An Ode to She – Elvis Costello

An ode to one of the best pieces of music ever created and ever featured in a film! From the lens of a hopeless romantic that refuses to lose hope!

So in the morning yesterday a few days ago, a friend sent me this Instagram reel. I saw it, with audio. And my jaw dropped to the floor.

Someone has taken the track that I love like mad and put it on a happy scene of a woman running in a tight alley. The camera is close on her tail, she’s consumed by her happiness and everyone in the scene is sort of coming together to make her experience even more beautiful! You know, the shared celebrations that the primal us want?

This has to be one of the most beautiful portraits of a woman I’ve ever seen.
Ever.
In my life.

Please please please please see it.
It’s at instagram.com/p/CQJzn9nn_rI.
It’s a pity I can’t seem to embed it.

Ok. Deep breath.

So, She.
Here.
Listen to it, if you want to.

She, from Notting Hill

Lemme talk about it.

My memory fails me but I think I first saw heard experienced this track when I saw Notting Hill all those years ago. I dont recall when was this, to be honest, but I must’ve been very very young. However, I remember that I definitely lived in a lower-middle-class part of Delhi. English was a language of the elites and thus aspirational. English was still making inroads into daily parlance. It was considered cool to listen to English music. The only music to trickle to my remote corner of Delhi was the pop chartbusters like Backstreet Boys, Bryan Adams, and others. No, the rock music scene around me was limited to one or two sightings of a Bon Jovi fan. And in rarest of the rare cases, Sweet Child O Mine by Guns N’ Roses.

So, back then, being able to namedrop an English track immediately elevated your status. It was a sure-shot way to become an anomaly in the group of kids that were otherwise stuck on Super Commando Dhruv and Lucky Ali and all that. You were perceived as cool. You’d get more “followers” to flock at you. You’d become that alpha that every kid at that age aspires to be. All this, without trying if you could blabber names of some English songs.

This is when I probably first heard music from Notting Hill. It would have been a pirated version of the film (with subtitles downloaded separately), this was well before the unlimited Jio’d Internet days.

Oh, those days. I remember I got my first computer in 1999 something and we would have dial-up connections and floppy disks and pen-drives with less than 1 MB of capacity. So watching films meant firing up Windows Media Player. Even Winamp! Films were still in CDs that you could rent from various holes in the walls. Often the print was grainy and often the film would get stuck, you know, scratches on the disks. Damn, those days. Of anticipation. Of hope. Of pain. Of wait.

Ok. I digressed. Coming back.

So I would have seen this film on a computer screen. Sometime around 2003 when I was finishing college and preparing for CAT (and thus trying to deck up on English). It’s been almost 2 decades since I’ve remained hooked to the film!

I would’ve seen this film at least a hundred times, if not more. I have literally rattofied the film. I remember the dialogues and scenes and expressions and costumes and the props that you place next to the actors in those complicated set scenes and everything else about the film.

Thing is, back then, when I first saw this film (and heard music from this film), I would have ignored “She” for sure. For it competed with the more famous “When you say nothing at all” by Ronan Keating / Boyzone. It was the track that each “just a girl” that stood in front of a boy asking him to love her would have heard on loop. And imagined a love as warm, as goofy, and as (im)perfect as that of Anna and Will.

Heck, I have pictured myself in that garden, on the June and Joseph bench, under the trees, on a clear, moonless, starry night. I continue to do so to date. Before I die I want to be in that setting. With the love of my life.

Ok. Digressed again.

So coming back. Fast forward a few years.

To this day and age.

With time, I have traveled a bit, seen a bit of life, and probably evolved a bit. I’ve seen Notting Hill again. With fresher eyes and a deeper understanding of the idea of love, friendship, and relationships. And it is one of these recent viewings that I started to appreciate “She” a lot more.

I now understand the contrasts that Costello talks about. I can now decipher the abstraction of shades from the extremes. You know, pleasure or regret, heaven or hell, famine or feast, and many more.

I now know that “She” is about her. The woman that’s rarer than you. The one that makes you feel alive. The one that makes you want to survive. The one you can stay #foreverAlone for, for decades. The one that’s probably the love that you cannot hope to last! And among other things, the one that you will kill (or die) to see the smile on the face of.

In case you missed, I lifted parts of the lyrics to write the parts above.

The thing is, while the track by itself is brilliant, the way it’s been used in Notting Hill makes it 100x better. The song appears right at the end of the film.

This is when Anna and Will have had their ups and downs and right before the all is lost moment.

In there, Will asks Anna a fairly complex, funny, and irreverant question. It is loaded with their inside joke. No one but the two of them can make sense of it.

Will has used way too many words, in a room full of people that use words to make their living. While the meaning was seemingly lost on most of those there, Will’s lavish use of words did exactly what he wanted to! Communicate love.

Anna has a measured response to Will’s question. She is guarded. Probably hoping against hope that things will turn in their favour.

This is when another journalist asks a simple, innocuous, harmless question – “Anna, How long do you plan to stay back in England?”

She replies with one word. “Indefinitely.”

If she had use even one more word at that time, it would have killed the entire film. To a point that you’d not want to even see the fim.

This is the instant when they play “She”.

And it starts the recap of the Will and Anna story. And probably the best 3-minutes of cinema ever shot!

In the entire scene, none of the actors speak a single line. Anna is merely smiling, with a twinkle in her eyes and that unmistakable mole on her lips. Will is merely gawking at her beauty. In a room full of strangers, and the ones that have a keen eye, the two lovers speak to each other and pass on more words than the longest of love letters have ever done!

This is when I start pining for love like that.
A “She” like that.
And wants me to be worthy of “She” like that.

Here it is. All over again. Do see it.

She, Elvis Costello. From Notting Hill.

Oh, and if you are curious, I’ve been with some really remarkable women over the years. It has to be me that was unable to keep their attention and interest. Of course, I remain hopeful. For a “She”.

Thanks for reading and indulging!

The Money Plant Companionship

What if I told you that a money plant mimics the way my life moves? Would would believe it? Wait. Why should you even? Read on to find out.

Again, a day where I don’t have anything specific to write about. Well, except, this! And since there is nothing else to write about, I am going to talk about it. After all, I have committed to writing for 30 minutes every day for 30 days.

Like I said yesterday, I want to be attached to as few things as possible. And I want to own as limited things as possible. And as a result, over the next few days, I will throw / discard most of the things I own.

Of the things that I will retain is this money plant.

3

Why?

Lemme tell you the backstory.

To be honest, I don’t know when I got this plant. Or how I got this plant. Maybe someone gifted this to me? Or may be my sis left this behind when she moved back to Delhi 3 years ago. But I do know that I have retained this plant for at least 4 years now and I have moved this particular plant every time I have moved houses. And over these four years, I have seen the plant flourish and I have seen it withered down to just 2 leaves. And each time, the state of the plant has sort of mirrored the state of my life!

In fact, I think, like in the Last Leaf (a masterpiece by O Henry) the way protagonist attaches her life to the leaf on a tree, I believe my fortune is attached to the leaves on this money plant.

I am serious. I have data to prove it. Since I have started tracking, the plant has hardly had any leaves and my life has been topsy-turvy. In fact, I don’t recall when was the last when the plant really flourish. And honestly, I don’t remember when was the last time I flourished. I mean I have had a fairly decent life, but I haven’t really flourished per se.

For a large part of the past 2 months, the plant had just 2 leaves.

But as I was prepping to move on to a new one, I spotted another leaf. The third one. So, there is an improvement. And thus, I am hopeful that the new house will be luckier than the previous one. I hope the plant goes back to having many more leaves. May be this year on, it will flourish again? May be I will flourish again?

Or, may be I am merely being a fool and I am confusing causation to correlation What do you think?

This post is a part of 30 minutes every day for 30 days project. This was Day 8. Other posts are at 301031100111021103110411, 0511.

PS: Realised that the trouble with writing AND publishing every day is that I hardly get any time to edit. And thus a lot of bugs slip through. Need to find a way out. Any ideas anyone?

400102 to 400053

So, the annual ritual of changing homes just happened all over again.

This time, I moved from 400102 to 400053. The last time, I moved from there to here.

The drop happened not in just the Pincode but also in the lifestyle. From a 2 bedroom house to a 1 bedroom. From “lavish” (by Mumbai standards) to a cramped space that people in Mumbai are used to. From a newly constructed building to a tower that is probably older than me!

Like all moves in life, this one is also full of excitement, anxiousness, sadness, happiness, and most importantly, hope! And even though I have downgraded things, I remain hopeful that the tide shall turn and I will see that hockey-stick chart again. Let’s see when.

Meanwhile, since this is a post in the 30 minutes of writing every day for 30 days thing that I am doing, lemme try to write more. The announcement of the move took me less than three minutes! And lemme try to write more about the move.

So as I was getting my things moved, I realized, that each time I move, I am surprised by the number of things I own.

Why?

Well for starters, I have always believed in minimalism, and yet I have a billion things. I mean look at the pictures below! The house is anyway tiny with all these things, I hardly have any space to walk around. It’s like living in a walk-in closet! #note2self – throw things so that I can move in just a car. I dont know how I’d discard them books though 🙁

Plus, I anyway don’t buy too many things. I have one pair of denim pants. I have two pairs of shoes. No fancy accessories. And yet I have some million boxes of things.

The other thing that I am surprised at is that while I was packing, I was bereft of any emotion about the place where I lived for a year. I am, after all, quitting it for good. After things were moved out, it felt that the soul of the house was sort of stripped away. It looked like a naked body, sans any character. And yet, I felt no emotions at all. I should’ve ideally welled up. I even tried. I imagined all the good things and the bad that came along with the house. But I could not bring myself to tears.

Which is, good! The idea is to not get attached to things!

Ok, lemme pick the thread on the bit about quitting the house for good. And while I do that, how about I replace the house with a person and my occupation of the house as companionship with that person? Now, I would’ve ideally liked to stay in the house for longer (probably, till eternity) but because I could no longer afford the rent, I had to move out. Similarly, I could have people that I want to stay together with forever (say, a girlfriend) but due to some circumstances (say, differences), she and I have to move away. The million-dollar question is, when that happens, would I continue to be bereft of emotions?

Wait. Is this comparison even valid? Is this some coherence in my personality where I am afraid of attaching myself to people and things? What am I afraid of? What stops me from developing an attachment to people and / or things?

And, if not attached, am really detached? There are people I refuse to give up on, despite the unrequited connections I have with them. There are things that I refuse to throw away even though I have not touched them in ages. Is this how detachment supposed to work? Can I ever be that nomad that I have always craved to become? And if that’s what I crave for, where would I land up when I want to be home? What is that identity that I must attach myself to?

No, I don’t have answers.

And no, I don’t think of these things on a regular, typical day. And it’s funny that shifting houses is bringing these questions to the top of the head that’s got no hair and all meddled ideas!

Of course, the answers remain elusive. May be they’d come in one such shift? Till then, over and out.

This post is a part of 30 minutes everyday for 30 days project. This was Day 7. Other posts are at 30103110011102110311, 0411.

May you live in interesting times!

A rant on how “interesting” the 5th day of ’30 minutes of writing for 30 days’ project was. Read at peril.

This is the 5th day of this new project where I try and write every day for 30 minutes. As I start writing this, it is 11:17 PM (ended at 11:54 – well over 30) and I don’t have a lot of time (have some work) and thus I may not get 30 minutes under the belt. Plus, what I have to say is anyway not going to take much. So let’s see.

Today was an “interesting” day. For a lot of reasons. Lemme see if I can describe the reasons for interestingness in an interesting manner so as to do justice to the grandeur of this day.

A. The Helping Hand

For starters, three different people asked me to help them today.

One wanted help on writing, second on managing time, and third on reaching his life purpose. I know these three people from three different circles (one from MDI, second from Twitter, and third from work). Each lives in a different city.

And yet each of these people thought that I could help them with their respective predicaments.

While I am not sure I can help them, but I am glad to know that people have started to recognize me as someone they could reach out to when they need help. This is definitely a step in the direction of my #lifeGoal! So, yay!

B. The Good and The Bad and The Resolve

I have recently picked a few gigs where I am giving away fixed hours in exchange for money (counter-intuitive to every advice that I have ever held dear about how to get rich). And even though its not even been a month, I can clearly see why its a bad idea. And why its a good idea. Lemme elaborate.

Bad

I believe life is far larger and far meaningful than wasting time by doing things that don’t matter (to you!). Such as, wasting an entire day at an office, only to pick a laptop! And spending your night, working on a presentation that did not require any urgency per se.

Good

I had to pick these gigs cos the work that gave me the money to live a fairly good life? That has dried up (thank you, COVID. And thank you, SG for some really stupid decisions). And if I did not have these “stable” businesses wanting to hire explorers like me, we’d die hungry.

And I also appreciate that there may be people that like the idea of “stable” work that sucks their soul, in exchange for money that allows them to experience grand things in life on the weekends. Even though it is not for me, it’s not a bad tradeoff if you ask me.

So yeah, bad and good.

The resolve?

Well, I promise that I will get back to a point where I work for anyone but myself. The way things are, I don’t think that will happen before a year and each day in the year would be, well, interesting. I’d ideally love to run away from it as fast as a rat runs away from a ship that has hit an iceberg!

But I promise to myself that I would stay for at least a year (if not more). And I will use each “interesting” day to make my resolve stronger. And my hustler, harder. All in hopes that I don’t ever have to see these interesting times again.

C. The Notches

I wore denims and a formal shirt and sports shoes. My typical work attire. Or any formal occasion attire for that matter. And while I did that, I also wore a belt and I realised that I have put on so much weight that I need to add a notch on the belt.

While I should be gunning for removing notches from the belt, here I am, growing (quite literally) in the other direction. When this lockdown thingy started, I had resolved (where did I hear this word recently?) to lose weight, learn guitar, finish #book2 and I dont know what else. Of all the goals, I was fairly confident of losing weight. After all, I am not a foodie. Wait, lemme munch onto this Egg Roll that I just ordered. So, yeah, I am not a foodie and I could have lost weight but I put on weight! And I need to do something about it.

That’s it. That’s the third part. Nothing more. Nothing less. A reminder to self that I need to lose weight.

***

So yeah. This is for the post of the day. A ranty one. But at least I shipped. After all, real artists ship! Even on interesting days.

PS: If someone wishes you that “may you live in interesting times“, you now know what to do. Don’t you?

This is part of the ’30 posts in 30 days’ project. This was Day 5. Other posts are at 301031100111, 0211