The Note 25 – part one

December is here again. Another year of the earth dancing around the sun is about to come to an end. Some people speculate that it might just be the last dance.

But that’s not what this is about. I’m not about to sing the Drifter’s lovable song to the earth.

This is about the last two years of dancing. Two highly eventful and life changing years. Two years where so much changed, so much stayed the same and so much happened in between.

I completed my thesis, graduated and moved to a new city to a new job. When I packed my things to leave, there was no assurance of anything. I didn’t have a house, friends or family in the city. I had never lived away from home before. But for some reason, I wasn’t afraid at all. Well, not at first. But then again I’ve never been the kind of person that’s afraid of change neither am I the kind of person that’s afraid to leave things behind.

I had a great time in the city, I moved back home over six months ago. So here’s a bunch of stuff I’ve learned along the way.

Things I discovered about myself and the universe moving away from home –

  1. Beans and carrots cook fast. Very fast. They put 2-minute noodles to shame. That said 2-minute noodles are still your best friend.
  2. The cake in a cup recipe is completely redeemable when fully soaked in rum. Spiking everything helps. Spiking helps everything.
  3. Sometimes the only thing that can keep you sane is an absolutely insane boss. And yet I know I will never let myself stay in a job I have to wake up every morning and hate. And that’s re-assuring.
  4. It’s easier to meet new people when everyone is new. It’s also easier to trust new people when everyone is new.
  5. Dancing all night long with someone whose nick name is ‘the rubber band boy’ could be what you were born for all along.
  6. I love to walk, not just when I’m broke. I smile at strangers in the street while walking, unconsciously.
  7. Being broke isn’t the same as being poor, but its close.
  8. You realize you’re not as independent and self-sufficient as you imagined. You need other people. Yes you do. Even if you admit it grudgingly.
  9. If you’re lucky you get the chance to become part of a whole new family. They’ll take you in, feed you when you’re too lazy to go home and make chapatti’s after a particularly long day at work, lend you their spare mattress, tease you when you gush about your hot boss too much, take you to the hospital when you’re too sick to go yourself, bake you a birthday cake, even drive you full speed to the bus you almost missed. Ah, they just let you in. Seamlessly. As though you’ve been there all along.
  10. You do adult things without even trying or noticing. You start to notice things like lemon juice is made with artificial flavours while dish washing liquid is made with real lemons.
  11. Sometimes, losing a mid-night game of scrabble can be amazingly therapeutic.
  12. People who love you still keep in touch. People who love you very much even come visit. And then there’s people who’ll visit more than once, and you make a mental note to never let go of these people, ever.
  13. You become best friends with someone you barely noticed in college and are amazed at how much you have in common. How well they understand your heart, or lack thereof.
  14. You really start to understand love. Or at least want to.
  15. You meet people and before you know it, they’re your friends. For real. Not just the kind you talk to every once in a while, but people who you spend time with, people who you do things with, people who you let in. Right in. You find ‘your people’. You have a ‘person to call when you get lost’, ‘person who gets you banana cake’, ‘person to get you out of bed on a particularly crummy day’, ‘person to encourage you to stay in bed on a particularly crummy day’.
  16.  Sometimes, it’s great to let go. Just let go. Completely.
  17. I’m young. Not too young, just young enough.
  18. Having your own house feels great. There’s nothing in the world that has made me feel prouder. Ever. Coming home to an empty house sometimes, not so great. Never before did I feel more in need of a man. Never before did I feel like as much of a woman.
  19. Every once in a while, when you least expect it something brilliant will happen.
  20. You find yourself going to church, sometimes more often than only on Sundays. You recognise what faith means to you now.
  21. I am a responsible person. I didn’t know that about myself before. I didn’t trust myself as much before. You realize you’re not as wild as you imagined. You’re also not as together as you imagined. You develop a relationship with silence. You read books, you buy the ones you like, you smell and curl up with the ones you love.
  22. You do more. Like you’re living on borrowed time.
  23. A new city allows you to be amazed, ever so often. It also makes you curse out loud, ever so often. Both make you feel alive.
  24. Not knowing where you are and how to get where you want to be can be a great adventure or a spiral of irritation but it always gives you a great story.
  25. There will be some mornings when you wake up and just want to pack all your things and go home. There will also be some mornings when you’ll promise yourself never to leave. Both these feelings pass and eventually you go where your heart takes you.

A little less ordinary

He was a man of moderate build and of moderate means. His was your average ‘boy meets girl, gets married, has two children, one girl, and one boy’ story. On a regular day, if I passed him on the street, I wouldn’t see him at all, so well camouflaged in the everyday.

But today was not a regular day. Today, I stood outside the gate to his house armed with measuring tape and graphite pencils in hand and stars in my eyes. Just beyond the white painted gate was a green garden as green as the aliens we drew as kids and as alien to its city context. The house sat comfortably warm wrapped in its green blanket. A wrought iron balcony cutting gently through the mass of green along the twines of a pink blossom.

Strangely, it felt like standing at the entrance to a shrine. I peered intently through the gate, closed my eyes, and opened them again a couple of times before I rang the doorbell.

The man emerged from his house. He wasn’t an ordinary man anymore. Sure, he had his face and his build but his eyes were those of a man possessed.

He threw open the gates, smiled infectiously and bolted back towards the house. I scuttled up to him awkwardly not knowing how to respond. The moment I entered the house, I knew. I knew instantly that this could only be the doing of a mad man. A man so entirely consumed and possessed, so entirely smitten that it transcended into worship. This man was a lover and a dreamer.

He animatedly took me through his temple, what was once an ugly utilitarian pre-independence steel structured military barrack had been transfigured into a humble warm home for his family. He described every detail, every corner, every arrangement, every object, every material, every composition, every frame as though deliriously in fervent prayer. Everything about his manner caused me to sit back on the floor in his shadow and just listen, listen to his prayer and see the fruits of his offerings. I felt uncomfortable as though I was listening in on a confessional booth conversation of a religious fanatic in the inner sanctum of a church.

Here I stood before him at the beginning, before everything else, after Christ.

He told me of everything that went into the carving out of his home, all the sacrifices, all the hardships, all the little inconveniences, everything. He spoke of how each space came about in its own time, as and when he could afford it, and when he couldn’t, he’d dream out all the details for when he finally did.

The staircase mesmerized me, the light, graceful steel staircase that effortlessly pierced the double height of the living space was gorgeous. The man remembered every measurement and angle, every riser designed to perfection not only for his current needs but anticipating the future needs of his wife’s fraying legs.

I saw how much he loved his family through his love for his home. How much he cared about their every need. How his home had been shaped by this love. His own bedroom doubled up as a consultation room for his patients allowing major chunks of his house to be family rooms and spaces for everyone to gather in. There was a front garden, a back garden, a jhulla, a living room, a gathering space and a family room. He envisioned each object in each space to really embody ‘home-ness’, to embody a home of love and for love.

But today as I stood before him, he seemed a little disappointed. He had failed to fathom one thing. He had failed to take into account that someday his kids would grow older and would want their own space. Their own exclusive space. Not family space but a space of their own. A space shielded from the glow of the temple he had built. A space where they would not hear his prayers or see his sacrifices.

But he wasn’t disappointed. He now started dreaming their dreams through the eyes of a father, through the eyes of a son. And what beautiful dreams they were. What delirious and passionate dreams. What humble and embracing dreams.

I was immediately taken up and enthralled and thrown into his maddeningly mad world.

An ordinary man, transformed into a lover, a dreamer, and then transfigured before me into something far more extraordinary- a father.

the man inside

There’s a feeling I get when I look to the west,
And my spirit is crying for leaving.
In my thoughts I have seen rings of smoke through the trees,
And the voices of those who stand looking.
Ooh, it makes me wonder,
Ooh, it really makes me wonder.

And as we wind on down the road
Our shadows taller than our soul.
There walks a lady we all know
Who shines white light and wants to show
How everything still turns to gold.
And if you listen very hard
The tune will come to you at last.
When all is one and one is all
To be a rock and not to roll.

And she’s buying a stairway to heaven.

– Led Zeppelin (Stairway to Heaven)