Thursday, March 31, 2011

Horrors of Shopping in Bangalore

That Saturday I had woken up in a great mood. My happy face further lighted up on seeing my bank SMS showing considerable moolah was credited into my account. I decided to pre-pone my beauty and spa appointments. From 10 till 3, I relaxed at Nainesh's (bless him - I still feel the friends to whom I have passed on his number, ought to pay me Lifetime Tax fo giving them such a great hairdresser). Then to show off my newly manicured and pedicured parts, flawless face and hair, hairless limbs, I hit upon the idea of shopping for some casual stuff.

So there I was, shopping at Bangalore Central on a weekend and instantly regretting it. In Bangalore, typically,  the weekends are when you must always avoid shopping.  Why? Because on weekends (especially Saturdays), the mall will be spilling over with many groups of people. The most common are :

1) The Local Nuclear-Family-Tourist - these are the families that live in areas like Viveknagar or such places (somehow it was ideal that we Koramangala walas felt they were beneath us) apart from other squalid areas, and come decked up in their only one glittery cheap polyester or synthetic sari or only pair of Brown striped Pants with Floral Shirts. Since they have never get the chance to mix with the 'Posh' people, they love to come on Saturdays. Usually found in threes - mother, father, child - u can hear them trying on all the perfumes on display.

2) The Softies - these are the IT people in their just-woken-up bed look/attire. Every time I pass by one of these specimens, I stop breathing. Scared that their unkempt beards and hair might be hiding crabs. Or their stubbly chins may fail to shut their mouths stinking after downing umpteen number of beers the previous night. Actually they do not have any of the nasty smells or sights mentioned here, but it is just psychological.

3) The Joint Village family - these include a whole horde of family members descending from the outer realms of Space, with no idea of 'Space'. They tow along at least five bawling, shrieking, screaming, running, over-excited scums for children who pull stranger's purses, bags, skirts, shorts, mobile pouches while their parents look on nonchalant. The leader of this group is usually a male in some Rajnikanth hairdo, introducing them to the Eighth Wonder of the World, namely the escalator.

4) The Couples - these are usually newly-weds or committed couples. Many times both of them will be from some Godforsaken little town of South India, acting like they have been born and brought up in Bangalore. They will keep looking at all the Home Stop stuff , check out the price tags stealthily and keep the items back on the shelf.  Either or both of them would have come to Bangalore wearing clothes from the previous century. The gal would have had long hair with jasmine flowers, aunty style salwar kameezes, but is now civilized and wearing capris. These couples are the ones you see going out at 8 pm to the nearest park. They have meticulously planned how to spend each rupee between them and probably save their 'Going out' money in a clay piggy bank. They carry around a cheap camera (their first experience of a digital cam) and take pics of each other eating Chinese food or a new flavor of coffee.

5) The Photo-Studios - these could be bunches of the categories mentioned above who will pose in front of shops like 'Nike, Adidas, M&S making sure that the names/entrances of these shops are included in the pcitures. They also like the special decorations that any mall puts up on Christmas, Diwali, Dussehra and take pictures in all styles and poses possible.

6) The Bubble-gum gang - these are usually groups of tweeny-boppers and teenagers chewing gum non-stop, wearing cool, posh clothes, talking in Accented English. the gals wear cute skirts and the guys wears their denim really really low. I am always tempted to run after them and pull up their jeans for fear that it will slide off anytime and I will be witness to a non-existent, puny hairy bum.

7) The Scowlers - these are serious people who have come to do some serious shopping but are just fuming at all the categories above spoiling their view of the items or disturbing them when they are battling their inner battles of whether to buy that oh-so-nice product for 6000 bucks or not.....
They finally get fed up and leave the mall, beaten. The weekend are not for them to shop.

Needless to say, I come in the last category, n everything that Nainesh did for me that Saturday, the lovely hair color n the sexy blow dry n the bangs, I ended up with a scowl on my face. Back I go, into my car, roll down the window, take a deep breath and drive towards the nearest Costa to read a book.




Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Growing up with Cricket

One of the most awaited events for Indians, Sri Lankans n Pakistanis (especially these 3!!) took off this February....The Cricket World Cup.


Of course, I did not follow the matches until the QFs, relying on Arjun's information or the random new article or Wikipedia for the results. We already knew the 6 teams that would Definitely reach the QFs....Australia, South Africa, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, New Zealand/West Indies....Days passed by. The men disapperaed INSIDE the TV from 2:30 pm only to emerge out at 10:30 pm when the matches ended. The Streets were deserted leaving us gals free to shop in peace. The pubs were empty unless they were sports bars, which, of course, we avoided.


Then came the double surprises. All the time that we were waiting for the lip-smacking final between India and SA or India and Australia........we find that SA is packing up to go home followed by Australia.  Or maybe, they were not such big surprises after all. I mean for how long would they keep winning? :) So then we sit glued watching the Analysts discussing everything from who should be changed to who should be dropped. We sit glued to  watching the You Tube videos of previous matches of Sri Lanka, India and Pakistan. We sit glued to the laptops finding out the records broken as well as made.


Sri Lanka is sitting smug having drifted into the Finals. While we sit  on a bed of nails, trying to not panic, wondering whether India will win or lose.


I was born in 1982. Its been close to three decades since we won another World Cup. On FB, I gave out dire warnings about the consequences Team India would have to face at my hands, if they came back without the World Cup. 

Kashmir n the World Cup too....??? Ee na cholbe, Ee na cholbe....
 Team India - I take back my words, I'm prepared to wait another 4 years...no, 30 years for the World Cup, Pls just don't lose to Pakistan, for God's sake. The only answer we can give to all the Kasabs that Pak sends out to India is by winning this match, since we cannot have a war......
 The biggest event in India is always a India-Pak match....Roads are deserted, Shops are empty, Business i null n dull, Bonhomie is created around a shared TV set, necks ache after long hours of craning at roadside TVs, absenteeism is high. The govt must declare a National Holiday every time these 2 teams play each other......
To Team India - We don't want u to listen to the 1 billion self-taught cricket coaches of this land shouting advices to u while u play the game, nor give up ur endorsements, we won't believe any malicious gossips about you ever, we promise never to give up worshiping Sachin or weeping copious tears when one of u is bowled out....Please just bring this World Cup home....Four years is too long away to wait..
And everyone else on my friend list was doing the same....Some bolted themselves inside the kitchen declaring that everytime they did so, India won!! Some jumped into a pool n remained there until they were shooed away by the guards. Most bunked office or came home at lunch break. Some like me gnawed my nails only to be dismayed to find that there were no more nails to chew on.  Some like Arjun, ripped out the Sofa covers, declined toilet breaks and created a ruckus. 
Pakistan did show a comparably good effort at taking Indian wickets.  Now India is bowling and there have already been the telltale signs of fumblings, confusion and missed catches on  the field.  Do not know who will win. 
To take the presuure off my mind, I pull into my bag of Stored-Away Reminiscences and narrate incidents from my childhood which were related to cricket.
Throughout my growing years, I have had to deal with cricket. All my neighbors had sons whereas my parents had a daughter and son...I was the only girl-child. It was but natural that my play-mates were boys. While these boys played gilli-danda, cricket, marbles, saptakukdi, I would tag along. Instead of dolls, I had toy-guns and GI-Joes. Instead of playing 'ghar-ghatti' with toy utensils, I would go with this mawali gang to look for bloodied skulls in the local cemetery. There was a tomb that had someone leaving a coconut, some lemons green chillies, kumkum, haldi and ash inside the little alcove. We would speculate that it was probably used for black magic or satanic worship and that he was drinking the blood of a sacrificed animal... We would crouch hidden behind some bushes to wait for the 'worshipper' to arrive. By 7 pm when it started getting dark, we would get scared and run away. 
Mostly the boys played cricket, esp when Team India had some tournament going on.  I was always sent to field. And when the match ended, they would throw some balls at me to keep my mouth shut. One day I created such a ruckus that the boys finally sent me in to bat. At my first shot, the bat missed and slipped from my hands, flying up, up and away. While the others ducked or scrambled for cover, I n my partner took 4 runs....
Then I made some girl friends and Life changed. Yet, every time India played a cricket match, we would all gather at my house. We would all be armed with steel 'thaalis' and spoons and what a din we made at all the fours, sixes, falling wickets!!!
An India-Pakistan match was the ultimate excitement. Every Gujju's fantasy. Whether he was a Hindu or a Muslim. All the rivalry came out in the living rooms. people would greet each other on the treets, while hurrying home to watch the match, and would say, thumping each other on the backs, 'Final bhale haaro, pan Miya ne to haraavjoj"...which in English translates as 'Its alright if we lose the final but we must win against the neighbours'.....If India won we would go around the society shouting, screaming, shrieking in delight. Mothers would shower sweets on children, Dads would give them some money to buy chocolates. You would even get away with playing late into the night. But if we lost, everyone would be sad. The boys would go out and take out their frustration by kicking sand or playing an aggressive game of cricket. For some minutes, the Muslims and the Hindus would try to avoid each other's eyes, but then all too soon, we would start off again as the friendly neighbors that we were before the match started :)
Today as I sit at home, watching this Mighty Battle, with friends reading out bookie SMSes, FB Comments or Likes; as I sit here munching snacks and savories, as I sit here with my eyes on the keyboard but my ears tuned in to the commentary; I miss those simple days. ..those days when Cricket was more than just a game....

Thursday, March 24, 2011

An obsession with weight

Last evening whilst walking downtown, I heard a thick English-accented voice say - 'She is pretty, yeah?' I caught another jolly voice reply - 'Yep, most Indian gals are.'...I don't know if it was me, or some other Indian gal they were talking out. I pretended to myself that they were talking about me, n instantly I felt lighter.
Till then I was sort of in a bad mood. Not a real real bad mood, but you know, the one where grumpiness clouds over all your replies, responses and actions. Why?

Because before getting out, I had discovered that my jeans was a little too tight at the hips. My BF hinted that it could be because I had put on weight. Like a deflated balloon, I shrunk, fizzled out. The excitement at having finally got my eye-shadow blends right instantly evaporated. Immediately I pirouetted in front of the mirror looking this way n that. Yes I did look FATTER, n BIGGER, n OBESE. Though I weigh only about 57 kgs, I felt like one of those Sumo wrestlers, all jiggling flesh n quivering cheeks. My feet dragged as we came out into the sunshine.

All of the time on the Tubes was spent in brooding over what to do to lose weight. Till about a year ago I weighed about 47 kgs. On my 5'4" frame, I used to look anorexic. I used to shop in the mid-teen section. I did know that the ramshackle place I was staying in with its lousy cook had a big hand in helping me keep my zero figure. But then, I moved into a more comfortable place, which had more access to all the shops selling junk food. Tacobell, KFC, Polynation were all right at the street corner. I did put on weight, but not so much that I would be called fat. I was just curvier. Everyone at home was delighted to see me look more human than waif in 28 years. I felt n looked prettier, my hair shined like never before, my skin glowed. I still did get sporadic jabs of self-guilt when my skateboard flat waist grew curves.

Yet today, I that jab felt like a knife twisting into my heart. I was fat. 57 kgs was fat enough. I had to run to the nearest gym. I had to get back into those Levi's 25 sized jeans. I had to get back to 31-24-33......I did not want to be 33-26-37....I wanted to get back into shape.

And then I saw this couple in the train. An African couple. The man was wiry, but the woman was generously spilling out from her seams. Yet she preened for him. She whispered sweet nothings into his ears. She walked and moved with grace. She held her head up high like she was the queen of the ramps. She couldnt get out through the doors, but he gave her his arm to lean on. He adored her, he kissed her often. Was he blind? Could he not see that she was bigger than a truck? Could it be that this woman had blackmailed him into loving her? No, I shook my head at these thoughts, n decided to ignore them.

Outside I stifled my desire to eat Waffles, Belgian cakes, n McD chicken nuggets. Too many calories. That is when I heard the comment. I tried to see if there was any other Indian woman there. But could not scan the crowd properly as it was the Office closing time n there was a huge rush of people, making it difficult to even walk at a consistent speed. Now, perked up, I finally brought my eyes up from my feet to look at no, not Indian women, but Fat women.

Wasn't I surprised? There were many women who looked like I did a year ago - thin, reed-like, ethereal looking. But there were more women who were FATTER than me. Why, there were so many whose seams looked like they would split any moment. And yet these women carried themselves with so much beauty. They dressed in lovely clothes, clipped pretty little accessories onto their hair, wore delicate or chunky jewelery, displayed sexy stilettos. N compared to all these woman, I was beautiful too.....!!!
I was sexier, I was prettier, I was lovelier. Why had I frowned for the whole hour it took us to reach here? Why had my self-confidence dipped low on seeing all the airbrushed models on those hoardings? The glorious zero-cellulite bodies they advertised weren't real!!!! How could I even say I was fat when there were all these women walking on all around me?

I dashed into the nearest KFC outlet n ordered the biggest meal combo they had........Om Nom Nom Nom Nom......Ahh, Bliss :)

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Orthodox Kerala Society

I recently came across a post by Swapna Raghu Sanand on 'Home of Beliefs'.....In it she writes about how some deep-seated orthodox beliefs have acted as stumbling blocks to Kerala's progress.

This is what she writes :

QUOTE
* The only decent career options are to become a doctor, engineer, lawyer,
* Mimicry and comedy is one and the same thing.
* Molesting or misbehaving with women inside a bus is perfectly respectable.
* Men with mustaches are more macho than the rest.
* Men disapprove of girls who visit beauty parlors and of course, none of those girls include their girl friends, wives or sisters.
* Malayali girls who wear jeans? No, no, they just want to attract men.
* A Mallu girl, who wears a ‘bindi,’ looks down at her feet with humility when men are around, and dresses traditionally is a ‘good’ girl.
* If you are a girl and attending a mallu wedding/ engagement/temple/wedding/ceremony/prayer/house warming, deck up in all your gold jewelry so that a prospective mother-in-law from a good family can spot the potential.
* Don’t marry into a family that has inter-caste marriage because your children or grandchildren may be motivated to do the same.
* Marrying a guy from the Gulf is like winning a lottery ticket.
* Don’t marry girls who are nurses, lawyers, air hostesses, or models because they are too much in contact with men who are not related to them.
* Girls who wear make-up, sleeveless clothes and short skirts are not ok to marry though you should go ahead and date them to ‘check’ it out.
* Girls with short hair are not girls, so don’t marry them!
UNQUOTE

I realized that what she put across was completely true.

I am a Malayalee, n my parents say the best thing that has happened to them in Life is that we kids were born n brought up outside Kerala. Thankfully my grandparents are also well-educated and broad-minded, yet there are times when they themselves feel embarrassed esp when there are men on the roads staring, eve-teasing or passing lewd comments at me and even mum.....(n all this when we are wearing normal salwar-kameez)....I fail to understand why, even with a higher female ration, most Malayalee men have to grab their crotches at the sight of a woman, n act so sexually-frustrated.

I also agree with the 'Decent Gal' image everyone wants to cultivate. If a gal keeps her hair loose, it is 'not proper', if a gal has not oiled her hair, it is 'not proper', if a gal wears lipstick n jeans, its 'not proper'. If a gal cuts her hair, its 'not proper'. If a gal laughs out loud, talks loudly, gesticulates or playfully teases her siblings outside, its 'not proper'.

N yes the Gulf Craze, it doesn't matter whether ur husband is cleaning gutters in the Middle east, or a Sheikh's ass, but u must get married to a Gulf-karan...It is another matter entirely, that these men visit their wives once every 2 years, for 15 days, to make them pregnant. Its a miracle their wives are still faithful to them, n can pass any DNA test.

I cant comment on the drinking, coz, mercifully the men in my family neither smoke nor drink...

N before u say 'Oh no, another outsider who doesn't know anything about Kerala', let me say, I'm saying this out of experience of not only mine, but also my friends. I recently went to Kerala with some female friends of mine. Sad to say, we had a horrible time in the local places. When one of my friends asked - What the hell is wrong with the men here? Even school boys are commenting so obscenely....' - I hung my head in shame.

As to the growth of IT, while 10 years old kids are researching the internet to make projects for their schoolwork, most parents in Kerala dont even have a computer at home. If they sit on the computer for some time, surfing the net, unexpectedly coming across social sites, their parents scold them for wasting time....I mean yes, the internet does have its own cons but just because of that, u cannot hold back ur kids from using technology. If they stay back in the same town all their lives its allright, but if they have to venture out to a different state, what then?

What a misfortune that one of the most beautiful places in the world is home to such narrow-minded people. No wonder Kerala still lags behind in many things.
I know some Malayalee women who do not wear nail polish, shampoo their hair, wear a single pleat saree only because they are scared of what the others will talk about.....They have lost their individuality and confidence. What is the harm if u indulge in these 3 things??? And why worry about what people are thinking? Did those people do any favour to you? Do they know of ur struggles and challenges? People will always talk bad behind ur back, so what is the point of getting scared and stopping urself from enjoying simple things in life?

'What will the people say' - is a question that is imprinted in the mind of most Malayalee women, stopping them from leading a humane life.

I do have a lot of very good Malayalee friends but few of them still stick to these beliefs and realize only too late that being broad-minded does not mean wearing a mini-skirt n lipstick...it only means to rise from the crab mentality and be proud of being a woman n acknowledge ur independent entity.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Copy-cats

Wow, everyone I know, is writing blogs. N I read them interestingly..until many of them start looking familiar. Of course I don't recognize the source, but a simple Google search tells me.....Google keeps no secrets. The least these guys can do is acknowledge that they have lifted the stuff or been inspired to write from someplace else. What I'm surprised at is the number of Fools who have no idea of this, n keep praising them...!! Gimme a break, guys!!

A NRV (Non-Regular-Viewer) on Indian Cricket

I guess, we Indians have a knack of being unprofessional...too much of that knack. And of being the greatest boot-lickers around. We are in awe of something so much that we become paranoid at the idea of not having that thing anymore.
Yes, notwithstanding the great achievements, n the fact that Sachin will never have anyone live up to his name, he too has an expiry date. One day Sachin will retire.
I don't understand why many think that Indian Cricket will collapse if Sachin leaves!!! That's ridiculous, so don't we have confidence in our other cricketers? Is it like, "Arrey Sachin retire ho gaya, Chalo, India stop playing cricket."..?

I have edited this post to add below because of all the Sachin fans who weren't happy that I wrote something against him. I had said that in 22 years Sachin has been playing, India has not won the World Cup (which was to be taken as - Sachin alone will not help us get the World cup, we need more good cricketers) to which some idiots said, Sachin is not playing to win the World Cup but for India. Well to them my question is, if India is not playing for the World cup, then what the hell is India playing for? More endorsements?
I respect Sachin; but I'm just tired of having to read about him everywhere. There are so many times when he does get out without scoring a single run. But no, he never receives the flak. Why do we pamper our heroes so much? Thank God, he is a humble person, otherwise imagine if he turned out to be someone always needing to be molly-coddled before a match. I guess I have just got an overdose of Sachin everywhere. Yes, he is the greatest cricketer or almost, in the world. Well if he is 'the GOD of Indian cricket', if he 'alone is enough to represent Indian cricket' like some over-enthusiastic Sachin fan described, then I guess it is time I demand that he bring the World Cup home.
Well, now that is an entirely another matter.....even after being the 'best team out there', 'the tigers', 'the lions' and what not, Team India, with all its Gods and Devils and Turbannators has not managed to win another World Cup...
I don't think I have the patience to wait another three decades for the World Cup to come home.
Team India better win the World Cup this year, with or without Sachin.


P.S. - I can already imagine the number of guys who will jump onto this post and plague me till death. And I also have a fair idea of all the viewpoints I will get. Some will be outright brutal, some will try to gently make me see their viewpoint. But boys, I'm just a gal. Cricket is your game. Leave me to my own devices ;)

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Japan in a London Tube

There we were, hanging in a tube on the Jubilee Line. A Saturday that saw heavy crowds n mad dashes. Everyone was generally in a bad mood, being stuck in at least one person's armpit....n to top it, the Metropolitan Line was not plying due to some construction work.
Right then, in the middle of all the crowd, we hear this booming voice...A young man with a KFC-type red bucket in his hands, entreating everyone to give money to contribute to the Japanese Disaster, via the UK efforts.
Some listened to him, he was very endearingly sincere by the way, some ignored him, some shook their heads, some giggled, yet many dug into their pockets n handed him whatever pennies, pounds they could spare.
He came nearer, to, where this Japanese couple with their baby, was sitting. Seeing them, he somehow felt more enthusiastic n delivered his words more loudly, maybe half-expecting the couple to hug him or cheer him on.

The Japanese couple didn't even look in his direction.

Flabbergasted, he had nothing left to do but flee from the scene.

Couching the Potatoes

Today I finally decided to spend some quality time with my Idiot Box. I had ignored it for so long, that it almost looked like an UFO to me. Brandishing the remote like the Goddess Kali, I plonked myself onto the sofa n switched it on enthusiastically.

The first channel that came on had a reality show...the Laughter Challenge, where Archana Puran Singh keeps laughing hysterically throughout the show(almost as if she is RELEASING Laughing Gas instead of INHALING it). The star guest judge was Mika (yes of the KISSING fame or infamy). I thought he would be apt to judge a comedy show, what with his singing being damned funny(ok, bad joke, so what). Well seems the theme was celebrity-musical-comedy or something. The teams had to, with a celebrity allotted to them, sing and dance to a song of their choice, incorporating it into their act. N surprise, surprise, the first team had Rakhi Sawant, along with the contestants!! She danced beautifully, at least that credit, I will give her. N then the judges beamed, smiled, Archana laughed n howled like a banshee in her usual style, n Rakhi hugged Mika, n forgave him for kissing her, n asked more forgiveness for the fight that had ensued between them, post-kiss. Sheer nonsense. I compared these Indian comedy shows to their foreign counterparts, n am actually revolted by the utter coarseness of our shows. Why does Indian humour have to be so loud, how many films have had the 'fart, loo jokes...?So much for comedy.

I got irritated n changed the channel.

This one had another reality show - India's got talent. A copy of America's got talent. I admire the copycats though. If u r copying, copy 100%. They couldn't copy the judges so they copied the sets, evaluating system perfectly. But what was this? Everytime the contestant showed some real talent, the judges pressed the 'reject' buzzer. They seemed to be content with the ones who contorted their bodies into yogic postures, or juggled balls or blew balloons upto 20 times their body size. N every alternate contestant was hugged n kissed by the judges!!!! Atleast be professional, guys!!!!

No way I was watching this....

A South Indian Channel - Reality dance Show for kids. 2 fat ugly female judges, with a young gay man sandwiched in between. Every kid, was pressed to Big Momma's generous bosom after his performance. The girls were kissed by everyone except their parents. More irksome were the 2 silly teenage girls hosting the show, dressed up in troll-like diaphanous gowns, bridal sarees, pencil skirts(straining to fit over melon hips)!!!! N they started or ended every sentence with the word 'Master' whilst speaking to the judges...as in 'Sudha master(this is Sudha Chandran, one of the judges).....how did u find the performance?' or 'Thank u master'....Not only these two but even the contestants made a habit to preen n crow loudly, 'master'.. 'master'..

By this time, I was looking for aspirin.

And I kept changing the channels. To no luck. All Indian Channels, irrespective of language (yes I was so desperate to see some sane stuff, that I was ready to watch any channel) were beaming similar ridiculous stuff.
Until I stumbled upon UTV Bindass, that is.

Emotional Atyachaar was on.

No prizes for guessing how I found it...

I havent missed a single episode since.... ;)

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Pandora's Box

Disasters waiting to happen
They drop in unexpectedly
They don’t give me time to prepare
Suddenly I am trapped, helpless, stuck
Breathless, panicky, tormented....

Resisting Love

I never looked for love,
Rather it came to me,
Crawling on all fours, begging, pleading to be felt.
It ensnared me, bewitched me, almost killed me.
It hurt me, trampled on me, uplifted me.
It took me by surprise, jolted me out of my senses, blinded me,
drained me, tormented me, left me crippled.
I survived. Here I am, 6 years and still going strong…

Antagonism

Hate is a four-letter word
And I use it often
I hate You
I hate Politicians
I hate this Life
I hate my Job
I hate Hypocrites
I hate this World
I hate my Car
I hate my Friend
Funny How I never said I hate Myself...

Maternal Love

To whom do I owe this fear to?
To you, O Mother, who was afraid of the society’s rantings against an unwed woman?
To whom do I owe this guilt to?
To you O Father, who could not look her in the eye when you said you couldn’t marry her?
Where does this longing come from? Where do these tears trickle from?
Did you never even think of me, Did you not long to feel me tugging at your breast?
Answer me, Mother, when I ask.
Do not just lie there, wild-eyed, with your heart empty of all love.
You did not love your three children, the same way you loved me, why?
What did you feel when you left me out in the cold night, in the Garbage dump?
Did you not think of who would discover me the next day – the dogs or the garbage collectors?
Why didn’t you just strangle me, Wouldn’t that have been easier on your Conscience?
Why don’t you answer , O Mother of mine? What can I do to make you talk to me, cradle me in your arms?
Aren’t 20 stabbings through your heart enough to revive you?
Can’t you feel my bloodied hands beating against your limp, lifeless body?
Answer me, Mother, when I ask.
Do not just lie there, wild-eyed, with your heart empty of all love.....

Friday, March 18, 2011

Idolatry

What fools we are.
We fall in Love,
let our hearts be broken,
let our minds be numbed,
let our desires be unleashed and
we call it Love.
We cherish this one person we have called as 'Ours' and
we anoint him with the pearls of our tears,
the flowers of our prayers and
crown him with our charms.
We turn ourselves into ground-hugging dirty insects,
prostrating at his feet n wiping them with our body.
And yet, how often has Love taught us that not all is 'ours'?
How often have we been hurt by the brutality of this person's gestures,
cut by the sword of his anger?
Yet we crawl on our bellies to honour him,
to proclaim him our God of Love
and place him on the throne of our soul.
Rise Eve, before we are doomed
by this thing inside our minds that we call Love.
The serpent was right,
the garden of Eden would have been ours,
were it not for Adam.

Mumbo-Jumbo

Somehow I do not have the energy to write the remaining part of the latest story 'A Return too late..' ..when I started writing it, I knew exactly how the story would turn out, but now halfway through it, I just cant seem to think of anything suitable. Funny, this is exactly the opposite of what any other writer would do. They would have had the skeleton ready n then proceeded to fill it. Blame it on my impetuous n spontaneous nature, to write something as it comes.
For the same reason that I have never liked listening to recorded music, but radio...I do not want to know what the next song is going to be!!!
Today was another of my I-Love-Dogs day, n pity Arjun for having had to open my messages with cute dog video links in them..Lol..sometimes he is right, when he says, I love dogs more than him..
How can I not love dogs, even the stray ones? Ever since I have been born, we have had dogs at home, even earlier....My whole family going back to about 300 years, must have had dogs to cuddle with everyday of their life...!!!
I know for sure in 2 years, I will have my own pack pf dogs to love ;)
Btw, I'm turning out to be a pretty good cook..something I had always loathed to do was cooking. It was so messy. But I guess Grandma was right when she said, every gal will take to cooking like a fish takes to water. Now I can confidently manage Rice-Daal, Sabjis, even Chicken,,,though sometimes they taste different from the last time due to my love for experimentation with the masalas...I cannot imagine how the West could ever bring themselves to eat such bland food. What is food without the spices of India?
But then they did come looking for our spices hundreds of years ago, where are those spices being used, I wonder..
Back to my trusted chocolate-milk, hoping I do get some ideas to finish that story...

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Ashes to Ashes

       "This Lifetime Achievement Award goes to Dayanandji for his novel -----"
the baritone voice of the speaker cut across the hall, startling awake the said achiever of the honor….
       The author in question was bored to death by the endless item songs, dances, gibs n poor attempts of the hosts to keep the attention of the audience rooted. As everyone who knew him in person turned to see, he contorted his face into a grin n got up from his seat in the second row.
       That such an honor should be bestowed upon him was something he had been proud of, but he expected it to be a typical government affair presided over by white-haired men and women in khaddar sarees and achkans….However he was pleasantly surprised to see that the function was taken over by a bunch of enthusiastic youngsters jostling each other in their efforts to take the spotlight.


       Now as he shuffled across to the podium, his dhoti in the danger of being undone by the various kinds of personal contact being made with the people around him by way of congratulations, the audience clapped and some of his contemporaries even stood up. Embarrassed as usual with such overtures of familiarity, Dayanand touched his chest with his hand and waved to the crowd. Onstage, the presenter handed over the award and then thrusting the mike onto his face, requested him to speak two words…(this being a direct translation of the Hindi phrase – do shabd).
       Having no choice but to do so, Dayanand spoke thus:
       'To all of you seated here, the eminent scholars, critics, writers, poets, n readers….I accept this award with a token of gratitude and heartfelt thanks…However to say that I do not deserve it would be considered an effort on my part to play being humble, yet I insist that this honor is to be given to my soulmate and muse, Urvashi who inspired me, encouraged me to write. To you, Urvi'


       Dayanand paused, shutting his eyes against the glaring lights and clicking shutters, to bring forth from the darkroom of his aged mind, the image of Urvashi. Beautiful Urvi, the goddess of love and desire. He smiled slightly and in a burst of applause and and yet another round of resplendent hugs from the presenter and the hosts, he exited the stage.


       Dayanand wanted to get out of this place, but then the announcement came for the dinner to begin. He was soon surrounded by admirers, fans and well-wishers…not to mention the media-persons with their cameras and mikes thrust into his face for a ‘sound-byte'. they all asked him the same questions - Who was Urvashi? Was she his Love? Were they together now? Why is your wife not here? Does she know of your involvement with Urvashi?'....He shrugged them all away with a smile, leaving them to lead their own conclusions. The Chief Minister came as did the other wannabe politicians, MLAs, MPs. They would not have read a single page of my book, yet they all act like they have written the book, grumpled Dayanad to his secretary Saroj. Other novelists came too, and Dayanand chit-chatted with them about things in general and future works and the state of affairs in the Literary world etcetera.
       Soon he was tired and bored, and with the excitement of meeting Urvi, tearing to eat him up, he put his arm around Saroj’s waist and whispered in her ear..
       ”I am leaving. Manage them in my absence”.
       “Where are you off to? Delhi?” she enquired with raised eyebrows, curious and suspicious as only a woman can.
       “Will tell you later” mumbled Dayanand as he made his way out of the room.
       "You need to be back in Delhi tomorrow, the newspapers will be full of titillating stories about u, now that u have given them something to chew on" she whispered back.
       But he was already on his way.
       
       Calicut took him into her arms as she had thirty years ago. He bought some black ‘aluva’ on the way out of the airport. Hailing an auto-rickshaw, he leaned back and allowed himself to be pulled by his train of reminisces. What had changed were the roads and the buildings, what had not were the air and the sky and the soul of the city. Calicut suddenly looked older, more wrinkled. 
       So would Urvi. After thirty years, would he be able to recognize her? Of course, why not, he shook his head and smiled to himself, closing his eyes.
       The taxi took him to the address he asked for. It was the same building, the same lane. Kerala changes slowly, resisting the advances of civilization, so that for generations together, the shops, the houses, the streets look the same as they did years ago. The teashop below the building had changed hands. ‘Urvashiji ka ghar kaunsa hain?’ he asked a group of customers. ‘We don't know about any Urvashi living here. But there is a lady upstairs who has been here for about thirty-forty years now. Maybe you can try your luck there. She refuses to give up the rooms. Just take the stairs at the back of this teashop.' one man answered.
       
       Thirty two steps in all, he had counted these steps everytime he had been here. His heart leaped as he caught sight of a woman, standing with her back to him, unaware of the footsteps. ‘Minnie?’, he called out. The cascading curtain of once raven black, now grey, whirled around at the sound, ‘She does not stay here anymore, if you want to…….’she blinked her eyes at him, twice, thrice, and then the slow smile of recognition spread on her face, Urvashi’s face, wrinkled, old, n yet retaining the same ethereal beauty.
‘So you are alive, after all? And you came!!’….she touched his arm in affection, took his suitcase and attaché and ushered him in.
He walked in to her room half expecting to see the same bedsheets, the same curtains, as thirty years ago. But of course how can that be possible? He smiled to himself, and settled down on the armchair next to the window. The street sounds weren’t the same. Instead of lilting notes of classical music sung by others like Urvashi, he could hear sounds of kids playing, auto-rickshaws screeching, some of the noises of the market in the next lane. Where had the solitude, the quietness gone? Urvashi returned with the tea, and placed it on the table in front of him. She sat next to him on the bed, looking out of the same window.


       "Times have changed. This street used to be crowded with my admirers. I used to spend my waking hours gazing out at this street. If I got bored I would walk out to the beach, only to be stalked by you."
       She put out her arm on his shoulders. For a long time they basked in the glow of their re-union, stifling their excitement to find out about each other in these years gone by.
       "So what made u come Dayanandji?, she finally asked, unable to contain her curiosity any longer. ‘Today I was awarded the ------ for my novel. The same novel that I promised I would write one day. This Lifetime Achievement Award is because of u, Urvi. Because u encouraged me to take up writing as a career. Do you recall that day?"
       "Yes I remember…..we were at the beach, it was the day u were asked by your father to return home, to marry the girl he had selected for u. I wanted so much to stop u from going, but I did not have the courage to do so."
       'Urvi, If u had only told me so, we would have been together.'
       "No Dayanandji, we could not have been together for long. My past would have always haunted u. Would u have lain with me, not thinking about the nights I had been with the other men. At some point, that issue would have come up. I know u only too well. Its allright for u to visit me in my havel, but not in ur bedroom. I'm a woman of the streets. I could never be anyone's wife, Dayanandji. I fell in love with you, but I could not leave this place. Everytime Ganesh announced a custome for the night, I would pray it would be you.        It has been fifteen years since I stopped entertaining, but that does not take away my past, does it?"
       He knew it was true. For a long time they looked out of the window, biding their time.
       "Have u informed ur wife that u are here?"
       "No, I plan to call her tomorrow. Its too late now. She must have slept"


       Deena paced to and fro in the living room. Worry lines creased her face. Her eyes had dark circles under them. Its been four days since he had gone to Mumbai for the function.. She was in constant touch with Saroj, but neither women had any clue where he was. Saroj was suggesting that Deena lodge a missing person's report. She would have to now, otherwise the police would make trouble for her.
       She opened the door to his study. She was never allowed into his study. He left explicit instructions that he was not to be disturbed whilst he was in there. The smell of cigarettes and whiskey hit her. Riling his his habits, she opened up the windows and rooms. A gust of wind blew in, making the loose papers on his table fly. She caught them, picked the ones lying on the floor and started sorting through them. Mostly they were about the new book he was working on. But there could be more. She sat and thought. Could it be that he would have...? No, that is not possible...But he could have.......She shook her head, suddenly weary. She knew there was a woman her husband was attached to in Calicut. He had refused to divulge any more details except that he would never love Deena as he had loved Purvi.....Was it Purvi? Deena was not sure. She emptied the contents of his bookshelf, the drawers, his files, onto the floor. Rummaging through the considerable pile, Deena chanced upon an old torn diary which had fallen out, its pages spread-eagled. There were entries by Dayanand, but mostly his musings to some unknown woman. He had not mentioned her name anywhere, but Deena knew these were written keeping Purvi in mind. She threw it in disgust. All these years, she had stifled her frustration, knowing that Dayanand was a writer.
The wives of his writer friends always tried to console her saying 'Every writer is the same. They have to have inspiration for their works, Deena. He still comes back to you, no?' But now, Dayanand was with that woman. How could he, after thirty years of their marriage? Maybe she died and he has just gone there to pay his last 'respects'...That thought brought some solace to Deena. If the bitch died, it would be ok. 
       That is when she saw it.
       An old photograph. Dog-eared, cracked. Black and White. A woman in a floral sari. Big Bindi on her forehead. Long thick hair, loosely plaited in the style of those days. Pearls for teeth. Doe-eyed, she seemed to reach out to the photographer, trying to snatch the camera from his eyes. In the middle of her palm was a formidable mole. But her fingers were long, tapered. Perhaps artistic. Unlike Deena's own short, pudgy ones. She turned it over.
       'Urvi n I below her Rooms - Calicut 1981.'
       She snorted. 'So it is Urvi, not Purvi. I was close.'
       She scanned the background for any signs of a landmark. Since the photo was really old, she had trouble finding out, but there, weren't those letters?
       'Abul's photo studio, Abdullah street, Calicut.'
       There was a pincode too but she couldn't read it.
       The address was too vague, n who knows if the studio still stood? But armed with some information, Deena found her mind analysing, planning. She switched on the computer, and logged onto the net. After some time, she found the directions to the place. Thank god for these small Google-Map miracles. Online, she booked a flight to Calicut. N since, it was too late to call Saroj, sent her a mail instead informing her decision.


       Meanwhile Urvashi was filling Dayanand's glass with more whiskey. At his request, she had dressed up in a red sari, pinned jasmine garlands into her hair. Though shy at first, at his persistent urging, she drew her eyes with Kohl, n painted her lips red. The last addition of jewellery took them back to their night, the night they were to be together for the last time. She laughed n teased him mercilessly.
       "I'm old now, what do'u see in me? Why do make me dress up like a fool?"
       "U r never too old, Urvi. Even now I see u as the young gal that u were"
       For a long time, they lay there in each other's arms, pure love mingling with mutual affection, then drifted off to sleep in the middle of a conversation.
       It was afternoon by the time Deena reached Calicut. She caught a taxi to Abdullah street. There was no studio on the whole damned street. Anywhere. Not even a new studio. Hot tears of frustration welled in her eyes. She spotted a tea-shop some distance away. There were some men drinking tea. She decided to ask there.
       "Bhaiyya, do you know of some studio that used to be here about thirty-forty years ago? Abul studios?"
       The owner shook his head, then asked something to his customers in Malayalam. None of the knew or had heard about it.
       As she turned to go, one of the men suddenly said, "No I remember, it used to be there, between those two shops. But who are you looking for? "
       "Urvashi, Do you know her?"
       The old man nodded "Are you looking for Urvashi, the prostitute?"
       "Y...Ye...Yes...."
       "Well, the teashop owner is her best friend. Ask him"...the other men guffawed loudly while the owner looked embarrassed.
       "Take the stairs at the back of this place. This is the second time in a week that people have started asking for that old hag. Is she back into business or what? And whit women?" - he mumbled.
       Ignoring all the riff-raff, Deena ran up the steps and came to the door.
       Her heart beating loudly, she knocked on the door twice.
       Urvashi opened the door. There was no doubting the resemblance to the photo. She was beautiful even with her grey hair and wrinkles.
       "Are you Urvashi?"
       "Yes, who are...." Urvashi's question remained unasked. The women recognized each other.
       A male voice asked from inside "Who was it, Urvi?"
       Dayanand's voice.
       Deena ran in. Past the living room. Past the kitchen. Into the bedroom.
       Her husband was sprawled on the bed. Writing something in a book.
       He looked up at her. Surprised. Then stood up. Calmly. Deliberately.
       While Deena stood there breathing hard. Angry. Betrayed.
       "Deena, I meant to tell you today. I cannot live with you anymore. I have given you everything that a wife could ask for. But I'm afraid, I cannot stay with you under the same roof anymore. I love Urvashi. I have pined for her for three decades. I refused to have any physical relations with you because I could not bear the thought of anyone other than Urvashi touching me. Since you insisted on having kids, I went and got a vasectomy done."
       The silence around them roared and shrieked like a banshee.
       For ages they stood there, looking at each other. 
       Deena crumbled. She tottered. Swayed. 
       She gasped for air.
       Then, with her spine straight, with all the dignity that a woman could ever muster, she turned on her heels and walked out.  


       Dayanand turned towards the window, and took up his writing from where he had left off.

On Reading..

If I were marooned on an island, and could have only one thing, one magical thing that would renew itself again and again in a new shape everytime, I would ask only for a book.......until I am dead, and my breath rasping, rattling my lungs, death gnawing at my innards, I will eat, drink and read books.....To Mum - Thank You for having the Librarian baby-sit us, every single day when u and dad were working.....I know exactly what a great gift and legacy u have given ur children in teaching them to love books....N thank God, we would never get bored as long as there was a moth-ball smelling paper-bundle next to us :)