Thursday, November 21, 2013

questions, questions

It gets a bit tough to work toward anything when the thought that everything is purposeless has kept one engaged for so long now. I am not being a pragmatist here, I have no qualms doing purposeless things, purposeless in a worldly way, I mean.

The thing is that I want to then take leave to pursue things entirely unrelated to my work till now. Why is it that sometimes my work (in the field I am in right now) does not leave me with a sweet taste in the mouth? Hungry for more the way some other things do? Doesn't it make me a scoundrel then?

OR is it that the 'other pursuits' are so sweet because they are the 'other'? And it happens to all of us?

OR perhaps I need some more belief?

Saturday, November 16, 2013

London on my mind

I miss London when in Delhi. May be it is the cold. May be it is the need to be by myself again. Wonder why Tesco is missed the most. Grocery shopping was always my favorite.

I miss the London chill that surprisingly is less piercing than the one in Delhi. Or may be we were better prepared for it. I miss tick-tocking my way in leather boots bought cheap from Oxford Street. I miss cooking the way I used to, almost boiled bland veggies that I enjoyed having. I was never very social there, except for being with a few friends I hung out with. I miss the fact that so much was happening there, and yet I would most prefer being indoors. I hated meeting people in big groups. I still do. It is usually very few people, 2-3 max that does for me. Unless I also drink. Then I am everyone's friend. Yours too.

I miss our kitchen couch in the hostel. The blue and the red one. Northumberland Hall and then Butler's Wharf. Walks that I had near the Thames to clear my head. The utter confuse and the chaos inside. Queen's Garden. The photographs. The library. The Strand past Trafalgar Square, the ever busy Charing Cross. One green light and crossing the road in unison. On to the other side. Keep walking and a series of Subways and Pret A Mangers and the red phone booths which are never in use. Beggars on the street. Cold and wanting. The bent on the Strand and Musicals pass me by on the left. West End. Sagar! The south Indian restaurant with a north Indian waiter. He was so old that you felt bad placing order. Papadom. On way to school I would pass another Pakistani joint where one could get veggi samosa and coffee. In the mornings 50p could get you a coffee. And for 90p a coffee and a croissant.

On past the Kingsway. One more road was crossed with the crowd. On the left - Houghton Street. One or the other crazy thing kept happening there. But when nothing was on, it was nice. Wooden bench. And the Wright's Bar. Another place to get coffee. 60p. and for 90p a bag of chips they called it, was really a box of fries.

Black stockings, brown boots. Overcoats. Black hair. Black bag. Rushing to class. hating some lectures. Long thursdays. NAB. So many libraries on strange floors. I was busy, in semblance of love and it was very very cold!

It had been so long I had thought about London that I had nearly forgotten how it felt. That I lived there for sometime and now that time is past me. Mumbai will also be forgotten perhaps. But, no, I will be going back now and then. Have been in Delhi for more than two weeks but not really been out once.

I have grown to being an outsider everywhere. To know in the head that I am not here for long. Nowhere for long.

Monday, November 11, 2013


Last night two random things led me to read about two people who lived in different eras, but had written to their lovers till the time they died . One was David Hume who, they say, loved Hippolyte de Saujon, the estranged wife of Comte de Boufflers and mistress of the Prince de Conti, who never was quite Hume's, yet they shared an "intimate friendship".

Her husband soon died allowing her to wed the Prince, but he would not agree to marry her. Hume confessed his love for her but it wasn't reciprocated in similar fashion. Yet their friendship continued and they continued to write to one another.
He corresponded with her until the end of his life. In fact, he was on his own deathbed when news of the Prince de Conti's death reached him. Yet he took up his pen to commiserate with the greatest love of his life.

And at the letter's end he said goodbye: "I see death approach gradually without any anxiety or regret. I salute you, with great affection and regard, for the last time."
The other was Eloisa who loved Abelard. Their legend goes as far back as the 12th century and slightly varied versions of the story can be found on the internet. The one I find most credible is that Abelard was the teacher of Eloisa and a promising philosopher. They loved one another even as Eloisa's family disapproved of their love. Eloisa becomes pregnant and her uncles get furious at Abelard. She is sent away and in time delivers a boy. To pacify her uncles Abelard proposed a secret marriage, to which Eloisa refused, thinking it would harm his career. Abelard then convinces her to go to convent. Her uncles mistakenly think Abelard is trying to get rid of Eloisa and have him castrated. A eunuch now, his career is destroyed and he turns to religion, while Eloisa becomes a nun. Separated, they write to one another for twenty years and meet once before they die.

Alexander Pope in Eloisa to Abelard wrote of their legend:
In these deep solitudes and awful cells,
Where heav'nly-pensive contemplation dwells,
And ever-musing melancholy reigns;
What means this tumult in a vestal's veins?
Why rove my thoughts beyond this last retreat?
Why feels my heart its long-forgotten heat?
Yet, yet I love!—From Abelard it came,
And Eloisa yet must kiss the name.
Soon as thy letters trembling I unclose,
That well-known name awakens all my woes.
Oh name for ever sad! for ever dear!
Still breath'd in sighs, still usher'd with a tear.
I tremble too, where'er my own I find,
Some dire misfortune follows close behind.
Line after line my gushing eyes o'erflow,
Led through a sad variety of woe:
Now warm in love, now with'ring in thy bloom,
Lost in a convent's solitary gloom!
There stern religion quench'd th' unwilling flame,
There died the best of passions, love and fame.
Not Caesar's empress would I deign to prove;
No, make me mistress to the man I love;
If there be yet another name more free,
More fond than mistress, make me that to thee!
Oh happy state! when souls each other draw,
When love is liberty, and nature, law:
All then is full, possessing, and possess'd,
No craving void left aching in the breast: 
No, fly me, fly me, far as pole from pole;
Rise Alps between us! and whole oceans roll!
Ah, come not, write not, think not once of me,
Nor share one pang of all I felt for thee.
Thy oaths I quit, thy memory resign;
Forget, renounce me, hate whate'er was mine.

Occurrence and recurrence

We are always capable of fooling ourselves; as if events that occur, occur as part of a plan.

And as if the arrangement and the layout was our construct, making the events seem bearable, falling into their designated spaces in the grid of our understanding. We ascribe some method to occurrences and claim that some thought had gone into their happening, even when there was none. The smart ones among us also name them. Not that we are always wrong (for who knows?) but more often than not we might not even have come close to discerning why something happened. All what we think about occurrences in our lives are essentially retrospective, and by definition speculative. Thus, lust could become love, co-incidences could become fate, commonalities (common attributes) could become similarities (resemblance) and the like. Such freedom then and such burden, when one can write one's own past.


In an earlier post I had written about recurrence. I was concerned about content then - what would a writer write that he hadn't already put on paper before? I have more to write on that. The more things recur the more they lose their relevance. If one were to know that everything could or would happen again, the essence of such occurrence in it is own time would be lost​. And would it not then go on to spoil every chance encounter, every impulse, each spur of the moment? 

​W​here would go the sweet impatience? One that makes us do what we thought not, and (perhaps) ideally ought not. The stakes of omnia aut nihil, all or nothing and the joy of stealing that one moment - with knowledge that it is all or nothing, now or never. What better exercise in courage? 

Only if something were to happen once would we really have lived it; recurrence convinces that everything is a rehearsal. To some it may be a respite, to some it is no less than a sentence. Each recurrence could be damning, one is assured one will better it, one thinks one might be able to. Such knowledge is crippling.

Monday, November 4, 2013


There is nothing to write. Nothing really. Not a word comes my way that doesn't sound like a paraphrase. Redundant and a complete waste. Yet I write to hold on to myself. If I stop writing there will be lost even a semblance of cure.

I want to be honest. I want to talk to someone I do not know but trust instinctively. And till that happens I continue to be jittery. I remember a few years back..I used to be able to talk, write so honestly.. at the time I might not have possessed the wisdom(?) to understand what was happening but I was able to convey. I used to be able to write about things unabashedly and the least of my concerns was pride. Now a certain shame has crept in. Shame in feeling something. Shame in expressing. Shame in grief. Shame in acceptance. Shame in sufferance. Shame in honesty. Shame in shame.

I am around my people now but the isolation has only grown. It is bothering me and I am unable to call for help. I lie. I pretend. But I wouldn't talk straight.

It is easier then to remain eclipsed.

Daagh Dehlvi

Uzr Aane Mein Bhii Hai Aur Bulaate Bhii Nahiin
Baais-E-Tark-E-Mulaaqaat Bataate Bhii Nahiin

Khuub Pardaa Hai Ke Chilaman Se Lage Baithe Hain
Saaf Chhupate Bhii Nahiin Saamne Aate Bhii Nahiin

Ho Chukaa Qata Ta'lluq To Jafaayen Kyon Hon
Jinko Matlab Nahin Rahta Wo Sataate Bhii Nahiin

Ziist Se Tang Ho Ae Daag To Jiite Kyon Ho
Jaan Pyaarii Bhii Nahiin Jaan Se Jaate Bhii Nahiin

Sunday, November 3, 2013

My 26th

It was my birthday yesterday. After two years I spent the day with my family and close friends. It was a quiet day, till evening when we drank silly. The night before, I was woken up at 12 at night and a cake was brought in and cut. Early the next morning my friends arrived- three of them - woke me up and another cake was cut (home-baked this time) even before I had the chance to brush my teeth. I am glad I have these friends around me. Sometimes I can't think of a reason why they are there, why don't they forsake me like some other seemingly more important people did. May be that's why they are my best friends.

You know I always say that friendship can be trampled on, that no gifts, no surprises, nothing special is needed to nurture it - it just finds a way. All you have to do then is to not disappear, never leave without a word, respect the other. And I still abide by that. But surprises, expression of love are things I must learn to value. They warm one's heart, bring a glow to one's face, reassuring at all times. And for all this I am thankful. (When were we last time really thankful?)


It has been two days now that I returned - the displacement continues. Was thinking about how there is no sukoon anywhere, and then I read this:

rahiye ab aisi jagah chal kar jahan koi na ho
hamsukhan koi na ho aur hamzabaan koi na ho

bedar-o-divaar saa ik ghar banaayaa chaahiye
koi hamsaaya na ho aur paasabaan koi na ho

pariye gar bimaar to koi na ho timaaradaar
aur agar mar jaaiye to nauhaakhvaan koi na ho