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.



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:



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?

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.


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.

Raking It In

Though my tagline says that “Thoughts fall around me…”, I have seldom (I think never, actually) written on a collection of thoughts. I normally choose one thought and write on it. Today however, I feel like raking it all up and cleaning up the mental garden. So here goes:

1. Had an interesting discussion with another mother on how never to lose your temper with your child, and how to always allow them to choose between multiple choices. My take? We, the parents, are human too. We will lose our tempers now and then. Doesn’t mean we are terrible parents. I think the important thing for us is to ensure that the children understand that feelings are not all that bad, showing feelings is natural, and at the end of the day, even if we lose our tempers some times, we still love them and will always be there for them. Honestly, I think never losing your temper and discussing everything in an eerily calm manner is unnatural and unreal, and not a realistic environment for a kid to grow in. Tempers are lost; how we recover is an equally important life skill.

The other thing is about choices. I’m all for giving choices, but isn’t it equally important for kids to realize that sometimes there’s really no choice (or Hobson’s choice at best, if you insist)? Sometimes you just have to grit your teeth and get on with it (like going to school! :D), no?

All in all, I stand by my view that parenting ought to be tailored to the personality of the kids and their needs. Blindly adopting popular fads is rather risky.

2. I just hate old age. I’ve begun to hate it with a vengeance. The way it erodes the confidence, wreaks havoc on the body, plays games with the mind, strips dignity, burdens with helplessness… I feel I will never wish anyone “Aayushman bhav” again!

3. I attended a meditation class. My left brain always starts to tingle during the initial stages of any kind of meditation. This time, apart from the tingling, tears just rolled down my cheeks. I didn’t really feel any emotion, it was just tears rolling down. I felt incurious about them. I just let them roll their way down and they dried out on their own. Apparently, it is an outlet for suppressed emotions (from what I read up on the internet). Really?

4. Was reading up on depression and suicides and then Robin Williams happened. Almost as if it was inevitable. The way this fantastic person touched so many lives was almost too much to behold. The outpourings of grief were genuine, aching, the tears heartfelt. The inherent goodness some people possess shines through (like Kannada superstar Dr. Rajkumar).

5. Maids are both a blessing and a pain. Managing them takes more than an MBA.

6. I sometimes surprise myself with the amount of work I manage to fit into a day. Some days I’m so lazy, but the days that are packed teach me how strong I can really be. The proverbial last straw on the back is still a few straws away.

7. My body’s grown rusty. It creaks and needs oiling. I’m still making up excuses. When will I ever learn?

There — all nicely raked up into a heap.

OK, a few stray ones here and there, but I will ignore them for now. 🙂

Grey Matter

What a coincidence that I came across this article today, when I was mulling on the very same topic.

I decided to go grey abruptly in the middle of summer. The salon is just not one of my favourite spots to hang out. As my dye began fading away, I began dreading the countdown to the next salon visit. And then, just like that, I didn’t go. I felt a bit conscious that the grey was noticeably visible now. Lil D hated it. My mom and sis were like what’s the matter with you? But I just didn’t feel the urge any more. To hell with it, I thought. Life is not worth living if you have to worry about grey streaks every twenty days!

I don’t find it liberating in any sense, except for the fact that I don’t have to overcome my reluctance and trudge down to the salon yet again. Sometimes I can see what a difference hair colour would make. Then again, I think I’m ok. I tell Lil D going grey is in fashion. She pouts and walks away, unconvinced. I realize it doesn’t bother me any more.

Deep down inside, I’m actually looking forward to the day when I have a glorious mane of silver hair. It would look so cool, wouldn’t it? I’d simply love that! 🙂