Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Nureyev's Pupils

Measuring Shuki for a dress I'm trying to make her.

Photograph and title courtesy Soubhik Niyogy
Dancers: Sunayana Roy and Shuktara Lal
Hair, Makeup & Clothes: Dancers' own
Location: 675/1/1 Lake Gardens

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Say wha?

Apparently there's a Calcutta in Ohio.

Somehow, the universe just gets more random the more you find out about it.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Calcutta Walks just re-defined crazy

Although I'm not sure Ifte would be willing to do this again.

Seriously. If you're in Cal, you need to take a Walk. And you should be in Cal.

Funny how a Cal-lover's story falls on Baba's birthday. If you're reading this, Happy Birthday, Atticus.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

What is even more fun

...than getting your kid to say Czechoslovakia?

Getting your Bheblu-babu to say Lacto Calamine. You don't have to take my word for it. Go on, try it out.

(Lactamela, Kaltemo, Lactomobi, Lactomelamine being some of his best efforts but there have been plenty more where those came from.)

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Tuesday, June 23, 2009


Beq sent me this link that I think all of you should read. The Indian Institue of Planning and Management (IIPM) is a fraud, they say.

Personally speaking, working as I do in an advertising agency, I do draw the line at such unethical advertising.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Fathers Day 2009

I know I'm late but I spent the weekend doing stuff with you two (when not working) and that seems like an acceptable reason for a late post.

You've been a Work from Home Father for seven months now. I just wanted to say I can't think of anybody who'd do your job better. (I would, of course, but then I'm perfect and I wouldn't want you to compare yourself to perfection.)

Like I told you some weeks ago, some day our son is going to make a great father. I can see the signs in him. The willingness to make fun of critters smaller than him, the ability to create mess, mayhem and madness out of nothing on a Sunday morning, the inclination to throw himself headlong into a sulk at the drop of a hat... he'll have learnt it all from YOU.

Muah, baby. You're a fab Baba.

Friday, June 19, 2009

In Love, you'll improve your relationship by being honest.

That’s what my horoscope told me this morning. So I confessed all to Vicky. How, for a fortnight now, no matter what time I left for work, I found this man going down Park Street at the very time that I needed to cross the street. How he never looked directly at me, but surely it couldn’t be a coincidence that he would do this every single morning, whether I was there at 10.30 or at 11. How I didn’t like to read too much into it and I’m sure he’s quite a gentleman really, but you know, I am a married woman and we, er, need to be careful of our reputations and I wouldn’t want Vicky to think that I had anything, er, going on with the CM.

Yes, if you’re wondering, he only gave me one of those looks he reserves for me. Serve him right if Mr Bhattacharya were indeed stalking me. Humph.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Respect and Its Implications

This post has been on my mind, off and on for over a month now. A lot has been happening in my immediate circles, not the least of them being the shock of losing Vicky’s father so unexpectedly.

In the end, I think all relationships come down to respect. When a wife says something horrible about her husband – as I often do – it’s an unpleasant experience for bystanders, but it remains her right and one that has to be respected by the said bystanders. She was in the marriage with all its beauties and its troubles and she knows why she cursed. Whether it was a fair thing to say or not, it’s a right she has earned.

(I strongly recommend both links. Poppy's for the insight and Boo's for the frustrated agreement.)

In my own case, I’m no longer sure I’ve earned the right even though I’ve been freely exploiting it for three and a half years now. If there’s one thing that has changed about my marriage in the last six months it’s the rhythm of our fights. We fight now because we’re depressed. We don’t fight the marriage any more, being tied to one another. And as I accept the togetherness as a given (even while I’m having wistful thoughts of divorce/homicide or at least separation) more and more I question my right to speak to another human being as I speak to Vicky. Just because I show him more love than I show anybody else, does it automatically follow that I am entitled to abuse more than I’d dream of abusing another person to their face?

I read recently that in cases of violent relationships the first time you are a victim, after that you are just a volunteer. This thought made a deep impact on me because it’s the way of thinking I’m currently at. In any relationship, given any toxicity, the first time you’re faced with it, you are a victim. But if you cannot sort it out and you cannot see the need to sort it out and you will not break away, you are a volunteer. You will have my empathy but not my sympathy because I think you are strong enough to do something about it instead of sitting at home licking your wounds. That’s what I told myself, at any rate – I have long conversations to with myself, that at least has not changed – and so, I’ve tried to be neither a victim nor a volunteer.

In clearer terms: when we fight, I try not to take every little thing so personally. I may do so in the heat of the moment but when I’m calmer I try to treat it the same way I would wish my own little meannesses to be treated – to be forgiven and forgotten as something said in the heat of the moment rather than a deep truth fighting its way to the surface helped by the righteous fury of my indignation. It sounds like a very simple change to make and in a way, it was. But it’s been a very far-reaching change in my mindset. I am, for instance, far more forgiving a person today than I was five years ago. I’m less confrontational and less likely to think it’s all about me.

I find myself less willing to take a stand than I used to be. I’m very clear on my stance on a particular issue (take the recent blowup on the blogosphere) but I find myself respecting each blogger’s right to her opinion. Even when the opinion makes no sense to me. Where earlier I would have taken sides now I’m content to let the people involved find their own end. Now more than ever I’m learning the importance of letting the ones at loggerheads battle it out in their own way.

I used to think mediation helped, especially in close relationships, but hey, I don’t want anybody explaining me to E or the other way round either. I don’t know if it’s the right way, but it’s the way that is making sense to me these days. When friends of mine are having very serious relationship issues it still makes more sense for me to let them work their differences out themselves than for me to negotiate a truce only to find it shattered the second I step out of the picture.

Then again, perhaps I’m just a bad mediator. Now there’s a thought.

My father-in-law’s short fight with cancer emphasised the lesson I learnt from my watching my grandfather in action: that it’s better to live as you like and die young than live on as something you never wanted to be and die old and lost. When he fought his medical restrictions, for instance, I understood his frustration even as I wanted to yell at him to not complicate our lives any further. I think I learnt to respect a man’s right to live as he chooses even if he does break a bit of my son’s heart in the process. That is just another part of the picture I shall have to paint for Rahul – not just a grandfather who loved him and took pride in him but also man who did things his own way and was somebody to be proud of.

Yesterday I tried to explain to Vicky, yet again, why I want him to pull the plug on me rather than wait to see if I come out of a coma. To me it’s about the way I’ve lived my life. I’ve never lived my life particularly quietly and I don’t want to die a vegetable. I want him to respect my right to die. Whereas to him it’s unthinkable that he would give up on me while the slightest hope remained. Both of us make sense but I maintain that my personal right to die is of greater significance than his right/duty to do what he thinks is the best he can do by his wife.

I have always fought to see people as persons in their own right rather than the people they are to me. I learnt to step back from my parents and my brother when I was only in my mid-teens. It wasn’t a detachment so much as teaching myself to see the many parts of the whole. My brother, for example, is always going to be my brother to me. But it helps me see him through truer lenses if I also acknowledge his needs and shortcomings and achievements in aspects of his life that have nothing to do with me. It was even harder seeing my parents as husband and wife rather than my mother and father but learning to do so has helped me place my uncles and aunts in context. I’m not saying it’s always easy and I’m not claiming to be very expert at it either, but I do try to respect a person’s right to be the person they want to be. Being an inherently bossy person this is never easy but the advantages of this kind of learning are strong enough to make it worth while. I find my life much richer somehow, this way, when people are no longer uni-dimensional.

A comment from Starry-Eyed that gave me a very valid additional perspective into this post:
" respect a person’s right to be the person they want to be." It sure takes a lot of burden off us women, otherwise we start taking responsibility for everybody else!
On thinking about it, it's true I feel less claustrophobic in my circumstances than I did before.

Thanks Ro, for the link. Folks, IHM has a whole series of posts on the topic. Again, worth a read.

Friday, June 12, 2009

The Taste of Things

And when I say things, I mean bug things.

I have a really bad habit, one that gets a lot of people riled. I tend to pick crumbs up and pop them in my mouth. Crumbs from the table (not the plate), the floor, my clothes, the boy. It's all tied up with my dislike of wasting food, I think. So, say I'm having a cake or a biscuit. You can be sure I eat all the crumbs I may scatter as well. It's not been unknown for me to pop some fluff mistakenly in my mouth while I was at it but that never really cured me.

Yesterday evening, I was having some homemade cake. This one wasn't properly beaten so it was rather crumby. As I propped my feet up on the sofa and read my Georgette Heyer (The Black Moth), I managed to get crumbs all over my chest, parts of it that weren't immediately visible, thanks to the book and angle of reading. True to form, I picked them up as they fell, mostly by guess, and without looking, popped them in with nary a break between words.

Until something soft didn't quite taste like chocolate cake. When I brought it out of my mouth it proved to be the remains of one of those light insects, something that must have been alive and fluttering five seconds ago before its final journey into my mouth. Dammit.

Next time, like the Bhabbles, I will refuse to put uninvestigated matter into my mouth. And even more like him, I shall make it a point to tell all insects, wherever I may meet them, "Poka, GO!" Only, being only a Babu and not a Bhabbles, I shall try not to scream it at the top of my lungs until I'm red in the face.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Relief Work

Folks I know are collecting clothes, money and rations to help folks out in the Sundarbans. If you would like to contribute and don't know where to give, please drop me a line.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

You may be only one person in the world, but you may also be the world to one person.

I read that line in an email forward for the umpteenth time today. It’s a thought, though.

My working woman angst is not so much towards guilt at being away as it is resentment for having to accept other people mothering my baby for those long, long hours that I’m away. Mostly I’ve come to terms with it and dare I say it, I’m even appreciative of having to do less of the donkey work.

But now and then, especially when I count the very few hours that I actually spend with the boy in a week, I feel very redundant. I tell myself, all he really needs is one parent and he’s got Vicky, and if they have a good maid to do the housekeeping, I guess they’ll manage. I said as much to Vicky the other night and got a surprisingly stern rejoinder. Made me think of how I’d treat such a statement from him. With scorn, of course, for not appreciating what he had. Is that what I do?

Perhaps, when I’m in such self pitying modes, I sidestep the whole point of being a mum. Of being the person who gets him as nobody else does. I think I don’t, but the naughtiness, the humour in his naughtiness, I get it. Because he gets it from me. Some days I think he loves Vicky the way he does because he learns that from me too. Watching the man, learning him inside out, at war with his stubbornness but unable to withstand his smile, that’s how the Bhabs loves the Vicky. As do I.

He’s two and three quarters now and no longer a toddler by a long shot. I still haven’t gotten used to the ramifications of being a mum though. That if Vicky and I fight and I cry in my locked bedroom, my son will tell me the next day that yesterday you cried. And leave me to learn my own lesson like I leave him to learn his. That if I cry it matters, not because it upsets him but because my tears hurt him. Like my mother’s hurt me.

In my own way, completely different from Vicky’s, I accept that I too make up his home. In my arms he listens to stories and from me he learns to cook omets (omlettes) and identify buldos (bulldozers). From me he hears his lullabye and with me he overcomes his fear of lightning (I’m so proud of him on this one). I teach him to appreciate his clothes and water the (two) plants and help him climb the ‘grown-up’ slide. I take him every where I go, to places where nobody would think to take him, and I fight for his rights when nobody else would even think to consider them. These are some of the things I do for him that nobody else does or can do. These are the things I’m supposed to do and I have no business thinking I can leave such important jobs to anybody else.

I’m not in a sentimental mood. Even if I were, my boys laugh me out of it. They don’t believe in being senti. But it’s funny how I insist on being Vicky’s world when I don’t always remember that I may be our son’s world too.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

A Much Delayed Compliment

Rashi got married earlier this year and sent me this photograph of herself wearing her saree shadharon bhabe. I meant to post it here because I think she looked lovely but with one thing and another, I completely forgot.

A chance meeting in the Metro yesterday morning reminded me, so here she is. In a saree or the shalwar kameez she was wearing yesterday, she looks cutely newly wed. This ol’ matron is touched.