My friend.

I pick up the phone. My hand is dripping with blood and I am trembling from head to foot. “Hello! *****, I have just murdered that molesting bastard.” And I hear a click on the other side. She has hung up the phone. I go back to trembling, but now that dread is slowly subsiding. That person on the other side, is – I know – madly running and sliding to get to me, after she has thrown all her cash into a bag. I might need it!

She arrives, and takes one look at the situation. A few hours later, I am bathed and clean and the body is nowhere to be found and, never will be. She has helped me hide it! And we both sit down to celebrate the passing away of one more ass hole from this world!!

That’s my friend!!

She came to me late in my life. At a point when I was very comfortable with myself. I had very few friends, and very few friends had me! A stubborn me was about to change.

I love her and admire her. She has told me stories about her family, some are printable and some not. Her mother, who has baby sat her dogs for 2 months, her easy going baby brother, who when, push comes to shove does away with drama in one bloodless slash, her husband, who has the principals of – well I don’t know whom to compare him to, not seen another like him. Her son, whose smile melts the hardness around people, and her dog, who has made me his girl friend. And listening to these stories, was learning. Without realizing I have lost a lot of hardness and biases.

Today, we as a group bid her farewell. Well, I wont! For one, she luckily moves to a city, which is second base for me. I have already booked a snoozing room in their home. For another, friendships never come to an end. Most good ones, go over lifetimes. And this one bloody well had better!

I have always felt, that life is a series of crossroads. We walk down a few longer than others. But when one road comes to an end, it’s always nice to remember the scenery and memories and look forward to walking down another.

I wish everyone, a friend, who will help you hide the body of that person, you murdered!

Advertisements

My hands..

I wrote his exactly 17 plus years ago for the son! I have just unearthed old pictures and both the kids’ baby books. I’m alone in Bangalore, and chuckling loudly. Ive perhaps had the best morning in a lot of mornings.

 

I’m very irritated!!

My hands, they wont co-operate,

They move on their own accord….

… and leave me feeling desperate.

 

The other day..

I felt a tickle in my nose.

I tried to scratch it, and

I got pretty close.

But, zooped slipped my hand.

With a might of its own, they

Went and scratched my cheeks.

Boy! You should have heard me shriek.

 

New Year’s eve was another story.

Mamma felt Oh! So sorry.

I was trying to hold a conversation over the phone

With someone in the other zone!

Instead my hand grabbed my hair and yanked it hard.

And it just wouldn’t let go,

Till I howled off the ground floor.

 

Yesterday didi (Kanak) kissed me very hard.

It hurt, so I wanted to scratch her back.

Obviously.. my unsteady hands.

Patted her cheeks instead.

 

Because, of all these problems.

I howl when I’m unwrapped.

I like to stay tied up because,

Then I know..

My naughty hands are trapped.

 

Tanay Somani

2nd January 1996

Thirani House. Breach Candy.

photo

No time to stand and stare….

I am busy de cluttering, reorganizing files, throwing away tons of useless stuff, and leading a laid back indolent life. There is no kid at home to feed, drop or shop for. The work is on auto mode, and so far the empty nest is not biting at me.

A few days ago, people who are not used to see me doing nothing, said I couldn’t keep living this way. I should find some work! Knowing the old me, it was a very well meaning and concerned statement. I have always given out this image, that if I am not busy, I shall wither away and die.

I have spent years and years being “busy”. First school, the need to excel (not in studies!!), college, early marriage, coping with a new set of parents and grandparents, family crisis, kids, their schooling, my 19 hour work days, the need to prove myself, my further education, then the kids going off! Whew! When did I breathe?

I have a huge lacuna in my music files, off those years when I was newly married and kids were skirt pulling, attention seeking toddlers.

Now, I look into all household and work responsibilities in the morning. Then I am free. And indolent. And laid back. And lazy. Some days I watch downloaded serials for hours, some days I DJ and mix music endlessly, and other days I read incessantly. I party most nights, and find friends who can help me with that.

I absolutely, adamantly with stomping feet, vehemently, refuse to be useful any time soon. We live in a world of the unknown, and soon an emergency will draw me out of my sloth state. For nothing remains the same forever.

I sit now and watch butterflies flit across the garden. I watch my favorite tree bloom and shed its beautiful flowers. I slurp honey collected from a neighboring beehive. I have a beer in the afternoon and wine with my husband at night. I meet friends, and write love notes to my kids. I blog. Its all one big “I” right now.

Blooming trees andfliting butterflies.
Blooming trees and fliting butterflies.
my time to stand and stare.
my time to stand and stare.

This summer my elder one read books, woke up late and was basically a retarded non-productive human being. When I chided her, she made a statement, which has made me sit back and think. This is definitely the one time they can be most productive, but this is also the time when they can bask under the protective atmosphere of their parents and not worry about the next meal or the next promotion. Four months in college, are spent, working furiously, trying to prove her self to herself. Cooking, cleaning and basically always remaining alert. At home she lets go. Someone else is doing the worrying, feeding and protecting. When will she be able to do this in future?

We all get so busy in our lives, that, we forget to count the stars.

Now I sit and think. A lot of me has changed. I have shed the overcast cloud of influence of one person who had me in her grip for as long as I can remember. Free from her power over me, it now does not matter that she is angry or upset with me. The lightness of being is terrifying. It is taking some getting used to. With barriers dropped I am doing things I have never done. Making friends and becoming a non-biased, non-judgmental person.

All this reminds me of a story. A busy white collar, climbing the ladders of success and promotions, had a flat in a small road in Goa. While a shabbily dressed but peaceful looking man, repaired his flat, the white collar could not help feeling distressed at the laid back attitude. He asked the Goan “ Why don’t you work? “ “ What will happen if I work?” asked the Goan. “ Well! You will earn money. Get rich. Buy a house and then retire. Then you can live a peaceful life” The Goan smiled and said, “ Why should I break my back and earn money, to do what I am already doing?” Not necessarily, what we want to teach our children, but there is some element of truth in it.

This is another crossroad in my life. I am walking down one path. I might not reach the end, and might turn back and take another road. But for the moment every scenery of this path is breathtaking.

 

 

 

T is for Travelling

The formula of my life has changed.

(Kid 1 + Kid 2 * Grade 12 = Gone for Undergrad ) * 4 years = Empty Nest.

There fore Empty Nest * What to do? + Work on automation = Travel.

There fore Travel * Travel= Travel (2)

Therefore Travel (2) * Packing + Shopping = Crisis.

 

I have never packed in my life. Ever! Well except for this once, when I was returning back from my course in London, after 3 months. The husband does it for me. I pull out all that I need to carry, and leave it on the sofa. He comes in and sweetly packs it all in and asks if I have anything left out. Yes! I agree! He is adorable. When we were newly married, I, like all good wives, offered to pack. Sometime later I heard him clearing his throat, trying to find a way to tell me to buzz off! I think I was a bit offended then, but trust me, now it’s a sacred pact between us. I shop, he packs.

The one time I had to pack all on my poor own,  was when I was returning back home after 3 months. And as the date to depart neared I was horrified and biting my nails in desperation. I had not packed a bag for a 2 day holiday, and now here was 3 months worth of luggage, equipment, shoes etc staring accusingly at my face. Needless to say, I almost cried but managed. Of course the bag looked like it had just about survived a war. Things were caught between the zipper. The bag looked pregnant and  like it had jumped out of a comic book. And then it was over weight, and I had to pay excess. I have sworn throughout the flight at them check in women! The husband did not catch even a glimpse of the bag until it was unpacked.

Bursting at the seams.
Bursting at the seams.

A cousin was traveling abroad, from school. I happened to be visiting them, and there was a lot of excitement around her packing. She was allowed to carry only 1 bag, and the well meaning mom had packed in some food too. The bag was filled in and emptied out approximately 4 times ,by 5 different people, amidst sighs and growls. Finally her grandfather came in, cleared everybody out and proceeded to pack. When my cousin saw the bag, she was sure he had left out almost half the things, because no way was the bag going to look so happy and non explosive. It should have been bursting at the seams. She went back to check, but everything seemed to be in the bag. We were all, marveling at his dexterity and engineering skills. She told me later, that when she had to repack it for her return journey, she was in tears. Because there was no way anyone could replicate what he had done. She had to buy a handbag and carry it in the cabin, AND leave some stuff back.

Recently on our return journey, there was a huge back up for check in. We went into the next counter and asked them to help us out, and just as well or we would have been left behind, not just our scheduled flight, but I think even the next one. There was this man from Qatar, (we peeked at this passport cover!) So –  man, 1 wife (thank god. For after you read this, even you will agree that a second one would have given him angina pains that day!) 4 kids, 2 maids and, get this – 21 pieces of large sized luggage and 4 cabin bags. I heard the wife, ask him if she could go and sit on the chairs with the kids (age 3 to 8) and he waved her off. Every single piece of luggage was over weight. He would weigh one bag, find it over weight (this airline will charge you for an extra bag, but no bag can be over weight) and his maids would proceed to pull out random things from the bag and stuff it into another bag. Once the weight reduced it would go through, but the next bag would be over weight. Again the maids would pull out stuff and shove it into the next bag. Then that would be over weight. And the saga continued. And the man patiently handled every single bag. I must say, only, on this one observation, that the woman was one of the luckiest I have ever seen. I still want to know if the check in guy, just gave up and let it go, or he painfully, went through the entire procedure. I also want to know, how much that last bag finally weighed, after all the – passing – the – excess – into – another bag; finished.

husband

The husband packs really light. I could never make up my mind and carried way more than I wanted to. One day we had to change trains, therefore change platforms, therefore run down and up 3 flights of stairs, all the while pulling that heavy bag. I yanked my shoulders so badly, that I had to visit a chemist for a pain killer, even before we checked into our hotel.

Singapore-Airlines-Excess-Baggage-Fees

Now we travel light, but come back a wee bit heavier. I separate from the husband when we reach the customs, because the cheeky man always carries back more alcohol than he is supposed to!

 

 

Chicago

This blog is dedicated to Akshat T. Thanks for your suggestions. We tried every single place you suggested and you are now my official go to person, if I visit any city you already have.

Devyani N. Who visited Chicago, instead of Ireland!!

Chicago was 2 days of sheer debauchery. A friendly change from crowded busy and unfriendly NY.

Places to visit. 

Millennium Park:  This is in the centre of Chicago. Huge, with loads of things to do. There is the Crown Plaza, with the water fountain and digital face. It was hot, and kids were playing in the water fountain. I felt like joining them too.

Crown Plaza
Crown Plaza
View from Millennium Park.
View from Millennium Park.

 

Cloud Gate – know as The Bean, for its legume shape. I found this to be one of the most fascinating pieces of sculptor, I have ever see. I could not stop marvelling at the brains behind this fabulous design. When I researched, ofcourse it turned out to be an Indian. Anish Kapoor – 2006. Its a pure stainless steel structure, but the way it has been choreographed (there is not better word for it) is stunning. With every angle one sees myriad designs and reflections.

photo 5 (8)

Sky line reflected from the Bean
Sky line reflected from the Bean
Reflection - THE BEAN
Reflection – THE BEAN

Theater – There was a Jazz festival going on. Open seating. People had come with garden chairs and picnics. I dont know much about Jazzz, but I believe the artists performing were fairly famous. 

Out door Jazz FEstival
Out door Jazz FEstival

Willis Tower : Where the sky deck is located – on the 103rd floor. It’s a crazy experience. Once stands on a glass floor. And when you look down, huge container carrying trucks look like miniature dinky cars. Not meant for those scared of heights.

photo 5 (6)

Navy Pier: It was a bright summer, wednesday evening. We went for a show (Cirque – Shanghai Warriors – amazing) and then roamed around the pier. Typical american peir. Open spaces, loads of restaurants and bars, and shops. Worth spending an hour or so. If you are lucky you might catch a fire work show.

photo 5 (7)
Sky line from the Navy Pier

Magnificent Mile and Oak Street: Shopping areas, boutiques and great restaurants. Walk!

Wicker Park: Local neighbourhood. A little further from central areas, so we could not visit. But I have been told its worth a visit.

Architectural Tour : The boats take you around Chicago, can be done with or without a meal and drinks. Again we could not make it. But heard its worth it.

Places to eat. And DRINK

The Aviary: What a concept. Its merely and only a bar. Very little eats menu. One can choose a 3 course or a 5 course cocktail menu. We took the 3 course one. There were 4 of us and 12 drinks. The mixes, the ingredients – pure mixology genius. Its an experience and one must absolutely go there. Lets leave aside the fact that we were walking at odd angles after this.

Aviary - Bird CAge. Bar tenders and Mixologists at work.
Aviary – Bird CAge. Bar tenders and Mixologists at work.
Flaming drink - second course.
Flaming drink – second course.
4 drinks 4 different tastes. Weird ingredients which make so much sense to the pallette.
4 drinks 4 different tastes. Weird ingredients which make so much sense to the pallette.

The Publican : Belgian brewery and restaurant. With close to 160 different beers. Communal tables. Definitely worth visiting. PS – even the food looked good – though we did not eat there.

Signature Lounge : The view from this place is crazy. Its on the 96th floor and has fantastic drinks. We had a ruby martini, which had lemon shorbet dissolving in it and leaving behind mild notes of citrus. If possible book a place by the window, difficult but worth it.

The view from Signature lounge.
The view from Signature lounge.

Fig and Olive: We went there for drinks as well as lunch. Wonderful place, fabulous service, great food, great music. Must go. Booking required.

The Girl and the Goat: We could not go there as we had no booking. Booked solid for atleast a month in advance. Our friends managed a walk in. They said it was fabulous.

Pump Room : Our first meal and Chicago and it was unforgettable.

Spiaggia : Even though we reached drunk and left even more drunk, I still remember tasting the food and going all round and goggle eyed. Great wines. Try for a window table. Book. BTW: fantastic service. They indulged our drunk rambling.

photo 3 (3)
WIne colllection in Spiaggia

The Chicago Deep Dish Pizza : We had it in Lou Malnati. A must go, but go with time. Many different venues. Loooong cues. And amazing pizza, though the deep dish cheese did a number on our stomach. I also heavily recommend the thin crust pizza. We had a taste, and regretted not having an appetite to eat one of those. The spinach one was outstanding.

The other places where its available are Giordano’s. We did not eat there though.

Next: From the makers of Aviary. We heard about it, but it was under renovation. Name’s so, because it changes menu and CUISINE every few months. Innovative to say the least!

I loved Chicago. The vibe, the zest and the view. I would go there again in a heartbeat. Place for foodies and those who love their alcohol and are willing to experiment a bit.

The Trade.

My very well meaning, but utterly crazy batch mates, insisted I go beyond a blog! So here is a sample, of  a “Beyond the blog – plunge” – written a few years ago.

GO  L.V.G.A !!

The breeze was balmy and she sweat freely. But the sea always called her. Alone she would walk by the beach, the waves calming her tumultuous mind. The fishermen had gathered. She knew most of them by face. Every day at the same time she would walk past them and stand and watch their catch, some of the fish yet thrashing, side to side in their struggle to survive, wildly trying to breathe in an atmosphere which was stifling them. She would stand  and watch them, mesmerized by their need to survive. Wasn’t it easier to just give up and die?

There was an unusual excitement amongst them today. “What a catch! Kya maal aya hain haath mein!” they exclaimed. Indeed it was a catch. She was a catch! And she was caught, between the struggle for power and the union of two rich families. One day suddenly, without being asked, her life was changed. It was an exchange a mongering, a trade. And she had no say in the matter.

As she walked, her mind weaved, hitched and always stopped on him. The man she met on the beach, the man who was her life and the sweet breath of love. The man, who was now, walking towards her. The radiance and love from his face caught her straight in the guts. Even after five years of knowing each other the love grew and strengthened. He was tall dark and lean to her petit small build. But today she would perhaps, kill that radiance forever.

She told him, before he could even touch her. A smoker thinks he is immortal and cancer can never touch him. Lovers think their love is forever and the ending always happy. They always knew this could happen, but knowing does not diminish the pain. He held on to the intense longing to touch her, but there had to be a cut, a long viscious slice, made by the lethal blades of a family barter. Without a word, tears streaming down his face, he turned and walked away without a backward glance. She had killed his spirit without bleeding him.

She herself was bleeding from the inside. For a long time she stared at his bent back. She knew he weeped and his soul sobbed. But she could not cry. Her emotions were dead. She walked on, until she reached the shore and the waves tickled her feet. The sea had always answered her questions. This time her soul decided. She walked into the sea, waves lashing at her. Kept walking. Somewhere far behind she thought she heard shouts. But she kept walking till her beloved sea claimed her.

Around the same time, fishermen snagged a heavy object in their nets. “What a waste of a life” they said. “ Such a handsome man, so tall and lean”

She was right. It was easier to die than struggle forever.

 

Ganpati Bappa Morya, and my freedom of speech.

This year has been the culmination of my growing grouse against the Ganpati Festival.

The growing up years were spent, sitting on our compound wall and whispering prayers to every Ganpati idol that passed by. And 5 off them passed us, every 2 seconds. After an hour of doing this, I was desperate to get off the wall and play our running games, but the rest of my friends felt uneasy, leaving their fervent prayers and turning their backs on all the surplus idols passing by.

Lokmanya Tilak, he of short foresight, turned this festival from a small family affair into a political fiasco, in 1894. I admit it was done in goodness of his Maratha heart, but like everything in India reaches a crescendo, this has gone beyond limits. The Hare Krishna, Isckon sect, the Osho followers, the Shri Shri Ravi Shankar herd, everything has gone beyond proportions and into the political stratosphere.

The welcoming of the Elephant God, with pomp and drama, the invites for darshan, which have become a social gathering and a compulsion, the loud Bollywood music blaring through illegal speakers, out of tune aarti, traffic jams, unnecessary dispersion of wealth, and massive upheaval of our lives. Everything leaves me feeling bleak and angry.

Many years back, my mom who writes dances ballets based on Hindu mythology had created one where the lord refused to come to earth when called for Ganesh Chaturthi. He complained that in the years gone, he was loved for himself. He heard prayers and hymns instead of trashy Bollywood rukus, ate good home made sweets instead of cakes and chocolates and was treated with respect. I find that so very pertinent now.

I know I have just earned the wrath of a lot of friends and my sister, but this festival needs to be saved. Last night I saw the sea in spate, and people trying to immerse the idol. All the idols kept floating back. But once the idol had touched the water, and the devout had carried that little bit of the sea sand on the same platform that previously carried their idol- they left that very same God, to whom they were fervently praying to for days – without a backward glance. The next day the cleaners came in and swept aside all the broken idols along with the garbage and the days poop and pee. The permanent effect was a sea with more toxins, sea life harmed, for a mere few days of utter devotion.

I believe myself to be largely non superstitious. I’ve shed those last ounces I held, when I was faced with this festival once more. I believe in a universal force and see it in God. And my only prayers to the Lord are to keep his feet on the top of my kids’ heads, so that they remain grounded. And use those very same feet in a swift motion, on their backsides if they so need.