Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The Indian Mother’s Love Song.

He can be thirty five,
But he is the apple of my eye
He can raise my self-worth with a casual smile
He acts all adult like
But he’s always eleven to me

I have to chase him for food
And fuss over every mood
I have to dot every “i”’s
And straighten awry ties
Yes, he has a wife, but that is no relief
He thinks he’s all grown up
But he’s always eleven to me

Oh, he says he takes care of himself
But I know that he wont
I have to remind every time
To comb hair, powder his nose
To not melt in two drops of rain,
Or leave his wallet behind

And he will get very sore
When I tell him my biddin’
Then he’ll carelessly tell you
That he has enough wisdom
But I know thats just a test
To see how patient I can be
For he thinks’ he is all grown up
But he’s always eleven to me


Oh, he says he takes care of himself
But I know that he wont
I have to remind every time
To comb hair, powder his nose
To not melt in two drops of rain,
Or leave his wallet behind

P.S Sung to "She's always a woman to me"

P.P.S.This song, was brought about after closely studying the mother-son interaction of sundry males - viz. cousins (one goes in a motorcycle for a five minute ride, and his mother starts on the prayer beads ), friends ( one friends ma used to apply his toothpaste to the toothbrush in the mornings. When he was 30. Seriously.I tried to get Ma to do that for me, she threw the toothpaste tube at me. Sigh.)

Edited to add: Changed 'wee boy' to 'eleven'. Thank you shub, it IS much better!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Online Housie.

Another very random conversation with Mo, has led to this very interesting question which I would like to convert into a tag.

If this blog was a house, what would it be like?

Hint: I told Mo's that hers would be a sleek condo, all minimalist, black and white, granite and leather. I think mine would be a messy, scatty house. What is your blog house like? What do you think mine is?

P.S. Two posts in a day? I am rocking or what?

Baby Blues.

Yet another friend had a baby few days ago. I am hugely happy for her. And for the couple of other friends who have had kids in the last year.

But if truth be told, there is one small part of me which gets all freaked out every time I come to know of a baby-in-progress. The event forces me to take my head out of the sand and confront the brutal reality that time is passing by - fast. That it really doesn’t matter a jot what the emotional and mental age is- or whether, as in my case, that its 10 years behind the physical age. The latter is what ACTUALLY matters in the real world.

Also, nothing is straightforward or assured anymore. A generation ago, the jobs were more secure, the support system more solid and financial strength was linear and growing. Now, the first two are increasingly becoming a chimera, and if anything, the financial graph is flowing in reverse (monies are much easier to come by in the thirties/forties rather than fifties/sixties). All the more reason to have kids younger, so that there is some guarantee of being able to care for their needs, not to mention, the energy to enter into their pursuits.

It's not that I don’t want children. I do. But in the abstract.

I have a pretty strong suspicion that the life I lead right now (which is fun enough at this age) might start looking pretty sterile and colourless ten years hence. After all, only so much of movies, malls and travelling one can do before it becomes totally meaningless.

But the actuality of children - that’s a different story altogether.

Nothing actually makes one confront one's inadequacies as much as the thought of a child of one's own. It’s not even about being a perfect parent – I know that parenting is learning, growing process and no one is omniscient or right all the time. But inadequacies in terms of say, selflessness – voluntarily abdicating the focus on self, keeping aside one’s needs and whims for the good of someone else – always. I don’t know whether I can do that on a sustained and continuous basis.

I look at myself and S, I don’t think we are particularly selfish or self centered, or irresponsible, or cruel, or any of those things that make bad parents.

But I don’t know whether we have what it takes to be good parents either. We have our foibles, we have our moods, we can be quirky verging on eccentric, we can be abstracted and so inward looking that we lose sight of the outside world. We can be jaded, and unenthused. We cannot pretend - feign interest in things which bore us, or be social when we would rather be quiet, or display any extraordinary degree of emotional selflessness. Or allow anyone (including the spouse) to cross into the absolute core inside of that ephemeral concept of personal space

And one cannot get into childrearing with ennui and cynicism. A child does not have any definition of personal boundaries or limits and rightly so. But the thought of letting go, is what is so terrifying.

Or the thought of giving up that control which one has struggled to achieve in life -On one’s independence, on one’s body, on one’s sleep, on mental and emotional liberty. I know that people who are parents will rush to tell me that you can still do whatever you want to – whether its adventure sports or travel or whatever else. I am aware of that. However, one’s hold on life and limbs, has to be that much more tenacious for the simple reason that there is a kid depending on one – so there is always going to be that restrictive mental seatbelt. To paraphrase a quote I had read in some book “I cannot die now, I am a mother”.

I am not saying any of this is bad or something I don’t want to do – but the thought of doing that 24/7 for the next eighteen years without a day off, without margin of error, without a safety net – THAT thought is terrifying. I have seen a lot of people who were fairly irresponsible when they were single step up and rise magnificently and become wonderful parents. So I try and reassure myself with a “if they can do it, you can probably manage too” but somehow it ends up sounding like a meaningless platitude even in my head.

But I don’t know how some people do it – transition so naturally from one life stage to another. Marriage and then the maternal instincts come roaring in. I always seem to be in a denial –resistant mode about these sorts of things. Always seem to be fighting change, battling against growing up. And one cannot stay a child, if one has a child of one’s own.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Dream Girl Kisi Shayar ki Ghazal (or Oh-hell-cant-I-write-a-random-post-instead-of-working?)

I had a rather vague dream yesterday - about Muslim fundamentalists’ (of all things). I am going in a car with Ma somewhere, and suddenly some very violent, virulent ladies start pelting us with rocks. One of these rocks hit’s Ma’s head, she starts bleeding, and acting very disoriented. So for most of the dream (or what I remember of it), I am trying to lob back some rocks (and doing so quite accurately), worrying about whether Ma has concussion and wondering how to get out of the situation. Somewhere along the lines, it morphs into a train scene then a dhobi seems to feature in it and some cops eating paan. Mind you, all of this happening to the background music of Salaam-e-ishq.

On a scale of weirdness, I would probably have given this 3.5 or so.

Well, I HAVE dreamt of dolphins speaking fluent, mellifluous Bengali after all – that’s a tough act to follow. Something about an office picnic on a beach and dolphin gets washed up ashore, and starts babbling. The admin fellow, in the manner of admin-fellows, tries to locate Bengali colleague to do the needful. This dolphin then proceeds to turn to a VERY ugly man in a wet white-kurta-pyjama.

Then there was the time, I dreamt of Prince William impregnating some chick and ending up in a UK tabloid (Mind you I hadn’t thought of the princes for years. No reason to no?) . For some reason, there is a vociferous discussion about hairstyles happening with William, and this again, has the background score from Neil and Nikki. (A movie which of course I hadn’t watched – I mean Uday Chopra? And had bombed miserably some two or three years before this dream happened).

Frankly, I LOVE my dreams. I have a much more rollicking time in them than I ever have had in real life. And it’s all Technicolor, there is usually background music in it (even if it is etcetera music) and there is normally lot of action and excitement in it.

Whether it is the time a couple of friends and I am smuggling doped-out-bodies ala jaane-bhi-do-yaaro and being chased around town by my friend’s octogenarian family-retainer-named-ajibai. Or watching completely coherent sequels to Fight Club. Or cowering somewhere because of Alien invasions, wearing a silver plated miniaturized chip on our necks for protection. Or running away from two-inch crocodiles (on a leash) that are hell bent on eating my big toe nail. Or watching a vague cousin-in-law turn into a cannibal in freezing Minnesota, who is ... okay, I will spare the details, certainly not suitable for the weak stomached.

Incidentally, I am so BRIGHT in these dreams it’s amazing. I solve complicated quantum physics problems, concoct delectable recipes, read engrossing sequels to books, watch very logical sequels to movies, and am generally so multitalented that I generally give the waking avatar , a massive inferiority complex.

The curious thing is that there is usually no, (or at best) a very tenuous link to what is happening in my life at that moment. I was reading about Wakf yesterday – so might explain the Muslim bit. But seriously, where does the dhobi come into the picture?
Most of the times I am left racking my brains wondering what on earth could have set it off. I wonder what Freud uncle would have made out of these. Hmmm.

P.S. I have forgotten a vast number of them, so the new resolution is to post them for posterity.
P.P.S Also this way I get to shirk working on things which should have been dispatched one hour ago. Sigh

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

A Question of Faith – 1

There is a new, well undertaking ( for lack of a better word) which I need to set upon next week, which has met with some stubborn resistance from the MIL – for no other reason than the timing. The inauspicious ‘Pitrupaksh’ fortnight devoted to ancestors where the so-called auspicious projects are avoided.

S, predictably enough, loses his temper, every time the topic is brought up. He had to pay a substantial fee a few years ago on some investment because of this, and consequently views the whole Pitrupaksh thing with an extremely jaundiced eye and gets exceedingly irate about what he claims is debilitating ritualistic superstition designed to stop people from living freely.

Having said that, I don’t think he is an atheist or an agnostic or a sceptic – or a believer for that matter – but somewhere in that fuzzy gray zone in between. I think that pretty much mirrors my views on faith and God too – but more on that later.

That is something that has intrigued me – how does one manage to separate rituals and superstition from faith. Rituals necessarily implies that the belief in a higher power, almighty force what have you – who manipulates your life as per the sudden whims and fancies. Thus the composite of rituals are in effect offerings or bribes or good-behaviour in exchange for which this almighty force doesn’t finger too much with one’s life. Which always seems to me of a very transactional relationship. A fasts on Saturdays and Hanuman will protect him from Marquis de Sadesati. X doesn’t wear a red thread and is asking for trouble. You cannot travel on an inauspicious day. If two bad things happen in a family, you need to do an elaborate puja to appease some God who has it out for you. By and large, if you look at it, they are all pulling you back rather than giving you that impetus to soar.

Somewhere the ritualism takes over coherent thought and becomes quite inextricably linked with faith. And rituals BECOME the religion.

The sad part is that even for a lot of educated people it is difficult to break away from these rites or practices of what-have-you. The eclipse a couple of months ago, is a case in point - I know a girl, who is extremely well-educated, independent and has all the exposure and worldly wisdom and cynicism one would expect - but because she is expecting a baby, she (on instructions from her family) followed a number of quite hare-brained rituals like not cooking anything that required cutting and eating only at certain times. She explained that she doesn't believe in these things in the ordinary course of things, but cant take a risk when it comes to her baby.

In spite of myself, I can grudgingly respect that.

These are the moral dilemmas about which I am not sure how I would deal with. If I was in her position I might have done the same - the illogical, fear factor overwhelming cold reason( of course, I would have despised myself for doing it too).The current quandary about whether to do or not to do is a bit of a foregone conclusion - as far as I can see, there is no leeway on the date - so that takes care of that. But there are so many other quandaries like this, isn't it?

That is the problem with these so-called rituals or superstitions or whatever - somehow its less about emotional anchorage and more about becoming an emotional millstone.

P.S. To be continued
P.P.S I am not sure this post is particularly coherent or has a point. Hmmm. Disjointed thoughts being typed out. Ah well.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The Bored and the Beautiful

When uninspired, recycle from old blog and pretend it is for a good cause -viz. preservation of valuable literature for posterity. Hell. Its MY blog. I shall call it PRICELESS literature if i want to. Hmpf!(This is from Dec 05).

Do you have what it takes to be rich and famous? Go ahead and take this quiz to judge whether you are a member of the Association de la Loaded

Tick the answer you feel is closest to your heart

1. A long weekend coming up, you…
a. Travel to Turkey with your husband for a romantic weekend getaway
b. You wish you had money to send your husband to Turkey so that he could be out of your hair for the weekend
c. Turkey. Delicious. Definitely better than chicken!

2. You really need to look good for an office party. You take care of your skin by …
a. La Prairie Skin caviar is the only thing you would apply on your skin. But it’s a problem obtaining it locally! There are only five packs sold in the country at any given point of time. Oh, the cost? You don’t really remember, about a lakh, but a complete steal for the price.
b. You had saved for a year and buy a face cream for Rs.25, 000 but not for an office party – what the use, the COO wont be there to see you and anyways much better to just occasionally take it out and look at the pack.
c. How do you take care of your skin? Huh? Wash it what else?

3. You have a meeting at a prospective new clients office. You…
a. Chose the Louis Vuitton bag that matches the mood of the day. You must look upbeat when you meet new clients, so the tan bag you picked up in Paris should be good.
b. You have Hidedesign bags which you thought were quite hep, but had to hide them under the table when you saw A
c. Who the heck is Louis Vuitton? Always thought he was a gay rights activist. Bag? Well, one got wet in the rains and the other got stolen. So you really don’t have a choice do you?

4. Time is of crucial importance and you keep track of it by …
a. Your faithful Rado watch because its scratchproof and quite functional
b. You tell your friends that you were planning to buy Tommy Hillfiger watches but didn’t because he is racist.
c. Rado killed the video star

5. The coming Saturday you plan to go rustic. You….
a. Go that that quaint retro store in Jakarta where you had picked up that completely darling antique Fossil.
b. Lifestyle darling! All those suburbanites shop there nowadays.
c. Linking road zindabad.

Your score.
Mostly (a):
You are right up there in la-di-dah land. You have so much money you don’t know what to do with it. And well, if you are male, will you marry me? Yes, you are quite obnoxious I am sure, but I really, really want to quit working.

Mostly (b):
Well, who knows about the money, but you sure have the pretentiousness all sewed up darlings!

Mostly (c):

(All you uneducated plebeians, a Louis Vuitton basic functional key chain is about eight grand.)

This post was brought on by a surfeit of type (a) and (b) people in life right now. HELP!!!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Right to Information

The following queries appeared on S's intra-office informal site the other day - authored by a young gentleman in all earnestness.

1. Do you have to register somewhere before you can start a live-in relationship?
2. How long can you live-in together before it becomes illegal?

So ladies and gentlemen, what are your answers?

P.S. I think I am in crush. Anyone who has posts stuff like this on the office intranet is definitely crushworthy.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Breaking (the) News (seeker)

The other day, there was a call for Ma from her elderly acquaintance Mrs. S.

Ma wasn’t around, so I took the call and spoke to this lady (who I meet @once in five years) after a fairly LONG time. So after exchanging the preliminary hello, how are yous, the next question was immediately *giggle giggle* "Do you have any news"
So I baldly said no and hung up.

Sometime later, my Ma returned the call and again this lady repeats the same question to get the same answer from Ma.
Then Mrs. S tells Ma "What do you mean there is no news. Tell her to MAKE news"

Ma, went promptly on the counter-offensive and started asking very pointed questions about HER son (in his mid-late thirties who is not married) and ended the conversation by kindly telling the lady that her son probably has some utterly ineligible girlfriend tucked away somewhere. (I LOVE my ma)

But seriously, "MAKE news?" WTF?

Wonder whether justifiable bumping-of effing nosy ladies would qualify as news in her lexicon.

I suppose after two and a half years of marriage, coy questions of 'news' are inevitable from random aunties. But one can get away with acquiring temporary deafness most of the times.

I am sure Ma gets attacked more than I do. I am notorious for turning into a short-fused virago and snubbing people quite ruthlessly if asked not-anybody’s-business kind of questions. So Ma usually doesn’t let them trickle down to me and to her credit, has forborne to ask, imply, hint or suggest anything to me.Ever. This also explains why my extended and normally inquisitive family has been so utterly circumspect about this.

Wonder HOW it of any possible concern of people WHAT happens is or does not happen in my life (or for that matter anyone else’s life).

That subtle and not so subtle once-over when you meet any married femme. Those elliptical innuendos. Questions about “Kuch hai” or the atrocious “Kuch gadbad hai” (Gadbad always brings to mind Jungle mein Mangal for some reason) or even worse, that absolutely preposterous, embarrassingly well-meaning advice on how to generate the said gadbad (A friend of mine was inflicted a spiel on ..ahem..best positions for a ghar-ka-chirag.She told me she wanted to take a bath in Gangajal and/or kill herself after hearing such graphic descriptions)


P.S. Before the dear reader has any smart ideas about asking questions on presence or absence of news, you might pause a minute to consider the following. Such inquires will elicit the wrath of the powerful head of House-de-Cynics and MIGHT result in the dispensation of that, infallible curse. Viz “May you have news twice a year for the next fifteen years”

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

The Peter Principle

In Mumbai this time round, I was rummaging through my dad's old books and came across two interesting ones - the "Peter Principe" and the "Peter Prescription" - both which I have been floating on the periphery of my to-read list for years now.

This time I picked up the former and am half way through it. Incidentally, I learnt from wiki, that it’s a fairly well known (which I was only vaguely aware of) and that that iconic pop culture like Dilbert and Office space has been inspired to some extent ( which I surmised).

It's a wonderfully tongue in cheek, satirical representation of office hierarchy – a book on hierarchiology. The underlying philosophy is straightforward – people in organizations rise up their level of incompetence. If you look at the corporate world through that lens, suddenly many bewildering things start to fall in place. Viz. policies which seem to favour mediocrity and stifle initiative or a top management which is singularly talentless and uninspiring, or the strange phenomena of working to please the boss, rather than the client, and many such others.

On a more personal note, what intrigued me was the timing. This was my father’s book and there is his signature and date scrawled in the first page – 1974, he must have picked this up as a bachelor in the UK where he spent half a dozen years before marriage. He would have been a couple of years older than I am right now, and it would be fair to assume ( since he has both the books) that some of the dilemmas I face more than thirty years down the line are ones which he did as well. That inspite of being from different generations, radically different career paths, different countries, different socio-economic generations that he, as I am, after 8-12 years of working, also apparently grappled with the same kind of questions I do.

I always wondered about that, whether this mid-life professional crisis where you start seriously retrospecting on decisions and recalibrating the importance of a career vis-a-vis other aspects of life – is a phenomena restricted to our generation. A generation which has had so many opportunities, that it is spoilt for choice – unlike our parents generations (seventies and eighties – could it even be called a career?) who had to get a job hold on for dear life till retirement. So was introspection even an option? Apparently yes.

It’s weirdly comforting this sense of continuity – the fact that my father was going through some of the professional angst which I face now, and yet went on to carve out a name for him. It gives me hope, that in spite of all reservations, in-spite of self doubts and insecurities, I might do so too.

P.S. Also quarter way through another book “And then we came to the end” by Joshua Ferris – corporate chaos circa 2007ish – much recommended basis what I have read so far. Also “e” by Matt Beaumont. Interesting side bar is both of these books are based in advertising agencies. There is something about agencies which bring out the cynicism in people I think. Or maybe people in advertising come to a realistic assessment of their/job’s worth( or lack of it)sooner than their corporate counterparts?

P.P.S Had written this post sometime back, never posted it. Seem to be having a rather dry spell just at the moment – so upsydaisy to drafts-old –ignored posts