30 April 2007
I don't know what it is about Kerala or actually, just about family holidays, that instantly makes me metamorphise into a thirteen year old again. I find myself being sullen, and rude and cranky and nearly bursting into tears every now and then.
Of course, this could have to do with the lack of nicotine.
I kept waiting for some sort of, I don't know, call to my blood or something, something to acknowledge that my roots lay there, something like the feeling I always get when I'm in Delhi, a distinct feeling of this, this is where I belong. But apart from noticing that for once my hair didn't stand out as uncontrollably frizzy, and that everyone there looked like me before I had my braces on (seriously, that entire state should get free orthodontia) there was no burble in my heart, no call to my bloodline. And so like mongrels everywhere, I resigned myself to not really belonging anywhere. Like that Beatles song, Nowhere Man which incidentally, was insistently running through my head this entire weekend.
I thought perhaps being a coastal city, Cochin and Bombay would have quite a bit in common. Not true. They have exactly three things in common: a) the weather (which is dreadfully muggy) b) an Elphinstone Road and c) a Marine Drive. Although item c doesn't even count as the same thing, because the Marine Drive in Cochin is more like a Marine Path where people walk across this fancy suspension bridge and young men in lungis lounge lazily.
Between avoiding Effusive Aunt (who kept touching me and talking to me in Malayalam, despite blank looks) and Conservative Aunt (Life In Cochin Is Not Like Bombay Or Delhi, It Is Not Fitting For A Young Woman, No, You Can't Go For A Walk Down The Road), I managed to sneak into the bathroom and smoke a cigarette quietly, window open, air freshner ready. By day two, I was ready to kill someone, and luckily my dad and I were out alone so I said to him, "Listen, either I smoke in front of you, or I sneak off somewhere RIGHT NOW." So he deposited me in a rather nice little coffee shop (full of foreigners, so no chance of someone knowing who he was) and I drank my cold coffee and exhaled with jubilation. I stubbed out my smoke not a moment too soon, because my cousin and his friends entered. Seriously, I am so the best looking person in my family. It's rather gratifying.
According to my dad, we are related to practically everyone in the city. Even at this very posh hotel we went to for lunch, he pointed to a portrait of this old Brahmin dude, hanging in the lobby and said, "Related by marriage." I didn't realise my lineage was so distinguished. Y'all should treat me with some respect now.
And I saw Vasco Da Gama's original grave (before he was dug up and taken to Portugal). And bought myself tapioca and jackfruit chips. And two starfish, one for Chrisann (which should be a surprise, but oh well. We have a present thing going on, her and I, where whenever we travel we attempt to get back something pretty) and the other starfish for me. (I offered it to the Nonboyfriend but he was all like, dude, I don't want a cadaver to which I was like FINE then I'll just KEEP it. Men.)
Oh, and it rained, and Kerala rain is lovely and stormy and beautiful. The kind of rain poetry is written about, and the kind of rain, even in this day and age that you can run outside, head turned upwards and catch in your mouth,
26 April 2007
* I have an excellent blog post all about "Are you trying to mess with the messee?" and mixed messages and signals and all that, but I can't post it because too many people I know read this blog.
* Which is why, as I mentioned on the comment section earlier, I'm going to shortly turn this blog into invite-only readers. If you still want to keep reading, I'll let you know when to send me your email address for the invite.
* In the meanwhile, it will be a fairly bland post I'm afraid. Although, I could, I suppose, talk about my cat. He's spoilt rotten, will only eat one brand of cat food, which is also, lalalalala, the most expensive one, won't eat cooked fish or raw shrimp or anything that is unfamiliar, thinks my cellphone charger is his new toy, and likes to crawl under the cover with me in the morning and dig his teeth and claws into my ankle, as well as climbing all over my boobs as a gentle WAKE UP AND FEED ME ALREADY reminder. He has this one game he loves, we call it "Let's make the bed!" and I swear he has sonic hearing when it comes to my bed, because even if he is curled up fast asleep somewhere, he will hear me shake out the sheets and come running to sit on my bed as I make it. And then he lies there as I toss my counterpane over him, and he does a few experimental, "Mmmmm..reow?s" as he stalks around underneath the sheets before he emerges, so triumphant. My cat is a little psycho.
* What are your I-would-never-dates? Mine are a) non-smokers b) non-drinkers and c) vegetarians. Not that there's anything wrong with these kind of people, I just wouldn't be able to date them, what with worrying about cigarette breath, how much more coffee we could drink and having to always order mushrooms or paneer. The list used to be longer and included d) people who don't like animals; e) people who don't read; f) people who don't drive, but as age catches up with me, I'm getting less picky. Although I would never marry someone who doesn't read. Because my bookshelves are my best decoration, what else would I stack up randomly around the house?
* This weekend I am being a good granddaughter and succumbing to filial duties by going to Cochin for my grandmother's 80th birthday. I will, no doubt, be gritting my teeth through it all, because this will be a nonsmoking weekend. A nonsmoking, nonnaked weekend also. Smiling at old uncles I haven't seen in years and answering inane questions about my life. I think I'll have a t-shirt made that says, "I like it very much, thank you for asking." Does anyone from Cochin read this blog? Will you meet me so I can chainsmoke and blame it on you? And I don't know any Malayalam. Sigh.
* Although it would not be as bad as going to meet my mom's relatives in Hyderabad. There I have to fend off questions about when I'm getting married. Either the Malayalis are more liberal and forward thinking, or they just don't give a rat's ass about my marital status. Either way, it means that much less teeth gritting.
* I would like to get married though. I mean, not desperately, but it's in there, with the rest of my to-be-done-eventually list. I'd like to have a court wedding, not too much fuss, and then take everyone to Neemrana or Dharamshala and party for two days. And I will be stunning and all grown up, and he will be stunning-er, and everyone will say how awesome we look together. I like being in a couple, I realise, it's good fun, even though singledom has its distinct advantages.
* Many months ago, I got an email from this guy I met once asking me to link to his blog, and his friends. Which I promptly ignored. But then, we became friends and when we met on Tuesday night, he said, "Now that we've known each other for so long, do an entire post on how awesome my blog is and how more people should visit it." He hasn't linked me AT ALL, so there will be no entire post, but I do enjoy his blog (and his comments) soooo, I'm putting it in big block letters. Go read Leo's blog now. Happy?
* I have not been to a new place in so long.
* And my MSN status says: Master And Commander Of Awkward Situations
* Which makes me wonder whether it should be Mistress?
* And Commandress?
* Commandrette looks better, I think.
* But also it makes me look like the kind of person who dots her i's with a heart.
* Or a circle.
* And I feel fat.
* Not to mention hairy.
* Which doesn't make me feel particularly attractive.
*And when I wear cleavage-y tops at night, my neck and face are a completely different colour from my boobs.
* So I look like I've borrowed my torso from someone else.
* The best solution to this is to wear low cut things in the day as well, so I tan evenly.
* Which I did yesterday, when I walked all over town for a story I was doing.
* Which is not such a good idea, because the daytime? It is HOT.
* And a pool of sweat gathers in my bra.
* And when you go out after work, people recoil from you, their noses wrinkling.
* So I'm going to henceforth stay indoors while the sun is up, and do all my interviews on the phone.
* And not be cleavage-y till the winter.
* When it will be too cold to be cleavage-y.
* Oh wait, I live in Bombay.
23 April 2007
Especially after the weekend I've had. Friday, I went out with Pieces and it was supposed to be a quiet evening. (Sorry, I just got distracted by an ad on TV where I think I saw someone I went to college with, so, if you're reading this and you're from the same college, the ad with the womens health magazine? That's the same chick, right?) Anyway, so we consumed about two drinks each, and it had been so long since we had hung out like one-on-one, that naturally, all our deepest, darkest thoughts were brought out, including, um, demonstrating techniques of oral sex with the help of a willing, consensual beer bottle. Never mind. After about two hours of this, her friend calls and asks us all--Pieces, her boyfriend (who joined us later) and me--to an engagement party for his cousin. Being quite tired, I wasn't going to go, but he said he'd leave in like an hour and a half, and it was only ten, so I went too. The party was actually in quite a pretty place, by the sea and you could hear the ocean roaring and if you didn't breathe too deep, it was lovely. (And I'm not being all anon not telling you where we went, because I seriously don't remember. It was one of those party hall type places?) But they didn't have Old Monk amongst all the free booze, so I decided not to drink at all. Only, that wasn't so acceptable to Pieces and her friend, so I ordered a Bloody Mary (because vodka in cocktails is okay to mix with dark rum, but vodka straight up with like oj isn't. I don't know. It's my drinking logic.) Lalalalala, I'm drinking my Bloody Mary and it's really rather nice and then shots come out, and I refuse once and then twice and then Pieces reaches out and slaps me (and it HURT) and then I hit her back and then she slaps me again and I go, "Okay, okay, I'll drink, pleasedonthurtme." She's quite strong, that girl. And of course, after I had one shot, the next three just appeared and held a gun to my head, so I had to open my mouth and let them jump down my throat. They're rather aggressive creatures. And I don't know how I made it back home, much, much later, because I had parked my car elsewhere and Pieces's friend dropped me off to it and I got lost twice before I found myself on the road home. And then, oh, dreadful drunken conversation with the Nonboyfriend, which was all guh. And then just as I was falling asleep, I get this call from this dude who was at the party who I had once hooked up with, saying, "I'm downstairs, can I come up?" "Uh, no," I said, "I'm asleep." And then he kept calling till I put my phone off, and the next morning I have like five texts, all saying stuff like, "Just one hug" and "You and me, sweety." Oh dear. What alcohol will do to people.
This would have been amusing the next morning, if I didn't feel so sick. Seriously, it was like the mother of all hangovers. Not just dehydration like I normally feel after a bender, no, no, this was nausea and a headache that began pounding in my forehead and then moved to ringing in my ears. I would've just stayed home and slept it off, but I had made plans for Saturday--visiting the Strand book sale with the Nonboyfriend (which after last night's conversation, I didn't want to cancel) and X's birthday party at night (which she had been planning for a month)--so I got myself out of bed and into town for the book sale. Which by the way, was an excellent idea, I got Collected Stories by Carol Shields, who I think is one of my favourite short story writers ever, and Dream Catcher, Margaret Salinger's memoir of her father, which I've always coveted. And picked up Women Who Run With The Wolves for X.
By the time we battled traffic enough to get to X's, it was 10 something, and we were both exhausted. (I love how I'm saying 'we' like it's so established, when secretly I was all thrilled with the novelty of having a date for a birthday party. The thing is, I normally don't take guys I'm seeing to parties my friends are throwing. I don't know why, or perhaps I do, I don't want the guys to take me or my friends for granted, I don't want my friends to form a bond with someone who might be temporary, and also, I like going solo for these things, so I can chat and make conversation and not have to keep checking on someone else. But things with the Nonboyfriend seemed, I don't know, well, different. And everyone knows he's temporary. Nice, but temporary. So, when X's boyfriend bonded, I laughed and told him not to get too attached.)
The party was good fun, lots of nice alcohol (hey, hair of the dog, baby) and food, and we sat around and chatted till about two, when it was time for us to leave and my headache was revisting anyway.
And now, here it is, Sunday afternoon, and I have one cigarette left, and if I smoke it I'll have to go down and buy some more. Unless Shark Tooth has some. Ooh, yes he does. That's good to know, even if I don't smoke them. I just like the thought of smokes in the house.
And this has been a rather pointless post, the minutes of my weekend. But I need this sort of writing too, I suppose, that is of absolutely no interest to anyone except me.
17 April 2007
> Discover the various merits and demerits of Indian cheese spread. I now recommend Amul's Garlic flavoured spread, with Brittania's cream crackers. That's been like breakfast, lunch and dinner for me recently.
> Think of ways to do away with the noisy loudspeakers outside your house, personal favourites include filling water balloons with boiling hot water so both loudspeaker and person utilising said loudspeaker are destroyed forever. Muahahahaha.. um, you're still here?
> Convince yourself into believing that relationships with expiry dates are really the way to go, because it's so easy and stress free and user friendly.
> Do a pretty good job with the convincing.
> Argue with your writers group online, in Delhi, where you should really not be arguing and just be grateful that you're still on the mailing list at all, about letting someone else join. (Hi! Still totally deeply grateful! Don't delete me!)
> Start reading Sacred Games again, and this time actually follow the plot.
> Go for friend's housewarming party and admire his beautiful new house, especially the huge full-length mirror that came with it and has (wait for it) a SPOTLIGHT on top to illuminate you. Sigh. Such a waste on a boy.
> Go out with Pieces and her friends and drink many shots and demonstrate to her the correct way to stick your finger down your throat over the pot, thereby earning her lifelong gratitude.
> Drive in Bombay during the DAY. To get your car system fixed. And, not so bad. Could be better, but not as terrible as I anticipated. I love expecting the worst, you're either constantly being proved right or being pleasantly surprised. (As much as I would like to take credit for that line, I think I read it in a Reader's Digest once.)
> Go for Eragon. And wonder why you just wasted two hours of your life. And remember it was written by a 15-year-old and wonder why you are surprised that it is derivative crap.
> Remember you have drive during the day again, because even though they fixed your system and charged you a grand, the speakers are now not working. Fill yourself with a sense of impending doom.
> Lech at hot firangs at train stations. Demurely look away and hold your book invitingly to your chest so he can see how well-read you are, and start a conversation. Almost miss your train.
My week. Yours?
10 April 2007
One finds oneself in a rather odd position these days. I’m, um, in a committed fling. A CF, if you like. With a nonboyfriend, and a nonrelationship. What exactly is a committed fling, you ask? Well, we’re not seeing other people—at least, I hope we aren’t—and yet it has a time limit, a month and a half to be exact, before it turns into just the sort of long distance thing neither of us wants to do. (And when I say neither of us, I totally mean more him than me, because me? I like long distance romances, it leaves me free to do my thing. Oh well.)
So, ever since I moved to Bombay, I’ve been “dating” a string of people. Dating is in inverted commas, because I never know quite what to call these evenings with boys, this waiting around for the text message or phone call, this dressing up and kissing (and sometimes more than kissing) this feeling of non-emotions (which is why, I suppose, having a nonrelationship makes so much sense to me). But you know, no one I seriously liked. My friends knew them all as New Boy, so much so that they were unable to identify one New Boy from another, they just became a string of New Boys, all eventually dismissed as “that asshole” or “that one who became too clingy” or “that one who I had nothing in common with.” I figured the Nonboyfriend would be one of those, so for like a week, I said, “Haan, so I was out with the New Boy…” and then a week became two and then three, and he was still around, and what’s more I was still around, and not ready to cut my losses and run for the hills just yet. My commitmentphobia is so weird. On the one hand, I really, really want to meet someone and be happy and blah blah, and on the other, I consciously pick men who are physically or emotionally unavailable so that I can eventually blame the not working out on them, and not be this strange messed up person. I realised I was doing this late last year, because I was wondering why I had this Asshole Magnet, when everybody else was doing all right and then it hit me. It really wasn't them. So, I attempted to date men who seemed to want to date me, and then immediately found a zillion things wrong with them and ended everything effective immediately. I suppose the Nonboyfriend could fall into the Physically Unavailable category, seeing as we won't be in the same city for very much longer, but he does seem to like me. And I like him, which is always nice. And (so far) no panic has risen in my gentle (yet stunningly attractive) bosom.
Like many of the men I have engaged in emotional intercourse with in the past, he reads this blog. So, *sigh* one must be chary with details, although I would like to tell you nice things--little details of our connection--record it also for myself, so I remember that not everything is black and white. I swear dudes, I should totally start journalling again, journalling in a notebook with like a pen, with REAL NAMES and REAL INCIDENTS so when I'm all old and senile, I won't have to go, "Who? Whatshisface?"
(Although I can tell you that after dancing around the house singing SexyBack, just to mortify his finer musical sensibilities, I get a text saying: I'm listening to SexyBack and it reminds me of you. I never thought Justin Timberlake would serve as "my song", this is what I get for trying to be cocky.)
How remarkable are my twenties. How serendiptious life is. How many men will I have to keep dating?
5 April 2007
Shakti loved this blog. She really did. She asked me many times when she was going to make an appearance, and she did, as Mrs Editor-Poet. We met like close to two years ago, at a party, and then the day after that was our housewarming party and her and her husband came for that, and then the rest was history, because we started to hang regularly, and talk. We were both about the same age as compared to most of the other people we knew in common, and when we did book parties or literary gatherings, usually we gravitated towards each other and gossiped and compared outfits and did many other frivolous things.
And I met her whilst the two of them were in Bombay for the Kitab fest, and thanks to them, partied very poshly, and we talked about relationships and whether she ever regretted being married, because she was quite young and she said, "You know, it's like the difference between a sonnet and blank verse. Marriage gives my life structure, and this way it's always two people on my side." And when I was last in Delhi, we hung out at Cafe Turtle, and drank coffee and talked about various creative projects, and then I met her again later at 4S and showed her my Sarojini Nagar shopping and then we hugged as I was leaving and promised to meet again next time I was in Delhi.
I can't make any sense of it still. This post has been written and backspaced over for the last three days, I just couldn't. It's a world without Shakti in it, and that is so bizarre, because she was so so so alive, you know? I know people say this about everyone who dies, but she really was. When I think of her, I think of sitting in her living room watching her hula hoop, backwards and forwards, smiling, her hips working, her arms outstretched. "You're a lucky man," I told her husband once, with all sorts of hidden innuendos at that hula hooping and he smiled at me and said, "I know."
And, hah, it's so strange, the one person I feel like calling and telling about her death is Shakti, calling and saying, "Hey people are saying you're dead." And she'd say, "What? People are crazy" and I'd say, "I know, hey, I'll be in Delhi on Friday we should hang out." And she'd say, "Absolutely." And this entire thing will have never happened.
Already I miss her so very much.