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Surviving the horrors!

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Coming up is a survival guide if you are being forced to sit through a horror film on the 70 mm film on cinema screens. For those of you bold and brave people out there who stepped into the halls knowing your dreams might not be as pleasant in the nights to come, I have put together a list of life hacks to, well, make life simpler. Isn’t that what life hacks do? Also, I have specifically picked up cinema halls because at home, you have a way out that is not 100 metres away shining in bright red reading ‘EXIT’, devilishly grinning at you while you sit crouched in fear as people scream and shout for their lives on the screen. Not that I was sitting crouched in fear. Anyway, let’s get to the point.

And the point is, or the points are:

  • Help comes from above:

Have you ever noted what the ceiling of a cinema hall looks like? When we go to museums, temples, mosques, churches, palaces or even when in the open, we look ceiling-wards or skyward to opine about the place. But why not a movie theatre? Well, for starters, obviously because you don’t go to admire the interiors of the theatre but the quality of their audio and visual. I get it. But you should try looking up too, you know? I did and I ended up counting 13 rows and 24 columns of tiles. At least. While the film was playing. It was difficult counting with the play of light on the ceiling. So rest assured, I spent a good amount of time not looking at the screen, while Annabelle Creations was being played.

  • Friend in need:

Always, and I am telling you this very seriously, always go with someone who’s worse than you at watching horror films, who screams at the drop of a hat or well, knife here, who jumps at every turn the protagonist takes, who bites their nails or digs them into the neighbour’s arm! That way the limelight is on them and their rather audible gasps and you leave unscathed from being the butt of jokes in your friend circle!

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  • Know-it-alls aren’t shy:

Keep your eyes closed if you want, but your ears open. There will always be one of those know-it-alls in the audience who will try to predict out loud what happens next and sometimes they’re correct too, being experts having watched way too many horror films over the years. That way you’re prepared for what all might happen next and your heart doesn’t jump into your throat at times odd and even.

  • Scope how you cope:

What’s your coping mechanism when fear settles in? Fight or flight? Well, reality check. Here, both won’t work. You can neither fight or flight. So what could work? Laughter! I picked up random scenes and separated them from the context – voila, the comments were such that my friend was in splits while the rest of the hall was intensely silent. One such chain of thought : Talking to myself, Tune out the audio, girl. That is what is scaring you. Tune out… Tune out… Auto tune… Shirley Sethia. And friend is in spilts. Google ‘auto tune and Shirley Sethia’. You’ll know what I mean.

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  • Phone a friend:

And if nothing else works, then whip out your phone, dim screen brightness, make sure it is on silent and start browsing through the multiple apps which have reduced our attention span, narrowed our world view while expanding our reach worldwide, update your interests on FaceBook, add a few snapchats in the dark, use some Instagram filters. Or like me, SMS (yes, it still exists) another friend sitting three seats away who was complaining about the film being boring! Boring would be the last thing I would call the film. I wonder what he’s made of.

These are my life hacks. What are yours?

Graciously Yours!

P.S. : Want more life hacks? Tell me the topic in your mind and I’ll work on it for you. 😉

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Jilebis.

— Looking for feedback. All are welcome. —

As I stood by the small sweet shop in one of the eat streets of the city, waves of hot air hit me from the stove lit ahead, as the heavy late night air settled around me. It was a hot night. The rains had been distant for two days now. It was not humid but it wasn’t cold either. Not the weather which would have been appropriate for steaming, sizzling jalebis but then you can’t say no to the piping hot, deliciously sweetened, freshly fried orange spiral pretzels. Seems more like a sweat shop, than a sweet shop, I thought, seeing beads of sweat run down the forehead of the man, as he poured out the batter from the cone over the boiling oil in concentric motions. The smell of sugar syrup rumbled my stomach. This is more than just the smell of sugar, I figured, a little puzzled.

Smell of butter melting onto hot pans wafted from across the street. I looked around to see my friend standing at one of the shops there. I tried calling out to him to catch his attention. He was fidgeting with his phone. My voice drowned in the clamour of the street vendors displaying their balloons, scarves, fidget spinners, the vehicles trying to honk their way through a mass of people. No one seemed to make way, all lost in the aroma of food, savouring the spices which hit the tongue in spots you’d forgotten existed. You know food porn exists when you see people eating while clicking pictures here, I thought, smiling to myself. I whipped out my phone and texted my friend, One of whatever you’re ordering for me too. He looked up at me almost instantaneously and gave a thumbs up before turning to the man manning the counter there to place a re-order. I made use of my phone and clicked a couple of pictures meanwhile, of the sizzling and now hissing jalebis as they turned crispy enough to savour, of the people lined up by parked cars, bikes, among the moving vehicles, paper plates and disposable glasses of various juices, shakes and tea in their hands, The ten feet wide alley was wide awake as well as sleepy – the upstairs of the residential buildings lined up on both sides seemed to have slept for the night, lights out in most of them.

“Madam, your jilebis,” he said, handing over my guilty pleasure to me. I took the plate and handed him the money. Foodgasm, here I come, I thought, rushing over to my friend across the street, the oncoming cyclist ignored.

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Graciously Yours!

P.S. : I am trying to work on my descriptive writing and if you think this is at least decent enough to garner a comment, let me know. I would love feedback, good or bad.

Why ‘Outspoken’?

The word that is doing the rounds in most of my social media accounts and now here too – ‘Outspoken’! The name of our team’s in-house public speaking forum at work.

Three weeks of effort, bonding with friends over brain wrecking sessions, hours of script editing, listening to audio recordings of speech practices at the oddest hours, reaching work early, leaving for home late – it became a habit.

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Oh shoot. Why did we begin this? Breathe, breathe.

The fright of the stage, fear of performing sub par, worrying about being a nerve wreck – not for myself, but for others. All of it so that the other people I know also feel the rush of confidence on the stage I’d once felt.

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Who’s backing out now? Will anyone even come?

Last week, I wrote about the event (a meeting for an audience of more than 80 people – we wanted bigger, better, grander) coming up. This week we are done with it. Not only did we manage to create joyous ripples of success but even five days after the event, mention of it creeps up in conversations.

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We didn’t know either we’d be so good, but thanks!

I’ve been thinking for a while now about why the event mattered so much to me. It took a lot of space on my already full plate. My manuscript editing got hampered, my work hours stretched into my sleep hours, I forgot to eat on time, I was hardly being able to compartmentalize and prioritize and these are all things that really matter to me! Then why? I thought about it – a lot. I tried explaining myself to people in a lot of fancy ways. But it is time to come clean. I have always been afraid of public speaking. I still am. I still fear I will fall short of content, or blabber too much, mostly about Elon Musk, or if I will have cold hands. Thankfully, shaking knees got chucked out of the window over the months. So yes, this is me. But I took my chances. I got pushed by a couple of people, they know well who they are, and I realized I could be less nervous and more confident. It dawned on me that with time, I could be the one addressing an audience. And I wanted the others to see, know, feel and acknowledge exactly what they and I had been missing out on for most part of our lives – the chance to let go of the fear.

I’ve always wanted to make a difference in the lives of people around me. This lets me make a difference in mine through theirs. With you, I too get better. With you, I laugh. With you, I cry. With you, I walk the talk.

And that is exactly why I did it.

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Can’t stop dancing the happy dance!

Graciously Yours!

Scarred.

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I scared you. The knowledge I had of you, scared you. I became the personal diary you never wrote. You could see the ghosts of your past reflected in my eyes, each time you looked into them. I became a reminder of what you were trying to forget. My comfort with you, scared you. You dreamt of coming out of your shell, greeting the world like you used to but the fear of being trampled upon pushed you inside again. You had lost the real you within yourself. You did not want to be reminded of it. Not by me. You thought it was easier to push me away. At least, you could still stay safe in your shell then. You wouldn’t disappoint anyone again. You wouldn’t worry about hurting anyone again. It would be just you and your memories. You wouldn’t have to owe anyone anything again. That was easier, wrong but easier. You chose to hide behind your scars. You chose to leave me behind. I was you. You were me. You chose to leave yourself behind.

Graciously Yours!

Nostalgia.

evszefhAs I stood by the the window of the balcony, my nose was pressed to it, my breath frosting the glass around my lips, I saw the winds outside swirling, droplets of water being bullied into submission, lights from the night lamps streaming through the air, making the paths of water borne air above the road, visible.

I yearned to step outside of my house and go play basketball in the rains, with the people below, kids I presumed. Their shrieks of delight floated uptil a dozen or so floors above. Instead I did something better.

I slid open the windows of the balcony, that kept the water borne winds out and was welcomed to winds so cold, no air conditioner could compete, the freshness of ice and spring combined! The hair at the nape of my neck stood in attention, out of excitement.

Back home, whenever it rained, torrentially as it was looking to today, my sister and I would sit at the window sill, legs hanging out into the dark, lightning flashing us time and again, shrieking in delight at every wave of wind that whipped through us.

As the water hit me, wave after wave, I shivered in excitement, and cold, but nonetheless not agreeing to go back inside! After all, the heat of so many days needed more time with the rains to sod off!

Staring up at the skies, blinking at every lightning flash, I felt the water seeping to the roots of my hair, the sides of my neck. I stood with my arms by my side, shaking but not willing to go into the house again. I looked down at my feet after a while. I was soaking wet from the top to bottom! Giggling, rubbing my arms, I slid the balcony windows shut, greeted with warmth in the hall. I’d missed the rains. I missed my sister more now.

Graciously Yours!

Six Word Story #11

And the six word story series is back!

Closure is overrated. Reopened wounds bleed.
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Graciously Yours!

P.S. : What should be the next six word story? Give me words! I’ll pick up themes!

The Rose.

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“Ouch,” she uttered, pulling back her finger from the rose stem. A thorn had pricked her and a drop of blood lay on her finger, perfectly placed like it always belonged there. She smiled.

“Got yourself another prick, did you now?” her husband asked, as he sat in the hall, immersed in the morning’s papers on his iPad.

“Why can’t he just buy those traditional newspapers?” she wondered. She wasn’t an e-paper girl.

“Why don’t you hire a gardener for your plants?” he asked, the umpteenth time. “You keep pricking yourself.”

She didn’t answer. The umpteenth time. He wouldn’t be able to come to terms with it.

The first time she’d pricked herself was when her first lover had brought her some from his own garden, ten years ago.They’d never gotten married. But her love for him had not died.

He loved her rose garden. He was coming for dinner tonight.

The first prick had made her squirm. Now it made her smile.

Graciously Yours!

THE ADOPTED CHILD.

I sat alone in my new room. I’d tried calling up my parents but they were unreachable. Keeping the phone aside, I lay my head on the wall backing the bed. Outside in the living room, I could hear the other girls, both my age, my new flatmates, talking and laughing. I wanted to go out too, but I didn’t know them. In fact, I didn’t know anyone in the office, or in the city. I had only one friend in the crowd of tens of thousands of people camping their lives in the city. The friend lived with her newly wedded husband and I couldn’t even think of intruding into their space at this point in time.

Someone knocked on the door. I hurried to get up and open the unlocked door. The girl at the door, Maera she was called, stood there with a smile. “Come for dinner,” Maera said. “You guys carry on,” I replied, my stomach rumbling with hunger but hesitation creeping up and taking over. I had lived in a joint family and barely ever ate alone. But I didn’t know them either. Wouldn’t it be as good as eating alone? But Maera still stood there, arms crossed, and declared, “You must be hungry with all the shifting today. Come on. I’m not letting you eat alone.”

I smiled a small smile, thanking her in my thoughts for forcing me to eat. I needed energy to carry on without my family here. That night I slept soundly on the sofa while talking to my parents, until Maera came along in the middle of the night, tip toeing so as to not wake me up and then woke me up. “Come we’ll take you to your room,” she said softly, pulling me up. On my bed, I slept better.

***

A few months had passed. I still spoke to my parents’ everyday. And I still passed out on the sofa at nights. But now Maera and I fought to sleep on the sofa! I cuddled up in her lap as Maera sat and read a book. I was busy on my phone while she ran her fingers through my hair every now and then. “You know you should adopt me,” I said. “What?” she asked, stunned, keeping her book aside. “You should adopt me!” I repeated. “Why should I adopt you?” she asked, laughing and reading again, not even paying attention to me any longer!

***

I was cranky and hungry. I had had a bad day at work. I fought with a friend. I was not even PMSing yet. Even my hormones couldn’t take the blame yet. Maera sat me down and asked me,”What happened?” “Nothing,” I replied, waiting for someone to stop me in my tirade of lashing out at the world! “Sit here,” Maera said, her face grave, sitting me down on the floor between her knees while she gave me a head massage.

Half an hour later, I had offloaded all my worldly troubles into her ears and she’d filled mine with what little of worldly trouble advice she  owned.

***

I found in her a friend, a reminder of the love of my family, a corner to my worldly troubles, a shoulder to rest on, an adopted parent! Maera found in me an adopted child. Yes, she may not admit to it, but she did.

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Dedicating this to my (almost admitted, but not yet owned) adopted child! To hours of introspective discussions, shared love for music, long unwinding walks, cuddles and head massages, getaways at 2 am and gazing starry nights! Stay happy! ❤

Graciously Yours!