Tag Archives: smile

Your Sunday Morning Trip with Uber Pool

She bit her lip and fiddled with the ring on her finger, looking out the window at nothing in particular. It would have been wonderful if the city had given her an abyss to stare into, but it gave her concrete and windows and the occasional street vendor; really stealing the poetry from the moment.

She turned to me and mouthed something, so I unplugged my earphones and said “Yes?”

“Windows. Can we put the windows down?”

I gave her a nod and rolled down my window, as did she. The driver did too, almost too keenly, as the freshly generated fragrances of the suburbs started to pour into our cab. I could mostly just smell the rain, or whatever it smells like when it rains. I read somewhere that it’s the smell of some metabolic by-product of a kind of bacteria, emitted by wet soil. It’s the sort of trivia that hits you on an idle Wednesday afternoon when you’ve been scrolling down your phone for too long, your thumbs have gone to sleep, and then you realize you probably should get back to work.

Her phone suddenly began buzzing. She looked at it, sighed long and hard and then answered. The voice at the other end was shrill and loud, and started speaking almost immediately.

“Cut the gobi, clean the paalak and boil three eggs,” she responded dispassionately, once again fiddling with her ring. “I’ll be back in ten minutes.”

She had a melancholy look about her face when she caught my eye, and I couldn’t help but offer an understanding smile. Sometimes you just know when someone needs a smile. She sighed out a smile in return and said, “It’s just been a long day”

It was 8.37am, to be exact.

I looked out of the window on my side to see a vegetable vendor wrapping up his cart for the day. Behind him was his wife, who’d completed her cooking for the day in the three houses she worked in. His son would return from his night shift as an auto rickshaw driver soon, and they’d have their one meal of the day together. 8.37am could be a tiring time of day.

The cab took a swift turn off the main road and she reached inside her handbag and put on several red plastic bangles on both her hands. As she did, a piece of paper flew out of her bag and onto the seat. She looked at it, pursed her lips and crushed it and threw it out onto the road. Then she directed the cab to her destination, and almost braced herself a little before she stepped out of the cab.

Another pickup was scheduled just down the road, and a pleasant young boy in very crumpled clothing and worn out chappals got into the front seat of the cab. He leaned out the window to wave excitedly to someone on a higher floor of the building we were outside, then buckled up his seatbelt, turned around to look at me and wished me good morning. I nodded back with a half smile, the way one does to strangers. He whipped out his phone from the back pocket of his jeans and settled into the seat, visibly grinning as he read through an old conversation with the concentration millennials seem to reserve only for social media.

After a couple of minutes, he made a call. As he reclined his seat a little too far back, he said, “Yeah, no gym for me today. I’m exhausted.” He then plugged the hanging aux wire into his phone, put on a song I couldn’t recognize and settled back into the overly reclined seat with a smile on his face and a sigh of contentment.

And soon, I left the cab and walked back home, feeling not so alone in this new city, as half of Mumbai embarked upon their Sunday morning in yesterday’s clothes, without yesterday’s company.

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Mohali Skies

All know that the drop merges into the ocean, but few know that the ocean merges into the drop – Kabir

For the first time in almost 3 years, I sat in a classroom today.

It was hours past noon and my eyelids were fighting gravity, my hands periodically jotting down sentences I barely managed to hear to completion. From across the room, a friend would pass a sly smile in my direction every time the instructor made an attempt at a joke.

It wasn’t so different from sixth grade after all.

We were just studying scarier things from friendlier people, finding comfort in the midst of strangers, united by anxiety, fear, ambition, and luckily, a sense of humour.

Just till a few days back, the previous class was still here. Guiding, supporting, frightening us for the year to come. We learned forty five new names a day, twenty one new background profiles, maybe one odd fun fact. And then next day, we all had the same questions – What’s your name? How old are you? Where are you from? Gathering information on demographics, as if it mattered.

This is why we forget people – we don’t ask the real questions. Ask a person how old they were in their earliest memory. Ask a person what fuels their midnight lamp. Ask a person if hot chocolate and Ed Sheeran give them the same feeling. Sing a song with someone. Run a race against someone.

Then try forgetting them.

All of a sudden we’re walking on grass at four in the morning, fuelled by wine and the need to let out our ideas, pausing for breath now and then because we’re overwhelmed by the pace of this time machine we’ve volunteered to ride in. We let ourselves into each others minds, too much too soon, for better or for worse.

We learn. We had been waiting only to realise we shouldn’t have waited to create the things we wish existed. We learn that almost everyone is just skin, bones and questions, and that’s okay. We learn that we have more patience for others than we do for ourselves, and that’s not okay. We attempt to walk down a path with it’s jarringly new topography with someone who can’t adapt to our pace. We learn from what people say. We learn from what people don’t say.

“Averaging reduces variation,” I scribble onto my notebook as I look out the classroom window. The sun is setting in colours I can’t name. Blues merging into pinks, oranges emerging from yellows. It takes an uninterrupted sky to realise the horizon is infinite. Luckily, we all start as strangers.

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.

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.

Why I Write What I Write

I still vaguely remember the first love letter I wrote. I was a few days short of twelve. The letter smelled of strawberry and Chanel No. 5, because I couldn’t decide whether I should use my own perfume or my grandmother’s, so I used both. My hand-writing was punctuated with curly ends and heart-topped ‘i’s, the kind of precision only seventh-grade girls in love had patience for. Hidden behind the words were indents and scratches, ghosts of words that weren’t quite right, rewrites on top of rewrites.

I don’t think I ever gave it to the intended. I just wrote the letter to feel it. It’s been ten years and it’s still the same reason I write things.
I write things to really feel them.

I’ve met and befriended an immodest number of people in life, and I’ve realised that even though people are different, they’re all enigmatic. They all have a secret world inside of themselves. Each and every person, no matter how dull or boring on the outside, has a world inside that’s wonderful, crazy, wild and awe-inspiring. And if you give them a chance, they’ll show it to you. Not just one world, hundreds, sometimes thousands. And the quietest ones, the over thinkers, are more afraid of being understood than being misunderstood. That’s why I write.
I write to really understand people.

Sometimes we love and sometimes we hate and there’s so much that goes on in our minds as we eat, work, play and sleep and think we’re living life. But life is what happens in the interstices, like when we manage to smile through our tears at a darling child or when we drift away into a daydream or when our memory asks us about someone we once loved. There are days that question and days that answer.
I write to relive the interstices.

Feelings are visitors, they come and go. So are people. And although people of the past should be forgotten, I don’t thing feelings should. Every thing I ever let go of has claw marks on it; held back in the hope of not making it stay but extracting all feeling I could from it. I want to allow beauty to shatter me regularly; I want to feel life while I’m in it. Sometimes I write down things people say, because they resonate with me so much. Maybe our favorite quotations say more about us than about the people and stories we quote.
I write what should not be forgotten.

Our thoughts tend to sound better in songs we didn’t sing and books we didn’t write, and when I leave people speechless, or welled-up, or disturbed or a little dreamier, I feel like a part of their story. I feel closer to them and that’s why I share everything I feel.
I write so one day I won’t have to introduce myself.

Above everything else, it’s about leaving a mark that I existed. I was here. I was happy. I was sad. I was in love. I was afraid. I was hopeful. I had an idea and I had a purpose. That’s why I made works of art. – Felix Gonzalez-Torres

I want to fill my life with experiences, not things.
And in the end, I want to have stories to tell, not stuff to show.