Monthly Archives: August 2008

>What I write when I’m feeling low

>I must be growing old, because I no longer can believe in my dreams.

I look at my life and think of all the things I should be grateful for. And I think also of all the things I can never have now, even in my dreams. It’s been a slow and painful stifling, but I’ve done that to my dreams finally. I know now that that heaviness in my heart that leaves me feeling lonely in the middle of a smile is the void that those dreams have left there – a little hollow that sucks in all my happy emotions day after day.

I don’t know if I erred in dreaming or if I erred in pursuing those dreams. I do know that my dreams were not impossible. They’ve been made impossible by circumstances.

Let me say what I want to say even if you don’t know what I’m talking about. Let me say it hurts to consciously lose yourself in the mundane routines of life when your life could have been so much more than mundane. It hurts to live each day thinking of a tomorrow that’s no better.

You may not know what it feels like to look at the world and think where you fit in it because the space you occupied no longer exists. I will tell you it feels lonely. It feels lonely to have nobody with you to dream the things you’ve dreamt of. Or to tell you they will come true. There is no solace in knowing it could have been different if somebody wanted it to be.

I can wipe others’ tears but I can no longer cry. How do you cry for what you can never have? The heart, it weeps. But the eyes can only stare in empty silence. And there isn’t even a future to look at.

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>Why he’s from Mars and I’m from Venus

> Or let’s say I’ve finally understood Coulomb’s Law of Attraction in the way my relationship works with The Guy. We’re perfect opposites in just about everything and that must be the only reason why we are attracted to each other! The only good thing about that is the thought that if were alike, we would repel each other.

I’ve read only a few pages of that bestseller book that gets quoted everywhere these days, so I don’t know if it’s really that men are from Mars and women are from Venus or if it’s just us. You decide:

  • He’s a Piscean and I’m an Arien. I’m the first sign of the zodiac, he’s the last. I’m a a fire sign, he’s a water one.
  • He’s a man of few words, I’m bordering on verbose. He could live in monosyllables, I would die with them!
  • He hates books, can’t read two pages without dozing off. Me? I dream of a well-stocked personal library in my house, children who’ll know Dante from Virgil, Shakespeare from Marlowe..
  • He luuuuuuuuuurves movies – all of them! Those that were made three years ago but reached the cinema halls only after much effort, those with bad music, poor direction and no story line, horror films with patchy SFX, films with Tusshar Kapoor in the lead… Films that have come on TV uncountable times will be watched uncountable times. If somebody’s made a film, he’s made it for The Guy to watch it! No seriously. As for me, well, let’s just say I’ve finally found the most comfortable posture to fall asleep in the multiplex chair!
  • We both love playing games. He loves his football and cricket, I love my Scrabble and Pictionary. I can’t catch a ball to save my life, he’d give his life to get a good catch.
  • He hates pets, hasn’t touched our golden lab except with his toes perhaps. I’m okay even if he chews up my arm!
  • He’s never, ever been to the gym. Will not say yes to jogging even to humour me, hates walks – even the romantic ones. Everything opposite of that holds true for me.
  • He’s always feeling too hot, I’m always cold.
  • He’ll always procrastinate, I’ll always be hasty.
  • He loves children only as long as they are infants, I love children only when they are not infants.
  • He can lose himself in numbers, figures and stats. I can only get lost in them.
  • He’s a beer person, I’m a wine person.
  • He won’t lose his temper till you ask for it, spell it out. I’d have lost and regained my cool ten times over in the same time.
  • He’s tall, I’m just not!
  • Finally, the clincher: I blog, he doesn’t even read one.
I rest my case.

>A stranger’s touch

>His palm was pressed lightly against the back of my head as his thumb manoeuvred down to the nape of my neck. He weaved his fingers through my hair and gently massaged my temples. I closed my eyes and felt my whole body relax. It was the first time a stranger had touched me like this and it felt queer to be enjoying the hands of an unknown man on my body. He explored the lobes of my ear with his long fingers, taking them behind my ears, stimulating hidden pressure points where I was aware of none. The temptation was too much; I had to give in to the pleasure that swept my body as he let his hands fall gently to my shoulders, knowing exactly where to touch me to melt my resistance into easy acquiescence.

My taut muscles seemed to dissipate under his pummelling and pressing as he worked his hands up and down my back. I could feel his warm finger tips through my cotton shirt. But I couldn’t stop him. “Do you like that?” he asked me softly, careful to give me only as much as I could handle. I nodded silently, too weak to say he should now stop.

He switched off the lights and all I could hear was the whirr of the air conditioner in the small room. The sunlight filtered through the window pane plastered with cheap flex to keep the harsh rays out, and bathed the room in an orange hue. Time’s running out, I thought, and it won’t be long before I would have to leave. For the last time he massaged my scalp with his hands, leaving a tingling sensation behind and then stopped. I knew it was the best hair spa I’d ever gone for.

>Character Factor

>

I used to be an avid reader, now I just love reading whenever I find time. I’ve read reams and reams of printed paper to fire up my imagination and transport myself into a world of make-belief, for better or for worse. Sadly though, I spent a lot of my early years reading books that did not prepare me for the Honors degree in English Literature that I would later graduate with. Pulp fiction – that’s what I’d been reading – had no place in the canon of literature, I was told. And in the literary world that I aspired to inhabit the Sidney Sheldons, Eric Segals, John Grishams and Jeffrey Archers that I had revered till then, were looked at with condescension, much to my consternation and dismay. Not that they did not make for interesting reads, but they just weren’t the authors that students of English Literature should be interested in.

Thankfully, pulp fiction and bestsellers were not all I had read till then. Our school library used to be pretty well stocked with all kinds of classics, only classics, come to think of it, apart from Nancy Drews and Hardy Boys and I had read plenty of them too. But during my under-grad years and later, I made a conscious effort to pick up books that were widely read, enjoyed cult status and would comprise an enriching reading experience. I wasn’t disappointed and decided they were quite my cup of tea I’d been missing in my years of ignorance.

So when I came across a tag to list your favourite literary characters, I got all excited. And I couldn’t resist the temptation to take up the tag.

I scanned the recesses of my mind where my favourite characters would be located, locked up in my memory. And I realised it’s a whole lot easier to list your favourite books than your favourite character.

However, one of my favourite characters has to be Heathcliff. I know, I know, there are lots of readers out there who think he was despicable, not a hero that the Wuthering Heights deserved, but I love the way his character has been moulded by Emily Bronte. He’s a loner, a lover, a symbol of raw power and energy, vulnerability… so much more. And he’s still just one character.
Miss Havisham from Great Expectations intrigued me like no other literary character. I still recall that passage from the book where she tells Pip, “Do you know what I touch here?” she said, laying her hands, one upon the other, on her left side. “Yes, ma’am.” (It made me think of the young man.) “What do I touch?” “Your heart.” “Broken!” She uttered the word with an eager look, and with strong emphasis, and with a weird smile that had a kind of boast in it. You can see her come alive in Charles Dickens words, so much so that despite the unreal feel to her character, she’s so real.

And then there’s Rhett Butler – everything I’d ever want in a man! Man enough to set someone like Scarlett O’Hara right. I was Gone With The Wind and let my 16-year-old imagination feed on this chivalrous, brave picture of a perfect man.

Dr. Faustus because of how Marlowe created him. Created in the 18th century, Faustus’ questions remain relevant even today. I find his speeches echo my sentiments so many times as I oscillate between choosing the high moral ground and selling my soul to the Devil. Yes, I sometimes imagine myself in that kind of dilemma.

It’s difficult to choose my favourite character from those in Khaled Hosseini’s The Kite Runner. But it has to be the silent strength of Hassan’s character that endears this book to me. He’s the underdog whom you want to help, the victim and the hero, pitied and respected at the same time.

Rebecca, who exists and doesn’t in the eponymous book, is the most intriguing literary character I’ve come acroos. And despite her absence she is the one around whom the book centres.

Who is your favourite literary character?

>Finding a title for this post is as difficult as finding a suitable boy. Or girl.

>To marry, that is. I may regret having met The Guy when I was barely 18, but I do not regret having found husband material so soon. On the contrary, I think I’ve been lucky when I compare myself to friends who’ve been there, done that but still can’t find themselves the kind of person they would like to marry. And no, I’m not talking about the kind of people who do not believe in marriage. I’m talking about the kind of people who want to marry, who’ve not found love yet, would be okay with an arranged match except that this whole arranging a match has turned out to be quite an ordeal.

So my 27-year old, successful lawyer friend’s fretful mother is spending sleepless nights over her marital status. And the friend’s quite tired of her single status too. But where’s the boy who’ll be her match? The successful boys have been too stingy (one refused to even share the bill at Barista!), the generous ones too ugly, others too conservative. The interrogations and telephonic interviews can get quite exasperating, I am asked to believe. And I believe it.

For the story for my 30-year-old bachelor friend who has finally sown his wild oats isn’t too different. He’s looking for a career-oriented girl now who’ll fit into the family as well as take care of his business. Of course, the stapes stay: compatibility and looks. The almost-perfect-for-him girl’s family turned out to be totally weird, another was too orthodox, still another not ambitious enough. He goes so far as to make a comparison chart of the suitable girls on Excel sheets. And all the analysing has been of no help till now! He’s still single, still wants to get married and still has no idea how he’s supposed to know a girl in one look, one meeting, one conversation!

And then there’s my dapper 27-year-old cousin who still can’t imagine himself living with a girl whom he won’t get bored of! He’s officially “settled” – roti, kapda aur makaan all taken care of – and promises to work on his commitment phobia as his family goes hunting for his life partner. His mum is sweet enough to say she doesn’t care for the girl’s complexion, age or height for her good-looking, fair and tall son. But despite those concessions, the prospective brides are conspicuous by their absence.

And you would think marriages could be arranged overnight by overexcited relatives, matrimonial ads and websites, all the networking – social and otherwise that goes around us and what have you!

I remember the snide remarks that my parents had to hear when my sister announced her decision to marry the man of her choice not of our caste in 1999. A few years hence, my “love marriage” raised no eyebrows because by then people around us had understood the judiciousness in letting your adult children choose their own partner in life. Some of that understanding may have to do with their inability to find a suitable match for their children in arranged marriages.

Gone are the days when the girl and boy would meet once, talk for five minutes and make up their minds. Gone also are the days when the parents’ word could be taken as final while looking for your prospective spouse.

These are times of great expectations. Everybody seems to be rich and successful, almost everybody is presentable. And there’s no way you can really know anything else about a person in two, even three or four meetings even though you so want toe. So how do you narrow down on the right person?

The expectations are also different now. For one, the rich NRI guy is no longer so wanted. Neither is the “fair, homely, convented girl”. As if the boys’ wish lists weren’t long enough, now girls have theirs too: a career after marriage, their surname too, a nuclear family and lots of space. Marriages must be made in Heaven, especially these days, because down here, things are getting pretty tough on that front.

And I ask, what’s the world coming to if the convenience of an arranged marriage is also no longer to be had?

>A brother-less post for Raksha Bandhan

>Does it matter that I do not have a brother? I’m forced to think after watching the deluge of Raksha Bandhan ads on TV, after seeing the markets flooded with rakhis of different shapes and sizes – pretty, ugly, attractive – all kinds, after hearing friends tell me of their endless plans for today. But I can’t miss what I’ve never known – this excitement, this euphoria of having a brother whom you fight with all through your life and still bond with. I have a sibling, albeit a girl, whom I can do all that with. Does that not suffice?

At the risk of sounding repetitive, I’ll expound on how my early life was spent in the company of women of all ages. There was my grandmother, ma, badi ma, badi ma’s two daughters, my sister and I. The men, except for the ones who were my father’s age, were conspicuous by their absence in my family: there was dad and bade papa, and a cousin from another uncle who lived with us. You get the girl-boy ratio in the family? Even among the cousins, the boys were few and far between and existed, for me, only on the fringes of my existence. On my maternal side too, the genes were tipped in favour of pretty girls. The boys were royally ignored in girlie games and talks during the growing-up years, accommodated with great effort in whatever little way possible.

Thanks to our (our = me and my siblings) education in all-girls schools, there was a distinct dearth of friends-turned-rakhi brothers too in our family. And even when we did have friends who were boys, there continued to be a dearth of friends-turned-rakhi brothers. There simply wasn’t any room for them.

And life was still fun.

Except for on those occasions when we needed a boy/man – whatever to chaperone on us to late-night parties and because there was none, we had to forego those parties for a long time. I was so desperate at one time in my teens for a brother who would quell the fears of two girls’ parents, that I ended up making some unreasonable demands on my mother: I wanted a brother, an elder brother. My mother wasn’t interested in listening to more reasonable demands either that I could have made but never did – simply of a brother.

Those were rare moments when I wished for a brother. Most of the other time we spent defying this boy-obsessed society, revelling in the fact that we didn’t need a brother/son. When my sister and I would accompany mum to those stores she’d been shopping at since she was a child, the lalaji behind the counters would look at the three of us sympathetically and ask for the umpteenth time about “no baba?” I hated those lalajis, my mom matured enough to know they were best ignored.

But every Raksha Bandhan, I look on half-dazedly at the scores of brothers and sisters celebrate this festival. And I look around too to find myself a boy who’d be worthy enough to be my rakhi brother. But I haven’t managed to convince myself yet that I need a brother. Can you?

>An announcement and an award

>The pressure to make this a relevant, celebratory, feel good post was getting too much to handle. So I just wanted to get this over with:

This is the 100th post on this blog. You can please congratulate me now.

Updated to add:

I finally have a feel good, celebratory post, thanks to Chandni, who has passed on this award to me: Thank you, thank you! *Bows and throws flying kisses in the air, in true winner style*

And my apologies for this photoshopped image of my award. But all pictures on my blog are eternally damned to look like this, thanks to one Amanda , who designed this template!

Coming back to my award – I feel no less than Abhinav Bindra today – Chandni’s also been nice enough to tell me why I’ve received this award. And lazily I quote: “The Brilliant Weblog award- a prize given to sites and blogs that are smart and brilliant both in their content and their design. The purpose of the prize is to promote as many blogs as possible in the blogosphere. Here are the rules to follow:
1. When you recieve the prize you must write a post showing it, together with the name of who has given it to you, and link them back
2. Choose a minimum of 7 blogs (or even more) that you find brilliant in their content or design.
3. Show their names and links and leave them a comment informing they were prized with ‘Brilliant Weblog’
4. Show a picture of those who awarded you and those you give the prize (optional).
5. And then we pass it on!

And the seven brilliant weblogs I award are:

1. Finn for her Life Less Ordinary

2. Det-res for being Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious

3. Piper, even though I’ve just got to know her, because there’s something about her blog’s content that’s so like me.

4. Jottingsnmusings for the way she writes.

5. RambunctiousWhippersnapper for being one of the few funny blogs I read, even though he insists his confessions are not funny!

6. Dharmabum who’s anything but a bum

7. And I give the award back to Chandni for being her.

Much work lies ahead: I have to go and deliver these awards to all these blogs. So more later.