4

Are We There Yet? OR It is the Penultimate Day of the A-to-Z Challenge, Yay!)

“I must write something” she whispers to herself, sitting by the balcony trying to save the letter ‘A’ on the machine from being pulled out by the toddler.

I wonder if anyone stays in the apartment in the opposite building. Never seen anybody there but that empty clothes rack and mop in the balcony surely belong to someone.

I don’t know about you, but I’m hungry. I wonder if “I’m hungry” is as contagious as a yawn. Really wouldn’t mind a fruit yogurt right now but who’s going to walk to the grocery. Laziness is a disease with no cure. Talking aloud about hunger helps. Husband offers…banana, apple, garlic bread…no prizes for guessing which one I’m going to eat.

I have a very tricky relationship with bananas. Mother never tires of telling me of the goodness of that (godforsaken) fruit. Maybe because I know its so good, I can hardly ever bring myself to eat it. Buy it I do. Perhaps that helps me stay comfortable with the idea of ‘healthy eating’. Maybe if someone chopped it and served it in a bowl with tangy masala on it I’d gobble it down. But you see, laziness is a disease with no cure. If banana and I were the last thing on the planet, would I eat it? Sure. Until Armageddon, pass me something else.

The sound of a basketball dribble. Don’t get me started on that either. Not basketball, but exercise. Its kind of like the banana situation. I know its good for me but I can’t get myself to do it. And the garlic bread is here. Now I type with little finger as others are smeared in butter and I’m not done eating so why get up and wash hands. But I will not wait for Armageddon to start exercise…just not today honey.

“Life is ours, we live it our way”, Metallica to the rescue of all rebellious children (and certain adults). So I saw them Live last year on my birthday. How I managed to make it happen is a helluva story. You should stick around long enough to read that when I get to it.

There is now most certainly melted butter and cheese running through my veins. Shoot me and you’ll see.

“I must end this” she whispers to herself, very aware of the ridiculousness of all the words above.

Forgive me oh unfortunate one for your eyes have witnessed this dreadful scene.

May the lord above grant you dreams of happy places and may you find no further reason to utter “Oh the horror, the horror”.

7

The X-Women: 10 Extraordinary Ladies I Love

(in no particular order)

Susan Sontag

Virginia Woolf

Tina Fey

Sylvia Plath

Janis Joplin

Jane Goodall

Cleopatra

Ellen DeGeneres

Emily Dickinson

Julia Child

2

(W)ho We Are

Life played love on a Thursday in spring,

Caught in a bundle of secret strings

Sepia melodies and gilded notes

Found a sail to stay afloat.

 

Saltwater kiss wrapped in an embrace

The moonlit sky stood witness amazed

Heartless rain drenched love to the bone

Time bargained to walk alone.

 

Distance built its hollow bridge

Eyes held what words never did

On a stone all promises were writ

Stardust shared its wondrous gift.

 

Tainted pride grew molten wings

And challenged love to foolish games

Hidden chambers then stood ajar

Brought life and love together this far.

 

Innocent smiles and honest ties

Have found new roads under pelican skies

Now learning to dance like forgotten stars

And always remembering who we are.

2

7 Things I Just Don’t (U)nderstand

1. Mascara at the Mall

Why oh why would ladies wear make-up to the mall? Save some for night time drunken safari I say.

2. Men and Stars Wars

So I don’t know if this is more about Yoda’s wisdom or Princess Leia’s derrière or both, but mention ‘Star Wars’ to a man and the facial expression changes to the look on a well-fed puppy’s face as he’s reminiscing about his recent lunch. And God forbid you should question the worship. Prepare to be given the head shake that says, “Oh, but you don’t get it.” Yes honey, I don’t get it. I might however read this for laughs.

3. Sarees at Sea

Visit a beach in India and prepare to be assaulted by the view of beautiful sarees victimised by being pulled upto the knees. Auntyji that six yard wonder never thought it would have to see this day. The Burqini has made it to the Olympics. Will someone make a swimsaree please? Watch and Learn.

4. Milk, Soggy Leaves and Sugar aka the Indian Chai

This one I will never understand. How can scores of people across the country enjoy this beverage made from the worst tea leaves of a plantation?

<There is no unappetizing Indian Chai photo on the web. It’s a conspiracy>

5. Unsolicited Parenting Advice

What makes random strangers think they can get away with telling you how to hold, cuddle, feed, scold YOUR child. These people I just want to be physically hurt. I’m always trying not to. Grrr.

6. Mother/Sister expletives

How did these even start? One day a band of boys decided they would push the limits of verbal hatred and began spewing female family figure venom? Pass by any group of boys chatting and you’re bound to hear them. And they’re communicating, apparently. And laughing, patting each other. Ha Ha, you sister-what-not. No boys, it’s NOT NORMAL.

7. Bag Elbow

What is that? In addition to looking like a very tiring activity, it is fairly inefficient in helping you do a good job of carrying anything, or managing to do anything while you’re at it. Remember that shoulder girls, get on, work it now. Or maybe I’m just a big bag girl.

2

Trekking Along Them (T)roughs

One day you’re covering a Metallica song in front of 100 people and another you’re dealing with seemingly insurmountable losses. People call it the “troughs and crests” of life. Trouble is laying low in them troughs isn’t the easiest thing. Especially when the crests have kept you very very high.

Tenacity is a wonderful word and a difficult act to perform. And phoenix-analogies don’t help the cause. Perhaps one should be allowed to remain among the ashes at least for a while, not necessarily in a wallowing-in-self-pity kinda way. Of course deciding this being-sad time frame can be tricky.

The best way is to let Scarlet O’Hara take care of that. For whatever today might bring, tomorrow is indeed (well, it better be) another day.

And yes there aren’t better times to let Metallica (also your first public song choice), or Bob Seger if you please, decide the tone for your climb out of the troughs.

Turn the Page.

0

(S)um of Parts

Life is a sum of experiences but it is also about the decisions you make along the way. What may seem to be your personal prerogatives at the time can affect others in ways you may either choose to ignore or wish away. And these are the things that matter. What you do or decide at a certain point can change the course of other people’s life. Nobody should have the right to do that. While having the power to better someone’s life is the greatest thing, the negative effects of this power should never have existed. Nothing hurts more than other people’s decisions affecting your life adversely. Not being in control can be the worst thing.

When you fall down and hurt yourself, there is the choice of lying there reeling in the pain or getting back right up and moving on. The trouble is, when you push people down and they’re hurt, even if later you can give them a hand to get back up, it doesn’t change the fact that you are also the person who threw them down. So unless the gesture of helping them up alleviates all the pain, they will never really know what all of that meant.

Time, they say, is a great healer. The only difficult thing is to accept that it is not going to be easy. There are years, months, days, minutes and seconds to live through. But then life is after all about the choices you make. When what happens to you seems to be out of your control, the only real choice you have is how you react to it. Mostly there will be times and moments when you will choose what happens to you. But for the times when you’re an actor in a play scripted by others, how you bring out a bit of you to the character is what counts.

Then again…‘tis easy to philosophise about the kaleidoscopic patterns of life.

It takes great courage to live through them.

3

Lets (R)ewind

Reunions are always fun. People have always become more/less pretty, fat, dumb, rich. And if they haven’t changed at all its the worst thing that could’ve happened to them. After the usual “Oh my god look at you”, there’s the catching up to do. I’m working here, living there, buying that house, that one’s getting married, having a baby, etcetra. Of course if you’re at somebody else’s reunion, things are a wee bit different.

You can put faces to the names you’ve heard. So that’s the host whose parents are out of town, the couple who’re leaving to get educated, the guy who married his college batch-mate, the girl who is way overdressed for the party (and whose name your husband who went to school with her can’t remember), the girl who’s that girl on TV’s sister (oh okay), the guy who asks how you met (whose surname is all you hear anyone using since his first name has been forgotten), the guy just out of hospital who has given up smoking and can’t stop talking about it and the girl your husband had a crush on at school.

When its not your reunion you’re very aware of it, from sitting on the side, smiling at others’ jokes and memories, but mostly from the overwhelming feeling of missing your friends.

When was the last time all of us were together, pulling each other’s leg, dancing like maniacs, cracking the silliest jokes, making fun of others, drinking till someone puked, singing songs till voices went hoarse and saying goodbye vouching to repeat all this soon (but never managing to).

Most of us have moved away, started our lives elsewhere, made new friends. And yet the years we spent together would always connect us. Across time, cities, even oceans (if need be). And when we find ourselves at reunions (ours or somebody else’s), there will always be a smile for that day, stories of how life has been and memories from long ago.

0

(Q)uotidian Chaos

Earlier this week I spent a harrowing half hour trying to understand the psychology of my laptop. Why would it go blank on me in the middle of harmless mail checking? And why would the display cut itself into six pieces (or more) when I tried to restart? It was being so curt about the whole thing that I didn’t have enough time to even understand the problem. There was no Fade to Black.

It is only at times like these that the thought “I must backup my data” comes ringing in one’s ears. I started walking through the corridors of disk drives in my mind to understand just how upset I should be if data recovery wasn’t possible. I was grateful at having saved most things on e-mail. But that’s another area that needs back-up. Another time perhaps.

Then of course without being overtly upset about it I had to get out the tech support numbers and start dialling. I was sitting there ready to fire serial number and product number on command. It’s a little difficult to start describing the trouble itself. The person at the other end probably thought I was one daft cookie to be saying things like “the display on restarting is divided into six sections and before I can do anything it all goes blank”. It is quite like answering Doctor’s questions: “What kind of cough?” What do they mean what kind? Its cough and it hurts and that’s all I care to know about it.

Finally the support at the other end actually had something to say to support me. Do this, press that, go there, and wait. Tra la la la la. Things didn’t fall in line exactly the way she told me it would. So I did some more of Press this, Do that and Wait. Now I don’t know if you’re expected to make small talk while your laptop is making you wait. And the support keept asking “So what is happening now madam”. I will bloody well tell you what is happening when something does. My laptop says wait. So i’m waiting. So you should too.

And by the grace of God (and tech support), the laptop began talking language I understand. It also went on to inform me that “Disk drivers had stopped responding and have been restored successfully.” Thanks a ton.

If only before you crashed you could’ve flashed the “I’m going to be of some trouble to you” sign. Perhaps laptops are (some) people. Crash and burn and then say sorry. Bah Humbug!

P.S. : I have now officially made a back up for all my data. Which also made me realise I have a lot of junk lying around. If it wouldn’t hurt to lose it, its time to get rid of it! Mission good-riddance here I come.

0

(P)sycho Funk

At the age of 14 when asked what I wanted to do in life I said “I want to be a Psychiatrist”. This got peals of laughter from adults, followed by a “But why?”.

“…because i’m intrigued by the human mind” (exact words). But to get to the psychiatric ward I would’ve had to spend 7 years in Med school. and I also realised that the human mind outside of a psychiatric facility was just as intriguing.

So instead I turned to the other great thing besides the human mind. Television.

Medical dramas have oft cast a spell on people. There was ER, Grey’s Anatomy, General Hospital etcetra. I never watched ER. Did catch a bit of ‘Grey’s Anatomy’, enough to learn about the characters and wait for Patrick Dempsey to show up. I liked ‘Scrubs’, taking Laughter is the best medicine to its logical conclusion.

But there was a phase when I was addicted to the medical drama ‘House M.D.’ Whether it was because of the sardonic diagnostic medicine messiah Gregory House (played by Hugh Laurie) or that there were too few main leads for it to turn into yet another Docs in love story (Olivia Wilde did her bit to heat it up), I’m not sure.

The difference with ‘House’ was that it was not about nicey-nice doctors playing God. It was about a quirky doctor and his team, neither of whom are cardboard characters. And showing how they diagnosed patients took precedence over scenes of people making out in the medicine cabinet.

I’m sure doctors who catch any of these shows probably find a thousand inaccuracies. The thing about ‘House’ was that it was all about solving the puzzle (since its diagnostic medicine). Every episode had a trend. First Dr. House had to be convinced enough to take up a case. He had to find it ‘intriguing’ (to use my word). Then began a series of brainstorming sessions with his team which always led to them being wrong initially. And as the patient’s condition deteriorated they tried this and that and finally put the pieces together and saved his/her life. I think only 1 patient died per season.

We always see doctors as extremely healthy people. On this show Dr. House has a limp and walks with a cane (in one of his legs the muscles died due to wrong diagnosis by those treating him. Catch the irony?). He’s always shown to be popping pain medication. Certainly not the picture of a perfect guy to treat anyone. And he usually doesn’t talk to patients or if he does says to their face “You’re dying” without emotion. He doesn’t wear a lab coat and is always proved right on the theory that everybody lies (especially patients about medical history). The moral of the whole thing being that this guy is whatever he may be but he saves lives all right.

Bottomline being I like this show. Whether watching ‘House’ makes up for my not having been to Med school is debatable. But the Psychiatry dream hasn’t died. Of course I’m not authorised to prescribe medicines. But there are enough wayward minds around me that whet my appetite for engaging with and finding a cure for insanity.

4

(O)h So Sweet

Addictions by nature are not the best thing to happen to people, especially when they’re related to items that are readily available. So if sweet stuff is your road to hell on account of gluttony, you’ve got yourself an addiction that’s truly remarkable and unbelievably irresistible.

Identifying addiction in its early stages is a feat few can master. But there are signs to look out for:

– When the phrase ‘Having a sweet tooth’ amounts to gross understatement of observations and facts.

– When making room in your stomach applies to the main course and not the dessert. (Apparently, Ayurveda advises dessert to be consumed before main meals. So I’m good.)

– When people who’re not too fond of sweets keep aside their share specially for you.

– When potentially disparaging comments like “Oh you girls and your ice-creams” don’t affect you one bit.

– When your grandmother says she’s proud of your love for sweets because you’ve probably ‘inherited’ it from her.

– When chocolate festivals sound like the best thing (with the exception of rock music and/or alcohol) to have happened to mankind.

– When diabetes is your enemy number one (only next to root canals).

All these ‘signs’ aside, this sweet obsession is the stuff fairy tales are made of (kindly refer to Hansel and Gretel or Charlie and the Chocolate Factory). Of course it becomes a little difficult to cultivate this addiction post-20. It is part of unwritten young adult rules: crave not for that sweet something or else care not for the demeaning looks that may fall upon you.

Few can appreciate the egalitarianism inherent in this addiction…after all, this sweet-love is all encompassing and encourages no bias for or against chocolates or any other particular kind of sugar heaven.

And only life-long addicts can understand how significant and difficult decisions can be, decisions that are never about what sweet stuff to eat but always about whether to eat it right now or later.

That’s what its about for all sugar-junkies. Life is one big dessert after another.

And as long as you’ve got that dream dessert in your heart (and the capacity for ever more in your stomach), you’ve got yourself one hell of an enviable addiction.