As I write this blog post, I am living one of the most essential aspects of the fifty’s. I am sitting at marine drive with one of my people who has found her calm, her peace and has chosen to pass out at marine drive. In this moment, I realise that it does not take much to find trust, to find faith and love and compassion and a zeal for life. We decided to spend the last few hours talking about all that life is, drinking multiple glasses of sangria and now we choose to be facing the sea and letting all of it go and just be asleep and calm in front of the sea. A lot of people might say we are drinking up the lives of livers and the spirits of our lungs, but we are here, as alive as we can be, as calm and at peace we can be, living and loving life. This is it. And it doesn’t get better than this. So find your mountain, find your sea and live as you want to, as much as you can, dreaming of what it can be. This is us. People with a spirit for life, giving up all that’s expected of us, giving up all that we can be and just being what we are. That is, people who are humbled. Humbled by the vast sea, humbled by the mighty mountains, humbled by a life that consumes yet gives, unconditionally. This is us. People consumed by spaces and not each other.
X: Have you never seen spring before? Why are you wonder struck?
Y: Of course I have. But, I don’t think I have ever seen it this way.
X: What do you mean by ‘this way’?
Y: Okay here it is. I am on the road twice a day. I am not on the road for leisure. I am mid routine. I have places I have to be. I want to reach those places as soon as I can. But, for the last few days, these rides have been just so…. I have been a spectator to spring where I pretty much get a glimpse of these beautiful frames of spring for just seconds, but oh my. I didn’t remember spring to be this way.
X: Okay. But, what is this ‘way’ you keep referring to? How did you remember spring if not the way it is? You know, how it is every year.
Y: I remember spring as lazy afternoons, sitting in the garden, preparing for exams. I remember spring as 50 varieties of flowers growing in our garden. I remember spring as the chapter about the gulmohar tree in my school textbook. I remember spring as curtain drawn rooms which are just perfect to sleep.
X: Aah. You are just being your poetic self now, aren’t you? There is nothing new to spring this year then. It’s just all in your head.
Y: Of course. It’s me. But it also has to be different for you, right? Are you telling me you have experienced spring the same way each year?
X: I don’t think I understand what you are asking me. I have experienced spring to the extent where it’s a season of blossom all around you. That’s it. Why does it have to be more or different? For me it’s not the unusual textbook and afternoon references. For me, it’s simply the flowers and bloom.
Y: Alright. I hear you. Let’s let go of the subjectivity of experiences argument for now. I have a question for you though. It’s interesting how you refer to spring as bloom. But, tell me something, do you not see the bare branches that bear flowers? I mean it’s bloom for the flowers, but really, is it so for the branches?
X: I am going to answer your question with a question to you. Why do you think the branch and the flowers are experiencing the whole process separately? While the branches hold the flowers which bloom, they are also experiencing the blossoming, don’t you think?
Y: You make an interesting observation. Have you seen those orange flowers on the bare trees? The same ones which fall down on the road and look equally beautiful. Maybe, spring is not about the blossoms. Maybe the blossoms are merely a contradiction to bring out the beauty of all the bareness, of all the concrete?
X: I think this is where I would like to bring back the whole subjectivity of experiences argument back. You choose to see beauty in contradictions. For me the beauty lies in the way they effortlessly blend. Maybe, because you mentioned that this year you have only observed spring while you have been on the move. Maybe, if you stand still at a place for some time and look at it, you might see it the way I do.
Y: So, what you are saying is that I am choosing to find beauty while I am fleeing?
X: No. All I am saying is that I have stood still and watched spring and it does look different from how you describe it. Maybe, for you, even if you stand still it may look like a contradiction. Or, it may not. Or, it maybe something completely different. Who knows?
Y: *Sigh* We are back to the ‘who knows’ spot.
X: Hahaha. Yes. We really don’t know, do we? But it’s fun figuring it out.
Y: It’s fun till you keep finding your next cues. The moment you don’t know where to go or what to do, it ceases to be figuring out and turns into being lost. And, then really all you wish for is for the smell of spring to lead you back or lead your forward.
X: Wow. That was some escalation. What are we talking about?
Y: Who knows.
X: Oh common! How did the tone of this conversation go from being exploratory to being existential?
Y: We are talking about spring. Nobody talks about spring, X.
X: That’s not true. Everyone talks about spring. There are festivals which celebrate it as the beginning of a new year!
Y: Well yes. Everyone does talk about spring and it’s beauty and all the flowers and all the bloom. But, they talk about it as if the season only resides in trees and flowers. Seasons reside in us. No one talks about that. People talk about what they see. They don’t talk about what they feel.
X: How do you feel, Y?
Y: I don’t know X. I don’t know what this conversation was all about. I don’t know what spring feels for me. All I know is that while I flee with purpose, spring looks breathtaking on bare trees and in bunches. I love it when the sun sets through these branches and the flowers glisten. I have tried to click these frames so many times. But each picture has always been a blur. Maybe, I need to stop at a spot and try clicking then. But then, I fear that I might already know how it will look, if I pause, stand still and look at it.
X: Take it easy, Y.
Y: Hahaha. Yes. I should take it easy. I think I will just go to my room, draw the curtains and take a nap while the sun shines brightly and all things bright and beautiful bloom. Outside.
Do you remember that one point in your life when the pace of your life changed?
I do. It happened when I started actively working on building and sustaining relationships in my life. And, ever since, the pace has been a constant build up towards madness.
The realization of this madness dawns upon me each time I sit down to write one of these blog posts. Being in a space writing, listening to music, speaking through pictures is what I chose to heal and cope. And, so, each time I sit down and make a conscious effort to address and process things in my life, I am very often lost. I have no words. I have no music. And none of it adds up to a picture.
These moments are frustrating. These moments slow me down. They leave me with a constant want to address it, but also with a realization that I do not know how. This is precisely why, this blog which was supposed to be updated every week, is now updated whenever I can. It’s no longer one week at a time which will add up to my fifty’s. It is now an indefinite period of time, till I reach my fifty’s. For now, I am completing a decade and I am just happy to have arrived.
As I arrive at my tenth, my usual space of doing this has changed. As I transition, I want to express gratitude for the space I have recently moved on from. Thank you, Malviya. Of all the things I miss about you, I miss walking back to you the most. Also, thank you for giving me a beautiful friendship to hold on to. Parting with you felt right. Thank you, for being the end I strive for.
Speaking of endings, I have to tell you that happiness can be an ending. I don’t know if it’s important for you to know this. But, it is for me. Ends can be happy. They can leave you with an energy to make it all better. They can make you believe in your ability to be truly happy.
Do you remember that one point in your life when you realized that you too fail people?
I do. In fact, this has been a recent realization. However, when this realization dawns upon you, you also find yourself using every bit of your energy to no let these failures translate into losses. Losses you do not want to incur. And, at the end of it all, in these attempts you find your saving grace.
How many times have you told people that they have hurt you or even acknowledged it to yourself – that you are hurt?
I don’t think I ever have. But I am starting to. It is tough one because it’s never just one step. Just yesterday, I remember reading this post which spoke about how all it takes is that one moment of courage, when you take the risk you have feared for the longest time and how that makes all the difference. I am sure it holds true for many. But, I also want to point out, that there are times when you take that step, when you muster all the courage in the world, when you make up your mind about taking the risk and you do; but despite that sometimes, you simply get back nothing. Nothing at all. And then you’re left wondering that what is it that you could do more.
Is there anything you could have done more? No.
So I guess it’s time to accept it for yourself that you are living with hurt and someone is responsible for it.
Off late, there is one word, which I have been repeating very frequently whenever I have addressed how I feel. The word is – unraveling. The feeling this word accompanies is an unsettling one. It feels like losing grip. But I also know that unraveling also means a certain form of resolution. While I know this, I am still a few steps away from believing it.
Writing this blog post has been tough. It has taken me days to finally do this. I know I am still hiding behind words, but words make me feel safe and I would like to believe that not all hiding is an act of cowardice. It is often an act of survival, a feeling of comfort and a feeling of hope that there are a few who will understand. And, that’s enough.
For now, this is enough.
Long time? Aah no. You never leave me. You linger. You make me dance. You always bring joy. Remember Joy? Joy is the girl you followed everywhere! Why? Because your mother told you so. And, well, in a space where you were so lost, Joy was your only known destination.
You’re a song I love to sing. You’re the heartbreak which will always call me home.
You’re my heart soar. The heart soar where my face is flushed and my heart feels like it will explode. You’re the sudden rush of energy which has me living life at a pace where I am almost ahead of Joy and not seeking her to not be lost.
You’re the sound of a cello. Or, rather two cellos. Or, maybe a saxophone. I guess what I am trying to say is that you are magic. You make it all okay. More than okay.
Have you ever wondered, Cecilia? You’re my words of joy. And, somehow you always speak of a heartbreak. Maybe, that’s when heart truly breaks. When in moments of time you experience beauty, honesty and happiness. I am your Jude. And Cecilia, you’re the song I take and make it so much better.
Not Betty better. Rather, butter better.
Sheesh. I don’t make sense. But, baby baby, oh, how else do you even write? Remember those notebooks which had this printed on their back side – “Thoughts make words”. And also, something about words leading to action? Hah! Clearly, it must have been phrased by a human mind – always trying to put thing in order.
What about the times, when there are no thoughts? When only tunes linger on your lips and not words. And, the words that do, only speak to you. All communication fails and expression triumphs. Of trumpets and triumphs. The triumphs you sing of. The triumphs which make my heart swell. With Joy, of course. She is always around. And I am always following her.
Cecilia, you’re the anthem I will stand up for. Just imagine Cecilia. You play. A group of people stand up. And they sway. And they smile. And maybe some even twirl. You make me dream of a utopia, Cecil.
You see what I did there? You and I are on a pet name basis now. Love has been established. The trumpets are ready. The flags shall be unfurled. And, we shall flourish.
Or maybe not. Clearly, I have the tenets for establishing love all wrong.
Anyway, Cecilia. Tonight was fun. A few hours of the good times.
Won’t be away long,
Did I tell you about my Bombay trip? Of course, I didn’t. But, I have been eagerly waiting to.
And here it is.
Bombay was my gift to myself, as I turned 24 this month. I made sure my first weekend as a 24 year old was a stellar one.
At 3:00 pm, on my birthday, I left my house with my bag pack for Bombay. The moment I stepped out and took an auto for the metro station, it began. I moved at a pace so relaxed, it almost felt like I am wearing a beach hat and commuting across Delhi, sipping on a Margarita. As I came up from the metro station towards the New Delhi railway station, I saw the sky and how it was blanketed with black clouds. The rains were here to officially kick start, what I like to call, the good life.
The New Delhi railway station was oddly empty on a Friday afternoon. I strolled across the foot over bridge, looking at a city I have called my own for years now. I was amazed at this feeling of belonging, which had come back to me after a long time. Here, I was ready to escape it and just when I was leaving, I allowed myself to see the beauty, I have known, but chosen to forget. Maybe, we do well when distant, Delhi.
I reached my platform and walked till my coach. My coach was parked under a tunnel and I could not be any more thrilled about it. I perched myself on my side lower seat. The bedding arrived and by 5:30, I was nice and cozy in my bed for the next 12 hours, ready to read and sleep.
Oh dear. I slept and slept. What did I tell you? The good life was back.
I woke up the next morning to the ghats. And then, came Borivali. The locals whizzed past. I could not stop smiling. Fuck yes. This was happening.
I got down at Bombay central. At this point, I have to reiterate and give a special mention to my pace, throughout this trip. Relaxed is a pace and I was acing it. I walked from the platform I arrived at to the platforms for the local trains. I bought my 10 rupee ticket, hopped onto a local which was pretty empty since it was a Saturday, got my window seat and sat at an angle which gave me a 180 degree view of everything around me. I was in awe of the city. I was still a newbie who wanted to see it all.
I reached my place of stay. Told my relatives all about how I was back to do some solo chilling. Then, I took a long long shower, wore my vacation shirt, packed my bag with an umbrella, shades, earphones and a book and set out for my solo day out in SoBo (South Bombay).
Took an auto to Khar. Took a moment to register how their were coins in my wallet after 2 auto rides. Bought another 10 rupee ticket and set out towards Churchgate. I got down at marine lines. I climbed the stairs and as I walked on the foot over bridge, I saw it. There it was. The sea in its full glory.
From then on, for pretty much the rest of the day, all I did was walk. I walked by the sea. I sat by the sea. I stared at buildings. I noticed the face of the person, I crossed the zebra crossing with. I clicked pictures. I wrote mushy captions. I told my favorite people about just how happy I was. It was all so good. And then it go better.
It started to rain. I took out my umbrella, like a pro, and continued to walk. I moved on instinct. Suddenly, it started to pour and I took shelter under a shade and watched the rain. Oh, what beauty. The old buildings of Kala ghoda, the streets of Bombay and rain.
As I stood there, thinking about what I should do next, a sense of familiarity dawned upon me. I was near a cafe I had been to before and was also extremely special for me. I enquired with a guy standing next to me about the cafe and he told me that it was right at the corner of the street.
While walking, I had been hoping to go to a place which serves beer and good food. It was a lazy afternoon for me and a beer just felt right. And, that is exactly what my instincts led me to. My instincts led me to a Parsi cafe which served alcohol. Damn. I won’t say my day was perfect. Rather I think perfection defined my day.
I sat at the cafe. Alone. With a beer and yum Parsi food. I plugged in my earphones and began to write. Write what? This post.
By the time I got out it was bright and sunny. As I continued walking, I came across art displayed outside an art gallery by an upcoming artist. He had used the local tickets with paint to depict different things. The artwork had my attention. For me it spoke of Bombay and distances travelled. I had a short conversation with the artist. I told him how I loved his idea of using the tickets. And, it felt good.
I spent the rest of the day walking, hopping from one place to another, drinking, eating and laughing with a friend. My day one in Bombay speller contentment for me and my 24 year self had learnt some very important things about herself by the end of the day.
I started my second day with breakfast facing the marine drive, a space which defines Bombay. Post that, I hopped on a train and headed back to SantaCruz. The rest of the day was spent with family, eating, talking and laughing. Eating to an extent where I had to pop in pills by the end of the day. Family time was also coupled with solo bookstore and walking time. I had found my balance and I had found it on my very own two feet.
My third and last day began with a realisation, that at some point in your life it is essential that we do what we do during our routine phases of life for leisure. A year back when I was in Bombay for my post graduation, I would frequently take a bus back from where my relatives lived to go back to campus. Back then waiting for the bus, riding the bus felt like such a task. However, this time around I decided to do it for fun, to reminisce the old times and I cannot begin to explain how calming my relaxed demeanor was. I stood at the bus stop for an hour, staring at trees and buildings, smiling. Even after an hour when the bus didn’t show, I simply took an auto without any feeling of irritation.
College is special for me. And, visiting it this time was equally special. However, I realised that it was not my highlight for this trip. Why? Because this trip was not about nostalgia for me. It was about defining a lot of things for myself. It was about new experiences. It was about asserting that there are somethings which will always take precedence for me. And that no one can take that away from me.
After a few hours on campus, I took a cab to SoBo and spent the next three to four hours at a beautiful cafe, facing the sea, reading my book, alone in peace.
My last few hours in Bombay were defined by people. People who are very dear to me. While with one it was about realising how important it is to keep going in our lives by striving towards newness, with another it was about simplifying our lives and being true towards how we feel.
I began writing about this trip at the cafe. But couldn’t finish it. I tried to complete it again at home, but couldn’t finish it. Today, as I finish writing this post, I realise it has taken me more than a month to do this. But I also realise just how fresh that trip is in my mind. And how it has defined my life ever since I have come back.
Bombay, 2017, will always be a cherished memory for me. It has brought back and lead me to a lot of things in life for which I will eternally be grateful. Thank you, Bombay. For me, you are not an escape. You are an assertion. An assertion which was much needed for me as I completed yet another year of my life.
Weeks and weeks of wanting to write. Wanting to write about lazy afternoons with my mother and my grandmother. Wanting to write about how there are fleeting moments of realization that those afternoons are a memory now.
Weeks and weeks of wanting to write about how a movie and it’s songs are my pills of enthusiasm.
Weeks and weeks of wanting to write about the lead singer of my favorite band passing away. Wanting to write about how Chester’s tribute to Chris Cornell reminded me of a time when conversations with friends were about how if ever anyone of us passed away, life would be a possibility, a possibility difficult to imagine.
Weeks and weeks of wanting to write poetry. A poetry not written with an intention to hide, but with an intent to appreciate.
Weeks and weeks of trying not to forget how to heal. Weeks and weeks of knowing that I have to get back.
Weeks and weeks have passed and I am back. Back to healing. Back to being in a space where candles illuminate the sky and lamps cast shadows on the wall. Where friends occupy the couch in your house. Where you wake up and wear your holiday shirt. Where Ed Sheeran sings ‘Galway girl’ and your speaker starts working that very moment. Where you dance, laugh and grow stronger.
Today’s writing, flow of music, the space I am in, is nothing short of bizarre (I am certain you will agree after listening to that playlist). But it is a bizarre I want to express gratitude for. Gratitude, a word, I don’t hover over much, but a word today I delve in.
Gratitude for having found the space this blog gives me. Gratitude for comfort which comes to me in the form of writing, music and spaces.
Just a few days back, a friend and I were talking about how, we don’t have a vision for what our life should look like. While some people have that vision, some people like us don’t. It is strange that just a few days after the conversation, I find myself being a fence hopper. Today, I have a vision or rather a resolve I know I will fulfill. It is this resolve of achieving my fifty’s. Of living my fifty’s. Thoroughly. To have not one but multiple visions to look back upon.
You don’t realise that you have forgotten what being under an open sky feels like, till you see it again.
I went for a run yesterday. After days and days of planning, I finally put on my new shoes and went for a run. The whole day I had been wondering where I would go. I had always noticed this park near my house, but had never gone inside. Google told me that it was actually a DDA park and should definitely be explored.
I entered the park and started walking. It seemed like a well maintained park. People of different ages, genders, classes were all around. While some played, some walked/jogged, some loitered around, some found cozy corners and some found shady spots. Oh and there were dogs. 🙂
The initial stretch was covered with trees. After about ten minutes of walking and jogging, I reached a stretch of the track where suddenly the sky appeared all over me. I looked up and I saw a clear sky, blanket all of us with only a slight glimpse of buildings at the horizon. I knew I had found my favorite part of the park. I also realized that it had been long since I was under the open sky with nothing obstructing my view of it. It almost felt like coming up for fresh air and getting my due share of oxygen.
Today was my second day of successfully sticking to my running plan. I saw the open sky today too. I have also developed a route that I follow. I begin my run first on the track which is covered by trees and then end by doing the stretch under the open sky. It’s like an incentive to keep running and not give up. Not that the track with trees is bad. But well, clearly my heart lies with the open sky.
You don’t realise how much you truly miss something, till a memory brings it all back.
I stayed the night at a friend’s place a few days back. Both of us were tired and just wanted to crash. However, we decided to do one thing before we go to sleep. We played a song (Nindiya re) we had once played when were in college (in the hostel) on repeat and slept for hours at a stretch. Peacefully.
We played the song. I closed my eyes and the very next moment I had a clear picture of the window in our room. That window has to be the prettiest window I have ever slept next to in my life. I did not see through that window. I dreamt. Of the cottage in front. Of the tiny yellow window. Of beaches which lie beyond palm trees. And the picture stayed throughout till I drifted off to sleep.
I realized how much I missed the sleep I got next to that window which always had the open sky up there for me. Sometimes with stars, sometimes with a sun shining down and sometimes (the times I remember the most) with clouds pouring down rain.
You don’t realise what you will miss the most about a person, till the person starts living the memory you wish to reminisce together, alone.
I wrote another note on my phone yesterday :-
“Despite everything that has gone down, there is still a connect. A connect strong enough for me to laugh and miss you. Miss you and want to be there with you. I don’t know if you still say things like “Are you seeing this?” in your head when you are there; a place I want to be.
Do you miss me? Was this our connection? Love for a space and city? Do you feel it too?
I am there with you. Hiding behind a pillar for all the walls we have built, but still knowing that you are happy and knowing exactly what is it that makes you happy.
Not strangers, after all?”
I realise now that we connected best under the open sky. I realise now that we connected and didn’t get consumed in a spiral void, when we had a sea and an open sky to look at and talk about.
I realise now that we stopped talking about the open sky.
We don’t realise a lot of things. Up until it comes back to us. Sometimes as a breath of fresh air and sometimes as a reminder that you might be becoming a person you don’t want to become. Whatever it may be, it comes back. All you need to do is take a step back and look up. Towards an open sky.
“ज़रा नज़र उठा कर देखो….. दुनिया की इस भीड़ में, सबसे पीछे हम खड़े।”