Saturday, June 29, 2013

Diva

Some days I wake up on top of the world. There's a laugh in my eyes and I turn heads as I walk by. I can feel the magnetism.

Other days you wouldn't remember what I looked like or what I wore.

Other women struggle with the madonna-whore dichotomy; I gaze bemused at my diva-bore life.


Friday, June 28, 2013

Mealtimes

I come from a family where all four of us were almost always at war, but mealtimes were sacred. We all ate together and it was not unusual to find us sitting and chatting at the table long after the meal was over. We talked about a lot of things, not necessarily private, and the conversations were always interesting.

Vicky comes from a family where they all ate when it suited them and often people picked up their plates and walked off into their rooms to eat. It was more about convenience than conversation.

In our household after many fraught mealtimes we have reached an understanding of sorts. We have lunch together, mostly, but we don't talk. Sometimes Rahul and I talk, but mostly we all finish our food and leave.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Foo Li (Shh)

There's no fool like an old fool, I'm told, and though I'm too young to call myself old, I do feel fairly foolish.

The title is an uncle's old pun on one of my pet names. It's been one of those days.

Thankfully, New Market Tales went off fine.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

"it fascinates me"

Stephen Fry explains why he talks publicly about his depression. Some lines struck a chord --

I don’t write this for sympathy. I don’t write it as part as my on going and undying commitment to the cause of mental health charities like Mind. I don’t quite know why I write it. I think I write it because it fascinates me.
I often write posts that either make sense only to me or are woefully unexciting. I often write about being low. I don't always welcome comments on these posts, because I don't always know how to respond to the sympathy and kindness they tend to generate. So I've often wondered why I write them. Like Stephen said, it's fascinating. I find the workings of my own mind fascinating. Some times I am a hypocrite and I can see my own double standards but I still carry on with whatever I'm doing. It's almost like watching myself from the outside, with an insider's perspective. So one knows what is really going on but one is unable to change events.

Like I said, it's fascinating.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Gift #3


This week's giveaway is for those of you who like to have your cake and eat it too. I'm giving away a box of cake made by me.

I'm afraid I can only send this to Indian addresses but you can send it to a friend if you win and you live outside the country.

Depending on your tastes, I will bake you either my chocolate cake with whiskey OR rum and raisins; OR brownies (or blondies). These are the cakes I bake best and I know they travel well.

The rules are, as always, simple:
1. Leave, in the comments box, a funny story about cooking or baking
    OR
2. Leave me a recipe or a link to one for food that you like to make yourself.

Contest open till midnight IST, Friday, 28 June 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.

The winner of Gift #2 has been announced.

UPDATE:
R's Mom wins the cake. To think I sent her a couple of my favourite recipes just a few days ago! I'll be in touch about what cake you would like me to bake, OK?

Sunday, June 23, 2013

The Feel Good Factor

I found this page shared on my Facebook tonight. I think this is something you should read if you're into women, or are one, and if you're sexually active, or looking to be. Just go read.

(It's a list of different types of orgasms a woman can have and how to reach them.)

Pricey Acting

I'm handling costumes for a play right now and some of the performers are starting to seriously annoy me. They cannot be bothered to take a call and after seeing two or three missed calls, I still cannot expect them to call me up to find out why I was calling so urgently. They may or may not respond to my texts. They don't want to bring their costume options for checks -- because it's so much to carry around -- and they don't want to ask around for costumes that they can possibly borrow. All this when they know full well that none of us, including me, get paid for the time and effort (and sometimes even the expense) we put in.

It's as though they somehow feel that it's my job to work around their schedules and inclinations. That I am there to be of service, a person of somehow lesser account. They are all very nice to me, but some of them are quite disrespectful of my schedules and requirements.

As a theatreperson I am continually surprised by this attitude. I get it the strongest from people who only act. They know nothing of the extraneous work that makes their performance possible and they don't want to know it, because it's not that important, right? It's the performers who are carrying the show, right?

Wrong. I could send you on stage in costume with period detailing all gone haywire (and you're not smart enough or invested enough to know the difference) and people would spend more time smirking at your wrongness than admiring your performance. I could send you on stage in clothes that look better than they feel and you would spend your time in things that itch or poke or otherwise distract you. You don't know enough about your own damn costume needs to know what would help and what would not. There are dozens of ways in which I could let your lack of interest decide the tone I want to take about your costumes and believe me, you'd pay. I'd be sitting off-stage giggling my sneaky head off.

It's never a good idea to annoy your wardrobe mistress, especially when she does it for love and not money. If you make her fall out of love with your costume, you pay -- not her. Especially when this is not her livelihood.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Why Does a Child Need to Know About Homosexuals?

Why indeed.

Shrabonti posted a link to a very useful German cartoon that explains homosexual unions to a child. A friend of hers asked, "Why DO you need to explain homosexuality to a child?"

This is a good question. Let me answer that. We need to explain homosexuality to our children, to my son and your daughter, because

1. Homosexuality is not by choice. One is born a homosexual, like I was born an Indian, a female, to Mr and Mrs Roy. 

2. I have friends who are homosexuals, and I have been mistaken for a lesbian myself, and our friends and our experiences are a part of our children's world.

3. I hope to see in my lifetime vastly changed social, financial and political attitudes towards those who prefer partners of their own gender.

4. Our children will grow up and live in a world with more single parents, more same sex couples, more diversity. I need to prepare my child for this world, not the narrow boundaries of my own youth. I am a part of the change precisely because I never agreed with those narrow boundaries and this is the change I want.

5. We all need to understand that homosexuality is more than just what happens in the bedroom. As the cartoon shows all too well, it's also about love and nurture, which are universal values and have no gender.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

My Lovers' Hands

In my second year of college we performed Ntozake Shange's For Colored Girls Who Committed Suicide When The Rainbow Is Enuf. It is a difficult play to understand not least because it deals with the complexities of violence against women. Our professor organised several workshops for us, of which a few were with Sohini. She conducted wonderful workshops, making us raw young women consider and re-evaluate the violence we saw all around us and also helping us bond as a group. Twelve years on, something of that feeling of being in something important, together, lingers in us all.

One of the exercises she conducted was to make the performers stand in a row with their eyes closed. Different people came and put their hands on our hands or even our faces, and we had to identify who touched us. When my turn came, the hands on me were almost as familiar to me by their texture, touch and smell as my own two palms. According to the rest of the cast I dismissively called out, "Beq", practically calling out, "Next please!" after that. It gave us all a good laugh and didn't surprise Beq -- or me.

Hands have always been so important to me. As a young teen I learnt to read palms a little and sometimes I catch myself associating certain nail shapes or palm lines with oddments of that knowledge but much before that, so long ago that I'm not even sure how old I was, hands were important to me. As a thirteen year-old I dreamt of being held much more than I wanted to be kissed. I actually dreamed of it. Ever since, I've looked for hands that make me feel that way.

When I think of my first love, I can no longer remember a lot of things about us but I do remember the feel of his sturdy, capable hands. That was love and lust, longing and reassurance, fear and doubts but most of all, it was confidence. We were young and we would make it.

Beq's touch was different, but it was as dear. He has beautiful, long, thin fingers and I probably fell in love with his hands before I noticed any of the rest of him. When we broke up, much after I had fallen out of love with him, it was his hands I missed. They expressed all the things he never could bring himself to speak of, his insecurity, his ambitions, his gentleness.

My husband's hands are not beautiful but like many silent men, his hands do his apologising for him, show his caring and his tenderness. They pat babies to sleep and feed hungry little boys. They draft delicate calligraphy and drive the car deftly through city traffic. They bandage sores on the feet of rickshaw-walas, hold ill fathers and comfort despairing mothers.

When I think of any man I've been with, funnily enough, it's his hands I remember. Whether things ended well (or not), whether we were good in bed (or not), whether they knew what they meant to me (or not), our hands did a lot of the talking for us. It doesn't take a psychiatrist to work out that as a child my father's hands were a place of comfort and safety for me. Funnily enough, these days my little son's hands, skinny little things with stubbly nails that always look like they need trimming, palms no bigger than damnit, these hands make me believe in a better future. I have no idea why or how, but I look at his hands and I see hope that one day he will know how to love and succour the women in his life, and perhaps all the love his mother once received from her lovers' hands will flow from his, too.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Gift #2


I missed a whole week because my blessed keyboard went on the blink. Not to worry, I planned four giveaways and four is what I'll give. It's a nice number, 4.

Talking of what else is nice, guess what I've been learning to do? Crochet. I often write about the things I knit, or sew, or embroider. What I'm giving away this week is a pretty crochet and ribbon necklace and bracelet set. I'm afraid I can't show you a photograph just yet because I'm still working on the pieces but I promise you it's cute. It would make a nice gift if you don't wear it yourself, too.


This week, to win this set of crochet necklace and bracelet, you can leave a comment here giving me either
1. a story about handicrafts (could even be a photo or a personal anecdote -- anything really)
2. a link to a great site for knitting, embroidery, lace-making etc
3. both of the above!

That's easy, right? Contest open till midnight IST, Friday, 21 June 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.

Also, the winner of #Gift 1 has been announced.

UPDATE
I will be very happy to post any photographs you care to share with me, on this page. You can email me the images and I'll just add them here. I realise you can't add them in the comments section but I do love photographs of things made by people I know or people they love.

Update 2
Sur wins the crochet set! Sur, clearly the thing powering www.random.org heard from your many supporters. I must say I am impressed. :)

Fear in Calcutta

On Saturday morning I was telling my father about women I know being arrested on the streets for protesting against violence. He said that the times are unsafe and I should stay indoors, follow the rules. I told him, sadly, that staying safe hasn't made anything better. Things are actually worse. I wrote about this growing feeling of fear for the Violence Against Women Awareness Month last October.

I also wrote about broken windows and I stand by what I wrote. It's just that I often feel that I am taking my life in my hands just by being outside. I continue to feel this way even when we are travelling as a family, so what does that tell you?

This morning I read this and saw this. It reminded me of Kolkata Police's refusal to allow a massive Take Back the Night for Women's Day as a part of Kolkata's One Billion Rising this year. They simply refused to allow so many women on the streets even though all that was planned was singing and dancing, maybe games.

There's a protest planned tomorrow. Do you want to be there?


Sunday, June 16, 2013

Father's Day 2013

S Niyogy Jr just came to my table to sign a card we'd bought a couple of weeks ago for his father.

He asked what he was to write. I said, "Dear Baba". He looked dubious so I said he could also write just "Baba". Then I asked him if he knew how to spell that, and was almost about to prompt him with "B-a" when he told me the Bengali spelling.

So the card was addressed to বাবা from আমি which is very cute.

(My ancient Mac doesn't display the Bengali font so I typed those words blind. If you can read them and they have been typed wrong, kinly scuse.)

...

In Bangla. I'm still rather impressed.

...

This is also in a large part due to my own father who has been in town for some time now. On his last visit he bought Rahul a white board (Vicky added some colourful markers) and on this visit he and Rahul write interesting things in Bangla like "dinosaurer dadur barir bhoot" or "dinosaurer bhooter barir dadu" or "dadur barir bhooter rail"... you get the idea.

The fathers in my life are all nuts but they take their fathering seriously. So here's to them.

Thursday, June 06, 2013

Gift #1


Rahul has a low opinion of birthday celebrations that don't give gifts to attendees, so I'm hosting a giveaway every week this month to celebrate Sunny Days turning ten. Every week Monday I'll announce what I'm giving away and you have till Friday to leave me an entry in the comments section. All prizes will be chosen through lucky draw by Rahul (if you've already won something I'm not going to enter your name for subsequent draws, sorry).

I spent some time thinking about what I wanted to give away. It had to be something I made myself, something featured here or otherwise related to the things I write about. Since I write about a lot of things, this gives me a lot of scope.
 
This week's giveaway is my writing itself. Whoever wins this one will get a short story crafted to their specifications, written by me, especially for them. I've only ever written stories for myself, Vicky and Rahul, so I'm quite excited about this one.

To win, please leave a comment with the link to a Sunny Days post that means something to you and please tell me why you chose that piece. It could be something you liked, objected to, remember for its associations -- any reason at all.

This particular giveaway is open till next midnight IST, Tuesday, 11 June 2013. I look forward to your comments!

------------------------------

Update:

Poppy wins the story. Popsicle, I'll be in touch with you. We have a story to plan!

Also, Gift #2 has been announced. Give it a shot.

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

10 Years of Sunny Days (and Starry Nights)

Yesterday was a very special birthday, one that I'd looked forward to for many months. When the day dawned I was surprisingly relaxed about it, though. I gave myself a day out of time, followed no schedules or pre-arranged plans, and spent a lot of one-on-one time with first my son and then my husband. Rahul and I did some fun maths and chatted while I crocheted (my new hobby) and he played with his Hot Wheels. Vicky and I spent several hours watching episodes of Lone Wolf & Cub. As a celebration it was perfect -- relaxed and peaceful.

Ten years and a day ago I wrote this post, my first ever. I was 20 and had just applied to TISS (I did get through despite my misgivings) and was spending a few days with my father's friends at IIT Powai. I had appropriated my hosts' son's room and computer and read my first ever Don Camillo. I did go shopping that day and my wardrobe still houses a thin belt of brown and white leather flowers I bought then. Just thinking about that time makes me smile. It was a good time.

I returned to JU for my Masters instead of taking up that place at TISS and it's at this crucial point in my life that I began writing this blog. All that I have in my life today -- my family relationships, my marriage, my friends, my child -- would have necessarily been entirely different if I had chosen Bombay instead of Calcutta.

Perhaps, in some alternate universe, some other me is writing another version of Sunny Days describing her life from Bombay onwards. In this life though, you and I have been connected through my writing for a long time now and it's a great time to stop and say hello. Tell me who you are, what you like to do.

And wish my grown up blog a very happy birthday.