Category Archives: Diary of a Writer

Trust. Friend. Forgiveness. Truth. And Some.

I haven’t written in over a month. And the first quarter of this year is almost over already. Well, it hasn’t actually been bad. Not if you refuse to think of “May you live in interesting times” as a curse.

One thing that I did this year was to stop trying to control everything and let myself trust more. The tricky bit of this is figuring out how much of it is trust in the universe and how much of it becomes laziness. As any control freak knows, there’s always a hidden lazy bum ready to slouch out and take over your life. But I’m learning.

I made a new friend. That is a big thing because my sociable personality and persona notwithstanding, there are very few people I actually feel a connection to. And this connection is exactly the same as falling in love. I fall in friendship. Talking to this person every day in a way that feels non-threatening to me helps me reflect on who I’m becoming. Know that feeling? No? It’s rare because people like me, we’re so busy falling into people and glorying in the sheer joy of it that we forget to stop and reflect on what an amazing process it is to dissolve and have another person dissolve with you.

Someone who hurt me came back. They always do. Especially the men. We are unfinished stories and people must come back to complete them, karmically speaking or otherwise. I don’t know if I am ready to forgive. I will probably need to, eventually. I’d forgotten, which struck me as a convenient way to get around this HARRRRD business of forgiveness. But life gets the better of me and send me back into the detention room of having to face what I don’t want to and forgive those who have sinned against me.

I don’t feel vindictive, though. The people who hurt me, are poisoning the pool around me, that pool of trust and joy and relating. They influence the space they inhabit, that contains me too. And if that is possible, it must be equally possible for me to influence the space back. And I choose positivity. I choose grace. I choose hope. I choose laughter. I am yet to learn gentleness and compassion. But I’m sure someone, somewhere else in these spaces will bring those to the pool and we will all benefit. For my part, I do my part and bring the best of me to my world.

I have actually been writing, though. Everyday almost. The YourQuote app may just be my flavour of the quarter (given that I’ve been on it for over a month). But I have been posting a short picture-poem every single day. I’ve been featured a few times as part of the best selections of the day. And once those overachiever milestones have been chalked up, I’m moving on to exploring the format, the medium. I like it. I’m doing pretty words but I am also telling the truth. Go, follow me. The truth gets easier to say if you stay in one place and just like the stage, this app has become an alternate safe space for my feeling-thoughts.

This post ends here and it’s messy and meandering. But every now and then it feels good to let this part of me slither out in between the pretty poetry bits and the hard-hitting declarations. This is me. Be well, you.

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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.

Bit Poetry & Bytes of EyeCandy

It turns out I can do pretty poetry, as long as it’s in small doses. Sudeep Pagedar pointed me in the direction of YourQuote and their daily word prompt has been giving me a reason to post a daily micropoem.

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

You can follow these on my Instagram feed

A post shared by Ramya Pandyan (@ideasmithy) on

Or my Facebook album

Or my Twitter feed.

Here are the links again: You can follow my micropoetry on the YourQuote app, on my Facebook album or as they appear on InstagramTwitter or the Facebook Page of this blog.

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Aren’t You Glad I’m Not Carrie?

I tell people being an only child made me a reader because there was nothing much for a kid in 80s to do. I tell them I grew up in an environment surrounded by books so it was inevitable I’d become a reader. I say being a writer is a subset of being a reader and I’m even more voracious than I’m prolific. But the truth is, like the category of this post is called, my soulmate truly is a book. Books have appeared, like guardian angels or fairy godmothers (whichever mythical being you like better) in my life at opportune times with appropriate messages. People and situations now feel like illustrations of whatever the books I’m reading are trying to teach me.

A fortnight ago, Vivek Jejuja put out a call asking for people with whom to discuss Stephen King’s Carrie. I haven’t been a fan of Stephen King for a number of reasons I’ll explain later. But I have been dying for a book conversation and I have been wanting an inroad to get to know the magnificent Vivekisms (who is already a good friend, only he didn’t know it yet). So I bought the book.

In the same week, an old school classmate called to tell me about a high school reunion. These two events are significant but only if you know what the book is about. So if you haven’t read the book and plan to, here’s your SPOILER ALERT.

I was far from being the popular kid in school. By far I mean, the exact opposite. I know a lot of people now who lament that nobody knew them in school. That’s really not the worst thing to happen to a child. The worst thing to happen to a child is other children who know you but not as someone they want to be nice to.

I am not going to lament the tortures I suffered in classrooms. I know that children have no perspective on the future or morals. I know a lot of them grew up to be pretty decent adults. And like the characters in ‘Carrie’, many of them probably didn’t even realise what was happening and if they’d thought about it, they’d be as remorseful. The big problem with bullying and harassment is that they look disproportionately different depending on which side of the fence you’re standing on.

Last year I was added to a school Whatsapp group and I had a firsthand experience of why this is a groanworthy ordeal for us digi-nerds. My phone was pinging at all hours of the day and night with 768 notifications from people from all over the world, the messages ranging from “HELLO GM! Sooo great to see everyone here!” to selfies to “Who’s here? Oh him!” I bore well with it for 2 days, setting it on mute even as it annoyed me. I am one of those people who only relaxes when all notifications have been cleared, unread emails/messages read and responded to and so on. Then one more member was added and the string of “Hi!”, “What’s up with you?”s began before he asked the inevitable “Who else is already here?” (honestly, can 37 year olds not figure out how to go to the Members list on a Whatapp group?). I groaned at the slew of repeat introductions, repeat-repeats and interruptions that would follow. Someone said “Ramya’s here too.” To which he responded,

“What? Buck-teeth Ramya?”

I stayed on the group another hour, long enough to read people’s sniggers, someone else say, “Dude, she’s here and can read your message” and his “haha, just kidding” followed by awkward silence on a group that had been pinging nonstop for 2 days. I shouldn’t have wasted even that hour before I took myself off the group.

I have learnt that people have zero empathy. I have learnt that people like to play ‘My woes are worse than yours’ which is the death of that thing called empathy. And I can tell that that boy (if I think of him as a man, it will make thinking about the human race too sad) doesn’t even think he did anything wrong. Who is laughing at a joke about somebody’s bad teeth? Everybody. Because this is not about bad teeth, body shaming or any of those things. It’s about getting used to treating people one way and logic, empathy or even human fairness be damned. It’s about robbing a person of who they want to be and forcing them into an unpleasant role for your own entertainment.

I’ve been troubled ever since I received the invitation to the school reunion, not wanting to seem petulant, wanting to be that ‘good sport’. But I realised as I read Carrie, that this was never going to change. People who saw me a certain way as children, are never going to see me differently. They will react badly if I try to get them to do so. High school reunions are for those who were cool in school. But if their lives continue to be so wonderful, why do need to go back to their childhood/adolescent selves? And how are they going to behave in order to fulfil that need?

chool was possibly the worst time of my life and that’s counting abusive relationships, dirty politics at work, unemployment and people I know dying. I had agency in all those cases, even if only over how I could respond. I had none in those horrible years between 3 and 16. I have no desire to relive it.

I do not have Carrie’s powers and that’s a good thing for the world. It’s time life started being things that were good for me too. So on Saturday, I chose not to go to the school reunion and spent it reading Carrie instead. Thank you, Vivek, for two new friends – you and a book. 😊

Here’s my review of the book:

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CarrieCarrie by Stephen King

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I have been skeptical about Stephen King for over a decade now, mostly because I read ‘Misery’ at 20 during a breakup and just when I was working to be a writer. Years later, I read ‘Dreamcatcher’ which even King fans tell me is not one of his good ones. A friend asked me to read ‘Carrie’ so I could discuss it with him, so I decided to give King novels another chance. I’m glad I did.

Much has been made about the first period experience, which triggers off the plot of this story. Stephen King does a commendable job, as a male writer, of highlighting girl/women’s trauma. Parts of it still had me thinking, “No, that’s not what a period feels like. A man obviously wrote this.”

For me, the more interesting parts were the rabid religious beliefs and the effects of toxic/abusive upbringing on a child. What set this story apart for me is that it tells of such a child who did rebel and break out of it (even if, with disastrous results).

The bullying aspect also felt realistic, not painting the bullies as bad people but just people caught up in things that they don’t think about and regret later.

And finally, there was the semi-epistolary narrative (the story switches between excerpts of news reports and actual plot). It felt like a bit too much emphasis on Carrie, the WEIRD one. But perhaps the novel wouldn’t have been as impactful without it.

I can see why Stephen King is considered one of the best popular fiction writers of out times. And I definitely intend to check out his other books now.

View all my reviews

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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.

The Politics Of Cinema: Ideas, Influence & Agenda

Today I was asked to be part of a debate on Salman Khan’s statement that Pakistani actors are not terrorists and hence should not be asked to leave the country. I couldn’t make it to the event after all but it did force me to think about what my stance was.

My first thought was that the arts have nothing to do with politics and should not be interfered with, by politicians. But over the course of the evening, I had a chance to remember that artists and performers wield such influence that we may also bear moral responsibility for our personal ideas, beliefs and actions. Politics after all, is not just for politicians. Politics is every knotty dilemma, every complex life experience. Every single one of us ascribes to certain politics, whether we’ve reasoned them out or not, whether we live them out deliberately or under duress.

I’d be the last person in the room you’d call a cinephile (I prefer books). But I can’t deny the mass influence they wield. Three movies that I watched in the past month made me think about how they’re permanent chronicles of social mores. Especially so because they all came out in the 90s (a decade that doesn’t seem like that long ago). All three are movies I watched when they first came out, enjoyed tremendously and have watched again several times over the years.

Statements About Race

The first was Independence Day, that alien-bashing saga we all loved. It only struck me recently how independence_day_moviepostermathematically precise the film’s racial ratio was. The 80s started making a point about black/white integration. Remember the episode in ‘Small Wonder’ where a potential rich (and WASPy) employer comments on Jamie Lawson’s best friend being black and how such things would never happen in their new neighborhood?

By the 90s, it had gotten subtler and maybe storytellers were not supposed to point out how racially integrated they were. And enter Independence Day with one studly, wisecracking black male lead (Will Smith), one hunky, intellectual Jewish male lead (Jeff Goldblum) and one golden WASP male lead(Bill Pullman). Each man was paired up with a colour-coordinated female character. Is that how world is? Ha, no.

Mainstream Hollywood movies settled into all-white or all-black movies with token representation of the other racial group and barely-there nods to other racial communities. There’s a rare movie like Hitch which had a black male lead and a Hispanic female lead but did not once touch on the issue of race. Tokenism is so real, it’s an actual word.

Gender Politics in Bollywood

The second film I thought of was Rehna Hain Tere Dil Mein, which was rehna-hai-tere-dil-meinMadhavan’s entry into Bollywood. For years I have loved the film and enjoyed its music and its droolworthy hero (a Tamilian man can look like that??!). Sometime in the last decade I began thinking the story was a bit dated. Maddy’s lies (such a crucial part of the plot) started to bother me a few years ago. But it was only in my last viewing, that I was truly appalled. RHTDM is the story of a stalker with a history of violence who has no qualms about lying, cheating or misogyny. And I’ve been ingesting its narrative as a romantic film. I will never watch this movie with pleasure again. As for Madhavan, the actor. I can’t think of him as anything but Stalker Maddy anymore.

Transphobia or Awareness?

And finally, I just finished watching Mrs.Doubtfire. On this mrs-doubtfiremovie’s politics, I’m not sure. On this last viewing, I caught a subtle thread of antagonism towards the trans community. When Chris accidentally walks in on Mrs.Doubtfire peeing standing up, he reacts as if there is a criminal in the house. His sister Lydia automatically grabs a hockey stick, wielding it as a weapon. Robin Williams explains his actions and the situation is resolved. But the whole thing has an air of ‘I’m dad in disguise. I’m not really abnormal.’ He even says

“I don’t dress up like this all the time or frequent old lady bars.”

When the judge pronounces his ruling, he takes away custody because he wants to protect the children from unsavoury influences (not from a person who lies). All implying that a man who dresses like a woman is abnormal, unsavoury or a criminal.

At the same time, I can also see how revolutionary it was (still is) for a popular male actor to play a female character and do it without parody. The film deals with divorce and relationship breakdowns in a very sensitive way, projecting neither parent as bad but just victims of a broken relationship. It even makes me wonder whether transphobic attitudes were being subtly mocked. I really don’t know.

Cinema is a commercial medium and movies have to find ways to make money for their makers. They have to do this by catching attention and popular fancy but also by avoiding unpalatable ideas.

The politics of a Salman Khan

I was asked “Do you support Salman Khan?” and my answer is a definite NO. I have a problem with his history of partner abuse, endangered species killing, violence towards the media and of course, American Express bakery. I have boycotted Salman Khan films for over a decade (making a single exception for Dabangg). My politics do not permit me to support his work by paying for tickets, and that means I’ve brought politics into art too.

I’m still undecided on the original question, a prerogative I get to keep if I’m not on a debate. And here’s something of interest I found while considering the question (‘Dear India, Pakistani actors don’t need Bollywood to become stars‘). Let’s not forget that this is about economics and power, not justice.

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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.

 

Why Are So Many Mumbaikers Desperate To Kill Time?

Around a fortnight ago, a Caferati feedback meet I was at, was disrupted by a newcomer who started shouting at all of us and attacking us for giving feedback. It was deeply unpleasant and ruined the evening for everyone else. I wrote it off as that person being the kind of anamoly that one sometimes has to encounter. Why else would someone attack a feedback group for giving feedback?
Today, I’ve just declined nearly 50 requests to join Alphabet Sambar because they don’t write. Over the past few months, we’ve been getting a lot of requests and true to our original premise, we try and welcome everyone. But we’ve been getting a lot of irrelevant messages like “Good morning, have a great day”, jokes and pictures of food that have nothing to do with writing. Do people not understand how interest groups work? This by the way, is despite the fact that Alphabet Sambar has a very clearly stated description including the sentence ‘Please consider joining only if you yourself write‘.
 
At most offline events I go to (social media meets, board games events, standup comedy shows, poetry events, music events, bicycling trips), there is always a sizeable number of people who have no interest in what’s going on. What’s a person who doesn’t bicycle doing on a trip? Or someone who thinks board games are boring and stupid, spending an evening where everyone is at a board? 
We could crib about the general uselessness of people who only disrupt proceedings and don’t contribute. Enough has been said about desperate Indian men who only want ‘to make fransheep’. But I think there’s something larger at play.
 
A lot of urban Indians are desperate for companionship, a normal human need. But many of them also lack tangible hobbies, interests, ideas of their own or social skills. They mob places that other people go to, in some sort of dim hope of making connections. They don’t know what to say or what to do. Sometimes this comes through as gaucherie, sometimes it’s aggression. And it causes further animosity, politics and exclusivity with the original activity or hobby being completely lost.
Before you think I’m making a mountain out of a molehill, I’m basing this is on massive numbers of people who seem to have no reason to be at some of these events but are. Isn’t there a problem if, in a time-starved city, there are so many people just looking for ways to kill time? A hobby is a very important part of making a human being, a well-rounded one. Many of these people I encounter are well-educated and successful. But they appear to be nothing beyond their careers and their families. How is it that having an identity beyond one’s source of income is such a rare thing?
I don’t know other cities adequately but I’m told by friends and associates that it’s no different in Delhi or Bangalore. Are we making a country of people completely deficient in the vital skills of being human? Something feels terribly wrong.

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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.

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 Reema 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. 😀 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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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.

The Moody Artist Cliche

This great myth of the tortured artist, the starving writer, the moody creator needs to be debunked once and for all. ‘Artistic temperament’ if it is a thing, has to do with being sensitive to the environment and creating from it; not using sensitivity as an excuse to be a douche. Disrespect, cliquishness, sneering, condescension – all of these are hallmarks of very limited human beings. Creators of every kind are people who take civilisation forward. An artist’s role is to hold a mirror up to society, to examine the experience of being human. One cannot do that unless one is first and foremost, a stable, sane human being.
 
Years ago, at a music event, my friend Amit Ahuja told me that as an artist, one must respect other artists and the sanctity of the space/forum/platform that allows artists to create. Jai Ranjit is a painter who also supports music, dance and writing and I’ve only ever heard good things from him about other creators. So much of my love for Manisha Lakhe and Suniti Joshi comes from the fact that they were respectful and supportive of what I created even though when we met, I was a newbie writer and they were veterans.
 
My avoidance of hiphop comes from an obvious source who believed in putting down every other artist and art form around. I now know that such behaviour stems from extreme insecurity and what kind of artistic reflection can one hope for from such an incomplete person? Hiphop, like every other form of art is independent of its practitioners flaws.
 
And in more recent times, there are poets and performers who show up at events only to perform and leave immediately. Thankfully, the spaces I frequent discourage this behaviour and extend their welcome to all manner of artists. Alphabet Sambar has very strict rules about listening and supporting other writers, in addition to taking one’s own work forward.
 
I hope more creators will stop chasing a glamorous (unhealthy) ideal and focus on their art/craft instead. And please, if you are a reader, listener, connoisseur of any kind of art form, stop enabling this negative behaviour and help us make better art instead.

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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.

A Retro Generation

Burnt Out Firecrackers & Faded Flowers

I was watching The Wonder Years. In 1968, a generation battled the one before it for identity, for a different set of values and for a new future. Just like every other generation before and after it. They walked protest marches, slipped flowers into their hair and into guns, wrote about love, peace, sex and freedom. They raged against a system and predicted doom. They opposed war with music, authority with searing stories. They challenged authority for lives other than their own.

I had a conversation with dad last month. We were on our way to watch a play and we had to park a few streets away. As we crossed the road, he brushed my shoulder and he winced. The metal studs on my faux leather vest had scraped his arm.

“What is this nonsense you’re wearing?”

“Don’t blame me. Your generation is the one that brought metal rivets, leather jackets and angry music into vogue. I’m just doing retro.”

He grinned and then, on a note of whimsy, he said,

“It was protest against things that were wrong. Against war, genocide, dirty politics.”

“It was rebellion. Just like every other generation.”

Then Prithvi loomed into sight and the conversation changed. But I’m not sure I believe my own words. What does my generation protest against? Theirs got it right, didn’t they? Yes, it’s true they succumbed. But they were young. What did mine do other than assert its differentness by parodying the same thing?

I think our differences hit home with the conversation we had over dinner after the play too. The play was Chinese Coffee (two actors only, both friends of mine – Danish Husain, Vrajesh Hirjee).

Quick to put a label on things the minute we walked out, I said,

“Well, that was a bit heavy. It’s the writerly angst thing, how we let ourselves get eaten by paranoia, how we feed off each other, how we cannot let it go and be normal human beings, how we must relish the drama of torment and be parasites on each other.”

The pater was uncharacteristically full of praise, not gushing (he never does that). He pointed out that the audience had been kept spellbound by just two actors, a simple set, no major action, only conversation and an extremely abstract idea. That’s real finesse, he said, genuine admiration for both actors.

What he said made me realise how much I’m a part of that extremely cynical analysis I offered up. Look at how hardbitten I am about a story that’s basically about me, created and delivered by people just like me, my friends. And I’m supposed to one of the sensitive ones.

It’s not a healthy life, being a writer today and I don’t mean in terms of calories, blood pressure and inches (though it’s that too). It’s the relentless cutting of self and others that we euphemistically call editing life. It’s insecurity that is supposed to fuel us instead of crippling us like it would any normal human being. It’s paranoia and shame over not doing something either valuable like our peers or meaningful like the writers before us. But with my generation, it’s also watching readership stats, subscriber counts, follower counts and hashtag campaigns. It’s dealing with trolling and being a troll and telling both sides of a story and yelling both of them out. It’s sneering at every single label while being nothing more than a paste album for labels. The branded products we use, the branded causes we support, the branded groups we align with, the branded disdain we profess for brands not our own. It’s bullshit.

1984 is here and so’s the Big Brother, only he’s called Google. Well, The Hitchhiker’s Guide is here too and it’s called Wikipedia and just as predicted, no one takes it seriously. Need I say any more? What can I possibly say that would even have a chance of being fresh as well as hopeful for the future? As a writer, all that’s left for me to do is to fashion old ideas into flashy forms that dazzle the current audience and dress it up with a label called ‘retro’.

Where are our values? Our hopes, our dreams, our unique ideal that guides humanity forward, the way a new generation should for humanity? No. I think we’re the anticlimax after humanity’s last gasp of the flower power generation. Come millenium and we’re just riding the downturn of a burnt out firecracker crashing to ground.

Look at how melodramatic and verbose all that is. Look at me editing myself. Look at us burn. Perhaps self-loathing is the only lesson my generation holds for humanity. What else is left to do after the flowers are gone?

[Note – I’m sorry I’m not kinder, Vrajesh and Dan, but I wonder if our generation has the capacity to think beyond recycled opinion to things as original as kindness. Your play and my father’s words made me think of all of this.]

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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 andInstagram.

Paper Towns

…is the name of a book by the guy who wrote ‘The Fault In Our Stars’. I happened to mention what an amazing title that was and what a shitty book it turned out to be. My AlphabetSambar peeps suggested we reclaim it by writing something else around it. And Sunday served up the perfect post to match the title.

Over dinner, one of the writers proclaimed that Spoken Word was shallow. He wouldn’t or couldn’t explain why. It bothered me that a person of words would be so loose with their ideas, so thoughtless with their thoughts. To my mind, a writer is the explorer of thought, the wielder of words. How can we allow ourselves the luxury of treating them so carelessly?

It bothered me because now I will question everything I read or hear from this person. If he doesn’t care about words, how can I trust him enough to let him take my mind on a journey? It bothered me that people let self-importance and ego limit their flights of fancy.

I enjoy gatherings of writers and artists for a lot of reasons. But the primary one is that I love being a part of people’s journeys. With this blog, I invite people into my own journey. At these events, I’m a hopeful mind traveller, waiting for anyone who wants to take me along on their journey. The quality of people’s writing doesn’t bother or touch me as much these days. I’m more intrigued by who they are shaping up to be in the process of journeying.

I met Anu after a really long time. The last time I saw her, she whispered in a conspiratorial tone that she was pregnant. Now she’s mother to a nine-month old and several poems and ideas but I haven’t met her in the interim. I enjoyed her performance. But most of all, I was moved beyond measure by how far she has come from when I saw her last – in her writing, in her body language, in who she is. I got to be a part of her journey almost two years ago when she joined Alphabet Sambar and from here on, her journey will always touch me.

These gatherings are also full of people I’ve come to think of as ‘career poets’. They’re in such a tearing hurry to achieve goals and form impressions, that somewhere they cease to move along on their journeys. I don’t like riding paper trails.

I called Adi, almost out of desperation on my way home. He listened gravely and then chuckled and said,

“You should be thrilled, not annoyed. It sounds like you got the best of the argument.”

Well, maybe I did. That’s nothing great. I have my share of weapons and tools that I can brandish. But I wasn’t looking for war, I was looking for an interesting journey. Still, I felt better at the end of the call because I realised what I was looking for when I called Adi. I was searching for a reminder that I was not alone, a single flesh-and-blood person in a world of paper promises and paper cuts and paperthin words.

Adi tends to have more placid reactions than mine but he also lives in a smaller, less frantic city than I do. I find this paperness in people everywhere I go – in the corporate world, the creative fields, the poetry circuit, my neighborhood, my social media communities. It’s relentless and sometimes I find myself feeling like I’m drowning in a sea of superficiality. I never learnt to swim in paper.

I miss Manisha when she isn’t around like she wasn’t this weekend. She represents my sole beacon of hope in the darkness of paper in creative gatherings. I admire her as a writer but she is more than her last accolade and the number of compliments people pay her. And through her dramatic moods, she never loses sight of that. Real people keep me sane in a town of paper people.

Home and a cool shower later, I feel somewhat saner. Perhaps it’s not fair to extrapolate this one incident. That would be such a paper thing to do too. People, especially those in their 20s are still getting tossed about in the reckless environment that is this city. Artists and writers frequently lose their sense of reality especially after their achieve some recognition. And (I hope) nobody is a paper person all the time. Maybe the next time I hear him speak, he will say something that will change my life or those of many people.

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