Make Something Beautiful

The other day, a small traffic had piled up on the street outside our building. It usually doesn’t happen, so the honking and unrest made us go to the window to see what the fuss was all about. Turns out, one out of the two lanes was blocked by a huge fire-brigade truck so all the vehicles had to share the other lane to pass through. Two firemen were standing atop the truck and using their fire-escape stairs to rescue a pigeon that was stuck in the wires above. We were watching this rescue mission and when the pigeon was saved all of us went about our own ways. It did, however, make me happy that despite the horrors that abound us, we still live in a world where humans go out of their way to save a bird that was stuck in a wire.

As it turns out, we don’t live in that kind of a world all the time. Every single day of our lives, we have to fight for our joy. Imagine, such a small thing and yet, the tussle for it. But I digress.

I made a new friend, who, by the way, is hella cool. I met her on the ‘Friends’ section of a dating app. There is a whole other essay for Indian men on dating apps and I am sure someone has already written it. So, I will write a little about swiping right to form a friendship. Many years ago, I was told that we have to find new friends every 5 years in our lives and it stuck with me. So, after using the dating app for a while, I thought I might as well also sign up to make new friends because why the hell not? Turned out that I am not the only woman to think like that. So I met someone who “fit the bill” and we mutually decided to be each others’ friend. After a couple of months of texting and phone calls, we met the other day. When Hella Cool Girl (HC Girl) walked in to the coffee shop and I saw her, in person, without a mask, my first thought was “Wow, she’s so pretty.” (This is also how I give names to new people in my life for anonymity purposes. So, if you’re new here, you’ve just witnessed the naming of a new character on my blog.) What I have observed about some of the single women I know is how intelligent, pretty, and cool they are! If I were not heterosexual, I would date these women. It is also no surprise to me that HC Girl is one of the kindest people I know. Recently, while she was in her hometown and we were in touch, she paid attention to some of the things I said or displayed online, and she brought me gifts based on what she thought I would like. I am constantly awed by people’s ability to be kind and considerate. I feel blessed to have such friends who have deliberately agreed to reciprocate friendship which usually was a relationship we found in our midst because of shared spaces. To consciously choose to be someone’s friend is a gift we give to ourselves.

Writing about meeting new people, I’ve also noticed that summarising my life journey during these introductions has been taking me back to some old places. In these conversations, when someone usually asks “What do you like to do apart from work?” I always say “I like to write and someday, I want to be a writer.” Then, it always makes me wonder how the dreams I have had when I was much younger have been forgotten in the pandemic. Talking to someone about their past lives is like dusting an old carpet under the winter sun. It always makes us cough but also brings out a whole new pattern that had been put away. Things, of course, are much better in our cities these days wrt to the virus. So, maybe, we can now focus on the abstract which, if we build out, has the capacity to tangibly add meaning to our lives. The fact that we don’t have to constantly worry about being infected or find oxygen or grieve death around us is freeing. Who would have thought that someday we would talk about our dreams? That they would come out of hiding?

One of my friends had a heart-scare last week and they’re doing okay now. It gets my goat how casually we are starting to treat our own lives. If we think that sitting at home, avoiding social contact, making a lot of money, and deciding to not engage in public lives is going to make the concept of “living” easier, then we have grossly misunderstood what it means to be human, how human civilisation has survived, and man has gone to the moon (this is a metaphor, of course). Co-operation, that’s how. I find that the romanticisation of living virtually and becoming islands is like dating that toxic young man whose favourite book of fiction is ‘The Fountainhead’. It is so messed up. There’s so much to be said about “going to work” and it can be said in more measured, intersectional ways, but we are not ready to have that conversation as a society. We are obviously ready to hold onto our biases, consume stress like it is the elixir of life, substitute value for money, and disengage from the world we physically live in. I used to have a job where we sold work saying we are doing it for the “people”. Trust me when I say this, very few people have a point of view on what it means to build spaces for people to live in and work in. Urban loneliness, serious diseases, and mental health issues are some of the realities that none of us are prepared for. The world doesn’t get better by stepping outside of it. We are not here to be people on the outside looking in.

Currently, I find myself, once again, in the situation to save my books from being given away to the raddi or a local library and save them for posterity. I am holding out for the future where I will be able to build myself a small library I have always hoped for. If you have any ideas on how to save my books interim, send them my way. I’ve always received help from the people on the Internet. Meanwhile, I am also glad I can finally meet the people I have only virtually known. It makes me happy to know that despite the travails of the last two years, thanks to the Internet, I met wonderful people who have helped me stay sane and were kind to me. It is amazing how humans come out of tragedy with some amount of beauty.

Speaking of which, just yesterday I learnt that while the Russians have had to abandon their tanks on Ukrainian soil due to the melted ice + mud, the Ukrainian farmers have been taking these tanks and learning how to operate them. I know there is a war going on but when I heard about it I laughed so much. I was imagining farmers getting into war tanks and learning to operate them and all I could think is that the world that we live in is such a bizarre and messed up and beautiful place. It is such a horror and an honour to be alive.

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