Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Oh Teri ..Bhutan Ka Baap :)

Once upon a time I used to be optimistic by choice. Now, I’m so, by default.
I don’t mind it.
I feel like Bhutan.
For those of you who have missed on this beauty of an info nugget, Bhutan rates highest on the happiness index scale done by some formal sounding global body ..Blah.

So it really doesn’t matter if you’re happy or not. What matters is that you get to define whether you can be happy or not. By the way, this is just boundary for the rest of this piece.

So I keep having these extremely inane conversations with Junior through the day and sometimes I find them turning my thought world a bit upside down.

I have always been extremely proud of my zen like demeanour to be positive come what may. That’s the only thing I devote my quota of discipline to..hence, most of what I do otherwise becomes a labour of indiscipline. Just saying. Also apart from this there isn’t much to be proud of. Again, just saying.

So one such conversation almost verbatim with lots of stereo sound (read: in the mind mumbo)

“Mom, I keep thinking about something a lot but then it seems quite silly ..you wanna know what it is ?”

In my mind, I sort of am debating whether I want to hear a long convoluted dream sequence of dragons that look like Amitabh Bachhann,, sci fi landscapes with a healthy dose of human biology thrown in (his current  muse) …

I’m too late .. sorry, at my age, its too slow.

He takes the burden of guilt off me …and continues.

“I think every single person in this world is lying to me so that I don’t feel bad about myself Mom ..”

This is the hindi ‘hain’ by the way (pardon, bihari roots).

I don’t have an under confident kid, low on self esteem. So I’ve already started blaming myself for doing this to him. This being this complex feeling of emotional persecution he seems to be going through and I have no clue about. I justify it by thinking maybe I’m just too vanilla optimistic for him and he sees no value in that and has completely dismissed it from his life … my god..so much pessimism at such an early age ..I’ll need to figure out how to undo the damage.

Without giving him a second to breathe, I jump up with the sole intention of a big mama bear hug.

He looks at me with his not again kind of face, takes me in the hug and says “oho what now?” in a very unrelated logical tone belying the gravitas of his earlier announcement.

Keeps hugging me … the difference is he is the mama bear now …and continues…

“Mom, I can’t believe theres no magic in the world. That we don’t know magic. I think everyone knows magic and can do it. They just don’t want to hurt me by saying that because I’m the only one who doesn’t have that power…the power of magic…I’m not a magician, Mom.”

For a minute, I lose time. I really do.

That kind of optimism is hard to beat. The fact that its a part of him says a lot to me about myself.

 And then I say ..

"oh teri ...Bhutan ka baap …" :)

Thursday, May 30, 2013

A Mushaaira Right Into My Bucket ...

Its going to be a first today and one off my bucket list.

My concept of a bucket list makes me laugh. It resembles the revision schedule I used to make one month ahead of final exams in school. Even in college actually.
That list had be the most loosely structured (read undisciplined) piece of planning ever accomplished.
Every day I would set out to do more, end up doing less and justify it as being optimum. Come to think of it, we do a lot of that in the corporate targets we take now too.

A buffered up, eminently justifiable, always iterative study plan where nothing I finally achieved was out of plan.
You understand it was necessary ??  .. I mean what is more worthy than the propping up of a sagging morale on deceptively simple (read artificial) crutches.

So, coming back to my bucket list. Its quite a bit like that. There is nothing on it. Everytime I think I do something that is worthy of being on it, I factor that in in invisible ink.
At any point of time its ‘kora kagaz’ ,  mine to play around with and never to feel bad about.

So instead of a ‘to do once in my life kind of a spiel’, it becomes ‘have done and you couldn’t have stopped me darling’.

It was only a few years back that I got introduced to this concept. Thanks to facebook. Someone ran updates on an awesomely exotic vacation taken and kept us abreast of a bucket list being ticked somewhere.

I sat myself down, googled furiously, munched up some calorie rich thought provoking chips and tried belting out my bucket list.

Gave myself a headache and a heavy heart. And hell ya..I always forget those darn calories.

What's the point of having a bucket list if it just makes you go back in your mind and regret what you’ve already abandoned. The pressures of time, distance, love, life get a part of you that you willingly almost always part with. No point going back to the ifs and whys if that’s done and swept.

And that is why my bucket list always inspires me to be forward looking because like me, it only resides in the here and now. The first time I ticked something of it, I didn’t even realise it meant that much to me. And now, it doesn’t, because something else means more.  But for that moment, in that space, it resided in my till then, unheard of, bucket list.

I actually opened an outfit, ran it to losses, broke my heart and piece by piece, mended it back. That’s on my bucket list. For now.
I ran a 6 episode workshop called betakkalluf on urdu poetry with stalwarts in the field. It flopped miserably. 13 people attended. All friends. I have never taught myself better. That is forever.
I heard Ghulam Ali live. In the rain.
I write hindi poetry now to my family’s disbelief, feed into their live comedy feed ..love it.
I know how to eat a dust-thunderstorm. My dad taught me. Beat that.

And this evening, I’m going to see a mushaaira for the first time.
You beauty..you make it right into my bucket.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Sukoon ..

Half our life is spent in figuring how to please the heart. And the other half, in convincing ourselves why it never measures up to the happiness it promises.
If someone were to ask me today what really makes me happy, I seriously wouldn’t know. A good day, without any definition, comes to mind. There are times I can have that good day without any elaborate overture towards happiness too.
The game in life is never about happiness. Its about peace. Something which has more texture when spoken of as ‘sukoon’. No one tells you this. You are not even taught to look for it. It comes visiting, independent of mood.
What is it about music that comes from another room, another house.. it seems to have the lure of the distant seas and the need of the hour.. the smell of what could have been and the hope that it still can.... that’s sukoon …peace ..of heart ..of mind.
Whether it makes me happy or introspective or just lets me be is a matter of conjecture, never of conclusion.
I grew up hearing my Dad tell me that my biggest weakness would forever be my inability to co habit with my anger. I needed to let it breathe inside me to scale a few peaks. I forgave and lived too easy.
I tried holding on to my anger. It became too much of an ask. The effort killed my sukoon.
I agree, I possibly would have been more accomplished if I had asserted my angst instead of sacrificing it. But this peace that I have has come with its own cost and is so much more mine than that ever would have been.

Breathing In the Embers ....

Embers are weak testimony to a fire that once raged
Or so I thought….
In the cacophony of a still night,
my slow burn  ardour consorts,
makes peace,
scripts a wilful dalliance
with a past I should have thrilled more,
conformed to less.
My will screams a whisper..
“The thing about embers is
They turn orange
Before they turn ash..
After all,
not always,
does one get the chance
to turn
the searing contours
of arrows gone wrong.”
Orange it is. Not ash.

Finding My China

Shanghai. Spent the last few days unlearning whatever I had heard of China. Have always been told I look Chinese ..the cheeks that do the eyes in into slits are guilty. Well, I found exactly one slightly heavy person in Shanghai. Every freakin’ person is thin and so stylishly with it. So, poof !!

Difficult to imbibe the spirit of a place when you’re staying at the best of hotels and roaming around in an upmarket catchment, far away from the ennui and drill of everyday life.

But I found my China.

In the Dumb Charades I had to resort to in trying to buy something as basic as water and the giggles that followed.. in the hotpot lunch we ended up mistakenly ordering at a DIY restaurant only to have our next seat neighbour tell us how to make it ..in pooh poohing the stories I had heard of Shanghai road discipline as I possibly corrupted a good number of roads in the company of a big Chinese huddle running across red zebra crossings :) Apparently, Jay Walking is a problem I’m not the one to have introduced there.

It rained. And I got to tick off an item sitting at the top of my bucket list. I walked. In the rain. Without an umbrella. This probably wouldn’t feature on anyone’s bucket list. It does on mine. I never walk if I can help it. The only times when I take to even trying it is pre monsoon and perhaps, autumn. For the breeze and the grey skies. Shanghai gave me that. In the middle of summer.

It gave me better than that. I got to do it with my son who’s growing up to be a young man now. In the years to come, as he moves on, these moments, this holiday will stay with me. I walked and he walked with me. He will realise one day I ticked an item off his bucket list too. :)

Holidays have never been about places for me. They belong to the people I meet or the solitude I earn. I met warm, generous, and quick to laugh at themselves people. People who became friends in a matter of seconds, over a mistake, a misunderstanding. Mostly, no understanding :)

I ate a cuisine I have lived with for as many decades as I’ve lived but only got introduced to now. Chinese that tasted nothing like Chilli Chicken, Manchurian and Hakka Noodles. Veggies, that tasted better than well, veggies. A mix and match that defied every rule of sweet and sour I had thought possible.

I met a girl half my age. She spoke the same language. Not English. Just the same thoughts from her mouth. We spoke about parents, beliefs, friends, love, marriage, dreams, ambition and imagination. My son told me, ‘she makes it sound so simple mom..’ I’m so glad he met her. Sometimes life’s simplest lessons and hardest learnings become more believable coming from distant shores. They turn out to be more credible than eager beaver mommies.

China loves. And, it laughs. And it really inspires.