Of Words and Colours

Paint me a picture with a thousand words

Call it a chronicle or call it an anecdote

A picture it shall be, that captures my mind

And holds it in shackles until my palette overflows

With all your new colors, only to break free,

Reach for a brighter horizon and never look back.

The Little Girl Who Imagined

The little girl loved stories. She loved the ones her father read to her from the brightly colored comic books that came every week. She loved the ones her mother read to her as well; the ones about Gods and kings and sages and what not. She also loved the ones that came on TV, the ones with real people as well as the cartoon ones. And once she learned how to read, there was no stopping her.

At some point, she started making up her own stories. Her first story was most likely her elaborate lie about how a burglar had stolen the plastic container with a purple lid from the kitchen, when in fact she’d taken it away to play with. Her nanny sowed the seeds to further her imagination when she pretended to buy the story.

Before she could write properly, she started imagining. That’s when she started living inside her head, you could say. The world inside her head and her books was far more interesting than the real one she lived in. In the real world, she was the awkward kid; the one who was too shy to talk to new people, the one who was reluctant to play with other children because she always lost, the one who preferred playing House with her miniature kitchenware to Hide and seek, the one whom no one really understood for a long time. In her imaginary world, she was none of this, primarily because she didn’t exist there. When she did, it was in the form of an alter ego who was anything but awkward.

She made up for the lack of people around her by creating people in her mind. Those people, along with the ones in her books, cartoons and movies, made sure that she was never lonely even when she was alone in her room for hours. When she got the hang of writing, she started copying some parts of her imaginary world to paper. But most of it just stayed inside, because she felt content with that.

As she changed, her world did as well. It started taking new forms, based on the stories she came across over the years. The background shifted from Hogwarts to Konoha to Bollywood. Now there was background music as well, because every song she liked, she would etch into a story. She never got bored, unsurprisingly. She could escape most monotonies of life by withdrawing to herself and thinking, ‘so what would happen next?’. When she was feeling low, she let a tragedy happen to her heroine and let her deal with it. When she wanted to cheer herself up, she let her heroine sing and dance happily.

Everything she couldn’t do, but wanted to, her heroine could. This alter ego would have adventures, find true love, lose it and get it back. Her alter ego was a sucker for unrequited love, as was she herself, she later realized. She then had a foreboding feeling that it was bound to happen to her, just because the prospect of being the selfless lover would pull her in. Her premonition proved true, of course. Twice, that too. Despite knowing better than anyone else that unrequited love will always be under appreciated, the hopeless romantic liked to hold on to the tiniest of hopes that a miracle would happen, the asshole would change, and she’d have her ‘Happily-ever-after’.

And then one fine day, the little girl went missing. Don’t ask me which day, because I don’t know. Some would say she grew up, but I think she just faded into the back of her own mind. Her imaginary world doesn’t exist anymore, but her alter ego does, weirdly enough. You could say that she became her alter ego . Or the alter ego became her. Does that sound confusing to you? Well then, imagine how confusing it must be for her because her imagination somehow moulded itself into her reality. She’s still the little girl who loves stories, of course. Except now that her life itself is a story she’d like to imagine.

So is there a happy ending to this story? Well, it isn’t over yet, so I can’t give you proof. But the little girl tells me to ask you to not worry, because she will definitely write herself a happy ending. She’s come to learn that her imagination can come true, you see.

One Tuesday Night

Four girls stayed up late
One Tuesday night.
Restless they were, for
Their hearts were ablaze.
Of no comfort were words,
So pasta played their hero;
A little burnt, a little sweet,
But a hero nonetheless.
A sip of wine, a drag of smoke,
And their hearts were free
To roam in those lands
Where their minds dared not enter.

One floated on a cloud,
For her love was young.
One settled near a stream,
For her love was blissful.
One got lost in the woods,
For her love was shaken.
One flew into a whirlwind,
For her love was a raging storm.

Far apart as they were,
They saw each other.
Pain or bliss, despair or joy,
They had known it at all
For their hearts were ablaze,
And would remain so for long.
So they stayed up late,
Four girls with restless hearts,
One Tuesday night.

Unrequited

“I know that he doesn’t care. But I still want him to know that I love him. I don’t want to hold back and regret it later. Because…” She paused, trying to find words. “Oh, forget it. You won’t understand anyway.”

She left quickly, without so much as looking at him. She couldn’t offer any more pathetic justifications. She was being an idiot and she knew it.

He stood still for a moment, staring at the empty spot she left behind. Then he chuckled bitterly.

“Of course I bloody understand, woman. I’m just too much of a coward to let you know that.”

Of Sun, Sand, Water and Pigeons

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Someone once told me that the beach isn’t a place you go to according to a plan. It won’t happen unless it’s done spontaneously. Although he said this right after cancelling our own plan to go to the beach, I later realized that it’s kind of true. I myself have been wanting to make a lone trip to the beach in the morning since a long time back, but it just never happened.

So yesterday, when I got to know that today was going to be an unexpected holiday, I knew that I just had to do it today, and not wait for the weekend.

And so I went. For a morning person like me, if anything beats being outdoors at 7 AM, it’s being at the beach at 7 AM. I could feel the pleasantly warm sunlight on my back, and the ocean was blue, beautiful and beatifically calm. The sand between my bare toes was damp and sticky, and I felt like burying my feet deeper into it.

Proof that I walk like a duck.

                          Proof that I walk like a duck.

A beach like the one that I went to is never deserted, even early in the morning. But it was mercifully free of crowds unlike in the evenings. Most of the people there seemed to have a purpose, unlike me. Many were taking walks, track pants and all. A bunch were playing volleyball. Around thirty men were assembled a bit away from me, using their joint effort to pull towards the shore fishing nets from the boats that were returning. Then there were old men, sitting around alone or in groups of two or three. Going by their looks, I’d say they were retired fisher folk. In any case, they sure looked like they were chilling out. Apart from me, the only ones who seemed to be there just for the sea were two guys of around my age, who were getting their feet wet and taking photographs. At one point, it seemed like one of them was capturing me, but that’s probably just my paranoia. Oh, what the hell, that probably made a good shot, if he was clicking me after all.

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Of course, I was conscious of the fact that I must have been making an odd picture. A lone girl, with messy short hair sticking out at weird angles, scribbling away on a notepad. But then I realized that the people around me were pretty much like the pigeons on the beach. Walking around, sometimes flapping their wings and taking off noisily, but always minding their own business.

Makes one understand that unlike your expectations, in reality, most people don’t really give a shit about whatever you do or look like. A fleeting glance is all you’ll actually get.

Maybe you’ll get more than a glance. But that need not always turn out to be a bad thing, as I learned. When a slouching old man in a lungi, t shirt and a dirty (white, once upon a time) cloth wrapped around his head stopped near me and grunted, I put my guards up and pointedly ignored him. He grunted again and pointed to something on the ground; a bright blue hanky, which could have easily belonged to me. I shook my head to say no, but he walked away without waiting for my reply.

So that’s how the beach works in the morning. Just you, the sun, the water and the sand. And some harmless pigeons.

Just Another New Year Rant

chSo I’m not too keen on celebrating the arrival of a new year and all that. I hardly bother wishing people at midnight on New year’s eve, and it always passes just like any other night.

But I do look forward to a new beginning. December never seems to get over soon enough. You keep counting down the days on the calendar, but the first of January always appears out of your reach. On the bright side, this gives you the opportunity to chill out and do nothing until it’s time to actually start carrying out your new year’s resolutions.

This year, I spent most of those seemingly endless days pondering over experiences of the past year. As memorable as 2014 was, I cannot be gladder that it’s finally over. It was that sort of a year, you see. Pretty much a roller coaster ride,  although I’m grateful for the fact that I learnt a LOT from it.

Now what do I want 2015 to be like? On one hand, I’d like it to be a lot more peaceful than 2014. On the other hand, I wouldn’t mind it being as eventful, even if I’m apprehensive about those events. I haven’t made any resolutions for this year, though there are a hell lot of things that I want to and need to do, and I hope I get around to doing at least some of them.

For starters, I want to travel a lot this year. Both by myself and with others. But especially by myself.

2014 was a rather disappointing year as far as my writing was concerned, and I swear to make 2015 at least marginally better. Hey, I’m blogging on the first day of the year, so it’s a good start, right?

I also want to read a lot more books than I did last year. And watch a lot more movies. Seriously, what was I doing last year?

Sigh. I remember. Graduating from college, getting into a new college, settling in, meeting new people, forming new relationships… all that jazz.

Note to self: Snap out of it, and do something productive in life.

Okay, I think I’m done ranting for the day. To make up for all that boring stuff, here’s something to keep in mind this year.

I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes. Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You’re doing things you’ve never done before, and more importantly, you’re doing something. – Neil Gaiman

So Long, Chennai!

So I was supposed to write this about 3 months ago. But for various reasons, I never got around to it. Now I’m glad I didn’t, because as it turned out, it hadn’t been time yet. But now, it definitely is. I’m still trying to come to terms with the certainty of it, actually. As I’m writing this, I’m on a train, on the way back home and I’m definitely leaving Chennai, after living there for a little over three years.

That’s not really a long time per se, but if in those three years, so much happened that played a really huge role in making you who you are today, then you’d agree that it is a significant amount of time.

When I left home for college, I wasn’t sure what to expect. But I was definitely happy to leave. I wanted to be the ‘new girl in the city’ from ‘Wake Up Sid‘, one of my favorite movies. I wanted to explore the city, and know it like the back of my hand. I wanted to try out new things and meet new people. I wanted to become a cooler person.

In three years, all that has happened, and so much more. I discovered my love for food, for starters. I learnt to bargain with auto-rickshaw drivers in Tamil. I went on numerous long, solitary walks. I learnt to cook my own food. I started a blog, But most importantly, I came to love this city, even more than my hometown.

In ‘Wake Up Sid’, the female lead pens an article describing her fondness for her city and narrates how she came to love the place because of one particular person (the male lead, obviously).

In my case, there’s no one single person, but a whole bunch of really, really awesome (I cannot stress that word enough) people who made me love Chennai. In fact, when I got to know earlier this week that I had to leave, the only thought that came to mind was how much I’d miss those people, despite the fact that leaving was the best possible thing that could happen to me then. Five days and a bunch of almost-breakdowns later, I’ve still not entirely gotten over it. I’m there, but not quite there, if you know what I mean.

So that’s why I’m depressed about leaving this place. Because of the friend who took me on spontaneous outings; the friend who left the city but remained my best friend; the friend who was always ready to go shopping and watch movies; the friend with whom I bonded over ‘Atlas Shrugged’; the friend who’s as socially awkward as I am; and all my roommates who made hostel home. All those people who listened to me, talked to me, put up with me, brought me home-cooked food, made me feel like I belong with them, made me happy and actually GOT me is the reason why saying Goodbye to this city was so damn hard.

They also made me realize that I suck at goodbyes. I know I’m supposed to smile heartily and wish them good luck and all that jazz, but I could barely stand looking at their faces. The best I could muster was a tight hug, a grimace and ‘OK, now leave.’. But I know it’s alright. They get it.

There’s a lot to look forward to, but there’s also a lot to look back and be happy about. And in the end, I guess that’s all that matters, right?

That not-so-awkward moment when you realize you’re an introvert…

When I was young, I was the shyest kid around. As in, the kind of kid that would hang around her mom when surrounded with other people. The prospect of meeting other kids at a social gathering was just plain horrifying. I’d refuse to join them, preferring to watch from the sidelines. Unless there were only one or two other kids, in which case I’d go and talk to them, albeit only when encouraged by my mom. People around would try to coerce me into it, of course. Some would be nice about it, some would make fun of me. But I don’t remember budging, ever. I’d just stand there and take it with a grimace. When it came to meeting new people, I remember my mom often telling others that once I overcame the initial reluctance, I’d talk non-stop. That was true, actually. As a kid, if you get me started, I’d never shut up.

I started changing as I grew up. Most people do, I suppose. The process was slow, subtle and quite confusing. I wasn’t shy like I used to be, but I never talked in front of a lot of people unless absolutely necessary. I didn’t want to be labelled as the person who doesn’t talk much, although I couldn’t help it at all.On the other hand, people who knew me well sometimes had the opposite opinion. Hence, I never actually admitted to myself that I was an introvert. I guess I always knew it deep down, but I somehow convinced myself that I was probably somewhere in the middle. I guess that sounded safe.

And then, a couple of days back, I randomly decided to google ‘Signs that you are an introvert’. That was one of those moments when I felt like hitting myself on the head with a heavy book for being SO STUPID.  Because I’d never, ever read anything that described me that perfectly. For instance, the articles I came across explained most of the characteristics I possess, such as these :

1. I hate small talk. It’s excruciatingly mind numbing. You can tell me the story of your life, but DO NOT talk to me about the weather (Unless you’re a friend, of course).

2. There’s always an internal conversation with myself going on in my head unless I’m sleeping. Therefore, I never get bored when I’m by myself.

3. If I’m part of a group of more than four people at the most, I automatically go on mute. If I do say something out loud, I’ve probably been practicing it in my head for two minutes.

4. I prefer not to speak out in class, unless nobody else knows the answer.

5. If you’re a silent person yourself, I’d probably never become friends with you. Someone has to initiate the conversation, right?

6. Texting over calling, any day. Writing over speaking, as well.

7. If you want me to tell you anything about myself, you should probably start spilling first.

8. I like taking long walks by myself. Not that I mind company, though.

So after seeing stuff like that listed out, I finally have conclusive evidence that my oddities have a collective name, and it doesn’t have a negative connotation. Now, I can tell you that I’m an introvert without batting an eyelid. I can also tell you that it doesn’t mean I won’t be friends with you. I just enjoy my own company a lot.

Of course, getting to this point in life has involved a lot of socially awkward situations. For example, I still hang around my mom when we attend public functions. But by now, I’ve also learnt that it’s not entirely impossible to get over the awkwardness. How I try to do that, is another story.

 

 

Leave of Absence

Dear Blog,

I’m sorry I’ve been neglecting you. But you know how it is. I’m in that phase of life, where you’ve just finished something big, and haven’t yet moved on to the next. To make things worse, you’re not entirely sure whether you’ll get to do what you really want to. In my case, I have no clue where I’ll be doing my Masters, now that I’ve graduated. And entrance tests aren’t really a cakewalk. Especially when they’re spread over two entire months. A whole summer of just studying. Woohoo.

Although, it’s not that bad. I do love Economics, after all. The only downside is the fact that I’m completely incapable of doing anything except eating, sleeping, studying (obviously), and watching Korean dramas when exams are going on. So that means a break from writing, pretty much.

So why am I writing now? Well, I’ll give you two reasons. One, I’ve exhausted my internet quota for the month, so I can’t stream any more dramas (Story of my life). Two, the website I stream from infected my laptop with virus (Scandalous, I know!). So here I am. Writing my leave of absence letter.

Hopefully, I’ll be back by July. And sometime around then, I’ll know where I’m going to spend the next two years. Fingers crossed. Until then, Adios!

Bicycles, Beaches and Good Food (Chapter 4)

Chapter 4: Food, Food and More Food

Le Dupleix is definitely one of the most serene restaurants I’ve ever been to. Located in a very quiet area, and surrounded by trees, it’s the place to go if you want to have a nice and peaceful meal. We realized that Le Dupleix would make a really good destination for a dinner date. Especially on Valentine’s day. Such a pity we’re all single, I tell you.

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By the time we reached there, we were pretty exhausted and sweaty. All I remember was plonking down on the extremely comfortable chair. Because of the awesome breakfast, none of us were particularly hungry, so eating (believe it or not) wasn’t much of a priority. So we ordered some really refreshing lime sodas (Iced tea, in C.’s case), and sat back, enjoying the atmosphere.

Looking back, I can’t really believe that we only ate so little, but that little was scrumptious, so I guess that makes up for it.

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Before our food arrived, P. and I spent quite a while referring to our map and discussing which direction to head in to reach the beach side. For about half of the duration, we were trying to figure out which side is east. “We have to go towards that side!” She pointed towards our back. “But the sun rises over there!” I pointed in the opposite direction. S. and C. were busy taking pictures.

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Our waitress was a really nice Canadian, who inquired whether we were staying the night at Le Dupleix. We shook our heads disappointedly and informed her about the Pre-Valentine weekend rush (Not that we would be able to afford the place otherwise, but still).  She raised her eyebrows and twisted her lips in such scorn at the phrase, which made all of our days.

From there, we headed to the promenade, the famed walkway flanked by the ocean. Well, we were actually heading for Promenade the Hotel, where we wanted to have dessert from. We cycled for a while (or walked, in C.’s case) along the neat walkway, passing some of the well-known landmarks, such as the French War memorial.

It was soothing to be inside the air conditioned restaurant after enduring the outside heat. We were also looking forward to some yummy and sweet dessert. The waiter, however, thought it appropriate to hand us the drinks menu. Once we corrected that mistake, and got the food menu, imagine our disappointment when we saw they had only about five options for desserts. Plus, we couldn’t just get up and leave now that we had sat down inside. So we settled for Tiramisu, although we had our doubts about how good it would turn out to be. Our suspicions were confirmed when it was served. It was just barely alright.

Regardless of the disappointing dessert, we hung around there a while longer, waiting for the sun to go down. Soon after, we left and roamed around for a while. P. and I made an attempt to teach C. how to ride a bicycle, and failed. Or more like C. gave up after two minutes. At some point, P. and S. initiated what seemed like an enthusiastic photo shoot on the walkway. I got bored, and promptly abandoned C. (with her permission, of course) to cycle towards the other end of the path (or to go off on my own adventure, as P. put it later). Once I was back, we sat down for a while watching the calm ocean. No better way to spend time, I tell you.

Of course, so much time doing random stuff can only be compensated by more food. We parked our bicycles and entered our last restaurant of the day, Le Cafe. Now according to P., this was supposed to be a really good, and really crowded place. The last two times she’d been to Pondicherry, she’d come here to eat, and had left without having anything because the food hadn’t arrived by the time they had to board their bus.

We got our food, thankfully. But we sorely wished that P. had gotten hers the last time she came here, because then we’d have known that it wasn’t so great. For the first time in the day, we were disappointed by what we got to eat. Sigh.

Of course, our time at Le Cafe was still entertaining, because of certain events happening at the table behind us. Being an open air restaurant, the only thing that separated our tables from the road was a fence. A gentleman sitting behind us had thought it appropriate to jump over the fence and onto his seat, much to the chagrin of the management. This led to a tiff between the group and the managers, with the latter even asking them to leave without paying. The fence – jumping gentleman then decided to go have a private word with the authorities, and returned looking triumphant.

Now, why was this event of any consequence to us? Because according to S., the guy resembled Robert Downey Jr (Sighing and swooning in the background). Enough said.

So after some disappointing food and stolen glimpses at the Robert Downey Jr. lookalike (turned out he was bald under his cap! Who’d have thought that?), we headed to bicycle rental. Now that was a fun journey, with C. leading us in an auto rickshaw, and me, S. and P. following, in that order. P. almost got lost, interestingly. The next stop was the bus station. No more waiting this time thankfully. But we did get onto the wrong bus the first time. I’d expected that I’d be dead tired during the return journey, but surprisingly, I wasn’t. P. and I spent almost the entire time chatting like there was no tomorrow, while S. and C. fell asleep with S.’s head resting on the shoulder of C., whose mouth was wide open. I’d have loved to put up a picture of that, but C. would positively kill me. Although the return trip was longer, I found myself wishing that we wouldn’t get back anytime soon, but alas, all good things have to come to an end.

And thus, after almost three years of speculation, we finally went to Pondicherry and came back to tell the tale.