Lonely Tunes

My bestie recently asked me what was the one thing that I absolutely hated about my life in Riyadh, for I lived there while growing up for ten odd years. For a while, this question took me by surprise…people always assumed that I loved it out there and ended up asking me what I missed about that desert city.

I took a moment to think while fleeting images went past me – a sea of people in black and white (literally, for Saudi men wear a white, free flowing white gown-like attire and women wear Abhayas – the black cloth that bundles them up, covering them completely.

I thought about being away from my grandparents and missing them.

I thought about Riyadh’s oppressive heat, and the boring school life I was subject to… And then it hit me hard.

‘Loneliness’, I replied.

Not having friends of my age in the society I lived in, being at a mentally stimulating age and not having someone to share conversations or games with, not being very rich so as to afford novels and books often, it tore me apart, little by little.

It’s not like I didn’t have friends – school was great when we had lunch hour or free period. But once the clock struck 1.30, that was goodbye to your friends, unless you wanted to chit chat over long calls (which again wasn’t very welcomed by the folks).

I had a few Kannadiga friends that I looked forward to meeting, but that was usually once or twice a month and fun while it lasted.

On a daily basis, I whiled away time with imaginary characters, played stupid and cute games with my baby brother, and kept wishing for some adventure. I was introduced to comics a little late, for I consider 3rd grade pretty late. I took to reading Tinkle comics, Champak I used to loathe, but reading anything felt like a good time pass.. I graduated to Archies, and thanks to my then best friend’s mother, who worked in our school, we got permission to borrow some books on a weekly basis. And then we ended up taking Noddy. What can I say, I missed the whole concept of libraries like hell.

Then I graduated to reading Women’s Era magazines because they would inevitably be at home and I just needed to read something, anything! To be honest, I read quite a few controversial things that made for a good laugh but loneliness – you can’t put a name or describe the feeling… these things persist.

I thought things would be great upon leaving Saudi, and returning to India… That I’d be able to meet and host friends who are quite like me and whose ideas would entice and encourage us to be great. Unfortunately for me, no such thing happened. Reality was that, I was seen as more of an outcast because of my earlier background and I didn’t belong to their groups…

It’s hard being lonely and it’s enough to push you into depression. I know that now but then, I tried to desperately fit in, dumb down, act bitchy and mean to be accepted, found one friend, who happened to be a guy, and you can imagine how that would turn out for a teen?

Ugh. Life sucked. In the end, I cared a damn and gave up on everyone that I was trying to befriend. I cut them out of my life the moment school ended and haven’t regretted my decision since.

I grew friends after that.. When I stopped trying, and I just was. I’m an introvert, so I still have a small circle but that’s completely fine with me. I do wish sometime that I’d be more outgoing and befriend more people.. I talk and meet people, but I think genuine connection is so rare.

But I cannot be more grateful to the people who are in my life.. I’m really happy to have friends who are smart, motivated, dedicated and wholly good people with a good heart. We question our friendship sometimes and then I realise, despite everything that that are, they’re mine.

That’s really all you sometimes need.

Cheers!

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Of Slam books and Slammed People

You know when you’re cleaning old closets and drawers and you chance upon some treasures that you want to bury yourself in but can’t, cause life?

Well, today is that day for me.

A day to reminisce and contemplate – read out entries of fascinating glories and conquests that I recorded in my journals long ago, to take a moment to laugh about the hysterics I attempted, or wallow in the dejections I faced. Choices are aplenty.

I discovered my Slam Book from 12th standard; it’s almost 8 years ago. (No, thank you for asking, but I do not feel old yet!)

What’s interesting is that all the people who took time out to write me a few words of affection are just the guys who are pretty much out of my life, at this stage. Except for one exception, who’s always been and will always be a dear friend.

I see entries such as these:

It saddens me that we’re continents apart and rarely ever talk. So much has happened… We’re different people now than we used to be and we let differences creep in when they shouldn’t have.

Here’s another entry:

This cutie is a Mommy now, and she’s going to be starting post grad studies soon. She’s come a long way and I’m happy for where she’s headed.

This is one from an acquaintance:

I’m glad to have been that person who’s always smiling and I will continue to be that. It’s just the easiest thing to do and makes everyone around feel better about their day, doesn’t it?

This one is from a dear friend, who’s pretty much a cheerful ghost to me now. I like to think that somewhere along the way, between teaching some kids and doing the strangest comedy in life, he may just be look at this blog post and go- Aww, Thunk! (You see, that was my nickname back in the days!)

Udox, my homie, if you’re reading this, I still think you’re a pain in the ass, but a good one at that. Keep rocking and drop a text when you’re in town? I’d like to chill and grab a cuppa with you!

Here’s for the last entry, the one I consider best, simply for the effort that was taken in filling it with random crap!

I’ve got to admit, it takes talent to write 7 pages of bullshit. So this guy actually befriended me because mister had a Huuuuggeeeeeeee crush on my bestie. What can I say, I guess being a wingman is one of my weaknesses! 😉

First Crush(ed)

Take a few minutes off to re-live those awkward teem memories?

I remember it as clearly as it happened. I had just finished the captain duties after school. It was a major rule in our institution that all the kids were to form a straight line (I know it’s redundant in itself but some Indianisms really get me pumped) as they exited their classrooms and walked down multiple corridors to the gate beyond. I loathed a lot of things about this  particular school and this rule often left me feeling caged. Come to think of it – the last bell of school heralds a promise of unspoken excitement and things are meant to get crazy with everyone jostling, trying to get out of the institution first. It is an indication that they survived another day with our education system after all! Although I hated them, at this point of life, I can sympathize with some of the rules – they were probably put in place to ensure that no stampedes occurred.

As I walked back to class, to wrap my bags and head to Abacus lessons (Yes, I’d chosen to enrich my brain with the mental prowess of Abacus) I met my friend  Zit (That’s the closest I can get to not revealing his name. It also helps that all girls find zits annoying. Pun intended). I must tell you beforehand that I’d studied my entire life (until 7th std) in a girls school and in this school, I had but a few guy friends.

Zit seemed to be in a perturbed mood. I thought I’d talk to him and figure out why was he so morose? Which girl had he fallen for so suddenly that he couldn’t smile and just be?

He refused to answer to my insistent queries and just smirked and sulked away. I packed my bags and went up to him, ‘Come on! You can tell me, you know? I’ll keep it a secret.’

‘Who’s the lucky one?’, I ventured. Feeling a little cheesy and trying to be the cool girl best friend they often show you in Hollywood movies.

Little did I expect the reply, ‘You!’.

I was momentarily stunned and laughed it out. ‘You can’t be serious. Come on now, take the suspense off.’

‘No, I’m serious. It’s you’, he persisted. Now the wind just knocked out of me. It’s one thing to pull your friends’ legs and another when you’re going to find yourself in a similar situation. I went to abacus class in a stony silence and my mind was in a tizzy. Was I to feel elated that someone thought me crush-worthy? Or was I to feel bad and angry that a ‘good friend’ had just made things super awkward?

All my teenage fancies and wishful thinking about the situation came to the right conclusion when after abacus Zit met me and said, ‘I’ve got a gift for you’ and he proceeded to take a wrapped item that looked ridiculously like a book. It was a weird feeling then, I was left wondering whether people began dating when gifts were exchanged? Was it just the girl who got the gift? How do things like these work really? I was tempted to take the book. (The surprise was killing me too. Would he just lend it to me so I could read it later on?)  I denied the book and told him I’d err really ike to go home for now.

Life has a way of giving you answers when you really need them and that’s what happened.

Any semblance of romance that I’d gathered in the last few moments went out of the door as soon as I walked out of school to see Zit’s friends hovering about; cycling, playing, kicking stones and basically just waiting to hear from the brave one.

‘Did she say yes, macha?’

And that was that!

 

Thoughts…

You remember those pretend games that you played in childhood? Building forts made out of sheets, cushions, empty boxes and myriad shades of your mom’s dupattas and sarees? At some point in time, every one of us usually has played such games where you pretend you’re living in a small universe of your own, a cocoon in the seeming vastness of your home.

Who said they were restricted to childhood? Look around you and you’ll still see walls, albeit they are invisible. Everybody has walls. Some may admit it and some won’t but they are usually there, lurking in a strange anticipation of forbearance – one wrong move from your side and they’ll slide back in place faster than you can say walls.

Why do we have walls?

I’m no expert on psychology and I probably have the worst clairvoyance when it comes to predicting people. Can say that with some experience – the people whom I thought I’d never get along at first meeting, are the ones who’ve become imperative to my survival. Of course, at the end of the day you’re all alone but then there are fleeting seconds when these people, they just make your day. They make you feel so genuinely alive – it’s a marvellous feeling what people bring on in each other.

Oh, walls. Basically, they are to protect the tender hearts from the harsh existence of reality.

As I type this, I’m sitting in my own fort – obscured from plenty of prying eyes, I’ve converted my balcony into a mini fort. It feels pretty amazing and I can hear loud music with great tempo – too bad the grounds are so dusty. I nearly sneezed a large furball of dust after having temporarily jumped to the DJ’s tune. I realised that I was not able to capitalise on the moment wholly. Hey, to think about it, during the crappy engineering days when we had those weird holidays called fests (True to its name, Swayam was only attended by swayam us college dwellers, nobody else bothered to travel to this derelict location in the outskirts of Bangalore, a mile away from the jewel of the city – the first famous IT Park of Bangalore), there was a barricade placed to allow either of the genders to dance on either sides. Right, so much for living in the modern world.

I’ve often wondered whether under normal circumstance as you are overtaken by thoughts that may not seem related, would there ever be a period of blank? Yes, meditation seems to be the perfect answer to this. But I’m not looking to consciously streamline them. Let your thoughts flow and you will realise that everything eventually connects and you’re off leagues away from the inception. Yes, now you understand the randomness of this post?