Friday, February 13, 2009

I wish I was less of a wimp and more offensive as a person. I have been cheated, stolen from, abused, duped, taken for granted and I haven’t ever hit back. Except once. It was on a 31st December night when we were chased by a few loafers in front of Oberoi Grand. I had ignored till the point when I could feel the guy’s breath on my neck and his hand trying to grab indecently. I lashed out, complete unexpectedly. Surprising even myself. I abused and hit one of the men on the face with whatever I was carrying on my hand. A few tequila shots can do wonders. They froze in shock and fell back as we kept walking. My brother put his arms around me and said ‘You are the man’. That lightened the mood. On the ride back home they kept teasing me on my vitriolic vocabulary. That was just once. Never again have I ever confronted wrongs like the way I should have. Like when a person cut the queue and got in front of the line at movie theatre. Like when I found my airline seat (as assigned on the boarding card) taken by another without even an apology. Like when a co-passenger in a train promptly made her bed on the lower berth when I stepped out to use the restroom expecting me to climb and take her upper berth seat. Like when an old school mate turned neighbour went around saying the most obscene of lies about me. Like a co-worker who thrusts her company and takes a lift back home almost everyday but conveniently forgot to invite me to a gathering at her house where the rest of the office were. Like the acquaintance who invited me for lunch and ignored the bill when presented. All I did was glare at them when they were looking elsewhere or off late castigate them on harmless blog posts. I hate my ‘bhodrolok’ ways, where we are civil and well mannered even under extreme provocation. Now, it’s so well ingrained that even if I try I can’t shake it off. I hate my fear of disharmony which leads me, often to keep my opinion to myself to deescalate a situation. I hate my keenness to forgive that saps my ability to retaliate. I hate my fatalism that prompts me to accept things easily. I hate my fondness to be friends with even foes.
So this year, it is going to be different. God willing!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009


Last night, I woke up with a start somewhere close to midnight. Ro shaking me awake “Mommy, look at the eclipse (he said 'eelips')! Someone has eaten the top part!” I opened my eyes muzzy and without my glasses. And yes, sure enough the eclipse was in full swing. The biggest perk of living where I do, is being able to watch the night sky while lying on my bed. I never pull the curtains at night and on full moon nights it is akin to sleeping with a cool white searchlight on your face. And I love it. I wake up several times through the night and I know the time just by looking at the moon. With nightfall, the moon creeps through the top left edge of my window and dives to the bottom right before disappearing at dawn.
I mumbled a translation of Basho's haiku 
“My house burnt down.
Now I can clearly see, the rising moon”
“But, our house hasn’t burnt??”
“Okkkk! Go to sleep now..."

Monday, February 09, 2009

I considered myself modern and emancipated to an extent. This sense of being modern reflects in the many values and beliefs I hold dear. Perhaps not so importantly, it has repeatedly echoed in the impressions of people who know me well and those who don’t. My middleclass upbringing didn’t have any special favours or concessions for me being of a particular gender. I therefore, learnt to value my freedom (even with its veiled limitations) and expected the society to treat me equally if not fairly. So, I wear my independence like a badge and have indeed judged others who believed themselves to be the ‘weaker sex’ and in need of special consideration. I sat pretty on what to me was an evolved state of being. In fact, if you meet me you would think I am superbly in control of my life and affairs and in a haloed state of midlife contentment.

Why then, do I have a deep-seated need to feel special? Why do I often feel disappointed when people I care for, fail to recognize this need? Why did I find my eyes wet when the ones who made an effort to celebrate my birthday are the ones I least expect to. Customarily, my father forgot the date. My mother, was distracted with the morning chores to have the time to wish. My son has not developed the skill to remember dates so I reminded him and received a hug. My significant other remembered and called. My best friend did not wish and I called to remind which is when he said he was still annoyed with me for something that isn’t in the scope of this post. (It’s another matter that since then we have exchanged only two-word mails - ‘howz u?’ ‘the usual’).

In the course of the day two of my cousins and few ex-colleagues called to wish. A dozen email wishes were there too in my mailbox. Some from people I don’t even interact with regularly. My boss hugged and wished with full fanfare leaving someone to comment why the men in office don’t get similar hugs. So finally, it was up to a few of my workmates to surprise me with a lunch. I was touched the way they chose a steak house despite many of them being vegetarian. I will be forever grateful for their thoughtfulness. Of course, my mother had made ‘payesh’ a customary sweet dish for special days. Her way of letting me know when I got back home, that she hadn’t forgotten. And of course I received a message from my father saying like usual he forgot.

As the day got over, I thought of all the times I had bought movie tickets when I wasn’t invited, paid someone’s phone bill, traveled half across town after work to cheer someone up, surprised someone with a stray gift, sent flowers on birthdays, gifted chocolates on a whim, spent time when someone needed company. Nothing that will earn me a place in Guinness Book but it made someone happy. They say what goes around comes around. Maybe that is true. The last gift I received was a very expensive one. But I would gladly trade it for an I-Love-You said more often. I cherish the time I was surprised with a box of chocolates and a bunch of fresh flowers. I am not into diamonds and posh dinners et al. They make me distinctly uncomfortable. A timely hug, a simple card, a holding of hands, a flower from the terrace garden, a home made cake, a heart-shaped keychain works for me. I confess I am a sucker for nostalgia. I have horded every card, every scrap paper, every gift I have ever received. I have a slam-book from junior school where one wrote inane things like ‘drink coffee drink tea, when you burn your lips think of me’.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

I finished reading Aravind Adiga’s White Tiger late last night. It left me feeling uncomfortable and sore. It is dark and grim, but that was expected from the reviews. However, I did not find anything in the book to ‘like’. I am not impressed by the style, narration, depth of portrayal or the imagination of the author. But most of all, I found the story too fantastical to be able to elicit a positive response from a reader. It appeared to me to be an elaborate scrap book with snippets from my regular daily, hashed together to form a story. But that was yesterday.

Today, as I read a scanned page from a regional daily covering a foiled kidnapping attempt of an eight-year-old boy by three young men, I am not sure if the book is indeed too surreal. One of the accused, who was caught by police after being chased in a coffee estate, is someone I know in my line of profession. Someone I have known to be hard working and honest and cited as an example of fortitude and ambition. Someone I have reccomended for higher responsibilies recently. This will be the end of what was till yesterday a promising career. Legal just informed that it is a non-bailable offence and the penalty is either life imprisonment or death. It fills me with a strange sadness to know of another life lost.