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Bombay blues

The blue of longing in Bombay is in its waters. In the vast Arabian Sea to the west that meets the city at its southernmost point, Marine Drive. It is my escape. It is my horizon. It is my yonder. It is my edge of the world, and the start of another. I sat there last night talking to N, a friend in another city while waiting to meet R, who was ten minutes away from me, and was struck by two thoughts that Solnit talks about – desire and longing.

We treat desire as a problem to be solved, address what desire is for and focus on that something and how to acquire it rather than on the nature and the sensation of desire, though often it is the distance between us and the object of desire that fills the space between with the blue of longing”.

It is my blue of longing.

Last night R and I started discussing connection, or the lack of it, that made people engage in one-way interactions seemingly disguised as “conversations” through instant messaging, fleeting interactions and mostly just a desire to be heard above the rest. I am honestly annoyed by people having long conversations over impersonal mediums without bothering to make the time for the same in person. We were both frustrated with how people confuse connectivity with connection and I began thinking about the spaces between us. Virtual spaces are slowly encroaching upon my emotional and physical boundaries to such an extent that I’m made to feel almost wrong for wanting them both simultaneously. Are we so scared to address our desire to connect and sit with that desire and accept it, so much that we make a connection – however fleeting – and then move on as if the desire has been addressed? I leave so many dinners and outings here recently feeling unfulfilled, mostly because they’ve ended up feeling cursory and a lame attempt at a checklist of how interactions should be, and I wish I knew how to change the nature of my interactions with people to a point where every one of them allowed me to lose myself in the other person. I want to not be afraid of depth, and of the unknown and release myself from the shackles of having to arrive somewhere with every interaction. It makes me think of purpose and how purpose is sometimes in conflict with desire. The two sometimes get confused for meaning one and the same thing, but I’m starting to think more about the chicken-and-the-egg with these two concepts. I’d like to believe that the desire to connect is what shapes the purpose of my longing but at times I feel as if the purpose is almost transactional. This then reduces my desire, my longing, to a destination where  – once I’ve arrived – I must renounce it. And I’m not okay with that.

I’m not okay with defining the depth of desire to connect. I’m not okay with defining desire in terms of distance or even as something linear or unidirectional. I look back out onto the slate blue sea during the late afternoons or the midnight blue waters as heaven and earth merge into one by the time the rest of the city is asleep and I want that. I want desire and longing that has no beginning or end, which flows around me and pushes me where the wind blows. I want my spaces to be filled with depth that can hold both the destination and the journey.

Look across the distance without wanting to close it up.

Own your own longing in the same way that you own the beauty of that blue, that can never be possessed.

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1 Comment

  1. hector says:

    Great work, Ria. Indeed. You’re getting at something that I’ve been thinking about – post and pre reading Solnit: “Virtual spaces are slowly encroaching upon my emotional and physical boundaries to such an extent that I’m made to feel almost wrong for wanting them both simultaneously.”

    This is an interesting notion, indeed – but I don’t know whether we can feel otherwise. But it’s changing us – no less, though, than in the matter of our “connectivity” and “connection” blurring of boundaries. I agree with you here. How do we tell the difference when we live both? It seems to me that, generally speaking, there are forces that privilege connectivity over connection and that the connection (that’s privileged) is merely a commercial one – us as commodities in the great scheme of things and commodities to each other. The commodification of human experience, let’s say.

    Which takes me back to the Solnit quote you use – “We treat desire as a problem to be solved..”. Indeed. Desire as an efficiency that has to be obtained and commodified, defined in terms of acquisition and attainment – rather than being, where the “nature and sensation of desire” actually live.

    But I think we may be scared of simply floating or, say, being in that sensation of whose nature there is a deep – and sometimes unknowable – desire. It’s not very PC to hint at and really delve deeply – even passionately – into desire. We’re very frightened of this and there are so many “isms” that become great obstacles to reaching into the “nature and sensation of desire.”

    What I think is wonderful about Solnit is that she asks us to stop, take a moment and consider the impediments that might reside in each of us and that keep us from desiring …

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