Saturday, August 1, 2015

On writing

Of every progress Man has made since evolving from the quadruped ape that he was, I believe nothing comes close to the monumentality that Language and Writing hold. He learnt to speak before he could write… true. But his genius was revealed in the scripts he devised to store his thoughts well into posterity. A strike of brilliance that would mark the first step towards the many achievements that he would be known for. But it all began with the written word.

And what could be more profound that to be a part of the magic of writing. Be it words we type, or (as I personally prefer) words we write. Somehow, writing always appealed to my sensibilities in ways that typing never did. There is something about the way we seemingly create words out of nothing. Liquid ink or powdery graphite magically turned to words that transform the senses… words of joy, of grief, of another million feelings.

I came across my old journal that held all my thoughts… some of them would be published in this blog but there were other drabbles… some way too personal, some half-baked ideas of novels I plan to write, and a few other poems that I might publish someday… or might not. But they are all there, etched on paper, memories of days gone by. A part of me, immortalized on paper.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

I am

I am not your toy.

I am not someone you'd want to flaunt at weddings and funerals.

I am not your maid, cleaning after you, cooking for you, waiting on you hand and foot.

I am not something for you to fall on top of at the end of the day... or someone who'll be the punching bag for you to take out your frustrations on.

I am definitely not the wallflower, smiling demurely, underplaying my passions and ferocity of will just so you can feel better about yourself.

I am a free spirit... with dreams and aspirations as real and valid as yours.

I am not the gentle breeze that you conjure up with the flick of your wrist. I am the tempest that blows you away.

I stand by my convictions and shall not change myself to please you or anyone else.

I love myself the most. And it took me a long while to get where I am at.

I am worthy of love and deserve the best. I know it and shall not settle for any less.

I am the girl who'll wake you up in the middle of the night and take you moonbow chasing.

I am the woman who's sure of herself and respects herself enough to not take your shit.

I am the one who'll listen to all your woes and give you honest advice... even if it stings.

I am who I am... I am me... and not for a moment do I need to be anything else but that.

Friday, July 10, 2015

On Friends and what they say

We’re all human. We’re all flawed; some of us more than the others. And we do not like having our flaws pointed out. It’s only natural… we know where we lack and it’s not a nice feeling having people point it out.
But sometimes, we need to have our shortcomings pointed out. And that is where true friends step in. We feel friends are those who uplift us when we’re down… encouraging us when we feel like shit. Yes, that is all true. But sometimes, the truest encouragement is not the kind words saying we’ll get our bearings, but rather the well-meaning kick in the back asking us to get our shit together. Now, it may seem harsh; even evil at times. But having been through depression at a point in my life, I’ll tell you this – that works wonders. Or rather, it should.
I had a friend give me the metaphorical kick when I was spending way too much money on things I didn’t need… heck, I would be broke a week within payday all because I had to go to this store and buy a feathered hair clip that I wouldn’t even wear! It was harsh… but I knew I needed it. And I can’t thank him enough for it. Yeah, at the moment, I felt it was unfair that he was being all bossy and what not… telling me how I should manage my finances. I thought, who gave him the right?! But now, I realize, him being my friend gave him the absolute right to do just what he did.
He didn’t mince words when he told me I was being irresponsible. I was. And it smarted because I knew he was true. And though I did sulk hearing that, I never dwelt on the hurt. I decided to see things from his perspective and I knew he was right. And he… he was a person who had been through some of the worst trials Life could throw at a person… and that too at a very young age. At a time when others were all going to college and hanging out with friends, my friend, he worked 2 jobs back to back while attending college and after graduation, went out and worked 2 shifts, just so he could clear off the debt incurred to treat his dying father.
I understood he knew what he was talking about. He is street smart in ways I wasn’t. And if I am who I am, able to hold my own in a fight or in a crisis, it’s because of what I’ve learnt from him.

So, the next time your best friend says something you think is mean, just pause… it could be that they have a point. Sometimes, the best way to get us on our feet is a good kick in the ass!

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Studying for that elusive N1

There is something innately soothing about organizing one's life.

And I've always been one who appreciated and revered the ones who so meticulously planned every aspect of their lives, especially the ones who maintained daily, weekly, monthly planners and journals to boot! Heck, being an avid (read borderline obsessed) stationery fanatic myself, I can understand the urge to write everything down and plan one's future, bringing down the uncertainty about one's future a notch! But for the life of me, I cannot seem to keep up with the schedule of scheduling! I weep and tear my hair out trying to get through my days that are filled with incessant work and travel (not the sort one would enjoy!)

To add to the misery, I have to clear my JLPT N1 level this December. True that the exam is happening in July as well. But by the good lord above I know my preparation has been abysmal thus far! Heck, I haven't even started preparing with earnest! And not only do I need to clear the exam, I need to do it with flying colours! It's more for me than for anyone else this time! And with the JLPT levels out of my way, I can seriously shift focus towards other languages... (I'm looking at you, German, you sexy beast!)

I am on an almost frantic effort to get my life back on track, I've decided to blog about my planning and study progress. Not that anyone is going to read this... does anyone actually read my blog?! But this is more for me, I shall stick to a plan and follow it through, so help me God!

And this weekend (read Sunday), the trial begins. 

Please excuse the World of Warcraft on the screen! :P
P.S. To those of you who are absolute kindness personified and actually read my drabble (read stories), thank you! And don't you worry! I'll keep the regular posting going strong; as strong as I can muster!

Saturday, April 11, 2015

They're at it again!

I'm right back where it all started. My mother has decided that it's time for me to settle down and find myself a good, loving, intelligent boy from a well-respected family, from the same caste as me. If you're an Indian woman in her mid-late 20's, you'll know what I'm talking about!

No matter how forward thinking our parents claim to be, when it comes to marriage, most of them succumb to the pressures of the society and take to matrimonial sites for finding that perfect match for their children. They hear stories of people who've found bliss on the internet. This is like Tinder… only that mostly it’s the parents who’re swiping away to the perfect match.

Now, I personally have nothing against people finding love online. I have absolutely no bones to pick with anyone who feels it best to let someone else do the choosing of what could be one of the most important choices of their lives! Heck… I did that! I let someone else take the reins of my life and let me tell you, the ride was as bumpy as it gets. And I learnt valuable life lessons at the end of it.

So you may wonder just what I've been smoking to be doing this again?! I mean, wise people learn from their mistakes, right? Well, let’s not be getting our panties in a twist, people!

I know I sound like a hypocrite. But if I were to stay out of this, things only get worse. It happened once. I didn't give a damn and before I knew it, I was married to a motherfucker who liked dicks more than I did! But, hear me out, dear reader. When I say I give a damn, I don’t mean that I visualize myself getting married to the men who seem interested in the warped image my mother has projected of me on that god-awful site! Heck, I wouldn't marry the girl my mom’s made me out to be! But today, chancing upon the gazillion mails from interested suitors brought a few things to light. And those things are worth sharing.

Matrimony is all about the moolah these days!

Forget love; forget emotional compatibility and all the applesauce they say is important! The one thing you’re supposed to look at is his pay package! That’s right! As long as he earns enough, who the hell cares if he’s a closet psychopath with temper issues?

People will strut their stuff like there’s no tomorrow. 

More than one profile that my mother thrust into my face had the guy smirking away at the camera like he was George Clooney’s long lost nephew! And the thing is, they weren't even good looking to begin with! Yes, I know I’m being a jerk. But, when some guy claims to be fair and would prefer women who’re fairer, I have a problem. Without a photo uploaded to substantiate my mother’s claims that I was fair in complexion, I’m also buried neck deep with requests for a photo, which brings me to the next point.

If some of the people on matrimonial sites were actually serious, they’d be charged with felony!

There was one request from a guy who was married and had decided he wouldn't get a divorce. But hey, he wants another understanding and loving girl who was willing to live with him and his first wife… all as one big happy family. He doesn't have a job, his wife’s a house wife and so, he would like someone who earns a living and “is willing to believe in him that his business endeavours would succeed someday, somehow”. I don’t think I need to say anything further there!

I could go on and on, but I don’t see the point. It’s a little sad that what should be an organic, natural and almost an intangible transition into what is the most beautiful connection between hearts has to be so structured… so forced… so compartmentalized into categories. I don’t think I can ever fall for this. But then again, that does not seem to stop my mother from wasting her time on the site. Oh well, to each their own, I guess!

Saturday, March 7, 2015

New place... new people... not everything needs to be for the better!

There are far too many things in life that we mortals take for granted. Whether it be health or the amity of good friends, we seldom realize their value until after they have left our keeping. And then, we start yearning for what has been lost. Sometimes, we’re lucky to gain it back. Sometimes, we’re not so blessed.

I've recently changed jobs. This entails meeting new people, forming new friendships, meeting new deadlines… the usual. In my previous workplace, I had made friends with the most amazing group of people. A group of friends that feels more like family… and just as close! If I had my way, I would bring them all with me wherever I went… working with them for a lower pay if need be.

But with the old company closing down its projects and my position as a language specialist hanging in the balance, I didn't have the luxury of a choice. And that is how I found myself in the new place.

The work is the same, voluminous if anything. But that hardly deters me. I love what I do and if there is one trait I've inherited from my mother, it is to work hard on the things I love.

Now you may wonder, my dearest reader as to what it was that I missed.


True Friends.

Friends who have my back. Friends who don’t have an agenda of their own. Friends who’re good at heart.

The people I see here in the new office (except a few… like my fellow translators) are the type I normally abhor. With absolutely no regard for another soul, their daily lives seem to pass away in plastic smiles and self-important pompousness. And the worst sort of misogyny I've ever had to face!

Their thinly veiled slurs at women they hardly know, grates my nerves so much that sometimes, it takes all my resolve not to punch a few of these people in their noses. The other day, I heard that they had coined a name for me as well… a name that was coined the first day I walked into that office… for my interview. Perhaps the fact that they did not know me seemed to embolden them to pass sexist comments at my expense. I guess a few would tell me I'm overreacting here… boys being boys or whatever! But I cannot see it in that light and you will excuse my obstinacy in this.

All this while, I've been friends with men who’re nothing less than perfect gentlemen. They don’t pass comments about the women that pass them by. They don’t stare at women as though they’re looking at some hitherto unknown creature. And they sure as hell don’t give women weird sexist names behind their backs!

And to make things worse, the other women these pathetic excuses of men are friends with seem to think they’re safe. All they need to do is turn my way to see how wrong they are.

If they could make such comments about me, there is absolutely no saying that they haven’t done the same about them, if only within themselves… it’s a very sorry business. 

And every day I walk into my new office, I let out a sigh thinking about the old place where all that awaited me was work and sincere smiles… here, in every word is sheathed an inner meaning…. In every smile, there’s a tinge of scorn and in every gaze, thoughts I wouldn't dare describe! 

The only saving grace is knowing that these people would never be anything more than colleagues and I still have amazing friends in life... the kind that these men would never get or understand!

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Chetan Bhagat...bringing Young India back to reading? Or is that a double edged sword hanging in your cupboard?

I was woken up to find my mother shoving her smart phone into my face, almost squealing, "Read this! Read this!" I took the proffered device and blearily stared into the screen to see this - 'India is a semi-literate country and Chetan Bhagat is the best it can do'

I had always remarked at the sense of mediocrity that reeked from most upstart Indian writers and how almost everyone was trying to do a Chetan Bhagat! I even had a friend exclaim that she was going to a book reading by some bloke named Ravinder Singh. He's the author of the book, "I too had a love story". I was intrigued... My friend was a person who was never the bibliophile! As a matter of fact, I remember being the butt of her jokes when I buried my nose in a book, as was my wont.

A few days later, she showed me the photos from the day. They'd all gathered at the local Apple iStore and he'd apparently answered questions about his book and life in general. And then, he'd read a few passages from his book. It did not miss my attention that most of the audience were girls in the late teens or early twenties. And the fellow wasn't a face that only a mother would love. I didn't need to rack my brains that much to figure out what his USP was. But being the good fair sport that I am, I decided to give his books a try. The next time I was at a book store, I searched for his books and went through them... thumbing through the pages to get a feel of his writing style and narrative.... I have never put down a book that fast!

Once again, he was so desperately trying to be a Chetan Bhagat. An author who appealed to the senses if not the intellect of Young India. A man whose books read out like a movie. A success story in the most commercial sense of the term.

I personally don't hate him. I've read worse. But to claim that he got Indians back to reading.... now that, my friends, is something I just cannot agree with! When I was a teenager, awkward and shy, I turned to reading and writing to express myself. It was the only outlet where I could truly be who I was.... To write in abandon, not worrying at the least how it would be perceived. And in a way, my style of writing has been heavily influenced by the authors I read. Enid Blyton, the true queen of children's novels, she kept my afternoons engaged as I went on an adventure myself, with the Famous Five or the Secret Seven! And then it was Nancy Drew... followed by classic masters like Dickens, Alcott, Bronte, Austen, O.Henry, Mark Twain.... and a lot more! I had discovered Tolkien in high school and reading his works always brought a sense of belonging to me. I could go anywhere, read any book. But Tolkien would be like coming home! Then there was always John Grisham, Jeffrey Archer and Dan Brown!

I was lucky enough to meet a few good people who introduced me to Dostoevsky and the other Russian masters! And I noticed that my writing had also evolved to include the styles of all the authors whose works had impressed me. And an amalgamation of the various styles finally settled down to become what was uniquely mine.

In the midst of this Utopia of mine, someone threw in Chetan Bhagat. I had always rued that we had very few Indian writers to look up to. We had powerhouses when it came to regional literature... O. Vijayan, Kalki, Tagore to name a few... but when it came to English Literature, we Indians were really left wanting in some intangible way. If an Indian writer wrote well, they had some stint abroad... either they lived abroad and write their books there or at least had some other form of connection drawing their time and person away from the subcontinent.

So, when I first discovered Chetan Bhagat, I was understandably excited. Perhaps this person could be the answer to my prayers, I thought. If millions were reading him, he had to be good, right?

Well... I did read his first book. It was interesting... different even. And then I read his second... then his third. By the time I had reached Two States, something had become clear to me. His writing had a sense of commercialization to it. He wrote for the masses. He had his audience in mind throughout. And that, did not feel honest to me.

Don't get me wrong. We all write, knowing in a way that someone, somewhere will read what we wrote and perhaps like what they read. But to write solely for an audience robs a writer of a part of their soul. Recently, I started reading the History of Middle Earth series by Christopher Tolkien where he has put together most of his father's notes... and it gave me a chance to glimpse at a writer's mind. I saw Tolkien writing solely for himself first. The story edging its way out in bits and pieces and the writer having no peace till he has put it down on paper. I know that feeling all too well! I have countless notebooks filled with random drabbles that I daren't publish but would have suffocated me had I not written them out.

A truely good writer manages to strike the balance... finds his inner voice and still finds an audience to write for. But more than the listener, for a true writer, the story is of tantamount importance.

So now you see why I have an issue with Chetan Bhagat's books? They're loved by millions and millions of readers claim to relate to his characters... all of it is well and good. But that sense of hiraeth that one must feel once the book is finished... it is missing in his works. As much as I commend him for bringing people to the books, I sincerely hope they don't stop at his works alone. Let them move on to better authors... to newer ways of telling a story...

Books are meant to liberate you... to elevate you.... to make you a better person. And somehow, I've never truly felt Chetan Bhagat's books did that for me.

What be your take in this matter, reader?