Tuesday, April 04, 2006
Happy Birthday to me - Part One
Very strangely, I feel sleepy now that my birthday is over. It was very, very good – all these celebrations that began a whole day before and continued a whole day later. But now I feel like sleeping in a chilled AC room with soft pillows, crisp sheets, and a fluffy blanket.
However, before this satiety, there was anticipation. And then, the drums rolled.
Sunday, 2nd April, I met my girl gang who I seem to have known for an eternity now. We all used to work in the same office and share an almost unhealthy affinity to food. Of course, some like S and C are vegetarians and then there’s Anumita who likes green salads despite being a non-vegetarian (and you can’t really do much about people like that). But these exceptions apart, all of us like food…a lot.
We met at Mocha at 11:30 in the morning. Some were fashionably late and others were startlingly early and I was pleasantly surprised. Very very pleasantly. I had imagined only C to be there and possibly SK. S is too posh and now works in Bandra-Kurla complex, so I was wondering if she’d actually forsake a Sunday to come and meet me. But she’s a very dear friend, who, through many casual insults, has introduced me to Lokhandwala – the fulcrum of all things filmi.
And then there’s Anumita who I honestly thought had hired an agent who dispensed appointments on whim. Like you could meet Anumita only if you wore Prada or knew about two hair products at a minimum or could list three shades of white – (ivory, off-white, and enamel. There! I qualify.) But Anumita did come in a shiny, long, posh-looking car looking ever the Veronica I had imagined her to be.
All of us did look dandy. We looked at each other satisfactorily and commented on how good-looking our group was. We are vain, that way.
Then, after establishing that all of us looked a million bucks and how consummately deceptive looks can be in that regard, we decided to catch up. The last time we’d met, we were all working together. This time round, several of us had moved away and some were thinking of leaving. So, essentially, we got talking of our choices and why we made them – always the best part of any re-union, I think.
Then Anumita asked me if there was anything interesting in my life. Of course, she had already assumed the worst (that there wasn’t) and she wasn’t entirely wrong. However, I had worked on a singularly engaging storyboard but it was something Anumita made very clear that I could keep to myself. S sipped her hazelnut coffee and tossed her hair about, all model-like.
‘What’s happening to your love life?’
I usually regard such a direct line of questioning to be well-suited for upcoming appraisals (‘How exactly did you contribute to this project?’), but then, what are friends for but appraising you all the time, right?
I gingerly broached the subject of my break-up and while others asked me ‘Why?’, Anumita asked me ‘How?’ It has been several months now but I still feel bad about the ‘How’. The ‘Why’, by now I have it down pat: I’m an Arien and I have shit luck with everybody. In fact, if Cosmo Teen is anything to go by, Mariah Carey (who I don’t really like) is quite proud of this zodiac quirk.
So, I was trying to best well up the tender nuance of how the breakup had been, when there was some shuffling. The food had arrived and Anumita was busy making space for the paninis while C, S, and SK conversed with the bearer for more napkins, salt, or pepper. Oh well. I suppose everyone knows how a heartbreak story goes. But the new tomato pasta in Mocha must be discovered with keen attention.
We then discussed about what exactly constitutes a one night stand. I don’t quite remember how we got talking about this, but I do remember Anumita shaking her head sadly at me…like when a swan looks at an elephant trying to learn ballet. We had a rather sharp difference of opinion on the subject.
I take the term quite literally. You share one night with a stranger, that’s a one night stand – irrespective of what you do. Anumita told me I was stupid (an observation she makes so regularly that I almost got a seizure when she suggested I try and get into a writing program at Berkeley.) She said you had to have sex with the person for it to be a one night stand, because if you just met and played cards or ludo, then that’s plain stupid.
I do think that’s a bit harsh. What if you did mean to sleep with someone but had noticed the person having omelette. So, now you are scared of bird flu and therefore, to avoid trouble you watch Brendan Fraser instead – in one night. That too, in my humble opinion, is a one night stand. Surely, intention counts.
‘There’s no term for something that asinine’, said S. With S, as with Anumita, there’s no holding back the punches. In fact, S and Anumita are pretty similar. When they talk to each other, there’s great repartee gashing. And man! Do both of them loathe public transport!
Lest you term them a snob (Which of course, is the accurate term for them), they show solidarity with the dusty hoi-polloi of Mumbai thus: ‘Oh! We do take public transport – we travel by autos all the time!’
Meanwhile, C and SK were discussing those things where you put money, then you get money…what do you call that? Ah! Yes, investing. They are the ones with the financial know-how. Both have often patiently explained to me that you can actually deposit money in a bank, instead of always withdrawing it. Must try that sometime.
Finally, we made plans…or rather I made plans for all of them to come to Pune. They all said yes and hugged me indulgently. But I’m not going to let them off so easy. Oh no. Each one of them will sit on my poky lumpy sofa.
Finally, it was time to leave. And I stood at the bus stop with the bouquet my friends had given me – carnations. Pink, white, purple, and yellow. They looked so fresh and innocent. Not flowers that come heavily laden with meanings and promises – like roses. Pure, simple, and colorful – like the colors of summer. Like my friends.