Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Oh! You're very beautiful!

Walking up the four flights of stairs to room D7 where my Dance class was to be held this morning, a young man I'd never seen before caught my eye, smiled and said, "Oh!You're very beautiful!" A bit wary, but admittedly pleased, I smiled at him and walked on.

Having had a wonderful class, I was "cooling down" (before dance class we 'warm up', after class we 'cool down') when one of my classmates came and joined me for the stretches I was doing. Complaining about how cold and windy it was, and how our muscles ached, our conversation drifted from one topic to another, when suddenly she said, "The weirdest thing happened to me today...some 'randomer' just walked up to me and said, "Oh! You're so beautiful!"

I didn't feel so beautiful anymore.


Sunday, October 29, 2006

Munna Bhai, Gandhism and all of us today

"Lage Raho Munna Bhai" is possibly one of the greatest films on Gandhi ever made. I watched it a few days ago, on my computer. My father brought the DVD with him when he came to visit.

Initially, I thought the film was going to be humane but comic, like the prequel - "Munna Bhai M.B.B.S". And of course, being a hindi film, I know I needn't dig too deep to find faults..for instance, the actress Vidya Balan. I think she was awful in the film.

Arshad Warsi was fantastic, in his slapstick, crude humour that the junta must've ADORED. Sanjay Dutt was heart rendering. His character was humble, gentle, morally good and good-hearted.

So where does Gandhi come in? Gandhi was a quirky, but great man. Yes, he slept with naked women as an experiment, he was a terrible father and husband. But we all know that nobody is perfect, and it is undisputable that he gave his life for the country, and he gave a lot to us. Aside from his quirkiness, there was a lot he taught about truth, and about being good human beings.

Many books have been written about him, and by him. Many history teachers lecture on him in their classes. And many films have been made on Gandhi, and about Gandhi.

'Lage Raho Munna Bhai' was not only about Munna Bhai's love for Jhanvi. It wasn't just about Circuit (Arshad Warsi) and his mad sense of humour. It wasn't just about being funny. Above everything else, it was a film on Gandhi. And quite possibly, the best one made, on him.

Gandhi's beliefs and values were so beautifully woven into the otherwise very light story line, that it made his beliefs accessible to all. This film brought Gandhi's teachings to those people who don't have the luxury of going to a library and picking up a book, going to a bookshop and buying his work, or even going to a school and learning about him. His easiest teachings - Be nice to people, speak the truth, lying doesn't lead you anywhere except to trouble, violence leads to nothing but pain and sadness; these teachings of his were put into practice by a gangster. It made those teachings look like the easiest things in the world.

Munna Bhai, a gangster learns about Gandhi, and begins to hallucinate about seeing Gandhi. He applies Gandhi's teachings to his own life, and helps other people...all the while thinking that Gandhi is guiding him. But all along, its actually everything that he has learnt from Gandhi. It's not Gandhi that's telling him to be non-violent, and truthful and kind. It's Munna bhai, himself. It's a beautiful realisation of the audience, but Munna himself thinks he is going mad, because he's told Gandhi isn't actually there, and there are chemical imbalances in his brain that make him see Gandhi. The truth however, is that he has become the ambassador of "Gandhigiri", in theory and practice.

There is one scene in the film that made me add "and all of us today" to the title of this post. Munna Bhai has to go and learn something about Gandhi. First he tries to threaten university professors, he tries everything but realises that if he really wants to convince his love that he is a professor who has some knowledge about Gandhi, he'd have to go into the Gandhi Library and read. He enters the library and is shocked at what he sees - It's completely empty. It's dark, you can almost smell how musty it is in there. The smell of abandonment, of unopened books and unopened doors.

The film hinted that today, we don't appreciate Gandhi at all. I've heard people talk about him a certain way. I myself have spoken about him as being a bit of a weirdo. I remember saying something nasty about his experiments with the naked women. And yes, maybe what I said wasn't entirely wrong. But if I have the courage to say something derogatory about a man so great, I should also have the gaul to appreciate and acknowledge all the good he left behind. All that we have forgotten.

He was probably, the least "matlabi" person in the world. His only "matlab" was for the country. It's often said in his defence, "He was a bad father to his children, only because he was busy fathering an entire nation." His principles of truth, non-violence, and simplicity are priceless. His role in our struggle for independence is so significant - the non-cooperation movement, the civil disobedience movement, his fasts, the dandi yatra. His fight for equality, his non-violent aggression against untouchability. His selflessness cannot be denied.

We are all products of an Independent India. An India that has been unmistakably shaped in many ways, by Gandhi. But we don't really have the time, or patience or energy to follow most of his principles. Or maybe I'm wrong. Maybe all of you who read this will feel like I'm doing an injustice to you by saying that you are matlabi, you are self-centered and you don't really care much for the truth, or for simplicity.

But let's look a little deeper into ourselves, and each other..

Can we really say that we're Gandhian from any angle? Can we really say, without lying to ourselves, that we've been selfless, kind, truthful, non-violent, and simplistic consistently?

I was told by someone who's always looked out for me, that I like to live in my little happy place, and that's why this world makes no sense to me sometimes, that's why I get hurt again and again. I was told that if I want to continue to live in my happy place, this world isnt for me.

My little happy place is a world where people care for eachother, are there for each other, don't use eachother for ulterior motives, dont think only about themselves. I genuinely believe that such a happy place can exist. But the truth I learn again and again, but foolishly and incessantly refuse to accept, is - it doesnt.

And perhaps the reason it doesn't, is because we've forgotten the simplest teachings of Bapu?

Dreams to not remember

Aghast in panic.
Bacchanal revelations.
Cacaesthesia seeps into me.
Deafeningly loud.
Eating me from the inside.
Fragility is revealed.
Gasping for breath.
Hating the truth.
I am forgotten.
Just me, i'm in darkness.
Killing the light.
Lightly fading away.
My heartbeat is erratic.
Not stopping.
Or beating.
Pulse racing.
Quite frightening.
Realizing I'm fading.
Scared to move.
Tortured soul.
Unleashes the madness.
Veracity dawns as I awake.
What a weird dream.
Xenogenous in nature.
You're the reason I dreamt this.
Zephyrs reveal in whispers, who I talk about.

Saturday, October 28, 2006


That's me dancing in one of the Dance Studios at LIPA!

The piece is choreographed by Paul Win and some of us dance students.

It's going to be performed at the end of term Christmas performance in LIPA in december.

I have a self choreographed solo in this piece at the beginning.

I hate Goodbyes.

I'm Feeling Alone.
(by the way, this picture is outside my dance building at LIPA)

My father came to visit for a few days. And he left today. He's gone to Toronto for a conference, and will be back in England on the 5th of November. That's merely a week away. I'm going to see him next sunday for a day. But still....the goodbyes seemed so difficult.

I dont know what it is. It's not like I'd prefer someone from home to be with me in Liverpool all the time. I'm vaguely getting used to being alone. I've formed some sort of balance in my life here. A rhythm that's entirely mine. So anyone entering this space here permanently would disturb the equillibrium. I know that.

Then why do I feel like Atlas holding up the world on my shoulders everytime someone leaves? Everytime this happens, I feel acutely aware of how the people who love me must've felt when I left to come here.

Uffff. I think its just a phobia of goodbyes that I have. And I think it goes deeper than I think. I think its a fear of never seeing them again. I think that part of childhood where you fear that you'll never see your loved ones if they leave you for even a minute, is in some subconscious way, still alive in me.

Digging even deeper, I think fearing goodbyes is directly a result of my phobia of death. Not my own. But of the people I love. And man, have I experienced a lot of that in the last few years.

Ehhh...feeling weird. I think I'm going to go heat up some lunch, and head out for a walk.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Bahadur Bharat

Reading the news on ndtv.com, I thought to myself...we are a brave country. We've been through so much as a country. We've jumped over so many hurdles, and those that we've not been able to overcome, we're living with...so bravely.

There is so much terror in our lives. More than a New Yorker could ever feel. And yet we go about our day to day existence. Every time there is a festival in Delhi, I remember being told "Avoid market places, avoid cinema halls". Independence day, Republic day...the word "bomb" always lingers around the mention of these days.

Diwali just passed us by. While everyone was eating delicious food, consuming alcohol, and bursting fire crackers, security forces in Jammu and Kashmir killed 7 terrorists, and a jawan was killed too, in three seperate encounters. In the Muzaffarnagar district of Western UP, one person died in a clash between the two religious communities. But the festivities went on.

Every single Republic Day that I've lived to see, there's been terror in Delhi about going out, going to public places, high security. On Independence day, its unsafe to travel on a train or a plane. But millions of people go to the Republic day parade, regardless of the terror. And millions of people travel on Independence day. I did.

We've been terrorized for years and years, but look at us! We're doing great! I know this might be my naivete talking, but I genuinely feel that despite all the trouble, we ARE co-existing...whether it be the hindus and muslims, or the civilian and terrorist, or the government and the people. Life goes on. It is.

We have a long way to go, but we will get there, I feel. Look at us! We've survived wars, terrorist attacks, state sponsored terrorism, communal violence, riots...the works! And we still find ourselves going to the market places on the day of the terror attacks on sarojini nagar market..we still find inter-religious marriages.

I know there's LOADS our country needs to be doing. It is, in no sense, perfect. I myself can tell you countless things that are wrong with it. But in the daily irritants of life that make us feel like our country is shit, we forget how far we've come.

My contextual studies teacher said - "India is a boom country. In about 20 years, the purchasing power of an Indian will be 8 times the amount of an Englishman."

In 20 years...yes, that's a long time away. And the reason i put this down as an example is not because our purchasing power will be greater than that of Britain, but just as an analogy to how our country is progressing.

Despite my own cynicism about this country and it's people, I'm being optimistic.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Remembering a brother

I wrote this a little over 2 years ago..I was instructed to read a poem in class today.I almost read this. Didn't though...was too afraid to expose such a vulnerable side of me. When I got home, I read it to myself..the pain came rushing back like a bitter memory..I felt sad, I felt afraid, but I also realised...this poem - It says it all. In the year of 2004, I lived his life, and kept him alive in my mind..

Part 1

Lying in bed, I thought

'I just can’t move on'

My world had been altered

Since you’ve been gone.

Tenderly, each night I urged the

Pain and grief to fade away,

I held my head in desperation

I had no strength left to stay.

I tried to “move on”, “let go”

Yet, memories I wished to keep,

I gathered them lovingly one by

One, unable to sleep.

Wherever my lifeless eyes looked,

I saw a part of you,

I couldnt quite fathom your death

Was it really true?

I awaited that drunken call,

I awaited that random mail,

I waited in silent hunger,

I fell apart. I grew frail.

But then…dawned realization,

I realized then that you’re still here

I felt a ray of hope shine through

You're here in me, so near.

In frailty, I sought my strength

In sleeplessness, I found sleep

I strenously guarded those memories of

You that I would keep.

Part 2

You called me your soul mate

And I called you mine,

We will always be together

Because our thoughts still entwine.

I still feel your feelings,

And I can speak your mind,

I will live your life for you

While you're released from the bind.

I'll read the books you wanted to

In the dead of night,

I'll watch those works of art for you

I’ll give you back your sight.

I’ll eat the food you liked to eat,

I’ll try to quench your thirst,

I’ll listen to your music so loud

The speakers almost burst.

I’ll cry for you when you feel sad

I’ll flash your smile in mine,

And I tell myself, fear not.

Everything’s going to be fine.

You made me who I am

It’s you I’d do this for,

I let you live inside of me

I let you live some more.

We unite, in silent satisfaction

We united, darling brother

Till the day I die and beyond that,

We will be together.

People can still hold you, feel you,

In me, it’s you they see,

Rest in peace, my brother

You are alive, in me.

Missing Toto again. I wonder where he is now, what he's upto...can he still see us, feel us, or has he left all that behind on some journey towards where we all ultimately land up? Are we in this world, just some distant memories or some sort of deja vu? Or is he watching every move of ours?

Wherever he is, whatever's become of him...I hope he knows I love him and miss him.

p.s. Did i ever thank you baby, for saving me from self destruction during this time? I wouldn't have survived without you.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Colder, darker.

It's getting colder and darker here.
I don't really know what to make of it.
These days when I wake up at 7 in the morning, it's still darkish.
I'm tempted to pull the covers over me, and sleep till its daylight.
The alarm rings periodically.
I press the snooze button, peep out of the window.
Still dark.
I crawl back into bed.
The alarm warns me that I'm going to be late for class.
I bravely kick off the covers and sit up.
Rubbing my eyes, I put my warm feet onto the cold carpet.

Are my feet warmer, or the carpet colder, than yesterday?

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

9th October - Happy Birthday!

John Winston Ono Lennon
(9 October 1940 - 8 December 1980)

This good looking, cheeky face is known to all..He's THE guy from the Beatles, as someone here said. John Lennon was born and raised in Liverpool. And I was here on the 9th of October, two houses away from where he was born!!!!

Lennon was a cheeky, rebellious, iconoclastic and quick-witted bugger. He was an artist, a peace activist, an author, a husband, a father and a HERO.

This is what I know about him today.

In the BBC poll "100 Great Britons", the British public voted Lennon into eighth place.

Lennon was considered the "leader" of The Beatles, because he was the one who founded the original group, inviting Paul McCartney to join later, who in turn invited George Harrison.

Musically, Lennon most often played the "rhythm guitar" role, while George Harrison played lead guitar.. Lennon also frequently played keyboards!

Lennon abandoned his leadership role in the mid-Sixties, under the influence of LSD and Timothy Leary's book The Psychedelic Experience.

John Lennon hated the album "Let it Be"!!!!!

Lennon was the first to break the band's rule that no wives or girlfriends would attend recording sessions. He brought Yoko into the studio.

Lennon :"I started the band. I finished it."

He once wrote a song called "How do you sleep?" and it is rumoured to be an attack on Paul Mc Cartney...obviously, I'm not sure whether this is fact or fiction..but heheheh!

Of the four former Beatles, Lennon had perhaps the most varied recording career. While he was still a Beatle, Lennon and Ono recorded three albums of experimental music, and also the Wedding Album.

His first 'solo' album of popular music was in 1969(before the Beatles split up) at the Rock 'n' Roll Festival in Toronto with Plastic Ono Band(what a name!), which included Eric Clapton in it. Apparently, they learned the whole set of songs on the plane from England to Canada.

And we all know "Give Peace a chance", his anti-war anthem. His other singles were "Cold Turkey" about his struggles with heroin addiction) and "Instant Karma!"

1971 was his first solo album "Imagine", which was hugely successful!

1972 was "Some time in New York City". It was the antithesis to "Imagine". It was loud and political. Songs about British politics, Northern Ireland, racial and sexual relations.

He even released an anti-sexism song "Woman Is the Nigger of the World". It was banned almost everywhere, and the radio refused to broadcast it. It implied that just as some people of darker skin are discriminated against in some countries, women were discriminated against on a global scale! Quite the feminist he turned out to be!

1973 was "Mind Games". It was satirical. In this year, he also wrote "I'm the Greatest" for Ringo Starr's Ringo Album.

1974 saw the release of "Walls and Bridges".

1975, we got "Rock and Roll" and "Shaved Fish".

In 1980, the year he died, he released his album "Double Fantasy". It just so happens, that Lennon's first encounter with his murderer, Mark Chapman was earlier in the day, on the day of his death, when he approached John Lennon for an autograph on the cover of this very album.

December 8th 1980 at around 11 at night, he was shot by Mark Chapman, right outside his apartment in New York City.

Three witnesses (a doorman at the entrance, an elevator operator, and a cab driver who had just dropped off a passenger) saw Chapman standing in the shadows by the arch.

The Lennons walked by, and after Ono had opened the inner door and had walked inside — when Lennon was the only person outside, Chapman called out, "Mr. Lennon!" and shot Lennon four times. According to the autopsy, two shots struck Lennon in the left side of his back and two in his left shoulder. All four caused serious internal damage and bleeding. The fatal shot pierced Lennon's aeorta.

Oh you know something eerie? Apparently, after shooting Lennon, Chapman calmly sat down on the sidewalk and waited. The doorman walked to Chapman and said, "Do you know what you've just done?" And Chapman just said, in a matter-of-fact tone, "I just shot John Lennon."


Well, 9th October was the birthday of a legend, and I wanted to share some bits of his life that I have recently come to know about, as a tribute to the memory of one of the world's greatest and most loved musicians.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Moments of Clarity

I was told it happens to alcoholics. Well, I guess that makes me an alcoholic then. Hmmm maybe I won't go that far. But its been a pretty alcoholic weekend.

When you're extremely drunk, there are sudden and quick flashes of sobriety. Usually they last about 30 seconds, and they're unpleasant jerks of reality amidst all the drunken oblivion.

Oh god. Maybe I should go home now. What am I doing!?? I think I should stop drinking now. Maybe climbing that wall wasn't such a good idea. How am I going to get down? Where am I? Who is this?

These aren't the little moments of sobriety I'm talking about.

In the moments of clarity, you notice things about yourself, about the people around you, about situations and circumstances that you didn't recognise before. Sometimes they're quite unpleasant. And its just for a flash. Then the mind switches back into the drunk mode...except you dont quite feel the same. Its like a nagging dot on the TV screen that just doesn't go away. And you can't enjoy the movie you were watching quite like the way you did before the nagging dot appeared.

That happened to me last night.

Luckily for me though, I was too far gone..to remember much this morning.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Falling in love is so hard on the knees

Is it?

Nahhh...I love being in love!