Saturday, June 29, 2013

London -- where I leave my heart & my money

We all have these places that feel like home even though you're not born there. For me, that's London. I do love the magic that is Paris, but London... that's where I feel the most alive.

I could never afford to live there; unless I had Jon Makinson's job I suppose. But the sheer love for history, the openness of the people, the plays, the shopping & the street markets & the sense of humour all comes together to ensure that this city is where its at.

I've never been able to actually take some time & see the city from a tourist-y angle; so this time that's exactly what I did! While I was still there for work; I managed to go on a bookstore tour around the major stores in London. I feel so humbled seeing where the book retail industry really began and where its almost ending...

I finally got some time to myself & the first thing I did was to go off to the Portobello street market near Notting Hill Gate. The beautiful vintage shops (authentic or not) make me go off throwing my money in people's faces! The Covent street market is another place I give my money away happily; not to forget the life-sapping Harrods! I also got to experience the British Museum & the British Library & of course their gift shops. A Pride & Prejudice bracelet is now my pride & joy. The changing of the guard left me unimpressed; but the Evensong at Westminster Abbey left me in tears. I have never been able to give full justice to the West End plays; but its good that I have something to look forward to I guess. Maybe next time I'll even be able to catch a show at the Royal Opera House?

I also LOVE the food in London, the Spanish, the Mexican, the pastas, Jamie Oliver, the soups, the English breakfasts, not to forget the amazing Chinese! Every meal is a chance for me to try a new explosion of flavour!

Don't neglect to observe the fact that all the other experiences cost money too. But I don't mind, because every part of London is special to me. Everything feels like a memory in the making. Every experience feels like a story that needs to be told. I want to take it all in; brand it on my memory. This ability to travel to my dream city once a year without paying for it feels like a dream that could disappear in a puff of smoke anyday. Till that day comes, I will have to work extra hard to lock away as many memories as possible. Memories that will help me get through lonely days in the future where my books just don't fit the bill.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Certain Chaos

An Ikea catalogue once asked me, "If nobody sees chaos, does it really exist?" and since there was no one who'd hear my answer, I thought I'd write about it here.

I live in a constant state of chaos & I enjoy it. It is caused by a combination of laziness, pack-rattiness & hoarding-ness that I'm loath to change anything about (note I already talked about the laziness.) And while the former statement is about the physical nature of things; I have noticed this about my mental state as well.

I tend to sit by & watch while my head accumulates piles of things that need to be done, things that need thinking about & even reactions that need to be made. This chaos builds up around me & just when the pile feels like its just about to keel over; that's when my survival instinct kicks in & saves my ass.

My sister says I can only work under deadlines. I think that is just an extension of this behaviour. I also don't think I'd be very good at being my own boss; because I'd never be able to push myself to be self motivated. This is also why I am not good at getting things done before they really really need to be. I also think that's why I am horrible at following healthy habits, even though being fat dooms me to a future where I am 'forever alone'.

But if it is my chaos & I accept its certainity; is it truly chaos anymore? Isn't it true after all, that the center is the calmest part of a storm?

So I am the eye of the hurricane, the mastermind of this giant vortex of chaos that consumes everything around me but leaves me virtually unscathed. What has it cost me? A chance at love, two relationships (which may have been doomed from the start) & my self confidence. What am I doing about it? As I write this, almost next to nothing.

But everytime I start thinking that I may be failing at life, I remember that I have this... that I'm writing again. That there is something I'm doing which I never used to do before. And that there will be a way I will be able to relive my past. And that makes me feel like atleast I've started to leave a mark out there in the world.

Chaos notwithstanding, I have been able to clear out my head & put forward my thoughts. Thoughts that have risen to the top of the clutter, worthy or not. I have been able to wring out the meaning out of the darkness & shine a thin, spidery line of light on them. For that, more than anything, I give thanks.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Travelling: the Oopsies & the Daisies

I'm back from a vacation and I feel like I need another one.

Isn't that always the case? I love my job, I would be very ungrateful if I didn't. There is however always the thrill of the unseen, the not-yet experienced that calls out to the nomad in us.

My mother brought this travelling bug alive in me. She is convinced that I have only lately started liking travelling because whenever she made plans for us to go gallivanting as a family, I'd never be too impressed. I have tried in vain to tell her that was mostly because she insisted on dragging me to religious shrines where I would either have to walk barefoot on hot stones or climb 1500 steps or go down wet caves just because it brought us closer to God.

I felt closer to God watching the sunrise in Muscat & seeing the first rain in Goa & listening to Vivaldi in the Sainte Chappelle in Paris. I even felt the hand of God when I magically got a spot directly in front of the Buckingham Palace gates to see the changing of the guard.

I have always felt the need to not sit around interspersed with the need to not do anything. So I vacillate between periods of intense activity & periods of intense nothingness. It's not a normal life or a healthy one; but it is my own & I rather like it.

But its not like I'm not travelling when I'm sitting still. I'm busy reading or watching TV -- two genuine interests of mine. I am as invested in some fictional characters as much as real people. I don't confuse the lines between the two though; not yet anyway.

That begs the question, am I really ever sitting still? The answer is no. I cannot ever just sit down & not do anything. There is just so much going on in the world and we have such less time here; who has the time to sit still? My friend once described my head as a big railway station with atleast 7 trains of thought pulling in & heading out at the same time.

I feel a strange sense of an out-of-body experience when I'm travelling, even if its for work. I feel my brain shifting into the take-advantage-of-every-moment gear; a gear which is usually absent in everyday life. I'm always looking around instead of staring at my phone, I prefer to walk instead of hailing a taxi & I love shopping so much. No wait, scratch the last one, I ALWAYS love shopping!

I do hate the uncertainities though, the things that invariably go wrong, the weather that turns cold & grey, the car that stops working, the museum shut for renovation. But then, there is always a chance & a hope of that one perfect little story coming out of the trip. The story that makes your friends nod their heads in understanding or make them throw back their heads with laughter.

There are so many stories to be told, so many places to be amazed by; but now that I have been to some of the places I always wanted to go to, I feel a curious sense on being satisfied & being very unsatisfied all at once. This must be the most common of human emotions -- the urge of wanting more while accepting you may have more than you deserve.

So while I don't believe I deserve all the amazing-ness life has given me... Please sir, may I have some more?