Tag Archives: Reflection

A New Life

My phone buzzed with a message. It was from a classmate who had once been a friend and then done something that made me not want to be friends with him again. He said he was sorry, asked how I was doing and said he was missing true friends. I replied,

I know the feeling. It’s early mid-life crisis. We’re all going through it after the disillusionment of the 20s, so don’t worry.

When I replied, he sounded so happy that I felt bad I hadn’t done so earlier. I sat back and thought about what I was saying.

I started the 30 diaries a few months before I actually hit the big figure. A month before my 3oth, I quit the job I’d spent ten years studying and working hard, toward. And more than a year later, I still don’t know where things are going. But I’m happy, I think.

I spent a long time wanting a lot of things, very much. But I don’t really think I regret that anymore. I’ll never trade the sense of achievement I got from the highs of my career. I wouldn’t exchange the confidence I built brick by brick. And it would be unrealistic to want to hold onto these things but not the things that made them possible.

Yesterday, in a conversation that has nothing to do with this, it suddenly struck me. I had some bad stuff happen to me and it messed up my head for sometime. But those people are not connected to me by anything but the memories. Even the scars have fallen and I don’t have to punish myself by holding on to them anymore. It wasn’t my fault they were bad people (or bad actions). And that’s all that needs to be said.

I think the 20s are a maniac’s dream. Everything is available and possible. There is a slightly unrealistic shine on everything and it takes a few knocks before you realize that shiny reality is hard and uncomfortable as well. I look at my life and then all around me. There’s divorce and heart disease and death and suicide and career failure and drug abuse and eating disorders and financial crises and abortions and deadend jobs. There are also reunions and catching up with people who were close an eon ago. There are healthy diets and cutting back and exercise regimes. There is budgeting and tax planning. A decade ago, that would have sounded like boredom/settling down/old age to me but now it sounds like a new life.

Coming back, when I read this message today, I realised something. I’d become harsh and unforgiving on the world because I couldn’t cope with the insides of me feeling broken and jagged. So I turned judgemental on myself and the world. I don’t know if it is age or healing or both but I don’t feel quite so raw anymore. And it makes me think, people make mistakes. Sometimes they get lost. It happened to me and heaven  alone knows how many bad things I set in motion for other people, as a result.

It just hit me, the profoundity of the adage, “Shit Happens”. If you’re lucky, you have a chance to regret it. I say lucky, because if you realise what a mistake you’ve made, you just might be in a position to remedy someone else’s mistake. Or not; maybe you’ll just cope better the next time. There is nothing to be done about that. Except to inhale and hope that the next breath will be better.

We chatted a bit and he said he had wanted to be a blazing success but it felt so lonely at the end. I remembered that feeling too and told him I didn’t spend enough of time on the things that I now know as important. He asked what those were and I said,

Love. Friendship. Family. Good health. A body that works without medication. Food in my stomach even before I’m hungry. The safety to walk on the roads by myself.

He smiled, saying that was like a true MBA. So I replied with another smiley and said,

That’s just one more thing on my resume now, not my identity.

🙂 And what is my identity now? Who knows? I have a new life out there to discover and shape it now.

Traveller’s Tales

A young man travels in search of adventure, in search of tales, tall if at all, to tell back home. It’s a quest for personal glory. There is also romance, the search for beautiful women, for the luxuries of life and for triumph over difficult situations.

Why do we travel?

A quest, a search for someone or something? But some of us just are running away. At the end of the travels, we find just what we were trying so hard to leave behind and we realize that we’ve been carrying it within us all along. That, indeed, we’re trying so very hard to hide from ourselves and finally, that the further we go, the nearer we come to ourselves. Because a traveler knows, no matter how light you travel, you always carry your mind with you.

In a new situation, where no one knows you, you can be whoever you want. Anonymity is the opportunity to create a new identity. And then comes along someone who knows you. Some titbit of news and the opening notes of a familiar song. With it, a growing feeling of panic and relief rolled into one.

Panic as the fear of being pulled back into whatever the old identity most threatened. Relief at finding out that, uncomfortable as it was, being you is the only home there is.

~O~O~O~O~O~

Epilogue: I read this at the Caferati Open Mic event at Prithvi today. Some pieces are better read than read out aloud and I realized mine probably fall in the former.

Those of you who have been following my blog-adventures will probably see in a minute that this piece was less to do with any tangible travel and more about my own personal journey from anonymity to…identity, perhaps?

For the record, two people showed some appreciation – a good friend and a stranger who kept looking at me before I read and then asked me out to coffee after I had finished. No further comment.

I Must Be Dreaming

What a strange dream that was.

Do you ever wonder what your dreams mean? Of course you do, everyone does. There’s a whole genre of study devoted to understanding the interpretation of dreams – from the scientific, medical point of view as well as the esoteric, mystical side. One of the most succint opinions I’ve ever heard on this subject comes from my father,

Dreams are the brain flushing out the waste that it accumulates during the day.

Not to say that I believe that. Well, sometimes I do and sometimes I don’t. Belief is always a convenience thing with me.

I have loads of flying dreams, which Freud claims are about sex. Heh. Whatever.

I occasionally dream of thatha (who by the way, passed away 9 years back). I never dream of him dead or even as a ghost…in that, inside my dream I don’t seem to remember that he’s no more. I open the door and he’s dropped into Mumbai for a surprise visit; I’m arguing with him about something; I’ve received a birthday card from my folks in Delhi with (as was usual that time) a folded piece of paper inside it which is a letter from him. It’s a warm, fuzzy feeling to be able to say that my grandfather is alive and well in my dreams.

Then there are the dreams of people long past. An ex-boyfriend, a former best friend and occasionally even people I’ve loathed (like the bullies from school…yuurrrggh). Funnily enough in my dreams, I’m getting along like a house on fire with them. We’re usually laughing, talking, partying and having very intelligent, fun, fulfilling times together. Ah, so that’s what the originator of the phrase ‘only in your dreams!’ was thinking. 🙂

Once in a rare bit there’s a dream of something that really did happen in the past, only things turn out slightly differently. Like we’re walking down a road which on wakefulness, I remember having done. But instead of taking a left like we actually did, we take a right in my dream. Of course that’s metaphorical but hey, you don’t really need to know the exact details of my dreams! Come to think of it, it’s not like even I remember them.

I dream the most when I’m going through some intensely difficult times in my life. A family emergency, a troubled relationship, a stressful time at work – these have been my optimal dreamtimes.

Of course I would have dreamt deeply last night. My mother has been hospitalized this week, after all and discharged only to relapse later. All of this while I am alone, facing the maid-from-hell and water problems. But of course. I will talk about this particular dream though.

Last night, my first online time in about 3 days, I looked into Facebook. I was shunning chat requests from friends online because I just didn’t feel like talking. I could probably have spent some mindless time playing Mafia Wars. But instead I chose to go picking on old scabs. I looked up people from the past (yes, yes, I do that. Everyone does.) whom I’d probably not consider adding to my Friends List for various reasons. No ex-es though, that’s been done to death way enough. But old classmates, friends-of-friends, people I met at a party 2 months back who don’t remember me this week (but I remember them because they’re journos and their pic appears next to their column)…that kind of people.

And in this random melee, I found her. She was the stuff of my nightmares. She partly inspired this post (though I also had a more current, more tangible version to contend with at the time of writing). I’ve never met her, spoken to her or seen her in real life. It’s all in the photographs and memories of his memories. At least what he told me about her. I was intrigued by her, then jealous, then resentful and finally just in pain. I have no idea whether there was any truth in what he said, which means I might be pinning all these emotions on a fictitious character. All I know is her name. That’s good enough to locate a person in this Facebooked age. We’ve got a couple of common FFs (Facebook friends). I haven’t looked her up in ages. On a whim I shot off a message to her, introducing myself. No friendship request though. And then I logged out.

In my dream, she said that contrary to what I thought, she knew of me as well. Then we ceased to talk about how we came to be talking in the first place. She made me laugh though I don’t remember what at. All I know is that she was fun. I believe we were having some sort of picnic somewhere and then had to run away or something. Okay, that sounds even sillier in writing than it does in my thoughts.

I told Astra the other day that sometimes a dream was just a simulation of a real world situation, something that needed to be faced anyway. And we could do it in a dream, play around, take a few risks with our imagination too, just to experience what we may not dare to, in real life. How about that? I never considered having fun with someone I might have such an awkward connection with. Whether I do in real life or not, is immaterial. I just know that in my dreams, I did. And in the end, how does it matter whether we played it out in the conscious universe or the subconscious one?

I have to end this on a cliche, I’m the queen of cliches after all.

You may say I’m a dreamer.

You really may, I won’t take offense.

Turquoise Nights

We live in cold storage during the week, shutting away emotions, fears, aches and fevers till such a time that we can experience them ‘on our own time’. And then the weekend is when it all comes back….like trying to live all of the previous five days in these two. Of course the weekend really starts on Friday evening.

I hate crowds. I feel suffocated in groups larger than three. Strange since I live such a crowded life. But that’s just clutter – bodies, masses of breathing carbon moving around me. The real people are the ones who are greater than rituals, more meaningful than furniture, more unpredictable than habits. They make me feel. Too much. Not more than three at a time, please….it is positively decadent luxury. Like starving through the week and then feasting like a glutton after that. An average human being could die of that in the non-metaphorical world.

Fridays are often a plethora of impressions, a crazy psychedelia of emotions. People I missed so much and suddenly find I feel not a thing for, sudden realization of how much I love someone, accidentally bumping into those I was petrified of and now I find myself getting bored with, a gnawing emptiness when unaccountably I miss someone at the most inopportune moment, an inexplicable sense of loss of someone sitting right in front of me, annoyance over ill-timed but not unwanted affection, deep mirth over the hysterical irony of life’s situations. It is that instantly suffocating smell of smoke that I’ve never quite gotten used to, the headiness of a slight alcohol high that I’m constantly playing hide-and-seek with, the giddiness of meaningless jokes and deep conversations sleeping together. It is like not being able to tell green from blue and periodically getting stuck in a turquoise tapestry.

So I suddenly shot out, on the pretense of ‘taking a walk’. It felt more like those days in a swimming pool, trying to stay under the water the longest, learning to deal with the burning eyes and lungs that felt like they’d explode. An almost imagined movement at the corner of my eye would make me wonder (always) if the stories were true and there were strange, magical creatures at the bottom. And then, suddenly, I was tearing for breath, like even being conscious of that forbidden idea meant that I had to be expelled from Wonderland. So thrashing, I’d make it back to the top, breaking the surface of water just in time to put all such stupidity out of my mind. But I never really forgot. This is what it feels like, all these years later.

The moment I walked out, was like that moment of instant clarity, of great gasps of air free for me to breathe. The grand tapestry crystallized into a good comfortable sepia film. And as always I knew, that I never wanted to be a part of the other world again. I stood and watched the sea across the road, for how long I cannot tell. The cars seem to zoom past, not quite real but a film running by that I could walk through anytime I wanted, only I’d tear the screen if I did and there wouldn’t be any more film to watch.

I told someone once that I wished I had a job that let me work through the night, alone, when everyone else slept, without having to talk to or meet anybody else…and sleep through the day when the world was awake. ‘Escapism’ is what he called it. Is it?

You know how people keep telling you to ‘just be yourself’? Well that ain’t quite possible sometimes. For what if your self is nothing more than the capacity to conceive infinite new images and facades? A talent, a capability, a tendency to create…that’s all. Not a creation or a being or a tangible characteristic itself. Well all I want is to be myself then. Apart, distant, while close enough to see and even feel…just a bit. But able to switch off the impressions when it got to be too much.

From across the years an almost forgotten voice of a friend comes calling, “Don’t worry so much, little one. Some day you’ll learn how not to be swayed this way and that way by the vagaries of life. It will come with time.” Still waiting.

Then my phone buzzed. Blurry-visioned (though not from tears), I saw my hand move slow-motion almost to read. A text from the only person in the group I thought had any genuine affection for me.

Come back.

And without another thought, not a backward glance at my sepia film, I just turned and walked back in. Love is everything then. It is really all that binds me to this world, that holds me back. I now understand why they call it a bond. When it tugs at me, no matter how close I am to achieving nirvana, I come back. Invisible silver threads weave me into the turquoise tapestry.

cats-cradle-robert-vickrey.JPG

Aphrodite

She spoke to me

Not a word said
Yet her silence whispered secrets
only a true mate to my soul could know

As I contemplated her silence
She seemed to blur

I saw her speaking to another
Or was it a reflection in her mirror?
Was it me?

I stayed wondering,
Eternity only, for company

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