Thursday, 10 November 2011
Tuesday, 11 October 2011
Friday, 19 August 2011
Raghu sat there a stone throw away from the top of the hill with this ankle nestled in his hands. The pain shot through this ankle and through his feet and toes as he tried to flex his foot. In addition to the pain in his ankle he felt another wave of misery sweep through his insides. This had been a terrible idea.
Three years ago today he had lost his wife to a road accident. It had been the worst three years of his life. Three years ago he was a whole man. A man with a job, ideas, hobbies, friends and a wife that he had loved, who had loved him. His two children were grown and settled abroad. He had made trips with his wife to visit them every alternate year and they had visited the other years.
The death had caught him unprepared. As a child who had lost parents rather early he had always felt that he had already paid his dues. And his wife, his wife. What is left to be said about shared domesticity. It had not been high highs and low lows as his wife liked to say. They had always been a calm couple. Married young, they seemed to fit together well, well enough. And after his initial reluctance to love anyone who could die on him he had opened up.
They had weaved their daily routines, hobbies, friends in out around each other for the past 35 years - a great giant banyan tree of a relationship. And her death had caught him with his guard down. Taken his breath away. Sitting on top of the sparse hill he took a deep breath. It felt like the first one after a very long time.
This had been his first hike after... In the three years in between life had been so hard. Simple things. Getting up, getting dressed, going to work, not screaming out in pain, eating lunch, coming home, eating dinner, going to bed. Maintaining this simple routine seemed to take all that he had to offer. He had dared not introduce any variations with the fear that everything would come tumbling down.
To begin with friends had called, his children had called almost everyday but one by one all had dropped off. His children still called him once every week at the weekend but for the rest of time he was alone. Alone just barely managing to keep up his routine. He figured sooner or later the routine would get easier and then he could start reintroducing all of the other people, experiences into his life again.
This hike in fact was a variation. The last two years on this day he had waited patiently for his children to call and then once it was over had fallen apart over a bottle of wine. It was in fact the only day of the year that he allowed himself any alcohol. With his perceived predilection for alcohol, he had been terrified to drink at all after she had died.
As he sat alone with a sense of despair growing Raghu realised almost for the first time that it was never going to get easier. He tried to stand up and get moving but realised that the pain was just too much for him even to limp with most of his weight on his other leg. He sat down again and check his phone, there was only a tiny bit of charge left. Raghu did not have anyone to call who would willingly drop everything and come and get him. There were still a few friends who would do it with some private grumbling but the thought filled Raghu with despair. They would do it because they pitied him.
This was exactly what he was hoping to avoid with his unwavering routine. This feeling of helplessness, of despair, of rage at the unfairness of it all. If he let everything in he was not sure he could cope.
He lay back against a bare rock and looked up at the sky. The mountains cleared his head slowly. As the breeze rose he felt himself start to breathe deeply. He closed his eyes and the exhaustion from all the emotions made his muscles go limp. He made up his mind and picked up the phone and dialed.
It rang and went to voicemail
" Hi this is Malini Raghu. I am not available at the moment but please leave your name and number and I will get back to you as soon as possible. Have a great day"
For the first time in all the time he had listened to her voice he smiled a little at his dirty little secret. Continuing to pay her mobile bill had been an indulgence to begin with but off late he felt guilt and shame at his inability to move on. Maybe he should have made a little more of a scene, cried more, drank more, been a bigger disaster. Maybe then three years would not have found him on a hike alone with no one to call.
He sat up and decided to wait for the two youngsters that had been in front of him through the hike. They had reached the top and had gone on further to visit the waterfall. The thought of inconveniencing strangers did not fill him with dread at the moment. He would make a scene. And when he got home he would call his children, cry some more, take a vacation, let it hurt some more.
Friday, 12 August 2011
Be gentle its my first time. :)
It was a typical day in June in Delhi. At 10 am the heat was already unbearable. I was 11 years old, it was my summer vacation and the last thing I wanted to do was stand in a queue outside the Saraswati temple. We were here for my dance classes. Although I was a disappointment to my parents in almost every other way I still redeemed myself by being somewhat of a prodigy when it came to Bharatnatyam. We were here to enroll me in special dance classes offered by Dr Parthasarathy. Dr Parthasarathy was a retired DRDO scientist who had a passion for dance. After 35 years of brilliant work at the DRDO he was now a retired man who worked as the priest at the Saraswati temple.
In addition to being a brilliant scientist and a learned priest he was also a highly sought after dance teacher with many gifted disciples. And he was accepting students for this year. So my family along with dozen others were queued up outside the Saraswati temple so he could choose one or two of us and accept us as his disciples.
In a fit of rebellion I had worn my pink shorts and an Aerosmith t shirt. Although it served the purpose of infuriating my parents I felt miserable now as I watched all the pretty older girls in their salwar kameez. As much as I wanted to annoy my parents I also really enjoyed dancing. Although I had heard my parents talking about how traditional and strict Dr Parthasarathy was I had also heard about how he had made gifted children into brilliant dancers. He was known to give a special soul to dance performances that he choreographed.
So now miserable in my pink shorts I felt I had no chance against this pantheon of teenage girls all of whom seemed like a better pick than younger, smaller me in my pink shorts.
The queue wound from the rear entrance of the temple to the beginning of the parking lot. There was commotion at the parking lot that was getting louder and louder. It seemed some of the street children had captured a black cat and had tried to set the cat on fire using a magnifying glass. Although some of the parents from the queue had interfered to rescue the cat they were since then throwing things at the cat to shoo it away. A black cat was considered a bad omen and they did not want the cat anywhere near their pretty, perfect daughters. The cat stupidly was standing its ground.
My eyes filled with tears as I watched the cat shrink into a ball. And though none of the parents were hurting the cat it was clear that the cat was terrified. My parents who had been standing with their backs to me to show how mad they were now moved closer to me. One of them put their arm over my shoulder as I continued to watch the cat. It must have been the anticipation of rejection, along with a feeling of camaraderie with that cornered cat but tears started rolling down my cheeks.
After what seemed like forever my father finally sighed. "Come, lets go get the poor thing". A wave of relief swept over me as we walked past the parents who by now had begun to ignore the cat. My father picked the animal up and finding a collar around its neck said " Its a house cat. Shame on them."
The cat seemed to sense it was safe and uncurled itself and let itself be patted. My father was always good with animals. I found myself blurting. " I am sorry about the clothes, Dad. Maybe I will get in next time. Really sorry dad."
My father looked up and grinned at me. "Don't worry chotu. You are a great dancer. And I think our chances just improved." Through my tears I now saw what my father was looking at. A tiny ring attached to the collar of the cat with the inscription.
"Kalaivani - C/0 Dr Parthasarathy".
Sunday, 7 August 2011
Being a girl whose heart will always belong to Delhi I adore winters. Winters in Delhi are the most beautiful thing. The warm sunshine trying to cut through foggy mornings. Winter is when the plants get a respite from the sweltering heat and all the gardens come alive with flowers. Sweaters come out and my ma will start dressing in layers equal to 5 or above. There are small impromptu bonfires. Apples find there way to the shops, also pahadi alu and special red carrots that end up in large pots of gajar halwa.
But winter in New Jersey is another thing altogether. The trees are barren, the sky is overcast, the snow on the ground that is so dreamlike when it first falls turns a dirty brown color and stays on the ground until the spring melt. My two old cars sputter and threaten to die, the roads are treacherous. The produce section in stores dwindles to a colorless mass as the season progresses. I took to jogging in the morning this winter, anything to feel heat in my limbs but snow on the ground and cold needles against my face was more than I could withstand on a daily basis. I finally understand why summer a season much maligned in a tropical county is so revered in North America.
I tell you all this because I have been craving cold weather lately. Maybe it is that as a fat child I have always found comfort in layers, maybe it is the string of festivals I associate with cold winter air. Whatever it is I am looking out already for fall, the first nip in the air, sweaters, hot stews, pies .... all that.
Thursday, 28 July 2011
And this word a day I have been getting this week has inspired me to start learning Spanish since it looks like the biggest buzz kill of them all is the English language itself
hircine - Of or relating to a goat, having a strong odor, lustful; lewd.
porcine- Of or related to swine, piggish: greedy; sloppy; boorish.
anserine - Of or relating to a goose. stupid; silly.
bovine - Of or relating to cattle, especially a cow, dull; sluggish; stupid.
What is this asinine need to take the perceived negative in all animals and then use it to describe people? Oh ... Oops.
Friday, 24 June 2011
For me the issue is important. There should be very clear demarcation about where the responsibility lies in case of any crime against women. This is not just about what she wears but also about how a woman behaves. For me it is about being allowed to be. To do what I want, when I want , how I want and to not have to factor in how men or anybody else feel about it.
The media attention on this issue in India so far is a little distressing. Instead of highlighting that crimes against women is on the rise and that society needs to take responsibility about how women are treated in our country, the attention has shifted yet again to what women will wear. Ironic? Sad? Frustrating? All of the above?
Articles in media here, here.
Monday, 6 June 2011
Hubby : (Looks at the TV where the show is paused) "This one?"
Me : "Wanna watch?" (switching the show to play again)
Hubby : "Ha! I know why you like this show!!"
Me : "Yeah!! I just told you he is a therapist, it is funny and insightful..."
Hubby ( interrupting rudely) : "What, You find this guy hot. That's why you like this show. This is same guy in ....." ( names the other show where I reportedly checked out this guy)
Me : "Whoa!!! Really?? Is it the same guy?" ( Look at the screen closely and then check IMDB) "I think you are right. But that is not why I like the show!!!"
Hubby ( gives me a look ) : "I know all the guys you find cute. "( walks away proudly)
As my husband and I grow together we know each other better, we understand when the other person is sad, happy, what the other person finds funny, likes for breakfast and so on and so forth. But now I think he might know too much!!!!
Note to self - stop using so many exclamation marks!! Maybe large bold capital letters or red to indicate emphasis. OR WILL THAT be even more ANNOYING!!!
Saturday, 4 June 2011
I find myself pouncing at all examples of people who had taken some time off and then found their way back. I revisit my decision and think about if I could have somehow stayed at that job a little while longer. I reassure myself and set internal deadlines.
And today after a few days of relative fogginess it hit me that this was what got me where I am in the first place. What do I want to do in life is a very big question. But what do I want to do NOW is not. Yet I seldom ask myself that and fewer times follow through.
Here, present, right now what do I want? Our lives are full of tales of the caution for the people who don't plan for the future. Life lessons not learnt not first hand but handed down like a sacred text.
If I did not know any of these lessons, if I knew nobody else who quit their job, if I knew nobody who liked chocolate, what would I want to do?
And to start with what would I want to do right now with no thought to the future. For I am sure the secret to the bigger question lies in an answer to that.
Thank you Shubha for a related thought.
I wrote this a week back and almost didnt post it. This morning I got up again with doubts and anxiety and when I read this I feel some relative clarity come back into my thoughts...
Wednesday, 1 June 2011
So please visit
Thursday, 26 May 2011
Three years ago I packed all my bags and moved all the across the vast land mass of the United States of America from Portland, Oregon to New Jersey. Portland the city of roses has a milder winter full of rains and a summer blessed with long sunny days, being farther away from the equator. New Jersey on the other hand has relatively cold winters with snowfall that has increased every passing winter, followed by a rainy spring, a short fleeting summer, a surprisingly cold fall and then quickly back to the increased snow that I was talking about. So needless to add that the very summer I got here I decided to utilize the whole 4 and half months of warm weather we get to start gardening
Gardening is a pastime of the retired, people who enjoy a slower pace. You spend long hours out in the sun pottering with plants, while your pretty neighbour lady in a summery frock picnics in the lawn and waves to you. The plants which you picked after much consideration thrive under all your attention. And in return for all these sunny days, your house is full of fresh produce and fragrant beautiful cut flowers.
Or so they would have you believe. After three long seasons (before anyone jumps to any conclusions they were long only in my head the sunshine was beautiful but very brief), the one thing I have learnt is that whoever came up with gardening or maybe it was the maker of those weirdly expensive gardening gloves I see all over the place (24.99 for gloves that I am going to stick in mud, I don't think so) was very, very good at PR.
Things you should know when you start:
- When the seed company guarantees that a seed will work, if you provide not too much or too little water, not too much or too little sunshine, no squirrels (I hate squirrels but that is an another entry), no birds, the appropriate nutrients in the appropriate quantity, the appropriate drainage, the correct container size... And no they will not put all that on the back of the packet because that would leave less place for the bold 100 % guarantee that they like to display there.
- Squirrels/birds do not like the hedge plants that were mass produced by Lowe's and planted by your apartment complex a couple of feet away from the Thai basil plant that you have grown from seed. They like your 4 class teacher know what to get at to make you cry. To my 4 class teacher - thank god you had to go on long vacation half way through that year. I would never have made it without that break. I never asked why you went away because I was just so glad to be rid of you and thought I would jinx it if asked too many questions.
- If you water your plants thoroughly before a vacation it will rain all the time you are not there and you will come back to water clogged plants. If your do not water your plants there will be a heat wave that will break records and your heart.
- You will never remember what you planted what seed no matter how good your memory is. All containers with seeds must be labeled. Since I have always been told I have a mind like a sieve I am not sure why I made that mistake.
- It is very important to pick produce at the right time. That is when they taste the best and provide maximum nutrition. What is the right time to pick produce? - The week you were working late in office with takeout Greek food or the week you went for the vacation that you planned 6 months ago. Those two weeks and the week you were down with flu.
- Keeping your seedlings in the "slightly" warm oven to accelerate growth is an accident waiting to happen.
- Despite twisted backs, chipped nails, grazed knees I keep hearing about tennis elbows, golf elbows, runners' knee and not one whisper about any gardening related injuries. They are very real. Be careful and please garden while making loud noises about how hard it is with a considerate husband within earshot.
- Visit nurseries after steeling yourself against plants that will be twice the size of your plant and also will have been grown organically from an heirloom seed passed down for generations in the family of the nursery owner. Your little plant may have taken more of your time and effort and maybe from a seed that you picked in a catalogue but at least it costs more money than it would to buy this plant (wait that doesn't sound right).
Despite all this gardening is a very rewarding hobby and first thing I look at every morning are my stunted, overpriced beauties. It is indeed a hobby fit for royalty- you know with all the help they can hire...
Sunday, 22 May 2011
Read Ratan Tata's interview which upset me a little since here is a man to be respected speaking with little regard for work life balance. The article has some eye catching headline about Mukesh Ambani but what caught my attention was Ratan Tata's views on calling meetings at the end of the day. I got a little mad and sat down and put my anger down on paper. But in doing so lost my anger. I feel a little of my peace come back to me these last weeks. So I do not want to send out judgement and opinion into the world this early in the day.
Instead here is a picture of some spinach and lettuce from my patio full of pots. The lettuce was lovely in a salad yesterday.
Monday, 16 May 2011
Writing for me, even when I write jokes involves a moment of introspection. That is why writing makes me just a little calmer, just a little happier. The process gives me an excuse to collect my thoughts and look at life. Even if it just to pick something from my life to write about.
This past year however my life could not stand up to any introspection. I found myself in a job I did not enjoy at the end of commute that took time away from anything else which would have made the job worthwhile. I have been angry, frustrated and defeated. I have thought about what I should do rather than what I want and in doing so what I want has become hazier and hazier. I have been trying to fit in and have failed miserably.
A week ago, I finally quit my well paying job. I am unemployed yet I feel strangely free. I am just beginning to feel like myself again. I still panic every other day and feel a flood of fear and confusion. All my thoughts are clouded once again with the immediate. But once the first wave of fear has subsided, all the reasons why I am here come back. I have no idea what I am going to do next but in finding myself here I feel more alive than I have felt in a long time. My life can once again stand up to some examination and that alone is a step forward.