Monthly Archives: December 2008

>The year that was 2008

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If no news is good news, I have some good news.

The last year might as well not have been. For me, that is. I haven’t moved an inch forward in my life, it seems, from where I was last year. Status quo on most fronts. And those that have changed are better not talked about – I’d rather talk about happy things or nothing at all.

I’ve lived most of 2008 in denial – of my troubles, of the future that is forcing itself upon me, of the passage of time – because I can’t change any of them. (And please spare me the advice because you don’t know the situations I’m talking about.) I’ve dithered confronting things that have the potential to get uglier without reaching a point of resolution. And so I’ve pretended they don’t exist at all, knowing very well every waking minute of my life that they do. What can be said of such a year?

A lot, actually! There’ve been moments – good and bad – and plenty of them, and they’ve been there because I was able to make peace with my state of denial. Ha! And they’ve been had because I was physically able to distance myself from the objects of trouble in my life – people, you can call them.

Here’s the Good, the Bad and the Ugly from last year (only from my life), condensed to make it readable for you:

The Most Forgettable Day of the Year: January 1, 2008
Started the year on the wrong foot – found myself at the receiving end of flared tempers. So forgettable!

The Most Depressing News of 2008: The government notification to acquire our house
I don’t want to leave, not like this and not empty-handed.

The Most Beautiful Sight of the Year: Was beheld in Gulmarg, Kashmir in June
Nothing beats it! Not now, not ever. Love the place. Will pack my bags today and head off for it if you give me the chance. Seriously, if you haven’t been to Kashmir, you’ve missed something in life.

The Most Party Hearty Time of the Year: Diwali, indeed!
We partied like there was no tomorrow, even though there was work every single morrow of the nights we partied. I simply don’t remember what the days were like the one month beginning with Navratra… All I remember are the nights spends in the company of friends and the mornings of utter embarrassment at returning home so late!

The Most Drunk Day of the Year: Holi eve
A party at a newly-wed friend’s place when I was so drunk I forgot a friend’s name and referred to him as “that guy who’s copied Aamir Khan’s hairstyle from TZP“. Five shots, (wait – was it six – don’t remember) of tequila and some horrible food later, coming home to spend an evening of puking and a morning after of terrible hangover.

The Most Outrageous Moment of the Year: Standing on a table top at a party and dancing on Jumma Chumma De De!
What was I thinking?! I mean there were people sitting there! But right there and then, I thoroughly enjoyed it!

The Most Embarrassing Moment of the Year: Falling head over heels on the dance floor
At a friend’s birthday bash. That the floor was slippery as hell didn’t help at all to hide my embarrassment. Neither did my fake laughter!

The Feel Rich Day of the Year: Dhanteras
A day before Diwali, The Guy and I headed to the jeweller’s to buy me a ring. We came home with a pair of diamond danglers, another pair of ear rings and an irresistible kundan ring! I’m high on bling.

The Glam Moment of the Year: At The Guy’s birthday party
Where I donned an off-white, beaded, knee-length empire-line dress and looked all dressed for the red carpet!

The F.R.I.E.N.D.S Moment of the Year: A lazy brunch on a winter afternoon
At KP’s place, sprawled on his terrace garden, just the five of us, so content!

The Vanity Moment of the Year: At my friend’s daughter’s birth announcement party
The theme for the party was Cinderella and T – my friend – wanted to me to write an invitation that would include the story of how she found a baby girl’s shoe at a wedding when she was pregnant. Did it and with élan! And since the entire town was invited for the party, there were plenty of people who got the chance to compliment me!

The Fattest Moment of the Year: Being congratulated because I looked so pregnant!
It was just the saree actually that made me look all puffed. Okay, so I’ve put on some weight but not so much that I’d look visibly pregnant.

The Best Dinner Place of the Year: Shikara rooftop on Dal Lake, Srinagar, under the moonlight
A cosy evening with friends – KP and his wife M – and The Guy, of course! Lovely as can be.

The Most Interesting Food Find of the Year: Wazwan
In Srinagar again and totally scrumptious!

The Value-Addition-to-the-CV Job of the Year: Teaching
Yes, I teach English prose to under-grad students too, among other things. After journo, entrepreneur, administrator and teacher, I wonder what’s next!

The Celebrity Moment of the Year: Addressing a press-con with Femina Miss India Earth Tanvi Vyas in May
See, there’s so much you didn’t know about me!

The Statement of the Year: Being told my children (the children I don’t have yet) would “grow up” because I won’t have the time to bring them up
Yes, someone said that. And it hurt. More than that it made me very, very angry. Still does.

The Culinary High Point of the Year: Whipping up Mexican and Italian food for friends
Among other things, the menu included all of this:
1. Cocktail Pizzas
2. Toastados with refried beans
3. Chicken Fajitas
4. Lasagna
5. Fusilli in white sauce

The Best Read of the Year: The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
Moved me to tears.

The Festive Highlight of the Year: Doing up my 23-feet tall Christmas tree
Holi & Diwali was just the same as it is every year, but we made Christmas memorable by doing up the tree.

The Find of the Year: My new hobby – photography
I’ve been steadily developing an interest in it the whole of 2008. Will pursue it in the next year.

The Blogger Achievement of the Year: Outdoing the number of posts I did last year Loved interacting with all of you, finding friends here and finding bloggers who are closer to me than geography makes it seem.

And on that note, I’d like to end this narcissist post.

Wish you all a very Happy New Year!

>18

>Got tagged by DeeplyDip and Just Call Me ‘A’ to do a picture tag. And since you already know how high I am on pictures these days, I won’t explain in greater detail why I was so excited to do this one.

The rules are simple enough: I have to do a google image search for the answers to all the 18 questions and pick the a picture on the first page with minimal explanation. I’d seen this tag on Piper’s blog sometime ago and I think that was so much more intriguing. So I’m skipping the “minimal explanation” as well. If pictures actually speak a thousand words, you should be able to guess the answers!
1. The age you will be in your next birthday

2. A place you’d like to travel to

3. Your Favorite place

4. Your favorite food/drink:

5. Your favorite pet

6. Your favorite colour combination

7. Your favorite piece of clothing

8. Your all time favorite song

9. Your favorite TV show

10. Full name of your significant other

11. The town in which you live

12. Your screen name/nickname13. Your first job
14. Your Dream Job
15. One Bad Habit you have

16. Your worst fear

17. The one thing you’ll like to do before you die

18. The first thing you’ll buy if you get $1,000,000

If you think this tag is interesting, go ahead and do it. I’d love to see your answers.

>PDA for Public Display of Anger

>Just when we were coming to accept one kind of PDA – Public Display of Affection – another kind of PDA has been generating heated debates across the world – it’s called Public Display of Anger. It’s the kind of PDA that gets witnessed when an Iraqi journalist hurls both his shoes at the American President in the middle of a press conference.

These are not editorial columns being written by blamed-for-being-biased journalists against errant leaders. These are also not vociferous celebrities on news channels sensationalising issues and attempting to increase channels’ TRPs. And these are not just discussions being carried out by people comfortably ensconced in their drawing room sofas. This is the common man standing up to express an emotion that’s now bordering on the trite – ‘Enough is enough’. What is not trite though is how he is choosing to express it.

In the post-26/11 India, political leaders have been at the receiving end of the public’s ire. When the Kerala CM was snubbed by Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan’s grieving father in Bangalore, it made headlines. When Narendra Modi stood before the Taj Hotel, Mumbai, and decided to politicise the issue of the terror attacks, it was the public display of anger that stopped other power-wielding politicians from doing the same. And there are no prizes for guessing why Raj Thakeray is conspicuous by his absence in this post-26/11 India! Such PDA against our leaders has been unprecedented.

So have we become more expressive as a race or just impatient with our leaders?

When Bush got the boot, quite literally, the journalist whose boot it was became a demi-hero. Let’s admit it: we loved it and laughed at it! Having given our tacit support to one such action, have we not paved the way for more people to come out in the open with their anger? And considering that one of the most powerful men in the world – the American President, no less – had to dexterously dodge the shoes of a scribe, it should come as no surprise if someone decides to pelt our leaders with an ugly puree of eggs, tomatoes and what have you at public rallies.

To be honest, just the idea seems exhilarating, doesn’t it? But there are few people who enjoy such unequivocal public sentiment as does Bush. And if public opinion is divided regarding a neta or a world leader, would PDA against him still be justified? The reactions then would not be half as funny as the Iraqi journalist’s shoe-in-the-air act evinced. Would a divisive world be able to handle this PDA just as well as it has learned to handle the other one?

>’Tis the season to give

>’Tis the season to give and so I must pass on the cheer I have been receiving. Through all these awards, that is! This one by Monika of Everyday Life is given to a blog that invests and believes in PROXIMITY – nearness in space, time and relationships! These blogs are exceedingly charming. These kind bloggers aim to find and be friends. They are not interested in prizes or self-aggrandizement. Our hope is that when the ribbons of these prizes are cut, even more friendships are propagated. Please give more attention to these writers! Deliver this award to eight bloggers who must choose eight more and include this cleverly-written text into the body of their award.

I pass this on to the friends I’ve made here
1. Chandni
2. Aneela Z
3. Abha
4. Devaki
5. Anonymous
6. Goofy Mumma, who gave this award to me before I could give it to her!
7. Narcoleptic
8. And I want to give it back to Monika!

And Goofy Mumma has honoured me with another award.

This award, I am told, is bestowed with the purpose of “acknowledging the values that every blogger shows in his/her effort to transmit cultural, ethical, literary and personal values every day.” Wow! Sounds impressive, doesn’t it?

And I shall forward it to:
1. The Lover, for being the poet that every lover should be!
2. Dharmabum, who’s been missing from blogging action and needs to now move the other kind of bum 😉

3. Kiran Manral, who is a new addition to my bloglist but whose writings instantly convey a sense of her cultural, ethical, literary and personal values
4. Mampi, who is also a recent addition to my bloglist.
5. IHM, who has opinions but isn’t opinionated.

Last but not the least is the award I get for my honesty by IHM:

And the honest bloggers who get this award from me are:

1. Sue, for being Sue even on her blog!
2. Unsung Psalm, for his posts that come straight from the heart, whether they are about his English obsession or his gay life or whatever!
3. Rambunctious Whippersnapper, for his tongue-in-cheek yet honest account of his life
4. Roop, for her frank opinions on the serious and the mundane
5. Broom Box, for the honesty required to come out of the closet

>Christmas decorations

>The first step to decorating a Christmas tree is shopping for stuff to put up on the tree. And here’s what I bought:
And here’s what they made the 23ft tall Christmas tree look like.

Here’s a picture of all those who helped me put up the lights and decorations:

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

>Lofty Plans

>This may be our last Christmas in this house. And I can’t leave without decorating this Christmas Tree that occupies pride of place in our garden. Lofty plans, I say, considering that tree is so tall, we’ll probably need a crane for someone to hang decorations on it. But I’m not going without trying!

Ideally, the tree should have been decorated by now. But what am I if not a procrastinator?

>Beg, borrow, or steal?

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My Dad and I share the kind of relationship where we can read each other’s mind, understand it and accept it without asking too many questions. We turn to each other for advice, for affirmation of our beliefs in what’s right and wrong. A few days ago he asked me a question that fit into the latter category.

Uncle V – a childhood friend of his who used to be a rich man once but has gone bankrupt for whatever reasons – was in dire need of a large amount of money. His wife is undergoing chemotherapy for breast cancer and he doesn’t have any money left now to afford that treatment. The sad bit is that he can’t get a bank loan because he has no earnings to repay it. Of course, Papa being Papa wants to help him out and not for the first time. He has already let out a large space in his office on zero rent to Uncle V so that he can pursue some commercial activity there (even though it brings in too little, it brings in something at least!) and also pays for his electricity bills. Now dad wanted to know if it was a wise thing to help him with more cash, knowing all too well that he would never get it back. It’s quite another thing that Papa had already made up his mind that he was going to lend him that money and was only asking me a perfunctory question. And that, because of two reasons: one, that he won’t always be able to help with money and two, because he doesn’t want to make Uncle V financially dependent on him or anyone else. My dad isn’t a millionaire, you know, and he works hard to earn every single penny he brings home. Isn’t it normal for anyone in his shoes to think twice before loaning fifty thousand rupees?

But of course, I said he should go ahead and help out his friend because this was a matter of life and death. But I had the same questions raging in my head: when is it okay to lend and when is it okay to refuse? And can you still call it “lending” when you know you’re never going to get it back? How much is too much when it comes to lending?

You never know when Fortune will turn its tables on a man and before you know, a king is a pauper and a pauper is a millionaire. So it should suffice for us to say that we must do our karma and help out where we can. But it doesn’t suffice, because everyone who borrows isn’t always needy. And everyone who lends isn’t always rich. You may not pause for a moment to think when a domestic help turns to you for five hundred rupees, but when there are larger amounts involved and there are closer relationships at stake, it becomes a difficult choice between ‘yes’ and ‘no’. It’s not that there isn’t a willingness to help. It’s that there’s a fear of your hard-earned money being misused that sometimes holds us back.

It’s easier to loan money to people who obviously need it, who will make an effort to return it to you. But there are people who live off lent money – habitual borrowers. They will not break their Fixed Deposits but will expect you to cut corners and lend you an unreasonable sum of money. They take advantage of the fact that by virtue of your inability to turn down a request such as this, they can extract any amount of money from you and splurge it on unimportant things. If you need the money so badly, how do you justify cocktail and luncheon parties? Is that what you’re borrowing for – so that you can put up a show before the rest of the world that everything is fine you’re your bank balance? To such borrowers, saying ‘no’ should be mandatory. They are leeches that will bleed you and you need to shrug them off before that.

But even when someone desperately requires money, how much would you be willing to lend and how many times? Would you let your financial planning go awry to help someone? Would you be happy trimming on your own expenses to accommodate a loan to somebody else? It’s a tough call to make sometimes.

And come to think of it, how can people bring themselves to borrow stuff they don’t “need”. If you can’t afford to spend lakhs of rupees on your son or daughter’s wedding, don’t. If you do not have the cash to buy a property and you do not want to pay the interest rate on a bank loan, don’t buy that property. Why must you borrow to buy what you can’t afford?

When we were in school and forgot to take something to class that we ought to have, the teachers’ favourite retort used to be, “Beg, borrow or steal.” Borrowing seemed pretty easy then, because returning a pencil, paper or map was also easy enough. But now, neither begging nor borrowing nor does stealing seem a feasible option to me. I’d much rather not have what I cannot have, as long as I have only what I must. What do you think?