humour, Poetry

An Ode to the Deadlines

So long I had postponed
Owing to the mispositions of stars
Or maybe the urgency to complete utterly unnecessary tasks
A day after another after another after another
Until you came finally,
As you had, once upon a forgotten time, forewarned
So, here’s to the panic
to the parade of chaos that you have brought along
to the adrenaline rush
to the songs of forbidden words
to the regret of wasted yesterdays
No, no prayer to be sung to the goddess of procrastination today!
No! Don’t you dare, you treacherous mind!
Today isn’t a good day
Today is the DEADLINE!
The day where the work of 10 months is compressed in 72 hours
So, here’s to the supernatural productivity
To the last minute short cuts
To the funny gods
To the funnier prayers
To the fake promises
To a distant dream of equal work division over time
Commutimism as they call it
And finally to completion of the since long incompleted
Scribbled, battered, stiched along the odd edges
Ugly, with gruesome scars of laziness
But who cares about the beauty though?
At least the end is here!
We will start the next project tomorrow.
Or maybe the tomorrow after tomorrow
Or the tomorrow after that
But for now we are done!
Ready to repeat our mistake all over again
With a false and yet believable hope let’s completely forget the stress and pain,
Of course, we are going to be alright,
As long as we celebrate the ending and not the perfection
My lazy ‘this-would-do-just-fine’ success brought by an odd hero of mine!
What would I do without you my beloved deadline?

***

 

food for thought

The Lost Virginity

Not that she ever asked for it or did anything to prove it in her entire life, but virginity had always been deemed pure much to her now-lost curiosity and newly-found annoyance. Right from her birth, every one – her parents, her siblings, her relatives, even her neighbors had announced that she was a deity to be worshipped, to be protected from evil and to be preserved in the shelter of innocence and compulsory happiness. There was no way to find out if this devotion, this surmount importance given to her protection was real or just a hypocritical lie. But then, it didn’t matter. What mattered was that virginity herself had to believe that she was fragile. And allowing her to be saved could indeed serve as a direct stairway to heaven for herself and everyone who knew her. And hence, it had begun even before her own beginning – the house arrest. Virginity was never permitted to step outside her house. The obvious reason being that too many things could go wrong and if she, god forbid, got lost in the wilderness outside, she wouldn’t be pure anymore! She wouldn’t remain the goddess that she supposedly was. In fact, she would turn into something quite contrary – shame. So, virginity spent her life locked inside her lovely home. There were days when she would insist if she could be allowed to go outside and at least be permitted to feel the freedom for a tiny moment. But she would be tactfully persuaded, manipulated and sometimes even violently subjugated to stay. The tactics didn’t work for long. To the acute annoyance of the fellow members of her family, she became more adamant over the time. When the truth ran out of its authenticity, when the lies stopped working, when the non-existent reasons could no longer be created, they lost their trust and began to lock the doors. Virginity, O the poor girl virginity, still longed to explore the wilderness, the captivating world beyond the walls. But as the rules became more stringent and the ways to confine her became more brutal, she started losing hope and slowly began to accept her unfair fate. Meanwhile, a different story continued to spin among her family – a story completely different from what they publically told. Secretly every person living inside that house knew her destiny. After all, one look at her and you would know that Virginity was bound to be lost. But no one could dare to accept that.
And so it happened, on a quiet careless night, virginity stumbled upon the doors that were accidentally left unlocked. Had the day she never thought would arrive was finally there? She wondered if she should go. She wondered if that risk was really worth taking. But hadn’t she dreamed about this moment her entire life? This was fate! This was her prayers coming true. This was everything she wished for – A chance! And so she ran with eyes filled with excitement and her toes bare that were longing to touch the grass for the first time. The wetness of the dews traversed right across her spine sending shivers through out her body. The smell of the wet soil intoxicated her. Never had a touch or a smell felt this amazing. Her eyes could finally find the vast sky above adorned with multiple diamonds. The view was heavenly. Never had she ever experienced this breathtaking beauty before. Never had she thought that her paradise would turn out to be even more beautiful than her wildest imagination! So, she ran fearlessly into oblivion. She ran further and further away from her home, from rules, from shame, from meaningless myths and traditions. Finally she arrived at a juncture where stood destiny gazing at her with her arms wide open. A step ahead and she knew she might not be able to find her way back home. She had travelled too far. Maybe it wasn’t a good idea to completely abandon the sense of familiarity. Maybe the unknown was exaggerated. Maybe it was indeed time that she’d return. She stepped back reluctantly but destiny didn’t move. “Beautiful sensations lied ahead – how could you deny them?” she asked. Destiny was right – she couldn’t deny them. Hence, she took the path she wasn’t supposed to take.  She knew things would never be the same. And even if she did, she knew she might never be accepted. But all those ugly truths didn’t bother her. She had melted into her pleasure, into her excitement and into the emotions she had never felt before. Though her feet bled and calves pained but she did not stop. She had merged into this beautiful land now. Every touch mattered. Every sound resonated. The taste of freedom was divine. If this was the price she had paid for being lost. Then, this was worth it. Lost? Wait. What was that? Panic? The night suddenly turned dark and the forest became too dangerous to stay in any longer. In that moment of her vulnerability, sharp tinges of pain began to assault her. She grew too conscious of her bleeding feet. She frantically started running back in hopes of finding the way to her home. But she had no idea how she could return. She was lost! Virginity was lost! How did you let it happen to yourself? A voice rebuked. How could she explain the power of that impulse? In that moment, when she took the path, she had been in love. In that moment, she knew she couldn’t be saved. She had no choice. There are things that are too beautiful to miss despite the lurking dangers. She just had to experience that beauty. And hence she did.

She searched in darkness for signs that could lead her home. Then in the mud, under the glowing light of moon, she found her own footprints. Overjoyed, she started following them. It pained to walk but she walked anyway and eventually she reached the juncture that had transformed her life. She limped the way back through the familiar road. Soon, her home, her prison came into the view. The door was still unlocked and her jailers were nowhere to be seen. She tiptoed back into her room and began to wonder about the surreal events of that night. How beautiful it had been! She was lost and she was found. And now she was here! Back home! Would she lose her stature of “being a symbol for purity”? But what had been this purity? Why had people taken such drastic measures to retain something that didn’t even have any true meaning?  What would they do if they found about her? Would she forever be branded ‘lost’? But didn’t the fact that she had experienced something so mystic and returned also made her qualified for being called ‘found’? Why could virginity always be lost and never be found?

Peeking out of the curtains of her thoughts, she looked herself in the mirror and asked, “Who is Virginity anyway? Lost or found – what difference does it make as long as she is happy?”

***

food for thought, Short Stories

The Study Table – III

I

II

III

Life moves on. So, I moved on too –

My new destination? A scrap yard. How did I come to be there? Didn’t I tell you that my ex-owner found me too old and too obese for his “renovated” home? He was so sure of my ugliness and my uselessness that he didn’t even put me up on sale – He threw me straight to the Scrap yard. Before I could even analyze my surroundings, I was taken by a roadside barber. So, now I had a new job role. I watched people come and go, some getting shaved, some getting massaged and some getting their hair cut. I remember how happy the mirror placed on me used to be. I despised her. Her happiness made me grow immensely jealous of her. With each passing day, I became more and more morose. Throwing me away like garbage after all those years of my diligent service wasn’t a fair treatment. Couldn’t he just chop me off and use me in a bonfire? I would have been happy with that. Sitting there, by the road, was humiliating! I am the one who needs to be kept sedated with smell of books. I am the one who survives in the presence of poetry or the equations of chemical reactions or trigonometry problems. The lumps of hair accumulating on me were infuriating. The barber scratching the razors on me didn’t make me feel better either. Initially, I had thought that the girl was worst. Then I thought that the scrap yard was the worst. But somehow, I kept descending to worse of worsts! I was tempted to call the barber worst too. But I couldn’t, fearing the ironic implication of that statement. Nevertheless, fate took the unintentional and the unsaid challenge anyway.

The barber abruptly left one day. Initially, it seemed like a dream come true. But in reality, it has been a nightmare. I spend my days and nights alone on the road side. So, I get roasted in the afternoons, wet in the rains and remain immensely dusty all the time. The horns of the cars haunt me, my loneliness haunts me, my uselessness haunts me, my existence haunts me and I stand waiting, waiting for my end to finally make an entrance. The way things are progressing or regressing, I am sure my end isn’t far. But if it is, if it is somehow still far, then the worst haunts me. And here you are – miraculously standing with that unwavering look of admiration in your eyes. I am not flattered. I am amazed. For a moment, I am tempted to forget what I have been through. For a moment, I am tempted to be hopeful. For the first time in a really long time, I am happy. It doesn’t have to last long. I know it won’t. But I am grateful to you for this. I am grateful to you indeed.

“It’s a pity how this table is thrown here. It should be used, it’s so pretty!” I hear the woman’s voice.

“Pretty old, you mean. Pretty broken, you mean. Pretty ugly, you mean.”  Her friend replies and I find myself agreeing with him.

“Pretty apt for our café, I meant.” The woman replies.

“This? For our café? No way!”

“What’s wrong! It matches with the theme. Plus, I will work on it. I will make it pretty presentable and pretty awesome, you will see!”

“I am not so sure…”

The woman comes near me. I shiver at her proximity. I shiver at her touch. It really had been a long time since any human had stood so close to me.

“The table is old, yes, I know. But the wood is still good, see? They don’t make such furniture anymore! Let’s take it to our garage. I will repair it.”

“You do that in a month’s time. Or else I will throw it.”

“You can count on me!” she replies excitedly.

I refuse to believe my ears. Does she really mean it? After this long series of abandonment, did this just happen for real?

Epilogue

I was sure I was going to return to the road again. I didn’t think I was repairable. I was sure that the woman would give up on me soon. Miraculously, she didn’t. I ended up being in her café instead. I couldn’t believe my own transformation. Though I am no longer a study table I admit, but I am always sedated with a stack of books at my corner. Quite often, I am also greeted by the heat of laptops and the mild heat of the hot coffee filtered through the coasters. Sometimes I am greeted by interesting conversations, interesting people scribbling interesting things in their notebooks and I love it.  I love it all. But then amidst all these beautiful chaos and entropy, I keep myself reminding that I am, at the end of the day, just a table.

***

Short Stories

The Study Table – II

I

II

Life moves on. So, I moved on too –

After he left, his room was converted to cater paying guests. My new user, a girl, wasn’t very studious. The stains on me – You can attribute almost all of them to her. Before I met her, I was aware of just one use of mine – be a good companion to studies. But she used me for everything other than that. I was pretty shocked by my own versatility. I remember the day when she had even used me for things that are usually described in those books – Eroticas! If I had cheeks, you could have seen how embarrassed I still get by just thinking about it. But that also was one of the wildest nights I had ever had. I would admit that. This acceptance didn’t come easily though. When she used me for the same purpose again I was horrified to realize that I was secretly anticipating it. It was shocking because I remembered being furious about it. And yet, my anger had deserted me for a secret anticipation! But there’s no point in making denials, is there? You can’t change how you feel – You feel what you feel. Initially, I had judged her. Then I judged my own self. I hated her. I hated her the most because she made me hate myself. I thought the worst had hit me. But then it hadn’t. There’s a thin line between hate and love. I don’t know when I crossed it. I don’t know how I found the sudden acceptance for both of us. But my days significantly improved from then on. How did it all come to be? It’s a mystery. I soon forgot my ex-job roles. I had conformed completely according to my new environment, according to my new user. I became lazy. Not being dusted didn’t bother me. Not being touched didn’t bother me. In fact, I soon became absolutely reluctant to being disturbed at all. All I wanted was to be left alone. I slept and slept except the time when I would gaze at the girl comb her hair or apply Kajal looking at the small dusty mirror placed on me. Sometimes, she would work on her laptop, or read a novel; those were some occasional moments that made me grow nostalgic of the old days. Sometimes, she would sit on me and smoke and just stare at the ceiling in the dark. She was peculiar that way and her peculiarity often made me feel protective about her. Not that I was particularly skilled at protecting her. But she could be so bold and vulnerable at the same time, it broke my heart. Sometimes, she would talk for endless hours, often to herself. Sometimes, she would even talk to me. “Table Oh! Table! Where’s my comb?” Not on me, in your bag but how would I tell her that? “Where’s my mascara?” You dropped it and now it has rolled over behind me. But how do I tell her that? “Where’s my book?” You don’t have it. Not even the photocopy.

She was unique. She was amazing. I loved her. But sometimes, I used to be mad at her for both disturbing me and not disturbing me often. Each evening when she would come home, I would eagerly wait for her to take her journal out of the drawer and pen down her day with me. I would scan through her thoughts, through her breakups, through her patch ups, through her rifts with professors, through her weekend getaways, through her long walks, through her discoveries of new food joints, through her shopping habits, through her experiences, through her life, through her beauty – shining radiantly in front of my eyes.

But you know the thing about life – it goes on, often turning a blind eye towards your deepest desires. So yes, one day, she moved out too.

**

III

Short Stories

The Study Table – I

I

Truth be told, I admit that I am not the kind of thing who gets a lot of attention. And hence, receiving the same from you seems almost surreal. I can’t remember the last time when I received that look of admiration that you currently seem to hold. I am flattered, thank you. But it’s okay if you go back to being completely oblivious of me. You have done more than enough and I don’t wish to be too hopeful. It’s not like I will be offended by your negligence. I would be relieved, on the contrary. You might find this confession of mine, in a way, pitiable but you don’t have to waste your pity on me. You see, I accepted the fact, long time ago, that only the most fortunate ones among us are used for the purpose they are really meant for. Rest of all, are just meant to carry the load of the unused books kept at the corner, to forcibly flaunt the food stain scattered on our surface like acne marks on a teenager’s face and to be used as the open shelf for various weird things like lotion or medicine or pen stands filled with pens that don’t really work, the used plates that’s not been washed since several days, an empty bottle, ashes from the incense stick or a framed photograph received as a birthday gift, some rough useless papers, some broken pencils, ear rings – awfully lonely without their significant others, rubber bands, clutches who, with their broken tooth, are in a dire need of a dentist – you get the gist. But hold on, I am not trying to gain your sympathy here. Don’t be under the impression that I have never experienced any good days. There was a time when I used to dazzle under the light of a study lamp. There was a time when I was considered too sacred to be eaten upon; you see dining table and the study table aren’t the same thing. There was once a time, when the books kept on me were indeed used, read and written into.  There was once a time when I indeed felt useful and respected. Of course, that time is gone now. I have aged and I have become too ugly for the current furniture beauty standards. My ex-owner found me too obese and ancient to be kept inside his “modern” home. I seemed to be taking too much space. But I don’t bear any hard feelings against him or anyone. In fact, his opinions were, in a way, completely justifiable. However, I am pretty startled by your unconventional choice. Unconventional or in colloquial term – bad. But then, it’s just time, I understand. We all, once in our lives see the best of it. We all, once in our lives also see the worst of it. I guess, I have already seen the best and hence here’s the worst. It’s okay – it’s life. My only regret is that I never realized how beautiful it is to a hold book, watch a person read it, write on it and even sometimes sleep on it (especially when he is supposed to be studying). You might be startled by my unique standards for beauty. But then it used to be our secret; mine, chair’s and his. There are so many illegal naps he had taken under my supervision. I am not even remotely guilty about that. He seemed so beautiful and vulnerable in those moments. If I had hands, I would have run them through his hair. If I had voice, I would have sung a lullaby. But instead, I had a responsibility so I never let him doze for long intervals. Waking him up used to be the hardest thing to do but I had to do it. I am a study table after all, not a bed. But there were more secrets besides this. I witnessed him writing poems in lieu of solving mathematics problems for his first crush. I have also witnessed him using his newly learnt (rather a bit peculiar) vocabulary on the same crush when she told him she didn’t like him back. I have seen his anguish and gradual acceptance. I have seen him getting annoyed by the periodic table and inorganic chemistry in particular! I have seen him quoting Robert Frost and pasting extracts of Walt Whitman’s poetry on me. Ah! Those were the good days, when we would stay up till 3 A.M trying to solve a stubborn calculus problem and yet find no solution until one random day when we would realize how easy it really was. How mysteriously things work out! And how suddenly and yet spontaneously things deteriorate! I wasn’t taken completely by surprise when he left. I had always known that he would depart someday – that was ironically a major part of my purpose in his life and my life as well. But still I never thought that that someday would arrive so soon. How time flies! I kept hoping for the longest time that he would come back. I kept hoping that we would rekindle our relationship – at least for one day! But he never did, at least not the way I wanted him to. What could I do? That’s the most iconic thing about life – it goes on, often completely neglecting your desires.

*

II

III

How not to, humour

How NOT to get off a crowded Indian Train

I am stuck in the narrow passageway of a general bogie reserved for ladies and my whole life is flashing in front of my eyes. Well, this would have been completely true, had it not been for the woman standing in front of me, whose acute politeness has me, distracted. Her voice has staggering intensity; my ears are barely managing to protect my eardrums from crumbling to the symphony of her cuss words. I am stuck. She is stuck. Behind me is a long queue (as long as the tiny bogie permits) and behind the meek woman, I am busy listening to, are the wild bison cramming their way into the coach that’s already filled till the brim. “Let us out first!” Another woman behind me screams. And I, both leading and blocking the queue of angry goddesses who want to get off the god damned train, am stuck with my bag engaged in an unbreakable embrace with the luggage of the other woman whose symphony has me hypnotized. All around me are people telling me to move! Move woman! Move! But then I can’t. Funny, I think sometimes that’s how life works as well.

I try to recall how I got into this situation in the first place. Well, it all began with  my decision to board a crowded general bogie. And I guess that’s the end of it. The tiny ladies’ coach is an objectified sexism in itself but of course I am not going to get into that debate. I am probably going to get old here, amidst this friendly crowd and feminism is not something I would like to ponder about right now. Paying my special gratitude to the size of this bogie, my mind wanders to the immediate reason that had caused this chaos – The woman who was sitting on the floor (because obviously we don’t have enough seats), blocking the way to the door and absolutely refusing to apply what’s called the common sense, that is, to get up when a train halts at a station. Ultimately when others tell her to stand and make way, she takes eternity to do the same. And by the time she clears the way for us to move ahead, the passengers on the other side have already started to rush in. And the result of her stupidity? Chaos. Victim? Me.

Move! Woman! Move!
Well I can’t. My bag is stuck. I am stuck. Can’t you see?

The polite woman finally stops shouting and decides to apply her brain. She lifts her bag and I am able to step ahead and also drift my bag forward. But there’s still a long way to freedom. There are too many people inside and now it’s my suitcase that’s creating havoc. As I push myself (and the bag, the god damned bag) forward, I accidentally hurt a small kid who was standing on the way. Her mouth turns into a gigantic O, her cheeks turn blood red and river and its tributaries start flowing from her eyes. I want to apologize. I obviously didn’t mean to slam my bag into her foot but there’s this major part of me who just wants her to shut up. She is a kid and I shouldn’t bear such thoughts but I am never going to be able to get off this train and these women and this noise and this wailing child are turning this place into a hell and I haven’t sinned enough to deserve this (Or so I thought!). I have already started formulating alternate plans. I realize I am never getting off here. So, I start thinking what the next stop of this train would be and how will I get back from there.

Move! Woman! Move!
Woman can’t move. CAN’T YOU SEE!
Woman is stuck in between all these people and shouting doesn’t help.
And amidst this greatest struggle I have ever endured to get off a train, comes a helping hand. But the helping hand isn’t polite either. Helping hand is angry and is shouting too, “Why are you coming out so late? So rahe the kya? (Were you sleeping all this while?)” I lose my temper at this. Now is not a good time for the glare and the taunts. If I just knew how to punch, I would have punched you right across your face. In fact in this moment, I can punch god himself. But I settle for glaring back at my Messiah, the red shirted coolie who is lifting my bag. But he doesn’t shut up. Then something rare happens, “Would you stop shouting?”-  I shout (ironically). I scream so hard, in fact, that my voice breaks like the light splits through a prism. Damn. I immediately regret it but at least the coolie is silent now. When I finally get to get off the train, I feel like I have been reborn. The coolie has placed my bag on the platform and has disappeared. Good, I wasn’t going to thank him anyway. There are still significant traces of anger left inside me. I avoid thinking about the near-fatal swarm of the women. I avoid thinking about the crying child. I avoid thinking about the cuss words I had been showered with. Obviously, I fail. I notice that my breathing has become erratic and I am still a bit dizzy. So, I sit on a nearby bench, take a few deep breaths and make myself believe that I really am alive and safe. Get off the train! That’s all I had to do! Realize how powerful chaos is? Realize how hazardous a heavy and huge suitcase is? Don’t carry a bag that weighs more than you do. Or join a gym and set major weightlifting goals. And yes don’t underestimate the stupidity of your fellow passengers. Avoid crowd! Avoid crowd! Avoid crowd! (This suggestion is, in reality, a sham because there’s nothing in India that’s not crowded.) And that’s how you get off a train in India safely.

***

food for thought, Things that I don't understand

Things that I don’t understand – II

  1. Fluid mechanics. Office politics. And heart.
  2. Black holes. Black-heads. What existed before big bang. And heart.

So, what’s the most popular topic available in the market for us average folks? Politics? Partly. Sports? Partly. Game of Thrones? Yes, definitely. Shit, this post should have been about that. But, okay I settled for the second best thing – Opposite gender! Of course! The most common thing that we don’t understand yet! Yeah, yeah, yeah as mainstream as it is, this is indeed going to be about him. About that guy.  “What guy?” you might ask. Good question. He is the guy you mostly hate but secretly love. The guy you secretly love and that’s why you mostly hate yourself. He is the one who has technically departed from the circle of relevance of your life. But, oh, he is there alright. The guy you are almost tempted to text when drunk. But self-control matters and you don’t really want to climb down the ladder of self-esteem anymore. So, you don’t. But still you are “tempted”. Point to be noted, your highness! The guy you might have met just once but then that was enough. The guy who never bought you any flowers or took you on a “formal” date (or let you do the vice versa) but even the lack of these things was enough. Enough for what? Enough for your obvious inference that you need to stay away. But you didn’t. Because how could you simply do things that you shouldn’t and make your life a hell lot simpler? The guy who offends you, who disrespects you in the most obvious ways and yet he matters. The guy who is not interested in you even a bit and hence all your interest comes pouring down on him. Yes, that guy. You don’t like him. Or rather you don’t want to like him. You wish for indifference. You wish that the fact that he has a satisfactory life without you doesn’t bother you. He is that guy whose proximity might be something you yearn for. But you wish both for his presence and absence. He is toxic. So, you stay away. He is toxic. So, you search for an antidote so that you could stay with him. You don’t wish to acknowledge his impact on your life and usually you don’t. But for how long would you deny?  You can’t hide the truth from your own self. Your self knows about the way he is there in your thoughts – lurking, hovering and always peeking through the curtain. “Why? Why that guy?” You ask everyone present in your body. And oh so cutely they all nod their heads with innocence dripping through their faces and they will tell you – “On ne sait pas! (We don’t know!)” You don’t know. I don’t know. God doesn’t know. Science doesn’t know. So, who knows! Damn. That guy. “Come on! You could do better surely,” you tell yourself. But then why must you belittle yourself and him both by such line of thought! You could do better. He could do better. Who knows who could do better? He is not worth it. He doesn’t deserve you. But you don’t know that. Maybe it’s not you who deserves better maybe it’s him who deserves better. Maybe his negative projections in your brain are merely one of your futile efforts to get him out of your head. For what it’s worth maybe he is indeed amazing. Too good for you. Maybe not, who knows? Can we really have an unbiased opinion about this? But do we really need that opinion? So, why insult ourselves (and him) by this pointless debate? Pause. Let’s acknowledge that our paths intersected for a reason. Pause. Let’s acknowledge that nothing lasts forever. Pause. Let’s recall that there are many people who once meant the world to you but are nothing more than a name in your Facebook friend list now. Things like that happen all the time and with everybody. Pause. Yes, you both shouldn’t be together. And thankfully that’s not even going to happen. But can somebody tell you that it’s okay to think about him? Pause. He had been amazing and you are grateful. Pause. This is a phase and it will pass. You learn and move on. That’s life. Stop. Okay?

Okay. But that guy, that person – ‘Why exactly’ is what I don’t understand.

*

How not to, humour

How NOT to learn F.R.E.N.C.H. for dummies (like me)

Chapter – I

The one with the counting

It was a warm ordinary day of Octobre (October, and yes it wasn’t a spelling mistake). The month that brings us the beautiful season of autumn. Autumn, the oldest poets creating factory, is the most jolie (lovely) season of all. That is, in the rest of the monde (world). Not in India. Here it’s simply a sequel of summer, without mangoes. Indian trees don’t give a single damn about the fall. Bien sûr (Of course), they might show some minor symptoms of this season but that is the beginning and the end of it. Anyway, back to being in that warm day of Octobre, as I sat in my cubicle passively framing yet another courriel (e-mail), I am flashed with one of the deeply moving scenes of the French film- “Blue is the warmest colour.” I am still not sure about the origin and what possibly might have caused that flash. But it was enough to dig out that obsession on to the surface which had gone into hibernation for past one year. And with it came a memory of a small desire I had expressed then – I want to learn French. Like a good employee (Ahem.) I ignored all of this and continued to scroll through my inbox. But the show starring the two voices in my head had already commenced. “Tu dois apprendre le français!”(You must learn French!). What’s that sound again? Certainly someone doesn’t want us to attend to our mails (Ahem. Perhaps our procrastinating habit) But what’s the harm in learning it? You have the time. You can manage. You can learn French. In fact you should. En fait (In fact) you would!” But tu vois (you see), turquoise ink, you don’t have what it takes to learn a language. Wait, wasn’t it your suggestion in the first place? Like a second ago? You are going to lose interest and then later you would forget everything. Merde! (Damn!) What a chameleon you are brain! I would definitely learn it just to prove you wrong!

In the background, my cœur et tête (heart and head) hi-fived, mouthed a thank-you and danced back to the exit.

So the same day I went to a language institute. I enrolled myself for French classes and there began my incredible journey to…nothing. But that’s what makes it a good ignition spark for my procrastinating habits.

A few jours (days) into my class and I stumbled upon the day that was going to change my vie (life) forever.  It’s a normal soir (evening). I arrived at the class straight from my office. I was a little tired but my excitement (or rather the fact that I had paid the fees and I felt a dire need to compensate for it by being regular in my classes) didn’t let me succumb to temporary tiredness.

“We will learn counting today” she said. “Counting till ten is pretty easy. What makes it easier is that the pronunciation of some of the numbers resembles the way we say it in Hindi.” I nodded, opened my notebook and uncapped my pen indicating my readiness to make notes which actually I never did. “So, let’s begin …Un, Deux, Trois, Quatre, Cinq, Six, Sept, Huit, Neuf, Dix!” she said slowly with hand gestures.I noticed that some numbers indeed resembled the numbers in Hindi (Deux – do, Trois – teen or Sept – saat, Huit – aath, Neuf – nav, Dix – dus and six was six in English except you pronounce it as sees)

I repeated after my French tutor. Pretty proud with myself, I asked her to go ahead in the series. She taught me the numbers till twenty (Onze, Douze (Now you know where the word dozen came from), Treize, Quatorze, Quinze, Seize, Dix-sept, Dix-huit, Dix-neuf, Vingt). Slightly alien terms but I managed just fine and repeated the figures correctly. Then she continued, “So, the rest of the numbers continue on the same rules as English. We just need to learn thirty, forty, fifty and sixty. After that it gets slightly different. But we will come to that later.” I nodded excitedly, completely ignoring the importance of the phrase – ‘slightly different’. “Trente, quarante, cinquante & soixante” she said.

I repeated perfectly except for the minor pronunciation mistakes. “And what about the rest of the figures?” I asked.

The turning point of my life had finally arrived.

“Seventy is Soixante –dix” she replied.

“Okay…”

“Eighty: Quatre- vingts

“Whaat…”

“Ninety is Quatre-vingt-dix

“..the fuck?”

My mind exploded. “Are you telling me that seventy is called as sixty-ten? Eighty as four-twenty? And ninety as four-twenty-ten?”

“Yes.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yes.”

“Are you really sure?”

“Yes.” And you may be over-reacting. And also what do you mean if I am sure! I have been speaking French since I was a kid, you bitch!

“What nonsense!” I exclaimed.

“Well, it is what it is.” You reaction, my friend, is the real nonsense.

Why? Why? Why would you call a number that way? What can be the logic behind this? I asked this question to French native speakers as well (There’s an app called ‘Speaky’ which lets you do that) They replied the same, “It is what it is.” But I couldn’t accept it. What is the point, really? Don’t cross that border, honey. We can’t figure out the point of our lives and you are asking about some puny nombres (numbers)? 

But I was indeed deeply baffled by this and at the end of it, I simply couldn’t accept it. So, I coined new French terms. I know I sound bête (stupid). But I will present my inventions to you anyway;

Seventy would now be called, the term is inspired by Joey FYI, Daplupoint (pronunciation:  da-plu-paw-nt)

Eighty – Paplupoint (pa-plu-paw-nt)

Ninety – Laplupoint (La-plu-paw-nt)

Of course, I haven’t put this proposal formally to the world yet. But whenever I do, I am hoping for the successful inclusion of these terms. Until then, do keep these new terms in mind, they might pop up in the French dictionary anytime. And yes this is how you SHOULDN’T learn French.

Merci beaucoup! À bientôt ! I will be back with more blogs on this soon!

Glossary:

    1. Octobre – October
    2. Jolie – Lovely
    3. monde – World
    4. Bien sûr – Of course
    5. Courriel – Email
    6. Tu – You (Informal)
    7. Dois – Present Conjugation of Devoir which means must
    8. Apprendre – To learn
    9. Français – French
    10. En fait – In fact
    11. Vois – Present Conjugation of Voir which means “to see”
    12. Merde – Damn
    13. Cœur – Heart
    14. Et – And
    15. Tête – Head
    16. Jours – Days
    17. Soir – Evening
    18. Vie – Life
    19. Un, Deux, Trois, Quatre, Cinq, Six, Sept, Huit, Neuf & Dix – One, Two, Three, Four, Five, Six, Seven, Eight, Nine & Ten
    20. Onze, Douze , Treize, Quatorze, Quinze, Seize, Dix-sept, Dix-huit, Dix-neuf, Vingt – Eleven,Twelve,Thirteen, Fourteen, Fifteen, Sixteen, Seventeen, Eighteen, Nineteen, Twenty
    21. Trente, Quarante, Cinquante , Soixante, Soixante –dix, Quatre- vingts, Quatre-vingt-dix – Thirty, Forty, Fifty, Sixty, Seventy, Eighty, Ninety
    22.  Nombres – Numbers
    23. Bête – Stupid
    24. Merci – Thank you
    25. Beaucoup – Very much
    26. Àbientôt –  See you soon

***

humour, Musings from the coffee shop

Sex, Orgasm, Atoms and the Universe

“I bet you get a lot of action.” I winked at her expecting her vibrant blush. Instead she replied as if it was a matter-of-fact, “True. It’s like a habit now. I can’t even remember when it all started. You know, I can’t even count my ex-boyfriends anymore,” she chuckled. “Wow. That many?” I replied.  “Yes and there are those guilty flings as well.” How could she say things like that in such a casual manner? I looked around ensuring that nobody was overhearing our conversation. The café was practically empty and the sole waiter was busy ogling at this girl who was sitting on a faraway corner. “Wow! So, with so many options what’s been your best experience so far?” I asked her teasingly.

“Sexually?”

“Uh-huh…”

“Hmm…Let me think”, she thought for a moment and resumed excitedly, “So there was this time; the best night of my life. In fact that night changed my life.  And I am not exaggerating. Ugh! That orgasm! That orgasm surpassed anything I had ever felt. It was more amazing than amazing, you know! I mean you cannot just call it amazing. It was beautiful beyond imagination.” She looked at my face and tried to ease my confusion, “Let me try to elaborate…What’s the smallest thing that you can think of? A dust particle? Now, they tell you that your smallest thing is nothing compared to atoms. In fact a dust particle houses thousands of atoms. You nod. You are like okay. But can you really imagine that? That something as small as a dust can house thousands of even smaller particles! But they don’t stop there. Atoms have further smaller particles! What the fuck! But wait, this doesn’t stop here even! Atom’s smaller particles have further smaller particles. These things blow my mind. I can’t imagine it! I can’t go beyond the bloody dust particle. For me, that is atom.”

I sat mystified by how my question about sex has her discussing about quantum physics. As if knowing exactly what I was thinking, she added, “Worry no more. Here comes the analogy. We take facts for what they are even when we can’t see it, even when we can’t imagine it. That night…that night I could finally imagine the unimaginable. I could finally magnify that scale. I could finally see beyond the dust. Until then orgasm had just been this supposedly amazing thing. Then it became the amazing thing. It stopped being the dust; it went on to become the atoms, the protons, the neutrons, the quarks.”

I was finding it a bit hard to digest the analogy but she continued anyway, “Okay, I will leave physics out of this. I will tell you the best part – that night, I laughed like a mad man. I know it’s weird and it has never happened to me before and since – but I was indeed laughing so hard and this spasm, this colossal spasm simultaneously traversed across my body. And it coupled with my laughter in such a way that the waves resonated, you know. So, the amplitude got even higher! I climaxed along with my cheek muscles, my weird chuckling voice, my lips, my stomach movements – you know, how your stomach moves when you laugh, my heart beats – my laughing heartbeats! It went on for a long time.” She paused and closed her eyes for a moment as if savoring the memory and continued, “But it wasn’t the end of it. I came again. And again. And again. And again. I exploded like a big bang. Pieces of me scattered all over me like the pieces of universe. Never before had I witnessed something so beautifully shattering. I was ready to die with that explosion and it felt as if my life was complete. And in that moment it really was. Nothing could match the emotions I felt then. Happiness, hope, love. Love – one of the rare times when I actually felt it. I cannot describe the intensity. I fell in love with myself then. It was madness! My orgasm ricocheted not just across my loins, it was the origin of it, yes, but it traveled all the way up and down; from my head to my toe. To my navel, to my chest, to my heart, to my thoughts, to my dreams, to my self-esteem. It traveled to those realms as well! Can you believe that? Those were not merely repeated convulsions! Those were much powerful than that!  I had no idea that I had the capability to feel that way. And you know how the astronomers say how there are traces of big bang still spread across our universe? Like that I have traces of that night spread across me still. Often it invokes in me a feeling of longing. And I often wonder what if I never experience something like that again. But I am okay with that. I mean I would love it if I could go a level up too and explore further but I am not going to pressurize anyone or myself. Most of the amazing things happen just once in our lives, like this day right here, that’s what makes it more special. Doesn’t it? So, I am okay with this separation and linearity as well.  The memories mostly inspire me. They tell me that I am worth being sunk in those gigantic waves. That I am worth witnessing that power. That I am worth feeling that way. I deserve nothing less. It’s ironic – this statement. But it keeps my spirit high and makes me respect myself more. Ah, that night though! That night – it was infinity. It was the circle of life. It was subatomic particle. It was the eternity of universe.”

“Boy!” I muttered as I sat enraptured imagining what I couldn’t possibly imagine. ‘Atoms’, you know, as someone would like to call it. But I kind of wished that she had explained the whole scenario from the beginning and not just the end point. So, I added quietly hoping that she’d address my remote but yet influential perverseness as well by giving a few insights on how to traverse and find the road whose destination was so magical, “The guy, the guy that you slept with that night, MUST have been really good.”

“Absolutely! Except that there wasn’t one.”

***

How not to, humour, Narratives, philosophy

How to open the door the correct way

I am sitting on the pot, locked inside my bathroom clutching an unusual realization with me, “I am going to die today.” I am aware that it’s a bit uncommon thought considering the location. After all, relief is what they call is a bathroom’s real forte. But I am far, far, far away from that emotion. I am drenched in anxiety. I am assailed by the kind of panic that surpasses my worst panic attack by hundred folds. I am going to die today. Right here. For a twenty-two year old young woman like me, who has been blessed with good health, this scenario doesn’t make sense. I shouldn’t be thinking like this at all. But here I am – inches away from jumping off the cliff into my after-life. I know it’s a pretty weird spot to have death embrace you but it’s too late and there is nothing I can do to change this. Death is near; a mere mutter of “I do” away. I can already hear his steps approaching. Thump. Thump. Thump. My heart is in my throat. I am breathing at a frequency which even the latest processors can’t match. As a desperate attempt to distract me, my brain performs an old trick – it throws me into a day-dream. But wait, it’s not usual milk and roses dream. Even in the crucial times like this, my brain can’t let go of his sick sense of humor. He throws me into the dream that intensifies my panic. Can you believe that guy? In my head, as I time travel two to three days in the future, I can see my mother returning home to find our house in a perfectly normal condition. Perfectly normal condition except for the terrible stench. “Where is it coming from?” She wonders. She enters my room. The smell intensifies. Maybe a rat died in the bathroom. She tries to open the bathroom’s door. But it doesn’t budge. It’s locked! Now, she begins to grow anxious. Something is wrong. This stench is too strong to belong to a dead rat. Or the rat is too smart to lock the door. She tries to break open the door but it’s too heavy. She can’t do it. Her brain has already started formulating alternative plans. She rushes downstairs to the fifth floor immediately where she remembers she may be able to find a carpenter. The moment she enters the apartment, carpenter stops his work and stares at the woman’s grim face sprinkled with sweat. Something’s really wrong, his intuitions tell him. Slowly and calmly he asks, “Kya hua Madam?”
“Darwaza todna hai.”

The carpenter doesn’t ask any further questions. He abandons his work, accompanies her upstairs, to my home, to my room and ultimately to the bathroom door. The wretched bathroom door. It doesn’t take the carpenter long to break the lock. He takes a moment before opening the door. From the smell he can guess what he is about to see is going to haunt him for a long time. He slightly pushes the door and it swings open slowly, as if gracefully preparing them for a horrific sight. The woman behind him has already fallen to the floor, unconscious.

I never thought that the first one to see my dead body would be the person whom I had never met in my lifetime. I kind of always fantasied that my death would be glorious one. Glorious not in the sense that I hope to die at a war. By glorious I meant I die in the arms of a loved one. I die with smile and contentment. But this death is the exact opposite. I have never felt loneliness like I feel right now. I never thought I would die in a toilet. I never thought I would die grieving over my youth and all the dreams that I had once hoped to realize. I had always hoped that I would die with all my dreams already turned into reality. How cruel fate can be!

I had been so engrossed in my day-dream that I had completely grown oblivious of the banging and voice coming from the other side of the door.

“Are you there? Answer us!”
“Yes, I am here. I am here.”

My friend had been standing outside the bathroom for a long time. I had been standing inside the bathroom for a long time. All I originally wanted to do here was to pee in peace. Since I had guests with me – my friends, I had taken extra precaution of locking the door behind in order to avoid any potentially awkward situations. We weren’t after all in a usual state of mind. Well, congratulations, there will be no awkward situations. They can’t get in even if they tried their best.
When I had been asked to pull the latch even harder after my multiple futile attempts to open the door, I had mustered all my strength and broken it instead. The broken piece is still lying on the floor. And yes, that’s why I am going to die here today. “You can do this,” my friend says again. “Wash your face. Breath. Breathe, okay? You will figure out a way.”
Figure out a way? Yeah. Right. I wash my face anyway. I am never getting out of here. Could be that my friends, on the other side (on the other side of freedom!) figure out a way to open the door. But it will be too late by then. I pick up the piece, to acknowledge how a tiny thing is going to result in my death and then suddenly I am greeted by a tiny ray of hope! I discover that there are threads in the end. Threads mean that the piece is not broken but just detached! Brimming with joy, I insert the piece in the gaping hole of the latch that had been terrorizing me until now and rotate it in. It’s moving in! Maybe I won’t die after all. Boy, I had been so stupid! Filled with hope, I try to open the door again.

Jammed.

Still jammed.

Never mind the fucking threads.

Perfect! The carpenter has called my neighbors. My mother is conscious and furious. Furious. Not sad. Not weeping. Not wailing. FURIOUS. Because that’s how her daughter died? In a bathroom? From a drug overdose? And which drug? Cannabis? Seriously? No, that’s not my daughter. This is not her. I don’t know who this girl is. Take her body away. Take her to a morgue. Dump it. Do whatever. This is not my daughter—

“There?”

That’s my friend again.

“Yes I am here. Not dead. Not yet…”
“Breath, okay? Try to open the door again.”

I take a few deep breaths. I approach this monstrous door, devoid of hope for any success. A funny thought strikes me then. What if you pull the latch on the opposite side?
The opposite side? But that’s the wrong side!
I would lock myself further into this hell! Crazy or what?
But what’s the harm in trying? So, I try anyway.

The lock slides with an unbelievable smoothness. The door is open.

THE.DOOR. IS. OPEN.

I was pushing the latch in the wrong direction this whole time.
I am overwhelmed by relief and happiness and suddenly a deeply profound thought dawns upon me – Maybe that’s how it works with life. We are trying to push the doors open so hard but nothing works even then. Maybe we need to sit back and breathe. And the solution, an incredibly​ simple and obvious solution, will appear out of nowhere. Push the lock in the other direction. It’s that simple.
Door swings open.
Life swings open.
I am laughing. All my tears that contained panic a while ago contain nothing but joy. My friend, my beloved friend throws an incredibly annoyed look at me. I apologize. I need to. I must. I ruined her beautiful date with Mary after all. I am sorry. I am so sorry.

But did you notice how simple it is? Push the latch on the opposite direction and that’s how you open the door the correct way.

***