Let’s begin, shall we?

Raise one eyebrow. 
That’s easy enough, it’s genetic.
Now, the other.
Ah,now there’s a difficulty. How can I raise the other? I contort my face. I try again. Both go up. They furrow. I try again. Both go up, comically raised in atbutham.
Again.
I try again, press my palm down on one and force the other up. I try 100,000 times. I raise one. Now, the other. There you go, now?
Do you look like one?
I look into the mirror, long and hard. Long hair, kohl-lined eyes, earrings dangling from both eyes.I raise one eyebrow, then the other. I do it rhythmically, increasing my speed to the beat of the chenda. 
Stop.
At most, a clown’s instruments to play the Fool. A veshakaran? No.
Then be that.
What?
The Fool. The Harlequin.

 


	

WeaRIng SenSIble Shoes

What are you wearing? It doesn’t matter.

Where are you going then? It doesn’t matter.

But what you’re wearing would depend on where you’re going.

It doesn’t matter!

But how are you going?

I’m going to walk it.

Then shouldn’t you wear something appropriate?

It doesn’t matter.

Your shoes might matter.

It doesn’t matter.

You might trip.

It doesn’t matter.

What if you fall, face first?

shrugs

What if you fall on your butt and you have a patch of dirt on your behind the entire time?

Then I have a patch of dirt on my behind the whole time.

People will stare. People will laugh. What if a cute guy walks by?

Then we’ll laugh together.

You might fall.

It doesn’t matter. It’s not an obstacle race.

I walked down the road, earphones in ears, bag on back,shoes on feet. I fell. Dirt on butt. Cute guy walks past. No one laughed. Someone smirked. Everyone stared.

I changed into sensible shoes, I walked on the pavement, I turned the volume down for traffic on pavement. The first clump of men stood resolutely still. I walked toward them, hoping they’d move. They stood and watched me walk toward them. I got closer.  They kept looking. One look at my shoes. Others elsewhere on my person. I reached where they stood. They got a closer look. I stepped onto the pavement and navigated around them. They resumed chatting, stray eyes fixed on my back.

I took off the earphones and kept them in my bag as I crossed the road to avoid second clump of men. One man loitered around on this side of the road. I walked toward him. He walked a little closer and stood still. I kept walking. He stood and watched as if admiring the way my pants clung fittingly to my legs. He stood mesmerised as I walked closer. He stood in front of me and then stared after me, finding my eyes staring back. He stared unblinkingly as I walked past.

I lowered bag on back and continued walking. Shoes held on tight and firm. I got to my destination, did what I had to do and walked back home. Quick trip. Barely warranted a change of shoes. But they were on and they were pink along the sides. I walked back and got stuck behind a dusty group of men. I wondered what their original hair colour was, they all sported the dusty white of cement. One turned around, then the rest. They looked, sniggered and stopped. I tried navigating around them and they walked faster. This continued for a while, till I crossed the road again.

I walked faster, bag on back, bag in hand, dust in eyes. Man on bike slows down beside me, I walk faster, he rides faster. I slow down. He rides past me,head turned completely. I marvelled at his flexibility. I fall butt first. Man rides away. Cute guy walks past. Shoes get dirty, but stay on. I walk back and don’t see more or hear anything else.

 

What city is this?

walls

What is a city?

walls

Where are the people?

walls

Where is the green, the blue and the brown?

walls

What grows here?

walls

What plagues the people here?

walls

What walls are these?

walls

i DON’t Know WHAt thE NatiONAL AntheM MEans

How many  of you Indians out there know what the lyrics of the national anthem means?(yes, hurry and Google it!)I don’t understand a word of Bangla and yes, a long time ago I might have read the translation too but I don’t remember it at all. If someone said they didn’t know the national anthem, even a five year old kid, you’d gasp and the parents would keep that poor kid awake all night memorising the jumble of words that make no sense right? Okay so I know it and I can sing it, you can question my pronunciation, but it’s all there in essence. But I don’t understand it. Does that deserve a gasp too? Perhaps it would for people in monolingual countries. So we Indians are in an odd predicament indeed. A national anthem we stand up to and sing in perfect harmony even if it is in a Karan Johar movie, in a language most of us don’t understand, still feeling patriotic(whatever that emotion might be- is patriotism an emotion?). How is music connected to language then?k3g national anthemWe learn language through associations, words that tally with an image in my head. A for apple means I see a shiny red apple in my head and hence I process the intonations of the word ‘apple’ as a logical word. A logical word- you know, when you play scrabble and you just know when someone is making up a word? That kind of thing. Which is why when we learn a new language, we translate immediately in our heads to an already established image of the new word in our mind, hence making this new jumble of words logical too. Sa se seb= A for apple= shiny red apple.

But the curious case of the national anthem is a jumble of words that have become all too familiar which correlates to no logical imagery in my head, but still makes sense because of the associative emotion. So what is this connect between language and music? How does it become a coherent whole?

National anthems have an aural politics of their own. Other than the performative aspect of it, which brings into question the ritualised motions of standing up, placing a palm on your chest, singing along, is a national anthem a genre of music in itself? The rhythm,the melody and tempo specifically designed to produce an emotion?

The idea of a national anthem is to consolidate a sense of community and solidarity, some articulate goals and others even suggest boundaries and landscape(Vindhya,Himachala,Yamuna… or And like a torrent rush, rebellious Scots we crush). How about those that produce fractures in the sense of community and a reluctance to associate to a nationhood- consider Germany’s troubled concept of the anthem. There is certainly a mixed politics to the creation and continued association with a national anthem.