Tag Archives: Conversations

The Kindness Of September

September was kind.

I have had four milestone conversations in the last month. They’ve been hard, uncomfortable, cruel even. Why are we so cruel to each other? Out of fear, out of insecurity and from the mistaken assumption that caring is a finite resource that we need to dole out. But they needed to be had and I’m glad they have finally happened.

I’ve rewritten these events at least four times and then deleted them. I don’t see any point in talking about them any more. So, fresh start then. What does October hold? Less rain, I hope. We’ve had a good solid four months of monsoon and it’s really high time we see the sun.

I feel like I’ve really grown into Spoken Word. Running into the ex at at a performance was the last mental barrier to be breached. It did not kill me and it did not hurt my performance. The stage and I have built a gentle, loving relationship. Other people have tried to erode it and corrupt it in the past with excessive expectations, abuse, jealousy, rivalry, gender-based silencing and trolling. But September, September like I said, has been kind. My relationship with the stage (just like my relationship with another person) is my own and no one should be able to touch it.

I haven’t actually been writing as much in the past few weeks. But video has really taken off. It’s strange because I’ve never been a fan of the film medium. But the stories are lot easier to tell and they allow for several other things like sound and sight. Maybe it’s just the novelty. I have been sharing my performances, then my I Wear videos, general life snippets and soon, the outtakes too. Do hop over to my Youtube channel and check them out. I’m not doing this so much as a content professional as I am experimenting with a different medium of storytelling, just for fun.

The Tinder adventure has been great. I haven’t met anybody yet. But I’ve been having a few nice conversations. And what more can one ask from a social medium?

I guess the best thing about September has been that it has been a gateway through which I’ve felt able to move forward and out of the dark times of last year. Maybe goodbye is a kind word.

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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 Phone Call

My truth comes calling, on an international phone call
Sounding exactly like every other person who thinks
They have something important to say to me
Except this one always does
For sure, her words are truth, her truths truer.

She thinks I need to be better, work harder, be smarter at my job
I know, I know, I haven’t done it all yet
“Oh, didn’t they promise you that last month?”
I hate her for saying that
Hate her even more because it was 6 months back, not last month.

This was five days ago and I’m still frowning in my sleep
I know because when I wake up, my jaws hurt from clenching them
Every hour from midnight to seven, she reminds me,
“Wasn’t that promised to you 6 months ago?”
Every night she invades my dreams and every day she dogs me.

I won’t take her calls anymore, I decide, I’ll block her, delete her number even
Who needs this constant pressure?
And I plunge into being better, working harder and being smarter at my job
And hope and pray that it’ll help me forget
That she only ever remembers to call once a year.

A Conversational Weekend

The last time Adi was in town, I asked him,

“So what do you want to do?”

He sounded surprised, then he said,

“Errr, meet?”

“Yes, but what do you want to do?”

I persisted.

“Talk. Hang out. Chat. That’s all.”

he said.

Later we talked about this. He said that people in this city don’t seem to value conversations. It’s true. Mumbaikers are constantly chasing value for every aspect of their existence and what’s more precious than time? It beats even space. And we don’t appear to consider it a minute well-spent unless it is used to do something tangible.

People are always making plans to meet. Even leisure time is agenda-driven. Weekends are full of errands, bank work, shopping, mall-hopping, movies, dinner, lunch, brunch and the phlethora of meal-slash-events to attend to. It made me realize that I have very few actual conversations even in my chat-friendly, connection-happy life. Adi is one of the few people with whom I connect, not for work, not for a specific task, not for accompaniment on an activity, but just to talk. It’s true that we’re both writers and have reasonably flexible schedules. But we are both professionals in busy lives too.

This was a wonderful weekend in that regard. First, I spent Friday in the kind of work that gives me great pleasure – thinking collaboratively. I worked with people to understand their brands and consumer audiences. It was an intense 7-hour conversation that was absorbing, stimulating and fun.

Then Saturday arrived with a former colleague with lots of fun ideas camouflaged behind a lazy drawl. I accompanied her on a few errands. Then we sat down in a nondescript, tiny restaurant/shop and just talked. We talked about relationships, about growing up, about womanhood, about families and about how the world had changed so much from what we thought it would be like. We shared our respective anecdotes and angsty tales. We swapped funny, horrible stories about daily dramas. And we transitioned from ex-colleagues to friends.

Later, I met another old friend I hadn’t spoken to in a few months. Easy cushions, open windows and a coconut-flavored beverage make for the kind of comfortable setting that make complex conversations possible. We talked about love, about hurt, about guilt and of the ways we weave into, collide against and impact one another. We danced another tango in the sweet, almost-too-tender-to-bear relationship that this is.

Today another friend came calling, asking if I’d join her for breakfast. It was almost noon by the time we met and we ended up partaking of brunch. Brunch, I haven’t done that in a long time. So technically we were the ladies-that-brunch on a Sunday.

We lounged about, talking about work, about the Landmark programs that we’ve both been doing, about common friends. Then we refilled our plates and digested painful pasts with our ravioli. Afternoon arrived and we moved to a coffeeshop, where I brought out my pain, my past and the heaviness I didn’t even realize I carried, for an airing. She sat by and she listened. Then she gently offered answers, support, empathy. I listened, I ‘but-what-about’ed, I frowned, I smiled. She likened the state of being to a pig wallowing in its muck. I agreed. Then we got a coffee each and drained them dry.

It was getting to be a cool evening after a humid day. So we walked around, intending to go into the park nearby but the crowd drove us away. So instead, we tramped down the narrow lanes, over broken sidewalks and between double-parked cars. And we talked about belief systems, about books and about personal angst. It was 8pm when we finally said bye.

Gossip girls 2

I feel so much richer than I did on Thursday night. All I did this weekend was have conversations. Great conversations. Mind-bending conversations. Heartfelt conversations. Confusing conversations. Conversations that kept me up one night. Conversations that gave me the impetus to wake up tomorrow and look forward to the next week.

All the fun, important, engaging, must-do things in this city (or anywhere else) are no more than props, vehicles for people to connect and have conversations. But we’d rather get lost in those activities, wasting our energy, our money, our time and our health chasing to-do lists, than stopping to talk about what’s important.

How come we never remember that conversations are the currency of relationships? We need to spend and earn to keep the feeling economy moving, to keep the life business running. Talk, talk a little more. Do a little less.

Ideamarked Apr2011: Humour, Politics & Youtube

To make up for my brevity in the past two months, I’m back with a whole bouquet of links. I’ve been accused of too much seriousness so here’s me showing you my funny side (don’t blame me if it’s not to your taste, though!). I’ve been Youtube’ing and Wikipedia’ing a lot more – nothing like these two channels for pop culture. Take a look at some of the gems I unearthed:

  • A month-long writing exercise by Caferati called CaPoWriMo: Daily prompts, peer nudging and stringent deadlines to follow!
  • To Afridi, With Love” A Pakistani journalist welcomes their cricket team back after the World Cup 2011 performance, with a letter that touched hearts on both sides of the border. (via Maati.tv)
  • Why the knowledge of punctuation is really, really, really important!: “7 Unfortunately Named Websites” (via 10DailyThings)
  • Crime, cannibalism and New York – read on an empty stomach for your daily sick-up laugh. (via OverheardInNewYork)
  • Pun-pictures and whacky filmi quizzes with whackier prizes. (via TheQuark)
  • Big Brother’s watching you! Move over George Orwell, Google’s made your worst nightmare come true! (via Wulffmorgenthalter)
  • Everyone has an opinion, a fast or at least a signature on this. Here’s the Jan Lokpal bill 2.1 that everyone’s talking about. (via Scribd, link courtesy Supreeka)
  • What would it be like to have a rapper for a roommate? Thought Catalog gives you a ready primer about different rapper-types & their homing styles.
  • Conversations with the Kabras (especially the younger ones) are anything but boring. Here’s Navin and Meetu explaining Anna Hazare (and having the situation explained back to them with the kind of wisdom only human beings of a certain age can). (via Abu-Rabad)
  • The best comic books that you aren’t reading. (via Uread)
  • Sadhu beedi, nalla swadulu beedi” – old-school advertising for Sadhu beedi (via Youtube)
  • What would a desified Spiderman be like? No, not Pavitra Prabhakar but in asal Bollywood-ishtyle, complete with kitschy dance moves, here’s Spidey doing a Dharamendra dance (via Youtube)
  • Peggy-O, a haunting Simon & Garfunkle air with its own curious story was my first gift to Music Monday. (via Youtube).
  • Karishma Kapoor’s off-the-shoulder dress with understated make-up had me drooling! This is a not-so-subtle hint to anybody who feels like demonstrating their lurrve for me! 😉 (via HighHeelConfidential)
  • A new cultural collaborative called Social Mantra addresses social commentary to media & marketing to lifestyle. I’m one of its contributors. Do drop in!

Chronology

Where does a story actually begin?

You can start to tell it from the middle,
race to the end,
stop just before the last chapter,
then retrace your steps back to the start
…and then go again.

Stories are nice that way.

And so are people and conversations.

~O~O~O~O~O~

A good time may come,
And then a bad time,
And another one…or not…
And who can tell which one it’ll be?

But we’ll keep walking
And we’ll keep talking
So long as the feet on the road
Belong to both you and me.

The Green Mile Was Not An Illusion

Seventeen was a year of much learning, all of it outside the classroom. The college library was a gruesome place, with the boys being seated on the ground floor and the girls banished to the mezzanine floor overhead. Itwas like being on a rather volatile Venus that would suddenly be attacked by giggly gossips wanting a vantage view of the latest heartthrob seated downstairs or sour-faced bookworms exerting their authority with shhhhing in the one place that they ruled.

Quite by mistake, I discovered that the little door wedged in between the reading room and the games room (open only to boys for some reason) was the lending library. The narrow entranceway opened out into a seemingly endless room that was never visible to visitors since it was fenced off by chest-high counters. But I discovered that the staff manning those counters, quite unlike the battleaxe librarian, were friendly. All one had to do was to pick out a card (indexed by author and title) and present it with one’s identity card. A whole world of free books opened up to me. I read pop psychology, textbooks of subjects that were not mine, thrillers, classics, chess bibles and P.G.Wodehouse. I may have been the only student availing of these facilities since I rarely saw anyone else there and if they did, they were usually looking up a study assignment. It was like having my own personal library, the kind I’ve always (and continue to) dreamt of having.

Once I had my latest borrowing, it would be slipped into the ubiquitious backpack that accompanied my campus life and I’d go back to being a regular irreverent, aimless teenager.

The bunch of people I hung out with that year were a motley crew, all of us misfits in some way or the other and banding together only on that one common ground. None of us were really friends, we were just the social glue that stuck the moments of real living in each others lives together for what could pass as acceptable on campus. For some, this real living was in drugs, three of them found it in music, one of them in her boyfriend and a couple in the subjects they had chosen to study. Mine of course, were books. And all of us were together to get through the moments that couldn’t be spent in what we would like to do.

I met Sam at an unearthly hour of the morning on a weekday. It was too early for the whole gang to band together and the few stray members that we were just drifted about awkwardly. We didn’t have all that much to say to each other and it wasn’t till the entire group was around that we could function as one entity. I was shuffling about, kicking a stone between my scuffed boots when I heard someone calling my name. It was one of the other gang members and he was standing with a guy I had never seen before.

This is Sam. He likes books. You like books. You guys should talk.

and with that strange introduction he left. Sam and I stared at each other for a minute before he broke the gaze and said,

Let’s get some coffee. Come with me.

The first thing I would learn about Sam was that he started every morning with two cups of pure caffeine, no sugar, no milk, boiling hot and straight down one after the other. The second thing I would realize is that the coffee acted exactly the way electricity would when fed into an appliance. He suddenly came to life. The surly face relaxed, his wide eyes looked straight at me and we got to talking.

We discovered that we both loved books with a passion that neither of us had encountered in anyone else. And that these fires burnt for very different kinds of books. But that feeling of kinship, it was like meeting a fellow human being on a trip to outer space and so what if they spoke a different language? At the end of that conversation, we parted ways promising to introduce each other to our respective book loves.

I carried my prized and much-thumbed copy of Richard Bach’s Illusions in my backpack the next day, almost sure that it would not need to be taken out. To my surprise, he was standing just where I had parted ways with him the previous day.

Coffee.

He muttered and I nodded. And after he was done, he produced a set of five slim books. They were a series, all part of one book, he explained. Then he added that they were not easily available and that he had gotten them from a cousin in the US. I held my breath as I admired the highly illustrated covers and read the blurbs. When I handed them back to him, I couldn’t believe my ears as he said,

They’re for you. Read them and then you can return them.

I felt a little easier about parting with a little piece of my heart, my Illusions, after that.

The book that he gave me was The Green Mile by Stephen King. It made shivers go up and down my spine. Many years later I would watch the film, my mind working out the finer nuances of story-telling and marveling but at the same time, those shivers still racing across my back.

I returned the books the following week, the same time that he returned Illusions. I didn’t wax eloquent and neither did he. But we had a long, involved discussion about why we loved what we did and what had worked or not for the other book. We finished half a pack of Fox’s sweets through that chat. Another thing I’d noticed in the past week, that he stopped by the shop outside college every morning and bought a pack. He’d eat just one and pass it around to whoever was around. Fox’s, always Fox’s.

It must have been a little over two months later when X (who had introduced us) gave me the news. Sam had been on partying on his birthday and was racing his car back home in the wee hours of the morning. Another car zoomed around a corner and crashed into him. There was a horrific collision and the car he was in was a wreck. He was saved only by the fact that the cops recognized him as the son of the DCP and rushed him to the hospital on time. I didn’t know his father was a cop. I didn’t know he was one of those rich kids who was allowed to drive in the wee hours. I didn’t even know anyone who had had a close brush with death.

A week later, he was back from the hospital and I went to see him. I had been warned that he was suffering slight amnesia but somehow that sounded like something that happened in Hindi movies. I sat on the sofa with my friend and made polite conversation with his mother.

Then he walked in and picked up a magazine. He seemed not to have noticed us. His mother called out to him telling him that his friends were here and then she left the room. He looked around with his characteristic restlessness and I found myself getting up and going to him. It seemed instinctive that I should lead him to the canteen for his caffeine hit.

But he looked up and focussed and it was the stare of a stranger. I stopped, unsure and then introduced myself hesitantly.

He said,

Your face…it’s familiar. But I have no idea who you are.

We looked at each other for a long minute and I realized he had no recollection of our conversations or indeed, our bond. After awhile he moved back indoors.

His mother came out and sat down and to my alarm, she began to cry.

Sometimes he remembers and calls me ‘Ma’. Then some days he says I don’t know who you are. That accident…I was so scared when he went out on his birthday. They say that bad luck…death hovers around people close to their birth days.

I comforted her the best I could, pointing out that he had had a very lucky escape and it was a good sign. What else could I say? He didn’t even know me. And I wondered, if one person stops recognizing the other, does the relationship end? What is a bond that exists only in my memory, but an illusion?

It was two months before I saw him in college again and he was rushing past in the distance. I watched him go to the gate and out. A few days later, he passed me again and didn’t even look up. I had blended into the large throng of humanity in the corridors. I didn’t exist for him anymore and neither did our conversations. We went our ways, moved into different circles and in time graduation caught up with us.

I would have liked to have watched the movie based on his favorite book, with him. But it came and went without him and I walked The Green Mile alone. I thought of him through every scene of the movie, remembering something he had said or something else I had read in the book and thought to tell him about. I hadn’t fully understood the story when I first read it but all those years later, in a movie and with the advantage of my years, I could begin to glimpse into his world and why he loved it so much. That is when I missed him the most, not being able to tell him that it suddenly clicked, that I sude

Five years later, I was leaving a restaurant, looking down at my mobile phone when I ran – quite literally – into a human wall. I mean that, when I looked up, all I could see was a broad, human chest. Then hands appeared, that grabbed my arms and an excited voice called my name. It was him. And how.

My campus fellow booklover had been scrawny to the point of starvation. I had always imagined that he was sort of my height but that may have been because he was always stooped over. And he had always given me an impression of blurriness, of thoughts and gestures happening faster than he could handle.

The young man in front of me was well-muscled and toned. There was an almost too-healthy glow to his face that went quite counter to the gaunt, caffeine-addicted expression I had known. This was a fine specimen of manhood and he was a complete stranger to me. We chatted a bit about what we were doing and exchanged phone numbers. He never called me, though.

Another three years later, I was sitting in a coffeeshop when a voice shouted my name across. In the time it took him to bound up, my friends had exchanged enough smirks and knowing glances at each other to put me on my most defensive ‘okay, everyone’s watching’ pose. After he left, they giggled and demanded to know who the hottie was, who was so excited to see me. I grinned and said,

He’s…ah, an old college friend.

What else could I say?

He’s that person but he’s not the guy I knew. It’s possible that he has never remembered our conversations and that he notices me now only as a woman, a member of the opposite sex, someone to be flirted with. I’ve never had a chance to tell him that it used to be different, it used to be so much more than that. And even if I did, what difference would it make if he never remembered it? I miss the boy I knew and sometimes I wonder if it was all just an Illusion.

But then I spot The Green Mile on the television listings or I hear someone mention it in conversation and an image of the caffeine-addicted boy-man snaps into my head. There is a definite memory of him and of me, of us and the green mile. We created that together. Right now I’m holding it alone. Someday though, if he can and does walk the length of that stretch, he’ll find me waiting at the end of The Green Mile.

Considering that it’s a story about darkness and life and death….and miracles, that’s quite appropriate, isn’t it?

The Language Of The Geeks

An old post retreived from the long-dead Office Capers. It’s still funny, I think.

~o~o~o~o~o~o~

Today I put my techno-greek foot back in my mouth (again! again! again!)

Someone from the next cubicle (SNC): Do you know the iRiver?

Me: The what river?

SNC: Okay, you don’t know it.

Me: I didn’t hear you…what river?

SNC: The iRiver

Me: I don’t know it. What’s that?

SNC: Its like the iPod, an MP3 player

Someone from the other side (SFOS): Who are the makers?

Me: Apple obviously (going by the preceding ‘i’)

SNC: No, it isn’t. Its a me-too.

Me: Hmm…I wonder how come no one has come up with ‘iPea’ as yet.

*Loud laughter while I realise what I’ve said*

Me: What the hell…okay, maybe ‘iPeas’.

*Louder laughter*

Me: Oh shut up! You know what I meant!

SNC: What…HARHARHAR….is wrong with you? KHEE KHEE KHEE…..there would be a problem if you didn’t!!!

Me: *Sulk sulk sulk*

SFOS: *in a serious undertone* That was a foe-grandpa

Me: Huh?

SFOS: A faux-grand-pas….the grandfather of a faux pas!

Things I Wrote At Sea

Yes, I did think of the world that makes home – friends, blog, work, people – a lot. I promised myself I wouldn’t blog or worry or stress or do any of the things I normally do, while on vacation. But two measly days in, I found myself reaching for my pen and notebook. I couldn’t help it anymore than I could help thinking, I realized. When I stop writing, I’ll stop being. So here goes nothing – my scribbles from my two weeks away. There’s a lot more where that came from. Thank you so much for reading.

It is the knowledge that you have someplace to come back to, that makes travelling delightful.

~o~o~o~

Does distance really make the heart grow fonder? If you care for someone, aren’t they in your thoughts, often, alive and well? And conversations and meetings are just taping sessions for records that may be played over and over again for years and years.

~o~o~o~

Romance has been lost, this is true. Waiting as a concept exists no more. There are no long, yearning waits for people long absent. There aren’t any waits for news, patience the only alternative to insanity in a world of dangers and no returns. We don’t wait for letters to be delivered, for people to come back or even long-distance calls to be put through. Everything is available, yesterday. And there’s nothing left to wait for. Isn’t that supposed to signify the end of life?

~o~o~o~

Two men flirted with me today. A Greek, suave, confident and smooth – conversing easily without slicking it and holding my interest in his gaze. And a Turk with a broad smile and a mischievious wink, his intentions perfectly clear, his gaze entirely appreciative. I was wearing shorts.So my body draws attention. I love it myself but my face leaves me short. Never mind, I’ve gotten used to thinking that my assets lie elsewhere. But when they change, stay assets no more, what will I do? Will I remember my own adage that there’s no greater beauty than a body that can perform every function that it was designed to? Legs that hold me and carry me places. Hands and fingers that do…so much. Eyes that see, read – the most wonderous gift of all. A body that runs near perfectly requiring little aid and only some care.

I stay beautiful as long as I can do all that. And as long as I can remember that.

~o~o~o~

Sometimes it is nice to just be by yourself, not because you don’t like other people but simply to experience yourself every now and then and see what other people see…and what they don’t.

~o~o~o~

What bonds people together? A common need – like vegetarians huddling together on this adventure of non-vegetarians? Or a shared past – classmates, colleagues, neighbors, playmates? Shared interests like books, music, photography, wine, travel? Similar demographics – neighbors, religious communities, parents of school-going children? And yet we labour under the delusion that relationships are about compatibility or love.

It seems like we select the most convenient people we can and mold ourselves to fit the association. Human beings are enormously flexible.

~o~o~o~

All You Get From Love Is A Love Song

A well-wisher tells me,

At least find that company with someone who’s honest with you.

My reply,

Honesty. All the honesty I get is “I’m not in love with you but I’d love to sleep with you.”

Doesn’t this bug the hell out of you?

I hate it.

Then why do you put yourself through this??

What do I say to that? That I’d rather have the truth than mind-games? That I don’t believe that the motive changes either way but forewarned is definitely forearmed. And that I don’t really believe any of them really care about me, the person – or ever will. I’ve had enough of serenades. The truth doesn’t sound as good but at least it is…the truth.

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