Spring nights, the nip of winter is still in the air and a song keeps me company under the nearly full moon
Spring nights, the nip of winter is still in the air and a song keeps me company under the nearly full moon
It was a long time back that I watched Wim Wenders’ film PIna on the late German choreographer Pina Bausch (1940-2009) who created new vocabulary of dance through her creations at Wuppertal TanzTheater. Inspite of it being so long back, and I have seen several performances before that and ever since, the images of Pina’s choreographic creations refuse to fade away from my memory and mind. The human stories that she evokes and that are performed so beautifully by her dancers, leave lasting impressions on one’s mind, making one slowly realize that any movement, even one performed with apparent ease, can possess a quality of enormity and terrific meaning.
Here is an excerpt of one of Pina’s creations Le Sacre du Printemps which was first performed in 1975, to t Igor Stravinsky’s orchestral composition.
Before you watch it though, it would be great if you read this small review written in 1997 by Nadine Meisner (for The Times, London), that so beautifully ekes out the physicality of the performance, almost bringing the dancers to life through her words. Writing about dance is indeed an art.
The women stand hunched and shuddery, near naked in flimsy beige shifts which they draw up with childish, ungainly immodesty. They are gripped by terror because they know one of them will be the sacrificial victim to mark the end of winter – the Chosen One who dances to the death. The red dress she will wear is passed among them, a rag both fearful and fascinating. They huddle together for comfort, then disintegrate into panic-stricken scurries as destiny stirs under the surface. And when a woman is chosen (Aurelie Dupont) by the male leader, the music briefly unleashes the colossal power of its drums, like the cracking of the Russian ice in spring. It signals the release of pent-up sexual longing, the men and women flying like shards into each other’s arms.
What makes Bausch’s Rite so extraordinary is the balance between visceral realism and intervals of vivid, orchestrated geometry: the phalanxes of unison dance, the circle of dancers revolving with stately vastness to the music slow’s section, like the cycle of the seasons, like life. And then there are Bausch’s emotional images: the crowd waiting before the victim like spectators at a bullfight; the girl’s frozen terror as she is forced to walk by the man, who pushes her, half holding her up, her feet resisting hopelessly against the loose soil.
The Times (London)
18 June 1997
Its 8.45pm and I am still at work. No one is keeping me here but the desire to be alone in a quiet place makes me want to remain here for a while longer.
It is strange how, in this place that is nothing like home used to be, I just now could smell my mothers Adai.
It was definitely one of her best dishes, crispy crunchy golden adais with an occassional curry leaf and amazing with a lump of white butter.
I long for that flavour. I breathe in deeply, but none of that smell remains.
Despite being an extremely scatologocally obsessed person, I try to keep my blog outside that zone and never crack any potty jokes or talk about how good/bad my excretory functions have been each morning.
But after so long, there has been an amazing breakthrough in life and its only fair to humanity to share it here.
Before I start, here is a DISCLAIMER: If you are disgusted by talk about menstruation and blood, stop reading now. If you are a woman looking for a happy period or a human who wants to gift a woman a happy period, read on!
Before I go on about what I have just discovered, I am going to birefly go over my prior experience with periods.
Inspite of having dealt with menstruation or periods for 10 years, I don’t remember a single time when I have not cursed the ordeals a woman has to go through because of this monthly occurence. My periods have spoilt many situations, such as school picnics, swimming competitions, days out on the beach, train journeys, trekking expeditions, comfortable nights of sleep, nights with boys I might fancy and have even spoilt nice skirts because of leaks and stains. (Need I complain about the extra laundry that a leak makes us do?)
Unlike most other women, I have had to suffer from only occassional cramps in my back and have not had to go through whole days of debilitating pain that reconciles me to the bed as I know many friends have to. Ofcourse I have also had bouts of PMS (yes, this is a real thing) where I am sulky and make it a point to let everyone know.
I had been using Sanitary napkins to handle the menstrual flow and thought it was great that I had managed to find a brand that made wide, thin and absorbent napkins that guarantee 90% chances of no leak. and yet , I have some friends who have acute menstrual conditions and have to change 11 of those very same pads in a single day.
This whole ordeal of a monthly occurrence (I must say it is an ordeal even if its not monthly because then one might fret about pregnancy) causes great physical and mental anxiety and pain, and also causes a whole in our pockets. I would spend about Rs120 every month on sanitary napkins and I know that for many women, it is much more.
But now! with the advent of January 2014, during my first period of the year, I looked something like this.
The main reason behind this was…
Drumroll….da dum da dum!!
….The main reason behind this was that I used a MOONCUP!!
What is a Mooncup?
A Mooncup is a silicone menstrual cup that is a safer, convinient and eco-friendly alternative to tampons and sanitary napkins. As mooncup.co.uk claims rightfully, the Mooncup menstrual cup offers an end to the waste, discomfort and expense of disposable sanitary protection.
What does it look like?
As the product already claims and has been testified to be true by many many women around the world, the mooncup is caring for the woman’s vagina. Tampons often cause dryness and sanitary napkins can cause rashes. But the Mooncup is safer as it is made from soft medical grade silicone, is latex-free, contains no dyes, bleaches or toxins.
It is an Environment-friendly option. It is reusable.One mooncup can be used for every day of the period, for every period, for even upto 10 years. It is extremely easy to clean and sterilise , and hence will not cause any infection. While sanitary napkins and tampons fill up landfills all over the world, the mooncup is sensitive to Mother Nature.
Since it is reusable, it is obviously a cheaper option. I paid Rs1800 for the mooncup (I din’t have to pay for shipping as I asked someone to bring it for me from London), and this means that in a little more than a year I will make up the cost.
HOW it is used?
This video can explain better.
It might sound disgusting to you, but trust me , it is actually beautiful.
Why I LOVE the Mooncup?
I have never ever before been so happy about my period. I AM ACTUALLY HAPPY DURING MY PERIOD.
I must give a little bit too much information here, but it is necessary. I have actually gotten to know my body better and appreciate it more now. I am in awe of nature for having creating such beautifully complicated biological systems. I have even gotten to understand my period better, knowing better than ever before, the exact state of my flow as the period progresses. I din’t remember at any point during my period, that I actually had ’em because I felt none of the usual discomfort.
Physical activity, Exercise and dancing wearing a mooncup: Absolutely safe. Absolutely comfortable. I could even dance freely and do multiple somersaults during dance class while wearing a mooncup during my period.
[Addition on Oct 25th , 2014: So this year I also went open water diving in the Andaman and Nicobar islands and got my period on the last day. I did not use the mooncup because scientifically we figured that if there is an air pocket that cannot be equalized (My friend rightly pointed out that this would requiure me to equalize my vagina, hahaha), it was safe to not use the mooncup without consultation or advice about whether it is safe to use while diving where pressure imbalance can be created at even a few meters underwater. So I just used a tampon for the first time in my life. If you know about how diving and mooncups go together, please let me know!]
Cramps: Though I don’t have much experience with this problem, my friend who got the mooncup for me from the UK and has been using the mooncup for 7 years now, says that even her cramps and body pain reduced ever since she started using the mooncup. However, I can’t really figure out any scientific reason this should happen and it may just be a coincidence.
I am a cheap-master. So I am a big time kanjoos (Terminology: Miser). Towards the end of the period, say the 5th day, when I think that it is probably over and wouldn’t want t waste a sanitary pad (Rs12 ish) on it and just go to class/work like its a normal day. Then I get like a 3 ml flow and its annoying. Now there is laundry to be done and I wear fresh knickers and decide to use a pad. Thats when there is no flow! Great, Waste of money. Hmmph!
But a Mooncup can be used till the end of the period, for all days! This makes it even more economical and a sensible option for women who have longer menstrual cycles.
The Difficulty and Challenge of using the Mooncup
This was only initially when I was nervous about putting such a large thing up my vajajay. I postponed using it for four months after buying it. Once I finally tired, I failed and chickened out. The next month, I actually got through and had to immediately ride my scooter. I felt it prick under me and realized I had gotten it wrong as you are not even supposed to feel it there! The next attempt I got it right but din’t know how to get it out! Then I remembered that you just have to “breathe,relax and push down.” One day I even missed my dance class as I was afraid that if I did somersaults, the menstrual blood woudl flow back to my falopian tubes or something. None of that happened and I was absolutely comfortable during the next period when I went for super active dance and yoga classes.
It has certainly been a challenging and learning experience. But boy am I glad about this one!
For all the above reasons and many more I may soon discover, I am sure that I will never ever go back to any other form of sanitary protection for menstruation after using the Mooncup.
If you want testimonials from more women , this is one of the many I like.
Finally, a pretty neat rap battle between the tampon and the mooncup!
So! On the 17th day of January, I decided to kick off with the Number 1 thing on my Bucket list for the year. I booked a ticket for the very next day, on the train to Bombay!
The 1.5 days I spent there were a crazy fest of amazing food, friends, family,barely any sleep, warmth and memories!
Its difficult to talk or write about Bombay simply because I am so aware of my bias to the city I call home, where I know I will always belong but probably would not want to go back to live in. Walking down familiar paths with old friends and breathing in the sea-breeze, it felt like the easiest and most natural thing to be there with those very people. It was so wonderful to be able to talk about things to a friend who knows you since you were 3 and someone who has seen you through all the masks and facades you put up until there were no more left, and knows you for real. and accepts, and embraces and loves. you. There was no need to give a context or explain a story, it all just came from the knowledge of growing up together, in the same little town where most people knew eachother, and lived as a community, with its small failings, and small victories.
I met exactly the people I would meet if I had a limited time in my hometown and the one person I would love to meet but hadn’t made a plan with, I bumped into her on the street although she doesn’t live there anymore either! I ate exactly all that I would have eaten and have been missing.
I had several realizations in the hours I spent there, some whilst sober and other not, which I would like to put down here.
1. Every person from Bombay is an AMAZING dancer of the street ghaati/Ganpati visarjan style. (Look at the little boy in purple going for it here to know what I mean!) I keep forgetting that in Delhi where I have no company for it!
2. Into the Wild should be the next book I add to my reading list. Heard Eddie Vader belting out Society in a room full of happy people and realized that I am someone who likes to live on teh edge or outside of society and thats the kind of people I end up making friends with. hmmm
3. I live intensely in the moment. In the night I spent in Lonavla, for most of the night, I din’t remember or think about a single thing outside of the exact minute I was in, There was no past, no future.
4. A thought about my current partner or the fact that I have one, passed my mind for the first time in the night at 1.30am. I wonder if thinking about someone you think/claim you love after a gap of four and a half hours is normal. How are people supposed to be in love if they are supposed to be any one way at all?!
5. I love Pav Bhaji, and it will always be my number one favourite dish.
I am glad this is how 2014 has started. I am feeling at peace and yet all the atoms that make me are going crazy bouncing off eachother. Thats what Bombay does to me. Its my medicine and my bane. I love it there.
Also just realized that I haven’t been doing much from the rest if my bucket list, oops! Signing off, here’s a song dedicated to Bombay and its warm showers. Bombay Rain, I think of you often.
Yesterday I noticed my lover’s shoulder.
Winter fogged the window behind the drapes, but a warmth created by the room heater(second-hand but in perfect condition)
and two loving bodies engulfed the room. Delicate yellow light from a bed-side shade threw shadows on us
and my eyes
and especially his shoulders.
After watching an episode of Sherlock(Season 3 episode 3 brilliant!) with him,
discussing, dissecting, and laughing about it, with him,
it was the only place I wanted to be in
and no Spy with a voice like Benedict Cumberbatch could have changed that.
In the process of writing this, I have just now google-searched the words ‘shoulder anatomy’
to understand and explain to you exactly
how beautiful did look my lover’s shoulders.
It was neither the most-muscular nor the most-toned shoulder I have seen,
nothing like Daniel Craig in his better days.
But a certain manner in which he held me in those moments,
shone three distinct lines of muscle and sinew in yellow shadows,
that whispered to me about love, care and affection,
and made me wonder at the universe that could make these shoulders possible.
“Ah Science! Ah Universe!”, thought I
and stretched out my arms barely tracing my fingers over them,
too afraid to alter the grace
that is held within the petals of my lover’s shoulders.
I din’t think until now that his shoulders are a different colour from my own.
While his shine like smooth ivory,
mine are more like wood, varying between shades of walnut and chestnut in parts.
But we are happy to push our shoulders together in the darkness of the cinema,
and brush them gently against one another,
unnoticed in the chatter and laughter of social gatherings.
(This specific shoulder of my lover has no moles,
unlike his back whose landscape is scattered with stars,
that are nice to kiss or to play join-the-dots.)
If I was O. Henry or Guy de Maupassant, I would tell you that those shoulders had no arms to end,
or if I was Sir Doyle or Oscar Wilde, my lover would be a spy, a prince or a frog.
But this is not a story and its no such romantic thing.
This is real life and my lover is real person.
with a human heart.
(and beautiful shoulders.)
As I mentioned in my previous post, I have come across some very useful gyaan (TERMINOLOGY: gyaan- knowledge/ advice (Hindi)) about life and the state of things as they are in the world and think it might be nice of me to dispense it to you guys.
I should like to give credit to my friend Gilgamesh who is the creator of this theory and also in this process am attempting to set him up with any women who read this (only because thats how he leans though I think guys should try too).
So the theory goes like this —
Most things in life are like a bus stop.
You wait at the bus stop for ages and forever, but there wouldn’t be any sign of the bus. But suddenly, after forever, 3-4 buses come together one after the other, and confuse you about which one to take. If you board a bus, can you get off before the final destination? How committed are you expected to be to the bus? Can other people board the bus? Will the bus get moody and break down on the way? What if the bus isn’t going where you want to go? Would you do best to leave all the buses and take your own private vehicle even if that means cycling alone for miles?
Or do you take a chance?
Its in your hands, your mind, your heart. It is in you.
Anyway, the point was that as Gilgamesh has profoundly pointed out, Life is like a bus stop. Whether you apply it to work, education, passions, love lives, oppportunities, or anything that might not even matter at all. Are you taking a chance?
Are you boarding a bus?