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!

Nirvana?

I’ve become quite involved with the apartment complex activities.

For one thing, I’ve joined the group that works on Eco-related activities, such as garbage segregation, emphasizing the Reduce-Reuse-Recycle stuff, and so on. As part of this, apart from other things, I got a bunch of kids together, and we did a street play (with a dance added on later) that was much appreciated.

The other thing was getting involved in the Karnataka Rajyotsava celebrations. This time, yours truly wrote and directed a play for kids based on Swami and Friends, choreographed a dance for the pre-teens, and surprise of surprises, shouldered the responsibilities of MCing along with another friend.

It really helps that I have a rock-solid group of friends I can always fall back on, and turn to, for any kind of help. It’s good to work with like-minded people who focus on doing a great job.

What was curious about all this busy-ness is that I took it upon myself to do this voluntarily, something I’ve not done since maybe college. In spite of taking on so much, and falling ill with a virus that sapped me of all my strength, I didn’t feel strained or stretched. Instead I felt completely disconnected and more or less emotionless. I was not perturbed in the least by anything whatsoever. No butterflies in the stomach, breaking into a sweat, or getting a case of nerves. Just an eerie calm that surrounded me and made me a veritable island.

The only emotion I have now looking back is one of gratitude. I feel grateful that I had a chance to do what I did, and most importantly, grateful to the kids who placed such touching faith in me and listened to my every word. It was humbling to have so much trust reposed in me. It’s also been a (re)learning experience for me. I can only think of all the things that could have been improved.

Does this mean I’ve reached nirvana? A place where I’m able to accept whatever the fruits of my labour yield, where I’m able to work just for the sake of working? Is this wisdom or just a cutting-off, an isolation from the world, yet another manifestation of the blues?

Hard to say. We never stop seeking answers to the unanswerable, do we?

The Listener

An early Sunday morning-why-can’t-I-sleep-late-dammit-browse. A cue. An idea. A burst of writing. Hit ‘Send’.

Write it. Forget it. It was literally that.

Today, I remembered, and thought to check in. Nearly overlooked it. But it’s actually out there. So please read it.

Yes, I’ve still not completely gotten over my blues. But the blue is lighter now. A bit.

Meanwhile, I’m heeding sage advice from Dory: Keep swimming.

Follow The Feet

When I wrote the previous post, I was already in the middle of the worst funk I have ever experienced in my life. Absolutely nothing was penetrating that thick fog I was in the middle of, cold and alone, barely seeing things, just aware of drifting shapes in the periphery.

I was on auto-pilot. I woke up as usual, attended to the house and its inmates, met my deadlines at work, did my usual walk-n-talk exercise routines…nothing was outwardly wrong. But inside, I felt scooped out, hollow, just a shell. I spoke to my inner circle, trying to figure out what was going on. Tried reading, music, exercise, the works, but circled back to the same desperation, the same hopelessness that nothing really mattered any more.

Then, as if clutching at straws, I signed up for a Bollywood dance class. Now I’m not a complete stranger to dance. I prefer choreography. I used to watch the dance-drama ballets on DD avidly. I loved music that ignited my imagination. I thought getting out of the house and moving my body would help.

Picking up the steps required a bit of effort initially, but was not exactly difficult. Remembering the steps was also not an uphill task. But getting the body to follow exact instructions? Ah! That was a different ball-game altogether!

Neurons lying in a state of disrepair and disuse were revived. They wheezed and coughed and grumbled through the cobwebs and dust. The wiring was all faulty. Every now and then, a circuit completed successfully, and a light bulb crackled alive.

I sweated buckets. The blues didn’t miraculously disappear, but they did seem a bit paler with all the flashing lights. The body bent and stretched and twisted, the mind untwisted and relaxed a little.

Then, this Navaratri, non-stop garba/dandiya filled my world for a slice of time with other colours: reds and yellows, oranges and greens, mirrors and silver that caught and reflected the light in a hundred different directions. Step by step.

I’m learning to let my body take over for a change, to follow my feet. Let’s see where they lead me.

Nothing More To Say

I took a Songwriting course on Coursera last year around this time. Needless to say, it was an awesome course and made me marvel at how little things mattered when it came to perfection.

Here’s one of the songs I wrote. I like this song. I like the melody I put it to. It’s mournful, it’s fatalistic, it’s very me.

NOTHING MORE TO SAY

Searching for the right words
Diving deep
where the shadows weep
Chasing hidden pearls
But when I paddle to the shore
it’s clear I have
Nothing more to say
Nothing more to say
Nothing more to say

Always been a winner
Soared up high
Where the angels guide
Basking in the shimmer
the spotlight shone on my soul
I smiled — I had
Nothing more to say
Nothing more to say
Nothing more to say

Move on
Gotta move on
Move on
Move on move on move on move on

Fighting harsh terrain
This darkness grows
And the ghosts encroach
Breaking under strain
And when I curl up on the floor
I know I have
Nothing more to say
Nothing more to say
Nothing more to say

I think I’ve reached that point. I’m tired of all the noise. I’m curled up on the floor. I really have nothing more to say.

I’ll be back when I do have something to say.

Until then, hasta la vista, baby.