Saturday, March 29, 2014

The Stunt I Pulled

First things first, I suck as a blogger.

Not as a writer, mind you. But blogger.
I violated perhaps the most fundamental rule of blogging; that of not being regular.

‘Most’ fundamental because apparently, little else about the blogging culture is. One needs little more than a valid email address and a coherent chain of thoughts to start blogging, although in the current scheme of things, even the latter stands to question.

Anyway, I do owe my inner child an apology for not being (more) indulgent.

So basically, about 3 months ago, what can probably be called the most stressful period of my life, started with little warning.

The house was undergoing massive renovation and revamping, and for better or for worse, I found myself at the steering wheel of this rickety ship, caught in a storm with gale force winds; a ship that has been threatening to keel over to either side and be blown to smithereens ever since.

I’m designing. Choosing. Buying. Fighting. Mediating. Managing. Everythinging. Ugh.

Almost all changes being incorporated in this renovation are functional and practical, and helping the house perform better, in some way or the other.

Except for one.

At whim, I broke a wall of my room and made this large sit-out window, shattering all general notions of privacy and security. Bam!

A lot of questions were asked.
Eyebrows raised at the free-wheeling expenditure. The idea of this unshakeable monolithic glass piece as a window to a young woman’s bedroom.

“How will we haul the glass up? Clean kaise karenge?”

“The neighbour’s servants will spend more time on their balconies now, you see, just to catch a glimpse.”

“Waterproofing! Baarish mein seelan?”

“Yeh toh peechey wali gali ki side hai!”

“What is the need?”

I pulled together my troops and devised strategies for everything. Everything! Pushed through with the decision with all my might (and stubbornness).

What is the need, indeed.


It’s done, now. And every day, for the past month, I have woken up to swaying eucalyptus trees; the sight of monkeys scurrying around in the abandoned, inaccessible overgrown and ripe green DDA land, my room flooded with morning light.

Sometimes at night, I spot owls in the trees.

When it rains, I can hear the wind in the leaves and dense thickets; it reminds me of the mountains I so love.

I've even constructed a low seat to make it laze-with-a-book-worthy (though I haven't run that mattress errand, yet).

It is my one, constant, never-disappointing source of happiness. :)

Sometimes, it's so good to just tap that instinct and stick with it.

Thank God I'm an Architect.

P.s. The glass did get hauled up; it has a corner hatch for ventilation; it gets cleaned with ease every day, and not a drop of water has percolated into the plaster; bless those Western Disturbances.

And the neighbour’s servants?

Roller blinds, bitches.


Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Like Walls Drawing Closer

The world has never ceased to amaze me, for all its glory in its various aspects and planes of existence. Meeting new people, having new experiences, living out of a suitcase (at least for some time every year), that is the dream.
Fortunately, I have been born with the means to put down a country or two on my passport every alternate year, which has expanded my view of life, and my exposure ever so much. This also means that I possess a political neutrality, a balanced outlook and a general level of adaptability.

This past month, I've spent most of my time exploring China, Mongolia and Russia with the family... parts of the world not familiar to the average US-UK-Aus hopping tourist.

Right now, I sit in a tiny Soviet era serviced apartment in Irkutsk, Russia, compelled to write my heart out.

My first brushes with Communism.

A totally different experience.
I feel choked.

There's a coldness about Russia that is not in the frigid climate. It's in people's eyes and expressions of cold disregard. It's in the boarded up gray buildings and the deserted roads and even in the dogs that don't respond to your whistling. Like a post-apocalyptic world. Communism may have made its exit 20 odd years ago but it's left a slew of dead oppressed lifestyles in its wake.

I'm sure all of Russia is not thus, and I look forward to Moscow and St. Petersburg, the outposts of Russian Tourism, where the post-Soviet youngsters enthusiastically throng the bars and actually talk to you, or so I've heard.

I'll try to give you an idea of how the USSR must've felt.
My apartment leaves me with this lingering feeling: I have nothing to look forward to in life. It's all choreographed.

Very direct. Very depressing.
That being said, I'm not depressed, just thankful that I'll be outta here and on my way westward tomorrow.

I encountered Communism in a very different way in China, which is still Communist.

Firstly because I couldn't understand jack shit. At least in Russia, the script is kinda sorta maybe familiar (even if it's just 10 familiar alphabets so you know that 'Супермаркет' above a store reads 'Supermarket').

Then, to my distress, I found out that YouTube and Facebook are banned in China. Also, anything, and I mean ANYTHING I wanted to google about the Tianenmen Square massacre came up as a failed page-load... As if a deliberate attempt to wipe out from history their one credible struggle for democracy. When I went to Tianenmen Square, I wanted to know where the 'Tank Man' incident had occurred. The guide's eyes widened in a kind of shock that I must admit reminded me of Harry Potter's utterance of Voldemort's real name and the reaction it provoked. My guide looked around to make sure nobody had heard. He quoted 'Chairman Mao' a little too loudly in his next sentence.

(For the uninitiated, the 'Tianenmen Square massacre' and 'Tank Man' are must-googles)

English publications in Beijing were hard to come by, and in a country where the media is largely infamously state controlled, I picked up a few English dailies.

It was full of news about China... It felt like a pathetic means of brainwashing. Like a big show. Not one page about the neighbours, not one section about the world.

Randomly, I went on to the webpages of some renown world news networks just to be up to date. An article caught my eye.

A gruesome picture of a man crumpled under a steamroller, his pulverized brains visible.

From rural China. Apparently he had protested when the government chose to acquire his agricultural lands. The Chinese authorities had ordered the execution.

Of course that news never made it to the Chinese daily in English.

The Chinese are like sheep. Truly. Gullible and very nice to make sign language with. And very clueless about what they are denied daily. It's almost sad.

Not surprisingly, I've made a lot of friends this month. Ha! A Finnish photographer, a group of gay Brit 30 something hippies, a Mongolian kid studying in Bulgaria, two Dutch girls and a bunch of travelling Aussies. My Dad found himself a bunch of Uzbeks who laugh and love with a lot of throaty belly shaking.
Note how I don't have a Chinese OR a Russian friend.

For all its flaws, India definitely has more sustainable political growth, but for the red tape. 

But hey, at least we're not Communist.

*Grimaces through her smile*

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Find A Boat.

It's cyclic. And you think you're important.

But billions have come and billions have gone and somewhere, somebody must've tried to live the life I'm living, or had the dreams I dream everyday.

People don't make history. History makes people. And they too diminish as time flies.

It's all cyclic.
The point is to go through it, one second at a time, and do what you're gonna do anyway.

So really.
I think we spend too much time dwelling on nonsense.
We'll all become something anyway, be with someone anyway, and even if it doesn't turn out the way we imagined, which in all probability it won't, we'll be okay anyway.

After a point, the things that scare you right now will not scare you. There will be newer things to be scared about.
There will always be something to be scared about. That's how you value stability.

After a point, the things that make you happy now, will cease to make you happy and you'll consider things you would never consider now.

Life is in flux. Constantly, everyday, bazillions of little factors you have no control over, work their way towards determining your future.
So why worry.

Don't be paranoid. Don't be a control freak. Enjoy your choices as you make them. Honour your commitments as you make them. Your decisions are yours. Their repercussions are yours. Do your thing.

Remember the words 'sorry', 'please', 'thank you' and 'I love you.'
Don't mean them without saying and don't say them without meaning.
More importantly, remember the people you say them to, and remember the people who say them to you.

Life is a river. It'll flow as it will. People tell you to find a rock. Your rock of stability.
Don't find a rock.
You'll sink.

Find a boat. It's more adaptable. And it floats.
Find a boat.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Deconstructing 'Classy'

Back with a bang, again, guys. Feels good. :)

I have recently encountered people and situations (at close quarters, too) which prompt me into asking a few vital questions.
What is classy? 

Is it that bag from Fendi? A BMW in the driveway? The classicists must be shaking their heads in disapproval. 

Maybe it's tied to the phenomenon of the 'nouveau riche' (people who come to amass wealth within their own generations, making them prone to being 'flashy', given their sudden exposure and access to 'upmarket' goodies)

But this ties class and finesse closely with economics. So what about accomplished masters of the arts (dance, music, the works) who always seem to be impeccably turned out and live modest, tasteful, simple lives? What about men in uniform; the Armyman with his evening peg of blended Scotch, and his tastefulness reflecting in the clink of the ice with the glass? He's not loaded. But oh my, he's classy. Maybe discipline and principle entail class.

Then again, perhaps it's in the ancestry. The history of your 'purakhs'. But how long do you ride on that lineage wave before the good breeding trickles out of the bloodline and is quickly replaced by money and misplaced arrogance?
I give it 1.5 generations from when the bloodline peaked. (!!)

Crap. We seem to be at crossroads with this deconstruction.

In my view, I closely associate with a number of people who I consider 'classy' and it has precious little to do with their money. Some are classy and financially 'humble' and others classy in spite of the crores they sit on.
An eclectic mix. 
Taste, and finesse don't show because of money. They show in spite of it, my loves.

Call me elitist but ostentatious displays of wealth (and how much we, as a people, put by them) strike me as vulgar.

Money is but an essential commodity. A rationalization of the barter system. Of course, it augments aspiration. And aspirations are a must to keep people from stagnating. The goal however, is to rise above your purchasing power and enrich yourself with experiences. Broaden your horizons. Put your money into books, drama, travel, the likes. Try and absorb what's happening around you. It's the first crucial step to breaking free. Un-shackle your mindset, without abusing your upbringing and values.

Personally speaking, there's great perspective to be gained in knowing that you have access to 1st A/C train tickets but find yourself in the Sleeper compartment by a strange twist of fate. And it doesn't bruise your sense of self. You grow.

Over time, your experience, adaptability and dexterity in dealing with situations across a spectrum of possibilities become the ultimate exhibit of your class.

And your varied exposure will manifest in a refined, selective, personalized expression- your home, your get-up, the friends you make, but most most most importantly in how you carry yourself.

With dignity. 

In other words:
Money may buy love (in stating that, a hopeless romantic just conceded defeat. :( )
Money may perhaps even buy class (though I'm a strong detractor of that statement).

But money will never buy that deadly cocktail of confidence, humility and dignity.

Stay classy, bitches.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Out with the Old

Friends,fans and stalkers, let's be honest.

There's no dearth of life-inspirational stuff on your Facebook home feeds or your Tumblrs, and for those of you that dig a little deeper, on the rest of the internet.
But for the most part, life sucks. It takes a helluva lotta compromise and nail chewing to strike that all-elusive balance between hyperventilation and ignorance, especially when you seem to not be going anywhere, from where you stand.
And then there are those times when you wish you had a fast forward button. Most mid-semester bits, pan out thus, for me. So you'd think, into my 10th semester in architecture school, I'd be fairly well equipped to deal with these... 'bleh phases' (as I fondly call them).
But here I am, as despondent and uninspired, demotivated and procrastination-prone as ever… on a vicious hunt for meaningful experiences.
My day? Submission-Class-Gym-Sitcoms with my sister-Work-Sleep-Submission-Class-Gym-Sitcoms with my sister-Sub… you get the picture.
Bleh. I was considering a bhang outing. Or running away. Seriously.
It was time to do something. ANYTHING. Soooo I embarked on a journey, charting many a time and place (I love this dramatic verbal shit I do), spanning many…ahem… possible solutions to my despondent state.

Possible Solution 1:I skyped with my best friend in France, trying to get him to inject some life into my dead veins.
Outcome: Perspective gained. I felt significantly lesser lost, cheery too. Love you, Kins.

Possible Solution 2:I tried whiskey, oh yes sir. A good 4 pegs to drown my bleh-ness, last friday. Sat with one of my oldest friends, pondering about life and its intricacies, with Angus and Julia Stone droning on in the back.
Outcome: Perspective gained. I felt like life wasn't a rut, really. That I love the people I love and the people that love me, love me regardless. Ah, whiskey. :)

Impossible but Bang-on Solution 3:Faaaaak! I cleaned my life!
Before you guys jump, it's  hyper-important to know that parents are ALWAYS ALWAYS right. Even if it all sounds wrong when they say it to you. The Universe finds a way to make them the 'Heroes', no shit.

Here's what happened.
Ever since I bought my new laptop, Dad had been pestering me to format my 4- year old one for his office. On a dreary Saturday evening, I decided to just do it and get it done with.
But.. I couldn't find the charger. Not a great situation to be in. I searched hell and high water and turned up with nothing.
So began a slow process of emptying every drawer, every cupboard, every dresser of its contents. The last 5 years of my life lay unravelled and mixed up and piled on the floor. What an eyesore. I eventually found the wretched charger, which wasn't even in my room in the first place.

But fact of the matter is, the last 5 years were.

My bed contained drawers piled high with submissions I didn't have the heart to throw, interspersed with tidbits from my personal life, I'd forgotten, on purpose, perhaps.
I was sleeping on the past.

As I went about my business of sorting, my mind was on a parallel plane of time-travel.
The first to go were the scrap models, and the sheets I'd laboured on. Oh how my tummy knotted. Semester-by-semester, I threw it all away, into the recycling bin. I'd kept them thinking, they need to be kept, I worked so hard on them. But the truth is, today, tomorrow or 30 years later, their utility will still be scrap. Bummer, life.

Next, I cleaned up my dresser- the makeup and the jewellery.. giving the ones I'm too old to sport, to the maid and her kids. Earring after earring, necklace after necklace, handbags too, from my teen years; I packed them into little boxes and passed them on to her. The delight on her face can't be captured in words, but it totally made up for the knotting tummy.
The half-used stationery, bought solely in excitement at the prospect of buying new stationery, was given to the servants' children, who mouthed wide eyed 'thank yous' of awe.  How little it all meant to me eventually, and, how much it means to them! I felt good.
I tore off used pages from at least 14 drawing books and gave the bound clean pages to the drivers' and utensil cleaners' kids. Found some old library books I'm sure I'll have to pay a bomb of a fine on.  The miscellaneous things- a pair of drumsticks, mountaineering Captain's gloves, school flag. It brought years and emotions rushing back.

It was fascinating.

Slowly… the mess thinned, the drawers emptied, and then I came to the most gratifying part of the exercise. Also, perhaps, the most fraught with risk.
Diaries. Collages. Old relationship- keepsakes. Things I didn't have the time to make a decision about, when these decisions get made. They were just hurriedly pushed to the back of a dresser, and consequently my memory.
I sat and read. For a long time. I used to be this person. I used to think like this. I had these feelings. I was this brave. I was this vulnerable. I was this resilient.

I looked back and all the dots connected. I wasn't stagnant, I wasn't even stagnating when I thought I was. I was growing and growing and each day and each feeling was of consequence… It made me who I am.

These things were to be treasured. A lot has changed.
And then I tossed them. The diaries, the keepsakes, everything.
This too shall pass.

I felt so peaceful. So new. Fresh.

It's time to make space for some new diaries, some new keepsakes, and as they mount, which I think/hope they will, to make space in my heart and mind and environment for the next stage, whatever it may bring.

I'm going to graduate, bitches. I'm at the cusp, yes. Excited, and in love.
Out with the old.
P.s. The parents DO get it right. Go clean your room!!