Let it go…

…even though the cold bothers me terribly.

Bad joke, moving on.

2017 comes to an end as well. With it the realisation that I’ve been out of school for a decade now, but somehow, I don’t seem to have learnt much since. Meh.

So, I do these year-end notes fairly often, where I do a round-up of everything I have learned/been forced to learn that year, and then basically have it as a testimony of all the growing up I did. But this year, I am shaking things up a bit. Why? Because I can.

Here goes nothing…

One of the toughest parts about growing up that everyone warns you about, yet you never believe it (or think it won’t happen to you) is letting go. Letting go of dreams, of beliefs, of your values, your unshakeable faith that you’ll be the exception to the rule. Just about everything.

***

This past year, for the first time in a long while, I didn’t read as many books as I planned to. Well, boo-hoo you might say; but that’s actually a very big departure for me. And frankly, I didn’t care too much about it. And that’s what bothers me the most. I read one series in its entirety this year, and probably 40 more books by themselves. While that does seem a lot, my average for the last 3 years is 56 books. In the previous years, by September, I’d be making up a list of everything I read and then flaunt it in everyone’s faces. This year, I couldn’t care less.

***

My resolution for this year was to upskill – learn to ride a bicycle, learn to drive a car, learn to swim, and learn to bake. Guess how many I learnt? None. And that’s not due to lack of trying, it’s plain and simple not having the will/motivation to do so. Yet all of my resolutions from the last few years? All perfectly done.

***

We moved houses this year. Our childhood home of over 23 years was sold-off and we upgraded to a new and improved bigger house. Thankfully, I wasn’t around for the day of the switch. It was extremely overwhelming to not see the same walls the first weekend  back home after the move. But I guess, we just have to make new memories now. I’ll miss the walls that Nishu and I wrote on though, afterall, they bore testimony to our growing years and changing handwriting. 😛

However, all was not lost this year. This year (technically from the last quarter of 2016) I moved out and lived with a flatmate. It was a struggle – financially and emotionally. Yet, when the lease ended two weeks back, it was very difficult to let go of the house. That house, and my flatmate were good to me. In fact, when the going got tough, having my own space got me through a lot of shit that would’ve otherwise been one more issue left to be dealt by a therapist.

That was my first try at adulting, and though I didn’t crack it perfectly (at a given time I can do only two out of cook, clean, and work), I do think that cooking breakfast for myself every single morning did bring about an unexpected change in my schedule. Letting go of my freedom, my space, and the massive weight of taking all my decisions was perhaps one of the tougher things I did this year. Not the toughest though.

***

Which brings me to the tougher change of this year. I quit sugar. While health has been a struggle, bringing in some form of physical activity into the mix helped me massively. Up until October, I stopped eating sugar after 5pm. And post Diwali, I basically quit on all artificial sugar in general. I do occasionally enjoy the one-off iced tea or a bite of a chocolate, but my sweet cravings are gone. Completely. I’ve lost weight and fit into old jeans (yay me!), I’ve been more active than I ever was, and most importantly, my blood sugar levels are optimal. Plus I found a diet that 100% works for me. So that’s a win.

***

My politics has changed and so have my opinions, and yet that’s not what has caused this change. For a while now, I’ve struggled with movie-watching. For all practical purposes, I think, I am done being a theatre-goer. I always found the experience of sitting in a dark room, and watching movies with a hall full of people in their own bubbles, very isolating. And I am nothing if not a peoples’ person. (It’s true!) In fact, one reason my movie watching experience was warped towards the ones seen on the big screen was because of the tumultuous emotions I went through in a dark space. After all, emotions have to be felt acutely in a movie-hall – that’s the point! Therefore, if you went movie watching with me, there was a 9/10 chance I’d cry. Sometimes bawl my eyes out, and at most times, simply be overcome by this vast sense of sadness. Thanks to Prime, Netflix, and probably Vodafone Play, I am just letting go of the immersive experience. Maybe someday, I find my way back.

***

The toughest thing I did this year though, was coming to the realisation that I have to have my back. Literally, and figuratively. Your family, friends, and mentors can do only so much for you. In the end, it’s your dream, your life, and so it’s not going to matter to anyone, as much as it will to you. It’s easier once time passes, and you get used to it, but when you’ve been dependent for a very long time and then are forced head first into reality – the sting takes a while getting used to. Everything that I’ve let go of this year, has forced me to learn something new about myself. And in turn challenged notions I had about myself. I thought I had thresholds, but they were pushed. And how! In the end, there’s no choice but to deal with whatever is dished at you. I wish there was a choice though… how I terribly miss having a choice.

***

Hopefully, I never have to let go of this blog.

***

PS. I got my first (and second) tattoo this year. Some very serious, long-term commitments have been made.

PPS. This is a rather drab to end the year on/begin a new one on. And so I must add something that I am truly thankful and privileged to have had this year – my travels. This one’s from Kinderdijk, arguably the best day this year was spent under these windmills.

Kinderdijk

Hope you have a happy new year!

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Red… For Hadia

SO we enter the abstract domain. Hadia, the inspiration behind this activity has herself asked me to write on “Red”.  This is what I feared. For me, anything that isn’t particular to the tee becomes nauseatingly close to psychoanalysis. And that scares me to pieces.

Yet, these are some disjointed thoughts that I associate the colour to.

*****

Mohabbatein was an all-round snooze fest. And as in every desert there blooms a cactus, yours truly took away a key message from the movie. Red Flower = Love, and Yellow Flower = Friendship. This of course was a part of the ever elusive Rose Day celebration in the cool college. And then the college I studied in had its own Rose Day celebrations. The only red roses I received that year were in a bouquet from a girl *cue confusion*. To her I remain eternally grateful for opening my eyes.

On a side note, I justified to myself that one offers red hibiscus to Ganesh idols because it’s “love”.

*****

I owned a red salwar kameez once which was just as gaudy as it was loud. It was bought for a school annual day event where the women were all “wives”. Of course the red was to be synonymous with married women. And that dress I wore whenever I felt like dressing up as Indian. I did the whole shebang with a bindi, and earrings etc. This phase went on till I realised the dress was suitable only in the context of “Ye Desh Hain Veer Jawaano Ka.” The only red I’ve worn since are a sporadic kurta here and there. Associations with choodha-wearing brides make me too conscious.

*****

I had an allergic reaction last year to who knows what. My face was swollen and was the shade of tomatoes. I ended up in the Emergency Room and then the ICU. But when I looked myself in the mirror, I realised this is what it must look like when an author says “he/she turned a brighter shade of red with embarrassment.” For me embarrassment is felt in the stomach, seldom shows up on my face.

*****

I remember my mother crying when I first started my period. I was 10, maybe 11. And she cried when she shared the “news” with her mother, then with her best friend and finally just cried every time she mentioned it to anyone. I didn’t get it then as to why she was crying if specks of blood showing up every month were normal, as she explained. A year later, the cramps began. Now, I cry every month yearning for the first decade of my life when I wasn’t bending double over my stomach.

*****

Marilyn Monroe looked like she had it all when she wore red lipstick. I think it was one of the late-night movies I sneaked a glance at oblivious to my parents. And then I noticed almost all of the “English film women” wore red lipsticks. At a discussion with peers (fellow preteens), I think one friend said it looked better on screen while another said it looked better on their skin tone than Indian actresses’. I bought my first red lipstick last year after a hijra woman I was interpreting for told me it would make my eyes stand out. Boy was she right.

*****

Priya Wal looked so damn cool in her red highlights in Remix, that Anwesha was my ultimate idol when I was in school. I wanted flaming red hair. Till I discovered naturally red hair. I realised I could never have those, or carry it off as confidently. The last time I was envious of the same was when I saw a senior colleague who carries off the red curls with better panache than Katrina Kaif in Fitoor. In my head, whenever I rebel, I have red highlights.

Day 5: Khalbali Hain Khalbali

Movie: Rang De Basanti (2006)
Song: Khalbali
Music Director: A.R.Rahman
Lyrics: Prasoon Joshi
Singers: A.R.Rahman, Mohammad Aslam and Nacim
Actors (in the song): Aamir Khan, Siddharth, Sharman Joshi, Soha Ali Khan, Alice Patten, Kunal Kapoor.

From one all-time favourite to the other, one Khan to the other, this song is one that I can never get tired of listening to on loop! In fact that is what I am doing now.

Khalbali literally means hullabaloo or a bustle causing things to off the track they were meant to. Rang De Basanti (RDB) is one movie I remember walking out of the theatre with goosebumps on my body and seething with the injustice of the ending. Obviously, I wasn’t the only one who felt that way considering the reaction of the Indian populace to the movie and the political catalyst it eventually became for social movements.

This song and others (not the only one on my list, I’m sure), suit the movie so seamlessly that you may remember the songs and not the picturisation at all. They’re a part of the narrative and set the mood. For me, Khalbali does that brilliantly.

Take for instance the opening sequence of Siddharth smoking in a pensive mood (it’s always a pleasure to watch him) and then funny dance moves of Aamir Khan that all of a sudden metamorphose into a swanky step with Alice Patten and then a kiss (I don’t even remember seeing this!). Then the movie’s main plot of the juxtaposing between the past and present that is merges with the dialogues in the background and the mesmerising voice of Rahman.

I have no idea honestly of what is the one thing that makes this song tick. The music, the singing, the lyrics by Joshi, the actors, the tone it sets for the events of the movie, a mix of hope, romance and youthful spirit set together in a old tank/lake on a lazy afternoon, diving into water, graffiti painting – it’s just one free flowing river of a poetry.

I don’t think I can pinpoint my favourite verses or a anything I don’t like about it. It uplifts and makes me smile at the same time on how much this song/movie appeals to me even today almost a decade later! Especially the casual manner in which they say “hum lapakte saaye hain, hum sulagne aaye hain, ghar bataake aaye hain…” Especially the last part that signifies that we’ve no care, and we’ve informed those at home that don’t worry, I will do this. Oooof!

Still to keep traditions up, my favourite lines:

(starts after the dialogue “hum unke jazbeh tod nahi sake”)

Ziddi ziddi ziddi ziddi jazbaah (or is it ye zubaan?),
ziddi ziddi ziddi armaan,
ziddi hain toofan,
ziddi hum bhi yahaan.

Honestly, listen and enjoy the music without the video first!

Watch the video here: