Umbilical Cut

When do we cut the umbilical?

You might ask; which? And I’d say; good question.

The obvious answer: when we are born. That’s the physical cut. I suspect, there is more to it, than the physical cut. The physical, does not necessarily undo the spiritual.

There are other umbilicals, though. The unseen – some spiritual, some emotional. Umbilical connections are liquid. Blood, sweat, and tears. When we connect, how we connect, we never know. But, we do.

We move away from home. We may stop thinking of home. Yet, we never leave home. There will always be a connection. It may or may not pull us back. But you cannot deny the connection. Accept it or ignore it. At your cost.

The umbilical is a sense of belonging.

And one day the physical is cut. And it is all over. It is not sad, necessarily. But, in a moment, it just does not exist. Did you have a choice? Did you choose? Did someone make the choice for you? In a slice of a moment; it is two.

It’s a memory now, a static set of audio-visuals, so to speak. Like watching a life of someone else.

I have been cut.
do not belong.
am free.

Seventeen-Five

True art is in the doing of it.

~ Jean Renoir

The above quote is from the chapter about showing up, the subject of my previous post. Some may agree with the quote, same may not. I have always found an immense pleasure in the doing; and in that sense, I agree wholeheartedly with the quote. It’s immensely satisfying to sit back, look at your work and admire it, whatever its form.

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The quote however begets the question: is it enough?

I think the context and setting will always dictate if the doing is enough. You may dance in your home, alone, for yourself, that is pleasure in itself. But if you want to make a career in dancing, someone will have to see it, appreciate it, award you. Where commerce rules, doing is not enough. The done has to be exhibited.

And that’s when showing up is not enough, you will have to show-off

All’s Well: Purposeful Moments

There is not a moment that stands apart – unless it is created purposefully, with intent. Each moment is a bad reflection of the previous one; like bouncing off of a cracked mirror. Can’t call out sameness even, but it is the same. An incremental distortion of sorts.

Those moments of intention, they stand out – brilliant, alone, and tall. In each slice there is a memory: fresh, fixed, and forever. These moments become the firm step which take us forward.

The moments that reflect off each other, they are imposters, like thin ice; they slow us down and could bring us crashing down in cold still water.

And therefore it is imperative to create purposeful, intentional moments. More we have, more we move forward, with purpose. Sturdy and reliable stepping stones towards a full life.

May there be many such moments.

All’s well.

Sweet Sixteen

It’s that time of the year. Again. The mandatory post of informing everyone how long this blog has been in existence. I say, in existence for a reason. To be alive and to exist, are two very different things. Often, incorrectly, used interchangeably.

Ten posts a year, eleven – if you count this one, does not a blog make. That is, not according to the old standards of this blog. There isn’t a global standard for frequency of blogging, so it really does not matter how many posts you post. So where’s the lament? That is something I have never explored. That, once there was a decent frequency of posts, is the only reference available for these lamenting anniversary posts in recent years.

This year’s theme for the anniversary post seems no different.

But perhaps, I could use this august date to discover why I have been posting posts of lament. Then, the post would not be a post of lament. This blog has always been about bloggable thoughts, so it would be worthwhile wondering if there haven’t been as many bloggable thoughts in the last few years. I’d posit, it is not true. There have been many thoughts, many ideas, many experiences, that have been bloggable. Even as I write this, the memories of all-things-bloggable flood my mind. And I wonder, why they never got blogged.

Things that had to be done to carry on the existence have hogged more time than usual, and hijacked the space and time required to be alive. That is the only conclusion I can arrive at. Which does pose the question, how much time to we really need to exist? At the extreme level, as long you continue breathing, existence is possible. But then what does being alive mean? All of us will have a different take on that – because it is intensely and decidedly personal. And an anniversary is as good a time as any other to think of how we allocate time to exist and to be alive.

It’s time to say yes, again. And again. And for different reasons. In different contexts. For different things.

Reflection

But then, like a pin-drop in a deathly silent room, you hear a question — what if you have changed and the blog needs to change with you? What if this is a split conversation of two selves reflecting differently off an image that once was?

That’s an answer for later.

*

Happy sixteenth anniversary, Gaizabonts!

A Short Story of Obsession

Decaying Leaf

There’s a story of obsession out there somewhere. How it came into being, and for sure, how it died away eventually. Or, how it became so large and violent that it consumed the obsessor, and died because it consumed what kept it alive and fed its growth.

I am not sure how the story goes, but I have seen a version of it, unfold itself.

Knock, knock. Who’s there. Opportunity.

Some of us have suffered temporary deafness. Especially when opportunity knocked. Either we didn’t hear it or we ignored it. Long after the opportunity took a flight far away, someone told us, that it was opportunity knocking. And helter-skelter we ran.

All that we could do now was, kick ourselves (which, come to try and do it, is not that easy). Of course, we assume that it was a good opportunity, which makes us kick ourselves. By itself, in absolute terms, the word — opportunity — holds in itself a positive, favourable intent. So, there, we have declined the existence of “bad” opportunities.

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Needless to say, possibilities exist. Every opportunity, holds within itself, a possibility. Some, which we hope will become a reality, some we dread, and hope that they live and die in our imagination. In an otherwise casual conversation, a friend alerted me about why, an opportunity, which I think I missed, was actually a blessing in disguise. Logic won with aplomb, and I agreed with him. Trouble, is as much possible as happiness is. I feel I should quote a great writer who said something about this subject. No one comes to mind. My mind splits and surfs two parallel worlds of an opportunity that could have gone either way. And I finely align myself to stay strong somewhere in middle. The middle, which is nowhere.

Time passes.

And I question, what I consider as logic, is perhaps only feeding a social construct, that restricts. Opportunity is a slave to conditioning, perhaps?

Finely Filtered Fragments

I haven’t published a post in a while.

Of all the places I should have mentioned it; was here. On this blog. But, no, I mentioned it on Facebook. Needless to say, I got all sorts of (entertaining) comments on my FB post. There seems to be an easy invite on Facebook and Twitter to post a quick and dirty which a blog post does not permit. Not by structure, but by purpose.

WordPress may beg to differ, but I do speak on their behalf.

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Micro-blogging networks, by virtue of design do not offer the gatekeeping that a normal blog offers. Longform writing is as much a victim as longform reading. As I write this post, I ponder on the pauses as I type. These pauses are exemplary of the sense of building a story; a construction, which is in absent in micro-blogging. The instantaneous nature of the medium, allows fine fragments to pass through, without filters. It is in the moment, without care and concern. It doesn’t matter anyway, because the nature of these fine fragments is transient. Within moments, the fragments, live a full life, die a natural death, go to heaven, and assume a new identity, which is unrecognisable. In short, no one cares. Lifetime in an instance!

#longpause

This post has no content per se; perhaps that is what makes it a unique post. Is it about the container? It is definitely an empty post. It has no story, no characters, no idea. And notwithstanding that, it has so many words. Is there any value in this post? Can a container have story? The container that has been selfless for so long; silent because what is contained has more meaning.

Does the container borrow meaning from the content?

 

Crowd of Strangers

Fill it up. Fill it up. Fill it up. Damn the blank page. Put words. Words. Words. Words. And drop it in Times Square, NY. None of the words will know each other, strangers from far off lands revolving on the axis of their feet, drowned in wonder. The crowd of strangers is what gives meaning to Times Square. Not meaning itself. The meaning is in the presence; not in anything else. NY winks and we miss it in the blink of an eye. It’s at its naughtiest best.

Bow to the city, it has seen the birth of your grandparents; it is witnessing your death. Never, ever, however, has a city wished for a birth or death. It is a witness. It allows all. It winks, often, (and you may miss it) but it never asks for either this or that.

Fill it up. Fill it up. Fill it up. Damn the blank page.

I’ll just put five words. I’ll call it abstract. Not for what it is, but for what I can hide behind.

Nay, nay, nay! This wasn’t to be. At the peak of the strange words, there was to be meaning. For me, for you. Running around the base of the pyramid I am lost; for no stone at the base is discrete. I have to climb! Something forms at the peak. And it is built by these abstract slabs at the bottom. I am a slave to how these huge slabs were dragged in place. Without ropes, without connections, I am dragged down. I stay here as if a mutual belonging exists; yet the apex.

May I flex my wrists and twist my ankles. Flex my muscles and twist my body. Shackles will be broken. I will be free. In a foreign land. In New York. In London. In Mumbai. My I see the cities winking at me. And jump on those abstract slabs. Thoughtful; unlike the agitated Prince of Persia.

Once again, watching the crowd of strangers.

When You Have Nothing To Say

I suggested a change in a WhatsApp school group. For a month, I asked, don’t post anything that is not yours. In other words, I asked my school friends, don’t forward any content that you have not created.

It has been a few days, and my school friends are trying hard. Many have stopped participating. I can sense, how they are holding back, forwarding funny, social, political messages.

Mostly, there isn’t much to say. But, since I asked that no forwards be posted, for a month, my friends have followed the rule. It has been a few days, and there have been no forwards. All our conversations have been about teasing each other. It’s a good thing. And there are gaps. Because we now can no more randomly forward anything, we are forced to talk with each other.

And it seems, that we don’t have that much to talk to each other. We feel that just because we are connected, we have to share something with each other. I have, for a while stayed away from this sharing. Our lives are so ordinary, we cannot extract anything of glamour from our everyday lives. So we share something that does not belong to us. As if, the content belongs to us. Just so that we will be relevant.

We have nothing to say. At best, we have little to say. But we want to say much more. But that voice is not ours. It is someone else’s voice that we are amplifying.

It’s ok to be quiet.

That’s All There Is

Ink and paper.

Blood and tissue.

Running Behind

It isn’t working out. Present continuous.

My July commitment, of a post a day has failed as of the middle of this month, and I am lagging behind. Seven days. Six, if this post ever gets published. The saving grace is that I have not been lazy. I have been busy on Twitter, Facebook, and oh-so-busy on WhatsApp.

Amba Ghat, MH, India

*

I even started reading a book. Then, I saw the comments of the folks who reviewed, wrote blurbs, and praised the book. Almost all of them were people I disagree with from an ideological point of view. 20 pages into the book. I am reading it, but I am not. A question lingers: If those that I essentially disagree with have endorsed the book, isn’t it obvious that I will disagree with what’s in the book? I linger on a paragraph. I am not reading it, I am seeing it. My eyes don’t dart the way they should, when I read a book. They hold a focus. It’s a form of slavery, I say to myself. To trust in reviews and endorsements. Reviews and endorsements by people who hold a common view, somehow, tell me of what to expect. 20 pages done. I wonder if I should just shelve it. I continue lingering on that paragraph.

Best case, I will learn something new. Worst case I would have gone through a few hundred pages of propaganda that I am already aware of. Should I pick another one from my unread shelf?

I have decided to read the book.

With an open mind. Books are ideas. They may be good ideas or bad ideas. Yet, they always inform us. Books are not good or bad for the ideas they present. They may be good or bad in the way they are written. There’s no such thing as a bad idea. Come to think of it. Ideas have a purpose and a content. Those may be at cross-purposes with each other. Not all ideas work. But ideas are to be celebrated. Even if they have no standing or a life. They have to be celebrated for what they offer and the story that they tell of the human progress.

Always chase an idea.

A Corrupt Artist

The Man in the Red Shirt, Ajanta Caves, MH, India

Humanity will survive even if every politician, every bureaucrat, and even the last common man is corrupt, to the core. The day the artist mortgages her soul to evil and greed, there will be no hope left. When the artist holds a mirror stained with corruption — and tells the rest of us, this is who we are, doom is imminent.

A corrupt artist is the indicator of the dawn of darkness.

*

But, how will we know, when such darkness is destined for us?

A Fresh Start

That would usually mean leaving behind everything of the past, and starting with a zero, as Tracy Chapman says.

One might say it’s a rejection of all that exists, leaving it all behind, and seeking all that is new, better, and preferred. But even in this fresh start, there is always the presence of the old, even if it is as just a building block, from which you take flight. You don’t just drop everything.

Or, there is no new thing in a fresh start, it’s just looking at the old in a different way; in a way that offers a different perspective to serve a different purpose.

A fresh view, perhaps, rather than a fresh start.

Conversations with Ghosts of Past

“You aren’t online as much these days,” he said. I detected a note of regret in his voice. Wishful thinking on my part, I thought — there’s so much online these days, no one’s going to regret my absence. He’s just making an observation.

I nodded my head in agreement; smiled just enough so that it could qualify as a smile.

“It’s a bit boring, you know, to keep reading your old stuff.”

“I know the feeling, I have done a lot of reading — all my old posts. There’s not a lot, but there’s enough.”

“You are not just re-reading the posts. What are you searching for?”

“Who,” I said, looking away from him to street. There were so many people on that street. I wondered what they were doing, moving about, talking, walking. Some standing. All of them going about their lives. It seemed so strange, suddenly. Strange strangers. I’ll use that in one of my post.

“And did you find him,” he asked, stirring his coffee. He did that a lot; stirred his coffee, before every sip; I was almost sure of that. It could be irritating, if not distracting.

“I recognise shades of that person. He seems somewhat alien. It’s like … I was perhaps infected with that alien DNA a while ago, and as I read the posts, some sort of recognition causes green and blue neon-like pulses to emit through the screen and connect with a part of me. Just a part of me. It’s there, but it does not bind.”

“Why”

“I don’t know. Maybe I am a million galaxies away from that DNA. Or some million light-years away or something like that, there’s a connection, but it’s weak.”

“Too much of Netflix-binging?”

“Yes, mostly time-travel,” I said. A real smile, that would have almost qualified as a laugh.

“I know you don’t travel as much. I mean in this time/space construct; needless to say. Not time travel. You aren’t even capturing time, so to speak; you have stopped taking photos. Right? And you have stopped writing. In short, there is no movement, there is no new experience. Is that why there is no new documentation? Are you falling short experiences to describe? It’s perhaps not as simple as that, but I have to ask you – is it as simple as that?”

“Not having “experiences”; is that also an experience?”

“Doesn’t the mind hold a million times more possibilities than the real world,” he asked, not really meaning what he asked. He was perhaps interested in my mind. The possibilities in my head. I heard him but I wasn’t there.

Voices, with amazing clarity whooshed in that empty coffee shop.

You deserve more than this.
I’d rather be talking with you.
I like being with you, but…
I love you.
This is a great evening, I’ll cherish it forever.
I wish it were different.
Why didn’t you say something then.
If only…
I hope we can meet again

“My mind is full of regrets,” I said, “not necessarily mine. Not my regrets. And I may have a few. But my regrets are overwhelmed by the regrets I hear from them. Every regret was a possibility, come to think of it – it does not matter whether it was mine or theirs.”

*

“Write about them, then, those possibilities,” she pleaded.

She was grace. Unlike him who constantly stirred his coffee. She was a possibility. Looking in her eyes, then, I was reminded. Everything is possible. I don’t recall the new-age music that was playing in the cafe; but I heard:

Like a tunnel that you follow
To a tunnel of it’s own
Down a hollow to a cavern
Where the sun has never shone
Like a door that keeps revolving
In a half-forgotten dream
Or the ripples from a pebble
Someone tosses in a stream

Like a clock whose hands are sweeping
Past the minutes of its face
And the world is like an apple
Whirling silently in space
Like the circles that you find
In the windmills of your mind.

~ Sting – Windmills Of Your Mind

I looked deep in her eyes. I did not blink. I was afraid, if I looked away, she would be gone, just like him. And I wasn’t prepared for who would be sitting with me next. I continued to stare in her eyes. I did not look away, but I knew that the strange strangers were looking at me. There’s something about a gaze.

“What a lovely pattern on your coffee,” she said, with so much of love and affection.

Patterns. Repetitive. Predictable. I am living those patterns. I look up, she isn’t around. I want to say something.

*

There is no Barista in the cafè.

*

No people on the street.

*

I walk out.

*

This world is empty of humans.

***

PS: Above post is all imaginary. It never happened. It’s a ghost story. None of my friends were involved in this story.

A Useless Post of Dance, Love, and Hate

I always utterly dislike having a title before the post. I utterly dislike how it forces me to channel a narrative.

Nope. Not doing that. Breaking free.

*

All that “utterly dislike” showmanship is my struggle to not use the word hate. Those of you who follow this blog, know that I have chosen to not use the word “hate” in my vocabulary. When I chose to not use that extreme emotion – hate, I perhaps chose not to use any extreme emotion.

Love.

I have allowed myself one extreme and funnily enough allowed myself the other extreme. I can love, but I cannot hate. Love is not the opposite of hate. Necessarily. I do love with all the extreme emotions I can. The question is, how do I hate?

I dance and jump and wonder at the meaning of hate, wondering if it is this or that. But I never ever think of what love means. Thinking of love is useless. We are in love or not. I love you or I do not. My dreams are of you, or not. I am alive when my dreams are of you; else I am nothing.

Sunday Schizophrenia

Ah, the Pink City, I said. It’s peach actually, she replied. We all know that girls see more shades than boys. I wanted to say, “it’s sandstone-ish brick red, that looks pink in the summer sky,” but I did not. An argument on colours with a girl is a foregone defeat for a boy. I agreed with her, and let it lie. It’s sandstone red, that looks pink in the summer sky, I confirmed with myself, and lived in a blissful state. It just so happens, that she is so sweet, it is difficult to argue with her. She can hold her own, mind you, it was just that we were in the pink city having fun; a shady argument was just not worth it.

*

Facebook has an option, when you choose a relationship. One of the option is: “It’s Complicated.” I think Facebook should do away with that option. Relationships are never complicated. The number of ways we look at a relationship, are. People take so much of effort to enter a relationship. When it comes to exiting, it becomes complicated. Not because it is complicated.  There are words and methods to say I love you. No greeting card in this world has the right way to say, I need out. I learnt this, listening to someone for three hours. I am reminded of Abhimanyu. I know how to get in, no idea how to get out.

*

How old were you when… is a good question as far as perspective is concerned. Never judge a person’s knowledge based on the year that person was born. I was stupefied tonight with a young man’s conversation. Reality was hovering around me, and towards the end of the evening it kicked me you-know-where.

*

I am not modest. In some way, I am vain, in fact. I know how far I can reach. I do not compare my work with the work of others. I think, however, I know enough to say, if my work is good. Others may like my work and they will say as much. I have to be my critic. Because only I know what I have set to achieve, and if I have achieved it. When you compliment me, and I shrug that compliment off; it’s not a statement about you. It is a statement about me. When I shrug off your compliment, I do not intend to demean your sense of appreciation. I just mean to say, I could have done better.

*

Love is timeless. It knows no boundaries or limits. I am happy, I am in love.

The Persistent Witness

I refused to even look at him. Those piercing eyes. That gaze that could see through, and within me. I’ve known him for a long time. He has been a constant companion. An intimate companion, I may add. More than anyone else. As I say this, I feel, I may be misrepresenting. He is not “out” there. Not outside of me. He is within. I do not know when, but I stopped listening to him. Stopped talking to him.

Towards the Sky

He is my witness. But, I don’t want him to see. I have become so good at hiding it from others. How do I make him not see? I’ll drop thick drapes between us. I’ll hide in rooms, behind locked doors. Big locks. Magnetic. Electronic. Yet, he is here, right in front of me.

I see my reflection in the mirror and I wonder if it is mine. I am me, he is reflection. Then, there is no escaping. When I dine alone, when I drive alone, there’s that presence. His. Chatterbox. Talks of all that I do not care to listen, or even hear.

Yackity yackity yack. Yada yada yada. And for good measure; blah, blah, blah!

But, welcome back old friend, even if I have no use for you anymore. I will not turn you away.

Just stay out of my mind and away from my mirror.

Love, Actually

No. The title of this post is not original. It’s the title of a movie that I love. Actually. If you haven’t guessed it as yet, the title is Love, Actually.

I am blessed to have been in love. And I have been loved back. Not always, but a couple of times. And I don’t use the word “couple” in a general way. Just twice. Couple. I think. Two. But it’s not about how many times I have been loved back that matters. What matters is how much I have loved. We get so involved and concerned if at all we are loved back, we forget how much we love.

Spread the Love

For a while, I got lost in the same trap. I wanted to be loved. Being loved, is so transactional, come to think of it. I forgot what it means to love. And I have this new-found sense. I like being in love; I care less if I am loved. That’s a leap for me, but it works.

It’s a statement of being in peace. A happy place where nothing else matters. Love is not give-and-take. Love is neither giving nor taking.

Love is be-ing. I like be-ing in love with you.

No forevers are guaranteed, but there is a forever with you.

Deep End

It’s dark

IMG_2161 - Version 2

Scientifically (perhaps the proper word is: technically) you cannot see through the tar of darkness. But there is a sense. There are hands that come down and reach out to you. In the black tar pit. And as soon as you reach out to them, they disappear. And you float in the dark tar with your hands reaching out. It’s black. All that tar.

But black is never it. You think it’s all black, but all the colour of life is splashed around you. You could just stand up and say – “that’s my colour!” And just grab it!

But you are unable. Your arms don’t move. Legs are still. Wanting to grab that colour, but no action. There’s a sense of wanting movement – but there is paralysis. Heart, mind, soul is all action, but the body doesn’t move. Just a lazy fold of legs on a sofa. Unmoving.

And then the time comes. Deep dive, through the corridors of the known. Standing straight in the Hall of the Unknown. It’s still dark. Standing there with every limb dead. Seeing, perceiving, but helpless. Imagining that flight to the top of the mountain is possible – but unable to spread wings. There’s comfort in being comfortable. It helps, it scratches.

I have to walk out of it all, in the end.

Sunday Stuff: The Clutter

I do not want mislead you. It’s Tuesday, when I write this. There was a month, when I took up a challenge to write everyday for a month, when I used “Sunday Stuff” to write accumulative posts. (I just discovered, accumulative is a proper word)

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This is a forced post. Please wait. All I am doing now, is staring at my keyboard. My brain is processing thoughts and words so fast, that my fingers hovering over the keyboard are paralysed. Go, have a coffee, while I magically adrenalin-ise my fingers.

*

Love. Let’s talk about love. Nah! Too complicated. Friends? Nope. Work? No way. The world we live in? Don’t even begin. Ah, social media, then? They know, and they want you to shut up. A personal story; that’s endearing? Last time you wrote such a thing, no one bothered to read it. I have a new take on feminism. It doesn’t matter, stuff has already been decided. You are already wrong. Decisions have been made. My city, let me write about my city. Go ahead; as if someone cares. A travel story, perhaps. Now that’s a good idea, when did you travel last?

*

It seems, that all I have to say is that I have nothing to say. But that is saying something. No? Even when you say that you have nothing to say, you are still saying, right?

*

Swimming. I can barely swim. I can save myself if the edge of the pool is 2ft away. No, this is not a metaphor. I can swim only 3ft (the best I can do). But, recently I got thrown in the middle of the metaphorical swimming pool. Initially I splashed all around, ready to drown in the next few minutes, yet, I gathered myself and floated with ease. There was a sense of enlightenment. But, I am not retrying it in a pool of real water.

*

I mean what I say, but I am not what I say. It’s a thought. Not a well-formed thought, I may add. It is work-in-progress. I have always been fascinated by the “maxim” that the map is not the territory. I understand what it means at the level that it wants to make meaning. The conspiratorial mind, in my mind, suspects, there is more to it.  There’s more to “the map is not the territory” than what you see. I am not sure. I am playing with philosophy. So, I say things like: I mean what I say, but I am not what I say.

*

There is no one universal truth. So to speak. There is one universe; it belongs to you. There is only your universal truth.

So, Smile.