Good going..a.k.a self-congratulatory back-pat

So I wrote this self-important angsty tale of my troubled relationship with books and vowed to read less this year.

And so far it has been a success. Me- the queen of self-control.

Yes, there have been withdrawal symptoms. I have been  irritable and prone to snap at people. I am also filled with more than the usual ‘where is this life going’ kind of existential thoughts. I avoided all the book sales and all those wonderful offers from Amazon and felt like a sacrificial queen a la Nirupa Roy.

But overall, I stuck to my resolution, more or less, at least as far as the new books were concerned.

I just read 4 new books, all of which turned out to be fairly crappy, which helped me stick to the strict no-new-buys policy.

I re-read all volumes of In Search of Time, which was predictably great.

A fellow reading addict uncle claims that now he will only re-read the books he has truly liked for the rest of his life, since life is too short to be wasted on new experiences. He is not that old, just dramatic.

I already am a re-re-re-reading kind of person. I can re-read my favourite books dozens of times. When I am truly peeling out from boredom, I like to pick up a well-worn volume, sniff the familiar smell and swelter in the anticipation of the familiar.

I also re-read my Film Studies reader. When I first got into cultural studies, I used to lay awake in excitement getting all those ‘aha’ moments one after another. It was like a series of intellectual orgasms, however corny and pseudo it sounds. I felt like I got the key to unlocking the mystery of life, of culture, of society. I realised that the kick is gone now and is replaced by a quiet appreciation of slow unfurling of life’s little moments.

I realised that now I am controlling my addiction, I had got tonnes of time, so I actually met a few people I hadn’t for a while- hurrah. And started thinking about future options.

And started running. Double Hurrah. My ambition is to be able to run consistently for half hr. @ at least 8 km per hour. Like those sinewy muscled  gods in tight running clothes and a fierce determination on their face you see running in European cities,  no matter whether it is snowing, raining, or baking. Mumbai is not exactly running friendly, I will be run over if I start running in the city. But a trade mill if not a bad option. It is the sign of wisdom that comes with age. Don’t expect beautiful paved cities just so that you start huffing puffing running. Dust your old treadmill, plug in iPod and start.

I started listening to music again. Since husband hates loud noise of whatever variety, I had gradually stopped listening to music, which for me has to be on full volume or none at all. I have no idea why I hadn’t been using the headphones. Now that I am, I behave as if I have invented them. Friends roll their eyes when I gush about merits of Bluetooth enabled headphones as if they are some sort of time machine level of sci-fi achievement. NO WIRES…Hallelujah..Mom.. look.. no wires.

Overall, it has been a good month. I finished my course. Didn’t panic at the thought of ‘what next?’. Controlled an addiction. Got into couple of new things without obsessing or overdoing them.

Yes, I agree that I am soon going to grow horns with all this smug-self-congratulatory spirit.

Not bad at all.

 

 

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My Addiction and rehab..

Synonyms for addiction are: dependency,craving, habit, weakness, compulsion, fixation, enslavement.

Addiction offers you escape into another world, a world that seems better, more exotic, more romantic, more dazzling, more…well, more everything than the ‘real’one that you inhabit.

Addiction makes you dependent on the said substance and makes it difficult for you to go without it, and if you do go without it, withdrawal tortures you with craving, distraction, apathy, emotional vacuum, physical discomfort.

Addiction takes over your life to the extent that every other relationship, goal, aptitude, desire, dream feels secondary to the bliss of loosing yourself in the other world, the netherworld.

Addicts do/could face difficulty adjusting with people, relationships, work, socialization, goals, time management, financial management.

I have come to this sad conclusion that in recent time, my relationship with books is exactly the one that a junkie has to the noxious substances.

The problem is, whenever you say, ‘ I am addicted to reading’, people go ‘awwwwww’ and nod their head up and down in admiration. When you say that you are a book junkie, either you sound like a self-important pretentious jerk, and/or you sound like you are asking for validation – of how smart, intense, intelligent, creative, self-sustaining you are.

Because hey, reading books is good, no? And reading a lot of books is better than good. I am sure this cultural reverence for books and reading dates from the time when only a few elite had access to written language. The literacy privilege across the world made sure that reading was hailed as an activity closest to achieving Moksha.

No matter how gritty, dark, cynical,hard-hitting, gut-wrenching, knowledge imparting and soul-enhancing the books are, like anything else in life,they are unhealthy for you IF you are dependent on them.

Reading has always been my number one passion/ hobby/ time pass/escapist route since childhood. And honestly, books have always influenced me like no life event or a person has ever.

But in recent years, it has taken over other aspects of my life.

I feel irritation at any perceived disturbance. From plumber to call from parents to project that needs to be finished to sleep. I feel resentful for time consumed by family or friends or work or sex if I am in the middle of a book. More often than not,I have neglected friendships, relationships, postponed important decisions, and screwed up with priorities.

Books have an extremely personal relationship with the reader. The connecting bridge of characters,events, and the narrative that stretches between the reader and the book is usually far more interesting and crisply edited than any connection in real life. Because books are structured texts that are constructed carefully by talented individuals, they always trump over the pace, minutae and mundanities of your own life. At least the safe/protected/undramatic life like mine.

Dependence on reading has slowly and steadily made me weary of being in the company of live/real people in real life. I prefer a character over a live person. I prefer a fictional place over the one I live in. I prefer the narrative of the book over the time in which I live.

This has sometimes led to not appreciating good things and people in my life. Because hey, I have never met anyone even remotely like a Prince Myshkin or a Hamlett or a Pandurang Sangvikar or a Naagveni. I have never experienced a soul exchange with Satan or a concentration camp, a walk across Tibet or hunt for serial killers of Ystad, a witty repertoire between Calvin and Hobbes or the bohemian artistry of the Impressionists. I have never been a detective, or a prisoner of war or a woman wronged in love, or a tortured artist or cheat or a king who has lost his kingdom. A lot of my thinking and my actions underwent a profound change after reading Gramci, while most of the real,committed communists tire me out when face to face. I have had moments of pure electricity coursing through my body while reading the so-called spiritual books, but words of wisdom of my acquaintances or seniors have gone over my head.

Not having a good book makes me cranky and obsessive about the next one. Increasingly, if I am immersed in a good book, I do not know what to talk to even with my husband, let alone friends and acquaintances. I panic and have palpitations if the book I am anticipating is late in reaching me, or worst, lost.

When I read I live in fiction-land, and I do not notice my own life. Since I have half-hearted attention to life, rather than learning from it, I make same disastrous mistakes over and over again. I can spot a murderer by second page or identify with Ivan Karmazov’s existential angst, but do not know how to comfort a stressed brother and have not been able to understand actual backstabbing that was harming me.

Reading too much has ruined my already fragile sleep, so much so, that I am tired and achy with watery eyes, unless, unless I am reading a book. Exhaustion quickly makes way for cynical nonchalance and lack of focus, which goes in the vicious circle:

Read till early hours-exhausted the next day-why the fuck do I need to file taxes- let me finish this awesome book first-sleep at five am- exhausted the next day but floating in the fictional world- cranky with people who puncture that bubble-snatch sleep the next night-wake up early and read- get irritable when you have to get onto work…and so on and so forth.

Suffice it to say, I have come to this conclusion that I have gone overboard with reading, and especially reading a certain kind of dark and slightly obsession-inducing literature. I have stopped enjoying a book and have started guzzling them. Like a chain smoker who no longer enjoys a cigarette but is sucking at them compulsively, hopelessly.

I want to enjoy reading and not be dependent on it. This OCD has got to stop.

So, I have decided to buy only 2 books a month and re-read only one book month, thus restricting my reading to total 3 books a month only. And to make up for the hours and hours available to me now, I have decided to exercise more- even bought new running shoes , hurrah, and sketch more and sleep properly. Watching movies could go the same route as reading, so no-no there.

I know when I am fully ’employed’ again, I am going to crave these weeks and months of undisturbed trip to lalaland that I have had last year. Hell, they have been the best part about this break. But to be honest with self, this is getting into little neurotic territory now. I have a brilliant schizophrenic person in my family, and so have no illusions or romantic notions about living in blurred realities. I want to be in control and I don’t want to be consumed by anything. Not even books.

So for now, shove the mental acrobatics a bit in the corner and focus on physical exercise.

Sounds like a good rehab plan.

2013…best of, first of and a lot of ofofofofoofof

When I was a Television programmer, I raked in my vulgar salary to entertain TV viewing people by, amongst other inane things, spending entire December month devising various countdowns or Best Ofs. You know, those things you watch ( but I don’t) on Television, that shout out the lists of the year with jazzy graphics and bitchy commentary and they all sound the same across channels and have no content whatsoever. Same shit. Best item song, best smile, best hand movement by dancer, best romance, best split, best fight, best creepshow, best embarrassment, best this and best that. I once even devised ‘the best ghusa ( punch)’ countdown for a movie channel, that garnered so many ratings, that it doomed me forever into programming outrageously dumb things for people who watch them.

Anyway, now that I am not doing this monumental service to the arts, I have decided to do a personal best of list and top ten list.

Top ten first-ofs of my life that happened in 2013 ( heheheh):

1. I quit my job and took the first proper break of my LIFE .

2. As a result, for the first time, I have proof in my hand that I love being a recluse , can be happy with very little money and am genuinely happy doing nothing ‘constructive’.

3. I went to Iran, the first middle-eastern country I have ever been to and for the first time in my professional life I didn’t go to Europe. Again, not missing it at all gave me proof for the first time that I am not going to miss the travel that was such a great part of my job.

4. First real vacation with puppyjaan, pet friendly Goa and swimming together in sea and all.

5. I finished writing my first book.

6. I went for the first ‘ladies with small kids in arms lunch’ and it is a post in itself.

7. I went to Crawford market for the first time and am a CM junkie now.

8. I bought my first apple product.

9. For the first time a gadget controlled my life, and it is not the aforementioned Apple product ( which is ok, I think it is overhyped) but the amazing Amazon Kindle, which has converted me into a e-book junkie.

10. I made a totally random countdown that nobody but I care about.

hurrah freedom from professional hazards!!!

Ya ya Sisterhood…

I spent the last weekend at a get together of cousin sisters. While I do meet some of them on and off, it was the first time since I was a kid that we all were together.

We met at one of my mausi’s home – a place filled with amazing childhood memories for all of us sisters. And the weather was gorgeous. So was the setting. Clouds floating in the windows, bright green trees, waterfalls, jutting hills, winding roads, fluorescent green grass that makes me want to graze like a cow on hilltop…

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We trekked, ate Bhajiyas, drank copious amount of tea, told dirty jokes, shared stories of husbands, ruminated on emotional upheavals and spent the night chatting about this and that.

I was surprised at myself when I told them about a bout of depression I had had two years ago.

They asked me why I don’t want kids or quit my great job. They listened patiently, asked questions and supported my choices. I never thought that support from people I don’t see for decades would make me so happy.

It was like the Sex and The City Indian version produced by Yash Chopra!!!

All of them are mothers of young kids and their lives revolve around their kids. Apart from one cousin, all others are homemakers, stay in small towns, need to adjust with big families. About 90% of our lives are dramatically different.

If we were not related and shared a very happy childhood I can not imagine I would have ever spent a weekend with them that didn’t bore me even for a second.

In fact the one and half day filled me with such happiness and eagerness to meet them again, that I started wondering if it was all just nostalgia?? Or was there something else?

I do think that lack of malice, openness, a gay happiness at small things, shared fondness for each other do matter. Maybe the fact that we all love nature and roaming around helped.

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But I am sure what mattered the most was the feeling of SISTERHOOD…

What struck me with force, yet again , is that women mostly get along extremely well together. They try to understand each other. They are more open towards new trends. They are less judgmental. They are more accepting of different opinions and people.They are also more positive about future.

It could be the result of social conditioning, in fact I am damn sure it is.

I have seen the same conclusions in dozens of market researches we had commissioned over a period of years, but this time, it resonated with me forcefully.

Whatever the cause, the fact of the matter is that sisterhood rocks.

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This is the nest of killedar ( Harverster) ants I spotted during our climb. Myth is that even if the nest is demolished, the ants would build it in a couple of hours from scratch. Thus the name Killedar Mungya.

These smart, hardworking ants and the beautiful nest is a reminder of us cousins together.

bewadiyon aur sajjano…

bewadiyon aur sajjano…

Hohoho and a bottle of rum…. Ladies who drink are barred from enjoying a drink and ruining indian sanskruti.Not to mention fight with innocent auto wallahs. We all know that all the problems in the world are caused by women who don’t behave.

 

AP Govt. bans women in bars post 10 pm. I want to finish this large peg now and bash some innocent lawmakers on their heads. 

 

Hick Hick