Another year gone by. Shiny new racquets sitting in the cupboard never fail to remind me that I need to take charge of my life. Take a chance they (the racquets, not the voices in my head) scream. We are lonesome. Badminton is tailor made for our times – a socially distanced sport.
Some things pass you by because you didn’t try hard enough. At the surface it would seem like that (there are always underlying factors) but some of it is true. While waiting for a partner last year the universe intervened (thanks pandemic). I will have to be a quiet athlete (thank you for the term Susan Cain), if I have to be fitter! Next time I will definitely play a sport but when the time comes I talk myself out of it like the sleepy me does when the alarm beeps every morning at 515 AM. I always tell myself I will run/cycle/dance but I end up just walking.
I love my solo walks. There was a time when I couldn’t walk much so I feel truly joyful when I take a walk around the park or the forested roads beyond my neighbourhood and catch the moonrise, sunrise or sunset or just sit under the inky skies. They are one of the few things that make me feel alive (and connected to the world at large) these days and, of course, drinking copious amounts of coffee.
The days are longer now, summer is here, and the spring was virtually nonexistent. It is the oddest things we hold on to what connects us to our childhood selves. Badminton is just one of the many. The things we enjoyed as children and could perhaps enjoy as an adult, refresh some memories to help navigate the uncertain present.
The racquets continue to sit on the shelf gathering dust. The time for playing badminton is long gone the adult me thought but the kids in my neighbourhood beg to differ. You see, they don’t quite believe in the rules we so easily accept. They truly understand the meaning of carpe diem, and continue to play badminton seizing opportunities when there is no wind during hot windy days, and cool breezy evenings during this unprecedented summer. This is the stuff that optimism is made of, and which self help books can’t really teach. The pandemic was there last year too, and maybe we are getting better at dealing with our disappointments. Sometimes keeping our expectations in check has to be done when survival is the endgame.
I saw I, Daniel Blake (the comma is important) sometime ago but it left an indelible impression on me. It is a film with its heart in the right place, and it is inspired from reality. I will be talking about what I felt after watching the film. Though I have tried not to be specific you will get an idea about the general premise of the film so spoilers ahead.
What is a man with a heart condition to do? Forced to eke out a living when declared fit by the state but not actually in a condition to work – a conundrum I hope no one ever has to face. We live in a world where government apathy is so systematized that it doesn’t seem like apathy at all. I thought we in India had bad governments but the rest of the world isn’t so different when it comes to denying upstanding taxpayers their rights and making them run from pillar to post.
You are entitled to benefits but the State has frozen it. Along with Daniel, we see the plight of another young woman with children. She feeds her kids but goes without meals herself until she nearly faints with hunger. She’s desperate for any kind of work because she has to look after her kids. She steals essentials from the supermarket because she doesn’t have the money to buy them. What doesn’t kill you doesn’t always make you stronger. It breaks you, tests you and sometimes you keel over. If you survive, you somehow find the strength to keep walking, hoping against hope that your life will limp back to normalcy. What is normal anyhow.
India doesn’t even have these kinds of laws or these benefits so we are not even in the running to be an ideal or a model country (cue in derisive laughter). A country is known by how it treats its poor and helpless citizens, both young and the old, and in that regard India is a terrible country. And I found out our colonizer Britain is no better in spite of having amassed wealth (by leeching off from countries like ours) and in a much better position to help its people.
What are the odds of me peeling an orange at the exact time as Simon Baker is peeling one in The Mentalist? It’s a pity I have never broken off an orange or for that matter an apple from a branch and eaten it (another one for my bucket list). You can call it a coincidence but looking at it as a matter of chance takes the magic out of life and makes the words serendipity or happenstance (if you prefer) redundant. I understand that sometimes you have to let go of fanciful notions and think practically. What. I didn’t get to be three decades old without knowing something about how the world functions.
It wouldn’t do to complicate life by overthinking I have realized. (Turtles All The Way Down was a great help in this regard, thank you John Green). As a bookish reflective sort I have a tendency to brood and try to figure things out (read stew in it) when it should be left to life to sort out the mess.
And here I see Patrick enjoying an orange plucked straight from the tree after knowing something terrible. Don’t dismiss it by saying it’s fiction. There are people who feel deeply but don’t shed tears. I knew such a person. They internalize their grief and hide their disappointments from the world. They deal with it on their own.
There’s always a reason to smile and many reasons to live for, that is if you look at life the glass half full way (sometimes it pays to be an optimist) and not in the pessimistic glass half empty manner. I need to keep reminding myself of that.
Meet Nimisha, the protagonist of Zarreen Khan’s I Quit! What Now? She is a corporate drone (think Ranbir’s character in Tamasha except wittier) and works so hard at her job that she hasn’t had a weekend to herself in a long time. Sounds familiar? She hates her job and the daily grind that comes with the territory. She desperately needs some time off to recharge her batteries and the idea of a sabbatical is planted in her head when her colleague takes one because of her pregnancy. She thinks a sabbatical is the answer to all her problems. But life rarely works as per our plan. She is forced to quit when she isn’t granted a few months off. So she starts off with the list of options typed in her excel sheet, ready to dive in. And we journey with her as she goes through the list, trying things, with hilarious consequences.
Nimisha, fondly called Nimi, lives with her mother and maid. With a distinct personality of her own her maid is one of my favourite characters. Nimi has an elder sister and her nieces adore her. They love the stories she tells them. She has a bunch of friends who keep in touch in spite of their busy lives. Her relationships with friends, family, and office colleagues is portrayed in a real manner and there isn’t a single false note.
Nimi is afraid to make a fool of herself like the rest of us. But she is a diligent worker who hasn’t more or less caught a break in 8 years and feels unappreciated. No wonder the burnout happened.
Nimisha is a likable protagonist but more than that she is flawed and real, like you and me. Initially I couldn’t connect with the corporate droning but I suspect most people would identify with it. After that the pace picked up and I couldn’t stop reading. I haven’t worked in a corporate set up so for me it was looking in from the outside. A fresh perspective, and a scary one at that. I cackled at her jokes in the middle of a wintry night. There was a very real chance of waking people up and making them think I was a lunatic. Continue reading “Book review – I Quit! What Now?”→
People forget and forget so easily. Faces. Names. Feelings. Memories. Everything. Where did it all go? You wonder if it ever really happened in the first place. Where are the keepsakes and the letters? Why don’t people think in what might have beens? Why don’t they hold on till their last breath? Why wasn’t there a last phone call? Why let it go all so easily as if it didn’t matter in the first place at all? Is getting over things so damn easy?
The face in the picture fades. The once loved name ceases to matter. The name which you once worshipped becomes just another word that you know but will never use. The song brings back memories of the days gone by and nostalgia is now tinged with sadness.
Feelings are the worse part,they say. But if you can’t remember that heady feeling, the crest like highs and the bottomless lows, then yours is a heart or a machine, I ask?
Fond memories, warped memories, twisted memories and downright bad memories are all better than having no recollection whatsoever.
What’s the use if everything is so ephemeral, the rational mind harps? You think you have a second chance at everything but you never do. Life is harsh dear girl, get used to it. Shut up, I say. I will listen to you when the time is right (read after I’m dead).
I know everyone is waiting with bated breath for your dreams to shatter, they can enjoy the noise and think, yes we are better off with the practical approach to life. All the pain will be worth it. Now she, the naive whimsical idealistic dreamer will know real pain. Oh victory at last !
O capricious fate you will never win. Not over me. The last laugh may not be mine but it certainly won’t be yours, get it? I live, love , get hurt and go through a gamut of emotions but that doesn’t stop me from delving back in with full force, with all my optimism and enthusiasm. With all I have. Jaded? Me? Never for long. Nothing lasts forever. My yo-yo like nature allows me to spring back from both walk-on-the-cloud-nine happiness and drown-yourself-in-the-drug-of-your-choice sadness. It can happen in an instant and can even take years but happen it will. I am the same old soul, nothing tarnishes me forever.
Who will know the value of dreams if they aren’t shattered? Like the rose tinted glasses I keep handy, it’s okay if they are lost. I will find myself a new one or may be go off without it and see what the fuss is all about.
I am really fond of the month April, not because I was born in April. There are many things about April that I like. Like the lyrical and sweet sound it produces when you roll your tongue and say it, Apprilll.
The weather is sunshiney without being brutal. Clear days with bobbing white clouds, blue skies, starry nights filled with twinkling stars,trees filling with tender green leaves, the scent of mango blossoms in the air and the promise of ripe mangoes in the near future.
Vestiges of spring are still there and summer hasn’t yet begun, it’s the best time to be outdoors and be merry. The lovely wind, the whispering trees, everything feels so cheerful.Vibrant hues everywhere.When you cycle slowly through meandering roads, absorbing the calmness round you, everything is abuzz with a quiet excitement. You can almost hear a hum if you listen just right.
It’s almost infectious, you can’t help but feel jubilant and for no apparent reason. That’s when I thank God I’m alive because I feel alive. To feel alive is the greatest feeling,no words can describe that feeling of quiet contentment emanating from within.
Ah the school days, the anticipation of the all things to come in the vacation ahead. So many life enriching things to do, places to visit, people to discover, games to invent, story books to read. Almost a never ending list of things to do.
I remember the days, when flying high on a swing felt like a slice of heaven, playing hide and seek in the buildings around, jumping from trees an act of bravura and helping people do their homework an act of greatest goodwill and sacrifice.
April has always signified a time for new beginnings. The new class in the school year started in April bringing with it a sense of adventure and excitement, of shared joys and sorrows, sharing tiffins and lives, playing hopscotch and land and water, of having a favourite teacher and getting a good word from her making your day, crying over silly things like losing a pencil box your best friend had gifted or somebody not inviting you to their birthday party. No competition just blissful coexistence.That was life.The good old days.
Good things always come to an end but while they lasted memories were created for a lifetime, which can be retrieved at will and even gone back to whenever the need arises. An attack of nostalgia is always good. A time machine would have been even better but I live in the real world so I have to take what I can get.
For me April signifies all is that good in life in the truest sense of the word.
Ergo, April is life.