Thursday, February 28, 2013

Batman and P.

Of the many new friends and company Ive been in Kenya, ( four legged and two, 12 inches to 6 feet in height, from chirp language to Aramhic,Korean and German)... two of them worry me, and amaze me.

P is a Special child. He is a lovely person, and a wonderful kid. Just that I am not very fond or comfortable with below 15 age group. Added to that, I cannot pretend to understand his situation. I find his condition is un-predicatble, and at the risk of sounding horrible, I am scared. I never know what will trigger of an angry fit, or a hissy sob fit. I never know what will make him happy. Worse, there is no trend to the physical translation of his anger/ joy/ irritation or whatever.
I really love him, though. He is as good as any other kid when he is happy.

Batman is this little female puppy. Born in some garbage dump, and weaned on backyard kitchen waste.
She is a darling, and wags not for a free bite, but for the sake of a little conversation, and a sniff...if not a lick.Batman was named thus by the local kids, who have an extremely high cool quotient.

Evertime I visit that neighborhood, Batman , finds me first, and dogs me, literally. When I make my way over to P, my stomach knots and my hands sweat. Like I said, I find P very unpredictable. And Batman is very little. I feel scared, for so many reasons.

Its amazing, though, how happy P is with Batman. How he whimpers, and touches her nonstop. He seems almost needy for animal touch. Which is a great thing.He seems calm, and happy, and safe in Batman's company. And Batman, seems happy to be able to nurture and give to P the attention he wants. In her own little puppy way.

What is greater, that Batman seems to sense both Ps neediness, and my fear. She moves not an inch away from P, but tells me with a look and a nose-nudge every 30 seconds, that she is ok, and I dont need to fear.
So P needs Batman, in a way no one else will comprehend or understand. Its his own private little therapy.
And through P, I become needy, too. For Batman to be safe.

And the only reason I truely love that snotty P, is becasue he is gentle to Batman. And that Batman feels good taking care of P.


Tuesday, January 15, 2013


It is no secret, nor news....that I am massively massively insomniac. Alwyas have been. My parents had sleepless nights, as I would scream my head off the minute I'd be plonked into my baby cot, or I would roller skate and ride my bicycle all around our tiny appartment of those times ( this required Dad's supervision. All through the night). My mother always scolded me because I apparenntly never cired, I just screamed myself blue.

I think this story was told to me, over and over again, to communicate that my insomnia is accepted. And no-one is going to do anything about it.

All through school, I would stay up as late as I could, to read. I would read under the blanket, after "lights out". We had phenomenal times in college, staying up all night, drinking innumerable mugs of coffee and tea, and the usual dorm stuff. We were night owls and bats, and we would drowse only in the wee hours of the morning.

Hick place that I lived in, and hick folks Id hang out with, it was many years later, that I learnt that insomnia is a disease, that is calls for treatment, that only the the psychologically disturbed  and the incurably depressed "suffer" this sydrome.

I guess I suffer,too, a bit. For I absolutely ad undeniably LOVE my insomnia.At least, on most nights.
More than the willowy quality of light, sound and feelings that I find , the nights are precious to me for the simple reason, they are an illegel extension of time, its like ive been given a few extra hours gratis.
This is when i read, think, do laundry, play with the cat/dog ( of course they are insomniac,too!!), read all that I couldnt during the day, and read some more. It is when I do most of my thinking work, my office work, my decision making.... And I dont suffer anything except lack of time for things I need to do!
This insomnia here, is what   triggered this off.
The night, is the only time when I feel someone like else, apart from the "We are, to a large extent, our own jail keepers".

Sunday, January 6, 2013

On Being Happy.

The past few years have been not too great, for many reasons, and for reasons which kept fading and appearing in different forms. I was trying so hard to be at peace, to be OK, and to find happiness in being, instead of finding momentary bliss in escapism.

Nairobi, Kenya.... was something that happened to me like all the other good things happened that ever happened to me. Disorganized, a shade impulsive, not very thought out, and with no plan in my mind at all. I know now, that I am never moving like this ever again, but the whole process was a great experience to learn from.
Example: I now know that Im no longer the college kid who could move with a duffel and carton and yet leave nothing behind.

Here in Kenya, so many things in my life are not in place yet. My papers, my furniture, my finances...etc etc. What makes it worse is getting the OF over and in, too! or maybe not. However,

a) OF is happy here,too. I had never thought how much unhappy and sad he was. His life,in terms of money, friends and gadgets and travel always looked to content and full to me. I never realized that he was an old fool, and was going through such unhappiness. I also never gave a thought to the fact, that he would have apprehensions and fears and whatnots about working and living in a country that wasnt his, with people whom he isnt used to. We talked, shared....figured out and solved nothing, but we talked. OF is a silly boy! And I am so glad we got to discover and confess to each other how silly we are! (Amidst MANY MANY fights and tantrums)

b) Friends : After school, and college/hostel...I never really made any good friends! I just couldnt share, accept and participate in what the folks around me was doing! And I found it much much easier to be by myslef, read, cycle, travel and read more...all by myself! (No really, all that the folks did in India was to drink, celebrate their sad attempts at cooking fancy food, talk pretentiously of visa tickets, or Rumi, or some such shit! And then investment, which car-you-bought, where-i-just-bought-some-more-land/flat-again!!).

I actually enjoy meeting new people here in Nairobi. The work they do, they places they come from, the stories they have to tell. We dont exchange recipes and organize barbecue dinners. Instead, we go hiking, trekking...we walk and swim...  we improvise, we paint furniture for each other, we try mixing drinks, i take them vegetable shopping, they take me to see beads and jewellery making..... I am doing things I have never done before! I was asked to babysit,too! I like having a friend down the street. I enjoy being asked once in while..."whatsup girl, hope everything is calm at your end!" . It is simple! I like that there is a guy in my block who says," In case you dont habve anything in the fridge,im trying to cook today!" I like the girl who mails in to say, "I've just discovered some more Kenya on the other side of the road, you HAVE to come!"
 And I absolutely LOVE having Heather and Sarah in my life! I would have given up so long ago, if Heather wasnt there!

c)Books: I think I need to write a whole separate blog post on this.... but I HAVE to write about this!

d) Fresh Air and Trees and Pavements : Seriously, these are essential elements in a city.

e) News: It was getting to me in India. The content ( more murder, rape, robbery, scam, Indian politicians..and Cricket!!) The Journalism... BAD!! Going worse!!! News and journalism here in kenya is so much better, more evolved and oooh... I like it. it makes me think, research, ask questions..and I learn much more. I like news!!

I think I am just saying , that I am happy! :P

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Summer Christmas.

I have never thought that Christmas could be Summery. It has never occurred to my imagination. Which is why, I am now so overwhelmed. I am used to changes of season that occur with clockwork like precision. I plan winter clothes, summer fun, monsoon travels and Delhi Autumn Concert seasons.

Chrsitmas in summer is something im not being able to get used to!! Folks here are wearing shorts and Santa hats! And are singing/playing "Silver bells", "White Christmas"..."Dashing through the snow...." while wearing shades and denim shorts!

Not to mention, drinking beer and mojitos and such things while eating Roast Turkey!
( I have never seen Roast Turkey like its being done by the whites and expats here).

Ever heard of a Poolside Christmas Party!! And the Christmas lights...which are of no use till 8PM, because it doesnt get dark till then!!

This is CRAZY!!!

Friday, December 7, 2012

Russell and Joy.

Russell and Joy leave for China today. And that makes me feel very sad.

Strange, as I normally dont get attached to folks to easily, not since school and college. Also, I've been moving so much, I have never really gotten too attached to anyone, so as to be missing them. But then, I have been the one to move. I have never witnessed someone moving away from me, and that is too painful, and too difficult, I realized.

Russell and Joy were my first friends in Kenya. They were new-ish to Nairobi when I met them.
Joy and I would have never been friends if I were still in my India head orientation.But I think I got too attached to Joy (mad child that she was!!) And Russel would teach me so many new things!! Always!!


Thursday, December 6, 2012

Blanket Times.

The new work schedule is crazy. I leave the house at 6 15 am, post shower, email check, coffee..I even manage to kohl my eyes. ( all of which means I wake up at 4 30).
I get home at 9 pm. To just about climb into bed, and read,take of my clothes, get into my pajamas, and remote-control-press-play music for about 30 minutes,(all from under the huge fat blanket) before I start stressing that Ill over sleep the next morning, or that I actually have to get out of bed and work some more.

Thats not so bad, though.

I dont get to read, ( I havent read a page of a week all this week), I dont get to walk or run, (walking to the bus stop with my backpack ,which is the size of a  three-week-tour-of-Europe does NOT qualify).I dont get to sit at my reading corner, or the sofa. I dont get to do dishes and laundry.

But thats,still ok.

I dont get to talk to family, or plan anything with friends. Im tired of being enthusiastic, and then calling to cancel as im either too tired, or stuck in traffic, or am still at work. I dont get to do a lot of things.

Thats fine,too.

What breaks my heart is leaving Billy Joe at home. The Boka furball is all of two months old, and still needs company, and some one to appreciate his many feats of playing with a ball of paper, or a string, or jumping from the bed to the chair, or the desk to the window sill and so on so forth. Ive got his feed cycle and meals sorted, and I know I have to get him trained to stay at home during the day all alone. And all the while on my way home, I only worry about Billy Joe being hungry, or cranky, or restless. And I feel bad and guilty, instead of hungry and tired. 
I feel awful.

Which is why, I get right under the blanket as soon as I get home. Billy spends all day locked in the bedroom, so Im sure he would enjoy exploring wires, sharpening his claws, or hanging from the curtains in the other parts of the house, on different furniture and surfaces. But no, he spends half an hour being mad on the bed. He pounces, chases his own tail, attacks my hair, charges at my finger rings, does his guerilla warfare routine through  the pillows and my discarded sweater. He sits on my back as I roll over to read, curls up somewehre on me, and seems to be bursting with news of everything that has transpired through the day. He trips over his own feet, hunts my toes in the blanket, and pounces on different parts of the blanket for God knows what purpose.

Billy Joe kind of needs this 30 minutes of time and attention. He doesnt make demands for dinner, or  expressions of irritation, or of restlessness.
He just needs to let me know that he missed someone to play with during the day. Or to show off how far he has learnt to jump.

Dinner follows. Then I work some more. Then I plan some more. Then I think some more.
But the 30 minutes of blanket-time is the best part of the day.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Aunt Flo and the White Guy.

Guys sometime forget I'm a girl.
Im ok talking football, and not caring about how beer can be fattening. But I'm not OK talking girlfriend issues.

But I made an excpetion. My Swimming partner ( we have swum about four times, but thats all there is to us)... talks about making movies, catching a bus, and his girlfriend...all in the same tone.

He had cancelled a swimming date, with no reason stated,or asked.
when we met up next time, he kind of talked about it.

He said, very apologetically, that his girlfriend was visited byAunt Flo, and he stayed at home.
I kept a straight face, and said nothing.

He went on to say , that he knows nothing about a pattern of constipation, bloated tummies, or throwing up, but he just knows that hormones DO go to the head.
He has figured out, that just being there, to listen to which part of the stomach is paining, or to threats that she might fart...just makes things easier.
He has no idea what those farts are like, they are just too ladylike! And he completely doesn't get what is bloated...apparently she looks more bloated after a good meal.
As for the hormones, he says they act up in various cases all through the month...housework, errands,the music he chooses to play, the vegetables and groceries she he doesn't quite get that either.

What he does know, is that he just needs to be in the house. And listen to her rants, or her silence. It works for him, as he can catch on up work, or emails, or some housework. He treats her like she might have the flu or something...offer to make soup, and not expect her to "Do" anything as such.... and thats ok.

All this while, I kept a straight face.

Then he said."It's like when we were kids, and we didnt want to go to school... we would pretend to be sick. And if we were really really sick.... we would just love the way we would be allowed to eat in bed, watch TV till late. I figure that all girls just like to be given that "sick child treatment" every once in while."

I rolled my eyes. And didnt know what to say. These firang men!!

Chocolate Soup.

I can't cook. Still.

I try though. And the results are worse each time. However, the scale of disaster has been much brought under control.

This weekend I tried to make chocolate pudding. Just the normal milk-egg-rum-chocolate- flour etc sorts. In a Microwave. Needless to say, I messed up. And I got a whole lot of Chocolate Soup instead.
I would be bull**itting you if I said I "knew" how to make choc. pudding, or that I've made it many times before, or that I was sure of the pudding being the perfect pudding. I've made this once in my life, with milk-eggs-choc-whiskey.... and on the hob. So no, there was no way of knowing, no expectation, nor hope really.

The thing is, I was undaunted. I thought Chocolate Pudding Soup was a perfectly OK thing to drink with a spoon, and the taste was yummy, even though the form was strange.

I gave some to Heather. Heather, being her, batted not an eyelid when I presented to her thus, and she asked.... "Not soup". "No." "Oh ok, thanks....". And later...."It wasn't too had something funky in it, i couldn't guess what." "Maybe Vanilla.". "Fancy."
Note: H and I talk of the most ridiculous things as if they are as normal as buying bread and milk. Hence, we talk only in full stops. Nothing surprising, no exclamation marks while we talk.

OF obligingly tried some that evening. but no more. The next day there was still half a bowl left. After dinner, OF took out a whole bar of chocolate, but ignored the half-a-big-bowl of the Soup. A little peeved, and a little hurt...I plonked myself-with-soup-bowl next to him, and asked... "You dont want?"  Head shake, negative. "Sure?". Head nod,positive. "You didn't like?" , with that Tone in my voice.

OF: "Its ok, just that I don't quite how to drink a pudding from a mug."
Me :" But it tastes fine, it just seems odd to be drinking chocolate pudding,or eating cold choc soup!"
OF:  With the * exactly what I am saying,thank you* roll of eyes, but vocalled : "I know".

I give up. The cat , on the other hand, is my biggest fan of my culinary trysts. 

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

2 am worries.

Something about me fighting insomnia is just so defeating. It's no good. After a month of being able to sleep regular hours...the Insomnia returns.
Most times the Insomnia is just a craving for my own company, sometimes its a pathetic excuse for working late..and sometimes, Im so worried I just cant sleep.

Like tonight.
I lay awake, and then finally gave up.
I am plain worried.

Worried that im doing it wrong. Not worried it won't work, I am determined to make it work, and am convinced it WILL work.
I'm worried, that it will turn out badly.

Im worried for myself. For how I am dealing with my life. For how I am dealing with Old Fart. I am worried that I am in many worlds, yet not in a specific world.
Worried that I am too far away. Worried that I will never find it.

Im the kind of worried, that I will sit at my desk til 5am, scared, and defeated, and...worried.
I will not know what to do by then, and then at 5 am, i shall go for a run, still worried. 

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Boundary Issues.

Egad. Little ole indian me, has a lot to learn,  and is awfully slow at it!

So I learnt of another concept recently. "Boundary Issues." Its a fancy name, and Google-whore that I am, I of course explored, read and looked up more. From the time and the situation which threw this new term my way, to this whole internet exploring route....I went from curious, to angry to just plain sad.

Boundary issues are basically, an American-ism for the good old "respecting privacy", I think.

So yes, when it comes to smoking, drugs, peeing in public (indians!!), not following traffic rules and helping yourself to someones precious-es.... its not something I think is polite,or considerate. Hence, I don't hesitate to blacklist such acts right away. But I am not sure if I am subscribing to Boundary Issues in doing so.

Recently, a friend was diagnosed by another kind-of-friend , to have "severe boundary issues". This because, this one character has a casual way of helping him/herself to a pen, half a biscuit, an umbrella if its raining, a sweater if its cold...etc....without really asking. He/She does this ONLY with those folks whom he/she considers "friends".... and always notifies the individual. "I borrowed your umbrella/ mmmm ... this oatmeal cookie is sinful...." etc. 

Look. Ive grown up with half a dozen siblings-and-cousins combination. We didn't have the best of everything, or a lot. Fancy color pencils were shared, text books and sweaters were handed down, and more handed down. Toys were meant to be played with, footballs were to be kicked around, and if its kicked around inside the house and a lamp would break, who kicked it would be many kids were kicking it around was the key factor. 

We would share. We learnt to give, and take, we learnt to ask, and we learnt not get personally offended if a crayon is broken or missing. Having said that, however.... we also knew how to understand and respect someone's sense of ownership. Some people are extremely possessive about their toy/sports equipment/desk space/bathroom space etc. Some folks , and kids, too; want to savor that feeling of a "new" something.... and the fact that it is is special, and "belongs" to someone.... is also to be sympathized it a new doll, or a new SUV! 
 Possessive.... thats a way of saying you dont want to share! I wouldn't allow a random brat to touch my books, for example.... but someone who would be able to respect, and return it....for sure!!
 Someone got a new gadget the other day.... and of course, everyone wanted to see. This guy wanted to show it to everyone,too. Thats a part of the thrill, non? But yes.... you can "see" a gadget... he expressed clear displeasure and discomfort when someone wanted to "use" it for about five minutes.:D. But that is fine.... We all understood that this guy was still giddy on his new toy, and that it wasn't the right time to claim stake in/to it! No hard feelings!!

I was reading this woman's blog as I read up "Boundary Issues". Im not defending anyone, or playing the blame game. But what irked me, was that this was the very essence of "Boundary Issues" that prompted me to talk about it and learn about it. People in our times and life, would rather sit on the fence, than dig in, help...and dirty their hands. Of course, the woman could have said one of at least three things to help the old-dame to get her thinking right, and she was of course, NOT obligated to extend monetary aid....but well...this attitude of I will know, but not extend bizarre!! If I present   a problem, or is presented with one... (emotional/boyfriend related/ career sorts/calculus equation sorts....), its because we need to talk to someone, get it off our chests...and allow someone else to tell us the right thing that we need to hear, even if we know it.
If I call a friend, and tell her/him that my car has a flat, or that my dad is in hospital, or that my dog is really ill....its not because I want to share or that I need to get it off my chest. Its a call for bloody help!! Do we know, when to back off, or when to actually help? Why would I NOT want to help someone, because that person just "needs"a hand, not a dang-blasted hug!

Of course, "Boundary Issues" are in place when it comes to manner-less folks behaving in crass ways. One says..I dint get the scholarship/ I lost my XYZ fairy godmother/ I went through a divorce....etc.... one has to know he/she is not the one to ask for details. I hate it, when like some folks I know, would respond to such with a "tell how!", "So does that mean you havent sex in a year...". All meant to be witty....but this crass lack of manners...reflects on lack of manners and feeling, not "Boundary Issues".

I had a co worker...who would get lunch for me EVERYDAY as she lived with her mum, and I shared my tomato-samwhich-brekker with her. We shared space, stationary and everything...without having to ask. We were really good friends,and even wore matching shirts to work one day!It could have looked to others in office that we had "Boundary Issues"...but we were really cool. I jsut knew she hated having her nailpolish bottles touched, and she knew how I hated anyone drinking from my water bottle.:P  We lived a happily ever after.:P:D

Its a sad term, this case. I have never felt it. I have heard strangers talk to me of situations that are so alien to me, and even though I have nothing to do with their lives, I listen...because I realize they need to talk. I haven't been able to label them with "Boundary Issues". 
The half a dozen souls in my life who are super precious to me have gone through bizarre times. Such times, in retrospection...could happen to anyone. If it wasn't to someone who is so close , I would have still listened, helped, and been there in person. I understood,maybe, thats when we would call in "Boundary Issues". When we, as passive friends/listeners...would be confused and disgusted by the blatant awkwardness and lack of social grace...from someone who is dealing with things. We just get scared, and unsettled. And hence would rather sit on the fence. And call it "Boundary Issues". Is that it?

I realize how we dont like to share, our things, our thoughts and feelings. How we dont like to give, or take....without attaching a little flag of askance,gratitude and returning the favour. It saddens me because we are so far from just bing civil and well mannered. Because It enables us to be so far removed.because is gives us a right NOT to be a friend beyond our comfort zone. because the more we make such words....the more we are just killing it.

Yesterday, a guy friend of mine, after our swim.... was telling me how his girlfriend had "boundary issues." I had to prod. Turned put, they live together etc, and she casually helps herself to his sweater, a ciggie, a bit of food from his plate,his MP3 player, or his frying pan!! I had to laugh at this point.
Does she demand him to take off his sweater when she wants to borrow it. Negative. Does she ask him to stop cooking, to borrow the frying pan,maybe to grow plants in?! Negative!!

I said ,"Look. You have a problem sharing. If you don't want to grow up about sharing your space, sweater and a ciggie.... You have had a terribly deprived childhood. If you aren't up for much intimacy, tell her. If you really feel so strongly about your frying should talk to her about it. But for god's sake.... don't make it sound like she has a disease!"

Boundary Issues my arse!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Legs, or Tails!

My First animal was not mine, but my Dad's. The Dog was a humongous Alsatian, that my Dad had got with him from Germany/Russia...I forget which. He was called Taras Bulba ( blame Baba), shortened to Toro.
Toro was my parents' first baby, our life long babysitter and nanny. How the huge hulk had patience and bodily, the stillness, to always monitor a four and a six year old, I never knew. Even though my Mum hated to admit it, he loved my dad. And he started to die the day dad left.
While I have ALL memories of the dog, my brother had once said he doesn't. I hope he didnt mean it.

Then we moved houses, and we had the local cat giving birth to a litter in our kitchen. Cats were new to us, and we had no idea that they were going to take over our lives. And how. Dad flipped. He had never, in his whole life, had cats in the house. Mum was calm. She had done this all her life. BrahmoDeb, BishnuDeb, and BudhhuDeb. That set of a lifelong tryst with felines. We never hd a day after that, where we did not have *at least* five cats in our house at a time!

Then one day, my mum realized, we needed a dog. Bhai was still tiny, and I was PlanB for everything that would go wrong. The mother dog was so, SO huge, that she knocked over my brother in just gently nudging a hello. The little pup was a bearlike ball of Bhusho fur. That night, we were tired and too dazed with a new animal. The puppy got a sharp slap from the Don Cat, and scared the Little Cat, and annoyed another by peeing in the middle of the room. That was it for that night.

Next day, was a new beginning. Nothing looked like it was going to work. And the three human beings were going to make it work, by god.
Thus began our new lifestyle. We would travel, do homework, find bastekball and football practise, piano lessons and choir practice. Mum had classes, invegelation, friends to visit, students to talk to, corrections....but we would have to do our duty to the animals. Buy food, walk them, clean them, feed them...all of that.
Those time were tough on us in many ways. My mum realized, we needed animals. I would bring in cats, birds, squirrels...and be thrown out of the house for a little while ever so often. My brother would ask if he could bring in a stray dog...and he would be firmly said "NO!" to, and sent out with a huge pot of dog-food stew to feed the dog. And my brother gradually had a pack of dogs he would go feed every night. And come home once in a while, to report that one was injured, one had puppoes, one was feeling cold. Aaaand my mother would give him a blanket, some warm milk, or go out armed with dressing and medicines.

Piu did the strangest thing once. I was to go visit her, and she called me to tell me she was going to Bombay. Would I go with her? To get a cat? Of course, I would.
I had a lot of things to tell Piu. To give her a stern talking to. To get many in return.Needless today, nothing like that happened. I was blissfully happy in the knowledge, that she has things planned, and was in control. Where to get a cab from, how to find the cat, how much time to spend in mumbai etc. And Piu, was happily not very bothered by such things, safe in the knowledge that not too much can go out of control when Sajani was around. We realized, many months later, how scared we were, or how nervous, at given times of that day.
Piu's life was as chaotic as her many new ideas were. In the midst of that, she made space, and a firm commitment, to a cat.
She allowed the cat to run her life, and things fell into place. Gradually.

Animals. So much needs to be said of them. I love all the cliches, and believe them,too! I realized how much of my "mental"-ness can be calmed, by just a little nuzzle.
And thus, I continue my many conversations with goats, sheep, cows... recently I have spoken to a giraffe and a baby elephant. :) And a Zebra. :P
Not to mention the cats and dogs who find me. Cats and dogs are like emails now. :)

I wish I had my animals with me now. I miss them all so much. If only human beings werent to be reckoned with, in this matter. gah!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Sunday Afternoon.

So much salivation for a Sunday afternoon.

Sunday afternoon comes after a morning-ful of Sunday chores and errands and other little chaos. Sunday afternoon is post that fatty-fulfilling Sunday lunch. Sumday afternoon one sleeps that long satisfying snooze. Or reads in the sun, in the balcony. Or I shall read that book i have been salivating about. Or one will knit. No wait, watch a movie at home! Sleep. :)

This Sunday afternoon, I had my quick lunch, and Heather and I walked to a concert. Heather and I can walk. We both like walking. And we think nothing of walking distances that would astonish normal people for a bunch of very valid, normal reasons. We took the little baby, strapped it, and walked, with a huge yellow and white umbrella.
We don't always have to talk, or we talk of super mundane, or super strange things. And we are Ok with that. We walk into lanes and by lanes, and we are Ok with that,too.

Concerts, are usually my evening thing. I like getting ready, choosing just that one scarf, or shawl,or ear rings...with my usual kurta-denim-sneakers. I like feeling the rush of energy and excitement, as I am nearing the hall in the Subway.  I like walking to the metro station after, still breathing and replaying the bits of the concert in my head as I walk in the darkness of the 8pm traffic. I love sitting with good aged people, who enjoy a bit of music, no matter who is playing. I love concerts:western classical, jazz, and eastern classical(even though i understand jack of this last one). I love the form, the discipline, the whole tremor at every note, the chords that are amplified through the auditorium...the acoustics of a little trill. I love the shine of an instrument on the stage, I love the movement of an open air concert, I love the amphitheater, I love everything about a concert!!

But I have never , casually, after lunch, walked to a concert. I want to live in a village, I had thought....if this is can be so casual. There was sans the hassle of taking out the car etc, minus the whole "planning" pressure..when, how, with who....etc. We just walked down our street, and then a whole hour, and walked into an auditorium!

And what elegance and beauty! This orchestra was no local gang! violins, violas, french horn and flute, oboe and clarinets, a piano and a cello. a bassoon and whatnot!!... and the whole hierarchy of a leader, a conductor, a solo player etc. The pieces were ones I had never heard played live. The conductor was lively, and so flamboyant!! The audience was a well educated and very well mannered crowd. There were children, old folks, young folks, white folks,brown folks and black folks (don't bother correcting me, I know you know what I mean). We knew when to clap, not at the end of a movement. No one ate, drank or talked. There were no cell fones and beepies. There were little sighs, little head sways...and after a while...a little snore from somewhere...:):P/.   It was so good, to be in that crowd.

I loved this afternoon. I did everything, I normally do....just that this was easy, casual and had no fuss. And I was,not to forget, tremendously impressed with this Orchestra!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Bookends and Weekends.

I am beginning to see a pattern to my weekends.

Weekends used to be fun! Weekends were for catching up on a movie, an extra long swim, going out to a new place with friends. Id have an extra long shower, and extra long bike ride. Id watch an extra movie( if possible), write a bit extra, travel a bit extra...( like...go for a drive.... about 400 kms away...and come back only after sunset), eat a bit extra.

Its now the opposite. I usually catch up on an pending errand, do grocery shopping, do cleaning equipment shopping, repair something, (grocery shopping takes up HALF a day!!).... fix something in the house, clean the house, somewhere in between try to buy a book, (not) meet a friend if possible, fix a date with plumber/carpenter, cook tupperware-fulls for the week, do laundry.

The week, is where the running, swimming and walk is strongly scheduled in. Or reading a book everyday. Or meeting someone (shudder shudder groan). Or travel, but make it a point to be home by Friday evening. I eat clean good food, because I stay at home and can get it together. Gah.

Its become the other way around. Ive become old. :(

I just read. Everyday. Thats the only thing I look forward to. Everyday. 

Thursday, November 8, 2012


I have to learn to say "no". I can say no to animals. In fact, that an integral part of their training.
I have to learn to say "No" to people.

When they invite me to dinner. When they ask me to do them a favour. When they want to borrow a book. When they call me at a time I am in no mood to talk. Whatever.

I dont say "No" when the proposition is voiced. Movie, drinks, shopping, travel. I say yes. Even though I am mentally saying O God,NO! Actually, I have already decided that I am not going to agree, and I am rejecting that proposition of yours....But I will say, "Sure, that sounds fun!"

Then closer to the date, I try to give it a tentative status.
Closest to the time, I cancel.With a pathetic, PATHetic excuse.

I know its a terribly bad habit. I try to be polite,and I try not to hurt anyones feelings.But I fail. Miserably.

I shall just say no, next time.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Public Spaces.

I've been noticing, watching, observing ,figuring and thinking.
Public spaces creates society and culture. Or the lack of it.

Romans, Greeks, Mughals, Incas, Egyptians etc had this maddening faith in them. The private quarters were tiny, dark, and minimalist in a rustic way. Unless one considers the bathing quarters and the hookah-smoking qaurters or something of the royals and the nobles. The ordinary man's little four walled unit of those times, come to think of it, reflects less of a personal lifestyle of a soul, that a jail cell of today!
All signs of Grandiose and, educational, cultural and/or economic...was in the public places. Of course, the fact that kings and queens paid from public money for public utility is one explanation. Thing is, all expression, development and progress; of a society, a person and of an economy.... was a result of a public activity.

So it continued. Because then there was the Globe Theatre, Hyde Park, piazzas, cathedrals, art galleries, museums, river side walks.... etc etc etc. There was, once, an urban generation who made a home of the nearest bar,  favorite coffee shop, darling book shop, jogging track, park bench...etc.

Libraries, squares, places of worship, museums, stadiums.... so much fun, no?
Isnt it great to just meet a friend at a place that is halfway, and then walk along.... discovering this and that, stopping here and there.

We used to have this culture. At least while I was growing up. We were never too far away from a library, or a cinema hall, or a concert hall, or a place to walk in or play a sport at. We used to be at home in a public space.

Older cities still have this.

Of late, we dont seem to want public spaces.
We like to convert our private spaces, to a private public space. Thus, we buy fancy home theatre systems. We buy expensive garden furniture. We like to throw "House Parties", that have more status than going to a club, at times. We like our gym equipment in our bedroom. Or have a gym equipment room. We would rather have a car, than taking a bus sometime. Not always.... just sometimes. Surprising how so many people in so many cities can afford to have a swimming pool in their backyard... like Dubai. I thought one had to be VERY rich to have something like that!!

There is a small, but strong section of society who can buy, and convert their private homes into things that would have been a public space activity.
I dont blame them. Given the amount of pollution, noise, traffic etc...and the number of people doing their thing, private spaces offer more peace and respite.

Going out is, sadly, expensive. And Noisy. And Annoying.  In only some cities and towns, will you have a running track and a park bench for free. Or a parking lot to play cricket at. Or a place to just meet at, and not have pay, or do be a part of. To sit, have a conversation, read a book, or breathe in the sunshine.... without having to make a do of it, and pay a bomb for it.

The competitive strain in real estate and business and all of that, is of course, something to be taken into consideration very seriously. Also, it is only after paying, does one have a right to demand, express ownership, and take responsibility....for the cleanliness of a park, the sanctity of a library, or the silence in a concert hall.

Which makes me realize, with a lot of sadness, that somewhere, people had forgotten how to use and utilize a public space. That there is a decorum to be maintained.That a public place, is not for the homeless or the masses. I miss public spaces, and that it was once, a birthright.

Wait, we have the malls. Free, clean and entertaining. Right. Gah.