Friday, July 31, 2009

A nice evening with cousins

Yesterday I had a bad fall, a sore back, and a reason to stay at home. The cousin I stay with, B, had gone off to work after washing the dishes. My other cousin, W, called up to say that he’d be coming over for dinner that night.

W is, in many ways, so similar and dissimilar to me that if I have anything to talk about, I really can’t think of anyone else to share it with first. We never agree, he always argues, I always stonewall – but that routine means more to me than a lot of meaningful discussions I’ve had with others.

We were talking about our respective work, how drab jobs really erode one, and how I must absolutely stay away from Lokhandwala. Apparently, it’s full of wolves. I’m the recipient of such focused advice because I have recently made a few friends from that area, and one of them has invited me to a pool party this weekend.

“You don’t know how they are!”, he warns me.

“They’re like you, I think.”

“Exactly!”, he says without thinking.

We laugh and I head to the kitchen to finish my absolutely delectable vegetable stew in butter and onion sauce. My cousins peer into the pot and tell me that I should probably not cook vegetables so savagely. “Just because they aren’t animals doesn’t mean you treat them like this. Show some dignity, woman!”, they guffaw. Of course, in the next 10 minutes, W practically polishes off the whole pot. When I look at his plate pointedly, he concedes that the stew was nice.

B, being the youngest of our ilk, is going through some tough situation in his job – the usual – demanding work and demanding boss. W spouts wisdom. I ask if anyone wants dessert and coffee. So, we bring out the chocolate and whiskey cakes and lemon tarts, sit down on the marble floor and talk well into the night.

It’s wonderful being with cousins. A casual, impenetrable comfort zone of doing things so ordinary that they are priceless - whipping coffee and cream to make the best cappuccinos. Me whining at 2:30 a.m. that I need chilled Coke, and B sprinting to Janta to get it. And also bringing me the latest edition of Vogue along with my drink (I don’t understand who’d be selling Vogue in the wee hours of the morning, but apparently there are some things one doesn’t understand and one doesn’t question.) Telling ghost stories (which, in fact, are W’s stories of his experiences with production houses), laughing until you’re snorting drinks out of your nose, making plans for the weekend, making plans for life, falling asleep on the floor with mouths wide open, and waking up to a beautiful Friday morning.

B is asleep. I cook lunch, go for my yoga, and get back to have tea with W, who will leave with me for work.

We get a rick and as I try to clasp my ear-rings, W continues with his tirade.

“I’m telling you…Lokhandwala is full of such fake people…just stay away, okay? You’re family. I don’t want anything happening to you.”

“Nothing will happen to me.”

“They’re fake…”

“So am I.”

“You’re not…and even if you are, you’re a better brand of fake.”

“What’s a better brand of fake?”

“Fake that’s better than the original. That’s a better brand of fake.”

“You never make sense.”

“Of course I don’t. I stay in that mad-hole.”

We reach the part where we have to go our separate ways.

He pulls his knapsack and says, “Mail me…we’ll meet tonight if possible.”

“Sure…where do you want to meet?”

“Come to Lokhandwala…we’ll have fun.”

I get an SMS from B soon after.

“I’ve washed the dishes. If I’m going to Colaba Causeway, you want me to pick up those harem pants for you? What colour?”

I reply to my message. I smile. And I think to myself that I’m such a lucky, lucky girl.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

When I learnt oh so much about men

One evening, I was at a coffee shop reading a book. Some guy getting coffee at the counter came up to me and asked me if I'd read another book by the same author. I said I hadn't. He smiled and said, "Well, I hope you like this book. If we run into each other, let me know how it goes." I said I would. He smiled, I waved, he was gone.

I shared this with a male friend in the spirit of appreciating easy camaraderie between strangers.

My friend said that the man spoke to me because he wanted to sleep with me. The stranger didn't care squat about the author, he didn't care if we were like-minded, he didn't want to add value to my reading list, etc. "He spoke to you because you were wearing that”, he pronounced. (‘That’, by the way, was a hot ensemble of a ratty blue ganji and worn-out khaki shorts.)

“Really? He suggested a book because I’m wearing that?”, I asked with A-class sarcasm dripping from my voice.

“No! He suggested a book because he wants to get into that”, he chortled raucously pointing at my shorts.

I don’t think too highly of the male species…and yet, I have a better opinion of them than this member of the tribe.

P.S. - (Hey! Someone just recommended a film outside Globus...maybe he wants me to have his babies?)

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Impromptu movie evening

I reached home late last night, not looking forward to eating the dinner I’d prepared in the morning. But I guess I’d cooked under a favourable planetary alignment. The vegetable-daal was quite tasty.

Fortified with good humor, I asked my cousin if he wanted to catch a late night movie some where. Pat came the reply, “I’m not watching ‘Luck’.”

I sputtered something in alarm. Kids these days have no sense of what’s good and what’s not. I insisted that ‘Luck’ would be a great movie, considering its stellar cast.

Like who?”, he asked solemnly.

“Sanjay Dutt, that’s who!”

For the next five minutes, there was laughter. I’ll just put it down to ignorance of youth, to novice dismissal of unparalleled expertise, to not knowing great talent when it’s staring down your gullet, etc. etc.

In any case, I threw a little tantrum when he suggested we watch ‘Transformers’. So, as a compromise we decided on ‘Night at the Museum-2’.

Now, I don’t get newspapers at my place, so I was generally wondering whether we should make a quick dash to Gaiety-Galaxy or Globus or Suburbia. In the mean time, my cousin was checking his mobile. A minute later, he came up with a listing of where the films were being screened, etc. with ticket prices. “Just Dial”, he informed.

And then he went on to tell me that if we went to PVR-Juhu, we’d get free Coke and popcorn as well. I didn’t know ‘JustDial’ gave you that kind of information. If I wasn’t suitably shocked already, cousin coolly asked me if I’d like to know which seat numbers would be balcony aisle seats! I mean…WOW!

Of course, I don’t know if he was serious or if such sarcasm was to strategically get back at family who don’t go watch Transformers, but man, was I impressed! So much so that I left my mobile phone behind at an ATM. (Very nice of the sweet security guard who’d locked up my phone in some red cabinet and handed it over to me with a grunt.)

As an aside:

The movie: the first part is tepid. The second part – man…is it funny or what! The guy who plays the Pharaoh – he is absolutely fantastic. In fact, he plays Phoebe’s scientist boyfriend in a couple of F.R.I.E.N.D.S.’ episodes. Oh, and those fat, singing cherubs…too cute!

All in all, it was a very nice evening. But I sure miss multiplexes.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Ironical...

…that in yoga, the asanas that aid better sex are very similar to those that help easier childbirth.

Something very sweet and nurturing about this.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

This IS serious

An hour ago, I started feeling uneasy. Very uneasy. Something's going to go wrong. I've had this feeling in the past and I've not been wrong about it. So, whoever I know (in fact, even those I don't) - please be careful - especially of cars and addicts. This seems strange - I can't explain it to myself, much less to anyone else.

But everytime I have this feeling...someone I know or know of dies.

Be careful; be very, very careful.

This time, the feeling feels stronger. So, who knows - it could be me. Of course, I can't really say I 'know' myself and all, given that was to be the purpose of this life. But i don't think I could negotiate a longer life on account of being clueless. :-)

If I don't post tomorrow, you know what happened.

But everyone, on a serious note - look out.

I love this city!

Every single day this season - every single hour and evening, every single dawn, dusk, and noon has been so precious. It's had the most perfect winds and the most glorious skies. The incredible walks at midnight to Carter Road alone, only to find oneself in the midst of happy campers, the stunning train rides to town, the impromptu cab ride over the Bandra-worli sea-link at eleven at night with a cab that felt safe and warm, days filled with honest transactions with people who could so easily cheat you, daily goings on with such independence...this city is so much more than just perfect.It's on its way to becoming so all-encompassing and brilliant that my mind truly boggles.

Aeons ago, the Force made the world...when It wanted a challenge, It made the sea. And to tell a saga of It's victories - It made Mumbai.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Where do I go now?

Sometimes, in Mumbai, people giving directions is similar to people offering water to a drowning man. Sweet gesture and just as useful.

I’m outside Churchgate station. A woman walks past me. She looks like she’s not from here…for one thing, she’s wearing pretty shoes in the rain, in the train. And the poor thing is carrying a delicate, paisley-printed umbrella which will get bent out of shape the next time it pours.

She looks about, worried and confused. I think of asking her whether she’s lost. Before I can do that, though, she hails a man and asks him whether he knows a particular building.

The man, who until now, was languidly chewing paan suddenly springs to life, as if he knows the answer to a million dollar question.

He excitedly turns back and points to a cluster of yellow, brown, pallid heights of concrete. “You see that building there, madam…take a right from there!”, he exclaims happily.

The woman, obviously, doesn’t see ‘that’ building! She sees a million, small, tall, low, high, broad, narrow, swanky, mouldy buildings to take a right from.

“Umm…which building, sir?”, she asks hesitantly.

“That one, that one!”, he wags his finger even more excitedly.

“Ah! Okay”, she says.

I know she hasn’t understood. So, as she walks away, I tell her she could accompany me since I’m going that way any way.

We walk. Minutes later, we take a right turn from ‘that’ building…you know, the one that’s so easy to spot, given all the empty space we have.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Simpler movies

I want to watch a movie. My cousin is staying with me now and I thought we’d go for a film this evening.

Now, the thing is, I want to watch a regular movie…you know, the ones with a story, actors, actresses, a s-t-o-r-y. It needn’t be an ambitious story. It needn’t be about the world being taken over by monsters or mutants being tampered with or evil being sucked into the stratosphere. Boy meeting girl, girl misunderstanding boy, both getting together at the end – that’s good enough.

I’ve had it with the Wolverines, Transformers, and Terminator Salvations of the world. (What a name – terminator SALVATIONS!) I suffered through Wolverine. And in office, I suffer through all these conversations about other films where people go… "Did you see how…!”, “I know…it just flew out of…!”, “And the way his car just turned, man!"...and “ I KNOW!!”

Well, I don’t know. In Wolverine, it’s not enough that the fellow is a mutant. He has to have metal injected in him. And then he has to be naked. And then he has to jump in a waterfall. And then he has to be in love with some other freak of nature who can persuade with touch. And they have to be working for the US government! I mean…come on!

Now, it’s come to a point where it’s a comedown if a film has actors that simply, oh I don’t know, act. Conversation in pantry:

Me: I want to see ‘The Proposal’.

Colleague: Who’s there in it?

Me: Sandra Bullock

Colleague: What does she do?

Me: Uh…she’s some sort a rigid corporate boss or something and she might get deported to Canada, so she…

Colleague: Yeah, yeah…but is she like from outer space? What does she do?

Me (confused): No…I mean, she’s from Canada…

Colleague: Arrey…but doesn’t she…you know, fly or anything?

Me: FLY?! Why would she fly?!

Colleague: Oh...nobody flies?

Me: Why should ANYBODY fly?

Colleague: So they’re all…like…on earth? (mulls over the crippling improbability of such a plot) And then what happens?

Me: Well, I think she falls in love with someone in her office.

Colleague: Who does she fall in love with?

Me: I haven’t seen the film…but I think it’s some guy in her office.

Colleague: Who’s he?

Me: Ryan Reynolds

Colleague: No…I mean, who is he? Like he’s a mutant?

Me: Nope. He’s just another guy.

Colleague (very disappointed): Oh…I want to see Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.

Now, see, since when is being a regular human inadequate? It’s not enough to look good and emote? It’s tacky to belong to a normal blood group?

Well, I’d like to see someone who’s not a Ninja, a mutant, a wolverine (who, by the way, is a very stupid character), a half-blood, a satan off-spring, an off-spring of the Gods, a swirling mass of energy, a machine, a robot (who, apparently, is different from machines), a demon, a hero, a hero in the making, a devil in the shadows…

Just bring on the regular mammals, I say!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

I love you too

It’s grey and misty
And windy and loud
It’s the tempestuous embrace
of an exuberant cloud

It’s a canvas of sturdy, wet trees and lanes
It’s a showcase of at least
ten types of rains
They slant and they slash and frizz around in swirls
Some even patter and form laces in a crystallized world

I’m drenched and I’m happy
And I’m ready for more
I’m on my way to the beach
To hear the sea roar

This is more than a season,
It’s much larger than weather
It’s the liberation of a force
That’s broken through its tether

It’s a heart that is wild
And a heart that is free
It’s a heart that has yielded
And captivated me

Information/ Help required

If anyone knows of institutions, individuals, organizations in Mumbai that help with gambling addiction, please let me know. It's urgent.

Friday, July 10, 2009

I know!

You know how, sometimes you see people in miserable situations – good people, smart people, people who should know better – and wonder why they don’t just get out of the pain they’re in? I seldom think of them because it’s unfair and judgmental but more importantly, because…well, it’s more fun to think of myself.

But I think of them in times like this – when I have a toothache. A raging, hard, sore toothache. I know I should go to a dentist. But I can’t. I just can’t. If it were a simple matter of overcoming fear, I suppose I would have tackled it. Sometimes, fear does galvanize one into action. But this is ridiculous. I feel a sloth, a paralysis that just seems insurmountable.

Toothaches should have support groups. I should be able to find someone who I can go to a dentist with. I just can’t bear to go to one by myself. Maybe if someone would accompany me whilst I was kicking and screaming, it would be so much better. Otherwise I have to take a rickshaw by myself, and if I kick and scream in one, they are just going to spread the word amongst all their friends, and no-one’s ever going to be willing to give me a ride ever.

Hmm, maybe I should take a train to a dentist. That way, when I kick and scream, I wouldn’t look so out of place.

Also, I think dentists should make house-calls.

Okay, forget people taking me to the dentist…someone should take me to Kambakht Ishq. I think I’ll LOVE that film! J It looks so happy – everyone looks so jolly and excited – with ache-free teeth. I’d like to see that.

Here’s an idea…what if the famous mystical bird rose from the ashes on a particularly cold day. It was so cold that it actually, ahem, piddled a little. It would be called the ‘Peenix’. Ha ha ha ha ha!

OWW! My tooth! I think this is what I’m getting punished for!

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

It's better to have loved...it's so much better to have loved

A crazy outpouring of joy that just bursts upon everything – leaving it crazed and beautiful…the people, the stones, the plastic chappals floating away in water, a sea getting hammered with rhinestones, flustered crows seeking shelter in strong, green trees, wet, free-flying laundry, the blissful laughter of the hills, the spectacular and the ordinary way a child jumps into puddles and laughs... This is what some call rain. This is what some call love.

You feel it, and you are changed forever.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Help me

You know, if there is a God, he didn’t quite think things through. I mean, why give bad teeth to people and make them suffer unnecessary pain? And to top it all, endow them with a crippling phobia of dentists? Why? What lesson can possibly be learnt through wanting to blow your brains out?

I have really bad teeth. Yes, I neglect them, but I don’t think I have done anything that merits this kind of anguish. The number of root canals I’ve had is unbelievable! I’m sure my mouth has tiny bacteria sitting in gondolas, singing while moving from the passageway of one tooth to another.

With the current pain that befalls me, almost blinding in scope and capacity, I think the bacterial infection is not so much touristy in nature, but migratory. They don’t want to visit and head back to where they came from. They are here to stay.

I need relief fast. I’ll go to the dentist when I can muster up enough courage, but for now, I want some quick remedy that will just please please stop this pain!

Actually what I really need is a team of tiny dentists who’d live inside my mouth, working gently and skilfully at whatever cavities I might have. They’ll clean my molars, and polish my teeth, and gently scrape away any decay that might hurt my gums.

Now, this is thinking things through. And not that it’s the first time the thought has occurred to me, but it bears repeating all the same – I should be God.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Taken

When I lived in Powai, I used to talk about my childhood and college days a lot. My room-mate and I would talk about our earlier years whilst travelling to work or returning from the grocery store. Those were times when I’d flip through a mental black-book of sorts. There were strange teachers, weird neighbors, nasty boys on the streets, haughty girls in school, random strangers in buses, glib pick-pockets at Dadar station, friends I shared tiffin with, the cunning boatman in Kashmir, the braggart outside Mehboob studio, the date who’d got me sand from Sri Lanka. It amazes me now, how much I remembered about these people from such a long time ago.

My room-mate once told me that I’d met very interesting people in life. I should probably catalog details about them. They were clearly more than shadows in my mind. They had become stories I remembered and retold time and again. “Write about them”, she told me. “One chapter on each person.”

I thought it was a superb idea. I told her I’d do it. “What would you call it?”, she asked me. In my mind, I had thought of writing not more than 150 words on each person. In my book, I’d have a sketch of a person’s face on the left-hand side, and a write-up of my most prominent memory of them on the right. It would be a book of faces. I’d thought, therefore, of calling it ‘Facebook.’

‘Facebook’ – a book of faces. It’s such a beautiful name. Of course, it was gonna get taken.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

God bless you!

I reached home last night with only a hundred rupee note in my purse. The rick guy didn’t have change, the shops around didn’t have change, anyone I asked on the road didn’t have change. A lady was waiting for a rick. She asked me how much I owed the guy, took out money from her purse, paid the rick guy, smiled, and went off.

Is there any wonder why every pore my being is always, always blessing this city?