Saturday, September 10, 2011

A Letter to RK Narayan


R K Narayan

Subject: I wish you if you were here...

Dear Sir,

If you were present in this world today, I would have written you a letter at least a week. I would have looked for your number or would have dropped in your house to seek answers to some of the very simple question that I have been asking myself. The questions are similar to the questions that those characters in your book ask themselves, those characters through, whom you have been still speaking your mind to us.

I have recently read your ‘The English Teacher’ which kept giving me a hint that the protagonist is going to be alone soon and then he becomes lonely and explains his loneliness so beautifully at the end. Sir, I have been reading you and every book of yours has made me realise that ultimately everything boils down to what ‘I’ want. Your characters are always in pursuit of their ultimate goal, they are alone in their journey yet they are in love with people, places, simplicity and they speak their mind honestly.

When in English Teacher, Krishna thinks that he is doing nothing but filling his students’ heads with crap, I could relate to him. When the guy who completes his ‘Bachelor of Arts’ goes haywire in finding what he really wants I could relate to him. When ‘Guide’ covers up his mistakes and only lives in his self interests, I could relate to him and When the protagonist who is ‘Waiting for the Mahatma’ becomes vulnerable and lets his mind get influenced by an ideology just to impress and satisfy someone else, I felt as if I should tell him that he is not alone.

Sometimes I wonder how you could understand people and their feeling so well. Is that because you were very honest with your self or people were very honest with you. For me, everything today has boiled down to confusion.

Sir, do you know that when I close my eyes, I see almost 100 forms of myself! One of them is climbing a difficult wall but she is well equipped to do so. The other is sitting at the beach, watching the sun set and writing a poem, another one is waiting for a politician to take his quote. There another one, sharing knowledge with hundreds of youngsters. The one form I desire the most of me is walking hand in hand with someone into an endless, natural road invading forests, taking us into oblivion. And one is reading you and understanding herself through your characters.

Just like your characters, even I am alone, waiting for answers of several questions. I am in pursuit of something that I am not sure about. I am loved by people but not realising its intensity but my state is unlike your characters that lose their way in the middle and then…they discover themselves and then the need for money, love, company, job, status for them become secondary. Something else emerges inside them which is more meaningful!

Kindly tell me how you made it happen, Sir? If you were here, you would have asked me to look within and find my answers…But I wish if you were here to tell me…


Yours faithful explorer

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Kaleidoscopic Vision: a colourful night in Mumbai

Once the sun sets and series of yellow streetlights are on, something new awakens in the city that actually never sleeps, under the bright yellow lights I saw a sepia toned Mumbai, where every colour looked as bright as shiny and as deep as its meaning. As I sat in the black and yellow taxi at Sion, it felt as if I am wearing kaleidoscopic glasses as every aspect of this city at night looks different than ever.

I could see the place of pani puri wallahs was now taken over by the Bhurji Pav wallahs. Eggs were neatly arranged in the blue and red carts and bread loafs stacked besides them.The eggs crushed on the oily pan looked yellow, a little dark due to the sprinkled pepper and sported a green colour in between with the spicy green chillies. Even while sitting in the taxi and being far, that colour of Bhurji dipped in oil made me almost smell its pungent, spicy odour.

The stretch that is between Sion and Mahim is as colourful as it can be; the taxi driver was driving carefully as we entered the part of Dharavi. I could see men mostly wearing white caps, women covered in black strolling the streets, it looked like an old black and white film but I couldn’t ignore the five coloured flag representing an ideology from nowhere in the side of the road, to be honest it looked very lonely in the midst of black and white.

As we moved further I saw a red sari, glittered nail polish and golden bangles, they covered a dark body and a wounded soul, that body had eyes, deep black eyes. “She belongs to my kind” I thought, “a kind that I am most afraid of.” As I passed that figure I thought she dissolved in this night making sepia tone darker, how many nights she must have dissolved in, I didn’t know.

Suddenly, I realised that I couldn’t recognise the road i was on. It was dark, and all I could think of was colour red, red for danger, as we entered small lane, it was crowded by group of young men giving friendly curses to each other, it was 11.45 and I found the man in khaki who was driving taxi was unusually talkative. My spine went cold and the sepia tone was now turning in to dark brown as the manhood is capable of making life colorless within seconds in this symbolic society and suddenly i reached the holy road.

The LJ road of Mahim is as holy as any road can be, it starts with the Mahim church followed by the Darga and Shitaladevi temple, at night these holy places look like standalone pictures of old building. I could see the stack of small statues coloured in blue, white and red of Jesus Christ left uncovered due to the sea breeze in front of the church. Somehow my spine came alive as i saw series of familiar streetlights, the unusual journey ended but I am still not able to remove those kaleidoscopic glasses.

Every colour in life whether dark or bright represent emotions...some colours have got deeper meaning, some have the capacity to hide several things!

Monday, June 6, 2011

I wish to write an ordinary story

I want to write a story about a woman who travels everyday in the local train and uses that time to remember god by reciting Jay Jay Ram Krishna Hari, she recites at least 100 times.

I want to write a tale of a mother who brings her mentally challenged child at least twice in a week in children’s hospital that is there on the second floor of my building.

I...wish to know the story behind the person who stands for at least 8 hours making Kababs in a nearby restaurant; I would like to know if his tireless efforts make the Kabab desirable.

Today, I feel like writing an ordinary story of ordinary people. Story about you and perhaps a story about me!

To tell you the truth, my story is not even ordinary. I am not capable of reciting god’s name. I do not have another life depending on me (I can barely handle my own) and I am a soul that is still searching the purpose behind the work it’s engaged with everyday.

It’s like one of those curious cases when your childhood, amateurish dream actually comes true and then you come to know that the idea of dream was better. Then you start feeling unsure about everything because the thing that you were most sure about all the 21 years of your life turns out to be something entirely different and here the story begins!

When we read in extraordinary stories that how extraordinary people whether real or fictional, always emerge from his or her lows, from mud to touch the sky, but my story is different, the story that I wish to write is about sustenance. It’s about a plateau, a poised situation in life where anything and everything that a person does, he or she feels “’s not working out or this is how its going to work out.”

I wish to describe that frustration, that very feeling that you are a looser or failure. I want to give words to the feeling that every ordinary person must be feeling when he is choked in fear of life, fear of failure, fear of social taboo, a fear of god...a fear of death. I wish to include in this story how every second person cursing the current situation reaches a point where he feels “it’s never going to work out ever” and still is able to motivate him or her to pick up a bag and reach office.

Every day when I go home walking on my holy trail from Office to home...those 15 minutes, I guess fate always takes them away from me and makes me look around, it makes me appreciate the efforts made by people to live that very ordinary life, it shows me those people who have learned to enjoy the poise, a stagnant stage of their lives.

Well, it’s not easy to be make yourself understand that this is it. This is what your life is and it is going to prevail till the very end and whatever exciting may be in life will come with certain limitations.

I wish to write such an ordinary story...


Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Let the discontent be phased out: it’s just a beginning

From the mountain the valley looks beautiful...when you stand in the valley and see up to the mountains they look beautiful from a farther distance...then you taken the route and start climbing it and they reveal their actual tough nature and brings out the best in you...Yes, the best of your stamina, your fighting attitude, your rigour and passion and urge to reach the top and see what beauty you left behind in the valley.

Well, what amazes me is that the point where you start climbing from looks so beautiful after sweating off your life climbing that mountain; isn’t everything feels and looks beautiful from farther distance?

But bet you, I enjoy climbing mountains more than running between CST and Churchgate to look for stories. It’s better to see a valley filled with natural beauty rather than entering an empty room in state exactly the same that I leave it every morning.

So, here I am... I am feeling what I never thought that I would be feeling...a quarter life crises .To be honest it took me a 10 day leave, an exam and a trip to Mahabaleshwar to cool down my temper, to vent out my frustration and to believe that world has not come to an end. Now, as my nerves are under control I feel as if I am foolish to waste my time in being frustrated and there are so many things left to do in’s just a beginning and mind you ‘life’...ahh that is a big word.

But what happens when you continuously feel discontent towards what you are doing. The discontent that lives within you and makes its presence felt through tears, fights and zingers that fly out of your mouth. This discontent makes you believe that you are not innocent any more, you have no room to make mistakes and the discontent that tells you what you are doing is not enough...

“How much you think Girl, leave it, just chill don’t be impatient” they say...

“Things will change, don’t worry it’s just a phase that is going to pass,” I advice to myself and my friend who is feeling the same!

So is it like nothing that is revolutionary, interesting and worth achieving will phase out and some extraordinary opportunity will come my way and change my life?

Ahh my ultimate realisation says...Dreams are better seen when your eyes are closed. The couple of things that i have learned from last 10 months is that nothing comes your way and nothing can be achieved by you...what you have to do is sustain, fight and prove. My realisation tells me it’s a constant’s an ever rising mountain, if I conquer it I will able to see the most beautiful valley in my life.

So to all those in quarter life crisis...let the discontent be phased are capable of getting what you decision is what matters.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

On the occasion of Mother’s Day...I can see you in Me!

Today, 8th of May is known as World Mother’s Day! Well, for me every moment of my life is a mother’s day. When I look into the mirror, I always wonder did she look the same when she was my age.

Today if my mother would have been there she would have been nearing her 50s and she would have never shared he age and weight with anyone! I remember how she used to tell me not to mention to my friends that she has joined gym or dieting to reduce weight. I remember our frequent and secret trips to the Balaji Pani-Puri and Bhel centre nearby our house during her dieting days.

Haha...i remember her scolding me while i was digging into the sev-puri one day and spilled it all over on my dress, “now what would your father think looking at your dirty dress? He doesn’t know we are here.” And i had answered with epitome of innocence that “ohh don’t worry Aai, I will tell Baba that you didn’t eat!”

I remember my trips to the market on her Black kinetic Honda which used to make horrible sounds and it still does as my father uses it. Even if i still hear a kinetic Honda I feel like running up to the door and asking her “Aai, what have you bought for me today?”

There was always something, a kayani cake, Pattice from Hindustan bakery or crème rolls.

Huh...right now I feel like I will explode writing this blog as there is so much congestion of feelings, memories and thoughts within me. Even after 10 years...even after growing up into a 21 year old girl, even after finding a career path I miss being 13, I miss my school days, i miss my home and her which has never been the same again after she died.

Her memories within me have no grief in it, no regret; I can only remember her as a woman of substance, an achiever to whom everybody back in Pune remembers as a good woman. But what I loved the most in her is her polite, sweet and sometimes a childlike behaviour (not to mention her endless attempts to lose weight!)

She is the one despite not being around me has made me believe that i can love, I can feel and i can fight...I will try to fulfil your every wish my beloved mother ...ahh but forget about getting married at the age of i have already crossed that age (and I do not wish to destroy someone’s lifeJ)

So...Happy Mother’s Day...I can see you in me every day and it will remain the same till the very end.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Those are the ‘words’ that will lead you to freedom

Have you seen the movie called ‘Freedom Writers?’ In which a hopeful and aspiring teacher transforms the bunch of hopeless kids, how? She uses the most powerful weapon...and what is that? Well...Words!

Miss G, as she is called in this movie makes her students write, read and listen the words full of hope, virtue and belief. She simplifies the chaos in a teenager’s mind into paragraphs written in a diary.

What is in words? What can words do to a human being? Have you ever realised that all our relationships define and sustain on the words we use? We call somebody our friend—which is again a word and share some words of friendliness with him.

You call someone a Father and what you get in return is love...what i have realised somehow is that a relationship with anybody will prevail if that person is least bothered about how you say to him but listens with open heart, what you say to him and sometimes stands beside you, speechless just to let you know those cosmic words which are unspoken yet conveyed through eyes, a simple touch or a smile. When we finally experience this all we do is to collect these memories in mind and convert them in to words to share with someone else.

Watching those kids in that movie troubled with racism, gang wars and constant gunshots, open their hearts in a personal journal and express the meaning of fight, chaos and how they miss their friends they have lost in the futile gang wars, have made me write this content. And when i wonder why, my memory of the first diary that i wrote comes back to me.

I guess I was 15, just passed my SSC exam and got a diary to write in vacations...what i wrote, i clearly remember was about my family and how much i used to feel alone, How i found everything was a lie and nobody loved me. I have no idea where these thoughts came from and how i tackled them later on but these few written words still make feel a little guilty about those feelings but that belief of expressing myself, being true to myself in a diary lifts me up every time. I can lie to the world, and i certainly do so but how can I ever lie to myself...what empowers this feeling is few words describing the truth.

When you see something else and you get to write the contradiction because of the human made norms-- give words to the truth you know, give words to what you feel, let the words flow in the format of your emotions and let them explain what is most important to you.

I bet, you will score ten on ten in this exam and the word ‘belief’ will enter in to your score card of life!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

A billion dreams...but I was heartbroken...

They boarded the train from Khar, I was amused by their behaviour.

While sitting on the board, they were intrigued in their conversation. The eldest was holding one magazine, ‘Cricket Samrat’...

“ye Dhoni hai...or ye pata hai kaun hai?” asked the eldest to two younger ones.

“Gary Kirsten...aur ye Yuvaraj!” said the younger one.

I was amused by these three lost little boys, dressed in wrenched cloths, dirty, stinking and who, I guess didn’t know how to read. But they knew who is Gary Kirsten, and how does he look. They were more interested in looking at Yuvraj’s several pictures clicked during world cup and discussing about him. A billion dreams, this was the title given by the newspaper I work for to its world cup campaign, I have never understood how one game keeps a nation going. To be honest, these boys should have been in school, studying about how this country has sustained its unity in diversity, its national game is Hockey and Mumbai –where they wander in, is this country’s economic capital!

I wonder about these billion dreams...where are they heading.

A world cup victory, Anna Hazare’s fight and India’s youth standing against corruption at one side and on the other dropping number of a female population in the new census, series of scams and how right to education haven’t even reached 20% of kids in the country!

While looking at those boys gazing at photographs of their heroes, I wished at that very moment, I wished from bottom of my heart if they could read what Dhoni said after the victory...if they could read how Kirsten inspired Indian team. How i wish...

Lost in thoughts I left the train and looked back at the boys, they did not care which station came, probably they did not know their destination... but while looking at Harbhajan’s picture, they knew he is bowling a dusara!

All I could do is to smile at them...somehow; this victory which has won billion hearts was making me feel heartbroken...

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Interpretations of my dreams...

I have been wondering about this for a long time now...My dream world? How would it or blue? Would it be like a smooth trail paving through thickets reaching the point where I can see nothing but a valley and the endless sky!

Ahhh, actually my dream world sometimes do feel like a dimly lit, painted in white— ballet dancing room in which every movement is slow, graceful and elegant! In which happiness prevails with broad smiles and shiny eyes. It is a world where people rejoice.

Yes, I confess that I spent half the time at night constructing my own dreams with some people i hardly talk to and in the world which I have hardly seen.

Well, there are people who always tell me, “Grow up Neha, you are going to be 21 now, life is not as smooth as a dream.”

Well as far as I am concerned’ Dreams’ have helped me to listen to the lullaby of life. Dreams were my inspiration and day dreaming about anything which may mean nothing to the real world and people has done wonders for me.

Whatever I am today is the result of my series of endless dreams during graduation years and I think my dreams have already started shaping my future.

I dream of becoming a writer one day,

I dream of going to watch fire crackers at London eye.

I dream to roam Ladakh with a backpack and a friend!

Ahh I dream of owning a house on top of the mountain...

I dream of meeting a man, who will understand my conversations within.

I dream...

I had heard from someone that dreaming and making dreams a reality are two very different things.

Life itself feels like a dream...and ‘living’ feels like a dream run when everything is in place...

It’s been four years; I have been staying alone and dreaming.

I have realised that every interesting person that I see then he or she may be a person sitting on a footpath with expressionless face and a lost sight automatically fits into a fictional character of my dream...which leads to a concept and then a fictional piece of writing!

It’s been days i have written a fictitious story...ahh i guess it’s time to dream...

Saturday, January 8, 2011

When freedom comes at a terrible cost!

It’s been quite a few days since I have written something without a proper structure, good intro and a word count! And it’s been many nights since I slept without even thinking about my dreams!

In my case I end up forming my own dream rather than experiencing one subconsciously. But today while cleaning my house one thought captured my mind and that was about one person.

A person whom I was a little rude with (I justified it given the amount of irritation caused by the person, but I still feel the guilt.)

She was a lonely lady, always cribbing about being alone! Not loved by anyone anymore, a lady who missed her husband, son and grandchildren every minute of her life. She was one of those people who never considered other people to be good human beings.

And one fine day while performing her daily prayers she said to god, “Dear God, these days i forget anything and everything please don’t let me forget you...!”

I was amazed by her thought, she was smiling at her favourite gods framed and kept on a shelf.

I have heard this lady whine about not giving her a girl child, “girls love their parents, they never let them be alone,” she used to say!

She always told me that with money you can get everything what you won’t get is love.

Ahh...this 85 year old, my land lady of course!, whose past and present and everyday routine which I used to hear every day for at least 10 times fell from her bed due to a paralysis attack. It was the thing she feared the most.

I did what i had to! First time i was covered in someone else’s blood. She was saved!

When i went to meet her at the hospital after couple of days, she was bedridden, paralysed and could hardly speak asked me, “Neha, have you informed the milkman not to deliver the milk till I get back?”

“Yes” said I and left the room. Today she is gone to her relatives, she has got company and she probably recover. But she still lives in each and every corner of this house. Each thing shows her behaviour, her attitude.

When we learned that now we are the only guardians of this house. We couldn’t rejoice. We got freedom, we don’t have listen to any cribbing and bitching as well as there are not restrictions yet we couldn’t breathe free.

And then my roommate suddenly asked, “Isn’t it difficult for a woman to suddenly leave her 60 year old household?”

Not single conversation of ours ends without her memories.

I have friends who envy me for staying alone. But the truth is staying alone with the loneliest lady you possibly know in your little life of 20 years was a challenge! My ultimate realization tells me how much ever you hate a person, how much ever you want to get rid of him or her, that person becomes a part of your life and impacts you the most.

It’s hard to enjoy freedom which is gained at this cost! But I guess ‘such is life!’!