Sunday, August 3, 2008

Of Friends and Friendship Day...

Estella's back to muse and ponder awhile. And today- the first Sunday of August- "Friendship Day"- seems like a good choice of day to do just that. For Estella is at one of those points in life when she has to say "goodbye" to a regular set of friends, and perhaps move on to a new set. So this may be the right sort of time to look back and think of what friends and Friendship Day have meant over the years...

School was those glory days when every new class meant a new set of friends.... Friends you make one year, and forget about the year next... And every year those scores of embroidery threads that one wound into delicate, colourful braids.. or knotted into patterned bands, to make one of those countless "Friendship Bands" to tie your friend into an eternal bond of friendship with.

Things got a little complicated when the card companies decided to jump into the scene and make the nation "celebrate" Friendship Day with pomp and gusto. Thus, those simple, hand-made bands of thread gradually got replaced by stuff which became more gaudy and showy and appropriately expensive. Friendship began to be measured by the amount one spent on the band. And the card, and the gift. This kind of materialistic "friendship" usually reaches it's peak in those adolescent years, when life is lived out at a level of intensity absent from any other stage in life. ("Hormones", the expert would say.) And thus one loves and hates impulsively, intensely, and briefly. Friendships are formed at the drop of a hat (or perhaps the tying of a band), and are lost equally quickly.

Yet ironically, these teenage years are sometimes those years when one finds the true friends... friends who love you as you are, friends you grow with, friends who matter even when you are at your very worst. And even as you begin to cement these bonds into permanence, it's time to leave school and head towards different cities, different colleges, different lives. The friendships that matter are put to the real test- will they last, in spite of the distance and the differences? This age of enhanced communication makes things a lot easier, but then "distance" is often felt in terms of emotions, and not in physical terms. One often "grows out" of school friendships.

College brings to us a new-found maturity, new-found freedom, and new friends. Somehow or the other, three (or four or five) years at college often produce more lasting friends than do fifteen years at school. Are we more careful about the friends we choose? In college "Friendship Day" ceases to matter.. it's just another day at class, just another day to spend with friends. No more cards, no more gifts... yet so much more of friendship.

Sometimes friends can be found beyond the common spaces of college and school. People you may have known from different stages of life, and with whom you have managed to re-connect. Sometimes these connections are so full of the true meaning of friendship, full of love, trust, mutual respect, and a genuine sense of "getting along". With these friends we chatter day and night, before "Friendship Day" and beyond, yet we may never have wished them a "happy friendship day".. simply because there is no need to.

Which brings me back to wonder what "Friendship Day" means, if it does mean anything at all. It is certainly not necessary to call and wish all your friends on Friendship Day. This Day gradually ceases to matter, even as we grow older, while the friends- the genuine, close ones- matter more and more every day.

Yet, during those insane, carefree and impulsive days of adolescence, the Day matters as much, if not more, than the friends. So many days of frenetic preparations, so much effort to braid thread into bands, to decorate cards.. all for friends who you grow out of, someday, sometime. But we need this Day. As an important Day to celebrate every year of teenage, to give and receive those precious little souvenirs, to grow out of- one fine day, and to look back upon with fond reminiscence when it does indeed cease to matter. And when you do look back, when you do hold those old thread-bands, frayed around the edges, dust-worn, you remember those people who gave them to you.

And sometimes, perhaps, you do pick up your phone to text them a "Happy Friendship Day".

Saturday, April 12, 2008


Are you not weary of ardent ways,
Lure of the fallen seraphim?
Tell no more of enchanted days.
Your eyes have set man's heart ablaze
And you have had your will of him.
Are you not weary of ardent ways?
Above the flame the smoke of praise
Goes up from ocean rim to rim.
Tell no more of enchanted days.
Our broken cries and mournful lays
Rise in one eucharistic hymn.
Are you not weary of ardent ways?
While sacrificing hands upraise
The chalice flowing to the brim.
Tell no more of enchanted days.
And still you hold our longing gaze
With languourous look and lavish limb!
Are you not weary of ardent ways?
Tell no more of enchanted days.
- by Stephen Dedalus in
A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
by James Joyce

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

A poem that I love..

Sois sage, ô ma Douleur, et tiens-toi plus tranquille.

Tu réclamais le Soir; il descend; le voici:

Une atmosphère obscure enveloppe la ville,

Aux uns portant la paix, aux autres le souci.

Pendant que des mortels la multitude vile,

Sous le fouet du Plaisir, ce bourreau sans merci,

Va cueillir des remords dans la fête servile,

Ma Douleur, donne-moi la main; viens par ici,

Loin d'eux. Vois se pencher les défuntes Années,

Sur les balcons du ciel, en robes surannées;

Surgir du fond des eaux le Regret souriant;

Le soleil moribond s'endormir sous une arche,

Et, comme un long linceul traînant à l'Orient,

Entends, ma chère, entends la douce Nuit qui marche.

— Charles Baudelaire

Prose Translation by Francis Scarfe :


Have patience, O my sorrow, and be still. You longed for evening, and look, it is falling now. A dusky atmosphere enfolds the city, to some men bringing peace, to others care. While the base herd of mortals, beneath the lash of pleasure, that pitiless torturer, sets out to reap remorse in slavish entertainment, my sorrow, give me your hand, come this way, far from them.

See where the bygone years are leaning from the balconies of heaven, in their faded robes of yesteryear; where Regret, with a smile on her lips, rises from the fountain's depths; where the dying sun falls asleep beneath an arch; and, like a long shroud drifting from the East, listen, my darling, O listen to the gentle night's approach.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Well, the little black thing on your right is called Maukie. I chanced upon her on a random blog, and I absolutely had to have her here. This little thing meows and purrs plaintively when you roll the mouse (!) over her. She reminds me so much of my baby Mew.

Love having you, little Maukie.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Of all the bizarre things, I've suddenly decided to 'come out' with this blog of mine. Perhaps it had to do with the fact that I have suddenly started seriously blogging. Therapy is sweet. Not only does she grant that I can be called a writer, she has also linked me to her blog (which is infinitely superior to mine, and must be read by all who care to visit this page). Which means that my blog gets to be read by people I don't know, and hence I get comments that are clear and unbiased. Which means that there is an added interest for me in my own blog. Which in turn will make me write some more.

Thanks, Therapy. You're a peach, as usual.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Grrr... II

Another thing that completely Pisses. Me. Off. is this attitude that I get from most male shopkeepers in and about town. It is this attitude of me being the helpless damsel-in-distress who simply cannot do without their over-helpfulness (read : unsolicited interference). I mean, when I ask for a new copy of Huxley’s Brave New World, I’m asking for a new copy of Huxley’s Brave New World. I’m NOT asking for a ‘guide-book’. I’m NOT asking for Ramji Lall’s weird interpretations. I’m NOT asking for ‘helpful’ notes. Finally, I’m NOT asking the man behind the counter what he thinks is the best and cheapest copy. I understand that he’s trying to be helpful. I understand that this is what most girls (in CU, at least) choose to buy.

But why don’t these same shopkeepers show off this same helpfulness when the boys buy their stuff? That is because they are “men”, and why would “men” need help at all? They obviously know what they need, don’t they? And one must get them what they want. But women... oh, they don’t know what they want. When they want to buy a book, they obviously need a guide book, or a Ramji Lall at least, else how else will they write their exam? And HOW will they pass? No, no, we must help them out. We are their knights in shining armour.

PS—The best thing is to play the damsel in distress, however annoying it may be to some of us. ‘Tis the easiest way to get maximum help out of random strangers. To ask them in the guise of an intelligent, educated woman is to get gruff, minimal replies which are usually of little use. Play damsel in extreme distress, and people may actually go all of the way if you simply ask them on which street your destination is. The more the “distress”, the better it is. Of course, your brain goes “Grrr...” all the way.


When I say “Grrr..” I mean it. The other day, I had gone shopping for stuff in the New Market Area, so Ma called up and asked me to pick up some lingerie for her. OK, said I, I will. And so, the obedient daughter trooped in to one of the only shops in New Market which sells her brand of lingerie, and asked for the stuff. My mum being quite a few kilos heavier than I am, obviously wears a size larger than I do. And when I walk in to a shop and ask for a size which is oh-so-obviously not MINE, I do not expect the leery old man standing at the counter to actually look me up and down, and tell me, in the silkiest of tones, that he does not think that it would fit me.

I was speechless. In fact, I think I stood for some time without saying anything, while the man simply stood and smiled. Yes, smiled. And in a distinctly lecherous manner that left me feeling disgusted. What audacity!! What bloody nerve! After recovering my senses and my power of speech, I icily asked for the stuff again (pretending to ignore the looks, smiles and titters of the rest of the sales-men in the shop) and, having finally got it, left.

This is easily the most disgusting thing that happens to us women. Yes, we do get felt up in all modes of public transport (to be felt up in an auto is the worst of all). But to just stand there, and know for a fact that the middle-aged (or old) man is undressing you in his mind... never mind the fact that you may be dressed “modestly” in your regulation jeans-and-kurta... this absolutely takes the cake.

Required : Female staff at ALL shops selling items for women.

Sunday, January 27, 2008


The other day, a friend sent me a random message saying that he thinks I’m “mature for my age”.

It made me sit and think... something I have not done in a long while. I remembered those long discussions we used to have, sitting on the back-benches in Class XII-S, with the warm afternoon sunlight pouring in through those dirty, broken window panes... I remembered myself loudly asserting that maturity is “all about knowing who you are”, while DR insisted that it was the ability “to know who your friends are”, (and therefore, by implication, to know who your enemies are, as well). I remembered PN firmly declaring that it was “the capability to make your own decisions“, while SB thought that maturity was just a term employed by parents to make you feel guilty about doing things which you want to, but should not (her case : when she wanted to scribble on the walls of her house out of pure artistic impulse, and was flatly refused permission by the parents, who thought she should be “mature” enough to know what not to do at her age).

So what is “maturity’ all about?

The ordinary definition would be “to be adult”, to be-- to use a childish term-- “fully grown-up”. But like all abstract terms, there are no well-defined norms by which to state that “this is maturity” and “this is not”. For instance, a girl of 18 years is considered mature enough to marry... yet if the same girl is in a relationship with an older man, she is thought to be a child, and the man is often accused of being a “cradle snatcher”. And God forbid if the girl is 17 --only a year younger— the man may be branded a paedophile.
At home, if you are living with your parents, you are considered mature enough to do a lot of work, yet not mature enough to take any important decisions with regard to your parents, never mind that you are 35 years of age and earning really long as your parents are not dependent on you, you are not mature enough to run the house or take major decisions.

I believe maturity is an inherent quality that comes naturally with age. One need not legally be an adult to actually be one. Maturity is to know who you are. That will automatically make you aware of who your friends/foes are. Maturity is not only the ability to make your own choices and take your own decisions, but also to be able to live up to them, to be able to take the full responsibility of the consequences of your choices/decisions. Finally, maturity is an ability to look into yourself... to be able to analyze your merits and demerits, and to be able to accept yourself exactly as you are, without making excuses for your faults. “That’s backbone”, as Conrad would say. How many of us are well and truly “mature” , if maturity is to be defined in these terms? I cannot pretend to be one...

Friday, January 25, 2008

A Moment Of Bliss...

I just happened to watch Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Saawariya and was left feeling...well... cold. It is supposed to be based on Fyodor Dostoevsky’s “Sentimental Love Story” – White Nights. What a complete wreck Bhansali has made out of it... Does he not understand that not all stories can be stretched to epic proportions just to make a neat profit?

White Nights is a simple story. It is the tale of a loner -- a dreamer and a romantic—who finds love in a chance encounter with Nastenka, a simple little girl who is, in turn, waiting for her lover. They meet for four nights, against the backdrop of the ‘white nights’ of a St. Petersburg summer. The love lies in their connection, in their friendship, in their conversation, in the way they pour out their hearts to each other, though they are strangers to one another. Yet, when Nastenka’s lover returns, she leaves the nameless friend, and goes away with her lover. But there is no bitterness on the part of the nameless friend :

“ But that I should feel any resentment against you, Nastenka! That I should cast a dark shadow over your bright, serene happiness! (...) Oh no – never, never! May your sky be always clear, may your dear smile be always bright and happy, and may you forever be blessed for that moment of bliss and happiness which you gave to another lonely and grateful heart!

Good Lord, only a moment of bliss? Isn’t such a moment sufficient for the whole of man’s life? “

The dreamer’s hands rise up in benediction over Nastenka’s future, such is the effect of the moment(s) between them. It refreshes him, and gives him the strength to live his life all over again. Dostoevsky here explores fully man’s inherent loneliness, and his need for love, for human company...a fact that is especially relevant in the life of modern man. The need may be fulfilled only for moment, as in the case of the protagonist of White Nights. It is for him to savour the moment, make the most of it, make it last his life as the one moment that changed the way he looks at life forever...

One wonders whether something should be made out of that moment.. would a relationship really have the same quality of beauty and clarity that a moment of connection does? I suppose it cannot. And therefore, to try and convert a moment of love into a long-lasting relationship, or a long-lasting situation, is a futile effort. Over the years, the relationship changes, as do the people involved in it. Perhaps the relationship changes precisely because the persons do. And perhaps this is why White Nights ends as it does. Would the nameless protagonist choose to write about Nastenka if he did marry her? Her charms would have worn out for him after years of marriage and the daily business of living in the real world (which is notoriously not pretty, and lacks charm). Perhaps this is the same reason why Jesse and Celine (from the film Before Sunrise ) remember each other so well, and want to meet each other again- yet end up doing so ten years later (in the sequel, Before Sunset). Such magical connections of love are not meant to be confined within the defined norms of a long-lasting “relationship” – they rise above that, they go beyond, into a different realm where there are ideas but no illusions; where love is enhanced by lust, not diminished by it; where reality supersedes the best that imagination has to offer, yet is by no means unreal .

And perhaps it is the touch of the tragic, the sense that the moment is not to last, the ephemeral nature of the whole thing, that gives the moment its everlasting beauty. Proving yet again that man’s life is a complex pattern of paradoxes and ironies.. while it is defined by the eternal quest of man for that symbol of beauty, of grace and love ; that something that would give meaning to his entire existence...a Nastenka.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Random thoughts

Sometimes I walk through lanes and by-lanes, looking for something that is lost...
Sometimes I trudge through muddy roads while rusty tramcars trundle past...

Sometimes I feel tears trickling down a cheek...

Sometimes I am a ping-pong ball thrashed from this end to that...sometimes I am the table on which the game is played.

Sometimes I am the cushion she rests her foot on ; sometimes I am the heel of her shoe.

Sometimes I hurl a brick at the stillness of my reflection in a pool of clear water.

Sometimes I slash my wrists with the shards of broken dreams.

Sometimes I wander through the fish market, in search of silence. Sometimes I am a piece of dead flesh, on the butcher's table...while my blood is spattered on the white walls.

Sometimes I step in front of a speeding bus...and am pulled back by a passer-by..."Ey! Paagal hai kya ?!"

Sometimes I stand at cross-roads, holding on to a sign post for dear life.

Sometimes I just stand and watch the colours of the rainbow fade into grey clouds...

(written on the 6th of January, 00-30 hrs)