After the Storm Passes

Some of us have anxiety. No scratch that, a lot of us have anxiety. It may not be something we have all the time, every day but it comes and goes. I guess anxiety is just something we have to live with. It is bound to happen considering the kind of lifestyles that living in cities brings. If you wanted a fast-paced life, you couldn’t have asked for a better place than Mumbai to have it. I like to call it Bombay. Lets call it Bombay.

Bombay is one of those places where you get crushed if you don’t keep moving. No, literally. Here, days start with a bang. Come live in Dadar and enjoy the never ending crowds around the Plaza Theatre locality. Come to any of the northern suburbs and you won’t find a single stretch of road that isn’t filled with people. We’re like ants, we just find every empty space and fill it with ourselves.

Your home is literally the calmest place you might find in all of Bombay. Once you step out of it, be ready for a hell of a day.

Its the same with your life when you’re living in Bombay. You have to wake up at 8, get dressed, go to the gym maybe, finish that report once you get back (body soreness is no excuse), then grab a bite or two, get that printout, go buy some groceries as fast as you can, travel for 2 hours to your workplace, travel back for 2 hours in the evening, the traffic doesn’t move, but you’re used to it by now. Bombay is a unique experience.

But then when you’re moving this fast, your mind can’t always keep up. There’s a lot of pressure when you’re in places like this. Sometimes it gets to you. Okay, a lot of times, it gets to you. And then you shrivel up into a ball for a little bit just contemplating where your life is going. Then your pressure cooker goes off, or your dog knocks himself into a table or something so you have to get up and see what all the bawling is about. But you catch my drift right? Sometimes you don’t even have time to think.

You know what I do when stuff like this happens? I imagine a storm. A really violent one. Think up a really big storm, swirling around. Now see what its swirling around exactly. It swirls around the eye of the storm, right? And the eye of the storm is calm, serene, unfazed by the shit that’s going down all around it.

You’re the eye of the storm. Imagine you’re in it. Imagine, for a moment, there’s no cars honking around you, no hustle and bustle of people, no constant noises, you have no deadlines, neither the kind your control-freaky mind has made up, nor the office-work kind and there’s nothing bogging you down. Just you, your mind, and what you really, really need to do. See, when you live in such times, and places, some people say you need to be good at multi-tasking. I think that’s bullshit. Plus, multi-tasking just reduces your net productivity at whatever you’re doing so just stay away from that pseudo crap. What you really need to be good at is prioritizing. Do the most important shit first. Sometimes you gotta be selfish though. I, for example, am sometimes too helpful. Sometimes I help people even when I’m pressed for time, but if I think I can help them, I’ll try to do it. So what happens is, when they need help again, some of them ask me because I helped them last time. Now if this happens to you and this time you’ve learnt prioritising, cause I just told you about it, you gotta see if you really have the time for pro bono. If not, then know that you don’t owe that person any help. They’ll just have to ask somebody else this time.

You’re the eye of the storm. Because above the rat race, the summit of it all, its a quiet place.

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Secrets

Secrets have a way of unraveling themselves to the world. Sometimes you may least expect it and people start sniffing on your tail. Somebody stumbles into something and joins the dots. A series of, what may seem like co-incidences, sometimes bring people to stumble into it in the first place. You’ll be left marveling at the wonder of life, when things like that happen. I know I was when it happened to me a couple of months back.

Sometimes we’ve gone through some…things in our past. Maybe when we were kids or maybe when we were already grown up. And maybe a lot of people close to us know about those things. However, sometimes we leave a big chunk of that life behind and move on to a different kind of life in a different place with different people who don’t know all that. We talk to them, get acquainted, spend time with them. We may grow very close to a few of them, but we haven’t told them about those things. Sometimes we feel as if we don’t want to, sometimes we’re dying to tell them, other times we feel we shouldn’t. We don’t know how to. We can’t. But we know we won’t feel at ease unless they know. We feel the relationship isn’t real unless they know.

But then they end up finding out about it without us telling them. They stumble into something and they join the dots. Now that they know, none of all that above matters. Doesn’t it?

The 25 Things That I Like

  1. Staring at the sky and the clouds.
  2. Listening to soundtracks.
  3. Watching or playing football with friends.
  4. Sweating it out during a workout and then admiring the results.
  5. Stepping on dry leaves.
  6. Watching Sherlock, Suits, House of Cards, Captain America 2, and tons of other movies and TV shows, over and over again.
  7. Playing Football Manager.
  8. Having a nice, hot samosa when it’s raining cats and dogs outside.
  9. Watching one of Aditya Rathod’s videos.
  10. Having a cold coffee on an extremely hot summer’s day.
  11. Intellectual debates.
  12. Scraping dried glue off my fingers.
  13. Grammatically correct sentences.
  14. Exploring new places.
  15. Trekking.
  16. A good book (who doesn’t like that?)
  17. The adrenaline rush you get before you speak on stage, and the high after having done it well.
  18. Long drives.
  19. Dogs.
  20. Late night outings.
  21. Late night football matches.
  22. Going to the movies.
  23. Afternoon siestas.
  24. The satisfaction of hitting the ‘Publish’ button after writing a thoroughly satisfactory post.
  25. Finishing lists.

Day 19: Emptying the Mind

Today is a free writing day. Write at least four-hundred words, and once you start typing, don’t stop. No self-editing, no trash-talking, and no second guessing: just go. Bonus points if you tackle an idea you’ve been playing with but think is too silly to post about.


 

Free – writing probably comes easily to everybody. All you got to do is keep writing what comes to your head. Right now, my head is blank. Its spinning around in circles. I had a light fever this morning (meesa is Indian, so its 7:45 in the evening here right now).

Now, 400 words is kinda restrictive for a guy like me who is not used to writing anything less than a thousand words. Little known fact: I hated précis writing in school. I mean, I was really good at it but I didn’t like it. A teacher once shook my hand because she hadn’t met many students who could, thrice in a row, summarise a more than 1500 word piece in 60 words, in the first or second try (I did it in the first try, the first two times). It just comes to me, not particularly because I like it.

I hate bragging too. I really do.

I have been having this niggling sensation at the back of my head. Throughout the day, I feel like there’s something I’m forgetting, something I’m not doing right. And this has been going on for a while now. I’ve been thinking about it for a while and a few days ago when I sat down  to write, I decided to take up the story, The Elapsed Eventuality (which I’m writing and the first chapter’s on my blog. You can find it here). Now, I reread what I had written so far, all the notes I had made and stuff. Then I started making some character sketches and some drawings about the settings and that’s when I realized that the gauntlet hanging over my head just disappeared. I’d decided to just let the story build in my mind for a few days and I didn’t touch it much for a week. Now, that was a conscious decision but in spite of that, I felt like I should be working on it. I’ve always known, but this just reinforced the fact that I am really drawn to writing. What’s even more interesting is that I had no real inclination to write anything else in the interim though I did do some writing. Maybe I’m just very attached to that story.

So now I’m looking at the Fifa World Cup 2014’s match schedule which is pinned onto the soft board right in front of my desk. There’s the USA v/s Germany match that’s going to start in exactly an hour and a half. I think its going to be a heck of a game. Speaking of the World Cup reminds me of these people I know who are apparently really hardcore followers of football. I really appreciate the game, among a few others. Now the timings for the matches are really erratic here in India. It goes up to five in the morning. The next morning, the guys who have stayed up all night, ask me whether I saw Messi curl the ball in to put Argentina ahead or whether I saw Klose’s flip and I’m like Jonah Hill from Superbad, the scene that has gained hysterical proliferation thanks to 9gag and Reddit.

I’m just wiping some sweat off my neck now. And swatting half a dozen insects. And cursing the summer. And cursing the monsoon, which is extremely late this year. Just unnecessarily building up the suspense and draining our reservoirs without due warning.

Now, I’m just logging off. Over and out.

Day 18: A 12 Year-Old’s Afternoon

"I promise you I'll get the  money but just give me some more time!" Mrs. Pauley was completely breaking down.
“I promise you I’ll get the money but just give me some more time!” Mrs. Pauley was completely breaking down.

Today’s prompt and twist: Craft a story from the perspective of a twelve-year-old observing it all. For your twist, focus on specific character qualities, drawing from elements we’ve worked on in this course, like voice and dialogue.


 

I could see Mihir running around the corner. I was about to go ask him if we could play but then I saw Sanjay with him. So, I didn’t go and ask him. Well, Sanjay was the one who’d snatched the last piece of the delicious sandwich from my lunchbox two days ago. Plus, he was generally unpleasant.

Miss Shende was my favourite teacher and she lived in the neighbourhood, too. She was Indian, as was most of the neighbourhood, including my family and myself. She passed by in her blue sedan and waved at me as she did so. She was the best.

Dad had got me a red car on my birthday. It worked on a remote and he taught me cool tricks with which I could make it drift and all. Sanjay had taken out the batteries from that remote once a few weeks ago and he hid them somewhere and told me that it was not working anymore. He was eviler than that snowman from Frozen. No, not Olaf. He was the best. The other one. I was playing with the car out on the porch where there was space.

I could hear police sirens in the distance. Or was it the sound of an ambulance? Is there anything different in the two? The sound got nearer every moment and then an ambulance swerved round the corner and onto our road and it screamed past my house and it took another turn and then it was gone.

I could also hear Mrs. Pauley shouting from her apartment across the street. It was an ancient little red brick building which was surprisingly modern-looking from the inside. I’d heard mom gossip to her friend about how Mrs. Pauley’s fourth son had come to stay with her for a while. She was probably shouting at him. Then I heard a loud bang that was probably her door and then a man’s voice say “Get out!”. Then Mrs. Pauley came out of the building with a small bag and her beige purse that she took everywhere and sat down on the pavement. The landlord came out behind her and he was looking furious. He always left a little stubble and always wore shorts. This time too. He started walking towards the turn from which the ambulance came earlier and told Mrs. Pauley to “Stay right there!”

Mrs. Pauley started sobbing. I didn’t think she saw me. She was a nice woman but mom always said that she was weird. I don’t know what she meant. If she meant the way she never opened her door on Halloween, she was probably right. I didn’t know much about her but that she had six boys. SIX! Dad said it was tough to handle me and the dog alone. Also, I heard her husband had died in the month after my birthday month. Its been three months since that. I have hardly seen her step out of the house after that.

It wasn’t long before the landlord guy came back. But this time he had two policemen with him. Policemen scared me and one of the two was very tall and very muscly. He was looking around as he was walking and he looked at me and made a faint smile. I smiled back, nervously.

The policemen went up to Mrs. Pauley with the landlord. The landlord told her, “You have to vacate now. You have no choice.”

Continue reading “Day 18: A 12 Year-Old’s Afternoon”

Day 11: When I Was 12

A Lighthouse Seen From Carter Road, Bandra, Mumbai Image Courtesy: My Instagram
A Lighthouse Seen From Carter Road, Bandra, Mumbai
Image Courtesy: My Instagram

Today, tell us about the home you lived in when you were twelve. For your twist, pay attention to — and vary — your sentence lengths.

Tell us about the home where you lived when you were twelve. Which town, city, or country? Was it a house or an apartment? A boarding school or foster home? An air-stream or an RV? Who lived there with you?


 

Twelve was a fun age. Woah, that little sentence just made me sound like I’m an old retiree reminiscing about my childhood, and for all those wondering, I’m actually just 16, by the way. But yes, twelve was a way more fun age than 16 is. But that’s just me. I think, simplicity equals fun. To me, things are way more fun, enjoyable, less unnerving, whatever, if you just keep it simple. KISS (Keep It Simple, Silly, silly) definitely works, in most situations.

Speaking of simplicity, my house was far from the epitome of it. The house I lived in when I was 12, was actually the same house I live in today at 16, plus a few welcome changes, like repairs and stuff. Its not the ideal house to live in, but then the family I live with is not an ideal family either. We have a really small apartment on the topmost floor of a three-floor apartment complex. We, is six of us, my grandparents, my parents, my younger sister and myself. Well, its not ‘really’ small, but its definitely not big enough for six. I have lived here ever since I was born.

If you happened to arrive at my place, and somehow manage to do so while actively trying to not make eye-contact and subsequent conversation with anybody in the vicinity of my home, you would be happier than a dog with a brand new ball, provided you read the next sentence. The neighbors are vile. That’s right. That one word, ‘vile’, describes them most aptly and that’s all I need to say to you for once you read that word, your mind probably started stitching together a series of images of apparently vile neighbors, probably some of your own neighbors. And that’s enough food for thought.

These are of course, a few of the many neighbors in the vicinity. Most are generally pleasant but its the unpleasant ones I happen to bump into most often. And its not a pleasant meeting, just for me, I believe, because they are more than ready to start a long-drawn conversation every time I bump into them. There was this really nice family right next door, but unfortunately, they just had to move to the US of A for further education of their children, my friends, and because they had close relatives there. And that was that. They’ve come back to spend some time here but then they’ll be gone again, for a long time.

What’s really good about my home, is that because it is small, it really binds everyone together. We learn how to use the little space we have, as effectively as we can and in a manner that’s most convenient for everyone. Now, that really makes the house sound like a one room thing, but no it isn’t one. I did say that we aren’t an ideal family, and the fact that the place is restrictive in more ways than one, leads to some altercations, whether internal or externally expressed. We just deal with it. Its tough in the moment, but afterwards the atmosphere is a lot lighter than how it was in the first place. Most times. And that increases the living space by an inch or so in every direction, for a little while. And so, life’s gooood, in the words of Bruce Almighty.

Another thing that’s really good about the place is that its really close to the sea. Back about fifty years, the sea could be seen from the window, but now there’s tons of other buildings and what-not built up to block the view. The wind’s pretty determined though. There’s some gently lashing my face right now. The traffic’s generally light and cycling’s fun. Lot’s of parks and stuff around to jog at. So, yeah, life is goood.

Well, mom’s telling me to sleep (it is 10:41 right now) and stop writing this stuff. Apparently, it makes for bad publicity. So I guess I’ll sign off by saying that if you do happen to visit Mumbai, make it a point to have a leisurely stroll by the beach till your flip-flops are full of the beach garbage. Have a bite at our local stalls and don’t worry if you have food poisoning the next morning; its all part of the experience. Lastly, do come by the neighborhood and look around for me, I am free anytime to suggest many such awesome places to see and things to do 😀

Day 9: Three People In A Park

A man and a woman walk through the park together, holding hands. They pass an old woman sitting on a bench. The old woman is knitting a small, red sweater. The man begins to cry. Write this scene.

Today’s twist: write the scene from three different points of view: from the perspective of the man, then the woman, and finally the old woman.


 

Man’s POV

 

Maaaan, its six already! I have to finish that report. I’m probably going to lose my job. Death at the park. Perfect! ‘Happy wife, happy life!’ Yeah, awesome advice. I hope it doesn’t rain today. Looks like its going to rain today. Death at the park by drowning. Even better!

Why are we holding hands? Are we teenagers again? Did I get here in a DeLorean? I still can’t see my feet so I guess not.

Oh, look at the poor old lady! She looks kinda happy though! Sewing a sweater, now? In the monsoon? That’s cute. But kinda useless. I wish I had a grandma like her.

Why are those girls wearing such short skirts. Ugh where’s the world going?! What’s with all the selfies these days? Oh, my phone just buzzed. Shit, its the boss. ‘S-e-n-d-i-n-g <space> t-h-e <space> r-e-p-o-r-t <space> b-y <space> e-m-a-i-l <space> i-n <space> 2-h-r-s <space> -m-a-x.’ I am definitely getting the boot tomorrow. When are we getting out of here. Sweaty hands! Oh, she’s looking at you! Smile! Now, Kiss! Whoo! Genius saves the day!

“Ooh, darling I’m going to go get a hot dog. You want one?” She doesn’t want one. Oh okay then. Why does she look pissed? Probably something with the maid.

Wait, where’d she go? I’d just gone about 3 minutes to get the hot dog and now she’s vanished. Oh, there she is. Oh, the hot dog’s going cold. This thing is good. She should try it. “You should try this, honey. No? Okay.” She is pissed. Ooh very spicy, VERY SPICY, VERY SPICY! WHAT THE HELL IS IN THIS, GODDAMN SATAN’S PISS?!! GIVE ME SOME WATER! ICE CREAM! SPICY! TONGUE… ON… FIRE!! NO, I’M NOT GOING TO CRY. I’M NOT GOING TO GODDAMN CRY! Okay I’m crying.

 

Woman’s POV

 

Oh, this is wonderful. We’ve hardly had time to hang out like this. So peaceful. Wait, are my hair right? Is my lipstick smudged? Oh, what the hell, I don’t care. Just being with him is so good. It’s probably going to rain today. It shouldn’t rain today! My shoes will be ruined. Oh, the horror! Oh, why is it so windy! I just did my hair!

That old lady’s doing the sewing wrong. No you go down then you bring it back up! No.. not that way… you old… no… down first… oh forget it. Why doesn’t she just use a sewing machine? Much faster. This sweater is going to fall apart as soon as someone wears it, I guarantee it.

Aww look at those young girls! I remember how me and my girlfriends used to hang out. That was fun. That was probably fun than this. Shh you can’t think like that! His phone just buzzed. Can’t get some time out. I feel like throwing away all this modern stuff. Its so restrictive. I mean, come on, I shut off my phone. This looks serious. Why is he sweating? Its not that hot. Is it my sweaty palms? I hope its not my sweaty palms. Its definitely my sweaty palms. He’s kinda fat but I just love his wavy hair. Oh, he noticed I was looking at him! Oh, he’s going to kiss me! *Smoooch*

Whaaaat? Now he wants a hot dog, the fatso. We were having  a romantic stroll here. What the hell is wrong with him? Did I put him off? Sweaty palms, you bastards. I probably put him off. He’s so unromantic. But then probably all men are. Maybe if I act pissed he’ll notice and he’ll probably say sorry or something. Okay, bitchy mode activated. Ooh he’s coming back! This is it!

“No I don’t want to taste your hot dog.” Oh, that looks really spicy. He’s going all red. He’s getting really red. He’s sweating like hell. Whaat? Is he crying? Oh my god he’s crying ohmygod he looks so cute! I just want to squish his little red face!

 

Old Woman’s POV 

Oh I just love this weather. Harold would have loved to be here. The War took a toll on him. I hope the boy likes this sweater. I hear red’s the favourite of all boys these days. Blue was in back in the day. Modern world! Just beyond me. I can’t even use the TV properly.

I hope it doesn’t rain today. It’s going to just ruin my sewing. It looks like its going to rain today. I should leave in a while now. Walking back itself is going to take another half an hour. Damn this hip of mine! Oh, forgive me, Lord! Do not damn my hip!

Oh such a lovely couple! Ooh, they’re looking at me! Smile! Yes, that’s it. Gently does it. If only people would look after their weight these days. Look at the fellow, I bet he can hardly see his feet through all that tummy fat. Lord save them!

Ooh I’m almost down to the waist. I’ll be done in no time! Ooh I love sewing! Oh the woman looks might angry. You have to look after the wife, deary. Oh, how well Harold looked after me. I was an angel to him. Oh, I miss him. Damn the War! Yes, Lord, the War, you can damn. Oh, another mistake there young man! You don’t just abandon a romantic walk for a hot dog. No wonder he can’t see his feet. Lord save him! She looks really angry now. Does not surprise me.

Oh he’s fuming! That thing looks mighty spicy! Oh! Oh he’s crying the poor thing. Look how the wife consoles him. Such a cute little couple. Lord be by them!

 

Day 7: Contrast Through Dialogue

One always overpowers the other. Its upto you to choose which.
                                                             One always overpowers the other. Its upto you to choose which.                                                         Image from 9gag

Okay, so this post is going to be a little slow, so please bear that in mind as you read it. Today’s prompt and twist were equally challenging and I was audacious enough to take them both on and the result’s really not for me to judge, beyond a certain extent. To that extent, I think its not as good as I would have wanted it, but its pretty satisfying nonetheless.


The boy’s laptop pinged. It was a message from a close friend.

“Hey! You’re up so late?” It was 11 in the night.

“Hey! Yeah. Not sleepy,” he replied.

“So what’s up?” Usual social lingo fallback.

“Nothing much. Just getting inspired.”

“Lol what do you mean?”

“Just looking at things and thinking.”

“And, that’s how you get inspired? Why the need for inspiration at 11 in the night?”

He typed something using the keypad, but then deleted it using the backspace.

“No particular reason. Just not sleepy, is all,” is what he typed in and sent finally.

“Well, I’m not sleepy too, so what do you look at to get inspired?” she was sleepy, in all truth. Her eyes were red, and watery, but not just from looking at her phone screen under  low light.

“Anything. Everything.”

“What :D?” She was clearly confused.

“Yeah, I mean, inspiration’s everywhere, right? :D” He had always been very positive.

“No, its not :D”
“Are you always so…”

She left the sentence at ‘so’ and he waited for a minute or two thinking she would continue. But she didn’t.

“Naive? Naive’s the word you’re looking for?” he completed the sentence for her, the way she wanted, he hoped.

“I guess, yeah. I don’t mean it that way, though,” she typed in and hit the ‘send’ button.

“I know.”

He trusted her a lot. He didn’t know why, in spite of all that had happened between them. Though that was quite some time ago. Now they were ‘mature’, they liked to say. They were over all that kind of stuff.

“It’s just that… that’s not how inspiration works for me.”

“That’s not how inspiration works for many, I suppose. It does for me, though.”

“All I’m saying is that it is humanly not possible to find inspiration, or ‘something good’ in everything around you.” She always believed that for her, considering the kind of life she lived, with the kind of people she lived it with and around, it would always be ‘not possible’.

“They say that there’s some good in everything and everybody :D”

“Well, that’s just something they say.” Some things were playing on her mind and she was worked up a bit.

“Humour me. (Are you surely not-angry? Cause I sense something. Just saying)”

She didn’t like the way he could almost always tell when she was angry, or sad or just about anything but normal. And in most cases of anger or sadness, or both, she just declared she was not.

“Hahaha no, I’m okay!” She never did a good job at feigning and he always did a good job at noticing that.
“Okay, I’ll humour you, Mr. Inspiration XD. People who are hopelessly out of inspiration say that inspiration’s everywhere. Not to say that you’re ‘hopelessly’ out of it, but you are looking for it. And, inspiration is not everywhere. Would you get inspired if you looked at, say, failure, death, stuff like that?

“As a matter of fact, I would. Not kidding.”

“Okay, you are hopelessly out of it.”

“Hahaha what, because I would get inspired even by that? No, I would get inspired by that anytime. Just how meesa is =D.”

“You know you are too optimistic, right? :D” She didn’t know her ‘close friend’ as well as she had thought.

“Yeah, I have been told.”

“Just that, not everybody can be optimistic.”

“Why are you even talking about that, Aarya? You know you don’t have to talk about that.”

“Yeah, I know. I can’t help if the thought comes around randomly.”

“I know. I’m sorry if what we’re talking about led to its coming around.”

“No!”
“I mean, who would think..”

“..that talking about inspiration…”

“…would lead to the topic changing to…”

“…what somebody’s own parent…”

“Stop, Aarya. You should probably go sleep. Seriously.”

“Don’t you get it? I can’t sleep!”

The chat screen said: Aarya has logged off