damn this rhyme
here's a reason why i should stick to prose and not attempt any poetry. there must be a deep, intuitive reason why my parents named me what they did...by virtue of some weird pavlovian conditioning... 'portry, pomes' and i dont stick...
sigh apologies for this pipsqueak juvenile attempt. blush.
be gentle my friends!
i am so bored i could throw a fit
looking at the calendar isn't helping a bit
each day crawls by annoyingly slow and deliberate
like the after taste of something nasty i ate
i twiddle my toes and sit and stare
but the day just hems and haws with scarcely a care
i try and give it a prod and a poke
hoping to jostle and rush the poor unsuspecting bloke
the day is as stubborn as a boulderand gives me an icy shoulder
the clocks, the tv, are all in this as wellthe cat, the stars, the moon and the doorbell
that line is just so completely arbit
i think i am going to have that fit
you know you are most comfortable with someone, when you can lift your behind and break wind noisily right under that person's nose.
9 yards in a straight jacket
i don’t like sarees.ok. let me explain this further. i like sarees, but i don’t like wearing one.
if i wear one for twenty minutes, i become quickly exasperated. if i have to wear one for the better half of the day, i will indiscriminately bite any heads in the vicinity off and have them with some “fava beans and a nice chianti”.
of course it is a beautiful garment. in fact it is absolutely ingenuous. and we women look gorgeous in it. there’s no debate about that. it’s just not for me. i don’t know how to drape one. i don’t know how to walk in one. and i feel clumsy and stiff, like a trussed up stuffed goose in one.
you can imagine what a pretty picture i must have looked at my wedding.
as soon as possible i am going to dig a deep hole and bury my wedding album in it. in all the pictures, the husband is looking dapper and dashing in his suit, while i look frumpy, fat and frazzled, swathed in some gauzy, shimmery, slinky number. where is this tirade coming from you may wonder? well, all the ladieslog at work have a big thing for sarees. a couple of days back, varying means of gentle persuasion was used to try and convince me to wear one for raksha bandhan… so i wore a salwar-kameez-dupatta. this is the best i could do to continue to retain my near angelic disposition (why exactly are you smirking? yes. i mean you).
the ladieslog in my office are enthu cutlets when it comes to sashaying in sarees. any occasion and the rustle of silks and tinkling of bangles are done with alacrity.
i growled at r, when a feeble attempt was made to drape me in one, a month back. the office was doing some cultural day thingie.“i don’t have to wear a ******* saree to prove i am patriotic/indian or that i belong to/or even have any culture”, i yelled menacingly and went and wore my frayed jeans and dirty t-shirt to work.
i think the problem lies deeper. i figured it out. any form of organized group behavior gets me running in the other direction. i like people to think i am a genial soul who likes to belong, but detest any display of group behavior… some anomaly there must be in my head. either ways. them 9 yards?
they are not for me. if i could help it i would live in my old jeans and floppy t-shirt 24/7.
38 cardboard boxes
i have decided that snails have it much better. they can ooze about without a care, carrying their spiral homes snug on their backs. no baggage. no worries.
we humans on the other hand manage to fill our homes with scores and scores of things.
i understand the meaning of the word 'stuff' in its fullest sense now.
stuff is tons of indescribable, unclassifiable things that follows you around stuffed in cardboard boxes unto eternity.i wonder why we cant just do with memories... why does it have to be corroborated with stuff?
we are such rotten romantics at heart and like the silly bower birds we pile our lives with debris and tinsel from the past, holding on fast to faded pictures and jaded moments. we live lives as if we were eternal. perhaps there is no other way. we amass material things while our emotional quotient runs dry. we buy, consume, build and hoard in such a frenzy.
i remember the time when all my belongings would fit into two steel trunks and a suitcase. now i need a truck and a quarter. come vacations and we would empty our rooms in the hostel, roll up the mattress and label our trunks and drag them into the box rooms.
sometimes, on hot, lazy summer afternoons, the musty, thick smell of the box rooms comes seeping back to me. and the feeling it brings is difficult to describe.
it reminds me of empty corridors and muffled sounds. i can feel the sun scorching my skin again and hear vague footsteps and distant laughter. i was wondering why this memory is not happy. why does this particular memory make my head and heart feel heavy?
v and r both remember this smell and it fills them with the same unease too. i think it is because it reminds us of times, when in spite of the vigor and optimism of youth, we were unsure of what was coming next. or maybe it reminds us of the vitality that we had then and how hopeful we were, of how much we had to look forward to, our lives were only just beginning.
it reminds us perhaps, that we are now more fragile.
i like the way celine puts it in before sunrise, “i had this funny… well, horrible dream the other day. i was having this awful nightmare that i was 32, and then i woke up, and i was 23… so relieved… and then i woke up for real and i was 32.” poignant.
it is odd to see your home stripped bare. it looks naked, exposed and vulnerable, words echo and bound off the white walls as if they were seeking to belong. little things that were left for lost turn up in dirty corners, an earring that was removed in haste, a letter that was pressed into the pages of an old book, coins and bits of string, shadows remain where once hung pictures and warm, orange lamps.
it is essential i suppose… cardboard boxes filled with stuff are good things. they bear witness to the fact that you have so much to cherish, that your life has been so full of fondness, of people who have loved you and whom you have loved.
i have changed my mind. snails might not have such a good thing going after all. stuff is good. stuff means that you have indeed lived your life, and now have the courage to look at all that has gone by and say, “yes, this is who i am. the sum total of every moment lived with love and honesty, the flotsam, the weeds and the tinsel... are all mine.”
because we love...
i have been thinking lately of this seemingly innocuous word called ‘love’. a puny runt of a four letter world which assumes gargantuan proportions in our insignificant lives and pretty much cracks the whip and gets us crawling, begging for more. i understand the love that i feel for my parents. that’s easy to explain. it is there. it is. there is no threat to it.
but what about the entire notion of romantic love? here i am stumped. what is it that makes this different? fragile? and so much more alluring? i know you are saying it is the difference that comes with bonds that are forged by blood and bonds that we choose to make.
so what is given to me without having consulted me or my having anything at all to do with it, is more secure and permanent than what i willingly, pick and choose as my own. how the hell does that work? love. the word is so overrated and abused that it hardly ever comes easily to me even now. love. the more i say it, the emptier it rings.
let me try this harder. love. what does it mean when one says, “i love you”? no really. what does it mean? for some it means that “i am so ensconced within you that my every breath, waking and sleeping thought, my sanity, my delusion, the entire fabric of my universe is wrapped around you”. haven’t we all loved like that at least once in our life? i think love like this sucks the life breath out of you, but it is integral to evolving into a better human being. a necessary evil. (lets squeeze the air and the living daylights out of your poor little heart and lungs, so we can make some space for the new, improved you.)
for others it may mean, “i need to know you are well, at peace, living life by terms that are your own, that you are happy”. as simple as that. i admire love like this. it sparkles and skips so lightly and free.
for me, i guess it means that, “i like you so terribly much that i will look out for you as best as i can, i like looking at your face and all the flickers of thoughts that flit over it. i will defend you, yet be your biggest critic, expect the best and not settle for any less from you, the more i love you the more will you make me angry”. but i am drifting here. i was rambling about what this affliction is?
i think most of us confuse love with ownership.
i love it because it is mine.
i love it so it shall be mine.
i love it so it can be no one else’s.
in most cases this is the scenario i find.
i love because i am loved.
i think most of our floundering relationships begin this way. it is so flattering to be admired. somewhere i think we are bumbling little children who go about desperately seeking the assurance, attention and warmth that we found as infants, we go about looking for pseudo-parents in our partners, wishing and hoping that we will be held, hugged and taken care of once again. god knows it is hard to be an adult.
apart from the mysterious life force that wakes us up from the deepest of sleep every morning, love, is the only other fuel that keeps us alive. and i don’t mean this in a mushy sense at all.
we might bask in it or be cantankerous about it, be elated and smile at nothing in particular or be weighed down by sorrow and shun everyone else… we live, breathe, weep, puke, skip, dance, kill, seduce, conspire, dream, hope, falter, play, sing… because we love.
it is done. adieu to pune!
sometimes life gives you a well placed shove in the butt when you’ve gotten all cushy and quiet! might be a damn good thing too. new beginnings are always so exciting and intimidating all mushed together. while i am totally frazzled, and have made three long lists of all the things that i need to do, and thrown about six separate, elaborate temper tantrums and wailed and bawled about how i don’t really want things to change, i am now looking forward to this!
i am beginning to like the feeling of looking at the unknown. there is a nice, giddy smell of freshly baked promise floating around in the air.a very short acquaintance this was with pune.
the things that i will miss:
amma and appa of course. was nice having them in such close proximity.
R. terribly. what am i going to do without her? who’s going to make hot fluffy dosas and thenga chutney for her?
my adorable nutcases T and A; and all their clowning. aww.
S and all her plans of picnics in tekdis.
my plants. i have to give them away…yet again.
good luck café, keema pav and bread pudding.
my list runs out here.what about the things i will not miss? let’s try that.
pune. least of all the plebian baner gaon that i live in.
my job! ha! it’s true! how liberating! no more blue and false straw-like mdf partitions and puneri marathis gibbering about dhoodhals, RLIs and LCs.
autowallah thugs and their, “half return lagega”, go sod off you saffron chaddis.
this list runs out here too.
now that i have put it down this way… looks like it’s a good deal i am giving pune the ditch. here’s to fresh starts and long winding roads and secret gates!
the first witch
the first witch.
she is dark skinned and wide eyed. she is beautiful, but in a rather rustic way. earthy. that would be an appropriate word for her.
she has a rather strange laugh, it begins as a giggle and then stutters and dances and sputters in a long burst like a stubborn motor than refuses to start.
she wears the strangest of clothes. a huge diaphanous short kurta, draw string pyjamas, a bandana, flip-flops, dangly ear rings and a long jhola bag.
she likes to eat with her hands. she likes the smell of wet earth. she collects the strangest of junk, bits and pieces of metal, mirrors, sequins, fabric and puts them all together to create unimaginably beautiful pieces of art.
she has the strength and stubborness of ten mules. she is exasperating, annoying and listens to nobody. she would have made a happy gypsy.
the first witch wants to be a free soul, but she spins a tangled web instead.
she likes the rain and the fresh, clean smell of wet earth, but she wades through murky, deep, dark waters instead.
with every step she takes, the first witch reaches a little closer to the precipice.
it is my turn to stir the spluttering cauldron.i turn for just one minute.
when i look back, i see her gone.
a chair for freedom
i hate it when people say, "happy independence day", with their faces all cheery.
i can never think of an appropriate response, so i mumble something unintelligible and flash a rather forced smile back. whats so cheery about this day? i dont get it.
no country can be truly independent unless its people feel unfettered and free.
what has independence got to do with the countless women who carry water from the well thrice a day, carry 40 kgs of firewood home to be able to stoke the chulah and cook a meal, work in the fields, bathe and feed their children... and yet not be allowed to sit on a khatlo or even a chair, because only men have the right and the place to do so?
why am i talking about the villages?
my own neighbour, has built an ugly grill prison on his front door and the balcony, his wife is not allowed to keep a servant, she is not allowed to go out of the house without him, and on the days when she has her period, she cannot enter the kitchen.
i have seen her once or twice, she has two boys (i shudder to think what he would do if they were daughters), the children drive her nuts with their bawling. if i smile at her, she smiles back hurriedly and shuts her door at once.
she keeps a servant, but her husband doesnt know about it. the day he finds out, i dont think he would flinch before he struck her. and all of this is permissible and condoned in our free country.
i remember a small gathering that i had attended. about 30 women or so had come to the ahmedabad city center from nearby villages. we had arranged chairs all around the hall. i sat by at a corner listening as the women chatted and sang songs.
one of the women, kirtiben, was about 30 years old, but looked close to 50. years of childbearing, work at home and the fields had aged her. she stroked the arms of the white plastic chair, looked around and smiled, "i love sitting on this chair, it feels good".
i will never forget the expression on her face.happy independence day? what a laugh!?
freedom is a very personal word. it means different things to different people.
a chair for kirtiben, finding the strength to walk out of an abusive and failed marriage for v, a few minutes of rest stolen from a day of endless chores for my neighbour's wife...
for me, it is the courage to be rid of social mores and notions of stability, success and the 'right thing to do' and find meaning and consequence in what i do.
individual freedom.freedom from fear of failure and loss.
freedom from the shackles of roles and stereotypes.
freedom to seek newer roads and not necessarily arrive.
freedom to be.
old scars in new dressings
i happened to flip through the pages of an old book, in which i wrote bits and scraps, which spans about 8 years. i realise that i have not changed all that much.
i am not sure if people change at all. at the very core, we remain intact. we react in pretty much the same ways to situations and people. we repeat the same mistakes.
'if you make a mistake once, you will make it again, if you make the same mistake twice, you are sure to make it a third time', i remember this rather ominous line that i read somewhere!
so essentially, though we may acquire some battle scars, lose a limb or heart, the way we are built, our core values remain the same.
we even use the same words, ask the same questions, wander about the same mazes. it is uncanny... maybe each of us is born with our own individual bunch of questions and the purpose of our entire lives is to blunder about trying to find answers to these unique, individual bunch of questions. "when will i find true love?"...
"what is my purpose?".... "why did that apple fall down to earth?"... "when will i be rich?"... "do aliens exist?"... or whatever.
in all this fumbling about mazes, nursing sore hearts or big dreams, we grow more wrinkles and spots, grow a thicker skin or just learn to hide our vulnerability better. but there never is a clean slate, is there?
unsullied, unprejudiced, unburdened. how long back was it that you felt that way?
i found some stuff i had written 5 years ago, on my way to work, in the andheri, fast local... they sum up how i feel even today.
if my bags were packed,
and the road beneath my feet, stretched on endlessly...
if i could stop for a moment, freeze this endless chase of trains, people and time,
i would like to feel the brush of grass beneath my back
look at the clouds that float so listlessly.
if there were no purpose, no trains to catch,
no destinations to arrive at,i would like to breathe...
if there was no fear, no memories of hurt,
if my heart was tranquil and my mind clear of the prejudices of the past,
i would like to love.
blob diary/ days six & seven
except for the minutest (entirely negligible) bit of cheating, i stuck to the diet.
with shaking limbs i tried on a pair of old jeans and a top that i used to ooze out of... and they fit! yippee! now the trouble is, how the hell am i going to keep the scales steadily stuck where they are? but what the heck! lets think about that tomorrow!
the first thing i am going to do is to get me some nice, luscious, sinful tiramisu...
ha! got you there!
and now finally i can stop writing the silly blob diaries and move on to other things of consequence.
for a raindrop
while i sit cloistered in this glass and concrete trap of earning my living, and hitch the mantle of adulthood, the air conditioner spews some more stale, moist air... and it rains outside.
the streets are washed clean and shimmery; and the leaves are a bright green. i can hear the urgent taps of the raindrops on the slide-shut-one way windows, it seems as if they were beckoning me.
what are the things i would rather be doing right now?
take a ride down to some reeky chai adda and have hot adrak chai with onion bhajiyas.
curl up in bed with a book and watch the curtains billow with the wind and feel the spray of raindrops on my face.
sit on the swing and let my bare feet feel the wet, fresh grass.
stand in the balcony and watch the world as it scurries by in bright raincoats, windcheaters and shoes.
float yellow paper boats in that muddy puddle.
sip a large mug of filter coffee and stare at nothing in particular.
listen to old songs and lie sprawled on the floor in the drawing room.
adulthood is the most terribly monotonous, tenuous, drab, overrated, constipated thing imaginable.
why do we grow up? and which moron invented jobs? and why should some printed paper dictate my life!?
and all those rainy day essays that we wrote in school?... lets bunch them up and burn them.
blob diary/days three, four and five
its been a totally lovely weekend!
r and i watched all our favorite films!
khatta meetha, choti si baat, rajnigandha, agantuk! lazed about, chatted our heads off, lolled about aimlessly, did some window shopping, strolled over to ccd in the evenings and sat sipping espresso shots, looking at the traffic and all the people.
the husband's away and these few days of good old 'singledom' have been pretty okay.
i get to watch all my favorite shows on travel and living with no interruptions of espn!
no fights over the remote!
all the rights angles at home are intact! not bad eh?
the diet's coming along rather brilliantly... i feel snug in my overly tight jeans today! yippee!
the scales dangle some exciting promises indeed.
day three was a veggie and fruit day which went very well.
day four was just bananas and milk and soup... i learnt to make some really nice soup and doled out large quantities to both r and myself (r's not one bit inspired by my abstinence and munches all the yummy chicken sandwiches and fried stuff right under my nose!
she does offer me a really tiny bit of every munchum she digs into, which is rather sweet.)
today is the day of tomatoes and rice.
now i am cheating a bit. i have made some tomato and onion subji which can be eaten with rice.
being a south indian i have a huge thing for rice. so i am a rather happy soul today with the only dampener being that it is a monday and the week's begun all over again...
blob diary/day two
all of yesterday evening i have been fantasizing about the boiled potato that i was to have for breakfast today... that is the sorry state of affairs and i have fruit coming out of my ears... yuk!out of sheer desperation, just to get the sickeningly sweet taste out of my system, i ate a spoonful of salt (and a tiny spoon of spicy sev, ssshhhh!).
i woke up early. fished around for a potato. found one unsuspecting little fellow and dunked him to boil! i love them aloos! can anyone put a number on the things that can be made with this rather nondescript looking thing? would be easier to do ballet.
just imagine... from hash browns to vodka!! all from aloos?!
visions of aloo chaat and fries dipped in mayonnaise whirled around in my head as i waited for the aloo to boil. i picked up the newspaper and read about dutt and the details of the state of the toilets and the items on the menu for the prisoners' daily meals.
if i ever committed felony and went to prison, or was captured by jehadis or aliens, or got lost in the amazon; my brain rationalised, it would be much, much worse.
so duly chastened i ate the aloo with the gusto of a recently liberated inmate of treblinka.
but hey! i feel good(can you hear james brown? thats how good!).
lunch is ready and cooling off in the fridge! tons of veggies all cut up and tossed with salt and pepper! this i can handle! this is cheesecake! (now why did i use that term?! eeps...
tremble...nice, soft, lemon cheesecake that melts in your mouth, the kind that you get at cafe churchill in colaba...). sniff.
blob diary/day one
two unprecedented events of collosal proportions took place today!
i am on a diet (applause)... thank you (unprecedented event number one, this).
so today, which is day one, is eating-only-fruits-day... and i hate fruits from the depths of my paunch!
now for the unprecedented event number two... i got up at 7 in the morning and went to buy... fruit!now, if you know me, you would know about my strained relationship with fruit.
i would eat one, if it is forced down my throat. sigh.
me and r piled into a rick and went to the fruit market. i stood their looking terribly lost...see... fruit and i... we dont have it going.
r did all the expert poking around at the fruit and choosing the right ones. i came back home with a huge bag piled with the damn thing! on my way back i got whiffs of hot, spicy anda bhurji, fluffy poha and greasy bhajiyas being made in the roadside stalls... i looked steadily at the bag of fruit and summoned all my powers of discipline and strength.
so breakfast was fruit...lunch will be fruit...dinner will be... (brilliant!) fruit.
hey? didnt phantom do this? remember amar chitra katha's illustrations? phantom and diana and a couple of pygmies all sitting around eating fruit and the line at the bottom: the ghost who walks, a vegetarian, eats only fruit.
(if i say fruit one more time, i am going to gag) so, now r is being really nice and is sending me delectable pictures of food by mail every quarter of an hour. if i could just kill the woman! she says it will build my will power and will be a true test of my moral fibre.
yipes! did i just smell '.....'? somebody in office is eating an orange... gurgle.
mornings with kate moss
"wake up! go for a run! get up!"
"huh? what? do i have to?"
"yes! you are fat! get up!"
"i like being fat! besides whats the point? i am 30 and it is biologically okay to be fat at 30. i need to sleep! get off my back alright?"
"move your fat ass NOW!"
"shut up bitch! its just a bit of cellulite and its not all that bad, let me just sleep okay?"
"you are going to hate yourself in just one hour! just you see! grow 3 double chins and 3 more tires!"
"listen kate moss, get the hell out of here."
"i cant do that unless you run! somebody helllppp! get me out of here! i am trapped in this whale blubber balloon"
"let me break this to you gently... you are succumbing to the pressures of media, men, and all the stereotypical, highly regressive ways of thinking. cant you see?? these notions of sexy and hot and beautiful are male constructs that do us women in?!"
"uh huh? you have a waist of 32 and you can swap clothes with the husband... get that miss.beauvoir?"
sigh... these are my morning conversations with my alter ego... somebody go and shoot all these flat stomached, gorgeous, pre-pubescent chicklets please and clear the air and let the jiggly-wigglies in??!
kate moss... go eat an ice-cream.