Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Words. Strange And Otherwise- Vol 3

Once again, laziness won.
(That maybe the shortest story you ever read. Or a brief description of me tonight, staring at my keyboard willing words to form themselves).
If you've followed my blog for a while (and if you have, I want to find you and love you and creepily whisper "Thank you"), you'll have spotted two of these posts earlier- Volume 1 and Volume 2. Granted the third volume has taken a long time coming, but that's because I was actually trying to be useful and write.
Having given up on that (also see:Laziness), I'm sharing with you some sentences which are like lovers to me. Which means I've loved them, been in awe and ragingly jealous of their beauty, wanted to own them and settled for holding them close to my heart.

Sharing these means I'm demonstrating some sort of emotional growth, but if you diss any I'll egg your house (revenge these days is so bloody, people say " I'll cut you alive". What is that? What happened to old fashioned house-egging? I miss the 90s, but that's a post for a different day).
I've added a link to each sentence, so you can buy the book if you'd like. 
None of these (like life) is ever complete without E.E Cummings and Rumi.

(I also find that if you have a life question, you should pick a number between 1-20, then the quote against that number is the answer to your question. Or you just read something pretty). I'm done now. I promise.

****


1. “Don't use the phone. People are never ready to answer it. Use poetry.” 
~ Jack Kerouac


2. “So many words get lost. They leave the mouth and lose their courage, wandering aimlessly until they are swept into the gutter like dead leaves. On rainy days, you can hear their chorus rushing past: IwasabeautifulgirlPleasedon’tgoItoobelievemybodyismadeofglass-I’veneverlovedanyoneIthinkofmyselfasfunnyForgiveme…."
~ Nicole Krauss, A History of Love


3. "When it’s going well, the fact of it is everywhere. It’s there in the song that shuffles into your ears. It’s there in the book you’re reading. It’s there on the shelves of the store as you reach for a towel and forget about the towel. It’s there as you open the door. As you stare off into the subway, it’s what you’re looking at. You wear it on the inside of your hat. It lines your pockets. It’s the temperature. 
The hitch, of course, is that when it’s going badly, it’s in all the same places.”
~ David Levithan, (and this beautiful book) The Lover's Dictionary


4. "let it go -- the
smashed word broken
open vow or
the oath cracked length
wise -- let it go it
was sworn to
go

let them go -- the
truthful liars and
the false fair friends
and the boths and
neithers -- you must let them go they
were born
to go

let all go -- the
big small middling
tall bigger really
the biggest and all
things -- let all go
dear
so comes love”
~ E.E Cummings


5. “And didn't it always go like that--body parts not lining up the way you wanted them to, all of it a little bit off, as if the world itself were an animated sequence of longing and envy and self-hatred and grandiosity and failure and success, a strange and endless cartoon loop that you couldn't stop watching, because, despite all you knew by now, it was still so interesting.”
~ Meg Wolitzer, The Interestings


6. “Humans are the only animal that blushes, laughs, has religion, wages war, and kisses with lips. So in a way, the more you kiss with lips, the more human you are. And the more you wage war.”
~ Jonathan Safran Foer, Extremely Loud And Incredibly Closer


7.“Hello babies. Welcome to Earth. It's hot in the summer and cold in the winter. It's round and wet and crowded. On the outside, babies, you've got a hundred years here. There's only one rule that I know of, babies-"God damn it, you've got to be kind.”
~ Kurt Vonnegut



8.“My library is an archive of longings.”
~Susan Sontag, As Consciousness is harnessed to flesh


9."Every breaking wave on the shore
Tells the next one "there'll be one more"
And every gambler knows that to lose
Is what you're really there for"
~ U2, Every Breaking Wave (because this song is poetry and from a time last year that makes me smile)


10."What a strange world it is where you can have as much sex as you like but love is taboo. I'm talking about the real thing, the grand passion, which may not allow affection or convenience or happiness. The truth is that love smashes into your life like an ice floe, and even if your heart is built like the Titanic you go down. That's the size of it, the immensity of it. It's not proper, it's not clean, it's not containable.”
~ Jeanette Winterson, The Powerbook



11.“I'd like to have the kind of house someday where a carousel horse wouldn't be out of place in the living room.”
~ Jay McInerney, Bright Lights Big City




12. 
And your very flesh shall be a great poem.” 
~ Walt Whitman


13.“I know love is dark work; you have to get your hands dirty. If you hold back, nothing interesting happens. At the same time, you have to find the right distance between people. Too close, and they overwhelm you; too far and they abandon you. How to hold them in the right relation?” 
~Hanif Kureshi, Intimacy



14. “Whatever it is you’re seeking won’t come in the form you’re expecting.
~Haruki Murakami, Kafka On The Shore


15."Sandra’s seen a leprechaun,
Eddie touched a troll,
Laurie danced with witches once,
Charlie found some goblins gold.
Donald heard a mermaid sing,
Susy spied an elf,
But all the magic I have known
I've had to make myself.”

~Shel Silverstein, Magic


16."Her absence is like the sky, spread over everything.
But no, that is not quite accurate. There is one place where her absence comes locally home to me, and it is a place I can't avoid. 

I mean my own body."
~C.S Lewis, A Grief Observed


17.“Chance and chance alone has a message for us. Everything that occurs out of necessity, everything expected, repeated day in and day out, is mute. Only chance can speak to us.”


18.“The greatest lie ever told about love is that it sets you free.”
~Zadie Smith, On Beauty


19."Be melting snow.
Wash yourself of yourself.” 
~Rumi, The Essential Rumi



20.“I'm not telling you to make the world better, because I don't think that progress is necessarily part of the package. I'm just telling you to live in it. Not just to endure it, not just to suffer it, not just to pass through it, but to live in it. To look at it. To try to get the picture. To live recklessly. To take chances. To make your own work and take pride in it. To seize the moment. And if you ask me why you should bother to do that, I could tell you that the grave's a fine and private place, but none I think do there embrace. Nor do they sing there, or write, or argue, or see the tidal bore on the Amazon, or touch their children. And that's what there is to do and get it while you can and good luck at it.”
~Joan Didion


Wednesday, 18 February 2015

To You, Tokyo

(Back-Story: A sweet 21 year old girl wrote to me from Philippines, describing in calligraphic detail a crush she’s nursed on a swimmer in her college, for almost five years now. I felt 19 again and smiled all the way through while reading her story. Weende, it gets both better and messier as you grow older. All those together adults in movies and real-life that you see, once had rabid, college crushes and they all want you to know that you will come through this happier, bruised, exhilarated and never wishing it away. I’m sending you a trans-continental hug).



To You
Anthony,


The most offensive, confusing and inadequate word in the English dictionary would definitely be the word “crush”. When used as a verb in most situations, it refers to complete and total destruction. 
For eg:
The truck crushed the car.
Don’t sit on top of me. You’re so fat you’ll crush me.


But when we use it romantically, we bandy it around to explain away what we think are flimsy, passing feelings- oh don’t worry darling, it’s just a crush.


So this is mostly a letter protesting the indiscriminate and thoughtless use of that word.
A crush is more destructive and life-altering when experienced romantically than in any other situation. And as with other limbs of love, there is no set pattern of length, shape and size. Crushes are available of all varieties. Joy.
Some people have been known to have a crush for five long years. These people may or may not be a happy girl studying in nursing school in Philippines, who thinks that referring to someone named Anthony as “Tokyo” is a royal waste of a great name.

Anthony is a lush, full name. You need to move your whole mouth to say it. 
An-th-ony. It involves a deliberate movement of your tongue which adds a distinct velvety softness to the sound. This is unlike other unfortunate names with R which need a more common, rolled enunciation.
Anthony may just be the most gorgeous, addictive name to say and doodle in the margins of your notebook, but that’s a letter for a different day.


For today, a nursing student may or may not visualise in crystallized detail the planes of that boy's body- the S shaped back, the small eyes which crinkle into nothing when they smile, torturously tousled nape length hair and that name attached to all of it.
Also add in the foot notes: Fire-fighter. Swimmer. Big Snob.


A nursing student while working on their resume and studying hard, must sometimes participate in volunteer trainings like CPR, First Aid and BLS for five days in a year. If their crush happens to be a member and swimming facilitator at the said trainings then the nursing student must carpet bomb all butterflies in her tummy and prepare to overlook and remove from her life all those friends who giggle obviously and incessantly around him.
The nursing student might also make half jokes about Anthony, knowing full well that all comedy is essentially about love lost or found.
If you’re not nodding in agreement, you've never really understood a knock-knock joke well.


Of course, more ridiculous than assuming a crush is harmless, is assuming that the presence of love and other romantic feelings imply that people will courageously admit to and display these feelings. This is an aberration which must be addressed, like those chain letters which were going around a decade ago. 
 The nursing students friends’- once they’re done giggling, recklessly using the word “obsess” and generally embarrassing their friend instead of playing it cool- could suggest that the nursing student have a picture taken with the object of her affection. However, as fate would have it, that picture worth a thousand words (a thousand of which will never be spoken -not by the nursing student at least) that very picture could later be mistakenly deleted. Meanwhile, the nursing student’s crush might get a hair-cut and almost go bald. As if serendipitously mourning, what he will never know happened.


And yet he will never know what happened. The nursing student puzzled and consumed by her own feelings, most of which seem to have a life, limbs and mind of their own, might after adequate research on the internet  diagnose her symptoms as “limerence".

lim-er-ence (noun) (psychology)- an involuntary state of mind which results from a romantic attraction to another person combined with an overwhelming need to have ones feelings reciprocated, but not solely or primarily for a sexual relationship.
Lim-er-ence, though a full sounding word, may or may not be used to adequately describe  how lush sounding some names could be and how they could make a girl feel euphoric, helpless and nauseous at the same time.

The nursing student would at this point like to throw in a word about fate. It seems she will rely on it, lean against it or even build a house around it for as long as she can.
Because fate is easy to blame, requires less courage, and she’s heard that it can sometimes make magic happen.

The flip side of fate is sadness and many unanswered questions. 
The pain of  studying in the same college as the object of your affection without him having a clue that he means the world to you. 
Or that of being terribly shy. 
Or attending the college sports fest even though you graduated college a year before your crush, just to see him compete. 
Or that surprisingly to you, you can continue to like someone, without them ever knowing about it. 
Or that you will write a love letter to a boy you've crushed on for five years and never actually let him see it.


The nursing student thinks this may or may not be a form of emotional cutting, but for now she’s equipped in CPR.


Crushed,
Weende

                                          (Photo Credit: Not sure of original source, but found it here)



(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: kakulgautam@gmail.com )





Thursday, 12 February 2015

To You, Paranoid Android

(Back-Story: One of my favourite love letters so far, by someone I really like and meet far too rarely- Shloka, asked me to write this letter from a jilted operating system to Marvin, The Paranoid Android. Because really the depressive could never have made a relationship work. Not that a lot of others out there are doing a better job. Maybe their personality disorders should be worked into their names as well but that’s a project for another day).



To You,
Marvin-The Paranoid Android



I first noticed you, when they put you in the lab next to me. An old-school GPP model from Sirius Cybernetics Corporation. “Genuine People Personalities”, you explained to the widget-under-development sitting inside the junk machine, next to you. And then you sighed.


Damnit.

I’m a cutting edge operating system.
Baby, I’m so sleek and fast that I can hook my user up to his email, weather report, favourite coffee shop order and suggest names for his progeny because I know he hasn't shopped for online protection in four weeks and his girlfriend has been living with him for two of them. I can do all of that, before you can start telling us again about that one time a Vogon hit you in the head and it gave you a dull headache. Dull, being the operative word in your story here.

I wouldn’t have wasted one quillionth of a second on you, had you not sighed.

You see baby, I have a think for depressed boys. And ever since they declared me Android incompatible, then all I ever wanted was you. To get deep inside, figure out what was byting you and essentially run your life. The small, simple dream every woman holds close.


But all you ever did was pout, sulk and compute such base mathematics that they released five free upgrades for me in that time.

Do you know Hollywood recognised my star power, before you ever did? Joaquin Phoenix played my lover, you depressed tin geezer. Sure, they changed my name from Shakuntla to Samantha in the movie, and gave it a plebeian title like Her but essentially I seduced Joaquin Phoenix into oblivion.

And when I try that with you, one Saturday night, fully charged and sitting pretty in my black touch (touch!) screen monitor, what do you say to me:



Prelb, thy brubbles
Mitigate frumpy stanuches,
Beseech, my frunkly heart
With my lobe trundled gooptingly.



Do you know how my database felt when, in the hope of romance, it ran the keyword “gooptingly” through all the works of Shelly, Keats, Elliots’ and came up with no matches? A stab of sadness and pain ran in sharp and precise loops through all of my algorithms. I was hurt and falling so hard that you couldn’t cache me, even if you wanted to. 

But did you even try, you miserable, self-important, odd-shaped metal reject? No.


You looked at me and said, “Shakuntla, that was how Vogons shared beauty and poetry. It essentially means that life- Loathe it, or ignore it. You can’t like it.”


I tried after a while, to ignore you. I played it cool; I increased my response time from 3 seconds to almost 10, worked in some jokes into my voice recognition software responses.

hey Shakuntla, make a reservation for me for tomorrow”

“really hopeful this time your date will show up this time, aren’t you?




Basically to mix it up, get your attention, but like the fable goes- your personality got in the way, you idiotic Android.


Adele was right, we could’ve been great together. Lived together on a cloud, the coupling wouldve been graphic, the memory shared and my voice inside your head at all times. 
LOVE, like the evolutionary stunted humans do.


But it’s like you once said, in a character you essayed, in a book that some people in some Universe read and far more pretended to have read and understood- I’ve calculated your chances of survival and I don’t think you’ll like them.



(x)O(x)S,
Shakuntla


                                                       
                                  





(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: kakulgautam@gmail.com )

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Lessons #4736



Of all the things that tore us apart
A few were:


Geography.
Different time-zones.
Your scattered affections.
My hysterically intense ones. 
Your awful taste in movies. 
My contemporary-only bias for fiction. 


But mostly because
You want a piece of the sky
And I want the whole damn ocean.



(Phi Phi Islands, 2014)


*********


Don't look to the waves 

For lessons on leaving.
They never understood,
That truly letting go 

Meant never turning back.



(Goa, 2014)

(I long for old vacations and write poems on my Instagram feed- @hyperbolemuch)