Friday, February 22, 2013

I've had a couple of not-so-great days reader, and have been reminded of my unhealthy tendency to brood. I tried everything to get out of my funk, from gallons of coffee, to strenuous exercise, to reading poetry, but nothing worked for long.

Today when I was driving back from work, I realised that I felt uncomfortably warm. That hasn't happened in months. I shrugged off my sweater while I waited for a signal to change. It was only symbolic: I had to put the sweater back on half an hour later, but I still take this to mean that spring is here. I also noticed marigolds blooming along the pavement, and they're either new, or I've been too lost these past few days to notice gaudy yellow flowers sprouting everywhere.

When I reached home I tried something I haven't done in a long time. I sang. Oh, I'm always humming and I frequently sing to my mirror with a deodorant canister as a mike, but today I dusted off my electronic tanpura, dug out my music notes, and pretended I was singing on a stage to a large and enraptured audience. Panda came to enquiringly sniff the tanpura and stayed to listen for a while.

I was pleased with my voice today. I began with the most basic exercises, singing them off the music textbook amma bought me when I was seven. It's a photocopied book, since prints of  Karnatic music textbooks weren't easily available in Delhi in 1995. In several places the print was either unclear or non-existent, so the blanks were filled in by me. My writing from back then is remarkably similar to how I write today. Large, impatient letters, in multicoloured ink. (What? I like colour. I think it brightens up the page.) I remember how eager I was back then to finish with this book and graduate to the good stuff: the varnams and the keerthanas that the more advanced students were singing. I have a deplorable sense of rhythm and because of it was made to repeat a lesson once: I didn't get the alankaras right and my teacher said she wouldn't start me on geethams until I did.

I did eventually nail them though, and I think I nailed them again today, as I blazed through them, high speed. Then I sang a geetham, a swarajathi, a varnam, a kriti and finally a thillana. I imagined the audience cheering my every vocal flourish. I threw everything I had into my performance, and then some. I waved my arms in vigorous expression, made dramatic faces, grunted praise when I executed a tricky gamakam, and eventually closed my eyes in ecstasy. When I finally opened them, Panda was gone, but I did feel much better. I nodded and smiled graciously for the thunderous applause, and then went to see about dinner.

Saturday, February 16, 2013


Panda just came in from his walk and shook raindrops all over me.

I was thinking about gaslighting today. The word is derived from the Ingrid Bergman movie Gaslight, in which her husband attempts to convince her that she is insane by altering little things around their house. However, when she notices, he insists that she is imagining it. Doesn't it seem sometimes like the whole world is gaslighting you? When the papers are filled with stories of rape and corruption and executions, and you can't hurl a brick out of your window without hitting a cynic? When you're made to feel as if any sort of idealism is foolish? But perhaps I'm being too dramatic. We don't discuss those things here. This is a place for poetry and music, dogs and books, joy and pain. Of course I have opinions: painstakingly wrought nascent ones about everything from feminism (I'm a feminist) to the death penalty (I'm against it). Maybe it is time to find a place for them.

I'm spending the eve of my twenty fifth birthday cleaning out the dog's ears. Then we'll argue, because he'll want to eat his earwax and I'll protest that he's being disgusting. He'll concede ungraciously by rolling on his back and pushing me away with his paws. And then we'll sit by the window and watch the rain together. It's a rum old world.