More baby lotion

I woke up feeling threatened and depressed. When I sat down to do breathing exercises, I thought what’s the point, what’s the point at all if through out the day I am living more in my imaginations than anywhere else. I felt weak and stupid and vulnerable. But because I nurture hope now and then, I dragged myself out for a jog but an hour later when I am sitting down and typing this, I have no memory of how the jog was or what I saw.

Stepped in for a cold shower, because that’s a thing now; cold in the morning, hot in the night, dabbed baby lotion all over my body because it helps me breathe, sat at my desk and found this:

… and now my day is already smiling down at me. I have so much to do.




In Mr. India, a 1987 Hindi movie, Mr. Gaitonde (Annu Kapoor) is a newspaper editor who is tortured to bits everyday by wrong numbers. When he is not coughing like a patient on his massive chair, he is yelling into the phone begging people on the other end to ‘Please try to understand my problem’.

This is because someone has called him to book tickets for a matinee show at Ruby Talkies and then within seconds, somebody else has called him to complain about a buffalo that has stopped giving milk. In between this string of madness, he has to deal with angry reporter Seema (Sridevi) who cannot file stories on time because she hates kids. This is a scene that defines my childhood and in many ways, my happy relationship with Bollywood movies.

This amusement had to remain hidden during my time in high school because everybody was humming Backstreet Boys and Westside and other boy bands, whose names I vowed to by-heart after a freakish episode involving slam books. Everybody in school was gaga for Enrique Iglesias. I had only just heard his name once, listened to ‘Escape’ twice, and knew that he had a mole and that it was the best. And that’s why I wrote his name under favourite singer in one of the many slam books. Two days later, a friend comes to me looking flustered, demanding to know ‘who the fuck this Henry. K is’?

In 1994, we had just moved to Shimoga and as we unpacked our box of audio and video cassettes, a familiar wave of hunger took over me. I fished out the two most important video cassettes of my life, harassed all the uncles to set up the VCR for me and sat on the black and white mosaic tiles to watch my movies. Soon, it became a tradition to inaugurate the first night at new homes with ‘Hum Hain Rahi Pyar ke’ and ‘Mr. India.’ Mother would constantly remind us of the pointlessness of watching movies for the 50th time, while we sat in rapt attention as though it was our first time watching these movies. On repeat we watched ‘Chameli Ki Shaadi’, ‘Satte Pe Satta’, ‘Amar Akbar Anthony’, and ‘Do Aur Do Paanch.’ We knew the lines by heart, knew what music would precede what dialogue and waited for our favourite scenes.

In Satte pe Satta, it was when Hema Malini comes home to find that her husband has 7 brothers. In Chameli Ki Shaadi, it was when Chameli tricks her parents and elopes with her lover. In Amar Akbar Anthony, it was Amitabh’s drunken conversation with himself. In Do Aur Do Paanch, it was Suresh and how nobody knows him.

When we began to irritably move things around our schedule just to be able to watch movies we have already watched, mother and father decided to keep cinema out of the house and ventured out to catch a movie every week secretly. My sister and I would rush to their bedroom soon after school just to make sure that they were there and not having a wild time somewhere, watching a movie.

Even so, mother was a bigger movie buff than anybody else and she bent the rules when she believed that sometimes really good movies can be watched twice. In Belgaum, she had us bunk our afternoon class to go watch ‘Kuch Kuch Hota Hai’ with her at Nartaki. It’s a theatre I still remember because it was the only theatre we went to, and also because at the entrance, it had two white figurines of women wearing nothing.

When we were making our way back from the theatre, we would desperately want to ask mother what she thought of the movie. Her opinion was profound. It somehow didn’t matter whether or not we liked it because she would always have something to say.

Bollywood probably always meant Shah Rukh Khan for me. I will blink twice and confess to you that I have never watched Sholay, but I will close my mouth and ‘haww’ if you have never watched DDLJ. I sold this movie to students once to make them see how cows in Western Europe are different from the cows in Eastern Europe or Basavangudi for that matter.

Slowly, watching Bollywood movies started to extend its boundaries to wanting to know more about these stars and somehow the only way I could get them involved in my life was by collecting their posters. This was banned at home and the only time I braved it, mother found my stash of collections and set fire to it. Years later, I would follow her footsteps and set fire to my journals because they weren’t safe and mother kept looking for them to read.

My father, the staunch Kannadiga has been a consistent Tamil cinema lover. Even though his affection comes from hating how much Sandalwood sucks, he watches on repeat some really old MGR movies. Simultaneously, he mourns the loss of all great Kannada actors and despises Upendra whose movies I love. His irritation hits nuanced levels when he sees some of the posters that bleed in red with titles like ‘Thriller Manja’ and ‘Deadly Soma’.

Today, I will still sit comfortably and watch Go Goa Gone or a Dabangg or any Akshay Kumar movie even though Tata Sky brings to me a host of other movies I have never watched. Years ago, in degree, I had a lot of Telugu speaking friends and soon I had watched and loved Happy Days, Magadheera, and all the Aryas. Now and then, I will watch a movie like Arundhati and want to write a whole piece about it. It’s just a want so after yawning a couple of times it goes away.


Two tabs are open right now. One of them says 10 tips to prevent pms naturally. My head is throbbing with a pain I know is going to get worse when the sun is fully up. Trucks are swaying past my house, dogs are barking their 5:00 am great barks and I am wondering what it would take to finally stop thinking and start living, or sleeping at least. How I wish I thought lesser of life and people, especially when I am jerked out of sleep at 4 in the morning and there is just but a moment’s time before I reach for that wretched phone and before I know it, there’s life and people and facebook and somehow I am left alone to make amends with the fact that sleep has eluded me forever that night. I am sorry, 4 in the morning is night, even 5, and 5:30 are night, not mornings. Idiot. A two wheeler just whistled by. My eyes are beginning to gather weight around them and this I know will pull me down for the rest of the day. I want to sleep now but can’t because waking up an hour later would be a pain and I would be more restless than ever. Nights that I can sleep, I wonder how I do it. Is my body calm and peaceful and arms listlessly cast aside, like they don’t care about my body anymore? Are they moving quietly with my breath? How many times do I change positions when I am asleep. How I wish I could sleep now.

Another year

What I liked most about teaching this year was that I probably learnt more than I taught, and wrote more than I did last year. I can’t say much about how much of my writing has changed or remained the same. But I did notice a big change in teaching. And I think it has a lot to do with the fact that throughout the year I was experimenting with my own reading. I brought to class whatever I was reading. I would read it and if I liked it or didn’t know whether I liked it, I would take it to class and get the students to tell me what they thought. I wondered if this would work because my rarely sane head kept messing with me.

There is this set definition I used to have of what a good hour spent in class is. I always thought that a good class would mean my ability to lecture non stop for 30 minutes followed by silence and then followed by a hysteria of questions. I have never once been able to do that. It took me 2 years to realise but I am finally here. This deal about taking to class what I have been reading kicks all asses. It’s the only thing that works for me, simply because it opens conversations between the students and me.

It’s not always a good conversation but we have things to talk about and disagree with. What also happens is that conversations seem to continue outside the class too, and more spiritedly. Even so there have been awkward silences within the classroom where we have both run out of things to say. Probably because beyond a point, I don’t know what to say about a text that I have enjoyed reading.

And  then there are other classes where none of this happens because I am still helping them settle into ‘Patriarchy is evil’. Minus this, one also has to deal with the burden of students disliking you and this is something I have grown more accustomed to than the canteen biryani in the past two years. Some will love, some will hate, some will not care. I continue to nourish wounded feelings when I see hate in their eyes but it’s still not big enough to hold me back. When I am clouded by their stoic faces, I only have to think about my table in the department and that huge ass window behind it, and my new found ease with reading to remember how happy I am.


It’s the thickness of a palm around mine that I sometimes think about.

How while crossing roads, width and length become one in the unmeasured grab of palm on waist.

The expanse of emptiness on the other side of bed because you two are rolled into one on this side.

How while sipping rum and iced tea, you want to be that one single bead of water that rolls off their temple and slides down their back and vanishes into a line you won’t touch in public.

How when you are curled up in a chair, your chair, you read a line, read it again and blush in its warmth and the envy it spits. You feel it in your belly button before you feel it in your chest. A sort of echo that proves that your time with the book is spent well and the big black book that sits next to it bears testimony to all those lines that drove you back and forth in madness, and in smiles so calm, you wonder why you ever think of hate and anger.

How you forget everything when you read, and when you sleep next to yourself with nothing but aches you have grown to nourish, and a gnawing weakness that you hope will last the morning after, you will keep it within you until it all comes out in vomit like this.