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Are my reading aspirations mocking my actual reading?

February 21, 2012

Yes, yes, yes!

Books are crawling in slowly, steadily, filling up my room. Book shelves are spilling into the bags where I store the ones which I have read, the bags which are bursting at their seams. Somebody advised an e-book reader but I wasn’t impressed. How will I show off my books? It’s like asking women to stop buying jewellery and invest in gold bonds or something.

If I have an addiction, it is that I can’t stop buying books. I read a lot of blogs on books and follow book-sections of most newspapers and ever since there has been a something called flipkart, my book buying behaviour has known no bounds.

Sometimes I think, am I one of those responsible for death of the ‘bookstore’? I don’t know. Maybe not. The bookstores died long back when they started mixing books with pleasures of coffees and greeting cards. They started dying when they couldn’t manage to upkeep a poetry section properly. Bookstores, at least the multi-storeyed, multi-chained ones are full of whining kids (parents don’t buy them all the toys they want), still air, books kept in wrong shelves and employees taking forever to find them. Where is the love and peace?

So, here is how I buy books these days:

1.       Listen to and read up on book recommendations

2.       Research if the book suits my taste or is something I want to experiment with

3.       Search for it online

4.       See if it is less than Rs. 400 and less than 400 pages (an upper limit I set for myself so that I no more buy those heavy, expensive coffee table books. I have no coffee tables to keep them on.)

5.       Order the book and await delivery

6.       Open the nicely packaged book with a paper cutter

7.       Read the back cover and remove the price tag (to feel less guilty in case I don’t end up reading it soon enough or completely)

8.       Open the book, smell its newness, love it.

Even if it is titled ‘Nausea’.

Just keep looking

February 15, 2012

I saw love, I really saw it

around two months back

while sitting in a restaurant.

An elderly couple,

sitting a little away from my table

were served their dessert,

a slice of chocolate cake

topped with a lit candle

which they blew out together.

Vignette

February 6, 2012

There is this beach inside my head

Where I sit content and calm

Cuddling with my loneliness

Till someone throws a Frisbee at me

Open up a little, will you?

An advice I sometimes catch

And write it down on sand.

If I am a door, I am ajar

If I am a jar, I am without lid

If I am a lid, I am broken.

I get up, I step out

Adding one more to the crowd

While this sun shines through me

And my loneliness makes shadow puppets.

C.

January 9, 2012

Someone died. Someone not related or close to me at all. Someone whose death neither made me sad nor angry… it just made me sigh. And contemplate. And had I not met her two weeks before her death, she would have been just another statistic to me – a 55 years old female, married with a married kid, loving husband, suffered 2 months of excruciating pain because of stomach cancer and then died as expected, right on schedule.

If the cause of your cancer is self-inflicted like too much tobacco, you don’t expect cent percent sympathy, especially if you ask for a cigar to celebrate the news. You are referred to a psychiatrist then.

She was an aunt of a friend of mine and she decided one day she wants to meet me because she found out we shared a common native place. Also, she wanted to meet as many people as possible before she moved on. Sort of a compensation for years that she wouldn’t be around to socialize. I did not want to meet her per se – not because I am afraid of people who know they are dying but because I get a bit nervous around people to whom the death does not matter. They remind me of a little bit of me once upon a time, just that this is not means of an escape for them but a forever exile.

I had to meet her anyways. On her persistence, my friend drove her to my house and I suddenly felt so guilt ridden I went to her car to meet her (Had her wheelchair bound self could come up my house, she would have). We shook hands. We exchanged pleasantries. She admonished me why I didn’t come to meet her sooner.  She was wearing a bright red scarf and a night gown which had daisies on it. Everything seemed out of place. She kept on talking about all the food joints of our native place  and all I could think of was her imminent death. She asked me all about my painting classes, said she always wanted to take up art but never did and I had to pretend she is not dying and tell her it’s never too late.

Sometimes, it just is too late.

Anyone can die anywhere anyhow. The point is to have no regrets – like her, who did enjoy her last cigarette on her death bed.

I had persistent cough for quite some time till a few days back.

I went to two doctors (I get paranoid) and both of them questioned, “Do you smoke?” When I said no, one of them insisted, “Are you sure you are telling me the truth? Are you sure you don’t smoke?” “No, I don’t. It is just the weather.”

I am yet to have my first cigarette.

I have been pushed and prodded and peer-pressured and been affectionately called a ‘loser non-user’. I have been begged and blackmailed. And through all these years, I have been tempted. There have been times when I have childishly held a pen between my fingers, sucked on it and have blown out rings of nothing. Most people I consider ‘cool’ smoke. They are the ones who live up and in the moment, who are rash and non-thinkers, who light up (in?) whichever room they walk in. I, though not afraid of death, am extremely wary of physical pain.

I know I can get cancer even if i don’t smoke ever. But somehow, whenever I am just about to be tempted enough, along comes someone who is dying of cancer or is already dead. And it makes me think of all the things I am yet to do, all the unread books and unseen TV series, all the new gadgets that are yet to come out, and I want to know I can wake up tomorrow not counting days till I have to die.

And still, if ever I get terminal cancer, I will just run away, somewhere far from all the people who will pretend I am not dying, and I will go to a beach and read and listen to music and drink sangrias all through my remaining days.

I won’t fight.

I am a coward like that.

One hell of an excuse

January 9, 2012

No, I haven’t abandoned this blog.

I may have abandoned this year already, though.

They all start on such high notes, these new years, with their promises of change and betterment, of positive resolutions and goal setting, of endless merry making. Now, ten days hence, it’s just a gradually deflating air balloon lying in a corner, with the ‘happy’ and the ‘new’ in the year getting minuscule and illegible day by day.

I thought I will tell you all the interesting stories I had in store of the year gone by, and I had so many to tell, but I never could get over that one single thing that has stopped so many interesting things from happening in my life.

That one vice of a thing called TV. I watch too much TV. Too much.

Year 2011 has been one year of relentless slavery to American television, sacrificing reading and exercising, not enough writing and painting.

I watched in 2011:

1.     All of the series Mad Men

2.     All of House MD

3.     All of Community

4.     All of Entourage

5.     All of Lost

6.     All of Parks and Recreation

7.     I continued with 30 Rock, Gossip Girl, How I Met Your Mother, Modern Family and the Big Bang Theory

This is a lot of TV. Not to include the re-runs of FRIENDS and Sex and the City.

You would think I never saw TV in my life before.

Sometimes, I try to defend this addiction and reason it out with an upside maybe, but there is no real upside to it.

Except maybe… there are times when I am sitting and thinking something and I recall a scene or a line from one the sitcoms and I smile to myself, smile into oblivion, smile for nothing obvious.

Additional notes:

  • Next in the pipeline is “Downton Abbey‘.
  • Mad Men is my favorite of all. I am custom made for the part of  ‘an oppressed secretary who turns into an angry feminist’ – career skills wise and personality wise. If time travel is possible, I will travel to 1960’s New York in a heartbeat.
  • I do not like Hugh Laurie without the stubble. Watching him play Bertie Wooster hardly ignited any passion in me than what Dr. House does. (But I doubt anyone loves reading Wodehouse more than I do).
  • I thought I wouldn’t like Entourage but I loved it. It’s ironical because I can’t stand men in general. It has happened once before too – when I loved reading ‘High Fidelity’, contrary to popular opinion that I would hate it.
  • I watched ‘Lost’ twice, the same scary scenes with eyes shut again as the first time around, in order to understand it more. I didn’t. Instead, I had dreams of being stranded on islands every single day I watched ‘Lost’. I am a little ashamed of this.
  • I only watch ‘Gossip Girl’ because I love reading NY Mag’s reviews of it. I have never enjoyed reading a critic’s perspective more.
  • I stopped watching ‘Glee’ because there are only so many teen dramas I can handle in life. But I love the music bit of it, whatever people say. I arrived to ‘music listening scene’ pretty late and ‘Glee’ did expose me to a lot of music, auto-tunes notwithstanding.
  • I will always love sitcoms more than I will love dramas or any movies.
  • I do not watch reality TV or horror stuff and I never will.
  • All of the above TV watching happens on the laptop except for re-runs, for which the actual TV is used on Sunday afternoons, if I am home.
  • I don’t watch stuff on actual TV not because of the commercial breaks (I don’t mind ads) but because they put bleeping sounds over unnecessary words like ‘shit’ and ‘breasts’
  • I don’t understand if it serves any purpose to show Sarah Jessica Parker smoke a cigarette for a full minute and beep out ‘fuck’
  • Even if we get influenced enough to say it, ‘fuck’ won’t cause cancer.

Let’s remove these rocks

December 8, 2011

My erstwhile roommate was here again. Her ex’s father passed away suddenly. She flew down to be around him. They have known each other for five years; have been friends, have dated, lived in, broken up and gotten back together on an infinite loop. Then when they couldn’t take the heart ache anymore, she quit the city and moved out, in hopes of moving on.

Maybe she already has.

I have known her for just over a couple of years and she is easily the strongest woman I know.

She knows how to love and she knows how to let go. And then she is ready to love again.

While most people I know, including myself, are either stuck on the repeat playlist or erase it to record another. We try too hard. We forget that most human hearts are programmed for infinite love.

She says, “Good memories are regret proof”.

Remember potli baba ki? I grew up watching baba bring stories. Baba was my Santa Claus. All I wanted in life was stories and all I want in life now is stories too (though now, I would like  to leave a few under the stones myself).

I think of her as being my one of my Babas…my story teller. She has these amazingly inane yet so captivating stories to narrate that I invite her over for dinner and we start chatting and oh! It’s already midnight and no dinner has been made or ordered in!

And the hunger for and hangover of her stories never ends!

Good stories are radiators on cold winter days, they warm you from inside. And since the temperatures are dropping and there are certainly no invincible summers inside me, I am going to survive on telling you a few stories from this year that’s almost slipped away.

And if you are also telling a story somewhere, do let me know.

On Saturdays…

December 4, 2011

I won’t arise

Till there’s sunshine

Outside my window

Even if it means noon

On blurred winter days

 

Then, brunch, made by me

Two fried eggs, toast, tea

And some TV

 

The art class, oil colours

Shared autos, naked children

Playing hopscotch on

The sides of the streets

 

At one traffic stop

A beggar snatched

My juice box

While I looked at how

The graffiti spilled

‘Fuck this life’

From the walls

Alongside warnings

Do not stick bills

 

Back home at seven or eight

Order a big dinner for one

Switch on vh1, top ten list

Wash clothes, eat, sleep

After spending hours online

Reading stories of lives

Known and unknown.