Remembering To Be 18 Till I Die

I am such a sucker for nostalgia that on a day when I’m learning to put the past behind me, I go and ask ReemaΒ to pull me into this dare. She picked a year and now I have to tell you the highlights of my life. Here goes my 1997.

  • I turned 18. Boasted that I was now old enough to drink, drive and get married. The first happened several years later, the second I officially got to be able to do that very year but didn’t and the third, well, most of you know my adventures with that.
  • I found myself midway through a course I HATED. Physics had been the bane of my existence since standard eight. After 12th, I’d slunk into the relative ease of B.Sc. (easier than engineering I’d thought) and picked a combo that would lead to Maths, the only science subject I could stomach. What I didn’t know is that this meant I’d have to tolerate Physics for TWO MORE YEARS! 😒
  • I found my solace in books and other classrooms. I yearned so much to study exciting subjects like psychology, sociology and literature that I would sneak into their classrooms. Even the teachers knew me. The psychology lab had ‘adopted’ me as their pet subject for the practicals they had almost every week. That’s where my references to Pavlov, Berne, Freud come from.
  • The pressure of 12th was off and final year seemed rather far away. I spent three years in the most fashionable college in the city before I got my first lipstick. I went into grunge almost immediately (yeah, Alanis was cool in the 90s). Deliberately dusty leather boots, loose fitting pyjamas, a cycle chain as a necklace, uncut long hair – this was my trademark look. I’m told I scared a lot of people (even though no cigarette, joint or booze crossed my lips and I never beat anyone up).
  • A little later, I chopped off my shoulder-length locks and went boy-short. I got mistaken for a boy several times. But I also got propositioned a lot (boys and men are such strange creatures). A very nice-looking boy from the model/dancer crowd took a fancy to me and would spend mornings pirouetting around for my benefit. Leo men have always been such a pleasure. πŸ˜€ But the only boyfriend I had was a stray dog that would hang around the college canteen. Never a dog-lover, I avoided it like the plague. But after a long weekend once, the dog looked starved and I put out some bread and milk for it. The dog refused to leave my side for the rest of the year and would follow me around EVERYWHERE. My friends christened it my ‘boyfriend’ after it chased one of my classmates through the campus for accidentally kicking my shoe. Kaalu was the sweetest boyfriend I’ve ever had.
  • I read like a maniac. There was nothing else to do for a teenager trapped in a stifling course and before the internet and smart phones. My college had a dream library (with cards etc.) and most students didn’t even know of its existence. The college peons who ran the library would let me browse unfettered and even let me borrow more books than the quota. I read about chess and astronomy and astrology and war and music and turn-of-century literature. PG Wodehouse, Ayn Rand, Eric Berne, Aldous Huxley, Jeffrey Archer all rubbed shoulders on my library card.
  • I was drowning and I didn’t know it. The universe threw me a lifesaver in the form of Ms.Suma Narayan. She stopped me in the college corridor and asked me if I’d like to write for the college magazine. If she hadn’t done that, I may never have seriously considered the idea that I could be a writer. She published me in the magazine that year, a poem called ‘Unanswered Questions’. And life was never the same again.
  • I also sang and drew a lot. Midway through the year, I fell in with a bunch of other misfits (or maybe wiser souls). They didn’t scream COOL, they liked books and they all knew music. Alanis Morisette, Kula Shaker, Guns n’ Roses, MLTR, Bryan Adams and Aqua were topping the charts at that time. (and by the way, ’18 till I die’ was sweeping across campuses and hearts). The boys would often bring a guitar along, one of them would start a song, I’d join in while sketching something weird and strange and dark in my journals. That’s the only memory that I can pin to the phrase ‘the best of times’. Now here’s some music and attitude from my 1997.

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Reluctant Learner

Three people have been needlessly, disproportionately vicious to me today.Β I’m choosing to take it as a lesson. A lesson in what?

Is it possible that I’ve been as reckless and feckless in my actions and words in the past? It is possible. I don’t think I’ve ever been a poisonous, manipulative person. My MO is more to shoot from the hip and ask questions later and that is more a flaw of firepower than poison. Yet, its impact may be just as damaging.

I don’t know if it’s a function of our flawed social systemsΒ where older generations never allow the younger ones to grow up. I am not sure if it has to do with being a very hungry nation,Β even for those of us in the privileged layer. But in our twenties we are definitely more like wrecking balls of sentiment. EvenΒ worse, we are heavy machinary being operated by a short-sighted and drunk/stoned driver. We have no sense of the repercussions of our actions. We have no ability to deal with multiple emotions. And we lack that vital ingredient in a sane life – perspective.

Am I better off now that I’m in my 30s? I can’t say. I’m finding thoughts such as these are surfacing alongside the blind trigger rage responses. Maybe that’s growing up, maybe it’s slowing down.

I am also finding I’m tiring of the 20-somethings I find myself around, in my creative as well as my professional circles. They are full of these poisonous situations, on breakneck speed down dangerous pathways. It’s all I can do to get out of the way and not get hit too hard, too much.

I’ve been suffering from a strange ailment this month. Well, that’s not new, is it? This seems to be a year where my body shouts outΒ in languages that it hasn’t so much as bothered to whisper in before. First the recurring cold-cough-fever of January. Then the blinding nausea (yes, that is a thing) that was diagnosed as migraines. And now a voice that’s just GONE. No throatache, no cold, no cough, no fever. I just can’t speak anymore. I open my mouth and a stranger’s voice rattles through my voicebox, when it does. If I’ve forced my way through the day with that (performances, classes, webinars), I’m suddenly unable to utter a full word.

It seems fairly obvious to me that this is a call for me to slow down and speak less. I do live a rather vociferous life, after all. So I’ve taken a break from performing and phone calls. I cannot cut out work but I’ve been able to deliver those a lot better since I cut out the first two.

So what now? Let go of people. Let go of situations. Let go of pride. Let go of a sense of justice. Let go of the things I love doing. Let go of speaking. Can you imagine how hard this is for a Cancerian whose first instint is to hold on, a Leo Rising whose being revolves around expression and talking?

Sigh. Maybe this is not permanent. Perhaps as with the situations that started off this day, there is just a lesson to be learnt before comforts and loves are earned back again.

A lesson in letting others live out their crashes. A lesson in not get hit and run over. Lessons of goodbye.Β Lessons in silence. Shh.

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I Wear: Feminist Fashion

My weekend began on a wonderful note. Any day that has Reema in it is wonderful anyway. And then a visit to the India Culture Lab usually provokes a lot of delicious ideas. To top it all off, I met not one but three fabulous women, all of whom knew me. The event was on ‘Fashion & Feminism’.

The evening brought up so many intense ideas that I decided to put them on both my blogs. So do trot over to XX Factor to see why I think fashion and feminism are linked. And then come back here to see what I wore.

I Wear:

  • Leopard print peephole top: Lokhandwala boutique
  • Flared jeans: Jabong
  • Snakeskin boots: Clark’s
  • Pink lipstick: Faces Canada

I also had a chance to run into the wonderful Neha Ramneek Kapoor and we struck an instant connection.Β Here she is in I Wear‘s first ever interview video.

* The first video was shot by Reema PrasannaΒ and the second by Shaunak De.Β If you enjoyed this style post in video, check out the other I Wear posts and videos.

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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 onTwitterΒ andΒ Instagram.

I Wear: Family Weekends

I like to keep my Saturdays as quiet as possible. For one, I do live a rather crowded, loquacious life. And in addition, weekends witness horribly obnoxious behaviour by people in malls, multiplexes and on roads (and where else is there to go on a weekend, after all?). I usually work in the first half and then like to spend the second half taking walks by myself, sometimes meeting a friend for coffee or just reading.

This Saturday though, was promised to my family since I didn’t do anything on my birthday and then ran off to Pune soon after. We decided to go for a movie and dinner. It was an obnoxious weather sort of day, cloud-threatening to rain any minute but also streaming out sunlight every few minutes. And movie theatres are freezing iceboxes. So I wanted to dress for everything. Here’s what I wore:

As it turned out, I developed a migraine headache (though I didn’t realise what it was at the time). I figured I was just too hot in the garb so I did a quick wardrobe change into jeans after this. But it got really bad and we had to get out of the movie midway. The movie was Madaari and it turns out to have been a rather bad one. I wish I hadn’t had to cut short the family day though. Still, at least we’ve identified what’s been plaguing me. “Migraines are often psychosomatic,” my doctor says and advises me to ‘divorce’ anything that makes me stressed. So here’s to uninstalling Twitter, getting away from worries and into better dressing and good work!

I Wear:

  • Beige printed tunic: Shoppers Stop
  • Rust leggings: Shoppers Stop
  • Distressed denim jacket: Forever 21
  • Majenta handbag: Baggit
  • Brown cloth lace-ups: North Star
  • Brownstone fish pendant: Magick
  • Lipstick: Pretty Please no.79 by ColorBar
  • Eye makeup: Black kohl pencil

* If you enjoyed this style post in video, check out the other I Wear posts.

β€”β€Šβ€”β€Šβ€”β€Šβ€”β€Šβ€”β€Šβ€”β€Šβ€”β€Šβ€”β€Šβ€”β€Šβ€”β€Šβ€”β€Šβ€”β€Šβ€”β€Šβ€”β€Šβ€”β€Šβ€”β€Šβ€”β€Šβ€”β€Šβ€”β€Šβ€”β€Šβ€”β€Šβ€”β€Šβ€”β€Šβ€”β€Šβ€”β€”β€Šβ€”β€Šβ€”β€Šβ€”β€Šβ€”β€Šβ€”β€Šβ€”β€Šβ€”β€Šβ€”β€Šβ€”

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 andΒ Instagram.

I Wear: Peacock Power

I stepped out for a few errands and to catch coffee with Reema at the end of July. Fed up with the plastic and synthetic fabrics that characterise monsoonwear, I dipped into my summer wardrobe.

One of the many things I love about this outfit is that it’s comfortable and convenient without looking sloppy. The kurta, particularly, is the kind that gets sold only under ‘menswear’. Most shops seem very rigid about this and salespeople seem highly reluctant to let women try on the garment. Women’s kurtas in comparison, tend to be all frippery and flowery, focussing on tight fits rather than comfort. AND NO POCKETS WHAT IS THIS NONSENSE DON’T WOMEN HAVE TO CARRY A LOT OF STUFF? Anyway, I picked up this delightful peacock-blue khadi kurta in Lokhandwala (of all places, the place is such an ode to chauvinistic, overpriced, trashy style).

I Wear:

  • Peacock blue khadi kurta: Cotton Cottage
  • White jeggings: Linking Road
  • Beige handbag: Baggitt
  • Turqoise sandals: Clark’s
  • Clear lip gloss: Baby Lips

I managed to stay comfortable and spotless despite traipsing all across Andheri East and West in wet, muddy weather. Incidentally, this is also the day that I Wear videos got its first guest (see the post here).

* This video was shot by Reema Prasanna.Β If you enjoyed this style post in video, check out the other I Wear posts and videos.

β€”β€Šβ€”β€Šβ€”β€Šβ€”β€Šβ€”β€Šβ€”β€Šβ€”β€Šβ€”β€Šβ€”β€Šβ€”β€Šβ€”β€Šβ€”β€Šβ€”β€Šβ€”β€Šβ€”β€Šβ€”β€Šβ€”β€Šβ€”β€Šβ€”β€Šβ€”β€Šβ€”β€Šβ€”β€Šβ€”β€Šβ€”β€Šβ€”β€”β€Šβ€”β€Šβ€”β€Šβ€”β€Šβ€”β€Šβ€”β€Šβ€”β€Šβ€”β€Šβ€”β€Šβ€”

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 TwitterΒ andΒ Instagram.

Healing Into Thirty-Seven

It has been a hard year. This is a sort of birthday-take-stock post that’s about a month late but it has been the kind of year that merits that. I’ve struggled in a slow, undramatic fashion (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12). Some of you have noticed and have offered kind words while a few others spotting a chink in the armour perhaps, have swooped in vampire-like to troll. But the world at large, as it usually does, has been indifferent. One more life in a few billions here or there will not go amiss.

On my birthday, I had a few friends drop in. I put in very little effort. It was a weekday and my birthday falls right in the middle of the dirtiest, most inconvenient month in the city. ByΒ that time all the yay-rains-so-romantic mood has died down. The respite of roads still potholed but at least without the dangers of deep puddles is months away. Yet, four and then five people soldiered on to come see me and celebrate my existence.

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My dark placeΒ intrudedΒ eventually. One of my visitors said,

“I know you felt and loved deeply. But look at this. He never treated you well or cared a damn when you were together. It’s been years and you’re still so sad and he still doesn’t care. While around you, you are missing out on people who really love you.”

This is not new but maybe one needs to hear something at just a certain time, in a certain way from a certain person for it to hit home. Maybe I can take action more easily when it has to do with people I love, while I struggle if it only has to do with me. But that helped me rise out of it for awhile.

Two days later, I managed to summon up enough energy to get out of the city with Adi, something I possibly may not have been able to do if he hadn’t been around. We spent all of the day and most of theΒ journey talking. Once again, not much new but things sound a lot more like enlightening truth and less like devastating facts when I’m away from the mayhem of Mumbai and entering the freshness of Pune.

I was only in Pune 24 hours but I had nothing but wonderful conversations. Adi’s mother showed me her terraceΒ garden, a place of so much love, pride and effort. I’m aΒ parent to plants myself, albeit only of a humble window garden. But I understand the supreme act of sharing that it is to invite someone into your garden. It was a sudden impulsive act of generosity that I, now used to sudden acts being only of cruelty was startled.

Then I met the Kabras and Shrikant & Gauri. There’s something about the people I know in Pune. Most of them have lived in Mumbai or similar big cities before and have chosen the saner life in Pune. They seem to radiate an unadulterated pleasure in meeting me. It is not sullied by constantly wavering attention and neither is it poisoned by regrets over how hard it is to meet or how little time we have. They look content with their lives so it’s possible for me to remember that contentment is an actual thing and that we are not only a world of walking wounded. I returned to Mumbai almost a new person. And for the first time in a year, I suddenly felt like I could see light, like I could breathe oxygen.

I brought tea back into my life. Maybe it is a crutch but I’ve been struggling so hard I need a little help and it’s okay to have that. I stopped beating on myself for not being able to make it to gym everyday. An unhappy soul in a happy-seeming-body is a grotesque farce.Β I’ve been in that place for the better part of three, nearly four weeks now.

Over the weekend, I stayed up late reading a review book. It was a powerful, bittersweet story and it involved depression, substance abuse and bipolar disorder. It did have a happy ending. Since then, I’ve felt sucked back into that dark place. Three conversations I’ve had in the past week have been about people who once hurt me and are experiencing confusion, maybe even regret. But what’s the point? Too little, too late, too much broken inside me to be able to heal them of that poisonous emotion called regret.

I realised today that I’ve fallen into a sort of safe, shell-like routine that minimises intimacy or contact and compartmentalises as far as possible. Performance nights, class evenings, assignment checks, solo walks, Alphabet Sambar meets. And the vast majority of the time, I struggle alone but it’s nowhere as hard as the war I have to wage just existing in the world. Everyone is so damn angry, just so cruel to each other and to themselves. I know I cannot stay in here forever but maybe being here will heal me enough to be able to deal with a horrible universe for some time.

Since the book, I’ve been on the threshold, not yet trapped in the dark room. It’s a little like being in a glass bubble and I can hear and see the world around me, even the positive bits, but distorted and detached from me.Β I am in my mind enough to know that most people are weak and their cruelty is like addiction – meant to escape their own problems that they are not brave enough to face. I’m sane enough to realise that the handful left doesn’t exploit me but they’re caught up in their own realities that demand a lot out of each one of them. Being alone in a dark place is not a deliberate act of malice by the universe.Β This weekend has beenΒ a reminder that the darkness is never that far away.Β Then again, neither is Pune. And the phone numbers of people who may answer, with love or at least, concern. And as long as I can remember that, I guess I’m okay. Maybe thirty-seven will beΒ a bit kinder, a little luckier, a tad lighter than last yearΒ was.

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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 onΒ TwitterΒ andΒ Instagram.

Shaping Spaces & Relationships: The Poetry Club @ Theosophy Hall

The Poetry Club tied up with the French Consulate to host a poetry workshop and Open Mic at the Theosophy Hall. They also did this last year after the COP21 conference where they asked attendant poets to write about environmental change. The piece that I wrote for that event was called ‘Climate Change‘. I can’t seem to find a recording so I guess I didn’t make one.Β This weekend, I brought up a more recent piece that I’ve been working on, one that’s more performance poetry than spoken word. And here it is, ‘Architect‘.

I’ve been missing the TPC monthly events since they moved out of cosy Vakoloft. But I’m going to try and get to more of their meets. It’s always wonderful meeting and hearing performer/poets like Saurabh Jain, Ramneek Singh, Trupthi Shetty and Ankita Shah. In addition to hearing some really quality poetry, I really like the mood that they bring to these events. These were the early Indian performers that I saw and interacted with and I’ve seen them shape and evolve alongside me. They’ve each managed to grow but also encourage and nurture the upcoming community (unlike some other venues/events). And finally, as a club, they come up with some really innovative events involving poetry. Watch for more soon.

*Β If you enjoyed this performance poetryΒ post in video, check out my other performances on this blog or follow the ‘Ideas on Stage‘ playlist on my Youtube channel.

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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 TwitterandΒ Instagram.

 

I Wear: A Star Is Always On Stage

I started the week after my birthday byΒ going back to Tuning Fork for their Monday Open Mic and I’m so glad I did! It was a fabulous evening of unexpected, varied performances ranging from music, comedy to the kind of poetry that makes one remember what art truly is. I was also in a much better mood after my weekend mini-break to Pune so I dressed up. And here’s my look. (In line with the mood, I performed the following upbeat piece – ‘If Alcohols Were Men’)

I Wear:

  • Black-and-green tunic: Max
  • Black leggings: United Colors of Benneton
  • Leopard print scarf: birthday gift
  • Orange soled transparent rainboots: Paean
  • Raincoat: Lokhandwala market

* The last part of the video was shot by Gautam Sukhija.
If you enjoyed this style post in video, check out the other I Wear posts.

β€”β€Šβ€”β€Šβ€”β€Šβ€”β€Šβ€”β€Šβ€”β€Šβ€”β€Šβ€”β€Šβ€”β€Šβ€”β€Šβ€”β€Šβ€”β€Šβ€”β€Šβ€”β€Šβ€”β€Šβ€”β€Šβ€”β€Šβ€”β€Šβ€”β€Šβ€”β€Šβ€”β€Šβ€”β€Šβ€”β€Šβ€”β€Šβ€”β€”β€Šβ€”β€Šβ€”β€Šβ€”β€Šβ€”β€Šβ€”β€Šβ€”β€Šβ€”β€Šβ€”β€Šβ€”

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 andΒ Instagram.

 

‘Fitness Fanatics’, Kindly Get Lost

Go Back To Your Own Insecure Bodies And Leave Mine Alone!

So this whole trend of being ‘fitter-than-thou’, here’s my problem with it: It assumes that human health is a simple linear equation of calories consumed and gym hours sweated/miles run. If that were truly the case, our demigods would not be doctors prescribing medicines but engineers churning out equations.

 

The human body is far more complex than even professionals have been able to quantify. I have always been a lean person. I have not always been a fit person. I eat regardless of calories because I do not put on or lose weight. But I watch what I eat because I do not digest certain common foods (like corn, rawa and mutton) well.

I am also neither a gym fanatic nor a runner (since these are the two most popular fads in the so-called fitness space). But I have always been on the higher end among my peers, on stamina and energy. I have a high pain tolerance and I heal reasonably fast but I also have low immunity. I can’t cope without food for very long but I can manage without sleep for a longer than many others. I drink more water than average and not because I’m following some beauty editor’s advice on number of bottles translates to clearer skin. See how ‘strength’ is far more complex than one single measure?

I had a terrible experience last month with a certain ‘fitness tracker’ that promises expert consultation. The expert would not stop guilting me on what I ate (despite the fact thatΒ I said weight loss was NOT my goal). She kept insisting that I stop eating bananas (though these are the one sure-fire cure I’ve found to shut down acidity) and make my dinners even lighter. When I told her that meant I woke up hungry in the night and with acidity the next morning, she suggested I eat biscuits. If you have acidity, eat banana before going to gym, she added. So basically, cut out what already works, interrupt sleep to eat a processed, baked food instead of a fruit. And in the daytime, eat and then go exercise. The company kept chasing me after I stopped using the product. I wrote them an email explaining why it didn’t seem like the product was the right fit for my lifestyle but if there was something additional they could think of, I’d be happy to listen. The lead trainer (presumably having neglected to read my email though it was sent to him) said “Ask me anything”. I repeated what I’d said on email andΒ he wanted to know why I had bought the product then. Whew, insecure people really go on the offense when their brittle pretences are broken, don’t they?

It’s the oldest trick in the marketing book – to make people feel inadequate, drum up that doubt into sizable insecurity and offer yourself or your product as the only solution. How come highly educated, successful, intelligent professionals (some of whom do this very same thing in other industries) are falling for this?

Yet, I know more and more people are buying into this grand myth. I am surrounded by friends and peers who inadvertently guilt me or shame me about the things I eat/do or don’t. “How long has it been since you went to gym? That long! Ah, you’ll pay for it. I never skip a session with my trainer.”, “Chocolate at night??” and so on it goes. Mercifully I’ve struggled with my own health issues and found ways to deal with them so it gives me the confidence to see their behaviour for what it is – fear & insecurity. I know that I know my body better than any other human being does and nobody should be given the right to make me feel less than that.

If you truly care about your health (and you should), stop letting commercial entities and other people’s insecurities abuse your body. And tell anyone who guilts you when you eat without counting calories or enjoy a day instead of going to gym TO STFU AND GET OVER THEIR OWN INSECURITIES.

β€”β€Šβ€”β€Šβ€”β€Šβ€”β€Šβ€”β€Šβ€”β€Šβ€”β€Šβ€”β€Šβ€”β€Šβ€”β€Šβ€”β€Šβ€”β€Šβ€”β€Šβ€”β€Šβ€”β€Šβ€”β€Šβ€”β€Šβ€”β€Šβ€”β€Šβ€”β€Šβ€”β€Šβ€”β€Šβ€”β€Šβ€”β€Šβ€”β€”β€Šβ€”β€Šβ€”β€Šβ€”β€Šβ€”β€Šβ€”β€Šβ€”β€Šβ€”β€Šβ€”β€Šβ€”

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 TwitterandΒ Instagram.

 

 

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