Lazy Weekends are Hard Work

Morning coffee

It is a quiet Saturday morning. On my table are a fragrant cup of coffee and my favourite cookie. On my laptop is the wallpaper of a far-off land, somewhere with woods and lakes and song-birds, far away from the heat and grime I can sense is building up outside. Since it is a weekend morning, the housing society seems fairly quiet; utensils aren’t clanking in kitchens, and cars aren’t speeding off to offices and colleges.

At this time of the weekend, I feel lovely. The day stretches out lazily in front, full of potential. Yes, there are to-do lists to get through. (Thanks to my obsessive tendencies, these lists are often extremely detailed and super long.) But surely we don’t need to get on with them yet. I can soak in the quiet of the morning for a little longer as the day wakes up properly… Continue reading

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Karma, Please Wake Up

Karma cartoonHis children grew up terrified of him. He expected them to be eager little readers who understood and appreciated Kafka in primary school. Which six-year-old likes to play with mud and cement anyway, or worse—dolls?! His wife remained traumatised for as long as she lived; it seemed she could never learn to cook or do chores as “they should be done”. Today, he lives with a couple of servants in a big house—inherited, we hear—and has successfully and healthily outlived half a dozen family members. Worse: the 65-year-old man doesn’t look a day older than 45. Continue reading

Jailed

All around me, so many people seem to be jailed outside conventional prisons. Indeed, in some ways, I am too.

I see colleagues open their tiffin boxes at lunchtime and whine about the chickpea-salad and spinach rolls they “HAVE” to eat. It is essential, they claim, to eat skinny food to lose weight, even though it makes them feel suffocated.

I watch as people suck up to their bosses, laughing at unfunny jokes, and staying back in the office after everyone has left to build a painstaking semblance of perseverance and dedication. It is a jail that they claim leads to better appraisals; well-versed with the work culture in many Indian organisations, I cannot even argue against this. Continue reading

I Don’t Know Where They Have Gone

Swing on the porch

“It has become really hot in Delhi. Perhaps, he likes to stay inside the house.”

“The weather never bothered him before.”

“Have you looked carefully in the park when you go for your evening walk?”

“He isn’t there. He isn’t in the bank, the market or the post office either.”

I didn’t know what to say, so I didn’t say anything. My grandfather went on: “He has disappeared, just like everyone else. Only I remain.” Continue reading

Hair, Let Me Jump to Conclusions

Schonbrunn Palace Vienna

Sometime last year, I decided to chop off my hair. Not completely, but I started wearing it much shorter. It was summer in Pune, and this once mild Maharashtrian city now experiences crazy heat (it is already upwards of 41 degrees even though it is only the first week of April). I figured a shorter hairstyle would be easier to manage in the heat, quicker to style, and would also give me a new look. Nothing like a change in hairstyle to get an instant makeover, you know? Plus, if I wanted to sport shorter hair, surely I could, considering it was MY hair. I wasn’t hurting anyone, not even my hair follicles.

Turns out, a LOT of people are very interested in the length of hair a woman decides to keep. Continue reading

Glaring at People

“She cannot participate in the drawing competition,” the woman in charge declared. “It is the rule.”

“It is the rule that my granddaughter cannot participate in your competition?”

The woman scoffed. “No, dada, the age group is 5–8 years. Your granddaughter is much older. Many parents have complained.”

“Oh,” said my grandfather. “In that case, you wasted my time. You should have declared in advance that tall kids are not allowed, even if they are well within the age range.”

He had said that out rather loudly, and some of the people gathered nearby glared. They looked at me up and down as I held on to my grandfather’s hand, clutching my drawing board and colour-box that I wouldn’t get to use that morning. She must be well past the age-range, they surmised. Look at her grown-up body language. Look at her clothes. Continue reading

Fire In My Plate

Red chillies

“There is something wrong with this chicken curry,” declared my brother-in-law.

I glanced up from my plate with some difficulty. My ears, you see, were burning. And I am pretty sure there was smoke emerging from my nose.

“Huh?”

“I said there’s something wrong. It doesn’t taste quite right.”

R and I were at his parents’, and my brother-in-law, who is utterly fond of cooking, had prepared a delicious chicken curry for us. He had paired it with fluffy rice. The curry tasted amazing, and I, tired out after the long drive from the airport, ate large mouthfuls before the problem became apparent. At R’s place, they always serve us food on the same plate: a gesture thought to promote love. I gave R a sideways glance; he was gulping down glass after glass of chilled water.

“I have got it!” my brother-in-law clapped his hands in a Eureka moment.

“What is it?” I asked weakly. Continue reading

Evil Eye: How to Protect Yourself

Disclaimer: This post is not intended to offend anyone’s faiths or rituals. The belief in the evil eye is a subjective choice, and the “tips” to ward it off are intended purely in jest.

Evil eye

It is almost laughingly easy to “catch” the evil eye. Babies can catch it as soon as they emerge from the hospital which makes the kajal necessary even if the paediatrician advises against it. Pregnant women can pick it up any time, especially once their bump becomes evident, which is why they must remain confined to the house and avoid contact with the outside world. Vehicles can get affected unless you put up lemons and chillies in the front or some of those fancy, new-age gadgets imported from China. Heck, even homes—never mind how sturdily built with earthquake protection—can catch the evil eye, necessitating pujas and havans with generous dakshina to the priests conducting them.

So, how can you protect yourself from the evil eye? Here are the suggestions I have received over time and seen in action in my immediate and extended community. Feel free to try them out—at your own risk. Continue reading

Dealing With Loss

Beautiful evening

It has been five years since I lost my mother to breast cancer. I have never accepted this publicly on this blog, keeping her alive in imagined conversations and shared moments that will never again be. But she doesn’t linger anywhere—not in her bedroom back in Delhi, not in the photo albums of my birthdays, not in her old clothes that I have clung on to and insist on wearing now and then. She lingers only in my memories, in a big room in my heart that she owns for the rest of my life. And while I will never let go of her, I have come to realise over time: it is essential to deal with loss. Continue reading

Cat Logic – 5 Life Lessons I’ve Learnt from My Kitties

Outdoor cats

I have always had cats around at home. When I was a baby, the two house-cats would sit by my crib and watch me sleep. Mom tells me, “They would look at you as if you were the strangest thing they had ever seen, but also the most enchanting.”

Over the years, I have played with kitties, fed them, petted them, and mourned their passing when the inevitable came. I find that the company of a cat brings an unparalleled sense of comfort—there is something indescribably reassuring about a purring cat on your lap, his eyes heavy with sleep, oblivious to the stillness of the day.

Do you own a cat? Let me share five life lessons my cats have taught me over time. If I occasionally flounder at any, they loudly mew their disapproval and proceed to explain things all over again.

1. It is perfectly okay to ask for love. In fact, it is essential.

When someone is busy, try purring and gently touching their arms or legs. When someone is too busy, go and sit on top of their head or in their lap, hiding the obnoxious laptop, mobile phone or book they are reading. You deserve to be fondled, patted, cherished…loved. Continue reading