Thursday, February 3, 2011

Dizzy Lizzie

Now I want to talk about how the moniker Dizzy Lizzie came about.

Once upon a time, in a land not far away, I was traveling on a train from Delhi to Agra to see the Taj Mahal for the first time. As usual I had not reserved a seat on the train and hence, I was sitting on the floor of the train, near the door.

Now from this position, I was about a metre high from the ground below, and with the train going at about 100 miles per hour, I was staring at the earth and thinking about how pretty and blurred it looked as it passed by.

And then I started thinking about how dreamy it would be to just roll on this blurry blurry earth. It would be such a rush, I imagined. It is a sight that is often seen in Hindi movies - to save the heroine, the hero wraps himself around her and hurls them both off the train and then they roll and roll and roll on soft grass and they land in a patch of sweet smelling flowers. Then they look into each other’s eyes and see eternity for the first time. Sigh!

Then there are the action movies in which Ninja men and Powerpuff girls jump off trains, land on all fours and fight their socks off! So dreamy!

It was at this point that I knew from the bottom of my being that I had to jump off of a moving something in order to discover my true self.

(No. I did not jump off the train. Jeez!)

Two weeks later, I was in Bangalore to shoot a documentary on temple prostitution with my friend Kiki. Almost to the end of our trip, we were on our way to a particular temple on a bus and we were standing at the exit of the bus, waiting to get out.

Now the bus stopped and Kiki got out but before I could, the bus revved and started moving.

And I stood there for a second, frozen, wondering what to do and how I would find Kiki in this weird new place when I suddenly remembered the feeling I had while I was on the train to Agra.

'It's now or never', sang Elvis in my ears.

And I jumped out.

The next thing I felt was the unforgettable sensation of someone pulling me back and toppling me over. I fell on the ground on my back (actually on my laptop on my back) in the middle of the road.

Of course, cars screeched to a halt around me but I would know of that only later.

While the first point of impact was my back, the second was my head and I still remember the slice of utter pain that cut through my head.

But it is like I have been trained to laugh when I fall, so I laughed and got up and touched my head and it felt wet. And I look at my fingers and there it was. Blood!

So by around this time, Kiki, seeing my smiling face, comes over giggling and when I show her my bloody fingers she is pretty much gobsmacked.

Of course, we rushed to the hospital and the job was done with around 7 stitches and that's when Shakespeare whispered in my ear that, 'All's well that ends well.' I had fulfilled a fantasy and also not gotten seriously hurt.

And I had discovered myself in the process. I was a klutz, and most definitely, a fool.

It is common knowledge and more obviously, common sense that when you jump off something, you jump in the direction of motion.

It's the law of inertia that I learned in kindergarten. (I think!)

But in my frenzy, I did the exact opposite thing. I jumped against the motion, thinking that I would be a wall of force that could withstand the laws of motion or something. (FOOL!)

But like I said, I was fine and dandy and save the band aid around my head, had no insignia of my mishap.

Cut to ten days later.

I open my eyes in the wee hours of the morning to the sound of my mother changing into her walking clothes and I see the room spinning around. And I was confused. What was this. Was I dreaming? Was I drunk? Was I on a merry go round? Was I a child being spun around by an irritating uncle?

It was so weird.

In about 20 seconds, I started freaking out and possibly started screaming or crying or both. And my mother (who is a doctor BTW) came and comforted me a bit and went for her walk (you see, nothing can come in the way of her social life and her!!!).

By the time she got back, I was up too and while I didn't have any dizzy spells, I was feeling absolutely woozy and faint. (Now the funny part is, that while I was certain that this was because of the fall, my grandfather and mother kept telling me that this was because I was watching too much TV and reading while I was lying down! Like I haven't been doing exactly that for the past 24 years of my life!)

So I went for a few CAT scans and visited a few neurologist friends of my mother's and it was diagnosed.

I had Post Traumatic Stress Vertigo.

Apparently a few crystals in my inner ear had shaken around a bit and rendered me a little cuckoo.

And for the next 6 months, I woke up pretty much every day with my world spinning around and would have to eat this magic pill immediately to make it stop.

I couldn't sleep on my right, because any time I did, I would open my eyes to a spin. I couldn't go in a car or bike for more than an hour without feeling motion sick or dizzy. I couldn't move my head too fast without feeling sick. I couldn't look at someone in the eye without seeing weird hypnotic circles in them, much like what happens to Mowgli from the Jungle Book when Kaa looks at him. 


Fixed on Kaa's eyes, Mowgli's eyes turn into spirals as well, his mouth hanging ajar; all he can do now is stare and listen to the snake's seductive song.

And that became my way of life.

It was the bane of my existence, I tell you.

So anyways, one day, Thom and I were talking about comic writer pen names for us and he said that I should call myself Dizzy Lizzie.

And it stuck.

And that's all for today, folks.

Have a good evening! 

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