There’s something very special about attending a friend’s engagement. You feel a great sense of surprise that everyone is growing “big”, apprehension that the impending wedding may take your friend far away, and excitement about dressing up and digging into awesome food. And then, if you also get to explore Hyderabad – the city of Nizams – it’s a priceless combination!
The air was thick even in the late evening; the city seemed oblivious to the fact that much of India was in the midst of monsoon. It ceased to matter eventually, when the crescent moon and strands of azaan from a nearby mosque filled my hotel room. We discussed (in great detail) mehandi, clothes and jewellery and I fretted over how the elaborate outfits would restrict my love affair with Hyderabad biryani, kababs and chicken curries.
On my last night in the city, as I sat amidst the lights in the winding, busy lanes, I was visited by a potful of thoughts. How happy my friend looked, what I was doing the evening before my own engagement, the Karachi Bakery goodies I had tucked into my bag, and how the night would be even more beautiful if only it was cooler.
The clouds hid the moon just then and rain came down in big, refreshing drops. I sat gazing at the Hyderabad sky for several minutes. It was perfect.
I don’t think the biggest roadblock between us and happiness is stress. Or emotional turmoil. Or even too much work. I think it is simpler and more dangerous than that.
I met a man the other day who started a conversation on this note: “Today is a big day for me. I have crossed 5000 friends on Facebook. Isn’t that cool?” Super cool, I nodded. I felt like setting him a memory test that would need names to be matched to faces. But I refrained. I knew he would fail.
Have our standards of achievement really fallen so much? How is it a success if you have tons of friends and nobody to turn to when you are un-glamorous and poor?
Every now and then, I am quizzed about being quiet. Whether everything is fine with me and exactly why I don’t “mess” or “mix” around more. I don’t see how it is right to expect everyone to be boisterous, breathing down everyone else’s neck and generally having a “blasting good time” all the time. If I like being silent or doing my own thing, why is it so hard to expect that as my personal choice?
The only explanation I see is this – some people are so insecure that they see introversion as arrogance or a judgment on their abilities to “socialize”. This constant insecurity, harping about achievements and narrating glorifying or mock-comic tales to entertain – it stresses out the perpetrator more than they know!
Several people today wear their hearts on their sleeve – or on their social media timelines – and hang around in fun groups during the office lunch hour (and every other hour!). They go around moping about how they had fewer likes on their profile picture than the “bestie” and how the weather has been more depressing than usual. In reality, the sun shone and the winds blew and they could have seen all this from the window had they only been quiet for a second or two.
Sigh! The biggest enemy of our happiness is simply Too Much Noise.
It was a slow Tuesday at work and Chhaya had one of her familiar headaches. Her headaches had really worsened over time and the best part of the day was right before bedtime, when her husband gave her a head massage. Sitting at her desk and staring blankly at her screen, that was what she wanted now.
She glanced at her phone and spotted her Mom sitting inside, smiling at her from the wallpaper. Chhaya wished she knew how to turn it to an animated GIF, like those wizarding pictures in Harry Potter. That way, she could feign a “Hello, how are you Mom?” every now and then and Mom would actually move her lips in answer!
*If I have accidentally quoted you, send me a card.
*Picture from flatonmyback.com
Auto Wallah to an office-goer: You will need to pay me 80 bucks extra as I don’t personally like that area. (Girl starts to walk away frowning) Okay Madam, sit. It was worth a try!
Middle-aged woman to a shopkeeper: Bhaiya, you really need to give a chocolate free now that I have bought so much from you. My old nerves need a sugar rush. (She had bought a packet of Britannia biscuits)
The internet is really the biggest human museum of our times. It allows you deep insight into the functioning of the human brain (and a bundle of giggles while you’re at it). As I randomly sat analyzing the kind of search terms that have led people here, I came across a few which deserve wider discussion and acclaim:
I write a poem about food paneer: Oh, you do? Why, that’s what I spend all my weekends doing! Here’s one dedicated especially to you lest you come scouting for odes to paneer again:
Dear paneer, why are you at a boil?
Is it because we fried you in hot oil?
But when we bake you, if you recall –
you are usually not pleased at all!
I suggest you put on a smile, there!
After all, you must have your share –
of worldly rules, of water and fire,
you can’t always have what you desire!
*Picture from thegastronomicbong.com
I have been sitting at my desk in office utterly perturbed. It is a Wednesday that isn’t a mid-week (which other country still has working Saturdays?!) and there has been a lot of work through the day. But this is not why I have been perturbed.
The truth is, I have been facing severe withdrawal symptoms. It has been a whole four days since I had chicken and my self-control is fraying even as I blink! Back in Delhi, Mom and Grandpa knew about my condition and always ensured I got my dose. After all, it was an infinitely better prospect than being around a listless, disinterested individual who lacks concentration and drive. But here in Pune, I have difficulty in finding a supplier near my place. I need to walk down quite a bit or worse, hire an auto-rickshaw (please see this to know why this is doomsday!). R often tries to help me out but his late working hours interfere with our best laid plans.
The clock struck midnight. There was victory in his eyes. On the bed were remnants of his night’s hunt – the Scrabble letters I scattered after he had defeated me yet again! The man who can beat me at Scrabble is a man I respect.
On weekday nights, R and I whip up (not so) simple dinners so we are all sorted for making our way through the bedside books. They have been taking longer to get through, I have noticed. I swear this is because of how beautiful Pune night rain looks from our bedroom window. Golden, quiet and melodious! It looks different over the weekend though – more intrusive than beautiful, more irritating than romantic. We still trudge out, braving the mighty raindrops and squealing over the puddles.
I love sitting by the window when it rains, dilly dallying over my bowl of soup or cup of coffee. I strain my nose to catch a whiff of wet earth and stretch my ears to listen to the distant song of the birds in their nests. It is then that I spot the woman in my window, quietly boring her eyes into me as if she can look right through me and to the other side.