Monday, December 29, 2008


I wonder what people do when confronted wit something they’ve been trying to avoid they’re entire lives. Like if someone they’ve loved deeply for a long time doesn’t love them back or they’re a total loser with no scope for redemption. It could also be something positive, like they’re made for bigger, better things and were wasting they’re lives until now. Does it break down the entire construction of their lives leaving debris of brick and mortar? Does the building (life) develop cracks but still not crumble? One thing is for certain though; life cannot go on as it were. It has to change even if it doesn’t want to simply because this certain suppressed “fact” has come to light.

I have realized many people build their lives on false hopes, constructed realities and tend to gloss over all that is imperfect. On the outside they are happy and smiling, but on the inside the truth eats at them slowly, unconsciously clawing its way to the surface till one day, in a burst of fresh air, it breaks free. In its aftermath it leaves behind change.

Basically it’s a confrontation between the individual they think they are and the individual they really are. The time and money they’ve spent trying to keep their secret personalities under wraps has gone to the dogs. I wonder if they try and salvage their ego and pride from the crumbling edifice or begin rebuilding it. And if rebuilt would it be the truth or an alter-ego?

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Shopping? (cringe!)

The dictionary defines Chores as a hard or unpleasant task. Shopping for me is a Chore (with a capital C). On my one free day –Sunday, mum decides to drag me shopping at the supermarket. It’s pouring and by the time I get there, I look like a wet chicken. With as much dignity I can muster, I enter the fully air conditioned supermarket and listen to the background score of my teeth chattering (very kelvinator). It looks like they’re giving everything away free, judging by the number of people who’re there. There were all sorts of people–fat ones, thin ones, tall ones, short ones…mostly fat ones.

For someone with motor skills two levels above an ape, my mother very adventurously asks me to maneuver the shopping cart. I sigh and grab my cart only to have one of the wheels run over my toes. Mentally yelling at myself for wearing Floaters instead of shoes I sigh and follow mum into the labyrinthine shopping area. “Ouch!” the wheel again as I tried to reverse my cart. As I peer at my toe to evaluate the damage, one supreme shorty decides she wants biscuits from the topmost shelf and causes a cascade of crème biscuits on my previously unbruised head. Now I’m bruised from head to foot (well, my inbetween is miraculously unscathed… not for long though). Looking daggers at her isn’t helping 'coz she’s scuttled off. It would have been better if I had kept my eyes firmly in front of me. Someone with motor skills even worse than mine decides his shopping isn’t interesting enough and playing bumper carts might enhance the experience. Result: a bruised middle. In spite of all the blubber that shields my tummy, I know it’s gonna be a blue bruiser.

Somehow I make my way out of aisle one (in my head, it pops up like a video game: LEVEL 1 COMPLETE: LEVEL 2)

A fact I’ve accepted is, the wheel of my shopping cart has an affinity for my toes. It doesn’t help that other people want to run me over too! And in all this, my mother is blissfully unaware, in her wonderland of aisles filled with things to stack her cart with. The heavier my cart gets, the more unmanageable it becomes.

To make my life a little more bearable, I add some Sprite to my cart only to have mum promptly put it back on the shelf and launch into the “diet” lecture. The chocolate I sneaked in is sneaked back with “the look”.

Feeling great pity for myself, I decide to tame my undomesticated cart. By then, my toes hurt, my legs are aching and my head is throbbing. Just then a kid decides to throw a tantrum and launch himself onto the floor kicking and screaming. Half of me wants to pick him up and pet him, the other half wants to spank the brat. I ignore wailing Wally only to find myself abandoned by mum. The 4 yr old in me wakes up and I panic (why?! I’ve been here a gazillion times) still, I want my mum!!! I scan the aisles and find her looking at some new fangled precooked mishmash. Relieved, I rush to be near her. I go one way, my cart goes the other and the stack of soups comes down crashing. The staff is now glaring at me (they think I’m the creme biscuit crasher). Mum decides the faster she gets me out of here the better. She doesn’t want to be “black listed” for having a delinquent daughter. Luckily, the checkout is reasonably empty as I pile my stuff on the counter, grab my bags and leave.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Garbage, Garbage, Garbage

I fail to understand why any educated person, traveling/ commuting suddenly risks throwing out all their education with their littler. The mentality is “Mumbai is one big garbage bin” so without a second thought throw wrappers, peels, old tickets, ANYTHING out of the window. From trains, cars, buses… if the airplane had windows open, I have no doubt they’d chuck their garbage from there also!!!

I have had many a tussle with the ladies who cannot keep a wrapper in their bag for 20 minutes and throw it at the station dustbins. Some days I go around with other people’s garbage in my bag just because they think it’s “uncool”. I have been called a pest, an activist, a crazy girl etc but I refuse to budge. I believe if ONE person doesn’t throw ONE packet; that is one packet less contributing to the mess, one packet less for the cleaning lady to pick up and a few seconds saved so she can pick up another.

The BMC don’t make it easier with the number of dustbins hovering around nil. But it’s a mentality that has to change. They wouldn’t DARE do something like this if they were abroad. (Sadly, I see some foreigners in their ridiculous Hawaiian shirts and shorts mimicking the Indians)

When are we going to realize we’re the cause of our own troubles and after we push self destruct, there’s nothing that can save us but ourselves. Should I turn this into a movement, a revolution???

listen to song "Garbage, garbage, garbage"

Monday, May 05, 2008

A film festivaler

I wrote this sitting in a theater chair, at the MAMI 10th international film festival, just before a screening began.

I’m back where I belong, doing what I love best, living through (what was earlier) a dream –watching films back to back. And what an ambiance! This film festival has been another occasion for me to blossom and grow. The evolution has been from the cramped cardboard box life into a dark room full of strangers all enthralled by the flickering image on the large screen. The familiar smells bestir memories from film festivals gone by, from times when I was younger and excited out of my mind to be volunteering. The smell of popcorn is omnipresent. Like heady wine it transports me into another world. This world is cathartic, a purging of my worries of la vie quotidienne. For a couple of hours I exchange my life for someone else’s, snug in the knowledge that however bad it is it will eventually end. I sit wide eyed and absorb the narrative as my bottom grows numb and my mind travels far away.

As every movie ends, the audience bustles around and rearranges themselves at a new screen. Ah! The audience! Strangers but bound by a common thread for the duration of the festival. Familiar strangers from festivals gone past, new friends made from the previous day’s marathon viewing. It’s all part of this “double life” every cinephile leads. The ingrained urge to be a voyeur manifesting itself even more strongly with these film enthusiast types.

The surge of the smallish, but intellectually bound crowd is exhilarating. All for the common goal of viewing someone else’s opinion and life presented on reel. Any avid film festival regular with moderate powers of observation will deduce the clear cut “types” of people that attend.

First, you have the Makers –people who are here because they make films, or have a film that’s being screened. So you have actors, directors, producers… the lot. They add the glamour. The second type is the ‘contact’ people. They are here solely for business purposes, to enlarge their network. So you have distributors, marketers and that set. They add the element of “commerce”. The third are the cinephiles, people who love cinema and come to the festival just for the sake of watching films. They add character to the festival. Students are the fourth type – students from colleges, students of film etc… all here to be amazed by the work of their seniors, peers etc. here to get a toe-hold in this mad world of filmmaking. It fascinates them so much they don’t see themselves doing anything else. The fifth type is the “wanna-bes”- the “I have an image to portray” people who don’t give tow farthings for cinema.

If you observe the crowd in the interval between films, they are all milling around, trying to look like they have something to do, others consulting their catalogues or schedules debating the better movie. There are others indulging in pseudo-intellectual conversations of movies they’ve just seen or directors they love. You see the press running after celebrities for sound bytes. The hungry fill their stomachs with class A-carry able inside- junk food. When you watch people come out of the theater after a screening, you’ll observe their shuffling gait, the blood rushing back to their legs after sitting on their now numb bottom, a little disoriented from emerging into light from dark, thoughtful as if absorbing and collecting their thoughts about the movie. You’ll see the organizers walking around congratulating themselves on a job well done.

That’s why, this is where I belong. I live from festival to festival, in this separate world of mine, switching between a normal person and one transformed, sometimes even my dreams manifest themselves as a movie with opening credits and sometimes subtitles.

In all these film festival “types”, where do I belong? I’m, in reality, all of them, all at once. A truly La Phooey feeling!!! I’m also the silent observer that watches and takes note. In between screenings I mill around. I see familiar faces I smile at.As the slow moving line makes it’s way into the theater, I find myself a suitable place and make myself comfortable. From the beginning to the end, I’m lost to the world and to normal life. The only things that exist are me and the little charade begin played out on screen. Too soon… too soon, the credits begin to roll and the audience claps giving tribute to the filmmaker.

After the closing film, I know my head will begin to throb and I will feel the need to sleep like a drunk. My “waking up” will be comparable to a hang over. Reality will be a little easier to bear; people and places will take on a new significance. There will always be another festival, another time, but each has a separate place in the time-line of my life.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Living to regret the pain

This is what Kahlil Gibran had to say about pain

“Your pain is the breaking of the shell
that encloses your understanding.
Even as the stone of the fruit must break, that its
heart may stand in the sun, so must you know pain.
And could you keep your heart in wonder
at the daily miracles of your life, your pain
would not seem less wondrous than your joy;
And you would accept the seasons of your
heart, even as you have always accepted
the seasons that pass over your fields.
And you would watch with serenity
through the winters of your grief.
Much of your pain is self-chosen.
It is the bitter potion by which the
physician within you heals your sick self.
Therefore trust the physician, and drink
his remedy in silence and tranquility:
For his hand, though heavy and hard, is guided
by the tender hand of the Unseen,
And the cup he brings, though it burn your lips,
has been fashioned of the clay which the Potter
has moistened with His own sacred tears.”

Unlike many, I don’t find it liberating, I don’t find it a “gift” from the “potter”. After a storm of tears I feel drowned or drenched not emancipated. The constant pain eats into my soul searing myself from the truly happy person I was before. This pain manifests itself in various forms… one more devastating than he other; till I’m left with pieces I’ve managed to salvage but still don’t make a whole. I can’t run or hide ‘coz it’s on the inside… throbbing, unremitting, unwavering till I’m screaming in my own head for it to leave. Physical pain is nothing compared to it…the bruises, cuts or bleeding doesn’t compare and doesn’t make one forget. Prayer doesn’t assuage it, meditation doesn’t calm it and talking about it is a waste of time. I grit my teeth ad hold it all it, put my mask firmly in place. Its source varies faster than a blink till I’m hurting with pain from everywhere that I can’t tell what’s causing me to ache. I hold myself tightly so I don’t disintegrate because that’s what it’s feeling like right now. The death-grip on my sanity is as unwavering as the pain… if I let go, it might let go… I’m not taking chances.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Is it supposed to be this way?

I was looking forward to getting out of college.. Finally… But suddenly I feel someone has pulled the ground from under my feet. Last time around I was feeling so liberated when this got done, but now I have this heavy sinking feeling…
Most of my routine has been forged going to and coming back from college, homework, projects and last minute studying. Suddenly I feel adrift, without purpose or reason… with more questions than answers.
No more getting up at 5.30 in the mornings and tumbling into college. Sleeping through the boring lectures and enjoying the interesting ones. No more teacher imitations and canteen food stealing. Wonderful, bittersweet memories.
One of my identities has been on a roll call, reiterated every morning, part of a class of 60.
This is the end of something precious. The end of life as I knew it…

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Will you be there for me?

Lately, so many people have been asking me this. As if, in their storm tossed lives, they look for one constant, one rock… weather-beaten but there. They are unsure of where they go and when they will come. But if they do come back, they need the assurance that someone will be there for them, someone they can come back to. They want me to be that person- who will listen to them, be a balm on their travel weary bodies, soothe their uprooted hearts and minds. In the dynamic, ever-changing they ask, “will you be there for me?”
I say, “Yes, always.” Not forever, because forever has ceased to mean anything…. So, always, till the end of time. But when I ask them the same question, they look apologetic as if making an excuse for their fickle minds, hearts and loyalties.
So I sigh, and continue being there for them, without anyone “being there” for me.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Embarassment Central

This was the singularly most embarrassing thing in my entire life....
As i walked outside college on a sunny afternoon praising heaven for a teacher who didn’t turn up, i had a mildly euphoric feeling.

Annnnd....this journalist with a camera from IBN 7 stops me and asks for a sound byte. "maidem, tewday eez the anheebherysari of savitri bai phule. Please to be giving us a little thoughts on it."

I thank the stars for the Marathi lesson in 6th grade who told me WHO savirti bai phule was. "maidem, please do be giving it in Hindi." i froze and apologized stating I’d be a national embarrassment. seeing my predicament he allowed me to intersperse words of english in my hindi.

So i go on camera. and mumble some feminist shit about "strong women" and "women before their time" "role models". I felt like a total bimbette...
To add insult to injury... Sheena was taking pics of me with their cell-phone cameras.

That day will forever be marked as "the day that i made an ass of myself on national television". Where is my head on my shoulders when i need it the most!?
Gone was the euphoria and was replaced by a sinking goop like, innards turned to sludge like feeling.
Ironically, i was on my way to enroll in French class when i didn’t know my national language well.

I’ll live down the embarrassment in while but till i get over it... I’m in a state of constant mortificationhopefully something as embarrassing will happen with you... so that i know the world is a just place

I read this English-Spanish book... and i picked up these phrases... so i was using them left right and centre...
iIwas calling people compadres and saying "que passa" all...and well... those idiotic spanish men say "hola! conjo!" to each other....
So i said "hola! conjo! to Fr. Terry (the priest) and HE knows spanish...
He looks amused and asks, "do you know what conjo menas?" and with supreme confidence i say "yeah! it means buddy or pal."
"er... not quite... “he says," conjo means cunt" and he bursts into laughter
For 2 seconds i was SO shocked i couldn’t react. And then i blushed the deepest crimson and burst into laughter.

Gawd! Another thing i won’t be able to live down!

The fact that it was Valentine’s Day didn’t cut me any slack on my embarrassing situations... so for today's comedy of errors.... here’s the first one… the rest I’m conveniently forgetting

The 2 hour break between classes gives me an opportune moment to finish my project and submit it. So Tess drags me off to Kayanis... a Parsi restaurant. She sits opposite me and we're joined by two of our other classmates –Sheena and Saurabh. We see couples from college coming to celebrate a v-day breakfast at Kayanis.

The meal is filled with discussions and complaining about college and the upcoming prom. Halfway through, my one rupee coin falls on the floor... i lena over to pick it up and BOINK! I land on my butt... and with an "ooeee" i find myself sitting on the Kayani floor...

My table erupts with laughter and the people at neighbouring tables are politely trying to suppress laughter (in vain!). Needless to say, i was laughing too (on the floor)…
The waiter comes, looks at me, then at the chair and decides to pick up the chair instead... hyuk hyuk hyuk hyuk... the lighter of the two.

So for a minute I’m on the floor laughing my guts out and no1 at my table is capable of helping me... by this time, tears are streaming down their face...

I pick myself up to find everyone at kayanis smiling at me (pityingly? in comfort?)

I sat right there... ordered a custard and jelly with as much dignity i could muster and ate my dessert (and my friends are still laughing)