Thursday, 20 October 2016

To You, Aish

(Background: Namratha called me to write this letter for her best friend, Aishwarya.
Me: “I’ve barely been doing To You letters, Nams. I don't want to commit to something I may not be able to do. I want to be very particular about what I take on.”
Nams: "You can’t be more particular than Aish. I mean....."
She followed up that gibberish half sentence with three pages on how amazing Aish is and proceeded to give me one of the longest interviews ever. She was right I haven’t heard a more loving story in a long time.
Happy birthday Aish, sorry this took a long time coming, hope you’re smiling when you read this.)

To You

Anyone who knows me can testify how casually I sometimes use the word “best friend”. Anyone who knows you can testify how seriously you take this role.
How you wear the word around your shoulder like a red suede cape. 
What else would explain the countless times you’ve flown to my rescue no matter which part and weight of the world I’m curled under? 

I don’t remember a life change you haven’t Captain navigated me through. 
From the time I wanted to switch from tech to marketing and had trouble with my first presentation. Or the time I failed my first GMAT attempt and like a soul wizened beyond years you took me to have cheap wine (Rs.125!) and somehow I came out of there hopeful, shiny and very, very buzzed. Like a knight in shining armour I wouldn't recognise at first, you came into my life in Class 12 on your sidey Kinetic Honda, which in your hyper-active imagination was almost a bullet! The revs and throttles still resound on MG Road. 
We had the routine that most kids about to enter college do: aim to escape home and roam wild for as long as you can. Especially if the day of the week was Wednesday and everyone was going to be at FBar. An espionage level of lying mechanism would auto-kick into place: Rachita would say she was at Swati’s house,who claimed to be at the college fest and I would be over at yours.

Those days and nights seem like a 90s music video blur to me. Time was endless, the days stretching on like sticky toffee and the city was our personal playground. The weather seemed to congratulate our bad behaviour and despite your asthma we’d ride like warriors into the rain, singing at the top of our lungs and getting soaked to our bones.

Some of the rain from those scooter rides must’ve sneaked inside and set up tenements inside my bones. It’s what keeps me warm on days when life seems like a badly written plotline.

Sneakily and without notice Aish, you turned into my family, foundation and the space from where I takeoff on happy days and on other days where I put my head down to rest (even if via texts). Because everything’s safer and quieter there.
Which is why I worry when you worry.

You’ve been going through a phase where your self worth and you are making faces at each other. But Anju, you’re the girl who has it all. That fact is standing at your door like a childhood classmate waiting for you to recognize and embrace it.
Since you’re a fan of lists, here’s mine:

You left a job at a top consultancy to run your own startup in the developmental sector.

You are dedicated like a Buddhist monk in prayer, when it comes to going to the gym and focusing on fitness.

You take Kathak classes with such dedication that after 3 years of brilliance you even performed on stage, while all my hobbies till date have a life span of a two weekends.

You’re learning the piano.

Despite being hurt in love, you can stretch your heart to love as well and as hard as only you do. Ask anyone who has been loved by you and they’ll attest.

In a world where people are built and destroyed daily over likes, you have your own personal cheering squad: one so head over heels in love with you that they will fly in from Singapore for a weekend if you find yourself unable to face the world. (Hi Li!).

Just listing this out gave me a headrush. And while you’re doing all this, which to me is short of running a country, you manage to check in on a friend if she’s having a rough time.

Do you see what I mean Anju? You’re superhuman and that terrible Kinetic was a cost-cutting alien ship.

So this is what I want for you this year my darling girl.

To see you like we do. To be staggered, bewildered and amazed by your own accomplishments, grit and ability to extend yourself. This year stop judging yourself by any harsh standards and until you find your own, take mine for you. (Cheat sheet: you’ve excelled in all parameters already, you can really just take the whole year off.)

You’ve struggled with your weight for a while and while on some days the road ahead to perfection is all you see, what I see and admire are the three years of hard work, dedicated fitness goals and the amazing journey you’ve covered, warrior-princess.

This year Anju, I want for you to know that I would not want to live in a world where Anju doesn’t love me. 

And I hope you don’t have to anymore either.

Happy birthday beautiful.


(Nams and Aish, in Aishwarya's room where they did most of their growing up, 2011)

                                          (Aishwarya, Hampi , 2011)

(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 love letter can go with real names, back stories, as many pictures as you like, aliases and even super powers.
The final letter will be up on my blog and a copy will be handwritten and posted to you or to an intended recipient. Kisses on the envelope only on my discretion. Give me a shout at: )

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Mukhtasar ~ Stories From Urdu

(Urdu; Brief)

The lifetime it took for an unemployed, aimless dust particle, high above the Earth's atmosphere, to freeze into a crystal.
Turning its body into art no one had or will ever see before, only to fall like a candy droplet from the sky and melt into oblivion against the heat of your skin.

Like I did.

#StoriesFromUrdu (Watch the video here)

Wednesday, 5 October 2016

Baraqat ~ Stories From Urdu

(Urdu; Blessings, a benediction)

Fat purple feathers, a head of plumage, her face obscured by a party of silver sequins on it. That's how she stood at the station waiting for her train.

Another at a lunch, had on a tail and dog ears trying to balance a drink while wearing boxing gloves.
I almost forgot that doll-faced fairy, so surly all she ever did was curse.

The best blessings I've run into all looked like costume party rejects.
My favourite ones looked nothing like they were supposed to.

#StoriesFromUrdu #HyperboleMuch #PeopleAreStrangeWordsAreStranger (Watch the video here.)

Haqeeqat ~ Stories From Urdu

(Urdu; Reality)

The sages, the yogis, the shamans, the poets and Sufis
Built silences, dances, sermons and songs,
All of which you searched through,
Turned inside out, and peered into--
Never realising that you best created your own:


#StoriesFromUrdu (Watch the video here.)