Delusions In The Rain

The wind is howling outside, shaking the windows of my house as the rain continues to pound like artillery shells without any break. It is like this city is being eaten by a giant water monster and everything is submerging in it’s belly. In hindsight, global warming is indeed the water monster.

Windows & doors remain tightly shut as they continue to vibrate and make repeated sounds of banging against the walls. Shortly after I read a text circulating on Whatsapp that electricity will be cut from the source, the lights go off. It gets dark and it seems like each house is a separate island cut off from each other.

Each island is cemented in its place away until the wind will tear it apart and break it into pieces.

I sigh & get up from my couch. I have to cut vegetables for my salad. It is a part of this new diet I have been doing. I have been fairly regular so far, although it has only been a week. In this one week itself I have strayed a few times but it has largely been in check. Straying a bit from the diet is better than not having one at all.

I open the fridge and its coolness brushes my face. I take a tomato, cucumber & carrot from the fridge and put them on the kitchen counter. I turn around to the counter behind me and take the knife out of the rack where the utensils are kept. I turn back to see somebody’s head in place of the tomato.

I close my eyes. Whose head is it?

The hair on the head was uncombed and the face was smashed & bloody. It looked like it had no skull but just skin sewn in place to form the shape of an ill-formed, ugly-looking face. Blood was slowly sliding down from its temples and forehead while it’s eyes remained tightly shut.

It looked disgusting. But whose head is it?

It looked familiar, and yet I could not place a name against it.

How long have my eyes been shut?

What time is it? It should be around 2 pm right now.

I am hungry.

I open my eyes slowly to see the cucumber, tomato and the carrot next to each other on the kitchen counter. I take them one by one and start chopping and dicing it. I start with the cucumber, cutting it into circular shapes with the knife.

Suddenly the knife looks threatening in my hand.

I check the time. It is 1 pm.

I am off by one hour. My reliable sense of time has eluded me today.

I start chopping the tomato and sense somebody’s hands wrapping mine slowly. The skin of the hands is soft and delicate and envelopes my hands in warmth.

They are a woman’s hands with nicely- trimmed nails & no nail-polish. I can see the transparency of her nails and the white skin under it.

I like that, no nail-polish.

I stop chopping the tomato & turn around to look at her directly. She is completely naked and the flesh of her dusky skin is within my reach. I hold her waist from my right hand & feel her skin. It feels real. I look deep into her brown eyes as they curiously gaze back at me. My eyes wander down to my hand on her waist and fire seems to be emanating from it.

My palm is burning but I feel no sensation and the skin on my right palm looks like the burnt end of a cigarette. The shit of nicotine & tar.

The disgusting anti-smoking ad plays in my mind. I imagine a piece of foam being squeezed with soft hands and the dark grey colored-tar oozing out of it and filling a glass jar kept beneath to the brim.

I close my eyes again.

1…2…3.

I open them and there is no naked woman in front of me. Am I imagining all this?

I am a little disappointed but I smell something burning. I bring my palm to my face and the pink flesh of my skin is in place. I look at the gas with the pan on top of it containing cooked vegetables inside.

I open the lid of the pan in which the maid was cooking the vegetables. Smoke escapes and lands right on my spectacles making the glasses moist and everything around me is out of focus. The mist clears and I can see the dark, burnt vegetables sitting in the pan.

The maid must have forgotten to turn the gas off. Who forgets something like that? But she is not like that. She is very careful about things.

But there is no other reasonable explanation. Maybe she is having an off day. I mean, even this city is having an off day today. It has stranded and disappointed its citizens.

I wonder what the city would say if it had a voice right now. Maybe it would flood its citizens so that it is left alone. I wonder if that is what the city is doing right now. I mix all the cut vegetables in a bowl & add some salt & pepper to it. I think of the cut pieces of vegetables wading their way through the bowl in the muck of the mustard sauce I add on top of it.

I toss the salad in a bowl and walk into the living room to see three people sitting on the couch looking at me as if they have been waiting too long. A woman in her mid-30s and two identical young boys who seem to be 8-year olds. All three of them are wet and the water is dripping from their bodies and clothes on to the floor. Water slowly fills up the living room and is heading towards me like an army of small water soldiers.

The cool water touches my feet and I wriggle my toes. I am standing in my place and can’t even think of moving as the water passes under and around the soles of my feet to take over the kitchen and the bedroom. I want to close my eyes but I can’t anymore. I wish to see this through.

I wish to see what happens next and to find out what this all means and where I am.

Curiosity killed the cat, didn’t it.

But my eyes remain open and I see the people sitting on the couch. Curious, darting eyes of the the boys were piercing right through my body making my blood cold. I could feel my body revolting to the sight of the boys but my heart was filling up with warmth.

The woman is sitting cross-legged and her hair is disheveled and wet. Her clothes are torn around her waist revealing her dusky and slightly burnt skin. The light blue top she is wearing is wet and has black marks all over it as if she has escaped a fire.

I lift my hand up to feel the skin on my face. I feel stitches covering my entire face. The stitches complete a roughly drawn circle as they go from my forehead to the temples down to the chin and back up to the forehead from the other side. I am completely dry except for the slight trickle of blood around the stitches.

My face is kept in place with stitches and suddenly I feel the skin of my face slipping down as one by one each stitch is slowly undone. I imagine my head twirling in the air as my vision gets blurry. I fall on the wet floor and see those six sets of eyes looking straight at me.

My eyes shut.

Darkness.

Delusions In The Rain

The 100th Post! Evolution of my blog

The Huffington Post, Mashable and Techcrunch started out as blogs which have turned into big media companies. But the people behind them also put in a lot of resources in time and money. In its early days, Mashable used to churn out 5-6 blogs a day! By that count it must have reached 100 posts in about 18-20 days.

I started this blog in 2011; 8th April being the exact date when I published my first post and it has taken me 5 years to reach 100 posts. But that is because this blog came out of nowhere. For some reason watching the India- Aus World Cup final match in my hostel in April I felt a desire to write about it. Yes, I remember it very clearly. The WC ended on 2nd April with India winning and my first post came on 8th April.

A Match That Mattered. See how short it is. I cannot recall ever posting such a short post in years now.

This blog has come a long way since then and I have tried to write at least one post each month. Considering that I average 20 posts a year, I have been able to write fairly regularly according to my standards.

At first it was just about writing, but later there were two posts I published which a lot of people from my college read and really liked. They were about my experiences of taking my mom for the MasterChef Season 1 audition and of our team not coming in the top 3 in the Contemporary Issues project wherein we had to make an entire documentary.

The two posts are The Words I Never Said and “Failed” Dishes. There was a lot of feedback on these two posts which motivated me to write more. I think there are some posts which are really close to a blogger and would want an audience for that.

I have two on-going series of posts.

  • From My Bookshelf: I review three books I have recently read in this. There are 32 posts with this title which means I have reviewed 96 books. Until now, even I didn’t realize the number of books I had reviewed. Check out the first and the latest post under this title and the changes I have made since then.
  • The Happiness Project: This is something that I have started very recently when I was going through an extremely low-point. It has helped me enormously and is also the most private part of my life out in public. Check out the first one here- The Happiness Project.

I have written about books, travel, personal growth, movies, food, sports, politics and education. Writing about travel is the most difficult since I have to mentally go back to the place I was in and extract emotions from my heart and mind and at the same time keep the posts at an adequate length lest the readers get bored. Sometimes after publishing, I realize that I missed something and then regret not mentioning those points. I have covered my travel to Kashmir, Bhutan, New York, Florida and many other small places as and when I travel including a trek near Mumbai recently.

My most- viewed post has been about my birthday resolution when I turned 24- Some Things To Do Before I Turn 25 but my posts about my CAT exam and the MBA interviews have also been read very frequently.

This blog has unintentionally become a warm and safe cocoon I go to every-time I feel a strong surge of emotions. This may be during travel, or in my personal life or while reading books or just in general. It is a space I go to frequently and pour out the words that come to my head and they keep wandering in there until I put it out here.

A few years down the line I will reach 200 posts, then 300…and maybe 1000 posts someday. But this blog is not about the number of posts but simply about the value it adds to my life on the good and the not-so-good days. 🙂

The 100th Post! Evolution of my blog

Jaipur Literature Festival- Only for Elites

“Is there some festival or something going on here?”

I was surprised at this question by the auto-wallah. After all, it is only Asia’s biggest literature festival.

“There is a literature festival here.” I replied.

“It must be for those who are into all this or students. Because we have nothing to do with it.”

I was a little confused now. Surely Asia’s biggest literature festival has space to include everyone.

But 30 minutes in the festival and to me it reeked of elitism. I could not go to the fest last year as I was working, and when I saw that I have a day off from college, I caught a bus and took off.

The fact is, I was a little let down. Right from the hosts to the speakers and the entire environment was in such a way that only a certain “class” of people would really like to come. The hosts were not of Indian origin and they could not pronounce the names of some of the Indian speakers properly. Barring a few, most of the speakers used English. So even though the topics were interesting, the auto-wallah would not really be interested in being there since there is a good chance he would not understand the language.

Some speakers did talk about regional literature on certain days, but that does not mean that political or other discussions should be done just in English. It is not that I did not learn anything as such. JLF has always had an impressive line-up of speakers. I got a chance to hear Mahesh Dattani, Sachin Kundalkar (an award-winning Marathi writer and director), Ekta Kapoor, Shashi Mittal (a TV writer), Bachi Karkaria and many big names about whom I only read in the papers. I also got a chance to learn something new like the topic of sexuality in Arabic countries by an Egyptian author (Shereen El Feki) who recounted some of her eye-opening interviews with a lot of men and women  during the course of her writing “Sex and the Citadel” and about the Coelicanthe which is a species of fish through which it was believed mammals evolved from. It is also the most endangered species on earth and the author (Samantha Weinberg) had an Indiana Jones-like adventure to write its story which was a very fascinating talk.

The JLF definitely needs a better designer. If it is to be Asia’s largest literature festival, it can’t have a few tents put up here and there. The set-up has to be such that people who come to this fest are lost in stories and words. They should enter a different world which reading a book allows them to do. The JLF fails to do that.

I just attended for a day, but when I was browsing through other days’ line-ups I saw that there is no platform for bloggers, stand-up comics and people who want to be writers. Fashion and tech bloggers today can make or break a brand, even in India and the way bloggers have shaped politics in the Arabic countries is remarkable. I also saw just one Book Publishing House present which was extremely disappointing. Workshops were very less and there were none for people who write in other languages.

There were two book launches on the day I attended. One was written by a king who probably is in his 50s and is bored so wrote a history about the Rajputs, their values and shit and gradually narrowing it to his family’s lineage. All I could think about was “Not another one!” The second book launch was an encyclopedia on Jaipur.

The JLF needs to grow up  now and bring in younger authors, more book publishing houses and become a platform for young people to know what literature is so that we stop producing writers like Chetan Bhagat and Amish Tripathi or at least stop reading their books.

JLF cannot be an exclusive event that touches upon just a particular section of our society since our country’s diversity is in its culture and in its stories. These stories need a platform to be heard and discussed openly. JLF is in a great position to be that platform and I hope it does not miss out.

Jaipur Literature Festival- Only for Elites