Monday, August 31, 2009

Rangoon and Telephoon

(Day 81 of 112)

I now empathise with women belonging to the age before cell phones. And I now understand why a single phone call from Rangoon was cause enough for the chica in question to break into song and dance.

All day today the Fellow’s cell phone was unreachable. And while I’m not the possessive, clingy and i-want-a-minute-by-minute-account-of-what-you’re-upto kind of wife, it still frustrated me that I couldn’t get through. This frustration was eventually replaced with worry and concern and pacing around the room kind of girly behaviour (marriage has ruined me I tell you). And witnesses to all these emotions (which I tried very hard, yet unsuccessfully, to keep hidden under random chatter and loud TV volumes) were the in-laws. Interestingly the FIL shared the worry and the MIL was simply amused (Note: I seem to amuse them a lot. Hmm).

About 9 pm the Fellow called. Apparently his phone gave up on him and refused to restart. He also forgot my new number so couldn’t call (typical). He was also stuck working all day and didn’t have time to breath. Hmmm. But I’m a trusting wife and thus I believed him – 15 minutes later.

Why? Simple. You see, from the second I heard his voice I went from being the worried and fretful spouse and jumped directly to my angry and an oh-if-i-could-just-get-my-hands-around-your-neck-mode, the kind the Fellow knows to avoid for his own safety.

But I couldn’t help thinking that if this was the black and white era, the Fellow’s voice would have brought out the singer and me and I would have rushed to the closest tree branch and belted out (in my most romantic and sappy voice) “Mere Piya Gaye Rangoon, Kiya Hai Vahan Se Telephoon…

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Of Dogs and Monkeys

(Day 80 of 112)

For the first time today, I actually ran away from a dog. On the whole I’m a dog-liker (lover would be too strong a word since I refuse to have them jump on my bed or lick my face). But yesterday, I found a dog I can be afraid of. It’s not surprising since the fat, over-fed and frankly, super stinky canine snapped at me a couple of weeks back. It wouldn’t have been so bad if I had been annoying/torturing the dog. But no. Apparently the dog was feeling antsy. Hmph.

And today he did it again. In fact, not content at barking threateningly at me, he followed me while I ran and took refuge in the car. And whatever anyone (Read: the Fellow) might say, he was definitely not looking to play with me. I can recognise a friendly bark from a mean one. So there I was, sitting in the car, waiting for the crazy canine to be escorted indoors. Once the coast was clear, I stepped out happily, only to come face to face with a massive monkey perched happily on the wall and staring at me with slightly maniacal eyes and a weird face twitch.

Needless to say, I clutched my poor heart (which was already overworked) and circumvented my way into safety and post-traumatic stress.

[Note added later: As was pointed out to me (hmph), this was the second time i ran away from a dog. Here is an account of the first.]

Saturday, August 29, 2009

I Have a Problem

(Day 79 of 112)

You know how people are always asking you “What’s your problem?”

Well, I’m one of those people who can answer the question. I know what my problem is.

It’s very simple actually. My problem is that I don’t know when to stop. Be it talking, eating, sleeping, laughing, reading, watching How I Met Your Mother or more recently, drawing, once I start, it’s like I’m in some kind of trance and I go on and on and on. And then after several days of excessive (and obsessive) behaviour, my body gives up. So the back starts hurting, eyes get totally strained, throat starts getting itchy, fat deposits increase (damn) and…well you get the picture right?

Today my grievance is the result of my excessive drawing. I’ve been at it non-stop for about 5 days* now and my hand has started registering complaints. And so there is a constant dull ache with some very annoying cramping. And while I know I should stop and give my poor over-worked hand a much deserved break, that problem I mentioned earlier makes it almost impossible for me to stop.

So here I am, with a half-finished drawing and a much aching hand. Oh the conflict.

PS: Please to note that I have typed this out with that very hand. Such is my dedication to this blog! ;)

* - I did stop at something – I put up only 2 of my doodles here. Yay for me.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Of Husbands and Travel Plans

(Day 78 of 112)

I learnt an important lesson today. Never ever, ever, discuss travel plans with the Fellow, especially if he’s not at hand to book tickets, carry my luggage, buy me junk food in the train or be there to wake me up at the ungodly hour at which the station arrives.

And how did I learn this lesson? The hard way of course – by doing exactly what I shouldn’t have. I discussed my travel plans with the Fellow. And oh how I wish I hadn’t done it now. My unthinking and well intentioned act of wanting to keep the Fellow involved and informed blew up in my face. Big time.

Not only did he veto everything I said, he insisted that he talk to his mum and then told her that everything she was saying was also now vetoed. He also extended his jurisdiction to his dad, whom he hadn’t even spoken to yet. Then he got back on the phone with me and told me my new travel plan. And when I refused (being the independent and strong woman that I am) the Fellow decided that the only way to get me to change my mind was to sulk like a three yr old. Now while this was very cute (and so misguided really) it didn’t work (duh). And so the Fellow had to resume talking.

So there we were. Standing on that proverbial square one, with the MIL telling me to ignore what the Fellow was telling me, and the Fellow telling me to ignore Ma. It was hilarious for a bit because there wasn’t anything the Fellow could really do, but he was trying so hard. I could almost hear him thinking what a stubborn mule his wife is!

And then it was frustrating because I hate travelling alone and having no one to talk to. I hate having to eat alone in the train with only a book for company because random strangers look at me like I’m the crazy lady from the land that reads. I hate having to worry about waking up in time. I hate having to manage my own bags because I know they’re going to be heavy.

But most of all I hate having to make all these stupid plans. Everyone around me has a different opinion on what I should do, how I should do it and when I should do it. It’s driving me crazy. Not only do I have to be all responsible and grown up (damn), all this thinking and planning is just too much for my holidaying and relaxed, almost semi-comatose brain.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Confession Time

(Day 77 of 112)

I have a confession to make. As stupid and moronic as I think the Gujarat government has been in banning Jaswant Singh’s book, right now I can’t help but wish the Himachal government had also banned it. At least that way I wouldn’t have been able to buy it and my brain wouldn’t have been put through the entire trauma.

And trauma it is. I’ve read only the introduction and a couple of chapters but already I want to use this 669 page book as a weapon, preferably on Jaswant Singh’s head. I mean, it’s such a cumbersome and heavy read. The sentences are super-complex and it seems like Singh has only recently discovered the semi-colon. There is no other explanation for the liberal use of the annoying punctuation mark. In a first, I’m finding myself reading each sentence several times over just to get some connection between the different parts. And while a lot of ideas are definitely interesting and insightful, they’re lost in punctuation, making it a tad bit difficult to appreciate wholeheartedly.

Of course I believe that the editor has to take some of the blame here. I mean so it’s a book on a figure prominent in the history of India and Pakistan. But why the book has to read like a history tome is beyond me. So far the book is as dry, drab and depressing as most history texts, the kinds that make students hate this otherwise fascinating subject.

And so I have a confession to make. I don’t want to read further. I know I should. Maybe it gets better. Maybe the beginning is like an acid test to see if you’re really worthy of reading the book. Maybe I’ll have a different opinion once I struggle through to the end. But right now, I don’t want to read further.

PS: Knowing myself, I probably will continue reading. And I will continue handing out opinionated gyan whenever I can. But at least it will be informed opinionated gyan right?

Apples and a Butterfly

(Day 77 of 112)
I'm making the most of my holiday and all the free time i have. The MIL bought me drawing paper and pens so that i could doodle the right way and now i feel all important and semi-professional! Of course it is also possible that Ma bought the supplies to simply stop me using up all the notepads and ball pens in the house! Whatever the cause, here is the first of many (now that i have fancy paper i have to use it na?)

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

2 Naps, a Movie and a Book

(Day 76 of 112)

The title of this post basically summarises my day today. It’s some vacation I’m having here I tell you. I mean one would imagine that since I’m at the in-laws’ home, I’d be playing the role of the dutiful daughter-in-law and dazzling the new family with my brilliant cooking skills and social graces.

Alas. It’s not so. Not that I suck at cooking or in company. It’s just that the MIL enjoys being in the kitchen more than I do (and she does everything so much faster). Additionally I’d rather bond with the laptop and practice my social graces on Facebook as opposed to smiling like a slightly crazed chica for half an hour while some aunty or uncle makes mundane aunty-uncle talk, all the time thinking “damn my feet are cold.”

So since I’m not cooking and/or smiling for strangers, I have to keep busy. To start with there are the naps. Since it’s pretty cool (cold for me), naps are made extra fun under a warm, heavy quilt. Bliss. Then there is the DVD collection the FIL has built up, comprising mainly of old Hindi classics. I’m actually enjoying catching up on some brilliant film making belonging to a time before glossy and shiny was in. And then there is always some book I’m reading. There is undeniably relaxing and irresistible in a good book, a table lamp and a comfy blanket.

And so between naps, a movie and a book, only the Fellow is needed to make it a perfect holiday.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Of Political Expulsions and Book

(Day 75 of 112)

So the last several days have all been about Jaswant Singh, his book and the BJP. To put it in a nutshell, Singh wrote a book, the BJP over-reacted and Singh got humiliated with a no-warning expulsion from a party he’s been with for 30 years.

However with the BJP’s knee-jerk reaction being discussed everywhere and on every news channel, two things were certain – those who hadn’t heard of the book before did so now, and those who would have not read the book or left it for a couple of years later, made a beeline for the bookstore, just to see what all the hype is about.

I mean like Singh said, it’s just a book. It’s a personal opinion expressed in a democratic country. So what’s the big deal? The answer, I know, lies in politics. But I have a minimal understanding of politics and am not ashamed to say so (yay for me). Thus all the political jargon being thrown around on national television bores me (seriously) and also serves to simply confuse me further. Thus the only way I can make sense of this whole issue (and pass judgment on all the hype) is by reading the book in question.

And this is just what I’m going to do. At present I’m simply enjoying the smell and sight of a new book and fresh, crisp, untouched and unread pages. The reading shall commence soon.

Look out for some opinionated gyan soon.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Rediscovery of Pleasure

(Day 74 of 112)

I’ve rediscovered one of those small pleasures of life. That it relates to food shouldn’t surprise anyone who knows me well. But what am I to do huh? While I may ignore several moments of undiluted happiness that I may come across from time to time, the ones that do remain with me most vividly, are those connected in some manner to food.

One of those vivid memories is of fresh, homemade, absolutely delicious white butter. I remember eating it as a child at my maternal grandmother’s home. But with time and at the insistence of cousins, she too moved to salted, commercially available yellow butter. I happened to mention this to the MIL in one of our numerous conversations and last night she made some (well actually a lot).

Today I refreshed my memory of fresh white butter eaten with piping hot parathas. Heaven, I assure you. Few things match the pleasures of watching a chunk of pure white butter melt in rivets in the middle of the paratha. And the taste. Oh yeah. Nothing beats the taste of white butter which all but melts in your mouth in an explosion of textures and flavours.

So for the next few days (or weeks) mealtimes are going to be so much fun. The butter is ready. Bring on the parathas I tell you.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

We Are Apple People…

(Day 73 of 112)

…apple broth runs through our veins.

This is what the Fellow says every time he sees this fruit (along with telling me it’s sacrilege for me to be seen buying apples and that I’ll be a joke to be told everywhere if he got the word around). I can’t buy apples without the Fellow breaking into drama and dialogue, and while I simply roll my eyes and continue with my purchase, everyone around us stops to listen and get entertained. And if you thought this nautanki stops with buying apples, think again. I have to listen to this proclamation every time I eat the fruit in question.

However I am now beginning to understand why the Fellow breaks into speech at the mere sight of an apple. You see, the Fellow’s family has apple orchards. This means that the one fruit that you will always find at home is, well, apples. And right now it happens to be harvest time for apples so everywhere there is apple talk. Conversation around me is all about how the harvest is, about picking, sorting, grading, packing, selling etc. And if the talking wasn’t enough, there is also an inflow of apples, fresh from the orchard, which the MIL insists I must eat to feed my deprived city soul.

Now I finally understand why the Fellow can’t stand eating or even buying apples. He quite literally does have apple broth running through his veins.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

One Topic and Lots of Ink

(Day 72 of 112)

All day today I was carrying the terribly heavy burden of guilt and honestly, I’m quite fed up. Who knew the conscience can be such a pain. I mean, so I have deadlines. Big deal right? It’s not like I wasn’t thinking about the work I have to do. I was. All the time (it was like being physically sprawled in front of the TV but mentally someplace else). I even opened up a new Word Doc and the page listing my assignment. I read it once and then read it again. And then in order to allow my mind time to assimilate the information, I stopped reading it and occupied myself in other things. And though some may call it procrastination I prefer to call it a method, a process that I have.

Anyhoo, after about a couple of hours of the method, I made some progress. I zeroed in on the topic of my assignment. This was half the battle won because now I knew what the content would be.My mind at ease, I decided I deserved a break. And so I picked up a pen and some paper, switched the TV channel to something brainless and got doodling.

4 hours later, the Word Doc still showed only the topic and the sheet of paper quite a lot of ink.

Now if only I could channel this productivity to where it’s really needed I could die happy. Or at least sleep guilt free. Sigh.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Of Brown Paper Bags and Kolhapuri Chappals

(Day 71 of 112)

Is there any city in this country that loves brown paper bags as much as this place? While big cities preach themselves silly with the say no to plastic cause, its only after coming here that I saw the actual practice. And so it doesn’t matter if you buy medicines, vegetables, books or even piping hot momos. You come back armed with brown paper bags, the kind that don’t tear and can be reused. So for now, I’m a brown paper bag convert. In your face plastic bags.

Now, though I was busy waxing eloquent about brown paper bags, I had time to learn an important lesson today– kolhapuri chappals are not the best thing to walk uphill (or downhill) in. In fact so unsuitable are they that I was in constant fear of doing a replay of a nursery rhyme and entertaining the countryside with my rolling act. This fear, of course, did nothing to improve the grip of my footwear on those treacherous slopes. And so while the in-laws all but jogged down to the car, I played the clich├ęd city-bred chica to perfection. Sigh.

But then I guess I prefer having a label to having a bruised bottom.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Of Soul Mates

(Day 70 of 112)

I think the mother-in-law is a soul-mate. If I was to be all filmy and dramatic I would say I love her because she is the reason the Fellow is here blah blah blah. But I’m not the drama queen kind (most of the times at least). What I am is practical and the reasons I think Ma is a kindred spirit (ala Anne of Green Gables) are just that.

To begin with, like me, she doesn’t have the concept of a power nap. Both of us agree that the best way of taking a nap is for a couple of hours (at least). Secondly given a choice she would also sleep in till late morning and doesn’t expect me to go all Indian bahu on her and get up at the crack of dawn. Yay for her. And me.

Next is the fact that the both of us talk. A lot. When we’re together we’re never out of topics to discuss. This suits her and me very well since the Fellow and the FIL are more the quiet type (and no, it was since before they got married so it’s nothing to do with us).

Also since both of us are in the field of education, we have a common enemy in ignoramuses and morons who are ruining learning for children. And believe me, there are quite a few of them out there. So this shared passion we have keeps us going for quite some time (much to the amusement and relief of the FIL who doesn’t have to listen to Ma’s school stories anymore).

Finally, and this probably is the most important reason why my soul recognised a mate, is that Ma, bless her, has a bedside drawer full of chocolate and candy. This hidden stash is for those times when you absolutely have to have something sweet. And since these times occur with alarming frequency (for both her and me), the knowledge that the drawer exists is a relief and an indisputable pleasure.

So there you have it – 4 reasons why the MIL and I always have a blast. After all how often do you find someone who appreciates the value of sleep, talk, education and chocolates as much as you do?

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Cold as a Marble Slab in Winter

(Day 69 of 112)

I could really love the cold weather you know. But I don’t. Some of it has to do with the fact that I’m a Bombay girl and we’re trained to deal with incessant rains and floods and rude people (for the most part). We don’t know what winters are except for our text books, and even then the images are of snow and snowmen.

So the fact that the Fellow is from a cold land is something I’ve always considered one of those life paradoxes which cannot be explained (unless you think the universe is trying to teach my rain drenched city soul a cold lesson). Now I’m going to spend at least a couple of months a year in the lap of the Himalayas and I’m guessing it’s going to be something to look forward to in a masochistic sort of way.

Already (and it’s only August) I’m feeling cold here. Everyone around me is celebrating the summer/monsoon and I just recovered from a super-strong, all annihilating cold. All day my father-in-law keeps opening the glass doors to allow for cross ventilation and I keep pulling them shut to avoid the cold breeze. Worse is the fact that while the mother-in-law pants about how hot it is, I’m permanently wearing layers of t-shirts, a fleece and socks, all in an attempt to keep warm.

And don’t even get me started on the condition of my extremities. My hands and feet are freezing. All. The. Time. It’s annoying actually. Even the simple movement of tying my hair is a pain because then my stupid cold fingers touch my warm neck. I mean it’s like I can’t get warm without an external source of heat, and if it wasn’t too weird (even for me) and I was averse to becoming a standing joke, I would have started up the electric heater.

Instead here I am, sitting all bundled up and cosy, with a hot water bottle at my feet, finally warm.

The Fellow would have been so much better I tell you. Sigh.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Click Happy...Oh So Happy

(Day 68 of 112)
Here are some of my favourite pics that i took the day i wrote this. Trees and fog never looked better (to me at least).
[Note: None of the pictures below have been retouched or edited.]
The photographs are all protected under Copyright law.




Monday, August 17, 2009

Amusing the In-Laws

(Day 67 of 112)

Today was a fun day, for both the in-laws and yours truly. My cold had all but gone and I was able to appreciate the cold air and the mountains better. I also realised that my cynical city soul does get excited at the sight of natural gorgeousness (and not simply worried about all the empty space going to waste). This realisation and the resultant excitement had the in-laws thoroughly amused. And I can understand why. I mean I spent a good ten minutes harping on and on about how cool the fog was and how it made me think of ghost stories. And then I spent the next ten minutes trying to get that perfect picture. Interspersed was my totally childish surprise at how green the trees were and how perfect the sunflowers. Add to this me bouncing around and running back and forth, and you can imagine how much amusement I was the source of today!

Anyhoo. Pictures follow soon and my blog will have it’s first all photo post. Yay.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

When You're Happy And You Know It...

(Day 66 of 112)

…write a blog post.

I don’t want to jinx it or anything but I’m seriously in a cheery mood today. Maybe it’s the liberal doses of cough syrup I had last night or the fact that I haven’t laughed so much in a long time as I did yesterday. Fact of the matter is that I resemble a Cheshire cat right now, big grin and all.

If this happened too often I’d suspect a manic disorder. But I guess once in a while it’s a good thing to have this feeling of unexplained happiness. It’s a gentle (if slightly obvious) reminder that all’s fine in my little world. I mean, even with missing the Fellow and all that, if I can feel this content and satisfied, something must be going right. Right?

And so all morning I’ve been wondering how best to define this mood. So far I’ve not had any success. I’ve played around with a lot of ideas and am still not sure, though the song ‘Ek ladki ko dekha to aisa laga’ comes pretty close as far as analogies go [Note: the lyrics of this song never fail to amaze me. It has to one of the best written songs as far as Bollywood goes.].

But in the spirit of being original (I hope), the closest I can come to describing what I’m feeling is the unbridled pleasure and laughter that puppies, rainbows and bubbles bring. I could expand this list endlessly (as people close to me would know), but as much as I love to go on and on about most things, there are times like this when i believe that some things are best felt rather than said.

So here’s to feeling happy and knowing it.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Umbrellas and Shoes

(Day 65 of 112)

I’m a Bombay girl. When it rains, you bring out the floaters and fold up your jeans. Never do you wear bulky shoes that are likely to get totally drenched in your first jaunt out in the rain and then not dry for the whole monsoon season. You also carry compact umbrellas that fit into your purse when closed and when open are not likely to mark a personal space of about 3 feet all around.

But in Shimla when it rains, giant umbrellas emerge. These apparently are multipurpose and people use them as walking sticks. There can be no other reason for making them so large. Unless they’re trying to encourage romance and/or economy by making umbrellas big enough to comfortably accommodate 2 large people or an entire family of tiny people.

Additionally in Shimla when it rains people walk out wearing sport shoes and the like, keeping their feet totally covered. Now since I was wearing floaters, my feet got wet. This, I now understand is the fastest way of falling ill in the cold (like I wasn’t already coughing and rasping like I was dying!).

So what was I to do? Nothing except follow the mother-in-law into a Reebok’s outlet and get fitted for some new shoes, the kind that would not let my feet get wet. That they happen to be super-comfy and very cute is not important here.

And so what with giant multicoloured, pinstriped, frilly umbrellas which could alternatively be used as weapons of self-defence and the very valid excuse to buy new shoes, my trips to the Mall are becoming more and more interesting everyday. It might prove to be just the kind of material I needed for this blog!

Of Colds and Creativity

(August 14th, Day 64 of 112)

I would have put this up last night but I was too busy sniffling, shivering, sneezing and singing.

The first three are the by-products of a full blown cold, the kind that makes me sneeze like I’m in some kind of sneeze- marathon and then makes me want to curse whoever thought of a nose to start with. It is also the kind that made my brother-in-law ask me (in the middle of a crowded Mall store and much tothe shock of several people standing nearby) whether I’d come from Pune. Evil I tell you. I was almost quarantined!

The singing was for the MIL on her birthday. Of course I sounded like an out-of-tune violin or a frog stuck in a well (whatever suits your taste). But who cares right? It’s the sentiments that count. Also I was armed with a gift so the terrible singing was well compensated.

This is what I gave the MIL for her birthday. Since I couldn’t figure out what to buy for her, I decided to fall back on some latent talent, most often suppressed under laziness and my laptop. This was the final result and happily for me, Ma loved it.

The Fellow of course takes full credit for the frame. His argument being that if he hadn’t married me, Ma would never have gotten the gift.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Prophetic Words and Pampering

(Day 63 of 112)

In an almost self-fulfilling prophecy like manner, I’ve come down with a bug today. So there is the usual body ache, runny nose, watery eyes, sore throat etc. On telling the Fellow this, he reacted like most Indians are doing right now – caught the pig flu have you? Take care, get tested blah blah blah. Thankfully the in-laws are sensible beings and have not been driven into a media generated panic about the swine-flu. Otherwise I could well have been on my way to the nearest hospital with a mask around my face, probably followed by the local media wanting to know the state of my mind and how I’m feeling.

Instead, I slept most of the day (while the father-in-law worried about how I was doing), was made a hot cup of tea by the mother-in-law when she came back from work, was not allowed to help around the kitchen so sat and chatted the whole evening, was given special medicines to help me feel better and on the whole was pampered thoroughly (Note to self: Write about the cool and caring in-laws.)

Needless to say I’m feeling better already. Now if only the Fellow were here…I could totally do with a good shoulder and neck massage right now!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

City Meets The Mall

(Day 62 of 112)

The word most commonly associated with Shimla (apart from holiday) is the Mall Road. While tourists make it a point to be found on the Mall at some time (or every day) during they stay here, I was surprised that a lot of the locals also go to the Mall every evening. As far as I understand, it’s almost a ritual.

Yesterday I was part of this ritual when I accompanied the in-laws to the Mall. The first thing that struck me was how everyone there (and there were many) was comfortable with walking. Having been witness to women and even young girls who insist their chauffer driven cars drop and pick them up right from the doorstep of whatever shop they want to go to, seeing women and men of all ages comply willingly with the no automobiles rule was…well…confusing!

I mean, I’m a city girl and can’t imagine considering a parking spot, a ten minute uphill walk away from the destination, a very good one. Maybe if I was a tourist, and there was the whole novelty factor involved, I would have enjoyed that uphill trek and even recommended it to everyone I knew in that annoyingly excited manner tourists have. But not if I have to do it everyday for several weeks! I mean by the time I got to the Mall I wanted to go back and rest with my feet in a salt water bath. Ok. That’s an example of gross exaggeration. But you get the idea right?

To add to it all, as if the cardio workout wasn’t stressful enough for my body, there was all the fresh, crisp mountain air, free of car pollutants and other poisons. My lungs almost went into shock I tell you!

And so for the next few days (at least), and at the cost of being an undutiful daughter-in-law, I’m going to work in the evenings, use the cold as an excuse (and sniffle a bit), maybe even offer to make dinner (we have a cook so it’s not like I’m being a bad bahu or anything). Because if I don’t, I know all the greenery, the unpolluted air, the people all smiling and greeting each other at every step and all the walking will traumatise my fat little city soul!

Ps: For all my body feeling like it was going to collapse, I have no stiffness and/or soreness today. I’m physically fit. Yay!

In a First...

(August 11th, Day 61 of 112)

I travelled alone by train to a different city.

I didn’t sleep at all in the train.

I visited Chandigarh.

I fell in love with a place that was not Bombay.

I bought, well was made to buy, 3 pairs of jutis, 3 sweaters, 1 saree, 1 salwar kameez, 2 tee-shirts, 1 pair of jeans and a pair of earrings – all in a day and a half.

I went for a movie with the in-laws.

I travelled to Shimla by road.

I didn’t throw up when travelling up a mountain by road.

I missed the Fellow more than ever before.

In a first…well…since the Fellow left at least…I’m running out of things to blog about. Or maybe the cold (relative to the land of camels and dal-baati) has just gotten to my brain cells. After all it has been known to happen right?

Monday, August 10, 2009

Into The Hills We Go

(Day 60 of 112)

Am clattering this out from Shimla, my home for the next month or so. Will write a detailed decription of my travels as soon as i've caught my breath (the fresh, unpolluted kind!) Cheers.

On the Move

(August 9th, Day 59 of 112)

Was travelling all day on the 8th. Jodhpur to Chandigarh. Long journey. Had a plug point in the compartment. Hogged it since nobody else wanted to use it. Well, then i didnt hog it did i? Also had friends travelling the same route. Gabbed all the way. And ate. Love train journeys. Now all we need is the Indian Railway system to go Wifi and it will be the perfect picnic ever!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Eye Witness

(Day 58 of 112)

If I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes I wouldn’t have believed it. Not in a hundred years.

Thanks to my aunt’s emotional blackmail, I found myself part of a gathering I wouldn’t have ever thought a probability. It was basically an event organised by some ladies club here and promised an evening of culture, music (by an ex-Indian Idol participant) and “enjoyment” (as the shrieking woman holding the microphone repeatedly told us).

What it actually was, was an evening of noise, shrill voiced women, ego-boosting, ass-kissing and an excuse for women to get out of their houses wearing their most loud clothes and every piece of jewellery they possessed. Honestly. I haven’t seen this much bling since…ever! Shudder. It was gold and shiny everywhere. And the hair! Here is a sample of what I had to look at while the women wearing green sarees had to parade in front of a judge in order to win a 5 kg packet of rice (or a 21pc dinner set. I’m not sure).

But what made me a little glad I was there – simply because i couldn’t believe what I was seeing – and also because it gave me blog-worthy material, was the dance floor, complete with a DJ and people dancing. That these people dancing were mainly heavy saree and jewellery clad women who belong to traditional, conservative families is not the point. What is also not important is that the song they ‘grooved’ most to, complete with expressions and movements was “Beedi jalayle”, not a song you associate with traditional Marwari women.

What was important was how much I was entertained. It was quite the spectacle actually and I think only I was fascinated by it, by the whole paradox I was seeing explode before me. It was also a totally out of body experience when I saw a lady, in her late thirties-early forties, with her head covered with her saree and wearing at least 5 kgs of gold doing the moonwalk.

Like I said, if I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes I wouldn’t have believed it. Not in a hundred years.

Friday, August 7, 2009

One and Two Hundred

(Day 57 of 112)

I just realised I hit the 200 posts mark on this blog yesterday!

There are so many numbers I’m crunching at present that this momentous event slipped through the cracks.

Yesterday was also exactly half the sentence completed. 56 of 112. Having crossed the half mark it seems to me now that the countdown will be faster and the end closer. Of course the Fellow will remark that since his ordeal will remain the same it doesn’t make a difference.

But it does. 57 down, 55 more to go.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Teenage and Conflict

(Day 56 of 112)

The place I live in at the present can best be described as a teenager – someone going through an identity crisis. Just like a teenager is somewhere in the confusing space between being a child and being an adult, so is this place somewhere between being a small town and an average sized city.

You know adolescence has hit when the physical changes become obvious. I’m not going into the details here but suffice to say a teenager begins looking different probably before he/she thinks or even does differently. In the same manner, this place is undergoing a physical change – buildings, malls, shopping complexes, multiplexes, restaurants, hotels, wider roads, highways and all that jazz. This change is definitely creating the equivalent of hormonal imbalance here and the result is that the people are left feeling conflicted.

The conflict is exactly the same as it is with teenagers. In the case of teenagers, they don’t know what is expected of them and most times end up doing the wrong thing – behave inappropriately, either too grown up or not grown up enough. They want to remain children because that’s what they know. But at the same time want to experiment with being adults because, well, they’ve always worshipped the adults around them and perhaps dreamt of doing grown up things. The same is happening here in this place. While everyone would probably be more comfortable with their small town life, they want to see how it is to be a city, all grown up. They have dreamt of doing city things and can’t resist the opportunity to experiment.

So this place where I live is in the throes of an identity crisis. They want malls and multiplexes. But they also shy away at the prices at these malls and multiplexes. They want a Pizza Hut and Dominoes here but prefer eating pizzas that come with amul cheese grated on top. They want fancy eateries with ‘english’ foods but are not comfortable eating in a kitchen that also cooks non-vegetarian food. They want a Mc Donalds but prefer the Marwari vada-pav.

They want to seem modern but can’t seem to stop staring at a girl who drives her self around, confidently independent.

They want to become an adult, a big city, but before that they have to go through that dark place called teenage.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Of Festivals, Holidays and Public Transport

(Day 55 of 112)

It was raksha bandhan today and while most of the country was off to work and functioning like it was any other Wednesday, certain parts of north India (including the city where I am right now) was celebrating it by pulling the shutters down and staying at home.

So driving through the usually crowded streets was a breeze because everyone was lazing indoors. Also since about three-fourths of the shops in the city were closed (the only open ones selling rakhis and/or mithai) there were no cars crowding the roads or ruining the traffic with all the double and triple parking.

However there was an upside to this holiday (which my cousin realised later in the day when the need arose) – public transport came at a super-high premium.

Why? Because most of the rickshaws/taxis (the preferred mode of public transport here) are run by those who would be celebrating raksha bandhan. And they were all taking a holiday to bond with their sisters (or sit in front of the tv all day long eating mithai). So the few non-raksha bandhan celebrating chaps were in high demand and even I know that when demand exceeds supply, the prices go up! Economics I tell you.

Here then is an excellent reason for inter-religious communities, peace and harmony. Everyone gets their way – a holiday and a chance to make some more money!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Of Tresses and Trust

(Day 54 of 112)

I took a big step today. I overcame my trust issues when it came to getting my hair cut. It may not sound like a big deal, especially to guys (well not all guys, but most in any case) but a haircut is quite a serious issue.

A haircut or rather the hairstylist (politically correct word for barber/hair cutter) holds in its power the ability to make or break your self image. A good haircut often leads to an ego boost and a confidence arising from the knowledge that your hair looks good. On the flip side, a bad cut will damage you to no end and be the cause of extreme self doubt and negative body image. Ok, maybe that’s a little extreme, but a bad haircut will definitely not do you any good mentally.

And so, for the last 7 odd years, I’d been getting my tresses (hah!) styled/chopped off at the same place in Bombay. I trusted the stylists there to do a good job and they always did. But now I don’t live in Bombay anymore.

So I decided it’s time to shake the balance of things (and learn to deal with change). This brings me to how I placed my trust in the hands (and scissor yielding skills) of a new hairdresser (I don’t trust her enough yet to call her a stylist). Even while she was cutting my hair my mind was busy making comparisons and I think I even winced a couple of times. I even told her about my trust issues I think. Thankfully she agreed with me instead of getting all offended (phew!). After she was done and I was free to go, I took one (final) look in the mirror and decided to make up my mind about the new haircut later.

It’s later and I still haven’t decided.

All I know is that the 2 months before I meet the Fellow will serve to grow out my hair and he won’t even know the difference!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Sigh

(Day 53 of 112)

Tired. Beat. Exhausted. Fatigued.

Sulking. Morose. Brooding.

Sleepy. Sluggish. Heavy-eyed.

In desperate need of some TLC

SOS Fellow.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Of Family Dinners and Trauma

(Day 52 of 112)

Annoying brats, an annoyed and fed-up pre-teen, unconcerned mothers, whispered gossip about family members, lots of food, the TV showing ‘Rakhi Ka Swayamvar’ (at full volume), one uncle permanently on the phone, teenage boys forced to be there, a grand-uncle lounging on the sofa making noises at the toddler, yet another grand-uncle being his usual know-it-all stupid self, and me, trying not to burst into tears out of sheer and ultimate boredom.

I don’t know how I get dragged into situations like these. And I promise myself every time, never again. Even the food wasn’t good enough to overwrite all the above. I didn’t even have my sister to make eye contact with and exchange frustrated and sometimes (very rarely) amused glances.

What makes it worse is that yesterday night too there was dinner at my aunt’s house (where I happen to be staying for a few days). The guest list was the same and by the time dinner was served, I had a splitting headache due to the sheer noise level. I don’t understand what it is with women getting together and then yelling and laughing (cackling more like) at the top of their already loud voices. And then the children want to compete with them and cry at their loudest. Then there is always that one smart alec who decides to watch TV and then turns the volume up to full. And I’m not even going to start on people talking across rooms/floors.

So right now I don’t know what’s worse – the fact that I had to suffer through two dinners with the same (and some very annoying) people and more or less same noise/stupidity levels, or the fact that the food was terrible.

The trauma never ends I tell you.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Ding Dong the Mouse is Gone

(Day 51 of 112)

It’s time to celebrate. The little rodent infestation that I had (as described here) has been dealt with effectively. Before leaving for Bombay I left an entire packet of Mortein Rat Poison out in the open as bait. Some might think a little excessive for one small dormouse. But I disagree. Especially since it had been living under my bed, amidst my shoes for a very long time (yes, I had my shoes thoroughly cleaned before even thinking about them, let alone wear them).

Sometime during my vacation, I realised that leaving poison out for the mouse will mean having to deal with the corpse when I get back home. It was also brought to my notice that the sight might not be the worse thing assaulting my senses. Thus it wasn’t with a very brave heart that I ventured forth into my closed for a month and a half house. I don’t think I have ever been through my house so slowly and with eyes half shut. I was opening doors standing as far away as possible, and sneaking around, afraid I’d come across a semi-decomposed mouse body. Oddly enough, there was none.

This left me perplexed. I hadn’t given the wily minx enough credit

Today I got the maid to clean the house (by opening the main door and telling her to clean it, taking her own time, and then calling for me at the neighbours house where I was catching up with a friend). When the maid was done, I took a quick look around and then suddenly thought to ask her whether a mouse had been found.

“Yes madam” was the delightful and happy reply. “But it was all messed up and half dry” she continued.

Who cares? The mouse is gone, and I haven’t been traumatised by it’s sight (or smell). *Jigging away* Here's to Rat Poison and efficient maids!