Sunday, 14 December 2014

To You, Non-Believers

(Back-story: Fellow Shahrukh lover, Shaoli asked me to write this letter to convince her friends who never understood the magic of this movie. This may be from her,from me or from all of us who've known and loved DDLJ.)

To You,
Non- Believers

I was 9 when I first watched this movie. I knew more about love then, than I do now.

I’ve seen the world since. I've lived in London, waited on platforms, almost risked getting squeezed into a waffle running to catch a train last minute (always, always looking out for a familiar Indian boy giving me a hand up) and constantly wondering what the soundtrack to my life would sound like.

You don’t faze me, when you mock this movie. 

Calling Shahrukh ugly, Simran too conservative and the movie overrated aren’t arguments that will convince me. You’re trying to pick physical, superficial flaws in a whole being that I love. Who cares if they have a spot of acne on their forehead, or freckles on their cheek? Haveyou heard them talk to me on the phone late at night? Plus I can play connect the dots across those freckles.

This was the movie that first showed me what love could look or speak like. 
And I’ve never really stopped searching since.

Here’s my irrational, non-chronological list of why DDLJ just is:

- Because every woman in that house was in love with Raj. Simran, Preeti, heck even Preeti’s mom (did you see the kurta wearing non-personality she was married to?), Buaji, Chutki and Fareeda Jalal in her best role ever.

- Because he made suddenly grabbing Simran’s hand while singing antakshari with her family, as rebellious and hot as showing up on a motorcycle. 
All the 'Baby Dolls' of the world cannot match the sensuality of Raj trying to kiss Simran behind a frighteningly narrow pillar in the courtyard of her in-laws house.

- Because he’s a brat whose baggy shirts are almost always only half tucked in. He’s abysmal at studies, spoilt rotten by his father, eerily adept at chess and stubbornly believes in signs. 
After all he chased a girl across a continent because she left a cowbell for him on her front door.

- Because Buaji couldn't buy a saree without his approval. 
Legend goes that 35 plus single women in Punjab still look out their window while buying sarees from a vendor- hoping that a messy-haired boy in a sloppy denim shirt will help her pick one. 
And she’ll feel 19 again. 

- Because he really sucks up to baoji. Wake-up-at-6am-wear-a-dhoti-sucks-up to baoji.

- Because every time I watch this movie, I’m 19 again.

- Because we want to be with a Raj while secretly hiding bits of Raj inside us. 

- Because I've lived in London and on particularly dark, grey days when the sun set at 3pm, I could could almost come undone at "Ghar aaja pardesi tera desh bulaye re.."

- Because there’s a madness and kindness to this love- neither of which needs the crutch of drunken declarations, emoticons and half baked texts, confusion or even fear.

- Because he told her he loved her by just saying “nahin.. main nahin aaonga” 

- Because every time I start a new adventure, make a fresh mistake, fall in love or run into another weekend, I tell myself: Ja Simran, jee le apni zindagi

- Because mandolins sound better than the harp to me, and much like Simran I will respond to that tune, wherever I hear it.

- Because he apologies to Preeti before he leaves.

- Because my rule of thumb is – agar woh tumse sachcha pyaar karti hai, woh palat ke dekhegi. 

- Because this story has more heart, bravado, coolness (have you seen those wicked pigeons) and love than most epics.

- Because Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge.

Tumhari aankhein mujhe meri daadimaa ki yaad dilate hain

(To You is a letter writing project I started because there are not enough letters and love going around. If you have something to say with love-- for your ex girlfriend, you current husband, pizza (promise not to make it cheesy), your landlord who let you skip rent or even Ryan Gosling-- I'll write that letter for you.

The final letter will be up on my blog and a copy will be handwritten/typed on a typewriter and posted to you or to an intended recipient. Kisses on the envelope only on my discretion.
Give me a shout at: )

Thursday, 4 December 2014

26 Pieces Of You

(Disclaimer: This gorgeous format of alphabets adapted  from David Leviathan's fantastic work- The Lover's Dictionary. Read it, if you haven't yet. AR credit for the post title)

A for Absence

Hour 1:
Nothing was more complete, absolute, alive or more present than that. You'd been here crumpling my sheets just 24 hours ago and now the absence of you is sprawled across, taking more space and hogging the duvet. No wonder I'm shivering in the cold.

B for Braille

Hour 4:
You didn’t need to move two continents to get that second Masters’ degree. You didn’t need to sit up half a night to tell me that distance was a frame of mind. Frame of mind?!

You know why they made Braille into a series of bumps made up of dots? Because even when blind people can’t see, they need to touch.

This long distance relationship has a language of its own that I have to learn. I don’t want to give up my eyesight to learn Braille and eventually write poetry in it. I want to see.
And I want to see you.

C for Complaints

Hour 6:
 I’m fussy when my coffee is too sweet, the traffic too slow or every vacation not long enough. You’d always told me my complaints needed to be well presented, better organized and addressed one at a time.

Well here’s another one for your filing cabinet: Your being away inconveniences my life but I refuse to admit it.

D for Defiance

Hour 7:
Yep. Two hours later, still refuse to admit it.

E for Empathy

Hour 9:
The only upside to sadness is that it makes you a kinder person. Nice people are the ones who get beat up in life, because otherwise we’re all really born as arrogant jerks.

So, fuck you for turning me into a bleeding heart.

F for Feasible

Hour 10:
Our lives are like a math equation: your dreams, my dreams, you and me. The intersection of this Venn diagram is where we and other collisions happened.

Our lives should be made of romance not math”, I’d told you arguing why you shouldn’t leave.

“Romance isn’t always feasible, but math is”, you’d replied.

F for Fear

Hour 11.30:
It coursed through my veins and stirred deep inside my own blood. My heart was pumping this cocktail out, steadily, rhythmically and constantly. Even if I tried, I couldn’t help my paranoia and disbelief of your strategy on how we’d make it work when you were away.

You see, my own body was holding me hostage.

G for Gumption

Hour 13.45:
We were 21 when I first walked up to you and told you that your critique of Keats was a mess, that you in fact would make a better finance student than a Literature major and that if you were to “lose that patronising edge at the end of your sentences”, I would meet you for coffee.

I was right about everything and we had four lattes to go that day.

H for Humour

Hour 15:
But, baby, we can eat dinner together on Skype on Friday nights. It will be like a real date. Plus I won’t be able to pick the Spaghetti off your plate”, you told me on the phone from the airport.

I laughed till I had a stitch in my stomach. The joke was funny, the throbbing in my side wasn’t.

I for Intention

Hour 17:
Our most heated debates had always been around Spaghetti vs. Penne and Intention vs Action. To you meaning to do something was as important as actually doing it.

To me, Penne and good thoughts were identical-- cylindrical shells of promises and hope on the outside and hollow inside.

J for Jealousy

Hour 18:
Let me get this straight, you’re mad at me because I laughed too hard at someone’s joke?” we were fighting that last Saturday night before you left.

It wasn’t like I was slow dancing with him. I was just laughing at what he said.”.

You’ve already turned away and started making a list of the things to take with you when you move next month. The joke’s really on me.

K for Kitten

Hour 18.56:

That N word. 

Hot stuff.

Can we open a joint bank account just to save everything that was mutually exclusive, belonged to us and needs to remain joint property? No one will be allowed drawing rights from this bank, especially if someone new or with hotter stuff were to come along.

L for Love

Hour 19:   
We both knew just that was never going to be enough. But it's what everyone spends their lifetimes looking for anyway.
(See also under: S for Stubborn and I for Idiocy)

M for Model

Still Hour 19: 
There was a reason they were called that. It was to connote a level of perfection so ideal that real life would weep itself to sleep before it could ever match up.

Think about that before you yell at me for “shutting down on me, right before I’m supposed to fucking leave”.

Nothing model was ever real: behaviour or those Victoria Secret ones on your laptop.

N for Night

Hour 20:   
I’m lying here in bed when it’s early morning for you. Your day stretches on while mine has been beaten up and is ready to pass out in its work clothes. I don’t want to call to say goodnight . This is unreal and a skip away from destruction. I turn off the lights and sleep

They say you should never talk to the monsters under your bed at night.

O for Obvious

Still Hour 20:
You asked me a question I never answered. I tried to tell you, without ever saying it, referring to it or even admitting to it.

Couldn’t you just see through me, instead?

P for People

Hour 21:
You and I have never heard of birds going mad, or seals and walruses losing their minds. People bring that on to each other- the madness- either by how they touch or by how little they do.

Q for Queer

Hour 21.30:
It’s unfair and obnoxious to use it to refer to homosexuality.
There are so many actually strange things out there: like banjo solos, vegans, lack of empathy about global warming and people who’re trying to date across countries.


R for Romance

Hour 22:
You’re looking at old pictures of me and my ex-boyfriend.

I guess you look happy, but look how lazily his fingers are slumped across yours. If I was him, I’d hold your hand tightly and properly, all the time. You’re a prize to me.”, you told me again as I tossed you folded, ironed shirts to pack into your suitcase.

S for Stay

Hour 22.30:
I shouldn’t have to give you a reason to.

T for Today

Hour 23:
When you and I could’ve been on holiday. Damn it, when you and I should’ve been on holiday. You’d realise that me not paying any attention to you is endearing in person and I’d learn to live with how little my face masks my emotions as compared to my texts.

U for Un-learn

Hour 23.15:
The secrets you spilled into me. The dreams I whispered to you. The way your back arches when you’re tired. The way your eyes close when we’re fighting. The songs we didn't dance to. Your favourite drink. Your next big dream. The name we’d give our dog.

V for Vain

Hour 23.30:
When you took so many pictures of us together, I was never really sure if it was devotion or you checking to see how your hair was looking to others that day.

W for Wine

Hour 23.40: 
You only show me love when you’ve had a couple of glasses”, you complained every weekend.
 I wanted to defend my Merlot, to tell you that you’re incidental to how much I love the searing feeling down my throat. That it actually helps me forget all the reasons you and I are set up for disaster.

I reached over and kissed you instead.

X for x.

Hour 23.45:
Yours, mine, ours. Sleeping like ghosts in our bed. I wish you’d dated lesser people. Sometimes it feels less like being a couple and more like holding hands and being part of a human chain.

Y for You

Hour 23.50:
For stumbling into my life, stumbling out of it and refusing to ever completely leave- all at your whim.

Z for zoom

Hour 23.59:
If I squinted and concentrated hard enough, would I be able to zoom into the exact moment it all came together, fell apart, or you left?

And if I could, would I dare rearrange it?

                                       (Giant, lonely rose- art installation outside the MOMA.
                                         May, 2014. )

Thursday, 27 November 2014

To You~ From The Airport Hater

(Backstory: This may only be the second, but it already is one of my favourite To You letters. I fell in love with this story of the 4 Year Wait-er and The Airport Hater. Because Love's favourite hurdles had always been time and space. This is being sent out, typed out on a typewriter, all the way to London.)

To You
4 Year Wait-er,

I was sitting next to her on that flight, while her fire-brown hair fell over her face, most of which was buried inside the folds of a book. I hate talking to people on a flight, they always end up telling you more than you want to know. This girl, though, had four different boarding cards sticking out from four different places in the book.
Curiosity trumps most things (except global warming).

Hi. I was just wondering. With your, erm system.. how do you know, where you left the book last? Which of your bookmarks actually marks the spot, and which are for decoration?”

She smiled a brilliant smile I would come to know in flashes, Who says you have to begin only where you left off?” 

I knew then, we would spend the next two and a half hours talking. I just didn’t know it would be all about you.

If I told you that she could not tell a story straight, it would be half the truth. If I told you that I pieced her story together from mostly U2 song lyrics she narrated to me, unnerving excitement about coffee and a deep, simmering hatred for airports, it wouldn't even cover the preface. All you need to know (as you read this) is that you filled up every pause between every broken story, none of which began where they first left off.

You’re wondering by now why a strange girl you've never met is writing to you, about the woman you love.

Because she’s never going to. Her words are too full, too big and impregnated by you. Oh, and remind me to ask you, when I’m done, why you live in another country. Though she never once mention it explicitly. 
She didn't have to. She just said with a steady voice, “I hate airports. Standing at one gives you more clarity than years put together.” 

I wish now, as I write to you, that she’d told me which came first-- the surprise package of dark chocolates and Pope’s book of poetry at her work desk, a song she saw on your Facebook wall or the wedding where you met. She never stopped long enough to clarify and I kept forgetting to interrupt her.

Did you know that she spoke of you like her fondest memory and fiercest secret? It was almost like she was airing out details just to remember them right. No questions or sudden movements were allowed - the conversation threatened to go back to her uncontained love for coffee at any point.

I told her about the loves and chances I had found and lost, maybe it was then that she made it her 2.5 hour mission to convince me. Or maybe she needed to unravel you from inside of her and air you out again. And there you were, 4 year wait-er, a proof of her theory on believing, her prize and her pride.

Her fingers carelessly traced the jacket lettering of Murakami’s After Dark, as she alternatively encouraged and warned me, “Hey listen, if you've never been, just go to Vienna right now.” “Also, piece of advice: it’s easier when the person you love is in the same time-zone. Did you know that?”

I didn’t know that.

Did you know that some days her heart is strained to the point of breaking, without even losing you, but for never having you present when she needs you. Did you know that sometimes pockets of space need to be filled out by a physical presence- especially one that’s carelessly running his fingers behind your ear? Did you know her voice darkens like thunder when she talks about what 5.5 hours of time difference can do to someone? Did she tell you it can age you? That it can drive you to reading subtext on lyrics which were only meant to be fillers for the bass solo?

Loneliness was never a privilege of the truly lonely.

Did you know, 4 Year Wait-er, that she, Airport Hater, carries you around in her purse, folded neatly next to her cigarettes and mobile phone. This invisible shape of you holds her hand or becomes the cloud over her head, depending on which side of the time difference (warp) she really is on. On particularly bad days, this shape of you is so bruised and blackened with her longing that it can barely sit up at the dinner table.

“I only really like Norwegian Wood, the best”. I told her glancing at her copy of After Dark, as we got up to collect our overhead luggage.

“Maybe you need to have a boy stand in line at 6am in the morning, in the freezing London cold, just to get you a signed copy. And when he doesn’t get one, he goes to The Savoy to explain to the concierge why Murakami has to sign this particular copy. And when the concierge doesn’t oblige, he sits across you on vacation and signs it himself. Maybe you need that .”

And you know what, 4 Year wait-er, maybe I do.

Your Nameless Friend,
Seat 4F.

(Why don't you, Damn you.)

(To You is a letter writing project I started because there are not enough letters and love going around. If you have something to say with love-- for your ex girlfriend, you current husband, pizza (promise not to make it cheesy), your landlord who let you skip rent or even Ryan Gosling-- I'll write that letter for you.
The final letter will be up on my blog and a copy will be handwritten/typed on a typewriter and posted to you or to an intended recipient. Kisses on the envelope only on my discretion.
Give me a shout at: )

Thursday, 20 November 2014

To You~ The girl with the red wine.

(Backstory: Because before a story, there was a story, and so on. Here's the first of the To You letter series. Like most of the requests I got, this one came with aliases and request for anonymity. Anonymous wants to tell a girl he's met 3-4 times that he likes her. "He isn't obsessed with how she looks, and he's just anonymous because he chooses to be".)

To You,
The Girl With The Red Wine

Rolling your eyes every 20 minutes followed with a “..that’s what she said” joke doesn’t make you the life of every party. But darling, you wear that look so well, anyway. I could give you a real compliment, but I think you’ve had too many of those. What else can explain why you take all day to reply to a text?

We’ve met four times now- each time at a party surrounded with other people and wine. I’m not sure, which of these two lights you up the way it does, but you’re good with both. 
People are drawn to you easily, as was I but I resisted long enough.

It’s Saturday night again and you’re telling everyone how much you love company, but I can tell you’re at your best alone. You also have this way of trying to put your hair up into a bun, each time you’re bored. Stop doing that.

Speaking of, order something to eat next time you’re out. And when the table gets something, don’t only dip the nachos in the cheese sauce. The salsa feels left out, as sometimes do I.

Talking to you can be the most inclusive and the loneliest thing in the world.

I’m not going to bore you with clich├ęs about how you should let new people in. Good call that you don’t. There are some real creeps out there. But there are also some great guys who hate you putting your hair up in a bun, drinking red wine way too fast, finishing all the nachos and cheese sauce and rolling your eyes constantly.

I’m not entirely sure why I’m writing to you.
I’m thinking about that night when we were standing outside the bar. You were telling me about that famous movie star you’ve always loved. Your voice wasn’t fluttering with infatuation, you just spoke with a quiet, determined clarity assuring me that you two would have been soul mates had he known and met you.
I’m glad he didn’t, because maybe you would have.

Maybe like me, he too would have noticed that if you stood and talked in the dark long enough, it would be clear that you were “on fire from within and the moon lives in the lining of your skin.”

Are you going to lecture me now on quoting Neruda? On how you think you’re a lone warrior against plagiarism? How monogamy died and you’re the only one who showed up at the funeral? Or tell me the long list of words you can’t stand because of the way they sound.

You cannot marry and live with words, you know. You shouldn’t. 
You should instead, stand in the dark and talk to me about the words you really hate. Explain to me again why just the sound of the word “snog” makes your skin crawl. And when I tell you that you’re dramatic, know that instead I want to just reach out and hold you, and trace the edges of moonlight on your arm.

I’m not going to hold you. So don’t be alarmed when you read this. Don’t immediately think of a joke or a sarcastic comment. I can outmatch you on both. I just can’t hold silence as softly, tightly and closely as you do. Your silences only have room for one, shutting out people right next to you. Thankfully they don’t last long. 
You break out of them quickly enough to tell me why caffeine is your drug of choice. I’m not sure you ever completed that story. Is it because coffee is a hot drink and doesn’t give you hallucinations? Damn you, do you see what you’ve left me with? 

You’re the moonlit girl who looks like she’s always mid-sentence or mid-leaving. 
Maybe you’re afraid of how you’d feel if you stayed. Maybe you think I’ll figure out how your caffeine story actually ends and ruin your big reveal at the next party.

Maybe I should tell you who I really am, but much like you darling girl, I place far too much premium on mystery.

Isn't that half the magic anyway?

Yours In Jest And Without,

                                                                    (Because letters were meant to be felt on paper.                                                                           To You, will post your letter for you as well)

(To You is a letter writing project I started because there are not enough letters and love going around. If you have something to say with love-- for your ex girlfriend, you current husband, pizza (promise not to make it cheesy), your landlord who let you skip rent or even Benedict Cumberbatch-- I'll write that letter for you.
The final letter will be up on my blog and a copy will be handwritten and posted to you or to an intended recepient. Kisses on the envelope only on my discretion.
Give me a shout at: )