Monday, June 30, 2008

Lean your unclean on me



i remember this episode from Friends, when Rachel makes Monica in-charge of making all future decisions for her, after a spate of some spectacularly bad ones (obviously involving men!).

i wish i could do the same! alas, life ain't a sitcom and although i have equally messed up uber-loyal and infinitely dependable friends; unfortunately i was born with a pre-programmed "take-responsibility-for-your-actions" microchip, embedded in the depths of my conscience. the masochistic logic behind this irritant, according to me, is that i can never blame anyone else for my variegated foibles. but it is times like the ones i am currently living in that make me yearn otherwise...

so it is that i was fascinated by a story in the TOI that talks about a hat-ke outsourcing firm, that tackles your dirty jobs for you. AskSunday, and its Indian avatar GetFriday, can break up with your girlfriend, cancel your date, and perhaps do sundry other "don't-wish-to-getcha-hands-dirty" stuff for you, while you sit in your storm shelter, with curtains drawn, and pretend not to be home.

wow! why didn't I think of that one before... given my penchant for gettin' down and dirty ;)

Saturday, June 28, 2008

A montage of memories


its amazing how clearly i can remember the first day i met most of my school friends... the ones that continue to matter, that is. and every day that passes by seems to salute my choice... and theirs, i hope!

whether it was "Blongdie" who offered to hold my hand as we walked, double file, to classes while i was still new enough to be wearing 'home clothes', and whose cute giggles still lighten up a gloomy day; or "Brilliantis" in pink 'home clothes' who joined us a few hours before we were leaving for a camping trip to the jungles of UP, and with whom i sat chatting as a one-year veteran, sharing my insights of a boarding life away from the ordinary; ever the perfectionist (as well as the undisputed "Empress of Erudition"), these days i am teaching her how to be messier, starting with gleefully throwing a scrunched up napkin on the table after some fine dining!

and then there is "Mother Mary" my 'new girl' mentor all those years ago, and now good friend, who continues to enlighten me, however unwittingly, fervent in her belief that all sinners can be saved! outrageous as she sometimes can be, i know few who are so resolved in their insanity!!

and then there are those who are closest to my heart, the ones i simply can't do without, but whom i have no recollection of meeting for the first time! yet there are shared recollections that are burned in my memory, either as a one-flash imprint that somehow defines our friendship, or a montage of memories...

.....like how as two 12-year olds, "Aloofus" and i sat in a sandpit and planned our then-oh-so-far-and-now-s0-upon-us future. it still amazes me how she went straight from the sandpit to swanky banker in the bat of an eyelid, or so it seems after all these years. oh! how she used to endlessly worry about marrying a geek and not being invited to our parties on account of a dull spouse! for the record, he turned out ok :) and she turned out to be more than that - the intellectually rock-solid dispeller of doubts and one of the best things that ever happened to me... in her banal view of life, i sometimes find the key to truly living it up!

and then there is "Vanity Insanity", whose sheer delight in being alive is a rare commodity in these moody times. i can never repay her enough for being there, every other sinister night, to sleepily stand guard while i went to get a mid-night drink of water under the creepy pitter-patter of the flying fox that mysteriously resided somewhere on the roof.... alas! she has not been all that generous about not stealing my "baby boy name" ;) oh, she is quick to remind me that i can't hoard baby names forever with no intention of having one soon, and in any case, what the heck!
together we were the three members of a girl band that was a flash hit in those days, constantly trying to appropriate the cooler character for ourselves ! oh, but these two are the joy of my life, my rudder and lighthouse, anchor and lifeguard all rolled into one.

then there was "Still Waters", with her nose buried in some pretense or the other to be left alone, who would get distracted just long enough to tsk tsk my latest madness (most often of the Martian variety), but who would dutifully risk extending her hand across our neighbouring beds, in the bitter January nights, to calm my petrified nerves after yet another nightmare.... of course, i have to mention "Dusky Sarco", super-mommy as she is now better known, whose volatile "on-off" friendship kept me guessing for years, and which, thankfully, i can now fall back on with eyes closed... nothing like a little crisis to help you separate the tharra from the Single Malt!


i cannot afford to forget my bawling partner-in-crime, "Chin Up", even though there was nothing criminally insane about her singing as was the case with mine, as we traversed the tennis courts after dinner each night, till we had finally chased away the others.... or "Primarella" who shunned all recreational activity till her bed was crisply made, clothes freshly laundered and hair dutifully washed, till she fell in love and found a new reason to sit on her freshly made bed and write neat, primly passionate poetry to her beau.. basically what she lacked in the hectic socialising department, she made up for with her earthy charm, thus becoming the first to cross the finishing line in ensnaring an "official" boyfriend in our last year.

or "La Vagua" whose inner thoughts remain a mystery to all even to this day, but to whom i owe a great debt in terms of some of my best "out-of-school" moments (countless crackling Diwalis and vibrant Holis) as also for being connected through the same gene pool to my first big-girl crush, thus introducing me to my very first blushes... sigh...sigh.... i never did find out what she thought of my childish obsession and i presume her poker face continues to befuddle her two kids! good for them!!

and then there are those who lived in a different hemisphere at school and are now an inseparable part of my world, like the "Cheeky Chica" who constitutded the other half of our Joke Club at college, shared my gushy sentiments for toothless Mason from Santa Barbara and has, over the years, taught me how to take things in my stride without being too strident about it all. Grace in mayhem. Amen!

at a time when my life has taken a tumble for the topsy-turvy, it is the protagonists of these memories who have kept me afloat, never asking why and silently shouldering my pain when it gets too much to carry alone, splashing my darker moments with the luminescence of their outrageous theories and generally kicking my butt when i get too morose!

words are weak stilts on which to build my eulogies. thanks for loving me as i am: cheerfully imperfect, and incorrigibly messed up.



Friday, June 27, 2008

The Motorcycle Diaries



(This is the first piece I attempted for the Edit Page, which finally got edited beyond recognition. The newer version was, admittedly pacier.... but here's mine anyway!)


Pictures of CPI leader A B Bardhan and I&B Minister Priya Ranjan Dasmunsi, riding pillion on a motorcycle conjured up images of the legendary Che Guevara. The impulse to hit the country roads on a two-wheeler might have struck Mr. Bardhan later than it did his incendiary ideological cousin, and might never inspire a movie; it’s possible that the octogenarian leader is looking for a few thrills before he steps down in favour of young guns.

In the era of aerial surveys, one can’t help but admire the earthiness of the veteran leader, and with oil straining the coffers at close to140 dollars a barrel, a motorcycle seems like a definite improvement on a cushy airplane. But he might as well have gone the whole hog on a bullock cart to really identify with the aam aadmi.

Besides, with the various speedbreakers that he and his esteemed colleagues have been busy building on the policymaking front, one could have expected Comrade Bardhan to at least have worn a helmet. At the same time, it is heartening to note that he has finally found common ground with at least one of his UPA buddies, also seen throwing caution to the winds riding side saddle without a helmet.

While their individual road trips are commendable in an age of hands-off politics, one wonders if our leaders even care about the message they are sending out to impressionable young minds. Oh, and are the traffic cops watching?

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Swirling Mists


the city is awash with early rains. yes, its the monsoon and its here already, splashing the dusty streets with the force of its benevolence. but hey, wait, this is not what i expected, i say, as i look at my own life and how it is suddenly afloat, with nary a raft in sight. the deluge wasn't supposed to be here yet, i'm not prepared, my storm shelter is still a jumble of crooked lines crisscrossing a soggy canvas...