Sunday, November 25, 2007

It's over, and my eardrums rejoice!

Hindu gods are deaf as posts.

No, think about it. You have the Easters, the Ids, the Christmases, the assorted Guru Purabs, but do you ever, ever hear them make such an infernal racket the likes of which the Hindus do?

(And you’re not religionist if you’re bitching about your own religion. Or the one you were born into, at any rate)

A festival (and we goddamn NEVER run out of those) just has to peek around the corner, and we’re at it. Bhajans at fucking full volume, fireworks – at ear-splitting decibel-levels, processions that block traffic for miles around.

What is it with us? WHY must our all our celebrations entail behavior the barbarians would have frowned upon? Come on people, thirty-three-million gods – surely ALL of them can’t be deaf??


It’s…let me see, sixteen days since diwali and this weekend, this is the first weekend since the goddamn beginning of November, that I have been able to sleep.

And sleep deprivation does not a happy Chronic Skeptic make. I mope, I jump at loud noises (and since there are so many of those, I’m pretty much jumping every five minutes), and when I can’t take it any more, I lean out of my window, shake my fist and yell at the sons of Satan. Of course, since there’s no chance they can hear me from eight floors up, I’m just shaking my fists and screaming into the night. Which does nothing except worry the neighbours. There’s a reason why their children shrink away from me if I happen to meet them in the elevator.

I hate most Hindu festivals. I hate them in the bitchiest, most horrible, the-bloody-natives-are-at-it-again way. But diwali, now there’s something special. I hate the noise, I hate the pollution and there haven't been religious reasons for a long time now. Lakshmi - the moolah, the dough, cashola - has always come and gone as she liked and Ram, Mr. Maryada Purushottam himself, was too much of an asshole to have his return celebrated.

The sweets are too sweet (and there are too many of them), you have to smile at complete strangers and your goddamn inbox overflows with mass-forwarded diwali greetings (there are few things that piss me off more than mass-forwarded greetings. Honestly, is there a better way of telling me you couldn’t care less if you tried?).

Bombay, Delhi, Bangalore, Hyderabad, doesn't matter where you go, It's hell everywhere.

But I remember a couple of diwalis spent in Delhi. Oh they started off just the same. The kids would start lighting their phuljadis at around seven, and then the adults would join in, getting progressively noisier, drunker and more competetive as the night wore on.

"Achcha? Unhone do-hazaar-ki-ladi lagayi hai?? Hum paanch hazaar ki lagayenge!"

And they'd go off to collect all the ladis from the neighbouring houses, twist them into one massive string, and then light the fuse.

It would go on forever. The noise, like machine-gun fire.

But sometimes, if you stayed up long enough, till they ran out of their hazaaron-ki-ladiyan, and bombs and fizzy rockets. Till their savage children tired and trooped back into their houses, leaving the streets looking like a war zone. Till the silence slowly settled along with the fog and the smoke, you'd see what was the beginning of winter. You'd see it as it breathed into the night, cold, soft, misty around the edges. Sharp in your lungs, a slight sting your nostrils as you breathed in. You'd see it surround the diyas, the candles or the fairy lights - the ones on your balcony in sharp focus, the rest, fading into smaller and smaller circles of downy soft light.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Jab bhagwaan deta hai...

...chhappar phaad ke deta hai.

I was, I think, about 7 years old when I first heard this phrase. The mental images which came with it were fascinating because I hadn't a clue what a chhappar was and had promptly mentally substituted it with the similar sounding chappal. The picture in my head therefore, was that of a benevolent (if slightly batty) god, who stored a goonie-esque stash of loot in the soles of his giant Kolhapuris (they were thick-ish soles). On days when he was pleased, he'd rip the insole (upsole? what do you call the upper half of a Kolhapuri chappal?) in two and tip a cascade of treasure into your house from his giant slipper in the sky.

I remember finding this system a little odd, but who was I to argue? He was god, he moved in mysterious ways.

And that phrase (with the chappaR as opposed to the chappaL) pretty much sums up what all of October has been about.

So first, there was the Series of Mysterious Ailments in which a bunch of dastardly viruses decided to make my body their own personal island of fun. My temperature would zip from one end of the thermometer to another, leaving me struggling to either pull on three blankets, or weakly kick them off. Most annoying it was (although for a couple of delirious minutes, just before the shivering set in I'd think, "Ooh...winter! In Delhi!" and get all happy).

Then the fever came down and the deafness happened, only it wasn't real deafness* - just a sort of internal deafness which blanketed all outside sounds but magnified the inside-your-head noises ONE HUNDREDFOLD. To get an idea what I'm talking about, plug your ears with your fingers and chew on a piece of toast. I swear to you, you will never see toast in the same light again. I spent a good three days listening in wide-eyed wonder, to the sounds of my mastication (which, I know, sounds terribly dirty but isn't).

THEN there is employment. Full time, five days a week, with a pretty paycheck at the end of the month thank you very much. It is with a division of the Big Bawa Company (henceforth referred to as the BBC) and so far, after eight days of being an employee, I can say that it's been good. Day 1 went by mostly figuring out the most essential things: where the loos were, what kinda food the canteen served and how many cups of coffee I could drink before people would start looking worried and back away slowly when I started to talk to them (for the record, it's four), and the subsequent days have just been packed.

Employment has come with it's own bunch of insights which have, more or less, nothing to do with the job itself.

Insight 1: Andheri = Hell. Allow me to recount a conversation I had with an auto-walla, one rainy day in August. The autowalla, his auto and I were stuck in knee-deep water (this is 2007, mind you. NOT 2005), traffic hadn’t budged an inch in the last half an hour and horns were blaring all over the place.

Autowallah: (In a voice dripping with weariness) Madam, aapko maalum hai yeh jagah kya hai?
Me: Er...Andheri? Aapko nahin maalum kya??
Autowallah: Madam...yeh jagah...jahannum hai, JAHANNUM!!

(Fierce blowing of auto horn)

Insight 2: Your mother (by which I actually mean mine) was right when she told you to be picky about the boys you chose to play tonsil-hockey with. Because many years down the line, when you find yourself working with one such boy, while on the surface you may be discussing things like lesson plans and scripting and enterprise application training, the one thought running around in your head will be OH MY GOD THIS MAN'S TONGUE WAS ONCE IN MY MOUTH. Disconcerting, girls and boys, is the word we're looking for.

Insight 3: I have turned into my father. After making a career of being a directionless drifter, I have turned into one of those people who *thrive* under pressure and boy, is THAT a shock for MY system. In the last week and a half, I've had deadlines that would normally have me curled up on the floor crying, but the newly-employed me? She is calm and collected. She is going in to work early, making lists (the ailments have obviously affected a chromosomal mutation) and positively burning with a quiet efficiency.

You know you fight it. You're rebellious, you drink, you (try to) smoke, you get tattoos, piercings, and a collection of exes that make you cringe and still, one fine day you will wake up and find that you have turned into your parents. That life, she's got a sick sense of humour.

Oh and by the way god / giant slipper in the sky? Since this is officially the end of October (AKA the Month in which It All Happened at Once), you can go easy now. No, really, I wouldn't mind. NO. SERIOUSLY, STOP IT!

* And smartypants family shall refrain from commenting about how ‘You can’t lose what you ain’t got’. You're all deaf anyway. And maybe I'm not deaf, maybe you just all need to be more interesting? Y’ever think of that?

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

I Aten't Dead...

...for all of you (lovely, lovely people) who asked. Just *incredibly* busy. I post tomorrow, god promise (and you know it doesn't get bigger than that. Except for maybe if I said 'mother swear' [which by the way, mine totally does. Like a sailor, when she's in one of her moods]).

In the meantime, read this. With the deal under discussion, it's (just a little, sorta) relevant.

And oh so quixotic.

Monday, September 24, 2007

'Not Cricket'? Is too!

I remember a time when cricket meant watching 22 white-flannel-clad men do nothing much for hours on end. You could wander away during a match, take a good long walk around the neighbourhood, and come back a day later to find that somebody had made two more runs. It was an age of leisure and the teams believed it too, standing around on the field, adjusting their cod-pieces and occasionally, very occasionally tapping the ball so it calmly rolled about ten feet away. On good day, there even used to be some running.

Now I wasn't much of a sportsperson even back then but I had a feeling that if something is called a ‘sport’ there definitely ought to be more activity happening than in say, Embroidery 1.1 – Lazy-Daisies Made Easy.

So you can understand, perhaps, why I – fresh from a country where football was the dominant religion – didn’t quite get it. Where was the excitement? Whither the adrenalin? Why was nobody screaming at the television screen? The most excited I ever saw people get while watching test matches, was when someone in the Indian team bowled a wicked yorker - there would be genteel applause and murmurs of ‘good ball, good ball’. I’d seen more excitement on my granny’s morning walks.

So for quite a long time, cricket did nothing for me and since the male-female ratio in my household was roughly 1: 50, no-one really cared.

Then, about two weeks ago, a sports-crazy BIL visited. He, of course wanted to watch the match and by dint of living in a 1 bhk, I was forced to watch it along with him. Only this time, after the first over, I was hooked. For the first time in my life cricket was interesting and more than that, it actually made sense. People were running around, that cork ball was hit to within an inch of its life and it rained sixes and fours. This? This was edge-of-your-seat stuff! Bite-your-nails, pray-to-gods-never-believed-in stuff!

Cricket purists complain that 20 / 20 matches are pale, watered-down versions of the game. “It’s ‘not cricket’!” they collectively moan.

Me? I’m going to fetch a chilled beer, a bucket of popcorn and cheer till my throat gives out.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Shoot Ban the Messenger.

With reference to the Karnataka state government’s ban on mobile phone usage by children under 16, Vani Surendra, headmistress of Jnana Mitra School says “It is good. Nowadays many students are losing interest in studies as they are busy using the mobile.”

Now I’m not in favour of having classes disrupted by shrill ring-tones – it is very annoying, especially when you’re trying to sleep - but I can’t help feeling that this poor, delusional headmistress has completely missed the point. Blaming mobile phones for students’ lack of interest in their studies*, is as daft as blaming them for the increase in under-age sexual activity.

I blame the decadent west! Corrupting our good Indian values like that. Tsk!

*And of course, the hideously outdated curricula with teachers to match, have nothing to do with it at all.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

In the Middle of the Night

It’s been a week of crazy dreams and two, TWO of them have involved me being preggers (and I’m not). The first one was where Bipasha (yes, Basu) and I are in the maternity ward of a seedy little hospital in Hyderabad. She’s slim as ever, yet mysteriously having contractions, and I am one-month-pregnant (though how I know that is a bit of mystery. I mean you hardly ever hear women saying they’re one-month-pregnant, do you? It’s almost as if they go from zero to three overnight). The two cots next to mine are occupied by women who look like they could pop any minute and one of them has an outie that looks exactly like a miniature wiener (ugh! creepy). The one next to her has a five-month-old baby playing at her feet and I’m wondering if she got down to action the moment that kid popped out (I did the maths later – when I woke up that is - and no, it’s not possible. The baby is obviously someone else’s). All of us have identical bright orange felt-sheets to cover us.

So yes, Bips’ friend walks into the room all breathless, slim, flat-stomached, bonsai-assed and she’s all, “My friend! She’s in labour!” and the rest of us exchange looks which very clearly say, ‘Yeah? And what do you think we’re doing here Bambi? Partying?” (Apparently, in my dreams I am quite a bitch.) Friend insists that the doctor be called in and the grumpy mid-wife (played admirably by Sangeeta Ma’am – accountant at PG College) brings in the physician on call and guess who he is? No guess! No? Alright, it’s A.K. Hangal. Yes, Ye Olde A.K. Hangal of ‘Itna sannata kyon hai bhai?” fame. Mr. Hangal has evidently been hitting the gym quite regularly because though his face is still the same - balding, toothless, wrinkled – he is filling out his ancient cotton vest quite nicely. He doesn’t actually say ‘Itna sannata kyon hai bhai?’ but that is possibly because there isn’t any sannata what with women in going into labour left right and center.

Clearly my subconscious has dismissed my freelance-writer-hood as inconsequential, one of those oh-she’ll-grow-out-of-it things and decided that I would be better suited to be either a) an item girl (or two) or b) the person who dodders in after a climactic scene and asks uncomfortable questions.

And if anyone so much as *breathes* the words ‘biological clock’, I am going to be very nasty to them. Even if it is only in my dreams. Don't say I didn't warn you.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Hey Sister, Go Sister

If there is one festival/institution that has been abused to the point where it has trust issues and thinks everyone is out to get it, that festival/institution is Raksha Bandhan.

According to my extensive research there are three kinds of Rakhi sisters.

Type A: This type usually *has* a brother (or possibly two) and while she has conscientiously tied/sent him a rakhi every year, she has never quite understood what all the fuss is about. This type does NOT go around be-sister-ing every alternate male she comes across and thinks that one (or however many she has) bother brother is quite enough, thankyouverymuch.

Type B: This type of RS has no male siblings. Which means she has never had her dolls dismembered, her clean sneakers muddied and posters of her favourite cine-stars decorated with speech balloons which say, “I’m such a girl! Where is my pink tutu??” This type of RS, for reasons known only to herself, usually wants brothers. She thinks that they will be all protective (if they’re older) and adoring (if they’re younger) and usually picks one relatively sane boy (ha!) to whom she will unfailingly tie/send a rakhi every year. This type of enforced sibling-hood usually means that both parties’ feelings towards each other are severely-platonic-bordering-on-repulsion (which, in any case, is what *true* brother-sister-hood is all about anyway).

Type C: Then there is the Type C Rakhi Sister. This type of girl is frequently named after one of the more annoyingly pious women in Indian mythology, such as Parvati, or Mamta or Shraddha. She hails from a small town/repressed family where hormonal stirrings are frowned upon and can lead to only one of two conclusions: artificial siblinghood or prompt matrimony. (Cue memorable dialogue from Maine Pyaar Kiya – “Ek jawaan ladka aur ek jawaan ladki kabhi dost nahin ho sakte!”) As a result of following these bizarre practices all her life, this girl has no idea how deal with an actual crush on a member of the opposite sex and will promptly be-sister him. Come Raksha bandhan, and with great ceremony she will tie a rakhi around the hormone-affecting boy’s wrist which will enable her to do everything but err…any actual doing (until much later, anyway).

Now apart from the disturbing Freudian fallouts of such a relationship (enforced sibling-hood, i.e.), the Type C Rakhi Sister is a thorn in the side of the Rakhi brother’s hapless girlfriend. No girl is apparently good enough for her brother and while she’s too gentle and *pure* a soul to say anything against the girlfriend (god forbid!), she will drop subtle hints. In her I’m-your-loving-sister-way she will mention how “entertaining” the girlfriend is, such a barrel of laughs! And how she’s still friends with AAALLLL her exes, amazing na? She will give him missed calls when he’s with the said GF and text him endlessly till the girlfriend begins to feel like there are three people sharing that chicken-roll (or sundae or food/drink item of choice).

Initially, the girlfriend will brush it off thinking, ‘Naah, she’s just affectionate, is all’. But one day, she will walk out of class see the boyfriend’s head in the RS’s lap while she (RS) plays with his hair. Her brain will wrestle with her heart and the argument will go somewhat like this:

Brain: ARRGGGHH!! Are you bloody blind?? Don’t you see what’s happening here?
Heart: Well, uh, yes. He’s lying down with his head in her lap and she’s uhh… playing with his hair. Her hand is uhhh…inside his shirt?
Brain: You’ve GOT to be kidding me. Tell me, when was the last time you did this with YOUR brother?
Heart: Euuww!! That’s disgusting! What the HELL is wrong with you, brain!
Brain: (pointed silence)
Heart: (stunned silence)

At this point, a wise girl will realise that if she were ever asked for an example of a lose-lose situation, she would not come up short. Dumping the boy will inevitably lead to the RS ‘consoling’ the boy with many “Koi baat nahin bhai, aisi ladkiyaan bahut saari mil jaayengi”, and asking him to choose would be viewed as colossally stupid (even if perfectly legitimate). Even killing the RS will not be a solution since she’ll just have to live with the ghost of a sister past.

And when many years down the line she will go through the boy’s orkut profile and see a photograph of both of them titled ‘me and my best FRIEND (emphasis, mine) in the whole world’ she will thank her lucky stars she got out in time.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Vijayi Vishwa Tiranga Pyaara!

Ae mere pyare vatan, ae mere bichhde chaman
tujhpe dil qurbaan
Tu hi meri aarzu, tu hi meri aabru
tu hi meri jaan.

Tere daman se jo aaye un havaon ko salaam
choom loon main us zubaan ko jispe aaye tera naam
Sabse pyaari subah teri, sabse rangeen teri shaam,
Tujhpe dil qurbaan.

Tu hi meri aarzu, tu hi meri aabru, tu hi meri jaan.

My favourite deshbhakti song. Gets me all choked up despite the fact that I'm neither fervently patriotic, nor, in any way, bichhdo-ed from my chaman. Also, in the film, the song was sung by a wrongfully-convicted Afghan trader, who was pining for his country i.e. Afghanistan.

I think my patriotic beliefs can safely be defined as 'schizo pick and mix'.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Yah Number Abhi Uplabdh Nahin Hai!

Dear blood-sucker money-grubber pathetic wanker Sunil Bharti Mittal,

By the time you read this I’ll have switched service providers faster than you can say “Madam main Airtel ki oar se…”. I’m sorry for doing this…oh wait, no I’m not! I’m thrilled to be doing this. So thrilled, in fact that I just dialed 121 and laughed like a maniac at the poor sod at the other end. There might have been some ‘nyaah nyaah! I’m switching networks!’ thrown in, but I’m not confirming or denying that.

I know this might come as a bit of shock to you since you’ve been so busy managing all the IV tubes that directly connect our (and by ‘our’, I mean the zillion gullible fools – myself included – who use the airtel network ) veins to your coffers, but I’ve had enough. I am done with frantically running around my house and leaning at precarious angles just to be able to complete a five-minute conversation. It is frankly embarrassing to have to tell everyone who calls you to ‘just give me a minute while I get to a window’ and have them worry about whether they’re unknowingly fuelling your suppressed exhibitionist fantasies. Especially when it is a potential employer on the line.

But you don’t know what frustration is until you’ve been disconnected five times in the span of two minutes, in a conversation with an automated switchboard, where you had to dial your card number, your T-pin number, your date of birth and the date of your last transaction, three times. Only to have a rather tinny version of Für Elise* played back at you on loop.

I think you’re a slimy bastard with a moral fibre which is more frayed, rotting wisps of thread than fibre swell guy man, but I don’t think we’re right for each other. You think it’s fun to con people into giving you more money by swamping them with marketing calls when they’re on roaming rates, I get all warm and fuzzy when I think of the things I could do to you with a pair of industrial pliers, some copper wire and an electric socket.

Anyway, I want to switch to your immediate competitor, Hutch. But you know what? We had some good times, at least until the marketing calls started coming in and your entire effing network died on me. And look - I won't even make an issue out of the money you conned me out of, or the fact that so many of my days were made hellish by your underpaid call-center executives.

So take care of yourself - (if there is any justice in the world) you need to be strong for your years in prison.

With sheer loathing utter contempt a burning desire for revenge,

Your totally-pissed-off-EX-customer.

* Poor Beethoven's probably got friction burns from spinning in his grave so fast. Such a pity the dead can't sue.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Chunnu Munnu di Gaddi

So, Chunnu and Munnu, (by which I mean the SB and I, just in case you were wondering) have gone and got themselves a car. She (the car) is a pretty silver thing and looks like the result of a one of those socially frowned-upon unions (an inter-car marriage?) between a beetle (beetles! I love beetles) and ummm…a bigger car (which also, is the length and breadth of Munnu’s automobile-knowledge. There are beetles, and there are bigger cars).

Chunnu - who used to be a biker and hasn’t really driven cars much - took practice driving classes for about a month before the car was delivered to them. Munnu credits this sensible move as the reason that all three of them (C, M and the G) are alive and undamaged today.

Munnu, however, in all her years, has never seen cars as anything more than things that get you from point A to point B. She has always been supremely unconcerned with things like navigation, traffic rules or even other cars on the road, because you see, it was never her *job* to know these things. Sure, there were the family cars but their ownership was ambiguous; they were never Munnu’s property. Also, there was always a responsible adult (or two) around, who a) drove the car and b) ensured that Munnu got to wherever it is she was going.

As a result of this sheltered upbringing, Munnu is magnificently ill-equipped to deal with the reality of owning a car. When she is strapped into the passenger seat, the responsibility of it all overwhelms her. Her palms go all sweaty and her heart skips a beat every time a BEST bus drives by. She is sorely tempted to jump out of the car screaming and chase all the other vehicles off the road. Or at least out of a five-mile-radius of the Gaddi.

Parking however, is what Munnu finds most stressful, even though she is not the one doing it. Munnu’s job is merely to ensure that the car does not inadvertently snuggle up too close to other cars / pavements / pillars while Chunnu backs it into place. Munnu is frequently convinced that the three feet of space she sees between the Gaddi and the neighbouring car / pavement / pillar is a trick of the light and that any moment, she will hear the not-so-gentle scraping of metal against the relevant immovable object. Every parking episode results in two more of Munnu’s hair turning grey.

Munnu remembers a story she was told as a child, about an aunt who was learning how to drive. Now this aunt lived in Kanpur, which, for some inexplicable reason, had a very high population of pigs. Pigs in general, Munnu’s aunt had no problem with, but apparently Kanpuria pigs were blissfully ignorant of traffic rules, not to mention the law of physics which states, ‘If big metal monster comes in contact with small piggy, small piggy becomes pork chops’. The aunt however, was vegetarian and against the killing of animals (however annoying) and so came up with a solution – she would take the car out with the chowkidar’s seven-year-old son as her only passenger. They would then drive around peacefully until one of the suicidal pigs showed up. The boy would then get out of the car, chase the animal off the road and get back into the car to continue his joyride. It was the perfect arrangement – the boy got a ride, the aunt her driving-practice and the piggy, his life.

Chunnu has suggested that Munnu learn how to drive, to which Munnu cryptically replies, “Our watchman has no sons.”

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

My eyes! My poor eyes!

Gentlemen, the world does NOT need to know which way you dress. For the love of all that is sacred, WEAR LOOSER JEANS.

Saturday, July 14, 2007


It feels like a fizzing, spinning, burning catherine wheel, right in the centre of your rib-cage. Its heat runs through your veins, making you want to rip out these lifelines, just so that you can be rid of it. You can feel it throbbing in your fingertips, lump in your throat, well up in your eyes. And then you feel like a fool.

Because for heaven's sake, who cries out of restlessness?

We do. We even have a name for it. We call it the COA keeda*. All three of us have had it, and continue to have it. It isn’t always bad. Most months it lies low, occasionally erupting in an urge to ‘do something different’. These are more easily dealt with. A good play, a new hobby, a get-away-from-it-all-trip, they work. There is calm, even if it is uneasy. But you know you’re only suppressing symptoms, rather than curing disease (which is the most perfect word for this sickness. Disease: dis + ease). And you know, that like anything held in, when it explodes, there is havoc.

We know better than to offer solutions to the stricken. Suggestions will not, cannot be taken, opinions will be feverishly sought, then ignored, kind words will only lead to teary breakdowns.

So we listen, patiently, as people who have been down that road. We listen to the raving, the longing, the agonised debates, the justifications. And we empathise, but can do little else. It’s like a fever, it will run its course and only then, burn itself out.

All we can do is hope that we survive the fire. Or failing that, that phoenix-like, something beautiful will rise out of the ashes.

* Keeda: bug / worm.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Tagged again!

By this gentleman, so any questions or protests on the lines of 'Did we *really* need to know that??', and 'Overshare! Overshare!!' are to be directed straight to him.

So, eight random facts about me.

1) You know that idiotic make-a-wish-on-a-fallen-eyelash thing that girls in Hindi movies do? Yeah well, guess what. I know, I know, totally pathetic. But look, I shook off some nineteen years of extreme religion - I'm entitled to one tiny equally baseless belief? Think of it as a nicotine patch of sorts, it might seem a little more tolerable.

When I was a kid, I had a mental picture of this silver-bearded old man, sitting on a pile of clouds, hunched over his worktable, prising open eyelashes with a pair of microscopic tweezers. The eyelash would then roll open scroll-like, and written on it would be the wish you'd made. I have no idea who I should blame for this.

2) I hate long nails. On myself, that is. I completely envy women with slender hands, tipped with perfectly manicured nails (the bitches), but it drives me nuts if mine grow long enough that I can feel the edges.

3) I once dated a neanderthal who said - "मैं चाहूंगा कि मेरी बीवी मुझे कम से कम एक वक़्त का खाना बना के खिलाये" - I was horrified, and argued till I was blue in the face, but I did not dump him. Well, not right away at least.

4) I people-watch to the point where the watchees begin to worry. It's not deliberate - I don't mean to make them uncomfortable, but the thing is that after a while, it's just my eyes that are focused on them; my brain has run off to pick daisies. When the brain comes back from her flower-picking, we have a good laugh about it. And then they (the watchees) worry even more.

5) I hate being tickled.

6) I cannot smoke. I've tried to, oh about a hundred times till date, but I always end up coughing and wheezing like a chain-smoking asthmatic. Oh and pot? Same difference.

7) My second toe is longer (taller? higher? faster? stronger?) than my big toe (on both feet). Superstition says that a woman with this particular toe-configuration will lord over her husband. Superstition is a lying bitch.

8) I think boobs are a bad design feature. Really. I think I might've even been lesbian if it weren't for boobs.

Done! Now I'm supposed pass on the tag to eight people but I'm fairly sure that only four out of eight will do it, so here goes:

Izzy (who I think has done this before but so what, tell us eight more things)
The Ideasmithy

Monday, July 02, 2007

This 'n that

The rain has stopped, finally. Not that it was affecting me much; it would take a lot more water to flood an eighth floor apartment. But there is the wind. I have to keep all the windows (but one) closed because the moment I open them a crack, it's like I've let a typhoon into the house. Papers fly around, curtains billow dramatically, doors bang, empty water bottles get blown off kitchen counters. So I keep them closed, only, even though they're the sliding glass type windows, they're never *completely* closed. And you know what happens when gale force winds try to force their way through teeny tiny slots?

Banshee karaoke.

The first time I heard the wailing, I thought a bat had flown into the house. After a rather jittery search revealed that it was only the wind, I tried sealing off the windows by jamming in newspaper. It didn't work, at least not in the way I hoped. All it did was lower the pitch. So instead of soprano, my window banshees now wail in a soft contralto.

I should sell tickets or something.


On a completely unrelated note, a lovely poem I read over the weekend. Author Anne Lamott calls it a wonderful use of paranoia as material. I agree.

We Who Are Your Closest Friends

We who are
your closest friends
feel the time
has come to tell you
that every Thursday
we have been meeting,
as a group,
to devise ways
to keep you
in perpetual uncertainty
discontent and
by neither loving you
as much as you want
nor cutting you adrift.
Your analyst is
in on it,
plus your boyfriend
and your ex-husband;
and we have pledged
to disappoint you
as long as you need us.
In announcing our
we realize we have
placed in your hands
a possible antidote
against uncertainty
indeed against ourselves.
But since our Thursday nights
have brought us
to a community
of purpose
rare in itself
with you as
the natural center,
we feel hopeful you
will continue to make unreasonable
demands for affection
if not as a consequence
of your disastrous personality
then for the good of the collective.

- Philip Lopate

Thursday, June 28, 2007

$0.70 richer than I was three months ago!*

So, it's been about three months since the day when I - in an uncharacteristic fit of a) optimism b) insanity c) technological curiosity d) all of the above - signed up for google's adsense thingy. I think it is now time to ask the question:

Does anyone know why the stupid sole banner I signed up for, is half-hidden under the half-inch wide blue line that runs across the top of the page? The one that has all the 'SEARCH BLOG', 'FLAG BLOG' and the (modestly title-cased) 'Next Blog' links? Anyone??

* And if THIS doesn't tempt you, I don't know what will.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Normal Programming Resumes

Despite my incessant kvetching about my parents’ looniness, I had a relatively sane childhood. No, really. I was fed (rather well, for which I blame them to this day), clothed and not forced to break rocks in the burning sun for not doing my homework (an incident which occurred with distressing (for them, that is) frequency).

It was only during my adolescent years I realised, that all this endless parenting (have I mentioned that I’m the fourth of five?) was making the needle on their sane-o-meters oscillate dangerously. The following incident will illustrate how.

The parents had apparently, early in their lives, nursed in their hearts the desire that one of their children would grow up to be an engineer. Not just any engineer, mind you, an engineer from IIT. Their first three offspring being more inclined towards the life sciences and art, the mantle was passed on to me – their one child who showed no inclination towards anything in particular.

The father is an engineer. Now you may assume that this would qualify him to decide whether or not I had an aptitude for the profession, but you would be wrong. Apparently, when you become parents, things like logic, and the ability to see what is staring you in the face, take wing and fly out the nearest window. And so it was with my parents. It was decided one cold day in December, that I, their one child who showed less of a talent for mathematics than your average amoeba (actually amoebae are better off, they can multiply without help. Get it? Get it? Ha ha ha!), would become the next engineer in the family. And this despite the fact that I had, in all my years of primary education (save one - the year of my grade ten board exams), displayed a lack of left brain activity that could only be described as uncanny.

To be fair to them, I did, in the eleventh grade, confuse them a little. I signed up for that deceptively named subject – Engineering Drawing. “If that isn’t the sign of a future engineer, we don’t know what is!” thought my parents. What it was, was a simple case of selective vision; they saw Engineering’ and went “Aha!”, I saw ‘Drawing’ and went “Oo fun!” So while I drew three types of rivets and the occasional cross-section of a crankshaft (without knowing how any of them actually worked), my parents smiled at each other knowingly and dreamed.

As a result of this dream, after I completed the twelfth board exams (with abysmal grades in maths, mind you) I was signed up for those IIT entrance preparatory classes. “But I don’t want to be an engineer! I want to do an English honours course.” I said to my parents. “No,” they replied, firmly yet lovingly, “there are no jobs for English honours students. What will you do once you graduate?” Being, back then, of the species known as Teenageria Cluelessium, I had no answer to that and agreed to the classes with the warning that they were wasting their money. As expected, it fell on deaf ears.

Typically, at this point in the story, the girl’s left-brain awakens with all the force of an active volcano and dazzles all with its brilliance, proving to the world that all parents are always right and gosh! The world might just have its next Einstein! To which I will only say, “Right. And life is a Karan Johar movie.”

I realised after about a week of attending though, that these classes weren’t quite as hellish as I had thought they would be. I still didn't understand a word those teachers said, (except for that one jolly old Punjabi gentleman, who would upbraid his students with a cheery “Hiyou bilaady fooool!”), but I did understand that in a class of twenty-five odd (and some of them were very odd) boys, H and I were the only girls. H was already seeing someone, which left me with sole ogling rights to Jaspreet Randhawa.

Jas, in that entire class of twenty-five young men, was the only one who did not wear glasses, did not dress in clothes his mother might’ve bought for him, did not have his oiled hair in a neat side parting and did speak in grammatically perfect English with all his articles ready and present (ref: grammar, you pervs). It also helped that he stood six-feet-two inches tall, had the softest brown eyes I had ever seen and a smile bracketed by dimples you could drown in. Pretty as Michelangelo’s David, but alive and umm…more substantially clothed (which was sad, but you can’t have everything. Also, Delhi winters, ‘nuff said).

So Jas and I got to doing what awkward teenagers did back then, which was, avoiding each other like the plague. This continued for about two weeks until one morning, as I was walking from the bus stop to class, he stopped his bike and offered me a ride. From then on it was but a small step to chatting in all the breaks and drinking chai at the tapri around the corner.

It would be nice to say that we walked off into the sunset holding hands (no actually, it would be crap. And a bunch of lies) but soon I got into the College of Art and we fell out of touch.

So, although nothing ever came of it (the pretty boy and me, i.e.), my parents did learn that attempts to play puppet-master with my academic/professional life were more likely to backfire. Their subsequent tries at spreading the loony were limited to showing me resumes and photographs of eligible (by their standards) men who were all, by some bizarre coincidence, very religious, hirsute and balding.

Now? They just bug me to make babies. I’m not sure if that’s an improvement – the sane-o-meter self-imploded at grandkid number 3.

So, what was I saying again? Oh yeah, parents. Don't you just love 'em?

Sunday, June 24, 2007


Rain should be seen in silver beads,
threaded on soft, dark hair.

It should be breathed in, off skin,
in the nook of a neck.

It should be felt, fingertip to raisined fingertip
Its trail, tracing furrows down a chest.

It should be tasted, teased,

sipped off smokey lips.

Heard, whispered,
against the sound of your name.

Addendum: It should be banned, for moving souls like me,
to poetry.

*Ladies and gentlemen, exhibit (a) of GP. And you can't say I didn't warn you - that profile's been up for ages now.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Television - How much is too much, Part II

In other news I have realised that being a freelance writer is no less fraught with danger than say, being a crocodile psychotherapist.

The thing is, when I was gainfully employed with a legitimate company, I stuck to office timings. Which meant that my television watching was seriously restricted to about one hour in a day, if that. Now, since I work (using the term loosely) from home I am forced to watch more television that I could ever be comfortable with. (And yes, I mean ‘forced’. YOU try ignoring it when you have to walk past the damn thing fifty thousand times in a day). So yes, I watch a lot of television. Some days I watch so much of it that by the time the SB gets back from work, the couch and I have moulded ourselves around each other and the only movement in the room is that of my thumb, frantically pressing buttons in the forlorn hope that one channel out of 99 will play something that can hold my attention for a whole minute.

It was during one such day that I came across Shekhar Suman’s debut album. And I couldn’t tear my eyes away from the screen.

It starts with a man’s torso silhouetted - framed lovingly, so you can count every muscle - in a window. The camera pans around and it is Shekhar Suman! In possibly the most self conscious ooh-look-at-me-wake-up stretch ever to be seen. SS scans the horizon, looking for, we know not what. But wait! His eyes narrow…he’s spotted something! And the camera sweeps to the beach, where lies a mysteriously abandoned guitar! SS looks around – after ascertaining that no one’s watching, follows the finders-keepers principle and filches it.

He’s dreamily strumming a few chords when suddenly! There is a bikini-clad woman! Lying languorously on the rocks, letting the waves wash over her! As SS blinks in disbelief, she walks towards the camera, then does the standard break-surface-and-toss-hair-backwards thing. After a few more babe-on-a-beach moves, the camera cuts to SS, who has changed out of his pyjamas (but stuck with the vest) and is now wearing jeans. He sits on a rock, strumming the guitar and singing, vanishing and reappearing alternately with the beach-babe until the last frame, where there are two SS’s a strummin’ an’ a singin’.

Babe does some more babe-on-a-beach things.

SS has now ditched his vest for a shirt and a jacket. And put on a pair of I’m-so-cool shades. He sits on some stairs in the middle of nowhere and plays the guitar, while a bunch of random children gather around him. The beach-babe has, in the meantime, put on a pretty summer dress, got herself a bunch of flowers and is running, o’er hill and err…around/away from a church.

Babe finds the aforementioned random children and hands each of them a flower. The children smilingly accept the flowers, probably worried about what the crazy-smiling-lady-with-the-flowers might do if they refuse. SS wipes his hand on his shirt and asks her for one too. She simpers, and obliges. This is obviously a sign that they can now wear colour-coordinated outfits because in the very next scene, SS and Babe, clad in matching-matching pink, are running around trees. Babe decides that she wants to go solo and waves around a couple of yards of diaphanous-pink-fabric.

Swirl, swirl.

It is now night. And SS and Babe are doing the salsa. Or something like it. Only, since babe’s dress has no pockets, she has hung her keys on the back of it. (Not too smart I think; they’re bound to fall off with all that twirling). They salsa for a little while then retire to a bonfire (see? Told you she’d lose the keys) which obviously warrants another change of clothes.

They clink their glasses together and kiss and this is where it goes from just ‘icky’ to the code yellow of ickiness. SS runs his hand across babe’s collarbones and round to the back of her neck, while his elbow rests comfortably on her chestal region (eeuw). His gaily patterned Hawaiian shirt vanishes as though it never was, and babe snuggles up against his bare chest. (Code Orange! Your toes are refusing to uncurl!)

SS wakes up hugging a pillow and wonders where babe went until he realizes that she was but a dream. He sits up in bed and sorta laughs to himself then walks up to his window and lo! There in the distance, is the guitar that started it all! He runs towards in slow motion, picks it up, gives a look-over (decides that well, whaddya know! This one’s filch-able too!), turns to the camera and winks the creepiest, crawliest, make-your-skin-want-to-get-up-and-run wink I have ever seen (Code Red! Code Red!! Someone send in the Haitian!!).

Do take a look.*

*Why should I be the only one to suffer?

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Thanking her Lucky Stars

At a recent drunken gathering I was asked what my will-he-make-it-to-a-second-date tests were. (Which probably just goes to show just how drunken the gathering was, because asking ME for second-date-tests is a bit like asking a kake-da-dhaba-da-butter-chicken eater, whether they want their beluga caviar on crackers or plain chilled. ‘Pointless’ is what I mean). So anyway, I thought really, really hard (I was drunk too) and came up with this:

”He shall not be queasy about street food.”

And then I thought about it some more and I realised that I’m probably at my wisest when drunk. Because you know, not-queasy-about-street-food says so much about a man. No, seriously. I will not date a guy who goes all ‘organic aloos’ on me. A man who is NQaSF is a man who is not afraid to take chances. He’s been there, eaten that, had the jaundice and risen like a phoenix from the ashes. What has not killed him, has given him a stomach of cast-iron and an immune system that pooh-poohs at sissy amoeba.

The NQaSF guy is not just tough, oh no he’s not. This man, much like the perfect vada, is all crispy crust and soft insides. You might not think it to look at him, but ladies and gentlemen, he’s a romantic! This is a man who knows the joys of eating roasted bhutta while walking along bandstand, and the comfort that comes from conversations punctuated with the silent, contemplative munching of corn-kernels. He knows the sense of community that comes with standing around the paani-puri-vaala’s red-cloth-draped matka and struggling to finish the paani-puri in your plate before the lightning-fast vendor starts his second round. He knows the stomach-flipping way of using his (clean) handkerchief to wipe off that dab of imli-chutney from the corner of your mouth (which might sound gross but is actually all awww-inducing when the hormones are a-ragin’).

He knows that nothing completes a rainy day better than a glass of sweet cutting-chai, strong with the flavours of adrak and elaichi, and he knows that the best accompaniment to this chai is piping hot samosas, smothered in green chutney, served in those faded-green leaf donas.

And now, the government wants to ban them all.

It’s a good thing I went and got married when I did.

Friday, May 18, 2007

With Apologies to Nike

So. In my mother’s endless quest for more grandchildren than she knows what to do with, I have been instructed to buy a panchang. For those of you in the dark (from me, who has had an occasional glimpse of light and winced) a panchang is a Vedic calendar based largely on the phases of the moon with an occasional nod to the sun, the nine* real planets in our solar system and two mythical ones (Yes, we have mythical planets. Don’t you?).

The panchang is pretty much the how-to-live-every-day-of-your-life guide for all good, religious, Hindus (I score exactly zero out of three). It has every single day of (however remote) religious significance marked out on it and if you’re even borderline familiar with Hinduism, that is a LOT of days. There is ekadashi, which happens once every month – I know some people fast on this day, there is amavas, which is essentially a moonless night, so I’m assuming people switch on the street-lights this day, and a whole plethora of other days which I have no clue about. All I know is that some involve fasting, some involve feasting and some involve wearing yellow clothes and feeding cows (unless this one of my mother’s twisted little ways of getting a laugh off her children).

’What does this have to do with my mother’s potential grandchildren?’, you might ask.
‘Apparently, lots’, I will say.

You see, since my mother has realised that mere badgering has done nothing to increase her tribe, she has switched to plan B i.e. tempt your daughter with the promise of “super” offspring. Apparently, doing the deed on days specifically earmarked for er…such activity will ensure that the resultant bundle of joy will be the kind of bundle of joy that is the very epitome of joyousness. As they were wont to say in shady seventies Hindi movies, “Heera hoga, heera!!" (He will be a diamond, a diamond!).

But it’s not as simple as it sounds. You can’t ‘just do it’ (sorry nike) on the days circled in red marker. There is A Process. The two parties involved must first have gone though a period of celibacy (ten days, I think). On the designated day, when the clock strikes the magic hour, both parties must bathe, wear clean clothes and light a diya in front of bhagwaan-jis of their choosing. They must then invoke their individual ancestors, inform them of their intentions to further (deepen?) their gene pools, seek their blessings and then get down and do the dirty.

Because of course, *nothing* gets you in the mood like the mental image of an audience of stern-faced gods and grey-beard ancestors watching you as you get it on.

*or is that eight now?

Monday, May 14, 2007

Not merry, not even close.

You know what this heat is? It’s insidious. It gets under your skin. You can shed your layers of clothing till you’re naked as a jaybird, and even that won’t be enough, you’ll want to take off more. This heat. It lies low all morning, patient, waiting, pretending to be all ‘oh pay no attention to me, I’ll just lie here in this corner doing nothing at all’ and then, when the sun’s at its peak, it pounces. Runs under your skin like an army of spiders, starting at the back of your neck, then spreading. Across your shoulder blades, down your arms, in the crease of your neck. A million little metallic spiders under your skin.

God I hate May.

And like that’s not bad enough, there are clouds. They’ll hide the sun for a couple of minutes every now and then, fill you with longing, make you turn your face up to the sky in anticipation, and then float away.

If May were a man, he’d totally be the kind all your girlfriends told you to stay away from, knowing all the while that you were too far gone to listen. Because May? May was Bad News. He was the kind who’d never call when he said he would, vanish without a trace for three months and then, without any warning, show up at your doorstep. You’d be all casual because you couldn't possibly let him know, he’d know, but pretend not to.

Crafty bugger, that May.

But I’m three summers old in this city and I know that these clouds mean nothing. I know there’s going to be no rain till June. I know. So you can stop flitting across the sky, stop your hide-and-seek with the sun, just stop with the goddamn teasing alright?

I’m on to you, May.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Warm Fuzzy Feeling

> Told suspicious security card at college gate, "Hum purane students hain, yaaden taaza karne aayen hain!" Where confident and authoritative failed, bambi eyes and plenty of "Please bhaiyya, bas dus minute main vaapis aa jaayenge, promise!" worked like a charm. Heh, men are such suckers, and no we have no pride.

> Wandered around the place and got completely disoriented because fucking progress has ensured that those lovely green lawns where we'd spend hours bunking classes, have now grown ugly brick buildings like a rash. Goddamn progress.

> Got into TGIF after driving around Connaught Place (and I will NOT call it goddamn 'rajiv chowk') three times, in an attempt to find someplace that served cheap alcohol. After attempt three in a rapidly heating-up car, any alcohol was just fine.

> Went to Janpath and fulfilled the cold-coffee at De Pauls ritual. Ran into THREE other classmates doing the same. Exchanged gossip and phone numbers.

> Squealed at everything that had changed in the five years that I'd been away. Got punched by N and called a b******** tourist for acting like a, well...b******** tourist. Basked in the warmth of authentic punjabi-accented abuse.

Good times. *sigh*


I walked through a dust-storm today. Cloudy when I left home, and then the wind whipped up. Dust and leaves and the funniest sight - those little cottony balls of fluff that hold seeds, rolling faster and faster down the road as the wind gave chase.

I must've been quite a sight. Lone girl in a red kurti and jeans, hand held up to shield her eyes, the wind whipping up dust devils all around her, her magenta silk scarf struggling to make a break for it.

Not that there was much of an audience.

Just a few measly drops of rain though. And I was praying for hail. Have you seen one of those in Delhi? If you're outside when they hit, you're torn between wanting to take cover (those things *hurt*) and staying out because this is ice falling from the sky in a city that was an oven till a few minutes back.

And if you're indoors, you hear them rattle as they hit the windows, the AC, the mosaic floor of the balcony. When it's over, if you get outdoors fast enough and if it was a big storm, the roads are shiny black and the hailstones look like melting stars.

Thursday, April 19, 2007


She sees them from way off. Blue and white against the night sky, black on yellow, white on green. They're lit up by streetlights, headlights and on the quieter stretches, moonlight. She reads, rolling the words on her tongue, testing them, tasting them.

'Mehrauli'. Open-mouthed, soft-exhaled, palate-brushing. 'Motibagh'. Stronger, tongue-pressed-against-teeth, from the back of the throat. 'Dhaulakuan'. A complete tempest of a word.

The air smells of dust and dried flowers.

'Purani Dilli'. She reads, invoking Dalrymple's djinns. 'Shalimar Bagh', 'Hazrat Nizamuddin', 'Neeli Chatri', 'Kalkaji'. 'Hauz Khaz', 'Sarai Kale Khan' and then, 'Chirag Dilli'. "What an absurdly poetic name for a flyover," she thinks to herself. "Light of Delhi indeed!"

But she can't stop looking out the window, like some country bumpkin, trying to drink in a whole city in a half-hour trip. And her steady, senseless half-smile prompts her cab-driver to finally ask,

"Aap bahut dinon baad aayin hain madam?"

"Haan bhaiyya...kaafi dinon baad."

*Or, How to Make *Anything* Pretty.**
** I give her three days, tops. You?

Thursday, April 05, 2007

How to make an effective decision-making tool wish it had never been born

She sits on the cold floor, her back against the wall, her knees pulled up close to her chest and her arms wrapped around them. She picks up her pen, her sketch-pad, draws a line down the center of the page and starts writing.

1. "Lies. (in block letters, underlined twice. The second line so fiercely that the paper tears a little). Lies all the time. About everything. His family, his holidays, even his goddamn internships! Why would anyone lie about something like that?! I didn’t even get an internship, did it ever occur to me to lie about it? No! Lies about his mother, for crying out loud. Says she’s suffering from a life-threatening disease of the spine. And (of course!) she used to be a dancer. "

2. "Steals ideas from Creativity editions and passes them off as his own. I can’t believe how much I praised his India Ink idea, how slack-jawed with awe I was, how stupid I felt for not being able to come up with a concept even a fourth as intelligent as that. And how he was all modest and self-effacing about it. “Oh I was just doodling and it came to me. It’s no big deal.” Arrgh! D, you bloody stupid fool!"

3. "Copies down Robert Browning’s poems and claims he’s written them. Apparently, having the same initials as a Victorian poet implies that you are him. Apparently, he also thinks he’s the only one in college with a library card. And like that's not enough, he denies it so vehemently when confronted, that I begin to doubt myself.

And in the right column, in a much less forceful hand, she writes, “Makes me laugh.”

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Hot Chocolate and friends

They were together for about two months. Two months of dates in which he'd tell her stories of how he'd been with two women (twins, no less!) at the same time, how he'd been the stripper for his friend's bachelorette party, how he'd been picked up by so many women that he'd almost lost count; that he was a loner and 'not a nice guy'. And there she'd be, lying in his bed, in the dark of his room, thinking about the many faces people put on to hide hurt, and of how well both of them played the couldn't-care-less game.

She almost laughed at the fact that she was playing body-double for a girl whose ex-boyfriend was playing her rebound guy. Almost.

But the thing with body-doubles and ghost-exes, was that you knew they weren't the real thing - they weren't supposed to last. It was what they call 'a willing suspension of belief'. You bought your ticket, watched your movie, lived someone else's life for a few comfortably numb hours and then went back to reality.

Which is why when he started calling her again (a year after that movie ended) she refused to take his calls, deleted his number, then re-saved it as 'Bad Idea'*.

And then she remembered that one night when they'd been something like buddies. When they silly-danced with each other on You Sexy Thing - doing the butt-wiggle, the gospel-hands and the pretend strip-tease. For that one night, she had to admit, they had been friends...good friends. The kind who told you to stop whining and get on with your life. The kind that held your hand and fake-flirted you back to smiling, laughing and realising that life didn't stop just because people moved on.

she never did take his calls, but she smiles every time she hears that song.

*Which probably just goes to show that there's no such thing as a completely bad idea - 99% fucking stupid, yes, but hey, how else would you learn?

Monday, March 19, 2007

Oscar Material

A phone conversation with a friend, with whom I spent all 2 1/2 years of post-grad, just showed me that I am (despite the whole shy, quiet person deal) a frickin’ *brilliant* actress (or is that ‘actor’ now? Man, PC is so not my thing).

She: So I’m going to be in Bombay on Tuesday, and since you’re unemployed (yeah, rub it in, why dontcha? Bitch.) you’re coming out to meet me.
Me: *sigh* Oh alright, but there must be alcohol.
She: Yes, yes, there will be.
Me: Oh wait…you’re with Raymonds…which means, you’re staying in fucking Thane*!!
She: (shocked silence)
Me: (wonders what the hell the ‘shocked silence’ is all about)
Me: (slaps forehead as memory surfaces: this is the friend with whom I spent all of post-grad in Hyderabad)

Post-grad in Hyderabad = 2 1/2 years of not saying ‘fuck’, or c***, or even haraami out loud because the classmates would wince if I said anything stronger than kamina. The word ‘asshole’ would elicit horrified stares and the one day I said ch***** aloud, all the boys in my class - all fuckin’ 28 of them - drew in their breaths collectively and just stopped short of screaming ‘get thee behind me spawn of satan!’ and hiding behind the desks. It was just too tiring to train all of them into accepting that girls occasionally swore too (picking my battles and all of that), so I just switched to doing it in my head.

”Here is the *_______* project, you *_________*, *_________*, excuse for a project partner.”

”Keep your *_________* neanderthal ideas to your *_________* self, won’t you please?”

And I managed for 2 1/2 years. 2 1/2 years of being a ‘good girl’, of being a butter-wouldn’t-melt-in-my-mouth-no-siree girl and a who-needs-their-mouth-washed-out-with-soap?-not-ME girl.

Or alternately, 21/2 years of being the girl who spoke with inexplicable pauses in the middle of her sentences.

*By which I only mean really-really-*far*-from-where-I-live-Thane. I’m not a location snob** or anything.

** I’ve lived in Kandivali and Kalina. The latter, which is guaranteed to elicit looks of ‘Oh you poor thing! However did you *manage*?!’ So no, no location snobbery at all.

Friday, March 16, 2007


That the one day in the year that getting smashed out of your skull is legitimate, done, approved of, is the day yours truly was born.

Now I'm not superstitious, but really, coincidence?

I think not.

Happy St. Patrick's all! I'm off to get very, very drunk and pass out on a beach.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Television: How much is too much?

So we’re lying on the rug in a morning-lit room…my cheek against his back as I breathe in the smell of his cologne. He’s talking but I can’t hear what he’s saying - I’m listening to his voice, soft, low, drawly. He decides that this isn’t enough; I should know what he’s talking about. So he picks up a bunch of post-its and starts writing me notes. He scribbles, folds, then passes them over his shoulder, I open them and laugh. They’re drawings. Anatomical drawings, like the kind you see in biology textbooks.

And then goddamit, I wake up. And HE goes back to being gay*.

*Which is, of course, the only reason why we’re not a couple.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007


I dodge behind a pillar when I see them approach. I wear sunglasses and avoid eye contact with anyone once I step outside the building. I even take the stairs if I see that the lift is already occupied by one whole person.

You never know whom she’s gone and made friends with.

No, I haven’t suddenly decided to enter the gumshoe business, nor am I practicing writing a bad spy novel. What I am doing, is reeling in the aftermath of the four-foot-ten-inch hurricane of friendliness and outgoing that is my mother.

She was here for two days. Two measly days. And in those two days? She went and befriended, advised and made life-long devotees of everybody within a ten-mile radius of my life.

My frequent admonitions through gritted teeth as I tugged on her sari aanchal, were of no avail. No amount of - “Ma! Stop smiling at strangers in the lift!” and “You don’t have to make conversation with the sabziwalla for christ’s sake!” or even “Please ma, let him drive his cab. Do we really need to know which part of UP he’s from?” - helped. And now she’s gone, and left me to fend for myself against this sea of super-friendly strangers.

Somedays I am convinced that I am a victim of a baby-swapping episode.

In the last one-year, all my lift rides had been spent in a peaceful contemplative silence during which the lift-attendant and I conducted in-depth studies of our personal footwear. I wondered whether my shoelaces were tied into perfect bows, how the pink swoosh contrasted nicely against the dark blue background, whether the soles were bouncy enough…you know? Lift thoughts. Now? I am suddenly and without warning being addressed as ‘baby’ ('baby'??) and asked solicitous questions about whether the house-keeping staff turn up on time, whether my bai is doing her work well and that if I ever need anything, I only need to inform security to send ‘Manoj’.

Every gaggle of aunties I meet now, accosts me with friendly cries of “Hello beta! You must tell your mummy that the boy/medicine/yoga exercise she recommended for my young-female-relative/age-related-ailment/random-joint-pain worked wonderfully! She’s getting married! / I’m cured! /Look at me do cartwheels now!” At which I can only smile weakly and reply, “Yes auntie, I definitely will” because I have no idea who these women are.

The sabziwallas now all flash friendly smiles at me, conduct conversations in Bhojpuri, which I don’t understand and offer me vegetables I don’t know how to cook. When I tell them I cannot understand a word they are saying, they laugh and say, “Achcha aap nahin samajhti hain? Koi baat nahin. Apni mataji ko hamari taraf se namaste kah dijiyega.”

The neighbours, whom till today, I only knew as the people who shifted their furniture at odd hours of the night, now stop me and tell me what a nice, friendly, social lady my mother is.

I have to fight the temptation to lean against their shoulders and brokenly sob, “You don’t know the half of it!”

I’m sure my real mother is a quiet, reclusive academic, who lives in a small, secluded cottage in some remote hill station. And then I wonder how she must cope with her unintentionally adopted miniature hurricane.


Update on the Baby Front:
The only thing more horrifying than your mother telling you to start making babies, is when she starts telling you how.

Excuse me while I go and pick up my ears. They sort of melted off the sides of my head while she was talking.

Friday, February 23, 2007

The Mommy Returns

Be afraid, be very afraid.

I've been practicing the eye-rolling and the exasperated sighing, only this time, the problem is likely to be slightly bigger than grimy masala bottles or recalcitrant maids.

I am being interrogated as to why, after a whole year of being married, I do not have anything substantial (i.e. a baby. or two, or three) to show for it.

My mother is strangely obsessed with babies. Strangely, I say, because people, she has had *five* of her own. Five. And like that's not enough? She now has four grandchildren. It seems that no matter how many babies there are in her immediate vicinity, there is always room for more*.

And whose job is it to fill up the empty-baby spaces? You guessed it! Yours truly.

Now, Yours Truly is rather partial to the creatures; she loves their little pudgy hands, their toothless grins and their small wiggly-ness, but has seen enough of them to know that babies are just little bundles of TNT, camouflaged in cuteness.

So while she might someday be persuaded to see her present life collapse like a house of cards, (only to be picked up, chewed, and drooled over), today is not that day.

And the next three years don't look like it either.

*You could stick my mother in a room full of babies and over the gurgling and crying and cooing, you would still hear her saying, "Send in the babies! We need more babies!!"

Friday, February 16, 2007

Because I am *nothing*, if not courteous.

Dear Spambots*,

I wouldn't know what tramadol, diet(?!) phentermine or carisoprodol were if they jumped up collectively and bit me. If they did, I would probably just wonder, "What are these things that have jumped up out of nowhere and why are they biting me?".

Yes, I'm slow that way.

But one thing I do know, is that I have never, at any point in my life, ever worried about my, err...staying power.

So you can stop offering me all the goddamn Viagra.


The Blogger Who Has Never Had to Worry About ED.

*If there's anybody out there who knows how to block/stop/destroy the damn things, help me! Please?

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

God is a Surly Cab Driver

Yesterday, after frantically running around in circles for a cab at Churchgate station, I find one, get into it and a little out of breath I ask the cab-driver:

Me: “Bhaiyya, aap Horniman Circle jaante ho?
Cab Driver: (in slow, deep, deadpan voice) “Main sab kuch jaanta hoon.”

There go my chances of ever getting into The Great Big Taxi in the Sky.

Blog-people, meet Henry, Henry, Blog-people.

Darlings! We’re back!

And oh it feels good to be back. A little strange also, because now we’re using a new computer (Henry), which is actually not new at all (and we mean that in the best way Henry, you know we always had a soft corner for the older ones), but it is much better than nothing.

Yes, that is it, my precious fluffy kittens. I was away because I was temporarily technology deprived - having quit old job and therefore, its accompanying spiffy laptop - and being back in employment limbo once again.

Somehow changing systems disorients me like nothing else - even if it involves moving higher up the technology pyramid.

I remember how strange it was to switch from a PC to Mac. My right hand index finger began to suffer from an identity crisis, all the keyboard shortcuts had to be re-wired in my brain and I had to get used to the CD drive as part of the monitor. That was the hardest part. I felt so guilty every time I inserted a CD into the drive, like I was violating my monitor in some horrible, unspeakable manner.

But then I got used to it and it got used to me and we got along well for almost two years. Until terminal wanderlust reared its ugly head and I was once again, forced to get used to a new computer – this time, a laptop.

The only thing I disliked about the laptop was the touch pad. I hated the unpredictability of it, the easiness of it. The darn thing worked no matter where you touched it, and even when you didn’t mean to. You know? Like it had no boundaries. You could never get comfortable with a touch pad; make friends with it, because it was always too aloof. There was just no sense of discovery, and…settling in and you know, familiarity. And it was just unnatural to have to use digits from both hands to click and drag things from one folder to another.

But I did love the whole oyster-shell-y-ness of it. The way it closed up and kept your secrets until the time you felt like raising its lid again. And of course, the fact that it took up so little space on our tiny dining table (which we have never, till date actually dined at) on which we keep everything else that that we don’t know where to keep.

So (sigh) I fell in love with laptop too and when it went away, I was beset by inexplicable urges to break my chooris against the nearest wall.

But now I have new-old system (Henry) and I’m happy again! Henry, blog-people, has a CPU! Isn’t that so adorably quaint? And a floppy drive (floppies! Do you have fond memories of floppies? I do)! And a keyboard that goes clickety-clack when I type and has, for some reason which I cannot fathom, a bright red ‘i’ key*. The mouse is huge compared to my last three mice (this sentence is beginning to sound inexplicably dirty to me) and my hand suddenly seems small in comparison.

I know now that the shift key on the right of the keyboard is on the shy side; she takes time to open up. Mr. Mouse is thankfully, not moody at all (unlike the last Mr. Mouse who needed to be picked up and shaken every few minutes to get the cursor to move) and I have dropped ceremonial cookie crumbs on the last row of keys.

This could be the beginning of beautiful friendship.

*A hint, you think? Does it mean I need to start talking about myself more? Is that possible? I think not.

Monday, January 29, 2007


(Many, many spoilers ahead)

'Tedious, long and requires two aspirin' is how we'd describe this movie.

This is a lumpy-patchwork-quilt of stories from Shall We Dance, Love Actually, Raja Hindustani (why, WHY would anybody do this??) and Pyar ke Side Effects. Nikhil Advani, the director of Kal Ho Na Ho (which we thought was eminently watchable), brings you six love stories in one movie. Most of them badly written, vaguely connected, and interspersed with songs which prove to be the Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy trio's worst movie score so far.

What *happened* boys??

Whither the young-and-in-love perkiness of Kuch to Hua Hai? Or the happy-bollywood-shaadi-ness of a Maahi ve? Or even the eighties-disco-sity of, well, It's the time to Disco? Where has it all gone? Okay granted, there is the title track which is okay (thought it lacks a certain something) and the Tenu leke main javanga* which starts off well, but somehow loses direction after the opening bars. And as for the Babuji dheere chalna remix...*pained sigh*. We don't know what to say anymore boys, really we don't. Except maybe, WHAT ON EARTH WERE YOU THINKING?? It's *ghastly*! You've done absolutely nothing with that song and it's completely pointless to throw in an old song unless you put a new spin on it (think Bluffmaster and Sabse bada rupaiyya).

On to the stories now.

Priyanka Chopra and Salman Khan: KKamini (Priyanka) is an item girl who dreams of being cast in a Karan Johar movie. Rahul (Salman) is a con-man (in the first half of the movie), who plans to make big bucks out of a publicity stunt staged by Priyanka, which involves her falling in love in with a mysterious man who will eventually die. Priyanka is not terribly convincing as the wannabe-bollywood-starlet, but gets better in the second half of the movie. Salman is ...there, doing what he does (I considered saying 'acting' but I think I'd be pushing the word too far).

Ayesha Takia and Akshaye Khanna: Gia (Ayesha), is Shiven (Akshaye)-the-commitment-phobe's long-suffering girlfriend. Hiccups in their relationship are overcome by Ayesha's unwavering faith in Akshaye UNTIL she comes across a video-recording of Akshaye in a drunken moment, telling her that he can't see himself getting married.

A fairly decent performance by both of them. Akshaye carries off comedy better in this than he manages in Hulchul and Ayesha is convincing as the girlfriend who-has-had-enough.

Anil Kapoor and the Bimbo: This story has just about as much substance as clear soup. Vinay (Anil Kapoor) sees bimbo (Anjana) on train and is hypnotised by her cleavage. Bimbo drops diary on train. AK finds diary and despite diary containing no details of address/telephone number/last name, AK manages to locate bimbo who is (surprise! surprise!) a St. Vitus' itch dance carrier teacher to a bunch of foreigners who are attending her class to (presumably) get a nasty skin disease a taste of Indian Culture (ri-i-ight).

(Honestly, if THAT is what mid-life crisis does to you then I refuse to have it. I absolutely REFUSE. Anything that can make you think that extreme dumbness + cellulite + hotpants (aarrgghh!) + graceless dancing + a godawful remix of Babuji dheere chalna = Hot, is NOT something I will have anything to do with thankyouverymuch)

Bimbo, when done with her demonstration of the 'truly horrid things you can do to audiences in three minutes' squeals with joy when presented with her diary and gives AK a peck on the cheek for being such a sweet guy (because of course, guys who ogle at your cleavage are so sweet!), and AK is promptly smitten.

Juhi Chawla, as AK's devoted wife, and mother of his two children, plays the doormat to a T, sacrificing all her dreams so that he can fulfill his. You will be tempted at this point, to wonder if her character is just partially blind or mildly deranged. Apparently, according to the film, she is neither.

Govinda and Shannon Ersa: One of the best/most entertaining stories in this entire film. Govinda is the die-hard-romantic taxi-driver who dreams of falling in love with a white woman. On cue, Shannon enters his life only, she has come to India to win back her Indian boyfriend who refuses to marry her because his family wants an Indian daughter-in-law. Govinda, predictably enough, vows to help her find the absconding boyfriend (because he 'louwes' her!), and together they traipse across the length and breadth of India, where they are met with they-just-left-here stories in all their pit-stops.

John Abraham and Vidya Balan: Johnny boy and Balan play a happily inter-religion-married couple until Balan has an accident and suffers from amnesia. Johnny boy then spends the entire second half of the film taking her to places and meeting people in an effort to get her memory back. Balan is much better in this film and appears to have realised that coy-eye-rolling does not a good actress make. Johnny boy is better than he was in Taxi No. 9211 (which is actually not saying much, but it's the best we can do).

Arbaaz Khan and Isha Kopikkar: Arbaaz and Isha are the frisky newly-weds whose attempts at having sex are thwarted everytime by a. a dupatta catching fire and burning the house down, b. an audience of five children, c. a runaway car and d. an errant rig which holds up Arbaaz's plaster-cast-leg, in that order. We figured that this was an attempt at comedy.

To summarise, watch it if you have plenty of free time. And yes, aspirin.

*And I get that throwing in Punjabi lyrics has proved successful in the past but MUST you force the language down our ears this way? Isn't that the most clumsy set of lyrics ever? What was wrong with saying it in Hindi??

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Step up! Step right up!

All ye who have drunk mothers' milk to participate in these writing contests!

I'm off to get me some coffee.

Friday, January 19, 2007

He Gives Me Fever.

Where have all the good diseases gone?

Y'know the ones when a girl simply wasted away into a wisp of her former self?

And it's not like I never had them, I did. A whole series of them, in fact. When I was EIGHT. And looked like a stick insect with eyes. When 'overweight' and 'diet' were words which would have elicited nothing more than a supremely blank expression* and tyres were the things that cars moved on. THAT'S when the immune system thought, "Hey! Let's let in all these glorious germs and so what if she doesn't have an extra ounce on her!"

But now, NOW when I could do with a bit (oh alright a *good* bit) of wasting away, what does the immune-system go and get? The goddamn sniffles. So now I have the temperature, the assorted aches and pains, the blocked nose and the sore throat - what I don't have though, is ANY AMOUNT OF WEIGHT-LOSS WHATSOEVER.

I want my money back.

*Although to be honest, 'supremely blank' was pretty much the default expression for most of my childhood. NOT the most 'with it' kid in our brood, the parents would have said**.

** With a puzzled 'I wonder where we went wrong with this one' expression on their faces.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Want a Green Card?

Think again.

A question that worries me a little though - how do they intend to check?