Architecture of Farewell

Aside

I’ve pondered
on the architecture of farewell,
without the benefit
of hindsight –
final or not
the hope in platitudes
“we will meet again”
or just the pretense

yes
there are alternatives

clean lines and angles
no frills
functional

or the flamboyant ones
trying to hide
the fissures
of pain, and longing
with exaggerated
embellishments

some are obsessed
with forms –
austerity for the sake of it
or defense
against emotional avalanche
safety first

some are obsessed
with norms
holding back colors
for the fear
of being judged
projecting facades
false doors
or windows
over solid walls

the architecture of farewell
defines
the ambiance
of spaces
left behind


Inspired by a line in Alexander McCall Smith’s book Trains and Lovers:

“He looked up at the vaulted ceiling of the great railway station. It is indifferent to parting, he thought. And then he thought: the architecture of farewell. The architecture of love. The architecture of loss.”

You’re In Love

love

you’re in love

you’re in love with the idea of someone

you’re in love with the idea of someone
who's in love with you

you’re in love with the idea of someone
who's in love with the idea of you

you’re in love with the idea of
being in love, with someone

you’re in love, with the idea of
being in love, with an idea of someone

you’re in love with your being in love
with the idea of being in love with
the idea of someone
you’re an idea of love

you’re an idea of being in love
with the idea of love

for you
love is the idea
of being someone
you think you are

for you
love is the idea
of being someone
you are in
someone’s idea
of you

for you
love is the idea
of being someone
you are in
someone’s idea
of you being
in love

for someone
love is the idea
of you
being someone
you have no idea
if you ever wanted
to be

but since you
are in love
with someone
or your idea of someone
for whom
love is the idea
of you being someone
you have no idea
if you ever wanted
to be
you fall in love 
with the idea
of yourself
being someone’s
idea of who 
they want you
to be
Inspired by R. D. Lang’s Knots, for those who aren’t aware of him — the rest would guess anyways. 

The Reassuring Banality

we should live on 
embracing
the reassuring banality
of life

yes I know,
we long for 
the magical
the ethereal

pure platonic relationships
perfection  
the Atlantis
or a unicorn

we want to live
in a world 
of dreams
with no place 
for the banal
the trite
the commonplace

we want 
to be engulfed
by the magical spell
stay in the zone
walk on the water
fly without wings
find the zen
the nirvana

but how long
before the magical
will turn banal?
the sublime 
seem usual
the unicorns seem
real, and lose
their mythical charm?

for wasn't the banal
magical yesterday?
wasn't the commonplace
mythical the day before?

we have lived
the dream of 
science fiction writers
of yore
hating every waking 
moment of it

if I can devise 
time travel,
I will go and spoil
all the fun 
for H. G. Wells

tomorrow is like
today, or yesterday

and if we can't embrace
the reassuring banality
of existence
if we can't live 
this moment
in all its 
unremarkable banality
it will become yesterday
today

Why We Write

Before I go on and on into tangents, which is pretty much a certainty, who exactly is this ‘we’? Well, it’s “people like us”, that term which is gaining worldwide popularity. But since I cannot really know about anyone other than myself (and even myself, if mystics are to be believed, till I meditate deep and long, something which is beyond me for now) I couldn’t possibly speak about a ‘we’ or ‘us’, not with any authenticity (another word that’s enjoying upward mobility). And yet I am choosing a we because I believe some of what I’m saying is not unique to me. Yes, I don’t think I’m that unique.

That said, why do we write?

And I use the word write to encompass everything from poetry, prose, fiction (long or short), non-fiction, blogs (regular, micro, mini, nano and so on), except, topical blogs/articles, self-help books, and so on (not because I think they’re inherently inferior, or anything, just because in that case we already know the answer — we write them in the hope of making steady/large money or name or both). So consider this. Today, in the post-internet world of self-publication taken to its logical extreme, there are millions of posts published on blogs every day (http://www.quora.com/Blogging/How-many-blog-posts-are-written-every-day). There are millions of book published in the world (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Books_published_per_country_per_year) every year. And so on.

So while you’re working (or not even working) on that dream first book of yours, without a plot or outline in sight, say, in one year, a million more books will be written. Let me correct that — millions. Out of these a few million will be forgotten because they’ll never see the light of the day. A few million will see the light of the day, because of self-publishing say, or some miracle that will make some publisher give a no, but the light will be short-lived. Less said about the blogs the better (especially in the post micro-blogging world).

So why?

For there is hope. There is hope that we will, someday, write that one page which, whatever its fate, will make us feel proud of ourselves for having written it. A page, a story if we’re lucky, or a piece of poetry that captures something fleeting that words were never designed to capture, anything really.

Writing is a hard work (except for some, but they never bother asking questions such as “why we write”). It’s not the actual writing that’s hard, though, most of the times. It’s the agony of not writing that’s hard. It’s finding out what to write about that’s hard. It’s living with the disappointment of seeing on page a distorted, lynched embodiment (ironically) of a beautiful thought you thought you had captured in your mind, and were trying to capture in words before they turned treacherous, hiding from you when you needed them most, and to live with the knowledge that it was you who did the butchering — that’s hard. It’s being told by writers who have made it, that you need to read-read-read before you write, and then to follow the advice and read-read-read, and to find out that where you were standing had just been a quicksand that did not gobble you only because you did not really try to go anywhere; that what you wrote yesterday, and even felt proud about today seems like a piece of juvenile crap, and to see this process repeated over and over again, so that you’re trying to run like Alice just to stay where you are — that’s hard. It’s telling yourself one day that you have it in you, and to doubt it the very next day — that’s hard. And I’m not even talking about what happens when you actually have something which you may want to consider publishing (mainly because I don’t have any such thing, but more so because that’s post writing, even though it means rewriting, throwing away, rethinking).

There is that aftermath of read, read, read to deal with. I mean, why do we write, after reading Marquez making a child’s play out of that tight-rope walk called fiction writing, say? Or after being dazzled by Rilke’s sublimity? Or any of those greats, living and dead, taking the art to a different level, a different plane?

Is ‘because we love the sheer joy that creating something brings you’ a good-enough answer for that? Does it really? Like when that something is an amateur attempt that you’re afraid to show even to your most partial fan, fearing s/he’d see through it?

Can a skeptic ever be a writer? For isn’t writing — especially sharing your writing with the world — a supreme leap of faith? Can a person who has that strong a faith really be skeptical of other faiths?

Maybe, it’s more pragmatic than that? Maybe, it’s just wishful thinking? Maybe it’s just denial? Maybe it’s just the utter inability to judge one’s own work because of confirmation bias (e.g. “I can so relate to that, how can anyone not?”). Maybe it’s just hardheadedness.

Maybe it’s a mixture of it all.

But we write. We get frustrated. We get dejected even. We say no more, ever again. And yet we write. Because it’s a kind of itch that has no known cure. Or so we like to tell ourselves. And when we stop scratching, it goes away.

The Power of Halwai — review of Chennai Express

So yes, I watched my first film in theaters after four years. Or five, maybe. The last one was Quantum Of Solace, which I watched thanks to my wife’s cousins who wanted to watch a movie. Any movie. It fit the requirement quite well — and that’s about it. Today, it was thanks to my wife — one of the biggest SRK fans. I went in with a lot of trepidation. How does one tolerate three hours of one Mr. Shetty — who makes David Dhawan look like a quality film maker, and one Mr. Khan — who given such directors, is like a maniac on steroids.

Image

Power of ‘common man’. The common man is in front with the hot girl. In the background are all the uncommon species.

But, my fears were proved entirely unwarranted. Not that the movie wasn’t everything I feared it to be (it was more!). But after first few minutes, the fear kind of became irrelevant. And what got me really excited was the mouth-watering prospect that this was a critics movie.

Yes, you heard it right. This is no movie for the masses, mind you. This is a movie made for the critics. In first few minutes you’d have those fun hating snobs salivating at their mouths at the prospect of a perfect 10 — for reviewing the film, that is.

Continue reading

Hence Cooked (Review of Michael Pollan’s Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation)

Or is Emily Matchar reading challanged?

Cooked400x290I cannot thank Emily Matchar enough for making me take up Michael Pollan’s Cooked for immediate reading. Of course, I’d have picked it up sooner, rather than later, as I’m an unabashed Pollan fan. But Matchar’s piece in Salon (actually the headline), really made me take notice of the book.

Matchar’s piece, is of course, not about Cooked. But it’s timing is curious. Just within week or so of the book’s publication comes the sensational headline. What’s more, lot of quotations used by Matchar (selectively and incompletely at that, but we’ll get to that), are from Pollan’s older New York Times piece “Out of the Kitchen, Onto the Couch” — which, incidentally is one of the originating material for Cooked.

Enough about Matchar. For now, at least. Continue reading

Em for Imelda, P for Poignancy and Pinto

I cannot recall the first time the name Jerry Pinto captured my attention. Back in high-school days, I had asked the paperwallah to deliver Sunday Times — because I wanted to improve my language, and English reading (yes, believe it or not, back then the now much maligned TOI, and especially its Sunday edition, with glossy yet quality supplement, was pretty much a big deal). Problem was, the paper would be delivered Sunday afternoon, as it would be printed only in Mumbai back then (explaining its quality, my Mumbaikar wife may add), and by the time it reached my hometown, it was half a day gone. And yet, I would wait with anticipation for the afternoon delivery — my only other window back then to the ‘other’ world (apart from the iconic The World This Week — from the same NDTV productions that’s enjoying the same fate of empty success).

em-and-the-big-hoomJerry Pinto, was pretty much a part of that other world. The world that I did not share with my peers, and neighbors. And although I don’t recall when I got hooked on to his articles, I recall one particular article that I had (yes — we used to do that in those days) cut-up and filed in one of my binders. Sadly the binder’s lost now, and so is the article (and I tried googling but alas, I still haven’t found it). In it, Pinto shred to pieces two of the biggest bollywood hits of the time DDLJ and HAHK. Hang on. Not for they being meaningless entertainment, but because they seemed to be harbingers of (and I may be off the mark on this, this is 18 years or so back memory) an age that had renounced rebellion for conformity. Okay, maybe that’s what I read from the article, because that’s pretty much what I wanted to read from it, but that’s not the point. Pinto had become one of my idols. Continue reading