Indian Graffiti

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

A hard day's work...

Yesterday was my induction day at my place of work. It's one of the most reputed companies in India which has a Global presence in 63 countries around the world. I really enjoyed everyone who came to speak to us and tell us a little bit about the company in their own words; their own experiences; and what they felt the company had to offer us. There seems to be an unlimited potential to grow, and that is what I'm most excited about. If you don't fit in somewhere, there's always another place for you to make yourself comfortable in--so you can find a niche for yourself almost anywhere in the company.

My facilitator for the day was a very boisterous and enthusiastic young lady who made us all feel right at home and was there throughout the day to make sure that all of us were comfortable with what was being presented to us. She introduced us to everyone and had a lot of things to say herself which were quite useful.

The best part was how our VP came in and spoke to us in the morning, in one of our first sessions, right after the ice-breaking round where we all had to introduce ourselves (more about that later). He seemed like a guy who you could really talk to if there was anything on your mind, and not worry about what the repercussions would be. No hangups what-so-ever. And for someone who's in his position and acts like he's just another associate was very welcoming.

The ice-breaking session lasted for about half an hour--it was the first round that we had, and the most joyous. We were supposed to use the first alphabet of our name to come up with an adjective that we thought aptly defined our personalities, attaching it to our names, and then passing it on to the next person, who would have to repeat what you'd said and then do the same for him or herself , and the procedure would continue on and on, until the last person would have to recite everyone's name with the aid of the adjectives that were supplied to him--poor bastard!

We also had some wonderful people like the lady who had won a lot of prestigious awards in the organization year upon year, coming to visit us, and telling us how it feels to be an icon of the company, where your work is not only recognized by your peers, but by the big man himself--the CEO of the company.

The most appealing part of the whole day was that most of the people who had come down to spend the day with us were full of life and vigour, and it felt good to be surrounded by them; it made me feel like I could be one of them too pretty soon, if I put in the hardwork and dedication that's expected of me. Our training is going to start from Tuesday next, until which date we're all on paid leave. I've got to go and get my Pan card paperwork started for my Income tax purposes, and apply for a credit card so that I can purchase stuff online which I'd like to be sent to the States since you need a credit card number for that. Hopefully all of this should be done with within the week and I'll be ready by Monday to start work as seriously as I can.

Wish me luck!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

A fine balance

It'll be a month this coming Friday since we started talking with each other, Alhamdulillah! I've become a changed man to a certain extent because of her. Trying to pray five times a day at the mosque, reading my Quran regularly, learning about my Deen--this is something that I never imagined myself doing previously. I've also been a bit hasty with my affection--isolating it for her and not sharing it with my friends... for which I feel truly sorry. It's so easy to get wrapped up in these things and forget about the world around you, which is not something that I recommend. Your heart tells you--you know--you don't need anyone else now that you've got her, but you do. You need lots and lots of other things to keep you occupied so that you don't become obsessed with her and go mad--which is what I discovered--the hard way.

We hadn't spoken for a couple of hours one day, and I panicked... I tried contacting her incessantly and mailed her four to five emails declaring my undying love for her and how I would try and be worthy of her companionship. She was sweet about the entire thing, trying to explain to me how important it was that we take matters slowly, especially in lieu of our Islamic background. I agreed, and we both have decided to give it a couple of more years to see what happens. I'm trying to be optimistic about the whole affair, but it's not easy. I'm afraid that things might not work out, and I might lose her to someone else.

My mother already knows about the details, and this is the first girl that I've ever spoken about with her as far as marriage is concerned. (A month ago I was telling her that there was no way that I was getting married in the near future (seeing as how insecure my life was at the moment) but she's changed all that, and has made me want to succeed so that I can meet her someday soon, Inshallah!)

Thursday, May 15, 2008

My Best Friend's Seperation

I've known Rohit since I was in ninth class, when I first landed here and attended my first day in school. For some reason, he liked me. I don't know why--I didn't like myself that much back then. But he always seemed to see something in me that I never did, and so we sort of kept in touch--him mostly. He would always call to check up on me, try and make it out to my place--even tried to help me out when I'd hit rock bottom with my depression and didn't want anything to do with anyone I'd known from my past. He was there, even though I never made it any easier for him.

Rohit's dream was to become an Army Officer--he was very into the whole An Officer and a Gentleman shebang. His other big dream was to get a girlfriend (something which united both of us inexplicably), even though, once again--I thought I had a much better shot at it than he did...

We would sometimes sit outside his house thinking of all the girls we could've married and settled down with. Sometimes he'd come over to my house and we'd go up to the terrace and look at the stars and try and justify our loneliness as an exercise in romantic aspirations--something which all true lovers have to go through. I was adamant that there was someone special waiting out there for me, but Rohit was much more realistic, and when he got his chance--he decided to take it.

The girl was introduced to him via one of his cousin sisters, they started talking, and decided they were compatible enough to get hitched. He called me up and told me about the wedding to be. I was flabbergasted--I never expected my one sole accomplice in all of the struggles I'd faced to ditch me like this, but I couldn't not be happy for him. After all--if this is what he'd wanted--I was glad that he could have it. The marriage took place in his native place of Dehradun, where incidentally the girl and her family also happened to to be from. It was a huge family affair, and both parties were satisfied with the match.

Yesterday night, after a year and a half, I got a call from Rohit... he'd called me up once or twice in-between but I was too depressed to talk to him then. I was ecstatic that he'd gotten in touch because there really is no way for me to do it since they keep moving him around from one corner of the country to another--wherever he is needed. I told him I'd been thinking a lot about him during the past few days and weeks, and was really ashamed about the way I'd behaved in the past. But Rohit being Rohit--didn't think there was anything to apologize for. And then--it came. Like a punch out of nowhere: he told me--want to hear some bad news... and it was the way he siad it that I immediately knew what the hell he was talking about. I told him--Oh no... don't tell me. And he said, "Well, it's not all bad, since I'm happy." I asked him what happened, knowing fully well the answer that was to come, but hoping against hope that it wasn't true. Rohit's wife had left him a few days ago.

We talked for about half an hour. He was calling me up from Indore where he's posted right now studying to get into the UN's Peace Keeping Forces. I asked him how it'd happened and he told me: there was trouble brewing right from the start. The problem with Rohit's wife was that even though she'd proclaimed to be a very down-to-earth person--the truth was far from it. There was the fight about not having the huge Plasma Screen TV that she wanted, which Rohit could not afford on his salary at the moment, and had asked her to put it off for a year or two. Then, there was the 400 litre refrigerator which she'd asked for because the neighbour's had just one like it, but Rohit's suggestion was that since they were only two people they really didn't need to own a fridge with that kind of capacity, especially since he could only afford a 180 litre one.

The Armed Forces don't get paid a lot. They aren't millionaires with loads of money to spend, and Rohit's wife was aware of this when she got married to him. But, according to what Rohit understood of how her mentality worked: he was under the impression that she wanted to be the centre of attention in his house. His dad's got a pretty respectable career going in a bank, which he's been working at for the past 20 years or more, then there's his brother--who's in the Navy, and is a Ship Navigator, who earns quite a nice sum himself. So, according to Rohit, what she was expecting was to be welcomed into the family by all three with the money they would obviously be lavishing on her since she was the only girl in the house, and so naturally would hold a very special place in their hearts.

Only problem is--Rohit's dad is about 5 or 6 years away from his retirement, and he's already told his sons that he doesn't want to depend on either of them for any financial assistance, so is trying to save as much as he can for himself and his wife. And Rohit's brother has his own life to think about--he's trying to save up as much as he can for his own family... but this was probably asking for too much in the eyes of Rohit's wife.

And so--it started--the torturous pricks about being married to someone who doesn't earn enough to support his wife, the constant criticism about his family (his mom especially), the rude behaviour with his folks, which he was not aware of since his mother had kept him in the dark about all of it so as not to interfere with their relationship. But, everyone has a limit, and Rohit reached that stage when she packed up her bags one day and said--no more! Rohit's mom begged her to stay, pleaded with her--got down on her knees and asked her not to bring shame to the family, but she threatened them with a false court case accusing them of dowry harassment if they didn't allow her to leave, and so Rohit, seeing no other way out--let her go.

She took everything. The clothes, the Bank Balance, the Mobile Phones (including two of his) and to add insult to injury, has been spreading all kinds of rumours about him and his family back home. Rohit--he's just glad that she's out of his life for the time being. She tried to get in touch with him recently to "patch things up" but Rohit had the sense to stay as far away from her as he could. He says he's just relieved that they didn't bring a child into this world, something that she was very keen on, but something which Rohit instinctively knew would be only adding to his miseries. He says this is the worst 15 months that he's ever had to spend in his life, but he's thankful that it's behind him now.

I asked him how much he'd spent on the wedding, and since--the total bill comes out to something like 7,00,000 Rupees, which would amount to about $ 20,000. (Shame!) But, Rohit again being Rohit--is just relieved that he doesn't have to deal with the drama anymore and he can move on with his life now. I asked him if he would ever think of getting married again--and pat came the answer "NO". I said not to give up, there are a lot of people who've been through the same thing and are still hopeful. He said that he was worried he wouldn't find anyone at his age (since most people over here get married in the age group of 21 to 24). I told him that he had no idea, and let him in on the activities that I'd been involved in for the past two weeks. There were plenty of women out there, 28 and older, who were searching for the one. But, this time--I told him that I would be there for him, and when he found someone who he thought of settling down with, I'd make sure that I'd at least take the responsibility of doing what a best friend should do, and check if he's not making the biggest mistake of his life.

We've decided to meet sometime next month, after his course work in Indore wraps up, and will hopefully get some time to talk then. Other than that--he was happy to hear about my exams and the job. I thanked him.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Iron Man

His name is Kondaya. He's the guy who irons my dad's shirts, and pants, and whatever else that needs to be ironed. He also irons the clothes of the entire neighbourhood. He has a small shack set up by the side of the road, where he, his wife, and another man who he's hired (I'm not sure if this person is related to him or not, since most of these small businesses are family run), work from around 9 AM to 9 PM, if not longer. The little tables on which they iron their clothes are overloaded with bundles upon bundles of laundry, freshly washed, waiting to be touched by their smouldering hot irons. (Surprisingly, the tables are quite effective in giving the pants and shirts that extra special crease. So, not only are these cheap wooden tables cost-effective, but they're also high on quality too. Much better than an ironing board if you can believe it, which you won't, until you've seen it!)

Today--as I was picking up my dad's clothes, I noticed that Kondaya's wife had a packet of milk in her hand. I had smelt the aroma of tea coming from somewhere but couldn't figure out where they'd kept their cups, so I assumed that perhaps she was going to prepare it. That's not what she was doing--or at least not yet. She was holding the cool packet of 1/2 a litre milk to her face, and trying to dampen the sweat off her neck and forehead.

In the meantime, Kondaya was in the back searching for the plastic bag in which my father's clothes were kept. As I was taking it from his hand--I realized something that I'd almost forgotten since it'd been such a long time since I'd seen him--Kondaya has Elephantiasis. His right leg is probably five to six times the size of his left, and he walks with a slight shuffle. And yet, this man has no other choice but to stand on his own two feet, even at his age (he must be in his fifties) and iron other people's clothes, day in and day out, over and over again, for the past few years that I've been seeing him at least. He also doesn't wear any slippers, if memory serves me right, at least on the leg that's afflicted by the ailment.

Friday, May 09, 2008


So it's official--I'm a weiner--this is the second time that I've over-reacted to something that someone has said to me that kind of hit close to home, even though there might not have been a cause to. I say might because at the time it seemed perfectly justifiable, sort of like one of those "in the heat of the moment" kind of deals. I feel bad to have gone overboard like that, but to have spent twenty eight years on this earth without a girlfriend, or any hope of having love isn't the easiest thing to have dealt with when there are people who've had all kinds of experiences and have no idea what I'm talking about... I bet the geekiest guy (or girl) on the forums that I visit have been asked out, or have gone out on dates, or have been kissed. (In fact--I know so!) Me? Well, what can I say: the less said the better perhaps!

But I've always buoyed myself with the thought that I'll ultimately get the chance to do all those things with the woman I'm going to fall in love with, and hopefully marry, and spend the rest of my life living with. So, it sort of wreaks havoc on your mental state when other people try and find fault with your chance of accomplishing it (however slim that may be).

I thought I'd write about something else today but this was at the top of my mind. I wanted to relay to anyone who might be listening that I'd gone for my first BA Second year paper and it wasn't too bad, I've got five more papers to go though. And then I'll have just one more year and I'll finally be a graduate; I'd dropped out after high-school--looooooong story! So, today, as I was taking the seat that was assigned to me, I looked on the desk and read the following graffiti scribbled on it: I do इश्क with तुमसे। (Translation ~ I make love with you.) The perfect way to start an exam--don't you think!?

Besides that--the cold war between my sister and mom has finally thawed--I'd mentioned to my sis that Mother's day was coming up a few days ago, and that it would be the perfect opportunity for her to make good with my mom, but at the time she just winced at the suggestion. Today, after I'd come home from prayers I saw my mom and sister chatting, casually--just like they used to. I didn't want to say anything since I didn't want to bring too much of attention to the fact that they were actually "talking" again, so I kept my mouth shut and went upstairs, glad that the whole debacle of them avoiding each other had ceased. A few minutes later, my sister joined me upstairs, closed the bedroom door behind her, opened her closet, and took out the cards that she had just bought for my mom for Mother's day: They're beautiful, and right now--she's in the kitchen baking a cake for her... it's a three-tiered Black Forest cake!

Thursday, May 08, 2008

A bit of a rant

"Well, all I know is I had a good time last night. I'm gonna have a good time tonight. If we have enough good times together, I'm gonna get down on my knees. I'm gonna beg that girl to marry me. If we make a party on New Year's, I got a date for that party."

And so concludes Paddy Chayefsky's superbly written essay about the journey of a lonely 34 year old Bachelor in his search for love. The film directed by Delbert Mann went on to win not only the Best Picture Oscar for that year, but also a Best Director award for its Director; a Best Original Screenplay Award for its writer; and a Best Actor Award for the heart-rendering performance given by Ernest Borgnine. (It was also one of the biggest hits of the year, despite it being one of the first independent movies to have come out of the Hollywood system, which was produced by that gorgeous hunk of an actor--Burt Lancaster. It also went on to win the Palme d'or at the Cannes film festival--the second film in Hollywood history to have done so.)

The reason why I'm bringing up this particular movie (other than the fact that it happens to be a beloved favourite of mine) is because of the response that I got from some of the members on Metachat and Mefi after I'd posted about my budding relationship with a truly exceptional woman who I'd met earlier. I knew it would've been hard for them to understand given the circumstances (we've only been talking for a week now, and it's been over the internet), but I decided to give them the benefit of the doubt--thinking that they would share in my happiness. Or if not exactly show the same enthusiasm, maybe not be as pessimistic as some of them were. I don't know if it's just me (as a good friend of mine from the board pointed out: you happen to be the sensitive sort), or if this is truly a grudge to be held. But, none of them were kind enough to say: hey--Daanish--good going! I'm happy for you. You've finally found someone who you think is a match for you... that sounds terrific. But, and this is just an aside--you might want to be careful and take things a little slow just in case you scare her off. It happens, you know?

Why couldn't have anyone said something like that, instead of the: STOP! SLOW DOWN! SEE OTHER PEOPLE!!! God dammit--I don't want to see other people. I just want someone who shares some common ground with me (the more the better, and this particular woman happens to fit that criteria in spades) who I can build a life with. Get it??? I don't want to "date" other people--I just want someone, who has no reason to take a chance on me--to say to herself--you know--that guy isn't too bad--I think I'll give him a chance and see where it goes. And that's exactly what she did. I told her that I wasn't the type who could play games. I'm a pretty straight-forward guy and I want to write to you as much as I can. She said she liked reading my letters, and found them very touching. So, we're talking--and it feels great.

But, I'm still a little disappointed that I couldn't share this with my friends. And you know what really gets up my ass--I always feel like I try ten times harder to see things from their perspective than they try and see them from mine. I'd told them earlier about how much I was desperate for finding true love, and how much difference it would make in my life, but for some reason they chose to ignore that. I don't know why. Perhaps they have good reasons of their own, but they weren't what I was looking for at the time. Sigh. This is the second time that something like this has happened. The earlier one being the incident when I'd made a post declaring my sister's love for receiving bouquets, and had the anti-flower brigade rain down on me. Now it seems that I've riled up the anti-romance department... when will it end!?

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Odds and ends...

Sorry I've been missing for the past couple of days. No, it's nothing to get worried about--I'm perfectly alright (actually, better than I've ever felt before). I can't say much now so you'll just have to trust me on that, however, I have been plagued with nightmares for the past couple of nights (which is not something that I had been facing prior to the recent turn of events). I've put that down to all the changes I'm going through right now and the pressures of having to deal with them. But it's all good, so I'm not complaining. Anyway, just wanted to give a shout-out to everyone, and let them know that I'm still here, and hopefully, pretty soon, I'll have a decent post up in order to explain what the hell's been going on with me... until then, here's another Calvin and Hobbes strip:









(via The Hindu)

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Waiting for love

You see that boy on the left--that's me. You see that girl sitting next to him--I wish I knew someone like her. All my life, since as long back as I can remember--I've always wanted something akin to having what's being portrayed in that photograph. A lot of people have told me it's not possible (it's the stuff that dreams/Hollywood movies are made of). It's something I've told myself repeatedly, too, to no avail unfortunately.

Believe me--it's not that I'm stupid; it's just that I'd rather believe in the notion of true love however impractical it may seem. Someday, someway, maybe I might meet that special someone who had been searching for the same thing that I had all my life. And wouldn't we make a great couple... who knows? Until then, I'm going to keep my eyes open. Yeah, that's what I've decided after posting this thread on AskMe. I'm going to become much more proactive in searching for my soul-mate, even if it means forgoing some of the old traditional aspects of falling in love--like running into each other somewhere; becoming friends first, and then slowly realizing that we were meant to be much more than that; or rescuing a damsel in distress and falling hopelessly in love (I don't know why the last scenario sounded so appealing to me when I was a teenager). Now, I wonder--what if she's not the one I'm searching for--why would I want to marry her? Maybe I was just supposed to save her--period! Ah, youth--what a perplexing stage of life.

So, yes--having decided to be much more forthright in my approach--I decided to do something that I absolutely--never--ever imagined myself doing: I logged onto a couple of matrimonial sites, and became a member. How has this changed my perception of what I thought love was all about--well, for one thing--it's a lot more visual than I thought it would ever be. The first thing that you're hit with when you log onto one of these sites are the profiles, and with the profiles, the accompanying photographs. Of course, if the person has chosen not to have posted a photograph, then you obviously wonder "why"? What's wrong. Not that there has to be anything wrong, but you're just curious.

Especially if you're one of those people who wants someone with a cheerful face, someone who when you see your whole day lights up, and you want to do something special for them. And what I've realized from my own experience is that--it's what you've got on the inside that will automatically show up on the outside as well. So if a person has got a vibrant, down-to-earth, soulful personality--it's probably a true reflection of the type of person she is on the inside. Unless she's a sociopath, and there's very little hope for me to be weeding out those in any case.

I wish I could write some more about the wonderful ladies that I've met so far on these wonderful sites, and by met I mean--have gotten the chance to read their profiles, gotten to know a little bit about their lives and aspirations, and what kind of person they're looking for. But they might not approve, so I'll leave it at that.

Except for this: a gentleman who appears to be the "Parent/Guardian" of a prospective bride showed interest in me in a rather peculiar way, by first criticizing my profile because I was honest enough to write about my relationship with my Parents (even though I mentioned how much it's improved since then) and suggesting that the mistake that they made was to have had me in the first place, or at least that's what I gather from what he was saying. After which, he goes on to introduce his daughter and tell me how "innocent and god fearing she is". God, why do people have to call their children "innocent". Man, I DON'T WANT AN INNOCENT WIFE. I want a wife with claws, who can fight for herself, goddammit. So, it's no surprise that I've left his mail unanswered. I thought blocking him would be taking things a bit too far, but if he gives me any more advice about how I should write my own frickin' profile, I'll delete his ass.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Tyres for toys

I took my mom to the tailor's yesterday. She works out of the house of someone who is on the look-out for a suitable boy for her daughter. Remember, this is India--the land of Arranged Marriages, so don't be so shocked when you read such stuff; it's more of the norm over here. My mother, in order to save fuel in the car, said we'd go on my bike, or rather my dad's bike, which is a scooter that I like to call a bike because scooter somehow doesn't seem right. Anyway, so it's 4:15 PM and we have about 45 minutes left until my father has to leave for the shop (that's what we do--we're shop-owners, or at least we own the one shop, which is a Stationery that my pop opened after he retired and came back here).

So, where was I--ah yes, the marriage proposal that my mom had gotten (she's very heavily involved in this sort of stuff these days, and is constantly reminding me that I have to settle down as well before I hit 30; I'm more like--we'll see--35 sounds like a much better age for me).

I park the bike (scooter) outside the house, my mom gets off and walks into the tailor's. They both greet each other and my mom sits down with the envelope that contains the prospective bridegrooms bio-data (a must-have over here for anyone willing to wed his son off to someones daughter), with a picture inside (another must-have). Especially for the girls, because the guy's side of the family always have many demands.

A couple of minutes later, a lady dressed in a white सलवार खामीज़ stepped down from the first floor, along with a very cute little girl, followed by an even cuter little kitten, and all three of them headed for the tailor's suite to meet my mom. (They must've chatted for about half an hour or less, even though my mom had said that she would just take a minute or two, and I thought I'd keep myself busy looking at this kid who was playing on the side of the road with a tyre that he had found.)

He must've been no older than 5 or 6, a boy who had no business being on the side of the road, playing with a ratty piece of used rubber. The boy was dressed in a pair of dirty shorts and an old T-shirt, and was running back and forth with the tyre, pushing it with a stick, trying not to let it fall and at the same time maintaining its balance. This is a very popular game here amongst kids who do not have any other means to entertain themselves with, except what they find on the streets.

I observed him for a few minutes, and locked onto the smile that he had while he was playing his game. I think there was no other kid on earth who could've been happier at that moment than he was. The game lasted for a few minutes more before the tyre was hit a little too hard, and ended up in the middle of the road, right between the traffic. It was odd the place where it chose to settle down, plopping right in the centre of where the median should've been, but since this is India we don't have too many of those on our side streets. (I suppose you don't have them abroad either so it would be unfair of me to criticize India alone for it.)

Anyway, the traffic continued to whiz by, the people walked past without a care in the world, and the little kid was hiding behind a tree, wondering what would happen to his toy now, too afraid to venture after it into the middle of the road. It was then that I noticed the Sugar Cane seller at the far end of the street, with his Sugar Cane cart and machine, who was no doubt the father of the boy by the way he was looking at the tyre, figuring out how he would get it and still continue to do his work. His wife, noticing his apprehension, hurried onto the road and grabbed the tyre as quickly as she could and turned around to head back to safety, returning the tyre to her son, and listening to the worried admonishments of her husband by running off like that.

The kid, happy to be reunited with his toy, and not wanting to risk another mishap, decided to give the tyre a break, and went and hid it behind a road sign, along with his stick, careful to cover them both up with some cardboard pieces, if in case there was anyone around who'd be interested in swiping his loot.

On his way past me, we both looked at each other, but neither one wanted to acknowledge the others presence--I, for fear that he might think I thought poorly of him for playing on the road (or even worse), maybe even thinking that I was trying to steal his tyre--and him not wanting to let me know that he had just exposed his secret hiding place to this stranger. We both just looked at each other and almost gave each other a smile, like the other knew what he was thinking about.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Bang, bang, bang!

That's the sound that usually reverberates through the house when my mom is in the bathroom washing the clothes. The washing machine that we have is an old Toshiba which we had got brand new when we were shifting house from Saudi Arabia to India (the one pictured in the photograph isn't the one that we have though, since ours was bought in 1993, so is a much older model than this one). But back then, we were happy to have her in addition to our fully automatic other one (I forget the name of the company it belonged to), and as luck would have it, the fully automatic one got damaged in the move and we had to solely rely on the semi automatic Toshiba one. Man, all this talk about fully automatic and semi automatic makes me sound like a hit man. (I wonder if my blog is being scanned by the Homeland Security Department and if those words pop up on their scanner... hmmm, might be interesting. Hey, you spooks out there--eat my shorts!)

So, yeah--the machine. Well, she was a beaut at first. Always gave us the best she could, but then, later on, her age started to show, and slowly but surely, she started to give way. Now, we're at that point where my mother just exclaimed while she was doing today's load: Ya Allah! I feel like taking this thing to the roof and throwing her off of the terrace.

You see, the problem is that once you're done with the washing of the clothes, which is the easy part, you're then left with the drying, and that's where the trouble comes in. The spinner just won't spin, unless and until you shake it, and jolt it, and bang on it a couple of times for it to comply. And this whole process can last anywhere between a minute or two (if you're lucky) to sometimes as long as 10 minutes (or maybe even more). It's exasperating, and sends my mom up the wall, especially when she has to spend the whole day cleaning up the house, and then preparing food, and then on top of that, washing clothes--it's a bit much, isn't it.

I could do my own clothes, or the whole load if I wanted to, but I'm just such a pampered ass that way. Mother's always done the laundry, and the cooking, and the whole work around the house that I haven't had to lift a finger. Of course, I try and do something once-in-awhile. Like lately--I've been taking out the trash every day (yeah--I know--big deal; but it is for me, since I hardly used to step out of the house up until a couple of months ago, ever since I've started coming out of my depression). Then there's of course the dishes which I wash whenever I put in my own in the basin. And the filling of the jugs and the selling of the newspapers and all the leftover paper trash. And sometimes, when I'm feeling uber-confident--I even dig in and participate in chores around the house like getting someone to fix the broken window in the hall, and going on a two-hour long search for the Refrigerator repair guy whose shop is in the old part of the city (whose name no-one has even heard of, but not wanting to give up--I stick to it, and after an hour of searching and asking and hounding people--I finally find it). Only to discover that he doesn't make any trips out to my area anymore because it's too far away (you're telling me bud) but I do get the number of the people who do handle the work in our area so I just might be lucky enough to get someone to come over and have a look at our 500 litre, double door, over 20 year old antique of a Kelvinator fridge (whose spare parts I'm not even sure if they're making anymore).

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Déjà vu

Funny how things come full circle. It's like that saying: what goes around--comes around (especially in matters of life). I'm talking about relationships here, specifically, the one that we (me and my sisters) share with my mum.

When I was a teenager, and going through hell--there was a time when I was sure that my mother was trying to be the worst possible parent that she could be towards me, and thus, I tried to be the worst possible son that I could be towards her. Of course, I never thought it as such; I wasn't being a jerk, it was she who had the problem.

Now, ten years down the line, things are so much more clear. I have two sisters--one who's two years younger to me (who's already happily married, settled, and is living out her dreams), and the other, who is still in the wings, desperately trying to carve out a space for herself in this world. She's eight years younger to me, and has just completed her graduation (Bachelors) and is going in for her Masters right now, after which she plans to go abroad for further studies (a bone of much contention in my house, between my mother and her).

Lately though, I've noticed a rift growing between them, something that I thought would not be possible. This girl was the same girl who would hold onto my mother's दुपट्टा when she was a tot of about 5 or 6, and would follow her around everywhere, screaming and spitting on anyone who would dare come near her to even suggest that she give her mother a break, and maybe sit with them. No, that was asking for the impossible.

When she'd grown a little more, she would still prefer to sleep with her mother (in-between her father and her, in their bedroom), and would keep one of her legs on my mother's back as a sort of a safety mechanism, to know that mum was there and wasn't going to leave her and go anywhere in the middle of the night. Dad though, always ended up getting the short end of the stick: a sore back from all the kicks that my sister would deliver in the midst of her sleep.

And then, one day, almost instinctively, she no longer felt the need to hold onto mom's दुपट्टा any longer. My little sister had grown up, or was in the process of at least, and I couldn't believe it. The nerve! How could she--when I had tried to do the same and was quashed so vehemently. How did she think she could take after my other sister like that, and so soon, especially since I was trying so hard to do it for myself. Where was my turn goddammit! And, wouldn't you know it--my mother and she had become as thick as thieves just like her and my other sister had, and I was left outside looking in once again. I wondered what it was that I would have to do to be accepted by these group of women. Did I have to become a woman myself, and if I did--I was prepared to--if it would only mean I could get the emotional support and understanding I so desperately needed.

This union lasted for a long time. Of course, they did have their ups and downs, which I would try and use to my own advantage (being the dog without a master, running to whomever called him first), and tried to be the good son and the caring brother which I thought I could be, but was always left with a sense of bitter distaste in my mouth when it was all over, and I was once again left to my own devices, neglected--stranded.

It took me a long, long while to recover from this bruising, and get back on my feet again, and even though I've not "completely" gotten there yet, I am on my way. But, there's been a slight twist in the tale. You see, now my sister has reached the age where she has become the rebel, and my mom and her are the ones who aren't getting along all that well. These two women who were practically inseparable a year or two ago are now at each others' wits. I see a lot of myself in my sister--that desire for self-recognition, to find out what she wants to do with this life, with whom she wants to be associated--and this of course has caused my mother great anxiety. She is worried, like she always has been, and for the first time I can see where it is that she was coming from for all these years. I still don't have the same perception of Parenthood that my parents do, and never will, but at least I've come to peace with understanding my father and mother a little better, and not judging them too harshly. They are my parents after all, and if I don't look out for them--who will.

So, I do the best I can, to try and balance out any of the friction between my mom and sis; this means always being the one who opens and closes the door and gate for her lately whenever she's taking the car out somewhere. Being the one who's the go-between between her and my mom to ask her what she wants for breakfast or tell her that lunch or dinner is ready. And, sometimes keeping a check to see why she isn't home in time, as my mother will call out to me from downstairs and ask me to give her a buzz and remind her what time it is.

My mom reads my blog. I've given her permission to, because I trust her enough that she'll respect my decision to write whatever I want, and even if she doesn't, I feel that now she and I are independent enough to respect our boundaries, as thin as they maybe. I don't feel the need to seek her approval at any cost, even if it means at my own detriment, and I think this is a good thing. I only wish, that when she does sit down to read this, that she realizes what a beautiful daughter she has (which I know she knows in her heart) and forgives her for whatever misgivings she's had with her. On the other hand, I can always ask my sis to read the blog and maybe make amends towards my mom instead. Or maybe ask both of them to give this a read? Well, this thing is becoming quite the family affair, isn't it. (That's India for you folks: we somehow manage to get our families into everything. Even our blogs which are supposed to be about India. Hope you don't mind too much. Thanks for listening. You're a wonderful audience.)

Tuesday, April 22, 2008


Alright, so I'm big enough to admit that I was dead wrong about the newest incarnation of Cricket that has invaded the Subcontinent, and is sweeping the world right now. You haven't heard? Well, blimey, mate! Where've you been??? It's called Twenty20 (not to be confused with Twenty-Twenty, or 20/20) and is basically the same version of the game played in a limited over series of 20 overs apiece. Now, if you don't know what the hell I'm talking about, then I'd suggest you better go over here and take a look at the post that I made on Mefi concerning this. There's a lot of basic stuff that you can gleam from there, and it'll give you a basic understanding of the game. Especially if you're an American who's into Baseball; apparently, Cricket is the richer "cousin" of America's Greatest Pastime. Who knew??? And if anyone of you yanks out there is getting perturbed by the comparison that I just made then you ought to know it wasn't my words that I was quoting, but one of the Cricket loving Gentlemen in the post that I just mentioned.

Anyway, what I was trying to tell you was that in the heat of the moment, I'd completely written off Twenty20 Cricket as just a fad, as a strange and absurd phenomenon that would die down in the heat of the night. And that all of this hoopla that was being made about it was all for nothing. Well, I couldn't have been more wrong.

Not only has the game launched itself marvelously amongst the people of India (and no doubt the world, or those who are lucky enough to get a chance to watch it; one of my friends says that in Australia it's on Cable and he doesn't have access to it, so probably not everyone is going to get the chance to see it live, on-screen). Which is also a problem for the Cricket crazy fans wanting to attend the matches in the Stadiums, but aren't able to because of the exorbitant (by India's standards at least) prices.

Another new (if a bit bizarre) phenomena is the introduction of Cheerleaders (yes, you heard me right--those pretty dancing girls with the pom-poms) doing their stuff in the middle of a Cricket Match. In the middle of a Cricket Match I hear you say!? Well, this isn't your Daddy's or Grand-daddy's old sport now is it? No, this is a whole new ballgame, in which the team management will do anything to lure in the crowds any way they can--marketing, advertising, and even a little bit of skin if that'll get people to fill the seats, which I doubt there is a need for, but perhaps it just adds to the atmosphere of the electricity charged format of the game).

Of course, I have saved the best for the last: what is truly enjoyable about this new era in Cricketing history, is that we have seen nothing like it. Up until now, the only two teams which would face off against one another would be the ones representing their national colours. All the players would be of a single nation, and thus we'd have all the rivalries that would obviously be associated with it. Who can forget the kind of tension that unfolds whenever Pakistan is poised to play a match against India, or England against Australia? These are what true die hards of the sport live for. But now, things have taken a dramatic change (and for the better I think)! What we are seeing today is the union of players from across the globe. Australians, playing alongside Indians, who are playing alongside Pakistanis. Members of fraternities which would not even thnink twice before making sure that you were sent home packing are now playing with those same players that they were not long ago pitted against, and are cherishing it in a way that has rarely been seen before. How often do you see Shane Warne hugging his Indian teammate for the catch that he's just made, of another Indian to boot.

Who would've thought this day would ever come.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Calvin and Hobbes # 1






(via The Hindu)

Friday, April 18, 2008

Walk like a man

When I was little, I'd try and walk in step with my father whenever I could. So if he'd put his right foot forward, then I'd put my right foot forward as well, and we'd walk in tandem. We didn't own a car back then so I had to do a lot of walking with him, and I always remember doing this, sometimes subconsciously. Of course, later on, when I hit my teens, I would try and do anything to differentiate myself from my parents, but back then--I wanted to be just like my father.

Another thing that I remember mimicking was to never gaze at a woman; my father would always walk with his head straight, eyes in front, and would never let his sight shift from that angle. I, being of a much more shy nature, preferred walking with my head cast down, eyes to the ground (especially when a woman or a girl would pass us by).

This became increasingly hard to do once we moved from Saudi Arabia to India, and I had to dodge the increasing number of people, animals, and all other manner of things on my journey into the outside world. Also, for the first time in my life, since 2nd or 3rd grade, I was once again surrounded by girls in my class, who were curious to know more about the foreigner who had come from abroad. Especially the reason why he always walked with his head tilted towards the ground. Some of them were even bold enough to ask me if they thought there was something wrong with them, which made me not want to make eye-contact, causing me even more humiliation than I already felt. I tried to break the habit, but it wasn't easy.

That same year, a girl named Sarwani from Japan had joined our class, and had become the talk of the entire school, and as misfortune would have it, was chosen to sit next to me. I had not sat next to a girl for most of my pre-pubescent life, and to be thrown into such a situation was most uncomfortable. My peers, noticing this uneasiness, saw their chance and jumped on it. I think I lasted a day before I went to the class teacher and complained. It was all I could do before breaking down into tears. My teacher laughed it off and said that that's exactly why she wanted her to sit next to me. I did not understand.

The following day, I'd decided that I wasn't going to take things lying down, and partitioned the desk into half, making it clear that all of Sarwani's things should stay on her side of the border, and that at no time should it cross over to mine, lest she'd have to bring her arm into my space and fuel any more controversy. I also asked her to keep the talking to a minimum, or not at all if possible. She was amused. The plan would've succeeded if it weren't for the jerk of a Chemistry substitute sir that we'd gotten for one of our classes one day, who was looking at Sarwani in a rather peculiar way. I didn't notice it at first, but when she turned around I saw that the top button of her shirt had come undone and was hanging precariously low. I had no intention of saying anything to her, but I couldn't keep my mouth shut, so, managed to give her a signal. She looked down, quickly buttoned her top, and gave me a gracious "thank you". It was sort of hard not to talk to her after that.

It's been 15 years since then and even now I am not completely over it. The inhibitions of looking at a woman still linger, and these days when I go for my morning walks and see all the beautiful, fresh faces in front of me (as discreetly as I possibly can), I am still as lost as ever as to what it is I'm supposed to do. I wonder if any of the girls have the same problem, which would indirectly mean that they've taken notice of me as well, and perhaps that would be a little reassuring.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

The Milkmaid

A couple of weeks ago, I'd taken a few photographs of some packets of milk by the side of the road, lying in a bag, in crates, stacked one on top of another. After taking the photos, I asked the vendor, who happened to be a woman if I could take one of hers as well, to which her response was a quick and bashful "अम्मा नक्को!" I smiled, and didn't say a word. The woman was kind enough to have allowed me to take the pictures in the first place, as I'd approached a restaurant the day before and asked them if I could take a photograph of all the delicious dishes that were displayed in their serving area, so that I could post it on the web and show it to my American friends (and maybe when they visit here sometime, they'd like to come to their establishment and try them out), to which the reply I'd gotten was: I'm sorry, but it's against our policy to allow people to take photographs of the food we serve.

Figures. It's always the rich who have hangups like this; the poor almost never have such kinds of qualms. They're quite open-minded and are glad to oblige in any way they can. Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that they've lived a life of perpetual hardship and have learnt how to make compromises along the way. Whereas the rich are as intractable as ever, maybe even more so with every passing year.

So, anyway, a few days after I'd taken the photographs, and mentioned to the lady that I'd already posted it up on the web, and that her milk was now world famous, she kind of hesitatingly asked me--do you think I could get a copy of those photographs to keep for myself? I didn't know what to say, so I said sure. I mean, I'd barely just learnt how to operate the digital camera that my sister had gotten for me, and was still a novice at uploading pictures to my flickr account, so this would definitely pose a problem which I wasn't too sure I'd be able to tackle. A few more days passed, and every day I went to buy milk from the milk-woman, she kind of gave me that look: so, are you going to give me those pictures today, and I would wear my "I'm sorry, but I don't have them today either" expression, which is how it went for the next couple of days, until I stopped going to her completely out of guilt. I would've given her the photographs if I'd only known how to get them developed, but I hadn't a clue, and I didn't want to tell her that and make it sound as if I was trying to stiff her. Nor did I want to give her printouts of the photographs, which would've been easily available at the shops outside my house, as I wanted to give her something a bit more substantial than that.

So I waited, and waited, and waited, for the right opportunity to present itself, and it finally came in the guise of my sister going to one of her friends' place to complete her Project Work, as she needed to download some of her photographs from the net. I saw my chance, and asked her to get mine developed as well. She said sure, and left.

A day passed, and then another, and then another, and then, finally, as I was about to give up hope for the time being, my sister decided to go back to her friend's house to finish the Project Work, and I reminded her to get the photographs. She said she would. Later, that evening, as I was picking her up, I asked her if she'd gotten them, and she handed them to me. I was ecstatic. I couldn't wait to give them to the milkmaid the next morning. She usually gets up at around 4 AM, to relieve her husband, who's been awake since 12 o'clock, waiting for the milk van to deliver the milk. Once everything's unloaded, he sits with it on the sidewalk, making sure it's safe, and then by the time it's 6, everyone starts to come out of their houses to buy their daily quota of lactose. That's when I usually go as well, and today I was more than happy to make the morning trek towards her. She looked as happy as ever, and gave me a smile when she saw me; it'd been a long time since we'd seen each other. I said hello and greeted her husband as well, and then proceeded to give the envelope which contained the photographs to him, just in case he'd mind if I were to have offered them to his wife first, without his permission (you can never be too careful). He looked at them for a second and didn't know quite what to think, at which point his wife came over and saw the photos and told him that those were his crates that he was staring at. He smiled, as did his wife, and I told them both that I was sorry it took such a long while, and then made up a silly excuse/lie that the guy who I'd given the photographs to have it developed had closed his shop for a couple of days (!). They didn't seem to care. I went ahead as usual and purchased my milk, and as I was leaving I put the photos back in the envelope, and the envelope in the plastic bag that I'd gotten (it had rained the night before) and kept it on top of one of her bags, and told her that I was leaving it there. I don't think she understood, because as I was leaving she called out to me and said that I was forgetting the photographs, to which her husband and I both replied in unison: they're for you!

She grinned.