Monthly Archives: March 2009

>55 Fiction

>She spoke to him, lips unmoving. He smiled back, with love and his eyes. It was the unspoken language they shared, always.

His wife stood there, a mute spectator to what she could see but which remained intangible, always. She chose silence too, but like the lovers’, her eyes – glaring green – gave her in.

And while we are alliterating, let me please add, this is a first for me – for fun and feedback! Be generous with your comments.

>Ek, do, teen…

>

I picked this number tag from Finn’s blog, modified it a little to add pics and would now like to tag some of my new blogger friends so that I can to get to know them a little better. They are:

1. Dewdropdream
2. Loz
3. Bones
4. Chrysalis
5. Patricia
6. How do we know
7. Mampi
8. Mumbai Diva
9. Soulmate
10. Just Call Me ‘A’

Of course, any of you who would like to tell about your life in numbers, I’m waiting to listen.

>And words are all I have…

>For somebody on the precipice of 30, I’m ashamed to say I don’t know what my calling in life is. Or perhaps I do.

I started my career when I was 22 as a lifestyle journalist. My name became a staple in the most widely-read English newspaper daily of the city. I wrote happily about social trends, celebrity interviews, off-beat events. I took dakka after dakka (the gifts that journos get at press conferences) with embarrassment and stuck a ‘Press’ sticker on my car. I spent hour after hour calling up elusive celebrities trying to get a quote for my stories and hated it. I battled writer’s blocks to meet my weekly stories-filed target. I racked my brain during ideation meetings. I clocked extra hours into work uncomplainingly.

I edited – threw out the words and phrases that offended English grammar and replaced them with my own that fit the eccentric rules of the language. I gave “catchy” headlines, played on puns, twisted and turned the words in my head to come up with headlines that met the demand of the “young” product that I was working for.

I made pages – the ones that you see ultimately see in the morning papers. Added colour here, pictures there. Visuals here, word play there. I discussed, often debated, with my editor what stories would be carried on the top fold, what would go under. What story needed to be scrapped because it couldn’t hold its own. What reporter needed to be rapped for copy-pasting from the internet. I met deadlines. I woke up in the middle of the night thinking if I had let the overflow of words from that article in the right column of the page go to print as it is. I stressed over having misspelt a word in the introduction, of putting a wrong picture caption, of not giving photo credit where it was due.

That was my job.
I earned peanuts. I got promoted. I got new enemies. I got passionate about what I was doing.

And then I left it all. Because they came in the way of me and my work. Because I wasn’t there for money and the satisfaction of a four-year old job was being snatched away by an idiot, politicking boss. Because I couldn’t wait to be 40 to be where I should have been!

I left it all to become an entrepreneur with my husband.

It’s good to be the boss, but what of my words? Where do I take them now?

I bring them here, on my blog. But without the byline that shone atop every newspaper article I wrote. I bring them here without the promise of having them read by thousands of pairs of eyes that pick up the newspaper everyday. I bring them here, but I leave behind the ones that do not find a place here.

I cringe each time a friend or family member tells me I made the wrong choice, that I belonged there. That that was where they expected me to rise. That what I am doing now may be great but it does not match up to what I was doing then. That the place I vacated is still unoccupied.

And it breaks my heart to know they may be right.

>Mother, Any Distance*

>For the hundredth time, Nani has refused to move into my parent’s home. She’s 70-something, can’t walk after her paralytic attack more than a year ago, can’t even stand up without assistance but insists on living in her own house, aided by no one except a young maid. She lives in the same city as her four much-married-and-now-grandmothers-themselves daughters but she cannot imagine leaving her house to live with any of them.

Daughter No. 1, my mom, is at home by herself most of the day, her two daughters married and with Dad at work.
Daughter No. 2, an early widow, has two very busy kids who spent the whole day at work. So she stays alone most part of the day too.
Daughter No. 3, whose mother-in-law actually welcomes Nani’s company, is in much the same position: her two kids are settled in Delhi, while her husband prefers to keep himself busy with work and friends.
Daughter No. 4, also an early widow lives with a young daughter who spends most of her day either at the University or studying at home for her Law degree. She may soon have to leave the city too for her career’s sake.

But my Nani, being an independent woman all her life, cannot now imagine being a “burden” on anyone, not even her own daughters. When she suffered a paralytic stroke, she stayed at my mum’s place for some six months during which time she went into acute depression. And it wasn’t till she moved back into her house that she began to recover and became anything like the cheerful person we know her to be.

Considering that all these five women – Nani and her daughters – have lived for years together, it’s strange how none of them are ready to leave their own house to shift in with either their mother, daughter or sisters. For all practical purposes, it’s a viable option, but no one wants to give up their space – the place they call home – even if it means leading a safer life.

Well-wishers express their concern over the situation, say how unsafe it is for a woman my Nani’s age to be living by herself. It’s not that we don’t know it but we know what they don’t – how she sustains herself on her pride and independence. And to take that away from her would mean taking away her life!

My mother goes through serious guilt pangs if she hasn’t seen Nani in two days, but with a grandson of her own now who is often left in her charge, it isn’t always easy for her to drop everything and spend the entire day with her mother. It sounds strange, considering that we live in a city where distances are not a problem, conveyance is not a problem. The only problem seems to be time. Often, Nani resents the fact that her daughters don’t have time for her, but she also refuses to make it easier for them by moving in with one of them.

Having known the mother and daughters in question for so many years, and having known them well, I am unable to put the blame on any one person. But I am intrigued at an apparently simple situation having become so complicated. Sometimes, I wonder if it’s an attachment to the home they have created, the things they have acquired over the years, the purely worldly acquisitions. Or whether it is an assertion of their independence, their reluctance to start adjusting all over again after having created their own space.

My parents live by themselves in the same city as my sister and I. And till now, they’ve managed pretty well. But when I see my aging parents, I wonder if we will come to the same crossroad too as my mother and Nani have? My mother is no less independent than her own. Will she be able to make peace with a life in one of her daughters’ homes if the need ever arises? Will I be able to leave my own home to go and live with her and will she want me to do that?

It’s never easy to let go – of the place you’ve made for yourself in this world. But I hope that when the time comes (though I hope it never does), I can do it: I can give it up to be there for my parents, either one of them.

…………………………….

This post was lying as a Draft somewhere and was resurrected after I read about Piper’s dilemma as a daughter, her concern for her parents who live so far away from her.

Dear Piper, I want you to know that being so geographically close to my parents, I still worry about them and their safety. You talk of how it’s foolish to uproot your parents from their homeland and expect them to start afresh in another country. You’re right. My mother realises it’s foolish even to expect Nani to leave her house and come live with her.

If my mother calls in distress, will I be able to make it in time to help? I don’t know. Life will not wait for me to be with them when it decides to turn the wheels of change. And sometimes the only solace is to know that God will take care of his children.

* The title is taken from a poem by Simon Armitage, Mother, Any Distance

Mother, any distance greater than a single span
Requires a second pair of hands.
You come to help me measure windows, pelmets, doors,
The acres of the walls, the prairies of the floors.

You at the zero-end, me with the spool of tape, recording
Length, reporting metres, centimetres back to base, then leaving
Up the stairs, the line still feeding out, unreeling
Years between us. Anchor. Kite.

I space-walk through the empty bedrooms, climb
The ladder to the loft, to breaking point, where something
Has to give;
Two floors below your fingertips still pinch
The last one-hundredth of an inch…I reach
Towards a hatch that opens on an endless sky
To fall or fly.

>I’ll be back

>Just to tell you that I’m alive and kicking, the latter with pain. Don’t worry, it’s nothing unusual, and I’ll be fine enough to write something meaningful soon. Till then, go here, enjoy my Holi pics and miss me!

>Unstoppable

>

One reason why I’ve been so, so tired ever since I came back from Goa is that I have been partying relentlessly ever since. Here’s a day-to-day update of how I’ve been there, done that.

We returned from Goa on Feb 25, gave ourselves time on the 26th to unpack and prepare for our next trip to Bombay.

  • February 27 was the birthday party of a friend’s one-year-old. Like all first birthdays these days, this one didn’t look like a kiddie party either. It was a cross between a kid’s party and a cocktail. So there was a magic show and a tatoo guy for the kids, and there was an elaborate bar and dinner for the elders. Since I had been involved in pre-party discussions and had even written the invitation, I was a tad disappointed with the decorations for what was supposed to be a theme party.
  • February 28 was Sam’s pre-wedding bash and was it fun! Had had a haircut that day, wore a hot purple silk dress and was already getting heady over the compliments. And then I downed 4 sambuca shots, 2 kamikazes and 1 vodka shot! That, when I’d gone to the party thinking I’d stay away from the drinks. But the barman was too cute and I couldn’t say no to him! The first six shots made me very, very happy but the last one just took me away. It was one crazy night. Came home after wrapping up the party at about 5 in the morning!
    The next day was the Haldi ceremony for Sam. A sunny Sunday afternoon affair where we played Holi with haldi. That’s how it’s meant to be in Bong weddings. Most of us had a huge hangover from last night and hid our blood-shot eyes with fancy glares. I thought this was the most fun Haldi ceremony we’d ever attended.
  • We left for Bombay the next day – all six of us – T and Api, M and KP, The Guy and me. After an uncomfortable flight, we reached Bombay with a mind to party all night. Unluckily, it was a Monday and the party scene in Bombay was pretty dead. Yet, we managed our li’l bit by first splurging at a place in Phoenix Mills called Shiro’s with very Zen-type decor and very bad food and then heading to Bade Miyan. Both of them fell short of our expectations. But that wasn’t the end of the night. We came back home to KP’s chacha’s place where our drama queens – T and M – refused to let us sleep because they had some drama lined up for the night!
  • Anyway, March 3 was Sam’s engagement and sangeet. We had checked into the five-star hotel where the wedding was being hosted in the morning. The sangeet by his family wasn’t a well-rehearsed affair but since all of them were having so much fun on stage during their impromptu stuff, that the audience couldn’t help but enjoy with them! Things winded up early there, but no one was in a hurry to leave. So we moved to the disc in the hotel where The Guy got so sloshed, he couldn’t hold himself up! Never seen M so drunk before. T and Api were way beyond happy. But I wasn’t quite there that day. The 28th party was still too recent for me!
  • March 4 was the wedding – an early baraat, followed by the wedding rituals followed by the celebrity reception. So Amitabh Bachchan turned up. So did Jackie Shroff, Dharmendra, Jeetendra, Urmila, Diana Hayden, Dia Mirza, Viveik Oberoi with daddy Suresh, Sonu Nigam, Kapil Dev, Sourav Ganguly, Zulfi Sayed, Manisha Koirala, Gul Panag… long list!
  • We returned home on March 5, stayed home on the 6th and were ready to party again by the 7th. That was the day for the wedding reception in Lucknow. It was a sombre affair, that is, till the guests left. But since The Guy and I are in a habit of wrapping up parties before going home, we headed with Trish and Soo (Sam’s bro) to his pad where he played some excellent music and had everyone – tired and exhausted – getting back on to the dance floor. Managed to be back home by 4:30!
  • March 8 was another very formal party, very not-fun that we just could not miss. Unbelievably, we got out of our house at 9:30 pm, bought flowers on the way, reached the venue, had our dinner and were back by 10:30 pm! Unbelievable!
  • March 9 was spend at a Holi bash at a club. It’s an annual feature at the club and I love it for the excellent folk songs that are sung there. Enjoyed the good music and good food, though got a little peeved off at some friends’ unfriendly behaviour there.

Of course, Holi is round the corner and we’re expecting lots more partying this week 🙂 Hold on for more colourful details.