Tag Archives: goodbye

COME AS YOU ARE

Picture Credits: Hardik Batra

Welcome to my standard night at ISB. It’s 4am and it’s both late night and early morning. I can hear the Gurbani playing in the east as Calvin Harris slowly morphs into Nucleya to the west of my room. Outside in the living room, people are discussing public policy in rural India over a game of Monopoly, and as I look out of my window I see a rabbit hop towards the wood heated from last night’s bonfire. It gets too close and immediately backs away, hopping once again into the darkness. None of us gets a how-to guide, you see? Everybody’s just somewhat winging it.

The wine is over and the temperature is at it’s lowest for the day, so we bring out the rum. The Monopoly has begun to disturb friendships, so we bring out the rum. We’re out of ideas and the paper is due in two hours, so we bring out the rum. A little liquid courage never hurt anyone, so we bring out the rum. Only to wake up the next morning, thirsty, exhausted, drowsy – yet somehow more accomplished, dearer, warmer.

I won’t lie, it’s been an especially gruelling year – but that’s what we came here for in the first place, isn’t it? A year that would ideally have taken two. Not just in what we learn and experience but also physically, mentally, emotionally. Some days we surprise ourselves and own it – the classes, the assignments, the study groups and the networking, still somehow managing to spend quality time with the ones who matter. And yet, some days, we leave our spectacles in the refrigerator.

That’s the beauty of life at this pace. Ever so often it reminds you that you’re still human. Allow yourself a breath – a wasted day, a missed deadline, a failed interview. And then get back up, immediately. That’s what we came here for in the first place, isn’t it?
A year that would ideally have taken more time.

And now with graduation day almost in sight, I try to think of all the ways to tell people all the things I wish I’d known when I began my year here, most of which have to do with emotional stability. That even as you start out, you will meet people who see the same stars as you do. They will inspire you, overwhelm you, bring out the best and worst in you and slowly become a part of you.

But people, as people do, change. Sometimes you just outgrow the ones you started out with, for you mature with experiences, not with years. All of a sudden you’ll be looking at the same stars, seeing different constellations. And nobody is better or worse for it, we just make our own momentum as we go from bone crushing hugs to firm handshakes.

And then there’s the ones you find and keep – different momentums, different starting points and all that jazz. But the same escape velocity. They come out of nowhere and as they do, you realise that for this one year, you’re always one decision away from a parallel universe. And for that one reason, this year is the beginning of anything you want.

I wish we could have bottled this year, like a perfume. Breathed in a little every time life got dreary or uninspiring.

But we can’t, so we bring out the rum.

The Hedgehog’s Dilemma

A number of hedgehogs huddled together for warmth on a cold day in winter; but, as they began to prick one another with their quills, they were obliged to disperse. However the cold drove them together again, when just the same thing happened. At last, after many turns of huddling and dispersing, they discovered that they would be best off by remaining at a little distance from one another.

It’s a theory called the Hedgehog’s Dilemma. Freud used this as an analogy for human intimacy. Apparently you can only get so close to someone without unintentionally hurting them as well as yourself.

Ah well.

What do we, as humans, run away from? Intimacy is a relative term. For you, intimacy maybe the laughter during sex. For me, intimacy maybe the comfortable quiet during a stroll in the park.
I’ll tell you what intimacy isn’t, though.
Intimacy isn’t ordinary.

Why, you might ask, would someone write a poem that doesn’t rhyme? Maybe it’s because putting too much thought into something kills the essence. If we’re too careful, we’ll turn out ordinary.
I can turn you into poetry, dear, but I can’t make you stay. There’s a difference between somebody who loves you and somebody who would do anything to keep you. It’s the difference between want and need, I think.

I’m looking at the November sunset and thinking, if day must turn to night, this is a beautiful way. Nothing ever goes away until it teaches us what it needs to. And we could think of all the ways things fall out but so little of what could happen does indeed happen. There is nothing in a caterpillar that tells you it’s going to be a butterfly. I’m no expert on relationships, but I know that if I’ve loved you, I’ll paint our sunset your color.

If people just lived off promises and guarantees, this world would be a broken place. People live off hope, that’s why it’s still warm, you know? Because people live off hope and try in the best way they know how. And they make their quills blunt together, so they can stay warm longer.

I can be mature and I can be poised and I can be an elegant dream, if you’d like that.
I like it some days too.

But don’t love me for that.

Most days, I’m lost. I write to find myself and I paint to get lost again. Science can’t excite me like a paradox can. I’ll forget things you say and do, but I’ll never forget the way you make me feel. I’ll forget your birthday but I won’t forget the way you smelled on our first date. I’ll stay close to anything that makes me glad I’m alive. Make me glad I’m alive.
Most days, I’m chaos.

And this chaos could be the quills that push you away or the warmth that pulls you close.
That’s for you to decide.

Who’s to say your quills won’t be sharper than mine?

Of Graduation and Vodka

I had butterflies in my stomach right from the moment I booked my ticket to Goa, somehow managing to shut the laptop slowly because the sand stuck in it between the screen and keyboard still crunches from all the times I set out to the library and ended up bag and baggage at the beach.

As I slept though the flight I dreamed about my years there. I remember seeing the world through the bottom of a Smirnoff quarter. Peace was a permanent state. We lost phones so easily because we didn’t really need them. We spent our afternoons looking up the Wikipedia pages of our idols to see where they were at our age. We stayed away from the boys who smelled too good because anyone who smells that good for an 8 am class is obviously marinated in perfume for lack of baths. Every pizza was a personal pizza if you tried hard enough and believed in yourself. Facebook needed a relationship status called, “Man, I don’t know… Ask her…”
We could lie around in the sand, drinking vodka (because we soon learned that if you drink enough vodka it tastes like love) and looking at the stars and talking to anyone about how we missed being the age when we thought we would have our shit together by now. If they weren’t interested, they’d pass out right next to us or throw up on us.
You win some, you lose some.

I reached Goa and within a day I met everyone. Like, everyone. My best friends, my corridor-mates, the girl who helped me pass Quantum Chemistry, the boy who made me listen to Arctic Monkeys for the first time; I didn’t remember all their names but I knew them because they were all part of me in one way or another. And we took rooms in a filthy motel halfway between the college and the beach and I felt like I was in the insides or a burrito, warm and safe and filthy and whole.

I’d spent years watching these people. Borrowing food, notes, sometimes smiles. I don’t think we knew it then, but we grew up together. In humor, in ambition, in purpose, in vocabulary. We fed off each other’s energy and grew and if anyone, and I mean anyone, had been missing from the equation we’d all be a tad bit different. They’re all people I’ll never stop looking for in a crowded place. I watched them through the evening, talking to each other about their lives then and now.

He told her about his new music venture and how he was so excited to work at the studio, and when she whined about being a corporate slave and how much she hated it, he hugged her tight and said it was all going to be okay. I’d seen that hug before. I’d seen it three years back, when he’d missed a passing grade in a subject that she’d aced. She’d hugged him tight and told him it was all going to be okay.

I think that’s what college was. It was a lot of everyone telling everyone that it’s all going to be okay.

The drunken texts one received and the words one scribbled on the last pages of notebooks were really all the love and knowledge one needed to get through.
And now I hope we all make it in this big bad world, away from each other. I hope one day we all have our own Wiki pages and 7 am showers and reasonable relationship statuses. And yet, some part of me hopes we’re not all people who define ‘making it’ as having our own Wiki pages and 7 am showers and reasonable relationship statuses.
I hope we’re all people who still define ‘making it’ as belting that entire pizza.
Try hard and believe in yourself.

“Where is your native?”

I think I’ll miss the weather the most.    

I did make some friends in this city, of course I did. All kinds of randos. Friends who made me fluffy little omeletts when I was unwell, or just because it was a Sunday morning, friends who’d discuss the intricacies of life and love with me as they fixed their hair in the mirror, friends who’d somehow always have an appetite for a fourth Jagerbomb…

And yet, I think I’ll miss the weather the most.

When it rains in Bangalore, the roads begin to sparkle. Everything suddenly goes HD. And sometimes, if you’re lucky to be in a place where you can look far off enough into the sky, you can see a rainbow. It lies there, inconspicuous, so aware of its beauty it’s almost trying to hide. You aren’t looking for it, but your eyes fall on it. And you feel this momentary surge of happiness within you before you forget about it and get on with your busy busy life.

So often we chance upon people in the same way.

I’ve grown to love the city. Its canopied roads and little cafés, its coconut water and filter coffee. People want to get to know you, here more than anywhere I’ve ever been. And at nightclubs there’s the added challenge of getting to know someone before the 11pm deadline, almost as if mum’s set a curfew just so you only build the bridges you’re destined to.

I love a city that appreciates art. There’s graffiti on the walls that line busy roads and Rangoli outside the courtyards of little white houses and phone numbers scribbled behind bus seats with descriptive diagrams of what they deliver, but how many of us actually stop to look? Art can be a lot to look at. There are love notes and doodles forgotten; only seen by those willing to look, singing a song heard by those willing to hear, the raindrops setting the tempo in the background more often than not, bringing a smile to my face almost as if they deliver blessings when they fall on my skin.

 We all start as strangers. But everyone knows strangers have the best candy.

 So I ventured out, the aspiring adult that I was, living through the people I met and the sights I saw, getting attached to everything that had a beating heart and a story to tell, oblivious to the permanence of the bonds I forged and  ignorant to the fact that you can’t make homes out of human beings.

When a person leaves his city to travel, he has experiences that change him to the very core, and so when he returns he doesn’t fit in, because he’s grown with those experiences. He’s part of a different puzzle now. “Where is your native?” people seem to want to know all the time. I don’t know. I don’t know if it matters.

It’s not the puzzle I’m a part of, this is.

 We find our happy in strange random things; oddly enough, and for reasons lost in time, karaoke was my strange random thing, even if it involved a raging dislike for girls who can wear crop tops and leggings and sit with their legs crossed on barstools.

Like seriously, what is up with that? How do your intestines and stuff fit inside that?

 Anyway, there’s something about people singing at the top of their voices, grinning as they fumble to rap fast enough, dancing and swaying to fill the gaps in lyrics; freestyling their own versions of classics we all know because life’s too short to be predictable, and at the end of the day, just like these mashed up songs, we’re all merged into each other’s consciousness. And even as I leave I know there’s a little bit of something you in everything me.

 That’s why I think I’ll miss the weather the most. It’s the only thing I’m leaving without.