The only bright spot..

..in the shitty, shitty week it has been, is the arrival of the new phone. When I got it, the husband was convinced I’d blog about it. And I gallantly exclaimed that I have stopped blogging about every minor occurrence in my life, most of all the new phone. I suspect the phone was listening. And took this rather personally. Because he then proceeded to wow me with everything from the way he works to the things he can do and the surprises he had tucked away behind each swipe and scroll.

The last time I bought myself an Apple product, I fell in love. It’s happening again, and I can’t stop myself.

After much pining, we are together now, the object of my desire and I. My wallet has a hole burned right through it, but my heart is filled with such love right now its not funny. Clearly, this is one expensive affair.

In other news it rained last night and the clouds were gorgeous this morning. Here’s a picture I snapped right outside our home. And yes, its taken off the new phone..

All those who said money can’t buy happiness, you’ve got to try this.

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Of Sundays spent in limbo

It’s been an odd kind of Sunday. The kind you want to spend staying indoors not only because its oppressively hot outside, and because you spent your Saturday in a rather inane way and are left feeling quite devoid of that weekend bliss.

Between hopping into work for a while, having a lazy long and overfilling lunch and then getting into a mother of a power cut, which we escaped by watching the most mindless Hindi movie in recent times, my Saturday melted away before I knew it. So I was determined to make up for it by staying in and being with myself today. But the irony is the Sunday panned out to be quite limbo-like. Not really doing anything, yet not really relaxing.

So I watched Pirates of the Silicon Valley. And got all emphatic about my Apple-love. The Macbook has been a faithful friend for over six months now. And on its way to my life is a brand new iPhone. While I try and summon up some passion for the work I do for Microsoft, I think its clear where my heart really lies. In the apple of my eye.

I cooked! Every weekend I align my domestic aura by trying to overindulge in everything homey. In the hope that it will set the pace for the rest of the week and I will quickly drift  into the rhythm of cooking 2 meals a day and not resort to that cheap, oily, spicy Triple Schezwan. Since Saturday was wasted, today I decided to make up.

I cat napped. Napped like a cat. In and out, again and again. And boy was it good. I think I have collected a considerable sleep-debt which needs to be sorted in coming weeks.

I went for a stroll past sundown. It was good to clear my head out, just drift and wander out all alone. The past two weeks have been crazier than some of my busiest days in Bangalore. I’m yearning for some quiet time. Just work, home and normal life. I need to take a break from socializing every evening, eating out so much and just get back to myself a little. And as usual I step into the new week, fully intending to do just that.

I indulged in some Photoshopping and hot off my experiments is this newly pressed wallpaper. You likey? I thought it was about time I got rid of the dotted condom look, which I never really liked, but never really got down to changing. So when I realized all of a sudden that its going to be five whole months since I actually moved WordPress-wards, I thought a fresh new look was in order.

To close my Sunday in perfectly bliss was the second episode of The Dewarists. A brand new attempt at making new music. I can’t say the quality of the music is mind-blowing or anything. But I’m just happy to see some freshness. Some real collaboration. Some real stories. And one tastefully made music show. The folks down at Babble Fish are doing something right. Today, they featured the lovely, superbly talented Zeb and Haniya, who I absolutely love from my days of ODing on Coke Studio. You really should catch the episode, if you didn’t already. In collaboration with Swanand Kirkire and Shantanu Moitra, they stirred up this playful and simple melody, performed at one of Mumbai’s oldest cinema halls.

If you haven’t heard the beauty that is Zeb and Haniya, here’s a sample. Something about the unblemished vocals just hits the right spot. Zeb has a certain quality of earnestness in her voice, what they call pukaar in Hindustani music. Her eyes are soulful and with the first word she utters, she gets under the skin of the melody. It’s what makes even the simplest of compositions touch you in a way even the fanciest, most embellished pieces cant. And I sense yet another trip of playing this track on repeat coming my way.

And just like that another weekend has rolled by. As I turn out the lights and draw the curtains, I really hope the peace that has just come over me takes me through the week. I hope it is less chaotic, less demanding and just plain blissful.

Do no evil

Having OCD is a trap. And in my case, its a self-made trap. If you’re like me, obsessing over very specific, seemingly unnecessary details in your immediate environment, and getting compulsive about doing it all yourself, then things do begin to take on the color of a disorder, bordering on the serious kinds.

I like having things in order. Which is to say, things must be dust free, in neat rows, at right angles, just the way they should be. Our shoes and slippers must be in a straight line, the dining table must be clutter-free, the centre table must be aligned with edges running parallel to the mattresses on one side and the 2-seater on the other, the kitchen counter must be crumb-free, the drip tray by the sink cleared out as soon as the dishes are reasonably dry, the stove spotless and the shelves dust-free. The list goes on. Even in my sparsely furnished home, I manage to find enough to obsess over. And sometimes it means I spend all weekend ensuring that things are up to the mark. By my standards.

Its all great to have high standards of order and cleanliness. But when you’re not the only one in your home anymore, it begins to be a pain in the gluteus maxims. Literally and figuratively. Because it gets insanely exhausting just keeping up with yourself. My maid comes in, does her thing and leaves. And I sit and spend an additional 4 hours cleaning up after her. Don’t ask what or why. Ask the husband, and he’ll tell you I’m off my rocker. Almost every Saturday I take virtually my entire kitchen apart, clean it up and put everything back in order. Neatly aligning rows of boxes, making mugs point the same direction, and other such nonsensical things. I obsess over how the laundry ought to be, going through a pre-decided set of actions. Bring laundry bag to washing machine, sort clothes into 2 piles, unfold sleeves, check pockets, load machine, fill in soap, connect plug, set dials, push start.

I could go on but this you get the idea. I’m obsessive, and this is just the slightly sane side of things. Life gets dicey when I find that when I wake up at 2 am for a drink of water, trudge up to the fridge peering through slit eyes, I grab a few sips of water, and unfortunately catch a glimpse of the loaf of bread that is on the bottom shelf, as opposed to the side of the top shelf, I soon find myself kneeling down, forcing my eyes open, sorting the fridge out, making space on the top shelf by rearranging things in order of size and then feel like all is well in the universe again. After all, balance in the universe depends on the insides of my fridge, doesn’t it?

So you get my drift. The problem with suffering from OCD is that you dig yourself into a hole that you can’t get out of. You get so deep you’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t. You set high standards and you wish everyone around you would match them. When they try and help and pitch in, you follow them undoing and redoing whatever they do. You tend not to trust anyone to do as good a job as you would yourself. So you do the worst thing you possibly can: you supervise. You hover over shoulders, crane your neck to get a quick look, you micromanage, you clean and over clean, you sort, you dust, you arrange. You spend your weekend housework-ing and then wonder why you never have any time to chill. You fill your day with all the cleaning you cant otherwise do, constantly finding something to tidy up. And what is does eventually is leaves you feeling very, very exhausted.

So while I am anal about the way I keep my home, I have over the months grown to hate housework, simply because I have turned it into a tiring bloody job even for myself. So to make amends, I have decided that I seriously need to let go and chill out. And get a life. This past Saturday was a small beginning. I mean, there’s more to Saturdays than feeling blissed that the kitchen counter is spotless. Wish me luck, this is going to be as hard for me as it is for an alcoholic going into rehab. And until I make serious progress and change my behavior, this is going to be my mantra. Repeat after me:

Where nostalgia meets regret

Nasty nostalgia niggling through languid nights. And I slowly turn nocturnal. This morning I woke up, but inside I was still asleep. You know you’ve slept badly when you pull through the night half-asleep-half-awake with a faint memory and a song playing on in loop in a dream-like state. You can never be sure if dream triggered the thought or vice versa.

Steely Dan ruled my weekend. Out and out took over everything I was doing and feeling. But that was not all. Perhaps if it was just about the sheer joy of rediscovering this music again, it wouldn’t have been so bittersweet. But the damn thing brought back a surge of memories, and with it regret and disappointment too. Memories of sharing musical highs, discovering uncannily similar tastes, that queer attention to minute detail and clarity in sound, grooving to the extra loud music in the car, at Take 5, at Windsor Pub.

And it took me back to where my love for Steely Dan started. At Bangalore’s cozy roof top night club — Hint. May, 2007 (I think). It was my birthday and PJ gifted me my first Steely Dan CD. Everything Must Go, it was called. Steely Dan was mystery man until then, and PJ’s logic for giving me the CD was simple: “I like sharing with people things that I want to buy for myself”. And that’s the thing about PJ. Sharing comes just so easily.

But Steely Dan says, everything must go. And go it did. Yet again. Except this time around I am completely clueless why and how. I usually have an inkling, a hunch. Call it my right-brained intuition, or call it the roots of a deep friendship, a relationship that goes beyond what average chums have — I always knew when something was up. Something grave enough to bring a distance between us. I didn’t always know exactly what, but I had a feeling when something went wrong. Funnily enough, its probably my womanly intuition too, that usually made me make a move. Break the silence. Encourage a chat. Listen. Sure, I’d be angry. We’d argue, spew vile words at each other. But always knowing this only ends one way: making up.

Somehow, I don’t have that confidence anymore. Perhaps being left in the dark this time around has upset me more that I realised. And it only came to me this weekend, as Steely Dan sang and played on and on and on. Like a bittersweet reminder of the times like they used to be.

So much is lost when people stop talking. Its easy to stop. Put and end. What’s really hard to do is to begin again. Somehow I’ve been accustomed to making the first move, this time I was truly blind sighted by the randomness. A mood swing I thought at first. And when the silence only grew thicker, I wondered what I might have done wrong, only to realise there was nothing I could have possibly said/done that couldn’t be talked out. Outwardly though I haven’t even realised myself how angry I actually was. It’s been lying inside me. Festering, like a swamp. A weekend of overdosing on Steely Dan, and I’m all ready to bubble over. Because with the memories came the anger, bursting out. And almost as a happy reaction, it melted away just as quickly as it lunged out. That’s the power of musical associations. For me at least. It brings the past back in a flash, puts things in perspective and sets the course for things to come. I’ve said this before, and I’m going to say it again: my connections with music are sometimes so strong they can make me weak, debilitate me, crush my ego and make me wilt away in a pool of sorrow. Or in this case, regret. Wistful regret.

What good is a relationship, if neither side respects it enough to fix it? Sure, everything must go. But like this? Without reason? Without a second (okay, ninth?) glance back?

Time, its on my side

Its kind of fitting to be listening to this song on a wet, squelchy, moody day like today. I’m lying in a bundle in my bean bag, and I don’t want to move. I just want to listen to this song. On repeat. It’s so trippy, wind-y and just feels right. The quick trip back home was like a teaser, and all I can think about is going home. I feel a bit like a homesick alien.

I think, that of all the things we take for granted, time is probably the most critical. Because it ticks on silently, taking away something that we have so much of, yet can never be replenished. It passes on silently, making the days, weeks, months and years trickle away before we realise. Only to sit up and notice when we have those ever familiar reality checks.

Like when fb throws up photo memories of a time long gone by.

Like when I visited home after a long time and realised just how long its been.

Like when another birthday, anniversary and date to remember rolls along.

Like when I meet teenagers and 20-somethings and realise how different I was at the age.

Like when I struggle to finish my workout and realise that my stamina is not what it was even 2 years ago.

Like when I hear my sister joke about how “old” my parents are getting.

Like when I rummage through my hard disk and find images and music of a different time and I realise how far I’ve come.

And so much more…

We’re always giving up on time, letting it go so easily, wasting it away doing many things that don’t really add up in the end. When we’re too busy making plans for the future, earning money and securing a better tomorrow, and life tends to just happen on the side. This week I had several reality checks, and I think its time to stop sitting and letting time pass me by. Its time to do things.

Slice of life

How much or how little I like/love/am indifferent to a movie, depends wholly on how much of it stays with me. And by it I mean that something that tends to linger. Something that sticks, finding a deep dark corner in the recesses of your mind, resonating every now and then, and often coming back at the most unexpected time, making you chuckle, laugh, feel moved, stagger, feel touched, give you goose bumps. And the number of those moments that I take back, are usually what decides if I have enjoyed a movie.

So I have a confession to make. The past few days there’s something that I’ve gone back to over and over. On blogs I frequent, in youtube videos I hunt for, in desperate google searches for translations…

I’m afraid that in my haste to diss ZNMD, for its dull and lukewarm attempt to send out a message about living life to the fullest, I might have just forgotten to mention the one thing that actually seems to have stayed with me. Perhaps the only bright spark in the movie, lines that made me smile, go wow, and walk out only to come back and look for them online. In those lines I found a lot that resonated with what I’m feeling these days. In those lines, I found respect. For putting in such simple words, feelings that usually dodge and escape you before you can make sense of them.

I’m talking about the poetry. Some of it gave me goose bumps, some left me a little lost for words. At one point, I had a lump in my throat. And while some call it cliché, something about the simple truths penned in those lines got to me, making me relive parts of these lines everyday, in some form or the other.

To say I felt inspired to live life again, would be an exaggeration. Because that’s where the movie failed. Where the poetry was spot on and powerful, the plot, dialogues and acting let it down. The lines were like an afterthought, thrown in to beef up an otherwise unsubstantial, lazy plot and story.

So yes, I didn’t enjoy the movie as a whole. But I completely loved and re-loved the poetry. Thank you Javed Akhtar and Farhan Akhtar, for giving the film its single redeeming factor, and touching me ever so gently. Nudging me to look within, so much so, that I decided to give what I think is the best poem of the lot, a translation.

There is this feeling, toying within
Unheard, only seen in silent glances.
Sometimes you, sometimes from me,
begs for words, to wrap itself, embrace my voice, and be heard.
But, it is just a feeling.
A lingering fragrance, without a voice
And we both know, it’s no secret,
but a strange mystery, this.

How many of you can claim to never have felt this way?

The rest of the it too, seemed to just put in words what I feel about life. About freedom, happiness, choosing what one wants to make of life, living it to the very best, doing what feels right in the moment, and always following your heart. The words just came together so beautifully, that I couldn’t help but feel like I walked straight into a breath of fresh air.

I think the simple honest truth is what really hit home, crept beneath my skin and clung on tight. This one still gives me goose flesh, because the feeling it describes is still so fresh in my mind. I shut my eyes and I can feel it, just like I have so many times before.

Espana calling

When I was just 19, a freaky turn of events and some really good luck brought a free ticket to and back from Europe, my way. The conditions included baby sitting a very easy-to-manage, adorable, supremely-intelligent 6 year old back from Greece, but as long as I was going to Europe, I didnt really mind.

That the French consulate screwed me over and gave me a 15 day visa (that I forgot to check before I entered the EU and proceeded to stay on for 6 weeks), causing me to cut my visit short and rush back, hasnt changed the fact that Europe made a serious impression on me. An impression so long lasting, that it has since been on my must-go-back-again list ever since. That my passport bears a mark of having overstayed in Europe and being liable to pay a fine of 600+ Euros when I next enter, isnt the only reason I havent gone back.

Anyhoo, several times over in life, mostly set-off by watching movies set in Europe, these pangs of wanting to travel abroad — specifically to Europe — return with gusto. Often making me melancholic and contemplative, taking me off on a trail of memories of my last visit. I was 19. I was naive. I was alone. So while I did have a blast, what I mostly did was buy myself a metro pass, a  map, and walk around seeing places, stopping by at roadside cafes to eat/drink, soaking up as much as my overloaded senses could take it all. I didnt really do everything I wanted to do. I didnt roam around past 10 pm. I didnt go out to fancy places. I didnt do anything adventurous. I basically didnt do anything that demanded a higher level of adventure and bravado. Because at 19, alone in a land where nobody speaks your language or willingly helps you (unless you’re lucky), I just didnt feel very brave enough. Let’s face it, there are some things in life that you need to have company to really enjoy. Europe is one of them.

Also, I only visited Paris (the only place where I felt it was just wrong to go alone), Brussels (too pretty for just my eyes to take), Bruge (its like the Venice of the North), Antwerp, Amsterdam and Greece (I just didnt get enough of it). There is still so much left to see. Featuring high on my current wishlist are Turkey, Italy and Spain. Also, I want to go back to eat the gelato, the desserts, the spanish omlettes, the croissants, the waffles, the roast duck, the cheese, the wine. So yes, a second trip is in order.

And last week when I watched that godawful movie: Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara, I couldnt help but think that the only good thing that came out of the movie was my craving to travel in Europe. And this has happened many times before. Remember Eat, Pray, Love; Julie and Julia; The Bourne Identity; and Vicky, Cristina, Barcelona (which incidentally, I watched to quickly appease my sudden and overwhelming need for Spain, and to correct my ZNMD experience) ?

So the dream to go back lingers on. This song has a dreamy, take-me-away-(to-Spain-please) feeling about it. While Hrithik Roshan managed to fully annoy the crap out of me, and Katrina Kaif made me want to gag her with a pair of socks just so I wouldnt have to hear her speak in Hindi, and while I listened in complete awe as Farhan Akhtar recited Javed Akhtar’s poetry, and while I wondered why people waste so much time and money making such flat, uninteresting, predictable movies, this song stuck in my head. The movie absolutely did no justice to the beauty that is Spain, but it sure as hell made me want to travel. To Europe.

When the sister was here recently, I began reminiscing about my trip to Paris. And about how, as an artist, she must visit the city. And soon. So very spontaneously, we made a pact. If by the time I’m 30 she and I havent had a chance/opportunity to visit Europe separately, we must make a trip together.

I dont know how seriously she took it, but Im dead serious. Iv realised that this is the time to live the dreams and make them happen. My travel wishlist is only growing and Im only getting older. Its about time I started knocking off a few places, one holiday at a time. Expensive, seemingly unnecessary or frivolous — I dont buy that logic. I have loved to travel for all my life, and I have just not had enough of it in the last 3-4 years of my life. Travel invigorates me. It adds to my personality. It makes me who I am.

So while I carve out a perfect European trip dream in my head, here’s another one from another must-see movie set in Spain. And if you haven’t seen this movie as yet, for the love of god, please do. If Spain is not your thing, at least watch it for all the hot people it has. In the mean time, let me interest you with some more bait to my Spanish dream this perfect Sunday morning.

Since this is just the kind of song one must listen to on a cloudy Sunday morning, still in PJs, while making eggs on toast for breakfast, Im going to do just that. And you can go on and send some positive luck and vibes my way. Because I really want to fly away sometime soon. And when I do. Spain it will be.

Adios.

Monday mood music

2 pretty women. 1 way hotter than the other. I’ll let you guess which one :)

1 superlatively more talented and way underrated, than the other, averagely talented and so supremely overrated. I’ll let you guess which one :)

1 voice that gets beneath your skin and lingers around ever so pleasantly. No prizes for guessing this one.

1 stringed instrument that seems to complement every mood, any moment, every season, any time.

I’m feeling slow and easy tonight, winding down and trying not to think about the week that will begin tomorrow. I hope this song creeps up on you, like it has on me. On a slow and wasted Monday evening, uplifting you when everything feels melancholy and sullen.

I think if I had a lifetime supply of good music and good food, I wouldnt really need much else.

 

Meet Thursday, the new Friday

Its happened consistently for 4 weeks now. The week being the 5th. The days are whizzing by faster than I can keep track, and every Thursday I find myself in a bubble that can only best be described as the Friday Feeling.

Come Thursday, and I get those pangs of wanting to sleep in, wishing the week would miraculously end one day short, leaving work on the dot of 6, rushing home to tend to all the chores I have put away every day of the week.

I begin to mentally switch off.

Unable to focus and give anything my all, I start making mental plans for the weekend, and get altogether lost in what its going to be like. Unless the task at hand involves ludicrous amounts of excitement and induces incomparable enjoyment, I’m like a monkey with ADD. Restless, fidgety, easily distracted, trying so hard to keep it together and get on with the day’s agenda.

And then you have a day like today. The rain hasn’t stopped in what feels like forever. Its glorious outside. And almost serendipitously, this track comes on:

Perfectly timed + a perfectly moving voice that wanders around effortlessly + rain-inducing notes + the sarangi = instant goosebumps. I declare it the end of the day, surrendering myself to iTunes and the repeat button. That’s it folks, this one had me. It had me good and sent me straight into music heaven. I’m never coming back, by the way. I doubt I can recover form something I keep subjecting myself to. Its all I’ve listened to since.

So it’s true, Thursday is the new Friday. And I wonder what it means. Has my tolerance for the week gone down a notch or two? Have I become so easily distracted and detached that I can’t even get through 5 days without feeling like I desperately need the weekend? Perhaps a change is in order. Either I straighten up my ways and suck it up for just 5 days a week, or I do something about it and liven up things for myself.

Now which one is it going to be?

PS: This was half-written in a fit of inspiration yesterday, but edited and posted today. Hence the lag. Kindly adjust maadi.

My very own American Beauty moment

Indoors, its too gloomy to work.

Outdoors, its too pretty to work.

Talk about a catch-22.

Im sitting outside, ostensibly working. Because the room gets unbelievably gloomy and the air clogs up, stifling me and making it impossible to work. Leave alone, feel creative. So I shift base, take myself and my laptop downstairs. And pretty soon the rain comes down. In waves of lacy downpour, shimmering as it reaches the ground. Its too too pretty to ignore. Almost too pretty to take.

Such beauty. Makes it impossible to focus on the task at hand.

Here’s a new productivity killer for you. Too much beauty in the world.

 

And for those of you who have absolutely no idea why this post is titled what it is, and why Im complaining about the beauty around me, here’s one of my most favourite scenes from one of my all time favourite movies:

Sapped

>Work has officially drained me of all my writing capabilities this week, and the last. I feel like I just cant make the words come out and make sense any more. So Im going to leave it to pictures.

VC getting ready to settle under the umbrella, with a book

Niyu contemplating a swim, in stormy seas. The monsoons are approaching and the sea has gotten so weird.

VC and his new fav thing to do

Priya came to town!

Posers!

Posers, sick of posing!

And then the board-games began! Uno, pictionary, whisky and wine.

And the next day, as cloudy skies gathered above us, we roamed around Panjim and Old Goa, shooting random examples of beautiful Goanness on a Sunday afternoon.

2 days, 2 movies

>Dum maaro dum:
When will hindi movie makers learn the concept of “proportion” (of drama to length of movie), when will they learn taste and style? What could have been an entertaining, high tension, even if BADLY written movie, turned out to be an extra elongated, stretched beyond belief, badly written movie. Felt a bit like a BAD hindi movie inspired by The Departed. The verdict: totally missable

Rio:

Made me want to go to RIO! Nuff said. The verdict: Must watch

and another

>

Today, sitting on the beach at 8 am, painting away, I had an emotional moment with myself. Suddenly, I felt overwhelmed about where I was. The reality of it hit me all over again. In Goa. Living 5 minutes from such beauty. Such peace. And the ability to take off and do things that I havent in years.

Thank you, universe.

finding lost things

>Theres been a strong urge to go back to watercolor painting. Iv never “learnt” it, just always experimented my way around and discovered new things quite by accident. I dont have technique and I dont have style. I just know colour. And I know water. And off we go.

This has been a long time coming. So this morning Udaya, VC and I went to the Cidade beach. And though my perspective is totally off as is my sense of colour and texture, Im happy with the start to the weekend :)

How happy came to me

Step 1: Toast 2 slices of bread. Golden. Crispy. Just right.
Step 2: Slather peanut butter on one.
Step 3: Slather jam on the other.

Step 4: Look at it longingly as the peanut butter melts slightly and your salivary glands begin to work overtime.

Step 5: Put them together to the peanut butter hugs the jam. Tight. (Sula, this was for you :))

Step 6: Bite.

Step 6: Enjoy the crunch of the toast with the gooey creaminess within it.

That’s what I call Sunday morning happiness.