Thursday, December 29, 2011

Year We Go Again!

Someone told me that the world would end at the turn of the century, so I spent most of 1999 worrying that I would never get to live beyond eleven.

It didn't help that my parents moved to Bangalore that year, making sure that not only would I not live beyond eleven, but I'd have to stay in a completely alien city without any of my friends when the inevitable would strike. (Of course, now I'd say Bangalore is the least apocalyptic city, given its immunity from earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanoes and cyclones.)

So as we approach the next apocalyptic milestone of 2012, I'll remove the scaredy-cat sunglasses and look forward to a year that promises new beginnings. But I'll finish my final Oh my god so many awesome things happened this year that I don't want to leave 2011 post with a flourish.

The year started with A Return to the Masterland. After spending a great holiday in Bangalore, I wearily returned to Delhi to complete the Big D. The Two Arms were thrilled at seeing me off (partly because I think they were worried that the impending dissertation might have taken a serious toll on my sanity and I may steal a fisherman's boat and row into the Bay of Bengal.) But I finally got the chance to fulfill a childhood wish of wanting to be at the Parade Escapade.

In the middle of chaotic half-edited word documents of various chapters in my thesis, I found the time to write a frantic Birthday Post, which endorsed my dwindling levels of common sense. The Glove Day followed soon after, marking the end of the Blue Moon era on my blog. The Illusive Eyes became the finale to unfinished business, and I packed my bags, leaving India with my Coffee Infactuation.

I returned to this blog a little after my visa expired, to witter endlessly about my Phabulous Phoren summer. The hangover lasted for more than a mere post, so it was followed with the Italian Adventure. When I finally ran out of things to write about, I decided to add a sequel to my Beeyay Trilogy with the Yemmay Yepisode.

Back in the home-city, I figured the first rant I simply couldn't ignore, would definitely Drive You Crazy. The rants continued with my take on Love. And as a nostalgic time-turner, I wrote the Glove Story and a Whimsical Tale.

So it's been a year of adventures, misadventures, sleepless nights, tiring days, worrisome traffic, lonesome monsoons, hilarious moments, engaging friends (and engaged friends), endless conversations, beautiful memories, bizarre situations...and nearly everything has ended with a smile on my face.

As the year draws to a close, I feel awfully like I'm standing at the end of an immigration line, waiting to cross the barrier and enter the country of 2012, as the official stamps my 2011 passport, wishing me a 'Happy New Year'.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

A Whimsical Tale

The Qutub Minar is a silent spectator to a different world. As it towers above the green carpet of foliage in Mehrauli, it watches sightseers scattered among the architectural ruins of its facade. It shudders, as the Metro whizzes past it every couple of minutes. Aeroplanes salute the Minar, as they descend towards the airport. A little after noon, the shadow of the Minar slowly begins to inch towards the old bus stop, where buses are parked for a brief respite from the harsh sun, and drivers tuck into delicious food at the adjoining dhabas.

Behind this bus stop, lies a place. Dismissed as a huge ground with a rusty gate, people often miss seeing the cleanly swept little buildings, the colourful walls and the constant chatter from beyond the gate. A car stops in front of this gate, hesitantly, almost ready to reverse and go back on the main road. But as the rusty gate creaks open, a warmth seems to spread around the car. The buildings look brighter and the walls more colourful. As the car manoeuvres around the gate to park in the grounds, the watchman and several boys run to direct it correctly.

I step out of the car. A small boy, barely two feet tall, runs up to me, fashions a camera with his hands and goes 'Click!'. Three others watch this and begin to giggle. Before I know it, I'm dragged into a room where they're all playing. Hours go by, and we exhaust ourselves by playing every conceivable version of running and catching games. Finally, an older boy walks into the room and announces that it is lunch time. Bone-tired, we troop into the lunch room and grab plates.

Two ladies stand by the food, smiling at every child they serve, as they dole out generous portions of chawal and kadi. The little ones look eagerly into the huge vessel in search of pakodas and they are usually rewarded with a stern look that yields to a reluctant second serving of pakodas. The boys then look pointedly at my plate, so I'm served with extra pakodas as well. When everyone is served, we find a corner in the crowded room and tuck in.

I sit among the slightly older boys now, as they tell me about their schoolwork, talk shyly about their girl classmates and discuss what they'd like to do when they grow old enough to live independently. Before we know it, lunch time ends and we all scatter. The boys go into their respective classes and as I look around wondering what to do next, the little ones come back running and demand a story.

We find a shaded corner on the rooftop and settle down as the winter sun smiles benevolently on us. I begin telling them the story of Hansel and Gretel....but they children start pitching in their suggestions. The witch in the story develops fangs and becomes a ghost at midnight. The children get superpowers as they escape from the witch. The story begins to turn wild and grows completely out of a 'fairytale' proportion, but the kids enjoy weaving this tale so much, I don't have the heart to bring them back to the actual story. We get carried away, involving Harry Potter in the rescue mission as well. By now, the group of five little kids has turned into almost eleven kids of all ages, two puppies that alternate between whining and snoring, and the watchman, who comes to check the commotion. As the clock inches towards four, I reluctantly wrap the story up with a Happily Ever After. The kids let me go only on the condition that I return the next week with another story like this.

As the car slowly manoeuvres its way out of the boundaries, I glance at the rear view mirror. The kids are waving merrily for about two seconds, before they disappear into the rooms, eager to continue playing. On the entire journey home, I try combining my imagination and knowledge of fairy tales to come up with another bizarre story for our next meeting.

There is a change in the way I look at life. For those four hours, I'm treated with unconditional affection. The kids don't care if my hindi has an accent, if I can't really match their speed in running, or if I'm wearing my oldest and most threadbare sweatshirt. I'm there, we play, and that's enough. There are few places in this world, that welcomes you with such a bright atmosphere, brushing all your blues away. Some day, I'd love to go back, stand on the rooftop of the building and watch as the Qutub Minar salutes this unnoticed, quaint place every noon.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

A Glove Story

I love reading the acknowledgement page of every book. It gives me a wonderfully voyeuristic peek into the author’s life, and the people she has been influenced by. In fact, I began my Master’s thesis with the acknowledgement page! It was the one page where my fingers flew flawlessly across the keyboard. So today, I write an acknowledgement post. (Just in case, you know, my book does get published and I have *no* time for writing this because I'd be jet-setting on book tours).

This is an acknowledgement to the gal-pal-gang that has undoubtedly influenced my life in so many ways. Initially, we were seven girls, most of us out-of-towners, a little lost in a huge city. We met each other in class, went on a couple of completely crazy trips (that have all been recorded faithfully here) and became friends for life.

So this post is dedicated to them. I warn you, it is a long, somewhat narcissistic (what isn’t?) and definitely an indulgent post on a group of seven people, fondly (and otherwise) referred to as The Glove.

Why, Glove, you ask? It's simple, really. Initially, we started off as a group of seven *single* girls out to explore the country's most romantic spot, The Taj Mahal, on Valentine's day. We believed in the theory of No Love, Only Glove.

But today, as I write this, I see each of the Glove slowly biting the dust (all in good ways, so no complaints). Honestly, I assumed that when the glove would find love, the whole BFF theory would fizzle out....but it hasn't, and that's what makes us what we are. So here are some quirks about the Glove, and what makes us the wacky group that we are.

I'll start alphabetically (because that way, like how it has been *all my life*, I can ensure I leave the best for the last. Which would, uh, be me. This would be the time when I'm glad I'm isolated in a city faaaar from the rest of you.)

The Fiery Nair, Aishwarya : I've tagged her blog for a reason. A couple of lines is simply not enough to describe her. Currently suffering from a major bout of Birthday Bipolar Disorder where she is showing Manic episodes of 'YEEEAYYYY MERA BUDDAY AANE WAALA HAI' all over Depressive episodes where she's re-watching a million photographs and tagging us in emo posts about how we won't be in Delhi for the birthday, she is a total patakha. Aish is someone who can give Diwali an inferiority complex. My encyclopedia of rare and extremely cheapad songs. If a Glove version of Kolaveri Di ever turns viral on Facebook, we'll know who's responsible.

Al the Maal: (even though Al is phonetically supposed to rhyme with Fal of Falcon) Maal, she is. The face that has inspired random canteen boys at DU south to fraandship her on facebook, giving us so much fodder for gossip. Alika, or Potate, would cease to function without the internet. In fact, she'd be forced to invent her own browsing device - an ALternet. :P Nonetheless, thanks to you, we have Muttley, the official Glove pet! And yes, your stalking abilities know no bounds. I'm still very grateful for that long 479 bus ride where you answered almost every arbitrary query I had about the origin of life. Go figure!

Indu, the Blue Moon: When she first told me her name meant the moon, I didn't realize how true she lives up to the phrase - a blue moon. Her appearance on cyberspace is really a celestial miracle. But all said and done, she's an extremely witty and hilarious person to be around. From that moonlight excursion at JNU (and yes, I did think there were kidnappers lurking in all those secluded forests inside.) to long long walks in Dortmund, Indu's presence in the Glove is no less than 4 Daler Mehendis in Tunak Tunak Tun (which we will *definitely* rework on.)

Mash, The Subtle Bihari Vajpayee: Mahashweta is what we call, the anticlimax of subtlety. We've been caught like deer in headlights SO many times by her blatant observations, but her winning smile has always gotten us through the embarrassments!

A small example of this would be:
Al: Psst. Don't look now, but that creepy dude in the library is watching us here again.

Mash: Really? *Lights up* Where? Where? *Looks everywhere, making sure even non-creepy dudes look at us now* I can't see him ya!

Mash, we love you for those priceless gems in the canteen! And the maggi cravings. And the salient, but strong stability you bring to us insane ones.

Mizaj, the Photu-Behen: Words can't describe her, because she will hand you 15 GB worth of pictures that can! She has, in her own inimitable style, captured every emotion, every moment and every thread of the fabric that makes the Glove. But behind the lens, lies a very special person. (who *just* cannot pick up the phone, damn it.) Again, my encyclopedia for a *million* odd doubts about everything. Also, the reason for Glove opening its arms to a new member, Butter-in-Law. :) (You *do* know that our presence may somewhat turn the wedding into a bollywood masala movie, right?)

Goswami, the Mommy: Sneha (sometimes, I forget that's what your parents named you!) is the Mommy of the Glove. In fact, she's The Mommy. Period. Be it making us reach college on time, or settling the constant random squabbles, mommy's presence is impossible to miss. Those Janpath raids for earrings and Sarojini raids for Gladiators, I love watching mommy bargain with all the bhaiyas. Of course, her most precious dialogue is only meted out to us: Chappal Marungi tere ko! And of course, we never take her threats seriously. No one can, when it is meted with that electrocuting smile!

Aaaand Me: Haha. So I figured I'd write a long glowing list about my awesomeness, and then realized, this blog does that anyway. :P I shall spare the readers. This. One.Time.

So this makes up the seven rare species that make the Glove. We redefine 'Fraandship'. 'Nuf said.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Of Love and Leptospirosis

I can think of no other 'young adult' who would use Love and Leptospirosis in the same phrase. But then again, what's the point of a blogpost if the title doesn't catch your attention. It's monsoon time (okay, meteorologically speaking it may not be. But where I come from, it rains perpetually.) Time for two conditions, both equally debilitating and capable of losing your sanity over. If you clicked on this post because of the title, then you would belong to either of the given two categories.

a) Love - Ah, so you're a sucker for the 'Happily-Ever-After' *Heart-Heart* type stories, aren't you? I don't mean to sound like a cynic, but they only exist in Mills and Boon. If those books weren't so darned unputdownable during turbulent flights, I would've been the first person to diss them. But they really cure me of aerophobia and I have nothing against them. It's just the illusion that they create about eternal love, which makes me cynical. And I hate that. I want to be able to believe in things like 'Love at First Sight', bumping into Prince Charming at a completely random place, reunions with old friends - the fodder for all these books. But reality steps in and takes over my hyperactive imagination.

Actually, reality steps in a little too hard.

Now when I see the rains, I don't worry about not having someone to dance around the trees with. I worry about...

b) Leptospirosis -- In case you haven't heard of it, it is a rare case of rat-fever that occurs most commonly during monsoons because of rats and waterlogging. If there is such a thing as a perfect couple, its rats and sewer water. (You must be thinking what on earth has happened to this person, jumping from love to sewers in a single page!!). But its true. A disease that is rampantly gaining awareness (if not patients), due to the ideal conditions this city presents.

Sigh. I want to go back to being the old me. Seeing rains and running out to the terrace. Seeing kochhe (kichad, for the non-kannada colloquial connoisseurs) and jumping in it with full force so I can get my friends' shoes all icky. (if you haven't already concluded I'm weird from the title, then this should clinch it.) Walking in a drizzle to eat ice cream with hot chocolate sauce. Just staring at the pearly downpour.

For love, I'd trade my Prince Charming for Pied Pieper anyday.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Driving You Crazy.

It's 9.10, and I have class in ten minutes. I gulp down the last bite, race down one flight of stairs, race back up to take the keys, then race down three floors (stopping at second floor auntie's landing to check my hair in the mirror) and sprint to the parking place where my stately car is parked, knowing that it is about to endure another arduous journey.

Driving in Delhi is always fun. It's like one of those roller coasters that offer a thrill, but you know you're not going to get a cardiac arrest halfway through because of its steep turns or sudden twists. Like a predictable, tame, roller coaster. Leaving you with a warm fuzzy feeling, that you generally get after drinking Hot Chocolate on a cold night.

No, I'm serious! And this is coming from someone who only drove a car for the entire distance of about ten meters into the garage. After having had a license for over five years. Among other things, Delhi gave me the courage to get behind the wheel. The wisdom to calmly step on the accelerator when you may have caused havoc due to a bad U-turn. The knowledge of profanity in several languages (mostly Kannada, though. Given that Delhiites don't know the native language of us Bangaloreans. Or that this language even exists.). The thrill of overtaking a flashy neon car with weird bumper stickers and yelling 'Baap ka Raasta Hai Kya?' And the suspense of watching a signal meltdown as two irate drivers bring out their weapons to fight about a harmless bumper-touch-bumper accident.

But living near the ring road spoiled me completely. In two minutes, I'd be cruising along the flyover-ridden, signal-free wide lanes with no worry about oncoming traffic. And the campus spoiled me further with ample parking space and empty lanes.

But then I came home. And so did my poor car, which no longer had the distinction of being the only KA on campus. It has to endure a 7 km journey across narrow roads with two way traffic. What's worse, is that I go on this creepy flyover that becomes a one-way after 9 in the morning. So if I'm caught on it at, like 8.59, the oncoming traffic just decides to bombard me.

The other day, I was harmlessly stalking a auto-trailer type gaadi. No, seriously, I was going on the same road as him for over twenty minutes, and the man sitting at the back with all the furniture or something was convinced I was following him. Of course, I didn't feel the need to overtake him despite having lots of room. And I kept smiling cheerily at him. And it hit me (a thought, not the gaadi.)

I missed driving in Delhi. I missed switching on the morning radio and listening to Mausam Mausi's bekaar vichaar, despite having the mad rush to reach on time. I missed cursing every git who drove in the wrong lane on that IIT-Delhi-Adhchini crossing. I missed turning smoothly into my green campus and having the choice of picking *any* slot to park. Most of all, I missed being the sole KA in a roadful of DLs.

Delhi, it took you just two years to drive me completely crazy about you. And now, I take this wisdom and drive everyone else crazy with my crazy driving. And it's totally worth it.


Note: When I'm bored, I like to drive at the speed of 40kmph on an empty road while singing 'Hey There, Delilah!' loudly to myself. This is just a statutory warning for those who sit beside me in my car, or have the misfortune of being behind my car. No, I don't let people overtake me. And yes, I get bored easily. I have the attention span of a fruit fly.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

A Yemmay Yepisode

The Beeyay trilogy was all about getting back at people who assumed I must've done a BA because:
a) Beeyay I - I failed miserably in my bored exams, which would, in essence, mean I failed miserably in Life.

b) Beeyay II - I am a girl. It doesn't matter what I do anyway.

c) Beeyay III- I want to become famous, so I can go around giving interviews about having risen above the sheep and chosen 'the road not taken'. (Okay, so *maybe* I can hope for this one to actually come true.)

Anyway, I spent three years of my life running away from any social situation that reeked of subliminal career inquisitions. And then I cleared the Yemmay program. To a mere ignorant, a Yemmay is just another degree. But to me, it is a key to gain entry into a socially approved educational level. Simply put, a Yemmay comes somewhat *close* to that much revered BeeYee or YemBeeBeeYess. Because a Beeyay was, of course, just something we all did to pass time. This is the *real* degree.

A Yemmay makes me all sound post-graduate-y and the gives me the infinite license to unleash my psychoanalytical powers on the poor unsuspecting relative-aunties who had made the mistake of asking me if I could "Read Minds". (Actually, it's a trick I've followed for quite a while now. I give them this intense intellectual look and they actually do get flustered thinking I'm overanalyzing them...when in fact, I'm wondering what's for dinner. At their place.)

A Yemmay qualifies me to talk about issues of Child and Adolescent Mental Health, and not be considered as part of that age-bracket. Gone are the days of 'What would you know? You are just a child'.

A Yemmay is a Yemmay. Just that. A Master. And not just of Disaster (as I like to call myself. I mean, on one single day, I managed to collide into three wheelchairs and startle the living daylights of the people in them, just because I was concentrating on the cobble-stoned paths of Germany.) Being called a Master of something is one hell of an ego-massage. (And I don't mean pets.)

To me, the Yemmay opened a whole new world (and I say this with the *exact* sentiment Alladin used while cavorting on a magic carpet with Jasmine.) I re-discovered the city I considered myself an eternal part of, when I was seven. I made a group of friends who are as inseparable as the fingers of a Glove. I interned in the country's best hospital and met some of the most interesting people ever. I learnt to live independently and work towards something I actually believed in, and not something I had to do because others *approved*.

So Yemmay I am. In Clinical Psychology, no less. And when I started writing this post, it started off as an 'Open Letter to all aunties and uncles who think a Beeyay is worthless and a Yemmay is worthless-and-a-half' (Because Open letters are, apparently, the key to getting a lot of hits on your blog.) But halfway through, I ended up realizing how much the Yemmay means to me, and I don't want to deride it by defending it so vehemently anymore.

My Yemmay has effectively placed the proverbial speed breaker* on all comments and retorts about my choice of education now.

Although, I kind of wish it could make me look a little older and wiser. While attending an interview at this huge hospital recently, the lady managing the appointments looked at me (and I was carrying my marks cards and sporting a rather unnecessarily wide smile. Which was obviously odd, given that I was in a psychiatric ward.) and called the psychiatrist to tell her, 'Doctor. Patient for the 3.30 appointment has arrived.'

And I had gone to a Child Psychiatrist. Sigh.

* For all the non-kannada-non-tamil speaking people: A Yemmay not just an accented MA. It is actually, a buffalo. Hence the proverbial speed-breaker. If you want an actual demonstration of the fact, I suggest you drive down any residential road in Bangalore. They'll be there to greet you.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Una Fetta di Fantasia

A Slice of Fantasy. *That's* how my trip to Italy was. Covering 4 cities and 1 country (The Vatican) in 5 days, and having a blast every minute of those days, is nothing short of a fantasy. Of course, given my manic obsessive self, I'm surprised how it even got covered so well so fast. Therefore, I begin this post with a huge hug to the four girls I shared this fantasy with. Had I traveled alone, I may have still landed up stranded at midnight in Florence, lived in a campsite in Venice, overdosed on Sangria in Milan and navigated through the streets of Rome.....but it wouldn't have been half as fun as it was doing ALL of this with you guys. :) So I-M, Potate and Fiery-Nair (yes, that's your new blog-name. I got tired of calling you Ash like a wannabe Aishwarya Rai groupie), I hope reading this post brings back lots of great memories.

We packed off, switched three trains and traveled through Switzerland to reach our first destination - Milano. Other than the fact that I absolutely *loved* the facade of Milano Centrale, the main station (It has nothing to do with the fact that they have a huge poster of half-naked Nadal advertising Armani jeans -nosirree.), the station represented the city itself - Glamorous and Gigantic. Whether it was exploring the city by tram or walking through the famous Galleria Vittorio (which houses all the famous Italian fashion brands), Milan took the prize for being a perfect blend of Modernity and History. It was like flipping a page of Roman Civilization and landing at FTV. But the food -ah! From Pizzas that could give tablecloths an inferiority complex (for the sheer size....not the texture or any other bizarre reason you may have thought of as you read the line), to fruity Granitas and Sangria. The eye-candy (Ahem, henceforth referred to as Pakodas) were aplenty. And the lilt in the accent of every Milanese (is that a dog-breed or am I allowed to use it for people of Milan?) was so endearing, we ended up speaking to each other like wannabe Italian Mafia with huge mustaches and cigars. (Read: Tom Hanks' dialogue in You've Got Mail, where he goes 'Monday-Tuesday-Thursday-Wednesday')

From Milan, we went to Venice. Expecting singing Gondola-men and beautiful little rivulets which can lead you to undisclosed pieces of heaven, I went to Venice with an overload of Romantic movies in my mind. I discovered soon enough that The Gondola-men don't sing. Not even if you glare down at them from a bridge(The honeymooning couple sitting in that Gondola did glare back, though.) We found ourselves a little place in the tourist hustle and bustle, and threw our feet in the Adriatic Sea with a view of the Venetian Skyline (or a bit of it, at least). Watching the many many channels of water meandering through a city that practically floats, I was lost to its charms. So I didn't find Venice as romantic as my Mills-and-Boon infested imagination had expected it to be. But it wasn't disillusioning either. It's one city I'd love to go back, just to explore all those little canals, leading to what they would call their home, but I'd call a floating fantasy.

Venice led us on further to Florence. The city I will most probably end up when I'm old and need to write those books I keep talking about. I *loved* Florence from the very beginning. The yellowed buildings (which would have reminded a less romantic me of Jaundice) made me think of sunshine and old pages from a history book. Watching the silvery Arno river wind its path through the heart of the city, I decided that I'd go back and find myself a house and live happily ever after here.

From Florence, we went to Rome. Now the only plan I had in Rome was to steal coins from the Fontana dell'Amore (because, of course, *that's* how one finds true love. If you're cynical about it, go watch When in Rome.). Instead of finding the fountain (which turned out to be fictitious, by the way. Sigh.), I found a city that is so quaint, it's like going into a parallel time-frame. The cobblestone streets, the marble beauty of Pantheon, La Piazza Espagna and Fontana di Trevi and little cafes that dot the entire city made me wonder how people can even live normal lives in this city. If it were me, I'd be constantly wandering around town, discovering a new marvel each day. (Yes, because having lived in one of the most historically beautiful capitals in the world, New Delhi, I haven't had the time to even go to Lodhi Gardens, and here I hatch plans to Wander in Rome.)

Rome prodded us towards the Vatican, which, true to the cinematography of Angels and Demons (which I saw *after* my trip to Italy), is magnificent. Of course, winking at the Swiss Guard was not exactly the kind of behaviour the papal decree would expect.....but ah, that *was* fun!

This brought us back to Milan, which led us homeward through Switzerland again. The journey held with it, a potluck of memories from every city that's unforgettable. Sitting for hours in a fountain outside a castle (Castello) in Milan and watching life whoosh by. Searching an entire city for Hot Chocolate, but finding it in a campsite outside Venice and relishing every sip. Missing the last bus in Florence and walking along the empty, sleeping streets. Holding maps and trying to find the shortest path to any destination in Rome, but getting lost and discovering better places instead. Meeting strangers in trains, weaving stories of strangers not met in trains. Watching the beautiful lakes of Switzerland melting perfectly into the Alps. This trip truly was - Una Fetta di Fantasia.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Phabulous Phoren

So I'm now Phoren-Returned. After having spent a refreshingly long summer 'abroad', I feel the need to proclaim to the world that I too, have a slightly blurry, but very dark stamp on my passport from the Immigrations office at IGI airport, New Delhi. Of course, my first Phoren experience was when I went to Singapore at the age of fourteen, but that didn't quite count because:
a) We flew Air India (which had more Indians in it than I would find in Sarojini Nagar).
b) We stayed in Little India (which, again, reminded me of Gandhi bazaar in Bangalore for some bizarre reason).
and c) We ate primarily in Indian restaurants. (It was at least better than going to McDonald's and asking them to give us burgers without the meat patties....which we did a fair number of times before resorting to Indian food.)

So yes, Singapore? Fun Phoren destination, but never made me feel Phoren-returned.

Let's get back on the widely oscillating trajectory of the post, then, shall we? Today, I truly feel Phoren-returned. For a wide range of unfathomable reasons that I've tried really hard to convince my parents with...but hasn't entirely worked.

I am jet-lagged. Have been for the past week or so. And I suddenly feel the urge of using words from a phoren language when I'm particularly exasperated or excited. I also feel like I should turn up my nose at the pizzas in India because I've sampled the tastes from their ancestors and I have friends on my facebook profile who do not share my ethnicity, nationality or colour.

See what two years in Delhi has done to me? Freshly Post-Graduated and I'm already acting like a typical Delhite who won't think twice before proclaiming to the world about being phoren-returned and having made contacts-shontacts. But it's fun to live this vibrant life, given that my past few months are going to be the fodder for many daydreams in the coming months, until I find myself a path...which we shall delve into later.

Details? Well, I went to Germany for a three month summer program working with people having Autism Spectrum Disorders. Social Inclusion was our primary motive and in the process, I got the opportunity to observe a vast range of therapeutic techniques that is being used for people with various types of mental disabilities. Before this begins to resemble a Statement of Purpose, I'll drive home the point that it was a mind blowing experience for me. Not only did it strengthen my career ambitions to work in this field, but gave me direction and perspective that should hopefully, tide me through the next couple of months ridden with utter joblessness.

That being said, I spent a huge amount of time this summer travelling. Finally, the word 'travelling' in the 'Interests' section can hold some solid ground. The one question that most people bombarded me with on my return was (Hang on...I like how that sentence sounds! Almost as if paparazzi was waiting outside IGI airport with mikes and cameras, eagerly asking me...haha. Right. Moving on.) 'Did I like Phoren more than India?'

Honestly? I definitely liked the Phoren. Sure, the population density is far less claustrophobic, the public transport is cleaner, if not more punctual. The scenery is more post-cardish. The nights are eerily quieter. In fact, the nights are much shorter, given that the sun would only reluctantly retire at 10.30 and promptly wake up at 4.30. There was some sense of safety as well, I suppose, given that we were stranded in Florence at 1 in the morning and I didn't really feel the urge of running to the nearest Police station. And of course, there was the definite aura of being in a 'developed' country, as a lay and under-read follower of economics would put it.

But being in Phoren-land didn't deter me from playing the National Anthem on a piano in the city center. It didn't stop me from talking to complete strangers in a Cathedral in Milan, and later in a campsite in Venice just because they were Kannadigas and I felt like I should socialize. (See how I keep dropping hints about where all I went so innocuously? The posts that will follow will reek of narcissism, my friend. This is but a gentle reminder of the fact.) It didn't stop my friends and me from loudly conversing in Hindi wherever we went, knowing very well that heads would turn and ears would prick up. (Incidentally, I discovered that Indians are everywhere. In fact, we climbed over 580 steps to touch the peak of cathedral at Cologne, just to see someone having scribbled something in Tamil on the walls there. And don't get me started on the graffiti in Hindi I found on the Berlin wall.) It didn't stop me from flicking the cheese and crackers from my airline meals, because I didn't feel like eating them at that moment. It certainly didn't deter me from singing songs out loud in the rain, because it would be something I would do in India, and Phoren was no different.

When the stewardess brought my fantastic phoren journey to a halt by announcing 'We welcome you to New Delhi's Indira Gandhi International Airport..the outside temperature is 36 degrees', I couldn't wait to be enveloped by the stifling humid air and the claustrophobic dense population and the cacophony and chaos of the city.....I came home.

Apparently, you can inject any amount of Phoren-ness into my passport, but you can never take out the Indian from me. Before I start sounding like an over-patriotic 'phoren-returned' phool and start singing Vande Mataram, I will conclude this post. This is just a teaser, an introduction to a summer that is going to be chronicled on this blog for the lack of better things to do. Also, because I like to show off a little bit.

P.S. Speaking of Vande Mataram, have you seen the 'Jaya Hey' video released by The Times group? It contains all the verses to our national anthem composed by Tagore. It's been sung by people all over the country and is total goosebumps-throat-drying-I-crying worthy. And promise, not because I have a sudden surge of patriotism in me or anything.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

A Crime called Coffee

'A lot can happen over a cup of coffee', goes the cliched tagline of a chain of Coffee shops. Truer words have never been said. Coffee is a crime for me, and a lethal one at that. Karma plays its cards well when it comes to retribution, and coffee justifies that perfectly in my case.

Most people I know cannot function properly without their morning dose of caffeine. In fact, it isn't too hard to state that the levels of caffeine in the body is inversely proportional to the grumpiness in a person. How a simple drink can change the mood of people, I really can't fathom. The seemingly simple brownish liquid manages to elevate even the Scrooge-est of moods I've known. Oh well, I make do with an Apple (which, according to Scientific reports, has an equivalent amount of the 'waking-up' ingredient as a cup of coffee, or several even.)

So why did I bring in Karma for a post on Coffee? Fair enough question to be asked, if you didn't know me. Since childhood, I've had this urge to drink what the grown ups drink. After having fussed and fumed, I would have my wish and my grandfather would dilute some of his special coffee. (incidentally, at my grandparents place, the only person authorized to make coffee was my grandfather. No one was ever allowed to touch his little coffee making corner. And his coffee was the best I'd ever had, so no one dared infringe upon such culinary mastery anyway!).

When no one would look, I would add about two huge tablespoons of decoction to my Bournvita and sip it like it was the usual healthy drink I needed to live the life of that ideal 'kid' in TV ads. I've abused coffee to the extent of even adding excess of it in this homemade Tiramisu, several years ago...creating a masterpiece that could cause war between Italy and India.....a more lethal and poisonous weapon you wouldn't find.

Cafes have also played a role in building up Karma against Coffee. From trying out every single coffee shop near home in Bangalore and laughing about them, to replicating horrendous recipes at home, clearly, the God of Coffee was not amused with me blatantly abusing his gift to mankind. (Why do I feel that Coffee has a male creator? Because of what happened to me. I would like to take this moment to regress back to childhood and think all boys are snot. Therefore, Coffee has a Male god.)

So today, as I write this, I can no longer taste another cup of Coffee. No longer experiment with the marvels of random coffee related desserts. No longer agree to meet people in Coffee Shops unless they have more than just coffee to order. Why, you ask?

I'm allergic. To Coffee. When I tell people that, they look at me incredulously. How can someone be allergic to 'Coffee'?? Aren't people allergic to Peanuts and Strawberries and seemingly common but exotic things that are respected in the field of allergens? Pollen, even? But no. Of all the allergies I've had (and believe me, there have been quite a few...I went through a phase when I was allergic to Chocolate. *shudder*), I had to pick the one ingredient that I loved so much, I would twist and turn and change its shape to fit into any comfort food I ate.

So I walk into a coffee shop and order tea. And bury my face inside the menu until the waiter walks away after giving his customary *Oh-my-god-she's-ordering-tea-in-a-coffee-shop* look. I begin my mornings with Bournvita (which, if you have a creative enough imagination, could come very close to resembling a cup of coffee.). I make do with Cocoa in all instant vending machines as people pick out coffee and tea. And the worst of all, Tiramisu is a long forgotten dream now. Unless, I can manage to master a way of making it without the coffee....but that'll just be incomplete. And don't even get me started about how I cannot eat Coffee Ice Cream.

I now have two extremely bleak options waiting....continue to be the old lady drinking cocoa as the cats watch her outside her lonely apartment, singing 'All by Myself' in a slurry tone (Sigh. This technically shouldn't happen, but it fits the 'bleak option' category brilliantly). Or just sit out this allergy spell and wait for my auto-immune system to pick out something else in a couple of months I'd have to abstain from.

Till then, Coffee, my love, you are a but a Caffeine induced memory of a life that's behind me.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

The Illusive Eyes

Illusive eyes. They peek at you from behind the bushes. They seemingly camouflage amongst the rustling leaves when you look at them. You can feel them watching over as you drink your first cup of tea in the canteen. You feel as though they laugh with you when you crack up over a joke with your friends at the 'adda'. They're always around. Sitting two rows behind you in the bus. Driving behind you as you customarily peek in the rear view mirrors at the signal. You picture them sitting in front of a screen not unlike this one, reading your every word, feeling every emotion.

Why are they illusive? Because they don't exist. But the trauma of one experience is good enough to make you believe that they do. The eyes gaze at you once, and you just know. They'll never be satiated with one glance. The eyes will return to torment you in nightmares, day-mares and probably year-mares even. They have the power to turn you into a paranoid twitcher who constantly glances over her shoulder, almost as if the eyes were to descend on this very second.

*That's* the power of being stalked. Words can never probably justify the feeling, because the eyes do the talking. You haven't seen the eyes before, maybe not in a long while, but you know that they're there somewhere. Watching.

But then again, maybe they're not. Maybe the stalker was content with one look and disappeared into oblivion. How would you tell, though? The paranoia that the stalker leaves behind as a remnant of his deed lurks about you constantly, enveloping you in a cold blanket of suspicion.

It is a strange phenomenon, stalking. Perhaps not everyone falls in the category of those people who seek voyeuristic gratification. Maybe they're simply shy to walk up and talk. Maybe they fear, or even resent, rejection. But how can one tell the difference? Once stalked, the victim pigeonholes all peeping toms into the category of treacherous villains. It isn't easy to extricate an innocuous follower from that pigeonhole, once he has been categorized. Attempts to do so would only show a momentary lapse of caution, maybe vulnerability even.

The illusive eyes fade away with time, one hopes. Maybe, just maybe, the phase is transient and the eyes find another object. Or maybe the eyes come to terms with the fact that some meetings and relationships are simply not destined to be. The Illusive Eyes that they are, the illusive eyes they'll remain.

Friday, April 8, 2011

The Blue Moon's Gone

It feels so gratifying to sign into this thing and click on 'New Post'. Do I have something to talk about? I don't know, really. But to be able to let the fingers flow freely on the laptop is a freedom I've finally found after a long long time. (F'alliteration galore!)

So what kept me busy? Lots of things. Dissertation, Birthday, Farewell, GloveDay..impromptu sleepovers, crazy cricket matches and the eggjams that are peeking at me from around the corner, seeping guilt into my heart as I type this.

So. The big D. For all the people who don't know me but randomly stumbled across this blog because you pressed the 'next' tab on the top right corner of this page, I did a thesis on Play Therapy with Street Children. Extremely gratifying, I must tell you. Not only did it improve my Hindi by leaps and bounds, but it gave me the much needed element of childhood in a life where everyone expects me to grow older. Hmpf. Thankyouverymuch, but I prefer being a kid, still.

Speaking of older, the birthday finally arrived! Began with I-M (I promise I'll come up with a better name soon!!) and Cake-Stealer bringing me cake early in the morning! Ironic, isn't it? Cake stealer bringing me cake? But 'twas fun. And the rest of the day went off pretty fantastically too. Thank you Glove for making the Twenty Three seem Old enough (ahem, my birthday gift) and Young enough (The Balloon that you all willingly let me spank your heads with.)

Speaking of Glove, we also had the Glove Day!! Imagine every conceivable girly thing you would've seen in a cotton-candy world Pajama Party. Now throw that out of the window. We had a celebration that was out of this world. From random badminton competitions to pretending to spit paan on newly painted Connaught Place pillars on a deserted Sunday, we managed to take an ordinary day and turn it into an extraordinary memory! A speshal mention to Al's super-cool parents who let us party like there was no tomorrow in her house!! And Muttley for giving us the much needed exercise. First running towards him to play with him, and then running away when he got over-excited and tried to nip your ankles.

And then came the Farewell (I don't think I'm going in any particular order, but whatever) Naaaaice it was :) 'Nuf said.

So Master's is officially over. I should really get cracking on the 'Oh, so you're a Yemmay now' post. Well, it's not officially over since I have the eggjams to devour. So yes, abrupt ending to this post that was threatening to enter a nostalgic blackhole.

Good night, Good luck, and the Moon is waning the Blue-ness! (Uh. I think that means I'm going to be more regular in posting things on this super-colourful page.)

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Twenty past Three

Okay, It's exactly twenty three days before I turn twenty three. And it is time for the customary Birthday Post!! So I've ranted about not wanting to turn old in when I Turned Twenty . At Twenty One , I wished for dreams that actually did come least the practical ones! And then at Twenty Two , I went back to ranting about my age and how I should not be legally allowed to act it.

(Note: The title says Twenty past Three and not Three Past twenty solely because I'm only actually three years old, with twenty years of experience!)

So this year, I'll celebrate my age. So what if I'm turning 23? It's been a pretty fabulous roller-coaster ride so far, I might as well celebrate the age and look forward to growing wiser! So this year, I'll tell you (the two and a half people who manage to find time and read my blog), twenty three fabulous things of being old!

1) My book will be taken more seriously - Yes, I am writing a book (Read: A titled, nicely decorated word document that's been languishing in a secret folder for the past couple of months.) So the older I get, the likelihood of my finding out marvelous secrets about mankind and revealing them to the world increases.

2) I have stilettos. Okay, so I've been shouting out to the whole wide world that I have stilettos. But that *is* a big deal, if you haven't read my turning twenty post already and not figured out that I can never walk in high heels. But now, I can. Without tripping or ripping clothes with the hypodermic needle.

3) I can cuss, drive and swerve to avoid random people who've sent their brains grazing in the middle of Delhi roads. I can also hijack parking spaces, glare at others when it is my fault and use the horn to give a fire alarm an inferiority complex. While it has nothing to do with age, and more with road-rage, I've realized that people actually take me seriously and make way in awe. Or fear (since I still have the "L" board stuck on the car, nice and bright). Hm. Must. Take. Off. "L".

4) I can eat alone in a cafe without feeling awkward. If you've known me from school, I used to be this really clingy person who wouldn't even visit the loo without a friend accompanying me to the two minute walk down the corridor. I just *had* to chat with someone till there and back. But now, I roam free and alone through Delhi, stopping for a bite, without feeling like oh no there's no one to talk to what will I do sitting all alone here for the next five minutes. That's a big deal. (especially since the last time I tried to act all world-savvy and ordered myself a caramel-mocha in a cafe, I had a violent allergic reaction to coffee and had to frantically call my dad to come pick me up. So Cafe, yes. Coffee, no.)

5) I can cook. 'Nuf said. I have graduated from burning water to making Kadi Chawal and really good cheese omelettes. Next mission: Oreo Cookie Cheesecake.

6) I haven't stuffed my head inside pillows out of fear during the last horror movie I watched. But then again, that was Paranormal Activity. And I was almost half asleep, and since all they did in the movie was also sleep, I didn't really understand much of the door-slamming rituals.

7) I have graduated from wanting to marry Harry Potter or Ranbir Kapoor to Ted Mosby, from How I Met Your Mother. (What? Don't snicker. It *is* a big deal, ok? There was a time when I wanted to marry a certain doctor from a Hindi serial. I've really matured with sitcoms.)

8) Bargaining! They always take you seriously if you're old and bargaining. They consider you as the worldly-wise, well traveled arty woman who knows how much she should pay for any article of purchase. It's no wonder I love going to Sarojini Nagar and Dilli Haat these days!

9) I've retired from Facestalking. Yes, I've finally grown tired of Facebook. I haven't facestalked anyone since...well, yesterday, but that was only because my friend asked me to see that one picture and tell........oh well, you get the point. One entire day without facestalking is a HUGE improvement from the churlish compulsive voyeur I used to be.

10) A-Rated Movies! This time around, no one questioned my age when I went to watch No One Killed Jessica. Unlike the last time when I was taken *out* of the line and asked to show my ID over ten times to prove I was over 18. For The Da Vinci Code, of all the movies (which threw A ratings out of the museum and came on national television a year later anyway.)

11) Ordering weird sounding food in fancy restaurants! The servers actually think you've tasted it before and give you a look of respect. As a kid, they'd always give me a wary look thinking I'd ordered it just because I could spell it right. So, Penne Bolongaise, anyone?

12) I haven't torn one single pair of chappals since 2010 January. That is a HUGE deal, dude. Of course, I've pretty much lived in sneakers and converse shoes since then...but you know, sometimes I stare and they tear.

13) I don't care about the number thirteen being unlucky anymore! (Which is probably why I'm not writing down anything here for the fear it will get reversed or come perversely true or whatever.)

14) I'm addicted to Green Tea! I've graduated from the bournvita-fetish to better brewed, healthier and savvier options like Green Tea. (Uh, also because I'm allergic to coffee so I didn't have much choice.)

15) I can *finally* cut a lemon/orange/tomato the right way. (If you're wondering why that should be recorded here, why don't you go try cutting them and figure out which side you're supposed to cut so the maximum juice can be retained. Hah. Mortals.)

16) I can create scenes! Recently, this little girl tried to pickpocket me in the bus...not only did I catch her hand inside my bag, I even yelled at her mother loud enough to send them both scampering out of the bus. (and then felt guilty for days after because I had stopped the 'livelihood' of a young child by preventing her from stealing all my money and cards. Oh dear.)

17) What number are we on? How many more do I have to go? Is my memory already dwindling? time I'll remember to forget incident 16.

18) Parents trust me with their babies! Okay, this has been happening since last summer, because I work with little kids anyway. But not only do parents *not* mind me carrying and playing with their kids, the older ones actually call me "doctor"... (well, that was after I put my foot down and refused to be addressed as 'nurse', 'sister' and 'behenji'.) :D

19) Alcohol doesn't affect me as much as it does other people! BIG deal about being old, I tell you. (Although, if I had tried it earlier, I would've still found this out.) But still, being tolerant to vodka gives me a strange power to watch others dwindling like silly-tunns around me and watching them wisely.

20) Yes, I've tried Alcohol. (If you're still gasping at 19 and wondering where that little kid who irritatingly resembled that other little kid from Kuch Kuch Hota Hai went.) And while it is something that I'm not exactly enamoured with (because it has, like *no* effect on me, dude.), I will still stick to my endless supply of Aerated water to keep me high. (I think my makers up in heaven got a lil bit confused and cross-wired my addiction connections.) Oh, and yes. My parents know. No room for blackmail.

21) I can, in fact, live by myself and not starve, burn the house, flood it, break things or, you know sell it accidentally. It's not like I've done these things before, but now the grown-ups trust me not to do it.

22) I can message fast! Almost as fast as I can type (which is fast dude, so much so that I ditched the idea of writing all this in my diary and put it up here instead, because I'd save time.) That's a big improvement, coming from someone who doesn't know, or really care, where her phone is half the time.

and finally....

23) It's good to be old because I'm ok with growing old! After attaining the wise age of 23, I will have post graduated. So move over, Beeyay Vaishnavi, Hello Yemmay, Vaishnavi! (ok. I'll keep this one in the sidelines until after I'm done with my dissertation, you know. Just in case.)

So here are twenty three reasons why I think it's cool I'm twenty three! *Finally* an attitude change about my age!