Saturday, September 30, 2006

West is East.

Warming up before dance class one day, not so long ago, I was pondering over everything I had studied in the previous class...the choreography, the freedom I had been given to create something, the feeling of pride at having given birth to my very own style of dance, and warm up exercises at the beginning of the class..and a thought occured to me. But I kept silent.

On friday, we had "Voice training" class. In this class, we simply breathe. We learn how to breathe. Sounds silly, doesn't it? Its meant to be one of those innate things in all living things. Breathing. But we were being taught how to breathe so that we can utilise our energy in the best way possible. It was shocking to see how many people breathed the wrong way. I don't, but I'll get to that later. Again, the same thought occured to me that had struck my mind in the Choreography class. Again, I didn't say a word.

But a strong belief in me was slowly born, and was gaining strength and conviction everyday.

And then my mind wandered to the countless and varied Indians I come across, in India, and outside of it.

There's the "East is East" variety. Like the characters in the film, East is East. These are some of the Non resident Indians. They believe India is the way it was when their ancestors left it three decades ago. They shun any sort of westernisation, believe in sex ONLY after marriage and that any other kind of sex is wrong and immoral. They create their own little ancient India in the heart of Western civilisation.

Then there's the "East is West" variety. They are the numerous Indians living in India who want to be more western than the west. The westernised, modern Indian, ignorant and intolerant of Indian culture by choice. It's Pizza vs Roti, Madonna vs Bombay Jayshree, Jazz dance(Shyamak Davar) vs Classical dance. The former wins the vote more often than not.

Getting back to my thought. The thought that surfaced again and again during my classes. To my amusement, I discovered that outside India, there is a "West is East" clan.

Let me explain - Chicken Tikka Masala is Britain's National Dish. China town in Liverpool serves more people in their restaurants than any "chippy" (place where you can get french fries). Pashmina shawls are the latest trend. Bindis with jeans, toerings, anklets. You name it.

But coming to what made me post this blog in the first place...In the Choreography class, we were warming up, and as the exercises seemed more and more familiar to me, my mind raced back in time to my yoga classes back home. And as I went from one movement to the other, one stretch to the next, I realised. I'm doing yoga.

Two days later, I found myself in the same mindset, as I lay on the floor in Voice training class, learning to breathe from my diaphragm rather than my chest. I was one of the few who was breathing from my diaphragm. And as Chris explained how to breathe, again I thought - I'm doing yoga.

To my sheer amusement, they were calling it voice training, and body conditioning. Not a mention of the word Yoga. So the following week, I raised my hand in class. Upon my mention of the word, the teachers smiled. Yes, we borrow a lot from Yoga.

Yoga means union in Sanskrit. Images of a meditating yogi from the Indus Valley Civilisation are said to be 6 to 7 thousand years old. The earliest written accounts of yoga appear in the Rig Veda(codified between 1500 and 1200 BC).

Yoga is a family of ancient spiritual practices, and also a school of spiritual thought that originated in India. In other parts of the world where yoga is popular, notably the West, Yoga has become associated with the asanas of Hatha Yoga, which are popularly considered there as fitness exercises.

Modern yoga practice often includes traditional elements inherent in eastern religion, such as moral and ethical principles, postures designed to keep the body fit, spiritual philosophy, instruction by a guru, chanting of mantras, pranayama(breathing exercises), and stilling the mind through meditation. These are sometimes adapted to meet the needs of non-Hindu practitioners, who may be attracted to yoga by its utility as a relaxation technique as a way to keep fit.

The Natya Shastra, a guide to Dance in general and to Natya Yoga(dance yoga) was written by a muni called Bharata (according to some scholars, bharatanatyam got its name from this man). Natya Yoga was practised by the medieval devadasis and is currently taught in a few schools of Bharatanatyam and Odissi.

Voice training and Body conditioning?

Hmph. :)

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Glasgow. Hmm.

Its been a long time since I posted. It's been a busy busy busy week. Last weekend, I went to Glasgow to meet Guru and Rohan. I have never been that inebriated for that long!! Almost 56 hours! However, it's not a blur. I got to Glasgow last friday. Guru picked me up.

Rohan (aka Nem) was also there. We went straight to a pub. At the pub, we met the bartender...Shilo. Well, his name is Sandeep or Sunny, but I think he looks SO much like our little Shilo in Bangalore, that I can't seem to call him anything else. His new name on Orkut is "Sunny is my only name". Hmmmm. NO.

That's Shilo, by the way.

We had a pint there, and headed for Guru's home. Mmmmmmm...what awaited me for Baingan and rice. Yummmmmmm. Proper Indian food. Not packeted, not cooked by me (although I must say, I'm not a bad cook!) was delicious.

After the baingan and rice, the only thing I consumed was Alcohol. LOTS of it. At a charming narrow little pub called "Waverly Tea Room". A pint of beer, a cocktail with gin, mint and lemon, followed by a shot of Tequila, chased by a Sambouka shot on fire..called "Purple Rain"...then more Beer.

Swaying back to Guru's, I was desperate to sleep. But no...Says Shilo - "Aranyani! You can't sleep! Get up! Here...smoke this!" This...was actually 4 of them. That was followed by a shot of whiskey, which Shilo tricked me into having.

And this is not the night of the Mogwai concert. The next morning, I was shaken awake at 10. Ten in the morning, on a saturday! After a friday like that!!! We went for a chinese buffet lunch. I ate so much, I couldn't walk.

And then we staggered (I didn't seem to be walking much there!) to "13th Note" and had about 4 Diesels (As Guru says, "It's half a pint of cider, half a pint of lager, with a dash of blackcurrent...and you can get fucked on it!")

I met a lot of Guru's "mates" and all of them were lovely! We were all planning to go to the Mogwai concert, and we were all quite hammered before we got there!

Once we got there, it looked like there were more Diesels going around inside the venue. But in reality, they were just purple beers. I swear. It was beer with a "dash" of blackcurrant" in it. Left a Jamoon like feeling on my gums and tongue, but I think I'd reached that stage of intoxication that no sensation really bothered me.

So we all drank till we were beyond numb.

And then..... the concert started!!!

It was awesome! We were just swaying from side to side, and it wasn't because of the alcohol!

After that, we somehow walked home. Singing, walking, talking, and stumbling...we got home. And my my, a party awaits us there!

You won't believe it...there was more booze. And more madness. About seven of us stayed in guru's room...But after a while, this was me -


Thursday, September 21, 2006

Blinded by Light.

As I walk in, I take in all the black. My pupils enlarge to accommodate the darkness. I squint, my hand blindly reaches for the switch. I try to focus. It’s too dark to see, to cold to feel. I find myself standing in the darkness for just an instant. This is what blindness must feel like.

A little uneasy now, I search for the switch that’ll end my encounter with blindness, with a renewed desperation. Where is the goddamn light?

I feel wool. And warmth. I go closer to it and a familiar aroma engulfs me. It’s my grandfather’s shawl. I can still smell him on it. It plunges me into memories.

Remembering, and devouring them, I reach out with my hand, my sole guide in the dark. My eyes don’t seem to be adjusting to the darkness as they usually do. Perhaps it’s the Guinness I had.

Reaching under my pillow, my hand recognizes a material different from the rough softness of my bedsheet. Scrambling uncomfortably, I get out of my jeans and slip on the shorts. I slump on the bed. I feel it’s uneven-ness. I’m momentarily puzzled. And then, I remember that my jacket, my jeans, my trackpants from the day..were lying in a heap in the middle of the bed. Cursing myself, I dump them on the floor, and smile longingly as I feel the now smooth surface of the bed.

I’m still pondering over my thought…This is what blindness must feel like. I think of colours, I revel in the memory of brightness, I see faces of loved ones in my buzzing head. My mind conjures beautiful images of beautiful faces, spectacular places and stunning monuments.

I can hear music playing somewhere, cars zipping past on the road that otherwise seems out of earshot. I even hear the edge of the curtains rustling against the wall.

I reach for my bedside drawer, and slip the earrings off my earlobes. They seem heavier in the dark. My palm recognizes the handle, I pull it open. A whiff of Vicks Vaporub fills me.

It’s so strange how when you’re blinded, your other senses are so significantly magnified. The sense of smell, of touch, of hearing.

As I try to set the alarm for tomorrow morning, I find the switch to my bedside lamp.


Instantly my eyelids recoil into a locked eye-shut. It’s a new kind of blindness. I can feel the harshness of the light, even through tightly closed lids.

I think I preferred the other kind of blindness. It’s so unpleasant to be blinded by light.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Another week..

I've been here for 3 weeks. I can't believe its been so long already. It doesn't seem so long when I moved into what was a bare empty lifeless room, which is now splashed with colours that only India would dare to bare! Not to mention the newly acquired posters of Miles Davis, John Coltraine, Salvador Dali, Pink Floyd and Audrey Hepburn.

And my room has been inhabited by another being. This is my roommate.

Eeeek. Simply refuses to go away! Sits there by the window, or swings from my curtain like Mogli, or takes a "stroll" around my room in the dark, and startles me with its unnerving buzzing noise. But living with someone, or in this case -'s all about adjusting isnt it? Am getting used to it.

Dance classes are challenging, but the work out is as satisfying.

Two of my dance classmates are still being a bit "snotty"...As Georgia, my greek friend, so eruditely put it, "They very very snob!...And we, we so open...both us..but they...Ohhhh! I should tell them- I dont want talk you either!!!"

The others are warming up to our darker skins and different accents though. Its a slow path, but its pretty straight forward. Be nice, invite them over for dinner. Offer to teach them some Indian dance...and they are ready to come over on sunday with a bottle of wine!! Yay!

I've learnt a lot even about myself by being here.
I've realised that I respond terribly to alarm clocks. The concept of a snooze button should NEVER have been invented.
I've realised that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and strenuous exercise on an empty stomach...makes you ill.
But on a more moralistic tone, it dawned upon me that being myself is my biggest strength. And no matter how much those english girls look through us international students in the corridors, not an ounce of my blood will ever start turning british. And no matter how many times I smile at them with not a twitch of their mouths in return, I'll just keep smiling at them. Because that's what I do.
I realise that when you live with people, they become your family. As Em said, "If you have three meals in a day together, you are Han,'re my family!!!"
I suddenly see why family is so important and that you can take them for granted as much as you want, but when you have that headache that's killing you, you want to go lie in between your folks on their bed or squeeze into a single bed with your sibling!
I recognise that when you love someone deeply, it's just beyond everything. Nothing matters..not time, not money, not other men or women(?), not the distance...everytime I talk to him, the rest of the world just melts into a blur.

The last two days have been tough. I've been a bit sick, and have had to continue dancing. Just sitting in class makes me feel like I'm wasting the money I paid to come here. So I've danced, coughed , sniffled and danced more.

Ohhh...I'm so tired. I'm going to bed.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

But for the cold, hard fact...He's not alive.

I miss him

A Lot.

Monday, September 11, 2006

First day at LIPA.

A strange day, I'd say.

Oh, but before I go into that...Breathe, Robin...Breathe..In my last post, I meant Steve Irwin, not Owen(thank you baby...don't know what I was thinking!)

Now LIPA....Got to meet a lot of new people...some nice, some not so nice. We arrived at LIPA at 10am for a talk on our prgoramme leaders and course leaders. Then we had lunch. And then more talks.

No dancing at the moment. Only lots of talks, and lots of "getting to know each other" kind of activities.

Had a bit ofa panic moment too, but that's a journal entry topic, not a blog one...if you know what I mean ;)

What else what else...well, i learnt how to link people to my blog! Yay!

I've just returned from a pub called the Pilgrim. Nice beer. A guinness copy called "Murphys"...its quite yummy, I'd say. Was there with Emma(not my flatmate...this is another norweigian girl at LIPA), and Catalina from Argentina and another very pretty girl from Norway whos name I can't remember. And a boy from a metal band. Hmmmm... damn. I'm really bad with names!

Going back to LIPA in another half an hour or so. The LIPA bar! mmm hmmmm. Tonight is a pub quiz. Don't know what that means...but I know if they ask about beer, i'll know enough! Hehehehe.


Sunday, September 10, 2006

A wandering mind on a lazy Sunday.

Its the last lazy day here. Tomorrow is my first day at the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts(LIPA). In the silence that almost always accompanies solitude, I can hear suitcases being rolled, doors being opened and closed, vacant houses being occupied.

Students are moving in, all around me.

It's been a nice day so far. I woke up at noon, and came online. Spoke to my darling on the phone, through the computer...for free!! Brilliant. Less money spent on phone calls to India means I'll go hungry on less days.

I felt so happy talking to him. They're usually the best 45 minutes of the day.

Now its back to solitude. And reflection.

Was thinking again, about why I never had a blog all these years, and why I have one now. Got reminded of my very first post here, the one previous to this, my conversation on google talk, with Robin. And more recently, with Ganesh.

Blogs are judged in a way that journal entries are not. Journal entries are stupid scribblings sometimes, and they're usually written as and when you feel what you feel. So it's fresh, raw and spontaneous. In a blog however, I suppose the virtual world weighs you, judges your spontaneous emotion...and why not? You're writing, not for yourself, but for it.

My mind drifts. I look around and think to myself, that it's quite something to live on your own. Everything is the way I want it, and its all where I left it. Even the mess. I know where to look when I'm looking for something.

I cooked a meal for a few friends a couple of days ago. Rice, potato sabzee and an Indian dish called Chicken in fried onion sauce. I also put some stuffed red chilli pickle on the table. It was a feast for me. But for their tastebuds, poor things, it was quite a shock. I'm assuming they liked the food though, because they're coming for another meal tonight.

I showed them Rang de Basanti. And for the first time, I watched it from the perspective of a foreigner. They simply adored it. Not being able to discern flaw from brilliance, but they were in love with it. Even days later, they were talking about it and saying "What does that guy sing after his friend falls into the water? Was it...'Tim Luck Luck'?" Hehehe.

But seeing Rang De Basanti through their eyes strengthened my resolve that it isn't as bad a film as I'm constantly being told it is. Yes, it's not flawless, and it goes completely overboard towards the end. But it has a few disguised lessons, and some subtle messages that it gets across on Indian secularism, multiculturalism, Indian fundamentalism, the present Indian youth(good and bad) and even love. Was reminded of quite a heated conversation Ganesh, Prashanth and I had at his Prashanth's place on another lazy afternoon like this one.

A few days earlier, my flatmates and I watched Kamasutra. Han is a die hard fan on Navin Andrews, the guy from 'Lost' I'm told. So she was just dying to see him naked!! Interesting film. But I can see it was made for a foreign audience. And Rekha, beautiful though she is, didn't act well at all. Watching her was a bit dull.

Both films led to healthy informative discussions about my culture and theirs. They learnt a lot about Indian customs, social traditions, the youth, the transformation from tradition to modernity, and the difference between mordernity and westernisation. While I learnt about Norweigian culture and English food(whatever that is!) ! :)

The last two days, Emma and Hannah have been at home. I mean, their homes. Not here. I actually miss them. It's strange, how quickly you get attached to people when you're living with them.

But ahem, sine qua non...worry not, for I miss you more!!! :) Oh, that's a dangerous path to tread at the moment. Am missing home a lot today. Not in a sad depressing way, but I miss it.

I briefly spoke to Vanya, my little mad sister. She is one person I would simply die without! She's not just my younger sister, she's always also been my best friend. Not the kind of best friend who somtimes slips out of the inner circle and disappears for a while, even if it might be the time when you need them the most! She's been with me, through everything, all my life. No one else has had that misfortune! :)

I miss my mum. She is, as usual, stacking up one odd errand after the other in order to 'fill the vaccuum' my absence has apparently created. My dad is in London, with my uncle. I spoke to him a little while ago.

I'm suddenly reminded of everyone back home. The doggies, Tata, Sunita didi, Kesar Singh, Mohan(who stayed extra late the night of my departure so he could hug me goodbye!), Hari, Nishi, Sammy, Anupam, all you other crazy adorable bangaloreans!..the people here are no match!! I keep looking for qualities of you all in them!

Speaking of my friends here..I've made lots. Big relief, considering that on first meetings, I usually sit as though I have an invisible gag on my mouth. But they're lovely. I've met so many people from so many different parts of the world - Norway, Argentina, Brazil, Germany, Zimbabwe, England, Scotland, Ireland, Lithuania, America, Sweden..Its such a mix of cultures..It's wonderful.

Yesterday some of us went to a park with lots of beer and two guitars. We just sat on the grass, and sang songs, made instruments out of logs of wood, sticks, beer cans and beer bottles. We talked about music, about magic mushrooms, about Steve Owen and his dramatic death.

The last two nights have been madness at the LIPA bar!

Friday, September 08, 2006

FUCK you, Delhi Times.


Nishi told me I was a celebrity today, perhaps not realising the extent of damage an ignorant insensitive 'journalist' is capable of. I laughed it off and decided I'd see it on her blog later.

Then I stumbled upon it. How? You'll soon know.

Celebrity...yea, like...Oh, look! There's Janet Jackson's boob!

Seems like I'm a dead man...woman. Whatever.

This...THIS is all over Delhi.

Me. Smoking a cigarette. At a rock show.

Brilliant Aranyani. Well done! Your parents must be so proud.

Isn't there some way one can sue Delhi times for printing a photograph of someone without their knowledge?? There I was, blissfully listening to wonderful music, and smoking a drag of Anupam's cigarette...

And THIS is the outcome???? Holy fuck.

Am completely panic striken. My dance classmates, my parent's friends, dance reviewers, dance critics, dance teachers...EVERYONE will have seen this.

My parents...Fuckk. My mum. I got mail from her today. It was a 4 word email...Check this out cuddly, it said.

Attached, was this monstrosity.

As I said before - Well done, Aranyani!

My career as a dancer in India could be ruined. Destroyed. By a stupid paparazzi idiot who thought she'd make a quick buck by showing a girl smoking a cigarette in public.

My fault, I guess. Even common-folk should know that they never know when they're being photographed, documented, tracked, and shamed.

Be warned, y'all.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

So...Can I call ye Joan, then?

Yesterday, Hannah asked me "Is there another name I can call you by?"...I told her she could call me what she wanted...And she said, "Oh...isn't there a shorter name by which people call ye?"...So i said, You can call me whatever you want..I know my name is difficult to pronounce.She retorted, Don't give me that option, my imagination goes a bit wild. I said it didn't matter. This was met with absolute silence.

Two minutes later, Hannah looked at me and said, "So, Can I call ye Joan then?"

And thus, everyone who knows Hannah and Emma in Liverpool know me as Joan. But I'm not Joan...Far from it. I'm not a a national heroine of France and a saint of the Roman Catholic Church. I didn't assert that I had visions from God which told me to recover my homeland from English domination.

But all those who know Emma and Hannah, I am Joan.

Emma and I were sitting together talking about her studies. She's studying computer science but doesn't really want to. I convinced her to study something she wanted to radiology or forensics...and we decided together that she was going to take up another course next year...and i became her best friend.

Soon, Hannah walked in, and said "So what d'you do all day, Joan?" Hehehehe. I told her and we discussed emma's plans for the future.

Then we decided to go out, and get drunk.

Emma, Hannah and Me. Otherwise known as Em, Han and Joan. Hahaha. WHY??? I have no idea why Han thought Joan would be the name for me. When I asked her, she said - No particular reason. If anyone asks, just say I'm a really really....random girl.

So, we went to The Font, and then this place called Busters. Too hammered to say what it was like. On the whole- Quite Brilliant.

Em and Han love Gans ALREADY!! They're tremendously fond of me, and I love em!

Ok, Enough!!

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Aint no Sunshine..

I know its been a long time since I wrote. I've been a little busy. This is the Liverpool Sunset. There's hardly any sunshine here, so when there learn to cherish it. Even if it gives you sun burns and freckles.

Liverpool is a small little town in northern England, far far away from the intimidation of London. The accent is almost indecipherable(but I'm learning to understand it) and the city is full of beautiful architecture and friendly people...

I got here, with much difficulty on the evening of the 1st of September. I moved into my apartment and it was bare, and small..and as Guru says - Like a matchbox. It is literally like a matchbox..This is what my room looked like before I made it my own...

It was a small empty room which looked naked and inhuman, with just a mattress, a dirty carpet and an ugly set of curtains...

I decided to make it a little better, but have apparently failed to make it look as nice in a photograph as it seems in real life. But it does seem closer to home than it did initially.

I spent two days setting up the room...things from crafts museum, pictures of home, of loved ones, posters of the Beatles and Led Zep...I'm told by my flat mates that there's soon to be a poster sale on student prices in about a week so my room will be fuller...but this is what my room looks like as of now...

Speaking of flat mates...I met some of them...well, two of them. Three, if you count the brief hello I had with Mike. The two girls are Emma and Hannah.

Emma is trendy. She's got painted nails, streaked hair, an eating disorder and a steady boyfriend. She wears tight clothes, and giggles a lot. But she's a LOT of fun, and a great flatmate!

Hannah is cool. She's plump. She burps. She eats a lot, and anything. Smokes more than cigarettes, and loves beer. Listens to the same music as me, and guffaws at my not so funny sense of humour. She's a riot to hang out with!

I like them both. A lot! We are all so different and yet we seem to be getting along quite well. That was a big relief...but no, nishi..they've not replaced you and sammy, so sit back and relax.hehe.

Mike...hmmm. I've met him only once, and instantly thought he was....well. He's very sweet, and as Emma said, he goes on and on about how he hates Robbie William's music but thinks "Robbie's soooo hot"! AND he visits all the clubs that are otherwise known as "gay bars". hmmm enough said about that. Verrrrry interesting.

Rob is the fourth person we are supposed to be living with. But we haven't met him yet.

On the whole, these last few days have been interesting...

I'm missing a certain someone a lot. But coping with it. I know things will get a lot more difficult in the coming week, when I will have settled down and will have all the time in the world to think of how being away from him is just the worst thing conceivable..but right now, I think I'm in denial. I'll leave it at that. I love you, Gans.

Oh, I had dinner at a chinese restaurant today..and my fortune cookie said - "Now is the time to further your career - ingratiate." there's something to think about...

Meanwhile, here are some more pictures -

Sunset at Liverpool ...

Here's a more dramatic one ........

This is me outside my apartment, pointing at the apartment number ...

Alright then. More later. Long day ahead. :)

Friday, September 01, 2006

I'm Leaving on a Jet Plane.

Strange day. I've been happy, sad, excited and scared. Completely contrary collision of emotions.

But it's comforting to know that I've experienced this yo-yo syndrome before. And that eventually things stabilise.

Today was my last day in Delhi before I head out to Liverpool. As it hits me hard once again as I type this, I manage to deep breathe into serenity.

It's been a difficult day in many ways, mainly because I've had to say a lot of goodbyes. I hate goodbyes. They make me uneasy. And I've been saying it since noon. I'm still not done yet.

It all started with Anupam who came to see me off on an empty stomach and a huge appetite. Nishi joined us halfway through lunch. And then we went out. Beer. We headed home, and Sammy trotted up the stairs, as I climbed down them to see Anupam out to his car. Then Sammy, Nishi, Vanya and I went out again. The Big Chill. Penne with Vodka. And then Chonas. Beer again. Girija joined us there. Then we came home.Sammy said bye. Giri said bye. And Nishi's mum came to pick her up and said bye, Nishi and I said bye(Silly the words of Ozzy Osbourne - No more tears!!). I got home, met my cousins, my aunt and uncle, my grandmothers, and then Mahi and Rohan bid me farewell. I know I'll miss them dearly.

Saying goodbye to my grandmothers and my four year old little cousin was particularly moving. My grandmothers, for obvious reasons. I hope I see them soon. And my cousin, because she just couldn't understand "buth whyyyy" I was leaving her and going away for so long. I'm definitely going to long to hear "Cudddeeee didiiii"!

I spoke to Hari on the phone. My 'soul-brother'. That was nice. Reassuring, comforting. I'm going to miss him a LOT, but I know I'll see him soon.

Being hopelessly, unconditionally and madly in love makes it a little bit more difficult to say goodbye, and to leave. The last thing I did for the day, was to speak to Ganesh. It's difficult to measure the love I feel, so I didn't try. We talked. About how happy he was that I was finally going to do what I wanted. About how I'm going to be so close by once I'm back. But as usual, a lot of things were said that I'd rather keep to 'ourself'. We didn't say goodbye though. I can never get myself to do that. Because well..him and goodbye - they just don't go together.