October 13, 2012
September 03, 2012
June 28, 2012
May 20, 2012
May 09, 2012
April 02, 2012
We’ve all been the age when present actions and long and short-term consequences do not seem to have a direct correlation. Try convincing a six-year old that because she’s going to bed without brushing her teeth tonight, in a few years her tooth will break off and she’ll pay a fortune to have it fixed in an emergency. Life doesn’t work that way when you’re a kid.
We’ll all, well many of us, will be the age when our mental playlist is an endless loop of things that should have been, decisions we ought to have made differently, and choices we would have made had we known better… If I had a penny for every time I hear people say “I didn’t know better then,” I’d have paid off that dentist’s bill without feeling a pinch!
And then there’s the difficult bit. The being 30 (ok 30+) and making decisions… the really big ones… knowing that there will be consequences, and knowing that when you’re blaming you past self for your bungled up life tomorrow, you’re very likely to remember that you knew full well what you’re getting into. You could not have seen into the future, but you could have made some very good guesses.
Dear past self: I’m glad you had some fun, and it wouldn’t have hurt to have had a little less of it. But it’s ok, you didn’t know better.
Dear future self: YOU knew better all along. Stop that whining.
March 30, 2012
About 50 tourists crowded around the bus door, trying to get a seat on the bus for the ride from the airport into town. The driver told them the ticket-punching machine on the bus was broken, so they needed to use the one at the bus stop. After punching two tickets, the other machine also sputtered and died. Like lost pigeons, they turned their heads back to the driver with blank expressions. He shrugged, walked up to the machine on the bus stop, gave it five tight slaps and a good shaking, dislodged about a gazillion bits of paper from it, and then took one passenger’s ticket and punched it successfully.
Italy. India. Same difference.
February 29, 2012
Her toes tucked under his leg, his foot resting on the ugliest coffee table in the universe, and only the intermittent sound of flipping pages breaking the silence of their comfortable companionship…
Suddenly, his heart racing, he put down his book, turned to her, put her book down as well, and removed her spectacles. Unaccustomed to romantic outbursts, she waited with bated breath for his next move.
“Multiply 17 by 24” he said, a manic excitement in his voice. “Do it in your head!”
Now THIS was the kind of romance she had come to expect after five years of marriage. She started crunching the numbers in her head. He gazed into her eyes with the passion of either a psychopath or a scientist, or perhaps both.
“It’s TRUE! Your pupils! They’re dilating when you’re straining your brain!” he shrieked, pointing at the book.
She had to see it for herself, of course. So off came his spectacles, 15 was multiplied by 27 in his head, and his pupils dilated to her satisfaction.
With their spectacles back on, they resumed their reading, and lived in considerable happiness for a fair number of days in the future.
February 12, 2012
has my husband’s name
on a blue tag
The small blue case
has his parents’ address
on its face
The brown one unlocks
with the address
where I grew up in frocks
Every now then we do this little dance
Going home to home, and back home
For the benefit of KLM and Air France
The carousel goes round and round
Till my luggage, and I, are found
December 30, 2011
More than anything, you sat me down and taught me all the things I am not, and forced me to confront the facts and deal with them. You gave me hours and hours to come to terms with myself, and though I used many of them to watch TV series and movies and read books, I think we made some major progress!
Oy yaar 2011! You made the husband start eating eggs, and have got me living off the poor guy’s salary while he feels a wee bit sad about the discomfort I feel in doing so! Tu pehle kyun nahin aaya 2011? Anyway, now please do proper knowledge transfer to 2012 about how to treat me. Thanks. Have fun wherever past years go to rest, and don't believe anything 2004 says about me.
December 17, 2011
If you could be ANY TWO of three things: healthy, wealthy and wise, which would you choose and why? The one you choose not to have will not become available to you via the presence of the other two: for instance, as a wise, healthy person you will not find a smart way to make money. Also, the one you don’t choose cannot take away the ones you HAVE. If you choose to be a rich but unhealthy person, your medical bills won’t ruin you financially.
So think about it and choose two and tell me why you chose them.
My choices would be to be healthy and wealthy. My simple reason: If I ignore health, as a wise and wealthy person, I’ll wish I had the ability to do something with my assets, and I’d always have a nagging sadness at the back of my mind. As a healthy and wise person, the sorrow would be a little less, but whenever I’d see a financial roadblock on my path to further wisdom and health, I’d be irritated. As a rich and healthy fool, I wouldn’t have the wisdom to miss wisdom, and if I saw a wise person who was either sick or poor, I’d toss my fabulous hair, pull my Burberry coat a little closer and say: “Poor geek!”
P.S: You’d think there would be a great deal of stigma attached to NOT choosing wisdom. You’d be right. However, I won’t judge you, I promise. I already traded my sound judgment for hotness and an apartment in London.
December 03, 2011
So the reason I’ve been away is that I’ve had a considerably tough time adapting to my new life. It’s not homesickness, it’s mostly the horrifying Dutch job market, and the realization that there is very likely no place for a person of my ethnicity and professional background here in the current economic scenario. It has been very difficult to accept that I shall not be conventionally employed for the foreseeable future, that I will have to choose between travelling on a whim and taking expensive Dutch lessons, and that even if I learn Dutch, it will be time to leave before I can reach a level of proficiency that enables me to put it to use gainfully. All this left me quite sad, my self-confidence shattered to bits (and not only because my neighbors used to ask me in the lift if I was a cleaning lady when we first moved in,) and it did not help that my only friend was a cat who liked to rub her face on my leather shoes.
I did not know I was such a people person. My mother thinks I permanently have a cold, because I clear my throat each time I start speaking to her on chat. That’s because my voice kind of goes away because of not having been used for the last six hours, and I have to cough it back into existence! Those who know me will vouch for my constant jabbering and I kind of miss my nightly jaw pain from spewing nonstop nonsense. This silence is a huge change, and has taken some getting used to.
However, as fog envelops my new home, the internal fog has lifted. I have made peace with my new life, and now I have a routine that fills my day with purpose and fun. And on this difficult journey, I have had loads of help from people who I must thank for being there. So here goes:
1. The husband: Poor guy, for months he has come home battered from the pressures of a new job to a high-strung, agitated woman who is all set to unleash her frustration and verbal diarrhea on him. His patience has ensured that we shall be celebrating another wedding anniversary soon.
2. My office: I was surprised that the boyfriend/fiancé/husband had been at the same job for six-seven years when we met, and since then have been constantly messing with his head to make him keep changing jobs and evolving. At the same time, this September I complete 5 years of association with MY workplace, which continues to indulge me and my insanity. A big thanks to my boss and colleagues who fill my days with work and fun and gossip, and bank account with pocket money even though I am thousands of kilometres away.
3. My family: They all have lifestyles that make me exhausted at their very thought, but they still take time out to sit before my stupid face for an hour on Google video chat to make me feel that they are right there (and also glad that they are not actually right there. Evil smirk.)
4. The Internet: I have a noisy office environment all day in my soundproof house. Marathon sitcom streaming allows me to work among some of the wittiest fake people in the world. It feels like “I Am Legend” when I reach the end of a series, but then I just get reassigned to another team.
5. Ramkali: My tiny foldable second-hand cycle with one handbrake has gone from being a pain the arse (literally) to my almost-daily companion on long and pretty rides around the suburbs. She makes me feel I have wings, she gives me the exercise that really does improve one’s mood as the experts claim, and she does not care where I’m from and what language I speak. For all that, I love her, and thank her.
P.S.: I am not alone in my misery. Wise Ishani has more info here.
September 29, 2011
Can’t blame Fate, really. It’s almost always been my bright idea to hop off the straight path and move bag and baggage to new places and new experiences. I remember how, on my first stint away from home (which was already the fifth bricks-and-mortar-thing I called home), I used to lie in bed, close my eyes, and try to recall each and every minor detail of the house. Once it took me a minute to remember our car’s registration number, and that shocked me! This oh-so-long adventure was just for three months, but created in my mind a (very possibly misguided) Home-Life dichotomy, and when the time came to make decisions, I regularly started choosing Life over Home. Many comic attempts were made to move to other cities, and a few of them actually succeeded. This meant a new home every few months, with not much motivation (and frankly never too many resources) to convert bare flats and rooms into tastefully decorated residences. With marriage came further confusion, and the hometown itself has now split into two, and perhaps it is my eternal pessimism that my spirit grates and perishes on the long road between my two homes instead of finding solace and belonging in the two sets of loving arms at each end…
I would be homesick if I knew which home to be sick about. I wistfully remember the entire floor I had to myself for a while in my childhood home, the (scandalous!) unisex hostel in Ahmedabad, the balcony in Pune that opened onto an endless stretch of treetops, the riverside hostel in London, and the sunsets through the palm fronds in my Bangalore home, but leaving each one of them has enriched my life, so I don’t really wish myself back there. (People-sickness is another matter altogether! I can’t do without my gang but I don’t really feel I have to do without them thanks to my superfast Internet connection!)
If I really look deep into my obviously-not-red-enough heart, I now carry my home with me. Right now, home is a little flat by the fake river in the tiny town that loves dope, and as long as the Turkish dry fruit seller brings me coriander leaves every Wednesday, and the darling husband flashes his million dollar smile over the sorry can-of-beans rajma chawal I garnish with the coriander, I am home, and not sick at all.
September 18, 2011
After dragging my lard across 9 kilometres on a tiny bicycle, I had reached breaking point by the time we got home this evening. As I parked the cycle, I realized the tyres were low on air: no wonder the ride had felt twice as long. With heads swimming, knees threatening to give way and shirts sticking to our backs, we decided to fetch groceries before we went home, because there was no way we’d ever make it back out of the house tonight. The road swayed a bit in front of my eyes as I walked, and when the husband decided to stop and take a picture of the sunset, I told him I’d continue “dragging my corpse” further down the road slowly, and he could catch up easily when he was done.
“Excuse me?” a voice rang out cheerfully behind me about a minute later. I turned to see a boy of about 20 in a manual wheelchair. “Can you please help me over the bridge?” he asked. The bridge is our a tiny but steep connection to mainland Amsterdam, and I often play the “cross the bridge in under 50 steps” game, making big leaps to meet my target. “Sure,” I said, and began pushing his chair. We discussed India, Morocco and our lovely neighborhood, and within moments this cheerful boy had dragged my corpse halfway across the bridge, and all my tiredness and self-pity out of my system. He thanked me and carried on alone, and I caught the rest of the sunset from the top of the bridge, waiting for my sweetheart photographer to catch up…