Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Too Much

One of my friends is in the very, very early stages of a relationship. She can talk about the boy for hours at end. She is in that stage when every nod, every gesture, every line of his every email, is scanned, analyzed and filed-away-for-further-discussion-later. Watching her can be amusing but tiring. But we are all giving her time and being patient. It’s her time and we will wait. “Soon this will end” we think. Not in a mean way but in a knowing way. Soon she will calm down and we will then cease to be just subscribers to her love-life daily. She is giving so much that it’s scary. An impatient kind of common friend tells her “Fast-forward to the kiss and then to 3rd base and leave all those emails out” and as I laugh and nod I also think “Boy, did I read every line of every email 50 times too?” and then of course Mr.Gabby never wrote too much. I would write pages and pages and I usually got 5 lines back. Sometimes, it would be broken into 2 paragraphs to make it look like he had actually switched topics. I would skim the lines, realize he was in literal pain while having to write those 5 lines and then sadly note how that pain had all been for nothing. But I would analyze the early phone calls, my friends would pass judgment-calls and opinions and I would never really listen. Because girls rarely share for input, they share because they can’t hold it in. They love the saying-it-out-loud part. Every time you say it, it gets bigger in your head. But I digress; let me go back to the fresh-crush girlfriend. She is reading a lot into his every action. Old problem, nothing new. Women are thinking of kids and the mixing-of-the-laundry while men are thinking about Saturday night and sometimes Sunday morning too if they’re feeling particularly foresighted. My piece is not so much about the difference in the way we think but in the effect that can have. As I listen and nod and absorb with growing alarm how my friend is rearranging her life to allow for circumstances when the boy can get down on that bent knee with ease, I think of Tanya.

Tanya was of a small-town mentality. Though she hailed from Mumbai, India’s fashion capital, I’m guessing it was her upbringing….or maybe she lived in a suburb which she never quite got out of. I don’t know the actual reason behind her nature but it was nevertheless appealingly sweet and a little bit naïve. She had moved to my town for her undergraduate studies and seemed well settled in her mauve painted room in the newer of the 2 girls’ hostels. We were never the closest of friends but we had a decent rapport…and her very dry sense of humor was something I admired, and she thought me to be cool or something because she sometimes copied what I said and maybe it’s my overactive imagination but she often even dressed like me. It was flattering, I should admit, but disconcerting. We were a little too old for the ape-ing business. But anyway, this is not about me and her, though it serves its purpose of giving you an idea of her nature. There was a boy of course. And the boy would chat with us during Engineering Drawing II. It was mostly because he was very bad at it and while chatting he could stare at our ED sheets and rush back as fast as he could and put down what he memorized. I once offered him my back-of-the-envelope-sketch so this process could be made more time-efficient and we would all not have to bother with the small talk. He gratefully nodded and offered his fully completed Physics assignment after removing the staple (copier-ready, in case you were wondering) and those were the beginnings of a solid friendship right there. Tanya did not seem to mind his dwindling chat sessions too. I remember seeing her approach him in a couple of hall-days (socials) and mention his name a few times in conversations, but that was it, I thought.

Many semesters later Tanya went home for an extended period of time because she was chronically depressed. Therapy did not help and after she returned she missed classes and exams and did her own thing. There was then this one attempt at hurting herself physically. The boy’s name was mentioned again and though I will never know for sure, many suspected that this indeed was a case of unrequited love. She apparently felt so much for him and he could not help that he did not reciprocate. For 3 years she had built her world around him. Her father came down and took her back to Bombay. I have no idea where she is now and whether she ever completed college. She left suddenly leaving no trace of her whereabouts. The school I went to for my undergraduate studies is one of considerable acclaim in India and securing an admission to the place and then leaving without completing your course is almost unheard of. There are very few and sparse cases and this is one of the two I know of personally. I wonder if paying closer attention might have helped her. I don’t know; college does weird things to people and though some lives get connected in permanent bonds, it’s mostly like knots here and there at uneven spots, and if one of you doesn’t stop and tie another knot soon enough, the lives will go their own ways, too busy to reconnect. And that’s what happened to us. College definitely turned out unexpectedly for her, doing more damage than good. Going to college and meeting people isn't supposed to do harm. What does real harm is giving too much, too soon.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Les outils de Survie...

(Tools of Survival...)

I hope I will use:

Il fait beau!
- It's nice! (weather)
Je voudrais un morceau de gâteau
- I would like another piece of that delicious pastry
Je regarde seulement. Est-ce que je peux l'essayer?
- I'm not just looking. Can I try it on?
Je le prends!
- I'll take it!

I hope I will not use:

Est-ce que j'ai raté le dernier autobus?
- Have I missed the last bus?
Il y avait un appareil-photo dedans!
- There was a camera inside!
Est-ce qu'il y a un commissariat de police près d'ici?
- Is there a police station near here?
Ce n'était pas de ma faute! Ce n'était pas de ma faute !
- It wasn't my fault! It wasn't my fault!

I promise to make up for my lax,lax blogging on my return!! With stories and visits and lots and lots of comments (they don't have to be intelligent or insightful, do they?)

Monday, May 23, 2005

The Actions that Follow Reactions

“Why did it have to turn out THIS way?” she cried out on the phone. I held the receiver in silence not knowing what to say. My friend is going though a break up, a bad one. But whoever heard of a good one? Well, she found out something about him and it’s made her change her mind about the 4 year relationship and she wants out. If things had been different, they would be getting married next month. No, neither of them has been unfaithful. Neither of them lied to the other. And there is no abuse of any kind involved. It is not about falling “out” of love either. I know that makes it seem like a drastic move on her part. But wait, before all the Aunties and Moms go “4 years of the best years of her life! How will she find someone now? She isn’t getting any younger!” I’ll like to say I very much support her decision and the whiners will not be tolerated. A particular situation which involves her more so than him, had him reacting in a way she did not expect. Now, most people and more so men and women, think so unlike one another that often, a decision made by one can be questioned by the other unendingly. One will fail to see the logic of the other and that’s when we have the full-blown yelling matches or the freezing-out episodes. But then at some point, one will try to unravel how important is that decision to you, and how important is this to the other. EVERYTHING cannot be EQUALLY important to the both of you. And that is when one will step back. If that evaluation does not happen, the fight will never end.

Come back, my sermon is over. So now, in the case of my friend, this event was definitely HERS. The situation involved her family and her, but she needed his support. His simple understanding of the matter and maybe a little bit of his involvement. But the guy did not agree with her stance. He did not do the 1 minute evaluation – “How important is this to me? And how important is this to her?” So the fight never ended, though the event is long over. Obviously, this has left a permanent scar and months later, it still bothers her. Finally she realized that she could not live with this. But it’s still left her miserable and the natural self-doubts and “What ifs” and “Should haves” are being dragged out and pondered on and analyzed to death. I am only the sounding board she needs at the moment. She is way too intelligent to expect me to actually give her a solution. But she knows I trust her to get over this. She is one of the smartest and strongest people I know.

Still holding the receiver, in my natural “Knowledge is power” approach to matters I say “Aren’t you glad though you saw this side of him NOW? If you saw this after you guys got married, it would have been worse, na?” Between her sobs she said something that had me pondering all night. “But if I never knew about this side of him, I would be okay! And we would have been married by now...We would have been okay” she repeated. “Why do these things have to happen?!” was her lament. She is obviously crying for the lost feeling of being happy with him, not the realization that he might not be the person for her. But her lament had me wondering, just like it might take a high-risk activity for one to realize what kind of person you are, it takes a “high-risk” situation to find out more about your relationship. Simple enough. But what happens if there’s never any high-risk situation? Will you be left wondering all your life? But I guess it’s worse if you know the answer and it’s the wrong one. If the guy failed to see her though one of the first bridges she needed to cross, there will be bigger ones in the future and they will never be defined as “their” bridges anymore. So I am glad she found the courage to do what she did. If you’re faced with a high-risk situation, try to “pass” for your as well as for your partner’s sake. Because afterwards, whether or not your loved-one makes it to the other side or even remembers later whether he/she made it or not, your stance will never be forgotten.

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Then, Now, and a While Later....

(If public embarrassment isn’t grounds for divorce)

The husband and I (I’m speaking for the hubby here as this is MY blog, HA! So he can only give that grunt of approval or disapproving “Hmm..” I am honored with, after each post. This, after dancing around him going “What do you think? What do you think?” while he reads it), we like to be that couple who go running early on Saturday and then relax at Peet’s sipping coffee and reading the Boston Phoenix or the Globe or whatever. Well we haven’t got the running bit down but we do a fair bit of the coffee drinking on Saturday mornings. There’s this game we play there which I guess almost everyone has played at some level. We watch people who go by or come into the café and try to guess what they do for a living or anything about them. There’s obviously no way of winning this game, but it’s funny and we get to polish our Hindi trying to say “Investment Banker who wants the brunette barista with a navel ring” while the other adds “One time only” after that.

This Saturday brought a cheery girl with long dark hair bouncing in to the counter. She needed directions to MoS and listened to the complicated instructions being given to her with a helpless “Can’t you just take me there?” look. A pleasant looking chap with curly hair and a paperback stuffed in the pocket of his jeans slides up to help her, much to the relief of the barista who moved on to the elderly couple behind her. There was a pause as the barista and the elderly couple looked at the energy with which the guy began to help the girl. Now the elderly couple were a sweet, wrinkly pair. The lady had on these loose, flowered capris and she carried a HUGE purse and he wore a Red Sox cap and carried a cane. They took their time staring at the lists and lists of cappuccinos and frappacinos wondering no doubt why they didn’t just have “Coffee - Large” listed and maybe in a bigger font size. It’s time they did that. They settled for tea though. “Could you add some honey to that?” the man asked. “Yes, he likes his honey” said the wife. To which the man looked at her and went “I like my honey alright” And the wife rolled her eyes and he chuckled. So cute. The stuff they can get away with at that age!! The barista waited patiently for this mild flirtation to subside before she directed them to the sugar and honey. They shuffled off, both of them still smiling. The barista then saw me looking at her and smiled. The hubby who was till then glaring at my unabashed staring smiled too.

Meanwhile pleasant guy with paperback in hip pocket and cheery long-haired girl had moved on to exclaims on discovering how close they actually lived to each-other and all. She laughed, showing shiny teeth, and tossed the shiny hair. He grinned. They were all fresh and available and so very good at the whole song and dance of coquetry, I could see. Yes, I was doing a lot of seeing. I am told I can be very rude at times with all my staring. But I just can’t help it. I continued to watch with impervious fascination and wondered how this was going to end.

The elderly couple were leaving the café. The old gentleman suddenly stopped and addressed pleasant-guy-with-paperback. To my astonishment he was pointing at me. “The nice lady is wondering when you’ll ask for the chick’s number” he said. I jumped, startled, shaking my head apologetically at the pleasant guy. “No,no...sorry”. Paperback laughed. Cheery girl blushed. Old man laughed at my red face. “It’s OK. We were watching too. He needs to get her number if he ever wants to have what you two have got!” he said. I laughed, embarrassed. We know we look like the much-married pair we are. The limited, need-based conversation and laid-back comfort, a sure giveaway, any day. “I hope we get to have what you two have got someday” I said softly to the elderly couple before burying my head in my paper and promising myself I’ll work on the staring problem. I looked up when I felt calm enough and the laughter had subsided, the hubby’s told-you-so-look had to be dealt with anyway, at some point. Better get it over with in a public place! He looked reasonably amused though. But the next time I will be kicked in the shin below the table. I have it coming, I know.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Of Lessons Learnt and Memories Made

The mere mention of Iraq brings to mind all kinds of things to us. Bush and his stance, troops abroad, talk of taxes and heated discussions about WMD. But to me, it brings to mind some of my sweetest and earliest childhood memories. Memories of each member of my family, of shared meals made with substitute ingredients, of masoon the best tasting bread in the whole world and of shopping trips to the local bazaar with ice-cream treats at the end, to be eaten later while watching Tom & Jerry or the 100th telecast of Robinson Crusoe. Each little event filled with shared emotions that have stayed put with surprising alacrity in my mind. Over there, in the city of Basra, my mother and father had common friends. They did not dash off on their own commitments, my brother did not disappear as often as he used to in India, to hang with his friends, my sister did not exclude me from her little crowd and when we made new friends, it was this whole other family we ALL made friends with. A new place and that too a foreign country can be instrumental in bringing a family closer than it has ever been before, when looking out for fellow members becomes more pronounced. Iraq also brings to mind memories of the kind of confidence only the very young can have. I had that at the time, in abundance. A confidence that was compounded by the fact that I went to a very small international school where it was very easy to be among the smartest in the class. I had that strut, and it wasn’t just in school but back at home too. See, we lived in a building that housed another 5 Indian families. Two of these families had little girls of their own who went where I went. And though they were my closest friends there, I remember being quite a pushy leader of that pack. It went without saying that I would decide all the important stuff as I was way better at Math and Science anyway, right? They were sweet and very compliant girls and I was a little bitch. *Pallavi if you are reading this, I hope that bullying did not scar you for life, I really think you a darling to have taken all that. Let’s just let bygones be bygones huh?*. Our neighbor was a Kashmiri spinster doctor who I adored. I would sit on her knee which was always covered in colored, polyester burkhas and play with her fine muslin dupatta lace late into the evenings, while my Mom caught up with her about this and that. She would tell us about her work and the people she had operated on and who was getting better and who was ready to go home. It was lovely, I loved the stories and the way they all ended with health and healing. She was like a real Aunt, more Auntie-like than any of my own sari-clad ones. She adored my Mom’s South Indian pickles and I adored her fresh smelling perfumes in their exotic bottles and her foul smelling refrigerator stocked with meat. So different from ours, but yet, so like ours it could be opened as and when we pleased to pick up a can of Pepsi or juice. And she was by far the most generous of all in that building; especially with the sweets she got from Kuwait every time she went visiting her folks.

Things would have been perfect if it weren’t for that smart new kid in my school. He was my classmate and he had these gray eyes and he knew ALL the answers to ALL the questions. And of course the mid-yearly exams that he was in time for (but which people predicted he could have NO WAY been fully prepared for), he aced without any apparent effort. I had my claws out for this guy. Bulbul my friend who was the only other one to get a 100 in Math besides me even asked to sit next to him during lunch, signifying impending loyalty-shifts. My wonderful sunny days started to get a little cloudy. How I hoped fate would kick in and set things right again! We couldn’t let the whole world and its gray-eyed brother join the 100-in-Math club at any rate. My energies were concentrated more on him not making that 100, than on me making it again. I clung on to Bulbul hoping she would realize that gray-eyes was a passing phase....

My Mom and Doctor Aunty were talking in unusually low voices and I scampered up to them to listen in. She let me climb on to her knee but I could sense things were not right with the world. And that they were not talking about what they had been talking about. “Do you know Naveen in your class?” asked Doctor Aunty. “Yes” I said with a scrunching of the nose. What...gray-eyes now was turning into Doctor Auntie’s favorite too? What else would be invaded of my world? “He won’t be coming to school any more sweetie” my Mom explained. It took me a long while, even after our teacher in school explained it in painstaking slowness, to grasp what had happened. My sister explained it with much needed conciseness. “His parents drank too much in a party. His Dad tried to jump a ditch, Naveen was thrown out of the van window, and he died on the spot.” My first brush with death. Fate had kicked in alright but not as I had imagined, I missed gray-eyes more than I expected. I felt guilty for weeks. I thought of him a lot and Bulbul and I held his Math book and kissed it too.

With Iraq in the news so much, I often think about those days. I think of Bulbul and Pallavi and Doctor Aunty. But never are those memories unaccompanied by those of Naveen and I wonder how his father ever lived with himself after that loss. How that 100-scoring gray-eyed boy would have made a fine young man now in his twenties and how that drunk driver taught himself the lesson of his lifetime by the loss of another....Dying seems less sad than having lived too little. Naveen, he did not even make it to the finals of his 2nd standard. If that’s not too little, then what is?

So, yes, Iraq brings a lot to mind, parts of which are common to many, as Rhyncus very correctly pointed out. Nestled in my childhood memories, are thoughts of death. Unnecessary and untimely deaths.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Let’s start this right

“Which side of the bed did you wake up on!?” A phrase that’s often thrown at me always has me yelling back “The usual one! What’s that got to do with it?” In my calmer moments though I often wonder why we sometimes wake up fresh and dewy, ready to face the world and beat the blues, whereas on other days, literally wishing we were dead. Where from does the grouchiness come? I think we can safely eliminate lack of sufficient sleep, constipation and uncomfortable sleep posture as reasons. I usually manage my 8 hours and more, my digestive system is made of iron according to many and if bad posture was the reason, the hubby should be grouchy every morning (See I am a diagonal sleeper and the man needs to either occupy one of the resulting triangles or sleep underneath me. Poor bloke. I will have to make it up to him after writing this. I will let him change the OS of my computer, again, just for kicks. Yet again. Once more. *I do hope the undercurrents are coming though here* While talking about sleep posture, I have to tell you that we did try to sleep like normal people, you know, side by side, arms draped lovingly over each-other and all that. And it seemed to be working. Till I was woken up in the middle of the night by a hard bony elbow making high-speed contact with my soft dreaming eye. I woke up to stars though we were of course indoors. He was stretching in his sleep. Who stretches in their sleep? Well I think I have seen babies do it, and cats too, but I was only just informed that it’s prevalent among adults. What a way to find out! I think I am the only person to have got a black eye while sleeping. I choked back the tears while he started crying out if I was OK. Yes that’s another problem, HE cries out when I’m supposed to be doing it. Sometimes, when he catches me waxing, I have to deal with him going “Owwww” every time I pull that strip. Hey, this is my moment to yelp, not yours! O well, needless to say we abandoned the side-by-side sleeping method and went right back to however-you-wish, watch-out-for-your-own-delicates, any-which-way random heaped structure. Now it's really time to get back to the outside of this parenthesis).

So what can it be that decides our mood even before we are fully awake? There are obvious ones like when in those 5 minutes after the alarm goes off and you’re shutting your eyes tight and willing time reverse itself, you recall it is Monday and the week stretches out like a never-ending escalator in your mind’s eye. But sometimes it’s not so obvious. Is it the dreams we see? They say we don’t remember all our dreams so maybe some nights we have these really bad ones which leave us all grouchy but we don’t remember them. Is it the nature of those 8 hours of sleep? My best friend Google told me that the REM phase should not last more than a certain number of hours too. Several cycles of short REM phases are supposed to be the most refreshing. Or is it the way we are woken up? I remember when we were visiting our grandparents in their villages growing up, the children were all banished to the terrace to sleep and the alarm clock there would be the relentless BRIGHT sunlight and house flies hovering all around our faces. See that can set you in a bad mood right away! Maybe, it is the very last thought in your mind before you fall asleep that dictates the mood you wake up in. In any case, think happy thoughts, hopefully that will decide the nature of your dreams and subsequently take care of the morning smiles. Good Morning Everybody!! Let’s Have Us a Great Weekend!

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Shaadi* Woes

Shaadi.com does some great business no doubt. Just look at all those happy faces on their website. They all met via Shaadi and they’re thanking it and urging you to try it and all. But let us not forget that Shaadi is a tool. A tool that might well work for you, but only if used right. Which means there isn’t much of a point lying on your profile, because that would be like lying to your partner even before you have met him or her. A very shaky start to any alliance that is to last a lifetime, wouldn’t you agree?

Our friends had a house guest for the weekend. She came along to hang with us all after dinner and was she was in one foul mood or what! See, she had come all the way from Florida to meet this man she had got in touch with through Shaadi. She was a smart, pretty girl, 5’10” in height. The guy was 5’10” too, ON SHAADI. She swore he couldn't have been an inch over 5’6” when she saw him in person though. Obviously, she was hopping mad. Now, what I don’t get is why lie about height? That too, up it by 4 inches? Come on. What was he thinking? The she would just gaze into his soulful eyes and forget all about her height requirements, the ones she had clearly stated in her profile? A little difficult huh, considering he would have to stand on his tippy toes for the gazing to even begin? And it’s not like lying about the dimensions of entities South of the Border...your HEIGHT is something she will notice right away you mutt! And that will piss her off, making it difficult for her to trust you on any of the other counts, the important ones. I realise this is not a new problem. Parents eager to not let a ‘good match’ slip away have knocked an inch or two off their too-tall daughter’s height since eons...maybe I’m sitting up and writing about it only now because now the guys are doing it to the girls. Or maybe it's a little more pathetic when it comes straight from the horse's mouth, and not from an over-zealous or anxious parent...

When people conceal important information, or lie about their ‘single’ status on these matrimonial sites, it’s a whole other issue. These are the dangerous lies. Some of these players are obviously downright cruel psychos whereas some might have their own sad, desperate reasons. I am not going there, I am mostly just wondering idly why one would want to make this already tedious process of scanning, picking, choosing, meeting the person-behind-the-profile process even more wrought with disappointment and tension than it has to be? Why go through the chore of first lying about trivial stuff like your height or weight, then fearing being found out and then finally being subjected to rejection? Don’t they all want the search to end sooner rather than later? Why not be forthright from the beginning, it might reduce your sample size, but that might just mean you could meet The One before you tire of the whole process and give up altogether...before you run out of all your advantage miles and vacation time and most importantly, your patience visiting the 5’10” girls....

* Shaadi.com is an Indian matrimonial website, hugely successful with the younger generations.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Winding through Life

We were on a scenic highway in California. It was one of those beautiful, long, winding paid highways that takes you to US 101, through the Redwoods, with trees that meet overhead. The morning sunlight filtered through the leaves casting crazy patterns on the road, giving everything a fresh and ethereal quality. Yes, this had the makings of a perfect first date alright. My mind kept dwelling on food though. The coffee we had stopped for at Starbucks before we got onto this long winding part of the trip sloshed around in my empty stomach. I needed food but had been a little embarrassed to ask for it as we had not hit that level of comfort yet....Yes, I am a girl who loves her breakfast but I can be annoyingly girlie at times. I also hadn’t a clue that the long and winding was this long, or this winding. And as the morning progressed, my food thoughts intensified to shrieking heights. Till we hit the REALLY winding part at which point the immense love for food I was experiencing was replaced by a loathing. The kind of loathing that can happen only just before you HURL! I pointed at the first clearing I could see, my date brought the car to a screeching halt, and I leaped out of the rental car and puked my guts out. I can only guess at what his thoughts were as he stood at a distance with a box of napkins, wringing his hands. No doubt wondering how this carefully planned day was off to such a ‘hurling’ start. Mine were abundantly clear though. “I need food; he seems to run on coffee. This is a sign. This will NEVER work.” Yes, I threw up on our first ‘official’ date, 6 times to be accurate.

Saturday morning I stood in the kitchen. I opened and reopened the refrigerator door. The eggs were there, so was the bread. I just needed to put it together. I even eyed the dosa pan, thinking of the process. My faculties weren’t so readily accessible to me. So I just stood there. The hubby walked into the kitchen, looked at me and went “You need food.” 10 minutes later we were on our way to Chennai Woodlands. Needless to say we had partied long and strong the previous night and warm food that had been prepared by someone else, brought to me and served, was in order. I munched on the plain dosa (crepe-like wafer-thin pancakes) while my idlis (fermented rice cakes) soaked in gorgeous sambhar (spicy lentil soup kinda thing). Till they hit that saturated, crumbling point when they were scooped up and sent for a quick dip in the chutney pool. I even had the stomach for a masala dosa after this. The hubby sat there nursing his coffee, nibbling on something quite halfheartedly. I think he was experiencing the now familiar feeling of being grossed out at how much I was putting away mingled with immense satisfaction that he had got this one full and square, that he knew the wife.

I know that since I have started blogging, it seems like I do not let a Horlicks or dishes episode pass, ‘unseized’. I know I have whined about the romance that seems to have been married off and sent away. I also know that quite a few of my handful of readers are single. So let me take this chance to set the record straight on my views on the subject. To not have to force yourself to think when you are not up to it, to know that decisions made on your behalf will only have your welfare in mind, to be able to completely trust that even though you might not be the expert on a particular subject and be completely unaware of the intricacies behind it, you do have this covered as you are with a person who will take the time to cover it for you, is unbeatable. I am obviously not talking about just idlis here. And this is just a small fraction of the whole picture.

Am I glad I stuck around after the hurling to figure out that he needs his food too, large quantities of it, but just a little later in the day? YES. Do we do winding roads anymore? NO. It’s all in the prenup, just after the section on no-translation-of-Tamil-movies and before the one on foot-massages. It’s the prenup all couples have, the one that isn’t about money, the one you don’t need your lawyer to help write up, and the one that keeps changing. You can add to it and remove, as you wish, as long as you both get to be editors.

To my readers - I realize I had promised a dishy scoop on the party and have instead written on this. Sorry, can’t help it! The party was a blast and I came away loving life and the living. The sambhar and the spring did not help either. But please don’t walk away in a huff, the bitch is on a hiatus but she will soon resurface. I promise!

Friday, May 06, 2005

YES, it's here alright!

No winter lasts forever... Posted by Hello

No spring skips its turn! Posted by Hello

The street in front of our apartment...'tis Nature's law to change!

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Gripes Galore

Off late I have been too sparing in the griping. Mr.Gabby does not think so, but my friends? Oh, they have been almost all spared. They are all still my friends, minus the stingy ones. But that does not mean that things have been purrfect and the irking has not been happening. Today, I will devote my energies to The Griping On The Friends.

Boston has been kind, and we have been hanging out with some interesting people since we have moved here. They come in all shapes and sizes though and we are yet learning to embrace the new, which proves to be quite tricky at times.

The couple who is too Couply. Hello, we are here, sitting in front of you, do talk to us. It’s just the 4 of us here so if we are not that interesting to you tonight, you should have STAYED HOME IN BED. We are here to mingle, so pray stop mingling with the straps of your girlfriend’s sexy strappy dress and MINGLE WITH US. Look at Mr.Gabby and me, now, come on, you can do it. She will not disappear during the 2 seconds you make eye contact with us, I promise. (Or maybe she will? Suddenly there’s some light!)

The Seeking Singles. Don’t get me wrong, I understand, you are on the look-out for that Mr or Miss Eligible and we married people are merely the network through which you hope to meet that person. But please, do us the courtesy of pretending you want to talk to us too. Or should we just be happy you put makeup on, for us. Also try to pause between the following three sentences “Oh, Mr.Gabby’s friend who came here to interview, did he get that job? Is he single? How old is he?”, or maybe you can even wait for us to tell you he is single and all that. I’ll love to hook you all up, so then maybe we can all have a REAL conversation.

The Well Educated who tell you they are Well Educated. I love a good school as much as the next guy, maybe even more actually. But there must be something wrong with that Ivy League education of yours if it’s not really coming through and making itself obvious. Do you have to tell me the name of your school in your second sentence to me? If you’re hoping that that name will do your work for you and impress everyone at the table, you’re a little mistaken. It’s still just a school, and you might have got all those A’s too but show me you are not flunking life and then I’m your friend. The whole purpose of education is to turn mirrors into windows, and when I hear that opening line of yours, I can see you’re still stuck at the mirror.

The Nearly Famous. In Their Minds. These are the famous name droppers. “Do you know Mr. & Mrs ***? You don’t?” There’s a little pause there when you register the dismay, disappointment and surprise in their eyes that you have not rubbed shoulders with the rich-n-famous Indians of the New England area. And it’s almost 2 WHOLE YEARS since we have moved here! Oh Lord! No, sometimes, I don’t even know OF these people, let alone know them. “O well, we were at their party last Saturday, they auctioned off some of their paintings you know, for charity” “Verrry nice people, you should meet them” they sing. Their purpose met after those names have been mentioned, they usually drift off after a few of these lines. They have told this table they are famous. They need to enlighten the next one now.

The Used To Be Nearly Famous. Now this is a sad breed. As they live in the past and then they expect you to live it with them when they tell you ALL ABOUT IT. It’s very depressing to watch. These are the ones who knew the Tatas and the Birlas or worse, the Abhisheks and the Kareenas or the Madhavans and the Trishas. Their sisters and brothers and cousins were all classmates of the Stars. And they would all come home, the Stars, that is. Yes, all the time. In fact they still party with them when they’re home in Andheri or wherever, and like crazy! "O Madhavan is a real flirt when he’s drunk!" It’s all very buddy-buddy. It’s all very OVER. We are not 19 here, lets save the gushing for meaningful things, like the food.

I could go on but I think I’ll stop. I’ll like to keep the remaining ones. There's a party on Friday and there's no point messing up the weekend plans. Well, till this greedy child of mine, namely this blog, asks for more, more, more. Eventually I know I will relent.

Monday, May 02, 2005

It's About Time

This was going to be his last trip to his parents’ ancestral village, he was going back to finalize the sale of their house there. He hoped he would be able to make the outbound train the next day, that would still give him a couple of days more to spend in the city before he flew back home. 3 weeks of vacation had zipped past at breakneck-speed, a familiar sensation that crept in at the end of each visit, was now nudging it’s way back in. But he needed to get back, there was way too much to do. His world was beckoning, his wife was waiting and his Manager was hysteric as usual. But most of all, he had promised his son. The apple of his eye had made him promise he would be back before his birthday. And if he was a well behaved boy for the 3 weeks and his Mom vouched for it, the Disneyland trip would follow the next weekend, the promised reward. The little fellow had waved like a maniac and when he had turned back one last time before heading to his gate, he saw him nudge his Mom and they both waved one last time.

It had stopped raining and he struggled to open the 3 different shutters which had all proved useless in stopping that trickle of water that still made it through to the sill and then down to the edge of his narrow berth, flowing down to settle in the little pool below. He looked out of the window at the passing countryside, at the fields and fields of green paddy and the occasional splash of a plot of bright yellow mustard and sometimes the taller, paler patches of sugarcane. The rotation and variety of the crops keeping the soil fertile and the bellies of the farmers’ families full, a safety catch for the times when markets were as unpredictable as the monsoons themselves. The dull brick-red of the window framed the scene, which was like an ever-changing canvas. The horizontal iron bars were too close to mar the picture, and it was breathtakingly beautiful. The scenery was at just the right distance, like an artist would have planned it. The dark frame, the right rain-washed medium and the positioning close enough to catch the true colors and yet far enough to mask the hard lines on the faces of the people working it. They stood knee deep in water in the paddy fields, barefoot and mostly bare-backed. The women stood behind the men, bending down with their hands deep in the water, occasionally walking the proportional, narrow dividers that marked the boundaries of their fields, balancing baskets on their heads, their dark brown skin glistening with sweat or rain or both. Children worked the land too, though they would inevitably stop what they were doing and would stand and wave at the passing train. But then the train slowed down at the signal, and a few of them clustered around the train. He could see their faces now, grubby and brown, teeth bright, matching the whites of their eyes. They waved and he waved back, and they nudged each other and pointed at him, delighted at his response. Their delight at being a part of his world for that fleeting moment was mirrored in their shy smiles. There were no promises here, no rewards, yet their eyes shone with hope. How? What kept them going? When would their Disneyland happen?