Wednesday, July 28, 2010

I am free, free fallin'

There must be something awfully attractive about gravity. (No pun intended.) Especially when you're looking down from way up high. Someone called it the self-destructive, maddeningly addictive urge-of-the-plunge. People throwing themselves off of skyscrapers in a million movies, with a million whooshing wind effects. Trying to make a clean or not-so-clean dive into oblivion. Nietzsche in your head whispering delightedly about a certain abyss that likes to stare back at folks foolishly staring into it.

All the backflips your tummy's hellbent on performing the moment one of those giant boat-shaped pendulums in amusement parks throws you up into the air, right before you throw up the dosa-chutney you had for lunch.

The momentary chill that swims up and down your spine when you lean too far back in a park swing you've been goading higher and higher, right before you realize you wont really fall. Swings always helped me colour my childhood fantasies about flying. If you cud only successfully will the cold steel chains holding up the wooden seat of that wonderful, wonderful swing out of existence, it would be like flying through the air. It wud be an almost-flight before the fall.

And falling, in the span before realisation or even the ground hits you, falling can be wonderfully freeing. Thats why its called a free fall, no?

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Raindrops keep fallin' on my head

There's few things more enjoyable than driving along lushly green country roads on a rainy afternoon-evening, thanking the powers that be for the gross absence of potholes and for the existence of All India Radio's Rainbow 107.10 FM channel on the car radio playing Audioslave's I am the Highway. And while the lyrics are no great poetry, they definitely go with the mood and voila! I have a new song worm.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Sophie's choice

I think one has much to be grateful for when the biggest choice facing one is which to go for first over the weekend.

Sophie's Choice, the book by William Styron or Sophie's Choice, the movie with the awesome Meryl Streep.

The novel's immersive prose or the film's instant gratification?

A real tough choice, no?


"The time has come," the Walrus said,
"To talk of many things:
Of shoes, and ships and sealing-wax
Of cabbages, and kings!"

The Walrus and The Carpenter,
Lewis Carroll.

P.S. Now, a lot of people tell me they think this man wrote fantastic entertaining gibberish. You know what I think? I think they got only two out of three assumptions correct.

We Laugh Indoors

So I spent the last two days cleaning out stuff from my mum's room from their old house in Mapusa, this grand old crumbling structure with a well in the frontyard and coal-powered boilers and my least favourite part of all, two outhouses. I've only been here twice before, once on a hurried, last-minute trip on our way back to Bombay, and the second time for my grandfather's funeral.

I dont really have any real memory of this house that nobody really lives in for very long anymore. This house where my mother spent the first sixteen years of her life, growing up in its warm filial cacophony, an existence shared by six siblings and countless cousins and aunts and uncles and a great-grandmother even. The kind of existence that I, with my nuclear-family upbringing, wud never really understand or even particularly desire.

Therefore, it was with great excitement and trembling fingers that I held onto this old family photo-album that I found in the third drawer of my uncle's school desk, and realised this was like a lost treasure. This album had somehow been forgotten, overlooked as it were, when the rest of the black-and-white photographs had been diligently scanned and converted into digital format for posterity and committed to their future on various flash drives and hard-disks.

I knew it as soon as I had looked at the date on the very first page of the album. I think it was my grandfather's careful, spidery old-school running script that wrote "May-June, 1974, vacation trip, Miramar beach, south Goa and Bombay. " in red ink that had faded a little with time, but still allowed me to discern his forceful, speedy hand. I knew his writing from so many post-cards he'd sent me ever since I was four years old, although I only began to value them when I was 12 or so. I still regret that I didnt keep more than ten of his letters, written in the grandiose high literary style in which he spoke and wrote English. College principal that he was, my memories of my mother's father were very distinctly different from those that I had of my father's father. My maternal grandfather with his booming voice, and Konkani nasal twang was, I had always imagined, a strict disciplinarian and a somewhat more exotic personality than my earthy, jolly Bombay-bred paternal grandfather. Added to this was the fact that my maternal grandfather was fluent in five languages including Portuguese and Kannada, which were both strange alien languages to me.

I am smiling now, as my memory takes me back to my tenth birthday, for which like clockwork, he sent me his post-card written in difficult English that prompted my mom to ask me to fetch my dictionary like every year. The word that fascinated me that year was 'ineluctable'. I really cant remember anything else that was on my birthday post-card except an invitation to come visit this old house in Mapusa where only my grandfather now lived with my youngest uncle.

We never went, of course, since dad was busy and my school had started and something or the other always came up.

So now, more than a decade later, here I am, in this, my mom's old room, typing this on a laptop borrowed from my first cousin, the Tata Indicomm connection somewhat unreliable, with this album in my lap. I must have looked at it atleast ten times since finding it and showing it to mom and dad.

What I find most fascinating of all is the places. Its all the places I have seen before, but they all look so different, they all belong to another time.

Marine Drive is almost empty the afternoon my mom and her brothers are posing in front of the sea. Which is incredible by today's standards.

There are these regular b-n-w shots of various permutations and combinations of my mom's family, my mom and her sister posing with their mother, the boys posing together, my grand-dad and my grand-mom standing side-by-side smiling but not holding hands, like it was the norm for middle-class, educated people back then. Everyone looking so deliciously retro it makes us giggle to look at the clothes today.

Then towards the middle of the album, are a set of pictures that fascinate me the most.

Mom reckons they were taken by my grandfather or my eldest uncle with this old red plastic Kodak camera that she remembers.

The pictures are all of a particular afternoon on the beach at Miramar most likely. There are six photos all of my mom, then two of my grandmother, and one of my grandfather.

The one I find most striking is the one that has my mother sitting cross-legged on a rock, staring out at the sea, her eyes crinkled with the sun in them, her lips curved in a slight smile.

I am amazed most in this photograph by something I cant really describe, her expression, the way she's smiling a smile I've never seen before, not once in the dozens of photos I've seen of her childhood and youth. She seems joyful, but strangely mysterious, almost as if she knows a hilarious secret that she wont tell anyone.

I showed my mom the photo and asked her what she was thinking. She says she doesnt remember. But its incredible to see her in that photograph, looking so different from anything I have ever seen her look like.

She must have been sixteen when the photo was taken, the next year she wud leave to come to Bombay to study in Ruia college and its almost as if I see her face in the photo, filled with the possibility and the happiness of this new life stretching out ahead of her.

What I find most marvellous is that the girl in the photo is not my mother at all, she is someone I have probably never even met. Someone unfinished, yet whole. Someone vaguely familiar, but also new and strange.

My mom thinks I am imagining things when I tell her she looks like a mysterious stranger with that impish smile. But I think dad understands becoz he loves that photo immediately, like I do.

I wonder again about time and change and youth and life. I wonder if my mother was a whole other person at this stage in her life or if its just the angle of the camera lens or the photographer's skill that makes me so fascinated with that one picture of my mother as a stranger.

And before we head home to Bombay and relegate this album to picasa after scanning every single one of these memories, I just knew I had to capture this feeling in my head on my blog.

You know, for posterity, Altho, I dont think I've done a very good job of describing the exact emotion my mother's photo evokes in me. But then, that picture is worth a lot more than my words.

Friday, July 16, 2010

15 Things About Me That I Swear Are True (in a manner of speaking!) a.k.a. Tagged by Anty

“This award is bestowed upon a fellow blogger whose blog’s content or design is, in the giver’s opinion, brilliant.”

And voila! No more blogger's block! :)

Some rules of the Game:

a) Show off your honesty (and modesty) by thanking the person who gave you the award and link to their post. (Thank you, Anty, with her brilliant purple brains!)

b) List 15 honest things about yourself. Cheating makes you lame, so just play along, all you taggees.

c) Select 7 other bloggers you think deserve this award and pass it on to them.

d) Notify said bloggers about the award and invite them to be the honest ones next.


So here we go!

1) I am a complete and utter movie buff..I can watch pretty much any type of movie, right from Gunda & Daaku Haseena to Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and The Dark Knight to In the Mood for Love and Through a Glass Darkly. I like to think this is becoz I am open-minded and unpretentious. ;)

2)I am also a real water baby, can bob about (and swim quite well, if I want to) in the water for hours together. On a totally unrelated note, I often get distracted very easily from the task I have at hand. This leads me to believe I am the perfect Gemini-Cancer cuspian. See, I find astrology very, very amusing.

3) The only reason I wud enter the kitchen until 2 years ago, was to to eat, but I can successfully claim to cook quite well now. I believe cooking is a survival skill.

4) I can be fiercely competitive and unfortunately have not learned to take failure in my stride all that well.

5) I absolutely love word games. Scrabble, Boggle, Scramble..I love them all!

6) Books are something I cannot live without, I feel all my knowledge has stemmed from reading, education not standing in my way.

7) I like to think of my brain as a receptacle for useless information. For eg, do you know how many depressions there are on a golf ball? I do! If you're dying to know, dont google it, ask me! I love showing my trivia-trove off!

8) I have made several (namely, four) unsuccessful attempts to learn to play a musical instrument, those being, with a harmonium, a keyboard, a guitar and a violin. I have found to my dismay that I have neither the skill nor the patience to stick to any one instrument. And although, I shall never make it, I shall always appreciate good music and art as I understand it, and for that atleast, I am grateful. And for those of you who know, and/or complain about it, I tend to sing for days on end the song I am obsessing over at that point in time. (Pa-pa-paparazzi!)

9) I adore dogs. Their smell, their warmth, their wet nose. It is my personal wish to own atleast 2 dogs some day.

10) I suck at chess, bowling and air hockey. But I always have fun playing.

11) I almost never have dreams, but when I do, they are so crazy they make for THE most hilarious breakfast conversations, and I can laugh at them for hours.

12) I have a life long love affair with travel. Nothing excites me more than the prospect of seeing a new place, local culture, new languages, and food. I wud die a happy woman if I get my wish of visiting the South Pacific islands even if its only the once.

13) I completely believe in the Douglas Adams quote which goes, "Prejudice is an insidious guest. It colours your perceptions of the world before you even know you've let it in." I hope no prejudice never ever diminishes my ability to experience anything ever, in any place in the world. I also have a life long love affair with Mr. Adams, so what if its a little one-sided?

14) I love the World War II era and though I know and understand that it was a catastrophe that should never be relived, I believe it was that era that made the world what it is today. The era produced the best of inventions, gave birth to romance that has inspired books and movies for decades together, characters that the world will never forget. All that intelligence, secrecy, fear, retrospect, the era summed up all the complex hues of life. Definitely exaggerating, I would have to say, I aspire to read every book, fiction and non-fiction, and watch every movie, documentary or otherwise, made about this era in history. This has led me to believe that it is the horror and conflict born in such times that forces us to bring forth our true natures and examine our real selves.

15) I cherish my friends, and though I may proclaim to, I never give up on them, and since I choose them carefully, I keep them for life.

Okay, this post was originally about listing ten things but I can be excused its expanse in celebration of my victory over that blogger's block.

My taggees can, therefore, choose to list ten or fifteen or twenty-five or more honest things about themselves.

I hereby tag mgeek, Deeksha, Pankaj, Arslan, Srishti, Nitisha and Sherry! Looking forward to reading about you guys.. :)

Thursday, July 1, 2010

The goddess in the rain

There is a pleasure in the pathless woods,
There is a rapture on the lonely shore;
There is society, where none intrudes,
By the deep sea, and music in its roar,
I love not Man the less, but Nature more...

-Lord Byron,
(from Into the Wild)

Save the Last Dance for me

Never let me go (Isha's poem)

And once again we dance
"For old times' sake."
you whisper.

I let my head rest
on your shoulder
and breathe in your smell.

You hum near my ear
a low soft hum
humming your once-favourite song.

My fingers on your back
feel the familiar softness
of your old blue checked cotton shirt.

You lift my chin
and touch my cheek,
flicking the salty moisture away with your right thumb.

I look down
and under my breath I say a prayer
willing time to stop or turn back.

The song ends,
the music changes,
you stop dancing.

I take your gentle hand in mine
and we walk away
together one last time.

P.S. Becoz Isha said it goes with the tone of the blog. :)