2015: In A Little Over A Nutshell

It’s funny how this started off as some satire, but now has elevated to a tradition with myself. To be very frank, I have been subconsciously looking forward to this. Another year has passed, I’m 18 now (been so for half a year, too) and am a few months away from the end of FSc (22 weeks/154 days/3696 hours/221760 minutes/13305600 seconds ONLY.)

It’s scary how next year at this time I’ll either have accomplished my dream or failed in doing so, excuse the pessimism. I might actually be seeing my dreams actualizing into reality by next year’s review, assuming that the world hasn’t ended and I haven’t forgotten my blog’s password as I believe my last post was last year’s review.

It’s unsettling how much can change in a year, honestly. You can fall in and out of love. You become so close to some, and some people you thought you couldn’t live without show you that you can. You discover you like your coffee bitter, you like marshmallows and butterscotch, you like your toast burnt, your favorite color is black, you like yourself better in haphazard hair (reference: Instagram) and that you wouldn’t change anything about your life.

I think I should, for my own convenience, try to arrange this in some order. Or as a matter of fact, now that I think of it, I’m just going to write whatever comes to my mind in whatever order it does.

One of the momentous occasions teetering around the corner is my impending departure from college, a place that I have associated with a nonchalant love and odd refuge. I never had any overpowering loyalty to the institute, as what is expected of you. But then again, I didn’t have any for JT either. My greatest regret will be wasted potential. I could have participated in dramatics or in debates and definitely could have participated much more actively in the literary circles. But if I had done so, I wouldn’t have been able to cope with the sudden onslaught of academic pressure assaulting me on all fronts. In all honesty, I never had to exert myself that much in O’Levels, but FSc required a full sacrifice of hobbies, social life and sleep rolled into a I-could-have-done-better result. Then again, “could have been” is the equivalent of dividing a number by zero or the amount of birthdays in September.

I’ll miss the moments in college, hanging out with Fateh and making fun of people and cracking jokes lamer than the hockey guy. I’ll miss sitting in a circle with the dried grass under my hands (and in my hair), warm sunlight diffracting through my hair into my eyes and stomach hurting from laughing too much. Always having to keep your foot securely in your shoe lest it be lobbed up on some roof (clarification: the shoe, not the foot.)  I’ll miss sleeping in classes, begging teachers for attendance, headphones being a virtual staple of my daily look.

Most of all, I’ll miss that one bench in front of the café. The one where I used to go every morning, scrape it clean with some leaves that were invariably lying on it and then listen to songs until the first rays of the sun broke in through that one spiny tree next to the hostel building. That moment, with the leaves ablaze as the sun shone through them and cast first light upon the grounds, takes my breath away each time I see it.

I’ll miss this place, even after the indifference I’ve tried to maintain against it. I’ll never know why. Maybe I try too hard to convince myself that I don’t care. Or I try to believe that’s the case and I don’t really care at all. Only time will tell.

From a writer’s perspective, I have a lot of ideas lying around my brain waiting for any purchase they can find against my schedule. I’ll need weeks (maybe even months) for each idea which is pretty damn unfortunate since most days I don’t have enough time for lunch.

I don’t want to be pegged as conceited (which I have been…repeatedly) so let’s move on.  Many happenings in the mains: some fell apart and then they didn’t, some together and more so. Squad still persists, as I had no doubts before that it would.

The cold didn’t come in strong this time around. A lot of earthquakes occurring too: there was one as I was writing this sentence.

I realize I have become severely desensitized. My sense of humor has become absolutely grotesque and my conscience is almost as good as dead (cue dark joke.) Oddly, I have never felt better with myself. I recently feel as if I’m trying too hard to feel like I used to. I have to make a conscious effort to feel amused or saddened or offended. I have to force myself into being angry or being interested or having crushes (cue: Khayal 2015) to an extent that I always feel fake. I can still empathize but I can’t find it in me to sympathize. This is oddly unsettling, as I am a person who covets emotion greatly. I can’t understand the reason for this change, and I’m unsure as to if this is a gift or a horrendous curse. Perhaps it is my hectic and robotic schedule. I try to convince myself of that. Maybe this is a phase. I hope so.

The FSc result was really disappointing. Although I scored 88%, which is frankly more than what anyone expected of me, it was lesser than what I expected. I managed to satisfy everyone but myself. Here’s to hoping that this means to an end will pay off and that all’s well that ends well.

To move on to fun stuff- hold on the tube-light in the lounge just short-circuited and now the whole house is smelling of acrid burnt plastic and electricity smoke-this year we had a family trip to Naran Kaghan. This was such a long overdue trip, honestly. So this I intend to recreate as accurately as possible. Let’s begin, as soon as I check if the tube-light stopped smoking (cue picture of tube-light in leather jacket holding a packet of Malboro and leaning against a motorcycle).

To no great surprise, I found out about this trip when A sent me a snap of the 14-seater we had rented. Near my final paper, I was informed that we would leave a few days after my next paper.

We left 9 hours after my final paper.

DAY ONE:

The morning after my last paper, we had to leave early. And that we did. Hassan, the grouchy (and TOXIC spewing driver) we had hired, was late and we left at 7 although we were ready since 4. It was a long trip, considering E was sick. We stopped for crunchy biryani nearing Taxila, during the meal where there was a lizard directly staring down at us. It was still burning hot, and we were all regretting packing sweaters for our trip. This is June, by the way. We got back into the car, where we were 6 people in a 14 seater. We played cards while E slept and then I started to sing Feeling Myself, much to R’s chagrin and horror. It was nearing Naraan that the cold really kicked in, and then we regretted packing only light sweaters. By the time we reached Naraan, the temperature was in the negative. We quickly allowed Ijaz bae to move our suitcases to our rooms, our rooms being one door apart (in which room there were some particularly fat and scantily clad men to whom A took an inexplicable fancy. She tries to deny it but I saw it in her eyes. I saw.) We went out to dinner, where we saw this weird kid in a Salman Khan shirt and a family discussing what seemed to be a ménage e trois at the table next to ours. We got back to our hotel, and went to sleep.

DAY TWO:

The next morning, it was raining slightly. We had to go to Lake Saif-ul-Malook, but had to wait for the rain/sleet to subside. Our jeep driver was a grouchy man named Javed who took relish in scaring us to wit’s end. I was, luckily, on the front seat. Listening to my songs, we started our way towards the lake which is situated near the mountain’s top. The road there is muddy, ledge-less, unmade and bounded on one side by a steep mountain wall and on other by a fall so steep you can’t see the bottom. It was a very beautiful valley around us, with low hanging clouds and snowy peaks but I was too busy praying for my survival to appreciate the aesthetic. When we got to the lake, it was raining there too. R taught me that day that I don’t in fact know how to operate an umbrella. We stopped first for the best tea I have ever tasted, after which we went around the lake. We went to this snow bank where we just waded around in the snow. There was this odd couple of couples, there on a double honeymoon (?) who were haggling with the shoe rental guy to decrease the price of used rubber boots to 10 rupees.  Romantic. Speaking of shoes, E hates pebbles. After hearing the legend of the lake from a local, we returned to the hotel. After that, we took a walk and found an amazing seat at this newly opened restaurant called Punjab Tikka House. Its inauguration was on Friday, the day we were to leave. I wonder how it’s going. We went shopping that night, if I recall accurately. I bought necklaces and bracelets for friends.

DAY THREE:

We left in the morning to go to Lake Lulusar further north. It was north enough that I think we might have reached the Karokarams. There was extensive land-sliding in the way, some where the entire roads were destroyed. There were some avalanches with the snow banking either side of the road, towering overhead. At one point in particular, I remember the car broke down and we had to get an extra wheel from some random car. There were too many goats. We stopped near this river to eat lobia and have tea on the way. At the lake, we just sat and talked for a while. It was amazing, the water was clear and beautiful. On the way to and back, we stopped at a few springs to drink water straight from the ground. I wish I had taken my jar to collect tadpoles. My phone was also at 5 in the morning when we left. We came back for our last night in Naraan. On the way there, we stopped for horse riding on the river bed, where the water had dried in the form of an island in the middle of a river. We also stopped to cross a bridge across to the other side, which was beautiful and we could see the rapids beneath our feet. We went back to Punjab Tikka House, had some jalebis and tea and I consequently threw a bitch fit because no one was being adventurous. We then went across to PTDC’s bridge and crossed it, hiked up the mountain and saw the entire valley and river from up there. We went to PTDC (?) for dinner, before which we sat outside on the grass and played cards. It was followed by a bonfire, late at night. The sky over us was starry and sublime. A million blazing fires overhead against an inky backdrop, unpolluted by any light and us lying underneath, the fire blazing bright and just sitting and talking: it is one memory I might never forget. (A still regrets not charging her phone before we left.)During these few days, I had promised myself no internet to completely disconnect from the world for a few days. Lessons to learn: bitch-fits are good, always charge phone when having an aesthetic event and it’s good to disconnect once in a while.

DAY FOUR:

We bid adieu to the hotel, to Ijaz bae and went back. We hadn’t visited Siripai on our way up so decided to do so on our way down. At this particular stop near Shugran, Hassan vanished. That stop was really cool, with seats over a running spring. Collected lots of pebbles. Siripai was extremely interesting, to say the very least. We went with Nisar bae and the road is the most dangerous road like in any place ever. On the way down, I sat in the back of the jeep and might have contracted permanent brain damage from getting my head slammed around the car 10093434 times. Plus there is just a flimsy cloth keeping you in the jeep and from plummeting to your death many feet below. On top of Siripai, we just sat and watched the entire area from the top of a mountain. We hiked down on foot halfway down too, and met some really cute locals that we bribed with candy to take photos with.

On our way back, we stopped at Isloo to get burgers. We arrived back in Lahore late. Very very tired, homesick and A and I aware of what toxic means.

 

This trip made me realize what a humbling life the people in the mountains live: to live in shacks surrounded by towering mountains that can obliterate you in a blink. It makes man a lot less arrogant. I also started to think about last times.

How do we know if we aren’t doing something for the last time? We all must have had countless last times.

To visit a place for the last time. To talk to a person for the last time. To look at a particular thing, to taste some food, to breathe some air, to sit at some spot.

It astounds me as to how many last things I might have already done without even thinking about it.

 

This year was the year of Honeymoon (which rocked beyond words) and there was this one stretch when Selena, Demi, Justin, 1D and Adele were releasing music at once (2010 flashback.)

This year also marked Manto and Bajirao Mastani, two movies that consumed me with their unexpected aesthetic.

This year was a year of singing at Tenerife, of birthday surprises at Costa, meeting new people at Forest, amazing birthday parties at Hotspot and countless Pak Tea House excursions that never end well but happen anyway. Pretty girls at Khayal, ordering cakes that look and taste heavenly. Also, I feel like Soap Football is iconic enough to warrant a mention.

I feel like a fishbowl or a review can’t do justice to a whole year. A year of breathing and living, laughing and crying, feeling and detaching can’t be summed up, no matter how hard you try. But try I must and so I have. There are countless things I would have forgotten that keep coming back to me like tiny moths bombarding the bulb that is my glorious mind.

Writing for Gazette. Discovering new restaurants. New Internet. Letting go of hopeless things in life. In the end, we all just try.

Here’s to 2016. Arguably the most important year of my life. May this year bring a very full fishbowl, lots of happiness and joy and the tidings of a bright future. Here’s to TOO many good films coming over. Here’s to the last year of teenage life, to the last year of college life, to another year of many firsts and many lasts.

Till next time…

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