Catching up with an old friend

Chat with old friend who found me using Facebook Friend Finder ….

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Old Friend : OMG, so you are a hot shot author now.

Me : (Trying to be modest and underplayed) Yeah, I have a couple of books published

O F : Well, you always wanted to be a doctor

Me : Yeah, didn’t everyone else?  It was a done thing those days ….

O F : What?

Me : Adults would ask, “Beta badhe hokar kya banogey?” and we would chant, Doctor, IAS, IPS, Engineer. 

O F : You always said Doctor

Me : The idea of cutting people open must have sounded like fun to me

O F : So how come you’re not one?

Me : (Trying to wriggle out of admitting that I dropped out in the second month of med school) You wanted to be in IAS, and now you’re in marketing.

O F : Well, it pays better and does not get me posted out of Calcutta.  You can’t take a Bong out of Calcutta

Me : So how’s Didi?

Nice try … but he did not take the bait.

O F : (Still persisting) Never thought you’d be working in corporates and writing novels.

Me : (Uncomfortably)  Erm I work in one corporate only.

O F : And your marriage broke

Me : (Wishing I could strangle him through the computer screen) Yes

O F : You are Ritu Jain from Imphal and from Hindu College aren’t you?

Me : (Scowling) Was.  Now I am Ritu Lalit

O F : (I could sense the avid need to learn more gossip) You have changed so much!  How could you?  He was your big romance, how come?

Taking deep breaths, reminding myself that I once actually liked this bloke, and preaching myself tolerance…

Me : That was then, this is now.  You’re right.  I changed a lot.

O F : Like how?

Me : I got infected by Black Spider venom.  So I have this uncontrollable urge to kill or destroy old loves and old friends.  It is a problem but I am learning how to control it, and to live with it.  

O F : You’re not serious?

Me : Try me

Facebook, I owe you big time.  Haven’t had so much fun in ages 😛

Livin da vida loca

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7x7x7x7

This post is for the Write Tribe prompt 7x7x7x7 To write a post in 7 lines … for a novelist who writes a story in 80 thousand words, a challenge!

Grab the 7th book from your bookshelf.
Open it up to page 7.
Pinpoint the 7th sentence on the page.
Begin a poem/a piece of prose that begins with that sentence
Limit it in length to 7 lines/7 sentences…. I used the 7th word of the Dr. Suess poem I was reading which is YOUR.

You’re off to great places

Today’s your day

Your mountain is waiting

So … get on your way … Dr. Suess

 

Your lucky number is seven

Oh really, is it like that IndusInd Bank corny ad?

So … should I eat seven chapatis every day?

Or cook seven courses for dinner?

What does lucky mean any way?

Bad luck is also luck, so is normal or indifferent luck, isn’t it?

Ahh, forget it, got too much to do to  think this through.

Write Tribe Prompt

The Elusive One

Elusive One

The challenge stared at me in the face.

I scowled right back, inwardly intimidated, outwardly in my usual combative mode. I also cursed the person who flung that challenge at me. I am not the one to back down from a challenge. Rrrrrowwwl!

Nah I am not!

But then I am rather proud of my bad habits, I wear them like badges of honour, medals that I have won in my wars, rather like a boxer wears his scars and a soldier his medals.

But the High Priestess of Indiblogeshwaris, Vinita Bahl aka BlogwatiG had spoken.

Turn it or twist it the way you look at it. Take on a challenge. Adopt a good habit. Get rid of a bad one. Change something. Write one new chapter. Read a new book. Listen to a new song. Anything, almost anything singular that you’ve been putting off for too long. You have a month to do it. And then post about it on June 2, 2013 only.

I am bad with rules, ever badder with deadlines – so this is a day late.

First the task was to identify something I want to change …

Now came the big question, what was the elusive one I had to change

My older son spoke : Get rid of your “Main Bechari attitude.”

Of course he spoke it in a completely different context. Of course he did not mean me. Me? If this were ten years ago, I’d have boxed his ears for impertinence. But then I have only myself to blame, I put him into martial arts. And he is bigger, more agile, and kick boxes to pass time.

And the “Main bechari brigade”? I laugh at them, scoff at them, snap my fingers at their nose.

Am I not the person who says “Get rid of the concept that the world owes you. It owes you nothing, it was here first.” Eh?

“It’s crept into your way of thinking,” the second born said sagely nodding his head.

Ouch! That hurt!

So I started watching what I said, how I thought.

And sure enough, the elusive one surfaced when I saw paani pooris. I squashed it like a bug!

Me and my body have made a deal, I shall eat right, and it shall loose the flab and keep the sugar level down.

Wow! Look at my saintly halo!

Only to have it surface when that *&^%% flaunted her absolutely obscene diamond solitaire in my face. I stared at it and resolved never to even acknowledge her existence again, EVER! No ma’am, I will not. You are bad for my mental peace.

Besides I do not like diamonds.

Sniff!

It resurfaced again when I saw Deepika Padukone’s absolutely flat stomach, enlarged to a godawful number of pixels on the big screen! She never gave birth, did she? No wonder she has this absolutely unnaturally flat stomach, don’t you think?

If only … sigh!

Backtracked again. I am not giving in to self pity.

And then I read a chapter from Daphne Du Maurier’s Frenchman’s Creek. Taut, well written and absolutely engrossing.

This writer lived long before I was born!

She still lives – through time! She is immortal.

And I love her!

Will I ever be remembered like that?

Sob sob!

Main Bechari

Women Bond

I kept the title of the post Women Bond to get search engines, yes I did.

To celebrate the bond us women have with each other was secondary. Search engines, yes, they are all important 😛

Sorry but I am not going to add a photo of a Bond bombshell here .. this pic is a delightful one and more apt

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Traditionally men were hunters, women gatherers. Male bonding was absolutely essential for hunting , it threw the hunters into life and death kind of situations, and they had to form bonds, so that someone watched their backs as they went for the kill. Total drama, which required partnership, it also required men to kill or die for each other. The movie industry has made millions tapping into this basic need of men. Male bonding is celebrated, it is immortalized.

Females, as gatherers and the sex that gives birth to and raises children, also had a critical need to build cooperation and trust with other females. In the olden days, a pregnant woman or one with small kids was highly vulnerable, and weakness often resulted in death. Women bond did take place, but it was informal, bonding at the bathing ghat, washing clothes together at the river, while harvesting, while cooking.

Women sang songs, helped each other. Trust was needed, but it wasn’t as desperately dramatic like the men had it. The Women Bond was based on cooperation, reciprocal helping and sharing of day-to-day tasks – and child-minding, providing care and support around childbirth, during illness and at other ‘weak’ or defenceless times. Women bond is not the ‘I will risk my life for you’ rather it is the ‘I will care for you’.

And that is what we need. We are the nurturers, we are the care -givers. If we form a Woman Bond that gives us the assurance that we will be cared for, we are blessed. Somehow movies and television shows love showing the bitchy side of the female nature and not the way we care for each other.

Male bonding is formal, every corner of the world has Men Only games, Men Only clubs, associations. LOL, and they have such pompous fusses, coat tails essential, ties only etc etc. Women have no such fusses, we simply bond. We don’t need cricket, we don’t need fencing or martial arts clubs, we don’t need card games. We are there to share what comes to us naturally, care and love.

For the past one year, I have been a member of Indiblogeshwaris, a group of bloggers. I just have one regret, why did I not have a support system like this when I was young, going through grim times? I don’t remember who added me to this group, but it has truly enriched my life. I had to celebrate with my fellow members today, but could not go. This post is my tribute to all the intelligent, strong, wonderful women in the group ..

Ladies,

Years ago I was absolutely alone. The one who was supposedly my partner was out of my life. The people I trusted shared with me a bond of blood, but did not support me. Those people who I shared a blood bond with also sabotaged all the friendships I tried to make. I leaned heavily on my sons for companionship. Then they grew up. In an effort to set them free from the crippling burden of being a companion to a parent, I turned to blogging. And then I found you, my community of women.

We are so different. We come from different walks of life, we live in cities and towns all over the world. We have one main thing in common, we blog.

But scratch the surface, and you find so much in common …

We are opinionated, we have no hesitation speaking out our mind. We are quick to anger, we are equally quick to sarcasm. But we are quicker at letting what angered us go, to forgive and laugh it off. We are quick to lend encouragement, support someone in need. We are quick to give and take love from each other. The frankness, the honesty, the love and companionship is something I truly value.

Thank you my sisters, for being there for me.

I will never know loneliness again.

If music be the food of love

“If music be the food of love, play on,
Give me excess of it; that surfeiting,
The appetite may sicken, and so die.”
 William ShakespeareTwelfth Night

 

The old bard nailed it.  There was a time in life when I could hold a tune, passably well.  Well there was a time in life when I could stand on my head and my waist was 20 inches, but those times are long since gone.  So has love … when I do encounter that creature, I am tempted to get out my ancient dissection set and cut it open – just for the heck of it.

 

No wonder I can’t sing any more.

 

This coming from a woman whose name featured largely on the DU campus radio.  I had songs dedicated to me, yes sirreee!  I had SONGS dedicated to me.  John Denver’s Annie’s Song was dedicated to me by ex.

 

Kind of prophetic, considering his marriage to Annie Martel Denver was rocky and did not last.  The guy saw the future I tell ya.  And John Denver… well, wasn’t he who predicted that he’d be leaving on a jet plane?

 

So music to me meant, until now, listening to old country and classic rock on the drive to work and back home.  That hasn’t lasted.  Junior has a job in the same area as my work place.  That means that he travels with me  …. rather he drives, dumps me at my office, takes the car away and picks me up on the way back.  Yayy for mother and son bonding!  But the generation gap shows.  My choice of music is not his cup of tea, and his choice of music is my cup of poison.

 

Compromise has been achieved.  We listen to this new-fangled stuff called Podcasts.  Bill Mahr and other wonderful guys entertain us and educate us.  Over the month of so we’ve listened to why religion is totally redundant,  and how stupid the Boston bombers were and now the son has graduated to history lessons.   I know more of the history of Anabaptists and Ghenghis Khan than I ever did.  And guess what?  I don’t even have to write an exam on them!

 

But then music, I miss the music …

 

I listen to 9XM and stuff like that when I work out.  It never disappoints.  The beats are so much exercise and pump up the adrenaline kind of stuff.

 

Until now …

 

Now we have Babaji Ki Booti and another one called

 

Raat hai ik whore

Ye maange more

To lut ja slowly slowly

 

I am willing to experiment … ya think stretches can be done to these tunes?

Gratitude for my Blessings

I normally do an end of the year post, I am a huge fan of gratitude.  I like to count my blessings and drive others who like to see the glass half full nuts.  Its just my thing you know.

Unfortunately, my end-of-the-year was in the Cardiac Care Unit of Asian Hospital, enjoying the hospital’s hospitality – 😀

(I love that term. Have to use that in one of my books.)

Since I missed the chance to dance, party, count my achievements and rain on other’s parade – not that they aren’t doing well -, but they don’t see life just the same way … I’ll spare them.

1. All I will say is HILAWI is a best seller!

2. I have a brand new car! Squeeeeeeeee!

Thank you Godji for everything.

Now that I have done showing off, let me get serious.

A question that has always plagued me … why is it so hard to be happy?  Infants find it so easy.  Burp and laugh.  Poop and kick your podgy feet up in the air, just for the relief of it all and laugh.  See Mom and wave all limbs in the air for the sheer joy of seeing her!

Why do we lose it as we grow older?

One of the first lessons one learns is to hide your joy and achievements, dig a hole so deep and bury them.  Nazar lag jayegi.  The second one we learn is  – you’ll put people off if you talk about your achievements.  It’s showing off.

Is it?

Or is it just a way to thank the heavens for the blessings bestowed on you and taking joy in them?

I believe very strongly in the latter.  I would rather hide my pain and tears than show them.  I would dig a hole so deep in the ground and bury them so that they don’t affect me ever.  If that makes me a Polyanna so be it!  Tears make me headachy and I look a sight when I cry.  I’d rather not inflict that on me and the people around me.

It is my job to keep me happy, no one else’s.  It is my responsibility to keep me positive.  If I don’t do it, no one else will do it for me.

Being miserable, grumbling or harping over something that went wrong is such a downer.

So will put on my dancing shoes, sip my Diet Pepsi (since booze is off the menu for now) smoke an E Cigarette (no smoking either) and dance.

Thank you Godji for giving me life and the zest to enjoy it

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Outsider

Have you ever had the feeling of being an outsider?

I prefer not to write introspective posts, not on my blog at least. I save them for my register, where I write agonized speeches, heart rending verses or bitchy spiels. In long hand, no less. It makes it more personal and helps me vent!

Oh boy, can I be a bitch or what?

Rest assured I am not going to inflict them upon you guys. No, it’s not out of consideration for you, but for me. I need you people.

And I am a firm believer in the age old adage

Laugh and the world laughs with you, cry and you cry alone.

For the past few weeks, I have been living in “the winter of discontent” so to say. I feel like an outsider, so alone. It’s not a new feeling for me. I have always been the outsider. It started from my childhood, this feeling. As a kid, my father was posted in various far flung outreaches of the country. My first living memory has been of living in a Brahmin colony in Bangalore. Kids spoke Kannada, so did I. I tried my utmost to fit in. But then my skin gave me away. I wanted the nut brown skin of my fellow playmates, just to fit in.

Then we lived in Meghalaya, Nagaland, Guwahati, Manipur, … and I was the Punjabi kid in a foreign land. It possibly aggravated the feeling of being an outsider

When we came back for vacations or even when I joined Delhi Univ, I was the outsider. You see, in my urge to fit in, I had imbibed certain ways of thinking or attitudes that were foreign to the north Indians.

The image I have of myself is that of a person peeping in through the window at close knit groups of people sitting and talking.

alien

This feeling really intensifies when I attend family functions where there are cliques. I kid you not, there really are cliques of people who grew up together while I did my own thing in the far flung outreaches of India.

Mostly it does not bother me. Living away imparted a certain individuality to my psyche which has served me fine. I am in tune with my own self, since I was the only constant factor in my life. But then, just sometimes, I do get this urge to belong … not be an outsider.

What triggered this, I haven’t a clue. Why I am inflicting this upon you, my dear reader, I haven’t a clue either.

Perhaps I am just feeling lonely.

I think I just need to go pick a fight, just to feel better.

A related post you may enjoy

My bete noir, the sari

November – December in my mind is equated with the sari. So many big fat Indian weddings to attend – that too in the native dress. I always wonder why one has to have weddings in winters – that too in Dilli Ki Sardi? The area between the blouse and the sari is bare and freezes. Moreover all weddings are in farm houses and one stands in flimsy heels on dew damp grass and the cold just seeps in. You want to go pee and the walk to the loo away from whichever heater or angeethi that you have cornered a space near has to be relinquished.

Yeah you got that right – I would rather not wear a sari. And my niece is getting married on Sunday 😦 Le Sigh ….

My bete noir with the sari is old and long standing. We can’t live with each other and we cant live without each other. To add injury to insult, apparently (judging by the compliments I regularly get when I wear one) we look great together.

It all started on the school farewell we were hosting for our seniors. We girls decided we would wear a sari. It did not work well. In the middle of the party, someone stepped on it and it fell. None of us girls knew how to re-drape the damn thing. So I made the best of it. I stuffed the sari into my school bag and partied in a choli and petticoat. Oh I wore somebody’s dupatta which matched the petticoat. the ultimate jugaad, the attire looked like a lehenga choli, I don’t care what Ma said later when I landed up home in the evening, it looked very chic.

The next time I wore a sari was when I got married (my third wedding). The first was the court thingy the second an elopement, both of which happened in jeans and tees. Nah the elopement thingy happened in a churidaar kameez.

Well the third was with parental blessing, and the parlour waali did solid jugaad – I had told her about the school leaving fiasco. She simply stitched the sari to the petticoat to ensure that I did not have a wardrobe malfunction. Then she stitched a jooda to my boy cut hair. Man! Did I have to work hard to get undressed later!

Over the years I have learnt how to wear the sari, I manage to carry it with panache too. But I still have a fear that the dratted thing will fall off in public.

My niece … actually she is ex’s niece but we are friendly sent me this pic from my youthful days. I think I look good – but would have looked better in jeans …

High School : The Soumya Chapter

I grew up in an extended family, with one biological brother and 9 male cousins.  So naturally I grew up a tomboy, but as puberty hit me and I sprouted breasts, my cousins dumped me.  No one would play with me, since I had boobs.  I hated my brothers and hated the boobs.  That lasted about two days.  I cant stay mad forever …

But they did not relent and so I retaliated by not speaking to them ever!  That lasted a while.  Quite a long while because they would spot me doing something which to their testosterone charged brain looked unladylike and would bossily order me to behave like a lady.  And play with girls.  Yuch!  I thought girls were catty and rude.  And rightly so.  They gave me the cold shoulder, and boys … well I ask you which Asian girl with 10 brothers, (cousin and real) in the same school has boys as friends?

So I became a shy bookworm, a loner, friendless.  That in high school is very rough.  We are all geared for “fitting in” and being a part of the hip and happening group of friends.  Parents did not get it.  They thought I went to school for education and not for company.

And then Soumya entered my life.  And made it living hell.  He was tall, witty and had more friends than people should.  Talk about excess!  Even the gate keeper and the peon and the cleaning crew were his “good” friends for crying out loud!  I was decidedly nowhere near his social status.  I was a swot, Hermione without Harry and Ron to humanize her.  And I loved hurting male egos with my over-achieving scholastic ways.  The girls hated me, a feeling I heartily reciprocated.  I had too many brothers in the same damn school for any boy to even consider being friendly with me.

Soumya was a kid everyone loved.  I like to think he had ADD.  He couldn’t sit still and drove all the teachers nuts with his constant wise-cracking and fidgeting.  So they did what any good teacher would do. They sat him beside me, the class swot, in hopes my goody two shoes behavior would rub off on him.

It didn’t.

He took every opportunity to make fun of me.  I was skinny, other girls were far more busty.  So he declared I was as flat as a board and started calling me  “Four-by-Four”.  The damn nickname stuck.There were a couple of girls in my class who were completely smitten by Soumya and would gang up with him.

I just re-read what I have written.  It makes me appear wishy washy.  That isn’t true.  I was no saint or a silent suffering martyr.  I would snitch on him.  I would bad mouth the Soumya gang.  And I was the teacher’s pet and that helped in my revenge schemes.  If he had not done his homework, I would tell on him.  If the others in his gang got something wrong, I would laugh openly.  I single handedly got the entire gang branded as trouble makers.

But some part of me longed to be a part of it.  They seemed to have the most fun!

How I hated him. I would see him and cringe and pray every day he would fall ill to some mysterious disease, drop dead even.  I wanted to tell my older brothers to bash him up so that he stopped tormenting me.  But that meant swallowing my pride and asking for help.  That was a tough pill to swallow, so I endured the teasing.

I also endured it because sometimes,  when no one else was around, he was completely different. He was sweet to me and thoughtful and almost apologetic for his incessant public torture. It made him almost likeable. Almost.

For two years in high school, I was stuck with this boy, the boy who made me the laughing stock of our class on more times than I could ever keep count. Then thankfully, his father got transferred to another town.  On his last day in school he walked up to me and said “Hi”.  I just nodded, holding my breath wondering what verbal parting shot he would fire.  I cringed and reminded myself that this was the last class in which I would have to see him or hear his nasty voice.  Man, was I glad to be rid of Soumya, who would tell the class in a loud voice “Ritu does not wear a bra, she is so skinny” or “Ritu’s tiffin spilt on her skirt hahahha.  See there are turmeric and grease stains on her uniform,” and tell other girls in my class “No one wants Ritu as his girl friend.  She has no boobs”, within my earshot. I waited knowing that this was the end of the Soumya chapter.

It was the last class that day.  Soumya was leaving.  There were girls giving him gifts and sobbing.  It set my teeth on edge.  Then he came and sat down next to me.  I cringed, wondering what diabolic prank he was going to pull as a parting shot.  But he blushed and said, “Ritu, I just want to apologize to you for all the teasing I did to you in school,” His voice started in a deep masculine voice that cracked slightly, in the middle.

I just grunted and shrugged, and buried my nose in my copy.

“I want you to know, I really like you. I’ve enjoyed sitting next to you for the last two years. I wish we were better friends.” I looked at him like he had just grown horns on his head and sat there tongue-tied. “I only teased you because I had a crush on you.”

Then he got up and whispered to me, with a smile, “I teased you to get your attention.You are too clever and would not have noticed me.” Then he turned around, headed towards the school compound and out of my life.

At the time I was seriously annoyed. I could have thought of a dozen different ways he could have shown his affection for me, none of them which included drawing a plywood piece on the blackboard and naming it Ritu, snooping into my school satchel, grabbing my shirt collar and peering down my back to check whether I was wearing a bra or not.

But I’ve grown older and wiser and I look back on the memory of that smiley curly haired boy who loved his Batman and Archie comics and I see what I was blinded to in the midst of my youth.

Soumya  loved me. He was just a jackass about it.

As for me, life started improving after he left.  I had the desk to myself without having to be careful about it slamming down on my fingers.  Even tiffin would not spill so often which makes me suspect foul play.  I started filling out.  One thing remained the same – I never got along with the girls in my class.  Actually two things – I never got included in my family team of all boys.  These two changes happened in college where I met lovely chilled-out women who I am still friends with, and my cousins started behaving less like chowkidars and more like pals ……. possibly because they wanted to date my female friends.

 

GBE prompt WEEK #55 (6-3-12 to 6-9-12): High School

Self

The topic made me recoil and giggle with embarassment

Self?

It reminded me of an uncomfortable morning in my meditation class when I was battling depression, rejection from my birth family and hostile disapproval from my soon to be divorced marital one.

The guru was a lady who had a calm and happy expression on her face as she played with her long hair and she said, “Get to know the person you are.”

Who was I?  The child who had once been the recipient of approval from her mother for excellence in academics.

Well the same mother felt shamed by the fact that the same daughter had thrown her husband out of her marital home.

The father had stood by and tried to pacify the warring women in his life.  His wife who was so worried about image and society and the other his daughter who did not care.  She just wanted to wash her hands off the failing marriage.

You are a mother, they said.  You need to stay in the marriage to give your children a stable home.

Stable home?  Where we fought bitterly every minute we were together?

Was I a good mother?  Was I “the self” a mother?

Who was I?

The tomboy who played with strays and brought them home … a animal lover?

I had not been allowed to even keep a goldfish in my marital home.

Who was I?

The child who loved to play boyish games?

Or the mother who taught her two sons to play them?

Get to know your self, the woman said …

I got up and shrugged mutinously.  I even wanted to punch the serenity off her face.  I wanted to rake my nails on those smooth cheeks, draw blood even

I got up and walked out of class.  Then I walked on the roads for a couple of hours thinking

Who am I?

And then it struck me, just when I was sweaty grimy and tired …

The past is immaterial, its gone, dead.

The present is a thorny chair, uncomfortable to sit on.

But the future is there … time enough to build the self I want myself to be.

The next day I was back in class with a firm resolve

I told her : I think you got it all wrong.  I am a plain sheet of paper.  On this paper I will chose to write the words I want to.  To paint the picture I want to.  I do not want to remember the self I was.  I will from today build the self I want me to be.

She smiled. And then she simply said, “Don’t forget to take your older self with you, she will feel lonely and hurt if you reject her.  Love her, she is a part of the newer you.”
This is in response to WEEK #54 (5-27-12 to 6-2-12): Self at BGE2