Tag Archives: memories

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.

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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.

Something to Forget Me By

Why was it that during the first ice-breaker in college, when the whole class had to go stand up and say their name and where they were from, I got so incredibly nervous? Like, I know my name, I know where I’m from; this shouldn’t be a problem.

Maybe it’s the pressure of first impressions that society’s created on us now terrified mortals. That’s probably why my best friends on campus include a girl I hated for the whole of my first semester just because she gave me the heebie jeebies and a boy with whom my first interaction included him running after a mini-football on the Bogmalo Beach shouting “Hey! Easy! Mommy told me not to get my ball wet!”

There was a time I’d complain about the freeze-dried fruit distribution in my Gelato. Now the post Sunday lunch Mother Dairy butterscotch ice cream makes me feel sexy. Like I’m eating a soft spoonful of an affair. With crunchies.

But time moves on and so does life and the fat get thin and the thin get fat and group dynamics change and re-change because nobody really likes fat people, and at the end of four years you’re left wondering how you ever got along without these people who are now more family than family itself.

And yet, forever’s not what it used to be.

He’ll finally get out there and become a standup comedian, flying for a show to Russia, flying business class, in fact, because that’s just how he rolls now. She’ll probably be the CEO of some company that you always thought was a bank’s name.
And you’ll read about them in the papers and wonder if you should call. But instead you’ll just post something on their Facebook wall and get on with your life. Damn shame.

And yet, they’ll be a part of you. In their own small way. Even the random people you interact with everyday. You might not remember their name or face ten years from now. But you’ll remember them as the person who introduced you to your now favorite music, or the guy who helped you pass that godforsaken subject, or the girl who saw you crying and said “If someone breaks your heart, just punch them in the face. Seriously just punch them in the face and go get some ice cream”.  Even if she was just quoting Wiz Khalifa.

And suddenly, after your college years, you’re not the same person anymore. You like sleeping because it’s like being dead, only without the commitment. You aren’t ‘weirded out’ by alcoholics and junkies because you realize they’re just humans with a different passion than yours. And you realize fat people are the nicest of them all.

In French, you don’t really say “I miss you”. You say “tu me manques” which, I am told, is closer to “you are missing from me”. I love that. It’s beautiful, really. Like you’re a part of me that I’m currently functioning without. I’ll miss everyone I leave behind. And when I do, I hope there’s a part of me in them. Something I left behind. Something to forget me by.

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.

Sepia-toned Reflections

“It’s somewhere I can taste the salty sea
There’s a kite blowing out of control on the breeze
I wonder what’s gonna happen to you
You wonder what has happened to me”

The voice inside speaks up. No way, you will not snooze the alarm clock again. Out of bed. Now.

NOW!

No, wait, he looked rather cute in that scene of my dream. Two quick minutes. Two, I promise.

And then she cosies up once again, with her many pink pillows and the blanket that looks like it OD-ed on fluff, and gets back to her wool-gather.
That’s the best part about dreaming – you rule the world, all its physics and geography and background music.

It’s hot, really really hot. And still. No wind. Every leaf, every feather, lifeless.

“But I want to learn how to fly it!” she squeals, throwing her kite up in the air and running,  praying this time it will stay up, till it crash lands into the grass for the forty second time that morning.

His voice is like it always it, strong, masculine, and effortlessly confident.

“There, there”. He runs, picks up the kite, and stares at it. She’d finally torn it. After all the attacks, the pink background paper of the kite he’d picked for her finally gave way to the outline of the heart pasted on it.

“Want to go to the football field?  There are a lot of people flying kites there.”

“No, you teach me here first”

She’d never make a fool of herself in front of the world. He, however, was her personal space. He was allowed to watch her kooky moments. He might have even loved her for them.
She’d never know.

She didn’t realise when it happened. One moment, she was counting the colours in his eyes as he held her hand, the next, she was holding the kite, flying it, for real, as he held her spool and cheered her on. It might have been a bird in the sky, or a plane.

Too many people, kite flying was a sport for them. She tugs hard to save her kite from being cut.

Ouuuuuch! Damn that glass thread!

But they cut it, her kite, and she watches it as it flies higher up into the sky, getting smaller by the second.

Sigh.
He comes and gives her a bear hug. She didn’t lose her kite, after all, because nobody caught it once it had been cut. Were those the rules?

It’s somewhere I can taste the salty sea
There’s a kite blowing out of control on the breeze
I wonder what’s gonna happen to you
You wonder what has happened to me

She couldn’t see it anymore, but the thought of it flying high, far far away, coupled with the bear hug, was brilliant. He looked at her in his arms.

Click.

And like a sepia toned love note, that image will stay with her forever.

“Shall we?” he says, and smiles his gorgeous smile.

She looks at the boy, whose voice is the soundtrack of her life.

This wasn’t a dream. But it may as well have been one.  Reality wasn’t allowed to be so beautiful.