Amazing people who make me go on n on n on:)

19 September, 2016

My Shoe Shopping Saga.

So I go to a Bata store and get the sales guy over there to show me Scholl's cushioned slippers (for apparently I've developed a space in my heel bones and the doctor's advised me for these. Talk about wanting space and God's funny sense of humour. You know those soft pudding like soled chappals your mums wear, in which you feel the feet sink in them to never return)

Anyhow, he's showing me patterns and I'm checking myself out in the mirror, bursting within, with some vain pride for I believe (and I'm often told) that I have the prettiest feet. Just about any footwear looks good on them. I know, still no excuse for the scores of pairs I have. So many that the poor shoe drawer is now already mercilessly stuffed and I have to hoard the new ones in big bags and keep them away from the husband's glare, so much that even I often forget I have them.

Anyway, (if only I digressed less I could make so much more sense) so this almost-young and lanky sales guy is polite and friendly and excited and shows me one pair after another. And then suddenly the unthinkable happens.

He begins to talk in Punjabi.

(Now, don't get me wrong. I'm not a racist. Trust me. I love Punjabi songs. Okay, that didn't come out right. Goddamn it, I'm a Punjabi myself ~ you know the love for chicken-shicken, dj-sheejay ka music, over dressing and always suggesting someone single spotted to get get the drift)

But then I've grown up tagging along with mommy to stores and noticed that shopkeepers only talk to you in punjabi when they think you belong to the older age bracket that would understand it and be more comfortable in it (read that as beguiled by some stupid false sense of religious sentiment)

Now I knew wearing a loose kurta with palazzos was not a good idea to move out of the house in, but then I was going for Chappal shopping, for crying out loud. Chappals. To Bata. Please don't make me wear my short skirts now for such errands by giving me the old age complex. I'm coming in jeans next time, hmphf.

Almost wanted to scream "Ay, Tu jaanta nahi mein Kaun hoon. People call me gorgeous, lovely, stunner on Facebook". But then I kept quiet remembering they call every non-gorgeous, non-lovely and non-stunner the same. I have even stopped saying "Nice dp" to a couple of 'pretty in-twenties somethings' because they replied "thank you aunty". AUNTY!!! Aunty hoge tere ma!

When you're past your third decade on the planet, suddenly omg-my-skin and staying young becomes bloody important. It's like signs of ageing are viewing you as the next potential customer to make home in. Shoo. Since a couple of months, I've been splashing, drowning, flooding my face with creams that I have stayed away from all my life. Not even a moisturiser or sunscreen (Not that pimples allowed me).

And till last year, facials happened only twice annually, right before a supposed holiday (yes, not just our soul but even our skin gets hyper excited at the prospective of a holiday and now you know why. Skin: Finally she notices I exist). So now in the aftermath of good sense prevailing, I have taken to this dheet policy of every day making my skin eat dollops of cream (kha beta kha) like I make Seeya have milk daily.

The idea is - Peete raho, it's good for you. Dheere dheere (read that as kabhi Toh) aadat padh jaayege. And there goes a spoonful of lauki in Seeya's mouth and a palmful of a face cream that's straight out of a magazine, thoopoed on my bewildered face. VoilĂ , sweet sixteen, here we come.

Yes, stupidity can catch you even this late in life!

07 April, 2016

Age is not just a Number.

Last week I was traveling after a long while and by train. The railway station intrigues me. The bringing together of myriad basic life forms, minus the loud same-ish-ness of flaunting, commonly seen at the airports. The platform is an unassuming space that seems to be blending in with all the elements so well that if you tried perhaps to get inside the train and close your eyes to think of all that you'd been through till you boarded, it would be a blank. 

Generally it is a blank for me too. Except an image that transpired right before my eyes as I walked down the underground tunnel (common to U.P. stations) behind G, who was behind the porter, carrying our luggage to the parking lot. Unknown faces passed by, a part of the ever growing census. Individuals carrying not just their luggage but the excess baggage of aspirations and disappointments. 

And right before me trotted an elderly couple. The husband balancing himself on shaky legs, struggling perhaps under the burden of worn off bent limbs,  arthritis or vericose veins and the likes; and his wife following him, short of breath and with the support of a stick. Both would be in their seventies at least, if not more. And the man in addition to dragging his body onto the incline of the plateau, was also clearly troubled by the constant holler he had to make to the 'coolie' to go slower. 

I walked along side as the elderly lady in old Multani language, reminded her husband that the porter was carrying all their luggage and he must hurry up. The man said he was trying to but told her to go slow or her knees would buckle up. And after a minute or two of awwing and witnessing this, I finally decided to speed up my steps, asking Seeya to tug along faster and ran up to the porter - a young man in obvious hurry, so he could be grabbed on by the next prospective customer. 

Life usually gives us chances to do a good deed for the day, as we're passing by. But it gives us only a split second of time to decide whether we're up to it or not. I usually let such chances pass by. Because maybe I'm driving and I go ahead when I should stop that minute. Or when I'm walking down the stairs and cross by the room already and not bother to stop. I've lived to regret those stupid decision makings. When I would have given just five minutes perhaps of my life and made a difference, again to my life more than anyone else's. For I'd only leave them with a momentary smile. 

Anyway, I ran up to this young man who was probably singing "saare duniya ka bojh hum uthate hain" in his head. I asked him to stop and go slow thinking of the age of the couple who were so evidently hassled by the effort of keeping up with him. The young man smiled almost apologetically and I smiled back. I exhaled. Thank the Lord. Goodness is not yet dead. I had half expected a rude retort of "minding my own business" from him. He stopped. They caught up. G turned around and stopped for me too. And I waved to him to keep moving and I'll be there in a jiffy. I received smiles from the couple as they plodded on and the relief on their faces was such a reward. And in that one minute I had felt a bit of that rare delight in my heart, not realised even after materialistic possessions. 

Though also I shuddered within at that momentary thought of coping up with old age. The fears, the helplessness, the dependency, the burden of carrying happier, carefree and better memories, the need for feeling useful and wanted. It's a scary thought. Scarier than the first signs of wrinkles appearing on my face and my first lot of white hair. Despite all our efforts and hopes of ensuring a comfortable old age, are we really sure what's in store for us?

When I walk at an unmatched speed during my evening sojourns, I often wonder when in time I would join the ranks of those marked by slow sauntering. How the wheels of life move and the cycle takes over! My parents have recently started coming for evening walks to the HBTI too. Age has made their steps slower and gait unsure. A sight that leaves me with a pang in the heart if I witness it for too long. It's the world's most terrible feeling - watching your parents grow old. Mum asked me to walk with her and after dabbling with it for a few minutes, I told her she was way too slow and whisked past. 

Though in the same instance, on those rare occasions, when Seeya comes with me for a walk, I move like a tortoise, matching steps with her. We keep bending backwards for our children as our parents take a backseat. So very sadly. But then that's how it's meant to be. There will be a future when Seeya would rather match steps with her children than her much older parents. The cycle should prepare us for that, though it seldom does. 

Let's hope old age for all of us is peaceful despite all unpredictability, despite our dogged confidence at having prepared ourselves for it. Keep our parents strong and children wise and us, loved. That's all that really matters, doesn't it?

26 February, 2016

I Want Back My February.

Last year February was drastically different from what February looks like this year. I was almost without work, with fewer children coming to take classes due to the ongoing exams. I had a maid (God bless her, though not too much coz she left me in beech majdhar six months back) who would time and again play with Seeya, taking her away for an hour or so, a couple of times during the day. I had just then (after five years of rigorous running around Seeya like a puppy behind its owner) begun to indulge in movies, surf the net, tweet like a celebrity, read books and do whatever pleased my heart, though in intermittent portions. (Yes, we like to play the victim card, you'll shortly see) If you had listened closely, you would almost hear me sing "Freedom" though mostly in the shower and with an unsightly jig.

Damn, I was even beginning to think of joining some kitty parties, where posh women assemble in clothes they never repeat and gossip and barely eat (thank god that urge passed). For me an outing means overdosing on chicken and a kick in the butt to lauki and tindas and gobhis, but more of that some other day.

Being so optimistically charged, I even took a package of twelve facials at a parlour. Hell yeah! We were all set on the path of rocking it. But as is human nature, the keeda within never lets you rest in peace till actually they add RIP beside your name.

So being complacent that my life is finally on track despite a child and I have "so much" free time at hand (how we humour ourselves), I ventured out to take up work coming my way, that would enhance my productivity and take for a jog of whatever was left of my rusting cells. I could never be or see myself as the sit-at-home-shout-at-the-servants-watch-serials kinds. (Yes, we're stereotyping, Sue us?)

G of course would give me his outstanding doses of advice -
• Why don't you do more work in the kitchen?
• Why don't you drop the car for servicing?
•Why don't you go to BSNL and lodge your internet complaint yourself?
• Why don't you sit in the mandir or join a satsang?
• Why don't you take a broom and clean that makdi ka jaala in the bathroom?
Yes, I stopped seeking advice from him thereafter. (Sit in the mandir, like really! Does this guy even know me after fifteen years of tolerating me?) But then he would laugh at his own ridiculousness and I'd feel alright, he does know me thoda Bahut.

So I did a stint in an institute taking up batches for personality development for children. From there I moved on and took to the idea of being a visiting faculty for a popular school. All was fine. I had work again. The feel of teaching in a classroom and listening to your voice making sense to a handful of eager listeners. Well, we all have our own stupid ways of tasting heaven.

I now had no time to indulge in mindless internet banter or clicking stupid selfies. Just then the realisation dawned. I'm growing fat. Like terribly out of proportion. Like I would enter a room and my butt would still take a while to pass the threshold and thus joining the gym became of paramount importance. But oh no! My morning hours post dropping Seeya to school were now devoted to teaching. And the idea of leaving her and going anywhere is still light years away from my reality unless it's a life threatening emergency.

I lessened another hour from my six hours of sleep, dropped Seeya to a camp in the evenings and in the meantime gymed my guts out (not that my guts or any other inch of the body felt threatened in the teeniest of bit). The rest of the time I had my long nose buried in the books, Seeya's or my own.

So now I was slowly coming in the overworked category. And the feeling of "I have no time for myself" was taking roots. Man, I tell you. How we keep yo-yo-ing from one side of the fence to the other. Even the songs in the bathroom changed to "I will survive, I know I'll stay alive".

And just then the mother of all fuck ups happened. The dear maid left. Not like to the heavenly abode. Just packed her bags and left. Without a trace. So I couldn't even cling to her clothes and bodily stop her, with my tears wetting her clothes to submission.

Yes, imagine a drowning, non swimmer of a man coming to the surface gasping for breath. That was pretty much my situation after a few months of coping with the crisis. You tell me to do jhaado-poocha, I will. Saaf karo the bartan, I will, with a smile. Wash clothes even and I wouldn't budge from my resolve. But to babysit and play round the clock with her and it's like someone put a straw in me and sucked my energies in slow sips with gluttonous pleasures. Don't get me wrong. I love her. She's the light of my life. But every light must give some break with a night also, na? *sniff, sob* I've spoilt her so much with the idea of being entertained that it's difficult to pacify the keedas in her now suffering from even the slightest pangs of monotony.

'Mamma, let's do racing?' Whoa, does she even realise how much weight I'd have to carry of my own to go from this side to the other? 'Mamma, come on. You're getting fat'. 'What nonsense Seeya, I'm just tired' Abhi toh mein jawaan hoon.

And then the icing on the cake was the cook going away for five days but taking a month and a half to return. Bhai Saab, I became the ma of multitasking. Half the day would pass in me waiting to exhale and the other half in me sighing! (To think I would have breathed the fat out of me but no. My fat just sticks to me better than any human could ever. Aww!)

The last six months have seen me working round the clock. Managing some 100 plus students in back to back classes at school, an odd 20 others for classes at home, gyming, teaching Seeya with her Prep syllabus so she qualifies for Class 1 in a good school and in between managing to write for whatever portals that gave me some peace of mind. I don't need to mention my own chores like self bathing, attending to the calls of nature, etc, do I? Okay, okay. You get the drift.

But please let me mention the duties of Seeya from bathing and dressing her up to dropping to school and various classes and bearing her non stop chatter and growing intolerance for not getting my undivided attention at all hundred percent of times. Matlab mamma toh insaan he Nahi hote. (I want my mommy)

And then after all this when you feel you have some super powers in you perhaps that the world should stand, applaud and take notice, someone comes around and asks "Tum kaam karte he Kya ho saara din?" Or rubs in that "huh, all women do that". Sigh! Gee, aren't we glad we're engrained to be a non violent nation!

And why am I telling you all this crap? Because G does not listen to my whine anymore.
G*hesitatingly*- Baby, agar manage Nahi ho raha toh chodd do na school?
Me*aghast*- What! Nobody asks the man of the house to quit his work and stay at home with the child in crisis, why should the woman always have to leave work? Inquilab zindabaad *some feminist, male chauvinist bullshit blah blah. Auraton pe Zulm Abhi Nahi chalega, Nahi chalega!*
G- Baby, ab mein thode der akhbaar padh loon? Mujhe yehi Ek ghanta milta Hain shanti ka.
Me- What! Aur Mujhe toh Woh Bhi Nahi milta *some more blah blah blah blah, sob, sob, blah blah*
G- Okay baby, ab mein nahane jaata hoon, Kal chai ke time pe Phir discuss karte Hain.

Next day-
*copy pastes the above conversation*

Songs crooned now in the bathroom - Yeh duniya, yeh Mehfil, mere kaam ke Nahi!
Man, I need a holiday. Desperately. 

06 January, 2016

Feeling Resolution-ary!

So it's that resolution-ary time of the year. I never make resolutions. Damn it. It's difficult for me to decide and stick to things that threaten to alter my comfort zones - sticking to people is what I do best. Though years came and went by and I have been rather constant and unmoving in my pseudo-resolution love to the same aim each time that never reaches its summation.

Cut to 2013:
(watching awe struck, a friend on the treadmill alongside mine, having shed gallons of weight, okay slight exaggeration)
Me: Wow, you've lost so much? Just by gyming?
He: Naah, you have to shut your mouth too. It's stupid to pay so much money and still continue eating, no?
(awkward silence - I run...brisk walk....trot....whatever, 10 minutes extra on the treadmill and stop with Seeya on the way back to eat two plates of golguppas to drown my dipping spirits in them and wondering how people resist good food. Would it help my case to add that I skip dinner to make up for that and console my grief-less soul. Only that I eat half of a chocolate before going to bed to fight the hunger pang eventually. Someone please tell me ~ How do people orgasm over fruits and salads, unless by ways other than those known to me? I see fruits and they only remind me of how much progress technology has made and the soul stirring, cheese dipping, fried, sumptuous options available and how I should not waste my taste buds on the former. If only one could see me taking a whiff of food, he'd think I attained Nirvana)

(Another year of unsuccessful weight loss programmes and fondness for food reaching Shahrukh and Kajol kinda chemistry levels - we just can't let go of each other, whether we look good together or not. Like they say - some love stories never end. My mom and masi end up with more grey hair, for my masi checks out my holiday pictures on Facebook and asks all jaw droppingly, to my mataji how much weight Ruchi has lost. And my mom with her sharpened humour skills replies, "Woh gaye Bhi Moti the and wapas Bhi Moti aaye Hain, pata Nahi photos mein kaise patli lagte hain". You know, bedard zamaana and all that jazz.

Things I tell myself ~
•I'll skip dinner and have a small Maggi packet. It's just a quarter plate worth of food instead of a full plate portion. Hain na? Hain na?
•It's only one fat round innocent looking, glistening with shudh ghee waala piece of pinni vs the entire lunch of salads, veggies, curd, pulses, etc. How on Mother Earth can such a substitution go wrong?
•But but it's only half of a full burger! Besides burgers these days are anyway palm sized. What's bloody wrong with this McDonald's ka conscience?
•My bones are heavy.
•I'm PMSing. It's pre PMSing bloating/post PMSing bloating.
•My favourite comeback - I'm pleasantly plump. Look at my smile. Aww, that's enough.
•I have some rare disease that packs weight on me.
•It's in my genes. Oh yes. I've had a family of fat/obese people. The Kapoors are never thin. Look at Raj Kapoor's family in Bollywood. See. See.

Then brother goes on to lose all extra weight and mom becomes slim shady with yoga and things I tell myself change to ~
•Fuck my life.

(Friend sends an image of two donkeys eating non-stop, a plateful of cakes and texting alongside 'we must stop eating'. She also writes -"my past and your present").
Uff. I hold a heavy hand to my heavy chest of my heavy body (metaphorically and otherwise, obviously) pretending to struggle with the onset of a heart attack (when there isn't even a bloody heart ache), shed an invisible tear that falls on the roasted almond Silk chocolate and eat the whole of it in the unbearable sansaari dukh despite the tear mixed salty taste. And then I go around looking in every nook and corner for any traces of Mr Self Respect or his sterner sister Madam Ego but find none whatsoever. Whoosh! Gayab like gadhe ke sar se seengh. They were probably buried in the tyres of my lower abdomen ages ago and can never dare surface now.

Things I tell myself obviously undergo a drastic change to suit the changing environment around me ~
• It's okay, I have brains. Loads of it. A thinking woman is better than a shrinking woman. Waah, Kya socha Hain!
•Voluptuous is sexy.
•Dogs like bones.
•I want people to love me for who I am, not my body *hides a sob*
•People still love me more than all those thin pins *beginning to howl in misery by now*
•Some day someone with a magic wand would come and in a stroke I would be sexy. I would save him from being crushed under a truck or something and in return he would just blink his eyes and my body would be exchanged with Deepika Padukone's. Yes, I believe in miracles. Amen.

Two months down the line of gyming again and 1.2kgs weight lost only. I had thought I would start dieting from 1st January. But then I didn't go out for New Year's Eve so gave myself the margin of binging over the weekend and start from Monday. On Monday, mom in law invited sister in law and family for lunch and I thought  - wtf, it's grave offence/sin to say "no" to good food. Besides, it's eaten during the day as compared to the night and how wrong can that go. Next day, I'm 1.2kgs heavier on the scales than what I began with two months ago.

Tuesday, I'm mentally shaken. I've lost faith in humanity and weight loss methods (Not that I've really tried any). And I decide I need time to recover. It's too soon and I should just give it a day or two to start again so that my body does not revolt.

It's Wednesday and I'm thinking what's the point of starting now with the weekend coming and the possibility of eating good food at some good place again. Sigh! I guess you guys just have to bear my fat arsed posts and the fat arsed me. Pray for me, only one big fat one left.

13 December, 2015

Yeh Kya Tamasha Laga Rakha Hain!

You know it's absolutely the nicest feeling when people come up to you or message asking if you've seen a particular movie and whether you liked it enough to write about it on Facebook as an essay-ish status. That is what's been happening in the past ten days as friends on my Fb list have been expressing curiosity to me in person, about what I have to say  of 'Tamasha'. How shamelessly celebrity-ish of me to declare it, hain na? *gloats*

Unlike earlier days or the period B.S. (that's Before Seeya for those who have arrived late to the party), we do not watch just about any movie in the theatre  nowadays. And definitely not immediately. The 'once in few months' disease has taken over. The reviews obviously sway the decision of whether or not we should make the effort for it. Tamasha we went for because Seeya wanted to watch it, having loved the songs especially "Tum saath ho" (a proud moment for me as mommy having discovered she might finally have some "proper" taste in music *looks up at heaven in a silent gratitude prayer*)

Honestly I was quite curious to experience Tamasha myself. Not in the longest time do I remember people giving such extreme reviews about the same movie. They were either loving it to the core or completely disgusted by how boring it is. Whatever happened to good old "one time watch hain" type ke reviews bhaisaab? (Like anyone would watch any movie the second time anyway. Oh, you would? No issues. Please, by all means do).

And you know what's the funny part about having watched and been done with Tamasha? I still don't know if I really liked it. So, let's dissect it. Like I say, I always get more coherent in my thinking once I put it in words. Though sometimes more lost too. Sigh!

When it comes to love stories, I may write about unconditional and deep focussed love but somewhere I believe only in the pragmatic side to the matters of the heart. So while I put my money on love, the other approaches to it like one sided love or perishing in the memory of a love lost or loving irrevocably someone you've never spoken to or yearning in the thorns of irreplaceable love are all more fairytale-ish domains if you ask me (yes, despite my hopelessly romantic standards). The concept of ethereal love sounds beautiful but you doubt if it's possible or feasible. You may say otherwise, feel otherwise yet truth is ~ nobody is irreplaceable.

Due to this perhaps I had trouble digesting Rockstar although I had easily gulped it down and let it flow bewitchingly through my veins when the movie was released. But can you really let your whole life just pass by or go down the drain because one woman left you or one man did, whom you met and spent a week with? Aren't we a little too spoilt for choices in today's times? Or maybe it's just the case of 'only he can tell where the sole itches, who wears it'.

Tamasha went down well with many for the very reason that they could relate to the loneliness of being in a world that isn't theirs. Look around, all spaces teeming with the twenty somethings who look fitter, meaner, more confident and at the same time terribly broken. Look deeper and you find a haunting aloneness even in crowds, manifesting itself in aloofness in case of some and coldness in case of others. And often it takes just tender loving care of one person to lift the veil of hopelessness that grips these lives. Hundreds of people you maybe in talks with but not one whom you can talk to. Hence the plausible hypothesis that the absence of that one person can really crush the earlier dwindled self-faith of someone.

I wish the film had opened better though. That staged dramatic scene was a bad start. And then too much of childhood foundation, when you really have the sparkling brilliance of Ranbir to emote just about anything in the most stirring of ways. Is it just me or does Ranbir appear sad to you too, even in the happier of frames? Like also in the commercials for that matter. The kind of unhappiness that makes you want to hug and cuddle him (Even spooning if he agrees to it). He needs to do a very happy film asap. That loneliness is becoming his trademark. And boringly so.

And probably the viewers went to the theatres expecting Matargashti of 'Dilliwali Girlfriend' kinds (I forget the name of that movie, sorry). You know, when you hope to see Salman and they show you Irfan instead. Now Irfan is not really a bad bargain and I'd rather prefer him any day (as far as onscreen viewing choices are concerned) but then you get the drift. We become those overbearing adults half way through this movie, feeling the whole lack of acceptance of the hero, as being rather sissy. "Bah! Nonsense! You can't earn a living through drama and story telling. Saare duniya Phir yahi karte phire. Why grow up from childhood! Sabko adjust and compromise Karna padta Hain! And some more blah blah adult shit."

Actually yes. And movies like always, sell us dreams that show we don't HAVE TO adjust and compromise. What they don't tell you is that it happens with one in thousands. And not everyone can be that One. We feel a tug of restlessness somewhere because we didn't get that choice to break through those barricades and we hate it. We hate us. We hate anyone who is able to. We hate such movies that show life beyond convention for they confuse the fuck out of our beliefs that we don't want to accept.

I want to travel the world, live by the sea, write the days off, soak in cut-off-from-the-world-love and just be. But can I give up my responsibilities as a mother, as a wife, as a daughter-in-law of the house to just be? I have to be happy with the glimpses of what and how I get these. And so does everyone. "Please adjust" mentality. Tamasha revels in celebration of those who manage to break through without breaking down.

Whether you're a corporate slave, a thriving businessman, a doting mother, the bread earner, a house maker, a college goer, each one of us is suppressing some urges somehow. So we feel a tinge of ache somewhere as the Tamasha unfolds. We know how difficult it is to be ourselves in the surroundings that aren't us. Yet most of us are lucky to survive it without major meltdowns. Lucky to find love. Lucky to still be.

Tamasha manages to strike that cord but somehow some harmony is missing. Or perhaps I was too inclined to not have Seeya bored through it and ask us to take her home, to really find that substance which I felt was lacking in the over all impact that leaves something in our heart for a longish time.

The trouble is everyone in today's times realises he is different but can't do a thing about it except blend in. It needs way more strength and grit to break through conventional modes than normal human prowess provides individuals with. Let's be happy someone finds his happy place. Let's try to bring it in ours in whatever little suitable ways. For the Tamasha was there before us and would go on whether we're there or not. Like they say, the show must go on. And as for whether I liked the movie Tamasha or not...hmm, we didn't really get there, did we?

08 November, 2015

Diwali Ki Safai.

"Diwali ke safai" they say. Mandatory and expected each year. Cleaning away every nook and corner of our living space so that it sparkles to everyone's attention. But within? Nobody has the time or inclination to tear apart the skin and bones to see if we need some cleansing inside too. Holler ~ Oh hello, in there? Everything okay?

Maybe we need to blow away some dust of anger that's subtly settling in. Mop gently some disappointments which are eating us away from the insides. Wash and rinse away some mistakes we made or just scrub off some particles of jealousy, greed or plain monotony that have begun to cling to our fabric.

A good annual clean up, I'd say. But then aren't we too busy in trying to conceal the flaws of our exteriors with ornamentation instead of putting them to light? Thode dhoop dila do, unhe bhi, unn garam kapdo ke jaise, toh shayad phir se pehen ne layak ho jaaye. Make up, fake concerns, happy lives, plastic smiles, beguiling words and voila! We're done with making the surfaces seem unrippled at least. Who would have the time or desire anyway, to observe with a keen eye, the storms brewing within? We're so busy in keeping intact our own crumbling lives!

Last New Year's Eve, we had bought some expectations. As the year moved on, we felt we bought them dear. By half year gone, we realised we were cheated. And come Diwali, the glaring darkness within stands in stark contrast to everything bright outside. And the realisation that the expectations would go whoosh again like opening up with your tired fingers, the end of a balloon you inflated, to let go.

Happens. No sweat. The trouble however would be, when in another couple of months from now, you do not bet your all to buy those expectations again. No, don't let them fool you. Those wise heads who say ~ expectations are the root cause of all misery. For if you don't harbour expectations, how do you know you have to go where. This time however, let the cleaning process not pile up. Let it be Diwali each day. Or each week maybe. Keep brushing off whatever you feel tends to settle and pile up.

That pending sorry, that burden of heavy ego, that intolerance for what's not in accordance with your will, that broken heart, those silent cries of getting what someone else has, that urge to keep up appearances for those "char log" or just plain glaring voids of something missing that you can't put your finger on. Let go. So that the coming year breezes past, leaving you with a sense of not having robbed you off and leaving an indelible impact nevertheless.

Just this morning we sat at the breakfast table, me and G at 9am. That's how his days have been. Working all Sundays mostly throughout the year. He's a very hard worker, this husband of mine, with work being his focus like Arjuna just looking at the fish's eye. He took a bite and asked if I missed him on Sundays. I served him some more and said I do. He wondered aloud if I meant it with a "really?" I assured him again with an "I do". Though through this past year, perhaps somewhere getting used to of him being at work seven days a week morning 10 to evening 10. He added ~ and whichever Sunday we might be together we often had a tiff. I suggested we were still better off than many couples we know, who'd rather tear each other apart when together. He nodded. Apologised for keeping me at home through Diwali while the world indulged in merrymaking. I smiled and said it's okay. I'm proud of him. And just like that a bit of another tiff was avoided. When I would have expressed my disappointments with him not being there. And he his dismay at doing it all for us and yet we weren't happy.

So it takes kinda less and gives kinda more. This little effort. This little let go. It's 10 pm on a Sunday, a few days before Diwali. We haven't really gone out to party in some two months now. Except a couple of invitations in between that my husband can't do anything about but attend. Regrets, no. A sigh, maybe yes. But much easier at heart now than in years erstwhile. Maturity perhaps. Realisations probably.

I am tucking Seeya in bed after having taken her around by myself, yet another day. I await his return and feel sad already thinking of his tired frame and the streak of self annoyance troubling his harrowed face, for not being there. But it's a good life. Not today but some day soon. And the belief still strong, his niceness wouldn't go unrewarded no matter how much every one around him squeezes it to their own benefit.

Oh hell! I think too much missing is happening and I'm beginning to make less sense. What to do, when writing is the only way, you get to be at peace within you. You guys have a happy Diwali and go hug your loved ones. They do way too much for you that you don't always see and rarely do they try to show. May our lives truly light up. 

31 October, 2015

Open Letter to Twinkle Ji.

Dear Mrs Kumar or Ms Khanna or Ms Bhatia (er never mind, I'm sure you have a take ready on how women should not change their surnames post marriage, keeping in mind their individuality and stuff. How regressive!)

So just, 

Dear Twinky,
I was 'amused' to read your take on Karvachauth, for the lack of any better word to summarise my feelings after having read your lines and also whatever lay in between them. It is amazing how independent and rational thinking we can prove ourselves to be, with the mere power of our pen. And how pretty darned chuffed dear Akshay must be, with the knowledge of you having a good action plan chalked out in case the poor man gets tapko-fied by a freak accident, performing one of his dare devil stunts! Little does the hunk know, he has a dare Devi at home, much better attuned to facing the terrible atrocities that fate may have in store for her as a wife. No, don't get me wrong. It's wise to preempt tragedy that may befall, to the minutest detail. You must increase that life insurance claim too baby, just to be more foolproof. Don't trust these silly fast stories. We need more concrete proof than what history or Google can oblige us with. 

Quoting madam's subtle lambasting of the silly tradition for lengthening the poor man's life "the unfortunate circumstance of your spouse’s demise merely frees you up to place ads in the matrimonial column, go on online dating sites and feverishly attend bar nights, the zeal for such taxing endeavours seems a bit extreme . . ." Aww. Mommy must be so proud! How very wonderfully far sighted are we, Twinky! Almost tempting the gods up there to give the good woman her much sighed for freedom. 

Go on, exercise your choices, woman. Eat during the fast and let god's wrath fall upon that puny soul of your husband. Better than having to eat your words later. Tell you what, keep a box of chocolates (better still, diet chocolates) in your closet the previous day. And before adorning the paraphernalia in the evening for the Karvachauth thaali puja, gulp down a handful just to prove the bloody historians and religious goons wrong. Go on baby, why suffer when you can feast, though privately of course. Shh, not a soul should know and we'll zip our mouths and keep within your secrets like you gulp down your saliva in self pity or the wallow of not being able to shampoo that one day. I mean just imagine all those pretty, traditional dressing up photos without gorgeous, flowing tresses! Tch!  

I could understand a woman from the ordinary class cribbing about having to go hungry and thirsty all day after (like me perhaps) having to get up early morning, wake up the whining child that hates her for doing so, pack his tiffin, send him to school, rush off to work herself, return and pick the child back from school, spend hours on getting chores done for him and go about putting the house in order till it's time to slog with his homework then drop the child to activity camps and go to gym and blah blah (Yes, yes I have a tough life. Don't go all "Tch!" Not to mention, also click selfies in between and upload fat arsed Facebook statuses like this one)

But then madam it's cute to hear your dukh bhari daastaan about getting up at 'bat and owl hours' of 5 am; for isn't that the "unearthly hour" around which most "infamous Bollywood parties" end? Aww. (Stop turning me into an aww machine, will ya?) 

And your concern for the poor pet tortoise showing how you care for the animals, took my heart away. Now will somebody give you the philanthropic or humanity award already please? Pretty please! (P.S. Mrs Tortoise is very jealous of your overtly flowing affections. She's decided to keep a fast too from next year)

But then again, perhaps I am not the best person to judge here, not having gone through the rigmarole of a day spent in extreme hunger and thirst. We as wives in our family through generations, do not exercise Karvachauth in its rigid traditional avtaar. We begin fasting from 5 in the evening after the thaali puja till 8.30pm, when the moon whimsically though generously appears. So we get to dress up, observe the customs for about four hours, not wake up in the wee hours of dawn, eat our guts out in lunch and dinner, get money and all that jazz in gifts and yet be branded as wonderful wives that husbands adore through their long lives. Piece of cake, isn't it? (So stop this open letter already, you bitch - you might be saying)

The idea here is, each one to his own self. Either do things with respect or be self respecting enough to not do what you don't believe in, only to condemn and strip it apart eventually. Nobody is stopping you from sipping your "scotch on rocks" baby but then having a sip of water from the hand of your husband with glowing smiles on your faces, possesses a fairy tale-ish charm of it's own. Let us live the Karan-Johar-on-screen-lives no, for a few hours? Wish we all also had the luxury and money to do it generally, throughout the day, every day. Sigh!

Besides in most educated households, I find mothers-in-law insisting on the bahus to have cold coffee and fruits at least in the evening. Belonging to a small town and yet to come across a saas that would say "Observe the Karvachauth warna hamare naak kat jaayege" 

We do something because we chose to do it. Not because we want to please someone. For honestly, there are countless things we still do, without caring if it pleases the same others or not. I fail to understand how criticising old customs makes us more liberated. I haven't been to a temple in months. I don't believe in deities residing only in a particular compound. I can close my eyes and connect. Yet I see no need why I should dissuade someone who does it everyday with utmost faith and hope. Why take away a bit of pleasure that he derives from his make belief? And having said that, I'd be the first to jump with immeasurable delight if you were to take me to Vaishnodevi anytime. Double standards you'd say? Naah, just bending around the ideas to imbibe what I chose to as mine, move along the paths that give me comfort, pleasure and the satisfaction of doing something worth while. 

I absolutely love the idea of Karvachauth. That one day when we don't eat for a few hours and use it to emotionally blackmail the dear husbands. That one day we show we want to do something special to please the special man in our life, akin to buying new lingerie for some or preparing a sumptuous meal for another or maybe buying the latest iphone for him for someone like you. Just one of the many inexpensive yet effective ways in which we would like to show we care. Not because we "have to" but because we want to. 

This one day I get my husband to come early and we get to spend a few precious minutes on the terrace by ourselves in the moonlight. The idea that he gets a chocolate each year only today, to lovingly put in my mouth while I bend down to touch his feet(only today again), with the dangling mangalsutra in my neck that sees daylight just on this one day through the year! If we go around looking for a point in everything, then we'd soon be a nation without festivals, culture or heritage. What's the point of celebrating Diwali or Holi? Why burn the poor Ravana? Why save historical monuments? What's the point of getting married at all? 

While looking for points, maybe we're crossing too many lines? Anyway, all I know is that there's some magic in that embrace under the moonlight after you've looked at his face through the "channi". It kind of eases some of  the creases that may be appearing in your monotonous day to day lives as a couple. There's a glow on a woman's face that she derives from the strength of having done something tough. There's pride on a man's face when he watches the wife all dressed up for him whether or not she keeps that blessed fast. For it's his day. Like Mother's Day, Children's Day, Valentine's Day maybe. Let the poor man enjoy it, for the rest of the days, he anyways doesn't have a say. 

Wishing a long life to all husbands and wives and strength to the Population Control Board. 

Yours lovingly, 

10 June, 2015

The Underrated Father's Love.

Last night I saw a movie and cried myself to sleep. "Everybody's fine" - A Robert de Niro flick. And I have been in love with this man since the longest of time. Like our very own Amitabh Bachchan, some people don't age no matter how many years mark on their faces. He's one such fellow you can't help but warm up to. Those dimples even on his sagging cheeks. Haye. But more on him in another post someday. 

Anyway, this movie was about a father who spent all his life coating PVC on electric wires that run around the city, losing his health in the process. Now after his wife's death a few months ago, he tries to reconnect with his four grown up kids in different cities. One by one each one cancels the plan to come and meet him over the weekend that his lonely life had been planning forever and so he decides to visit them himself. And all the children try to put up the facade of a "fine" life, hiding from him how each one struggles in his own way to survive. 

Movies like this you can't help but delve into a thought process. Father's love is so underrated that it could break a mother's heart. Here was this man who was asked what were his ambitions in his younger days and all he said was "to be a good father". He sits down to wonder why all his children were for hours on phone with their mother but didn't know what to say beyond a few words when he called on them now. The children defend themselves in their conscience with the argument that it was just that the mother was more around than him. And hence the conversations were easier. 

Such are fathers. 
There could be actually two broad classifications of fathers:
1. Someone who is there actively involved in your growing process, putting you to bed, taking you to your swimming class, talking to your teachers about your progress, calling everyday to find out what's happening in your life. He's the one children run to in troubles as he carries them over his shoulder, fretting about the dripping ice cream from the cheeks or the mismatched socks with the shoes. Basically a mommy-ier version of a dad. 

2. Then there are fathers who go about in their 'earning the bread' work to the best of their abilities, for they think that's the only way they can assure a good life for the children. They aren't there every night to kiss them goodnight or every morning to drop them to school. They won't be vocal about how they care for you but would keep badgering the mother to find out what's wrong because the child's face shows a few lines of worry. They won't probably remember what class you're in but they would glow by just an occasional hug that the mother is otherwise showered with all day from the kids. They aren't the vocal performers per se but the silent, conscientious spectators. They're very watchful though not involved. They don't have the time to pursue the gym or nurture a hobby or indulge each night in revelries for they obsess about being a hundred percent next morning, to give a hundred percent at work, to ensure a hundred percent harmony at home eventually. 

Such is my father. And such is my G. People who wouldn't be holding the finger of the child all through the way, but silently never let go off their eyes on them. A father who would rarely tell you all the places where you're right but would make sure to point your wrongs, for he wants you to have a smooth life. A father who won't be so hassled by the trouble falling on himself but could cry like a baby at the first hint of a problem over his child.

I've seen my father bawl like that for the slightest tear trickling down my eye in an emotional moment and later having forgotten about it. But he having lost his sleep for many a nights over it. He'd never come and ask me what is wrong. Because he feels perhaps less exposed in making mommy his mouthpiece. Happy in small joys, content in little risks, unbothered by the need to appear strong or unscathed by burning ambition. Just another regular guy next door. They never ask for much but they give you their all. The  children become the focal point and things silently but surely go about revolving round them. 

They would never manipulate their children. They would never seek comfort of their own over the slightest unease of their child. They would never say they're on your side but never ever not be there. You'd feel an invisible layer of comfort and safety you'd be blanketed in just by his presence.

If you feel it's tough seeing your mother age, you haven't seen your father soften with the passing years. It warms and kills your heart at the same time. My father is no super hero. He doesn't know all my questions. But he would have all the answers. He's not slaying my demons. But he's hushing them for me in his own conspicuous ways. Unlike mommy, he won't always tell me that I'm wrong just so there is harmony around, when I'm feeling tied down. He'd tell her to let me decide what I want. Something that he handed to me gradually for he realised I can now handle it well.

And today on his special day, I just want to say thank you and I'm so so proud of you papa. And I love you.

27 May, 2015

Marriage Is Not A Sorry Institution.

I always get into these discussions somehow with young people over the worthlessness vs worth of marriages. It's surprising how many youngsters are at the brink of giving up on the belief in it or are in the maze of an astounding fear of the institution. Especially arranged marriages. 

I have these weird theories about life on various issues and there are several at play regarding marriages too. I would say it is a bit rash to write it off the list in your twenties. Just because we give you the right to drink and vote and drive, it does not mean we stand by and watch you throw away your peace.  

I believe no person can live as an island. We aren't programmed that way. We're meant to interact, share, evolve in togetherness, sometimes with one and for some, along with several. If you think you're better off creating and enjoying what you're building now in your hay days, rest assured you'd be standing and watching it be ruined by your very hands eventually. Unless chanced by circumstances, the idea of shunning marriage by own sweet will would only leave you with regrets. Like they rightly say "Yeh shaadi ka ladoo hain...blah blah".

That need for having people goes up and down through a meandering curve in our lives. We grow up, time changes, perspectives overhaul but the inbuilt craving for a person on whom we can claim some amount of ownership, stays. If you think you can survive the later years without a companion as you did in your twenties and thirties (while the frivolities of life kept your body and mind occupied), you may have to think again. Breaking news: You get more vulnerable as you age. 

Marriage in itself isn't wrong or right. It's two people venturing into it, shaping it in a way that appeals to the eyes or is grotesque depending on how they've handled it. Youngsters in today's time have at their disposal seeming luxuries while making this decision. Unlike us who had to decide within a meeting of half an hour, whether or not we want to spend the rest of our lives together. These days the decision is made over several meetings and even prior phone conversations whereby you get a good inkling of what you're getting into unless you're totally daft or clueless about what you want. 

That brings us to the grand old idea of "What we want". Ask someone at a "marriageable stage" about what they want in a life partner and they would probably begin by 'I don't know' and then give you a long scroll down kind of list of what all they expect or should be there (Yes, make it impossible for anyone to match that granth so you eventually get to crib you never got what you wanted) I ask them tell me one most important thing and they stare back with jaws dropped as though I'm expecting the U.S. nuclear codes from them. It's impossible, they cry. I give in and let them pick two. But only two. 

Do that with yourself. Two qualities. Let them be the priority with a give and take on the rest of the package. You know it sounds filmy but when you really desire that one quality (most important for your happy existence) in your partner with all your heart, the universe and you yourself conspire to bring it to you. Unfortunately we're so inexperienced or immature at this stage that we fail to judge what we really want. So please, can we keep aside "he should make me laugh" or "she should be a family girl" etc out of the room. Think of QUALITIES people. 

When I was in the 'marriage market' a decade and a half ago, I remember silently praying for just one thing "my man should be very loving and love me unconditionally" and you know what, I got just that. Whereas some of my friends wanted "all riches and luxuries" or "drop dead gorgeous wife" and you know what, they ended up with just that too. It's only in hindsight that you realise you should have wished for a bigger picture had someone told you there's actually an invisible genie (you could read that as subconscious too) listening somewhere. 

Marriage is an institution which extracts crazy amount of respect from me. Sure live-in is nice, hopping from one girlfriend to another is exciting. But that security that comes through the idea of being in a sacred contract is unmatchable. The idea that there's someone waiting for you home or someone coming back to you each evening, is often enough to help you take just that one thing in life at least, for granted. 

That comfort you get, to have your partner by your arm in a crowd of people matching shoulder to shoulder with theirs! You're lost in polite conversations and you look around and there he is by the bar, your man giving you the look to come over to him coz he's read it in yours after years of being with you. That is how two people evolve together. You understand. You know. And you work for it to work. Things that a marriage provides. 

Imagine working on all of that in a long standing live-in relationship and one fine day you get to hear, it's not working, let's see other people. And you pack your bags or are told to pack your bags and leave, just like that. No fear of law or society. No binding of any kind. It's like you know you can drive without a license but you also know it can land you in deep shit when you fall in trouble. 

You ask where is love? Well, you grow fond of even a pet that you take under your care. You mean to say two people who are like minded and have decided to stay together and are at a phase to please each other, living under the same roof day in and out, cannot feel any affection for each other? Oh come on! We aren't stones. Unless we become firm like a rock to not let another seep in. That's why the need to cautiously walk into such an agreement when you have the choice. Do it when you feel this is it. Not to shut up the pressuring family or to be polite to a stranger whom you might crush with a 'no'. 

In the long run some marriages run out of passion or adventure or conversations. It's not because of the failure of the institution. It's because one of the two involved slowly gave up and the other let him or her. Or because they were just two very different people who evolved separately. You made the wrong choice of a partner not the wrong choice of partnership. 

There are happy couples too in this world, you know, despite the temptations and distractions that modern lifestyles are throwing at them. Look at such couples. There's hope still. No reason why you should not strive for it. I don't believe in quotes like "Better to be alone than lonely with someone". I say "Better to believe there's hope than think it's hopeless". 

Be with people, risk getting into relationships, to know what you really want. I'm not saying become a Casanova and go around breaking hearts. But you can't stand a mile apart to gauge if the heat of that bonfire is enough, can you? So don't be scared of risking your heart in someone's hand. Do it after you've used your head. Don't be boggled by the idea of an arranged contriving of falling in love. People through centuries have lived in it. Stop dismissing things just by the merit of them being around for a long time. There's often a good reason why they have. It's unique to see bits and parts of you falling in love with bits and parts of another each day. 

Marriages are beautiful. It is the foundation on which a child must be brought in this world. Kudos to single parents. But if you have a choice in your hand, I say exercise it. Be there. Be there with your all. Do that. Do it with a purpose. Then be done with it, if you run out of choice. But that choice, make sure you choose to use. Best of luck. 

09 November, 2014


About a fortnight ago I joined a party, too late. So late in fact that I wanted to vent my guts out about how bowled over I was but refrained thinking of the bored eyebrows it would raise at what was she even doing all these years. I saw Inception finally, four years post its release. It came around the same time when I was hands down tied with a year old Seeya, hell bent in trying to give up on everything only to be able to tell her some twenty years later about how I gave up on everything. Sigh! Okay, that sob story for some time later folks.
Anyway, Inception had me in awe for a long while like I assume it would have done to anyone who’s a movie buff and had this cinematic experience. It’s not every day that you watch something on screen that takes your mind out for a jog and makes you return as though you trotted the unreachable domains of the galaxy and mind. The idea that one head could fathom it all through his imagination, Christopher Nolan had found a new albeit not a very vocal fan in me.
And now last night I was bowled over again by Interstellar. Too much bowling over I’d say in a month, but what the heck. Sometimes the Gods are kind. Despite the stupid claims in the first paragraph, I had managed to catch 'Gravity' last year and thought what could be better than Sandra Bullock now. I think Nolan unknowingly took that as a challenge. Also I went to a theatre in Kanpur and my husband thought there was no need to pre-book the tickets for barely is there an audience here out to watch English movies. We reached there 5 minutes late and were informed that the show is all booked. And I pleaded and cried, almost short of a howl at the counter. I only get a Saturday to leave back Seeya behind for she does not sleep early otherwise, next day for school. So you can’t imagine the murderous look I gave my husband when he parked the car and reached the counter and I told him no tickets. I think the guy at the counter was a married man who realized how delicate the situation was and asked for a few minutes to check again. And yaay we got two tickets!
It’s been a very long time since I saw a movie to packed seats and I think many light years since I heard the audience clap and applaud on scenes. And before you grow all cute enough to check, I know light years is not a unit of measuring time. Please, I know my science I think for I not just understood the movie but also enjoyed it. Baring a few references to Singularity, Event horizon and Relativity of course. Damn!
Dear Science,
I abhored you at school.
I'm so sorry,
A supposed, still-lost poet.
Although when I heard some IITians sitting ahead of me just as confused in those bits, I almost got on my seat to do a little jig. But hey, I got the crux, so yeah.
Also, I’ve had a crush on Matthew McConaughey since the time I could not pronounce his surname. I think I still can’t waise. But those were the days when he did romantic comedies and I remember renting a very dumb surfing movie just because it bore his name and I could ogle at him, though the movie bored me enough to tear my hair apart. But then the eyes felt so good.
Anyway, back to Interstellar, needless to say, it’s spectacular in every frame. It’s like you too have that bubble mask on your head and are an invisible co-passanger in this wondrous space travel. It’s like you know what’s a wormhole as if you studied it for years, even though you’ve never heard of the term before. And the travelling ahead of twenty three years in a matter of few minutes of scenes on screen, is as amazingly natural as it seems incredible.
Can you imagine the prowess of these actors who make you sit at the edge of your seat just by the merit of their facial expressions, made perhaps while looking at a wall? McConaughey is such a delight. The tears, the fright, the smile, the tense nerves, he just transmits them to your own face through some invisible connect from the other side of the screen and you can’t help but clap and be awed. And who would have thought love would find its way in such a scientific stellar experience. Awww! Also, the climax is just so OH MY GOD! Like it did in Inception, it left me gaping and forgetting to breathe for just a second. So much wow! It’s like a ride that is most thrilling just when you would expect it to drag on its closure. Such is a wonderful aftertaste it leaves you with.
I think I finally understand the hype around Nolan!
Such a one of a kind screen experience was this, that I actually dreamt for the most night post it about some of my own intergalactic adventures.
You still want to hear more of why you should watch this?
P.S. Although hey, when we returned back and my father-in-law asked G how was the movie, his response was "Balwinder". Yes, it means exactly what it sounds.

I Finally Met Him.

Yes, I finally did. And I never imagined it would be like this, becoming a milestone of sorts for both of us. Here he was, in all his glory in this mansion, hosting his larger-than-life presence and here I was, a nobody who had managed to get entry into the who's who circle by some stroke of last minute luck. And while he was gracious enough to allow being personally introduced to about only 50 enthralled guests awaiting to catch some stardust, I somehow found myself at the end of the line. Great! He must have been already exhausted of polite conversations and fake smiles.

Host: And last but not the least, she's Suruchi. A very popular blogger and extremely influential on Twitter too. And Suruchi, this ofcourse, Shahrukh.
Shahrukh: Ah! Writers, we can't live with or without them.
(He takes my hand in his for a handshake and allows it to be there a bit longer than usual, holding me by that ever famous gaze we have grown watching and swooning over on screen. I was a bundle of nerves within but had a surprisingly composed exterior)
Me: Not such a forbidding lot actually. If you let them see how par excellence an actor you are instead of how striking is your star power raising 100 crores.
Shahrukh: Waah, we have a little critic here. Good. It's been a while.
(I watch my host getting uncomfortable and my head is filled with unpleasant images of me putting my foot in my mouth literally)
Shahrukh: So you watch my movies?
Me: The last one was My Name is Khan. And you never really bothered to make me change that.
(Farah calls to our host and he takes Shahrukh by the arm saying they must go but Shahrukh waves him with his hand saying he'd be there in a moment. I feel all eyes on me now and trust me it felt as though I'd forgotten to wear clothes for this evening)
Shahrukh- So a fan once and a critic now. Tell me Madam Writer, can you please everyone?
Me- Sir...
Shahrukh- Please call me Shahrukh. I only look old, I really am not.
(I smile, besides myself. Shahrukh's wit has always been his biggest asset to charm his listeners and here he was, letting it rub a bit on me)
Me: Do we need to please everyone Shahrukh? Even from that spotlight in which you live all your hours? A man with a mind like yours, pulsating with invigorating ideas, thumping with the need for innovation, how can you let the performer in you be satiated by what it just a sip when the whole goblet of elixir awaits you. Stop suffocating him.
Shahrukh: Whoa! So many big words. Tch! I forgot my dictionary today.
Me: That's okay. I teach English to school kids. I'd be glad to help. So stop pulling my leg. We all know what a wordsmith you are.
(We both smile and there's an awkward pause. I don't know when but we had started walking and were now almost at the balcony when "Indiawaale" started blaring in the backdrop. He took me gently by the arm and led me out. He asked if he could light a smoke without really waiting for me to affirm or negate)
Me: Can I ask you something? (He nods) Strangely it's not visible on screen, but I see so much sadness in your eyes. Like a haunting loneliness of some sorts despite the menagerie around you.
Shahrukh: Suruchi...that's a beautiful name by the way. What if I say, I see the same light or the lack of it in yours? They say hungry, searching or lonely souls recognize each other, carrying a similar haunting while the rest of the world moves on like it's everyday.
Me: Oh come on this is not about me.
(Shahrukh's secretary peeps in and they speak something aside in whispers. I knew my time was up. He was wanted by too many, to pose with, to touch, to feel his aura, to exchange pleasantries that they could tell their grandchildren about some day. I move towards the door. He stands in my way)
Shahrukh: Ek storm khada karke aise kaise chal de Senorita? Picture to abhi baaki hain.
Me: Sometimes it is the storm that ensures the calm follows it. Kya dhoondh rahe hain aap?
Shahrukh: Kaash ke pata hota na. Humme kya chahiye. Aur jab woh mil jaaye tab kya?
Me: Kuch aur dhoondhe. Us sab se hat ke. Kuch chota. Like tiny infinite particles filling bit by bit a big hole. The slow excruciating process of collecting those bits rather than looking for something big?
Shahrukh: Is chote se sheher mein samet paate ho apne itne bade soch, Suruchi?
Bahut bade ho gaye hain?
Me: Haan?
Instructor: Bahut bade ho gaye hai aapke arse. Aur ab half an hour ke cycling se bhi kuch nahi hoga. Utar jaaeye. Line lag gaye hain.
Me: (Sigh, I look around and find myself in the gym) I know. But yeh dekho Facebook pe. Mere bhai ke saath Shahrukh ke photo.
Instructor: Arre waah, dikhao, dikhao.
Aur is tarah, kids, No, that's not how I met your father. Is tarah, kuch dreams bahut bade ho jaate hain. Aur kuch day dreams chote reh jaate hain. Aur kuch stupid arses, tass se mass nahi hote!

27 April, 2014

And The Mountains Echoed in me.

So after a hiatus of probably half a dozen years I return to reading. And return back like I was never gone. Sitting hours at an end in some cozy corner, trapped between the lines written by authors who wrote and moved on, probably oblivious to the lives they touch each day around the world.

Well, not exactly hours at an end now, for there is no mommy around, to put a plate before you in between your literary sojourns and says “Eat while you read” for she understands the urgency of being enticed by words that do not warrant even a moment’s break. And then there’s a mommy in me now instead who remembers it’s been ten minutes too long without Seeya peeking in, if she’s not already around.

This time it’s love blossoming for Khaled Hosseini, for I do not remember story telling being at this high and beautiful notch of excellence. I began with “And The Mountain Echoed” and I think the book would not end for me even though the pages ran off eventually. I remember a good friend giving me ‘The Kite Runner’ around five years back, out of his precious collection, telling me to read and fall in love with it. I also remember starting it and going on for about 50 pages when I lost interest and let the book adorn the bookshelf like many others that I began but never really could conclude. Active participation in social media, the commencing new role as a mother, the unwavering expectations and grinds of everyday life and reading covertly turned into a luxury.

Maybe, there’s always a right time to read someone’s words if you really want to appreciate them. The background of Afghanistan and the wars, the Muslim customs and cultural differences, the long descriptions of upheavals for the impatient reader in me, kind of bogged me down as opposed to a light reading that I was perhaps looking for then.

But then came 'And The Mountain Echoed', thank god for hyper bout of unseen boredom. Little stories that transport you to little worlds, characters that you tend to identify with, irrespective of the gender or age or background they come from. Because eventually our problems may be different, but they feel the same. Pain does not come in different languages or versions.  It just hurts universally. Love does not know the bounds of religion or nationality, it just grows naturally and tugs at a heart that has known it. Desire may be requited or unrequited but seldom is it wrong or right for the person who experiences it, running down in his veins like the very blood that supports his being.

I think Hosseini had me from the very onset, the first story that Saboor narrated to his children. I told the story to Seeya with a bit of necessary editing for a four year old to fathom it in accordance with her bounds. And when there was light in her eyes and a constant “Mamma, then?” there was light in my eyes too. I want so much for her to see the world through her eyes that could have been mine.

I wondered then if I had taints of Uncle Nabi, who pined in silent desire for Nila or shades of Nila who had too gypsy a spirit in her to be bogged down by social norms and confirm to the mundane. I wondered how I would behave were I in place of Parwana or her sister Masooma within a quickly dimming conscience over selfish grabbing of hope for materializing the dreams that you’ve aspired for all your life. I shivered under the thoughts of having to part with a child because poverty becomes too big a strain or the idea of living without a sibling who meant the world to you. Somewhere Pari and her struggles left me with a subconscious nervousness for Seeya and a “heaven forbid” prayer said silently.

The novel grows on you. Each time the author ends one long chapter of a life he paints before you with deft strokes, you feel the loss of having parted with a loved one. I remember a dear friend once saying he could not relate to fiction stories, with characters that he knew did not exist but were born out of the mind of one writer penning them. I also remember how I had argued with the notion for how could you not picture the character most vividly in your head once you read such brilliance. For me these people were living, breathing, feeling and ageing right before my eyes. The idea of having walked through with them in their journey like a silent companion in the shadows. Another dear friend mentioned how he had tears in his eyes after having read Hosseini. Well, as surprised as I was at such an effect of books on people, it really would get comprehensible perhaps if you submerged yourself with sensitivity in a book, that maybe I still lack.

I want to go on talking about the characters but then I’d want you to experience them first, if you haven’t already. The Kite Runner followed this and I’m not so sure if I have managed to come out of the ravaged lanes of Afghanistan or the lofty humans Hosseini left me with as fellow travelers in the maze of emotions and life, even though it’s been a week of having read them. This time around, I loved The Kite Runner too, experiencing the familiar disinclination to keep down the book from my hand without my eyes having devoured it all, in an innate sense of urgency.

I return back to reading and I am filled with a sense of completion. You know how sometimes in your lives so full, you move around with unnamed voids and just don’t know how to deal with them? I think I just dealt with one of them. Reading is perhaps like swimming, like loving. You could be years out of practice but one right dip and a splash of it on you and you begin to wade through with open arms till you swirl and glide and drench in it with the confidence of being at home. At peace!

“Out beyond ideas of wrong doing and right doing, there is a field.
I’ll meet you there.”

The lines he began with and the lines where I end.

03 April, 2014

Your Beliefs or Mine?

People I know, closer and around the year I descended on this planet, are indulging and how. In satsangs, chanting, joining cults, motivational meetings, self-disciple-ing and the likes. And here I am beginning again to read books, exchanging ideas with newer people (sometimes half my age), thinking of travelling, giving up on 'No-chicken on Tuesdays' notions, wondering if it's too late to start a new vocation and the likes.
It is quite confounding to see how we are formulated with this basic urge to slink into roles at different phases of our lives almost as though sleep walking through it. My mom tells me "High time you start devoting your mind to some place now" like she began telling me I must get regular facials as soon as I stepped into my thirties. Like it's an unwritten rule and blasphemous to go otherwise.
However, I look around and wonder who's getting the better or closer to what's within! The same are these spiritual devotees who return back satiated with the idea of having “found” themselves at a certain level and then let manipulative bitchiness of the television serials consume them. Or allow the desires of flaunting their assets or knowledge, override enjoying the simple pleasures. Splurge on materialistic acquisitions and squirm at the idea of not being invited at someone's party while the whole town was there. Gossip and judging others is what feeds them, doubts nurture and the "me" surfaces most conspicuously while they demand time to do something for self to make them selfless. Kahe ka self improvement! Ghanta!
I also muse over my own relationship of convenience with God. Say a "Thank you for being with me and stay with me" is the only prayer I manage to sneak in everyday and sometimes I forget even that. Cramming my head with the notion that God shouldn't be narcissist enough to want to hear you praise him in mantras and read holy scriptures all day. That's a human craving, isn't it, minus the semblance to divine, or so we've learnt? Spirituality sounds like all the things that you already know being told to you so that you forget and be told about it differently next time. Tell us about it if you remember it still while you look down upon someone wearing a tacky dress or narrating animatedly how you heard XYZ's wife is having an affair. Some people don't need to grow within. They first need to grow up. And if it is just a brilliant ideology that dazzles you, dive in Literature, saunter around the lanes of fiction, join Twitter, whatever!
Maybe they are right and I am wrong. I do have these occasional bursts of inner ruffle. Don't they? I'd like to reform too as soon as someone convinces me that reformation comes with the guaranteed assurance of no-ruffling. “The frequency would be less”, they argue. “You'd be more patient and make peace with problems”. Hmm, isn't that what we anyways do when problems don't seem to be fringing on solutions? Tell me about the middlemen who've shunned limelight to light your soul. Who say beyond what age-old moralistic values have upheld almost blindly through time! Who let you believe what you believe in and not what you should believe in!
The priests and the sadhus and the babas and the gurus and the palm readers, insist they can change your life but for that you must have faith. I say bring that change first for me to watch that faith being born within, than have to cultivate it in, as though through surrogate mothers of your believers.
Or maybe I miss G who's gone on tour and Seeya who's begun school from today or this is just because I've not eaten anything remotely exciting since Navratri fasts ~ the ranting of a hungry woman. Why I keep them? I have no idea. Just been keeping them forever. Perhaps because the only reflection for me of God can be "ma". Perhaps because I want to clear my conscience with the idea that "Kuch to mein bhi karte hoon" after all. Or perhaps, dizzy in this pseudo superior complex of my idea being better than theirs, I’m looking for an excuse to give up fasting from next time and indulge in the pleasures of food. God would understand, won’t He? He does not want me to stay empty stomach to feed His ego? Well, I always win in the argument against him never mind if the world thinks He is just a silent observer.

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