Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Day 17: Red

The color of love.
The color of the tiny dog, the only toy given by my father.
The color of the bag, that travelled with me away from home.

The color of sanctity.
The color of my first dance costume.
The color of the box holding all the jewelry, which became a burden as I grew up.

The color of despair.
The color of kidney beans.
The color of the dress I hope to wear someday.

The color of excitement.
The color of the notebook, which captures my dreams.
The color of Bum's hat, who accompanies me wherever I go.

The color of joy.
The color of the raspberries that adorn my morning breakfast.
The color of the fresh juicy grapes which provide a welcome respite in a long day.

The color of hope.
The color of a new beginning.
The color of the bricks lining my new apartment.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Day 16: People

It isn't about the place, but about the people.

The new place you moved to, the new job you started, the new class you joined or the new route you're running, all these places are but a means to meet people. You never realize when life stops being about the place and it all becomes about the people.
What would life be without the roommate who helps you cook, listens to you whine and provides a steady company and makes the bare room home.
What would life be without the friend you make in office, who talks you through bugs, has tea with you everyday in the afternoon and gives you a chance to walk around in a sedentary job.
What would life be without the girl who gives you her notes, and chats with you during class and catches your eye every time something funny happens.
What would life be without the old couple walking every evening holding each other's hands, reassuring you that yes, love does exist.

The people you talk to, interact with, the people you ignore and the people who you never get a chance to understand. They make the world you live in.

The whole is bigger than the sum of the parts, but the whole would not exist without these tiny parts.

Saying goodbye is tough.

You're not just saying goodbye to the cozy comfort of routine but also to the conversations you'll never have, the places you'll never visit with the same people, the recurring private joke that will get lost in the folds of time.

I'm just not ready to say goodbye yet.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Day 15: Old white couch

He was sitting in the coffee shop, whiling away his time before a bus, on the old white couch in the middle of the room.

She walked in, confidently looking around, catching his fleeting gaze and introducing herself.

He sprang up from the couch, admiring her glasses, respecting her headscarf.

She led him to the counter, making him feel at ease, laughing about how coffee was the wrong beverage for her.

It was sweet and awkward.
Them talking carefully, asking deliberate considerate questions. Their voices clear. Their eyes flitting around. Their posture stiff, each one at opposite ends of the couch.

It was slow and engaging.
Them leaning forward. Talking about what they were doing. Getting comfortable on the couch. Their minds becoming unrestrained. Their voices getting lower.

It was unexpected and passionate.
Them accidentally brushing against each other. Losing themselves in the realm of hopes and dreams. Their gaze not leaving the other.

It was sudden and magical.
Them leaving the couch together, bus forgotten. Plans made for a future together.

It was meant to be.

Day 14: Glass box

There are times when I'm there with everyone, having the time of my life and then suddenly I find myself here.

I can see myself there, inside the box. I can see myself laugh and talk and play and interact with the people around me and hike down to the waterfall and perch myself on a rock to stare at the water and to feel the mist on my face

But I'm here, too, outside the box. Watching. Observing. Learning.

It is a strange feeling, but so enlightening. 
I know what I'm doing, but I can see me doing those things.
I can see people acting and me reacting.
I can see me acting and people reacting.

I can see me through my walls of perceptions and I can see the people around me see me without my walls of perception.

I think I live in a glass box of perceptions.

Day 13: "I'm kinda over being told to throw my hands up in the air"

It is amazing how a single line from a hugely popular pop song could be so deep.
This single line can resonate with an entire generation of kids who associate having a good time with being popular, with dressing up in the perfect clothes, with drinking in clubs and dancing to people telling them to throw their hands up in the air to show how much of a good time they're having.

I like to go dancing as much as the next person, but I am really tired of people making me conform to this supposed ideal life. 

Maybe I don't want to dance every saturday night.
Maybe I don't want to drink beer every time I go out with my buddies.
Maybe I want to have a good time in the club with them all the same, so I'll have a gelato instead of the beer.

Day 12: Shiny Happy People

I like shiny happy people.
The people who always have something to update the world everyday about their interesting lives.
The people who have perfected the art of being carelessly beautiful every single moment of their lives.
The people who go to the perfect destinations and know exactly how to frame their adventures in one single shot.

Many of us want to be counted amongst these elite. Many of us strive to be interesting, appear interesting, always analyzing each and every moment of our lives and then picking and choosing and highlighting our social presence. 

But behind each post, each picture, each fancy dinner and each trip that we showcase, there are so many moments where we've lived. Actually lived.
The long drives to get to the beautiful lake bickering with everyone in the car about what music to play.
The insane 40 hour work week that makes us want to hike on a hot saturday afternoon.
The bite of the cheese filled bagel made all the more satisfying after only eating cereal for breakfast for a month.
The long intense life changing conversations with unexpected friends made possible only because of the lateness of the hour.
The unexpected dinner to celebrate nothing at all.
The random magical visit to an old decrepit used bookstore.

These are the moments which never get highlighted, never shared with the whole, never broadcasted.
But, these are the moments which make me a shiny happy person.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Day 11: Relief

I don't know where I am.
I don't know what I am doing.
I don't know how to behave in this situation.
I don't know when things will start making sense.

Frankly, I don't even care.

All I care about is this moment, now; and the knowledge that I exist and the world is full of infinite possibilities and I know absolutely nothing but it doesn't matter because I'll experience the next moment no matter what.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Day 10: Waste

I cannot form a coherent thought today, no matter how much I try. I've been sitting here, in this room for the past four hours and they have been four entirely unproductive hours. 

There are so many things I could have done otherwise. I could have visited the bookstore I've wanted to for the longest time but somehow never find the time for. I could have enjoyed a gelato while sitting outside in the sun, looking at the busy lives of the people bustling on the street. I could have ordered a frappuccino in the colorful café and written while sitting amongst my fellow macbook users.

Instead, I chose to come home and watch mindless hours television.

What a waste of a good sunny day.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Day 9: Routine

Whenever you come to a new place or you start something new, the novelty is refreshing. Everything you do is surprising, you don't know how you're going to get from one place to another, whether you're going to make it. You learn things along the way, delighting in the discovery. You wonder when you'll know exactly how to get anywhere, wonder when you'll settle into a routine. You devise new ways to save time. You meet new people, and you're constantly aware of everything surrounding you.

And then suddenly, one day, you realize that it has become a routine. You know exactly where to go, when to leave, whom to talk to. You stop looking at the things around you. The things which would once have been surprising become boring. The shortcut you found starts taking too long. You carry a book to read so you don't waste any time. You constantly keep checking social networks, to keep up with the lives of people far away while ignoring the people around you in that instant.

And then, it is time to go, to a new place, to a new routine.

Day 8: Comfort

There are days when all you want to do is curl up with your favorite book inside the oldest, softest blanket in the house, listening to the pattering sound of the rain outside the window. Days when hot chai is the only thing on your mind. Days when the world outside the door doesn't matter. Days when you're at home, lost in the familiarity and joy of old comfort.

I'm dreading the fact that I'm going to have to make do without my own bed, seeking comfort in a newly bought blanket, drinking chai made by a barista, yearning for comfort.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Day 7: Let it go

I've always had trouble letting go of things. I like collecting old clothes, old bags, old letters, old greeting cards and even old envelopes and inevitably creating a mountain of junk which I may never even look at.

A year ago, I was packing my bags to study further. I was essentially moving out of my room, and maybe even my home for good. I cleared out my entire room and after an arduous month, left it bare, bidding farewell to the only life I knew.

I came here and started a new life but what I didn't realize was how my habit of not letting go of things would never leave me. After nine months in a city, I had a tough time packing for my three month long internship because I felt like there were so many things I couldn't live without. And here I am, just nine weeks in California and already finding it too difficult to let go. I feel like I'm going to need all of the next four weeks to bid adieu.

It is becoming progressively easier to pack and maybe a little easier to distinguish what I can and cannot live without. But the pain of saying goodbye to those things will never lessen, and maybe I don't want it to lessen.

Day 6: List

A couple of months ago, my best friend and I were in New York. It was a wonderful day, the kind of day you wish came along more often. We'd just visited the Metropolitan Museum of Art and then proceeded to have a delightful lunch at a cozy Italian restaurant hidden away in a corner of the kaleidoscope that is New York. We then made our way to Times Square to look at the lights.

And it started raining.

So there we were, escaping the rain by rushing to the Starbucks in what could possibly be the busiest place in the world. It was strangely calm, that moment. We were talking about our plans after New York for the coming year and we were just musing over how being a graduate student was a nice thing to be. We realized that graduate school was the perfect blend of responsibility and irresponsibility, a time where you know exactly what you're doing but keep questioning every step you take, a time where you're at that cusp of knowing everything and knowing nothing at all.

To commemorate this epiphany, we decided to make lists. One list of all the things which we wanted to own, everything that we wanted to buy using just our stipends in the upcoming year. The other list was of all the things we wanted to do, to experience, all our aspirations, our fears, where we wanted to travel and what we wanted to accomplish this year.

At the time, it proved to be very difficult to think of things. I had really thought our lists would have been longer. I think we were trying to be too realistic and quite analytical of what we wanted.

A month after that day, we met on the other side of the country, in sunny California. While looking across the bay at the Golden Gate Bridge, we were discussing our lists and we were amused to find that each of us was carrying our lists in our wallet and had crossed at least one item off. The satisfaction which came along with that realization felt great!

It's been another month since then and I'm proud that I've marked more things off. I don't think it is possible to mark all of them. In the past two months itself, I don't feel the need to buy some of the things which I wanted back then. However, I know that I'll be carrying that precious Starbucks tissue with me for at least a year, reminding me that I am getting there...

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Day 5: Sleep

I feel like sleeping.

I don't want to sleep because of boredom, a boredom induced by doing nothing all day, no exciting thoughts to inspire you, no activity done to bring you happiness, such a boredom that sleep becomes the next thing you can do to stop feeling bored.

I don't want to sleep because of exhaustion, an exhaustion caused by working so much that all my mind can take is coming home, falling on the bed and embracing sleep.

I don't want to sleep because of pain, a pain caused by heartbreak such that every waking moment is agony and life is unbearable, and you cannot face the day and sleep becomes the only anesthetic.

I want to sleep, because I want to.

I want to sleep, because it feels wonderful to wake up feeling refreshed and facing a new day.

I want to sleep, because I can travel through realms of adventure and visit places I've never been to and achieve things I'd never deigned possible in my dreams.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Day 4: Distance

I was woken up by a message from my best friend telling me to go check Facebook announcing the engagement of yet another classmate from school. Somehow, this conversation led us to talking about how we haven't really kept in touch with people from school. I can actually count the number of people whom I've spoken to since the end of school.

Don't get me wrong, I know exactly what they've been doing since school. I can tell you when they've graduated, gotten engaged or married, whether they like to run or work out or do yoga, what food they recently ate and where they went for a holiday, all these little snippets of information they have chosen to share over the interconnecting channels of social media.

However, I haven't had a conversation with them in years.

A few weeks ago, a classmate initiated a chat with me on a social network, someone whom I haven't met or spoken to in seven years. And it was weirdly wonderful! How formal we were, slowly gleaning information about our journeys since school days. And then we said goodbye, each feeling that the half hour we'd spent was enough to fill the gap of seven years, probably slinking back into another seven year period of silence.

There are so many people I miss, so many friends, people I celebrated birthdays with, people whom I had forbidden late night phone calls with, people I studied with, people I fought with, people I grew up with. These people have had an impact on me and have shaped the person I am today.

I feel like I should do what my classmate, no, my friend did. I should ping someone from school, see what they're doing, check up on them and have a conversation with them, connect with that long lost part of me.

Day 3: Kun Faaya Kun

Over the past few weeks, I have met too many people, in too many random places, in too many random groups. In situations like these, when you throw a bunch of strangers together for an extended period of time, it takes some time for them to form some sort of dynamic.

What is it about music that brings people together? Specifically this certain genius named A. R. Rahman? His music seems to transcend all borders and permeate into every gap, filling it with magic. Such magic, that five strangers refuse to leave a car they've been trapped in the whole day, to gaze upon the breathtaking beauty of Lake Tahoe because they do not want to break the spell cast upon them by music.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Day 2: Ephemeral

The closer the end comes, the more you want to cling to it. I came to California for an internship for the summer with trepidation and not knowing what to expect.

It's funny how things change! I just have a month left before I go back to school and I'm suddenly dreading it. I am going to miss this summer. I feel like I was constantly moving, constantly exploring, constantly doing something new since I got here, but I also know that there is a lot left for me here. This has been the best summer of my life and it has set the bar for whatever I do further.

I still remember how I came here two months ago. Alone. Homeless. I was drifting about with no real meaning and not knowing what I would be doing the next hour. And now, this strange place and the hotel suite I'm staying in has become home, however ephemeral it may be.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Day 1: Dard-e-Disco

I am a week behind the original schedule already, as I knew I would be. However, I seem to have grown up. There was a time when I would have banged my head over a missed start, but not anymore. It is okay, I reassure myself now. I can start at my own pace, so I am finally starting today.

A few weeks ago, I read an article about an artiste who decided to devote half an hour of her life, each day, to create a poster. She took inspiration from things she saw around her and created posters. She planned to do this project over a period of 365 days and somewhere along the way, she stumbled upon her style.

I was immediately influenced by the article. I decided that I wanted to do something similar. There have been many a time when I find myself being blocked by a wall, an invisible force field in my mind which I cannot seem go past. I was convinced that if I forced myself to be creative, I will somehow be able to make a dent in this wall.

Now the question was concerning what I would be doing for half an hour each day. I could learn a new language, learn how to illustrate using a new software tool, I could learn how to sketch or pick up a new skill. I quickly realized that most of the activities I came up with revolved around learning something new. I happen to be a recently financially independent graduate student. I am learning something new every single day, whether it be academic or simply some life lessons I learn from living alone in a foreign country. Maybe I needed a break from all this learning. I decided to stick to something which I like and settled on writing.

Around this time, I was approaching my 23rd birthday. I thought that my birthday would be the perfect moment to launch this new endeavor. I also needed to develop a way to sustain my motivation. I decided to post whatever I write on a blog, even if what I wrote during that day was a single line. I concluded that this external pressure would be motivation enough for me.

So here I am, seven days later than I was supposed to start , in a café in Mountain View, listening to a Bollywood song which is bizarrely being played here and embarking on my 365 day journey.