Sunday, November 27, 2011

the birthday post 4


Almost silver.
Another year of accumulating many questions, some answers and lots of world-wisely gyan.
Travel took me places.
My love for reading has resurfaced. And how!
It's taking me places too.

Drawing is my own little trip.

No matter how much I crib about Delhi, I fall in love with the place a little more each time I visit.
Bangalore makes me happy in a way no other city does.
Chennai brings peace and nostalgia.
I should be a travel writer. I feel it in my bones.
You can never run out of places to see in India. 
I can spend all my life discovering the Western Ghats. 
Pick one place and explore it thoroughly, make it your own. 

Last year I said love is what you want it to be, this year I say love is where you want it to be.

I daydream a lot lesser. Sign of aging I suppose?

After years, listening to someone playing the piano feels like manna for the starved soul--my scattered jazz lessons are changing my life.
I have a huge complex about playing the piano.
The inability to reproduce what I hear/improvise makes me want to cry.
I feel I can only say what I want when I write.
Writing helps me organise my thoughts.

I hate talking. I don't open up easily.

I went through a mala phase where I wore one mala to work every day.

I don't speak clearly.
Even more so when I hear nice voices on the phone.
Yesterday a nice male voice called me--I didn't get what it said--I tripped over my sorry/pardon-and ended up saying "Sodden?"
It's like playing the piano. I trip and get mixed up.
I really dislike the two-step beat. 

I want to be able to write songs--put music to the words in my head.
Then also, I want to play the bass.
What is it with men and female bassists?

Picking a masters is very,very difficult.
I am drawn towards people who are self-made and independent. Entrepreneurs impress me.
Especially because I know I could be there if I wanted to. But I'm a big, big chicken.
I shall no longer be one. Starting NOW.

There can be no two people you react to the same way - every relationship is incredibly different.
Each person teaches you something about yourself.
Each person exposes a new you.

I met someone who turned my world upside down.
Or maybe turned it the right way up.

The feeling of wet mud below bare feet gets me high.
Paddy-field magic.

You really cannot put things in perspective until you get out and get yourself into shit. Ask me, ask me.

Time solves.
Time dissolves.

An unexpected apology from someone after three years was the most humbling thing that happened to me this year.
I feel like a new person now. I shall henceforth never, ever judge anybody.
All grudges shall sublime, peace will reign and a halo will fix itself above my head.

I stopped putting up a lot of writing on a public space.
I write like crazy, though.

You can be incredibly intimate without being physical.
I've become closeder but I want to be freeer.

One click of the mouse can work wonders.
I discovered my love for riding two-wheelers.

I'm a klutz.
Look-one bruise, two bruise, three..
My biggest fears are crickets and cockroaches.

I want to have a pet someday.
Reptiles fascinate me.
I would like a large green scaly monitor lizard soft toy.

New cities can be liberating.

The only thing that really calms me down is a hot shower.
The second thing is walking.

I love walking in new places.
Mostly alone.
I can't take in new places with a large group of people.
It's distracting.

My ability to multitask is steadily decreasing but is sharpening focus.

Family matters like nobody else.

I've mellowed down.
Mellowing down can be awfully scary.
I realised I like being alone a lot of the time.

I was extremely outgoing in college,  now social interaction can be bit draining.
I've got to come home to quiet.

I am awfully attached to places. More than people. Awfully attached.

I surprise myself all the time.

If somebody loves you, they will make an effort to keep you. That loving and setting free saying is bullshit.

I'm always trying to hold on to things.
Somebody once told me "Your ultimate goal is being together. My ultimate goal is just being.."

Argh, these drifters.. Can't live with 'em, can't live without 'em.

Pride is a spur.
Ego toughens.

I love teaching. Something tells me it's my calling.

I'm way too conscious for my own good, and way too cautious.
I've had people telling me to "chill out" over the past one year more than I ever have.
I suffer from the inability to relax and let go.
Relaxing is my agenda for 24.

The most intelligent and sensitive people I have met are trippers.
Not sure I can say it the other way round.
I used to think hashbrowns were made of hash.
Imagine my horror at being offered hashbrowns at the Singapore airport.

Things always sort themselves out.

Everything's an experiment.

Try and err.

Saturday, November 12, 2011


The room was large, airy and overlooked vast dry fields with the highway snaking through them. You could see the brown horizon-hills through the early morning mist, the forest fires burning quietly in summer, and the mysterious blue bus that went past every morning at 7. Our delight knew no bounds. This was a room we had chosen as ours. It was a room that did not have whitewash peeling off the walls cornering the floor with fresh white powder everyday. The chuna had been one of our greatest problems the previous year and had been a great source of dismay to whoever took pains to sweep the room. Though Dee rearranged the furniture every two months in hope of making more space, that room stayed stuffy and overcrowded. But this new place was paradise.  This was the stuff of daydreams. 

Three iron beds sat at comfortable distances from each other. Three almirahs, their doors covered in half-peeled stickers and grafitti of last year, were soon stuffed with clothes, cosmetics, footwear, books and other once-considered-indisposable items that sat unused, in doleful hope of proving their worth someday. Dee's space was undoubtedly the cleanest, with her bed made, things neatly in place and cupboard nice smelling because of soap covers hidden under the newspapers. Alpi stacked so many things in her cupboard that you couldn't tell if it was messy. Mine betrayed signs of a compulsive hoarder.

We hardly ever hung out outside the room, but constantly made plans to tour the country. We planned and prepared birthday surprises for each other. We discussed school life (ah, the joys of icse!). We covered for each other. We gossiped. We washed clothes at midnight. We got high during the rains. We took care of drunks. We moved together room to room and lost things. We cribbed about the lost items till we'd lose something else. We shared goodies from home. We knew each other's secret places for hiding keys. Sometimes these secret places gave away other secrets. We saw each other through some alarming episodes of sleepwalking.

We endured each other's eccentricities with great forbearance -  Dee's hypochondria, Alpi's hyperactivity and my mood swings. Dee cribbed about feeling sleepy during exams. I cribbed about late night noise. Alpi cribbed about poor quality rotis. We all cribbed about the crows.

When we moved out, we contributed to the room in our own ways, leaving several bits of cellotape on the wall with remnants of posters stuck to them,  agarbatti stands by the desks (the night Dee thought there were ghosts in the room and we had to get rid of them by calling upon holy forces) and colourful clothes clips, which some juniors must be grateful to us for.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

the return

To have close friends unexpectedly move to the city you live in can be elating.

Monday, September 26, 2011


parting is a real bitch. in whatever form. a fight, a break up, divorce, divergence.

but death. it's quite different from estrangement. its irreversibility leaves you with a helplessness. a chilling silence. one minute life is burping out beeps and peaks and troughs on the ecg graph. then death steps in, armed with its horrifyingly constant straight line, a loud sustained note that settles itself into a permanent background noise in your head. the resident residual.

you cannot tell the world about somebody who's gone. you cannot describe to the world your loss. you live in denial, in fury, in resentment, you look with pity upon those whose lives he didn't touch. you want to snarl at those who say that it will fade and you will forget--you don't want to forget. in fact, forgetting is your biggest fear. you are haunted by thoughts of waking up one day and not being able to remember what he sounded like. now that he's gone you hold him closer, like a child clutching at a toy in fear of having it snatched away.

fucking intangible memories

it's been three years. 

Tuesday, September 20, 2011


I have never had a pet. Having always lived in an apartment, with my mother firmly (and correctly) believing that one cannot have pets unless one has the space and time to really, really take care of them, I grew up in a relatively animal-less atmosphere. My brother once had fish, but I don't remember much except the live worms we fed them once in a while as a special treat, which both disgusted and delighted me.

A large chunk of my interaction with animals has involved friends' pets. The earliest dogs in my memory are Thumbelina, Tommy (of course) and Daisy, who lived on my floor. Daisy was a beautiful golden retriever and I spent many happy hours with her trying to teach her to fetch a ball while I servilely brought it to her myself each time. Thumbelina was a somewhat unpredictably cranky dog - one large lump of fur outside his house - and possessed an alarmingly loud bark. Tommy was a quiet, white indoors dog who lurked among the sofas and waited to nip unsuspecting visitors' feet (or so I thought).

When we moved to a new apartment, I quickly made friends with the neighbours' dogs - Caesar and Sandy. Sandy showed little interest in anything. Caesar was a real friendly German shepherd. Had no problems fetching things except yellow flowers that we plucked from trees and threw at a distance. He'd sniff them suspiciously and return empty-mouthed. I had no idea why we wanted him to fetch flowers, but we did, and must've appeared real cartoons to him. I've made a fool of myself in front of many dogs, notably Beauty, a gorgeous black mix-of-Irish-setter-and-something-else that I believed I was training to sit down and stand while I demonstrated slowly and pronouncedly the two activities over and over again before him, providing a good two hours of entertainment.

Cows hold a special place in my heart. My brother and I spent most of our holidays in Baroda, where cows abound. Every day, various cows would present themselves at the doorstep, refusing to budge till we fed them something (preferably rice and daal/sambar, they were way too cool to just eat plain rice :p). At some point, my cousins and I adopted a street cow and went to visit it everyday. In Vellore, I discovered a few cows just opposite college, to whom I took a special liking. There was one brown calf, with enormous dark circles around its eyes, which stood dolefully under a tree and refused to let anyone come close. This one I named Somu (Insomniac, originally) and spoke to her pleasantly from a distance during my walks. Another one I was rather fond of was a large ox with large red horns that I named Red Bull and didn't attempt to go near. A few other calves that I loved dearly were all named Kutty.

I was obsessed with cetaceans at one point of time, which led to my friendship with an Australian artist who studied and drew whales.He had a huge farm near Brisbane where they reared several cows, goats and horses. He even had an aviary, an exotic variety of frogs that lurked about the house and a couple of iguanas so I had a constant stream of stories coming in from him about what the creatures were up to (including some wonderful pictures of new-born foals and mating toads).

G always reminded me of Enid Blyton's Philip Mannering, with a curious ability to attract all sorts of animals. The guinea pigs, which I christened Peek and Boo, I knew for the longest time. I don't think I can ever forget the excited, high-pitched, kwee kwee kwee! when they smelt/saw cucumbers and clambered over each other wildly to get to the food. He also acquired Mojo the baby brown rabbit, a delicate bundle of innocence, who gamboled about the house and died the most tragic death. Among the pets he had were a number of dogs/pups, cats, fish (Tipsy, who couldn't swim straight, Ringo (after my favourite Beatle), Pearl (a black guppy)) and Toto the turtle. I loved naming everyone's pets. I gifted a pair of fish to a friend in college, who said they were 'as pink and pomegranate', which I misheard, hence the names Pom and Janet (Pom and Jan).

A few months ago, I dreamt of zebras. I don't know if this had anything to do with having seen too many pictures of Masai Mara (though actually there is no such thing as too many pictures of MM), where everyone seems to be flocking to nowadays, or following too much Kalyan Varma, but I dreamt of zebras. The dream kept disturbing me and I felt this inexplicable urge to quickly go find a zebra somewhere - I couldn't even remember the last time I'd seen one. Thankfully, shortly after, I got to see one at the Bannerghatta Sanctuary. And then recently, I realised to my own disbelief and appall that I have never seen a bear. The Nehru Zoo beckons!

I think most of us who live in cities have very limited access to animals in general. I wonder if someday I'd be lucky enough to develop a closer relationship with them.

Until then, there's Gerald Durrell.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011


If honesty doesn't pay, what does?

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The official website

After a lot of plumbing and Tumbling, The Tap is up and running here:


Wednesday, August 24, 2011

man-animal conflict

Today, while walking down to Connaught Place, I saw two large big shadows looming up ahead in the distance, and to my surprise and horror, I found that they were elephants which were being steered down janpath calmly by their riders. They were even happily taking down a few branches off janpath and chewing on them. And to think I was reading this link just yesterday! '..sirens and lights of a passing ambulance disturbed Lakshmi..' like obviously, genius! It's not really rocket science for us to understand that elephants aren't designed to be part of road traffic, is it?

And then we have the whole issue of leopard attacks and them being burnt alive in the process. Though the villagers' action is unjustified, is not their rage? And is not the leopard justified  - with no habitat left, it has to find alternative resources somewhere, eh? Is what the GoDaddy chap did right or wrong?

Such a vicious circle, this.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

a bit of conversation

How much time did it take to make an egg sandwich? I shifted in my seat. It looked like it was going to rain. I had about four hours, and though I knew I would make it well in time, I was getting restless. Outside the kadai, a white dog settled down comfortably. Apparently, this was the same dog that had chased him a few months back. Didn't look capable of hurting a fly though, I thought to myself. Did I remember to pack my towel? I wondered if it had dried. This chap seemed rather nice. He was making conversation, and I tried to listen. I don't remember much of what he said - I think we just discussed various dog-chasing incidents. I'm gonna be late, I whined, half to myself. Relax, he said to me, not for the first time. I blushed, embarrassed, not realising that I was being so obviously fidgety and absent. And then-

"Do you know what Zen means?"

"Huh?" I sat up, suddenly hearing him clearly.

"Do you know what Zen means?"

Of course I knew. I had devoured books on the topic. I had read extensively about the philosophy - I had sat under trees discussing it with friends, I had spent late college nights reading about it. I had used words like nowness, awareness, self-realisation, consciousness and transcendence.

"Uh, Zen is you know... Zen", I said, gesturing emphatically (the same gesture one would use for 'world, universe' and the likes while singing school assembly songs). "I know the concept but am not sure what it exactly... "

"It just means being in the moment. In that place", he said simply. "So relax."

I was so taken aback I almost asked him how he knew this about me. Of course, the comment was just a casual, offhand remark on his part, but he just put into words what I read so many times, knew well, and struggled to follow.

I'm always thinking about a hundred things at once. I'm regularly accused by friends of zoning in and out of conversations. I'm always multitasking, and I'm almost always in a rush. To have an almost-stranger observe and squarely point out what he might not have realised he pointed out was quite startling.

Some things you need to hear find their way to you most unexpectedly. He really hit the nail on the head.

Monday, July 18, 2011

madras dusk

the evening light of chennai was a dull, humid golden that spread itself slowly across the city's terraces. dusk came from the direction of the beach - both light and darkness seemed to birth in the horizon. after a good two hours on the street, young boys carrying cricket bats retreated indoors, chattering noisily and bidding their see-you-tomorrows.  young couples strolled on the marina, eating groundnuts; kites of various colours and shapes flew above them. trains, like veins, faithful and regular, carried everyone to their common destination - home.

routine treated everyone equitably. a family prepared for dinner with sun tv blaring in the background, a young girl in the neighbourhood lit a deepam, wearing jasmine in her hair, and, in a crowded dingy street, a man scored his stash for the week.

Thursday, July 07, 2011


Came across this brilliant sentence today:

"Contact is the appreciation of differences."

-Frederick 'Fritz' Peris

Tuesday, June 28, 2011


Having read this over and over again on TUIB's blog post, I thought I should just post it here:

"There's something fishy about describing people's feelings. You try hard to be accurate, but as soon as you start to define such and such a feeling, language lets you down. When we really speak the truth, words are insufficient. But they're important to us, nonetheless, because they are what connects us to thoughts other than those belonging to us."- Iris Murdoch

Friday, June 24, 2011


I'd like to meet you, who do you see?
Introduce yourself to whichever of me is nearby.

Monday, June 20, 2011

the tap

I think in pictures nowadays. After I started doing the comic strip (here), I feel as though I've found my tongue in another language - I'm on my own trip. For those of you who want to check out what I've been up to, you may head over to the fb page while the website is being constructed. 


Tuesday, May 24, 2011

oh the relief

There's nothing like a face-to-face apology.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

1996 Everest expedition: In memory

Looking up something online, I was lead by a chain of links to the Wikipedia article on the 1996 Everest Disaster, which I was introduced to in Anatoli Boukreev's The Climb about three years ago. This book was written as a response to Jon Krakauer's book Into Thin Air, which attributed a large part of the blame to Boukreev. The Climb shook me up and I never did feel like reading Jon K's account of the expedition, in spite of seeing it lying around in the library all the time. But today, after three years, suddenly my curiosity was revived and just as I was making a mental note to read all the books available on the expedition, I saw the date of the disaster:  11 May, 1996.

If this is just a random coincidence, it is extremely eerie.

May the eight rest in peace.

Monday, April 25, 2011


a routine is the most irritatingly sane thing in the world. almost as irritatingly sane as the invention of time itself. there is a way out, but the way out would make one insane. it seems to me that most of us are caught in a yossarian-like situation, especially those of us who've been working for a while now, and are discovering that settling down actually marks the beginning of The Unsettling.

but even duronto has two stops to revive itself. for me, on a daily basis, the same old is broken by little things - currently, it's watching the progress of a growing plant in office. some things, albeit routine, i look forward to, for the relief they bring, the relief of constancy and the relief of paintings.

and then again, travel provides the breaks. the western ghats make me happy. and meeting new people exhilarates when connections are formed. conversations with people i barely know suddenly become heart-warming, lighting-smile-in-fond-remembrance-just-before-sleep somethings i hold on to for a long time.

the want for change starts fading away, and i find myself embracing straight lines, even if temporarily. the search for the spontaneous and the insane transforms into a period of easy acceptance of the more subtle and sane, which lasts longer each time.

Sunday, March 06, 2011


There was hardly any movement - just the occasional stray breeze that lightly touched some strands of dry grass. Only open sky and open fields were. In between the two we sat, insignificant in the vast state of non-motion. The silence and the stillness painted our memories in careful detail; hours and days dismissed time.

But in the real world everything moves. Time moves, and so do we, succumbing to the movement, like clockworks in this mindless, inescapable routine.  And not just once have I had this sneaking feeling that we might never have time again to create memories as beautifully clear, crisp and vivid as those. Today's memories are coated in a layer or two of blur.

Ask me about yesterday, and I could describe to you the colour of the grass in different months, what it smelled like when it was damp, and the sound of the whirring dragonflies. I could tell you about the feel of the mud in between my toes...but then that you must feel yourself. 

I wish I could take you there.

But I don't know if I could stop a second time.

Friday, January 07, 2011

into the great wide open

Having spent four years anchored under the canopy of friends, freedom and the steady backdrop of home, I think all of us were a little unsure of our place in the world post-college. It wasn't so much as finding jobs or courses as it was about feeling uprooted and walking around trying to fix ourselves in new soil. It fascinates me that what seemed like such a large and complex world was hardly a pixel compared to what we see stepping out, and it makes me sad to think that all of us will never be in the same place at the same time and under the same circumstances again.

I remember vividly conversations that I now know all ten thousand of us had at some point - conversations about love and relationships, about drawing lines and erasing some, about searching, finding and losing. I remember conversations about being and meaning, about purpose and ambition, about giving and owing, and about defining and belonging - when belonging was the last thing we had to worry about.

Thursday, January 06, 2011