Category Archives: Citywatch

Postcards To StorySeekers

This feels like a time to remember the things we’ve taken for granted. Walks. Conversations. Friendships. Laughter. Exploration. Experiences. Because isolation is cessation of all of these.

Too many of us have derided these things for too long. We live such over-stimulated, overexcited, hyperactive, frantic lives. An excess of anything can cause overdosing. But famine isn’t great either, as many of us are starting to realise.

A good story knows when to stop and when to pause. It holds its boundaries. And so, it can also move powerfully. We, the storytellers, need to be masters of this ability. To willingly seek ideas and to release them without pain. Sometimes this means going forth with no map but the resolve to find an experience for the joy of it.

I started #StorySeekers on @alphabetsambar to expand my endless thirst for sights, sounds, smells, ideas, people & conversations to others. Ideas are found in these, not in homogeneous coffeeshops. On each episode, we’d pick a place to experience with a Story Guide.

This photograph is from #StorySeekers: The Secret Life of Engineers. We experienced a temperature drop within a kilometre, watched birds over a lake, enjoyed a gallery of graffiti, peeped into the laboratories that nurture some of the brightest minds in the country and talked through poetry & fiction written by them. It was the perfect day.

Because there was this, I know there will be more. There are worlds beyond my room. Everything has a boundary, even pandemics. You just have to find it. Or outlive it with hope. For me, a page from the past will do to remind me that there are yet stories unwritten.

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POSTCARDS TO STORY SEEKERS This feels like a time to remember the things we've taken for granted. Walks. Conversations. Friendships. Laughter. Exploration. Experiences. Because isolation is cessation of all of these. Too many of us have derided these things for too long. We live such over-stimulated, overexcited, hyperactive, frantic lives. An excess of anything can cause overdosing. But famine isn't great either, as many of us are starting to realise. A good story knows when to stop and when to pause. It holds its boundaries. And so, it can also move powerfully. We, the storytellers, need to be masters of this ability. To willingly seek ideas and to release them without pain. Sometimes this means going forth with no map but the resolve to find an experience for the joy of it. I started #StorySeekers on @alphabetsambar to expand my endless thirst for sights, sounds, smells, ideas, people & conversations to others. Ideas are found in these, not in homogeneous coffeeshops. On each episode, we'd pick a place to experience with a Story Guide. This photograph is from #StorySeekers: The Secret Life of Engineers. We experienced a temperature drop within a kilometre, watched birds over a lake, enjoyed a gallery of graffiti, peeped into the laboratories that nurture some of the brightest minds in the country and talked through poetry & fiction written by them. It was the perfect day. Because there was this, I know there will be more. There are worlds beyond my room. Everything has a boundary, even pandemics. You just have to find it. Or outlive it with hope. For me, a page from the past will do to remind me that there are yet stories unwritten. ———————————————– Leave a comment if you'd like to join our little community of creators. ———————————————– ๐Ÿ“ธ: @lumographer07 for @alphabetsambar ๐ŸŽถ: EL CONDOR PASA: Simon & Garfunkel #theideasmithy

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Chasing Sunrises

When I was a student, I invited a boyfriend to share a romantic sunrise on the beach with me. I always liked the cleanness of mornings. In Mumbai, it starts early but it’s still sparse enough for every waking creature to give the other space, physical and emotional. Mornings are the closest to peaceful richness (as opposed to exhausted incompletion of late nights). And beaches have always felt like home.

We sat on the sand and talked and waited. It was nearly 9am when the prickling on the back of my neck made me turn around. There was the sun behind us, high above buildings. I realised, feeling very foolish, that Mumbai is on the western coast of the country. The sun doesn’t rise over the sea in Mumbai; it sets.

Sunsets are a reminder of things unfinished, an alarm bell that it’s getting late, the mosquitoes start biting and traffic piling up. I didn’t enjoy sunsets. It bothered me for a long time after that my favourite time and favorite place didn’t coincide.

Over the next few years, I fell into the Mumbaiker rhythm of chasing jobs, deadlines and corporate goals. I spent my favorite part of the day in crowded trains, busy roads, bustling lanes. I was able to visit my favorite place rarely if ever, and only amid a lot of crowd with the residual noise & garbage.

I have since started making an effort to visit the beach more often. I’ve learnt to tune out noise, managed to make these solo trips in safety and minimal intrusion. They’re never in the early morning.

But then, I also found beauty in the fresh sunlight on a broken window pane. I found inspiration on day breaking over a defunct textile mill. Sunrises are great wherever they happen because they signal a fresh start. Wherever you are, whoever you are. It made me realise sunsets aren’t sad. The sun must set if it is to rise again.

And you know both sunsets and sunrises are illusions, tricks of light & planetary movement. The sun isn’t going anywhere. We are. And it’s never too far away. Just a few hours from the next sunrise or sunset.

It makes me appreciative of my island city, just the way it is.

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CHASING SUNRISES When I was a student, I invited a boyfriend to share a romantic sunrise on the beach with me. I always liked the cleanness of mornings. In Mumbai, it starts early but it's still sparse enough for every waking creature to give the other space, physical and emotional. Mornings are the closest to peaceful richness (as opposed to exhausted incompletion of late nights). And beaches have always felt like home. We sat on the sand and talked and waited. It was nearly 9am when the prickling on the back of my neck made me turn around. There was the sun behind us, high above buildings. I realised, feeling very foolish, that Mumbai is on the western coast of the country. The sun doesn't rise over the sea in Mumbai; it sets. Sunsets are a reminder of things unfinished, an alarm bell that it's getting late, the mosquitoes start biting and traffic piling up. I didn't enjoy sunsets. It bothered me for a long time after that my favourite time and favorite place didn't coincide. Over the next few years, I fell into the Mumbaiker rhythm of chasing jobs, deadlines and corporate goals. I spent my favorite part of the day in crowded trains, busy roads, bustling lanes. I was able to visit my favorite place rarely if ever, and only amid a lot of crowd with the residual noise & garbage. I have since started making an effort to visit the beach more often. I've learnt to tune out noise, managed to make these solo trips in safety and minimal intrusion. They're never in the early morning. But then, I also found beauty in the fresh sunlight on a broken window pane. I found inspiration on day breaking over a defunct textile mill. Sunrises are great wherever they happen because they signal a fresh start. Wherever you are, whoever you are. It made me realise sunsets aren't sad. The sun must set if it is to rise again. And you know both sunsets and sunrises are illusions, tricks of light & planetary movement. The sun isn't going anywhere. We are. And it's never too far away. Just a few hours from the next sunrise or sunset. It makes me appreciative of my island city, just the way it is. ๐Ÿ“ธ: @tjcoulagi ๐ŸŽถ: HERE COMES THE SUN: The Beatles #theideasmithy

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

Moonlight

A lot of people who don’t know who they are. Does this mean I know who I am? No. I shy away from identity labels because they don’t fit me, they don’t sit right. I make the decision to let go of the validation & security they offer while I’m on this quest to discover who I am.

It is lonely. Our journeys are our own (and I do not mean the collective ‘our’). It is scary because what if we discover that we are not who we wish? What happens when we have to face the ways we are different from the perfection we see outside us? Maybe people who are angry have hit on this and are still hurting because the outside seems perfect unlike the inside. There is no anger when one feels at home in one self. In one’s body, one’s clothes, one’s home & family, one’s profession & life choices and one’s emotions.

Some people are consumed by hatred. They are angry, vengeful, vindictive, violent. These are normal human reactions but when they describe a person more often than the words peaceful, nurturing, healing, joyful, something has gone wrong. When rage defines you, every action, every word, every association, every minute is tainted with hatred of the world. It shows.

Because the quest for self makes you shed all armour (which is what rage, guilt, hatred & fear are). But it also holds you in the light of love and peace. Some days that love is scorching and is vain or thoughtless. But nighttime come around and the light is gentle and soothing and a reminder of slights that must be forgiven or apologised for and healed. Love must drive us all.

Moonlight is a good reminder of the things that can be seen and the things that can be imagined or remembered. And our power to choose between these. Or both. You are not what you choose. You are who chooses.

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MOONLIGHT A lot of people who don't know who they are. Does this mean I know who I am? No. I shy away from identity labels because they don't fit me, they don't sit right. I make the decision to let go of the validation & security they offer while I'm on this quest to discover who I am. It is lonely. Our journeys are our own (and I do not mean the collective 'our'). It is scary because what if we discover that we are not who we wish? What happens when we have to face the ways we are different from the perfection we see outside us? Maybe people who are angry have hit on this and are still hurting because the outside seems perfect unlike the inside. There is no anger when one feels at home in one self. In one's body, one's clothes, one's home & family, one's profession & life choices and one's emotions. Some people are consumed by hatred. They are angry, vengeful, vindictive, violent. These are normal human reactions but when they describe a person more often than the words peaceful, nurturing, healing, joyful, something has gone wrong. When rage defines you, every action, every word, every association, every minute is tainted with hatred of the world. It shows. Because the quest for self makes you shed all armour (which is what rage, guilt, hatred & fear are). But it also holds you in the light of love and peace. Some days that love is scorching and is vain or thoughtless. But nighttime come around and the light is gentle and soothing and a reminder of slights that must be forgiven or apologised for and healed. Love must drive us all. Moonlight is a good reminder of the things that can be seen and the things that can be imagined or remembered. And our power to choose between these. Or both. You are not what you choose. You are who chooses. #theideasmithy ๐ŸŽถ: ECLIPSE: Pink Floyd

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

A Word Called TRUST

This post was written when a wave of anti-CAA protests swept across the country, college campuses were breached by guns, children were arrested & tortured and still the crowds stood, still the rhetoric continued. At the time of scheduling this for publishing, the protests are still going on while the government shows no sign of ceasing or even reconsidering its actions. I hope by the time you read this, we live in a world that has remembered the value of trust.

~O~O~O~O~O~O~

TRUST. It’s not a word that gets heard much in this time of rage & outrage. How can there be freedom without the trust that it will be a liberating and not fatal experience? What is democracy without freedom?

Politics is about using words well – election platforms, voter wooing, policy campaigning. But words are not much in themselves; just hot air, scratches on paper, bytes on a glass screen. What gives words their power? Benevolence, not bullying. Generosity, not vindictiveness. Inspiration, not threats. Caring. Yes, the truth must care. That is what makes it believable. When the words care, the listener trusts the speaker and is willing to be influenced, even led.

Trust is based on history, else it’s just blind optimism. The latter must be a choice. A promise that things will be different will have to cross the span of doubt and not be enraged. No one can feel entitled to another’s trust. It must be sought, earned, built and maintained. Constantly. Violation of consent (including forcing what is not yet trusted) doesn’t engender trust either.

We are experiencing a time when the letter of the law is being brandished like a weapon. Weapons do not inspire trust. The law is a body of words and like all words, only a net attempting to cover something as fluid as human living.

The policy may be worded in an airtight way. But trust has not been earned or even sought. Violence will never beget trust; only fear. How can one trust a person, a policy or a party that fosters violence on unarmed civilians, students or anyone who says NO? “Democracy, for the people, by the people.” It’s not democracy if the people it’s for, don’t trust the people it’s by. I cannot challenge words being said anymore than voters challenge election promises. It’s not words I protest. It’s the fact that I have seen discrimination and I don’t believe it can be true freedom. It’s the fact that I’ve experienced silencing and that is the exact opposite of  trust seeking. I see my trust being demanded, bullied out of me and because of this, I cannot trust.

No other words matter.

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A WORD CALLED TRUST TRUST. It's not a word that gets heard much in this time of rage & outrage. How can there be freedom without the trust that it will be a liberating and not fatal experience? What is democracy without freedom? Politics is about using words well – election platforms, voter wooing, policy campaigning. But words are not much in themselves; just hot air, scratches on paper, bytes on a glass screen. What gives words their power? Benevolence, not bullying. Generosity, not vindictiveness. Inspiration, not threats. Caring. Yes, the truth must care. That is what makes it believable. When the words care, the listener trusts the speaker and is willing to be influenced, even led. Trust is based on history, else it's just blind optimism. The latter must be a choice. A promise that things will be different will have to cross the span of doubt and not be enraged. No one can feel entitled to another's trust. It must be sought, earned, built and maintained. Constantly. Violation of consent (including forcing what is not yet trusted) doesn't engender trust either. We are experiencing a time when the letter of the law is being brandished like a weapon. Weapons do not inspire trust. The law is a body of words and like all words, only a net attempting to cover something as fluid as human living. The policy may be worded in an airtight way. But trust has not been earned or even sought. Violence will never beget trust; only fear. How can one trust a person, a policy or a party that fosters violence on unarmed civilians, students or anyone who says NO? "Democracy, for the people, by the people." It's not democracy if the people it's for, don't trust the people it's by. I cannot challenge words being said anymore than voters challenge election promises. It's not words I protest. It's the fact that I have seen discrimination and I don't believe it can be true freedom. It's the fact that I've experienced silencing and that is the exact opposite ofย  trust seeking. I see my trust being demanded, bullied out of me and because of this, I cannot trust. No other words matter. #theideasmithy #CAAprotestsย  #letsbringthekashtaback #slingitlikeitshot #kashtachallenge

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

Island

I am not made for distances and arm’s lengths and fleeting glimpses through windows made of wood or bytes. When I love, it is tangible and solid. When I love is also a where.

I’ve been feeling disconnected from the city I’ve lived in my whole life. Now understand this is the same as my saying I’ve been feeling distanced from my body. Or disengaged from my thoughts. I’ve been feeling the way empty air probably feels when the shell around it cracks and crumbles away. The moistness, the humidity, the pungency, the saltiness of being held and beheld – where is one and who is one without it? I don’t know.

Two things happened this month, both on whim, which is itself a foreign inclination to me but what is foreign and what is natural when one is not a being or even an existence any more? Two times, whim struck me like a doorway that hadn’t been there and suddenly appeared. Both times, I walked through it.

ONE, I saw an Instagram post by a blogger acquaintance I’d met briefly years ago, about a city walk. I just picked up the phone and dialled a stranger and asked if I could join them. And then I picked myself up and walked into a part of the city I’d never been to before. And out there, the tumult inside died away. Out in the big city, I found my quiet again.

TWO, I woke up from a medication-induced haze to a world of hate & anger. I made myself sit in the place of slowness and peace I’ve looked for all year. Then I heard that my counter-city, the one that feels most like my foe had been silenced. And I was seized by something. Rage? Worry? Solidarity? I don’t know. I just opened the door and walked out and into a crowd that flowed from the train, swelled to a throng, the sound of feet becoming voices, angry but never violent.

The first time I stood away from the crowd, realising fully the water borders that make this city an island. The second time, I dissolved into the crowd, understanding the land lines that represented power and anger.

Both times, the island and I became one. And just like that I am in love again. My city and I, we float. Always.

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ISLAND I am not made for distances and arm's lengths and fleeting glimpses through windows made of wood or bytes. When I love, it is tangible and solid. When I love is also a where. I've been feeling disconnected from the city I've lived in my whole life. Now understand this is the same as my saying I've been feeling distanced from my body. Or disengaged from my thoughts. I've been feeling the way empty air probably feels when the shell around it cracks and crumbles away. The moistness, the humidity, the pungency, the saltiness of being held and beheld – where is one and who is one without it? I don't know. Two things happened this month, both on whim, which is itself a foreign inclination to me but what is foreign and what is natural when one is not a being or even an existence any more? Two times, whim struck me like a doorway that hadn't been there and suddenly appeared. Both times, I walked through it. ONE, I saw an Instagram post by a blogger acquaintance I'd met briefly years ago, about a city walk. I just picked up the phone and dialled a stranger and asked if I could join them. And then I picked myself up and walked into a part of the city I'd never been to before. And out there, the tumult inside died away. Out in the big city, I found my quiet again. TWO, I woke up from a medication-induced haze to a world of hate & anger. I made myself sit in the place of slowness and peace I've looked for all year. Then I heard that my counter-city, the one that feels most like my foe had been silenced. And I was seized by something. Rage? Worry? Solidarity? I don't know. I just opened the door and walked out and into a crowd that flowed from the train, swelled to a throng, the sound of feet becoming voices, angry but never violent. The first time I stood away from the crowd, realising fully the water borders that make this city an island. The second time, I dissolved into the crowd, understanding the land lines that represented power and anger. Both times, the island and I became one. And just like that I am in love again. My city and I, we float. Always ๐Ÿ“ธ: @mumbaipaused ๐ŸŽถ: HOW LONG WILL I LOVE YOU – Ellie Goulding #theideasmithy

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

The FOMO Life

We are a generation of people identifed by our tastes and experiences. Not our ethnicity, religion, education or even profession. So it becomes a matter of personal identity to have experienced certain things. To be the person that carries the entire bibliography of a particular genre. To use an artist’s song lyrics as our calling cards. To trade Easter eggs instead of actual conversations.

We build a collage of experiences instead of an identity. We think we are validating these artists, brands, organisations. But we’re holding them up as signboards of our own identity. It may feel like an attack to encounter someone who doesn’t value the experiences we do. And for safety in numbers, we go with the most popular experiences. We allow FOMO to be the prime dictator of our choices.

FOMO (or Fear of Missing Out) is not a good identifier of taste, let alone an actual description of personality. All FOMO does is aid marketers by making you believe that you are worthless, even non-existent unless you consume and espouse their brands. FOMO makes us buy overpriced tickets to shows we don’t enjoy, events we don’t understand and brag about trips we barely cared about. We fear so much being ridiculed for saying this doesn’t work for me. It’s a case of The Emperor’s New Clothes and no one wants to be the honest kid pointing out the emperor is naked.

Consider this. You are not the books you read, the movies you love, the songs you play, the restaurants you patronise. Your tribe is not people who huddle under the same brands, whose money funds the same causes. Your existence is not dependent on what brands show up on your credit card bills, what fandoms enjoy your membership.

You are a person that wants entertainment, learning, belonging, laughter, joy. Your tribe is people who give you that and who receive that from you without an element of transaction. What these mean is your life’s journey to discover and express.

Fear of missing out? There’s no room for fear when you know every moment is an experience.

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THE FOMO LIFE We are a generation of people identifed by our tastes and experiences. Not our ethnicity, religion, education or even profession. So it becomes a matter of personal identity to have experienced certain things. To be the person that carries the entire bibliography of a particular genre. To use an artist's song lyrics as our calling cards. To trade Easter eggs instead of actual conversations. We build a collage of experiences instead of an identity. We think we are validating these artists, brands, organisations. But we're holding them up as signboards of our own identity. It may feel like an attack to encounter someone who doesn't value the experiences we do. And for safety in numbers, we go with the most popular experiences. We allow FOMO to be the prime dictator of our choices. FOMO (or Fear of Missing Out) is not a good identifier of taste, let alone an actual description of personality. All FOMO does is aid marketers by making you believe that you are worthless, even non-existent unless you consume and espouse their brands. FOMO makes us buy overpriced tickets to shows we don't enjoy, events we don't understand and brag about trips we barely cared about. We fear so much being ridiculed for saying this doesn't work for me. It's a case of The Emperor's New Clothes and no one wants to be the honest kid pointing out the emperor is naked. Consider this. You are not the books you read, the movies you love, the songs you play, the restaurants you patronise. Your tribe is not people who huddle under the same brands, whose money funds the same causes. Your existence is not dependent on what brands show up on your credit card bills, what fandoms enjoy your membership. You are a person that wants entertainment, learning, belonging, laughter, joy. Your tribe is people who give you that and who receive that from you without an element of transaction. What these mean is your life's journey to discover and express. Fear of missing out? There's no room for fear when you know every moment is an experience. ๐Ÿ“ธ: @neharamneekkapoor ๐ŸŽถ: BULLA KI JAANA MAIN KAUN – Rabbi Shergill #theideasmithy

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

A DIY Relationship

We don’t think enough about friendship. What this word means, what we need from it, what version of it we offer. Maybe that’s part of its charm, the way friendship is a DIY kind of relationship that you can tailor to your needs, your personality and the other’s.

I’ve called a wide variety of people, Friend. My friendship life (we have love lives so why not friendship lives?) has spanned a diverse range of personality types and interaction.ย I see other people as exciting adventures, ones that may involve treasure chests or spectacular views or life-altering events. So I’m usually open to going wherever the ride takes me. Like many, I like having common interests with other people but I find this doesn’t have to have anything to do with friendship. I also want to think I prize loyalty & honesty but the truthย is, I’ve been equally enchanted by people who possess not an iota of these qualities.

If you were to ask my friends what kind of a friend I am, I doubt you’d get a consensus. I play confidant to one. I’m partner in crime with another. I’m a drinking buddy here, a writing partner there. I’m an ego massage, a safe space, a commiserator, a compatriot in a cause. I’m a fellow water sign, a steady date to awkward events, a fun companion for mundane errands, an available voice on the phone, a knowledgeable advisor. I want to believe everybody who calls me friend feels that I add value to their lives. In how this happens though, I can’t discern a pattern.

So what does friendship mean to me? I think the world is a very large and exciting and sometimes frightening place. Companionship makes it easier, more fun. I love having the freedom to design the companionship I want to participate in, for various areas & times in my life.

I’m also a big one for blind spots. We all have them and we miss our own. It takes another person, someone invested in you but not biased. A friend. Sometimes all you can offer is perspective. And maybe that is enough.

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A DIY RELATIONSHIP We don't think enough about friendship. What this word means, what we need from it, what version of it we offer. Maybe that's part of its charm, the way friendship is a DIY kind of relationship that you can tailor to your needs, your personality and the other's. I've called a wide variety of people, Friend. My friendship life (we have love lives so why not friendship lives?) has spanned a diverse range of personality types and interaction. I see other people as exciting adventures, ones that may involve treasure chests or spectacular views or life-altering events. So I'm usually open to going wherever the ride takes me. Like many, I like having common interests with other people but I find this doesn't have to have anything to do with friendship. I also want to think I prize loyalty & honesty but the truth is, I've been equally enchanted by people who possess not an iota of these qualities. If you were to ask my friends what kind of a friend I am, I doubt you'd get a consensus. I play confidant to one. I'm partner in crime with another. I'm a drinking buddy here, a writing partner there. I'm an ego massage, a safe space, a commiserator, a compatriot in a cause. I'm a fellow water sign, a steady date to awkward events, a fun companion for mundane errands, an available voice on the phone, a knowledgeable advisor. I want to believe everybody who calls me friend feels that I add value to their lives. In how this happens though, I can't discern a pattern. So what does friendship mean to me? I think the world is a very large and exciting and sometimes frightening place. Companionship makes it easier, more fun. I love having the freedom to design the companionship I want to participate in, for various areas & times in my life. I'm also a big one for blind spots. We all have them and we miss our own. It takes another person, someone invested in you but not biased. A friend. Sometimes all you can offer is perspective. And maybe that is enough. Hands: @shaunwilliamsi ๐ŸŽถ: STAND BY ME – Ben E.King #theideasmithy #friend #friendship #friends #friendships #friendshipgoals #bff #friendly #relationshipgoals #relationshipquotes #relationships

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

Where I Lay My Hands, Is Home

Much gets said about the frenzied pace of a metropolis and its coldness. But every big city is an organism of parallel layers, bubbles even, that jostle along, seemingly oblivious to the others’ presence. My city is Tinsel Town, it’s the financial capital, it’s the safest city, it’s a port, a tropical island, an organised crime base, a place starved for time and space and a mental border between South and North India. I inhabit a few of these bubbles and only occasionally, with great effort, do I cross over to the others. Because they are all Mumbai and anything that is Mumbai is mine to witness, to touch and experience and love.

In 2009, the BMC, Mumbai’s civic body invited citizens to come paint the walls of an arterial road abutting the railway track. I jumped at the opportunity to splash paint and spend a day on the streets. A lot of friendships were made that day that we spent whitewashing, priming and rendering street art on the rough wall of Tulsi Pipe Road.

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WHERE I LAY MY HANDS, IS HOME Much gets said about the frenzied pace of a metropolis and its coldness. But every big city is an organism of parallel layers, bubbles even, that jostle along, seemingly oblivious to the others' presence. My city is Tinsel Town, it's the financial capital, it's the safest city, it's a port, a tropical island, an organised crime base, a place starved for time and space and a mental border between South and North India. I inhabit a few of these bubbles and only occasionally, with great effort, do I cross over to the others. Because they are all Mumbai and anything that is Mumbai is mine to witness, to touch and experience and love. In 2009, the BMC, Mumbai's civic body invited citizens to come paint the walls of an arterial road abutting the railway track. I jumped at the opportunity to splash paint and spend a day on the streets. A lot of friendships were made that day that we spent whitewashing, priming and rendering street art on the rough wall of Tulsi Pipe Road. The paint has since worn away and been covered and recovered with other such wall projects. The pavement dwellers who were displaced for this day of fun for the more affluent, have eked out their homes again too. Bollywood posters come up now and then and in the past year, election campaigns as well. The city grows and breathes with every newcomer here. I just got to lay my handprint on it for a day. Even if it lies buried under layers of others, the city and I communed that day in September. ๐Ÿ“ท: @wanderblah ๐ŸŽถ: MA REWA – Indian Ocean #theideasmithy

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The paint has since worn away and been covered and recovered with other such wall projects. The pavement dwellers who were displaced for this day of fun for the more affluent, have eked out their homes again too. Bollywood posters come up now and then and in the past year, election campaigns as well.

The city grows and breathes with every newcomer here. I just got to lay my handprint on it for a day. Even if it lies buried under layers of others, the city and I communed that day in September.

Featured image picture credit: Shirley Dcosta

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

Goodnight Mumbai, My City Self

I love this city in a way that I have never been able to love a human being. Even to call it love feels facetious because it feels silly to say I love myself in a way I’ve never loved another.

I live inside a body and a name and a lifestyle that people identify as me. But these are mere identifiers, a hat & spectacles placed over an invisible being as a visibility courtesy to other people. These are not me, they merely symbolise me. Ostensibly, they protect me from the universe running over me by mistake but really, they protect other people by alerting them to the scary presence of another.

ME – this is what I know in an innate sense that defies words and expression. The closest I can come to it is this geopolitically defined, this culturally denoted, this statistically demarcated, this verbally described experience called Mumbai.

In 24 hours, this city (and I) go to vote for one of the most shouted about elections in recent times. Relationships have ended, allegiances wrought & broken and people have even died for this. And after that, true to our name, we’ll go to work, to school and to places we must be so the system runs. So we run.

What is a city, after all? It’s more than its people and its buildings and its location and its numbers. It transcends what is written and spoken about it. And if it is a city that you have lived in your whole life, it defines you and you in loving harmony, define it back. Just like every drop defines the ocean and the ocean is every single drop. I feel the way Mumbai feels, every second.

I feel most at peace in the nights here. One of the labels hung on my city is after all, the city which never sleeps. I am awake and watching the city’s nights as its noise transitions from tinny, metallic horns and the tang of concrete to deep bass breathing and the rumble of machines coming to a stop. The night is defined by my wakefulness and by the sleep of every one of the others who are it.

Sleep, my place-self. Sleep the sleep of island magic and moonlit sonatas. Mumbai sleeps.

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GOODNIGHT, MUMBAI, MY CITY-SELF I love this city in a way that I have never been able to love a human being. Even to call it love feels facetious because it feels silly to say I love myself in a way I've never loved another. I live inside a body and a name and a lifestyle that people identify as me. But these are mere identifiers, a hat & spectacles placed over an invisible being as a visibility courtesy to other people. These are not me, they merely symbolise me. Ostensibly, they protect me from the universe running over me by mistake but really, they protect other people by alerting them to the scary presence of another. ME – this is what I know in an innate sense that defies words and expression. The closest I can come to it is this geopolitically defined, this culturally denoted, this statistically demarcated, this verbally described experience called Mumbai. In 24 hours, this city (and I) go to vote for one of the most shouted about elections in recent times. Relationships have ended, allegiances wrought & broken and people have even died for this. And after that, true to our name, we'll go to work, to school and to places we must be so the system runs. So we run. What is a city, after all? It's more than its people and its buildings and its location and its numbers. It transcends what is written and spoken about it.ย And if it is a city that you have lived in your whole life, it defines you and you in loving harmony, define it back. Just like every drop defines the ocean and the ocean is every single drop.ย I feel the way Mumbai feels, every second. I feel most at peace in the nights here. One of the labels hung on my city is after all, the city which never sleeps. I am awake and watching the city's nights as its noise transitions from tinny, metallic horns andย theย tangย of concrete to deep bass breathing and the rumble of machines coming to a stop. The night is defined by my wakefulness and by the sleep of every one of the others who are it. Sleep, my place-self. Sleep the sleep of island magic and moonlit sonatas. Mumbai sleeps. ———————————————- ๐ŸŽถ: THE SOUND OF SILENCE – Simon & Garfunkel #theideasmithy #WHPGoingPlaces

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

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