Monthly Archives: December 2008

If this is communication, I disconnect

Me: (after a particularly long day): Groan. Roar. Growl. Snap. More roaring. Wild gesticulating.

The Viking: (with usual unwavering calm) That doesn’t make any sense. You have no reason to feel that way.

Me: Reason? (spewing the word) We need reasons now? I didn’t say it was reasonable. I said this is How. I. Feel.

The Viking: But what you feel is unreasonable to me. You’re just yelling and ranting. And when you yell, I don’t want to listen.

Me: (fighting the urge to rearrange facial features) I wouldn’t yell if I thought you got it. So screw my tone,  get past that to what I’m actually saying.

Moment of tense silence ensues.

The Viking: Do you want some wine? We have some great wine.

Me: (unsure) Wine’s good.

The Viking (gently): Come here. You look like you could use a squeeze.

I am such a pushover for the sane, reasonable, rational and loving man. It’s borderline pathetic is what it is.

Can’t live with them. Definitely can’t live without them.

Moral of the story: When in doubt, don’t avoid the bomb. Diffuse it.

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The Pros of Winter Illness

The little boy and I lie meshed on the sofa. Fevers are raging, cheeks are flushed and we’re  practically branding each other. We’re watching Mamma-Mia and singing along to S.O.S.

When it comes to ABBA, our jury is out. They rock. The boy and I are unanimous in our adoration. For me, it’s a 26 year old bug, whereas he was infected this summer. I don’t particularly love the movie – it’s fun, it’s light, but its definitely not on my “must-watch-till-entire-family-is-nauseated” list.

It’s really about the evergreen quality of the music, and the joy I get from seeing my son gripped by the same feelings I was beseiged by all those years ago, riding in our Volkswagen Polo, absolutely electrified by the disco beats of Dancing Queen. My father was driving me to the dentist and I was so lost in the music that I forgot to dread the dentist’s chair.

Now I’m tickled pink by this little slip of a lad singing Pierce Brosnan’s lines with great feeling.

“Where are those happy days, they seem so hard to find

I tried to reach for you, but you have closed your mind

Whatever happened to our love, I wish I understood

It used to be so nice, it used to be  so gooooood”.

Yes, I know. Not age-appropriate, but it’s his favourite song and ABBA does this to you. They suck you in and make you a goof, a complete sucker for the feelings they are peddling.

We have a wonderful time till Slipping Through My Fingers comes on. I have always loved this song. However, I have never heard it with my son snuggled on my lap and Meryl’s Streep’s voice filled with loss and longing washing over us.

I’m hit by the sudden realisation that this is exactly what I’m doing now. Trying to capture every minute, the feeling in it. Holding on tight to the feverish little body, wanting to freeze the frame and bottle every minute detail of this precious moment. Dreading the day that he won’t want to snuggle against me. Trying to fight the well-known surge of sadness for all the years that have raced by. Guilt for all the time spent in a world that is not his.

I’m annoyed by the tears brimming in my eyes and try to suppress the sigh trying to escape me.

My ever-perceptive son whips his head around and looks at me keenly.

“You like this song, Mamma?” His eyes are wide; his palm hot on my cheek.

I nod mutely, not trusting myself to speak. Forgive your mother for being the patron saint of the Water Works, son. Rest assured that I will be raining out your birthdays, confirmation, graduation, maybe your wedding one day….

He turns his attention back to the TV, arms now clasped around my neck and head on my heart.

“This is the bestest time ever, Mamma” he murmurs.

The mother comes undone.

Presented by WaterWorks  Inc. for your viewing pleasure.

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The Con(s) of Winter Illness

Try not to contract influensa this winter.

If you see it coming at you, shoo it away or stone it dead with vitamins and omega 3 capsules.

Should you be unlucky as I have been; if you have been felled by small children sneezing on you, rubbing their snot all over your face and wrapping their feverish limbs around you, my advice would be to retire gracefully.

As gracefully as the flu permits.

At some point during this wondrous journey into chills and semi-delirium, you will drag yourself out of bed and crawl over to the couch, duvet in tow, in an attempt to connect to the world of the living, also known as the Oprah Winfrey Show.

Aah, you will think, here’s someone I know. Someone whose company I am cruelly deprived of since a life in employment has robbed me off the joys of daytime TV.

Her guest is a lanky, flaxen-haired goddess, with perfect skin and (I’m guessing) no chipped nails. It would appear that this has been achieved by inhaling blueberries and muesli. She has written a book about “wellness” (really, how inappropriate is this show for me right now?), which apparently comes from meditating, sleeping 8 hours, going vegan and CLEARLY – inhaling food instead of consuming it chompchomp.

All this as I am busy stuffing my face with toast, marmalade and oversweetened Indian tea.

Whats a girl got to do to cop a break over here?

The TV off, I indulge in satisfying, bitter fantasies about smearing marmalade on the blonde goddess’s face. That and Daniel Craig. Or maybe smearing marmalade on Daniel Craig? Yum.

Feeling better now.

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The Army Man

I came upon this short piece on TDA’s website. It is written by her father, an ex-fighter pilot in the IAF. It spawned such interest and inspired so many that he posted it on his own blog and you will find it here. Good going, Flt. Lt. Rajiv Tyagi.

Let me know what you think.

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Be a shining example

A quick mind and a big mouth are an unfortunate combination. Especially if you are 5 years old, this “attitood” will see you being banished to your room quite often, where you are expected to think over your behaviour.

Failing that, it will at least keep you busy with lego and out of your mothers hair till you know better than to be a potty mouth.

Then, there are those times when one’s own err..flaws come and bite one roundly in one’s derriere.

08:30 a.m. Viking residence

Arvind: Shit, where is my Lightning McQueen?

Mamma: Arvind, don’t use that kind of language!

Arvind (genuinely puzzled): But you do it. You say “F***!” a lot. All. Over. The. Place.

Mamma (taken aback and thrown off guard). No. Not all over the place. Where did you pick up “all over the place” anyway? I only say it if I stub my toe or something..

Arvind: And when we’re late getting out of the house and you’ve forgotten to warm up the car.

Mamma: errr. well…

Arvind: And when people are rude in traffic jams…sometimes when you’re mad at Pappa!

Mamma: (feeling like a total arsewipe and annoyed at total recall): Well. umm.. it’s wrong whoever says it. Even if its your mother. Neither of is going to use language like that again, okay?

Arvind: I have an even better idea! We should get a bad word box. If anyone uses a bad word, they have to put 1 krone in the box – like the bad word box at school.

I give the Viking a nasty look, the look that says, ” Did you TiVO Nanny 911 for Arvind’s viewing pleasure, you freak?”

“So I can’t swear in the comfort and privacy of our own home? I’m to be deprived of the most basic taxpayer privilege?” I mutter resentfully to the Viking.

The Viking, who is desperately trying to keep from rolling in splits in our hallway, says with all the wry dignity he can muster, “Son, you’ll be a millionaire before you know it!”

Gah! Its official. Our son has me on Potty Mouth Probation.

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This used to be my playground

This used to be my playground
This used to be our pride and joy
This used to be the place we ran to
That no one in the world could dare destroy

I know. Its not cool to quote Madonna since she started looking like a total tranny, but in the days when she wasn’t quite there, this lovely song was released and everything that happened on the 26th of November – not so strangely – brought me back to it.

This is not just a post about the terror. I am not going to ask the obvious and not so obvious questions that have been asked all over the blogosphere by qualified people.

I want to convey the plummeting feeling in the pit of my stomach when I heard the news from my mother after a punishing day at work. The achy, hollow feeling of watching my playground being torn asunder and blown apart like a sequence in a D-movie. You could almost be forgiven for thinking that Bruce Willis might muscle through the crowds to save the Trident.

I sat in the safety of our home, unable to tear my eyes away from the carnage; unable to stem the unravelling within, the incredible rage I was feeling. At some point, I was joined by the Viking and I vaguely clue into the words coming from him – terror, draconian laws, tightening of civil liberties. And then he says this, ” I would rather live in a society that has to deal with terror than one where the resulting panic will rob everyone of their liberties and rights.”

In any other context than this one, I would have echoed that sentiment. Now, I spin towards him, almost blinded by my sadness and incomprehension. “How.Can.You? You lost no one who meant the world to you today. Your life was not changed forever by some utterly arbitrary, hateful act. You haven’t lost the last shred of security you were feeling in a city you love and will never leave. Don’t you dare intellectualise this!”

So I’ve walked around, unable to intellectualise, feeling pulled inside out for the past 6 days, spending my time with people who are sympathetic to what has been happening, but who can’t really get the extent of my feeling for obvious reasons.

This is my Bombay. Not Mumbai. VT, not CST. The city which embraced me as I ventured out alone, giving me safe spaces to grow up, be independent, take responsibility and begin to be the woman I wanted to be. The year and half I spent there doesn’t sound like much, but it felt like a couple of lifetimes. We lived life with the kind of intensity and break-neck speed that would leave me ragged today. If we worked really hard, we always played twice as hard and there was no cooler, safer place to do it than South Bombay.

We wandered the streets at all hours of the day and night with nary a thought and Cafe Leopold, Mondegar, Three Flights Up, Martins – these hangouts were “ours”.  The Causeway was our playground. Amazing friendships were born over pitchers of beer, relationships were cemented during long and neverending walks down Marine Drive, often all way down to Chowpatty beach. Confidences were exchanged over bhel and pav bhaaji at our regular shack across VT – a stone’s throw from Xaviers. I lost my heart, jostling and holding hands on the train from Churchgate to Andheri, only to find myself, a year later, sitting on the boulders of Marine Drive, holding the same hand desperately, unable to wave our love goodbye. My heart was irrevocably broken in Bombay and my innocence and naivete took a beating.

To fall in love in a city, though, is to fall in love with it, warts and all. The wide open spaces, the tree-lined streets, the little corners and crowded pavements of South Bombay will forever occupy a special place in my heart. (To this day, there are only two aerial views that choke me up and make my mascara run. The palm fronds and the rich laterite soil of Kerala, my first sighting of “home” from the airline, and the gloriously lit-up necklace of pearly lights that is Marine Drive. One look and I can almost taste the happiness and reckless abandon of youth.)

If you’re looking for warts, Bombay has about a 1000 glaring ones. Perfectly rational reasons to dislike the city. I have sworn up and down that I would never EVER live in Bombay and I have meant it. Too hassled. Too crowded. Too polluted. Too much. But darn it, I love, LOVE the city in the way that one still loves a particularly flawed, but flamboyant, gracious and irresistible ex-boyfriend. You see the folly of permanence, how the place can chew you up and spit you out, but how on earth do you dislike one so vibrant, so generous, so full of charming/rotten contradictions?

I can’t. As the song goes, ” Mera kuch saamaan, tumhare paas padaa hain”. As long as there are pieces of me there, I can’t help but love the place. I cannot distance myself from what happens there or NOT feel this pain personally. I am this close to punching the next person who says, ” Oh well, must move on.” I don’t even live there but I can’t begin to understand how people are expected to do this; to not feel controlled by the fear. But whaddaya know? Bombayites surprise you by doing exactly that. Inspite of the fear and inspite of the loss.

Bombay, you don’t know me, but I am a card-carrying member of your fan club.

And you can’t see me right now, but I’m giving you a standing ovation.

Edited to add: Links to two of the best blog entries I have read about this mess, two entirely different takes.

Amrita’s take

OJ – a true blue Mumbaikar

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