unbecoming

All of us go through life experiencing at least one life-changing thing. It could an incident, a person, as small as a sentence you read in you favorite novel or even simpler just the idea of changing the rut of your life. Today, I landed my hands on my very old journals, the one’s I wrote between the ages of 15 – 18, and I realized how different I am now and how much of that past me was so douchy !!! She was so scared and so trapped, trying to find ways to run away from where she was. She really didn’t have any destination in mind, except for the fact that what she was living was not her life. She clearly quoted in her diary at one point saying “My life seems like a chore, like I am working for someone. I am working to live her life, and becoming a stranger to myself”. She knew that she needed to change, but she was so enamored the idea of being herself, that the fact it was all fake never occurred to her ! She has transformed into me … and sometimes I wonder how did it happen. How did I, the one person who feared facing her own emotions, become this… as real, as honest and as WYSIWG person!

I am trying to find that one incident or a person or a sentence in a novel that has brought about this change in me….and I would rather call it my unbecoming – shedding out all the unnecessary baggage. To some extent, it is Kunal – he made me (in fact makes me) feel comfortable about myself. He accepted me the way I am, without expecting any change in me and funnily he accepts me even though I keep changing all the time ! He knows and understands me and more than that, he let’s me be ! But like I said he has influenced me to some extent, what about the other catalysts ?

What really caused me to stop being “the douchiest” person ? I think it was slow, gradual evolution, influenced to some extent by Eric Segal’s books maybe(?). I guess I eventually realized that it is so much easier and lighter to be yourself, to unbecome instead of always aspiring for something ridiculous. It is the one duty you owe to yourself, to be yourself and better it !

The Walk

Today, I skipped lunch in office and went for a 7 mile walk all by myself. Nothing impressive about the distance there, but that’s not what I want to focus on. There are two things really that I want to talk about – “walk” and “all by myself”. When I was younger, freshly out of school, mind filled with all expectations from romaticisim – I read Eric Segal’s Oliver’s Story (which reminds me, I have to write an article on Eric Segal’s books !!!). So Oliver, the protagonist, is a rich widower who is pining the loss of his dear wife. Oliver says “I like to run. Mainly because it is socially acceptable to be done alone”. And I always thought that this was an unnecessary association between loneliness and catharsis in the form of walks/runs. A person who is lonely can do many other things to keep his or her mind occupied – one can read, watch movies, decorate the house, basically pursue any hobby to deal with loneliness. And each of those hobbies are “socially acceptable to be done alone !.   But today, when I went for a walk, I realized that there is a big difference. 

When I pursue some hobby, all by myself, I am basically trying to get rid of the loneliness; fill the vacuum with some thoughts and activity, create an environment to dispel the melancholy. I put on loud music, read books, and cook four course meals – all directed to drive away the fact that there is no one in my house to share it with.  But when I go for a walk, I accept my thoughts, my vacuum. I am able to come to terms with myself, introspect, set specific goals and feel fresh and happy about being alive. Walking helps me collect my thoughts, and organize them all the while being relaxed and not running with the ticking clock. It is the best way for me to unwind !  Needless to say, it is the best form exercise that I need ! 

While each of us has an indoor space, that we can call our own, I think it is important to have a personal outdoor space. In Mumbai, that space  was the long stretch of the Arabian Sea from Bandra to Shivaji Park. I would walk alone  in the evenings, lit with sparkling lights, on the highway with rushing speedy and expensive car, the gushes of the wind swaying the coconut trees, the twilight reflecting on the sand, and the low humdrum of the waves – My very own personal space. (Oh God ! now i have started missing Mumbai!!!). So the point being, back home, I rarely got a chance to be by myself and then only way for me to find myself were these beautiful walks. Currently I am in a place in life, where I can (heck I choose) to be independent and alone, to explore my objectives, my personal goals. This phase in life is like that long walk that I am taking, where I need not rush, but just talk to myself and seek out the true motive of my existence.

I need to find a personal space here too, in Pittsburgh. Some place that can stand as a symbol to my being, and thereby vouch that I once walked this life, here…. 

 

p.s.: I don’t know why write such abstract nonsense! wonder if anyone can ever understand 😛 😛 😛

Rituparno Ghosh …. Farewell !

About two days ago, TOI flashed the news that Bengali filmmaker Rituparno Ghosh has passed away at the age of 49. I was just stunned in disbelief when I read the news; 49 is no age to die and Rituparno certainly shouldn’t have exited this soon… A master story-teller, that is how I like to remember Rituparno as. His imagination, his vision and his sensitivity is so overwhelming.  And he is one the few story tellers who are so true and real. What he showed on screen is what he was in real life. A caring but slightly lonely; caring but confused;  His sheer courage in coming out of the male-female boundaries defined by the society and standing by what he felt; speaks volumes of the man.

In Rituparno’s passing away, I felt a deep personal loss. A sense of melancholy creped on me and it is still heaving me down. Much like his portrayed emotions, I didn’t feel tearful or choked or even pathetically sad, just a ball of grief engulfing me.

What drew me to Rituparno were obviously his films and to be precise 3 of his films – The Last Lear, The Memories in March and the Raincoat. I absolutely loved how the characters in each of these movies stood out and how they become so close and familiar to me as a person; in spite of having never met anyone like them before.  I could actually relate to all the emotions whether it was Neeru’s helpless ness or Aurnab’s grief of Vandana’s frustrations – Rituparno’s ability to make you are a viewer feel the character’s emotions is the caliber of his success. The stories themselves are so beautiful and so strong; with a compelling need to be told.

The beautiful camera shots, so picturesque and so lyrical, Rituparno had the ability to make mundane objects speak and convey emotions.

My favorite of the 3 movies is Memories in March. Aside from its ace story line and power packed performances; Memories in March, to me,  is congruent to Rituparno’s passing away. Much like Sid’s demise in Memories takes away adds in indescribable helpless vacuum in life of the other characters; Rituparno’s death has put in a dent in my life.  As an admirer of his work; I feel saddened to know that I won’t be watching any more stories told, and any more visions believed.

There is no easy way for me to express my sadness; except to condole him by enjoying and more than that feeling each of his movies. By understanding that how real the world looked to him and how much he felt in such a short span. His awareness of human sentiments makes the best artist of his times…

In memories he says, “If I go away can I leave a part with you…”; and that is alpha omega of what Ritu means to me….

 

last lear

Movie Review : Jolly LLB

It’s funny how this should happen – I watched Jolly LLB and read the Rainmaker in the same week ! And it’s funny because I could find so many parallels between these two stories. Both have a protagonist, who is a struggling lawyer – he has sort of resigned to his situations, though would definitely want to have a better life. Rudy and Jolly, both file PILs on cases, that apparently have no meat; and even though they are fighting for the right side, conducting justice is not their primary aim.

Rudy chooses to stand up Donny Ray, a terminally ill cancer patient who has been denied insurance claims from the Great Benefit. This insurance conglomerate is being defended by topmost lawyer in the city. Rudy takes this case because he is advised by his professor that there is a lot of meat and money in this case, and the chances of him winning it are very high. Thus, Rudy’s primary aim is to make money.  Jolly, however has different aspirations. He wants to file a PIL against a rich-man’s-snooty son who is convicted in hit and run case of the slum dwellers sleeping on the footpath. Again he chooses to go head-on-head against the most famous lawyer of the country.

Thus begins their journey of unveiling the real life pains and problems of the ordinary citizens. They both grow as humans and the empathetic parts of the personality begin to develop. Both remain committed to their girlfriends. Another commonality in these two cases in the Judge supervising it.  The judges support these young and inexperienced lawyers, guide them and many times even protect them from the opposing sides.

The place, where these stories really differ, is the climax. Rudy after winning the case but losing the client and also getting into unfortunate situation with girlfriend’s ex decides to give it all up and moves to a quiter place. Jolly on the other hand decides to stay back and continue to fight for the right and try and give them a right to justice.

Both stories are fun- full of surprises, twists, melodrama and wonderful courtroom dialogues. If I had to choose a better one of the two, I would go for Jolly and that is simple because how the movie ends. I love it when there is a fighter in the hero and that fighter prevails after a long drawn battle. Also, I am able to relate better to Jolly’s case having seen many such cases in India.

Nevertheless, one shouldn’t miss out on either. I know there is a movie “Rainmaker” based on the book; and I would definitely try and watch it soon. I am not sure if the director of Jolly LLB was least bit inspired by Rainmaker. And even if he was, his adaptation of the book to suit the Indian judiciary system is commendable. I would strongly recommend both the movies, they are a window to a world of hope where a common man can sometimes hope to be vindicated.

Sunday Nights

Every time ! It f***ing happens every time ! Every sunday night, I decide I am going to bed early and it almost never happens. Correction ! IT NEVER HAPPENS. Suddenly on Sunday night, my brain and body decide – “what the hell, who needs “Rest”..it’s for sissies… we are going to make this woman stay up the whole night, munching peanuts and gulping chocolate milk (ya right, who needs to lose weight anyways…urrghhh) and make sure she is all drowsy and tired the next day, that no amount of caffeine and kick her.

So here I am, wide awake like an owl on a Sunday night. I have to get to work tomorrow at 9 and plough through a long day of  work. And funnily the more I think of it, the more I pushed out of slumber. Wish there some button, that would just put me in sleep !!! With HIMYM playing loud out on my lappy and a John Grisham (Rainmaker) compelling me turn a page every time I decide it’s enough…I just don’t find enough motivation to go to sleep. At these times, I really envy Kunal. He can just turn off his whole system and go to bed ! Just like that, all he needs is a decision to sleep. !!! My dad’s case is similar, he can go to sleep anywhere in just about any circumstances. My mom always says, “If sleep comes easily to you, you’re one lucky person”. And now I think how true that is. Here I am forcing myself to bed and clearly I suck at it !

When I was in 10th std, we had one chapter in our Marathi course “Nidra-devichi Aradhana” which means “pursuing the goddess of sleep”. The author went on to describe how difficult it is to get a quick siesta with salesmen hitting the doorbell every other second, or the children mercilessly directing their balls (cricket balls!) to your windows, or your neighbors playing loud music and the worst of all the howling screaming dogs ! That was one funny article ! But what’s my excuse. It’s very quiet here, the weather is comfortable, I have not slept throughout the day, yet sleep evades me.

So now I am going to try a new tactic, count till whatever… do nothing but just start counting and let’s see how far I go before I am asleep (I just hope I am able to note that number somewhere down !).

I will be starting the gym tomorrow and hope that some exercise does aid in sleep induction !!!

 

P.S.: God I can’t believe you guys read this stupid post… I am sure it made you feel sleepy !! Lolz!

sundayNight

 

Grandmom’s going away…

Just a few minutes ago, I read an article, capturing the life that revolves around the old people in our families. I thought it was a very well written article and more than that it truly reflected the angst of the “middle generation”. They are indefinitely trapped and have to yield to their parents and their children and walk this trapeze with such stress so as to not let anyone down.

“While you’re caring for the old, you can’t believe what you’re called on to do and where you find yourself, can’t believe that your time with them will ever end.”- the article says and I couldn’t agree more. I have been a part of such a family where we all had gathered around and tended my grandmother in her last days. I have seen my parents struggle to catch a moment’s relief and their wholehearted commitment to caring and tending for my grandma.

In India, honor of the parents is one big deal (righfully so!). And so, when the doctors told my dad, that they couldn’t really help my grandmom and she should be admitted into a terminally ill patients home- my dad took offence. He would not abandon his mother when she most needed him, and we decided that she is going to stay with us till however long it takes. I remember I was in my 10th standard and we lived in a very small 350sq. house. So when my grandmom came home from the hospital, it was me my grandad, my sister, mom, dad and my grandmom’s nurse all squeezed in together. My grandmom had reached the acute Alzheimer’s stage – she had no control over her bodily functions and he speech had become incoherant.  She remember her childhood, my dad’s childhood , her marriage in bits and pieces.

In the beginning it was very frustrating for me. All my time was now divided between studying and listening to my grandmom howl in pain. I used to feel as if my parents had suddenly stopped caring about us and that my grandmom had become the center of their lives. My parents never once told me and my sister to really help them – they would bathe my grandmom, my dad would come home from work every afternoon to feed her lunch with his own hands. my mom would change my grandmom’s clothes, her diapers and catheters . But while they were so involved in my grandmom, me and my sister did feel neglected at times. One day, when I was particularly in a bad mood, I just yelled at my mom telling her why don’t we put my grandmom in some home – and an unexpected “faaaaaaaaaaaat” came across my cheeks. And then my mom started crying. She told me that my grandmom doesn’t remember her at all. She doesn’t remember my father’s marriage, my mom’s name, my mom’s little things that annoyed her so much. Imagine her frustration, giving her time and soul for a woman who is never going to recover and who doesn’t even remember her. My mom said, that you are thinking of your grandmom as a patient, think of her as this wonderful lady who has pampered you and fulfilled all your needs, who has loved you unconditionally and perhaps you would see her in another light. It is at that point, I realised how much my parents needed us – they didn’t need us to help them with the daily chores, they expected us to support them and that later in lives, when they would need, stand by them just as they had done for my grandmom.

I remember one day, my grandfather getting mad at my grandmom becuase she was refusing to take medicines. My grandmom (in her rare spell of memory) shouted back saying, “don’t you yell at me, all this things you see, I got them in my dowry”…and my grandfather simply cowed. !!! Those moments, soon became the highpoints of our day. My grandmom, would talk endlessly, and we would try to hear if she was spilling beans about any other family members. And surprisingly she would do that all the time. Of course, it was not meant for us to know – but it was fun. She would speak of an aunt who would dance for her husband, when he was angry or her step brother who promised to be there, but who ran away from home when he was barely 14 or her grandmother, who hated her for being dark skinned. Some stories made us laugh, and some storied made us realize why my grandmom was what she is.  But while we made a sport of my ajji’s illness (I am not sure if it was right ! but it was fun!), we knew the clock was ticking.

And one day it happened. I remember it was lunchtime, my dad had come home to feed my grandmom. It had become a practise in our house, to add basil leaves in water and drink that water (for health reasons). My ajji’s head was rested in my dad’s lap, and she had eaten few morsels and then wanted water. My dad took a spoonful of tulsi-water and gave her and my ajji breathed her last. This was the best death anyone could get, all of the family members gathered around and the last drop of water from her son’s hand. The son who stood by her mother throughout lifetime, the daughter-in-law who stood by her son, the  husband who was rubbing her feet, and we the grandkids telling her some story… And at that point I realized my grandmom was so lucky.

And I also realized how it changed my life. I became more respectful of my parents. I received first hand lessons, in being the perfect child for your parents. I realized how to become one helluva, tremendous supporting wife. And the biggest learning from it all was, death is going come – sooner or later – the journey becomes lighter if it becomes a joke !

P.S. : here’s the article I was referring to http://newoldage.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/03/22/suddenly-theyre-all-gone/?src=me&ref=general

“First” Accident

Today, I met with my first car accident. Nothing serious or hazardous or not even life taking. My car hit the wall in the parking lot and the bumper came out. NO! My life didn’t flash before my eyes, as I was already on feet making the next move, inspecting the damage and calling the rental company. I would be lying if I said I was not scared, I was concerned about the damage costs that I may have to incur but I didn’t for a moment panic. In fact, after reaching home I called my boyfriend, and the first thing that I said was  “Happy first accident day to me”. !!!

What amused me is not the accident (hey…i am not some masochist, who enjoys the dark and depressing !!!); but the timing of it. Just in the morning, I was saying to myself that my life has fallen in a rut and routine. Somehow, the novelty of life has passed away and there is nothing new to look forward to. I was already feeling so old.  The era of “firsts” seemed to have faded – no more first class, first job, first home, first kiss – all the firsts are done and what awaits are the lasts. So basically, all I was looking for was some sort of excitement that would remotely kick me out of the soporific day. And viola! when the wall and the car, hit each other and I was jerked out of my monotone. I got my “first accident”.

And now I realize, how ridiculous I am ! The era of firsts will never get over – as long as you continue to live; something new is going to happen. All “firsts” are not momentous; but  they sure do accelerate your mind. One just needs to be on a lookout – for these “firsts” that happen without trying – just by themselves. These little moments are the ones, that are going to warm you up and make you smile. I say this because I know – the first thing my boyfriend said after the accident is “Don’t worry, it’s alright… is the wall okay?” and I just burst out laughing …

So my day did look up in the evening. Soon I will be at the rental office, trying to negotiate the price I have to pay for this “first”… but what the hell – what’s life if not an accident !

Live, Love, Laugh

This is not my first blog… but the first one on wordpress; and I think it makes sense to inaugurate  with the 3 most important elements in my life – Live, Love, Laugh !!! I strongly believe in YOLO, and when you have just one shot at it; why waste time in cribbing and complaining. There is no formula or rules for life; you have just got to try and test it. It’s okay to screw up, it’s okay to lose, to be embarrassed, to be hurt – but as long as you continue to live, spread love and laugh off everything that makes you sad or happy – chances are you would sleep soundly – it works for me; hope it does for you too !

 

foam

foam