Life and it's small ways of making you feel better.
The afternoon started off with me sitting at a table in a hotel with this food critic. In a way it was fun (moments when she bitched about a person not very close to my heart either) and informative (she had a lot of little tid bits on different kinds of spices, different ways of cooking and the like), but then it went on forever. I thought at one point that I would fall asleep on the table. Which was also probably because all the dishes with the exclusion of none were cooked in desi ghee.
We were supposed to guzzle on Banarasi Lassi and Godaulia ki Thandai to begin our lunch with. But I am glad I resisted. Or I would not have been able to nibble on anything that followed. We thought we were clever and ordered a tasting menu kind of a thali even for the starters which promised us Kaashi Ki Chaat. In it came a whole lot of chaats. Dahi Palak Ki Chaat, Matar Tamatar Chaat, Chidwa Mattar, Khasta Matar Chaat, Makuni Bhaji and Hari Matar ki Chaat. Lipsmacking!
Next came another thaali of supposedly tasting menu samples of the main courses. It was of course Indian-style tasting menus. Large bowls with generous portions of Punchmel ki Daal, Aloo Dum Banarasi, Konhara Channa, Besan ka Khadra and Nimona. As I dabbed and dipped my puri and crisp Sattu ka Parantha in the bowls, I marvelled at the taste of home-cooked food. They were made without garlic and onions by this maharaj from Benaras. I have never had Satvik food . So consider me a convert.
There was quite a bit of similarity in the kind of dishes that they served with those from Bengal and Bihar. The Besan ka Khadra was ala my Bengali favourite of Dhokar Dalna. The other interesting items were the Konhara Channa that was a preparation of kaashiphal with black channa and put me in mind of my ma's kumro with kalo chhola (mashed pumpkin with black channa). The Nimona sounded like a sultry piece of thing/a medicinal thing (take your pick) but turned out to be a dish of greenpeas simmered to a thick daal-like consistency, with little cubes of potatoes and daal vadis peeking out.
At the end of it, when we were served the syrupy and crumbly Kheer Mohan (a close cousin of the Bengali Raj Bhog), the crisp Laung Lata (Bengali Mohan Bhog counterpart) and the Kamal Gatte ka Halwa (quite as delicious as Moong Dal ka Halwa, but made from lotus seeds), I realised that however clever I think I am being when it comes to asking for small portions, my pit-like stomach always gets the better of me. Always.
And to go back to my bit of bad/good luck. I choose to see it as a piece of good luck now because it gives me the chance to go for a better, new one. Bad luck to the one who stole it. May he experience the devilry of my phone*evil cackle*
It happened yesterday after an evening of loitering around with friend S in a mall. I was particularly enjoying my stint in a small Miss Jo shop trying out different kinds of wigs. And craving for an electric blue, waist length one which I would have definitely bought had it not been the end of the month. I could visualise shocking the wits out of my bugging relatives during the pujas three months away besides of course making my boss's eyes bulge out. After some clowning around, a lot of window shopping, we -- S and me -- got down to a spot of serious expensive shopping at the FCUK store.
It was only when I was seated at a coffeeshop and rummaging in my bag for it that I realised it was in the changing room of the store. So therein lies the story of the stolen phone. That has gone away for good. And in the aftermath of which I have been lying awake all night trying to figure out when it would turn 6 so that I could rush to the gym. I woke up at 10.
I also think I am feeling the beginnings of a sore throat *note-sip on your favourite caramel cappuccino right from morning till noon*
But I am grinning as widely as a Cheshire Cat. Seven glasses of Champagne count, right? For once however I supplemented it with a generous helping of batter-fried chicken drumsticks done crisply to an oily perfection. They were balanced out by bland cheese and jalapeno croquettes.
It was colleague H's wedding reception at a farmhouse.
We entered early, so everything was pretty quiet. Made friends with the place and the people who were there (who happened to be the bar men) and settled down with our respective glasses.
For a while I remember subsequently gabbing away with Jabberwocky about books. It felt good. I wished randomly and suddenly that I had a library room here in my rented flat in Delhi as I have back home in Calcutta. I miss it.
Ok, but I am back. I have to be back. Living in a fool's paradise does not work.
The evening was beautiful. H was glowing and looking beautiful as she stood elegantly dressed in a cocktail dress and stood by her husband's side to usher us in. A slight breeze ruffled our hairs and dresses. Then this crooner and her guitar-strumming partner took their positions on the dais and turned the night into mush when they started on with their love songs.
I could close my eyes and see myself by the sea lying back on one of those lounge chairs, feel the salty taste on my lips and the cool breeze sweep through my being. Or slowly walking by that vast inky darkness. And I knew then as I have before that I have to have my wedding on a beach just like this. With music in the background and guests all chilled out. Not bothered about how heavily dressed they are, where is the sari from yadda yadda but how the evening promises to move ahead in a haze of happiness with dancing, drinking and eating.
Will I ever get it?
Tagged by ABY!
I like tags by now. They make me think of things which I probably don't get to think of otherwise. This one is about reminiscing and hey, nothing beats a touch of the past to make one happy. So I will make it 2 posts per head.
But there's just one hitch. I cannot master the art of linking, so I guess I will be pasting all the related posts following this. I believe this will be one long long post!
Ah my family. Now I have written about them in fragments really. But this was the one post that I found brought back some happy and funny memories for me from the puja of 2005. That year it was in October. So I returned and here's my post from October 25th.
Well I am back. Two weeks of home was bliss.
The smell of the dhuno, the bhog, the smell of homecoming - I was so glad to be back in Calcutta.
We have a family puja which is some hundred years old (my father, heaven forbid, if you get him started on it will give you the history as vividly as possible and bring out the family tree chart as well). We rotate the Durga Puja among three houses, ours being one of them. But this time it was at an uncle's place.
I rediscovered many things at the puja. Amongst which foremost was a crush on a cousin. A distant one - may I point out! I still feel the same way and I was strongly tempted to talk to him about it. Thankfully this time I let my impulse take a back seat.
In the same house was my aunt's husband who is bedridden. He has cancer. From a healthy good looking man he has been reduced to what I cannot even call a shadow of his former self. His daughter has come down from the States to be with him. Apparently she has been crying all the time, so her husband sent her back. The aunt couldn't even smile properly when she met me. I felt like hugging her and telling her everything will be okay. But that was the one thing I just could not do, could I?
On the second day of sapthami I realised that I was only the youngster around. Otherwise it was only my parents, and my uncles and aunts. Would my generation ever take the pains to carry on this tradition? Seems highly unlikely. All my cousins are abroad and scattered in different parts of the country.
The relatives were highly flattering though. I was a major celebrity among them. "We read you every time and wonder how you know so much!" By the end of it my jaws were aching with smiling. Next they leapt on to what is their favourite territory. "Have you found a guy for yourself? What is it with you girls that you do not want to get engaged?" asked aunt A whose daughter N is the same age as me and studies in London. "I am telling you what I tell N. When you have a slim waistline, guys should fall in line. Is it that you don't want to commit?" she asked.
And she launched on to a story. She recently visited N and was very excited about her male friends. "It was a reunion. The first guy whom N hugged and kissed was this really good looking guy called Simon. I was excited. She introduced me to him and then his girlfriend. Some time later she hugged another guy, Paul, and told me he was a very close friend. He was not bad looking and I tried hard not to raise my hopes. She introduced me to his parents and siblings. I thought this is the one. Till another guy came along and she introduced him as Paul's partner." What was aunt A getting at? Get yourself a guy.
My parents did the best they could to remedy that in their own way. On consecutive days, there were two guys, AG and AGT, to see me along with their family. With the two meetings coming to an end, I have realised that I don't want to get married in this way.
Being asked what I cook, why my Bengali has an accent (I don't. AG's father insisted I had. I didn't bother to argue after a point), why I want to get married (I replied very honestly to this. My parents want me to, I said. AG was of course not happy with it), what I had talked about with the guy can you believe this? AG's uncle asked me this. And I rattled it out.. what are my working hours, what am I looking for in a guy, why I want to marry blahblah. Till the uncle looked at me and said you are a quite a child. I was pissed).
AGT was nice but I got brotherly vibes from him. My mum couldn't believe this. "You can adjust," she said. I couldn't think of either as my partner. My folks were very disappointed. "Mamma, do you want to look for yourself? Is that it?" my father asked in a concerned manner. And then, "How do we say no to them now?" But there's always a way out. My father has figured it out by now. Besides the boy and boy's family meeting girl sessions I endured, I did something I have been obsessing about. I had KFC. I overate till I felt sick.
And I went cycling. The weather towards the beginning was fabulous in Calcutta though a bit humid. But once I was on the cycle, I felt the world was at my feet. It felt so right.
All in all I was the perfect daughter (I did not fight for a single day). Except for the last day when I fought with them. We did make up before me leaving however.
Funnily I didn't feel much homesick after reaching Delhi. The weather is perfect. It's not so bad to have two homes after all.
This second post on my family is from March of 9th in 2006. It really tears me up.
How many times must a man look up/ Before he can see the sky?
It was my once-a-week home dusting spree yesterday night. And as it happens when you come across photo albums, you rifle through them and feel happy in the warmth of the past.
I have two albums of my childhood with me here in Delhi-- one with pictures shot in Oman and the other in Thailand. Just before this I had come upon something that was written by someone who will always be special in my life, regardless of how complicated he is. I was feeling blue and wondering how things never turn out the way you want them to. A look, however, at those photos of me in my baby clothes posing with my mom, dad and bro put a smile on my face.
Memories kept flitting in as I turned the pages of the album. Dresses which I had a thing for as an 8-year-old -- a sky blue nightie that made me feel like a queen, an orange and brown checked dress which gave me an Alice-like feeling because that was the time around which I watched Alice in Wonderland (I even remember Alice's face right now. Amazing really, given that my memory quite fails me at times, especially when I want to recall the faces of old schoolmates), a frothy lacy pink concoction of a dress that I would always be made to wear for school functions. Maybe dresses fascinated me because I was perpetually in jeans or trousers, often my brother's hand-me-downs. Which is why I guess I am so fond of skirts now.
Photographs of my mother and father - then in their 40s and 30s (they had me pretty late) - my mother young and beautiful with her fair lovely complexion and my father in contrast really dark and robust with the same thinning hair I have seen since I can remember. It was a standing joke then. My bro and me wondering aloud in front of him whether his head ever brimmed with hair. "Yes once upon a time when I was really young," he would say. But then we would come across his black-and white pix and bawl because dad never really had much hair on his pate.
Photographs of dinners organised by my mother. It was a party-like atmosphere in Oman when Indians, Germans, Iranians and Pakistanis would throw parties very often to escape boredom. Mother says there was not much to do. But I was well entertained with what we did - go for long drives, spend time by the sea, climb mountains, or go shopping in supermarkets to stock up the larder. My personal favourite past time though was sitting in front of the telly and gorging on my quota of cheese balls, 7up can watching Tom & Jerry and Bugs Bunny. And even though I studied there till I was 8 years old, I am surprised to say that I have no memories of studying. Not one! That feels nice.
As for the Thaliand photos, they had the complete feel-good look. The brilliant blue skies, the clean waters, the long stretches of beaches, my mother in her yellow silk sari, me in my polka dotted yellow frock with my four front teeth missing, my father who had developed a good paunch by then and my brother a long and lanky teenager who looked distinctly disgruntled with life at times...
Now I see how things have become. My parents have aged. My mom's skin,which was once flawless and glowing, has developed pigmentation, while my father has become very thin. My brother wants to marry someone whom my parents don't like. There's kind of a cold war going on between them as a result. So when I say this that the time I spent reminiscing made me feel good, I mean that it made all the difference to my ageing 25-year-old heart.
Woke up to strains of James Blunt. Then sprayed on S's bottle of Beautiful. As did E. And almost instantly we were taken back to our days of staying together in Malviya Nagar. Umm... I sound disjointed. It's a random state of the mind. You know when you are so happy that you cannot just put it down in words. When you feel like flying around work and making everybody smile cause you are happy.
Now to throw some light on the above. I have been on a kinda roller coaster ride in the last two months. Great highs and great lows. But to quantify, the highs have been higher than the lows.
If I start from yesterday night, I would tell you how I had the most amazing time with ex-flatmates S, E and S's husband V. The evening started with S and E making me wait at Sarojini Nagar Market for half-an-hour. After which we set ourselves on shopping, shopping and shopping for 33-100 ruppee skirts and what not. In between, we were caught in this shoe shop (Soft and Sleek -- if you are a shoe freak, you must visit this shop in SN. It rocks and I am not exaggerating), mainly thanks to E. It almost felt like we were part of the staff at the shop -- only we were trying out all the shoes under the price tags that said 150, 200 and 300 ruppees.
Some more shopping and we were finally out of SN. Once at my place, we of course modelled all our clothes and each of us had two more opinions to count on (I shudder to think of my bed. It is a humongous pile of clothes). By the time, we were out, dressed in our respective new buys -- E in her 'bordello' top (an affair in red topped off with sheer net), S in her lime green sphagetti and me in my new tunic -- we were pretty late. So much so that we reached GK and found that we were walking down the middle of a ghost town. It was only 10 pm.
But Gelato Vittorio was open. "You got us here for gelato?!!" the two shrieked. But since it came right at the point through which we entered the market, there was not much choice left for them. I was conned by the guy behind the counter in to buying two scoops of Chocolate Hazelnut Crunch and Whiskey Irish Cream and shelling out Rs 135. "Divine justice," mouthed E and S.
Since there was hardly any dining option, we sat ourselves in Yo China. Where I did an Obelix. As in picked on three plates of Crispy Honey Chicken and ate my through a huge plate of vegetarian noodles. The fact that I could move on my feet after that was in itself a piece of good luck. Meanwhile V had joined us and had what he said was soup that tasted like nothing he had before. It was not a very appreciative comment actually. And E had met her friend who is getting married.
When all was done, the four of us headed to Shangri-la. This time for coffee. I have probably never laughed so much in my life what with old stories and reminiscences of our recent trip to Murud Kashid together. I think you have never heard of any one drunk on chicken. I was. It was so bad that I was planning to rest my butt on a water-filled platform in the hotel. S stopped me thankfully. Thus we ended our night or should I say started today.
But truly, simple pleasures create such great memories.
This second one is special. It is about S's wedding partly on April 12, 2006.
Have you ever got up at 5 o'clock in the morning for a wedding? I did and since it was S's wedding, so did she. Actually whoever attended the wedding did. You see, it was a Tamilian wedding. I had stayed over the night before at E's place, so we could go together to the venue. So bleary eyed we somehow managed to wrap on our saris on the morning of April 3 and rush for the wedding.
The wedding itself was alfresco with a shamiana for the guests and a pretty pink pandal decorated with flowers for the bride and groom. S was wearing a maroon sari with a broad gold belt. She shooed us out of the room where she was getting dressed. I wonder why. Why S?:-)
Mr S's relatives crooned as the ceremony took place. And as the fresh morning breeze carressed us, it felt nice. It was not a very long affair. Soon we were cramming down samosas and jalebis.
Then there was a short Bengali ritual that S and Mr S observed. Where they dipped their hands in an earthern bowl and had to fish out a ring. In the meantime, there was Mr S's Irish friend who sang two Rabindrasangeet songs very softly. Apparently she had picked them up in Benares where she has been staying for some time now. Mr S himself sang a song. And could we resist asking S for the same? Of course not (now if you have known S, you would know that singing is just not her forte;) But it is amazing how family can come together. The minute we started off, S's aunt came in and said, "Ok now it's time for breakfast."
By then all us sari clad women were feeling pretty hot and bothered even though we were inside an air conditioned room. But S's mom and aunt insisted we stay back for lunch. So there we were -- E, B, A (that's Tatonnement) and I struggling to find some way to entertain ourselves. It was a struggle alright but it was fun. The evening reception was fun. S looked very good and relaxed. So we left S very much a married lady now. Now I hear she is having a great time in the South. She's heading next for Goa.
As soon as I landed here in Delhi, it was time for Fashion Week. Jacquards, silks, nets, velvets, balloon skirts, frills, ruffles...I think at the end of three days I was ready to throw up fashion. But it was good to see eye candy material in the form of Suchitra Pillai's good looking firang hubby. The two designers who managed to put a finger on the pulse of the girls in the audience were Manoviraj Khosla and Arjun Khanna. They had only men walking the ramp and after watching just semi nude females, I must say it was very refreshing.
Aha how can I miss out the food that was specially put together by Shikha Sharma. It was all low calorie stuff but I wonder how low cal could it get if you really piled up your plate. The amount of baked fish I had two times a day for the five days can probably make up for the lack of it in my life the rest of the year. What I freaked out was with the dessert spread out there. Blueberry cheesecake, apple strudel, rich chocolate cake, fruit tarts, kulfi, malpoa...the list would run at least a mile long. Lunch and dinner were clearly the highlights of each day for me. I wish my mother could have seen me at work on during meal times. There's no way she wouldn't have done a double take.
Fashion week is fun but it leaves you as exhausted as it can. So I am kind of glad to get back to my normal routine. Except the day we got back to office, there was a fire here. Though some of my colleagues made fun of us for running down with our bags, the same night I caught the Meerut Fire clips on the channels and realised how scary it can be. Especially that our building has no fire exit. Just one entrance. It's liking waiting for a disaster to happen.
I posted this on April 20 of 2005. I quite think it captures me. My gaffes.
Musings of a mosquito-infested night
Yesterday night as I was being bombarded by a contingent of mosquitoes that invade my room every night, my mind wandered to certain incidents in my life, incidents when I found myself wishing I could wave a wand and undo everything or simply disappear from the face of the earth.
1. Like when I had convinced a friend that he was a nitwit. We weretalking about Egypt. He said it was in Africa. I gasped at his foolishness and said, "O my god! What's wrong with you?" Anxiously heasked me what was wrong with that. I replied, "Well, it's in the Middle East. For god's sake, don't reveal your ignorance to others." Well, I took a peek at the Atlas and I was foolish enought to call him up and admit my ignorance. Till this day my friend doesn't lose a chance of rubbing it in.
2. Last year I had gone on a junket to Palampur in Himachal Pradesh. The PR person took us around to show the local attractions. There was a temple high up in the mountains called Jakhni Mata Ka Mandir. Now when I reached there, I saw these rows of big and small trishuls (tridents). I lifted one and sidled back to the vehicle with it. I was very happy about it. Don't ask me why. The adrenaline was flowing high.
The PR guy told me,"If ever you want to get rid of it, call me. We have a temple at home where we will put it." I pooh poohed him and came back to Delhi only to see my flatmates shocked at the sight of it and warning me that it would bring bad luck. They made a deal. I had to keep it in my room. I was ok with that.
But as I relaxed in my room and read a book, I just couldn't take my eyes away from it. It was thoroughly freaking out. By night, it was out on the balcony. And the next day I called up the PR guy and almost begged him to pick it up from my place. He obviously had a good laugh. Whenever he calls me, even now, he reminds me of it.
3. While I was studying in Delhi, I went back home for the holidays. I went to the library room (the exclusivity of visiting this room is mine, or so I thought) and checked to see if all was in place. It was not. My mother had very conscientiously dusted my books. Nothing was in its place. That's one thing I just cannot bear.
The absence of one thing was particularly conspicuous - a photo frame that displayed the smiling face of a crush of mine (I think of it now and cringe in embarrassment). This meant it was in the safe custody of my mother (In the past, when I was a kid, she would catch me sneaking Enid Blytons and later MBs into the bathroom, where I would spend hours with them. Those books were confiscated by her and gone forever because it was eating into study time).
At night the same day, when I sat down for dinner, my mother looked at me with a suspiciously naughty glint in her eye and said, "Not a badlooking guy at all." I put on the most innocence face I could pull off. But I guess it wasn't good enough.
4. I think this was the worst. I had gone for an interview with tennis player Vijay Amritraj. He was talking about a soap that he had acted in and which ran on the lines of The Police Academy. "Have you watched Police Academy?" he asked. I said: "No. Actually I am not into action." In a matter-of-fact manner he told me: "Well, it happens to be a comedy."
Oh I want to go back to this time again! March of 2006:
Yes my bags are packed and I am ready to leave for Calcutta. Ten days of lolling around. I am so excited.
This is exactly the kind of life I want to lead. Pack my bags every week. Last week this time I was leaving for Palampur and Mc Cleodganj. It was an amazing trip. I can still feel the cold mountain air. Actually I was working on a story and stayed at a tea plantation for a day in Palampur. It was beautiful, the snowcapped Dhauladhars, the gurgling brook in the valley...that reminded me of Tennyson's Brook...you know that poem with the refrain 'Men may come and men may go but I go on forever'.
There was yummy homecooked food rustled up by the cooks at the estate. They were such people. Sarwan and Dharmo. They belonged to the local tribes -- the Gaddis and Dhogries. They reminded me of the good old servants who take care of you and make you feel cherished. Sarwan's gajar ka halwa was one of the best things I had on the trip.
The highlight however was my walk back to my cottage at night from the lounge area which housed a television. It was a Sunday night and I was desperate enough for Desperate Housewives to stay back in the lounge at 10 pm. The whole place was eerily silent by then. Everybody had gone to sleep. Now leopards are commonly seen prowling around the estate. All I could do was sit with an irregular heart beat and check my watch every 5 minutes to see whether it was 11 yet and when the soap would end. It was that bad. I was shit scared. Further the owner had showed me photographs of the British planters who owned the estate in the 1800s. And a picture of the planter's wife who had died here during the devastating earthquake of 1905. I kept looking at the glass doors thinking that any moment I would see a face staring at me. And I swear when I swtiched off the lights of the room and ventured out, I heard a rustling in the tea bushes. That was it. I ran for my life and for the shelter of my cottage.
It did not end there. You see I am rather a coward. I just couldn't go to sleep. I called up E who thought it was adventurous and sounded fun. "It must be good for newly weds. Roam around in the morning and have sex in the evening when there is nothing else to do," she mused. Even trying to read an MB didn't help.
Next morning I set out for Mc Cleodganj where I had spinach and potato momos for Rs 2 each (they were delicious especially as it was drizzling with a cold wind blowing. A monk called Tenzing egged me on saying they were the best momos to be sold there), listened to the Dalai Lama and couldn't make out anything of his Tibetan chants, saw nice looking firangs most of whom seemed like they needed a bath badly, searched for a monk I knew at the Namgyal Monastery but was told to look at the archives so didn't bother, bargained with a ruddy faced Tibetan junk jewellery seller who didn't relent much, sat down in a cafe and enjoyed piping hot coffee with macaroni and walked down to the St John's Church in the Wilderness (where Lord Elgin is buried) and thought I would get raped and thrown down the forest (it was that deserted, on top of which it was a dark and windy day). I did as much as I could do in a day before I set out for Delhi in the evening.
Now I have made some more plans. This time it goes like this: six months of the year I can spend in Goa, from October to April. The rest of the year in Mc Cleodganj.
Now I have to figure out some way to do this.
I would like to leave this one out. But I am writing about sad twists to it. The first post is in June of 2007.
Happiness is so transient. Just when you think that something good is finally happening to you, the kind that you hear happens to others, it all ends with a bang. But this I have come to believe from this particularly mind numbing experience that please do not take away from anyone her right to truth.
It makes you wonder whether you can take anyone at face value ever again. Actually, I just met someone. I had not previously, but I had seen his snaps. For two weeks I kept talking to him on the phone. Daily conversations that would extend to 3 am. He said all the right things. Of course I waited for that toe-curling feeling that accompanied those calls.
And then I met him. He flew down from Bombay.
A brief recap of what took place that evening.
1. The moment I set my eyes upon him, I wanted to let it out: "Err...you are NOT the same person I have been talking to!" The pictures he had sent me must have belonged to his brother. This guy looked at least 40.
2. He was a pansy creature. Too pansy for my comfort.
3. He insulted a girl who was trying to promote some wine to us with the words: "Do you realise you are interrupting an intense conversation!" And let me tell you what the intense conversation was about -- it was about my level of inanity. I was horrified. Next a waiter while passing us by asked him if he wanted another round of drinks. He received no response. So I had to turn to the hapless waiter and say: "Sorry, I don't think he wants anything else." Was he classless!
I have been never so humiliated in my life as I was sitting in that beautiful restaurant-bar. Whenever I asked him a question, he would turn his head the other way, turn back to stare at me and then say nothing.
4. Apparently the fact that I had chosen to simply sip on a cranberry juice had put him off so much that he couldn't bear to order a drink for himself or talk to me at all. And even though he did eventually ask for his favourite tipple, he would not talk. Just stare at me.
I have never spent a more strained 2-hour rendezvous ever. To the point of desperately wishing that anyone, just anyone, would rescue me.
Disbelief, shock, numbness, sadness and an incredible surge of anger that made me want to throttle the guy -- a variety of emotions has been keeping me busy the last two days.
And right now I have one wish -- that I could press the delete button. On all of it.
This was another weird phase in my life around December last year. As you can see I don't have any posts that really scream love. Doesn't it say anything?
How high does the sycamore grow?/ If you cut it down, then you'll never know...
Life has been beautiful since the last few posts here. Ever since I returned from Calcutta. I learnt a lot too in those days. Like how you should learn to ignore strangers on the road and give them a wide wide berth, if you want some peace of mind. All I do is plug my iPod into my ears and go with the flow of music. Often I sing along. Yes, I am sure I look funny, but who really cares. The thing is we all learn to be happy.
But life is ironic. Things happen which you never thought could happen to you. Some time back I was out with a guy and I happened to meet his best friend, a photographer from Bombay, at a nightclub here. We danced together. That was the first time we had met and I had liked him a lot. It seemed the feeling was reciprocated. He had asked me if I would go out with him again when he returned to Delhi. There were some complications. I was not his friend’s girl or anything but he seemed to have got the impression.
After a long time, 8 months to be precise, photographer guy called. And suddenly at the end of the conversation he wanted me to be his girl. I was completely taken aback. I was floundering like crazy. I did like him but I certainly didn’t see THAT coming. Since then we chatted a few times. But one day I got very freaked out because he was thinking in terms of us setting up house together! He talked of converting for me (he belongs to another religion). On top of that he pronounced some words a bit funnily. And he has studied in a not-so-great college. Do I sound very superficial? It’s just that I do not want to be ashamed of the guy I am with.
One night I told him that we shouldn’t even talk because it would go nowhere and that he was rushing things. He wouldn’t hang up without a proper reason and really I couldn’t think of any except the religion card (which I admit was very cheap of me and wouldn’t really matter much to me). Finally he said he wouldn’t ever call me up.
A day passed. The next day he called. This time he said that he had to meet a girl from his own religion. “My mother and sisters are trying to set me up with her. And you cannot imagine how beautiful she is. You will lose your senses! She is so much more beautiful than you” -- was what he had to say. My reply: “Good for you! Go for her then!” I was hurt. I have never claimed that I am a beauty queen. So I thought that was pretty nasty and unwarranted. He ended the conversation with the fact that he had made up his mind about the girl he wants to be with. Then three days of silence and he called yesterday with a story about how that girl turned out to be pregnant. And how he was pretty astonished about me not calling him once.
Let me confess. I was a bit cranky about the absence of calls or text messages from him.
Right now, I am so confused. I really do not know what to do. I don’t even know much about him. He was supposed to come down to spend New Year’s Eve with me. But I told him not to. WHAT do I do?
Anything I like
I like this particular post. It makes me feel nostalgic and sad but it makes me feel happy too in a strange way. From September 19, 2005:
For old times' sake
On Sunday morning, as I lay half asleep on the bed, I smelt childhood. The smell of Quality Street biscuits. The memory of the round tin with the buttery biscuits that I loved chomping down. It was weird because suddenly I thought of all the people I had almost pushed to the back of my mind, to the extent that now I have trouble remembering some of their faces and names. They were old people I knew as a child. For instance, there was Mr X (just can't remember his name) whose house was called The Haven. It was extremely ironical because his son had committed suicide in that very house. He was a sad man, my dad used to say. But to me he was a friend who used to call me Wax, play cards with me and chat with me for hours.
Then there were my three old neighbours. Their houses are opposite to ours. The extreme left hand side is the only one who is still alive. But Mr D doesn't talk to anybody now. I wonder why. He used to take me to the circus and whenever I used to catch sight of his wife we would wave to each other from our respective balconies with much vigour.
The other two are dead. Sometimes I forget it. And I expect them to be there when I go back. One of them, the owner of the house in the middle (It was the prettiest of them all. It was a small villa with flowers all over), was especially dear to me. Mr S had a swing in his house. And every day at 5 in the evening, I would be there to take a ride. I felt very privileged. After all it was not a community park thing that I would have to share with others.
Except that his dog Pixie was a bit intimidating. Initially she would growl and growl (I would make faces at her) but slowly she became used to me. Later I stopped making faces at dogs. Thanks to my friend Amy's dog Teddy, the hugest alsatian I have ever seen. The day he chased me and my other friend Sudakshina all over Amy's place (I happened to have pointed fingers at him which Amy had told me not to), I lost my fear of dogs. So with time I learnt to ignore Pixie even when she was in a black mood.
Mr S died in London. His mother is still alive and a broken woman. She hates the fact that has outlived both her sons.
Dr D, the third of my neighbours, used to give me medicines on every occasion. When I suffered from tummy aches to when I ran high temperatures. Last time I went back home, he was there. Now he isn't.
I miss them.
And there's a relative - an aunt's husband. I have seen him as a healthy man who would sit back and enjoy his drink, drive around a contessa with much pride. We used to live at the same time in Oman. They returned to Calcutta soon after us. I have the fondest of memories with him. Whenever I would meet him, I would plant a kiss on his cheek. It became a ritual with us except for when I grew up. Their house is near to ours in Saltlake. It is an ornate house with his paintings all over it.
When I was in college, I visited his place and carted out a huge canvas that was unfinished. After that whenever I visited his place, he ask me to bring it back for him to give it the finishing touch. He never got the chance. One day he had a stroke. Now he lies on his bed with one half of him paralysed. When I visited him last October, he saw me and tears ran down his cheeks. He couldn't speak. He had to be fed like a little baby by a nurse.
How things change. And how they make one overwhemingly sad.
Experience takes years. And the years teach you a lot. For instance, life isn't as you always thought it would be when you were the ubiquitous school girl with pony tails. When you thought it would be a grand affair and you would be the queen of it all. I can't even begin to count the number of things I have learned over the years.
*For instance, you can never take anyone for granted. Not friends, not anyone for that matter. There was a time when I thought friendships are indestructible. They are always there to stay. I was so wrong. I have lost so many friends over a period of time. A guy I knew pointed it out and said, "You know, maybe the problem lies with you". Is that true? Because if it is, I wouldn't know how to deal with it. But I do try to reach back to friends I have lost. There's my school friend SK. Amy, me and SK were thick till college. Till Amy decided to go to Canada and I had just S with me. Then a bunch of complications crept in, in the form of a man she is married to now, and nothing is as it was. I tried to call her when I went back home the last time. She was kind of funny and she never called me back. Her husband by the way is a professor I took tuitions from when I was in college. I still think he is a damn good teacher but I have doubts about the human being in there. I get the feeling SK is alienated from everything she is familiar and I wonder how she is actually.
I suddenly remembered a silly thing Amy, SK and I did when we were in school. We had stood beneath a tree outside my house and taken a solemn oath. I don't know if either of them would recall that evening when after an afternoon of pure mirth, one of those days when we couldn't stop laughing, we said we would never stop being friends.
*I have also learnt in these 25 years that the only people who you can take for granted and count on with your eyes closed are your parents. No matter what. For sometimes, I feel, you do need such people in your life to create a balance between the let-you-downs and the never-let-you-downs. I don't know how many times I have yelled at them and misbehaved, but they have always been there. Just the other day I told my dad that they didn't have an idea about my choice. This because he had yet again sent me a photograph of an eligible guy (a guywho resembles comedian Vinay Pathak. Now don't get me wrong. I like Vinay Pathak but I don't know whether I would like to marry him). I felt terrible later, but still I didn't call him back. Because I knew the you-are-growing-old-and-past-the-marriageable-age thing would start again. They have their point, I want to tell them, but I can't help it if I don't fall in love with the guys they hunt out.
*There again, creeps in a disillusionment. Life is not a Georgette Heyer tale, where I could say hornswoggle to a rude duke and get away with it and even win his love. In fact, I have started wondering whether there is anything as the perfect guy out there. They say, there is a right time for everything. But is there a right guy? E says its karmic. Since she's kinda in the same boat, she commented: "We must have been kings in our past life with harems. Hence we are paying for it in this life."
*Brothers change. Mine has changed so much that I can't begin to wonder at it. The same brother who would treat me as a pesky little thing and a plaything to be toppled in her walker, has started treating me like I am his older sister. He relies on me and I think I have let him down. He wanted to marry a girl whom my mother never liked. To cut a long tale short, I didn't feel comfortable forcing my parents to accept it. It was complicated alright. Now my mother refuses to talk to my brother and I feel awful about it.
* There's nothing like young love. I met an old crush, a school friend of my brother's, who used to come over to our place pretty often. I was quite young and head over hells in love with him. Ex crush got married a year back and the other day he was in Delhi. When he called and said who he was, I almost fell out of my chair. We met up. It wasn't at all uncomfortable as I feared. I don't know whether he ever had an inclination of my infatuation, but he was very nostalgic. And for once I didn't feel like saying a sarcastic 'Oh yeah' when he commented to my brother: "AB has really grown up R. God I can't believe it." As he was leaving, he gave me a gift. The gesture touched me.
*Experience has taught me yet another thing. One fine day you just bump into someone you have never thought of laying your eyes on ever again. I have a list of such people I would want to meet and wouldn't want to meet. In the latter category would be rock photographer dude. Maybe I should forward it to my guardian angel and trust him to take care of it. And, oh yes, keep my fingers crossed.
I am adding another sixth thing. What else? Old tags themselves! I had to do this after I came across this particular post which was in response to a tag again on August of 2006.
Let's decide the time and place
I have been tagged by Sines. But it's a nice tag. It's about the bloggers I want to meet and where I would like to meet them (I have tried my best to link everybody but I am so horribly challenged that I am resorting to italicizing names). So here's the list:
I want to meet a bad person with a nice body and a good head. He's one of the first bloggers I read and a dear one at that. I think I would like to meet him on a train. It would make a dreary journey seem so much more interesting. No wait, I just thought of a much better meeting place - the Gay Pride:) Still not guessed who it is? Why, it's Jay of course!
I love Mint Chutney's posts, be it her post on her eyebrows, her ex-flames or her cute little kids. I have a pact with Mint. She said she's gonna drop off Chutney at my place soon. So I guess we meet at my cubbyhole in Delhi. Hey Mint, I am waiting...
I connected with Sonal when Mint started the postcard exchange. And I have to say that even though Sonal sent me one soon after she got my postal address, I haven't got around to sending her one. The postcard's still lying in my office drawer. That's how lazy I am! Sadly, I can't make it to her wedding. So, Sonal I will make it up by visiting you in Detroit. Promise. And bring the postcard along:)
Now since Sines has so kindly offered to introduce me to her hot doc friend, I would be very rude to refute it, no?*impish grin* That's a nice incentive by the way. At the rate my folks are going, I would jump at the chance. So I will be generous with you -- you get to choose the venue...
Saltwater blues is mad (Swb don't you dare feel offended because with you I can never tell how you're gonna react to something;)). He loves to delete posts and comments, but he is nice. He's going to help me set up a shack. So I would like to meet him in Goa.
I have to meet Sonia. We seem to have a lot of things in common including our parents. We get to meet in Dubai, if I get to go there that is. The one thing I wouldn't go anywhere with Sonia though is on a long drive. C'mmon Sonia you can't blame me:0)
Rat and Penny Lane - Aha the party girls... They seem to be on a constant roll, so our meeting point has to be a party (maybe in Goa). I would love to get sloshed. I would have company I know!Now let's see how and where we meet.
And whoever reads this, consider yourself tagged.
The last one! From September 2006.
Let's tag you
Since I am pretty jobless at the moment, here's a response to Essar's tag.
I am thinking about........opening a shack. If only I could come up with a plan to lure a venture capitalist into parting with some dough. I have the name of the shack as well a theme. Of course t is going to be in Goa. So if any of you are interested in sponsoring a shack, do let me know.
I said.............yes to two partners for the shack.
I refuse...to toe the line.
I want to....get married without any rituals or anything on an island. Cyprus.
I wish.....I could go back to my school days, not for anything else (certainly not the studies), but the lovely friendship I shared with AM and SK. Those morning walks to the Central Park from where we used to come back to my home in a rickshaw and then collapse on the sofa while my mother had hot pakoras and chilled orange juice ready for us. After a short snooze, AM and Sk would leave for home. And the evenings when we used to hang out at Scoop. Those were the days.
I hear.....Let me say that I try to avoid hearing anything most of the time. Nine out of ten times you will find me with the headphones plugged in.
I wonder...What is up with SK. Is she happy with her husband? There's no way of finding that out it seems.I regret....oh so many things. Most of all I regret my impulsiveness. There have been so situations I have wanted to undo -- situations that were a direct outcome out of my impulsiveness.
I am...a dreamer, impulsive and lazy.
I dance...to anything in particular. But not trance. Somehow I can't figure out how to sway to it. And I love shaking it especially when I am high. The last time I really got drunk and danced like a crazed person was at a party thrown by my erstwhile newspaper. Oh was it fun!
I sing...Breathless by The Corrs. I love the feel of it.
I cry....once in a while. When I am feeling real blue. But then again, I do let those fat tears roll down -- when I am watching a film. I can't seem to stop myself:) And I remember that crying used to be a part of my life when I was with my previous office. I would rush to the loo every day after my senior had a go at me and after I returned my boss would ask me what was wrong. He would actually counsel me and say that I had to take care of myself since I was on my own in the city. At times like those he could be nice.
I am not always....finicky. There are some things like a cluttered room, badly handled books and an unlean loo though that can raise my hackles considerably.
I make with my hands....salads and veggy dishes, mostly to sustain myself. But I must say this for cooking, that it is a great way of destressing. On days when I feel very tired, I need to chop onions, beans and let the smell of garlic soak into my senses to feel better.
I write...for a livelihood. And I quite like it except at times when I am feeling particularly jaded or have to come up with story ideas. I want to throw all of it then and poof! just disappear.
I confuse...places when I am home. I don't know how I do it considering I have lived most of my life in Calcutta. I think I know Delhi better. Wonder whether that says much;)
I need...a corkscrew. To open a bottle of Zinfandel and Chenin Blanc that are tucked into one end of a rack merely because I don't have a corkscrew. The last time I tried to pry the cork of one loose with a knife, a huge portion of it landed plop on my lap.Nothing like a tag to bide time. Are any of you as jobless as me at the moment?
I need them desperately. I wish I had not thrown away the ones I had a few years back. I also wish that I had learnt how to walk around or run around on one. At least it would help me run!
Of late I have had two individuals in my life -- both girls -- who seem to mirror me to the point that I want them to disappear. I am not kidding. And for the life of me, I cannot get over the irritation of having someone (oh no, make that two of them), echo everything I say, adopt my words and magnify them so many times over, that I am left thinking, 'Uh, didn't I just say that?'
A friend remarked that it does seem pretty flattering. I told her to think twice and many times over if she really thinks as such.
So I have been waiting to buy this particular author for a few days. Yesterday one of these ladies was with me as I was about to buy the one copy that I found after days of rifling through numerous book stores. What did she do? She pounced on that one copy! Doesn't matter that she has heard of the book from me. Today she tells the same friend (the one who thinks I should be flattered by the attention) that I wouldn't have let AB take it away from me for the world.
I go to a coffeeshop and a common friend mentions it to the same lady. She wants me to take her there. I go and buy a certain eyeliner. She buys it.
The other one is equally entertaining and as exasperating. She has a fascination for everything 'hip'. Partying in south Delhi, hanging out with 'firangs' and living in Defence Colony! She is fond of me for all the wrong reasons -- because I have guy friends with whom she can party, firang friends who seem to be the new 'in' thing for her and the fact that I live in south Delhi. One morning she climbs up the stairs of our common office building and tells me and a friend, "I have just come from Defence Colony!" with a famous flick of her hair.
Needless to say for a few minutes I was hysterical with laughter. But now I am going hysterical with sheer dread because I meet both items everyday by dint of working in the same vicinity!
Will there be any respite?
When my lithe little teacher from the Jazz dance classes (I have just joined) raps out those words and accompanies it with a mimicry of our versions of the Jazz walk she has the 30 of us in splits.
Speaking of which, I mean a split, have you ever done one? Not gorged on a banana split, split on someone or been in splits of laughter. Not those ones ok? A split in a dance!
It is incredibly entrancing watching someone do a full 180 degrees on the floor. But when you are kind of slowly instructed to stretch your legs asunder and sit astride the floor aspiring to a similar few hundred degrees, 'entrancing' quite tranforms into 'nerve racking'.
Pretty teacher made us do one today. She made us hold the position for a few seconds -- that seemed to last eternity. Right then the one thought running through my head was 'I am going to be split wide apart right now, god help!'
My hindsight says that at that precise moment had I chanced to see myself in the mirrors there, I would have been found in a dead faint in exactly that position. Which would have been kind of awkward. I am therefore trying to thank god for small mercies.
Go through a split will you? You can then visualise the traumatised lot that walked out of that huge dance studio tonight.
One of them, by the way, has since applauded herself a few times.
I am in Palolem lying on a hammock and reading a book. As I feel a hint of a hunger pang, I find myself loping off towards Hi-Tide, a shack where they serve cheap and yet delicious food. I order myself a crusty cheese burrito and a juicy chicken steak. I sit there for hours and let my eyes soak in the shimmering sea. Wash it down with a breezer or two. And then climb up the rickety stairs of my hut, sit on its verandah and doze off while letting the breeze caress my hair. Of course I wake up in some time to the sound of the occasional crashing wave (ok, ok, so Palolem doesn't have that many crashing waves, but make an exception for me, ok!).
I paddle around in the waves for some time. I come upon a firang guy playing some sort of a drum from Germany. People gather around him and stare for long minutes. I video record him (he's cute too) and set off walking down the beach. I come upon another firang man juggling with a baton. Do I video record him also? Yes, of course. I have time on my hands. Time to idle, jump, swim, paddle, canoe, eat, drink.
The painful reality. I am sitting at home with a swollen jaw. It's difficult to even clamp the jaws shut after this wisdom tooth surgery. Even now I feel like running away from it all -- the funny doctor who took the teeth out, no, literally dug it out, kept calling me 'beta' even though he himself was young, berated me for having a 'small' mouth that didn't open wide enough, so much so that apparently his needle bent for the first time in his career, him calling me 'good girl' patronisingly. Then this other doctor who was actually supposed to do it -- a rather well groomed and good looking man but without an iota of empathy in him -- berating me for not taking my antibiotics and treating me like I was an item (I guess he had some reason. I forgot my X rays both days that I visited him). The helper who patted me on the head when he handed out an ice pack. Harrrumphh to them all.
I am feeling super cranky and each time I look at the mirror I want to bawl at the sight of this super swollen jaw.