It feels like I’m about start leaking marbles from my ears. Can you see it? Can you see the veins against my temples starting to split at their seams? In a moment, I’ll leak and be declared insane.
You, darling reader, would be happy to know, that I have survived a meltdown. Of elephantine proportions. There is a chance I’m exaggerating, but allow me this. Saying that I have “been busy” would be an understatement. You already know that I have been in this state of busyness, for a while. But last week was it for me.
It started two months ago with a small idea of reviving the “book”. Which in hindsight has proven to be a bigger task that I have ever come across, but we all know that I’m prone to biting off more than I can chew. The “book” has been on and off for the last ten years. Even before I graduated from college. Back then, it was mostly about friends and the comic heights of being a student of architecture. It then moved on to life inn Mumbai, graduate studies in Nottingham and then finally London.
I’d write pieces. Stow some away. Some I would use and put them in the blog here, mostly the ones related to food. The others would just sit quietly in the vastness of Google Drive. Right after we traveled back from our SE Asian holiday, an ad-man friend, Richard — who comes as a complete set with the sculpted beard and curled up mustache — asked me to review a short story he had written and was thinking about submitting it to a literary magazine (!!!!). As expected, the piece was brilliant. But more inspiring than anything.
“Do you think you can take it on?” I found Priya asking me, a week later. We were discussing Richard’s piece over Skype, and how I felt hungry and tempted to fire up that old Google Drive account and retrieve all my forgotten stories.
“You know where we are with the company,” she continued. I did know. I do know.
We have a Bali retreat coming up (in a week’s time!) and in my anxiety I have chewed off all my finger nails. Priya’s daily routine now includes rocking back and forth on her office chair, every morning, for two hours, imagining all organisational disasters that could possibly happen during the retreat. There’s an Egypt trip coming up in December, which adds to the frenzy. We’re about to announce our 2018 dates. The website is being pricked and prodded and torn apart by an SEO expert. The Indian banking system is a nightmare to navigate. We’re rapidly running out of money we had set aside for marketing. The affiliates’ program is about to be launched. Bloggers and influencers rule the world. Our tech guys are more scholars than executors.
I know all that. I know where we are with the company. I know where we are with our day-jobs. At this point, Altertrips is not stable enough for both of us to let go of our day jobs. And my job includes being up in the sky for 50% of my time, nowadays.
And after all that, I wanted to haul those stories out. I’m infinitely thankful for a co-founder like Priya, who is understanding when I don’t make sense, who is patient when I’m on one of my tantrums, who is supportive when I pull insane suggestions right out of thin air.
So I loaded up my plate a little more that day. I started writing again. Inspecting the stories for what they were, what they mean to me today, tweaking them to find out if they fit in my life today. Some do, some don’t. Some remind me of lost people. Others of lost opportunities. A decade worth of stories and chapters, doldrums, frenzies, confusion and deliriousness. I started compiling them and still in the process of doing so. Attaching them to the essential bits and detaching them from the unnecessary bits, with a working title of Biryani & Love Stories.
Comments on the violently yellow cover with the generic, water-colored bowl of biryani on it, is welcome!
It is going well.
Rather, it was all going well.
Till it wasn’t anymore.
You know me well. If I knew where and when to stop, I’d be a different person altogether. I didn’t stop at the book. I agreed to take on two more assignments, to be the Fiction + Prose Editor for Oratoria and Unabashed Magazines. The offers of both came to me through followers and literary enthusiasts on Instagram. I mean, all I have to do it is read through submissions and contributions and judge them or maybe edit them on occasions. Easy fuckin’ peasy, right?
Well, I woke up last Monday drenched in my own sweat. I didn’t think much of it (let’s blame the air-conditioning, which I did), till I started dressing myself for work. When the hairbrush fell on to the floor, I bent to pick it up. And I couldn’t pull myself up. So I quietly sat on the floor, cross legged, as if that’s what I’d been planning to do all along. I sat and then came the tears. Tears till it became difficult to breathe. So I curled up into a fetal position, right on the floor and called in sick at work. The hair brush and I laid still through most of the day, till it was time for me to move on and hyperventilate a little more. It wasn’t fear. It was more weight than anything else. An invisible solid metal box pushing me to the ground, against my right cheek, till I had to close my eyes and breathe, because that seemed to be the only way I could breathe at the time. By the time I had people around me, I was dehydrated from not having had any food or water for 16 hours.
I’m happy to report that I’m functioning like I’m supposed to. I’m still scared off my rockers of messing up the juggling act. The plate of work is still spilling over from all sides, and I have dropped the ball on more than one occasion. The metal box is still hanging above my head, threatening to drop at any point. But I’m functioning, like I’ve never functioned before. I’m more mindful of deadlines, of managing time better than before. I’m even thinking of taking a writing vacation come December.
I’ll leave you with the truth of what happiness is when you rely on your family, friends and your bumbling significant other (if there’s one in the scene). More on that later. Have a great week guys!