Ex-Machina And More

I saw Ex-Machina the other day, and one specific scene stuck with me- when the two men were discussing a painting that was hung on the wall.

It seemed to be some abstract art, where the artist had apparently stopped thinking for a while just to paint the picture. In the discussion they were having, one guy flips the question. He asks, what if the artist had done it the other way around? What if he chose to think about every stroke he made before he did?

The response- “He would not have made a single mark.”

This seems like a long, twisted way to explain why I haven’t been writing as much, but I am convinced it’s because I seem to be thinking everything through before I even begin, and then reject it before it dares to step on paper (Website). I-


Today is a sad day. It could have been a happy day, but we don’t talk anymore, so it is a sad day.

Do you ever think about that? the celebrations you could have been part of, but aren’t?

It is part of the loss, of the grieving process of losing someone, and over the last few years, I have been losing a lot of people. I say I am doing it to not lose myself, but each time these people leave they take away parts of me that I will miss forever.

Hurts, but we have to keep living I guess.



I woke up to realise that I have been living an empty life over the past year. How can you live in a city that is not real?

I have, in some weird way, allowed myself to be consumed by fear. It is ridiculous and yet so funny to see this happen. It all begins with my heart, and a senior. She starts talking, and my heart starts beating, thumping, outside my chest. I wish I could make this a film and call it love, but as time teaches you- love doesn’t make your heart race, it makes your heart realise there is no need to race.

Fear becomes known to me through throbbing pain behind my ears where suddenly the glasses I have worn since I was 11 feel like a burden. The weight of seeing and hearing burn into my ears. There is a forbidden wish to not do it ever again, to run away and hide instead.

Why am I scared? What am I scared of?

I am scared of not belonging, in a place I clearly don’t belong. But I’ve been taught too much about staying put, especially if someone is trying to make you feel like you don’t belong.

I am scared of not doing a good enough job. But what does it mean to be good if you have no measure of better?

I am scared, in a fake place, of a fake place. I have seen life in all its pains and pleasures, and I am scared I will never feel that again.


A 1000 Piece Puzzle

On the 8th of January at 7:56PM, I completed my first (and last) 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle. A beautiful picture titled, ‘A walk in Paris.’

Lessons from a jigsaw puzzle:

  1. Everything looks intimidating at first, sometimes you just need to go ahead and do it anyway, because otherwise you’ve just made a mess and not taken responsibility for it.
  2. Pieces that seem to fit together may not actually be meant to be together.
  3. When it gets overwhelming and stops being fun, get up and leave (for a while.)
  4. When two pieces fit, you’ll know, it’s like an orgasm.
  5. Sometimes the pieces will only make sense when you look at them from a very senseless angle (I’m talking in between your legs/ upside down/ leg around your neck type senseless.)
  6. Some pieces may not belong where you thought they did,
  7. And yet, every piece belongs, no matter how odd it may seem to you.
  8. If you force two wrong pieces together, you run the danger of ruining the pieces, and destructing the puzzle.
  9. It may be really small, it may require strong vision, but there is always a clue.
  10. It’s a fucking puzzle, don’t try to seek too many life lessons from it.

How That Night Went

I have only a vague memory of this- the few sensations I could salvage from a piece of memory soaked in alcohol- it was my birthday after all.

We sat on my bed, fresh sheets- a deep red with specks of gold, laid out clean and straight a few hours before. On my body is silk. A sullen pink that could perhaps be mistaken for brown. My hair, freshly washed, so that when we sat very close to each other a few hours later- my back leaning against his chest, his chin on my head, he would be greeted with the scent of coconuts and flora.

Drunk ramblings. My mouth gushing with words that I don’t remember too well. I am overcome with emotion- a typical birthday…

Until I put my head down, covered by coconut and flora-scented hair. I am weeping.

It was the first and the last time, I wept about my father and was held with love. Topics were not changed, water was not poured.

Just two people, on a bed of fresh red, hugging and crying.


The Nature of Silence

A million thoughts and ideas mock me everyday, only to come into a dead silence when confronted with an empty sheet. What to write? what to say? What to do next?

Silence is a power I wish I exercised control over. But it is a blank slate I use and misuse on many occasions. An after effect for heated arguments, to conceal episodes of immense disappointment, something to hide behind during moments of climactic confusion.

There are many well known virtues to this state of meditation. To be able to hold your silence even in the loudest calamities has been proclaimed a sign of wisdom. It allows for observation and reflection- to source minute details, tiny changes in body language, in facial expressions. Silence is in fact, a very practical implementation- and an important pre-requisite, of the ‘show don’t tell’ method.

And yet, silence is also a tool of the coward. An escape for those who don’t know how to deal with the world. A betrayal by the privileged.

I dangle often between these two perspectives, wondering where my silence would fall. I think about whether it may have dared to cross lines, and maintain even more silence in this anxiety. Didn’t my silence betray loved ones? Didn’t my silence also help me learn more? Didn’t my silence make me seem like a thoughtless fool- a heavy, soggy, sponge that soaks in whatever was poured into my ear? Didn’t my silence also seem powerful enough to convey my disproval?

An interview tip I had once heard long ago went like this- When they ask you a question, maintain silence for about 5 seconds before you answer, this helps you compose yourself, collect your thoughts, all while making you seem more thoughtful and intelligent.

But what if those 5 seconds of silence are nothing but a head start for the panic in your head? What if there are no beneficial thoughts to be collected, only sharp pieces of a cruel mirror, determined to make you reflect on your pathetic state?

Silence then, has to be accompanied with self respect, with faith in oneself. It has it’s own timing. A background and story. Perhaps all we can do is be patient, and wait for these silences to explain themselves over time.


The Spirit of Onam

It was best to stay away from Malayalam in school because God forbid you had the “Mallu Accent.” Dad spoke just enough English to be understood, wrote with notorious spelling mistakes, and pronounced English words in his own way with a rich Malayalam accent that could make any Linguist blush. Mom also figured it out in practice while working in Dubai. They raised us in an English world so that we wouldn’t have to take anybody’s shit (looking at all the North Indians).

It was great when I became fluent in English. Nobody could put me down, at least not grammatically. Heck, I even have a degree in it now. But you can’t run away from your mother tongue. Sure, you can hide from it amongst different languages, but one day you realize that you need her more than she needs you. Not knowing Malayalam meant burning a bridge to my past, to the circumstances that lead to my existence, to the stories that better explained my parents than any amount of observation could. In short, it cost me dearly.

It meant that I could never have in-depth conversations with a man who had so much wisdom- my father. I could never ask relatives for elaborate discussions of fun stories about my parents to use in my writings. Couldn’t establish Bangalore day’s type relations with cousins because conversations never crossed the surface, and was clueless in the face of peaceful sounding words armed with threatening undertones spewed by greedy uncles.

But mother tongues are loving, if you put effort she will flow into you naturally, instantly make you feel a sense of belonging. She will give you a whole new world if you choose to accept her, love her, embrace her without embarrassment.

This Onam was my first visit to my grandmother where I was able to sustain a conversation. She married at 21 and has two younger sisters (one has passed away) and an older sister(who passed away a few days ago). She studied only till the 3rd form because the school was too far away, and she sees dreams of her late husband. She doesn’t interact with him, she just observes him working in the fields. Sometimes, she even dreams of us.

And that is the spirit of Onam, it is not just Maaveli who comes back to his land on this day, it is all of us. Our essence has been stamped out of existence in a colonial, Brahmanical world. But then Onam comes armed with its food and flowers, ready to take us all back under the reign of Maaveli, who made us all equally bold, equally loved, and equally proud.

A very happy Onam to all of us!


This is SUPER Funny, Dude

This is a funny piece of writing. Really, it is. Right now you are reading a line that will make you smirk. This line makes you exhale heavier, and this (little addition in a bracket has just wowed your mind.)

I am telling you, this is a funny piece. There are bits and pieces of humor at the end of EVERY sentence, it’s REALLY funny. This sentence just made you throw your head back and say, “HA!” And then your eyes quickly rolled back to this sentence because you are so thoroughly amused by what you are reading right now.

I don’t know why, but you look like you don’t believe me when I tell you that this is a funny piece. You’re not reading this carefully enough, I swear on my sense of humor this is super fucking hilarious. This line right here was supposed to be a very witty one that catches you super, super unexpectedly. Like, you didn’t even see it coming. No what the fuck it’s not my girlfriend. You cant date a piece of writing you moron what are you on?

You know what? fuck you. This is not a lazy piece of writing from a person with a non existent sense of humor. It’s a fucking Pandemic. We need more light hearted, funny pieces to read now more than ever. This piece is a fucking God send, such heavenly humor.

You suck. This is funny. You just don’t know how to read. It’s so funny you can’t even. Right now anybody else would be partly wanting to come back and read more, and partly unable to because they just read some of the funniest lines ever and can’t stop laughing because their stomach is aching from all the laughter and they can’t catch their breath.

I don’t want any asphyxiation complaints so I am legally required to end here because my jokes are killing/to die for/so dope that it’s illegal. But this was a goddamn funny piece of fucking writing.


I’m Sorry Aunt Julia!

Somewhere between 2 and 2:30AM yesterday (which is actually today), I finished a true, soulful reading of Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter. The book was picked up while I was in a sense of denial (I would choose when my degree ends, and it’s not now) and for some reason, this time (as opposed to the ten times in my first semester) the book did not leave me, not at the first page or the fifth, not even at the one hundred fifth.

It stayed with me as I explored the versatile Alberto De Quinteros, drank copious amounts of verbena-and-mint tea (which in my house translated to lavender tea), and listened to Marito’s various short stories while ever so slightly (wink) getting turned on by his romance with Aunt Julia. I explored Peru and it’s many villages, and marveled, constantly, at the hypocrisy of Pedro Camacho, who ‘hated’ Argentines like I hate men- with a loving passion.

This book made me feel many emotions as I read it- Llosa’s magic? but every time I closed the book (with much difficulty) only one emotion triumphed- regret. I looked at old question papers from my first semester (because I am a pack rat like that) and whined at how much better my answers could (and should) have been answered, and at the amount of sense the questions made now. Perhaps that is why I am whining here too now. I am grieving a huge loss. Not of marks (ew), but of class room discussions that could have been, of inspirations that could have inspired, and of a new, generic way of looking at 50 year old men- “a broad forehead, an aquiline nose, a penetrating gaze, the very soul of rectitude and goodness,” (it really does apply to many 50 year old men, think about it.)

And so, to get over this, I must follow, just this once, what Pedro Camacho did all throughout- ‘Once his scripts had been broadcast, he forgot about them.’ I too must forget.

Hmm, what was our Pedrito feeling guilty about, then? Did he too have writer’s anxiety? How will these tragic thoughts of Anika’s mind end?


What Do You Hear?

The first day of college in my first year. Prof. VJ had come in to declare two important things. First, that we had to secure a copy of Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter and begin reading it, and second, that we had to observe the sounds we hear when we wake up in the morning, and share it with her in our next class.

Today I embarrassingly recall being driven up and down what I now know as Church Street, searching for a place I now know too well- Blossoms Book House. I secured a neat little second hand copy of Llosa’s fine work, the previous owner being a senior of mine. But it was the second task that proved more daunting to me. Staying in a Hotel near college because you haven’t found accommodation yet means you won’t hear typical morning neighborhood sounds. The sound I heard, was ‘Happy’ by Pharell Williams. I remember Prof. VJ’s expression when this observation slithered out of my mouth- she was not so happy.

A few months ago I had managed to ask Prof. VJ what she was trying to make us understand through this hearing activity. She said (and I paraphrase) she just wanted us to realize how often we use words that are not our own. We love to say “chirping birds” without pausing to think that here screeching crows are far more common, and much more audible in the morning.

Three years have passed, and I am almost done with my course. I woke up today and began my coffee concocting ritual when I heard something that made me pause my pouring and swooshing. I had heard a bird. Not your regular bird with it’s regular sound descriptions. This bird was not chirping, it was not screeching, not cawing, not tweeting, not even purring.

This bird sounded like a rusty seesaw in action. That was my first thought.

I think I have learnt something(?)

**(Prof. VJ is a wonderful writer as she is a professor. Her blog is filled with many, many more amusing descriptions.)**


As of This Morning,

I woke up early, for the first time in a long time, and gulped down water. I watched the kittens struggling to walk, the brown one hiding behind the black one. Shy, much like me. I read something interesting about the ancient-ness of the Appalachian ranges in the US- Canada border, and wondered how the Earth has seen so many tenants, and like a very successful landlord, has managed to bury them- dead or alive. Instead of waiting for them to ask for their deposit, she made them the deposit.

The kitchen greeted me with the smell of cat food, a smell that I have decided to confess I am not fond of, but tolerate. The stove did not light, so coffee was not made. This broke my heart. But again, was tolerated. I found a cheese bun to warm in the microwave oven, and burnt my tongue out of a greed that rises when one is presented with a soft hot bun to bite into. Ungrateful, buns in the oven. Ungrateful, my mom has called me many times.

I persisted, and took each bite of soft bun with utmost meaning, carefully chewing it, keeping mind of how soft it was. A crumb that fell on my thigh was mistaken for an insect, and a wave of fear distracted me from the soft bun memoir being written in my head. I decided to speed ahead, and gulped the bun down to ensure no other rogue crumbs got any such ideas. Yes, the fallen crumb was devoured too.

In some romantic morning hope, I tried the stove again. It was clear to me that there would be no coffee today. So, I settled for hot water from the kettle instead.