Tag Archives: Memories

Everyday Mumbai

This photograph came up on my Facebook memories. I remember this moment. I was on my way back from town though I don’t remember where I had gone and why. I also remember being in a train that was unusually empty for that hour.

I remember the feeling of uneasy relief and thinking how odd that was. Isn’t relief supposed to be peaceful, something akin to contentment? And it was but it also felt bittersweet, like something that was hard-won and felt not quite worth the struggles that came before.

It has to do with living in this city. Mumbai demands everything from you. You cannot be of anyone or anything or any dream else. All you can do is surrender to it unconditionally and trust that it will hold you.

The Mumbai train is a perfect illustration of this. You battle mind-killing traffic, deafening sounds, lung-stopping pollution. Then you make it to a station thronging with people ten deep, straining to hear an inaudible announcement, read an illegible signboard to try and figure out which train you need to take. And then you look around at the crowd on the platform, waiting for the same thing. In that moment, Mumbai asks you to decide.

Will you die a little at the thought of fighting (yet again)? Will you strain and struggle and risk falling through the gap between the footboard and the platform? Will you push and shove and add a little more chaos to the desperate millions?

Or will you surrender to the city and be one with its messiness? If you choose this, when the train arrives, the crowd will pull you in with them. If you’re still a little outside the compartment, magically, there will be hands, strangers’ hands that will hold on to you. As they curse and frown, the others in the compartment will bend and twist to make some uncharitable room for you. Mumbai will rescue you and it will hold you.

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I remember this moment. I was on my way back from town though I don't remember where I had gone and why. I also remember being in a train that was unusually empty for that hour. I remember the feeling of uneasy relief and thinking how odd that was. Isn't relief supposed to be peaceful, something akin to contentment? And it was but it also felt bittersweet, like something that was hard-won and felt not quite worth the struggles that came before. It has to do with living in this city. Mumbai demands everything from you. You cannot be of anyone or anything or any dream else. All you can do is surrender to it unconditionally and trust that it will hold you. The Mumbai train is a perfect illustration of this. You battle mind-killing traffic, deafening sounds, lung-stopping pollution. Then you make it to a station thronging with people ten deep, straining to hear an inaudible announcement, read an illegible signboard to try and figure out which train you need to take. And then you look around at the crowd on the platform, waiting for the same thing. In that moment, Mumbai asks you to decide. Will you die a little at the thought of fighting (yet again)? Will you strain and struggle and risk falling through the gap between the footboard and the platform? Will you push and shove and add a little more chaos to the desperate millions? Or will you surrender to the city and be one with its messiness? If you choose this, when the train arrives, the crowd will pull you in with them. If you're still a little outside the compartment, magically, there will be hands, strangers' hands that will hold on to you. As they curse and frown, the others in the compartment will bend and twist to make some uncharitable room for you. Mumbai will rescue you and it will hold you. #train #mumbai #mumbaitrain #mumbaiker @mymumbai #my_mumbai #city #citylights #citylife #cityscape #urban #urbanlandscape #selfie #throwback #selfienation #selfies #selfiepoint

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Watching Sunsets

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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.

 

WEALTH MANAGEMENT

In my wallet, between my fading driver’s license and my gym receipt, I keep an old, folded train ticket.

Under the gold Starbucks card bearing my  name, is a scrap of smooth white paper from whose face, time has wiped away ink (but not the mental image of the hand that gave it to me).

And in the side pocket, along with the loose change is a zipper tab, long detached from its owner.

I am so rich.

Remember Me? 

Remember Me? 
¿?¿

Save
the memory
of the last flicker
of the final flame
of the embers of us
before they burnt out
¿?¿?¿?¿?¿?¿?¿?¿?¿?¿?¿?

It will warm you, behind your eyes
Bring a glow to your cheeks
lift the corners of your lips
and that’s how life
starts again

Follow my writings on https://www.yourquote.in/idea-smith-qor/quotes/ 

The Internet Writes My Autobiography In Indelible Ink

Morning began with a text from someone I thought I had blocked.

“Did you just dial me by mistake?”

Eyes still sleep-logged, I thumbed through the unfamiliar basic phone I’m using in lieu of my flash smartphone (lying at the workshop for repair). Damn. He was right. I don’t remember if I had deleted him from my Contacts. Then I realise the phone had synced up his contacts from my mailbox. Stupid efficient Google. Won’t let me forget. This wouldn’t have happened on my regular phone. Bloody smartphone. Letting me down with withdrawal symptoms so bad.

I turned to my blog for comfort (it is my best friend, after all). The random post that came up was this chronicle of the Vasai wedding. Happy memories all of them. And in the post, in all the stories that lead from it, Rehab still lives. She has just not checked her Twitter account in a long time. A really long time. A common friend I met recently said,

“Rehab’s twitter account will follow ours forever.”

She’ll never get mad at me for something stupid I said or be a part of the dramatic insta-love/insta-hate games that dot the social media landscape. She’s in my universe forever. Oh My God. And just as I typed this and tabbed back to Twitter to check something, this tweet
came up.

Meher

Last week I argued with someone who complained about the frivolity of the relationships of the Facebook generation. I showed him this article (‘All my exes live in texts‘). How, I asked him, can you call this frivolous, when our emotions, our associations taint us forever? I’m MTV generation, not Facebook generation. But I guess it’s all the same digitally enhanced fake lifestyle to the ‘If-I-can’t-touch-it-it’s-not-real’ people.

A good friend who knows me perhaps a little too well, sent me this (‘The stages of missing someone you barely know‘). It’s what your style used to be, he wrote. I wanted to hate him a little for it. And the writer. I didn’t say a word but my life, my entire month of May was mapped out in that article written by a stranger.

It reminded me of people I don’t want to block but I don’t want to see the Pages they like, the places they went to and the people they friended either. Because it means they had time to do all of that but not time to meet me.

You can make some things go away by acting like they’re over already and then, like they never happened. So misery does not love company. Angst becomes real when it has an audience. Even vicariously, by its very relatability, a piece such as this, becomes your story. And you realise the telling of it has pried loose stuff caked to the floor of the dark corners of your mind and put them into a feature film. The unmanageable past is back to torment you out of the optimised bits & bytes that make up your life.

The internet writes my life in indelible ink. And in other people’s stories.

Magic In My Soul

A couple of weeks ago, I was doing the guilty random-online-surf-to-avoid-work thing, when my video chat icon began flashing with a call. I looked at the clock. It was past 3 a.m. I answered the call to find this guy at the other end, yelling,

“Tu kya soti nahin hain, kya??!”

Then he turned to his wife and said,

“See, I told you. She never sleeps!”

I laughed, he nodded sagely and she shook her head at the absurdity of it.

It occurred to me that I belong the privileged generation that has these magical experiences. The generations before ours scoff and think we’ve lost it, that we haven’t known closeness, that we don’t understand life since we spend it behind glass screens. The generations after us, having been born into a digital era, don’t see anything particularly remarkable in this.

But to me, with my single Doordarshan channel and landline telephone 80s childhood, my adolescence that proved its cool with cable TV, Khatiya songs and Indipop and my young adult self that saw the dreams of the future in chatrooms – all of this is magic. Talking to somebody in a different country, with such ease (and I can even see them!) feels like magic. Being able to see bright daylight outside the window of the person I’m speaking to, while it’s past midnight where I am – this is magic. Relationships that have vanquished time and space – how can they be anything but magic?

My online association with Devesh began in June 2008, when a common friend wrote to me asking if I’d speak to her friend who was looking for some information about my industry. I was still mostly anonymous then, visible only as Ideasmith, a blog, Twitter, Facebook and an email address. I agreed and we connected and had a chat. We followed each other on Twitter, he occasionally commented on my blog and I responded. He was a slight acquaintance that it was not unpleasant to converse with.

In August 2010, I was going through my annual Facebook Friends list pruning, when I noticed a familiar name and face. I remembered him from that chat conversation but I couldn’t place why he looked so familiar. Finally, I shook off that nagging feeling of ‘Stupid, it’s all in your head’ and I wrote to him.

“This is probably a far shot but were you ever in XYZ college, Mumbai? You look a lot like someone I knew back then and he had the same name.”

“I was for 1 year! Did we hang out? I literally just knew 2 girls then

Bingo. I was a science student but with enough teenage angst to keep me out of the classroom and in the canteen. I used to hang out at that window on the ramp and was often seen with a girl called A. And if this helps, I used to call you Dave.

Jesus! Yes! It was the 3 of us that used to hang out!!!

Now cut to February 1997. I was in my first year of college and hating every moment of B.Sc. I loved reading, music and art. Nobody around me did; they were more interested in beakers, parallax removal and calculus. I’d drift around the open space in front of the canteen, in a semi-daze that only teenagers can pull off. And I’d go in and out of surreal, intense conversations all day. One of those conversations led me to Dave. He was a friend of a friend of a friend. I don’t remember what we spoke of. I barely remember him as a stranger being introduced to me. But I clearly remember him as a close friend then.

Then summer vacation came along and we drifted back to our homes. When college begun again, I didn’t see him. I didn’t know his last name or anybody else in common. This was before everyone had an email address. And in 1997, only super duper rich kids had mobile phones (well, actually it belonged to their dads and they brought it along to show off to their friends). I never forgot Dave but I had no way of reaching him again. Somebody told me that he had shifted colleges, someone else said he had moved to Australia.

In 2010, that reply from him sent tingles down my fingers. It still does. Reconnecting with old friends over Facebook, I know everyone has one story. This is mine and it’s special to me. And since we’re part of the generation that experienced half our lives without digitalia and the other half with it, it will always feel like magic.

I wondered what he was like, 13 years later. I found out a year later when he came to India for a visit. I figured we’d have a coffee together and chat about old times for, oh about an hour? How long does one need to catch up on a 14-year old friendship that only lasted two months? We ended up yapping through coffee, another coffee and one more. I paused wondering if I should tell him I’d only thought I’d hang out for an hour and I should call home to explain why I was late. He pulled out his phone and said,

“Wanna grab dinner and talk a bit more? You know I thought we’d only talk for about an hour or so.”

We ended up talking about life and work and relationships and friendship and technology and so many other things. It wasn’t like meeting a great new person. It was exactly like meeting an old, old friend. It felt like we were teenagers in college again, a notion that was laid rudely to rest when a bunch of ‘cool’ teeny-boppers walked past us, making a lot of noise. We made fun of them and talked about how much better we had been, at being teenagers. Then we laughed and told each other that we’d gone old.

We don’t talk often. There’s a message now and then or a tweet. Occasionally he calls and hangs up. I know it means,

“Hey, I was just remembering my friend but I don’t have anything to say right now.”

Other times we talk and he tells people that he likes listening to my ringtone more than he enjoys talking to me, so he prank-calls me.

On that videochat two weeks ago, we ended up talking about the directions our lives have taken. He told me he used to enjoy reading my blog but that he doesn’t anymore. Then things only a friend should tell you! I say ‘should’ rather than ‘can’ because the internet is full of presumptuous people and trolls. But I only take it seriously when someone whose opinion matters to me, says so.  He also told me that I was wasting my life away stuck in a deadened situation. But he didn’t say it unkindly. He said it in the same breath as,

“You’ve got people who believe in you. Everybody needs a push sometime. And I’m giving you one.”

If that’s not magic, I don’t know what is. And I don’t think it’s got anything to do with geography or medium.

His words made me realise that most of what I do stresses me rather than invigorates me now. Blogging, once a welcome reprieve has become a ball-and-chain around my neck. Social media, that seductive beast that once promised grand things for what I was already doing? It’s now a crass, pretentious beast full of the vultures that I thought I left behind in the corporate world. Enough now.

Last week I cleared out several social apps that I was keeping active on, ‘because I’m a social media/content professional’. I decided to stop letting my Twitter followership have anything to do with my self-esteem (so loserly, no? I know) I still love writing, even if it is not soul work. But my readers, (the real ones, not the ones like the new Twitter followers who follow me for a day and then unfollow when I don’t follow back), the people who find something about my writing resonates with them, they come here for me. Not for the snazzy template or the shareable content. They come here to connect with a human being, me. And that is what makes my world of Ideasmith, magical for me. It took a friend to point that out.

This completely unedited, messy, meandering, less than perfect post is for you, Dave. You can prank-call me now.

Lying Awake Feels Like This

Amazing, when she's asleep, she's goodness per...

Amazing, when she’s asleep, she’s goodness personified, when she’s awake, let’s just say that I have more grey hairs on my head now, than I did 3 years ago! (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The middle of the night feels slightly hysteric. Since late night TV and corporate lifestyles, midnight is what 8:30 p.m. probably was to the generations before. ‘Twilight’ has been co-opted by a low-grade teen horror tale.

You’re lying awake at 4:12 in the morning. You dreamt of a guy you had a crush on 10 years ago. And he was offering to connect you to a great workplace. Then he looked at you longingly and reached for your cheek. You held your breath and also your reserve and told him he was married and a father. Happily married to a beautiful woman. You don’t know about the ‘happy’, you don’t really know him that well. But you assume that if a baby was made together, they must have been happy at some point. He looks back at you and says, “She looks just like you.” And you’re at a loss for words.

But that’s a dream. It felt so real. You’re even scrabbling around in your memory to see if you can remember the email address he mentioned. It sounded like such a great job. “Yes”, you should have said, “I’d noticed.”

And he’d say, “I wanted to ask you out then, you know.”

You’d reply, “I had a crush on you, then. But that was ten years ago. And you’re married and a father now. Happily married.”

Then the conversations loops back to the same place.

That’s what convinces you finally, that it was a dream. And the reality is that you’re lying in bed awake. Too early to get up and start the day. Late enough that if you fall asleep, you’ll sleep past the alarm and ruin yet another day.

Yesterday was lost. Lost in a bloodied clot of menstrual pain, of avoidance-by-missed calls, of the low after mid-week resolutions and sleeping. It’s gone forever, that Thursday. It was nothing remarkable but it’s gone. You console yourself saying that you’re at a place where you can afford to lose a day or two. You’ve stolen so many from your health, your peace of mind and your youth, after all. The time-keeper’s doing some book-keeping, that’s all.

So you look to your phone instead and wonder, as you have, every lull between dream-states, what you should reply. ‘He asked me out’, you text your friend but she’s asleep right now. You know she’ll tell you he’s bad news. You know he is. That’s why you asked her to remind you in such situations. But she’s asleep. Luckily, so is he. You start to type a reply to him. Then you stop. You go back and erase the draft, in case it gets sent out by mistake.

You look at the stream of endless news, ravings, rants and opinions pouring in from around the world, into your palm. You worry, worry, worry about how to get into it. You fit in by standing out here. But you’re just drowning, getting lost in the ether. The universe has a place for you, somebody told you once. Maybe this is not the right universe. It’s time, it is that time you decide. That moment that you will look back on, in the years to come, when you decided to turn left. It is time.

4:27, the clock says. Your eyes hurt now. So you click your phone shut and close your eyes.

Memories

Memories.

His,
thunder through her mind
just like his footsteps
when she was asleep.

Hers,
splash onto his eyes,
making them water.

footsteps in the sand (Livorno&Viareggio)

footsteps in the sand (Livorno&Viareggio) (Photo credit: Daniel Böswald)

A Laundered Life

I feel like my life is being scrubbed with a very hard brush and industrial-strength detergent.

It’s almost mid-way through 2010 and I’m hoping the rest of this year speeds by quickly. It really hasn’t been a good time at all. I feel like everything around me is dropping away, one by one. The job is over and the longer I stay home, the more distanced I feel from that ambitious, aggressive person I was at work. Some days I feel like all those things were done by another person. I can’t imagine standing up and talking to a crowd of people, of taking charge of a team, of coping with a death and supporting a whole group of other people. Was that really me?

I feel like people and relationships are just slipping away from me. The best friend moved to another continent. She and I are just the same and yet, she feels so far away, so disconnected.

Astra, my lovely witch, and I parted ways. I miss her often but I know I can’t go back to her. If it makes sense and if I anticipated it and I know it can’t change, why does it hurt so much?

My fascinating muse has left. I find myself thinking about him often but again, I think of our last conversation and I know I’m never going to reach out to him. You were wrong, we so didn’t get past this.

I’ve been going through dates in a crazy way. None of them have hurt at all. I decided to call it off  and when I went to meet him, the first thing he said is that we should stop dating. It didn’t even hurt my ego, let alone my heart. Nothing touches me anymore.

A distant cousin was in Mumbai this morning and he mentioned a yahoogroup I had set up ages ago of my cousins. I had forgotten about it so I went to look it up. I found a whole list of groups of people who used to matter in various ways. I set up most of those groups. I was a born social networker, long before it became a marketable skill.

Notably, I rediscovered the college group. There were lots of photographs in one, an albumful that I’d uploaded. It appalled me that I couldn’t remember the names of many of the people in those pictures.

Remember the Bihari boy from Delhi? Quiet and gentle and soft-spoken. He once told me about his family in Ranchi and his hardships, being an unpopular minority citizen. I remember he was one of the few people who actively tried to keep in touch after college and was very kind to me when he learnt about the break-up. I remember him telling me that I was sinking, cutting off the world and I should make an effort to reach out and come back to life. I still can’t place his name and it’s driving me nuts.

I remembered the one other person apart from Best Friend that I was in touch with and I called him. I asked if we could catch up tomorrow since I’d be in his part of town. I last met him a few months back, after I took my break. Our meetings have always been this way – I call him when I’m in his area or think of him. But he’s never once called. He told me he was busy but if he wasn’t travelling and if he didn’t have meetings and if he managed to finish work, he’d stop by. I don’t know why this particular time should have hit me but it did. I told him I didn’t like that I kept calling and he never called. It snowballed into a fight where he kept saying things like “I never call anybody”, “Tum log sab mujhe phone karke aise nahin bol sakte ho”. I ended up hanging up really, really angry and hurt. I deleted his number. And I feel like shit.

I just had a thought as I was typing this out. It feels like I’m facing some kind of karmic retribution for running after all the wrong people and ignoring the ones who really cared. What do I do now? How do I break out of this? And what could I have done back then? I didn’t know, I so didn’t know.

God, but it isn’t the same thing typing all this out in an email or a post. What’s the point in a long list of Facebook Friend acquaintances when the only person you really have left to talk to, is a blog?

I miss people, the real people. My people.

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