There’s this word, or idea that I like. Journey. Odyssey. We are travelers in time and space, all seeking, knowingly, or unknowingly our purpose in life. Pilgrimage. That’s another word. Draupadi and her five husbands knew this when they embarked on the final journey of their lives (perhaps a lifelong path of wandering homelessness taught them that) – the one we call the ‘Mahaprasthan’- the Great Exit. And that’s true too. We journey to a purpose while also moving onwards towards the final leave-taking. Estragon and Vladimir were travelers too, even if all they did was wait beneath a dead tree.

But what if our paths are ellipses, an Ouroboros circling Godot? What if we were all just lonely planets lost in our own orbits of individual, inexplicable sorrows? And the hope of meaning and purpose, like the sun, gives us light and life-sustaining warmth, but we can never really touch it, and getting too close would burn and blind us, and so it’s much, much safer to remain content with change…

A Rose by any other Name...

What's in a name, you say?
In Kalimpong I overheard a little girl complaining about the name of the mountain to her father.
"What kind of name is Kanchenjungha? I don't like it."
"And what do you think the mountain should be named?"
"Megha Mountain. Because it touches the clouds."
A while later, as her parents called after her, I realized she had given the mountain her own name. We were leaving, so I didn't get around to asking them, but I have questions.
Did she mean to claim the world as her own, or did she want to become the world? Or did she, as a child, recognize that she was, in fact the world- she was the mountain in the horizon and the clouds kissing its snowy peaks?
Kanchenjungha is a Tibetan name, by the way, meaning 'the five treasures of the snow', named after its five high peaks. The mountain is worshipped by the people of Darjeeling and Sikkim.
And mankind has long worshipped the immensity and beauty in the world, recogn…

Begin the year with a Song (or 2)

Original Song Lyrics ©Ruchira Mandal
Withdrawal Signs
Last Friday night when I was high, You caught my hand and helped me fly And now I’ve gotten used to the sky, Dancing on the clouds with you beside, The heady rush of wind so blue! And now I’ve gotten used to you.
But now my mouth is full of ashes, I dream of empty spaces, It’s hard to breathe while falling Though I try. And there are voices in my head That talk to me of the dead, And I sit and count my failings, And all your lies.
Last Friday night I won the game Took my shot and hit my aim, And now I’ve gotten used to the fame For nothing else quite feels the same And I’ve tried so hard to forget you- But you were such a dream come true.
And now I’m going through the paces And all those vacant gazes, I don’t know where I’m going Or why. All I want is sweet bliss, What’s the point of all this, Why all this endless striving’ To die?
Last Friday night was a fairytale, Ball at the palace and I the belle, And now I’ve gotten used to the spell, Checking on the inbox fo…

2017: Year in Review

On the first day of 2017, I woke up at my friend's house, on the bed that we had turned into a fort with bed-sheets and blankets and fairylights, after what was my first ever New Year's Eve Special Sleepover. It was the first time I had done anything different apart from watching and geting bored with the same people singing and dancing on television to usher in a new year. I woke up beside my bestfriends, teasing each other and hugging each other and making promises to begin every new year the same way- well, one of those idiots is sitting in America right now and the other one is too busy studying for an exam to meet me but that doesn't stop her from baking enticing cakes and posting pictures of them on WhatsApp- I'm sure gonna remember this. And on my own part, I just returned from a trip today after a long overnight train journey so I am definitely not going to any parties tonight. But the point here, I began this year in a manner markedly different from previous …

Rounded with a Sleep

You know how kids think sometimes that movies are real? When I was a kid, I didn't think so. I even knew actors' names (learned from my mother) and understood that they played different roles in different stories. But I didn't know how movies were made, and thought that they ran in real time. And so I thought, I thought... that perhaps the life I knew- with parents, friends and school and vacations was a movie that somebody else was watching the same way we watched those black and white classics on the family television set on Sunday afternoons, and that someday the movie would end and I would discover that I wasn't who I thought I was, but somebody else. And how strange and exciting would it be to discover that it was all make-believe, that I was someone else, from somewhere else. 
Sometimes I think that I'm still waiting to discover who I really am.
I recall no dream but broken images of imagined conversations melting away into a void of disquiet- familiar places turni…

Of memories and farewells

Every joy brings with it its own sorrow, every beginning- an inevitable end. And there is bereavement in every ending, no matter how longed for. We walk, from day to day, goal to goal, life to death, and for what? Only to hope, to long, to desire, to dream, for what else is there to keep us going? And our hopes fail, shattering our hearts, and we pick up the pieces and hope for miracles. Again. The lines you see on my face, and under my eyes are where I glued the fragments of my unspoken dreams, so many times that I lost count. And we keep walking, and hoping, and sometimes our wishes come true, and our wildest dreams are fulfilled, and there is so much joy in my share that I will never be able to take it all in, say all my words, sing all my songs. So I soak in the warmth as the stories get overlapped and the faces get blurred. And I don’t even know how the time has flown. And then it’s time to go home. There is a charm about winter afternoons, like a thin film of invisible glass that…

Running from the Zombies

For a while, I’ve been wondering Just what would happen if I just took off? Without explaining, planning, packing or making reservations… And I would fly on the wings of drunken dreams Full of half-remembered DIYs on how to survive The zombie apocalypse. But I’ve been a little late to start And already I can feel the odour of rot But they say in the kingdom of the Moon One can be healed. So, I had this dream last night where the enemy was attacking using a zombie front and there were rather detailed, stepwise directions on dealing with it, but of course I don’t remember any of it, so don't look to me for help when it happens. But I think the reason why zombies go for brains is because at some deep level that they can’t access, they must be raging because they can’t have thoughts of their own. To be not able to think or feel, to be left with the empty husk of yourself with absolutely NOTHING inside, that is a terrible curse, one that we all fear. Isn’t that why we try to fill our heads with …