A desperate woman clutches on to apps

I’ve turned 29 this week. That is incidentally the number of incomplete drafts on this blog. I’ve lost all ability to write more than 100 words if it’s not for a presentation or a plan or an email. Hence I’ve decided to try and push myself to write something everyday.. as often as possible using some form of prompt. There’s many word-of-the-day apps to help with that. I’m not going to push myself for quality and length right now but for quantity and practice of writing more regularly. I am guessing my writing might improve in quality if I wrote on non-work related things more often.

I realize that the title might make it seem like Tinder is needed more than word of the day chrome extension. But well, here you go.

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Frenzied/Sleepless

I had too much caffeine in the day. These days, 2 cups means too much. Which meant I couldn’t sleep at all. I worked, wrote emails, read reports, few articles, an unfinished book, got random ideas for work and wrote them down in the dark on my phone, daydreamed while I should be sleeping, but still no sleep has happened. I could go on reading, but my body and brain revolted against all the reading. At the same time, they were not being any friendlier towards sleep. This has been happening for the past few days.

I was sleeping a good 7 hours during my holidays. I had only 1 cup of coffee and I was walking a lot. Now that I’m back, the proportions of walking and caffeinating(?) have changed. Thus this spree of sleepless nights.

And a lot of sluggishness through the day. I think the cure for it might be going for a whole night and a whole day of sleeplessness to reset the clock. I’m going to try it for tomorrow. And stay away from caffeine.

The thing about such nights is that the brain gets a lot of thinking done, even though much of it is in a state of fantasizing about the future. There are moments of inspiration, with truly brilliant ideas and leaps of thought. And you want to hold on to them and put them down into words, but the harsh lights of phone deter you from note-taking. At those moments, I wish there were ways to have your thoughts typed up automatically. And then have a way of editing them into coherence.

Unfortunately, I’m not living in the future. So I did take my phone out to jot down all my crazy ideas about work when I got to thinking about work-life balance. And no matter what I forced myself to think about, it all came down to be related to work somehow. After a few attempts, I gave up and realized that if I let myself just float from idea to idea, the lines eventually blurred and it all seemed interconnected, meaningful, holistic.

At work, we keep talking about giving children a holistic education. Thought it might be good for me to start thinking of living a holistic life. This holiday did a whole lot of good to me!! It’s made me think that there’s more to life and the world than what I currently see, grasp and choose to do. It has made me think about having some new life goals and I’m hoping that view of life would stay even when storms at work would try to sweep me into their tempting chaos of workaholism.

I’ve been reading excerpts from Insomniac City (seemed appropriate tonight) on various sites and I’m thinking insomnia might be a blessing in disguise. Not just to get more work done, but just more time to do all the living you want to.. It’s not enough to just be productive at work, wanting to have a holistic life means I also want to be productive at life- get more done, suck the marrow out of every available minute and such. But a somewhat sensible voice in the back of my head reminds me that it might be beneficial to also have a somewhat balanced life. It is good to get the right amount of sleep.

But it’s just one of those “right” things I tell myself but never actually do. I love sleeping but also find it a big waste of time. It’s that sort of unhealthy relationship with sleep which means I overdo it at times and then it eludes me for a long while when I need it most.

For many many years, I spent a lot of sleepless nights thinking about climate change and global warming making it impossible for anything to happen during day time and then the whole world will function only at night. So that everyone wakes up at night, goes on about their work and life and love during the dark hours and goes to sleep in the wee hours. I told myself that such a world could come to be soon. Then I’d truly be able to get some guiltless sleep and function at peak productivity. It’s been more than 7 years and the world still hasn’t changed.

There are times when I can afford to stay up all night and not worry about what happens through the day with other mortals. Those were days when life was truly blissful because your work only depended on you and not others. You could live your own life and have your own schedule. But adulting and responsibility and working with others somehow demands that you wake up early. I did that for a while and could see that I got a lot of work done and it gave me a lot of time in the day. I’d be fine with sleeplessness if I could still manage to wake up early and have a productive day, but this particular kind of sleepless makes you less productive than a pebble.

I think I came here to write because this quote from Insomniac city resonated with me in this weirdly raw way that quotes sometimes do.

“The most we can do is to write — intelligently, creatively, evocatively — about what it is like living in the world at this time.” ~ Oliver Sacks

I’m wondering if I should make writing a habit to go with this sleeplessness. It’s more productive than the tossing and turning and thinking aimlessly. Even though I do love the places this aimlessness takes me to. But when it comes to habits, I’m terrible at productive habits. Habits suggest some amount of deliberation and discipline, or in the case of unproductive and unhealthy ones, a complete lack of moderation and control. I’m more prone to the latter kind than the former. So if it writing at such hours is a truly bad habit, I think it will stick.  There are many other bad habits to take recourse to though. Browsing through hundreds of pictures on Instagram, meme-surfing, reddit spirals all compete for attention. But writing this while listening to some Norah Jones has felt much better than doing any of the others. My body is aching now- it’s like my bones want to go to sleep but I’m keeping them awake.

A part of me wants to finish this cycle by going through the motions tomorrow while another wishes for such hours of thinking and writing in the dark and silent hours to continue. I have calls to do in five hours and my heart is beating at an unhealthily fast pace, so I think I should stop rambling now.

 

P.S – A thousand odd words! Difficult to let go of this greed for validation with numbers even in this state!

 

 

 

Ae Dil Hai Mushkil .. Very Mushkil to watch

There’s a scene in the movie when Ayan (Ranbir Kapoor) and Saba (Aishwarya Rai) are at an art show hosting Saba’s ex-husband’s works and Ayan asks if she can understand this art. Because he clearly can’t understand anything. That is how I felt throughout the movie. It is some form of high art meant for rich and emotionally evolved adults, that in comprehending it, my intelligence crumbled like a cookie kept in Bournvita for three hours.

The movie begins with Ayan being interviewed and the whole story is told through the super long and sad interview. Ayan is a rich guy (private jet rich) and is doing MBA in London but wants to be a singer and has a hot girlfriend. Alizeh (Anushka Sharma) is bold, beautiful, independent and rich enough to come to London to recover from a break-up in Lucknow (but not so rich as to afford private jets). And whattey name-Alizeh- Rightly exotic and earthy! She lives life freely the way those with money can do by going for Bollywood dance classes and hot yoga classes and partying and occasionally sitting alone on some terrace to introspect, because she’s also intelligent. She chooses to use all that intelligence to school Ayan into getting a spine, dumping his golddigger girlfriend and instead following her shenanigans to live life with complete abandon and joy . She uses her wit and charming personality to mutter old Bollywood dialogues at the right time in the movie. Because, hey, a fun and intelligent girl is like that only. At first it’s all parties and dancing and fun-stuff which you assume must be fun because it looks so good and pretty in London and Paris and whatnot. It’s like Rich Kids of Instagram in movie version.

We find that Alizeh the free-spirit still loves that ex-boyfriend, DJ Ali (Fawad Khan) so much that she’s returning to him and leaving newfound bestestesteststs friend and puppy Ayan behind to get married to Hot Stuff. Proving along the way that any woman will leave a nice guy for Hot Stuff Fawad. She then invites Ayan to India to be her family as she gets married in the most lavish Nawabi wedding as can be afforded by someone who’s a DJ and a free-spirit. God, how must it feel to have wealthy parents that you can literally do whatever you want? Except of course find true love and all that jazz.

Whenever I’m doing a book or song or movie with my kids, I ask them one question in different versions to see if they can summarize and pull out the essence of the material they engaged with – What is the main idea or what is this about? My answer after the first half was that this movie is about being massively friendzoned. I don’t feel sorry for anyone but myself and the viewers at this part.

At this point, my brain is thinking – What is this, I don’t even.. And then you get Saba who’s a Shayara. She’s bold, beautiful, independent and rich just like our other heroine. She lives in Vienna while writing shayari. This whole idea of poets and artists living in penury and poverty must be a hoax, or must be based on only ugly artists. Because clearly these beautiful artists are very very well-off. No, rich.

Rai’s whole performance can be summarized thus: Look I’m being sexy with my looks and my urdu words even though my facial muscles cannot move at all. I’m gonna bite my lip in every scene and make-out with Ayan everywhere because we are passionate artists.  Again, this might be high art. Her performance is so understated or subtle or some such thing, that there’s more meat and meaning in her Loreal ads.

There are awkward scenes which I’m guessing are supposed to be emotionally intense or deep or whatever, but just make me say – Bas hamse na ho payega. 

Towards the end, the movie devolves into some complicated love quadrangle that my brain cannot describe with words. The movie is reminiscent of all Karan Johar movies and all those movies where modern young people and millenials have first world problems coming in the way. Music from his previous works play at some opportune moments, so I don’t know if it’s some major spoofing happening, or if it’s some clever attempt at irony or just done because they can.  If this is how modern love is, it sure is a megaclusterfuck. It’s very difficult to like any of the characters perhaps because I have the emotional intelligence of a porcupine.But the characters themselves display the emotional maturity of a protozoan.

Then there are these lines – oh god, the lines. Understanding Hindi and Urdu is not very easy for me these days, so these lyrical gems are completely lost on me.

Pyar mein junoon hai par dosti mein sukoon hai. Translation : Friendship is chills.

Main kisi ki zaroorat nahi … khwaish banna chahti hoon Translation : I want to be desired, because I’m so sexy.

Ek tarfa pyar ki taqat hi kuch aur hoti hai … auron ke rishton ki tarah yeh do logon mein nahi bat’ti … sirf mera haq hai ispe Translation : I’m going to love you, because I can. I can be creepy, but it’s my right. What you gonna do about that?

Kisi ne kabhi aapko suddenly chaata mara hai … phaat … us chaante ko ishq kehte hai … aur woh chaanta aur zor se padta hai jab koi teesra aa jaata hai. Translation : WHAT THE FUCK? CAN I SLAP YOU FOR SAYING THAT LINE?

I’m sure young people all over will put these as their status updates like they did with lines from Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara and will feel that Karan Johar has given cadence and credibility to their inner most thoughts and feelings. I don’t know why people even have such thoughts.

Even as I write this, I’m still thinking what the point of this movie was. Why? Sure relationships are complicated, but you are just making it pointlessly complicated. This movie made me hate humanity more than I already do.

My review : UGHS. I’m hoping the Vigil Idiot will do more justice.

BUT I LOVE RANBIR KAPOOR AND SHAH RUKH KHAN. OKAY?

Eating your own words

“It’s been 2 years since 100 Days of Writing was published. ”

This is what I saw when I logged in here. Logging in was a challenge in itself. It’s been so long since I’ve come here that I’d forgotten not just my password but username as well. After 3-4 attempts I finally managed to log in and saw this ominous message.

I’d promised myself that I’d write slow, write long and write different. I’d also thought that if I wrote 2-3 times a week, I should reach a 100 posts in a year. I thought I was quite good at planning. No, I’m pretty sure I’m good at planning. When it comes to actually making it happen that I lose all that steam and focus. I’ve been wanting, wishing to get back in shape for years now. I get into bursts of healthy eating and exercising and then poof. Work and work travel and other more important things take over. For some years now I have been bemoaning my very visible lack of social life/personal life or any sort of work-life balance. But given a choice, I always stay home and work. Hell, this Friday I was returning from Bombay and on the way I wrote a long, personal and thoughtful email to my team. I considered that as writing. It took me considerable time and energy to write, so it feels like an achievement.

I am either a person with no commitment or inexcusably lazy. Both might be true. But I know I put in a lot of effort into work. 5 years is not a long time, but for me it’s a big commitment. Doing anything for that long feels like a big deal to me. But my commitment to worse habits has been on for longer definitely.

As part of my job, I help people identify patterns of thinking, analyzing habits of actions and thoughts to derive what needs to shift. I read everything and anything on the subject, from the best-selling quickies that tell you you can build a habit in 21 days to the obscure legit ones. But clearly I haven’t applied that to myself. After crashing at work and being diagnosed with fatigue that led to hospitalization (yes, fatigue is an actual medical diagnosis apparently), I told myself that I’ll maintain some work life balance. As a part of that, I put it on my goal sheet (yes, I know what you’re thinking!) that I’ll write more often. At least 1-2 posts per month. I set that goal in July and obviously I didn’t do anything of that sort. As part of a mid-year review, I was looking at my goals and thus was reminded to visit this sad lonely place.

Conversations with friends tells me that I need to have a life. Get out a bit. Meet people and what not. But all I want to do after a long day at work is netflix and chill. By myself. How to muster energy for social talk, when I do that all day at work. How to pour out words when all of them are regurgitated over countless emails. A part of me tells me I should do less of that, and do a little bit more for myself. But that is a small, unheard part of myself.

Some years back I came across this quote by Alain de Botton : There is no such thing as work-life balance. Everything worth fighting for unbalances your life. And I took that to heart. I do actually believe in that a lot and I’ve done my share of humble-brag about putting all my life into work. Sometimes, I don’t know why I do that. Sometimes, it’s because there’s no other alternative that makes me feel as important or worthy. Every effort I put into work is acknowledged, and appreciated. There’s no shout-out for making time for self. Being the person I am, I would probably judge anyone who said they are proud of maintaining work-life balance. Who’s proud of being able to make time for themselves? What does that even mean? What is the achievement in giving yourself some TLC?

There seems to be enough articles and “research” that shows it might be actually good to not be a workaholic and have some sort of balance in your life. But, there’s enough successful people out there that you see who don’t sleep and don’t have a life. Maybe that is the cost to making any real difference in the world. I seem to have talked myself into believing that there’s some sort of war I’m fighting in which I need to give my mind, body, soul, blood, sweat, tears, feelings, everything. It’s so rewarding to tell myself that I have worked 100 hours in a week. Shameful to say that I slept for 10 hours.

No, it’s not like I’m trying to prove myself as a woman. From the conversations around me, I gather that superwomen are working a 100 hours and being awesome girlfriend/wife/partner/mom/sexylady/warriorprincess for the remaining 100 hours. While I can be quite competitive in many things, I choose not be so when it comes to sports, sudoku, relationships, health and having fun. (The math shows that if you work for 100 hours, you only have 68 more hours remaining in your week!). Wow, that math does seem crazy. So superwomen and supermen sleep 3-4 hours only I assume. Shameful to say that I slept for 10 hours.

Well, I feel old and tired, so I’m no longer pulling off 4 hour sleep schedules if I can help it. But it doesn’t still leave much energy or commitment to pursue other aspects of life. I don’t think I care for it as much, but I end up whining a lot about the sad, lonely life I’m leading. Yet, I stay away from making any commitment to change this status quo. I’ll just wait for another crash, then run away to the mountains and chill.

I won’t make any grand claims to write slow, long and different. I’ll start with something smaller and achievable. Just write. Write however I wish to but spill a few words on this page. This is a rambling piece of writing that’s all over the place. (My brain immediately thought of how I’d evaluate this using a writing rubric.) But some writing, is better than no writing. For the sake of sanity if nothing else.

 

100 Days of Writing

For the past four years, I’ve had these two things on top of my New Year’s Resolutions list:

  1. Write More
  2. Weigh Less

Well, I’ve been consistent with my resolutions, not as much with my efforts.

As 2015 kicked off, I saw someone start the #100DaysofHappinessChallenge or something of that sort on Facebook. I’d seen a lot of people post photos of cake and kittens and tag it with #100daysof Happiness-Day 99. I’ve also seen many people tag photos of flowers and sunsets with #XDaysofGratitudeChallenge-DayY. Which is well and good if it makes you happy and grateful for all things sweet and nice.  Being the gifted whiner and difficult person that I am, I could not imagine putting myself up to any such challenge. But I know that setting up such challenges and sharing them on public platforms are great motivators. My friend, Aditya, set himself a similar challenge (New Stories Five Days a Week) and produced a good amount of interesting fiction in that time. I realized I need to set myself some challenge if I were to ever meet any of my goals. So this year, I’ve decided to set myself such a dare- I call it the #100DaysOfWriting Challenge.  I think I can share my happiness and gratitude, my experiences and ideas, my stories and fancies by writing.

Why, you ask? Well, for starters I think it would make me a better person. There seems to be enough research that shows how writing can make you happier, smarter, sexier (kidding about that one! That one happens when you meet goal #2). I keep starting new blogs because I do love writing, but I never make any time to sit down and write. I wanted to write this post since noon today and finally got down it. Hopefully this exercise will help me resist the temptations of distraction and make time to something that I really value and enjoy.

When you’re on Facebook, Twitter and checking email 24X7, you are consuming information non-stop. When we’re not consuming information, we take irrelevant data sharing to new heights. I recently found this 2015 Reading Challenge which seems quite interesting and is a great way to push people to read. But what about producing? Are we creating as much as we are consuming? Are we spending as much time on writing as we do on reading or watching videos or viewing images?

The other big reason is to simply get better at writing. As part of my work, I see a lot of struggle when it comes to teaching writing to children. A part of it, in my opinion, is also related to the teacher’s skill and talent as a writer. We tweet, we share posts, we text and we send emails. We also maintain journals or diaries and take notes. But how often do we compose and craft deliberately? How often do we fret over our words and fuss over our sentences? How often do we set out to create a piece of writing that we can be proud of?  As I was writing this post and reviewing it, I could see how clunky my own writing has become. I’d like to get better at writing, so that one day I can actually be a writer.

So how will this 100 posts thing work?

Any post I write on any of my blogs, I will tag them with #100DaysOfWriting. I’d also love for others to join this and use this tag. It always helps to do such things with others so that you have some bit of healthy competition as well as feedback.

If I do the math, #100DaysOfWriting means that I write anywhere between 8-9 posts a month, which comes up to a 2-3 posts per week. If I behave, I might be able to keep that pace and post regularly. This should help in forming a habit over the long run as well. I’m setting some rules guidelines for myself so that I don’t cheat do this well:

  1. Write Slow. I must write only one post a day. I can’t reach December and do 3 posts a day to meet my goal. I need to write regularly and also give myself time. I need to plan my time out and enjoy the process of writing. Let the creative juices simmer and flow, instead of rushing to meet a deadline. I have enough deadlines at work, I don’t need to make this become a chore.
  2. Write Long. Whatever it written, must be a substantive piece of writing. Tweets and Facebook posts don’t count. There has to be some real effort into it. I don’t want to put a minimum word count limit, but I’d be ashamed if I wrote less than 300-400 words per piece. (At this point, this piece itself is about 706 words long and I’d like to keep such length!) It’s not that bigger is always better, but the way I enjoy #longreads, I must also attempt #longwrites.
  3. Write Different. I must write different things in different ways. To put it simply, I can’t just ramble and rant for 100 posts. I can’t do only haikus, or only fiction, or only reviews. I can’t keep sharing what I think about someone else’s writing for 50 posts nor can I masquerade sarcasm as satire for 20 posts. I should try new forms, be original and interesting. I know I tend to be whiny and ranty, so I also need to push myself to play nice for the most part.

That’s about it. 3 simple things to keep in mind while I write and to keep me anchored. This piece took me a good hour and bit of rush, but I feel it’s a decent start to #100DaysOfWriting. I hope on 31st December 2015, I can tell myself that I met this goal and set more ambitious goals for 2016.

Goodnight and good luck!

What to do with your time when you are traveling

Sketch by brother

Recently I’ve had to travel a lot and I am trying to figure out a way to best use or waste that time. So today after take-off, I decided to just scribble a bit about what most people do with their time. And what you can also do instead of vegetating.

  1. Take photos of stationary and moving things through stained windows.
  2. Read/ attempt to read that book you picked up last month/ pretend to read something that will make you look slightly more intelligent/interesting.
  3. Talk to random people and exchange life stories. Get a free therapy session done!
  4. Work, because you are too busy and you must be very busy since you’re working while traveling. Meeting deadlines while you are in a  high speed vehicle is its own thrill. (You can spot a Consultant by the white shirt and panic on their faces as they frantically try to work in planes, buses, cars and boats!) 
  5. Eat- the snacks you got packed, the snacks you will buy, the snacks others are eating and the snacks you’re thinking of eating.
  6. Count the stops if you’re traveling by train or bus. Count the number of times flight crew members strut up and down the aisle with food, trash and trash they are supposed to sell.
  7. Write/ draw/ doodle, revel in your artistic side when surrounded by people, for people. Nothing boosts creativity like people-watching, especially when they are strapped to their seats and can’t do anything about you watching them.
  8. Catch up on sleep. Nothing matches the wonderful swaying of trains or the fuzzy whirring of planes to put you to sleep.
  9. Catch up on sleep- that’s the best way to avoid people who want to talk to you.
  10. Sleep, it’s the best thing to do in that time. Unless you’re in a magical chariot with Michael Fassbender traveling through Middle Earth.

I did a bit of 7 and attempted to do lots of 8-10, but it was interrupted by a hoary voice announcing status updates about food, junk being sold on planes, temperature and whatnot every 15 minutes.

Today

Today is Facebook’s 10th birthday.
Today is Saraswati Puja.
Today is World Cancer Day.
Today, Microsoft got a new CEO.
Today, the AAP completed a month in office.
Today, many people celebrated their birthdays along with Facebook.
Today, many people celebrated anniversaries. Just like Facebook I guess.

Today I spent most of my time on Facebook. I found out all these things through it. I had the same epiphany that I’ve been having for the past many years that none of this made any difference to my life, except for pushing me further into a spiral of boredom and procrastination. It’s not like I have nothing to do and have not been doing anything. I have, but it is with the same enthusiasm a bureaucrat employs while moving a file from one place to another.

Throughout the day, I have been wishing for circumstances that would make me work better. I wished for being left alone to my devices so that I could think and write. I wished to be spared the duty of stuffing myself with healthy wholesome lunch that has a crippling effect on productivity. I wished for having people like me to work with. I wished and wished and the day went by.

I read an awful number of things on the web and (realized, not very surprisingly, that I am a huge consumer, but a very meager producer) two pieces that stood out to me. One was about marriage. I have no intentions or inklings about it in my life right now, but I found the article very fascinating. The other was about an application deadline to the Fellowship programme that I was part of and for which I work now.  Thinking about both of these, I found something common and my mind wandered to this quote I had read once and found amusing enough to stick with me.

  Dreaming about being an actress, is more exciting then being one.download (4)
― Marilyn Monroe

I have nothing against dreams and dreaming. I think those are excellent ways to use our time and provide ourselves amusement, inspiration, thrills and whatnot. But it is the only dreaming part which I see often and often. We aspire and dream for ideals. We have very lofty ideas and noble intentions. We believe, with the honest to god innocence of children, that believing in ideals would bring about reality. But we are so blinded by the light from the shimmering surface, we never get to see the deep murky churning underneath.

Take marriage. It is the ultimate fantasy, the dreamland, the utopia of togetherness. I don’t for a second believe that it can never be all those amazing things that it seems to be in print and celluloid (and rare anecdotal evidence). But I also think that there’s lots of hard work, boring moments, disturbing revelations and undignified fights behind the pretty picture.  I know of many many people who have had their “dream wedding” thought out since they were an embryo or something and I don’t understand how. Popular culture leads me to believe this is a girly thing. Sure. I’d like to have a nice wedding day where I can wear a pretty dress and eat cake and be the centre of attention for a sustained period of time. But am I willing to go through the days after that? Probably not. And if I can get the same deal of wearing a dress, having cake and endless showering of attention any day, then I’m set for life.  Hence I am truly confused by this pursuit of togetherness. I am sure there are individuals who strike a good enough deal and are comfortable with such state of being, but considering the number of unhappy twosomes I see, I am more convinced than ever that people love the dream of being married than the actual state of being a married couple voluntarily joined for life.

This brings me to the other bit of news. The application deadline. The Fellowship is a tough programme. It is a full-time teaching position in an under-resourced, low income school that mostly caters to children from disadvantaged communities. And it sounds like such a noble thing to do. It seems so challenging and inspiring. All those pictures and videos of children and teachers, so happy despite the odds. What a truly wonderful thing! And that is what sticks. The big dream. That awe-inspiring ambition to change the country and the lives of million children. But I wonder if many dig deeper to see the hardships behind that dream.

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Having gone through it I know that is a very fulfilling and motivating experience. It has given me some of the proudest moments of my life. I have experienced the thrill of enthralling a bunch of kids with ideas and information. I have learned things about myself and others that I hadn’t before. Forgive the cheesiness, but this has been the most challenging and inspiring experience of my life. But I have also learned that teaching can be very thankless job. It is not just singing songs and correcting few papers and having many vacations. I have had the most cruelly lonely, frustrating and defeating moments within those two years.  I have crumbled under self-doubt seeing a child not learn for months. I have cursed and railed against the “system” while handling endless paperwork. I have stayed up nights researching and making worksheets. Almost every teacher I know in the Fellowship has at some point or the other has strayed too close to starvation and sleep deprivation. For the children? Of course for them. But also to do the job well. Being a teacher is not the easiest thing and being a teacher in the Fellowship ups the challenge a few notches more.

Being part of this to do something good necessitates giving up on life as you know it.

That is a harsh truth to share. But that is unfortunately the truth. Just as being married can change your life, doing this means you are married to your work, your kids and your commitment to make a difference. If having a life means getting a good 10 hours of sleep every day, meeting friends every day to chill and hang or whatever it is that cool people do, watching movies and relaxing and all that, then having a “life” doesn’t always co-exist well with these aims.

We dream very beautiful dreams, wonderful ideals fill our dreamscape. We aim to do what we love. But doing what we want and love, involves doing things that are not always fun, or easy or even interesting. But we forget that in our passion and ambition. Aspiring is more exciting than acting upon things.

Am I saying we shouldn’t dream of an utopia? No. I think we all want to work towards an utopia. But it might serve us well to acknowledge that there is work to be done before we reach Arcadia.

This post serves as a reminder to myself to just get down to work without waiting for my ideal home-office to materialize.

Facing Fears

I know I need to do this. But this feels so challenging, so uncomfortable and so difficult. Like meeting long lost cousins with whom you can’t make any conversation and so you have to keep stuffing your mouth with food so that you have a genuine reason for maintaining stoic silence. Like sitting in an interview where you are nervous and trying so hard to impress that you end up claiming you know seventeen languages including the three your interviewer is proficient in. Like getting jostled on a crowded railway platform where you’re not sure if you’ll manage to board the train with body parts and personal belongings intact. Like being in front of someone you like on a bad hair day that is compounded with zits and bad breath and smelly stained clothes. This is what writing has come to be- utterly uncomfortable and inconsiderately awkward.

The cursor blinks on the blank page waiting for me to type. My brain comes up with a million diversionary tactics. Should check mail. Should look up a certain book. Should look at that author. Should read up on the writing habits of said author. Should adjust volume or change song on shuffle. Should expand my knowledge base by reading obscure things on Wikipedia. Should get some visual inspiration from things other than cats. Should get some laughs from others’ misery and failures. Should watch that cool video of people doing impressive things. Should watch another video. And another one, for ideas. Should allow the internet to make me a writer while all it does is keep me from becoming one. Should go walk around to clear head. Should drink water and coffee to feel awake. Should do everything possible in my power so that I can delay what I have to do.

Just by another half an hour. By a day. By a week. By a month. By a year. In a year you can come up with such a wealth of excuses. There was no time. Too much work. Friends take up all my free time on Facebook. Hangovers took over my weekends. There are so many books to be read. There were so many movies that absolutely had to be seen for the third time. My neighbours are too noisy. My flatmate listens to nasal singers and makes me listen to it. My office has a no-creative-writing policy. My house doesn’t have the right aura. My laptop’s so slow it takes a day to type a sentence. I ran out of paper. My fingers keep slipping on pens. I have no pens. It goes on and on.

And then you forget. You forget you wanted to write. You forget how to. And then you sit in front of your computer, feeling like a dog might feel in front of a dinosaur. Staring at the screen, willing your mind to think. And your mind does think. About the weather. About things on a to-do list. About that dress you saw in the store last week. About that joke you didn’t understand day before yesterday. About the Modern Family episode you saw today. About Gloria’s accent. About what you can have for lunch tomorrow. About clothes in the dryer. About chipping nail paint on your toe. About every insignificant trivial thing than can keep your mind from staying still enough to actually think about anything.

But why does my brain fear writing? Or is it thinking that it fears? It can’t be the latter. I’m always thinking of things. Things, not ideas, but thinking nonetheless. Then it must be the former. What if nothing comes out? What if my fingers get Raynaud’s disease and I’m left incapable of typing a tome? It might also aggravate that condition where pens keep slipping from my grasp! (I just spent 4 minutes 19 seconds looking that up.) What if I keep forgetting words? What if my computer crashes and all that I would have written gets lost? What if something urgent comes up? Like Notting Hill on HBO or Pretty Woman on Zee Studio. Then I can’t afford to sit here and write!

Enough! I just have to sit down and write. Let it flow. The words will come and fall into place. After a few false starts, words scoot and squeeze next to each other and try to make sense of what they are saying. They keep coming, lining up sluggishly, woken rudely from a deep sleep. Sitting squab, dull and drab. I must check progress and see what can be done to improve this writing experience. Maybe I should do something to remove these green lines that tell me my sentences are not correct. Maybe I should go look up some grammar rules. Maybe I should find a better word to replace this simple word and spend an inordinate amount of time proving to myself how I can use a Thesaurus. Maybe I should do some online research to add more details and lend more credibility to the trumpery put up. (Trumpery: Noun. Usage: Archaic. 1. (informal) statements or beliefs that are untrue or make no sense 2. Ornamental objects of no great value) Maybe I should re—re-re-read the measly two hundred words to see if they “flow”. Maybe I should just keep typing gibberish nonsense bunkum codswallop hogwash to inflate the word count? Like I did just now. Maybe I should just hit myself on the head and write. But that might injure me too much to write. So, without further distraction and drama, I shall carry forth bravely.

Alright, so what am I writing about? So far I’ve been writing about not writing and have done a very good job at not writing. I was supposed to be writing about facing my fears. My initial plan of facing fears by writing about it doesn’t seem to have worked out quite well, but at least I now know that I can waste one and a half hour (alright, two!) typing a thousand words (give or take a few words less- thirty to be precise), something which I had claimed should take no more than half an hour at most.

Now that I have at least turned to face my fears, I am sure with little less of internet (and distractions and laziness) and more of time (and efforts), I can fully face them and begin to become a prolific writer. Right now, I have to go ponder the very important question- what movie to watch tonight?

P.S : 4 years back, I’d written a post about How to get over Writer’s Block. High time I took my own advice, or at least entertained it.  

Parting

“If I ever want to get any work done, I will have to get out of this all-consuming relationship. Do you understand…?”

No answer.

“I’m thinking I’ll be better off with something short-lived, something lighter, more fun..”

No answer.

Finally I put it back in its place and picked up a collection of short stories.

The Fuss About One’s Favorite Fruit

I never like them too soft,
melting with the first bite.
An occasional challenge,
yes, even with fruits-
those mute pleasers-
can prove quite healthy.
That first bite of rawness,
crunch silenced by flesh inside.
The reluctantly sweet taste,
eager in its hurry to leave.

There’s a delicate balance,
of surfaces and secrets,
of insides and outsides,
of defenses and welcomes,
of skins and seeds, to strike.
Like caramel eclairs.
Like a crusty sandwich.
Like biscuit and jam.
Like any other mundanely
analogous example.

A twisted little game,
a treacherous threesome:
Imperfect, uncared-for molars,
sly, careful tongue, and
difficult, puckish seeds.
A wicked dirty dance,
pushing and shoving,
dodging and side-stepping;
A battle ending in inevitability,
no winners on either side.

A single careless move,
thanks to the greedy mouth,
disturbs the players’ dynamics
and turns the game around.
A lone slippery seed
with a vendetta of its own,
preying on those poor molars,
makes itself a nice home.
No matter how much it’s coaxed,
it refuses to come unstuck.

The tongue tires of its trials
to extricate the stubborn imp.
The molars painfully impatient,
curse their fates and the game,
and the fruit, and ME!
As if it was all my doing!
And thus begins the charade again,
to promise and commit to and swear,
with fickle intensity and honesty,
that I will never eat a guava again!