Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Connections

A couple of nights ago I had a rather illuminating chat with this friend of mine. Let's say she's called Kitkat (you know who you are)..Anyway, chats with Kit usually tend to be very illuminating coz she's just that kinda gal, y'know. Anyway, that's beside the point. We were talking about friends, and the myriad ways in which they make a connection, and that very very special relationship that i like to call ESPN. Don't worry, I'm not about to start commenting on the state of sports in India, nor am I trying to surreptitously promote any particular sports channel. As if.. In my lexicon, ESPN stands for Extra Sensory Perception, Ninny! People have ESPN only when they're truly blessed. It means that they complete each other's sentences, feel sympathy pains and generally buzz around in each other's heads. Now, the rate at which I go around completing other people's sentences, one would think that I have ESPN with every second person. Sadly, I don't. I'm just a compulsive dictionary-cum-thesaurus.

No, what Kit and I were talking about is different, and truly magical. It makes you feel warm when you wake up, makes your step lighter and generally makes you so very happy. That's because after millenia of waiting and searching and holding your breath, you feel, in that blinding, perfect moment of realization,"Ah! This is the one who understands!' Everyone looks to be understood, although these days being misunderstood is more 'with it' etc. But to be understood and accepted like this!! Oh, bliss....

But what happens when ESPN goes away, when you get shut out, when someone doesn't want to understand you anymore? Oh, nothing, ostensibly. You say to yourself,"Who cares?" and generally the current of life flows on. But something does change. The prospect of waking up in the morning doesn't seem so inviting anymore. Food doesn't really tempt your palate that much. The snap and crackle seems to go out of life, it just doesn't seem all that special anymore...What does one do then? What happens when you finally acknowledge that you do care, that you would do quite a lot to have it back, but don't know if there's anything you can do? When the fine thread between two people is snapped, can it really be put back?

Can't say that I know all the answers. But when its that very special connection at stake, maybe its asking the right questions that's important..

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Possession

I've been a hostel resident for more than a year now, and today I faced fresh evidence that I've been possessed by the spirit that rules all hostellers. Its quite a strange spirit, though. It doesn't make you break out into incomprehensible sacred languages or perform twitchy dances that resemble the imaginings of some anthropologist of old about Africa. All it does is thoroughly invert your food habits and turn you into some kind of trash magnet. Let me illustrate.

Today was a friend's birthday, and I was invited for lunch. I woke up (late) with happy visions of sumptuous cuisines dangling in front of my eyes. As a result of the late dawning of my day, I'd missed breakfast and was in a better position to HOG. I jauntily made my way to this Italian ristorante (hehe...me being a snob). My friends also made their way there and, lo! lunch was in progress. I ordered an exotic sounding dish called Red Pesto Chicken, which was basically yummy chicken stuffed with magnificient filling, accompanied with pasta, veggies, brown bread and pesto sauce. I tucked in with full gusto. For about ten minutes, there was pin drop silence at our table. But then , with almost one-third of the chicken looking up at me appealingly, I realized that I couldn't eat another bite!!!! I was heartsore, looking at all that gorgeous food, willing myself to eat, and finally, looking on tamely as the waiter removed my plate. Sigh.

The sad bit is, when I'm eating in the hostel mess, I'm usually stuffing my face with half-cooked cabbage, or specks of dal in chilli powder sauce and so on. I gorge on terrible food, day after day, incomprehensibly. Good food reduces me to a demure maiden who pecks at her plate. I wondered for about five minutes, and then it hit me. You see, hostellers develop an exaggerated version of the survival instinct over time. So no matter what the food tastes like, as long as its there, and as long as your stomach doesn't burst, you eat. Eventually, you lose all appreciation for fine cuisine, and the transformation from gourmand to pig is complete. I'm on my way to becoming my porcine reincarnation. Its only a matter of time now. The aforementioned spirit has well and truly taken me over.... HELP!

Saturday, October 28, 2006

First love

For most of my life, I didn't understand how other people could not be petrified of animals. Now as an innately foolish person, I wasn't really afraid of too many things in this world. You could trust me to keep your secrets from the police under most circumstances, but if they so much as brought a dog into the next room, I'd sing like a canary...This fear was exacerbated in case of dogs due to an almost traumatic childhood experience (I was once almost bitten by the neighbour's pet dog). So, for a very long time, the only canines I wasn't terrified of were the ones in my mouth. Life went on, I kept avoiding going to homes where these fearful creatures were kept as 'pets'. And then I moved to the university campus, and something happened as a consequence. I fell in love.

Her name is Maya. She's a beautiful brown mongrel with a white star on her neck. She's very popular with the men of both human and canine varieties. She's also very adept at the use of human psychology in the pursuit of material pleasures like food and petting. So, one look into those pleading, liquid brown eyes and I was a goner. She frequents the area near my hostel, and engages the affections of most of its residents. She flirts, she pouts, she begs, and almost always gets her way. It was by observing her that I realized how powerful feminine mystique could be, if used appropriately. She's also quite mindful of my well-being, deigning to act as my chaperone a couple of times that I strayed outside after my bedtime.

Anyway, one can't really love one dog and be terrified of the rest of the species without being a complete ninny. So, to save myself from that particular disgrace, I worked to get over my fear. Now I can socialize with most stray dogs. I'm still careful about pet dogs though. They mostly don't suffer from the deprivation and the insecurities that have some role in making most strays so hungry for affection and so generous in reciprocating. Oh my, now I sound like one of those pet psychologists who pontificate on the radiio.

In conclusion, I'm still very much in love, and am actually on friendly terms with quite a number of the canine inhabitants of this campus. I hope someday to come across a cat named Maya, and a bird named Maya and a goat named Maya and so on. I hope to fall in love so many times again. If it happens, I'll let you know.
P>S> This post is lovingly dedicated to Reeju, friend, companion and inveterate animal lover (not in the creepy way...eeeeewwww).

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Swear you're gonna swear

We all like to think that we're educated, that we have some sort of knowledge base which gives us a measure of control, however tenuous, over a wilful and capricious thing called life. Recently, however, I've begun to think that we're really fooling ourselves, coz our education is woefully incomplete. I made this momentous discovery while in the process of watching a movie set in the heartland of India. Now I've always believed myself to be relatively proficient in Hindi, but I was unable to follow roughly one-third of the exchange onscreen, because it was part of the great nebulous unknown that our educators had deemed unfit for us, in the interests of preserving our innocence(!?!). In short, these men were swearing at each other in full flow, and I couldn't comprehend any of it. I left the movie thinking that I'd never imagined that the day would come when I'd wish for a Hindi movie to be subtitled in English!!

I was left with a feeling of vague dissatisfaction, beacuse I had enjoyed the rest of the movie so immensely. I resolved to buy myself a VCD of the same, but with enlightening subtitiles. The opportunity presented itself after barely a month or so. Gleefully, I sat down to watch, only to realize, to my consternation, that the subtitles were made in keeping with the sensibilities of a Victorian woman of high rank, so they artfully dodged the abuses. Then of course it came home to me that I couldn't really expect subtitles which said,"so and so part of the anatomy of so and so member of your nuclear family" etc. You get my drift. That set me thinking about how the construction of abuses made such flawless use of psychological and sociological facts, like the association of certain body parts with privacy, and hence, sustaining of greater losses in case of violation, and the importance of family, so that your closest ones would be targetted according to a hierarchy: the closer the relationship, the greater the degree of filth.

Also recently, my friends and I were perplexed by a certain phrase which did allude to a close member of the family but the corresponding body part was totally innocuous. We'd already asked sundry friends, acquaintances and relatives about it. Without exception, they were either ignorant, feigned ignorance or, worse still, patted us on our heads and told us to run along and play, as young ladies could really gain nothing by knowing things like this which were designed to make our ears shrivel up. So, as the last resort, we asked an indirect friend(friend of a direct friend). Now this gentleman's propensity to use swear words is so marked that he could almost be using them as harmless pleasantries, as I suspect he is. So he told us that the innocuous body part is actually a clever substitute for more innuendo loaded organs of the human anatomy. He also imparted the knowledge that we could now skilfully tailor our own abuses by using the principle of substitution (examples: ma ka haath, baap ka pair etc.).

My point is, my whole life has been spent in the pursuit of education, including the intricacies of language. I really shouldn't be reduced to gaping at a movie screen because my ears could have shrivelled up had I been earlier informed of the existence and meaning of certain choice words and phrases. I resent that assumption, coz now I've heard them all, I realize what they mean, I'm still circumspect about using them, and MY EARS ARE FINE, THANK YOU VERY MUCH!!

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

So in love!! Really?

So today let's go into the boundless realms of the imagination...actually, let's imagine something quite mundane. So, suppose I'm a guy. And I'm in love. Hmm..mundane enough? Sure. There are lots of guys, many of them are in love, and many more are thoroughly convinced that they love. And I'm one of them, for now. And who is it that provokes emotions in the region encased by my ribcage? Well, a woman (coz this is a mundane imagining) who sets my soul on fire, brings light into my otherwise illumination-deprived life etc. So far so good. Ok, now let's tweak the story a little bit.

Suppose she doesn't love me. She also quite candidly admits to this little fact. So there's no devilish subterfuge etc. Its all out in the open and I think, "Atleast she's honest", and I love her a little bit more. After all, it is my prerogative as to whether i keep bestowing my emotions on her. So what's the point of all this pap, you ask. Hold on, the tweaking process is still on.

Now this woman sees nothing wrong in making me the on/off centre of her life, depending on the availability of substitutes. What this entails is that I have to always be there for her in whichever manner she fancies her need to be. I listen, I advise, I help, I act as her sounding board, I become her public relations officer, and I love and I love, love and love some more. In the process, I occupy various positions in her life: carpenter, plumber, odd jobs man, dustbin, pen paper and all other manner of stuff. Its still all ok, coz my love makes me want to give of myself, whatever I can, to her. I don't stoop to think of whether she will ever consent to being a dustbin if I happen to need one. Love doesn't lend itself easily to such selfish speculations. But one day, she stops needing me, coz the aforementioned substitutes make their presence felt. It hurts a little bit, and then a bit more. I think to myself that maybe its a good thing, maybe now I'll have time for my life. The week after that, she decides that she can't do without me, although she still is very clear about not loving me. I happily go back to playing a multidimensional helix of roles on her life. But this in-out process then starts happening regularly, like a joke that's so hilarious that God keeps repeating it periodically coz it just never gets old.

Then my other friends start telling me that I should move on, that she's using me etc. And I do see the point of it all, but how do I move on when i know how devastated she'll be when she finds out? Somewhere in the back of mind is the niggling thought that maybe she won't be so devastated, but I brush it aside, and i agonize everyday, a little bit more. So in this imagining, which may not be entirely fictitious, my central problem is why nice people like me invariably end up loving not-so nice people with few compunctions like her, when there are so many nice, perfectly lovable, caring people in this world. Why don't I stop being there for her, even though, clearly, she's the user and I'm the loser here? Why must I be such a fool for that brat? Why must I love the wretch who makes me so wretched? The answer, of course, is that I cannot blame stupidity or a lack of sense which is typical of humanity. The problem is that day after day, breath after endless breath, I make a choice: the choice to be stupid, to give myself to one who doesn't deserve me by a long shot. And will I stop, you ask? What are you, stupid or something?

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Isolation

I suppose its true that one is always alone, essentially..but we do manage to forget it in the course of our daily lives, so that we may have daily lives in the first place. But sometimes life forces one to remember. Today was one such momentous occasion. I was in the one place that I detest most in the world, the dentist's chair. I was parting ways with a molar that had decided to make a rather undignified exit from my life after twenty-two years of mostly uninterrupted service. It wasn't as though the dentist was particularly forbidding or anything. In fact, he was probably more worried than I was, given the fact that his patient looked like she was on the verge of hysterics. And I had a somewhat queasy friend around to hold my hand as well. In spite of all this, I can safely say that I've never felt so alone. Nothing like pain to give one a little perspective. Anyway, now its over, till the next time my dentures decide to give me grief. Till then i'll try to forget, and I'm sure I'll be mostly successful, coz otherwise life refuses to go on. Ok, my daily quota of profundity has been filled, so i'm gonna get back to the more mundane task of forcing some ice-cream down my throat. Toot toot.