Monday, March 28, 2011

Sleeplessly speaking

Sleep deprivation. It’s that weird condition that a lot of people seem to suffer from these days. It’s a sort of limbo that you’re stuck in, a state of being where it seems like you’ve slept, but you haven’t actually. You go through every day, seemingly bright-eyed, but you’re not actually. You are seemingly wide awake, but some dark corner of your mind has shut down and refuses to reboot because you’re too much of a bitch to fall asleep and let your brain recharge for a blessed few hours.

Bothersome to say the very least of what it is.

But how does this condition arise? According to poets, especially the ones that write lyrics for film, this non-sleep that I am in probably indicates that I am in love with someone. No one, except a paramour, is capable of giving someone sleepless nights. Since that is not the case with this particular blogger, I need to find an explanation that is seemingly romantic and also practical.

Imagine when you think you’re tired after a long day and you turn the lights off in your room and close your eyes and hope that in a few minutes you will drift off. A few moments later, you’re staring at the ceiling, at a fan that seems to have decided to run at a ridiculously slow speed now that summer’s approaching, wondering why the hell you’re not drifting.

All too suddenly, you’re acutely aware of the pillows that your head is resting on and you know that you’re in a lot of pain and that your neck is stiff. As you shift trying to find a more comfortable angle to sleep in, you wonder if all those grandmother’s remedies are any good. So on one day, you try warm milk. Another day, you count sheep. On the third day, you give up completely and play those almost drone-making games on your phone hoping that the monotony of hitting the keys 2,4,6 and 8 while watching musical notes fall in line will magically make you sleep. On the fourth day, you just stare at the ceiling indefinitely, close your eyes and pretend sleep. On the fifth day, you’re bitching to everyone and your so-called flirty texts are reading like lectures. On day six, you hope that you can inhale mentholated balms and sleep. On day seven, you’ve become so used to not sleeping that you fight to stay awake.

At this stage in the insomnia process, you’re too sleep deprived. You’re thinking of probably finding a behind-the-cupboard friend to indulge in some behind-the-cupboard-ness just so you’ll enhaust yourself and get a few hours of sleep. Somehow that behind-the-cupboard friend is no longer an appealing option to you.

You’re considering medication, but you don’t want to depend on drugs. You’re trying to adapt a more holistic mentality, in the hope that a more open-minded you will be receptive to grandmother’s remedies.

Nothing seems to be working at all.

This is the point you realize that perhaps, stressing about your insomnia is probably making you sleepless and hence, you need to stop thinking about insomnia as a problem and embrace it, maybe when you start dreaming about not sleeping, you’ll know that you are, finally, asleep.


Advertising

Before I get to what I want to post about, here's a blog/project that a very good friend of mine has started.

I'm excited about this because the Thirukkural is something that I have always been interested in learning. It will be a great experience for me, personally.

I want people to read this blog because of the way an ancient and relevant text has been presented in a way all of us, irrespective of language/nationality/educational background can relate to.

We are much the wiser for knowing what Thiruvalluvar had to say so many centuries ago. This blog reaches out to the secret Tamizh ponnu that I actually am after four generations of life here.

Please do read. Please follow and I hope you can take something very interesting back from it.

Sh

Friday, March 25, 2011

Friday headlines!

Hi,

  • Have you read this? What do you think? I think it’s ridiculous! Only because mice, who incidentally have 99% genetic commonality with humans, are being subjected to this nonsense. Poor mice. The ones I’ve encountered were in Dharamshala and they were grey and had tiny pink ears and walked in a line across the fireplace. I cannot imagine those tiny things being injected with neurotransmitters and whatnot!

  • In other news – I’m reading The Lotus Eaters by Tatjana Soli. So far, so interesting. It’s a very well-written book, my only concern is that there are too many intertwining narratives happening and it could get confusing. I’m hoping it won’t.

  • Now India went and set up a semi-final match in the cricket World Cup and that too with Pakistan. I want to roll over and die at this unfortunate turn of events. Cricket elicits high levels of lunacy in this country. I don’t see anything interesting about the game, except maybe the 20/20 format. It takes too long for a one-day match to get done and as for test matches, the lesser said the better! Too many people have too many opinions about how and why this game should be played. My Facebook news feed is being spammed by my entire friend list and their cousins throwing in a good word about the matches. I can’t deal with it.

  • A nineteen-year-old intern from my former work place insists that I am a maami and that I should get married NOW. Apart from telling him about the fact that calling a malayali a maami constitutes a misnomer, I don’t know how else to respond to this redundant topic of discussion. I’m done with my lifetime’s quota of clowns and I don’t think I need to get into a long-winded discussion with some child about marriage.

  • Which leads me to this point: Teenagers in 2011 seem to think they’re really evolved and mature thanks to all the time they've spent in the virtual world. I wish someone would tell them to go and look up the meaning of the word virtual. Their sense of reality is a little skewed. If it were up to me, I’d throw them all in offices that have no internet access and that pay you nonsense salaries and force you to have interactions with human beings from all backgrounds. The same people also have this habit of spelling “lose” as “loose”. It pisses me off!

  • At KeralaMatrimony.com, someone is looking for a “girl with good humour sence”. I was appalled. I told my parents, considering my MA in English, the least that they can do for me is find someone who is comfortable enough with the language to be grammatically and spellingally correct! It hurts my feelings when I’m asked to ignore bad articulators of the English language because “the horoscopes match”. Tiresome.

  • Are you ever tired of reading the news? I sometimes am. Especially Indian news these days. The opposition supposedly engineered a deal with the sitting government. Then they accused the sitting government of being corrupt bastards. When the truth came out about the opposition being the actual reason behind the sitting government looking like losers, everyone lost their temper and started yelling! Yeah, somehow when you’re guilty yelling is going to make you look innocent. Like I told my friend, politics these days is entertainment. Governance has become a distant dream!

On that happy note, this blog post is now concluded.

Kthxbai.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Indignation

I love how me and everyone else get righteously indignant about the news and what ought to get showcased in the media today. Everyone is pissed off at sensationalism and headlines that scream hyperbole. Everyone is so concerned that the media is not acting as a transparent and ethical enterprise because they let big companies advertise.

I have a request for all the righteously indignant people, please come and run a news publication. Honestly. I’ve been in the industry for two years, and I know a little better than you sitting at home and reading the paper every morning and getting upset about the paper having whored available space to the corporates. If you hate the corporates so fucking much, don’t buy the fancy cars or sign up for the fancy insurance policies or buy the fancy clothes or buy the fancy food products. Self-sustain. That way you can wag your indignant little fingers at the machine and the media without some little cog like me telling you off.

The Amish have a better chance than you do at making a relevant point about the state of the world today. They are not on fancy websites, succumbing to the pressure that pop culture puts on you to be cool. The Amish, now they can be righteously indignant. The rest of us? Who are, in some way or form, dependent on corporate entities, ought to stuff it and sit in a corner.

For as long as big advertisements are paying the salaries, (you know how money will pay for three meals a day and other things to keep you alive, right?), journalists will bow to a corporate whim or two. The Eagles’ fantasy of love keeping us alive is rubbish. People don’t live on love and fresh air, if they did, starving farmers wouldn’t commit suicide.

Philosophy and righteous indignation is for the rich person who doesn’t have to worry about anything. The middle-class, the regular, everyday average person? They just have to deal with nonsense and get on with living a life under the radar. Reality doesn’t support fantasy. If it did, we’d be living in a perfect world. Everyone can’t be rich and content with life. The chi of the universe will unravel if that ever happened. For someone to be rich, someone has to be poor. For someone to be happy, someone has to be sad.

That’s just how it goes. For every righteous journo/news publication there has to be a sellout media organization. If you don’t appreciate it, spend your time and money following “authentic and genuine public interest journalism”. When you get sick of those people telling you that everything, including you, is a shit pit unlike any other, you’ll buy that glossy magazine that sells you an experience that gives you, if nothing else, a few moments of escapism!

The man is bigger than all of us put together. You can’t escape him. Do yourself a favour and succumb. You’ll find that happily ever after is not hyperbole.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Crisis Management

1. Are you the person people call when they are in crisis?

2. Do you like being the person people call?

3. If yes, then are you the type that gets over-involved in someone else’s situation?

4. Do you give them advice in the hope that you will be the one that solves their problems?

5. Does it piss you off that they take so much of your time but don’t listen when you’re talking?

Here are my answers:

1. Sometimes

2. Yes

3. Yes

4. Yes

5. Yes

Now that we’ve established that I’m a wannabe shrink. I need to tell you that since November 2004, ever since my best friend from college committed suicide, I’ve been taking crisis calls less seriously than I did when SB was alive.

For SB, S and I were people she’d come to when she was in misery, and she was constantly miserable. S and I would try our best to talk her out of it, but with some people, misery, like drugs, is an addiction that they can’t control. Despite spending hours telling her to walk out of a situation that was never going to get better, SB lived in the hope that her fairy godmother would rescue her from the shithouse that her life had become. Her fairy godmother never came along.

Maybe she was meant to live only for a stipulated time on this planet to show people like me the meaning of friendship, laughter and joy. Maybe that was her role. She was the quintessential clown with the sad face and happy demeanour. Since her death, we’ve moved on and we’ve wished for her to be around every time we get together as a group.

I don’t want to talk about SB here today. I want to talk about being the go-to person during someone else’s crisis.

In the recent past, I was introduced to a girl who wanted to do her masters at the same place that I went to in 2004-2005. She would call me and have long conversations about going to study there, etc. However, she was also the person who needed to call 10 times if you didn’t pick up the first time around! That was irritating and it was a habit that she never really got rid of. Thing is, we have common friends, so the conversations also got personal after a point.

What I didn’t realize is that this person has a small problem, addiction to misery. In the years that I’ve known her, she’s never been someone who has once told me that she’s happy where she is. She’s chasing a dream and I’m not sure if anything is ever going to be good enough for her. I told her as much.

The thing is, after these long-drawn conversations with troubled souls, I feel like something is slowly and surely picking my sanity and messing it up. I don’t enjoy the sense of trauma I feel when I’m done steering a person through a problem. In my case, someone else’s problem is also about me! After all, this person made the effort to call me and gave me the credibility and intelligence to sort them out, so I will make this about me! Sorry, it seems to me like the only person who has her shit together in this situation is me, not you.

My point is, everyone has a rant, or five million, about how things are in the world today. However, that doesn’t mean that we take each problem so personally and go about having a stressathon about it. We don’t deem the rest of the world to be a pile of nonsense because it doesn’t meet our lofty ideals of what it should be and what it ought to be.

This girl has been crying to me about how there are too many things in her life that are out of her comfort zone. She cannot cope with stuff that she has decided she cannot handle. What does that even mean? If some of us can pass math, even though we were never any good at it and even though we didn’t have the option of taking another subject, then getting on with life is something we can attempt to manage, no?

I know, I know. Life and math are two completely different things, but I still don’t get it. Why is it so difficult to make a compromise once in a while about some minor thing and get on with it? You don’t compromise, you don’t try, you sit and whine about how some people are not as intellectual as you and hence, the fact that they get any attention at all is beyond your scope of comprehension. There could be two things going on here – you’re the true avatar of awesome or you’re delusional.

Another factor is, well, envy. This petty and unsaid jealousy that one has over someone else’s prettiness, someone else’s so-called perfect life, someone else’s amazing relationship with their sibling/parents/family, someone else’s ability to be honest enough to be themselves. Aspirations are great as long as the efforts you make to reach your goals are sincere; they’re not fun if you’re doing it to look like a version of something you envy. Chances are, when you get to where you want to be, you’ll be envious of something else.

People like this person I’ve discussed are never going to be happy. No matter how much “tough love” you serve up, there will always be something missing.

To be honest, I don’t see how an employer asking you to use your mind and think is a variable you are not comfortable with. I don’t see it.

I like this girl. She’s a lot of fun when she’s not worrying herself towards a breakdown. But when everything is overanalyzed to the level of minutiae that you cannot even imagine, it gets uncomfortable to have a simple conversation with people. I cannot deal with angst. I simply cannot. I used to love the thrill of being the caring and sensible friend that everyone loved to listen to. I don’t enjoy it any more. And it isn’t because people won’t listen to every word I say and take my advice, it’s because I don’t like watching intelligent people destroying themselves over something silly. If you’re intelligent, you should have the brains and common sense to be able to figure it out, right?

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Politics, yeah politics

One of the hottest debates in Chennai at the moment is – who to vote for? Thanks to enough and more campaigns about voting and so on, people are becoming a little more conscious of using their rights. I mean, if you don’t vote, you lose the right to be righteously indignant about corruption and corrupt politicians! It’s that simple. No vote means no voice.

In Tamil Nadu, the electoral system is really twisted. People here will vote for you if you give them Biryani! I’m not kidding.

However, the country has been unraveling under the weight of scams that began with the Commonwealth Games and continued with the spectrum allocation. All you need to do is Google Suresh Kalmadi and A Raja and you’ll know what I’m talking about.

The money that these people have cost the exchequer and the humiliation that they have caused to the country, is profound. I don’t want to sound like a commentator, but the truth is, I stopped researching this stuff the second it went viral. Everyone is talking about it and suddenly people seem to have woken up to the fact that the scale of corruption in India as showcased in the movies is not exaggerated. In fact, the movies don’t exaggerate enough!

The proverbial shit has hit the proverbial fan and we’re all smelling.

There is an election around the corner and people need to vote. They’re confused. At one point earlier on this year, I was contemplating not voting at all! I mean who do I vote for? A party that is building the metro, ensuring that BMW and Hyundai and Ford all have factories here all while amassing an insane amount of wealth or a party that has a leader who is disgruntled and will probably spend her term arresting and silencing the people who pissed her off when she was not in power?

Politics in India is a joke. There is not one single leader who thinks with a semblance of common sense. They speak against the ruling government and gather listeners and promise them what the ruling government denied them and come to power. Once they’ve been elected, they all have selective amnesia and bi-polar disorder and other mental illnesses and forget completely that they made promises.

In the meantime, folks like me go and vote and get nothing out of it except fantastic news to read on a regular basis.

I could go on. The only thing I do know is that I’ve changed my mind about whether to vote or not. I will vote. No vote, no voice!

After I vote, I have every intention of bitching about the politicians that piss me off! Thankfully, India hasn’t got to the level of having an Adjustment Bureau just yet. Maybe we do, I’ll never know until I veer off plan, right?

Friday, March 18, 2011

Stories we tell

Here is the meaning of the word gossip. I am referring to the act rather than the person. Today, it is the act that is pushing me to post this. Being born into my family means that I have inherited an intense love for talking non-stop. We’re all unstoppable when it comes to talking. How we have a meaningful and purpose-ridden conversation is beyond me on certain occasions; and yet, somehow, we manage.

But within family to talk about each other and others is justified in some sense. I don’t see why my mother will go to town about what I told her. The only other people she gossips with are her two sisters. Who, in turn, will gossip exclusively with their older sister. Ever since my uncle came back from Saudi Arabia in 2007, he’s been inducted back into the group! When my grandfather was alive he was the nucleus of this circle, sitting on his chair in the room laugh-coughing and adding his own two-bit worth of stinging sarcasm. After he passed away, my brother and I were inducted. Hopefully, if we last as a family, my children will enjoy the nonsense that comes with being related to us.

With friends, however, it’s a different story. I have an inherent paranoia about people. I know that I over-share on plenty of occasions, but I don’t trust people to treat personal information as sacrosanct. If you’re a friend, I will take the liberty of not filtering what I’m saying. Doing that only means one thing; I expect the same level of openness from you.

People talk. There’s nothing anyone can do about that. We love talking ¬– talking about other people, talking to other people, talking to complete strangers about everyone we know. This talking is how I met someone I know. To make my life even more wonderful, this person showed up at a time when my friend was going through a major crisis. So we bonded over this crisis and became friends, etc.

However, the next thing I know, he became some form of BFF. Calling, chatting, texting on a constant almost clingy boyfriend-ish level! Following which, he became BFFs with my friends. It was such a bizarre cycle. To say that it happened when we were unconscious and drugged would be denying the role all of us had in developing a relationship with him. At one point, I thought I had met someone who was going to be a friend for life. We talked a lot and he was there at a time when I needed someone who would just listen and not judge. However, things did go wrong. I need to figure out if I’m the villain or if he’s actually a burgeoning nut job!

With time, something about the “friendship” got a little unhealthy. I began to draw away from it. He comes up with – “I understand baby, you need your space. I understand you very well.” The hugging lasted a second longer than it should have. (I’m a hugger and it bothers me when hugs are treated with disrespect!) It was getting a bit much. This invasion then expanded into my group of friends. The problem is, he was there on most occasions on invitation and when he is in the room it’s impossible to make movie plans without including him. We’ve also taken him up on his invitation and hung out at his place when the bars and nightclubs have shut down.

Yeah, we were at fault big time.

The most painful process is putting a distance between you and someone who thinks you have a very close and profound relationship/friendship. I find myself at my most rude in such occasions. I’ve lost count of how many people I’ve offended because of my rudeness. However, my behavior has ensured that I am not surrounded by people who make me uncomfortable. It works out for me.

This tale gets even more sordid! The boy, lets call him U, offered to give me a writing gig at his work place. I was more than happy to consider it because it meant not being unemployed. U went and assumed that coming into his office meant express assent at working in his office full-time and after a meeting I was inducted into his organization without any recorded proof.

After this happened and a few other similar this’s happened, I was left with no other option but to deny all offers of employment from said U! I sent an email to the boss and said I won’t be able to take them up on the offer. U imagined that I had offended his sensibilities in some way or form and kept calling me. My not answering the phone meant him calling my friend and whining about my being unreachable. When I called them back his boss greets me with a – “Shruthi, we thought something bad happened.”

This was around the time I had an offer from another newspaper and I told U’s boss that I wouldn’t be able to help her out. I would try, but I was not making any promises.

After rejecting a few offers, something else came up. I emailed U’s boss and said, I’m working elsewhere, please don’t mind.

Of course, responding to emails is an alien practice in some cultures, so I have not heard from boss lady. Frankly speaking, I couldn’t care less at the moment. I know I’ve offended the hell out of some people, but I don’t have to run around rescuing people’s feelings for anything. U is crying foul about the fact that I had the gall to work in a so-called rival establishment. He is telling people I don’t talk to him and so on. Despite people telling him to take the hint, he pretends obliviousness.

Apparently it’s easier for him to whine about me than to actually call me a bitch to my face. This situation begs the perpetual question – why am I acquainted with these people again?

I don’t care any longer. I have a job that I’m excited about. I’m waiting for the excitement of a launch and regular work to kick in. So, I’m wishing that drama will leave me alone for a few minutes so I can put my feet up, but I need to remember that I have walked into many a shit pit of my own accord. And this time, I intend to disinfect myself good and proper. It’s okay if I suffer a few second-degree burns in the process!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Updates

This proclivity towards laziness that I have is going to one day manifest itself as a killer abcess. I’m sure of it!

In more relevant news, I am not employed. I’m working at a Chennai magazinw – Taxi – as its editor. It’s very random for me to go from correspondent to editor without making a profound stop at the “senior journalist” stop! However, I think 26 is a good age to mess around with importance and so on. I think so at least.

After three months of steadily shuttling in and out of Chennai, my travelling stopped as of February 20. I must say that it was a very bizarre thing to be living at home in between trips. They were not as frequent as some of the travels undertaken by some traveling businessmen of my acquaintance, but that’s work.

This state hopping has brought one thing to the fore, I love my people not the place they inhabit.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Advertising

So, I found this new blog online. And I think everyone should participate. It's called Loser in my Inbox. Basically a travails of women who get stalked on FB/other social forums.

That's all. I won't say more. Go there, read, and figure it out.

Sh

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Attukal in photos

So this is Attukal, through the lens of my camera. No candid moments. As of the morning of the Pongala, I hadn't slept for two days, on the trot. There was honestly no mood to change the settings of my camera to anything more than "auto". Apologies!

That's my mother. At 6am-ish. We were standing in line to grate the coconuts for our payasam.

From L-R - my mum's first sister, my mum's sister #2 who flew in from Singapore and my uncle's sister-in-law! Yeah, complicated family structures. Long story behind this picture. The ladies in cream used up all the jaggery from our bags to make this appam. When we had to make our payasam, we had to find more jaggery! bah!

The pots lined up for the Pongala later on. The fire in the temple was lit at 10.45am.

The pot, decorated and ready to be Pongala-d.

The fire for the pots from the temple.

All pongified! :D . The pots from L-R - my Singapore aunts', mine and my mother's.

After this, it was only adding the jaggery, which we discovered was stolen, and coconut and cooking it with ghee and dry fruit. Mine turned out a little burned, my aunt's and mother's was just fine.

There's Attukal. After this its a lot of candid photos of us eating slices of watermelon, drinking lime juice and my cousin insisting on not photographing our faces but our big fat bums! :P

One more before I sign off. See, I had to take this one. It's just something that I do.