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Monday, October 12, 2015

The Move.

I haven't blogged in a really long time and not because I was particularly busy. It was more of laziness and my old problem of being afraid to tackle change. What's changing? This blog's address. I FINALLY decided to shift everything to my new WordPress site, hence I won't be blogging here anymore. After seven years and counting, I have become quite attached to the Blogger platform but I think it's time to move out of this comfort zone and find my way around WordPress and all the customization it offers. Hence, I've exported this blog to:

https://mehaksiddiqui.wordpress.com/blog/

If you're reading this, please click over to my new space, let me know what you think of it, and of course, follow and subscribe to my posts there!

I won't be writing/posting any new stuff here and will soon add a permanent redirect link to this page so that you will always know where to find me if you so wish to. :)

In other news - if you follow me on Facebook, you've probably heard this already - I'm headed to Bangalore in November for a writing residency at Sangam House!

To say that I am thrilled and over the moon is the understatement of my life. :P I feel like the residency is a harbinger of a super exciting new phase - hopefully one in which I eventually, with any luck and at long last, find my way toward a completed (and published!) first novel.

FYI, I am planning to post something every day or at least every other day of my four-week residency in order to keep track of my progress and share my experiences of the place. So go over to my WordPress page and subscribe/follow/bookmark it now!

And if you're extra nice, you should also Like my blog page on Facebook and Follow me on Twitter.

Gracias y hasta la vista, amigos :) 

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

When smart phones turn stupid

Last week was the longest week that my city has seen in all the years I’ve lived here. What with the (in)famous Patidar rally that led to violence that led to a ban on mobile internet and Short Messaging Service that till today, seven days later, has not been lifted. Hooray for democracy and all that.

Although the ban is naturally a huge inconvenience to business and life alike, it has its amusing bits. For instance:

1. Your smart phone turns into a bit of a dummy. It just sits there, not beeping, not enticing, and magically not running out of battery. It is suddenly no longer necessary to have it with you at all times, all day long. It gets so eerily quiet that if you’re like me, you may even forget it at home for the first time since you bought it. Poor thing, it’s been highly ignored if not scorned in frustration these past few days. It’s lonely as hell. As are we all, what with no WhatsApp messages, no text messages, no emails. Of course, we all get a few calls, but the thing about calling is that people don’t do it as much as they text, usually because it:
a) costs money
b) takes up more time, and – most notably -
c) requires you to have something at least vaguely substantial to say.
(Of course, we do occasionally call up our friends and literally go on about nothing at all, but that happens at most once a week, not five times a day, at least provided that you’re anywhere near remotely sane and have a life to live.)

2. Your younger cousins/nephews/nieces/ anyone who doesn’t know or has forgotten the pre-internet, pre-smart phone era, kind of freak out in a really funny way. It’s like their lives lose most functionality and they’re restless and friendless. For a change, however, they’re not sleepless. Because when there’s nobody to text or nothing to browse late into the night, sleep is all empowering, the greatest pleasure, the only respite. You dream of waking up to the world as you knew it before this whole technological calamity. But of course, you don’t. And the uncertainty, the excruciating wait continues.
Those who are particularly desperate stay up till midnight, on edge, hopeful that maybe, just maybe, services will resume and they’ll be the first to know, but when that doesn't happen, sleep is the only option. Apart from calling customer care and nagging/berating them to resolve a situation that they can do absolutely nothing about. :P  

3.  When you take a photograph, just one is suddenly enough. What are you going to do with ten different selfies anyway? There’s no Instagram to beautify them, no Facebook to show off your pretty pout, no WhatsApp to spam your friends. Your photos will just sit there in your dummy phone and what good is that when photos are meant to be shared, tagged, liked and commented upon at length? You would much rather use your time sitting at the computer, pretending to work. At least broadband still works. You can scroll through Facebook. Perhaps there is some news update about when the damn ban will be lifted.
Well, tomorrow, most probably. With any luck and the blessings of all our various deities combined.

Meanwhile, the Patidars have taken to Surat. And if their leader is to be believed, they’re coming for the rest of the country too. 




  

Friday, August 21, 2015

I have a new home

A virtual one, that is. After almost a year of thinking, planning, and fiddling about with the idea, I finally completed setting up my WordPress site!


The motivation behind it was the general rule of thumb that writers should have a website, and although it's not even a custom URL (yet), it's a start. For the longest time, I shied away from WordPress because it just seemed (and indeed it is!) too complex (compared to Blogger at least), but perhaps that itself makes it more professional. I tinkered around endlessly with different themes before I finally got the page to look like how I wanted but it is still pretty rudimentary. To continue with the metaphor of a new home, I still have to decorate, put up essential fixtures and fittings, and in general make it truly mine.
That means that I'm not quitting Blogger (this space) yet. I still need to figure out how to integrate the two if at all and till then, I'll continue blogging here.
But do have a look at the site and let me know what you think! Suggestions are welcome and in fact needed. While building the page, I had initially used a different theme and shared it with a handful of friends. Let's just say the response was kind of lukewarm so I reworked the entire thing, suffering through multiple headaches along the way, and I have to say, I am quite impressed by my own hard work. :P So, err, please be kind in your criticism if any!

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

This time, ten years prior

Do you remember where you were this time, ten years ago?

I do, quite clearly.

I was on holiday. Here, in the city that is now my home. Enjoying a breezy summer vacation before that all-important milestone of starting college.

I was sixteen and life felt surreal, for I had quit school a year earlier than expected and was about to start an undergraduate program in science at a prestigious university.

It was the kind of future I had spent most of my childhood fantasizing about, for I decided at age ten that I was made to be a doctor, to “help and serve others” since everyone described me as so kind and gentle.

It is only much later – after my world tipped over, turned me upside down and shook the fluff out of my adolescent brain – that I realized I wasn’t so much kind and gentle as meek and subservient, too timid to speak or stand up for myself when people walked all over me like I was a village road. (I know that’s a terrible comparison but it will have to do, sorry.)   

And as for professions involving “helping and serving” others, I can think of ways in which almost every occupation fits that description. I chose writing (or writing chose me) and I know that words most definitely help (to get through stuff, to laugh or fume or find comfort or solace when needed, etc etc) and serve (people who read them, who enjoy them, whose lives changes however minutely by them).

But I didn’t end up here completely by chance. I guess the seed was always there, the hunch that I didn’t pay attention to because when you’re little and surrounded by Indian kids from enterprising, ambitious families (your own included), nobody ever says they want to be a writer or an author when they “grow up”. It’s just not what Indian kids do (or did back then). We become doctors or engineers, accountants and businesspeople, surgeons, psychiatrists, or at least dentists, pharmacists, physiotherapists, teachers, psychologists, or journalists.

Writing comes secondary, as an add-on profession, justified by your achievements in your real career. For instance, doctors write books about groundbreaking research or case studies, psychologists write the ubiquitous self-improvement books, professors and teachers write textbooks or required readings, and so on.

When you’re like me and just write because you can (don’t need a lot of money) and you want to (are willing to drive yourself crazy staring at blinking cursors), people (most notably, relatives who have nothing to do with you beyond the preordained connection by blood or family) treat you like you’re wasting your life. Like you are suffering a prolonged quarter life crisis just because you refuse to follow the path that is literally done to death by almost anyone – study, get a job, build a career, get married, pop out a baby or two, get them to study (and repeat the vicious cycle), plan for retirement, retire and then try to find comfort in material luxuries you can finally afford while growing increasingly dissatisfied as life starts to run out and you realize you never did what your heart told you to do earlier. 

Why do the majority of people reduce life to this awful humdrum cycle? And why do they expect me to follow suit? Why am I an anomaly if I don’t? Why do they keep asking me what am I doing when I keep telling them – I am writing, I am trying to be a writer, it’s hard, it takes time, the learning and achievement curve is steeper and hence slower than that of other professions.

People who achieve success in creative work at ridiculously young ages are either exceptionally talented or phenomenally lucky or – most unfairly – both. But that doesn’t mean there’s no scope for the rest of us. So yeah, I’m not going to quit writing just because I don’t currently have any particularly spectacular achievement I can brag about or shove in my relatives’ faces when they ask me that damned question of what I’m “doing” these days.

It happens year after year, festival after festival when I’m obliged to meet and greet and make the most soporific small talk with a smile on my face. While some of them take the liberty to give me (crappy) ideas of what I can write about.

Because hey, don’t you know? I don’t have any ideas of my own. I don’t know what to write. That’s why I’m a writer. Eureka.

- Note to one person in particular -

Seriously.
Give.
Me.
A.
Freaking.
Break.
Please!

(Sorry for the ridiculous formatting but it demonstrates my levels of frustration.) 

Here’s a thought – the next time you have a brilliant brain wave about what I could/should write about, why don’t you take it and WRITE ABOUT IT YOURSELF?

Because I have my hands (and my head) full, thank god. And even if I didn’t, you are the last person I would ask for help.

- End of Note -

Right, so now that we have that out of the way, I realize I have digressed way too much, even more than the village road I earlier mentioned. In case you didn’t get it, the village road was an allusion to myself, albeit a weird one. It can even be used as a metaphor for my career path. For village roads connect to the lesser known, the unpopular, the stuff we don’t always want to see or hear or feel or acknowledge, and that’s precisely what writing is all about too. The unsaid, much like this post has turned out to be.

So I started by remembering where I was this time, a decade prior – fresh out of high school, which I left a year earlier than planned because it offered thirteen years of education and I didn’t really need or want that final year. I was beyond relieved and more than elated to be out of there before everyone else.

The year I had in place of grade 13 became an emotional and intellectual roller coaster that brought me a lot of disappointment, pain and anger, but enough good memories to overshadow them all. It was a year I traveled –literally and metaphorically – farther out of my comfort zones than I have ever been. It was the year I got lost and found myself. It was the most difficult time and I was the unhappiest I have ever been.

But it was also the year that I started writing in earnest, which means that ultimately, all the upheaval was absolutely worth it.





Monday, July 6, 2015

A rhyme. And time.

Another overcast but rain-less morning. Like the skies, I have been dilly-dallying. I have put off writing this post for so long. So much that all the ideas I kept having became redundant. It is amazing and sadly ironic how much I shrink away from writing despite proudly claiming myself a writer. Maybe I should call myself a reader, because I seem to do a lot more of that than anything else. Not exactly a bad thing but kind of a hindrance when the things to write list keeps growing and growing and than suddenly spirals completely out of control.

Back when I was at school, there was a rhyme we used to say when someone asked "why?" and we didn’t have/want to reply:
Because the sky is high
And you’ll marry a Maasai
In June-July

I used to hate that rhyme. Mostly because I was often the one asking the "why?" and I don’t like it when people evade answering questions. Also, it makes absolutely no sense, though in retrospect, what does in childhood?

Anyhow, the reason I remembered the stupid rhyme is that of course, it’s June-July and also, this month marks exactly a decade since I left school and Kenya. It’s a little unbelievable at first – like oh my god, where did the years go? – but when I calm down, I realize so much has happened/is happening. Life has transformed and turned out in completely different ways than what I had hoped/planned/imagined. That’s not to say that it’s bad, it’s good – the unexpected, the unfamiliar, the unforeseen stuff is what makes the human experience worthwhile, even if it doesn’t always seem this way at first.

These days, I find myself very interested in being spiritual and taking care of my mind and body and soul. You see, even though I would be defined as a “quiet” person, my mind is anything but. It just keeps whirring and stirring and going on and on which often makes it difficult to fall asleep. So I started practicing meditation – very simple, guided audio stuff that helps calm if not clear my overfull ever-buzzing head. 

I also stopped using WhatsApp because for like the longest time, I feel that it kills brain cells with useless nonsense information and conversations to match. I feel so much lighter without hearing the annoying little beep-beeps of WhatsApp throughout the day. Good riddance if ever there was one.

With my calmer, tidier mind, I am working on some exciting writing projects and charting out even more exciting plans for the next phase of my life. After all, it’s been a decade since school. Soon, it will be a decade since college. And university. There’s so much to achieve till then, so much to do, see, experience. And even though I mentioned above that life always turns out in unexpected ways, you never get anything or anywhere without putting in some effort first. Laying the groundwork and redoubling efforts. What better time to re-evaluate goals and get stuff rolling than mid year?
After all, its June-July
And you don’t want to marry a Maasai
Because the sky is high. 
You'd much rather just fly. 
Away, good day, good bye, 

*Though, technically, I didn't exactly graduate. The way I left school is an interesting story that I will probably write later this month, around the 18th which is the exact day that I left Kenya forever. So stay tuned, if at all you are curious. :P 
(Picture from whisper.sh)

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Self-awareness

Today was/is the first ever International Albinism Awareness Day. There wasn't much publicity or knowledge about it. The media largely ignored it. And Google didn't bestow us with a doodle to celebrate. I guess that just highlights the need behind the declaration of this day. The United Nations has created a website which explains more, and I'm so happy to share my own story which is featured there. Follow this link to read!




Monday, June 1, 2015

June.

I have recently been inspired to write rhymes (courtesy Shruti) so here’s one trying to capture that middle-of-the-year feeling – in my case, uncertainty, doubt, confusion, a little bit of guilt about not doing all the things I set out to do since January, and lots of conflicted plans for the coming months:  

So it’s June,
Middle of the year,
Didn’t it come too soon?

My stars are set to bloom,
Or so my horoscopes croon.
Gonna be a time of boon,
Under tomorrow’s full moon.

So why do I sense doom?
Me and my perennial gloom!
Stuck in a cocoon,
Lost and out of tune.

Get me out of here and we’ll find a pretty lagoon
Share cookies or chocolate or a creamy macaroon
We’ll hide from fate’s lampoon
And dodge its lethal harpoon.
For the year has reached its noon
And the clock is striking,
Boom, boom, boom.

  






Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Biding Time

I wait,
For an end
Or a beginning.
Either way, same thing I suppose,
Like the analogy of the glass - half empty or full -
It's just a matter of perception.

I wait,
For summer's lapse and cooler winds.
Winds that can carry me away,
Offshore,
Unbound, unchartered. 
Sailing headlong into destiny.
Or at least my imagined version of one.

I wait,
Tireless, eternally hopeful,
Planning, wishing, praying. 
Are my dreams mere castles in the air?
I wonder. What if they come tumbling down upon me?
Will I perish in their wake?

I wait,
For days that turn into weeks
And then into years.  
Almost a decade.
What am I doing here? 
Sitting still, like stagnant water?
When life is supposed to be a flowing river -
Long, winding, majestic. A journey of the soul. 

I wait
For freedom and flight, 
Out of the shackles that bind
And hold me back. 
They are beginning to hurt, where they dig in - 
Right around the place where my wings could have been.

I wait,
For sometimes  it is all one can do
After the best of plans have been thought up and laid out, 
And efforts redoubled and exhausted. 
I wait, 
For an end.
And a beginning in tow. 

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Read more, live more.

Like so many people I know, I love books: the look of them, the feel of them, and of course that famed deliciously musty scent of them - old and new.

But I love e-books too. Or rather, I love my e-book reader, my Kindle PaperWhite.


When people complain about e-books and the forever imminent demise of paper, I don’t get it. E-books are a good thing. A great thing. One of the best things that have happened to me, technology-wise.

Before buying my Kindle last year, I was really skeptical about whether it was a worthy purchase, whether I would enjoy it the same way I enjoy paper books. It was needless fret. I love e-books even more than I love paper books, mostly because I can change the font size (make it bigger to make it easier reading for my weak eyes) but also because I can learn the meaning of new words without having to move an inch (thanks to the in-built dictionary) and because I can highlight stuff and have it automatically saved in a text file full of highlighted stuff. And contrary to popular perception, I feel that Kindle strains my eyes far less than reading paper books.  


Then there is the practical value of how e-books make reading a much, much cheaper affair despite the intense moral conflict involved with downloading free versions of books that are not supposed to be available free. But I’d rather not pursue that line of discussion right now. Or ever. After all, we’re all entitled to our share of guilty pleasures, aren’t we?


To get back to the point, today is World Book Day and even though I always say I’m not a fan of such “Days”, I thought I’d commemorate by listing out the books I’ve read so far in 2015. I usually don’t keep track of how much I read every year but it’s something I’d like to do this time, so here goes:

  1. Red Rain, by R.L Stine - Supposed to be spooky, isn’t really. Borders on amusing, in fact. Gripping read.
  1. Girls in White Dresses, by Jennifer Close - Was a suggestion from a Thought Catalog post. Didn’t like it much. I’ve read better “chick-lit” as the genre is called.
  1. Adultery, by Paulo Coelho - The first ever Coelho book that disappointed. I just didn’t get it. It lacked his usual magic.
  1. The God of Small Things, by Arundhati Roy - Err, I’m not sure how I feel about this book. It was beautifully written, of course, but I don’t know, it’s also sort of depressing, sort of a let-down.
  1. The Lowland, by Jhumpa Lahiri - Dedicated an entire blog post to this one. Well-written but not my kind of story.
  1. Life of Pi, by Yann Martel- Brilliant.
  1. The Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger - Again, brilliant. I loved the writing style!
  1. Looking for Alaska, by John Green - After reading the Fault in our Stars and An Abundance of Katherines, this book didn’t live up to the kind of awesomeness I associate with John Green. But it’s still a great book if you enjoy YA fiction as much as I do.   
So that’s 8 books in 4 months, which means I’m reading approximately 2 books a months. Not entirely accurate because I almost didn’t read at all in January and February on account of wedding festivities at home. Also, I started on several other books which I then kind of abandoned halfway. I hope to get back and finish them sometime, since I’m aiming to read at least 50 books by the end of the year or at the very least 30 or 35.



Here's wishing you great reads, always. :) 






Friday, April 10, 2015

My thoughts on Jhumpa Lahiri's The Lowland

I remember reading Jhumpa Lahiri’s The Namesake a few years ago and thinking: “Wow, I wish I could write like that. I want to write like that some day.”
It became one of those books I enjoy going back to and re-discovering every once in a while. I love everything about it – the characters, the setting, the plot, the conflicts; even the movie adaptation of it.  

More recently, a friend gave me Lahiri’s debut, Pulitzer-prize winning short-story collection - The Interpreter of Maladies - and although I liked it, I felt that a lot of the stories were just too similar in mood and context to The Namesake. I like my authors to be versatile so it became a bit tiresome to read about Indian immigrant lives all over again, even though - of course - the plots were gripping and beautifully penned.

And now, I have just finished reading The Lowland - which was a nominee for the Man Booker – and am disappointed, to say the least. Here’s why:

1. Immigrant life. AGAIN.
I wouldn’t mind reading about people who relocate to the US. In fact, I am quite fascinated by immigrant life and trying to write a novel of my own based on this theme. But there’s something about Lahiri’s stories that make life abroad seem just so depressing. Her narrative is infused with a sense of nostalgia and loneliness that make me wonder why anyone would move to America at all. The characters seem to be perennially brooding and leading empty lives that make me wish they would just pack up and move back to India already. I doubt real-life immigrants are such sad empty shells of people. When you move to a new country, aren’t you going to be excited about the new start, happy to settle into a new life? Of course, nostalgia would strike now and then but you would hopefully be too preoccupied with the business of living to let it overwhelm you so. The character of Subhash in The Lowland is about the most dull, monotonous character I’ve ever encountered in a story. And he makes the most stupid moves which drive the plot to its sad inconclusive, deeply unfulfilling end.     

2. Too much description (about natural surroundings and weather)
I’m sorry but I don't see how knowledge of what trees and plants are growing around the protagonist’s home helps the plot. Why do I need to know how much it rained in June? It’s not like the characters are meteorologists, for heaven’s sake! I can’t stand over-descriptive passages in any book. (It’s the sole reason I abandoned all attempts to read The Lord of the Rings.) So I found myself skipping over a lot of the unnecessary stuff in The Lowland, mentally urging the author, "Oh, for god's sake, move on! Get back to the point, the plot!”

3. Stupid, selfish immigrant children  
Why are the children in Lahiri’s books so utterly detached from their parents? It’s as if she’s trying to say that being born American by default makes you an automaton with absolutely no empathy/sympathy for family ties! I’m pretty sure no regular kids anywhere behave the way Lahiri’s young characters do – like heartless monsters that deserve a good whack around the head with a cricket bat. Like, have a heart, guys. I grew up in a foreign country too but it was never a reason to be cut off from my roots, to not learn my native language and to behave like I owe nothing to Mom and Dad.

4, Trans-generational story (if that’s the right term for it)
I hate books that encompass several generations of characters at once. (This is one of the reasons I didn’t quite like the ending of Harry Potter. – I didn’t need to see Harry’s kids when in my head he was still a teenager for god’s sake!)   
I mean, that’s what television soaps are for. That’s why they go on for years, so you can grow at least a little bit with the characters. In the case of books like The Lowland, within a few hours, characters have become grandparents while I’m still exactly the same and wondering, what the hell just happened?
Moreover, such stories are depressing because you have to witness the protagonist age, often not so gracefully, and in worst cases, even die. Like how does that help me? I’ve just connected with a bunch of imaginary people and they died before I could even fully get to know them! Bah.

So, all in all, I think that The Lowland is one of the most depressing books I've ever read despite the illusions of happy endings the author weaves in towards the ends. I don't think I'll be reading Lahiri again, or maybe I will, just to see if she ever changes her style. Don't get me wrong; I still think she writes brilliantly and I have immense respect for the fact that she has won the Pulitzer Prize(!!) and was shortlisted for the Man Booker(!!!), but I also believe some happy non-immigrant stories would do her readership a lot of good. 




On a scale of five, I’d give the Lowland a 2.5 solely for the un-put-downabale way in which it’s written. It takes a lot for me to complete a book after I’ve already decided I don’t like it, yet I stuck with The Lowland till the last page! 

Monday, April 6, 2015

The Wordspinner

The wordspinner was a young woman with an old spinster's soul. She worked in isolation, removed from the world, content within her imaginary cocoon.  While people her age (and even younger) got married and started families and happily settled into a lifetime of routines, she longed for just the opposite: quiet time and lack of structure. No fixed schedules for eating and sleeping and "working". For her work was her raison d'etre; her subsistence, her very existence.  

The words made her head spin, didn't let her sleep at night. Though they didn't always come easily. Rarely so. Often, they jarred and bored and needed to be re-spun entirely or touched up with a snip here and a tuck there. Embellishments were often needed to dress up the plain words and make them sparkle with genius. 

Her words tired her, made her eyes hurt from staring at them so much and tweaking relentlessly to achieve perfection or at least her idea of it. For what is perfection but merely a point of view? But despite the strain and frustration, she kept at her work, resolutely, in the unending quest of getting better and better and spinning more elaborate prose for her beloved word lovers. .The people who read her stuff and liked it and appreciated it. 

Sometimes, she tried to sell her words but mostly ended up giving them away for free just so that they could go out there and be heard, perhaps even touch or help someone. When payment did come, it was prized and treasured and inspired the many applications she sent out - to a fellowship here, a residency there. Earning for her words lent the courage to think "Maybe I'm good enough to do something great, to be great." 

She longed to "get away" - from the babble and routine around her. She just needed some uninterrupted quality time with her craft, her words. She needed to write better, to achieve her technicolored dreams. She dreamed of freedom. Of flying, quite literally, around the world, on her own, or with someone who didn't come with the baggage of wanting to "see" certain things and "do" certain other things in the manner of tourists. She wanted unique adventures, novel stuff she could write about and vibrant places that could give shape and form and color to the many stories that buzzed like restless wasps in her convoluted mind. She seemed to want to too much. To achieve the impossible or at least the un-achievable, by "normal" or simpleton standards  But to her wordspinner mind it didn't seem that much. After all, all she wanted was some space. And a fistful of time to call her own without being reminded that she was getting older...that time was a-ticking, running out. She needed to get married. Start a family. Settle down. Into routine. Mundane routine. It was her nemesis, that damned routine. 


Picture from: http://annainherwonderland.com/

Monday, March 9, 2015

Seven things that are very likely to happen at a big (Indian) wedding



1. Delays
With so many family members of two different families all trying to coordinate one major event (which in all likelihood has several sub-events), there's no avoiding delays. Whether it's aunties and uncles who have convoluted perceptions and opinions of time, or young people who are so engrossed in looking good and clicking selfies that they don't care how late they get in the process - someone or the other is definitely going to cause a delay. And if it's not people, it's going to be oversights like forgetting essential things at home (such as flowers) or misplacing documents or jewellery. I know that most Indian weddings are regulated by specific timings (or muhrats) but if its not the wedding, then the reception is sure to face a delay. There's no escaping the famous Indian Standard Time at the equally famous Great Indian Wedding.



2. Photo-bombing
Lately, I feel that the only reason people (myself included) attend (and perhaps even organise) big weddings is for an excuse to get all (overly) dressed up and get pretty pictures clicked. And with SO many people around, you are most definitely going to get photo-bombed multiple times. You know that aunt you secretly despise? She's going to pop in so many of your pictures, it'll look like she's your mother. And the cousin you rarely speak to? Her face is going to be pressed against yours in a gazillion selfies. So pull out your superficial niceties and let's hug and kiss and pose like we were born to be supermodels. "Say Cheeeeeese!" :P


3. Confusion
I'm sure there hasn't ever been a big wedding that was executed without at least some trace of confusion. Probably several bits of confusion. From trying to remember who on earth you're talking to or failing to recognize people under all the flashy clothes and make-up, to plain and simple not knowing what the hell is supposed to happen at a specific moment in time. Unless you hire a professional wedding planner, there are bound to be moments when the bride and groom don't have a clue what they're expected to do next or when other people have no idea what ritual occurs when.And what's more is that everyone will have their own advice to give to resolve the confusion as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, this will in all likelihood only worsen the situation. Though one rule to live by is perhaps, "when in doubt, smile!" Because all those professional, handy and smartphone cameras are clicking and recording your every unconscious expression of horror and it's going to be mortifying later on. :P


4. Spats and sulks
You can't please everyone, so you're bound to displease at least someone. And what's a wedding without a little bit of drama? With a long line of extended family vying for your attention and making their own little (niggling) requests like a certain kind of music, some specific food, access to a clothes iron, fresh towels, etc etc, you are bound to let someone down. And depending on their personality and status in the family hierarchy, they will either make a fuss and engage in a pointless spat with you or withdraw and go into a sulk. Either way, you shouldn't take it to heart because you're only human, not a ten-handed, five headed deity or a superhero. At the end of the day, only you know how bad your head and feet are hurting from tirelessly doing your best to keep everyone happy. So pop another paracetamol tablet and plaster that plastic smile on your face. It doesn't look as bad as you imagine. :P



5.Unleashing of the transformers
No I don't mean a machine-attack or movie premier. I'm talking about the magical mysterious transformation of personalities that you are sure to witness at a family wedding. I believe all the fun and feasting and song and dance bring out the best and worst in people. It may happen that someone you have always been close to and relied upon will suddenly disappear from your side when you really need them around; at the same time, someone you always expected the least/worst from will step in as your saviour in the most pressing circumstances. There's no place like a wedding - what with the million micro-managed tasks it involves - to see relationships rapidly transform, evolve and prove their worth.



6. Snubbing the bride and groom
Ask anyone and they will tell you that weddings are about free food, photographs, and socializing. And oh yeah, about some couple vowing to spend their life together. Most people probably don't personally know the bride or groom, hence they will come to the wedding, meet the parents/family members of the couple, hand over a gift or cash, have food, mingle with others they know, and leave. Who cares about congratulating the couple who're sitting up on stage wearing supremely uncomfortable clothes and smiling even though their jaws have begun hurting from the effort and they're starving because guess what, they have to eat LAST. Even though it's THEIR big day not the rest of the faux glitterati's who're frolicking around like royalty, gobbling up all the starters and guzzling way too much mocktail than is normal.



7. Matchmaking
Do you know why parents force their young unattached children to accompany them to weddings? So they can show them off in all their finery to the matchmaker aunties and possible alliances. Young people themselves too make the most of weddings to check out their counterparts of the opposite sex. Like, where else can you practically have the license to flirt (shamelessly/subtly - whatever's your style) legitimately with people who've made an effort to be well-dressed, well-groomed and well-mannered? So in a way, weddings spur more weddings.
Aw.
How very romantic.
.

P.S. I really hope you could detect the sarcasm in that last comment.




Friday, January 23, 2015

Where Stories Come From

Dreams and desires, hopes and heartbreak;
Betrayal and battles of give and take.
Friendships past
And those that last;
Love fulfilled and spells cast. 

Secret tempests and temptation alike;
Suppressed thoughts, whispered in the night.
Childhood memories
And teenage strife.
Tales of yore
And mystic lore. 

Broken promises, lofty ideals,
"If only"s and "Could have been"s.
Rules trumped, adventures unforeseen 
Within and without,
and everything in between. 

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Stuff I should do, must do, ought to do, want to do, need to do, can do, will do.

Organize my life. This in itself involves a long list of sub-lists. I should clean out and arrange my closet and desk and book shelf. I should throw out stuff I unnecessarily hoard but never use or need. I must discard old notebooks after clipping or photographing stuff I still need from them. I should compile that too long over-due list of films to watch and books to read. I must then follow up and actually do the watching and reading.
I should further pretty-up my recently repainted room.
I have to sort out my data. Pictures, music, documents, videos - they all need some major organisation.
I should write. Write all the articles I keep jotting down ideas about. I should edit my NaNoWriMo novel draft and craft it into something I can publish and be proud of.
I should read - all the stuff on the reading list gleaned from years of jotting down recommendations - and more.
I should refurbish my online profiles. Especially Google and LinkedIn. I should remove old stuff from Facebook which no longer needs to be visible to all and sundry.
I should clean out my email inbox, delete meaningless messages.
I should finish designing my WordPress site.
I should blog more. Maybe start another blog too.
I must earn more and spend more. Mostly on travel.
I should fulfill my mom's long-standing wish to be computer and internet-savvy.
I should get my writing career on track. I must write more stuff worthy of publication.
I must start doing something healthy. Like yoga and meditation. I should be on the move more and experience living out of a suitcase.
I must make 2015 a year to remember. I should 'live' more than I did last year. I should make ideas and plans materialize. I should do more, plan less. I should keep in better touch with friends.
I should do what I should do, must do, ought to do, want to do, need to do, can do, will do.

Picture from: http://lilisnotes.com/lists-lists-lists/