Melancholy

There are various definitions for this word. Psychology actually calls it a mental condition. But after having studied psychology for three years and knowing for sure that the mind is really vast and confusing and cannot be put into a book, the definition I like of this word is ‘A deep, pensive, and long-lasting sadness’.

But mostly, I like to figure out when this thing sets in and why. This area of ‘blahness’ that makes you blase towards everything and everyone.

I woke up from a not-so-refreshing afternoon nap to a phone call that was not particularly reassuring. Already sick of the heat and the struggle to find a cooler place to sleep, the call pretty much disgruntled me. Or it might just be the fact that it reminded me that I have a lot of chores pending yet and haven’t gotten around to doing anything at all yet.

The search for that something elusive is on – and this time it is for the perfect photo.

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Generally…

I’ve started various blog posts in the past few days but have abandoned them midway. The attempt to write a full-fledged post is proving harder and harder these days. It is all these distractions… working out of home (though I”m rarely at home) is tough. There are people walking in and out of your room, even if you try to barricade yourselves in.

It makes me wonder we spent about 9 hours a day in front of the computer at work and got super bored, but you sit here for 4 straight hours, and work for all those hours and yet barely half of what needs to be done is finished.

Anyway, so I did manage to catch up on my reading today… some of it at least. How on earth are you expected to keep on top of all the news?

Highlights of the news from my week:

Being the only sober person in a drunk room is not fun. I’ve never been much of a party soul, though many who claim to know me will say I’m a hard-core party person. But now that partying is my job, it puts an interesting perspective. Well, partying isn’t my job. My job is to take photos for the people who are the party. Do you know how much courage it takes for one to walk up to someone and ask if you can take their photo? When the rest of the world is there to get drunk and hook up with someone, I’m there working. Women are wearing short skirts and high heels and tons of make up. Men are… well, men. Everyone is clinging to one another at the end of the night.

But through a camera, you see things that you fail to notice when you are a part of the crowd. Women who are nursing painful feet on the dance floor. Women who take off their shoes cuz it hurts so bad. Men who are shadily shooting women dancing on their cellphones. Couples believing they are private in a roomful of people. Some dancing without reservations and some mimicking others moves so they don’t seem awkward. And through it all, guys who believe you want to talk to them.

I never ask just guys for a photo. A woman does manage to keep a guy in check generally. But once in a while, even if I am not shooting the guys, they get the courage to come up and talk to me. Or flirt. It is easy to walk away mostly… but sometimes they get clingy. Or use the camera as an excuse to strike up a conversation. My ‘sleaze’ radar has gone on the blink and it marks everyone as ‘bad’ permanently in a club. It is like Groucho Marx said – I don’t care to belong to any club that will have me as a member. Except, I tweak it to “I don’t care to date any guy who hits me on in a club while I’m working.”

***

Movies… I want to watch cutesy, silly comedies but there suddenly seems to be a dearth of such movies. There was something called “Wedding Daze” on TV a few days ago… the first half was fun and the second half went so overboard that it completely ruined the movie. There is a list of movies I’ve been wanting to watch – 127 Hours, Black Swan, No Strings Attached.

And maybe throw in a couple of horror movies in there. But thanks to my erratic schedules and my friend’s busy schedules, it is getting really hard to find someone to go to a movie with. Least, someone whom I enjoy hanging out with.

***

Valentine’s Day

In a way, I’m glad it is V-Day because it means I would no longer have to put up with pink hearts and couples menus at every single place I go to. There were some interesting status messages on FB today among all the syrupy ones. “V-Day – for people too lazy to express their love during the rest of the year.”

Or for those who are too cheap to buy gifts for the rest of the year.

Personally, I wouldn’t care about V-Day. I would rather have a guy who would buy me non-occasion flowers and gifts because that is a lot more important and nice. But somehow, everyone is in this groove and everyone wants gifts and people to buy them flowers and stuff and go out and ‘be special’.

And that ‘peer pressure’ makes the rest of us annoyed. I was buying a new top for myself and the store manager asks “For V-Day” and i’m like ‘Ummmm NO! There is a sale and i need a t-shirt!”

I buy a bracelet and they go “oh your boyfriend will like it” and i’m thinking “why can’t I buy something for myself so I can look pretty.”

V-Day – pain in the ass, if you are a couple or not.

Stage 2

Here is the thing.

As we become adults we are expected to follow a particular career path. Meet certain people, do certain things and generally, tread the worn path.

In between, if you want to change directions, it is sort of like trying to reverse in the middle of the day on a really busy road. Everyone starts honking at you and there is a bit of a panicky feeling as you try to push your car into the right gear to get moving. But there is a process in that – you need to press the clutch, move the gear into reverse and slowly, without stalling, move back and repeat the whole process again to get moving. During this time, everyone starts honking, regardless of if they are affected or not.

And if you are weak-hearted, maybe you just say screw it and go the normal way, hoping there is a U-turn somewhere up ahead or an easier spot. But what we forget is that there is never an easy spot or a place to turn around because it is peak hour traffic. It is now or never, every single moment of the day.

Right now, this is what I’m trying to do… change directions. I’m not sure which direction I want to pick in particular – reverse, right turn, left turn… it is all up in the air. But I want to try a different road.

And the honking is freaking the shit out of me.

A while ago, I wrote a post ‘Why Photography’. Today, I had to go back and read that post because it is an incredible feeling of amnesia that I am facing.

Here’s a short history of recent times.

I quit my job. It was a combination of accidents and I figured it was as good a time to get out and start doing something for myself. I have always wanted to experiment with photography for a while, and I figured this was a good time to start doing that.

But what I didn’t count on was the lack of savings (or almost) and the lack of a plan, and people giving me openings for other jobs. As God is a slightly contradictory person sometimes, I even got these jobs that I had applied for. And these jobs would’ve been the ideal, the perfect thing for me about a year ago. But since then, much has changed and I am not sure if I have the patience for those dreams anymore.

Dreams change.

But it is human nature not to be able to let go that easily. The lure of good money, a good company and a good place is incredibly hard to let go. I actually stayed up at night, wondering if I should really take up this job. And then I would look at my camera and how alive I felt when I was shooting a recent event. And figured, nope, I want to give photography a chance.

The question remains – how long is a ‘chance’. A week? A month? A year? And if it does not work out, what then?

The answer is also – that is a risk you have to take. (I can argue both sides of the argument really well, and I feel like putting a bullet to my head).

I’m trying hard to come up with answers to various questions – such as why photography, what is the future, what I do really want to be and trying to keep the images from the former dreams out of my mind.

Kevin Carter has been an incredible inspiration to my photography. His one single photograph of the child and the vulture touched my immensely and I strive to take such photos. Much of my photography leans towards the dark and I try to pull it towards the light when I see images of others – the bright, ethereal images that are photoshopped to an extent.

But to be Carter, I would need to be involved with news again. Hard news. Which I want to. Just not right now. I have pick to the road to travel on RIGHT NOW. And I don’t have the answers to all the questions. And I know that I will perhaps never have all those answers.

Wait… let’s start over again.

Why photography? What is the future? What do I want to be? What do I want to do?

I want to take photos. Of people. Of moments. Of places. In a nice way. I am just beginning to explore my photographic horizons in a serious manner and I have no idea about my style, idealogy or anything else. Yet. I like taking photographs and I would like to be paid for it. I’m sure that isn’t an intellectual answer but that is all I have right now.

The future – is dark and invisible. I don’t know where I will be and what I want to do. I do know I want to travel. Capture Cambodia, Istanbul, Nepal, Budapest, Andamans, Nagaland and wherever else on film. I still want to be able to do weddings and all that.

What do I want to be? Here’s the problem. I know I can probably survive doing photography… earn enough to feed myself and all that. But I want to be the best. That thing hasn’t changed in me. I want to be the best in whatever I pick to do. And that’s where I wonder if I am good enough.

What do I want to do? Freelance… photography… write interesting articles and keep the variety alive. I would love to work for a magazine but that would restrict some of what I could write. True, freelancing restricts a lot of other things.

But maybe I should give it a shot, right? 3 months of what is supposed to be my life.

I do not have that many contacts in photography. I do not know where to start or how. But I’ll figure that out. I’ll write till I figure that out. 3 months is all I ask for from my life.

Perhaps this is a mistake. Perhaps I will regret it and hate it that I threw away all these jobs.  But that’s a story of later. Right now, the question is this – jump off the cliff or not.

 

2011

So it is finally 2011.

I have been waiting for 2010 to get over… simply because I wanted a new start and wanted that week long break to start figuring things again. But now that I am on the other side, it doesn’t quite feel like the other side, if you know what I mean. Perhaps because it is still a holiday and all that… it feels… not like I’ve crossed over yet.

Compared to 2009, 2010 was quite wonderful. But then, I go back to my post in the beginning of 2009 and I see that I wished for ‘an unremarkable year, rather than a sad one’ and that’s exactly what I got.

But by the time I entered 2010, I was quite willing for something to happen. I wanted it to be more interesting and that’s exactly what happened. I cannot remember another year that went by so fast in recent times. My brain is still stuck in the February/March area, or the July/August period… for those of you who have been reading me for so long, you know what went down then.

I quite liked 2010.

Now for 2011, I want the same level of interestingness but wish it is a little more in my favor. A little better.

Many of my friends are saying they are glad that year ended… that it sucked. Yes, there were ups and downs… but they were evenly balanced out. There were the good things and the bad things. And the balance makes you appreciate everything more.

So for 2011, I want more success, more love (the lasting kind) and basically, an upgraded version of 2010.

Here’s to hope, friends, family, drama, success and all that more.

Have a fantastic year!

And yes, resolutions… I might end up making some this year but I’m going to think them out. Because once done, I intend to stick to them.

 

Where can I find some optimism?

I struggle to find the optimism today morning. The day is bright and sunshine pours through the clouds, and the weather is perfect. But there is a darkness in my mind and a heaviness in my heart that sees only the traffic, the noise and the sticky dust.

I wonder where things suddenly changed from nights two days ago when a friend asked me “How I could remain so optimistic”

Were the gods of whim listening and decided to punish me for believing? For being happy? Or is this just another low point in the rollercoaster that life is?

I am annoyed at myself. At this pesky voice in my head that complains so much when I do have other things going. Optimism was something that came easy to me… but today morning, I struggle to find it. My head is constantly spinning, looking for myself and I try to tell it to stop but it refuses. I sit down for a minute but reach anxiously for my phone… I look blankly at the screen, opening the message box or the call log a million times but closing it without doing anything. There isn’t a name in my head I want to contact or a message in my mind that I want to type out. Yet, I continue to fiddle with it till another part of me wants to fling it far away.

I long for the silent voices in my head to shut up.

Why this restlessness when I had made peace with myself and the things that were merely a couple of days ago? What changed so drastically for these new questions to arise?

I am not questioning my actions… I’ve long learnt to accept that every action has a reaction and though it might not be what I am looking for, I live with it. There isn’t a way to fix it. The consequences of those actions sometimes… become apparent so much later that you wonder if there was anything to do then.

Is that it? The realisation of the consequences of my actions? I don’t have the answers any more and I am tired of the search today.

I want moments of silence or something that will shut up these voices.

 

The Weekend

There has been blogging silence for a while. Perhaps the lack of interesting topics to talk about or the reluctance to talk about things on this not-so-private platform.

Had a much relaxed and different Saturday night in a while… different in the sense it wasn’t my usual crowd and usual hang out spot. I graced the streets of the city centre after months, only to being hyperventilating a minute after stepping onto the main street.

I was all excited and eager to be there but in the joy, I had forgotten that it was Christmas and every mother’s son and daughter would be on the street ‘celebrating’ the day. But since i was already there, I figured the only way to really deal with it was Pink Floyd and plugged on my ipod and literally jumped into the crowd. It was a little like jumping into an ocean of black heads and backs. You cannot see anything beyond a step in front of you, and if you are lucky, beside you too. So you need to know where you want to go and plan accordingly and the crowd carries you till then.

The most surprising part was that people actually managed to walk in groups and not lose each other in the madness. Guys made use of the opportunity to cop a quick feel while others tried to get out of there as fast as possible.

Ironically, the other pavement was only half crowded. I don’t know what laws of the universe states that this side of the pavement has to be always crowded on this street. That’s how it has been as far as I can remember. Perhaps people just cross into the street and don’t want to cross over to the other pavement. I don’t know. But as I had to take a left, I walked with my head down and Pink Floyd wailing that we don’t need no education till someone literally yanked me into the corner and said “hey”

So we – a friend and me – stood at an intersection and talked, without really blocking anyone. That’s another way this place works… there are little nooks where you can stand and chat.

And because it was Christmas, there were piles of Santa hats being sold. The fashion of the season. Almost everyone was wearing one or was dressed in red. For once, I was glad that I was not wearing red…. I wore non-Christmas colours, I realised surprisingly. The cafes were crowded and even the staff wore Santa hats.

The marked difference between predominantly Christian countries and India is that during Christmas every shop does have a tree and a mistletoe and perhaps even Christmas special menu but the goodwill is absolutely missing. Of course, in the U.S. or elsewhere, most of these shops will be closed. But here, nobody wishes you “Merry Christmas” when you enter the shop or give you candy when you are walking out. That sort of marketing just has not entered the retail mindsets here.

The only place where we were wished was this old Chinaman who took our order at a restaurant. I found his courtesy and the way he spoke to us utterly charming. The food was mediocre and the ambiance, worse. But the man made up for all of it and more.

Shopping was… unsuccessful to say the least. When you have specific ideas like I do about what you are looking for, it is really hard to find in a city that is a season behind the top fashions and even then factory-produces the designs. And then prices them outrageously.

It is disappointing to find that my favorite shopping haunts are gone or have become outrageously priced. Since when did a simple long woolen top cost close to a grand in a non-branded, rip-off place. Commercial Street and such are Bangalore’s equivalent of Bombay’s Causeway or Linkin Road. But the thing is… the prices and the quality simply cannot measure up to Bombay. The retailers realise that people are willing to pay in Bangalore. So what would probably cost 500 in Bombay costs double here. Worse, my favorite shopping haunt – Tibet Market – which is run by these displaced Tibetans is now one of the most outpriced places in the city 😦

They had simple, clean fashions that fit me (important factor). The quality was the same as in the stores (who would mark up their goods by 50 percent – as a retailer friend tells me) so Tibet Market was where all us college kids headed for good bargains. Now, they are perhaps more expensive than a store. Charity? Donation for a cause? I’m not sure I feel charitable anymore.

Oh well… it was an evening well spent. Church Street often reminds me of the back alleys of the most exclusive cities in the world. Or the slightly faded street behind the most exclusive streets in the world. At 11.30, there are autos parked outside every restaurant, which is every few steps, soliciting and bargaining with people. Autos are a terror in the city. But when buses stop plying around midnight or are few and far in between, not to mention about the safety part…

There were women dressed up in the shortest skirts, making me wonder how they were not shivering in the 8 degree temperature of the city. Men were drunk and loud. We got hit on several times in the short stretch of the road… I’m undecided yet if that could even be called “hit on” or be called “harassed” and if there is any part of it which is flattering that a 20-year old thinks I look young and hot; or how guys are such morons that they get a kick out of saying ‘hey hey hey’ till you look at them and then giggle and then approach you and say ‘my friend wants to talk to you’. And then laugh like hyenas when you roll your eyes and keep walking.

It isn’t an Indian thing. We got asked for a drink by Indian guys when we were walking past a club, we got harassed by a bunch of drunk African guys when we were leaving and an Iranian guy suggested we would like to join him an after party. Men all over the world really have no idea what a woman wants?

Sunday was perhaps more successful. A warm, sunny afternoon… wine, pasta and brilliant company after finding almost the very thing that you wanted. It reminded of the afternoon just a year ago spent by the lake in Melbourne. The sun makes you a little more drunk… and makes you lazy and just wanting to bask on a bean bag with a novel and just… snooze. Rare, such afternoons are. Particularly in winter when the sun sets early and the wind gets harsh. I walked around, feeling stronger, feeling calmer… and not thinking about those things that haunt your sleep.

Death

A friend died today.

He was as old as me. As us.

I guess I knew there was something wrong when a friend pinged me and asked “did you know him.”

It was already in the past. Even through the haze of a vacation, of a peaceful day and such, I knew it was past.

I wish we could say we do not expect deaths at this age. We might be 25 but there have been those friends lost to accidents, to sickness and to sheer fate. It doesn’t make each death less potent.

I had mostly lost in touch with him. Every now and then we would catch on Facebook, when he would comment on something on my profile. Or I would laugh about something he did. That was what we  mostly were… Facebook friends who had been college buddies.

There were times when I thought I would call him and didn’t. We forget. We forget so many things when we are busy running around to make something of ourselves.

The thing is… life is never as long as we think it is. And we can never get anything done… Maybe we should send those messages when we think of them, take that leap when we feel we should.

Edit: Ironically, his FB page is a memorial right now. FB allows you to write messages and immortalizes that page. A nice thing of FB’s behalf. FB was what keeps so many of us in touch in a world when memories are so short. Yet, the grief is too personal to share on a wall.

His life, the minutes of it can be traced out on that wall. His last message was celebrating the weekend and the plans he had… merely 24 hours later, he was dead and the first “R.I.P” message appeared as a comment on that status message. Is that morbid? Is that just damn freaky? Is it scary that we are so much in touch with someone that every minute of someone’s life can be cataloged on a social network? Or is it a celebration that we knew that he was happy in those last few moments? Do we want to know?