMK. There are days when you are on the verge of a nervous breakdown, because there are so many things to do and you must do everything, not doing is not an option, and then there are days when you have all the time in the world and you do not know what to do with it, such times are few but whenever they come they are more than welcome. One of the things I really like about the colleges that I have/am studying is the space and time they provide you with to develop yourself.

IIT was a great experience both study-wise and other-wise.
The IIM experience is better.

You can be who you want to be. You want to study, you study, you want to chill, you chill, you want to learn something new, you can easily learn it, all kinds of facilities are at your disposal, plus there are no random rules to make your life tough – libraries have 24 hours access, hostels do not have an in and out time, professors are more than accommodating to shift classes or (sometimes) delay deadlines and peers help you out when you are in need. Also, there are innumerable opportunities to do so so so many things – you cannot obviously do them all, but you can choose what you want to do, you can choose how you want to grow.

When I began my undergrad, I was telling a very wise man that I am not liking college very much, I am finding it difficult to connect with people, he told me – Preeti, it is not about who you are right now, it is about how you will be 5 years down the line. IIM experience is just about the same, just as most experiences are – it is not about who we entered college as, it is about who we will be once we graduate the next year.

IIMK is a fantastic place. As an institution, it provides for your wholesome growth. Every single day you learn something new, every single day you change. It is not just about academics, or friends, or multitasking, it is about all of those things and a little more. The intensity of everyday life at IIM prepares you for anything, maybe perhaps even disillusions you a bit about expecting a grand adventure, but still.

That is what I love about my college.
This the beginning of the best of times to come.

 

Honest Movie Reviews – Qarib Qarib Singlle

After landing back in India, one of the first things I read in the Indian Express was that Irrfan Khan’s new movie, Qarib Qarib Singlle was out. It had a 3.5 rating. The newspaper reviewer** had spoken highly about the movie. Between Irrfan’s reputation and the review, I was easily influenced. Little did I know that I had raised my expectations just about enough to question the market dynamics of talent and Bollywood, yet again.

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Watch out for Yogi’s taxi ride

There we were in the theater, my friend and I, under the impression that we were in for a delightful treat for the next 2 hours*. Doing what we do while watching movies – take the liberty to pass judgments on works of art with our limited exposures, experience and knowledge, we began talking about the state of affairs in the industry. We discussed how Piku was a delightful watch, we spoke about how hilarious Hindi Medium was, we talked about how Deepika was starring in a similar role for the third time now, we concurred that Irrfan Khan had a strong screen presence, it is hard to ignore his big eyes.

In this semi-intellectual semi-critic mode of ours, we got ready to “watch” the movie. The movie began on a familiar note, I think Ki and Ka had a similar marriage setting, much like the ending marriage scene of Harry met Sejal. We were then introduced to the lead actress, who I had initially described to my friend as “she is real” when he had asked “is she pretty?

< The tense of this post will change now >

Jaya, our heroine, looks a lot like Sonakshi Sinha. That is neither a good thing nor a bad one. It is just a tad bit confusing – is Sonakshi Sinha in this movie? Has she lost weight again?  The story moves at an ok pace, but there are clear signs that you are in for some bad direction and editing when Jaya does her first close-up talk with the audience. What just happened there, my friend and I wonder, with that first interaction scene. He jokes, terese pooch rahi vo.

I get it, the director was going for that interactive shot with the crowd, remember Kevin Spacey at the Oscars or in House of Cards? Something like that. But neither the dialogues, nor the direction, or the Sonakshi Sinha doppelganger could bring that idea to screen. My friend commented – The vision of this movie is clear. It is a movie about closures. But they really could not implement that beautiful vision.

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India is such a beautiful country

After the interval, we ditched our last row seats and sat in the front so that once the movie was over we could leave the almost empty theatre quickly. I was so exasperated by the unwanted scenes, and shots and comments and dialogues, that weird “high scene”, the failed epiphany moments that I had to google who was this person who made this amateur film and convinced Irrfan to act it. What was Irrfan thinking?

I think the good parts of the movie were the comments my friend and I made. He said – if my future wife leaves me for someone like Yogi(Irrfan), I would be happy for her.

That’s as far as the good parts take us.

Irrfan saved whatever could be salvaged in this decently-thought-but-badly-implemented project. I liked the spirit of his character. I am not pro-recklessness and Yogi was quite reckless but then what the hell no one is perfect. There are some good lessons to be taken back home from Yogi. Like that swag cap he wears.

**After the show was over, walking down the many flights of stairs of PVR Phoenix, my first comment was – this theater is so disabled people friendly. The second comment was – they paid that Indian Express reviewer a lot of money. My friend said – they should have used that money to buy the heroine some clothes, aisa lag raha tha ki apne khud ke kapde leke aa gayi.

*The movie is of 2 hours and 5 minutes. It felt like forever. After tht dreadful “high” scene we realized that – oh shit, still on girlfriend number 2!

P.S. – If you are a Marvel fan, chances are slim that you have yet not watched Thor Ragnarok, but just in case you haven’t do watch it. It is best seen without seeing the trailer.

 

The fearless lightness of being

I have a friend with a beautiful name. Maya, she is called. I really like Maya because unlike most people Maya does not understand the concept of fear. Therefore in the most orthodox of the settings in my country she can be herself – calm and composed. Also unlike most other people Maya does not let gender creep into her daily train of thoughts. She thinks without keeping the fact in my mind that she is a woman.

Why should one keep their gender in mind while thinking about things you ask?

That is how it is in my country – if you are a girl you are constantly reminded of it every single time you breathe. That is how it is.

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Maya called me last month. She said – you know something strange happened. I asked her – how was your trip, she was travelling you see, Maya loves to travel. She said – the trip was soul soothing, I was living in the present after such a long time, not once did I look at my phone, I forgot time. We just were. It was a time of extravagant delight. 

I love when she talks like that. It is like heaven on earth, she can make you feel that. I asked – what was the strange thing that happened? 

She said – On the way back, I had to catch a train from one of those really small railway stations, you know the ones from the movies of the ’70s – desolated platforms, poorly built. It was raining, and it wasn’t that big a station, there were just four train tracks and two platforms. Platform number one was well built with seating spaces, platform two was under construction. A white over-bridge connected the two platforms. It was raining lightly, the sky was gray, the station looked washed, I was walking on the bridge dragging my one bag, dressed in a long flowing dress and I thought to myself what a perfect place to smoke. But it was raining, and I couldn’t open my umbrella with all the luggage, so I decided I would get to platform two, find a secluded corner and light one. 

Now then I descend on platform two, there are a few people around, some are staring at me, but I really don’t care, all I want to do is take in this beautiful scene in my head with a smoke, so I walk to the farther end of the station, I walk in the rain to where a father and daughter are sitting. I ask them if it would be a problem if I smoked, the father is just staring at me, the girl, not believing what she just heard, says – yeah, no it will not be a problem. 

So I light my smoke, and I am looking into the distance and I am thinking it can’t get more perfect when these bunch of kids join the father and daughter. There are two boys and two girls and they look at me and start to talk about smoking and I almost roll my eyes. The weather and the setting is too good and I rarely get annoyed, this line of their conversation is not even amusing, it is just cliched, the world is a little like that isn’t it – repetitive in it’s conclusions? 

While she is telling me her story, I can imagine her in a long flowing blue dress on a freshly washed station smoking a cigarette like they are meant to be smoked, just being herself – tall, beautiful, a work of art.

The kids then start discussing about which trips are the best to have – an only boys trip, an only girls trip or a mixed group trip. The girls said all girls trips are fun. This one boy said – all girls trips cannot be fun, too many restrictions come into picture, you cannot visit certain places, you have to get back in early, there is that safety issue. Listening to him, the girls gave a weird look. Listening to him I laughed in my head. I do not know who I felt more bad for – the women who were being brainwashed or this young man who thought in this fearful practical way about the world around us. 

I understand where Maya is going with this. Still, I wait for her to say it –

Darling, she says, people live in so much fear. And they are not even aware of it. Before they can act they are conscious of their sex, of their place in society, of the rules which tell them how to behave, of the constructs which shape their reality. How does one breathe in so much senseless noise? How does one live by decree? 

I cannot live like this, she continues.

You do not live like this, I tell her.

Travel tomorrow, to live today

Read : To all those who are sure of themselves. 

One doesn’t need to travel to open one’s mind, but traveling does open one’s mind. Moving away from the comforts of your immediate mental constructs, once you are on the road, you see the expanse of the world stretching along its paths newer ways of understanding life. Because no matter in which direction you move, there exists life which you have not seen, there exists life even without you ever have being.

How foolish it is then to think that one knows everything, that one has thought all that can be thought and that this is just how things are, how can they be different from what I already know. But my dear fellow, what do you know? You, who lives, in the narrow confines of diminishing meaning mistaking monotony for reality, you who has traded growth of mind for an illusion of security, you who laughs at any new exposure – mocking it, belittling it while clutching to the safety of your limited biases, yes you, tell me, what do you know?

Not much, you must admit. And therefore, my dear friend, this is where I must pull you aside, take your hands and give you my words – don’t settle. Not yet. Don’t settle for a reality decided for you by your immediate surroundings. Lift up your soul and walk towards others. Learn, see, be open. Love, laugh and live. Don’t get too comfortable in your own skin. Instead let differences mess with your mind, question what you know, doubt what you believe. Get out there and witness this multitudinal existence of being.

Don’t settle. Not yet. Not when you know that there are 7 billion other human-beings on this planet. These 7 billion people are living in over 200 different countries. And that is them doing this just now. Before there were fewer beings, and they have lived on, in future it is highly likely there will be more people and they shall carry on. Without you. So, while you are here, if you have not seen all that there is to see, then tell me what is the point to be?

The point is that of vantage. Every time you step into the shoes of a new man, you will attain the point of vantage. And you will see there is a delicate coherence in seemingly divergent independents. People everywhere are just the same. We all hate the same things – hypocrisy, lies, double standards, laziness, lack of spirit, lack of interesting things to say, suffering, misery, disease. We all love the same things – honesty, kindness, courage, bravery, simplicity, humility, compassion, hope, dreams. We all want the same things – a purpose, some meaning, few dollars, some success, a nice little house, good coffee, red wine, delicious food and someone to care.

There then now you know –  all of life’s meaning lies in the simple fact –  to live today, you must travel tomorrow.


Note – The second paragraph turns ironically meta – the narrator uses mockery against people who mock.

Kite Notes

Read : This is an open envelope to all those rebuilding themselves 

As individuals, we have grown up to be so by ourselves, liking the time spent in adding meaning to our daily existence that any kind of encroachment on this personal space induces a reluctance to interact, a reluctance which borders on repulsion. This form of independence of thought, space, and time, I know not, whether is the way to search for meaning but it certainly is life-affirming.  Any further attempt to expand thereupon would undermine the brevity of thought of the two lines. This thought ends here.

So hurt she was by all that had transpired that every time she subconsciously tried to try again she felt like she way playing with fire. Heart-breaks can be nasty business. Trying again puts you in a world of uncertainty, predictability and anticipation. To deal with these one requires courage, perhaps she had lost all of hers, it requires patience, maybe patience was her shield against the realities of her daily life,  it requires hope and as we know she had lost all of hers, a long time ago.

Did she want to try again and feel? She wished she knew. Her spirit had aged and it had become numb. It would require more than an answer for her to become one again. It would need a reconstruction. She would have to be built again. From scratch. And that takes time.

So she taps into her reservoir of patience and places herself before all else. For once, justice shall be done. For once, the world will get it right. And if the price to pay is to be by herself, then this thought ends here.


Note on Kite What I really like about the above composition is its being concise, connected and complete. 

Looks do matter

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From here

Dear ugly girl with a beautiful sister,

Everyone is not beautiful.
And of course looks do matter.
Don’t believe anyone who tells you otherwise.

And now that she is growing up and she is just going to get more beautiful. And since you are going to be around her, people are always going to draw comparisons, relatives are going to remark about your plainness, they are going to feel bad for you, boys are going to pay more attention to her, she will always be the first choice, her beauty will be revered and you are going to be side-lined. It is going to get tough and it is going to get worse, and don’t let any one else console you otherwise.

And you might suffer feelings worse than low self-esteem.
Yup, it is going to be horrible. Just horrible.

But then hopefully, maybe, maybe you will find yourself in a place where you will see that such subjective concepts as beauty do not really matter. Maybe you will have multiple paradigm shifts and you will realize that there is more to life than just being beautiful. Maybe you will meet wonderful people who will show that life is about learning, exploring, having fun, a few good friends, creating, and giving back to society. Maybe you will travel and meet new people who will be fascinated by the stories you tell them, or who will like you not for your looks but for your words, or for how well you play the guitar or how melodious you sound, or for how kind you are. Maybe you will study in a place where you will find brilliant people who are doing everything they can to change the world.

Maybe you will read, and read a lot and find out for yourself about the conventional and societal constructs of beauty and how the definitions of beauty vary from culture to culture, place to place, and you will realize how futile this beauty business is. Maybe you will think and you will conclude that esteem isn’t a byproduct of looks, but it is an amalgamation of real-deep virtues.

I hope you meet wonderful people and go to faraway places and fill your life with beautiful experiences and then, for yourself, find out that there is just so, so, so much more to life than looks and clothes and money.

I am not really that beautiful, or pretty. I have been surrounded by beautiful women all my life. And sure, there have been instances when men have paid more attention to these beautiful women than to me. Do I feel bad? Absolutely not. Do I feel jealous? Why should I? I really do not see why my sense of worth should be defined by those around me. I have dated some of the most handsome men in my circles, and the way they have looked at me has made me feel beautiful and loved and wanted. I have met their hot ex-s, and never have I felt insecure. Insecurity, you will learn if you choose to think, is a state of mind and nothing else.

See, the point is, it is your life, and it is your choice on how you handle it. You could either feel sorry for yourself, and be depressed and live in a way the society thinks ugly and/or fat people should live, or you could go out there and experience life, embrace it in its entirety and create for your own self a world which is the envy of others.

From,
Another plain girl

Looking for something more long-term

Today Ann is in the mall, walking down the corridor of beauty parlors and salons. Her hair has been acting up lately, it has become dry – from the tips to the roots, as well as her scalp, her scalp has become dry too.

Ann does not like the things she cannot manage, every night before she sleeps she applies five different kinds of lotions, and shampoos and conditioners, and sprays and serums so that she can have the perfect hair the next morning. She must do it the previous night, every single time, because her hair is so unmanageable, she can never ever just wash it and let it dry out in the outside world. Because only she knows what she looks like in that time between when her is wet just after the shower and when it is completely dry. That in-between time is a secret that has been kept away from everyone, even her friends and boyfriends. That is why sometimes they think she is a little eccentric, but then, she is kind, so it really doesn’t matter.

What Ann hates about making her hair perfect is that she has to go through a tedious process every time she has to wash them. Every single time. She hates that. It is such a grand waste of time, she thinks. Every other day one cannot spend three to four hours just on their hair. No. There has to be a better solution, there has to be something that lasts long, really long.

So, she walks into the first salon she sees. For perfect hair, for the perfect you, reads the display of this salon. The salon people, the saloners, smile at her, greet her as she walks in. They ask her if she would you like to have a coffee ma’am, should they get her some juice. Yes, they know Ann at this salon. She is a regular.

Ann sits down with the head hair expert lady saloner.

What would you want to get done today Ann?

I want my hair done perfectly.

We can go in for your regular routine. Or you could try the new treatment which Lo’real has just released. Keratine Intense, it is called.

How long with this new treatment last?

2 to 3 months, followed by the usual touch-ups.

Do you have something that will last longer?

There is the botanical oils treatment. It will last around 6 months, but you will have to be in the parlour every month to back it up.

Still longer?

How long you do want it to last Ann?

Well, forever sounds about right.

The head hair lady saloner expert smiled.

No, we don’t have anything for that. But the Keratine Intense treatment should do you wonders for about 3 months. Shall we start it then?

No, said Ann and she got up and walked out.

The next salon display read – care for hair that lasts long. Ann smiled. Maybe this is it, she thought. She sat down with the head hair expert man saloner and went through the same exact conversation.

Don’t you have something more long term?

Your base genetic structure cannot be altered Ann. Your hair will remain how they are naturally. Nothing can be done about them.

So what are all these treatments that you so religiously recommend?

You want to know the truth?

Yes.

Quick fixes. That is what they are. Instant solutions.

Ah, I see.

Should we start with the protein treatment then?

No, said Ann, I am looking for something permanent, I am looking for something long-term. And she walked out.

She met Adam the same night. They had drinks. She told him of the saloners and of their quick fixes. Adam smiled.

Do you want to know the truth Ann?

Yes, Adam.

Adam lit a cigarette.

Look around you Ann, look at the society we live in. You want to lose weight, you go on a diet. You want perfect skin, you take a facial. You want good hair, you go to the parlour. You have a deadline to meet, you spend the entire previous night working. You like a guy, you sleep with him on the first date. It is not working out, you end it and you move on and you try again. It still doesn’t work out? You end it. You tell yourself that next time it will last. But how will it if you don’t stay?

We are living in a society of quick fixes. We are living in a society that seeks instant gratification. Managers are worried about their quarterly numbers. They don’t give a shit about the long-term growth prospects or the environment implications of their decisions. Everybody wants quick results. Now, I want this now! How can we ever achieve permanence like this? How can we ever built something long term like this?

Take your problem. You want good hair. Eat right, every day, every single meal of every day. Work-out. Meditate. Read. Research. Learn. Introspect. Reflect. Keep it natural. Do this for a month, then a month more, then a few years. You will have absolutely gorgeous hair. It is rather obvious is it not? Permanence is a continuance not an end result. It requires effort, it needs patience.

17 miles and a half , I

A beautiful piece of writing

Cigarettes and Equations

The corridor was long enough to see all the way till the end. You would walk it down to your flat. On the way you would be in your thoughts. In one of those corners where the wind if sultry, the weather was  warm. If the sounds made some sense some time, the conversations got even more indifferent.

He sat in one corner of his prison cell of a flat, okay may be a bit more upper middle class than that. And sketched up some goofy face of a guy. She brought coffee from a nearby  place.

That morning was particularly one of the better ones, he thought. The breakfasts needs to get crunchier, she thought. After a lazy coffee they did it again.

Later she thought again of what he said during the breakfast. She loved the deeper conversations even though down the long corridor, towards the end he…

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In Broken Images

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Ron Hicks, Gray Day, Milan

He is quick, thinking in clear images;
I am slow, thinking in broken images.

He becomes dull, trusting to his clear images;
I become sharp, mistrusting my broken images,

Trusting his images, he assumes their relevance;
Mistrusting my images, I question their relevance.

Assuming their relevance, he assumes the fact,
Questioning their relevance, I question the fact.

When the fact fails him, he questions his senses;
When the fact fails me, I approve my senses.

He continues quick and dull in his clear images;
I continue slow and sharp in my broken images.

He in a new confusion of his understanding;
I in a new understanding of my confusion.

Robert Graves

Autonomy

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You must remember Tim,
Tim was the little boy, whom life
handed a blank slate, and when Tim
asked – what should I do with it
Life replied – why Tim anything you like

Tim is also the little boy
The little boy who doesn’t conform
Tim, our Tim, is the Tim, who doesn’t give a fuck

Tim has independent thought
A much scarce resource in our times –
autonomy – he owns his life’s plot
Even if it doesn’t work out some times.


In response to today’s Daily Post Prompt

Awe

“Can I drive today please?” asked Lula making a puppy face and fluttering her eye-lashes. Her father smiled. “Yes of course you may Lula. In fact take the car and go check out the new place all by yourself”. Lula shrieked and jumped and hugged her father. Today was going to mark the onset of her adult life, metaphorically at least if not legally.

Lula drove the car out of the garage onto the road and joined hundreds of other cars which were headed to the city. It was 9.30 in the morning. She would reach the city by 11.00. 11.30 was the launch of her second most favourite thing in the world. Her first most favourite thing in the world was on the road with her.

Cindy Crawford. My god. She was so beautiful and elegant. Her hair, her body, her eyes, her walk, her smile. The way she posed, the arch of her back, how pretty things looked on her – watches and jewellery and clothes and purses. My oh my.

cindy crawford
Even though it took her an extra 45 minutes to reach the city Lula loved to drive along the Highway 8 because as you left the town and as you neared the city the bill boards had huge-size posters of Cindy Crawford. And Cindy Crawford, as we know, was Lula’s first most favourite thing in the world. So it didn’t matter if she reached her second most favourite thing 45 minutes late. Lula was in awe of Cindy and once you are in awe of something, you are often blinded.

Highway to Hell played on the stereo and Lula was sipping a soda. On the seat lay a newspaper. Lula had circled certain sections of an article in it. The article was written by the child of someone her father knew.

Ten minutes away from the city, she pulled her car onto one side of the road, nearby a huge wrist-watch advertisement poster of Cindy. Lula stepped out of her car, stood against its trunk and gazed longingly at the larger than life Miss Crawford.

One of these days I am going to be like you, Lula sipped her soda thoughtfully, one of these days. She looked at her watch, it’s time to go right now, but one of these days. She smiled at the board, took a long sip, crushed the can, threw it on the road and got into her car. She looked at the newspaper lying on the seat and without a second thought threw it out too. Then she drove away to the launch of her second most favourite thing in the world.

By 11.15 she reached KFC. Mac-Cheetos launch today a board outside it read. She could not wait to try out Cheetos filled with cheese.

Yes, that is correct. Lula’s second most favourite thing in the world was fast food. She was a 210 pound 170 cms 16-year old. Lula was also connected to Adam, though the connection was very weak. Both of their fathers had attended the same college ten years ago. It was his article she had been reading in the morning. It went something like this –

Failure is often characterised by awe……one holds in awe that which one is not yet, that which one cannot achieve…… only those things seem great to us, which we are yet to fully comprehend or which are relatively new…..that which we understand we might begin to trivialise or admire, its largely subjective…. “in awe of nature?” “of course you will always be in awe of nature, man is a subset of nature, nature created man and not the other way” …. “Christ! Believe in evolution? It is a fact! Not a belief!” ….


In response to today’s Daily Post Prompt

Empty

Ann is a young bright girl. She works as an informatics engineer in a widely acclaimed MNC. She likes her job, she gets to learn a lot. She walks to work every day, and on some days she helps blind people cross the road. “Bless you dear child”, they often say. She smiles and says “thank you, you have just made my day”.

That is the type of girl Ann is, always helping people, always holding the door, smiling at strangers, giving away her seat on the train, lending an ear to a troubled friend, always being polite, always being kind. It is not that she doesn’t get angry, but she knows better than to let anger, and jealously, and hatred, and gluttony, and sloth, she knows better than to let all these vices get the better of her.

“Ann is so wonderful and so helpful,” her colleagues often say.
“Ann is so sweet and dutiful,” her relatives concur.
“Ann is just the best person to be around,” her friends declare.

On her way back from work every day, Ann visits a café, has a cup of coffee and smokes two cigarettes. She doesn’t leave a tip, the owners don’t mind, she is there every day, so it’s fine. Besides, ever since she started to visit the café, their number of regular customers has increased. Ann has this charisma that attracts people. So the owners really don’t mind her not paying the tip.  They would even give her free coffee sometime, if she only asks. But she would never, and they know that.

girl coffee cafe smoking
After having coffee, Ann heads back to her apartment. It is on the 6th floor. She likes to sit in the balcony in the evenings and read a book, or listen to some songs, or watch a movie. But all of these things she does in the balcony. She hardly spends any time in her apartment. She doesn’t like it much. It is just a room. And it is small. And empty. Just like her life.

She has no money, no, Ann has very little money. Once upon a time, she had the chance to turn her life around, she could have picked up a high paying job at a bigger firm, but back then she chose to listen to her heart and in all honesty, like she often regrets, it quite didn’t work out that well. Every evening she spends 15 minutes browsing through social networks and looking at the photos of big apartments, and fancy cars, and exotic holidays, her schools friends now own and take.

Today evening, she hits a like on a photo which Tony has uploaded 6 hours ago. It is a picture of a piano he recently added to his plush drawing room.

Tony’s plush living room is sparsely decorated. But whatever little furniture it does hold, all of that furniture is high-boutique-end custom made. Tony drives a fancy black car to work, the one that accelerators to a high number in just under a few seconds, you know the type, sleek body, killer looks, much like Tony himself. Tony spends a lot of time in the gym, and jogging in a park by the sea, he goes swimming and kick-boxing.

A normal work day for Tony is meeting with venture capitalists, industrialists, sometimes even politicians, zeroing in on start-ups to invest it, or companies to buy, or bad loans to sell off. Every decision that Tony takes impacts tens of thousands of lives.

“Tony can pull off any deal,” his bosses say.
“Tony is your crisis guy, he is the one with solutions”, his co-workers boast.
“Tony is so great in bed,” all the pretty women confess.

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In the evenings, Tony hangs out with some of the most good-looking and well-groomed people of the city, posing casually for group photographs and keeping a close watch on the number of likes each of his posts garner. Today evening, his 17th notification says that Ann has liked a week old photograph of a limited edition dragonheart-wood piano he had recently managed to buy after a lot of hassle.

“Sir, would care for a refill?,” a waiter prods.
“What?”, Tony asks, pulled back into the present. Ann used to be his friend in school. She was a simple sweet girl. Everyone loved her. Everyone wanted to be her.
“Your glass sir, it is empty”.
Just like my life, Tony thinks.

Tony takes a refill and continues to browse through his newsfeed. He sees that Adam has checked in a theatre nearby. He drops him a message – it’s been a long time, lets meet old friend.

Ting goes Adam’s phone and he sees Tony’s message. Adam is friends with both Ann and Tony. He knows about the empty lives they lead. A long time ago they used to date, their lives weren’t so empty then. Or that’s what they felt. But Adam knows that emptiness is just a relative concept. Like most other concepts which come in pairs – happy-sad, love-indifference, rich-poor, ugly-pretty, high-low, empty – fulfilling. Just like how once in a while everyone is sad, or ugly, or high, or low, thus once in a while everyone faces that feeling of feeling empty. It’s quite alright. We are all going to die anyway.

Adam is a nihilist. His philosophy is empty. Don’t listen to him.


That story has ended. Thank you for reading. I would love to hear about what you thought of it.

Also, here is a little poem I tried to write on today’s Daily post prompt

Empty your head, get rid of doubt
what is all that insecurity about?
Think big thoughts, why the hesitation?
Follow them with solid immediate action.

Empty your mood, why the unease?
Lack of conviction is an incurable disease
Empty your words, why be the cynic?
No one likes a pessimist, asinine critic

Aimless

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Mary had a little lamb,
its fleece was as white as snow,
and everywhere that Mary went
the lamb was sure to go.

But, of course, the lamb is just a metaphor
For Mary’s clingy friend Christopher
This timeless rhyme is actually about
How aimless Christopher never comes out

It followed her to school one day,
Which was against the rule;
It made the children laugh and play
To see a lamb at school.

So in the end when the children cry
Why the lamb loves Mary so?
The teacher in her reply, meant to state –
When you can’t dream, you learn to imitate.


Here is an alternate ending to this poem –

Mary had a little lamb,
its fleece was as white as snow,
and everywhere that Mary went
the lamb was sure to go.

But, of course, the lamb is just a metaphor
For Mary’s clingy friend Christopher
This timeless rhyme is actually about
How aimless Christopher never comes out

He follows her to school one day,
And even when the teacher turns him out
He patiently waits about
Till Mary re-appears.

Why does the lamb trail Mary though?
The eager children cry;
Why, if you can’t lead, you have to follow
The teacher thus replies.


Which one do you like ?


In response to today’s Daily Post Prompt
Picture Credits – here.

Udta Punjab Movie Review

Wow.
Fu*k.
Bloody hell.

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Movie Poster – Original Image Link

So, you know how they say, that movies in Bollywood are simply fantastic, I mean, real life is not like how they show it on the big screen – people don’t look like that in real life, no one talks like that in real life, love is certainly not like that and hello, real life has no background score or perfect make-up. No. Real life is full of sweat, grit, boredom and other banal things. Except when you are on drugs. Yes. When you are on drugs, things are different. Things could be good different in a controlled environment. But what happens when anyone and everyone gets high on drugs? What happens when this drug-business is coupled with politics, ignorance and greed?

Well, things get out of hand then. Things get real. And bad.

This reality, as it is, is shown in the movie Udta Punjab. When Sudip Sharma and Abhishek Chaubey decided to write the script for this, I am sure, they spent an incalculable amount of time trying to build up the scenes, the characters, the setting, the conflicts and of course the climax. My god, what an amazing climax, how everything falls into place! Right before the end when on screen is the Sultanpura safe-house is shown, you reckon that it will be an all out mass murder Tarantino style end. That scene right there is the epitome of fine screenplay matched with visionary direction.

This movie is so real, to say that it will give you goosebumps, is a laughable understatement. If Requiem for a Dream made you think twice about shooting it up, this movie will scare you enough to never try the needle. Go ahead and watch it, Bollywood has delivered its realest movie till date. This is, reality, as it is.

Perfect

Stand up, sit down,
Do this, don’t do that
Write in cursive,
Speak in bold
Life your chin,
put your chest out
pull up your jeans
button your shirt
don’t gel your hair
don’t laugh so much
cover your mouth
while you sneeze
don’t let your hair
fly in the breeze
don’t lie, don’t cheat
no funny business in the backseat
Be kind to women
and to kids
do not call anyone
a pig
no cussing, no curses
respect the Church
and you must worship
not just your work, but also god
follow the rules, even when
they are flawed
stand up, sit down,
your back, keep it straight
there you go, now you are Perfect.


In response to today’s Daily Prompt

The shadow Mother

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October, 2014

It was 3am. Aaron was in his bed, sleeping and sleep-texting.

Nancy – my period is late.
Aaron – it’s probably just a delay. Perfect cycles are a myth.

And he went back to sleep. He got up at 5am. It was time to hit the gym. And then lectures. Aaron was in his final year. Sitting on the pot, he checked his notifications.

Oh boy, this isn’t good”, he sighed. Nancy had shared a whatsapp image of her positive pregnancy test.

February 1992

Many people would avoid taking this risk. Especially at the start. You could get stereotyped. Your acting career would be over even before it begins,” Dori told Simon, “I love you nevertheless.

In a time when every other new tinsel-town actor wanted that dream lead romantic hero, Simon agreed to play a negative role. The movie was about a rich businessman who during his youth had killed a man who was the father of the young villain. The villain, once he is a grown man, moves to town and manipulates the daughters of the businessman fall in love with him, marries one of them and kills the other. Then in the climax, while brutally torturing his wife in front of her father, he reveals who his true identity. Like Dori said, many new actors who not accept this as their first role.

SIMON’s risk paid off. He went on to become the most famous movie-star of his generation and a couple of more generations to come. Every woman wanted to be his lover and every man wanted to be like Simon. A big part of his success was his boy-next-door face, his rags to riches story, his decent acting skills and his carefully cultivated public persona. Yes, he was very careful of what his fans saw of him. Because he knew, a man like him, with no connections in the industry, was what he was because of his fans.

July 1982

He has a very slim chance of surviving. If you believe in god, now is a good time to pray”, said the doctors. Maya wiped her tears, took the hand of her daughter Patty and headed to the Church to pray for her husband, Alex Machan who had been injured on the sets of Foolie.

Foolie was a movie about a labourer who is rebellious and takes on the established corrupt bourgeois. While shooting for a scene in which he was running on a train platform, a board on Alex Machan. He was rushed to the hospital where after three operations he slipped into a coma. The shooting of the movie was halted. 9 million fans prayed for the recovery of Alex. Everyone loved Alex.

During the next few decades

SIMON married Dori and had two surprisingly beautiful children. Alex Machan, who had once been his idol, was now his rival but the two broke bread often. Alex and Maya had a son post the July ’82 incident. Their daughter Patty got married to a rich industrialist and bore him three daughters. Their son got married to a woman who was way out of his league. But it didn’t matter as he wasn’t really into women. What was his name? That doesn’t matter either.

October, 2014

Papa, there has been a slight complication. Nancy is with child”.
I see,” said Alex, “Who is the father?
You are not going to like this one bit. I think she should abort the child”, replied Patty.
No!”, screamed Alex. “ The child will be born. And the father will take responsibility. Who is the father?”
“Aaron”.
“Simon’s goddam son Aaron?”,
roared Alex.
“Yes, Simon’s goddam son Aaron, father”.

When Alex Machan dropped in on the movie set of Simon’s movie Ron, everyone was surprised. Simon smiled and shook his hand. Alex politely responded. Scowling was not a part of Alex’s game. He said they needed to talk somewhere away from all the eyes. Simon walked him to his vanity van. There Alex told him of the pregnancy. Simon was shocked. He called his son and asked him if this was true. Aaron said yes it was, he also told his father how he planned to marry Nancy and raise the child. Simon told him that they shall talk later in the night.

He wants to marry her”, Alex said. Simon nodded.
Alex took off his glasses and looked straight at Simon. “Make sure that never happens”, he said and walked out.

A few months later

In the summer of 2015 SIMON shook the world when he announced the birth of his third child. Since Dori was old, they as a couple had decided to go the surrogate way. They named him JeMos.

When will we tell him that I am his real father papa?”, asked Aaron while playing with JeMos.
“ Never,” replied SIMON.

 

Connected.

“A call for Mr. Hopkins from Mr. Bell,” said the operator
Click. Snap. Click. Done.
“Mr. Bell, you are connected. Go ahead and take the call.”
Mr. Bell, “well this is awkward, I much rather fancy the telegram”

Ting, ting, press, click.
90-912-334
Press phone button.
Really old Nokia Phone.
Connected.
“Hi darling, well this is awkward,
I much rather fancy the phone”.

Speed Dial. Press 1.
Call Tim. Connected.
Tim cannot be reached right now.
Please leave a message after the beep

“Can’t reach you! What is the point of
all this connectedness? ”

<Enter social media mode name>
Click Message. Connected
Type – call me Clara.
One tick, two ticks,
Ticks turn blue.
Clara is typing…
“quite much like modern-day telegram
isn’t this?”

The circle is complete, connected.
Not yet, wait.

In the wee morning hours,
Lying in bed Macy’s lazy hand
reaches for Mike,
Mike is away for a jog.
Macy thinks – I am making pancakes.
Connected.
5 miles away, Mike smiles.


In response to today’s WordPress Prompt