Friday, October 31, 2008

the deprived desi

I love ziplock bags.

The thing is they were always so foreign. and desirable.

I first saw them when my cousins came down from the states. And that was it, love at first sight.

I was envious of how casually my american relatives treated these precious bags. They carried medicines in them, make up stuff in another, prayer books and all sorts of odds and ends.

I was too shy to ask for one. Then one day I saw my aunt empty the one that carried her make up, and toss it where the pile of old newspapers used to stay stacked.

this was my chance, to own my very own zip lock bag. i'd carry my lunch in it. i'd put my make up stuff in it. i'd casually chop some fruit and toss it in to the bag. even though I didn't really like fruit back then. All this flashed through my head. and then, my other aunt pounced on the bag. she had been eyeing them too. like a hawk. and she was faster than me.

so my american cousins, as a parting gift, gave her all their zip lock bags. and my silent love for them just grew.

Over the last ten years I've managed to collect my own little horde of ziplock bags. Most have landed in my lap, when friends have landed over left over food. What they don't know is, I couldn't care less about the food, I just hunger for those bags.

Any how, now i'm helping MIAMA pack his bags. And yesterday I bought a dozen zip lock bags. So he can keep his first aid kit, the dry fruits, the lip balm...each in it's own zip lock bag.

Sometimes, being old aint that bad. at least you can afford as many zip locks as your heart desires.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

sweet summer

i was eighteen that summer.

just back from college. with two months to kill.

he was twenty.

waiting to go start his training. with two months to kill.

we had to meet. we were just three people that age out there. he, his sister and i.

so, like it happens in the movies and the books, we hung out.

we went for walks. we drank copious amounts of mango shake sitting on the steps of my house. we went exploring on his scooter. and we talked and talked.

his sister at some point left us alone. so that's how we ended up spending most of the summer together. my mother was amused, and insists even today that he polished off all her snacks waiting around for me. but it was perfect.

warm in the mornings. warm enough to drink cold coffee in tall glasses with lots of ice in it. warm enough to go driving off across bad roads, stop under a large tree and watch a train roll past in the distance.

warm enough to just sit in my room under the fan, talking about friends and things we wanted to see and do. warm enough to walk lazily to the mess, and pick books from the library. warm enough to stand at the gate endlessly, talking again, until it was time to go home for lunch.

warm enough to meet again in the evening, and hang out at the kids park. to sit in my driveway, and try and fix my rickety old moped together. and warm enough for regular tambola nights.

then, finally the day when we had to leave. strange, because somehow we were on the same vehicle to calcutta. i don't remember saying bye or what it felt like. but i remember writing to him for a few months. and then slowly the summer faded from my memory.

it was the sweetest summer. i liked him. i thought he liked me too. but i never asked. and neither did he.

then sixteen years later, i speak to him this morning. he doesn't sound anything like he did. but then i really don't remember. we laugh, talk all jumbled, try and fill in the years.

i tell him we'll meet. but i don't think so. not because of anything. but because somethings are meant to stay blurred, slightly faded.

and some summers are meant to stay perfect.

damn fool things

or things we can do away with.

1. the indian judiciary.

raj walks away scot free yet again. they can't muzzle him, they can't arrest him. in case you didn't notice we live in a lawless nation.

2. the jumbled words that appear when you write on someone's comment page on a blog.

you have to fill your email id. or your blogger one. you have to type your password in. so then what's the point of having those strange alphabets that a dyslexic like me takes 15 minutes and six trys getting right. this is even when i stick my tongue out and go pop eyed with concentration.

3. hair. on the legs.

i'm sick of waiting for them to grow to a reasonable length before i can wax them, without pulling off some skin. i'm tired of waiting, sometimes for weeks. always having to wear full length stuff. because my hair refuses to co operate. i'm fed up of finally getting sick and tired of the whole thing and using the razor. yuck. i hate bristles.

4. charging.

duhhh. this is when we're cloning stuff and sending random folks to the moon. but guess what you still need to charge your phone and laptop. and if you are like me, who hates putting plug to point, then welcome to the land of beep beep hell. because every time you really need the phone or the laptop, the battery is blinking at you like an evil eyed monster. why? is it that tough to create a phone that charges using the sun or water or my breath or something.

please add shops where you have to show the bill when you are on your way out. this is specially true when your arms are weighted down by bags, and all the bored man at the door wants to do is stamp the bill. for reasons totally unkown to mankind.

there. i feel better for now.

so happy diwali. oooh....also add those mass forward happy whatever messages. darn stupid people who send those darn stupid things.

well, you know who's not getting any messages this year then : )

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

dancing in the dark

I’m flipping through a magazine. And i come across an article, “ ten signs that your child is turning a rebel.”
Right. Like it takes only ten signs.

Anyway, it got me thinking about my childhood, or rather adolescence and rebellion. So here’s my story.

When i was 15, my family moved to a very remote part of the country. In the middle of my school year.

So imagine, you have your friends, your best friends, you are every teacher’s pet (except the hindi ma’am), you love your school, you are marked to be head girl, the cute cultural captain has a crush on you ...
and then one fine day you’re told you’re leaving that school.

Anyway, so after my half yearly exams we move. And land up in the boondocks. Sure it’s pretty. But for some reason my parents decide to stay with some friends. Who stay miles and miles away from civilisation or even the nearest village.

Anyway, two months later, my father has to move again. And my folks decided to separate for a while. However, since I have school, they decide to leave me behind. And actually I'm pretty excited about escaping the omnipresent parental eye.

Only problem is I hate the school. And most of the school hates me.
They label me fast. And not because I’m a great sprinter, but because I hang out with the senior boys.
They label me USA, (ya, remember this is a school in the boondocks. USA means all the bad thngs a girl can ever be)because one day I go for a walk with the guys to a canteen like shack behind the school.

So here I am. 15 going on 16. No parental supervision. Living with some people who were sweet but had no idea what to do with me. And going to a school I absolutely could not fit into.

And without even knowing it (see, that’s where the ten signs would have helped), I decide to turn rebel.

So I start by moving to the back bench.

Then I start to defy the teachers. I back chat, I make fun of them, I talk with a different accent every day. I laugh when they tell me to leave the class.

Next, I start to respond to a senior who’s been giving me the vibes. I hang out at the bike stand with him. I walk to the cigarette shop with him. And one day, in the middle of the school day, I decide to take him up on his offer and go for a bike ride.

Well, the whole school is agog. My woolly guardians have no clue about any of this. So when on my birthday I ask them if I can ask my friends over, they readily agree.

I don’t know what they expect, but they definitely look a little worried when my friends roar in that evening. Five senior boys who look much older than me. Luckily my smoke screen girl friend, also turns up. And two of my classmates. The tallest boys in class, who share the back bench with me.

We tell woolly guardians we’re going for a walk.

The senior boys have vodka bottles in their jackets. I’ve never really had a drink before that. But what the hell, it’s my birthday, and there’s no one to tell me what to do.

So I take a few glugs and then some more. Soon we’re all singing and pushing each other. Everyone is high. We go back, eat, and go for another walk. This time we drink rum. My two tall back bench classmates refuse to leave my side. I smoke two cigarettes, cough till tears roll down my eyes, then throw up. Drink some more rum, and throw up some more. Somehow I make it home after that second walk, ( my trusting guardians are fast asleep) get to my bed and pass out.

Point is that was really my first rebellion. I had many more moments in those four months.

In retrospect it seems stupid. Even dangerous. What if something had happened? What if those senior guys had tried something?

But back then, things were different. Thankfully.

And ya, there’s a another reason I say trust the universe. For in those four months, when there was no one to keep an eye on me, there were two boys. Who sat in the back bench with me. Who always managed to hang around me. Who somehow kept me out of trouble. And made me keep like someone cared.

I never kept in touch with them. I was so determined to get that phase behind me. But they were, for all purposes, my rebel phase guardian angels. Two tall, gangly, always on the verge of failing, 16 year old back benchers! Ha!

.... .- ...- . | .- | .--. .-.. .- - . | --- ..-. | ..-. .-. --- --. ... | .-.. . --. ... | --- -. | -- .

the other day someone called me a dilettante.

and boom, it was like a moment of clarity. because that's exactly what i am. a lover of all things, art, culture, sports. The only catch is it's always like an intense but fleeting love affair. One month at the most, and then, okay what's next.

you see, in my head i'm sort of like a character from a book. in fact the closest i've come to saying aah that could be me has been Olivia Joules in Olivia Joules and the Overactive Imagination.

It's not a great book, if you don't like that sort of thing (far out plot, poison, secret service characters, shady Osama like guys, international playboys, drugs, beheadings and a loony female who's out to save the world from things she hasn't figured out as yet)

But back to me. So in my head I'm sort of like Olivia Joules. Which is why I believe that it is of utmost importance to know a little bit of everything.

For example:

I learnt to tie nine different types of knots from a book called the Dangerous book for Boys or something like that. On the premise that someday I might be holed up in a medieval castle, and might have to tie a knot around the bedpost to slither down the tower. It would certainly help if the knot stayed, hence the nine different types of knots. Oh ya, also tried to learn morse code, but got kind of bored after dit dit dah.

I learnt to jive, watlz, salsa and do a mean cha cha cha this summer. again, maybe when i'm on an international mission through morocco and need to attend a ball, nobody can fault my manners or my dancing skills.

Then there's a bit of yoga. Some painting. decoupage. I've been learning to strum a few chords on the guitar. I'm trying my hand at gardening.

Then in November I move on to bharatnatyam. And horse riding.

After which my list includes learning some magic tricks (already know two super card tricks), vedic maths (you can not be a secret agent and count on your fingers). being able to identify poisonous snakes and name them. I also really want to learn carpentary, welding and operating a sewing machine. And riffle shooting.

hair cutting. 5 gourmet meals. 6 mean desserts. Crochet. Photoshop (yeah, I know, shame on me). Reading and writing two languages.

The list continues. People collect bone china, stamps, gadgets. I collect things to learn.

The life of a secret agent is tougher than you think.

(ps: the title of this post is in morse code. go to to break it)

Friday, October 17, 2008

remind me, how old am I?

i hate partings.

not the one's in your hair, but the tata types.

so naturally these days i'm a bit down and out. and when i start to pms, that will become an understatement.

but, the thing is, the man I'm mad about, who will henceforth be referred to as MIAMA on this blog is going to climb a mountain. He's going to be gone for three weeks. Minimum.

To a neighbouring country, where the flights are dicey and telecommunication is not very good, unless he carries a satellite phone. or a homing pigeon.

So I'm not going to see his mug every morning and evening. I'm not going to sleep knowing that he's right beside me. And I'm not going to be able to call him any time I feel like.

I'm happy he's going. Because we must all do our thing that gives us joy. But I am, though I'm trying not to, a little worried.

Then there's the car I'm mad about (CIAMA!) . It's been with me for seven years. And I'm in a serious committed relationship with it. But now, it's sounding wierd. After the last servicing, the engine doesn't sound like it used to. They changed the horn, and I can hardly recognise the sound. And now I know it has to go.

And then to top it all, this morning, when I'm driving to work, the damn FM station decides to play sad love songs. The depressing mopey kinds.

Darn. I really need to get my big girl underwear out.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

for the sax of the heyvans and the gods

i like raja choudhary.

for those of you who know who he is, and have passed out in shock, please... go smell some smelly socks.

for those of you who are wondering, who the fuck is raja, let me enlighten you. he is the guy, (note: not a guy, but the guy) on Big Boss, the desi version of Big Brother.

He is also Shweta Tewari's estranged husband. And at this point in case you are wondering who the fuck is Shweta Tewari, it really doesn't matter, because this post is about Raja Choudhary.

Okay, let me further your tellywood knowledge. Shweta Tewari is a serial saas bahu'er.

Back to Raja Choudhary. He's an alleged wife beater. His claim to fame are serials like Your Honour and Daddy Samjha Karo. Never heard of them? Well, neither has anyone else. (And I just saved you a google search).

But I love him. Right now he's on top of my cool guy charts. For starters there's his english. Please refer to title: for the sax of the heyvans and the gods. This gem was uttered by Raja during a fight with a female contestant. Another sample: you should shame on you. Don't try to play a games.

Okay. So that's the funny part. There's also his whole attitude of being the trouble maker in the show. He needles people, provokes them into losing their temper. And sometimes loses his, big time, till you think he's going to get into a fist fight.

But I still like him. In fact I think he's hot, in a sort of very desi cave man way.

Disgusting. There really is no accounting for taste.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

~ we both know what memories can bring.

they bring diamonds and rust. ~ joan baez

I love this song. It makes me terribly nostalgic. Not for any person. But for the whole concept of love, and how doomed it really is. So well, I wrote a story about it. And now I present to you, my version of diamonds and rust.

She stared at the letters in her hand. She knew every word written inside.

Promises of love. Dreams he saw. Conversations he had. His friends. They were all there, in these letters.

She blinked as she looked up. The house was silent. U was in the bath. She could hear the shower.

The windowless kitchen was bathed in a fluorescent yellow light, from the new eco saving bulbs they had switched to. As usual, everything was perfect, in its place. The pretty jute basket with onions and potatoes. The set of knives on a wooden block. The sauce, the pepper grinder and butter dish in a tray. She noticed them all, carefully bought, well looked after. This is what she had always wanted.

She looked down at his letters again. Yesterday she met the woman he was serious about.
She hadn’t wanted to. Oh, some part of her was curious. Would she be thin? Fat? Pretty? Smart? A bitch? But she was scared; he had never asked her to meet any of his girlfriends before.

At dinner she knew why. He was serious about this woman. It was the way he looked at her. The way their heads touched when they scanned the menu. The way he said her name. Even though they tried hard not to give it away. Not to let any of their feelings for each other leak out, she could feel it.

She smiled brightly through it all. Laughed at how they must look. The ex and the present all having a good time together. This is so nice. Why can’t more people be civilised about this sort of thing?

When the gooey chocolate arrived, and she was just beginning to feel the tiredness sweep through her limbs, he looked at her, and said, “ Sleepy? Let’s go, I’ll ask for the bill.” She felt her heart stop. She still loved him. Even after two years, countless days, drunken nights, flings, a marriage....

He was saying something. She looked up. “ We plan to get married end of this year. Her folks are coming down from agra...”

That was it. She always thought that the day she tore his letters she’ll have a grand party. Call all her friends. Laugh and sing till the wee hours of the morning. Because it would be over. She would be healed. He would be forgotten.

And the letters... she imagined a bonfire. Dropping a lit matchstick into the pile, and watching them go up in flames.

But it was 8:15 on a Tuesday morning. And she’d have to start getting breakfast ready. U would be out of the shower any minute now. And she’d miss her ride to work.

So that’s how the letters ended up. Like her feelings for him. Jumbled up in a dustbin, in the kitchen. Soaked with egg shells, onion peels and wet tea leaves. .

Thursday, October 9, 2008

scary shit

why is it love so difficult? when does it turn in to a habit? when does it release you? when does it drag you down?

when do you say enough? when do you say sorry? when do you ask for another chance? when do you decide there will be no other chance?

when do you think you can give it all up? when do you think you have the strength to walk alone? when do you think you still have the love to have another go?

Saturday, October 4, 2008

xs, s, m, l, xl, xxl

i went to the mall today. and i suffered from mall glaze.

it's the state of too many things. clothes. shoes. underwear. underwire. tops. tie ups. someone stop this madness.

really, does this happen to you? you walk in feeling like a kid in a candy store, and half an hour later you're feeling slightly sick and disoriented. like you just ate up half the store.

how many things can you try? how many times can you pull your jeans off? how many things can you lug around in that tie up basket? how many racks can you tug and pull at?

this is what happens to me. after a while i start feeling hypnotised. then everything starts to look the same. then i don't know which aisle to head towards. then suddenly, i don't even know what i was looking for in the first place. then my arms start to ache. then it feels like "why are they playing such loud music.". then finally i realise after four hours all i've got in my basket is a stupid T-shirt.

okay. so maybe it's not that bad. but the point is it very nearly is.

because i'm a child of limited choice. when i was growing up there was just one shop, with one surly shopkeeper. everything was packed in cardboard cases. and everything seemed frightfully expensive. so you tentatively pointed to two, or at the most (gasp, you bold thing) three things. surly showed them to you, you tried them, and that was it. puja/diwali/birthday shopping over.

the only place your eyes threatened to glaze over, was in the sari shop. i remember dreading being dragged on those expeditions with my mom and her sisters. but even that was civilised. once the shopkeeper had sized you up, you were offered bar stool like chairs, cold drinks and water in steel glasses magically appeared, while the obliging salesmen draped themselves in sari after sari.

it was like a fashion show, in drag.

there were other options too. like tailors. so you carried across your cloth or cut piece, usually a birthday gift. and then you pored over patterns and designs. my mom's tailor used to get second hand catalogues from abroad. no wonder i spent most of my growing up wearing prissy high neck blouses with lace and ribbon. like an old british maid. still, it was a world of limited choices. because my mom made all the decisions, the only thing i could choose was the cold drink i could have at the tailors - rasna or campa cola. actually even then my mom would have the last choice, " No ice."

whew. never thought i'd say this. but if i see my mom's tailor now, i'd probably run to him and throw my arms around him, and say, " from tomorrow you will be my shoppers stop, my pantaloon, my inorbit, my oberoi mall, my hypercity....."

Friday, October 3, 2008

my first brush

apologies for not having written in days. but i've been really happy and busy.

and that just proves my pet theory that if you are unhappy you have lots to write about.

and that brings me to my next best pet theory. there are two types of unhappiness. one is delicious - because you know it's shortlived, or because you know that it's not really such a big deal. like for instance a trivial fight, a break up with someone you would anyway have broken up with. it's emotional cleansing. you can cry, have an outburst, gather all your friends, grab lots of sympathy, shop a lot, and wake up smiling two days later. these unhappy moments are meant to be juiced.

the second unhappiness is the serious kind. your spouse/lover/friend leaves you. someone you love dies. that kind of thing. you get the drift right? the kind that leaves you feeling someone just wrenched your gut out, and you takes days, and weeks, and months and sometimes years to get over it.

anyway, my first brush with unhappiness was when i was in school. i liked this guy. ya, right ... what else could cause unhappiness when you are 15. his name was AZ. sorry about the initials, fat chance that he's reading my blog but anyway....

point is AZ was tall, handsome, soft spoken. had lovely brown eyes. a super sexy accent ( his folks had just moved back from Botswana). and he was two years senior to me.

so in class eight, i spend all my time drawing his name all over my school books. i craned my neck during assembly every morning just so i could see him. i decided the water cooler that was closest to his class had the coldest water. i sat in the scorching summer sun, watching the school cricket team in action. sometimes, i was the sole spectator.

and i thought no one knew.

then in class nine i realised everyone knew. my whole class used to try and push me on to him, when we passed his class in assembly. everytime he walked past my class, there would be wild cheering and hooting. and to my utter mortification we landed up being in the same damn Ashoka house. By now, not just my class, even his class knew. My famous crush has gone around the school.

End of class nine. last day of school. Everyone is delirious. saying bye. eating golas. Throwing ink on each other. There's chaos outside the school. Buses are honking. Those of us on cycles are waiting for friends. That one day, no one is in any hurry to leave.

Suddenly, in slow motion, I look up from my cycle, to see AZ walking towards me. My first reaction is to flee. Just jump on my cycle and get the hell out of there. But I'm frozen, rooted to the spot. He stops right in front of me. Looks down at me, and smiles. My heart stops beating. Then kickstarts with a loud noise that should make everyone around me jump.

I can hear giggling from behind me. No one says anything. Finally he says, " Hi...I'm A. " As if I didn't know. I know his name, his surname, his favourite colour, his pet's name, his house address, his two sisters, his favourite sport. But just then, my ears are ringing, my face is a horrible mottled red, my fringe is poking into my eyes...and nothing is coming out of my mouth. So I continue to grin.

He says, " I thought we could be friends." I can feel someone poking me in the ribs. It's my best friend, S, who's in class eleven. She pokes me again. I know I have to say something now...anything....

" Hi, I'm S. And I'm really late. So I'll see you later."

And I turn my cycle and ride off as fast as I can. My friends catch up with me five minutes later and they are shaking with laughter. They pull me off my cycle and we roll around by the side of the road. Them clutching their stomachs, me my head. I can't believe I could have been such an ass.

So it goes on.
Class tenth. He comes to see me in my class. I jump out of the window. My class is on the first floor, I break my hand.

I'm running down the stairs. Suddenly I see him and his friends at the bottom. I miss two steps, and twist my ankle.

Finally he calls me and my best friend S to his birthday party. I don't go. Not just because I'm shy, but because my mom would grill me, and my face would be a dead give away.

But S goes. And things are never the same again. Because a week later she tells me that she went to his party, because she is in love with him. And she told him that, and now.... here's where the unhappiness bit comes in .... they are going around. boyfriend girlfriend. in love. together. a & S. he tall, she tall. me on my cycle.

I come home. and sit on the dining table, and eat my lunch, and open my books and study. And then when it's really hot and the even the fans can't muster up the enthusiasm to keep going, my parents go to sleep. and i lock myself in the bathroom. and i cry and i cry.

and that summer day, i have my first brush with unhappiness.