Friday, December 29, 2006
Shane for Shane Warne. Like the cricketer. But only for his appearance – fair-headed and irresistibly attractive with a spring in his step despite his lumbering large frame. It has nothing to do with his [the original Shane’s] propensity for making it to tabloid double spreads for his extra-curricular exploits.
This Shane is the most moral man that walked the earth.
This Shane hadn’t touched a girl till he was 28. This Shane hadn’t even been in love till he turned 33, to the exact day.
And till then, his thirty-third year, he concentrated all his passion on particular things.
Till he was 12, it was horses. He loved them with an intensity that frightened those who beheld his strange secret communion with them. He spoke in a tongue that no one but the horses understood. It was in his breath, the heavy snorting pounding pumping of air and life that tears through the earth under thundering hooves. It was in the sweat that poured out of him when he hugged her neck and cut through the wind. It was in his eyes that could in a moment become from a gentle grey to flashing green blue waves that thrashed about with an unfathomable rage. Then suddenly one day, they moved houses; far away from the race tracks and he never stepped upon a saddle again.
He was like that. Willful. One moment he could feel his being fused with the object of his affection, and the next, there would be a cold impenetrable sheath between him and it, never to be pierced again.
When he was 15 it was football. On the field he was invincible. Running through mud and grass skidding on pale knees, kicking with all his might, his thoughts and eyes and being all focused on one thing – to get the ball through wind, through people, past the goalkeeper in through the goal post; and at such times he would feel the stirring of an ancient rhythm thunder through his veins, like when he rode the horses. In moments like these, he was happiest. Despite his poor eyesight, Shane soon became the most powerful player on the school team.
One day, that too ended. He grew up and discovered cigarettes and chai.
He was 18 when he realised that he could sit for hours at a go, concentrating on nothing. Emptying his mind of everything. And he could be alone. Wherever. Whenever. Somewhere, something was beginning to fit and he experienced a sense of peace and calm he had never felt before.
This is how he met his Mother. She came to him one night naked and beautiful, in a dream, and put his aching head on Her lap. Shane had his first glimpse of the intensity of love. For the first time, it didn’t confuse him. And yet he couldn’t describe it. Was it soothing? Was it passionate? Was it deeper than his soul? Was it lighter than sunshine? What was it that he felt when he put his head down in Her lap?
Once he knew love like that, Shane was a changed man. He savoured moments that he could be alone and shut his eyes. He sought stillness in the winding roads of the Himalayan foothills. And that’s how he discovered his other passion. Bikes. Everywhere he went, even in his dreams, he rode his bike down to the last inch of his destination. His obsession grew so much that one day, when he was drunk and doped beyond coherence, Shane walked out of a party clinging to the handles of his bike, waving his arms every time he turned right or left, till he was finally home two hours later, still walking and waving.
For all the years in between, Shane has a few vivid memories. They aren’t painted with the colours he saw, the textures he touched and the smells he smelled. They are painted with the memories of different caresses. Caresses of people and experiences and thoughts and moments. And through all of these he felt alone, till each time he put his head down on Mama’s lap and forgot each one in an instant, never to recall it again.
And then one day he turned thirty three, and she walked into his life, with ‘exquisite cheekbones and intense black eyes’, or so he thought, till she showed him in the sunlight how truly, brightly brown they were.
For the first time in his life, Shane forgot everything. He forgot Mama, he forgot his work, he forgot his religion… all he saw was the erratic, confusing, confounded hypnosis of her brown eyes that seemed black but weren’t. For the first time in his life Shane felt completely absorbed in here and now. She took form in the distant lands of his dreams. She filled his life, all thirty three years, completing memories of things that had been half lived. And like a fly to a fire, she consumed him in her love. Bit by bit…
Till one day he woke up and realised how truly unhappy he was. With touch. With sight. With sound. With love.
That day, he bought an air ticket to a far off land. He shut his eyes and flew into the night. And when the pretty airhostess asked him if he’d like tea or coffee, he didn’t respond. He was far away, his head in his Mother’s lap, and everything was forgotten once more.
He seeks a passion that will carry him through lifetimes… beyond here and now.
And every time he moves on, exhausted and spent with the futility of his passion for an unworthy cause, he leaves them in Her lap, one square-eternity of love to tide them past his treachery. Mama’ll take care of his follies.
And She does.
Wednesday, December 13, 2006
One blue eye is slightly smaller than the other. In a charming, attractive sort of way.
He glances up every now and then to comprehend why she’s taking so long to make sense of something so simple. Sometimes he does it just to get a good look at her.
“What are you thinking?”
Nothing. She’s sick of this shit. She’s rehashed the same damn thing five times, and right now she couldn’t care a rat’s arse. She’s blank.
Hmmm. He’s NOT going to be judgemental. He’d promised himself before boarding the flight that he wouldn’t be judgemental. But this is just not going anywhere. It’s just so simple and yet… nothing’s moving forward. Why can’t she just put it down? It’s just a damn three-minute story for heaven’s sake!
“It’s a tough topic this one, don’t worry. It will take time,” he offers. It’s been ten minutes and nothing’s moved. He felt obliged to speak.
She knows what he’s thinking. She can tell how frustrated he’s getting. She can see he’s making an effort to be patient. And right now, she can’t help but be amused at how hard he’s trying. Story be damned. This is funny. Ha ha. Ha.
She looks up and smiles at him.
He’s confused. He doesn’t expect a confident bold concentrated gaze from her. She’s the one who’s supposed to be struggling over here. Uh?
He leaves her alone and turns back to cleaning the timeline and shifting files from bin to bin. One frame here one frame there.
She’s relieved. It isn’t exactly easy to concentrate on a script with a pair of expectant blue eyes watching every squiggling scratch on paper. She tries to write a whole bunch of meaningless nonsense [just to look busy and productively engaged] as indecipherably untidily as she can. Bad idea, because now she can’t read it herself. Ha. This is just not working.
“Right. I think I’ve got it.”
Oh has he now?! She should be offended, but all she can feel is this bubbling mirth well up. This is fun. He knows what I should say in a story about myself. Right.
“Well, so you start with – I love the… and that’s all I’ve ever wanted to be… and you end with so today this is what I am”.
She writes it down as he dictates it. She’s tempted to say “can I get you cup of tea please sir, after the dictation?” But she daren’t. He’s being wonderfully helpful. This isn’t his job, and she knows she’s being rather arsey.
She smiles again. He’s not amused. There’s something about her smile he can’t place… it seems to bore through him, gently. It makes him…
He pulls out the recording device and asks her to read out what they’ve just written. She reads it. It sounds terrible. But she can’t complain. As she ends with “and today this is what I am” she can’t help let a long suppressed giggle escape.
She wants desperately to share the joke. This is terrible prose. It stinks... But he refuses to look into her eyes.
She feels stupid. Chastised. She shuts up.
The day has already come to an end. The voice-over sucks. Everybody can see that. So can he. And finally now it’s hitting her that she’s holding a headless baby. Her baby.
Fark. Fark. Fark.
Things are really looking shitty.
Besides she’s already heard from the others that he doesn’t like to stay at work beyond 6:30 pm. It’s 8:30 pm. she’s feeling guilty and all she wants to do is go home and die. Three days of no sleep. She can’t take anymore… least of all his judgement.
“Listen, I was thinking we could stay back another hour and crack this.”
She’s startled. But… but, doesn’t he want to go home?
She declines politely. “I’d rather go home and figure it”
She’s surprised at the puzzled look on his face.
“Ummm. Are you sure? I was thinking maybe we could...”
“No. Really”. She surprises herself with her firmness.
“Well. Ok. But call me anytime. Err… that’s if you need to sound off something… err if you give me your number I’ll send you my guesthouse number and umm… yeah”.
“Hey, and don’t worry about calling me any time. Seriously. I’ll be ummm… yeah. Just call.”
He told her later that he thought she was the most efficient and organised and focussed of the lot he had worked with, as he gazed sweetly into her eyes over amritsari fish and paneer tikka.
Ah. If thoughtfulness were angel wings, bro you’d be the featheriest [read ‘hairiest’ in bird-speak] critter up there…
Back to da tag.
So the task is:
1. Grab the book closest to you. Don't choose!
2. Open to page 123, go down to the fifth sentence.
3. Post the text of the next 3 sentences on your blog.
4. Name of the book and the author.
Luckily enough, the closest book to me is ‘Candy is Dandy’ by Ogden Nash. My all-time office companion.
So, from IT’S SNUG TO BE SMUG [on page 123]
Quoting line 5 onwards [oddly pertinent lines I daresay!]…
So I don’t really wish I had the wings of an angel, but sometimes I wish I had the sweet voice of a thrush,
And then if I sang an Indian Love Lyric why thousands of beautiful beauties [handsome hotties in this case] would harken and quiver and blush,
And it would be a treat to hear my rendition of Sweet Alice Ben Bolt.
I haven’t a clue of what Sweet Alice Ben Bolt is. Obviously a charming little ditty by some work-deprived love-lorn dandy for his sixteen-year-old virginal sweetheart way back in 1829. But enough. This caustic tongue will get me nowhere with the thousand handsome hotties.
So. Coming back, I think I’ll replace this song with…
Thursday, December 07, 2006
She said: “How odd.”
He said: “Yes. It is.”
They were silent.
He said: “But I like it a bit spiky now.”
He said: “It’s more fun that way. For me.”
She said: “Me too.”
She smiled. He smiled. They both looked down at the paneer tikka, amritsari fish and virgin mary.
He said: “No smoking, no drinking?”
He said: “Your body must be a temple.”
She blushed into her script. He fiddled with the keyboard. Too late to take it back.
He said: “We wear only blacks and greys.”
She said: “That’s a gorgeous red shirt.”
He bought it immediately.
He said: “You have a sophisticated, penetrating, deep gaze that I find slightly confusing/ seductive”.
She said: “that’s a long sentence.”
He smiled. She smiled [confused and slightly seduced].
He said: "Dear H"
She said: "go on."
He said: “Alvida.”
She said: “Kal chaand dekha thha?”
Tiny tiny fleeting crush. Across continents.
[Phish, if you’re reading this, let me explain … ha ha ha.]
Wednesday, November 29, 2006
He feels I’ll be more honest then.
You see I’m making a short film about my relationship with English. It’s like a tragi-comedy. This relationship that English and I share. English has flooded my brain. It’s the language I speak, think and dream in. It takes me time to construct complete thoughts and sentences in Hindi. I can do it. It’s not that I can’t. I’ve been ashamed about losing my conversance with Hindi for very long. So now, deliberately, I can.
But all it takes is a short circuit in the emotion department and Boom; I’m off blathering a completely nonsensical English-Kashmiri-Bengali-trying-to-be-Hindi mix of incoherent nonsense.
And yet somehow, I never seem to be able to speak it [English] quite as well and fluently as I’d like to. My sense of grammar and pronunciation are purely instinctual… and often completely off the mark. There are times when I go so horribly wrong that I feel close to tears over my ineptitude. Like right now… I wasn’t sure if it should be ‘about’ or ‘over’ or ‘at’ my ineptitude.
The thing is, I had set out to find evidence of how I learnt to speak English – the structured formalness of it that we inherited as part of our education, from the British; and juxtapose it what it’s evolved to today. I was hoping to find a certain sense of exuberance and vitality in the way that I use it today, that I hoped would be a departure from the fossilised package that I received it as.
However, I find that while things around me have changed… and the language ‘on the street’ is adapting very quickly to this fluid, non-structured, organic, grammatically irreverent, linguistically multi-tonal [and now often Americanised] expression, I too have somehow been marginalised in my quest to keep the sanctity of English as I received it. I am as much an oddity as the people I thought I’d hold up under the microscope.
So where does this take my film? What am I achieving through it?
Have I just signed a contract to create a charming little self-lampooning portrait of myself for an audience that really doesn’t figure in my life except perhaps for its intrepid ancestors who put me in this bloody spot to begin with?
Suddenly I feel like I’m back in nursery learning ‘London Bridge’, so I can sing it back in my flat Indian accent for amusement.
Tuesday, November 28, 2006
It’s already begun – that fading of detail when the sharpness of the edges goes first and then like burning celluloid, the rest becomes large gaping holes and frayed nothingness in a heavily pregnant head.
But I’m straying, from the richness of the room. Large cushions propping his head and shoulders, draped in rust and gold. Motifs from the Far East and India and I can’t say from where else anymore. It’s just an impression, much like the rest. Much like all of it.
And I really must stop being indulgent. I must resist the urge to get caught in what I feel about the act of ‘putting it down’. That isn’t important. Or at least not important to what occurred.
Right. To business.
Somehow the sibling was involved. It isn’t clear now how. But the sibling had a part to play.
He was visiting from somewhere important. He was important. Spiritually? Politically? Of royal descent? Like a nawab... it isn't clear. I don’t know, I can’t say. I am like the thoughtless princess in fairytales. Things happen to her. That’s just how it is.
And his sole purpose for the visit? To spend a productive night with the most eligible woman in the country. Why? We can’t say. It’s a flawed story.
Somehow it didn’t seem odd. It didn’t seem demeaning. It didn’t seem a whole lot of things it should have. Instead, it was sacred.
Like ghosts they played a part in setting it up. Other people. The room; and everything else that it shut out. The scene. The space. The time. There has to be time and space to mark an event. To limit it. To make it tangible. To slot it in a memory. Because eventually, it is and was and will always be only him and me. Through rocks and water, skin and flesh, blogposts and dreams; through dust and ether and eternity.
In a tiny room, on a floating boat with one large window overlooking river water and a sprawling bed. Gold rust drapes on the window, on the bed, on the cushions… everywhere.
And she knew she would only ever give herself to him. Completely.
To him. With love. For love. In love. Mixed with semen. Mixed in vagina. Mixed with bits of brain and thought.
In love. For love. Grey green gold white brown black tangle.
That night I became pregnant. For nine lifetimes.
Saturday, November 11, 2006
My parents apparently thought it very charming to see their little girl in two pigtails singing Piggy on the Railroad with gusto, and they rarely hesitated to include others in this happy ritual. Only thing was, once I started I wouldn’t stop.
These singing sessions would invariably start like this:
Mum: “Baby, sing a song for Auntie X”
H [deep intake of breath. gulp. Eyes shut, mouth opens, top volume]:
“Pigggy on the raaaaaailroad, piccccking up stones
Daaaaauwn came an engine…”
Clap clap clap clap clap!
Auntie X: “That’s lovely little H!”
Mum: “thank you baby. Now run along and play”
H [another deep intake of breath. gulp. Eyes shut, mouth still open, top volume]:
“Piggggggy on the rrrrrrrrrrraaailroad…”
Mum: “Ummm baby don’t you want to go play with your toys?”
H: “..picking up… “
Auntie X: “Look at what I’ve found in my bag! Only for little H!!!.“
H: “… stones…“
Auntie X: “Who’s going to take this chocolate from auntie?! Who’s going to pop a nice sweet chocolate in her mouth [and shut the bleeding hell up]?”
H: “…Daaaaauuuun came an engine and broke piggggggy’s bone
AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAaa said the piggy…”
Mum [smiling purposefully]: “Baby that’s enough.”
H: “… that’s not fair!
Oooo said the engine driver…”
Mum [gently, firmly steering me back to my room]: “Baby really that’s enough. Auntie’s going to get a headache now.”
H “… I don’t care!”
After one particularly intense session of piggy getting mauled on the railroad, repeatedly, this ritual stopped. Mum didn’t seem to want me to sing for nice chocolate carrying aunties and uncles anymore.
I didn’t really think about it till a few days ago when I remembered this.
Copyright to this masterpiece belongs to little H [5yrs].
Thursday, October 26, 2006
I feel privileged that my friends tag me.
Because it shows how they’d like my [evidently indispensable] opinion on several things apart from and in addition to those that I already eruct in these parts. Honestly. I feel like Grace Kelly being tippity tappity tap-dance-tagged by Fred Astaires up on stage. Like a real star.
Getting down to actually completing a tag task, increasingly I find is beyond my capacity to…
Let’s face it. Most tags are tailored like goodwill group-therapy exercises. They force you to think of things-about-yourself that haven’t already occurred to you a million times since you started your blog. [Or else you’d have written about it already, right?] They make you delve into those inconsequential parts of your personality that didn’t even engage your own interest. [Or else you’d have blogged about it already, right?]
This tag is from my dear [and slightly-annoyed-with-me-now] friend HB. He wants me to spill on nine reasons why I’m weird.
But I’m not weird.
I’m normal. As normal as normal gets. The average-est person that could exist. Falling directly and squarely at the centre of all means. Statistically speaking of course. [I’m not mean like that. Just averagely mean – like anybody else I pinch helpless babies, make grown men cry, swerve my car within inches past old people on roads, torture little animals, get arsey about completing tag tasks and instead of just shutting the hell up and letting my 'tagee' friends believe I'm lazy, I write nasty posts about the tag etc… basically nothing out of the ordinary that comes even remotely close to the extreme recesses of ‘weird’].
When I first heard of this tag, I thought gleefully. Ah. Fun. This should be interesting. But then as I thought about it more and more, it dawned on me – isn’t trying to define one’s weirdness a form of extreme self-adulation?
As in: Oh look! I’m so weird. And that makes me different. Which means I’m so special!
It’s that particular, irritating italicised kind of highlight – like exclamation marks in excess, or that thing people do with a smirk while speaking with their fingers to say ‘quote unquote’. [I just did it].
So, here’s something to ponder over:
1.) We’re all struggling really really hard to fit in.
2.) We’re all depressive at time.
3.) We’re all twisted.
4.) We’ve all felt (at least at one point in our lives) that we were adopted or/ and the only secret alien life-form-designed-in-emulation-of-humans left behind on Earth by the Tralfamadorians.
5.) We’ve all got moments that are devastatingly sad.
6.) We’ve all laughed at seriously non-funny non-jokes (for days sometimes).
7.) We’ve all got quirks, talents and non-talents.
8.) We’re all clueless about why we’re here and why we wake up every morning.
9.) And ALL of us do stupid things so we can tell ourselves each morning just how our life is so much more seriously purposeful than the next person’s, while we believe just the opposite.
And that’s just plain old bloody boring-as-it-gets normal.
There. I said it. Nine reasons why I’m [not] weird.
Wednesday, October 25, 2006
With Her love
For the beautiful soul, the only one
Who’s made me try to be a better person
My beloved muse
For whom I’ve only always written terrible poetry
I wish endless beauty, love, peace and joy…
With all my heart
Happy birthday, my darling.
Sunday, October 22, 2006
I have something to tell you.
About winter in Delhi.
A time when beautiful birds migrate to the equator and spring is buried under the dreariness of cold days and long nights.
[Waitaminute! We ARE at the equator and we don’t even farkin’ have spring in these parts… lying bastard poets.]
Let’s start again.
Winter in Delhi. Detestable dastardly season [dumb damned non-alliteration].
A time when clichés abound and alliterations run amuck. Evidently.
So here’s cutting straight to the point:
I am poikilothermic.
I’m feeling particularly torturous, so I will let you take in this word, marvel at it, marvel at my vocabulary, and then perhaps just a few unnecessary words more… and yes, okay, I’ll let you in on what it means.
Poikilothermic. That’s what it means.
Yes yes. Go on; make those connections about loving lyrics on three-limbed-two-tailed lizards and such.
So. Getting back to the point of this post, to dwell somberly upon what happens when the temperature drops below 25 degrees:
1.) My extremities go stone cold [how’s that for a lousy-arsed cliché eh? Not bad.]
2.) My nose, as I know it ceases to exist. It becomes a cold, non-osmotic runny appendage connected painfully to my sinuses.
3.) I eat too much and become fat.
4.) My car won’t start.
5.) I have to wear at least seven layers to keep me minimally warm; which makes my back ache and restricts movement.
6.) 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 have a dire effect on my overall sense of well being, which in turn adversely affects the fine balance of humours in my body.
I have every reason to be a crotchety bastard/ bitch/ blossoming farkin’ chilblain.
Oh. How I hate winter! [And that’s just too farting poetic for how I’m feeling right now.]
So, for all of you who’ve known me as a happy bright sunny creature, gamboling in the sun, making light of adversities, sharing joy, spreading love, picking posies ya da ya da… take note: sunny days on Shout are numbered.
Perhaps you can tell; it’s already getting nippy.
Oh and. I’m talking Celsius. 25 degrees Celsius.
Wednesday, October 18, 2006
Confession 2: I didn’t draw this.
Thanks to HB, he-da-man, super cool graffiti artist, I now have a wall that Frank of FoxxyFyrre has so kindly accepted and put on his own blog.
So please don’t get fooled by that ‘By: H’ on the wall. That’s just HB being modest. [and H wishing it was true].
People. Please admire it.
Monday, October 16, 2006
I don’t know where this morbid tag originated, but what the ho! I shall roll up my sleeves and plunge in.
However all ye who enter here, please note that there’s a precondition to attending my funeral.
Everyone must wear something pink. EVEN if you attend from your private haven, via the Ethernet in spirit and all that, and it so happens that you’re one of those who like surfing the net in the buff… don’t worry. You could suck on a pink candy. That’s good enough. But PINK it must be.
Okay. So now that you’ve all agreed in spirit… here goes:
Songs I’d like played at my funeral:
1.) Build me up Buttercup – The Foundations. This is to be performed by all Exes – first to last, in ring formation. Around the pyre.
Suggested costume: fishnet stockings, apron strings, pink cheerleader pom-poms and black patent hoe-pumps. [There’s an extra pair (of the shoes only) in my closet for anyone to borrow].
2.) When the Saints go marching in – the Louis Armstrong version. With a slow Russian [or was it German?] march up to the pyre.
PS: don’t be lazy, raise ‘em legs high. I’ll be watching yooooooooo.
3.) Gypsy Eyes – Electric Ladyland, Jimi Hendrix, ‘cause that’s the only way to send off a gypsy girl. The only ONLY way.
Pay your respect people.
4.) Shanti Paath [shanti = hindi for ‘peace’, Paath = hindi for ‘prayer’]
Yeah well ok guys, ‘tisn’t exactly a party-starter, BUT. You do realise that eventually we all have to be some-nebulous-place else, where tanpuras play in CFL lit tunnels and all that... SO, much as I love y’all, and “thanks for all the music, fun and gaiety”, ya da ya da… do me a favour – Just say the damn prayer and wish me luck on my journey, ok?
Come to think of, I should be past caring by then.
Tuesday, October 10, 2006
There was once a large-hearted lady who had a wonderful big family complete with a farting dog. Each day as they sat around the table for breakfast, she would put in a prayer for all her little ones, her husband and her dog.
But most of all, she would pray for her little boy with hair that shone like the Sun when it’s about to burst forth on a brand new day. Bright flaming red.
Like for any mother, each of her babies was special in their own way. But among them all, it was the little boy with flaming hair who has that unpin-able something that made everybody think to themselves – there’s something about him, I wonder what… Which is not to say that he wasn’t a normal little boy. He was very like all the other children. He laughed and he played and he didn’t do his homework sometimes.
But he also had a special little corner in his heart that seemed to wait for something. He didn’t himself understand what it was. Sometimes he would catch a glimpse of it in a book, or hear it in the refrain of a song or feel it well up in a poem that he needed to write. But he could never quite tell what it was.
Perhaps it was a piece of the flaming morning Sun.
So he spent a lot of his time staring up at the sky, looking for an answer. Then one day, as he was squinting at the setting Sun, sitting by himself as usual, he saw a bent old man approach him framed against the distant ruby horizon like a ragged raven descended from the twilight sky. He watched on mesmerized as the bent old man made his way to where he sat.
The old man spoke in a faint distant voice, “I know what you’re looking for little one, and I can take you to it.”
The little boy was startled. The old man pulled out a little vial from his robe and held it out to the little boy with feeble hands.
“But to get there, you must drink this. It’s a magic potion I made myself.”
The little boy reached out and gingerly took a sip from the vial. Just as soon as he touched it to his tongue, something strange and wonderful happened. With that one taste the little boy was transported across oceans and mountains, beyond the bright blue sky into a dark pool spotted with luminous globes, past moons so large they could swallow the sky. Deeper and deeper, further and further yet closer to what he sought till he was finally in the center of a flaming orb of glowing warm red.
Just as the little boy was about to settle into the warmth of the orb, he was rudely pulled out of it. And when he opened his eyes, he found himself looking into the eyes of the old man. There was something unsettling about those eyes as they laughed at him. When the little boy tried to lift his head, he felt something pulling him down. His bones seemed drenched through with a weariness that belonged to lifetimes and years that he had never known.
When he finally did manage to sit up, he noticed that the old man suddenly seemed stronger and less bent.
Then the old man who was bent no more, spoke in a loud and clear voice, “I could take you there forever little one, but for that you must come back and drink some more…”
Before the little boy could say anything, the old man disappeared into the setting darkness.
That evening everybody noticed that the little boy was quieter than usual. When his mother tucked him in that night, she thought he looked a little worn. His hair though, she later remarked to her husband, shone brighter than ever as it framed his pale face. But it was only when she leaned over to kiss his forehead that she discovered with alarm that his face was covered with the faintest lines, somewhat like a fine blueprint of wrinkles.
She couldn’t believe her eyes and she shook him awake to tell her where he had been that day.
Wearily, the little boy told her the story of the old man and the magic potion. He told her about the magical journey he had been on. The beautiful colours and planets and stars that he had seen. And when he came to the last bit of his story about the flaming orb, she saw the sparkle in his eyes collect in pools that rolled off his cheeks in two big tear drops.
At that moment she felt something stab her heart and she cried out, “Promise me that you will never ever touch that potion again. Promise me that you will never go back there. Promise me!”
She took his hand in hers and held it to her heart, as she waited for him to speak. After several moments he whispered a feeble yes.
The little boy loved his mother dearly, and he really wouldn’t ever do anything to hurt her. But sometimes, when something beckons the very core of who and what you are, it isn’t easy to pull away from it even if it means hurting yourself and the ones you love most dearly. And so… soon after when he was a little stronger, he dragged his feet to the door while his mother lay sleeping on the couch outside. As he crept out, he gave his sleeping mother a loving look that said both how much he loved her, and how sorry he was for letting her down. He paused a long moment, wavering between wanting to hug her, wondering if she’d wake up and hold him back; and walking away quietly… then finally, he blew her a kiss and stole away into the evening.
He slowly made his way to the same place he had last seen the old man, and sat there calmly as he gazed up at the setting globe of fire.
Not long after, he beheld the striking stride of a dark creature silhouetted against the auburn sky. It was the same man he had met not long ago, and yet he was different. Much younger, much stronger, and a lot less human.
“How very nice to see you little one!” said the man-creature with a flicker of his eyes and an unpleasant gash of a smile. “Somehow I knew you would come!”
He ruffled the little boy’s shimmering hair like a greedy merchant caressing a bag of gold. Then suddenly and reluctantly, as if he had just remembered something, he pulled away his claw like hand and reached into his robe. This time he pulled out a big heavy flask.
“Drink this little one, and you will be free forever. But you must drink it all at once before the Sun goes down, else the spell might not work. Hurry, we don’t have much time.”
The little boy took the flask in his hands. As he unscrewed the cap, he noticed the man getting impatient and excited.
He held it for a fleeting moment, as he thought of his family at home. His brothers, his sister, his father, Baron the farting dog and finally, his lovely mother. And then he thought of his mother’s eyes pleading with him to come home…
“Oh do hurry little boy, or you’ll lose your chance forever!”
The man-creature's raspy voice broke into his thoughts. There was something about the voice that made the little boy obey.
He put the flask to his lips and at a go he drained every bit of the fiery liquid.
Immediately the little boy with the flaming crown crumbled to the ground and darkness swept over his eyes. As he felt every drop of consciousness drain away, he heard loud booming evil laughter and the sound of great big wings flapping away. As the sound of the wings grew distant, the shadow lifted and he felt a glowing spread of warmth envelop him… he was falling deeper and deeper into the inky sky once more.
Just as his last thought fled his mind, he whispered to a passing cloud...
“Tell mama, that at every ruby sunset, when the Sun is aglow with red, I will be by her side, watching her beautiful smile.”
Tuesday, October 03, 2006
She wonders what he’s going to be like. He sounded nice over the phone. But so does everybody else in these initial interactions. Then again, he’s a charming writer of letter and … well, other writing. But we always put our best foot forward despite ourselves, don’t we?
Her innards threaten to swallow her as she nears the hotel. Somehow this meeting-in-a-hotel-lobby thing is very shady. Suddenly she wants to get out of it. She wants to turn back and run. The thought of being nice is making her ill. She feels like a scamster, a common cheap con artist when she’s being nice to new people. It also puts her off when they’re nice to her for no apparent reason but that they should be liked. It’s a farce. And in such situations a part of her self invariably divorces her body and retreats to the roof-beam to look down at shell-of-her participating in this facetious game; scoffing, putting evil thoughts in her head, gunning at her brain with an endless cynical rant. And right now, she can feel that terrible split coming on. No no no. please no. Just hold yourself together for once.
She parks her car. Slowly. Deliberately. Her hands are cold. Sweaty. Uggg. Nothing’s more disgusting than cold clammy hands. She wipes them against her denims. Everything she does is studied and slow. If she moves any faster, she knows she will jitter like a… damned cliché.
She pats her hair down. Fluffs it a bit. Licks her lips. Checks her eyes for kohl smudges. One last toss of her head, and she’s off. It helps to have long legs. There’s a lot of uncertainty that you can hide with the length of your stride. She could be marching off to file a Public Interest Litigation.
She reaches the lobby. Looks around. He isn’t there. Or at least she’s convinced herself he isn’t there. She wouldn’t really know because she hasn’t ever seen him. It gives her a little more time and something to do with her arms. She always finds that in such situations she has limbs-in-surplus.
With unsteady hands she pulls out her phone. It threatens to slip with all the clamminess and she can’t seem to press the correct digits. Damn. After a whole minute of fumbling with it she manages to connect.
R? Hi. Ummm. I’m here… errr… I mean I’m here in the lobby. Are you…? Oh ok. Right. So, yes, see you. Oh, of course! No problem! Take your time. Bye.
Her telephone-smile fades as soon as she disconnects.
“Take your time???” Haaah. She hates HATES waiting for people. What’s he doing anyway? Putting on his make-up?
I knew this blind date thing was a bad idea. So annoying not to know what you’re setting yourself up for. Blast the blindness of this dumb bloody date…
But she’s secretly glad for this breather.
She looks around, seeks out an empty sofa and settles in. Her eyes sweep around the lobby. Lots of middle-aged men. Sitting, chatting, conducting business, meeting old friends and making new ones. Sometimes they glance up and catch her eye. She doesn’t like the way they smile at her. Do they think she’s a pick-up? A…a… a you-know-what?? Bastards. She tries not to scowl. Come to think of it, how different is a blind date really? Haaah. No no no. Don’t go there stupid woman. This is a DATE. And she’s here because he has a room here because he’s visiting from another city because they decided to meet because… well whatever. Nothing shady about it. Not really. No. NO.
Have I told myself how much I hate hotel lobbies?
Twiddle dee twiddle dum. Now what? She crosses her legs. Uncrosses them. Looks at her nails. Aaahhh. There’s a bit of skin along her left index finger cuticle that looks so bite-offable. Should she? Maybe just a quick nip. Nobody will notice…
She looks up with a start. A million thoughts rush in. Shit, this sofa is too sinky. Don’t get up too fast, you’ll fall back and look like an ass. Should I hold my hand out or should I hug him? He’s cute. Damn. He’s cute and I’m so goofing this already.
She stands up gingerly, taking ages at it. Smiles at him. He’s beaming back. He seems so… so comfortable with himself. Nice.
He asks her something.
He repeats himself. She responds. The entire evening she’s distracted. He notices. He asks, she smiles and says “Oh nothing”.
Blame it on the split. Bloody bloody stupid self-on-roof-beam won’t stop with the farkin’ commentary. Non-stop bloody opinion-factory.
It’s time to leave. She’s pleased he insisted on paying, but not too much. He wasn’t overbearing. He allowed himself to be taken out by a girl he’s met for the first time.
She’s happy. It’s gone, ummm, kind of well.
She of course hasn’t noticed that he on the other hand, is a bit confused.
He walks her to her car. Suddenly there aren’t any words to fill the space between them. They walk in silence. It’s that iffy moment when one must leave… but on what note?
As she’s about to get in and deliver a well rehearsed thank-you-I-had-a-lovely-time, she turns to him on impulse. She smiles. He smiles back. There’s a tiny tiny moment of now-what? Then jerkily, almost clumsily, she leans forward and throws her arms around him.
He’s pleasantly responsive. He hugs her back warmly, wholly and firmly.
That’sverynice she thinks fuzzily. She has this judge-people-by-their-hugs quirk. Suddenly she realises, self-on-roof-beam is silent for the first time.
… Not too soon after, and not too long after, it’s time for her to drive back home. Finally.
Monday, October 02, 2006
How can anyone be so oblivious to another’s adulation? I wonder. He just doesn’t seem to notice me ever.
But. That’s okay I suppose, for he’s come to be my lucky mascot over time. Not that he’s ever brought me luck really, but seeing him lifts my spirit. Makes me happy. Cheers me up. Ya da ya da.
Today, on impulse I also reached out for my Wallflowers album. After four years. Suddenly Jacob Dylan’s I’m-the-studliest voice transported me to way-back-then.
Jooooosephine, you’re so sweet/ you must taste just like sugar and taaaaangerine…
Gosh he’s something else. [All right, so slot me]. Four years ago I was coming out of my first serious relationship. And my job sucked. I was working at a corporate house as their media consultant, and this is what I listened to by way of catharsis. Day in and day out. Literally.
My day began in my non-aircon white 800, with Jacob singing at top volume, as I tried to drown out every thought of the day-gone-by and the day-to-come, the people I had met and the people I had to meet. Each day I would arrive at work, smiling. And as the day wore on, the smile would wane. The nice girl struggling to stay afloat would get drowned out and the monster would rear her ugly head. Pushy, aggressive, megalomaniac boss, his oily lazy secretary, sleazy touchy-feely colleague [who I later heard was fired from his next job for molesting a co-worker], and an assortment of other equally detestable corporate fauna were not good for my well-being. Every evening I’d step out itching to do serious damage, and then Jacob would soothe my nerves.
This routine lasted for three months. Then one day I said enough. So, I changed my job.
Today his voice brought back a rush of bittersweet things I didn’t remember existed in me – a dull nervous knot that sat at the center of my colon during those horrid days and the joy of hearing his lovely voice fill me up with hope of a better time.
I also saw S today. So casually. Like it was yesterday that we were in school, and I was silly and seventeen again. It was embarrassing to feel my heart thump wildly and loudly and painfully. I had this sudden urge to straighten my hair, tug at my faded pink t-shirt and look a lot more nonchalant than I felt right that moment. But I couldn’t, and after ages I felt like an inept idiot with my mouth gone dry and my ears all hot and red. So I just hung my head and let him pass by, without a sign of recognition.
Three crushes. Three lives. Three different times.
I can see the moon from my window. Sigh.
There’s something about it…
Thursday, September 28, 2006
In silence, he was gone.
The next day, his grandmother passed away at 4:55 in the morning.
Like paper. Thin and frail. They had tied her body tightly and firmly, one loop at the hands that were swollen with the pressure, one loop that bound the big toes, and one around her neck. Almost as if they expected an 83 year old woman’s cadaver to protest the escaping of life.
Hospitals are strange, dispassionate places; like flipbooks of all that might happen to you – from the delivery room to the mortuary. Frames in constant motion. And so, they tie up bodies of frail old women like frisky goats to the slaughter.
Three women, from three families, we open the knots on Dadi’s naked body with trembling hands that half recoiled at the touch of her cold skin; half desperate to rub life back into her limbs. It’s just a body. It’s just skin and bones and frozen flesh. There is nothing of Dadi in it.
Her daughter: “Ma loves it when I comb her hair down with scented oil and tie it.” she says this as she runs frantic finger through Dadi’s dishevelled hair. Her fingers can’t open the knots. “What have they done to ma?” She’s half rambling incoherently, as her tears fall on cold skin. “Mamma, don’t worry. I’ll make you look beautiful once more ma”. She kisses dadi’s forehead. The imprint of her lips settles on Dadi’s skin like a stamp.
Her daughter-in-law: As Dadi lay helplessly on the bed a few days ago, C held her hand and assured her that the two big pots of rice and fish that were waiting to be cooked, taunting her at her bedside, would be taken care of. “Ma, the fish has been cleaned and the mustard paste has been added, don’t worry I won’t let it go bad”.
Her granddaughter: She isn’t really my grandmother. She’s U’s grandmother. Six months ago she asked me about G. The next day, G & I broke up over the telephone. These last three nights, I’ve had recurrent dreams. Last night he walked back into the car park, standing by my stolen car, looking like he’d been waiting for me for very long. For the first time I saw him smiling.
Sponging cold skin with towels
Snot and tears
And soapy wet cloth
This is just a thing that must be cleaned
Off white sari, six yards long, with a pretty red border
A streak of vermilion through her parted hair
A final red dot on her forehead.
U, his father, his uncle and Dada [his grandfather] are all dressed in white. White looks so attractive on Indian skin. It is not necessary for the women to dress in white. Men must perform all rituals. The women may prepare the body, but the men will see it off.
Dada wanders around the house without a thought. Without purpose. He has to get somewhere. Somehow he doesn’t seem to know where.
People are pouring in. He had anticipated the decorum of this solemn occasion. He had run it through his head several times. In the army they teach you to be a gentleman. Calm. Composed. The picture of equanimity. And yet now, while he’s in the middle of it, he isn’t feeling solemn. He isn’t feeling anything actually. Vaguely, he’s aware, that there’s some place he has to be.
Her eldest son looks busy. Calls. People. Arrangements. But every once in a while he sneaks away to her room, to crumble a bit. That’s U’s father. He wanted me to buy her one of those special walking sticks from HK, the kind that serious hikers use. That was after she was bedridden. It's still in its packing. Hasn’t been touched.
He is dazed when he lights the pyre. At some point, the priest makes him take a long wooden pole and jab hard at a particular part of the fire. He does it. Then he is told that what he just did was crack her skull to allow her soul to escape her body.
His expression does not change.
No one cries in this family. They just shrink. Look smaller. More vulnerable. Like paper dolls.
Monday, September 25, 2006
Okay. So this is going to take the form of a tag.
Since HB asked... here's H's monster head.
self portrait. blurred. 'cause the sibling very optimistically thinks every stalker out there visits my blog.
But BEWARE: it's like medusa's curse... once you've seen the H-head then either you post a pic of yourselves on your respective blogs too, or turn to stone. [I'm serious. You're going to start developing cracks and peels very soon if you don't pay heed.]
So, those of you who I know come here... HB, Nan, Lizza, Prometheus, NG, B.Diddy, Prat. Go on. I'm waiting...
Monday, September 18, 2006
Cerebral flatulence, or simply: brain fart on how Men=Women=opportunistic egotistical parasites; and other disjointed meanderings within walls
Men of course, ARE the cliché. [now now bwoys, queue up at the ‘launch offensive here’ counter.]
Odious nursery rhyme:
What are little boys made of?
Frogs and snails, and puppy dog tails,
That's what little boys are made of.
What are little girls made of?
Sugar and spice, and everything nice,
That's what little girls are made of.
‘Sugar and spice and all that’s nice’ indeed. Women. Ha ha. [Come again, thank you.] Ha. Many who often slip in and out of stereotypes like schizophrenic mermaids, conveniently, shamelessly, happily and almost innocently, like I do. It doesn’t take a moment does it, to express at one instant a deep frustration with not being perceived as an ‘individual’ and at the other, happily expecting that ‘he’, universal bastard, should understand that all the world’s problems are 99.9% because of ‘him’ and the remaining 0.1% perhaps sometimes maybe because of perfectly understandable menstrual syndromes – post and prior.
[Weeeemen, there’s a separate ‘ladies-queue’ at the selfsame counter]
Audacity is what it is. To smirk and swivel well polished tongues at those who really toil. It is them that divide the intellectuals from the working millions. Men or women. Men and women. Just people. And they fool them into believing it’s a battle of troughs and crests [vaginus vs penis]. But it isn’t. [Well sometimes.] The difference is in the intellectuals and the nons [suffixless too as they cease to be worthy of an existence-qualifying noun by virtue of a more-than-qualifying prefix].
The one will break wind of any kind from any orifice and the other will toil. Ceaselessly. And yet, the one thinks they are superior to the other.
The one will trudge and wear out every bone and breathe and drop of sweat in the living; and the other will fight wars with eloquent nouns adverbs and pronouns strung cleverly upon breathless punctuations.
Personally, I struggle between the absence of a tongue – spilling suppressed frustrated virulence in half-coherent echoes within walls; and a disconnected, disjointed ability to speak before only those who I know will not disagree. [Self-indulgent aside.]
And we are so proud of our brains. Exquisitely wired bits of circuiting that we had no hand in soldering, nor ever will. And yet we believe, and in that belief we are unshaken, unhesitant, not even for an atomic nanosecond, that the brain and we are One. Such pride in a gaksome mass of grey gook that we, till death do us part, KNOW is the immutable, indivisible [and often insufferable] I.
But what if you were to lose bits of yourself every day. Bit by bit. And not even know about it? What if all that were left of you was a fragile dust-self held together by a silvery, almost two-dimensional cobweb outline of your Self, so tentative that a single breath could scatter it all. Forever.
Then what brain?
Where does I end and Fate begin?
Why are there so many non-believers really? Why must magic be tantamount to unreality?
Am I to believe that pink-shirted-man-on-motorcycle who swerved and nearly came under my wheel, making my car stop and causing a heated argument that lasted over thirty minutes, that just happened to utterly and entirely shake the shape of events through the day by a thirty-minute-delay and foul temper; be the result of just a moment of wavering suffered inexplicably by Mr. Pink? Was it just an aberration in Mr. Pink’s motor functions? Or was it the function of Fate in a larger picture that wanted me to not only get delayed and miss an important appointment that might well have serious implications on my future project, but also continue through the day in a foul mood and mess up more personal and delicate equations that could have devastating repercussions on my life?
This tiresome thought too is such a bloody cliché. Top to bottom.
Where does it end really?
[Disclaimer: I, Left-brain-of-H, don't subscribe to/ support/ or believe in either the argument (if there be one, hidden in the layers of text here) or the counter-argument (if it's possible) to any view (or views) that might, wittingly, or unwittingly be presented here by either Right-brain-of-H, any-other-renegade-organ-of-H, H-in-whole, or any other of the many bogus 'I'-the-Hs you may encounter.]
Monday, September 11, 2006
I’ve been meaning to write this one so long that I don’t know how to begin it anymore. It’s a compilation of scraps written between meals and uncomfortable flights.
First off. I’ve realised I write like a fucking dumper truck. Laboured. Sludgy. Dense. And full of shit.
Nearly fifteen days of being away from Shout has cured me of my obsessiveness. I think. [Then again, maybe not, judging by the length of this dump session]. In the first few hours of my vacation I was aghast at how I couldn’t think out of the blog. I experienced everything like it was a post – in third person. “Now she’s walking down Chinatown…”, “She loves tapioca jelly…” [No, she does NOT really.] And suchlike serious twistedness.
But then again, I’ve always needed a witness [take note, NOT companion] to my vacations to truly enjoy them. Like a pole dancer. Or a stripper. Or a teppanyaki chef. Or… I’llshutupnowcauseyoubasicallygetthedrift.
So. It goes.
Everything’s like a revelation. I haven’t seen such blue green water. I haven’t seen such an under-populated airport. Heck, I haven’t seen such a clean airport! I haven’t seen so many non-Indians. I haven’t seen such pretty roads. I haven’t. I haven’t. I haven’t gaped and gawked like this in a long time. [Slap her, she’s Indian]
That’s what happens when you step out of your country for the first [technically second, if Nepal be foreign enough] time in your life.
S and N are darlings. They take me around. Everywhere. In fact they also introduce me to my ‘fan’. Ahem. Yes. I had [operative – ‘HAD’] a fan. Once upon a time. J. [My my aren’t I so farkin’ International, one?]
Ok. So a bit about J. He’s sulky. Moody. Argumentative. And he’s genuinely nice. [All] fact[s] verified by S, who’s his boss. He also exhibits a keen interest and blossoming talent for charting blueprints of extreme ways of destroying Hello Kitty [I hope he’ll post some on his site]. And, he’s Cancerian to boot. Yay.
Oh AND. J also thinks that America is at the centre of the Universe.
J: OMG you haven’t seen HEAT!?????
H: errrr. Ummm. No.
J: OMG and you’re in films?????!!!!!
H: (stony silence, single eyebrow raised to show mild displeasure… but it goes unnoticed)
J: OMG SHE HASN’T SEEN HEAT. And it’s like the BIGGEST thing that happened to America!!!!!!!!!!
H: (singular eyebrow climbs higher and higher. thinks: ok… charming, but that’s enough J bwoy)
J: (goes on and on and on OMGing)
After which we come to The Westside Story… and it starts again. [OMG YOU HAVEN’T SEEN THE WESTSIDE STORY?????!!!!!!!!]
By the way J, I DO know the Westside Story story… and y’know why? Because we have an Indian Bollywood remake of it. So there.
[But J’s sweet. I like him. And J, if you’re reading this, then I promise the cycle-rickshaw ride in Jaipur, with authentic Hindi music, ok?]
Back to H in Singapura. I walk and walk and walk. And eat and eat and eat.
From Hawker stall to hawker stall I systematically demolish all forms of sea-fauna in and around Singi. From pre-breakfast, breakfast, post-breakfast to pre-lunch, lunch, post-lunch and so on till the post-midnight binge, I plod on relentlessly like a bastard-on-ecstasy.
The BEST bloody thing that could happen, happens to me.
I see a WOMAD poster. I SEE MANY!
I mean, how lucky am I? WOMAD starts on the 25th. Yay.
WOMAD’s awesome. Farking FARRR[rah rah rah rah rah rah rah]KING awe-blardy-some.
Radio Mundial, I have decided, officially rocks. I am so going to buy their music. BUT. What’s cooler still is that I’ve actually worn out a pair of brand new sandals in one evening. It’s like this fairytale that I’ve always been fascinated by:
Fairy tale – 100 princesses wear out their shoes every night. The king tires of getting 100 new pairs made each day, so he publishes a notice through his kingdom that anybody who’s able to find out what they do with their shoes, can marry the princess he chooses. Man with invisible cloak follows them and realises they go dancing every night with a hundred princes. [Eventually Man-with-invisible-cloak chooses the youngest princess. Paedophile bastard. But that’s an aside.]
So my heels now bear the scars of a WOMAD night. Yay.
S has also bought me a cool black WOMAD t-shirt. Made me choke up. The first time I saw G he was in a black WOMAD t-shirt. I’ve had this terrific feeling throughout that I’d run into him somehow. KL’s just a hop away, na?
But I didn’t.
It’s so good to see the sibling after months. Typically, she showers me with hugs and kisses and the next moment she’s shrieking her head off because I put my ‘dirty’ stuff on her bed. Ahhh. Welcome home. [If Royal Orchid Sheraton be home enough].
This is the best birthday present I’ve received – this trip’s been sponsored by her. [Yes, I’m beaming with pride, My sistah catwoman. Rah rah, go sister!]
Thailand is so pretty. But it’s so not-English-speaking. This is the first time I take my head out of my English-speaking arse and take cognisance of the fact that the world’s larger and much much more diverse than I thought.
My cappuccino comes black, topped with cream and lemon rind [yessss, lemon rind]. I detest cream in any form, but sweetened whipped cream and lemon rind I discover taste blardy awesome on coffee.
Once again, most of my meanderings in Bangkok are intervals between delirious eating sessions. Crab, steamed fish dumplings, VIBGYOR curries, assorted seafood soups, coconut water, jackfruit and dried out squid snacks.
My stomach rebels at some point and I’m sternly told not to eat street-food.
I am also absolutely blown by the beauty of Grand Palace. I mean I hate doing touristy things like staring at buildings and marvelling at architecture… but this is simply dazzling. The colours. The gold. I don’t understand how anyone can feel spiritual in a space that is so full of the most remarkable handiwork in gold.
I need more time in Thailand.
I am utterly at sea. I-cannot-understand-them-cannot-understand-me. I’m tempted to switch to Hindi. S has to call up friend-in-Shanghai to order my dessert [which turns out to be tapioca jelly].
Everything is fancy buildings and pretty roads, and S actually calls it hick-town. Wow. Then Delhi, my boy is Ruralia Exotica.
I also note a fascination with Tralfamadorian architecture. “Respect bitch!” S cries, propping up my right arm as we pass one such building. “Hail Galactica”, he pinches my arm for me to repeat after him.
Here I have the most divine; and I repeat, MOST DIVINE prawn dumplings. I have never and probably never will have dumplings as delicate as these. Sigh.
I don’t know why but this part of my post must start like this. It isn’t even about HK.
I HATE tightwads. I can’t effing stand men and women who have a perennial case of wallet constipation.
Of late I seem to only meet men who behave like there’s a mob gunning for their wallets. It’s offensive. It’s pathetic. And it shows a lack of breeding. I couldn’t care a rat’s arse about your money. I don’t like random people paying for me; I don’t allow it. But at least have the fucking courtesy to offer, punk. I will refuse. But offer. It’s basic decency. All women aren’t genetically wired to feed off your pathetic earnings, schmuck.
I’m at the airport. Waiting to board a flight back to Bangkok. And all of this is suddenly bothering me to a point of tears. I think it’s because of the family I see in the waiting lounge. They were with me on the flight from Bangkok to HK two days ago. Familiar faces that are suddenly reassuring here. The man is in his fifties perhaps. He’s American. And his wife is in her late twenties. She’s a demure Thai girl with the cutest baby girl attached to her hips. The boy, who’s about eight is running around, and his father’s trying to keep pace with him. Our eyes meet. He smiles and I smile back. For a moment I almost see a flash of familiar grey-green eyes. And before I know it, I’m sobbing uncontrollably and shamelessly in a fucking steel and plastic waiting lounge. I want to believe it’s because I’m desperately tired.
But I suspect it’s the unexpected memory of what a friend said to me recently about a certain someone, a Vietnamese girl and a dozen half-Indian children.
I’d laughed then. But now it wells up like acid vomit.
It hurts like crazy.
To recap [morbid memory vomit apart], HK was a blast. One night at Lamma Island and the next was spent first at Ned Kelly's firing up our ears with Good Time Dixieland Jazz, with Colin Aitchison & The China Coast Jazzmen, and then roaming Lan Kwai Fong which in S’s words is Ghetto Fabulous at its fabulous best. It truly was. N’s friends K&M were super fun. Carefree Canadian musicians who practically hugged us all the way to the airport.
And back here in Singi, to another exquisite meal sponsored by my rich-&-generous uncle. Cod. Sea Bass. ABALONE [woo hooooo!]. More fish. Squid. Some other tentacly-thing, clam, fish, prawns, more fish. And tapioca jelly dessert [gak. Could’ve done without that].
An inspiring lunch of salmon, tuna, cod and prawn sashimi. [Gawsh! Can you not bother slicing it? just gimme the fish WHOLE].
Inspired Interlude ditty:
I LOVE fish.
Heck I even
like it Raw.
Haul them in
just gimme MORE!
And finally, my final dinner in Singi. Yay. [all of this is interspersed of course with some arsey touristy things like posing with the puking lion – Merlion, and walking through the Esplanade, Clarke Quay, Boat Quay (I loved CQ & BQ) etc.… ya da ya da].
Friends D & A take me to Village, which is a choose-what-you-want-food-court. I must’ve looked like a starved destitute because previously-unnoticed-fellow-diner comes up to me and very kindly suggests: H, why don’t you order what you want for yourself and for me… that way you can eat two things.
I am shameless enough to accept his offer without even a courtesy refusal. In fact I don’t even flinch.
So smoked salmon rosti it is for me, and ummmm let’s see, grilled sea bass for you. And wait; let’s get pizza too. Make that extra shrimp and cheese please.
After that it’s hazelnut ice-cream and a chocolate ball [not very Eastern, but seriously, I can’t have anymore tapioca jelly]. By now the others have stopped eating. They’re watching on with fascination. I smile and continue. I almost consider another helping of dessert, but I think it’s a good idea to stop. I don’t know these people. They might think poorly of me. Worse still, they might think poorly of D & A. So I stop. Reluctantly.
Back home. Eleven days of no sleep later, I am irritable. I’ve caught the flu suddenly. I’ve missed someone desperately after a long long time. The sibling’s left and we hardly had time together. I don’t feel like talking to anybody at all. But I do. With all sorts of friends and family, to say I am back. And I laugh and chatter to express the excitement of all things done in the last eleven days. But I am numb. Like the coagulated phlegm that sits and just sits in my sinuses.
Oh. And I didn’t break my alcohol fast. The food was all the stimulation I needed – sex-drugs-absinthe all rolled in one, with a generous dab of fish sauce.
Surprisingly, I haven’t put on weight. Yay yay YAY!
Saturday, September 09, 2006
on blog, who likes to say lol
Three things I visualise every time someone says lol:
1.) a head that ‘lols’ back involuntarily
2.) saliva that drips uncontrollably from that lolling bastard head
3.) eyeballs that ‘lol’ round&round&round in over-sized sockets in that same bastard head.
I can’t go beyond this… I’m already puking.
[whatever happened to saying plain old ‘ha ha FUCKING HA’?]
footnote: Lol is the most bastard arse-riding acronym ever ever ever formulated. And here’s my contribution to the extinction of those-who-help-it-breed. Die bitches. Even a bomb’s sweet release for pain inflicted through lol.
Thursday, September 07, 2006
More than twice as many Malaysians speak English as a first language, than Indians.
Nobody speaks English in China. [fact recently, and most painfully verified]
40 people speak English in Tokelau [and no doubt they know one another from the class of ’76]
The coastlines of Singapore, Hong Kong and Thailand have recently been hit by a severe and mysterious depletion of underwater fauna.
Tune into hikipedia for more bizarre facts later this week.
Wednesday, August 23, 2006
A quick prologue: I promised Her many months ago that I wouldn’t touch alcohol. Not at least till someday I sat across someone I could trust with my life and more [uggg, I know I know. Sounds terribly prissy-polly-potty Victoria Holt-ish – I don’t quite mean it like THAT that… butttt…]. BUT. T’was such a harsh and binding decision because the last time I drank, t’was with a boorish drunk bastard who had no respect for my being. An old friend [ha ha ha] who over the years has blamed his bordering-on-bad-behaviour unfazed and unfailingly on the bitch-in-the-bottle. That night he overstepped boundaries, and somehow I felt guilty.
Anyhow. Arse-foragers apart, it also seemed right. Enough of bad boys and booze forabit I thought.
However, something tells me I’m going to be part of things in the near future that I’m not going to want to remember the next morning. [YOU-who-knows-what-I’m-talking-about, you’d better farkin’ be sure about this] So. I shall consult with Her, request a sabbatical from my fast, and get a bit wasted in the next ten days. After that I’ll be back to myself [With a clear conscience, and a badarsed hangover no doubt].
I pretty-polly-please promise.
Monday, August 21, 2006
The gypsy girl must find her feet again before she gets swept away. After months of holding the fort, of laughter and gaiety, of patting it all down and saying it doesn’t matter, she’s slowly beginning to sense feeling creep back into her toes.
Reawakened memory, like muscles can be painful.
And all the king’s men couldn’t put humpty back together again.
Only idiots try to repair eggshells. But some hearts are made of sterner stuff, innit?
So it goes.
How do you divorce your head from unreality?
Simple, just pick up your toes and walk.
Where will gypsy girl’s feet take her this time?
Hold my hand and lead the way Mama.
I’m back on the road
With a head-full of memories, frayed sleeves, and a worn out red skirt.
Perhaps it’s the lack of sleep. Or an imminent journey after four years of no vacation to a part of the world I’d best leave unexplored... Perhaps it’s because Ustad Bismillah Khan passed away, and ma cried for him today.
A shy young beautiful girl lost in unspoken dreams was stringing up orange-yellow marigolds at the main hall in BHU [Banaras Hindu University], in the sun-kissed city of Banaras when Ustad Bismillah Khan walked in and put his shehnai to his lips. That day he changed yet another life with his piercing soulful notes. Thirty-five years later, she still recounts how she hadn’t been able to stop her tears.
Something threatens to break.
Sunday, August 20, 2006
Especially not when it’s eight in the morning. It’s a Sunday. You haven’t slept and you need a decent bloody breakfast in your stomach.
The idlis [come on! how tough is it to get a steamed rice cake right?] were like something that came out of a careless surgeon’s waste-bin. How’d he get them to smell like that? The sambar stank of last night’s mughlai trimmings… the hairy parts of onion heads and the snipped ends of garlic pods.
The chutney, was gharsley.
There’s nothing lousier than a bad breakfast on a Sun-farkin-day morning. Foul funk feast.
Just puffed on U’s ciggy to get past present foulness. Why don’t I ever remember? I hate the acrid taste of smoke even more.
I want mycornflakes in cold-coffee. NOW. Kick slap kick.
I think I’ll go bake myself a squidgy chocolate cake. And eat it too.
Friday, August 18, 2006
So said the weighing scale at the emergency ward at Moolchand hospital. U had to be rushed there for a rabies injection. A street cat bit him while he was trying to save her from a marauding bastard dog that’d managed to paralyse her hind legs by the time U got to her.
That’s the thanks he got. A nip on the thumb. That’s how cool cats really are.
“how you got eet?”
A buxom Malayalee nurse sways up to him seductively. She’s all sulky and pouty and disinterested. She languidly picks at his sleeve.
U starts telling her about his heroic tale gone awry. But she’s moved on to the next question.
“So, what’s your biznuz?”
U’s wounded. Visibly.
“I work at a theatre company”
“theatre companyaa? What theatre you do?” JAB. Jab.
“Oww. Cats. We perform cats.”
Meanwhile, I step onto an innocuous looking weighing scale. Bad decision. Too late.
“Uuuuuuu, shit. 2½ kgeeeeeeeeees! Farkin’ shit shit shit”
U can get very arsey when he wants to prove a point to me. This time he doesn’t plug his ears. Instead he bats his beautiful long-lashed eyes at the malayalee nurse.
“Nurse, what should her correct weight beeee”?”
Nurse gives me a disdainful once-over, asks me my height and then does a gargantuan calculation on all her digits with pouty lips going all over the place. Finally she speaks.
U’s thrilled. “See, the CORRECT weight. Now shut your face and stop whining. Thankeeeeeyooo nurse!” he flutters his lashes at her again.
Correct? Ya right. 2½ kilograms in one month. The dumbbells aren’t helping. Neither are power-walks. I am now officially the ‘correct weight’ for my touching-5-feet-8-inches. But I feel like a large jelly schooner. Everything feels like it’s jiggling.
Mum delivers her verdict with glee “You look less cadaverous”.
Something’s wrong. I just feel like eating all the time. All. The. Time.
Giant moist oozy brownie and two chicken rolls after lunch go straight to the hips.
So today I wore my relatively large pink t-shirt matched up with a paparazzi-pink bag and pink- beaded-over-sized-from-Goa slippers.
Bag and T-shirt can do much for a jelly belly, what do over-sized pink slippers do for a growing self?
Magic carpet ride on pink clouds with my hand in Huru’s.
I like the feel of my Goa slippers on my feet. They are uncomfortable. They make me want to walk, move… never stop.
So here’s to imminent journeys… magical we hope. With 2 ½ kgs of excess baggage. [bye bye bikini]
Thursday, August 17, 2006
Two thoughts arose from the splitting of one.
Born. Cast out. Thrown into Life. Halfway across the globe in time.
Two halves of the same brain. Two strangers in flesh and blood. Two mothers two fathers two siblings or so. Something like Slapstick or lonesome no more.
The boy left brained, the girl right brained.
Or vice versa, as it seemed.
Perhaps they have equal parts of both.
Perhaps she has less of more
And he, more of less.
Perhaps together, they’d be perfect.
Don’t know. Can’t say. Don’t know.
Perhaps they’re meant for another lifetime
When the moment is etched and truly destined
Where the grass is green, the roses red
No cyanide skies
Just a complete head.
And then we’ll go back to complete, content, inert roundness. The egg. The big O – Zero.
Blessed by the Moon, back to our rightful place – fused as one in Her sublime womb.
But she says thank you. It’s heartfelt. For a moment that was beautiful but brief.
With grace she bows out though her head will explode
We’ll dance another day, I’ve got sand in my toes
The stars will shine for her once more in a manic magic Moon-licked sky.
Because. Simply. She is loved, she knows.
Saturday, August 12, 2006
X was all choked up and I nearly jumped through the phone to hold him and hug him tight. My arms, frail though they be, can hold a man thrice my size and not let him buckle [fark off He-Man]. So I discovered last night.
My heart is racing, thumping, jumping.
“H, babe, I’ve done the craziest thing ever H, I don’t know what I’m going to do. Hhhhh”
Okaaay. Cough it up man. I’m going crazy here. But I wait patiently. My voice does not betray concern, fear, anxiety or anything else that I’m feeling right then.
Has he killed someone? Has he hurt someone? Has someone hurt him? Damn. Damn. Damn.
“Hhhhh” he moans on.
Get on with it fucker.
“Ok. Babe, you can’t tell anyone about this. Not just yet.”
Who will I tell X? And how can I tell if you don’t open your bloody mouth?
“H, I’m in love. And she’s asked me to marry her. N’s asked me to marry her H. Man I’m so fucking madly, badly, hopelessly in love and I can’t tell a fucking soul about it. You’re the only one I can talk to H. I’m so happy H, I don’t know what to do. I’m roaming the streets of Timbuktu like a deranged destitute… I don’t know where to go. She’s travelling. Hhhhhhh and I’ve Said YES, and suddenly I feel like I don’t have a home, till I’m with her”.
X is in Love. Hmm.
And he’s said Yes.
And I’m the only one he can tell? Hmmm. I thought we didn’t get each other. I thought there were too many funda-farkin’-mental differences between us… I thought … Never mind. Focus.
X moons on “28 years of my life, H, 28 years of a fucked-up childhood, worse adolescence and a slew of bad whoring later-years have led up to this moment… and everything’s worth it. Just for this one moment! I’m sunk. So happily shamelessly, unabashedly sunk. She’s got my number H, and she’s completely ripped me.”
I’ve not seen [technically, heard] him like this ever. He sounds… not like himself.
“You know H, she’s older than me. But she’s so wonderfully simple and childlike. She gets me like no one else. She just knows what I’m like inside. She doesn’t care that I’m the most anal screwed-up bastard on earth… she just loves me. My little elf N, she loves me and she wants me. Like no other woman’s ever wanted me. H, I’m so happy!”
I can tell X is really happy.
I blink. Something’s stinging my eyes.
“Bastard, you’d better stop screwing around now, or I’ll pickle your testicles in formaldehyde.”
I dispense my older-woman [slightly older, but in-this-situation-vehemently-older] advice to him with steely gritty arse-busting toughness, but inside I’m all melted up. It must be love. The way he describes it. It. Must. Be. Love.
“No more flirting with random blondes in sleazy bars. No brunettes either, or Poles, or Japs, or hot Canadians…” I shut up. The list could actually go on, and on and on… and I’m beginning to sound like an ass.
“Bastard, I mean it.” I say one last time, so he knows I mean serious business.
X trips up on himself “H, I swear babe. I swear… I’ve been the biggest whoring bastard ever, but this time. Man, this time, is like no other time ever. I promise H, I promise. N is like no other woman I’ve known”.
I smile, and sniffle and give him a big hug.
“I’m so so so happy for you X.”
“Thanks H, I knew you would be. Listen, I have to go now. Bye. I love you.”
I love you too X. I hope you’re happy this time. Truly.
I don’t know what tagging means.
There. So I’ve said it.
Somebody, please. Answer me. If I’m going to be a blog-hick, then I might as well do it wholeheartedly. What is a tag? What does it imply?
And because it’s HB, I’m just going to trudge along and try to do what he and the others have done.
This is a tough one.
One book that changed your life:
Many, at many points in my life. So many it’s hard to say. Writers who’ve affected me are Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Roddy Doyle, Shakespeare, Amrita Pritam and err… damn there are so many!
One book you have read more than once:
Paddy Clarke Ha ha ha, Much Ado About Nothing, Macbeth, English August… ya da ya da ya da…
One book you would want on a desert island:
Aghora I, II, II
One book that made you laugh:
Everything by PG Wodehouse, My evergreen love – Roddy Doyle, Spike Milligan, Stephen Fry [but he’s overrated], Alice In Wonderland, Ogden Nash, Much Ado About Nothing [that’s the way I want to fall in love…]
I am really beginning to get irritated with this one-book business. Poopy.
One book that made you cry:
Karoo by Steve Tesich, My evergreen love – Roddy Doyle [don’t even bother to ask anymore!], Gabriel Garcia Marquez, and many other books that I’ve read…
Damn. This is so unfair.
One book you wish had been written:
Roddy’s next book, Marquez’s next book…
One book you wish had never been written:
One book you are currently reading:
One book you have been meaning to read:
So so so many…
This was a most unsatisfactory list. Hmmm. I think I'll have to keep coming back and editing this defeatist list.
Thursday, August 10, 2006
Which brings me to – Indian men. Can’t dance. Not to get laid. Not for anything. Can’t dance period. I suddenly hate going on dates with Indian boys. And I haven’t been on dates with non-Indian boys. So there. Basically, after seeing this video, I’m upset that I don’t get to show, EVER, how honest-to-God truthful my hips really are. Damn. Indian men. Need. Dance classes.
okay, so shoot me, I just saw this video for the first time yesterday, and I've been told right now it's an ancient stinking old song. So shoot me.
Three good people sit down to a drink.
Two beers and a fresh lime, sugar on the side.
Three wonderful people, brimful of goodness and charm
discussing mundane things, till the conversation takes an unpredictable turn.
An evening of light nothingness becomes loaded with God.
Three good people, each personally acquainted with the Lord.
They’re all heaving under the burden of being truly nice.
“What you say has merit
But personally, I think you’re talking shite.”
Spiderman has it figured like the formula for love.
Mary’s telling silent rosary, as blasphemy threatens to murder the dove.
Attila’s grand niece [and grand she is, she believes]
decides that greasy nachos with sour cream, chicken and refried beans will make her fat.
They say she has a food disorder.
Fark ‘em she thinks. I have a clean heart.
Three good people come away after a drink
Two beers and a fresh lime, sugar on the side.
Oblivious that Heaven and Earth hung thinly that night
Over a round table at Ruby Tuesday, threatened by an unspoken fight.
But niceness is a virtue so pretty and fine
They’re back in their houses, peacefully, after holy nachos and wine
Secretly of course, now each is a confirmed fool in the others’ minds.
Monday, August 07, 2006
It’s always like this, isn’t it?
I enter. No one’s noticed. It doesn’t matter. As long as he-who-I-seek is here... I look around for a few panic-stricken moments across a roomful of unfamiliar faces. I hope he hasn’t left this place. I should have given him my number. Damn.
Just as I’m about to turn around to leave, I see him. He sees me. His eyes light up as do mine. And immediately, he scans my face for signs of any change since we last met.
He wants to know why I haven’t visited in such a long time. I tell him shyly that I’ve left my job; that I have my own office now, somewhere else. Then in a moment of unnecessary intimacy I tell him that now I have to make these trips halfway across the city especially for him. Perhaps I’m doing this to impress S, my visiting friend from Patel-town, who I’ve dragged along.
He smiles at me sweetly in response and then without another word he reaches out and touches my hair tenderly. He softly engages his fingers, brushing gentle tips on my scalp, asking a million questions with one little touch.
Sartaj. The man who has the longest affair yet with my tresses. The only person I’ve met who understands and appreciates the texture, weight, colour, and exact measure of straightness of my hair. The only person yet who knows how to tame it with the slightest touch of the razor. The only one who knows how to make my hair respond to a cut, and not misbehave even forty thousand washes down.
My friend S and I settle back for the full treatment. Sartaj is very finicky. He doesn’t care if you’ve scrubbed your scalp with acid that very morning, but he will not cut if you don’t get a shampoo right then and there.
Now S and I go back a long way. All the way to school. She’s actually my sibling’s classmate, but over the years we’ve become close. S, The Sibling and I have spent all our growing years scoffing at girls who went to beauty salons at the burst of a pimple. We’ve prided ourselves in being Virginia-Beauvoir daughters [well before we knew who they were] – self-professed amazons who’d rather arm-wrestle boys in class during recess, than sit with the girls and gad about pretty things. Salons were something we avoided like other kids avoided homework.
A decade and more down, I think we’ve changed. Quite. Two young boys set to work on our hair, as we lean back on twin basins side by side. This is soooo going to be fun. Tea or coffee Madam? Nothing. Is the temperature of the water fine? Yes. Please relax madam. Mmm hmmmm. And then everything fades, as our eyes shut. We’re back in school. The gossip factory is in motion. Things emerge from cranial corners that are orgasming on gentle massages. We talk about everything. Career decisions. Exes and post-exes. Things that should have been and things that could have been. We have months of catching up to do. And it’s all happening here and now… very fluidly. Despite our tight-arsed selves we talk and talk and talk over gently gushing water and rhythmic massaging hands, oblivious to other ears.
Shampoo over, big white towels are wrapped around our heads. I feel grand. Exactly like the posh women they show in movies who stick their heads in big towels and driers before ‘the big make-over’.
Just as I’m beginning to really like myself in this turban-from-Durban look, Sartaj bustles over from another customer, and unwraps it. He takes one professional, raised-eyebrow look at my head. I squirm. Freshly washed, uncombed hair looks particularly unflattering and clumpy.
Umm, Sartaj, as always, just give me something that doesn’t need combing or ironing or starching or primping. Low maintenance eh? I laugh nervously. I know he knows the drill… but years of habit force me to verbalise this customary preamble.
Without a word, he whips out his comb, his special, magic razor-clad-tress-kisser and sets to work.
Soft curls fall like black rain around satin clad shoulders.
When I was younger, I’d feel inexplicably sad to see glistening crescents of my hair lying limply on the floor.
Just as I begin to zone out, thinking of things I should best leave alone, he speaks. Done madam. I snap out of futile fantasy.
Can you go a little shorter at the back? Snip. Snip. Shhhhzzzick.
Good decision madam. I smile. This boy is a born lady-flatterer.
But I think the admiration is mutual. I’m probably his only customer that he doesn’t use the ghastly blow-drier on, that too of his own accord. It's surprising how many people don't seem to know this, but a hot blow dry is your worst enemy. It dries out your hair, makes it straggly and hay-like and one wash later your hair looks like something that came out of shock-absorbent casing for heavy electricals.
I shake my head. Run my fingers through unfamiliar hair-length. Flip it this way and that way. I turn to S for approval. She’s impressed.
So, who’s it this time?
So what if I can’t sing. At least I look like a rockstar.
Sartaj smiles, and then sets to work on S’s hair.
I construct reactions from quarters close and far. I pull my hair down over my eyes, I push it back. I curl it round my fingers. And I let it go. I spend a few more minutes in front of the mirror.
I can feel it coming on. But I resist it. Not just yet. Please. No. I continue to smile, this time it’s forced. I turn away, hoping it’ll hold off.
But something familiar has crept right back in. Two moments of a wonderful high… are gone.
I think I’m bored again.
That’s the thing with haircuts. Transient euphoria like a rush of blood to the head. And now it’s all settled back in my toes. Poopy.