Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Archiving

When Barack Obama visited Berlin a few months ago, more than 200,000 of its citizens turned up to hear him speak. Victory is theirs.

Less than twelve hours ago, in Chicago, a similar number of Americans joined him in celebrating an extraordinary moment in their history. Among them was Rev. Jesse Jackson, who saw a man fulfil his own unfinished American dream. Victory is his.

Around the same time, a middle-aged, semi-literate man from a West Bengal village, who follows not a word of American English, stood glued to the live telecast on CNN in my house. He was watching with genuine joy another man, thousands of miles and cultures away, who does not speak his language and of whom he knows precious little, be on his way to becoming the leader of the most powerful nation in the world. Because they share the same name, Hussein. Victory is his.

I have nothing to add to the immense body of commentary that has and will be recorded about Obama's election to the Presidential post. This post is a personal tribute to a moment in history that I am proud to have been around for. Barack Obama has made big promises, and it remains to be seen whether he will deliver. His victory reflects the wish for change more than the conviction that this change can be brought about in any certain way. But that the American people have embraced the need for this change, and welcomed it in so triumphant a manner, speaks of good things to come. This is a victory for the minority voice, a recognition of the fascinating hybridity that embodies the American (and global) life. It is a remarkable moment to be a part of. Victory is ours.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Listmania

Right, so, hullo and everything. Long time n awl.

Here's the deal, you need to close your eyes and think of 3 books that make you happy. The first 3 that come to mind. No thinking hard allowed, tell me just off the top of your head.

Here's what I came up with:

1. My Family and Other Animals - Gerald Durrell
2. Boy - Roald Dahl
3. Abol Tabol - Sukumar Ray

I was a little amazed at what I got. Primarily because the last time I'd read any of these 3 books was over a dozen years ago, sometimes more. Yet these are what came to mind immediately. Now tell me yours.

As an afterthought, maybe we could share some of the less common books with each other, those who are in the same city could, at any rate.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

The way you treat a thing can change its nature.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Rose Aylmer

Ah, what avails the sceptred race!
Ah, what the form divine!
What every virtue, every grace!
Rose Aylmer, all were thine.

Rose Aylmer, whom these wakeful eyes
May weep, but never see,
A night of memories and sighs
I consecrate to thee.

-- Walter Savage Landor

I did not know her at all. It feels horrible now to wish I had. May she have left behind survivors.
To think that my last post featured a woman who had fought that same battle. And won. The irony.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

1. There is such a thing as knowing too much. An eventful past to reconcile with. And we haven't even got to my own.

2. I hate this template. But I hate the alternatives more. I also mean the blog.

3. With feeling comes pain.

4. I own 7 articles of maternity wear. My biological clock is set on snooze, apparently. This is costing me more than a baby. Dammit with the bloody hormones.

5. I still can't spell accommodate and obsessive correctly the first time.

6. I am incapable of writing academic papers. I am even less capable of writing chicklit. I have tried my hand at both. Not an hour ago. The paper begins with the myth of Echo and Narcissus. The chicklit began with the legend,"She blew a smoke-ring into the night air and declared, 'I hate tampons and men.'" I have wisely abandoned both. Paper and chicklit, not tampons and men.

7. This means I will never be rich or educated. Looking for one number millionaire male. Single, fat fetish preferred.

7. I have been winking at tiny human things. The response veers from great amusement to heartbreaking indifference.

8. Twice I dreamt of a room without a floor.

9. I think I got tricked.

10. I hate not being able to tell it like I feel it. I think I will do the fashionable blogshift.

11. Long-distance relationships:
pro -- No waxing! Ever!
con -- Right when you begin checking out that sexy geek, he will call and proceed to guilt the shit out of you. Besides, sexy geek can't tell if you're a man or a woman, what with all that virile undergrowth.

12. Bosses. Sleep eludes.

13. I'd written virulent outgrowth back there. I have GRE in a month.

14. Shit, I have a deadline and I can neither work nor sleep.

15. I watch Stacked to take fashion tips from the fat woman behind the counter. I don't know what the hell is going on in that show, and I don't see why Pammy's boobies should be considered ample substitutes for wit and humour. But that is none of my concern, because doods, I'm rooting for the fat chick. [I am not being condescending here, I just don't know her name or that of the character she plays. Or any of those characters. It's a very forgettable show.]

Five minutes later

Okay, googled and hyperlinked. Nobody's gonna call me a weightist. Her name's Katrina on the show. Her real name's Marissa Jaret Winokur, and she won a Tony! I liker.

Ten minutes later

This woman survived cervical cancer, had to get a hysterectomy done and didn't tell nobody about it! PLUS she won a TONY! And she was on one of them celebrity dance shows! Where she swung like a mad momma! She's big and pretty. I liker loads.




Pics courtesy www.etonline.com and www.instyleweddings.com

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Words, wide night

Somewhere on the other side of this wide night
and the distance between us, I am thinking of you.
The room is turning slowly away from the moon.

This is pleasurable. Or shall I cross that out and say
it is sad? In one of the tenses I singing
an impossible song of desire that you cannot hear.

La lala la. See? I close my eyes and imagine the dark hills I would have to cross
to reach you. For I am in love with you

and this is what it is like or what it is like in words.

-- Carol Ann Duffy

Being alone was easier despair.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Boss.

The FIRST thing they do is attack the ladies' loos.

I went up and down the Arts building Thrice to find a functioning ladies' toilet. They were either locked or being renovated. Or one had to leap over the (uninviting. [duh]) piece of shit at the entrance of the only one that was open.

So I made horrified Science dork stand guard in front of a men's loo in the paasher building while I peed. I never imagined I'd call anyone bhaiti. Khyak. I must be getting old.

No, seriously, I must. I can't hold it in for as long as I used to be able to.

What's troubling is, we used to not have to be nice to the boys while we hijacked their toilets. Ah well, a little discretion relieves tummy ache. I will stop now.

It's good to be back. Stories to tell already.

But I need to flush sometimes dudes. Give us back our rest rooms.

[Yesyes, comments. I remember. Lovely little people, feel my pain. And paralyzing lethargy.]

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Things/thoughts/people

Cold and wet, like the days.

Smile. Better than speech and discovery.

Which is a better word - fulsome or blossom? Blossom. So how come I get to use the other one more, hain?

Walk towards the light, walk into darkness. Either way, you're blinded.

Much has been left behind.

Stop asking me how I feel. It is enough that I feel.

Pursuit. Persuasion. Perjury.

"What does freedom taste like?" she asked. Rain? I don't know. Your thoughts?

Nothingness and a constant buzzing.

Unwell. Like a fever. Like a viral fever? Like contagion. Well, unwell. khyak

Yes, I feel better. Because you only want results. Because there is no truth in what you do not know. How I laugh sometimes.

Voices spilling. and William Butler Yeats.

For you I bleed myself dry. Coldplay. Yellow.

William Rubin, Esq. Him of the pickled liver and artful despondency.

Dan.

Was cat, now hanky.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Rubicon



Ascension by Anish Kapoor

Sunday, June 22, 2008

I swear I'll reply to comments. Sorry I haven't been. I haven't looked at this blog in over a month. Over Two months. Its oppressive radiance is .... uhm .... oppressive.

Help me God.
Listen, there's no point telling me to GET ON WITH IT PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE. I'm not going to post until I have a happy post, okay? I shan't. And there is nothing happy about my life right now. Well, except this one thing, but I won't tell you about him. He's on the gorgeous side, and if I block everything else out and concentrate on him then life is all peachy and full of fat-free sugary goodness.

Butbutbut. It isn't, really. And when was sunny side up a fun read anyway? Right. So I've just been googling "how to build self-confidence", and girls (and Tygr), I need to stop. Or, and I'll grant you this, get on with it. When I am out of this relentless cycle of self-pity and deathly lack of creative impulse, I shall fill your lives with joy again. In the meantime, I need a song. Someone give me a song. A Beatles' song. Now don't be predictably snarky and say "Help!".

Anyway I only blogged because one self-help site says to. And all this whining is "chipping away" at my flaws or something.

Step 3 is finding my "inner sunshine". Jeez.

Bye.

Friday, May 30, 2008

The Way Through the Woods

They shut the road through the woods
Seventy years ago.
Weather and rain have undone it again,
And now you would never know
There was once a road through the woods
Before they planted trees.
It is underneath the coppice and heath,
And the thin anemones.
Only the keeper sees
That, where the ring-dove broods,
And the badgers roll at ease,
There was once a road through the woods.

Yet, if you enter the woods
Of a summer evening late,
When the night-air cools on the trout-ringed pools
When the otter whistles his mate,
You will hear the beat of a horse's feet,
And the swish of a skirt in the dew,
Steadily cantering through
The misty solitudes,
As though they perfectly knew
The old lost road through the woods...
But there is no road through the woods.

-- Rudyard Kipling

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Unsent - ii

Dear Newspaper that pays me pittance,
Please let me have a life? Please help me afford the life I want? It only involves a couple martinis and a liposuction.
Did I ask too much?
More than a lot?
You gave me nothing
Now it's, all I got.


Dear Chief Sub-Editor who should totally not be reading this (but invariably will),
Look, it's a love song. Don't dooce me.

Dear Man who directed CS to this blog, all the better to cause its doom and mine,
Are ya happy now?

Dear All,
I have pms.

Dear People who have left me comments on the fat girl post,
I will respond. You know I want to. But I feel bloated now, and not at all phenomenal. I will respond when I have more conviction. :-D

Dear Empowered aunties who show untoward concern for my matrimonial career (and the fact that it never took off),
If you tell me about my designated role as a caregiver one.more.time, I shall ... fart.

Dear Boys,
Is it really true that men can't be friends with women they're not attracted to? Has every woman who has ever watched When Harry Met Sally asked you this question?
It really is quite intriguing.

Dear Bank Balance,
Where are you?

Dear Friends who have deserted me for other women and weddings,
Whoa? Let's get drunk soon. And dance to "hindi numbers".

Dear Blog,
I will be your caregiver.

Dear Rainbeau,
That sounded pathetic. Please stop.

Friday, April 25, 2008

I wish it had been something else I was writing

We remember the dead by what they meant to us.
I didn't know him at all. But I used to see him on the bridge with his girlfriend. We would laugh in our little corner, wishing they'd get a room. But then they kept at it, and we just got used to having them around. He was another bridge fixture, like we were. Weaselly little boy, always on the look-out for a joint. And now he's dead of an OD.

Is it just me or does it happen to everyone that when you hear that a friend, or a relative, or just a distant uncle or that boy you knew existed, passed away, the first thought that comes to mind is, "Why did it have to be someone I know?"? Why did it have to be someone I can associate with a face and a body and a voice. And glimpses from the past. Maybe it's just me.

One mustn't speak ill of the dead. I haven't very nice things to say about him. In all honesty, I don't know when the news of his death stopped being about him and became about me. The news came to me in an offhand way. Some boy in my department had died, I was informed. And I remember thinking of this other girl, who, a few days back had written that she couldn't stop crying. And at that time I'd thought she was crying because she had maybe messed up a test. And I thought I'd message her and say something inane like "stay away from Derrida, he cashed in on his poor spelling skills", but then I thought better of it because she's another person I don't know but was used to seeing around. I know you read this blog occasionally, and I want to say I feel stupid now. Although you probably didn't have to know any of this. Hang in there.

In the midst of life we are in death.
It's amazing how you think your life is pretty unremarkable and you've got it all chalked out, and then suddenly someone dies of substance abuse. I used to do all that myself, because hippie trash seemed like an effective emotional outlet. It wasn't. Maybe I was lucky I began falling sick and knew I had to stop. Or maybe I grew up.


I hope his parents forgive him. Jackass. I hope he finds what he was looking for.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

I wish words were music. Just pure sound, without language. No lyrics. If only we could all communicate through music, which needs no historical or cultural specificity for its beauty to be recognized, for its mood to be conveyed to even the lay ear. There would be no cultural crises. My cultural milieu and yours would be at par.

Of course, music has its own technical language, can be studied in terms of its own complex semiotics. But what if we didn't try? Would I feel any less in touch with something primal, something inexpressible when I listen to a raga whose grammar I do not care to fathom? There is a sense of betrayal - of the art, the artist and the feeling - in the attempt to decode music by talking about it in terms of 'good' or 'bad'. Some of us were having this discussion a while back, and all of us agreed that it is not rare to be unable to articulate one's enjoyment of a piece of music. Sometimes any kind of articulation becomes inadequate, unjust. I suppose it is true of all art forms.

Articulation in terms of identifiable language, the language of speech - that can be very problematic. Too determined by one's social background, 'upbringing', 'culture'. Too many misreadings, therefore. Too much inadequacy.

Sometimes I prefer the language of silence. Or the language of the body. They are not culturally relative, or a little less so.

Mostly, these days, I just wish words were music.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

An apologia for my thighs

I had a couple of peanut-butter-and-chocolate biscuits yesterday. A concerned friend told me I "should have some control", because I am capable of looking like "a goddess". Sure. Because getting off the carbs and onto a treadmill is the key to faith and world domination.
Skipping the gym and eating chocolate having thwarted my chance at divinity (only of the visually-appealing kind, though. a pity, but nevertheless), I've been wondering what it is that made me all defensive and angry at my friend. Our Indian goddesses aren't criticised for their belly, I was reading Sanskrit plays where the desirable woman's thighs were compared to banana trunks. I've got that metaphor down pat, promise.
I haven't read The Beauty Myth, but I'm curious to know why my responses to enjoying myself, to being comfortable in my skin - all wide circumference of it - is so ridden with guilt. I did come across this link about Wolf's book, though. It's messy but has some of the statistics that are in the book.
I am fat. I have a problem being fat, but it also bothers me that I should have this problem.
I refuse to go around telling myself that it is my "fault" that I am fat. It is not my fault that I enjoy eating food. It is not a fault that I have chosen not to adopt hunger as a life-mantra, but rather to indulge myself in the art of food, to be seduced by the wildness and variety of flavours and smells and colours that good food provides. My friend is proud of girls who measure out their intake in calories, who take only a spoonful of something sweet because it shows their "control". We are obsessed with the body, but I am yet to come across any woman, fat or thin, beautiful or plain - who is comfortable in her body. I don't know of a single woman who wouldn't change any one thing in her appearance, if she could. Prove me wrong if you will, and I will take comfort in your confidence.
When I was younger, I was also larger. I have grown up being fed on the concept of "thin is in". I was told that I will automatically be more beautiful, more attractive, more powerful, more of an achiever, most importantly, that I will be accepted more willingly - if my thighs are slim, if my stomach is flat. My teenage years were spent running (ok, ma, waddling) from one room to another, away from my mother mocking me for my flab, telling me I will never have a boyfriend, never be loved. I have grown up believing I am too large for love. I fought it then, it seemed too hollow, too hurtful to give in to. I didn't want love that was measured in proportion to the size of my hips. I didn't want to succumb to my mother's taunts - I fought back by refusing to fall in with her plans of sculpting a new, more socially acceptable, desirable daughter. I decided to disregard my body because it would make her mad, and it would make me hurt less at the humiliating paradox of being inadequate because I was too full.
But things didn't quite go according to book. I met men who loved me despite the girth, who loved me with all I came. I felt comforted by their acceptance of who I was. It was too unfamiliar to me. But the self-victimization of which so many - too many - of us are a part, caught up with me. I wanted to be perfect for those men who loved me. I thought if I fell in with these classifications of 'beauty', of "perfection", then I would make them happy. I thought I was doing it for them.
So I punished myself - I went without food, I ran, I walked, I swept floors, I did crunches, lunges, I pumped iron, I lived on soup and cigarettes. And the weight kept dropping. The lighter I felt, the closer to 'perfection' I got, the more deprived I felt, the more hollow, the more empty and unhappy, less liberated. Sure, I went shopping more often, but I also looked at myself more often, took the little things in life too seriously - thought twice before a dinner with friends, kept looking to see if my butt looked bigger or smaller than last week. Meanwhile, people were dying, kids were malnourished, and there I was, all proud that I had skipped dessert. Which would have been OK, if I had been happier, or healthier, but I wasn't. With every kilo I lost there was the discontent of finding that I still wasn't perfect, wasn't even near perfection, because I didn't have the perfect skin, the perfect nose, perfect mouth. I was not prettier than that girl at the movie hall the other day, leave alone the one in the movie. It wasn't about anyone else, it was about me not being ok with who I was.
I don't know where this self-hatred stems from. It's simplest to blame patriarchy, and perhaps also not completely unjust, come to think of it. I know a strong woman who has fought with poor body image all her life because it was the only resort of her emotionally weaker husband. He needed to make her feel small, to make her feel like she was too much where she should have been less. Less is more. A male friend's candour the other day:
i like slim people. because they look smarter, and and more agreeable to me. this is a notion that i have since i am born. and i cant change it.
Maybe it's the media's projection of unreal, impossible-to-achieve body images - airbrushed, botoxed, thighs vacuumed out, tummies tucked, food vomited, waxed, threaded, siliconed. Ripped apart. Stitched back up.
Then there's our cook, Sabita di. She's a large, beautiful woman, and one day when my mother (who obsesses about bodies, as much others' as her own) asked her, "Sabita, tumi eto kaj koreo mota hou ki korey? Onek bhaat khao?" she was quick to retort, "Ta bhaat khaabo na? Sharadin khetey khetey mori, bari giye duto bhaat na khele korbo ki? Mota roga tey kar ki aashe jaaye." Something to that effect, it was too long ago. Here was a woman who was blissfully unaware of what it is to be expected to conform to a particular kind of body - to be told that this is a desirable body, and this other one here, that's two sizes too large? that needs to be struck off the menu. Sabita Di diregards her body too, but she is not in denial of it.
Don't get me wrong, I don't support over-indulgence, I don't support gluttony, and I am not opposed to exercise. It is important, I feel destressed when I exercise. But to do it solely to conform to a popular conception of the body, of assembly-line women, all of them with ironed hair, tiny bottoms and flat chests - I will not fall into that trap. I'm doing it all the time, yes. But I want to get out of it, I need to get out of this constricting view of my body. My body is not bad, or ugly, or undesirable because it is not like a thousand other bodies. My body holds all my stories, my memories of touch, my experiences. It is mine to control, my domain. I want to live in it, not to try to run away from it. I want to be healthy, but not ashamed of who I am. So don't tell me about control, don't tell me I will be better if I'm two sizes smaller, because I'm pretty darned great anyway.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Happy Valentine's Day a.k.a I still don't make any sense to you

[last lines]
Clementine: I'm not a concept, Joel. I'm just a fucked-up girl who is looking for my own peace of mind. I'm not perfect.
Joel: I can't see anything that I don't like about you.
Clementine: But you will! But you will. You know, you will think of things. And I'll get bored with you and feel trapped because that's what happens with me.
Joel: Okay.
Clementine: [pauses] Okay.


I waited for that trite 'okay'. There is something very reassuring about how the film ends. We're all seeking acceptance, trying to come to terms. But the desire for sameness constantly clashes with the powerful allure of difference, of something new, untried, wild. Unfamiliar yet anticipated, dreamt about. Primal.
He didn't say it, at any rate. My imagined reality.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Unforgotten

Voici mon secret. Il est très simple: on ne voit bien qu'avec le cœur. L'essentiel est invisible pour les yeux.



Here is my secret. It is very simple: It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.



The Little Prince

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Absolutely nothing at all

Much in the nature of my newly-purchased coffee plunger, I have been leaving out the scummy sediment in slow, gentle pushes. Sometimes though, it gets a little overbearing. I wish people would come to terms.
Do you know what I hate about this blog? I will tell you. It's that you read it and I know exactly what you look like. Oh come now, don't go away. It's not like I'm going to be telling you anything meaningful in the slightest. Oh no, I don't feel angry and exasperated at AWL. Picture of calm, that's me.

I am so angry and exasperated. Doods.

The good thing is, I have crazy expensive sneakers. They're Nike, with shiny laces, but black and frightfully classy. I feel like I'm walking on bubbles. They give me a camel gait. It's something between crouching and walking on tippy-toes, and running. I'm not sure that's a good thing, but it sure as hell feels comfortable neck down. The neck hurts, though. How them camels manage it I'll never know. If any of you drop in at the South City Nike store, don't mention my name. They'll think you're crazy too.
But I have two kinds of laces. Yay!
I also have lovely coffee brung from foren. And chocolate. Tere paas kya hai?
Is it a little too obvious that I have nothing to say? South City mall scares me. It is mammoth. I keep thinking it'll come alive and be mean while I'm hunched over a window display.
But the Starmark! I heart the Starmark. I want to buy it and bathe in its literary abundance. I just wish there weren't so many unnecessary people.
I feel stupid sometimes.
Okbye.

Friday, January 25, 2008

All that remains is 9 saved conversations. A few emails. And a memory in half-truths. I have a bad habit of turning to the buried past, taking comfort in its deadness. I am averse to new confidences, I owe many who genuinely love and care for me my deepest, most heartfelt apologies. You are not the one I need. What I need is receding in time. As memories fade, archives get auto-deleted, I sometimes wonder what I will grab at next.
There are new memories, though. Beautiful photographs. I find myself singing these days. New experiences, mature, reasonable company. Impractical, passionate people. Love everywhere. I will not forget. And be forever grateful.

There are things I want to say, but this is not the place.
I am glad for french roast coffee.