Thursday, June 29, 2006
Since Ash is the only contributor in DP who seems to have taken the onus of scanning my posts to see if any are worth linking, I have to make sure she doesn’t go on vacation. I must thank DP for sending a few clueless travelers my way who only have to take one look at Draupadi and run for the nearest exit.
Wednesday, June 28, 2006
Sunday, June 25, 2006
Almost felt homesick when my car came to a screeching halt at this intersection. ‘Eat!’ my mom would say. ‘When I say eat, I mean eat’, she’d scream almost immediately as if she knew I would disregard her first time around.
Also felt like sulking when the guys in the perpendicular road didn’t have the ‘stop means stop’ sign attached to their stop signs. What is this partiality, I say! Are you saying the drivers that use that road are law-abiding people while we aren’t? That we need prodding and helpful pointers (in the same language as the actual sign) to ultimately comprehend? What if I don’t stop? Will I get a whack in my head with a ticket? A little shaken, I looked for a sticker on my car that says ‘Better stop at Greenwood and Damen Intersection.’
Oh no, you just can’t stop me
‘I’m clearly on a roll,’ he said
‘If you put a break to my stride
You will be as good as dead.’
I asked him to slow down
‘Relax and have some tea.
If you insist on running,
It’s hard to catch up, you see.’
‘No temptations of tea
Nor pouting faces galore
Will stop me from taking you
To a place you’ve not seen before
Now stop the hesitation
Just turn the freaking page
Don’t mess with me, darling
I’m the inevitable Age.’
Another year whizzes past
Leaving incomplete goals.
Goals are after all dreams
with deadlines and loopholes.
Thursday, June 22, 2006
As a kid, you needed a hobby to answer the question- What is your hobby? There was no other hobby other than stamp collecting that easily came to everyone's mind. Collecting abuses was not a serious pursuit as uniqueness was generally frowned upon. So stamps it was. Collecting them was not the hard part. You pillage, plunder and steal and before you know it you have three assorted boxes full of stamps of various origins containing diverse saliva. The two of the three boxes are in your friend’s house for the time being (till she dies a premature death). You owe 90% of your collection to your uncle who has been looking for his stamps to date.
It’s the categorization and organization that gets tricky. Now to trade stamps, you need to be able to display your wares in a professional manner. Sitting in boxes, under the bed, they end up getting stuck to each other in the heat and no one in their right frame of mind would exchange stamps with you. You dream of filing them all in a fancy album, carefully labeled with notes of the origin and history of each stamp. The exciting world, past and present, lies before you in the form of tiny bits of paper with serrated edges. You coax your parents to buy you a stamp book and they threaten to stop your weekly subscription to Amar Chitra Katha. So you use up all your pocket money to buy this album and curse Amar Chitra Katha for having such a strong hold on you.
The air in the room fills up with excitement when you actually are able to put your plan to action sorting them into different countries- Bharat, India, Malawi, Danmark, etc.. Then you put them in tiny covers and label them while they wait to get displayed on the album as their final destination. A rare Japanese stamp of a panda bear keeps you occupied in admiration for some time. You know it’s rare coz none of your friends have it. A circular one, a triangular one and you know you are probably the most sought after Philatelic in the parts. A smile.
Blue, pink, orange, yellow, green... these guys are so unoriginal. One more of these pesky little queen stamps, you just want to scream. Ok here goes..aaaaaaaaagggggrrrhhhh! How come you have too many Indian stamps? Way too many. No sucker wants to trade your 35 paisa Gandhi stamp with their Madagascar butterfly one. Wonder if these family planning stamps are really spreading the message? Or are they being delivered at the same rate as the babies? Who is Deendayal Upadhyaya and why is he important enough to be made a stamp of? Oh look, here’s the Leonardo Da Vinci one. Muah. Stick it next to the Mona Lisa. How cool!
Ouch your back hurts a little, your vision gets slightly blurred. Now you mechanically start distributing stamps without taking personal interest in them. Soon you start clubbing continents, as the space on your bed has become limited. Your brain is saturated and drained at the same time. You are at it for the last 12 hours and you aren’t even half way done. Numbness ensues and quickly you start gasping for breath. You look at the clock- its hours past midnight and if you don’t stop this now, you will probably throw them all out of the window in disgust(keeping a few rare ones of course). Overdoing things has always been a biggest cause of waning of exuberant interest that was once displayed. You are completely spent and bored out of your wits. With the last ounce of energy left, you clear the junk off your bed before you stagger and hit the pillow. Another day passes with only half your desires fulfilled.
Life is like collecting stamps. You collect little dreams, ideas, thoughts; some hackneyed and some rare. You want to compile those ideas, make an scrap book of your thoughts and implement a plan to realize those dreams. As you begin to execute them eagerly, you sometimes get tired, breathless, abandon interest and before you know it, you are 60. It’s time to retire. Time to complete that stamp album.
Monday, June 19, 2006
'Congrats, did I hear right?' Yes, you did.
'Finally, long due. Great news!' Yeah, I know.
'Wow! Congrats!' Thanks.
'You must be so excited.' Yes, i am.
'How's Pi taking it?' Great. he is quite happy. wha..?
Wait a minite! Took me the whole hour to undo the damage. 'No, I am not pregnant. Just found out that I passed the PE exam .'
Phew! That aside... I passed! See, I am not just another pretty face.
To prove that I am all heart too, I called up my friend who hadn’t passed the exam and told her that I didn’t make it through too. That made her day.
A true friend is one who dies a little every time you succeed.
Now to call and tell her that I was kidding and that I actually passed.
A truer friend is one who stabs you and writes a glorious obituary.
Tuesday, June 13, 2006
The reason for my post is not about recounting my experiences of enacting the whole Vikram aur Vetaal bit with my unsuspecting brother. I would drag him out of bed, sling him on my back and throw him to see if he flew. The ending to this story is very traumatic with my mom locking me up in the balcony where I only felt it practical to learn flying and then teach my brother.
Here’s the real raison d’etre. In his hey days, my uncle was a chief engineer for the Narmada Valley Project (Please please, let’s not get all riled up against my family. He was only getting paid handsomely for it). He got to stay in the Narmada valley. Now you’d think that’s not a big deal. It isn’t till you hear that he gets to stay in King Trivikramasena’s palace4 on the banks of river Narmada in Madhya Pradesh. The name didn’t ring a bell till my dad told me that his other name in the vetaal community happened to be Vikram. I was in raptures when we were slated to meet uncle and his family for summer vacation. My brother was too little to understand the thrills of staying in such a historically significant locale. Maybe he was smart enough to know that this vetaal thing was probably hooky, a figment of someone's imagination to make Chandamama sell. All he could care about was the servants who’d bring a golden wash basin to bed and brush his royal teeth with diamond bristles. He makes the likes of Anna Nicole Smith pale in comparison. I was certain that my uncle wouldn’t be sitting on a throne, but I never broke that news to my giddy brother. In fact, I did something I would come to regret. I encouraged him. I told him stories of a raging war against neighboring king in which King Uncle came out victorious to the cacophony of conch noise. His white elephant had tusks as big as the slide in the park. And of course, our Queen Aunty would spend idyllic days in the palace gardens (that’s the only thing that happened to be true).
My brother couldn’t hide his excitement in the train. He told the co passengers that he was on the way to meet his King Uncle and that if they happened to be on the same train on the way back, he would reward them with a few pearl necklaces that he’d bring from the treasury. My parents shot worried looks at each other. I was amused no end. Co passengers pulled his cheeks.
My uncle and aunt came to receive us at the station. One look at them and my brother completely lost his marbles. His wails competed with that of the conch din he had been made to envision. My uncle was taken aback by this sudden display of affection. Through his sobs, he made it clear that he wasn’t interested in traveling with a crownless king. Amused, my uncle said he had left his crown at home (er..palace) as he had to come incognito to escape from the enemy’s eyes.
Part two of my brother’s displeasure took place in the parking lot when he saw a car instead of a horse chariot. So to appease him, we took a detour to Ujjain where we hired a tonga (horse cart) to take us around the city; all the while my uncle had to pertend to be the king. I think that reconciled my brother a bit as we didn’t hear much of his howling till we reached home.
The palace- It was just fabulous. In my scheme of trying to goad my brother, I had downgraded my own expectations of this place. Not one of the huge castles with moats and canons, but a really humungous bungalow capable of accommodating only the royalty. A palace of a king who ruled small kingdom. The scene took us back a couple of centuries even though the palace was renovated with modern amenities. Red carpets and wood paneling still dominated certain rooms. Ornate chandeliers and unexplored rooms. Manicured lawns with dancing peacocks. Huge balcony with a painting-perfect view of river Narmada flowing in the backyard that housed scampering monkeys whose granddad probably made faces at the brave King (or found the ruby in the fruit). King Vikram may easily have spent days standing here watching the sun set across the river, wondering if he should accept any more fruit from suspicious vendors.
There is something to be said of places that are not made into museums and are left for you to discover. There is something to be said about running along the river to find a graveyard. There is a lot of be said of imaginations and transporting yourself to an era you have always wondered about.
The best part of the palace was the basement that was converted to my uncle’s office. An oversized mahogany table and chair that only looked proportional to the size of the room. An enviable library with topographical maps lining the walls. A scaled down model of the controversial dam with my uncle's imposing presence completed the picture. ‘Saab, aapke liye chai5,‘ the servant chimed in. He truly was a King uncle. My brother beamed with pride as uncle lifted his non-golden cup of steaming tea.
Latest Update: Since I was just 10 when we went to visit uncle, I wanted to validate my memory and gather more information about this palace of King Vikramaditya. So I called my cousin in DC as King Uncle happens to be his dad.
Me: Cousin bro, where in MP was that Vikramaditya’s palace…where you guys lived?
Cuz: Vikramaditya? You mean, the vetaal king?
Me: Oh oh, don’t say a word. Ok, break the news. Was he even a king?
Cuz: It was Maharaja Holkar’s summer palace in Barwah.
Me (very very disappointed, especially since I wrote a whole freakin post on this Vicky fella): But papa told me it was King Vikram.
Cuz (mocking laughter): Your papa was probably pulling your leg. King Vikramaditya’s palace wasn’t too far off, if that is any consolation. It was in Ujjain. You probably did feel the chill of the vetaal while you were there.
Me (feeling more cheated than my brother would have felt, considering I believed it all along. Damn the power of believing what you want!): Is Holkar a decent king? I mean, did Chandamama have stories about his greatness?
1. In my case they forgot to hide the Harold Robbins
2. For people who aren't google educated, Manpreet Brar is a model, VJ and looks like a well bred horse (Google won't divulge that info)
3. Zap is a crazy blogger whom I used to frequent long time ago when he was in Rediff. He couldn't handle the fans and so he escaped. Thanks to vetal, I found him.
4. It is normal to allow Govt. officials to stay in renovated palaces during their tenure.
5. Sir, tea for you. ( I am pandering to my international and Tamil audience)
6. Still sulking
Saturday, June 10, 2006
Meeting the baby brother and his wife, a hike in Mount Rainier, treated to no rains, a surprise advance birthday gift (one night in a log cabin in the mountains), catching up with ex roomie and her little one.
End result: Alpha is a happy individual.
When friends asked me how my trip to Seattle was, all I had to say to the was ‘It was perfect and wonderful.’ No crazy stories, no freak incidents, not even one instance of me flushing my cell phone. Yes folks, I regret to inform you that this post will only contain happiness and mush, contentment and good vibes. Seeya later.
Rationale (SIL), I know you might be still reading. So here goes- Baby brother, Beta, sent me ticket to Seattle, but Pi happily tagged along. Oh, this post was supposed to be nice. Habit is hard to break. Yeah, so we reached Seattle and ooh-aahed over brother’s new house done up superbly. The couple gave credit to each other. It was hard to believe my brother would have such great taste, but then you’ve got to give it to Rationale to be so benevolent. There are more instances where Rationale shone above the rest. Read last bit of this post for details.
Mount Rainier, the breathtakingly lovely volcanic peak (14410 ft above sea level) that can be seen by commuters in Seattle was a treat to my mountain starved midwestern eye.
We hiked there. Clear skies… much more than we could ask for in Seattle. Even the hardcore Seattle people couldn’t stop exclaiming on how beautiful the day was.
‘Look look, Mt Rainier’ for the 12th time en-route Rationale would jump up and down in the car.
‘Yes, I notice.’ I hadn’t stopped noticing. It’s hard to tear your eyes away from it.
‘WOW! Isn’t is so pretty?! Tsk tsk! Woah! You can see it still!! You guys are so lucky its not cloudy today.’ My brother exclaimed.
‘Can you belive how lucky you are?!’ the same brother added in the same journey in the same hour.
At this point I was beginning to feel that it was probably their first time seeing the mountain too. Maybe I ought not to feel that jealous.
Our hike was quite pleasurable. There was snow all over and we had to hike on melting snow. Going up was slightly better than walking on quicksand and coming down was better than ice-skating with no experience. It was like ice-skating with very little experience. The sights were beautiful and even though the ice covered mountain gave us cold stares, we never felt more welcome. We sat on vocanic ash, dipped our feet in gushing streams and slid on ice. Stayed overnight at a log cabin that was a birthday surprise for me. I really had no clue. I was overwhelmed, so I invited the others to stay with me too. I cut the yummy birthday cake that was snuck into the fridge somehow. My birthday is not till much later, so hold your horses on the cheap age jokes. I guess Pi wanted to get done with my birthday stress as soon as possible. It was nothing but touching.
The owners of this cabin had an eclectic sense of style. There was a scary owl staring at us in the loo that gave Pi some constipation issues. Rationale counted 37 hearts in the bathroom itself in various forms and shapes. Then there was a framed picture of a nude woman in the bedroom. Pi was convinced that it is the owner’s girlfriend. We didn’t explore the theory further as we were dead tired and slept in the middle of the movie -As Good As It Gets. No one other than Beta had seen the movie before. My brother claimed to have seen it three times, each time not knowing he had seen it the previous time. He told us that after watching it with us for an hour.
Pi’s new company wanted a picture of him for his portfolio. So he pained me immensely to take headshots of him in various locales. A few hundred pictures and boatloads of patient sighs later, he breaks the news that the company may prefer him in semi formals and not T-shirts. I decided to retire from taking pictures for life. That’s when Beta and Rationale came to my rescue; rummaging cupboards, ironing shirts, dressing him up and taking him to well lit areas for the photo shoot. Pi basked in all the attention, getting pictures taken and rejecting them. ‘Look my eyes look tired in this. My smile looks funny here. Yikes, my hair looks oily. My pimple looks like a freakin pimple.. so on.’
That is when my brother lost it. ‘Someone remind him the photos don’t lie.’
So Rationale was the only one left with the onus of being nice to Pi. She did manage to finally get a picture that he seemed to like. Photo number 1289. He brought it to us and asked, ‘Whatdya think guys?’
‘Yes!’ in chorus we yelled.
Today I saw the portfolio and I think the other photo was much better. The number 809.
Friday, June 02, 2006
Anyone would have fallen for this. Since I am possessed half the time, I remember saying a polite ‘no’. Can't handle the traffic congestion, I said. But as Kartik thinks I am looking for sweet devoted partner, he decided to take things under his control and do what it takes to get me hooked. So touching is the concern. Luckily there is no photo. Kartik obviously knows women prefer mystery. Imagine the look on their faces when they see my painted nails. Sulekha (apart from having moronic employees) seems to be the place to meet partners, I am to find out. Since I am a couple of years younger than I used to be, I am open to running around trees.
Amma, I am bringing home your bahu soon. Babes who read Sulekha, please don’t get worried reading my post on my marriage to Bihari dude. I can explain.
Update: I am back from England. Some of the above links will not work. Problem fixed, thanks to kiruba @ kirubashankar.com. I am now married, female who is not intelligent. Pshaw! How boring!
Thursday, June 01, 2006
‘I am highlighting myself in neon yellow so that people realise I am important.’
'I am stapling my lipstick to my lips so I don't have to retouch.'
‘I am swiveling in my chair real fast to see if centrifugal force can take me home instead of my car.’
‘I am punching holes in my nose so I can have more avenues to dig from.’
‘I am sticking a post-it note on my forehead that says- Is it lunch time yet? and am planning to sit all day in the lunch room looking for a nod from someone. ’
This is for people who call me at work and ask ‘What are you doing?’ I am working dammit! Even if I was stuffing my sore eyes with porn, there’s a fat chance that I would admit it. Now if you would excuse me for a bit…