28 May, 2011

Kicking and Screaming


Once in a while, you chance upon a movie that makes you revisit what you said in a casual conversation a few days ago. It has a tagline which makes you think. "Anxiety loves company". It makes you laugh in empathy, it makes you remember why you like the word quirky. It also makes you slightly uncomfortable. And uncomfortable, I have to regretfully inform you, is always good.

Following the life of four friends who refuse to take decisions to move past their graduation and start life as 'adults', Kicking and Screaming is aptly named. The characters are gems. Jane and her (disgusting) habit of removing her retainer while talking. Chet who in in his tenth year of university studies and is still serving at the bar. Grover who can't deconstruct why Jane dumps him to study in Prague.  

"Oh, I've been to Prague. Well, I haven't been to Prague been to Prague, but I know that thing, that, "Stop shaving your armpits, read the Unbearable Lightness of Being, date a sculptor, now I know how bad American coffee is thing... "  
And without the proverbial 'plan' the four find themselves cruising along a dilemma: they can't muster the will to leave the university, they can't see themselves doing anything else. If my poor excuse at a review hasn't put you off completely, read this to persuade yourself to watch the movie. Oh did I say the Director was 25 years old when he made this? Seems someone hadn't lost direction after graduating! 
"What I used to able to pass off as a bad summer could now potentially turn into a bad life."

22 May, 2011

Ode To Walking

Now shall I walk
or shall I ride?
"Ride," Pleasure said:
"Walk," Joy replied.
~W.H. Davies

I don't know when I fell in love with walking. Perhaps it was in Mussoorie, when the Uttarakhand separatist agitation reached a feverish peak in 1994, shutting down schools and offices and forcefully thrusting upon us hours upon lazy hours of nothingness. Classes and exams were indefinitely halted, shops closed down, canned food was bought in alarming quantities: what an adventure for any 8 year old! We were prisoners in the verdant Queen of Hills and a picnic basket and hours of rambling seemed the perfect way to kill time. In those days of bruises and scratches, I'd convinced myself to believe that I was the sixth Famous Five, munching on puri aaloo instead of tinned sardines and lemonade, whistling to a dotted Dalmatian instead of Timmy and collecting wild flowers instead of solving mysteries. 

Or it could have been earlier. When Various Tentacles of The Family were covering distances, crossing rivers and climbing mountains, accumulating miles and genetically fortifying me. As Mussoorie let me leave her, teenage opened me to another kind of walking that was restricted to taking 'rounds'. Concentric steps traced along the boundary of the school ground, as we gossiped hand in hand, demystifying the latest rumours, worrying about the last test we messed up or the alarming dip in our tuck supplies. School girls. Warm Gwalior evenings. Coloured dupattas. Copious cacophony.  
Walking takes longer... than any other known form of locomotion except crawling.  Thus it stretches time and prolongs life.  Life is already too short to waste on speed.  ~Edward Abbey

When Delhi greeted me with its abusive pedestrian behaviour and unbelievable stench of piss, I balked, I retaliated. But what is a walker if she can't find a place to walk? And so piggybacking on the lack of money as a suitable excuse, M and I traced unbelievable patterns: Venky to Priya on a blistering summer afternoon to catch a movie we managed to miss. Habitat Centre to Lajpat Nagar, arriving late for a party we were hosting. Kailash Colony to South Ex. Janakpuri to Tilak Nagar. Ansal Plaza to Saket. Lodhi Colony to C.P. Hauz Khas to Humayun's Tomb. We discovered little triangles of green on the way with shrieking kids and overweight ladies. Dhobhis tucked away in hot furnace-like shacks began smiling at us in familiarity. We broke much loved chappals and started carrying water. We learnt that even the dogs looked rich in South Delhi.   
      
Me thinks that the moment my legs begin to move, my thoughts begin to flow.  ~Henry David Thoreau

But it took another round of the mountains to realise the therapeutic effects of walking. Trekking to remote villages, time and scenic beauty were the two resources I had in abundant supply. With a mellow breeze to clear the head, walking became my 'couch'. I could decode painful memories with clinical clarity. I could make uncomfortable choices without an audience to proclaim its judgement. I could pick a fern en route and marvel at circinate vernation for as long as I wanted. I could sing aloud and hear how horrendous I sounded echo back in pity. I could chew on my thoughts and a blade of grass with equal ease. I could follow errant ideas as they trapezed around my mind. I could clutter and clear, I could confuse and create.    

There is nothing like walking to get the feel of a country. A fine landscape is like a piece of music; it must be taken at the right tempo. Even a bicycle goes too fast. ~ Paul Mowrer

And now, as a gentle reward for my tenacity to tread, I find myself in pedestrian paradise. I can skip along paths without worrying about seeing plastic, I can actually trust signboards, I can walk and not be looked upon as an aberration. And somewhere along the journey, I have reaffirmed my belief in the superiority of solitary walking. That and a good play list. I have acknowledged that finding a good partner to walk with is almost as good. I have discovered nuances within me, how I don't like to meander, how I cannot decide which I prefer: silence or conversation, how I want to smell every flower and how the night sky is an enthralling backdrop.  

15 May, 2011

There She Goes

The Girl Who Walks Everywhere
The Girl Who Writes Everything. 

The Girl Who Loves Every Dog
The Girl Who Forgot How to Sing.

The Girl Who Says No Too Often
The Girl Who Dreams Every Night.

The Girl Who Loves Muffins
The Girl With the Questionable Height.

The Girl Who Devours Books
The Girl Who Will Write You a Letter.

The Girl With Coloured Pens
The Girl Who Won't Know How to Make You Better.

The Girl Who Knows How to Listen
The Girl With the Yellow Flowers.

The Girl Who Will Let You Be
The Girl Who Came From Mars.

The Girl Who Loves the Sun
The Girl Who Lives On a Postcard.

The Girl Who Will Always Be a Daughter 
The Girl Who Will Make it Hard.

The Girl With the Post-it Notes
The Girl With a Coffee Mug.

The Girl With a Silly Streak. 
The Girl Who Will Give You That Hug. 

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