Thursday, November 29, 2007

The Pack Rat Syndrome

My mum always tells me that I suffer from the Pack Rat Syndrome. I just can’t throw things away. I always think that I might need them sometime later and stash them away. Anyhow, I decided to prove my mum (and the rest of the family) wrong by turning out my cupboard. I figured I can prove how I'll need all the things I've kept in there. Uh Oh. Dastardly decision!! Here are a couple (actually, much more than that!!) of things I found in my cupboard. Go on.....have a good laugh at my cost!

Well, to begin with I was almost buried by the bundle of clothes that fell out the moment I opened the doors of my wealth. It took me all of 10 minutes to untangle myself from all the stuff that blessed me from above. So as I began sorting out the things, I found:

1) My swimming goggles. I gave up swimming over 7 years ago. And these goggles have my prescribed power so that I could see clearly in the pool. Well, my power has almost doubled since then,but I can’t throw those goggles away! I mean, if I am thrown out of a ship or something, I'll be able to see something...if not a blurred patch of blue....
2) That kimono top thingy my dad bought for my in Singapore. Sure, it resembles a silk table cloth in a posh Chinese restaurant.....but my dad brought it thinking I'll wear it someday.I cant throw that either-I mean, maybe I can go to some fancy dress competition dressed as a Singapore Airlines Airhostess!!
3) My 8th year birthday frock. It is a pool of Orange organza and tissue. With tiny shimmering beads and a huge bow on the skirt part. My dad brought this on one of his trips as well.I cannot possibly throw that. I mean, birthday nostalgia and all.....full senti trip it sent me off took me 10 minutes to get back and sort out the rest of my stuff...
4) My 10th standard SEEK T-shirt!! This is fairly recent-I even dropped a piece of Pineapple cake on that one!! The stains are off,but the memories of that event will never fade! Okay, so it’s red in colour and I hate red.....but I can’t throw it. Maybe someday I'll start liking red!
5)Four skirts that I've only worn once, never since then...and probably will never wear them. But maybe if my college has something like a skirt day (believe me,we've had days like that before!) then I won’t have I should probably keep all of them...
6) A fluorescent orange kurta. God, what was I thinking when I bought that!! But I must've had some logical explanation....I just can’t I think I'll save it until I think of why I bought it.
7)A huge stack of purple clothes-most of them have all either faded out or I've outgrown them....but still, purple is my favorite colour...and I remember the age when I never bought any other colour!! Sigh.....I have to pay tribute to those memories....I can’t throw them all!
8) My smiley faced socks! I have them in three ghastly colours....fluorescent blue, purple and white......and I can still wear them....maybe on a really cold day I can wear it with my sneakers and one will ask me to remove my shoes, right? I'll at least pray no one does....why waste such ...ahem.....precious socks??
9) A sundress (I think that's what it’s called). It’s black with bright orange spots and at least 5 times bigger than my actual waist size. Must I throw that? I don’t think so-I mean, I may end up growing old all by myself....then I can run away to the Caribbean and become really fat with all their food-then it will fit me perfectly!
10) My copper coloured Silk Pajamas!! (Another one of dad's contribution to my eclectic wardrobe!) So they have some mandarin script on the shirt and the pants don’t even reach my ankles anymore. But still, if I haven’t thrown the Kimono thing...I can’t possibly throw this, right? That poor kimono will need company!

Oh dear! I just re-read all that I've written above. I guess I do suffer from a Pack Rat Syndrome! :(

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

An 'Auto'mated Reaction

Urgh. After trying (very very unsuccessfully) for over 3 months, I still haven’t been able to control my horrid temper. And the subject of today is: the auto. Not one, but the whole lot in general. There was a time when I depended on them to take me to and fro college for 2 years. Then I considered them as bright spots of sunshine (read: jarring yellow coloured rooftops). And now, they only look like some jaundiced three wheelers.

My love-hate relationship with the Autos has been going on for quite a while. Back in Delhi, I’d squeal with excitement if I saw an auto whiz past me. Fatfatiyas, I think, they were called. They were oddly shaped and judging by the number of people squashed inside it, they could easily compete with a minibus! But I was never allowed to go on them. They were considered a taboo. (We South Delhi kiddos took great pride in commuting in the boot of Maruti 800s. They were cozy for two 6 year old girls making faces at everyone behind them!)

And so I grew out of the boot and entered the forested streets (yes, some trees did exist in the Garden City). Here, autos became an essential commodity. Especially in my 11th and 12th standards. My friends and I took a ‘rick’ (as we called it) to college everyday. It was only a distance of 3 kms and no buses went in that route. So we had little option but to take autos….or walk amidst open drains and dusty main roads. And each day was an experience for the three of us. Once, we got a driver who sang all the way to college. Once we got autos with rather ghastly images of knife-stabbing-eye stuck on his windscreen. Once we even got an auto with two drivers. And in the middle of a traffic jam, one of the drivers...get this...... gave a rose to the other! We sniggered non-stop at the back and tried to hide our faces in books!

But you know, despite the weird autos we’d always seem to get, the fares were at least reasonable. The meter would be rigged, but we knew how to pay the right fare and manage our travel finances.

That turned upside down when I came to Chennai. Urgh! My dreams of commuting without a hiccup went for a toss. After a week of sun, sand and bargaining in Goa, I landed up in a similar position. Not the sun or the sand, but a Bargain with the drivers.

So they start off at astronomical rates. And then taper it down to twice the amount you’d pay with a fair meter. You feel like you’ve achieved the impossible when he accepts your ‘quotation’. Only to get home and realize you could have always bargained more. I am awful at bargaining. Simply awful. I prefer order and restrictions which people must abide by so I don’t have to bend the rules. Or maybe I’m just too lazy. But the autos here have taken the little sanity I had left and driven over it. Urgh squared.

The worst thing is, as we’re all being taken for a ride (pun intended) here, no one seems to be doing anything about it. Sure, everyone complains. But it just stops at that.

Well, if you expect a solution in this post, there certainly isn’t going to be one. I just had to rant. About a day full of auto rides. And it seemed so similar to a business proposition, or an auction. The only couple of solutions I can suggest to myself is:
1) Wait patiently for 5 more days and I’m back to the wonderful city of metered autos and a car waiting to be driven (ahem, by me……if I can get it out of my mum’s clutches)
2) Start going for anger management classes. That has to be a priority. The next time I come here, someone is bound to send me to a lock-up for displaying road rash at a couple of innocent looking autos!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Loony Cartoons

When I was barely 7, my school was a 10 minute walk from home….I would sprint to reach the gate and then pant there for a couple of seconds. And then muster up enough energy to go running up the stairs and inside the house. The first thing that would invite me home was not the delicious smells wafting from the kitchen…..or a Cocker Spaniel bounding towards me. What pulled me homewards like a pin to a magnet was in fact, a loony tune……

“Flintstones! Meet the Flintstones.
They’re the modern stone-age fammaleeeee
From the….Town of bedrock
They’re a page right out of Historreeeee

and as the song went on, I’d have a goofy grin plastered on my face and watch the TV without batting an eyelid. Every time Fred got shut out of the house and banged the front door, I’d laugh. I never got tired of watching Dino jump on Fred incessantly. I guess that was the magic of cartoons!

So I grew up watching The Jetsons, The Flintstones, Dexter’s Lab, The Little Lulu Show, The Adams Family, The Popeye show and of course, the unforgettable Scooby Doo.
And most of these cartoons really influenced my life back then. (‘Back then’, in this context, is the mid 1990s. Not some medieval age as I seem to be implying with this nostalgic report.)

I recently happened to read in a book that cartoons do influence children to a large extent. And mostly, in ways that are against ‘appropriate social behaviour’. Call me ignorant, but I certainly beg to differ from that point. Cartoons influenced me in the most bizarre ways possible –

1. I used to think all families must consist of a father, a mother, a sister, a brother and a dog….or a dinosaur, in Fred’s case. I always wondered where my ‘brother’ and ‘dog’ were!

2. I actually believed that the world of Jetsons existed. And that this world was above the sky. And I always suspected that Santa Claus was actually one of the Jetsons disguised as a mortal being. I figured if I’m a really good girl, Santa will take me to meet the Jetsons!

3. I joined Dexter wholeheartedly in believing that Dee Dee was a pest. In fact, I even began looking tall lanky girls with suspicion!

4. I began to use words like ‘Yikes’ and ‘Jeepers’ when I found something scary. The Scooby jargon sort of became a part of my vocabulary.

5. I tried very very hard to curl my hair like Lulu….that only resulted in a long lecture about how ‘I must like myself for who I am’.

These were some small changes that cartoons succeeded in making in my perspective of life. Now, as I look back on these things, I laugh at my incredulous antics. But back then, I was so engrossed in the world of cartoons that it never occurred to me there might not be a Mystery Machine or a nutty Uncle named Fester. I was happy to believe that they all existed. They were more colourful and were extremely sweet to let me share their lives. And somehow, in this blissful state of ignorance, I passed my early school years.

As I grew older, the word ‘technology’ erased my fantasy. I began to learn how these pictures appeared on the screens and they were entirely fictional. I realized that Zombies don’t take over amusement parks, and even if they do, a talking dog can’t rescue 5 teenagers from there. I guess that gullible nature of mine began to dissolve and I stopped staring at little birds on a tree outside my room. (umm…. I used to stare endlessly, waiting for one of the sparrows to say ‘I tot I taw a puttytat!’).

So I was shaken out of that dream world of cartoons. It was replaced by a new world altogether. Harry Potter! But lets not get into that now. There was always this empty space somewhere inside of me that cartoons previously occupied.

In today’s world, where cartoons play no role in my life whatsoever, I see my cousin watching Pokemon, Dragonball Z and all those animated series…..I wonder if he goes into a state of reverie as I used to. I wonder when he plays his pokemon game in the computer, if he feels he’s part of those super-coloured small creatures. Perhaps he is wiser in the world of internet and playstations. But perhaps, that imagination never really dies down in any child…or adult.

This is what I realized when I was flipping channels the other day…I came across an old episode of Tom and Jerry…. I was hooked on to it…and I was watching it with the exact same goofy grin plastered on my face. As Jerry did the cleverest things to escape from Tom, I laughed out loud…without thinking about the fact that cats don’t really survive after a cannonball hits them. See? The magic of cartoons worked again! I was able to ignore all the ‘facts of life’ and engross myself in a completely asinine, loony cartoon.

So in a way, cartoons will always play a rather precious role in my childhood. They got me into believing that Spinach is really strong enough to destroy my ‘enemies’! Well, I know that its true, but I’d like to keep that bit of reality in my fantasmatic world!