Monday, December 25, 2006

i'm like and she's like and we're like

I grew up under the passive influence of "my fair lady", which means, i try to (or is it try and) speak english properly, enunciate correctly, articulate succinctly. And i always thought old habits die hard. I still haven't stopped biting my nails, or misplacing things, or tapping agitatedly at the dining table, much to my dad's consternation (he still screams my name out loud, and i still whimper a little, and just so that this information is not misleading, I must insist that I am 21 going on 22- all grown up).
I used to enjoy those mundane exercises titled "convert the following into reported speech", or "convert the following to direct speech".
Let's take an example shall we ?

convert the following reported speech into a direct sentence-

Reported - He asked me if I had finished reading the newspaper.
Direct - He asked me, 'Have you finished reading the newspaper?'
( I had such a huge temptation to say ported!!!)

Its no mean feat. Notice the comma, then the quotes, then the question mark before the quotes end, not after. Its no mean feat. And I used to do them effortlessly. There was an elegance about it that I rather liked. The majesty and the grandeur of the english language- in the inimitable style of professor Higgins.

And, then, you know what happened ?
The habit died.
Flash forward to the present, and you know what I say ?

He was like have you finished reading the newspaper ?
and that means the same thing as
He was like have i finished reading the newspaper?
which is the exact thing as
He asked me like if i've like finished reading the newspaper ?

Yes... There I've said it. I say like for everything. I'm thinking like its okay to do it on sms, because, you know, its hard to go to the special symbols table each time, and then i'm like, its okay to do it on chat, coz, you know, its like you've to press shift each time, but then, i like, do it even when i'm talking man, i'm saying i'm like this, and then someone's like oh you were like that, and i'm like no no.. not like that, i'm like {like this}.

professor Higgins will not like this no ?

Even in her worst state, Elisa Dolittle was better than me. I'm like Aishwarya Rai in Dhoom 2. And i want to be like Ash in a lot of ways. Trust me. But not like the way she's in Dhoom 2.
I'm like so sad no ?

PS : In a bid to resolve this nasty habit, I have tried to italicize only those instances of "like" where the usage is wrong. But I have no idea how deep this new habit is rooted. Please feel free to tell me if some of the italicized like(s) are actually correct (yippee) and also, if some of the ones non italicized ones are wrong (damn).

Sunday, December 17, 2006


there are better things to do
and better persons to be
than sit all night wondering why oh why
or brood "oh dear me"

Friday, April 07, 2006

The air

The air around you only knows to love.
To fill every void, quench every need.
And when carelessly pushed out;
There’s no demur, no greed.

It lingers in places,
Selflessly nourishes,
And futilely wishes,
That one day you will see,
That it shall never cease to be.

You’re busy with transience ,
She waits in penance.
Not like wind in your hands.
Or a fleeting romance.
She’s your tranquility.
Your immortality.

How does it feel to rush in,
To be sent out sans permission,
To see no sense in reason,
To be a victim of treason,
To be there each season.

Lover, you love me not,
And I am unwittingly part of this plot.
I am your air,
And nothing about this is unfair.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

A series of unfortunate events

Took my own sweet time to grow.
And a long time to know.
Mirrors mustn’t be walked on.
As though upon a lawn.
And scooty brakes are ear-buds for many a buffalo.

You never stand on a moving vehicle.
Or bathe a cat with a gallon of pril.
Tomatoes are squishy.
And silences are fishy.
And misunderstandings make everything nil.

As a kid I rolled over dad and off the bed.
And luckily managed to not land my head.
Might that have been good ?
Well, that’s quite rude.
Never mind, enough has been said.

I got to twenty one with a fair bit of luck.
Escaped from geese with quite a bit of pluck.
Some loss of phones.
Some use of my bones.
And still doubting if when in doubt, I should go f***.

The entire process of truth and discovery,
Is sometimes rather worrisome and so very weary.
That some of us turn gray.
While the rest of us pray.
But at least you can say life’s never dreary.

A series of unfortunate events
Happened while trying to make sense,
To first realize
And then summarize
That only at death does life become past tense.

Monday, March 27, 2006


Its amazing how you read a poem ( well actually only some of them. Ones that aren't two long, short sentences, rhyme nicely or at least have a sense of rhythm to them, that they're almost pedestrian) and you're reminded of something, or you immediately get attached to the poem and want to say something to it.

Wreath of thoughts is a place where i hope to comment on some of the poems that somehow got through to me.
No nonsense about what the poet might've felt, or how the rhyming scheme didn't match and all that jazz.

sms-ing 101

“I have lost many friends to death, but I’ve lost most of them due to sheer inability to cross the road.”
I hope I quoted that line correctly, but in any case, you get the gist. I don’t know how things worked during the caveman’s time. I am guessing that the colonies were small and intimate. Everybody lived together. The yearning to meet a friend would come during moments of peace, during rushes of excitement and perhaps most importantly when a lion or tiger wasn’t making you run for your life. These moments might have been rare, but when they came, I suppose all one had to do was look across the cave or a neighbouring cave and there he was -the person to whom you could pour out your heart, with grunts, with growls, with a sense of urgency from which sprang new words, with a sense of intimacy due to which your friend always understood, with a sense of desperation due to which it was made certain that he understood and from there sprang language and protocol. My speculation could be entirely wrong. Feel free to fight me with your swords and mightier pens, but for the sake of getting to a more important point, grant me my wild fantasy.
It took such an effort back then, didn’t it ? Thank god for the digital age, for cell phones, for sms-es, for phonebooks, for well regulated traffic signals, where you can talk while crossing the road, for hands-free mode, where you can talk while getting to somewhere important, and for people like me - generous parents who allow you to keep a cell presumably for emergencies, for greedy mobile companies that want a large customer base, especially the communication-hungry college students, and give them a 100 free sms-es everyday, to always keep in touch with someone.
With phone in hand, with the discovery of the T9 english mode, with a 100 free messages to send, and with ample time during a boring lecture, I can say anything I want, anytime, to anyone. And that’s where the buck stops. With messages that are 160 characters long, there’s no style, there’s no character, there’s nothing that helps me like one person more than the other. We don’t even take time to swear correctly. “Shiv, I’m late, asap" is part of our daily parlance, and I’m left wondering why we aren’t even frustrated enough to brood correctly. There’s something wonderfully therapeutic about swearing properly, enunciating it correctly. But an sms needs to be sent, immediately, my comprehension of that new language is taken for granted, and it comes devoid of proper emotion.
What about nicknames? Any random person can guess my nickname. Start typing my name in the T9 mode, and the first word that comes is my name. It does not require anyone to know who I am, what my quirks are, or who my crush is. It requires them to know my name, and suddenly they call themselves a friend.
My mom sits in her rocking chair, sometimes extremely irate that my phone’s always beeping, secretly happy that there are so many people who want to talk to her precious daughter, and I haven’t the heart to break it to her. I haven’t the heart to tell her, that more often than not, when I jump at my phone, and open the message, all there is a “k”, at the corner of the screen. All there is an alphabet, which I suppose should pass for a complete sentence because it is sometimes followed by a full stop. My mom sits in her rocking chair, secretly happy that the phone bill’s come down, thanking the mobile company for only making her pay Rs 30 a month to satisfy my insatiable need to communicate. I haven’t the heart to tell her that it takes much too much effort to call these days. Because the person I want to call is busy sending sms-es to a dozen people at the same time and that person probably doesn’t care for one person any more than the other. We sms-ers live a stoic world. We say the same thing to everyone. We are told the same thing by everyone. We say it the same way. We’ve reached a consensus that deprives us of any streak of individuality because it’s too much to fit in the space of a 160 characters because there is always, always another 160 characters waiting to be sent.
So, am I one of those people who recognize the sms for what it is? I must admit, and I do that rather shamelessly, that I am a hypocrite. Once in a blue moon, I finish my quota, and even though I know that some of them were just forwards, some of them sent to the wrong person, which meant I sent a few more messages saying sorry to the wrong person, explaining what it meant, or imploring them to forget it, and then sent the message to the right person, followed by another message saying that it was originally sent to the wrong person, followed by a “God! Imagine what would’ve happened if I was telling you about that”, even though I know that I finished my quota due to some unintentional mistakes, I can’t help but feel wanted. Then again, I know at times I stop saying something important simply because my quota gets over, and wait until the next day, when the wish gets re-granted between midnight and 1 am, and then don’t say it.
I suppose we change with time. I suppose there will always be tigers and lions preventing us from saying what we want to say. I suppose there will always be a road full of traffic, and indifference on your part to cross the road and say hi, taking for granted that there will always be another day, when an empty road separates you and your friend. However when you don’t step into the traffic, and take for granted instead, the fact that the vehicles will make way, take for granted instead, your own ability to cope with a few well enunciated swear words emanating from faceless people in the vehicles, friends soon dissolve into acquaintances which is sometimes worse than death. I suppose there will always be a 101st message waiting to be said, and more often than not, its worth saying it before the clock strikes midnight, before the fairy tale disappears, because in today’s increasingly indifferent world, the prince might never ever bother to pick up the glass shoe.


I wonder what I’d do if I were all alone on an island. For now, I’ll leave the swiss family Robinsons genre of survival tactics aside. I’ll assume I can learn to eat meat, learn a thing or two about lighting a fire, figure out things that I hadn’t thought of before and work out some sort of arrangement with the elements of nature and with the freaky games of fate where I can take my day to day survival as reasonably certain. Granted - it might take me a few frustrating mornings waking up without a mirror before realizing that ponds and lakes will do quite well. Granted also- that I might have to finally learn to eat fruits and potatoes. Let’s not even get bogged down by such mundane details. We’ve all seen tom hanks do it. So could I. Let’s just take all that for granted, because those things have been written about for aeons and I am guessing that my doomed vehicle would have some sort of survival guide. What it will not have is what to do with my thoughts. What it will not have is instructions about how to get back my comfort zone, the cocoon that all of us seek shelter in when the world around us just gets too heavy to bear. Or perhaps, the most frightening aspect of all, it will not have what to do with peace.

I imagine a night, when I’ve had dinner ( I don’t even want to begin to think about what it is), and am walking on the beach, having long since given up on the tell tale ship that will take me back to a civilized schedule, to the delirious comforts of man-made inventions, or even to the depressing realities of a monotonous life. I imagine a night, when I’ve had dinner, and have long since learnt that deep sleep isn’t exactly beneficial to survival, and I’d be better off up and alert because while nothing on that island has any personal grudge against me, I do have to be wary of overstaying my welcome, which, an innocent creature, struggling for its own survival, will only be too glad to put right. I imagine a night, where all I have for company is myself, my thoughts, my inner demons that I can quell only with self-conjured dragons, my inner fantasies that now, I have no hope of realizing, even with all the world literally spread out in front of me, my deepest fears that are a thing of distance and are probably a thing of insignificance, my moments of happiness that have been etched so deeply, and prodded so many times.

In the past, I might have reached out for those moments in times of despair, in times of uncertainty, in times of loneliness, perhaps in a pain so unbearable that I’d pity the dead fish in my stomach, perhaps in a pain so unjust that I’d purposely take longer to kill the fish the next day, using its pain to overshadow mine, wallowing in self pity and self –absorption, murmering prayers that were never taught right and its meaning never fully gleaned, at the same time cursing all those beliefs that led me to believe that I was somehow special, that I would somehow escape, perhaps blaming wrong acts of past lives, just so I could believe that there’d be a calmer future birth.

And one day, perhaps it had become, that I could catch prey with unerring precision, sleep with a sense of nonchalance, bathe nakedly with all the world to turn its head away uninterested, breathe with regularity, even smiles turning into grins and occasional spasms of laughter without the fear of being branded by anything or anyone.

I imagine a night, walking on the beach, with just my thoughts. Perhaps I’d have names for all the stars in the sky. Perhaps I’d have mock conversations with them, and perhaps they’d indulge me. Perhaps the waves and I played games with each other. But what would I do with not a single worry and not a single care in the world. What would I do now, knowing that survival was now, more than ever, a certainty. What does one do with peace ? There may be variety in the sounds of the breeze, and the roars of the waves, and the sways of the trees. But how long can one do exactly as they please, before boredom sets in again. Would I even learn not to fear the loss of peace, because suddenly I’d been granted with however paradoxical it might sound, an ephemeral immortality ?

There’s a contentment that springs from knowing you’re lost. A contentment that springs from knowing you’ll never be found. A contentment that springs from losing hope and just making sure that every second was noticed and extracted for all its miniscule worth. A contentment that springs from being answerable only to yourself, and having defined every single rule by yourself, for yourself. And then a contentment from escape of harder times, of motorcars and horns, of newspapers full of crimes. A contentment from sudden acceptances of the most painful truths about my weaknesses, and a struggle to conquer them, just as I had done with the fish. A contentment from knowing that now, I’ve found myself, and can bear to live with bitter truths such as the banes of not waiting long enough for a better fish, or of not figuring out sooner that a little evaporation of water would give me salt that makes meat taste a lot better. A little smile at a memory of a 3rd standard text book, of memorizing the definition of evaporation, of getting 2 marks in a test, and of finally, finally, having used it, and of finally having come a full circle, with enough time to spare.

Friday, March 24, 2006


He seemed to have said that before,
I wasn’t the first.
He seemed to have said that before,
A line well rehearsed.

He kept the meter,
Kept true to rhyme.
And all that while,
I’d lost track of time.

There was no memento to keep,
No poem in memory.
Not even hours spent,
Under the shade of a tree.

And I just stood there,
Not knowing what to say.
I’d been his thing of lust,
While he’d been my true first.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

How could you ?

How could you be so forgetful, so forgetful my love ?
I remember your smile,
For many a mile, for all the while.
Why would you forget, forget all the love.

How could you be so playful, so playful my love ?
Those words, they sting.
You must see, I am more than just a thing.
Why would you play, play with my love.

Why are you so careful, so careful my love ?
You can get up when you fall.
Come closer, break the wall.
You needn’t be careful, careful with our love.

Why am I so hopeful, so hopeful my love ?
That you’ll come some day.
That you’ll see the way.
Can’t I be less hopeful, less hopeful my love ?

Tell me the truth, the truth my love.
With my tears, the rains can still pour.
And I’ll close the windows. Close every door.
Isn’t this the truth? There was no love ?


I watched “sideways” recently, and like countless others, what I took away from that movie was the scene where Virginia Madsen and Paul Giamatti talk about their love for wine. And since I had nothing better to do that night, and since those final groping steps towards your bedroom have a way of getting you in a whimsical mood, I wondered why certain conversations start off with 2 people meaning one thing and end up with them meaning quite another to each other.

Of course I only wondered about that for a few seconds, because that night I couldn’t concentrate on anything for too long, and preferred instead to wander along the mind’s path of least resistance, wherever it took me, conversations I’ve had, conversations I’ve wanted and have played in my head over and over again, knowing that they will never come true because not all of us go through life with a talented scriptwriter by the side, and not all of us would even use him if he did exist.

I love the darkness of the night and then I love the few rays of light that takes the effort to penetrate the dusty sheath of the tubelight, all the way through a miniscule opening in the blinds, all the way to about a foot away from you, so that somehow you know you aren’t alone that night, and yet in the privacy of the night you can say all those things you’ve been longing to say to so many people – people you’ve met, people you haven’t met but have carefully created with your imagination; sculptures carefully chipped off by your experience with reality, hoping that someday you will say it in the small lanes near home, in those quiet corners of the world where things are said without the fear of being overhead, and in my mind I say it without fear of being heard by the person it’s being addressed to.

Sometimes it rains, and I draw up the blinds and open the windows to watch and hear it. A sodium lamp in the corner illuminates a portion of the rain, and I concentrate intently , counting the strands of rain and failing abysmally at it. Before long the cacophony that woke me up becomes a rhythm ready to rock me back to sleep, and I start meandering down the path of unsaid things again. I don’t know what it is that is so unsettling about not having said those things, about hiding behind the screen of sobriety and propriety, about sticking to how the weather is but never how else you like the weather, and why that is so, about sticking to how blue the sky is which is about as characterless as a comment can be, but not about making shapes from the clouds, why sometimes you can think of any shape you want and if you look long enough you can almost always find it, and even then sometimes it’s just about the thrill of finding it but never saying anything about why that particular shape was chosen. It’s the difference between looking at a stranger in a shop and turning away when they look at you and smiling at them, between smiling at them and saying that you liked the jam they chose, between saying that and saying that you liked it because of something wholly unrelated. It’s the difference between a stranger and an acquaintance and a friend and a person who will hold your hands through life’s roads and not just smell the roses along with you but also experience all those things that the smell of roses remind you of.

But that’s asking for way too much, because we don’t want to reveal too much, and we stick to characterless sunny weather and empty blue skies. Sure, even after a choice of jam leads to a whole day of innocent revelations and purely incidental catharsis, there’s only a bit of paper with a phone number on it as a memento. But it’s one more form that has a soul that I didn’t create one night when I played god. As it happens, playing god is easier, because you get not only to choose what you say but also its reply. Its not often we find interesting people in coffee shops. It almost only happens in movies. The rest of us dredge along.

But what wouldn’t I do for that one brief conversation where all I say is why I love something, and in those reasons every nuance of me is exposed ? It doesn’t matter where the person came from, or where they were going to go to. What wouldn’t I do for those brief moments of rapt attention, where their presence is comfort and not apprehension ? I’ve had to conclude that the night and the blinking stars and the peeping moon and the ever indifferent clouds have something to do with it, and that as long as I have to come back home before a certain time ( the woes of responsible parents and the guilt of shirking responsibility), I will always wonder.