Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Really Touched

Can't say I'm eagerly looking forward to the New Year. Primarily because I am faced with the harsh reality that it' s time for my baby doll to graduate to school already. And even before she can start going to one, it's trying and testing times for both N and me. (*shudder in fear*) Hang on a minute, more for me than for N, considering his supreme dodging skills.
The first school to distribute forms in the new year is the one I really want G to go to. For two reasons - first and most important: Despite its reputation as a premier school, the interviewers don't brazenly ask for a hefty donation to extend the school complex(at least that's what I last heard) or build a state-of-the-art-indoor sports auditorium etc etc. Second, it's not too far from home (she'll be just three, can't send her off on a bumpy tour of potholed Bangalore, yet!).
And you know how it feels when you really ever want something in life? Dunno about others, but I can feel the pangs of fear, of insecurity; I can feel those butterflies fluttering in my stomach and I am totally disoriented at the thought of having to go and stand in a queue from the night before. And more so, ever since I realised the date coincides with N's impending trip to Cal that very weekend to be with his beloved NRI sister. He could've postponed or preponed it, had we owned a private Jet. But since he has to rely on Jet Airways, ATM, and adjust with his busy new-business-pitch schedule, I really can't blame him.
But, the moment I voice my concerns, very matter-of-factly to R and a surprise caller, the Bagchi, they are both only too keen to pitch in. I mean not everyone would be forthcoming to sacrifice their precious weekend sleep to stand in the queue for/with a nail-biting, hypertensive woman, irrespective of whether she's a friend or an acquaintance. I mean after all, it's my baby, her impending careerIn a strange land, full of strange people, with strange demands, I 'm really touched by their offer. Call it parochial Bong bonding, call it the warmth and the greatness only Bengalis are capable of, call it pati Bangali sentu on my me names...but once again it's Q.E.D. that friends make a world of difference, no matter which part of the universe you are in. It's not just what they do but what they do differently that really makes the difference.
The independent, egoistic, no-obligations bitch that I am, I'll probably spend the night on the road with 500 other weary-eyed eager parents, but a special thanks to both of you for just being there. Feeling very lucky today.
Looks like I have a way with people, huh(*wink, wink*)?

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Operation Majnu

Operation Majnu --That's what the maverick Meerut police liked to call it. And mayhem is what struck young lovers in Gandhi Park, completely out of the blue. A podgy peeved policewoman caught couples unawares and started physically and verbally abusing the women for the most innocuous crime commited: Falling in Love.
Now, we are quite aware that from time immemorial falling in love has been considered a crime. The repurcussions of the folly have ranged from incurring the wrath of at least 1 of our 33 crore supernatural beings to at least one of the more natural biological beings (read parents); to murder; to suicide; to transmogrification...Alas, how would the Hindi film industry and Ekta Kapoor have survived otherwise!
And all this irrespective of whether you have fallen for the most beautiful/handsome or otherwise, highly educated/drop-out, well-to-do/pauper opposite sex. Everyone except the two concerned turn the most illogical, unreasonable moral guardians you could ever dream of. Parents of course turn into your worst enemies, in most cases, and then there are the neighbours, relatives, wellwishers, blah ,blah,blah...suddenly every one wants the best and only the best for you. At any other given point of time, all these "best wishers" are no where to be seen of course. But the point here is these are emotional black mailers, moral consultants, legal advisors ... ( ok I understand parents resrt to physical abuse, too.)
To get back to where it all started..Gandhi Park. From the TV footages and reports, it was apparent that the policewoman just randomly picked couples (some even married) and slapped and booted the women for sitting and coochi-cooing in public places. I mean, what could they have been doing? Holding hands, ok, kissing at the most. Just exercising their constitutional right to freedom of expression. (Has the word expression been defined anywhere in the constitution?) Some social activists shared my thoughts, but Ms Kiran Bedi, our erstwhile national moral guardian begged to differ “No, sometimes these couples do indulge in obscenities under the shawl”. Under the shawl, did she say? Pray, then how is it obscene? Can anyone see anything? It’s under the shawl, right? What would they do to Emraan Hashmi and his women, John and Bipasha, Mallika and Jackie Chan, Shahid-Kareena, Riya Sen- Ashmit Patel??
What would happen to the luvbirds of Victoria Memorial, Maidan, Lake(south Calcutta), JU jheeler paar( pond side) and sundry other goli-galtas(clandestine lanes/bylanes)?
This paucity of private space is not just a physical problem in our country but a sociological one, too. Whether while trying your luck out in college or even as married couples living with parents (in-law), we often encounter the problem in our lives. For instance, unless you are the kid of working parents and have a spare key to the house, or you are one of the few with a swell of a friend who lends out his bedroom, or you are among those late starters who finds a soul mouse, oh sorry, mate, only after clearing the CAT (Ohm projapottoy namaha-IIMC, since, as per my knowledge, it had the highest hit rate;-)), or any other hostel for that matter, you don’t really have access to a very private place to do very private things. Privacy is a luxury we have to pay a high price for.

So where does one let loose the spontaneous outburst of powerful feelings? In public. But to be beaten black and blue and abused so that TV cameras can freeze the frames, play and replay the scenes so viewers can see, bite, chew and digest the atrocity. The funniest thing is some other police(wo?)men from the same police station called the Press to capture the moment, because they thought they were doing a “good thing”. Am a bit conphoosed.
But then I’m confused about a lot of things.
Why is falling in love a crime? Someone tell the world how to rise to the occasion and save them the nadir.
And when one has fallen, why do people suddenly have to develop fangs, paws, nuke bombs et al to destroy the lovers and the beautiful world they dream of through those rose-tinted glasses?
Most importantly, why does the world defect to the Opposition, leaving just the lovers in the Ruling Party?
Why is love so controversial and painful? Well, almost always. The pleasures that come with the pain as bonus, are usually few and far between.

Nothing to Will

Came across this very touching post. Set me thinking about what I can bequeath G...
- a world where u live in eternal fear of getting raped,bombed, runover and the works
- a life full of shopping malls
- a life full of wannabe uber-heroes
- a world wrought/torn apart by competition to get to hell or to high water
- a life sans a sense of belonging and rootedness
- a life with a problem of plenty
- yet a life full of half-fulfilled dreams

Alas, wealthy not am I, to leave my poor Cinderalla wealth enough to be a princess and live happily ever after!

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Of friends and friendships

M finally tied the knot. That too, to the cutest guy I knew in the Timesgroup, Response dept! They came home yesterday really late for a dinner of luchi, alu-chochhori and kasha magsho (all prepared by your’s truly). I hope all of you even at the back of the beyond heard that trumpet. Good. Now to continue.
In the course of our chat, we realized, M & I have been friends for the last 14 years, never having lost track of each other despite the distances travelled. It was a wonderful feeling. Of course, it’s been much much longer with Urmea, my “nappy friend” (ok, ok, agreed we’d just grown out of our nappies then!!). And the distances travelled in this case runs across seven seas!! But thank God, nothing’s changed between us. There are a couple of others whom I’ve known for a li’l over 7 years (S) and just over 17 months (R, plz compliment me on my maths, plz) respectively. They, too, are very close friends of mine. And I cherish each one of them, ‘cause they’re really who have kept me and still keep me alive.
So what’s it that makes us click, tick and talk? Even when we meet after years, months, days or even just hours, sometimes minutes?
Going back to my days with Urmi, I remember even after we spent some 8-12 hours with each other a day, we still had nearly half an hour’s conversation left to be completed either near Yoga Cure Centre, or near the red post box in front of Sanjukta aunty’s house (sorry all non-resident New Aliporean’s, but these are landmarks I couldn’t help but mention). What was worse, the moment we were out of each other’s sight, some other devil from gossipland would pop its ugly head up from behind the subconscious and had to be immediately passed on. So, an otherwise leisurely walk was cut short by a dash home; followed by incessant ringing of the door bell bringing the house down. Then, with total disregard to the raging Her Himmler, the phone was picked up and the devil barfed out. Pheeeeeeew! That felt really good. On the other side of the phone, too, one could distantly hear sentences like, “Weren’t you with her barely 5 minutes ago?” We both learnt these were questions best left unanswered;-)
With M, it was on another level altogether. She was just the friend I needed in the first year of college. The age when, to use a cliché, we all wanna break free. We were a group of 4 “wannabes” (one’s a celebrity now - Chandrani of Krosswindz and the other married a celebrity of sorts!!). And, there was M, lovingly called Mama, who had been there, done-it-all: cigarette in hand, a head full of pop and rock, leading us to the forbidden land! And for every drag of the cigarette I took, there always was moral guardian Urmea (in some other part of the city), asking “Why?” Obviously chose to ignore her, cause I could’ve also turned around and asked her “Why did u have to score obscenely in those stats tests in school and my Mom know abt them?” Miss goody two-shoes!
Anyways, going back to Mama, we’d troop down to our favourite haunt, the Momo house in a nondescript gully, which played all our favourite songs (everything from Beatles, Eagles, Simon & Garfunkel, Pink Floyd, The Doors to Baez, Sinatra,Dylan…the works). Bunking classes to climb the stairway to heaven….awesome. Though the other two have drifted apart for obvious reasons (even tho’ both M & I still exchange smses with Chandrani), Mama and I stuck on. Still remember, the midnight calls to discuss Floyd!! (First time she called at that hour, Her Himmler freaked!!) Both of us pursued journalism, worked for national dailies, albeit in different cities, and then she finally followed my footsteps to Bangalore. In Bangalore, we both ended up working for the infamous unmentionable group. She’s still there and has found her soul mate there too…Bless her heart!
S, the subtly naughty and extremely intelligent kid, came into the picture when I moved to Bangalore. And she’s been there, rock solid. Could run to her anytime at IE, midday or midnight, for anything and she’d have a solution. Me and my midnight fetish! Took an auto at 1 am from ET one night to meet her at IE and literally threw her twin out of bed so we could discuss irritant bosses and awesome books rest of the night, dragging on our sootas! Post marriage, of course, we’ve shared even more cherishable moments together. The surreptitious soota meetings at Java City, totally talli tete-e-tetes at Tavern… oh how I miss them. Why did u have to move to Maddening Mumbai, S?
All the above had been loyal footsoldiers in a my long-drawn hindi-moviesque battle for love. They were my family, when my biological family mercilessly slit the umbilical cord. They’re the ones who always ensured that the rollercoaster ride down didn’t last too long, palliated those moments and seamlessly turned those tears into my famous air-rending laughter. They were the wizards of friendship who helped me to break on through to the other side of life.
Dunno what’s kept them by my side though. I’ve never persevered to keep them. Rather, there’s never been a paucity of space – physical or otherwise - between us. We’ve been downright honest with each other, sometimes rudely so. And poles apart that we are, as two characters can ever be, together, we can burn a house down to ashes! That’s the reason why we always choose to meet at water(ing) holes ;-)
Mama thinks, we have adapted ourselves well to the changing circumstances in our lives and fitted ourselves into the scheme of things. R feels it’s a matter of perspective. I think, I’m just plain lucky to have these wonderful people around. I’ve never really counted the years that I’ve known Mama or Urmi or S or R. I’ve only recounted the incidents, cherished the moments and relived some of them over and over again with each of them. And never really felt bored. So what’s it about years? Like vintage wine, it’s only gotten better.
Always considered friendship the most important of all social behaviours. And friends, like crystal, the most valuable assets I own. Can’t barter them, can’t sell them, can’t loan them and certainly can’t lose them.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Biye bari - Part II

This one's for all those keenly awaiting it. You see, the first one being N's cousin's wedding, it had an element of unsaid decorum that I needed to follow, after all, shoshurbari boley kotha. So honestly, the fun part wasn't really there, what with a hundred pair of eyes always observing our moves.
Wedding no.2 was N's best friend, Mota's. And this meant, no vigilant eyes, no decency, no decorum demanded. And more so, since it was Mota's, the self proclaimed leader of the famous Bawal Group.
We packed our little strolley and drove out of our J'pur home not to return to it until late next night! The morning was a low-key ghoroya affair with a simple lunch of dal, jhuro aloo bhaja r pabda machher jhol. According to Motah, we had to keep it light, to enjoy the evening better!
Come evening and we, as in Rajesh's friends and their wives, trooped into the biye bari in all our finery, all our eyes roving full speed.
Not much luck...all the dadu/didimas, kaku/kakimas sitting and sipping coffee.
Climb up to first floor where the sampradan et al are going on. Mota spots us and manages a wry smile from amidst all the blinding video lights and dripping sweat (trying to convey just how bored he already was, since they registered their marriage way back in July). Still not much luck for the wives really. So we try to follow the eyes of our "better halves". Spotted some fat wannabes who were shamelessly eyeing our rather "decent" looking husbands. Tried pulling N's leg with one of them but he wasn't amused at all. Dropped the case immediately.
Mala bodol and shubhodrishti was completed amidst a lot of catcalls and whistling. Just when we were about retire, with our tails uncomfortably between our legs, in walked the beauty, hubby in tow. All our "decent" husbands promptly turned indecent, their roving eyes suddenly losing their inertia of motion. The rest of the evening went by following in the lady's footsteps or resting our bums on chairs within clear viewing distance. Hai re , the sacrifices we women have to make for our men!
Later that night, we were curtly told bangalder bashor hoy na and shown the door. Ice-cold water flowed over Neil's printout of the most hilarious jokes and all our enthu to sing and dance our way through the night.
The lady resurfaced , with hubby in tow, on Mota's boubhat, too, and our men didn't spare her this time either. But, this time, she too had turned smart and gave these men back a full-blooded stare, which was promptly interpreted as "Arre, O-o to besh jhari machhe".
We just had to be content with a roomful of Xaverians, none worth a second look. To top that, at the dinner table, we had a huge debate with our men on what they perceive as "handsome". Their perception, according to us, the wives, were rather sad and disappointing, considering the examples they put forth. These men, I tell you, should strictly stick to appreciating "beauty" in the opposite sex and keep honing their jharibaji skills!

PS: Honestly, didn't find anything hot in that babe, even though I can vouch that we women appreciate beauty in our species, when we see it.

Old habits die hard

R is giving me the royal ignore these days. And very rightfully, I know. But it still bothers me, or so I think, at least.
Her hubby, SD, is finally back from the US after a nine-month long onsite trip. Ok correction, it wasn't a "trip", it was more a "tenure" when he was slogging his butt out to earn some extra greens, which of course we aren't privy to;-). So what this means essentially is, she goes back to life as it was nine months ago... all lovey dovey with hubby and all that (though she will insist she too has to do a lot to grow out of her habitual life alone).
But, what it also means is that:
(a) No more never- ending phone calls -- on the way home from office (hell, she's far more excited about returning home, silly) ; short pause to pay off the auto, get on to the elevator, open the lock and grab the land phone, then continue where she left from.
(b) No more girlie weekday evenings to our dear Noorbhai, with a pile load of her salwar suit pieces to stitch, or to Bangalore Central for a quick Venky's Roll
(c) No more weekends out to the movies, shopping malls with my extended family -- N, G, I and R, of course, silly; or just sacking out at home over a lunch of shukto, posto, dal, mangsho and loads of achaar
(d) Most importantly, no one to boss/mother over everyday and be my overbearing self with. I mean yes, I have G to mother over, strictly speaking, but that's another story.

Of course, R is finally breathing easy for being relieved of my guardianship, but I seem to be experiencing some withdrawal symptoms as regards these bad habits I incurred over the last nine months. Actually, in a friendless land away from home, even one friendly straw is worth hanging on to. And R is this very mature, yet very sweet girl( yes, that's I think of her and she hates me for it), whose charms you can't help but fall for. Both N and I have become quite comfortable in SD & R's friendship and over the last few months, we've become quite used to having R around us most of the time. Hence, life seems a little different these days. Kya karen old habits die hard.

PS: Here's to a very happy reunion, guys. Wishing you eternal knottiness;)