Busiest Week of My Life

I’ve always been strangely obsessed by the concept of opportunity cost but here’s the way it runs in my brain these days: a finite spectrum of time with a finite capability of productivity. It’s less about the “fig tree” now. It’s less about the future and the choices that define the future. It’s more about now, this moment, this hour spent reading David Brooks’ wonderful pieces, not once but multiple times, with a gluttony later regretted because there’s a perpetual to-do list of studying and work to be accomplished and skills to be acquired and a ceaseless desire for productivity.

There’s been a Wes Anderson art show on LES since 2nd November and I have been adding and taking it off my calendar since 2nd November because that’s how busy school has kept me. Tomorrow, however, I intend to readjust all my priorities and go visit this thing. Weekend arrives with such delights and while nothing gold can stay the next two days are infinite in their offer of promises.

 

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Transition

Nights spent reading Keats, wondering if there’s a way to eat figs that isn’t so messy, summer dissolving behind my eyes. May, June, July, August, September. There’s less languorous evenings now and in the future my feet aren’t bare. I want to dream of hemlock and hawthorn but when I wake up at 3.00 am it’s from a nightmare featuring suits and people telling me to eat more.

Girl Seeking Faith

I stopped believing in God. I lost my way. Maybe there is no causal relation here.

I tell myself this: Most rational lives require no lucid theology.

One must imagine Sisyphus happy. Someday there’ll be warm diagonal light across a table, honey and saffron mixed with milk and served in a glass that would never shatter, family, home, work, swaying trees carrying the lingering scent of night jasmine, a child gently playing the harmonium while I fall asleep and grow back into myself.

What Zizek said: What makes us happy is not to get what we want. But to dream about it.

What Zizek said, shorty after: If you want to remain happy, just remain stupid.

 

What would Amy March do?

I grew up reading Little Women and my favorite character was Amy March – the oft-derided, much unloved (and later – when she married Laurie, the extremely despised) sister. The least popular of the quartet. She wasn’t a tomboy like Jo, she wasn’t “the beautiful one” like Meg, she didn’t possess Beth’s ease of selflessness. She was headstrong, feminine, concerned with propriety – the princess of the quartet.  Proper and prissy. It didn’t matter that she was no less kind and helpful than the others. No one liked Amy. Except me. (And Laurie, unfortunately for all the fans. Sorry.)

The truth, realized much later in life (as it tends to be) is that I am more of a Jo than an Amy. But that doesn’t mean I don’t still with all my girlish heart idolize her. Whenever I am feeling particularly ungraceful or awful, I ask myself “What would Amy March Do?”

From the chapter Consequences one of my favorite Amy March moments and a constant lesson in times of turmoil:

“Because they are mean is no reason why I should be. I hate such things, and though I think I’ve a right to be hurt, I don’t intend to show it. They will feel that more than angry speeches or huffy actions, won’t they, Marmee?”

“In spite of various very natural temptations to resent and retaliate, Amy adhered to her resolution all the next day, bent on conquering her enemy by kindness. She began well, thanks to a silent reminder that came to her unexpectedly, but most opportunely. As she arranged her table that morning, while the little girls were in the anteroom filling the baskets, she took up her pet production, a little book, the antique cover of which her father had found among his treasures, and in which on leaves of vellum she had beautifully illuminated different texts. As she turned the pages rich in dainty devices with very pardonable pride, her eye fell upon one verse that made her stop and think. Framed in a brilliant scrollwork of scarlet, blue and gold, with little spirits of good will helping one another up and down among the thorns and flowers, were the words, “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.”

“I ought, but I don’t,” thought Amy, as her eye went from the bright page to May’s discontented face behind the big vases, that could not hide the vacancies her pretty work had once filled. Amy stood a minute, turning the leaves in her hand, reading on each some sweet rebuke for all heartburnings and uncharitableness of spirit. Many wise and true sermons are preached us every day by unconscious ministers in street, school, office, or home. Even a fair table may become a pulpit, if it can offer the good and helpful words which are never out of season. Amy’s conscience preached her a little sermon from that text, then and there, and she did what many of us do not always do, took the sermon to heart, and straightway put it in practice.”

I ought, but I don’t.

Summertime Sadness

According to reliable sources, I was eating the best New England fried clams. Golden bites of light indeed but the only thought I’ve ever been capable of while eating clams has been of summer.

An aching nostalgia for every single childhood summer to be exact. Summer mornings spent in the river (even thought I had technically never learned to swim), my feet digging for clams, the Konkan sun– simultaneously punishing and loving, hot on my head. Climbing out with my basketful of clams – victorious and satisfied, my hair and clothes already drying by the time I crossed the narrow road between the river and the fields. I would lie in the meadow, grass stains on my rough, handmade dress (this had nothing to do with the artisanal, handspun movement which was still a decade away from blowing up and everything to do with my grandmother’s obsession with sewing and crocheting and knitting and embroidering). Every trip to the riverside was unfinished without selecting the coconut I wanted from my grandfather’s trees. A local man would climb the tree with alarming dexterity (an in demand profession in my village, one can assume) and a few minutes later I would be sipping on its fresh water, calming my nerves, rewarding my morning spent foraging.

I can still feel the light of the sun on the back of my eyelids. This was my ancestral home. The thrum of atavistic longing running through the land beneath me.

Bombay didn’t have this sun, Bombay didn’t have this summer. Bombay during heat was wet and overwhelming. A city on fire.

Sadashivgad with its bounty of great-aunts and grandfathers and cousins, its endless, empty beaches, the honeysuckle sweetness of its air was a pastoral idyll.

I can’t find it anymore.

Maybe it’s the commercialization and industrialization sweeping across the coast, but more likely it was always a place that existed in a childhood mirage.

Tagore in 1882 wrote his poem Nature’s Revenge inspired by Karwar.

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I often read this page thinking about the moment the hero ends his arc. There’s always a setting for any kind of dramatic narrative. I think this is where my childhood ends – against a backdrop of summer and a seaside town.

Now, (upon adulthood which is best described as constantly having a backlog of emails that need to be replied), the end of summer is both merciful (I won’t ever walk the streets of New York in this heat anymore) and tragic (Summer will never be this young again).

So here’s thanking sentimental mollusks and my overactive amygdala for always making it possible to take a trip down memory lane. There’ll always be summer.