A Letter to my 15-year-old Self

Dear 15-year-old me,

I promise I’ll try to avoid spoilers which could ruin the fun of future for you.

You’re probably busy juggling reading, writing, studies and what you’ll later consider to be your first meaningful relationship. Trust me, you’re doing a great job.

I know you aren’t too nervous about the exams, but in case you’re wondering, you’re going to do just fine this time. You won’t really get what you were hoping for, but that’s not going to bother you much. You’re going to work when it counts (which is in your last year of school) and that’s good enough. Have fun while you can, girl; you’re not going to be a teenager forever! On that note, I strongly suggest you stop dreaming of being all grown-up. Even at 25 (which is an acceptable age for your standard grown-ups), you aren’t going to be too sure what “being grown-up” really means. Also, it’s not as fun as you think it is.

I’d have loved to give you a peek into my present life, just to dispel the foolish thought that you have your future all planned out. Don’t believe me? What if I told you that, by this time, next year, you’ll have decided to completely change the career path you’ve chosen for yourself? Or that it will shift again, by the time you’re in college, and then again when you’re out of college? You won’t regret most of these decisions, except the ones which you were forced into. But then, life has this strange but incredible way of somehow getting you where you’re supposed to be. So, maybe those weren’t necessarily bad situations even though they weren’t of your choice.

You are going to have fun with your career (atleast until 25, for sure)! You’ll get to dabble with a couple of jobs before you decide what you want. While every profession will have its ups and downs, you’re going to be relatively happy with most of it. Enjoy while it lasts, and if you’re ever confused, just go with the flow and follow your heart (yes, I know that sounds cliché and cheesy, although you won’t realise it at 15). One serious piece of advice for your work life: no job is worth killing yourself over.

That relationship you’re so crazy about in school? Well, you’re going to fall out of love in another year or so. You will learn to love again, in ways more than one (including an all-consuming relationship that’s going to change you to a great extent). Which also means you will go through heartbreaks (yes, you’ll have more than one. Or two.) and have dawn-nature-sunset-womansome really fucked up experiences (half of which will take years to make sense to you). I know what you’ve been through and I truly wish I could say it gets better. But it doesn’t. Unless you do something about it, of course. The single most powerful advice I can give you, which could possibly change your life, would be – learn to say NO when you have to. Don’t keep blaming yourself, kid. Not everything that happens is your fault. I couldn’t stress this enough, but it’s going to take another ten years before someone gets that drilled into your head.

Don’t be afraid of falling or making mistakes. Because there will be a lot of it. But you’ll have people to help you up, most important of them being your family and your best friend from school (oh yes, that bitch is going to stick around for longer than you thought). Meanwhile, keep reading, be open to new authors and different genres. Almost half of who you are and your perceptions will be because of the books you1321e-stipula_fountain_pen read. I still don’t know how you began writing but it’s going to stay with you for life from the looks of it. Find your voice, experiment and explore, but whatever you do, keep at it. While I have nothing to substantiate this claim yet, I’m sure your dream of becoming a writer will come true. Also, you’re going to start a blog soon. Please try not to abandon it every now and then.

Have faith in yourself. You are and will continue to be stronger than you think, overcoming life’s nasty (and not-so-nasty) twists bravely. Don’t worry so much about the meaning of life, try to figure out who you are and want to be, because you shouldn’t get lost in the crowd when you have to face the world in a couple of years. I could go on and on with this, but then what’s the fun in life, right? So, I’ll let you discover the rest of it for yourself. 🙂 Oh, and by the way, you don’t stay skinny all your life.

Lots of love,

Your wiser and awesomer 25-year-old self.

PS: As much as I wish I could somehow get this to you for real, that’s not happening, unfortunately. Even though a decade sounds like a long enough time span, time travel is still pretty much a fantasy. You’re going to have to wait till you’re 25 to know all this for yourself and write this letter. Sorry about that. And, no, post-scripts aren’t supposed to be so long. I just tend to rant. But I’ll stop. Now. This was fun.

Just Out of The Coma

*treads lightly*

*trying to find my footing*

*stumbles, gets up*

*starts over again*

Clearly, I’m feeling a little lost. Like I’m trying to relearn something that was familiar but feels so strange now. Which isn’t far from the truth, of course. Anyway, here goes.

Sometime when I was in high school, I read about Alex Garland’s The Coma in a magazine.  And, immediately added it to my mental to-read list. The basic plot goes something like this: it starts with the protagonist being attacked by a group of men, one night, following which he falls into a coma. The rest of the book is just him and his consciousness talking, trying to make sense of reality and dreams. I’m sure the magazine must have put it in a much more interesting way, but, well, you get the idea.

It took almost ten years for me to get hold of that book but I finally read it a few days ago. And absolutely loved it, by the way. But then, I haven’t been able to get it out of my mind. I can’t seem to take up another book because I’m still sort of stuck in The Coma. And I felt compelled to write about it, atleast as a way of closure if nothing else (I love books that do that to me!).

When I started off with the book, I remember wondering why it wasn’t made into a movie, considering it deals with a gripping subject. You know, with all the talk about conscious and subconscious, it could neatly fit into the same category as Stay, for instance. However, as I read on, I realized why it couldn’t (and shouldn’t) be a movie.

From the start till the end, all you know about the character is his name (Carl). You don’t know where he is from, what his profession is, what he looks like or even what the other people in the book look like! Much like in a dream, the places and situations just keep shifting constantly, leaving you feeling disoriented. And intrigued. This vague, hazy plot definitely couldn’t be a movie. And, even if it were made into one, it would make absolutely no sense (I’m still trying to understand the ending, in fact).

And. yet, I loved the book. Why? I really don’t know. The first thing that struck me as interesting was that the pages weren’t numbered. It may not seem like a big deal but then, it takes off the sense of order that page numbers could give (and that works perfectly for the dream-like sequences), adding to the confusion. Maybe I loved it because it’s so unconventional. Or, perhaps, because it makes sense and yet doesn’t. Because there’s no right or wrong by which you can judge what Carl goes through. And, because, in a lot of ways, it made me question my own perceptions of reality, consciousness and life. So much so that, at a certain point, I looked up from the book, glanced around and wondered if the place and situation I was in were real or a dream (not kidding!).

If I had to pick out a favourite part (like I always do at the end of a book-rant), it would be this one, where Carl sums up how we’re all basically consciousnesses in a void:

“..if I were to lose an arm in an accident, I’d still be me. They wouldn’t say, he used to be Carl, then he lost an arm, now he’s John.

And, if, in another accident, I lost the other arm, the same would be true. Likewise with my legs, my sight, my hearing, my speech, my sense of touch. You could keep going, keep stripping me down, until I was only a consciousness, suspended in a void.

But, take away the consciousness, and suddenly I’m gone. Carl is no more. And take away the consciousness but leave the body, leave the full complement of arms and legs, and I’m still gone.”

PS: I found this interestingly similar review online – Consciousness in the void – Business Standard

5 Things I Love about Bengaluru

Having been in the city for over a year now, I’ve come to understand that the IT industry is not the only thing Bengaluru (still Bangalore for many) is popular for. For those who might not be aware of it, Bengaluru was once known as the Garden City. Probably because it used to be all beautiful, clean and everything else you’d expect a garden to be. Unfortunately, I don’t know much about that phase of the city. The Bengaluru I’ve seen since last year is one that’s infamous for being overcrowded and highly polluted with traffic jams congesting its pothole-ridden roads.

I constantly hear many of my friends complaining about these aspects. Even though I always lend a patient ear to them all, I am quite defensive about Bengaluru. Inspite of the fact that I’m an outsider here, I feel a sense of belonging. I fell in love with it right from the first day! Of course, I do get irritated with the seemingly endless traffic blocks, the teeming buses and the garbage-strewn corners. But at the end of the day, I love the city, just the same.

Just as you would love a best friend with all his/her quirks, I love Bengaluru with all its flaws. I think I’ve grown used to the crowd that I have to wade through in busy market areas…and the hours of travel it takes to go from one place to another, sometimes barely few kilometers apart! I have begun to refer to my PG (Paying Guest accommodation) as ‘home’, which itself reveals how attached I already am!

So, I thought I’d put together a list of five things I love about Bengaluru. I suppose this is one way of celebrating my first year here and showing my love for this awesome city! Well, here goes!

Disclaimer: The opinions below are based on my experience in Bengaluru and not a generalized view. 

1) The crowd – Yes, that’s right. I actually love the crowd here. It’s (mostly) young, multicultural and varied beyond words. You get to meet people from all walks of life, holding different perceptions, pursuing different interests. I’ve often felt this place is very much a melting pot of cultures, ideas and aspirations. While there maybe quite a few who are from Bengaluru or other parts of Karnataka, a major chunk of the crowd would be from other states/countries. Perhaps, this is why the city has a very special vibe. Or, maybe, it’s just me and my fascination with this place!

2) Welcoming newbies – I know this is purely based on my personal experience. I don’t know how it has been for others but I felt very warmly welcomed right from my first day here. The locals are quite accommodating; I never felt alienated. From my one-year-old perspective, I found them friendly and ready to help. Most people are able to communicate in Hindi or basic English, so, it’s not mandatory to know Kannada, the local language.

3)  The restaurants/cafes – I love (read: love love love) the myriad restaurants and cafes that dot the city! From quaint coffee shops to elaborate restaurants, there’s every kind and cuisine to choose from. Being someone who enjoys restaurant-hopping, I take pleasure in the fact that I could stay here for years and still not run out of options!

4) The climate – I know this is a commonly quoted positive aspect about Bengaluru. But then, this list really wouldn’t be complete if I didn’t mention about the pleasant and favourable climate the city enjoys throughout the year. Yes, it can get hot in the summer but not as much as in some of the neighbouring states. Guess what? This summer has been pretty much a mixture of rainy, cool days and bearable, hot days! I don’t always enjoy rain (unless I’m in..uhh..a mood for it). Cloudy, dull days and messy, dirty streets just aren’t my thing. On the contrary, I completely love the rain in Bengaluru. The sky clears up almost instantly after a downpour,  even the cloudy instances are kinda nice. Although the rain can be a nuisance sometimes, I can’t help feeling a sort of liking for it.

5) Kannada – This might sound slightly weird. But I’ve grown to love the language. And, trust me, that’s not usual. I’m actually very eager, not to mention determined, to learn Kannada. I love the way it sounds. I have noticed that the locals have a sense of pride when it comes to their language and customs. But then, it’s a not a pride that imposes itself on or looks down upon others. They love their land, language and traditions but are open enough to let others follow their own. Which is really mature and broad-minded, I feel.

So, that’s just a few things I love about Bengaluru. To be honest, I could really ramble on. But I’m sure I’ve said enough for one super-long post!

If you’re at Bengaluru, do let me know what you think! Or you could just tell me what you love about your current city. 🙂

Vendetta of a different shade

Banter alert! My thoughts are all jumbled up because so much has happened. I think I’m trying to give it some comprehensible order by writing it out here.

I had an amazing experience of what it would be like to do what I love doing. I interned at the tabloid of a newspaper for two weeks, as part of my course. And, I loved it! Their stories weren’t exactly my kind but that didn’t really matter since I was just too glad about the experience. I wrote a few stories and got them printed as well! The joy of seeing my name in the byline for the first time was something so exhilarating; I still can’t stop myself from smiling wide when I think of it.

Things weren’t all hunky-dory, though. There was a lot of shit happening on all possible levels (personal, emotional, blah blah) and I tried my best to hold myself together. While it wasn’t easy or pleasant, I have to admit, I did learn a couple of necessary lessons.

There were so many thoughts and incidents which made me think, “I should blog about this” but once the moment passed, they seemed irrelevant. Or I forgot about them. Which is downright ridiculous and irresponsible, I know. I suppose trying to recollect atleast some of them would be one way to redeem myself.

As of now, one of the most predominant thoughts on my mind would be about the Hindi movie Badlapur. I watched it last night. I can’t decide if I liked it or not. I had read this review on Firstpost right after the release of the movie. I was intrigued enough to decide to watch it. So, I did. As I progressed through the movie, I understood what the writer had meant in the review about many aspects.

Badlapur started off with a tension-filled, fast-paced scene but gradually lost the tempo. While Varun Dhawan has certainly managed to break the mould, he does lack the nuances needed to portray a character of such depth and intensity. But Nawazuddin Siddiqui definitely makes up for it and then some, although his role does seem a tad repetitive, as mentioned in the review. I loved Huma Qureishi as Jhimli, perfectly depicting the subtle shades of the character. I’m no expert to talk about technical brilliancy, so I’ll leave that part to those who know better.

A screenshot of the scene

A screenshot of the scene

One of the most touching scenes, for me, was the one in which Raghu (Varun Dhawan) comes back to an empty house, after the death of his wife and son. The commonplace clutter of a home, framed pictures and photos, leftovers of a dish…all of it seem to accentuate the pain of loss that has just begun to set in.

What struck me as most interesting was the concept of revenge that director Sriram Raghavan has laid out. The protagonist and antagonist don’t engage in climactic stunts or bloody battles. Their encounters are few and far between, and the physically violent ones almost rare. A moviegoer accustomed to stereotypes would associate revenge with something more severe, like I did. It took me a while to realize that this was going to be different. Yes, there are a couple of brutal murders but Raghu’s vengeance is of the silent and brooding kind. Which is, definitely, a refreshing change and my favourite aspect in Badlapur! The climax, apart from being sort of subdued, seems to bring into question the relevance of his need to avenge and what he ultimately gained from it.

There are flaws, of course. But I felt Badlapur stands out from the spate of commercial Bollywood films for its singular depiction of the age-old emotion of revenge.

In the Wake of the Void…

People keep coming into your life. It’s all part of the ride. But then, meetings inevitably lead to partings. And, you know what’s the worst part (atleast, for me) when a person leaves, be it for the time being or for good? The void they leave behind…that inescapable hollow feeling when you sense the empty space in your life that they once occupied. As much as I love being with dear ones, I hate having to confront this void.

As mentioned in the previous post, my sister was here for a few days. She left on Saturday. And I was left face-to-face with a gaping hole that was the remnant of her presence here with me. Coming back to the room, knowing I was going to be by myself all over again…it was hell! Next day, I couldn’t bring myself to go out because I knew I would be reminded of all the times we had passed by those paths in the past few days. So, I stayed in.

Later, sometime at night, I had a talk with Kiran. I was surprised when she mentioned something along the same lines. She said that the worst part about people stepping out of your life was the memories they left behind. All you have to remember them by are those memories. My youngest sister, Ann, also said something similar – “The pain will be there as long as you are surrounded by stuff that reminds you of them.”

I might get over this situation in a couple of days. But it led me to think of all the friends I miss or have lost contact with…friends who have left a void and faded off, the intensity of it diminishing with each passing day yet refusing to disappear completely. And I felt a little lost. Disoriented would be a better word, I suppose. Take a moment and think of every single person who has moved out of your life, whom you miss in your own ways…and you might understandMemories what I’m talking about. Isn’t it disconcerting when you ponder over how much everything has changed, right from the person you are to the people in your life? That’s precisely what I felt when I had this train of thought yesterday.

Anyway, to cut a long story short, I miss my sister. I miss some of the people who had been with me at different points in life. Nevertheless, I guess I’ve learnt to live with this emotion and all that it entails (writing helps immensely!).

Considering it’s the end of the year, I thought it would be the right time to put out this post. For everyone who has been/is part of my life, thank you for leaving me with a treasure trove of memories. I miss you in my own way. 🙂

 

[ P.S: For all the assholes who were in my life, the above message isn’t applicable to you. But yeah, thank you..for all the lessons I learnt, the hard way…for being the reason I could recognize your kind, later in life. You’re lucky I’m stopping at that. ]

Rain, Rain, Come Again :)

It’s night-time. Dark, silent (almost) and a tiny bit eerie. I don’t remember the last time I stayed up to blog. Since afternoon, there have been so many thoughts in my mind that I can’t help but sit down and let them out. Considering how lazy I can be, it surprises me that I’m staying up to write about some random thoughts I had earlier during the day. Maybe the fact that I could not go to sleep without doing this shows how much of an impact these thoughts have had on me.

I had been feeling quite low for the past couple of days.

Today afternoon, while walking back home with a friend, it started drizzling. It wasn’t unusual (it has been raining on and off during the past few weeks) or sudden (it has been cloudy for a couple of days). But it changed something within me. It felt good. I felt an urge to stay out in the rain for a while longer. It evoked a kind of happiness in me that I can’t seem to explain. It was not an overwhelming emotion…just plain happiness. A good feeling within, just a sense of being content and happy with wherever I was at that particular point in life. I went up to the terrace and sat there for a while. The rain had stopped by then but I knew it wouldn’t be long before it returned. At that moment, sitting there, watching the sky and lost in thoughts, I felt a deep sense of contentment with life. Almost like I was living solely in that moment. Even though I believe in the concept of living one’s life fully and in the moment, I have to admit that I hardly ever come across moments like this. And when I do, they touch me far deeper than ever; they leave me filled with thoughts that demand to be let out! (Right now, I feel flooded by so many thoughts, I don’t know which ones to let out!)

Since it was the rain that led to this “outpour” of thoughts, I suppose I’ll let rain take the limelight here. Today, while it was raining, I had so many thoughts going through my mind…and when I paid attention to these passing thoughts, I realized that they were mostly vivid memories, all related to rain. Some of them were almost long-forgotten. I thought I’d list out a few, to pore over on some other rainy day.

Rain reminds me of:

1) How I used to long for rainy days during childhood. I loved floating paper boats in the puddles, getting drenched in the rain (although that rarely happened) or just listening to the rain falling outside. Since rain wasn’t very common, I used to love whenever it rained, even if it meant mess and mud and dampness.

2) Schooldays! I loved going to school on rainy days. Inspite of the fact that I hated getting my feet wet, I enjoyed rainy school days. I used to love the small puddles on the school ground. Not the messy corridors, though. We used to make excuses or happily carry out errands for the teachers, just to get out of class and go out in the rain.

3) Quite contrary to school time, I hated rain during college. Perhaps because there was an excess of it! I dreaded going to class on rainy days. I hated the muddy paths, the drenched uniforms, the cold, everything! One distinct memory is of an instance when one moment, we  (classmates) were all walking slowly, ‘navigating’ around muddy puddles and talking, and the next moment, it started raining cats and dogs, and we ran to find shelter, splashing mud all around (need I add we ended up looking very much pitiable).

4) Songs. Experiences – Every time it rains, the first song to come to mind is Unnai Kandane (Parijatham). It has become almost synonymous to rain. Apart from all the memories of travelling on rainy days or of curling up in the bed, listening to the rain outside, another rainy experience I’ll always remember is the one I had while I was at Kochi – going up to the terrace with a PGmate/friend and enjoying the rain.  Evidently, it was good enough to make me blog about it. The memory and the post, in particular, have immense significance for me!

5) And now, rain will always remind me of today and the happiness it brought forth in me. Because it happened at a point when I badly needed it. Or perhaps, because it made me see things I had been overlooking, like the need to be happy by oneself.

So, what does rain remind you of? 

 

 

(A bit of) Straightening Up :)

Apparently, one post was all it took! I already feel like I’m back to blogging.

During my active-blogging-days, I used to go through each day, see everything partly through a blogger’s eyes. I used to always be open to wandering thoughts and ponder over how to write it out. Each passing thought or incident went through a sort of scrutiny, just in case it was something I could blog about. And, I seem to be back to that stage now. I keep thinking of what I could possibly blog about; I write down interesting sentences I build up in my head, jot down random thoughts; I observe people, places and situations much more closely. Do note that this happened just hours after my previous blog post. And, then, it struck me…I feel like I’m back on track. Almost, I suppose.

The past few months were much like a whirlwind of activities. March was my last month at school, as a teacher. And I was completely caught up with everything. Completing portions, spending time with the kids, finishing up the tasks. It was quite hectic but I didn’t really mind. Probably because I knew that I wouldn’t get to experience it again. April was more of a roller-coaster ride. I finally got to Bangalore (a place I’ve had in mind for the past two years!) and before I knew it, everything had fallen into place much more perfectly than I had expected to. I’ve almost settled in with the new atmosphere, place and people. Like any roller-coaster ride, I also had some down-times, instances when I was emotionally low. But then, I know it will pass (even though it seems to be taking its own time in doing so).

The only writing I did in the last few months was in my diary…the normal rant about incidents, emotions, day-to-day events, random thoughts. Even those entries were not regular. Still, I kept at it. For the sake of the joy and solace it gave me every time I wrote something.

A week or so ago, while writing out about the day, I realized that it had been ages since I wrote a poem. There was a time when I used to have books/diaries filled with poems and now, I can’t remember the last time I wrote one! That’s when it struck me that I hadn’t really been writing, in the true sense of the word. Whatever writing I did in the diary barely helped in keeping the spark alive. It felt like I had been trying to keep myself just alive, barely so…and not nurture it back to life completely. Like managing to stay afloat but never taking the effort to reach ashore.

So, now, I need to get out of the rut and..well, write. For real. 🙂 Thoughts and ideas are always welcome. (I could seriously use some help!)

What does writing mean to you? What does it do for you? 🙂