Monday, July 29, 2013

Catching Up with the Classics

I haven't watched that many movies or listened to that much music, really. I've read a lot of books but a good part of the time I've chosen quantity over quality, because I frequently read to ignore the world and that's easiest done with trash.

In the last one week I watched two movies I wish I'd seen before. What I found most remarkable in Sleepless in Seattle was the easy, normal relationship that the father had with his son. Not once did I see him tell the kid the words everybody seems to say so easily these days, "It'll be OK, I promise." (On what basis does anybody ever make that promise? How is it comforting?) He scolded the kid, looked after him, tried to figure out his needs and wants and clearly his son meant the world to him, but the kid never ruled his life. It just felt more like a parent-child relationship as I understand it than anything else I watch on TV these days.

This evening I finally saw Jerry Maguire. And yeah, I finally got the hype. It's not Tom Cruise that spoke to me, but some very well-written dialogue.


Why is it so hard for some people to just count their blessings and be grateful? Why must they actually want more? Why must I actually want more? How dared I ask for more?

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Size Matters

Rahul hasn't yet figured out the difference between size, height and age, because it's all mixed up with "growing bigger" for him. So when he tells me how big he's getting, he usually bends down and 'measures' himself from his toes, straightening up as he reaches his head, and tells me that's "a six years old".

Some day he's going to look back and think of what a silly kid he was. When he does, I want him to read this and know that I thought he was quite perfect. Daft, but perfect.

Talking about growing bigger, he is often told to do something or behave in a certain way because he is now a big boy. Protesting this unfairness he has taken to reminding me that he isn't entirely 'big' yet, that actually he is just a little boy really. The other day he brought this worksheet home.

Saturday, July 27, 2013


Usually keeping busy keeps me from slipping into one of my states. This week I have been very busy, and I know the week ahead promises as much work if not more.

It's not stopping me from slipping though.

Thank god for friends even if they say things one has no wish to hear. It's one way to keep from drowning in self-pity.

Friday, July 26, 2013


I just saw this text exchange here.

That is so my father except he doesn't even send the message himself. He is more likely to badger my mother into calling to check on me to demonstrate to the world how little he worries.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013


It has been raining ever since I returned from Vizag last Thursday. I don't like being out in the mud but otherwise the rain is stormy and gentle by turns, usually soothing.

Posting this video brought back a memory of Philip and me earlier this year, walking down Gariahat after an intense storm. We passed broken trees, smashed walls and a crushed car. The feeling in the air though was of exhilaration.

Ekla Chola

I cannot sleep and Youtube threw this my way. I really enjoyed Kahaani, so seeing the video brought back all the emotions of watching it unfold on the big screen.

I remember watching Vidya Bagchi drinking bottles of water as she walked her heavily pregnant self up and down the roads of my city; as she drank I wondered what bathrooms she used. In my third trimester I found outings a little scary because I needed to use the bathroom all the time and you rarely have clean, safe ones here. I won't tell you how she managed. If you see or have seen the movie you will know for yourself.

Watching the video now made me reflect on what a solitary journey pregnancy is for us all. Women only really talk about it to another preggie or a mother. No two pregnancies are quite alike. Watching a dear one go through pregnancy can be almost as emotionally charged as one's own pregnancy.

In the end though, no matter how cocooned you may be by love and care, how hard you work or how full you keep your life through those nine months, your pregnancy is about you. It is about your child, who is not yet a person in his own right, it is about your changing body, your mental preparation for what lies ahead, your willing or unwiling acceptance of the future, of ageing, of change.

It is an intensely physical journey and yet, for nine whole months all you can contemplate is yourself and your life. Your reactions to your world change. Your senses grow sharper, keener, your sense of danger is constantly on alert. You find yourself being unexpectedly sentimental, unexpectedly romantic and unexpectedly uncompromising.

It is no surprise that men shroud pregnancy and pregnant women with such an aura of the Unknown. There are few creatures as unpredictable as a pregnant female. There is no saying how she will react to what she perceives as danger or provocation. This is how she must be because the work she is doing is the most important thing she will ever do. For now her life is dedicated to the safe growth and delivery of another human being. Once the child is born the rest of the world can do all the things she can do but for now she is the only refuge, the carrier, the protector that this child has. The food she eats, the very air she breathes, goes to nourish the child she carries.

It is a journey that we all make alone, a path created for us to walk alone.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Flowers in Your Window

I've been downloading The Invisible Band and here's a song for you. The link leads to both the mp3 download and the lyrics.

Flowers in Your Window
I'm having a hard time of it today. Nothing has gone wrong, but nothing feels the slightest bit right either. Excuse me while I go throw a tantrum somewhere and get it out of my system.

It's all WRONG.

I don't care about fairness just now, it's all WRONG.

Tuesday, July 09, 2013


A very useful video from Mythri. I saw it on The Alternative.

Blogger refuses to embed the Youtube link, but you can watch it on the link above or click here.

If you have questions or are thinking of talking to somebody about menstruation, this video is very helpful. Its approach, attitude, language, even the tone of voice used, have much to teach us.

Giveaway Winners

Winners have been announced for Gift #3 and Gift #4.

Folks, I apologise for the delay. I could have used the random number generator once more but I really wanted Rahul to do a lucky draw for these two. He just came home from school and chose both winners -- and I have to tell you, never ask a Libran to choose a chit. He must have changed his mind half a dozen times for the first one, and at least thrice for the second!

Monday, July 08, 2013


Rahul just came home from school. He pushed through the doorway with a packet in his hand calling out, "Happy birthday, Babu." He saw me look at the packet and hurriedly told me, "These are for me, not you." (The packet contained Cheetos or something.)

Even while I was smiling at myself for thinking he might have got me something, he dashed into my room not even having stopped to take his shoes off, and presented me with a red rose.

After I'd finished hugging him silly, he got me a cup and water to put it in. As an afterthought, he handed me the plastic packet in which he'd brought the rose home and said I may as well have that too.

Sons are the cutest critters.

P. S.
I have not forgotten the giveaways. Will post results tonight!

Saturday, July 06, 2013

Losing a Family

Reading through the comments on this post by Dooce is a very sad experience.

In the last one year I lost my in-laws. Not the immediate in-laws because them I suppose I never had. However, Vicky comes from a large and varied joint family and in these seven years I have spent a certain amount of time with them, learning things about them, sharing things with them. Cousins and aunts and uncles and kids, all related by marriage, all very welcoming and mostly a great deal of fun. As the situation between Vicky and his mother deteriorated these relationships, well, they frayed at the edges. Smiles became a little strained, welcomes were a little less enthusiastic, phone calls stopped being returned. I am still in touch with a couple of relatives, but most of the family have, not surprisingly, requested that we sort out our mess. If, in a gathering, the invitation must be sent either to us or to Vicky's mother, we are, quite naturally, left out. And so it goes.

It broke my heart last year, especially when one aunt-in-law requested that we not visit for fear of the negativity it would generate and later another one, who had once been a source of immense support to me, explained that she would rather stay out of it all. These are all old people and I have never wanted them to take sides, so I've never pressed the matter. But the situation hurt me very badly.

My friends, with the best intentions in the world, counsel me to accept that this never was my family. And I do understand (and indeed prefer) that my in-laws take Vicky's mother's side, if take a side they must. It has been borne in on them that they must take a side. Yet I cannot explain this deep sense of loss. I liked being a daughter-in-law, one of many. I liked the various heirarchies and complicated stories of this big family. I liked seeing my son among his cousins. I liked seeing Vicky with his cousins. When the family gets together, there is always laughter and this deep sense of a bond. I liked all of that. It's what I understand of marriage, this merging of families.

Vicky and I haven't got a divorce yet, but I lost a family anyway.

Thursday, July 04, 2013


First there was work. Then there was a movie at London Paris. With Shuktara.

Then there were birthday gifts and cocktails.

Then there was some sleeping off.

And now we're back to work. And some conversation. Some TV. But work all along.

Life's OK. I'm OK.

Wednesday, July 03, 2013

Contemplating Death (and a Poem)

[Note: This post may be upsetting for some of you. I don't mean it to be. I am perfectly fine, and do not plan to do away with myself today or ever. These are some very personal thoughts I wanted to write down and did. Since I don't want to discuss them, I am switching comments off.]

Since I am, to myself, too old to stormily contemplate suicide (when the rainbow is enuf) -- well, actually, I am old and experienced enough to be unable to dismiss the effect this would have on the people I affect, I sometimes wish it were simpler. That I could just lie down and die, swiftly, painlessly, by choice. I fear I shall live till I'm in my eighties (and hopefully no longer) but even then, I would ask for a peaceful end in my own bed, alone. I have thought this, and wished it, even knowing that my family and personal medical history make this a most unlikely possibility.

For all the rage and grief I have felt at the deaths of those who mattered to me, I have always thought I would welcome my own death, whenever it came. Perhaps, in my eighties, I shall long have begged to have been released from my pain. I cannot imagine dying by violence; nor have I ever wished for my family around my deathbed. Death seems so intensely personal, somehow. My faith, such as it is, gives me no answers as to what to expect after I'm gone, and perhaps there is indeed nothing to expect. But if it really will all be the same in a hundred years, as I often tell myself it will, then I wish I could retire from this stage. Maybe not today, I have a child to bring up, but I do not wish to live on and grow old. Were it not for Rahul, I would be selfish enough to wish I could retire today.

The other day, I was taking a short break from my work and came across this piece with its translation of Rabindranath Tagore's Maran-milan. I don't read a great deal of poetry these days but I read this one through because I found it both beautiful and very sad.

Maran-milan (‘Death-wedding’, 1902)
Why do you speak so softly, Death, Death,
Creep upon me, watch me so stealthily?
This is not how a lover should behave.
When evening flowers droop upon their tired
Stems, when cattle are brought in from the fields
After a whole day’s grazing, you, Death,
Death, approach me with such gentle steps,
Settle yourself immovably by my side.
I cannot understand the things you say
Alas, will this be how you will take me, Death,
Death? Like a thief, laying heavy sleep
On my eyes as you descend to my heart?
Will you thus let your tread be a slow beat
In my sleep-numbed blood, your jingling ankle-bells
A drowsy rumble in my ear? Will you, Death,
Death, wrap me, finally, in your cold
Arms and carry me away while I dream?
I do not know why you thus come and go.
Tell me, is this the way you wed, Death,
Death? Unceremonially, with no
Weight of sacrament or blessing or prayer?
Will you come with your massy tawny hair
Unkempt, unbound into a bright coil-crown?
Will no one bear your victory-flag before
Or after, will no torches glow like red
Eyes along the river, Death, Death?
Will earth not quake in terror at your step?
When fierce-eyed Siva came to take his bride,
Remember all the pomp and trappings, Death,
Death: the flapping tiger-skins he wore;
His roaring bull; the serpents hissing round
His hair; the bom-bom sound as he slapped his cheeks;
The necklace of skulls swinging round his neck;
The sudden raucous music as he blew
His horn to announce his coming - was this not
A better way of wedding, Death, Death?
And as that deathly wedding-party’s din
Grew nearer, Death, Death, tears of joy
Filled Gauri’s eyes and the garments at her breast
Quivered; her left eye fluttered and her heart
Pounded; her body quailed with thrilled delight
And her mind ran away with itself, Death, Death;
Her mother wailed and smote her head at the thought
Of receiving so wild a groom; and in his mind
Her father agreed calamity had struck.
Why must you always come like a thief, Death,
Death, always silently, at night’s end,
Leaving only tears? Come to me festively,
Make the whole night ring with your triumph, blow
Your victory-conch, dress me in blood-red robes,
Grasp me by the hand and sweep me away!
Pay no heed to what others may think, Death,
Death, for I shall of my own free will
Resort to you if you but take me gloriously.
If I am immersed in work in my room
When you arrive, Death, Death, then break
My work, thrust my unreadiness aside.
If I am sleeping, sinking all desires
In the dreamy pleasure of my bed, or I lie
With apathy gripping my heart and my eyes
Flickering between sleep and waking, fill
Your conch with your destructive breath and blow,
Death, Death, and I shall run to you.
I shall go to where your boat is moored,
Death, Death, to the sea where the wind rolls
Darkness towards me from infinity.
I may see black clouds massing in the far
North-east corner of the sky; fiery snakes
Of lightning may rear up with their hoods raised,
But I shall not flinch in unfounded fear -
I shall pass silently, unswervingly
Across that red storm-sea, Death, Death.

Monday, July 01, 2013

Gift #4

Since I missed a week in June, I shall have my last giveaway in this, the first week of July.

So far I created giveaways based on writing, handicraft and food -- three very important parts of my life. This last one is about Calcutta. I love this city, as well you know. It is the city of my birth and it is the city that gave me, an uncertain 18 year-old, wings. Clipped ones perhaps, but wings nevertheless. It is a city that fills me with indescribable hope in my worst moments.

This week's giveaway is a set of sketches by Samir Biswas. Usually his work is sold in sets according to subject, but I put together a collection of sketches of subjects which mean a great deal to me personally, and that's what I'm offering you this week.

To win, you will please tell me in the comments why you love where you live. It's easy and there are no wrong answers and you can send in as many entries as you like.

Contest open till midnight IST, Friday, 5 July 2013. Winner will be chosen by lucky draw, as always. Please don't forget to leave your email id or some other contact information so that I can reach you if you win.

I shall miss these giveaways. Get writing, folks.

Mahithi wins the sketches. Mahithi, I hope you enjoy them. I'll be in touch with you about contact information.