Wrote this yesterday out of sudden impulse. Does it impel you to wonder?
Every evening at six, I sit amidst a sea of people in a cafe farther down North. The air around me crackles with words I don’t follow. I can’t distinguish voices, so it sounds like a perpetual buzzing of the air. Mouths move, words are uttered but their meaning gets lost in a haze midway.
I take tiny, measured sips of my coffee, its warmth pulsating in my veins; it is my excuse for silence. The cubicle in which I sit is jammed with practiced smiles- not too much; not too little -and conspicuous gulps. The girl with a ruffled bow has her camera out already.
Someone utters something witty and our close knit huddle erupts in laughter. I don’t. My mind is befogged and I’m trying to focus on the label stuck to the bottle of hot sauce.
‘Manufactured in Hogsmeade.’ Peculiar.
I hook a finger in the collar of my turtleneck and pull, craning my neck slightly.
“Geez,” I glance at the sweater less arms around me, “doesn’t anybody else feel the brunt of December?”
Someone nudges me on the side. I turn and behold a perfect set of eyebrows creased in confusion. Inquiringly, she jerks her head up a little (sensing that my mind was distracted) and attempts to pull me back into the hubbub of the group.
I smile reassuringly and pretend to listen but the buzzing continues. She grins and rejoins the conversation, triumphing at the outcome.
What are they talking about?
I get stuck on a boy opposite me. I wonder if anyone noticed the blotches of ink on his left hand. His eyes are puffy and shoulders are slouching. He looks exhausted and appears skinnier than the last I saw him. But he beams at everyone and clutches his mug tightly, holding on to the warmth he’s paying for.
I look away and peer through the frosted window I chose to sit next to. The street outside is a greyish blur.
“From the other side of this translucent glass,” I muse, “we must be a blur too. Five silhouettes propped against the golden glow of a cafe.”
Glancing above I follow a thin wire of dazzling yellow lights. They hang on rusted nails, hammered several Christmases ago.
I’m about to pursue the trail of lights when something happens. A voice hits me and the world zooms into sharp focus. I’m snapped back to clarity and the crisp sound of slurps and munches reaches me. The conversation is suddenly discernible.
“Did anybody notice the sky this evening? It was a distinct, rain-washed midnight blue and I could already see hazy outlines of stars appearing on the horizon when I walked here.” The scruffy boy opposite me sighs and looks around the table, hoping someone would mirror his spirit.
I smile at him feverishly.
See now the table has my attention.
For a while now and due to some strange impulse, I have been making a list of some pleasures of life that go painfully unnoticed and unappreciated. I decided to jot down every moment or activity that feel insignificant while they’re happening but in retrospect, they’re pretty special.
It has been a month and these are all the things I call severely underrated and that they should be performed often and with more passion.
Freshly baked cookies
Hand written letters
Staring at the clouds
Driving your bike in the rain
Dancing in the kitchen
Your favorite song on the radio
Conversations on park benches
Hot tea on rainy days
Smell of books
A bowl of soup when you come down with flu
New pair of socks
Warming your hands inside the sleeves of your sweater
Dining out alone
Someone tucking your hair behind your ear
Grocery shopping for a special recipe
Rooftops at night
Midnight movie shows
Feel free to add anything you want to this list in the comment section. I’d be happy to know what other small pleasures of life exist in other parts of the world that I’m yet to experience.
Also, do let me know how many of the above things you’ve already experienced.
Let us take a step back and appreciate the little pleasures we are capable of creating and experiencing.
Let’s make this a long list of utter joy.
4 years ago, on a particularly dreary night, I took the decision of starting a blog. I never gave it too much thought; came up with the name ‘Brooding in the Tepid Dusk’ and thus began my journey of writing all the things I can probably never say in person.
Ironically, today I find myself short of words to express how grateful I am to anyone who has ever visited BITD. The real purpose of this blog was for me to open up. To talk about things that I can’t talk about with people around me.
To make sense of the world I live in.
I never thought anyone would ever bother reading what I wrote here. That this place would be a void where I rambled away the confusion in my mind. But in these 4 years, I made so many friends here, interacted personally with so many of you.
I was stunned, that people on this blog not only read what I wrote, but also understood. They empathized and I even received some very loving e-mails from people of so many countries.
It’s crazy how important this blog has become to me. It’s the place I go to when I’m not okay. Somehow, all of you, you wonderful WordPress community makes it okay.
I grew up learning from all of you. I was 18 when I started writing here, when I was going through, what I call the most emotionally challenging period of life so far and this blog got me through all of it. You guys got me through all of it.
I once read this thought that the idea is to not live forever, but to leave something behind that does.
I feel really fortunate to think that if someday I’m not here, at least this little space I created on the internet always will. The things I wrote here will stay. All the people I’ve interacted with will, at some point in their life, remember me.
So from the bottom of my heart, thank you. For assuring me that all these thoughts in my mind make sense.
122 Posts, 841 followers, 16435 blog hits, 1790 shares, 2984 likes.
And I’m only getting started.
I can’t remember the last time I visited Coney Island. Probably because those were the brief happier days, the memories of which seem to be getting hazier now.
It’s unusually chilly today– should’ve brought my wind breaker. I sit on an empty, cold bench on the left, near the side walk. Partly because it is easier to observe all the life from here, partly because it is empty.
There is a sharp, cold drizzle imbued in the air as I watch the twilight melt slowly into the night and the clouds appear to be hanging threateningly low, heavy with moisture that’ll soon pour down as rain.
I finished my shift early today. There weren’t many people in the neighborhood looking for a drink to drown their grief in- so I was free.
After closing for the night I found myself standing at his doorstep, staring blankly at the wooden latch. Uncertain about what may occur if it opened I left, with slow, hesitant steps and lumbered straight to Coney Island- a place that made me happy since I was 14.
I made my way straight to the latte stall and grabbed a warm cup of coffee- keeps my head straight-and sat on this bench from where I’m talking to you.
There is something oddly beautiful about places that are always buzzing with people but are quieter at the moment. I’ve always looked at this place and seen poetry in every corner-even when I was young.
A few people linger around the empty stores, some stare at the brightly lit wonder wheel, leaning on each other. A woman lulls a drowsy baby in her arms, while fumbling with a half eaten hot dog and a bunch of blue and red balloons.
Sometimes nothing can make you feel more alone than watching a place getting emptied of life. The lights being turned off one by one. Shutters being pulled down as people are done for the day. Keys rattle in their fingers as they hum their way home.
The lights of all the stores are slowly dying out and the few people still lingering on the boardwalk are finally leaving, though reluctantly. I gaze at the wagon wheel, still so bright and quiet. Flashes of memories come rushing back- our first picture in the photo booth, our first shared cotton candy-the last left at the stall, the locket whose pendant I still carry with me, our first go at the sledgehammer and how I scored higher.
A smile crept my face.
Sometimes I think the easier the solution to a problem is, the harder it is to fix it. Because we cannot come in terms with the simplicity of it. The answer is right there, facing us, but we choose to look away. How can it be that easy? So we keep avoiding it, until one day, there’s nothing left to avoid.
And because we, as a specie have a habit of never trying hard enough, we hold on to things that are left- things that still connect the two. Like frail, cold ashes of a fire that once burnt bright. Something that once was a part of both of us.
Like our memories here at Coney Island. Maybe that’s why I come here often; in search of some happy memory that, at some juncture of life, was shared and cherished by us both.
Note- This post was in collaboration with the exceptionally talented photographer and my very good friend on WordPress, Robert Doyle. I never understood the practicalities of photography enough to appreciate the technical prowess behind them, until I saw his work. I’ve been a great admirer of his pictures, solely because they are poignant, deep and tend to speak to you in someway.
When Robert first uploaded this on Instagram, I couldn’t stop staring at it. I was immediately pulled inside the picture, melancholy and nostalgia oozing from it. When I write such fictional pieces, like the ones I’ve written in the past, I always picture them happening in a similar backdrop. A warm twilight caressed with cool gusts of wind and a bunch of lights twinkling somewhere in the distance. Pictures that can make you feel the weight of being human.
So when the opportunity arose, I decided to collaborate with Robert and write a small narrative inspired by this beautiful image.
The story you read above, is taking place inside this picture. Our protagonist is sitting on the bench you see on the left side. Hope you enjoyed it and please do visit my friend’s blog.
I have often been ridiculed for my irrevocable love for Jane Austen. Somehow, the people around me cannot adjust to the ‘dreary, jaded and cliched’ stories of Jane, often labeling them as predictable. My love for Austen was ignited when I first watched the 2005 version of Pride and Prejudice where a young, green eyed Darcy (the unbelievably gorgeous Matthew MacFadyen) pours his love for the stunning Elizabeth Bennett (Keira Knightley.)
I knew I was hooked and proceeded on reading all of Jane Austen’s works and found in them, a sense of companionship and understanding. Her stories were soothing and were remarkably successful in extirpating, even for a brief period, any strands of hopelessness or grief.
Jane had a proclivity to bestow upon her stories triumphant, happy endings. In Mansfield Park, she remarks, ‘Let other pens dwell on guilt and misery. I quit such odious subjects as soon as I can, impatient to restore everybody, not greatly in fault themselves, to tolerable comfort, and to have done with all the rest.’
December 18th, 2017 will mark 200 years of her death. If the literary genius had even an ounce of idea of what her books have done, how they’re worshiped, vehemently debated and discussed, admired and looked up to, shared and cherished, read in schools and colleges- all this after two complete centuries- she would beam with joy and perhaps tell us a little more about Darcy.
From the surface, and specially to men who find reading drama not ‘masculine’ enough, her books might appear like a simple, everyday romance.
But her stories and characters are unabashedly real. They don’t exude unrealistic courage or over enthusiastic proclamations of love or betrayal. They’re simple, meaningful and are a precise embodiment of human emotions. Her characters are just as vulnerable, and just as unsure as we are. They struggle with human follies, make sacrifices and learn from their mistakes.
Jane’s world in the 18th Century was plagued with patriarchy and subjugation of women. She was a critic of societal hypocrisy and unfairness and made it evident in her novels with sharp criticism masked in solemn observations and witty remarks. So Jane, through her writing, was secretly rebelling against the patriarchy at that time. She created strong female characters who were capable of standing up for themselves- like Elizabeth Bennett or Elinor Dashwood– a trait not much admired by her milieu.
So personally, Jane will always be my respite. Often when I find myself troubled over an issue, I pick my copy of Pride and Prejudice and leaf through its pages; reading lines I’d underlined and paragraphs that still never fail to appease me.
I like to call her work as the modern day rendition of fairy tales. They possess a remarkable healing ability and leave you with an assurance that things will get better. And when the world around you is constantly plagued with hatred, anguish and cold wars, it is soothing to delve deep into a story that promises, unlike the world around you, a happy, satisfied ending.
I will always be grateful that she graced our world. That she created characters that will stay with me, that I look up to. And for giving us hope, that somewhere in a far fetched land, comfortably perched inside a dimly lit cafe, there is a Darcy waiting for us, equally earnest and hopeful.
You can read more of my work here.
If you wish to watch the best adaptation of P&P, watch the BBC 1995 version. It’s precise, sticks to the book and shows the details.
My ranking of Jane Austen’s work:
- Pride and Prejudice.
- Northanger Abbey.
- Sense and Sensibility.
- Mansfield Park.
Here’s a severely exasperating trend I’ve noticed lately- this deeply entrenched ‘fear of being average.’ Young men and women shuddering at the thought of ending up as anything that is not ‘excellent’ or ‘prodigy-like.’ They’re often seen carrying a gigantic mass of invisible pressure dictated by the more often than not ‘successful elders & cousins’ of their family.
They’re made to measure the success rate of life with numbers.
Percentage. Weight. Stipend. Marks. Net worth. Likes. Comments. Shares. Clicks.
Here’s a food for thought-
Since when did we start declaring anything average as ‘not good enough?’
Since when did we start demanding perfection from every sphere of life?
Why are we so scared of everything ordinary? Why is ‘normal’ not coveted anymore?
As a generation, we’ve been fed such abnormal standards of excellence that everywhere I go, every person I meet is busy staggering and toiling to meet them. We’re all more afraid of ending up not glitzy enough or not ‘Zuckerberg-ish’ enough that we forget to be kind to ourselves in the process.
So what if you are not the sparkling diamond everyone expects you to be? You don’t need to be ‘the best’ to validate your existence. You can tread through life as smoothly and as peacefully as you find yourself capable of.
There is nothing wrong with being ordinary. Just like there’s nothing wrong with being extra ordinary. Be at peace with who and where you are and continue working diligently towards whatever goals you’ve set for yourself, without sacrificing your complicity in the process.
Don’t hurt yourself, physically or mentally in the course of winning this race. Success, you must know, is a state of mind. If you feel happy and content with where you are in life, relish it. Your mind will tell you that you’re ‘settling’ only if you feel that there’s still something that needs to be done. Take a deep breath-and do it.
Don’t be so hard on yourself. There is a life that needs to be lived amongst all the degrees and positions and recognition. There are moments that need to be remembered between the board meetings and urgent calls. Lastly, there is a youth that needs to be cherished between all the semesters and presentations.
I just realized I didn’t exactly propose a toast in the proper way. People, raise your imaginary glasses for the misfits, the ones treading the easier road, the ones who gaze silently from the sidelines and the ones snuggled in their blankets watching Netflix. This is for you.
In my brief span of the last couple of years, a period I like to modestly refer as ‘the awakening’ I’ve been able to deduce a lot of conclusions about life- stemming mostly from my own, often disappointing experiences. I have always had this annoying penchant to be severely critical of every single incident that occurs in my life.
I sit still, place the situation on a table, turn it around and analyse it diligently until I’ve found a possible explanation. I always have to find an absolute answer; cannot tolerate ambiguity. Because of my belief that there is a certain pattern behind everything, I reduce a matter to its bare bones until I can finally answer the question-
‘Where did I go wrong?”
It’s not entirely my fault- this knack for seeking absolute answers. INTJs tend to do that- A LOT.
So here is a tip I discovered during one of my analysis that I’d like to share today. A virtue (as I like to call it) I find myself a pro at practicing:
Don’t get me wrong, I do want the world to be more kind, compassionate and altruistic. But sometimes, you have to take some measures to protect yourself from humans- they can be pretty callous.
One such measures is cold and sullen ‘withdrawal.’
I find it typical and amusing when I notice someone’s childish attempts to try and incite a reaction from me, or briefly stating, to make me care.
I have this ability to switch from intense affection to mad indifference within days. All a person needs to do is disappoint, the transition is almost instant and often irrevocable.
This way, you’re saved from hours of pining and mooning over an individual who clearly doesn’t deserve that much time. You’re not resentful, it’s just the emotional maneuvering doesn’t have any effect on you.
If an individual or a situation is becoming an impediment in your mental and social growth, is stealing away chunks of your time- time you could utilize somewhere better, doesn’t acknowledge your value, exacerbates your anxiety than abate it-, this is what you do- you instantly yet gracefully uproot yourself from their life. The final nail in the coffin, ladies and gentlemen.
Understand, there is way too much life yet to be lived to hand any kind of power over you to someone. Don’t waste time getting offended over things and people who won’t matter in a few years. Don’t give them the satisfaction of being offended. That’s what they want. Don’t fret and whine over ..humans at least find something worthy to sulk about.
Don’t compete with those you subconsciously know are inferior to you in every virtue possible. Let them do the talking, you stay silent, nod and smile. Or better, zone out. I often do that- it really helps. You don’t have to justify your apathy to anyone. If people are stupid enough to walk away from you- be smart enough to let them go.
Trust me, if you can master switching to ‘apathetic mode’ towards those who don’t reciprocate your emotional investment, you’ll live your life liberated from mental unrest or upheaval.
Indifference is a gift, my fellow hoomans. Embrace it. Invest only in those who invest in you. Shock them with your ability to be perfectly unaffected with a taxing phase. Remember,
For common people, a taciturn disposition is hard to come in terms with.
(And if nothing else works out- go find some memes-they always help.)
Note- I’m very happy to let you all know that I’ve begun working with the star stuffed team of Acadman as an Editor. It’s an independent student run website currently focusing on educational advancements and internship experiences for the students of India.
If you have any experience to share from an internship you did, do contact me and I’ll see how we can publish it.
When I was little, one of the many things I waited earnestly for, were storms. They usually hit our city at night, and I used to gobble my food as fast as I could, so as to not miss a second of it.
I remember I was around 7 when I realized I was fascinated with sharp claps of thunder and dark, grey ominous clouds thrusting the wind down upon us. The ferocious, swift gushes of wind. But that wasn’t the best part.
The best part was standing right in the middle of the soft howling and feeling the air pierce itself while blowing against my skin. Realising, that at this instant, I’m in the wind’s way of wherever it is heading.
Staring at the revolting clouds stretched far across the sky, shielding the stars and blanketing the night into a thick, impassable darkness. And the sky is breaking apart while a low, yet consistent boom of clouds can be heard, like an old God is furious and is expressing his disapproval of the human kind. It evoked in me, a certain maudlin sense of satisfaction.
So when today the first storm of the season hit our city, I found myself following the same pattern. Gorging the dinner as fast as I can and then rushing outside, right in the centre of the stage.
I always make sure I walk against the wind; in whatever direction it is blowing, I’m always walking against it. It gives me the feeling like I’m challenging the storm, in a puny way of course.
And no, never once in my life have I been afraid. It always felt like home. As a child I remember, I used to envisage that some day the storm will take me away with it. Somewhere far, in some new, Utopian realm. And I would say goodbye to this godforsaken place.
So my usual walk at night today was wild, like I covet. I stood alone on a stretch of road, with not a single living soul in sight. No lamps, no torch, just the fitful electric streaks of thunder, making the gaps among the giant menacing clouds visible, if only for a split second.
I took a deep breath, closed my eyes and whispered within, ‘beautiful.’
Months after it began, I felt I’d already died. Like one day I had opened my eyes and woken up to blood smeared all over my body and a few dead people lying around me. For a moment I could not understand why was I here; fighting for a cause I did not believe in and for a master I did not know. But a queer, distant force had thrown me into this belligerent commotion and there was no escape but to pick up arms and fight.
When I got on my knees to have a bird’s eye view of the parched, dust laden field I was standing on, there was nothing but a rough land stretching far down every direction. And darkness blanketed the sky where, somewhere in the faded strands of my memory, once glinted the sun. The imminent threat of what was about to pass for a seemingly long time made my heart heavy with grief and even in the coming years, amongst all the steely clinks of swords and the bashing of shields, I’d often pause and look around for a kind exchange – but all in vain.
For years I got so accustomed to the torrid heat, unremitting anguish, dark and threatening crevices with no end, desolate, cold nights with no repose that now when I stand staring at a waning sun, I do not know how to behave. I haven’t experienced tranquility in a very long time, and uneasiness seems to have settled in the narrowest slits of my mind.
Somewhere I once heard, assurance cures uneasiness; assurance from whom, I wonder.
I’ll tell you how it was; hold on for a little longer. A queer game this is and by the time you learn how to play by its rules you’re already on the brink of incorrigible collapse. You learn the art of carrying the burden of helplessness and masking it with pride. You learn how to sit still and hear the world around you softly mewling for help. You learn to appreciate recluse corners.
You begin to look up to the sky often, like a pair of bright, celestial hands would pick you up someday and take you far away-far from all the bedlam.
You start nursing hopes of divine help. Any help. You excel at constructing impressive facades- after all, they’ve protected you all this time. Initially, you try to talk about it, to the ones fighting alongside. But slowly you feel derided and just .. not understood enough, so you shut down, turn inwards and find a listener within.
This is how I fought and waded through years of noise and unrest.
But now, I’m entranced, reader. It’s almost like an ending of a long nightmare. I gaze with longing and gratitude at the freckles of grey clouds dotting the bruised evening sun. A warm rain might wash away some of this angst. A gush of fresh rain sweeps the field and I realise I’m still clinging tightly to my armour, so I let go and take a long whiff of the petrichor rising from the moist earth.
Dismally gazing at the distance I think of who I used to be before the war. I make a silent promise to scour her in the deepest of corners and pull her back. But the question is,
Has anybody who has ever been through war, returned unchanged?
Note- I’ve noticed many of you have been sharing my posts on Facebook. The numbers have been increasing ever since! I’m grateful for the kindness and I thank you so much for this.
But somehow, WordPress doesn’t give me the liberty to know who all share my posts on other platforms. So if you do share it, please let me know in the comments section. I’d love to thank you in person.
A couple of weeks back, while scouring the internet for cute dog videos (because dogs are love-deal with it) I happened to land on a page that described Nietzsche’s theory of perspectivism.
Don’t even get me started on how that escalated.
Now I have read bits and pieces of his philosophies, but never felt like ‘delving deep’ into the ideas he propagated. Philosophers and too much philosophy can mess with your mind.
So after I devoured the Wikipedia page enough to satiate my mind, I felt a certain sense of ..pride? Let me elucidate the point I’m trying to make by using (
Hermione’s) my time turner and taking you back to the year 2014.
I’m a firm believer in perspectives. I feel that people never truly tell you information in its true form, but rather their version of it.
Every person has this window of comprehension. The bigger the window, the wider the perspective. Knowledge that we receive is always torn, bent, twisted, interpreted and distorted by the mind that delivers it. It’s never really ..pure.
This is what I have been believing since the last three years. And now that I found there’s an actual theory justifying and claiming the same thing is unreal! I mean the fact that a small, private and less discussed principle I’ve withheld and believed in for so long resonates with an actual philosophy from, what history calls, one of the greatest philosophers of all time – Nietzsche, is surreal! I think I should be allowed to have a fleeting, teeny-tiny moment of pride?
But if you apply this theory to every piece of information you’ve ever received, it can seem a little scary.
Whatever news you watch on the television, is a version and interpretation of the journalists and the writers, apart from factual information of course.
Like I read somewhere once,‘How do you know your hero is righteous, if you haven’t heard the story from the villain’s perspective.’
Perspectives and point of views can revamp both the connotation and the core idea behind an event.
The book critic might consider Lord of the Rings to be the greatest work of fantasy but maybe it isn’t? (Psstt ..it is.)
So our opinions are limited to our window (or scope) of perceiving it.
There is no truth, there are only perspectives.
One person’s idea of the ‘right’ kind of behavior might not conform with yours?
This entire blog article right here is also a perspective. Care to refute?
Note- Once upon a time there was this weird, ethereal boy in my class. His hobbies included doodling on tables, minimal human interaction and secretly seeking the meaning of the universe. We spent two years in Middle school which consisted of him doodling on the table and I admiring it. That was the only human form of interaction he was programmed for.
Then we lost touch and he left the city.(Or maybe he went to another galaxy to fulfill some strange odyssey?) But years later in 2017 and due to some very peculiar turn of events, we met again! And now that he’s capable of having a human like conversation and even telling me about his plans to open a music store, I can safely vouch for the credibility of his blog, that he’s launched very recently.
People of WordPress, please spare some time and visit my very talented friend Yash’s blog. He has phenomenal writing skills and his comic books (that he creates when he’s on Earth for the time being) are a cherry on the cake. He talks of abstract stuff superimposed with a witty sense of humor, creative metaphors and peculiar diagrammatic representations of kebab rolls.
His blog is:
Do visit and leave a review. Both the writer and the blog mean a lot to me.
Let me ask you a question.
How many times have you been on the receiving end of someone ‘venting out’ stuff on you?
Have you ever been elevated to this role model of impossible empathy that you can no more find people understanding that maybe, at times, you need a friend like that too?
I once read somewhere that you cannot serve with an empty heart. You need to be emotionally balanced enough to soak in the imbalances of others. And frankly, helping people lighten their load, if only by being a patient listener, is what humans, as a community is all about.
That’s how we survive; helping each other, promoting each other’s growth, celebrating the victories, mourning the loses.
But the material point is, I’ve only ever found so many people willing enough to empathize these days. Sympathy? Yes, that is present in abundance. But empathy? The art of putting yourself in someone else’s shoes and trying to actually feel their misery?
That is what lacks.
In taxing times, you don’t need people nodding at you and telling you the ‘wicked ways of the world,’ or that somewhere in extreme parts of the Earth people are starving; that doesn’t quite put their tumult to rest now does it?
We need more people bold enough to say, ‘I’m here for you if you need me,’ and brave enough to mean it. We need more people to re-establish other people’s faith in this morally declining world.
It’s hard being a vessel all the time. Vessel open to all forms of lamentations, grief, agitation and pain and still manage to uphold the countenance of a calm face, comforting eyes and an understanding touch.
But hey, I’m here to tell you it is okay.
I’ve been on receiving end of the laments of a lot of different people. I’ve been the receiving end of the adults in my family.
I’ve tried my best empathizing with people 30 years ahead of me. I’ve heard my much younger friends and tried my best to console.
I’ve listened to strangers online. I’ve even maintained a tolerable disposition in front of people I generally dislike.
I’ve also seen people get gradually distracted and lose sense of the conversation when I’m at the pouring end. I’ve also seen people fidgeting with their cell phone while I eventually, with a few hesitant, muffled words succumb to silence. I’ve seen people lose interest when the conversation is no more revolving around ‘them.’
I’ve also noticed general apathy in the eyes of the receiver.
I’ve seen it and I’ve been quiet. Maybe that’s just how the world works. However, what I observed during this course was, people with the lack of a listening heart, often find solace within themselves. They crumble and crawl inside and eventually find rest within the comforting box of their own warmth.
Eventually, these people stop voicing out and get used, or rather comfortable, finding their peace within themselves. Or to take an extra daring step, maybe in a few pages of literature?
Can you guess why I chose a picture of a lighthouse with this post? Let me know in the comments.
Only 15 minutes before, I was screaming.
Now I’m making patterns in the moist, fragrant sand. Some of it is sandwiched between my fingers, slowly oozing out of the gaps as I tighten my grip. Occasionally, I take a quick glance of the ginormous turquoise body of water in front of me.
It rises sporadically, antagonized by the frantic wind, it rises and rises until all I see is a huge film of translucent water, racing violently towards me. Until, with a defeated cry, it crashes down, sending cold splashes my way.
I cower a little, to save my shirt from drenching, but all in vain. Drops of salt water drip from my lips. Don’t worry, the sun is warm enough today. In one great leap the wave gulped my pattern and washed it away; leaving trails of sodden sand behind. I scrunch my face. Not fair.
My eyes light up instantly. I remember why I was here in the first place. I remember why I was screaming. Hesitating, I turn around to take a glance.
They’re still fighting.
I shake my head and turn to the waters, ‘Will this ever stop?’
Zoning out the sound of the ocean, I hear them having a war of words. They’re yelling and cursing each other. Their voice is rough and beaten. One of them has welled up, the voice has become heavy.
I smile. I know exactly who that is.
The other, however, won’t be subdued. Like always, it is powerful. It stands tall and condescending. It wants to win. It wants to be right. It is bleeding, it is in pain and somewhere inside, a voice asks it to stop, yet it won’t be appeased. Never will it surrender. It keeps on screaming, until it leaps forward and throttles the other. They stagger, fidget and grapple.
One is going to win today.
The brawl continues and I’m about to scream again when I hear the snap of a neck. I turn around instantly only to witness a scene that sends waves of felicity through me. In a war between my heart and ego, heart stood there, bruised, but victorious.
Solemnly, I take out my cell phone, and I dial the abandoned number.
I narrow my eyes and try to make sense of the tortuous blue-black lines, snaking their way through the map of this strange city. The sun begins to dip in the west, emanating pale gleams of warm light, like dying embers of a small fire.
I rub my hands and breathe out some hot air, making me feel like a dragon, only this one exhales air. These dark, silent pine trees make it difficult to comprehend the map; I raise it slightly to catch some light before it finally gets dark.
At last, I make out where I am. I’m almost at the edge of these woods, where my odyssey would end. Longfully I look toward the roughly trodden path, at its end lies my elysium.
I trek and trodd, jump and wade and at last I hear the music. Faint, distant hum of a melody playing from some old instrument. Like a drunk jazz musician, it goes on playing. I’m close.
I make it through the final shrub, and in front of me lies the carnival. Abandoned, unkempt, uncared and nested beyond the pines, this is the place I saw in my dream.
The roller coaster still works as it climbs atop steadily, until it plummets to the ground, in one great leap. The roller coaster is empty.
The bulbs above the desolate trivia game still glow- on and off, on and off.
The screen above the horoscope machine still blinks red- ‘Insert Coin Here.’
The rider less Carousel Horse goes up and down. Round and round the brightly lit centrepiece.
All you hear is solitary music from dying carnival swings. Nobody has been here for a very long time.
I make my way to the place I wanted to go. The moment where maybe I’d find my answer.
I head towards the ominously rotating giant wheel. The wheel pauses and ignoring my fear of heights, I shiver as I lock myself on a seat. The swing immediately powers up and takes me slowly to the top. I see the carnival receding below and the night sky coming closer and closer.
The moment is near.
And just as I reach the top, the swing creaks and halts, leaving me hanging in the air, above the desolate and hollow carnival. I hold my breath and blink. Waiting.
A soft wind blows and sends a shiver down my spine as I finally breathe.
No answer comes.
Nothing but silence.
At some distance in the star studded sky, I see the sparkles of a firework. Someone somewhere fired it up for me? Another one races to the top with its burning tail, finally exploding into the night, sending vapors of fire everywhere.
This moment on this brightly lit, rusted giant wheel is where I thought I’d find you. Waiting for me. On this buckled seat. And maybe, we’d share this together. The distance, the height, the dark, this cold, the spark.
But maybe, this is how it ends and this is why the dream brought me here. Wistfully, I smile. For here it is, that I’ve found my closure.
After graduating in May 1990, Christopher McCandless left his home and all of his material possession for a trip across America. He ‘literally’ burnt all of his money, left his car and lived off the road for two years and walked into Alaska in April 1992.
A lot of people criticize Christopher and lambaste the public for portraying him as a hero. They call him reckless, inconsiderate and even narcissistic.
I could write an entire book about how all these claims are utterly and fallaciously wrong.
The boy was a bright and active student. He did well in class. He read good, inspiring books. He was agile, dynamic and friendly. He even made sure he graduated before he left; hence showing awareness so as to abide by his filial duties before reaching out to his calling. How can people say he was reckless?
The boy carried no IDs, no money, no possession and craved to be off the radar. And they say he wanted ‘popularity?’ If he wanted fame, he would’ve made sure people knew where he was.
Understand, that there must be something more persuasive than ‘fame’ to lure a boy with a bright future to abandon his affluent life and walk into nothingness. There was something more than that.
Even though he died around September, he still scrambled and survived Alaska for 3 months, unguided and alone. He was caught by police authorities several times, and he still managed to escape without jail only by persuasive talking.
And they say he wasn’t smart.
They say Chris had no idea what he was doing. I say, chances are, he knew EXACTLY what he was doing. He was not some hopeless romantic who got infatuated with some book and abandoned his affluent home. He was aware that he might end up dead. He knew the risks involved. He knew that there was a price to pay.
The reason I cannot stop being utterly fascinated with Chris is that I completely understand why he did it. I cannot put it to words, but I know how he felt, what drove him to take the perilous step. What coaxed him to give everything up, to leave them all behind and willingly walk away. I understand how claustrophobic he felt among people. I understand he was mad with the world. I know he was looking for an escape. I know he wanted peace. If I had more guts and less excuses, I would do something exactly like him.
I know what it’s like to live with a mind that won’t ever shut up.
He certainly took some wrong decisions, and there are opinions of his where I greatly disagree, but I still admire and sort of pity him. Even empathize with him. He is exactly the kind of person I could sit and talk with for hours. The people he spent time with during his escapade said that the boy could talk and talk about the things that mattered. He would listen to anything that was new to him. He had a willingness to learn. A never quenching curiosity.
He was loved and missed by everyone he met during his travel. He made an impression on every body. All of them said that the boy was special, that there was something unique about him.
In September 1992, his decomposed body was found by a party of moose hunters.
Wherever he is right now, I only hope he found the peace he was looking for.
I’ve met a lot of people in various groups who read Into the Wild and were rendered speechless. I really urge you to read it. Please. It’s going to change your perspective regarding a lot of things. And if you do manage to read it, please send me an email. I long to discuss this book with someone.
Alexander Supertramp, in our hearts forever.
How are you today? I hope you’re merry and healthy as we descend to the end of a rather bleak 2016. I’m aware this year has been rather morbid, hasn’t it? Or is it just I who feels that way?
I only hope next year brings some light along with it. I think we all need it.
I’m not going to write about anything today. I’ll just talk (or write?)
I had made a point to read as many books as possible this year and fortunately, I did it. I’ve read various kinds of literature and I’m just one book away from finishing every book ever written by Jane Austen.
How cool is that?
And the best thing I read this year was this book I’ve been wanting to read for a long time. It’s called Into the Wild. I’m sure many of you must have seen its movie version. I watched it in 9th grade. If you’re even vaguely familiar with the plot, you can imagine the kind of impact it had on me.
Reader, I watched it thrice. I take the liberty to say that this movie helped me go through that phase, it really did. And now, 5 years later, the book has done it too; helped me wade through this wretched year.
(If you haven’t seen it yet, you should. Personal recommendation.)
Yesterday I finished reading Jane Eyre. Literature enthusiasts would know how popular that book is. In fact, it is the reason I’m particularly sulky right now. The story is so dark and bleak; painfully gripping.
If any of you is interested in reading my book reviews, since I’ve been reading like a mad man these days, you can find me on Goodreads. They’re not very good though, I’m warning you. If you want me to recommend you some books, ping me an email. I’m right here!
I’m a firm believer that every event in your life has a reason attached to it. There are no co-incidences. You go through a phase, or you meet certain people, or you ‘stumble’ upon some particular thing, because you were meant to. There is no stopping that. And however difficult situations get, I’ll never stop believing this.
The fact that the last couple of years have been hard only reaffirms this theory. They were difficult, but they were worth learning from. There was a reason they were difficult.
Also, you will not believe something I’m going to tell you. A couple of months back, there was a moment when I found myself staring at the, ‘Delete Blog‘ button of WordPress. That’s right. I was one click away from saying goodbye to this place. If it wasn’t for this life-savior friend God gave me, I would’ve bidden you all farewell.
But she reminded how much effort it took me to build this page.
So I stayed. (Like the Kygo song. :P)
Perhaps the most trying part of this year was around October. That’s when my dad got really sick. That was the toughest, I swear. Staring at your father in a hospital bed at 3:00 in the morning as his hands are all pierced in needles and just praying he gets well soon is a terrible and devastating feeling. I pray you never have to go through it.
And here’s a tip- Never roam around in hospital galleries after midnight. It’s lonelier than you think. Overall, this year has been weird. I’ve had some heart swelling, delirious days. Most of them have been darker. I hope 2017 is slightly kinder to me and not like a battlefield.
Anyway, I’ll close this preposterous rant now.
This will be my last post for 2016. I hope you all had a great Christmas and I hope you have the most exhilarating year, full of new experiences, new people and more love.
Sending a silent prayer for the world to heal a little in 2017. Love each other people, we all need it.
Here is a fantastic song I’ve listening lately. Enjoy!
Ever since I was a little girl, the one adjective people usually branded me with was –excited. I was always excited. Always chirpy, happy, laughing, flamboyant, cackling- and I always enjoyed it. I’ve always admired and sort of coveted feistiness.
To this day I prefer thrill and excitement over tranquility. Don’t get me wrong, I too desire long walks on beaches and empty coffee shops.
But do I love books?- YES!
But would I sacrifice a day of reading to go to a carnival with daunting rides? -absolutely!
Do I like to sit quietly at parties and observe people- yes!
But do I also secretly crave to dance wildly with the others?- absolutely!
Like my favorite Jane Austen says
‘Elizabeth had a lively, playful disposition that delighted in anything ridiculous.’
This very disposition of mine directly lured me to fantasy. Which is what I’m here to talk about. Since most of my friends think I’m only one hallucination away from being taken to a psychiatrist, I’m obliged to ramble (like I always do) about it on my blog.
I love fantasy. It is perhaps my favorite genre in the world of books and movies. I have devoured the Lord of the Rings series and it circulates in my bloodstream. Sometimes I randomly quote Darth Vader to my mom. At times I try to switch the lights on in my room by saying, Lumos.
I’m trying very hard to learn the Elvish language coined by Tolkien. I literally asked all my close friends to change my contact name to ‘Lord Vader.’ (All of them complied- with a pitiful sigh though.) Half of the pictures in my phone (3000) either consist of mountains and snowy countries, salacious humor or fictional pictures.
Although I seldom try to justify my obsession, my answer to the blatant question is-
The reason I love fantasy is because I crave adventure, in every possible form. I love a rapidly beating heart. I love when I’m out of breath (not too much though.) I love stories about dragons, and goblins, wizards, elves, witches, galaxies, battles, gods, demigods. I love everything- unearthly. It fascinates and beguiles me. And what deeply grieves me is the want to be a part of these stories knowing that it’s impossible.
I would jolly well help Harry reclaim Hogwarts or the Dwarves reclaim the Lonely Mountain than solve algebraic equations. I would prefer a battle with Basilisk or even help Sherlock solve some cases (though I won’t be of much help).
And because my life or rather anybody’s life on this stupid planet Earth can never be this thrilling, I resolve to fantasy. It gives me my share of adventure. And also some very faithful fictional friends; powerful if I may add.
So what is your idea of adventure? Let me know?
I need you to be in a specific mood before reading this post. It’s important. So before you go on reading, I want you to watch this video and listen to this song. Then we’ll talk.
I hope you liked the song. I’ve listened to it 14 times already.
For a long while, I’ve harbored this notion that everybody, in some phase of their life, has a ‘turning point.’ A day, or maybe a month or maybe a year in which things happened that changed you. For better or for worse.
My best friend and I have a code name for this, we like to call it the ‘year.’ Mostly because for both of us it was this one particular year that changed us, completely. So whenever we see somebody in a ‘pre-year’ phase, we shake our heads and say, ‘Oh he just hasn’t had his ‘year’ yet.’
Most of the time, these changes are permanent. This is what hones us as we grow up. This is what gives us our unique personality. This is what makes each one of us different. Anything could trigger this change- One particular incident, a series of incidents, a heavy loss, some serious betrayal, a miracle, serendipity? Like I said- for better or for worse.
Nevertheless, these changes are important. To some they might be heartbreaking and they might miss the person they were before the change. To some, it would almost seem magical.
These are certain periods in your life that are specifically designed for you to learn from. You might not see it on the surface but they’re here to provide answers to some questions you’ve buried too long. They’re here to give you the absolute truth. They’re here to give you your perspective of things.
This phase is what blurs the wall between crudity and maturity. Don’t get me wrong, you’re the still the same person, you still enjoy the things you love, it is just your view that changes. It is your way of calibrating the life around you that transforms.
And I’m going to say it again- it is important. This change, if understood and not resisted, might become your greatest teacher. There is no timeline for the ‘year’ to happen. It can happen at any age.
Some people are lucky enough to have it soon. Most of us have it multiple times in our life. I myself have had it twice. But I’m glad every single day it did. It made me the person I am today. Stronger, more empathetic and more headstrong.
Reflect on your life for once, go back and think about the day that changed you.
You did find something, didn’t you?
P.s- As for the song, I don’t exactly know why I shared it particularly with this post. But maybe because in the video you can see the death of their friend transforming all the friends. Just maybe.
A couple of months back, I read ‘The Diary of Anne Frank’ without the slightest notion of how deeply it is going to move me. Had I even an ounce of idea of the deep impact Anne’s words would have on me, I’d have prepared myself better. Nonetheless, I’m glad I read it. Some of you might have a hint of who she was.
Anne was the youngest daughter of Otto Frank, a Jewish man who fled Germany along with his family and went into hiding after the rising oppression against the Jews in the 1940s. Anne spent two years underground in what she called, ‘The Secret Annexe’ and wrote about her experience in a diary her father gave her on her 13th birthday.
There are certain entries in her diary so hauntingly beautiful, that I was nothing short of bewildered after reading them. Although all her entries are a proof of how mentally strong and capable she was, along with displaying her out of the world writing skills. But there is one particular diary entry, her very last before she was captured by the Nazis, the one that she wrote on Tuesday, August 1st, 1944.
I literally held my breath while reading it. No song, lyric or poem, has ever succeeded in describing so precisely,this disposition of mine, that I find so hard to make sense of, at times. Every single word she wrote in her last entry was directly describing who I am as a person. And because this 15 year old did a far better job than I ever could, in writing about a personality that is strikingly similar to mine, I chose to share it here. This is was she wrote:
“A bundle of contradictions” was the end of my previous letter and is the beginning of this one. Can you please tell me exactly what “a bundle of contradictions” is? What does “contradiction” mean? Like so many words, it can be interpreted in two ways: a contradiction imposed from without and one imposed from within.
The former means not accepting other people’s opinions, always knowing best, having the last word; in short, all those unpleasant traits for which I’m known. The latter, for which I’m not known, is my own secret.
As I’ve told you many times, I’m split in two. One side contains my exuberant cheerfulness, my flippancy, my joy in life and, above all, my ability to appreciate the lighter side of things. By that I mean not finding anything wrong with flirtations, a kiss, an embrace, an off-colour joke. This side of me is usually lying in wait to ambush the other one, which is much purer, deeper and finer. No one knows Anne’s better side.
I hate having to tell you this, but why shouldn’t I admit it when I know it’s true?
My lighter, more superficial side will always steal a march on the deeper side and therefore always win. You can’t imagine how often I’ve tried to push away this Anne, which is only half of what is known as Anne-to beat her down, hide her. But it doesn’t work, and I know why.
I’m afraid that people who know me as I usually am will discover I have another side, a better and finer side. I’m afraid they’ll mock me, think I’m ridiculous and sentimental and not take me seriously. I’m used to not being taken seriously, but only the “light-hearted” Anne is used to it and can put up with it; the “deeper” Anne is too weak. If I force the good Anne into the spotlight for even fifteen minutes, she shuts up like a clam the moment she’s called upon to speak, and lets Anne number one do the talking. Before I realize it, she’s disappeared.
So the nice Anne is never seen in company. She’s never made a single appearance, though she almost always takes the stage when I’m alone. I know exactly how I’d like to be, how I am… on the inside. But unfortunately I’m only like that with myself. And perhaps that’s why-no, I’m sure that’s the reason why I think of myself as happy on the inside and other people think I’m happy on the outside. I’m guided by the pure Anne within, but on the outside I’m nothing but a frolicsome little goat tugging at its tether.
The happy-go-lucky Anne laughs, gives a flippant reply, shrugs her shoulders and pretends she doesn’t give a darn. The quiet Anne reacts in just the opposite way.
If I’m quiet and serious, everyone thinks I’m putting on a new act and I have to save myself with a joke.
Yours, Anne M. Frank
You notice the ‘deeper, more conscious, more serious and more fragile Anne she’s talking about? And how she prefers to keep her hidden, for the people around her are not ‘used’ to her brooding, vulnerable side?
How people have always seen her as a boisterous, chirpy girl who jokes and laughs? And how whenever she even tries to bring out her ‘inner’ Anne, people find it absurd and she’s afraid they might ridicule her silent and deeper side, so she quickly hides it and ‘escapes with a joke?’
I know so many people who’re exactly the same. Too afraid to lay themselves bare. For they fear their vulnerability might be ridiculed. Bringing out your inner depth only to have it derided and not taken seriously is a form of unaddressed humiliation. It doesn’t make me angry. It hurts. Which is even worse than anger.
And all this time I’ve been trying to find the right words to explain this behavior. And Anne did it at 15.