Tuesday, December 21, 2010

I'm really really good, thanks

A blank page. A white Christmas. A new year of unseen possibility, of unknown schemes. An open canvas of a future where nothing and everything is written. I fold my arms behind my head and lie down in the grass.

I've been overcome by a delicious blankness over the past ten days or so. Perhaps it's the on and off cold that's stalking me (and half of Chennai's population) Perhaps it's the chilly breeze that's so unfamiliar and helplessly addictive to this tropical place. The floor's too cold for bare feet and the limbs automatically reach for cover. Snuggle up, sleep, dream, sleep.

It's a pleasant blankness. It's a blankness that welcomes good old friends entering the inviolate channel flipping/Hindi movie dissing/celebrity gossiping/dreamy philosophy talking zone. It's a blankness that's ever ready for a movie. It's a blankness that includes time for the gym, college, but devotes a lot of time to lack of thought. Isn't that the aim of meditation? And here it is: free. I'm quiet, but I'm okay. I've never been this okay in such a long time- a neutral state is much preferred actually instead of the super "I got the power" high. Friends question my lack of (usual) existentialism, why am I not "what-am-I-gonna-do". I should be. Friends berate my lack of go, my wastefulness. Is it that bad to let go and just be content for a change? I'm not saying I'm ecstatic at my level of accomplishment but is it okay if I don't feel too bad that I'm not the Secretary-General of the United Nations?

Maybe it's the cough syrup talking.

But seriously, I think it's more to do with the weather. When it gets this way in Madras, 90's A. R. Rahman Tamil songs begin playing in the background (and some new ones, maybe 'Marudaani' and 'Hosanna'). The tamed sun sprinkles its light through swaying leaves. My collection of big baggy plaid shirts come out to perform their role as 'home jackets'. The window suddenly begins to receive a lot of my undivided attention. Time pauses, looks at its shoulder back at me, as if to wonder why the humans aren't catching up in their usual frenzied stress mode. I wave lazily back. You go on ahead. I'll stop, take stock. Not because I want to make a New Year's resolution. But because I don't.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

That's what they call serendipity

I normally give my car to the valet guy to park at the gym but it was night and it was raining and I didn't see him so I parked it myself. After finishing my workout, he offered to bring it around to the front of the gym but I declined because in truth, I didn't have any money to tip him. So running off sheepishly, I got into my car on the other side of the road and slowly, cautiously began reversing into that chaotic street with whatever vision I could possess inside a rain splattered car on a dark street with blitzing lights.

For some reason I looked to my right and spotted a small, white-clad man with spectacles and a much-cuter-than-but-a-lot-like Woody Allen face. I couldn't believe it. I couldn't believe it!

It was my maths tuition teacher from twelfth standard. The only maths tuition teacher I had who counted. For those of you who don't know, especially in Chennai, all kids are expected to go to tuition classes in the all important tenth and twelfth public exam years, irrespective of their capabilities. It's a rite of passage. The top students go to learn exam skills (which questions are bound to come in the paper and other tricks) and the others go to get what the school which moves at such a fast pace can't give them. My maths teacher, an endearing, limerick-making soul did try. But I was beyond help. I was really good but some irrational fear kept me back in only this subject. It was weird that something I really loved didn't love me back. Especially when it was a thing, not a person.

So this maths teacher was the one who transformed a paranoid, maths-loving but morbidly maths-phobic person into a smiling, peaceful 87% scoring, peace-with-demons-making school graduate. The one who made studying so easy with the help of practice papers. The adorable 90 + teacher who walked and walked and walked all around my part of town, tuition to tuition just because he didn't want to "stay at home watching TV". The one whose number I had lost, whom I feared had been long gone and whom I never really got to thank properly.

Now this may not be really relevant this but my father's a bit older. Living with him has endowed me with a fondness, a soft corner for older gentlemen beyond a particular age in the sense that I feel protective about them. I'm not really the type who feels children need fighting for. They do but they have enough people battling for the preservation of their innocence. My heart goes out to the older men and women, mostly men (because women are quite strong in this sense) who don't really have the energy that they used to have and who have to face a faster, glitzier world that wants to drop everything and move on.

So, meeting my teacher. I wanted to tell him so much. Thank him for helping me through a difficult period? Thank him for bringing sweetness and goodness into my life? Thank him for being a great teacher? But the words didn't really come out right. They overflowed and he nodded, he remembered me only after a while but he did. He asked about my former classmate and friend who had introduced me to him. He asked about my parents. Our conversation was less than sparkling and soul-searching but it was essential. It was special. God gave me my chance at gratitude and at filling the small hole in my heart that was incomplete. Nothing much was said but so much was expressed. I held his hand with both of mine and simply repeated "I'm so happy to see you"

Sunday, November 7, 2010

...And then life gives you a break

So after a long, therapeutic, post-midnight conversation with my positive conscience (A.K.A. Jhinks) I regained a fresh perspective on what this studying process actually means to me. She gave me pointers on what I'd forgotten-doing something for the love of it. And she's the right person to do so because the real reason I'm doing this course and enjoying a second chance at collegehood and knowledge-acquisition is the fact that she told me to accompany her to admissions last year and then overslept, thus making me go on my own and buying an application I didn't intend to. The story is longer and funnier but does not really belong here at this moment. Let's catalogue that under LIFE'S SECRET SMILES or GOING WITH THE FLOW. Or maybe just DESTINY.

Anyway, so Jhinks told me that it was absaaloootellyyyy (that sounds more like me) okayyyy to spend three hours on a page..just as long as I committed myself to every word on that page. Sai Baba, my Mum and others have all extolled on putting your best into what you're supposed to do at that moment. And also, God helps those who help themselves. I've always been all for that (as it distracts me from the looming questions) But I guess I needed a reminder. And last night, in that semi-conscious, giggly state that comes from sleep deprivation and a long rollercoaster conversation with your best friend since you were ten, I was coached into no more stress, no more million distractions (How I Met Your Mother, iTunes, or Diwali get togethers) only steely, slow, steady, studious state of mindedness (AhAA!)

And then I wake up, all set to delve into neutrality and the laws of warfare (after being distracted by Obama's rather fulfilling session with St. Xavier's students in Mumbai. "India has risen"-that should bury yesterday's disappointment. Whatever it is, I felt redeemed watching the interaction) and hello, Cyclone Jal (a creative name or what?) is heading our way. I go check my abandoned phone and find a barrage of missed calls and expectant messages. Holiday or not? Exam postponed or what? An hour later, we were sure. It's kinda like a damp, chilly Diwali present.

So I'm taking a few hours off to myself. Gotta clear out the week's worth of empty water bottles from this room, wipe the smudgy spectactles with my special lint-free blue cloth, burn a CD of funny songs (Action Replayy! Stupid and hilarious! Just the way I love it. Akshay Kumar is classically comical and it's nice to see Aishwarya Rai-Bachchan act goofy) and then get back to focusedness.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

The adulation for Obama's nation (Sorry, Kanye)

The three-syllable proper noun is being chanted every couple of nano seconds on consecutive news channels as part of a flurry of commentary in English and every single Indian language. And in my father's room, there is a lot of channel flipping. So it's 'bamobamaobamaobama' 24/7 with opinions on the shaky airplane ladder to his 'महत्त्वपूर्ण' (important) words signed at the 26/11 memorial to a literal memorisation of his itinerary for today.

Not that I would really mind. I was a fan, still am and am reluctant to give it up. But being a student of IR, I am supposed to be objective and reasoning. Not non-commital on the aid to Pakistan deal. Being a citizen of India, I am supposed to be patriotic. Furious at "insourcing". He is the president of the USA after all. We aren't supposed to expect him to shine his benevolent, leader-of-the-free-world grace upon us. We know the NSS drill-geostrategic, geoeconomic, geopolitical that are consistent of US foreign policy. We know he's been wary of the surge of India and China and our impact on US jobs. My homeland's just started seeing economic success and we don't really want to give that up. Yet we are all fans. We want this hero to be universal, unconstrained by national jurisdiction and commitments and a house divided. Why does he feel like "our guy"? Cause he quotes Nehru and the Mahatma? Cause he spent some time in Indonesia as a kid and his sister's half-Indonesian? Cause he's brown? Cause he's a realisation of the American dream? Wait a second, why do we have an American dream? Let's skip that. We all still measure success in dollars and we can't really help it. We like the American political system, we followed Obama's election more closely than Dr. Singh's. We know Joe Biden better than our own vice-president, what's his name? Her name? (Shri M. Hamid Ansari, thank you, Google) Let's face it. Indian politics is a mess and it's uncool. Why, even American politics wasn't as glam when Bush was around. Obama brought his charm, his oratorical skills, his ideals and wife and made us dream in red, white and blue again. Can we help it? We're only human.

I'm still a fan, still want a hero and am still not about to let go of the voice that enriched my thought process through 'Dreams From My Father', the opinions that aided my answer papers in college. So let me have my illusions a little while longer. Let me imagine this American leader belongs to all of us and we can all catch a bit of stardust.

Sunday, October 24, 2010


No, I'm not at the dentist's. That is just mine and Numbi Jim's (and probably a lot of you out there) way of expressing outmost internal chaos/excitement/adrenalineness. I will be using the emotion a lot in the following text so those prone to incurable irritability and other disorders, reading is not recommended:

So much has been happening, so please excuse me for not writing. While most of it must be academic/freelance work-related/a consequence of October birthdays, I think my reluctance or laziness to write has been primarily because of much too much self-analysis, life lessons and policy formulation. I've been wondering how much of all these fragmented thoughts are worth documenting and how much of it is embarrassing/silly/unoriginal but hey, this blog's seen worse. And I am just post-recovery of 'Eat Pray Love' (Aaaaaah! the book! the book! ONLY the book!) and I feel like giving Elizabeth Gilbert a huge hug for being who she is and talking the way she does. (These days I seem to be finding a lot of female role models and sources of inspiration) So let me freewheel here.

K is gonna be here! Here! Aaaaaaaah! Okay, in two months and for barely ten days but still! I am so proud of that crazy smart savvy loony who's ruling London city while being so true to himself. I can't believe it's going to be almost one and a half years since I saw him, kicked him and laughed till I cried with him last. I am a bit worried that things could have changed. But like someone said, (I think it was Meenakshi Reddy Madhavan in 'You Are Here'), if everyone changes at the same time then somehow everything will stay the same. You know? We do our little turns simultaneously and end up at 360. Hopefully. We all love that old friend who knows us so scarily well-the shiny, the beige and the hideously fluorescent yellow. We crave their company for understanding without explanations. And yet, we want to show them our newness, to comment on our new wardrobe additions, our new analyses of life and growing up, our new crushes (which are ohhhh-so-different from our old ones. Note: Being sarcastic here). We want them to say those same old phrases in these completely new situations. Maybe we should just ditch the cardboard cutout we've been carrying around in their absence and welcome a new friend whom you have the privilege of not needing to impress.

So, that's been on my mind for quite some time. Sometimes it's easier to deal with the cardboard cutouts. They say what you want them to say. And they're always by your side on the long lonely drives.

Aaaaaaaah! Scratch that! I want the real thing!

But have I changed a lot in the past year? I've gone back to my childhood self-dependency. I've unexpectedly found a group of seriously talented, intelligent and unabashedly childlike funny girls at school. I've become more participatory (that's the best way I can describe it). I've learnt old lessons in a more permanent form. And I think I'm finally learning that trying to achieve a daily state of jubilation is not as helpful as a good dose of calmness.

Anyway, back to reality: let's talk about 'Ugly Betty'. (see how real I can get?). The series finale just aired here today. And I am finding it so hard to let go of Betty, Marc, Amanda, Hilda, etc. Even though it ended so hurriedly and unjustifiably. Aaaaaaaa(rg)h.

As my dear friend V said, I tend to blog during my exams. Unfortunately that's the case. I guess I have a persecution complex. I don't mean in the real sense. I just tend to get down to things when I'm pursued. In this case, the looming reality of exams beginning on Wednesday. Yes, this sem is almost done (and then I have only one more! Aaaaaaaah!) and I will have to bid farewell to two of my most favourite subjects in this course: American Foreign Policy (Sniff. Nixon) and Ethnicity, Culture and International Relations (Identity crises. Just what I love) My postponement from the real world is ending and a draft notice has been sent. But somehow, I'm less paranoid than last time. Despite my favourite stationery store's owner questioning me about lack of commitment to advertising (or anything in particular) while I indulged myself in some Reynold's 045 pens (they are seriously awesome. Especially the purple one). I hope none of my teachers, friends' parents, future spouses (spice?) and employers (I think it should be in reverse order) are reading this. In my defense, I need more time. I am quite a Jill of a Few Trades now. I know that I can be quite a workaholic but the problem is, I can be a workaholic in something I'm not even passionate about. So I don't want to cheat myself. Nevertheless, let us wait till April till we open this particular can of worms. Allow me my second teenagehood-where TV shows ending are the biggest tragedies.


Wednesday, September 15, 2010


I have a new addiction. No, don't be misled by the above picture (that's a weakness, not an addiction) And unlike my last year's fix (*cough cough* people.com), this one doesn't make me ashamed to declare it.

It's Garance Doré!

Maybe I'm one of the last people to catch up on this deliciously delightful photoblogger but over the past few days, I've been hooked to her stunning pictures of amazing people, bright as sunshine writing and generally fabulous vibe.

Forget that I am in the throes of wrestling with my dissertation proposal, a couple of tons of freelance work, myriad college stuff and haven't seen the gym in three days (I need my cardio fix!) Forget that the girls Garance captures through her covetable lenseye are uniformly lithe and of the sparkling skin, vivid hair variety. Forget that I need a midnight bath. Forget that she's in Australia, Paris, London, Corsica (Corsica! New place on destination wishlist). Forget that I am in my minuscle computer room, listening to the mind-numbing 'Stop' by Black Rebel Motorcycle Club and struggling with the adorable paperclip that Belle got me from the U.S. It's shaped like a thumbs-up but it doesn't exactly hold together my Yahia H.Zoubir's article on the stalemate in Western Sahara.

I just mentioned Middle East Policy Journal and Garance Doré in the same paragraph. That's probably a first.

So, what I'm trying to say is that as of this week I have learnt that even if you think you're drowning, laugh like a maniac and admire the pretty scales of fish. Chances are you'll stay afloat, swimming slowly but surely to the shore. And you would have contributed one less negative vibe to the Universe.

Too new-agey? Sorry, I'm reading 'The Power'.

So, thanks to Garance, I am going to resume proper picture taking and living life outside the little boxes of my to do list. There's no bigger thrill right now than drawing thick black tick marks next to each item but the weeks are just flying by and I should be giving out more hugs, bursting forth with more laughs and indulging in some good TV.

Which is why I took a break and watched what I could of the VMA's.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

I have climbed highest mountains

I am strangely sensitive to religion because it's so personal to other people. Is that a strange reason to tiptoe around it, not wanting to choose, not wanting to succumb, taking in a bit of everything and not committing?
I am extremely spiritual. But I don't like talking about God and my relationship with him. It's only reserved for a few people, for a few midnight texting conversations and for those silent, awe-inspiring moments that life passes along.
Today I felt the need for the wide openness of a church, for reassurance. I got to go to a cathedral. I felt moved and satisfied. Fate then took me to a Jain temple. It was beautiful beyond words. Finally, a Hindu temple. As familiar as they are, Hindu temples are ever-intriguing, full of drama and sacred mystery.
I got into the car and put my music phone on shuffle: 'I still haven't found what I'm looking for' by U2 began playing.
You can't find it. You have to actively seek it. . You have to renew it. You have to let you go.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010


The movie with the slick posters featuring an extremely glammed up star cast was pretty tempting. Amit Trivedi's music, Sonam Kapoor's face, high fashion, promises of yet another 'new' urban India film and of course, the casually adorable Abhay Deol. I went and saw. And here are is my unprofessional opinion. Spoilers alert.

The movie begins promisingly with visuals of Sonam Kapoor zipping around Delhi in a sunshine-yellow car to the soundtrack of 'By the Way', a highly girl power song which can be the therapy song du jour. The narrative picks up but relies on the convenience of voice over introductions of everyone. But, never mind, the graphics and the characters are cutesy. We watch on. First sign of trouble: the wastage of hilarious Cyrus Sahukar and his unfunny wedding toast.

The story, or should I say biography begins. Aisha is a 'matchmaker' (the only match to her credit seems to be that of her aunt and a Colonel or Major who happens to be their neighbour also?) with an enviable Chanel, Marc Jacobs lined wardrobe. The song 'Sunoh Aisha' seems to enrapture us with Amit Trivedi's breathy voice extolling the heroine's mystique. Unfortunately, the song is wasted as although Sonam Kapoor's Aisha is beautiful (and breathtakingly so), she comes across annoying, slow-witted, immature and as Abhay Deol's Arjun rightly puts it: shallow. One thing I know about movies is that the lead is supposed to be likable. And nobody in the audience that I shared this movie liked Aisha.

Sure, I appreciate the film for its intents and purposes. Matchmaking transported from Jane Austen's aristocratic England to high society Delhi. India's first completely fashion-forward film. Urban India dialogues and slices of life. However, the screenplay adapts Jane Austen's characters a little too strictly when it comes to caricatures like Shefali and Randhir (but the actors manage to shine through it all), while missing out entirely on the substance in Aisha-Arjun's romance. Some scenes are nicely written, funny too (Shefali and Randhir's walk in oblivion, for example). Some do succeed in being cute: Aisha's father's pep talk, Abhay Deol's balcony climbing confession-but these are probably only because I'm a girl.

And speaking of which! I was dismayed to read Sudhish Kamath's review (that's a first, being dismayed I mean) where he said that the girls' equivalent to 'Dil Chahta Hai' had arrived, ten years late. I am sorry but montages of shopping and comfort food indulgence after heartbreak do not a female coming-of-age story make. Like I said, that's something I still have to write. Chick flick as this film is, it was as much painful for me as it was for the teenage boys I overheard in the popcorn line ("Worst. Movie. Ever"). The only part where my feminity counted for my bias (apart from the scenes mentioned) was in taking serious note of the outfits and delighting to see a different size lead actress for a change. I love Sonam Kapoor anyway, right now. So I forgive her for this movie. While we're speaking of love, let's just say that Abhay Deol brought the perfect man to life, if he isn't that already. :)

The (anti) climax scene of Aisha's confession, albeit an interesting twist, was much much funnier in 'I Hate Luv Storys'. But I don't get these movies where the lead characters hate each other or annoy each other and only later discover that they are meant to be. Does that really happen in real life beyond fifth standard?

Oh and the highlight of the movie was this bunch of Punjabi boys sitting way upfront and tossing popcorn, straws and counter dialogues throughout the movie. In the end when 'Gal teri mithi mithi' began to play, they jumped up and began to dance in the aisles. This is something I have only heard and dreamed of, never seen even in a Tamil movie, leave alone seeing Punjabi men do this in my local theatre in Chennai. They took it to the next level by jumping up on the platform in front of the screen, a row of leg kicking, arm waving silhouettes while the credits rolled. At the end of it all, they bowed to a rousing applause. They made the movie so worthwhile.

The beautiful moment was slightly ruined when the bunch remembered that they had misplaced their bike helmets.

And a sigh of relief can be breathed

Exams are done. For the moment. Okay, they were hardly exams but considering the last minute chaotic cramming that took place, their presence is not missed. Hence for that reason they have been accorded exam status. It's sad because thanks to the little studying I did, I learnt that the subjects this sem are pretty interesting and deserve more attention. Oh except for three out of six. Nevertheless, I shall study a little everyday and read up and become more worldy-wise. Let's see.
And life begins again. Not that it was much interrupted. I worked out more during exams than I do normally. I watched a movie in the theatre (review to follow shortly) after a surprisingly long gap of three weeks. I emailed a lot. I worked quite a bit. And I didn't sleep.
Which brings me back to my suddenly hectic life. I'm thoroughly enjoying the smoothly chaotic flow and the prospects of productivity it's bringing. For the first time, I'm saying yes more and postponing thinking-in the best possible sense of the term. And my recent quest for a cause seems to be fulfilled as I'm attending a social-political awareness workshop this weekend. Trepidation is normally my characteristic feeling before commiting to any single thing but this time I'm practising to STOP STRESSING ABOUT THE POSSIBILITY OF STRESS.
Flow and not resist.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Even small fish in small ponds have to swim fast

The past few days (and next few more) have been a flurry of activities and also thoughts about activities. I love my life like this. No time to breathe or think. But I think it's time I put sleep back on the priority list. The lack of it does me no good in Entrepreneurial Development class.

One sigh of relief can be breathed: the 'Fresher's Party' is over and successful (my definition: people participated, got entertained and were fed. Oh we were within budget! I'm not such a hopeless accountant after all). The song went fine and in the video, I don't look as clowny as I thought I did and don't sound toooo terribly awful, if I say so myself. My first duty as Class Rep is done and all thanks to improvisations and makeshift arrangements by my fellow, er, fellows. A big shout out to all 26 of you. I really love you all.

Next. Very enthusiastically, my hand shot up in the air last week for more assignments than I remember. So, tomorrow I will be doing a presentation on US dominance and Revolution in Military Affairs. And though I'm having to sort through a MOUNTAIN of information, I'm actually enjoying it. I always did like talk of power. Word of the day: psychotechnology.
As if that weren't enough, my thirst for movies doesn't abate during times of hecticness. Watched 'A Serious Man' last night. At first, my reaction was of extreme discomfort (I loved the beginning bit with the Polish couple and the dybukk) because I dislike watching central characters have their lives fall apart as they watch on helpless (personal fears about lack of assertiveness, maybe?) I began to appreciate the story's progression, the dark humour (especially the Rabbis) and just when I got hooked back into the film, the end completely repulsed me. I guess I'm still looking for the next 'Inception' (it's been less than a week; must be patient) to blow me away.
Yeah, so I'm going to see 'Udaan' today. An Anurag Kashyap production, it's earning rave reviews. Bunny wants to see it bad. And well, it's a coming of age story. But hello! All coming of age stories are about boys. The only one that I've seen featuring a female lead was 'Thirteen'. And I didn't come of age that way so erm, not so relateable. Guess I'm going to have to make my own ode to the girls of Generation X. Before we grow so old that I forget.

And also! It's Jhinker's birthday tomorrow (we're one month apart) and I have to do something special. Instead, I was highly crabby (had a sore throat and sleep deprivation) with her on the phone last night and I feel horrible about it. God, please make me a better human being. Atleast for tomorrow.

And lastly, the picture above is dedicated to all the illustrious members of the Therapy playlist on my iTunes. In particular, Bif Naked ('Rich and Filthy'), Scissor Sisters ('Take Your Mama Out'), Coldplay ('Life in Technicolour II'), The Belle Stars ('Iko Iko' from 'The Hangover' soundtrack), good old JT ('LoveStoned/I Think She Knows') and of course, Beck ('Loser' and for just being Beck).

Because you get me through. Because you make me happy.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Raavan/Raavanan: Life after expectation

Raavan and Raavanan have released and almost left the theatres. As I have mentioned earlier, I had been waiting and waiting (AND WAITING) for this epic movie to be released for numerous reasons:
1. It's a reinterpretation of the Ramayan, my preferred choice of the great Indian epic.
2. It brings to the forefront the intriguing character of Raavan, the good bad guy
3. It's about the possibility of love between Raavan and Sita (ah, forbidden love! DO NOT mention anything about Stockholm syndrome)
4. Abhishek Bachchan as a half maniacal, half brooding Raavan. Exciting. Oh yeah, and Vikram as Raavanan.
5. A. R.Rahman's music.
6. Santhosh Sivan cinematography of misty Karnataka forests and waterfalls
7. Mani Ratnam: the director

Well, I went and actually bought the audio CD and feverishly absorbed all that my eyes and ears could find of this bilingual film. I jumped at the opportunity when my equally excited cinematographer friend scored us some tickets with a big bunch going to a charity show which was a sort of public but not so public premiere. I was going to see Raavan before anybody else! (the Bachchans don't count)

I settled down in the second row from the screen, corner seat, absolutely silent, wanting to absorb this movie to my bones. I have certain movie-watching quirks. 1. I cannot miss the beginning of any movie, no matter how sad, whether it's 'White Chicks' or a Karan Johar movie. Whether I know what happens or not. If I miss a minute, I feel heartbroken. If I miss it on TV, I can't even watch it. 2. I kinda know whether I'm going to like a movie within the first minute or so.

And that's when my illusions started to dissolve, little by little. The beginning of Raavan is a montage of scenes, my favourite being the one where Abhishek Bachchan plays the dhol. Music and percussion-based folk music speaks strongly to me and I suppose this scene was meant to be indicative of Raavan's multiple facets. It was also supposed to hint at his power. But I didn't feel it, you know what I mean?

Next. 'Beera', the power song, which exalts and extols the great Beera, unique and formidable. Maybe we get to see Beera in action, the saviour of the downtrodden, the enemy to the elite? No. The song is wasted as an accompanying track to the opening credits.
The story begins too soon, too abruptly. The characters are half-sketched and their dialogue so un Mani Ratnam like, neither clever nor touching. The saddest is Govinda's character being reduced to an amusing forest officer whose purpose in the entire movie is nothing more than serving as an allusion to the actual Hanuman.

Anyway, I watched on, a little biased because it's hard to give up something you love so much.

Other sore points:
'Behene De', my former addiction came too soon and flowed away, just like its name.
Chemistry between AB Jr and his wife was hardly anything to qualify this movie for being of the romance genre.
Raavan did not come across as a powerful godfather and neither did there exist any ideological face off between him and Ram.
Ram, played by Vikram is basically a rotten guy without any redeeming features. Raavan is a psychotic, indecisive, torturing angel seeking revenge for a gory outrage but doesn't even carry it out?

Atleast one thing was that AB Jr danced well in 'Thok de Kili'. Maybe he just looks like the right Raavan with scruffy beard and long lean frame. The black shawl becomes him but the character's interpretation unfortunately does not. I feel so bad for the Abhishek of 'Guru'.

So, I was disappointed but not disgusted. My stubborn bias remained. Then, almost a month later, I saw 'Raavanan'. Much as Hindi is mostly my second language and I couldn't really follow the rural slang of the Tamil version, I was absolutely blown away.

Maybe it's because it's Mani Ratnam's first language. Maybe it was the editing that was better. But it definitely was Vikram. The man didn't act, he brought life to the two dimensional paper cutout that Raavan is reduced to at Ramlila and other occasions. Maybe he didn't portray the ten headed aspect that Raavan is meant to have but it was much easier to deal with that AB Jr's split personalities. Raavanan is a man tortured, his emotions evident but understated, his love and attraction clearly coming forth but exquisitely restrained through blunt speech. He is an unbelievable actor, absolutely lovable and cool and rugged and totally messed up in absolutely the perfect way. I'm sorry that I hadn't expected more from Raavanan. The dialogue, particularly to the end, is a lot more beautiful and poetic in Tamil.

The chemistry between Vikram and Mrs. Rai Bachchan is explosive, surprisingly. The love story is simply gorgeous but ridiculously unexplored. Maybe the whole point was to not change the story of Ramayan but to make ourselves question what could have been.

The crux of the film is the dilemna of good verus evil, the question of the grey areas. But it falls flat by describing our so called hero as outright evil and the anti hero as a sort of martyr for emotions. So, I stand, a little disappointed but a lot relieved about the fact that I was pleasantly surprised in atleast some aspects. But nevertheless, I will not cease to expect more from Mani Ratnam.

Take me, I'm your leader

Mass conspiracies are doomed to backfire. Why? The masses seldom cooperate so uniformly that the master plan comes into effect. Case in point: my unexpected election as class representative of what could be my final year in school.
The plan was thus: force the two least school spirited candidates into authority, a role that no one else wanted. This is where collaboration worked. We cheered and with a show of hands deemed our two saviours the class rep and assistant class rep. I was part of this spectacle, I must admit. I even suggested an unofficial swearing-in ceremony. This event did not take place but had it taken place, things might have been different.
Little did I realise that a reverse coup was in the formative stage. The official Union reps came around to conduct the election and our candidate for assistant class rep quietly backed out. I had ready objections in place but they were drowned out by the former regime's insistence in my capabilities. Silenced by the former president (whom I respect immensely), I prepared to engineer a little revolt. I encouraged vote manipulation around me. But nevertheless, it failed. I am thus, the new class rep.

Perhaps in my heart I still felt loyal to my old college. Protective of my identity as a graduate of the supposed # 1 college in India, protective of the seemingly less restrictive student life I enjoyed then, possessive of the 'coolest' course I could find in Madras city. I don't know. I had been feeling reluctant to let go, despite it being a year since graduation.

Today was the investiture ceremony. My new college takes these things seriously. Class reps get a badge (at my previous college, all you got was a million responsibilities such as organising major media events, loss of sleep and perhaps some clout with the heavyweight that is the Union). My co-rep and I chuckled to ourselves about our own cluelessness (we had missed the class rep orientation and quite a few other announcements) but were kindly guided to our seats and roles by the responsible others. It's going okay.

I'm not a bad class rep. I love running up and down the stairs to pass on messages. It's a welcome distraction. I always did stand up on the chair to fix the projector screen (seeing as I'm the tallest in class). I cart around equipment. I get photocopies. My own notes get photocopied. And it's not like I have to do all that much. The previous rep is incredibly helpful and so is my assistant. The profs are great. The class is supportive and I'm growing to love each one of these girls. They are so my type. Girls but so ungirly, which was one thing I'd dreaded leaving a mostly all-boys college. Most of all, this is the first time I've encountered such a large bunch of class clowns in one year.

I may not learn the words to the college song (sung every Tuesday) but I can pretend to mouth them. I still resolutely refuse to wear sari (which most proud students do at any given occasion) but I can oblige with a dupatta over my kurta and jeans. (Oh wait, scratch that. It's way too hot).I think the point of this whole unexpected duty was to create a bond between the college and I.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Besant Nagar Bond-age

I am a small-time adventurer. My favourite pastime may be making destination lists with my college benchmates (who squint at me for adding Mongolia to the list). I collect pictures of Tunisia's blue and white architecture. I dwell in Oran/Marseille through my ears. I envision Thai beaches ever so often, especially after viewing and listening to Laya Project.
But since I AS OF NOW bound by time, space, resource and societal constrictions, I make a break for it whenever and however I can. Owing to limited travel opportunities, I tended to crave for a more accessible utopia. I found this in the form of Besant Nagar and its beach.
For non-Chennaiites, Besant Nagar is a posh, sea-bordering area in the South of Chennai. Its beach is clean (thanks to several initiatives such as ROB-Reclaim Our Beaches), it has restaurants a plenty and it is somehow so much more tempting and happening and inviting than dear old Marina. Sorry, Marina. Maybe it's just 'cause you're too familiar.
During the week, I had begun this ruse of scaring my mother by threatening to drive off to Besant Nagar while in the midst of errands. I was in desperate need of a long drive, now that I have reconciled to the fact that if I want my long drive I must do it myself. I was so in the mood and this less-explored destination was calling out to me. Little did I know how these teasing words of mine would cause life itself to play a little trick on me...
Saturday was declared Besant Nagar day. A friend was to perform in a concert at hip venue known as Spaces, bang opposite the beach. Benchmates designated me as the driver of the evening and a plan was quickly formed. A plan surprisingly long overdue seeing as we've never hung out besides going straight somewhere before or after college.
Friday came. Bored and restless, I kidnapped Jhinks and Mum and we set off somewhere, anywhere. Guess where we headed? Down the Marina beach road, past the fishermen's nets, random goats (so many goats), annoying number of speedbreakers and numerous rowdy drivers. And we ended up guess where? We also ate at this pirate-themed restaurant.
Saturday. Long drive. First time to Besant Nagar in the daytime. We waited till our friend finished performing and ran across to the beach, me literally running like the world was after me, sand sinking under my black Converse style shoes, legs leaping, feeling so free, while 'Free fallin' by John Mayer played on my phone in my pocket.
Sunday. Mothers' cool friends, Jhinks and I. Total ladies evening. We went shopping to Madras Terrace House, this uber-cool kitschy Madras culture type boutique/cafe/art exhibition centre. We're a philosophical bunch, ever ready to toast to newness and rebirth and we were high on that feeling. Guess where I took us? This time we actually sat on the beach wall. They ate kulfi, Jhinks and I talked about boys and girls and unbeachy, unliberating things so much in contrast to the salt-soaked air. The crowd was immense but somehow I didn't mind. But I felt restless. Tired. Feet aching though all I'd been doing was alternating foot from pedal to pedal. I wanted to close my eyes. I guess my saturation had taken place.Getting back to the North was all I wanted to do.
I will go back. I will run more on the beach and I will play frisbee or shoot balloons or fly a kite (oh wait that's no longer allowed). But I will no longer yearn to do so.
And for that freedom from yearning that I am eternally grateful to the universal forces that conspire around me.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Familiar Stranger

There is something to be said about learning to tolerate your own company. I'm one of those not sooo social people (oft called self-absorbed by PEOPLE WHO DON'T KNOW WHAT THE TERM MEANS. You know who you are, K). I guess you could say being an only child I'm not so influenced or dependent on other people for entertainment. Of course, as with everything else I've learnt in 22 years, life makes you contradict yourself. Repeatedly. Case in point: I tend to avoid clubs/pubs/excessive smoke-filled and claustrophobic spaces. My idea of socialising involves a long drive, conversation and excessive laughter. But 3 days after my birthday? I found myself totally sober, dancing like a maniac (I LOVE to dance) with my undergrad buddies in a packed disco. My eyes closed, an imaginary spotlight on my head and a sense of absolute abandonment. Innocent, spontaneous fun. Of course, Sean Kingston helped.

So, when I used to say I love being alone and self-sufficient, it was ironic because secretly I envied huge families especially those with many siblings ( I always always wanted a big brother and my dream came true in the form of this amaaaazzziiing human being whom I call Bunny. The fact that he now has a girlfriend, Sunshine whom I absolutely adore makes my own constructed family picture complete) I basically came to the conclusion that you shouldn't say you hate something or someone because you will end up doing exactly that with exactly them. Life is unpredictable and beautifully so.

Well, anyway, recently I was put to the test. I have become addicted to human company thanks to my delightfully demanding friends. I felt as if I would drown in my own thoughts if left alone for a second. But I was put in a situation where my friends all went home and I was supposed to wait for my Mum at a certain shop. Sleep-deprived and wandering mind, it was just me and my car in a parking lot.

The thoughts came, like arrows from different directions but I stayed put. My music was in my ears, soothing me into the semi-conscious delirium that I know so well. But my mind was still awake, valiant against the onslaught of self-doubt, unfulfilled yesterdays and uncertain tomorrows. The window was down, I was alone ( a girl!) in an unknown place. But I didn't care.

Khaled's voice soared like the only way Khaled's ('Hada Raykoum') voice can. I listened. I focused on the outlines of an olive green plant reaching toward the bland, colourless sky. I focused on that sky, so unyielding, impenetrable, that mute witness. I fell asleep, arms folded, seat kicked back, regardless of the world.

In between the contradictions, in betweent the extremities, I meet myself, an ever-changing familiar stranger. Someone I don't know very well and I don't think I'll ever know. Someone I can fall in love with intensely and immensely and someone I could completely abandon if I found someone else.

And after years of pushing and pulling, struggles beneath the skin, I have finally encountered someone I can tolerate. Someone I can live with.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Digression Session

As usual, my utterly brilliant thoughts and philosophies drift through the windows of my mind in the five seconds before sleep or the five seconds before the red light changes to green.
It's not that I have become uncreative or suffer from lack of information. My academic pursuits stress on newspaper reading (even if, currently that is restricted to reading Klose's statement about Villa or the latest Sudhish Kamath movie review-always an addiction) and more. I suppose the inner rebel in me baulks at any compulsory reading right now. (this phase probably explains why I end up reading sodium content on the back of Hippo Chips packets and why EAT HIPPO, NO FIGHT. All this and I don't even eat or like chips.)

Bad, bad attitude since that's most certainly not gonna help me through the last and maybe final year of school. Ever.

In all seriousness, I did read a really really good book recently. Less of a book, more of a reliving. It was Wangari Maathai's 'Unbowed', and it has like a lot of other autobiographies, become an inspiration to me. Her immense strength of character and unyielding spirit that enabled her to take on the entire Kenyan government is amazing to read about. Makes me think about how insignificant my own inner ghosts are and how much easier to override. Such a long, long way to go.

Anyway, I digress (just read an email forward on age-related attention deficit disorder which sounded disturbingly familiar). The purpose of this post is to reminisce about my fruitful youth. Ah, the days of totally incomprehensible physics classes where I would sit in the backbench, sketching storyboards and scribbling 'movie' scripts, writing songs for 'musicals' starring my own imaginary star cast (this is the origin of Kingdom of Estarra. More on that later). This was the creative explosion. Years of guitar classes, nights of songwriting (my guitar, Dominic still bears the pen marks), 2 am story inspirations. (I actually miss school days where I could hate the subject and thus, rebel in my own geeky way. What I've been studying since have been purely my decisions and hence I have no choice but to like it. Aargh, the tragedy of getting what you want in life...)

In college, I got lazy. My friends and their lives were highly inspiring in terms of story fodder but I somehow couldn't translate that into fictitional material. What a waste. My only expression was when first-year-college-turbulence showed up in the form of poetry. And that remains my saving grace when it comes to writing even now. Scribbles on the back of my Entrepreneurial Development or Globalisation notebooks (but never EVER during Ethnicity, Culture and IR) . Poetic license abused to the nth point. Romantic, free-flowing verse inspired by the evening (usually cloudy) sky, the fluorescent green, erm, greenery outside. No John Mayer lyrics coming to mind, nothing interesting to sketch. Twenty boring minutes to the bell.

The point of this rambling (yes, there is one!) is an official declaration of my commitment to writerhood. No, not as a recreational activity on this blog during internship (blogging has always been a staple feature of all my internships since they have all been desk-bound) This is the statement: I'm going back to my creativity-fueled fourteen year old self (and only THAT aspect of my fourteen year old self) because creation is the only proof of existence. Truly. And thought-generation doesn't really count. What's the use of these great, fabulous ( I'm assuming) thoughts if they're withering away in the recesses of my mind?

And by writing, I mean consistency. Not this two voluble blog posts in one night thing. Steadfastedness. Regimenal. Creative cardio.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Talk to me!

I recently learnt that I have absolutely SO MUCH to say. My dear friend Jhinks tells me "Talk to me. I want to know about YOU" (and this is saying something. We've been really really close friends for the past 12 years). But by the time I get to the phone, it's silence on my end. I simply recycle old conversations, old pre-concluded ideas. What am I afraid of? Not making sense? Improper sentence construction? Bombing on the punch line?
So that's when I started to realise. That I'm most comfortable with a pen in my hand, a keypad beneath my fingers or a keyboard staring invitingly up at me. But that's not good. I love people. I love the energy that is diffused in the process of human conversation. Hands waving, eyes lighting up, sharing of ideas, using words, words, words. I love words. I know words. The written word is my weapon and unfortunately also my crutch.
During my internship, I met the most fabulous people. People who truly communicate, both with soul and word. My work guide (the coolest mentor in the world, I absolutely adore her) is one person who astounds me with her sheer gift of communicating exactly what I've been feeling for ages. When she talks about world music ('music of the world' as she says, is a better term), I can't help but simply bob my head up and down, eyes round with excitement because I'm in absolute agreement with what she says. The people here are honest and spontaneous. I've never felt so refreshed in a conversation.

I wondered what made me switch to listener mode. Is it my role as love counsellor? Is it my fear of appearing ignorant? The only person who I am the biggest chatterbox is with my mother. And with her, I'm exactly whom I find it difficult to be with: a self-absorbed, non-listening, dominating monologuist (is there a word?) But even then, I am not completely honest. The mental screening still takes place. The opaque bubble is soundproof.Fear of judgement, fear of appearing weak or flawed. Fear of trusting? Fear of revelation, of being exposed to reveal less than I believe I am composed of.

Ah, the futility of fear.

Enough! Conclusion: I'm going to practise the art of conversation. And that means not keeping my phone on silent, not shutting up when group members exceed beyond 2 and basically.....

being myself. The most cliched and yet the most fundamental aspect of being human.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Amarte es igual que jugar ruleta rusa (Irrelevant. Just words from the song I'm listening to)

I miss Spanish. I know I can study on my own, seek out Spanish books, learn a word a day, revise my verbs and hello, read my Spanish copy of Paulo Coelho's 'Brida'. BUT I miss Spanish as the Spanish that is easier to FEEL in. I miss Spanish as the language that I wrote my first ever full-fledged song in. I miss Spanish and alongwith my discovery of the Latino explosion, not as limited English popsters but as genuine pop-rock phenomenons back in Spain and Colombia (I don't have to mention who I am talking about, EI and S). I miss Spanish as I miss ninth standard. I miss ticklingly chilly Madras winter on long drives to Kotturpuram as the same album played on repeat for months. I miss 'Quizas' by Enrique Iglesias. It's on my iTunes now. But I miss the context I first listened to it in. I miss the freshness of discovery, the thrill of learning, so much unlike the relative monotony of revision. I miss my Peruvian Spanish teacher, our initial limited conversations as he helped negotiate my first steps into the language that I was already so in love with and the language that would become so close to my heart.

I am not brilliant at Spanish. I don't even know what level I am at. And months of non use have probably rendered my tenses rusty. But when Juanes, Enrique, Shakira, Antonio Banderas, Alejandro Sanz and Marc Antony speak to me, something happens. I am at once familiar and immediately far away. A fourteen year old whose world changed just because she had a language to speak to herself in, to communicate those feelings that English so restricted.

Siempre digo que ingles es la lengua en que yo puedo pensar y hablar pero es español que es la lengua en que yo puedo sentir, la lengua de mi corazón.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Friday, June 11, 2010

Rain does its 180

The city that was edgy (sorry, understatement), bursting at the seams and ready to bite is now tamed after a nice bath. The survival instinct that rises to the surface when we are confronted with the sun's blade is now pacified, receding to the corner where it deserves to be. You now feel like living and not barely surviving. Being and not having to be. I'm ready to look at strangers' faces, glareless. I'm able tolerate the not-so-favoured tracks on my iPod when on shuffle. I'm capable of smiling a lot more.
Life is better when it's wetter, atleast in this corner of the globe. Peace descends as there's a lot less to complain about it. And whatever there is to complain about, erm, well, I don't quite remember it.
And this is one of the reasons my birth month ROCKS.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

And Happy Saturday to You Too

Today I am much better reconciled to life. My life. Perhaps it is because it is Saturday: less of man and machine on the road (the city even looks cleaner!), the thought of one and a half days of weekend stretch before me temptingly, the thought of hanging out with an ancient (in terms of friendship length) 'friend'/almost sister/partner in self-deprecating hilarity Jhinkers for lunch. Perhaps it's because I did make an effort and dressed better (be proud, K!), albeit a little A/W 2009 than sweltering-still-feels-like-May-Madras. But ha! Guess what? It rained (or drizzled. I was asleep) last night and I woke up to cloud cover on this glorious, glorious day. Not that that helps the heat, but it sure helps my mood. Anyway, my amaaaaziiiing (seriously, it's like my dream workplace/industry: world music but that's not the only reason I adore it..looong list) internship office is air conditioned and brightly coloured. So with thoughts of the above image in mind (courtesy:365tweexcore.tumblr.com I think) I am reconciled to my life. And I wish you all the love and colour in the world.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Sunglasses Don't Help

Oh ever so inspired. Browsing through blogs of pastel colours, fading afternoon light, summer dresses, street fashion and quotes from songs, I am in such a mood to take photographs. Alas, the world on my screen does not replicate itself outside my window. Memories of my morning brush with reality cause me to shudder. Traffic was stationary, unrelenting and cacophonous. The stable (the politest word I can think of) wheazhherr we are 'aaving is as soothing and pleasant as watching your face melt into pools of hot wax and needing a bath right after you've had your third can be. My former affection for mankind and its associated decision to embrace all humanity lies forgotten in a dusty drawer of my mind, abandoned because my contact with fellow traffic-goers is reduced to angry glares (caused more due to blinding sunlight rather than emotion) and short bursts of honking. It's Madras, as my mother says, you NEED to honk a lot.

Anyway, much as I love the city-town of my birth, I have to accept its ugliness. Its acne scars, its bald patch, its chapped, bitten lips. I dream of meadows and inns by the sea (that movie 'Nights in Rodanthe' spoiled me.). It's not that I want a vacation (oh yes oh yes I do). It's more that I want some prettyness in my day. And my December interest in dressing up has deserted me (ah, alliteration). It's too hot to think up combinations. I stare at the wardrobe in my 9 am moodiness (8-11 am = least favourite time of the day) and pull out whatever is loosest, long-that-can-be-rolled-up-sleeved. Scrounging around for colour, I do try, but the above description takes precedence over colour and joy.

So I wear black (thank God my office is air-conditioned), pile on some beads (that were 'stolen' from K) almost as a compulsory tribute to K's fashion-ness and smile as I think of him and shuffle out. I reach the computer and then see what I see : http://thesartorialist.blogspot.com/. People seamlessly incorporating fashion into their day; people making an effort. But wait, what do they have that I don't (besides model physiques/figures that fit all kinds of clothes)? OH YEAH, NICE WEATHER.

It's okay, God. I deserve to whine. Almost 22 years of this climate and I see it getting worse. What with the population and the malls (oh come on, MORE malls!) and the cars and the malfunctioning traffic lights. I will be strong, oh God. Just grant me some all-expenses paid tickets and accomodation at a nice North American town by the sea.

Monday, May 17, 2010


Here's to a song that has not changed my life. A song that has not opened my eyes. A song that has not been an inspiration.

But a song that speaks to me because it is so much part of me.

I was probably in school when I heard it for the first time. This was much after its original recording. The singer's vocal adeptness and the passion in his voice captivated me (as it still does). I had no idea what he was singing about. I did not know French at the time. The song to me then was a getting-over-a-crush song, a moving-on-in-life song, an empowering yet understated musical experience in its compactness.
By coincidence, I saw a video by a Danish cross-cultural band named Outlandish (I love this band, more on that later). The same song, similar feeling. Isam Bachiri (I love this gentleman) sang in my language but that was not what hit me. Outlandish seemed to absorb the very same thing I did from the song.
First year of college. Naive and eccentric, I auditioned for my department's rock band. I didn't listen to the Red Hot Chilli Peppers. I listened to Algerian-French rai and other things no one had heard of or cared about. I was eighteen years old and yet to understand the relationship I share with music (a scale of upliftment, therapy and catharsis) but I knew honesty to myself even then. So I sang this song. I got in.

'Ragging' in the 'Fresher's Party'. My punishment was not all that humiliating. I was called to sing in front of 200-odd unfamiliar faces, unfriendly acquaintances, semi-friendly freshers, teachers and rowdy seniors. Same song. The noisy crowd grew silent and began to clap in time to the beat. People and later close friends would call me by the name of the song.

The song didn't change my life. It didn't bring my great tidings. I didn't enjoy the experience with the band, despite the fact that at the concert we sang a song with words I wrote. I didn't win a multi-million dollar singing deal with Barclay Records. I didn't go on some cross-cultural, multi-linguistic talent show and win fame and glory. But it brought me friends. It brought me a warm, fuzzy feeling. Of feeling that I could do something I loved and do it right. If only for once. If only forever.

The song is within me. It represents my...not love, love's too weak a word. My respectful adoration for music and one of the few times music rewarded me back. Music allowed me to sing this song, perfectly or imperfectly, but with all my heart and soul. As my best friend K says about me, "She sings the song as if she created it". But I sing it more as if it were created for me. And this, without knowing what a word of it meant. Now, with a deeper knowledge of French and a fresher, wisened but no less romantic perspective of life, my relationship with the song is renewed and yet remains ever alive, ever sweet. And my heart smiles ever the same way. When I hear those chords. When I hear the first two words. When I hear Khaled's voice soar.

Comme si j'n'existais pas/As if I don't exist
Elle est passee a côte de moi/She was passing by me
Sans un regard, Reine de Sabbat/With no regard, the Queen of Sheeba
J'ai dit, Aïcha, prends, tout est pour toi/I said, Aicha, take this, all of it is for you

Voici, les perles, les bijoux/Here, the pearls, the jewels,
Aussi, l'or autour de ton cou/Also the gold around your neck
Les fruits, bien murs au gout de miel/The fruits, well ripe with the taste of honey
Ma vie, Aïcha si tu m'aimes/And my life, Aïcha if you love me!

J'irai a ton souffle nous mene/I will go where your breath leads me,
Dans les pays d'ivoire et d'ebene/In the countries of ivory and ebony
J'effacerai tes larmes, tes peines/I will erase your tears, your sorrows
Rien n'est trop beau pour une si belle/Nothing is too beautifull for a girl so beautiful

Oooh ! Aïcha, Aïcha, ecoute-moi/Aïcha, Aïcha listen to me
Aïcha, Aïcha, t'en vas pas/Aïsha, Aïsha don't go
Aïcha, Aïcha, regarde-moi/Aïcha, Aïcha, look at me
Aïcha, Aïcha, reponds-moi/Aïcha, Aïcha, answer me

Je dirai les mots des poemes/I would say the words, the poems
Je jouerai les musiques du ciel/I would play the music of the sky
Je prendrai les rayons du soleil/I would take the rays of the sun
Pour eclairer tes yeux de reine/to light up your dreamy eyes

Oooh ! Aïcha, Aïcha, ecoute-moi/Aïcha, Aïcha, listen to me
Aïcha, Aïcha, t'en vas pas/Aïcha, Aïcha, don't go
Elle a dit, garde tes tresors/She said, "Keep your treasures.
Moi, je vaux mieux que tout ca/Me, I'm worth more than that.
Des barreaux forts, des barreaux meme en or/Bars are still bars even if made of gold.
Je veux les memes droits que toi/I want the same rights as you
Et du respect pour chaque jour/and respect for each day,
Moi je ne veux que de l'amour/Me, I want only love."

Nbrik Aïcha ou nmout allik/I want you, Aïcha and I love you to death
'Hhadi kisat hayaty oua habbi/You are master of my life and my love
Inti omri oua inti hayati/You are my years and my life
Tmanit niich maake ghir inti/I hope to live with you, only you

[Lyrics and Translation Courtesy: http://www.arabicmusictranslation.com/2007/05/cheb-khaled-aisha-aicha.html]

A pain I'm not so used to

Wisdom striking hard yet again. From the back corner of my mouth, it teaches me nothing. I become irritable, monosyllabic in speech and nihilistic.
Crocin-less, I wander in a state of indecision. Should I call it a day and go home, where a Crocin and a bed are waiting but where later yet another round of errands and engagements await? Or should I plod on at work, a mere intern but committed to ideals of responsibility and expected work hours (My boss is too nice and I feel ashamed to be so unhealthy) ?
Monday is not so blue and that is partly the cause of this limbo-ish behaviour. It's been a good day so far, my restless feet dancing but more or less planted on the ground beneath my desk. It's a good run and I don't want to jinx it.
Wait till 5, my mind tells me. You're such a hypochondriac.
Hey! That is so unfair. I have, in the past two weeks, had a sore throat and a series of back aches, the latter being a product of bad ergonomics (the doctor said so) and not imagination (as my father sometimes thinks so). My mind is fine. The discomfort is in my back and now my tooth. The pain is authentic. And irritating.
So go home, or stay and fight?

Sunday, May 16, 2010


Bursting at the seams! Gimme more, more, more! Life and within it, love, beauty, truth, freedom, colour, laughter, sunshine, rain, song, dance, word, sound, rhythm, stillness, exclamation marks! Let me dance on my imaginary stage, let me jive to the beat in my car, alone, in a sea of unknown vehicles and unknown passersby. Let me be. Let me not choose, let me have it all. Let me sing at the top of my lungs, let me smile at strangers, let me share in their family stories, let me adore them, let them adore me, let us play with children, let us give a ear to those older. Let me cry for you, let me save the world from my deskchair. Let me love my favourite song du jour and let yourself love it with me. Let me be all that I can be, let there be space in this jostling madness for all the me. Let me wander, let me be lost. Let me not worry about what's going to happen to me; let it happen anyway. Let me be young for as long as I like. Let me fall in love with you, then me, then you, then myself all over again. Let me stare at the mirror in wonder. Let me run, please! Let me free, free, free. Let me embrace this maddening and infuriating world in all its candy-coloured, sweltering and freezing, multi-sensory glory, let me grin with dazzling brightness, let me rival the sun. Let me explode before I implode.

Sunday, May 9, 2010


Waiting for Raavan. Getting lost in the genius of A. R. Rahman. He does it again. Seeps under your skin. Maybe there're more catchy tunes, more structured compositions but there is no musician who so consistently infuses his work with his soul and reaches out to your soul. Firstly, I need no more reasons to want to see Raavan: the Ramayan has always been my favourite epic, Raavan an intriguing character, Mani Ratnam possibly the greatest filmmaker of India and Abhishek Bachchan, one of the best actors making this character uniquely his own with passion and madness. As far as I can see. I am waiting with bated breath.

'Behene De', a song that has been on repeat for me for the past one week. It's painful to listen to, being a song of longing and agony but ever so addictive and ever so beautiful, layered and delicate, sung by Karthik (yay he's from the same school I went to). A love (?) song exactly the way I love it-intense and dramatic and somehow subtle in the passionate lyrics by Gulzar. 'Thok de Kili', reminiscent of my type of songs-'Barra Barra' and other angry electric guitar/percussion based numbers and of course, featuring one of my favourite singers-Sukhwinder Singh. Its poetry is pulsating. 'Kata Kata' has been compared to 'Rukmini' but where 'Rukmini' was teasing and cheeky to an extent, 'Kata Kata' is earthy and intriguing. I can almost see the dust rising from the drums being beat. 'Khili Re' is pretty, soft and feminine. Reminds one of 'In Lamhon Ke Daaman Mein'. I still have not listened to it fully and absorbedly. Simple love songs do not interest me. Particularly, when I have five other songs to digest yet! And 'Beera Beera', of course, a jolly ride of a song. Best thing to listen to in the morning on the way to wherever you are struggling to go in this blasting heat.

I am torn between wanting to watch the visuals (Mani Ratnam's poetry as always) and not because I am imagining (or not) the music a wholly different way. But, Abhishek Bachchan is stunningly scary and I am curious, curious, curious to see Vikram, Govinda (was that really Govinda) and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan essay the roles of these characters, these legends I have grown up imagining. The best part about the Ramayan is its fallible characters; they're Gods and they're human, so human with regrets, doubts, mistakes and imperfections. And I'm waiting to see but for now, content to listen.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Silent Hero

I'm normally very terrified of traffic cops, owing to past experiences where mild ignorances ended up being translated as trespasses of the law. However, I'm working on that. And yesterday, a rather ordinary incident changed my perception of these men in white and khaki.

The traffic was insane. I didn't mind, Khaled was singing into my ears. It was hot but I had my shades on and AC high. Cars were everywhere-left, right, back, front. Horns blaring, sun searing, confusion reigning supreme over the scene. Something was wrong with the traffic light and as usual, no one had a clue, so they were doing what we in India do best-race ahead at the expense of everyone else even if we have nowhere urgent to go to.

This traffic policeman was all by himself. In that debilitating, destablising sun. He had no Khaled or AC. All he had was this mess before him, around him. He was not sheltered by a comfortable cocoon perched high above the craziness. He was walking around, weaving around this cars, purposeful and ever-composed, as if the noise did not exist and collision was impossible. Me, I would've bolted or screamed my lungs out at these unruly inanimate personalities (Cars always seem that way to me. I cannot relate them to people controlling them from inside).

No, he was calm. With a wave of his hand and a nod of his head, he stopped one section and allowed the rest to zoom off. He didn't growl or wield his scary baton. He seemed to command the respect of me and my fellow travellers, soothing us all into patience, rare on an April afternoon in Chennai. The mess vanished, leaving a gloriously empty road ahead. Another wave of his hand, he deemed as free to pass. And so we did, slower and calmer. Our destinations could wait. It was all good.

Friday, April 23, 2010

A Letter to Time

Dear Time,

I've been meaning to write. Well, it's kinda your fault I couldn't. I've been thinking about you a lot lately. I guess I could've written rather than spent so much time thinking. What a waste of...er, you.

I hope I'm not interrupting your busy schedule. Who am I kidding? Nobody can interrupt you (hmm, idea for a sci-fi movie) but I've been meaning to well, not exactly, complain, but question your breakneck speed and the lifestyle you lead, trampling on petunias and tripping over plastic toys. Stress is a killer, you know.

Time, listen. I'm not pointing fingers or assigning blame or anything, so just relax. But I'd like you to refer back 365 days in your diary (or if that's a problem, my diary) and I'd like you to tell me if life then was fact or fiction. Is who I am or whom I speak to or what I do now the markers of reality and does it completely negate what existed before, a week or a month of in this case, a year past?

Okay, okay, don't laugh. I know you and Forever broke up long ago. Adam and Eve told me how you guys were so close.

It's not that I want to live in the past. I told you, I concluded that fourteen is so not where I want to be. I love my life. But this is what I ask, do YOU really have the right to choose who stays in my life and who doesn't? I mean, come on, I have it right here in my diary, the truest words spoken by a dearest friend. Sweet words, adorable words by an adorable person. The feelings are the same (atleast on this end), the warmth of the memories ever fresh and as delightful as freshly baked bread or newly ground coffee. But the SMSes are down in a book while the phone is long discarded. The incidents are in a sliding drawer in my head, not in front of me. The places still exist but the people to go to them with? I'm again saying its not all your fault, (your brother Distance has more to do with this but I hate talking to him) but could you be less like an IT raid and more like a gently bubbling stream? Hello, that's what they used to call you. What did the digital age do to you? Or were you always like this and it takes growing up to figure you out...?

I don't want to go back. No, siree. But I'd like a refund. I'd like there to be less photos and more real-life. I'd like my best friend to be in front of me and not in a book. He did exist and I want him to prove you, Time wrong.

Stop chuckling.



Friday, March 19, 2010


Everything is better with a song playing in the background.
When you're driving with your shades on (in Chennai, we call it 'coolers', machi) and listening to Moby, it's a heist movie.
When it's 'Bad' by U2, your life is changing. This is the plot point before the climax, the moment when epiphany arrives, when you, the protagonist set forth on the path that opens up in tune to this song.
When it's 'Agatha' by Rachid Taha, you see cherry blossoms and late winter smells and sights befitting a hilltop town (even when you're on Nungambakkam High Road on a desert-hot Tuesday forenoon.)
When it's 'Summer Moon' by Bob Sinclair, it's the most magical nightclub, neon pinks and purples amidst tropical flowers and all the glamour in the world even if you're dancing in the privacy of your room. Sure, it helps if you're eyes are closed. 'Forever' by Chris Brown takes that moment to the next level.
When it's 'Bittersweet Symphony' (OH when it's 'Bittersweet Symphony') by The Verve, you are the coolest dude(ette) on the planet, your walk a rockstar's, the world succumbing to your nonchalant magnetism as you stride through traffic.
When an A.R Rahman song plays, it's raining in Chennai and you're back in your first year of college when college love was something you knew would happen because the trees, the flowers, the breeze were all rooting for your heart (even though history proved otherwise).
When it's 'Don't Cha' by the Pussycat Dolls, you and your best friend are panthers, marching down the sidewalk and the whole world wants us or wants to be us.

A song on my 'Therapy' playlist (Beck's 'Timebomb' is guaranteed to pump me up. I'm a rockstar screaming into an imaginary microphone. I'm a superstar (Michael's 'The Way You Make Me Feel'-oh this one is an instant-feel good factor). I'm the star of an action flick ('Alice' by Moby or 'Deep' by Nine Inch Nails). I'm a head bopping, hip hop devotee ('Jump Around' by House of Pain). I'm a clown, belting out 'Don't Stop Me Now' by Queen at the top of my lungs.
For those of us (me?) who think life is a movie, the movie is incomplete without and made to order, perfectly fitting song playing in our heads, if not in the background. A crush becomes a love song that when listened to years later, will evoke exactly the same wave of feelings and the same smell of that season when it happened. Any song or album for that matter. 'Made in Medina' will remind me of my drawing room where I walked around while learning chemical equations during my tenth standard board exams. 'La Valse' and other Faudel songs will take my back to the stories and characters I spun from my imagination during a pure, precious time in my adolescence which I wish I could relive, when I lived my creations, allowing myself to be wrapped in a surreal world that was so real to me.
Well, I guess things haven't changed that much. Reality still deserves a background score, according to me. Thank you, Ipod. Thank you, musicians and artistes all over the world, for giving me music for moments.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Those other three words

It's really easy to love, trust me. Easy to say it also (well, most times). But to like someone? To actually genuinely like them? Not so easy and not so common.
A very good friend of mine I'll call MC (one of the select few people I really like) and I were talking about this phenomenon. That led me to think about the differences between love and liking.
I'm a person who's all about love, by the way. I send forth hugs and love through text messages, emails and in person. Friends, family, teachers and family of friends. Love comes easy, thanks to my inheritance of loving parents and a very demonstrative mother who shares love and kindness to all. I'm not as generous as her, being an inhabitant of a (porous) bubble. But I get it when people say "love makes the world go around".
I also get it when people say "love is blind". Because it is. That's when you ignore the flaws, you glorify the specks of brilliance. And when a cloud shows up, you get mad. You feel cheated.
But when you like someone, you know the flaws. You appreciate the talents, the charm and the goodness, but in a detached, objective way. There's no gush of love and no rush of sentiment. This person's good and you want to get to know them better, want them in your life.

When I mean love, I mean love in all its forms-affection for a newfound friend that ebbs and flows, a crush, a romantic relationship...any relationship.

Like begins to coexist with love. But like can't fluctuate. Like is steady, anchoring. Like is the solid cake base of the chocolate souffle. Love is immediate but like grows. It doesn't bubble up but it builds. Love's the flamboyant one while like is quieter, deeper and creeps up on you when you least expect it.

And that's the stuff great friendship is made of. Here's to you, MC.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Happy Birthday

Today is a special person's birthday, one of the few people left at my age (like me) who do get excited about 'trivial' things like birthdays. One of the few special people who made sure to make mine extra special even though:
they ended up making themselves sick for hyping over my 21st birthday dress,
they ensured my 19th birthday went cake-free by clubbing it with an emotional someone else's, and they helped me organise my 20th with A, B and C lists of guests and eventually leaving out a lot of nice people I feel ashamed to mention my 2oth party to.

Sigh, good times.

Well, here's to that special person, more a princess than a prince because he is pampered and loved as much as one. Here's to the birthday boy who's living it up all the way across the world and still living life as large as can be. Winning hearts the world over (ha ha I can actually say that now) and stressing about party organisation the same old way. The same way he still thinks that a crisp white shirt is the key to instant glam (true) and the same way he thinks he's Blair Waldorf (false).

Always invoking the same hilarity in me, whether he's face to face or an image on a computer screen. Making me believe in 'absence makes the heart grow fonder'. Being aware of my life's little events and mentally jotting them down so as to tell him later. Taking photos of my wardrobe selections to prove that I'm not as nerdy as he thinks. Mentally arguing with him in my head when I can hear him berating me for not being more adventurous in life. Mentally slapping him for calling my love life a Thar Desert. Making me understand the meaning of 'I'll be there for you' where 'there' is metaphysical and yet as vital.

Calling me a hundred times to discuss the Oscars and being the only one I know who gets as excited as I do about the glam parade and the debate over deserving actors versus eye candy. Calling me at 4 am from London and telling others I'm his 4 am friend, whether I'm awake or not. Calling again the next day at 2 am, hoping I'm awake and us then having a two hour conversation, officially anointing me The 4 Am Friend. Being such wholesome best friend (momentarily erase the ego clashes), the perfect best friend-one that you can show off as aesthetically appealing and at the same time surprisingly possessing durability and top quality. Making me jealous of all the numerous people he'll charm all over the world despite him being ever so desi and fussy and regimented, what with his daily routines that are so so so secretive. Adding spice to my life, whether actually or vicariously.

Getting my heart to get a taste of world travel because right now an important part of it is residing in London.

Haha! Gotcha! You can't get cornier than that. Have an awesome birthday.

Timothy where you been

I had a very profound and revolutionary insight into the concept of nationalism last night. I visualised myself being the only person to go into my HOD's office and finally 'do more than just attend class and beg to be let off early...take initiative!" I would passionately deplore the current state of international relations. Countries falling apart for want of nations, Indian states breaking down further for communities. There should be a cry to the creation of more multi-ethnic, multi-religious societies, with me as a poster girl. And I knew exactly what the solution was. I would save the world.
Of course, all this happened during REM. So, naturally, I remember nothing today.
I am hovering mid air, in the midst of a lot of words such as 'collective defense' and 'national interest'. A lot of other peoples' opinions on things I am just hearing about. The first step is to know what happened before digesting someone's articulate (read: unintelligible) take on the possibility of mutually assured destruction. Somehow, that's not the order in which we're doing this. And I'm feeling a little over-informed while at the same time clueless. Way to save the world.
So, the song of the moment is Timbaland's 'Timothy where you been'. For its pace. For Timbaland's rhythmic vocals. For its nonchalant vibe. For floating over me like everything else.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

I can transform ya

My favourite English word right now is 'TRANSFORM'. Thank you, Chris Brown.
Just think about the word for a moment. Absorb it. Understand it. It means something becoming something else, right? It makes me imagine a slow movement of liquidy shapes melting into different colours, shapes and sizes. Perhaps, it's the ex-visual media student in me.
But what intrigues me most is the fact that this word applies to the human being (by this I mean mind, body and soul). In 'The Secret', in quantum phyics, it is explained that the human body is capable of transformation. Cells can literally be programmed to change their way of thinking and behaving.
I mean, it makes sense. The natural world is all about transformation. Adaption. Evolution. Plants grow towards the sun. Cubs become tigers. Moths camouflage themselves.
We've gotten so used to our inanimate lives that we've forgotten that we're alive. We aren't computers (okay, computers are sometimes scarily life-like. All that crashing and hanging). We aren't walls and cupboards with nuts and bolts securely in place. We're alive. Our heart is beating. Our blood is moving. Our cells are dying and being born. All at this very moment.
Pure and simple: we're not a product. We're a process.
That's fabulous news to me. I basically don't have to be what I've always been. I don't have to hide behind self-stamped labels. I don't have the EXCUSE to do so. Shy people can make themselves speak up. Plump people can make themselves get thin. The world doesn't have to hate you. And you don't have to always come last.
That doesn't mean we jump on stage sweaty-palmed and stuttering-voiced or pile on the pancakes, thinking "it's alllll in the minnnnd". We make it happen. We do those things we need to do, with faith. Diet, exercise, practise public speaking, study. But do so, with the self-confidence that this time, next time it's going to be different. So I failed last sem or I cheated on my last diet? That doesn't make me a loser. I can be a new me. I can change my cells' memory.
Some of us are actors, playing different roles in one lifetime. Some of us are Lady Gaga. For the rest of us, we don't have to be second-grade Fatso or the college-geek. Maybe you can't be Megan Fox or Kobe Bryant over night. But you sure can be a whole lot better you. You 2.0.
And what do you lose if you try?