I'm never too far from trouble.
In fact if trouble and I don't meet for a few days than I go find it. Afterall, I do belong to that breed of stupid human beings who love to tell the bull not just to come and take a swipe at them, but if the bull is ignoring then, then walk right up to it and say "Helllooo! I'm here... why aren't you trying to hit me, trample me...?" And then the few among this breed of people are people like me who go ahead an wear red too while they are at it!
A voice at the back of my head is screaming "TYPICAL" right now. I'm used to hearing this annoying drone more often than not. Especially at times when I would simply not want it to be around. But that's not what is really making me feel just a tiny bit unsettled right now. Alright! not tiny bit.. a huge bit unsettled.
Now, indulge my ranting for a bit... what's the best way to find amusement in a new city? You make friends, get out, meet new people, join a club that brings people who have the same hobbies that you do under one roof and may that would help you get new friends... etc etc etc...
But, when I said I am never too far from trouble, I really meant it. And given that it's me, just what are the chances that I would go right ahead and one day, suddenly, plunge my head into what seems like a bucket of cold water that does not give you a brain freeze but makes the whole of you clam up?!
I did just that.
Not that I don't know people here. I do know a few. I go and hang out with them once in a while. I go running most evenings. Oh well... alright... it's a feeble attempt at best but at least I have kept it up for six months now. That's commendable in my dictionary and a first for me; to stick to anything as embarrassing as running for that long that is. Yes! I find running uncomfortably embarrassing. And this is the first time I have been going running. * pats self *
But let's not digress.
Mostly, I spend my weekends resolutely working towards getting published, over large cups of vanilla latte at the Coffee Bean (my new second home!) and my weekdays flash by in a blur, so much so that even my folks back home have given up on having a conversation longer than 2 minutes at a stretch with me on most days. I kill all my spare time reading and writing. My natural option should have been to be an active Caferati memebr. Or a more than regular visitor at Prithvi. Or some such thing... Given what I have gotten myself into, I think even reading stories to frisky, annoying, crying, screaming, snotty children would have been better.
So what is it that I did? Well, I finally decided to go see what on earth Capoeira is all about! Vik is a very convincing guy and I for one have been falling in his well laid out bogey traps for a while now. First he makes me move to Bombay, then he makes me, a journalist by chance with no other claim to fame, learn more than a thing or two about the corporate world. So much so that I agreed to take on everything he threw my way. Yet, when the first of the many D-days of my new life as a conference producer hit me in the face, I was shaking with nervousness and hoping I'd evaporate as I stepped onto a stage to deliver the welcome note for my first conference last month. I forgot the names of my advisory panel!
Now for someone who has been an on camera face, this shouldn't be difficult. But then, it is. You are staring at faces. Not a lens. And neither is the crowd made of people you can simply brush off or yell at (Yup, journalists do that when crowds get annoying!)
So, I wonder why curiosity got the better of me (hummm... maybe I was subconsciously bored... maybe it had been too long since I kicked my own butt... hummm) and I, randomly, like I always do, decided to go see what the hell is this Capoeira thing, that he goes for twice a week, all about. So I went. And I stood there in the room, for an hour. And I kept telling myself, "this is weird" and "you don't want to do this" but when Baba walked towards me, I told him "can I come from next week?"
Just like that. And he said yes. And the deed was done!
While I talked myself into it for the next few days I kept telling myself that it couldn't be bad. Afterall, I have tried my hand and my legs at Kickboxing (2 months!), Salsa (4 months!) and Tai Chi (6 months!). But this is none of that, let me tell you. And that brings me to my point.
I SUCK at Capoeira. I didn't expect any better. I always tried my hand at sports but I am one of those who gave outstanding performances i.e. stood outside the court in basketball or only ever ended up passing the ball around if I did manage to get the chance to step in, or played tennis with a wall. Really did. I knew this was not going to be easy.
But, when I decided to try Capoeira I DID NOT expect to try and hide when in class. I did not expect that I would be so acutely self-conscious. I did not expect that I would be tongue tied. I have never felt this uncomfortable. Every time I climb up the four flights of stairs in the school right across the road from my house, I cringe. I wish I could miraculously self-combust or develop magical superpowers so I can be bloody good at whatever is happening in class. But, clearly, neither happens. I go. I try. I fall on my butt. I bruise. I ache. I pull a muscle or two. I am constantly nervous. I try and hide (Not that Baba hasn't noticed... I am just hoping he doesn't say it out loud.. I don't have an answer... I don't know why... but I do know that I'm fighting back tears of god-knows-what every time I realise someone is looking and I have to do moves I just can't get...) and I keep to myself.
Ask anyone who has known me for years and chances are they would simply not identify with what I have just said. I will not be surprised. I am having trouble identifying with it. Maybe I am staring this in the face for the first time, that's why... Maybe all these years I simply did not notice the knots in the pit of my stomach....
And this, I know for sure has been slowly coming my way for the last few years now. I took over two months to make any friends in Scotland where I did my masters degree. I took weeks to get back in touch with friends after I got back. I spent my entire time at the Jaipur Lit Fest sitting in the cafe, corner table, sipping beer, instead of networking. I've been here six months and I avoid going to a place where I am bound to meet more than two new people. I freeze. I have resolutely avoided being social in my Delhi style since I moved here. But moving around is in my veins. The Army gives you wheels under your feet the second you are born to a man who wears the Olives for a living. Yet....
Now, for someone who has always been in a job that had to do with public dealing and for someone who was an avid orator and actor all through school and college, this sudden self realisation that people and crowds actually make me nervous is brand new and not a very happy one. And that has left me very very unsettled.
Was I able to do all that because school and college were comfort zones or was it just that it didn't matter then? And if it didn't then then why does it matter now? Why did it not matter when I barged into random places that most people would call scary and dangerous with a pen and mic, and got on with it? Is it because the city is new and the people are new too? Would it have been better if one of them was something I had been around for a while? Am I suddenly becoming someone I don't know yet? But how can that be? Is this some new rare disorder?
I don't know...
The only thing I know for sure right now is that I don't know.
But now that I think of it, my first work day in Bombay, Vik had taken me to Carter Road with his wife Sav and his son Adi. He had said something about this thing he had just joined and the group performing there. It was the eve of the first anniversary of the 2008 Mumbai attacks. I could see nothing of the performance. I could hear the music. I remember I had liked the music.
I will go for class tomorrow. I'm not giving up. I'm a sucker for kicking my own butt like I said. But then what are the chances that six months after a tune gets stuck in your head, you end up kicking you butt to it. In my case, I still haven't failed to surprise myself... And I am still wishing I had the ability to self-combust at will...