Monday, October 29, 2012

Reach

Emotions can't be trusted
When they are constantly waging war
against reason
But when i let my thoughts astray
they grab you like a child's embrace
Seeking
Surrendering-
A world of tranquility you carry
on your shoulders
The way dawn basks largeness
of the ocean
Allowing borders to blur
and distances to mitigate
through words unspoken
and bodies unfelt.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

A broken tooth




Where do all the unfinished stories go? Do they pile up in a secret hole in the space, undisclosed to all its habitants. Could they evaporate into the atmosphere along with dust and sit somewhere in the infinite ozone. What if they are not as remote and unreachable as one would perceive them to be. What If they are used to exact revenge on people by being made to surface at inappropriate time, through inappropriate ways. Everybody loves a good scandal. In the age of digital township, the instances of information misuse have been reported to be alarmingly high. It would be incredibly foolish to go blind to their growing presence in our human world. Look around, unfinished stories, are born every day, mostly out of sheer negligence like babies born out of incompetent condoms. At the writer’s desk, jostling with literary bigwigs for space and recognition; in a director’s mind, playing themselves out in a loop until they lose steam and are shown the exit doors; In the lover’s eye, germing in the hollow silences of their distant conversation till the voice in their head intervenes and declares temporary truce.

Words once uttered cannot be discarded. They have lived their life, accomplished their purpose by fulfilling all mandates of successful communication and deserve to wear off from the cognition. But what about the unease inflicted upon oneself when one loses one’s thoughts tragically to another realm of time and space. These thoughts whirl around to form clusters of unfinished stories like packs of migrants forced to flee from their respective colonies inside our brains. They may not reach anywhere but what are the odds they wouldn’t reappear like pirates from a long lost ship. If proper stories, of proper length and proper breadth have the power to rankle with our brains, imagine what wreckage they are capable to cause us through the power of their deformity. Unfinished stories, uninterrupted by colons and periods, can become an unmanned river on a distant island preparing itself to flood havoc on civilisation.

What birthed them in the first place? Lack of concentration, self-censorship, procrastination. Some of the most illuminating words fall prey to the said factors. Several stories offer themselves as martyrs in pursuit of a better one. Others just lose sight of the writers because they were unimportant from the start, or so they it was believed. It’s a pity that their fate rests on a powerful and heart wrenching ending, in the absence of which they become victims of collective indifference. It is irrelevant who they feature as subjects or how intensely were they conceived. Their identity loses out of to their deficiency. Like a popular tape stuck inside the player, forced to leave the gathering full of enchanted listeners. On other occasions, they are forced to leap into nothingness because the situation demands so. Like death. Stories disappear mysteriously like its owners but are to re-emerge as memories with their obfuscated intentions. The lingering ache that our brain fails to recognise as memory is perhaps the distressing come back of unfinished stories- written in another realm of consciousness. Should the writer fear them as vestiges from his past or should he hunt them till they provide him a closure. The choice happens to be a privilege not enjoyed by everybody.

Mirabus woke up with a menacing headache. Her eyes were droopy from a disturbed sleep. Her mind was drained, writing an article about unfinished stories in her study last night. She watched the sun rays beaming on the lilac walls of her room with her half opened eyes. What a terrible terrible start. She reached out to the pockets of her nightgown as she desperately tried to recollect the dream in which she lost her back tooth. 

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

A life in letters



I have written three mails in my life. I am of course discounting the numerous replies to near and dear ones. When i say three, I mean three instances where I thought writing was the most satisfying way of getting rid of that uncontrollable itch of thoughts. One was to this guy I briefly dated in ACJ. I wrote to him so that I could provide him and mostly me a closure on how things went woozy between us and it was in the best interest of both of us to look for greener avenues in life. That one flowed smoothly since I has a lot of grudges against this dude and it was my best chance to vent out things that i couldn't tell him otherwise that his breath reeked of fish stink and he used to mumble in sleep each time he drank.

The second one was to my mom, again in ACJ. Funnily, this was a postal mail sent purely for selfish reasons. It was was my second month in ACJ and i saw those kids getting fat parcels from home with all sorts of goodies and affectation which made me feel horribly jealous and greedy but most importantly I wanted the warden to pass by my room and for once call out my name to hand me over "the parcel". Anyway, so I wrote to mom telling her about all the nice stuff that Chennai was all about which predictably ended in less than a page. So it was mostly about the assignments and grades and the false responsible talk. With my luck, all that mail returned me was a frantic, agitated phone call to which i remember replying "Yes, I am fine. I am not lonely... i am not going through racism here... No, I wouldn't entertain the idea of returning home without finishing the course".

The third one went to a friend in U.K. She and I have shared a great wordy relationship all through our graduation years. It was effortless to to open up to her mostly because she shares my aquarian quirks. those very quirks probably explains the drifting away over time. Neither of us made the initiative to remain in contact years after she moved out. She's a fine resilient soul, i bet she's doing wonders for herself.

Anyway, these are some of my favourite letters I've found online 


Famous love letter by Lewis Carroll

 Christ Church, Oxford, October 28, 1876

My Dearest Gertrude:
My Dearest Gertrude:

You will be sorry, and surprised, and puzzled, to hear what a queer illness I have had ever since you went. I sent for the doctor, and said, "Give me some medicine. for I'm tired." He said, "Nonsense and stuff! You don't want medicine: go to bed!"

I said, "No; it isn't the sort of tiredness that wants bed. I'm tired in the face." He looked a little grave, and said, "Oh, it's your nose that's tired: a person often talks too much when he thinks he knows a
great deal." I said, "No, it isn't the nose. Perhaps it's the hair." Then he looked rather grave, and said, "Now I understand: you've been playing too many hairs on the pianoforte."

"No, indeed I haven't!" I said, "and it isn't exactly the hair: it's more about the nose and chin." Then he looked a good deal graver, and said, "Have you been walking much on your chin lately?" I said, "No." "Well!" he said, "it puzzles me very much.

Do you think it's in the lips?" "Of course!" I said. "That's exactly what it is!"

Then he looked very grave indeed, and said, "I think you must have been giving too many kisses." "Well," I said, "I did give one kiss to a baby child, a little friend of mine."

"Think again," he said; "are you sure it was only one?" I thought again, and said, "Perhaps it was eleven times." Then the doctor said, "You must not give her any more till your lips are quite rested
again." "But what am I to do?" I said, "because you see, I owe her a hundred and eighty-two more." Then he looked so grave that tears ran down his cheeks, and he said, "You may send them to her in a box."

Then I remembered a little box that I once bought at Dover, and thought I would someday give it to some little girl or other. So I have packed them all in it very carefully. Tell me if they come safe or if any are lost on the way."

Lewis Carrol
.........................

Writing advice from C.S. Lewis to a young American fan named Joan Lancaster:
The Kilns,
Headington Quarry,
Oxford
26 June 1956
Dear Joan–
Thanks for your letter of the 3rd. You describe your Wonderful Night v. well. That is, you describe the place and the people and the night and the feeling of it all, very well — but not the thing itself — the setting but not the jewel. And no wonder! Wordsworth often does just the same. His Prelude (you’re bound to read it about 10 years hence. Don’t try it now, or you’ll only spoil it for later reading) is full of moments in which everything except the thing itself is described. If you become a writer you’ll be trying to describe the thing all your life: and lucky if, out of dozens of books, one or two sentences, just for a moment, come near to getting it across.
About amn’t Iaren’t I and am I not, of course there are no right or wrong answers about language in the sense in which there are right and wrong answers in Arithmetic. “Good English” is whatever educated people talk; so that what is good in one place or time would not be so in another. Amn’t I was good 50 years ago in the North of Ireland where I was brought up, but bad in Southern EnglandAren’t I would have been hideously bad in Ireland but very good in England. And of course I just don’t know which (if either) is good in modern Florida. Don’t take any notice of teachers and textbooks in such matters. Nor of logic. It is good to say “more than one passenger was hurt,” although more than one equals at least two and therefore logically the verb ought to be plural were not singular was!
What really matters is:–
1. Always try to use the language so as to make quite clear what you mean and make sure your sentence couldn’t mean anything else.
2. Always prefer the plain direct word to the long, vague one. Don’timplement promises, but keep them.
3. Never use abstract nouns when concrete ones will do. If you mean “More people died” don’t say “Mortality rose.”
4. In writing. Don’t use adjectives which merely tell us how you want us to feel about the thing you are describing. I mean, instead of telling us a thing was “terrible,” describe it so that we’ll be terrified. Don’t say it was “delightful”; make us say “delightful” when we’ve read the description. You see, all those words (horrifying, wonderful, hideous, exquisite) are only like saying to your readers, “Please will you do my job for me.”
5. Don’t use words too big for the subject. Don’t say “infinitely” when you mean “very”; otherwise you’ll have no word left when you want to talk about something really infinite.
Thanks for the photos. You and Aslan both look v. well. I hope you’ll like your new home.
With love
yours
C.S. Lewis
.............................
 Maurice Sendak to a young fan

“Once a little boy sent me a charming card with a little drawing on it. I loved it. I answer all my children’s letters — sometimes very hastily — but this one I lingered over. I sent him a card and I drew a picture of a Wild Thing on it. I wrote, ‘Dear Jim: I loved your card.’ Then I got a letter back from his mother and she said, ‘Jim loved your card so much he ate it.’ That to me was one of the highest compliments I’ve ever received. He didn’t care that it was an original Maurice Sendak drawing or anything. He saw it, he loved it, he ate it.”

.........

Dear Amy,
I must write a special letter and thank you for the dream in the bottle. You are the first person in the world who has sent me one of these and it intrigued me very much. I also liked the dream. Tonight I shall go down to the village and blow it through the bedroom window of some sleeping child and see if it works.
With love from,
(Signed)
Roald Dahl

.........
After reading Yann Martel’s book Life of Pi with his daughter, a fan sat down to write this short note of thanks.
Mr. Martel —
My daughter and I just finished reading Life of Pi together. Both of us agreed we prefer the story with animals.
It is a lovely book — an elegant proof of God, and the power of storytelling.
Thank you.
(Signed, ‘Barack Obama’)


............

Famous love letter by Napolean Bonaparte


Until then, mio dolce amor, a thousand kisses; but give me none in return, for they set my blood on fire

Saturday, September 1, 2012

wopycriter blues.

There is no such thing as dreamjob. Dream judiciously.


Monday, August 13, 2012

Everyone meet crusty.


It's a pity how man has found cure for most of the deadly, hard to pronounce diseases but fails abominably at finding a cure to eradicate spots. Giant crater like spots that make you wish you woke up with a beard. I would've stuck to don't -ask don't- tell policy but since this happens to be my first day at work and a lot of people have asked me about it, i feel obliged to finish the whiny introduction.

i've heard distressing stories from people on being bullied on the first day of their school because of reasons beyond their comprehension. Falooda says, he was called watermelon because his face swelled up from a medicine allergy on the first day of his school. I am reminded of my professor at J school who used to scratch his head when he was in deep thought only to stumble on a giant round lump on his head. We called him the man with three balls. I feel sorry for both Falooda and the professor after walking around with a giant spot on my chin that leeked like an open wound on my first day of work.

I had resolved to not squeeze it this time around but I was sincerely bored during the two and a half hour long HR induction presentation in the first half of the day. Squeezing spots make up for an interesting past-time if you care to observe. My hand strategically placed over my chin gave the impression that I was attentively listening the buggers on how to encash my maternity leave followed by "oh ofcourse, we hope it it doesn't apply to you".

Squeezing pimples might comes across relaxing while you're at it, it's real dangers surface hours later when you discover your spots spread all over your face like algae on standing water. Like all first-days, I was to meet a new person every hour. By the end of the day I was giving out the rehearsed expression of "Hi, i am anisha. i would be nice to you if you look away and ignore my spot". Obviously, it wasn't working. In reality, i saw a dozen of faces shrink with rebuke at my giant plop of oil. they looked me with derision of having to see a mutilated body. This is it. I am going to be crusty, the tadpole in the sea of creative sharks.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

prelude


There is something deeply meditative about the tale of Intsy- the spider we learnt in formative years of school.

Intzy who embarks on a vertical trail to make its way up the wall. it falls down due to forces unfriendly to  gravity.

Intzy gets up,
tries again
falls.

gets up,
tries again,
falls miserably

wobbles but gets up
tries again
falls miserably

-repeat-

-repeat-

Job hunting fills you with emotions similar to that of Intsy's. I'm not here to romanticize his story of failure/success (depending on how you choose to see it), or whine about the harsh times of economic recession we live in which might have triggered the thought behind this note, but definitely doesn't serve the purpose of writing it.The difference between Intsy and me is not our struggle and hardship and our occasional resilience but our destination. While intsy's misery ends with his  successful walk up the varnished walls of the house, mine probably begins there. Having trekked the employment mountain, the next crucial thing required from you is to survive on breadcrumbs that are fed in the name of salary. More significantly to discover reasons to keep you motivated each day, to remain unaffected by mediocrity served to you in enormous portions. To abstain from the greed and overpowering consumerist logic of capitalism every time you're handed your pay cheque. To make a forceful decision of going home instead of heading to the bar after a rough day at work, to let go of the enraging promotion of the guy half as bright as you are, to remain sane and cheerful and optimistic and hungry for knowledge and learning. To remain you. To remain idyllic.

I haven't started working yet but I see a long undulated wall ahead of me. I am not intsy, the spider. I wouldn't rise up if I fall this time. I would run away to Dharamshala and donate my youth and dreams to a humble monastry. 
Alternatively, if i make a headway on to the wall, I promise myself to not get wasted by the abundance of contemporary materialism while ensuring i do not rot in one corner as a bigass bore.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Hare ram, hare krishna!



Sturgeon moves into a cheap lodge at the backpackers colony in Old Delhi. With a 500 rupee note in his pocket, he couldn’t have done any better. He pays 300 in advance for a tiny room with no windows and a broken mirror. The balcony of the room overlooks Hi hi! , a garish looking gaybar which lured customers by an equally garish board offering masseur services and free cutting chai

Sturgeon is not unfamiliar with Delhi’s underbelly. If anything, he has had a whiff of its dark and seedy life early on his life. Had it not been for his mangy looks and a jaw that looks as if its about to fall, he would’ve not passed as a harmless man to the guesthouse owner. His decision to move into defaced, debauched colony of Old delhi was fated not upon chance but survival. He was wanted by the Delhi police of three branches for a crime- too mischievous to be talked about (in the fear being caught upon by the reckless youth of today), and too immoderate to be forgiven.

However he was as safe as he could possibly be in the notoriously busy 6 tooti chowk, (translated as six times broken junction), serving home to foul-mouthed drug peddlers and rambling tramps not very far from the Old Delhi railway station. “Hare ram hare Krishna” being the usual, perennial exchanges between the two.

Hunger consumes his immediate worries of safety and income. Sturgeon had moved in with a pair of ragged khakhi shorts and a fake Nike tee-shirt. He takes a quick shower, slips into khakhi shorts and his old white shirt and leaves the room. Old Delhi is a difficult locality, difficult even for its outlaws. One would find every local’s face suspicious and devilish. The houses here bear the uncanny air of a slaughter house. All women look haggard as if lashed by the men in their house at some point of time in life. The dingy lanes can barely accommodate a vehicle, but the sounds of a honking rickshaw pervade the streets and subsequently wrecks upon mental peace. Yet the menacing faces and their subversive acts is what lends this place its own unique charm, and wholesome popularity among low-budget back-packers.


Sturgeon finds himself besotted by the bright, bohemian cafes offering luscious discounts on liquor and International cuisines. He begins to salivate. However, the prices are way out of his reach. The freshly fried samosas and sweets available at the street evaporate in thin air as soon as they are brought in the open. One fucking billion population! Sturgeon groans in agony of an unattended stomach.

Tired of walking on a merciless May afternoon, Sturgeon rushes into the nearby state library. He had seen the dusty, dilapidated board of the library plenty of times from the metro station that stood right above it. The walls of this desolated room instantly placate his nerves. He feels an enormous sense of calm, as he grabs one the termite-infested wooden chairs, close to an archaic table likely to be from Nehru’s office. He looks around inhaling smells of the bygone years. A woman in her mid forties occupies sits at one end of the room. She has seen men like Sturgeon before, they usually come to the library to answer to texts or sip a soda or two, waiting for their company to arrive.

She pretends to ignore his presence and carries on muttering old hindi chants from a thin book chipped from all corners. “Hare krishna hare ram, hare Krishna hare ram.. ram” God resides in library these days!, Sturgeon smiles to himself. He picks up a book from the closest shelf in order to remain inconspicuous. He forgets all about his hunger. Half an hour later, he loads up half a dozen books on the table. It’s 3.clock, the librarian has three hours before calling it a day. She calls her husband Munshad lal to see if the lunch was delivered to him on time. She hangs up in 3 minutes, she calls Pinky to see if she’s doing her homework. She yells on the phone and hangs up in 8 minutes. She calls Mrs. Sharma to bitch about her husband’s indifference towards her these days, and difficulty in raising children. She hangs up after 42 minutes.

She sees Sturgeon intently reading a hardbound. She yawns. Receding afternoons make up for best naps. She dozes off, Sturgeon dozes off. Sturgeon wakes up and sees librarian in the same spot as she was before with her mouth wide open, wet from blood and phlegm. Sturgeon grins, looks around, picks up a tattered cream colour ladies bag and walks away feeling satiated.

Friday, June 1, 2012

A Million little pieces


The greatest thing James Frey taught me is to see my rage. Feel the fury of it, like a stream of volcano tossing down the hill to get me. Except that volcano resides in my chest, deep –down, visceral and ferocious. It gives me a screeching pain that refuses to go despite multiple negotiations with reason. The countless sobs that can’t be suppressed by a Gotye song, the need to cry my skull out on eternal sunshine soundtrack, the desire to grab a tree so tight inorder to feel safe and protected.

There is rage inside me, inside you. Whose form I don’t know but whose intensity I feel on days like these. It hounds my soul, like Siberian dogs. It eats me away minute by minute. I forget to feel like Howard Roark, I forget the ways in which he has inspired me instead I end up feeling like Max, ‘confuzzled’ at everything that falls in the domain of human relationships. I distrust my parents, my friends and most tragically myself. I distrust the power of creation, I distrust his fruits. I do not know what causes me this rage, I can’t even begin to know because finding a reason is too enraging a thought itself.

What I do is I look for solitude. Actually I don’t have to look for it, it crawls towards me and takes me by its grab. Sometimes it tempts me with alcohol and similar intoxication. I refuse. I pick up James Frey and measure the hole in his heart. It’s bigger than mine. It’s comforting to know the unimaginable ways in which universe can destroy you.
He survived
So will I  

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Fear and loathing, and fear and loathing

the number of irreverent fear humans are capable of harbouring is truly unfathomable. Fishface for instance has a massive fear of lizards. My rational explanations of how lizards are actually human allies in keeping mosquitoes and other bugs at bay, doesn't seem to help much. the gravity of  her fear can drive her cuckoo enough to jump around our future boss's house like a chimp on spotting a mean-looking gecko.

Bart's expression of fear can qualify him for a mime artist. This one time, a rat suddenly appeared from one corner of the terrace at night and this otherwise frigid person clutched my arm so tight that it hurt for two consecutive days.

Ja, had a similar encounter with a rat some days ago. She earned my sympathy for putting up a brave show and chasing the rat out with a broom at 5 in the morning, sacrificing her cookies, and candies in the process.. But i secretly suspect she suffers from a pathological fear of silence. Ja is a compulsive talker. She cannot go to sleep until recapping her entire day which amounts to truckloads of shallow jibber-jabbber. This one night she spent the entire night ruminating over people's insecurities and fears, except for hers of-course.

Me? I suffer from the most unhealthy fear of attachment. Not only it leaves me feeling neglected and socially awkward for most part of the day. It ensures I'm constantly soaring on the psychopathic meter. My ailment is more critical than what meets the eye. I've always cherished the idea of detachment for practical purposes. Im known to lighten the intense goodbye and farewell moments by coming up with epigrams if though misdirected and terribly punny. An attempt is an attempt is an attempt. My closet cant complain of claustrophobia, it has never been difficult for me to trash out stuff from yesteryears. On most days I save my siblings from the inflammable fury of  "dare not touch that top, its mine".

Perhaps it wouldn't have been such a problem if it was genuinely true. For all my sinister sarcasm and Calvin eyebrow, inside, I feel like the three year old who never gets to play with his favourite toy because he's too afraid of getting attached to it. which basically means he longs for that toy day and night and what should've pleased him, leaves him utterly hopeless. I long for attachments too. I long for that warm, fuzzy, gooey feeling that a choco-lava cookie leaves me with. I long for waking up to a bright and cheery goodmorning text.

the fear of attachment makes me believe and assert that I'm the most detached person on this earth , when I'm not. Like Adrian Broody(in detachment) I inevitably become the one people run to for strength. They look up to my detachment classes hell even the good old MeyersBriggs Jungian know-your-personality exam identifies me as a healer, while in reality I crave for moments when I can break down and let go of those innumerable moments when I've pretended to not get affected by somebody's inappropriate behavior, or felt icky at airport or felt like slapping my uncle because he spoke rudely to my mother.

Even more cringe-worthy are the  moments when I've either under-expressed my feelings for somebody I have strongly been attracted to. Like a strict school-master I keenly list out negative traits in my potential boy simply because I fear getting attached to him. It happened to me recently. Everything was going buttery smooth between Armstrong and me as long as i talked myself to believe that it's just an ordinary crush which should desert me in a span of twenty days. the truth is, it didn't despite my desperate self-belief on the nature of its frivolousness. It grew on me and very soon I saw myself behaving like an impulsive three year old who is now incapable of parting with the toy, his parents can't accomodate in the car.

I am turning into everything I've hated in other people- Being impulsive, being needy, being attention, attention-seeking just because A entertained all this for some time now. So as as auto-correct measure I have painted a fatally demonic image of A in my head in order to detach from him. With a militant mind training of mine from all these years, it's not going to be very difficult. But the question arises: is all emotional expression.exposition a bad thing if not what is an optimum amount that saves oneself the insufferable rounds in the hallowed corridors of psychopathy and emo-ness.

Shouldn't we men of reason define norms for appropriate emotional display in relationships and subsequently define laws for its impeachment. Maybe shiny, happy couples like B n S can offer their inputs in drafting such a law. Till then I reckon with Max's idea of how humans leave him confuzled (confused and puzzled) and confess an unhealthy attachment to 5 am playlist until I discover more exciting fears.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

crash and burn



Fuscia: My brain is in a state of perpetual numbness and my stomach feels tight. I'm also having trouble remembering big words that I used to flash like laser-beams untill a year ago.

Dr. Xanadu: How long has this been going on

Fusica: 15..16 days no about a month and a half

Dr. X: Have you been eating properly?

F: Yes, the usual. 

Dr X: what about your bowl movement

F: I am not constipated. So it's all fine down there

Dr. X: Have you been drinking too much lately

F: Not excessively, once in a while i drink to feel less frustrated about my condition.

Dr. X: what about heartburn sensation?

F: if by heartburn you mean feeling like someone ran scissors into my chest, when i read beautiful prose written by known persons. yes

Dr. X: I'm afraid there's no cure

F: no cure to what? what is it that i suffer from



<after a three-minute long pause>


Dr. X: writer's block.


Friday, April 20, 2012

Shipra hostel, room 336

The long drawn pale taste of afternoon
dissolves in paper cups of joy
the beauty of rain about to emerge
from the crackling womb of clouds
to greet the hysterical corridors.
Bang bang they go delirious
hush hush, she cajoles the april sky






Tuesday, April 17, 2012

beer chant


sparkling face, sad face
Significant face, sloppy face
simplistic face, sober face
sly face, sluggish face
shrunken face, smug face
same face
sickeningly strange face

seeking face, slimy face
stoic face, semantically sweet face,
seedy face, slithered face
sexy face, secretive face
seamless face,
strangely special face

stuffed face, scattered face
snoring face, scary face,
sedated face, smashing face,
subliminal face, sustainable face,
subversive face
solely sophisticated face

One Million of them,
pass by
Like clouds on an
overcast sky
While i look out,
without staring
for the one which smiles back
without pretending.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

April

Sebi was new to film class. Her long pointy eyes incapable of a direct gaze was also new to us. During lunch hours, she would disappear in thin air like steam from a hot-water jar; leaving me little opportunity of getting to know her. She was a batch younger to ours and except for film we had no other class in common. However, in the long four hour class, twice a week, I would devour her with an all pervasive passion of a boy about to hit puberty. Which should tell you about my pursuit for this girl was more than a fleeting curiosity. For your information, I'm 24- mature enough to prioritize my crushes which were dwindling anyway as i started engaging with libraries and discs, rather than people.

The fact that i could be aroused by a girl who I barely heard was an incredible milestone for my emotional health. My friends have abandoned me more or less for my sullen response to their party invites aka a reckless night of watching porn. Oh Sebi! what have you done to me.. I find myself reading Neruda and listening to Billy Joel under the table during lectures.

This one time, I entered the class late to find myself sitting next to Sebi. A seat usually reserved for her faded brown duffel bag. Who knows what she carries in it. Weapons of societal denunciation I would suppose. But back then my thoughts were swirling like Sufi dancers in trance. i was sweating profusely in first week of March. Taking long deep breaths, I decided to take the momentous opportunity to my stride. Three minutes into the lecture, i found myself scanning her from head to toe; relentlessly searching for something peculiar, something odd, something to crack a joke about. For a punk hairdo and catty demeanor, she sure could have exhibited some quirks. Different earrings, different socks, perhaps a cheeky quote on her tee-shirt but no, she was calm like a river in a white salwaar kameez. Hale Berry has an Indian doppelganger I thought.

The professor was taking a class on the evolution of psychoanalytical theory; first propounded by Sigmund Freud. Thankfully, the class wasn't boring today. the professor broke into anecdotes from Freud's life. For instance- how his study was always replete with a huge collection of midgets and soldier toys from far east to play with. For a man offering life-altering insights on the sub-conscious and the unconscious, he seemed quite pantsy. The classroom environment had lightened a bit. Sebi smirked devilishly. While we were on the subject, I muttered out loud "Do you dream often", purposely avoiding an exchange of glance this time.
"hell yeah", she replied "Who doesnt".
Ceasing the moment spontaneously, I paraphrased my current favourite author Sue Townshed, "The only thing worse than listening to other people's dreams is listening to other people's problems". Sebi smiled this time frankly and warmly. i was struck by the simplicity of her dimples.

I clearly remember she was wearing a cheap cologne which could have smelled nice only on her. I was silent for next 45 minutes, determined to look stoic and dignified. Afterall it takes a recluse to befriend one. I mean if one were to scrutinize Coetzee's readership, one would find it dominated by retired colonels, divorcess, invalids and grumpy professors. It was clear by now, Sebi had no friends in class. I once overheard her classmates referring her as Lisbeth Salander from Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.

Led by an undying curiosity, I looked up school website to arrive at bonafide section. Her page didnt say much except that she was the daughter of Mrs. Manjali S. raised in a south Indian town. The empty blank under her contact number angered me much. Day and night I was grappling with the question:How did she turn into an enigma. What had drawn me to her? Physical attraction never lasts more than two days, and I was yet have a proper conversation with her. I mean she could be anybody-a vicar, a sleuth, a vampire or a rockstar living dual lives. I was reminded of how renaissance artists painted the goddess clad in satin clothing, hiding her private parts, to heighten her sexuality. On one or two occasions I eavesdropped on her conversations with classmates which were extremely curt and unavoidable. It always left her confused and befuddled, even though she tried to come across as a humble person. her sheepish smile in the end had almost become her signature expression. What could possibly be hidden in those elfin eyes. What was her vice. While i was going cuckoo with a fatalistic desire for her.

It was time to take grip over my emotions. I started spending more time in my room. I resumed to playing piano to wade her thoughts in my head. Luckily, the film classes did not take place for next three weeks limiting my movement from room to library and back. Once in the library corridor, we crossed paths and she greeted me with the same strange confused expression, as if she was unsure that we had met before. The same expression I would inevitably bear after a class on Derrida. she looked frail and skinnier. I decided not to acknowledge her presence ever again and forget about her all together.

It was a sunny April afternoon, I entered the department library listlessly when a flashy notice caught my eye. It read Sebi, student of Cultural studies was found dead in the hostel room due to an overdose of memory-erasing pills; accompanied by a picture of her long pointy eyes shut like Buddha in meditation.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

And all fall down


Ring-a-ring-a-roses,
A pocket full of posies;
Hush! hush! hush! hush!
And all fall down
-first printed nursery rhyme

Among the most revered things about JNU, Holi gains a prime spot. It's probably the only national university which wakes up to the sound of people shaking their bottles to ensure a giddy cocktail of milk and bhang aka female canabbis plants at wee hours. Needless to say, it's India's version of Mardi gras and therefore much-awaited festival of the year for international students living on campus. Palpitating with excitement my German roomate and her gang bought colours, water-pistols and white-shirts a day before the festival from the campus vendors who in their hearts must be thanking Bollywood films and Shiva in equal measure.

This was my second Holi on campus. Armed with wild experiences from the last time and flu medication I succeeded in limiting the consumption of Bhang milkshake passed around in plastic water-bottles to a cautionary few sips. In an hour or so the drug began to show-up on everyone's face. The whole campus turned into a candybar cover full of smiley faces in colours of pink orange and yellow. On the other hand red, having more than an emphatic connotation on campus settled everywhere like dust. "laal hai bhai laal hai, JNU laal hai", some sounds have an after-life here on this campus.

Insanity level shot up, as the day progressed. Like all hallucinogens, bhang amplifies your state of mind evoking responses as diverse as human minds. A common experience reported by everyone is the illusion of time slowing down much akin to watching an Angelopoulos film. So it wasn't unusual for people to ask "How long have we been sitting here, looks like a day has passed". The most dramatic event of the day was watching a friend halt at the staircase, looking at the third floor with a quizzical look on her face. She had forgotten the flight of stairs she had climbed to get to the third floor, for it felt like the divine stairway to Vaishno devi temple quote unquote.

Holi leaves one with all kinds of adventurous tales. More than Diwali, it's time we start printing Have a safe Holi on hallmark cards. Today, the international students were first to chug the cannabis drink and subsequently the first ones to pass out. Along with the hazy memory of printing colourful hand-marks on white tee-shirts and dancing to confusing dhol sounds, what remains is the vision of a bunch of kids holding hands at a merry-go-round before they scream ..And we all fall down
This is a part of the 6-word short story exercise which incidently describes my Holi until I get to write a version of my own.

Wasted day. Wasted life. Dessert, please.
- Steven Meretzky

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

i write grouchyrabit stuff too.

Commie: A lifelong oath to red-book until you land up with a six figure salary offer during campus placement.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Arch rival of peace

films vs news vs poetry vs derrida vs fiction vs music vs sleep vs writing assignments vs staring in the sky blankly vs online flaneuring vs room-cleaning vs social butterflying vs library-hopping vs getting wasted vs making a trip to home vs jogging vs writing crap like this

=

a whole day gone

Monday, February 20, 2012

The day drags on



The day drags on
Like windmill on a sunny afternoon
Around hokus pocus conversations
and hokus pocus sounds
The kids laugh about on their merry go rounds
Oblivious to dogs wallowing on the ground
The television glares in the nearby town
Playing antics of a frowned clown
The busy streets wear a look of boredom
Like wide-angle shots of a classroom

The day drags on
Like windmill on a sunny afternoon
Walking past a shopping mall
Hoping for prices to fall
The giant malls bedazzle alone
Like shiny numbers on an expensive phone
Alien to human voice
Ever ready to pose

The day drags on
Like windmill on a sunny afternoon
Made to drink water from a finger bowl
'A cheap and easy therapy for mind and soul'
In the clutter of advertisements, words disappear
Ushering every semioticians' worst nightmare
Advertisements that breed hatred and greed
Targeting men of all caste and creed

The day drags on
Like windmill on a sunny afternoon
Tired by the weight of its existence
Too tired to even launch resistance
Modelling for the thinker and the artist
who're writing off human history as fascist
A history that's craving for holiday
By the beach and blue sky
But night would be just fine for now
Provided it has reconciled with when and how

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

This and that

I slip into
Ocean of night
motionless
Like the flight
of time
Counting minutes
before eternity arrives
Marching swiftly
like a lieutenant
In his burnt brown boots
whistling away an instruction
to those born to men
Pointing a world outside-
my humble village of emotions
Pointing at a blinding
white light (of reason)

While i mumble
in sleep
Velvety memories
(of love)
and longing
untainted by wisdom
and caution
to an attentive moon
and his council of stars
Raving, relinquishing
stories of a distant past
By the riverside
A tide rises impatiently
to signal
between now and then
An eternity that has passed

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Murakami magic potion

A Long Way from The Stuffed Cabbage


Translated by Kazuo Uekura



Sometimes I meet a person who says " I've had so many interesting experiences that I can write lots of books about them." I think I've heard quite a few people say the same thing especially since I came here. This doesn't mean that Americans say such a thing, but that many Japanese living in America often do. What they say might be probably true, because it's quite challenging to live away from their home country, and they must have encountered various kinds of exciting happenings in this country. It's quite natural that they should have a strong wish to tell their story to someone else.

Of course, I don't know if they are really going to write their own novels someday. But I can only say this after all; despite the background as a writer who has written quite a number of novels so far, I've almost never had any "truly exciting" incidents in my private life. No doubt I might have had something exciting as a person living more than 40 years, such as meeting a strange and mysterious person or being greatly shocked by a sudden change of destiny. Some memory, I can't tell you what it is though, makes me smile and some still makes me so sore. Thrilling things once quivered me with excitement. Nevertheless I guess you must also have gone through such things as I have experienced in my life. I've never met anyone who can be said to have experienced "such an unbelievable happening as no one ever had even in this large world." If I were quite a stranger to writing novels and asked if I can declare to people that "I've got so much stock of interesting topics for my writing, " then my answer to this question will be "No." Definitely "No." What I could do is just confess honestly that "My life was somewhat interesting in its way, but not interesting enough to write a novel about it."

For all this, in a very rare occasion we stumble upon people who encountered incredible experiences in this world. I like their story telling since a boy, and I often ask them to tell their own episode. I have no idea of using their story as a subject for my novel, but I just feel like listening to them. Various tales exist; some of them are stunning, moving, heartily laughable, and chilling me with fear. Their narrative is sometimes so enchanting as to make me forget to go to bed. It is true that "Fact is stranger than fiction. " But it is not always true that the person, who has gone through such an excitement, can write a novel as stimulating as his experience. There might be a writer like Jack London (an American novelist 1878-1916) who makes up extraordinarily interesting books from his plentiful, extraordinary experiences, but judging from my knowledge, such a novelist is rather exceptional.

Though this is my private opinion, people are inclined to be captured by the keen sense of helplessness while actually writing them down once they suffer overwhelming experiences. Painful is the stress when one cannot reproduce or convey vividly to others, however hard he tries, what he's experienced so intensely. In my case, the stronger is the intention to "write about a particular subject in a particular way," the harder it becomes to start writing and to express myself. This stress somewhat resembles the irritation one feels when he cannot describe to another person what he experienced so vividly and realistically in his dreams. All words I use to narrate my feeling of the moment fail incessantly to describe what I wish to, and then they begin to betray me.

To the contrary, there are some people, despite their lack of experiences, who can find out something funny and something pitiful in a trivial incident from their unique viewpoint which is quite different from that of others. They can recreate their findings into a different form and tell other people more comprehensibly about them. These people are standing much closer to novelists.

Anyway I have no experience in my life which is really worth telling you about. I can understand why John Irving said something to the effect that "If I write my books based on my personal experiences, my readers will probably fall asleep after the first 20 pages." In my case, less than 20 pages. It is generally believed that writers create their works under the influence of various real experiences, though. For instance, when I published my first novel, my acquaintances around me suddenly started to become restless and nervous. They began to keep a distance from me though we had been enjoying a casual relationship until that time. At first I couldn't make out why, but after talking to them, I noticed they gave the cold shoulder to me for fear that I might use them as the models for my next book. We've been getting along with one another since they found that I had no intention to write such kind of novels.

Since I came to the States, I've visited lots of universities and talked with many American students. I've talked publicly before a large audience, too. But I feel more comfortable when speaking face to face in a small class, using my own words and following my own casual style. Sometimes after class, all of us went to a pub and enjoyed an open and frank conversation over a glass of beer. In such an atmosphere, there is no difference between American and Japanese students. Students, who assumed an affected attitude in the presence of a teacher during the session, now get relaxed and recover the childish sparkle in their eyes.

They are usually the students interested in Japanese Literature or Japanese, but for many of them, this is the first time in their life to meet a novelist. Therefore they are very eager to know something very realistic about a novelist, for instance, what kind of creature a writer is, what kind of ideas he has, and what kind of life he is living. Some of them wish to write a novel themselves, too. These novelist-oriented students are keenly interested to know how they can start writing a novel or become a novelist. Most typical questions asked by them are as follows:

1. What did you want to write in your university days?

2. How did you publish your first novel?

3. What do you think is the most essential for writing novels?

From my standpoint as a private writer, I find it almost impossible to expand my case into the level of all writers and to teach them that "Novelists are such-and-such people" or "This is the way to write a novel" or "You can become a writer in this way." I also find it meaningless to suggest to them knowingly some "correct" theory of becoming a novelist. So I show them my concrete example, saying that "In my case I am like this." Besides, they much prefer the quick, descriptively "colorful" start-up example to the logical, abstract theory or concept.

In this "concrete and colorful" way, wherever I went, I explained to the students how I became a novelist, and I happened to notice that it was nearly good luck itself that made me a writer. Sometimes I am deeply impressed by the fact that I could become a writer.

When a student, I was certainly thinking of writing something. More specifically, I wanted to write film scenarios. Scenarios first, and then novels, for I felt interested in films. That is why I chose to enter the Film & Drama Course in Waseda University, but I gave up writing scenarios halfway, thinking it didn't fit me. I didn't have the slightest idea of what to write or how to write in those days. Neither any material nor any theme did I have to write about. Such a person could never start writing a script ( or anything else), which was a self-evident fact. But I liked to read film scripts anyway, so I went to the Drama Museum on campus almost everyday, if not attending classes, and devoured all the film scripts in the West and in the East through all ages. Looking back on my student days now, I think this devouring helped me so much. Therefore, I think I can give a piece of advice to younger people, having a wish to write something, that "you need not force yourself to write something when you can not." I wonder if this might help them or not though.

Then I graduated from Waseda, got married, and started working. (No, it is opposite. I married, started working, and then graduated from university.) Driven by the severe everyday life, I totally forgot my wish to write something. To clear off my debts, I had to work from early in the morning till late at night like "a whipped carriage-horse," which sounds like a non-literary clich?, though. I continued it for seven years. As my bar served the "stuffed cabbage" , for instance, I had to cut a full bag of onions into tiny pieces every morning. Still now I can manage to cut plenty of onions in a short time even without shedding tears. My hands automatically and swiftly move as if they knew how to do it.

"Do you know the knack of slicing onions without tears?" I ask my students sometimes.

"No," they say.

"Finish cutting them before tears start dropping." A big laughter occurs.

When it comes to the topic like this, a lively sparkle appears in my students' eyes. That might be partly because they've rarely heard such a story in their regular classes, and partly because they more or less have a sort of vague anxiety about their future: "What kind of life course am I going to follow?" "What kind of possibility can I find there?" I can understand their sense of instability about their present position and their future. Around the age of twenty, I was as unstable as they are now, or my case must have been far worse than what the word "unstable" means. If a god appears here and asks me if I'd like to go back to the age of twenty again, I will probably decline by saying "I appreciate your offer, but I am quite satisfied with the way I am now." If you pardon me, I want to say frankly "To hell with my twenties."

Then at the age of 29, a sudden impulse of writing a novel knocked on me. Now I'll explain about it more. It was an early afternoon in spring and I went to see a baseball game between Yakult Swallows and Hiroshima Carp in Jingu Baseball Stadium. Lying down in the outfield bleacher, drinking beer, and when a player named Hilton hit a double, I made a sudden resolution that "Now it's time for me to start writing a novel." This is how I started to write a novel.

When I give such an explanation to my students, all of them make a stunned face. "That means ah...the ball game meant something very special to you?" "I don't think so. The spring sunshine, the taste of beer, the flying two-base-hit ball, all these elements got together and they stimulated something in me, I guess," I explain. "All I needed was the time and the experience to identify myself. It doesn't have to be a special experience. It doesn't matter that they are just a series of ordinary experiences. But they have to be the experiences that are embedding themselves deeply in my body. When a student, I couldn't find out what to write despite the itch for writing something. I needed the seven years and hardships to discover the theme for my writing, I guess." "If you hadn't gone to the ball game stadium on that April afternoon, you would not be a writer now, Mr. Murakami?"

"Who knows?"

I really mean it; "Who knows?" If I hadn't been in the stadium that afternoon, I might have lived my ordinary life without writing any novels. But as a matter of fact, I was in the empty outfield bleacher of Jingu Stadium on that spring afternoon - yes the stadium was really empty in those days - and lying down, watching Dave Hilton hit a beautiful double into left field, I came to write my first book "Hear The Wind Sing." It might have been the only "extraordinary" incident in my life.

"Mr. Murakami, do you think something similar will happen in everybody else's life?"

"I have no idea." That is the only answer I can give. "But I imagine something similar, if not exactly the same, will more or less happen to anybody else. The instance of revelation must sometime visit you when various things suddenly get connected to each other. Well, at least, don't you think our life would be happier if we believed such a moment is sure to come?"

Anyway I think I learned quite a few things from my job. A few years ago a book titled "All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten" became a big bestseller here in the U.S., and in my case the same thing can be said: "All I need to know I learned in my jazz bar." I acquired various knowledge at the schools that I attended, but frankly speaking, this kind of knowledge didn't help me very much when writing a novel. I have no idea of maintaining that the school education is meaningless, but I rarely met a situation when it came home to me how important my school education was. When I was a small boy, my mother told me that "If you don't work hard now, you will have regrets for not having studied harder after having grown up." Her advice gave me a vague feeling that she might be right, but still I can't understand what she really meant. That's because after grown up, I've never regretted that "I should have studied harder when young." It is my twenties that taught me some truth about how I should live, and in those days I was literally engaged in physical labor day after day. I spent every day in my twenties working both physically and desperately hard in order to pay my debts every month. I could not think about anything else even if I tried. But as a result, that kind of hard labor nourished me most. Labor was the best teacher to me and my "true university."

For instance, managing a bar, I have a lot of customers every day, and not everybody necessarily likes my place, or more accurately, just a few of themdo. But strange to say, you can manage to carry on your business if one or two customers out of ten really like your place and if they wish to "drop by this bar again." Sometimes you can have a better result when only a few out of ten really love your place rather than when eight, or nine customers merely feel that "it is not bad." This lesson came home to me, while I was running my bar, through the pains as if to have all the bones in my body crushed. Even when many people speak harshly about my book, I can believe, firmly and in the daily sense brewed through my own experiences, that it doesn't matter so long as one or two of them intuitively understand what I want to express. It became an invaluable lesson to me. Without these experiences, it might have been much harder for me to live as a novelist and some malicious comments on my book might have disturbed my own pace. When I talked about these things with Ryu Murakami (one of the contemporary writers in Japan; his novel "Almost Transparent Blue" in 1976 won the coveted Akutagawa Award and the Gunzou Award for New Writers), he was impressed and exclaimed that "You are really great, Haruki. I'll get mad by not being praised by all of the ten critics." But his comment, on the contrary, impresses me because it certainly sounds like himself.

Though I have no idea of boasting of myself - it isn't even worth boasting of, I'm not a person to think by using my brain, but rather a person to do so by actually moving my body. I am a person who can learn or write only through the body. That is because I used to make my living by making use of my body from morning till night. That is everything the word 'work' meant to me. This character of mine sometimes makes me feel out of place in "the world of literature." Partly this sense of "out of place" might have urged me to go abroad and live away from Japan for such a long time. The reason I cannot do without my favorite jogging and swimming may have the same origin.

About writing a novel, I have almost nothing to "teach" to my students. "All you have to do is live actually. If you really wish from the bottom of your heart to write something or to express yourself to somebody else, the time is sure to come when you can write something despite the fact that you can't write anything well now. Until that time you carefully continue to pile up your daily experiences one by one as if to lay bricks one after another. For example, love someone seriously, " I say, and then some student responds that "I can do it, too," which makes all of them laugh. Another student asks "What shall I do, if such a time doesn't come to me?" Some giggle. In such an instance, without any hesitation, I quote a vocal teacher's cruel line from Orson Welles's "Citizen Kane"; "Some people can sing, others can't"

When I won the Gunzo Award for New Writers with my first novel, and I said to all the people around me that "My first book I've written recently won me the Gunzo Award for New Writers," none of them believed my words. Instead, they thought I was joking. Probably some of them, I'm convinced, still have a deep doubt about the fact that I'm called a novelist. In their eyes, I guess, I look something different from a novelist.

Away from those days, away from Japan, and a long way from the stuffed cabbage, now I look back on my past life and I think that our life is very hard to explain, whether we have "exciting experiences" or not.