Monday, 31 December 2007

Practically a God, or, The God of Washing

I wake up every morning and religiously offer my prayer to the toothbrush motor god. Sure, he is a minor god, an almost dispensable god. But he can whirr at the press of a button, and my teeth feel squeaky clean after he is done with them. For that, I am thankful to him, and offer him prayers. My next step is in the kitchen. Its early morning, the sky still dark outside, the birds quietly stretching out their wings and stifling yawns. The aquaguard water-purifier god awaits her turn. Cool, sweet, clean, non-germy water into my bottle, and really, my cup runs over with joy, and reverence. The red button on the stove to automatically produce fire, without the mess of matches or lighters, next up.

Thus into the day I plunge, offering my thanks and prayers to the various major gods and minor deities that hold me up, give me succour, make me happy. The purr of the car coming alive when I tuck in the ignition key and turn it; the squeaky pulsing noise of the lift making its way up to fetch me to my almost heavenly abode; the gush of the warm soothing water out of the tap for my bath; these are the sounds that assure me that god is with me.

The most favourite of all is the boxy, sturdy, gurgling god I have in the back-yard. Tut I flip the switch. Ka-Chak I open the door. I tumble in an assortment of sweaty, nasty clothes. Kirrrrk I turn the dial. Done. Within seconds the water fills in with a whoosh. The detergent gets sucked in, and an hour later, its a miracle! The clothes are washed. What a practical god! I am absolutely thankful to this god, my survival in his absence is doubtful. Yes, you will question how come I exchanged my favourite god? Come on, if an idol in a temple breaks don’t we surreptitiously, in the cover of the night, replace it with an unbroken one? Don’t we? If my washing god broke is it not my duty to send him away and replace him with another?

Yes now I know you question my piety, my dedication to my gods, possibly even my religion which has a current followership of one. What kind of religion permits replacement of gods? Who goes around calling mortal things gods? Who allowed things created by (wo)man to become gods? But hold on right there. I do. When the companion to the washing god, the dryer goddess was created, I went into paroxysms of joy. So what if it was a trifle ugly? Pristinely white, with a strength that belied both its gender and weight, this goddess was really something else. You would probably find it difficult to understand.

The general populace will only come close to understanding my beliefs when they think of a computer. The male, desktop version, and the female, laptop version. With their various companions. Rama, Sita, with their Hanuman and Vali and Sugreeva. Could you survive without them? What if I took away the mouse for a few days? Huh? The printer? The CD-ROM? Cannot survive? Thought so. Not having god in your everyday life is living the life of a pagan, is being doomed to circle the earth in the eternal cycle of life and death and re-birth. The sleek new desktop in my study, my bright blue laptop in my lap, the laser printer whose price has been steadily falling, making him affordable to one and all, the mouse, the keyboard, the data-card, the DVD-RW, the billions of bytes of RAM, I bow to you.

Today I celebrate the invention of a new god. A god with several replaceable arms, legs, and sundry other parts. You give him your dirty dishes. Now please do not complain about maintaining purity and not bringing your half-eaten vessels near god. Imagine the situation where you give your impure half-eaten vessels, and god himself, applying all the necessary rules, purifies them for you. Oh Dishwasher God! Where were you all these years?

Monday, 17 December 2007

And somewhere in Mumbai...

My hands move slowly. Here they are now. Here it is now, what is it, oh yes, it’s a sheet. Here you are now. I am covering you with this sheet. Who are you I have forgotten. But the month I remember is December. It might get cold. Here is the sheet. Here are my hands, and here you are, lying down here. What is this here? Yes, it’s the pavement on the side of the road. Why are you lying down here? I ask you, tell me now, why are you lying down here. Why do my hands move so slowly? Are you asleep? Are you my son, are you my father, are you my brother? I really don’t remember. But the month is December, this I know and remember. We went to a bar, I remember, I don’t think I would have gone there with my son. Perhaps you are a friend. But what is this? White hair? Maybe you are an uncle. We talked. About what I cannot say. But we talked. And look, those cars that are passing us, people inside are talking too. They seem friendly. Here, I waved at them. They turned their faces away though. I don’t understand, why would they do that? Is it me? Is it you? Is it the two of us on this pavement by the side of the road and you lying here and me covering you with a sheet? Is that a shameful thing? Is it the drink? Did we drink too much, does it show on our faces? On our hands? Is it this, our home, with the sky as the roof. Should I be ashamed of it? Are you ashamed, is that why you are sleeping lying here on the pavement with your white hair and your legs out on the road. There, I moved them in. No one will drive by in a lorry and slice away your feet now. There. Are you comfortable? Who is that woman in the car? Why does she watch us with pity? Oh why does she pity us? Here, I looked away, I could not bear her eyes of pity. Will you share the sheet with me? Its December, the month. Its night. The sky is bright. I need to sleep. I need …

Monday, 10 December 2007

I get by with a little help...

So here I was, sliding down the sinusoidal curve thats life. Feeling like the high was behind me, approaching the bottom, the bottom. Refusing to acknowledge that the next cycle was imminent, unavoidable. Sliding down, down. Circumstances also conspired to make sure I carried this ridiculous, pessimistic idea forward. You know, the usual stuff, losing precious things (not in monetary terms, of course not, its all about memories and sentimentality to me), sicknesses, discernable lapses in my thoughts and in my mind, usual stuff. I have half a dozen half-written posts on this. The only reason they did not see the light of the day is because I was also extremely busy with work.

Anyway, last week, after a chaotic Saturday juggling work and home and packing, we set off on Sunday. I did this for myself. Went to my kick-boxing class on Sunday and punched & kicked the heck out of the bag, in the wee hours, back in time to get ready for the flight. We whooshed off to Chennai, where my black mood started fading. I entered my parents-in-law's home. Had a fleeting second of that feeling you get when you get home. A bitterness for the time that has passed since you last saw it. A sweetness for its comfortable familiarity. Only this is my in-laws place. But that feeling was just awesome. Its my ideal of a marriage. You know, where you truly marry the person, you get their feelings too. For their family, for their home.

That evening, an enthusiastic friend of ours collected a whole bunch of us and put us together in a room for a party. Wow. A real party. You know, not the office christmas party types, and not the informal friends getting together in our home types. All the folks were people we went to college with. All with families. Been pretty much ages since we saw them. Kids all over the room wrecking havoc. It totally rocked. I invented the Slow Race so the little giggly girls would stop running into furniture. The husband was in his Feats of Strength mode, lifting all the gigglers (ages 2-10) suspended on his forearm. It was in some kind of hep club place. I shocked the waiter dudes by eating Idlis with my Bloody Mary. Mood picked up some more. Ideal it was, I loved all of them.

Next in line, a wedding. What an awesome one! Had so much fun and chilled out. Only tension was when a complicated looking camera got shoved into my hand and photos or videos (god knows!) were asked for. I was sweating with my inability to focus on such things as operating cameras. Hope I clicked something though. I used it as an excuse to get close to the action, and actually listen to the priest dude. He had interesting things to say, as always when you listen. Met up with lots of friends there too. Desultory conversation in between meals happened. Ideal wedding.

Off on a day-trip to Hyderabad. Upgraded by kind jet airways soul at 6 am. Gosh those business class seats are thoroughly awesome. Slept like a log, except for the drool. Kind uncle of mine fetched us from the airport, fed us and dropped us and all. We were completely spacey, must have thought us such fools, but thats OK. In the afternoon, unable to stand the official reason for visit and so on, we escaped into the very crowded and very hot city to meet a friend. Yes, another one. The afternoon is a blur of stories and promises and laughter and amusement. Major pangs of regret when having to bid goodbye to him. But then, what a good time was had!

Back in Mumbai finally, a whole week of rediscovering why I love my life. Ship-shape now. I WILL get by with a little help from my friends.