Thursday, January 28, 2010

You had to, had to be there

Bandra Fort, last evening. For the reading of Nine Lives by William Darlymple. The session was interspersed with performances by characters in the books – Theyam dancers, Baul singers, Sufi singers from Sindh, and a performance by Susheela Raman. Raman’s performance can best be described with the goosebumps I got when she took that lion of a voice and throw it over the moon!

The fort was decorated with lamps, and there were chattais for seating. Elderly people were having a problem climbing up all those steps, and the inadequate lighting made a lot of people trip…but the place was packed. It was p.a.c.k.e.d.

Now, I’m not one for book readings. {I find it very infantilizing to have a writer read out his book, for God’s sakes. And then go on to talk about it. In my mind, a writer’s primary mode of articulation is the pen. If that hasn’t been wielded well, all the gabbing about ‘what I thought’ and ‘how I felt’ is not going to be worth it. When I write a book, I’m definitely not going to go on any publicity tours. On the other hand, if I write a film script (frankly, I’m more keen on doing that – I have a superb idea!), I’ll go to town talking about it. I don’t know why I’m making that distinction. I’ll answer that later, when I’m a renowned scriptwriter.}

This book reading was different, though. The performances were so rousing! The principal Theyam dancer, however, seemed a little restricted on the small stage. The Sufi singers from Pind arrived really late, after the sound systems were shut off. They were delayed in Delhi on account of official permissions and then on account of fog.

When Darlymple was making jokes on how Delhi officials were making the singers go from one office to another, refusing permissions, the crowd tittered and made stylized ‘Tsk! Tsk!’ noises. But I think it’s a reasonable precaution, considering what happened here last year. The Delhi officials were just doing their jobs, and I for one think that people entering this country, especially from Pakistan, should get the message that it is a freaking privilege for them to be here. You are still getting permission to not only enter a country you attacked, but perform in a city that was ravaged by one of your ilk some time back. And if you are inconvenienced, well, so be it.

I realize it’s not a very mature way of thinking. Also,my bias is likely to be completely unfounded on facts. I don’t know the reasons for delay. Maybe it was bureaucratic ineptitude or whatever. But I can’t get past the November attacks to wish for peaceful relations with that country. I know…the people who came to perform are not connected with the one who attacked us. But I am connected to the people who died and to the place that was under siege. So pardon my reservation against opening my window-sill to allow the plump dove with the olive branch in. Who knows what it’s carrying.

And because I was feeling that sceptical, I waited. To be proven wrong, perhaps. The singers arrived. There were four of them…small, puny, thin, fatigued. But getting ready to play. On stage…I don’t know what I was expecting…but they looked like people. Like, and it’s a cliché to say it, like us. It’s a weird thing to say…but…watching them nervously tune their instruments, quickly gulping water so as not to delay the performance any more…and our crowd…doing their damnedest to be polite…and not shove their way to the exits…I felt really sad. We are good people. They seemed like good people too. But, I still don’t find it in my heart yet to get past the history – the one that keeps repeating itself.

The Sufi singers were so innocent. So naïve in their experience in performing in India…they sang earnestly, then finished their performances, and walked away without a final bow. Even as we stood up to clap for them.

This is not an event I’d usually go to. I’m so thankful to Jaygee to taking me along. Just being there to see so many unexpected little things. Like Bandra Fort cleaned up (from being the usual hotbed of drugs, alcohol, sleaze and smuggling that it was when I was in college). Like getting into a BEST with people carrying original Moschino bags. Like watching people from a hostile place come and perform in front of a crowd they didn’t know what to expect from. (I’m sure they must have had reservations – what if the crowd pelted them with stones or booed them or staged a complete walk-out). Like being part of an audience that, for a brief passage of time, bypassed its nigglinginternal conflicts, stood up and gave thumbs-up signs en masse.

In the sky, a camphor moon shone down on a little fort bedecked with flames. Down below, people who had no business being civil to each other, made tentative eye contact. And smiled.

It’s strange to see how the world changes. You have be there.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Surreal

After a long time, I am reading a book, slowly - line by line, word by word, almost afraid to finish it up. It's Siddhartha by Herman Hesse.

Every night, I go to sleep thinking about this book. Every morning, I wake up with this book in my mind. It's like being in love. It's fantastic.

This morning, I was reading a couple of pages, when I started daydreaming. I don't know what it was about - except that I was seeing myself as this impeccable person. All strong, sinewy, and exuding 'character' of intimidating proportions. I was thinking of designing some kind of a 'fasting' regimen to control my senses. Maybe then I'll become like this Siddhartha - if I tell my brain to shut up, it will. If I tell my stomach to stop feeling hungry, it will. It must be awesome to have that kind of self - control.

Anyway, I was lost in all this, when my cook taps me on the shoulder. She's brought me breakfast (hot porride with bananas and jaggery - it's yummy!) and some new dish she wants me to taste. (Brown rice with brocolli and soy sauce. That's tasty too.)

I make some happy noises and she goes back in to sautee some more vegetables. She's always sauteeing something. Suddenly, she turns back and says, "Didi...I think you should fast on Mondays."

"Why do you say that?", I ask, after I've checked to see if the transcript of my thoughts is getting displayed on my forehead.

"Good for self-control", she adds.

If I ever needed proof that the Universe was listening, I had it right then - loud and clear. So here goes...

Dear Universe, dear mighty, unknowable sanctum of power, dear haven of fulfilment and source of desires and all other patents of hysterical eulogies...you decided to talk to me! I'm thrilled. But to have my cook convey me a message on fasting?

I could do without the gentle comedy. Thank you.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

What can you say about him?

Sometimes it happens. Sometimes, you remember the things that got brushed off to the fray.

Eric Segal’s most popular book is ‘Love Story’ and maybe ‘Doctors’. But I’ll remember Segal for two of his other less celebrated books.

One is ‘Oliver’s Story’, the sequel to ‘Love Story’. The book ends with Oliver taking a run atop some hill. He’s met some interesting women after his wife’s death, he thinks he has moved on, etc. etc. But after the run, he’s standing on top of the hill, surveying the city. The sun comes down, the lights come up, and he realizes that he’s still in love with his wife.

That portion of the story…it’s not spectacularly wriiten. Nothing too quote-worthy there. No dazzling nuggets like, “Love means not ever having to say you’re sorry.” Or “What can you say about a 25-year old girl who died?” But it’s so tender and beautiful, that my toes actually curl when I remember that part. Oliver standing there, alone, looking lost, and knowing that he can’t be with anyone else just yet. No matter how we lose the one we love – death, deceit, drama – whatever…you never stop loving the one who broke your heart.

The other book that is my absolute favorite is ‘The Class’. In my mind, it outranks ‘Doctors’, ‘Acts of Faith’, ‘Love Story’, ‘Prizes’, etc. etc. by spades! It’s a trajectory of the lives of 5 characters over a span of many years. They meet as students in Harvard, leave, some get married to each other, and decades later, there’s a re-union. The most important chacracter, though, in this book, – the one that makes me tingle all over still- it’s Harvard.

Some of my favorite lines and scenes in the book are really ordinary. I don’t know why they stand out in this novel of nearly 400-odd pages. Maybe, its their ordinariness that appeal tome. Made them special. Made them the glittering threads that get undone in the fray.

There’s one girl, Sarah, I think, who’s been married to her brilliant college sweetheart for a few years. Both start working on their theses – similar subjects (not sure, though). Niether have time for each other, and then the guy cheats on her. She finds out. On the night she decides to leave him, she’s sitting on the doorstep of her house. She asks him about the affair and then tells him that she’s on her way out. And he is embarassed and hurt, I think, mainly because she’s not angry. She’s just expected this from him – after realizing the scum-bag that he is. He detects pity. And then, with a lot of bravado, he tries putting her down. He tells her that she’ll never be as brilliant as him, her thesis will never be as good as his, and she’s become so ugly that she’ll never find anyone else to love her. To which she replies, “What I will or will not do is not for you to know. What I can or cannot do is not for you to judge.” She walks. I think that’s what I loved about this segment – her goodbye…dignified, definitive.

The other excellent part in this book is the foreword. Segal has quoted a Harvard alumni in that portion. Someone who speaks about the age in which they graduated. When sex came out of a packet and psychology was all in the mind, etc. etc. And he ends with, “…but what we didn’t realize was that we were a generation.

Segal’s other books have made me feel fuzzy, made me smile or cry or get quiet when I’d see a couple holding hands in Churchgate. But ‘The Class’ swept me off my feet and kept me off the ground for many, many years. I read this book a decade ago. The plots of the story are hazy in my head.What’s absolutely clear, though, is the time of the day I picked up the book, what I was wearing, the place I ate a vada-pav while I first read the prologue, and then how I walked to one corner of the station to get out of the way and read it again. And then read it over and over all the way from Churchgate to Bandra.

I don’t remember the details. I only remember how it made me feel. And that’s how you know you’ve found the true thing. More rare than love, more enduring than hope.

Eric Segal gave me one of my most memorable adulthood insignia - a hero called Harvard.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Making breakfast

After a long, hard walk, it was time for breakfast. Usually, I don’t like cooking. But some days I can sense why cooking can be soothing. Finally, there’s an opportunity for so many senses to take part in creating something. There’s a whole catalog of sensations in each category, touch, smell, sight, sounds, that comes into play even if the meal you’re preparing is simple.

Like that morning, for example. I just wanted a bowl of cereal. So, first went in the golden-brown, crackling cornflakes. Then I chopped up strawberries. I meant to chop up only a few, but they looked so luscious, that I cut up a whole bunch of them. Strawberries are such pretty fruits! All dainty and elegant on the outside, and cheery with almost adolescent crimson cheekiness on the inside. When you take a sliver of a strawberry, the slice looks like a plump, juicy, pink and red visceral silhouette of the Grand Canyon.

After the strawberries, came the figs – all fleshy with their suave brown and green skins. Cutting through one opened up a whole new world– it’s quite mesmerizing – the thumb-print pattern of purple, pink, and brown; the rich grainy texture, the tough edges where you have to use your hands to tear off the ends.

Then peeling whole, cheery yellow bananas and splicing them thin and perfect.

Swirling a large spoon of honey. Like pouring a strain of treacly, desert sunset.

And finally a generous splash of cold, frothy, creamy milk.

That was it. Most of the food came out of cartons – except the fruits. But it felt wholesome, somehow. I suppose cooking gets to be fun because one feels so engaged. Usually, at work, the only body part that has any tactile contact are my finger-tips…when I type on a keyboard. But while cooking…it’s the whole hand. I like the feeling of juice trickling down the palm, or using both hands strongly to break open a fruit, or licking off a few drops of spilled sweet milk.

It’s like all of you went into making something that will nourish you.

My cereal bowl, though not gourmet, looked and tasted so good. So balanced, colorful, fresh, and perfect. So much like the life one wishes to live.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Amazed and wondering...

Sometimes through sameness and bizarre blietzkrieg, through days of feeling small to nights of having it all, through times both waft-y and intense, through figuring it out and it not making sense...I cannot fathom how Gulzar nailed it with such alarming accuracy - "Tujhse naaraz nahin zindagi...hairaan hoon main..." (I'm not angry with you life, I'm amazed.)

How does that man think!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Saturday Night

I had the most amazing Saturday night. It involved waiting up for a new cook to arrive from Kolkata (to cook Ma’s meals until the second operation is through – her dietary requirements have been overhauled quite a bit). It involved going to Hyper City and getting lost in the joys of jars and jars of Waitrose ‘roast sauces’ – plum for Peking Duck, Orange-thyme for fish, Barbecue-honey for meats, pesto and oregano for vegetables. It involved just lying on my bed, surrounded by piles of newspapers and magazines and books, and dipping into these as my flights fancied. Read a sentence from here, a para from there, skim over pictures from something else. I love that.

And it was topped with an experience I’d last had when I was a child. Stayed up all night talking to my mother. I’d forgotten how much I’d missed that. She is, I think, my most favorite person in the world – not because she’s my mom, but because she’s interesting. So interesting that I, periodically pull hair and slam doors. But so interesting that I could listen to her for hours. So spirited and biased and brave! If my mom ever started her own company someday, I’m pretty sure its motto would be: ‘Damn? We don’t give it.’

Sometimes I think my brother could be right. Maybe I am not her daughter, but was found bundled on the back of a dhobi’s donkey. (This story was formulated when my brother, a fat, silly boy of three, saw a donkey on Pandara Road and got excited. Thereafter everything – from his sister whose brilliant acumen he was mighty jealous of, to his imagined friends who’d reserve rides an Appu Ghar and have giantwheels specially placed near India Gate– all came on donkeys.)

Saturday night, I asked Ma if there was actually some problem with me…some problem because of which I can’t handle relationships properly.

Me: Why do some people feel I am too dominating?

Ma: And by people, I suppose you are talking about men? Why confuse me by calling them people? (chuckles at her own joke) Anyway, to answer your question – they find you dominating because you are.

Me: So, that’s my problem, you think?

Ma: Are you mad? It’s not a problem! We’ve carefully cultivated this trait. So, don’t go around changing it. I’m serious – it’s a family trait…so don’t you touch it in this new-found frenzy of self-realization or whatever else you’re learning in those stupid yoga classes. Why don’t you go running somewhere? People who run are more well-balanced.

Me (Ignoring that): No…it’s not a family trait. You don’t have that problem. I do.

Ma: The problem is not that you are dominating. Just that you don’t do it well.

Me: How does that matter?

Ma: If you dominated well, they wouldn’t be rebelling, right? Problem solved.

Me: That’s so…so… it doesn’t make any sense. How does that explain having problem with men?

Ma: Oh…problem with men, you asked…that’s obvious no…they are the problems…Why does that come as such a surprise?

Me: And I suppose your solution to that is to just dominate it all away.

Ma: That’s correct.

Me: A little too simplistic, no? Not to mention absolutely illogical.

Ma: I don’t like logic.

Me: I’m not entirely shocked…but why?

Ma: You can’t dominate properly if you get logical. Maybe that’s your problem. You’re not dominating. You’re logical. That’s dumb.

Me: You brought me up to be that way, perhaps?

Ma: No. You’ve gone on your father. See, he does yoga and all that!


And with that we giggled as the stars passed on through the night skies.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Now, that’s what I call a beginning

Thursday was a really difficult day. It was tough, chewy, and unpleasant – like a strip of uncooked meat. If my mom’s ill-health and travel woes were not enough, I received a horrid e-mail. It was full of such immaculate, glorious obnoxiousness that I should’ve taken a moment to marvel at that epistolary architecture of shit.

The sender of the e-mail was righteous, unfair, judgmental and thought he could get away with telling me what to do. And this martini of sanctimonious, unthinking release was topped up with an ultimatum…that I ‘…better listen good…’

Of course, I got angry. I responded to such worthless pitiful criticism with my own type of criticism (that is both lofty and purposeful, by the way.) Also, I do not like being told what to do. I detest it. My blood actually starts steaming when I hear the words, “You should…” I respond to people like this by telling them what to do – helpfully suggesting areas where they can shove their advice. As far as ultimatums go, well, there is only one way to tackle them, really. I issue several of my own.

But nearly breaking the keyboard typing out a reply didn’t feel any better. It could be because I am really fond of the person I was writing to. Sometimes, it’s just not worth liking anyone. Anyone under 6 feet, 4 inches, that is. Tall people are good people. The other middlings are the troublesome lot.

Anyway, the exchange of emails happened in the morning. But I had this tightness around my chest for a long while afterwards. I really wanted to shake loose that ugly feeling of unease…of anger so sharp that would make me forget to breathe. It’s awful. One shouldn’t get that rankled. But one does. The only thing that got me through that night of constant berating was the fact that I’d be doing yoga the next day. Something to help let off steam, get the mind centred, etc.

But I couldn’t sleep. The night seemed endless. I was so livid that I kept waking up, sipping hot water, listening to music, and going back to bed. And then doing the loop all over again.

Around 4 a.m. (with only 3 more hours before I got into inverted poses), I thought I should sit myself down and take stock of what was going on. Why was I feeling so rankled? One person’s opinion, no matter how important, can’t possibly cause my peace to unravel so quickly.

I didn’t resolve such weighty issues then. I did realize, though, that none of them mattered because I was hungry. Usually I just grab whatever’s there. But then, maybe because I was feeling so depleted inside, I wanted something special. And I didn’t know what. I was willing to endure the gnawing but I wasn’t going to eat something that didn’t feel right.

The next morning at class when I tried touching my head to my knee, it flashed. The idea of what I wanted for breakfast. It was an odd sensation. The idea didn’t so much click in my head as explode in my mouth. I got such a distinct taste that I actually smacked my lips, causing weird glances from all around. (That’s rich, you know, since the guy giving me the strangest looks was in a tube-top, for God’s sakes!)

I have a different cook now. She comes in early, all eager and bright as a squirrel. And she doesn’t like to dawdle. Even before she enters the house, she asks,” What would you like to have today?” And by the time I answer, the frying pan’s out, she’s already chopping up something, kept the milk to boil for coffee, etc. etc. Earlier, I had a cook who came later in the day (she had a key). So it was generally more relaxed. But now, it’s all ‘snap-brisk-quick-tell-eat’.

I had never appreciated a freshly cooked breakfast before, as much as that day though. After my yoga class, I practically bounded up home and waited anxiously for my cook to arrive.

I asked her to make rotis, butter them up good, melt some palm-jaggery to go with it, and whisk up a mug of steaming-hot coffee. As she went about preparing brekker, my home – my world – slowly started getting suffused with this warm wholesomeness. The dough-y, baked smell of wheat, the sticky sweetness of melting jiggery, and the strong fragrance of coffee…it was such a symphony wafting through the house.

And then it was time to eat. When I dipped a bit of my hot, soft roti into the melted jiggery, I practically had song-birds circling my head…and cherry blossoms in my living room. And when I sipped my frothy, creamy coffee, I could practically hear the gush of waterfall and feel the rolling clouds in some tea-garden.

Steadily, this dark granite of gloom I was trapped in, got chipped away.

And when I finished, it was like every pore of my body – sated entirely – exhaled.

Then smiled.

Then said, “Good morning.”

Friday, January 15, 2010

Tagged

I was tagged by the bald guy. I’m not being rude. That’s what he calls himself. (http://desigheeandcoffee.blogspot.com/)

1. What is your current obsession?
I wouldn’t call it obsession…but keep wondering where do feelings, thoughts, and dreams come from?


2. What are you wearing today?
Olive green cargos, an ivory, floral smock (gifted by J), and a teal shrug.

3. What’s for dinner?
Brown rice, spicy daal, and capsicum-potato sabzi.

4. What’s the last thing you bought? Magazines for mum. She was in hospital and I thought some Bollywood gossip would perk her up. (Didn’t quite work, though. My father flipped through it, while Ma slept and kept asking questions like: Who’s Neil Nitin Mukesh? Who’s Kangana Ranaut? Who’s Sherlyn Chopra? Where’s Juhi Chawla? )

5. What are you listening to right now?
Rehna Tu – Delhi 66.

6. What do you think about the person who tagged you?
There’s a reason why cliché’s about men aren’t cliché’s. They’re true. The sender of this tag is proof enough of that. I don’t know him personally, though. But I’m judgmental, and that helps.

7. If you could have a house totally paid for, fully furnished anywhere in the world, where would you like it to be?
A place overlooking the Marine Drive, Mumbai.

8. What are your must-have pieces for summer?
Pink, cotton sun-dress, white linen shorts, candy-striped short cotton skirts, multi-colored vests, and something stringy in crimson, strappy flats.

9. If you could go anywhere in the world for the next hour, where would you go?
Aquaba, Jordan (Spent many childhood summers there. Want to swim in Marina beach again.)

10. Which language do you want to learn?
Not sure if it qualifies as a language. But I’d like to learn Braille.

11. What’s your favourite quote?
The best things in life…aren’t things. – Art Buchwald

12. Who do you want to meet right now?
Salman Rushdie.

13. What is your favourite colour?
Turquoise

14. Give us 3 styling tips that work for you.
Good posture, open smile, and a genuine non-chalance of how you’re dressed.

15. What is your dream job?
Sleep, dream, dress-up, handle babies, teach yoga (to babies…that would be fun!), and write about the rains.

16. What’s your favorite magazine?
Used to be Vogue. But Elle and GQ are gaining ground.

17. If you had $100 now, what would you spend it on?
Work-out clothes

18. What do you consider a fashion faux pas?
Wearing something too tight…with stuff spilling over a waistband.

19. Who according to you is the most over-rated style icon?
Posh Spice (she looks too tightly wrapped all the time. That expression says it all...it isn't a pout; it's pain.)

20. What kind of haircut do you prefer?
Very short, very sharp…like…fingers must bleed if you run your hand through it. (That’s for women.)

For men, long, silky, glossy, smooth. (Not matted…If the man isn’t Shiva, it’s not going to work.)

21. What are you going to do after this?
Go for a team lunch.

22. What are your favourite movies?
Titanic, Naam, Kaante (actually anything with Sanjay Dutt), Lives of Others, Pulp Fiction, Cinema Paradiso, Mughal-E-Azam, This is it (its FANTASTIC!) and for some reason Jhankaar Beats. (There are lots of others…but these I came up with these right now.)

23. What inspires you?
Strength

24. What do your friends call you most commonly?
My friends don’t call me. I call them…stupid. (Some gentle comedy there.)

25. Would you prefer coffee or tea?
Coffee.

26. What do you do when you are feeling low or terribly depressed?
Try to get near the sea as quickly as possible, or sit quietly and write.

27. What makes you go wild?
Wild how? Good wild or bad wild? But…either way…my city.

28. Which other blogs do you love visiting?
I don’t like reading blogs. But some I enjoy: J’s blog (she’s a friend – http://www.teerathyatra.com/), the food and fashion blogs on NY Times, thebeachedshark.blogspot.com (he does nasty really well)

29. Favorite Dessert/Sweet?
Used to be tiramisu. But now…bread pudding.

30. How many tabs are turned on in ur browser right now?
Twelve

31. Favorite Season?
Rains

32. If I come to your house now, what would u cook for me?
I won’t cook for you. I’ll point out the fridge, the micro, the gas, and the plates. Help yourself. And you better make me a cup of coffee while you feed yourself.

33. What is the right way to avoid people who purposefully hurt you?
I don’t avoid. I confront.

34. What are you afraid of the most?
Fear itself. Debilitating. Erodes dignity.

35. When you looked at yourself in the mirror today, what was the first thing you thought?
So, what shall I eat today?

36. What brings a smile on your face instantly?
Babies

37. A word that you say a lot?
Actually

38. When was the last time you had sex?
I think that calls for a session in past life regression.

39. What would you do if you were made President of India for one day?
Not that it’s a Presidential dictat…but if I could be a President of India with powers that have any teeth…I’d be done with Kasab. And also, move for the secession of Mumbai.

Not tagging anyone. Take it up if you want. And yes…do let me know. :-)

Thursday, January 14, 2010

On to tomorrow now! Quick!

I am so pissed off right now. So VERY pissed off. It’s just irritating when one can’t even manage to get a good night’s rest. And then to wake up and go mingle with imbeciles in this world. Surely people are getting more stupid by the second. And unfit and ugly. Like this stupid woman in tight jeans in front of me who was trotting as if it was the lobby of Four Seasons and not the Vashi station. What’ sthe use of dumb legs if you can’t even move fast! And she was SO dumb, she was actually wearing heels. HEELS! 5 sodden, stacked inches! Those jeans must be cutting off circulation to her dizzy brain, am sure.

I’m already snappy because Veronica Dumb-ass Lodge is walking so slowly in front of me, I almost miss my train. Then just as I try to rush past and get ito a compartment, she stops in the MIDDLE of the platform…and combs her hair! She combs her hair! I pull her to one side when I notice a very angry-looking woman (built like a rhino, no less) practically lunge towards her.

I’ve missed my train. I’ve missed my one shot to get to office on time for a meeting. I have missed it. My hands are clenched and I swear, if a guy would have even walked past me, I’d have socked him…just to take this anger out on someone.

This…this…Witch (that’s not really what I want to call her, by the way)…looks at me and giggles. Then she says, “Oops! You missed the train.” At that point, I have half a mind to throw her towards rhino aunty, who I catch a glimpse of now. She has muscled her way into the train and is now yelling at…gasp! a Koli fisherwoman! A woman with THAT kind of guts is not to be meddled with. (The reference to a Koli woman’s ire is not hyperbolical …I have once seen a Koli woman punch a cop – yes, that’s right - in the mouth. The man’s mouth was full of blood, and he had to actually be taken away by two pickpockets he was pursuing. In pursuit he had bumped against this woman and said something unsavoury about her weight. Then one loud thwack followed and well…it also revelaed that petty pickpockets had hearts of gold. Bizarre stuff happens.)

Anyway, Oopsie darling here, has progressed to filing her nails. And I think to myself that with all this spate of suicides happening in the city, this flake will be filled with the joy of life. Why couldn’t she stick her head in a gas oven and suffocate to death? I guess that wouldn’t work because, in those tight jeans, she must already be used to living on less oxygen.

Then another idiot sneezes behind me and startles me. I snap at him, “Kya hai?!” To which he patiently responds, “Chheek raha hoon

I do see someone wearing a really smart FCUK skirt, though, so life’s looking up (as it’s wont to do when you look at beautiful things). But just to suck the tiny mote of joy from my life, the horrible brain-dead mongrel decides to walk past and stab me in the foot with her heel. She looks behind and giggles and says ‘Sorry. Am looking for my scrunchie’ or some such nonsense. To that I reply, with ice-cold, acidic evil dripping from my tone, “I think it’s in the middle of the tracks there.” She doesn’t hear me (a pity, because I would’ve gladly taken her and left her there) and peers around for her stupid scrunchie.

Behind me, I continue to hear sneezes. I do NOT like today. Horrible, horrible day!

Friday, January 08, 2010

Miss you

He was seven
And I was five
We were there,
young and alive

Our bruised little elbows
scrapes on our shins
Our badges of honor
when we'd chase the wind

The skies we'd bottle
to barter and sell
The sea we'd steal
the lies we'd tell

Our crayoned world
Our stretched out time
Our invincible storms
Our destinies' rhyme

Each fear had a face
Each joy, a tear
Being close had no opposite
because he was here

Life was big
And we were small
Had morselled moments
And that was all

Naive summers broken
At season's brutal shore
Alive still, but not seven
Or five anymore

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

A deaf one says good riddance

I could hear you leaving
For some other exotic shore
I could hear your padded feet
Though I could hear no more

I could read the letter
In which you’d said goodbye
Though it was just sky-blue paper
You’d left blank, with a sigh

I could also see the cups
You upturned near the sink
Like that would be the symbol
Of breaking the final link

The door shut softly in the night
Like all doors that shut afar
And when you whistled as you left
There was music from the stars

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Flatmate in Delhi required

An ex-flatmate and a current friend is looking out for a flatmate. She stays in Saket, New Delhi. Lovely house from what I hear of it. And well, it’s Saket, right? So, why should you be living in the house, when you can be grooving at Hard Rock or watching movies at the multiplex closeby? (Yes, the location’s that good.)

Anyway, about my friend – she’s a very good cook. Very Good. (Notice the capitalization, people.) That doesn’t mean she’ll cook for you, though. I used to get lucky because I was her guinea pig for her tarot reading sessions. (Spectacularly inaccurate, but you don’t notice all that when she’s feeding you awesome pasta or poha or pulao.) Oh, and I’m a vegetarian. But I have seen her making and feeding chicken…and some cordon blue chef somewhere is unaware of great competition.

I am not sure, but I think she’d prefer a female flatmate. If you need more details, do write to me: mukta.raut@gmail.com. Will pass your queries, etc. on to her.

And it can’t be said enough…she’s a lot of fun. (Not funny…nobody besides her gets those jokes), but fun…most definitely!

Monday, January 04, 2010

Beautiful stranger

This morning, as I crossed the road to catch an auto, I saw an exquisite woman. She stood in the shade of a mango tree. I think I found her remarkable because she was so comfortable in her own skin. Didn’t seem rushed. Didn’t seem uncomfortable without any of the modern-day accoutrements we use to avoid eye contact with strangers – mobiles, magazines, i-pods. She just stood there, simple and beautiful.

She was fairly tall, and her straw-colored linen dress fell a few inches above her knees. Her calves were sinewy and her arms were shapely. Her arms were toned, sure, but they didn’t look like the overexercised walnut-crackers that some women have. She had shoulder-length hair that seemed to glint of honey-hues when the sunlight shifted through the leaves. Everything about her seemed to have the delicate fading of timelessness – like the edges of a beautiful, heirloom sari, maybe. Her dress was almost white, her hair was almost brown, her eyes were cappuchino but again, almost so. From head to toe, her seasons in the sun seemed to have lightened off some of her demeanour, but admirably so.

The only thing that seemed to be in stark contrast to this bleached perfection was her complexion. It was strong and beautiful and…in some ways…emphatic. She looked like she bathed in the finest cognac to have the color softly coat her skin and make it glow. There was such a gorgeous sheen about her.

As I left in my auto, I turned back to see her again. Around her, the world had gotten busy, and the Monday had gotten manic. But this lady just turned this crazed little lane a background for her portraiture. There she stood, with a wonderful glisten reflecting off her – in the shadows, in the spotlight.