Tuesday, 21 April 2015

The Midnight Intruder

Moving to this clean country had been my dream for ages. And when it finally materialised, I was on cloud nine. Though I missed the Pani Puris and Vada Pavs, I was happy to leave behind the ever-surrounding dust, the loud traffic and the broken pavements with litter  strewn on the sides. Though I had to leave everything back in India and fit my house within the 90kg luggage limit, I was quite contented. Right around the corner is a Chinese restaurant, that I  usually pass by slowly, to identify the variety of dishes in the bowls and plates.

 I was walking to my bus stop when I first noticed him there. Being dark-brown, he stood out. He had positioned himself  closer to the grass. My pulse raced. Maybe, some things cannot be left behind. I took a longer route to avoid him. From then on, I started noticing him there frequently and it was always the same. A few extra metres , a leap , a hurried walk without a second glance.. Anything to stay away from him. But deep inside, I knew that a confrontation was due soon.

Behind the house is a cluster of bushes that I have never ventured into.  Seperating it from the kitchen is a just small wall. Yesterday was just another typical weekday night. I had double checked the doors and windows before climbing into the bed.  Located close to the equator, rains are frequent here. I woke up to the roll of thunder just a little past midnight. Using up the little strength that I had in my groggy state to fight back my share of the quilt, I got up to attend nature’s call.  Fumbling  with the switchboard, I finally managed to switch on the light. There he was, waiting for me. This was one place I’d always come alone.  I was jolted awake. Gone was the need and all my senses were alerted to his presence. He hadn’t moved an inch. He stood right there, as if mocking me to come closer if I dared. A clap of thunder assured me that my screams will go unnoticed by the neighbours.  I mustered my courage and put a step forward. And he charged..

The next few moments were a blur. I remember screaming out my lungs before running to the kitchen to shut myself in.Only when I heard the loud smack and the reassuring voice of my husband did I open the kitchen door. I knew that there will be a lot to deal with in the morning, for all the midnight drama that I had been responsible for. But then, I let out a sigh of relief after seeing the broken light-brown wings protruding from the crumpled paper in the dustbin.

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

An open letter to all men

Dear men,
I have been planning on writing to you about this for a while now. For the majority , its still a taboo to even say the word  and you stick to saying “Ah, that time of the month! “ or nod your head like you understand it and rush out of the room. Yes, it’s about periods. Though the sanitary ads  show us jumping and having fun on those days without a worry, if we use their product, its not always the case. Sometimes, we are just down with an abdominal ache that’s too severe to even let us even absorb the surroundings. And its  not just the physical pain that we have to endure. Even before the menstruation hits, we  suffer from PMS(Pre Menstrual Stress). We cry for trivial reasons like ending up with a spotted banana or that our sandwiches are not stuffed well or for no reason at all. Some of you might have grown up with sisters or sat by your girlfriends when they go through it, so you might know what to expect and what to do.

If you are just a boy in your teens, and you see your female classmate go up to the teacher to silently say a few words and get the rest of the day off, quit envying her. Or if you spot a small stain on her uniform, don’t make a hullabaloo out of it.

Unlike you, we don’t need to get high on alcohol to get insanely excited or to fall into abyss of depression. Our built-in hormones take us on a emotional roller coaster  every month. If you are living under the same roof with your sister or girlfriend or wife, keep track of the cycle so you wouldn’t be caught unawares by the sudden bouts of depression that hits us. We may be crazy, mad or even murderous  out of the blue and with your precise math, even if you figure out its just PMS, don’t gloat  to us that you know its just the hormones acting up and that we are perfectly ok. That just pisses us off even more and aggravates things. Well..you see, we might just not be interested in listening to any reason or advice right then. So, even if you are right, save it for a later date.  When we say its painful, even if you can’t hold hands or give a shoulder to lean on, atleast refrain from advising that pain is part of the process or lecture  whatever you know about it. You are not in our shoes to empathise!  When we cry out in front of the mirror about our figure, just distract us if you can’t bring yourself to lie or convince us that we look good. Don’t bring up topics that always end up in arguments. Don’t demand that we cook your favourites that are time consuming.  Order  a take-out or a home delivery if necessary. Share the household chores as it seems like a mountain of a task in those days.

Know the brand of the pads that we use or just ask us what we need. Don’t  just buy random stuff off the counter just because you are too scared to ask for it directly. As I mentioned already, we are a little too sensitive on these days and might show you that we are not happy with it in a not so subtle manner.

There is no use trying to shy away from it or hope that it doesn’t happen. Only if they are not on time when expected, it means there’s a problem. Relieve us of some work, show more care and be sweet, and you will find us looking at you in open admiration and secretly considering ourselves to be having the best brother/boyfriend/husband in the world. All we are asking you is to be a little extra nice, after all, we do put with your whims and fancies and demands the rest of the month.

Just another woman 

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Bangalore mornings..

Focusing on nothing but the distant Red Volvo bus, I screw up my eyes to read the bus number. I glance a few times at my fastrack watch registering only the fact that I am running a bit late than usual. Hopping on the bus, I claim an empty seat and run my hands inside my bag in search of the tangled once-upon-a-time-white brown earphones. Finding it nowhere, in dismay, I turn on my phone just to watch the screen warn me of low battery before shutting down. With nothing to do and an hour to kill, I glance around.

It’s a colorful sight bevy of ladies with a subtle hint of make-up and men in corporate attire with ID card tags in different colours around the neck and yo-yo s dangling from the belt loops. The ladies dab on some powder and apply some lipstick as they shake out their damp hair to dry. Everyone though present in the same 12.3m * 2.6m bus, they live  in an entirely different world of their own. They lose themselves in their 5”or 13” displays. Some moving their fingers deflty over it typing paragraphs in seconds while others choose to plug in their earphones to be locked out of the world. One is barking instructions into his Bluetooth…  Once in a while, two people smile at each other in a sign of recognition before going back to their world and to maintain that impassive straight face. I wonder what  happened to those endless random bits of stories and political banter that one usually hears in a bus.

There is a strange silence inside punctuated only by the steady punching on the keypad and by the voice of those who haven’t yet mastered the art of talking on the mobile in a low voice and feel the need to shout to be heard. Occassionally, a radio tuned into a local channel is played.  In contrast, whenever the door hisses open, I hear the commotion of the hundreds of vehicles, the continuous honking, the rising dust and the exhausts from the vehicles outside, people cursing the ones blocking the way, the distant ambulance siren and the yelling of the conductors announcing their route and destination.

The outside reminds me of my ever-cluttered messy desk. Vehicles of all sizes awaiting the green signal form a maze that the two wheelers try to get through. It’s amazing to watch some of them maneuver through it. They bend their heads, tilt their bodies and bikes to an angle, change the direction of the mirrors, drive on the pavements … anything, just to get in through the small gap to reach the front. The helmet or the bandana covers their head revealing only the eyes that are concentrating on the road looking for a small opening ahead. The colourful scarfs safe-guarding many a woman’s hair and nose from the pollution leave only the kohled and mascara eyes to be seen. Backpacks of all brands for the laptops and handbags in different colors and sizes demand attention from the onlookers. Tupperware lunch boxes sheathed in bags fitting their size swing from arms and bike handles making me wonder where those good old stainless steel boxes from my high school days that leaked a little bit  and let everyone around know what your lunch was, have gone . Everyone is in a hurry. To cross the road, to catch the bus, to get a seat, to grab something to eat or to reach their destination. Each oblivious to anything and anyone except what’s blocking their way.

In all the hustle and bustle, I suddenly find myself staring at a boy of around 5-6 years. He wore a red and white striped T-shirt and stood in the front, in his dad’s scooty, a carefree happy smile on his face as the cool pleasant wind whipped his hair back, staring ahead into nothing. A peaceful look in his eyes as he enjoyed the weather as his father whizzed past. Living just the moment with no worry about the future or regret about the past. As I get down, I take a few seconds to appreciate the pleasant weather before going my way,  hoping that, atleast he wouldn’t grow up to become part of  “the IT crowd”. 

Monday, 29 September 2014

You will be remembered

It’s almost time. Time to let go. But then, I hold you tight with both my hands. One more time. One last time. A thousand memories flash across my mind.
You were a beauty once. Now, others viewed you as just another, of the older generation. Even with the lines that are now permanently etched on you, you are beautiful to me.

You were there for me day and night. Through thick and thin. You knew the darkest secrets that I shared only with my best friends. You knew the people whom I loved and cared for. You knew about the annoying ones that I tried to ignore.  You knew about my fumbling fingers whenever I texted my crush. You were privy to the list of people, I secretly stalked. Even when you were low yourself, you held out for me and patiently put up with my woeful tales. You have seen me at my best and at my worst. You had held my tears during those miserable nights. The class gossips, those misguided rumours, those useless banters, you patiently listened to them all. When my brother tried to make you spill the beans, you protected me by letting out not a single word. But now, with your memory now entirely gone, I wonder whether you remember all those days.

Though you were never physically strong, I felt safe when you were with me. In those dark alleys with the jeering men, those nights of long travel, I just held on to you tightly. You helped me salvage my relationship with my loved one. You were the constant buffer between me and my mother. You helped me mend many a fight with her. Though my mom knew that you were a necessary part of my life, she thought that you spoilt me a lot. She never had the love for you that I had. Well, She’s old and she will never understand our special bond. She told me that relationships wouldn’t be the same after marriage. You told me that I can always reach out to my friends and proved her wrong.

I could see that you were getting older. Having been with you for a while now, I could see the white lines that have started showing up on your face. You had seen many a bad days and put up with many a bad tempered people. Even when you had hit the rock bottom and no one expected you to survive, you came back, just for me, I believe. I promised myself to take better care of you. But then, soon your memory was no longer enough to hold every change in my life. When I complained to my parents, they told me that I have to accept you the way you had become. You had become dependent on the life support system. We tried replacing a vital  part to extend your life expectancy. But then, in few months, I knew it was all in vain. That your end was near. Others may take your place in my life, but you will always be remembered. Goodbye Dear Sony Xperia Neo V, my first-ever smartphone.

Monday, 15 September 2014

Shattered dreams

With dreams and hopes I walk in
Only to have them shattered within
My imagination was locked out
As the huge door closed shut.

To me, he was the guy next-door
With long dialogues that were never a bore
Though he was witty and smart,
He had many a fault.

But now, a faultless superhero he was
With only one-liners to toss
Though his six pack was a visual treat,
He wasn’t the guy I wanted to meet.

His hopeless love for her I knew about
Which due to his pride, he lost almost
I had shed quite a few tear
When they finally got together.

But now, it seemed like pure lust
And he was just so damn arrogant
Now it was just another
No –different, hot and steamy affair.

Then, the explosions weren’t this loud
Even when I was covered only by my hood.
Then, his enemies weren’t dumb and gruesome
And even they were worth my time.

I empathized with him
When he lost his near and dear
I laughed with him
When his laugh was loud and clear.

But now, I was just a stone-cold observer
Right in the middle of nowhere.
I had fallen for his character
But now, our connection was lost forever.

I ran home to my book,
Which lovingly, into my hands, I took.
It was just another movie,
That didn’t do justice to the masterpiece!

A Foodie's agony

“LOSE 15 KGS IN 6 WEEKS!!” The ad on the page shouted at me until I could no longer ignore it.With sheer curiousity, though a part of my brain knew what it was going to be about, I clicked it. Once my eyes moved past the hot models in skimpy bikinis with the perfect curves and the flattest abs, and read further, I saw that it was about following “A Special diet”. I let out a sigh and logged off.

Foodies and diet plans are eons apart. Still, there is nothing more inspiring than a cousin’s wedding around the corner and when ,even tummy-tucking can’t  get you inside the dress picked out. The nightmarish images of aunts who are going to meet you after months only to tell you that you have gotten fat or the wedding albums in which only you’ll be the pumpkin, does the job.Left with no other option, I take up my diet plan that's hidden away inside my once-upon-a-time-favourite T-shirt that had shrunk over time( or rather the one I have grown out of!).I cringe when I see the rotis and sundals replace my curd rice and vada pavs.

Sticking to the diet when the whole world around you is gorging on yummy, delicious food isn’t easy. Even when walking down the footpath, the bollywood posters with six pack heroes and size zero heroines lose their charm, as the delicious smell of the spicy mashed potatoes, the oil soaked bajjis, the crispy pakodas and vadas , the greasy chicken and the ghee from the sweets waft through the air. Especially,staying in a city where two pani puri and vada pav stalls are closer than the bus stops, following a diet is equivalent to living in hell!

 Staying locked up inside the house and logging into the social media to distract oneself from the salivating mouth or the rumbling stomach doesn’t help either. The news feed turns traitor and it is full of pictures of biriyanis and Manchurians from first-timers or the offshore guys who are just too excited that whenever they cook anything Indian, they can’t  wait to share the pic with the world. Even when then the dishes don’t look that appetizing, their comments make them sound so. Then again, there is this other group on fb that started with updating their location whenever they visited a new country to be later followed by every place outside the town they resided in. This group later moved on to spoiler alerts whenever they were lucky to land up with tickets for the first day show. I can forgive the spoiler-alerts, but when they update where they are eating what, it’s the final straw! Damn you ppl! There are others out there chewing steamed vegetables, telling themselves that its all for the greater good!

And then, there are those “best friends” who  decide to throw a treat only during the small period of the year when you are on a diet! Even when they are timezones away, they make it a point to elaborate about that awesome restaurant that they visited and find it absolutely necessary to describe every dish in detail. When eating the no-cheese sandwich or the zero-oil phulkha, the brain brings back sweet memories of the cheese overflowing pizzas a, the heavily buttered aloo parathas and the grilled chicken with mayo from a lifetime ago.

 Life has its ups and downs. And for women, when they are depressed, nothing works better than shopping or  sharing a cup of hot chocolate and a high-calorie ice cream while bitching about life with a girl pal. When on diet, shopping has its cons too! The KFCs and McDonalds in the malls throw their doors wide open and trust their fried chickens to do the marketing. Even if one can walk past them without a glance, they don’t stand a chance against the street food. On a cold evening, while fighting the way through throngs of people , even if the steam from the pan where the Pav Bhaji masala is heated and the hot  yellow jiggery-dripping glassy jalebis evade the eyes, the loud hiss as the buns are roasted till golden brown makes heads turn.

There is always the occasional “cheat meal” without which surviving a diet is near to impossible. Well… at the end of a few weeks, when the weighing machine shows something satisfactory and the curve- hugging jeans gives a thumbs up, the entire ordeal feels worthwhile. Anyways, the wedding is here and I can finally gobble down some laddoos and jalebis in peace.

Friday, 12 September 2014

Despair not, dear girl!

Brush away that tiny tear
And wake up from despair!
Cos your knight in shining armour
Is out there or just next-door.

Maybe as an introverted,oiled, smart nerd
Or the bespectacled computer geek
Or the adventure-loving crazy dude
He's just out there or right beside...

He might not be Prince Charming
But he sure will be caring..
He might not be adorned in riches
But he sure knows u r priceless.

Around you, he wouldn't be a self-obsessed narcisst
Or, act like a big time chauvnist!
He'll always put you first
Even when he knows your worst!

He' ll let you fly in the air
Only to pull u back a moment later
He 'll put up with your whims and fancies
Not to mention your crazy stories.

He may not say " I love you" everyday
But will show it in his own way.
PMS, periods will scare him a bit
But still, besides you, he ll sit through it.

When you both quarrel and argue
Your tears will be his cue,
To apologize and sort out
Even when he was right.

Despair not and have some faith
For he will be worth the wait!
Cos somewhere out there, near or far
Is your knight in shining armour.