Monday, 31 December 2012

An evening of the crumbling shoes, blouse-watching and slinking away



Weddings, as you already know, are events that call for remarkable theatre. Thus, to endure the ordeal, I have a theory: arrive early enough to be seen, leave early enough so you aren't missed. And, come Sunday, I  was all set and colour-cordinated to attend the wedding of mum's friend's son. Theory in head, I marched out, gift-laden, lip-shimmering, and hair-flowing, to St. Patrick's Church, where I was to wait for another friend.

I walked around the car park. Smiled at unknown people. You know, the usual. Then, ten minutes into the classic clacking-around cars-and-adjusting-hair routine, my feet began to feel rather sandy. I leaned against a car, reaching down to dust off my footwear. 

Holy. Mother. of. Ten-headed. God.

It wasn't sand in my feet, but my footwear - crumbling. Literally. Crumbling to pieces. Breaking into bits like old biscuits. Self-destructing like the Terminator. Committing shoe-suicide. As if my evening wasn't going well already, a stray heel even decided to simply wrench itself off. Drowning in self-pity, I bravely yanked off the other heel, and walked all the way down to Brigade Road to buy a pair of cheap sandals. 


At a quarter past seven, I arrived at the wedding; gift-laden, lip-shimmering, hair-flowing and - feet-flat. And I realised -

I'd no idea what the host looks like.



Saturday, 8 September 2012

Just in case you are wondering...

I haven't gone AWOL.

Naturally, it would be ideal if I had, but I hear they do have internet connectivity in the Antarctic. 

Sunday, 1 July 2012

#

Despite this being a morning of spectacular beauty, with the world waking up to biscuits and bajjis and whatever-the-hell-there-is, I was cautiously seated, head tilted, and right-eye shut, swallowing a sneeze. Any other time, I suppose, idle chatter is welcome, but such needs are as inane to demand in a 'Chinese beauty parlour' in India as chicken curry is in Uzbekistan.

'Excuse me?' I sneeze.

The young girl, with shining porcelain skin and poker-straight hair , looks at me and murmurs something in a sing-song voice to her friend. They giggle. I get this sinking feeling that they're talking about me, yet I'm not too sure. Now, my left eye is shut while she tweezes my other eyebrow.

Tick, tock.

Sneeze.

The weirdest thing about stepping into a politically incorrect institution such as this is not just trying to make sense of its oddities, but the possible outcome of such pursuit. I risk offending someone either by referring to them as Chinese, or by not recognizing them if they really are.




Friday, 9 March 2012

Understanding Facebook couples and the strange biology of conjoined heads…

is easy. Really.

I’m not particularly fond of the social networking hoi polloi. Bah. But I must admit, the minute-by-minute status roll of how - ‘Master Doctor Jesus has performed a miracle!’, ‘Krishna, Allah, Jesus - All Gods are in control’, ‘my cute baby doll is the cheweetesttt’, and ‘my husband is the best thing that has ever happened in my life’ - don't amuse me as much as virtual lovebirds do.

Turns out, if someone is in love and the diagnosis eventually leads to a wedding of sorts, their profile picture is immediately upgraded to one with the better half...meaningfully conjoined at the head. It appears this gesture never goes unnoticed; it is followed with a string of comments about how fabulous they look together, and tens and hundreds of 'likes'. The smiling couple, usually in their twenties, thank everyone for appreciating their timely pseudo celebrity and follow up with more photos of their wedded bliss.

Then, there are those couples who have forgotten the last time they celebrated an anniversary; more commonly known as our parents, their parents and older relatives who you've added as friends (and carefully put on limited access) because you were supposed to. Strangely, none of them have profile photographs with anyone conjoined at the head, not even an arm around a tree for that matter. The only invites I get from this lot are invites to farmville, fishville and whatever-pointless-facebook-game-there-is-ville. Curiously enough, it seems, that invisible nerve that once conjoined their heads, doesn't anymore.

Interesting, now facebook allows you to track your journey from head sake to headache on something called Timeline.

Chuckle.


Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Are you a cat person, a dog person or just....a stupid person?

For sometime today, I paused to think of this. Here I was, lover of all beings furry, four-legged and instantaneously lovable - and every time I am subject to this maddening question 'cats or dogs?', I can't help but be at a loss for words.

We were at over a friend's place, sipping on a drink, when the topic shifted to our love for animals. I admit, not particularly a topic anyone would want to debate on at 12 p.m. but with the alcohol working its magic into the conversation, an intense, unworthy exchange of mindless logic was inevitable. Then this girl, holding a glass of whisky in one hand and stroking her sleeping retriever with another, vented loudly, 'I love dogs. You know...I'm such a dog person'.

I suppose she had done well for a conversation starter, for there was an immediate chorus from a few others from the room; 'Me too, I love dogs. I'm such a dog person' - 'Really, I hate cats... I'm so not a cat person' - 'I love dogs too, my sis and I are dog people'. Erm. Amused, I asked the girl in front of me 'So, have you ever owned a cat? Why do you hate cats so much?'

'Yuck. I'd never own a cat. I hate cats, they're sneaky and cunning. They're not like dogs', she proclaimed, 'I am not a cat person at all'.

Interested, I asked, 'So you hate cats without ever owning a cat as a pet?'.

She nodded.

I tell you, the density of human intelligence. Sigh. Anyway, I was thoroughly interested in small entertainment. I went on, 'Well, I think it's pretty silly to hate something you know nothing about. I have dogs, but I also have cats, and they are as lovable.'

Clearly, I ruffled a few feathers. The girl in distress quickly looked about for some support. The guy near me, visibly gearing up for an ode to canines kept this drink down, and said matter-of-factly, 'I can't stand cats. They are such sneaky, sly creatures'. Turns out, not only has he never had a cat at home, he had barely touched a dog in his life. Even better, all the supposed canine lovers complained that 'cats climbed tables', 'they scratch', 'they aren't loyal', 'cats like to steal'.

Half-way through this mumbo-jumbo I asked the girl with the retriever if she liked dogs simply because they were obedient. I proposed that if she adopted any animal, and cared for it enough, it usually did the same in return. 'No,' she dismissed, 'I like dogs because they like us back'.

Humans, I believe, are a half-witted creation intended (quite literally) for the amusement of some deity. We seek love and acceptance in the strangest ways and still don't realise what a lot of horse-crap we talk about nature.

Special Dedication:
This post is dedicated to my family and all the animals who are a part of our crazy lives. Mr. Bugs, my meat-eating rabbit, my numerous dogs- Bertie Wooster, Coco Chanel, Moti, Snoopy, Humpty, Dumpty, Jack, Jill, Apple, three nameless rabbits, the guniea pigs that we hid in the freezer of our broken fridge, the squirrel family that live in our living room shelf, the squirrels that eat Vadai in our garden everyday, the bulbul family in the first lightbulb, the three lovebirds, the numerous peacocks who come home to eat during the day, puddytat - the smartest stray kitten we adopted, Cat- the little bundle of joy from blue cross and her many kittens, esp. Max orange one and two, and little Curry bean and finally - Mushu, my baby turtle, I'm sorry I had to give you away.

A snapshot of one of the baby squirrels that come home to eat vadai everyday. Erm. Terribly greedy Tamilian squirrels with an appetite for South Indian snacks.


A peacock sneaks his way to find some food in our garden during the day. He often visits with all his girlfriends...


His girlfriends for some reason like huddling over our compound. Oh well, women.

Coco Chanel, who has successfully spent the last ten years watching the world go by. She barks only when she gets grubby or needs a belly rub.

After all, that's all we need don't we?

Saturday, 24 December 2011

#.

Leeds, United Kingdom, 2007

Three years ago, the night before Christmas, I remember the air being cold and languorous. The city was a ghost town; people had retired home early, last minute shoppers scrambled in and out of the supermarket, the streets were empty and wet. So much for festivity and gaiety, the only thing that seemed to sparkle were the fairy lights strung across the main square. It wasn’t the coldest winter, so to say, but there was something fug about the atmosphere. You know, you could feel that silence penetrate right through your coat and slice into your heart – well, yeah, the sodding scene was such – melodramatic to the hilt.

‘T,’ I said to my flatmate, who was with me at the time, ‘This is bloody depressing.’

She nodded, pulling together her coat and tucking her arm into mine, hoping it would feel warmer. ‘This is sad. It’s not even snowing. We’re supposed to be having a white-freakin’-Christmas.’

Then, we turned around the corner and saw this guy. Everyone had gone home, and there was this guy, wearing a hat, an open guitar case in front of him, singing Dylan's 'Tambourine Man' to an empty street. We stood near him listening to him sing, his voice soft and soulful, filling the intersection near Next with a kind of warmth that I can't quite describe.

T turned to me, and said, 'You know..it just struck me that it's the last Christmas we're spending together.'

We introduced ourselves, dropped a quid and paused when he looked at us. 'Please,' he said, ' would you like to buy a CD?'. T and I looked down, and in his guitar case, he had cut CDs and put them in self-made covers. The Black and White print read 'Jonathan Walker -The Ashville Sessions 2007'. He looked at us smiling, adding softly 'It'll be a real one some day'.

As I stood, trying to make up my mind, T took her wallet and asked him for a CD. It is for you, she said when were home, everytime you listen to it, I know you'll think of this Christmas.

Later that evening, I searched for Jonathan's Myspace profile and sent him a message thanking him for making him for making our Christmas so special. He replied, thanking us for our kind words and wishing us for the year ahead.

It's been three years since I graduated. Three years since I saw T, as she now lives in Italy. Yet, every year, around Christmas time, we still talk about that walk to the city square, and turn on Jonathan's CD to listen to his voice. This year, I learned that Jonathan has gone places with his singing. He sings on the streets of Leeds and Liverpool, and has recorded a live CD. On Youtube, youngsters who've had the chance to say hello have recorded videos of him. To those people who walk that corner by Debenhams or Next, he is now a known face. These days, I figured, they stop to listen.

I wrote on T's wall this morning, asking her if she remembered our last Christmas. Hours later, I got a reply that said, 'How could I forget?'.

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

A chance encounter with misery

Weird people have a way of finding me.

This time around, I took a share auto in Madras. It was one of those days; I desperately needed inspiration to get a spot of writing done, and the weather was remarkably kind: a pleasant wind, and rustling leaves and all that. I looked around for a spare seat and sat near a non-chatty kind of girl with no friends (as I always do) just to make sure that I could steer clear of anything eventful. She seemed a good deal like those movie extras who go unnoticed although they've been lurking around somewhere in the background for the whole two hours.

I settled in, called out to the driver to drop me off at Blue Star and took out my phone to text a friend. Suddenly, the girl tapped me on the shoulder. I looked up, wondering if she wanted to shift a bit, and was just about to move when she said ‘I need your phone.’

Erm. Ok, so I couldn’t decide if it was new-age daylight robbery lingo or if she merely wanted to use my phone.

‘Huh?’

‘I need your phone. Please, I need to make only one phone call. I’m from Pondicherry. I'm new here and it’s very urgent’.

You see, there are moments that you are immediately put to this formidable universal test of ethics. Was it alright to refuse someone who looked so earnest? Anyway, as doubtful as I was, I gave in to the pleading after she began to plod my shoulder every now and then in an exceedingly annoying fashion. And there were no means of escape.

I dialled the number she wanted me to, then handed it over to her.

I don't know who she called but I couldn't help overhearing her breathless conversation to the person on the other end. Parts of the conversation sounded off-key; there was mention of a motorcycle, a payment and the police.

I interrupted and asked for my phone. Blue Star was just two stops away. She mumbled a hurried goodbye and gave it back to me, gushing about how thankful she was.

'Sure,' I said, 'Do you have family here?'

'Actually not, but my brother's here'.

'Oh, he works here?'

'No, he's in jail.'

'JAIL? You used my phone to call someone in JAIL?'. I swear, the skies were already looking grey, and my heart was going to pop right out of my chest. Perfectly marvellous, this was. Now all I could think of was one of those crime dramas where my call would be tracked by an office full of spectacled full-suits who spoke in a dull whispers about how I was a possible accomplice in an attack on some famous person I don't care about.

I was perspiring, and it wasn't even hot. 'Well, what's he in jail for?' I dragged on, hoping it wasn't something horrendous.

'Oh, he just stole a bike. I mean, it was a new bike I think that's why he's taking such a hard hit. But it's alright, I just have to pay about seven thousand and he's out'.

'So wait, let me get this straight, your brother steals bikes?'

'Yes. I don't understand why they had to put him in jail though, I mean it was only a bike.'

What do you want them to do? I felt like asking, award him a bronze medal for robbery? I couldn't wait for my stop. Now she was getting terribly chatty, and I wanted to shove her through the window. Finally, we were close to Blue Star. I told her I was getting off, to cut short her conversation.

'Alright,' she went on, 'Thanks for the help'.

Just before I got off, another woman got in, and wedged her way between the both of us. 'So are you a college girl?'. She seemed happy, and was probably getting home from the temple.

'No,' she smiled and nodded politely, 'I'm in the Motorcycle business'. A moment later, they got talking.

Jesus Christ. I got off, and looked at my phone. No, no unknown callers yet.

Sunday, 13 November 2011

The sinister logic of combo steal deals

I tell you, watching a movie in a theatre these days requires an incredible amount of patience. It's not like there aren't spectacular ways to waste time in Bangalore, but you see, when your clock is ticking on a city curfew of 11 PM, you pretty much just settle for whatever crap can entertain you for 2 hours.

After elbowing my way through this insanely long line of visibly excited teenagers and bored families with bawling infants, I found myself staring at the guy at the till.

'Yes, Ma'am'?'

I looked at a bunch of burgers displayed on the side and told him I want one.

'Only a burger?'

I nodded.

'We don't have a burger Ma'am.'

Ok, so like I was blind or something. I pointed to the burgers at the side and asked him what those were. Clearly, slapping him hard wasn't an option. Neither was giving him a pair of bifocals.

'Well, you only get the burger if you order a combo with coke'.

Erm. 'I don't get the logic. Fine, what about all those veggie rolls? Can I have one of those?'

He shook his head. 'No, you can't have one unless you order a combo?'.

So by this time, I had already lost my appetite, save one for an argument. 'Oh so wait. Let me get this straight, I can't order anything on your display unless I opt for a combo with coke'.

'Yes Ma'am'.

After a long debate about marketing math and suppressing the desire to add a few emphatic expletives now and then, I caved in and told him to go ahead with a combo deal. Impatiently, the guy in question took a burger and a roll, shoved both in the microwave (with the plastic), threw over a napkin and pushed it over the counter.

I waited.

Then he looked at me sheepishly and added, 'Erm. We only have large cokes, no regular size'.

Oh, how F****** generous.

Monday, 24 October 2011

If you want Biryani home-delivered, don't dial the municipal trash collector

Seriously.

Because the last time, we had a get-together and ordered 12 plates of Biryani - and had this delivered to our doorstep.


Lesson learned - Make sure the guy at Home delivery has never worked for a Municipal Corporation before.

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Conversation with a random man at the internet centre:

Random Man - Excuse me, do you work for a software firm?
Me - No, I work for a content syndication firm.
Random Man - So do you work in software?
Me - No, I work with content.
Random Man - So you work in a software firm.
Me - No, I work in a content syndication firm.
Random Man - What kind of software firm is that?

Oh. Sweet. Jesus.

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

You don’t suppose you have success… and all that excess.

So I’ve come to learn something about ‘success’ the past week. I’m seriously beginning to doubt that success is but a painful societal obligation. I mean, here we are, spending all of our youth, trying and trying and trying endlessly to simply be good enough. When did good enough become so hard to be? That’s exactly what I found myself thinking when I was sitting near this guy in a bus who had applied to patent some secret software he was developing for a nameless company in the USA.

‘It beats me to think that you’re just 26,’ I told him, a tad let-down that my life seemed like a record chronology of bad choices in comparison, ‘I cannot believe that you are going to patent something. Like Wow.’

‘Well,’ He said, ‘I can’t help it. I guess it’s just that I know I have to make lots of money before I get old’.

‘So how much money do you want to make?’

He looked at me, a confused expression on his face then paused a moment before replying. ‘I don’t know… I mean, just lots I guess’.

‘It’s a simple question. Just how much money do you want to make till you’re satisfied?’

‘I don’t know, I mean, just till I feel really successful I guess’.

It struck me then that he didn’t really feel successful at all. And here I was, thinking about how much he had achieved so young. Upon reflection, I must admit, I wouldn’t know the answer to the question either. How much would I try till I sit back and think that I have enough? Hours after I got home, I couldn't stop dwelling on it. So I found a quiet moment to curl up on the couch near my dad when he was watching late night telly.

'Pa. I'm so sad. I feel like I'm just working and working and working and I’m just not getting anywhere.’

And he said, ‘You’re doing just fine’.

I paused, and thought about what he said for a moment. Actually, I wasn't doing so bad. Heck, I'm only 25. Maybe, that’s the assurance we need from time to time, that we’re all good enough even without the throwing ourselves out there to achieve what other people call success…and all the excess.

Monday, 12 September 2011

The reason why we need stars on the ceiling

You know, those days when you lie back and stare at the ceiling fan? Well, of course, everyone does. It's in that moment of nothingness, I realized, that each of us really connect with the universe. I mean, it is for that one instant, when we let go, watching the blades whirr in that crazy, ultra-maniacal speed and have our mind completely free of certainty, that we truly live.


Without a care in the world.

Saturday, 6 August 2011

Charity and other forms of divine insurance

As a general open rule, I suppose, it is right to be charitable to those who choose to beg. Typically, it's how the public sees it. No matter how sneaky, or poor, or annoying or sorry they seem, the way you behave with them kind of determines your supposed nature towards humankind. No one ever talks about the guy who handed ten bucks to a roadside con, they all talk about the guy who shoo-ed him away. As was my plight on an eventful Saturday morning trying to find a copy of a Wodehouse omnibus on MG Road.

I had no more than fifty bucks in my wallet. It was one of those days when I was comfort shopping i.e. swiping my card so that I would feel less guilty about destroying my bank balance. I walked down to Mamma Mia on Church Street, bought myself an ice-cream and strolled out. Then, out of nowhere, a gypsy pounced on me (quite literally) and took away the ice-cream. Now, it's not like I wouldn't have given it if she just, you know, asked me for it. But I was surprised to see that everyone around me were looking at me. For a moment, I thought this was because they were as stunned as I was. But no, turns out everyone was hoping that I don't tell her off.

Anyway, as if that didn't annoy me enough, I had to walk an extraordinarily long way to the ATM with absolutely no money in my wallet. As expected, I was destined for worse. There was an old man sitting by corner of the road. All the people before me seemed to drop a coin or two as they walked past, so dutifully I took out my wallet hoping to find out a coin when I got near him. Just that, I stood in front of him for an entire minute searching inside my wallet stuffed with bills and couldn't find anything. I don't know what you'd possibly do, but it was that awkward moment where I had to tell him that I hadn't any money on me.

You see, here's the odd thing about a situation like this. I felt guilty for no fault of mine. I I mean, of course I’m aware of the misfortunes that befall humankind, and have since given thought to doing much towards the greater common good – but this whole universal test isn’t fair.

‘I don’t have any money,’ I told him, apologetically, ‘I thought I had change. I don’t’. It was the truth, and I hoped he would believe me.

I think it was ten seconds of expressionless staring before he stood up, dusted his rags, collected the change in his bowl, walked to the nearby stall and bought himself a cigarette.

I tell you, the next time someone gives me a sermon about the potential karmic returns of charity, I'm going to tell them to sell their soul for a bar of chocolate. Really, it's a shorter ticket to heaven.

Friday, 5 August 2011

Damsel in Denial - The wrong men are right for most women

Well, I confess my heart has been considerably heavy for the past month. First, I’ve listened to an overload of friends crying over guys-who-have-absolutely-no-shame. Second, I’ve been waking up to wedding invites. The thing about both problems is that it involves forcing a certain amount of spirit and cheer, of which I obviously hadn’t any. In fact, even my sisterly-sermon skills have taken a hit. And I don't mean that in a good way, mind you.

Take this incident last week, for instance. I was right there, sitting at home, minding my own business and all that when an old friend calls for some comfort. It didn't quite occur to me that the the word comfort here actually meant that I would have to employ the 'Listening ear' (popularly known as the 'nod to everything and shut the hell up') tactic instead of 'Sound advice' (otherwise known as 'what you are saying doesn't make sense'). After listening to a fast-paced plot of how the guy in question had destroyed their relationship, had absolutely no sense of respect for her, and was surely dating someone else behind her back, I said, 'Well, this guy is not worth your time.'

My suggestion, it seems, fell on deaf ears. 'The thing is,' she tried to rationalise, 'we've been together to so many years, and it's just unfair. I don't know why I put up with this. I really need to get over this. I bet he's just out there having fun.'

I tried rephrasing the second time. 'This guy isn't worth your time. You know that'. But, I don't think she heard me quite yet.

'I was just thinking about the last time we talked and how he sounded like he wanted to work things out. And now, he just brushed the whole thing off like it doesn't even matter to him. I'm like so so sick of this,' she went on,'I'm never going to talk to him again'.

This time, I switched to 'Listening Ear'. Because I was going to lose my mind if this went on for the next ten minutes. 'You know what, just give him time and he'll come around'.

I might as well have prophesied a miracle. She agreed immediately and hung up. Lesson learned today - never try to give 'Sound advice' when a woman is whining. Especially when she's convinced she's right about the wrong guy.


Wednesday, 22 June 2011

All that looks the same size..actually isn’t.

At first, I received this note as change after I paid a bill at a restaurant. Oh well, nothing seemed wrong then.



Later, when I hopped into an auto to go home, I realized that there really was something wrong with the note.. Erm. Oh-my-bloody-God.

I half expected creepy Ashton Kutcher to jump out of a bush right now and scream ‘YOU JUST GOT PUNK’D!’.


The guy who handed this to me, I figured, was quite a crafty one. Muse.