Happily Unmarried

Sunday, January 07, 2007

New Year wishlist

I wish to order a serving of single travel, garnished with a generous dose of mountains, remote valleys and a bit of interesting people and conversations. A side helping of a trip to Turkey or Bhutan would be perfect with it. That's my wishlist for 2007. Of course, last year at almost the same time had the same wishlist but two days later I surprised myself and the rest of the world by agreeing to get married. Am still surprised and wondering if we can have a recount of that particular vote?

Coming back to the present, I'm single again... well, almost. At least for a month and a half while the husband has gone to do his bit back home. The weather gods are on my side and I have been waking upto brilliant sunshine and blinding snow on the mountains. The pleasures of feeling the early morning sun (err, the sunrise in my part of the planet is around 8.30) when the thermometer reads 2 degrees is amazing. And that is the difference between living in Manali and Delhi. Give the sun with the cold with occassional of snow anyday over the endless fog and numbing chill. I have deadlines to catch up with but when the sun lasts only till 2.30, you don't want to waste any time indoors.

On a different tangent, H and I were getting nostalgic again today over mountains, our first trek, places we want to go to, places we want eachother to see, past and present relationships and our mountain madness. It is true... our infatuation with the mountains is a very personal, sacred space. The good thing is we can share it with eachother. I am living in the mountains, but the infatuation is far from worn off. She is living in the city by the sea but can rattle off more trivia about my home, the Himalayas, than anyone else I know.

A little over three years ago when I was stuck in a corporate job, a relationship that seemed to have no future and doing my getaway acts with annual treks to the Himalayas, living in the mountains was a very distant, almost impossible dream. But while I was planning other things, Life took over and here I am. And now, I have put up my dream for this year which again seems almost impossible what with work and dogs and marriage... But maybe Life will plan it out. Is Life listening?

- I

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Bring on the winter



The way to get your prayers answered is to shout them out. Atleast, always works in my case. In my last post I had complained about how just cold, packed-in weather is no good if there is no snow to compensate even. Looks like the weather gods check the blog as well and decided to answer my prayers. It snowed last night!! Yes, this morning there was a good two inches of the white stuff outside my window.

It's incredible how the features of a place get completely blanketed in a layer of white. In fact, a place, any place, looks so much prettier covered in snow. And the first snow of the season is something else all together. For about 9 months a year you get used to the shades of green-yellow that everything around you takes on. Then one fine day, those colours are not there anymore. Against the stark white, everything looks dark - pretty but dark. And even if it's about 2 degrees out in the open, even if it's raining, even if it's the same view from your balcony that you see everyday, you find yourself standing out for hours on end looking out.

Thanks to the HP electricity board, you are also forced to take a break. It's almost like Vacation has come to town and everyone is making the best of it. With snow, sleet and rain there were friends who dropped in, restaurants were packed and phone calls going back and forth fixing up rendezvous. Like everybody needed an excuse to start socialising. Of course, most of these were not the locals who have centuries of experience of the Himalayan winter but the immigrants - people like me who are from the plains or some distant country - who have made the Himalayas our home.

Winter in the mountains, especially the coming of snow reminds us of why we are here. Why we are not in Bangalore or Delhi or Germany or UK, going to regular 9-5 jobs and fighting the traffic. Why we chose to give up living in our homes with families, well-paying jobs, meeting our friends regularly, going to multiplexes and malls and chose to make do with momos at Chopsticks or pizza at Manalsu or renting pirated DVDs in Manali. It's an affirmation of our choices and we want to celebrate. What better reason than the first snow of the season then? Think I have eulogised enough. Will let the image do the talking now...

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Wishing for a white christmas

It's all packed in, cloudy, rainy and cold as hell. What is the ppint of weather like this if it doesn't even snow as compensation? Someone should have a word with the Elements and tell them how to do their job.

There are days when it's all clear. I can almost see Rohtang Pass behind my house and down the valley for nearly 30 km from my balcony. The temperature in shade is about 7 degrees but out in the sun you feel like God's chosen one. Snow and mountains against a deep, deep blue sky and the sun warming you up. Purrfect.

When I tried to tell this to H, her reaction was that I sound like a Londoner! But seriously, I have found a new respect for the sun. When I wake up to a sunny morning, I could almost do a sajda to the gods above. I guess this new-found love comes from having lived for the last month in temperatures below 10, sometimes bordering 0 or below. I see frost on the grass and on the straw and twig fences around the apple orchards here. The water in the pipes are frozen in the mornings and if I am not careful when I walk, I could be doing some unintentional-ballet over a frozen bit of water. Knowing my balancing skills however, my neighbours are in no danger of seeing that particular skill of mine. I would have fallen down long before the b of ballet.

But for all my infatuation with nature right now, I have a question - Where is the frigging snow??!! Each time, it snows it stops about 200 mts above my house like there is an invisible barrier that turns all snow to rain below that mark. If anyone from the Elements fraternity is reading this, make not that my infatuation is in danger of wearing out if I don't see some of that white stuff outside my window soon.

Have been trying to catch up with work, but weather like today's is made to snuggle in a razai in front of the heater and read fantasy books. Work is an effor in the best of weathers, but weathers like this only inspires me to get nostalgic, to ponder the ifs and make plans for a sunny day which is hopefully tomorrow... In the meantime if it snows, of course, all else gets postponed for the celebrations.

- I

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Side-effects of getting un-unmarried

Just watched a totally time-pass flick called Pyaar Ke Side Effects. The only reason I picked it up was because I was curious to see how Rahul Bose and Mallika Sherawat would face off. Anyone making a face at Ms Sherawat’s name, believe me, I have never watched that babe either act or talk all this while. I had only caught some trailers of her movies on TV and by all accounts I hadn’t missed much. You know they say, “Expect the worst and you will be pleasantly surprised” and I was. MS is no Susan Sarandon or Hilary Swank, but with the right people behind the camera, she is very un-Mallika-ish, if you know what I mean.

In anycase, this is not a review of the movie or MS. But a takeoff on something that Rahul Bose does through out the movie – listing side effects of pyaar, engagement, break-up etc. I am past the pyaar, engagement, break-up, rebound affairs, rebound on rebound affairs, the big ‘if’ on marriage and the D-day stages. But after the movie I have caught myself listing out side effects of marriage quite a few times and the one way to get it out of my system is to list them out. So here goes:

Side effect 1 – ‘Mummy’ and ‘Papa’
I had my Amma and Daddy at home. And then I got married. Immediately, my in-laws weren’t ‘uncle’ and ‘aunty’ any more like I had always known them. They had to be ‘Mummy’ and ‘Papa’. What’s the funda? That by calling them ‘Mummy’ and ‘Papa’, I would replace my parents with them? Or they would be added to my idea of parents? I never did get it and always think it’s so shallow and artificial to call them that when I don’t know them better than my next-door neighbour.

Side effect 2 – The way to a man’s heart blah blah
Maybe I should give a disclaimer to anyone considering marrying a gujju. Roll up your sleeves and start kneading that dough. Every gujju aunty worth her thepla will tell you or ask you if you know to make phulkas, bakris, khandvis and all other weird types and shapes of roti. Mother-in-laws might be especially concerned that their sons will be made to eat positively un-gujju food like, heaven forbid, sambhar and rice on two consecutive days. If you are really lucky, you will get special cooking classes in gujju food as well! I see that the line of women waiting to marry gujju boys has just doubled!

Side effect 3 – Khem cho, su che and Induben
Yes, I am not Indu Prasad anymore. I am Induben. Sigh. And what travesty! I am a Gujju bahu who doesn’t know the language! I have been given a year to start conversing in Gujju and by my linguistic standards I have, I think the two phrases above are as far as I will get. Looks like I will be limited to finding out how people are and what the matter is all my life.

Side effect 4 – All those little tiny ‘quirks’ become causes of major blow-ups
I have had to make coffee for you for four consecutive days! Why the hell can’t you manage to cook one whole meal on your own without calling ‘KD’! I have become a housewife after marriage, I mean, sure, I live in the mountains, but I am still a housewife! Why do I have to make dry, oil-free, super-healthy phulkas instead of regular chapattis! Why can’t you be more organized and less scared of the dark! And on and on and on and on and on and on…

Side effect 5 – Live-in partners or ‘family’
Both of us have done the live-in scene. We got along well and decided we could live amicably enough. But post-marriage, I am just confused. Are we still friends / lovers who are living in or are we ‘family’, ‘till death do us part’, ‘through thick, thin and everything in between’. Mostly, it just depends on the stage of fight we are in. Like how T used to say that all there is to life is to be PMS (Pre-MS), MS and PMS (Post-MS), the only stages in a marriage are Pre-fight, fight and Post-fight. We are always either preparing for the next big fight or recovering from one. And before you say that’s a lousy life, believe me, there is nothing more cathartic than blaming your marriage for the job you won’t get 15 years from now.

I guess I could go on… but will stop for now and add on more as and when I need to vent.

Lost in Transit

I love airports. And planes. And hotels. I don't know what exactly it is - the act of going away, the feeling of being in transit, the exhilaration of being some place else, the relief of anonymity, the impersonal, sterilized comforts that one finds on flights and in hotels, the practiced warmth and courtesy of airline and hotel staff, the freebies and amenity kits - I love all of that.

So much so, that secretly, I even love the dull and frequently annoying stuff like check-ins and security checks and boarding queues. I love aimlessly flipping through magazines, drinking synthetic coffee and occasionally staring at TV monitors in transit lounges. I love watching people on their way somewhere. I love wondering about their reason for travel. I love striking up (at times inane) conversations with strangers. At times, I even love delays; you probably need to be a very twisted sort of person to love that, but I love losing myself longer than necessary in a sea of faces, tote bags, strolleys and rows of blue chairs while I read or ponder and wait for my boarding call. I love being inaccessible to the world for a few hours, when people back at work or at home are wondering why I havenít reached. Surprisingly, I don't like being on those coaches they use to ferry passengers to the aircraft. I much prefer aerobridges. I love the smell of the air freshener inside aircrafts. I love the routine of settling down in my cramped economy class seat. I love reading glossy travel articles in-flight magazines. And horror of horrors, I love waiting for the crew to start serving the food, no matter how unappetizing. I love the way the drab food is neatly laid out in sterile plastic trays. I love looking out of the window and wondering when Iíll travel next. I love cruising at 30,000 feet above sea level; just a wee bit higher than Mount Everest.

I love the bitter-sweet, near tangible nostalgia that grips me on a flight, reminding me of a time when travelling and being in love felt synonymous. Reminding me of meetings and farewells, hugs and heartbreaks in hotels and airports. Reminding me of times when we traveled together and held hands through turbulence and take offs, but went our separate ways after touch down.

- H

Thursday, September 07, 2006

One foot in a time warp, one in the present

This post is for you, Girish T.

Yesterday, while chatting with H, she said something that hit me. That I might be married, but at heart, I will always be a Quirky Alone. Thanks for the vote of confidence, H. While I keep arguing with the husband or anyone else, that I can't help thinking like a single, because just marriage can't have changed me, there are moments of doubt when I think, "Well, I am at home mostly... working, but still at home. For the last month or so, I have been puppy sitting and holding fort while the husband has to go out with groups. I cancelled a holiday in Ladakh because I couldn't find anyone to take over the puppy sitting. I have long, meaningful, heart-to-heart conversations with the pups. I cook a lot more dishes now than before, my phulkas even blow up like a professional's. I play hostess to vague people who drop in with the husband. And my social circle is limited to three humans, 1 dog and 7 pups... Those are classic signs of a 'loser' housewife than any."

I keep trying to break the mould by chatting with whoever I can pin down on msger, going out for long chai-and-momo sessions with two other people I know here, by locking up my mangalsutra in the cupboard and by dumping the pups and cooking on the husband when he is at home for a day or two. Sometimes, I think I am losing it. Other times, when I hear of the politics at play in my old job or any other place, I am glad I am away from all that. Mostly, I love to sit on my balcony and gaze at the valley. Early snows have started on the higher ridges, it's getting colder every day, the stream that flows next to the house is as noisy as ever. It's the perfect time of the year... only I wish H was here to see all this. You know, H, I can't really gush about all these the way I can with you. Last night, it was almost full moon and it was a clear night and I could see all the way to the Solang ridge at the head of the valley. You remember that one?

Sometimes, I just drift back to a couple of years. I was just back from the first time in the mountains and I was on a high. H had just moved to the city by the sea, T was still around, so were A and the man who is now the husband. There were endless evenings over coffee in Java City and weekend movies. It was fun and I miss doing those things, but I mostly miss the time we managed to spend with the gang. And no, G, you are wrong in wondering if they were just 'time spent'. They were good times to most of us and remember what they say, there really is nothing like a long evening with old friends. New friends are fun, yes. H has her set, you have yours and I have mine, but that's what they are - new friends. They will be others later, I am sure. And each set of friends become part of a time warp, a different one for different sets.

I miss the old times, I also like my present. Is there any way to merge the two? I might not take the time out to call so often, but then that's what old friends are for, especially the ones who saw your single days' madness. You can pick up where you left off. And no, G, you haven't "disconnected". Of the gang, you are the only one still there while the rest of us have gone away, at least physically. And I don't need to tell either H or you, G, that we still have lots of chats to catch up on. Winter would be ideal to do that here, so think about it. If not, I will make it to the city on the plateau or the city by the sea at some point and we will do it there.

Add your bit, H.

I

Thursday, March 09, 2006

The True Story

First there were Us - single, footloose, fancyfree, having loads of fun. Then there were Them - married, not-so-footloose, not-so-fancyfree, having fun but not loads. One fine day, Them happened to see Us. They noticed that Us were having fun... perhaps, too much fun. They didn't like it at all.

"It's not fair" they thought, "that we have to worry about parents and in-laws and kids and making ends meet for all of them, about infrastructure and statistics and logistics and maths homeworks." They tried to get in touch with their Buddhahoods, to be generous and let Us have fun while they went about with their sleep-deprived lives.

As the God of Irony would have it, at that particular time in evolution, the Buddhahoods were all away at an International Conference of Buddhahoods (Entry free. All are welcome!) in Burkina Faso and weren't available to give solace to Them when they needed it.

So the Buddhahood-deprived Them had no choice but to give in to their temptations and spoil the party for Us. So they got together and came up with a Gameplan.

Step 1: Introduction and Temptation
As the kickoff of their Gameplan, Them started hanging around with the unsuspecting Us. There was a lot of fun hanging around and chatting. In between, were tantalising tit-bits about life as Them - devoted husbands, adorable kids, loving in-laws, promise of a never-ending party with a great gang thrown in. Sure it was all that, only they exaggerated the picture by about 300%.

Of course, unsuspecting as they were, Us bought the story. Life was already a party for them, but what Them promised seemed like a Bigger Party.

Step 2: The Crossover of the Us
The more daring of Us were the first ones to take the plunge. There were grand weddings and lots of plans for the Bigger Party to come. Then they discovered the truth, the whole dark scheme behind Them's plan. But once the Crossover happens, the membership into Them was automatic and there was little they could do.

It only took a few years for them to be transformed into Them. Once converted, they took over the implementation of the Gameplan. Soon Us were dwindling rapidly. There was almost an exodus to Crossover and be part of the Bigger Party. There were Us scrambling for halls, saris, wedding menus and jewellery. Everyone was in a hurry not to be left behind.

Meanwhile the Them were secretly congratulating themselves. "Ha ha" they thought, "Not long now. We will soon have spread the virus so that the newer members won't take long to take on the mantle and bring in more members. There won't be many Us left and there won't be so much real fun going around." And whenever guilt struck, they justified it with, "Afterall, misery loves company."

And now... On the Them Planet, these are sunny days. They are happy in their multitude while efforts to bring in more members go on. They gang up and share stories of infrastructure and statistics and logistics and maths homeworks. And they continue to live not-so-happily everafter.

On the Us planet, most of them are gone. It is getting less footloose, less fancyfree and a lot less fun. The few that are left are under great pressure to give into the temptations promised by Them. The force of the Gameplan constantly threatens to suck them onto the Them planet. How long can they hold out?

- I (A recent member of Them, wanting to record the true story before the amnesia-inducing life as Them erases it from my brains)
PS: Tangent? Story? Whatever... it's my reaction to another one taking the marriage bait. Yes, Aruna Raman is going to be hitched soon. Welcome soon to the Them planet, Aruna.

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Update 2 from the Them planet

Happy Womens Day, whatever... The only thing that I am enjoying today is the free lunch that our boss is treating the women to and an assortment of gifts - candles, chocolates etc - that some men have taken the trouble to get for us.

Married life has developed a routine of its own. A juggling act of sorts, the one thing that suffers is my sleep. And not to mention the cheesy dialogues I get when I complain that I am sleepy. "Didn't Jiju let you sleep last night?" (accompanied by batting eyelids) "Hota hai, hota hai... all part of newly married life" (topped with a smirk) . Is there any point explaining that playing daughter-in-law, sister-in-law, wife, daughter and employee requires approximately 40 hour days, not 24?

Then there is the initiation rite - long, detailed cooking lessons on making phulkas, theplas, Gujju dal, etc. They are fun, but I only wish I didn't get these lessons at 6 in the morning when I am comatose.

Sleep becomes highly coveted. The half an hour more you can sneak in when you are making rice is priceless. And... I sound like a total cow. Mooooooooooooooooo. Maybe the Them planet is slowly seeping into my bloodstream. And before you know it, I will be matchmaking for my single friends and telling you the fastest way to make upma in the mornings. Good heavens! Anyone out there who wants to take a supari to get me??

- I

Monday, February 27, 2006

News from the Them Planet: Mooooo

Glossary:
Us - the unmarried, the footloose and fancyfree, the ones who swear not to have circuses for weddings, complete with morphed photographs and red thrones for the reception

Them - the married, the ones who have had circuses for weddings, complete with morphed photographs and red thrones for the reception and are now dying to get their revenge against the unsuspecting

A long time ago, I used to be Us. For the last 10 days, though it seems like 10 months, everyone has been telling me I am Them now. Ignore the fact that you feel like Us now, they say. You are a married woman now, they say. And some inexplicable reason I am staying at someone else's house when "my home" is not 10 minutes away.

Reminds me of what someone had once told me: Get married when you are 22, when you are still idealistic and not too set and comfortable in your world and ready to put in the effort in a marriage. I am 5 years late and rooted in my world like a banyan tree. So whether it's calling the man's parents with more intimate terms than uncle and aunty, living in a different house, playing the wife and bahu, having a half-the-city-invited wedding or dressing up like a cross between christmas tree, flower pot and jewellery store, my first reaction to everything has been "No!" and then a defensive "Why?" and finally a tired "Ok, whatever."

I did all that, red thrones and Kanjeevaram saris included, but not without a fight. And now that it is all over, makes me wonder why I spent so much energy fighting everything that happened in any case. Because, frankly - and this has been vouched for by all my Them friends - a wedding is rarely for the bride and groom. It's for the parents, the relatives... everyone who will tell you how things should be done.

I'm not sure about shoulds and shouldn'ts... but I strongly suspect, all that they make you do in the name of a wedding is Them getting their revenge for what they were made to do. They put you on a swing and call it a ritual... they make your parents give you away like a piece of furniture and call it a ritual... they make you wear a noose and a toe-cuff, make you a cow and tell you how that's tradition. Maybe inwardly, they are telling themselves, "Ha ha, congrats on getting our revenge on another of Us."

But it's not all bad. Sex is legitimate. And you have another person whom you can rightfully bully or crib to and expect to be heard. And... 10 days into a marriage and terribly home-and-old-life-sick, can't really think of more perks. But there will be more updates from my new planet, the Them. And H... stay as my reference point in Us. I will need it for sometime to come yet.

- I

Monday, January 23, 2006

Not Happily-unmarried for long...

If it weren't for marriage, men and women would have to fight with total strangers - Dave Barry

While I am quite accomodative with strangers, I draw my line at fighting with them. And that's why I have decided... well, almost, unless I decide to run away in the next 15 days... to cross over. Yes, I will not be happily-unmarried for long now. I am playing spoilsport to the single spirit and leaving H as the lone ranger of the singlehood cause.

So, this is a farewell message of sorts. I contemplated if just the act of marrying qualifies to feel un-single. Coz frankly, while I am in the middle of the biggest circus in Bangalore, I still FEEL very much single. Am I supposed to feel different? I mean, I will continue to do my own thing - hang out with friends, go gallavanting around the Himalayas on my own, crib about men, job and such... So where does being single end and being married begin? Are just the act of marriage and a free pass to legitimate sex enough for you to mutate into the "those creatures, the married ones"?

What is really giving me the kicks right now is seeing mom go through Bangalore like a whirlwind. And she is planning to invite Bangalore, Mysore and for good measure Chennai as well. I guess after I have made her wait for 27 years to play 'bride's mom' she is entitled to go a wee bit berserk, that being the understatement of the millennium.

But wait a minute, I am still wondering how I ended up with a huge, jing bang wedding! I was going to have a simple wedding with just the family in an obscure little temple. I was not going to spend good money on one day of my life. I wasn't going to expand my wardrobe just because I was going from being Miss to Mrs... Or so I thought. But before I had confirmed on the M of marriage, jing bang and their neighbour had happened. And here I am contemplating grinning at 500 odd people, playing the good 'bahu'.

Brings me to my next big question - how did I end up being a gujju bahu, something I had developed an aversion to after years of Kyunki and Kahaani updates. After I had told myself I wouldn't want to have anything to do with a state that's ruled by a fanatic (Narendra frigging Modi, if you are still guessing). And now gujju bahu is no longer just tulsi... it's going to be ME!!! Goodbye Indu Prasad, Welcome Indu Ben. And if one more person says, "Kem cho, maja ma?" I will be convicted of brutal murder.

Oh, and the other questions that you should be wary of asking me right now (take into consideration that I am averaging about 5 hours of sleep and 40 hours of frantic dashing around Bangalore on a daily basis AND that the traffic is reeeaaallly bad here):

- So, do you know to cook? (What do they mean??!! That because I am getting married, I have to be a certified chef?? Or that the man is incapable of foraging for food to stay alive without his food-goddess wife?? Does anyone EVER ask the guy that??!!)

- So, what are you going to change your name to - Indu Kaushal or Indu Desai? (Hello! I said I am getting married. I didn't say I was undergoing a personality and identity change. I am Indu Prasad, with my whims, tantrums and fancy notions. Those are not changing anytime soon and so isn't my name. In anycase, why doesn't anyone ask K if he is changing his name to Kaushal Prasad aka Sanjay Leela Bhansali. Ok, that is mom, but wife's name should also be good enough)

- So, what does your "fiancee" / "would-be" do? (Err, last I heard, he had a name. Also, what's a would-be?? If we have decided to get married, shouldn't it be will-be?? Or do we still have doubts?)

- So, will the wedding be in "our style" or "their style"? (Wrong person, wrong question. My rituals IQ is somewhere in the negative. So, my knowledge ends at knowing that I am getting married. Definitely doesn't extend to "style" questions)

Last word - I am looking for someone who will stand proxy and take my place on Feb 16, the W-day. I am guessing that by then I will be in coma from lack of sleep and won't be a nice gujju bahu at all. So, willing candidates, please submit your applications here.

PS - And no, DON'T bother telling me how I missed the big day by 2 days... As far as I am concerned the Valentine's season with its pink hearts and corny love-song albums should be banned.

- I

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Year-end news

Year-end seems to be inspiring at least two people to make some significant changes to their lives. There's Shailu who will be mommy in a few months. It's a long-over due dream come true for someone who has been wanting a kid since the 3rd month of her marriage. 4 and a half years has been long wait... but it has finally happened. And like all things really craved for, it has happened just when she had given up hope.

Then there's Abe - mad guy, artist, design genius, sometimes-snob. The best designer I have ever worked with... At 31, his mom has finally managed to convince him that arranged marriage is not a bad option for someone whose social circle is limited to his church choir and TJ. (Yes, Umsy, TJ is still single and yummy as ever. Get back to Bangalore fast and you still might have a chance at an extra-marital fling with him)

H has inherited DK's Creative Zen Micro which might be the best distraction for her. Especially since she is attempting to quit smoking for the last 9 days. Everything possible has been done to make sure she sticks to her resolution - other than a 5 k bet, Hams has also promised to introduce her to Abhishek Bachchan if she doesn't smoke for a month (!!!!!!!!!!). If H can give up smoking to be able to meet Abhishek, I will give up eating!!!!! Hams, are you reading this??

For me though, nothing seems to be very new abt the new year. 'Happy burrday' is coming up and I have a wishlist rivalling that of H's... none of which seems even remotely possible. But what's a wishlist if it's not wishful? Will have that up in a couple of days and all you generous souls can show me how much you love me by gifting me those.

- I

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Nomenclature-ly Challenged

What are people thinking when they name their kids? I mean, what's with names like Venkatachalapathy and Koteshwaran? Is it because they want to show neighbours and relatives they have come up with a name no one has heard of? Is it because they want their kids to have a complex for the rest of their lives? Do they plain hate their kids?

This particular tangent is because I just spoke to a friend from Manali. A common friend has just had a son and named him Yagyasen! I think that kid will first kill them and kill himself when he is 13. May his soul rest in peace...

I mean, I am the wrong person to speak about bad names. Like all good Tam Brahm girls, I have a name that everyone knows me by and I have a name that I want to bury 30 ft under and not let anyone know about. My grandmother must have had a quirky sense of humour. She decided to name me Godha and Aandal as my two alternative names.

Why couldnt it be Seethalakshmi or Subbalakshmi like how Umsy and Seetal had? Why Godha and Aandal? It screams my Tam Bramh roots from across the solar system. Don't get me wrong. I don't have a problem with my roots at all. I enjoy my pongal and puliyogare as much as the next good Iyengar girl. But there are better names even among self-obsessed Iyengars. I would have been happy with any of those...

Thank god I had company in Chinu and Tanu. Their alternate names were Chandramukhi and Chandralekha! Add Hattangady to those names and neither of their names would fit on regular forms - college, banks, credit cards included.

H knows a 'quite-a-BHMB' teenager called Hoysala Garudanagiri. She doesn't seem to find anything funny in it. I thought it was funny enough to be my MSN nick for a few days. Poor kid, imagine a cool dude 16-year-old being called Hoysala Garudanagiri!

Umsy knew of two sisters called Premachandra Nesakumari and Vimalachandra Rajakumari. I swear I swear I swear!

And I know someone who is called Kaliya Mardhanan. Unfortunately he also handles the accounts for our department and communication with him is inevitable. I have to really try hard to behave myself and not say, "Tera kya hoga, Kaliya?"

If all that wasn't enough, H decided to rechristen me "Wiggy Ye Wang Mangalakumari S Vanmanthai Premachandra Nesakumari Vimalachandra Rajakumari Squealy Prasad" two weeks ago. Made me wonder why I need enemies at all. H makes up for it once in a while with such inspired additions to my life...

- I (WYWMSVPNVRSP)

My life goes mmmm... zzzzzzzz

Mundane life goes on. It's been a completely boring rigmarole of coming in to office, battling egos and grand plans, freezing on the way back home with intermittent drinking and watching movies. The only noteworthy day was Saturday when we had the office annual party.

People actually turned up in the prescribed dress code - red! Drinking, dancing, food and gossip happened - in that order. But this year's party was no fun. There was no DK, there was no H, there were none of the entertaining people because on paper they are in a different company, so "sadly couldn't be invited" as our HR person explained. But I discovered that one of the new kids in my team is almost sort of like us - likes Abhishek Bachchan, drinks rum, dances only when very drunk... so we hung out together and bitched about the seedy guys in office.

It's been back to normal life and mundane existence routine since then... ZZZZZZZZZZ

- I
PS: Birthday and new year coming up. So I have been wondering if I should make a resolution to quit drinking. Or should I keep such resolutions for a later birthday?

Monday, December 19, 2005

Ohw rae ew? (How are we?)

Deyboad Kyslexia, noun: A keyboard-related disorder marked by impairment of the ability to structure spellings correctly while typing.

Symptoms generally include: Typing fast with inaccurate spellings, numerous attempts at correcting them and getting them wrong every time.

That's what H and I suffer from. In our dictionary, teh is the and so is the... no, the... GRRR, hte. hte is also the! There, got ti (it) right finally.

Obviously, the thumb rule for deyboard kyslexia is that when you are trying to get it wrong, you always get it right!

While some of the kyslexic spellings / phrases are limited to typing on the comp, there are others that have become a part of our everydat (yes, that's everyday) vocabulary. So some of us have hubsands and I wear a hemlet while riding my bike. Our names become Inud or Heam. And we tell the ricksahw (rickshaw) guy to go sraight (t is missing). Vaat we say is always wokay, of course!

There are also phrases that we have copyrighted and use as if that's the right way of saying things. Chinu was dark of the scared. Tanu often went to bike the park. In college, we have often classed the bunks. Of course, we show our empathy with "I secho your entiments". Some of them are howlarious, really!

When we regress to baby-talking, there is a P equivalent to all our na,es (names). Chintu-pintu, tanti-panti, hema-pema, indu-pindu... Quite simple.

When the three of us used to get into a rickshaw or car, it was statutory to ask "We all fat?" No, not fat fat, but fit-fat. Like sit-sat. Gotted, sented, camed... all goes. So dies (does, does, does) tuppid, idiota, dementor and gube.

Some people might call this just bad spelling, but we figure it sounds better to say that we suffer from Deyboard Kyslexia (Keyboard Dyslexia, if you still haven't figured it).

H's contribution to this post: liek, ahve, smae, maek, tehn, sometiem, oethrwise, taht, thign, forjot, niec and anything that ends with mnet (ment) like entertainmnet.

- U (I)

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Of birthdays, babies, beaches and Big

I finished turning 27. And this year, I did it in style, in Goa. Radically different from last year, when I spent three quarters of the day in bed, with unbrushed teeth, crying, sorely missing home, missing Big (who had smsed, not called and not showed up) and eating just one takeaway meal – oily lasagna from Candies late in the evening, and rounding it off with Ocean's 12 with Kavneet (who shares my b'day) at Fame Adlabs, where she slept though the movie after a long day at work.

R called me a loser for heading to Goa at the first given chance. It’s a Bombay, yuppie thing, she said. And considering it was my second trip in just over a month, I have to confess that’s not wholly untrue. The place is addictive. Though food is a bit of a bummer for a steadfast vegetarian like me, there are enough indulgences to get decadent. And if the debauchery is getting out of hand, there is always the sea and the sunset to bring on introspection.

I am beginning to think I have Wailing Child Karma on flights. After a mad dash to the airport from work, just after I sat down to breathe and thank god that I hadn’t missed the flight, it arrived with its hapless looking parents. I mean, in a Goa borne A320 generously and surprisingly strewn with good looking men, why should I have been the one sitting next to Shrieking Child and its parents? (But like I encouragingly says, someday, I will have three wailing kids in my lap and there will be a hunk in the next seat. She goes on to add that Murphy’s Laws is our Bible.) I briefly considered changing seats but didn’t. And regretted it for the rest of the flight. It started with some playful gurgling before take off and soon, it proceeded to full-throated, robust screeching while the sheepish parents tried several amusing distractions.

Ironically, in a desperate attempt to tune off, I tried burying myself in the inflight magazine (Gladrags – since I was flying GoAir). And what should I come across but an article where the writer (a single woman) talks about how single people don’t really have such cool lives and they pretend to live it up only to validate the hype and mystique that surrounds our imaginary footloose and fancy free existence. And then she goes on to conclude that at heart, most single people are just bored and lonely and dying to get on to the couplehood boat. Though amusing in parts, with Shrieking Child getting progressive louder, the article seemed like a big annoying joke. Here I am, single, off to Goa for my birthday weekend, and this woman wants me to believe that I have a sorry existence while the prototype married couple next to me lives in La La Land. Yeah, sure.

Don’t get me wrong, god knows how badly I want to have a child, but I think, this whole – single vs. married people thing is getting a little out of hand, thanks to obsessive Americanism, now passed on to us Indians living in the metros. I’ve been part of a couple for a large part of my life and now I’m unattached; and I can say with some certainty that it’s like apples and oranges. Apples are a bit like being in a relationship; nourishing, wholesome, mellow and fulfilling. And oranges are somewhat like being single – tangy, nutritious in a fun way, made up of many little parts, and a little strange to look at from the inside. But they both have their seeds. And when rotten, god knows they both taste rotten. Rotten in different ways perhaps, but rotten all the same.

Anyhow, the flight was painful and despite telling myself repeatedly that someday, I too will have a child I’d have to travel with, I came up with various suggestions to airlines and to couples - have a special couples-with-kids section (better still, a couple-with-kids special flight – but the noise decibels will interfere with the signals, I’m afraid), sedate kids before a flight, feed them nonstop, warp them in a soundproof bag, not go on vacations at all…

This time around, I visited Mads, who’s on a sabbatical and is spending three weeks in Goa. Though I had just about two and a quarter days, it was so, so worth it.

Dinner at an arty café and socialising with two of Mads’ newfound friends (quintessential Goan men called Gary and Cagi, who sing, paint or do nothing in particular for a living), scouting for Continental restaurants so that I can eat my veg food, eating copious amount of pasta in white sauce with mushrooms, getting a body massage on the beach from a 16-year-old, worldly-wise girl Kannadiga called Anita, lunch and wine at Britto’s, sleeping through the sunset, authentic Italian dinner at Little Italy, listening to bad live music while getting an incredible head and shoulder massage from a guy called Daya at a place called Jazz Club, downing a Bloody Mary at a shack called Flying Dolhin (or was it White Dolphin?) while ushering in my birthday, breakfast and birthday phone calls at Infantaria, buying junk jewelry off the road in Calangute, shopping at Happily Unmarried (and quickly proceeding to have a crush on Rahul, the owner), getting my hair braided by Anita, more bad pasta at a shack, watching men play football against a glorious sunset on Calangute, dressing up for a fancy birthday dinner at a lovely, lovely al fresco Italian place called Fiesta, watching stars and fireworks on Baga, Irish coffee at Flying or White Dolphin and finally, waking up at 4.30 in the morning to catch a flight at 7.

And of course, endless conversations with Mads about love, life, universe, men, Mr. Big, Max, marriage, work and everything in between. This must have been the best birthday present I could have given myself.

Monday, it was back to work, almost straight from the airport. And the evening was, well, eventful. J was in town and we made dinner plans which never quite materialised. Instead, he came over and we talked till we could and then progressed to some very nice non-verbal communication and rounded it off with some serious hash. Someone should have warned me about hash though. I had no idea it can put five large whiskies AND grass to shame. Among various other hallucinations, I remember feeling like I was in an animated movie (set in the Sahara perhaps, because the thirst was killing me. And there was no water at home).

A little part of my brain fought very hard to stay sane and if it is to be believed, I didn’t say or do too many strange things. J left for the airport in the morning, leaving behind somewhat of a void. I’d forgotten how nice it felt just to be with him. Warm, comforting, easy. But then, like I told him, all relationships seem like milk and honey in retrospect, and you tend to forget all the incompatibility, ugly fights and ensuing tears. I miss him and sometimes wonder whether I did the right thing by letting him go. But in the light of day, it all seems clear enough; this time around, I have to learn to be with myself before I can be with someone.

Tuesday passed in a hungover haze and the evening brought a spectacular headache while I tried my best to have a good time with Meera at Candies and then at Out of the Blue over chamomile tea. And yesterday, I got talking with someone who so reminds me of Big, in so many ways. Especially the early days, when we furiously poured out our lives in front of each other, with 900 odd kilometers between us. It’s another mountain connection and so much of the conversation is deja vu. But then, may be not. Like Ikroop said last evening, there’s place for just one Big in every girl’s life. I have mine. And I don’t need another.

- H

Monday, December 12, 2005

Accio Magic

I want a Pensieve.
For the Potter-illiterate, it's the basin in which Dumbledore saves his memories and thoughts that he wants to relook at later. A damn handy device, I guess, when there are too many things running in your head and you are not able to concentrate on any. Sure, I am not Dumbledore or Harry with worries of defeating Voldemort. But I could still use a Pensieve.

I want a Remembrall.
And not just a Remembrall that glows red to remind me what I have forgotten, but one like a Howler that vehemently keeps reminding me till whatever it is, is done.

I want a Broomstick / couldron / wand.
What's a witch without the paraphernalia. I should be able to fly, cast spells, brew mean potions, date Fred and George, maybe even Harry... I want to be a witch with the right tools. A Firebolt, a Phoenix feather or a Unicorn tail hair wand and a thick-bottomed couldron... Maybe even a nice dress robe from Madame Malkins. That would be just fine.

I want an owl.
A pure white owl which I will name Gube. When I can finally not afford to pay my phone bills - which will be in 3 days time - I will use Gube to send messages to and receive gifts from all relevant others.

I want an Invisibility Cloak.
I want to be there, hear everything, see everything but not be seen. I would especially use it on the days when I want to be far away from wherever I am, on the days when I am feeling totally unsocial. Just a swish of the cloak, I am gone!

I want the Marauder's Map.
It could warn me precisely what others are doing where so that I can escape in time. I will also be able to say cool things like, "I don't have any noble intentions" and "Mischief accomplished".

I want to learn to Apparate and Disapparate.
Consider all the airline bills I will be saving (I am not a jetsetter but two trips in two months means I am very broke). And the time! I could have disapparated from Bangalore on Friday evening and apparated in Goa / Mumbai and stayed there for the weekend and back to work on Monday morning. No money spent, no time taken.

I want to be able to transfigure.
Imagine the possibilities. I could be anything I want and no one would know I was even around! The second best thing to the invisibility cloak and perfect camouflage when I want to be part of the furniture.

I want to do cool spells like:
Expecto Patronum - Create a patronus that will drive away the dementors (literal and metaphorical). I would probably create a horse... a white stallion that will bear down on the dementors!

Ridikkulous - Ridiculous spelt wrong. But a perfect 'Ha!' to get rid of the Bogarts in my life.

Accio - Just call whatever I want... Accio pencil, Accio keys, Accio car, Accio bike, Accio Harry Potter, Accio Abhishek Bachchan. Endless possibilities.

Any more suggestions? Please tell me and will add them as well, with credit.

- I