Why I’m Not a Grammar Nazi

Here’s the thing: I’m not a Grammar Nazi.

Notice how I didn’t say “I ain’t a Grammar Nazi.” to sort of emphasize my blatant disregard for English grammar and its rules. That’s because I know the difference ‘its’ and ‘it’s’, between ‘your’ and ‘you’re’ and between ‘they’re’, ‘their’ and ‘there’. I know where apostrophes belong and I know where they don’t.

But imagine being greeted by a stupid question that requires an answer ten times its worth, both in quality and quantity at the end of a long, tiring day. And somewhere, in the midst of those characters, sticky keyboard keys, lethargic fingers and the looming threat of AutoCorrect that works only when one doesn’t need it, I might have neglected to put an apostrophe where it should’ve been, thus rendering my ‘it’s’ a mere ‘its’. Go ahead, sue me.

Unforgivable, isn’t it? Of course, apologising and correcting my mistake hardly makes up for anything, at least, in the opinion of the person I was chatting with. He was a good friend, but a cold blooded Grammar Nazi. And he embraced that fact like a medal, which frankly, brought out the worst in him.

I paid the price for my mistake, though. That little niggle triggered an entire conversation, more of a soliloquy, actually about the difference between ‘it’s’ and ‘its’, something that a) I had heard since preschool and knew very well and b) was apparently infinitely more important than my fatigue.

I’m going to say it. Grammar Nazis are, to put it politely, annoying.

Not that I’d ever want to be associated with Nazis of any kind, but I realised I’m often on the giving end of English grammar gyaan. Whether I like it or not, I find myself involuntarily proofreading things on the Internet, often paying more attention to trivial, pedantic details than to the point of substance being conveyed without looking into whether it was a typo or  negligence or worse, intentional. What’s worse is that I actually assume I’m doing the world a favour with these services no one asked for.

I consciously try to avoid being pedantic and singling minor errors out, especially if I understand what the person intends to convey. It’s hard because poor grammar irks me no end and that saturation point is just a misplaced comma away. It takes every inch of me to fight the urge to point out mistakes, but I’m proud to say, I’ve come a long way in suppressing that Grammar Nazi in me, even if it is just a little.

This battle started a long time ago, when I was in Year Two actually. My parents would correct me every time I used poor grammar, misspelt a word or got my diction wrong. My grandmother speaks English very well, considering it isn’t her first language. So back then, she made a minor diction error and I corrected without a hint of hesitation, quite scornfully, actually. Although she took it well, my father immediately took me aside and gave me a lecture on how correcting people at every faux pas was hurtful and annoying. I retorted immediately by saying, “But I was just teaching her, like you teach me”. Dad then explained to me that this pedantic tendency came off as a bid to establish one’s superiority as best he could to a kid in Year Two. He ended with, “If you absolutely must correct someone, do it with utmost courtesy. You may not know it yet, but it matters.”

I don’t know if he remembers this today, but I certainly do. I apologised to my grandma, half heartedly, not fully understanding the truth that lay interspersed with the message I had just been taught until much later.

In my view, when someone who has been speaking a language their entire life AND has had the opportunity  of an education AND the possibility of a typo or a mistake is ruled out, then it is not only acceptable, but desirable to be a Grammar Nazi. Learning a language is never easy, especially to someone who hasn’t been given a shot at as good an education as they would’ve liked. And when people like that have the courage to try their hand at communication in a world where scrutiny, scorn and criticism is just a less than perfectly prounounced vowel away, it’s pretty remarkable. Shooting them down by disparagingly ‘correcting’ them will eventually discourage them from learning.

Another reason I avoid being a pedant is because I speak some Indian languages and I’m no expert. I can communicate well enough to get by, but my spelling, grammar and vocabulary are way below par. I’ve also been learning French for two years, which hasn’t been easy. My diction passes muster, but I need to work on my spelling and my writing. I end up performing unwanted sex change operations on all nouns when it comes to these languages like French and most Indian languages where every noun has a gender. I admit, I find my teachers a little pedantic when my test scores plummet for minor errors. English is quite a difficult language to learn, more so when it isn’t one’s first language. A point to be noted is that poor grammar does not mean low intelligence and vice versa. This is why I’ve learnt to respect anyone making an attempt to learn new languages. Grammar Nazism is not cool here.

I know ”lete speak’ or ‘chat’ language seems like the least classy way to go about it, but inventing new words and abbreviation is how language evolves. Shakespeare himself invented words; ‘awesome’ and ‘madcap’ are a couple of them. The Bard also made verbs out of nouns to adapt to his rhyme and meter without hesitation, something that is looked down upon by today’s Grammar Nazis. I cringe at the idea of #hashtags being synonymous with 21st Century literature, but “We’ve always done it this way,” is the worst excuse for sticking to your roots. One thing I can say with absolute conviction is that petty details and punctilios takes away from the fun, the beauty and the pleasure we seek in language.

I think Stephen Fry perfectly encapsulates what I intend to convey through this video.

 

Advertisements

Filling The Void: Liebster Award

Okay. I know I said I was back with a fair number of posts. Well, erm  my post holiday depression might have led to my neglecting to mention that these were merely post ideas. And I did have them. I really did. But some big stuff happened since then and I couldn’t really get myself to turn them into concrete posts. Let me be honest here, I still haven’t managed to do that. However, the void on my blog was getting to me.

One of the big things this past couple of weeks had in store for me was the Liebster Award that Christina nominated me (and everyone else I wanted to nominate) for. She’s me, only thinner and prettier. I wonder if we’re so alike because we have the same favourite uncle and hence, the same gene pool. Hey, but I’m never going to admit I’m related to that guy in public. Even if I just did. Anyway, moving on. I’m a little embarrassed to admit I don’t know what this award intends to signify, but I’m a little more flattered than I should be.

Liebster Award. Been there, done that.

As much as I would’ve liked to give an acceptance speech, this woman springs to mind and well, stymies my efforts, because she indeed has a point.

Okay. Thanks. Bye.

So, all you special nominees that I’ve nominated below, please check these rules out before you graciously accept the award. Christina’s asked me 11 questions that I’ll now answer.

1. Favourite music artist/band?

The Beatles, Coldplay, U2, The Police, Scorpions, Angus and Julia Stone, Mumford and Sons, Eric Clapton, old school GnR, Bon Iver and I could go on and on here. Lately, I’ve been getting into Peter Mulvey a lot.

 2. What, according to you, is your best quality?

I can be quite resilient.

 3. What is the one thing that drives you nuts?

Unjustified text.

 4. Who is your favourite fictional character?

Conan Doyle’s original Sherlock Holmes and none of his more modern counterparts.

 5. What do you want to get/already have as a tattoo?

Nothing’s ever had a permanent or long lasting impact on my life so far. I’m afraid of commitment, so tattoos aren’t for me. If I were to get inked right now, it would probably be a quote from The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde, which I’m currently reading. These are the two I absolutely loved so far.

“You will always be fond of me. I represent to you all the sins you never had the courage to commit.” 

“To define is to limit.” 

I’ve loved many other quotes from the book but Oscar Wilde’s limited use of brevity there would turn out to be rather painful. I also love the meaning of the phrase “Que sera sera”. It explains everything.

 6. What serves as an effective stress-buster for you?

Reading. Writing. Music.

 7. What is the hardest thing you have ever done, or the biggest obstacle you have faced in your life?

I’ve led a charmed life so far, but I’d have to say moving to Mumbai from my hometown.

 8. What inspired you to start blogging?

My three day trip to Coorg, the best vacation of my life so far.

 9. Do you have any unusual pet peeves?

I can’t stand leftovers. Even if I’m eating and I leave the table for a few minutes and then come back to it, I have trouble finishing my own food. Another is socialising. I can’t for the life of me ever enjoy doing it.

10. What is your favourite quote?

Since I’m obsessed with The Picture of Dorian Gray, I’ll leave you with this.

“Behind every exquisite thing that existed, there was something tragic.” -Oscar Wilde

11. Who has had the biggest influence on you?

I’d say my parents. They’re pretty awesome. If you ask about my writing, bloggers and aspiring writers on the internet have influenced me greatly.

Alright. That’s done. Now I’m supposed to tell you 11 random facts about me. 

  1. I love everything about Oscar Wilde.
  2. My favourite word right now is “Clarity”.
  3. I love the sound of the letter ‘l’.
  4. I’m afraid of commitment.
  5. I am deeply fascinated with the cthonic world, particularly the story of Persephone.
  6. I want Mitch Welling to write me a letter just once.
  7. I want to live in Copenhagen for a year.
  8. I want to do the Gorge Swing at Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe.
  9. I love historical fiction and want to dabble in that genre one day.
  10. I think Dan Brown is awesome, no matter what critics say.
  11. I never know how much to say.

Since Christina nominated most of the blogs I wanted to, here’s my  (short) list of nominees for the Leibster Award: (In no particular order, they’re all fab)

The Reading Girl

Nirbhaya’s India

Temitoria’s Wit

The Late Bloomer

Aimless Wanderer

SandraLuv

Here are 11 questions I’d like you nominees to answer:

  1. What is your feel-good song?
  2. Name a book that changed your life.
  3. What would your autobiography be called?
  4. What is your dream holiday destination?
  5. Who is your role model?
  6. Do you like where you are in life, or is there somewhere you’d rather be?
  7. What is your favourite dessert?
  8. What is your guilty pleasure snack?
  9. What are you most afraid of?
  10. What would you like your name to be?
  11. Do you have a pet? What’s it called?

Happy Blogging!

I’m Insecure

I’m sorry if I deviate from the point a few times here, but I just need to rant.

I’m insecure.

Let me be honest here. I cannot explain how tempted I was to extend my opening line from that One Direction song. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t even like it. Anymore. I’m glad I exercised restraint there, which counts as exercise. I’ll consider it a sign of willpower and self control. Elegant restraint. Except when it comes to food, obviously.

But it’s true. I am insecure. And I don’t know what for. And lately insecure can aptly define everything I’ve been feeling. A regular cast member in the story of my life, taking up more than its fair share of screen time. It’s sort of like one of those characters on a TV show who need to be bumped off to keep the show going. It’s stagnant with them around. So, that’s what I am. I am insecure. And insecure is me.

I know that we’re all a little insecure in some ways. But I think it’s a lot easier when you know what makes you feel that way. Of course dealing with it is just as hard, but you manage to limit your fears to specific situations, localize them and don’t let them take over your entire life.

Effectively, I don’t know why I’m insecure. I really don’t have anything to be insecure about. I’m almost a spoiled brat, have everything I need and most things I want and a really solid support system in family and friends.

It’s not about the way I look either. I mean, as far as my appearance is concerned, I couldn’t care less. I don’t look pretty, hot or sexy and I don’t live to be. In fact, I’m rather ugly by most standards and I don’t care enough to do anything about it. I let my hair remain a mess, I wear whatever peeks out at me through the mess of my wardrobe and don’t bother tinkering with even a smidgen of makeup. Yes, essentially, I’m a fat lazy slob. But I’m a fat, lazy slob who’s comfortable in her own skin, even though it is rougher than most roads of Mumbai.

I’ve just been feeling anxious about everything lately. I just gave my board exams over the past month. And I didn’t feel like they went really well. I mean, they were good. In fact, I’d say they were pretty decent considering how little I studied for them (And that’s too little, trust me. I learnt that the hard way). But they weren’t amazing.

Throughout every paper, I had doubts. I kept second guessing myself over things that were perfectly clear. I picked the wrong answer a few times even though the right one was etched in my bones. After my Economics paper, I was so nervous, my hands were literally shaking as I tried, unsuccessfully to thread my supplement to my main answer sheet. The invigilator had to do it for me, much to her disdain. I even wrote my seat number wrong for one of the papers. (I corrected it, phew.) I just didn’t trust my gut anymore. I kept getting stuck on insignificant details like how untidily I’d presented my answer, speckled generously crossed out words and caret marks, a bit like the first drafts of my poetry.

I thought it would dissipate once the exams were over and done with. And with utmost disappointment, I must say that it hasn’t. It’s just hanging over like a weight above my head. Everyone’s questioning my next move, my career move. And I honestly don’t know what I want to do. I don’t know what courses I should take and just come up with a different answer every time someone asks me that question.

So, that’s what’s been eating me up. I applied for a couple of internships for the heck of it, got selected and withdrew my applications because I didn’t feel they were right for me. So, that’s what’s wrong. I’m going nowhere. I don’t have a plan. 

My friends believe a boyfriend is the solution to boosting my confidence and they’ve tried all sorts of measures to make that happen. I haven’t had the best experiences with relationships and I don’t think I need one here. Besides, I want to be confident on my own. Not because of some boy.

One thing I’m sure of is that I need to escape. For a while at least. It is a risky idea but the only thing that I feel could really help me right now is a gap year. A year away from my life as I know it to just understand myself better. I know being away from courses for a year is a huge setback but I don’t want to just go with the flow and land up somewhere I later realize is not where I want to be. It is really scary. I’ve never been abroad alone. Besides, my parents would never be on board with the idea.

I hope the vacation will do me some good. I just need a way to relax. A get away. Sometimes, all a TV show needs is a good twist in the plot. And twists are always risks.

It frightens how many times I think of just escaping, letting go, just walking into the distance until everyone I know and everything I’ve loved is no more than a speck in the distance. It scares me how willing I am to do all of it.

#HappyBirthdayChristina

Christina has survived all of seventeen years, as of today. I cannot be sure if it’s all skill, a lot of luck or ceaseless tweeting that’s made this possible, but I’d put my money on the latter. This girl has managed to elude killers, terrorists, sickeness and other fatal things and also live with slow internet, and *gasp* Beliebers (the line is thin here; watch this space for further developments) without once spending so much as an hour of her time either a) in jail or b) off twitter. She’s also been retweeted by several celebrities which, I’d consider an achievement if my favourite writers/poets/musicians were a) alive and b) on twitter. And for that, I shower her with heartfelt praise.

For this, I think a birthday wish is in order and I’m using this post to channelise these feelings I sometimes have for my friends, often misconstrued to be affection. Despite my efforts, this post will never trend, as much as Christina wants it to.

What’s special about Christina is that she’s me. Our mutual fondness for most things on earth, especially Coldplay and Virat Kohli is what created enough conversation to fill in the awkward space I tend to be enveloped by when I’m around people. She’d complete my sentences (Coldplay song lyrics) and even sneakily access what seemed like enough information to stalk, yes stalk Virat Kohli at his hotel to two teenage fangirls. She chalked out this entire plan and only when it was too late to back out did I realise she was serious. So, along with Vee, we happily sat in the hotel lobby waiting for Virat Kohli to magically appear until cursory glances at the time dampened our plans. Disappointedly trying to cheer ourselves up at Starbucks, where the ridiculous prices deepened our frowns, I was sort of happy she was so similar to me.

That's Christina. Isn't she pretty?

That’s Christina. Isn’t she pretty?

From the inside too :D

From the inside too :

I can’t control my laughter. I burst into giggles at the most inopportune moments for no reason at all, as my friends will vouch. It got me into trouble a lot, especially with teachers. And then I found someone idiotic enough to do the same. So, as we marvelled at our history teacher’s vocabulary, he marvelled at how easily we were amused. It’s not as pleasant as it sounds. So, thanks Christina. For everything. Especially retweeting my tweets about my blogposts. Brought in some views, that.

I hope your Internet speeds hit all time high this year and may you be blessed with followers that share your hatred for certain excuses for musicians. May you be retweeted and favourited, followed and mentioned by my girl crush Stana.

Always be yourself, i.e me.

P.S. I’m sorry for all the Twitter references but I just couldn’t put my feelings, often misconstrued as love into 140 characters.

#HappyBirthday

I know your birthday is technically tomorrow, but sleep is more important than you. Besides, it’s way past midnight in New Zealand, which is where your heart is anyway.

Where I’d Rather Be

Today, I found myself the way I always find myself in the mornings. Clinging on to my pillow for a little bit of extra sleep. It was Saturday and I was only dragging myself to college to return something to a friend before we broke off for the Christmas holidays.

I didn’t need a last day. I’d had a pretty brilliant penultimate day in Junior College and anything following a class Carol Singing victory would be a bit of an anti climax.

But anyway, I went to college only to be greeted by a bunch of friends gravitating towards the finality of it all; the fact that this was the last regular day of Junior College.

I’ve never really been one to live in the moment. I always find myself lost in thoughts of the past and dreams of the future. But today, I kind of did. Until I got home and looked back on all the memories college had given me these past few years and what lay ahead.

Rewind to the start of the First Year. 18th July 2012. There’s me, fresh out of school walking into college with big dreams. I was a little young, a lot more foolish with a silly, quiet confidence whispering I could do anything I set my mind to.

Little did I know as I walked in that some of the best people in the world were huddled among the sea of students in there.

They were so different, each one of them and now they would be identified by a common name. Xavierites.

I’d really like to name them, but I don’t want them to read this. Plus, they know who they are.

Junior College has been a roller coaster for me. And they’ve made the ride worth it. It’s been incredible discovering each of their quirks and fitting into the jigsaw puzzles that they are. From them alone, I’ve learnt so much, literally much more than the not so academically enriching HSC syllabus could ever teach me. For every laugh, every tear and every smile along the way, thank you for that.

Apart from the various life lessons, my teachers taught me a fair bit too. As dissatisfied and whiny as they are with the board syllabus, be it a movie, little extra snippets, memory tricks, they’ve made an effort. Even if they were unsuccessful at times, they’ve provided us laughs, been the butt of a few jokes and I think they’ll make sure that none of us return to Junior College by failing the boards.

College has taught me a lot. I’ve definitely become more street smart, more independent by making the tedious daily bus journey to college and I’ve almost learnt to manage my money. I’ve become more accepting, less judgmental by befriending people from various backgrounds.

I’ve been able to grow, personally. I started writing, properly. I’ve done things I’m proud of. I’ve done stupid things. Sometimes, I’ve done both together. Like the time I randomly walked into the office of Commissioner Of Police of Mumbai asking for an interview to supplement my Sociology project. And I got it!

I’ve taken embarrassing pictures, dropped food on my clothes, fallen down a good half a dozen times and lived up to my klutz name. I’ve embarrassed myself at public speaking events. I could go on here.

The point is, I’ve learnt what I can do and I’ve learnt what I can’t. And I’ve accepted myself.

I always wanted to go abroad and have a good education before my two years at Xavier’s. But now, I just don’t want that. You might argue that lowered ambition isn’t necessarily a good thing. But you know what, it isn’t so bad. I’m happy.

Sure, there’s been a couple of things I would rather not have done, a couple of people I wish I hadn’t known, a couple of days I could have relived.

But if this were a book, it sure as hell was a good one.

And so now I sit here at home and try to put what I feel into words. But I can’t really. I’ve left my heart behind in a world of stone walls and staircase labyrinths and the magic of Harry Potter.

That’s where I am. That’s where I’d rather be.

If I had to fail the boards to do this again with the same people, I wouldn’t. But I would think about it.

When Write Went Wrong: My Writing Journey

The joy of writing seems to have escaped me these past few weeks.

I can’t for the life of me sit down, uncap that damn pen and do a lot more than watch my opening sentence get encroached upon by vile meaningless doodles.

As I watched the drafts pile up and the untitled posts multiply, I reach out and close the WordPress tab, switching to Tumblr or Youtube instead.

Call it just another case of writer’s block, but I can’t seem to pen down anything that I find remotely satisfactory. The more I try, the more disappointed I am in myself.

I had to avoid feeling inadequate. So I tried to escape writing, to avoid it.

I started to put off writing. Soon, my priorities changed and other things took up my writing time. That didn’t make me feel any better. And I knew exactly why. I was escaping my escape.

That could be me.

I started looking for reasons to start writing again. I went through this blog, which I’ve maintained for almost a year now. And I found a few.

1. It’s the longest I’ve persevered with a blog. I’ve had several other blogs with sporadic, half hearted posts that I’ve started and stopped with not so much as a glimmer of hesitation. But when the thought of deleting this blog crossed my mind, I felt sadder than I’d care to admit. And that’s reason enough to continue. 

2. I’ve got better.  Admittedly, I’m no cousin of Shakespeare and my writing isn’t worthy of being published. But, looking back at my old posts, stories, poems and essays, I’m both embarrassed and thrilled to see how much I’ve grown as a writer. I mean, my improvement (at least to me) seems remarkable. If there’s one thing I know about writing, the more you do it, the better you get as long as you stay true to yourself. If writing more and more is going to get me to I-can-do-this-for-money quality, I sure am trying it (not to mention the fact that I can’t do much else). 

3. I actually love it. This admittedly, should be reason enough for me to continue. You fall out of love with things for a little while, have a little friction, have a bit of trouble. When this happens, it helps to take a break (a proper one, not the Rachel-and-Ross-I’ll-hold-it-against-you-for-the-rest-of-your-life kind). And all the while, you know you love them. And you know you can love them again. Because nothing makes you feel the same. 

4. I’m getting more confident. My blog is something I want everyone to see, but don’t want to show it to anyone. I’ve always been a rather private person about my deepest feelings. It’s actually hard to explain. I’m not afraid of criticism, it just feels like I’m being exposed, I’m vulnerable. I think it is because I really do love writing and my writing is the most honest expression of myself. For example, the things I’ve said here have never and will never be uttered in real life. I still don’t tell people about my blog until they ask and don’t share my writing with people I know unless they stumble upon it. But when someone I know tells me my work is good, it feels good. And that makes me want to do it better.

5. It’s my home. Writing is where I come to at the end of a bad day. When something is bothering me, I type out everything  I’m feeling about it on a word document (in single words, a lot of them four letter swear words, no need for eloquence here) and delete it. It actually helps clear your mind about it. Sometimes, it’s easy. Sometimes, I can just sit back and watch my sentences become paragraphs. At other times, it’s not so forgiving to labouriously craft a couple of sentences and give up. But it’s always been there. It’s my therapy. Yes, it’s uncooperative and unyielding at times. It’s where I feel safe, sound and loved. It’s where I feel at home.

MY WRITING JOURNEY

I also looked at why I write. Apart from the fact that I’m worse at most other things than I’d care to admit, I like to write.

My writing journey began with my reading one. I was introduced to books at a young age by my parents and fell in love with them immediately. I learnt to read faster than most of my friends and was allowed to read more advanced books by the librarian in Year One, much to the awe and envy of my classmates (*brag alert*). I developed a vivid imagination and it led me to read more and search for more words to express myself. I was always told that I had a gift for writing. It was something I took for granted at the time. I just wrote when I was forced to, for school, for a speech someone wanted or stories people wanted to send in for contests (Yes, I wrote the stories and they took the credit). But it didn’t worry me, because, I wrote very half heartedly. When I started blogging, I still didn’t put my all into my expression.

My writing as I know it now, took life nearly a year ago, last December. I took a three day trip with my family to Coorg. It was one of those experiences you can never really forget and you never really want to. It was one of those crossroads where you feel the inspiration run through your bones like never before.When I returned, everyone urged me to write a review of my stay. And that was well received by my relatives and became the first post on my blog. It’s quite long and in hindsight, badly written, but if you’re interested, you can read it here. I can say though, I’ve never been more inspired than that till date.

I feel a bouquet of beautiful feelings that drive me to write. Two are very potent and easy to explain. One, is reading what you’ve written a while ago and marvelling at your ability to create sentences like that. The second is my favourite. It is the feeling that you are giving life to your characters, your settings. It involves creating something that is your own. And I think that’s beautiful.

A WRITING TIP

For anyone who’s feeling uninspired, this quote always helps me.

Write.
Write more.
Write even more.
Write even more than that.
Write when you don’t want to.
Write when you do.
Write when you have something to say.
Write when you don’t.
Write every day.
Keep writing.

Brian Clark

I think writers should write something original everyday. It could be a couple of chapters; it could be a grocery list; it could be a phrase. But it should be yours.

I am writing today. Yay!

Writing about writing seemed like a good way to come back.

Yours,

CP

Why Do I Run?

Today, I went for a morning run after quite a while. And after that, for the first time ever, I felt good.

I’ve always maintained that nothing leaves me feeling more dead than a morning run. For all of those who swear by running (or, in my case, jog shuffling with intervals of painfully slow cool down walks enabling geriatric fitness freaks to overtake you), I am not a big fan of losing sleep by rising at some ungodly hour only to embarrass myself and end up with pains in muscles I never knew I had. Today, however, it struck me that there are worse feelings.

I’ve never been much good at any sport or enjoyed any, apart from swimming. I try to take a jog in the mornings to lose weight (which is a losing battle) and also to channel my aggression in a healthy way. In short, I exercise to try and keep myself from killing people who call me fat. But more on that later.

Since my exams last month, during which I lost sleep cramming and procrastinating, I’ve been battling inertia. I’ve been totally bored, but I don’t want to do anything to cure that boredom.

Change is good, I believe, except when it involves me moving my arse.

Newton’s Law of Inertia is, most unfortunately, ingrained into the minds of students. It’s unfortunate, because, it doesn’t really apply to me.

 The first law states that a body at rest will stay at rest until an external force acts upon it.

^That part is true. The next part has been modified suiting subject conditions:

 A body in motion will remain in motion at a constant velocity until acted on by an external force.   start looking for ways to be at rest while either giving up or moving at a diminishing velocity. 

Okay. So far we’ve established that I’m fat, lazy and don’t like to exercise.

And today, by some sort of magic, I actually felt a tinge of positivity after my run. So, I googled, “Why do people run?”

In case I haven’t mentioned it, I am the worst runner to have ever graced this earth. You know when people say, “There’s got to be someone worse than me,” they’re thinking of me.

So, besides weight loss, marathon training and health reasons, people actually like running. They feel and I quote, invigorated, a rush, a sense of spiritual heightening and other synonymous feelings.

Now, either they lie, or not all people look and feel like the Living Dead once they’re done running. But today, I kind of got a sense of what they were talking about. Of course, the living dead thing is the dominant feeling here.

Why do I run? It leaves me tired, at best and I can find other ways to channel my aggression. It hasn’t done anything for my weight, and doesn’t seem like it’s going to, especially since a run doubles my enormous appetite causing me to gorge on a lot of extra breakfast (And lunch and dinner too).

I think the answer’s right there. I don’t run to lose weight, to get a good body, to feel a rush or spiritual heightening. Everytime I run, I feel like I’ve earned the right to eat a delicious meal, the right to sink my teeth into pizza, chocolate and other the other treasures of junk food, the right to food I ideally should feel guilty eating.

Yes, I run to eat. And I’m not ashamed of that.

The Search For A Muse

Quite frankly, my terms have just drained all the inspiration and the will to create out of me. Not that I spent too much time studying for them, I actually put in minimal effort. And as a result of habitual procrastination and cramming entire portions into one night, they weren’t the best of exams.

Anyway, while they were going on, I thought of a billion things to write about. But now that they’re over, everything’s just meh.

After I sort of caught up on the sleep I’d lost, I haven’t done much apart from read and well, eat.

Inspiration eluded me. With every movie I watch lately leaving me disappointed, every book I read giving me an inferiority complex and an unlimited internet plan that exists only in tomorrow leaving me unable to download songs, I turned to art for inspiration.

Now, I love art. I always have. I’ve just never really been much good at it. That’s why I love comics. Drawing wobbly features can either make you Picasso or get you into comics. Comics are the best.

So I sifted through art catalogues, checked out the net and even visited an Art Gallery. The day I visited, there was a showcase of various Indian artists and their paintings of women themed “The Woman Of India.” I wasn’t allowed to click photos and the paintings were way beyond my family budget (even the tiny ones), but some of the paintings just spoke to me.

Now I’ve really been fond of Manga women. The illustrations there have depth and complexity and are pretty hard to replicate, even if the characters sometimes aren’t. Most of the manga comics I’ve read are pretty sexist and that just sort of kills it for me. I’ve tried to write stories about Manga women but they just don’t materialize into anything beyond a beautiful face and body.

A Typical Manga Girl

While checking out more art, I came across the illustrations of an Australian fashion illustrator, Pippa McManus. It’s pretty safe to say I fell in love. I would really like to buy one of her paintings someday. She draws women. Not just pretty Manga women, but complex women whose eyes unleash a thousand stories, (at least to me).  And I had an idea.

One of my favourite pieces by Pippa McManus

The project I’m thinking about involves me drawing my own pictures. Initially, I thought of using Pippa’s, but 1. I can’t draw like that and 2. I might get sued. I had a little practice on the Pippa pieces though, so that’s making me a little confident. Then I’ll craft stories or just write about the women I’ve drawn. I’m not really confident about this project. I’ll have to get a bunch of drawings done and then start on the stories. So, its gonna be a while before this idea is up and running. I also will have another round of exams in January and my board exams in March, which would be detrimental to this project. However, I think it’ll be good for me to kick start my writing again.

Since I’ve told you about it, let’s just hope I can start Project Untitled one day.

Doodled a Pippa piece on my notebook divider.

Doodled a Pippa piece on my notebook divider.

For Malvika

Note: This post is for my friend Malvika, whose stepmum passed away two days ago. I truly wish I could immortalise these two beautiful, strong women in more than just a blogpost.

Way back in Year Eight, Malvika told me I’d fall in love with Liam from 90210. She was right. I did.  She also whispered “It’ll be alright” in my ear as she stitched my nascent broken heart up with love and support.  She was right. It was.

I’ve met very few people as strong as Malvika. I remember the way she went through school after her Mum succumbed to cancer five years ago. You’d be amazed at how efficiently she managed to balance seven hours of school and looking after her four year old sister while occasionally holding my hand and letting her tears fill the void in her heart.

The few times I met Mrs. Seema Naik, she seemed wonderful. A primary school teacher with a talent for art and a way with people, I am truly grateful for the little time I spent with her. I remember how all our friends were armed and ready to attack Malvika’s lunch box at recess. It was a mad dash for a tiny morsel of delicious, home cooked sustenance that seemed to leave us hungrier for more with every bite. Besides being able to cook up a mean pasta, she was a great friend. I really miss her witty interjections to the snippets of teenage gossip we shared with or around her.

I only saw her once after she was diagnosed with cancer. It happened to be in the early stages, but it broke my heart to see her struggle with the very words she would fill our souls with. Her speech was strained, her movements slower and her vivaciousness was reduced to a faint little tired smile. We were provided with a more or less accurate estimate of how long she had to live, but her death really hit us hard. It wasn’t the first time a friend close to me had lost a parent.

Malvika was an inspiration. While everyone at school was young and inexperienced enough to ask all the wrong questions, she stayed surprisingly strong.

The only time she really let her guard down was a two years later, when her father decided to remarry. While all his friends and family seemed to encourage him to go ahead, she demanded to know how her father could get over someone he loved so quickly. I remember when she came to me with the news. As she broke her story out to me in bursts of sniffs, sobs and tears, all I let her do was cry into my shoulder. I didn’t know what to say. Somehow the comforts of “It’ll be alright” and “It’s what your mum would have wanted” were lost as meaningless whispers that died in my mind, for at that moment, I didn’t believe in them. I cried too.

Let me point out here that I just have about ten friends with stepparents, most of them the aftermath of divorce, a couple through death. So, yeah, it was a relatively new concept to everyone. And while Malvika dodged the odd question asking whether her stepmother was “evil”, she  eventually became really close to her.  Arushi, as we all called her, was beautiful. Although I didn’t know Arushi that well, I knew she was an astute accountant with a beautiful heart and a covetable shoe collection. She treated Malvika like a responsible adult and tried to reach out to her as a friend. I think it’s a sensible practice to refer to stepparents by their first names because that reduces the insecurity surrounding replacement of the parent. They shared a comfortable relationship.

I hadn’t really been in touch with Malvika after school. We chose different paths, went to different colleges and didn’t meet often. I’m still a bit sad that we drifted apart. She doesn’t even know about this blog.

The start of this college year had been pretty hectic with our college fest Malhar and a sea of projects and assignments. I hadn’t seen or spoken to Malvika in months. So when my phone buzzed two days ago, with eleven missed calls, I didn’t really know how to react. When I called her back, she didn’t answer. On reading my text “Sorry. Was in College. No network. Ssup?”, she called back. Her voice was cracked and barely audible. What followed was a conversation I wish I could undo.

Me: What’s wrong, Malu?

Malvika: Arushi died. She had a massive heart attack.

Me: Yeah, kay. What really happened?

Malvika: *choking* That’s what happened.

I don’t really want to go into what happened next. Stuff like this just leaves me stumped. I never know the right things to say, even to my best friends. It honestly took a while for Arushi’s death to sink in. A healthy young woman having a sudden cardiac arrest…it was brutal. My mind was constantly fighting its way through an endless debate of time over grief. Everyone wants to spend more time with their loved ones. Nobody wants to see them in pain. And I kept thinking about this until I finally broke down and cried. It was really hard to write this down because it’s been affecting me a lot. My parents and my friends have been really sweet to me, and I’m truly grateful.

When I met Malvika yesterday, it just seemed like déja vu. It just seemed unfair. Her father had not yet accepted Arushi’s death. He asked me to call her up. It was just heart breaking. Malvika offered me a drink and I just held my arms open. She curled up in my lap and stared into space for about five minutes before a tear rolled down her cheek. We cried together. And with those tears, all the distance, the awkwardness just melted away. We were back in school.  My head was flooded with a torrent of emotions, but dominated by guilt. I felt guilty for not answering her calls. I felt guilty for letting us drift apart. I felt guilty for being grateful that it wasn’t any of my parents.

My thoughts and prayers lie with Malvika and her family. I can only imagine what they’re going through.

Malvika’s a little shaken right now. But she’ll be alright. She’ll get through this. She is one of the strongest people I know. God gives His hardest battles to His toughest soldiers.

You were right, Malu. Everything will be okay.

Yours,

-CP

Stuff My Dad Told Me

When I was young enough to have birthday parties with balloons, streamers, cake and return gifts, I used to get quite a number of gifts every year. There were pretty little ones and pretty big ones. They were all wrapped beautifully with cards addressed to me.

Seeing gifts wrapped in pretty paper is the toughest test of my patience, and it’s a test I’ve rarely cleared. My fingers always itched to rip the paper apart as if the cellotape holding the loose ends together was my sworn enemy, and more importantly, the only thing coming between me and the treasures it protected. If you know an impatient kid, you wouldn’t be surprised to know that within minutes, the gift wrapping paper would be shredded beyond recognition, much less pass the muster for recycling. This always upset my Mum, and although she claimed it was because moments like these were meant to be “savoured”, it wouldn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out her frustration stemmed from her coming to terms with the fact that her gift-wrap recycling plans were off the radar.

Anyway, it was my Dad who came up with a solution to this so called problem, though I never really saw what it was. He suggested that I open just one gift everyday and that way, my birthday would last longer. I should have known, right then and there that this was one of the best suggestions I would ever get and not following it would most certainly lead to a life of “what ifs” and regret. Anyway, I followed it without a whimper, for no other reason but “My Dad told me to.”  Piece of advice: If you ever think of questioning my Dad on his orders, just don’t.

After that, I opened just one gift everyday. And my birthday lasted weeks. Since there was just one gift to look forward to everyday, I opened each one with utmost reverence, thereby allowing my mother to realise her gift wrap recycling dreams.

I still do that, to this day. Although now, most of my presents are either cash or they’re unwrapped.

To be honest, I’d prefer a handmade card over stuff like gift vouchers. I like gifts that are personalised or that have sentimental value. Something symbolic. Something that shows that the gift has been carefully thought over and picked out just for you.

When we moved to Mumbai from Goa, I had a really hard time adjusting to life in the big city. I missed all my friends and family back in Goa terribly. My Dad used to still travel to Goa often either for work, or to meet the family. He always made me write a hand written note to the folks back home. Like anyone else, I didn’t see the sense in this idea in an age where  people halfway across the world were just a phone call or an email away. It was archaic and just a little silly. But I did it anyway. Because my Dad told me to. I didn’t always get replies, but when I did, it was a wonderful feeling. There’s an old world charm about receiving hand written letters.

I have no qualms about writing those letters now because I know how eager I am to receive one. Now, my grandparents are also using the web, so I sometimes get email replies to my hand written notes.

But all in all, it was a wonderful piece of advice and I’m glad I followed it.

Today is Father’s Day and I penned this down in a desperate attempt to get gift ideas for my Dad.

So, these were two simple suggestions my Dad gave me, among many others. I picked these two because they seemed so deceptively superficial. I just followed them because I was scared of starting an argument with my Dad. It didn’t seem like they would have any consequences. However, following them gave me one of the best feelings life has to offer-simple pleasures.