Wednesday, December 31, 2008

today

I had this premonition that the year would end badly. Infact the year had started better than last year with the official end of a tag that had lost its meaning long back. But if today is any indication, I am glad the year will end in a few hours.
It begins with Ma not being well. She is the absolute pillar, I mean, the household just comes to a stand still without her being at the helm. Yes. We are a bunch of throughly spoilt housemates who depend on Ma for everything from the oats for breakfast to mosquito repellant at night. It is another matter that she loves her part and would get offended if we ever learnt to fend for ourselves.
So today, thanks to yours truly, the oats got overcooked and the bread under-toasted (yeah!) and all sat sullen quiet at the table. Then since both the cars decided to take a break (one was out of fuel, the other a flat tyre) I began the task of 'hailing an autorickshaw'. Yes. you got to stand at the side of the road wearing a sorry look so that the auto fella might take pity. But no, they don't fall for it. After begging for half hour one of them said yes. Halleluiah! But joy is shortlived. As it turns out he has a mysterious 'starting problem' half way through at a traffic signal. So began the task of 'hailing' one more autorickshaw. Pain doubled. Finally, an old man agrees.
Despite the trouble I reach office early. For once, much earlier than my boss. Someone should have warned me of the explosives waiting in my mailbox.
Day's not over yet....hmmm!
Everyone is asking what's the plan for the evening. Well. I wonder why we make such a jamboree on last day of a year? Tomorrow we are all back at work, groggy and bored. So why bother? Infact my father had planned to take us out for dinner but I thought the crowd will be noisy. He had given me a 'what's wrong with you' look and walked off. Old old old...that's me.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

when we get lost somewhere...

there is always a stray piece of lonely cloud that grabs one's senses. At once everything else is momentarily irrelevant.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

I watched ‘Dil Kabaddi’ yesterday after scooting from work early. It wasn’t planned (I hadn't even heard of it till I entered the theatre) but turned out ok. The benefit of recession is that at least in Bangalore one can now land up in a theatre and buy tickets unlike earlier. This, despite yesterday being a holiday for most people. The theatre was empty and the popcorn crisp. I had my best pal for company who turned round and said ‘This is about my life!’ every 2 minutes. I agreed and we promised to write a radio script someday soon. Otherwise a forgettable film once you are out of the theatre except that I LOVE Rahul Bose. Eaah. The dark circles and his slow Hindi nothwithstanding.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Two images from Kolkata.
First was the Jethro Tull & Anushka Shankar's concert in Science City Auditorium on 27th Nov 08. Without exception Tull concerts are lyrically enjoyable.
Second one is one of the many reactions to what happened to Mumbai. 'We cry with you, we pray with you, we stand by you'

I love the taste of stale cigarettes in your kiss. We should kiss more often.

I love the silly banter about my school. We should talk more often.

I love losing miserably to you in Scrabble. We should play more often.

just a woman

‘So what do you think of my tie?’ He throws the question at her pinning her with a dismissive look.

Grotesque. She thinks. ‘It’s nice.’ She says trying to smile.

‘Nice? Nice! That’s a bastard of a word!’ He screams. She flinches involuntarily moving back in her chair. Creak. ‘It has no meaning.’ He continues. ‘Rain is nice. Icecream is nice. Sex is nice. Hmmm!’

‘I mean, Sir. It is pretty.’ She trails off, the last syllable inaudible. She thinks of their terrace at home where the ‘achaar’ is soaking the afternoon sun in the ceramic white and yellow jars. She doesn’t want to be in this room with a white haired balding man wearing a red tie with severed horse heads painted in black. He looks at her as one would look at a crawling bug before smashing it with the tip of the shoe. She has never felt so small. He bends towards her waving the tie near her face ‘Is that what you will say to our client’s customers? Buy this Sir. It is pretty?’

She holds the arms of her chair tight. She tries to wriggle her face away. But it is too late. She feels it gushing out. Aaachoooh! The horse heads are now wet and drippy like they were dropped in a vat of glue. He goes in a paralytic shock his mouth open and looking at what was once a tie. She gets up, pushes her chair back blindly and runs to the door. Three doors later she is on the street. Stops a passing autorickshaw and breathes for the first time after the splatter. That was her first job interview.

Should she head back to her aunt’s place? Her aunt is actually her mother’s childhood friend. She has sometime heard about her from her mother but had never seen her before. When she told her mother she was coming here for the interviews, she had resisted at first. Young girl. Strange city. High crime rate. Etc. But on her father’s insistence suggested that she stays with her old friend at least till she finds a job and a place to stay. ‘But Ma, I don’t know her. I can’t just barge in and expect her to keep me!’ she had protested. A budget hotel was her plan till she found a decent place to stay. ‘No.’ her mother had insisted. ‘In a new city, it is always better to stay with someone you know and trust. Besides, we were like family when we were kids. She practically grew up in my house. She hated her step mother and spent all her waking hours in our house. She will be happy to have you there.’ So it was final. Address given. Phone numbers exchanged.

After the initial awkwardness she found Bela mashi very pleasant. She was very different from her mother of course. Bela mashi stays alone with a maid for company after she lost her husband early in their marriage. She doesn’t have any children and has a whimsical, romantic view of life. Something that she finds immensely attractive and uplifting. Her mother would have never agreed to having ice-cream late in the night nor has she seen her mother ever wear a satin nightdress to bed. In the last three days since she got here she has been very well taken care of. But staying longer would be taking advantage of Bela mashi’s good nature. No, she had to find a place to stay.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

chance?

Was it chance that just now when I went to the liquor shop next to my office, I find it filled with women aged 60 to 16? The shop owner is the only man. I had to stand in a queue with babbling women all buying alcohol for their fathers, brothers, 'friends'. The two girls infront are definitely below the permissible age for drinking. The shop owner doesn't blink. Infact, he has his whole family helping him out in the shop including his 10 year old daughter and pretty wife. Ms. Bubbly infront of me orders a list ranging from whiskey to rum with such finesse that I cower in shame. Then finally she says 'a chota smirnoff for me'. Giggles. 'Give me too', Ms. Bubbly's mate cooes. 'The bottle is so cuuuute!' 60 ml of vodka each in their anorexic bodies. God help Goa.

Good news: I am in Goa.
Bad news : I am at a 2x2 office with a stone wall for a view.
Worse news: I have a belly full of fried fish and now barely able to stay awake.
Worst news: I have a meeting in 15 mins by which time I will fall on my desk and snore.
Hells bells news: I am gearing up to write a story for someone special which will be his ticket to Raindance.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

in one day

Today has been a very strange day. The morning rush of getting to work was usual. What was unusual was that I decided to wear my pista green ‘dakai’ saree complete with pearls, instead of the Saturday-denim and floaters. All this effort towards the wedding of a colleague in the late afternoon. The church where he was to say his vows, is a stone’s throw from office and therefore it made no sense to trek all the way home to change. Unlike many people I know, I consider it an insult to the host to attend a formal occasion, specially a wedding, in inappropriate clothes. Of course the attention my saree got at work can turn any one vain. After a leisurely lunch we walked to the venue just as the service began. I like church weddings. They are solemn, short and the music is pleasing to the ear. The groom sang soulfully. The bride beamed prettily. They exchanged rings and he kissed her on the cheeks (boring!). It was over. I was tired and my feet ached from cavorting in the high heels. I pictured an easy evening at home with my tea and my mother’s familiar gripe. Ah, the bliss of domesticity.

Half way home, an old colleague calls. I heard that my ex-boss's wife passed away after a tragic accident at home. I agreed to meet up with them and visit his house. Although our professional association had ended unpleasantly, this was not the time to remember that. He had come home to meet my parents when I had lost my brother a few years earlier and later he enquired regularly after my parents' wellbeing. His house was already filled with family and near ones. We heard how on the fateful Diwali night, her saree caught fire from the diyas at home and before she realized the extend, the fire had swallowed her in. He had been outside with the children who were busy with the firecrackers. The noise muffled her cries and when they finally got home, they found her burnt and unconscious in the bathroom. Since then she had been battling for life but just when the doctors gave a little hope of progress, it was brutally extinguished. The two young boys were still in shock. He looked stricken and there was nothing I could say except to hold his hand and nod briefly.

I had hardly imagined at the beginning of the day that in the next few hours, I would share someone’s most joyous moment and another’s most tragic. I cannot claim to be a close associate of either but it is only human to be touched in some way by the joy and sorrow of our fellow travelers with whom we share this journey called life.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Reactions during the news broadcast on Chandrayaan launch.

Ma: (with pride) Oh! Good! Now finally we are on the moon…

Ro: (confused) But….we have been on the moon looong back! Why do we need to go again? We can’t live on moon you know…no oxygen…so why send these space thingie?

Baba: Right! 42% of Indians don’t get enough to eat and our roads are as good as on moon! Why spend 280 crores on this? Silly ego!!

Ma: (looks at me for help)

I: I think they both have a point don’t you think?

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Inspiration eludes
Muse disappears
Spark dies
Charade crumbles
Faith waivers
Confidence shrivels
Hope dwindles
Commitment falters
Vision clouds
Goals shift.
So we learn to cope
Each day.
With a vacant smile
And blueberry cheesecake.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

god parade!

One other highlight of my recent trip to Himachal was the Dusheera mela in Kullu. Rustic and steeped in tradition, it was fantastically intriguing. Way back in mid 1600, the then Raja of Kullu brought back an idol of Ram from Ayodhya and established the Raghunathji temple in Kullu. From then on, every year on the dusheera day, the hundred odd villages in and around Kullu participate in the mela where they bring their village deity and assemble in the central ‘maidan’ to pay their respect to Raghunathji. What follows is a procession of all the deities led by Lord Raghunathji. All the village deities ‘sign’ attendance at Raghunathji temple before ‘they’ are allowed to take part in the parade. For the next one week all the deities are kept under ‘house arrest’ in a designated part of the ‘maidan’ before they are allowed to travel back to their native villages. Of course in the course of the week there are brawls among the villages as to whose deity is more ‘powerful’. Then the deities fight it out to establish supremacy. The police 'bandobast' was tight. Incidentally, HP has the highest percentage of hindus according to the last Census and ofcourse the current BJP govenment encourages participation.
We met travellers from near and far who had come to view the parade. A family from Tel Aviv with a tiny tot in tow, an old couple from Scotland, several families who had driven down from Delhi and a bunch of youngsters who were filming the festivities for Discovery.

Monday, October 13, 2008

call of the hills

I have been traveling in Himachal for the last couple of days. The trip was packed with the usual and sundry like Shimla and Manali and the exciting like Rotang and Keylong.

Shimla was a drab. Too many people, too many houses, too many vehicles and too few locals. It is just like any other congested town in north India. You might as well be sitting in Bhatinda or Hoshiarpur except for the comfortable chill at nights. In fact the traffic is as bad as Bangalore, if not worse.

Manali, is a true blue budget tourist destination. Hotels are mushrooming at an alarming speed as are tourist taxis. And there is cuisine for every palate from macher jhol to sushi. I tried the former but didn’t risk the latter, though the local trout (which are farmed extensively in the fast flowing brooks) were good. And no didn’t get my hands on manali cream. Having a small boy and an old man for company is a sure fire way to deter any dope dealer from approaching.

Rotang at 15500ft is a beauty. Icy and cold. Lofty and majestic. Sharp and threatening. But yeah as usual too many people. Yelling families, bawling babies, teenagers munching away and littering the mountains with empty packets of Lays and Kurkure. Goes to show our value system and education are totally awry.

Keylong, the capital of Spiti and Lahaul (between Manali and Leh) is still pristine. It remains cut off from the rest of the world from Nov to June since the Rotang pass closes in winter. An absolute beauty in its severity and starkness. One has to be there to experience the freezing nights and the silence that cleanses the soul. We had planned to get to Leh (2 days of bumpy bus ride from Keylong) but bad weather thwarted the plan and we landed up spending more time in Manali. If I did not have to worry about a livelihood, I would have settled somewhere in the hills inhaling the thin air and enjoying the quiet.

Well now I am back in Bangalore and back at work. Groan!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

last evening

A conversation between two men I live with, who are at opposite ends of the generation gap. The prompt was my arrival home last evening, with two tickets for today’s show of The Last Lear which I picked up to surprise my parents. (Ma is a Bachchan fan)

Ro: (runs to Baba) Dadu, Mommy got movie tickets and you and Didun are going on a date.

Baba: So we all will go..

Ro: No, it’s for you and Didun. You are going on a date. (smiles mischievously)

Baba: (looking surprised) Date? What is date?

Ro: (laughing hysterically) Mommy, Dadu doesn’t know what date means!!

Baba: Ok. So you tell me…

Ro: When a boy and a girl goes out alone.

Baba: (messing with his head) But if two of them are together, how can they be alone?

Ro: Uuff! Tumi kichhu bojho na! (you don’t understand anything!)

Monday, September 22, 2008

the vain and the vile

Pheww! It has been a while. Crazy travel schedule that got screwed up, viral attack that came from no where, family that chided unnecessarily, friends who distracted with attention, all plotted to keep me away from here. So feel free to castigate each and one of them for their misdeeds and ill judged enterprise. But well you can’t keep a loony too long in the bin, can you? So here it is.

Imagine. You in a strange wet city. Work piled up till over your head. And suddenly, The Viral lunges at you and despite your bravado you fall flat like the clumsy Humpty Dumpty. Now there is little you can do except for surrendering to a kindly friend’s hospitality. Like the legendary ‘kabab mein haddi’ you lodge between the husband and wife trying to blend in to the woodwork. In about 2 days The Viral gets bored and decides to surprise other unsuspecting victims. And you limp back to your life. Halleluiah!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Allow not nature more than nature needs, Man's life is cheap as beast's.

The only good thing that came off my recent trip to Pune was that I got to watched The Last Lear on the Friday it released here in India. I had gone with my workmates and most of them were shifting in their seats in discomfort and boredom and the only thing that kept them there was the fact that they couldn't desert me. But I ignored all their silent pleas and stayed on till the credits rolled. I liked what I saw. infact I liked it immensely. I confess, I am not an Amitabh Bachchan fan. But I came back impressed. Also, I watched Arjun Rampal on screen for the first time. He held his character well specially in scenes with 'Harry'. I have always liked Shefali Shah. I was surprised with Preity Zinta blending so well with the rest of the cast. Though I thought Divya Dutt stood out in the trio of women. Some of the dialogues were in bangla and there were no subtitles so the rest of the viewers in the near empty theatre missed some of the subtle flavours. But passion was the running theme of the movie. Each character had their own story of passion and the emotions that drive us beyond ourselves.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

It’s raining in Pune. Just a drab down pour. Not dancing and joyous streaks like Mumbai. Nor exciting and adamant rush like in Bangalore. Nor comfortable and reassuring like in Kolkata. Here it has no character at all. Nothing that would tell it apart.

I would head for my rented room soon and seek company in Unconsoled which I have finally started reading. I miss you. Your lighthearted banter. Your unhurried restlessness. Your sudden concern. Your quirky humour. Your spirited arguments. Your unabashed simplicity. Your childlike smile.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Yeah, heartbreak ain’t easy. Neither is letting go of desires and dreams. But after the juvenility of the sad song routine, the constant craving, the endless post mortem and mostly, the depressive self blame, the hurt settles into a dull ache. The sharpness of it smoothened by wisdom and reality. It still hurts when we pass our memories. But it doesn’t make us dysfunctional. Life, at the end of the day, is bigger and better. M shared her learnt wisdom with us over coffee.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Today while driving to work I saw a trio of a father and two young sons parking their two-wheeler at the side of the busy Hosur Road and relieving themselves on the compound wall of the Roman Catholic Cemetery. If you live around here, this sight is more common than cattle dung on the road. While we do lack adequate public toilets, as a nation we also have limited or negligible bladder control. And of course once you are dead you don’t mind who pees on the wall like you would when alive if someone unzipped in front of your house to give Niagara a competition. Reminds me of this raunchy horror story where a lewd spirit trapped in a WC would yank off private parts of men who went in the public lavatory to unload.

Monday, September 08, 2008

You said I have stopped being interesting. That I have stopped to inspire. That time with me was predictable and dreary. It hit me hard at that time like a sudden slap. But once the haze of the initial shock cleared I realized you are right. So I decided to do something about it. First, to surround myself with people who were happy and would be happy to see me. Known company works best.
Friday I met up with D and R at Mojos. D was his quiet self till his pals the other D and his brother turned up. R was his usual funny self and we got talking about Goa, food, fish (yeah!), books, music et al till the conversation got stuck predictably (thanks to D’s pals) on women, at which point his interest dropped sharply and he became the quiet one. Anyway R was gracious enough to drop me home without any cribs.
Saturday, Al invited a few of us to celebrate her recent engagement. She was beaming and gorgeous and finally at peace with her boisterous curls. We all met up in a café and then headed for TGIF. I was happy to meet M after such a long time. She is the calm one in the group and we bitched about work and the lack of it. But AP was the absolute riot. He is one person I would always respect despite him being a decade junior. A chilled out guy with wisdom beyond his years. His enthusiasm is infectious. A tough life hasn’t robbed his zest for life. I met him after many months and it felt like we have been talking everyday. He makes me laugh even on my shittiest day. He fills in for the brother I have lost.
The Sunday brunch with S had to be postponed since S is down with viral. So I had time to watch Music and Lyrics on HBO. I have always been a lyrics person. I laughed when ‘Sophie’ said melody is like sex, the instant attraction, but it is the lyrics that make the story of a song. Yes. Which is why I am never completely convinced till I understand the words of a song. In the evening, I watched Bhoothnath with Ro whose company made the movie enjoyable.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

round the mulberry bush...

It has been a while now that I haven’t felt motivated to write. Truth be told I haven’t felt like doing anything at all. Days became numbers on the MS Outlook calendar and the activities stretched to fill the day. I haven’t read anything in the last 2 weeks except for the special edition China NG. I haven’t watched anything except Singh is Kinng in 3 installments. I have been speaking less at work And even lesser at home. My brother used to say ‘this is where she travels INSIDE her head!’ Yes, I have been speeding and spiraling inside for no good reason. Not that all reasons are necessarily good. However, I am back.

I had planned to share some moments with someone faraway over the weekend. Then it didn’t work out, But other things did. Like the standing-ovation show the kids put up for us on Ganesh Chaturthi. Like the forthcoming weekend plan with A celebrating her recent engagement. Then the Sunday brunch with S since her HK travel got postponed.

Life is a basket of goodies. We just have to know where to look for them.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

A song in my heart...
anondo loke, mongola loke birajo sotto sundåro. mohima tåbo udbhasito måha gågon majhe bisso jågåto moni bhushån besTito Chåråne.

I woke up with one of my favourite songs buzzing in my head. I was singing while packing Ro’s lunch, humming through my bath and during my drive to work. And suddenly I feel happy. Not exhilaratingly happy but peaceful. A friend of mine often says, happiness and sadness are transient. What is most important is your peace of mind. True true true. I feel happy that I am alive. Happy that I still have so much to look forward to. And, finally, make something out of my ambition. My problems wouldn’t evaporate for sure. My finances need working on. My health needs to be taken care of. My career needs focus and drive. But today I shall park all of it and celebrate for a while. First, I have to train a bunch of kids for a dance recital next week. It would be a whole lot of fun arranging costume, making the props and mostly just letting them enjoy the rhythm. I have chosen a bangla folk song that celebrates the freedom from oppression. The only reason we live is to be happy. Yes, life is beautiful, for now.

and a smile in my soul!

“Don’t you ever shave, Mommy?" said the boy who-just-turned-eight. It startled his mother before she gave in to a bout of mirth. “Women don’t shave silly!” she said light-heartedly. “But look!” he said touching her eyebrows. And yes. Sure enough, her beauty salon appointment was long over due. But she never thought anyone was watching. From any other man, this would have been his death wish. But she has grown aware of her son’s discerning eye as he nonchalantly told her when she looked good and when she didn’t. And he did it with an ease that only children possess.

All her life, she has rarely given appearance any importance. At school she was a hockey-playing pimply tom boy with a hell with the world attitude. At college she changed into a dowdy bespectacled young woman who knew a Moog better than a mascara. First year at university went by listening to head-banging music, smoking pot and sniggering at women who spent money on lipsticks. At the university, she kept a measured distance from her glamorous hostel neighbour GG, the 5’7” slim, husky babe who was also blessed with a terrific brain (she is a top scholar and currently teaches at Harvard). At times she amazed at her ability to ‘live’ in a face pack while discussing the next assignment. GG used to practice strutting in her five inch stiletto up and down the first floor hostel corridor while the rest of the girls watched with admiration mixed with envy. The same GG, one day came into her room and asked her to loan her the black tartan top that she thought matched her black Ravi Bajaj miniskirt. GG’s admirers recoiled with horror. According to them it was a fashion faux pas. But GG went for the photo shoot with the borrowed tartan and apparently was admired and noticed by many happening Delhi couturier of that time. From then on GG would often come over to her room with armful of glam garb and ask for her opinion. “You have a sense of style” she used to say. “Why don’t you try some of it?” she had offered. But she refused politely, cocky in her feminism fired snobbery. The first dent came from an affair of hearts. “Behind all this cultivated retro snobbery you are actually quite pretty” K had quipped, risking a tirade. What ensued was a long sermon on MCP stereotyping and commoditization of women. But somewhere his comment had warmed her and slowly she changed. May be it was love. Maybe it was the fact that he noticed her beyond her wisecracks. First to go were her glasses. While she never transformed into the proverbial swan she caught unknown men staring at her and her male friends suddenly seeking her company and not just for a good conversation. But that was a long time ago. Today, her boy’s remark surprised her. Yes, life has come a full circle. She chuckled at her thought as she made a mental note to drop by the salon after work.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

As her hope plummets from the crest, she slides slowly but surely into a self-loathing despair. Once again.
She remembers the excitement and the amazement in the child’s voice, when they had gone to see his unfinished home, in which she had hoped to built her new life. She passed by the concrete structure today. Something sharp hit her gut compelling her to look at the still unfinished high-rise,  whose insides she will never see again.
”Are you crazy? Who would ever love you?” S had said with a cocky confidence in his ability to pull the strings of her life long after they had separated. The divorce left her financially crippled and emotionally stunted. She forgot how to respond to normalcy and became a parodied version of herself, clothing her desperation in excessive exuberance and her hurt in smooth stoicism. It was then that he offered himself. He gave her love and hope and dreams and she grabbed them like a starving child. She had never known happiness the way she had known with him. She gave herself to him, and the future, in their spirited stubbornness of making a life together.
But somewhere in that journey, in her dogged focus on clearing the brambles that clouded her path, she lost her love. She lost that one thing that held her whole. Today, in his cursory calls, in her rising despair, in her injured spirit, in the nothingness of the future, she tries to find a reason to live.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Do you remember the first time we spoke? A hesitant hello. Some static. Then rush of words. My hands shook a little but I hid it with exaggerated swagger in my voice. You were nervous too I am certain. For you faltered over my name once. I blushed till my ears felt hot. Somewhere we fell into native tongue. 30 minutes non stop. Then you said maybe I should get on with my day. It was a Saturday. Same day two years ago.

My house burnt down.

Now I can better see

The rising moon.

- a haiku by Basho -

Seed
Life
Hope
Love

Saturday, August 09, 2008

what I am reading right now...

I have just started reading Adechie's book having read Purple Hibiscus before. Hauntingly raw. No, I haven't got to the gore yet. So far it is a tapestry of bare human emotions.

Friday, July 25, 2008

You alone will kill the lunatic in your head that led you to reckless desire.
You alone will pick the pieces and put them back together with glue.
You alone will tell the truth to your parents.
You alone will ask the boss to reconsider the plan to replace you.
You alone will tell yourself not to cry even when no one is watching.
You alone will build that wall. Yes, alone.
You alone will be the key to your survival.
You alone will love yourself once again.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

@airport

I just did something that I have never never done in my life. The very thought mortifies me to the core. The questions – how COULD I? - is running repeatedly in my head. Though I have managed the immediate fallout, the fact that I have committed it doesn’t change one bit.

Well, I missed my flight. Big deal, you might say. Now, I missed it while loitering inside the terminal after security check. This must be one in a million case. I got up at 5 to get packed and ready much before time. Even reached the airport early. Till security check it was peeerfect. Then without looking at the watch (yes, I have started wearing one precisely for that reason!) I strolled into the book section of the 1st floor departure terminal. Picking up books at random I read atleast 10 back covers. Finally I decided to buy Chariots of God? By Eric Von Daniken completely unaware that my flight has left with my 04A seat vacant. Slowly I amble to Gate 10 and sit down only to realize that the entire bay is empty. Still I didn’t think of looking at my watch. The airline lady at the gate smiles and says “Ms. Bose ? Your flight has left 10 mins back. We called your name repeatedly”. Crash Boom Bang! I have a 20 member team waiting for me at Hyderabad with whom I have a training session! When is the next flight? 1.30pm. What?? 4 hours! "M’am we will check if there is availability for that flight." Airline lady smiles vaguely. I feel she has overdone her face. Too much red!! (panic makes me notice the most irrelevant detail) Anyway, after a bit of running up and down the stairs and easing cash out of wallet I get my fresh ticket and go through security check once again with the lady officer looking puzzled. "Madam you passed the Security sometime back. Didn’t you?" Now it’s my turn to look sheepish. Yes, I missed my flight. She shuts up and smiles. Thank God for small mercies. So here I have parked myself at the cookie shop. 2 more hours to go.

Just now, while I was writing this, I met my ex-boss and his closest crony. They are headed for Pune. Good luck I said. He asked for my business card and said he would be in touch regarding a business proposition. When you become an ex-employee the power equation shifts dramatically. And well what can I say..I am lovin’ it! Now, 1 ½ hour to go…

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

of reading and reminiscence..

I read the last page and closed Ghosh's ‘Dancing in Cambodia’ and let out a sigh. I hadn’t realized I was holding my breath for so long. I found the collection of travel essays as intriguing as they are moving. ‘At Large in Burma’ filled me with nostalgia since like Ghosh I too have heard stories from extended family having old and deep rooted ties with Burma. But unlike him never have bothered to commit them on paper to create a concrete memory. Curiously, reading about Pol Pot made me wonder how distorted psyches like his develop within the framework of civil human society, the effect of libertarian education on ‘radicalization’ and why we repeatedly let genocidal idealists get their way. But one thing, demented as they are, something has to be made out of their unwavering dedication to their ‘belief’. Most of us are too pliable to give in to the rigidity of a belief. If you smell admiration, it isn’t so. Just wonderment at human nature and a reminder that we are all anything but mortal.

Monday, July 07, 2008

I am not sure what hurts more. The notion of losing you or the dread that I might have already lost you. I have always thought letting go wasn’t that difficult. After all, I have had to let go once too often and have always survived. I believed my self to be the ace in handling deception, desertion and defeat. I could swim through it all with my armour of indifference and artifice. Then you happened. With you I learnt to not take myself for granted. I learnt to live a little. I learnt to give myself to a moment without holding back. I learnt to dream again. The dreams that were once laid to rest and the new ones, we dreamt together. Today, I will hurt without healing. Break and wouldn’t mend. Let go without moving on. And I know I will wait. Even if it takes forever. Cause our destinies are together. And one doesn’t fight fate.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

you

Watching the rain in the morning, I sit on the unmade bed and think about you. You always said rain in Mumbai looks pretty. So I watch. The silver streaks on the glass wall of my room making patterns of abstract fantasy. The horizon stretching grey sheet that hijacked the blue sky. Weekday morning rush of multi coloured umbrellas on the road far below.
But all I think about is you.
I missed you on the empty seat next to me on the plane. I missed your blissful sleepy face on the pillow next to mine in bed. I missed you cuddling up with me under the sheets while still half asleep. I missed your open-capped shampoo bottle in the shower cubicle. I missed nuzzling my face in your towel that always smells of you. I missed having my clothes next to yours in the wardrobe. I missed our slippers getting all mixed up under the bed. I missed sharing a cigarette with you after making love. I missed the roughness of your stubble and the softness of your kiss. I missed you lying naked next to me and talking about your favourite author. I missed our long calls on silly childhood whims and ghost stories. I missed sharing your ipod ear piece and listening to our favourite songs together. I missed you teasing me till I burst in frustration, that seems to always amuse you. But most of all I miss your smiling eyes that say, I love you.

Monday, June 16, 2008

I am reading Murakami’s ‘Kafka on the Shore’. I am reading it despite the popular reviews agreeing that this is not Murakami’s best. In fact some go on to say it is disappointing (while searching for the image in Google today, I read a few reviews). But as with the rest of the books that I read, I never read a review/research a book before reading it. Usually I am led by instinct. Obviously not a very rational way of going about buying books. But then I am not very rational even otherwise. For most of my life I have been led by instinct. I am still reading the book and I am not disappointed. Probably because I started it with zero expectations. But any way the running theme of the book is Fate and how we are led by it and there is nothing called free will with dark shades of a Greek tragedy loom large. The book begins interestingly enough. A mysterious WWII incident, talking cats who adore Puccini, a curse that ties the fate of all the characters, an alter ego dressed as a whiskey brand, a ‘spirited’ pimp who is the KFC guy, a painting that inspired a song track and of course women who are all nubile and pretty. Yes, it is dragging a little towards the middle albeit ‘metaphorically’. But there is a kooky sense of unrealism that draws me to it which makes me wish I could read the original Japanese. (Cheesy translations like ‘Jeez Louise!’ is as un-Japanese as it can get’).

Friday, June 13, 2008

How can you not love a man who is willing to bear your heavy cross without even a question?

How can you not love a man who finds you beautiful when you know you are at your worst?

How can you not love a man who has made your happiness his mission?

How can you not love a man who inconspicuously slips in a wad of money in your hand when you are out shopping with his family, at once indulgent and protecting your pride?

How can you not love a man who reaches out and holds your hand gently every time you cross a road together knowing you are capable of crossing it alone anyhow?

Finally, how can you not love a man who finds your noisy snoring cute? Yeah he said so.

no answers

Is it wrong to choose your life over others? Even if the others are whom you owe your life to? Does it make you a pathetic self seeking pervert? Is it wrong therefore to take control of your own destiny without being at the mercy of time and circumstance? Is it so hateful an act to seek what is forbidden to you? Is it wicked to take a chance at happiness? Is it treachery to try to change the course of your life through grit and hope instead of fate? Is it audacious to demand more that what is destined? Who sets the boundaries and who makes the rules?

Monday, June 02, 2008

What she must do:
Focus on her work. God knows she needs the money.
Pay more attention to her responsibility.
Get her finances in order.
Have a plan to cope.
Build that wall.
What she wanted to do:
Retire.
Build a home.
Love unconditionally.
Belong.
Learn how to paint.
What she does:
Gets misty eyed during an office meeting.
Prays for strength.
Blames herself.
Promises to never tempt fate again.
Tells herself to keep faith.
All she ever wanted was that little place in someone's heart where she belonged.
She was drowning. The swirl of sparkling green salty sea water was all around her. And the silence. Deafening and final. A moment ago, her father was holding her and nudging her to jump with the oncoming wave. She was with her family, visiting Puri for their summer holiday. A moment later she was underwater. Her father wasn’t holding her anymore. At seven, one doesn’t really get scared of dying. But she felt lonely, for the first time. Suddenly all alone. The water around her was filled with froth and bubbles whispering eka eka eka.
The protagonist from her favourite author says, ‘You don’t know which way to turn to climb out of loneliness. So you turn which ever way you can.’

Thursday, May 29, 2008

of breaking

As the glass shattered with a soothing clink into innumerable twinkling pieces on the cool granite, she wondered what heartbreak sounds like. Is it like the unimpressive thud of a heavy stone sinking in the opaque green of a eutrophic pond, silent and easily forgotten? Or does it shatter like an expensive crystal chandelier crashing majestically, regal even till the end? Or does it rip silently like a scalpel slicing fresh cadaver on a post mortem table, neat and almost bloodless? Or does it sizzle like butter on a heated frying pan, at once pleasant and enticing? Or does it break like the frightening crack of bones while burning at the cremation pyre, loud and defying? She has never been able to decipher the sounds of frozen hope, broken dream and an aching heart. The euphoria of last week seems to evaporate like finely ground camphor till all that is left is the nothingness of reality.

a love story

They were meant to be together. But since they last met, their lives have taken separate twists and turns till at the final bend they found each waiting for the other. Like the old forgotten prophecy, once more, they realized they belonged together. This was the day he was to bring her home. The anticipation was palpable. The nervousness was making her slightly queasy. Her happiness was finally within her reach.

Before she boarded the plane he said softly, “Today I did something I have never done before”. “Tell me, please!” she insisted. “No, you got to wait and see for yourself” he laughed.

It was late but he was waiting for her at the airport and they held their hands together all the way home. With no appetite for dinner they longed to be alone together. Switching the bedroom lights on, he stepped back. Lying coyly on top of the chest-of-drawers, was a bunch of yellow roses, a large box of her favourite chocolate, a card with ‘Thank you for your unconditional love’ written in red and a heart-shaped key chain saying ‘I love you’. Overwhelmed, she forgets to tell him that she has never been loved like this before.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

madness and tranquility

Well I'm shamemeless

when it comes to loving you

I'll do anything you want me to

I'll do anything at all.

And I'm standing here for all the world to see

Oh baby, that's what's left of me

Don't have very far to fall.

Garth Brooks

Monday, May 12, 2008

bogus vote, books and bootlegging

It was an extra ordinary Saturday. For one, it was the election day here. A day to decide whether once again the aam janta would be held at ransom by shared arrangements of power and the subsequent ‘betrayal’ during the post election horse trading. Anyway to move on with the day, the honest, hard(ly)working me worked as usual. Then decided to catch up with my best bud over lunch who incidnetally had exercised his franchise but didn't know who he voted for. Too much pressure he said. Yes, I believe him. The lunch proved to be an exercise in patience since we realized a tad late that most of the eateries serving alcohol were shut. Now, I don’t understand this but I shall leave it for later. We managed to find a table at the over crowded Only Place thanks to my charming ways (hmm!). And yes, there were the red checked table cloth, the afternoon heat, the whirring fan that did nothing for the heat, the kissing couple who fed each other morsels from a plate (yes, morsels), the man at the next table who wanted fresh butter on his steak(!) The meal turned out decent including the blueberry cheese cake, which, those who eat out with me know, is my current favourite dessert.

Lunch done, we decided to head for Blossoms and try our luck. (Blossoms is this cult book store on Church Street that usually gives fantastic deals on new and old books). So we went in to hunt, completely swathed with the smell of fresh and used books. I got lucky with one each of Ishiguro, Garcia, Kafka, Tolkien (promised myself I shall initiate someone into it) and Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni. No, I am not giving away the titles yet. I wanted to pick up Anjum Hasan’s Lunatic in My Head but the lady was helpful enough to take down my request with a promise to call me when it arrives. (update: she kept her promise and I am picking it up today!) My buddy picked up a few old Grishams and the adorable “Marley & Me” We reach the counter to pay for our loot. Before Buddy Boy can grab his wallet I shove my plastic at the man at the counter. Buddy Boy protests, but the supercilious I say ‘Owners keepers!’ Buddy Boy goes quiet and starts to look uneasy. Oh, how silly, I think, gloating at my instant wit. The POS machine emits funny sounds and gives up. ‘Disconnected’ it flashes. While I am convincing counter guy to try again Buddy Boy slips his card to the man and keeps his eyes away from me. This time a smooth swipe and the machine obviously likes him and prints the slip for signing. I feel a smile slowly creep at the corner of his mouth. The counter guy hands me the packet. Buddy Boy slips in his hand and coolly takes over the parcel from the man and turns towards me and whispers, ‘What did you say just now? Owners keepers…eh?’

We don’t speak till we reach the neighbouring Beer Café and order coffee (no alcohol service remember!). Then he bends close to me and grins ‘But there’s a lesson in this.’ Flushed with embarrassment I run my eyes over the fat packet of books that he now gets to take home. He says slowly, drawing each word so that there is no wayt I miss a single one, ‘Remember, there are many a slip between the swipe and the sweep’ followed by a cheshire grin. So, you are going to hold this against me for the rest of our lives. It was a statement. Yes of course, he says. And rest assured your grandchildren will know about your foot in the mouth wit ha! He is right. I know he would do that to me. Please can I have some of the books? But he has already moved on to other things. Life, lovers, parents, friends, property, travel plans pass us by till dusk appears. Time to go I say. He too had to meet up a friend from out of town. As we walk down to our cars we talk shop some more. No, I have no books to take home. We say bye and I get into my car. Before I slam the door, he hands over the book packet with a smile. Grin. Thank God for best buddy!

Later the same night, I get an urgent call from Buddy Boy who proclaims eternal love in exchange for a promise that I wouldn’t refuse a request. Ok, what is it now? We are having a boys’ night out and we do not have any booze. We scanned the entire city but nothing. Can you please sneak a bottle from your dad’s bar cabinet? We are waiting at the entrance of your apartment block. Fantastic! Not only will I be a thief in my own home, but a bootlegger too! I can go to jail!!!! Fine, I will see what I can do, but gimme some time! Finally, wrapped a Red Label in a lingerie store bag (to deflect suspicion) and met them downstairs. The gents thank me profusely and head off to the party. So now I am hoping my dad doesn’t find out and neither the cops. But as someone says, ‘It’s your good deed for the year and you are absolved of all sin that you may commit this year’. So I am taking it in the right spirit. Wait a minute did I say spirit?

Monday, May 05, 2008

dream of the blue turtle...

Once upon a time the turtle of hope built a fortress around her heart. No I wouldn't let anyone hurt you he cooed. But the foolish heart had other plans. It slips past the old turtle and went to town swinging to its own tune. The turtle woke up dissappointed. How could she? Did I not tell her how wicked the world was? And so the heart found out. Burned and battered it returned. The turtle soothed the hurt, washed the wounds until the heart was good as new. Stay inside the turtle warned. But foolish she always has been. Slipped out once again, flushed with freedom and singing a strange new tune...

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

wisdom@poorabednes

Change is constant. From a moment to a minute, from a year to an evolution.

We all are evolving physically towards death and emotionally towards redemption.
She cried in her bed leaving ugly wet splotches on her cold pillow that irritated her cheeks. For the first time she didn’t dwell in what brought them about and let the tears roll in quiet dignity. Was she overwhelmed when her little one surprised her with a poster saying 'I Love Mommy', in her bedroom? Was it knowing that someone is disturbed and she cannot give a tight hug to say you will feel better soon? Was she jarred by a stray stranger praising her eyes, little knowing the sadness they have seen? Was it the ‘Your smile lights up my day’ message her workmate wrote on chat, unaware of the effort it takes to smile through it all? Was it even the fall out with her best bud and the hurt and disappointment she knows they both feel? Or was it the shinning tinsel of raindrops under the halogen light that she stayed back to watch after everyone left office? It didn’t matter. The only thing that mattered was the sense of release. She knew she will feel better tomorrow. She always does, eventually.
Today she is like a confused mess of overdone spaghetti. Mangled, hard and lumpy. And wanting to hide under the lid. The strange yet familiar emptiness is back. Not the unhappy one that causes tightness in her chest. But one that makes her dizzy after retching. Like something bad is over but not sure what happened instead, was good either. There is a faint surge of anticipation too. Like something good is happening but not immediately apparent. So the dancing rain drops on the glass didn’t excite like always. The lunch didn’t prompt animated conversation. The tasks just sat on her desktop waiting for her attention. The promise of a surprise at home didn’t enthuse as much. All she wants is to get in bed and pull the blanket over her head like when they were children, imagining they have disappeared from the world for a while. If only wishes were fireflies…

Saturday, April 26, 2008

if life was a song..sing along!

The best part of my work day is the drive to work with the radio on. Today was totally amazing. What amazed me follows:

Rotterdam by Beautiful South (brilliaaant song! The voice just glides echoing a tinge of melancholy….‘Rotterdam or anywhere Liverpool or Rome. 'Cause Rotterdam is anywhere. Anywhere alone.’ Love it love it love it!)

No Particular Place To Go by Chuck Berry (Ohh this is my ‘pick me up’ song – absolute fun!)

Moondance by Van Morrison (Mmmm. Romantic. Eager. Just something you would want to hear on a Saturday morning when you want to be curled up with a warm someone)

Sometime Love Just Ain’t Enough by Patty Smyth and Don Henley (Yes. A sad song. BUT it is just so MY song ‘But there's a danger in loving somebody too much and it's sad when you know it's your heart you can't trust. There's a reason why people don't stay where they are. Baby sometimes love just ain't enough.’ Henley wrote this for me. I know.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

‘New life devolves day by day
As friends and neighbours turn away
And there’s a change that, even with regret, cannot be undone’
Sorrow ~ A Momentary Lapse of Reason ~ Pink Floyd

While dealing with change both big and small she has learnt to adapt. And she has learnt to let go. Of prejudices and vanity. Of pigheadedness and servility. Some say she has let go of reason and sanity. But she is learning to forgive. The one that hurt. The one that judged. The one that doubted. So that she is free. Free to live a moment. Free to dream. Free to make a mistake. And free from the guilt of failure. Her entire life she has been trying to be someone else’s idea of who she should be and it has only led to misery. Yes, times are changing. And change is painful. It is also scary. She doesn’t know what the future holds. But she has lived in fear for too long to remain scared. This time around she will not let it slip away without living it if only for a while, like many times before. Her aborted love, her unfinished book, her halted career, her abandoned paintbrush, her stifled spirit. Not any more.

Monday, April 21, 2008

some enchanted evening

What would you do if you could hold on to moments as fresh as dew wrapped in the softness of desire? What if in the montage of emotions expressed and withheld these moments held the meaning of life together? A tender kiss after an absorbed conversation, a touch of hands where none was required, a glance to catch a fleeting smile, the jest of a locked bookcase, the thrill of a shared fantasy, a drive to no where special, an unspoken promise in silence. Would you live them forever? Or would you let it slip away unknowingly?

Sunday, April 20, 2008

dive

She did something unexpected this weekend. Escaping from her life of errands, expectations and dreaded monotony she flew off to her own world that beckons with bewitchment. She had been drowning but the escape hatch opened just in time and she surfaced for a handful of sweet emotions, familiar contentment of being, freshness of belonging and an embrace that promised forever. Many would judge her differently though. Flee as she did from her reality if only for a while. But one will understand how she had been torn between love, responsibility and duty and why she chose love above all else.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

The struggle of who she is, who she ought to be and who she hopes to become leaves her flayed. Please God, don’t let her give up.
Loneliness hits her in spasms. Like the sharp shooting pain that makes it impossible to pretend that it will go away sometime soon. Unlike the dull throbbing heartache that one gets used to eventually, this doesn’t even give her room to prepare. Her recent exhilaration seems mythical – equally untrue and ancient. To be honest, she is familiar with this darkness but it catches her unaware every time. Damn. Be reasonable she tells herself. Hasn’t it dragged her to its pitiless belly before and then suddenly left her there to grope her way back to sunshine? And she has always found herself a little wiser when light finally dawned. So she waits silently trying not to resent it as it washes over her numbing her mind and reaching for her spirit.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

november rain

Scrubbing the kitchen top she looked at her hands. Through the soap suds clinging to her skin, she noticed the brittle serrated nails that were stained yellow from the turmeric. The inside of her palm felt rough as wet sandpaper. The dry skin around the nails was peeling off like corn husk. Her finger tips were rough from the cuts left by the use of the kitchen knife in inept hands. She did use the baby lotion sometime but on most days between cooking, cleaning and caring for the baby she either forgot or was too tired to make the effort.

In the quietness of the night a voice from another world came alive. Your hands are so soft, Mo. I would never let you use them for anything except to caress me. IK said. And they had laughed before disappearing in each others arms. And knowing him he would never have let her. But her parents were vociferous in their resentment. It was a matter of family honour. She couldn’t marry someone of another faith. She gave up the fight when a family crisis took up everyone’s attention. She went back to offer IK her friendship. He had shrunk back as if she had struck him. No never. He had said. I can never be your friend you fool. I love you too much for that. And he had gone without looking back leaving her with dead guilt and a dull ache somewhere between her ribs.

Soon after, she moved with her family to a new city. She met AD. A bright eyed, pony-tailed bohemian type who listened to jazz and painted abstract expressionist illusions. AD, who on the second day had told her, I like your ass man, while he was teaching her how to develop a photographic plate in the dark photolab of the office. She had joined this advertising agency right after university. He was her only friend in the new office and the new city. A fresh freedom beckoned and they hung around together after work on most days. Galleries, exhibition, music festivals, an odd movie. Their stipends didn’t allow any extravagance. Once sitting at Casa Piccola, he had held her wrist lightly, keeping her from taking her lit cigarette to her lips. You have beautiful hands. Just looking at you holding the cigarette turns me on, he said winking naughtily. And she had sat still, holding the burning cigarette in her fingers till the ash scattered all over the table from a sudden gust. It would have been easy to lose herself with him. But her grandmother’s words echoed. All a girl has is her honour. Never lose it over foolish hedonism. So she held back. Partly because of her still healing heart and partly seduced by the idea of this illusive ‘honour’. AD and she had remained friends till she got married to Sanjeev. Infact, AD was there as guest at her wedding, all dressed up in formals and slicked back hair. I am happy for you he had said with a boyishly charming smile. She knew he meant it.

Sanjeev and she had an arranged marriage, initiated by a common family friend. Her father wasn’t particularly happy. Think again, he had told her before they printed the wedding card. But the hurt and guilt of losing her love had made her determined to marry the first man who agreed to their proposal. And Sanjeev was ok. She knew he didn’t love her, forced as he was to give up his relationship with a woman his family disapproved. But she believed she could spend their life together in a new city with compromise and companionship. She was wrong again. Just like the softly rupturing soap bubbles on her now soaked skin, her happiness too has disintegrated leaving a coarse dryness in her heart.
It was just a routine flight back home. Familiar airport. Familiar airline. No delays. Thank God. I rarely make conversations while traveling. Let’s just say I rarely converse with strangers even when I am not traveling. I don’t stop to chat with airline counter girls no matter how cute they are like many gentlemen I notice doing, holding up the entire check-in queue. Nor do I pour over the next person while waiting at the security lounge asking inane questions like ‘Do you think the flight will be delayed further?’ I spend my time at airports usually reading a book (I am not obsessive about checking mail/male!) and observing amusing contradictions like an Indian handicrafts store stacking Barbie dolls on the display shelves (yes Sir, at Pune airport) or a men’s clothing store inside security lounge (I thought women were compulsive buyers!).
Anyway getting back to today’s story. (See how easily I get distracted like a child catching a glimpse of shiny toffee wrapper!) Standing at the check-in queue, I try to ignore the nudging baggage trolley behind me. The owner of the baggage obviously mistook the trolley for a Playstation. Finally I give the counter girl my ticket printout and frequent flier card expecting the usual greeting and standard questions. Unexpectedly she says, “You have a very nice name”. The suddenness of the remark dislodges my cultivated poise and I smile despite myself. It turns into a grin by the time she hands me my boarding card.
Sitting at my window seat and feeling the familiar queasiness during take off I remember how, recently while buying a mobile phone the receipt spelled my last name as 'Boss' causing someone to rib me endlessly. I remembered too how some years back, while stopped by the traffic inspector for driving on high beam, I was playing for his sympathy (a helpless mother with a child!) and three year old Ro sitting next to me was doggedly spelling out my name and our address as I tried to cover his mouth with my palm. Also how, after I moved to Bangalore I have surrendered to the mutilation of my name without even a whimper. Now, it is almost always my company who lunges forward to correct my name while I remain blasé. Lost in the name game I reach home to find my mailbox spewing letters marked to Mister Piya Bose. Sigh! I know I can’t win.

Monday, April 07, 2008

She held him tight. It was time for goodbye. It was wonderful with him. She was on top of the world. Which is precisely why she knew she had to leave now. Why, he asked quietly. She kissed him and smiled, "You are my greatest high. But.....I have vertigo."

Sunday, April 06, 2008

They were together from they can’t remember when. In joys and tears, doubts and fears they haven’t left each other alone. Through petty jealousies, unreasonable anger, blinding insecurities, hurtful secrets they have always found the other to be there when the storm settled. People wondered about them. How can two be thus bonded. Well wishers admired and detractors called it a sham. They read each others silence and filled the space in the others heart to reach the true spirit. Thank you Smirnoff.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

we're just two lost souls swimming in a fish bowl...

Tom, Jerry, Mary and Ann. Four swift-tailed friends of Ro. Unfortunately Tom died in a misadventure and the other three remain still, over fed and over loved by Ro.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

She is caught in a whirlwind again. This time knowingly. She has chosen a path that might lead her nowhere at all. But then life for her was never about doing the rational or reaching a destination. Wedged precariously she decided to give one more chance to her wicked heart that tricked her before and trust her impulsive imagination and let herself free in the tumultuous twist.
Alice: Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?
The Cat: That depends a good deal on where you want to get to.
Alice: I don't much care where.
The Cat: Then it doesn't much matter which way you go.
Alice: …so long as I get somewhere.
The Cat: Oh, you're sure to do that, if only you walk long enough.
So she decided to go along and see where she gets.
what we are inside is who we are, what we are outside is what we have become...

Monday, March 31, 2008

six degrees of separation

It was over a nice lunch that she choked. A new acquaintance in a new city was narrating a story of a boy he had heard through somebody else. A boy who was labelled a loser. A boy who apparently jumped from a tall building with the intention of ending his life only to survive and cause more trauma to people around him. The callousness of the narration hit her hard. She listened without blinking. Scared that the welling tears might just give way. Trying desperately to swallow the knotting lump of hurt rising at her throat she chokes. The spicy lunch went bland. She wished for some chilies she could bite her pain into. Restrain, she has learnt is a great virtue. Pushing down her lunch she went through the motion of niceties. Oh yes the lunch was super. The chicken with basil was amazing. This was one of her favourite restaurants. No, she was too full for dessert.
The hail storm on the way home, numbed the sensation a little. In silence, she reflected on the day she had almost lost him. When he gave in to a friend’s dare to walk on the parapet of the nine storey apartment’s terrace. He was his parent’s golden child. Topper of his class, he lived his exceptional talent with humility and grace. He played four different instruments with equal ease and had a voice that could break hearts. She wanted so much to hear him sing Desperado strumming his guitar lazily as he had done many a morning at home. Why didn’t he let her record his voice? It's just a shadow. Keep me in your heart instead, he had said. Over the next few years, he triumphed in his own quiet way amassing material success that most will only dream of. When he died suddenly without a fuss in the quietness of the night, his bereaved parents decided to donate everything that he had to a trust on condition of anonymity.
His only flaw had always been his fierce loyalty to his friends. But she knows it wouldn’t have broken him to know they thought so little of him. He would have probably smiled and said, Let it be, Didi. Their limitation isn’t their fault.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

I met Mathew on my first very day at work. New-office-nervousness gnaws me like a manic itch as I watch the rest of the office going about their business and pretty much ignoring me. I am not one of those who takes to a new place like fish to water. I am, if not cold, standoffishly silent in the beginning. And yes a bit shy too.

Suddenly, a warm smile and a head full of curly hair. Good morning M’am. Coffee? Wow! He is holding a cappuccino with a letter 'P' drawn on the white froth. How did he know? I am still amazed. He just smiles broadly. From then on, Mathew and I have got along like we have always been friends. He became my lucky mascot. No morning at work begins without meeting him first and sharing a few words. I have rarely met someone happier or with a warmer smile. And yes, he speaks English with no trace of any 'MTI' what so ever. Soon he became my poster boy for what Customer Service is all about.
 
This is his story. Mathew was left at a church in Mangalore when he was about 18 months old. He doesn’t remember his family and was brought up in the orphanage run by the church. Mathew is also partially autistic and was diagnosed with major impairments in basic social relationships, limited imagination and extremely rigid patterns of behaviour. He has no formal education and has been trained by the Spastic Society through whose rehabilitation program, he found work as an office assistant. I stumbled on his story a few weeks after I met him, when I proposed moving him to a mainstream admin function. Apparently, he has a history of violent episodes which disqualifies him from ever being given larger responsibilities.

But somewhere, I feel all of them have got him all wrong. His benefactors, his doctors, his trainers, his family, even. If one looks into his eyes, one can surely see the genuine human being, that the rest of us can only hope to be. Live Long Mathew and keep making the world an awesome place for people whose lives you will touch!

A day like today...

reminds me why I love Bangalore! The sky is a halo of luminous grey. The unending stretch of cumulonimbus threatens to pour but doesn’t. The air has the caressing nip which is just right for a light woolen.

This beautiful day would make you wish for a long drive in an open vehicle and cuddling up to that special someone. Or stay in bed warming in a cozy hug and wishing the day never ends. Sigh!

It is also a day that makes my mom suddenly worry about, what according to her, is my erratic meal timing. To seal the argument in her favour, she promptly packs a breakfast of whole wheat bread and baked beans with onions and fresh coriander leaves as garnish. My work mates polish off the sandwich and now want the recipe.

Incidentally, I am still on a high from last night’s dinner which I had cooked. Stir-fried veggies with lemon grass and prawns and mushrooms in red curry. My efforts ended at two-course, thank you! For dessert, we had fresh strawberries with vanilla ice cream. Dad liked the stir-fried veggies. Ro loved the red curry though it made his eyes teary. My mom liked both. Honestly, I screwed up the red curry and over cooked the veggies but well I never aspire to be a chef of any repute. However, for someone who cooks once in about two years, I was glad I remembered how to hold the ladle. And thanks also to the one who not only gave the recipe but also followed up at every stage of the culinary creation.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

today's view

entrapped

It’s raining again. Wild drops cascading down the curved glass creating interweaving hasty streams of lurid ecstasy. She longs to touch the tangled mess of the wet rush but her fingers meet the coldness of the glass wall instead. The torrent runs free outside her reach leaving dancing shadows on her fingers. Isn’t it you who chose to live inside…safe in your bubble? They taunt her. No, but I want to be with you…wild and free! She cries. Sorry, too late. We don’t have the time now. And they leave her standing by the glass wishing she was someone else.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

dilemma

The good thing about staying alone in a hotel room is that you have the TV remote all to your self.
The bad thing is that with the rush of choices you suddenly don’t know what to watch!

Saturday, March 15, 2008

right @ this moment

someone is reading James Herriot in a cold airport
someone is writing a poem that doesn't rhyme
someone is watching the rain by the window
someone is having seafood at a fancy diner
someone is drinking beer in a noisy pub
someone is missing someone dear
someone is fighting heartbreak
someone is suddenly lonely
and all waiting for dawn
It rained.
A few drops first
while I was picking vegetables.
I watched
as they made muddy lines on my dusty xing.
Drove home
with drops caressing the windscreen
threatening more.
Then it poured.
The drops turning
nonchalant and cold.
As I stood by my window
grey sheet
muddy street
Tomorrow’s sunday.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

pest control

I have been traveling cross country in my singular person for both work and play. I am equally at ease with the idyllic calm of a vacation paradise, the murky pollution of the metros to the confounding obnoxiousness of our small towns. There is absolutely nothing that will change my unperturbed state. Not the horribly delayed fights, cheating cabbies with no sense of direction, check-in assistant who gives you window when you specifically ask for aisle seat, security lady who feels you up with glee, hostess who despite your explicit request wakes you up to ask if you would have vegetarian or non vegetarian meal, pesky co passengers who unapologetically ask for your refused share of airline food, hi-tech bath fixtures of hotel rooms that leave you dumbstruck, TV remotes that compete with a missile launcher in complexity, Nothing bothers me. Except the men.
If you are a woman who travels solo, then you are already aware of the perils this species pose. So far no antidote has worked. Trust me I have tried. I don my abandoned wedding band whenever I leave for the airport. I have tried to look dour and dreary. I have buried myself in a book to escape. It hasn’t worked. Usually it begins innocuously enough. ‘Traveling to Bangalore?’ ‘Is the flight on time?’ ’I heard there is an airport strike from midnight.’ ‘How is this book?’ Then comes the obvious ‘You are traveling alone?’ ‘Where are you staying?’ followed by the unmistakable offer for coffee. No thank you. I don’t want to share my book, coffee or space with you.
There’s the on-your face-type, who wouldn’t think twice before asking a completely strange woman ‘Join for coffee?’ ‘Can I drop you home?’ And then there are smooth operators that probe with stealth. ‘I like your choice of book’ Like Hell! For all I know you have a lifetime subscription of Penthouse. Anyway do I look like I care? These subtle types are the most dangerous. Before you realize it they would not only know your birth chart and family tree but your vital stats as well.
Now, the tragedy of this whole thing is that I am not the glam-doll-Page3-wannabe type that one would feel an uncontrollable urge to talk to nor the attractive young things that are ubiquitous at airports these days or the dashingly smart woman executives who are out to prove a point. More often than not I am lugging my monstrously heavy laptop and wearing a grimace for an expression. Unless you are telling me that men of all ages like to chat up scowling members of the opposite sex, please enlighten me on what’s going on.

Monday, March 03, 2008

growing up

“Mommy she tried to kiss me! Soooo gross!!!”
My jaw fell open. He is only seven damn it.
“Who?” I ask struggling to breathe.
“Bhagyashree!”
“And what did you do?”
“Shobhit and I ran to the Boys loo”
Then?”
“She couldn’t come in because girls are not allowed there”
“Who is this girl?”
“Gross…Mommy! I hate her!”
“Why?”
“She is always after me…”
“So?”
“I don’t like her. Will you please tell her not to kiss me?”
“Just ignore her Sweetie. She wouldn’t bother you” Which I thought was sensible advice.
However, my learned friend would have said “Dude, enjoy it while it lasts!” But I happen to be the mother.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

@ the coffee dispenser

Nan: Guys, boss isn’t wearing a bra again!
Pee: What?? I thought I was the only one who notices such things!
Meg: You cuckoo? Everrryone knows it in office…
Nan: Specially when she is wearing a saree!
Ind: Yeah this is so embarrassing. I had a review with her today and her pallu kept slipping…
Pee: I guess she is a feminist…
Nan: Feminist my foot! She thinks she is this hot-bod babe!
Ind: I tried very hard to keep my eyes away but well this was so obvious…
Nan: Yeah! She is showing off her assets….which is sooo gross, man!
Ind: We should give her a Lovable voucher for Boss’s Day…!
Pee: It’s a free country. Besides, our corporate dress code doesn’t mandate underwear.
Nan: Right! Does it mandate joggling your assets?
Meg: Hey, let’s call her Jiggle Jo!
Pee: Maybe we are jealous…
(Nan, Meg and Ind get ready to slaughter poor Pee)
Pee: Think about it Guys, It’s much better to have a female boss who shuns bra than a male boss who loves wearing them!
Disclaimer: All the characters depicted here are fictitious and has no resemblance to any person dead or alive. The writer claims indemnity from all forms of law suits.

carpe diem!

It’s a new day. A new beginning. The air at 6.30am was crisp with a sharp chill that you notice only when you breathe deep. There is no adverse trace of last night’s indulgence or insomnia. There was an exciting freshness in the gait during morning walk and a fresh insight into a relationship that was earlier aborted. It could be because of a number of things. The beer-binge with Ms. Pretty Lady and Mr. Faker Shaker the night before or the perspective sharing till 2 in the morning or Carpenters at early dawn. What matters however, is the excitement of a clean start.
Yeah baby. Let's rock!

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Diary

26th Feb 08

9.10AM: Texting best pal as I hit ORR (Outer Ring Road), on my way to the Airport for a 9.50 flight. Shit! Fat chance I am going to make it!

9.45AM: The security lady looks at the boarding pass and smiles. “Apni bangalee?” “Haan! Ami bangalee and I am late!” The PA girl is announcing my name. Last boarding call for passenger traveling on…damn! Of all the times this one had to be on time!

9.55AM: Squeezed between a teen reading ‘Rescued by a Sheikh’ at the window and a burping gent carrying two mobile phones that ring alternatively. Groan! Remember to be on time if you want your choice of seating.

10.15AM: Pleasantly surprised with the in-flight music menu. Dark Side of the Moon. Nothing better to block the burps next door!

10.20AM: Burpy decides to watch a comedy sitcom and laughs loudly. There goes Floyd!

10.30AM: M&B girl wrestles with the climax scene and coffee finally droping the coffee on me. For once I am glad they serve lukewarm coffee in flight. Burpy tries to help and extends his napkin. Before I can say thank you, he burps on my face. Help me God!

10.55AM: Hauling my case to the taxi. Mental note: Never agree to ferry parcels for others and manage only with cabin bag.

11.50AM: Yawn! How can meetings be so boing?

2.00PM: Aloo paratha at a tiny dhaba run by a punjabi proprietor who calls himself ‘Uncle’. I am glad we decided to try this out.

5.00PM: An angry text message from Dad. ‘HOPE ALLS WELL.’ Ooops! I forgot to call home again.

7.30PM: Leafing through books at Landmark@CitiCenter. Decide to pick up a few. Anyway my bag is empty after unloading the parcels.

8.30PM: Meeting an old workmate for dinner. We decide to go for chinese on the 3rd floor. The palate disappoints. Our conversation is solely ex-office bashing. He is someone I call a professional friend. The only thing common is our old workplace. I was never inclined to know more. So by the end of the meal we didn’t have anything to talk about.

9.25PM: I walk to my hotel, relieved. One more peripheral relationship serviced for this year.

27th February 08

1.37AM: Get some sleep! It feels good to be wild. Tch!

6.08AM: It’s the alarm. Damn this is criminal! Snooze for another hour please.

7.00AM: Get up! Now!

9.30AM: Coffee please.

11.00AM: Mid term reviews. Poor sods.

11.30AM: Wake up and smell the coffeeeee!

2.00PM: At Uncle’s Dhaba again. The same aloo parathas. Still tastes yummy.

3.00PM: I need to remain awake.

4.00PM: Airline girl calls to inform that the flight is delayed.

4.30PM: They ask me to summarize the meeting. Why can’t they let me sleep??

5.00PM: Airline girl calls again to inform further delay. Shit!

6.00PM: The taxi guy suggests a different route.

6.30PM: The flight is delayed by another hour. Halleluiah!

6.45PM: Settle down with coffee (yuck!) at the waiting hall. The next lady is working a suduko and canoodling with someone over phone. ‘Coochie, what plan for tonight?’ Coochie????

6.50PM: Inward thinking. Exploring my raison d’etre. The ageless bond of a nameless relationship comes to mind. It ends up worrying a most important person in my life. Press the brake girl, before the other breaks.

7.10PM: Announcement for security check.

7.15PM: A gent cuts the queue and slinks to the spot before me grinning in self glory. If only looks could kill.

8.30PM: Bejeweled Bangalore tantalizes. Snaking traffic glitters like lusty sequin chains choking the city to a slow death.

8.45PM: Finally home soil.

8.50PM: Mad rush at the baggage conveyor. The earlier obnoxious gent stands guarding with his trolley the only gap in the sea of waiting people. How will I reach my stuff??

8.51PM: I spot my case. Request the airline personnel standing closest to help. He pulls out my case and hitches up the handle for me. ‘Oh! Last in first out!’ the pesky gent quips. Goodbye, Loser.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

fish tail

I say thank God for the fish! I must have written earlier that I am fish fanatic. Oh yeah baby. I looove my fish! Fried, curried, sautéed, minced, diced, filleted. My friends called me sushi in college. I am particularly partial to fried fish of any dimension and origin served with no distracting garnishing. Cosmic soul mates if you may. The fish fried-just-right and ready for you on a platter and you inch forward with rising anticipation. Will it be soft inside or crunchy? Does it have a subtle flavour or a strong aroma? Is the texture smooth or coarse?
Therefore, Goa has been a dream, specially since Bangalore does disappoint true fish connoisseurs. Talking about Goa, it has this cool south asian eatery called Nation of Noodles, tucked away in Calangute. It’s rarely that one sees so many global cuisines jostling in roughly one square mile area as in Calangute. I am not a classic gourmet, but the falafel and bagel toast was one of the best I have had so far.

Monday, February 18, 2008

There have been many embarrassing moments but the top of the list still is the time I went shopping with my three year old in tow. Forum Mall Westside sale. Choc a block with people. I was rummaging through the foot ware sale while my boy walks up to me holding a ferarri red lacy bra from the neighbouring lingerie section and says, “Mommy's red?”
Sensing all eyes turning, I freeze. Then I try to play it down by ignoring and before I can quietly snatch away his prized possession he turns to the crowd and wraps the bra around himself and says, “For my Mommy”. Giggles are audible. Particularly from the men. I have a strong urge to disown. Finally I appeal to the sales lady who quickly plucks the ‘flame’ from his hand much to his dislike and motions to haul the pesky kid away. Since then, I have never taken him shopping except for regular stuff like candies and colour pens.

The entire Saturday was spent on getting my handwriting analyzed by an expert and later whiling away time with some of the funniest people I have met in a while.

The handwriting thingie (the cute employee engagement girl’s idea to pep up the office) didn’t reveal anything new (stubborn, persistent, rebellious, empathetic, imaginative blah blah) except the fact that I am also terribly sensitive, a fact I dispute vehemently. Damn! It’s not easy being a closet crybaby.

Later the same day, I met up with my best bud and his recently acquired pal. A few beers in Koshys turned out to be a laughathalon of the kind that leaves you smiling even after you reach home. All courtesy a techie from Goa with ambiguous sexual leaning and a straightforward sense of humour that makes him an extremely endearing company. So there we were talking about Hesse and Ishiguro, Goa and Nagaland all wrapped in a bizarre amusement that you can’t isolate or identify yet it settles in a happy cloud all around you.

And then we met a college mate of my pal who, refused to recognize him even after sitting at the table 2 feet away for over 45 minutes till another classmate walks in and smiles a hello. What followed was my pal getting besieged by his old mates, the kindest of whom said, “My God, what happened to you?” Cest la vie. Oh, one of the friends had baked absolutely delicious pastries that we gutted with delight. The drive back home was peaceful. Unlike happiness that leaves you empty when gone, this was strangely fulfilling. Thank you.

Friday, February 15, 2008

I Spy

Three air tickets of an airline to three different cities booked on the same day. The airline boy calls on her cellphone, “Madam, we are holding a booking on your name for Chennai, Mumbai and Goa on 19th. I called to confirm where have you decided to fly on that day?” WOW. This is it girl! Like in gangsta-movies. The pretty mole gives the airport cops a miss and zips to an unknown destination under alias. Tralalaa!

Cocking her right eye brow, Code Name Lithium purrs in her sexiest deep voice, “Ohhh, where do YOU want me to go, Darrling?”

Airline boy mumbles inaudible. Code Name Lithium smiles knowingly. Poor boy. An innocent victim of her fatal charm.

Trrrring. It’s the desk phone. The traveldesk girl calling to apologise for the goof up just when Code Name Lithium was warming up for her next sting. Sighh! The world isn’t ready for her yet. She slides back to her guise of a bored office-goer fighting to keep sleep at bay while waiting for the day she will reveal her true self.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

valentine, victory and vermicelli

In the morning, got caught in massive traffic near Forum, Koramangala and decided to take the other route via Christ College which amounted to harakiri!

Result: late at work, rescheduled meeting and a sulky boss.

It’s mid day now and I am still struggling with a presentation and behind schedule for four calls and a dozen emails. But I have already managed to receive a few V day wishes, forward ten jokes, have five cups of coffee and upset my best buddy with my cynicism. (It was the coffee, I swear!).

Oh! If you are wondering about the title, it’s nothing significant. Just random words starting with V that came to my mind while I was fuming in traffic in the morning.

P.S. The cute girl from employee engagement team has distributed red paper hearts to all and asked us to write the name of the person whom you admire the most in office which will be tallied e.o.d. to rate popularity. Groan!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

digging for gold

Despite this, we went for Fool’s Gold. My pal had seen the promo poster and thought he loves Kate Hudson in a black bikini. So this was making up for forcing him to grit and bear 1408 last week.

On the plus, beautiful locale. Beaches have never been my hot spot (I burn easily). But sitting in a near freezing theater, the Bahamas were the only thing warm.

Now, the only thing close to gold is Mathew’s hairless chest. Mathew’s personal trainer must be mighty proud since the entire storyline hinges on his shirtless chest! Bravo! As for chemistry, Tom Hanks and Wilson in Cast Away were hotter together than Mathew and Kate. So, you are adequately warned to keep the money in your pocket and not be tempted to buy the ticket. Oh! as for the bikini, there is just that, the bikini, and nothing else there. Grin.