Posted in Of Life

Of Sleepless Nights

I have done this before. I have written posts that weren’t premeditated, that aimed to capture a mood rather than a line of enquiry into human behaviour. I have been totally missing in action, though not as long as this before. But, now is not the time to cry, as Liam Gallagher would say. Now is the time to find out why.

Especially, when I really do have the time for it. We here in India are on lockdown like the rest of the planet. I’ve been working from home, as some jobs have the privilege to, though it has been highly unstructured and panicky all around. And your girl tends to go quiet when everybody else is losing their mind. She lets panic out of the cage when there’s nobody to bother. Which is why, I’ve been having sleepless nights.

I even try having happy thoughts. What breakfast I could have, what films I could watch, what books I could get to,…all the things I could do so that not a minute of this time is wasted on what would normally be the lethargy of going out into the world. That’s something she has plenty of practice of, just like always carrying hand wash and sanitizer and doing other hygiene things anyway that the WHO is telling people to do. I’m not a “substitute” in this staying safe department, as the other, musical ‘who’ would say. I look pretty neat…cuz I am neat.

I am angry though. For many, many reasons, for which this ain’t the arena. This blog is not a political blog. It is arguably one of the most sincere, meaningful things I’ve done in my life and whether I’m active on it or not, I’ll always protect what it has been for a very long time. I’ll only say this much, I wish some people would try to act responsibly and understand what quarantine means. How they could be putting people’s lives in danger (or their own) by thinking all this is not a big deal. The idea is to be precautionary, not panicky or preachy.

Anyway, that’s my little lecture on something you’ve heard a million times already (and I hope you’re practising it too). It’s been heartbreaking all around, these times we’re living in. My filmmaking thing hasn’t been going very well. Projects have been falling through or getting overly complicated. I was just starting something new, and then this thing became real. My mood has been all over the place before all this became central in our lives, but I still feel strangely optimistic, something I’m prone to doing even in the depths of misery. Just because this is a sleepless night, doesn’t mean tomorrow won’t pick up by the time it’s twilight. It isn’t perfect, but it will do, which is more than you can hope for in times like these.

How are you staying productive these days?

Posted in Of Bloggingly

Of Going, Like, Totally Missing

Shakespearetoblog

Ahem, ah, I’m sorry for barging in on you like this, wasting your precious time, and I haven’t even proved myself to be a totally dependable blogger, so I won’t be promising anything as big as an “I’m back” because I really don’t know if I am but….

I thought you needed an explanation. And at this point, maybe an introduction too.

I haven’t been the most regular poster in recent years. Regularity for this blog meant, at least, one post per week. Some years more, some years less, but I didn’t feel too guilty if I had, at least, one post every month. Think of it as a friend you check in on who is not of Facebook: you’re not going to casually text them or ‘like’ their status updates or photos or whatever it is people do on Facebook these days to believe them to be meaningful, supportive relationships while the rest of us are just cranky, asocial, ‘holier than thou’ curmudgeons with a you-know-what up their you-know-where…but my version of social media for people I don’t know (people I do know don’t read this) is to bare my soul, without context, expecting them to bare theirs, sometimes with context, and get more out of that than I do with most of my exchanges with people. If I did get what I wanted, then we would never have met, never have co-existed in this space at this time. I can’t get no satisfaction, and hence I call myself a writer.

And for the past six months, I’ve kinda, sorta been making films. Okay, that sounds like I’ve made the next 2001:A Space Odyssey or something. No, I joined this weekend course, thinking this might be my only chance to ever learn up close how films are made. And now I’ve kinda, sorta, gone and made two short films, and am trying to make more. It’s all very, very new, very, very scary, but it has meant that all my free time is eaten up by dreaming of and sometimes, making movies.

Not that I prefer it to other forms of writing. I’ve always, always wanted to write a column. You know, a section in a newspaper or a magazine where you have the same guy or gal popping up, talking dependable serious or non-serious stuff, and you look forward to checking up on them. You even remember their names, unlike most of the other writers. You even write to them sometimes, they’re almost a friend to you, maybe as much as Garfield is when you read about him and Odie and Jon Arbuckle every Sunday. I always wanted to experience that from the other side, someone sending out this correspondence to unknown hundreds, and continuing to do so on a weekly basis. This blog has been the closest to that, and no matter where I get in my creative and professional life (and here’s hoping they merge soon enough in some form or other), I want to continue having a website of my own to just talk about what I’ve been thinking lately and get a conversation started.

My life has changed a lot this past year. If I had kept up with the constancy, the dependency that this blog ordinarily provides, I might have coped better with the change. I did write quite a bit, but it was never this sort of writing. And this sort of writing might never make a dime for me (still nowhere near 100 US dollars revenue from Of Opinions the book so that Amazon might finally send me a cheque), but that is no reason for not doing it. I write, because I don’t have the option not to. Thus, keeping practical concerns aside (the word ‘practical’ gets used quite a lot in amateur filmmaking), I simply must write what I feel I must write. And so, this form of writing won’t go away.

You might be curious about the filmmaking thing, and I would love to post about it more. Maybe not the actual work I’ve produced so far, because I’m fairly dissatisfied, but it would be lovely to get to talk about this with you. Believe me, I won’t stop once I get started, but that is why you keep turning up for all these meanderings year after year, don’t you?

What have been up to in your blogging lives?

Posted in Of Life

Of Difference in Opinion

How can it be bullsh*t to state a preference? – Rob to Barry in High Fidelity.

I’ve lately wanted to rewatch all my favourite John Cusack movies. You know where, as much as Mr. Cusack hates the idea of it, he plays the John Cusack character that so many people love. Say… Anything, Better Off Dead, The Sure Thing, and films that continue that character into the nineties like Grosse Point Blank and High Fidelity. It was watching High Fidelity when I was eleven or twelve that started it for me, both my list of (definitely more than) top five John Cusack films. And my life of nerdist music discussion.

In the blogging world here, especially with some of my readers, that may not be anything special. That’s the deal with niche interests, especially when listening to pop music is the furthest thing from being niche. It is only niche when you consciously love stuff nobody in your real life has heard of, or if you love them in such a way, with such detail, that they could never compete with you just in terms of how much and how rightly you know your Beatles when compared to them. You see where I’m going with this, people who have seen High Fidelity?

I’ve been down this road before. With the same person. An important person in my life, who is safe to discuss on this blog because they didn’t think much of it when they read it. We’ve had a serious conflict twice, once about them unconsciously mocking and thus hurting my feelings devotion for Kate Bush. And recently, for an actual, real life thing. And, maybe, that extended to them completely butchering High Fidelity, and accusing it for glorifying “douchebaggery”.

I did my best to defend my preference for High Fidelity as one of the few believable relationships in cinema, and it being a rare example where both the man and woman (but especially the man) are clinically examined. We didn’t even get to music, though those are all my favourite bits in the film, especially the incredibly satisfying performance of Marvin Gaye in the end. I feebly ended the topic with suggesting they need to rewatch the film. Apparently, Say… Anything also left no impact and thus the discussion was over.

Now I’m not saying I got treated as the middle-aged square guy gets treated by Barry in the film. I hope I did not offend with my terrible taste. It does feel like an unjust world where people close to you mock the things you love, or state that it’s not that great or that they see it from a completely unflatteringly point of view.

I mean, there are people who hate Kate Bush. There are people who think The Beatles are overrated. Yes, such people do exist and if I wasn’t already lying in my bed writing this blog post on my phone, I’d need to lie down just at the thought of such people.

But, if having niche passionate interests have taught me anything, then that is to keep them sacred. Your music, your books, your films, your preference in clothes, in food etc. Whatever matters to you, keep it out of any circumstances where your vulnerability will show. High Fidelity is one of my top five films about music. Imagine if people accused A Hard Day’s Night for being an inferior film or Dream of Life for being pretentious? I love those as I love music. As I love people. Wholly, with no rationalisation or judgement. I mean, I literally blow kisses at songs sometimes, as I did to the 1990 remix of “Close to Me” by The Cure today. It wasn’t meant for Robert Smith and Co.,it was meant for the actual song. Any psychologist who sees someone demonstrate such behaviour will not advise them casual interactions of intellectual conflict.

I better start curating a list. Of everything that is above discussion. That is sacred. Maybe I wouldn’t even blog about it. Maybe, it’s better to never talk about Kate Bush again, to anyone, than risk my feelings getting trampled. It’s hurt I simply cannot take.

What do you do when someone has a difference of opinion on something you love?

Posted in Of Life

Of Peace

I sometimes think about the comfort of my little corner here on the internet. I won’t lie and say ‘often’, for you guys will catch me lying, and this is the sort of place I could tell the truth without having the need to please. Which is a contradiction, for in all performance (and writing is a performance), if you don’t have a sense of desperation about you, if you feel no need to please, why, you may as well not do it. If you want to do it, you want to do it well, and the only way you can do it well is to be bent upon forming a connection. Which you can only do honestly, for people will see right through your deception. Communication is a superpower, perhaps the most fascinating and complex phenomenon there is, and there is no way of doing it well. What we think of as well is often a manipulation, an illusion. Most of us straddle through imperfect gaps, fall into gutters, and sometimes, without much forethought, we hit upon a moment of truth, and find ourselves expressing it almost mechanically. Only after the event do we realise the significance of what we just did. For a moment, we were fearless.

Despite all that buildup, I’m not really going to be following it with some recent experience of truth-telling. I only did all that meandering (like for long time Of Opinions readers, that is something surprising), because I take absolute comfort, faith even, in the Unknown, which in this case are the readers of this blog. I do not question your attention span, your intelligence, your generosity and your comradeship with my soul by the end of reading this sentence, or this essay. I decide, a pact I only make by myself despite imagining it being signed by you, that unlike the rest of the homo sapiens I try and communicate with each day of my life, you offer me perfect attention, understanding and acceptance.

All the phenomena responsible in bringing me to life, to shaping me in this way, to making me metamorphose from girl to woman to world-weary woman and so on, got a couple of things wrong. They gave me a loud, unintentionally authoritative voice, the kind you expect to indicate your train station before you reach it, along with an expressive nervous system, active mainly through the brain and the vocal cords, but also through hands that often go into swirls in the air, and they collectively need to be used, to be exhausted, for conversely I’d explode through containing all that I had to say and couldn’t.

But then, I always insist on peace. Really. I wouldn’t call myself an introvert, because that carries a lot of baggage, but I genuinely can and sometimes do drop out of civilization. It isn’t depression, it is having an inbuilt low threshold when it comes to being able to take in the world.

For example, I hate my current life. I don’t have time for any f**king thing, and I seem to be doing every single f**king thing, and forgetting to do every other f**king thing. I’ve been taking very intensive weekend classes. I like my course, but I effectively crashed earlier this week, and got no time to recuperate because the world does not stop just because I seem to throw up everything I eat.

And all I want is some f**king peace. What would it be like to observe a silent oath, or live reclusively, monastically? Like so many of you, I don’t like my current career situation, but I can’t quit my current career situation, and I fantasize often about going away physically as far away as I can and starting anew. But, will that bring peace? Or was Siddharth right, and one way or another (okay, a bit of Blondie there for you too), we’re all going to suffer.

Wanting peace, to be rid of desire, is itself a desire. And in this case, and I’ve been there, it might even equate with unemployment. And I don’t have the resources for that. No rich kid this opinionated blogger of yours, if she has the energy to have opinions, which she doesn’t on most days.

For all my fascination and genetic alliance with homo sapiens, I just don’t seem to be privy to the code that makes them tick as social creatures. Sometimes I’m in a group discussion situation and I think, “This is great. We’ve got such a good vibe going here. There’s just something that’s bringing it down. Oh wait, it’s me.” I wish I had an invisibility cloak, so that I could participate without having to be stimulus for potential inclusion myself.

It ain’t easy. And so today, in these few moments, I take comfort in you. You good homo sapiens, and other worldly species in you’re checking in on this little blog to understand what the humans call the “internet,” I take you to be kind and generous enough to take all this in, and listen and accept. Realistically, you’re going to be distracted by at least ten notifications on your phone among other things, but for now, I choose to believe you’re here only to make me feel a little less alone in all this imposed connectivity. Thank you.

Posted in Of Life

Of Spirituality

I’m going against everything I believed, for I believed what I said about myself to others:

My spirituality is my business.

About a fortnight ago there was a crisis at work. Yours truly was being her usual expressive self when someone suggested to her, as in to me, to go on a meditation retreat. Without thinking, for how much do you think I think when I’m blurting out at sixty words per second with little punctuation when I said, “I’m not a spiritual person.” I had neither said it out loud to others before, nor said to it myself in any form. I don’t even know how true it is.

Which is rich coming from someone who has been obsessed with the ‘Hot Priest’ storyline in the show Fleabag. If you haven’t watched it, well you simply must. For now, here’s a taster of the priest in question, played by Andrew Scott:

 

If it were simply a matter of lust, a celebrity crush, we would hardly be trying to have a conversation today. The difference lies in how he treats the main character Fleabag (yes, the show hardly has proper proper names for people) as though she were a person and not just another animate entity of the homo sapien kind who betrays possession of female anatomy and all the stereotypes that come with it. I repeat, she is treated as a person by him, he is treated as a person by her and though there’s sex hanging in the air as if it can drop with all its 500 tonne mass at any moment, matters of spirituality, of life, universe and everything down to every excruciating, embarrassing detail are explored. All in a matter of six episodes of about twenty minutes each.

I say all this because, like most great art, I learnt about myself through Fleabag. Perhaps, it enabled me to say it out loud in the first place. Only, the statement needed to be made more specific: I cannot be a publicly spiritual person. The realization of my soul is not to be witnessed by others in the vision of my being at prayer or in ritual.

I agree with Blaise Pascal and William James. It is a useful thing to have: a belief in a greater being or something of a similar nature. Just to make conversation when in communion with yourself. That communion is important to me – maybe it is the extent of my spirituality. It can help outsource your pain, contextualise it, and if it works really well, help find meaning and purpose in life. Socrates said, (I’m really namedropping the philosophers today, eh?) that a life unexamined is not worth living. When in communion with yourself, you have nowhere to hide. You cannot temper the truth, whatever your version of the truth is at that moment, and you cannot be oblivious to it. It might be the hardest thing to do – for you cannot do it lightly or dishonestly. I’ve been in search of that honesty for a long time, and I can admit I’m not strong enough for that encounter yet.

Faith is a beautiful thing in those who truly have it. Who sincerely work at it. By my need to emphasize, you can clearly see my skepticism of it. I am envious, because I cannot buy into it, but I can see how it can ease the flow of life. My inner sanctity is perhaps reserved for things like music – that is why I still put on my somewhat showoffy as well as cheesy stuff and walk about in a room doing nothing but listening to it. Perhaps thinking itself is spiritual, in terms of trying to work out what living is.

And yesterday, I had another personal revelation. I was taking a class where we were asked to listen to a piece of music, preferably with eyes closed. It was Andean music, and I did as I was told, paying attention to the flute motif, the percussion and other parts of the music. It was a sort of meditation I suppose, though as you can tell by now, I don’t know much about it on a first-hand basis. Afterwards when we were asked what we thought about it, I was the only person who had had no visual image in her head as she had listened to it. Music had been a singular and concentrated experience. I wasn’t necessarily proud of it, I’m still surprised because my head is ordinarily full of shapes and colours – it is by far the sense that gets used the most.

Also, when we were asked to share the music we like to listen to I found myself comfortably quiet for once. It may have been laziness or vulnerability but I could not see myself starting the list: The Beatles, The Kinks, David Bowie, Kate Bush…. I’m not even sure what order they should be in, for chronology doesn’t necessarily betray personal love.

It is important to love at all, I suppose. Something, if not someone. It could be the beginning of faith, as well as the goal of it.

Posted in Of Life

What the Actual Hell!

I’m sorry for all those who read and received several blog posts from me on their Reader in the past hour or so. They were all drafts from the past several years that got accidentally published. I’ve NO CLUE why. Bex, if you’re reading this, thank you for commenting (which brought my attention to it in the first place!) and in case you didn’t get my reply, I got surgery 3 years ago and recovered in three weeks. Thank you for your kindness though, it is much appreciated.

I’ve been meaning to write proper blog posts my dear blogging friends. I often mean to. I’m not sure why I don’t anymore. It can’t be that hard to sit at a computer for less than an hour per week and churn out the sort of posts that I do at least once. It isn’t the most time consuming thing in the world to manufacture. And I should do it, just to keep up with whatever features are there on the WordPress app that might be responsible for today’s mishap. All I did was take the weekly pop quiz on my friend Geoff’s blog and here we are – my readers thinking I got surgery. Nope, I’m just your regular sleep-deprived, cursing the traffic sort taking weekend classes on top of her job. Nothing else is new or special, except I’ve been obsessed with the ‘hot priest’ storyline on Fleabag for a month now. Blog post coming soon of themes connected to it.

Again, I apologize for all the weird activity here and your being puzzled or disturbed by it. Continue having a fabulous Sunday with the thought that your favourite blogger at Of Opinions (okay, one of your favourite bloggers. Okay, a blogger you consider reading sometimes) hasn’t gone completely mad. She remains firmly within the slight to almost certain range.

With love,

Amrita.

Posted in Of Life

Of Work

flat lay photography of calendar
Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

Work is more fun than fun. – Noel Coward

There’s this thing on the internet, perhaps you can call it a trend, called the ‘morning routine.’ If you’ve never come across it, good for you. If you have, heaven help you.

It’s one where you inevitably wake up at 5 a.m. sans puffy face or frizzy hair in your perfect IKEA apartment. You go for a run and watch the sunrise in shorts that expose half of your cellulite-free derriere. You come home and make your smoothie bowl or your avocado on toast. You also have your coffee, just to add a touch of sin to your certifiably perfect life. You give a kiss to your partner whom the audience distinguishes not by their looks but by their support of your lifestyle. The audience does distinguish your pet cat/dog by their looks though, and they are uncritical in the extreme.

What does this have to do with work, you say? Well, all this occurs before it is 7 a.m. It sets you up for the working day, and you know you are winning in life the moment you have your smoothie bowl. You might be detecting sarcasm in that last sentence but, sadly, my case is worse. My case is that of envy.

I stopped ironing my clothes less than a month ago. That is an achievement for me. I wouldn’t call myself a perfectionist, because that would mean I am able to achieve perfection in every area of my life. No, I aspire to, and there lies the difference. It’s like when you’re late for something. Most people are only worried insofar as they might get penalized if they are late. I don’t need any external punishment. Even when I don’t receive any, I go over everything I could have done to prevent it, or give up and blame myself for essentially being a hopeless slob.

I like to work. I can’t think of anything in life that I don’t take seriously. I do joke a lot, because I also take humour seriously, but I can’t think of a single element in my life that hasn’t been subject to serious thought. When it is good, when I am checking all the boxes on the list – for I make lists/plans for every task – then there isn’t a happier creature around. I have been on this planet a while, but my inner perkiness has managed to remain shielded from the meaninglessness of existence. Sure, I doubt the point of it all everyday, but there’s always the next thing to find out, mull over or do. I am also one of those workers who not only loves the feeling of getting it done, but also that of doing it.

You may think that would mean employers are causing a stampede in a bid to hire me. Falling all over themselves because here is someone who wants to work, likes to work, doesn’t mind working, will do it as well as it can be done and is often oblivious to how much she gets paid for it. But, that is not the reality, and it would make me a very obnoxious person talking to you if it were. You don’t drop by Of Opinions to feel bad about yourself watching my morning routine. You drop by to be confronted by fallibility, vulnerability. Basic ineptitude at life. I’m just a no-longer-teenage dirtbag baby, like you.

I genuinely believe if I learnt to relax more, I’d get better job opportunities. I’m always a nervous mess in interviews, but that just makes me turn ultra-posh. I can’t make people relax around me, and that is most likely why they’re put off. Enthusiasm doesn’t always sell. I would be the richest person in the world if it did. It isn’t only a willingness/ability to work that makes you a desirable person for the job. It is also making it look good. It is being able to show the perfectly lit finished product – the smoothie bowl – without sharing all the steps that went into making it, of which there are many.

But, I can’t do that. That beauty, that sense of balance, is alien to me. I’m all scattered in the rubble, trying to put the pieces together into some semblance of an understandable object. I try to focus more on progress than perfection (only motivational quote I allow in my flat, that too written imperfectly on a post-it), but I’m yet to find value myself in the work I do or am capable of doing, let alone convincing the world of it. Once I do, I wouldn’t need to google “how to find motivation” and watch morning routines.

What I need is a calling. Jobbing simply won’t do. Jobbing requires other motivations, mostly noble ones like family or happiness or both. For me, happiness lies in purpose. In not having to think why I’m doing something, but simply doing it as much and as best as I can. They just don’t seem to advertise for those in the classifieds as much.

What is your work philosophy? What is your ideal job, if you don’t mind sharing? And dare I ask, what is your morning routine?

Posted in Of Life

Of Dancing By Yourself

adolescent adult black and white casual
Elvis. Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I’ve been watching this YouTube channel called Grackle, which is a channel by a 21-year-old bakery student called Grace Booth. She mainly makes food-related videos and has an enthusiastic and hilarious personality which is completely authentic. She also seems to have incredible metabolism, given by the amount and type of food she eats and managing to still look like a runway model, which she actually used to be. To be fair, she is young and 5’10”, so she has the energy and tendency to stay slim. But, I think the secret to her success in this respect also boils down to a particular activity she indulges in from time to time – what she likes to call, “A Boogie Sesh.”

That is, a boogie session. Or what can be more plainly put, dancing by yourself, maybe in your bedroom, to songs you enjoy. Continue reading “Of Dancing By Yourself”

Posted in Of Culturel

Of Privilege

auditorium benches chairs class
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

On my very first day of college where I had enrolled for an honours degree in English literature, the teachers of my department assembled all the first-year students in a classroom to get to know them. Because I had a five-hour round commute to my college that consisted of multiple transportation – local train, buses and autorickshaws – I had arrived just in time to manage to get myself a seat at the back of the room. Being excited was, of course, an obvious emotion to experience Continue reading “Of Privilege”