Sunday, March 29, 2015

2014 in a Playlist

The year 2014 had all the characteristics of a long-running seinen manga series. It starts out at a breakneck pace, then skates at an aggravating 30 km/hr  and then accelerates into hyper speed leaving you reeling from the inertia when it comes to a stop. In fact, the momentum of 2014 carried you a long way into 2015 before you realised the temporal shift. And I might have strayed from my metaphor a bit. Before I descend further into incomprehension, here is what 2014 sounded like.

January: Sympathatique- Pink Maritini
...Je ne veux pas travailler...Lyrics translation.

On one hand, your deadline is getting uncomfortably close. On the other your reading list is far from comprehensive and your writing feels reprehensible. There is a 99.9% guarantee that your thesis will be unread and that the 0.1% that would flip through it would have a great laugh at the giant joke that is it's academic credibility. Not the most encouraging state of affairs or mind. Worse so, when your folks are under the misconception that you are at least halfway done. Made still worse by the fact that you are getting married in three months.
It's all going down any way. Let's just close our eyes in ostrich-like denial, eat cake and hope to forget.

February: I can see clearly Now- Jimmy Cliff
...Gone are the dark clouds that had me blind...

A change of place and the bolstering presence of the indomitable mater pumped life into the flat-lined writing and made the thesis more possible and the deadline less like an death sentence. Apparently, multi-tasking really gets the creative juices flowing. Having something to divide your attention puts an end to obsessing over the writing process and gets you writing instead. Apparently juggling wedding tailoring, invitation print collection and review and trips to multiple family conclaves and writing 200 pages of theory centered thesis, textual analysis, check-listing sources and maneuvering  around the MLA handbook rules for citation gets the job done. Dinner was punctuated by summaries of pages written and wedding projects completed.
Naturally, the one person who knows my thesis better than me is my mother.

March: Thaka thaka- OST Neram
...neram poraa...*

My deadline is the skinny guy in the video. And the Vetti Raja that is the wedding waits around the corner. 'Nuf said. Back to writing.
*Translation: Not enough time.

April: We are the Champions- Queen and Maangalyam OST Bangalore Days

We allow ourselves a slow-motion walk as we exit the admin office post-thesis submission, only to run double time to to make it for the wedding and the madness that precedes it. The Wedding (the capitals are warranted), featuring the amazing organisation skill of the Pater-Mater duo, was made super by the presence of friends old,new, and awesome without exception, and further brightened by family whose degree of amazing defies description. Thank you. Your supernatural, extra-brilliant kindness makes the world a wonderful place.

May: Frog in my Throat- Resham George. Recording unavailable
...I lost my voice to a frog in my throat.. Whyyyy?...

Post Wedding, travels and visa application, the reunion with spouse is blighted by the worst throat infection in the author's life. It was like the strep had waited all these years just to rev up to throat-closing virulence; consequently freaking the hell out of the Mister who is now under the impression that the Missus is a wilting violet. He got to try out the 'in sickness and in health' clause early on.  *Cough, Khakh khahh, cough.*

June-July: Grey Sky Eyes- Carbon Leaf welcome me in with your veil that's so thin, but your mystery continues to grow...

Post-Wedding and way past pleasantries, we find ourselves wondering what exactly is the deal with the other person in the story. While Mister has the healthy distraction of occupation, the student fresh out of school has little to ponder than the working of this newly acquired curious specimen.
Thankfully, intervention in the form of a beloved aunt who contributed editing work and other distractions saved both sanities. Meanwhile, the academic door remains ajar with a conference in the horizon. Paper time.

August: Lemon Tree- Fools Garden
...wasting my time I got nothing to do...

Ok fine, there's  this one conference paper. But protracted stasis especially after the flurry of activity that preceded the isle of calm, or the desert of joy as it were, has a way of messing with your equilibrium. You start waiting for something to happen and sip lemonade. But nothing ever happens... and you wonder...

September: We are One Tonight- Switchfoot
... I don't want to lose the common ground...

A return to the motherland becomes a site of social rehabilitation. A complex maneuver comes into play requiring one to navigate around fledgling relationships. Relearning how to learn people, can be quite a challenge. To take in their differences without becoming defensive of your own is emotional rocket science, especially when you try too hard. But the common ground brings us together and we remember that this is not a competition. We are on the same side. And we are just dreaming out loud.

October-November: I have a life that's Good- Lennon and Maisy
...two arms around me and heaven to ground me and a family that always calls me home...

When you are mostly on your own for at least 8 years and suddenly get a two month stretch with your family where you are free to give and receive full attention, you experience a full-body vibration of goodness that you now recognise as something very special and very very rare. This feeling brings out contradictory emotions. You realise that regardless of whatever you've told yourself so far, you do have something to lose. At the same time, you realise whether or not you have anything else, you have this.

December: Sthirata nahi nahi re-Sadashiva Brahmendra
...manasa sthirata nahi nahi re... Lyrics Translation
It was a long and dark December, as Coldplay put it.

The confusion of a rescheduled viva flowed into the awkwardness of a conference bristling with academic celebrities. The buzz of daily mundanities is cut by a soft voice which speaks gently of death and suddenly there is a crack in mirror of your mind. All our annoyances seem so small. All our joys so petty. Our triumphs so guilty. How do you contain loss so profound it isn't really assimilated into your pysche? A living laughing memory beside the fatal knowledge that she is gone. Even a long life can be very short. Death is always more difficult for those left behind-- they have the difficult task of returning to the land of the living.

2014 was a landmark year. The kind of year that Dickens used as a model when he wrote "It was the best of times and the worst of times." The short span of 365 days stretched our erstwhile untested limits and we come out of it winded but wiser. 2015 looks to be a gentler year, and let us hope with Browning-like optimism that the best is yet to be.

Live long and prosper.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Er...Um... I'm back. Heh heh heh *Sheepish Shuffle*

The Creator has given the Author one page time to make her case. The reader sits as jury.

The next worst thing after an accusatory glance induced guilt trip, is the non-accusatory, understanding-face induced one. And The World According to Me, has perfected the art. (Taking lessons from the Mater, behind my back, are you?)

Following her release from the Thesis-Defense, The Author has been attempting to retrieve her lost writing habit since late 2014. There are at least five initiated posts to corroborate this statement. However, the incredible high of being on a vacation-- a real one, not a quick set of snatched holidays where most of your contraband fun is adulterated with guilt or the thought of the aggravated work load on return-- effectively wiped out any writerly conscientiousness. And hence, aforementioned five posts remain in production. And every shamefaced click back to Blogger's doorstep saw an abashed retreat. The New Years Playlist, stayed unplayed, the latest update of Dr.Ames's Diagnostic manual remains dormant, the Wedding Saga episodes await conclusion...  The Author confesses the sins of the past, in hopes that they may not be repeated and grows wiser.

Freedom is a heady drug, that makes time behave outside the laws of man-made physics. Given the nature of 2014, this temporal anarchy is in character. However, time is an ocean of our creation, as much as we are fish in that endless sea. Some say time is linear, others that it is cyclical. The Author believes that direction is pointless and we make the best of what is given to us and take direction from our surroundings (This may also be because she has no sense of direction) Freedom is Eden, but as a wise teacher of Shakespeare once said, Eden is for exile or holiday, one cannot live in Eden. It is time to return.

And The World According to Me, smiling and brilliant as always, calls the Author back to the land of the living, leaving behind her lotus-eating days. To misquote the Bard, The World According to me, must be peopled. Won't you join us?