Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Saying a little prayer

I’m not a God-fearing person; I’m a God-loving one. I was initiated into God, pujas and all things that are holy even before I gained consciousness. My family is super religious, and though the extent of their religiousness may not have rubbed off on me, I still am fairly. I go to the mandir when I can, I visit the church when possible and I bow my head in reverence while passing a mosque, synagogue, etc. I follow a vegetarian diet every Saturday, but that’s more for my folks than myself—I really don’t believe that my eating non-veg can piss God off or that it would prove my lack of devotion to or love for him. But I love my mom, so I do it. My friends have repeatedly asked me to change the day, since Saturday is the most exciting one of the week, but I’d rather not. I do not perform pujas or other holy rituals on a daily basis, but I love any kind of religious festival—it makes me genuinely happy when the streets are lit up and there is an idol on every street corner.

I love God—He’s my friend. I’m sorry if I offend some people by calling God ‘He’, but it’s not a sexist thing—I’ve just been conditioned with it and so am used to it. Thankfully, we Hindus have plenty of She Gods as well. :D

Anyhoo. I love God; I talk to God; I chat with Him; I smile at Him; I get angry with Him and stop talking to Him for days on end—stop praying at night. I also know when God is mad at me or is laughing at me, or listening to me, or even just smiling back at me. Call me crazy, but I do. But yes, God makes me feel at peace.  There’s a particular mandir I go to, not as regularly as I’d like, but definitely when I’m feeling agitated or anxious. I sit there for a while, and I can almost feel the calmness spreading over my being.

Incidentally, an ex had taken me to that mandir for the first time, despite the fact that my mother had discovered it much before that on one of her trips here. When the said ex and I broke up, I asked God why He held his hand and brought him to me, if He was going to take him away anyway. Sitting in the mandir one day, it came to me, the answer. God did not bring the said ex to me; said ex brought me here, home, fulfilled his part in my life and moved on. We broke up over three years ago and I still go to the mandir regularly. And I’ve never bumped into said ex. Divine intervention, for sure.

I also believe in fate, destiny and ‘buri nazar’ (jinxing). Never proclaim to anyone, perhaps not even to God (though He knows, damn it) when you’re happy. God will smirk, and then make something happen that will take that happiness off so that your feet remain planted firmly on the ground. And that’s exactly what happened to me a few days ago. I was feeling good—about myself and my life—and then something happened to put my insides into turmoil again. Unbelievable. Khud ki nazar lag gayi!

Anyway, there isn’t much of a point to this post. It’s just that, despite what happened recently, I’ve been feeling a lot of love coming for God. So wanted to share it. I ask God to protect and be with my family and friends, along with me—I think it works; I feel safer myself and calmer about others. Say a little prayer about that special someone—He’ll promise to look out for him/her. Love God, I promise He’ll love you back. 

We went trippin'

One of the best things about living in Bombay is that it is in the state of Maharashtra. Given how large the state is, there’s plenty to see and do here. If you’re eager, rich and enthu enough, and not belonging to the media, and therefore may have weekends off, you can take off to a new place every weekend.

Well, after months of grumbling and planning, thanks to one of my closest friends coming to town, my *gang* and I decided to take that long-overdue weekend out of town. And whatte weekend it was.

After a few initial hiccups, we set out for a place called Bordi, a little ahead of Dahanu—hence a two to three hour train ride away. After years, we got into the general compartment of a train with many shady, smelly people. It was awesome—reminiscent of our poor college days when we had no choice but to travel like this. And back then, travel we did. I told my friend that we’ve all moved on in life, we stay at better hotels, but we still have somehow not learnt to travel in luxury—at least not when we’re travelling together as a group. He laughed and said, “But that’s just not us.” And I couldn’t agree more.

We went in batches, since we’re adults now and everyone has different priorities. For the boys, the main purpose of the trip was to drink and unwind. Unfortunately, I can’t drink that much, thanks to my herculean (enter sarcasm) capacity *rolling eyes*. So I made do with the beautiful landscape of luscious green, the sparkling blue pool (even though I can’t swim) and the company of my extended family.

In the evening, after we waddled in the pool for a while (which is mindblowingly relaxing) we sat down with some hardcore, refined alcohol (again, which I don’t drink, sigh) and chilled. Yes, we just chilled. By about 9pm, everyone who was supposed to come had arrived and we just sat and talked, laughed, drank, ate, took photos and were just being us.

Then after everyone was suitably ‘happy’, someone threw the idea of playing Taboo. Now before I get into this, I must warn you that my friends are exceptionally competitive (read: violent) while playing games. To top it off, we were playing the boys versus the girls. Before long, everyone was screaming at each other (really, throat-scratchy yelling), trying to cheat, sitting on each other to save a point... you get the drift. I was scared, as I always get while playing with them. Of course, the girls won, though in their drunken stupor the boys thought they did—teehee—and we humoured them.

The night ended on a balcony overlooking the pool and the darkness of the hills. Picture it. You can’t, because it’s indescribable. Not just the view. The feeling of happy, being there and with whom.

We went back into the pool the next morning with no sunscreen, so expectedly, came back burnt to a crisp. Oh well. This pool was just beautiful. It was clean, a bright blue, with the sunrays kissing it, making it sparkle as the teeny waves ebbed and flow. And it was surrounded by hills, trees and lot of green.

Later, after a filling lunch, we took a train back to Bombay. Of course, we had to run to catch the train since it was already at the platform and spent a claustrophobic three hours—but hey, where’s the sense of adventure without it, right?

The day and a half passed way too fast. Unfortunately, real life beckoned us back and we grudgingly returned.

Life gets to us all, doesn’t it, what with work stress, personal lives going topsy turvy, getting too fat or too thin, among many other things. But when you have a set of people you know you can count on, you can fall back on, and most importantly, be your own stupid self with, you gotta re-evaluate life and think—not too bad, eh?

To my extended family in Bombay—you guys mean more to me than I can ever express. Cheers to *many* more trips and awesome times together. 

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Barfi and other things about love...

Contains spoilers on Barfi!

I’m pretty sure that mine will not be the first and definitely not the last of blog posts on the recently released Barfi. However, I’ll try not to harp on the usual fare. That the film was directed and shot beautifully, and the performances were fantastic cannot be denied. In fact, this has only been emphatically endorsed by everyone who has watched the film. Ranbir, without saying a word, has proved his mettle beyond belief and Priyanka, once again, proves that she is much more than just eye candy. Her poignant portrayal of an autistic girl perfectly complemented Ranbir’s prowess. Ileana too, makes an impressive debut – she really is very pretty, but oh-so skinny!

It’s the story and the finer nuances of the film that got to me. That it was shot in Kolkata and Darjeeling was nostalgia-inducing for me. After watching the film, the desire to go home for the pujos has skyrocketed. But alas. However, it was the love story between Barfi and Jhilmil (I’m falling in love with that name) that has struck a chord.

This comes in the wake of a tsunami of break-ups and heartache. Speaking to a friend, who is unfortunately facing a similar fate, she told me that the count of casualties in the last few days is up to seven. Seven pairs of people ending relationships for myriad reasons. Fourteen people who, at some point, could not get enough of their better halves, missed them sorely, and felt incomplete till they heard their voice, have all decided to go their separate ways. Some have got their closure while most others, I suspect (including myself) have not.

After Jhilmil thinks Barfi has fallen asleep, she quickly hooks her pinky with his. She can then sleep at peace. Even on their death bed, she hooks their pinkies together again and off they go, into a new universe of their own. This is honestly the most beautiful thing I’ve seen in a while, on celluloid and off. Lame as I am, even as I’m thinking of it, I’m tearing up. Haven’t we all done this, or a form of this at some point? Waited for him/her to pass out and then quietly wrapped your arm around his/her waist. Or lightly entwine your legs. Or fit your hand into his/her, which is around you anyway. Human touch. So powerful. Hugs, kisses, hand-holding, etc. Often words are not necessary. And even I’m saying this, despite the fact that many state (I’m not sure I agree entirely) that I talk a lot. Yes, I do believe in open, honest communication. I also believe that it’s important to say that you love a person out loud—it’s not enough just to feel it. And yet, if I can’t sleep without hooking my pinky to yours, or if I wait for you to start snoring to bury my face in your back, do I really need to still reiterate my love for you?

Such a strange word this love is, no? Do you think Jhilmil even knew that she was in love with Barfi? But she too felt jealousy. When he finally finds her at the end of the film, they do their little forehead-to-forehead thingy. But then suddenly Jhilmil sees Shruti behind Barfi, and quietly comes and stands in front of him, marking her territory. Second most favourite moment in the film.

Some of the recent reactions I’ve received for my blog posts are “brave” and “you wrote what I’ve been feeling” (regarding Girl interrupted, everyday). People wonder how I can write about such personal stuff on such a public platform. But honestly, isn’t it what we’re all thinking or feeling? Don’t we all suffer from homesickness, heartbreak and fear? Haven’t we all, at some point or the other, been so crazy in love that we wanted to die in that person’s arms? I’m a writer—not just by profession but seriously, this is the only thing I can do, the only thing I’m vaguely good at. How can I not write about this stuff? If you enjoy reading my blog and feel a connect, then half my battle is won.

Barfi made me realise that no matter what the circumstances are in your life, it is possible to fall in love. No matter how many times your heart has been trampled on, you can still feel butterflies in your stomach. And that, although in the real world, you need communication, compatibility etc. etc., to sustain and maintain a healthy relationship, sometimes, honestly, at the risk of sounding extremely lame and filmy, all you need is love. I’m just a girl... standing in front of a boy... remember?

Watch Barfi. Really. Watch it.  

Friday, 7 September 2012

If only I could turn back time...

When you’re ardently and excitedly looking forward to an event, occasion or day, often when the day finally arrives, your expectations aren’t quite met. Sometimes, things fall short, something goes wrong, or it simply just doesn’t feel right. This is exactly what I did NOT experience in the month of August. My sister coming home after five years and our family reuniting at home was something I had been looking forward to for, well, five years. And every moment of it was blissful and even far exceeded my expectations.

We travelled, we ate, we shopped, we talked, we cried, we laughed this August. Eight flights in one month—though I’m tired of aircrafts, if I was asked to jump on a flight to be with my sister and family right now, I’d be on it in a Mumbai minute.

From Bombay to Calcutta to Bombay to Goa to Bombay to Calcutta to Chennai to Colombo to Kandy to Colombo to Bentota to Colombo to Chennai to Calcutta and back to Bombay. Phew. I took my sister eating and shopping in Bombay; we relaxed and strolled on the beach in Goa; we took in the sights and sounds of beautiful Sri Lanka, and we were home in Calcutta. Home. One of my biggest realisations this month was that blood is indeed thicker than water. People may promise to always be by your side, but after these people are long gone, it is only your family (and a few friends who are family) who will stick around, no matter how turbulent or dysfunctional familial relationships may be.

Sri Lanka is a wonderfully gorgeous country – a must-visit for all. You will be impressed before you even touchdown at Colombo. The people are warm and friendly, the streets (and bathrooms) are clean and spotless, and there’s much to see and experience. Our stays both in Kandy, the hill station and Bentota, the beach destination, were luxurious, informative, exciting and super fun.

It’s not that the month of August was completely blemish-free. There was a downer, but perhaps the blow was softened because I was around the people who loved me unconditionally. I met some interesting people, too – inspirational even. I also came back with a fuller wardrobe of clothes and shoes.

Back in Bombay for a week and the depression hasn’t quite lifted. I keep thinking, if only I could turn back time, ten days ago, this time I was with...

All your life, you expect it to take a certain direction, and you make choices that will push it further in that direction. And then, most often, life will take a complete detour, with you realising only too late, and then you wonder, where the hell am I? Something like that, this feeling.

There were certain things I wanted, I thought would happen—I thought I’d be happy. But life has its own way of showing you who’s in control. Yes, point taken. The mind understands and is willing to concede, but yaar, iss kambakht dil ka kya kare? All the heart wants to do is, what if...