Of these complex relationships we call Friendship

I’ve never had much luck with friendships. I am sure many of you are rolling your eyes as you read thanks to my umpteen friends on Friendster and Facebook. What I mean is that I am bad with cliques. I am horrendous at maintaining friends in a large complex web.

I mean, cliques are crazy. Lets say you fall out with one person, that inevitably means a good half of your clique isn’t going to talk to you and the other the other person. Worst still, cliques that involve a few romantic relationships as well. Those are even more complicated and the minute a pair breaks up, there is so much of mudslinging or side-taking. No offence to all those of you have a huge circle and love them. I respect the fact that you guys are able to manage some dainty and fragile relationships and juggle them. I have always never been able to have such luck and for some reason I have come to wean my life off all these crazy big circles.

I figure having individual friends works a lot better for me. Somehow, its always easier to let a friendship/bond/relationship stand on its own feet when its just about you and that particular person. That way, both of you and not external parties control how the relationship moves, what is private and what is to be shared. Intimate moments are truly intimate and non-intimate moments remain within your private sphere. When relationships sour (don’t mean to be a pessimist but they always do), at least both parties can pack their bags and walk off.

Of course, you’re even luckier if you have a big clique and yet manage to have personal relationships with each individual member in that group. That way its a little safer since your friendships can exist on two separate realms.

All that aside, I think any friendship can last if both parties remain non-judgemental. In the last 2 years I have drained my life off all toxic friends. From big cliques, to people who just befriend me to party or to get the scoop on my life so that they can diss me later – everyone has been shut out completely. I don’t bother attending big functions, I don’t bother with group outings and most of all I rather just talk to one person or meet one person at a time. The exception for this would be my dance class friends – but that’s also because we share a bond that surpasses our friendships – our passion for dance. This way, no matter how fed up we are with each other ,we still stick it out because we need to work together. Glad at least this one circle (which is by the way a mini-circle of 5-6 people) still exists. (please don’t cast your evil eyes all you haters).

Anyhow, back to my initial point – good, sturdy friendships work on the premise of non-judgements. You know you have a true friend if you can come to him/her anytime and say what you feel at that exact point in time and not be judged for it 2 years later. You also know a true friend will tell you, they may hate your actions but they still love you. Friends are allowed to be completely biased – that’s why they are your friends.

So for those of you who wonder why I have become a hermit and have stayed away from general public and a lot of cliques I used to be chummy with – its no fault of the cliques or the people – its just that I don’t roll that way. I like my life the way it is – private.

Cheers folks!

Puthiya Uthiram – 3rd time round.

Two years ago I caught my first “Puthiya Uthiram” (New Blood) by Ravindran Drama Group. Puthiya Uthiram is a yearly production that is aimed at getting new directors and brand new artistes involved in theatre and providing them a platform to further their dreams of putting their thoughts to papers and then to stage.

I was rather impressed the first time I caught Saleem Hadi’s maiden production “Saakadai” (Filth) and Subramaniam Ganesh’s “Sathai” (Flesh) and blogged about my on the surface thoughts here. After re-reading the entry, I realised I said very little in the hopes that I would once again get to see “Saakadai” targetted at a slightly larger audience. However, 2 years down and it has never quite resurfaced.

Last year, I went to watch Puthiya Uthiram with the same fervour hoping I would get to see more geniuses like Saleem Hadi get a chance to display their work. However, “Nangu Suvargalukul” (Within 4 Walls) and “Kurugiya Vattam” (Narrow Circle), did not impress me or in any manner leave much of a good or a bad impression. Theatre that is just average is honestly quite disappointing – theatre can be bad, theatre can be great – but forgettable theatre is simply sad as theatre is so dynamic and has the propensity to be so impactful that when it slides past you, its quite a waste. Nevertheless, nothing quite captured me enough to write up till today.

Today, I caught Puthiya Uthiram for the 3rd year running. The bills featured were “Outsiders” by Karthik Prahad and “Hanuman:The Awakening” by James Kumar.

It is always exciting to see complete new faces at any production because it shows the dynamism of an organisation and their ability to keep progressing forward. In that sense, kudos to RDG because I saw a bevy of new faces – proving that even established organisations need not bank on their usual stable of stars to provide us A grade productions.

The Outsiders


The Outsiders was a semi-abstract play that revolved around 5 main characters and the setting of a bar. With many allegories made to the concepts of Plato’s Cave , the play revolved around identities and the relationships between the 5 people. The question that had been posed through most of their promotional work was “Who are the outsiders?” To be frank, I still have no freakin’ clue. I found the play very loaded and noisy. Noisy here does not refer to loud, audible sounds but instead the fact that the play was peppered with far too many little jabs and far-ranging issues and little connections. Dialogues I felt were too long and did not fit in-sync with the characters’ personalities. This was rather disappointing as RDG has always been known to be able to develop their characters to a T.The fact that I have very little to say about the characters individually, except that their behaviour, language and their personalities were very inconsistent is testament to how flat the characters turned out to be.

This is not to say that the play was all bad. There were many little nice issues that were brought up that took tiny jabs at our policies, our identities. Yet, till the end it remains unclear what exactly the play’s vision was. I am all up for abstraction and I do enjoy the surrealism in contemporary plays. However, I dislike plays that promise to say a lot about everything and end up saying nothing at all. This felt like one of those moments. Dialogues were long and sounded like prose extracted from various books – it would have looked fantastic as a script but it was a little silly to maintain that for an actual play. It didn’t help that apart from the two leads, most of the other cast members did not have fantastic diction.

I believe that sincerity and substance are key to a great play. Having a voice is one thing – we are all empowered at some point in time to speak up. But what is it we want to say is another? Outsiders could have been saved the tragedy if someone had stepped in to shave a lot of the other distractions out of the play. With a racy name like The Outsiders and with promises to delve into topics of identity, Plato’s Cave and apathy, I expected the play to be curt, direct and smart. There were glimmers of some talent here and there, but generally I felt the play go flat very often.

Furthermore, I felt that there were many moments of gray area when no one could understand what exactly was being said. It is generally so that in every play, there are a few moments of confusion or a few symbolisms that the general crowd can miss out on. Yet, here I felt that there was so very little I could understand.

However, I do have to credit the director and his cast for having been bold enough to come forth and stand tall in front of an audience to present their work. The debut performance is always the hardest and most exciting and I can only imagine the butterflies everyone must have had in their tummies.

I may have sounded particularly harsh with my judgements, but I strongly believe that it is solid feedback that makes someone better at their skill. I am honest and am not out to hurt anyone’s opinions and au contraire, anyone who decides to step into the line of performance must be ready to accept criticism of sorts with a thick hide. Nevertheless, I congratulate Karthik and his team for having entertained us and presented to us their work.

Hanuman: The Awakening


I honestly had no clue who this director was, nor did any of the faces except the lead protagonist look familiar. I did not know what to expect and quite honestly I was expecting some sort of a substandard play after the 1st half.

However, Hanuman totally blew me away. Hanuman reflected a simple story of a young boy and the strength of the human spirit. A young boy, much awe-inspired by the legacy his father has left him – the protagonist chooses boxing – his father’s passion and also the cause of his father’s death. During his match, he falls flat after being knocked out by his opponent. He wakes up and he is suddenly surrounded by Hanuman (the Hindu monkey-god whom his father told him to always believe in) and Dasa (Hanuman’s arch nemesis). The story continues in a part fantasy, part reality way and once again I am not going to go any further into what happens in the end. I believe endings are best enjoyed watching a performance so for those of you wanting to know, remember to go catch the plays when they happen!

But to put it simply, I was very impressed. A first time director who shone through both film and theatre. A simple, heartwarming clip that started the bill and ended the bill managed to seamlessly connect, not once cutting the tension. I am never a fan of theatre that requires external projections as I believe theatre can speak for itself and should maintain its liveness. Yet, in this one instance, the film managed to be so effective and so real not once projecting away from the realness of the situation.

Secondly, the sound was amazing. The music used was very appropriate and suited the entire theme.

Now the cast. They were mind blowing. Prasad the lead was very convincing. His young outlook made the film projection even more realistic. For some reason, I expected this boy to come onto stage and do a major overacting since he has had a lot of TV experience. Yet, he managed to be realistic and maintain his composure very well. His acting was very well-measured. There were a series of action scenes and some of them required a slow-motion effect. His experience as a dancer came in handy as his body isolation was impeccable.

Ruvinathan who played Hanuman was amazing too. He reminded me very much of those period dramas on Channel 8 where Sun-Wu-Kong would dart and fly everywhere. Difference is, this was LIVE and he did his somersaults, turns and movements so amazingly without once faltering on his expressions and his dialogues. Dinesh Nair who played Dasa was also very impactful. Special mention to Kalyan Kumar who played a Naradar-esque character. It takes guts to rip your dhoti off three times onstage. The two supporting monkeys Sreeram and Suresh managed to maintain great comedic sense and were the perfect supporting cast.

The cast used their space so effectively, they were all very fit and agile, darting across without even the slightest hesitation on their faces. They were well-rehearsed and extremely charismatic onstage.

The story here was a simple one – but it had a proper vision, a real goal and a plot that was well thought of with little distractions. Hence it worked. Kudos to James Kumar and his cast for a job well done.

On top of everything, due credit has to be given to the senior members of Ravindran Drama Group for their constant support. Productions like Puthiya Uthiram can go into oblivion within one showing. It isn’t easy talent spotting new directors and new artistes. In fact, banking on the old sturdy stable of artistes may be a sure-win. Yet they go all out to ensure a breath of fresh air is infused yearly through initiatives such as Puthiya Uthiram. It is always a pleasure to see Art thrive and I hope RDG continues maintaining such initiatives.

One could only hope that more geniuses such as Saleem Hadi and James Kumar come forward to share their talent. (Considerable to note that both guys managed to do excellent jobs on their first tries – imagine what happens when they hone their skills).

I am truly very proud of every one of the people who stood up onstage today and took their bow together – and I hope that each of them are blessed with great successes in their pursuits of their Art.

PS: A request to the kind people in RDG. Please try to make the fonts in your brochures a tad bigger. Have been squinting in various different angles trying to read all the messages and all I have gotten is a blinding headache.

I’m back – New and Improved!

Hello everyone – everyone meaning the birds, the flies and the other dustmites that have grown on this page. I have finally decided to get back into the game of writing and here I am.

Why suddenly – I hear all of you groan. Just when everyone thought I’m done with the pen (ermm keyboard) and here I am to traumatise everyone with my writing again. Its simple, I’ve come to realise that my blog was an essential part of my life and penning my thoughts and having the freedom to speak up seemed to make me a better person – someone I liked a lot more.

Much has changed in the last couple of months since I last truly blogged (don’t count the one-off entries). I’m done with NUS and I am actively jobhunting. I’m done with my Arangetram and actively dancing – teaching dance at a couple of schools as well. I have had my fair share of ups and downs but I’m still alive and still fighting as hard as hell.

Point is, I am BACK. (Attempts a Nanny voice). Anyhow what is in store for you in the next couple of months? Don’t worry I won’t pain you with the intricate details of my life as I used to. Gosh I wonder how all of you dealt with my whiney nonsense and philosophical blah blahs all these years! Of course you’d still see the random entries of me and all that I have to say – can’t shut an Indian woman up! But I’m expecting more photologs, food reviews, place reviews and book reviews. This is of course if my life goes as I expect it to.

And I guess that’s why those of you who still stick around do stick around – When will this girl ever learn?

Not anytime soon! Cheers everyone! I’m back!

When will the pain fade?

Sometimes I wonder if we do want the pain to fade. Does it not mean that the memories too become less imprinted when scars start to heal? I apologise if I sound rather cryptic but I cannot help but be like this at least for the rest of the day.

This year, I am not going to grieve. I am not going to sit and cry about your loss. Not that I don’t miss you or that I don’t yearn for your presence in my life. But this year, I am going to embrace you. This year, its all about you. I want to know how you feel and how we have fulfilled your dreams and expectations. I know you are watching and I know that every step of the way, you are and will always be there. But what I want to know is, if you are happy? Have we kept our promise to live life to the fullest and do what our heart desires? Have we become undesirable or disappointing in your eyes?

I miss you in every sense of the word. From that unique smell you have when you come out of the shower – the heat of the water mixed with the smell of smoke. I miss your rough palms on which time and time again you managed to get glue from the glue gun stuck onto. I miss your loud voice through the receiver everytime you called, leaving us complaining about whether you swallowed a microphone. I miss the way you dance with your hands in your pocket. I miss the rare times your phone number would flash on my handphone calling me to ask me if I wanted food.
I cannot imagine that its been 5 years and we are all still reeling – coping in our own ways. I know we are all hurting but none of us are ready to accept that you’re gone. You will never be, if you ask me. You have left so many little marks everywhere making it impossible for us to ever forget you. I think you have become my God. I no longer pray – I just talk to you. I imagine you sitting there, laughing heartily the way you always do, with a cigarette in one hand and one leg atop the other. I thought I had gotten a little better, being able to finally open up and share. But I realised, I’m still the same – I still miss you and I still need you terribly.

Its as if you chose to go because you just didn’t want to see. You didn’t want to see us get married, you didn’t want to see my arangetram, you didn’t want to see me graduate, you didn’t want to see any of these things. But how could you have not wanted to see? You sowed the seeds that have reaped into this beautiful garden. I really don’t know and I don’t expect you to answer any of my questions.

I’m not angry at you – I’m angry at myself. I’m angry that I never took those moments we had seriously enough till they were gone forever. I’m angry that I still take people for granted after all that has happened. I’m angry that I may never know what your dream for me was.

I miss you so much. I miss the fact that the minute you sit for dinner, that entire sofa is yours. I miss the way you’d fight for the remote. I miss being your baby.

Love you so much and no one, I repeat, no one will ever be able to fix that void you’ve left.

Life, Issues, People, Craziness.

So many things have been happening, some good, some bad, some neither here nor there. I don’t know if I should start ranting because this blog was never created with the intention to document my life, nor have I ever been one of those emo writers who can write about life in complex ways with random philosophies and statements (if you’ve never seen one of those, tell me, I’d direct you to one).

But life has been weird. Not a bad kind of weird, but things have just been happening and its become like some sort of broiler - things stacking up and heating up one after another.

I’ve just finished a series of must-dos for this year – ICS’ Camp Kathiroli for which I thankfully survived, raised some cash and changed some lives hopefully. My sister’s wedding which was godawesome and just a beautiful moment. But the big things are still here – I have got to ACE this Special Semester, I have got to contribute a little more for Sangae since I’ve already agreed to be a part of this and most of all, I have an arangetram in about less than 3 months. I’m pretty much starting to freak out. Am I going to pull this off? I sure as hell hope so.

Then there are people you deem to be the closest to you who start acting up. I don’t know why but they have to choose the oddest of times to pull these stunts. Its altogether awkward for me to hang out with an entire bunch of people just because I don’t want to make it awkward for you. Its amazing how you’re the last person I’d have imagined to drop a friend for a chic but apparently that happens to. Then someone whom I hold so close to my heart has to go into the weirdest, most oddest tantrum throwing mode when you least expect it.

At least I know you’re still here. But you come with your own set of problems and issues – and I don’t want to bog you down with any of mine. Yours are so hard to handle and mine are nothing in comparison. I worry though, as much as I am certain I don’t have issues with your baggage -it worries me that inadvertently something might just kill it for us. I don’t have the stamina or threshold to deal with yet another of these heartbreaks.  You’ve been so special to this date, and I hope you always will be.

I hope people realise I am not just sitting on my ass and wasting my time. When I hear complaints of how I’m always hanging on the phone or how I’ve not achieved anything – it frustrates and angers me. I’m trying to make things work for myself and this is my do-or-die-year. I hope to graduate in a year and a half, complete my dance debut, complete a great ICS presidency term, contribute to the colourful undergrad scene, participate in at least 2-3 major dance productions and a gazillion other small ones, teach tuition to two kids completing major examinations, be a good daughter to my mother since its just me and her at home now and most of all make something out of myself. So the next person who even suggests that I’m idle – I wouldn’t care who it is – but I’m pretty sure I’d burst.

So much for claiming I didn’t want to rant – but a girl’s allowed one or two such posts right?

MIA

I am certain many people have been wondering why I have seemed to disappear from the face of the earth over the last few months. Here are a few reasons. This is going to be a brief entry and I promise a longer, more interesting one over the next few weeks.

1.I lost my handphone.

I lost my phone about 3 months ago. As it was a prepaid card, it seems I cannot replace that number. As such, I am no longer contactable at 94451556. If you need me, please leave a comment with your number. I will not publish the comment and instead send you my current contact. MSN and Facebook are good options too.

2.I am dancing a lot.

I have been spending close to 4-5 hours a day dancing. I’m preparing for my Arangetram which is on September 13th. As such, its an extremely busy period for me. Please try to understand if I am unable to attend gatherings or other events. My dance teacher is 72 and she’s putting in the effort daily to perfect my moves, the least I can do amidst bruised kneees and swollen toes is to put in the same or even more effort.

3.I am renewing my life.

I am tired of that person I was. I am out of the two messy entanglements I found myself caught in. I am finally feeling a little renewed and it helps to remove myself from that social circle. Somehow or rather when you keep hanging out with people who are in some way attached to your past, you keep spiralling downwards back into it. I am finally up and out of that rut and I feel like I have some control over it. I’m getting some good habits and losing many other bad habits, as such I feel good being this way.

4.I am learning that I can choose to do just the things that are good for me and make me happy.

I’ve spent enough years grinning and going through events I hated or being around people I dislike. I am no longer going to go to places or be with people who don’t actually want me there but invite me anyway. I don’t wish to waste anyone’s time and my time is too precious to be wasted. As such I am going to do and be at the places that make me happy.

5.I am in dire need of some ME-TIME.

I’ve spent the last few years being there for my friends, celebrating birthdays, partying after exams, chatting for hours and most of all sacrificing my own time. Right now, I am getting in touch with myself and I am learning to become that person I always wanted to be. I’ve grown unfortunately into someone I do not completely like. I am finally changing this and gaining back some of my principles. This means, I need more time with myself to learn and love myself again.

6.I am busy.

On top of teaching dance at Yuhua, and dance classes, I am also the President of ICS and an undergraduate going onto my 4th year in NUS. I am also hoping to clinch another school to teach dance at and possibly a corporate client too. On top of this, my 2nd sister is getting married soon. Also, I have performances almost thrice a months. This means I am really very busy.

Yet, I feel guilty for going missing on so many people. I assure all of you that I am alive and kicking. I just need to figure myself out and love myself before I come back and figure everyone else out. I hope I am surrounded by enough loving people who would quit giving me attitude when I finally do call or meet up because thats just a reminder for me to stay MIA.

Loving all of you, and myself.

Aarthi

Oh Paapa Laali

There will be times when it feels like there’s just too much to bear, that the world’s load is on your shoulders. There will be times when it feels like you have no more tears left to shed, and yet the tears don’t seem to stop. There will be times when you seem like you’re spiralled downwards and yet you hit new lows. There will be times when all you feel is pain, pain that jabs, pain that breaks and pain that pulls your soul down. There will be times when no words can reassure, no arms can comfort, no heart can shelter and no smile can brighten your day. There will be times when it feels like no one is there, or rather no one understands.

Just remember, you’re so much more than that.  God made some of us leaders, and some of us followers. God made you a genius. Your talent isn’t something you learnt or gained over practice, its a gift. It’s in your blood, it’s your legacy. In fact, you are your legacy. I am not even the least bit qualified to sing of your praises. That’s how immense this gift you have is.

There has been a time and a setting set for you to gain what you truly deserve. Whatever you are going through right now, its just a necessary process to keep you humble, to keep you anchored and to make the labour of your fruit even sweeter.

That little dream that sits so inconspicuously in your glove compartment isn’t just your best work, its your soul.

The next time you feel empty inside, look left, I’ll be there.

Love,
Me.

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