Tuesday, February 24, 2009

No return to innocence

The other day I was coming back home at about seven in the evening when I saw this little girl of about seven or eight talking to one of the security guards in the garden downstairs. My instinctive feeling was that both of them were standing TOO close to each other – the girl very innocently, the man I am not so sure. My initial reaction was validated as soon as the security guard saw me – he unconsciously took a couple of steps backwards. I glared at him VERY pointedly and VERY balefully and went on ahead to my building after ensuring there were enough people in and around that area.

This whole incident left me with this vague sense of unease. No. I don’t have a nasty, suspicious mind. I am usually quite clueless about most things. But what I do have, is a fairly strong gut instinct – which I think is genetically hardwired into most females, that prickly sense of disquiet about when things are not-ok. And I have learnt to trust this sixth sense.

I kept on wondering in retrospect whether I should have dragged the girl away (I don’t know the child at all). Unfortunately, this thought didn’t strike me till much later. Or maybe I could have just engaged her in some conversation as S suggested when I told him about this episode.

I have no idea whether the tableau I saw was completely harmless or not. I hope to GOD that it was that. But what I do remember is having a very strong wish that parents wouldn’t dress girls of that age, (when there is a hint of burgeoning curves) with completely inappropriate halter tops and skin- clinging pants.

No. Before I get pelted with abuse, no, I don’t believe that girls who get molested are ones who call it upon themselves by dressing or behaving in a particular manner. God knows I’m not against the any kind of clothes (or lack of them) in adults or teens. They can choose to wear or not wear any clothes they bloody well please. But when it comes to children that young – seven, eight or nine - far too innocent to understand any improper advances that some types of adult-like clothes MIGHT elicit. I think THAT can qualify as stupidity.

(Also, for the record, I don’t think provocative clothes make the child look cute or precocious)

I know I keep on seeing these one or two children in the basement as well – that always sends this frisson of anxiety – of a relatively ill-lit space, lots of dark nooks and corners and very little traffic. (*)

I have heard incidents from friends. The fact that it is so very common it’s horrifying – the father of a friend, the father’s friend, the building watchman – so many. Nothing which can be taken to cops for, but nonetheless leaves a lasting scar on the child in question.

And I guess the question is WHAT is inappropriate in a situation like this. I tend to go with the view a friend which was “even if a person touches the top of the head, if it makes the child uncomfortable – that is inappropriate”

The point is what does one tell children? And what are the cues that are just friendly overtures and when does it become not-so-friendly. A casual pat of the back can be just a demonstration of affection and can also be a caress depending on the intent of the person. And isn’t asking kids to discern one type from another a fairly difficult proposition? Hell, it’s difficult enough for adults. I am sure; many females have agonized over whether any such incident was inadvertent or conscious, whether one is blowing something completely out of proportion? The colleague who sits a little too closely in an auto, seemingly casual conversations which might or might not have sexual undercurrents, the pat on the back that ‘slips’ and lands somewhere else.... How much more difficult will it be for a child to evaluate something like this, especially when it comes from a familiar person.

How does one tell a kid to be careful without inhibiting him/her? How does one encourage freedom to grow and explore and be courageous and yet inculcate a boundary line beyond which it is dangerous?

Also the reality is that many such instances are completely innocuous and genuinely affectionate - nothing more or less than that. Does one want to be the passer-by who unknowingly blows the whistle on a favourite “Security uncle” who is just being a fond playmate, without knowing the actual facts?

It’s such a fine, thorny line between being careful and being neurotic.

*There was a paragraph here, which I deleted - I felt slightly uncomfortable after putting it up. Some of you might have read it, others not. Apologies for that

Friday, February 20, 2009

A Sentimental Soppy Century Post

This is a post which I have been meaning to write for a long while - there is no real reason for it, but it’s just been in the back of my mind. I also see that I am moving towards my 100 post at BlogSpot (and a few hundred more at rediffblogs) and the close of my 5th year (gasp!) of blogging – so it’s a good time as any to retrospect and get a little soppy no?

I started this blog on a whim – as an April Fool’s joke on myself. I was bored, overworked (and had a zero offline social life), most of my friends were out of Bombay and I had parted ways with a very dear friend which had left a lot of dammed up babble in my head.

And of course, I love writing (The cyber space is full of garrulous mails written in the early internet era) – so a blog served as a wonderful avenue for some narcissistic self indulgence.

Little did I know that it would actually survive this long. Half a decade, generations of bloggers (I can count three distinct ones which have passed through this site - shub, austro - shush, you belong to 2 1/2 of them), major changes in life, work, - everything. And the blog has captured, stored and reflected these back at me as I have grown (hopefully), changed (certainly), matured (questionably).

When I started out, I used to think the only readers I would have would be friends bullied into reading. I never thought that it would be a forum to meet such fantastic, supremely talented people, who would take the effort to read and to encourage and to become such great offline friends.

What I never, in my wildest dreams dared to think or hope, was that this blog of mine – full of disjointed rambles, blathering, rants has had the power to actually amuse, inform or even touch people. And occasionally it has, especially after posts like this and this; I have received such moving mails and comments that it leaves me feeling so humbled.

I don’t know why people like what I write (uhm...readers, you do no? *panic attack happening now*) – I know my technique is flawed, I’m hopeless at grammar, I write very, long convoluted sentences, I over-parenthesise and I er..write like a girl (S’s verdict ( wonder whether he sees the irony of that – complaining that his wife writes and thinks like a girl! (See there I go again with the brackets)), he vastly prefers saltwater blues blog to mine- I can’t even argue about that. I like SWB blog more than mine too.). The only saving grace (I hope) is that I write from my gut – because I love it, and because I love getting the feedback, the comments and the well, involvement of you all.

And that’s the reason that this blog has become my passion, my addiction and my escape. It has kept me (in?) sane when life is busy being a bitch. It has allowed the person who is often under cover in real life (except to a few very close friends and family) to live, nay, to flourish (True. Online and offline personalities quite schizophrenic – I am sure my in laws and casual acquaintances think I am a serious, aloof, quiet person)

So dear readers, dear lurkers and dear casual passer-bys, a long overdue Thank you to you. It’s been a great journey reading and being read by all of you and look forward to doing it for many, many more years (blogger’s block permitting). Comments, critiques, feedback and questions welcome.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Scandalous spice secrets

A wednesday morning gossip session between Mo and Cyn.

Mo: holy basil is tulsi
Cyn: Is there is the profane basil also?
Mo: yes. There is a very profane basil used in Thai cooking
Cyn: really? Tell me more - This herbs gossip is fascinating. Is the English rosemary doing it with the Italian oregano you think?
Mo: while Parsley is a priest.
Cyn: Thyme is hot
Mo: Thyme is the day tripper. She says “thy me, thy me.”
Cyn: Sage is a wise old woman. Marjoram is a flighty young chicklet
Mo: Bay leaf is a beach bum, a lifeguard
Mo: Cumin is cunning
Cyn: Cumin is sleazy. Ogles at young Marjoram
Mo: Cynamon is well, you.
Cyn: Cardamom is pompous prig
Mo: Pepper? Pepper is this rap artist - a delinquent teen
Cyn: MC pepper. He is black and cool
Cyn: Green pepper is his younger brother - jealous feller
Mo: Saffron is of course an extremist
Cyn: Caraway is a hobo. Who else is there?
Mo: Anise.
Cyn: Anise- very allergic
Cyn: Cayenne pepper- is MC peppers sultry wife
Cyn: Turmeric is a sardarni
Mo: Talkative sardarni
Mo: If we have a baby, we'll call her Cyn a Mo n

And this is how we add some spice into our lives in all seasons. Completely herbilicious don’t you think?

P.S. You can be further edified by putting a face onto the name.(Cayenne = Beyonce lookalike)
P.P.S !!!???!!!

Circle of Life

In the last two weeks...

Birth - Death
Engagement - Broken Marriage
Recovery - Illness
Escape- Accident
Opportunities- Retrenchment
New house - Going home
Hallo - Goodbye
Consolidation - Disintegration

Wonder whether this is the adult world. Hmmm.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Baby Fish

Once upon a time there were two little girls. One had just joined the class in the middle of the term after her father had been transferred there. The other had been there since the beginning of the term. They used to sit on consecutive benches, until a budding romance of the new girls bench mate led to a change in the seating arrangement and the two ended up sitting together –inadvertently leading to the beginning of a very, very long relationship.

The new, new girl had just lost her younger brother a few months earlier. The other girl had lost her father a few years before. Both were voracious readers. The former was a quiet, deeply grieving, painfully shy, dreamer and with an unexpected streak of mischief. The other was a gregarious, giggly, outgoing girl – the class topper- monitor material. People would look at the pair and wonder what it that they saw in each other.

They spent the following two years doing most of the things preteen and early teen girls do – one had her first romance, and the other provided the alibis/ bodyguard/simply-guard. They exchanged copious pre-internet IM scribbles in the Julius Caesar text book. Invented fictitious boyfriends. Studied together. Made up games on the spot. Had sleepovers every other night. Gossiped about girls. Gawked at boys. Wrote very bad poetry singly and jointly. Wrote diaries. Read each other’s diaries. One wept about the lack of boyfriend at sweet sixteen. The other (slightly misandrist) girl consoled her by playing tabla on her fainted head. They squabbled and were rude to each other. They went to the temple to pray for the 10 standard results together. Adopted the other’s families. They constantly made fun of each other.

Somehow managed to finish the tenth standard and joined another school together. Spent another two years being inseparable though both would have vehemently denied any such accusation. Squabbled some more. Wrote some more bad poetry. Made smugly superior remarks about girls who read mills and boons. Made some more friends. Lost a few old ones.

Then proceeded to part for the first time in almost five years – one to go to Delhi and the other to Bombay. Undergrad, post grad and first couple of years of work. The physical presence was taken over by long rambling letters, the rare phone call and the intermittent visit.

Then the girl in Delhi, shifted to Mumbai. And once again the meetings started – while both were older and had their share of heartaches and real life stress, with the other’s banter they managed to capture a little fleeting window to the carefree life of childhood. They shopped for books together. They screened and validated boys (first) and then bridegroom prospects. The listened to the other crib, whine, gripe and cry about bad bosses and work. They squabbled all the time (like an old married couple said the other friends). They made fun of each other. They demanded random gifts. They gate-crashed each other’s house incessantly .

They met and vetted the person the other would eventually marry. And then they both got married – a year and a half apart. By this time, the world had woken up to the internet and text messages. So staying in touch was much more regular. Spoke at least once a week. Mailed often. Exchanged stories of settling down in new house and adjusting to marriage, in laws, new cities, and new jobs.

And then today one of them, made a transition into another life-stage and to irrevocable world of grownups. She brought a Baby Girl Fish into the world today.

Folks please say hallo to my brand new God-daughter

J – May she get a friend, such as you have been to me – because I KNOW that is the best possible wish that I can give her.

P.S. I might be slightly disoriented. Actually I AM disoriented.

P.P.S Grown up! Aiyo Rama.

P. P. P. S for the record, I nominated myself as the God-mother and informed the parents to be. Goonda promptly has passed on the task of teaching the kiddie the facts of life to me. I think that was quite cowardly of her.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Name Suggestions....

Please suggest names for my GODCHILD-TO-BE who shall be arriving in the next fortnight or so.
I have suggested many which my godchild's mother-to-be has shamelessly shot down, drat her

As many as you want.

Girls and Boys.

Also if there are any copyright issues let me know. Chances are that I will be stealing the name and taking credit anyways.