Tuesday, June 26, 2007
for she who free falls...
its tiring. chasing after change. thats our pet malaise. the transient intrigues us and constancy, well constancy just sits there like a lump. like a dog chasing after its tail, we run around rabid circles loving our unhappiness. i read something interesting today," when adults say 'forever', they just mean for a really long time".
'forever', isnt that a formidable word? i know what it is like to be stuck in a rut, to sit there and watch the world go by and let the grime and dust coat your skin.
when one door shuts, she opens another, when one fails her, she leans on another; in all this shutting and opening of doors, the walls have grown bare, mouldy and the decay has set in. the circles under her eyes dont hide the madness in them. she is restless and has begun to wear an expression of fatigue, when she does not look haunted. she is a beautiful woman, she still is... i can see that the fall has begun, a leap into an endless void.
i love this woman, but i stand by and watch as she free falls.is it possible to fall in love with unhappiness? wouldn't self preservation kick in at some point in this trajectory? meanwhile, one day slips into another and the greys seem indistinct and hazy and we chase that elusive idea just over the rainbow...
another medusa tale
if I write this post, you are going to think i am obsessed with hair… my own, then the mohawk’s, then curly’s and now the husband’s. but if you are going to spend an entire lifetime with a bloke who looks like he is wearing an entire unweeded backyard and all its inhabitants on his head, you will certainly not be so benevolent.
this is the look the husband sports these days. he is quite pleased with it, “look, no combing required”, he said, patting his hair in place and then raking it all up with a few flicks. i watched with a grim expression and some apprehension. i didn’t know about this penchant of the husband’s. just a month back i had managed to coerce and beguile the husband into getting rid of the fuzz disguised as a french beard on his chin. i remember it had taken some effort and all my wily charms. the first few times, i had been nice and graceful about this, assuming this was some sort of passing fancy.
and in any case with hair like mine, i really didnt think it was proper and respectable to go about telling people what they should be doing about their hair. but it was the last straw a couple of days back when amma and appa visited and took a good, long look at the husband. ma sipped her filter coffee, and stole glances at the husband (mine), finally throwing all discretion into the air, she said,"are you alright? you dont look too well", then she turned to me with a stern expression and said in tamil,"aren't you taking care of him? he looks so thin and just look at his hair!" the poor husband looked on innocently, blissfully unaware of this part of the exchange (these mixed marriages sure have their advantages).
i squirmed and mumbled something about the husband being busy. now the dashed thing about all this is, since we got married the husband's been growing thinner and i have been growing fatter. picture this, a perfectly clean faced man goes and loses weight, grows his hair and refuses to shave and all of this happens within 2 months of his tying the knot.
now,what do you deduce sherlock? what a presumptuous, prejudiced, unimaginative bunch you are!so thats how things are now... after several strategems failed, i went and threatened the husband,"if you dont go and get a haircut, i am going to write about it in my blog!"
though i managed to get a few cringes and dilute assurances in response, there have been no other tangible results. hence the post. this bit of dirty linen needs washing on the web!meanwhile... i summon my powers of endurance (should i tie ribbons in his hair every night when he is asleep?)!
as the champa stands
i carefully pasted a tiny piece of tinsel on the one foot replica of the rath. i could barely wait for the evening. this was a day that all us kids looked forward to. appa patiently cut up shiny gold and silver papers. ma had made some home made gum, made by boiling wheat flour with some water.i dont think there was a concept of fevicol in those days!
it was the day of the festival of the rath yatra. while huge, spectacularly decorated raths, would be pulled at jagannathpuri, we kids pulled these little wooden replicas around the colony. there was a big competition among us, whose rath would be the largest or the grandest?! the earlier year, goldie had won hands down! his rath had three floors! it was almost as high as him and he had strutted around like a bandy little rooster, pulling it behind him.we had all crowded around him,begging for a turn to pull his rath... it looked so magnificent!i stuck the last bit of coloured paper in my little rath and carefully placed the idols of krishna, balaram and subhadra.
i could barely conceal my excitement! i had a major trump card up my sleeve this year! an uncle had gifted my big, brother a tiny row of battery operated coloured lights. if you turned a tiny switch on, the lights would blink, making lovely little sequences of red and green twinkles. i had begged and cajoled my brother into loaning it to me for one day. he gave them to me with strict instructions... and dire threats about all the things that could happen to me if i messed the lights up. nobody was to touch it, not even me. when all finishing touches and sequins had been pasted on to the rath, and it was time to go down to the colony, then he would put the lights in for me (when the time was right, he added cryptically, until then i was to pipe down and keep mum and still)! as evening drew near, i could barely sit still. the minute i heard my bumchum pappu call out for me, i ran to my big brother and gave him my best-little-puppy-beseeching-look.
we gathered near the champa tree, an assorted bunch of kids, pappu, scrawny with stubborn hair that stood on its edge like a coconut; goldie, with a brand new three-foot rath, all smug; chotkun and bodkun the twins, wearing identical clothes yet again; and me in my usual shorts and t-shirt (i never wore frocks, and all my friends were boys, in fact i dont think i had discovered yet that i was a girl). i looked at all the raths, they all looked so grand!
pappu's rath was red and gold and had little minarets in them, the twins had purple, green and gold raths with tiny paper horses cut out in the front! goldie's rath looked grand, it was three feet high, on the topmost floor he had put glitter paper and his new dinky car, in the second floor there were flowers and on the bottom floor, were the three lovely idols, each floor had a gauze curtain which had been tied with a satin ribbon! i looked at my rath, it looked plain in comparison, but appa had cut some paper patterns for me and they looked lovely. it was still daylight, and my trump card was hidden behind the idols in my rath.we stuffed our mouths with crystallised sugar candies and began pulling the raths around the colony. some aunties called out to us and gave us some delicious shondesh and mishties to eat.i looked at the darkening sky with glee. my brother appeared like an apparition and while pretending to examine my rath, turned the lights on and set them in the front of the idols! they twinkled red and green and lit up my little chariot! i looked around and saw all the boys go, "oooh!". the red and green twinkles cast lovely patterns on the bits of gold and silver paper and my rath looked grand!suddenly all the boys wanted turns at pullling my rath, goldie forgot his goliath and for once looked a little deflated. my brother gave me a conspiratorial wink and disappeared. i could barely stop grinning!tiny bits of tinsel and some coloured lights... this was enough once to fill our hearts with glee.the champa still stands... but we have journeyed so far.
delete and obliterate
i have been staring at the curser for the past thirty minutes, and its been blinking back at me stubbornly, i made atleast two false starts... thank heavens there is a delete button, handy these things, would have been terribly dandy if we all had one wired into us. "i dont like your face... delete". "i slept with that twerp... delete". "i screwed up... delete". reminds me of the article i once read about people deleting the numbers of their partners/spouses from their phones' contact list, after a break up.how terribly cold is that?! it is like obliterating someone's existence from your world."i am dumping you... delete". the mobile phone is such a vile curse! who needs the ebola virus or a nuclear war? anyone who's been dumped over a text message, knows exactly what i am talking about.
this little gizmodo will do us in. earlier when we called one another, we said."hello, how are you doing?" now when we call, its,"where are you?!" dwell on this for a minute... when did 'where' become more important than 'how'? a person's physical location has become more important that his well being?! this little beast has completely changed the way people interact with one another. we have mobile phones, landlines and the internet, yet our communication has dwindled to pathetic, superficial, terse bursts of information exchange. there seems to be very little or no place for meaningful conversations, long pauses, meandering debates...only general paranoia and vague disconnectedness. the world's shrinking, but people are drawing farther apart. it is rather sad... this death of fondness, of concern, of time lavished upon things of no particular purpose... this death of memories.
sillunnu oru kadhal
‘sillunnu oru kadhal’, that’s what i am listening to.let me translate that for you (you poor non-tamils), it means… a love that is (get this..) chilly! no! not the mirchi chilly, the ice-cube-down-your-shirt chilly!if this is not evidence enough that tamil should have been our national language, then i cant imagine what is (keep your heads down you north indians)?!
and this is how you need to say it, jiggle your bosom a bit on the ‘sillunnu’, do the whole, raunchy expression, sibilant thing on it as well, this makes it more authentic; it would also help if you had, big, flamboyant moustaches. no?, can you wear an ‘apsara-dress’ and spin a top on your belly then? no? sheesh! ok say it anyway!when you get to ‘kadhal’, breathe out easy, hold that look, hold that look… breathe.
this is pretty much what i get to see on sun tv (and what else is mainstream entertainment but caricatures and stereotypes?). amma is hooked to the damn thing. ekta (freak) kapoor’s soaps are bad enough, now imagine all this shit in tamil, with maamis in silk saaris and enough jasmine flowers in their hair to neuter 20 skunks, young women in pavaadais (half saris) or salwaar kameez dupattas (dupatta arranged in neat pleats and pinned to one shoulder), doing the kolam (rangoli) on their doorsteps, listening to the suprabhaatam.and if this is not bad enough, amma turns around,” how nice no? why don’t you wear salwar kameezes like that?”.
what is it with all these tamilians? and where the hell do they learn to speak like that?
for a long time, i thought all the dialogs that amma would fling at us were of her own creation, but no... the damn language is colourful, everybody in sun tv talks like this.
let me give you an example, these are gems, ‘vairu gabagabane eriyerudu’, it means (literally) ‘my stomach is aflame (with anger)’, let me clarify this at once. there is another priceless one, this she used when we wouldn’t wake up early, translated this goes, “are you going to sleep until the sunlight hits your ass?” this, i am not going to give you tamil words for (ha! not everything comes for free honey).
i also see that these tamil films have made some progress. the heros are even clean shaven these days and the heroines quite skinny and svelte (look what you bloody aryans did to us, we used to like them jiggly and thunder-thighed until you came along). but luckily you still find the 'apsara-dress' (remember? jaya pradha did a lot of this), and then there is this very tapori, raunchy dance that is called the 'dappanguthu'.
it is danced like it sounds, peppered liberally with a lot of thrusting of every part of the anatomy and that really lewd, sleazy, twisted-mouth-look.
so, 'sillunnu oru kadhal', isnt that terribly clever and cool? i like the way it sounds. erotic. now can gulzar come up with anything close? that proves it. tamil has arrived. i am very inspired.
i am going to tuck a roja poovu in my hair and eat idli sambhar everyday.
I HAVE A MOHAWK BLONDE FOR A NEIGHBOUR!!! there! i had to use uppercase (i hate them caps) to express this appropriately! now how often does this happen? no, really! how often does this happen, especially if you are living in india?! that too maharashtra?!
listen, i am cool about this. i can handle mohawks... its just the improbability of this happening that zaps me! the first time that i saw her, she was striding down the road, she almost caused a traffic jam! fat uncles and paan dribbling autodrivers stopped, turned around to look at her!
if you are a woman, you know how this feels, it really doesnt take much to get a man's attention... but if you are a mohawk, you got eyeballs at you from every corner! the next time i saw her, i almost dropped the tomato i was chopping. my kitchen overlooks hers! i needed to make sure she was a mohawk and not just some woman with a yellow towel arranged on her head... so i observed her from the corner of my eyes, while i chopped the onions (try this, it needs some expertise though)... mohawk? check! the next day, i saw a young, curly haired (very cute) man pottering around the same kitchen (this just seems to be getting better).
"must be her boyfriend", i said to the husband. how do i know he was her boyfriend? well, how many indian men do you know, who marry blonde mohawks, huh? most indian men marry big bosomed, long, black haired, docile things that make alu puri and chole. (what a prejudiced chump this woman is?!) i have never seen the two together in the kitchen. one day its curly and the next its the mohawk. some domestic arrangement this! i have never been very lucky with neighbours or co-passengers. i have always had loud, nosy aunties who ask embarassing questions with big saucer eyes, squawling babies or moustached, oily men as co-passengers on long train journeys. my neighbours have mostly been the unsociable types that nod at you quickly and jump and shut their doors behind them with such alacrity that you wonder if you ever saw them in the first place. so this is all very refreshing indeed.
suddenly i am cool with cooking dinner more often. the husband's been wondering why i have turned so domesticated and gharelu all of a sudden!
maybe i will make alu puri and chole just to complete the illusion.
sploosh and sizzle!
office parties can be rather strained affairs, especially if you are relatively new. you sit twiddling your thumbs and looking longingly at all the booze (cant get too drunk and do the hula with all the bosses around now, can we?) and make stuttering attempts at jovial conversations with your colleagues. we had one such party a couple of days back. now for all my panache and attitude, i am quite reserved and often socially inadept. i take painfully long to think of clever things to say and give a grand imitation of clam chowder when there are too many strangers around.
(un)happily for me, most people think i am a snoot and a prude and dont quite see all the knots that i have tied my toes into. at some point of time early on in the evening, all the menfolk disappeared with rackets and wobbly paunches and gave a rather good pretence of knocking the ball around. this left all the ladies-log bunched up together...i noted with rising panic that the conversation veered towards kids and ladies things...i made a few appropriate noises and looked at the swimming pool and sighed. if only i could swim, no, no, lets be honest, if only i could swim and not look like a beached whale in a swimming costume (...if i could swim).
through some strange means of ESP, the thought seemed to have drifted through the air. some of the ladies-log went and sat delicately by the pool, letting their toes dip into the water.several pictures were clicked at this point of time, all the classic poses, wind in the hair, ladies-log leaning all in a row, you know this stuff (ha! you have done it too! loser!). i decided to do the whole bonhomie thing and dipped my toes in too. then as if out of nowhere several of our male colleagues sprang into the pool, the pool was soon a melee of thrashing hairy, unconcealable paunches (and one or two hot-bods too, didn't notice them with their clothes on...hmm).
the ladies-log promptly scattered, all squeals and panic, leaving behind my bum-friend and i.
we stared brazenly at all the men and shamed them into ducking into the deep end for cover. and then some reckless, wild spirit took over us and we scrambled into the pool, fully clothed. its not for us, this fragile-toe-dipping. so picture this...two rather rotund women, with big glee smiles, fully dressed, walking in neck deep water in a pool filled with men keeping a safe distance. we gathered quite an audience, the ladies-log looked on in horror, but we didnt give a damn! it began to pour, it was awesome. when our fingers had turned into prunes, we clambered out of the pool and gorged on hot mirchi vadas and sozzled some beer. foresight is hardly something that i can lay claim for. we sat in our wet clothes for the rest of the evening. as the evening wore on, this dj came onto the floor. he had a rather dry style... he'd play a bit of a song and cut into abrupt silence, all the flailing arms and legs would stop, and then when people began to trudge back to their beers and seats, he'd pop a song in quickly, and everybody would run back to the floor again. people caught on soon enough and took to milling around, striking convincing james-dean-poses, even catching up on conversation and then jangling into a frenzied bundle in synch with the cranky dj.then all of a sudden this re-mixed marathi number reverberated into the air, and the dance floor was filled with strutting, pelvic thrusting, frantic boys (little runts i have never seen before, sheesh, i work with these things!) doing a wierd mix of manoj bajpai, dada kondke and amitabh bachhan, all on crack.
en generale, i think everybody had a good time; just as long as they wouldnt have to slink by in shame the next day at work. i notice that most people give me a large smile that falters at the corners these days. in retrospect maybe we should have stuck to delicate-toe-dipping. wisdom always works in retrospect.
what the heck?! give me a pool and i am going slam dunk in it anyday, i am not wearing a little thingummy (this is how i am going to put it) because it is against my religion (challenge that anybody?), besides its a free country, and we are sparing you sights of the beached whale.sploosh and sizzle!
gripe water with bitter lemons
what if i had done a BA and then got married in a dash and had two babies? i’d be zipping around drippy noses, wet bottoms, irate in-laws, PTAs and made hot samosas and chai for my husband for his evening snack after office; i would have juggled 1000 things around the house and flopped in a chair, exhausted, at the end of the day. would i have had the time to pontificate and gripe about how my life lacks meaning? maybe i would have. maybe i would have been a lot happier. maybe i would have died of premature menopause. it’s not for me to know.
i belong to the entire bunch of screwed up kids-who-will-not-grow-up, who had the best of several worlds. our parents made huge journeys during their time, journeys that i honestly think we do not have the courage or the grit for. appa came from a tiny village with an unpronounceable name, he would trudge several kilometers just to get to his school, he worked his way up, battling lack of money and resources. when my parents started their married life together, all they owned were a few pots and pans and a chair. i hear similar stories from my friends. of beginnings modest and humble. stories of childhoods spent running free, playing with bits of paper and twigs and that one precious doll (who opened and shut her eyes!), of the simple pleasures of going out together to eat puchka or jhaal muri wrapped in a paper cone; we treasured things more, or is this just my favourite illusion?
things were not easy to come by back then.i believe, most of my generation has seen a life much simpler, yet today we lead lives of such complications. the paradox haunts me... our parents had little or no material comforts and possessions, but they formed relationships that were rock solid... we have everything we need and three things more, yet we make such fragile bonds.
and here we are, 30-something-olds, snazzy, with a pert little accent in the english we speak, with jobs that do a lot more than put the bread on the table; we zip around all day caught in a haze of self-assumed importance, wearing appropriate frowns...
yet when evening sets in and the work for the day is done and we struggle with the key in the lock, some of us returning to an empty home, some others returning to a life of details and routine, some to only endless chores more, some to yet another strained relationship and mistrust cloaked in silence... our shoulders sag a bit and the soles of our feet ache... where is the thrill of exhilaration? the surprise and delight at the smallest of discoveries? or even the quiet, calm of a sunday afternoon?
we allow ourselves to wallow in a mist of lustreless existence, i think we are in love with our miseries, imagined or otherwise. we feed it, stroke it and put it to bed with us.there are too many ghouls in this street... too many tired faces... too many phoney smiles and false cheer... the truth is, our asses are too cushy and we are secretly guilty that we have no real problems. we want to assert our free will, but take no real responsibilities, we want to play adults but we are all attention-deprived bawling kids behind that composed demeanour.
its like running on the moebius strip, no one knows which way is in, out, down or up... but the running just cant stop. and the truth might be that, we know of our insignificance.our 15 minutes of fame passed us by when we were sleeping, putting the garbage out or re-arranging that frown.
what would it be like to stop? stop. breathe. this morbid piece ends here. stop.
oh corpulence, my corpulence
i took a deep breath, sucked my abdomen in and heaved at my jeans, tugged at the two ends and just about managed to button it. i paused and looked at my reflection. the sight that greeted me was not flattering.
i looked like a frumpy bean bag that had crawled into a jam jar.
i turned and presented my profile to the mirror.
my stomach looked like one of those things that johnny sokko’s clanging robot fought with in every episode. i steeled myself and straightened my shoulders… this would just not do.
i sniffed, and patted my paunch (lets face it, that’s what it is), hoping i could coax it into deflating. it wobbled a bit more and even whooped at me in defiance.
“you are married now, you will put on more weight, just you wait”, said amma, i could see the glee in her face (my mother is my greatest critic and is never going to lose an opportunity to rub things in and show me a clear perspective of how things really stand).
hello? like what’s the connection?!
“all women put on weight after marriage”, said a distant aunt, settling her large haunches snugly into the sofa, “it is all the… you know…er… happiness”, this part of the sentence was spoken in a loud whisper accompanied by a pointed look at me and some giggling. the aunt is a very large woman, and giggles in short, quick squeaks, the tremors set her quivering all over, like jelly that’s been twanged every one minute. shudder.
i steadied my nerves which jangled at the giggles and kept my face deadpan, bresson would have cast me in his next film, if he were alive.
i cast a furtive look around at subbu uncle. subbu uncle looks a bit like a miniature sea lion with a bad back and a dead fish for a moustache. i stifled the bile that rose in my system when some very inappropriate imagery popped into my head.
why do people assume that newly married couples screw like rabbits?! (er… do they? really? no! what? really?! )
and what is the connection with sex, marriage and fat?!
i sneaked another look at the aunt, and sniggered in my head, “so you think I am doing all of this for the first time, eh? you poor, chaste, malli-poovu-in-the-hair, snake-like-thick-gold-mangalsutra-soul, HA!”
so now that its been established that there is no real connection… what can be done?! this cant be tut tutted anymore and be called “puppy-fat-it-will-go-away”. it cant be folded and wrapped into a box and put away so it can be taken out, put in the sun and shaken every once in a while.
it cant be persuaded or just willed away. i love food and i hate exercise. staring at it is not putting it into any real shame either. and i am not falling for all the sauna belts and kinky things that these gorgeous, flat abdomened aliens with big boobs and bright smiles are selling on tv.
i am just going to go and buy some loose clothes with folds and gathers that will hide the damn thing. ah! that’s it! better still, i will go to a store which keeps ‘vanity-sized’ clothes. pick up a few extra large sizes disguised as small and feel really good about all of this.
or maybe I will go buy something which will reveal so much cleavage that no one’s going to look any further.
this way, i don’t even need to spend any money on pedicures any more.
hojmi ghuri for happiness
every sunday appa wore his oldest blue t-shirt. it had a soft feel to it like the slightest murmur. after his cup of filter coffee, a conference would be held in the kitchen. ma would preside. the fridge would be rummaged and stock taken of which vegetables had to be bought. “aiyyo, don’t buy anymore avarakkai. nobody likes it except you”. ma has been and still is the reigning queen of the kitchen. after a list was made of how many thengais and other karigai had to be bought, appa armed with two old neatly folded canvas bags would slip on his chappals.
i always accompanied him on these trips. i too had my own vegetable bag. it was a tiny plastic woven bag, with blue and white checks, my paati had made it for me.
i liked to watch appa buy the vegetables. there was an order in which the veggies were bought. the first stop would be at the coconut seller. the coconut seller would pick up the coconuts and tap them. he wore large rings on all his fingers which made tick-tick sounds as he rapped the coconuts. appa would then examine the coconut and shake it next to his ears to make sure it had enough water. “saar, very good, saar, discount price for you”, the many ringed coconut tapper would say.
then the potatoes and onions would be bought. the last stop would always be for tomatoes (so that they would not get squished you see).
the market place in calcutta teemed with people, hawkers, flies, fish and livestock. big, fat ladies in dhakai saris and sleeveless blouses, haggled over the price of palak, sweat dribbling in wet streams down the back of their blouses. trailing behind them would be a dark, emaciated little urchin lugging a bag of vegetables twice his size, a coolie hired for a few paisas.
the ground would be slushy with slime and decayed vegetables.appa would put in one tomato, one potato and a bit of some other vegetable into my blue bag. i carried the bag with the greatest care, skipping over the rotting brinjals on the ground, staring round eyed at the string of shops that lined the market. bright bangles of every colour, loofahs, rangoli powders, fluffy candies and sweets were stacked in amazing tessellations.
my nose would inform me that we had reached the fish bazaar part of the market. dark women with kohl rimmed eyes squatted on their haunches, their jaws working a slow, grinding movement, as they chewed on betel leaves, a faint trace of spittle beginning to run down their chins, their skin speckled with fish scales.they would squawk, screech or smile beguilingly while they struck a bargain.
an expert twist of the fingers and the coins would be dropped into a pouchtucked in the waist, the notes found a much more snug and inaccessible place, in a clever little pocket stitched into their blouses which could just about contain their bosoms. appa would have to tug gently at my hand to get me walking again, i could hardly take my eyes off all the fish that thrashed about, glassy eyed in the big, shallow, aluminum pans. the high point of this weekly trip was the stop at the candy shop; a ramshackle tin shack that housed my heart’s delights. big glass jars stuffed with pink, red and orange sweets and brown sticky churan balls.my favorite was the hojmi ghuri; a spicy, sweet and sour treat, a bit like hajmola, only softer, squishier and infinitely better. everyone has a different way of eating hojmi ghuri. some stuffed their mouths with it and chewed slowly, some nibbled at it. i first pressed the hojmi ghuri into a flat one rupee size disc on the palm of my hand. it had to be done right, there was a science to this. right in the middle of the palm, not too thin a layer and not too thick. then i would lick my palm. the longer you could make it last the better it got.
i often dream of calcutta. in these dreams, i am running and skipping, the wind in my hair. i can almost feel the earth beneath my feet and see the fireflies.
rise and smile sunshine!!
there are two kinds of people… the kind that wakes up at the first traces of orange in the sky and with a dreamy smile and says, “ah, here’s a new day!”, and buzzes about in an annoyingly, cheerful manner, brushing their teeth and zipping around the house (i subscribe to this type, anyone with a problem with this can leave the building).and then there is the other kind… these are the creatures of the dark. this kind floats around the day like a battered zombie, scowling at any traces of chirpy-early-morning-joy. these creatures come to life in a ‘vampirish’ sort of way, when the orange vapor lamps flicker to life, and all traces of the flaming orb ebb and die (the husband subscribes to this type).i am on my second cup of coffee, the plants have been watered, the clothes folded and put away, the dishes sorted and put back and the husband stirs grudgingly and manages to drag himself out of bed… and after blinking at me three times, standing at the doorway… goes and sits on the computer to play football!the first few times that this happened, i found this endearing (i can explain this)… with the hazy, muddled brains of a newly married, (not) blushing bride, i supplied the husband with chai, breakfast, just about falling short of matching his socks and undies to his shirt and laying them out in neat rows.quite like in bollywood of the 80’s, remember? husband has to go to office, his shirt button pops out in the very last minute, and the wife stitches it for him while he is still wearing it (isn’t that dangerous?), there are no scissors around of course, so she leans up, all hot and flushed and bites (bites?!) the thread off, the husband is all steamy and horny and draws her closer, cut to flowers and bees and camera going round and round in mad, rabid circles, music reaching atinkly crescendo!today, after two months into wifedom, my reactions are not so syrupy. when the husband shows any inclination of virtual-kicking-around-of-the-ball for a minute too long (see, i let him do this for some time, i am reasonable), i get all bristly and cold, i can feel a slow, murderous rage seeping into my otherwise meek soul.i feel like a pressure cooker with a mission.at first, i sniff and do this whole raised-eyebrows-disapproving-pout-thing, then i bang the vessels around in the kitchen a little louder than necessary, when even this does not work, i zip around within his cone of vision, wearing a tired expression, muttering about how its such a bitch that it is a mans world and what i think should be done to all the little penises who grow up thinking the world’s about foot massages and blow jobs… usually this evokes a reaction.these days, i see even this does not… sigh…what are all these delusional idiots talking about on shaadi.com? “he should be decent, shave six times a day, his pockets should bulge with (of all things, this is such a poor choice) crisp notes, he should have a corpulent bank account (two or three swiss bank accounts are welcome), should smear vibuthi on his forehead and pay obeisance to 102 gods…”,you poor bastards (and i cringe to address us women like this, but sometimes these things have to be done for larger good)!this is what you need to figure… which of you subscribes to which cycle, is it diurnal or nocturnal? who is the pig and who is the obsessive compulsive cleanliness freak? who’s the lazy lump and who is the sugar-crazed hyperactive blur?you get this right… and it wont even matter if you climax only annually.so here's the latest strategy. i have several depending on which day of the week it is.on some days, i move sinuously around the husband and wear my best 'garbo-esque' seductive whisper,"sweetheart, (pause... let him take this in...i play with his hair), will you please do the dishes, baby?" (believe it or not, this works ladies)on other days i simply holler. no, no, no. not a full throated, chest-thumping holler, a whiny-drippy-grating holler, the kind that detaches asses from computers.if this stops working (i have worked this out), i am going to walk upto the fridge, take out a bottle of cold water and pour it down the CPU and the husband. everyday.
Posted by Kavita Arvind at 9:41 AM 3 comments
Wednesday, June 6, 2007
my blind spot looks like this
i dodge the blast from the air conditioner and blink.blink.my cone of vision includes a hulking computer, about a foot from my nose; a black push button phone which has a shrill, stinging, persistent tone when it rings;the prominent color i see is a corporate, standard, blue; the saw-dust-hay-board-like cubicle separators block all else.if i twist my neck or for more ergonomic reasons, swivel my chair all around, I spot the first evidence of any human life.I work for a corporate oganisation (what was i thinking?!).the concept of creative freedom still lies undiscovered around these parts. the cubicles are positioned carefully in a way that human interaction is minimum. most of my colleagues prefer to type a long message on skype, when a conversation would only take three steps, or may be just a phone call! the others stuff headphones into their ears, retreating further into their own individual islands… thats what this is, a sweatshop of spatulate fingered, socially inadept creatures!struggling feebly to add a dash of color, sit my green bottle, red mat, my thesaurus, dictionary and four photographs pinned to the tiny dash of a blue soft board (a corporate, standard,blue of course).the photographs are a gift from a friend from his trip to italy.strange, painted faces, green, dark, mysterious alleyways and blurry lines of movement stare back at me. i stay put. ironic.venetian blinds cover the large windows. i can see through the slits that it has begun to rain. the smell of wet earth dares to seep in through the concrete and glass.not too many people take notice.i can feel the mould of indifference creeping into my skin as well, turning it mottled and grey. why am i here exactly? i just floated in here is the only answer i have… i like to think that this part of the doddering trajectory that my professional life has taken will onlylead me somewhere.what scares me the most is that i am beginning to get numb to the deep freeze impersonality of the work culture here! this is turning into a blind spot!i bring myself to work, do as well as I can, and when its done i take myself home.i miss the raw energy and verve of a debate in class, and the twinkle in the eyes of my students when an idea strikes home or a thought makes sense.I miss the countless questions that leave me feeling dizzy and totally inadequate and ignorant.i miss looking at young faces, hearing snippets of ridiculous conversations about growing up, the opposite sex or heated discussions about work, design… life!i need to put my soul into my work. i need to feel my faculties bend and my knees give, i need to feel inadequate, challenged, exhilarated.my work has to have a strong sense of meaning and purpose, a notion that it contributes to some larger good (way beyond teaching english to an oily, chauvinistic arab).what remains to be seen is whether i have the courage to do this?whether i am willing to find out if i am any good or just empty words?i am going to change this...
Posted by Kavita Arvind at 6:06 PM 0 comments
the rubberband of nothingness
i want to write and illustrate that book, but i havent touched my sketchbook. i want to learn to drive, but i havent taken my ass over to the driving school. i want to swim, go out more often, work out, get more plants, meditate, learn to bake... and all i am doing really is floating in a haze from one day to another with these vague notions of purpose.and by listening to the quiet, listless, unease around me, i realise i am not the lone woman here...she wants to leave her husband, but just cannot walk out of that door; she has been looking for love, but will just not get out there and meet anyone new; she wants to leave her job and paint and draw, but like mine, her brushes stay untouched...i read somewhere that the opposite of action is not inaction, but waiting.should i engage myself in the flattering thought that i am merely waiting, biding my time, marshalling my forces, until there is this burst of creative energy and some tangible output?"... i keep busy, yes, i squeeze in my writing here and there, why i wrote two poems last year, yes, and finished one painting and part of another over the last eighteen months, yes, the house, the kids, the husband, the boyfriend, the cat, the toddler, need my consummate attention. i am going to get around it, i dont have the money, i dont have the time, i cant find the time, i cant make the time, i cant start until i have the most expensive instruments or experiences, i just dont feel like it right now, the mood is not right yet. i just need at least a day's worth of time to get it done, i just, i just, i just...", writes clarissa pinkola estes in women who run with wolves, as she talks about why we shackle ourselves in the rut of inaction and slow despair (this book has helped my soul heal when the wreckage seemed beyond repair).how does one negotiate this?the practical 'lets-repair-this' person in me wants to jump in and roll up her sleeves and fix it and get it working. but i also realise that its more tricky than that.things happen when they do and there is really no rushing them... but to start with, i guess just being aware that this listlessness exists and wanting to make some meaning of our lives should be a catalyst enough...something's got to give!inaction cannot possibly stretch like an indestructible rubber band and snuff the life out of us... surely, it would snap!meanwhile, i am going to get up everyday and go for a run, maybe i will even find my pack of wolves once again.
Posted by Kavita Arvind at 7:29 AM 1 comments
Tuesday, June 5, 2007
screaming demons and beans
the sweet sick smell of weed floated in the air. jammed against a rush of bodies all swaying and head banging, i tottered on the one square foot space that cost me a cool 1800 bucks, ducking elbows and sweaty armpits.i had accompanied the husband to the aerosmith concert.this kind of music, i dont understand... there! i have said it! i dont care if shocked silence and supercilicious looks of oh-you-are-that-type greet me.i dont dig the screaming demon and i dont care for his cherokee charms!well, what would you expect? i grew up in a middle class family that woke up to the casette player or radio playing lata mangeshkar crooning sweet things. later what i heard was largely dictated by my big bully of a brother who monopolised our casette player.so here i was, totally sober, looking around at a large body of people (and as luck would have it, tall people) rocking away and screaming the lyrics along with tyler with an enthusiasm that was equalled by the husband, who while he protectively lurked behind me, sang with gusto.at some point, he leaned from the stratosphere and noticed that i stood rock still, hands folded, near his toes, silent, and said,"dont you know the lyrics of these songs?".Now when husbands of a marriage that is only two months old ask such soul searching questions, its a bit of a jam really. i squeaked in a sheepish manner that i did not, cursing lata mangeshkar and all her clan under my breath.the trip to bangalore had two firsts... my first ever rock concert (something tells me that its going to be my last as well) and the first ever criminal act that i ever committed.now, though i dont head bang, i do smoke. and there was no way i was going to throw away a full pack of cigarettes because they were not allowed at the concert venue.the solution offered by our friend was to tuck it in the remote recesses of my undergarments.now, the friend in question closely resembles a mafia road roller if one ever existed. i dont think anyone's ever going to body search him, and even if someone did and found suspicious things, if he flicked his eyebrows at them, they'd probably pale and shrivel away.so i tucked the pack into the back of my jeans and pulled my top over it in a gesture which i hoped would only look demure.imagine the panic that flushed over me as the security personnel seperated the women from the line and herded them into a seperate line. this meant only one thing... a thorough body search! PANIC!my honest little heart blanched and did triple somersaults as my turn came closer.i watched with rising anxiety as the women in front of me were searched all over.this was auschwitz!i wore an expression of deliberate calm and poise that would have put maharani gayatri devi and her diamonds to shame. my heart was pounding and visions of how embarassing this could get clouded my head...my turn came, she groped me, searched me and missed the pack entirely... at the next entry check, this happened all over again...i have two different rationales as to why this happened...a) i make a fine actressb) i have a very large assi think i will lean towards option a.
Posted by Kavita Arvind at 5:15 PM 1 comments
Friday, June 1, 2007
in a moment of sheer recklessness and in a desperate attempt to tame medusa the bitch i went and bought an alice band. 'alice band' (let me show off my wikipedia skills here) is a hairband! called so after alice of the lewis caroll fame wore one... for the less enlightened, yep, (fervent apologies for this example) the kind that abhishek bachhan sports... these were the coolest things to wear when i was in school. fancy polka dotted ones, fat, fabric bands with gay, flower prints and the plasticky red ones that snapped easily.back in school (the god forsaken semi marathi medium school that i went to in bombay) these were banned! and our teachers, to make up for the lack of orgasms in their celibate, spinster lives, made up about 73 rules just about... HAIR! How long it should be so it could be coerced into two oily plaits with black, bow like ribbon knots, pony tails were not allowed... like a pony tail was some sex appeal beacon; no clips were allowed, our ugly blue pinafores had to stretch to our toes, we couldnt roll up our socks and when we walked in a line, we had to demurely look down and fold our hands behind our back!so much for my pristine school years and childhood, i still turned out like this!so going back to the alice band that sits precariously on my head, making me look like some juvenile delinquent with a bad hair day... i realise these things dont work. medusa the bitch snarls back at me and goads her snakes to run further amuck, the hair shampoo advertisements weave a silken web of sinister deceit and sell yet another bottle of 'mirror-shine-cascade-sheath' shampoo for that sucker with string beans for hair... sigh... maybe i should bury the brushes and grow me some deadlocks.
Posted by Kavita Arvind at 6:13 PM 0 comments