Love As A Matter of Habit

UntitledA doctor friend defined love as ‘primarily a form of OCD’. I pondered over the idea for a week and indeed, it gave me a way out of the end-of-love situation I was facing at that time.

When I’m facing the inevitable disillusionment, discontent and general dissatisfaction that sets in after the dramatic highs of the sort of relationships I get into, I know this. I know I’ll get over it, eventually. I can even estimate how long it’s likely to take me. What I didn’t know until the doctor’s prescription, is how I would get to that place of ‘over it’. Do I know now? I suppose I do. If love is just another form of OCD, a habit, I can figure it out. I know about making and breaking habits. Goals work for me, organising is my strength. I just have to focus on what parts of the person or relationship constitute habit in my life and figure out ways to get out of those habits.

I need to stop eating that particular food for about six weeks so it doesn’t immediately pull up the memory of him cooking it for me. Because then when my body is processing the dopamine hit from the food, my brain connects it to his memory and to him. Break that pattern, learn a new one. I’m so Pavlovian.

I‘ve never been addicted to any of the common afflictions around. I’ve tried most of them and I still dabble as often and as much as I want. It’s not that I have stronger willpower than most people. It is that I know how to manage habit. I’m good at organising actions, thoughts and motivations into bite-sized pieces and feeding them to myself (or other people, if required) in a staggered out way. It requires a fine blend of deprivation in tiny quantities and rewards on a periodic basis. It’s not rocket science and I am good at it.

I am speaking often now to a former love. He’s going through some hard times right now. Off and on over the past few years, we’ve reconnected briefly. A lunch here, a movie there, coffee and some messages. Then we get into newer habits with other people and lose touch till the next time we reconnect. I think it suits us, not making a habit of each other.

I spoke to another ex today, who is married to a friend of mine. I set boundaries in this relationship by changing or insisting on certain times, places and conversations. We only ever meet outside homes. Only sit on opposite sides of a table. No hugs except at the end of a meeting. We discuss the past in detail but the present, only superficially. This relationship gets defined by the habits we both agree to. Periodically he breaks a habit and in response, I create a new one. We stay in balance.

And finally, this now explains my restlessness at the start of any relationship when nice things get done and said. It’s not that I don’t enjoy it. But I fear that it will turn into a habit that I become dependent on. And who knows better than I, how acutely messing up a schedule can hit you?

This works for me. The only trouble is, I draw people who are the exact opposite of me. People who enjoy the excuses and hiding places that chaos, the lack of habit/OCD affords them. Then again, I suppose you could say I enjoy solving puzzles and what are relationships like these but puzzles to be solved?

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* If you liked this post, you’ll want to follow the Facebook Page and the Youtube channel. I’m Ramya Pandyan (a.k.a. Ideasmith) and I’m on Twitter and Instagram.

Canvas Kavita: A Collaboration Of Spoken Word, Poetry & Music

Spoken Word, Poetry, Music & Art with Karthik Rao and Soghra Khursani

This weekend I had a chance to do something new with the spoken word craft that I’ve been experimenting with, all last year.


Artist Soghra Khurasani’s collection ‘Cratered Fiction’ of woodcuts and paintings is on display at the TARQ art gallery. 10 poets were asked by The Poetry Club to come up with pieces that matched the themes expressed in her collection.

Soghra’s works are full of burning rivers, smouldering craters and scratches on vivid red splashes. What called to me was the idea that women’s bodies retain flesh memories of experiences as intimate as sex and love. Maybe that explains our conflicts, our deep resentment, our anguish that sometimes confuses the men close to us.

2016-01-09 18.17.44

My musician friend Karthik Rao and I collaborated again, this time with even more nuance and rhythm, making this is truly cross-medium expression, with music, spoken word, poetry and visual art.

I wrote a piece I call ‘Paper Cutouts & Craters’ specifically for this event. The second one, ‘Baby Invisible’, is one of my old pieces slightly modified a year later.

My previous collaborations:

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*If you liked this post, you’ll want to follow the Facebook Page and the Youtube channel. I’m Ramya Pandyan (a.k.a. Ideasmith) and I’m on Twitter and Instagram.


Your face is the canvas
I paint my emotions on
Even if my heart is left
Crumbling black
After your shoeprints.

Drinking Buddies

Glasses of pain
Cocktails of distress
Let’s raise a toast
And day, this round’s on me, friend
Start talking.

Lies, Damn Lies and Secrets

I can see it in your lies
The secrets you spill to the world
Like they’re useless facts
So they won’t poison your insides alone
I hear you.


You say you got a story
And I say I know it already
Because I’ve read you before you wrote it
And you ask how it is
And I say
Make me nicer.

Our Hidden Truth

It sees you
Our hidden truth
It sees the games you play
Out of fear and anger and judgement
It plays you
In my eyes, action and voice.

Opening 2016 With A Voice: At Poetry Couture Open Mic With Karthik Rao

My first performance of the year opened on a good note. It has been exactly one year since I ventured in Performance Poetry and Spoken Word. In this time, I’ve learnt the difference between page poetry and performance poetry, examined poetic nuance and how it goes beyond basic rhymes. The stage also gave me a chance to face my fears, my terrors and meet residual emotion that had lain unused and unexamined till then.

This event was Poetry Couture’s feature+Open Mic Poetic Adda. They featured me in their last Poetic Adda event and I was very happy to return to this venue and a new audience, a different context from the spaces I’ve been at.

Karthik Rao who supported my foray into musical accompaniment last year with Flamingoes and then with The Poetry Club’s #UndoingGender event returned. We are both hoping to collaborate further and explore this union of music and spoken word in a big way.

We first performed ‘Superwoman’, my first ever really feminist piece. This started as a blogpost I wrote more than a decade ago, one of the first ones to appear on my blog. It was also the turning point where I realised I was going to have a lot to say about urban womanhood and gave rise to the blog I call XXFactor. Then, at 24, the poem was one-quarter my own experiences and the remaining fragments of lives of women around me and some conjecture. More and more I’m finding my own life has begun to echo this piece in a spooky fashion. It’s not entirely good because the piece is far from being happy. I can only hope that anybody reading this post (and this blog) realises that the life I’ve laid out in performance is not all bad. I’ve lived a largely fulfilling, happy life after all. Here again, in collaboration with Karthik Rao, is Superwoman.

The organisers were nice enough to allow us to do one more piece. Late last year, I realised that I wrote almost no love poems. This, when 90% of all songs and poems are written about love. It made me reflect on how I avoid thinking about love because it’s memories in my life are too painful. But, as with my Paper Plane, perhaps performing a positive piece will be my road out of darkness. I’ve resolved to write and perform a lot more love-related material. I know me and I am coming to understand how I love so this will be far from mushy or rose-coloured. But maybe I can learn to build my brand of beautiful, flawed love too. Here is Patchwork Relationship.

I’ll take it as a good sign that both of these came through well, even though I had a bad cough (and woke up this morning completely voiceless). Here’s to a year of many more Spoken Word stories!

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*Also published on The Idea-smithy.

If you liked this post, you’ll want to follow the Facebook Page and the Youtube channel. I’m Ramya Pandyan (a.k.a. Ideasmith) and I’m on Twitter and Instagram.


Because life is too short for hangovers
And the body, too precious to abuse.


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