Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Lesson # 11

There are few things worse than regret.
The hard thing is, you can never know what you will regret until you go and do it and regret it.
Bummer.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Lesson # 9 & # 10

Lesson # 9 The only accurate generalization is: No generalization is accurate. (So beware of all my posts from the beginning of this blog.)

Lesson # 10 It's always a good idea to be kind to a person who has done you no harm. Even if it's easier not to. Why? you ask? Probably because it's the right thing to do, and there's no nobility in bullying an easy target.

Also, remember the occasions when YOU were the easy target and kindness was shown. Remember the immense wave of gratitude that you felt roll out of you to the other person, and think that someone else could be feeling that way about you.

Wouldn't that be nice? So be nice.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Lesson # 8: Don’t give in to the ‘Cool Police’.

Every few months people will change their ideas as to what is ‘cool’. But surprisingly for something that’s so changeable, they’ll be complete Nazis about whatever the current fad is.

I of course true to form waded into the bell bottoms-resurgence era wearing skinny stretch genes much to the amusement of all. 10 years later when all the women are trotting about ludicrously in skinny jeans and pencil heels (like a troop of hippopotami), it finally registered that the cut I favoured is uncool. My brain of course had processed a decade-old message and as I started flapping around in a pair of bell botts and flip flops it eluded me why there was so much pointed staring at the immediate vicinity of my legs and feet. Strange, I would comment to myself and hurry off, looking like, I presume, Jumbo about to take flight.

Similarly, I’ve bought several pairs of Patiala salwars two months after everyone changed to wearing tights and short kameezes. I coloured my hair the day after black hair became the rage. I’ve discarded my thick frames because they’re broken from all the times I’ve thrust them into my bag because they’re uncool , just when all the hip people start wearing them.

This isn’t me being an iconoclast, this is me never being able to catch up with these furiously changing fashions. So I’ve now decided that the best course is to simply find out what suits your body type, and face and hair and STICK to it, and if they change, change your style accordingly. Thinking back in retrospect, I’ve done justice to that philosophy. When I was skinny and my legs looked good in skinny jeans, I wore them. When I was chubby I wore bell botts. When I had money I coloured my hair. Simple.

So my message is, if you can’t be one of the fashionable people, call them Nazis and be done with it.

Jokes aside, what my actual point is, style should be more about what suits you and your pocket rather than sometimes ridiculous fads that make people look like they’ve come off an assembly line. Also remember, it can’t possibly look UGLY because it was the height of fashion at SOME time, hence MUST be flattering (at least to 80 year old men). Take my jeans example, I was laughed at for my skinny jeans by the same people who I presume are happily preening themselves in a pair right now as you read this.

Similarly in any other sphere of culture. There are some things you take your life into your hands by admitting to enjoy. I enjoy …do I dare? The occasional Britney Spears/Michael Bolton/Backstreet Boys number, especially when I’m er… boogying. Oh, but if I say that in polite company, I only escape being lynched because they’re squeamish about touching my Bell Bottoms (bad fashion sense is contagious by touch).

There are also fashionable books, fashionable movies, etc etc. You HAVE to say you enjoyed Catch-22 whether you actually did or not. Ditto Pulp Fiction.
Well I DIDN’T OK, I DIDN’T, and I LOVE Michael Jackson. Do what you will with me.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Lesson #7

Anything, and I mean ANYTHING can be given a positive or negative spin, depending on how the speaker is disposed towards the person in question. “He didn’t cry at all at his wife’s funeral, I always knew he had a heart of stone.” (Disgusted shake of the head.) “He didn’t cry at all at his wife’s funeral, he’s always been the bravest person I know!” (A slow nod of approbation and a sympathetic twist of the lips.)

Lesson # 5 & 6

Lesson # 5 It’s a sad but true fact that the people you love most are the ones you yell at and make the most miserable. While the ones you hate get off scot free.

Lesson # 6 The very fact that you think you know everything there is to know proves that you don’t. Also that a lot of people find you profoundly annoying.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Lesson # 4: It's never over.

There's always more toothpaste in the tube.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Lesson # 3: Things.

Something else crucial to remember is “All things shall pass.”

Ok, MOST things. (Things = People, situations, your own personality traits which makes life difficult) Some things just hang around all your life making you miserable till the day you die. The good news (of course I talk about good news in my blog, sillies.) is even in those cases; you get more and more anaesthetized to how much they bother you.

But apart from those eternal thorns in your side; there are some things which might bother you spectacularly at some point; but seem astonishingly trivial a few years down the line.

Perfect the art of throwing your mind a few years into the future every time you think this is the worst you’ve ever felt – and you will always see that the worst is yet to come. What seems earth shattering right now will be shoved neatly into perspective by the next horror that awaits you around the corner.

And then you will feel positively Zen about any bad thing that happens to you.

I hope my lessons are helping you, boys and girls, to lead a happier, more productive life.
I’m glad to help.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Lesson # 2

It is very important, if you’d like to survive a full-sized life on earth, to have a sense of humour about yourself. It’s easy to laugh at other people, but are you secure enough to laugh at yourself? More often than not it’s, “that person is a failure, the other person is ugly; but my neighbour’s sister-in-law said that her cousin’s friend thought I was attractive. I was looking lovely in that sari that day. Blue is my color. Of course so is every other color. I’m talented too. Did I mention I can sing and dance? At the same time? With a pot balanced on my head as I hop on one leg?” Brrr…get a life, you desperate Loser.

If you don’t take yourself too seriously the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune won’t cut you as deep. How pitiable is the above person when someone finally tells her to her face that blue, and every other color besides, is definitely not her color. And had she stubbed her toe on something? She sounded like she was in a lot of pain, too.

However, I would like to warn my younger and ergo, less experienced readers, that self deprecation has its own pitfalls. If you get too carried away, you might end up with low self esteem, with you and the people around you believing every horrible thing you say about yourself.
I guess what I’m saying is one should be self respectful, but not delusional. Be prepared to laugh at the embarrassing things that happen to you. But never run yourself down to such an extent that people think it’s OK to join in. (“She’s always carrying on about her weight! How would I know she didn’t want ‘Happy Birthday You Big Fatty!’ written on her birthday cake?”)

Same goes for laughing at your own community, country, gender. It doesn't mean you aren't proud of your identity. It just means you're alive to the foibles and flaws of your group; and thus that much closer to improving those things.
I have often been accused of not being patriotic enough because I’ve had the balls to discuss some common flaw all of us have.

Please remember, Boys and Girls -- Denial does not equal Self Respect.

30 things I’ve learnt in as many years and if you don’t agree you can piss off

Lesson # 1:

Your height is the only thing about your appearance which doesn’t go to hell if you let things slide for a while. For everything else, unless you don’t wax it thread it put cream on it take vitamin tablets for it take regular exercise, drink water for it everyday or in extreme cases go to the doctor for it, it’ll get worse every time you check in the mirror.
Can you imagine going home every time and having people comment on your weight AND your height? You have got SO MUCH shorter! You should do headstands at 4 in the morning like your Auntie, look how tall she’s got.

(Coming up...Lesson # 2)

Friday, October 9, 2009

The Big Three O.

In two days I won't be in my 20s anymore.

It's a powerful thought.

I'm not particularly sad because it isn't like a whooped it up in my 20s, so there's not much to miss. (Three negatives in a sentence! I wonder what Freud would say to that if he were alive. It is well known, of course, that Freud in his free time hung around blogs; analysing each word of little-known, middle-aged Bengali women.)

But what hits me like a brick in the head is that this means another decade gone and a few more doors closing. I probably never will be an ice skater like I wanted to be. Unless I can turn something around in the next two days. (Can anyone loan me a frilly little pink number in size L? And a magic wand, if you see any lying around.)

I know 30 isn't old at all, even if it was (I hasten to add to all those youngsters rolling their bored eyes with a 'yuop dawg right, aigh' expression) : age is but a number.

Not to mention that the line of work I'm in (i.e. writing documents noone ever reads) there's no sell-by date. If I had had a more exciting life as an actress, or an ice skater, or an er...lady of the night -- I would've been thrown over by an 18 year old smug bitch by now.

To list a few other pros (no, I'm not talking about ladies of the night anymore)-- now that our life expectancy is around 90, I've only covered one-third of my life. I just hope all my body parts last the rest of the way, they already show plenty of wear and tear. (Call me if you'd like further details on my health.)

I, jokes aside, really do believe I've learnt a LOT in these 30 years. About life and love and the world. I intend to save the pearls I've gathered for a later blog tentatively titled "30 Things I've Learnt in as Many Years -- If You Don't Agree With Me, PISS Off".

My sister tells me not to worry; she feels much better at 35 than she felt in her 20s. And she's not just saying that, if you knew her you'd see for yourself.

She may be right.

It's a Friday night at home; I loll on my bed tapping out this post from my husband's laptop (our PC died half a year ago and the laptop took her place in our affections); and he plays along to Led Zeppelin's "Whole Lotta Love" a few feet away from me. I've had a full and not unpleasant (despite all my posts to the contrary) day at work, I've visited a friend and played with her little son, and spent a pleasant couple of minutes (every now and then) conversing with friends; both at work and at home by email. I've just been handed two birthday cards from my thoughtful in-laws and have spoken to most of my family members in the last 24 hours. My birhday weekend promises to be a full one: with cousins, nephews, poorly done waxworks ("Louis Tussauds"; some wild oat of Madame's, I presume), a Mr. Big concert with husband and friends.

There's no getting away from it: life's good. 20 wasn't too bad, but the life I've made for myself at 30 is pretty damn good as well.

'Nuff said. Happy Birthday to ME! :)

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Love thy neighbour

Every evening at around 8 pm, I get off my cab at the main road, and walk the half kilometer to my apartment building. (My concession to everyone’s view that I’m too fat and should do all sorts of fancy exercises so that people don’t lose their lunches looking at me. Protestations that I don’t have time to exercise is met with a “If you really wanted to, you would’ve found the time.” Which is patronizing yet unfortunately true.)

So I start the rather enjoyable walk homewards by the lake, and occasionally look over my shoulder because the lights don’t work half the time and a dead man had been fished out of the lake 2 years ago; so slightly shiver-making. I walk for a vigorous 3 minutes or so, occasionally passed by a whooshing car or a rotund neighbor in evening-walk gear. I think of this and that: about the day at the office, how pretty my building looks twinkling across the lake, whether I’m stepping in poo in the dark and whether I ought to leave my shoes on the doormat because of it. I listen to the frogs croaking and the lake lapping and it’s always nice to be outside for those fleeting 5 minutes in the entire day.

Then casting a last glance over my shoulder, I gain the building compound full of more neighbours out for a stroll. (My neighbours are very big on strolling; one particular couple is there when I come in and is sometimes seen by my husband when he leaves for work the next day. I have my suspicions if they’re a new breed of bums posing as walkers; they might actually live on the front lawn: jumping up and strutting about vigorously the moment they see anyone coming, so as not to be evicted from the vicinity. Dunno where they change their clothes though; they're always fully clad when we see them.)

This is where things become trying because – I’m a terribly un-neighbourly person. I’ve lived in this building for 2 and a half years now and don’t know a single neighbour’s name. (I believe there are some 60 families in our complex.) My neighbours for their part (especially the housewives; poor things, they don’t need much to interest them.) find me endlessly fascinating, and appraise me through the corner of their eyes which slide away the minute I turn to make eye contact.

It’s my fault as well; if I had been smiling and approachable from the first I’m sure they would’ve been telling me their secret idli recipes (handed down for generations) by now. Sometimes I try to undo the damage by smiling broadly at them but most of them give me the hard-eyed up-and-down look typical of certain kind of people. Expected in a small town in a backwater somewhere, but startling when you face it in an upper middle class housing complex.
I dare say, if that decomposing man had been fished out any later my husband and I would’ve been the prime suspects.

Everyday in the papers they write about serial killers: “Police apprehended the suspects and have released an official statement. The couple had been murdering morning walkers and storing them in their closet for the last 20 years. They are still investigating how one ended up in the lake. Neighbours have stated that they kept aloof, except for cooking gas or plumbing emergencies.” More than the 19 bodies in the closet, it’s that last line which is most damning.

I often wonder why we are this way.

I don’t think we’re particularly unfriendly as people in general. I mean, we’re not gregarious party butterflies either, but I don’t think people who mix with us socially think we’re serial killer-ish at all (Do you? You can tell us the truth, we won’t hurt you…we have a nice roomy closet you’d die for...) Even at work, I seem to be on smiling and talking terms with a surprising number of people. And I know for a fact that my husband is much more of a people-person than I.

But when it comes to our building: it’s awkward silences in the lifts, questions whether we’ve just moved in at the store, and on good days weird do-I-smile-don’t-I-smile-do-I-look-don’t-I-look moments. And it’s entirely our fault for not being neighbourly, because everyone else, as far as I can tell, get along like a house on fire.

I can honestly say we’re improving because in the first home we moved into together we’d left the faucet on by mistake and went out for an entire evening. We returned with guests to a building in an uproar and the family in the adjoining house desperately trying to save their carpets and furniture from the water flooding into their house from under the connecting door.

One of the guests we'd brought with us ("Come and check out our new place! It's nice and DRY") sprang into activity and after shutting the tap off, starting sweeping the water into every available drain; while I stood in a corner, ashen faced, and babbled about always checking taps and doors and switches 42 times before I left the house, how could this happen?

Our neighbours were nice people (maybe we should’ve asked them what their names were, now that I think of it.) and grudgingly forgave us after we nagged them silly with apologies.

We can't say the same about the watchman, who had a proprietary air about the building. Till the day we left several months later, he would watch and listen to us through windows and ‘alert’ us if we’d left taps on even if it was only to wash our dishes or brush our teeth.

I sometimes toy with the idea of introducing myself to our neighbours and telling them this story, just so they know how lucky they are that we’ve improved over the years.

On the other hand, maybe somebody’s TOLD them already. It would explain a lot.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Hokum & Hooey.

I was watching a fairly enjoyable movie and something Chris Rock’s character said really echoed what I think. Something to the effect that “living every day like it’s your last” is a bunch of hokum, because you’ll probably live till you're 80 with all your (definitely regrettable, with that attitude) actions till then.

I mean really, it sounds grand when people say it. Like so many other things people are fond of saying but don’t believe a word of themselves. Apply it to your own life and you’ll know what I mean, if you don’t already.

Take my life. (It’s my blog, so don’t expect me to talk about yours.) If I took it into my head to live tomorrow like it was my last day -- this is what I would do, in all honesty:

Shave my head. Call up a lot of people and be ‘honest’; just like they’ve always been with me (You’re not all that good-looking yourself, and you have an ass the size of Madhya Pradesh, man!). Quit my job. Put on a LOT of make- up, something tight; and go out and blow my life savings on something fun.

Problems will arise the next day, when the sad fact that even though I lived the previous day LIKE it was my last day, it actually wasn’t. I’ll look like a chubby Sinhead O Connor. No one will speak to me. I’ll have no money and no means to recover what I’ve blown on a Paris Hilton style party in every city marathon. As well as a faint chance of a night in the lock up.

So the resultant situation may push me towards making the day my last; but that isn’t what they meant, was it?

Similarly -- “Nothing is impossible”.

A lot of things are impossible.

Boys and Girls, PLEASE, puh-leeaaaase don’t listen to sappy children’s movies or books that have the good-looking and sincere ‘Daddy’ character consoling his offspring, who has just spent a day trying to invent a time-machine, but-just-couldn’t. Boo HOO.

“If you WANT something badly enough, and go after it, Nothing is impossible, darling. And remember Daddy loves you very much.”

Excuse me while I shake my head sadly. What’s the matter with the good looking but sincere Daddy? Doesn’t he know that if what he said were true, the world would be full of flying pigs? Messing up children’s heads with all this nonsense is what drives them to alcoholism and crime anyway, because they’re thinking, “If everything is possible and after all my hard work it still didn’t happen… then how big a loser does that make me???”

At the most one could say:

“If you already have the prodigious ability (tested by several doctors) and patience at 5 years old to build a time machine, and a multi- billion dollar corporation financially backing you on the project; nothing is impossible.”

Kinda different, innit?

And so on, really. “Be yourself”; “It’s the thought that counts”; “It doesn’t matter if you win or lose; what matters is that you TRIED”; "We're ALL winners."

It’s all hooey. Someone hand me a shovel.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Of Straw and Silver Bullets

Speaking of monkeys; I know a psychotic monkey talker.

For people who’ve never met the likes of her; let me tell you 9 hours of not being able to finish any of your sentences, 5 days a week, for 2 years can have a detrimental (stress on mental) effect on your mind.

I carry a bag of straw around so that when I finally go round the bend (which’s a few weeks in the offing) I can have the straw handy to stick into my hair.

It also makes you a humongous bore when you DO get people who will hear you out till the end of your sentences. God help you if they’re the sort who leave a bit of a silence hanging in the air even AFTER you’ve indicated that you’ve finished with a particular train of thought. You stop for a moment or so; baffled by this new situation. Is he going to jump in and cut you off just as you begin talking?

You vacillate for the length of a second…and then decide to risk it and dive in, and the feeling of being able to say what’s on your mind and being listened to is such a relief that the words just keep coming, like the gush of water that has been stoppered up in some dark underground place.
Problem is after you’ve talked yourself dry and are sitting there; spent yet satisfied; an awful thought creeps into your head. You’d gabbed on endlessly, you hadn’t let the other person talk, in your gush of words you’d spilt out many ill considered things which perhaps were private or stupid and needn’t have been said.

You’ve been turned, like a victim from a teen vampire novel, into a psychotic monkey talker yourself!

So that’s what’s happened. When I meet blameless, polite people who listen I turn into a monster. Consider yourself warned.

Also, if any of you has a silver bullet; or a cross bow with a silver arrow – you have my permission to put me down the next time you encounter me.

It’ll be a mercy killing.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Hyderabad Part III: The Final Chapter

And then I went to Hyderabad and had a lot of fun and Hyderabadi Biriyani with my friends Maya and Satish; and my Dad, Prithwiraj.
And then I came back to Bangalore.(Phew, that monkey’s off my back at last!)

Monday, August 3, 2009

Hyderabad Part II: Only I can't seem to get to the bit where I'm IN Hyderabad

I’ll give this another shot then.

I packed very little, because I take great pride in travelling light, and then borrow or buy most things when I get to my destination. But I didn’t forget my trusty maroon shawl because I have a great horror of feeling cold, feeling hungry, and needing to visit restrooms on train trips. The shawl wouldn’t be too useful for the latter two (unless in desperate circumstances) but the very knowledge that my big red shawl glowed quietly to itself in my tiny overnight bag made me feel positively toasty.

Of course I had to take out a lot of other things to make space for it: like the lower halves of all my outfits and toothpaste, but it was a minor sacrifice. And I had no use for my shawl because they give you blankets on trains and once I reached Hyd the friends I was visiting rolled over laughing at the sight of it; because well, it was Hyderabad in July.

Anyhow, I get ahead of myself. I asked around at work about how long it might take to get to the railway station from work (distances are stupid in this city) and I got advice ranging from 3 hours to an hour. So me being me, I left 3 hours in advance, and again, as is usual with me, I reached my platform two whole hours before scheduled departure.

I perched myself on a bench under the relatively merciful Bangalore sun and swung my legs as I read my book about teenage vampires. Profound literature is a MUST on long train journeys. The platform was entirely innocent of fellow passengers, so I kept the dogs and several unsavoury characters company until some people started trickling in.

This last paragraph will give you the impression that I serenely passed the time reading my vampire book; but that isn’t entirely true. Every 12 minutes or so: I would root around in my bag for my ticket; inspect it as if for the first time in case I had got something wrong, like the day, or the coach, or the train; and then…affecting a casual attitude, I would carelessly hoist my bags and water bottle over my shoulder and amble over to the train that was still locked up tight. I would then proceed to scan the list of passengers and locate my name; and ensure it hadn’t, by some dark magic, vanished off the page since the last time I checked (viz. 12 minutes ago). Satisfied that it was still there; and telling myself that it was too late in my life for another Ushasi Sen Basu to crop up in the same compartment; I would try the door handle once more and saunter back, relieved for the time being.

This I did for two hours. But despite all this activity I unfortunately managed to finish most of my vampire book; which left me with only a few pages when I finally boarded the train.

(To be Continued...promise to be in Hyderabad by the next post)

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Intended to be Hyderabad Diary 1: However post is afflicted by Damn Digressions.

Though I'm a gem of a person otherwise... (I’m not blowing my own trumpet. Long ago when my age could be counted in single figures a schoolmate of mine had called me a diamond. I repeat the conversation to you verbatim -- you be the judge of how impartial this comment was.

Me: Your sister is so sweet! (ruffling a little runt’s hair on the Ashok Hall Junior School bus.)
Girl: Don’t touch my sister!
Me: Why? Is your sister a diamond?
Girl: YOU are a diamond!!! (accompanied by much frowning and shaking of fists)) ...

...As I was saying, though a thoroughly priceless sort on the whole, one major flaw that people nag me about is my staying-in-touch skill, or lack thereof. So while other people manage their time by calling friends and relatives on the way to or back from work, or while eating lunch (as -- I must add -- the person they’re having lunch with gets more and more furious), in the loo (I've never been great at multi-tasking), etc – I never seem to find the right time to call people up. It happens therefore, that some friends tire of being the ones to make the effort and just stop calling.

It was with considerable alarm that the realization dawned on me: I had started getting news from my husband about all the friends I’d left behind in Hyderabad 4 and a half years ago. So when my Dad called me to say he’d be in Hyderabad on business and would like to meet me, I seized the opportunity to kill several birds (birds - aka friends and relatives; and kill them with kindness and company) with one stone (i.e trip---you must try to keep up with the metaphors, let me know if I’m going too fast for you.) and resolved to travel to Hyderabad for the weekend.

The husband begged off citing work after stringing me along till the last day or two, so I went alone. I'm quite used to travelling alone by now, because it’s very hard to coordinate spur-of-the-moment trips with a workaholic spouse.

Besides, we don’t believe in sitting in on private conversations of friends we don’t share, smiling inanely at private jokes that have to be explained, and essentially being a pain in the ass to the friend who isn’t comfortable discussing private things in front of a person just because he/she is married to a close friend.

That wasn’t the case with these friends (and of course my Dad) in Hyderabad, but I was just explaining why we travel around a lot by ourselves.

OK, to get back to what I was saying before I was rudely interrupted by a damn digression. (‘Damn Digression’ is a good name for a rock band.) …

Actually, on second thoughts I can see I’m going nowhere with this travelogue – I’ll give it a shot again tomorrow.

Since I’m meandering all over the place in this post (senile dementia) ; I’ll mention two more things before I go.

1) Thank you all for taking the trouble to add yourselves as my followers. It’s a very sweet gesture. (And unexpected in one or two cases.)

2) I watched ‘The Notebook’ yesterday and have decided Ryan Gosling is quite definitely hot. Weird that I’ve seen him before and never felt it. I have decided I will watch his other movies closely and come to an educated decision.

Monday, July 13, 2009

A World Without Labels

Are you one of those people who can’t REST until you label other people? So much so, that you will take some half-assed impression you haven’t even bothered to verify with a second look, or by comparing notes with another acquaintance of the labelee, and just slap on a tag so you can feel better?

And of course labels are made for sharing, you’re too unselfish to keep them to yourself, so once you’ve come up with one you make sure everyone gets a persuasive speech in its favour. Those who resist of course get labels of their own, so it’s all good.

Once everybody is neatly labeled off( like what my mother in law did with all the spice bottles in my kitchen cabinet --“Jeera -cumin”-- with pieces of paper and a ballpoint pen); you can feel that you’ve introduced some order in the madness and uncertainty that is human existence.

Now-- you think, as you stretch your arms luxuriously over your head and congratulate yourself on a job well done – now I’ll know exactly what to expect from so and so person. There will be NO surprises and I can in fact predict and pre-empt everything he or she does.

Every action that confirms the label will be announced “I always TOOOOLD you she was clumsy, now she goes and falls off a five-storey building. No of COURSE it wasn’t depression, silly, it’s CLUMSINESS like I always said. We all know she was CHEERFUL but CLUMSY.” Every action that contradicts your summing up of a person will be instantly forgotten, because it’s unimportant.

I find, that people are full of surprises (both pleasant and unpleasant, I hasten to add.). Especially as they change (for the better or the worse) with years and experience . The same label can never cover the same person in different situations at different times. Those I would condemn as resoundingly stupid from their outlook and beliefs might turn out to be brilliant at their jobs. Those I think as gentle and wonderful will reveal an unaccountably vicious streak. People you think will pounce on you and kick you when you’re down sometimes turn out to be more understanding and supportive than the others you were counting on.

At the most you can, if you MUST, label a person like so: “she’s stupid, but only about things that matter to me. I daresay she thinks I’m stupid too because I don’t know what Vishnu’s fifth son was called.”

Somehow, that judgement lacks a certan something. It lacks the satisfying slap of a label stingingly and irrevocably delivered. And it leaves one confused. Shades of grey wherever one looks.

On second thoughts, bring on the labels. Atleast I’ll know how I’m expected to behave (clumsy but cheerful) and be able to deliver a stinging judgement on someone else when I’m irked.
If the option is chaos and murder; I choose labels.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Here's Looking At You...People.

Though I have occasional bouts of acute misanthropy; what redeems people in my eyes is that everyone past a certain age is a story.
Some of these living, breathing stories don’t know that’s what they are. Of those who do, 90% don’t know how to tell theirs (urk, don’t even get me started on how resoundingly boring people can be when they tell their life stories… “ Then I was born at 7 am, and I opened my eyes at 7:02 am…” (two hours and several wishes to die a speedy death by the auditor later)…”and then I said “…tubelight. Call the electrician.” …) but bottomline is every life is enough of a story to have a book or a movie made on it.

Of course, the movies are of all kinds -- sepia tinted, pre-independence period costume movies, arty depressing movies where the protagonist just sits in a dark room and cries, action movies, comedy movies, teen ‘coming of age’ dramas, Oscar winning movies, masala movies where the hero and heroine dance around in the rain on a weekday afternoon in Venice, or ‘slice-of-life’ quirky movies about very normal people (read: ugly) doing very, very mundane things. But they’re all still stories.

I look at a lot of people around me and wonder, “I wonder why she only wears red and black. What’s the story behind that?” (I don’t work in a colony of red ants: that was an example.)

I had a physics teacher at my school, who was as vindictive as they came. But on every weekday morning after our school bus picked her up; she would take her usual place right up against the front glass of the bus next to the driver, settle in, and then take out what appeared to be the same tattered letter everyday and read it with lingering and evident pleasure all the way to school. It made me wonder about her, and frankly I itched to know what was in that letter.

I look at extremely domesticated, traditional housewives, busy with their daily work of looking after their husband and kids; and often wonder how they were when the world with all its glorious choices held its doors open for them. Did they have different dreams? What was their story? Had they a crush on the north eastern student on the mini bus to school?* How different would their lives have been if they acted on that impulse?** Had these women thought they would make a good doctor or an actress before they were told to marry someone their parents chose for them?

The paradox of my constant wondering about people’s lives of course, is that I have a horror of acquaintances*** who volunteer a blow-by-blow as I mentioned earlier. I also shy away from asking people about their lives, disgusted as I am by some of the regrettable questions I myself have had to dodge quite often from total strangers.

Sometimes it happens that people vouchsafe interesting confidences about their life to me without any prompting, maybe BECAUSE I’m not always sniffing around for information. Sometimes such exchanges are so profound or startling, indeed, that it renews my faith in how absolutely fascinating human nature is. I live for such conversations -- but they are rare, and more importantly, cannot be forced.

So I am destined to remain eternally wondering about most people; which, if you really look at it, might be best for all concerned.


*Wait…that was me…
**NOT me. He had an acne problem, to be honest.
***note to my friends to pay especial attention to the word ‘acquaintances’. I EXPECT all the gruesome details from you guys.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Lotus Bum.

I occasionally get -- though they’ve been getting fewer and farther between, with the years -- out of body experiences. I won’t call them experiences, because a split second can’t really be an experience. That reminds me of an episode of Frasier. A woman calls into his radio show complaining about sex with her much older husband, and says,“I’ve been inoculated slower!”. (Ha ha.)

That was a total digression, this post isn’t about that, however much my readers cry out for it.

So going back to what I was saying, I very once in a while get a feeling like I’ve just popped out of my body for a wee second, and everything is as clear as day. It’s almost like it’s your body which confuses you. For that one moment you get to slip your skin; and as you hover a few feet away everything makes sense, everything is in its proper perspective, there is no pain, no annoyances; the things around you just ARE, nothing more. And then as though your body realizes it’s mistake, it tucks you back in with a quick imperceptible action, like a lady with an errant bra strap, and it’s all normal again.

There are other times, when I’m not thinking about anything In particular, that I get a different version of it. You know the trance-like state one goes into when you’re a passenger on a car or bus (I wouldn’t recommend it if you’re driving the thing); where you’re just vacantly staring into space until you get to point B. My eye will happen to alight on one of the hundreds of people that I pass on every trip, and I get a quick flash in my mind’s eye of a window or some such. I like to think it’s insight into that person’s life, and feel a little bit like Bruce Willis in ‘Unbreakable’, on the rare occasions it has happened.

So far I haven’t put it to the test, viz, follow these unsuspecting people home and check if the grills on their window match the one in my vision. I’d rather not, because this makes me feel like I have a superpower and I don’t want proof that it’s an eye infection or mental disease. Though totally useless and unreliable; a superpower is still not something you sneeze at.

Do any of you have a superpower? Let me know if you do and we can form a League Of Totally Useless Superpowers for the Betterment (or not) of Undeserving Mankind. (LOTUS BUM).

Thursday, June 18, 2009

What's the deal with famous people?

I don’t know what it is about famous people that fascinate us so. Whenever I get some spare time on the computer I hungrily devour everything there is to know about famous people.

They’re not always predictable ones -- I just googled Rani Lakshmi Bai and then Ben Cross in succession, one leading to another through the whole 1857 rebellion-The Far Pavilions- Ashton Pelham Martin (my first love)-Ben Cross progression.

Yesterday I looked up Igor Stravinsky and George Harrison, and that led to Don Henley…I go where my thoughts take me. Long live Google and Wikipedia, I say.
I anxiously read through facts about their childhoods. Facts which, if a boring acquaintance were to share about his or her own life, I would condemn as the most boring thing I’d heard all day, and pretend to fall asleep immediately after. There’s just something else about famous people; darned if I know what it is.

And look at this whole Shiney Ahuja thing. (‘Shiney’… did his parents think he’ll turn out normal with a name like that? He must’ve been beaten up routinely in school.). Shiney and his wife ‘Anupam’. A marriage made in heaven ... the groom is called ‘Shiney’ and the woman has a dude’s name. (what’s up with that?)

What you all know and are groaning that you have to read about here as well is this: He has raped his possibly underage maid. No he hasn’t touched her, this is preposterous. OK I might have had a little consensual sex with her… Of course he hasn’t, my husband is a good husband and a great father… Ok I might have had more than a little sex with her… No the medical reports make it clear it’s rape, does he think he can get away with this because he’s a famous actor, etc etc.

Kudos to the victim for stepping forward and I hope he is castrated and rots in jail.

But wait! The media won’t leave it at that…over and over and over goes the looped tape of Mister Shiney in a tight t-shirt being bundled into a police van. We all watch agog at the same footage over and over and ‘tsk tsk’ disapprovingly. All the while there are women out there being raped in our country every minute. Raped and then raped again. But hey the media’s not interested, neither are we, because is your rapist’s name ‘Shiney’, madam? Not even Goldy? Then get over it. Such things happen.

I am not making the pompous point that the News should just be a long list of all the nameless victims of rape across the country to the exclusion of all else, because that’s not possible and people would stop watching the news. What I’m trying to say is, we shouldn’t fool ourselves into believing we would’ve given this young girl a passing thought if a famous actor hadn’t been involved. In fact, even now, we’re interested in what his wife is saying more than what the victim’s name is.

It’s just bizarre about celebrities. However stupid or boring or ugly they are as people, they’re as irresistible to us as a Shiney (ha ha) trinket to a magpie.

And now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ll have to google why Jeffrey Archer went to jail.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Obviously!!!

Shall I tell you what ELSE annoys me? The word ‘obvious’. It looks innocuous in itself, but hides a wealth of smug, know-all, if-I- get-more-full-of-myself-I’ll-burst patronization I am yet to encounter in any other word.

Why are you angry with me?
I think it should be obvious.

(If I’m asking you it’s not obvious. And there’s no need to torture me further, because really I care enough to ask you and you should be happy about that.)

What does the word ‘equity’ mean?
I can’t believe you asked such an obvious question.

(I’m sorry, were you born with that knowledge or did someone tell you, you pompous git??? Now quit wasting my time being snotty, and just tell me.)

Is the earth flat and does the sun go ‘round it?
Zounds! Thy asketh the most obvious queries!

(I rest my case.)

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Bucket List

Now, with the big 3 O looming ahead of me, I have got to thinking about life experiences. There’s no doubt that it’s better to burn out than fade away. Use up the breath allotted to you doing stuff, experiencing the things which comprise life; rather than just blamelessly, joylessly doing what keeps your heart beating (eating, sleeping, working) and then be washed away from the earth as easily as a speck of dust.

I’m not talking about fame, that’s a very narrow gauge of a life lived. (I don’t know of any famous Eskimos, does that mean no Eskimos lived life to the fullest?)

I admire people who go out and DO. Of course the moment you’re a do-er, there are things which you do wrong, people you upset. You change the course of some events, which in retrospect, might have been better left undisturbed. But that’s a small price to pay for making every breath count I think.

I’m ashamed to admit I fall into the blamelessly eating, sleeping, working category of person. But I could try to change perhaps. Say I did change (…say), what would my bucket list be to make up for nearly 3 decades of inertness?

Bucket List
1) Look like I did when I was 21. (Maybe I could aim to be a little better dressed than I did in university. Tutoring brats doesn’t get you a great wardrobe.)
2) Travel !
3) Publish my novel.
4) Er…write it first.
5) Quit soul-killing life sucking job.
6) Find alternate source of income. (preferably not soul killing or life sucking)
7) Smile more at people.
8) Not care if they don’t smile back.
9) Buy little, thoughtful gifts for friends and family (especially husband who’s always getting me thoughtful things). Make sure they get it, i.e, doesn’t go the way of some of the gifts I’ve bought in the past…given away to other people, used by self, lost or thrown away on deciding its hideous.
10) Buy little but well-appointed hut by the sea: (my friend Hillary has promised to visit) and live bohemian life. (9 and 10 hinges on point 6)
11) Be happy! (hinges on 1, 2, 3, 5 most definitely, 8 and 10)

Will let you know in 40 years how many of those I managed to cross off.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Memento Mori.

How does one get to know a person after he’s gone? I recently lost a close relative by marriage whom I’d never had the occasion to get to know.

I’d seen him in various hospitals over the last two years. And a few weeks ago, I was there when his son brought him home for the last time to a dignified yet deeply mourning family. I stood on the sidelines, secretly thanking my stars that I needn’t share in the sorrow, but trying in every way I could to comfort those who weren’t as lucky.

But during the swaran shobha, when all his family spoke about him, I realized I wasn’t that lucky after all. I started to wish I’d known him, because he sounded like someone it would’ve been fun to encounter. I felt like I was the unlucky one, for not having seen him at his jokey, resourceful , leg-pulling best, and I said as much when I was asked to speak.

Apart from the memorial service, and all the stories told by relatives and friends who poured into the house on the days succeeding his death; it struck me that I knew him quite well in another way…through his son.

People made many references to certain qualities his son had inherited, and it fascinated me to think how one can leave little pieces of oneself embedded in the next generation; who then pass it on in turn; over and over. A quality I had always thought was exclusively my husband’s would turn out to be, from an anecdote someone would tell, actually his father’s.

I felt better, and a little less of an anomaly as one of the principal mourners, once I realized that.
He lived, by today’s standards, a short life; but it sounds like he lived it fully. When I go, I’d like to be remembered similarly -- with smiles and laughter and affection.
I’d say it would be a life well lived then.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The Art of Fine Conversation

The more malicious among you who know me, have just finished rolling their eyes and saying to themselves, “What does SHE know about conversation. She takes an hour just to finish a sentence, and it’s STILL not the best thought-out sentence.” To them I will only say, “You should hear the brilliant conversations that go on inside my head. So there!”
Now that I’ve furnished my credentials to write this post, I shall plunge straight in.
If you hope to impress and amaze all with your sparkling conversation do NOT:

1) Chatter away like a psychotic monkey when you’re with other people. For one, if you’re talking THAT much, chances are you’re thinking aloud -- gibbering on about shopping lists, train timings, and the same anecdote for the 20th consecutive afternoon because the smell of coffee always triggers that memory. For another, though the thought has never crossed your mind because you’re too busy trying to eat and talk at the same time, other people might want to talk too.

2) When you’re telling an anecdote which took place in the evening don’t start with what you did in the morning “You’ll never guess what happened to me last night! …In the morning I got up, then I brushed my teeth, then I switched on the geyser, then I read the paper, then I took a bath...” Everyone is burdened with their own banalities, they really don’t want to have to experience yours second hand.

3) I don’t know about other people, but I find self-congratulatory speeches annoying (even if delivered in a self deprecatory way). The auditor in the conversation feels harangued somehow, like it is being implied that she’s a piece of shit. And the ‘self-deprecation’ doesn’t fool ANYBODY. “ I wish I could be more like you…I’m such a workaholic, I can’t read a book if I know there are chores to do.” This of course invariably follows some confession by the other person that she spent the weekend with her feet propped up on a pile of unfolded laundry, reading a book.

4) This next point is a tricky one, it works both ways: your conversation shouldn’t exclusively be an indiscriminate outpouring of venom about other people. Contrary to popular belief, it can be dreadfully dull after the first flush of excitement that gossip brings. On the OTHER hand, it’s also disquieting when you complain to a friend about someone else and they remain non committal. One invariably makes a mental note later on not to share anything more with such a person.

5) Do not go ON about people unknown to your listeners. “And then Rachna said, boy is Rachna a HOOT!...she said that Richa is the biggest slut EVER, though in my opinion that prize goes Varsha, if you know what I mean” (much waggling of eyebrows). No I DON’T KNOW WHAT YOU mean, who are these people, why are you telling me about them, why don’t you just shut up?

6) Also, if the conversation has taken a different turn (once you stopped to draw breath and lost your monopoly) do not keep breaking in with a continuation of your story. It can get pretty hairy if there are several people in the dialogue.
A: I went to watch a movie yesterday, it was…
B: That reminds me I was driving down MG Road yesterday and this man just dashed in front of me.
C: How does A watching a movie remind you of that?
D: That reminds me of an aunt I had who was totally deaf…
A: the movie wasn’t great… the hero looked like Raju from the next building.
B: …so he runs in front of me, and I veer to the left and hit the lamppost.
C: Which aunt are you talking about? The one with the moustache?
D: She had a moustache and an ear trumpet. She wasn’t much of a catch my poor aunt. My uncle developed incurable depression towards the end.
A: the person in the movie had an aunt too. She was normal though…a little on the chubby side maybe…
B:…So I was, like..”Dude…do you have to dart across the road like that?”


Of course after all these don’ts some of my readers with nervous temperaments might be tempted never to indulge in conversation again.
That might actually constitute my Dos list. Communicate only if someone’s standing on your foot or such like. I’m telling ya, after having all these types inflicted on them, people will call you to every party and hail you as the greatest speaker EVER.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

A pearl a day

Today morning I was standing in front of the office restroom mirror and sulking about my life as usual; when a frightening thought struck me. What if this IS the happiest time of my life? What if this is the time I look back upon and say with a nostalgic sigh…”aah to have an office restroom mirror to sulk in front of.” (Which could mean in the future (a) I mightn’t have an office to visit the restroom of. (b) the office I’d work at in the future won’t have a restroom.© For some bizarre reason, my future employers would have no need of mirrors. (creepy))

Because really, if one looks at the broad outlines my life is fine (I wrote “near perfect” then changed it to ‘fine” because I don’t want the jinx pixies to get me). It’s the details that are screwed up, that’s the problem. What if, heaven forbid, the broad outlines go awry too? Then I won’t even be able to look at the details, things will be so bad, and I’ll be sulking something fierce on a pavement somewhere.

It’s a sobering thought, and quite robbed me of the simple pleasure of my daily sulk. While I look ahead for that elusive day when everything will line up just like they ought, my last few months in my 20s are fast running out. Then it’ll be my 30s and my 40s and very soon, I’m in a home somewhere telling a bored attendant for the 20th time that day,…”I had everything but I didn’t know it until now”.

I know this may contradict what I said last week…and I’m not saying I’ve changed my mind about that. Let’s just compromise and say we should keep one eye on the ‘daily little problems’ aspect and another on the broad outlines; and then we’ll be fine.

Cross-eyed but fine.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

No Problem!

This is a bit of a reiteration of an old post (one of my initial ones 2 years ago) but it’s been on my mind again; so I thought I might add something to it.

Whenever I’m upset about something, people try to cheer me up with the most bizarre - not to mention inappropriate things. “Think of all the people born without arms and legs!” they’ll exclaim with the air of one handing out treats.

But it doesn’t really work because (a) what kind of a monster claps her hands and says “Coo, thoughts of such people make me laugh all my troubles away, they do!” ?(b) it upsets me more to be reminded of the misery this world is steeped in, and (c) it’s my problem and my life and so, despite the fact it’s just the smallest microbe of a problem in the universal scheme of things (10 being an asteroid heading towards the earth causing total annihilation of all living beings, and 5 being global warming…how would you rate your problem on a scale of 1 to 10?) it’s still bothering you because it’s YOURS.

I also don’t think it’s the healthiest thing to sweep your problems under the carpet, however insignificant they are in “the scheme of things.” If it’s bothering you it’s a problem. If it’s your problem you should try to fix it so that it doesn’t classify as a problem anymore.
“Oh, my parents called up yesterday, said they had a long discussion about me. They’ve decided I am devil spawn and wish they’d killed me when they still had the chance. But hey, think of all the kids who don’t HAVE parents to phone and call them devil spawn, eh? Hee hee, it makes me feel warm ALL over!” Chances are, it’s THAT attitude which has given your parents ideas in the first place.

And because of your damned sense of perspective you totally ignore a situation which face it, kinda sucks and can be improved.

“ Hello, Mother? I didn’t appreciate being called devil spawn and would like to know what you meant by it. “
…“ The fire in ‘82? That was the dog! Tiger was devil spawn, not me!”
…“That’s OK, at your age one forgets. See you on Sunday”

Problem, ladies and gents, SOLVED.

I’m not saying we should lose all sense of perspective, but let’s admit that we’re human and individuals. Our problems naturally come first. People who mouth the whole “Children in Somalia” line usually freak out at the smallest sign that their plans are not going as they would like.

Of course there’s a flip side to this argument. (Isn’t there always?) There are some people who, when you tell them you have a problem, just can’t shake off the feeling that their problems are similar, but they’re dealing with these much better than you.

“Stomach cramps?” Looking down on you curled up in a ball on the floor. “I’m having one right now. You just can’t let them affect you like that, you need mental strength…care for a game of tennis?” Of course there’s not even the hint of a suspicion that yours might be worse than hers. Just that you’re an inferior being, and ergo, not in the mood to fool about with a racket and ball just then.

In other words, it’s fair to say your problems should be most important to you because they’re yours, but retarded to expect people will take the same view of them as you.

…And someone tell me what Somalian people say to their friends when they get depressed.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Pippin.

Today I finally got around to writing something for my blog, and that makes me very happy. :)

I could of course, tell you how busy I was, how much work I had heaped on my desk (figuratively…I use computers nowadays), how badly my health has been behaving, etc. But I find I get very irritated and defensive when other people say they’ve been busy (‘Does she think she’s the only one who works around here??’) and really my ill-health doesn’t make very fascinating reading. So I’ll go straight to the last and by far the most entertaining reason why I have been neglecting my pore ol’ blog for the last month.

I went to Calcutta at the end of last month. This time, it was much more than the usual trip back home (though I always thoroughly enjoy even those-- full of relatives dishing out insults and food with equal abandon). This time, I had a date with a blue-eyed young man I had been hearing a lot about the last 10 months. We’d exchanged pictures, witty banter over chat (to quote him, “99jhjdk” “ksbhbd000”…cracked me up every time.), and he’d sung some of his own compositions to me over the phone on a few occasions. Needless to say, I was dying to meet him and his parents and when they flew down to Calcutta from the UK to meet my parents, I followed soon after.

I first caught sight of Pippin (Syon to everyone else) sitting quietly like a little pixie in the crook of his mother’s arm. I don’t know if it was because he was my nephew (blood runs thicker than water, yada yada) or because he was just so prodigiously cute (like a Trait-R tested bunny from my super hero post). As we regarded each other solemnly, I felt quite an unprecedented rush of maternal affection, and I hoped we could be great friends in time.

I always thought babies were pricey and quite insulting in how they chose some people over others. This wee chap won hearts by how social and nice he was to everyone. It is more surprising considering how unsocial his mother’s side of the family can be. Fortunately so far he hasn’t seemed to have got those genes. Only our beauty and wit.

Before the night I landed, I had alarming visions of his turning away shrieking whenever I approached him for a bit of aunt-nephew bonding. Needless to say, I was greatly relieved when he regarded me with great interest as if saying to himself “Coo, this lady’s cheeks look nice and chewy, innit?”(He is from the UK, I am introducing dialect for verisimilitude.)

In no time at all as the days progressed, we were crawling about the floor together, or when the Ma-sheep (moi) took a break for the trillionth cup of tea he would grace me with a little visit, pushing his grandmother’s cane stool ahead of him like a walker. My mother or I would pick him up and walk around with him, if his harried parents needed their hands free for some other baby-care activity, and he would head-butt me in the teeth (10-month old heads are HARD, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise) and pull my hair until some strands gave up the fight, as signs of his affection. I took his parents aside, out of Pippin’s earshot; and advised them to wean him off this particular habit, lest 20 years later, irate mothers of young women called and complained about brutality.

Most gratifying of course, was when he would laugh uproariously (all 8 teeth on show) at the same old game of peek a boo, as if to say “Corblimey, Ma-sheep luv, you’re so funny!” or feel safe enough to fall asleep in my arms as I sang to him.

Not to say things were all sweetness, poor Pippin was a martyr to his tummy and a cold while he was in Calcutta, and hence fretful at times. Those were times nobody would do except his parents, and he would bawl loudly if the others in the house had different ideas.
I also noticed his hilarious habit of grumpily pushing his lower lip out … the spitting image of my sister when she’s in a temper.

For all the Mashi-bhagne bonding though, I would be lying if I claimed I was his favorite in that house. First prize went to his grandfather, with whom he spent happy evenings wrestling. I think my Dad is getting all the contusions on his head looked at now, a consequence of being the favourite.

His great- grandmother was also thrilled to meet him, and would complain bitterly that we didn’t bring him by as often as she would like.

It was very hard to part with him, and I’m ashamed that I was more of a baby than him when I had to say goodbye to that house full of people. My grandmother sitting in the verandah thinking back on her life, my parents pleased as punch with their grandson, my sister and Steve -- proud parents, and little Pippin. MJP was full of life and joy and laughter; mealtimes bedtimes voices raised in admonishment because the baby had crawled under furniture; songs being sung; people breaking into impromptu jigs to entertain baby. Hard as it is to come back to our work home in Bangalore every 6 months, leaving a home that just overflowed with life this time was a wrench.

But there’s always next time, that’s the best thing about family. And next time maybe Ma-sheep could actually hear what Pippin has to say instead of guessing, and sing songs with words together.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

An Ode to Friends.

My husband always wonders at my addiction to Friends. “You’ve seen this episode 12 times before!” he’ll cry and change the channel to a music video he’s watched …12 times before. He watches as much as he can, that is, before I clobber him with a chair and retrieve the remote from his unconscious grip.

It’s an addiction that comforts and cheers at the worst of times. I was bereft when Friends ended, and think nothing of watching reruns of the same episode as many times as they show it.

I know every ‘Oh-My-GOD”, every “How YOU doin’”, every “Could you BE more …” in the 10 seasons of Friends. Yet I laugh when they laugh, shake my head patronizingly (“that Joey”), and hope Ross and Rachel won’t break up; like it’s…maybe not the first time…but certainly only the fifth time I’m watching that episode. I feel like I’m sitting on that couch with them in Central Perk, ribbing the others (sometimes cruelly) about some trial they’re facing at the moment.

Sad, I know.

I think it’s because it takes me back to when people had time to be friends in my own life. I’m particularly attached to this sitcom because it reminds me of my gang back in college. We were a mix of girls and guys (apart from three of us the combination changed when we graduated to Masters Degree), and we would hang out all the time. We would sit on the back staircase on our floor in JU and pass the time of day just like the characters in Friends. Of course we weren’t half as good looking, and were students rather than working people alone in the city -- but it was much the same.

Just like them, we would josh each other about sometimes sensitive things (I got no end of grief for my Bengali. I thank God I wasn’t overweight at the time, the teasing would’ve been merciless!). We would just be glad to be in the company of like-minded people and laugh uproariously at each other’s jokes. Conversation used to be stimulating—we would try to outdo each other in wit; sometimes there would be flashes of profundity in our na├»ve exchanges that I find SO hard to come by in my “adult” conversations nowadays.

I guess when I watch Friends all of that comes back to me. That feeling of belonging, of wondering what madcap thing your friends will come up with next; of that sudden flirtatious spark with one of the gang because you’re young and happy and attractive and everything is right and fun.

Now I’m still friends with most of the group from that time, though except for a few who I consider my closest friends still; everyone has got on with their lives and rarely get a chance to catch up. Not one is in the same city as the other; and I doubt with the sundry trials and tribulations that a near decade can bring, we could ever share the light-hearted banter that was at the heart of our closeness so many years ago. I know for a fact that we’ll never ALL be in the same room together, and in fact, there will be some who won’t even agree to it.

Now, 8 years down the line, some of us have done better than others, some have got married (not to each other; none of the Monicas and Chandlers made it oddly) and had kids, others haven’t. I find it strange that a group of people who shared such a close bond could be so different now. Yet, I feel confident that however happy or busy our lives are now, every one of us have a flash of nostalgia when we think of the staircases and window ledges we used to haunt for hours every day, chattering about everything and nothing.

And that’s the time when I switch on the telly and watch Friends re-runs.

Friday, February 6, 2009

In case you were wondering if I'd chickened out of putting in my two cents about this one...

I’m angry.

As if it wasn’t bad enough that 2008 had been a GodAwful year, what with the Financial disaster (Capital F), bombings and what-have-you that wiped the smug ‘India Shining’ smiles bloody straight off our faces. Now we have complete lunatics entering our pubs and beating up women for “going against Indian culture” (yes, THAT again.) and giving quotes to the papers to the effect that they’ll beat up women in jeans and noodle straps (these thugs seem to have a keen eye for fashion, I thought men didn’t know the names for these things) and that they’ll forcibly marry off any couples they see on Valentine’s Day.

Of course very few people condone it, but the very fact that such mad men are allowed to run amok like this and clearly state their intentions to disrupt the peace and inflict bodily harm on peaceful citizens disturbs me. And obviously they have taken a huge leaf out of the book of ‘More ignominious chapters in Indian culture’ in this idea of forcibly marrying people off, ignoring the fact that a marriage wouldn’t even be legal if it’s done under duress by some gundas who come along.

Here’s my advice to such weirdos. Get A Life. Maybe you’ll be able to BEAR seeing other people happy or having fun then. Get a JOB. Maybe you won’t have to accept money from politicians for politicizing total non-issues and disrupting the peace then.

All of us, in our heart of hearts, feel bad for you guys and the singularly joyless, perverse existences you live – where every woman is a sex object and thereby “provocative” unless covered up.

Oh and also, stop saying that you’re on opposites sides of the divide with your fundamentalist brethren from other religions, because from where I’m standing your little tricks the past couple of weeks, and what the Taliban does to women, are just different by a few degrees, is all. (You guys should have a fundamentalist convention and have team building activities like, “Shoot the provocative 11 year old girl in the legs” or attend lectures on “How you can enforce culture without knowing any culture at all”.)

Shame on all of us, for allowing such losers to grow on our soil.
And Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone!:)

Sunday, February 1, 2009

My attempt at a superhero story. :)

A bus full of ordinary office-goers (one of those red ones with the closing doors which charge a bomb) plunges into a suspiciously lumpy looking canal. Turns out that a multi-crore pharmaceutical company has been secretly (i.e at 2 pm on weekdays when everyone is at lunch) dumping their factory wastes into that canal. Among sundry gross things is a strong concentration of their experimental drug “Trait-R” which when tested on bunnies brought out and enhanced their dominant characteristic, that is, made them cute on monstrous proportions. It has sometimes unfortunate effects on humans, humans being rather unfortunate as beings. But if they’re dumped into a whole soup of this chemical the effect is disastrous.

Thus were born a league of superhumans, with their own dominant traits enhanced to the point of excluding every other trait (like a sense of humour or love for dogs.) In such a concentrated form they are:

The Fabricator (credit to Chris and Rema of office)

Clad in little white Lie-cra fabric, She saves the world one “You don’t look fat at all!” at a time.

Where the Fabricator is, peace and love and deluded fat people follow.

Blunder Woman

The antithesis of The Fabricator, Blunder Woman produces great unity wherever she goes. How you ask? Armed with her relentless faux pas (they’re smallish, blunt objects but hurt like hell if they’re hurled at you) she brings even the most mortal enemies close to each other in shared annoyance of her.

Not to be confused with, Cat Woman (alternatively called “The Bitch”)

Where Blunder Woman cannot keep her foot out of her mouth ( “Those allergies must be awful to make your face swell up like that! Oh dear…no allergies…you say…”) but is greatly pained by her super power to annoy and upset people; Cat Woman is greatly feared for her calculated and sometimes deadly blows to the human pride with her weapon of choice -- her hatchet Spite. (“Those allergies must be AWFUL to make your face swell up like that! Oh dear…no allergies…you say…” Walks away with a smirk.)

Super power: No Egos where she Goes.


The Incredible Sulk

More identified by the dark thundercloud hanging over his head than unconventional skin coloring and ‘fits all sizes’ underpants, The Incredible Sulk has the unerring power to feel affronted and victimized by anything people do. He will throw a hissy fit and then go outside and sit in a corner until people (who are usually the ones in the right, but ‘let it go, you know he’s like that’) search him out and insincerely apologize to him, so he starts acting like a normal adult again. This superpower helps people build extreme patience and tolerance; or alternatively buy a gun.

Stupor Man

The healer of all insomniacs and the bane of all others who already get their 8 hours and don’t want any more…Stupor Man will put anyone to sleep with his involved, self-congratulatory, and mind numbingly boring accounts of what he said and then what she said, and what he thought when she said that, and what he told her when she said that, and so on.

Superpower: An encounter with him, and you feel so much better about your own life.

Who is a close cousin of Direction Boy:

Armed with exhaustive directions to every place he’s ever been, in fact every place he’s ever heard of, and an eternal thirst to know directions to every place mentioned in every anecdote—Direction Boy has the superpower of interrupting the most interesting anecdote so many times for EXACT directions that people tire of the story and wander off. (“Hang on hang on; the cannibal bit you where? Papua New Guinea? Where in Papua New Guinea? North or South? Near that darling little shrunken heads shop on Eat Street?”)

Bag Lady

The whole world is in her purse, including a bill for a box of gum bought in 1973.

Super Power: Is guaranteed to root around in her bag and produce a half-crumbled stomach cramp pain killer when you have cut your finger and are bleeding to death.

And last but certainly not the least is

Fat Man

He can kill you just by sitting on you. However if you run away real fast, he’ll never get the chance – so it doesn’t really matter.