Bomb diggity

Another ode to Bombay!?
I must be on drugs.

I woke up this morning to an article by Gordon Marino on Tenderness. He talks about how all the great philosophers have spoken volumes about love, lust and even erotica, but have always left tenderness aside, with its arms waving, at the back of the class, waiting to be noticed. And how it is so important for love. Of any kind. It’s the subtlety of tenderness, the fact that it props love up, that makes for it to seem not that important.

It was a beautifully written article which immediately snapped me into a terribly good headspace.
I started to think of all the people that I’ve managed to surround myself with. That it is a good life, if I get to share it with these fine people.

I’m sure it could happen anywhere. I’m sure there’s somebody sitting in another corner of the planet, thinking the same thing.
But it happened to me in Bombay.
And I could fly far away someday, be in another time, but look back at this city, and feel a kind of love that might remain unmatched.

Don’t get me wrong, most days I want to hold Bombay’s neck and choke it, while shaking it from side to side with rage till it learns how to behave (I’m going to make a GREAT mother).
But on the days when I don’t want to napalm this city, it’s beauty dazzles me enough to want to wear palmtree shades. At night. While hanging out at 24 hour Wellness Center Disco in Bandra. While eating no sugar (but lots of carcinogens!) ice cream. And comparing feet. To figure whose were the prettiest. I lost. And have the guard say “aage badho”, after an hour of our cackle had killed his mojo.
That’s what I’m going to remember.
That’s love.
And I’m going to Socrates my way out of this by leaving tenderness still sitting at the back of the class, making paper planes.

And for the record, peacocks have ugly feet too, but wow look at the rest of them.

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Crank that Soulja boy

I got really sick last week.

Sicker than I’ve ever been. Enough to get me into a hospital and get meds through an I.V.
Which was sort of cool.

My parents had to fly down and come fetch me. And I didn’t fight them.

I usually fight them over things like this.

“I can handle it.”

“Guys I’m not 4.”

“Yes, I’ve eaten.”

“I’ll manage. Don’t worry.”

“Yes, I’ve eaten.”

“Yes, I slept enough.”

“No, I’m not sick.”

“It’s just a cold.”

“Yes, I’ve eaten.”

 

This time I just wanted them around. I came back to Bombay and went straight to theirs, to my old room, instead of my apartment. And I was home. Safe.

 

It’s been a perfect week. I’ve watched a ton of movies, eaten enough sugar to make myself sick again, slept at odd hours during the day, stayed in my pajamas for two days, not bathed for as many, haven’t looked at my phone much, kicked Dhruv a lot, pulled out my ‘I’m so sick, please lets change the channel’ card, pulled my ‘I’m so weak, get me a bottle of water/chocolates/keep my plate in the kitchen/let me sit on that chair/change the channel/cough poor me/’ card. And more than anything I realized that I hadn’t spent an entire week at home in 3 years, stayed in my old room with the disco ball, with a stereo system with enough flashing lights to give me epilepsy, or hung out with my folks every evening, giving them gossip, which they don’t really care about but will listen to intently nonetheless.

 

I knew I was better today because I decided to clear out some junk from the drawers and my desk. Three massive bags full of papers, cases, expired warranties, scratched cd’s, beads, so many beads, dried up nailpaint etcetra. Then I found this old box that had this twist ceramic soldier & castle thing. You know the ones which you twist and put down and they turn round & round and play music (There’s got to be a shorter way of explaining this. Miniature carousal toy?). Anyway, this toy was going to go with all the other junk, but since it didn’t fit in one bag, I set it down to look for another bag. As soon as I did that it went ‘ting!’. I stopped looking for a bag and just stared at the box. It was atleast 28 years old. There’s no way it could have worked after all these years. I picked it up and put it down with a little more force again. ‘ting ting!’

It was alive.

After all these years.

I was on my knees, just staring at the box now.

I opened it; inside, the toy was wrapped in a striped red and white shrug, which belonged to my mother. I unwrapped it and there it was! The little soldier boy and his little castle. Not a scratch. Nothing missing. I twisted it, wound it up and put it down. And there it was, the tune from a million years ago. My entire childhood came rushing back. It was fascinating to feel that.

I kept winding it and playing it throughout the cleaning process. When I was done, it was wrapped in its red and white shrug and put back in the drawer. I’ll give it another 28 years.

 

9 days ago when I was miserable in hospital greens, wondering when my fever would hit anything below 104, I had no idea that the following week would wipe out all my made up worries and give me 7 days of absolute peace with no unnecessary noise. All I needed was to be around three of my favorite people and be willing to go back to basics.

Face down sleeping with drool helps too.

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Tricksters Automatic

It was a rock honeycomb.
A honeycomb rock.
Depending on which side you looked at it.

Tiny little creatures hiding in the crevices.
Pointy caps, snub noses, blood stained teeth. Pretty girls in tutus. Boys in knickerbockers.
Red corneas and skeletal wings. Thieves and fiends.
Do gooders and haters. Shining brilliant, flamboyant haters.

They stood there, still, not a single twitch. Not one breath. Mid motion cryogen.

Or….. not?

If you looked closer, if you looked harder, if you took all your attention, compacted it, squeezed it tight and took it to your eyes, your laser beam eyes, and
aimed at one face, one miniature body. In one elfin corner of the rock
Because in all that concentration everything happened. The part where time stood still, while moving incredibly fast. In the time it took a hummingbird to flap its wings.
Happening in a flurry of actions. They would do all they needed to in the blink of an eye and go back to the same position they were caught at.
You would have to slow your heartbeat down. Breathe deep, then breathe deeper, then hold…
till…
till…
till your lungs no longer heard your heart scream.
Till you were as still and as quick as them.
Till you could catch them at their tricks.
That’s when you’d know
That’s when they’d know.
And in that split second knowing they would change their game.
And start a new one.
And you’d have to wait…
and wait…
and wait…
another lifetime
another time..
To catch ’em.

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Epiphanies in snuff boxes.

Beautiful days falter in their rhythm but not before the right amount of sunshine seeps into your bones, your hair, your eyes.
A never ending morning which stretches… till it snaps.
Billie Holiday waltzing into Jack Kerouac’s arms.
Words tumbling after words tumbling after words with a voice from another time…. another place.
The a.m glides into a could have been harsh noon.
Clear blue cliché skies, almost bordering on boring, but never tiring.
A drive made smooth by the excitement of an irregular heartbeat.
Make believe mag-lev wheel-road relationships.
Suddenly, running away seems like the only idea.
You hear distant laughter, but it’s actually yours.
Happiness comes cheap.
And in that forever-lingering moment you see it all, but only when you’ve driven past it, stopped, turned around and looked.
Hah! It was that easy.
It was always that easy but no one told you.
And you never asked.

An epiphany disguised as a day.
Those stay with you.
They get filed away in different hued memory slides.
To make it that much easier to identify them, to run back to them.
The feel good pill stuck inside of your head.
Squeeze it at will. More and more.
Serotonin never stood a chance.
And then… it’s all gone.
Like all good things you get used to.
Use & Amuse.
The hue gets dull till it’s just gray.
The shine takes a hike.
And then like a thankless junkie you wait.
You wait for the next day.
You wait for the next day to top the last one.
Bigger better faster meaner.
Another sign, another bolt of truth to hit you smack between your eyes.
And maybe you’ll skid and stop right in front of it, grab it, put it in a jar, wait for it to glow and call it yours.

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Mehma

 

Writing about friends is as easy as curing the common cold.

It’s just…. not.

How do you compress a constant feeling and shape it into words.

It’s terribly insufficient.

I once wrote to Mehma saying that I had spent 26 years looking for her. I must have been very emotional and/or happy. She abused me in two different languages and questioned my sexuality in one sentence. She’s got a gift. And that’s why I have to love her.

I have never seen anybody go from hobowithoutgender to DAMN! in the time it takes to have a shower. She’s the sexiest, most stylish person in a room when she thinks it’s worth the effort. 

She has the memory of a gnat, reads the most interesting books, constantly makes fun of me in public, is at my doorstep in a heartbeat if I’ve had a bad day, eats in the most delicate, intricate manner, can belch out the alphabet, has sparkly diamond eyes, parties like its 1999, has shouted at an entire hospital, falls in love as much as me, swears like a truck driver, will tear people in half if they’re mean to me, loves babies, loves her annoying chihuahua, makes the sexiest jackets, has unreal concentration powers, makes great toast, champion at Boggle, exaggerates pathologically, is ridiculously funny, only sees the good in people, can rock skyhigh heels, is verbose, and uses 5 year old hair wax.

She’s perfect.

 

I love that we can go months without seeing each other and barely talking and then pick up exactly where we left off. I love that she is lunar crazy and can never sleep when it’s a full moon. That I have a friend who I can text at 4 a.m and know that she’s probably lying in bed, in a dark room, dealing with some existential issues on that one night when the moon is being loco.

 

We’re born 8 days apart. She’s on the 2nd of January. So, obviously she will call me on the 8th to wish me. Because all that registers is the number 8. Not the number of days 8. For 7 years I’ve got a hysterical, cheery “Happy Birthday Juica” at midnight on the seventh. I mean, really?

I on the other hand forget her birthday. 

 

The thing is, this is the trivial stuff. And the real stuff, like I mentioned before, can’t be put into words. I lucked out when I met her. She is my forever friend. And I know that no matter what life throws at me, I’ll be fine, because I have this incredible, rare creature next to me who I want to hang out with …….  for the rest of my life.

Groucho Marx said “When you’re in jail, a good friend will be trying to bail you out. A best friend will be in the cell next to you saying, ‘Damn, that was fun’.”
And that pretty much sums up our friendship.

I love you Mimi. I say this and I prepare for the verbal assault coming my way.

 

 

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3

one
—–

He didn’t like the way his name sounded. Blaskovich.
It was too drab.
So, a little while back he decided to change it.
He put a tiny bolt of lightening above the ‘v’, so that there was some sort of stress on it. You had to say it by slamming your fist on the counter. BlaskOVIch *thunk*.

Blaskovich was tall, broad and ruggedly handsome even for his 80 years. He was wearing a white shirt, even whiter hair and eyes with little stars in them.

And he wanted to talk.

He spoke about his days in the Air Force as an airman, about how he met his wife for the first time, “I had a friend who was going out on a date and he said that his girl had a friend, and maybe I should come along, so I said yes. We reached a little early and were waiting for the girls at the back entrance of this club, and that’s when I started to panic. What if she was fat? Or not at all nice looking? I was only 21, you know. And then I saw her. Standing in front of me. And I just knew she was the one”. He married her, but only after two years of living on separate coasts and not seeing each other for sometimes as long as 9 months. He quit the Air Force, moved to New York, became a fireman, had children, then moved to a small town and opened this shop which I had walked into after seeing an aeroplane hanging in the window outside.

We struck up a conversation because he asked me my name. When I told him my name, he asked me where I was from. “Bombay”. “Isn’t it Mumbai?”. I said sure, but I like Bombay better. Then he decided to break it down for me, why Mumbai was better. It had more strength of character, it was bolder. That’s when I asked him his name. And he taught me how to say BlaskOVIch *thunk*.

—–
two
—–

Mina doesn’t like the tea I make.
She doesn’t like the way I keep my books stacked either.
She likes to rearrange my furniture every few weeks, to ensure that my aneurysm keeps going strong.
My apartment is as much hers as it is mine. She’s been with me ever since I moved out and I’m certain I’d crumble without her. She’s calm, collected and quiet. We’re like chalk and cheese.
The other day it was her idea to send all the upholstery for laundry because I was having one of my sneeze attacks, where after a point, my head rolls off of my body and lies on the floor staring at the rest of me in disbelief.
So we were doing that. Ripping off cushion covers, folding them, and then going for the curtains.

I don’t know why, but I asked her why she hadn’t gotten married again. I knew she had lost her husband when she was very young, but she’s 31 and all kinds of amazing, so why not get married again?
“I didn’t feel like it.”
So I said “Ok.” hoping I hadn’t upset her.
But she hadn’t finished.
She said she’d met him when she was 14. And they fell in love. Their families decided they should get married when she turned 17. They did. It was perfect. She was young, completely in love with the man who she was going to spend the rest of her life with. After 4 years, he got diagnosed with cancer and was gone in a few months. Her heart broke. And she has not wanted to fix it.
Simple.

It took a lot of strength to not cry, because she was talking very matter of factly and didn’t seem hurt. She had stated a fact. I was afraid to say anything, fearing my voice would quiver. She added that some people go through their entire lives looking for that perfect love, and she had already had that, for a little while, and she was happy with it. She wouldn’t know what to chase even if she tried.

The wisdom of black and white.
Of simplicity.
Of young love being bottled in a jar for 17 years….. and counting.

—–
three
—–

“Glamorous Glennis.”
“What?”
“His plane was called Glamorous Glennis, after his wife”

We were talking about Chuck Yeager and his X-1, with which he broke the sound barrier in 1947.

That’s the thing about my father. He remembers everything…… if it interests him.

“What subject did I graduate in?”
Ask him that.

But that is my business, and he really doesn’t have much to do with it. He has a precise way of storing information. And my graduating in Psychology doesn’t fit in there.

He has the reflexes of a ninja, but leaves his shades at ATM’s, cinema halls, cabs, hotel rooms, banks, hospitals, offices.

It took a while for me to become friends with him. He was always flying when I was young, so I barely saw him. Then I think we both grew up, I got to see more of him, and hang out with him, and he’s a star. I’m sure every daughter says that about her father. But, fortunately for me, the sentence holds true.

He’s the sorts to ask me what I’d be doing on a particular day, I’d say “Working.” and he would proceed to gloat like an archetypal villain and tell me how he will be deep sea diving somewhere near Zanzibar, and how on that miserable Monday when I’ll be in Marol Naka, he will watch the sunset, cradling a beer.

He hates tattoos, but has always said “That’s pretty”, every time I came back home with fresh ink.
All eleven times.
I could almost see him cringe.

He has only always called me ‘pet’ or ‘sweetheart’. If he ever called me by my name, it would mean one of two things.
1. I failed in school
2. I failed to file my taxes.

He likes Leonard Cohen so much, that the rest of the family hates him.

He believes in road trips, leaping off trains, surprises, music, the sea, aircrafts, a good movie, ancient ruins, rum & coke, mirror finished aviators and ordering the worst food at a restaurant. He’s the perfect dad.

Three stories I can’t stitch together.
Three people who said things which I will always remember.
Blaskovich.
Heartbreak
Glamorous Glennis.

Unravel

Three days ago I met someone who bolstered my pre-existing ideas about detachment. And it was almost a relief, because I had been walking around with this theory in my head since ever, but I didn’t really know if it was something I had come up with for convenience, or whether it was real.

“Which school did you go to?”
“Air Force Bal Bharati, for the last 3 years of school.”
“You’re kidding!! Me too! What are the chances?!”

We found out that we were both ‘armed forces brats’, who constantly moved.
There was a lot more conversation about cities, and if we had more schools in common. We didn’t. We discussed how Modern School used to beat us. At everything. And how much we hated ‘Modernites’. I was back in 1998.

Then she mentioned something about being socially inept, in the conventional sense of keeping in touch. That piqued my interest. So I asked her what she meant, and she said that she had this inability to stay in touch. Regardless of how fond she was of the person. “It’s not like I don’t care, I do, but I feel like ‘I’ll see you when I do’. I don’t see a reason to pick up the phone and ask you how things are. I’m sure they’re fine.”
I was certain I was saying those words. I wasn’t. She was. I was just nodding in such wholesome agreement, it’s a wonder my head didn’t fall off my body.

Detachment becomes a default setting.
It’s because you move so much, it’s practically a new set of people who you have to call your own every year. How does one get attached? And if you do, isn’t that heartbreaking? Lose friends every year.
I’d rather just….. not.
So, it’s all about the moment. You’re there, surrounded by people, it’s all kinds of fabulous, you move away, meet more people, lather, rinse, repeat. Buddha would be proud.

Then comes the question of longing. For a place, a person, a fleeting moment in what seems like another universe. What then? How do you tackle that? Left hook, right uppercut and hope for a knock-out?
I let the feeling sweep over me, like a massive wave, drenching me in a memory so real, I can almost taste it. That’s one way of dealing with it.
I haven’t tried the others.

The thing is, all these people and places matter. More than I allowed them to believe, more than they would ever know. I needed to hang on to every word and every road I came across, because I wasn’t sure I’d come across it again. So I clutched on to it, with all my might. For forever. To call my own.
Is there a need to let everyone in on it, constantly? I don’t know. I don’t think so.
I could be wrong.

The constant craving for permanence and the absolute disregard of it. It’s an endless battle. The dichotomy of want and want not.
You want to fight against a certain classical conditioning, but, you don’t know a world outside it, so how do you address it? Awkward handshake, avoid eye-contact, focus on your shoes, and just be everything you’re not.
That can’t be right.
Stick to classical conditioning?
That can’t be right either.

I don’t have a clever answer for this.
I don’t have any answer for this.

I guess I’ll find out when I do.

And I guess I’ll end this self indulgent post now.

To Shrödingers cat & beyond…..

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