Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Neat Categories

I met two army officers on a train traveling from Ranchi to Delhi. Our journey started at five-ish, and by dinnertime we were arguing about non-government organizations, the ambiguity of human rights violations, democracy vs. military rule, freedom to choose vs. fundamental national values. It was strange to be a part of such a textbook debate, to know that this is precisely the dialectic you've been told to expect when you meet an army guy.

Night before yesterday, met another textbook case: a casual migrant with a bit of land in Shahadara, which he leaves every once in a while to pull the rickshaw, knowing that all this can ensure him is bare survival. With talk that veers involuntarily to his children and eyes that grow wistful at this remembrance.

We inhabit stereotypes. But it is painful when there's nothing of an individual that leaves a tiny escape route from categories. Lets them sprawl a bit, be something they're not expected to be, say something they're not expected to say. Military discipline or the harshness of want. Or social norms. Or familial obligations. Or peer pressure.

Do we have it in us to resist, resist?

Monday, July 25, 2005

Reflections after transcribing

Was transcribing a half hour interview yesterday - another first, this transcription work. Completely backbreaking, and took me around 3 hours, with a break in between.

I realized your attention just dies out on you after you've listened to and typed out a certain number of words (1-1/2 pages in my case). And then you have to force your ears to listen, you mind to interpret what you hear, and your fingers to type.

I realized that though I type fast, I mostly end up using my forefingers - making me feel like a toy train running on tracks meant for an electric engine.

I realized that after a point each sentence begins to resonate of exquisite craft, each meaning acquires depth, and each sound-pattern becomes as intimate in your ears as your mother's voice.

I realized I don't want to transcribe again.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

In Delhi, babe. Or, To be whole again

I tried to be a Delhi chick today. Hanging out with friends at the Priya Complex for the first time ever.

What a wondrous experience it was. I was so surprised to be asked, and not just once: "Where is your boy?" I've become so used to my "world" where it is almost... declassé to ask about the whereabouts of the boyfriend when you don't know anything about him or the nuts and bolts of the relationship, and thereby suggest women need boyfriends to hang out with.

Most of the other girls there (oh, I don't mean to go on like this - I really liked these girls - so self-assured and vivacious and young - each at least two years younger to me - but this was so bothering) were either with boyfriends or the boyfriends were coming later.

I suppose I'd be singing a different tune if I was not going steady. I don't know. But what is this emptiness we're culturally baggaged with? Why are we taught to hanker after the boys not there? (And this makes me pause, reflect, realize I do the same: hanker after the boy not there. Uh-oh.)

Friday, July 22, 2005

The Cats

There has to be at least one post with their photos, to introduce them.

The goodhearted bignatured grey sage, Frodo, and the indomitable twinkling orange star, Toft.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

In Continuation: A Love Affair with Words

I'm still not used to saying "I write" when asked about what I do (particularly when you're travelling, as I've been doing, this is a question you often get asked). I located my discomfort in how slowly my writing seems to be going (this is no excuse, but we adopted two delightful kittens three weeks ago - I let them claim an unnecessary share of my time) - once I become more industrious, I thought, I'd be able to say the words easily.

Then I heard a friend, a published writer of some repute, introduce himself as an "editor of the magazine XYZ". Was this modesty? - and if so why? Or diffidence about being in the writerly profession: more dubious and unprofessionlike than most others?

Another friend in another conversation felt a published body of work is what entitles you to call yourself a "writer". I was slightly disappointed - hey, I may not be published, I may not be writing every day, even (at least those cauldron-words of the soul), but this is the identity I'm most at home with: a writer!

Yes, A. - I know I really need to gather my creative energies with much more urgency.

Friday, July 08, 2005

The Cooler is Bought


the heat lying low
just below the chiks
ready to rise and pounce
on me

its tang
of terror reaching my cheek

The Morning After...

last night
the cooler so delicious
i couldn't thank it enough
thank my fortune

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Of Egos and Dial-ups

Reached Ranchi today (yes, my feet do seem to have pahiye attached) and am coping with a reliably infuriating dial-up connection.

Meanwhile, here's me measuring Paheli's Bollywood Pulse at EGO.