Monday, July 30, 2012


Soledad in Spanish is a lovely word, because it encompasses solitude and loneliness. I've always felt that the relationship between the two is most interesting.

Last afternoon, I drove 25km to MW's house, because I haven't seen him in ages and I was hoping to man up and have a chat with him. He was writing, and I was curled up on a sofa, reading this book, for about three hours. At that point, another friend dropped in and we had a quiet chat, which eventually got MW out of his writing frenzy and he joined in. After friend left, MW went back to work, but also began to talk and then we spent the next couple of hours sporadically talking and sitting about quietly. Then he looked up from his laptop and said: 'I hope you didn't get bored.'
I laughed and said, no of course not. 'Why are you treating me like a guest?'
No, he replied, I just don't understand how you could come all the way here and sit and read a book. I'd never do that--I'd stay home and read it!

Which is when I had to explain to him that sitting in companiable silence with another person, each of us doing our own thing, is exactly what is missing in my life. Amma always found it bizarre that Dragon and I would travel vast distances to sit in the same room and read different books. But to me that is the epitome of not being alone. It means that your life is settled enough that you don't need to be in the frenzied active active  space of social interaction. It reminds me hours spent in a friends house in Hyderabad on weekends, reading a book while everyone watched TV or slept. It reminds me of family vacations where everyone takes communal naps. It symbolises the happiest safest least critical or judgemental place there is.

Which brings me to how funny it is how different people are in their interpretations of solitude and loneliness.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Just Keep Swimming

So new and improved post-trip mid-fog MinCat is trying to make some changes.

Don't be such a doormat.
Well, today I tried. There was an incident with MW recently that upset me a lot. In true DoormaCat style I didn't say anything much about it, not even along the lines of my own much vaunted must-articulate-for-acknowledgement theory of making peace with life and people. It wasn't a really big deal, and a lot of my own hurt was a result of the fog, but I needed much prodding from The Bride and Glare to say anything at all--mainly because ever since the Dragon I've been terrified people will always walk away. I did eventually talk about it, but not really in a serious stand up for myself way, or what you did really hurt me way, but I did manage to actually say it upset me when the upsetness was not the point of the conversation.

Do something about the weight
SERIOUSLY!!! Not doing too well with that so far...but tomorrow (hopefully) it all begins.

This one I've been doing okay with. I am (of course) trying to write a book, and to revive the blog, which is why this rather pointless I-brushed-my-teeth-this-morning kind of post. Here's hoping some discipline will come in.

Bring back the mojo
Which has already been accomplished, whether because of rain, hormones, alcohol or my dear friend I have not seen in ages, around whom surreal things happen I don't know.

Find an interest outside of work
I'm hoping to work on an unusual project, which will also get me some moolah so yay to that. If it doesn't come through I'll go back to dancing or something. One of my friends, whom we shall refer to as Mentor, told me that my problem was that all I do is work, talk about work, think about work, and then hang out with people. He does have a point. But the question is, what? Photography has officially died. Dancing requires a partner and spending money I don't have. I could try and volunteer teach or something. Hmmm...

Saturday, July 28, 2012

The Rational-Emotional Disconnect

You know how sometimes someone does something that hurts you (like a friend who you haven't seen in a month comes to your birthday party and then wants to leave soon after, and isn't particularly nice to you, and then calls you about making a plan to do something nice for someone else's birthday) but then you know, rationally, that it's not a big deal (being nice is not their thing, it's not actually your birthday, and said person has warned you several time that they are thoughtless, and you know they are in a tantrum mood and therefore what to expect from them). At this point, you are upset. But you also know that saying something will get you branded as irrational.

Then there's this scenario, where someone does something that irritates or annoys you intensely (your parents are stressing out about someone you're seeing), and while you know they mean it for the best (you have had a series of bad relationships, said person is insolvent or from a vastly different background). Again, you are upset, and again you know that people will keep throwing logic at you.

I was thinking about this once, well okay I was thinking about how often I am upset but I can't get past it because I can't do or say anything because I am a rational person, an 'adult' and I like to think I can and do behave in a rational manner. This often leaves me feeling very frustrated. So, when Dragon picked BBot, I had this whole thing where I was choking in misery, and when I was talking to Disco Dancer about it he really upset me because he insisted on saying, well, she is an adult, she made a choice, you can't dictate how long it takes someone to attach to someone, or blame them for who they choose. Which were all very valid points, point, moreover, that I kept making to myself. Then why did it make me cry?

It occurred to me that everyone operates on two parallel levels--the rational level and the emotional level. As we get older we tend to start privielging the rational level over the emotional one (to wit, you can't stamp your foot and demand that you be important to someone--you are or you're not. But it still hurts like the BLAZES.). So then we discard, nay ignore, the emotional response, because the rational one is the one that will give us the right behaviour in the end.

The problem is, there has to be a balance, and unless the rational and emotional level are both acknowledged and dealt with, you can't really get past the hurt completely--you become harder, cynical, whatever. And, while it is true that most of the time the rational level is right, this does not mean that the emotional response doesn't exist. (We tend to flagellate ourselves for even having an emotional response usually.) So when you're dating, and a person behaves a certain way, you beat yourself up saying, see? You KNEW they'be a jerk. Then why did you have to be stupid and get attached? Now deal with this shit and move on.

I call this the Rational Emotional Disconnect, and it is the single most debilitating problem I have with all the things I do in my life. Until I can align the two levels and their responses I find that I simply can't get past things that happen to me.

For the longest time I thought the RED was only one way--you have an emotional response and you suppress it. But then it struck me, that often, once you're in a relationship with someone, you start to privilege the emotional over the rational. If you love me you should know better. You know, some days it's not that your partner doesn't love you, it's that they're having a shitty day, or they're tired, or stressed, or you didn't communicate your upsetness. So the rational response has to be heard too before anything can be done.

I've started to try and do this thing now where, when I'm upset, I sit down and think it all through, all the emotional stuff and the rational stuff. I say it to myself, or to a friend (read, The Bride), and then, once I've exorcised the reaction as it were, I can stand back and figure out which was what response and which one is the better one to use in this situation. And let's not assume the rational one is always best--sometimes an emotional response is what the other person needs from you--but then we all train ourselves to deny emotional responses so much that we can't bring them out, which then makes the other person feel bad and suppress theirs and the endless cycle of people are so cold begins.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Like Lau Love

So, while discussing Mr Darcy*, MinCat's latest I-think-I'm-in-love-with-him, with The Bride, I came up with this theory of love. It all began when I went to an event involving a friend I have had one very unexpected and positively delightful drunken encounter with--an encounter never referred to again, which is a bit sad.

Now, despite the strong feelings I have for Mr Darcy, I am never quite sure what they are. Sometimes I look at him and it reduces me to that post. Sometimes I want to smack him. Sometimes I think that he is so different from me, it could never work, and yet this is exactly what I love about him--we are complementary. Sometimes I think it is not that I want him, but I want to be the kind of girl that a guy like him wants. The only thing I know about him is that he makes absolutely no sense to me: I can never tell if he's serious or not, if he means what he's saying or is messing with me, and this drives me nuts--making me sometimes want him and sometimes hate him. Is it the mystery that I want to solve, not the guy I want to be with? Etc.

In all the conversations I have with The Bride on the subject of Mr Darcy, I refer to my feelings for him as the lau feelings, right from when I first realised I was in denial of said feelings. (They are the bane of my life at the moment.) Anyway, cut to said event, where I found myself finding excuses to fondly and adoringly pat that friend, and stand close to him, and sniff him. All the body language of flirting was present and accounted for. And I found that I was feeling decidedly more warm and dewy eyed than I ever do around Mr Darcy. Which made me think that I can't possibly be in love with Mr Darcy then, because when I'm in love, I don't get warm melty pit of the stomach feelings for other guys.

I proudly announced this to The Bride this morning, saying that it can't be love, it must be lau, and she promptly asked me if there was a difference between lau and love anyway? And that's when I realised that I have a beautifully graded and (then) badly articulated theory of liking and love. It goes like this: (take me by the tongue and I'll know

It all begins with like. (This works for any relationship by the way; it's my overall theory of love.) You meet someone, and you find a spark. Something about them. Sometimes it's mental chemistry, sometimes it's physical, sometimes it's a joke, or a shared interest, sometimes it's boredom--there is something. You explore it and you are surprised and happy because there is a spark. You meet again/spend more time together, and you realise it's more than a spark; it's a connection. Yay! The more time you spend together, the more connected you feel. Super! You find out things about them you like, and things you don't. As time goes by, you like them more and more, and the things you don't like fade away--they're totally worth tolerating because they come with the good stuff.

That's when you reach the extrapolation point. This is the point at which you realise that things are so awesome. You start to think, wow this is like fifty percent of this person and it's such a great connection! What would it be like if it were seventy percent? Or eighty? Or even a hundred? Then you begin to extrapolate what this person is like, what you and this person together would be like, how your relationship might be. You are now officially at the lau stage. This is where you introduce the friend as soul sibling, cosmically connected, most amazing person you know, brother from another mother, etc. This is where you think, I'm falling for this person. This could actually be it. This could be the person it all works with!

Time passes. You get to know them more. You find out more and more and like what you find out less and less. The joy of the connection starts the wear off and the annoying things come back to niggle. And then you reach the tipping point. One of several things happens:
1. You realise that the person, or the relationship, doesn't match the extrapolation, and you don't like it. So it doesn't turn into love, and fades back to like.
2. You realise the person matches the extrapolation, but your projection of what you wanted was not right, and you don't want this, so it fades back to like.
3. You realise the annoying things annoy you way more than the liking, and it changes to dislike or indifference.
4. You realise that the extrapolation doesn't match, but you like what you're getting anyway and it turns into love.
5. You realise that the extrapolation does match, and it turns into love.

 So the difference is essentially that lau is more like infatuation, and can turn into love, but not always. And once it has turned into love, it can turn back into like or even move to dislike. However, I think three things are important here:
1. The longer you are in love, the harder it is for it to switch without a catastrophic changing event (kinda like the law of conservation of momentum). Eventually you reach a place where it doesn't matter what turns up, you love the person. The kind of love can change. With BBot, for example, it went from sexual-romantic love to platonic love, but I still love him deeply.
2. The speed of conversion is often proportional to the time knowing each other, but, especially in the like to lau to love part, the time doesn't necessarily have any bearing of how fast the conversion occurs.
3. (This one is especially for me) Until you accept you love someone, it remains lau. So, until I consciously accept I love someone, it can't be love as love should be, and will not be able to give me all I want from love. Even if I really love Mr Darcy, at this point it won't have the positive effects that love would normally have on me, because I am unwilling or unable to accept it and embrace it consciously.

Phew, that turned into a bhashan!

 *This is how that nickname came about:
Me: to be honest i think the most annoying and attractive thing about is that he makes absolutely no sense to me
The Bride: does he stand next to bookcases looking aloof?
Me: hhahahahaha YES!!!! thats it he has a new nickname mr darcy
TB: hehe sounds dangerous you know how my mr. darcy story ended
Me: hahahahahaha well i dont think i would object to mr darcy calling me love of his life and proposing marriage
im just saying
but thats it exactly
he infuriates me with his aloofness and his distance and his non neediness goddammit
TB: haha
me: and his goddamn intelligence and his ability to use it
and his bloody fucking interest in things he doesnt know
and his curiosity
and worst of all his appreciation of these things in me
the intelligence and curiosity
iiiiii got it baaaaaad

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

How it changes

When I was about 16, and the internet was just taking root properly in India (and a friend and i would email each other photos of hot actors we likes ahem), I had this email address on hotmail*, that was easily confusable with another one. My uncle sent me an email about the SAT that went to this other person, who turned out to be a 3-4 year older guy in Bombay. He realised the email was important to replied saying I think you've got the wrong id (who does that anymore??), and so I wrote to say thank you. We wrote back and forth, moved to chat and then one day, he called me! On the phone! I remember it as being really late at night, but I imagine it was about 9pm. It all fizzled out in the end, but I remember how supportive my mum was about it--after all it was before teh interwebs became widespread enough to be evil.

Several years later, when I was 22 or so, I was on a poetry emailing list called minstrels, that would send you a poem a day (ah I wish someone would revive it), and often readers would send in poems they liked. I did that once, with Michael Ondaatje and once with Derek Walcott. One of those times, a guy wrote to me to tell me it was a great poem, and we began to write back and forth, and there began a very enduring friendship with one of the nicest people I have ever know. I went to Bombay to see him. It was also my first visit to Bombay and he took me to dinner somewhere nice and was very kind and big brotherly to me for three years or so. We even wrote each other GINORMOUS letters at one time. We're not terribly in touch anymore, though there is still the random sms.

This was also the time I reconnected with Oldest Friend, and we'd spend hours chatting. Then I got onto xanga, and met this group of amazing people. It was a lonely time for me, and I felt like they kept me alive. I went to Bombay and met them all. I spent HOURS chatting with them. Today, I don't really see or talk to most of them much, OF included, but they're there in the background, and they really made a difference in my life at the time.

That time around though, people thought I was weird. My family was suspicious and my friends downright mocked me. 'How can you meet people online? How can you be assured of a person until you've met them?' etc. My mother always said, if you have interests and go out you'll meet people.

Right now, the most important and interesting people in my life I have met online. CB, and through him MW (you remember them from yesterday). Also Lithium (who I am ashamed to say I was thoughtless enough to leave out, though he has been a transformative person in the past three months of my life). And today, I met a guy who is as randomly latindio as I am latindia, is in love with Colombia, and works on wildlife conservation--specifically tigers. We spent an hour and a half on the 5th floor terrace of a cafe in Hauz Khas Village tumbling over our words, leaping between languages, in our need to agree and share and just talk about all these things we have in common, parts of ourselves that we can never really share with the majority of people we know in India. It was a magical feeling**: someone in INDIA, FROM India, actually GOT it. 

My point is, CB, Lithium, Latindio, they're all people I would never have met otherwise. CB and I have a lot of friends in common, but it's only because we know each other. Lithium and I had actually met in the past but I had no idea, and I never would have expected this friend out of that meeting. And of course, Latindio. For all the gym, salsa classes, mad socializing both for work and just cos I like it, for all the effort I have put in to meet people I can connect with, it's only teh interwebs that has given them to me. I think of it as a sign of how everything is changing--the ways we keep in touch, the meaning of keeping in touch, the ways we find community and belonging; they're all changing.

 *Remember hotmail? When it was all we had? Thank the lord for progress!
**Pipe down he's clearly gay and far too young

Tuesday, July 24, 2012


I think one of the causes for my recent misery is that I feel rootless. I had serial epiphanies at the end of trip, and once I returned, which made me realize the following: What I really miss is family. This is why the despair when I think of the niece, or the need to call the parents twice a day. But family doesn’t mean necessarily blood ties—I had a family in Hyd too, which is why I miss it so much.

I do not have any sense of belonging here, even though I have many friends. I don’t see them often enough, and the ones I do see often already have their spaces of belonging and I am afraid to impose. In Delhi, I have about five good friends I see on a regular basis. They are all guys (some things never change), which makes me the ultimate bro of course (more on THAT some other time), and they are all people I have met after I moved here—most of them I’ve known since December/January. Just to recap, they are, in the order in which I met them, Favourite Colleague, Chocolate Boy, Most Bengali Guy, Mad Writer and Organized writer. FC and MBG are the fags to my hag, and they, along with CB, work with me, so I see those three about four to five days a week. MW used to be online all day and talking to me most of it, making him practically a constant, but those days are gone. OW and I have brief, erratic and very intense interactions. 

But all these friends are also well set in their own circles, which makes me often feel that I skulk on the peripheries of their lives--oo MinCat's great fun if she's here, but I wouldn't really notice if she weren't.

The problem is that CB and MW, with whom I tend to interact the most, are, unfortunately for me, the sort of thoughtless guys I like I call boys. The kind of people who, while this does not make them bad people, will remember me when they need something, not really feel that they need to express appreciation/affection in any way because I don’t demand it and because it’s not their way. The problem with this is that, while I understand some people are just like that, I need someone in my life to not be like that, and be like me, because I DO feel hurt and rejected, despite the rational understanding of the situation (more on THAT later too). And I need someone to be physically there. Which brings me back to—I feel rootless. 

One thing that did occur to me is that, just as one doesn’t have to wear high heels to be pretty; does one need a husband to find roots? Why can I not be happy with just friends etc. Well I think that’s been explained heh. I think it would help dramatically if I had an old friend I could rely on to some extent move here. But then again I am reminded of Dragon. So maybe just my parents then. Or I move back to Hyderabad. But then I do so love my job. I could try and move to the bay area…but there’s that damn job again.


Well, at least I know.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

evoL, yarP, taE*

So I got back from that dream trip last night.
That's right folks, your very own MinCat finally, FINALLY went to Colombia!
For two weeks, which felt like a lot until I got there and met all the backpackers doing six month trips. But still. I went to Colombia.
Land of aguardiente, salsa and hot men who think I'm hot!
Two weeks of city hopping, staying up till four, consuming ridiculous amounts of booze, flirting, dancing--in a nutshell, fun!

No, not really.

It hit me when I was sitting in a hostel in Cartagena (Cartagena!! historic architecture! LOTS of HOT caribbean men who love culos caribeños!), the night before my birthday, choking and fighting back tears as I talked to OW while waiting for the nice Argentine couple to come have a drink with me.

It was like that everywhere. In Bogota, as I packed to leave for Manizales. In Manizales, as I sat in the bus station waiting for the bus to Medellin. In Medellin, as I stood in a bar, all dressed up, against the wall watching as everyone talked to one another and no one talked to me. In Tayrona, as I hiked up the mountain, through the gorgeous rainforest, and saw animals right out of Gerald Durrell. In Tayrona, as I sat on the second most beautiful beach I've ever seen, with the sun setting, the stars rising and a hammock awaiting me atop the cliff. In Bogota as I made a really bad but much appreciated Indian dinner for my friends, so I could turn thirty not completely alone. In Bogota, as I finally got drunk and danced at my friend's birthday party.

I went to my phone, as a live vallenato trio performed in the next room, and every single person there was drunk and dancing, and I wrote (yet another) self-indulgent email to The Bride (god bless her patience), about how I must be boy repellent, and it was quite amazing.

The next morning, I woke up and reread the email. It made me cringe. What had happened to me? Here I was, thirty, a good six months past the biggest slump I've had. Six months ago, I wouldn't have cared if a boy looked at me or not; I'd have been out there in the middle of the floor, dancing with someone. I would have asked people to dance. I would have been smashed out of my head in Medellin, partying with the lovely people I met. I would have been dancing with joy at being on that beach in Tayrona, ecstatic at having seen a peccary and a yellow-fronted amazon parrot. I would have found the couchsurfer in Cartagena and been dancing to bring in my birthday.

What has happened to me (again)?

I thought that all the fears that plague me, all the things I think can't happen or won't happen, were a direct result of where I was. I thought I was alone, and no one asked me to dance because they were stupid desi boys. I thought I always end up in the friend zone, or against the wall because no one here understands or appreciates me.

But it turns out that all this was inside my own head, and of course I took it with me. To Colombia, to New York, to Spain--it didn't matter where I went, I've dragged this chip around with me, nurturing and caressing it, holding it close and taking it to bed with me. And the only time I've ever taken my own advice, that I plentifully give out to other people, I WAS happy, I WAS in a magical place where these things disappeared into insignificance. All I have to do is really just let the goddamn chip go, look for the good things in my life (of which there are PLENTY), and live my life, as much as I can as much as I want, and not make myself feel like it is incomplete or I am waiting for anything to happen or anyone to come along.

And yeah, I had to leave India, land of epiphanies and great life-altering realizations, to figure it out.

*Do ya get it? huh huh huh?