Eavesdropping

So, I was talking to my mom on the phone the other day. Less than five minutes later, I could hear the landline ringing in her background and I could tell she really wanted to get it. In my mother’s world, whether on the cell or the landline, with caller ID and missed call information or without, in the middle of something important or not, letting the phone ring is JUST NOT DONE. It’s like a betrayal, a royal snub, utter neglect in what maybe a moment of great emergency for someone and so on. So. I just knew she wanted to get it. I stayed on hold, because I guessed it would be someone not in too big a hurry (whowouldathunk!) and she would tell them that she would call back, as happens 99% of the times.

Here’s what I heard of the conversation that happened:

Hello! HELLO! Ji, main hi bol rahi hoon. Yes. (pause). No. (pause). No beta, I don’t need a credit card. (pause). Oh, you’re giving it free? Oh accha. What are the terms and conditions? (long pause). What does that mean? (this was said a 1000 times in succession). How? (another 1000 times). Accha, I will discuss with my kids about this. (long-ish pause) Sorry beta, I really don’t need one and I can’t confirm right away. (CHEERFUL) Thank You!

Yes, the poor telemarketing guy/ lady would have been in a continuous facepalming mode post this. But, ladies and gentlemen, the great “who talks to these random telemarketers that they’re still so hopeful on these calls?”mystery stands solved.

Summer Blues

All I need on a hot summer day is

1. a large trayful of cut-up, frozen watermelon sprinked with black salt

2. a mildly interesting book, preferably without a murder plot

3. a cotton kurta worn over a 100 times, with a mismatched patiala salwar

4. a rom-com on TV, to ease my heat-battered brain cells

5. a cold shower, followed by an extra-long nap

6. homemade cold coffee

.. and I’m a happier person.

What do you do to beat the heat?

Happy Weekend!

Been quite a while since I really sat down to write. Lately, everything I’ve put up here has been to let off the steam, don’t you think? Today as well, there isn’t much I have to share. Except maybe catch up with you guys here.

I’ve been spending time with my cousin and her kids all of last week. What fun it’s been! Her 7-year old is visiting India after a long time, and thinks camel rides are “fweaky” and that Indian food is “just too red” 😀 Between that and work and the flu bug and a whirlwind trip to Delhi in between, I’m pretty exhausted and looking forward to the weekend rather desperately. One thing I’m rather proud of is that I haven’t given up on the gym, because usually that’s the first ball to be dropped! Yesterday was another of those landmark (read: very close to murder) workouts, where I finished 6.25 kms on the elliptical and the treadmill put together, in under 40 mins. For me, it IS an achievement of sorts. Instead of being elated, I always second guess things and find some warped way of convincing myself that it was all a fluke. This mostly summarizes my reaction to most of my small happinesses in life, I’ve discovered. Very self-deprecatory attitude, and I’m hating this.

Oh, by the way, I watched Udaan. And though I’m still totally in awe of Inception and Nolan, I have to say Udaan is one of those movies you shouldn’t miss just because a bigger, more hyped and marketed movie is on right now.. you’ll regret it. Here’s a track I love from the movie:

Ah, right now, all I need is a very big fat mug of ginger tea, and a guilt-free chocolatey something.

What’s your news, people?

In Which We Inflict Boredom Upon Thee

I have nothing much to say and yet there’s a bunch of ideas. It’s disturbing that I keep writing posts which jump from one random thought to another. It’s especially disturbing since I’ve submitted my blog for review here. (Yes, I do plan on putting up their review on the blog, however good or bad humbling it turns out to be, but don’t hold your breath).

So my mind flits unabashed till the day they receive that they asked for. Here’s what I have – my garbled thoughts:

  1. After a WHILE of resisting it, I’m realizing that FB birthday wishes are not such a bad thing after all. I held the grudge this long because I think it’s a sweet gesture to earmark a birthday in our mental calendar. In a typical setting of technology automating human effort, one little widget was wiping off the figment of our care for family and friends (not to mention, an exercise in keeping good memory). It also makes people forget about calling or even texting you on your birthday and it’s probably killing Hallmark, but I do realize now that it’s sometimes a thing to look forward to that people you haven’t spoken to in a year or two, will see that one update in the side window and will leave a message without the awkwardness that may come with a phone call. Like your boyfriend from 10 years back. And maybe, the figment of our care got tinier and we should be thankful for what we get.
  2. I have no work at the office. This has more or less been the case since I returned from the vacation. This is NOT a bad thing. I know I risk sounding like someone who wants to get paid for browsing the net all day, but I would hate you if you guilt me for this. Because 1. It almost never happened to me in all of 2 years of working in this place. 2. It’s needed. 3. It’s not my fault.
  3. My brother has been down with jaundice since last week. He’s such an attention freak! My mother, who loves to find something to worry about, is obviously super tense. But she told me this morning that she is very tired. I had this strange feeling you get when someone behaves out-of-character. My mother never says she is tired. It’s making me sad. And I really wish I was in Delhi.
  4. Of all things that one can do to make themselves feel cheerful, my favourite is grocery shopping. I spent a glorious hour at Hypercity on Sunday morning, and cold cuts and cracked pepper cheese made my day better. At the same time, I hate Big Bazaar because of the ugly ‘Buy 4, Get 1 Free!’ humongous packs of everything they stock. When it comes to good things, less is more.
  5. Friday – the husband’s birthday – was spent well. A chocolate cake, an X-box and a new watch made the boy happy. The weather played along, and it rained through the evening. We got a new car too and drove off for a family dinner while trying to figure out the dashboard buttons. Much fun!
  6. As far as my career is concerned, I could well have made a job out of staring at a wall and still managed more “job satisfaction” than I do currently. I should really quit. If there ever was a reason to stay, I can’t seem to find it in my head right now. Mostly because my head is full of reasons why I should not stay and why I should never have stayed.
  7. I seem to be getting the hang of Twitter finally. But s.l.o.w.l.y. Interestingly, I think of it like TV watching. I just read what other people have to say, and I almost never comment or reply. I feel tweeting is like shouting into space. In 140 characters, ofcourse.
  8. Yesterday, I suddenly recalled the incident that happened just before my wedding. We were on the train to Kolkata where the wedding happened, and we met this pesky guy who claimed to know palmistry. Many people from my entourage got giddy with excitement, and I buried my nose even deeper in my book. He, however, politely declined most and said he was not comfortable with saying unpleasant things in public to anyone. I giggled. He then asked to read my palm. And the relatives (who can’t leave anyone alone) did the whole “Haanji, batao batao” thing. I am sure he guessed it from the way I was vehemently trying to dissuade everyone from making me do this, but he spoke at length about my temper. Or the ugliness of it. (So much for not wanting to say unpleasant things.) And he ended it with “Don’t lose temper at your wedding. It won’t be good.” And it really wasn’t pretty. Oh well.
  9. Remember I wrote about my fitness plan hoping you, the readers, would kick my ass if I tried to go the ‘Fat Is In!’ route again? No? So much for blogging and accountability. Anyway, here’s an update. The gymming has been fun-tastic. In the manner of desperate boasting, let me bring to your notice that I went to the gym thrice even while on holiday. Slap me or cheer me! We did that because it helps stay motivated after coming back and not like “What’s the point? I neutralized so much effort in the last week”. Also, it helps hold on to that tiny shred of dignity upon return, when the trainer orders you to squat x 75. The eating is however a whole different story. It involves buffets, chocolate cake and biryanis. Today is the day we do crunches and other ab exercises. Or the day I pray harder.
  10. Like I said, I have no work and that always means more time online. That, for me, means discovering more blogs. Blogging makes me believe I’m so different from and so similar to so many people in the world. It makes me crystallize my own thoughts on things I’d likely never have spent time thinking on my own. I read somewhere that reading on varied abstract topics expands the mind, making it more tolerant and absorbing. I can safely say that reading the blogs I read does that job as well as the books I read.
  11. Speaking of reading, I’ve been trying to organize my reading habit. No buying more books before the ones I have, have been read. No picking up a new book before the one I’m reading is done with. Will you believe me if I say I still haven’t finished reading A Suitable Boy? I love that book but it weighs a ton, and can’t be travelled with. So. But will set that straight soon.
  12. Speaking of being organized, I re-arranged my closet and the book shelf on Saturday. I then also tried to de-tangle the wire-bunch that I had been procrastinating on, for weeks. Gave up. Anyway, this fixing-what-ain’t-broke kind of cleaning I do is like an obsession. Does anyone else here believe folding clothes is strangely calming? What anti-depressants do you recommend?
  13. I really didn’t want to write a long post about a mishmash of things today. And look now! Point no.13! I knew I should have done a tag instead.
  14. Every time I go shopping, I end up buying stuff very similar to what I have. Does it happen to everyone? Like you *think* you know what looks good on you, and you buy a lot of that? Just to break the cycle, I decided to NOT go to the same stores I visit, the last time I went shopping. Guess what? I didn’t like anything. So then I got some silver necklace like the kinds I’ve never worn before. Baby steps.
  15. I crave home-cooked rajma chawal almost everyday. Our very Bengali cook does not know how to buy/ cook “Raujmoh”. Sigh! So that’s one more thing to put on my To-Do-In-Delhi list.
  16. The last two days have been cloudy but it refuses to rain. We’re walking around, looking up at the sky in anticipation. Still, I don’t want to be complaining because folks in Delhi have it worse than us, and also because it’s always heavily cloudy when I’m on my way to work and back. That is anyday better than being in the car when it’s sunny.
  17. My MIL hasn’t been feeling well the last few days. It’s very different seeing her being so down and out. For the last year and a half I’ve known her, I’ve always seen her up and about. Gardening, cooking, cleaning. Sickness in the family pulls me down easiest.
  18. I just remembered I have two C&H books I got from Bangalore to read. And I still haven’t watched Raavan. Is it THAT bad? Okay, if I HATE Bachchan Jr. and can JUST ABOUT tolerate his wife, how bad will it be to watch it just for Mani Ratnam and AR Rahman? Never mind, I know I’ll have to see it to conclude on that.
  19. What is a really good time to run a 5K in, on the treadmill? And what is really lousy? I just want to know so that I can put on the blog how much time I take. Give me numbers, somebody!
  20. I’m off now. Thanks for bearing this. Do tell what’s up with you. As you can see, you can really go all out and not worry about order / significance here 🙂

A little right and a little left does not get me to the centre

Does the word ‘consumerist’ trigger an automatic denial in your mind, or at the very least, make you push a bit of guilt aside? To me, it does. I think I read about the “ugly” mall-and-multiplex culture again last week, and I *knew* the author was talking to me. Still, I simply looked around and tsk-tsked cluelessly. Metaphorically, that is.

Let’s see why that’s so. My hairdresser peddles to me potions and sprays I thought I never needed. My groceries don’t come from the thela-walla anymore. I don’t know the address of the nearest tailor or the nearest boutique –wali, like my mother. My Janpath-syle bargaining power has rusted, as my purchasing power went up. The shoes are hardly ever the kolhapuris or mojaris. Malls are my getaways. I use the words “my” and “I” a lot. For “I” am a consumer, and every 100-ft. hoarding wants my eyeballs. They tell me I’m important. Most important, in fact. They tell me I deserve the best. And just like that, they nudge that one pronoun “I” to the highest position in my mind.

Can you see how my mind started recognizing the denial it puts itself in, and then changed tracks to blaming the dope-peddler? Let me start over. What I’m trying to say, or admit, is that I’m rightist. More than a little right off the centre, if you will. The advertising boom didn’t make me so. I always was a rightist. Even when I had no money of my own, I was just that. Governed by the prettiness of the toys. Saving the frilly frocks for a birthday. Searching for jewellery that’s not obviously-junk. The little ways a penniless jobless individual can induct herself into a lifelong commitment to capitalism.

Just in case you’re struggling to know which side of the centre you lie in, the final answer will come to you in finding what the basic, stripped-of-all-conditioning, earliest premise of your ambitions has been. I always wanted to be a doctor who owned a hospital. Or an army office who ordered 50 more sit-ups. Or a pilot who took all the risk, and was rewarded suitably. (All that was until I learnt what an MBA is.) Suffices to say I never set out on a journey in which the prospect of not knowing where my next meal came from, was particularly appealing. There was money to be made, India was rising and I was the last person to applaud from the sidelines. A die-hard competitor who, in retrospect, has never stopped and been grateful for the headstart she had on similar 12-year olds who shine shoes and sell flowers for a living.

So yes, there happens to be that unshakable shadow of Marx in all of us. No, this paragraph isn’t meant for redemption for things I so flaunt in the previous few paragraphs. All I’m saying is that once in a while, when you look for a dustbin to dump the popcorn you paid 100 bucks for, because it has too much cheese, your conscience may be struck unawares by the hungry hands that grab the packet before it hits the bin’s base. Or when you pray for peace (Left is largely anti-war). Or when the feminist in you gets the better of you (Left is also more inclined towards recognizing and working for sexual equality.)

Those are the times when the subdued Leftist in you grins and holds her jhola a little tighter, even if it means loosening her grip over the shopping bags.

Just when you’re getting used to being anti-establishment and itching to ‘give back to the world’, you find yourself bunched with red revolutionaries and what are traditionally called “unrealists”. Anti-progressivists. You’re struck with visions of a burning Wall Street and a jubiliant Dantewada. You try to imagine how Jute Chappals would win against High Heels.

High Heels always win. Always. No matter how I sound to a budding Maoist, no war was ever won without an unquestioning belief in the collective reason to fight it in the first place. Capitalism is driven by the unquestioned sum of our individual desires for “more”. A common love leftist ideologies lack desperately. Maybe the Naxalites have found something to be strongly and impulsively passionate about, or maybe, they need to wait a couple of decades to see how naturally it comes to their future generations.

Where does that leave ME though? A little right and a little left. A revolutionary at heart, who finds comfort in order? Or a conservative toeing the line, daring to be romantic?

I don’t know.

What inspired my gibberish?: A shoe-shiner working multiple shifts on a rainy day outside the new Zara store @ Palladium, Phoenix Mills.

Ketchup

What you looking around for? Ketchup = my new-fangled witty take on “Catch Up”. Zimble! (Simple!)

That witty and brainy peice of #### apart, here’s waving you salaams from my old rattled desk, peeps!

I’m back. This isn’t a post where you’ll find the pics. Before you yell out your war cry, the pictures are a’-coming. I need some time for that. This post, then, is just a compilation of general patent roobish like the ones you find scattered throughout the archives. Here goes:

Mauritius is a byoootyfulll country (indulge me if you’ve heard that before, pliss). Enough for me to misspell and contort the word ‘beautiful’ for exaggeration, EVEN in the wake of the Red Marker Blogathon. That’s saying a lot! Now where was I? Oh yes! All you see in Mauritius, for long stretches, is sugarcane fields, floating white clouds, thatched rooftops or tall mountains. Mauritians look Indian, and they speak Bhojpuri and French! How cool is that? If you’re visiting from Bombay, your paisa would have been vasooled at this point! No? Then you could head out to one of the beaches. Or stuff your face with fresh fish and seafood. Or go parasailing. Or just vegetate in one of the pool chairs reading a book. I, ladies and gentlemen, did all of the above.

 Am I the only one who feels that our jobs are in our lives so that we can appreciate holidays more? For if I was loafing around in my shorts all day, I don’t think I would gulp down the Mauritian air like oxygen was going out of fashion. Yet, make no mistakes, I mentally drafted colorful and elaborate resignation notes on the flight back.

 In other words, funnn was hadddd!

Just before I left, I saw that Newmumontheblock had presented me with a blog award. I had simply no time to write a post to thank her for that. Plus, one can’t really write a post jumping up and down. Sooo, here it is, now that the awardee’s jumping has subsided (a bit):

Thank you, New Mum! 🙂

But all that aside, I’m back to where I started. My rattled old desk, which is ack-shoo-ally a hotdesk. I’m back to being a consultant, back to giving advice on things I have no business to be advising on because well, I have no business. How elated I am about coming to work may be summed up more eloquently if I just tell you that when I entered the office in my tanned avatar on Friday, the first person I saw was this lady who I notice has acquired a new neck support sort of thing (very very common in our office, everyone’s wearing either this or some sort of a back support thingie) who asked me “Arrey, what happened to you.. so blackkkkk!” How I love being backkkk, or not!

Book read in the meanwhile: Eat Pray Love. I can say that it’s the most readable book ever written about a spiritual journey, for people like you and me. Because if you’re anything like me, the over-the-top technical books on meditation and spirituality keel you and bring out the “sinner” in you 😀 Looking forward to the movie now.

Movies watched: Rajneeti and Robin Hood. Watch for Ranbir Kapoor and Russell Crowe.

What’s up with you? Is it raining where you are? Here, it is! And I simply cannot concentrate on anything right now. The rains! They make Bombay tolerable.. just imagine!

Where My Bitches At?

Don’t worry. I believe such language encourages the breeding of camaraderie. What, you don’t? Well, ok “where my lovelies at?” Okay then.

You know, what the agenda of THIS post is. It’s to be so frickin’ random and giddily happy and as Phoebe would say Santa-Claus-In-Disneyland-On-Prozac-Getting-Laid-ish that for a moment you’ll all read this and will be like “The world isn’t such a bad place for me. Look at this one here: poor thing lost it!” Because I think I need it. Because I think all of us do. I need it because I’ve been around the real world and the blog world all of last week that both have so much WRONG and INJUSTICE to point out, it’s becoming more and more strenuous for me to drown their voices out by just sticking my head in a sand pit.

What sort of a selfish person I must be, not feeling the pain of global warming related cyclones and volcanoes (that need a daak naam badly) and gender issues and marriage issues and childbirth issues and relocation issues, right? The fed-up sort of selfish person is what this blogger is. It’s not because we need to avoid these things, but because we need to acknowledge them beside all that’s good and dandy is what I feel. And instead, we’re all so busy digging up new dirt on the world we’re almost tempting it to behave more fucked up than it is (I studied psychology too. So there)

For example, someone I know (and can only hope doesn’t read this blog) ruined my mid-day work-can-go-take-a-hike tea break yesterday by going on and on and on about how the Chalta Hai attitude in India is what is pulling us down. I nodded and nodded and then because I realized my tea had gone cold all because of all the nodding I was having to do all the while, I got very pissed off (it takes me only that much of a realization. Am I not a sweetheart?) I asked him why he thinks we’re all so chalta hai types? Monologue begins: Oh look at the roads and the water supply, nothing works, govt. and municipality can’t care less. Look at the trains and rat-infested stations. Look at the safety issues my girlfriend faces in Delhi. Look at how education system is so screwed, and everyone is sending their kids abroad. Basically, look at the sky, and how it’s falling on our heads. I felt really overwhelmed. Guilty – for wanting to pick up a fight with this guy, for all his genuine reasons. Over-optimistic – for wanting to deny his frustrations. And all I mustered up was “But these are governing issues. Are there other countries in the world that don’t have either these or something worse or something much better but still not good enough? Do they also call it “Chalta Hai” “attitude”? At the risk of sounding like I want to pass off our helplessness as our perseverance, is it so hard to believe that this is what keeps us going and facing life like it needs to be lived? Japan is one of those nations that are better off than us. Much better off. I think they even have robots singing lullabies to the kids, and their kids even agree to sleep to that. And it has the highest suicide rate in the world. And in India, people hang off moving trains, buses, eat one square meal, do back-breaking physical work with little machinery, feed 4-5 mouths on an average and still snore in their sleep. Good that whatever it is, chalta hai. Nahi chalta to kya hota boss.” He said “Get back to work, kid. You’re so romantic in your ideas. People like you give our governments an extra long rope to hang themselves from.” I thought he was right at some level, but I thought that whatever I said helps me not lose my mind. Fed-up sort of selfish, remember?

Well well, back to the giddy happiness. I watched some rather art-imitates-life-and-life-is-shitty movies the last few days. Reviews (you may not want to call them that) are as below:

Housefull: Sajid Khan, you were never funny. We didn’t need a supremely idiotic movie like this one to come to this conclusion, but you decided we did. And we, buoyed by your confidence, did too. Of course, you had all the ingredients:

Jiah I-stripteased-and-now-you-even-want-me-to-act??!! Khan.

Deepika I-raided-my-4-year-old-niece’s-wardrobe Padukone.

Lara I’m-emotionally-unprepared-to-be-seen-as-older-than-these-PYTs Dutta.

Riteish I’m-Bollywood’s-resident-homophobe-yippeeee Deshmukh.

Arjun my-brooding-look-ate-up-all-other-facial-expressions Rampal.

Akshay this-is-the-audience’s-punishment-for-not-liking-Chandni-Chowk-to-China-guess-what?-this-is-the-same-movie-with-a-different-name Kumar.

Boman I-also-need-to-earn-money-why-else? Irani

It’s not them. Not just them, I mean. It’s also that the lot of you should learn to differentiate between a script and an asswipe. No, I wouldn’t recommend learning that from your big sister, Sajid.

Iron Man 2: Mommy, could you get that old stove down for me now? I’m thinking I could get that New Element Whatchamacallit out by Sunday because Saturday’s relatively free for me. We’d need to then send them a memo to do something about that periodic table thingie – it really needs to catch up, for we now have *drumrolls* “The Technology”.

Really now!? And the whole deal with Iron Man smashing bottles for his birthday party? That, for the record, is going to count as The Thing that scarred me and put me off superhero movies f.o.r.e.v.e.r. What could we have next, Spiderman stripping for the masses mid-air? People at Marvel, here’s a tip: Spiderman ain’t no Jiah Khan!

Badmaash Company: This one is complicated. A little. Because I have a crush on both Anushka Sharma and Shahid Kapur. I pretty much ignored the predictability of the plot and the utter stupidity of the whole disguise-to-con thing, because there was.. ahem.. so much to see. If you aren’t that silly, don’t go for it.

Wharrelse? Oh yes. Since you don’t know nearly enough about me and my life, I thought I’d keep you updated with its other (much uglier) aspects as well. (You CAN click on the X on top right side and RUN also). I have, sort of, completed my transition to being a gym rat. No no, that does not mean you’re reading the blog of an Anushka Sharma’s body double (that’s also partly because if a clone of mine stood on my shoulders, we’d still together not reach her height.)

Any case, some time back, I stopped being cool with being fat. The fact that my family has gifted me with genes that contain diabetes, osteoporosis, blood pressure and other assorted goodies waiting to be activated any day, makes it even harder to be cool with it. So, for a while now, I have been making small changes to change my lifestyle. It’s harder than I thought. It’s harder than failing your exams. It’s harder than being able to say No. It’s also harder than picking up the pieces to get a move on. Because it’s a combination of all these and more. Two things that make it easier are Encouragement and Accountability. Blogging helps with both. I feel very encouraged when I read this or this. And the decision to talk about this on the blog will hopefully take care of the accountability bit.

Here’s the little bit I have managed so far: From being the unbeatable couch potato, I am now in a place where I try to get to the gym 4 times a week. It means getting back home at 9 pm, and then going to the gym too, but I don’t feel all that tired or sorry for myself anymore. I carry lunch to work, and don’t end up eating the oil-with-veggies our office caterers serve us. I don’t stock chocolate in my fridge, there’s no other way around this one, I lived and learnt. I don’t snack on rubbish now, when hunger strikes between meals (the hardest part for me. By far!) The easiest part was to give up wafers and fizzy drinks, since I wasn’t big on them any way. That’s been my little journey so far, which I’m making look like I won the Oscar. But it’s only because someone will read it and be inspired enough to check out the neighbourhood gym today. Or that there’ll be someone who’d exchange notes with me, and tell me what I’m doing wrong. Or that there’ll be the rest of you who’d kick my butt when I quietly remove the label ‘Fitness’ from my tag cloud in the middle of the night one day.

More happy stuff is that I shall be off for a vacation in 10 odd days, *fingers crossed*. Once the leave and all the peripheral stuff goes as planned, I shall be writing more about that.

What’s up at your end, lovelies?

PS: I just noticed how this post is as much within parentheses, as outside of them. Respect for you all, who read this stuff!