I seem to cringe a lot reading old emails, old blogposts, old tweets, or looking at old photographs and videos. Everyone does, I suppose. My past self seems alien to me at some level, and embarrassing at another. It’ll be a while before that me gets the dignity of being a sepia-tinted memory I reminisce fondly about. On other occasions, I wonder where my idealistic past self has gone. Where the unbridled passion is, where the cynicism was still fresh and untainted by jadedness. Ultimately, it boils down to these things I used to do and don’t anymore.
- Watch movies: Until a year ago, my primary form of entertainment in the USA used to be watching movies. I had the pleasure of like-minded friends who’d make sure I caught every last Pixar movie, every blockbuster that came out, every thriller worth watching. Before that, there were endless hours in front of the TV at home, on World Movies or Sony Pix, watching a twisted Korean movie or a sweet Thai movie. And innumerable Kannada and Tamil movies the names of which I’ve forgotten, but the plotlines I clearly remember. I don’t do that much anymore. My aim in life has been to not plonk myself in front of a screen every evening for the past year. So yeah, I do Netflix, but it doesn’t have the randomness of TV. There isn’t anymore that wonder of a movie you have no idea about. The blind acceptance of whatever comes your way. When on watching a bad movie you don’t consider it two hours wasted. I ought to get back to doing something like that. It makes me explore things I wouldn’t have otherwise.
- Read books: My reading habit has been the worst casualty of my habit of never coming home until it’s obscenely close to bedtime. I don’t get to read on my commute because it’s rather short and involves changing trains. I don’t own a tablet, and until recently I didn’t own many books because they are a burden when you’re constantly moving house. NYPL rocks, but I haven’t really taken much advantage of it.
That said, I don’t feel the quality of my life dipping that much. There’s enough I get to read on the Internet everyday. Shorter pieces, certainly, but they are so much more current, more elegantly structured, easily digestible. You find it easier to discuss those with friends.
Of course, I do miss the sharp plotting, foreshadowing, and such storytelling techniques, as well as the long form, and my life would be much richer with these things than without. But I notice I’m not so anal about reading as I used to be before. I don’t judge people for not owning a full bookcase anymore. While I still squeal with pleasure at beautiful bookends, I don’t find myself sharing pictures of fancy bookcases and libraries anymore. All those things that came with a reading habit – good grammar, structured thinking, an air of curiosity, lots of worldly information – they now come even without a reading habit. And that’s okay.
- Read Indian English writing: This I completely don’t regret. I used to be fascinated by any and all Indian authors who wrote in English. I now realize most of them wrote tripe they themselves didn’t understand. I don’t really enjoy reading the NRI writers’ works about India. Their perspective reeks of misunderstanding and misplaced romanticizing. I haven’t felt many Indian authors have their perspective be grounded in reality. And when it is, it isn’t the sort of reality I can connect with. Either that their perspective is completely unlike mine, or they write so badly that they fail to communicate their perspective to me in a way that I can love it. They all take themselves and their Indianness too seriously for my liking. I know there are folks who have a more chilled out perspective, but they don’t write well enough for me.
I’m quite sick of arts-student type rhetoric-filled gimmickry-filled writing. I just want to read some genuine feeling, unadorned, raw, freeflowing yet somehow structured because that’s how the author’s mind works or they’ve taken the trouble to organize their thoughts. It feels fake otherwise.
Also, I’m done, done with Magic Realism and a thousand new controversies won’t get me to read Salman Rushdie again.
- Outrage: I’ll never have long discussions with people about their views on some random topic that doesn’t directly affect me again. I’ve done that enough. A good number of times on this blog. My past levels of passion on various useless topics makes me cringe a little. I don’t anymore care if someone else is wrong on the internet or in real life. It’s a serious waste of good energy that can go into a few hours’ more sleep.
- Outrage w.r.t my rightwingery: I’m still on the Indian Right, politically. What I am not however is a fan of endless foolhardiness. The BJP goes out of its way to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. They can’t be arsed to clean up their public image. They can’t put a spin on things such that they aren’t putting their feet in their mouths. Yes, the media is harsh on them, but that should only be an impetus to get better PR. And I’ve never agreed with them on their social conservatism. Yeah, maybe the main politicians don’t even think of social conservatism, but they don’t rein in the ones who do spout social conservatism. The endless misogyny, the slutshaming, the homophobia… I can’t stand for any of this. If there’s an alternative that’s socially progressive and gutsy fiscally and in other aspects, I’d gladly vote for them. Again, the problem is, too much rhetoric, not enough action items.
- Whine about not travelling enough: Alright I’ll come out and say it. I’m glad to finally admit to myself that I think travelling is overrated. I do like exploring new places, but I do also like quietly listening to music at home.
But there’s also Things I Wish I Did More:
- Code more
- Write more – sketches, fiction… blogging frequency’s okay.
- Read more textbooks. There’s just so much to learn, and so many basics I feel I’ve messed up on!
- Swim more, ice-skate.
- Improv more. Somehow, life happened since October and I haven’t been doing much improv. I ought to get back to it!
So many cool things. So little time. And so much goofing off waiting for me. Sigh