Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Meri Sony

bloody sucks. i curse the Vaio.
firefox is broken (and i so hate IE).
i know i have to uninstall and reinstall but no time.
i am unable to copy paste in word.
i know i need to reboot but no time.
it sings a nasty electronic tune when inside the bag.
its power settings junk who cares.
and the webcam is crap.
useless junk.
the dvd player finally played a dvd but only using vlcplayer and not anything else.
it periodically assures me it cannot hibernate and i lose a bunch of files.
and if i dont touch it over the weekend it gives attitude on monday morning and wont boot up till i give it juice from the power supply. damn. am not working over the weekend just for you, get it?
all i want is to simultaneously open several office files and firefox tabs and maybe outlook.
is that too much to ask for a lakh fucking fifty thou?

the bag is awesome though. everyone gave it looks in the airp as i sauntered around with it lamenting lack of crossword store there. it even beats my Tumi (which is way too heavy and monstrous in size, though bullet proof and all).


Sunday, 29 March 2009

Hot Hotter Hottest

It is amazing how people's perceptions and opinions remain unperturbed and undisturbed in this, info-age. At first I thought that this is only true in case of senior citizens, and, since I never answer back to that species of human (my mom is a year shy of that tag, she assures me), I always smiled politely and moved on. Of course in recent times it has become rather clear that age is no bar. Children (somewhat pardonable that a child would assume that snow and snowmen can occur only in the United States), middle-aged folk, and my personal favourite, old people, are party to this.

Visiting an old person in Chennai, thankfully not tied to us by any easily discoverable blood lines (we should have spent another fifteen minutes, the vibrant photo of Venkateshwara in his home surely meant that we would have found that elusive common link). I told him I was there for just a day, from Mumbai. Despite not being of English stock, I commented on the weather at that point.

Hmm he said. At least you have escaped the Mumbai heat for a day.

I thought this was a huge joke, and was going to cackle politely till I realised he, in all seriousness, thought that Chennai was a cool haven in comparison with big bad hot Mumbai. Oh well. Why should I be so surprised? Don't I have relatives, who exclaim virtually involutarily when I say I live in Mumbai,

OH! Bourbon biscuits are so expensive there.
(I remember, I visited once, in 1960..).

My husband is a good one to have at your side at these junctures, I am just too polite and smiley faced to disagree. So yes peoples. Elders have said. Mumbai is the hottest place. The biscuits are too expensive here. And people all live in 'flats'. I will not even bother to tell them that just today, in a leisurely walk around here after a Rava Dosa breakfast, we think we saw: The Blue Kingfisher, Koel, Coppersmith, Magpie Robin, and, possibly, a Sunbird, in addition of course to armies of crows and mynas who are our neighbours (all as recognised by expert friend, not me). And no, we did not sweat although its nearly April and we were walking around at 11 am.

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

On beauty and black eyes

one of those impossible girls in college was busy classifying us all. a good exercise for a lazy afternoon, and worth the effort since we were a surprisingly large number of girls, twenty in all (okay, it was some 5% of the total class strength nevertheless). so the categories were as follows:
(a) beautiful
(b) beauty conscious
(c) both

it was an interesting exercise. there were many in category (a). mostly they live in bangalore now (for some strange reason), though there is one in new york as well (yes, i mean you). there were some in category (b), as declared by the girl-friend, herself leading the list. thanks to modeling herself after certain ladies of foreign climes, i suppose chox found herself categorised in (c), along with a few others.

i was totally curious to know where i would be. of course (b) was out of the question. but since i am fair (for a south indian that is, okay fine, wheatish complexion if you will; okay now, i am not that fair, but i am surely very very just), i was totally sure that i would be in (a). come on now. what else could be the criteria except complexion? my hair. well. my big fat nose. there is that.

so of course i fell off the chair and felt like hiding in a dark corner when she said i am

(d) none of the above.

in a separate category all by my own lonesome self...

i was so upset i hardly talked to her the rest of the day (who am i kidding? i felt so proud to have my own category!) . the next day i cornered her again and asked her to state her reasons. then the story came out.

see, a month or so prior to this exercise, one fine day, we were playing basketball. since a tournament was sort of round the corner, the coach had brought in these kids from a nearby school (all boys) for us to play against. yes, its true. these were kids in the VII and VIII standard mostly. height-wise, it was okay with me, but there were other girls on my team that were normal. so anyway i was being my usual aggressive self (so what if they are boys half my age? i have never let that stop me, even now, from going nuts). the boys were trying to play a game amidst all the pinching and so on (just kidding, my girls were cool, never pinched or bit).

suddenly from somewhere two of us, one slightly rotund boy of VII standard, and my own self, skinny and wheatish with scraggly hair, collided in mid-air, presumably after the same basketball. the ball went on its way and found itself in other hands. my face hit his upper arm or elbow or some such, but when i landed back on the ground, i went away from collision spot muttering a sorry. later when examined in the hostel, it panned out that i had a nice wonderful black eye. people that have experience with black eyes know that they are also blue and tinged occasionally with flecks of purple and green. all in all, it was a beaut.

i went to class, merrily, my war wound on proud display. "basketball injury" i would tell people if (i mean when) they asked me. "oh ah" they said and went on their way. the professors kept their cool and silence, knowing that i was eccentric and crazy.

the girl friend in question was watching all this with avid interest (and much horror). she tried to pull me aside and advise me. "stay back in your room, don't step out" she said. "oh why on earth not? already my attendance in that class is close to bad and anyway it hardly hurts, just some discomfort" i replied. "no its not that" said she. "its just that its so ugly your eye and if i was in your place i would take every measure to ensure that no one sees my face looking like that."

i laughed at her and assured her i care a damn what other people think. and really, i was extremely of my black eye. whats there to hide? i wanted to portray this rough and tough and tomboy image, belying my five foot forty five kilo body structure. at any rate i hate fussing over small injuries and so on and would rather do everything to get back to normal conditions soon.

but that incident, coupled with myriad others of similar nature, put me in category (d), back then, all those years ago, in a college with twenty other girls (okay nineteen others if you want to split hairs), amidst three hundred smelly boys (none of whom were even considered for classification so i was, in a sense, one up on them).

this sunday, in our friendly game of basketball meanwhile, the husband, love of my life and what not, hit the ball when it was in my hand. it landed on my face. i tried to cleverly claim a foul which he refused to grant. at any rate the ball was still in my hand after that and ignoring the twinge of pain i continued the game, cursing him and calling him a brute all the while. when i got home i had a nice black eye, not as big as the earlier one, but there, nevertheless.

i remembered the good old days. i remembered and rejoiced at being in category (d). i refused offers to ice it (i suppose he felt a bit regretful about it later, considering i am just a month out of typhoid and stuff), and proudly went to office with it. nothing has changed, in these twenty odd years...

Monday, 23 March 2009

Let no one accuse me of missing out now

You know, all you glib people out there. I know you are there. Smirking at me. Laughing, rolling on the floor, snigger snigger. And why? Simply because I am so out of touch, have not even seen Ghajini (or Jaane Tu or Rab Ne or Dilli6 or oh fucket about it, any movie at all since Usual Suspects). Of course, full of bluster, I yell back at you. Why should I see these movies? I have read all the reviews no? Yours, and yours, and well, yours too, you smirker. Not to mention Mayank Shekhar.

But take this now. Yesterday. Sunday. Green distemper on the walls. The lizard's underside visible on the window glass. The husband referred to the squirrel as Anil (apparently, that is the correct Tam word for it. File away for Chennai usage). He had a death grip on remote as usual. Flipped here and there, to the scene where Monaca is in a white towel and Chandler is very thin. Then back to some dark looking HBO thing with Nicole Kidman looking thin (more thin than Chandler) and scary. Back again to SRK wearing something outrageous and blue and being remarkably clever (I think he is a smart guy, not just in comparison to that dork fellow of Preity Zinta's). Back again to some vague channel where Ghajini was just starting. I was about to go away, clutching head, saying, I have to study, when he requested, yes, he actually requested me, to watch this movie with him. I tried to reel off some bits and pieces from various reviews that I have read about it, to prove that it was a pain and I am better off studying my books. I also tried to convince him that if I watch it, he will have to forego the pleasure of flipping through our 90 odd channels in a sort of frenzy, and that includes the times when songs (although meaningless and having little bearing to the main story-line) play. He, however, accepted my terms, and requested me again. And I agreed to not insist on watching the ads. See, the stuff old marriages are full of. Simple compromises, and a child thankfully taking a nap in the other room.

So now I have seen the movie. I can honestly say that it was a pain. Made as little sense as a Govinda movie overall, and come to think of it, and at least Govinda never shows us his nipples. The feeling of fleeting youth stayed with me throughout. Despite the nipples and six pack and all, peoples, Aamir Khan has become old. Its very sad. You think of 'Chikni Soorat' when you, me, and good old Chocolate Boy AK were young and had our whole lives in front of us. Cut to now. All fit and all. Buff. Musculature is visible. But old ya. We are old. You, me, buff AK, all of us. Time to move on. The ad breaks when (flip) I got to hear all that SRK and Lalit Modi and Preity Zinta had to say about the IPL, while that guy of her's looked on in manner of demented person, were almost welcome.

Anyway now its done. Now I only have Luck By Chance and Rock On and Jaane Tu and Delhi 6 and Rab Ne and Slumdog and Little Zizou (really do want to see this) and so on to go. Fine, laugh away.

Saturday, 21 March 2009

Because a guy is a guy

Remember that thing about snips and snails and puppy dog tails?

Its all very western, and I don't presume to really have an appreciation for it. I have a small sample size of children that I have studied. Nowhere close to statistically significant. So don't think I am generalizing or anything. Exaggerating, maybe.

* Girls like pink. Sample size: Two. The pink night suits we bought for my niece and the monster were big hits. They wore it together "matching" and seemed very happy. The monster also got a green one with big dinosaur pictures on it (mostly, Stegosaurus), which was from the boys rack although I told her it was from the girls section (so sue me) and she liked it well enough. The niece fussed a bit since hers was one of those long t-shirts, but we assured her it was meant to be like that, plus, it was pinker than ever, so she was fine.

* Boys really dont care. Sample size: One. The nephew hardly bothered with colour, size, texture, anything. He wore what we bought him proudly. The blue and red one was big and dangling near his feet. He did not care. We made him change and went back to the store and then the sky blue shorts (el cheapo ones, so sue us) were small. His mum made him sit down and get up a few times and declared it a winner when it did not tear. He did not care.

* Girls talk too much. Sample size: One. Monster. Big mouth. Okay maybe two. Myself.

* Boys have junk in their pockets. Sample size: One. He had a piece of glass with some sharp metal things sticking out. A piece of nasty looking play-dough. A snotty handkerchief. I confiscated the glass piece and put it away on top of the music system. He was watching with eagle eyes (I did not know). Today when they left, he took it back (I had forgotten he can reach, being almost as tall as I am). I pried it away from my hands, he cribbed. The husband grabbed it and my mum promptly threw it away. He sulked and sulked till I gave him a green stripy plastic ball and a small blue number (5) to put in his pocket.

* Girls are very nice. Sample size: One. Niece. Very considerate and understanding and sensitive, especially in direct contrast to her brother. (Obviously, not all girls, take, for example, the monster).

* Girls love gossip. Sample size: Five. Mum, sis, I, niece and monster. All chattering away. The walls are still echoing with our stories and walks down memory lane and plans and list-making exercises.

* Boys need the TV remote. Sample size: Three. The kids were watching TV. Some annoying thing I couldn't be caught dead in front of. We let it be since we were tired. & who had the remote? Guess. Then my brother in law came back tired out from the traffic, but guess what he did first? Grabbed the remote from son. Then my husband returned home cursing Mumbai (& Bangalore) traffic, and guess what he did first? Teased the kids of course, but insisted on the remote. And our TV is away in the guest bedroom. Not even in the living room where us ladies were sitting gossipping away.

As always I miss them incredibly now that they have left. We all ate milkmaid (I felt bad for eating it last week knowing how much both the kids love it), collected all nature of flowers from the road, read and read and read Roald Dahl and Enid Blyton and Junie B. Jones (I am pretending to be screening everything for the monster), and struggled over the single bathroom in the mornings.

Thursday, 19 March 2009

Five Minutes

Well that is all I have for you dear page. Five minutes. Thoughts jumble out, words fly out of my ears, my nostrils flare in anticipation, fingers fly on the keyboard (thank god I can keep my eyes on the screen).

What do I tell you in these short, too short, five minutes? Why not this, that today is the last day of the monster's exams. And yes, before you snort and smirk, it is true. Mine child has exams. Around six days of it. And today is the culmination of it all. The acid test so to speak. If the rest were small fry, this is the big kahuna. Hindi! (Watch me exclaim thus next year and say Tamizh!). Little fingers on the 'ksha' move this way and that and forget the route and come back in the wrong direction. The big picture view is hilarious, but the small picture one is occasionally bothersome. I have a big chart, right in the living room, driving my mum crazy, so ugly it is hanging on some electrical box type thing of yore. She might read it in her mind, is my argument. When she takes a break from Calvin & Hobbes you mean, sarcastics (go with it, worse people than I have invented worse words such as irregardless) she, putting away my collection, locking the cup-board, and throwing away the key (there IS someone in my head and its not me). I do accept her argument however but retort nevertheless with some acidity.

Studying for exams was always an 'exciting' option. No one sat with me. No one 'egged me on' back then. Now I wonder why it should not be the same here. I think what is missing is an iota of mental maturity (the vocabulary belies the lack of this maturity, but still, I am the mother, I should know). Not to mention the fact that this generation of children seem to rebel and exhibit angst about ten years earlier than we did (as teenagers, that was what we did for a living is it not?). Still, compared to some other stories mothers at school spin, I think I see a spark in her eyes which I recognise.

My five minutes are up, in fact more has transpired. Time to go. I mention in passing that I think exams are wonderful, though meaningless when it comes to evaluating ones abilities for anything. They give you the chance to show off your knowledge, that is true, they let you identify the lacuna, that is also true, they give you closure, so that is something everyone should like, not just us mad-caps. But yes, marks are meaningless. I admit it. Even as I mark across sheets with thick red lines.

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Jumping Jack!

Have you ever found yourself concentrating so hard on the task at hand that, when a soft voice suddenly says 'Madam?' near you, you JUMP out of your skin, so to speak?

Lets say you are reading, or walking, thinking of something or the other, or cleaning your clothes cupboard, colouring with crayons, whatever, somewhat of a quiet activity, and intentionally or unintentionally someone comes up to you and calls you.

Do you

(a) Have very good peripheral vision and can detect them a mile off and while you do have your head bowed down to the task, are not unduly surprised and look up, affixing a polite smile


(b) Give a leap, spill the glue, scatter the crayons, clutch at your beating heart, exclaim in a very unladylike snort, spill the drink, drop the clothes, and generally give them a big laugh
(and then after they laugh and go away and five minutes later they come back and do the same thing again, this time surely intentionally, do you get angry at their amusement?)

In this house which has so many dark corners, in fact, so many corners and turns to get from here to there, a hundred places for a small creature to hide herself in (if she can control the giggling), its a wonder I have not had a heart attack yet.

Saturday, 14 March 2009

Positive Thinking

I used to watch a show long time ago on American television. It was called Spin City, and it had one of my favourite guys star in it - Michael J Fox. Although not a big fan of the Back to the future series (have watched them and enjoyed them, but not obsessively), I really like Michael J. His social work, his spirit, and of course the fact that he is small-built and never looks his age are the main reasons. I figured that the show was called so because his job, as assistant to the Mayor or something like that, was to turn every situation around so that its favourable. Give a spin, so to speak.

I can do that myself most times. It has crept slowly into my life and forms somewhat of a core of how I lead my life. 'Everything happens for the best' I used to say earlier, trying to console a disappointment or rationalise an action. Now my aim is to constantly find that positive side to everything, actively, not passively. Which is not to say I don't waste time in self-pity and general mild depressions (of course yes, its a waste of time!), lets just say its an ongoing effort.

Again a long time ago I saw the movie 'Rudaali' - you remember that? Dimple Kapadia, Rakhi (no, not the Sawant, that moon-faced person from Kabhi Kabhi), and so on. Beautiful melodies. I had even bought a cassette of its songs since I liked them so much. I had thought that the movie was quite depressing. I might not have seen it through to the end. I bet I cried copiously as I watched.

Then again, yesterday, I read the original story. Mahashweta Devi. In this book:

I thoroughly liked the story. Not in the least depressing, despite the deaths and the poverty that are depicted. She talks about these in a practical, no-nonsense voice, which did not tug at the heart strings of this thirty-five year old. I mean, yes, its all sad that people are hungry, and so exploited. But then its also a very hard everyday fact, staring you in the face all the time. I see that the only way to cope with it is by being practical, not whimsical, by action and not tears. The way this story ends is just wonderful. The parts that are said, and those that are unsaid. I have always liked Mahashweta Devi's writing - mum and I have collected a few of her books between us, but Rudaali, her short story that found its way to us through this collection, gets a big thumbs up from me, specifically because it ends on what I think is a particularly positive note.

Friday, 13 March 2009

Gender Based

All friends and acquaintances I meet these days comment on my appearance. They generally say, "you have lost a lot of weight" (no, really, I HAD lost a fair bit but gained it right back, for the most part). But the difference is, women say it wistfully, almost as if wishing they were in my shoes. The men say it with shock, and absolutely no such wish. Makes you wonder, is it genuinely so much harder for women to lose weight than men? Empirical evidence definitely seems to say yes!

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Arian Women

Arian women are a handful. Ask my husband. He has a sister, wife, and a daughter belonging to that category. And all of us are April born. When I had the monster, I wanted my birthday to pass before giving birth to her. Of course the due date was in May, so it made sense to not have the baby a month before it was due, but there were other calculations you could do to prove that it would not have been that early after all. You know how much of leeway there is in these due date calculations generally, all bogus, including the ultrasounds.

Anyway we ate Chinese food on my birthday and regretted it immensely, it was that Udipi Chinese, here, locally, sucked royally though all other choices of food in that restaurant are tolerable. I was itching all over, thanks to some weird allergy or whatever I had developed. Especially on my arms and my stomach. It was as much to keep myself from scratching that I needed to go out for dinner as to celebrate the big three-oh. I was so huge that I had to wear these tents that passed off as salwar kameezes. Red and green this tent was.

Back in 1979 when I went to I standard, at this CBSE school where the fees was Rs.69 per annum for almost the duration of my schooling, I was just short of five years in age. I suppose it was March when my parents and I entered the headmaster's room. It had that half swing door. But was dark and cosy. He asked me my name and gave me a chocolate. My parents and the headmaster talked about common friends and so on and he smiled us away. Despite being something like two feet in height, I went to I standard that year with all the other normal people. No one looked askance. Some of my classmates were half a year (or more) older than I, but some were a month or so younger as well. Of course I was nevertheless, clearly the shortest, a proud distinction I tried very hard to hide from every single day during the morning assembly by standing on my toes.

The monster is tall, at least by my standards. She was two feet tall some several years ago already, and has grown consistently on her steady diet of dhal and rice and vegetables. Her long legs and arms are clearly genetically linkable to her father. She has been in kindergarten for nearly two years now. Despite not being pressured immensely (one hears such stories about schools these days), she has learned all she was asked to learn in these two years. They don't sum to much from an adult perspective, but it is enough, it is age appropriate, or perhaps I should say class appropriate.

But then she IS April born. Schools are operating on a March/January deadline (in terms of birth date). In some of the nicer schools I can understand that this is like the GRE (sorry for obscure grad school related reference), a means of weeding out applicants. But all schools these days claim to use modern methods of teaching/learning. Holistic, project-based, activity-oriented, ability-driven methods are proclaimed on web-sites and advertising material. We are apparently this close to the spectacular western education methods now, here, in India, this bulging developing country of ours. But guess what? During admission, absolutely no recognition is to be really given for ability.

I hated that they conducted a long test for my child. I would have been probably not disturbed if they said, forget it you guys, don't be aggressive parents, however smart a child is, we will not take her if she is born in 2004. But after she did the test and they were 'very impressed' when they threw the age thing at us, it was most unnerving. They tried to then give us spiel about how later on she would face problems and inability to match up with the others in the class (right, you are looking in the face at me, I was the same age and half her height and still faced no problems, whether it was in academics or other extra activities). I grant that this might be true, times are different now. And also that many parents may be randomly competitive and aggressive and try to sneak their child in early. Therefore it was doubly unnerving that we should be put in that bucket, because we are not being competitive with others.

We just happen to think that she is ready for I standard, and enough of this kindergarten business. We can clearly see that she needs a bit more challenge, and the exercises of UKG if repeated again, will bore her. We don't want her first year of proper schooling to be boring. We had never taught her writing when she went into LKG. And she was not that fond of colouring due to reasons I think I can identify but could do nothing to shield her from. It was a challenge at first, occasionally frustrating, but soon enough, she was enjoying it, sort of precisely because it was not so easy. We have seen her joy when she comes home and whips out her slate and books and shows us what she did in school (not everyday, some days she is cranky and surly, but most days). We are confident that she can physically handle a longer school day, in fact, the other alternative, where she is in proper school for a short while and then at home with grandparents or in the play-school with small kiddos, is a much less optimal solution. It irritates her, it bores her, it makes her behave in a silly manner at times and in an obsessive manner (regarding some book or the other) at others. Even if I spend the afternoons with her, and try to fit in 'activities' as she calls them, I don't see her liking it too much for too long. She has been doing such things forever now, and clearly different things are called for. I don't believe in drawing classes, but of course could consider music or dancing, which might work, but might not as well. Anyway such are our reasons, as parents, and the people arguably most tuned into our daughter's needs.

As I mentioned in the previous post, she has a VERY STRONG opinion on this. I am sure I can brain wash it out of her system, okay, I am not so sure, the opinion is REALLY strong. So there is that to contend with as well.

Nevertheless, I went in with a semi-open mind. Let them test her (illegal though it might be). Let them tell us their opinion on whether she is ready for the great big challenge of I standard (ha ha). So it was really disturbing to us to visit the schools and have doors shut on us because she is April born, after they tested her and found her capable in terms of knowledge and aptitude. Not to mention having to listen grand old dames tell us that we are stupid parents to have such a desire. At the best of times my husband is not patient when people feed him advice, and on that hot day it is probably by digging into extra reserves of patience he did not react strongly. Of course it annoyed me no end as well, but I have this space, and written words, as my vent.

At any rate we have finally got what we set out for. Without a second thought we have signed her up to learn Tamizh though she has learnt the Hindi letters here in UKG. People have threatened us with, she will forget Hindi (no matter, I can remind her), this will be double challenging, a new language (do think languages are the easiest thing for children to pick up), the Math! (please, go look at the CBSE I standard textbook, its cute and fun, not difficult), etc. We don't stand to lose much except our pride either way. If she handles it all well, then wonderful. If not, in any case, she becomes eligible for I standard at Kendriya Vidyalaya only next year...

It is wonderful to be an Arian. We are a crazy lot, but strong. In a year's time, I will tell you how the two of us do on this one!

Monday, 9 March 2009

Reflections on another trip

Jet airways sent me an ominous email last week. "We see you have not used our services for more than two months now" or something like that. For a moment I stopped and wondered how that could be so. I mean I am a consultant's wife dammit. Then it occurred that in late December and early January when we took our holiday we tried other airlines since we booked so late and holiday prices were so crazy. Indigo we tried and regretted immensely. Go Air we tried and it was bad but no so bad although I did eat a sandwich (which I bought of course) on the flight and lived to not have typhoid from it, on second thoughts, luckily enough, and good on you Go Air. January was busy with so much. February was when I was sick for a big chunk of time. And then there is March which we are at right now.

So Wednesday night I fought long and hard with the website and booked our tickets. The screen refreshed three times and I had to begin at the beginning and thank heavens I don't have a blasted middle name but gosh I wish I could just remember my Jet Privilege number stored on my mobile ever since I lost the blue membership card, and child, can you please not talk when I am so tired and having to enter credit card numbers so many times. Anyway they SMS confirmed my booking. My email took the opportunity to fail at that juncture. So I had the PNR but no copy of ticket. I called them and they helpfully suggested I get it at the airport when I show up. I absolutely thoroughly HATE that because you have to budget extra time for such things. I finally managed to pull the ticket up from the web-page and print it out at like 10 pm. Thankfully I was all glowing and pleased since they gave me 10% off for travelling on women's day and being, you know, of the feminine gender.

Chennai was hot as ever. I am still not at my usual levels of energy so I ended up being dog-tired every single day. But it was all fun. Met with our friends. The little girl gave me a bunch of flowers, for you Maami, she said. I asked what flower it was and she said Frangipani. Now I know what that is. This is why I love children, they teach you so many good things. Saw my little niece. Who has more hair than I do. Who curled up in my lap and slept off cutely. Who oozed cuteness even when she completely refused any food that was offerred and also threw up on my jeans. And who cried her guts out at the sight of my husband till he spent fifteen minutes completely pataoing her, and then reserved her giggles, smiles and all nature of coquetry for him for the rest of the visit. Monster and I spied a KINGFISHER bird. A real live one. I was hanging out drinking tea in the morning when she clackety-clacked down the stairs and started chattering. I was half-way paying attention even when she claimed she was looking at a kingfisher outside. But then when I turned around and saw it, I almost fell out of my chair. What lovely colouring that bird has.

One of my college friends' kids thread ceremony yesterday. Tired and thinking of flight in afternoon, I went anyway. Kid was cute in his dhoti and so on. Friend in her nine yards, every inch the responsible, proud mum. Good for her! Her mother, whom I knew from our college days, was there, bubbling with energy. Me in my sari nevertheless received comments that I had hardly changed from back then. But part of that is the typhoid. Blouse was loose (I dislike that but since pregnancy it has been a constant problem, both ways, tightness and looseness. And now I cannot do anything about it till I stabilise in terms of weight. Gah). I had to leave early and the monster ate up most of the big murukku I got to take back home. I used my time there usefully to play with a little girl from Bangalore (monster was home with her cousin, I went alone), who wrote all the hindi vowels for me on the back of my Jet Airways ticket, and then proceeded to draw stick people whom she coloured pink - which was the only crayon I could find in my purse. But then it matched with the Alpenliebe I gave her from my purse for having a birthday on Saturday. So it was cool (and yes, the hall was air-conditioned as well).

Went to a bunch of schools. Hated the fact that they took my baby away and made her give tests for up to forty-five minutes each. "Cut the cord Kenny" was the husband's response, though I am sure he felt it too. Felt relieved when one of them agreed to take her in I standard. Watched in horror in one school when my opinionated and head-strong monster stomped out of the room when the lady (Vice Principal) said, she is too young for I standard, I can only take her in UKG. "I will NOT study in UKG again" the monster said (thankfully not overly loudly but I am sure Vice-Principal lady heard her) and took off to play in the slides and swings outside while I smoothed the lady's feathers and commended her on her unique school and gushed about how excited I was at the possibility of being admitted there. Its all a big racket. Everyone insists their school uses unique methods for teaching. I am cynical about it all. I mean I was cynical two years ago when I decided to avoid all the hip and happening schools of the area and put her in the campus school. And nothing has changed.

In a sense I am glad to be back. I still have some way to go in terms of recovery. And I am really liking my new place here with the flowers and what not. And mum is here though she is incessantly on my case about our moving again and what not, the food is yummalicious and everything seems a little easier. My mother-in-law has strongly suggested I quit worrying about my cholesterol and eat well and gain my weight back, which I am using as an excuse to indulge in chocolates a little. But now its time for lunch so off I go.

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

You missed that one!

I am not a good driver. I don't think I am a particularly unsafe driver, but I am not good. I admit it. I am not particularly fond of driving. I occasionally like the fact that I am in control of the vehicle (as opposed to a smelly driver or a rapidly degenerating to unspeakable Tamizh curses road rage filled husband), and I like to be in control definitely of the Bollywood crap I blare from the radio, but I don't like it all too much.

The trend was set early. As soon as we turned sixteen, my best friend in school (March born) and I (April born) set off one fine day to the RTO. Sat around sweatily and got our learners permits. Then did the stipulated wait of whatever it was (six months? Not very sure anymore) and went back to get the actual license. This was for a bike of course. "Gearless Two Wheeler" they called it. A TVS Champ belonging to my sis was my poison, and a TVS 50 (I think it was called that) belonging to her father was hers. We had a fair bit more leeway with the Champ, because quickly, within a year of acquiring it, my sister lost interest in riding it, and was happy enough to sit behind and pass comments and give detailed feed-back.

So, this is where the trend comes in. I was ECSTATIC that she would allow me to ride her precious bike, and also a fair bit proud. But then, when she sat behind me, she noticed a definite tendency I have when I ride or drive. And that can be described as "an undeniable attraction to pot-holes." I still remember her one day, thoroughly irritated with this habit of mine, tell me when we reached home as I was (proudly) parking the thing, "You missed that one out there", sarcastic like no one's business. Airspy used to occasionally allow me her Champ in college. But I never rode it outside the campus so my deplorable habits were probably not obvious to her. The campus roads being real nice and all.

Everyone knows of course that the key to avoiding things like the seven year itch etc. are to learn your driving from a school. The most avoidable situation in a marriage is when the husband teaches the wife to drive. The opposite may work out okay, not sure, have my doubts, but this one is an absolute no-no. So I went to a school, several in fact. One in India where I drove a Maruti 800 pretty well. I was young. 21 years old. Unmarried. Then I had an old guy teach me in the US. He was nice. I was sucking it up a fair bit though, I got quite spooked with driving in the US though the determination to overcome it was strong.

And I still had to drive several times with the husband 'for practice.' That was horrid. He was a major pain. His style of driving and mine don't match. At all. He is aggressive. I am the opposite. People that would like to pass in front of me on the road are ALL welcome. He will move heaven and earth to ensure that you 'fuckers' don't mess with him. If you are walking and want to walk in front of my car, again, you are welcome. I will wait. (This he does too, especially if its women, even if ugly). I am never in a tearing hurry. He is always in a major big hurry to beat all hurries. If there is a chance to weave through a gap in the traffic, zip, zap, zoom, etc., I will ignore it. I don't need to. He will grab the opportunity with both hands. The way I argue it is, all that zipping and zapping might save me about three minutes of driving time, which is nice, but it will chip three days at least off my life span, which is sort not too desirable. I am not sure on his thoughts on life spans etc. I have also retained the tendency with pot-holes. Like my sister, he hates them and therefore avoids them through clever maneuvres.

A conversation with him, of late, in my new and improved, no temper tantrums state may go like this:
Him: Do you drive this route everyday?
Me: Yessss
Him: Then you KNOW that there is this giant big pot-hole here?
Me: Yes of course, I go into it everyday. One day it hurt my neck a bit.
Me: See, in order to avoid it, I have to move into the right lane. But then I have to make a left turn, and nobody will allow me back into the left lane after that, so, I catch hold of the left lane well before the pot-hole place and just stick there.
Me: Yes, just 200 meters. And so many trucks. And if a BEST bus honks, I totally flip out.
Him: Watch me pop a vein in my forehead. Chicks suck. Chicks make the WORST drivers ever.
Me: You should not generalise like that. I am special, you know it.

& so on. Ends in a fight. Gets ugly. I see his point sometimes, even my mum laughs because SO MANY people cut into my lane from all directions. But then I am cool. Crazy Kiya Re is on Mirchi so I am not too bothered, have to anyway wait for the song to finish. At any rate I have a 3 km radius within which I drive usually not more. The furthest is 10 km from home. And one trip to the airport in seven years in Mumbai.

Oh yeah, I have pathetic direction sense, am becoming fairly absent-minded befitting profession, can't see well when driving at night, and cannot for the life of me parallel park. All told, it is kind of a bummer that my driver, for all his faults, decided to go off to his village this week for good.

Sunday, 1 March 2009

brightly awake

thats what i was today at 7 am. felt good. even mum was not yet awake though my teeth brushing noises got her up soon enough. she was wondering why i need to be up so early (!) on a sunday. but then i could never loll in bed once awake. that too so brightly. though it was in the middle of a random dream about being in delhi and having messed up my return flight booking and dealing with irritating delhi auto-wallahs and considering having jet airways fix my flight to an earlier one without penalty. i am going to get flowers from the garden to make a garland now. mum prays everyday in a vague way and feels happy enough to hang my garland on the little god-statues i have in my antique cabinet. i am happy to remember a childhood skill of making flower garlands. not to mention the still strange and unique pleasure of pottering in a garden in the morning and getting a bowl full of white flowers from there and being amazed at how many more of them still are there on the trees. and today i spy a hibiscus too. bright red. like blood. i am going to leave that there. and yes, i am back almost to normal.