Sunday, November 30, 2008

Something else happened at Versova….

She is walking, escutcheoned under Darkness- dark, silent, soothing, unpretentious but overwhelming. I see a white skirt, bare feet and large, luminous eyes. Does she know that the skies are plotting to burst asunder to echo her tumultuous thoughts? The wind has become her ally as it moans her indignation. The milky white orb that hangs latent on the sky that you people rave so much about, is eyeing her with pity. The waves, blissfully oblivious to her agony play with her. Tenderly caressing her ankles and daintily retreating and then, as if on an afterthought thoroughly drenching her with their sticky, salty spray.

I – emotionless, impartial, detached and infinite. I- Time, stand and watch her as she ignores my enormity and walks aimless, goalless, a void in her eyes and heart. If she were to relate this, she would not be able to. She would get emotion into the picture. She’d bring in the mystical, she might even get in romance. I, I will not mince words, will not underplay the horrendous or overplay sheer luck. Its better you get to hear all this from me.

The last argument between her parents was more than clear in her mind. The shouts, the bickering, the fights, the insults, the accusations had built into a crescendo that evening, the zenith being reached when the beating began. She had stood and watched- willing herself to feel emotion, desperately trying to force away her obdurate numbness but giving up halfway in the attempt.

It had been six months since she last saw him. The acknowledgment- crippling and stultifying, that He was never there when she needed him the most. The intransigent and abhorrent truth was that He would Never be there. She was slotted in between his rehearsals, his drunken brawls, his vehement soliloquies against fate, his barren, thin lipped, dull eyed wife and his plays which died a silent death in his leather bound diary. She felt alienated from the love that he had never given her but the illusion of which, had offered her at least a temporary solace. The thought hung heavy that love was within her but she could not bring it to life in any form.

She hadn’t touched her pen for as long as she could remember. She started at paper and saw emptiness. Then, there was the problem of money. There was never any money. NEVER ANY MONEY. The house seemed to echo it late at night, when its inhabitants were wrapped in a soundproof dormancy that did not scream, “Bills, debts and ration”. A dormancy that did not bring with it, the horror of an uncertain future. Never Any Money…..
The curtains, the plants on the window sill, the trees in the garden, the dilapidated, teetering mansion all seemed to whisper conspiringly, “Never any money”. The creditors seemed to say it although they never mentioned it audibly. Her clothes seemed to reek of its scarcity; her eyes seemed to illuminate its paucity. Her nicotine stained lips seemed to mouth it continuously. Never any money. Never any money.
There had to be more money. There had to be but there never was. So she sat with fissiparous thoughts, the high tide and a gentle breeze till….

“Shit! The true meaning of population explosion never really hit me until now. A man can’t even find a place to shed tears alone! People like vermin- ubiquitous. Welcome to Mumbai, gotta love its guts!” She turned around sharply and caught a stitch on her neck. Cursing, she turned around sharply but not sharply enough to face a lighted cigarette, wind blown hair resting on an angular face, which was resting on a lean body. She did not grace his statement with a reply and started steadily ahead.

He didn’t leave the place. He didn’t ask her to. He didn’t say anything. He just sat there, like a bump on a log, which did not disturb you but yet unsettled you because of its quiet, unobtrusive but unrelenting presence. She wanted him to go away. However, she reasoned, she could do with a smoke.

‘What Happened?’
‘Can I borrow a smoke?’ she asked. ‘Sigh! I don’t do Marlboro Lights….’
‘I’ll take it!!!’ she reacted immediately as she saw him pocketing the four sole survivors in a packet that is meant to house 17.
For a while both were content just tracing the path of the smoke as it rose up, spread and mingled with the air till nothing remained of its existence.

‘What happened? I ask you again…..’
‘Lemme guess…’
‘He left you.’
‘He is married.
‘Tragedy O Tragedy!! You are with child!’
‘Excuse Me!!’
‘Oh wait….. You are a lesbian! Vow! Cooool! So where did you meet her??’
‘Look mister I trained in karate. Do not. DO NOT f**k my brains.’
‘Good for you. I trained in picking up the nearest stone and aiming it in the eye of the Bastard, fisticuffs and verbal abuse. Has worked for me so far……”
She got up to leave. Left. Walked back and sat again.

‘And what’s with you? She doesn’t love you anymore? Awww. Caught her in bed with your colleague and came to this filth ridden beach to vent out your murderous misogynistic frustration?’
‘SHE is an angel actually. She is in bed right now, blissfully sleeping with my wedding ring on her finger.’
‘Tcchh! Damn. You robbed me of my perverse pleasure.’ She smiled.
‘Just look at it. It is so incredibly true that it is too incredible to be real. I am good looking, charming, dashing, intelligent, actually brilliant (she raised her eyes heavenward), currently employed with a salary quoting astronomical figures, have the luxury of giving it up for rediscovering myself, finding meaning in life, parents who dote on me, a sibling who idolizes me, the worlds most beautiful woman by my side and……
and…… Im dying.’

‘What?! I am so so sorry.’
‘No I am Sorry. I was just kidding.’
‘Oh! Thank God!’
‘I am dead serious. I AM dying. Just a few months and it will be au revoir world. Do you not understand sarcasm?!”

She didn’t know whether to bolt or to sit still or to slap the impossibly impossible man sitting beside her.

‘What’s your name?’ she asked
‘What’s making you die?’
‘Vow! Convenient.’
‘Are you scared of me?’
‘Do you think I am a psycho?’
‘Good. What is your name?’
‘Never Mind’
‘What happened? I ask you again.’
‘Oh my problems are not like yours- a Hindi tearjerker in Technicolor. They are the usual- parents splitting up, indifferent boyfriend, depleted pocket…. You get the picture right.’

‘Ah! Vanitatas Vanitatum. Which of us is happy in this world? Which of us has his desire or having it is satisfied? Come, children let us shut up the box and the puppets for our play is played out…..’

‘Its William Makepeace Thackeray, Mr original, Vanity Fair. But still, me is impressed.’
‘Twas worth the try, Violet.’
‘Why Violet?’
‘Why not?’

It happened that night. Maybe because it was night and the improbable is made welcome at night, whom the stark light of the day shuns away. Maybe the soothing zephyr had drugged them or maybe it was plain desperation on both parts but it happened. Two complete strangers, alien to each other’s lives, shed the façade and bared their souls. Tears mingled with laughter as they shared joys and sorrows. Tribulations, triumphs, apprehensions and premonitions mingled with smoke, entwining together, touching each other and then dissipating, celebrating their release. They cried for what they had lost, they swore on things they did not cherish, they celebrated the apocalyptic turning points of their lives, they shared memories good and bad and welcomed the future with pure and unadulterated ignorance and hope. (He maintained that future would encompass the journey after crossing the final frontier as well. She just humored him)

They shared their love for the city as well. Amidst the multitudes, the debris, the struggle, the extremes, the high rises and the chawls, the dance bars and the discos, the Louise Philippe’s and the Koli Lungis, Hindutva and Mafia, fire temples and synagogues, local trains and BMW’s, humidity induced sweat and rain influenced disease, lies an insignia of reticence, stubborn hope and an obstinate will to just move on come what may.

‘Do you believe in Him?’ she asked looking up.
‘God, You know Bhagwan…’ she elaborated looking at the deadpan expression on his face.
‘Do you?’
‘I do.’
‘Do you?’
He remained silent.
‘If we meet no Gods, it is because we harbor none.’
‘Ha Ha nice try….. But no’

Both were silent. I suppose, then, at that time, they were content. Dawn was walking in.

‘So, I’ll see you tomorrow, Ms Never Mind?’
‘Why not?’
‘Oh Come on, a dying man’s last few wishes.”
‘Why do you address them in plural? A dying man is granted one sole wish.’
‘What, are you my psychiatrist that I need to tell you EVERYTHING? Just consider your luck, there are hordes of women vying for the attentions of Yours Truly….’
‘Oh yeah and do Blue Whales walk in this Peter Pan world of yours?’
‘Nope, But Pigs do fly!’

She laughed. Threw back her head and laughed. She laughed till she wanted to pee. Laughed because she had finally found catharsis. Catharsis, that had been playing hide and seek for far too long.

‘It’s a date,’ she said.
‘It’s a date then, 12:00 am, Versova Beach. Ill meet you at the place where the pissy shitty smell stops assailing your nostrils.’

It’s a long road. A long road to the end. One strewn with ugliness, you would want to assume. What is waiting for you at the end? Where is the end, you wonder? Is it really worth your tears, pain and disappointment, you’d want to question as you move forward. Childhood, adolescence, love, acceptance, success, intellect, old age, withdrawal where do all these lead to? On this long road with hedges and pitfalls, elevations and depressions, labyrinthine mazes, ruts and puddles do you ever stop? Do you ever hand in the towel? No. No because this IS life. This IS how you live it. It sure isn’t a straight walk through a valley. It cannot be, there has to be some demarcation between Earth and Heaven, Heaven and Earth. Standing at the end, you’d realize that the road was ephmeral, life wasn’t.

They are getting up to go. I’ll have you hear their last words.
‘So what happens next Ms Know It All?’
‘I don’t know. What happens next?’
‘A sunrise’
‘Yeah, how earth shatteringly illuminating. What happens next?’
‘A sunset’
‘And then…..’
‘A sunrise….’
‘And then…..’
‘A sunset’
‘And then….’
‘It will all start to make sense….. between them.’
‘Aaaah Sublime! Where did you pass out from….?’
‘Yours truly is a college drop out….’
‘Is that why you are dying…..? Don’t worry its still not too late to get your B School pedigree…”
‘Tut, tut my child. Worked upon humor never turns out to be funny. I AM dying beautiful.
‘So you ARE dying…… I mean DYING…..’
‘I am sorry.’
‘Why? I am not dying. I was joking. You have had too much of Ektaa Kapouer..’
‘Oh! Thank God! Psychoes like you deserve to tread on the earth as well!’
‘I am dead serious. I AM dying. Just a few months and it will be au revoir world. Do you not understand sarcasm?!’

‘Oh for God’s sake are you dying or not???’
‘What do you think???’

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Prayer for my Daughter

What does the photograph on the mantelpiece mean to you? A broken remnant of a faded dream? A hazy memory from an intangible past? Who is the woman whose smile is captured perennially in reel, whose eyes look at you but never see you? The first breath of air that you took when you came into this world was my last. Memories have ways of becoming independent of the reality they evoke. So, come child, come close to me. Close your eyes, open your heart and hear me. Come, listen to your Mother.

When will you utter your first word? What would it be? Ma? How would you take your first baby steps? I wont be by your side as time and life shape you. It wont be my lullaby that would gently rock you to sleep. I always knew you would be a girl. I always knew you would be Anupama.

Yes, you will pine for a mother but would you want me? How can you? How can a woman whose is nothing but a part of a miasma provoke any emotion in you? How would you carve me in your mind…. would you smell my perfumes to know how I smelt, touch my clothes with your skin to feel how I felt like, my heels on your little feet to picture how I walked? Incidents shared by alien people related by blood ties….. would they be your memories of me? A voice on the recorder, would that be my voice?

A kaleideoscope of images is embedded in the mind leaving no space for coherence or clarity :- your sweet voice- music, harmony, bliss, your delightful gurgles, pink fingers, pink toes, sublime smile, dainty lace frocks, eyes that revealed wonder, joy, angst, frolic, eyes that substitute for speech, the first word, the first tear, the first sneeze, the first fight, the first ride, the first school bag, the first bruise, the first fear, the first nursery rhyme, the turbulence of adolescence, heartbreak, love, love, heartbreak, graduation, marriage…….my presence-poignant in its absence.

Sorry. I feel so incapacitated, how does one shape eternity into a wish, into a prayer…….
But you must close your eyes, I implore, open your soul and feel me. You’ll feel me everywhere. I am enmeshed in the air that you breathe, scattered on the earth that you tread on. I’ll flow down your cheeks as tears when you are despairing. I’ll ring in your ears as laughter when you are jubilant. In your celebrations, in your exasperations, in your trials, in your conquests, my love would be manifold. In gaiety, in despair, in quietude, in solitude, everywhere and anywhere you’d find me.

I would not want to negotiate with pain, adversity, betrayal and injustice on your behalf. Have them in your life for whatever measure is deemed fit by them. Prosperity would be even dearer, hope even stronger and love even more precious. Life is a heady concoction of a myriad emotions and feelings. Do not hesitate to consume it till the last drop. Live.

I was not someone great. My presence could not make or mar governments; I could not change parliaments or laws; my words did not influence millions, I did not write verses, my opinions and notions were not so important in magnitude that newspapers or journals would quote them, I was not a messiah for the oppressed nor did I make millions. But I feel, I know, I have created history because I made You and gave You to this world.

There will come a point in your life when you would know that there is nothing stronger, potent and more powerful than love. This life giving seed is what makes an individual. This is the prop to pass the test. Let love be the epicenter of your being. Never let it erode away. Never stop trusting and believing in Him. There is no salvation for the ignorant and God abandoned.

I want you to have beauty. Not too much of it. Not the beauty that captivates, allures and disillusions. Beautiful women consider beauty as a sufficient end. This beauty gives them the power- the power to manipulate- the power to deceive. Have the beauty, which mirrors the innocence of your soul. Beauty- the less talked about, the better felt.
But it still makes me ache, thinking whether you would have my eyes… would your brow burrow like His when you concentrate….God forbid, if you have my nose I’d writhe in anguish! What a colossal waste it would be if you didn’t get His Roman nose!

May you be granted serenity. The serenity, which makes you, accept all joys with grace. The serenity, which makes you sail through ordeal and sorrow with patience and forbearance. They say a woman is born three hundred years old. She is born with wisdom. Use this wisdom to your discretion. Never let indifference and complacency touch you in any way. Let there be zeal and enthusiasm for the smallest of things you do.

Acquaint yourself with an unquenchable thirst for knowledge, an indomitable spirit for enquiry, invincible courage for the unknown and confidence and conviction to see every challenge through. Form opinions and voice thoughts that are your own, not of others.
Whatever you do, do it with passion and interest. Feel anger if you want. Feel pain, feel frustration, feel bitterness, feel hatred but never never feel apathy towards anyone or anything.
Apathy lets us feel that it is the cocoon. Its not. Its vacuum- where nothing can breed.

Learn, imbibe, study and then judge for yourself. Don’t let books or people give you your notions of right and wrong, of virtue and vice. Live and learn it yourself.

My Darling Daughter, let your life be like the beacon that guides a lost ship to the harbor. Let your deeds be like little lamps in the darkness that is slowly but surely engulfing the world. Let your existence be like the lighthouse that steadies those gone astray. Let a man find fulfillment in you. Let a child find its haven in your embrace. Let your heart felt smile light up the lives of many.

This, my dearest daughter is my sincere prayer for you.

Monday, November 17, 2008

To the abyss and back….

The world was asleep and she was watching the flames that had consumed her mother's lifeless form reduce to mere ashes. Aayee...her aayee…gone. She sat there and watched, void and alien to every emotion, dead to the bone. The tears refused to flow, the eyes refused to see, the mind refused to think. Her mother, whom she had thought to be eternal and timeless like the North Star had been ravaged by the inevitability of extinction.

Born, Ms. Sujata Valnolkar, daughter of Kartik Vanolkar, a man who had single handedly led the freedom struggle in rural Maharastra. Sujata Vanolkar who, as Sujata Raut, had very complacently and steadfastly committed herself to twenty-seven years of agony and utter gloom in the cocoon of a concept we call- marriage. Now, all that remained was a gray mass of nothing that bore testimony to her insignificance in the unfathomable depths of life. Ten thousand rupees spent. Ten thousand rupees for cremating her dead body, for treating her with respect, albeit after her death and for preventing her bloody carcass from littering the municipality roads. He had taken away her Aayee. He - mankind's creator, mankind's destroyer, all rolled into one. A sadist and a cynic - yes He was. She picked up a stone and threw it high - very high, mocking Him, cursing Him, hating Him. She spat heavenward and turned back.

There was nothing in life now. Nothing except long due bills, a blank future, insults from debtors and a life bereft of even the contemplation of comfort. Why was she continuing? For whom was she surviving? Naked realization, when it touched her was cold, ice cold. She couldn’t breathe. Within a fraction of a second or several eternities put together, she didn’t know, the indifference, which had earlier enveloped her, had now become her shroud. She would kill herself. She would end her life - she would. She thought of the bridge over the river with its dark blue torrents and started walking towards it.

The waterway looked eerily silent that night, as if welcoming her into its arms. Faint ripples caressed its surface. She looked down and felt a strange sense of imperturbable calm. This was the end. She was there.

She walked the entire length of the bridge. She approached the public toilet that was designed to be a welcome refuge for the urgent natural calls of men and women. She looked at the walls rotten and tattering with years of apathy and neglect. In the light of the moon she could faintly make out the marks of a tennis ball on the wall. She saw a hazy picture - of boys and girls playing cricket in the common. Of the tall and lissom girl, with wild and unruly hair, who had made the winning catch for her team that day. Munna, Champa, Karan, Usha, Khote, where were they? Alive? Happy? Sad? Disillusioned?

Beside the marks was an advertisement, 'Dr Naresh Barulla - gynecologist. Visiting hours: 9.00 AM - 8.30 PM'. A faint smile played upon her lips. She remembered the solitary week his clinic had lasted before he had eloped with the Superintendent's wife.

Diagonally opposite, pasted with intricate detail were two other notices. One declared a phenomenal visit by the great magician - A.N. Banerjee- she remembered that…. garish make up, a skinny assistant, two voluptuous women who were paid every night for showing their willingness to be cut in to two, three or four parts, kitsch accessories and music and yet, an enthralled audience. The other was a notice, inviting applications from women willing and aspiring to teach English in the school- “Holy Girls Mission Higher Secondary”, near the basti. Three hours in the evening and a salary of Rs. 1500 every month. Strange, why didn't she see this before?

Her gaze ran over the red stains of betel juice on the walls. Paan, Baba, Saritabai. Baba…her Baba - dark, dirty, bulky, ugly with his cursing and beatings and other accompaniments from hell. She wanted to meet him, once, just once, so she could ask him-what had he gained by throttling each and every one of her mother's wishes, desires, pleas and by satisfying the whims and fancies of his mistress? Why had she let her mother die a silent death every time he sauntered in with that voluptuous beauty? Why Baba? Why? Why? Why?

She thought of the man - crippled, deformed, deaf and alone sitting at the entrance charging a fee of 1 rupee for the use of the lavatory. The skies burst asunder, fire rain down; you would always find his perpetual presence there, on a folding chair brandishing his deadly weapon - the collection box.
Two dark and large eyes directed their vision to an inscription in black charcoal. 'Raju love Guddi'. The writer seized by a poetic afflatus had declared his undying love in a couplet.
“River May Dry
Earth May Fry
If I forget you
I will die”

She reached out and touched the insignia of their naiveté. Clandestine meetings, furtive whispered endearments, stolen kisses, dormant passion soon to be ignited - she saw it so clearly.
The vision came back to her. She saw it often. A tall and lissome woman with long curly hair, in a modest one-roomed flat. She was making tea and waiting for him. A man with magical hands; hands that caressed, hands that supported, hands that held her with tenderness, hands that held pleasure. She had a dream, a fantasy - that one day she could give and receive pleasure, that one day, she could give and receive love, that one day her embittered soul would finally find solace and salvation.

She looked down at the azure hue of the river and then up at the sun, waking up, ready to dazzle the world with its brilliance. She closed her eyes and rejoiced at the touch of the warm sunshine. She saw the trees- green, fresh, still hopeful, still welcoming. But, she was alone.
In a trance like state, she was suddenly jolted by the tenderness of the early morning breeze, the voice of a woman humming along with the radio….
Kuch paakar khona hai, Kuch khokar paana hai…
Jeevan ka matlab toh aana aur jaana hai….
Ek pal ke jeevan mein, ek umra churana hai….
Zindagi aur…. Kuch bhi nahi….
Teri meri kahani Hai…..
But, she was alone.

A pup came to her. He showed her his two minute gig- whine, wag tail, stretch on front paws, yawn, gaze over territory for stray cats, flies and other dogs, regard female standing beside with curiosity, mini bark, wag tail….. venture closer. It stood by her for some time and then went its own way. Oh! She was so alone. She was so hungry.
She turned and walked away. She was still alone but not yet lonely. She was still empowered by the overwhelming desire to survive.....

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

When He said He'll call ya....

Why do Women do this to themselves??
I suppose the fact that time is eternal, everlasting and infinite really hits you when you are waiting for that one elusive phone call. I am right now standing 500 feet below the point of “could things get any more degrading!” I have checked the coverage on my mobile, have been checking it every 30 seconds…. And I have ensured that there is NO possibility that the phone can just go off because of no/low battery. I even watched melodrama queens crying buckets in one of the K serials (It actually helps you know, as a distraction from the constant waiting. I mean you cannot but feel pity for the woman who is in love with one and marrying another).

Even while I am penning this down, I am staring at the sickeningly unrelenting phone willing it, cursing it to just ring.
Ring once.
Oh! Come on!
Should I call him?
Should I message him?
Of course not!. Don’t you have any dignity? Any self respect?

What could be the worse outcome of my calling him?

He might think, hell no, confirm that you are desperate and needy and have “I am single” pasted all over your face.
Yes..... but that’s really really close to the truth and it actually doesn’t help that He is tall (we are talking 6 foot plus some inches), good looking enough to drool over and (you are not going to believe this) unaware of it all.
So that’s that- I cannot. I will not. I should not call him.
Rot, you… rotten being. Rot!

But I really felt there was something in the way he was looking at me last dinner-
It was the lighting.
Something in the way he was holding my hand-
He had to. In those high heels coupled with a liberal dose of alcohol, it would indeed be impossible to walk straight without falling into the nearest slush filled crater created by an overdose of rains and poor quality roads.

Sigh! Don’t they all…..
Why, why, why do women do this?? Women irrespective of vital stats, color and clothing brands end up giving their number to that one good looking stranger they meet at the party, or the movie hall, or the mall, or the dentist (yeah believe me it has been known to happen). And more unforgivable is the fact that they wait for Him to call.

A) He doesn’t call. You plunge to the murky depths of despair and can only resurface with the help of a rare find of Jimmy Choos in a sale.
B) He does call. You go out. You have fun. He suddenly and overwhelmingly appears to be adorned in all the qualities you happen to want in your Mister Right. He of course wants to go “bang bang” but given the fact that you guys have just met like twice, puts it more subtly that
He wants to know you better.
He wants to enjoy your company.
He wants to get closer.
You contemplate, meditate, analyze and deduce…….. Its gonna take a long time to do that so that’s why the (……)
C) He calls. You go out. The evening with Him has left you feeling deliciously, stupidly giddy. Also, makes you think, "Have I been dating losers so far??". Come morning, noon and then twilight and you are again by the side of the phone…..What happens next?? When he doesn’t call, is the waiting, the expecting, and the agitation worth it? What is the probability of a “happy ending” in such situations? What is a “Happy Ending” for such situations? Why isn’t there a separate branch of statistics dealing with all this? One cannot undermine its importance. I mean, we are talking big time psychological assuaging over here. Think about it.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Tomorrow Never Dies- Sheryl Crow.

Darling Im killed
Im a puddle on the floor
Waiting for you to return
Oh what a thrill,
Fascination gallore
How you tease, how you leave me to burn.......

Its so deadly my dear
The power of having you near
Until the day ends
Until the world falls away
Until you say therell be no more goodbyes.....
I see it in your eyes
Tomorrow never dies

Darling youve won,
its no funMartinis, girls, and guns
Its murder on our love affair
But you bet your life every night
While you chase the morning light
Youre not the only spy out there.....

Its so deadly my dear
The power of wanting you near
Until the day ends
Until the world falls away
Until you say therell be no more goodbyes
I see it in your eyesTomorrow never dies

Until the day ends
Until the day ends
Until the day ends......

The very few people who have read MY BLOG have questioned me as to why would I include a song sung by someone else in a blog that exclusively has my eccentricities. Three reasons:
a. The words are very Mills and Boonish. I am a looser and I have had my share of the crap they dole out.
b. I sing this song in a voice that aspires to be like Sheryl Crow's (but turns out completely different) whenever I have a cough.
c. It reminds me of the time when we were in Ooty or Gangtok or some such cool place, in an old and royal mansion converted to a guest house, in whose portico I used to sit with my walkman and NOW4's cassette (yeah they didnt have cds that time!) look out at greenery, clouds, vaporised breath and mouth the words of this song. Dreaming blissful dreams.
There you go. Happy?

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Blonde about the future.....

I wish there could be tangibility or quantity associated with the abstract. If there were a definition point of absolute degeneration, I would have now assumed its shape. Nothing interests me. Nothing. At work I am just vegetating and want to do nothing more. (Just make a note of the number of times I am using the letter “n”). Never taking any initiative, not even taxing my brain a wee bit, never voicing any opinion, never contributing anything save for justifying the presence of the chair on which I sit and the keyboard on which I bang. So comfortable have I become with the mundane, that I have begun to consider it my oxymoronic haven. 10 hours of every day of my life are spent existing between breakfast, lunch and coffee breaks. Another four hours are spent in anticipation of or getting ready for or contemplating about these ten hours.

“What do I want from life????”. I would ambitiously want to assume that this thought tortures billions with every sunrise and sunset. In the comfort of the fact that I am just a small insignificant part of this mass paranoia, it still sometimes pinches that I don’t have a goal, I have not given a thought to the future, five years down the lane, I wouldn’t even know whether I am alive, paralyzed, brain dead or deceased: leave alone seeing myself establishing a strong forte in my current occupational field.

I see others around me studying for, aiming for, wanting something. I see a hazy outline of a man, a dog, a home and books. However, I do not have a freakin clue as to how in the freakin world am I supposed to freakin make them real.
Do I want to study? Yes. Study Poetry, Virginia Woolf and her idiosyncratic fantasies about a world made real by her vivid imagination, study history, a dissertation on the break out in Sarajevo 94 years ago, go traveling, thirsting for people, cultures and beauty, Vineyards in Boudreaux or Baramati . I yearn so much for these that the thought of not having them kills me and yet again the thought of actually exerting myself to have that, vexes me. Is it a mirage that I am chasing? Wanting only that which I cant have or to be more appropriate, dont have?

You will always want what you don’t have. When you do have what you did want, the possession becomes alien and wretched, as now there is really no want for it. So you start wanting something else again. Right now the want of not wanting to be here at this workstation, among these people is so acute that it is agonizing to even consider anything else except for running away.

Metamorphosis….. into….into… air, touching omnipresence and yet never associating.

Monday, November 3, 2008


Our car has been asking for voluntary retirement since two years but my Father is adamant on sticking on to Her. Now She has started showing obvious signs of reluctance to work. Yesterday we were going to the temple. About four kilometers from home She just stopped. She sometimes stops at the traffic signal, sometimes on the highway and shows us her level of obstinacy and her prowess in embarrassing us.

This is what happened yesterday. But no sooner we got out to push her to a spot that’s away from the traffic than four or five auto rickshaw wallahs came to the rescue. There is something that connects all men- irrespective of birth, origin, occupation, standing, class or psyche in the same way it connects women. Why do I say this?
Consider this- a broken down car, five men trying to start her up. The way they were examining her, opening up her bonnet, observing, deducing, concluding, rejecting various hypothesis to come up with other ones, you’d think that they were lab partners who’d known each other since ages!!

A broken down car attracts men that are complete strangers in the same way as a haggle drama between the grocer and a woman attracts other female counterparts. A woman always tells the distance between places in terms of time and men in terms of kilometers. Have you noticed? Moving forward, following is the brief rendition of the mini saga that took place yesterday when Her Highness decided to not budge from her place.

5:30 pm: Car Breaks Down.

5:32 pm: A man with a T Shirt that says, “Math Illiteracy affects 7 out of every 5 people”; one with a hornets nest on his head and a youth with ball defining jeans come to the site of the calamity. They are auto rickshaw drivers. Yeah, Ive mentioned it before.

5:45 pm. The car has been pushed and pulled and pushed and pulled again till she is resting at a spot the four men are comfortable with. Mother tensed about the fact that we shall miss the Mandir Aarti and I, bored enough to eat hair, look on.

5:50 pm: Math illiterate comes with a very small bottle cap and fits it on a valve. (I am deeply sorry. I understand, its blasphemous to allude to a car’s contours in such a manner. However, I beseech you to cut me some slack over here. They didn’t teach us car parts in school!!). Mr. Tight jeans nods encouragingly to Dad. He revs her up. She starts hiccoughing. The noise rises from deep within her ahhhemm bowels is it? somewhere along its way up, it looses momentum and when it escapes out, transforms itself into an amalgam of a hiccough ending in a sigh that had initially aspired to be a guffaw. Then she goes…… phatt
Trial 1: Failed.
Trial 2 Failed
Trial 3: In progress when I suggest that we get a mechanic from the nearby locality. ‘We’ve got it under control!” comes the brusque and a trifle overconfident reply.

5:55 pm: Math illiterate and his buddies are joined by two more of their comrades. Two of the recent joiners have nothing remarkable about their looks or demeanor to warrant a name for them. Lets just stick to Guy 1 and Guy 2. Guy 2 comes with a full 1.5 litre bottle and pours it down the place where you are supposed to pour down water in a car.
Trial 4: Failed
Trail 5: Failed.

6:10 pm: The Aarti has surely begun, Mom says. I begin staring at the traffic on the road and start giving mental ticks every time a Santro passes by. But Lo! Behold! Something has happened for the Car has started. A sense of quite jubilation rests on the faces of the six men present. With "Hum Ho gaye kamayab" grins resting on their faces, they start to bid adieu.
We quickly get in. Go on for twenty yards when She stops again. Dad can barely hold back a curse. “Hello! Hello!” he shouts to beckon the army of five back again.

6:15 pm: A discussion ensues forth. I can swear on everything near, dear and precious in life that I heard something about air and petrol together and petrol not running because of air present and a particular petrol pump injecting air along with petrol. Between the gibberish I could make out, “4 pixels, carburetor, tow it, Tatas, Maruti Suzuki Swift etc.

Meanwhile, Dad calls up his mechanic.
Finally! I close my eyes in happiness. But the joy is short lived for my father does nothing save from showering an avalanche of curses (with emphatically sympathetic looks from the army) at the man before hanging up the phone with a “Ill do it myself” threat.
We are doomed.
I know so.

Seriously I can never understand why is there such a “I’ll do it myself! I don’t want help!” obsessive quality in men.
Have you got lost on the way to a party and got irritated by the fact that the man at the drivers/riders seat wont ask for directions saying, "We’ll figure it out. I know the way….its just around the corner.... Come on! Be adventurous!"
Have you lost precious time, when you asked your Boyfriend as to why the internet isnt getting connected and He begins to set things in motion to set things right and after an hour cannot, oh sorry, does not set them right and gets irritated and mumbles something about changing the PC while you are itching to call the service representatives??
Have you the seen the look of utter unrestrained bliss when you gift a guy a tool kit?

Note: If you are female, dont drive and cannot identify a fuel pump or a carburetor in a cars body, it is best you keep as silent as possible, rather make yourself inconspicuous and cultivate patience.

Tip: To make the most of such a situation:-
Ask intelligent questions in the most guile manner possible. Displaying ignorance is a must. Men love to explain. The feeling of, ‘Oh Dumb Female! Come hither! Let me shower the power of knowledge on your light and ignorant brain!’ assuages their egos I suppose.
Start off with “What’s wrong?” and punctuate periodically with “Oh!Really!”, I am sorry I didn’t understand.” Or “Oh! No! Now what do we do? Time will pass off pleasantly.
Meddlesome, argumentative, task taking questions shall be snubbed or shrugged off.
Observe Tact.

6:45 pm : Beginning to get dark….
Trial *** Failed.
I am so bored and frustrated, I could listen and appreciate lectures on Pantheism or count my hair follicles.

6:55 pm: The car has started. Math illiterate goes on a test run.

7:05 pm. No sign of Math illiterate.
“We are robbed! We are doomed!!”, a voice inside me cries.
Dad and Tight Jeans leave to find Mathy.

7:10 pm Hornets nest and Guy 1 leave to find Dad and Tight Jeans. Guy 2 smiles awkwardly. Mom and I are left standing with a faint piss smell surrounding us.

Uncertain upto absurdity, we call Dad. He asks us to cross the road. In my life of twenty something years, this is the first time I am witness to such a phenomenon. Dad is at the steering, Mathy is pushing and running along side. We get in and Mathy and Hornets Nest start pushing the car harder.
Tight Jeans and Guy 1 sit in the auto and start it. Tight jeans places his left foot on the car. The car is moving. She is going forth steadily. Tight Jeans is driving our car to motion??? Incredulous!
With the help of his naked brown foot?? Unbelievable.

I begin to chant, “Jai Gurudev!”.
In a surreal span of 25 minutes we reach the temple, attend the aarti, take the prasad, give it to the army of 5 minus 1 and are heading back home.

Through hand gestures, Dad and Tight Jeans communicate. Between signal stoppages, Guy 1 runs to the car and back carrying vital pieces of information regarding right maneuvering, right direction and right force.
Between nerve racking seconds, Tight Jeans sometimes lets go of the car and motor cyclists, scooters and cyclists escape from the gap.
I am still chanting, “Hare Ram Hare Ram, Ram Ram Hare Hare, Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare, Hare.”

Tight Jeans and Guy 1 are discussing Priyanka Chopra and Vidya Balan. Thirty something yards away form home, Her Highness hiccoughs again and lo presto! Starts up and shimmies into the driveway. The three men get down and shake hands. Happy, tired, bemused, amused.

Geez! No wonder I think our Cars a female. So much natak and nautanki is truly befitting the fairer sex.

The Moral:
Goodness still exists?
Men will be men?
Start saving for your next car?
Your car likes getting pampered?
Gibberish comes out of a brain that has been drugged with sleep while at work?
Who the hell cares or knows…. I’m bored remember?

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Can the role ever be different from the person??

The name on the notepad says Kritika Chandrasekar. Just that. That is enough to lay my claim over it. How did the transition happen? From Kritika Chandrasekar
Roll no --
Class --
Subject- --------
to just Kritika Chandrasekar?
When did my name and my signature become so important? I don’t know whether I am ready to be just Kritika Chandrasekar. It is a scary thought if you seriously look at it. All our lives we just go on adding extensions to our names. Roll nos, classes and subjects taken carry you through school and college. Somewhere along this lane and a little further seeing Mr. "So and So", being seen at "So and So" and inculcating a lifestyle that fits with being seen with Mr. "So and So" at "So and So" gets added to your name or rather who you are.
Further ahead it’s still not just, Kritika Chandrasekar. It is K.C- Manager, Financial analyst, Sales executive, management trainee…… the list is exhaustive but my slightly sedated imagination is failing to conjure up the numerous possibilities.
Can the role ever be different from the person? Even in complete vacuum you are still somebody but not sure whether that somebody is you. Can you even be sure of you?? Scary thought, isn’t it? The fact that you yourself don’t know who you are. The fact that you yourself cant read your mind. The fact that your recations, affectations, trials, tribulations, loves, hates, ambitions, passions, desires, wants, needs, hell- every freaking thought in your mind is effected through something or someone. In complete vaccumm what would the desires be, who or what would you be? Stripped of all extensions, roles, a social embargo how will you be with yourself??

The fact that that throughout your life you just acquaint yourself with your roles rather than yourself. The fact that you don’t display mania, the fact that you mock absurdity and abnormality, the millisecond that stops you from hugging abandon and takes you back to modesty…. Is it You thats doing it or the numerous voices inside you…. Of a wife, of a mother, of a daughter, of a friend, of an employee that acquaint you with ridicule and the blasphemous. How will it be to just be Kritika Chandrasekar? Not mother, not daughter, not friend, not wife, not manager, not student, not female…..
Kritika is not really an analyst. Kritika is not really a lunatic. Kritika is not really someone. Well if she is not someone, is she something then? Kritika is body. Kamla is body. Jackie is body. The desk is body. Ergo, Kritika= desk=dog=man=woman.
Isn’t it?
Bah! It isn’t.
Why the name Kritika then. Why not sink in nameless, faceless, identity less into this depthless pit of a gazillion bodies? My name is it the source of ego? Of demarcation and distinction and thereby privilege? Or is it a source of my identity.