Living a Dream

A day in the life of Shakti Salgaokar: The day that felt too good to be true. The day that was filmy.

A van pulls up in the building. Two girls walk out to the van and hug tight. One of them is dressed a little too much for Miami. Jeans, tshirt and woollen jacket get her some extra attention from people walking around. She hugs the girls in shorts again and nearly chokes up. ‘Have a happy Diwali, okay? And eat well, and don’t be out too late and…’
‘Enjoy NYC. Live it up and have fun okay?’

The girls part. She settles into the van and wipes a teardrop on her cheek. She wanted to see New York her whole life. And she had had daydreams about landing in New York. In those dreams, she always landed with her sister. But then she realised there was no point in fretting. She had to be grateful that she was about to see New York City.

She was early for her flight, so she settled into the lounge with a grande Café Mocha and a chocolate chip muffin. She tried to read her book, but couldn’t focus. A lot had happened around her and a lot is about to happen. Her trip to NYC is a lot more than just a vacation. It has an agenda to it. She has a gut feeling that her dreams are about to come true. She flips through the book: Spouse by Shobha De. A book about marriage and all that one needs to be prepared for. She laughs of many tips that the celebrity authoress dispenses in the book. ‘Why am I reading this?’ she asks herself.

She settles into her seat as soon as the aircraft boards. A window seat on the right, as instructed by her father, she rarely dismisses the father’s suggestions. She has heard about New York from friends, she’s had impressions about the city from movies, tv series and she has painted a mental picture of the city through the songs she’s grown up hearing. But her biggest influence in loving NYC before she’s even seen the face comes from the stories her dad has to tell. She loves seeing the way his eyes light up when he talks about the city. If nothing, she wants to see the city that is such a joy to the person she looks up to all the time.

She keeps staring out the window like a 5 year old who can’t wait for the car ride to end. She keeps staring at the ground below, scanning it to see if NYC is visible yet. And then the pilot announces that they’re ready to land. She sticks her nose to the window and peers. As they close in on the ground, her eyes start to light up. She sees them in a faint reflection on the window she’s stuck to. She smiles, she nearly jumps out of the seat when she realises she is finally going to see New York. And then, some flickering lights make her shriek with delight. Why, it’s Times Square.
She lands, she calls up the one person she wishes was sitting next to her on the plane.

‘Nani, I just landed!’ she says with a wide eyed grin. She knows, she knows its love at first sight, but yet she bounces about into a cab. And takes in the sight of every little thing… Thousands come to New York, why is she so thrilled? Because it was her dream!

I am so dreamy eyed about New York. I love walking the streets with a big smile. I love spending time with Raj and Pratibha and I love bonding with little Tara. I do miss Nani, but hey, we have our whole lives to see New York and many other cities.

Childhood Dreams: Priceless!

Day 12, Wednesday 30th September, 2009

The beach can only entertain you so much. There has to be something more done. Now, Disneyland is something we’ve been wanting to do, bachpan se and the cheapest deal also was going to cost us a bundle. It’s at times like these that I wish I’d chosen a profession that was far more lucrative than writing. Don’t get me wrong. I love being a writer. I love it, but it isn’t the place to be if you want to shower expensive holidays and gifts on yourself or others. However, i have done some chindigiri in my last job and I do have a little bit saved up for a rainy day.

That rainy day, I decided, was here. If the money you save doesn’t come handy in giving you some joy, what’s the use? I thought about the joy it would be to see Disney World with Nani, I thought about that chance to be two little girls we used to be again and I thought about all those dream plans of visiting Disneyland that we’d made as 15 and 11 yr olds. Well, quite like a dudette in a Master Card ad, I realised that I would have many opportunities to make money and fatten my bank balance (yeah, I’m being ambitious) but this chance to bring alive a childhood dream, it wasn’t coming back. So, I made a call and booked my tickets. Two days to Orlando, one day in Disney’s Magic Kingdom and another in Universal Studios’ Island of Adventure.

Meanwhile, we discovered that all the inhabitants of the house had been bitten by something. Me and Nani’s roommate not so much, but Nani and the roommate’s friend were really bitten up. We figured the fat cat had got in some ticks and hence the house was fumigated with a flea spray.

We tucked ourselves in at midnight to the excitement of an early morning trip to Orlando. I don’t know about Nani, but I felt the same excitement I’d feel the night before a school picnic to Esselworld. H how I missed feeling this excited! I knew  that the next two days were going to be $ well spent…

Har Ghar Kuch Kehta Hai!

Day 4:

I like waking up when it’s bright and sunny, stretch a little and have a luxurious minute hugging myself and relishing my dreams before panic hits and I start rushing. One would be a fool to want to rush around on a holiday, even if the holiday was meant to be more of a sister comforter trip. But even so, lying wide awake in an alien hotel bed, listening to the silence on a well-lit street while making a sincere attempt to go back to sleep is NOT fun. My super-fertile brain works best in above mentioned circumstances. Panic over unanswered emails and feeling anxious about the future and over analysing situations come with the territory. Of course, tweeting is an option but the thoughts easily get louder than my tweets.

We had seen 3 apartments, 3 more remained to be seen. And we had only liked one of them. We had the hotel room until Friday and then… ‘I don’t know’. When I’m in charge, I hate hearing those three words come out of my mouth (or mind in this case). What if we didn’t like anything, what if what if what if! I shut the negativity out and tried sleeping. Nope, no sleep. Happy thoughts. New York, meeting Raj n Pratibha n Tara, seeing NewYorker, meeting Moodie! Shopping! Wheeee! Ok, too much happiness, can’t sleep. So I got out of bed, showered and woke nano up for breakfast.

‘This chick, Georgie, her apartment is good. It’s much cheaper, it’s 13th and Michigan ave and it totally might be it,’ Nano announced. Meanwhile, another friend called and announced that the swankiest high rise in the area, Flamingo, had a room available for $500. The elder sister in me did a jig. Flamingo was safe, neat and 4 blocks from Nani’s school. I’m telling u, I have never ever tried to apply the law of attraction the way I did that day. We hunted Georgie out. And when the door opened, a merry little man in his late 40s greeted us. I avoided looking at Nano, I knew I’d burst out laughing.

The room was nice, the neighbourhood awesome but hello, sharing the apartment with a man, no way! The sweet man did show us around and all, and with a heavy heart we turned it down. Sigh, I wanted Flamingo to work out. Hell yeah! Meanwhile, we decided to eat at McDonald’s. Junkfood was needed. Nothing pacifies my stressed mind like fried greasy food, carbs and meat. Post lunch, another apartment. This time the girl didn’t even show us the room. ‘If she called us to show the room, then she had better made sure the roommate was ok with showing the room!’ I fumed. My attitude and the weirdass stink in that apartment led Nanuli to put a cross against the name.

Flamingo Flamingo Flamingo (total sarkar style!). A pacifying conversation with the parents and a tete-a-tete with NewYorker later, I was ready. ‘If you like the apartment, don’t think too much. Take it!’ NewYorker’s words rang in my head. We entered the heavily guarded gates of Flamingo and stood by watching BMWs and Ferraris zip in and out. Hopes crash, and how. The building was too posh to be the cheapest we had yet seen. And the 40 yr old south American woman who was going to show us the house stared at us in bewilderment (we look like carbon copies apparently) before telling us her ‘kondeeshaans’. I heard her say the rent was $1200 a month and I was like, what! Nano merrily took the tour with her. We went to the pool, the jacuzzi and what not. This was like super luxury. When she took us to the apartment on the 15th floor, neatly done up in white and red, we couldn’t resist a gasp. The view was fantabulous. The bay, the skyline. Hmmm. Too posh too posh, get out now. The guided tour went on. The lady was chaloo. Even with all the luxury, $1200 seemed to be an unreal amount.

We got out and Nani chuckled, ‘Chal at least we saw how Flamingo is. Baap ke paise pe I won’t stay so posh. Khud kamaungi toh sochungi,’ she announced. I have never been so proud of my sister. It was easy to covet that luxurious apartment, it was easy to whine and say ‘I wish I could afford it’ but Nani has her head in the right place. She aspired for it but on her own merit. An elder sister can only stop a moment and give the younger sister a ‘mujhe tumpe naaz hai’ look and hope and pray that destiny gives her the opportunities to work hard and get exactly what she wants.

And she will. Tomorrow, she’ll have an apartment. We will find a home for her, in Miami. I go to bed with that promise to myself.

Dream

You are mine,
You’ve always been.
Every night
A different scene…

You keep me going
Never let me stop
You give me hope
You give me props…

I was afraid,
Of who n what you are
But in all your vagueness
I saw sense and I saw a path

But it’s getting tiring,
My legs feel the pain.
Every night you tell me
Tomorrow will be that day

I stare at the phone,
I refresh my inbox,
‘No news is good news’,
Seems like a paradox…

Plathish Thoughts

A dream, a scent, an idea and emotion
Every night I scribbled with complete devotion
Your eyes your smile,
Even the slightest of your reaction…
I would sit and wait and watch,
Waiting for you to materialize
You stayed on paper, locked in a diary
Smiling as I painfully realized
Yes you were my imagination
But mine you were and I was yours
The wheels were set in motion!

Reminds me of Sylvia Plath’s ‘Mad Girl’s Love Song’ that we used in a film a while back…

I shut my eyes and the world drops dead,

I think I made you up inside my head…

Goodbye, 2008!

Whooosh… That’s what 2008 sounded like. It came and it went. Whoosh. It was busy, it was engaging, it was hurtful, it was hopeful, it was new, it was old and it was a lot more than words could describe. 2008 brought alive a lot of my dreams. It taught me to be honest to myself and it made me smile through most of it. Of course, post 26/11, it evoked a passion for Mumbai that I’d never known. But yes, the year has been a mixed bag.

So here’s a short capsule about the year that was, just in case I wake up with the year 2008 erased from my memory:

  1. The brother came back from New York: To be honest, Om and I aren’t related by blood at all. His parents and my parents are best friends. We grew up together. I worshipped him, I adored him and then, suddenly I couldn’t stand the sight of him. At one point it was so bad that we couldn’t stand each other’s presence in the same room. And then something changed. We just went on to become thick buddies and before we knew it, the dude jet set off to New York for his MFA. Now that he’s back, we spend hours talking about random rubbish. We swing between crazy, sane and absolutely insane. At the moment, he’s busy giving me advice about the kinda guy I should be ending up with. Hmmn… You too, Brutus?
  2. I lost weight: Yes I know its lame, but, I have been chubby for a long time. Of course I got a little too chubby for my liking (or for anyone’s liking for that matter, I looked like a planet!) I struggled for about a year and a half and around the beginning of 2008, I got to a comfortable weight. Look, I still hate my ass and I wish my stomach was flatter and I think my arms need liposuction, but show me one woman who’s happy with her body just the way it is! My triumphing moment was my slim doctor telling me to go home cause I didn’t need to lose more weight (I disagree but I think I’m never going to be happy with my weight!)
  3. Confidence! Okay, I do not have faith in myself ever! I am almost certain I do things the wrong way and when I got my job, I realised that I can kick ass. Well not quite kicking ass, but yeah, I’m happy with the way I have been doing my job. I’m not happy with my job, but then show me one person who is! (Okay, I guess JLo’s personal boob-setter is thrilled with his job, but other than that one)
  4. Novel! I finished my novel. Yes I did. It is presentable, it needs a lot of work but it is indeed presentable! Now, this year will see it published.
  5. Dostanas: I was a dorky kid in school. In the last couple of years at school, I had barely any friends and spent quite a lot of time wondering how it’d feel to have so many friends that time wouldn’t be enough! That dream has come true. I treasure my friends. I love talking to them, I love thinking about them and I love being there for them. It has taken years to find them, but, this year, I realised how much each one of them means to me  :-)

Now there are two things that I look forward to in 2009.

  1. Moving on: Well, I shut myself away from the idea of love for a long time. The parents made me see sense in the idea of arranged marriage, and though it’s not my plan, I gave it a shot in 2008. There were funny instances, clumsy ones and there were nice ones. The sort that make you smile. I don’t know what I want, but I think I’m slightly closer to knowing it than I was a year ago. Although everyone around me is insisting that my resolution this year should be finding a boyfriend/husband, I will let that take its time. For now, I shall focus on living and loving every moment.
  2. Reality check: This is the year I will get over Shah Rukh Khan. Yes, every year I tell myself I won’t go all dreamy eyed when this man shows up anywhere, and every year I fail. I promise not to buy the products he endorses, I promise not to smile every time an SRK song comes on the radio and I promise I will not kiss the TV/newspaper/magazine in which he shows up. However, he will still come in my dreams. One step at a time people!

Okay then, this post is a diary entry! May not make any sense to someone, but hey, this is my blog! I’ll write what I want to. In 2009, I shall write, just write. Because, 2008 made me realise that there’s nothing in this world that gives me as much joy as writing does. (Well, food n music give me joy, but there’s no sense of creation there!)

Happy new year and thank you f0r reading this :-)

Random thoughts

So, I was super busy thorugh the last 3 weeks. I did blog about stuff but completely forgot to record stuff that happened through August. I have been trying to recap the month of August but the amount of times I ctrl-A’d and deleted is not funny.

It’s like the moment has passed.

So chuck the wrap up. I’m very kicked about this weekend. As usual I have more plans than I can handle. I want catch up on my movie backlog. I want to watch WALL-E, Mamma Mia, A Wednesday, Tahaan and more (yes I can see you snigger). I want to have three grand meals (what! A girl gets to become 24 only once!). I also want to exercise a bit (all that I eat must be burned out). The there’s sleep to catch and blogs to be written, books to be read, music to be loaded on the new iPhone (yaay!) There are friends to meet, sister to pamper and cat to be played with. Phew. Just putting the list down is tiring enough.

How am I going to pull it off? God knows. Just makes me wonder, why can’t we have 48 hour days?

Another question on the back of my mind (and its not inspired by Jaane tu) When do you know its love? I don’t know what love feels like or how it feels to love someone enough to change everything about your life. But I know I want to love and be loved like that.

I never thought about it this way till recently a gori friend of mine asked me, “So you like change everything? Your name, your address, your country even just to be with someone your parents found you?”

I sensed the disdain for how orthodox Hindu culture is in her chat lines. But I will ignore that. I lay down in my bed, wanting badly to get some sleep before the alarm buzzes at 6.30 am. And I started thinking, just because I didn’t fall in love with any of the boys around me, doesn’t mean that I won’t fall for a guy that my parents have found through their network. Maybe that’s just another way of meeting the Mr.Right who might sweep me off my feet.

But then was I ready to be Missus Something. More importantly, was I ready to stop being Shakti Salgaokar, the girl I have always been. Was I ready to give up living in the space that’s always been mine (3 and a half floors, laxmi sadan, the bed in the corner)? Was I ready to do any of these things at all? And I sprung up gasping for breath… Full on filmy style!

The truth is, the more I think about it, the more cynical I get. If I’d met someone and fallen in love, I’d be asking some other questions. I’d probably still not be ready for any of the above things, but you do things because you like the person you’re doing it for. So yeah, I guess I’d try and figure things out. Why should some random westerner disrupt my sleep!

So for now, I am focusing on handling the activities of the weekend and on turning 24… What are you doing?

You may say I’m a dreamer!

The Indian news channels couldn’t stop carrying animated reports of how the big bang experiment by CERN in Switzerland is going to lead to the end of the world. Yes, the reports were complete with deadly music strumming in the background. Of course, my mum and me couldn’t stop laughing at all the possibilities of good that come out of this big bang thing killing the world.

So I had a few things on my mind as I traveled to work today. This was my to-do list before 2 pm IST when we would all start gravitating towards Switzerland!

  1. Eat all the forbidden food that’s on my favourite list without worrying about the weight I’d put on
  2. Say the things I’ve left unsaid for the sake of social decorum to all nosey relatives, pesky colleagues, brattish bosses and the snooty friends I have had. I have the right to let them know how I felt (I rarely suppress these urges but if I were to let go completely, God help them)
  3. Create a memory capsule that can survive everything and leave my novel in it. Whoever comes looking deserves to enjoy the masterpiece I created (my last hope for surviving after my exit from the universe.
  4. Admit to loving Shah RUkh Khan just as much as I did back in 1998
  5. I’d like to confess to Mom that I haven’t been the good girl she thinks I am. I have taken a drag of a cigarette, tasted alcohol and seen porn. I am not addicted to these but I have tried it Mum, and I am not sorry I did.
  6. Scream from the roof of my terrace
  7. Buy a pair of Manolo Blahniks and strut in them all day. Who cares about savings anyway!
  8. Try and enter the terrace and blast the building manager for accusing us of suicidal tendencies.

Just realised that this list won’t end soon! Anyway, I also relaised that if we all were to be erased it wouldn’t be such a bad thing.

Think about it. The Big Bang is successful but it destroys us all. But the process of generating life has started. The living things coming into existence through this cycle go through their own share of struggle.

They’d walk small distances, eat only what they grow.

There’d be no food crisis.

There’d be no energy problems.

There’d be no global warming.

There’d be a straightforward relationship between people. No treachery, no vested interests.

There’d be no religion.

There’d be no borders.

No countries to fight with.

No oil, no water to fight over.

There’d be no pressure to succeed in material things.

Surviving the day would be equated with success.

Ah! I think it would be a realisation of John Lennon’s Imagination!

Changed for good

Diwakar had tagged me ages ago on his blog. I decided to write it out today… These are the things that changed me… Looking back at all these things made me realise that many things touch you and you don’t even realise what a transformation they bring about in your personality.

A Writer and two books: Each book I’ve read made a difference to my life. Be it a book like Single in the city or a novel like The Kite Runner or even The Secret. Each book taught me how to feel, how to understand, how to think…

One book that changed me remarkably was Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist. It made me realise the power of wanting, the power of my heart. Same goes for The Secret by Rhonda Byrnes. It made me realise the power of things that I already knew. It reduced my pessimism, it made me believe.

Khalid Hosseini and Margaret Atwood taught me how to look deep within characters. The Kite Runner and The Blind Assassin are two books that made me realise that I want to write more, and I want to write better.

A Movie:

I eat, sleep and breathe cinema. I enjoy most of it including ultimate dreamy bollywood melodramas, to bollywood classics a la Sholay to Hollywood romances, action. There’s also been a lot of World cinema on my DVD player.

A movie that made me want to contribute in some way to cinema is You’ve Got Mail. The film is brilliantly written and plays forward with the characters. Recently, watching Khuda Kay Liye and The Dark Knight put a lot creative wheels in motion for me.

Having said that, I must say that I have written a novel, which might make a great film someday. Only if Karan Johar would have it! Wishful thinking, but then, I believe in destiny.

A Person:

There have been many people who have made a big difference in my life. But one of the most important among them is Nilu Niranjana Gavankar. She is a woman who’s lived her life on her own terms. She worked in the US with Bechtel, and then she came to Mumbai to make a film! She did it, she made the film. But she also touched my family’s life in that period. She taught me how to look beyond the obvious. She made me believe that I was special. She taught me how to value what I had. She made me believe in the power of stories. She made me.

In my teens, if there was one person who decided where my life would go, it was Nilu. We haven’t been in touch for a long time, but somehow I remember her everyday.

My sister. She came into my life and transformed it. She is the voice of reason in my life. She is someone who I can depend on. I cant imagine life without her.

Its hard to think of just a few people…. Raj Kamble, Shashikant Sawant, Javed Akhtar (through his book and his lyrics), Warsha and Rahul Kale, Avinash Paranjape, Bharat Kaka… I have been blessed with these wonderful people who enrich my life each day…

Events:

My school life. It was extremely dorky, weird and I don’t think I can ecognise the person I used to be back in school.

My college days at KC. I realised that loving someone along with their flaws is the most staifying feeling ever.

My uni days at Sussex. They taught me how to be on my own. They made me love solitude.

My days at Yuva: I met very special people while I was working here. The friendships still exist though I have moved on from Yuva.

Nimmai’s death… Dealing with bereavement was the hardest thing. To deal with the fact that I won’t ever see my grandmother again just took days… Even today if I pass by Poonam Baug, tears well up…

I tag: Vishesh, Yashshri, Sneha, Jugal, Pooja and Mruns

July July

July was fabulous. I was on my toes with work and yet I ended up watching a lot of films, reading some books and enjoying quality time with family and friends. So here is a quick recap:

Films: It was raining good cinema for me this month. I got my BigFLIX membership in place, so have caught up on my backlog of films to watch. So yes, there was a lot of cinema. I enjoyed watching Jaane Tu… in the theatre with Sneha, Jugal and Nanya. It was funny, how I ended up watching Girl Interrupted and The Dark Knight back to back. I saw a lot, I repeat a lot of films last month. Girl Interrupted inspired me to write this: http://compulsivewriter.wordpress.com/2008/07/27/sanity-in-insanity/

Music: Mainly tripped on Hindi music this month. I had criticised Kahin toh from Jaane tu because it was ripped off from an English song. But the lyrics are just so beautiful. ‘Jaane na kahan who duniya hai/Jaane na who hai bhi ya nahin/ Jahan meri Zindagi mujhse/ Itni Khafa nahin’

Of course, Simon&Garfunkel are still ruling the iPod!

Ambition: I want to buy a new phone. But I can’t decide which one

Dreams: Weird stuff. Pannu and me planning to leave for a long holiday, then there was one where I was ill and didn’t want to tell people… Just a lot of weird shit

Moments: Quite a few that made me smile. There are people around me who have such immense faith in my writing! Thanks Avya kaka, Mohit, Nani, Sneha and Jugal!

Regrettable: Watching City of Dreams. As Omu called it- City of Nightmares

Boohoo factor: Pannu left for Jaipur and I won’t be seeing her for 2 months! Boohoo!

Food: Yet again I have been well nourished! Ate everything and the last two weeks, I have gone for meat like never before. I enjoyed a nice meal at Da Vinci with Omu dada… Mom’s birthday dinners were good stuff. The rooftop restaurant at Orchid is so lovely. On a rainy day, the cool breeze, the pitter patter of rain and the well lit runway just make the place magical. The food is just about okay, and the service, just about alright!

We also went to Gaylords for a meal and the conversation that night was fodder for thought. It gave birth to a post. http://compulsivewriter.wordpress.com/2008/07/31/homage/

People: I met up with Avya kaka for a great lunch. One of the best evenings I had was a Sunday, where I met Om after a long time. We sat and talked and talked, as usual. After that I met Sneha and Jugal, we drove to MIG in his new car! We had great food, great conversation and then another fancy drive. We ate ice-cream, walked near Carter Road… Friends make life worth living.

Missing: Shefali and our late night dinners and ‘discussions’ at 59 east slope! Lathia and Satam, they just haven’t met me in a long time. Urvashi Rao, for the walks at SP, random movies and intense discussions about fate, people and life… Basically, I have been missing friends.

Dreading: How hectic work’s going to get soon

Enjoying: A thousand splendid suns

Wondering: How can things like height, complexion, income and location help someone find the love of their lives!

Figuring out: What do I exactly want?

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