Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Old Friends

Old friends are like jelly moulds. You start out like a half-formed, amorphous mass of a person, and then you meet these people. These people, who, by virtue of being who they are, mould you, change you, even create you a little. Their ideas wriggle into your brain like persistent worms (okay, that's not a very cosy image, but you get the idea) and take up permanent residence. Essentially, you'll still be jelly, but you'll be part-friend-shaped jelly.

This moulding works both ways - your friends are moulded by you as well. So both of you have a set of the other's idea-worms living in your heads. I'm part N, and she's part me.

The great thing about meeting old friends, is that there's never any awkward settling-into-roles to be done - we might not have met in years but when we do, we're back to how we used to be - thrilled, at the first cold day of the year, despairing of our weight and our complexions (just me here), in tears about our sister's weddings and laughing hysterically when our (back then) befuddled notions of male anatomy were trashed by our horrified male friends.

We meet each other with friendly character-assassination -
"So bitch, how much of Delhi have you done yet?"
"Only the parts you didn't, which are few and far between, my slutty friend!"

She's still one of the rare people I'm comfortable using hindi swear-words with/on. Even if she does fall off her chair laughing at my stilted pronunciation (so I didn't grow up in Shalimar Bagh, woman! I'm still going to swear like a blue-line bus conductor...or die trying!).

That's the good part of meeting old friends.

The bad part is, that these friends were also witness to the sheer idiocy that was you. And they never fail to remind you of it. Especially when you're doing your best to shed the residual image of gauche, socially inept teenager.

Like the time when in conversation with the Kashmiri-Greek-god classmate, you piped up, "You know A, you've got such pretty eyes*. I wish I could scoop out your irises and make ear-rings out of them."

Yes. THAT'S how incredibly charming I was at eighteen. Yes, N. I remember.

*deep sigh*

Somedays I think youth is highly overrated...not true for jelly moulds though.

*To be fair, he did have beautiful-blue-green eyes...and they would've made lovely ear-rings.

Friday, December 23, 2005

I want...

I want to go back to school. No, not the uniform-wearing, homework-skipping days; I want to go back to Art School.

I want to attend my first class and be told by the sweetest professor *ever*, "Bachche, Aapne idhar aane ke liye pichle janam mein moti daan kiye honge" (you must have given away pearls in your last life, to have made it here) - It doesn't translate well.

I want to feel puzzled at that...and realize five years down the line, how much sense it makes.

I want to sit in the canteen, and through the rain-bead curtains, watch the red and gray stone sculptures glisten.

I want to be a little the newness of it all.

I want to be taught the right way to *hold* a pencil (between the thumb and the forefinger), to sharpen it (never to a point and never, ever with a sharpener), to move it.

I want to be taught the difference between a good paintbrush and a bad one - dip the head in water, if the bristles stick together in a conch-shell-like shape, with a single hair point, take it. Flat brushes with plastic bristles are for children.

I want to use watercolours for the first time...and with such trepidation that my first painting looks more like the ghost of a painting. I want to be gently told, that there's no reason to be scared, that it's only colour.

I want to stay up nights, squinting with the effort of creating fine typography.

I want to do what every student of art does at least once; dip my paintbrush into my tea-cup instead of my water container, and not realize it till I taste my tea.

I want to learn about Michelangelo and Botticelli and Caravaggio. About Aristotle, Plato, Kant, Hegel...about line and colour and form. And the different ways that light can fall...and I want to be amazed.

I want to go back to the college library, and drink in all the books there. Their maroon and black, hard-bound covers with gold lettering. I want to read every book I didn't in four years.

I want to walk around Purani Dilli (Old Delhi) with my drawing-board, and my roll of cartridge sheets. I want to find a shady spot and find a good composition - a bucket and a broom, under a tree growing out of an ancient mossy wall. I want to paint the worst watercolour ever - with the leaves of the tree looking like coriander leaves - and only the bucket looking relatively real.

I want to laugh at that painting with my friends, but inwardly worry, that I'll never, ever master watercolours.

I want to not be able to hide the sparkle in my eyes, when a professor I worship, looks at my work and smiles his approval.

I want to be impressionable, I want to be gullible, I want to be naive.

I want to be awed.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?

We've been catching the trailers of 'Bluffmaster' every morning at breakfast for the past ten days, and heaven help us people! That Bachchan boy just goes on getting gorgeous-er and gorgeous-er!

The only wince-inducing detail in this picture, is The Boy's unnerving resemblance to one's younger sibling. Not so much in appearance (although there's that too), but so very much in mannerism, that they might almost be brothers. *horrified gasp*

This disturbs us greatly.

For, in the true tradition of older sisters since the dawn of time, we have consistently failed to see the younger male sibling as anything but a motley collection of germs. An occasionally funny, and even-more-occasionally intelligent collection of germs, but germs, nevertheless.

On the rare occasion that The Brother has had a phone call from a human of the opposite sex, the greatly worried family has congregated around the telephone, expecting to hear snippets of conversation on the lines of, "Your best friend is in my custody. Now say 'yes' or else...!" and "Of course I've gotten rid of the body!". Now, these conversations are obviously conducted in some devious secret code because, we have not, till date, overheard anything, that can be classified as incriminating evidence.

On the even rarer occasion of our actually meeting a girlfriend of The Brother's, we have fought hard, the temptation, to examine the said girl's head, for signs that it's been hit with a blunt instrument.

The resemblance of The Boy to The Brother, however, is forcing us to look at the younger sibling, in a new-ish light. A maybe-there's-a-person-under-all-those-germs-kind of light. A maybe-there's-more-person-and-less-germs-now kind of light.

Actually, it's the he-just-got-me-an-iPod light, which SO brings out the good-ish looking chap he's always been!

Monday, December 19, 2005

Rebel without a pause

The SB* and I, have a pit stop of one day in Chennai before we can go a-honeymoonin' to the (pretty, pretty!) Andaman Islands.

As an act of pure defiance, we shall NOT be doing the horizontal tango (because that would be state-government-sanctioned-sex and WHERE'S THE REBELLION IN THAT?) and we SHALL use condoms.

So THERE, Chennai!

Update: We shall also be using the word 'vagina' at the slightest excuse.

Random Person I - "Here's your luggage!"
Us - "Vagina! And thank you so much!"

Random Person II - "Which way is your hotel, sir?"
Us - "Vagina! It's next to the airport."

*SB= The Suitable Boy

Friday, December 16, 2005



Walking along Marine Drive in the cool, almost-light hours.

I'm walking next to two silver-haired gentlemen. Both walk a little can tell that their knees are acting up.

I'm not close enough to hear their animated conversation, but as I walk past them, one of them bursts into song. The song? 'Kajraare kajraare' - the saucy, sexy, 'item' song from the movie 'Bunty Aur Babli'.

Old ladies, walking slowly with their prayer beads in hand. Young men and women, jogging carefully, dodging around the walkers, teenagers racing each other.

Everyone look...and smile. He stops his song, and responds with a sheepish grin.

No one breaks their step, but we're all stepping a little lighter now.

Good morning Mumbai.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

What next, Chennai?

First it was The Vagina Monologues, then it was pre-marital sex, now it's condom vending machines.

Can someone please tell me, is there something intrinsically wrong with Chennai*? Is it trapped in some weird neanderthal quicksand that pulls it in deeper the more it struggles to get out?

Does Chennai have a larger-than-normal population of bored housewives? I'm quite sure that no self-respecting, educated, working woman (and I'm not excluding housewives from that list) would actually have the time or the inclination to go out and protest (with slogans, posters, crowds, the works) against anything with a hint of progressiveness about it.

To the protesters in Chennai, if you must protest against something to alleviate your boredom, why, why won't you pick an issue which:-
1) might actually do some good if brought to public attention?
2) does not display to the world what blithering idiots you are?

Let's start with the protest against The Vagina Monologues being performed in your city.

Tell me, what precisely is the issue here? That women have vaginas? Or that some of them actually acknowledged it by mentioning 'the V word'? Are vaginas not part of your definition of 'Indian Culture'? Here's a bit of news for you. Y'know all that lying-prostate-worshipping of the shivalingam that you do? All that reverential pouring of milk and honey? Guess who's one of the main stars in THAT little movie? Yes. That makes protesting a little difficult doesn't it? Taking into account, that you'd have to -
(a) go to a mythical mountain top
(b) protest against a representation of a god, to the god, who obviously had no problem with being represented thus.

Then, the protest against Khushboo.

For voicing her opinion that pre-marital sex was okay, as long as adequate protection was used. Notice that word there? O-P-I-N-I-O-N? An opinion, is a thought that an INDIVIDUAL believes in. Notice, she did not issue a command that pre-marital sex was to be practiced by the population at large. She did NOT say,"Go forth and copulate!" in a clear, commanding voice. But maybe that's what she should have done. Because you seem incapable of independent thought anyway. And you insist on picking on people who can't fight back. Because they voiced an OPINION (oh look! there's that word again!) that did not mirror yours.

Now, condom vending machines.

Chennai has the highest population of HIV positive people in India. See that little piece of statistical information there? H-I-G-H-E-S-T. It is NOT a good thing (for those of you having fond memories of that word being associated with 'first in class' or 'topped so and so exam').

Your beleaguered state government decided to do something about it. Something that would stop you from dying horrible deaths.

So of course, since that would be a sensible, logical course of action, you go the exact opposite way. Claim that condoms promote promiscuity. And not just that, condoms, apparently, do not check the spread of the HIV virus...because only God can do that.

(God? Are you listening? Do you realise what this means? It means, that in your next avatar, you're expected to be a prophylactic. Now THAT'S a pretty picture, innit? The places you'll go, dear, dear lord.)

*To the people of Chennai:
I realise that perhaps *all* of you do not agree with the protesters. But my question to these people, to the people who are dismayed when they see this face of Chennai, is, will not one of you raise your voices against these fools? Will no-one stand up and tell these protesters-against-progress, that what they need to do is, shut the fuck up and get to work?

Mirror mirror

The expression on my face right now is a mix between the 'sheer-puzzlement-half-smile' and the 'oh-really-left-eyebrow-raise'. Put them together and you get the look that's on my face a WHOLE LOT these days.

What brought about the wild-dance-of-the-facial-muscles today, was a chance encounter. In the ladies' room. The room which has recently been divested of its' full length mirror.

No, the WDoTFM was NOT due to the disappearing mirror, but because I was apparently the reason it went AWOL. Or so I was informed. By psycho-short-haired-girl-in-the-art-department (who will henceforth be referred to as psycho-arty).

Now psycho-arty, has, on many occasions*, witnessed the ongoing battle between The Haircut and I. The Haircut, which insists on adapting an uncanny resemblance to roadkill, and I, who refuse to look like I've been crowned with the remains of a road accident. This battle, it may be noted, takes place ONLY in front of the SMALL mirror in the ladies' room, because that's the only time I see what vile conspiracies The Haircut has been hatching behind my unknowing back (or above my unseeing scalp if you're a stickler for precise phraseology, in which case, boo to you).

Previous ladies' room encounters with psycho-arty have usually been on these lines:
1. Me - Flustered but trying hard to ignore psycho-arty staring at me in the SMALL mirror.
Psycho-arty - mMMmm! EddMiring!! *with smug-I-know-it-all-look*

2. Me - Flustered but trying hard to ignore psycho-arty staring at me in the SMALL mirror.
Psycho-arty - mMMmm! NaarSeesis!!

And then, today:

Me - Flustered but trying hard to ignore psycho-arty staring at me in the SMALL mirror.
Psycho-arty - See? They took out the mirror because of YOU!

So yes, I've got that face on again.

*Yes, the ladies' room is the ONLY place these close-encounters-of-the-psycho-kind take place. I have NEVER, actually seen her around office. Maybe she's not real. Maybe she's like Moaning Myrtle. At least that way it makes some sense.


Hello, O Imaginary Readers (you're imaginary. You shall jolly well be in the multitudes because that's what we jolly well want. And you're in OUR heads. So there.)!

We're here! *drum roll*
And YOU'RE here too! *even bigger drum roll*

DARlings! It is SO nice to see you!

*air kisses all around*