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 wondered 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? Have you 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 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 fewer 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. )