The Nomad Moves – Out, Away and On

There are 65 drafts in my Dashboard.

Words unwritten, thoughts incomplete, keys  untyped, blanks unfilled.

Blanks never to be filled.

Never mind.. Doesn’t matter anymore.

For I realize.. am realizing.. since this morning..

That this blog – born of impulse, has to die of impulse.

For I realize.. am realizing.. since the past week..

That this blog – created for no purpose, has served its purpose.

Conjecture Girl was born for want of anonymity.

She crawled around, picking words off the floor & putting them into her mouth in a flash.

She tottered around, holding on to walls of thoughts for support & flailing arms, grabbing ideas in the air.

She babbled, gurgled, found indulgent listeners, and chattered on, and on, and on.

She got  too busy growing up to be a Woman..

That she did not realize that her life’s mission had been realized.

She had gotten me to  taste my love for words.

She had gotten me to feel the flow of thoughts.

She had painted in front of my eyes, chaotically-expanding horizons.

She had slipped into me – the seed of love for thinking through words.

She had goaded me into growth – slyly fed me a bitter pill.

Her job done..

The nomad in her wants to move out..

The recluse in her wants to move away..

She and I – we want to move on..

May be to meet at times far off.. at places far off..

May be for good.

For now.. we part as friends, with the fondest of memories.

But before that, we get together one last time..

To thank you all – our precious, indulgent lovely readers..

To say good-bye – to the strange friendships we made with some of you..

To wish you all the most vibrant of luck – for we might never meet you again..

And smile one last time – at each other, at you.

One last hug.

Thanking you all,

Sincerely yours,

Moving Out, Away and On..

The Conjecture Girl

🙂

 

P.S : Leaving this unedited – lest, I change my mind. Please do excuse gaps in the thought & mistakes in the writing. One last bit of torture from me. 😀

Word Muse #7 – Far Off

For what are ‘Word Muses’ and the list till now, look here.

 
There sleeps the past..

    In some city too far off.

There peeps the future..

    In some other city too far off.

Here breathes the present..

    In this city too near, too here.

Too warm for touch,

    Too close for comfort.

Too real to be strange,

    Too unreal to belong.

 
So quick is the heart to flutter..

    Its lashed lids; its wispy wings.

Yet, sealing in dreams for new stars..

    Yet, reeling in flights to new neighbors.

For ever in denial; for ever on the run..

    Of that which settles; from that which attaches.
 
Waiting in patience,
    Braving the heat of the familiar.
    Craving the cold of the strange.

Waiting in hope,
    Yet another pasture dusty and fresh.
    Yet another start crusty and brash.

For the next home too far off..
    For the next people too close by.

Ever unsettled, ever flowing, ever fleeing, ever seeking..
The nomadic heart – the one that lives too far off, beats too far away.

Of Ideal Weeks and Ends

I have a book in my hand now (as usual), and it looks straight into my eyes and challenges me to let go of intelligence and inhibitions for a page (not very usual). It asks me to actually sit and describe my “ideal day – weekday or weekend” instead of just wishing for a vague one.

So, please close this window full of unedited rambling thoughts and go read something more sensible, intelligent and beautiful.

Doesn’t everyone wish that their ideal life is full of what they currently love to do, and whom they currently love? Careers, ambitions, family-plans, and far off old-age be damned?

No? Well, everyone should – ideally. I do!

My ideal day..

  • Doesn’t see an alarm clock. My over-excited brain wrestles me awake and sends me rolling to try something that it just came up with.
  • I wake up with zero pain, fully rested, eyes wide open,  in an addicted hurry to get back to the ‘high’ of my research project.
  • A bright plateful of something  smelling green, white and yellow, and a tall glassful of something cold and kicking appear magically at my desk. I sprout a third hand that feeds me and wipes my lips.
  • My desk stands up when I do, sits down where I do, and lies down by my side when I need it to.
  • A window streaming in the golden sun, the midnight moon, and the evening breeze to brighten and rustle up my desk.
  • A long wall of white-board – offering its servile back to me to scribble, scratch, and doodle on.
  • A.R.Rahman, Kannadasan, Rafi, and Sahir Ludhianvi croon into my ears, and only my ears.
  • Nobody around to be weirded out by my whistling, and humming, and carrying on colorful conversations with the whiteboard and monitor.
  • I drown hunger, pain, and myself in  a challenging problem.
  • One of those evil people who love me come checking whether I am alive, and drag me back to the ‘real world’ – and I cry, kick, resist, sulk, crib and tantrum as much as I can before being disowned.
  • A slow, elaborate meal that lets me get a satisfying bite of that book from last night.
  • An hour of brainstorming over some ‘exciting’ research problem with the mentor to watch his eyes twinkle; and an extra half hour for ‘coffee’ aka discussing the most random of topics, arguing over the most absurd bits of ‘wisdom gleaned from experience’, and  laughing for reasons that tend to appear out of nowhere.
  • Watching someone express something that strikes a bell in the head – DING!
  • 10 minutes of nonsensical  leg-pulling and grinning with one of the best friends.
  • An intimate walk with the moon, and one welcoming the sun – with either a book, or a thought  for silent company.
  • 5 minutes by a lake, river or ocean – watching waves, ripples, and swooping pigeons.
  • 30 minutes of reading about something or some place or some one totally random – Information-porn and Travel-porn – till guilt of procrastination clicks the close button.
  • Watching people retreat to their beds, the night go by, birds chanting early morning mantras, and people waking up to their days one after another.
  • 10 minutes of letting some words run zig-zag in my head until they settle down, from sheer exhaustion,  into a thought.
  • Having most of the above points shake themselves up and settle in different orders.
  • Reading a book as if finishing that chapter NOW is the only way of preventing the apocalypse scheduled for dawn.
  • Falling asleep – very quickly – with an open book in hand, and an incomplete thought in head.

With a week swaying and flowing thus, let there be no ends. Who wants the week to end when one laughs, sleeps and wonders through it like a toddler?

But yeah.. let there be flash floods disrupting the week’s calm flow – unplanned, unannounced, vanishing as fast as they come.

Flashes of spontaneous brilliance – of a sudden outing to history, a splash of photography, a burst of close-to-the-heart writing.

Yeah.. those days of the weeks, and their bookish sleepy ends – ideal enough for now.

You Are What You Read!

Aren’t you?
The books you read define you – more than even the friends you keep.
If you don’t read anything, you are.. Times of India.. probably.. or an FB post.. or “23 people like this”. No offence.

Let us consider the typical Indian bookworm. Aka, me. [Shoo.. I AM average. Very!]

Based on what I read, I am a feminist, gender queer, travel freak, Mahabharata worshiping, serious writer, with an interest in online dating. Three of which, I am not – but nurture an unhealthy curiosity about.

So, the topics I read about are me and my quirks.

What does the language I read tell you about me? That I am an average urban Indian kid who is more comfortable with English than her native tongue? That I probably switch to English when I am very angry? Bingo!

What of my world-view? Is it Indian? Asian? Of a sheltered urban female in a developing nation?

I’m afraid not. It is distinctly American. Sometimes British. With a sprinkling of Indian. For, that is the composition of my book shelf. And that very worldview is gratingly incoherent with my reality. My Indian experiences of real life sit hidden in nooks and corners, quite scared to peep out and make a point.

(An accurate reflection of the politics of the past few decades, isn’t that? Go debate on that over coffee, and sound all intellectual. You are welcome.)

Rights and wrongs are universal. Contexts are not.

Emotions and reactions are universal. Experiences are not.

Some issues are universal, some struggles are universal. Some are not. Not at the same point on the timeline.

While I appreciate the day-to-day issues American feminists are struggling with, I am more interested in the issues around me. The attitudes I face. And I am yet to come across readable, non-gobbledygook academic books on feminism by an Indian in India. (Have read Nivedita Menon’s Seeing Like a Feminist – did not cut it for me.)

I ache to read about passionate travel stories across India. Especially by women. But the best I found was the delightful Monisha Rajesh going Around India in 80 Trains, and she was brought up in the UK. Doesn’t anyone in India go obscure-place hopping across India, and write more than blog posts about it? Come on, folks!

I want to be held by my hand and taken around to a sensitive view of the obscure parts of my society. Mayank Soofi Austen did that once saying Nobody Can Love You More : Life in Delhi’s Red Light District. My hand hangs unheld now.

Of course, I treasure my favorites specializing on the Indian-ness of India of the myths – Devdutt Pattanaik and others. But I am not in myth-land now, am I?

Most other ‘Indian’ writing seems to borrow heavily from the baseline experiences and arguments of an American – particularly of Gloria Steinem’s age. After all, the writers themselves have grown up listening to the foreign voice, whether it be opinions or music.

Just where are the Indian voices that go beyond telling you light-hearted stories on railway station platforms, for 120Rs.?

I am probably looking at my own country from the point of view of an American-desi, if not an American! [freaks out]

Something is grossly messed up with my understanding and expectations of the world around me, then? Almost as if all the voices I hear, including my own, aren’t “mine”. Schizophrenic, am I? Watching a bollywood movie with hollywood dubbing?

 

Desperately hoping that I have simply missed the Indian voice,

A bookworm who has and hears a confused voice.

P.S. Do let me know of good Indian ‘voices’ I might have missed. Please.

P.P.S. If you can’t find anything, please go and write a handful of books. Pretty please. Quick.

A Book-snob’s Book Self

“You read a LOTTTT of books!”, I got told today.
I wanted to grin an aristocratic grin (does aristocracy grin?) and say “I do, don’t I?” in as smug, pompous and show-off a tone as possible. But, not wanting to make my dear friend curse himself and bang his head on his keyboard as punishment for trying to start a normal human conversation with me, I let him off with something inanely polite. I’m a sweet angelic person, that way. B-)

But such angelic behavior shouldn’t be expected every time. For the reaction can’t be helped, you see. Books instil in one a kind of aristocratic snobbery and a basket full of prejudices that seem perfectly reasonable, you see. Us book-lovers are simply being polite when we express our feelings for books in dreamy, romantic ways (such as these – My Many Lovers and My Case for E-books), you see. All the while, we keep our true selves, our snobby book-selves, from the unsuspecting and fragile, you see.
What? You don’t see? Ah, you simpleton!
Come, let me enlighten you. [Puts her hand around your shoulder, and starts walking you like a pup.]

Every book-lover .aka. book-addict .aka. book-snob has a few traits that he or she might keep under covers in a bid to come across as a normal and reasonable human being. Learn these traits – will help you stay safe, or escape if face-to-face with danger..

  1. Every book-snob wants a library of her own. With shelves ceiling to floor, wall to wall, door to door. The better-off books occupying first class seats (front row), the poorer books occupying second class seats (back row), and the miscellaneous ones on unreserved tickets clinging on for dear life wherever they find stepping space. Book-spine fetish. The only book-snob who doesn’t want this is the one who has a right hand that hurts to hold a book for long and hence is on a strict diet of ebooks. Don’t get her started about this – unless you have insomnia and are desperate to fall asleep.
  2. All book-snobs nurture a secret seated-deep-in-subconscious ambition of writing a book. And it becoming a best seller. With critical acclaim. Being reprinted centuries later. Some would read an endless list of “How to Write” books as light reading – grammar and style-porn. But they’d tell you that they are too lazy to write books if you suggest that they write one. Which they are. Just to be safe, don’t insist; you’d only guilt them into writing and end up proof-reading revision after revision.
  3. Also, book-snobs believe that they are the last living authority on well-written, poorly written, books and gobbledygook non-books. Everything they love is well-written, everything they hate is gobbledygook, and everything else is poorly written. If you don’t want an impromptu made-up lecture on “good writing”, don’t show any kind of interest in this topic.
  4. A book-snob has a book-voice. This voice, heard only within her head, is soothing, sweet, strong, sexy, as need be. With an accent matching the current book. Plus, she want to see words while she hears them read – actually see printed words – word-porn. This is why she hates the idea of audio-books, and hates those who suggest audio-books. Don’t do it – unless of course, it is Benedict Cumberbatch or Naseeruddin Shah reading.
  5. Every book-snob has a genre or type of books that she will never read – unless the city is on fire and no other book is at reach, of course. It may be something as egoistic as “stuff practically every non-book-person is reading, and running around quoting favorite parts – like Paulo Coelho and Ayn Rand” or something as specific as “books on Indira Gandhi – cos they give you nightmares of her being assassinated. In a new way. Every night. Wearing a white salwar kameez with pink dupatta. Every night”. Whatever may be the reason – or non-reason – every book-snob has such a list. Draw her into a conversation on these books at your own risk.
  6. A book-snob has her streaks – periods of high-intensity, high-speed reading of books on the same topic. Or a quirky mix of topics, in alternation. Never ask her for book recommendations during these times. She’d act as if she is racking her brain for books you would like, but she’d goad you to read that quirky mix of books on exotic topics that she is currently obsessing over.
  7. All book-snobs would claim to be open-minded from their exposure to multiple worlds from book-universe, and rap you on the knuckles for being judgemental. But. Beware. You are constantly being judged by them – for not reading, for reading what you read, for not reading what you don’t read, for not reading what they read, for reading what they don’t read, and for not reading what they told you to read.
  8. Book-snobs can get .. ahem.. excited at the touch and smell of a pre-loved, hard-bound, gold-embossed, muscular, ancient treasure of a book or a virgin, glossy pristine sheeted, slim young book, according to their orientation. Some may deny this, but they are simply yet to discover themselves. Find their preference. They all have one – that’s how they were born. Set them up with such a book when you want them to shut up.
  9. An advanced book-snob will label every genre that she has outgrown ‘juvenile’. For instance, all fiction except historic fiction is juvenile. Thrillers and science fiction are picture books. Except Michael Crichton, obviously. Sometimes, she’d pick up the thriller you are reading and whisper to its cover – “Grow up!”. Suggest that she read it if you are intent on insulting her.
  10. Quotes. They chime in insecurity into over book-snob-land. Some book-snobs have a database with quick-retrieval search algorithms in their brains. They can quote extensively, from an extensive set of books, an extensive set of ‘profound’ lines – all relevant to the ongoing conversation. These freak snobs make the normal snob insecure. For the normal snob rarely remembers the exact story events or characters in most books she has read, forget about remembering lines. She remembers only how the book made her feel. That’s what makes her normal, and human – almost. Ask her for her favorite book-quotes if you are feeling wicked.
  11. Book-snobs have a love-hate-mostly-hate relationship with “literature” and those fancy award-winning books. While these make for excellent take-note-of-my-high-intellect fodder, most are extremely irritating to read with their unnaturally long sentences, rambling descriptions, and people who seem to do everything slowly, for no reason, without getting anything anywhere. Or have dead dogs talking for pages and pages (remember My Name is Red?). Our book-snobs buy such books on and off from guilt, seldom finishing any, and put them on prime-spots on their book-shelves. You may safely start a discussion on these books and rest assured that the conversation would be steered away from books.
  12. Last, but never the least.. most book-snobs have a list of their own traits and very confidently claim that every single “true” book-snob alive shares those traits. One can’t really reason with this demented lot. Don’t waste your time trying. You’ll go mad. And bald.

Phew! With that you may be able to save yourself some hurt, some burn, some confusion, some fear, and of course, some rage.
Take care.
You are welcome.