Run from Fear //

 

 

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I was reading Jenny Zhang where she references Tracy Emin and then I  remembered my ambivalence about Emin’s work, specifically her neons (even though I’d walk to St. Pancras station just to gaze at her installation), and then I got to thinking about Bruce Nauman’s neons and then I remembered that I had taken this picture from the Nauman collection at Tate Modern. Somewhere down this meandering thought thread I realized what I was really chasing after was a specific feeling.

It came to me in full force on the afternoon I took this picture – I had played truant from assignments and spent a day with art. I emerged only when the gallery closed and remember walking along a sun-soaked Millenium bridge, with my House of Fashion jacket draped over my backpack, happy but also a little heavy.  Happy with a deep gratitude, heavy with the knowledge that days like these were temporary.

I haven’t fully processed, written or posted much about last year because of this heavy-happiness that kept following me the entire year. A lot of things happened last year that I wouldn’t have dared dream of. For some of us, our dreams are tethered to our middling realities.  Often, we don’t yet have the capacity to dream beyond the things that moor us. Rebecca Elson refers to the “existence of limits” in a poem and it’s a line which keeps coming back to me. A lot of last year was framed through this aching transience, that any moment this would be yanked away from me.

It reminded me of the time I caught a butterfly when I was a child. For a few heartbeats this beautiful thing nestled in my hands, was mine. Then when I touched its wings, it disintegrated into dust and I started crying, horrified at what I’d done.

Anyway, read Jenny Zhang’s prose.

 

 

Notes from Delhi: R is for Random

We were treated to a potent dust storm yesterday. I staggered on to the terrace only to be blown back inside, blinded by dust particles. To make up for it, there was ample lightning and a spectacular sunset though. Instead of the milk and water sunsets Delhi glories in, the sky exploded into a surreal yellow-orange.  Plus, rain after 4 months! I feel like I should add a few more exclamation marks to commemorate this moment. There you go —>  !!!!

My housemates stared in bemusement as I stood there, face turned skywards, eyes closed for a glorious half hour. Then I started sneezing and reluctantly went inside. Terribly anticlimactic.

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Second hand book bazaars are a god send. Trainspotting is painful to read. I can feel my vocabulary slipping away with every expletive.

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It was supposed to be an evil eye charm. It’s common enough over here. There are keytags, bracelets, chains and all kinds of souvenirs made with it and I didn’t for a moment believe that it was going to protect me. And yet, I couldn’t help but feel an irrational sense of dismay as the keytag slipped out of my head and exploded into blue shards all over the room.

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Visited East India recently. Loved it and would love to go back if possible, when finances and time permit. For now, I’ll have to be content gazing at the ridiculous amount of pictures I took while there.

At Darjeeling, one of the tourist attractions is the sunrise at Tiger Hill. We woke up at 4am and sleepily joined the multitudes who braved the bitter winds and cold (Frozen fingers, cold noses, fun times) to see the sunrise. Once we reached the ticket point we were asked if we would like tickets for a standard sunrise or a deluxe one.  The things we put a price on, sometimes.

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At Gangtok, the wine shops open at 7am. The grocery shops, at 9.

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Meet my yak. His name was Changi. He was a nice yak – old, slow fellow. We got along swimmingly.

My guide was also incredibly sweet. After watching me gracefully scramble onto Changi, he gauged quickly  that I was not built for clambering over snow covered hills (In hindsight I think my loud cries of ‘I am an island person! I am not built for mountains! These feet were meant for flat land!’  may have given me away) He very patiently guided me and held me firmly as I flailed about spectacularly in the snow, the graceful ballerina that I am. He also realized that it was my first snow experience and proceeded to provide me with a steady supply of massive snow balls. Thank you, sir.

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Picture above shows a girl who has just slid down the hill on a blue polythene bag and is overcome with hysterical laughter. The poor chap at the bottom is the man she has just knocked over like a bowling pin while she hurtled down.  No one was hurt in the photographing of this picture.

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M has left the house and will be leaving the city in a few days. Delhi will not be the same. All my memories of discovering this city are intertwined with her and I’m more than a little hesitant to face my next year over here without her. M was the first friend I made here and definitely the closest. It was M who introduced me to the fantastic concoction that is badam milk and the vast spectrum of Delhi’s street food. It was M who made this strange city feel like home. M was also my exploring partner; equipped with her expansive knowledge of the city and my enthusiasm, we’d take on Delhi’s cafes, seedy streets, monuments, cultural festivals, the music scene and exhibitions every week.

I’m going to miss her.

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Happy holidays to everyone back at home. Here’s wishing you a peaceful Sinhalese and Tamil New Year. Stay safe.

Discovering Dharamsala

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Dharamsala is probably one of the most laid back places I’ve seen in a while. The climate is excellent, the cheap cafes which dot the roadside are absurdly affordable and the people, incredibly chilled out. We visited it recently and true to form, I was the FOB tourist lagging behind (not so) subtly trying to take pictures of the Tibetan people and drinking the atmosphere in. This post is mostly pictures – I haven’t done any proper writing (essays don’t count) in a while and I’m struggling to get my groove back.



We visited a monastery,

Which had vivid wall paintings,


 There was also this line of wheel-things (no idea what you call them) which you are supposed to turn in a particular direction to bring you good luck. We happily turned them only to discover that we were turning them in the wrong direction. If my legs suddenly fall off, I’ll know why.


We hiked for 18 fricking kilometers and stopped for a break inbetween

By the time we reached the top, we were too exhausted to enjoy the view.

We collapsed onto the chai (tea) huts at the top of the mountain to coax the owner for bowls of steaming maggi and proceeded to devour it with a ferocity which startled our newly acquired canine companions

A visit to the McLeod Ganj market was made.
(sadly overpriced) stoles

I bought a pair of – wait for it – drop crotch pants. I have no idea where I will wear it but I can say with utmost pride that I now own a pair of bright blue and black printed drop crotch pants. Other unnecessary items (bright pink and orange trousers. No, I’ve no idea what I was thinking either) and bunch of gifts for assorted people were also purchased.


I had to stop myself from buying this woollen sweater,

these wooden cats

and this gorgeous horse. (“You have no money. You have no money. You really don’t have any money!”)

Food porn




Our return journey was… eventful. Our travel agent promised us that the entire coach had been booked and when we got into the train at night, we were rudely shocked to find it full. The problem with the ticketing system over here is that anyone can walk into the station and get onto the train. The ticket is checked only once you’re actually on the train. This, as can be expected, is brilliant for free loaders who hop onto the train, claim empty seats and slip the conductor a bribe. So we found ourselves with no seats, a coachful of lecherous men and a very, very drunk travel agent. Fun times.

 Bonfire at night

 View from the hotel

Cool cardholder
More stuff from the market.

Supposedly haunted church
I have a feeling I left vital body parts at the top of that god awful mountain we climbed and we could have done without the eventful train ride back– but all in all, no regrets.