Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Again

Sometimes, it's the unasked questions that rankle unexpectedly. The other day, I decided to restart a knitting project I had, in my usual way, abandoned seven years ago. But my fingers no longer remembered the pattern. I'd almost picked up the phone to call and ask before I realized that it was no longer an option. Over the last nine years, there have been so many things to ask, so many conversations to have, which will never be.

What was that pesky knitting pattern? How do you make your patented dry fish curry? Do you really like him, or are you just saying so 'cause I do? How do both the ends of your Mughlai paratha join so seamlessly? Can you believe I have to wear sarees to work now? Can I just drop everything and come home?

Most days, I'm at peace with life, mostly because I've never expected it to be fair. But the unguarded moment seems to always be around the corner, waiting to undo me again. But you did a good job of teaching how to pick up the pieces, every time.

Friday, October 01, 2010

Restart

So, finally, I have something to do that I actually want to do. I've just been asked to join a collective of freelance copy editors. I have a feeling that this is probably the first time in my professional life that I will actually enjoy what I do. The last two months of submitting my CV online have just reinforced the fact that nobody gets hired by applying online. And in the process, somewhere I began to question myself, as to whether this decision to wait for the right job in the right location was going to be a great debacle. At this moment, I'm just grateful I had the courage to walk away from the comfortable. And I haven't found the perfect job yet, but I'm certain that the lords of language won't leave my great love unrequited.

Maybe it's a good thing that I was so terrible at math. Or that my drawings looked like dullness itself. Maybe it is wonderful to only be good at one thing; juggling words around till they please you. Atleast when you find where your soul needs to be, there won't be other tempting paths to confuse you.

So it begins.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

My Own Lady Gaga

So now I apparently only write birthday posts.

Anyhoo, all my life, I've always aspired to be noticeable. Not conspicuous, but noticeable. Someone who walks into a room knowing that she belongs at the centre, right under the crystal chandelier, not unobtrusively edging near the curtains in the corner. I think the word I'm looking for is flair. So at the end of my second year in college I became friends with a person who seemed to have been endowed with the elusive F-word.

Quirky, colourful, loud and sensitive. PS is usually all these things at once (her version of multitasking, I guess). She is also immensely helpful, gloriously uninhibited, and supremely talented at getting shy people to try on shocking lingerie at departmental stores. Going to shampoo workshops in Japan, getting a tattoo around another tattoo, shopping outrageously and jumping from heights in killer high heels are all in a day's work for her.

But somehow, through all these years, from the time we started talking while rehearsing a Chekov play to today, I've always felt that within PS's head, there are pockets where not many are allowed. The parts of her that few people see, getting lauki juice for a friend's sick mom or realizing that outrageous Bollywood gossip is sometimes the best way to cheer someone up without giving the appearance of trying too hard.She sort of combines the advantages of being a wallflower (escaping scrutiny) and the absolute heart stopping thrill of living your life as the belle of the ball. So PS, you lucky @#@#$#@, you've been blessed with moonshine. Not sunshine, unvaried and ordinary, but moonshine, bright and reserved, electric and subdued, all at once.

I'm glad for your generous heart that is as open as your laughter. I love the fact that you bring fashion and colour into our drab, drab lives. I'm sick of the fact that I cannot still think of you with short hair, so grow it back at once! I love going through your bag because it's like Toiletry Disneyland. And I'm very proud at how beautifully you embrace every part of yourself.

Happy twenty six, Ranevsky. Be fabulous.

Friday, August 27, 2010

All I Can Do

As it turns out, I can't stand unemployment for too long. It makes me feel dissipated, like I'm becoming invisible and conversely growing fatter at the same time. I know one's self esteem shouldn't be tied to a paycheque, but there are so many other things tied to it. Things to eat, things to buy, things to see. If I had a vegetable garden and I were any good at gardening, maybe I wouldn't be so bored. As it is, my only project is compiling family recipes and feeling sorry for myself and my poverty.

After getting half my soul sucked to hell in advertising, I figured that I'd give the publishing industry a try. God knows that I can't love grammar and punctuation enough. God, and the many people over the years whom I've offended by correcting them (and I'm not sorry, never will be). And I do love to write. Just as long as making it a profession doesn't turn it into drudgery as well. The publishing industry is unbelievably insular though. No ads, no links, nothing unless you're the editor's niece or secret college hook-up. But I will keep at it nonetheless.

After all, I haven't much else to do. Till I become a gardener.

Friday, May 07, 2010

Why I Believe In Magic

In early 2002, I was flipping through a magazine when I came across an article on the changing face of children's literature. The piece was mostly a gushing account of how the Harry Potter series had brought in enormous profits, and therefore, renewed interest in a hitherto 'niche' genre. I had heard of Harry Potter, of course, as I wasn't living under a rock. But I didn't bother to read one of the books because my snob of a mind had already classified it unworthy. My younger sister wasn't so circumspect. In the summer of the following year, I read the first Harry Potter book that she had borrowed from a friend, while I was home on vacation.

Within five minutes of reading, I was hooked. And the fact that there were more waiting to be read was like a constant, unwelcome itch on the most inaccessible part of the back that I just couldn't wait to scratch. But these were my college years, and 'shoestring' was too grand a term for my finances. Spending four hundred bucks on a book wasn't just indulgent, it was impossible. So I yearned and waited and longed. Till suddenly I remembered the girl in my class who had a reputation for having charmed the gnarled old librarian into an easy friendship in our first year itself. She was a quiet girl who seemed to be joined at the hip with another girl who reminded me vaguely of an industrious sparrow. Quiet Girl was always looking at people intently for short periods of time with a patient half smile on her face. All the professors loved her and she knew all the answers, even though she never seemed to seek out the Dork Limelight. And it was rumoured that she Had All The Books. Ever.

So I decided to ask her for the second Harry Potter book. It was a big step for me; I was still as inhibited and self conscious as a timid dormouse. And I had my small town complex - my two friends in college both came from Shillong and Delhi women intimidated me effortlessly. But then, Quiet Girl always smiled. So I asked her, and she said sure, she'd get me the book. And she got me that one, and the third one, and zillions of other ones (the rumours were true). She gifted me the Lord Of The Rings series, and introduced me to Samit Basu's work, and showed me a new world of fiction where misfits like myself seemed to rule the roost. She also bought me breakfast everyday (a chocolate brownie and masala tea) and gave me new pride in my handwriting. When another girl in class asked me for my copy of the fifth Harry Potter book, our triumvirate was complete.

The two years we spent in college sharing food, books and laughs are still easy to conjure up, and heartbreakingly difficult to relive. Quiet Girl is still busy patiently taking care of those she loves in a million ways. She's still ready to listen to any rubbish you want to spew or to comfort you when you cry about a stolen wallet. She will still bake you a cake when you have a cold, and get you macaroni and cheese because it feels like that kind of Tuesday.

And that's why I believe in magic; because a story about a wizard boy led me to two of the most wonderful women and the most prized friends I've ever had. On Quiet Girl's birthday, I wish that she finds all the love and care she has spread so freely returned a thousandfold. I hope that this year, she can find some time to discover why we all love her so, and that it brightens the patient half smile into something more radiant.

Quiet Girl, you are one of kind. Happy Birthday, and I love you.

Monday, April 26, 2010

I Watched An Emu Poop

On the old Mumbai-Pune road, in an establishment called Toni Daa Dhaba (as spelled by Toni). Apart from its culinary delights, the place also houses several bewildered guinea fowls and emus that you can choose to eat, if you be of a gruesome nature. One of the birds was obviously a poet who recognized a kindred soul and marked the moment with defecation.

In between talking about bird droppings and kindred souls, I do have something to say. For the last three years, I've been a working girl. Well, sort of. I've felt supremely useless and smugly superior, sometimes at the same time. I've bitched and whined and complained while cultivating and air of productivity to cover up my deep desire to do nothing. Most of the time, it worked. It worked so well, in fact, that it started to make me sick.

So I quit. Because life can't be a trapeze act between one job and another. And sometimes it pays to just jump. Sometimes the bird just has to poop. I'm spending June and July on a detox diet, where I hope to forever be rid of jargon like creative strategy and brand visibility and so forth, things that mean very little in the larger scheme of things. And now I'm going to create the larger scheme of things. Like a wise woman in a movie once said, "You have to be the leading lady of your own life."

I'm taking my life back.

P.S.: How offensive is the Tanishq wedding jewellery ad? Throw some diamonds at your recalcitrant daughter and watch how fast she sprints down the aisle? And would you believe that this weekend, the Times carried a feature about Indian women being essentially dour and humourless. Evidence? Sonia Gandhi doesn't smile and neither does Mayawati. I mean, I know the Times is a cesspool of endless crap, but this was truly a new nadir even for them.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Old Love

Why do I love Delhi? A is still unable to fathom the depths of my infatuation. He truly believes that Mumbai is the city of dreams. But only a certain kind of dream can take root in the grit of the city that smells of fish. We have a very uneasy relationship, Mumbai and I. I don't like her; she senses it and reciprocates. We have history of the bad kind. The future doesn't hold much promise of reconciliation.

I try to explain it to A. I tell him that I love Delhi because our souls are similar, and entwined. We are old, and reserved, and open and gaudy. I read a book which says that you can't help giving, or withholding, your heart. Mine was given without restraint or struggle, to a city with forts and bungalows and aloo tikki on the streets and cheating auto drivers and some horrifically dumb people, mostly boys.

Summer days where all you can do is use your breaths to bridge the gap from one moment to another. Autumn laced with the acrid smell of the ten thousand rupee endless firecracker that your neighbour uses on Diwali to show he's arrived. Winter arriving with a blaze of fiery carnations that take your chilled breath away. The Tibetan lady in Lajpat Nagar whose momos never hit a false note. The lime soda guy in North Campus whose crooked smile is still summoned up in an instant by your mind. The sublime finesse of LSR Cafe's very own stuffed parantha and boondi raita. The feel of 100% cotton in your quintessentially Delhi garb, heavy on the kajal please. The friend whose mom makes the best rajma ever, and the one who taught you that Ctrl X equals Cut. Girlhood. Womanhood. Heartbreak and elation, never the same twice.

It's the one thing that still has the power to make my hands fly over the keyboard with impassioned, fevered words, even while writing rubbish for a living has choked whatever writer was left in me. That is why I love her still.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Pop Culture and I

We spend a lot of time in each other's company, so a few thoughts get formed and stick around till I have to blog about them.
1. Hariharan is white wine, Rekha Bhardwaj is red.
2. How Gulzar knows exactly what to say to make the whirling in my head stop is beyond me. I mean, the man just gets it, everytime.
3. I love how A.R. Rahman brings reality to celebrity. He knows he's good, but he isn't eaten up by it. Maybe everytime his fame threatens to swell his head, he remembers how bad he is at changing lightbulbs or something. AND the guy told Hollywood's greatest that uske paas ma hai.
4. I don't know of any woman who thinks that hair gelled to look like a honeycomb is sexy.
5. Phenomena I fail to understand include Katrina Kaif and Himesh Reshammiya, apart from economics and the Bermuda Triangle.
6. Dev Anand's raven black hair actually suits him. I don't know how he pulls it off, but he does. Innate awesomeness, I suppose.
7. Bones is hilarious. I've never laughed so much while watching a murder centric series.
8. 'Dil sa koi kameena nahi' is now my mantra to explain every fickle turn that my mind takes. Thank you, Bollywood, for hitting the nail on the head.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Two a.m.

Long time. The drought has been particularly severe this time. But apparently being sick as a dog makes me want to blog again. Thank you, dust allergy.

You know how they say that if your wife asks you if she's looking fat, always say 'No'? It's always portrayed like a way to stop the wrath of the female from descending on you. But my problem is, don't the men understand why she needs to hear that 'No' from them? Look, she has a mirror. She is probably so critical of herself that it took her a tremendous amount of gumption to buy that slinky dress while the snooty salespeople made her feel frumpy. And if even a single microparticle of excess weight shows, she probably won't wear the dress outside the bedroom. People who love themselves enough to do so are pretty rare. Why does she need you to say 'No' then? Maybe it's because she wants to feel that you're the one person who can never find her fat. Maybe she wants to feel the way she did when you first started looking at her in that special 'you're the one I want to cook my meals and do my laundry forever' way. She's asking you to see her through the eyes of love. Just say 'No'. Just to give her a momentary happy thrill. She'll probably look at the mirror again and change to something else anyway. So step up and lie, not because you're scared of her, but because the woman you love could probably be spared the extra fretting should you happen to say 'Yes'. She may just love you more because she knows you'll always lie to her for her. She's probably not too thrilled about your midlife crisis inspired Backstreet's Back T-shirt, but she's not telling, is she?

Do not say, "I wouldn't really say 'fat', honey. Maybe a little umm... er... snug?'

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On other topics, has anyone ever seen a Charagh Din ad that did not suck? I think that is advertising's last undiscovered world.

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After watching 'Three Idiots' I wondered why Chetan Bhagat even wants the credit. I mean, a baby coming to life because Aamir Khan's tagline is actually the secret Freemason hymn that invokes life itself? Really?

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As an Indian, I am outraged at 'Phir Mile Sur Mera Tumhara'. Isn't it ironic that on Republic Day, we get to see the most shameless self congratulatory eulogy to dynasty? Dis-gus-ting, and sixteen minutes long, to boot.

If they ever try 'modernizing' 'Ek Chidiya, Anek Chidiya', I'm going to get violent.