28 August, 2008

Happily ever after is a state of mind

"I had been meaning to ask you to do something. Please, next time you decide to post something on the blog, write some fiction. Something ideal, like stuff is meant to be. Like the way it should be but never is. It is okay if there is a sting in the tail. For your readers would want that. I want to read something like that. I f you oblige me this one time, I shall be greatly honored."

You tell me to write about something ideal, the perfect way things are meant to be. I wracked my brains and all I drew was a blank. It sounded something like this:

He was nothing if not arrogant. She couldn’t walk without a frown. And with a black cloud of anger hovering above her, he would have been wise to stay out of her way. But when you’re 21 and you don’t have anything particular to do, wisdom is certainly not what’s on your mind.

He suppressed a smirk as she walked in front of him in short angry steps, her bag clutched tightly under one arm. Her hair was tied in a fierce little pony tail and way too many clips tamed the curls that could have (should have?) crowned her face. He followed at a leisurely pace behind her, imagining the amount of energy she was needlessly expending by the way she hurried along. He, on the other hand, took one long half-hearted stride for three of hers.

He reached the bus stop. The bus screeched to a halt - a few paces away. Before he could blink, it was moving again. Three hops and a little running and he found himself aboard, just about hanging onto the door, a foot still dangling outside. The bus was so packed that breathing was a chore. The conductor was incessantly hitting the window with a coin, the ugly noise rising above the general humdrum of the people. As he fished out some change for the ticket, he sensed a commotion somewhere ahead.

A voice was talking, quite calmly, though if you listened closely, the undertones of disgust were ill-disguised. He listened and the sheer absurdity of what was being said made him bend forward to see who it was. He couldn’t help smiling when he saw it was the same Martian who had been furiously pacing before him, minutes ago. He saw her move towards him, shoving at people as she tried to reach the conductor. She had to stand on her toes to reach a handle to hold onto as the bus swerved in its characteristic reckless manner. She stretched out to hand over the money for a ticket, breathing in short exasperated puffs. As the bus stopped for the umpteenth time, another sea of people surged through its airless confines.

He was involuntarily pushed towards her, pressed against her contours, even as he tried to hold onto whatever space he had. In her hair there were five clips. Three black, two green. Her bag was falling off her shoulder while her dupatta draped itself over his hand. Suddenly he felt protective of her. A weird urge to shield this little warrior against the humanity that was swirling around them came over him. To cocoon her from whatever she needed cocooning from. As he tried to deconstruct this extremely unsettling line of thought, she turned around fuming. Icily, she looked straight at him and then said to the conductor, “This boy is trying to be funny with me. Could you please tell him to move away?” Under her breathe she added, “God knows where such people come from. Frustrated ass”.

He couldn’t believe he had felt any kind of anything for this witch of a girl. What a self-obsessed false accusation! What a nasty little pompous thing. Couldn’t she see the people in the bus? What a snotty little twerp. Telling tales to the conductor for godsake? He knew if he said anything he’d be pushed off the bus. Women empowerment was way off the line when it came to buses. He knew not saying anything would not go down too well with his ego. So he gave her his famous glare, looked at her like she was an insignificant ant, which he really thought she was and with a lot of effort, plugged on his earphones in an attempt to ignore her.

After getting her ticket she moved towards the front of the bus, mowing down a lot of people in the process. When she finally got off, he breathed in and out, scowling at her back as she resumed her ridiculous walk to a place he hoped was prepared for the idiocy she carried like an aura.

That was their first meeting. I’d call it ideal. By Bollywood standards at least.

24 August, 2008

Painting shainting

The painters are here. The who? The painters? In our house? Which hasn't got painted ever since its inception? Something is definitely on. But whether you believe it or not, the painters are here. In all their glory. Paints and brushes. Varnish and putty. Something called primer and masking tape. With the Man and Girl 1 out galavanting in Kerala and Brisbane respectively, the woman and Girl 2 are left to hold forte. We the two sillies. To manage hordes of paint-splattered varnishy men. To listen to the rotund, jovial Mr. Rawat who has verbal diarrhea and has adopted us as his sisters. I can safely say that I know all about him and his Punjabi clients in Dwarka sector 9 and their spoilt hot-pants wearing smokes-like-a-chimney daughter, the political intricacies of the Asian Paints hierarchy, the inflation in paint prices, the difference between Bihari and Rajasthani labourers, why he has kept a Janmashtmi fast etc etc etc. Then we have to bear the MBA girls, the surveyors. They'll stride around with their files and heels, knocking at walls, sipping at the water, nodding in a manner they think is comforting. The poor painters stiffen up, fervently trying to look sufficiently busy and dusty. The kitchen contractor arrives just when we sit down the lunch, the carpenter wants a day off, the kabadi wala doesn't have money, the maid is thorwing tantrums.

And this is all before I actually recovered from a very action-packed work/holiday/I don't know what to call it trip. Before I could unpack (which implies I am still living out of my rucksack). Before I could catch up on all my sleep.

Cribbing about not having a bed, not finding my slippers or a working pen or a nailcutter or a comb, drinking water which smells a lot like something that is gracing my newly painted door, having unknown men trudge into the house any time of the day. Yes that sums up my existence. So we decided to break the cycle. To shake off the paint and the fatigue. We set off for a shopping spree and a dinner.

We waited for a table for as long as it takes for the mere pet mein choohe kood rahe hain chappies to faint in fatigue. Ofcourse we ordered way too much for two people and got slightly tipsy on our breezers (I am too tired to figure out how we managed that). There was a highlighted hair tip top body squeezing suit wearing aunty on the next table complete with paunchy moustache mouse-like uncle and spoilt I want king prawn only waaaaaa beta in tow. Both the adults were on the phone throughout their meal (why did they have to come to a restaurant if they had to talk on the phone? Defies logic if you ask me) and the son made disturbingly frequent trips to the loo. Anyway we had a hearty meal and naturally forgot to avail of the 30% discount coupons which had made us choose the place in the first place :

And then people pester me about not blogging/mailing/phoning (EGAD!!!)/socializing/blah blah. I am an excessively disoriented/disorganized/confused person these days. Someone's got to understand that.

17 August, 2008

Awwwwww _ _ _

I had been causing him excessive mental exertion, holding him hostage to a phone conversation he didn't want to be a part of, moaning about my physical exhaustion and discussing weird gastroenteric abnormalities. In my defence I was in this never ending journey [Leh to Delhi - don't ask how/why I was in Leh...recounting a month and a half of excessive activity (new job, travel travel travel, work, office gossip, new sights and people) is too much even for me]. And he is such a bully-able person that its infinitely amusing to bug him.

So here I was in an HRTC bus (Himachal Road Transport Corporation)...no not the recline-on-your-seat-watch-a-bad-print-ka-movie Volvos, I had the luxury of inhabiting the rickety squeaky khatara kind which vibrate in an obscene manner anytime the speedometer hits anything above 30, the kind you certainly don't want to be in when you've just learnt that your innocent little journey of 11 hours has metamorphosed into a 26 hour monstrosity. The interesting thing was I was sitting with a Spaniard (heh heh heh) - who nearly reached the roof of the bus - mere mortals like me barely reached his little toe. He turned out to be a diver (wow), photographer (yum) and ship propeller cleaner (there are such jobs?). He found my English "grand" (I swear it sounded sweeter in his toe-curling accent), the Bikaner peanuts "too spicey - you people are very brave to eat so many many chilly" and Dairymilk "mmmmm". And and and he was a MAJOR animal lover. I shall call him D.

In spite of all the stops and potholes, the cramped backs and squished toes, the inexcusably bratty kids and wailing infants, the decked up bride, who, it was a miracle wasn't baked in her sequined saree, the boy-man who couldn't stop playing "do you wanna partner" on loudspeaker on his phone, the journey wasn't a complete disaster. I guess it was the utterly challenging and entertaining task of carrying on two utterly opposite conversations that did the trick:

1) Describing D telephonically to my now very alert fone frand in very unflattering Hindi so that D wouldn't understand I was talking about him. "Woh bahut lamba hai. Topi bhi pehni hai. Lambe baal hain. Daadi bhi hai. Haan haan baal kaatwaane chahiye."

2) "Chandi (that's the best the Spaniard could pronounce my name) you really talk a lot on the phone. You have the pink pathera (pathera!!!) as your wallpaper. You must like animals a lot." How can you keep a straight face to that?

And so after a harrowing 26 hours I was ushered into Dilli sheher by the welcoming odour of the landfills near ISBT. Trust me at 6 am, you don't want your exhausted senses to be plundered by smells of that excrutiating intensity. I lugged my the as-tall-as-I rucksack to an autowalla. Suddenly I was engulfed in a pair of very long arms. The Spaniard was giving the dishevelled girl a bone-crushing hug. Sudden acts of unbridled affection can really throw you off balance. Especially when you havn't bathed for 3 days and someone who you thought didn't know you were a skunk in disguise suddenly hugs you. Sitting in the auto with the already stale air of Delhi hitting my tired eyes all I could think of was the number of times I'd felt too shy to hug people that I'd wanted to. Trust a stranger to put things into perspective. The not-a-stranger fone frand was informed that I'd touched still ground. I like to imagine that he sighed in relief.

In short I'm back. Not with a bang. Ok in a huff and a phew if you insist on sounds.

11 August, 2008


That two colours could wreck such havoc on my senses I had not imagined. Mountains of rock and soil - daunting and stark. Stones jutting out like unpolished jewels frightfully large and unsheathed. The sky a blameless blue - so piercing it wills you to lower your eyes. Like how you find it unnerving to stare into a pair of absolutely honest eyes.

The night is so black
without its moon
it grimaces at me
so surly so silent
the stars seem unsure, brighter by contrast
sparkling as if in uncertain anger
forlorn without their battered leader?
jubiliant in their newfound freedom?
The milky way - hazy about its existence
sings a faraway lullaby
The breeze is cold - chiding a lone skyseeker
Hush, sleep tonight.

Part of a Mane wall in village Saboo, Central Leh. Mane are the stones on which sacred lines from Buddhism are written in the Bhoti script.


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