Thursday, December 18, 2008

Five songs

I was tagged once, long ago, to make a list of songs I’d like played at my funeral. There was no logic involved in how I chose them. A couple were evergreen favourites and the rest just popped in my head [no they didn’t – music never pops in my head. Cold springs don’t pop in Kutch. They trickle petulantly, after five and forty virginal cows birth five and forty full-grown healthy bulls under five and forty consecutive full moons.]

So when Ben asked me to make a list of my favourite five, I panicked. There’re only so many times virginal cows birth full-grown healthy bulls under full moons. You don’t challenge Providence with such injudicious frequency.

So I did the next best thing. I EB-ed* U into making a list. Not just any list. But a list of songs [since you’re so aurally aware and musically evolved, I said, massaging this inflatable nub of self-appreciation in his head] that characterise me.

Characterise you? He said, looking worried. As in the songs you like? I could swear he almost added – but there’s nothing to pick from, but he didn’t. Marriage has clearly worked wonders on his tongue. Mostly.

Nonono. I said with the golden ease of a greasy ileesh slipping through a Bengali fishnet. Why would I make you do something so nothing-ish, baba? I want you to do this because you have something special that I don’t have.

He beamed.

A unique perspective on me, I said, beaming back.

It’s like when I taste the raw pungency of mustard oil, I think of you [to him it is a compliment] there must be something you associate with me, na?

Ok he said. Nostrils flaring from the pressure of an over-massaged distended nub of self-admiration.

Thaaaaaaaaakeeeeeeeeeyoooooooooo. I gushed, overcome with genuine gratitude and love for my brother, and more importantly a deep excitement at the prospect of having a unique musical perspective on myself from someone who had had unequalled opportunity to observe and admire me since he was a baby and had compiled 101 gb of music along the way.

Big mistake, it turned out. For this is what he came up with:


Ani DiFranko – buildings and bridges

Or anything by Alanis Morisette. He added.
Why? He panicked. But that wasn’t part of the deal.
Of course it was. Do you think I care for the songs? I want the reason, I said, thumping my chest – the feeling of H-ness to it.
Okaaay. They both have a similar sort of errr… thought and errr… intensity to their music. Not just in what they’re saying but even the way they sing.
So you mean I’m angsty, hanh?
No ya. C’maawwwn. [he’s picked up this irritating way of refuting something in a way that he’s not really refuting it, but expects you not to confront him with it. Because. And that’s why it must be said with a jarring faux American accent. Because.]

It’s just… [and while he left this ellipsis hanging in the air, a wicked thought formed in his head] Well, he started afresh – firmly this time, it’s you. Just something about it reminds me of you. Here, he said, thumping his chest.

Madonna – La Isla Bonita

This is for the cheesy dated 80s side of you.
… But NOT in a bad way, he said, looking at my face.

Boy George – Karma Chameleon

For your general androgynous nature.

Stony silence.

No not in the way you look he added, close to tears now. But for your general appreciation of the general construct of androgyny.

My brother uses two words with alarming abandon when he’s nervous – general and pedagogy. When pedagogy enters the conversation you know there’s trouble. Thankfully this conversation was still creeping around general. We had two more songs to go, see.

And then, he added with what seemed like genuine fondness, getting uncomfortably close to something – and of course for its 80s charm.

Okay. I said. OKAY. You’re trying to say something to me, aren’t you?

Listen to the next one now, he said.

Outkast – Hey Ya

Outcast - Hey Ya link

Because they’ve got a nice quirkiness about them. It’s a nice mix of errr…


He has this way of saying 60IES?!?!?!? Like you’ve gone farking off the edge. Like you’re hallucinating about pork chops in your tea. This so effing contemporary! Trust me. I wouldn’t associate anything from the 60ies with you. 80ies maybe.

Two seconds later he added: Weeeeeeeeeell, I guess what’s quirky about them is they mix retro elements with contemporary rhythm structures with a very ummm kind of… errr kind of a semi kitch space. You know, he added, warming up to his own voice, it’s like a vibrant poster using rich patterns and motifs.

It’s FUN, you mean, I suggested, to which he shrugged.

… and NOW moving on. He said. Moving on.

Bryan Adams – When you love a woman

Apparently I demand this in my idea of being adored.

It’s the Ooo pamper me side of you. Your girlie side, he said.

I don’t know… somehow, from my brother, it sounds like an effing accusation. Na?

And finally, his bonus song…

Carl Douglas - Everybody was kung fu fighting

For the inherent violent streak in you, he said affectionately. Shouting from behind closed doors and rolled up windows and all that fake bravado. He knew I’d take this one as a compliment.

My brother does know me.

But. Such sibling-ly love and the-advantage-of-a-lifetime’s-opportunity-to-observe-and-admire-you considered, never ask your brother which songs remind him of you. Despite a 100-and-1 gb collection of music from around the world, he’s going to pick the cheesiest pop off the top of his head, so he can quickly dispense with your stupid requests and race home to his lovely-like-jazz wife and a costlier-than-a-solid-gold-pair-o-bollix custom made analogue audio system.


* ElBowed, Emotionally-Blackmailed, and Elder-sibling-Bullied.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Heart of despair

A new moon has begun to wax today. 0% of Full.

Spattered already with the spray that rose up in surprise at CST, Cama Hospital, Nariman House, The Taj, The Trident [Which NDTV took a moment amid mayhem to explain was once Oberoi, but now Trident] interrupted by stray bullets tearing through skin and life. Painted in the helpless horror of shrapnel and anger smashing through the heart of a scarred city.

And I might as well write for a tabloid. Soak in the horror of death and pain and terror [which, even as I write this, I thank God a million times, hasn’t affected me – this mix of love for people and places and thoughts and moments, once defined by Bombay] and squeeze it here, in the hope that some of my sentimental dribble – this saved up trickle of indignation and unease and helpless rage will somehow infect you. Desert my gut and inhabit this stealthy corner, so that your incidental acknowledgement of it might absolve me of any residual guilt I feel for being unaffected. Because this time, it threatens not to dissipate by the next tea-break.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Slowly softly sweetly

A name is uttered. Light as a whisper.

A single syllable sung silently with the swish of a graceful hand. It means all sorts of things. It is for the girl that Zeus seduced who bore him three sons and flew up to become a doting moon around his crown. It is for the prime element of singleness that every moment implodes with the ferocity of a thousand suns. Okay maybe not a thousand. May even not quite be one. It is for the first tremor of a dragonfly’s wings that hum and hover in harmony. It is for all the horrid miles in between. Your lips. My ears. And yet, it’s here now. Home, finally.

Thank you for this heart warming, sweet collage my dear, beloved friend.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Butt you MUST

Today a two year old child poked me in my bottom and I didn’t find it cute.


Today, I was standing at the OPD counter at a hospital, sounding all businesslike and haughty [my hairdo makes me think I can get things done faster], when I felt a half poke half pat on my bottom that made me whirl around in a temper only to see this startled little child at the bottom, still holding up its palm wondering what it had set in motion. It clearly had no idea this big bouncy blue bum belonged to someone. More specifically a pissy looking auntie who was mouthing very scary spank shaped words at him.

I cannot blame the child.

I need to effing exercise.

And now, since I’ve got your attention, in support across the seven seas, you must, MUST vote for Obama.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Blues, at 55 Bar

A smoky Saturday night at 55 Bar, a sun-baked girl slipped up to the mike. Eyes cut through thick swirls of musky scents, tall crinkly hairdos – alive and swaying to a deep blue rhythm swung in to listen closer. Glasses stopped clinking. An Asian couple crouching on the street outside peeped into this downstairs speakeasy womb and soon after, slunk into its dank warmth. A large lisping sad eyed ticket seller with a failed sales pitch settled on a nearby barstool.

A sweet, smiling, knowing sibling sipped slowly on baileys relaxed and unwound on a bed of ice. My girl, she thought, has found… something.

The bartender winked across his messy bunker, he knew how nervous she was. Three dirty martinis. That’s what it took for her to read, in ragged whispers, a love letter in blues.

This is for you, America.


You knew, didn’t you, that day when into the flat blue of the Houston sky, I sang along with a special lilt, this sweet sweet song on the radio. That’s when it occurred to you.

That with you I smiled, as I explored the gridness of NY, giddy with your softness seeped into me, the glad tint of all that I saw, through your eyes, through my eyes, the crisp newness of New York. The unfamiliar sharp cut of its skyline, the romance of its parks and the glow of its gilded statues, the abandon of its spirit and the intensity of its thrust in the heaving curtains of a heady underground rush that hung over sidewalk grates. Of its screaming sirens and steaming potholes, you listened and you watched, holding my breath in yours, as we gazed together upon eccentric brush strokes of unknowable dreams, veiled like this secret love burning in my gut.

In Chicago we caressed tips touching, the smooth surface of the Bean. Pressing down index fingers – yours on mine on the clicky button of a new D60, devouring new sights, cruising down Lakeshore Drive in a skylit mercedes. We plunged limbs entwined into the wide sweet emerald blue green open of the Lake, brushing wet toes, brown on white, grinding our feet into singing sand on a moonlit beach, exploring crowded corners of happy clichés, making them ours with unabashed pleasure.

And I too was with you, streaming soft fingers through your tresses on a balmy weekend highway, slipping through hot cracks between your head and helmet. No, it wasn’t the wind my darling, think again. And yes, that was me perched on the hefty swell of that sunny tank. Me imprinted on it. Me. Yours right then, for eternity.

You cheered, that evening, when for the first time I sang tortured karaoke notes. You laughed along, delighted as I was, at how much fun it is to be up on stage, a singing star. You knew then for all my life, how I’ve wanted to sing. And you cheered, knowing, as everyone who’s ever heard me, that they wouldn’t sign me EVER even if I was the last man standing. But I was a rock star, your star, for that one long jagged note.

It was you who circled my waist at Marquee the other night. So cheeky and self-assured, weren’t you, creeping up on me like that, without apology, roaring into my ear, flirting outrageously, touching me without permission! You thought your black tux and slick hair would seduce me, hanh? I thought about it later… what if it really had been you? Would I still have said no so vehemently?

It was you I turned to, at the last concluding frames of Wristcutters. You were the eyes at the end of the tunnel beyond light and life. You were in the curve of Rogen’s shapely rump [I’m sorry for the crassness of it, but it’s true] in his goofy smile and his crumpled shirt. We laughed together at his weeded up, bong hugging, doobie craving, ball grazing, posh-white-girl loving badass humour. And later, you loved the ‘u’ I put in humour.

Don’t tell me you didn’t see it coming. I don’t believe for a moment you didn’t know that feeling in the soft of your belly, the zero spot of your head. Examine it, my darling, and there, at the heart of your disbelief, you will find me.

We missed the absinthe party together, you and I. That, I shall always regret.

Someday, perhaps when you’re weary from digging into a distant past, and I am, well… I can’t give it all away can I? We’ll share that absinthe together at a crazy halfway rendezvous spot, somewhere above a mer-people’s den, engaging our wings above the Atlantic.


The brown girl, she slipped away into anonymity again. Big hair resumed its deep blue sway and the bartender; he went back to tossing glasses. A pair of like-headed siblings [one less tidy than the other, thanks to Turbo] cabbed a yellow ride home, and somewhere, across a fragrant, sleepy cornfield, a spider spun silver against a moon-bathed window sill.

Monday, July 21, 2008


I can’t remember now, from this morning, how I wanted to start this post.

There’s always THE phrase that begins it, na?

I had it, the moment I shook off the shattered glass from the shoot out. At the Ashram flyover. They were chasing Manmohan Singh’s envoy off the road, while guerrilla snipers [they might’ve been Mayawati’s commandos] from distant peripheries shot sleek bullets through tense air.

And where was I going, during curfew hour amid political turmoil? I think either to attend a sanity defying 11-part film at the festival, or a swim. [Don’t we have such an acute sense of juxtaposition, irony and drama? The Greeks really knew their shit.]

Somewhere, an official, high in the ranks plotted with cold precision. They had amputated his conscience gland decades ago. Apparently, it is a compulsory drill when you enrol. Those who don’t survive the operation are, naturally, considered martyred to patriotic duty. And I recollect thinking: so this is why… Why didn’t they tell us before?

Daylight, I’ve decided, creates confusion.

So Manmohan was whizzed away; his quiet, turbaned dignity bundled off in a dark screened, red-light-flashing blur.

A circus set up camp, just off the flyover. They had sharp shooting snipers and fire juggling politicians, bicycle balancing actors and lion taming heroines. A million sycophants thronged the gay canopied gates, and a raging stampede was born. Barkha captured the frenzy with valiant persistence while Renuka Chaudhury juggled offal-shaped slippery words with an experienced glove. Pranoy wielded a joystick in a remote OB van on Lodhi road. And then I saw, the road was crawling with an epidemic of cockroach winged OB vans.

Meanwhile, a sad eyed, blue turbaned fugitive snuck into the laundry room of a crumbling government bungalow in Moti Bagh. Nimbu pani was served and no one spoke. Least of all a shell shocked girl rudely stopped short of a sanity defying 11-part cinematic experience. [Or was it a swim?]

I awoke with the guilt of his downfall on my conscience. The Bhopalis had their best chance with him. Na?

Monday, July 14, 2008


And how.

Just heard from someone I’d crushed on, after 8 years. Someone whose 500cc Enfield coloured the sound of Enfields for me, forever after.

Just heard that 8 years ago he had fallen in love, over an incident I’d forgotten involving Band-Aid and “the pleasure of your healing touch”.

Just heard he got married this January.

Just heard he had to, because “I couldn’t find myself a girl, so my aunt did that and got me married”.

Just heard he sold his studly bike.

Just heard he wished he had taken me on a longer ride way back then, and was kicking himself that he hadn’t.

Just realised, that three and a half years ago, his interview in a magazine on the woman of his dreams, which I’d read with envy and wistfulness, was probably about...

Just wondered, yet again, how fate works.

Just realised, I’m grateful. Else I wouldn’t be here.


Such a much better place to be in, blogging about the non-incidence of it, na?

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Famous last words OR Another one bites the dust, though not without a few words akin to clawing at the walls on a hellish descent

I thought I was inured to the insidious lure of facebook. I thought I could hold off against burgeoning peer pressure. I thought I was the stuff restraint was made of [and titanium]. I thought a lot, basically.

But as with all things I’ve thought through to a pulp, to emerge on the righteous side of opinion with something solidly unshakeable akin to a titanium fortified belief system, mostly not flattering and always well published from giddy heights; things which have somehow subsequently unfailingly managed to arrange themselves in the Larger Scheme of Things such that I’ve been forced into hugely embarrassing, no, rephrase: prodigiously humiliating instances of volte-face-ing which is an aggressively [often maliciously] active verb in these parts, so that I’m left nekkid and cold and defenceless amid the finely crumbled debris of my belief-stroke-dignity-stroke-senseofself [which is too perverse to be even mildly sensual] kissing the arse of fate in a karmic turd-fest: facebook has proven yet again, how treacherous [and overrated] it is – this business of thinking. And opining. In these parts.

Do I learn?

No. But thanks for asking.

In my lifetime, which has notched up quite a few years comprising phases and counter phases, I’ve made many resolute statements. Publicly. Not least about how I’d rather die than EVER like boys. About how I’d rather die than be all girlie and wear lipstick and care about my figure. About how I’d rather die than go to an all-girls’ college. About how I’d rather die than work on a mainstream Bollywood film. About how I’d rather die than go out with a Punjabi boy [or three]. About how I’d rather die than have anything to do with advertising or people in advertising. About how I’d rather die than reconsider my absolute and utterly illogical disgust toward a certain RJ. About how I’d rather die than patronise Malls. About how I’d rather die than apply for a visa to America*. About how I’d rather die than be on facebook. Etc.

What must be said for my head [which I clearly share a strained relationship with, involving occasional third-person grammar] is that it truly did die a bit each time. I did.

But back to facebook.

I have been known to state my position on it. Severally:

I said: In response to a friend who sent me an invite…

“My sister told me yesterday that she's just signed up on facebook. Somehow the world seems to be conspiring to get me to sign up. Yet there's this very strong throbbing pulse in the anus of my moral steed that's telling me to resist. Why? I don't know. Don't blame me if I sound fishguts. There's this voice in my head – the same direct line from the high horse's arse. But, give me a good reason, and I might.”

[Evidently I was so smug (and deeply in sync with that throbbing pulse) that only an elaborately constructed logic driven canon of reason could’ve penetrated the fortress. Imagine having this misapprehension about your head over and over again. I should join Indian politics. They could use my head. Variously.]

I also said: In the course of an interview with a much admired writer, who asked…

IS: Are you on the facebook thing? A friend told me to start an account and now I am in touch with people from the distant past and have friends I've never heard of.

H: No. I've this strange sort of snobbery about being on facebook. But now that it's out [this is the first time I've admitted to it] I'm sure I'm going to end up on it. Someday.

IS: I would leave it except my two sons are there.

[Note how he acknowledged the undeniable advantage of her position. And note how she slipped in a clever disclaimer about an inevitable someday. Move over, Manmohan.]

I have also been known to forward this link, demanding the public and moral denouncement of facebook and its vile covert capitalist agenda, mass ether-mailed to countless friends and colleagues.

I have been known for a lot that should teach me by now to keep my gob under surveillance and my head in a dungeon before I step out.

So what changed then? What caused the universe to shift and the fortress to crumble? Hanh?

Something very basic.

Something that has shaken the very foundation of my existence in a Descartes-esque way.

Earlier, as you will no doubt appreciate, I barely made it past the “I think therefore I am” criterion: however confusing and unreliable, the proof was undeniable.

But now, not being facebook-able, ie traceable on facebook [as in google-able], it is slowly dawning on me that my existence has been challenged in ways that I am utterly unable to question or combat.

There is this whole other universe of interaction from which I am excluded – a gargantuan time-space vortex that is oblivious to my existence; a universe populated by friends and family who increasingly, even when they meet in the here and now, conduct their conversations in mysterious allusions to their facebook lives. “So ‘ryou going for the Teddy Boy Kill gig tonight?” Who? What? When? “Sorry! Forgot, you’re not on facebook, it’s on my events listing. Remind me to email you”.

Remind me to throw you a hieroglyphics-imprinted rock, freakshow from the nineties.

I used to be really proud of my memory: I’m the sort of calendar whore who has birthdays and anniversaries rolling involuntarily off the tips of her extremities. I used to be respected, envied even, for it. Once. But now, thanks to f***book, I’m like the lady-with-the-mile-long-moustache at the local mela – mildly amusing with an utterly redundant talent. Who needs a memory when f***book tinkles in your arse every time it’s a friend’s birthday?

I also truly believed that email and text had explored the final intrusion of virtual messaging in our daily lives, stretching the limit of impersonal interaction in the absence of voice and handwriting. I truly believed that social utility networks were glorified dating-sites infested with the sort of flotsam jetsam that scavenge along the periphery of normal social interaction, teeming with nefarious activity. Surely nobody respects them?

But I was wrong. There is facebook now. And it’s here to stay and threaten the fact of my existence.

As a copywriting friend recently wrote, in response to my facebook volte-face, as a befitting open-armed welcome of sorts:

“I will add that if you join Facebook, the sooner the better, you will know the tidbits that Ali and Sue are exchanging, how Sid doesn't fit into Chinese MRI machines, what I'm trying to cook and at least one event that Phish will be attending in the coming week. Also you'll see pictures of Mangu put up by various people, be alerted when someone changes their status from "in a relationship" to "it's complicated" and meet a bunch of people who you didn't know you gave a flying hoot about until you joined.”

And so…

I feel this great urge to announce it – this ceremonial deflowering of my social utility website virginity. [I'm lying, I have my profile up on another, no two other such site, but under the innocuous title of Etch, and I don't ever check these, because I am so ashamed of them. So then why did I register, you ask? Because there was a time in my life I was even more net un-savvy than I am now. There was a time I clicked on links sent by friends and discovered too late that I had found myself a spanking new spot under the virtual sun. There was a time I could legitimately blame it on ignorance.].

There I said it.

I’m signing up. Wittingly.

I’m selling my soul.

I’m getting me a life. An identity. An existence.

I’m on facebook. Officially.



Those of you who know me in the here and now, beyond the single letterness of my blog-existence, please, rush over and say hello. On facebook. Disregard snide comments, allusions to inverted snobbery, and any loose talk about abstinence… Please. Don’t ignore me. God knows that if I don’t have enough frendz on facebook, I’m going to be so devastated.


Something also tells me I might start saying ‘anyways’… soon.


*Ben was decent enough to email me about it. He was thoughtful enough not to flame me on comments, demanding an explanation for my distasteful display of such xenophobia. He just said, and most sweetly: "Not really offended, but why would you have rather died than apply for a visa to America?"

And so, because I love him so much, and because I had no business being such a judgmental arse without an explanation, here's my reason for saying this: I should've realised that it had offence potential... But with the kind of humiliating checking procedures that friends and acquaintances [particularly those who are Muslim and male] have been put through at airports etc., the kind of blind suspicion post 9/11, coupled with the senseless visa denials that some of my friends have faced, it just seems like there's no point in applying for permission to be allowed into a country that wants to tell you, repeatedly, how unwelcome you are.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Writer [English]

I've been looking for a writer for us. There comes a time in everyone's life, when they must stop their depraved pursuit of renegade punctuation in the verbiage of people who went to B-school and forgot what Ms. Chanda taught them in English class.

Well, there comes such a time in my life.

Sick of exclamation marks in excess, misplaced apostrophes and sms spelling in offishall dokumentz, I'm just about ready to savagely uproot the eyebrows of the next idiot who dares show me an ill-composed piece of writing.

And so, burning with zeal and purpose, I carefully composed an ad and R, the client-managing stalwart of our workshop posted it on a dotcom of inspiring repute, thinking one ad, and we're going to be swamped with CVs from wordsmiths of admirable calibre; because after all we are who we are, small, but cutting edge and all.

They did come. The CVs; describing wonders I hadn't ever thought could exist.

One hot stud of a creative director, down from unnameable country for 'personal reasons', came along for an interview ensconced in a viscous cloud of expensive cologne and a crisp white shirt. He had the sort of Grecian good looks that immortalise urns. But pretty faces with fat salary expectations don't run a firm. He was clearly given to spending the amount I earn in a month on a week's ration of parfum pour homme. It was apparent that we weren't suited for one another quite early into the meeting, but he insisted on taking us through ALL his work, explaining every clever turn of phrase with patronising patience. At some point, his leg brushed past mine, and when I looked up to apologise, unsure of whose fault it was, he dimpled a deeply meaningful smile, allowed his gaze to linger just a moment too long, and then continued nonchalantly with his monologue. Bumfarkin'confoundedness! Do people think they can get away with anything, just because they're terribly awfully bloody good looking and their diction's perfect? [um, something tells me, the answer to that could easily be yes.] I mean, I should've been the one, if at all, being lewd. Correct me if I'm wrong, but wasn't he on MY TURF? I hate being cheated of my rights, especially when it involves becoming flustered, looking an ace idiot and not being able to smell properly for half a day.

Another fellow shimmied in, telling us he "would write, of course! But I wouldn't like to edit copy, as I'd rather spend my time envisioning things of greater importance for the company". Thank you very much, mister, we HAVE a business development team, and rather a lot more vision than we'd care to outsource. It would be nice, perhaps, if you'd evince an interest in the job we've advertised for. Later it emerged that he also planned, between his writings and visions to squeeze in a few plump freelance assignments. His parting shot was "Umm, even if you don't hire me, could I moonlight with you?"

The most priceless so far, though, has been this little toad, a fledgling junior writer at some arse-hammered nondescript agency, I had the pleasure of calling.

H [in my crispest telephone voice]: "Hi, am I speaking with X?"
Toad: "Ya?"
YA? What is farkin' YA?
H [maintaining telephone charm]: "I'm calling about your CV which you posted in response to our ad for a writer?"
Toad [disinterested to the degree of almost suggesting that I was calling about a tax poll]: "Ya?"
H [ignoring the urge to pop a vein, giving nonchalance a good name]: "Er, did you or did you not?"
Toad: "Ya ya."
H [losing control of vein and nonchalance]: "Er, X, you seem to be responding only in 'Ya's, Sounds like you're very busy?"
Toad: "Ha ha. Ya."


Oh. And. If another copy-cowboy even utters the word "anyways" I'm going to do a serious arse-razing [MS Word insisted it should be raising] earth shattering Rumpelstiltskin.

What's with 'anyways'? Hanh? What IS 'anyways', anyway?

In my very limited and archaic view of the world, it sounds suspiciously like something that calls for the careful de-hirsuting of eyebrows AND some, with a single-hair-pinch-and-pluck epilator with a jerky battery and rusty pincers.

But, this is just my opinion.

I'm exhausted now; 'tis bad for my nerves – such raw excitement.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Oh to be a Liar: the autobiography of a failed Liar

Enchanting Migs, can make one’s heart twist in French knots with his turn of phrase. Often have I swooned at his commas and stops. So you can imagine what it means when he says, nonchalantly, ‘H darling, you are it’. You don’t get arsey about it even if tagging in your worldview is akin to flatulence in public spaces. Instead, you’re honoured and even grateful for the tag, never mind that you’ve done the same one earlier.

So here goes, for the second time, the 123 tag.

I must grab the book nearest to me, turn to page 123, and quote three sentences, starting the fifth.

Equal Rites by... Terry Pratchett! Lalalalala.

“Young men who showed faint signs of having such a talent were encouraged, on special ceremonial occasions, to bend the truth ever further on a competitive basis.

The first recorded Zoon proto-lie was ‘actually, my grandfather is quite tall’, but eventually they got the hang of it and the Office of Tribal Liars was instituted.

It must be understood that while the majority of Zoon cannot lie, they have great respect for any Zoon who can say that the world is other than it is. “


And now, a bit more, to do justice to the title of this post: Inspired by Pratchett’s clan of Zoon – their custom of electing Liars; and my rabidly nervous disposition. Yes, yes I know what you’re thinking... get over Pratchett already, move on, read something else, don’t bore us.

Between Pratchett and the pool I’ve a little industry going, haven’t I? Ha. ‘Tisn’t my place to say it, but I will anyway, ‘cause I’m generous like that... [You really don’t have to stay if you don’t like reading what I write]. There. I’m done whispering in brackets.

The truth is if I were elected a Zoon Liar, I’d suck at it. Very seriously.

I’d probably sooner evince a penchant for and even excel at being a cutting edge Zoon water-changer for cattle. Or a Zoon sinker-of-feed for algae. My mum has in fact always harboured a fond suspicion that I might have a talent for stamping floral shapes on bus tickets. But what’s undisputed is that I haven’t the slightest, most bashful, trembling hint of aptitude for being a Liar. ‘Tis a terribly clever job, the demands of which I am utterly ill-equipped to meet: this much is clear to me now.

But once upon a Zoon time, it wasn’t. I was young, and possibilities abounded in nature – even the number of times I could poo in my little chuddies was wonder-striking and full of potential. So you can imagine the shock I received the day I tried my head at Lying. I was four, the sibling was six and as is ordained by Things Greater Than Us, while we were playing in that dangerous frenzy in which one sibling must either fall and get hurt very badly, or the playing must take a combatant turn, the playing took a combatant turn. The innocuous pencil in my grubby paws lodged itself with certain force and vengeance in the back of my smug, taunt-mouthed sibling, who was smug no more and rather red faced and in that frozen moment which precedes a particularly violent bout of bawling when one’s mouth is dangerously silent and wide open, eyes are screwed shut, breath is stuck and one’s face goes from red to redder.

There are two things that strike the mind of a four old watching her elder sibling poised on the wrong side of balance at this fearsome precipice from which things can only go downhill for all parties involved. One is a primal instinct arising from a residual collective memory, also sometimes called mob-mentality, which demands that you drop all things at hand and instantly join in the bawling, contributing greater decibels if possible to the general ambience of panic. The other, if you are a bastardly child called H, is a highly underrated, but promising instinct of self-preservation which demands that you move into elaborate modes of damage-control immediately.

And so, being H, in glorious disregard of the wily incisiveness of the Adult Mind mostly arising from prodigious volumes of ignorance, I arranged my four year old face in a singular look of bewilderment [which comes naturally when you’re four and everything of interest lies at least five inches out of reach] and immediately sought my parents.

I found them one doorway away, in their room, reposed in a memorable picture of bliss. Pa was lying back reading, beautiful mum was bent gracefully over a piece of mending. I shuffled up urgently, reluctant though I was to break the spell, and trilled in endearing baby tones “I don’t know why di’s crying. I just tapped her lightly with a pencil!” To demonstrate, I took my pudgy index finger and with the sort of delicacy that could embarrass a gay butterfly, tapped my father ever so lightly on his arm. I had time enough only to barely catch the look of utter love that my parents exchanged...

Just then the sibling’s voice came unstuck and a piercing, sickening, shrill wail arose, destroying the gentle afternoon air.

Without getting into the gruesome details of what followed, briefly touching upon the discovery of a half-centimetre long black lead nib embedded in a six year old back, a certain sore bottom and the admonishment of a lifetime, I can safely say that this defining incident broke my confidence and spelt the end of my Lying career.

Some [not least my mum] say it is a good thing.


Mine darling fairyblogmatha, THE Nanster, has also tagged me. Her tag’s cute, simple and very precise. It says post the title of your autobiography as the title of this post. I just did, Nan.

Monday, May 26, 2008

When H hugs Hafrank, and juggles slinkies with Ben

It’s no secret how much I adore little Ben - THE Bennay J D – King of Gnome Blog who likes to roll with the Kid Rock. He’s the darlingest blogger I never met. In fact, if I had a flying carpet, I’d send it over for Ben to come avisiting, with limitless servings of fun flips and imli sherbet all the way from Ohio to Delhi.

I love him that much.

But ruefully, my carpet’s aloft somewhere having racy adventures of questionable consequence, and my wings are soaking in the rain.

Just as I was brooding over this and more, look what he did for us! He brought the whole gnome company over for a visit!

Come on, join us... it’s fun really! And John Travolta’s promised not to do the full-monty.

The Gnome Company in Indiahhhhhhhhh!

Ben, this goes out from R-B-o-H and L-B-o-H...


Tuesday, May 20, 2008


This is what a cheap-arse resorts to when:

1.) Inspiration is abundantly absent.
2.) She’s suffering from a debilitating bout of feeling slighted.

As will be evident, regardless of circumstances, it is deplorable and utterly juvenile. However, indulge me, for once.

Presenting: My conversation with Phish, who is a PROFESSIONAL WRITER [and I’m NOT]

Phish: So
Aren’t u missing me at all?
me: Umm. Are you missing me? When you're NOT swimming and all...
Phish: maybe
me: Well yes. A distant memory of meeting you once. fond, nonetheless.
Phish: i came FOUR times
me: damn. HOW could I forget in the 50 odd times I've been...
But. FYI [hooow I love this] the pool has been LOVELY in the last few days with this crazy weather.
Phish: SHOO
me: Btw, tell me... is this very pretentious?...because I really felt it: swimming in the rain is like breathing mud dreams...
tell me. honestly.
Phish: it’s a lovely phrase
ive swum in d sea in d rain and THATS EXACTLY WOT IT WAS
me: well someone said it sounded like it was out of a reader's digest.
Phish: uh NO
me: I thought as much.
Phish: they would’ve said "swimming in the rain is the highest form of communion with nature".
or summin like that
me: no they would've said "swimming in the rain is ... WAH WAH WAH".
because 'they' are that eloquent.
Phish: that's Delhi Times

Clearly, by the end I was still talking about someone, Phish wasn’t. *Sigh*.


There’s much to be said of the kind of sarcasm that accompanies a dark mood. It’s vile. It’s incisive. And always, always effective.

I’ve been on a roll this morning, dashing off vile, incisive responses on email, which are no doubt going to effectively bankrupt the meagre social-stroke-professional [how sensual and useful, she thought] goodwill I’ve had the mildly-good fortune to earn.

To my punctuation-challenged music director*, who’s been indefinitely stalling work and dodging my calls, but who finally had the decency to respond saying “have already started working will send you something by thursday now cos we got packed with sudden jobs in the middle but i have already started your ill send it to you when i feel confident about it...”; to him I said, with an involuntary spill of verbiage that skittered off my fingers in a thoughtless little scurry across the keyboard “Shall be praying for your confidence.”

O woe.

And then another*, to whom, with much fondness I sent a list of flattering alliterations, who had the indecent gall to suggest, with unabashed unlettered smugness “i couldn’t find even one allit there u know, all different letters of the alphabets!!!”; to this jewel my fingers involuntarily expectorated “You'd better start paying me for grammar lessons”.

I will not be surprised if I do not receive:
1.) The melody I’ve been awaiting endlessly.
2.) A flattering paean to my literary effort.

Now tell me, how many marks do I get for effectiveness? And [dis]engagement?


*Believe me when I say this... I am rather fond of both.

Thursday, May 01, 2008


Today, I swam with angel fins.

Today, I grinned into the water madly happily and burstingly, and couldn’t suppress the spill of my teeth even when I came up to breathe.

Today, I didn’t notice the bird droppings and insect shells.

Today, I shimmied out of the pool with a song in my heart.

Because, today, I swam alongside a G-shaped angel.

I can’t wait for tomorrow


“Angels have fins?” exclaimed my poor friend. It must hurt to not have an imagination.

“Well of course they do”, said I. “They have fins, and gills, and third eyelids, and webbed toes, and horns and scales and powerful tails; wings, and more than four limbs and tiger stripes and leopard spots and toad warts... “

At this point I paused for a breath, and he quickly saw his chance to pipe in.

“What happened to blonde hair, blue eyes, celestial tiaras, halos, harps and plain old dove wings?” he smirked.

Said I: “That’s a very narrow Caucasian anthropomorphic view of angels. Plato said that the true form of anything exists as pure latent potential. And somewhere, really powerful angels must be able to be angelic to every kind of being, mustn’t they? If squids had invented paper before us, we’d be praying to giant ink squirting, water lurking angels for salvation. Na?”

“Stands to reason”, he mused, easily won by the lucid logic of my retort. “You should say something about saving the Earth, you know. Something meaningful about latent potential and multiple perspectives… and species. A common inheritance and such”.

I shook my head sadly “I tried.”


“And nothing. All I could come up with were a few rancid opinions on George Reisman’s views. I became too bilious and wretched to think anymore”.

“Never mind” he said kindly, putting an arm around my shoulders. “Let’s get a cassata. And maybe watch tadpoles in the gutter?”

Such an angel. But I didn’t say it. He mayn’t like to see himself like that. Anymore.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Being Gracious

M declared sanctimoniously the other day as I was propping my fragile jaw carefully on a thoughtless palm while slumping over a table in vapid despair, “what do you expect H? Even if someone wants to express their appreciation to you, you brandish this red flag at them. You suspect their motives for being complimentary or even just nice. You’ve this particular combatant machete-flailing stance in the face of a compliment that is a bit… um… discouraging. No. Intimidating.”

“But…” I started, having settled in a complicated posture.

She cut in ruthlessly, “… No. Shut up. You are.”

I wanted to say, and I know it’s true [don’t ask, I just know], “…it’s because I have broad shoulders.” But this sort of argument doesn’t wash with M [it hasn’t in the past]. She isn’t impressed by the physicality of things; herself being all of 5 feet plus differential bits of an inch, she believes it’s all in the language of your body, and not the body itself.

M shut her eyes to think. M’s the sort of person who delivers her verdict on situations very swiftly and clinically. She doesn’t pause too much on the before-and-aftermath of it, because the idea, as she firmly believes, is to work out a solution.

It is this solution I was waiting for. Not daring to breathe or move for fear of toppling in a broken heap on the floor and breaking her train of thought, I sat contorted atop a freshly upholstered zebra striped chair in the flame licked cavernous mouth of our favourite sharabghar in a painful slump of stillness.

Minutes passed, she showed no sign of opining voluntarily, or opening her eyes.

I was just about to straighten my spine when M finally opened her eyes.

She looked around and quickly spotted a waiter. I sat unmoving in tense anticipation. The waiter slopped over slowly. She placed the order.

I waited.

She traced the blacks of the zebra stripes with her fingers.

The waiter slopped back with our bloodies. M took a long sip.

Finally I sat up.

“Dammit M, I can’t slouch anymore.” I cried.

“That’s a good thing H. It doesn’t become you. This bloody isn’t as good as before the renovation, don’t you think?”

*** [To denote the time lapse between horror and comprehension and all the emotions in between.]

M is losing her memory and fast become a senile old bat.

I on the other hand am becoming a fanciful old bat with an experiential overspill, because this exchange didn’t really happen. I cooked it up. Most of it. Though not about the ghastly renovation. It’s true. Bloody Marys aren’t ever going to be the same again on zebra stripes. Faux antler horn headrests had so much more character.

The thing is, M did give me a solution. M said, “H, stop being a tight arse.”

But I could be wrong. Because it was actually G’s best friend S who said this to me, two years ago. Which I thought was very kind and generous of him especially since it was entirely unasked.

I mayn’t be able to accept appreciation, but I’m always willing to hand it out on a golden platter. Thank you, S-of-the-well-lubed-arse. I might follow your advice some day.

Meanwhile, please don’t get intimidated by my broad shoulders. Go on, be nice to me. I can take it square in the jaw.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

No pee princess

Been feeling a bit like a frog in the bog lately.

Crotchety, sticky and green, and nursing a sneaking suspicion that the world is not bog shaped, entirely.

Possibilities are fast closing in, and the most alarming symptom is that my dreams have become calcified and porous, leaked through with the hollow stifling breathlessness of the gaps between realness and fantasy. Truly, shit curdling scary.

Last night my wings became tangled with imli chutney – in as far as something winglike can become entangled with something chutneylike. My mother captured the incontinent spill of my memory in an omelette and served it up to a passing fakir [how colonial is my half-core perception-processor, really?] who later forgot how to invoke a spell on banishing laziness.

And I could, from where I was hanging, see the fraying holes in my head.

It doesn’t help that my gut feels like a sewer pipe that has seen its best days, and would like nothing better than a small pension and a dry spell, but is rapidly losing its grip on reality and that bond which holds sewer pipe alloy molecules together as it burdens under the heaving prolificity of the big bum of fate.

I’ve also had enough of humorists who sound like Woody Allen. It's enormously depressing when people find it in their sick heads to raise laughs about deeply moving things that end with ‘ism’ or ‘isation’. God made American sitcoms for laughing at. The rest is all serious and businesslike – the stuff that Sunny Deol makes films about.

Also, I cannot pee through seven mattresses, which Terry Pratchett says is incontestable proof of royal lineage [and femininity.]

O woebegoneness.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

In a departure from my usual and mostly affable frivolity :: OR :: on the periphery of meaningful discourse

I’m going to [try to] talk knowledgably about this absurd piece of rhetoric: “Can Capitalism Save Climate Change?”

Someone gigantically important, no make that monumental, to my head asked me for my views on this idea, saying my advice on this matter would be pertinent since I am among, as he’s most generously and somewhat inaccurately suggested, “…the wisest people I know”. [And, since his views are “mostly unprintable”.]

I put on my most formidable expression and off I went on a resolute search across world wide web for some borrowed ideas and pert observations in a foolish attempt to live up to this false reputation. [Some types of adoration are certifiably injurious to one’s respectability.]

However, notwithstanding how I feel about the act of seeking borrowed intelligence on the matter, I’ll get on with my findings [observations is just too dishonest] or at the very least offer you a chronological account of all the adventures I’ve had across the ether net.

Sailing along Google, I first chanced by George Reisman.

An objectivist and strident advocate of laissez faire capitalism, he believes environmentalists at their moderate best are enthusiastic naïve, blinkered do-gooders and at their extremist worst, a bunch of fascists doomsday alarmists.

In Reisman’s worldview, the UN is the new harbinger of a mutant and vilely insidious form of Communism and [hold your breath] Nazism: Environmentalism. In an illustrious piece on his blog, he says:

“Environmentalism [here Reisman’s referring to the Environmentalist take on it]: The pursuit of individual self-interest causes global warming, acid rain, and ozone depletion. It must be replaced by self-sacrifice for the good of other species—our "fellow biota"—and for the good of the planet, under the auspices of international treaties and a nascent Global Socialist State: the UN. Most of the human race must be exterminated for the benefit of exploited species and the planet. (This is what the environmentalist “extremists” already openly say. The “moderates” merely want to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 90 percent and thereby reduce the American standard of living to that of a third world country, with a third world country’s infant mortality and life expectancy.)


From Reisman’s perch, the world is clearly divided into Capitalist and Environmentalist. If you’re pro-environment, you’re against progress. And of course, American = Person. All other existences are one messy puddle of indistinguishable life form.

But let’s be optimistic. Let’s assume that Reisman provides a critical balance to this raging debate on Capitalism vs. Global Warming. Let’s assume that his is the voice that represents an absent army of bottom line enshrouded corporate sultans whose voices are vaulted away with their hefty bank balances – who are not present, simply because it doesn’t interest them to lend a voice to this tiresome rant about the environment. Trivial things like an obscure ozone layer, landslides in fucking half-the-globe-around and the migration patterns of Siberian cranes are clearly not their concerns, well within the periphery of reason.

Let’s assume, also, and let’s be frank in assuming this, that he gives resonance to that little voice in our heads [my head] which really doesn’t put much faith by the idea of eco-friendly practices leading to viable solutions to anything that will ever be efficient or affordable. A voice that somewhere genuinely believes that material progress is antithetical to being sensitive toward the ecology.

This libertarian voice of Reason goes on to say that we must accept global climatic changes and other such ecological disturbances as the inevitable byproducts of industrialisation, rather than view industrialisation as an infringement on the rights of other species [and people from third world countries and the world at large]. He implies that by being the easiest way forward, industrialisation is also the most natural way forward. It is within the scheme of evolution.

To quote him again:

“…Before any implication for action can be present, additional information is required.

One essential piece of information is the comparative valuation attached to retaining industrial civilization versus avoiding global warming. If one values the benefits provided by industrial civilization above the avoidance of the losses alleged to result from global warming, it follows that nothing should be done to stop global warming that destroys or undermines industrial civilization. That is, it follows that global warming should simply be accepted as a byproduct of economic progress and that life should go on as normal in the face of it.

(Of course, there are projections of unlikely but nevertheless possible extreme global warming in the face of which conditions would be intolerable. However, as I explain below, to deal with such a possibility, it is necessary merely to find a different method of cooling the earth than that of curtailing the use of fossil fuels; I also show that such methods are already at hand.)

In fact, if it comes, global warming, in the projected likely range, will bring major benefits to much of the world. Central Canada and large portions of Siberia will become similar in climate to New England today. So too, perhaps, will portions of Greenland. The disappearance of Arctic ice in summer time, will shorten important shipping routes by thousands of miles. Growing seasons in the North Temperate Zone will be longer. Plant life in general will flourish because of the presence of more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere…”

The assumption is that life – regardless of its form – if it flourishes, is sufficient justification for the unnatural [defined as ‘through man-made conditions’ here] obliteration of millions of other species, because shorter shipping routes are evidently more critical in the larger scheme of things.

To push for a stronger case, he adds, defining a clear polarity of intention:

“…The environmental movement does not value industrial civilization. It fears and hates it. It does not value human life, which it regards merely as one of earth’s “biota,” of no greater value than any other life form, such as spotted owls or snail darters. To it, the loss of industrial civilization is of no great consequence. It is a boon…”

Reisman goes on to bring to our notice another scientific finding, in favour of his argument.

“…two ice ages having apparently occurred in the face of carbon levels in the atmosphere 16 times greater than that of today, millions of years before mankind’s appearance on earth…”

He has a point. Any geologist will have you know that the Earth is in a constant state of flux. Land, water, climate, species that exist and even the shape of the globe; regardless of human presence, things are going to continue to turn. Rivers are going to change their courses, the seas are going to expand and contract, and species of every life form will continue to flourish and die out.

But what he omits to point out is the rate at which it’s happening now. In the last two hundred years [economists and environmental scientists safely – because they must prove it – peg it at developments since the 1950s, which is all the more alarming], the kind of ecological imbalances we’ve set in motion are perhaps equivalent to [or far more extensive than] what we’ve managed over a slower, less synthetic process in the last several millennia predating these two hundred years, which in scale is certainly not as trivial as something to be brushed aside as a mere byproduct of something [industrial civilisation.]

However, what is undeniably attractive about Reisman’s perspective is that he forges on with an exuberant and glorious faith in human intelligence [that abhorrent word again.] His argument hinges on the objectivist notion that the sole moral responsibility of the ideal human is to seek happiness – which is a biologically developed barometer for measuring how successful one is in the pursuit of one’s life purpose. So humans must essentially act for the better of their own kind. He forgets that we measure our purpose in human lifespans, and invariably future generations [whatever lip service we may pay] are never a part of the plan. Why else would America not sign the Kyoto protocol?

However, not all economists subscribe to this extreme viewpoint in favour of an almost fanatical notion of capitalism.

During Nicholas Stern’s tenure as an economist with the World Bank [I shan’t get into the controversy surrounding WB’s involvement in development projects around the world, now] his team wrote up a report, now famously known as The Stern Report, which speaks of the imminent and serious dangers of abusing the environment. It then goes on to draw up a viable economic plan for how developed nations of the world should plough back a percentage of their GDP into environmental damage control.

Sounds reasonably sensible – in a moderate sort of way, na?

While Wikipedia lists an impressive compilation of quotes from Nobel laureate economists over the years congratulating Stern’s report for being the first of its kind to have opened up scope for finding viable ways of addressing the issue of environmental damages without trying to change the order of the world, it too has received scathing criticism. For a faulty calculation of discount rates. Yes, right, my response too. Discount who?


I had to stop here with this post. Because it went on in this vein for a while, over a week really. Looking for a nicely compact little watertight idea on healing the environment turned into this messy slow march through a marsh of many conflicting views with no clarity in sight [such a visually loaded sentence, straight out of the Sundarbans. Ah irony.]

And now, I have nothing to show for my diligence. Just a very muddled, alarmed, hopeless head which I am increasingly tempted to bury in a mound of sand [because flushing wastes too much water].

So I’ve dashed off three to four paragraphs of some very crisp words to Monumentally Important Person detailing: a.) my abysmal level of awareness, followed by b.) my views [nonetheless, since you asked] outlining a largely sketchy [at this stage] plan on how political bodies at international, national and local should work it out, ending off with c.) my cheeriest and best wishes for a fantastic debate. Love H.

Uff. I hate compromising my wisdom with such emails.

And now I must leave you with this absolute gem of a quote, which M – the best friend – believes I have fallen in love with just because of the way it’s been phrased [can you believe how absolutely annoyingly right some people can be?]:

“…millions of people in the United Kingdom [H note: this could be true across the globe] who are happy to be described as “environmentalists” remain acutely reluctant even to acknowledge the ideological heartland of what they call “environmentalism”, and are so depoliticised that any mention of the bigger capitalist picture sends them running off back to their bird-boxes and gently simmering organic lentils…”
– Sir Jonathon Porritt


Before I run off to my little birdbox, here’s a little note for those of you [all one of you] who’ve made it to these last words.

Since I’ve written a spectacular amount [if we can overlook the quote-unquote] concluding nothing, do share your ideas on this… If you send them in soon enough, perhaps MIP could make use of them – with due credit of course.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Lady Macbeth on soap

O bloody. I think I’m developing a hand-washing fetish.

It is a reliable diagnosis [I am almost certain] because MY MOTHER noticed. Mothers, especially mine, never notice unless they’ve said it at least a million and a half times. The halfth time is when she’s just about barely said “H…” in that sighing, soap loving, child rearing tone and my hands shoot up – gleaming and wet and exuding a gentle-wash lemony floral bouquet, my eyebrows come together, my mouth twists sourly, and starts tiching and barking short “I did” yelps. These days my mouth doesn’t twist sourly it curls into a fresh lemony smile forming floral “I did” shapes, involuntarily.

I wash my hands now. Unasked.

Just this ought to have me quailing in my chuddies, biting my nails down to my elbows, installing restrainers at the wash-basin. Instead I just keep creeping my fingers toward the press-nozzle springiness of imminent delight. You’ll be asking why, just about now and I might as well answer because it is cathartic – this blogging thing. Because it’s an alarmingly regressive hereditary condition in my family. All women on my Mum’s side of genealogy – three [not] wyrd sisters of the Burnpore outback – post-motherhood-pre-something discover a particular baptismal quality to washing. There’s nothing that a good hand washing cannot redeem. Bacteria, foul temper, poor blood circulation and bad karma. Absolution is clearly in the innocuous nozzle of a soap dispenser.

By the way, have you noticed that when you really really get the hang of the word ‘clean’, the idea of a cake of soap being used by more than one pair of hands is a gruesome, macabre, hell-raising thought?

Actually, many things now seem gruesome. For instance other people’s hands. Or going 31 minutes without washing one’s hands. Or touching things in those 31 minutes.

It can be tough when one is used to biting one’s nails. I feel I must wash my hands after they’ve hovered masochistically around [‘in’ is just too crass] my mouth. Which is odd, because mum said hands must be washed so that they could become mouth safe. Not that she said my hands must be stored away in my mouth when not in use…

But this, I suppose, as all events in our lives, is symptomatic of something else. Something larger. Something that has a perverse preoccupation with becoming cosmically meaningful. This something being dirt. The realness of it. The dirtiness of it. The absolute ill-health of it. The creepingness of it into the ridges of the skin on my phalanges and the crevices in my head.

How else does one explain the sense of morality involved in washing my hands? The glorious bursts of celestial fireworks, floral showers, soft white clouds and pristine sparkles of pureness akin to the dust that dancing apsaras kick up – okay maybe not dust – that spring forth in my head when my hands come out dolphin like from under the tap, fragrant with caressing mild liquid soap; and clean.

I think I might have a crush on liquid soap. The rich sparkly creamy floral lemony kind.

That’s it. No OCD. It’s just a bleedin’ crush. Wah hahaha. That was close.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

One day in Doon

This is where it was sucked out of me. Commas, colons and stops. And all the words in between. So it is befitting, in the deeply subliminal [because we never display overt signs of it, ever] neat virgoness of my brain, that it should begin, once more, right here.

Here, where my amma wrung my wrists with her baby hands, tugged at my jacket [and something deep inside] and kicked her legs. Life is a tenacious bastard. And pleading, I learnt, doesn’t help. But she got away. On a plump morphine cloud, in a nappy with the last deeply unreliable memory of two generations of her blood, red and alive, spilling salted sorrow and relief and regret and prayers and thanks in a pool, in a spool in a spill in the still around her and above her, hovering between being and not.

She went in peace. I’ll tell myself this. I will believe it.

She went without the burning, bastard catheter. The trickle of an insolent bowel, the embarrassment of it. The ripe blue sore that spread in abiding companionship to the purple rubber sheet, and the years that crept into the cradles of her bones.

She slipped away, thief like, with something that belonged to me.

Stories. Her stories. My stories.

Stashed away in her head, frittered carelessly to passing angels, I’m sure, she made off with my past.

Recollections of baby sized lisping fathers. Of kidnappers and bandits. Of fighters and freedom. Of death and widowhood and resurrection. Of three strong sons like the Sun the Moon and Earth. And of love.

The love she lost half of a hundred years ago. Love so quiet deep and constant that 52 years after she last beheld him, like a naughty, haughty, eager bride she crept away, early in the morning before the household awoke, to be with him once more.

How would I know?

Because she said so.

Frail fingers ran through my hair, my head lightly nestled in the bony crook of her arm as she spoke of her love. “He’s waiting for me” she said, the last time we spoke. “He keeps coming to me in my dreams”.

She even showed The Sibling, her favourite grandchild [I was the least favourite] an ivory brooch he gave her. I LOVE YOU it said, ornately. “What does it say amma?” asked the Sibling, winking at me. “Pah” spat amma, flushed and smiling and getting angry and coy and excited and shaky, “something in English. I shan’t say…”

By the end he did away with all decorum expected of the dead. Sauntered in wherever he pleased to claim his bride.

“There he is, in the doorway, calling my name,” she said once, waving to him coyly from the hospital bed. “I need to go!” she pleaded with my sobbing father.

He. That’s how she referred to him. “When he was ill…” or “When he was transferred to Lucknow…” or “he used to buy me English perfumes…” or “He was a good man, your babaji. The best there ever was”.

He. He had a fucking name. A name as sharp and handsome as he. A name that smells of pine nuts in the Himalayan foothills. A name that ripples with the thunder of thickly muscled Gods. A name befitting a king. Rudra.

And now that Rudra has his bride on the other side; my amma no more, just Shakuntala – princess Shakuntala – age fallen away from her bones, cheeks flushed sparkle in her eyes; I think we’ll begin a new story. One in which she and I could like each other.

For Duck [somewhat], because you asked. And because I couldn’t explain adequately, why.

Most of all for Amma, and three generations of her blood.