3 Aug

One of my neighbours is very kind and feeds me frequently. She has taken on the duty of care towards me since I live alone for most of the year.

(Related but tangential questions- a) why do so many people react with surprise and astonishment when I mention I stay alone, as if that is something to be surprised and astonished by at my stage of life. For the record, I’m almost 32, b) Why is the next question almost always ‘but how do you pass time’? Followed almost immediately by ‘what about food’? and c) when visitors who are not friends come home they express verbal shock at the fact that I have not turned the flat into a pig sty. ‘Besh gochhano toh…’. Again, I am 32. I have had more than twelve years to acquire the skills of basic jhadoo pochha, cooking to feed myself and others, and possess an aesthetic sense that I like to translate into my surroundings. And how do I pass time? Most wonderfully, thanks.)

So yes, the duty of care undertaken by my kind neighbour towards me. That notion of care is kind but broad- it includes my physical and moral well-being. There will be home-cooked dishes and the occasional awkward (because she IS kind and not mean-spirited) phone call home to my parents to establish whether they know I’ve been away at night, or to let them know that SHE will be away for a few days so would my parents prefer I moved to a relative’s home for that period…)

***

A friend of mine has excellent luck. He has won iPhones and other expensive gadgets and even trips multiple times through those lucky draw type of things. I don’t usually ever have such luck. Howevs, I recently participated in a fake news related NYU research study by answering an online questionnaire, via facebook. I might have recklessly surrendered vital private information to Big Data Brother- my political views, my demographic profile (can individuals have demographic profiles?), my email address- BUT I WON I WON I WON. An Amazon voucher for 1500 bucks, which is riches to unemployed me. Perhaps I should begin to invest in lottery tickets…

***

A different friend and I went to see Lion King in 3D today. The popcorn cost as much as the ticket (200/- +) and if I’d taken the smallest fountain drink (200/-) I would have paid double for my refreshments. I wish Rahul Bose tweets about this atrocity next.

I mostly went for the Timon and Pumba scenes, and the a-weema-weh song. Visually I found the earlier animation more attractive, though the 3D really brought to life the scenes featuring fireflies and stars. I love fireflies and stars. This time around I found myself feeling oppressed by the circle of life philosophy, and the notion of having to fulfil a destiny that is traditional. Mufassa’s pride would totally be returning Conservative MPs (to the UK Parliament. And Republicans to the Umrikan Senate.). I’m with Scar- he shouldn’t have to follow orders by his nephew King. Down with the Monarchy! Aye to wot Dennis said.

ARTHUR: I am your king!
WOMAN: Well, I didn’t vote for you.
ARTHUR: You don’t vote for kings.
WOMAN: Well, ‘ow did you become king then?
ARTHUR: The Lady of the Lake, [angels sing] her arm clad in the purest shimmering samite, held aloft Excalibur from the bosom of the water signifying by Divine Providence that I, Arthur, was to carry Excalibur. [singing stops] That is why I am your king!
DENNIS: Listen — strange women lying in ponds distributing swords is no basis for a system of government. Supreme executive power derives from a mandate from the masses, not from some farcical aquatic ceremony.
ARTHUR: Be quiet!
DENNIS: Well you can’t expect to wield supreme executive power just ’cause some watery tart threw a sword at you!
ARTHUR: Shut up!
DENNIS: I mean, if I went around sayin’ I was an empereror just because some moistened bink had lobbed a scimitar at me they’d put me away!
ARTHUR: Shut up! Will you shut up!
DENNIS: Ah, now we see the violence inherent in the system.
ARTHUR: Shut up!
DENNIS: Oh! Come and see the violence inherent in the system! HELP! HELP! I’m being repressed!
ARTHUR: Bloody peasant!
DENNIS: Oh, what a give away. Did you here that, did you here that, eh?…. That’s what I’m on about — did you see him repressing me, you saw it didn’t you?

***

Yesterday I watched a lot of movies, mostly on Prime. It struck me that I’d never looked up a faith based movies online. Infact, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a faith based movie that is meant to affirm faith rather than point out the cracks in the system, so to speak. The latter are important, but so are the former, especially for those who aim to anchor their lives to God.

The visual medium can powerfully imprint itself into your brain. When I watched ‘Death in the Gunj’ for instance, it left me deeply disturbed for over a week. It was and is so easy to identify with the fragility of mental health, of what holds us together internally, emotionally, psychologically. I want the right to be similarly uplifted for over a week by a movie that explores the even greater reality of what holds us together spiritually, mentally, emotionally, physically. What is it about us moderns that struggles to intelligently create spiritual art?

As I was watching ‘The Shack’ I was thinking about this. If I were to undertake such a challenge, how would I do it? Would the pursuit of such an endeavour bring me closer to voicing my truth in public?

What is interesting about ‘The Shack’ is that it was mostly panned by critics but grossed a whopping USD 96 million worldwide. Clearly the critics and the viewers of the film were coming at it from different angles. If I were to critique it like I was trained to as a student of literature, I would pan it too. It is telling rather than showing, and makes things far too literal and simple. But as a lover of God, I appreciate those very aspects of the film. The acting is good and simple reminders of Truth and Goodness are more profound and meaningful than the most complex telling of a tale that an intellectual mind can undertake. And no, that is not the same as asking people to leave their brains at home.

 

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30 Jul

The more I research and survey, the more confused I seem to get.

Should I take a chance and wait to see if the Nokia 5.2 releases before the family comes to Kolkata? (They’ll be buying the phone from Delhi, at a shop that gives us freebies and really good prices). I’m not fully sure it will be in the sub-10K category, but it will for sure have three rear cameras.

Nokia 3.2, which is a May 2019 release, looked and felt great to me as I handled the live demo version today, and the shutter was super-fast. I love superfast shutter speed- I have repeat nightmares where I’m trying to taking a photo and the damn shutter takes too long to release and I miss the shot. I also like that the screen is wider than what is apparently cool these days. However, performance reviews are not great.

Nokia 4.2, a February (?) 2019 release, has two rear cameras, an octa-core processor (3.2 is quad-core), and it seems logical to choose it over the 3.2 which has a single rear camera. However, the screen is too narrow for me. And though the live demo version I handled today didn’t seem to have shutter-lag, multiple reviews online are flagging this as an issue.

Nokia 5.1 plus, an October 2018 release, has better cameras specs for the two rear cameras in comparison with the 4.2, and much better reviews in terms of performance. It also has the useless bothie feature which, however, I am illogically kicked about. A downside is the lack of Zeiss optics, which the 4.2 has. A bigger downside is the hybrid SIM slot. I have stable and full lives in two cities that began before SIM portability and zero roaming charges existed. Therefore I have 2 SIM cards that I need to maintain at all times. Will the internal 32/64GB be enough several years down the line?

On the plus side, the Asus Zenphone Max Pro M2 and the LG W30 have been eliminated from the pool of options for a) being seemingly only available online, and therefore offering no live demo versions that can be handled, and b) for LG W30 having very few reviews, and poor ones at that.

 

27 Jul

Since those two seriously magical pink dawns I’ve been waking up between 4.30AM and 5AM because dayum I want to see it again! No luck so far, light has been bland. And what is more, every day dawn breaks later and later.

The freelance work has dried up and so far I have not had any luck on the gigs I’ve applied to on job portals. Initially that was frustrating, but I’m resolved to be patient now. I can only apply (for part-time freelance gigs, nothing fulltime until this beautiful beast of a thesis is written), I can’t control the outcome. Damn though! Some people are advertising jobs that pay 25 paisa a word or even worse. And interested people are down-bidding each other on sites like freelancer.com. Increased respect for freelancers I’m developing; this market isn’t easy.

A dear friend and I are in the process of launching a platform for creatives. She is, in fact, my oldest friend and a seriously talented, nay, seriously multi-talented artist. The idea is to bring creatives together on a platform where they can reach out for collaborations, partnerships, conversations, anything. It will hopefully also provide an encouraging and safe space for exploration by those who wish to create but lack the confidence to do so. The project is my friend’s baby and I am very pleased she invited me onboard. I’m excited, have plans for it, and she hopes it will make money eventually. Fingers crossed.

Yesterday I had a good day at work almost for the first time in July. I forced myself to the library, hoping it would push me out of the ‘valley of shit’ that I’d fallen into again with the thesis. (Thesis,dissertation…I still don’t know the exact difference.) The library is still under renovation, and the ceilings are bereft of fans in some places. Exhibit A:

WP_20190726_13_45_17_Pro

 

After a few hours I shifted to the research scholars room and got some work out of the way. I’m out of money, and need to be out of the home for a while until I get my discipline back, so I’m building a work out of reading rooms habit now. Today I went to collect a library membership form from the Ramakrishna Mission Institute of Culture at Golpark.  They have a nice reading room, it’s open till 8PM and open on Saturdays. The process of membership is slightly cumbersome, but fine, ok.

This is my second attempt at becoming a member. The first time was during my MPhil when I went there only to encounter the closed access system for the first time in my life (you cannot physically browse the stacks). That, and the fact that the form requires you to identify yourself against a male authority only-husband’s name, father’s name etc (I’ve stopped putting in father’s name in forms. I love my father, but dislike my identity being derived from men, so I put in my mother’s details everywhere) meant that I walked out of there fast. Circumstances change, and now I’m more willing to pick my battles, so I’ll be giving this a shot. Good for my ego to not get what it wants every now and then, too 🙂

I need to buy a new phone and I’ve finally made my peace with it. It is maddening how wasteful technology can be. There is no need for tech to not match step with hardware! My Lumia 535 continues to be fast, doesn’t hang, has no lag, even the battery is doing ok. I only have to switch because one by one apps are withdrawing support. Instagram was the first to go (though it allows you to post from your phone browser now), and now whatsapp has become one way-I can receive messages but not send. Windows itself is withdrawing support at the end of the year. I’ve railed against this before, with my Inspiron 1525 Windows Vista Home Premium machine. It still runs really well, but there is no browser support anymore.

For a while I was willing to jump onto the Redmi bandwagon and acquire a Redmi 7 which is being advertised everywhere. Well, not me, I’m broke, my brother is kindly sponsoring my phone. But then I bit the bullet and dug into the internet for some research. And it turns out the Redmi UI churns out ads? No thunks. Next please. I still have to do some market research but I’m leaning towards a stock Android system. Which, in the under 10K category, means I have a lot of Nokia options to look at.

The hard landing on Android will be softened by the Windows Launcher option. I had no idea such a thing existed until last night. The Windows UI was truly good design and if I can have some of that on the Android I’m sure I’ll complain a whole lot less. Though who’d even listen to me, with the more important shit going down in our country right now?

Also, since I’m feeling chatty, last month this (Exhibit B)-

WP_20190613_15_58_22_Pro (2)

 

-brought the Calcutta Bus vs Me score to 1-0. If you break the skin, you need a tetanus shot, that’s the mantra I grew up with. Having a severe phobia of needles, I spent almost 48 hours debating the likelihood of actually catching tetanus and dying of lockjaw from a stupid bus seat. Deciding, in the end, that I ought not to risk it, you know, what with the unfinished thesis and everything, I made moves to find an injection giver only to realise that the window is not 48 hours but 24. That led to a solo emergency room visit, and having to do the full tetanus course, i.e. two injections a month apart. In the end, it was actually a good experience. I’m not over my queasiness with regard to needles, but upper arm injections are ok.

I’m at a dark and dingy café today (bad idea) because it was closest to where I was after a frustrating failed-errand-running afternoon. A friend will be joining me for a bit. Before that I must finish the section I’ve been working on since May.

Laters, folkx.

24 Jul

When the sky

Was pink at dawn

 

And I

Asleep in bed

Struggling with my mind and life

Woke to it.

 

Rose-gold glow

-Oh! Pure Beauty!-

Dashed across the Monsoon sky

 

Like God Himself

Wanted to intervene

And reset me with this Sight.

 

7 Jul

Today is freelance overload and deadline day, and I’m so friggin sleepy that it is 1602 hrs and I have yet to proofread one page. One cup of cappuccino and a cup of Earl Grey seem to have made me hyper without in the least awakening my brain and focus. Ugh and gugh.

I’m giving myself an hour and a half to finish these seven pages before taking in a short walk, heading home, briefly upending myself into a chakrasana (generates energy) and sitting down to part deux, which today includes faffing up an MD’s message to go into a company’s annual report.

6 Jul

June was a wonderful month, looking back. I was on my own in Kolkata, enjoyed my freelance work and made much more than last month, made slow but steady progress on the first chapter of the dissertation, was more attuned spiritually and was able to make more effort at meditation, and began long evening walks on a beautiful route near my home (SO much more enjoyable than going round and round the walking track inside my housing complex!).

The same routine and flow might be more challenging this month- it has been so far. I went on an impromptu visit to Delhi, for my father’s birthday. No regrets, but it did interrupt the flow. And my mother came back with me to Kolkata, for some work. My being functions differently when I’m alone, and when I’m living with people at home. That’s simply a fact. An inconvenient fact, an ‘unkind fact’ even because it makes the people I’m living with feel unwanted, and unloved, I’m pretty certain. Sadly though, fact it is. I can’t change it. I need my cave for emotional health. I expand and fill space joyously, peacefully, freely, creatively when I’m fully alone. I contract around even loved ones.

The big change in July is not being alone, and I’m slightly panicking about how that will impact my work. The panic is compounded by the ticking clock; half the year is already over and I’m running severely behind my writing target.

The question facing me is: given external circumstances that I cannot change, how can I proceed with my work and make make good progress? How do I bind the triad of work, meditation and exercise into my days unshakably?

Let me hold onto that question fiercely inside, and seek for an answer that is provided by intuition.

Also, I came back from Delhi with  fabulous haircut from Delhi, from the stylist I’ve been trusting my hair to from 2007 (through several drastic style changes- from big hair to the first ever layered cut that actually looked great on me, going from waist length hair to a pixie, from butt-length hair to another pixie, from clean shaven to another shaped pixie to-eventually-an assymmetrical bob, amongst others). This time I’ve chosen a clean look that is high on style, and ‘feminine’. A family friend remarked on how I’m looking like a girl now and not a tomboy, for a change. As I politely received that comment (I’m growing up! \m/), mentally vomiting at the use of ‘tomboy’, I realised how I’ve been so protected by the Universe right up to my late twenties. Hell, even now, given that the average 30+ single female is subjected to a whole lot more by way of social judgement and comments to the face. I’ve been able to freely express myself through some outrageous clothing choices, hair cuts, music loves without the weight of others comments. The absence of comments that intentionally or unintentionally cut down a highly sensitive person is so much more enabling that having to develop resilience against them. Because resilience of this sort is super tough for highly sensitive people.

Not Dunder Mifflin Paper Company but still…

21 Jun

I just realised I’m proof-reading a section for an annual report for

*drumroll*

a paper company.

Sweet.