Friday, October 28, 2005

The Real Storm Didn't Pass, Actually

Well, who’d have thought of it, then? This is the city where, when we came two summers ago, we had to buy every drop of water we consumed and/or used – and yesterday it was flooded! Anna Salai, familiar to old-timers as Mount Road, was a shallow river and the airport, normally a 45-min drive away from our place had become a 4-hour nightmare.

What the floods highlighted? Such sad inefficiency… The power breakdown was expected, but need the sub-stations have electrocuted 50 people before they were shut down? And we’re not exactly talking of homeless squatters (an oxymoron? I suppose not) getting killed in places they had no business being. Patricia Aunty’s friend lost her husband because he got electrocuted in their own house. The place was flooded and he had gone to switch the mains off. It could have happened to anybody, that’s what is so scary about it.

Then the helplines… none of them worked. I was supposed to take the Rajdhani this morning for Delhi, and we just couldn’t get through to the station to find out if trains were running or not. If Beq’s sis hadn’t actually gone there to catch her own train I wouldn’t have known till much later that the station was flooded and no railway traffic was possible.

Mejopishi was supposed to be flying in from Cal yesterday evening. The Deccan Air helpline assured her that all planes were flying (even when we Chennaites knew that the airport was flooded and the storm was too strong to encourage small planes) and it was only hours later that we found out that the plane in which she was supposed to come to Chennai hadn’t even left Chennai to go to Cal.

Which brings me back to what I have asked for a really long time now – why are call center services so inefficient and why are they inevitably the last to know their own news?

There’s strong sunshine outside now, slowly fading with the end of the day. Storm warnings are still being broadcast. Let’s see what the remains of the day bring. I hope I get to meet Varsha in an hour’s time as planned.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

The Storm Passes

The way I feel tonight, I need some kind of loving. Nothing gentle. Persuasive, more like. Take my mind off things. This rain, for instance. It’s been raining more or less steadily for over 48 hours now, and I didn’t mind it when I was walking through the warm drizzle yesterday, although I was more tired and perhaps even lonelier than I am now. But now it’s turning my room chilly and I’m tired and a little angry with myself for being so bad-tempered.

I read some newspapers today. The first lot in a month I think. Suddenly I was hungry for news, so I read about Tendulkar’s return, Catherine Zeta-Jones’ new haircut – and decided that that was as much as I could take at one sitting. Strange, my abhorrence for the newspaper when I’m in my baperbari, because when I’m outside it, I read the daily as avidly as I read anything else. I even read the editorials in The Statesman and that’s saying something, considering I’m not very fond of editorials as a rule.

Sometimes, I feel very tender towards my body. Poor, unloved thing. A mass of irregularly tended skin and hair and nails. Poor, mauled thing. Surely it deserves more care than that? But how many of us look at our scabs and wonder if the wound is destroying the beauty we were born with or adding an extra dimension of interest to it? How many of us want to? Bloggers are accused of being navel-gazers, and I don’t deny it. Try to avoid gazing at your body in wonder when you’ve got mirrors as large and as nice as my bathroom one. In the bathroom too! Makes temptation irresistible. Yet this summer I lived for nigh on three months with hardly a pane of glass in sight, in front of which I could comb my hair. I conclude I’m not vain exactly, but I’m certainly fascinated by my body tonight, how it grows and how it shrinks, how it shows my lack of love so clearly. And how, like some forlorn plant, it rewards even the littlest bit of care with a brighter sheen, temporary though it may be.

I loved bio classes, I remember, even though they involved so much learning by rote of Latin names and drawing of the innards of reptiles. I loved figuring out why my body did the things I experienced and what they signified and how my actions decided them. In the end you see, there’s nothing apart from the physical side of things. All my ‘emotions’ are just so many electrical connections being made, all my ‘feelings’ the result of hormones coursing through my corps. In such a universe, what do my mistakes or their aftereffects matter? Ashes to ashes, dust to dust, from nothing I came, to nothing I shall return. All my mistakes shall die with me (and some before) while hopefully the good I did will be remembered, at least by some. From another perspective altogether, I came from millions of years of molecular evolution, and the changes I am making in that great hothouse I playfully call “my” body shall be passed on to be worked upon in turn. If I allow them to, of course.

The rain has always played catalyst to philosophical musings and in that too I am a temporary step in a long line of evolution.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Trying out blogger's complicated system of getting one's picture on one's profile...

Questionnaire I felt like answering

1. Have you ever been searched by the cops?
Yep. Wasn’t my fault though.

2. Do you close your eyes on roller coasters?
No. I hug people tight though, so Vicky likes to take me on them. Clich├ęd…

3. When is the last time you went sleigh riding?
Never and don’t want to really. Rather ski.

4. Would you rather sleep with someone else, or alone?
Never alone.

5. Do you believe in Ghosts?
I suppose I don’t but I’m inclined to think, in the middle of the night, that they believe in me.

6. Do you consider yourself creative?
Not much.

7. Do you think O.J. killed his wife?
Does it matter to me?

8. Jennifer Aniston or Angelina Jolie?
Aniston. Saw her play “the movie moment that moved me most”.

9. Can you honestly say you know anything about politics?
No, but I did win that prize.

10. Do you know how to play poker?
No. Was reduced to strip monopoly instead.

11. Have you ever been awake for 48 hours straight?
Don’t think so. Hate the idea.

12. Do you kill bugs that are in the house?
Some. The larger ones sometimes.

13. Have you ever cheated on a test?
Plenty of times.

14. If you're driving in the middle of the night, and no one is
you go through red lights?
I might.

5. Do you have a secret that no one knows but you?
Don’t know. Probably not.

16. Boston Red Sox or New York Yankees?
Dumb game, that.

17. Have you ever Ice Skated?
Yes, and loved it.

18. How often do you remember your dreams?
I usually do, but not for long.

19. When was the last time you laughed so hard you were crying?
Can’t remember.

20. Can you name 5 songs by The Beatles?
As a band or as solo artistes?

22. Do you believe in love at first sight?
Yes I believe it happens all the time.

23. Do you know who Ba-Ba-Booey is?

24. Do you always wear your seatbelt?
Sure, when I remember and if I need to.

25. What talent do you wish you had?
Wish I could sing really, really well.

26. Do you like Sushi?
Just deboned boiled fish for purchochori. Hate the feel.

27. Have you ever narrowly avoided a fatal accident?
Sure, every now and then.

28. What do you wear to bed?
Whatever I happen to be wearing when I fall asleep.

29. Have you ever been caught stealing?
No, but I’ve confessed years later.

30. Does size matter?
Sure. I like my cars big and my phones small.

31. Do you truly hate anyone?
Not enough to actively destroy them. But I can.

32. Rock and Roll or Rap?
Rock ‘n’ Roll

33. For love or for money?
If it’s for me, I’d rather they did it for love.

34. Do you have a relative in prison?
Not that I know of.

35. Have you ever sang in front of the mirror like your favorite singer?
I perform, yeah, but always as myself.

36. Do you know how to play chess?

37. What food do you find disgusting?
Burger chain French fries. There’s no excuse for bad fries. None!

38. Did you ever play, "I'll show you mine, if you show me yours?"
Nope. I get to see if I really want to anyway.

39. Have you ever made fun of your friends behind their back?
Nothing I wouldn’t say to their faces if tortured.

40. Have you ever stood up for someone you hardly knew?

41. Have you ever walked out on a movie at the theater?
Hemant and Esha and Prudhvi and Soumya may answer that one.

44. Do you ever sit through a bad movie, just to see how bad it can get?
Plenty of times. It’s fascinating.

45. Would you consider yourself obsessed with anything?
Dunno. Beq says I’m a Hysteric.

46. Have you ever met someone famous that you really wanted to meet?
Dr. L. Subramanium. It was an honour.

47. Have you ever been stood up?
Don’t think so.

48. When's the last time you screamed at the top of your lungs?
When I want to be loud I sing at the top of my voice.

49. Did you ever do something that you didn't want to, just to fit in?
Oh yes.

50. Do you consider yourself "the biggest fan" of something?
Clothes. Love them, all kinds.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Fathers are funny kittle-kattle. Mine couldn't tell you what I wore this morning but he can recognise my childhood earrings even though it's been years since I wore them. Perhaps he was just paying more attention then?

To the left is a picture of me "then". The other one is obviously of me "now"... I know which one I'd prefer. As I said, fathers are funny.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

No sooner did I get back from Bangalore than I found the house flooded with (welcome) guests. Baba’s schoolmates Amitkaku and Tapashkaku brought their families and Vicky joined the party on Tuesday morning. Found it irritating initially, having so many people around (I do value my privacy) but eventually it was a great deal of fun. We all needed the prolonged companionship. Vicky never got a chance to be withdrawn or quiet; the three fathers drank all day every day and were perfectly content that way; the three mothers nattered to their hearts’ content and refused to cook; I did the occasional spot of housework and spent all the time I could with V. Guddi was quiet, but I guess she has to put up with enough rubbish at the moment. Dada was the only one missing, even Pom made it down for a few days from his college in Bangalore.

V and I discovered a quiet, little park across the bridge one evening. For half an hour I was serenely happy. He was too, I think.

We tried out the Bengali Association puja here, Ma and me. Obnoxious people. What is it about probashi Bengalis that turns them into such class-conscious asses? Oh, and for the first time ever, all the new clothes I had for puja were three sarees and a couple of kameezes. Very strange feeling, having such ‘good girl’ clothes only. And me only 23! Wore one of them (the red one sent by V’s mother) when V and I went out by ourselves on Dashami. He wore the new kurta I’d bought him, so we looked very good, dutiful ‘children’. Didn’t last long. We went down to Elliot Beach, where the rain got us good and drenched, so much so that we had to buy new clothes from one of the shops there. Was fun, all considered. We were joined at Barista eventually by Arjun, Venkat, Ravi and Hemant. Rained cats and dogs that day. Parents and gang, who’d gone to Mahabalipuram that day, had to return drenched. Met them at the Spencer's Noodle House for dinner.

Got my nose pierced. Met Sukanta and Supriya Chaudhuri at Spencer’s (on another visit). Went to B’lore once more, this time with V on a shopping spree. Met up with Dhruba there. Some trip that was… So much to write, but why bother. You had to be there.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Back in Chennai after my little ‘escapade’. It’s silly, really. Could have gone to Bangalore having told the parents the real details of my hosts and proposed activities – but I knew I would have to hear a lot of recriminations even before the trip, so it was easier to have a cover, bless Shriya’s cute little heart (she allowed me to use her as an alibi).

It was bliss, going on a bender. We left drunk, late on Wednesday night (the guys were much higher though, having been busily abusing stuff their parents probably wish they’d never heard of) in a bus that was infested with bedbugs. The journey was all right though. H and I took the window seats and I woke up several times to see a beautifully clear, starry sky. Nice to commune with nature sometimes. Not via bedbugs though.

Finally met the misnamed Evil Twin the next morning, when Ravi’s brother Raghu came by to pick us up. I’m afraid I embarrassed myself by staring at the two brothers rather rudely but hey, I guess they’re used to it. The boys have a neat place in their house, the room-on-the-roof. I have been just so incredibly lucky with rooms-on-the-roofs… every single one I’ve been in has been special, and this one in Banglore was as nice as the others. After lunch at Venkat’s we went to the Leela Palace, where Curly and I splashed out on Belgian chocolates and we had a nicely stoned conversation amidst much coffee in the Barista there. We went to Mojo’s later, where I found out that I can drink much, much more beer than I thought I could all these years. Nice place, Mojo’s, if noisy. Me and Nancy were the only ones who could face the dinner his mother had left on the table, later that night. My kind of a day, really. Drunk, stoned and very happy throughout.

The next two days were a variation on this basic theme. On Friday Nancy took me to visit Srinivas on the other side of town. S has got himself a rather nice flat. Oh, and I must mention that he made the two of us breakfast since he insists on that being publicized. In the afternoon, after watching ‘Man on the Moon’, H, the twins, Curly and I went shopping for clothes (for Venkat). Afterwards we met up with Chandra and Pradeep at Suri’s, a most disreputable-looking drinking joint. One does not, with extreme prejudice, deign to title it pub. One has spoken.

The last day was spent comparatively quietly. Lay around doing nothing much for a good, long time. Arjun arrived early in the morning, so he gave the party a fresh lease of life. The afternoon having been spent quietly finishing the rat poison formerly known as weed, we rolled ourselves out of the house in the evening, H and I all packed and ready to catch the bus eventually. We went drinking at a place called BJP – The Beer Joint Pub (and restaurant). It was ok. Actually, I ended up having much more fun than I’d anticipated. Had been going on a downer till then, but a call from Beq revived my spirits wonderfully. We had a quick dinner later at some restaurant; V and I shared a good tetrazzini. Note to self: Must stop sounding so damn cynical all the time. It’s a wonderful world, innit? Even if it ain’t?

The bus back home was late, but it was comfortable enough. Dunno if poor H got much sleep though! :-) It went tremendously fast, so we reached Chennai in less than six hours.

It was the perfect break. Really needed to go somewhere and the guys really made sure I had a great time. If any of you ever get around to reading this, thanks, man.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

The Absurdity of Being Sue(d)

Funny day today. Went to bed last night making plans to run away, at least for a day or two. Last decided, the deal was that we go to Vellore early tomorrow morning, visit Soumya, go to Bangalore from there and return to Madras by Saturday morning. Then Soumya called up in the morning and said that her cold was better and that she would visit me here in Madras today after all, as per the first plan.

Not that she could stay for long, but it was splendid seeing her again. Guess I’m getting too clinging.

After the train pulled out of the station with her inside was when the fun started… I was walking moodily down the platform, meditating upon my wrongs. When along came a short little woman demanding our platform tickets, which of course we had forgotten to buy. Turns out the fine is Rs. 312 per person. Nasty shock that was. Tried explaining to the checker that it was an honest mistake, but she wasn’t having any of it, all the more so when Hemant started doing his angry young student bit. She finally said that she would charge us for only person if one of us stayed behind while the other went to the ATM to get the money. When Hemant had left I explained he was a bit upset because his girlfriend had left, and he was only a kid – 18 to my 25 – and it gave her the chance to moralise a bit on young blood.

Afterwards, when we were finally safe in the car, the smses from Soumya began ringing in. Turned out she’d got the ticket for tomorrow and not today, so she had also been jumped upon by an irate TTI. She was luckier than us though because all those middle-aged men sitting all around her abused the poor checker for hounding such a young girl and packed him off after she’d paid for a proper ticket (no fine of course).

What we learn from it all: Farce-is-never-too-away-from-angst. Thus spake the foolish one.