Friday, August 29, 2008

For Lali

who I met only once, a year ago, but whose memory is as fresh as though it were last week instead.

Whose blog I didn't frequent but who made me think every time I did drop by.

Who decided not to fight any longer and got out while she could.

Dear Lali, I just wanted you to know that even I who didn't know you so well think the world's a little emptier without you in it.

With love from

Monday, August 25, 2008

Marriage(s) on My Mind

Two salesmen rang our bell this afternoon and when I opened, asked to speak to my guardian. This ain't the first time so I didn't bother correcting them. Just asked V to take over. Technically, whether he likes it or not, he is my legal guardian, I believe. (And he doesn't like it, he thinks it's my father!)

So V opened the door and they took a look at him and asked to speak to his guardian.


To think of it, we've been married two and a half years now. Two years, seven months, come tomorrow. That might not sound like a long time if you've been in the game longer, but you'd think it was long enough for me to feel married in my deepest subconscious? It doesn't work that way, I find. The other day I turned in bed and saw Vicky sleeping and I felt much like I used to before we got married: excited at being in the same bed and hoping in a vague sort of way that nobody would catch us at it! But just lately, I keep forgetting I'm married. I don't remember the date. Very strange but actually, it's not a bad sort of feeling. Because you suddenly remember you're married and can do as you damn well please.

Two very old friends got married this month. Afreen, my oldest friend now -- she's the one who named me Sue way back in 1992 when she was new to India and couldn't pronounce my whole name -- got married early this month and looked so pretty. Such a baby getting married. She had some of the most gorgeous mehendi I've seen and looked very regal in her bridal attire. Weird, because in real life she's a wee baby. Although she tells me she's a doctor now and has a piece of paper to prove it. Hmm... Scary!

And last weekend, on the 17th, Shriya and Rajeev got married.

Although I told Rajeev that I was most certainly from the bride's side, having been 'best friends' with her through classes IX and X, I'm not so sure he didn't have an equal pull. After all, he featured in my diary way before she did (he made fun of me in class VII, the rat). They were two of the most popular kids in our class, very non-controversial folks. And now that they got married, I guess they'll have some happy babies in the years to come! I couldn't make it to Afee's wedding but I did make it to Shriya and Rajeev's, so here are some of the pics taken by Sudhakar (another classmate). A very Tam-Bram wedding and Shriya looked gorgeous. (And Rajeev looked so grown up but nobody tell him I said that!)

I met Kavitha, one of the other members of our gang then, and her eight month old son. He was so cuddly, I really didn't feel like letting his mother have him back. I'm sure you can see why!

You can see him here, grinning away in hsi grandmother's arms. That's Baba in the background.

We took some more pics after we came out. The wedding was by the beach and there was this terrific breeze. I'd forgotten how claustrophobic I used to find Cal once. Here we are, in all our finery (and in my father's case, in his daily wear!):

I got this kurta stitched for him just in time for the wedding. Lovely, soft cotton cut piece on sale at Mrignayani. I guess even boys can have scraps of fabric bought for them. Funny it never struck me before! Here's V all decked up.

And here's Baba looking rather imposing.

While I was taking all these photographs V was indulging in a bit of photography of his own. I have no idea when when he did it but he took a quick set of me laughing in the sea breeze and I love the feel of the lot. Here's one:

The best part about our quick, overnight trip to Vizag was that Baba was in town as well, on his own work. So we basically went around in a gang. Visited the colony, after 3 and a half years. We went just before dusk and it turned dark as I walked down the roads in the soft rain. The lights came on in the windows and things looked so yesteryear, I almost walked down our old walk. I wouldn't have been surprised to open the door and find myself back in Vizag c 1999. The rangolis were still painted on the walks to Satyanarayana Aunty's door, and Muralidhar Aunty's kitchen was lighted like it used to be every evening. Only, Lakshmi's gone continents away and the Roys are now scattered up and down the country. The boys no longer roam the streets at night -- they are grown men, most of them married -- and I'm not making any secret midnight plans. It was so eerie, like actually re-visiting the past. I'm talking in such cliches, but I was rather spooked. And not necessarily in a good way. The way that past was shaping up, it led down a path I'm glad I didn't follow.

Because, you see, the path that I did follow led me into the life I'm leading, which is good. I keep cribbing and I never have a good word for The Bhablet, but the love in my life makes up for everything else. And by and large, I think in my heart of hearts I do believe what my mother says, that careerwise and otherwise, things will fall into place if I just give them space enough and time. Walking into the past like that reminded me of the loneliness that followed those 'golden' years; of the gilt tint to the gold that made me glad to leave the colony behind when I did. I do reflect a lot upon my past, but I like to re-evaluate it as I go along. And I cannot help but think I've been blessed. Somebody did see the good I've done, and did reward me.


I wrote this post last Friday and it feels pretty ironic posting it now, considering V hasn't talked to me for the better part of two days now. Ah, c'est la vie, mon brave.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

My eyelids are giving in to gravity at last

and it's nearly 2 a.m. after a long, long day.

So good night. I'm off to bed, patting myself (metaphorically) on the back for managing to restore some semblance of sanity to this template. And adding a tag cloud, all by myself.

A Farewell, Some Love And A Realisation

In that order?

1. Rimi left, in the middle of this week. She left the city she's infested these twenty odd years and flew away across the continents. In the way of all students, bless her.

2. I went to watch Tin Can's Onko this evening (with Dipali and the SRE) and came home to find that Vicky had made dinner. Luchi-begun bhaja. A very Bengali meal of fried and puffed breads with fried aubergines and a favourite of ours. He's not that bad, as husbands go, I guess.

3. Watching the performers on stage, so many of them just a couple of years out of school, if that, I had this vision of The Bhablet wearing his first suit. It's a good thing that's so far away, but it's a thought. I suppose he'll look pretty handsome in it. Both the Roys and the Niyogys carry the suited look rather well and there's no reason to think he'll be an exception. But, you know, my little boy. In a grown up suit. Grinning at the girls. Where did the time fly?

Then I came back to earth with a bump. He is not even two yet (back off, there's a month to the birthday!) and in the meantime there was luchi-begun bhaja for dinner.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

The Behenji Cometh

Some friends and I were joking around the other day and I called myself a behenji. To a non-Indian, that means a housewife whose life is pretty much caught up in tv soaps and boring cooking and usually such a woman chooses not to think beyond the kids and the daily chores. Oh and such a woman would probably be fat and frumpy to boot.

So, not unexpectedly, there were some jeers at that, the idea of me being a behenji.

But I am, I think. When I think of the fun career I had planned, all the travelling, all the mad hours, the interesting people I was to meet, well, minding a household wasn't really the highlight of those plans. On the other hand, what do I do now? I don't like filling in "Housewife" in the forms so I call myself a writer (actress sounds pretentious somehow), but honestly, my days are filled with the household chores and my life is centred around my husband and son. My worries are to do with catching up on the mending, making sure we're stocked up on groceries and figuring out the best way to cut another corner somewhere. I may not watch a lot of TV but I do a lot of mindless surfing.

So in my own way, I think I am a behenji, compared to what I planned to be.

On the other hand, I'm making behenjiism look cool like never before. Behenjis like me wear Next jeans and sexy tops and occasionally down a shot at Roxy. We drive (to use the term loosely) and we write and we keep up with what's happening around the world (or at least as much as interests us, anyhow). When we plan a party we are quite likely to order out or at least not cook all day to prepare one meal. Oh and some of us even buy our spices as pastes.

We carry our kids on our hips the way Indian women have carried their children for millennia but the lullabies we sing may be in languages from across the world. Our husbands do like a well-run home and food when hungry but they take equal pride in our college degrees and our ability to carry off a strategically cut minidress. Best yet, our parents and parents-in-law take pride in our esoteric career choices, even though they really do not understand them.

It's not so easy some days, when you're the one running after a toddler and you've got marks on your best silk saree that'll probably never come out and you see the gang of pretty girls giggling amongst themselves and checking out the men and you suddenly realise they are the same age as you and you could be standing there, with immaculate hair and an expensive saree you could afford to splurge on. You could spend several thousands on a pair of sunglasses and not count the number of diapers the same sum would buy.

And then you smile to yourself. You're the one who gets all the help when she walks into a store with her arms full of Bhablet. You don't worry about your saree getting messed up because you've been wearing sarees long enough to know that you've worn yours very prettily in the first place, and in the second, so long as you're halfway presentable everybody will admire you for managing to look presentable while coping with Bhablets. You don't have to play long distance games with unknown men because you're happily out of the race.

It's a great time to be a behenji right now, getting the best of both worlds. Freelancing is opening up as are work-from-home career opportunities. The money may not be much but it's an option my mother never had so I'm not about to diss it. If you're young and in love with life, there's very little you cannot do, if, like me, you have a husband who understands your need for a little time off now and then to do your own thing.

Am I saying there are no frustrated Indian home-makers any more? Hardly. What I am saying is that staying at home -- the quintessential mark of a behenji -- is no longer as limiting as it used to be. With any luck, the next generation will never know how small the world used to be. With any luck at all, they'll be able to choose for themselves what they want to be and be more comfortable with their choices. And when that happens, you'll know that the Indian behenji is the coolest critter going.

While you think that over, you may like to check this out and ask yourself where the roots of your prejudices lie.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The Template

What do you think? I'm not so sure. I've always wanted to be a pastel person but am I?

Edited to add:
Folks, I've been changing templates all afternoon, depending on feedback and my own feelings. So don't get confused by the earlier comments.

Edited even later to add:
It became such a ghastly mess, I went back to my old one. Only to find I'd forgotten to save the widgets. So there goes all that info and my blogroll. Oh well. I never used it anyway.

I'm thinking of getting pretty depressed right about now.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008


Take a look at this pic, now.

See, this is my gorgeous gharchola. In firozi and rani pink. With a turquoise blue petticoat stitched by my own self (cut by the Ma's self) with a deep, matching lace border. With thread-bound bangles in the same perfect tones of pink and blue. With a white linen hanky with matching blue lace. I'm wearing a little string of uncut turquoises from Badrinath and perfectly matching pink dangly earrings.

The blouse is badly stitched but I managed to rectify the shape to some extent. All string-backed and so on.

Rahul pulled at the pallu and tore the safety-pinned place at my shoulder so I cried for an hour that night and complained to whoever would listen (which was basically nobody).

Anyway, so the other day I was at the Industree sale and I saw the perfect thread anklets in rani pink and firozi. :) The rest, as they say, is history.

Am trying to work up the will to give them away. They are very pretty, with little bells on, but they may be a bit much, even for me.

Anyway, while you all frown at me, here's something to make you feel a little better:

That's no walking stick. It's actually a dinky affair that makes a sound like a whistle when you rotate it. But it's a good pose, no?

And here is (a portion of) something else that I bought at the sale:

This was bought for a little boy who can say aaatiii ("haati" with a soft t is Bengali for elephant) and paapi ("paakhi" is Bengali for bird) and has been saying kukku since March ("kukoor" is Bengali for dog). He can also say many other things but mostly chooses not to. Like baadoor ("baNdor" is Bengali for monkey, although I should admit "badoor" is Bengali for bat).

I wanted to write about the Mehta case

but didn't have any time while it was still strong in my mind. And I'll say this now: it's not for some judge sitting in a court to tell any parents that they must take care of a child.

Yes, we need law makers and enforcers but that is to create and conserve a better social situation. I cannot think that forcing parents to unwillingly give birth to a child they do not want is in any way furthering this aim.

All these tests we have these days, these blood tests and scans and whathaveyous during ones pregnancy, it's all to monitor the foetal growth so you have some idea of what's ahead. Well, I think if you are made to test for congenital diseases, you should also be given the right to decide whether to have that child or not.

I faced that option every night for several months while I thought I had a problem pregnancy and honestly, I cannot say I would have made a good mother to a child with special needs. But yes, I would rather give birth and try to give that child of mine the best life I could. If a parent does not feel this -- and I don't think it's unnatural -- then it is wrong to force her/him to have such a baby. It's not the same as giving birth and then finding out that your baby has a problem. In this case the parents were not just unwilling, but determined enough to move court over this. Why force this child into the world?

Just as I do not believe anybody but the parents should decide on an MTP (Medically Terminated Pregnancy) I also do not think anybody but the parents can actually decide to go ahead with a potentially dangerous pregnancy. Dangerous for the marriage, for the couple's financial stability, mental states.

I'm very clear on this. I would have kept the child, but I do not like the idea of living in a society where I would have been forced to keep such a child willy nilly. I find I always do things better when I'm not being forced to do them.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

I've been so depressed

all week. Just so down and taking it out on whoever's nearby.

I feel better now.

Oh well. Just saying.

Here's a pic, just so that you know I am all right. You can see the new dining-table set in the background:

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Have you folks seen the date? It's nearly two weeks since my last post.

Oh well, I've been so busy. (I typed 'busty' but that was a typo. Heh. Freudian?) After we returned to Madras from Bangalore we spent a busy week running to the tailor (for blouses I'm now sitting and re-shaping, thank you very much), buying last minute stuff, packing, eating out. My brother arrived for an indefinite stay and that was one more thing.

I don't know how long he'll stay but this time, I hope he does, for a bit. Ma and Baba would like that, I think. After a long time, it felt right.

To think I had gone to MDR with two bags, one of which was mainly filled with gifts, and came back with both bags stuffed to bursting point and a suitcase besides! I don't know what it is that added to the luggage. A few clothes perhaps. The DVD player was a biggie since I brought it in its original packing. A few odds and ends, really. A pen or two, some of that hot chocolate from French Loaf, thass it. I still have no idea how the luggage expanded.

Anyway, so we travelled back in style, in a Jet Airways flight, since the fares came to the same as a budget flight. And I'd forgotten what it was like to travel like that! Seats that are actually comfy. Wet towels, actual towels, a constant supply of (good) food, extremely helpful service and hey, the seat next to me was empty, so Rahul wasn't stuck on me all the 1600 odd kilometres back home. And blankets and little pillows and what have you. Excuse my rhapsodies. I've been away from civilised flying for a really long time now.

All the way to Cal I was grinning to myself, looking forward to meeting that eejit I married. It was a touching reunion. I mean, we actually hugged before I went back to get the luggage from the carousel. And V -- I still have problems assimilating this -- had cooked for us, cleaned the floors and even changed the linen. If you're still standing allow me to add this: the man had shaved!

See? I have always suspected he loves me a little.

Anyway, what with the hot sex and the wedding receptions (three in six days this week) and the colds (Rahul came from Madras with one and V picked it up from him for a couple of days) and the general cleaning (I had the surfaces wiped and the unpacking done in twelve hours flat and that includes sleep time. Since then I've been washing everything in sight, all curtains included and sending things to be ironed) and the dining table business, we've been quite busy. I cooked one day, and managed to mess up a stew so have stuck to sandwiches and fried sausages with bread, anyway we've been eating out a lot.

The dining table deserves a paragraph to itself. We bought it at Homeland and exchanged my rickety old Gautier writing desk for Rs. 4,000 off. It's a simple six seater and cost us Rs. 16,000 in cash, so we're quite satisfied. Nice, clean lines and it feels so good to have a place to eat together, to offload shopping on, to generally admire. Even if we had to hound the shop for three weeks for delivery (six weeks after we made the booking!)

I got this far and then never posted it. Today's the 10th of August. I'm getting this post off and not bothering to catch up on the 'news'. I couldn't bring myself to blog just because of all the happenings I'd have to catch up on!