Monday, December 26, 2016

A Gleeful Farewell to 2016.

By Sunaina Patnaik at Monday, December 26, 2016 2 comments

With the impending end of 2016, I'm so full of questions and thoughts. Sometimes, they are interfering with my inner peace, the other times, they are only providing a decent amount of fodder for squandering my time.

When I was writing a year-ender post last year, I had so much to tell that I literally cut down many paragraphs but this year, right from the time December arrived, I was fretting about what I have to write. Not because I have to write (which I have to), but also because these posts serve as reminders to all that I was in that particular year. Looking at the way 2016 panned out, it should obviously be the year that set its standards high for beating even the worst. But as a lot of people say...this is how life works. So, between being tangled and untangled, 2016 is a year where life happened to me. It was cruel. It made me vulnerable, but it also made me realize that a human being can be truly surprised what he can live with.

Every time I hit a rock bottom and overcome it, the survivor in me assumes that she is equipped for the worst. Another disaster, another victory, another bravado. But with every disaster, I fall flat and weep into the wee hours of the nights and try to hide my distressed eyes with copious amounts of eyeliner and mascara, the next morning. No matter how much and how well prepared I am for every disaster, I have my own share of fears and insecurities. However, like everyone, I also have an inner voice and in my case, it is a small girl who reminds me of the survivor that I am and urges me to show up. At any cost. And I do. And then, things get better. And happens again.

I remember this time in high school when I wanted to walk into a room and own it; to make conversations with absolute strangers. I wanted to be heard, understood, and more importantly, known. Despite having such strong wishes, I was meek and often too shy to even respond to the questions I was asked. As I grew old, it changed in bits and pieces, but in time, I developed an unhealthy relationship with my own self. To tame my thoughts and incoherency while building a deep connection with myself, I decided to start a blog one night around 5 years ago. I think this worked out well for me. It made me discover my voice, inner strengths and offered me a humble platform to speak. Sure, I still do not walk into a room and own it, but hey, I am getting there. As we speak, I am in the process of checking it off my list too.

This brings me to another vital factor - reading.

I always thought I'd measure my years with the amazing books that I read, but 2016 made me go nuts for one book very particularly - Daytripper by Fábio Moon and Gabriel Bá. Despite reading 75 books this year, discovering new writers and rediscovering many old favourites, I think Daytripper is something that left its mark on me. I'm totally holding on to this like I held on to The Great Expectations.

Talking about someone in past tense is annoyingly excruciating. Even more so, if it is your mother. After losing my mother in August, I've lost my wits and a sense of security. A lot of people say that I've changed a great deal, while the others comment that I have stopped sounding like myself. I was a carefree spirit in my mother's presence, but something has definitely changed inside of me after her death. I don't know what it is, and I will not try hard to put it into words, but a part of me is entirely convinced that at any point of time, anything can happen, and we're not in control of it. It is such an unfortunate truth, isn't it? We mask it by saying it's the beauty of life. But to me, there is nothing beautiful about loss. It changes and molds you in so many patterns that you probably don't recognize yourself when you look into the mirror one day. Harsh truth - it shouldn't change you for bad. The sense of security can be lost and regained, but if you lose the core essence of yourself, it's hard to gain control over it. First-hand experience, please do take it from me!

A lot of things that happened this year made me form stronger bonds with my family. I'm so grateful for that! I make it a point to take time for them now. Earlier, my friends and family always complained that I don't return calls or stay in touch, but I have taken a new leap in that too. I'm guessing they now complain that I am always texting or calling.

Sometimes, even a little amount of unwavering faith takes you a long way. I probably didn't realize that when I started seeing this boy almost a year ago, but in time, it makes me wonder about love. I've written and talked so often about it (Thanks to my unhealthy obsession with romantic comedies and dramas) and as it turns out so much of it is false because love neither comes in fancy packaging nor with tons of confetti. It probably comes in a pretty average but sturdy packaging. Or in the form of a boy who picks your battles like they're his own. I certainly don't have a knight in the shining armour and I don't ask for one. Because what I have is a living, breathing person who shields me like an armour. Sometimes, that's all I ask for. And an unwavering faith!

As I come to an end of this post and 2016, I totally know that I contradicted what I've said in the beginning - that I had nothing to talk or write about. But when I actually sat down to write, there was no stopping. So yes, here's to a slightly depressing but a great deal of learning that 2016 endowed on me. I'm not asking for a fabulous 2017, but I surely won't mind one that comes with pleasant surprises and goodness my way.

To everyone who made this year amazing and got me cupcakes, thank you. To everyone who did not, you all can have a happy New Year too!

P.S. Thank you for reading this unavoidably long post.

Monday, December 12, 2016

The Beginning, In-between, and Ending.

By Sunaina Patnaik at Monday, December 12, 2016 0 comments

Page no 319,
there was a forgotten coffee shop in the bylanes of a street that was used only for evening walks,
every evening, it was adorned with lights and its brown bricked walls held paintings of exotic places,
candles were lit on every table,
the visitors were few, but it was a secret getaway for a lot of people.
Most of the evenings, he walked in with her but today was different,
they walked in and out separately.

Page no 14,
there was always a new place in this part of the town,
sometimes a cafe, sometimes a night club,
people bonded over coffee and fell in love with each other over dances and music that'll be remembered for years.
She walked into one such new place, after taking a last look at herself in the mirror,
Dressed in white and blue, he stood on his feet as soon as he saw her.
A lot wasn't spoken on that day, the music was too loud and they were too shy,
the first flush of love, I remember, is always like that.

Page no 249,
happiness isn't the only prominent story of our lives,
melancholy and joy come in equal parts,
unfortunately, we fail to welcome them both in similar fashions.
We question sadness but accept happiness without any iota of doubt,
but together, he and she revelled in joy and got through sadness.

Page no 457,
a room that overlooked gigantic snowy mountains and a sunset that spread its oranges and yellows across the sky,
cups of tea were strewn across the table where they put their feet up,
it was cold but the setting sun's warmth and their intimacy did all that a thick blanket couldn't.
Stuck in a moment of love amidst nature was a dream they dreamt together, many nights ago.

Page no 75,
the drive to the unknown roads between brown hills was long,
but the longing to reach there was stronger than anything.
In between the setting sun and the music they carefully chose for the drive, they stared at the city they left behind,
there was a lot of silence and no words involved,
but there were bits and pieces of everything people new to romance ever wanted.

The beginning, middle, and the ending - we imagine all stories must have them.
We imagine our lives must have them and we do.
But not necessarily in the same order.
When we are all brewing stories of our own, just remember not to measure it in the scales of beginnings, middles, and endings.

Tuesday, December 06, 2016

Monday Morning.

By Sunaina Patnaik at Tuesday, December 06, 2016 1 comments
There was nothing enticing about this Monday morning. I wore my usual black pants with a white shirt. I applied my usual mascara and tangerine coloured lipstick. I picked my usual coffee and newspaper from the local cafe before proceeding towards the station to board a metro to my workplace. It was yet another mundane Monday morning and I was definitely not looking forward to it.

As I was waiting for a friend to join me at the station, I noticed a man sitting on a bench. He was rummaging through the contents of his bag as he muttered something incoherent. There was something awfully plain about him. Something awfully regular. I spent more seconds gazing at him as he finally fished a paperback out of his bag. He carefully plucked his spectacles from the inner pockets of his bag and drifted into his own world of reading. He was probably unaware of my presence, of people walking around him, of the man selling tea behind him, of vagrants collecting stray pieces of paper near his feet. He was oblivious to the arrival and departure of trains as I was oblivious to everything around me. Not very often you come across someone who pulls you into their world at the very first sight. Not because they have exotic coloured eyes or great hair. It is mostly because they are your own flavour of people.

I wished I could talk to him, though. It would have been brilliant, wouldn’t it? To forego the responsibilities of work and walk to the closest coffee shop with him. We’d eat breakfast and talk about how much I loved Woody Allen movies while he’d tell me how he did not like a particular movie of his. We’d order more cups of coffee while he’d excuse himself to smoke. He’d come back to rekindle forgotten memories and lost conversations; we’d talk about our first loves and first jobs. And when we’d walk out of the coffee shop, it’s a little late in the day and we’d decide to watch a movie. In the darkness of the movie hall, I’d look at his otherwise imperfect features in awe while he’d run his fingers on my wrist sending tingles down my spine. We’d look at each other in the darkness like we’ve known each other for days. I am afraid, for years! In the evening, we’d spend hours on my balcony staring at the sunset while sharing crammed secrets. He would tell me about the girl that broke his heart brutally while I’d tell him about the painful death of my pet.

It wouldn't have been perfect but it would have been something.

My reverie of thoughts was easily broken with a tap on my shoulder. My friend was here and it was time for us to leave. The awfully plain yet the perfect guy was not to be seen anywhere. He must have left when I was tirelessly concocting stories in my head.

As I boarded the metro with my friend, I told her, “I saw the perfect guy for me.”


“I should have told him a hi, ” I sighed.

But some stories were only meant to live in our head while I was meant to ruin my life with some more Excel sheets today.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016


By Sunaina Patnaik at Tuesday, November 29, 2016 0 comments

Sixteen and naive,
You're oblivious to the possibilities of life,
Tying your fate to the boy in the next class, you dream of a future under pine trees and starlit skies.

Sixteen and unbroken,
You're yet to experience the pleasure of pain,
Strolling on the beach and building sand castles, you imagine life is always this simple.

Sixteen and brisk,
You're galaxies away from cherishing the luxury of slowing down,
Darting from one moment to another, living without a pause sounds like a true achievement to you.

Sixteen and broke,
You still haven't met the delight of owning things you lay your eyes own,
As you walk from a bookstore to a clothing store in a huge mall, you think window shopping is a feast worthy enough.

Sixteen and wide-eyed,
You're yet to travel and unravel the beauty and the mysteries of the world,
Glancing at the images in an old magazine, you wonder if you'll ever dip your feet in one of those exotic beaches.

Young and still unexposed to the realities of life, you dream and fail.
You pick yourself up each time you fall.
You will not know that you'll be offered second chances, mercies, and countless opportunities.
You will not know how it feels to get your heartbroken and heal with no one by your side.
You will not know how scary darkness is and how strongly you fight back for light.
You will not know how gratifying it is to come home with suitcases of souvenirs and heart full of memories.
You will not know how truly amazing it is to have someone by your side, who picks your battles like they're his own.
You will not know the beauty of the things you'll create and go to sleep with a satisfaction that's self-made.

Someday, you will know all this.
You must then remember, that you were destined for this.
That at sixteen, you didn't know what was in store for you.
But you were destined.
For this, and more.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Things Running In My Head.

By Sunaina Patnaik at Saturday, November 26, 2016 0 comments

The common cold is a common occurrence for me. During Winters, we practically meet and greet every morning. While I can say it's the only constant in my life, during sickness and health (because hey, I've learned to live with it), I despise it for very strong reasons like - sounding like a mouse during important meetings and having a red nose. But when I see people around me, who are prone to such things, I feel glad, because I'm not the only one with this petty sickness and with so many of them around me, nothing can truly bog me down. I revel in such things.

This afternoon, as I was watching the return of Gilmore Girls while dabbing tins of Vicks, I was called into the living room. My father had to introduce me to our really sweet landlord, who was sorry about the loss of my mother. He talked about the pain he went through when he lost his father, and when his wife lost her's at a very tender age. This brings me to a strange thought - Do we feel better when we know that we are surrounded with people who experience similar forms of pain and confusion like us? Does it make us feel that we aren't alone in this and that at every junction of life, we'll meet people who have overcome the struggles and losses of their life?

Most of the times, we crave the company of people when we are truly happy or when we want to celebrate our victories or promotions. In sadness, we claim that we want to be left alone. However, whenever we come across stories of loss that happen to people we know, hear of, or even fictional heroes, we understand that pain and loss are a part and parcel of everything we do. It certainly is comforting to know that we're not alone in this, even when we say we are.

So what is it? Do we basically feel secure when people around us are going through similar stuff that we are experiencing? Or are we just selfish even in the pursuit of this whole thing?

I guess I'll keep looking for a finite answer.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Saahasam Swaasaga Saagipo: Movie Review.

By Sunaina Patnaik at Sunday, November 13, 2016 2 comments

I've always wondered if the first flush of love is as charming as Gautam Vasudev Menon's portrayal. Be it the delinquency that it brings as shown in 'Cheli' to the subtle elegance that he shows in 'Gharshana', the sheer madness of it is magical enough for us to desire its experience. But his movies bring more than just that to the table.

It might get a little redundant if I say this, but we all know that Menon's movie introductions are always crucial because the entire story unfolds right from the beginning. Naga Chaitanya, your quintessential boy next door, finishes his MBA and tries to figure his life out when he meets Manjima Mohan, your girl next door. As you might have gathered from the trailer, she is his sister's friend and stays for a couple of weeks at their place. While he finds her attractive, it's mostly during this stay, he falls in love with her. This whole track of the movie is quite amazing and adding to that, Rahman's soulful music is nothing short of brilliant! Soon, he plans a road trip to Kanya Kumari on his Royal Enfield and confides in her, and on the morning he sets off, she asks him to take her along on the trip. When the beautiful trip comes to an end, he convinces to drop her home. But things take an adverse U-turn when they meet with an accident.

The transformation of the movie from the first half to post-intermission is effortlessly done because I wouldn't want to jump from a wonderful feel good moment to a series of action sequences and suspense so easily. But I did because Menon kept delving into the plot wisely enough to keep the audience well-involved in the movie. Usually, movies come with a predictability card of boy meets girl and falls in love, the introduction of a problem and its closure. It's all a happy ending. But in this case, I thoroughly enjoyed watching the layers of the protagonist as he went from one stage of the issue to another. Nicely done by Naga Chaitanya! The fact that Manjima Mohan and Baba Sehgal are fresh faces when it comes to the movies hasn't kept them away from performing that convincingly. Honestly, it was a treat to see them onscreen!

I don't want to be a killjoy by revealing the plot any further, but I'll say this - it has all the right ingredients of love, emotion, loss, trauma, and comedy at the right areas in right amounts. With a typical Menon ending, this one too makes you walk out of the theater with a large grin on your face. Sure, the climax wasn't as exciting I imagined but what the hell? The movie was beautiful enough for one to even think of it.

And what else do you actually need in life? A sense of purpose, an object of interest, a person to love, a friend who is crazy enough to support everything you do, a wonderful song to sing, and a reaffirmation that you can constantly discover and be surprised with what you can do in (and with) life. Your life is so sorted, man!

Thursday, November 10, 2016

A Room Without Windows.

By Sunaina Patnaik at Thursday, November 10, 2016 4 comments

I once asked for a room of my own.
Several months and appeals later, I got one.
But with no windows.
As a person fond of windows, I found this deplorable.
Confined to the four walls of the room with a shelf full of books and a painting of a mountain on the wall, I began to make conversations with words on blank sheets and stories inside books with slightly torn pages.
I fell in love with words and together, we realized that we had stories to tell and hearts to win.
It was in this little room I grew familiar with Elizabeth Bennet and her love for Darcy.
Here, I discovered Shelley and her Frankenstein and grew weary of the mysterious things the world held in itself.

The adventures were many, but I was a lover of windows and longed for a room with one.
And when I got one, I rejoiced!
I was no longer a prisoner of my thoughts and imagination.
Now, I had visitors in the form of pigeons and neighbours who took long morning walks.
I began noticing the tasks of the watchmen in the night, and slowly fell into the regular pattern of life.
I grew weary again, and this time, it wasn't short lived.
I wondered if this was what life was all about? Mornings and nights, noons and evenings withheld probably nothing that the stories I read offered.

Horrified with the banal reality of life, I wanted to run back to the room with no windows.
Where I went fishing with Tom Sawyer and pictured the view of River Thames in the words of Pip.
It was here that I wrote alongside Ruskin Bond and the likes because they were my only windows to the world I desperately wanted to belong.

But like words, there was a lot in life, that once said and done, had no going back.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

This Diwali, Stop Being a Killjoy.

By Sunaina Patnaik at Saturday, October 29, 2016 4 comments

There are things that we don't have the earliest memories of. Falling in love with Diwali is one such event. When I was a child, I would wait for Diwali, every year. Back then I did not know why I enjoyed the festival thoroughly except for the fact that like every child, I too loved bursting crackers. However, as a mere spectator of the festival this year, I could list out a lot of reasons. Who knew that spectators have a better view than the participants?

My mother made Dahi Wada (Or Perugu gaarilu as I fondly call) every year during Diwali and only during Diwali. The arrival of Diwali itself would make me anticipate those delicious savouries and for some reason, I believed that she made it so rarely only because it was her little Diwali ritual. I still remember how they tasted in my mouth and how she'd keep a couple of them away for me to surprise me later.

The other thing I remember was how desperately I'd wait for her to complete the puja at home so that she could take me downstairs with my bag of crackers. If my grandmother was around, it got even better. Growing up, all my festivals had a historical or spiritual significance. My grandmother would either tell me why we celebrated a particular festival or my mother would narrate the importance of the pujas that took place at our home. It was the same story every time, but I was an ardent listener. Diwali always had a special place in my heart, and for even more reasons that remain unknown, I always knew I'd grow up loving it more and narrating the festivities that go with it.

Big, fat mistake.

I was fifteen when I stopped bursting crackers. I wanted to be all eco-friendly and reduce noise pollution from my end. While I was always a little scared of the noises that are associated with Diwali, I wasn't the one to stop burning a pencil or two and a sparkler, here and there. Hey, I wasn't hurting animals or killing plants too. But the urge to make everyone around me stop celebrating it was a tad bit over the top and over the years, I realized that I was just trying hard to be a version of someone I wanted to be, but wasn't. I was only being a killjoy. Who was I kidding?

However, in 2015, I booked my first car during Diwali and I wanted to burst crackers. And I did, without harming any animals or killing plants. Diwali celebrates the victory of good over evil (the killing of Naraka), and the return of Rama and Sita to Ayodhya after 14 years of exile. Mahavir Jain attained Nirvana on this day. Apart from India, there are at least 8 countries that celebrate Diwali, together.

And if this doesn't call for a celebration, I am truly lost at what does?

As my Facebook feed is overflowing with the posts of pseudo-environmentalists ranting about how Diwali is screwing up with the Indian civilization and society, I'd like to tell you that there are myriad things that ACTUALLY ruin the above said, but Diwali is probably the last thing to contribute to it. If you could find out the root cause of what's really screwing up with our society and civilization without being a killjoy, by all means, do it. Otherwise, learn that we are the only bridge between our previous generations and the next. If we stop believing in the beauty and the significance of the Indian festivals, I am sure the further generations will only read them on their latest iPads.

What's the point of having such rich traditions and not living them?

P.S. People, stay safe while celebrating Diwali. Don't burn yourself, or hurt people around you. Do not get crackers that REALLY add to the pollution.


Tuesday, September 27, 2016


By Sunaina Patnaik at Tuesday, September 27, 2016 3 comments

I was three when I nurtured the habit of looking out of the windows.
Misty mornings made way for warm sunshine and jaunty evenings waltzed into starry skies.
But the lofty green mountains remained strong and the bougainvillea trees stood still even in the shadows of darkness.

I was four when I felt the salty aroma of air engulfing me as I stared at the endless blue sea.
I collected shells and souvenirs and stood with my toes in the sand as the waves gently lapped me at the shore.
Even as the tides got stronger and the waves, higher by the night, the distant lights always lulled me into a strange quietness.

I was five when I cycled my way through the wide roads to a library my mother visited every evening.
The mischievous world of Bapu and Ramana, the mystical world of Viswanatha Satyanarayana, the mysterious world of Chalam enticed me into their realms.
Oblivious to the value of those writers, I cycled home with the joy of spending another evening annoying the librarian.

I was six when I discovered how the city was surrounded by mountains greener than the greens of my crayons and I was seven when I realized this was home.
I was eight when we moved to a different city, and to another, and kept moving.

It took me more than 8 years and yet another long stay to understand this city is more than just home.
It is first steps and first discoveries. First beach rides and aquarium sights.
It is first friendships and first fights. Of innumerable skating classes and injuries. First movies and first brush with literature.
The first rush of teenage and walking fearlessly into darkness without a speck of doubt.

Over the years, the city is growing older with grace.
Natural disasters have only made it stronger.
The lovers of the beach have slowly made way for the lovers in the beach.
The nooks and corners are flanked with the cosmopolitan glory.
The otherwise conventional people learned to coexist with the modern ones.
So much has changed but the air is still salty and the evenings placidly wander into starry nights.

On the roof of every home, a child like I once was dreams high of becoming big, someday.
To explore the world behind the green mountains and beyond the greenish blue waters.
To travel the cities without mountains around walk in the beaches with a different scent in the air.
Yet come back home, from distances far away.

Maybe it was only that distance that made the heart grew fonder.
After all, home truly is where the heart is, isn't it?

Friday, September 16, 2016

The Cookie Tin.

By Sunaina Patnaik at Friday, September 16, 2016 0 comments

Throughout my childhood, we had a cookie tin at home. It was made of steel and was sturdy. My fingers still remember how its nooky edges and torn label made it stand out from the rest of the tins. My mother had a habit of putting all the best cookies in this particular tin, mostly because its lid was tight. Tight enough for me to struggle opening it. I guess I was never into Marie biscuits even at the age when I couldn't spot the visible difference between biscuits and cookies. That, however, did not stop me from reaching out to that cookie jar. Because I knew it held something that I longed for.

As I grew old and joined high school, I was still adamant about eating out of that tin. My mother soon began to store more than just best cookies in that tin, but I still believed that it consisted of the things I was forced to eat in a limit. That tin survived my many maneuvers for several years, it traveled with us every time we moved from one city to another and boy, we did move a lot! It became an integral part of our kitchen and I was warned to steer clear of it.

I don't certainly remember when we lost that tin, but I haven't noticed it for years now. Especially this morning when I was storing cookies in a different tin that bore no resemblance to the lost one. I am beginning to think if life is a lot like this. No, I am serious. Did it ever happen to you? You hold on to something - a plan, a work item, a piece of clothing, a book or what the hell, the idea of doing something amazing in your mind and try your best to gain control over it. Over time, it either comes easily to you after a lot of struggle from your end or becomes a part of your existence that you lose track of it. Did it ever happen to you? That in time, you lose the purpose of the thing (or the idea) you once strongly believed in? It is kind of annoying if you actually perceive it in that fashion. Nevertheless, it does not alter the truth. We lose the purpose of myriad important things in our life. Our dreams, our ambitions, our desperate plans to achieve meaning of life - we lose it all.

Sure, the tin might be replaced with another tin that has no stains or uneven edges, but not everything can turn obsolete.

And it shouldn't. Because life does not offer another cookie tin when we lose sight of a purpose or ambition.


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