Dream Solutions

My dreams have never been the garden-variety stuff. No siree, they are the stuff dreams are made of! :)

I have full scale Bollywood style dreams, complete with clashing colours, melodious songs (which I really wish I could remember after I’ve woken up), and fights and chases. Unlike Bollywood movies, however, my dreams don’t drag on. They have this annoying habit of evaporating just as I am grappling with some existential crisis, and am waiting with bated breath to see how I will work my way out of this one!

Quite often, I get this dream of trying to get somewhere, maybe the airport, my home, an important event, something. And of course, the autos in my dream are true to real life — they refuse to co-operate. They often go the wrong way, I get into a fight about the meter reading, they take on more passengers to my discomfort, and in short, I seldom reach my destination. Actually, make that never.

So, it’s been a pleasant surprise to me that in my latest few dreams, I have not only managed to get an auto, but have also reached my destination intact!

Is this a sign of things to come? Have I been a pessimist all this time, and am now gradually converting to optimism? Or is it a sign that autos in Bangalore are going to turn over a new leaf?

Maybe I’m being a bit premature and jumping to conclusions. I think I should give it a few days, or rather, nights, and see if these positive dreams still persist. I must admit it feels good to wake up feeling as if a mission has been accomplished! :)

The Business of Busy-ness

Oh my! What a week it’s been!

First, there was entertainment for our block dinner to organize. Brainstorming about a unique format, fielding calls from parents eager for their kids to perform, trying to come up with good prizes, getting together all the props for the games…that was a breeze, wasn’t it?

Of course, it went off great! The kids had a blast dancing away on stage, everyone pitched in good-naturedly to play the games, and we (a fellow resident and I) could put up our feet happily at the end of it all. The biggest surprise package? Lil D, who had the role of MC suddenly thrust upon her, and I am truly proud to say that she did a whopping top job of it!

It didn’t help that the very next day was Lil D’s birthday party. A theme party, the theme being Harry Potter. Oh yes, the girls are truly, madly, and deeply into HP! So there were wands and badges to make, classes to arrange, and the Triwizard tournament to prep for. No easy task this, and I sleep-walked through it all.

The evening began soon enough, wands chose the wizards, the sorting hat was sorely missed (and so was Slytherin, to avoid ill-will!), but sorted they were. Potions class saw them making some of the yuckiest tasting potions (with all edible ordinary ingredients labelled exotically). I urged them strongly not to drink if they felt even a hint of nausea, but these wizards have strong stomachs, I tell you! Transfiguration had them doing dumb charades to guess magical creatures. They even took an O.W.L (one of the HP Trivia quiz apps), and I am happy to say that most of them were Outstanding! (If only HP was a subject at school too – sigh!)

The Triwizard tournament saw them defending a fancy Russian egg from the other teams (the old dog-and-the-bone game, actually), rescuing a stuffed toy blindfolded (with confusing instructions being yelled out by members of all teams all together – oh the cacaphony!!), and doing a Word maze. The Word Maze, I am rather thrilled to say, was an invention of my own. It was a grid like a word-search, except that there was an entire continuous sentence hidden in there, which got one from one end of the maze to the other. They fumbled initially, but Lil D *astounded* me with the speed with which she cracked this! I really hadn’t expected that, but it was a fitting finale, you must agree. Gryffindor won, naturally.

They finished off the evening watching part of The Chamber of Secrets, and then proceeded to the Grand Feast, which I will leave to your imagination. :)

Well, that was that, I thought, and settled down to some well deserved rest. But the universe had other plans. I received a call from a student of one of the top engineering colleges in the city, requesting me to judge a creative writing contest! Well, you know me. Just jumped up and off I went.

If I ever meet you in person, remind me to tell you about the most hilarious incident that happened en-route. I dare not put that down for posterity, for fear it will jinx me in some way or another. :) But suffice it to say that I arrived at the venue in literally good humour!

What a lovely afternoon it was. And how lucky I was to get to read some really good writing. The first prize was a winner all the way. The second prize was beautifully lyrical. All in all, it was an experience worth having. I’m so glad I put aside all my inhibitions and agreed for once.

Well, apart from missing the cricket matches, and the budgets, and the cycling marathon, and every other thing, I’ve been doing pretty well.

So, how busy have you been? ;)

FOMO

Settle down for a leisurely read of the morning newspaper, and bam! The metro section has whole pages devoted to what’s happening around town. There are plays to attend, music and dance performances to enjoy, talks and lectures galore, meets and treats a-plenty. Your ten minutes of newspaper reading is replaced by this restless feeling that you’re not really doing anything worthwhile in this city.

Check your email, and whoosh! Inundated with events happening around the community, a spot-fix here, a protest there, a tournament here, a gathering there. Here a thing, there a thing, everywhere a thing, thing! And what do you plan to attend? Absolutely nothing, ’cause, you know, the child has a party and a test (yeah right!), and you’ve got some errands to run, and checkups that can take the whole day… That restless feeling surfaces again, and you wonder if you really can’t take out the time, or just won’t.

Login to Facebook, and the whole world appears to be doing So Much More with their time. A tiny part of you does acknowledge that it’s actually different people doing different things, but it all coalesces into one giant “THEY” against one tiny “you”.

Go down for a walk with friends, and hear what great bargains they got in the sales, and which movies they saw, and what yummy dishes they’ve cooked. You console yourself that you’re not really into sales, none of the movies lately are worth watching, and as for cooking, the less said the better. But you’re acutely aware that there’s a whole world out there that you’re missing.

If there’s only something more I could do, you muse, as you put in your hours of official work, cook all meals (since your cook has decided to take the day off), run quick visits to the store, attend your dance class, help out your parents, do some prep work for the upcoming (yet again theme!) birthday party, run around for your apartment block dinner that you’re helping out with, follow-up on vacation plans, and of course, write your blog post. And it’s just six in the evening, there are another six hours to go at least before your day ends.

Sigh.

:)

A Little Extra

Last night, I was watching Monk with Lil D. (That’s about the only TV viewing I do nowadays!)

There was a scene where Monk makes a 911 call. The emergency worker who answers the call has a few lines to say, and a few minutes of screen time.

Much later, for some reason, I began thinking about her. I wondered how many years she’d been working in showbiz, trying for show after show. Imagining her joy when she found out she’d been selected for Monk! The anxiety with which she must have practiced her lines and trembled with nervousness when it was her time before the camera. The reaching out to all friends and family when the show aired. Watching as she came on, wishing she could have done something a little different. The accolades showered on her later, the prophecies that she was now one step closer to stardom. And then – oblivion.

OK, maybe it wasn’t exactly like that.

It struck me that on the grand stage of life, we are all just extras, basking in our own spotlight for a few minutes. I guess there are really very few people who can be called the main characters. Maybe those who influence and affect the world at large. Even those giants we look up to — so many of them were recognized only after they were long gone.

I don’t really mind being an extra. As long as I say my lines the very best I can, I guess it’s all ok.

Running Away With It

One phone call, and suddenly, I was in the middle of it all, helping in organizing the Republic Day celebrations.

Republic Day was celebrated this time with a mega sports event in our apartment complex. The run-up included football, tennis, TT and chess matches. The day itself saw a pretty huge turnout of children and their parents, all raring to go. It was so heartening to see everyone upto their gills in enthusiasm, including the adults. The little ones were, of course, the cutest, even when they burst into tears or wore huge smiles at the end of their race. The track events went on well into the afternoon, and the evening saw a happy crowd. All the prize winners were aglow with their medals, and all participants were smiling because they too got participation medals.

What I learnt:
1. Lil D has an AWESOME memory! She could identify practically everyone, including their flat numbers, and almost didn’t need the lists we were running around with! Now if only she would put it to good use for other things :)

2. Some folks are REALLY competitive! Everything HAD to be won by them or their family members. It was a bit frightening for me to see the fierceness with which they approached the events.

3. The medals matter. A LOT! Some kids (and their parents – that’s another story altogether!) appeared to be focused more on the medals than on their performance. I heard some kids even went to school the next day wearing their medals proudly.

4. Boys turned up in huge numbers. Sports is a good way to get them involved in the community. The usual singing and dancing cultural stuff bores them to death, I think.

5. Much as I appreciate MS-Excel, I get really annoyed when I have to work with it for long spells!

At the end of the day, I was so tired that I just crashed early and didn’t wake up even once before the next morning. And that, believe me, is a really good thing!

In the Line of Fire

I can’t be really sure, but I think it began with the elections and Modi’s subsequent win. Suddenly, there was tension in the air. People began no-holds-barred sparring with anyone who opposed their views regarding supporting Modi and the BJP or not. The former group saw, and continues to see, everything raised by the opposition as a red flag; the latter group viewed, and continues to view, everything remotely related to (and not even related to) the government as evidence that India is rapidly converting into a rabid Hindu nation.

There have been several other battles that I have witnessed (primarily online) on several other topics. Whether it was Ferguson in the US, or the Peshawar terrorist attack, or even PK, everything right from idealogy to semantics is under attack. Perhaps it’s just me, but I have begun to get the sinking feeling that intolerance is raising its ugly head just way too often of late.

Is it so difficult to see someone else’s point of view, even though you might hold radically different views? Is it so difficult to agree to disagree, rather than browbeat your opponent into submission?

For every point, there is an equally valid counterpoint. For every fact that comes up, there are several other facts that will see the light of the day much later. Things are seldom written in stone, things are constantly in flux, and people don’t seem to realize that opinions can change over time, with new facts, age, and wisdom.

The latest event polarizing the world as I know it is the Charlie Hebdo attack. I am in agreement with, and have nothing much to add to the numerous opinions that have already been expressed, unequivocally condemning the attack. Personally, I would hate to hurt someone with insulting or degrading cartoons, but I also understand the value in a completely different perspective of things we take for granted. Sometimes, we are shocked into re-evaluating things that we have grown used to, and humour/satire is very potent. The ability to laugh at something is far better than killing off everyone you disagree with, which is a definite no-no in my books.

Horrific as it was, what struck me most about the entire thing was the kind of coverage the Paris attack got. At almost the same time that I saw this breaking news online, I read a report about a ghastly terrorist attack in Yemen that killed 33 people. It was awful and bloody. I could not believe that no one was even mentioning the Yemen attack. The report sank into oblivion. I know this happens routinely, but this was the first time I witnessed it for myself. It seemed to me that the world that was so quick to condemn the Paris attack was hardly bothered about almost thrice the casualties in Yemen. Where was the fairness in all this?

I guess we learn quickly enough that life isn’t all that fair. Much as we would like to pretend we are more civilized than our predecessors, the rule of the jungle still prevails. Guns speak louder than pens. All over, there is a struggle for power over others. The only difference is that now we are more removed, more distant from the damage we inflict. We do not bloody our hands, we merely squeeze a trigger. In the jungle of this world, I guess it would do us good to remember that we are always in the line of fire.

Three Words

Today I saw a poster that said:

In Three Words, I can sum up everything I’ve learned in Life –
It Goes On

That reflects my mood exactly.

The latter half of this year has been depressing in the literal sense. I’ve never felt this down and out in my life before. As I was explaining to my mom: It feels like I’ve just lost all hope. And life without hope is pretty much meaningless, isn’t it?

It was a very puzzling time. I had no idea what was wrong or how I could put it right. I just did not want to interact with familiar company. Luckily, I could still be normal with DH and Lil D. Or complete strangers. But friends and family — I withdrew from them almost completely. I was irritated and restless and angry around them. I didn’t want to have anything to do with them. Try explaining that!

I even went to a doctor who promptly prescribed anti-depressants. That scared me even more. No way, unless I was so depressed that I couldn’t even get out of bed.

I did put in public appearances: I participated in a family wedding for three days(!), I went to a school and gave a talk on poetry and writing(!), I went for a movie… But all impersonal stuff, where I wouldn’t have to interact too closely with anyone. I just holed up at home otherwise, refusing all contact with the external world.

I don’t know if this will lift any time soon, but I’m trying my best. I’m stepping out now, making eye contact and smiling at other people, interacting with my friends and family a bit more. I’m trying, but sometimes, it just gets too hard, and I want to curl back up into a tight ball, close my eyes, and go to sleep forever. I’m blessed to have DH and Lil D in my life; they keep me sane.

I’m taking this one step at a time, and today, for some reason, I am feeling nostalgic (and a little rueful) about the many friends who’ve come and gone in my life.

So let me end this year on a happier note with the three words that always spread cheer and bring some hope:

HAPPY NEW YEAR!