10 Things About An Escapist

1. I like escaping reality.
2. I like reading books because in books you travel far and wide to places real and unreal and meet people fantastical and maniacal and you reach the end and it is just a kooky little world someone cooked up in their mind and used their hands to write it down using 26 letters and that’s all that is there to it. And that’s all it took to make me feel like I just lived a life far and wide.
3. I like movies because one day someone decided that the human kind needs to learn the power of imagination and that it is within us to give a form to that imagination and include all kinds of people into our little world to share stories about girls and boys and men with guns and aliens and that not only can you imagine but you can probably shape it too.
4. I like painting because I like colors and I like to feel my hand make something that my brain pictures and my eyes see and then give my opinion about the whole affair.
5. I like boys. Because sometime their words can bring about a physical change in me and make me smile and make me blush and make my stomach flutter.
6. I hate boys. Because sometimes they will say something and make me feel small and make me cry and break things and make me confused about why I am giving someone else have this power over me and why do I lie awake at 4 am picturing scenes after scenes of what was and what is and what could have been.
7. I escape reality every time I fail.
8. I like reading books because in books I can forget that I woke up that night thinking I wanted to kill myself and I didn’t want to kill myself and instead lose myself in a world where I can picture a different life far from here.
9. I like watching movies because in movies I see someone else’s what was, what is and what could have been and finally, what became.
10. I like painting because I can always paint myself – with more colors and start over.


My Graduating Speech

4 years and it ends. Change is a funny thing. You know it is inevitable, you look forward to it for the most parts. Every time when a semester ended, I couldn’t wait to just finish it all up and get over with the race. I wanted desperately to have change take over my life and turn it around. But now that I am here – 4 long years gone and change just a few moments away from taking over my life that I feel a little paralyzed. My brain is taking time to comprehend a situation it made many tiny movies about. My body wants nothing but to float in space. The scary thing about change isn’t that what I have come to know as life is going to be refreshed nor is it that I am scared of losing out on the familiar life that I got used to, but that nothing is going to happen until I let it.

Everything is in my control and whatever I do from now on will for better or for worse change everything or maybe it won’t change anything at all. But the control is in my hand. And that is scary. It is scary to be blindfolded at a spot and asked to find the bow and the arrow and shoot it. It’s nerve wrecking.

But it needs to be done. At the end of the day, the enemy that keeps us from moving forward isn’t the society or circumstances. They do create problems, but the real problem arises from much within. It arises from fear – the fear that is paralyzing my brain and body, the fear that is whispering in my ear that maybe I am not yet mature enough to handle a job or a big move, the fear that tells me I will fuck it all up. The real enemy is my fear that things will not be in my control, I am too small to keep anything in control and being in control is everything if I want to survive.

And this is scaring me.

So, I will step out of my body here, and tell this to myself:

“Take a breath.

Tackle one thing at a time.

It’s alright to be scared. I am not the only one who ever felt this. Most people out there are fighting the same battle within. So it’s my time to join the war.

Keep it simple. No one can keep everything in control. Not even Batman. And it’s not in the nature of the universe to be in control.

And it’s okay to screw up, make mistakes, fail, fall on the way. No one came here with a Dummy’s Guide on How to do Life. Its trial, error and DIY.”

Society vs. Individuality

Sofie Bird Moller, Interference We are individuals in this world seeking our individual fortunes. And though we are made of the same components we have our own unique differences, rendering us alike and different at the same times. Maybe it is that alike bit that brings about the craving in us to form communities and societies. In turn, we get boundaries in this expansive planet of ours to form a working civilization and pronounce the differences between other communities and societies. We form different ideologies of the same concept of spirituality and each one trying to force it on as many individual and driving a deeper wedge. So much so that it has almost become hard for many individuals to accept another as a mere human being because of their personal opinions or different experiences they had to went through.

Over time instead of reveling in the joy of being unique, who in a utopian world should have a right to their own individual thoughts, beliefs, value system are forced to herald together in a group and follow the one shepherd. We are brainwashed and forced to shun the voice in our head and follow the loudspeaker. And this has always encountered rebellion of some form by a small group of people. Be it the Romantics, the Expressionists, the Impressionists. Be it the rebellion of the flappers in the 1920s overthrowing the constricted, conservative society paving way for freedom of expression for women or in the 1960s when the hippies rebelled against consumerism and war. It has mostly been the generation of the youth who has rebelled against the existing system, but then it fizzles out as well.

Society keeps on labeling and categorizing everyone like commodities. In fact, this categorizing business has been so in bred in us at this point that we ourselves revel in it – are we a Chandler or a Joey? A Carrie or a Miranda? We are labeling ourselves, choosing to be 2-dimensional characterization of someone’s imagination rather than labeling ourselves as our own persona. The society uses the written word, the broadcasted voice, the pretty girl to tell us how we all should look, how should we dress, what we should think.

In our individual journeys, they create a virtual road block and try to paralyze our muscles, so that we forsake our roads to join in with the crowd, where we then are categorized and labelled from their existing categories. We are then told how to live a “safe” and “secure” life, so that we die a “peaceful” death, and do nothing that could anyway change the course of the society.

So did the society just win over individuality?

Artwork courtesy: Sofie Bird Moller,from her series “Interference”

Age is Just a Number of Candles on the Cake

It all started with the Queen in Snow White failing to grasp that aging is inevitable, you can’t go on a killing spree of teenage girls to call yourself the most beautiful. I believe it was her mid-life crisis that drove her to become a distributor of poisoned apples. The fear of growing old – everybody goes through it, and the Mad Men of the world take advantage of this very fact. They shove more fear down our throats and we in turn, give them all our money trying in all our might to try to stop something that is inevitable.

But why fear it? But more than fearing, why make it a taboo? Why consider crow’s feet or wrinkles or your sagging body the end of the universe? These are the marks that tell the world you have lived and seen this world a little longer – and that is exactly what we have come here for. Where is the shame in it?

I want to grow old. And I want to have white hair and wrinkles and laugh lines and I want to be hunched back and poke kids on the road with my walking stick. And I most certainly don’t want to be in my twenties my whole life. I also want to rub my experience over others and demand respect just because I am older than everyone else.

Everlasting youth is a fable that is being told to us day in and day out, and somewhere there, we are buying into it a little by little. But anything that overstays its welcome stops being fun. Edward Cullen did not get that shovel face because everlasting youth was treating him well, consider that. And if we start considering everlasting youth and immortality in all its seriousness, it will just mean scrolling down more of your newsfeed and more Nicki Minaj videos. Because be serious, what do we actually do with our non-arthritis stricken limbs and non-Alzheimer ridden brain? And is this what humanity needs?

Old age will mean that I will turn weak, fragile and wretchedly ugly, but then again, I came in as weak, fragile and wretchedly ugly. Might as well go in my natural state.

Photograph courtesy: Anastasia Pottinger

At The Crossroads

When I was 13 years old, I made my mum buy me a guitar. I learnt to play it for four years. And then I stopped. I realized it didn’t come naturally to me at all.

Things like music, art, they should flow naturally in your fingers or you are not meant for it. I still have my guitar in my old room. It serves me as a reminder that I take stupid decisions on whims and fancies. A lesson I can’t afford to forget even for a second. But I continue to make decisions, mostly the crucial ones, on whims. The results have been so far… interesting.

I have been reaching all over the place to touch my nose, being adamant and taking the roads with dead ends and searching for oasis in the middle of a desert, and being constantly fooled by the mirage. But what’s life without some trial and errors? A lot easier, I suppose.

But at the end of that day, I take responsibility for the failure of my decisions on myself. I wasn’t influenced by anyone, because the last time that happened, it didn’t turn out any better either. So the lesson here, no matter which road you take, the one less traveled or the other well-mapped one, there’s no telling if it will deliver you to your destiny safely and soundly. Potholes may crop up at will. The foresight to see the bump ahead in the road is no less a superpower than the telekinetic ones.

But the twist in the story lays right after you’ve had your bump. The cards are all on the table and you know you have the wrong ones. There’s no way out of this one. What do you do?

Do you take your losses in your stride and go back…. or do you gamble once again?

And who’s to tell, which of the choices would be the greater gamble?

Queen: A Thank You Note

I have a strict policy in my blog: no criticism of movies. Or fashion. Because I have very limited knowledge of either. And whatever knowledge I do have is entirely an audience point of view… a “masses” PoV. But I’d still like to talk about last Friday Bollywood release “Queen”.
And I don’t want to talk about how amazing Kangana Ranaut was, how beautifully she essayed the role of a naive girl from Rajori on her honeymoon alone. Or the credibility of the director who made such a feel good movie without ever stooping down to dumb down the movie for the audience. Or the brilliant supporting cast. Or the cinematography.

No, because, frankly, I don’t really have the required aptitude to go down to it critically. And I respect critics.

I would instead, use this small space to thank this movie.

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I would like to thank this movie to finally bringing into light that a woman just doesn’t have one chance at happiness – walking down the aisle or doing the seven rounds around the fire or uttering “qubool hai“. Marriage, settling down isn’t the end all or be all of my kind. A woman can find happiness in travelling just like the other half of the human population. A woman can find happiness in strangers turning into friends. And for being a movie that is a breakthrough, because now a little girl out there may get the lesson that she can find happiness in her ownself instead of the lesson that she needs to be saved. Especially coming from a place i.e, the movie industry, particularly Bollywood, which though has the means to empower and motivate women yet always chooses to objectify and suppress them.

I would like to thank the movie to show to the Indian audience the power of travelling. Alone. In unknown territories. It’s life altering power.

I would like to thank the movie to show that people need not be judged. A woman may like to have sex, drink like a whale and love her love child. A woman in prostitution need not feel like a victim of the system, and may enjoy her work. A man who has lost his everything may not want your pity. And your Grandmother also has a love story. I’d like to thank the movie because it did not succumb to stereotypes.
I would like to thank the movie for showing real, supporting family who do not put “What will society think of us?” before the well-being of their child.
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And lastly I’d like to thank the movie for not giving Rani a drastic “makeover” and showing her leave her fiancee in her way – with respect, dignity and that small “Thank you” that meant so much.
P.S. Also thanks for showing such an awesome Lisa Haydon, especially after her last screen appearance.

P.P.S Have a happy holi, guys. And no ugly pranks.

Of those unloved ones

People expect others in their life to accept them for what they actually are – skin, bone, soul, thought. It is after all a packaged deal and if you want an exchange, baby, that’s hurting. No one wants to change and no one wants to force change on anyone else either. It is after all about the genuine, unaltered and unadulterated experience. Which makes me wonder, if we expect other human being to accept ourselves for who we are, why are we that much more afraid of accepting ourselves – skin, bone, soul, thought?

One look at an advertisement endorsing magic products with unrealistic results or a person up in big lights with man-made beauty, that’s enough for us to brand ourselves with defects. Our ideas are not good enough for us. We are not smart enough for ourselves. We find so many faults with ourselves, we cloud our merits. I remember, one day I sat down and just wrote everything that is wrong with me and after a while I deduced I am a horrible human being. I could not come up with one good thing I could say about myself. Each and every day, we are rejecting ourselves.

It would be a realist thing to look at a spade and call it a spade, and maybe we all are realists here – but reality was giving me an internal haemorrhage. After the aforementioned experiment I tried, I secluded myself in a rather grimy place, some days against my own wishes. Masochism was fun for so long, the pleasure soon started to wane and all that was left was the pain – hollow and empty. Not the best of state to be in, but as Gotye says, “You can get addicted to a certain kind of sadness”. But resigning when you are young and beautiful is not the most fabulous thing to do. At all.

Doing the fabulous thing here would be examining the scars and the bruises. Trying to remember the story behind it, and realise you are a book. Dog eared, cracked at the bind, yellowing, warm things filled with dreams and stories to tell. If you think you are not as good as the person you are comparing yourselves with, maybe you don’t have to be. Maybe it’s just about being as good as you can get. Fitting in your shoes and walking all the miles. And if you have hard days and they seem to just schedule them all around your calendar, don’t curse your luck – that’s her job, to go bad at times. 5 years down the line, it would either be what changed your life or be too trivial to remember

We are not perfect, perfection is a concept. We are the real deal – dried skin, broken bones, tainted souls and perverted thoughts. We are all over the place, we are infinite.

Happy Valentine’s Day to you.