Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Art of Losing

I recently came third in a short story writing competition in my school. My reaction made people believe I was cranky, because I wasn't too happy. But the fact is, they don't understand why I was upset despite winning.

My father is also a writer. He's been writing for magazines, journals and newspapers for more than half a decade.Since he writes a lot about travel, he sometimes gets invited by European governments as a journalist. he has been to European countries most Indians don't even know about. In short, he may not be a bestselling novelist, but he is a writer.

I don't deny that my father's talented, but the fact is that what I lack in talent, I make up for in enthusiasm. Neither my dad nor my grandfather began writing at the age of nine. It's my dream to actually pursue writing as a career. I won't be unrealistic about it, but I won't rule it out either. But the sad truth is that the moment people find out my father is a writer too, they believe the only reason I get published is because my dad puts in a word for me.

Now, it is true that my father can be a big help sometimes, but not always. Actually, even the idea is funny, because it's not like my dad is the biggest writer in the country right now. To be quite honest, most of my writing assignments are all mine. For example, this blog isn't about him. All the posts are written by me and everything, from the design to the ideas, is exclusively mine. If I couldn't write, I wouldn't be doing it. But people want to see things in a negative light sometimes.

I know it's petty, but I constantly keep trying to prove people wrong. I try to win competitions which are supposed to be fair and unbiased, so nobody can question me. But now I am starting to realize it doesn't really matter what people think. Good people will encourage me for whatever talent I have and people who themselves are not used to working hard for the things they get are the ones who always suspect that everyone else get things in twisted ways. So from now on, I'm just going to try to be a good writer and hopefully, I will become one. What people say simply won't matter.

All I Want

All I want is a reason to be happy
To not feel like I need something more
To feel relaxed, not move quite so fast
To run around till my feet are sore
As I chase the joy I may never have
Fill my life with achievements so I'll believe
I'm doing great when really I'm not
My happy moments have slipped out memory's sieve.
I want a real friend who'll suit my moods
Someone who won't judge me when I make mistakes
A soft shadow supporting me through
In her suffering, my hand she'll take.
I want to know I'm good enough
And stick to that confident notion
For frankly speaking, I'm doing good for myself
I'm fighting through all the commotion.
I want to know I am secure
I have a future for which I can hope
To know I have the capability to work for it
To know it without being told.
I want to live a simple life
With no drama from here and there
For every time I get attention
I'll also be met by frowns and snares.
I want to reach a point in life
Where it won't matter what people say
I won't have to remind them and myself
Of my own existence, come what may.
I want to learn what's worth my energy
And who is just a waste of time
I don't want to chase after those who don't care
Just because they'rem worth more than a dime.
I want the simple things in life
Which girls my age usually crave
But I don't want to be tied down by age
Or to give up and instead be brave
To fully understand life's still ahead
And it never really matters what happens now
It matters not who's considered the best
Who is the subject of their peers' awe.
But above all else I want to stay this way
To continue fighting for my happiness
To continue living on my own terms
To not compromise in my life's mess.
I just want to be able to be myself
For I am the girl who knows what's true
My spirit may flicker because of what I see and hear
But this is still me, right in front of you.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Dressed To Kill

Recently, a friend of mine told me I was the only girl he had ever seen who didn't enjoy dressing up. Okay, so maybe he is right to a certain extent. Having detailed discussions about fashion and clothes does make me uncomfortable and I don't spend a huge chunk of my time deciding what to wear, but the fact is that even I put some thought into what I wear and how I look.

I have had my good moments but I have had terrible ones too when it comes to fashion. It all started when I was about nine or ten years old. My mother had just gotten a new set of clothes for me and it had been a long time since I had owned something new. The newness was so fascinating that I ended up wearing my new T-shirt and shorts everyday to the neighbourhood park for a month. At first, nobody noticed. Then, they noticed but politely remained silent. Finally, they spoke up and raised the obvious question, "Why do you wear the same clothes everyday?"

I didn't have an answer. My new clothes made me feel great and new, but somehow the empowerment they gave me were embarrassing to put in so many words. That's when I realized- my clothes didn't empower me as long as I was not completely frank and confident about them.

Then came the bad hair days at the age of twelve. First, my hairdresser cut off my hair so short that I couldn't tie them up in a ponytail anymore. This was traumatizing, even though I put on a brave face, because my hair had been short when I was young and now, when I was finally enjoying long tresses, my hair had been cut off again. When I went to school the next day, everybody told me how bad I looked. Maybe they were just being honest, but from what I remember, I didn't look that bad. I just looked very different all of a sudden. Then started a long string of bad hairstyles, frankly because I didn't know what to do with my hair. Leaving them the way they were wasn't allowed as per school rules and I still hadn't grown my hair enough to tie it up.

Then came the bangs. They were a mass of short hair covering my forehead while I let the rest of my hair grow. My parents compared me to Sadhana, an actress from a bygone era is Bollywood. When I looked in the mirror, it somehow looked like a black rat was swallowing my forehead. But I kept the haircut for a long time. Even now, I keep some strands short in the front of my head. I've grown used to it and the black rat somehow no longer makes an appearance.

Now that I'm a little more grown up, I have a strict policy when it comes to shopping. When you go to shot, look at everything in the rack for exactly one second. The ones that catch your attention are the only ones you should take. Don't get into discussions over your choices as long as the discussion isn't about your budget. Basically, don't talk much and you will end up buying okay stuff.

My friend is right. I don't enjoy dressing up as much as other girls. But frankly, I don't hate it either. But when you look back on all your fashion experiences, you'll see your clothes have changes but you haven't changed accordingly. You clothes don't always make you. Just because you spend hours dressing yourself up doesn't mean you're pretty. Just wear whatever makes you feel comfortable, whatever gets you the kind and amount of attention you want and I promise, you'll look fine.

Friday, August 19, 2011

The Hero

It was the year 2150 and Ayan Joshi was embarking on his most ambitious project ever as a director. This film would undoubtedly fetch him all the major awards and make him the greatest personality of cinema of the twenty-second century.  If he died after the film came out, he would die happy, for he would already have achieved what he felt he was born to do- making the most magnificent film ever.
But making a good film in 2150, like all things good and important, was not an easy task.
First of all, he was short on money. He had achieved financial success as a director but ever since fuel had disappeared about fifty years ago, his creative life had become difficult. He could manage his own life. He could well afford the transportation costs, even though using nascent oxygen to burn artificially synthesized carbon compounds was a costly affair. He could afford his food, even though heat generated by some high-tech use of radioactive elements (which he didn’t quite understand) was starting to burn a hole in everyone’s pockets. He made enough money for himself, but not for his filming unit. Since he was also producer, he would need enough funds to support his unit during filming. Otherwise, no actor, cinematographer, choreographer or even spotboy would agree to work with him.
In the twenty-first century, such challenges would have been considered unusual for a director, but these days, it was a common problem. Things were expensive and all because of fuels. Ayan Joshi knew that somehow, he would tide over this problem. He had done it before during the filming of ‘Shadow of Me’, his last movie, and he could do it again.
But there was a problem on a deeper level, a problem which constantly tortured his soul. He had always prided himself for his creativity. He had loved himself for being able to create larger than life characters, to create heroes in his films in a world which lacked heroes. But this time around, that was what he couldn’t create- a hero. Maybe the dismal nature of his era had started getting to him too (the thought really worried Mr. Joshi). Or maybe it was a simple case of writer’s block. Even the biggest geniuses had suffered moments where they had been forced to question their own capability when unable to come up with a story.
He had already announced the film. Now there was no looking back. He had given hope to everyone, promised he would make a masterpiece. He had to think of something, to conjure a hero. Till, then, he would have to keep pretending he knew what he was going to do.
As they say, behind every successful man, there is a woman. Ayan Joshi’s grandmother was that woman. She was confined to her bed, not lucid all the time. But still, he went to her for solace. She reminded him of his childhood, a better, simpler time.
That day, it seemed as if his grandmother was the one with the amazing talent. She put one wrinkled hand on his head and said, “My dear, what is it that you really aspire to make”.
“A period film. A film about a bygone era, with a hero at its centre. The hero may or may not be fictitious but he should be able to make every person watching the film feel his emotions. They should cheer at his triumphs, laugh when he does, cry when he fails, sigh with relief every time he has a narrow escape. Basically, he should strike a chord.”
His grandmother was silent for a while and then said, “Sometimes, what you are looking for is right in front of you but you fail to notice it. Look around you. In our times, people with superpowers were what caught the audience’s fancy, but things are different now. A distance of ten kilometers can be a struggle to travel through. Basically, life is hard. So, think of a man for whom life, somehow, wasn’t so hard because he found a way to tide over bad times”.
After that, she closed her eyes and went to sleep.  But her grandson had what he required.
His behavior in the days that followed had everyone worrying about him. All he did was research. He listed the problems people had to face these days and then went on to research the early 2000s, when life was different. How would a person be happy in 2011- that was his question. After a month of intense study and brainstorming, he finally came up with an idea for his hero.
His hero would be- the common man.
It would be the man who practiced carpooling. It would be the man who took public transport. It would be the citizen who stayed abreast with the most recent developments in fuel prices, who knoew of its rises and its…. Well, rises. It was the man who know when tough times were ahead and planned ahead. It was the man who switched to diesel when required, to save money so his child could have that extra chocolate. He knew how much fuel affected him, he knew how to manage his finances during fuel hikes. It was the man who BEAT THE FUEL HIKES.
Ayan Joshi did become the greatest director of the twenty-second century, and his hero became the greatest hero of all time.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

From Black And White To Color

HP Laser Jet had organized a blogging contest with the topic' Take Flight With COlors'. Bloggers had to think of something black and white and then re-imagine it in color. Unfortunately, by the time I saw the contest, it was already closed. But I can still write a post, can't I.

When I think of black and white the first thing that comes to mind Well, not exactly me, but a picture of me. Till I was in second standard, I always took my pictures for school in black and white. The passport-sized snap would say absolutely nothing about the red pattern on my shirt or the cute little duckling on the front of my tunic. This picture would show up in my report card, the front page of my school diary and all other school diaries.

I also think about our black and white TV. We had a color TV, but it gave us technical troubles sometimes and we had to switch to the black and white one whenever that happened. These days, I don't see TV sets like that anymore. It looked like a box. It was tiny, but it still took up space unlike the flatscreens of today.

I think of the few black and white movies I have seen. The first one was Solvaan Saal, starring Dev Anand and Waheeda Rehman. In the late 90s and early 2000s, Indian movies rarely ever made sense. From the clothes to the make-up, the cliche storylines to melodramatic actors- everything was wrong. We were going through a bad phase as far as movies were concerned. But this movie told me that things had been better at some point. There was no flashy wardrobe, sizzling item numbers or typical poor boy meets rich girl plot, and that was what kept me hooked. Over the years, I have developed a taste for old movies and most of my favorites are from the 60s and 70s.

But when I put it all together, I realize that black-and-white basically reminds me of a time that is now gone. I switched to color photos. We own an LCD TV. I watched Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara which had basically no connect with Indian society. Somehow, I don't mind going back to the time of black-and-white. I don't mind the simplicity. I don't mind the excitement that had prevailed all over when color display came to mobile screens for the first time. I don't mind the allure that color held when it wasn't there. Basically, the transition from black-and-white to color is something I use as a metaphor for the world changine from uncomplicated to strangely materialistic. The color has come, but the picture is grainy because we have lost the depth.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

My Life As A Tourist

My dad's one of those people who are destined to travel a lot. His old job took him all across Europe and the one before that took him to North America. He always encouraged traveling for us. Ever since I was a kid, he's taken me and my family to the greatest of locations. We lived in Delhi but were never content with Shimla which is a convenient distance away from the national capital. Mountains were our thing, but we were never satisfied with hills. We liked mountain. Like, real mountains. Like, high, rugged, Himalayan mountains.

So today, I decided to do a post on the places I've visited.

Kashmir: If there's a paradise on earth, it is here.


Kolkata- My family lives there. I could have gone for something more picturesque, but these pics define the city.

All you have to do is just imagine being here. It's like living in the sky in a land which is so unlike any other you have ever seen in its language, culture and landscape, and is yet so wonderful.

Rajasthan- One of the best tourist spots in the country, with palaces, sand dunes and abundant history. Beware of monkeys though, they plague most monuments.

Nepal- I can't get any more pics right now. That's my mom in the centre. I would suggest going during the festive season. True, the natural beauty is spellbinding, but the unique culture is the main attraction.


Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Love In The Time Of Infatuation

The last boyfriend I ever had was when I was three-years-old. We went to play-school together and for all I knew, I was in love. For me, the world was just like they showed in Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge. You could fall in love, have some exciting adventures and eventually get married. Given my habit of coming straight to the point, I skipped the middle part and jumped right to the conclusion- I asked him to marry me. He, being the mother's boy that he was, said, "I'll ask my mom". The following day, he came and informed me that his mother was strictly against this union.

So that was how my heart broke and my love story ended.

Ideally, my first love story should have come in my teenage years, but I have a tendency to be leaps ahead of my peers when it comes to life. But now when I think back of the vague memory I have of the proposal and the subsequent rejection, I think of how simple it all was. It was easy to tell someone how you felt without thinking of the consequences, and when the consequences came, no matter how negative they were, they were easy to accept and moving on came naturally.

When the time to date and maybe have a boyfriend finally came, things in and around me had changed.

There were one or two girls in school whom every boy wanted to date and I wasn't one of them. The desire to prove myself set in. I no longer wanted to be given attention to just because of who I was seeing but because of what I was doing, and sure, I never did anything miraculous, but at least I wasn't just another girl people knew from rumors. I made some silent enemies, I made some friends, but I never really had any association with any of the boys I kind of liked. Next year, I will be an adult. I have friends who have already had girlfriends/boyfriends. I am still unlinked. In a lot of ways, I don't feel sad about that.

Love and romance are good in their own place and when the time for them comes, but when we are young, we are way too selfish. A lot of the popular, smart boys in my school have girlfriends who pose absolutely
NO competition to them. Many of the pretty, intelligent girls are not dating. Teenaged years are basically a race to get attention, and people never want the attention to leave them. So, they date someone who won't threaten their status in school. Besides that, there is also a defense mechanism in the working. People always want to be the one breaking up, they don't want to be broken up with. They want to have the upper hand in relationships, and truly speaking, it's not their fault. If you get dumped, you'll be labeled as pathetic. Nobody wants that.

People who ant attention get it, people who need companionship get it and everybody else gets their piece of gossip. Everybody's happy, right?


The whole limerance thing may be exciting, but it has its downsides. Heartbreak is the worst feeling ever. So is jealousy. You might be chasing after a futile relationship and losing sight of a friend who really cares about you and deserves you more.

But mind you, there are exceptions. I do know a few people who really seem to like each other. I hope things work out for them without affecting their studies and careers in any negative way.

I'm still young and I'm still figuring things out, but I'm still mature enough to know when I'm not ready for something. And dating is something I'm not ready for and I choose to stay away from it. I'll get the attention I need to get from somewhere else, doing something else. Meanwhile, I'll keep looking for the simplicity that I once enjoyed.

If only it hadn't been for the mother....