Saturday, December 5, 2015

I wish I could wrap a blanket around you

That can't be my Madras.
People used to take their cows to graze there. It's overflowing there, right above on to the Spur Tank Road?
That can't be. The countless aerial shots of brown water, grey sky-reflecting water. Shots all over the news, in the papers, on the internet.
Drowning. That's a bad word. That can't be happening.
Boats to get out of an indoor stadium? I am relieved at the resourcefulness and ingenuity and camaraderie I'm hearing about. But boats? Where did the boats come from?
And planes? Are those planes with water up to their wings?
That can't be. That's mine.
And I watch TV and I look at pictures but I cannot identify any of the places. Is that a part of Anna Salai I know? Which part of Egmore is that? T.Nagar? Is that T.Nagar?
I have a whole lot of questions. But what right do I have? I'm away, I've been away for the past 2 years - geographically, mentally. I've had the blessed opportunity to travel to some of the most awaited countries and cultures on my list. I have learnt to set up my toothbrush and call that home for the night. I enjoy this itinerant life. I have learnt or perhaps, I am still trying to teach myself that you grow when you are out of your comfort zone. When you are unfamiliar, challenged, new.

But I have dreamt of the road in front of Marina Beach. At night, under the glow of those street lamps. Near the Ice House. When the sandwich and bujji stalls are long shut. When you drive past the Gandhi statue and turn right towards Citi Centre, the old Nilgiris, the old Saravana Bhavan, R.K. Salai.
I have shocked myself in forgetting the name of Sowcarpet.
I have yet to taste sambar as it should be.
And then this happens.

I read an interview of actor-director Paul Bettany who said that when he left England for the US, he didn't miss it in the beginning because he used to travel so much. Then one day, it hit him hard. And he was achingly homesick.

My dear one AB said, I wish we could hold up this big giant umbrella over Chennai.  That made me sadder. I was initially just terribly worried about Mum and friends and staff.  I was numb to distraction, heart racing, weepy and panicking about her most of all - which I am at all times anyway, so this was merely a heightened moment. I'm so so thankful to God that they are all safe. I was relieved.

But then when I saw the food packet boxes and the Zomato plans and the relief funds, it struck me - no, no, no this doesn't happen here. It's just rain. We Chennaiites, we Madrasis love rain. I've raved about it before. A.R. Rahman songs, watching the news desperately for government-declared school/college holidays, puddles, cosiness, hot chocolate, indoor family time. Rain is what cleans up after the so-called 'hot, hotter hottest'. Rain in Madras is more beautiful than anywhere else in the world - because it is a bath well-deserved. It is beautiful, it is bountiful. It satiates thirst in every which way.

It will be alright. We will get back to complaining about the sun. We will return to loving the rain just as we did.

And until then, your loyal child wraps her arms around you. That is all she can offer from a sodden heart.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

My Okay for Valentine's Day

So, Valentine's Day is a marketing tool conceptualised in the 15th/16th/17th century and turned very conveniently into a sales platform for chocolatiers/florists/gift shops.
So, it's an artificial celebration; an unnecessary obligation.
So, love is supposed to be something natural and not enforced by the media and assorted society and it should be celebrated and venerated and exclamated every single day.

But you need to have one day in a whole year when you are eligible to expect magic. You need that free pass to dream, to go along with silliness and let your heart rule your head, as timidly as it can.You should be allowed to flutter at the prospect of some red, some pink, ribbons, sparkle, surprise, the illogical and the superfluous.  After all those 364 odd days sitting in the cellar, number-crunching and filing records that are sealed shut, your heart deserves to go forth into the sunshine and do a stupid little dance.

So, whether something or not happens to you this Valentine's Day, just go with it. Singles, enjoy the vicarious pleasure of urging couples on dates. Couples, just please go and make some singles happy by treasuring what you have. Whether you live it or not, pretend or create, make them believe in magic.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Word to the self-assumed unwise

Relax. No one knows everything. You only know what you have experienced and that forms your telescope, periscope, magnifying glass to the world. There’s a lot out there and you can excavate it, slowly, at your own pace, in your own way. You watch mindless teen dramas when you should be reading the classics and you weep over photographs of poached rhinos. You get excited over lip gloss and frantic about economic reforms. You cuddle a million pillows while you sleep and you hesitate before shaking hands with strangers. You stammer sometimes and you wish you had more opinions. You can't get the gist of that grandiloquent article you read but you can offer an informed analysis of 'Gangnam Style'. You want to be loved and you don’t want anyone to know it. Everything that seems huge and terrifying and frustrating will disappear someday, but may your fears be gone before that. You are passionate and you are truthful and you are deep and you are light. You are you, exclusively and uniquely.

Relax. You can only be in one place at one time. So you are here. You be present here before buying a waitlisted ticket to there. No one ever looked good doing splits across continents, time zones and mind frames. You are local and you are global. You are such a mélange of feelings, thoughts, ideas and ideologies. You are a creation, a work of art. You feel eons away from the person you want to be but be satisfied-you are beautiful, special, wonderful, yeah, yeah, yeah but more importantly, you are complete right now. You are alive and you’d better be alive fully, in this little x sq ft of a box that has been presented to you. You have time and you have space. Your mind and soul are capable of accommodating infinite possibilities that your body can only dream of. Absorb the moment and employ it to your advantage. Breathe, open your eyes as wide as they can get it and soak in the technicolour.

Relax. You are loved. By at least one other soul in the world. And if that’s not enough, wrap your arms around your shoulders and give yourself a warm hug. Because you’ve earned it, because you’re worth it.

Oh and you need sunscreen.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

'All Alright' by Sigur Ros playing in the background

Stop talking about writing and just write.

Can of worms.Why does that phrase come to mind?

So write abstractedly. Write under aliases and psedonyms. Just go write that book then. Fiction! Go forth, fictify. Stop dreaming about donning nautical striped espadrilles and white-white costumes and sitting on the floor of a yacht. Or even if you do, write about it.

But isn't silence the highest state, what we should aspire to?

You're far from silence, dude. All those bells clanging in your head. All those pop ditties. All those dramatic cinematic sequences.

Okay, okay.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Love Will Not Die, Gypsy...

My father passed away on Christmas 2011. It was a hard five months before that, with his illness and my parents' and my collective despair but he fought bravely. The dark situation brought us closer, made us realise our love and faith and brought us to squeeze as much as possible out of life. Books, music, movies and conversation helped. But his agony was too much to bear, for he was a liver of life. So eventually his passing turned out to be his liberation.

But of course, it's terrible, excruciatingly painful for us, the ones left behind. Me, I remain the sole custodian of his world now, the beautiful world he created and invited me into. So, it's lonely. Particularly to sit and write here in this room without him being always just a few feet away, always accessible.

But having known him and known his love, I know he'd want me to celebrate his life. Hence, is born, my second blog, one dedicated to his memory. It's a blog to absorb and adore all the ephemeral beauties of life, to all those who've loved and lost our person(s) to the World Beyond. We haven't really lost them. They live on within us.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Everything's Going to Be Alright

Soprano voices rising together in harmony, echoing across the railway tracks, far enough to sound other-worldly, close enough to warm this chill.

Hot baths, clean water, freshly washed hair.

Music sharing, the old fashioned way. As old-fashioned as syncing an iPod can be.

Movies to watch. So many movies to watch.

Endorphins from running a little extra everyday.

Telling stories-real, made-up, written, oral, imagined and lived.

Dreaming. Tomorrow will be bigger, better and alright.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Wow this Kolaveri...

No, it's not just because I am a known Dhanush fan. Or maybe it is. Been a fan ever since I met him almost 8 years ago at Landmark where he was serenely browsing for music and I went all, oohh I know you. He signed my first (and so far only) autograph ("Be Yourself!"). I think this was just after his second or third film had released and he was becoming this quiet sensation, with this huge Metro Plus article out about him.

He's a brilliant actor (I want to write a movie for him!) Among all his films, the madcap 'Mappillai' included, loved 'Aadukalam' (more so for the first half of it though). 'Pudhupettai' too. But what makes me a fan and so Dhanush-wannabeish are also the facts that he's so Chennai-ly charismatic and charming and funny and watchable and how his face wears perfectly all those songs and emotions and expressions that one rarely gets to display out loud. Like those rage-filled looks he gives people onscreen (probably not the best idea- all those broken bottles in 'Mayakkam Enna'). Like those dreamy, blissful, gleeful smiles he gives himself in 'Yathe Yathe' as he cycles ever so slowly behind the heroine. Like that totally absurd Chinese costume and dance in 'Theriyaama Parthu'. Like dancing with abandon to 'Otha Solaala'. I want to do that on Mount Road.

Anyway, this song or rather anthem (, seems to define our day and age. It feels so Madras-Chennai-Madras, the Tanglish confusion of words describing our state of mind. When I listen to the song, I think beyond love failure. I dedicate this song to Chetpet bridge traffic, N.H. Road potholes (approx 7 at last count), Mylapore's beautiful chaos, Valluvar Kottam road's crests and troughs-more troughs than crests, the weird sounds that my car's been making and yet braving through it all, to that sewage water that's almost reaching my doorstep and mixing with my bath water so I have to take baths in my gym, to my friends' bad romances, bad blood and bad judgement, to my desperation to see movies after long crazy days, to seeing a friend's ex and genuinely wishing her well but wondering what to tell him, to my best friend's disco fever which has been wet blanketed by the new 11 pm curfew and thus driving us to perform impromptu 'Kilimanjaro' dances, to fiscal issues, to hours at the pavement shop 'taking xerox', to my troubles, my peoples' troubles, to the big heavy issues and the little tiny scratches . These tholas might not induce kolaveri but they make me want to laconically sing along to these supposedly 'misogynistic', self-deprecating, peter-making fun of lyrics that are often so nonsensical in places that they make absolute, perfect, technicolour sense. So that is why I, a girl, a half-peter and not exactly lovestruck soul can relate. That nadaswaram whine, the slow beat and the lackadaisacal vocals are making me do one comedy dance in my head.

No wonder there's an actual street sign flashing: "Why this Kolaveri? Drive safely". Our kolaveri may be expressed, unexpressed, subdued or impulsive but it's there. And we deal with it. We laugh at it.

Now didn't someone say "Comedy is tragedy deferred"?