If you're reading this, I have packed up the boxes in my head and shifted to another place. It happened in the manner most shiftings happen, suddenly and hurriedly, like a thunderbolt. I am one of those horrible people who buy lottery tickets on impulse and sign up for blood donation camps without quite knowing what is happening; I always have gut feelings about irrelevant things. So when it hit me that I would very much like another space to ramble in, I promptly ran off.
I can now be found in this hellhole.
I did love it here, though.
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
If you're reading this, I have packed up the boxes in my head and shifted to another place. It happened in the manner most shiftings happen, suddenly and hurriedly, like a thunderbolt. I am one of those horrible people who buy lottery tickets on impulse and sign up for blood donation camps without quite knowing what is happening; I always have gut feelings about irrelevant things. So when it hit me that I would very much like another space to ramble in, I promptly ran off.
Splattered by Doubletake, Doublethink. at 1:16 PM
Saturday, July 19, 2008
Splattered by Doubletake, Doublethink. at 10:39 PM
Friday, July 11, 2008
The strangest part is that until a month ago I didn't know whether to call it Jood or Jay Yoo Dee Eee. I have now been enlightened.
I have a college to go to. I have things to study that I do not quite understand. I have lectures to attend that have me walking out with my head reeling. I have a vague agenda for the next three years, and a place to carry it out in. I have new people to pester. I do not have the Jadavpur University Department of English figured out as yet, but I'm not sure I want to. The place suits me just fine.
A lot of people predicted my getting into JU, some as far as five years ago; I fought and fought to prove them wrong but I've been banging my head into brick walls all my life. One cannot evade one's kismat beyond a point. Sorry people, hello world.
I Got Into College. I got into JUDE. It's not where I wanted to go all my life, but now that I'm here I want to sink in and stay.
Splattered by Doubletake, Doublethink. at 10:30 PM
Wednesday, July 9, 2008
There are certain horror movies where everything starts with an ominous phone call. Despite every nerve in your body screaming out to the protagonist to Not Pick Up, he or she invariably does, and then a long convoluted saga of ominous music and complicated shots of staircases follows till the screen goes blank again. Then you are, more often than not, left wondering at the mental faculties of the protagonist.
Why I am starting off this way is to declare my support for this little action of picking-up-when-you-shouldn’t as far as the telephone is concerned. There are times when you have to, and there are times when the results turn out far from expected, which is why horror movies find watchers – there are always people who do stupid things. They pick up ringing telephones and open rickety closets and spend nights in ramshackle villas. They must not be blamed, and I’ll tell you why.
I picked up a telephone call once that involved me being asked to do a play, and not being in possession of my senses (this could be due to the fact that it was the night before my Hindi board exam and I couldn’t find my textbook anywhere), I said that one awful phrase – Okay, sure. I then ran off to Kerala once the exams ended and forgot all about the play, but when I came back the script was still in full flow. I was to attend workshops at an unknown place, and most importantly, with unknown people.
Enter decisive moment number two. Protagonist can either choose to run away, hide and lead a normal, uneventful life, or protagonist (with the audience screaming No, you moron, NO!) can say, Okay sure, and go along.
I’m not much of a protagonist. I say Okay, sure too readily and too often.
So anyway, the place where Playhouse (student performance group in Kolkata, please note) workshops were taking place turned out to be scarily reminiscent of the bhoot bangla in Bhool Bhulaiya at first glance.Still I ploughed along. I grinned a lot, nervously, at people I didn’t know. I bumped into objects and chanted strange things and waved my hands in the air and came back home swearing I’d never go back. So what if it had a web page and a logo? All that limb-waving had to be a hoax. I wasn’t going back.
Then, of course, I went for the workshop again the following day.
The really bad part about this post is that I should be stopping right now. The horror movie veneer wears thin from here. The house turns out to be fascinating, its inhabitants turn out to be not-really-ogres, the rehearsals are blurs of energy and laughter, and the work is backbreaking but beautiful. When you’re doing a play that is directed, produced, designed and performed entirely by students, it’s a horror movie of a different sort. And it has a script that cannot be explained without referring to inside jokes and conspiracy theories, teatime breaks and moments of madness. Of course, if I try to explain all of that this might turn into a novel, and if I write some random cryptic sentences the only people who will get them are people who did the play. Which is why this is a bad post. That doesn’t mean I’m done writing it.
There were people I met who should never ever show their Playhouse sides to the rest of the world, especially to any agency associated with law and order. Some redefined insanity as a concept; others morphed into entire concepts of insanity themselves. There was a homicidal Doberman Pinscher that everyone lived in mortal dread of, which is probably why we agreed to spend all that time cooped up in the Rehearsal Room. There was also a niggling feeling in my head all along that reality shows have a purpose, after all. When you spend too much time with a bunch of strangers, you change in weird ways. You say different things and you react differently, and most importantly, you share a part of yourself with them that you normally wouldn’t let out to anyone or anything but a close-circuit camera.
My apologies to everyone as far as I am concerned in relation to the last sentence. You know I love you (which is basically a nice way of saying Let This Not Get Out, Please).
And now, to cut a long story short, the play (Boomerang, please note) did happen. The initial level of pointlessness which had convinced me of its hoax-like nature suddenly turned into three days of yells and colours and the kind of madness that only putting up a play can bring. And now that it’s over, I suddenly have a lot more time on my hands. Which is why I’m reblogging. But there are such things as hangovers, and for lack of other things to write about, here I am. I haven’t made much sense. I haven’t much sense anyway. All I have are too many things that I’d like to write about, but then that can wait for the novel I shall write someday, which will hopefully be more coherent.
And that, in short, is why horror movies don’t happen to me. The beginning is uncertain, the middle part is a vague flurry of things not quite taken in, and the ending is almost always the Okay, sure kind. Since this is my version of the story, I'm obviously the protagonist, except I'm very glad the horror movie happened. You may argue that picking up ringing telephones is still an act of extreme stupidity, but nothing to be done. I am very inadequate that way.
Splattered by Doubletake, Doublethink. at 8:06 AM
Sunday, June 15, 2008
I still haven't thought of a new url, and The Soliloquist was nice enough to remind me that I have a tag pending (well, lots of them, but this was a reminder, and may morph into a threat soon). And keeping in mind that I have absolutely no time on my hands, I will at once sit down and waste some more on this.
4 Jobs I’ve had (in chronological order):
If you stretch the definition of "job" to an extreme, I blabber away to a very patient kid, pretending to be a quiz-cum-GK teacher and general gyaan-giver. I also did a commissioned glass painting once, but never got paid thanks to the fact that my parents commissioned it and I, like an idiot, accepted it. Apart from that, zilch.
4 Movies I Could Watch Over and Over:
This is not a definite list at all, just names that are floating around in my head now:
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (don't ask why, just struck me)
and oh, have sudden hankering to watch Padosan.
4 Places I’ve lived (in order):
My home, various dusty villages on freezing mountains, a houseboat, a forest lodge.
4 TV Shows I Like:
Friends (Gasp! What a surprise!)
And I really, really loved The Wild Thornberries.
4 Favorite Foods:
(Note the use of the plural form)
4 Places I’d rather be:
4 People I’m Tagging:
Death on Two Legs
Splattered by Doubletake, Doublethink. at 7:41 AM
Saturday, June 7, 2008
It has come to pass that I am afraid of my blog. It has been Discovered.
By my parents.
Now the thing is, I can't figure out why my guiltmeter is working overtime because there's nothing much about them on the blog, right? I'm ignoring the Mum-at-the-Dentist's post. I'm ignoring all the other posts that must have featured them or people they know, I can't be bothered searching through the archives and deleting them. Besides, What Is This? I can't have a blog? I can't write down my views? I can't share my life's story with the Internet?
I'm grossly over-reacting here; there was no showdown whatsoever, just a general laugh about my url having the word "butterfly" in it, and a lot of taunts about how the blog would be forwarded to people I didn't want it to be forwarded to. In case I haven't mentioned, the family's sense of humour is a little grotesque. Likewise, I am about as paranoid as Mojo Jojo on tequila.
The point being, secrecy must be maintained at all costs. Us bloggers who know each other in real life develop coughing fits whenever blogging is mentioned. Which is why I shall change my url in a few days. Family, if you're reading this, bwahahahahahah. I shall make sure the new one is not discovered. As for the rest, I shall just have to reappear like the prodigal son (or the post-plastic surgery Ekta Kapoor hero) and notify you about my existence again.
This post is also to be taken as a public announcement about me taking a sabbatical until further notice. Or at least until I get help for persecution mania. Whatever.
Splattered by Doubletake, Doublethink. at 1:53 AM
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
Skunky: Hey, want to see something nice? Here, come closer.
Me: (Stupid fool that I am) What what? Are you going to offer me a piece of your orange?
Skunky: NO! (squeezes peel of orange very quickly into my eye, so that a spray of something very sharp hits my face, making me cry out. Through watering eyes I catch her grinning, the air in the bus smelling of oranges)
Me: Aaaaaargh!This means war.
(We take turns squirting orange-peel poison at each other, and then wonder whether we should try it on the driver. We decide against it. We are young, but we're not that idiotic)
Skunky: Hey, you want to practice throwing the peels into the windows of passing vehicles? Ten points if you get it in.
It was only later that we found out what "Don't Pollute The Environment" meant. And, to our credit, we did manage to chuck most of the peels into the buses. So the roads remained clean.
We come to a corner, turn it, and are on the road. Cars come at us in whooshes of bright light, and our laughter sounds harsher and nearer, as if it were ricocheting off their flashing bodies.
A group of people walk towards us in Pujo finery - big earrings, mismatched purses, shiny new shoes that have nothing to do with the rest of the outfits, the works. We try to look inconspicuous and fail, especially since quite a few of us are cackling insanely and the other half are, well, tottering.
Hiju: Do you realise that these people are walking towards us?
[I stare blankly]
Hiju: No, they're walking the other way. We're the only people walking forwards. The whole world's against us. (eyes her shoes tragically)
[Well, we tried not to die laughing]
The Narcissist: (gasps for breath and finds her voice) you know, I love you guys. I really do. This is fun. Oooh, look, a crossing! We're going to cross the street, yay!
[She's like that in real life too, yes.]
Me: I'm not crossing the street.
The Shrew: Why not?
Me: Because I'll die. (am encountered with blank look, and proceed to explain) I just know I will. Some car will mow me down and I'll be a stain on the road. Bloody cars. What do they think of themselves? They're just tin boxes on wheels, for the love of God. They MUST NOT kill me.
The Shrew: So they won't kill you. Come on, cross!
Me: No, I'll die. Did I not just explain it to you?
The Shrew: This isn't the time, really. I can't handle you like this.
Me: You prissy spoilsport! Can't you see I'll DIE if I cross the street? I'm only eighteen, I don't want to die while I'm still eighteen! Lemmego Lemmego! I'll die. You want your friend to DIE?
I was dragged across the street and was able to stomach a huge dinner thereafter. And I'm here writing this, so it's obvious I lived to tell the tale. But I'm still afraid of cars. Bloody cars.
Me: Hey, stop doing that schoolwork.. listen to me.
The Gollum: (puts pen down, eyes me wearily) Yes?
Me: Did you know that when you're cremated the only part of you that remains afterwards is your bellybutton?
The Gollum: You mean when a person is cremated. I've never been.
Me: Don't distract me. So your naabhi is the only thing that remains?
The Gollum: So I've heard.
Me: So where do all the discarded bellybuttons go? There must be someone who collects them.
The Gollum: (Doesn't bat an eyelid - proof of the superhuman levels of endurance she's now reached) No, I think they just lie there. And then maybe they're swept away.
Me: Where's your sense? Of course someone collects them! The Naabhi Collector! He collects bellybuttons.
The Gollum: Okay, fine. The sooner this ends the better. So what does this Naabhi Collector do with the bellybuttons?
Me: He strings them into necklaces, of course. And wears them. Or maybe he makes things out of them. Showpieces maybe.
The Gollum: You're twisted. I don't want to buy any decorative items for a while now.
Me (bristling) : Oh, so you find the Naabhi Collector sick, but you can buy those fake Made-In-China things? They have bone powder in them, I've heard.
Me: It might.
The Gollum: So you're telling me it's better to have a showpiece with some long-dead person's bellybutton in it instead of bone china?
Me (as if stating the obvious): Yes!
The Gollum: In that case, Naabhi Showpieces it is. Somewhere in my house is a bellybutton. Hey... (suddenly becomes interested) do you think he has a patent for it?
Me: Dhat. I've always hated showpieces. Don't you have to finish your work?
And no, I did not get murdered for that.
Splattered by Doubletake, Doublethink. at 8:57 AM
Sunday, May 11, 2008
“See, the thing is…”
“I have this pain in my tooth, and I couldn’t sleep all night because it gave me a headache, and…”
“So, I’ve been thinking…”
“That you should go to the dentist?”
“Oh, thank God, I knew you’d come with me to the dentist!”
“Yeah, well – Hey! Wait a minute! What do you mean, come with you?”
Ladies and Gentlemen, the dentist’s chamber again. Overlook the fact that I was there to, quite metaphorically, hold my mother’s hand while the dentist excavated her mouth, and the main problem was that I was back. This is the same clinic I thought I’d never have to see again once my braces came off, and here I was again a couple of years later, revisiting old memories. Cold white tubelights, check. Impersonal marble tiles, check. Everything that precise shade of sterile white, check. How I hate that shade of white. And oh, in case I forgot to mention, nervous mother telling me all about how she hates people putting their hands inside her mouth? Check.
I, of course, am a veteran. I see nothing wrong with the dentist pulling on his gloves and picking up that spoonlike mirror, but my mother’s looking ready to faint. He tells her to open her mouth and sticks the mirror in, and she gags. He tries to prise her mouth open, and she gags again, apologising profusely afterwards. He then tells her to go and get an X-ray since he can’t figure out what’s wrong. Because she won’t let him.
I sit outside the X-ray room, waiting for her to come out. I expect a scared mother, I expect a creeped-out mother wanting to pour Harpic into her mouth (she has an obsessive-compulsive thing about cleanliness and germs, yes), but I do not expect a sheepish-looking mater.
“What do you mean, nothing? I know something happened. You drag me all the way here and deprive me of all the fun?”
“You call this fun?” From an observer’s angle, yes. I’ve been a victim too many times.
“You know how they put this metal plate in your mouth and hold it in place with their fingers?”
“Yes, and they ask you to bite on the plate, then their finger, and then you have to push the button on the machine so that the X-ray happens. Go on, what happened?”
“You know all this? Why didn’t you tell me?”
“I didn’t know I had to. What happened?”
“Well, I told the chap I had a gagging problem, but he put the metal plate in anyway. And then he told me what to do, but I bit the plate too hard because I wanted to get over with it, and the plate was ruined.”
“You ruined a plate?” That’s heresy in the dental world.
“Then the second time he put the plate in I didn’t want to bite his finger, so I pushed the button in a hurry, and the X-ray didn’t happen because there was no pressure compressing the teeth into the plate.”
“I’m assuming there’s a third time,” I say, eyeing her warily.
“Well, this time I wanted the X-ray to be over and done with, so when he told me to bite, I, er, bit him too hard.”
I stare at my mother fascinatedly. This is too good to be true.
“You bit the assistant? You bit him?”
“He told me to! I also, er, spat into his hand instead of the spittoon.”
"You bit him, and then you drooled all over him?” Yes, I know what that sounds like, but I said it all the same.
“Well, there’s no need to laugh all that much. At least the X-ray was done.” And two plates were ruined in the process.
“I feel like puking. Oh god, can I buy a toothbrush somewhere? I’m feeling sick. I’ll get germs. Do you think I’ll get infected?”
I surface from my convulsions to say “Don’t you think it’s more likely the X-ray guy got infected since you bit him?”
There’s no way my mother’s glare will work. This is better than any of my dental misadventures.
The X-ray guy seems to have warned the doctor. He coughs a little and explains to my mother that she has a gagging complex, purely psychological of course, but she needs scaling done and possibly a wisdom tooth extraction (this time I don’t blame my mother for going grey in the face) so wouldn’t it be more convenient to consult a top-notch world-famous-in-Kolkata dental surgeon?
Literal translation: Go turn him into a werewolf, you.
So we left, and I begged my mother to let me accompany her on all her dental appointments with the hotshot surgeon (who has no idea of what he’s in for), and she grudgingly agreed. That was on Saturday. Today, on Mother’s Day, I handed her a packet and said, “This is for yesterday.” As a former dental victim, I can laugh at her experiences, but I can also sympathise. After the laughing’s done with, that is. She opened it to find a pair of earrings.
“I expected Listerine” she said cryptically.
And then, before she left the room, this parting shot – “Oh, I forgot to tell you, you have an appointment on Thursday with Dr. Surana, I made it before we left the clinic. Just a check-up, of course.”
Dr. Surana is my orthodontist - or at least he was, till two years ago - who does not know that there’s still some dental cement and wire holding my four front teeth together that should have been removed ages ago. I ground my teeth, and I swear I could see an evil grin on the mater’s face. I am now looking forward to witnessing her wisdom tooth extraction.
Splattered by Doubletake, Doublethink. at 11:06 AM
Wednesday, May 7, 2008
So if a land is because of its people, here is Kerala.
Tudo o que quiser
(Everything you want)
Tem que entender
(You've got to understand)
Nas palmas da mão
(In the palms of the hand)
Se tiver porquê
(If there is a reason)
Frágil nessa terra
(Fragile in this land)
(Easy it fell)
Quando jogou fora
(When you threw it away)
Splattered by Doubletake, Doublethink. at 10:11 AM
Friday, May 2, 2008
It creates normal, unassuming human beings into egomaniacs on stage who have to get the better of the question marks. It promotes superciliousness, smugness and all other forms of general asshole-ness. It does not come with a warning sign that says “Addictive”. It got me Student Council posts in school that I didn’t want. It also gets me worked up.
Today the MP Birla Smarak Kosh Quiz took place. I have attended it for the past five years and it keeps getting better. The quizmaster, CP, always asks kindred questions (kindred questions being, of course, the ones we can answer) and Annesha and I were in the fourth row, two boisterous girls squirming in our seats at the terrible guesses being made onstage. We notched up our own points and won it in the audience, laughed more than we used to laugh onstage, and cursed the fact that we never got to participate in SK. And somewhere between it all I felt strange, because I’d never be at a quiz in my school uniform again.
Long ago before we became the cool kids who went festing, and long before people found out that all we did at the fests was quiz (and then we weren’t cool anymore), I was your average vegetable. Then someone sent me for a quiz with two people I absolutely detested. We bickered through the first quiz, guessed through the next, and then started winning. And then my teammates became my best friends. Then we realized we weren’t really quizzers. We knew nothing. We were there for the food packets.
We guessed, wildly. We laughed at our own guesses even more wildly. We thumped each others’ backs and created minor stage accidents with mineral water bottles and microphones when we found out the guesses were correct. And then our school, which had just woken up to the fact that a quiz club existed, decided that most of the good quizzes simply weren’t worth going to. So the metamorphosis happened – we became quiz spectators. We went to quizzes to watch them, and we yelled out answers from the audience, and grinned inanely when chocolates were thrown at us. As if they were roses. Encore. We applauded ourselves. Above all, we enjoyed ourselves more than when we were onstage.
But today I felt like Prufrock. There they were, kids in class ten and eleven, taller than me by almost two feet, and they got to be onstage. And here I was, five three or thereabouts, getting all excited because I knew that Oprah could recite Bible verses as a kid. Quizzing is the one thing I had to prove that my irrelevance mattered. I might not have been a good student, but my vagueness paid off. I could connect answers. I could identify paintings. It was the only place I got to be a know-it-all, and now I’ve passed out and can’t be superior when I’m afraid of getting ragged in college. School quizzes are fun and sporting. Open quizzing is ruthless, cold, and the only thing I have left, apart from college quizzing, which scares me now because, well, will the teammates laugh on stage if we make a stupid mistake? Will I get on a team at all?
And then we shuffled out amidst some patriotic programme outside Madhusudan Mancha where grotesquely costumed people were waving flags manically to "I love my India". Didn't improve my mood. To make it worse, I had to pass by my old para to collect some wayward mail, and the buildings were all newly painted in colours I couldn’t recognize. And then the old phuchkawala (he’s told me everything but his name) informed me that his son’s off to Amreeka. To be a phuchkawala there. And that made me feel terrible in the everyone’s-growing-up kind of way, and I walked into my house muttering darkly “Do you know what Dustin Hoffman’s mother called him when he was a kid?”
“No”, my mother said.
“Tootsie” I growled, and then started laughing hysterically. For a whole five minutes. Quizzing has been my bane and my crusade, and I never could figure out why I ran around school trying to get the team invited to quizzes when the organisers had no idea our school even existed. No one in school cared. We didn’t even win all that many. And I hate it. I hate it because it’s the closest I can get to being passionate about a sport. As a spectator and an ex-player.
Oh, and to top it all it seems I can no longer sit on the swings in the play area because there’s a sign there that says “Kebol Shishuder Jonno”
Excuse me while I go hit my head against the wall.
Splattered by Doubletake, Doublethink. at 7:01 AM
Saturday, April 5, 2008
I leave for Kerala in two hours. The reason I’m typing this out now is because the past one week I have been subjected to, in no particular order, a lot of shopping (which I detest), a lot of eating (which isn’t too bad), a lot of dancing (which I didn’t know I was capable of), a lot of socialising and goodbyes to people who are leaving (I malfunction in such situations), and the crowning glory – an underaged hulk of a boy throwing up all over my bathroom.
I cannot explain any of the above, I’m simply not in the mood. I’ve had to pack like a maniac, scamper all over the city and clean a smelly toilet, and now, finally, I get to run away for three weeks. On a train. It’s unhealthy the amount I like trains – not the cold, sleek Japanese variety, but the smokey grey kind, heavy with dust and passengers. I love the feeling of sitting on a swaying berth by a window, reading a book that will eventually drop into my lap, overshadowed by something outside – a field, a river, a long line of half-built houses. I love the fact that Kolkata to Chennai Central is a two-day journey in the belly of a giant centipede that crawls its way along, without realizing that inside it things are being shared. Food. Business cards. Stories. Memories.
When I was a kid, all I ever wanted was one of those large toy train tracks that you could assemble in your living room and watch a model train go round and round. Instead, I got jigsaw puzzles and Barbies and other fluffy things, with the result that I still visit sites dedicated to model trains. I drool over expensive Lionel train sets. I know they cost well over $1700 but I still dream of sitting in the middle of a big room, a huge remote control with shiny knobs in my hand, laughing insanely as a beautiful little train runs up and down sinous little tracks. I do not usually blow up the train at the end of the dream, so maybe I’m not that big a megalomaniac, or whatever the term is. I just want a train. And I love little Bertie Pollock in Alexander McCall Smith’s 44 Scotland Street series – he’s such a brilliantly written character. And he loves trains too.
I set out to write a post about Kerala, but somewhere along the trains came in and now they won’t leave. Did I mention railway tracks? They are the most beautiful things on the planet. Imagine yourself walking along one, slowly and aimlessly, right into the horizon where they converge. There is a mad precision to their symmetry. There is a purpose to their angles and lines. There is imperfection and ugliness in trains – they lurch, the bellow, they creak, they throw out nuts and bolts and other bric-a-brac, but they still manage to stay together. They’re a mad scientist’s dream. I can’t wait to get on one of them.
I know I’ve gushed all over this post, and am very unapologetic about it. My posts never turn out the way they should. Comfort yourself with the fact that I shall soon be in Kerala, being laughed at for my hideously colloquial Malayalam, the same Malayalam which in Calcutta makes my friends’ mouths fall open in a beautifully synchronized motion every time my mother calls. Here in Calcutta I’m a Southie. There in Kerala I’m a Southie betrayer because I speak better Bengali than Malayalam. So I don’t really belong anywhere in particular, except on trains. There you’re just another traveller, and that suits me perfectly.
Splattered by Doubletake, Doublethink. at 10:54 PM
Sunday, March 23, 2008
I've written two posts already and I'm typing again, and my glasses are hanging askew, and I don't know what has come over me. Ignore these, ignore everything. I need dinner right about now.
I'm changing my blogger password to something I won't remember. But how is that possible, is it possible to type something in while you're consciously trying to forget it? There, I've started again. I was feeling silly at first, and then I felt angry, and now I really, really wish I had something better to do than type this. But I don't. I'm feeling a little hysterical.
I need to go take a walk.
Splattered by Doubletake, Doublethink. at 11:03 AM
I hate it that I can't go to the king of my country and say, "Give me a fleet of ships and a horde of sailors, and I will sail to new lands and bring you back rubies and dried flowers." It is disheartening when you come from the country that was the hotbed of the spices and the rubies and the elephants and everything else. What can I bring back from the west, a burger? But we have that here too. I hate it that I can type "Spain" into Wikipedia and get a whole page about it, nothing is new and nothing is there to be discovered. No, I don't mean that, there is loads to be discovered but it has already been seen and commented on before, and you are in danger of hacking through undergrowth and coming across a little clearing populated by bearded loons who say they wanted to run away from the world too.
It isn't dangerous and you aren't pioneering anything by doing it, travel is now just a matter of taking breaks from work and doing things like family bonding, and you will never be sanctioned to go explore as much as possible - take my ships, bring me new ideas. If the sailors die, what of it, they were explorers. I hate it that there are no emperors today, just too many boundaries and too many permits, and airfares. Always the airfares.
Splattered by Doubletake, Doublethink. at 10:48 AM
I know looking fresh-flower beautiful is a prerequisite, but one can overlook that at times, can't one. I wish I was a Rajput princess married to a Mughal Emperor who tamed elephants. And that is not Jodhaa Akbar talking, I really think it would be nice. You aren't expected to give exams or have a career or handle life with a mobile phone where everyone's a call away. You need to communicate through scrolls. You are only expected to train as a warrior and look beautiful and wear iridescent clothes. Then you can get married off, Mughal emperor or not - no worries about never finding a man who will like you. And you can be a part of a harem where you'll be left alone if you make sure you're aloof and disdainful, and then you can pet bunnies in luxurious gardens for days on end. That would suit me, right about now.
And even if you don't train in the martial arts you can carry a catapult around and let fly that knoblike tikli thing on your head right into your opponent's eye.
I don't even know why I'm writing this.
Splattered by Doubletake, Doublethink. at 10:22 AM
Friday, March 21, 2008
I've had three baths already and my skin still has a greenish tinge. I'm hoping the world will assume that my body cells have started producing copious amounts of chlorophyll, but you know the world. It is gleefully malicious, and that is why most people will think I'm just nauseous. Or decomposing. Serves me right for liking the colour green so much.
Holi delights me. I don't have to spend on expensive firecrackers, I don't have to spend dreary hours shopping for a jewelled horror that passes of as a notun jaama, I don't have to pray. I just have to get out of my house and look like I'm terrified of colour (yes, I smirked at that. Terrified, hah.) and every little kid in the vicinity who has a pichkaari appears magically. I then have to pretend to run, and I know water balloons will come zooming in from all directions, landing here, there and everywhere with woeful plops that are most unimpressive for what are supposed to be lethal weapons. I finally act like a damsel in distress and say something equivalent to "Look at what you've done, you little twerps." and poof, I'm a part of the chameleon clique. I will be offered sympathies and free bottles of permanent colour, and I can spend the rest of the day stalking and attacking victims.
Crime was never this easy.
Which reminds me. One of my earliest posts was also about Holi, which means that my blog is about a year old. Did you ever think it possible. And the dashboard tells me I've managed about 55 posts. Did you ever think that possible. And since I can't be bothered finding out how old my blog actually is, I have decided that it is in tribute to the family tradition we have of being unsure about our birthdays. My grandparents never could figure out the Gregorian calendar, my father was registered as having two different birthdates on two different certificates (but then he grew up in Bihar and that is another story), and my mother - well, she was told that she was born on the day that she was born, and you know how gullible children are. As for me, I can't read a thing on my birth certificate (which, again, is sure to be a conspiracy of sorts. I can't be eighteen already). And most importantly, my zodiac still confuses me. It is befitting, therefore, that my blog not know when it was born.
But this means that my blog's now the equivalent of a one-year-old baby, and every parent knows that the period after this is when you regret ever having thought of the opposite sex. I, of course, don't have that luxury either, being the sole begetter of this creature. Which means I garner no sympathy whatsoever. I am a single mother who has fallen prey to artificial insemination without realising that there will be no father to blame everything on. And, consequently, no alimony either.
Frankenstein seems a more lovable book all of a sudden. Aaah! It's alive! It's alive! Oh God, it's alive! Yes.
And since I seem to have run out of things to write about - witness the fact that I wrote this post about birthdays and monsters - I'll go back to doing something more worthwhile, like staring at the ceiling. Happy Birthday, blog, and Happy Holi to the rest.
Splattered by Doubletake, Doublethink. at 9:26 AM
Monday, March 10, 2008
I can't help cursing Ad Libber, just a little, for tagging me with this. I'm terrible at introspection, and about as deep as a pencil-shaving, but I'll take a shot at this anyway. And I also don't know whom to tag, so if you want to rise from your seat after one trying hour, pale-faced and quivering-lipped, try this. You might want to supply yourself with a stimulant first.
Life Ten Years Ago:
In school my friends and I spent much time trying to gain control of the merry-go-round, which was usually occupied by very mean seniors. We came up with a rulebook for merry-go-round occupation, which didn’t get us onto it anyway, so we moved to the big tree at the center of the playground. We pretended it was an ancient murder site and wove wonderful whodunnits around it. Chewed-up chicken bones appeared regularly near the tree-roots, which we of course held to be the grisly remains of some long-dead soul. Neither forensic science nor our understanding of the universe was much advanced then, with the result that murders were more exciting.
Life Five Years Ago:
My mother decided to retire and become a homemaker, which was a disaster. I could no longer get away with a lot of things because suddenly she was all-pervasive, like God. Maybe that is when I started going off religion. I also had to deal with two very good friends moving away, which of course contributed more to my misery. If emo bands had existed then I would have used up half the city’s supply of kohl and black nail enamel.
Is life tomorrow. I may laze around all day, or discover a parallel universe, or clean my room finally, or set something on fire. The possibilities are what make it fun.
Five Locations I Would Love To Run Away To:
Oh no. Oh no. You do not ask me questions like this. All I've ever wanted to do is travel. But my top five more or less remains the same:
1) Iceland, with the geysers and the moon-landscape.
2) The Amazon, with the macaws and the spider monkeys.
3) Ladakh, because it’s Ladakh. Also Kailash-Mansarovar. Also the North-East. Anywhere in the Himalayas, basically.
4) The Silk Route: Samarkand. Istanbul. Merv. Zaytun. The Levant. What names.
5) Prince Edward Island. One can’t read Montgomery without hungering to see it.
Five Bad Habits I Have:
1) I procrastinate. More about this later.
2) I am very contradictory. I cannot possibly explain this, but I am.
3) I tend to stare at people a lot. I also laugh at inappropriate situations. Which is a roundabout way of saying I do not have very good manners.
4) I am also very distractible. I tend to get interested in too many different things at the same time, and always forget to do essential things like pack a bag or carry a wallet. I have also been known to get onto the wrong buses and end up in strange parts of the city, all because I was dreaming about something irrelevant.
5) I talk to myself. In public. All the time.
Five Things I Will Never Wear:
1) Nighties/Maxies/those things that look like maternity gowns.
2) Anything pink. Baby pink especially. Also fakely floral things.
3) Plastic hair clips.
4) Any garment that requires me to show off a bright bra strap. I find it a terrible turn-off and it’s very pointless anyway, you might as well not wear the top. Fashionable things are very ridiculous sometimes.
5) Roman tie-up sandals.
Five Biggest Joys At This Moment:
Nothing specific, I’m just in a phase where I’m feeling at peace with the universe because I don’t have another exam till the 25th, and there are some good movies and good books lying around, and dinner due in some time.
Something to Achieve By Next Year:
Must decide on whether tea or coffee is to be my major addiction. Since I do not live in Benaras I have ruled out paan.
Something that Impacted Me Last Year:
Getting my camera, my lovely sexy camera that makes the world look fabulous and glossy, after two years of cursing my earlier camera for conking out prematurely.
What I Will Miss About 2007
The last year of craziness with a bunch of idiots who have given me more than anyone else could. These guys got me through school and a lot of other things, and I will miss them without end and reason.
Five Things I Want To Do Before I Die
If I had my way, a company would employ me to travel and take photographs and write about the places I saw. It would pay me so much that I would retire at forty and write a book. It wouldn’t be a bestseller but would give me enough to build a tiny house in the mountains with an old-fashioned library. I’d then live there in peace with a great shaggy dog and listen to all the good music in the world. Also, somewhere along the way I’d fall in love. With a male human being, I mean. And then I’d die. I am very unambitious that way.
Splattered by Doubletake, Doublethink. at 9:04 AM
Wednesday, February 27, 2008
I woke up feeling so low I could have walked under a cockroach wearing a top hat (Wodehouse, I think). And then this happened.
I'd forgotten how much I loved biology when I studied it, and how many hours I used to spend glued to Animal Planet. I'd forgotten how much I loved my camera. I'd forgotten how beautifully my euphorbia plant flowers every winter, and I'd forgotten what a hornet looks like. Since my face was about ten inches from it when I took this, I'm glad I didn't remember.
But now I'm happy and listening to Nitin Sawhney. I could take on the Boards, an alien invasion and my neighbour's cranky dog all in one go. Photography always does this to me. And I know I'm blogging again - goes to show I have as much self-control as a herd of wildebeest on the Serengeti, I know - but I'm happy. In fact, to quote another one by Pelham Grenville, I feel so happy I could swallow a grape.
Splattered by Doubletake, Doublethink. at 7:03 AM
Tuesday, February 19, 2008
There comes a breathtaking, all-defying moment at some point or the other in every schoolgirl’s life – the point where she’s passed a much-worn tome covered in sorry-looking newspaper, quietly and surreptitiously under the desk so that the teacher won’t notice. The Moment comprises the quick taking-in of breath and the slow opening of the book, the glossing over of unimportant first chapters and the arrival at the much-thumbed page. And then the giggling. Always the giggling.
Most schoolgirls are around thirteen when this happens, I think, and the book is usually a Mills and Boon. Or at least it was when I was thirteen (I have long since passed that age and am now an ancient fossil, yes. You can stop smirking. This is a girlie post and I intend to finish it). And this was before we discovered all the other more explicit books that left nothing to the imagination but were somehow more disappointing, and grew expert at finding the page we were looking for with one expert flick. I remember the day my first Mills and Boon was passed to me, and I remember what I was doing at that very moment.
I was reading Gerald Durrell, and swatted the hallowed Tome of Girlhood away.
I never caught onto Mills and Boon, and I still consider it a shame more than an achievement – it robbed me of many hours of comradely discussion about the Perfect Man and everything related. I remember one of my friends asking me about my perfect man, and I remember the blank look on her face when I said “Mr. Rochester”. She hadn’t read Jane Eyre, and it was all the better that she didn’t find out I wanted a man who was beetle-browed, boorish, bigamous, burnt, blind and one-armed. Quite the hero.
And then came my Mills and Boons. They were written by a woman who lived in the 1950s and were about the 1800s. The people in the books spoke elaborately and wore magnificent clothes but contrived to get themselves into the most ridiculous situations. And oh, they were funny. Georgette Heyer, after LM Montgomery, was my salvation as far as all things romantic went. I am not trying to explain why I became obsessed with them, I have always liked history and maybe the idea of funny regency romances with very unlikely heroines caught on like a fever, but Georgette Heyer gave me something else. The Georgette Heyer Man.
The Georgette Heyer Man (GHM for short) is a tall, loose-limbed, cynic with unruly hair and quite unremarkable features except for a smile that transforms his face. And yes, the eyes. Usually a queer light grey, very bored, but with a sparkle that comes out with the smile. He is well-travelled and well-read, and about ten years older than the heroine. He is, by turns, a rake, a social outcast, a diffident aristocrat, a jaded Corinthian, a reluctant saviour – it doesn’t matter. The problem with the GHM is that he’s poison for a girl who routinely falls in love with literary characters, and if he enters her life at the right moment he can very easily make sure that the girl’s teenage years are wasted in daydreams about older men with careless demeanours and sardonic voices.
No, I am not making excuses for finding older men hot. I am not denying the hours wasted discussing love with other friends with Heyeritis. I am not making excuses for the fact that I have never liked anyone my age, but always someone older (and, er, younger). I am not justifying joining Facebook groups called “The Association for Girls in Love With Ageing Celebrities” and “Boys in books are just BETTER”. What I am trying to do is write my last blog post till the 29th of March, and devise a way to get as many comments here as possible, obviously. That is what blogs are for, and that is how evil and unscrupulous I am. I’ve been letting off sinister muahahhahaha laughs in my head all morning for no reason, so this will suffice.
Right then, I'm starting a meme (muahahhaha). Anyone who has ever fallen in love with her version of the GHM, I tag you. Write a post, it doesn't have to be very big, about that person – literary character, comic book hero, some guy in a movie, a random person you'll never meet – we’ll start a list that will probably never end. I get to go first.
Number One - Roald Dahl. Okay, so he’s not a literary character, but I just finished re-reading Boy and Going Solo, and I’m still boggled at the life he led. Spent his childhood holidays in his native Norway (Fjords! Islands! Northern Lights!), breezed through school, got a job with Shell at eighteen, left England on a ship and went into Africa looking for adventure, had his adventures, took some prize-winning photographs on the way, became an RAF pilot, crashed his plane in the desert, was injured, forced to retire, and then – then – he gave us The BFG and The Twits and Willy Wonka and Matilda, and actually dreamed up the Chocolate Factory. And then he wrote some of the best short stories I have read, from Skin to Henry Sugar to Lamb to the Slaughter. Currently, Roald Dahl is on my GHM list. In fact, if hip-hop didn’t baffle me so much, I’d call him Da Man.
Splattered by Doubletake, Doublethink. at 11:36 PM
Friday, February 15, 2008
This, fair reader, is for a theory in my psychology course that says that people cannot resist clicking on a link if they see one online.
This is not a link.
Okay, I lied. I spend way too much time on Uncyclopedia, which should give you an idea of what my life right now is like. But I just had to post this. You'll know why if you go see. I know you want to.
Oh yes, you do.
Splattered by Doubletake, Doublethink. at 6:26 AM
Friday, February 8, 2008
There is something very beautiful about a vegetable market during a power cut. Everything looks like it's out of a Renaissance masterpiece, especially the fruits. Perfect still life studies in mounds. And candle light manages to take away memories of flies and dirty currency notes, and the vendors are all little waxwork laughing buddhas with smiles of dark velvet.
And I am a different person, more sinister. Buying spinach acquires a new meaning, although it seems ridiculous now that I'm writing it, and voices and snatches of haggling hang like brushstrokes. Feathery and nice, in winter lighting of course.
It is only when I get home that I realise what the dim light does to clean toes and new chappals. How do you recognise a dimwit?
Splattered by Doubletake, Doublethink. at 6:49 AM
Saturday, January 26, 2008
I made myself a promise a long time ago.
Okay, cut the pompousness. It wasn’t long ago, and it wasn’t exactly a promise. It’s just that I didn’t want my blog to be an online diary where I posted everyday and went “I went and watched irrelevantmovie today, do go watch it, it has flatulentactorA and flatulentactorB who are doingthesamethingalloveragain.” I didn’t really know what I wanted from this web page – I’m not even sure it exists (I mean, I can’t feel it like I can touch solid paper, can I?). But I had a few things settled. No diaryness. No mention of friends and what they did and what I did. No gushing. No poetry. Perfectly simple rules, I thought.
All of which, of course, I have conveniently broken.
So I am here, here at the juncture where I have finished sticking my tongue out at the screen and started on another promise – I’m not going to make any more stupid rules. I am going to do pretty much what I like, and if I want to tell the world how many glasses of juice I had in the morning and how many pebbles I own in my collection, so be it. Juice and pebbles are, in their own sad little ways, extraordinary.
I’m in a proper temper today, typing out nothing in particular because I am well and truly annoyed. At everything. At the carpenters in each and every flat of my building who are slowly and insistently hammering a headache into my head, at my father who’s nagging at me to do something about my mess (on occasion it’s called a room) and at my mother who’s frying fish in the kitchen and coming in every two minutes to ask me, in a hopeful voice, whether I’ll eat it. No I won’t, dammit. I hate fish, and I don’t care if I die young with glazed marble-like eyes and bald patches all over my head. It seems to me a very stupid reason to eat fish because it makes your eyes and hair and skin and possibly even your earlobe stronger.
I’d rather eat chicken because it makes me feel good. But no, now that Aishwarya Rai’s married and Shah Rukh’s looking haggard and the whole Indianteam-Australianteam-acting-like-sissies catfight has blown over, the hens have to act pricey. When did it come to this? And to top it all, the washing machine’s rattling away like some blasted high-range machine gun, and my grandfather’s watching shrill Malayali videos on Asianet – the kind that have heroines running coyly away from the hero. Who, by the way, has a handlebar moustache and sunglasses. Very cool, I know, but he's also dancing around in a lungi and sandals.
And now I’m reminded of this time when I spent an entire afternoon watching He-Man on Alpha Telugu for no reason other than to hear “By the powers of Greyskull!! (thundersound)” being distorted into something quite unpronounceable. And I’m feeling even more annoyed because it was the most hilarious thing I've ever watched, and I’ve never been able to catch it again, try as I might. And the last time I checked the channel wasn’t even there.
I would have thrown up my hands in despair and done something drastic by now, maybe written some deepdarkmorbidpoetry even, but I can’t because it’s deliciously cold and I can’t feel morbid when my one regular wish – that Kolkata would be cold enough to wear a pullover all day – has come true. I hope it gets colder, and I hope I have to resort to wearing socks all day next. And now I’m annoyed because I’ve stopped feeling annoyed, because ranting sometimes is so easy and so gratifying, because I’m so fickle that I can’t even brood. Where does that get me as a romantic heroine? Gah.
Sunday mornings, I tell you. Very overrated. No matter how cheerful you are, one Sunday morning always comes along and throws you into a feeling of niggling exasperation, like an itch that you get sometimes - you know it's there, but you don't know what part of your body it's on because at that moment almost all your body is tingling with some sort of vague distaste. For itches, for fish, for bloody Sundays everywhere.
The only thing I have working in my favour today is that Djokovic will be playing Tsonga in another two hours or so, in what should be an engaging match, and tennis is always a balm for all ruffled feelings. And now that the washing machine’s stopped making my house sound like a minefield, I think I shall venture out of my mess. And tell my mother, very firmly, that I will not eat the fish, even though I know she’ll surreptitiously try to slide it onto my plate when she thinks I’m not noticing. I don’t blame her; I’m usually shoveling food down my throat with my nose in a book. Oh yes, book. Must finish book, must start other book.
Good. And maybe I’ll stop wondering why you are still reading this, and go for a walk now. Which reminds me, you are now witness to the fact that after I have publicly declared to do whatever I want and gush about anything if I feel like it, my next post will most likely be about nothing all over again, which makes the whole point of this post so superfluous that I’m ashamed of writing so much for nothing, but I’m going to post it anyway to prove that I am now going to write about anything. I am like that only.
Splattered by Doubletake, Doublethink. at 9:42 PM
Monday, January 21, 2008
When you walk down Southern Avenue in the summer the Gulmohar trees are in flower, and there are fiery blossoms everywhere. You recall old lyrics from songs – mostly Gulzar – and realise that you’re wading through a stream of molten lava, with little sparks falling onto your cheek. You lose track of time, trying to locate each blossom as it wafts through the branches, and it is so easy and so necessary that suddenly you can disregard everything else. The various vendors you can overlook, the cigarette sellers and paanwallahs cease to exist. The breaks in the footpath are mere annoyances that you have to cross as quickly as possible, holding on to the memory of the footpath that left off a few seconds ago so that you can bring it out and sew it up with the footpath that now begins again. You create an uninterrupted little motion picture of glowing orange and red, and give yourself the starring role.
Vivekananda Park is now but a field of lovers and football matches and shady characters with shady smoke hanging about them; they matter not. Even the prim, fortress-like building with the mysterious signboard that declares (very quietly, in two languages) that it is the Polish Consulate loses its charm. It is in the sudden wetness of the cloth sticking to your back that the magic lies; it is with the hasty breeze hitting the nape of your neck that the Gulmohars fall.
In summer Southern Avenue is a name so mundane that it shrieks to be re-christened. You call it Flameflower Street, and get out of the house early so that you can walk slowly and aimlessly to art class – it seems the right thing to do, to walk down a blazing street and into a room with a canvas waiting to be coloured. Every time you walk a little slower. And you keep promising yourself, every summer, that you will spend an entire afternoon there with just your camera and the truant breezes for company.
But it is only in barren winter that promises are remembered. Which is why you are writing this – there are three months till summer, and your memory isn’t clockwork, and you hope that you will remember it. And that maybe someone will remind you.
Splattered by Doubletake, Doublethink. at 9:38 PM
Sunday, January 6, 2008
Anyway, let us proceed to the obligatory analysis of the year gone past.
Great Event Number One: I lost weight. Yes, you may start rolling your eyes and rebuke my Bridget Jonesness, but anyone who understands the nature of the relationship I share with food will sign me up for a Nobel when they think of what I achieved. I think the great de-fattening started when my father, with a most unloving look in his eye, called me a skittle. A skittle, I tell you.
Great Event Number Two: My parents, conveniently overlooking the fact that I would be going to college in a while and would therefore need their hard-earned money to get myself a degree, bought an apartment. I maintained a cold silence through most of the gushing descriptions of the locale, the dimensions and the floor space, mainly because I couldn’t understand a thing. I think I may be forgiven for resembling an overfed slug when confronted with statements like “It’s six by eight. Three by four windows. Plan C. The real estate guy said it would go for thirty-oh in four years.”
What I could make out from the flat was that it was too new to be loved, too angular to be comfortable, and too far away from my local superhero, the phuchkawallah. Grownups rarely understand why phuchkas are potentially life-saving pieces of paradise, and so we moved. It was rather fun, mainly because we had no idea how to pack. I began to read certain parts of Three Men in a Boat for inspiration – they packed like professionals compared to us.
Now you know why my hair has remained long since I was ten or so.
You think I'm paranoid, but I just know that they're spraying some toxin at me when they pretend to wet my hair.
Great Event Number Four: The Boards. Here is why they are a Big Event. I hate having things forced on me. All my life I had this pact with my parents – my report card shows no red marks, and I do what I want with my time. I stuck to it, and managed sunnily, till these two people I thought were human morphed into epitomes of Responsibility and started telling me in very grave tones why my final exams were the Deciding Factor. Deciding Factor for what, I asked. Everything, it turned out.
If the creatures-who-used-to-be-my-parents and my teachers are to be believed, I shall have to go underground, change my name and get plastic surgery performed if this Big Event turns out wrong. Everyone around me seems to be getting The Talk too, but it doesn’t seem to help for the simple reason that it has struck all of us with a lethargy for any kind of goal-fulfilling. We are now the tragic results of reverse psychology.
The running is metaphorical, of course: I cannot run. Now the yell is a different matter altogether.
So there it is. Four Great Events that, now I come to think of it, did not stand out as defining parts of 2007 at all. There were so many other small, magical Little Events that made all the difference in the world, but that is not why New Year Posts exist. A blog sometimes is so fulfilling. You can be incorrigibly random and get away with it, because no one knows your account password. I feel almost ready to take on a haircut now. No, make that a New Year.
Splattered by Doubletake, Doublethink. at 6:32 AM
Thursday, January 3, 2008
I have a wonderful bit of writing in my head. It just refuses to get written. I wanted to write a year-end post but it refused to evolve. I wanted to write a New Year post but it won't come out - I know nothing about making a year work in my favour, so I'll just look the other way and hope to hell I get through to December as unobtrusively as possible.
Also I've finally got my hands on The Unwaba Revelations by Samit Basu. and I know I shall read it day in and day out till I find out what happens to Kirin. Then I shall agonise about not having a real-life Kirin around me. The problem with reading books is that I fall in love with too many literary characters, which is why the real world refuses to acknowledge that I can function as a part of it. Sometimes.
Also, I have exams again. My school seems to produce exam after exam faster than Angelina Jolie adopts children. It doesn't help that I just watched Taare Zameen Par, and all I want to do now is turn my nose up at education and run away to Bombay and help Aamir Khan make movies. But I have the Boards, which still bewilder me so much that I will simply shut up. Board Exams do not deserve a mention on my hallowed green blog.
Of course, I shall whine to the night. But that is between the night and me.
Splattered by Doubletake, Doublethink. at 5:38 AM