Monday, 15 June 2015

Conquering Sleep

I don’t know if insomnia comes naturally to me or if I artificially constructed it in a bid to get more time to just do things. Pointless, useless but absolutely vital to my mental health kind of things. I do know that it was so long ago – almost a decade – that I can’t really remember anymore. What I am left with is this – a large amount of information on mostly irrelevant things, a deeply intimate knowledge of every single hour the clock chimes after midnight and what looks like chronic sleep deprivation. I always used to pride myself on my ability to get by on 4 or less hours of sleep, night after night with perhaps a couple of nights every 10 days where I crash for 10 hours straight. Yes, I can get by. I don’t know if it is sheer dint of will or it’s the same thing that makes me sit, writing out essays, studying for exams at the very last minute when most people would be succumbing to a panic attack due to the absolute bleakness of prospects. Whatever this thing is – this ability to work under pressure, to put my mind under considerable strain, to just keep going – mentally at least – it used to be an asset. Now, as I get older, the toll it takes is getting harder and harder to ignore. The irritability I can always mask by overcompensating by being cheerful and considerate. The tiredness is combated by coffee and some secret reserve of manic energy. The health issues are not immediately visible and I am human enough to ignore them. And if it all gets a bit too much, I sleep for 8 hours for a couple of nights, get rid of the immediate signs of sleep deprivation and go right back to the same old routine. I don’t know why I don’t sleep on time –even when I have all the time in the world. Maybe I don’t like being left alone with nothing but my thoughts before sleep comes. Maybe I am too addicted to mental stimulation – even it is something as simple as reading. Maybe I just want to do too much and there aren’t enough hours in the day. I used to hope that getting to the why might help me figure out how to conquer sleep. Sometimes, when I am at my most brutally honest (and in the privacy of my mind, I always am –isn’t everyone?) I think maybe that it’s just a combination of laziness and an absolute lack of self-discipline. The thing is – here I sit on a train about to head to Delhi for another busy week. I have slept maybe 2 hours. I will not be getting sleep anytime soon. I am tired but I am so used to pushing that down and out of the way that tiredness is now something that flickers at the edge of consciousness, waving feebly. My tiredness is too tired to make itself felt. I think the problem is that I opened a browser page and googled nausea+lack of sleep and ended up on a page that listed the symptoms of lack of sleep. I think it is a serious reality check when I can identify with about 22 of 33 listed symptoms – ranging from fairly regular to semi-regular. I think this is a problem.

I think blurred eyesight and common headaches and sometimes tremors in my hand are a problem. I think nausea and a weakened immune system and just general tiredness is a problem. I think the fact that my physical stamina for exercise – never great to begin with – is completely shot through. I think it’s a problem that I have vivid dreams that merge into lucid dreaming and it’s hard to tell the difference. I think it’s a problem that sometimes I have dreams that I try to wake myself out of and I can feel my body not moving because of course we are put into a paralysis by our minds when we sleep and lucid dreaming and fighting your brain in your sleep isn’t probably good for the normal processes of sleep. I think that sometimes I feel off balance (literally) because my ENT system is probably a bit effed up too is a problem. I think that I keep picking something fresh to be anxious about every few months is a problem. I think it’s a problem that my memory is a bit not great in the last few weeks and I have noticed my speech patterns being not super fluent all the time is a problem. I think that I feel exhausted and emotional and reactionary is a problem. I think that my skin is a bit pasty underneath the brownness of itself is a problem. I think it’s a problem that my blood sugar and cholesterol and blood pressure all veer towards the high end of normal. I think its a problem that my eyesight used to be perfect and is definitely getting a bit worse as we go along. I think it’s a problem I am almost scared of sleep sometimes. I think it’s a problem that occasional morbidity is something I am too familiar with now. I think it’s a problem that I can’t seem to find the energy or mental concentration to write long things anymore if they aren’t necessary, like essays. I think it’s a problem that I can’t seem to wake up to one single alarm I think it’s a problem that I am sometimes too tired for simple social interaction on social media. I think it’s a problem that I am too tired to return messages and mails and phone calls and do basic things that I need to keep putting off because I.Am.So.Tired. 

The good news is that these aren't horrifying, can’t be fixed issues. The bad news is that they could become that. The bad news is that they exist at all. The good news is that I can fix it. The bad news is I don’t know if I will. The good news is that I can see my flaws. The bad news is that I am not sure I won’t let them be till I keep on self-destructing in this most delicate and invisible of ways.
So why did I write all this down? Because I am a rational, very organized brain for all the chaos I create around me. Because if you have an enemy, even if (excuse my dramatics) the enemy is yourself, you need a battle plan. This is mine. This is a written, visceral reminder to myself about what lack of sleep is doing to me. Little by little. Every day. It’s encroaching on life. And there is nothing more I value than myself. Alive and well, preferably. So this is my battle plan. This is my blueprint of military strategies. This is my map of my strengths and weaknesses. And I am making this all public because, every military general needs accountability and second opinions and support and help in battle planning. This is how I conquer sleep. Thank you for your time.

Sunday, 14 June 2015

So Where Does Delhi Live?

So where does Delhi live?
Where does the heart of Delhi,
The real heart, the true heart of Dilli
Begin to beat.
Where does Delhi live?
At 18, with all the brashness
Of someone who had lived in a bubble
Of neatly drawn lines
I thought Delhi, ‘my’ Delhi
Lived in the meanderings of Hauz Khas.
I said,
No. I proclaimed,
That Delhi lived in pockets of North Campus
And of course, Delhi Cantt
And the great circle of CP
At Janpath and maybe the odd mall in Noida
And in some malls down South
And in the opulence of GK markets –
They have really good kathi rolls,
Go try them out.  

At 18, I was desperate to belong securely
To a place. I never had.
So I made Delhi belong to me.
At least, I tried.
Every moment since
I have fiercely declared
My belonging.
At 22, I am secure in belonging
But insecure in the breadth of Delhi.
At 22, I see Delhi inching out, opening up, engulfing in.
It lives in Gurgaon now.
And a little bit in Paschim Vihar.
It lives in the cacophony of Kashmere Gate
And in the merciless sun outside Tihar.
It lives magnificently at the India Gate Hexagon
And it lives in Gali No 10, Prem Nagar –
I can find it now.
It lives on the blue line to Vaishali
And a little bit on the Green line
(I am still unsure where it goes)

At 18, I remember dancing in the deer garden
To Delhi Drum Circles
And thinking,
Surely this is where Delhi lives.
I see now,
That Delhi does live beyond Delhi Haat and that market
Opposite IIT.
But just like at 18,
At 22 I can still not tell you
Exactly where Delhi lives.
I can tell you however,
Where Delhi began.
It began when -
An 18 year old,
Fresh to Delhi,
Turned to her friends
And said,
‘It’s 7 pm and my first day here.
 I should go home’.
And they turned to her
With matching grins
And said,
‘Stay out a little longer’.  

Friday, 5 September 2014

Furiously in Love

I have been
Too long
Too furiously
In love.
I know all
Too intimately
About the
Intricate furies
Of throats
Rubbed raw
From screaming
Furious love.
I know
Too well
The shatters
Of crockery
Flung every which where,
With furious love.
I know all about
Picking up the shards
And thrusting them
In vulnerabilities
With furious love.
I have been party
To a furious love affair
For one and twenty years
With a compelling woman.
I called her mother
And said
'I hate you, I hate you,
I hate you.
But I love you more.
I miss who you were
And I'll miss you are
But always,
I have furiously loved you.'
So the fire of love
Isn't a novelty
To me anymore.
The complexity
Of twinned emotions
Is my inheritance
From this love affair.
So when I fall
In 'love'.
The falling
On your knees
Kind of love,
I hope
It happens
Gently, softly, quietly.
I hope
I fall in love,
Like we were
Looking the other way
And love crept up
On us,
Like winter.
I hope for love
Like a quiet meditation.
A barely there
Almost invisible,
At the periphery,
Quiet love.
Because I have been
Too long
Too furiously
 Been in love
And you can
Only love like that
Thank God.

Saturday, 12 July 2014


If I had to pick
And I do so hate to choose,
What defines us more –
Songs or Cars,
I’d have to say songs.
Though cars hold
A whole heap
Of memories too.
Remember when…?
Yeah, I thought as much.
Yesterday you said
My life was riddled with clichés
Or words to that effect.
I could hear the laughter in your voice
As always,
I had to agree.
So this is rather a clichéd poem and all.
But be grateful you are getting one
(I am rather broke, so this will have to do)
Songs are how I knew you first
No, not music
Though I know that is more accurate.
But you are always, forever going to be
A mosaic –a fucked up, taunting, irritating mosaic
Of all the songs you made me listen to.
Long ago
When I didn’t recognize the chick in the mirror
I see these days
Those songs painted a picture of her.
Even that messed up Bon Jovi number.
And it is rather unfortunate
That a large part of my library
Is built by all the songs you threw at me.
It means I have shit taste in music
And need to be spoon fed good songs.
And yes, you are right once more.
So I would have liked to says cars –
Innumerable journeys in cars
Even going so very fast
On that highway
So I would cheer up
Even that
Can’t define us
As much songs do.
Because all those times
I sat and fiddled with music system
And played the most clichéd songs
(Like that sad, sad number by Muse,
God, was I a sad teenager)
As we drove through a city
That I learnt to love
(Well, a little bit)
It was the songs
That made the car journeys.
And it was you
That made all those songs.
Yesterday you were in a silly mood
And sent me the creepiest song lyrics
Suckers, you big baby.
I am counting that creepy song
As part of your mosaic too.
What, you have a problem?
You told me I always get what I want.
(See that is a clever insertion of a song lyric,-
I wanted to clarify for your Engineering brain)
So it is with songs
That I always think of you.
Yes, including Soft Kitty.
And Sherlock themes
And that really depressing
Bollywood song.
You know the one.
It’s bloody lucky
There are so many
Songs out there,
Or else,
How would I remember you?

Monday, 30 June 2014

I am Looking for a Girl

I am looking for a girl
On a train.
There isn’t anything special about her
There isn’t anything I can tell you about her
Except that
She smiles an awful lot.
She should be on this train.
She should be sitting on the window seat
And staring at fields of glimmering darkness
And she should be smiling
An awful lot.
I know her very well
You could say,
We grew up together.
I know her of old.
I am looking for a girl
On a train.
She could be sitting at the doors
She could have smiled them open
She could be sitting at open doors
And feeling the heavy wet wind on her face
She could be smiling at the glimmering darkness
And thinking about jumping out
To see if she could fly
I am looking for a girl
On a train.
She’ll be listening to music
Turned up all the way
And she might ignore you
Smiling all the while.
She’ll care less than I do
But will love more than I can
She’ll laugh less than I do
But will dance more than I can
She’ll have seen less than me
But will fly further than I can
She’ll have done less than me
But will do more than I can
And you’ll know her from me
Because she smiles more than me
An awful lot more.
I am looking for a girl
On a train.  

Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Spring Adventures

I wish I could
The day
Spring came
But the Scottish Spring
Is capricious like that.
I don't know
If it came
In the sudden
Bloom of
Yellow flowers
Or the glory
Of pink trees.
Or the sharp rain
That tasted better
When shared
On your
Laughing lips.
Spring has always
Been rather dangerous.
It calls for
Cheeky grins
And adventures.
Spring springs
Deeply into
And I am
Running away
The sweet, sibilant
Sounds of spring.
This spring
I didn't run.
I stayed.
Oh boy, I stayed.
And let adventure
Kiss me
On my doorstep.
Spring laughed
At my springing heart
And bluffed
Sunshine my way.
I didn't run.
I stayed.
This spring, I stayed
And let
Spring Adventures come my way.

Thursday, 24 April 2014


Cliches are so,
For a reason .
And really, babe
When the light
Catches you right
You shine
Are sublime
Like a,
What shall we call it?
Like a,
So that's a cliche
Yes or no?
Castle tops
Are cliches too.
Let's do it anyway
Or maybe
Because of it
Rain is cliche
But this was
A mere drizzle.
Tree list
A bit much
To the left
Lean up
Against them,
Just so.
That's cliche
But it's
The kind
I'm awfully
Partial too.
Cliches come
Riding down
In hordes
And one cliche
That's all about
How we crash and burn.
Let's shred that one
To tiny bits
And kiss
On the remains.
In a very
Sort of a way.