Cup of Thoughts- I

Hello all,

It’s been a while since I gathered the strength or willingness to directly reach out to you all. It’s not like I didn’t have thoughts to share (i always have thoughts to share) but I was waiting for something to stir me out of this mental hibernation I had purposely decided to settle into. And today on this rainy afternoon I managed to find it- or rather it found me.

I’m not going to go into detail as to what it is- I’ve decided to save that for some other day, but I do wish to share what it talked about.

While I was growing up, there was a small corner in my mind- one that didn’t indulge in mindless frivolities or amusing every minute of the day with a joke- in which a seed was planted, right at the moment I opened the page of a book. I remember that small corner getting more fertile and rich as I waded through classes, but all the more shoved away as I reached high school- perhaps due to my fear that it might be ridiculed, if exposed.

Now having passed those stages and after having experiences (both bitter and sweet) that honed me into who I am today, that small corner has matured, grown and occupied every rim of my mind, save a little for experience to fill. And now I find myself understanding every facet of life through this filter.

A thought I was fostering for a long time was recently addressed by a person I look up to, through a monthly letter sent to his readers, and that letter forms the content of ‘it’ today.

It spoke of the noise of the world. And by how each passing day that noise seems to grow louder and fiercer to the point that we’ve now chosen to ignore it and function along with it (i don’t know which is worse.)

When we stand on the cusp of adulthood, we’re asked to find our place in this world. Mostly through screaming what we are capable of accomplishing and grappling for that spotlight. We’re told that the world won’t notice us until we grab it by the collar and shake its attention towards us. That this world is a magnificent, malicious giant who won’t listen to you until you’re out there screaming ‘hey look what i can do’ with the rest.

My question has always been plain and simple. ‘What if I don’t wish to scream?’ What if the spotlight never appealed to me? What if in this world of distinguished humans who’re out there scaling new mountains everyday, I simply wish to walk along.

What if I choose to see the glass for what it is- rather than empty or full.

What if what I need in my corner of the world is the ability to simply be; without the looming threat of being ‘left behind’. To exist with art and find meaning on my way, while I try my best to foster love, kindness and empathy, should others ever need it.

I never wish to be part of this disorder. But rather help those who chose to lunge but are suffering. The letter said that beautiful things like art/poetry/love/kindness and empathy often come in a whisper. But since we’re all screaming and the noise is deafening, they whir past us. Some who’re wiser feel their presence at times but are unable to grasp it- the world being too big a distraction.

The world always seems too daunting to me. Too big for someone so small, so insignificant. I know that should I ever choose to scream along, my voice will be hushed before I’ve even opened my mouth, because I won’t.

That’s why I choose to remain in this corner, playing my part through what I write, hoping somewhere someone who’s stuck in the disorder bumps across it, and finds a moment of peace. Until then, I shall sit and nurture and grow as much as I can.

Go out there and make your mark. Look up at the stars more often.

If the disorder becomes too wild and you choose to look away from it, I’m right here waiting.

 

Until then.

 

Love always,

Your blogger.

Talk is Cheap

Every evening at six, I sit amidst a sea of people in a cafe farther down North. The air around me crackles with words I don’t follow. I can’t distinguish voices, so it sounds like a perpetual buzzing of the air. Mouths move, words are uttered but their meaning gets lost in a haze midway.

I take tiny, measured sips of my coffee, its warmth pulsating in my veins; it is my excuse for silence. The cubicle in which I sit is jammed with practiced smiles- not too much; not too little -and conspicuous gulps. The girl with a ruffled bow has her camera out already.

Someone utters something witty and our close knit huddle erupts in laughter. I don’t. My mind is befogged and I’m trying to focus on the label stuck to the bottle of hot sauce.
‘Manufactured in Hogsmeade.’ Peculiar.

I hook a finger in the collar of my turtleneck and pull, craning my neck slightly.
“Geez,” I glance at the sweater less arms around me, “doesn’t anybody else feel the brunt of December?” 

Someone nudges me on the side. I turn and behold a perfect set of eyebrows creased in confusion. Inquiringly, she jerks her head up a little (sensing that my mind was distracted) and attempts to pull me back into the hubbub of the group.

I smile reassuringly and pretend to listen but the buzzing continues. She grins and rejoins the conversation, triumphing at the outcome.
What are they talking about?

I get stuck on a boy opposite me. I wonder if anyone noticed the blotches of ink on his left hand. His eyes are puffy and shoulders are slouching. He looks exhausted and appears skinnier than the last I saw him. But he beams at everyone and clutches his mug tightly, holding on to the warmth he’s paying for.

I look away and peer through  the frosted window I chose to sit next to. The street outside is a greyish blur.
“From the other side of this translucent glass,” I muse, “we must be a blur too. Five silhouettes propped against the golden glow of a cafe.” 

Glancing above I follow a thin wire of dazzling yellow lights. They hang on rusted nails, hammered several Christmases ago.

I’m about to pursue the trail of lights when something happens. A voice hits me and the world zooms into sharp focus. I’m snapped back to clarity and the crisp sound of slurps and munches reaches me. The conversation is suddenly discernible.

“Did anybody notice the sky this evening? It was a distinct, rain-washed midnight blue and I could already see hazy outlines of stars appearing on the horizon when I walked here.” The scruffy boy opposite me sighs and looks around the table, hoping someone would mirror his spirit.

I smile at him feverishly.

See now the table has my attention.

How to Handle Life- 101

In my brief span of the last couple of years, a period I like to modestly refer as ‘the awakening’ I’ve been able to deduce a lot of conclusions about life- stemming mostly from my own, often disappointing experiences. I have always had this annoying penchant to be severely critical of every single incident that occurs in my life.

I sit still, place the situation on a table, turn it around and analyse it diligently until I’ve found a possible explanation. I always have to find an absolute answer; cannot tolerate ambiguity. Because of my belief that there is a certain pattern behind everything, I reduce a matter to its bare bones until I can finally answer the question-
‘Where did I go wrong?”  

It’s not entirely my fault- this knack for seeking absolute answers. INTJs tend to do that- A LOT.

So here is a tip I discovered during one of my analysis that I’d like to share today. A virtue (as I like to call it) I find myself a pro at practicing:

Apathy. 

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Don’t get me wrong, I do want the world to be more kind, compassionate and altruistic. But sometimes, you have to take some measures to protect yourself from humans- they can be pretty callous.

One such measures is cold and sullen ‘withdrawal.’

I find it typical and amusing when I notice someone’s childish attempts to try and incite a reaction from me, or briefly stating, to make me care.
I have this ability to switch from intense affection to mad indifference within days. All a person needs to do is disappoint, the transition is almost instant and often irrevocable.

This way, you’re saved from hours of pining and mooning over an individual who clearly doesn’t deserve that much time. You’re not resentful, it’s just the emotional maneuvering doesn’t have any effect on you.

If an individual or a situation is becoming an impediment in your mental and social growth, is stealing away chunks of your time- time you could utilize somewhere better, doesn’t acknowledge your value, exacerbates your anxiety than abate it-, this is what you do- you instantly yet gracefully uproot yourself from their life. The final nail in the coffin, ladies and gentlemen. 

Understand, there is way too much life yet to be lived to hand any kind of power over you to someone. Don’t waste time getting offended over things and people who won’t matter in a few years. Don’t give them the satisfaction of being offended. That’s what they want. Don’t fret and whine over ..humans at least find something worthy to sulk about.

Don’t compete with those you subconsciously know are inferior to you in every virtue possible. Let them do the talking, you stay silent, nod and smile. Or better, zone out. I often do that- it really helps. You don’t have to justify your apathy to anyone. If people are stupid enough to walk away from you- be smart enough to let them go.

Trust me, if you can master switching to ‘apathetic mode’ towards those who don’t reciprocate your emotional investment, you’ll live your life liberated from mental unrest or upheaval.

Indifference is a gift, my fellow hoomans. Embrace it. Invest only in those who invest in you. Shock them with your ability to be perfectly unaffected with a taxing phase. Remember,

For common people, a taciturn disposition is hard to come in terms with. 

(And if nothing else works out- go find some memes-they always help.)

Love always,

your blogger.

 


Note- I’m very happy to let you all know that I’ve begun working with the star stuffed team of Acadman as an Editor. It’s an independent student run website currently focusing on educational advancements and internship experiences for the students of India. 

If you have any experience to share from an internship you did, do contact me and I’ll see how we can publish it. 


 

 

Words Not Said Often

There is plenty of stuff we keep in our minds as we stroll through life everyday.  These subdued emotions have the power to untangle a lot of issues made complicated by our own selves, by not saying what we truly want to.

Women are usually grilled for this phenomena. To never tell what they honestly mean or want and somehow expect the other person to understand the labyrinth in their mind.

But I think this can be applied a little more widely. In some or the other way, aren’t we all the same at times? Feeling something we are too hesitant to voice out and  wanting the other person to just know. Or saying something we really want to but allowing some other contrary emotion like pride or hesitation getting in the way, failing us to speak what we wished to.

I’m sure everyone has gone through it.

The funny part is, even after realizing that confessing it to the person right there would save both of them a whole lot of drama, we still choose to play the silent game. I don’t know, maybe we enjoy it?

We’ve had this conversation in our mind where we’re about to blurt everything out but then it usually ends with this, “You know what? Leave it. It doesn’t matter.”

News flash: IT DOES.

You probably think that that girl already got a lot of compliments on her sweater so you resist adding more to the list.

Word Of Advice: YOU SHOULD.

Because at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter if someone else lauded her. You did and that made her happy.

You want that someone to text you?

Why play the ‘I’ll ignore you unless you text first’ game? Go ahead, say ‘Hi!’ It’ll save a lot of time wouldn’t it?

As it is people are more surprised by kindness than malice. Plus, if it makes someone’s day, why keep it inside? Tell her, her hair looks wonderful today. Tell him he makes surprisingly great coffee! Tell them their voice is brilliant and together they sound sublime.

Try it out, who knows, someday someone might pop a compliment for you too!

Have a great weekend! 🙂

The Art of Unraveling (Teachings from Me #6)

With the growing importance of the glittery facade of social media, it’s hard to know what’s hidden underneath people. Beneath the Facebook check-ins and instagram filters. We have long forgotten the art of slowly unraveling someone. Peeling off each layer only to find another happy surprise. Now we’re more inclined towards rummaging through  Facebook posts and ‘getting to know the person.’ We get to know about the other person’s pretentious virtual life, but do we ever try to unearth how that person loves his coffee? Or the story behind the mystery bracelet she wears all the time?

A long time back I read about how relationships these days have too much involvement. You see, when you already learn too much about the other one just by scanning every post on their account, no sense of mystery remains. There is no thrill. No surprises. No sense of tingling when you realise you both love the same book! You already are aware of mostly everything. Plus, you are ALWAYS connected which sometimes may result in things going a lot more quickly, against their natural order.

These days, people prefer speaking more and listening less and think of it as a healthy interaction whereas it’s the exact opposite. If you just listen carefully about the things someone talks about and pay attention to the details, you’re already diving deep in their heart, a place not many people care to look.

Try asking questions that open them up. Questions that are seldom asked in casual conversations. If you don’t intend to be just anybody in their life, then don’t ask questions that just anybody might ask.

Try to hit the higher note.

Don’t remain in the shallow waters. Like I said, dive deep. Deep inside their heart and view the parts of them not many get to see. Compliment them. Celebrate them. Nurture them. This is no ordinary place my friend, it’s the center of their soul, make it your safe haven. Make it your treasure trove. Then, only then you’ll get to know who they are as a human, not just a mere artificial persona.

A few things you can ask to understand someone better:

1) Ask them about their favorite song. Most of the time, you’ll get to know a lot about their emotions.
2) Ask them how do they feel about their future. Are they scared? Excited?

3) Talk about their passion. Or if they love art. What do they see in art?

4) What’s their favorite place to travel and why?

5) With whom would they most like to travel with? 

These kind of questions (I believe) help hit that point in someone. We sometimes presume that these questions are too personal or sensitive to ask and the other person might not want to answer them or they might be ‘too forward’ but the truth is, people never get to listen to these answers because they never ask them.

They’re too engrossed with whether or not they appear pretty or that they don’t get ‘too awkward’ or do something ’embarrassing.’

The point is to ask these questions! Would you feel comfortable in talking about all this stuff? If yes then you should seek someone who’s equally dedicated to talk about it too. And if they’re too cold, I guess that’s a warning signal?

It’s important to establish a strong mental connection. It would not only help your relation grow, but would also help you personally.

Let me take a selfie?

Today was a good day. I’ve had a really busy last week, with my college event lingering like Satan above my head to all the friends who were waiting (and still are) for me to catch up.

The event went AWE-FRIKING-SOME. The audience said I gave a reverberating welcome speech, full of pithy and vigor. Woot Woot!

As for the ‘friends catching up’ thing. Ahhh, we all know how bad I am at socializing. But I did manage to go for pizza with a friend. Which was fine and all.

Now, let’s get to the point.

I’m not very active on social media, but I do  bump across photographs of various girls in ..umm ..peculiarly scrunched faces. Two words I hate:

1) Pout.
2) Selfie.

Combine both of them, and you get a deadly equation:

Pout+Selfie=17412894723852859 Instagram Likes.

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I’m not being narcissistic or condescending here, but it saddens me to see the virtual non-existence of natural smiles. What happened to “Say Cheeeeeseee?” How did it get replaced with, “Make Pooouuuutttt?”

I see carefully crafted poses practiced a thousand times in front of the mirror. It’s like people are so much into aiming for perfection that they’ve forgotten what it’s like to be Raw. To be Crude. To be Imperfect.

Everything is revolving around selfies these days. Two things prompted me to write this. One, I saw an advertisement of a cellphone today. It said, “Here’s the new ‘XXXXX’ phone specially designed to take ‘Perfect Selfies.’ ”
Gone are the days when people checked the RAM or the OS of the phone people.

Two, while gorging myself on pizza today, I picked up my friend’s cellphone and was almost going to take a picture when she says, “Aakansha taking a selfie-now that’s something rare to watch. You would never make a pout, would you?!”

I rolled my eyes.

Understand this- I’m not condemning the idea of poses, but there’s a limit to everything. The line has been crossed.

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Either something is terribly wrong with my generation or something is terribly wrong with me. All THIS, the excessive self-obsession may seem futile and innocuous at the moment, but I fear what lies ahead.

Girls are getting OBSESSED to the point where it’s getting downright annoying. If the selfie isn’t perfect-it’s damnation. Hanging out is more for Snapchats and less for interacting. The thing that bothers me is-why isn’t anyone else seeing this? Why can’t anyone else realise what’s wrong?

Tell me fellow bloggers- Don’t you think a picture when clicked by someone else is much more natural and prettier? Think about it. I don’t even remember when was the last time a stranger asked me, “Ma’am ..would you please take a picture of us?”

They all just stick to each other and click a picture of their heads.

Anyway, I’m a sucker for natural smiles and giggles and kisses and not hugs. (Hugs are awkward.)

I’m surrounded by pouts and duckfaces. But I still grin with my 32 teeth. 😀 (Wait, I guess I should count.)

STAY RAW. STAY BEAUTIFUL. 

Golden Jasmine.

It’s a bumpy ride. A rather funny one, I suppose. I see heads swaying in various directions in perfect synchronization, as the bus roars it’s way through the crowded market, unsuccessfully trying to dodge the potholes and the badly constructed road (I’m not sure if it was even close to being called a road). I glance a look outside the blotted window, men carrying herds of goats, hoping to find a good pasture for grazing. And sluggish goats trying to make way, still drooping from the morning laziness. Rich men negotiating a deal for a proper slave. I see ladies in fancy gowns, with a matching umbrella (probably protecting them from the sun that never shone in these parts) eyeing us cautiously as the bus passed the market.

I closed my eyes and breathed the damp air. The sky was overcast (which was a common affair here) and it was really soon when there was a downpour. I closed the window to protect my sweater which Mother had so firmly sewn. She had stitched a jasmine in the center and green stalks protruded out of it in the direction of both of my arms. Father once told me that the day I was born thousands of Jasmines had blossomed in our garden. “It was magical,” he had said.

Although living in a foster home wasn’t something I’d expected since the day I came to know the meaning of the term Foster. But it all happened too fast. Father never returned from work and mother hurriedly packed my things in a small jute bag and while she helped me hop into the cart, I felt the very last sensation of her lips on my forehead, and then she was gone. We reached a street, not very far from the market. The houses were all the same. Brown roof and cream walls. It all looked like one big chain of perfectly aligned squares. Walls were moistened from the rain, people trying to cover their roofs with plastic  sheets to prevent dripping in the rooms.

The jasmines in this town changed colors. Every season marked a different color and to my fascination-this season they were golden. Not the neon and sparkly one  but a soft yellow glow like that of a firefly, only lighter.

We were each led to our assigned houses. Mine was the same as the rest. A lady in her early 40’s, yelling and cursing the children to work. The man of the house oblivious to the miser condition in the home. On my first day to the local school, while my teacher recklessly took the attendance, something else caught my attention. “Jasmine” No response. “Jasmine!”

Startled by the hysteria, I called for my presence which was just physical, for my mental self was far away in the fields. In the recess, I skedaddled my way towards the other side of the pastures, near the oak tree; jumping over the hill and the ridges till I was finally standing over him, overshadowing his enormous body. He was a man in his late 60’s. He wore a brown coat which looked worn out and a grey hat covering his left eye. The lines on his face signified he worked hard and his hands were covered in dirt. Streaks of  ripe gray hair resting in the unripe brown ones.

Popularly called Mr. Tuberk, he glanced his way up, “What are you doing here little one? Shouldn’t you be at school?”
“Yes, but I ..”

Perhaps he understood why I had come when he noticed my attention towards his Mouth Organ. Not a very fancy one, but it was a wooden rectangle, polish withering out from the corners where it was carefully and skilfully carved  ‘T&G’.
“You like it?’ he said with an amusing smirk. I nodded. Apart from Jasmine’s I had a fascination for music. In my previous town I used stand outside the sumptuous bars just to listen to the music they played in the evening.  It had hardly been a week when we became from strangers to friends. Every day I  anxiously waited for the school to get over to see my friend while Mr. Tuberk never failed in welcoming me with open arms.

He used to play his Mouth Organ and I listened and waltzed around. The tune permeated my soul, lifting it above. Occasionally I used to save the sandwiches from recess while he brought some chestnuts and we used to eat them in the evening breeze, saving some of the leftover chestnuts to munch later. I sometimes  wondered if Mr. Tuberk ever had any family. Or why did he prefer being alone under an oak with a 10 year old girl rather than drinking and laughing in a bar.

I saw a sad face with a defeated smile when I asked him the reason for his solitude. “You ask why I like your company? Do you know that a jasmine soothes the air with it’s perfume and removes the stench away. Who wouldn’t want to be around the scent of the pacifying jasmine.” I looked down towards my sweater confused. Did my sweater had a scent? Maybe mother cast some magic spell.

Mr. Tuberk laughed briefly. “I had a daughter just like you. Gemma. (T&G – Now I see) She used to love my Mouth Organ. And every evening we used to sit here and I played while she read a book or sang along. It was our favorite part of the day. Sadly she came with a little time on earth. That’s why I still come here every evening, reliving her presence, maybe the soft breeze or the shade of the oak bring me some refuge. Ease my pain a little. Clean the stench of her absence, mend what’s broken.”

It was very soon when I realized what he meant. My sweater certainly did not smell, but it was ME. I WAS THE SCENTED JASMINE OF HIS DRY GARDEN. I was the rainbow in his clouded sky. I was the sunshine in his foggy street and I was the thread he was holding on to. I did not respond, but we continued to meet up in the evenings and played and danced until the moth hour of eve. Or sometimes even after that, when the little white pearls peeked out of the black velvet sky. Like dazzling diamonds carefully mounted over a black elegant cascade. We gazed at those selfless friends above, while a soft wind swept the arena- making the oak leaves above rustle.

Begin Again.

Honey, did you finish your breakfast?” said Skylar. Skylar Brown. A lady in her late 30′s as she fumbled across the kitchen counter, trying to close the lid of that new cookie jar she had recently bought. Looking at her, one could barely believe that she had long passed her prime of youth. Raven Black eyes, lips always glossed with that shade of Crimson she adored, curvy body, and golden and radiant skin that always glowed. Hair neatly tied in a top bun. One could easily say she had everything. A husband that loved her more than dear life itself.

The day she had transformed herself from Skylar Martin to Skylar Brown was (as she put it) one of the days she’d always be thankful for. David was the man she had fallen in love with, the first time he had bought him a chocolate ice-cream in the senior year of college. It had rained heavily that night, and they had stayed awake till the morning talking about each other, their likes, their family, their ambitions and even their differences.  They had both held on to each other even after 16 years of marriage. Both of them had got what they wanted. David was a Businessman and owned his own firm. It was what he and his dad always wished for. And it was this passion and future plan that he had told Skylar about, the night it had rained and also the night they had kissed for the first time. Skylar was a  writer. Or more like a novelist. Not a very famous one, but this was what she loved doing. She had always wanted to become a writer, because for her it wasn’t about money or fame, it was about the inner peace and serenity she got after finishing every piece of writing she ever wrote.  Two of her book’s had been published so far, and they were quite in demand at the local book stores.

She had a lovely house. A wooden cottage of two-storeys, with polished wooden floors. The walls were decorated with a galaxy of paintings of famous artists from around the world, thanks to David’s love for art. The furniture was made of dark ebony wood with curtains of a slightly lighter shade.

“Yes Mom”, said Lilly. A young brunette who had turned 15 last month. She had acquired all her beauty from her mother, as David often used to say. “I see you, when I see her” and Skylar used to melt a little more every time he mentioned this. Lilly was like a shadow of her mother in her yester-years. She was beautiful and attracted much of male attention, as one could see by the several number of boys with flowers that knocked every hour on birthday’s. Just like the boys who used to follow Skylar home after college, the boys who David hated from every nerve in his body.
This was Skylar’s life. A wonderful daughter. A loving husband. A perfect home. And a job that she loved.
“And mom, I’ll be a little late after school today, I’ve to attend Emma’s birthday party” said Lilly tying her hair in a pony tail.

“But don’t you have your tennis lessons, and what about tutoring the kids?” Skylar was disturbed.
“Mom? She’s my Best Friend. Didn’t you have any?”
And Skylar froze. She traced Lilly’s footsteps to the door and thud! The door was shut. Silence. She could hear her heartbeat co-inciding with the ticking of the clock. It was as if in this second, at this very moment, she had been awakened from a very deep slumber. As if she was stuck in between past and present. And the image of Natalie flashed in her head. She was shivering and perspiring at the same time. Slowly she gained control and sat down on the black couch near the Chinese yellow lamp, on the side table.

Natalie was her best friend since the time she couldn’t even remember. How could she have forgotten her?  She remembered the last time they had seen each other. The day Skylar had left New Jersey to follow her dreams. She had promised her she would call. But she didn’t. Skylar felt a lump in her throat as the guilt rose slowly from within her body.

She wondered if Natalie had become an Architect. She recollected how Natalie always expressed her love for Italian architecture. Did she ever made it to Paris? Or she ever got the chance to see the Indian Mughal Architecture she blabbered about? She remembered what a complete chatter-box she was, always on the height of excitement and forever giggling.

Skylar remembered how they had promised to stay together forever. How they had sworn to never let a guy come in between their friendship. How she had taken her stand when Skylar was accused of cheating in a test. She missed the warm christmas evenings they had spent together when her mother used to make hot soup and turkey while her dad narrated them old christmas tales.

A tear rolled down her cheek.  She couldn’t help but remember how Natalie used to proudly say, “One day, I’m going to plan your wedding”, and she hadn’t even invited her. It’s not that she didn’t want to, but time was not in her favor. Skylar felt extremely ashamed of herself. She had been so self-occupied and obsessed that she had forgotten all those who had loved her from the beginning and been there for her at every hour of her need. She remembered all her college buddies and how much she missed them. She missed being carefree. She missed her pranks and roguery . She missed running wildly in a game of ice and water. She missed pulling legs of people. She missed how she always became the princess in the game of “The Princess and the Frog” and lastly, she missed herself. She missed the old Skylar.

Slowly she got up, as she picked her purse and car keys. She took a glance of the empty house and went to the “Central Writer’s Publishing”. The same building she had been working in, from the day her first book got published. She knew it wasn’t too late, but she wasn’t sure if she was ready to do this. She picked up her phone anyway and dialled a number she had obtained from her mother. Her heart beated rigorously against her chest as the phone rang, when someone picked up the receiver, and there was this positive, exuberant,dynamic and energetic voice , that said, “Hello, this is Natalie Palmer?”

And a smile flushed on Skylar’s face.