Thursday, February 7, 2013

Of Life and Times...

It’s been a long time since I’ve felt the waves…seen the blueness of the sun-soaked vanilla sky melt into the busy foam of the Atlantic. So this time around Llanaber it’s going to be…a small coastal village on the western fringes of this cold island.

But why is it that we associate holidays with transformation and change? I mean, you don’t? Oh! then probably, it’s a bigger problem than I think it is. Then probably, cramming that blue and green knapsack with my Kindle, some really expensive sunscreen, a brand new straw hat (even though it’s hardly spring yet) a torchlight, some batteries and mint isn’t really worth it. Maybe I should just stay at home for Easter and wear my new fuchsia woollen socks (a Christmas gift), bake some butter cookies, watch ‘Remains of the Day’ and…that’s about it.

Now coming to the bigger problem. Why do we…errmm…why do I associate a holiday with change? Is it that a persistent desire to seek something better keeps me hoping?

Looking for answers. And from the way it’s going, I am probably not going to find them soon…maybe just after I have baked those butter cookies…

This is a problem with our generation, and not just me (I’ve just figured that out)…this constant living for the fun times…living a tough life throughout the week so that we can enjoy that affair with that coffee mug over the weekend…living a tough life generally, so that there is that knapsack moment when we can gather all the sunscreen in the world and set sail…

It never used to be this bad when we were children. I mean, our parents lived perfectly happy and SIMPLE lives together, with their mundane jobs for 35 years, my dad doing some mild free-hand exercise in the morning, my mother packing his lunchbox and mine, my days in school (with me flunking in math most of my waking hours), my time in front of the tele, my clandestine moments with the Nancy Drew case file books…we used to be quite happy with less.

Now we wear FCUK and Zara’s…need Atlantic coastal holidays and lavender and ginseng to get through life. Do we need a quack?

Not really...we just need to spend those big bucks, and hit the road. As I was explaining...It’s been a long time since I’ve felt the waves…seen the blueness of the sun-soaked vanilla sky melt into the busy foam of the Atlantic. So this time around Llabaner it’s going to be…a small coastal village on the western fringes of this cold island.

Monday, August 13, 2012

How we lived a dream, an inspiration…and now it’s all OVER!

For a confirmed sports-phoebe like me, (‘I spied on you’ quite definitely does not count) coming up with a full-blown write-up on the Games is no mean feat, by personal standards. I’m assuming my name will go up on the wall somewhere.

I was groomed in an environment where I never participated in any remotely energy-sapping sport other than a distilled version of cat and mice. My parents took the concept of ‘brain over brawn’ much too seriously. That does not in any way mean I turned out to be the next Nobel Laureate in the neighbourhood. On the contrary, there are hardly any intelligent cells left… (Whether they were created in the first place is again fiercely debatable). The Sisyphus-esque job has donkey-ed me down oh so completely...however cryptic and dramatic that sounds!

The point is, the London 2012 Olympic Games, has come to a close. Of course we have the Paralympics still to go…but you know what I mean.

When the games started in July, I didn’t know a country called Grenada existed. Yes, I agree, I’m not the brightest bulb on the Christmas tree…but hey, I now have one neuron dedicated to Grenada, Kirani James, the 400m champion mildly controlling that neuron. And if you are still interested, Usain Bolt’s first love was Cricket, and he was a fast bowler… (You now have a raised eyebrow and a half, I’m sure)

For two whole weeks, we lived an inspiration. I collected all the sports trivia I possibly could, watched almost all the games from Taekwondo to Knots and Crosses (almost), decided that Ryan Lochte is positively cute, Mary Kom, quite a champion, Nehwal an undoubted fighter, Yohan Blake a near-wolverine sprinter and Bolt, the undisputed, long term king.

And now it feels almost as empty and pointless in London, as it usually does after Christmas. It’s back to business, back to the corporate mundane, back to bad economy, back to double dips and triple scoops…till Rio. Hope the four years are a breeze.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

5(00) Miles that Seemed Longer…

So we have successfully completed five enduring years of togetherness. That statement itself should bring in a wave of sympathy for A because I have spent most of these five years metamorphosing into an unbelievably quarrelsome, OCD-ed, flaw-finding shrew. But what the heck!

Anyway, the fact of the matter is, we needed to celebrate. So after much research and bitterly mourning over a Sisyphus-esque work schedule and a shrinking bank balance, we decided, England’s Lake District it was going to be. Not that it costs any less; quite on the contrary actually. But since A had created a considerable amount of unnecessary hype around his five years with me, having to dish out those extra bucks didn’t seem such a shocking deal. So off we were, on our way to Windermere, Cumbria, one of the most romantic places in the Lake District, to reflect on five eventful years.

The evening before the big travel is always one that’s bursting with frenzied activity. Ran to the grocery store to get cute travel-sized essentials. Was reasonably impressed with my immaculate planning before I got off the train without the shopping bag. Head’s among the clouds, woman! Some lucky bastard was going to have fun. A bad start to a hopefully good vacation…and did I say that over these five years I have also developed a sailor’s mouth? Hope my folks aren’t anywhere close to reading this piece. I hate to give them sudden heartbreaks.

The next morning, our journey didn’t start all that well either. A had forgotten to set the alarm, so we invariably woke up a couple of hours later than planned. With the clock ticking away, we drove off, my mood desperately upbeat, considering I had completed washing, combing, dressing and most other required 'ing' verb forms in less than an hour. But as luck would have it, our satellite navigator kicked the bucket, bang in the middle of the countryside. Here we were, stranded in a car, caught in an annoying drizzle late in the afternoon, with a conked navigator. Very exciting, indeed!

‘Try the GPS on the phone’ I quipped. ‘Yeah right, with a fast dwindling battery charge, we’re going to be marooned before we know it!’ A has picked up this negative sharpness from me. The downside of staying with a true-blue pessimist!

All there was left to do now was to find the next big ‘Services’ in the motorway, and get a new navigator. Through gritted teeth A paid for a new system at the next store. 120 freaking GBP, gone with the wind. Back in the parking lot, and would you believe it? A 40 GBP parking ticket!!! My head spun like a mad planet, and we thought we were going insane. ‘I hope I am in the middle of a really bad nightmare’, was all I heard A saying. ‘Nightmares are of a single kind…bad’ I corrected him, my flaw-finding self suddenly kicking back to life.

Live with it. Just because it’s the beginning of a special holiday for you, doesn’t mean the big bad world is going to make it sweeter. We did make it to Cumbria within the next four hours, without major hiccups. And Cumbria, believe you me, is unimaginably pristine. But that’s another story.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Peppa and Timmy - Bad Match Indeed!

(Perfectly able-bodied humans have been given an animal makeover in this story, to keep human relationships alive)

Peppa Pig and Timmy were walking down the road to a friend’s place. Let’s call him Bob for now.

Right. But both Peppa and Timmy had forgotten about Upsy-Daisy who lives just across the road. Upsy is Bob’s neighbour, and also a common friend. What a terrible miss!

It was Christmas time, and Timmy had a bottle of Merlot for Bob. Just as they were crossing Upsy’s house, Timmy noticed Upsy sitting on her couch in the lounge and watching the television. Timmy panicked, and ran, so that Upsy wouldn’t see him at all. Poor Timmy! He banged against a lamp post and had a nasty fall…the bottle of Merlot broken, with the red richness trickling out and spilling on to the road. Upsy wanted to see what the commotion on the road was all about. ‘Oh…just another drunkard who has lost his way’, she thought!

And while all of this was playing out, what was Peppa up to? Busy saying a warm ‘hello’ to Bob, conveniently oblivious of the fact that Timmy had a blue forehead.

Moral of the story: Don’t hurry, don’t panic, and learn to recognize a true friend. Peppa for sure wasn’t one.

It’s been a week since the fiasco. I am nursing a sore toe and a blue forehead. Amitava, of course, is his usual Peppa self!!!

Friday, December 9, 2011

The Cold, the Dark, the Bad, and the Criminal!

What is it about winter that makes me devour mystery novels? Maybe it's the bizarre cold and the simple thought of curling up toe nails under an exaggerated blanket, with the big bad world going on a killing/looting/tricking spree outdoors? Possible!
Last winter it was McDermid's Fever of the Bone, and this time it's The Mermaids Singing. Not that I am particularly biased towards lesbian mystery writers. I've predictably had my share of Holmes and Poirot as well. It's just the thought of indoor warmth and outdoor mystery that I fall prey to...time and again.Is this not a very normal behavioural trait? The man tells me, it isn't. I think he is faintly of the opinion that I have all the possible germs of a grotesque criminal in's just the shards of a gentle bourgeois society that keep me in a leash. Really? But I've always enjoyed mystery in winter.
I've spent countless winter afternoons, sitting on sunny patches with Famous Fives, Secret Sevens, and shaky milk teeth...blatantly scared of the infamous tooth fairy.
As I grew my adult teeth, my tastes in mystery became more grown up, and I started reading Nancy Drews wrapped in obscure newspaper covers, enjoying every bit of the adult romance between Nancy and her Emersonian boyfriend, Ned.Then came all the classic Conan Doyles and the Agatha Christies this world could think of.
I guess, this hankering for mystery is just my love for imagining things. There have been times when I have been in bed, just imagining that a killer is picking up my scent and trying to track me down...all the way from the busy railway station, past the old brick-coloured houses, across the motor way, past the grocery shop....getting slightly confused at times, but approaching me nevertheless....isn't that supposed to be thrilling? Of course the killer cannot enter the building and kill me in the end. My reality is way too secure for that kind of thing. But what if?
I guess, it's the 'what if' that makes me Kindle™ under a warm duvet, in soft yellow light. 

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Oh come on! You can’t have it all!

Nobody…absolutely nobody stopped you from day dreaming my dear man…kind of your birth right, sure. But your dream has to have an iota of semi-truth about it. What’s the point otherwise?

Let me explain. The man now wants his wife to be a bit of a trophy…shed her flab, be agile, eat less junk, go on a chocolate strike etc. The man forgets very conveniently that a banyan tree, even if you don’t water it for a year, remains as ample and robust (Really?? Who cares?).

The bright new spark is that he’s going to teach me tennis in the neighbourhood park…the place that’s quite obviously frequented by cute blondes in their fluffy, pointless, polka-dotted hardly theres, and skinny males, in their physique-accentuating tights and waxed bodies. OH COME ON!!! You can’t be serious? I’ve never held a tennis racket in my whole butterball life!


It all started, when I was this well-fed kid, still managing to run across packed school corridors in break time under Mrs Solomon’s watchful eyes. She howled at me first, and later at my father, during a PTA, saying that I was going to invite an unnecessary casualty by playing so dangerously.

Thus, the Marion Jones in me was nipped in the bud by a concerned and near-neurotic father, who preferred having a sizable daughter to running to the emergency ward with a gorgeous and skinny child who had three broken teeth and a fractured torso.

Getting back to reality, nothing’s stopping my man. My Yonex rackets have arrived. God help me, coz I am terrified.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Looking for the Silver Lining

No matter how much you crib about the pitfalls of a middle class married life, it’s never a nice thing to battle it out on your own in a lonely city (for official purposes) far away from the man. I genuinely cannot believe I just said that…but there you have it. Loneliness does cruel things to your left brain.
So while I was battling it out on a sultry May evening last week, feeling weepy and helpless as always, a surprising silver lining appeared, so completely out of the blue! It’s a pity I’ve ignored it for so long…the unintentional humour on Indian roads.
I was in an auto rickshaw, mindlessly screeching across the city, through a sea of angry traffic, feeling the moisture in the wind. And then I noticed it on both sides of the road…the names of the shops, and the unintentional humour that goes with them. Here are some examples:
  • Anbu Tailors, we make gentlemen’...I am frightfully serious. Dear old Anbu, I presume has decided to make a gentleman out of every living male, through his Armani-esque finish.
  • James Bond Laundry’…I have no freaking clue about this. Why would the sexy spy want himself to be synonymous with soiled clothes of everyday people?
  • Jam Jam Biriyani’…whatever! A dude sitting inside, surrounded, almost gheraoed, by super oily woks and loads of empty egg shells and onion peels, waiting to serve a sticky lump of yellow rice.
  • SMS Nursing Home’…considering the fact that I am in a southern city, this could well be an abbreviation for Saravana Muthukumar Subramanian. It was a pink mezzanine building with three windows, all of varied shapes and sizes. The windows were at such close proximity that I almost expected to see the head of a patient from the first window, the torso from the second, and the feet from the third.
  • Cool Joint’…’Cool’ is as cold as it gets. Everything in this city stops at this sad temperature, despite the soaring mercury. These ‘Cool’ places usually reek of stale pineapples, jack fruits, mangoes and the occasional kiwi due to the advent of the IT nouveau riche. They are almost always full of sticky tables with half-eaten ice cream blobs on them…sometimes mangled with the remains of smashed ripe bananas.
  • Born Babies’… meaning what exactly? Does it mean that this place sells clothes for all humans who are born babies? Do we have humans of any other kind? I am still guessing.
  • Sri Shiddeshwara Tiffan Centar’…need I say more?
Conclusion: No matter how completely unbearable life and living gets, it’s never too difficult to find fall guys, misplaced humour, crude jokes, and silver linings.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

My Postmodern Traumas

I’ve always believed I have a penchant for the odd…not that it means anything to anybody…but it’s a belief that comes to my mind time and again. It’s a part of growing up and thriving in sad times…makes a person odd.

To describe ‘odd’, well…I have a penchant for saying the wrong things at the wrong time to begin with. In a life that is cruel most of my waking hours, a job that regularly puts Sisyphus to shame, a salary that makes we want to get things from charity shops, a back problem that would lead the simple minded to believe that I lead a secret life of an acrobat and run a circus…oh where do I begin! doesn’t help when I end up making one of the biggest errors in modern times, in a high-profiled client meeting.

Like most things in my strange life, this meeting wasn’t predecided. I just happened to be the next in line when the boss fell ill. So here I was, set to travel 4237657 miles (a mild hyperbole) to a client meeting one usual drizzly morning, with an outdated laptop and a broken umbrella…a rather sad picture isn’t it…makes we wanna take a bereavement leave.
Jojo, the landlady’s beast of a dog has taken sudden pity towards my state of affairs here. He doesn’t scream for my blood anymore. Perhaps he has started to respect the general despair of a post modern woman…how Satre-esque!!

So old Jojo watched me dispassionately as I trudged along with my broken paraphernalia towards the railway station; off to Crawley, on a career-making (acute chances of being quite the opposite) client meet one February Wednesday.

After a couple of hours of toil in unbelievably overcrowded trains, random big blue buses, and trundling along in the slush, I reached the coveted premises. The hair that was carefully straightened in the morning to look mildly sexy had curled up into winterberry shrubs…the eyebrows that I hadn’t had time to shape, looked tropical…and my black trousers had Andy-Warhole-ish mud patches…perfect!

Hopefully, I’ll talk such a lot of sense in there, people wouldn’t care a damn about how ghoulish I looked. Nice, comforting, self-induced halo.
So with crossed fingers and a thumping heart I began. This was a room full of tight-lipped, zero-inclination-to-smile men, staring at me...waiting for me to tell them I had a lousy solution that wouldn’t meet their needs, but I would still make them believe that it would…then I would run off with their money, grinning impishly through my spagetti hair.

Ahem! the first reaction to what I had to say wasn’t as bad. The men warmed up to the idea that my solution wasn’t completely unbelievable. The session went on.

I had said earlier that I have a penchant for the odd. To clarify, I watch too many movies, I am definitely in the wrong profession, and this realization makes me think of movies all the more, especially at wrong times. So in the middle of my rather sombre presentation, I gawked right at the client on the opposite end of the table and asked the most improbable question of my life…’Are you related to Robert De Niro?’ The poor man choked on his evening tea. The group burst out laughing at this Bridget-Jones-ish attempt to look retarded, and I knew my job was on the line.

It’s always been. Will refrain from documenting what went on after that in the meeting. It would suffice to say, I am on hiding since then.