Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Laugh out loud

(or even scream)

Naseeruddin Shah movie. Can't exactly remember if it was Tridev or the other one in which he is a teacher. But he goes to this big old tree in some village like place and screams his head off screams his head off saying its good tension release. I cannot help agree. But laughing raucously also works equally (and you don't have to go to a big old banyan tree in a village far far away).

Home conversations these days go like this:

If you say that I will call you a muggle.

Oh yeah, then you are a mudblood.


You are Ron and are afraid to say Voldemort. In fact you give a start when I say it.

No, I am Mrs. Weasley and I am going to send you a nice howler.

(Go ahead, laugh out loud. Or scream out loud. Whatever you prefer).

In case you had not guessed, its Harry Potter time. I am reading it as if I have an exam coming up, despite cribbing incessantly (in my head) that soon as I finish the series, I have to go clean my head out by re-reading LOTR for the nth time. Before you ask, no, I have not seen the HP movies (or the LOTR ones, for that matter, only glanced at it periodically when it plays on TV; and long long time ago when between my sister and me we had only one child to worry about, we might have seen the first HP at a theater in New Jersey, can't remember too well..). So anyway, forget the movie (unless the monster seems to want to, in which case, what the hell). The monster has been drawing people with scars on their forehead, and has a summer plan that looks like this:

1. Learn swimming
2. Learn cycling
3. Learn broomstick riding...


Tuesday, 20 April 2010


Time really flies. Days upon days and weeks upon weeks are passing by in a whoosh and it feels like I have barely taken a breath. At the same time, the days are so full that when I think back to last week it already feels like it was a long time ago. Which is a conundrum, for sure, except if you bear in mind that I remember a lot of things, even if they are all happening real fast. Sometimes this is a good thing. Like its wonderful that I can remember the colour of the dress I wore to an annual day function in II std. a (black and white) photo of which a friend of mine put up on facebook recently. I don't necessarily remember it distinctly, but nevertheless. I semi-remember and semi-imagine my father polishing those black shoes to a glassy shine for the occasion. Nice things. But sometimes these are a burden. In a first-aid session I attended recently (as in, three days ago), the instructor was telling us how a seizure occurs when the brain gets over-loaded with signals. He made a direct analogy to a computer going berserk and crashing and taking a long nap. Sometimes it feels like my brain will explode from the sheer strain of living my life. This is not a good situation. In fact, its an absurd one! My life is not a hard one. Its cool, its easy, I have no real tensions of money or health or an abusive spouse. My monster, despite all my complaints, is a sweetheart. Job rocks the socks off. I am independent. If you had asked me, when I was graduating college, what I wanted my life to look like fifteen years out, I imagine that barring a few quirks here and there, my current one would fit the description to a T.

If I have ended up sounding as if I have a very good memory, I apologise, it is not true, I don't. I think what happens is that I remember a whole bunch of really strange things that no one (in their right senses) would bother with. For example, I recall that the telephone place outside our college hostel (where we used to make the calls home, standing in line and sweating like pigs and wishing the guy would just hurry up already and stop cooing in Telugu into the phone), used to have a three compartment plastic thing, red in colour and shaped like apples, where the telegram forms (or some such shady sounding forms in a rat-grey coloured paper) would be housed. It used to hang there, menacingly, while I waited, shaking my leg impatiently. But ask me which year the Gujarat earthquake was and I just cannot recall it. Ask me the formula for anything, I won't remember it, despite my profession. I am sure there is a yoga technique somewhere that can help me get rid of some of my useless memories about apple shaped things, replacing them with things such as the glass transition temperatures for a whole bunch of materials.

I am sure there is a technique for getting rid of all my painful memories and quickly placing over them my happy ones, equal in number for sure. But sometimes, I like the pain. Even the real pain that comes when you feel like vermin. When words are hurled that make you cringe. Sometimes those words make you see yourself as you ought to. To analyse. They are important, not useless. The flammability limits of hydrogen you can look up in a book, you cannot look yourself up in a book, not even in a Murakami.....

Monday, 12 April 2010

Reliving Old Times (Again)

Bannu and I actually go back a long way. Although we only realised that once I came to Chennai and hung out a bit, doing what we did the last time we met- playing basketball. The difference was this, now we were playing together while back then (in Dec 1994, to be precise), we were playing against each other, she for her Kanpur team and I for my Chennai one. It was, of course, not a big deal tournament or anything when you think about it but it was still fun and meant a great deal to us both and I think we both did well then.

We have been playing together every few days now. Bannus husband is a rock solid basketball player. My husband is of course A Tall Person and therefore must be good at Quidditch, uhh, I mean basketball. We have played together a fair bit and, when we are not fighting royally about it (mostly because he gives me lot of unsolicited advice about my game, which I think is just fine, what WNBA scout is looking, really?), have some good moves up our sleeve for public consumption.

Anyway, this past weekend was a fantastically awesome one because we had the chance to play in a three a side tournament here, on campus. Students organised it, and it consisted mostly of student teams from various hostels and so forth, with a good sprinkling of the college team players. We play with all these guys so we sort of know (and are known by) all. So it was cool to walk up to this real giant of a guy (A Very Very Tall Person), and to bellow from his knee region, 'We want to field a team. We will have girls in it.'

So that is how it came about that we kitted out and went up on Friday night. We casually took our first round match # 1. The second match was a walk over, so we were in round 2, for Saturday, sort of casually, and my husband being out of town on Friday, this was just based on Bannu, Bannu's RRS, and yours truly. As in, two girls and a guy, y'all (no pizza either). The boys we beat on Friday were of course very young, and it was really not a big deal. I at least have been playing basketball since before these kids were born, I think. Its just too bad that I did not grow (nevertheless) beyond my five foot frame, and have ankles that are shot to pieces. RRS is miles beyond these kids in every possible thing - skills, brains, training, stamina, etc. And Bannu! This Girl Is A Spit Fire, I tell you. A Spit Fire. Thats the only way to describe her.

Come Saturday, husband back in town, the odds were stacked somewhat better in our favour. We took our two games that day fairly casually. But only because of some spectacular defense (against The Very Very Tall Boy) by RRS, and some excellent plays by all of us (not just the men, I swear). Bannu and I decided to substitute for each other, so that there was only one (short) woman on the court at any time. (Bannu is not as short as I am, but really, she is a small one for a basketball court ya, for sure, even in India and in our geek campus).

So then Sunday. Semi-finals and finals were the only games left. Although I did not voice it, I went in saying in my mind 'We are going all the way, we are WINNING this whole damn thing, not just the semi-final' The semi-final was against these three guys from outside the campus, whom we play all the time. I felt super confident that we could win against them. Despite the fact that one of them is taller even than RRS and my husband, and shoots some spectacular three pointers. I felt super super sure that Bannu & I could take care of the weakest member on their team - a slightly plump (but strong) fellow. And we did. And with that out of the way, it was the final.

I was not so sure about our ability for the final match-up. The team was young. The college team captain, another kid somewhat tall, and a third guy who clearly knows the game very well. But, somehow (strangely! this has never happened before in my past life, I swear), I knew we had to win it, and that we would, although the odds were clearly against us. We are about 2x their age. The foreigner type guy has a phenomenal jump shot. The captain fellow obviously has good basketball instincts. We had a tough day. Shopping for a somewhat meaningful gift for child's upcoming birthday, in the Chennai heat. Late lunch. A work event (husband's) for which I had to don a sari. A shady thumb - infected for sure, ignored till post-match. Bad ankles (me). Bad knees all around, obviously if you have played as much basketball as we all have. But what the heck!

Gender = Just a Letter
Age = Just a Number
Injuries = Are for pansies

All the way, baby, all the way, and back (six point game). And no further injuries (most importantly!). A good endorphin high. An underdog victory. And come Monday morning, back to being profs, parents, and traveling consultants. An overall feeling of satisfaction! I love the game, I think I do well, I know I have my limitations, I have my off days, but I feel happy that I brought my good game yesterday and did not let my team down. But mostly, I am just grateful that I had the chance to play with these two Bannu and RRS who are just phenomenal people. Its also appropriate that that court, where we played yesterday, is exactly where, back in 1991, I played a match (which we finally lost) in which I made around 12 fast break conversions as a tiny freshie college girl and this hulk of a guy walked up to me and patted me on the head and said 'Good game kid.' I did not make that many baskets last night, I have become a much better defender though and he said 'Good game Kenny' last night in the car ride home....

Tuesday, 6 April 2010


There is a smell to April that I used to like. I don't know how to describe the memory of a smell. Especially when I have not encountered it in several years now. But maybe you have an idea what I am talking about. Gulmohars are poised to bloom. I love Gulmohars. Many times I have painted such a wonderfully romantic picture about these flowers to my husband. You have to visit Mysore when the trees are in bloom, in spring, I used to tell him. The first time I took him, squeezed into an auto, from the railway station to the cool clean floors of home, I think he felt it. But that was a long time ago. We don't think about those things any more. I don't get excited about Gulmohars that much any more. I don't.

April is exam time. That meant, in earlier era, oiled hair (for some reason), and notebook after notebook after textbook after textbook. Perhaps the mind has filtered some of it out but surely what is topmost in my mind is the fact that I loved it all. Although, humanly enough, I did feel the relief when exams ended. And we were released. Monkeys from the cage, thats what we were, hair-oil notwithstanding. Monkeys don't have hair, Amma, the monster is very fond of saying. That is the main difference between them and us, Amma, she will clarify. And also some other stuff - the fact about the tail is not on her list of differences, somehow.

In this era its first of all school closing time. This year its also summer camp time. Yes. Finally I have jumped on the summer camp bandwagon and signed her up. Though I am sure she would have been happier if I signed her up for home delivery of books, everyday new stock! all fresh titles! six year olds have never had it this good! something like that. In any case its all good, I figure I have seen the last day of that nasty white uniform, for one (assuming she will not fit into it, come June). I needn't bemoan the lost uniform belt or the torn white canvas shoe and can, possibly, get away with throwing away the damn badge (or maybe not, they took some six months to give it to us, might be useful to carry it forward into year 2)...

Of course, the mind is too full of crap to succumb to the excitement of an impending summer vacation, not that we have any plans for it, its something of a breather, hopefully, at least. But the heat is particularly sapping. The husband is particularly busy with travel. Since I am on a break from running (just till this saturday I think), my mood is not particularly good either in any case. I had to make bank drafts for something, I hate that. I hate going to the bank first of all. I wish I had a husband who would bring a wad of cash and give it to me and say something like 'Make this last' although I could not make it last or anything. And also, I wish he would make bank drafts. 'Whats the big deal, ask the driver to make it' he says. Right. I just don't like the idea so I go myself, and sweat and get irritated.

Its the smell of books closed for good. Pencil boxes put away for several months. New textbooks.New math concepts. Flowers. P.G.Wodehouse. Cycling in the hot sun with my best friend, Honey. Watching that big tree in front of the library bloom, watching my friend, Nectar, study for her exams. Word lists for GRE. Hot hot days in the hostel mess. Wearing shorts and my favourite brown Tevas to the lab. To the shrieks of all the white girls, oooh how cool to have an in-built tan (What?). But thats all in the past. Days follow nights and nights follow days these days and there is no discernable difference. There isn't.

April has come, once again, to the fore. Month four. Its upon us. But my nose doesn't accept it. It denies its very existence. It denies it.