My Opinion On Opinions

I was probably around the impressionable age of six that day. Not unlike your everyday six year old girl in the 90s, I lived for two things – Barbie dolls and delicious food. And sometimes I’d walk around on my toes, wrapped in mom’s sheer dupatta and pretend to be Miss India. But it was mostly the food.

On the aforementioned day, I had accompanied my parents for dinner to someone’s place. I can’t recall whose house it was, but I do remember it was a newly married couple, because along with the memory of the incident comes a memory of a dozen red and white bangles jingling on a delicate wrist every time I was served food.

We were eating homemade Chinese. Terrible homemade Chinese. There was too much soya sauce in the Manchurian, the noodles were too thick and greasy and the whole point of the chewy chicken dish was destroyed with the amount of vegetables it had in it. After dinner, the host affectionately asked if I enjoyed my meal and I, full from the meal, decided it was my duty to now dish out ­­constructive criticism.
I let her know I was not pleased. My palette was not designed to enjoy the marriage of starch and soya she’d placed before me, nor was it created to have to bear with that rubber she called chicken (or whatever there was of it). I was like Gordon Ramsay on crack. Of course everyone laughed it off, but I felt the warmth disappear from the young lady’s hug as she thanked me for coming over.

There was an unbearable silence in the car as we drove back home. I kept trying to break it with a joke or a song, but the weight of it made me feel like I’d done something wrong. I asked. I always ask – it’s better than living off assumptions. So I asked my mother if I’d done something wrong.

“No,” she said, almost immediately, her voice tinted with disappointment. “You did something that wasn’t nice. If you don’t have something nice to say to someone with good intentions, don’t say it.”

I didn’t understand the difference between ‘wrong’ and ‘not nice’ then. I do now. You might disagree with what my mother said to me that day. On some level, I do too. We’re living in an era of unprecedented freedom of speech and everyone has an opinion on everything, laced with emoticons and hashtags, ready with links and videos, efficiently packaged with technology to shove itself down the throats of unsuspecting consumers.

I recently watched a video called ‘My Choice’ by Deepika Padukone for the Vogue Empower campaign. It was mostly because of the barrage of negative comments that I decided to watch it. Words like ‘hypocritical’ and ‘urban garbage’ have been used against this video. It amazes me how people have so much time, to sit through something they don’t enjoy watching from start to finish, analyze it, form opinions on it, discuss it online, bash, shame, protest. Does this community not get exhausted complaining over and over again, making a fuss about things that were merely designed to make people who enjoy it smile and those who don’t, ignore it and move on with their lives?

There was recently a big brouhaha about a photograph that Canada based poet Rupi Kaur posted on Instagram showing a lady in bed with a blood stain on her behind as well as on the bedsheet, accompanied with words on the taboo in India around the topic of menstruation. Personally, I could not appreciate it. In fact, for the first time, I was unable to move on with my life after seeing something online that I didn’t agree with. What did I do about it? I could have written a 1000-word long post about how the reason I don’t discuss my periods in public is not because it’s a social taboo, but the same as why I don’t discuss my toilet habits. But before we begin to so vehemently oppose what’s on the internet, we need to consider that we chose to watch the video. Read the blog post. Listen to the podcast. Was the intent of the artist to piss you off? Because if it wasn’t, you really need to relax.

Life is too short to watch movies you don’t rejoice in, to read books you don’t find an absolute delight. Life’s too short to spend getting offended and complaining about art. Do what makes you happy, savor what you enjoy. Spread good energy.

You have the right to an opinion. You have the right to share this opinion. You also have a right to publicly complain about what you can’t appreciate, and shame those who do for their point of view. These can’t be classified as right or wrong. I just feel what we say online should be driven by the same set of rules that govern our offline interactions.

If you don’t like something, raise your voice.

If you don’t like something and the act of raising your voice doesn’t help anyone or leave anybody happier apart from yourself, ignore it.

If you don’t have something nice to say to someone with good intentions, don’t say it.

Love and Other Verbs

Love at first sight is rather easy to understand, don’t you think? What really grinds your gears? Grey eyes? Intelligent conversation? The way a person handles their fourth whiskey and the words they utter once it’s vanished?

Either way, love at first sight is ridiculously simple. People get it. They make movies about it. They write novels about it. It’s the ‘cool’ kind of love, I guess. The concept is easy to grasp because most people have an idea about what they want and when they see something similar to their idea of what they want, they usually decide they love it. And believe it or not, love is a decision. It all sounds very romantic and poetic to say you had no choice in the matter and that you weren’t accountable for your feelings; but while you’re out there being poignant about your life, you’re also being ignorant. Love takes time and effort, love takes dedication and decision, it takes work and it takes patience and sooner or later you realize that love in itself is a verb.

Sometimes in life we find love we aren’t looking for. What does one do with love they weren’t looking for? Some people discard it. ‘We’re not ready,’ they say. And it’s true, they aren’t, they’re simply just not ready. The trouble with even the most brilliant meal when one isn’t hungry is just that – they’re not hungry. And hunger and readiness for love are just among the long list of things one can’t force in life.

Some people, however, take it in their stride. They take the love they’re given and use it to warm themselves. They take the love and use it to smile. They take the love and use it to feel, because in this era of fashionably silent heart and constant distractions, feeling feelings requires the aid of something.

I was lost. I was happy, ridiculously so, but lost nonetheless. I had an agenda, a definite plan, and you came unannounced and charmed me into this life without an exit strategy. And the problem with your love is that it makes me content. I had plans, sweetheart, I had a blueprint and a paintbrush and a quill and a pot of ink and I thought I had the gourmet recipe for happiness. And suddenly, there I was, standing with my artillery and all your love, with no war to fight. Lost in the right direction, but lost all the same. Smiling, but lost. Warm, but lost. Using your love, but not to find directions.

Did I scare you while I was lost? I think all the weightlessness scared me.  I had lost touch with the girl I used to be and you kept bringing me so close to the brink of recollection, it was terrifying. It still is, it’s bloody petrifying, and it makes my toes numb from time to time. How could you take me, with all my madness? We’re the same on the surface, but within, we’re worlds apart. I want to breathe the air of new places and to feel every emotion there is to be felt in this mortal human life. I want to fall in love with the insides of things.  I want to taste colors and savor sunsets and listen to the sound of birds chirping make-belief conversations, because really understanding things is only so much fun.

And the reason its bloody petrifying is because I want to do it all with you. And I’m scared you’ll ask why, because I have no answer. I will find beauty in sadness and I will draw worlds from a single expression of yours and I can’t promise anything but constant emotion. But if you’ll have that and me with it, you’ll see there’s a beauty in that too.

I haven’t done a love before that wasn’t at first sight, so I don’t have a master plan here. I haven’t the faintest idea what grinds my gears here. I just know that your hands feel like home and your smiles feel as familiar as your sighs, so really how hard could it be?

There’s something beautiful about booking a one way ticket, isn’t there?

It’s Almost The End Of The Year

“I have shed my skin so many times.
The graveyards must be full of all the people I used to be”

It’s almost the end of the year. Can you feel it yet?

The tip of my nose goes pink sometimes and my eyebrows are so frozen I can’t even be surprised. Literally. Everyone’s getting their red and shimmer out. Buble’s singing out of every nook and cranny, his fondue voice making you mentally sway as you make your way to yet another get-together. Every house has a Christmas tree outside, its plastic branches decorated with leftover disco balls and little figurines collected by children too young to have memories. Everyone’s slacking just a bit more at work; eating just a bit more dessert, drinking just a bit more wine, feeling just a bit more in love or just a whole lot more alone. It’s almost the end of the year. Can you feel it yet?

It’s nearly time to decide who the new you will be. Walls are coming down and being built everywhere; some more quietly than others. People are talking to people, eager to rewrite beginnings or endings, looking for peace of mind like it was promised. We sit with our bundles of painful memories, not letting them roll out of our eyes and onto our cheeks, ready to learn from them and dispose them off like soiled items, only to realize that we barely even remember the things we never thought we’d forget. As someone famously said, the future is really that forgiving. Can you feel it yet?

There’s suddenly more cookies and rum cake and adipose tissue in life than there is intent. We all have these plan-less goals for ourselves, neatly tucked away in corners of our subservient minds, waiting for a fresh calendar to fix ourselves top down because right now we’re too busy treating our hearts as metaphors. When’s the last time you actually put your hand to your chest and felt your heartbeat? It’s a powerful thing. It makes you so aware of every passing second, so awake to the urgency of accomplishment. You begin to wonder what it was that made you think you had time. Can you feel it yet?

You think back to the times you used to think back to those moments. From another time, another place. It doesn’t make you smile and it doesn’t make you sad. It just makes you look away now. Love left your body, momentarily, yet long enough for you to realize that you need to leave some people behind in this year. We’ve spent too much time decorating our lives with leftover disco balls and little figurines, collected over time in more ways than one, as day by day we grow a bit more envious of those children too young to have memories. Can you feel it yet?

It’s almost the end of the year and you’re praying that by the end of the next you’ll have that job. That waistline. That girl. It’s what you prayed for the last year and the year before last. It’s what you’ll pray for the next year and the year after that. A different job. A smaller waistline. Another girl. Another cliché.

This year, I want to read a bucket list through. I want to really understand the colour purple. I want to cook pad thai and a mean little key lime pie. I want to swim in a new sea. I want to be an art parasite. I want to be everyone I used to be and more. There’s just so much room, now that it’s empty. I want to be the people I wanted to be with, because I always believed in forever.

I wish all of you peace and so much love. I hope you bask in happy vibes and drink mellow dreams and if you must break, I pray his kisses gave you butterflies as they came and strong art as they left.

Zen. 2015.

In Staccato Rhythm

It’s a rainy day in a college by the road, and my two corridor mates are introducing me to a blend of guitars and endlessness they call classic rock. I’ve heard its kind before, but never when steeped in someone else’s enthusiasm.

It’s yet another rainy day, in an apartment by a different road. Four years of my steadfast indifference has done nothing to dampen their enthusiasm. There’s new songs blended in now. One of them now hunts and gathers new music from the scuzzy underbelly of the city. The other has rekindled loves from his past. I still don’t understand it. I’m beginning to suspect I don’t understand music at all.

It’s the wee hours of the morning, and I’m sitting in a shared cab back from work, listening to my borrowed tastes. It fills the silence better than inflicting conversation on my fellow corporate drone. His stop is before mine. I come home to a girl who is no longer here.

It’s been ages since college when we set out to ride back to it. The road is the same, it’s sweltering hot, though. We’ve forgotten most of our CDs. This was before we, as a country, could afford streaming. There’s no classic rock. There’s the corridormate-turned-flatmate’s newest find. He goes on about how we should support the local music scene. For the first three hours of the drive, he insists it’s all alright that we can now recite the lyrics in our sleep.

I’m at the beach by the college by the road. The breeze brings back memories. They say music brings back memories. Places do, too. Smells, sounds, the feel of a place is stronger in my mind than notes in the ether. I’m convinced. It’s not music that I’ll miss.

It’s Sunday and we’re all staring at each other across a wooden table. This used to be a bar for Sunday afternoons, it’s now one for Friday nights. It plays every song you know, smeared into one explosion of sound. It reminds me of clubs, not in a bad way. New people are at the table. They remind me of clubs, not in a bad way. New people bring new music.

It’s a lazy Sunday in a new house, and the rain has obliged. I’m sipping tea with a girl I’ll hurt. She’s talking to me about electronic music. That can’t be good, I tell myself. I profess my borrowed inclinations, scoffing at the idea of anything new being good. Funny that the corridormate-turned-flatmate, in his final months in the city, would wax endlessly about how the goodness of anything new.

It’s the same early morning on another day. There’s no one in the cab today, no one waiting at home. I stumble in sleepily to soundtracks seeping through my flatmate’s locked door. Soundtracks, I understand. I begin to wonder if I’m overthinking this. One of the classic rockers left long ago, the other left less long ago. The guitars are no longer endless where I live.

It’s raining as I bid them farewell, the first time. My flatmates, neighbors, collegemates and the girl. Raining. Rain is a place by itself. I wait for my flight at the airport, watching the drops race down the glass. Drinking seems inappropriate, like I’m tarnishing the memory of the past years with more of the same. I plug in, and listen to more of the same, taking my mind off the last things I’d seen.

It’s a different early morning. I’m in a different cab. It’s driven back from the airport by two grim chauffeurs. I reach home to utter silence. The entire flight here, I’ve drowned anxiety in simple mash seasoned with the occasional weird taste. There’s no filling a silence. That phrase shouldn’t exist. Silence breaks. You can only break a silence.

My second farewell is less charged, if more permanent. I’m back across the oceans. I move from the job with the late night cab and find another one. I move from the city with the job with the late night cab and find a new one. With new people. There is a bookshop under my house. I almost never go. My little portable speaker is still in my boxes. I’ve forgotten the playlist on my phone.

It’s a cold winter’s day as I trot from the bus into work. I rummage about in my backpack, looking for a mouse. I find earphones instead. I plug in. It’s the playlist I’ve built over these years of growing up. It’s every rainy day, on every road, in every house, in every cab, for every farewell. It’s everything silence isn’t. I’m still unconvinced I understand it, but it’s getting harder to believe that.

It’s the same day’s evening. I call the corridor mate. He’s crossed the same oceans as well. We talk like it’s all one day, seven years wide. He has new songs, of course. So do I, now. I hear the new ones, while I finally listen to the old.


This post was originally written by Abhijeet Sathe.
All rights remain with the author.

Musings of the Moth-Human

“I saw this moth in my room, it was going towards the light bulb and it was buzzing around it and I wanted to know why they did that, so I looked it up. It’s because moths are looking for the moon, they’re looking for moonlight because they’re trying to fly north. So this moth, everything in it is telling it to do exactly what it’s doing. It’s doing the right thing, but it’s just the wrong light.”
– Childish Gambino

I wanted to be happy. We writers, we take words too literally. So when I say I wanted to be happy, I don’t mean I wanted to be exhilarated. I didn’t want to be beaming and buoyant every waking moment. I just wanted to be happy. The simple kind of happy, without all the frills. The fragile kind of happy, that you strive to keep because it’s so precious and so hard to come by. The peaceful kind of happy, that lets you breathe at a constant rate all day.

I’ve felt like that before. Those days I sat with my people under marmalade skies, quoting Chanel and Freud in the same drift of conversation as we spoke out our thoughts in screams or subtext; depending on the subject in question. We laughed and loved and ate and slept like a can of wine, fancy and brassy all at once, and that was enough.

I don’t know when it stopped being enough.

I suddenly wanted to be in love. I thought that would make me happier. I sought, I waited, I loved over and over again. I love you, I won’t tell you, but you can tell. Don’t be scared, don’t be appalled, what are you panicking for? Did you think you were special? I love everyone. I love everything. You’re not the only one I love, but I love you. I’m just one of those people, who fall in love with anything that shows me its raw soul, straight up until they show me what became of that raw soul.

What makes us think we humans are any different from those moths?
Happiness is our moon. And we’re all convinced that love or money or beauty are the paths we need to take; little light bulbs hanging low enough for us to feel we’re headed home. I speak for all us moth-humans who picked love; what were we thinking? What were we thinking, walking around with our souls unfenced, unwittingly seeing the moon in the candle flicker that warmed his eyes as he sat across the table and spoke of how much money there was yet to be made in the world.

Sometimes I feel words take away from an emotion as much as they give to it. Just like light hinders vision as much as it aids.

So we moth-humans who picked love, we did what we could. We made little villages in our hearts for them and smiled when we thought they were thinking of us. We wrote letters and spoke poetry, sang songs and kissed scars and wondered what it was that made them wonder why.
Everything in us telling us to do exactly what we’re doing; we’re doing the right thing, but it’s just the wrong light.

How does the moth really find the moon, then? Does it hurt itself on bulbs the way we do? I want to go to a bookstore and leave notes at the ends of books I’ve loved for people who read them, because I know they’re people I won’t fall out of love with. I want to stop falling out of love with people.
You’re not the only one I fell out of love with, but I fell out of love with you. I’m just one of those people, who fall in love with anything that shows me its raw soul, straight up until they show me what became of that raw soul.

And if I can’t find my moon of happiness, I’ll make do with the moth-humans who think the path to it is love. Passionate, all-consuming, soul-wrenching love. I don’t know when it stopped being enough.

There’s nothing quite as heavy as a blank page

A million musings, you know, are floating just under the surface; but not one pops its head up for some fresh air.The fingers tap to an uncertain beat; cautious inspiration for an idea that hasn’t found its rhythm yet.

And all the while, the light keeps fading ever so slightly across the darkened room.
And all the while the text cursor blinks away, asking the same question.

“How do I even begin?”

What series of marks do I leave on this page that will tell them my story? What word or verse will be enough to make them understand? What combination of truth and metaphor, of lies and stories must I tell so that they see the joy and the tragedy, the anger and the irresistible comedy of my designs?

How do I even begin, when here I stand puzzled, grasping at emotions that I can’t even fully understand; fleeting inspirations that bubble up and simmer down below the realm of words. And how they tease us, these compassionate phantoms of the mind; and how all language now feels insurmountably inadequate to express the complexity, the simplicity of the notion that you know and feel to be undeniably true; to be undeniably you.
And all the while the text cursor blinks away, waiting where it’s always been,

While you sit there thinking, “How do I even begin?”


This post was originally written by Suramya Munshi.
All rights remain with the author.

Never a Night Better

Tickets in hand, we gathered in the foyer,
each holding our drink steady, tip-toeing
the great museum staircase, one
careful step at a time — a skip over a coat,
a slight left around the teenage couple — eyes
scanning the impossible crowd for openings
just wide enough for two.

“We got the nosebleed seats,” you said,
leaning yourself on the marble handrail,
leaving a mid-western couple to my side,
and for a moment I felt the evening
and its mystery envelope me in a rush.

How sweet the contrafact in the background
and Ivan, fast but soft on the xylophone,
and you and I, like high school sweethearts,
stealing glances from each other.

I remember the lights being dim, the soft drum
roll giving way to Larry on the tenor sax,
the way your head found my shoulder, and
the way our wine glasses kissed in toast,
as if there was never a night better.

Later, when we stepped out to face the skyline,
my breath rising to join the winter fog,
you held my hand — lightly at first,
and then with urgency.
And I could have sworn that,
were someone to see us
from the windows of the city,
the two of our silhouettes
would have been one.


This poem was originally written by Ayushman Khazanchi.
All rights remain with the poet.

A Momentary Lapse of Reason

In a motion jaded, a memory slips off the periphery.

A memory you so fondly remembered a second ago, vanished forever as if it was never there. Was it about the way your high school sweetheart’s hair smelt, on a morning you both were supposed to be in school? Or perhaps about the song that was playing when you; in all your brazen glory, drove back home in moonlight? I wonder once they make their discourteous exit, do they vacate their quarters for the newer ones? Or are they now masters of their will returning unceremoniously whenever they fancy?

In moments like these and those I cannot recall, I often wonder if they, in a orchestrated feat of human nature, have coalesced into the sweetest pain I’ll ever feel.


This post was originally written by Aman Gupta.
All rights remain with the author.

The Loneliest Day

On a lonely day,
through the grim glass of my bathroom window,
I see the faint outline of a pigeon every day.
It slowly blends in with the dusk.

Every night when I am alone,
I can hear her grunt as I settle in.
There’s something comforting about recurrences.

She must be asleep when I go to the balcony
to watch the haze of lights
racing along the road in the dead of night.
I like these ripples through silence.

It gets a bit cold and there’s a slow drizzle,
the clouds drowning the waning moon.
There aren’t any stars to fade away tonight,
I find solace in their irrelevance.

I shun the cold breeze and go inside,
Turn on the TV for some more noise.
Flip through books, look for a cigarette,
And finally decide to dim the light.

When my eyes close and the conscious fades,
I recall the pigeon wasn’t alone tonight.
Suddenly I realize with a little dismay,
She brought a mate on my loneliest day.


This poem was anonymously submitted for a guest post. 
All rights remain with the poet.

The Mojo Pause.

I’ve been writing all my life, since as far back as I can remember. Collecting quotes, formulating stories, rewording lyrics, trying so hard to put into words (and not just any words; the perfect words) what it is I feel so you can feel it too. I started doing it a bit more often around May, which is when this blog started.
It was like an addiction. You feel, you write; you feel more, you write more. It’s a vicious cycle there’s no stepping out of. You just keep drowning in your own feelings and, as lovely as they might sound in words, they eat you up inside.

Unless.

There’s such a thing as stepping out just in time. Sometimes you’re just not ready. Sometimes, when all nine hundred and ninety nine pieces of the puzzle have been laid out, you need to take a deep long breath before you put in the last piece, because in that very instant, it’s all over.
And somewhere inside, we’re all scared of just that.

I think I’m a little afraid too. I don’t want to figure everything out, just yet. I have too much of my life unplanned, too many people I have yet to meet, yet to learn from, yet to love. I’m a little exhausted. From routine and emotions and trying to make things last and wondering why they don’t.

So I’m stepping out for a bit.
In the meantime, I’d love to encourage guest posts. Anything you might want to share with me and the readers of Lazy and the Overthinker – a quote, a story, haiku, 2 am rants you accidentally worded beautifully and still managed to keep under 1000 words – please feel free to send to the inbox of our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/lazyandtheoverthinkerindia
We’ll make sure we publish you with credits and all that jazz.

I won’t be too long. Just stepping out to get my mojo back. Got a nagging suspicion I left it in Bangalore.

Lost daydreams, interwoven with quotes from Sylvia Plath and Haruki Murakami and a million others who touch my mind.