Saturday, 10 September 2016

Homesickness

It's only two weeks in a new country. It's supposed to be Fall, with brown leaves and all, and instead, I am sweating and realizing that the weather is the same as in Delhi.

I miss Delhi. I am homesick to an extent of missing Delhi, instead of my first home. I made irrevocable ties in the city to last a lifetime. A home or two in a heartbeat. 

Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Writing, with sobriety

I am about to submit an MPhil dissertation in a week. The degree is so worthless that it is not even worth the space of a blog post. But futility and existential questions of the depressing sort have always attracted me. For long, I have written in ways where I have let my sentences go beyond the prescribed length for short sentences on MS Word. Long sentences are a thing, I always thought. I mean, why kill that one profound thought I had about that one random girl I stalked on Facebook two days ago with a buzzkill called punctuation? Profound thoughts have no pause. No Full-stop. Sentences flow, tumble, rumble, and always have a shady side affair with the next which it conveniently overflows into. Writings are messy, slimy reflections of characters rather than the prototype of a grand narrative that grammar text books have always asked you to adhere to. So, when Strunk and White dictates your grammar, you, Mr. Obscure-student-who-will-die-depressed-someday have the right to assert, that dear grammar books, Rihanna was better at explaining Capitalism by just saying work, than you and your privileged dictionary ever can.

When you are writing for a profession, you don't have the liberty of suddenly digressing to Rihanna. You digress only on to Hegel or Heidegger, or some white Western dude. You can throw in a Toni Morrison for diversity, but as far as I knew, Alfred Nobel was pretty a blast of a white dude. You bitch the hell about how some data reeks of male privilege, but you just can't ramble on with your hypotheses without being called a mad philosopher. You have to pause, every once in a while, because short sentences are cuter. You maintain sobriety and somberness. Your words are well thought out. You back it up with evidence, and if a word is not footnoted, you are anxious. If you want to crack a joke about your subject, you cannot footnote it. I mean, you can't say Churchill looks like Mad Eye Moody and get away with it. You just can't pull that off. Dissertation writing is a depressingly sobering experience, where you are grilled into the narrow, small sentences of academic privilege, till you lose your mad, unpunctuated, unpunctured, voice to collective edits.

Friday, 27 May 2016

I got to know that Saudi Arabia has banned pictures with fluffy cats, and it saddened me. I mean, when life throws you an incomprehensible dissertation, you look forward to that one day when things will change, education will end, and you will be able to put up a profile photo wildly smiling with a fluffy cat that you just rescued off the pavement. (Who abandons fluffy cats in the first place?).

Dissertation blues are real. It is when you suddenly realize that your argument needs to be spruced up, and from there it's an endless chasm where your thought eventually plummets to questioning your intelligence, tenacity, future, life, and even love for the aforementioned feline things - beings that always inspires me to grow a personality at least, if not strikingly glowing intelligence.

I wish my brain functioned more that it does. My life wouldn't be slow, my decision to do things with life would come earlier, and in times of deep pessimism, the future would not look like just an endless wait for things to happen.

Thursday, 12 November 2015

This is a ghost of a place because I resided elsewhere. There's a haunt of memories of attempting to convey something, I forget what. The book shelves are dusty as its been long since one has pulled out the paperback as it left trails of clean wood. Each book has memories of love laughter and people. Some are nearer to the desks of the school and some are closer to goodbyes in the airport.

Traces and trails. No one will know of our histories without the traces we will choose to leave behind. The hearts shall remain unwritten. There will be ghost of a heart somewhere in the pages that are not dog-eared for remembrance.

Friday, 2 October 2015

Autumns.

When I had first started writing a blog, I would become particularly active during examination seasons. Like earlier rituals, I went through my favorite blogs, un-updated, unsigned, remaining only as smells of autumns gone. Always lingering... of pasts of a teenager, presents of an adult, and wishful forgetting of the futures to come.

And here, in the present, autumn sets in with gushes of cold whiffs of air only reserved for moments of moonlight. The city I have begun to call my home looks enchanting. As I walk through the musty lanes near my residence, foraging for sudden cravings of chocolate, the air caresses with determined welcoming of a new season. I always take autumn as signals of something new. The romantics would chide me for altering meanings of entrenched metaphors. But I guess that's only the Bengali in me. We are known to calculate our years around the axis of the Durga pujo. But however much I shall be away from the first home this time, the essence is, somewhere within, everywhere. As someone said, it's the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness. As also of cold caresses, warm embraces in the air, and taking stock of losses and gains.


I wanted to write something, again on the eve of some examination. Life comes full circle, exam to exam, of course. Fifteen was never too different from twenty-five. Should have known. 

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

of hasty smudges, and other things.

At some point, I liked to paint. I would fixate upon the deep blue sky and the moon, and dabble the size 2 paint brush on the giant white globe to embellish it with grey spots. Sometimes, there would be too much of spots. A fresh coat of white would be applied, I would look impatiently at it as the last drop of watery, muddy white would refuse to dry in the wringing humidity of Calcutta. Eventually a hair dryer would come to my rescue. The waves from the dryer would create impatient bursts of spontaneous clouds on the sky, unrealistic, and immature more than amateurish imprints. I would cover up that pool of smudged, roughed piece of sky with objects. I would add a kite, or a bird. I would add a train in the sky for all I cared. May be two moons. Instead of hiding that ugly patch on the gullible, collapsing, weak and exhausted paper, I embellished it with details that would create a new focus on the painting. My impatience would continue. I would question, yet hasten my shaky skills that stopped developing at childhood. I would try to draw the real world but invariably draw something more than what our real visions permit. The mountains after all had to look like mountains. Two moons, so what? The moon had to look like moon. Water paint would test my patience. I was lazy to wait, yet impatient to strive for the perfection I wished was attained. I let the water colours be. They could remain un-mingled, uncontaminated in those neat bottles. The colours on the palate could dry with ignorance, one on top of the other, undistinguished, unusable. I brought out crayons to finish the project faster. They would pale at the touch of water. Damn those puddles. I always made too much of them. I was always lazy to dab the cloth at the right time. I was always disgusted at the way the cheap papers gave way to small flakes that would make the puddles muddy, its foundations weak. The paper was so weak, I wish I had better paper! Eventually, with haste yet pride, too much details covering up weaknesses, the painting would be produced. It would not be as I had expected it to be, it was done with too much impatience. As if the ideas, as ideals, were already there, already concrete. I was only supposed to hastily fill colours and make it manifest. After all, we incorrigibly see the future in concrete terms, don't we? We promise, talk, expect, like it is ready-to-happen. Add hasty colours, blot, smudge, triumph to reach that ephemeral goal of imagined life that's never there.

Sunday, 11 January 2015

Customary new year post because, JLT.

This is a consolation post. Why? Because life is chaos. I was watching a movie on the 31st of December. I saw a scene in some movie where boy was narrating to co-passenger how it chanced upon this girl 'who was different' and was apprehensive that meeting her after a year would jeopardize the picture. All the co-passengers talk to him like they are the messengers of Cupid, armed with the love arrows and also clairvoyant enough to predict what the girl wants (him, of course). Such movies are often like old WB or MGM Cartoons: When the Coyote chasing the Road Runner fell into the canyon only when he realised he was mid-air. (As a Cartoon Network loyalist of the 1990s, I refuse to acknowledge the current crop of moving-doodles as cartoons). There was a marked suspension of reality before that point, and he literally ran through/on air. If this was real life, this boy would be talking to co-passengers who would be avoiding him by pretending to do the crosswords in the newspapers. The kid next to him would probably be throwing up only to look at him with the hope of entertaining his mind away from nausea. And thus, suspension of reality.

Such movies, painted and dented with such forceful causalities are particularly loved because they bring forth dawning comprehension about life and love, trying to make sense of the chaos that these things really are. And these movies are almost definitive in Decembers. They appeal to your end-of-the-year sensibilities, where the world has created an idea that each year must show some form of completion in your life. Boy must meet girl as the clock strikes midnight (else Cinderella may not leave her glass shoes) etc. etc. I realised I have no such conclusiveness to display. It's not fun. Therefore, this post is a narcissistic highlight of all my trysts with destiny I managed to encounter in the past year:

1. I came back to Calcutta for two months, only to be hurled back to Delhi again. City of Joy is clearly disgusted with my existence. To prove that, the universe conspired and I accidentally ended up spending half the time in the National Library in Calcutta. It's the only place that serves chai for two rupees. Somewhere, all the communists in my family still feel reassured from their commie-heaven.

2. I graduated this year. No clue why I don't have a picture of looking-important and grinning like an Madman who accidentally ate the Cheshire Cat.

3. I met new people. Yes this statement does sound like I was a convict for long suddenly liberated on to giant pools of population. But the fact is, in spite of having a dangerously low threshold of tolerating humanity (a reciprocal feeling of self-protection, really), I like knowing them. I am not sure how they feel about me, but over the years I believe my social skills have improved from the level of a dead rat to only a dying one.

4. talking of rats, I plunged into research. This deserves some explanation. I have studied history and I have embarked upon a journey which includes hoping to work towards a PhD in the subject. This translates into a lifetime commitment to poverty. Which by default trains me to have a snooze-fest personality and a surly demeanour. This was a result of bad parenting: they let me take my own decisions. Relying on a sixteen year old's decision making capacity is probably a mistake. But they refuse to acknowledge this. Too much faith is unhealthy. Sigh.

5. I am learning the art of academia-talk. It involves conference hopping and ambushing people with questions when they present their research. These questions must have some specific traits: they must be five minutes long. Three minutes should be given in displaying your own knowledge in the subject. In absence of knowledge, you rephrase the content of the paper as a question and throw it back. Such a process is particularly fun if you like the sound of your own voice over the mic. I sometimes end up getting bored mid-sentence, and this isn't a helpful thing.

6. Caused by no. 4 and 5 (and other aspects of my life on the lines of to err is human) I now boast of five strands of white hair. A friend kindly told me that it is five because he stopped counting after that. I take that as, no count no number. My five strands of white hair deserve an elegy, I feel. In ten more years, they shall be facing the tunes of fake hair-dye anyway, possibly in some corner of some obscure hostel-like room with a cracked mirror. *Shudder*.

7. I shall turn 25 this year. Quarter century.  In an age where marketing strategies see you as vulnerable enough to sell under-eye creams to, you know that adding another year is not going to go down well. But 25 isn't that big a deal. The problem lies elsewhere. One of my friends pointed out that this blog has seen me mature through times. I agreed, and something sunk in me a little. I knew that the time has come to accept what I have been not willing to acknowledge all these years: I am probably a hypocrite who pretends to grow up to fit in, but deep down is stuck in the firm belief system of a thirteen year old-in-denial. I therefore obviously defy laws of maturity. Ok wait this isn't highlighting all the talents I was supposed to write about in this post.

Why did I start writing again? Oh well. Doesn't matter. My high school English teacher isn't correcting this bit, and I need not stick to three sections of essay thingy. This shall go without a conclusion.

Happy New Year, fellows.



Monday, 15 September 2014

A moment of introspection can give the illusion of standing at crossroads, at the juncture of something huge about to happen to your life. But then sometimes, we are used to giving our lives more importance than they actually deserve, or were even created for. While the limits of the narrow vision allows you to see the world as concentric ever-widening circles revolving around your life, you are probably not there in some circle at all. A random spec in some obscure space of the cosmic mind: you matter only incidentally, temporally, placed in the narrative only by the dint of time, to be erased, overwhelmed by the tide of due course. But then, human mind is prone to making callous overestimation. A moment of cosmic whim must be given its due importance, a moment of whim where you are hurled back to feeling like being in the centre... And that cosmic gaze too appears to see the centre in you. There's always a moment of chance, choice, to make life appear so much more; that it actually becomes larger. 

Saturday, 9 August 2014

Measuring the giants

You know, as a child, I was always wondering where the skies ended. Could I touch the walls. As I burst through the clouds in my first airplane ride way back in school, the child in me almost gasped that I have shot in to the other side. I peered through the windows, saw the Himalayas as minions made of Plasticine by some unimaginative child, and I looked awed that I could see famous peaks within the line of a single vision. It was breathtaking in it's magnum opus scale. But seen from afar, tiny chain of whiteness really, the uninitiated would just ignore it as a rather well defined chain of clouds. Just another temporary strand of the universe.

The power of the Giants, the force of the strong is overwhelming. And looking back, the Giants bursting into the teenager's vision as distant minions, capable of being grasped within a single line of perception, redefined the notion of overwhelming awe. The awe shifted: to being able to see the giants small from a distance.

You know, I sometimes wonder where the mind ends. Where my boundaries lie, and why the boundaries seem to navigate in the spaces of my heart to set up whimsical temporary values that whither as soon as they crop, only to be replaced by new. I refuse to write about literature, the more real-world, and things that matter for the pretense of worldly-wise-wisdom. The real real is somewhere floating out there. Giant, gigantic, overwhelming. But sometimes to the mind, they are like the big mountains suddenly compressed, distanced, within a single line of vision. And there's something exhilarating about this discovery. Life is neither more nor less. It just needn't be measured.