27 January, 2008

Rape of the Senses Part II

The women of the house were away. The man and the girls were to fend for themselves. :O It was kalyug indeed. And a fearful one at that. The women had left reluctantly, fearing to find their family emaciated and ravenous on their return. The man was fearful of what he was going to have to put in his mouth the following week. He had suffered the onslaught of the girls' previous cullinary experiments with feigned bravado. The mere thought of a rerun made his taste buds curl in retaliation.


The girls themselves were scared of the daunting task ahead of them. Three meals a day! All edible, at least to some extent. Breakfast was easy, rustle up a few fruits, bread and cheese and some milk. That couldn't be Herculean. Little did they know. The milk boiled over ofcourse. The cheese was the one thing the women had told them to buy. With nothing to serve the bread with, they plastered some jam onto the on-the-verge-of-cinder slices. Didn't they know the man didn't eat jam?

"Come on who doesn't eat jam?" exclaimed Girl 1.

"I don't", replied Girl 2. Gaah.

The bigger meals came and disappeared with more significant mishaps, ruinous remains of perfectly innocent gobhis and baigans, and two harried souls. The man smiled amusedly at the antics in the kitchen: shrieks of horror, oh-my-gods, sighs of relief, blame games, tasting sessions followed by lengthy comments and advice on how to save the meal at hand. There were heated arguments at every stage of the process. Should the beans be cut into one inch cylinders or one centimeter cylinders? The units were crucial. Should we cook in oil or ghee? Now that we have too much water in the rice, should we just drain it off or keep it on the fire and let it dry up? See I told you we shold drain it, now the rice is all gooey. Hey we could turn it into kheer. Ya sure. The daal has been pressure cookered beyond recognition. Do you think the man will notice? And thus went on the tirade of whose question is more calamitous and thus elicits an immediate response.

Anyway.

If the cauliflower was put in the middle it would've actually looked like the tricolour. Interesting. The award for finest artistic chopping of coloured cubes goes to Girl 1. Girl 2 was busy getting mesmerized by the colours.

Cooking is a colourful activity. A rape of the senses. Pour in the oil. Watch it make designs on the bottom of the pan. Let it heat. A handful of mustard seeds get thrown in, sputtering in delight to be reunited with their long lost cholestrolic friend (reminiscint of the relationship Q shares with U in a game of Scrabble). The chishhhh sound as you empty out the cabbage into the pot. The smell of its wholesome greenery simmering over the now quiet mustard seeds. The yellow and red powders sprinkled in generous abandon. Adding colour, tingling in their hued flavours. A cook is a magician at work. Hands work tirelessly - sometimes with lazy precision, sometimes in hasty circles; slicing, grating, creating, redoing. A spoon is lifted to the mouth. You taste your concoction. The broth needs tang your mind says. The smells urge your nose to have an opinion. You smile, you frown, you wonder and make-up. You prompt, you pre empt.

A week later the girls were found with their legs propped up gorging on humungous pizzas. Ordered ofcourse.

23 January, 2008

Confused Concern

Friends are very worried. Foes disguised as friends are enacting the oh-we-are-so-concerned act. Foes have a smug smile plastered across their faces. Shrug shrug go my shoulders. Our minds have a weird way of poking their noses into other people's affairs. Unsolicited advice is meted out with passionate fervour. Opinions are imposed in various hues, some more distasteful than others. Some people crave for attention. Others shy away from it. I have often swung from unassuming agony aunt to reluctant solicitor to cocooned loner with astonishing ease.

And I would have stayed up with you all night
Had I known how to save a life

And then amidst the noise, the worried glances, the oft-repeated words, I find my strongest perceptions disintegrate. Solace from an utterly surprising somewhere walks up shrouded in a cloak of normalcy. I look in amazement at my naivety. How did I miss it before? Sometimes people closest are far away. Were they where I thought they were? Certainly not. I am wrong. Again.

Categorizing people into slots only disorganizes things. And then the people fartherest work their way towards me in inexplicable ways. They don't know how they help. I speak of mundane things and the days seem brighter than sunshine. Unheard thoughts make themselves felt. Relying on someone I don't know. Giving up on people I thought I did. Confiding. Confidently. Confusedly. Concernedly.

I am toffee stuck and tongue tied
stutter shook and uptight

You don't have to be in love to find the moon beautiful. Chocolate tastes better when gooey. You don't need to see me when all I want to be is heard. Listen to me when I don't speak. I would scald my tongue over hot soup in a pyjama with you than sip the wine over there. And I actually thought you knew that. I really did. So much for talking about forevers and comfortable silences.

It would make me believe
what tomorrow could bring
When today doesn't really know

16 January, 2008

Rasmai Ramble II

Last weekend I found myself speeding off towards another few days of bliss, to my village - Rasmai - this time surrounded by lots of friends, inane jokes, food enough to feed an army and the kind of cheer that would lift even a Marvin's mood.

Starting off two hours later than the scheduled departure, we were clamouring for food very soon. Seven ravenous souls began the scout for the "perfect dhaba".

"Who wants to eat what?"
"Paranthas!!!"
"Which kind?"
"Aaloo"
"Gobhi"
"No way, mooli"
"Mooli?"
"Yup"
"Wow. Mooli."
"Mooli?" Guffaw. Guffaw. "We'll have a ' windy' day indeed."
"We can run this car on the CNG (completely natural gas) you will spew out."
And then began the mooli fart jokes which sustained us longer than the paranthas themselves.

As we drove towards Mathura, the skyline presented itself to me in its characteristic urbane flamboyance. What caught my eye was the fact that the only shapes I could distinctly recognize were temples and towers. Temples, their spires yearning to touch the heavens, the mobile and tv towers looming larger than everything else. The new and the old. Not competing, just co-existing side by side.

Then we turned left towards Vrindavan, the holy land of Krishna, the prankster, the lover, the philosopher, the flute player, the blue-skinned god. Discarding our shoes and socks in the car we hurried out to Baanke Bihari - one of the most reverred of temples, the holiest of the holy, which houses baanke (crooked) bihari (Krishna). It is said there are two crowns on the idol because if you look closely, you can see Radha and Krishna in it. I nonchalantly let that piece of trivia fall past me unheeded. Stories just make the temples more alluring, the idols more mystical, the faith more sacrosanct. And then suddenly the crowds around us broke out in a cheer. The doors had opened. The aarti was beginning. The bells were clamouring to be heard. Three women near me hugged each other, tears streaming down their faces. "We have seen the lord,"they cried. The man in front of me began clapping loudly, in time with the chanting rising from all around. I marvelled at the spectacle unfolding around me. It was surreal, the drunken devotion, the ecstatic upheaval of spirits, the collective joy. Then as if by magic it all stopped. The aarti was over. Silence shrouded us all. The pandit came out and showered holy water on the crowd. Again and again the cool scented water fell over me. My eyes were dry and yet my face all drenched. Someone close by exclaimed with conviction - "Hamare paap dhul gaye." I wondered. Was it so easy? At least the exclaimer believed so. Wouldn't it be easier to be able to believe like him? I licked off a drop of the water. It was sweet and flavoured with tulsi, sandal and rose. I liked to believe it would wash away my sins. And for a nanosecond I convinced my filthy soul it did.

The guide (who had irritatingly latched himself onto us for a sum of Rs. 20) hooshed us out of the temple and started us on a crazy Vrindavan tour. We pranced in Nidhi Van known for its weird trees which grow horizontally (this being attributed to the fact that they prefer to be in close touch with the dust the Lord walked upon). We met animals in varied stages of health/age/life etc. Being puppy season there were bunches of fluff visible everywhere, little piglets ran after mama pig in the gutter, a calf stood in the corner chewing on its tail, some crows swooped down to feed on a ladoo.



This is not as brown a picture as the first glimpse may make you believe. Look at the very inquisitive dog on the far right. There is one of those very heavy quilts (you know they are actually bought by the kilo!!) sunning itself on the roof of the chai stall. The puppies are deciding whether the fen I am about to offer them is worth waking up for. The dog in the foreground is curled up in feigned nonchalance (Feigned because if this was a video, you would see him eating all the stuff and chewing on my fingers). The men are straining to watch what a bratty city kid in her nightsuit is doing. The cross-legged girl on the charpai is carefully looking at her pink dress. And the drops of water on the mud on the right actually came out of mufflered man on the right a few seconds ago.

The twenty-ruppee guide was of course way smarter than us, urging us to pay "financial" homage to his dear gods at every temple. Interestingly, Nelly had been singing "Must be the Money" on my phone just a while ago. An hour later of walking on every stone on every narrow street Krishna might have as much as laid a piece of his toe on, we plopped ourselves into the able hands of ISCKON and their heavenly food.

Afternoon stole upon us in its characteristic lethargic way and we dozed off in no time. I had just begun drifting through fluffy clouds, each of which had its own set of very strange dogs who could speak in Russian (weird) which I could understand (weirder), when the driver woke us up. He was confronted with THE problem: a fork in the road. Everyone looked expectantly towards Didi and me. Afterall we were going to OUR village, where we had spent EVERY winter break and MOST summer ones too. Sheepish looks stole over our faces. We were living upto the reputation of the female fraternity's mental retardation when it came to directions/maps/roads. "We can ask someone for the way out of Mathura, after THAT we can direct you."

"Groan. Oh Gawd. Will we ever reach? Baah.Other uninviting grunts and moans."

However, much to everyone's surprise and relief, we DID reach the village. And one and a half days later, we found ourselves weaving our way back through Delhi's incorrigible traffic. Overkill was playing this time. It drowned away the horns and the thoughts.


10 January, 2008

Big Bad Belated Bash

Cleanse me
wash me
within
without

There are these strings of days when you feel low and morose, depressed beyond every imaginable abyss, people seem inconsequential and excessively irritating and the sun looks old. And that too for no plausible reason. Everything in your life is going right, smoothly, no road blocks, not a hiccup, not even a murmur. And yet, there is a numbing silence. I think the sorrow of the mind is definately more painful than that of the heart.

You of course choose to disagree. But I'm used to that. I ask you the colour of your dreams. You smirk away and shake your head in that exasperating slow manner reserved for little children and puppies who just chewed up the remote. Ketchup or mustard? You laughed hard enough to pee just a little. I vehemently believe that solitude keeps me happiest. Its true. People are an enjoyable break between stretches of silent monologues. You tell me I remind you more of a smudgy little boy than a grown up girl. Disbelief blazes through you. I choose to turn away. Certainly not to offer the other cheek.

How many roads must one walk down?
One too many.

08 January, 2008

So much for my happy ending

Listless thoughts pranced across her sore mind
they ran themselves threadbare
she stifled a bored yawn
Oh really?
windblown she stood
as torrid thoughts skittered
she smiled at their naiveity
you're running away with your imagination
yet again
but this once
a shrug played her mouth into a smirk
she kicked a stone
ran her fingers over a shaggy patched coat
the demons screamed
no more will you
no more should you
no more will she let you

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