Wednesday, January 27, 2016

The Memory Jar Project

After stuffing papers in an envelope in my drawer, I finally got around to buying a proper jar for the Memory Jar project. So far I've managed to write almost everyday which has, I think, more to do with filling up the jar more than anything else! But it's very interesting to sit down every night and think over the various events which make up my day. The challenge here is not to just list down things I do everyday. The aim is to record how the various things I do everyday make me feel and how they affect my life and those of others around me. So that at the end of the year, I can appreciate my year for the memories I created, no matter how big or small. 


Wednesday, January 6, 2016

a new year post - sort of

I'm not a very new year party person. Fireworks are nice but in Karachi the fireworks can be lifetaking so it's much safer to stay indoors and just watch the celebrations in different parts of the world on television. I think I've not been to a single new year celebration party in the past ten years. In fact, come to think of it, I can actually count the number of such celebrations I've attended in the past 35 years on my fingertips! 

[I'm still not sure if that's cool or not].

While counting the various celebrations on my fingertips just now, one particular party stood out. I think it was in 1993 probably. Winter holidays in Karachi, six of us cousins together to celebrate the new year, music in my grandmother's drawing room, and pizza after midnight. We even had a dress code I think - white shirts and jeans. It was a pretty amazing party but then everything seems amazing in retrospect!

A new year with new possibilities and new adventures. Resolutions? Yes, a few. One of the things I am doing this year is the Memory Jar project. Elizabeth Gilbert calls it the Happiness Jar. So it's a simple idea. Every night, or maybe early next morning, write down the things that made you happy that day. At the end of the year or more precisely, on 31st Dec, open the jar and go through your little notes. Not only will you relive the many happy moments of the entire year, it'll also give you an idea of a)basically how happy you were most of the time and more importantly, b) you didn't require a lot of material things to feel great. 

[I even gave my friends small memory jars last year although now that I look at them, they do seem quite small for the entire year]. 

Photo courtesy: Batool Curmally
So here's what I really have to say in my new year post:

Try and appreciate the little things in life. It might sound clichéd but it is something we almost never do. Share a good laugh with a friend and cherish that. Good friends are so hard to find (and someone recently told me that it is almost impossible to develop meaningful friendships after 35. Is it?). Read. Whenever you find time - in the car, in waiting areas, departure lounges, on a flight. It's a wonderful escape and don't we all need an escape now and then. Watch good films especially foreign language films (may I recommend La Grande Bellezza and Youth?). Do at least one new thing this year. Just one can't be so tough. Create something. 

And write it all down, everyday, and put it in your memory jar. 



Friday, December 18, 2015

The Year that was and wasn't

At the beginning of the year I made a resolve to write more, to live more and to make everyday count. 

When I sat down to write this post I was thinking how I had not managed to reach any one of my rather lofty goals. It is at these times that a diary comes in handy so I quickly turned to the diary entry of Dec 2014 and found a list. One of those 'What I want to do in 2015' lists. My worst fears stared back at me, incomplete and in some cases, not attempted!

And then I had an epiphany; didn't I do a lot of exciting things this year that weren't even on the god forsaken list!?

Sometimes we aren't able to reach our plans because we are busy doing something equally or more cool. I made a Grand Reading Plan this year because I wanted to well, read more books. However I had started reading the Malazan Book of the Fallen in September 2014 and now, finally, in Dec 2015 I've reached the final volume in this awe-inspiring, magnificent ten book saga. Do I regret not reaching my Grand Reading Plan goal? Hell, no! I read one of the most epic fantasy series I've read since Tilsm-e-Hoshruba and it inspired me to write my own fantasy saga.

The NaNoWriMo Karachi gang at the wrap-up party at T2f - 11th Dec
And talking about writing my own fantasy saga....yes, my very own fantasy saga! It sounds incredibly unbelievable even as I write this. This year the one thing which I had never seen coming was the amazing experience of participating and winning (yes, you read that right!) NaNoWriMo. Writing 50k words in one month not only made me overcome a lot of my writing demons but it also helped me discover a lot about myself, both as a writer and a person. I think the entire NaNoWriMo experience with my friends and fellow writers was definitely the highlight of the year. 

Hubby Dear with Sarmad Khoosat in a still from the film, Manto
There were so many other great and not-so-great moments this year. Going on an all girls' trip to Dubai and losing my luggage on the way back home! Meeting school and college friends after the longest of time and starting the conversation right from where we left off. Hubby dear starred in three movies this year and I had my first red carpet moment with him in March. Our theatre group, Qissah Farosh, did a super performance at The Second Floor in September and all proceeds from the two day performance were donated to the Sabeen Mahmud Foundation. 

But the year wasn't full of happiness and cheer only. I lost a few amazing people, both friends and family, and as the year ends, it is heartbreaking that they aren't there anymore. 

With 2015 almost over, I've realised that life is too short for regrets. It is too short to hold back too. And I'm going to wake up with this thought on the first morning of January 2016. It's only afterwards that I'll make my list! 

Monday, December 7, 2015

The Sad life of the lime green iPod

An aura of sadness surrounds an object which we buy but don’t use. The object becomes dejected and eventually the grief permeates its soul and it assumes the title of just ‘another-thing-in-our-life’.

In the day and age we live in, we have lost the value of things. The world of shopping malls and the internet has made access to ‘objects’ all the more easier. Catchy taglines and smart advertising makes us want things we don’t really need. We have shiny plastic cards which give us the impression that we are not spending real cash. Our cupboards are altars to so many dejected objects that if we look through our stuff, at precisely this moment, we will find at least five things we haven’t used in the past one year. 

Sad, isn’t it?

I, too, am guilty of this. Of buying things which sit in my cupboard, waiting to see the light of day. I’m sure some of them are super dejected and have completely given up on me. 

When was the last time you bought something that gave you immense joy? Which had you grinning widely and you couldn’t wait to head home and open it? We buy so much stuff almost everyday that we have forgotten the excitement that comes wrapped inside our buys. Be it shoes, books, clothes, stationery or an iPod. I still remember my joy when I bought my first mobile phone. It was a tiny Sony Ericsson which I had bought from my very first paycheque. Or my first iPod Nano. It was the very first Apple product I had bought and I was over the moon when I came home with it and opened the box. I still have it and even though it has retired (read: doesn’t work), it is still a happy reminder of all the times it was there for me. 

I think the joy, for me at least, has diminished because of the increase in the frequency of shopping. Where once extensive shopping was only done either before Eid or a wedding, it is now a part of our everyday lifestyle. Almost every single day, we get to hear of how something we don’t really need will make our life better and happier. We know that it is a gimmick to lure us into the quagmire of consumerism yet we willingly walk into it and remain stuck, sometimes for life. 

And there is no better way to pass time when one is stuck then listen to some music on a lime green iPod. 

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

50k words, one month, endless tea = a novel?

Writing is a funny thing. And frustrating, exhausting, tiring, sleep-depriving, stressful, stress-free, scary, and yet, extremely fulfilling.

Before I signed up for NaNoWriMo, I spent most of my time making plans about writing. Most of my effort went into everything BUT writing. I read endless articles, browsed websites full of advice from authors (dead & alive) and took lots of printouts which I conveniently stuffed in various folders. I sat at the writing desk at various times of the day to ascertain which was the ‘perfect’ time. I also rearranged the objects on the desk to create a zen writing place. I was doing everything, except writing. 

NaNoWriMo changed all that. It made me realise that writing will happen only if I sit down each day and put one word after another. That’s all there is to it. It might not be the perfect prose, and it isn’t. It might be a first draft or maybe not. It might not be anything but just 50k words I cranked out to win a challenge. Or it just might (and I'm hoping with all my heart that it is!) be the skeleton of a novel. 

This month I have realised the magic of writing. I had never reached a point in my writing before where I considered it an escape from reality. I never thought I’ll be able to create a world, through words alone, so real that I’ll actually start believing it exists. It comes with some downsides also. One of them is a permanent ache between the shoulder blades. But the feeling of exhilaration and achievement I have felt this past one week after writing a couple of thousand words is just amazing. It probably is akin to having a baby. There is the pain, the exhaustion, the sleepless nights but in the end, it’s all worth it. 

It better be! 

*repeat to self all day, every day - first draft, first draft, first draft*

Image: Google

Friday, November 6, 2015

The Morning After........movie night

There are some movies which leave you speechless, you can’t find the right adjectives when you’re trying to describe them to someone. Movies which have the perfect story, breath-taking cinematography, whose every shot is a work of art, a lovely music score and brilliant acting. The Great Beauty, for me, was one such film. Last night I added Youth to the list also. 

What movies does your list have?

Monday, September 14, 2015

Handbag wishlist

The one article almost all fashion magazines feature is on handbags and what to carry in them. '5 must-haves for your handbag' or 'Handbag police: What will we find in yours?' or 'Travel essentials: 7 items every girl needs on a holiday' and there's also the 'guide to a perfectly equipped handbag'. It seems as the handbag is the saviour of the world, the real superhero which will have the answer to everything.

Since I am obsessed with bags and do end up carrying a lot of stuff for those 'just in case' moments (which have never really happened in all these years), I made a wishlist of what I'd really like in my handbag...from all my favourite books. 

1. The Invisibility cloak: Both Harry Potter and Amar Ayyar (Tilsm-e-Hoshruba) have one and boy, does it come handy. Once someone asked me if given a choice between the power to fly and becoming invisible, what will I choose? It was a no-brainer really...invisible beats flying any day. Imagine the possibilities of having such a cloak in your handbag?! Endless! 

2. The Light of Eärendil: Galadriel's gift to Frodo, this small crystal bottle of liquid contained the light of Eärendil's star. A light to fight darkness will come very handy in Karachi when muggers try and stop you. Flash the bottle at them, the light will blind them momentarily going you enough time to make your escape. An extremely handy item for the handbag.

3. The little box Amar Ayyar carries with him which contains a special drug powder. One blow of it in the face of someone and it knocks them unconscious. Will probably come in very handy when noisy and ill-mannered children are screaming near your table at a restaurant. Or in a cinema. Or on an airplane.  Of course, how to go about it requires skill but when one is in a desperate situation, desperate measures need to be taken.

And speaking of Amar Ayyar I thought, why carry a handbag at all? If only I had his Zambeel, his magical bag of tricks in which anything of any size, animate or inanimate can be stored, I won't have to worry about handbags at all. Or muggers or weight limits while travelling! 

What item, from literature, will you like to carry in your handbag?