Sunday, September 4, 2011

Last Friday Night

I came home at around 4:00 pm. As I entered the house my brother welcomed me with irritated looks.
“Thanks a lot for coming this early. I was supposed to go to my friend’s place to study.”  Unplugging the ipod earphones from my ears I said, “You should have messaged me, Sanju. I can’t dream that you were waiting for me to arrive to leave the place”
“I can’t leave her on her own can I? She’s in bad shape”, he declared.

My grandmother has been suffering from a bout of bad cold and fever since the last 1 week. She’s been on medications since Monday but there hasn’t been much improvement in her condition.
“Alright you can leave now that I’m here.”

I showered, changed had a late lunch and it was already 4:45 pm by then. I decided to take a break till 6:00pm and then start my reference work since the exams are less than 25 days away and I have done zilch.  Watching the rerun of Bones from 5:00pm to 6:00pm was my treat to myself for the day. I wanted to sleep for 15 minutes till 5:00pm as I was awake for most of last night with my gran’s coughing and then waking up to check on her and only slept soundly by around 1:30 am waking up again at 6:00am to attend college. I stayed back in college till 2:15pm to attend a meeting where we discussed the upcoming department  journal and since I wanted to write for it this year too, it was imperative that I stay put and show my face, make my presence felt, note down the dates for deadlines to submit drafts and smile away.

At 4:15 the phone rang and I had to go up to answer that and make polite conversation with someone who called up to check on my gran. At 4:30 my gran requested for some coffee and I dashed to the kitchen to make some and got back to Bones at 4:40. At 5:50 my gran started groaning from the bedroom and her speech sounded garbled and low as a result of her weakness. I ran to check if she was okay. She wanted biscuits. We had no biscuits at home and since biscuits were the only things she was enthusiastically eating for the last many days without throwing up I ran down to get some from the shop below our house.
It was 6:05pm when I reached home. I looked at the watch and thought ‘behind schedule by 5 minutes, but that’s okay’. I spoke too soon.

I switched the lights on as it grew dark outside with heavy rain clouds rolling in and not to my surprise noticed that my house resembled a place that hadn’t been lived in for a week; this despite the maid having come in earlier in the day and claimed to have ‘swept’ and ‘mopped’ the house. My blood started boiling and before it could steam out of my ears the phone started ringing. The darn thing’s been doing that a lot since my gran’s fallen ill, with people calling up to check on her health.

At 6:15pm I decided to sweep the house since everywhere I walked I could feel dirt under my feet and saw some of it on the bed too with every customary visit my gran made to the bathroom and back. I spent the next 45 minutes sweeping my 1BHK house: every single nook and cranny, all the while cursing my maid. She’s a 4 foot something, frail, old woman who could easily be above 65 years of age and looks like she’ll faint every time she takes up a strenuous chore. She supports her widowed daughter-in-law and 2 grandchildren by working as a house help. I know I should be kind and considerate to her but not today of all days. She should have done a decent job since she’s taken it up. She shouldn’t have taken advantage of the fact that my gran is sleeping off her tiredness most of the time so she can shirk her work and gather most of the visible dirt and shove it under the fridge. I thought I’d burst a nerve when I realised she conveniently didn’t mop. During the rains mopping up the house is vital to keeping it clean. I spent the next 30 minutes skating around on a floor wet with water and floor cleaner with a sad, old mop for a dance partner. At 7:30pm after I was done with all the cleaning I switched on all the fans for the floors to dry off.
“Ok, Luck, the nurse-maid (pun intended)” I thought to myself “We still aren’t all that behind schedule, we can do both reference for exams and probable topics for the article you’d like to write for the journal.”

The bell rang, I thought my brother was back and skated across to open the door. It wasn’t. My relatives had come over to help and look after my gran.
I sat around till 8:00pm relaxing my sore back, catching my breath (which has been giving me a lot of trouble since the last two weeks with wheezing: something I never had before)talking to them then decided to retire to the bedroom to do some studying. They came in to be with my gran. And then my gran started coughing like crazy and calling out to God and lamenting out loud why God was doing this to her and many other such things. This happened till around 9:00pm ,9:30pm and attempts at burying myself in a book about Spenser made my gran  angry and hurt that I wasn’t paying attention to her despite the fact that her brother, sister-in-law and nephew were hovering around her waiting to answer her beck and call.

Long story short research for exams and journal never happened.

I felt like crying and banging my head against a wall.

My college principal wants us: the last batch that comes under Mumbai University, to have exams the same time as the rest of the college which comes under the autonomous system and has already had two internal assessments and are well versed with their syllabus unlike us.
My classmates; editors of the journal can set 7th September as the deadline to submit topic proposals since they don’t have to clean the house, cook or order food from out or nurse their ailing grandmother.
Bev is constantly texting me about starting research work while eating Dosas her mom made for her.
I didn’t have time to go to the Doctor to get my wheezing checked until my gran had to be taken to the clinic but Universities I’d like to apply to next year would like me to have had some work experience which is a minimum of four weeks. I have none. My classmates do, but then they can always go back home and not have to worry about leaving a 70 year old grandmother who is prey to bouts of mood swings due to loneliness alone at home, keep in mind never ending lists of household stuff needed to be bought, constantly vacillate between fighting with an annoying 17 year old brother to being a considerate sister and ease his worries and pressures off about the imminent board exams.

This was my Friday Night and I’m sure next Friday Night I don’t want to ‘do it all again’. I’d like to be a normal 19 year old kid who’s really scared and can always expect her Mom and Dad to be around to reassure her and give a hug.

Hoping you had a Katy Perry style Friday Night. Sans the stranger in the bed, breaking the law, maxed out credit cards and other scary scenarios.


Friday, August 12, 2011

Two To Tango

Last year I very conveniently skipped putting up a post on this day: the day my blog turned one. I have personal superstitions about being too happy about a good thing. This year I have decided to pack that irrational thought into a bag weighed down with stones and throw into the overflowing gutter outside my house.
When I started writing ,it was to pass time since colleges in the city of Mumbai were in a state of partial shut-down as Professors across the city were striking for an increase in wages. God bless their souls since that incident gave me a lot of free time with not a clue about what to do with it. Like most things I take up (and my mother will vouch for this) I thought that this will end up being a passing fancy and my four posts a month trend would dwindle into nothing in the span of the next six months.
How on earth is a blogger supposed to wish his/her blog a happy birthday? A most confounding problem this is, I must say.
That’s when I remembered a friend’s opinion regarding the blog the other day. She said “The blog is you and you are the blog”. A simple statement free of embellishments but very appropriate for this particular occasion if you give it a little thought. So keeping that in mind I’ve decided to compare the points of view in the various posts I’ve written till now and if there have been changes in my opinions in these last two years.

When I started the blog I had no clue about what I wanted to talk about to people. I just wanted to express myself. The first four posts are living proofs of this fact. Writers blog

I believed in the sanctity of the joint family and considered any problem that arose was the result of my inability to adjust. It was just a case of sweet lemons. I might very soon delete this post. The Good, bad and the ugly. It isn't worth the effort when only the Ugly remains.

I had a problem with people’s opinions about anybody's dusky complexion. I hardly have time to worry over petty ideals of beauty now so I care less about it but I still do. The Sisterhood of Strawberries and Chocolates.

Travelling is a still a hurdle I have to deal with every 6 months. To meet my family I’ll continue doing it for the next 6 years if the need arises. A Thousand Times Over

My baby cousin was welcomed into this world a few months after the blog. She’s two now and I’m enjoying the last few months of my teen hood. She’s busy exploring the world and imbibing the truths of life. So am I.  Right Angle

I thought youngsters doing drugs needed help and they could come out of the mess they’re in. I still do. 
My brother and I missed each other a lot. We fight a lot now; really serious fights which begin and end with blows. I still love him although I don’t know what the response is from his end. Sibling Mail Order

Unity in diversity is still the foundation on which India stands. But I fear I see it cracking up slowly day by day. Bangles All The Way

I still enjoy the small things in life. It’s the big things that I’ve yet to come to terms with.  Sweet Nothings

My parents and Grandma are my biggest inspirations when it comes to writing. There are a few names after theirs which have been added to the list though.   The Shinning

I like writing short stories. They need a gigantic amount of work done on them and the space for improvement available is enough to play football in. Webs

Pakistani’s are human beings. There are myriads of kinds of people in every country, not just India. 

God Almighty and I are great pals still. It’s a symbiotic, mutual understanding of sorts. ( If you’re reading this God, please be informed I’m kidding ;) I’m the only dependent one here). I still am petrified of exams.  

I miss my family a lot still. Even though this is the fifth year running that I’m away from them. Percieve-r-ance

 Birthday wishes will and have to work. They just seem to take an awfully long time. I could really use a wish right now

The situation in Indian hasn’t changed much.... If anything we are now moving into a more profound state of corruption and anarchy. I’d rather talk about this some other day. Road.Rage.Rules

Children are the father, mother and everything else possible  of mankind. Wordsworth knew what he was talking about. Different Strokes

I haven’t stopped losing things, but I‘ve stopped letting them affect me. Sort of. The Inheritance of  Loss

Oh! And how can I, how DARE I forget the wonderful fellow bloggers I’ve met here? People I’ve never met in person but friends nevertheless. They have for these last two years taught me a lot more about writing, interacting with people, and dealing with life and at the same time entertained me thoroughly without really intending to do the former. The blogosphere has proved to be the most interesting kind of contemporary classroom I’ve come across.

Two years , 30 posts and Two entities (the blog and I) partaking in an intricate dance of words, opinions, thoughts and feelings. Impressive. Specially keeping in mind my track record when it comes to pursuing things wholeheartedly and continuously.

 I'm hoping that the tango is complicated.


Saturday, August 6, 2011

Tu m’as manqué

I missed you.

Sweet sounding words that make you feel marvellous like no other three worded sentence can, maybe except ‘ I love you’ but that has become so common place, now every random affection felt towards another living creature is expressed in terms of love.

The privilege of being missed....

I haven’t come across much else that beats the gratifying sensation that floods every inch of your body when someone says they missed you. Getting good grades or being appreciated for something I wrote, yes. But being missed still stands a notch higher than the rest.
It makes having been away for all that time pining for familiar things and people, voices and smiles all that much more worth it. It fortifies the raw, sketchy hope I have in the human ability to connect, to value and to cherish. But most of all I love those three words when they are said to me because well..... It feels great to be loved and yeah, I am a narcissistic soul.

So I’d like to thank my mom, dad, grandmother and my three loving friends whose ebullient expressions of joy and beatific smiles on seeing me made my day. I’d like to thank my newfound friends I met at the summer school I attended for two weeks in Scotland for missing me. We bonded a lot more in those two weeks than I have been able to with some people I’ve known for over two years. Our differences in age (there were those in their 30’s and 40’s), nationalities, educational and cultural backgrounds never was an obstacle to forge what for the present looks like longstanding friendships. 
I’d like to specifically thank my cousin and his wife with whom I spent some time in London for missing me. I count those five days with them as one of the most memorable vacations I’ve taken and I can very confidently state that I haven’t met many people who have been so hospitable, welcoming, loving and free and yeah... who have in a just a span of spending five days in person with me and two weeks over the phone giving pep talks when I was in Scotland like me enough to miss me.
I also want to thank my professor for giving me a warm welcome on returning to class after a 3 week hiatus and also for being more interested in knowing if I had a good time instead of reminding me of the mountain sized heap of work that I have yet to catch up with.
Since I’ve spent most of this post rambling on about being missed I’d like to now mention what I missed the most.

I missed this blog of mine. I spent most of May and June preparing for the summer school and then the whole of July in UK. I’m really sorry for having neglected this one thing in the world that serves as the perfect outlet for my thoughts, ideas, opinions, feelings and other synonyms you can come up with. This is the only place that soothes my urge to write.

So during my 22 day stay in the UK, having the most marvellously unforgettable time of my life (apart from learning Modernism in English Literature) I’m glad I met people who believe that if you love someone or value something enough to miss it just spit it out because I haven’t yet developed the supernatural ability to look into someone and see what I mean to them. Those 3 simple words help me live every coming day to the fullest. And in this world that’s worth something. Trust me.

But I still don’t get why the French have to say 'you missed me' for 'I missed you' and then say what it actually means is 'you were missed by me'. It's another story that it sounds better the convoluted way.


Monday, April 4, 2011

The Inheritance of Loss 3: The cycle ends (hopefully).

So I’ve lost my wallet, my cell phone and a few days after the cell phone I realised I lost a green notebook I set a lot of store by along with a white hair band  that I owned since my primary school days.  I can survive without the last two, as, of all the things I’ve currently been losing those two are the ones that are the least important. However, those two are  things I hold the closest to my heart.

That notebook had a rough draft of a poem, notes from the research I’d done on William Blake which was the groundwork for an article I wrote for the English Department journal; my first ever published article...... It also held ideas, jottings for new blog posts....
That white hair band must be the plainest accessory I’ve ever owned but it was a constant reminder of my school days, my friends, and my childhood. In some bizarre fashion it sort of linked my childhood in UAE to my teenhood in Mumbai.

As usual I have no memory of where I last saw them. Not a single clue. No one around me does either. Already bogged down by the stress of too many things missing I’ve given up on the last two, albeit after the ritualistic hunting process.  Nothing great has happened. Eventually I had to give up on them what with my final exams staring me in the face and my friends hammering it into my thick skull that I have bigger fish to fry.
So to quote the Indian media’s favourite cliché, "How do you feel now?" and in reply to that I don’t feel much, to be frank I don’t feel anything at all. After all the initial madness filled with anxiety attacks, eerie dreams, disturbed sleep and obsessive ranting about my lost objects I feel nothing. Zilch. Rien.
It’s simple really; the point of it all is I’ve learnt something out of it. You can’t hang on to things in life or people for that matter and being the hoarder that I am it’s an important lesson learned. No single person or thing in life are ever ‘the most important thing' of our lives because eventually, we learn to live without them. All the voids and hollow spaces they leave in and around us fill up. There might be the occasional bad day; times when you suddenly long for that thing from the past but then it goes away and you learn to cope with it. I can’t say I’m completely cured of my negligible strain of OCD but I’m on my way. 

Suddenly, things and routines I couldn’t do without; an absence of which would evoke fear, doubt and unreasonable apprehensions, that would keep niggling at the back of my mind stirring up a lot of negativity in the process, have stopped looming over me thus losing their larger than life appearance. The first step has been accepting the fact that ‘Alright, I do get more nervous than socially accepted and permitted levels of nervousness’.  Second step: realizing that a small event or string of events can affect the bigger picture of my life only if I want and make them too. Three: this is going to be a long, long process and requires a lot of belief and faith in myself. I shouldn't be expecting any overnight miracles and nor should anyone else.

So basically, losing 4 important items on 3 different occasions brought to the fore a problem I’ve been pushing aside as ‘just an annoying habit’. That’s looking at the bright side of the situation. Getting back to the realistic side of me I wish that this annoying disappearance of personal articles ends once and for all.

Hoping that, like Sonya says, "3 is the charm".


Friday, March 25, 2011

The Inheritance of Loss 2: Tragic encounter with cops shatters myth about magic of numerical codes

I have to and have to and have to, just have to get that phone back. Need my phone, need my phone want my phone want my phone WANT MY PHONE.....

So after a lot of tears, cursing, lamenting, searching and bemoaning my luck Beverly and I went to the Police Station 2 days later to file an FIR and submit the magical IMEI number that would help trace my darling cell phone and bring it back to me.  As we got out of the rickshaw we were in we spent some time ogling at the building that was the Police Station. We looked at each other and then started walking towards the station compound. We climbed up a few stairs before finally stepping into the part of the structure that actually housed the cops. I wanted to snigger. Uncontrollably.

What would people say? Girls from good families never even skirt the boundaries of a Police Station, let alone step inside one. Cops are not to be trusted; half the rapists and killers and smugglers in the city are policemen. Police stations are filthy and unsafe.

While my head was swimming with voices yelling out all the stereotypes attached to Police Stations and Policemen my common sense was stating superfluous facts blithely.

 Looks like the outpatient section of a hospital with linoleum flooring and off white walls, no smell, no lock ups in view {what a letdown...} no cops in sight either....Why do they have a foyer? An empty one at that too. Oh, there’s another room to the left. I spy cops. What do we do now?

“What do we do now Bev?”          
“Ask someone what we should exactly do?”  Bev and I, we have a penchant for rhetoric.
“Madam, what are you looking for? {On second thoughts} How can I help you?”
“We needed to lodge a complaint regarding a lost cell phone.....”
“Please enter the room to your left and let Inspector Mhatre know what your problem is.”

Oh yes, yes! I remember Inspector Mhatre... His kid was in kindergarten with me.{Rolling eyes}

Bored cop looks at our bemused faces and then on an impulse decides to rephrase his sentence, “The policeman in the cubicle on the left end of the room, Maam”
We ‘Thank You’d’ in tandem and walked to meet Inspector Mhatre. He was busy on the phone talking nineteen  to the dozen in Marathi: a language Beverly can come to terms with after grappling with a sentence or two per second and a language that is as alien to me as being overweight is to a model. Inspector Mhatre smiled at us mouthed ‘cell phone’ and then gestured us to the other end of the long rectangular room. He smiled once again, held the phone a few inches away from his ear and yelled out loudly

“Shinde, Ya  Madamcha mobile missing ahey. Tyachi complaint londavaychi ahey” {Ma’am has lost her phone. Lodge her complaint}

Constable Shinde escorted us to the far end of the room and sat us down on two identical, thankfully not battered plastic lawn chairs. He removed huge horn-rimmed glasses from his breast-pocket and fixed them onto the bridge of his nose. I felt like we were in an eighties Bollywood movie; the aggrieved female leads about to file a complaint and cops who weren’t the least interested about what we had to say. But I was wrong, they were interested.

“Where do you live? Are you working or are you a student? When exactly did this happen? Where did the phone get lost?”
“I don’t know  exactly where.....I came home and realised that my phone was missing. I travel to and fro from home to college by train. I can’t precisely remember where I last used it or when it went missing.”
“So did it go missing in the train?” Questioned the constable, “Because if it did then you’ll have to go to the Railway police and file a complaint. So I’ll write that you lost it in the bus while travelling from the station to your house, right?” His eyebrows were raised quizzically, a conspiratorial look in the eyes.

Policemen 101: They make you run from pillar to post. He’s doing the opposite and helping us....Surprise Surprise

“When did it exactly go missing?”
“On the 17th of February, Sir. Most probably in the afternoon.”
“Well it’s 19th evening today......”

I know that, didn't I just confirm my occupation as a student?

“I’ll lodge a complaint for the 18th..... You lost it on the 18th, right?”
Bev and I look at each other, both our eyes mirroring the same expression: amazement , “Yes, Sir”

Policemen 101: Cops are sticklers for facts if it aides in harassing the public. False.

In walks top cop Inspector Kadam and seats himself on the chair before us. He starts interrogating me in Marathi and I stare at him dumbfounded. The Inspector looks from the constable to Beverly. I know what he’s thinking. Is she slow or what?

“She doesn’t understand Marathi, Sir”, Bev supplied in Hindi. Inspector resorts to displaying expressions of mock hurt and insult. The man’s regional spirit has been crushed with my lack of knowledge of his mother tongue is what he’s implying.
Marathi  yeth nahi ka?! Mumbai mein reh ke Marathi aana chahiye na? {You don't know Marathi, is it? When you live in Mumbai you should know Marathi!}

If after living here for only four years you feel this distraught imagine how the Arabs are feeling ........

“Umar kya hai apki? Age Age....” he adds in English for my benefit.

I said don’t understand Marathi but Hindi I do, so please quit the subtitles.....

“Unnees saal , Sir. Hum SYBA students hai” {We are 19 year old SYBA students} I said. I was bored of playing scared, big-eyed, innocent alien. We threw in the prestigious name of our college for added measure, snobs that we are. Plus we wanted them to believe that we were serious about what we came and weren’t passing time. As I was rattling off all of my personal details, including my name age, address, surname, place of birth, father’s name, college and phone number a group of petty criminals who were cowering on the floor near us looking around listlessly were overhearing our conversation with the cops. Bev drew her chair sideways trying to appear unperturbed while making a conscious attempt to distance herself from the scruffy looking convicts.

We had one of our many telepathic conversations

What if they memorize my details and hunt me down? How smart are these cops?
C’mon Lucky, they don’t look bright enough to memorize all that AND act upon it.
Point noted Bevy.
Also note: you’re plain paranoid.
Iyeah! Ha! I drew the chair away didn’t I?
It’s called hygienic concerns.
Hmphh right back at you.

Inspector Kadam boomed, “Accha, Ok, Shinde tila lost certificate denyat yawe” {Please issue a lost certificate with the details to Ma'am}.  And after barking his command with practised flourish the Inspector went to wherever it was he had come from.
After furnishing all the details they wanted I handed them the magical IMEI number.

Fingers crossed, C’mon numbers work your magic. Prove your worth. Break my losing streak.

Constable  Shinde looked at me and said ,“Ahhhh , We’ve heard about this, but we don’t understand the technology and neither do we have it.”

"But Sir...."

Policemen 101: 5 year olds are technologically more competent than cops. These words resonate with nothing but the truth.

“Even though it’s not of much use I will mention it here in your lost certificate.” And saying so he wrote it down on the sheet of paper they had the gall to call a certificate. 

The lost certificate was for me to keep, in case I needed to claim my phone or check the status of my complaint. The FIR; the official version of the lost certificate that the cops kept with them had no mention of the IMEI number whatsoever.  There isn’t any mind-boggling rocket science involved with regards to the IMEI number. The cops just have to note it down call up the different service providers in the city and inform them that any new Sim Card that operates with this IMEI should be reported to the cops immediately and the co-ordinates of that Sim Card have to be provided to the IT section of the police department. Technologically incompetent moi knows that.

“Now what Sir?”
“Now nothing, we will wait and see if someone hands it over. Usually they don’t but just in case you know....”

Oh so basically after changing 2 buses and coming this far all you guys are going to do is wait for some public spirited citizen to hand it over? Classic......

“How costly was it? When you tried calling what happened?”
“I don’t know how costly it was Sir, but it was more than Rs 10,000 and when I tried calling my number I got the ‘switched off’ message even though the battery was fully charged in the morning.”

Who cares about the money {I do of course!} but the pictures of my family, school friends, videos from the JB concert, videos of my baby cousins and Bev’s first time on stage, my songs, messages , my things to do list, reminders...........Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhrrrrrrrrrggggggggghhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.

“Then it’s gone for sure. Either ways here’s you certificate. We will inform you if something crops up.”
They went back to watching the cricket world cup on the TV installed in an inner ‘cops only sanctum’.

Thanks for the extra helping of positivity. Wonder why it tastes bitter.

As we were walking out of the precinct Bev and I spoke out at the same time,

“What a waste of time and energy!”
“Although they were sweet and nice”
“Yeah they weren’t manner less boors.”
“We know most cops DO have potbellies and paunches”
“You bet”
“Look at the bright side, we know how a Police Station functions and we’ve been inside one! “
"Yeah! We were brave enough to go and deal with the cops on our own without any adult help Bev!"
"We ARE technically adults, you know......"
"Oh yeah..... I tend to forget that sometimes."
"Well, at least we tried"
"Yeah, we tried."

I’ve tried everything possible to locate my phone. Apart from obsessing over it and suffering from anxiety attacks there isn’t much I can do. So I sleep at night dreaming of my pretty little touch screen hoping that somehow, someday soon it will turn up flashing it’s backlight and notification lights cheekily at me.

The nut who stole it even stole the phone’s sassy red cover :(


 PS: If the Marathi translations are any good just letting you know that they are the handiwork of my friend Madhuri :) If they're faulty please give the brickbats to her too :P Special thanks to Kalyani for providing me with typical Marathi policemen surnames :) Yes, those aren't the real names of the cops I interacted with. Whatever made you think I'm going to risk my neck doing that???

The Inheritance of Loss

It all started with the wallet. A pretty thing in blue denim gifted to me by my friend Shruti on my 17th birthday. I had preserved it for almost two years, intact with the box and the gift wrapper it came in. Two years later exactly after my 19th birthday when the wallet I was using started disintegrating into shreds of leather and cloth I decided it was time to bring out the denim wallet. It was smaller, compact and easy to lose. In the giant handbag I carry to college, perpetually stuffed with books, files and occasionally with a stole to protect myself from the winter chill and the summer sun anything could go missing for a few minutes and initiate an anxiety attack lasting a few minutes before the object of concern turned up dandy and fine. I guess my possessions are of the opinion that once in a while a little extra pumping of the heart, increase in pulse rate, palpitations and hyperventilation does me good.
I had to renew my railway pass that day so I had carried around Rs 1000 with me. On reaching the ticket counter I realised that my usual train would leave in a matter of 3 minutes. I urged the lazy official at the booking counter to get my pass made quickly and sprinted towards the train clutching the remaining Rs 200 or so I received as change in my hand. I’m usually very meticulous when it comes to keeping things in their proper places. But that day for some inexplicable reason I decided to stuff the money into my pencil pouch which was the first thing that I could lay my hands on in the cavern I call my handbag. I didn’t even bother to transfer the money from my pouch to the wallet despite opening the pouch a gazillion times to remove my writing implements. In the train, returning home I noticed a lady selling safety pins and remembered my Grandmother asking me to get her some if one of the travelling hawkers in the train were selling them. I opened my bag for the wallet and started the ritualistic rummaging I engage in every time I needed something found. It had to be inside a book or under the file or concealed in the folds of the stole. Out came books, lunch-box, mobile phone, pencil pouch, stole, library book, hair band, sunglasses, reading glasses {both intact in their cases}, ID card, water bottle but no wallet. NO WALLET.

"Madhuri, I don’t seem to find my wallet........"
"It’s got to be there somewhere in your bag. Give me your books, must be stuck inside one of them."
"I guess yeah....." OH MY GOD..... I’VE LOST IT...IT’S GONE....GONE
"What are you doing, Luck?"
"Searching for the wallet, what else does it look like?"
 "Inside your lunch-box?"

There’s a saying in Malayalam that when roughly translated means, ‘When you lose your fishing rod you should search for it even inside an earthen pot’. What it basically tries to get across is that no matter how ridiculous it may seem, leave no stone unturned during your search for lost items. That’s a rule of thumb I always adhere to while hunting for my things.


"Maybe I left it in class......"
" Did you remove it to buy anything from the canteen today?" 
"Nope.... I got lunch from home."
"When did you last use it?"
" To pay for the pass..."
"Is that the last time you saw it?"
"I actually can’t remember when the last time I saw it was."

I spent the next three to four days searching for that wallet in the classrooms, the lost and found department, every nook and cranny of every place I possibly was at on that day, retracing my steps and actions but that wallet was GONE. I was kind of okay with the fact that I lost it because the only thing of import it held was change for bus worth Rs 30 and a few 100 used bus tickets that I had saved up for my friend Manasa who collects them. Fortunately the Rs 200 remained in the pouch all day. Sometimes laziness pays off. Sometimes you feel lazy for a reason.
But I’ve always wondered how and where exactly it went missing...  The bag is always glued to my arm or lap, the only other people I left it with are my gang of friends. We came to the conclusion that the only possible place it could have fallen out would be at the station as I was yanking my worthless stole out of my bag while getting off the train. I decided it was a much needed lesson for me to not be overconfident about being ‘the person who never lost stuff’.
I was much more careful than before, indulging in regulated checks of my bag at a 50 minute interval and everything was fine and under control.

Until I lost my mobile a month later. 


Monday, February 7, 2011

Introducing Me

I realised recently that even though this blog belongs to me it doesn’t talk a lot about me.  I won’t lie saying that it’s an accidental occurrence, the truth being that when I started off with the blog I consciously chose not to write about myself. There’s something about revealing one’s personal side to strangers that is intriguing and at the same time intimidating. When you have elders at home constantly harping about psychopaths and stalkers you learn to be wary no matter how tempting pouring your heart and soul out to people who don't know enough about you to judge you seems. Another fact is that majority of my readers are my buddies and family:  people who either live with me , have lived with me or those I see every single day of the week. It never really came to mind to give a background about myself and my surroundings.
This, I have recently realised, tends to be a major impediment to my writing. Most of the time I have to go off tangent and give lengthy descriptions so that the new readers I’ve acquired who aren’t family and friends {I’m gloating as I write this :D } aren’t lost. 

So to both old and new, family and strangers welcome to my world of pixelated  thoughts.
 I’m Falak, a 19 year old girl studying in Mumbai, India. I’m a student of political science, English and French literature. I can speak decent enough French but I’m sure that in Paris I’ll be an outcast if I open my blessed mouth. I have no political opinions. None at all. Although I think living in a democracy invariably gives me the right to criticize the working of my country and I never miss a chance to do so whether in speech or writing because that’s the only possible way I can rectify things; by letting people know about it. I love English, the language of course, which I intend to major in. It happened almost a decade ago when my mother inculcated the love for reading books in me. It’s like being in love with your best friend: you’ve liked him and been with him for so long, loving him is a habit you’re unaware of unless someone draws your attention to it. Which is exactly what my friends Bev, Jo, Mads and Yo did. That’s how this blog came about, for more info read Writer's blog . 

I was born and brought up and completed my schooling up till the 10th in UAE and moved to India for my higher studies. Since the last four years I’ve been living away from my parents, here, in Mumbai but still entertain my frenemy homesickness. You can often see me whine about the people and things I miss. I currently live with my gran and younger brother who will feature more often on this blog from now on than they have in the past. I have a strapping, huge, extended maternal family who I lived with until last year and many a times this blog serves as the perfect platform for me to moan about the idiosyncrasies and peculiarities of my myriad of grand aunts, grand uncles, aunts, uncles and cousins who are all of the opinion that they possess the divine right to correct, criticize, judge and love me. I love reading but never limit myself to a particular author or genre. The same goes for movies and music. 
My bookshelf holds The Harry Potter series, Wuthering heights, Mills and Boon, P.G Woodehouse, Cecilia Ahern, Jeffery Archer, Arundhati Roy, Harlan Coben, Marry Higgins Clarke, Nora Roberts and The Twilight Saga on the very same rack. If you can write I’ll read it. I love poetry. I love poetry and dabble in some myself but am still in the process of exploring its many wonders in my lit classes in college. If you haven’t closed the web page yet after the bit about poetry then I enjoy cooking. From what I've been telling my near and dear ones I am supposed to hate travelling but I secretly enjoy it because the people I meet,the insights and experiences I gain during my daily 1 hour local train travels to and from college and my flights to UAE are blog worthy. I enjoy reminiscing; it’s maybe because I’m some kind of a masochist who doesn’t mind taking a trip through memories that evoke painful symptoms of nostalgia and homesickness if it means I can find some shadow of happiness lurking there.
 I ADORE little children, specially babies, as a result of which I often mention my kiddy and not so kiddy horde of cousins. I relish spicy food, freak out on the colour green. I love laughing out loud with my friends who I write about a lot. These 8  women: 6 from college and my 2 besties from school form my support system and help me weather my mood swings, phases of depression, omnipresent fatigue which is a consequence of being responsible for myself, my ageing grandmother, my rebellious teenage brother and the running of our small household, lack of confidence, constant bouts of anxiety and worrying about nothing in general.  We also love the boy band The Jonas Brothers. I like to think I’m funny, everyone does. I’m an expert at geriatrics, having lived with senior citizens for the last four formative years of my life but am completely and hopelessly socially inept in a teenage sceneJ. My 8 angels are working on it. I talk in Hindi, Malayalam {my mother tongue} and English but think in all three simultaneously and write in English. I meet my parents every 6 months during vacations and living in two countries simultaneously creates a sort of identity crisis for me.

I guess I’ve pretty much mentioned everything that I’d tell about myself to anyone, whether an acquaintance or a stranger. A little more and you might as well not read any other post I put up.
If you’re still reading after the Jonas part you must have deciphered by now why I call this blog Much Ado About Everything. It has nothing to do with being a lit student and enjoying Shakespeare {I have yet to read one of his plays in detail} but everything to do with my obsession with word play and the fact that I worry, whine and can go on and on about trivial things. On the good days I glorify the inconsequential joys of life.

I had a grand old time introducing myself and my muddled up world.  On a concluding note all I have to say to you whether you’re someone who’s been part of my journey finding my own voice this last 1 year or whether you decide to now or whether you’re just a passer-by is:
Enchanted to meet you


Sunday, January 23, 2011

Different Strokes

There is something charming about young children. Or to phrase it better, there is something charming about the practical logic that young children dole out.

My two precocious cousins, a boy and girl both aged that wobbly age of twelve where they are teetering between childhood and adolescence never cease to annoy and surprise me. They are a few months away from the jinxed 13 and I can already see them morphing into monsters. It’s scary when they suddenly snap at me; at an attempt to defy authority or their idea of their freedom being suppressed, when all I might have asked her to do is stop bossing her baby sister and go get her hair brushed. I don’t know whether I should soothe her temper or whack her on the head. Or when I just remind them about how ‘precious’ the books in my library are and that dog ears aren’t tolerated when he’d give me a rejoinder that’d have me reeling head over heels back into the kitchen and hiding under my mother’s apron; if she ever wore one. When I land in UAE I get excited, high pitched calls with a 12 year old girl trying to drown out the giggly questions of a 6 year old girl by increasing the volume of her own; and then there is also the nonchalant call where a 12 year old boy languidly questions me about the details of my short visit in that bored, drawling tone that has me wondering if he’s manoeuvring a car on the PSP with his free hand. And they never decline a chance to torment me mercilessly about my undying love for the Jonas Brothers, {even the 6 year old brat} who according to them I should have given up on before my 18th birthday. But their revulsion for the JB never stopped them from waiting with bated breath to get the details about my trip to their concert in Abu Dhabi  and the inside info on both the performers and the performance. They yo-yo between being cute and horrible in nanoseconds.

When I started blogging, slowly and steadily I let some of my family know about it, including the kids. On my last visit home during a family reunion one weekend my aunts got to questioning me about the blog and talking about it in general. That was when my sister butt in; in that honestly frank manner she used to tell her mom as a kid that the dish she painstakingly made was yucky, she told me “ Chechi (elder sister), Your blog is really dumb. I can’t understand what you write and it’s too confusing. I was too dumbfounded to reply, so I decided that the magazine I was hiding behind was my best bet to hide my disappointment. The little girl to whom I was a goddess, I who could never go wrong, had just deemed something really important to me as rubbish.
I might have spent almost 15 minutes staring at the same page when I decided to get myself a box of readymade chocolate pudding that I gorge on when I’m home to pep me up. As I was about to get a spoon, my cousin apparated before me with one. He had been walking up and down the house incessantly, his heels making thudding sounds and driving the household insane. It’s his way of staying occupied and working out his excess energy. He put on his I’m –such a –wise-old-guy face and asked me very seriously, just like as a kid he’d ask me if finishing school meant now that I’d get married and have babies . “If she finds what you write difficult, isn’t it good for you?” “Why?” I mumbled with my mouth full of chocolate, my spoon strategically left hanging midair about to drip chocolate.  He questioned “ Do you think Shakespeare is confusing? His writing, the language you know?”  “ Ummm, Yes.”  I replied a little reluctantly, but honestly wondering what he’d have to say about that since he knew I’m a literature student. “Well most people do” he says brisk walking around the dining table “but it’s supposed to be great, what he writes. And I think you’re good, although I have to read what you write twice whenever I do to understand it.” He resumed scurrying about aimlessly.
While I was simultaneously digesting this gyaan (knowledge) and the chocolate pudding my cousin yelled from the bedroom! “I love the bracelet you got me! The colour combo is so cooolll! I love you.”
It  looks like I am still sister numero uno in the dressing up department at least.

May the logic of children help you adopt a refreshing outlook on old things this New Year although I know I’m  23 days late J