A Suitable Boy

I found Vikram Seth’s A Suitable Boy at the back of the cupboard after searching for it in all the usual places. It was a trial getting it out but I did it without damaging anything. Aired and dusted I’m ready for his words to shine a warmth this dreary winter. I bought the book, rather my father found this lovely copy for me from a bookshop in Bombay nearly a decade ago when a friend rated it highly on Goodreads. This is my second attempt at completing the book but third attempt finishing the book. I already know what will happen having read the relationship parts staying up one wintry night to find the answer to the million dollar question – who will Lata marry? If you don’t know what I’m talking about then you probably weren’t born in the last three decades. And you have been living under a rock (the size of Antarctica?) because it is being adapted for screen and it was everywhere on social media. I know it is abominable and I usually don’t spoil books like that. I was unwell then and couldn’t sit much so reading it in its entirety (the longest novel ever!) was out of question. Ergo, I found a way to get to the end without breaking my back and straining my wrists. Now I have decided I won’t be taking a risk. I will be reading it on the table, sitting on the chair near the window with sun on my face, if I’m lucky. Winter will be infused with the warmth of his words. If you have seen the book you will know what I mean and mine is the first edition, a hardbound copy with golden pages which is older than me.
Advertisements

To catch a bus

One fine Sunday against my better judgement I decided to step out of the house and take the bus as usual. I thought it’s Sunday and the bus would be relatively empty but it was jam packed like weekdays. (I’m talking butt to butt cramming. You don’t want to experience the horror.) The entire city decided to grow a conscience and use the public transport on the same day. Please increase the number of buses, BMC (= Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation).

The light shrug I was wearing went into my bag as soon I got out of the house and started walking. I should have done the same with the woollen stole when I still had my hands free. Because it was hot and sweaty inside the crowded bus and being unable to peel off layers is the stuff of nightmares. You are dressed for the winter outside but it’s summer on the inside.

The swiveling over road humps, bumping into the mass of humanity was almost painful. I like fun rides but they belong in an amusement park. This is icky not thrilling. It was filled beyond capacity and the conductor was still taking on more  passengers. Am I the only one who thinks he’s bonkers? The conductor was hanging outside the bus. Literally. I’m not kidding. These were dire circumstances.

The ladies seats were occupied by lovely gents and today I wasn’t able to get the conductor to give the ladies their seats. I asked once and he ignored me. Sometimes I am too tired to argue. These men should be seat shamed for taking ladies seats and  they sit there almost flaunting it, daring people to call them out on it. What can we do? it’s a pity there’s no provision to make citizen’s arrest in India. Continue reading “To catch a bus”

Andrea Barrett’s The English Pupil

Time flies. Staying at home for extended periods of time when I was unwell I could feel the passage of seasons, days going by excruciatingly slow, each day with its own set of struggles and now I cannot believe such a large chunk of time has passed. The descent of time?

Ship Fever by Andrea Barrett is a collection of short stories I wanted to reread as soon as I finished the book, and it has taken me nearly two years to do it. I bought The Voyage of Narwhal immediately after finishing it, and recently The Air We Breathe has come into my possession but I still haven’t read them. What am I scared of  – her not meeting my exceeded expectations or idiotically trying to collect all her other books (very hard to find in India) while not reading the ones I do have. Life is too short to wait for a complete collection. You read along and hope for the best.

In The English Pupil, Carolus Linnaeus is nostalgic for the past and remembers his apostles (read pupils), who went about the world carrying forward his legacy, sending him specimens and discovering new species. All of his apostles are dead now, and he’s inching closer towards his own.

Linnaeus and his wife remind me of an old couple, who are in the autumn of their lives and are not at peace with it or with each other. (What is the point of companionship then?) His wife doesn’t care about his work or his legacy. His work fulfilled him but didn’t make him rich. The family’s demands weren’t being met and to her that was what mattered the most. She was the pragmatic sort. A dreamer has to be paired with a realist. It is a question of survival, you see. Continue reading “Andrea Barrett’s The English Pupil”

What’s the plan?

What do you to say to someone, who is a new acquaintance and has no idea where you come from, and thinks that she sees you as you are (how is a conversation or two enough to know a person that I will never know but yes there are exceptions), sees so much potential in you that you wonder if you know yourself at all (lasts for one shaky moment and then it passes as quickly as it had come), and wonders out loud (while you are standing right there) about what are you doing with your life. What’s the plan now? I am sick of this question and I suppose people are sick of waiting for me to figure things out.

It is in everyone’s best interest to shrug it off and run as fast from the conversation and the person in question. I will run as fast as my hypermobile joints will carry me and as long as I don’t end up in a hospital, it should be fine. On a completely unrelated note, it’s true the sure thing boat does not take you anywhere and even if you can’t run your own life, you can at least run away from it, and wallow in self pity. Till life smacks you back into place and drills some sense into your stubborn skull, beyond which there is hopefully a receptive and working brain.

An acquaintance was shocked  when I said that I had decided not to work in the field I was interested in at the moment and she took it to mean forever. Why are people so quick to jump to conclusions and worse, they think they have all the facts? It is difficult to explain the present as it is, forget about the past. It has taken years (basically all my life) to become the person I am today.

How do you explain the many false starts and disappointments? How being ill played spoilsport and took away even the will to live? They cannot be so casually dismissed and taken so lightly as people do. Words fail to communicate where and when they are needed the most.

Keeping mum is the only thing to do here since explanations will always fall short. Trust me, I have tried explaining and it serves no purpose other than making me look like a babbling idiot, frothing slightly at the mouth with a glint in my eyes (She is gone bonkers is what they believe and I do nothing to convince them otherwise). Total radio silence is sometimes the best thing.

But if you can bask in the glory of nothingness and be at peace with where you are in life, and proclaim it gleefully to the world then there is nothing better than that. Sit back and enjoy the puzzled looks on their faces as they try to reconcile what they see with what they know about your situation, and how you should feel.

Stop the day : a procrastinator’s plea

In the stillness of the early morning
I can hear thoughts of past, present and future in my head
along with the  birds chirping out loud in the garden.
I feel the warmth of the sunlight,
the winter hasn’t yet taken all the warmth away.
The possibility of the day’s events
not yet dampened by what it could have been.
Not a hint but a full fledged promise of a new day.
The day can be anything I want it to be 
 I shape my own destiny.
The warmth of a yellow sun
is more than what I can bear. 
The sunlight too bright glares at me
hurting my eyes.
I have been under the covers far too long.

Instead of basking in the sun
I draw the curtains back into place
shutting the sun-lighted world out.
I retreat into my unmade bed
to fall back asleep.

My warm safe place
where unformed stories, half finished dreams and nightmares live together.
There’s always tomorrow to shape my Destiny.
I snooze a little more till the blinding sun has left
a mellow one in its place.