Thursday, July 26, 2007

The Little Tippler

Though I was very happy when I wrote my last blog post, I noticed that for the remainder of the day I remained restive and vaguely melancholy. At night, hoping to raise my spirits, I began reading some of Emily Dickinson's poetry again. I also read the book's foreword about the reclusive poet and her life. I learnt something I never knew. All of Dickinson's work, save seven anonymous verses, were published only posthumously. There is indication in some of her later poems of the recognition of this as a fact, and indeed resignation to it. I cannot begin to imagine how she must have felt. So much for my restlessness!!!

But I continue in the vein of sanguinity...

"I taste a liquor never brewed
From tankards scooped in Pearl
Not all the Vats upon the Rhine
Yield such an Alcohol!
Inebriate of Air-am I
And Debauchee of Dew
Reeling-thro endless summer days
From inns of Molten Blue.

When "Landlords" turn the drunken Bee
Out of the Foxglove's door
When butterflies-renounce their "drams"
I shall but drink the more!
Till Seraphs swing their snowy Hats
And saints-to windows run
To see the little Tippler
Leaning against the Sun."
~ Emily Dickinson.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Oh Frabjous Day!

I find more and more, as I write these blog posts of mine, that they stray from what should be their sole purpose, namely to chronicle the incidents that I am fated to experience and enunciate the thoughts that chance upon my mind, almost exclusively into the realm of limning my literary absorptions, and my experience of them. Every time I sit down to type one of these blog updates, I find myself trying to imagine how I could concisely convey what I feel, and the manner in which I feel it. I have tried at times to describe in detail such feelings, and failing miserably at doing so, comforted myself in the thought that my blog is after all an account that I keep for my sake alone, and while it is gratifying to know that people read it, however strong the desire to describe to my reader the precise emotion I feel when I write, what remains paramount is that I am able to say exactly what I want to say regardless of whether it makes any sense to anyone else or not. When I read today the posts I wrote a few months ago, I am struck by how many tiny, but moving sensations are awoken in me at the remembrance of an incident I described which might seem commonplace to a chance reader, but which are not without a multitude of arcane memories for me. And when I do so, I am overcome by a very confounding, and almost paralyzing sense of wanting to grab hold of the first passer-by I come across, sit him down and not caring how many months or years of torment it takes, to make him understand exactly how I felt, and how I continue to feel every second of every day. I feel so agonizingly alive and animated, that I cannot bear the notion that I will live my life out, and not be able to profess in any way remotely capable of making anyone ever understand how much I feel, and how acutely I feel it.

This, as you might have guessed is one such attempt. And reading what I have just typed, I realize the unqualified and absolute futility of it. Which brings me back to the matter of writing about what I read: upon further deliberation, it seems to me that the reason I enjoy works of literature so much is that I feel, to however limited an extent, what the writer felt as he wrote. And the reason I write about them so often in my blog is because I want to experience the delight of saying: "I know how you felt!", even if I never experience recompense. I perceive in the books I read fragments of the very same animation that I feel, but am not able to express. I read, and walk with the writer. I read, and sense with my mind, what the writer sensed with his faculties. I do not flatter myself that I do so in any way that is more or less different from that which others do. Mr. Butler, through his wonderfully satirical alter ego, Edward Overton, describes the foolish and pompous presumption of Mr. George Pontifex that he, when in the presence of works of artistic genius, was clever enough to realize his limited capabilities, and feel in its entirety the humility which seemed properly due the masters. Perhaps, for all my scoffing at the absurdity and snobbish ostentatiousness of Mr. Pontifex, I am no different, no better than him. I do feel humbled when I read the books I read. Every time I read a book, I am exhilarated, but the sense of inadequacy grows. I am never resentful, but rather like the starry-eyed schoolboy du Maurier described who regards his prefect with a fawning admiration, I too admire, and realize that I am incapable of something of such sheer magnitude. No one a few centuries later will read me, and feel what I feel. No one even today will feel what I feel unless I fuse our two selves in one. Those are perhaps lofty goals. But failing those possibly unattainable goals, no one will even know how much I feel what I feel every single day. I feel happy. And I quote Lewis Carroll, who so much more than me, and without having to write as much as I just did, was able to just say: “Oh frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!”

Friday, July 20, 2007

Quick Updates

I was as good as my word... I got a very very comfy lawn chair that's cushioned and spreads back, almost like a pool chair. I'm done reading "Bachelors Anonymous". Instead of reading "Under the Greenwood Tree", I watched a TV version, which was probably not quite as good. I think I'll replace that on my list with "Captains Courageous". Nisha is here to stay for a week before we both go back to Manhattan to move her into her new apartment. OA, Nisha and I went garage sale shopping this morning, and Nisha went overboard and bought a lot of stuff. I bought another book, and the lawn chair, of course! Still no sign of any good car anywhere on the horizon. Life will be easier with N here... she's so terribly maternal that I can forget about any household chores that I need to do for the next couple of weeks while I am with her.

Thursday, July 19, 2007


I had the opportunity yesterday to be like Uma Thurman on "Pulp Fiction". I had a shot of adrenaline. It wasn't as glamorous as in the movie, and I didn't get shot in my heart, but rather unglamorously on my left arm. I have suddenly and very inexplicably developed an allergy to something. I broke out in hives all over and have for the past two days been in a state of extreme discomfiture. I finally decided to go to the doctor. She decided to give me a shot of adrenaline, and follow up later with a shot of Benadryl. I knew already that adrenaline would make me jittery and nervous, but I think I underestimated how much. My knees went shaky. So did my hands, legs and even my voice. I tried to tell myself that this was very psychosomatic, and that I was feeling the jitters only because I knew that is what it was supposed to make me do. But even trying as hard as I could, I couldn't stop being nervous. I felt very very silly, but remembering "Pulp Fiction", also felt very very glamorous.

I read some poetry last night. I was in the mood for nature poetry, so I read Emily Dickinson who writes a lot of it. One poem struck me as being very beautiful. This is summer, and the poem was about autumn, but I thought I'd post it here anyway:

The morns are meeker than they were,
The nuts are getting brown;
The berry's cheek is plumper,
The rose is out of town.
The maple wears a gayer scarf,
The field a scarlet gown.
Lest I should be old-fashioned,
I'll put a trinket on.

So I wore a trinket to bed last night - a brown bracelet. Felt very silly wearing a bracelet to bed, but it was beautiful, and in the moment.

P.S. Update about reading: I am halfway through "Bachelors Anonymous". It being one of Wodehouse's later books, was not as great as his earlier work, but very enjoyable all the same. Today I shopped for second hand books. Picked up four classic paperbacks for a dollar!! What a steal!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

"Read" on McDuff

I have made up my mind to read one book a week. Now how long I will be able to faithfully stick to my resolution remains to be seen, but for the past couple of days I have been blissfully happy lost in "The Mysterious Mr. Quin". I was at the Public Library today and walked past a shelf of books when I saw out of the corner of my eye, Ballantyne's "The Coral Island". I spent years of my childhood reading that book again and again and again, and being wonderfully happy. So I have decided to continue to be happy and read read read....

In order to keep things interesting, I have decided to create a multi-genre list, (which in my case ought to be called multi-author list because most of what I read really falls under only one of four different genres: Wodehouse, Bronte-esque, late 18th - early 20th century crime, and drama of the same era), and stick to it. Here is my July reading list:

* Bachelors Anonymous - Wodehouse
* The Tailor of Panama - le Carre
* Under the Greenwood Tree - Hardy

Wish me luck!

Monday, July 16, 2007

The Room

This post has all the appearances of being influenced by my reading Christie yesterday. I don’t think it entirely is. But you, my dear readers, are of course entitled to draw any conclusions that you choose to.

I was feeling sick-ish last night, and went to bed early. And I had a singularly odd and terrifying dream. I woke from it with a start at exactly 11:19pm. The dream made no sense to me, and it remained unfinished. It had all the elements of a nightmare: a strange, dark room, a scary passageway, a mysterious man pursuing me, racing heartbeat etc., etc. But what was the strangest about the dream was the room that I finally ran into in order to hide from the man. Contrary to all expectations that one associates with a hiding place, this was a large, bright, cheerful room with a huge comfortable bed and giant glass windows. It had curtains not on the windows, but on one wall, covering it in its entirety. On the floor was a clump of elegant, paper shopping bags full of clothes. There also was a bunch of odd keys that seemed to fit nowhere. There was something very familiar about this room. I have a strong feeling that I have in my waking hours, been in that room before.

I awoke with a start, and the first thing that struck me was the wondering thought about when or where I had seen that room before. I propped myself up in the bed and sat in the darkness for a long time. I looked through to my living room and could see shadows of my bamboo plants magnified against the moonlight filtering in through the blinds. I sat and thought about it for a long time. The only way I could describe it was this – it was (or is) the most “comfortable” room I have ever experienced in a dream or in reality. It also had an extraordinarily calming effect on me; as though it were the only place I ever would be safe. But I was not satisfied. I got up, got myself out of bed, sat myself down at the kitchen table, and drew the layout of the mysterious room, the dark room, and the forbidding passageway through which the man followed me. I have looked at the figure long and hard, but I still cannot place where this singular room was.

The room was remarkable not just in its comfort, but also in several other ways which I could detail, but wouldn’t make any sense unless I explained my dream as well. I will not, here or now. But I will hold on to the map that I drew. I sometimes dream in pairs, and sometimes with several years between the halves. Maybe I will finish the dream someday. I hope so, because if I ever uncover where that room is, I will make my way to it and never leave.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

He Reminds Me of Timmy

I know who he reminds me of. He reminds me of Timmy. He looks nothing like him, but he has the same air of oppressed earnestness, the same restrained manner, and the same streak of misunderstood, suppressed idealism that shines forth from behind a wary, skeptical exterior. I am in love again - this time with William Hurt. I saw him last month in “Mr. Brooks”, and knew that there was something strange about him that appealed to me. I racked my brain trying to decipher what it was, but couldn’t. I knew it was love, but I couldn’t place at first what it is about him I was in love with. And then I went on a spree of watching his movies until I finally figured it out. He reminds me of Timmy.

I am sick. I have a terrible, terrible cold. I hate having to deal with the common cold. I am congested, have a hoarse voice, and know that the cold is only going to worsen before it gets any better. And that is not a prospect that I am thrilled about. This morning, I woke up early, took a shower and since my guest was not up yet, settled back in bed with a book: Agatha Christie’s “The Mysterious Mr. Quin”. It is a collection of twelve short stories of twelve inscrutable cases solved completely through conversations between the observant Mr. Satterthwaite and the mysterious Mr.Quin. No searching for clues, no questioning of suspects, not even venturing away from their comfortable armchairs. And yet, they solve what seem to be baffling cases in such a believable manner. If I could meet anyone from times past, the two people I should like to meet the most would be Christie and Doyle. I was exhausted after reading three short stories, and slept again for a few hours. I was so happy as I closed my eyes. When I know for a fact that I am happiest when I read, why in the world do I even attempt to do anything else with my spare time??? Tomorrow I shall buy a lawn chair and install myself in the backyard under the shade of the elm. Balmy summer evenings are after all meant to be spent drinking cold iced tea, and treating myself to a ride in the frugal chariot!

Monday, July 9, 2007

An Existential Question

I have just discovered something. I am terrified. I am not sure what I am terrified of. But right this moment, I am afraid. I was browsing some websites online, and I caught a small glimpse of the kind of difference some people make in the world. It is a terrifying and scary experience. I feel completely humbled by the enormity of what some people do. I can barely stop my tears from flowing when I consider what a completely selfish and futile life I am leading right now. I look back at all I did today. This morning, I was struck by a sudden urge to go to Ledges State Park, and because I still had the rental car until noon, I did that. Then I came home, found it cold, and called my apartment manager to turn the air down. I took a nap, returned the car, went to school, goofed around a little, went back home, took another nap, went to my gym class, came back to school, and browsed the internet again. Not one single thing have I done today that has not been about me. Not a single thing. I don’t want to be famous. I don’t want to do anything spectacular. I just want to do something small, but selfless.

Nearly a year ago, I was talking with someone on the phone and trying to list all the places I wanted to travel to, and all the things I want to experience. It was a never ending list. About halfway through a sentence, I had to stop because I realized that I was going to have a panic attack. I had just become aware that I wanted to experience so much, but that I had so little time in my life, and such limited means. I knew I would grow to be old, and not have done even a fraction of the things that I wanted to do. I started sobbing uncontrollably. I think I must have cried for nearly an hour. And all the while, only one single thought reverberated in my mind: “What is the point of it all?” Is it really enough to do just as much as one can even if one knows that one can never do all one wants to do? A few days later I talked about this with a friend. She told me that all she aspired for in this world was to live comfortably and enjoy her family. I wished then that I could be satisfied with that. I wished I could not want everything that I want. I wished to not be a human being. I wished I was just a mute animal who went about its life only trying to gather food and procreate. But I can’t do that. I can’t stop feeling, and wanting, and desiring all the things that I do.

That was nearly a year ago, but I feel exactly that way today. I cried and was frustrated and found no answers. I go from day to day seeking nothing more than sustenance and self-gratification. The need to make a difference, or even live a life that is not entirely about me, doesn’t occur to me. It makes me feel small, insignificant and closed. I wonder when I will find out what it is that I want and how I can get there. It is the uncertainty and vagueness of not knowing that rends my soul.

Sunday, July 8, 2007


This is the first time I have returned to my new home after a weekend-long vacation. I feel excited to be back home. I feel like I have returned to a sweet resting place. I feel giddy and excited. Not sure that all of it is because of the apartment. My apartment is cold... and I shiver. I wonder if it is the cold, or if it is excitement. The weather outside is balmy, and in the afternoons is stifling. Aarti told me that it was raining in Minneapolis. I wonder if the rain will move towards Ames. I hope it does. I feel this moment like jumping in puddles.

I have hardly been out in the Ames parks all summer. I think I will go tomorrow. I should probably go back and visit the Gateway Hills Park. I miss the place so much. I think I'll take a sheet and a book along. I remember the first time I saw the park. It was nearly a year after I had lived in that apartment. I remember kicking myself really hard for not ever venturing in that direction. I'll go there tomorrow.

I am smiling... I have just discovered I am in love with Sonu Nigam. I never thought I would utter those words. Nisha would laugh at me if she could hear me say that. But he does have the most gorgeous, lovely voice.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

The Darling Buds of July

July has begun beautifully. I find it hard to believe that one half of this year is now past. But I am convinced that what remains of it is going to be lovely. June was an interesting month. Not easy all the time, but interesting. My car stopped working (again). I was a witness at a wedding and honored to be asked. Other things... good and not so good. Interesting.

It was my birthday a few days ago. I was astonished at how many people wished me a happy birthday and a happy year. I had no idea that I was so loved. I actually feel quite silly because I assumed that I was not. Nisha sent me a lovely HUGE coffee icecream cake. She is the sweetest darling sister in the world. And no one can ever be as sweet and kind and lovely as she is. All the malayalees here at Ames made it a beautiful and memorable day for me. I love OA, and Gisha and Robin. I think they are the sweetest friends anyone could ask for. Daddy and Mummy were lovely too. The world suddenly seems such a beautiful place and I love everyone in it. I went and watched the fireworks on the fourth with Gisha, Saju and the kids. I love Gisha's kids. I wish I had some kids of my own, but I think I would make a terrible mother. All in all, I love July. I wish Shakespeare had written about the "Darling buds of July" instead of May.

I had a conversation today which made me realize how much more I need to talk with my parents. Daddy especially. I have been positively selfish and must try not to be. I am going to Chicago tomorrow and will meet Arun. I saw him last in October. When I saw him last, I never thought that he would become such a good friend. I wish I could be as good a friend to him as he has been to me. He is so absolutely giving, and positive. Sometimes I think he's a little too positive and strong to be true. I like flaws in people. But that might only be because I am scared that I am very flawed myself. I am flawed.

I'm humming an old tune...
"We'll gather lilacs in the spring again
And walk together down an English lane
Until our hearts have learned to sing again"