Things I forget

Song of the post: Moonlight by Henry Lau (purely for vibes)

I scroll through Instagram or Twitter, seeing lots of art and wishing I could do this and that and that and oh, that! I hate this feeling. I hate it when I don’t enjoy the art that I’m seeing, instead just comparing myself and my basic skills and my brain devoid of original ideas to thousands of people whose work I admire, who are seasoned artists, or just people who simply enjoy the thing they do.  

I forget to do that. I forget to enjoy the art piece that I’m looking at. I forget that the things I see are by hundreds of different people, if not thousands, and the urge to be them, the urge to be anyone but me at that moment is real. 

I forget me. I forget how it is to be me, to make art like me, to enjoy art like me, to like things like me. I try remembering but sometimes it’s vague, tickling the edge of my brain, and sometimes that is enough for me to latch onto and haul myself up. But sometimes, my fingers grapple but can’t get a good grip on it because I’m so nervous and sweaty. So, I let it go then.  

It’ll come back eventually.   

I remember friends’ birthdays till the day before but forget to message them on the day of.  

Until last year, my phone’s gallery would be filled with pictures of the sky. I had promised myself that I would take a picture of the sky at least once a day, in the hopes that I would get out more. At least to the balcony. But most days, when I manage enough time to get out of the bed where I sit to work, I leave my phone behind.  

I don’t forget, I don’t think, but I guess I just want to leave it all behind, even if it is for a few moments. Just forget it all and simply bask in the golden light of the setting sun.   

I don’t remember all the skies that I’ve seen, but they have provided me with solace that I cannot find elsewhere.  

I know I forget ideas, so my one note is filled with randome words and thoughts and voice notes that move me to tears because I had forgotten it existed, and forgot that I could even think like that.  

I can’t remember the last time my hand was in no pain.  

There are some recipes that I absolutely love, like this chicken tawa fry that I’ve made approximately two hundred times. But every time I make it, at every single step, after each ingredient, I refer to the recipe I wrote down in my three-journals old journal that is fading away with time, with the intention of making a cute illustration for it. The intention was never forgotten but the recipe always does.  

I remember some lyrics to some Korean songs but forget what it means right after I read it along with the song.  

When I reread a fanfiction thinking I hadn’t read it, only to be absorbed by it so much that my workday passes by in a snap and the 50-thousand-word piece is over and my work is not done but my heart feels enriched.  

Every time I look at the moon, it feels like I’m seeing her for the first time, always taking my breath away. It’s good that I forget how pretty she can be because otherwise how else will I appreciate her beauty? 

Sometimes I see the sunset and think that’s the most beautiful sunset I’ve ever seen but then I see it again the next day and go, “Wow, that’s so beautiful.” 

(I had promised myself to write a blog post by the end of February because I wanted to go back to my roots so here it is. Also WordPress is making really fucking difficult for something that takes like 5 minutes to post. )

Aging more , understanding less

Song of the post: Intro: Persona

Every time I listen to the chorus of Intro: Persona, RM’s words, ‘Persona, who the hell am I?’ cut through me and leave me wondering, ‘Yeah, who really am I?’  

Sometimes I feel like I know myself. When I’m arguing with Appa about decisions—life-altering ones like whether or not to buy a new flavour of chips, when I’ve already put two more packets in the shopping cart; or trivial ones like ordering biryani from Nandhini or Biryani Mane—he doesn’t agree with, I have very nearly screamed at him, ‘I know what I am doing, I know myself better than you know me’. 

Then there are moments when I surprise myself. When the dosa doesn’t tear as I’m flipping it, when that extra drizzle of oil in the kadai actually helps, when choosing the bigger paintbrush gives me a better result than the small one that I usually go for, when I manage to keep calm as I make phone calls to strangers during work, asking them to be on time for an event. 

These little moments, as insignificant as they seem, make me wonder if I really, truly, know myself. I understand my thoughts, my decisions, my preferences, but these only amount to one facet of a universe of my own. We are in an age where knowledge is power, and with the earth spinning so fast (30 kilometres per second!) and the world changing at lightning speed, it is inevitable that we change along with it. I also wonder if one can ever really keep up with all of these changes and still be confident enough to say, ‘Yes, this is me’. 

‘Write, please, because it is still possible to do that.’ 

As I think about this prompt from time to time, there are thousands of ideas and phrases swirling in my head that I struggle to make sense. I seem to have forgotten that I can still write, and these words on the competition poster have stirred up a dormant part of me, hungry for words on paper, starved of feelings in my heart.  

I wake up at odd hours of the night because I have thought of something great, and I would much rather annoy my sleepy self as I quickly type the words down in my notes app, than wake up in the morning, rested and heavy with regret.  

I have missed her, this person, this part of me who itched to write, who wanted to write about the world but didn’t know how, so she started with cautious, baby steps. This part of me that used to be so fearless, that decided to one day just hide. Why did I hide? 

I guess writing came easier when I was younger. Like when it was easier for me to look up at the blue sky and see the clouds in all their glorious weirdness—shaped like bunnies and mushrooms and… wait, is that Perry the Platypus? I don’t know if it was because I was naïve and lacked experience or because I simply did not feel as much as I do now. I am not sure. Maybe it was easier because the words occupying my mind weren’t so many and so random then. As I’ve grown older, I’ve seen more of life, and gotten to know myself better. My mind has become a cacophony of thoughts from which I can only pick out phrases in short, intense bursts; and I feel that if I don’t catch them right then, I’ll never see them again. It feels like now, when I look up at the blue sky and all I can see are…clouds. Just plain white fluffy clouds–stratus, cumulus, nimbus. 

Which are really pretty, too!  

When I look at myself in the mirror and try to straighten my posture, I see a short and petite body filled to the brim with pretty songs and cottage-core reels and watercolour paintings and stormy skies and harem anime and ice mocha at constant war with filter coffee and Starry Night socks during rainy nights. A new kind of fear, fear of putting myself out there, appeared strong and won a long, hard battle against confidence, which just shrugs, as if to say, ‘Yeah, what can you do? I’m done.’ With age, even though I am itching to buy an unaffordable, fancy wall hanging for a place of my own, all I end up doing is scroll through Instagram with an impassive face and an unbearable sadness in my heart on seeing people I know living different lives from my own. With time I find that the more I try to understand myself, the less I do. Five years ago, this thought would have sent me spiralling, but now, with every passing thought of revelation, I just smile.  

It’s a smile of victory, a smile of triumph that this is one more piece of me (of the many, many) that I was able to decode.  

When I began writing, aeons ago (back in my undergraduate days, perhaps 8 years ago?), writing about myself was easy. It was, quite frankly, the easiest thing ever. I wrote with such ease that I thought I knew myself. If I didn’t, how else would I have been able to write like this? Write at least 4 blog posts for my blog every week? Read so voraciously? Make decisions so easily? How?! 

With age, my expectations of myself and my writing grew. I placed them on a shelf higher than the top shelf where Amma stores all the glassware and Appa his liquor bottles. I placed my expectations there knowing I wouldn’t be able to reach them. I just had to reach a little bit higher on my tiptoes or use a stool so that I don’t break anything, myself or the glass. I can’t remember a time I allowed myself to use a step ladder for my writing. If I wrote, it had to be the best thing ever. Being mediocre was not an option since I began writing so well. My writing identity revolved around being honest and oftentimes, it was described as so. In order to put down those kinds of words, I had to be honest with myself, put in the effort to understand my thoughts. It sounded like a lot of effort and, while I don’t shy away from hard work, I did feel like the more I knew about myself, the less I would like. I was scared of knowing who I really am, removed of all the background city and people in my life. What if I wasn’t the kind of person I believed I was? What if this person that others see is simply a veil, which hides something less pleasant? Being honest to myself was scary, I wondered what would become of me? If I couldn’t digest the truth about myself, how would I put it on paper? How could I write anything anymore?  

The journey towards understanding my true—no, own—self began more consciously when a classmate once came up to me, unprompted. “You’re an introvert, right?” 

Have you ever seen that old Tumblr post where someone asks if you would read a book which had your own story, up until the day you died? I had clearly thought, no, I don’t want to read such a book. For me, the whole point of living my life is to figure out this journey, unravel it and move forward with time. 

When my classmate dropped that statement on me, it felt like someone had handed me a page of that book and asked me to hold it, and not read it. Naturally, I had read it.  

I had blinked. I didn’t ever think of myself as an introvert, much less expect others to notice. I tried to be friendly with everyone, and even though it took a lot of my energy, I still did it because I liked it. I liked getting to know my new classmates, liked hanging out with them outside of a classroom setting, and at house parties, and dinners, and shady street food places across the city.  

So, it didn’t occur to me that the word ‘introvert’ could be used to describe me.  

‘Yeah, but-’ the classmate had an answer ready at my confused face. ‘You don’t initiate conversation, you don’t approach people first, but you speak with them if they start. That’s a classic trait of an introvert.’ 

I felt exposed. How could this classmate, who had met me less than two weeks ago, make such claims about me? It sounded absurd.  

I didn’t want to give him the satisfaction of being right, but looking back on my life, I supressed a sigh as I realised he was right. 

It has become increasingly clear to me that the probability of knowing oneself so well that it is near impossible to surprise yourself is very low. People around us have their own versions of us in their heads. I am the milk-for-breakfast girl, the crying-in-front-of-a-stranger girl, the bullet-journal girl, the short girl, the hold-hands-on-an-escalator girl, the eyeliner girl, the dumb didn’t-know-Prakrit-was-a-language girl, the girl who talks to the dogs, the girl who always lends you her extra pen, the girl whose hometown is actually Bangalore. These are all fleeting, momentary impressions strangers hold of me, and they are all true.   

I like to look at it this way: We are all parts of a gigantic puzzle in this universe, our pieces scattered in all sorts of expected and unexpected places. When people travel to different places under the bold statement of ‘soul-searching’, they are off to find these missing pieces. Often times, we duplicate a piece to give it to someone we love, and they take it so happily, so reverently, adding it to themselves and changing both your pictures in the process. Sometimes, unbeknownst to you, a random piece finds its way to you through an artist you love or an author you adore. When did it sneak in? How did I not realize?  When you click with someone you just met, your pieces have come together with a bit of an earth-shattering force, rearranging that part of you, or all of you, depending on the force.  

We can’t often see the big picture that we are a part of in the universe because we are always standing too close. The farther you step away, the clearer the picture is. Have you ever had a dear friend take a candid picture of you that made you go, wow, I really look like that? That’s how your friend sees you through their eyes. When someone truly believes in you and your abilities when you’re deep in doubts about yourself, it’s because they are standing away from you, looking at you and your big picture, all in one frame. Sometimes, it’s nice to take a step back and look at ourselves the way others do. It’s a refreshing perspective, adding more to understanding yourself.  

It’s okay if we don’t know everything about ourselves. There ought to be something in life that keeps us on edge, something to look forward to. For many, it could be their big and bright dreams. For me, whose Big Dream consists of being happy in life, it’s exploring myself. The surprise element works best when you truly embrace the tangled mess that you are.  

Who knows what I’ll discover next? 

I wrote this for a competition held by my Alma Mater, and thought I could post it here. Many, many thanks to Nat who edited this piece for me and was so encouraging. I don’t think I’m fully back but it could be a start.


oh the things i could write about

Song of the post: Moonlight by AgustD (song and lyrics here)

I like collecting small moments from my ordinary life to store them in a jar in my head, sometimes my heart. I can pull them out when I need inspiration to write. Over the last few weeks, this small collection grew in size because I was having a hard time picking one small moment. So, I thought, what’s better than a small moment? Many small moments!

These are all things I could write about. Maybe a phrase, maybe a few pages, maybe a line or maybe a novel. I could not, cannot pick one, so here’s all of them.

The two-hour train journeys I’ve taken for work, how every time I take, I seem to take the rain with me. How I have to leave before the sun fully wakes up and manage to grab myself an average Maddur vada and elaichi and ginger tea on the train that brightens up my day, even with misty drizzle outside, I don’t shudder with the chill because my heart is warmed up.

Or, how about this driver who picks me up and drops me off at the railway station and as I try to make conversation in my deplorable Telugu, how he nods as he tries to understand my fumbling and mixing of languages to make some semblance of sense but he takes my words seriously anyway and answers his best and that just warms my heart?

I could write to my e-penpal, who has probably been waiting for my email for months now but every time I open up the draft to her reply, there’s so much that I want to tell her but I get distracted by all the things that have happened and end up doing something else, successfully procrastinating.

Do I write about how much I had missed my friends that I finally got to see on vacation a few weeks ago? It will probably be really long and wistful and maybe even a little boring because I would write about how much I had missed holding hands with them in the dark, how with them, sleep was far away and in the darkness of the night, their pretty features only illuminated by the faint, silver moonlight through the curtains, fears spilled out; things that were so hard to experience once were easier to relive through words with their comforting presence. When you feel them squeeze your hand to hold it tighter and you burrow your face in the pillow next to them, you know it’s all okay because you’re with them and this moment is all that matters.

The dark nights seem to be creeping up more and more quickly, with absolutely no warning and under the guise of the rain clouds that seem to have anchored themselves where I am. Why does the approaching winter have hints of doom in it that makes it feel very unreal and every time I shiver, it’s only partly from the cold.      

I want to write pages worth of letters to my 12-year-old self and tell her all the amazing things the current me is discovering about herself and her body. I want to hold her tight and tell her how comfortable I am in my body right now that she feels a little at ease that whatever she’s going through won’t be for long. I wish she had that comfort then but she didn’t so even if I have to write to myself to the past and send it through a time machine, I will.

I could rant about Diwali like I used to do but I cannot. All my energy is now spent on trying to survive the three days with my mood swings and arguments and work but the only relief I get is when my friends share pictures with their families. I stopped feeling excited for the festival ages ago but it makes me happy that these people that I care about enjoy it so that is enough for me.

I could definitely spend my time writing and sending postcards to people across the globe in the hopes of reducing the ever-growing pile of unsent postcards but I cannot bring myself to be fake-cheerful and I most definitely don’t want to send them a depressing letter. If I do send it, I hope whoever receives it will be happy with the painting (if it’s a hand-painted card)/photo on the front more than my words.

I could write about how, as I get closer to the city on my train journeys, the night sky seems to lighten, in whatever way it makes sense. It feels like the sky is being illuminated by the lights on the ground and that is an unnerving thought. It also feels like the city is the day itself and with every second I get closer it feels like I’m approaching a brand new day.

I definitely wanted to write about how every time I think of a solid blog post idea, I become so invested that I end up dreaming about how this post will be the One, the one that will blow up and make me famous or some such. It is simply me setting myself up for disappointment every single time but the funny thing is, I don’t end up disappointed at all, so I keep doing it again. And again. After all, it doesn’t cost anything to dream.

I am a bit hesitant but I would like to write about how when my hand hurts, every breath I take is a painful reminder of how much I have to pretend that everything is okay, that everything is normal for people to believe me that I’m in pain once a while. It has gotten to a point where I can fool myself into believing that I’m not in pain for some time if I concentrate on other things hard enough.  

There was this one time on the train where I had a headache that could only be cured by fresh filter coffee. And it just so happened that a vendor passed by yelling, “coffee!” I bought myself a cup but it wasn’t. Coffee. It tasted like some sort of black tea, sweet but not exactly like tea and while it was hot and nice, I am still very confused about its true nature, especially after the vendor emphasised that it was coffee. I definitely wanted to write about that.

I want to write and draw and paint a mountain-high pile of things but the thought of picking an idea from the pile makes me feel like the pile might collapse on top of me at any moment so I sit, continue to watch Yumi’s Cells under the guilt and heavy weight of the idea mountain.

Random Thursday Ramblings at the speed of a BMTC bus

Song of the post: So Far Away by Agust D ft Suran (find lyrics translation here)

Sometime last year, I had promised myself that I would put up at least one post per month because, well, even though I don’t feel like I’m running out of things to say, who even cares, right? And every time my head goes in that direction, I go, “No! You write for you!” but me writing for myself has become an almost daily thing these days so it’s not only deep, introspective stuff, it’s also random things I did and didn’t do and and how I felt (which basically falls into two categories: feeling super good, feeling like shit) so it’s not like I want to share these really personal things on here.

So, what do I write? What do I post? I don’t do typical blogging stuff, that’s not my style. That’s not how I began and I’m not going to change now. And I’m lazy but that’s not necessary here.

I’m here, on this website, thinking of a song for the post (I decided on one but then changed it to another by the end of it) and watching Jungkook sing along to random songs on a VLive after a long time and I think I’ll just talk about the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and my day.

I didn’t plan to do much today. I had probably 2 things on my list: work on something that I’ve been working on since forever and look for jobs. I haven’t added painting or drawing in there. It just feels like a chore.

Have you ever felt like your hobby, or something that you do to purely enjoy, starts to get a little repetitive, and you have tried different things but then they haven’t worked out well but you still want to do something new but you’re scared of how it’s gonna turn out?

Well, art has become like that for me. There’s a lot I want to try and maybe because I’m not validating myself enough or seeking validation from elsewhere and not getting it getting to me, I’m scared to mess up. I want good results too, but how will I get it if I don’t even try? If I’m too scared to try?

And there’s also the matter of where to start. So, I’ve stopped forcing myself to do draw or paint when I don’t feel like. It hasn’t worked yet. But I know it will because every creative venture needs time to recharge.

I was sitting on the sofa last Friday, watching the opening ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, from start to finish. Sometime in the evening, when all the country teams paraded in with their flags, I was tweeting about it but before that, I just watched with a kind of numbness. I was watching the ceremony, but it was something that I let my brain and eyes do, not really absorbing it on a deeper level.

Instead, my head kept going back to a few years ago, specifically around the time of the London Olympics 2016. I was about 18 or 19, at the peak of my anime-manga-Japanese culture phase and I had found out that the 2020 Olympics was happening in Tokyo.

I was overjoyed. In my head, 2020 was so far way. Like, four years was such a huge deal. I always wondered where I would be, what I would be doing, how much I might have changed, how I would be living, if I was in love, with people and life alike. I daydreamed about it. I daydreamed about being in Tokyo (either visiting or living, I had cooked up scenarios of both) during the Olympics, and watching the Opening ceremony live, in person. I was happy, content.

But then life pulled the rug of reality and bleak future underneath me and made me look up and face it.

It was not good. It’s not something anyone would’ve daydreamed on their wildest day. A pandemic, climate crises, horrible political scenario and the list is endless. I will not go down there.

That’s when it hit me. The me of 5 years ago would be so devastated to hear the fact that the freaking Olympics was pushed a year ahead and should have possibly been even cancelled. I feel bad for her. I can practically feel the colour drain out of her and her shoulder slump as it hits her how bad the situation will be.

It’s almost as if I don’t even recognize her anymore.

There’s so much new music these days, from artists that I like and me itching to discover new artists. But what do I do? Like, my hands are free and my ears are plugged in and I don’t like it when I’m not multitasking. So, I would want to draw or paint.

But then my crisis starts. I have noted this feeling down sometime ago and it’s true even today.

Whenever I feel like wanting to paint, I just don’t know what to paint. When I ask for suggestions, I immediately don’t feel like making it. And the funny thing is, there’s a million things I want to draw and paint and get better at but there’s that nagging feeling of having to choose between having fun and getting better at painting. It seems like these days, I’m unable to have fun and try new things for the fear of failure.

I was not for being scared of failure. Exams? Sure. The word itself invokes a kind of anxiety in me. But in things that I love doing? Writing and painting and cooking?

Not at all. I either have fun or learn something out of it or both. There’s no winning or losing.

It’s weird and I don’t think I like it very much.

A while ago, Amma was saying something about moving on and getting better things in life and it got me thinking: is anyone really satisfied with their lives?

Maybe it’s the hustle culture, maybe it’s climate change, maybe people don’t talk about it. But I don’t understand why people actively seek out better things. I understand that most things are temporary in life but that doesn’t mean you can’t be happy with it and be satisfied as the next good thing comes along. Like it’s one thing to be learning all the time and trying to be better– a better person, better whatever– but it’s another to actively seek out better things. I also understand that we all deserve better things in life and that it should be determined by us but if there’s happiness and peace at what we are doing in life, why look for better? It seems like better is never ending and that scares me sometimes.

I have thought about why I feel that way. I think it’s because I like wherever I am. And it could also be that I’m scared for what’s out there since I don’t really know. The uncertainty is scary but it comforts me that I’m not alone in this.

But what is scary is people shooting their shots for much greater things and dreams that I have no desires for. Is that really bad?

I don’t know.

It’s scary but the only thing I know how to do is move forward. And I guess I’ll just do that.

If you managed to reach the end of this long, slightly pointless post, feel free to ramble away in my comments or if you found me Twitter, you can ramble away in DMs too.

I sometimes like to feel that I’m not so alone in all of this.

6 Years.

Song of the post: Thanks to by Day6 (Even of Day)

Every year, I prepare mentally in advance as to what to write in this mandatory, yearly post. And every year, I never write what I think, or want to. So I don’t know how this post will go. If you stick around for long enough, maybe you’ll find out where it’ll go.

I can’t remember when I began writing but it was at a young age. When I hit college, I fell in love with writing. The words, the ability of them to make me feel so many emotions in a single sentence, the power the writer holds when they write these words, all of it and more. And that’s when I got serious about me being a “writer” in whatever sense because back then, all I wanted to do was write. I didn’t have a specific focus on what I wanted to write. I just loved stories but I wasn’t very good at them. I learnt a lot in college and even though that helped me immensely in the non-fiction aspect of writing, AKA by blogs and my thoughts in general, I guess I’ve always leaned towards writing single bite stories that makes you feel all kinds of things and leaves you satisfied. And I have been trying, for the longest time but something always fell flat. So I hadn’t, in some time.

Until recently, I picked it back up. It began with me reading a BTS fanfiction (I’ve been reading a LOT of them and let me tell you, when I say they inspired me, they INSPIRED me.) and having a slight daydream about someone going on dates to find out the one they were looking for had been here the whole time (Did you sing it in Taylor Swift’s You Belong with me? Don’t lie). Then, the ideas rained on me like Bengaluru’s rains. There were times I woke up from sleep to jot down ideas for my existing, ongoing projects from forever. I also have a bunch of very supporting friends who have always read my stuff and gushed their appreciation to me. It has kept me going.

I know a lot of talented artists (painters, sketchers, writers, artists of all kinds) are very wary of showing their art to the world. A lot of people I know write very well but their words are for them. On the contrary, I’ve been very wary of putting my fiction out to the world. Writing out my heart and soul has never been a problem. It’s a bit strange, even for me. But I think I have finally gained enough confidence to put my fictional words out of my head and into the black void of internet.

On my other blog which was originally meant for all of my fiction work, I have begun posting again. Every fortnight, I have been posting a completed short fiction that I’ve recently written. And even though the reception is just regular, I feel lighter. It feels nice to put myself out there and not worry about being scrutinized or criticized. I do that enough myself anyway. And I can’t believe it took me around 6 years to figure this shit out.

So, that’s what I’ve been doing. And it feels exhilarating when I finish the first draft, when I finish the rewrite, when I hit publish. I’ve been going at it for a couple of months now and I’ve had a lot of ideas and yesterday, as I was jotting down an idea, out of nowhere I thought, “What if the ideas stop?”

Then I calmed myself down. It might happen, not going to lie. What if this is the break I get and exhaust all of my abilities? But that’s not how it works, does it? The more you use, the better it gets. I took a deep breath and continued.

I think that’s sort of how I feel with this blog sometimes, too. I don’t think the human kind can ever run out of words to things to say but as individuals, churning out words and ideas can and will burn you out. So, it’s okay. If you feel drained, take a step back. If you feel tired, take a step back. If you feel uninspired or unmotivated or overwhelmed or simply not enough, take a step back. Breathe. Things will be okay.

And thank you for all those who have stuck around for 6 years with me. I always say this every year, I didn’t expect to reach this number. Will I reach 7 next year? I don’t know for sure but I know that I do want to. So, cheers to hope in this dreary and despicable year.

For once, I’m rambling.

Songs of the post: Blue Side (Outro) by J-Hope and Somehow by Day6

This post has been way overdue. I was going to reward myself with writing a post once I completed one of my many, many assignments last night, but it was really late when I finished. And today, the day has ended in an orange glow. It was a sign that I had to write. I love it when it happens. Your entire view is bathed in this orange-hue light (maybe it’s golden or rose-gold, but in anime, it has always been orange so there) and it’s bright but you know it will get dark soon and you soak up the remaining light as much as you can so that you can survive the night-sleepless and thrashing or bawling and exhausted or drifting off into a dreamless sleep. Either way, you will wake up tired but hey, at least you got to see the orange glow.

It has been the longest 4 months and the shortest semester of my life.

4 months of incessant rain and shifting schedules and routines and when you least expect it, homesickness just creeps up behind you, just for a flash and disappears. As if to say, “I’ll be here; I’ll be watching.” Like I can forget.

I did not take my mid-semester break to go home this semester. I thought I would do all right, especially since Akka came over and stayed with me for a while. It was a good week. But the worst of it hit me sometime in mid-September, when my exam dates were being set. I realized it had been 4 months since I saw my parents and it has been a bit a down-ward spiral since then. For the past couple of weeks, my eyes have been permanently filled to the brim, threatening to fall but waiting for the right moment. Every morning, I get up and think, is this the day when I can finally find the right reason to open the floodgates? It turns out, it is not. Every reason seems too trivial, too petty, too unworthy of these tears that are mostly made out of longing and homesickness and lack of warmth and love. So I stopped waiting for it to happen because when it does, I’m sure I’ll be ready. There will be a tipping point and especially since we’re at the end of the semester, I’m sure there will be plenty of such points. It’s just a matter of my body coordinating with my all-over-the-place head and sync together and choose the right moment. I shall wait till then.

I have been painting a lot these days. I’m loving it and I look forward to the days where I whip out 4 tiny paintings that takes me all evening. I have been listening to the entire discography of Day6 every chance I get but shift to different music (chill, lo-fi hip-hop) when I need to study or sleep. If you ever have trouble falling asleep like I do, the best remedy I found was Epik High’s Sleepless in __________. It is amazing. It takes me a couple of rounds of the entire album for me to fall asleep these days because I end up singing along and feeling things and enjoying the songs so I now have to look for alternatives but if you’re new to this, it will definitely help. The album ends in a lullaby so I’m sure you’ll fall in love with the music and fall asleep.

I finished watching a couple of anime after forever. Fruits Basket (2019) and Kimi Ni Todoke, both on my list for the longest time, and I loved them both so so much. I will end up reading the manga at some point in my life, just not this month. Or the next. But soon. I took myself out on a date for a Kannada movie, with popcorn and dinner and while it was nice, I wish I did more and something else. I have been longing to go to the Bombay Natural History Museum and hopefully, I will spend a Saturday or Sunday by myself in the area. I had done it in November last year, and maybe I could celebrate it as an anniversary. If I’m back in the city by then, that is.

I have also been falling sick at the worst times possible. It’s not even viral; I suspect it is stress induced, but that’s just absurd. The level of chill I have currently should scare the wits out of stress. But no. My throat hurt for a couple of days and then the cold came all the way, bringing with it temperature and body chills. I am not that weak. My immune system is quite strong and my body should know that this is not the time to fail. Sigh.

Maya and Sunday Monsoons

Song of the Post: Beautiful Feeling by Day6

It’s a Monday afternoon, lunch time and after spending most of yesterday dodging work and bingeing in a K-drama that I had put off, I’m back to working and trying to stay on top of things. The city has been shut down because of yesterday’s rains. It has not rained for ten minutes all day today but apparently the rain had flooded the city in many parts. I haven’t left the campus in more than a week but it’s been a great weekend. Highly unproductive, but it was quite satisfying and I definitely needed this.

I think the time has finally come for me to talk about Maya. During my second semester, the end of 2018 and beginning of 2019, when the weather was cold and windy but very dry and very pleasant, I spent a lot of my time after dinner in the basketball court, sitting and talking to my family on the phone and looking up at the stars. I looked forward to that part of the day the most. I could be alone, away from all the drama and social life and just try to get along with the sky and stars and wind. And on most of such nights, Maya was a constant companion.

Terrible subject for a photo. He won’t sit or stay long enough for me to take a nice picture of him. Adding me, a terrible photographer in the equation, no wonder I don’t have any good pictures of him.

Sometimes, when the weather was just perfect and I didn’t feel like going back to my life, I stayed there long after I had made calls. Whenever Maya joined, I rubbed his bum (he loves those) and I would just talk to him. Mostly in Kannada. I would tell him about my day and what was happening at home and how much I miss them and tell him about all the things running through my head, things that are usually incomprehensible in my head but when I put it out, it’s all clear. My hand would ache from all the rubbing and it would be really dirty but after a point, I just didn’t care.

I remember this one particular incident during an exam. I was making notes for an open book exam that I had the next day and I didn’t want to sit inside, so I took my laptop and notebook and found a shady spot where I could get light and see people but not be seen. I was stressing out and furiously scribbling and essentially freaking out when Maya comes along. Ten minutes later, Mishel comes by for a break out of her flat and finds me sitting in the dark, petting Maya. We sat like that for another ten minutes or so, Maya at my feet, me rubbing his bum, Mishel and I just talking. My arm ached, but I didn’t want to stop. It was one of the only times I wished I could use both my hands. Maya brings about this calmness with him and the moment I see him, it is guaranteed that that is the best part of my day.

I joined the Animal Care Club this year and I am assigned Sunday nights for feeding the dogs. Each dog on campus has a different feeling towards me. I am usually honored when Poser accepts my feeding him and actually eats. It’s been happening for the past two weeks now and I feel like he’s put me high on his list of people he doesn’t hate. Alice and Zoya are very flitty. Sometimes they eat, sometimes they don’t. I cannot distinguish them apart and they are quite indifferent towards me but one evening, I was walking back towards my room when I thought I’ll call Parvathi. So I took a turn and sat in the middle of the basket ball court, in my usual spot, and as I was getting comfortable and had just dialed her, one of the two bounds in, jumping and so happy, like I was the person they wanted to see and just sat in my lap as I sat cross-legged on the ground. Just sat there, not demanding rubs or anything, for a good half hour. And then she got up and left. There’s Shifu who’s old and needs more care than the others, but I’m a bit scared of him. Scrappy is this skinny little thing that flits in and out of campus and refuses to eat when I feed him. Arohi joined me one night and she was almost in tears when we were leaving Scrappy because his eyes kept saying, “Please don’t leave me, please”. Maya is a good, non-fussy eater and just follows me around. And the newest addition to this set is Totoro, this three-legged dog that appeared from somewhere and has so much spunk that it attacks any other dog that trespasses its territory. It’s quite an interesting bunch.

Yesterday was feeding duty for me. I picked up some rotis for them and headed out, looking for them in their spots. I found Poser first, in the canteen, and he refused to eat until I sat down next to him and fed him little pieces of the roti. Such a drama queen. After he was done, I got up and went looking for the others, calling them by their name, when I reached the balcony of the canteen. I saw Maya looking up and staring at me and I called his name again, moving towards the stairs. He jumped up in excitement and reached the stairs before me. When he saw me, he did a little jump-dance and howled like a baby wolf. He seemed to be asking, “Where were you?” And I had missed him. I did the little dance with him and began feeding him. I apologized to him for not being able to show him all the love I have and promised to see him more often. He followed me around for the rest of the night.

Things I’ve learned so far in Mumbai

It’s been a little more than a week since  I began living in Mumbai all by myself (in the campus hostel, thankfully) and it’s been quite the learning experience. Here is a small list of all the things I’ve learned in Mumbai:

  1. Call all the older men Dada, older women Tayi. I’ve been calling them since my second day alone. I’m also going to learn Marathi in the two years that I will be here.
  2. To accept my permanently sweaty body. The first few days were just so annoying. It felt like I woke up taking a bath. But now, I”m just going with the flow. Or, rather, flowing with my sweat.
  3. Bombay is BIG. GINORMOUS. I’m still coming to terms with it.
  4. The sea is just pretty at any time, any day. I’ve always known this but living so close to the sea (like an hour on one direction and half an hour on the other) I’m living it. Sitting and watching the waves crash on the rocks is so mesmerizing that the outside world tends to fade away. Then it’s just you and the sea.

    Picture credits: Mehakk
  5. It’s better to go out in the rain and sit inside on a sunny day. Preferably inside the cyber library (which is air conditioned). But, I feel that the city calls out to its people. I wouldn’t mind the sweating and the travelling that requires to explore this city. And I also wouldn’t mind doing it alone.
  6. The days and humid, bearable and manageable. The nights are humid, too, but they are just unbearable, even with the huge window in our room and even more so when it’s raining. Sometimes I wish I could sleep outside the room, in this little patch of grass outside or at my spot near the Convention Centre.

    A nice little reading nook. 
  7. Four hour long lectures are of little use, many times, because the words just become sounds half-an hour into the lecture and the noise just fades away before it reaches us.

But this is just the beginning. There is so much more out there that I am hoping to learn one day and put them in proper words, if not in proper use.

The calming office

Attempting Bryn Donovan’s 100 Prompts to write about yourself, again, because I can’t seem to sit and write a nice blog post about anything because at this point, everything seems worthless. This is prompt number 47, picked at random.

 Describe an experience at a doctor’s office, dentist’s or at the hospital.

Touch wood, I’ve been very lucky health-wise. Apart from this one time when I was barely a year old and suffered with fever so high that I needed to be hospitalized, I was never in the hospital. I don’t worry about my health too much because if you don’t have a terminal illness, I don’t think it’s worth fretting about. Every time anybody in the family has a slight ailment, or a little health issue, like cold, or a rash or something, we went our Homeopath in Ashoka Pillar, in Jayanagar. It was always a delight to go to the doctor here because his house/office was a very calming place to be.

Outside is a small garden and a swing set. There are potted plants all around house, on the widow sills. There is also a small cement pond, in a very curly shape that still fascinates me. Inside the waiting room, it is all red oxide floors that seem to remain cool and neutral no matter what the weather was outside. It could be snowing out there and the inside would still be cozy enough to walk without socks and slippers on.

The waiting room is part of the main office that’s been divided by those floor-to-ceiling plastic walls that are also quite sound-proof. The chairs in the waiting room are wood or cane with ancient pillows that are rock hard but not uncomfortable because you’re never seated for so long. Inside the doctor’s office, it feels like you’ve been transported to the 50’s. There’s a large, dark brown, solid wooden desk that feels so ancient because you can feel its power. You can feel how old and strong and powerful that desk is. It feels stable and reassuring and steady, like the person you trust most with your life. Pair that with a high-backed, equally strong and dark wooden chair, I bet there’s no other dynamic duo.

The walls are bare and pale green. Behind the chair, high up, is a poster, from a calendar, maybe, from 1996, of a bronze Buddha. Like the chair and the desk, it also feels powerful but equally calming. God knows how long I’ve stared at that face. There’s a usual cupboard and a couple of plastic chairs for the patients and a weighing machine. We’ve never met another weighing machine as accurate and trusted as this one. Even if we had previously only checked our weight a few days ago, there’s something reassuring about that weighing machine.

Our doctor himself looks ancient. We’ve been going to him since I was born, and he’s only gotten skinnier and more haggard looking and paler. His stutter has definitely improved. When he asks questions, he never passes judgement. Some doctors are too judgy. When you say you’ve eaten this-and-this, they look at you like, Why? Don’t you know how dangerous that is for your health? You’ll not live long if you keep eating like this. But he never looks like that. He just asks more questions and then he disappears to another room, and gets us medicine. The medicine is usually white and sweet. They don’t taste like medicine and because we say “the quality of his hands are great”, our illnesses don’t come back for a year. When I had severe cough, thanks to allergy and small dust particles about 3 years ago, he gave me medicine that had me up and going in less than a week. My strength came back and I felt like myself again. Or before that, when I was in 6th standard and had sever acne all over my face and back thanks to puberty, his medicine drove it away and I’ve not had it since.

I wonder if he gives medicine for mental health issues. Because I’m sure he’ll help a lot of people with his calming office itself.

Weird tricks

I need to finish this article on the Sarakki Lake, tonight. I’ve been putting it off since last week and I’m doing everything I can to focus. I’m about halfway through, I suppose, but wow, the stress levels are really high.

I can sort of understand what kind of pressure the journalism students under AM sir in college will be undergoing. Since I couldn’t focus, I took quick strides across the dark living room. Then I had another idea: maybe the blood flow to brain is less. Which is why I can’t focus.

I slept on the 3-seater sofa, put my legs up against the pillows, and moved so that my upper back and neck and head were hanging out from the seat. I can’t do shirshasana so I thought this might help.

I actually think it did. Onto the story of Sarakki Lake!

What do you do if you can’t focus when you really, really need to? Tips might someday come in handy.