I am now officially one of the employed. This has, for reasons inexplicable to me, led to me re-reading some Jorge Luis Borges and looking up his interviews. If there was the slightest chance of me using any of what I’m reading in my job, the wander around Borges boulevard would seem vaguely constructive. There isn’t. I cannot imagine any circumstance that would lead to me referencing Borges at work and not being considered completely insane. Particularly if I confessed that I could completely relate to some of the things he said. Consequently, I’ve decided that I’m going to stuff the old man’s words into every possible written piece that isn’t related to my employment, beginning with this blog post.
“I began to fear for my mental integrity—I said, “Maybe I can’t write anymore.” Then my life would have been practically over because literature is very important to me. Not because I think my own stuff particularly good, but because I know that I can’t get along without writing.”
The down side of employment is the fact that I’ve virtually given up writing. Real writing, that is. This is a bit of a bummer since I did manage to write about 45,000 words in a month during NaNoWriMo. Inevitably, now that I don’t have any time or the state of mind to do my own writing, I keep thinking of things that I want to write and add to the NaNoWriMo manuscript. But I only think of them. I don’t actually write them. I wake up in the middle of the night — I’ve suddenly developed the habit of waking up every couple of hours, vaguely panicked, but for no reason whatsoever — and I think of things I should write and then I crashland on my pillow, nose first. When I wake up in the morning, the idea from the dead of the night doesn’t seem any stupider but I feel like I slept away my ability to write. It’s a strange, unsettling feeling. Like dry ice in water, but subtler; less fizzy but no less complete a disappearance. When I sit down to write the words don’t sound right. So I delete and start again. The words hover; the wrong ones easily dropping on my document and the right ones so lost to me that I don’t even know where to grope to find them. I wonder if Alzheimer’s feels like this.
“…since there is only one dreamer, why do you write a book? But if there is only one dreamer, why could you not dream about writing a book?”
The good thing about the job is the little walk from my house to the taxi stand. I take (what Leo calls) “the scenic route”, and it really is. Pali Village is something of an unofficial heritage stretch. A path cobbles and crumbles its way through the little neighbourhood, where some of the houses are still painted in brighter-than-crayon colours and have tiled roofs. It’s absolutely nothing like what comes to mind when we think of Mumbai and precisely what comes to my mind when I think of Bandra. Sometimes I hear hymns as I walk past the closed wooden panels on some of the windows. There are days when the strum of a guitar makes it through along with the shiver of cymbals and drums. The houses must be a nightmare of damp and decay inside, but from the outside, Pali Village is utterly charming.
“Now when I began to lose my eyesight, when the world began to fade away from me, there was a time among my friends . . . well they made, they poked fun at me because I was always wearing yellow neckties. Then they thought I really liked yellow, although it really was too glaring. I said, “Yes, to you, but not to me, because it is the only color I can see, practically!” I live in a gray world, rather like the silver-screen world. But yellow stands out. That might account for it.”
I was reading The Optimism Bias in which the author talks about how the way we remember things isn’t necessarily how they actually happened or how we saw them when events unfolded in reality. We remember things the way we think they ought to be remembered, which is what makes applications like Instagram so much fun. Yes, the filters are somewhat standardised but depending on the scene upon which they’re applied, they transform the photograph. Add a filter, choose where you want the focus to be at its sharpest, and you have on your phone an image that realises how you wish an object/place looked. This is what ensures different people’s photographs don’t look the same. (TRP, I hope you’re reading.) It’s not the filter that makes a photo distinctive but what you saw and what you wanted to see. The application is just a tweaking device. It’s useless if it has nothing to tweak. Unless you’re spectacularly inept or have absolutely no eye for colour and contrast, chances are the photo looks prettier than it did without the filters. Whether or not it looks pretty, chances are it looks the way you imagined the scene should have looked in order to highlight its most striking features.
Now if only was an Instagram for prose….