Monday, 28 April 2014

The Persistence Of Memory

The Lost & Found Department,
The Universe

Dear Sir,

There are somethings I seemed to have lost along the way:

That night in August when it rained too hard and I went to bed early.
A crumpled, yellow paper napkin on which we doodled and detailed, reasons why we would be famous by 2020. The first time I saw ‘Into The Wild’. The last time I took Disney soundtracks seriously. The first time I told you I loved you and  buckled under the sheer relief and horror of having said it out loud.

My first drink which I sipped nervously and that second which I gulped down too fast. That almost worn out, red dress which fit me like a second skin at 22 . That July when I spent every evening watering the garden with my grandmother wondering why summer vacations seemed to stretch on forever. That last summer vacation. My left earring from the first friends' wedding I attended. My gold ring from a baby shower I went to this Saturday. 

The day before the day I learnt that ‘postmodern’ was a term which simply meant “everything’s ok, everything goes”.
The first night I spent talking to you till 4am in the park, convinced that I could never run out of words around you.

That afternoon in college I spent staring at blades of grass because class got cancelled and we had nothing better to do. 
The day after when I concluded that being bored was a burden.
 The frenzied belief I had in every promise you made. The joke I refused to laugh at because I was mad at you. Almost all of the times I’d been mad at you. 
All the evenings I spent last year, being stuck in traffic. The eve of my 25th birthday when I realized that adults are also, in fact, just winging it. The day in school assembly we played that mean prank on her. The earnest effort I put in the first work report I ever submitted. The semi derision and boredom with which I approached the others that followed. The feverish belief with which I argued that love is in fact simple. 
The first time I ran out of words with you. 

                                              Over the Seine, image from (here)

The beach vacation we took in January two years ago. Telling my friend I would punch the guy who broke her heart and not following up. The decision I mostly just talked myself into. The almost toxic hope, potato chips, fizzy drinks, enthusiasm and air that my 21 year old self survived on. Not wishing on a coin in the fountain, like my dad said I should. The draft of my first poem I threw away. The keys I lost for the locks I finally forced open. 

The stories I stored up to tell you for the next time we’d meet.

The music cassettes and my worn-in sweatshirt which I misplaced the last time I moved apartments. The pictures I didn't take with my dog because we were too busy playing. The markers of ‘me’ around a city I no longer lived in. The three girls with knee scrapes identical to mine. The secret password we made up for our play meetings.

What you said after the words, “I need to go”. 

The will to stop you.

On second thoughts, if you do find these. Do not return to sender.

                                         (Salvador Dali, for post title credit. And photo credit: here)

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

A Day In The Life Of A BPB Editor (Read: When We Couldn't Find A Story)

(As I hang my hat as Brown Paper Bag, Delhi Editor with more than a year spent at this very cool gig,  I thought I'd write a recommendation letter, the other way around. Since I couldn't squeeze a hug in about 800 words, that is. 
Song to go with it: this)


Dear New Editor,

If you're reading this, you're probably on your third cup of coffee and slightly panicked.
Breathe. It will get better. Or it won't.

Now recline on that chair and remember what you told yourself when you first joined this job
I'm going to love it here because I will find three new, lovely, secret things about my city everyday. It will be glorious, glorious”.

Do not try and replace that thought bubble with “Die. World. Die”.
It will be ok.
We have all been here before you.
We have all survived it.
That newsletter has always gone out.
Which means you're just a cog in this machine or you're a unique snowflake and irreplaceable (I always swung with the snowflake argument).

Here are some ideas on how to get through the day:

1. Call your friends. Now I know when you joined this job you called all of them and laughed loudly about how much fun you will have and how they were all corporate slaves with no souls.

You also sent them 'SUCK IT', texts? Ok. 
Then start with a text about that really emotional moment you shared a gazillion years ago so they have some reason to still love (read: tolerate) you.
Follow up with a meeker text saying “Hey, do you know anything new happening around town?”
If they don't respond, promise them first dibs on your next review.
Free food=Saint. 
Marie Antoinette would know.

Or promise to send them a Thank You dessert box treat (Call Smitha and beg her to arrange this. Promise her a common story and pray that she faced no Andheri traffic while getting to work. Smitha unreachable? Call Kuldeep, he may not be able to help with Delhi editorial but you can borrow some of his unfazed calm to help you through this)

2. If your friends haven't responded. Screw them. Promise yourself to make new friends (they probably did) and go to Google. Google has the answer to everything.

If you're still reading this you probably asked other retarded questions, like “How do I build an empire?”. Try googling key words like “Delhi” and “new”.
I feel I must warn you at this time that you should never go to the “images” tab directly. Many have been wounded for life.

Also keying in – “New Delhi” is not the same thing. You're going to find this out by your third attempt.

3. Is it 4pm already?
You're going to head out into the market like Mansi told you to do in the first place, except you're hoping to get lucky and find something amazing so you can call her to say “Heyyy, you know what I found last week?”. That won't happen. Especially if you head anywhere near a mall.

Here's a tip: If anything is ever opening in a mall next month, over enthusiastic PR people will have called, emailed, texted, and then called you again about it last year.

4. The PR kids can be your friends. Use them. I don't mean for the press releases on which you're BCC-ed. I mean, make friends with them. Don't bark at them when they call you, saying “I'm busy” when you're really just Instagram trolling. You'll be surprised at how much they'll tell you if you're nice. Call them and ask them about events which haven't happened yet.

5. It's 5.30 now and the market + your friends + PR have led to nothing. 
Call Kanika. 
Do NOT burst into tears, because it's so easy to, because she talks so nicely and you don't have any friends (PR or otherwise) left. Breathe. And ask like a self- respecting editor if she has any ideas. She always has a ton of fun editorial things you can do.

6. Moved straight to this point? Ok wimp.
Now troll Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Don't go to your coolest friends' feed. Because if she is really cool, she will be out doing things instead of 'liking' them. Head instead to the feed of the friend who has the most friends. You know, the one who adds someone the first time she meets them? She's on Facebook 24/7 and will probably have seen a new label or shop that you missed while googling or wandering around the wrong neighbourhood.

7. Call or email Mansi (depending on the timezone she is currently in).
Don't give an elaborate backstory about how you always wanted this job and were so excited but lately this city has been letting you down. Stop. Tell her what's wrong, try and keep it to the point and she'll tell you a ton of fun, alternative editorial ideas you could use. Take them and run with them.

But more than anything else. Have fun. 
You're getting paid to eat, drink, shop and fall in love with your city every way from here till Tuesday. It doesn't get better than this.


(Coup Card Round 1. We didn't sleep but always took time to eat, drink and dress well)

(Sage: Where a cushion was a team member and everyone had a favorite spot and later a favorite story to tell)

(The bpb crew: not camera shy)