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!

300521. Morning Pages

A personal account of how I am feeling (not good). And no, there’s no plan in terms of what I will do to fix it.

7:50. Even though I slept at 1030ish, I woke up groggy. Similar to yesterday. I don’t know what’s wrong. Or may be it’s good to get sleep this deep. I don’t know. But I don’t like this grogginess first thing in the morning.

It makes me unable to think and it’s hard when I login and cant write. Like today, its almost 30 minutes and I am yet to write anything.

Lemme try from the recap of yesterday.

I didn’t do anything, to be honest. I was like a zombie. I indulged in some ice cream (lost self-control :(). I slept through the day. Even took a shower in the evening. Did not walk. Did not write. Did literally nothing πŸ™ No yoga. No writing. No meditation. No call home. Need to think and reflect if I am depressed or something. I am not sure. I am lucky to have a solid mental state most days and times but this is not cool. I am not even working. For people that are paying me. If not my laziness, my moral compass (of delivering work and value to people that pay you) ensures that I deliver. And yet I have been slacking to a point that work is suffering and everyone – my partners and my team – can see that. If there’s one thing that I hate the most in this world – it’s the loss of reputation. Each action of mine is guided by up or down on this reputation. I don’t want to lose it ever. For whatever price!

Anyhow. Moving on from rant. Yesterday evening, I met some friends and then went to play the match of my life. It had to be “pushed” due to “technical” issues. Issues like M’s tablet running out of juice! Till the time we played, I was comfortably leading. But then, in a game of Ludo, things can change real fast. The battle remains unfinished. Will pick it up again sometime next week.

In other news, broke the screen of the phone again. Don’t ask me how. I can no longer afford to get it repaired. I will move to an Android phone I had got for myself when I moved to Goa. Goodbye, all those steps and expenses and all the other things I was tracking. Goodbye, all the messages and links and tabs and notes and photos that I had saved in the last few days. Goodbye, the ability to click ordinary pictures and the use of Snapspeed to edit those. Goodbye, the ability to make phone calls while walking (I don’t have headphones that connect to the 3.5 mm jack). Goodbye, feeling cool about flipping open an iPhone and being able to navigate blind. In fact, the first order of the day is to install shit on the Android phone. All my life I have stayed away from signing into an Android ecosystem with my personal email address (you never know what all they track) but I will now have to. Sigh! I guess I will get used in a few days. But, I shall be back to the Apple ecosystem as soon as I get the next client. Pray for me.

Oh, I finally found a solution to my music thingy. I will only play the 80s and 90s music for the next few days. I am hoping that would be enough for Youtube to reset the recommendation engine and start recommending more variety. The change is, I must say, refreshing. I am listening to this right now. Prior to that, I heard tracks from Taal.

Ok. Dont know what else to write. I am at 9.06. More than an hour since I started writing. And yet I managed like 200 words πŸ™

Guess this is about it for the day. Need to get back in action. Oh, here’s streaks…

  • Morning Pages / Meditations – 168
  • #aPicADay – 0
  • 10K steps a day – 0
  • OMAD – 0
  • #noCoffee – 0
  • #noCoke – 80
  • 10 mins of meditation – 0
  • #book2 – 0
  • Killer Boogie – 0
  • Surya Namaskar – 0

290521. Morning Pages

Attempt at working on #book2, with the help of a Coursera course. You may want to skip this to be honest.

8:01. I woke up a few minutes ago. I had slept at around 10 or something. So that’s 10 hours of sleep. Solid! I think I needed it cos I did not sleep well the day before. I know that this covering of sleep deficit doesn’t count per se but I have been more or less consistent with how I sleep in the last few days.

I was to fast yesterday but I could not. I ended up eating some 20 almonds and chocolate mousse. How will I ever lose weight πŸ™ But then, that’s the only thing I ate (apart from some buttermilk and no coffee). Thing is, I could have stayed off food but I got bugged and bored, to be honest. And all of you know how it goes when you are bored! More bugged than bored.

Today is an important day. I have an important match to play. On a Ludo board. Against M. She’s bet her entire piggy bank against me! Knowing her, even though it’s a piggy bank, it would have more money than I can afford but I shall play. Not for money. But for pride πŸ˜€ Lol!

Anyhow. So, the thing is, I need to discover new music. I need a change from the same Coke Studios and acoustic versions that I listen to over and over again. Plus Youtube’s algorithm doesn’t throw new music at me anymore. Can’t blame. It must be confused that how can someone like Coke Studio and Restoration Videos and CS plays and reruns of Kapil Sharma! Here’s a screenshot from my YT homepage.

Here. My YT page that I start my day with.

So, I am thinking if I want to move to Spotify and if it’s worth listening to ads every 3 tracks? What do you think I can do? How do I find new music that I would like? Help!!!

Guess that’s about it for an update. Time to write for book2. For the book2, since everything else has seemed to have failed, I am enrolling for this course on Coursera where I hope I will be consistent enough to create a novel in the next 6 months. I will write this novel in public. In open. Here. On my blog. More or less on these morning pages. Let’s see how the experiment goes.

The first exercise is to write a few paragraphs to pitch an idea. Let me write those paragraphs. Here we go…

[Start]

The Caravan Serai is a story of an eponymous watering hole on a secluded beach in the touristy city of Goa that gets embroiled in controversy after a brawl. From there on, more troubles come crashing on the place that otherwise is home to cheerful guests and hospitable locals. To a point that the 80-year old single woman that runs the place and some regular patrons are forced to team up to save the place that’s been serving patrons for over 400 years.

On the other side is a local land shark that has been eyeing the Caravan Serai for some time. More than money, his motivation is to teach the old woman a lesson who’s refused to sell the Caravan Serai despite his aggressions over the years.

While this cat and mouse chase between the two sides is played out, the readers would learn that there’s a lot more to Caravan Serai, as a place. And to the story. This includes incidents and a curse going back 400 years when Goa was still a Portuguese colony and the pirates roamed free in the oceans.

Will the old lady succeed? Or will Caravan Serai fall?

[End]

I posted it here as well, in case. Not my best attempt but I think it does tell the story in its entirety. Last year I had written many more log lines. I will try to gather them around in one place. But this is it for the time being.

So, the next exercise is to write a logline. We all know that a logline is essentially that one sentence that describes your book / film in its entirety. It talks about the plot, the characters, the world in which the project is set, the antagonists, and the stakes.

Wow. That’s a lot.
But that’s the starting point. The logline becomes a guiding light that helps you get back on track, should you digress.

They say, this is the hardest part about writing a piece of fiction. And yet I am being asked to start from here. But then, commitment kar di, to kar di!

Lemme try writing some.

1. This is the story of jealousy, greed and lust told through the lens of myriad characters spread over 400 years, each trying to fight their own inner demons and seek closure.

2. Two groups of people spar over a famous watering hole in Goa and discover their own dark pasts as a 400-year curse watches over.

3. After a brawl at a bar, a middle-aged man discovers his true purpose in life.

4. A middle-aged man drifts to Goa and stumbles bang in the middle of a brawl that opens up a can of worms that makes him realise his true destiny.

5. A middle-aged man gets embroiled in a brawl and inadvertently sets in motion a chain of events that awakens a 400-year old curse.

6. A 400-year old curse turns two best friends into enemies out to kill each other and in the process, they unleash a string of crimes and murders on the sleepy state of Goa that will not stop till one of them is dead.

I don’t know which one would I go ahead with. In fact, probably none. I will revisit this for sure. But for the assignment, I will pick the sixth one (the one that I have highlighted). I like the first one as well. But I think 6th is better.

Ok. That’s it for the day.

Need to move along and get started. More tomorrow. Here’s streaks…

  • Morning Pages / Meditations – 167
  • #aPicADay – 0
  • 10K steps a day – 2
  • OMAD – 0
  • #noCoffee – 0
  • #noCoke – 79
  • 10 mins of meditation – 0
  • #book2 – 0. Could not write.
  • Killer Boogie – 0
  • Surya Namaskar – 1. Did 12 rounds of Surya Namaskar.

290321 – Meditations

I talk about how I oscillate between wanting to hang out with people and being alone. And more such contradictions.

6:51 AM, Andheri.

Back. Was at a friend’s place in Worli for 2 days. Had lots of inaction, saw a lot of films, ate a lot of food, met a lot of friends, slept a lot, indulged in a lot of inaction. Did a lot of thugging out, like I wrote yesterday. It was nice. I could get used to a life like that πŸ™‚

And for some reason, was so spaced out that I had to be alone.

That’s the thing. I love people. I love hanging around them. I like the idea of talking to them and learning from them and feeding off their energy but for some reason, I need to be alone as well. To describe people like me, I used to use this term when I was younger – pseudosocial. I even had a blog about it back then where I would use the lens of value investing to learn more about becoming this extrovert that’s a closet introvert.

At the time I did not know what it meant.
But now I do.
And I think I am exactly that – pseudosocial.
Need to investigate this more as I go along.

The other thing that I realized is that I feel guilty when I dont work.

The work may or may not amount to a lot of output, but the day I dont spend 18 hours in front of my computer, I start thinking that I have wasted my day. Since Friday, I have been literally wasting time, even if I was meeting friends that are like family. I was. So, I had to come back to action.

And action could only happen at a place where I am alone.

Here is the thing. If I have to work better, I have to be with people that I do NOT know, if I have to get in the flow. Of course, I have this compelling need to be around people but if I have to do my work, I need to be with strangers. And I need places that are plush and AC is at 22 (no blower), tables are well-anointed, carpets are thick, people immersed in their respective work things. You know, places like a WeWork or a Starbucks. If I am with friends, family et al, I tend to get distracted and nothing ever happens. So that.

Ok. What else?

Yeah! I discovered music from Enigma yesterday. I don’t know what genre is the music but I do know that I loved their tracks. I have heard somewhere when I was a kid. I remember, in under-grad college, I even was part of a dance troupe (lol) where we would practice on one of the Enigma tracks. Bachpann se hi fighter ;P

I think this is about it. A shortpost.

Oh, I do have a mini-project that I want to take up for the whole of April, I will NOT post anything negative on these morning meditations. If you spot something negative, please DO point that out. This came out from a chat a few days ago with PM and his inputs on morning pages. Let’s see if I can improve this.

And here’s streaks…

  • Morning Pages – 108
  • #aPicADay – 88
  • 10K steps a day – 0
  • OMAD – 0
  • #noCoffee – 19
  • #noCoke – 19
  • 10 mins of meditation – 0
  • #book2 – 0

Over and out. See you guys tomorrow.

280121 – Morning Pages

Inane update. You may want to skip this one.

7:12.

Been up for a while. The fuckery of yesterday about the inability to comprehend the Farmer’s Protest is sort of fading. Most sane people I know are asking me to stay away as each side has vested interests and are working on the narratives. But then I am not sure if that’s the right way to go about it. I need to know what’s happening around me, in my country. I may be insignificant but I do have opinions and I like the idea of knowing. Vegetating is not for me.

So, the internet worked well yesterday! For a change. Thank you Design Centre. If you need a great place to work from, do check them out. I think I will go there again. Even though they are at Provorim and it takes some time to reach there but I am ok with it. At least the Internet is reliable and since they don’t have any kitchen, I am away from crap. Oh, that’s what I’ve realized. If I have no options to eat, I tend to stay away.

Goa is now reporting lovely weather. The kinds that I’d love to live in year-round. There’s a nip in the air in the morning. The afternoons are bearable and the evenings get pleasant all over again. I think if someone wants to come to Goa, this is the best time to do so! In fact, I am thinking, I should have come here at this time – all year-end tourists would have been back, all locals would have started to spring out. But then, I am here now. So that’s cool. I am also close to my self-imposed deadline of Jan 31 of making a decision about living in Goa.

I am still on the fence, to be honest. A lot depends on work. A lot depends on money. I think the Internet and mobile connection is a challenge if you want to live in Goa. But if I do decide to live here, I think I can throw money at the problem and solve it. Mobile phones, not so much. But the internet is solvable for sure. It’s only about getting 2-3 connections that are fast enough. Hope something works out that allows me to live from here. Oh, I am in Mumbai for a few days I think in the next week. I have some errands to run. Let’s see.

Oh, I am also gonna pick Shumbur.com back. I haven’t had the time to act on it at all. Among other things, the hunt for a stable internet connection has kept me busy. I don’t know more people but the ones I do, I need to engage with them, get into a conversation with them. Write on those experiences. Showcase them, get feedback and then scale efforts.

So that’s that. I don’t have more things to write in today’s morning pages. Except that I am grateful to be alive, grateful to have access to a roof, grateful to have some people that I can call friends. Damn lucky I am! Talking of luck, the Spotlight is just 2 days away and I am in jitters. I have been to so many other events in the past, have managed, arranged, and produced so many of these smallish events that this should be like the back of my hand. But no, I am in jitters. Guess cos this one is super close to my heart? See this thread.

So, I think this is about for the day. I feel as if I should write more. But I dont know what. Guess will pour some thought on #book2. But before that, today’s track is this.


And here’s #freewriting for #book2. Missed it yesterday but I am back.

Rujuta was curious. “ABC, what are those red bottles doing all over your house?”

“Oh those? They are to keep the monkeys away.” ABC sipped onto the coffee that she had just brewed.

“What do you mean?”

“This place has a lot of Monkeys. We are a jungle remember? And it’s their jungle. We are mere visitors”

“Yeah. So?”

“These red bottles keep them away.”

“How so?”

“I don’t know. But you start picking these tricks when you start living in the jungles. Not that we’ve left a lot of it. Look at all those towers coming up. I know that people want homes but at what cost? Us humans fuck everything up. But listen. Don’t let my ideas spoil what you are here for. Shumbur.com you said? Tell me more?”

“Well, Shumbur is my attempt to talk to 100 people from Goa and chronicle their journeys, lives, and all that. Plus I needed a new project and this looks and sounds like a good idea.” Rujuta said.

“So who all have you talked to?”

Rujuta couldn’t understand why this was almost the next question that everyone asked them!

“Wait. I am intrigued by these red bottles and monkeys. Do they really work? Tell me what other tricks did you pick up?”

Just then a branch snapped and some leaves rustled in the trees that Rujuta was facing. ABC had her back to those trees and she motioned her head and said, “there they are. Ask them what keeps them away.” She laughed and took a sip onto her coffee.

Rujuta noticed that even though ABC came across as a happy cheerful person, there was a tinge of sadness somewhere. She couldn’t put a finger on it but she knew. Her years and years of experience with seeing people from behind the lens had trained her to spot these patterns. She considered herself a fairly good people-watcher, but not as good as Tarana. And that was ok. Tarana had many more decades over Rujuta!

“And Nah, no more tricks. You just need to get used to the dogs and mosquitos and snakes. Oh, and those insecure vultures and sharks that want to take you for a ride.” The comment from ABC was uncalled for. But Rujuta sniffed an opportunity of a story there. These instincts are what makes a good journalist stand out from a great and she was no doubt among the greatest ones!

She knew she had to get to the bottom of it and fish out a story. If not for Shumbur, then for her curiosity. But she knew she had to be patient. So, she made a mental note of it and continued to smile at ABC.

***

Ok, that’s it. Couldnt find the right words πŸ™

Maybe tomorrow I will. Maybe tomorrow is better! Over and out.