On My Journey with Poetry

In school, I sincerely believed that I could understand Shakespeare and poetry only if I studied English in college.

I realised by the end of school that Shakespeare wasn’t as bad as I had made him to be in my head. I read Julius Caesar and As You Like It in 11th grade and then there was no turning back. With close attention and some assistance from Google, I was all set.

But poetry continued to intimidate me. Even when I started studying English in college, my approach to it was as if I was trying to sail through a terrible storm.

I was blessed with wonderful teachers in college, and they held my hand as I made my way forward. They gave us some clues and tips but allowed us to make our own exploration.

During my first year in college, we studied poetry starting for Chaucer up to the Victorian age. Before the end of the first year, I was already in love with poetry. But at the time I believed that the beauty lay in the rhythm of the words – in the beat and the sound and the rhymes and the alliteration and the tune.

I enjoyed reciting Tennyson and Browning out loud. I’d listen to Alan Rickman’s recitation of my favourite sonnet over and over again. And I thought John Donne’s The Flea was actually pretty awesome.

In second year we were introduced to the Romantics and the Modern poets and that’s when I had to face what I then believed was blasphemy – free verse. I remember telling my professor that I though free verse was simply a bunch of sentences with major grammatical errors. She just smiled and said that she’d like to know what I thought about it on my graduation day.

I enjoyed Coleridge and Byron; I absolutely loved Keats (and still do! I remember reading Ode to a Nightingale and thinking – well, THIS is poetry) but I never quite got Wordsworth. Except a few lines that caught my eye, Wordsworth never touched my heart. Perhaps because I have always been more comfortable in cities; while the countryside is beautiful, I could spend only my holidays there – not a lifetime. Another poem I really loved was Alexander Pope’s Ode to Solitude. I understood then what people meant when they said a poem “spoke to them.”

But there were two things that made my second year in college most remarkable –

  1. Stephen Spender’s Elegy to Margaret: The most poignant verses every written; the most heartfelt elegy to a loved one.Couldn’t find a link to the entire poem online, so let me just quote:

    Yet those we lose, we learn
    With singleness to love;
    Regret stronger than passion holds
    Her the time remove:
    All those past doubts of life, her death
    One happiness does prove.

  1. The beginning of my love affair with W.B. Yeats [which I struggled with when I read about her personal life, but over the years I have made my peace with it]. Yeats is GENIUS. He is the best.

His powerful words and imagery have been with me ever since that first time I read The Second Coming on the train on my way to college.

I was in my third year and I still couldn’t wrap my mind around most of modern poetry. [Seamus Heaney was an exception. I read Mid-Term Break and I was sad for weeks afterword. I think it was the first time a poem made me cry. Auden was pretty great too, but I think I liked him because he wrote a fabulous elegy for Yeats]

A friend recommended Jack Kerouac’s On The Road during the autumn break that year. I fell in love with the writing; it just… flowed. I was fascinated and I read more about him, and that’s how I discovered The Beats. [Our syllabus focused on Indian and British Literature. The only American poets we studied were Whitman and Dickinson]

Oh what a time that was! I felt like I had found a whole different world – of madness and freedom and anarchy. And that’s when my endless internet trolling led to me a recording of Allen Ginsberg reciting his magnum opus Howl. [Love the animation in this video]

Mind. Blowing.

I understood then what the hullaballoo about free verse was. It truly set you free. To use words as you please, to create a unique rhythm, to allow the words to form their own music, for the beat to arise from the string of passionate words that were just seamless – like the ferocious flow of a river. It was powerful and emancipating. I may not agree with a lot of what he says, but it is a stellar poem nonetheless.

I then went back to Whitman and Eliot and Auden and read their poems aloud – a full-throated recitation. It was poetry, it really was. One didn’t need a rhyming scheme and a meter to create poetry. One only needed to feel. And the ability to translate that into words without any inhibition.

It wasn’t always passionate the way Ginsberg was. Every poet had a unique style and quality. This was something I observed most clearly in Indian poets [who wrote in English. I am not very well verse with Indian poetry in other languages, except some poetry in Hindi, Urdu and Tamil] There was the quiet resilience in the works of Kamala Das, the poignant observations of Arun Kolatkar, the love of words and life and Bombay in Nissim Ezekiel’s poetry, the sheer brilliance on the simple tranquillity in the poems of Adil Jussawala.

While exploring Indian poetry, I also found some wonderful translations of Rumi, Hafez, Ghalib, Hiraoka and Basho. I wondered what I had been doing all my life – I’d spent over 20 years unaware of the existence of these gems.

There are still poems that I find difficult to understand, especially some works of Ezra Pound and Alice Oswald and many others. But they don’t intimidate me – it is only a beautiful mystery I must take time to unravel.

It was only towards the end of college that I consciously took notice of the world of poetry that was beyond what I had learned in college. One couldn’t always classify poetry in convenient categories based on time periods and genres. There was so much to read, so much to explore – and just like any subject in the world, you can never claim to have read it all. And that’s wonderful, because you always have something new to discover.

My perspectives have also evolved – I find more meaning in some poems I had read all those years back, while some seem less appealing than they did then. My tastes have changed and expanded; but even today, I do enjoy a verse in a perfect iambic pentameter.

Poetry, today, is my good friend. It offers little joys and some sorrows and some music and some wonderful evenings. It accompanies me wherever I go and inspires me in moments of sadness. I am grateful.

Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing there is a field.

I’ll meet you there.

– Rumi

PS – Having quoted Rumi, let me also post a poem by my dear friend Sookie. It is one of the most important poems written in this century, and throws light on a topic we all come across in our daily lives but are embarrassed to discuss 😉 Presenting –

Ode to Panties:

There was once a young girl in ASR’s office

who purchased underwear like a novice.

they tugged and twisted at all wrong times,

she twitched and flailed to hide their crimes.

 

Cheap polyester gave her rashes

expensive lace gave her itches.

mixed cotton stuck to her skin

and nylon was its closest kin.

 

 A miracle occurred during junk food run

when she pulled a package just for fun.

Lo! Behold! A panty fell

was it destiny, she couldn’t tell

 

Caressing fingers all but sighed

the item was immediately purchased.

she is now a darling of the parties

thanks to her lovely Jockey panties.

– Sookie

On Tinder-ing

Until this morning, I was unaware of the existence of Tinder. I was made to Google it by a dear friend who insisted that I stop living under a rock. It opened my eyes to the world of online dating. Dating – not a matrimony site. So the search results didn’t make me want to just shut down my browser. So there really exists this world – one that seems rather popular and one I was completely oblivious to. I wonder what that says about me. I am a nerd, but the nerd-iest of my friends seem to be aware of this Tinder business. So I decided to get out of my hole and download the App. It has a pretty white woman (obviously) on the download badge but then so do most other apps. I decided not to care. The download complete, I proceeded to check out the App

  1. First thing – my profile. “Description” – I always fumble when such questions are posed. It is as bad as a job interview where they ask – “Okay, tell us something about yourself.” What is one to tell them? That I find that question boring and I am interested in their job and I also really want the money?

    This is similar; only you’re looking for the job of a “girlfriend” or whatever the hell one wants to be called.

    I also find it weird to have to tailor your profile to get someone to be “interested” in you. How is that done – and without lying? What end purpose will that serve? I decided to come back to this later and work on the rest of my profile first.

  1. I tend to be rather anal (read paranoid) about online security. I can conjure up in my head the worst-case scenario for just about everything. Especially the things that can happen if my personal details are available in public. Publicly available photographs are the worst.

    I just could not get myself to put up photos, especially ones where my face is completely visible. I could vividly imagine every creepy old man and peeping tom doing the worst things.

    I managed to get myself to upload that one picture with me under the tree where my round figure looks somewhat flattering and the tree is more visible than my face. The voices in my head screamed “hypocrite”

  1. It seems one has to turn on location services in order for the App to suggest your “match”. I can barely turn on location services for Facebook or Uber. But to do that for a dating app?

    My hands refused to cooperate. The worst-case scenarios in my head worsened as the Criminal-Minds-like-psycho-stalkers did terrible things with my location.

Even if I did find some “match”, I would probably spend my time looking for signs of a psychopath rather than looking into the man’s eyes. Sigh In the two hours I spent with my phone this morning, I learnt that mobile-online-dating are not for me. Nope.

On Packing and Moving

We are moving to a new city.

When I think about leaving the city I was born and raised in, the city I have spent all but a year of my life in, and the city I love more than any other place in the world, the sense of nostalgia and loss that overwhelms me is inexplicable.

But before moving, there is packing. Packing is both nostalgic and interesting. And often makes me wonder if I’m a hoarder. Or someone who never lets go of the past. Or a world-class collector of plastic bags and gift-wraps and rubber bands.

Here are some of the things I discovered in the process of packing. [It was less of packing and more of gutting the crap from all our cupboards]

  1. God is everywhere. No, not metaphorically. He is actually everywhere. In calendars and key chains and pen stands and boxes and paperweights. And no one in my family, including me, can get themselves to throw these away. You can’t actually, physically, throw “god” into the garbage. Just, CANNOT. But a lot of these things are of no use to us. How many key chains can one really use? So we just keep them all in a box. Stationary inside a box inside a box inside a box. And these will stay inside the box forever. Because, you know, theres god inside it.
  1. God is everywhere. Really. My father is named after one of rather popular Hindu deities. Everyone we know has at some point thought it rather ingenious to gift him a small or big statue of that deity. Now we have hundreds of them. Will have to set aside a shelf at our new house that can be bedecked by these beauties. [To be honest, not all of them are beauties. But as I said, one cannot throw god into the bin :D]
  1. I have collected and preserved every single letter and greeting card I have received since I was 11. EVERY SINGLE ONE. All those inside a big box that won’t close any more. What is wrong with me? Some of them are cute, some are special and hold many memories. But why do I have a card from someone who says “Happy Birthday! Can you help me with my math homework tomorrow?
  1. I store empty boxes and bottles. Of lotions and creams and oils and spices and cookies. Some because I think they will be useful in future, and some because they are too pretty to be in the trash. I think I have used one of them just once in all these years. It will break my heart, but I have decided to throw these away.
  1. Cassettes! I was a mad collector of audio-cassettes before Steve Jobs and the iPod. They were my dearest possessions for the longest time. I spent hours listening to them. How can I discard them? Some of those cassettes are so rare – there are songs that are difficult to find even online. I hunted down every music shop in the city to get hold of some of these. I am okay being called a hoarder. I shall NOT throw these away. There is Dil Se, the album that made me fall in love with A.R. Rahman once and forever. A recording of one of Jagjit Singh’s concerts. A collection of Runa Laila’s songs. The best of Illayraja. S.D. Burman. Hemant Kumar. Pink Floyd. All the creepy Bollywood albums from the 90s. And the non-creepy ones The time when Sonu Nigam looked like an overgrown child and Bipasha Basu wasn’t sexy. So many memories. They are staying with me. No debate.
  1. I love stationary almost as much as I love lists. Diaries, pens, post-its, bookmarks, pencils, crayons, highlighters, paper, fountain pens – the list is endless. I’m sorting through these. Only some will stay. The fountain pens and post-its I guess. The rest – TRASH.
  1. Old footwear. My foot size never grew beyond 3 and half so I still fit into most of my old shoes. But I think I’ll just discard the ones that are old. Pretty sure I won’t be wearing them. Ever.
  1. Plastic bags. I think this is a pathological disorder with many Indian families. This firm belief that all plastic bags must be stored safely for future use, and that they will be of use at some point. I think our family switched to paper and cloth bags quite a few years back. So the plastic bags – TRASH.
  1. Wires and USB cables. Over the years, we may have discarded several electronic devices once they were too old for use – music systems, phones, MP3 players, VHS players. But somehow we managed to forget the poor cables that connected them to power sockets or other devices. The cables are still there. Yards of them. They need to go. TRASH.
  1. Photographs. These don’t go anywhere near the trash. Cherished moments – all stored on film. The ability to revisit old times. When I slept on my grandmother’s lap. Film is the best invention of mankind. Really.

There it is. I know I am yet to discover many more of my idiosyncrasies. But here are some of them.

Have you also experienced something similar? How did you feel when you were moving to another city? Have you also collected inane things? Let me know!

On [Classic] Young-Adult Literature

Young Adult Literature has changed dramatically over the years. When you think about what was considered YA even a few decades back, the shift in writing style and the content is shocking.

It interesting to note the differences – the progression and the regression in the genre:

  1. It speaks volumes of the transition in culture and sentiment over the years – the change in priorities, the ideas of proprietary,  in what is considered attractive, in the attitude/openness of women in accepting their sexuality, etc.

    Of course, in that last aspect, contemporary YA is miles ahead of what it used to be. And that is reason to celebrate.

  2. I think the focus on language and overarching themes has lessened; instead the thrust is now on characters and the relationships between them. Of course YA still deals with themes, but I guess the writing in the early to mid 1900s was more meaty in this regard as society itself was undergoing a massive change and people were still coming to terms with it. That change and conflict is often evident in the writings of the time. Even today YA is a reflection of society, but there is little conscious effort to do so.

    Today, characters and their experiences seem to be the focus. Perhaps because now there is room to explore. The men and women are no longer confined to the dimensions specified by society – of goodness and rightness and masculinity and proprietary and class distinctions and race. (Well, at least they don’t need to be confined. Let’s forget about Twilight, shall we?)

  3. Where things seemed to have moved forward with respect the expression of female sexuality, aspiration and ideal – I think there has been little progress (overall) when we speak of body image. The quintessential good girl may not have been size zero back in the 1930s, but she was still whatever fit the male fantasy at the time – voluptuous, relatively short, golden haired, blue eyed, elegant finger-ed and all things delicate.

    And today, when these women are thin and pale and blonde with big breasts and narrow waists and firm derrieres – this also ends up setting unrealistic ideals for body image that cater only to men.

    And if a woman/girl isn’t any of these things, she is described then as one who is “different” or a “rebel” or any other polite term for “abnormal.” What is common and real is made to look rare and unacceptable in society. It’s a shame.

    [However, a few hours of internet trolling told me this is slowly but surely changing. Especially because a lot of female authors are finding a voice in this genre. I really hope that is true.]

  4. Here’s the thing. When YA lit was gaining popularity in the mid 1900s, it was specifically marketed to schools and libraries and recognized as something that would encourage kids to read.

    Over the years, in academic circles, people have begun to understand that this is something that is catering to young adults and allowing their sentiments and problems, which are usually sidelined by society, to come to the fore. Culturally, over the years, YA lit has become significant.

    However, while it is still serving its original purpose – getting kids and teenagers to read – there seems to have developed a biased against the literary merit of the entire genre. I get why Twilight and the likes would make someone want to puke. But it’s not like you don’t have any bad writing in adult fiction.

    I do admit that a large fraction of YA lit is basically full of useless love triangles with unexplained teenage angst with the major issues only lurking in the background. But then there is a huge load of crap churned out in the name of adult fiction as well. Why this prejudice against YA ?

    The genre is much more than teen-romance. It often deals with real and troubling issues such as the impact of divorce on children, child abuse, bullying, sexual curiosity and awakening, jealousy, peer pressure and many more. In fact, now people seem to have come up with an all new genre called “new-adult” – where the protagonists are not in school, but in college —- basically meaning license for sex.

    It’s ridiculous to not to accept its merit in the field of literature and its contribution to a society that rarely spares a moment to empathize with teenagers.

    [To be frank YA is not my favorite genre. Not even in the top 5. But it’s not because YA is bad, but because I tend to enjoy the others more.]

  5. Theories on language have evolved, I get it. Structure, grammar, vocabulary – all has been challenged. I get it. Language literally holds a mirror to society now. I get it.

    Yet, I enjoy the richness in the writing and language that was used to weave stories and tales in classics such as those mentioned below. It adds another realm to the pleasures of reading. And that also makes them excellent options for re-reads.

So, for those who sometimes wish for a simple romance, for subtlety in emotions and carefully crafted writing, some of the older writings have a timeless charm.

Harry Potter will never be forgotten. And though personally I quite disliked the Hunger Games series, I have a feeling that will also be remembered for a very long time. And some others of the like.

But I would like to list some classic YA novels, ones I think are charming and warm and have a timeless quality to them. I read a lot of these as a teenager and they hold a special place in my heart for that reason. They may or may not be considered better than the stuff that is currently popular, but they are magical 😀

I love these books because they connected with me – the characters, the moments, the relationships, the emotions. And they also got me interested in reading, so I am grateful for that. At the risk of sounding dramatic, let me also add that some of them changed my life. Here we go:

  1. Heidi by Johanna Spyri: It made me imagine the idyllic European countryside – something I had only ever seen on TV. More importantly, despite the exotic setting, here was a young girl I thought I could relate to – one so real that we could perhaps even be friends. It was simple and touching and I felt grown up because I had read a book and the girl in the book lived in Switzerland.

    Years later when I re-read it, I felt the pleasant sense of warm nostalgia waft over me. A delightful read.

    [PS – Yes, this could very well be called Children’s Literature. But it’s in between that and YA, don’t you think?]

  2. I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith: This should be no surprise. Pretty much the ultimate YA novel out there. It’s the best. No debate.
    Wonderful characters, beautiful writing, spectacular setting, a touching love story and the coming-of-age of a lovely young woman.

    I cannot say enough good things about this book. If you haven’t read it, please do so now!

  3. Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery: Gilbert Blythe. NEED I SAY MORE?

    This series somehow manages to find the right balance between idyllic and real.

    Also, for those who have already read this, check out The Blue Castle by Montgomery. Not as well known as some of her other works, it’s an independent book and is just as wonderful as the Anne series. Really.

  4. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce: Easily the most well written book on this list. It’s Joyce we’re talking about, of course the writing is spectacular!

    It takes you through the ideological, intellectual and artistic evolution of the protagonist, Stephen Dedalus.

    It may not be as enjoyable as most YA lit tends to be, but it is definitely worth a read. It has some moments that just hit you so hard – you feel like you’re close to a life changing epiphany.

  5. And now – feminist YA! So we also have The Hero and the Crown by Robin McKinley.

    Aerin is one of the greatest heroes of all time. She breaks all stereotypes and fights for her right to be treated equally with men. Her gender will not decide her destiny. She finds her voice and makes sure she is heard. She is badass.

Here we are –  some wonderful YA lit with awesome characters, great writing, and that special charm that lends them a timeless quality.

P.S – No, Little Women will not make it to this list. I may have loved it when I read it first, but as of today – I pretty much hate that stuff. Nope, Alcott isn’t for me.

On Compulsive Book-Buying

I like books. Not just the book as in the thing you read; I also enjoy books as physical entities. I like holding them and smelling them and looking at them. It’s erotic.

Books can be unbelievably pretty. Anyone with a similar passionate love for books will understand. Ebooks are great for reading and it’s fantastic that you don’t have to look for physical space to store them. But they are not – BOOKS. Physical books – with the cover and the paper and the print – they are irreplaceable. At least to me.

I am often accused of having unhealthy emotional attachments to material objects. Usually it has more to do with the memories it [the object] holds than the monetary value. This holds especially true for books. I like owning them, possessing them – just holding them allows me to relive all of the memories and joys I enjoyed while I was reading them. It’s nostalgic and wonderful and very often a turn-on.

When I was little, I would ask my parents to buy me books, and they would. As I was aware that I was making them spend, I used to be careful and thrifty. When I discovered this adult thing called salary, it blew my mind. I could buy books and not feel guilty. I could choose exactly how much to spend on them. Be responsible for a few months and then go nuts every once in a while.

Few months back, I quit my job. I wanted to do “what I enjoyed.” Unfortunately, what I enjoy only allows you to buy peanuts. Because, when you’re paid peanuts, you can only afford peanuts. The job is actually pretty good, except now it isn’t salary but savings that I need to dip into in order to purchase books.That hurts. Salary is good – there is movement – inflow and outflow. With savings, it’s only outflow. For a painfully frugal [except in book-buying] person like me – this situation is terrible. It really is.

So I have ditched bookstores and resorted to discount-hunting on Amazon. [Only options as there are no good libraries around] Bookstores are now solely for window shopping. But God, I love e-retail. And this cut-throat competition between Snapdeal and Flipkart and Amazon. The discounts are awesome. But the biggest perk is this – Amazon allows you access to various editions of books that are otherwise not available in bookstores in India.

A lot of the editions available in India, especially those of classics, are pretty awful. Tiny print, super-thin paper, poor binding, often full of typos. I hate Rupa Publications with a vengeance. I bought a whole lot of “Rupa Classics” in college because they were reasonably priced. Now I am in the process of slowly buying other editions of all those books. Because Rupa cannot publish anything that doesn’t have a whole lot of typing errors.

Thank God for Penguin. They offer some good editions in India as well. But I’ve lived in UK for more than a year and I also know what we DON’T get here.

Coming back to the point, Amazon (India) allows you access to better (and prettier!) editions, often at discounted rates. It makes me want to spend more than I would otherwise, but I have been trying to exercise self-control and rational thinking. [I don’t mention Flipkart because with respect to books, Flipkart prices are nowhere near as competitive as Amazon India.  Also, Flipkart just entered this agreement, so I officially hate them]

Any way, in my quest for the aforementioned self-control, this compulsive book buyer has decided to make a list of reasons she shouldn’t (and should!) buy books. Because this compulsive book-buyer is also a compulsive-list-maker.

I shall start with why it okay to keep buying books –

  1. I saved well when I was earning, i.e, I have the resources to buy books.
  2. I still have some space to store new books
  3. I read a quite a lot, so they aren’t really show pieces
  4. I am buying them on discount

Why I shouldn’t keep buying books –

  1. It gives me real heartache and pain to see only “debits” in my account statement
  2. I already own a lot of books that are still on my To-Be-Read list. Must get to them first.
  3. I don’t have much of an income at this point. [More heartache. And to think I made my choice to avoid further heartache! Although,to be perfectly honest, I’d still pick my current heartache over the earlier shitty-job heartache]
  4. I can’t think of a Number 4. Does that mean I can continue to buy books?

Book buying is no sin. But I’m guessing over-indulgence is not a good thing. Perhaps a little self-control might prove to be better than a nagging sense of guilt and fear of monthly account statements. I am already scared of heights and bees and holes. I don’t need one more thing to dread.

I bought 4 books in March. Let me see if I can hold back till mid-June before I buy another one.

PS – One of the books I bought this month was the Penguin Threads edition of Jane Austen’ Emma and it is by far one of the most beautiful books on my shelf! Take a look:

That stuff isn’t print guys, the whole thing is actually threaded! 

On Gym and Gymming

The tagline under my blog title says “An Orange in Pluto”. Pluto was my favourite planet until these fickle astronomers betrayed me and said it’s not a planet at all. I choose to ignore that.

I feel like an orange in Pluto – as out of place as that – in many places. The gym is one of those places.

  1. Physically, I am broader, shorter and heavier than most of them on the floor.
  2. I am NOT a fan of David Guetta. Everyone else seems to think he is god and his music an essential element of workout.
  3. The gym is not for short people. I need help to reach a lot of the equipment. I feel like a kid.
  4. I find it hard to understand why there are so many gym-crazed school kids these days. Call me old fashioned, but I think the playground should be their place – to play and talk and have fun. Not the gym floor where they have old men staring at their teenaged butts.
  5. I feel weird around most women on the floor. I do enjoy gossip, but just the kind where you exchange meaty bits of information and indulge in some harmless bitching about celebrities. Not this weird shopping- gossip that is basically a veiled competition titled “Biggest Spender Wins.” I have nothing against luxury or indulgence, but this constant fight about who’s track-pants are fancier is irritating. Especially when this money is doing nothing to stop the pants from getting into their butt cracks.
  6. Most people seem to be comfortable in clothes that are as tight-fitting as they can get. Regardless of what is the size that is “fitting.” I like air. My shirts are a size bigger than I need.
  7. Too many people admiring their own pectorals/abs/breasts. I couldn’t do it in public even when I didn’t have the extra pounds.
  8. I feel like I am the only one who wants to hide the bra straps under my shirt.
  9. Sweaty underarm hair is GROSS. How do you tell that to people? Especially the men who MUST wear sleeveless vests to show off their biceps?
  10. Old men with very-tight, super-short shorts. Leaves little to the imagination. Enough said.

They’re not all bad. Even those mentioned above aren’t really bad; they just have quirks I cannot wrap my mind around. I am sure they refer to me as “That-girl-who-won’t-remove-her-spectacles”. I have some friends at the gym and they are nice enough. But I still feel it’s not a place where I belong. I enjoy the workout but – you know, I am an orange working out in Pluto.

Also, everybody is super excited and has taken up the job of motivating each other. We even have a PCOS gang and we discuss frustrations over slow weight loss and compete over the most imbalanced hormones in the changing room from time to time. Whoever has the worst story to offer is the best motivator for others. It’s like when you find out there is at least one more person behind you in the race.

The ladies’ changing room is an entertaining place. I use it for changing and exchanging gossip (Of course!) I have learned that it can also be used as –

  1. Place to take selfies. And if you can somehow get a broader-waisted-woman in the background, it’s perfect to be WhatsApp-ed to everyone.
  2. Exchange information on gynaecologists and nutritionists and lipstick shades and sales at the mall.
  3. Discuss the firmness and roundness of breasts. [It seems if you can soak your breasts in a tub of ice water for 10 minutes each night, your breasts will resemble Scarlett Johansson’s even when you turn 60. I am WAY too lazy to do that.]
  4. Discuss the perverseness or attractiveness of men
  5. Find out where to get the best Louis Vuitton duplicates.

I keep telling myself I am at the gym as a way of moving toward a “healthy” lifestyle. I have to keep reminding myself this little fact. Because the gym can be both maddeningly absurd and heartbreakingly intimidating at times. There is also this genius who decided to open a pizza place on the third floor of the building where my gym is. Asshole.

And then there is me, who is panting on the treadmill, worrying about the panty-line, cursing my way through the bench press, happy with oversized Spiderman T-shirts and forever tempted by the smell of melting cheese.

On My Cat-obsession

Currently, the biggest tragedy of my life is that I don’t have a pet cat. It has been the tragedy of my life since 25 years. I was born on a very rainy day 24 years ago.

I have an unhealthy obsession with cats. Cats are all over my Tumblr dashboard and YouTube subscriptions and laptop wallpapers and Facebook walls and Twitter feeds. They are everywhere except in my house.

I want a cat because:

  1. They are cute
  2. They are furry
  3. They are cute
  4. They don’t need to be taken out to walks everyday
  5. They use litter boxes and are relatively easy to litter train
  6. They are cute.
  7. They are cute and therefore therapeutic.
  8. They spend most of their day sleeping.
  9. They purr.
  10. They are cute.

I also hear they make good friends. I am not banking on that.

Here are reasons I don’t/shouldn’t have  cat.

  1. Dad dislikes cats
  2. Mom doesn’t love cats
  3. We have a lot of crystal in our house. I hear cats like breaking them
  4. Nothing non vegetarian has ever entered our house. As far as I know cats can’t survive on rice and vegetables.
  5. When I was very little I was allergic to cat hair. [But then I was also allergic to pulses and rice and eggs and eggplant and grapes and wheat. Not any more.]
  6. Dad really doesn’t like cats
  7. I like my furniture without scratches.
  8. Some of our furniture is expensive. Dad will have me on the noose if something happens to them. Worse, the cat will be on the noose.
  9. Toilet rolls are expensive in India. I hear cats enjoy destroying toilet rolls.
  10. I like symmetry. So there had to be number 10 in this list too.

How do you solve a problem like wanting a cat ? There is only so much pleasure I can get from YouTube. I want the real stuff. The furball on my lap.

I think cats might help me out if I ever face an existential crisis. They spend more than half their life sleeping and are still confident and wise beings. There HAS to be a secret to that. They know the meaning of life. I think that’s why T.S. Eliot loved them so much, they slept and slept and still didn’t measure out their life in coffee spoons. My theory – when Eliot wrote that poem, he was actually talking to his cat. He asked her, “Hey Kitty! Should I, after tea and cakes and ices/ Have the strength to force the moment to its crisis?” or “Hey Kitty! Shall I part my hair behind?/  Do I dare to eat a peach?” Yes, I am certain.

Yes, yes – I am conveniently forgetting all the serious and painful stuff that comes with having a pet. I know that, okay? I choose to be an optimist for once.

Cats are awesome. Lincoln liked them. Einstein loved them. Eliot was obsessed with them. Also Johnny Cash and George Harrison. See what I mean?

Maybe I will foster a cat. If it works then I can keep him/her for myself. If the cat manages to scratch and pop my fancy bubble, she can go to a home where her scratches are more welcome. Or she can stay at mine and I’ll buy her a scratch board. Cats are more adaptable than dogs; I hope my plan is not an insensitive one.

I wonder if the cat will clash with my neurotic quest for cleanliness and order. The scratches and the hair. But I could invest in lint rollers and scratch boards.

Must first convince Dad. In this life. I am not leaving the cat for the afterlife. I have several hot dead men waiting in queue there. Maybe the foster-idea is good. Dad can’t get mad if I tell him the cat is there only for a few weeks. The purring might just melt his heart in the end.

I can also threaten to bring home a dog. Or a boyfriend. A junkie boyfriend. Worse, an unemployed boyfriend. That might make him fall in love with the cat.

Here are some awesome kittyful links as my appreciation for bearing this cat-rant –

1) Cat massage

2) How to hug your cat

3) Cats in boxes 

4) Emergency Kittens on Twitter

5) Search “Cute Cats” on Youtube

6) Also, meet my friend’s brother’s unbelievably cute cat –

IMG_2152

Enjoy!