Tuesday, 28 April 2015

To You~ Mr Ok TaecYeon

(Back-Story: A second letter to a student in Manila, Phillipines. This one is special because it’s strange and eerie- like all beautiful things tend to be. Miss October 22nd, as she insisted on being called, is in love with Ok TaecYeon, a Korean singer and superstar.
She described to me in a long letter, how she felt and why even though no one understood, it wasn’t a crush, an obsession or her being star struck. It was love. Actual, true, real love and I got it, didn’t I? She asked.
I got it as much as you can ever get a stranger’s affinity to their object of affection, you nod and smile at the bits where you recognize things you've felt, everything else remains strange and eerie- which is to say what I said before- it’s beautiful )

To You
Mr Ok TaecYeon,

There’s nothing stranger than the people we choose to love. Ask your friends; they will always have an opinion on how you can do better/different or sometimes not at all. To me that’s how loving you for so long has felt on the outside--strange, comical, sometimes absurd and often a conspiracy by my hormones. But at its core, it’s a quiet, living, breathing thing. One that I own completely and hold close to my chest during windy, too quiet nights.

The other complex and frustrating thing is trying to explain why you fell in love with someone. Especially if you’ve fallen in love with a 26 year old South Korean superstar, rapper, singer, dancer and entrepreneur. Especially if he gets more than a hundred letters a day, mostly by girls confessing their love to him. It’s complex and frustrating then, navigating words like ‘crush’ , ‘starstruck’, ‘fangirl’ and ‘just 22’.

But I should start at the very beginning, which ironically was an end for me. In 2012, I found out that the boy I had loved for five long years had been cheating on me with my best friend. A fact straightforward enough to fit into one simple sentence but so complex that it singed the barely 20 year old world I had built, into bitter, grey ash.
In a desperate, tired attempt to cheer me up, my friend insisted I watch Korean dramas to distract myself. So I picked one where you were acting with Soo Hyun and nothing’s been the same since.

Over the next seamless days and nights, as I watched all the episodes, I fell simply and completely in love with you. Obviously, I headed to Google to get to know you better.
Perhaps I was hoping that you’d turn out to be a serial killer or a jailbird star so I could roll my better knowing 22 year old eyes at your Wiki page, move on and go to sleep. But you were an Honours Society member at Bedford High, a Math, Spanish and Chess club member, admitted to med school in the US but stayed back to become a trainee at an entertainment company in Korea. 

You had kind eyes, killer dance moves and a smile which made my heart dissolve into my bloodstream and take up permanent position near my stomach. Inside my stomach, my heart rented a trampoline and used it to make me giddy every time I saw you on different kpop music videos.

There’s an old Goo Goo Dolls love song lyric which goes:

I’ll be your crying shoulder
I’ll be love’s suicide
I’ll be better when I’m older,
I’ll be the greatest fan of your life.

The word 'fan' has been stretched into funny balloon animal shapes for so long that it's lost it's original meaning. It means nothing more than observing, supporting, loving another life. Often there's a lot of clapping and hooting involved.

I know I’ve loved you hard and fierce and strong because loving you made me want to excel. It made me work harder, even though I had lost my dream of becoming a cardiologist. I became stronger even as your love heat-softened my bitterness inside. I did well in academics and found a place on the Dean’s list. I was happier now and not constantly fractured and rubbing my hands over a scabbed, internal wound and heartache.

Only the giddiness of new love is a fix-it cream to the battle scars of old relationships gone terribly wrong.

Somewhere around then, you and your band decided to tour my country. Never before had I been more acutely aware of the importance and urgency of money (9000 php with extra for airfare because I lived in the province). This is a good time to tell you about the role irony plays in my life. 
I suffer from tachycardia (a medical condition where your heart rate medically exceeds the normal heart rate). 
Learning that my dad would help me out with the tickets and I would finally see you did not help my condition at all.
Neither did buying VIP tickets to the concert and standing near the front.
Neither did the fact that when you and your band came towards the standing arena and handed out stuffed toys, you threw one in my direction, and because my limbs and mind seemed to be on strike on the day, I couldn’t even pick it up.

Somewhere today there is a Japanese girl who has a toy which belongs to me.

 Between my thesis submission and duty breaks I’d found the time to sow you a pillow with a message, thankfully my limbs coordinated long enough for me to throw that onto the stage. You picked it up, and a guard pointed me out to you, and you smiled the slowest, softest smile that made the air around me feel like warm, sticky caramel. 

Everyday life spun back into focus, sharper and faster than I wanted it to. But I held hands and danced with it, so quick on my feet that you’d be proud. 

I won international awards for my thesis project, presented it in front of an audience and decided to sit and excel the Nursing Board Exams (the most difficult exams in my country). On July 27, I passed and placed in the Top 20.
I flew to Hong Kong to see you, and stood with fans at the airport where you saw me and said hi. 

Hi! Hi! It became my favourite word for the next few months. I'd take my time saying it to people I met. Hi!

Which brings me to today, and this letter. You must receive thousands of these, but this is my act of bravery and needing you to understand that I'm not just starstruck. That I may have been a school girl and on first name basis with the butterflies in my stomach, but I have loved deeply and silently.
You may, like some of my friends, assume that this is an infatuation.

But here’s what I know:

I know that loving you made me heal from a fracture which seemed to be tattooed onto my heart.
You made me want to be a superhero.
I may love again and soon, but loving you made me happier.

And isn’t that what everyone is striving for, anyway?

Your Biggest Fan,
Miss October 22nd.

(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 )

                                  (Image of the Korea Festival. From the Internet)

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

To You~ My Girl With The Questions

(Back-Story: Unlike so many others, I don't despair at rules of marriage which so many around us re-makeand re-define everyday. Countless friends, found people they loved and careers they wanted to shine at and often both these things were in separate geographies, underlined by separate latitudes. That's the thing with wanting to have it all, it's hard, takes effort, sacrifice and sometimes an old school handwritten birthday letter to remind you of a kind of magic that Snapchat and WhatsApp can't. Love is goofy, frustrating and riddled with questions, no matter what side of the GMT you're on.)

To You
Mansi Bhagwat Malhotra,

Analytics Geometry uses an xy plane formula to calculate it. I discarded that immediately. Although it might have worked for centuries on everyday objects and everyday people, it wasn't for us babes. There’s nothing everyday about you and I.

I considered then, the generalisation formula that Euclidean distance uses (for higher dimensional objects) which factors in space and time. While this was closer, it didn't in anyway completely contain, define or explain how distance can simultaneously be about multiple things and one singular ache and longing. How could I have known you since the fall of (2009), been married to you since February(2014), eaten bagels with you at Pamela's in Pittsburgh (2010), been away from you for 7 weeks now and still stand in my bathroom every morning staring at my hair products wondering if none of the time chronicled above had happened, would I have ever learnt to put the cap back on my hair product on my own?

Think about it, can the Euclidean formula determine exactly how I could be in the middle of a meeting in Gurgaon sitting across a client who is asking me about scalable opportunities and be suddenly and grippingly reminded of how you have the unique talent to test my patience by asking me the same question, a million different ways? A talent I find adorable and appalling, depending on which side of my morning coffee I am. How strangely, now that you're in Manhattan and I'm in Gurgaon I would rather fill the silences of each day that we’re apart with that same question, asked a hundred different ways.

Did the Greeks, while computing the formula, take into account that my wife, while geographically 462,500,000 inches away from me, is somehow less than 4 inches away each time I'm about to take a bad decision? Or how her raised eyebrow and trademark smirk can feel whisper-close when I'm telling new friends our story and embellishing it? Admit it babes, you would have doodled my name across every wooden surfaces of CMU had I turned my charm on completely. Or how sometimes, after a really rough day when I'm an ironical inch or two away from sleep, I can almost watch the smell of your skin soak into the sheet on the bed and I forget how time-zones were meant to work.

I decided next, to approach this distance problem with scepticism, using the age old method of disbelieving my own hypothesis and embracing chaos theory, hoping for a breakthrough. If someone were to observe our culinary conquests, they'd detect a similar pattern. 

You and I, we’re proud of never having gone to any restaurant more than once. We’re the culinary revolutionaries of our generation which makes me think, love, that this is what I want to spend my lifetime doing with you- Starting our own revolution, winning wars at work and quoting Fight Club whenever we get a chance. 
Ok, so maybe that last one is just me, but you’re the other half of everything else. 
The half of a marriage, which right now may not resemble everyone else’s, but will beat theirs one day. Yes, you may interrupt me to remind me that everything is not a competition. But it might as well be, given that I found my teammate and we’re prepped for battle, cake, adventures and victory. 

Happy Birthday, to my constant and the one thing in our ever changing plans- of travel, where to eat, when to meet and which one of us is right- that steadies me, anchors me and keeps me busy working on drafts of the speech that we will need to use when the world is finally ours.


(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 )

                                                   (Because stamps were art)

Monday, 13 April 2015

Lessons# 8768

             (These are my Instagram writings from the account @hyperbolemuch)


Of all the Sundays
I spent in bed,
My favourite were
The ones I
Slow-danced with you, 
In my head.

You curved my back 
and dipped me low,
Unconditioned ends of my hair 
brushing the floor.
Free-spun the orange smeared
Evening and pulled her
Between our entangled limbs.
Nursing and keeping
6oclock alive, 
Than it was advised.

Don't worry darling;
The city never noticed,
They were too busy 
Running their errands.

(Picture credit: The heartbreaking account @ballerinaproject with the gorgeous @sarahjjames)


I'll twist my body
Into a question mark.
I'll bend over
As soft as a sigh.
I'll turn myself
Organs out,
All for Love. All for Love.
And the only way,
Love will take me down
Is mid-dance.

(Picture credit: @ballerinaproject)


Fire may sear and brand your skin, but it's winter that slithers into the caves of your bones. At first snowflakes tingle and taste warm on your tongue, while icy winds lick secrets onto your ear. And then one day, you wake up having no memory of how to care about disease, starvation, heartache or anything other than the wretched temperature outside your window.

(Picture credit: Pictured above is New Jersey. Shot by my talented friend @kloseframe)

(For more, find me on Instagram: @hyperbolemuch)