NaMoWriMo #6

hello.

it’s been 6 days since I last wrote. it is funny because it is not difficult for me at all to lapse into a state of stagnancy and not write. but I am determined to make this work, guys. I will reach #30 of my NaMoWriMo series as an attempt to revive the blog.

so why did I not blog for the past week? well, that’s just what happens when I go home. all semblance of a routine that I have in my life goes out the window when I go home. it is y tiny two day vacation I squeeze into my life every ten days or so. it’s where all rules get suspended, everything that I do congeals into a mass that looks like me that either hogs at the dining table or sleeps like a dog through the day. it does not help that my parents sleep at 9 pm and seeing them only pushes me further into sleeping, no matter the fact that they’ve been up since 6 am and I’ve had three different naps at different points of the day. it is like my vacation days (two days, thanks adulthood) operate on a dimension where all time does not exist and what even is college????

what have I done in the past week then? good question. I have given an exam that got announced twelve hours before we had to give it. I met two of my professors for career (and life, because let’s be real. I don’t know what I am doing here!!!) advice. I tried waking up early (and I mean early early, like 5 am) three days in a row and failed. I watched a Korean movie called Parasite (hit me up if you want to discuss because omggg!). I had three great dinners that I really enjoyed after a long time. I filled one application and edited an SOP for a friend. I talked to two people after a long time and had a great conversation with one another. I have been having an existential crisis because I have 3 presentations, 4 papers, 2 applications, and 2 internship applications due over the next two weeks, not to mention the final year confusion. it’s also my mom’s fiftieth birthday next week so I have to plan for that because my dad cannot do it (thank you very much, btw!)

what now? well, the only reason I started writing this in the first place is because I am procrastinating. ok, that is only kind of partially true, but that’s not what was in my mind when I started writing. the reason why I am writing is because I was doing  crossword puzzle (the easy one) and I couldn’t figure one out. I feel like I am in a haze, dazed up stage where words seem to evade me and there’s a vacuum around me. I felt like I was unable to articulate anything and was beyond thinking about words (excellent timing for which, by the way! who wouldn’t want to not be able to think about words when they have so!! many!! things!! due!!) but that is what this post is aimed at. I just want to be able to break out the vacuum in the next half hour so that I can begin studying properly. hopefully, it works.

so what will I do until this haze clears away? I have this dope playlist on my Spotify, that I am listening to even now and that I can’t find a link to, but it is one of my Daily Mixes. I might even watch a movie or so and hopefully feel better before I start with the studies.

also, omg, forgot to mention that I saw a lot, a lot of good movies this week- Inglorious Basterds by Tarantino, Vertigo by Hitchcock, Parasite by Bong Joon-Ho (need to watch his entire filmography next), Intersteller by Nolan, and Even the Rain (a Spanish film about the Cochabamba protests and it’s great). I have a couple more lined up that I need to watch. I’ll be watching Hitchcock’s rear Window in a class, Bridget Jones Diary, Notting Hill, and How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days for a presentation, and there’s this one Malayalam movie called Kumbalangi Nights that has rave reviews that I want to watch. so if there is anyone is up for discussing,/fangirling/hating/debating about any of these movies, hit me up because I would love to talk!

that’s enough for today, I suppose. have a good time.

NaMoWriMo #2

it’s day 2 of NaMoWriMo, and I’m still writing. if I were you, I would probably commend me for even writing at all, considering the existential crisis I’ve been experiencing since 5:45 pm in the evening. yes, I am having an existential crisis.

the last time I wrote with a commitment to the blog and to my lovely readers was probably when I was nearly finishing high school. I was applying to colleges, to different programs, all the while preparing for my Board examinations, and I was quite worried because the future had never seemed more bleak or uncertain as it had then. it’s funny how history repeats itself.

because after four years, countless memories, uncertain identities and shifting loyalties, I return to writing, and to the blog, in a similar predicament. with four years of college behind me, and having about seven times the knowledge I had before, I am once again applying to colleges, only that it is ten times worse than it was for my undergrad. because this time, there are no do-overs. once I commit, it is for lifelong– rather, it is a life. normally, I would not be so pessimistic in my approach to the future, but the enormity of the situations scares me. the future is not that far anymore, and there is hardly enough time for me to slow down, and take on life one breath at a time.

so, my existential crisis. at 5:03 pm, I walk into my tutorial class. we discussed Kubla Khan for about 40 minutes after which we talked about Biographia Literaria, Coleridge, Mumbai, NET, why you should clear it and how you should prepare for it- in that order. you can probably guess where it is heading my now. my anxiety levels have already risen. it is 5:58 pm now and the next class is to happen in the same room. only then, the TA makes a primer for all the basic exams that any masters’ prospective student should give. evaluation scheme, syllabus, entrance exams, intake, question paper format, she does not spare any details. to add the cherry to the pie, she almost instructs us to apply to SNU as well, citing it to be one of the best in India for English literature. I was weeping internally by this time.

clearly, existential crisis had intensified. what was supposed to be a light tutorial session for a Romantic poem turned into a reality check that was just what I did not need. it will take me three days now, just to return back to my senses. the future is scary, it is uncertain, and I want to put off being in it for as long as I can. I cannot say that I enjoy it here, but I certainly do know what is going to happen, and that is reassurance enough at the moment.

so in honour of the TA being to freak me out, I am going to finish watching Vertigo that I started in the morning today but fell asleep halfway through. this is, I think, my second quality movie in two days. the one I watched yesterday was this amazing Spanish film called Even The Rain. I would definitely recommend it. it is amazing what a small but tight commitment can do. I can actually see my slow disassociation with binging and my engagement with better quality content. I’m saving time, I’m talking to people, I am writing!!

it is in keeping in line with this that I will also attempt to read a couple of articles on the consequences of demonetization due tomorrow morning, 9 am. don’t think I will be able to  get to a couple of pages by Nabakov, but that’s ok since I read for a while between my classes today.

this is day #2 of the NaMoWriMo, and this is Akanksha signing off for the day.

A Day In My Life

Many a times, I wonder what I am doing with my life.

A typical day in my life would start with me waking up at about quarter to eight in the morning, occupy an empty toilet in the bathroom, brush my teeth, wait for a bathroom to vacate, bathe, and leave for my nine o’clock class sparing seven minutes for the commute. Fit in a hurried breakfast at about ten thirty, an lunch at one thirty, my class gets over by three thirty in the evening, Ideally, I like to fit in a workout at the gym for about an hour, but it is not an ideal world. I grab a bite, usually junk like chips or biscuits. Then depending on the amount of work I have, it is either studying or I chat with my friends, listen to music, catch up on my TV shows, or simply sleep. At about eight thirty, I go with my friends for dinner at the mess. Coming back at about ten thirty, I study for an hour or so, and then call it a night.

Then there are days where I simply get nothing done right. I sleep late; consequently, I wake up late, either getting late or missing my morning classes altogether. I forget to eat because the food sucks, I fight with my friends, I don’t go to the gym even though I know I should, I sleep the entire evening, only to wake up late at night, when I can neither sleep, nor study because I am too groggy. Those days are the worst because I end up feel like a useless lump of skin. I feel disgusted by myself for having slipped in my routine, just because of my frivolous attitude.

Coming to the university, I had to change a lot and adapt to a lifestyle that is befitting to me, which actually brings out the best in me. Last semester, I had classes only two days a week, which were absolutely packed. The rest of the days, I had no work, nothing on my agenda. I fell into a vicious circle of laziness and lethargy. I would stay up till dawn watching movies, and would sleep till noon, getting ready late in the evenings. My productivity was all time low, I wasn’t blogging, I wasn’t reading, I wasn’t doing anything. I hated that feeling. Thankfully, by the end semester break, which was almost a month long, I almost had a proper schedule, and I promised not to let myself slip again. Since the starting of this semester, I was inclined to give my hundred percent in college. I eat food, I study frequently, I am regular to my classes, I am happy.

Today was a wrong day in sorts. I slept late last night, working on an assignment we had been given. I set my alarm for seven thirty, waking up eventually at quarter to nine, giving me barely enough time to get dressed and rush to my class. I had a class from nine to ten and two consecutive ones from eleven to twelve and twelve to one. My eleven am class was cancelled at precisely eleven am, after I had wasted an hour in the block doing nothing when I could have taken a bath and change. I came back to my room at eleven, ate chips, drank juice and buttermilk, watched One Tree Hill. I went back for the twelve noon class, attended it, had lunch and was back in my room by two fifteen, feeling a little flustered by the hot sun, and my unwashed, unproductive state of being.

There is something in the last two weeks of February and the first week of March that just lightens me up. The weather is just short of hot in the days, and appropriately cool in the night. I blossom in this time; even the most mundane tasks suddenly seem very exciting, I am ten times happier. Maybe it is the winter fading, maybe the approaching Holi that I absolutely love, maybe it is just seeing and existing in the sun when it is not melting you, I love this time. If you ask me to give up my most prized object at this time, I would probably give you. I would even share my food at this time if I am extremely happy.

Any when I came to my room, I listened to some music, the fan airing away all that I was feeling and the sun outside, the cool inside, I was actually very relaxed. However, arriving quarter past three, the idea of going to the gym was growing on my mind. I am the type of person who needs to lose weight to actually be healthy but gives up way too soon, before any results of all the hard work that I put in are visible. But as I said, it was spring, the weather was absolutely perfect, and the guilt of not having gone for the past ten days was killing me. Instinctively, without giving myself time to change my mind, I changed into my gym attire, ran a brush through my hair and was off to the gym, a water bottle in one hand, earphones and phone in the other.

It was a sweaty workout, I can say. I wear a woolen sweatshirt over a tee shirt so that I sweat more, so that was that, plus considering the fact that I hadn’t worked out in over ten days and started a month ago, I was impressed with my performance, particularly my stamina in running. I can also say the The Pretender by the Foo Fighters is a great song to work out to. I returned at about twenty minutes to five, absolutely knackered, sweaty and itchy all over. Again, without thinking, I went to bathe (with cold water, the first time since winter departed), knowing that if I think, I will probably not go. Came back, cleaned the room, my bed, folded my laundry, dressed up (a little fancy), and sat down to study all before five, which is when I started this post. All my frustration of being unproductive had washed away while I bathed. Admittedly, I am really proud of myself today. I think I am finally learning how to adult #donotjinx

I don’t know where I am aiming at with this post today. Maybe I just wanted to share my little victory with someone. Maybe it is the spirit of spring that inspired me to write this uncharacteristically personal post- a glimpse of my everyday life. I don’t know but I am feeling very happy today. Sometimes, you need to step closer to reality, look at the little things instead of the big picture to be content.

So now, I guess I am going plug in my earphones, and study since I have my mid-sems just a week away. What is your daily routine like? Have you done anything, no matter how tiny that has made you proud? Does the spirit of spring also transform you like it does me? I’d love to know.

Cheers!

Update on The World Past Me.

It has been just a little more than a month since I’ve last posted on my blog, and over six months, since I stopped posted continuously. This is an long, overdue explanation for that.

I had trouble writing. The enthusiasm with which I wrote had deserted me, moreover, it felt impersonal. I’ve always written because those were words that I didn’t say, and they needed to be said. They’ve always been from the heart, they’ve always been about things that I felt, or did, or thought; my writing was never about just writing- it was a means for me to express myself.

Lately, more specifically starting last summer, I ran out of things to talk about. I ran out of things to say. I didn’t know what to write. I felt that the one thing that I had with me always had emancipated from myself. What I wrote was a result of my frustration of not being able to write, not being able to feel empty after I’d written, not being able to say what I needed to say. And let me tell you, that isn’t a good place to be. Imagine someone taping your mouth when you are telling them about a very personal event, or not being able to find a recall the word that would say exactly what you want to say and your mind going in circles at that thought and you’ll know what I mean. 

Many of you may also know that it was around the same time that I started my undergraduate studies as an English major in a university about two hours from my house. of course, as a language major, I was also supposed to write a lot. My conviction in my writing only grew weaker, and the feeling of being wordless was engulfing me. I could only write for my courses. I felt that this “academic” writing was draining me of my ability to write, for myself. I wrote, a little, as I said, but they were not writings that I was satisfied with. Their purpose was simple: to keep the blog running. And in that way, an entire semester passed, without me having blogged successfully.

However, last month, at my end semester break, I decided to write anything, poetry , prose, anything that would make me write. And I started a little something. From 11 pm to 3 am, I would sit with a cup of soup or coffee at the dining table in my house, surrounded my a warm blanket and alternate between writing and watching YouTube videos. And I did write; I wrote about 7.5k words in a span of 15 days. I don’t know a lot about these stats, but the important thing is that I wrote. I wrote without deleting every second word and without closing the file in my anger and without getting distracted.

Fifteen days since I last worked on it, I have finally written something today that I am satisfied with, that makes me feel like I’ve done a good job. And it is in celebration of that that I am finally making this post, my first post in the new year that is 2017, that is making me think that yes, I will be more punctilious and adhere to blogging regularly.

Hopefully, this post today will unjinx the bad voodoo that has prevented me from writing, and hopefully, it’ll be the welcome mat for the next, and more frequent posts, on The World Past Me.

A very (late) Happy New Year to everyone. May words always be with you!

 

What I Learnt in My First Month in University

Four days ago was one month since I moved out of my house to the hostel in my university. Here are my observations on how it has been:

1. Some teachers won’t give a damn if you won’t. They won’t bother if you are listening, if you’re napping, if you’re on your cell phones. Your education is in your hands. It is up to you to pay attention.

2. On the other hand, the teachers who do actually teach will not spoonfeed you. They will give you stepping stones, they will tell you what you want, in a manner that’ll make you want to rip off your hair. But at the end, you’ll get an idea of what they were talking about. You’ll be grateful that they didn’t tell you. You’ll be happy that you were able to arrive at what you did without anyone putting thoughts in your head.

3. There are no fixed schedules. Your sleeping pattern revolves around the work you have. You may have a class at 9 in the morning and the paper due the same morning. You will have to work till dawn, you will have to sleep for 3 hours and you’ll have to attend the class. 

4. Which is why, don’t procrastinate. If you do, you’ll have not have the satisfaction of having submitted a paper that you actually like. For the two papers that I’ve submitted so far, I have  worked and I enjoyed the process. Even though it kept me awake till 4, the feeling that I had before going to sleep was unparalleled.

5. You’ll have a lot of free time at hand. For people like me who have classes I only 2 days a week and who are literally the most shy and laziest people in the planet, it’s very easy to fall into the trap of sleep. It’ll beckon you, call you, force you in subordination so much that you’ll sleep 15 hours a day. You’ll have to resist that. I fell into that pattern and believe me, that week, I didn’t have more than 10-12 meals of the 21 meals I should have been having. 

6. Which is why, get involved. One of the best ways you can make friends is by getting involved. Find your interest and go for it. You’ll find your kind of people if you venture out of your comfort zone. Even if you can’t, sit on the quad, go to the library, sit in the café; you’ll find someone to talk to.

7. Saying that, there will come a time when you’ll lose your appetite. The mess food will taste like sand, each meal of each day and you will literally feel your appetite fading. And you would be able to go one for days on just water. At that time, eat. Go to tuck shops, make popcorn, buy a sandwich but eat. Nourishment is important.

8. Have a night out with friends. Just go to the park, and sit there. Walk around, let the dew kiss your feet, play music, wait for the stars to recede. Talk about yourselves, know each other, your pasts, presents, futures. Witness the sunrise, I swear, you’ll feel like you were meant for that day only. (Not to mention, sleep at six and miss the first class of the day!)

9. There will be times when you’ll feel homesick, you’ll feel alone, and miserable. You’ll miss your home, your family, your friends, your school. You’ll feel like crying all the things that you’ve felt since you left home. Cry. Cry your heart out, in the pillow, on a shoulder, in the afternoon, at night after everyone’s asleep. You’ll feel a lot better, you’ll feel lighter, you’ll feel more settled.
10. You are here to learn but you’re here to make memories too. Many of the people you meet will probably end up becoming your closest friends for the rest of your life. Which is why, choose them carefully. I’m not saying don’t talk to anyone. Rather, talk, but make sure that the people you pour your heart out to deserve you. Don’t settle for less. You’re worth a lot more than a toxic relationship. Never demerit yourself. 

These are the few things that I learnt, rather experienced, in the first month. Do they match your college life, or are they not what you experiences? I’d love to hear from you!

Until the next month, then!

Turning To Caffeine

I get that warm gushy, mushy feeling
as the last of the coffee swirls in my mouth,
crashing against the pink walls
it is controlled in, all the juices
from the body, blending perfectly
with the milk, and coffee, and water
and sugar from the pantry below the rooms.

I nestle comfortable in my chair,
my spine jutting with ease with the
Styrofoam under the red, cheap cloth
my knee perched up, ankle left loose
on the steel hand rest of the chair;
my ponytail playing chase with the
the slight air that the fan sends in my way.

Arms across the chest, my eyelids flutter,
just as they do when I feel droopy, the head
reminding me of the paper that I have due
and my heart, of the feather-like mattress
that crushes under me each night; as the eyes
shut close, the world starts to breathe and stops
as the smell of coffee warms my nostrils, yet again.

The World Past Me Goes To Uni.

Hi guys.

It has been long since I’ve written a personal post, so here goes: I’m at my university!!!

Yes, after a month of decided of majors, subjects and colleges, I’ve come to this amazing place near my house, and it’s beautiful. I’ll be doing my major in English.

So, I dropped in yesterday afternoon, and the weather was majestic. I got myself registered, then went to my hotel, checked in and I explored the campus with my best friend from school (you read that right!!). I slept really early though, last night, because I was exhausted.

I couldn’t write yesterday as my laptop wasn’t connected to the wi-fi and so today, this was the number one thing on my priority list so that I could write this post.

It’s been two amazing days, the only problem being the bathrooms which are awful. They’re constantly wet, they constantly smell and it’s impossible to change our clothes in there. Also, today’s breakfast was uneatable.

That’ all for now folks. I’m really excited to be here, and hopefully, the next four years will be one of the best years of my life.

Give me all your wishes because I need them. And I’ll keep you updated with how my college life goes.

Lots of love,
Akanksha

Woh Kagaz Ki Kashti

Read this for reference before continuing.

Sixteen years later, a full fledged, voluptuous, long dark haired girl lies on a bedsheet on the floor of her room, next to the two mattresses, both of which are depressed with mountainous solids, covered in bedsheets and flanked by multiple pillows on either side- her parents.

The room is bathed in a gentle red hue and the air conditioner’s low, constant hum creates a drowsy, comfortable atmosphere. A guitar is in one corner of the room, against the wall, behind which the red lights twinkle lazily. The opposite wall is covered entirely with scraps of paper, some printed, some written on- by crayons, pencils, pens, markers, so much that the blue paint of the wall is hardly visible; things that may make no sense to someone who doesn’t look close enough. Each bit of paper contains thoughts.

It was something that the two sisters started earlier in the year. They put their thoughts on scraps of paper and struck them to the wall. Song lyrics, some random poems, lists, words, quotes, essays in the newspapers they liked, some important deadlines, written in bold; it was their mind on the wall. It contained candid snaps of their lives. There are times when each one of us wishes to read other people’s minds. The sisters’ minds were on this wall, right here.

In the background, from a small speaker, in a low, smooth voice, sings Jagjit Singh her father’s and her favorite shayari- Woh Kagaz Ki Kashti.

“It is an experience,” she had urged her parents who were both in their beds in the adjoining rooms when she had asked them to accompany her to her bedroom. “I want to give you The Experience.”

The Experience referred to something that she had, well, experienced just that evening. She’ll lose the lights and light up the red ones, she’ll set the temperature to an optimum, she’ll envelope her body up to her shoulders in a bedsheet, arms beside the body and play this song from the speaker. She’ll close her  eyes and let the song wash her over. She’ll inhale each beat, she’ll exhale each note, she’ll feel the music unravelling her, she’ll feel the words crawl up her skin. She’ll conjure images in her head, as each combination of words will make sense, second after she has registered them. She’ll let each chatoyant of every word that left his voice, enter her being and imprint permanently in her mind. Sometimes she will open her eyes and look at the shadows that the red lights will make in the room, and the music and the light will complement each other perfectly. She will think of songs that may make her feel the same way that she is feeling now. Her mind will produce a blank slate. That is when she will feel weightless.

Her parents were in the same position, eyes closed. She can feel the music weigh her eyes, and she knows that she’d be asleep soon. She pops her eyes open and looks at her parents’ resting bodies. And suddenly, she feels guilty.

In twenty three days, she would be leaving for college. For four years. For the first time, she’ll be away from them- away that she will never see them daily, away that she will not hassle with her mother over the quality of the food, away that she will not hug her father and kiss him goodnight, away that will not curse her sister for not having set the beds, away that her parents will not barge in on her before dawn and catch her on the phone. She felt guilty for leaving them with nothing after eighteen years of love and effort they put in for raising her; she felt guilty for leaving them empty handed. She felt guilty for having discovered The Experience so late that she won’t be able to compose a playlist of songs suitable for it. She felt guilty for receiving all the time. She felt guilty for taking so much from them. She felt guilty for having thought that she’d enjoy hostels, when the truth is that her heart would always be there, in this house, in this moment, when she is guilty and they are weightless.

Her parents were perfect. How can she ever have thought of leaving them, how could she have fought with them for something as stupid as a mobile phone? How could she have ever thought of living alone, embracing adulthood, when she still needed her mother to tell the doctor what was wrong whenever they visited one, for her? How could have she ever thought of doing laundry when she didn’t know how to operate a washing machine?

How could, how would she leave them? 

She looks at them. She wishes, suddenly, to be two once again, when her father came from the office, straight towards her for a hearty kiss, and her mother bathed her in a small bucket in the kitchen. She wishes to be two again, because she knows she’d have sixteen more years before she’d have to leave them.

Getting up from the floor, she goes and lies down between her parents, who are, both, fast asleep by now. She cuddle with her father, his arms around her. She extends her hands towards her mother, who holds them both between her own, warm palms, as Jagjit Singh sings in the background, “Voh kagaz ki kashti, voh baarish ka paani…”

*

Sorry for the long absence. Please check the Facebook page for details. You can follow TWPM on Instagram @theakankshavarma where I post lots, and regularly. Also follow at Twitter under @axavarma. Enjoy!