Journal Rules

Ground rules for the journal:

  1. Write every day, even if you have not written for the novel, write as to why?
  2. Tell yourself the truth.
  3. Write about the influences. Film, music, books, art or people that triggered off the want to write.
  4. Thou shalt not lose passion
  5. Thou shalt not forget the goal. A finished book by end of December
  6. Thou shalt ignore people telling you, you cannot do it
  7. Start the first day by reading random pieces written before.
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Yehi Hai Write Choice Baby, A-ha!

Enough random thinking. It will still continue, but from today, the blog will see posts about creating my second novel. I plan to do the following things by the year end:

  1. Be brutally honest about myself, to myself:

Satyadev Dubey once told me over a cup of chai at MIG club, ‘Lie to the world, but don’t ever make the mistake of lying to yourself,’ It’s about time I took that advice seriously. I am honest with myself but to put it down in words is to crystalize it, frame it up and make it permanent. I am not going to be scared of it.

 

  1. Delete the delete:

Negative self- image might help me improve and all, but the negativity about my own work makes me destroy most of the things that I write. From now on, delete does not exist. I will write, and however crappy I think my writing, I will revisit it later and craft it to reduce its level of mediocrity.

 

  1. Worker harder on the hard work:

Working hard is simply not enough. I will work harder at working harder.

 

  1. Reflections can be beautiful:

Maintain a writers’ journal so I can reflect on the process of writing.

 

  1. Share:

Being nervous about sharing my work is bad for my health. And a lady with bitten nails doesn’t exactly look gorgeous. It’s my work, I will share it. So what if someone hates it!

 

  1. Do Doddle Do:

I am always guilty of talking rather than doing. I won’t just write these things, I will do them.

Off to start with the second novel. To piece together silly little pieces of the puzzle I have strewn across the different corners of my mind. To piece them together, to bring alive each character and to be the schizophrenic writer I love being. I am off to be restless, to explore where the story goes and where it comes from, to feel the pulse of each character and to be haunted, consumed and bewildered by the story I want to tell. And my readers, darlings, you have a choice, to be involved in this mad mad mad journey over the next God knows how many days. If it sounds too boring, let me know. I’ll sneak in a fun bit or two, but I really *need* to do this. 

Let the madness begin: drumroll!

Woh 7 Weeks: End of a holiday

Past 7 weeks have been pure bliss; ups and downs included. Quality sister time, unique relationship insight (how I love my older friends!), a dash of disappointment, blistered feet, emptied bank balances, crazy credit card bills, tons of food, serving portions I can only dream of finishing, jeans feeling a bit too snug, not fretting about the weight, the beach, pride, inspiration and more than anything LOVE.

7 weeks have passed since I left Mumbai, all starry eyed. And now I shuttle out to Miami airport sobbing. Yeah, you heard me right. I am grateful for all the madness of the past 7 weeks. I sobbed because my sister (she never really was a baby sister) is independent and brave, far braver than I could ever be. Here I was leaving for India, why did it feel like I had forgotten something, someone? The truth is I was leaving behind a big chunk of my heart in Miami.
I hate that I am early at the airport (paranoid as I am, I am always early!) Check-in and security checks, all taken care of, I still have another two and a half hours to kill. I could either brood over how much I was going to miss my sister or see pictures and giggle with glee about the lovely times we had exploring her city with her, going to Disney world or while battling bed bugs (bed bugs was not fun but hey, I m trying to see the glass half full here!)
I could sit and smile about the fun times I had in New York with Roger, Baa and Tarlet. I could think about what an adventure it was discovering what I didn’t want from a relationship… There, I started again. So much happened on the past 7 weeks that I *almost* feel like a whole new person. Okay, I’m exaggerating but, I do feel like Shakti Salgaokar version 8.0.

I’ve fallen in love with solitude and lost my heart to a city. I love Paris, London and Barcelona. But New York, I think we are headed for a serious relationship and imagine the mess that’s going to be when Mumbai finds out!
And yet, I am back to the city I call home. Despite its pollution, dufus governance (the Frenchman working on Mumbai waste management project on my flight brought this to my notice) I love it. There’s so much this city can be if she got the right things to work with, and yet, she sits there, making the best of whatever she’s got. New York is like the sexy woman you want to be. She’s that woman who has the perfect life. A perfect career, she looks hot, so perfect that even her problems seem perfect. Someday, I’ll come back…

And yeah, on this trip I also achieved acute spiritual maturity (yeah, right!).  And I finally figured the prophecy of one my gurus, Mr. John Lennon: Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans.

I’m alright to go where life takes me. No more planning. No more superficial goals. Just one principle- have fun.
Btw, Air France: thank you for being a kill joy airline. The cranky me, agrees to go through the ordeal of 19 hours on a flight for two things. Nonstop movies and eating airline food like Charlie Chaplin (dad, u r genius in discovering that simile. Yes I don’t mind airline food. It helps passtime!). Yeh modern day air travel isn’t so bad because food apparently has gotten better and inflight entertainment is supposed to be awesome. Thanks air France for not having a personal screen on my first flight from Miami to Paris and a little note: Hindu non veg meal means a non-veg meal sans beef or pork. It doesn’t mean you serve me rice, veggies and chicken with garam masala tossed on it!

Anyway, the 8 hour ordeal ended at Charles de Gaulle. And look at me, merrily Bon jour and au revoiring people like I knew French, deliberately struggling to read things in French before giving up and settling for English. Whoa! I miss Nani. The last time I was at this airport, Nani and yours truly had flown in from Barcelona on a delayed flight and missed our connecting flight to London. The lady who reissued our boarding cards, issued a wrong one for Nanchan and I put up a classic performance, being the drama queen I am, and got Nani bumped up to business class.
Such funny incidents happen when me and Nani set off to explore the world. ‘Be nice to your siblings,’ is an underrated line from the Sunscreen Song. Love your siblings, pour your soul into them, because trust me, other than your parents they are the only people who know you, your past, your whims, your fancies, your strengths and weaknesses and yet love you like no one else will. My sibling is a part of me, a part of who I am and what I am. I realise this after years of sibling rivalry, friendship, arguments, fights and much more.

So yeah, Nano, this one’s for you. Love life so much that you can be a 70 year old who can tell tales of her life and amuse people by the sheer presence of life in them!
And in case u want assistance, who u gonna call?

Straight From The Art

Art used to be complex. If you loved it, you were fancy. I’d spend time in front of a portrait, clueless to what the brush strokes were or what the colours were or how revolutionary the painting itself was. I was clueless. Until 3 years ago, when I hit The National Gallery and took an art tour on a whim, I thought visiting museums to look at paintings was pointless. Until 3 years ago, no painting other than Mona Lisa at the Louvre interested me. Until 3 years ago, Monet was just a random name.

On a cold windy New York day, with not much to do outdoors, I set out to the MET. “Its one of the best museums I have ever been too!” Far too many people had told me. And as I climbed up the beautiful stairs, I knew why. The museum is enormous. It houses paintings, sculptures. Well, I should stop. Most of you know that the MET is huge and what all it has..

Rewind 3 years. I was alone in London. It was valentine’s day and I didn’t give a shit about the red all around or the love that was in the air. So I went into the National Gallery and took a few guided tours. It was here that I fell in love with knowing the story behind each painting. The era they were painted in, how subtly the artist left a mark of their perception on the image they painted, and of course, I realised that I do indeed enjoy seeing museums. Suddenly, walking down long corridors halting every minute to take in a painting became fun.

Fast forward: back to 20th October 2009. I entered the MET and grabbed a schedule sheet. The first tour I would take was American paintings, followed by an interesting tour: fashion through art and then there was an impressionist tour before I headed out to meet a friend at Columbia University. I wanted to take the modern art tour as well, but then I already liked the sound of my day!

Copley, Homer, Trumbaults were followed by a painting that took my breath away and tickled my curiosity. I stopped in front of it, waiting for the rest of the group to settle. Before the guide told me its story, I knew I was in love with the painting: Madame X.

A woman with a pallid white skin tone dons a black gown that highlights her figure. Her hand rests rather uncomfortably on a table as she looks in an awkward direction. Her longish nose, which might look ugly on anyone else, looks elegant and there’s an air of sophistication, pride and immense amount of attitude about the woman in the painting. Her dress is held by two straps and one strap is noticeably different from the other. She looked gorgeous, and the painter must have been taken by her beauty to depict her the way she looked (beauty lies in the eye of the beholder, and this beholder thought this woman was gorgeous, you could just tell!)

“The painting is that of a well-known Parisian socialite Madame Gautreau. She was born in America and went to Paris in search of a wealthy husband. Known for her glamour and style, Madame was a flamboyant woman. John Singer Sargent’s painting led to a lot of controversy resulting in the fall of Madame. Although her name was nowhere on it, people knew it was her. Now in those days…”

She went on to explain that it was a bit too shocking in the day and age. Today, far lesser than that is worn and yet called classy, but Madame’s outfit, her pose and the fallen strap in the original painting, caused quite an uproar. Didn’t she know she was posing in an outrageous pose then? Why did Sargent paint her the way he did? Who was Amelie Gatreau?   Wikipedia wasn’t going to be enough and hence I got myself Strapless, a novel by Deborah Davis. It’s a well-researched account of Gautreau’s and Sargent’s lives leading upto the painting of Madame X and what happens after the painting.

The book had me hooked. The lives of women in high society, the fickleness of their marriages (it was normal to have affairs as long as they were discreet, huh?) the ways of the world of art, the business angle of art, men and their muses, friendships that were ways of getting ahead in the society. Not much has changed today. The women might not need to find a rich husband, women are allowed to paint (back in the day, women did not get admitted to art school), but we still make friends to make better contacts, we cheat discreetly and the big change: less and less of us seem to believe in marriage.  To be as gorgeous and glamorous as Amelie and to be stuck in a loveless marriage would be a disaster. But what amuses me even more is that after being painted in that fashion, Amelie lost all she had worked for, whereas Sargent gained repute and went on to become a celebrated painter who rubbed shoulders with the high and mighty in England and America.

It’s a story of art but more than anything, it’s the story of a search, the endless pursuit of youth, glamour and fame. In the end, it’s a hollow existence but that hollow existence stands immortalized on a canvas in the MET, looking at thousands of visitors that pass by, thinking, how the times have changed and yet, so many things remain unchanged…