Sunday, November 27, 2005

My Daddy can cook (well, at least he can pull off a basic omelette and he makes a very nice cup of tea).
He can also clean (this would translate to dusting his books and the surface of his study table several times a week, which is still more than the maid ever does).
He can make his own bed (this was learnt in self-defense since whenever I'm fighting with the parents I sulk and refuse to even enter their bedroom....well my sulks usually last for five minutes but by then Baba has started sulking and refuses to let me do anything for him...five minutes into his sulk, he's ready to forgive except by then I've started sulking and so it goes on...)
Basically what I'm trying to establish here is my Dad, beyond the fact that he does a commendable job at work, is also the *sensitive* male type who can lend a hand at household stuff (as opposed to some of the men I've seen who consider it a sign of manliness to leave their smelly socks lying about and wouldn't dream of lifting a duster unless paid a million pounds or so).
I mean my Daddy can even wash dishes! (Some of my relatives, male and female, have swooned on hearing this, I kid you not).
But, and this is the all important but he cannot put a cover on a pillow!!!

So the scene last night goes like this, Ma and I were sitting and watching Humtum (as you can see the level of my intellectual activities is rising by the day, but more on that later) when into the room came Baba. He had this forlorn look on his face and in his left hand he was half-hugging a pillow while from the right dangled a pillow case. He held out both to Ma, wordlessly, with that same woebegone look on his face. And she took them, equally wordlessly, fitted the pillow into its case and handed it back with the we've-been-married-for-thirty-years-and-i-don't need-to-tell-you-i-love-you-but-i-do look. And Daddy went off hugging pillow happily while Ma turned back to watch movie with what seemed like avid interest but I knew she was just mooning. And anyone who's going aww here *go away*!! The point of the story is not that my parents still behave like they're love-struck thirteen year olds but that my Daddy cannot do something as basic as stuffing a pillow into it's case!!! And when I tried telling Ma that she really hadn't trained him well in housework all she did was give me an aww-isn't-that-cute look.
Parents, I tell you!!!

The Sister in the meantime seems well on her way to marital bliss (one has always believed the phrase was an oxymoron, but one does not dare so in *this* house at least). What she doesn't realize sitting in distant Hyderabad is that she's completely wrong in thinking the Parents are preparing for *her* marriage. They're not.
Consider this, in the last week or so the menu for her wedding has been altered a minimum of thirty times. On the other hand they've decided what the menu for my wedding is going to be! In case you're wondering, there is no groom in sight (well except for the dozen or so matches my aunts keep trying to fix up every time they come to India. It being their opinion that education is all very well in it's own place but a girl does need to get married, and soon.) And all ye who disagree with this idea hold back the vitriol ok. I'm rather fond of these aunts even if they do have ideas which belong to the last century or the one before it.

Having given a general update on the family I suppose I should be talking about myself...sigh....except that's one topic I would rather not touch. Ideally last evening should have been spent studying. Instead I watched Humtum. It's a sweet movie and all but *sigh* just not pretentiously intellectual enough.
And I will always prefer When Harry Met Sally (even if Saif Ali Khan does look a *wee* bit better than Billy Crystal). With all due apologies to the lovers of the hindi version I think it was a bit, does one put this politely, *soppy*, or maybe the word I'm looking for is sappy. Romance is good, it's excellent, I can think of few things better than mushy love but I'd rather live it, thank you very much, than watch it enacted by two people who aren't exactly looking forward to a lifetime spent together as much as their paychecks. And they screwed up the most crucial line in the movie. Look at what Harry said, "men and women can't be friends because the sex part always gets in the way." In the hindi the sex part changes to pyar. Bizarre!! Why, if they can make a movie that clearly targets an urban *and presumably elite* class can't they use the word sex?!!! They can show the hero and heroine in bed the morning after, if only for two seconds but at least it's pretty clear that they have not spent the night exchanging small talk, and they shudder at the use of the three letter word. Hypocrisy dude, that's all it is. And anyone who wants to crib about this had better explain while they're at it, why it is that there should be no pyar between friends. I thought the whole point to friendship was love. It's sex which redefines boundaries. They say sex sells. They'd probably like to add, not in India. Except hehe, sex probably sells more in India, we're just a bit too politically correct (or should that be sushma-swaraj-correct?)

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

I'm a star.
*flutter flutter....eyelashes batting at double speed while one hand is delicately raised before a mouth left delicately half-open in wondrous amazement.*
Oh, somebody get me the smelling salts before I wilt away and faint *fair imitation of Casabianca style heaving and moaning*
And while you're at it, get the darned mirror, cos I'm afraid my make-up's running again, even smudge proof make-up not being entirely proof to helpless tears.

Right, make-up has been touched up, I am now decked out in my sparkliest shimmering clothes [namely my beootiful long skirt which has today been accused of being a) glittery and b) a shaya]

note : all ye ignorant of the layers of clothing concealing the modesty of a decorously sari-clad indian woman kindly note a shaya is what is referred to in english as a petticoat. this is where I blush and all modest-minded people faint because I've named (and in bold) an item of inner clothing, chheeee!!

Mock my fashion consciousness at your peril though, especially my once-beloved *extra stress on once, implying past tense* cassandra, for I am the newest star on the block.

Yes,yes, thank you thank you. *bows to the screaming multitudes*

And among all that applause ringing in my ears I thought I heard the faintest strains of *what is she going on about*.

I shall now cast scornful glances in the direction of all those who are ignorant of my fame and then, because I really cannot resist letting *everyone* know, I shall explain.

*ahem ahem*....I, ladies and gentlemen *half modest blush* have been featured as the star-special-central character of this *moderately brilliant* blogger's post.

Pray feel free to read it. Of course before you go dashing off in hordes may I issue a warning, this is not meant for those who are susceptible to heart-attacks (minor or not). Also not for those with any sort of pain in the region of your spine or ribs or wherever because this is seriously side-splittingly funny. If my facial muscles are aching right this moment it's not only because I have the slightly fatuous all-pearlies-on-display smile of the new centre of attention seeking starlet but because I've been laughing since i read the damn post, about six hours ago.
And once you're done reading please, please add this blogger to your link lists because she's one of the finer writers I've ever seen (I'm the soul of generosity you understand)

Of course some *ahem* clarifications seem to be required to protect the character of this fish :

1) The seventh cigarette mentioned was not my seventh cigarette *rainbeau you utter a word here and you will land up in the jheel* I of course have quit smoking. Quite.

2) The bit about my being a mathemagician seems uncalled for. Just because I was the only one in our batch of english honours students to take maths as my subsidiary subject and managed to pass it at one go *reportedly a next-to-impossible task for lesser mortals* I do not see any reason to bring it up. *Ahem*, I am of course not trying to bring my mathematical genius to the forefront here by repeatedly emphasizing the fact that I was called a mathemagician by Rainbeau, I'm just trying to tell my readers that I'm not quite a magician at math. I manage with the basics of 2+2=3 but that I'm sure *anyone* could do.

3) And as for stringing him a chain of flowers! *seriously indignant look* Rainbeau my dear, fond as I am of you, you must realize that I do not consider the stars to be God's own daisies chain and I wouldn't ever dream of stringing him a crown of flowers. Good grief girl, do I *look* like a love-besotted callow youth to you?! Me, flowers? Hah, what a joke! Please note, flowers are girly things. No go. I, for one, am well aware that a man of genius worthy of adoration, like the professor in question, could only be crowned with laurel, baize and oak leaves. And anyway green leaves would look far more resplendant on his noble brow. And green does look so good on him no. Did you notice the green shirt he was wearing yesterday....oh ma, he looked so amazing..erm...I wasn't gushing you understand, and I was not giggling right now!!

4) And finally the love me love me not section of the story is of course entirely a fabrication on Rainbeau's part. Not her fault, poor child, all languages sound greek to her. I might have muttered something like te amo, but that pray note is Latin !!

after-thought : I realize this particular post is screaming for attention a little louder than usual....hmm.....could it be that I too am influenced by the peeping tots of the world who perpetually squeak for attention....*horror* or could it be that I'm looking for some vitriolic attention as this ever-charming lady promises.
Then again maybe I'm just trying to grab the attention of this one knight in shining armour who might have been apprenticed to the guild of thieves, a thief of hearts if not of time.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

For all those who have been made to suffer endless posts on my perpetually-worked-on-never-to-be-completed term paper on Oedipus Rex, I might as well announce : It's done. And handed in (literally).
The submission of the paper was needless to say traumatizing.
Most of all for the prof in question I suppose.
We were panic-stricken of course, what with it being a fortnight past the due date. But our innocent professor had to endure being stalked by three students (giggling like a small pack of nervous hyenas) for close on to ten minutes before Squee, following Rainbeau's game plan and with my *ahem* able moral support ran up to him with her most innocent good girl face and proferred the paper.
No sooner did he recover from the impact of that than Rainbeau and I jumped into action and pretty much followed thrusting example.
And then we ran for our dear lives.
But it's done with and I can breathe for a while at least, phew!

Apart from the relief of submission, it's been a remarkably happy day.
I shall now gush for a bit.
Over my earliest sweetheart, who returned from the states this morning bearing boxes of chocolates for me (the surest way to win a girl's heart).
It's been almost four years since he saw me and well, all ye who have called me an old hag may you wither away into nothingness!!
He walked through the door, looked at me, dropped his suitcase, and his jaw and said (insert suitable twangy American accent) "You've grown so much! You look like Nefertiti!!"
*oh why oh why oh why is the man, my uncle instead of being suitable bachelor type young one.*

It's been a nice day. Full of little revelations and confessions and all the things that bring a smile in retrospect.
It's been a most retrospective day.
Not least because I realized the truth about my life. For all those who have been subjected to the rants of my previous post I've attained Nirvana of sorts.
The slogan of my life is now :
Truth! Justice! Reasonably Priced Love! Freedom!
And a hard-boiled egg!
*go figure*

P.S : in case anyone doesn't know what I mean, here's the original source of my filched motto :

Reg Shoe:
"You'd like Freedom Truth and Justice, wouldn't you, comrade sergeant?"
Vimes: "I'd like a hard-boiled egg ."
Reg Shoe: "In the circumstances, sergeant, I think we should set our sights a little higher--"
Vimes: "Well, yes, we could. But... well, Reg, tomorrow the sun will come up again, and I'm pretty sure that whatever happens we won't have found Freedom and there won't be a whole lot of Justice, and I'm damn sure we won't have found Truth. But it's just possible that I might get a hard- boiled egg ."

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Somebody told me, "Hitler was a fine man. He had the right ideas. I admire him for what he did to the Jews because they were destroying Germany from within. And I admire him for the way he motivated the young Germans."
And I thought, what if the Nazi doctors had granted your father a living death simply by making him a guinea pig for their experiments.

Somebody said, "Of course Narayan Modi had the right ideas, those Muslims need to be shown their place in India."
And I thought what if it had been your daughter who was raped by neighbours, who had known you for all your life, and they ripped the foetus of your unborn grand-child from her body.

Somebody argued that Osama bin Laden was justified in attacking the symbol of capitalist power and was only retaliating for the US actions in the first gulf war.
And I thought what if you'd spent endless nights watching your mother crying her heart out because she didn't know if her son was dead, and then you heard later that your brother jumped from his svelte office on the hundredth floor, preferring that to burning in the flames engulfing the WTC.

Somebody accused the writer of this article of narrowmindedness and communal feelings and fascist ideas.

And I remembered the moment I heard of the Delhi blasts. Remembered how it had felt when I desperately dialed Delhi numbers. How it felt listening to the phone ringing on and on. The relief of hearing a simple hello. And I wondered about those people who kept dialing through the night and got no response.

I don't want you to tell me that the reply to violence should not be violence.
I don't want you to jump to the conclusion that I am a fervent believer in communalism.

I do not believe that the country a terrorist is born in should be blamed for his actions. I do not believe that all perpetrators of violence are prompted in their acts by their religious beliefs. If a Muslim raped a Hindu in Kashmir, I would not vent my anger on my nephew because he is a Muslim. If an American Christian bombed a Redcross warehouse in Afghanisthan I would not go out and scream at my friends who have taken me to church to attend mass on Christmas day. If a member of the RSS killed a defenceless Muslim shopkeeper in Gujarat I would not blame every person I see when I step into a temple.

This post made me think deeply, about how we react to situations that do not directly affect us. How flippantly we preach world peace and non-violence to someone just because he hopes "we catch them bastards who turned off all the lights of Diwali in Delhi and give them the "Ashfaq"ing of their lives."

If you do not believe that every individual who has perpetrated a crime against another human being deserves his just retribution;
I ask you to imagine your parent dying in a blast.
I ask you to imagine your child being subjected to surgery without the benefit of anesthesia in a medical experiment and being left grotesquely deformed.
I ask you to imagine the woman you love being raped, the man you love being torn to pieces.

And if you do believe that the individuals who are capable of such acts should not be tortured to a slow death, may I be forgiven for hoping every one of the atrocities I have mentioned in this post might happen to the person you love the most, that you may be tested in the forgiveness you preach to others.

Monday, November 14, 2005

The sister's fiance (though not his family) has asked for an inordinate amount of things as dowry. As a result, the parents went rushing today, half way across the state to Arambagh (where the fiance's family lives) to discuss dowry and other such marriage and ritual related matters. Entirely against my wishes they dragged me along as well.
Personally I would much have preferred staying at home with my computer for company and slaving with silent dedication and determination over the term papers (ahem, ahem, yes well...I would have tried!!)
Alas, the parents obviously feared that leaving me unchaperoned in an empty house for all of twelve hours was not a good idea (though where they get these ideas from heaven alone knows!!!)
So I have spent today, doing nothing.
Which means tomorrow the fish may well try to drown herself again.
But before I do that, I shall leave a record of dowry demands for my sister's wedding on this blog. Witness all ye who read this blog. The groom is a highly educated man, and yet he wants :
1) a cycle (make/brand not important)
2) a chhata (that would be an umbrella, specifically one of those long black ones with a wooden handle, non-folding)
3) a torch (he said jhaar lonthhon *rudimentary lamp used in rural areas* but against a supply of at least two batteries he is willing to accept a torch, although for preferance it should be one of the long ones, not one of those useless looking sleek pencil sized ones)
4) *and this is the really tough one* my sister

We have done much scratching of heads. The demands are not entirely unreasonable when viewed in a certain light. But the thought has crossed the mind of most members of our family as well as his; is the boy planning to put his doctorate degree in chemistry to good use by becoming a graamer paharadar?!! A village watchman?!!

Much perplexed we are by all this. Already I have been much distracted from my term paper all day by a bewildering progression of thoughts which went thus :
my topic is related to greek myths (vaguely).....
maybe I should just talk about greek society (what do I know about *that*).....
didn't the greeks invent democracy (yeah right, leave out women, children and slaves and the poor and everyone else is equal)....
the greeks had slaves (ancient heritage of humanity that is)....
but we've done away with slavery (yay!).....
and they don't have slaves on plantations any more (do we even have any plantations now)......
hmm, since I shall never suceed in being a scholar maybe I should just become a glorified plantation owner....
but what to plant? ! !

Any suggestions?

Saturday, November 12, 2005

The last few days have been spent almost entirely in front of the computer.......endless hours, sliced away by some thief of time.......and still my term papers remain incomplete. Most uncertain I am as to whether they will ever infact be completed, and the uncertainty of incompletion is driving me to certain and complete unhappiness. In fact, I think the word I am looking for is disconsolate.
I am disconsolate because I have realized I cannot submit anything within a deadline (there goes my future as a brilliant business administrator). I am disconsolate because I have also realize I cannot come up with anything imaginative/original (yaaargh, there goes my future as the shining spark on the Indian cultural scene). I am disconsolate because though I have written as much as fifteen hundred sparkling words on Oedipus Rex, the summation of what I have written is *nothing*. It's as if I have the landscape descriptions for my masterpiece of a novel.....I just haven't come up with the characters or a plot line yet....sigh, how does that work out?
And then I was made most disconsolate by an anonymous-for-the-moment one who hinted that my orthography might pose problems when writing the term papers. Having duly glumped and felt sad about such unfortunately true insinuations I was reminded of my recent period of Hyderabad Blues.

Perhaps it was the lack of anything better to do that made these little variations so interesting or maybe it's just that the city is one of scattered orthographic delights. Fifteen minutes after I entered the city and crossed the Hotel Fish-Land (quite a blaring welcome sign *that* seemed to this blogsick fish) I noticed a sign which read Picnic Dhoaba (interesting concept, getting your laundry done while you eat I suppose, for the uninitiated, dhoba sounds like the bengali word for washerman). Further on there were the notices which read "do not through litter on the platforms". And food items were inevitably spelt by some rool of the thumb....hmm....I wonder if Nizaam's has ever heard of something called a chicken rool. Of course for the elucidation of the illiterate and the truly uncouth (read tourists and lovers convinced their names should be inscribed for posterity) on the walls of Golconda Fort there was the edict, "No writting on the walls."

But the most delightful notice was spotted in an STD booth on the university campus. Mid delightful long distance conversation I found my attention distracted by a notice announcing that 'snacks,tea,coffee,cooldrinks' were to be found after 4pm at the canteen located "at the back said of the ladies hostel". And the last memory was of the most attractive Indian Railways notices simply headed with the words CARE FULL and ending in an admonition worthy of recollection, Your's luggage, your's responsibility.

I laughed.....until I remembered my spellings were no better anyway. Then I sobered up and went to write my term paper. Which I regret to say is even more inane than I feared. For a while this afternoon it seemed the ju-jheel (read not too shallow pond facing department) would be a most appropriate final destination for me but then I realized drowning myself for one term paper was a bit much. The other after all is due at the end of this month. That would probably be the best time to join the pond-scum.
Smart decision as it happens, otherwise I would have missed learning the greatest secret of in the history of human existence. This was passed to me this evening by the prophetic Cassandra Mortmain. We were philosophizing (read blathering) about the epics. I was telling her about some of my favorite reworkings of the Ramayana and why Ravana is notnotnot the bad guy (any one who wants to start a pro-Sri Ram rant at this point feel free...but I can substantiate my point...I may be ignorant of much but I know my myths), she was mourning about hanuman's tail catching fire when I realized that all the great epics have some things in common. I sat up and declared my epiphanic realization and was just getting all prepared to launch into a full-fledged discourse on the world's greatest epics when cassy declared most calmly and knowingly "yeeeah, they all came from the same source"
*there was a long pause while I tried to work out the geography and archaeology supporting that*
Then she shook her head, realizing I was too dimwitted to get it, and explained.......
should've figured!!

Monday, November 07, 2005

Here’s what I’ve been doing over the past fortnight…eating, sleeping, fighting with Ma, eating, cribbing, fighting with Didi, sleeping, reading vague story books (which I swear I did not pack, I packed strictly academic books, The Last Continent must have sneaked into my back-pack on its own), eating some more, calling up Baba long-distance to crib about Didi and Ma and sentimentalize over how I’m missing his daily doses of nagging, cribbing and yelling…..did I mention studying for term papers? hmm…..nope, I seem to have missed mentioning that. Obvious huh – since I didn’t study at all. (All those who believe, alas erroneously, that my blog silence was induced by writing two term papers erm actually I plan to start writing them…..soon…..I hope!!)

And we’ve been shopping. In fact the sum of all the time spent on the above activities is easily expended by the amount of time we have spent shopping. Of course when I say we I actually mean Ma and Didi. I was there of course. Acting as a glorified coolie of sorts. And bursting into fits of manic laughter at regular intervals. Most inappropriate behaviour I realize, in retrospect, it being far from polite to do a credible imitation of a hyena in the face of the shop-keeper who is displaying his best wares. Ideally I should have gone to the corner and snickered quietly. But I ask you, is it possible to keep a straight face in front of an obviously aesthetically deluded shop-keeper who’s idea of a beaootifool sari is a sea of the brightest yellow with splotches of fluoroscent green and pink streaked with electric blue and covered with large dots of vivid maroon. If that’s your idea of the colours of India, I’ll stick to black and white please, thank you verry much!!

Of course Hyderabad has its nice bits too. I was all awestruck admiration for Golconda fort. They have a most admirable light-and-sound show. Unfortunately my enjoyment of the place was greatly undermined by my intense desire to kill someone/anyone. At any given moment I would anyway express a preference for the young of any other animal species but human babies are still most tolerably cute at times. On the other hand parents who think the right age to take their child sight-seeing is when he is two months old should be buried alive in the dark cavernous tombs they drag their howling babies into.

Nothing really exciting happened though. Very pretty land and all that but with a incredible dearth of good-looking men. As it turned out the only one fulfilling any sort of aesthetic demands was a dashing young to-be docterate in chemistry. Most impressive batting style he has, 3 sixes and two boundaries and a score of about 30 in two overs in a five over inter-departmental cricket match as well as one stunning catch. Most talented, intelligent, handsome young man who took me out for Diwali and got me tons of loverly crackers because I was so sad about missing diwali at home. The wedding one is pleased to announce is on January 22, 2006. Very auspicious date and all that but the honeymoon might well be in Hyderabad. He will be a singularly nice addition to the family…..sigh, my sister has such good taste!

I have also had at least one exciting experience I could have done without. Most unintentional it was. It happened in my sister’s hostel. Their campus is practically a jungle ok. I went to take a bath and I was in a state of erm.…well I was in an unpresentable state when I noticed a frog lying in one corner of the bathroom. It being the first time I was in any such situation I threw water on it in an attempt to get rid of it. Since it didn’t move I assumed it was dead. As someone mentioned later throwing water on a frog would have about the same effect as throwing air on a human being. Most astute comment it was as I realized later that the thingy had been alive all the time. Most embarrassing it was.

Yes well, such is life. I am now home and happy. Back to my beloved bloggy-woggy. Back to my beloved-est readers, muuah muaah I love you all….especialy erm…umm....oh never mind…..I’m sure the person I’ve missed the most knows all about it so I shall be silent on that count. Indeed it feels good to be back in my own fish-bowl.

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