People ask me why I keep visiting Goa, over and over. I tell them there are multiple ways to see the same place. Even a mirror reflects only one angle at a time, you need to turn and twist until you see the whole picture.
Goa is a place where energies combine – sex meets spiritualism – and one feels a general sense of belonging. It got me thinking whether it’s the place that makes the people, or is it the other way round? Maybe people don’t really belong to any place, they belong unto themselves. I seem to belong everywhere and nowhere. I constantly find myself in the strange and eccentric company of musicians, poets, models, entrepreneurs, creators, and I am merely the onlooker, the dreamer, the realist, the observer, the invisible writer in a crowd of outliers.
Today I sit in one of the hippest cafès in Goa, typing away on my laptop – the only brown, rotund, tar-smoking, coffee-drinking city-dweller on the brink of death and external existential crisis, among a sea of white, fit, tan hippies smoking pot, braless, fearless, babies on one hip, dreadlocked and loose-lipped, and for a minute I experience the familiar dread of not belonging – but only for a minute. How shallow of me to pass judgment from the outside, how obtuse of me to label the aesthetic as empty shells, for I have found pearls in the most unlikely places.
And so I just relax the furrows on my brow, sink into my chair and put on a smile. At least for this morning, I am comfortable in my own skin and happy to just be me, and for now, that is enough.
Mirrors have strange qualities. They reflect and they invert. Every person becomes a mirror to at least one of another’s traits.
I’m lying on a beach bed, sipping a beer. I have run away, all by my lonesome, to a beautiful resort in a small Goan village. Everything I need, and more, is right here. My insecurities lie abandoned, hundreds of miles away, in a home I may not return to, in a city that no longer feels mine, and unnoticed by friends that once felt like home.
I watch gorgeous young bodies tanning in the sun, flaunting taut stomachs and flawless skin, and I have no inhibitions and not a care in the world. But I watch healthy minds wasting on beach beds, browning, browning, and I wonder what they contemplate when they lie beneath the sun all day long, I wonder what happens of the endless rumination, and I wonder where it all goes. And I look down at my own self, and look, I am still tightly wound, the strings still threaten to unravel at the first pull, and still I continue to stack the blocks, waiting for the game board to collapse.
And then I see it, the inversion, my mirrors by the seaside. There’s the crowd, in twos and threes, and then there’s me, the outsider with no category. I have seen my reflection, now that I’ve stopped trying to belong. I have learnt something from the ocean. I hold up a mirror to the ocean, but my reflection stays invisible until called into existence.
Continue reading Part 3
I have always wondered what it is about escape that makes it so inevitably attractive.
I thought I was a Carrie as I sat writing and smoking cigarettes full of tar in the balcony of my expensive sea-facing room. But after a long walk and intense reflection in front of a mirror, I feel more like the old man from Iris Murdoch’s The Sea, the Sea – the sixty-year-old, retired ex-playwright who moves into a little cottage by the sea and begins to pen down his memoirs, yet drifting, always drifting from the storyline and looping back to begin over, and finally letting his past drag him back.
I think it is the city that brings out our vices and our insecurities. The city me is awkward, clumsy, angry, depressed, spiteful, egoistic, weak, helpless. Back home, I die a little every day. Back home it is always night, and the night brings no sleep, and there’s darkness hanging from the ceiling and descending onto your fingertips. Back in the city, mirrors are magic; selfies they are called and they cover up blemishes, haze over the corpulence, and reflect distortions of the truth.
The seaside me is, well, happy. The ocean has been a far better mirror. I can hear the chirps in my head again, I can even dance to the brass beats of my mind. I may still be dying, but I am living a little as I die. I may still hate myself, but I am letting the ocean, the wind and the solitude love me just a little.
Continue reading Part 2
Can anyone hear me? Because I can no longer hear myself. Dead watery eyes stare back through the mirror but wait someone clicked a photograph of me last night which wasn’t a shadow – there was actual flesh, skin, hair, limbs, even some cleavage – was there life in those eyes? I might be going deaf I’ve been blaring metal in my eardrums and I haven’t tasted any brain cells in a long time my tongue just can’t reach that far back.
Death metal junk food hard liquor and mint cigarettes – that’s me in a nutshell escapism at its finest. See that shithole on your face? Set it free. Who gives a fuck if you’re a foul-mouthed bitch you can always pass it off as sarcasm they don’t know who you are anyway. Who gives a fuck about punctuation I’m too exhausted to care or not care, try don’t try, succeed don’t succeed, it won’t stop anyone in their tracks it’s their life and this is yours. Fuck it.
I’ve been a recluse. I’ve gone into hiding to avoid dealing with all the messes I’ve created and separated and untangled and hung out there to dry in the sun. It’s not healing, it’s not meditation, it’s not even a break from writing I’m simply lying alive waiting for the darkness that was once my friend. Depression seems to hit and miss me by one person. I’m jealous of the hopelessness I see in other people’s eyes. I want my edge back. We were good together – a good combo, like burger and fries, like cigarettes and coffee, like masturbation and death fantasies. No, maybe not that last one. It’s so easy to want to die, it’s so easy to wipe out like a lonely little flame fluttering in the wind. I wanted to be a limerick, a dirty joke, an old ditty that plays on the radio, the tip of an iceberg. Now I know, I’m a ballad of woe, a cross between Dostoevsky and Tolstoy, and water – just water on which other things can float and rise to the surface. I almost didn’t put these thoughts into words because when I do, I become the writer, I give weight to my own existence. But finally I am leaning towards the hopeful, gravitating towards the light and contemplating the burden of those with a weightless existence. It seems like a good beginning on the path towards the end.
I’m surrounded by people, but I am alone. As always, alone. I wish the smoke from my cigarette could obfuscate some of the thoughts floating around in my head, the ones that are too clear, too sharp for this particular moment. They worry about me. They think I am turning dark. They think I am letting myself go. Well, go where? I am right here, letting empty days stretch out lazily before me like a long winding road – their favorite metaphor for life. I may not laugh as much as I did, there are definite dark circles under my eyes, and I may be writing about death and sex and the darkness that shall fall when that last cigarette falls from your limp hand. I may be tempted by Death as a mysterious seducer, the she-Devil, a Scheherazade of the netherworld. But no, I am not ‘turning’ dark; maybe it was you who chose to only see the light. And no, I am not suicidal, I have always been strong enough to ride the wave. Let me reconcile with my darkness; I cannot shove such bile back down my throat like you did, only to have it erupt when you least expect it.
When I started this blog about three years ago, I only wanted to express myself, I needed a vent, something to do, something to care about. I was looking for someone who might empathize, who might be going through the same thing I was, and more importantly, people who would not pass judgments. 60 blog posts and 315 readers later, I realised, blogging had became all about showcasing my writing. Carefully treading the thin line between truth and fiction, the focus gradually shifted from needing a means of expression to trying to evolve as a writer. As if opening my eyes after an extended period of darkness, today I once again felt the need to simply express, to write only for myself, without trying to create a masterpiece.
I feel happy today. Perhaps the reason is something as superficial as – it’s the weekend! and I roamed the city like a free bird this cold winter morning, feeling the warmth of early sunrays caressing my face. I hit a couple of minor snags, potential dangers to my mood upswing – I sneezed 72 times (goddamn dust allergies), and, courtesy the new wave of black money eradication that’s gripped the nation, I waited 3 hours in line at the bank (which, I must say, was quite entertaining to the people around me, since I finished Tina Fey’s Bossypants laughing my ass off and grooving to Tool) – as I said, these were minor incidents, I wasn’t about to let anything get to me.
My mind was at peace. No restless drumming of fingers on the table, no sudden bouts of anxiety, and, thank God, no depression relapse or drooping self-confidence. It was calm inside, and laughter on the outside. Not particularly wanting to dwell upon the past few months, I can only be grateful for days like these, and hope they stay as long as possible.