Monthly Archives: February 2009

>Bombay to Goa

>Actually, Lucknow to Delhi to Bombay and then to Goa!

The Guy and I were going for a holiday without friends after 5 years, the last time being our honeymoon. So when we announced our plans to go to Goa, the perfunctory question was “With whom?” To be honest, that was also the question we asked ourselves when we started planning this holiday. But since friends couldn’t extricate themselves from their work at this time of the year, we took the plunge (or flight) with much hesitation on The Guy’s part and headed to the mecca of all holiday-goers in India not quite in the spirit of a second honeymoon as we were expected to.

Things didn’t quite begin well. We missed our flight from Delhi to Goa for no fault of ours (our train to Delhi got unnecessarily delayed) and were forced to spend the first day of our holiday whiling away the hours in the over-rated malls of Gurgaon. Thankfully, our travel agent managed to postpone our air tickets to the next day and we didn’t lose much money, though there was no way to make up for the lost time. As luck would have it, the flight decided to get late on the day we were boarding it so that we reached Goa only by evening.

Day One in Goa was spent ruing the fact that these beaches didn’t match up to the splendour of Gold Coast, but that was partially because we were at the wrong place – south Goa – for us at least. We hired a scooterette and I donned my most airy dress to find the popular Goa we had coming looking for. We found colourful houses – bright orange, purple, pink and yellow. We found multicoloured bougainvillea and we found the cool shades of palm-lined streets. But we did not find the Goa that we were looking for till next day. And then, we fell instantly in love with it!

In North Goa, there were the colourful street markets selling cheap wares, there were the picturesque and crowded beaches, the blue-green sea water and the craggy cliffs on the sides to give it character. There we found the beach shacks we had heard so much about and the multitudes who came from all over the country to make a living there: the masseuses from Karnataka who used cheap coconut oil to rub sundry parts of touristy bodies; the women from Madhya Pradesh who sold bracelets, anklets and necklaces to the easily-duped foreign tourists; the young nebulous girls who danced to the clanging of steel plates and shamed you with their brazenness; the waiters serving at the shacks who went back home to farming during the “off season”.

We also found there the sun-bathing tourists from colder places of the world ready to take off their bare minimums for that perfect tan. Inspired by them, The Guy and I also lounged under the shade of the beach umbrellas, enjoying the cool breeze at the seaside but desisting the sun with sun block, glares and hats. You would be jealous, won’t you, if I told you it was awesome to be lying on the beach in the middle of the day, allowing yourself to float back and forth in a sea of sleepiness. Well, so envy me because that’s exactly what we did – me, in my shortest, skimpiest, strappiest piece of clothing, The Guy unconcerned about what he was wearing.

And then there were the water sports! Considering that I cannot save to swim my life, which is the least you should know of swimming, I was scared stiff by the vast expanse of never-ending sea that was to be the arena for all these water sports. I managed the para sailing and the jet ski, but for the “bumpy ride” I took about two days to gather the courage. After great reassurance from the fellow steering the motor boat that pulled my “bumpy” that I would not die, I overcame my fear and held on to the boat for my dear life till I came back to the shore intact.

To watch the sun being gobbled up by the huge waves of a sea turning orange, golden and then black from a pristine daytime blue sounds only beautiful but it looks absolutely delectable! The two of us would sit by the beach, The Guy downing his Carlsbergs and Budweisers and me sipping on Long Island Iced Tea and Breezers, and watch the sun go down on the sea and savour the moment because we knew we had to be back to our monotonous routine in days.

Of course, we tried to be “good” tourists and see some of the must-visit tourist spots. That took us to St. Xaviers church in Old Goa. Unfortunately, the excited tourist in me did not feel the calm and the peace that the church should have brought me. I was awed by the beauty and fascinated by the photo-ops that they provided me. I’m ashamed to say I exploited the church to feed the vanity of the shutterbug in me. On second thoughts, I don’t think I’m so ashamed.

Coming back to the action, the clubbing would have been so much more fun with friends (actually, the whole trip would have been) but we ventured into Mambo’s on a retro night and loved that we were dancing to our childhood songs. That we were surrounded by the “chooda party”, as The Guy liked to call the newly-weds, did make us feel a tad aged, but we whatever-ed the situation and enjoyed as much as a five-year old couple can.

The surprise element of the trip has to be that I didn’t shop much. Read that again – “shop much”, this is not to say that I did not shop at all. I did – as much as I should days before heading to Bombay.

So there, now you even know where I’m heading next.

(For the pictures, check out my other blog.)


>All my bags are packed…

>… And they’re really heavy. “What’s new?” The Guy will ask in disdain, used to my stuffed suitcases on any trip I undertake. I cannot travel light, and must pack in everything that I do not really require but just may.

Like right now, my suitcase is being readied for a 4-day trip to Goa and I’ve packed about a dozen tees already. That, apart from capris and skirts and dresses and shorts. I know I don’t need them but what if my clothes get wet on the beach or I need to go clubbing in the evening? And then, you can’t wear the same shoes with shorts that you would with a dress. So I need to carry an assortment of beach footwear. And then the swimwear. And the eyewear. And some flop hats. And because it’s a holiday, there should be some sexy nightwear as well. Of course, that’s apart from the toiletries – and there are plenty of those to be carried as well. There’s hair oil to be carried just in case I need to massage my head, hair spray, serum and whatever else just in case my locks aren’t behaving themselves. There need to be moisturisers and lotions for every weather condition and two kinds of sun block – just in case one doesn’t work. There should be shampoos and soaps for both of us and both of us use different kinds of them.

The Guy, like in all matters else, is just my opposite. He will always carry one item less than is required. While I’ll be carrying a portable iron as well wherever I go, he won’t even carry an extra pair of socks!

On our honeymoon, we actually ended up washing his clothes because he wasn’t carrying enough! And on our way back from our vacation to Australia, my suitcase was so grossly overweight, I would have had to throw a few clothes away had the Customs not been kind to me!
But old habits die hard. Each time I have to pack a bag, I think I’ll be economical with the stuff I carry but can never manage it and end up packing for every impossible situation that may arise during the trip. So I carry clothes for a warm day and I carry clothes for a really cold day. I carry clothes for days with in-between weather. I carry extra clothes just in case I drop something on the ones I’m wearing, or if somebody pushes me into the pool and my clothes get wet or some such bizarre thing happens!

God forbid if I have to go for a wedding out of town. In that case, I carry formals for all kinds of “maybe” situations. What if everyone is wearing very simple clothes, what if they’re wearing very elaborate dresses, what if I feel too uncomfortable in this suit, what if I’m the only one wearing a sari… I think I’m paranoid about not carrying the right stuff and therefore end up with such heavy bags. The situation gets more complicated when I have to carry matching sandals with all my clothes – flats and high-heeled. And the make-up kit gets bloated because of sundry things I may need while getting ready. In all likelihood, I’ll never require them but what if I do and I don’t have them with me? I pack for those kind of situations.

I know, I’m weird. What about you?

>The Greatest Love of All: Self-Love

>When you’re done with sending pink chhadis and they’re done with reacting to it, we can do this: celebrate February 14 as Self-Love Day as this blogger has suggested.

Why I’m doing this is simple enough: if there’s anything I truly love, it’s myself. And I couldn’t resist the temptation to indulge in a little public display of self-love. Also, because I know there are lots of people out there who don’t love themselves enough, that I think this is such a great idea. It’s important we learn to love who we are. When we look around too much for love and approval and such stuff, we make ourselves miserable because we don’t always find what we’re looking for and where we’re looking for it.

Finn says this better than I can and though I just did a post on how much I want The Guy and me to spend a typical pink and pretty Valentine’s Day, now I think I’ll spend the day loving myself.

Here’s what I’m expected to do: I have to put down one thing that I love about myself and get you, dear blogger, to write one thing that you love about me. Easy? So here goes:

What I love about myself is my positivity. My optimism has made life so much easier for me than what it would have been. It makes me see the silver lining in the clouds and that silver lining is a lot when your sky is full of clouds. I love myself for being able to sustain that optimism even when I’m surrounded by negativity.

Now your turn. Tell me what you think is lovable about me. Also tell me, what’s lovable about you.

>Valentine’s Day (apart from the Pink Chaddis)

>How do you celebrate Valentine’s Day with a person whom you’ve spent the last 11 years with, like The Guy and I have?

We’ve shared friendship cards on Valentine’s Day when we hadn’t confessed our love for each other (perhaps, when we didn’t know we were in love).

When we definitely were in love and couldn’t hide it from each other, we went all out to make it a special day for ourselves and for each other. We did what seems like silly stuff now: waited in a long queue to have a heart-shaped pizza and get an instant picture clicked of it. Somewhere, that picture still lies with us. I would rack my brains much in advance to think what I would wear on Val Day when I met my boyfriend so that he’d think I was the most beautiful girl in the world. He would fabricate lies at home to come and meet me in Delhi. We bought each other plenty of chocolates, plenty more roses and still plenty more of cards for each other saying in verse what we couldn’t then in words. We wrapped our gifts in paper covered with a zillion red hearts. We said ‘I love you’ more times than we could count. And I don’t regret any of it – even the stuff that appears juvenile and cheap and immature now.

On our first Valentine’s after we married, I lit up our bedroom with as many candles as I could and waited for The Guy to discover me in my lacy pink things. We’d been married for two months then and I felt excited at last to be spending not just Valentine’s Day but also the night with the man I loved. He bought me a cute stuffed toy for the third time in our lives, and for the third time over I thought it was cute.

After some time we graduated to buying each other gifts that weren’t just pretty things but could actually be used. We graduated to more sophisticated eating places than a pizza joint, places where there would be candlelight and dinner and wine and just the two of us. I still took pains to dress up, not just for the dinner but also for after-dinner.

And then we grew up a little more and planned dinners together with close friends so that instead of just the two of us there would be just the four of us. Some time later, it became just the six or eight or ten of us – the more, the merrier. I hate this kind of growing up but I went with the game plan because I knew The Guy liked it like that. I knew he liked us to have fun with friends and I went along with it. Love had become a different thing for him. It wasn’t something he needed to talk of over candlelight dinners. He didn’t need to seek me out alone to express his love to me. He didn’t need to say it with gifts. He didn’t need the lace, the music, the romance on Valentine’s Day. His love had changed while I was still holding on to my old-fashioned ideas of red roses, slow dances and soft lights.

I will be celebrating this Valentine’s Day with a bunch of friends – all of whom I love a lot and have lots of fun with. But even so many years after we celebrated our first Valentine’s Day, I want to be alone with the man I love because the years haven’t changed my love. I’m still the foolish romantic who hopes her knight will come not once but always in shining armour and whisk her away to someplace beautiful. I still want him to look at me like he used to when we were younger and more visibly in love. I still want him to think that I am all he wants even though he has me.

I still think this day would be more special if it were more romantic than fun.
Did Archies Cards do this to me?

>Do you tell your name to a stranger?

>I didn’t, not for a very long time. I thought if I told my name to strangers I may get into trouble: they may stalk me, act familiar with me, use my name for things I did not want it to be used.

It started very early, way back in school. I was a teenager then, taught to ignore comments by boys wanting to “make friendship” with me. Sometimes those comments were questions, usually ‘What is your name?’ I never answered that question, never except once.

A boy my age following me on his bicycle insisted day after day he wanted to know my name. I ignored him like I had ignored others before him. But he was cute. And naughty. And if it had not been for my conditioning I may have befriended him. But it was only because he was cute and naughty that I took the liberty to reply to him, mock him rather. He pleaded me to tell him my name and I barked back at him, “Chameli!” It was the unlikeliest of names for somebody my age and the likeliest thing to stun him into silence. He never asked me my name again. Never came back to follow me.

When I was in college and used to travel in trains – usually alone, often with friends – to Delhi, I had a very unoriginal but fictional name for any stranger on the journey who wanted to know my name. I called myself ‘Preeti’ for no apparent reason. On hindsight, I do not know what I thought they would do with my name if they knew it but I never told my name.

I was almost fanatical about not disclosing my identity. At self-service cafes like Barista, I never gave in my name fearing that when they called it out, the whole café would know me by my name. I can now ask myself that if they did, what would happen, but I did not question myself then. Instead, I gave the name of whoever was with me. Later, I became slightly more daring and came up with names I would liked to have. Like Vivienne or some such fancy thing.

I don’t know when I grew out of this mindset but somewhere down the line I realised I was being very boring. I was closing myself off to a lot of people. They were strangers, yes, but how would I make new friends if I kept lying to strangers who could be my friends? Did I have to know people from somewhere, through somebody to befriend them? And I realised I could afford to be less harsh on others and more liberal with my name!

Yesterday, T and I were at a bookstore browsing through books, discussing authors, must-reads, flipping through magazines when a young boy (I say that as if I’m an old hag but he was definitely much younger!) came up to us and started chatting nonchalantly. He complimented T, told us he was Afghanistani student here on a scholarship. And then he asked me my name.

I did not pause to gave him the name by which everyone who knows me, knows me. I did not pause to cook up another name for myself. I did not pause to think, after I had spoken to him, that I had done something out of my league.

But when I came back home, I realised it was probably the first time I had told a stranger my precious name. It felt good to be finally free to be D to a stranger.