Wednesday, February 27, 2008


I have been tagged by ditty – so here goes for whatever its worth.

First, the rules:
- Post the rules on your blog.
- Share six non-important things/habits/quirks about yourself.
- Tag six random people at the end of your post by linking to their blogs.
- Let each random person know they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their website

6 random facts about me (which I probably shouldn't share in public forums.Sigh).

1. I have obsessive compulsive disorder about hygiene – for instance, I cannot take the first cup or the last cup in a dispensing machine (plate/any stack actually) because – well it might be er...dirty- will take the one in the middle. I cannot eat roadside food – the thought of it with all the flies et al makes me want to throw up. People in my old office would merrily wipe their hands on the toilet roll paper after washing hands before lunch – me? Not a chance! When I am travelling I have been known to do exceedingly bizarre stuff in public washrooms which involves strange acrobatics (so that I don’t have to touch handles and doors) which are certifiable so I shall maintain a discreet silence about them!

2. I’m a sleep contortionist. When I go to sleep I don’t toss and turn. I perform anti-gravitational stunts. I can sleep sitting up, with my feet crossed in weird ways and wrap myself up into a small ball and peacefully sleep through it. I have managed to curl myself in yogic poses (which I can’t do as easily when I am awake strangely enough). When I was younger, my family used to always say that I would most certainly psyche out the future husband. Which I did very soon after the shaadi. It was a couple of days after we came back from trip; I was suffering from a combination of a bad throat infection and fever + homesickness + wedding anticlimax + general blues. Somewhere during the night, I must have curled up into a ball at the foot of the bed and taken a blanket over me. Hero woke up, instead of a peacefully reposed wife; saw emptiness and a heap of discarded blankets at the foot of the bed. Waited for a while. No sign of me. Started getting worried. Got up. Went out. Checked the house. Checked the bathrooms. One absconding wife. Checked the main doors all the time wondering whether ill wife in delirium had decided to jaunt off to Bombay in the middle of the night. Door was locked. Full panic was happening by this time – but before he could go out to investigate whether I had jumped out from the balcony, happened to come back to the room. And there I was – sitting with the blankets over my head sleepily blinking at him, vaguely wondering why he looked so harrowed.

3. I have a fetish for stationary – any kind, any type.Have written a long post in my old blog which i cant link for some reason.

4. I have Technicolor dreams on absolutely insane stuff – can be complete sequels to movies (with commercial breaks and dance sequences), mystery books (whose endings leave me surprised), alien invasions, jaane-bhi-do-yaaro-isque chasing corpses around town, Bengali speaking dolphins, royal intrigues in the UK (with theme song from Neil and Nikki or other etcetera movies), complicated mathematical formulae, or even exotic recipes of stuff (which unfortunately I forget after I wake up). I also get bizarre ESP dreams which I am unable to explain scientifically – about stuff which exists and I have absolutely no previous knowledge of.

5. I used to have imaginary friends. Yeah, yeah - you can say, lots of people do. But I had imaginary alter-ego-life which I could switch to, every time real life got too boring for a dozen years off. Imaginary life also had its share of problems and issues. I had this parallel universe till I was almost twenty. (ahem)

6. I was chronically shy as a kid – I would walk with a frown on my face to discourage anyone from talking to me. I had to write down stuff and practise saying it before I could call up my uhm..friends from school. Talking to strangers was utter, absolute purgatory. Then I ended up in qualitative market research moderating consumer groups.

Okay now who next? The olde faithful – Kraz, Austro, SWB, Galadriel– new people hmm...Chandni, F&D (new blog in store)

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Chasing dreams or Running from Reality?

There is this girl I know. Your average mid-twenties-Jane from India. She finished her education here, wanted to go to the US to do her masters. Her father, reasonably well off, took a ten odd lakhs loan here in India, and did his bit in order to allow his daughter to chase her American dream, while quietly pegging away at the loan here and putting two more kids through college and the US ( in all likelihood). Recently, the daughter got a job in the US – and one of the first things that she did was to take a whopping bank loan to purchase a brand new BMW. Daddy’s loan – well, was Daddy’s problem.

There is another person I know of, in her thirties, who has gone to the US also to chase another dream of getting a doctorate. This girl also needs the additional help from her family – who have a number of other financial obligations (home loans, ailing parents and children) so they need to juggle,occasionally scrimp and scrounge, so that this girl can complete her Phd.

A third girl eloped and got married to a person who – well didn’t really have a very stable job. Promptly had a baby. And passed the burden of cost of managing her house and the baby onto her sister – who worked crazy hours, stinted on stuff she wanted to do, took loans, in order to give the child a decent enough life.

There are two ways of looking at this (especially the first two instances) – the fact that someone has a DREAM (in capital letters) and will go all out to achieve it – whether it’s the doctorate of the Beamer or the marriage. Single minded focus – the hallmark of greatness they say. That inspite of odds, someone goes ahead and does whatever they have to.

Or we could say its complete self absorption. The fact that you are ruthlessly willing to mortgage someone else’s future in order to well, chase your dream.

All of us are probably born in the former stage - self absorbed – any infant or child, or for that matter a teen is so utterly wrapped in his or her own life, that the interests, ambitions, objectives of someone around one, are irrelevant.

But I think for most, there is a point of inflexion in the life when suddenly one start setting limits to what one can dream depending on the reality one lives in. A time where one realizes that one needs to compromise and barter with oneself, perhaps for the happiness of someone else. A difficult time, a time of renouncing hopes and desires. What can be more painful than realizing that one has to give up on a dream, sometimes even giving up dreaming altogether? It’s imposing a mental shackle on oneself, giving up the freedom to do whatever one wants to do, and enforcing this voluntarily.

But it can also be an uplifting time. A time of emotionally attaining adulthood- that is quite independent of physiological age. And also wisdom– the wisdom to know when it is okay to chase the elusive and fleeting dream, and when you need to stand up bravely to face often daunting, reality.

Some however, don’t seem to ever reach this stage. Like the spoilt child, they think that life ‘owes them’, and like the spoilt child, if life doesn’t give it to them easily, they will grab it from the adjacent child in the playground

One could argue that the people who are taken advantage of should draw the line – the other child fight back so as to say, say this much and no more. But sometimes that is not a feasible alternative – I cannot imagine an Indian father telling his much loved daughter that he will leave her to fight away the loan sharks. Or contemplate a girl living with the guilt of not providing for a baby nephew (who ideally shouldn’t have been her responsibility in the first place).

I so admire these people who are uncomplainingly and smilingly taking on the burdens and responsibilities. I also admire the other affluent people I know who could have very easily got their family to fund their ambitions – but instead, they chose to work nights and work hard to put themselves through post graduation, housing loans and life in general.

I believe that is one of the features of being an Indian – the fact that lots of things are done as a labour of love and when does it become just labour?

I suppose dreams are essential, but perhaps self respect and the dignity of responsibility is more so.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

The adventures of Mutt and Moron

A year later

Our downstairs canine friends,Mutt and Moron have managed to definitely by sheer pig (dog?) headedness force their way into our life's and hearts. Not that it was too much of an effort for them anyways. It needs a much stronger will-power than I possess, to ignore a couple of pooches who go into transports of delight at the sight of one. S, if anything, is soppier than I am.

Now I know them a little better- Mutt and Moron I call them. The old chap sadly and quietly died before I could cultivate his acquaintance.

Moron is the cream patch fellow (who I discovered very recently, is not a fellow but a felli. No reason why he…I mean, she shouldn't be a felli – but sort of takes a bit of getting used to). Moron is certainly the younger of the two and has absolutely no wiles or guiles whatsoever. What he...damn it, she feels is open for the world to see. The tail is almost always on wag-overdrive and she has the most transparent face ever seen on a canine. Personally, I have a softer spot for Moron.

Mutt (the black chap) on the other hand, is much more dignified. While he will invariably come and chaperone us (S was soon allowed to join the hallowed ranks of people-they-deem-worthy-of-chaperonage), he does it, quite in the fashion of the grand seignior – implying by his royal hauteur, that he is completely indifferent to our attention and affection.

(As an aside, I find it particularly amusing when both of them go and meticulously inspect my boss/his car every time he picks me up from home en route to Mumbai. He (the boss) will have this long suffering look of 'do we HAVE to do this every time' which cracks me up)

Even when we give him food, Mutt will lazily get up, investigate it, and eat it in a completely disinterested manner; As if, he is eating out of a polite consideration for these enthusiastic, but clueless humans. That might actually be the case though –some people from the other building give them meat and bones - all we usually manage are biscuits /crackers/bread/milk. Hmmm.

Even his tail wag seems to be an act of magnanimous condescension – very languidly waved for our benefit.

However, we have realized that he is quite a glutton for attention as is Moron. We discovered this quite by chance a few week ago. Once when Moron was looking particularly morose, (she was inside the building compound while Mutt was on the other side of the wall). S squatted down and started petting Moron's head, before we knew what was happening Mutt had whizzed in, demanding his turn. We are yet to figure out HOW Mutt managed to see through a concrete six foot wall.

That brings me to an interesting sidebar, Moron (the femme-dog) always sleeps within the building compound, whereas Mutt (the male-dog) is outside the compound wall – is there something so primeval about the gender that females are INSIDE and men are OUTSIDE in ALL species? Point to ponder.

And well, life goes on. All I know is however lousy the day is, it can never be a complete disaster, as long as there are a few hyper-exuberant strays waiting for you, at the end of it

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Murky Depths

I read this absolutely appalling article in Indian Express a few days ago - which exposed an even darker side to the dark underbelly of Pune city. A story about how preteen girls sold to the flesh trade were given growth hormones so that they appeared older (just like fruits are given growth inducers to make them look riper and bigger).

The mixture of estrogens and testosterone is dangerous, (and often lethal) is forcibly given to these girls (considerately called ‘vitamins’ if you please) supposedly for the better health of the girls – but probably for the continued health of the pimps. ‘Fresh girls’ who actually look much older, have a dual advantage – on one hand, they are more ‘marketable’ and probably fetch a better price ; and on the other hand, they are also less likely to attract the attention of cops or social service workers.

To be honest, the only times I have actually spent anytime thinking about brothels or prostitutes is probably after watching movies like Chandni Bar. Most of the times, it’s just easier to shove unwelcome thoughts like that to the back of one’s mind rationalizing it with a ‘what can one do anyways?’

This somehow, refuses to go to the back of my mind. Growth hormone as a concept – (even for fruits) is disturbing, but when it comes to humans, it’s utterly absolutely, unforgivably barbaric.

It’s the ultimate form of objectification and degradation of a human being – that there is NO concern of the person’s health or long term impact of these potions on them as long as it serves the immediate purpose and brings in revenues.

Somewhere the mind rebels at the emotional repercussions of it as well, a young girl trapped in the body of a much older person. I know prostitution strips away all the emotional and mental innocence but even then.

I am aware that I am probably sounding extremely na├»ve in ranting like this, about something which I know less than nothing about. Pimps and brothels are hardly known for their humaneness so one more or less indignity shouldn’t really matter all that much. But still!

If brothels must exist, and I assume that its one of those necessary evils of a society, can there be at least no rules and laws which govern it and make it safer for the inhabitants?
ID cards for adult prostitutes?
Severe punishment for traffickers in underage girls?
Counselling ? (Who AM I kidding?)
Anything to humanize possibly the most inhuman-yet-most-human profession of all?

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

An Elegy to a Cell phone

Partners, we walked together
Bonded by a perma-stick spray
Never separated, any waking moment
Until January's penultimate day

The autowala's won a mobile
When we were prematurely wrenched apart
And you gained a new owner
Leaving behind a big hole in my heart

You were not just an ordinary cell,
But a witness to my life
The repository of all memories
The happiness, the hope, the strife

My umbilical cord to civilization
My diary, my radio, my phone
My backup for all emergencies,
How could you leave me so alone?

The private, silly jokes of friends
Or the odd sentimental line
Messages mushily saved away
Of special moments in time

Irreplaceable incidents galore
The sounds of the Roger Waters Jam
All those sparkling impromptu pictures
Thanks to the 2 mega pixel cam

The husband's left-footed attempts to jig
The video surreptitiously caught
Provided me much rollicking amusement
And blackmail fodder when we fought

Now my bereft ears strive and strain
To hear your distinctive chime
Occasionally they even catch phantom rings
Inevitable disappointment, time after time

I suffer from withdrawal symptoms
My fingers, they tic and spasm
They key in text in the blank air,
For no other phone, can fill the chasm

I kick myself again and again
For walking away without a backward glance
And negotiate the phone-less world alone
Through a hazy, pain filled trance

My umbilical cord to civilization
My friend, my partner, my phone
My reservoir for all reminiscences
How could you leave me so alone?

P.S. I am serenading dogs and writing bad odes to cell-phones. I think I need a holiday (and some sleep and money come to think of it)