December 22, 2012

Spaceman Spiff adds a life event to her timeline


Married.

M.A.R.R.I.E.D.

That’s right. I’m married.

Like, for real.

I’m sorry, but it’s gonna take some time for the mammoth fact to sink in. So till then, you might have to put up with me saying ‘I’m married’ at the most unexpected intervals.

So that’s what’s been happening, folks! The wedding was on the 10th of December, a reception the same day evening at Palakkad, and a reception in Trivandrum on 14th. The reception is TVM was so much fun, with dancing and all that. The wedding as such went off without any major disasters, and I behaved as well as I possibly could. Although, my aunt was heard complaining that ‘the bride’ wasn’t showing even a tinge of shyness or nervousness. Not even for courtesy sake. I was probably the one laughing and talking the loudest.   

After a week of wedding madness, we took off to Goa. And Goa was just fab! We spent three days in North Goa and two days in South Goa. Went for water sports and parasailing (second time this year. Ain’t that cool! J ), stuffed our faces with all kinds of seafood, drank ourselves silly, and generally chilled out. Palolem beach in South Goa was just beautiful. If ever you plan a trip to Goa, do visit Palolem. It’s a lot more beautiful and peaceful than the crowded beaches of North Goa.

As I write this, I’m sitting at Bangalore airport, waiting to catch my connecting flight to Coimbatore, from where we’ll to go to Palakkad. I look around me at the waiting lounge and I see a lot of strangers. And then I look next to me, and see this guy, with his nose buried in a book, who was a stranger to me till a few months back, but has somehow become the reason for my happiness right now. I don’t even know if I can call it happiness. I am...at peace. Maybe it’s him. Maybe it’s Goa. Maybe it’s just God letting me know that he’s out there, looking out for me. 

I’ll be off to Chennai next week. Brand new city, brand new husband, brand new life. I’ll keep you guys posted about how marriage is treating me. Wish me luck, ok? J Because I need lots of it.

Fuck!! I’m married!! :O

November 16, 2012

Clutch evide? Brake evide?!


Before you read the post, please watch the video.


Watched? If you’re a Malayali, then you probably know this scene frame-by-frame and know the dialogues by heart. If you’re a Malayali but don’t know this scene, shame on you. Go hide under a rock or something.

For the non-Mallus, this is an epic scene from the Malayalam movie Thalayanamanthram, written by a genius named Sreenivasan. He is one of the most brilliant writers of Malayalam- nay, Indian cinema. He is one of the ugliest actors ever, and his genius lies in the fact that he makes fun of himself in his own movies at every given chance. The guy behind the wheel, trying to drive the car, is Sreenivasan.  

Let me give a quick summary of the scene, for those who couldn’t understand it. Sreenivasan is trying to learn how to drive a car, Mammukoya (the other actor)is trying to teach him. Sreenivasan doesn’t know the clutch from the brake, and keeps asking where one or the other is. “Clutch evide?! Brake evide?!” (Where is the clutch? Where is the brake?!) has become an  epic dialogue in Malayalam cinema, oft quoted by Malayalis whenever such a driving situation arises.  

Now imagine, in place of Sreenivasan, Yours Truly. Thankfully I know where the clutch and brake are. But the rest of the situation is pretty much the same. Oh, and I haven't gone and rammed into a wall. Yet. *gulps*

Am I learning driving, you ask? No no. of course not. That I learnt in 2007. Got my license too. Only, the license has been serving the purpose of an ID card more than anything else. You see, after I learnt driving in 2007 and got my license (which was a major hurdle in itself. I had to take the test twice to pass it. I got the H correct the first time, but failed the road test because I forgot to put my hand out and give the hand-signals. The two-wheeler test, I passed only on my third attempt. What can I say; 8 is just too hard a number.), I moved to Hyderabad. I had absolutely no practice at all, and lost complete touch. Acha never gave me the car whenever I came down to TVM (in his own words “You can take the car out if it is a bandh day” L ), and I wasn’t very interested in it anyways. I was happy sitting back and watching the traffic go by, while someone else drove me around. Plus, traffic- especially buses- scares the living daylights out of me.  

So why am I saying all this now? Because I have started going for driving practice classes. And I realized that I had underestimated myself. I am much MUCH worse than I had thought I was! Right from pressing both clutch and accelerator together and causing the car to do nothing much other than make racing noises, to forgetting to step on the brake while passing over a speed-breaker, it’s one big mess. The only thing I’m good at is holding on to the steering wheel for dear life.

My “Thalayanamanthram” moment was when the instructor told me to change the gear, and I asked her “What gear? Which gear?” because I had forgotten what gear I had put it on previously. L The driving-class-car already has a pretty rattled up gear-box, not to mention the CBA’s, which need to be pushed down with a bulldozer. Instead of changing it to first from second, I end up putting it in third gear. And put it in fourth when I'm told to put it in reverse. Add to this a mess of a driver like me, and there you have it- a catastrophe on wheels. Thankfully, they have an extra set of controls on the instructor’s side.

But S promised me that if I learn how to drive, we can go on many road trips. That’s the only reason I’m doing this. God save him and his Figo.

You know that bike-tyre ad with the tagline “The roads are full of idiots”? Sigh… I couldn't agree more.

Love,
One of those idiots.     

October 24, 2012

All that glitters is too much gold!


I’m alive, very much, in case you were wondering.

An anxious comment by a kind reader the other day, asking for my whereabouts, reminded me that I have a blog where I haven’t posted anything for quite a while (Thanks, Asok, for the concern). Alright, I’m lying. I didn't exactly forget about my blog. I've just been a bit caught up with various things, mostly wedding-y stuff. Plus, I honestly wasn't able to write anything good enough to post here.

 So what have I been up to? Let’s see…

Quit my job. Packed up five fabulous years of my life into bags & boxes and said adieu to Hyderabad (grudgingly), reached Trivandrum, went to Chennai for a quick three-day shopping trip, picked up saris, came back to TVM, bought a bit of gold, etc etc etc.

All of which has strengthened my belief in one thing- weddings are such an utter waste of money!!!

I mean, what a waste! Before we left for Chennai, I had told Acha and Amma that I will not be buying a very expensive sari, even if I have to say a firm no to my in-laws (I can’t snap at them like I snap at my parents, right? Nope. Too early to show them my true Mahakali colours), who’d accompanied us too. I don’t mean to sound like a snobbish bride, but I don’t see any reason why I should buy a sari worth one lakh rupees (yes, I did see saris I that range. And there were girls trying them too), when a sari worth Rs.5000 will look equally pretty. So when I was choosing my saris, the question that I asked myself was “Will I ever wear this again?”, as opposed to the more commonly asked “Is this gaudy enough? Will it make me look like a festival elephant?”. Thankfully, I didn’t have to fight too much of a battle over this. I think I must thank the mind-boggling crowd in the stores for this. We were so bloody sick of the rush, we just wanted to wind up and get the hell out of there as quickly as ‘wedding-shopping-ly’ possible. I picked up moderately priced, gorgeous silk saris that I can wear again after the wedding.

Next came the bigger battle- buying gold. I’m not a fan of the yellow metal. And you know how Malayalis are about gold, right? Unless they wear it like an armour, they’re not satisfied. I would rather be dead than wear that armour. So before setting out to buy gold today, I had very clearly and politely told my folks not to buy too much, because there was no chance that I was going to wear more than four chains (which itself is too much!). Also, the price of gold is obscenely high now. But the insane crowd at the jewelry store would have us believe that gold is even cheaper than green chillies. It was mad! Anyway, I picked up a couple of antique gold pieces, which doesn't have that ugly sheen of the normal gold. But the downside of buying antique gold is that it’s almost double the price. Sigh…

But the waste of money doesn't end with the saris and the gold. There’s so much more to be done, so much more money that is going to be spent on it all. But each time I protest, I’m silenced with a “You don’t bother about the money” by Acha. Also a “You can’t always have your way” by Amma. They don’t understand that it’s not about getting my way. Imagine how many trips I could’ve gone to with that money. Think of how many children could’ve been educated with that money. But it doesn’t work that way, I’ve come to realize. This thing called wedding, it’s something that parents dream of probably since the day their daughters are born. And when it’s a dream that’s as long-cherished as that, they won’t let anything get in the way of it. Not even adamant daughters or Burj Khalifa-high gold rate.

You know what? I’m definitely going to encourage my kids to elope.

September 13, 2012

The bumpy ride called marriage

You know how I’m getting married in December and all that jazz, right?

Ever since it all got finalized, I’ve had this niggling feeling at the back of my mind, whether everything will be fine or not. It is but natural, considering I’m a constant worrier. Would we get along well? Will we be able to co-exist peacefully?

I mean, we ARE quite different.

Me- loud : He- comparatively quiet.
Me- drama queen : He- level-headed.
Me- Starts dancing even in autos to Himesh Reshammiya songs (I’m NOT proud of it): He- has two left feet,
Me- follows Bollywood and actually READS Filmfare and doesn’t buy it just to look at the pictures : He- doesn’t watch movies at all that much.
Me- lazybones: He- quite the fitness freak.
Me- LOVES her weekends and staunchly believes in “There’s never enough time to do all the nothing you want": He: can’t sit still even on weekends.
Me- can’t stand others’ mess: he- is quite good at messing up the place.
Me- to whom people say “Oh god, stop laughing so loud! People are looking!”: He- should definitely laugh more often. He likes his brooding persona way too much.
Me- does things like calling up someone on their birthday ten times during the day and simply wishing them, quotes dialogues from Malayalam movies a bit too often, sings “Sutta na mila” along with the MC-BC lyrics loudly while riding pillion on someone’s bike, etc.: He- has his quirks but doesn’t display them so blatantly to the rest of the world.

I think I should end the list here before I freak myself out completely.

So yes, these small things have been at the back of my mind. I mean, I’m happy with him and all that, which is why I said yes in the first place, but you know… you know? Then I thought, “What’s the fun if two people are exactly of the same personality? They should complement each other, right?”

It’s with this khichdi in my head that I started reading Yashodhara Lal’s “Just married, Please Excuse”. And Ma’m, may I just say, Thank. You. So. Much.



Just Married… is the (true) story of Yashodhara and Vijay, two very different people who fall in love and get married. She’s a city girl from Delhi, he’s from small town Jaipur. She loves non-veg, he’s a Brahmin who eats only chicken nuggets and eggs. She’s quite the firebrand, he’s slightly less of a firebrand. They both have an opinion on every single thing, and more often than not, the opinions differ.

Yashodhara takes us on a trip through their marriage, right from where he proposes (not exactly the most romantic proposal) to where they’re struggling with being first-time parents. The book is filled with vignettes from their lives that are so funny, I was laughing uproariously through most of it. A first date watching ducks and fishing, the seemingly unending search for a bright-blue sofa that doesn't sweat and in the process, making life hell for the salespersons, likening Vijay in his wedding attire to a giant tube of Colgate toothpaste are some of the hilarous one. And the beauty of it is that it is all so real (or at least I’m assuming it is). The problems that they face are common ones that probably every married couple goes through. The characters are people you and I can relate to (Dear Yashodara, what I could relate to the most about you was your sarcasm).

It’s a very unpretentious book. There aren’t fancy-sounding words or long-winding sentences that'll stop making sense halfway through. The author doesn’t try to paint any rosy pictures about marriage. She tells it like it is, without giving any unnecessary gyaan. She just narrates their story, and leaves it to us to derive lessons from it.

And what’s the lesson that I’ve learnt? That it’s not impossible. You can be as different as chalk and cheese, but can still make the marriage work. All it takes is a LOT of effort and a few sessions with a psycho marriage counselor who’ll make you realize that marriage isn’t one of those things that can be repaired in ’12 steps’. It’s entirely up to the husband and the wife to make it work. If both of them want to hang on to each other come what may, then they’ll find a way to make it happen. It’s about accepting and embracing each other’s differences and loving them for it. Don’t let ego ruin the relationship, and be willing to make small little adjustments that’ll ultimately make things a whole lot better for both of you. Oh and love and all that jazz too (I won’t comment woo much about this one).

So what if Yashodhara didn’t give gyaan. I never said I won’t.

The book has a lot of heart. It is deliciously sarcastic, funny, witty, humorous, and any other synonym you can think of for the same. If you pass it off thinking it's just another run-of-the-mill Indian author trying to ply her IIM story or as a chicklit, then you're missing out on a truly good book. It’s one of those books that, when you finish reading it, wish there was more of. The book has made me hopeful that S & I will be just fine, as long as we both really want to make it work. Thank you for that, Mrs. Yashodhara Lal. You have earned yourself a fan.

September 11, 2012

Turning 26

I rang in my last birthday along with three very important people.

One of them is no longer a part of my life.

Another one is on a self-imposed indefinite sabbatical from me.

The third person, thankfully, is still in my life. I had almost lost her too, but better sense prevailed and we both hung on.

This last one year has been one of the most turbulent years of my life.

I thought I would be married by my 26th birthday, to the guy I was in love with. And I tried with every fibre of my being to make it happen. But God had other plans. God said “Let’s see how grown-up you are” and threw a bunch of googlies in my way. I don’t know how well I have dealt with them, but dealt with them, I have, for sure.

So here I am, on my 26th, with my Lily and Marshall. Still single, engaged to be married by this year-end. I don’t know whether I am happy or not. I still eye happiness with a little bit of suspicion. It’ll take time, but I’m working on it. But I think I’m content. At peace, if I may. My demons don’t bother me so much lately. They haven’t gone away completely, either. That’ll take time as well. I’m slowly trying to prepare myself for a whole new life phase.

This is my last birthday in Hyderabad. The city I've come to look upon as my own. The thought of leaving is killing me, but I have to go. This place has too many memories. I may never be able to move on in life if I continue to stay here. So more than preparing myself for marriage, I’ve been trying to prepare myself for leaving my Hyderabad. The withdrawal symptoms have started.

Turning 26, definitely hasn’t been easy.

But hey, I’m still alive. And that’s something to celebrate, isn't it? :)

Happy birthday, me.

ETA: I posted this after midnight on 12th. I don't know why the date is showing as 11th.

September 7, 2012

Book Review: Rainy Days by Samarth Prakash

“His writing style ranges from ardently melodramatic and vividly romantic to quietly philosophical”, is how Samarth Prakash, the author of Rainy Days has been described. When I read this, I had no clue just how melodramatic they were talking about.

Rainy Days (Published by Good Times Pvt. Ltd.), attempts to chronicle the lives and love of Raghav and Megha. They meet at a cricket match that gets rained out. She leaves abruptly, leaving our romantic (in his own eyes) hero holding a lonely umbrella (no double entendre there, I swear). So what does our hero do? He chases her, and finds out where she works, and then proceeds to wait for her below her building for many days till she finally makes an appearance.

*cough stalker creepo cough*

So he strikes up a conversation with her, and eventually tells her that he chased her to the building, and had been waiting for her to make an appearance. Now, if you had been in place of that girl, what would you have done? Walked away? Called the police and got a restraining order against him? At least punched him? Well, our dear heroine, after a few minutes of uncomfortable silence, gets flattered and continues having lunch with him. Come on, girl, the least you could’ve done was at least throw a glass of water in his face before continuing with the lunch!

I don’t really want to get into the rest of the story because then that would mean having to do a quick recap of the story in my mind, and believe me, I don’t want to do that. Suffice to say, she vanishes one fine day, leaving a letter promising to return after five years, and return she does, as a married woman (at this point, I actually said a “serves you right” to the hero, for being such a douchebag).

The problem with this book is not that it romantic or melodramatic. The problem is that it is TOO romantic and melodramatic. I mean, we all love some melodrama and romance, sure. But this dude took it to another level. The characters have been created in such a way that you don’t end up feeling any sort of emotion- pity, affection, happiness, pride- for any of them.

The author should consider rechristening himself as Somewhat Prakash. The word ‘somewhat’ has been used so many times in the book, I started playing a little game while reading the book- how soon will I come across the next ‘somewhat’. I don’t have anything against the word, believe me. But would you like it if a word has been repeated on an average of twice per page? Yes, per page.

The author absolutely loves drawing parallels. As a result, ‘much like’ is a phrase that comes up as often as ‘somewhat’. If Raghav sees sunlight, he’ll connect it in some way to something else. If he sees a butterfly, he’ll connect it with colours of life. Well, the second one is just my contribution, but you get the picture, right? Sample this: The colourful ink on the promising pages of love was wiped out from the book of my life, much like waves that destroy castles built on sand. Err.. what?? This is like Inception. Metaphor within a metaphor within a metaphor.

But if you thought this was bad, sample this. “Our hairs fluttered, almost synchronously, in the evening breeze that was beginning to turn cold. And somehow, in that synced movement of our hairs, the gap that had opened up between S and myself was closed. We were in sync once again, as best friends should always be.” Dude, seriously? You drew a parallel of friendship with the movement of hairs? HAIRS???

Why is the book called ‘Rainy Days’, you wonder? Because it was raining the day they first met, it was raining the day they parted, and it was raining pretty much every single day chronicled in the book. I think I have developed a slight aversion towards rain now. And the hero’s philosophical musings were so blah, that I skipped quite many paragraphs out of sheer disinterest.

And just when you thought the book is over, after Megha comes back and reveals her side of the story, the author brings in a twist. A twist that is so out of place, that it looks as though it was introduced just so that the book wouldn’t be reduced to a mere romance novel.

Grammatically, the book is ok. No major blunders. But the language is so so SO melodramatic, that it gets exhausting after a point. You’ll feel as though you’re walking through a desert in the hot sun, wearing shoes that are three sizes too big for you. Hey! I just drew a parallel! So the book had SOME effect on me after all.

And trust me, dear Samarth Prakash, no love is as blind as you suggest it is in the book. Love is a lot of things, I agree. And people in love do all sorts of crazy things, even I have. But I seriously doubt standing as a false witness to help your old flame who murdered her sister, get acquitted is one of them. This sort of love is not blind, it's just plain stupid. Oopsie. Did I just give away the suspense? Whatever.

I know I’ve been very mean with the review, but I can’t call a bad book good. Ok, maybe I shouldn’t call a bad book bad, either. So let me just say, read it at your own risk. This level of melodrama and romance is just not my cup of tea. But if you don't mind it, then go ahead and give it a shot. Good luck.

August 27, 2012

Sunshine dreams...

I dream of living by the beach, waking up to the music of waves every day; of having the option of walking far into the sea if I find living too tedious.

I dream of watching the full moon from the top of a mountain.

I dream of being able to wear size XS again.

I dream of seeing my name in published ink.

I dream of bungee-jumping at least one in my life.

I dream of going to the topmost floor of the tallest building in the world at least once before I die.

I dream of getting a tattoo on my lower back that I can flaunt when I wear a saree.

I dream of being with a man who doesn’t need to think twice about being with me.

I dream of being told ‘I love you’ in a way that, when he tells it, I’ll know there isn’t a bigger truth in the world.

I dream of being woken up with a smile and a hug.

I dream of a home of my own, that I can call my very own, and I’ll fill it up with lots of books. A home where music will play all the time, even if no one is consciously listening to it. A home where my kids will grow up drawing on the wall (only one single wall, dedicated to them. If they ruin all the walls, I'll make them only scrub it).

I dream of going on a mini-vacation, a break of sorts, once in three months- maybe not necessarily to a new place, but just any place, to get away from the monotony. I like routine, but monotony scares me.

I dream of being with a guy who'll understand my need to be left alone once in a while; someone who'll laugh at my bad jokes and eccentricities; someone who'll love me not INSPITE of those quirks, but FOR them.

I dream of being the reason behind at least one person's happiness and smile.

I dream of being in a relationship where our silences are just as comfortable as the conversations are effortless.

I dream of never ever getting stuck in a rut or becoming just another brick in the wall.

I'm one of those who, like John Lennon said, if ever asked "What do you want to be in life?" will simply answer "Happy".

There... am I aspiring for too much?

August 6, 2012

Boy meets girl and all that jazz.

Warning: This is going to be an insanely long post, so don't scroll to the end of the post, see the length of it, and then close it without reading it. I know you people do that. Pfft.



I have been receiving threatening emails and messages for some time now, asking me to come out with the pennukaanal story soon, or else…! So here is the pennukaanal story. :)

Rewind to a few months back. It was a Saturday. I was just about winding up the English grammar class that I used to teach part-time at a coaching institute. I was as bored as the kids were sleepy, because grammar has the power to put anyone to sleep. The kids were doing the worksheet while I took my phone out to check how soon I could flee the place and get home to my Saturday night with Old Monk (and my Lily and Marshall too, of course). Two missed calls. From Acha. I knew what he would have called for. To tell me about yet another alliance. There was a message from him too. I was right. He had forwarded some guy’s profile ID and told me to check it out. My irritation went up a few notches. Didn’t I say I’m not interested and don’t wanna get married now and that I need some time?! I was just not in a state to think about marriage or about another guy. You know why.

So anyways, I pushed the phone back into my bag. Class got over soon and I got into a bus. I thought I’ll return Acha’s call anyway. So I called him. He told me that this person (let’s call him S) had seen my profile on the matrimonial site and called Acha, and that he found my profile very interesting. That piqued my curiosity, because ‘interesting’ isn’t exactly the best word one would use to describe my profile. Most guys had run in the other direction after reading it. Acha told me that this chap spoke very well, and he told me to check out his profile. I logged on from my phone, because I had an hour-and-a-half-hour’s journey ahead of it, so might as well make use of the time, right?

And what do I find? A non-weirdly-named Mallu guy without a moosh who- wait for it- WRITES!!! And writes in proper English, using proper grammar, has all the punctuations and apostrophes in place, has the capital letters in place, AND puts space wherever necessary. After getting excited about the fact that he too is a Grammar Nazi, I went through the rest of his profile. He seemed interesting, had reading and interest in travel in common with me, and I liked his family from the way he had described them.

So I call up Acha and say “Acha, it’s an interesting profile. His grammar and all is fine.”

:/

Acha went silent for a minute. And then he burst out laughing. Then I asked him what should be done next. Acha asked me if I wanted to speak to S. I told him to get me his email ID, so that I could mail him. A few minutes later, I get a message from an unknown number. It was S. Acha had given him my number. He just dropped in a hi, and wanted to know if we could speak. I replied saying that I was out, and if I could speak later.

But wait, here’s the clincher. He texts exactly like I do! In proper English, not SMS language, with capital letters and full spellings of words. This guy seemed to be like my Grammar Nazi twin.

So I got home, and hurriedly opened his profile and showed it to U and A (the Lily and the Marshall- or rather, first letters of their real names. They’re the ones I live with). Once I got their go-ahead (yes, I do that), I spoke to him. We spoke for more than an hour that day, the longest I’ve spoken on the phone to anyone in ages. I hate talking over the phone, and the max I can do is 20-25 minutes. My ears start to pain/I get bored after that. We exchanged basic info- education, job, where-when-what of it, families, etc. We also opened and shut the ex-files. I told him very honestly that I had just gone through a break-up a few months back, and he very bluntly asked me if this was a rebound thing. I assured him that I’m not the kind of person who’ll mess up someone else’s life to deal with my own pain. I was over that, which is why I had agreed to speak to him in the first place.

We then spoke every day for the next few days. All this while, our families were on tenterhooks, wanting to know how it is going. Acha went and got the horoscopes checked, meanwhile, and turned out that they matched. S’s mom called me up and spoke to me, and I loved her. She speaks nineteen-to-the-dozen, and guess what? She’s an English teacher. I know, right?!

Then we decided that we have to meet before we take a final call on anything, because speaking on the phone is a different deal altogether. So he came down to Hyderabad one fine Saturday. We spent the day together roaming around in malls, having coffee, and bearing the insane afternoon heat in Charminar. I kid you not. By the end of the day, we figured that we were able to spend a whole day with each other without getting bored or wanting to kill each other. And that itself is a big deal, because to be honest, I was quite nervous about this whole spend-a-day-together thing. I’ve gotten so used to shopping and roaming around alone that I was afraid I’ll get bored of him after a couple of hours. Yes, I’m quite capable of that. I can tolerate human company only for a limited period of time.

But I didn’t get bored of him. We had a good time together, he seemed like a decent chap, and had that one quality that every girl looks for in a guy- chivalry (guys, take notes. Trust me on this). He even got me cupcakes that survived the flight (You can awww at this one). He is older to me, which meant that he had the maturity that age brought along with it. And that was something I really needed at the moment. He was smart, intelligent, and could carry out a decent conversation.

So we realized, we didn’t really have any reasons to say no. Well, except for the fact that he had a cat and that he lived in a city that I had been conditioned to hate because of its legendary heat and auto-drivers. But I figured, I can’t have everything, right? I need to learn to make compromises. And I was willing to consider it not because I HAD to, but because I WANTED to.

Our families were like hyperactive kids that day, calling us umpteen times during the day to ask ‘how’s it going?’ Imagine this. We’re sitting at a cafĂ© and my phone rings. Acha. I pick up, and he asks me “So how is it going? Do you like him?” What the hell am I supposed to say with him sitting right in from of me?! “Yes Acha, I louuuu him”?? So I politely told Acha to leave me alone and that I will give a detailed report at night. Even then, Amma and Chechi also called in between.

Anyway, he left that same evening. We gave a positive feedback to the folks back home. Positive in the sense, we told them that yes, we liked each other, but would like to speak for a while longer before we take the final call.

So we did that. We spoke for a few more days, weighing the pros and cons. The parents had left it to us kids to make a decision. And so we did. We decided to go ahead and torture each other for the rest of our lives. In my defense, he had already read my profile. So he knew exactly what he was getting into. He can’t complain later, right?

After that, the parents took over. My folks went over to his place to meet them. He had also come down for a couple of days, so my parents got to meet him too. They came back happy and content. I was very particular that the families should also get along well. So it came as a big relief.

And now I come to the actual pennukaanal story (didn’t I warn you that it’s gonna be a looong post). His family hadn’t met me yet, even though everything had pretty much been finalized and tentative dates also fixed. Their original plan was to come to TVM to see me when I went home in June, but due to my grandma’s unexpected demise, that plan got changed. Instead, they came down to Trichur to see me at my aunt’s house. Like I said, I was anything but shy and nervous. Aunty (my future MIL, that is) asked me “Are you nervous, beta?” And I shamelessly replied, “No Aunty, not really. I’ve been looking forward to meeting you all, so I’m more excited than nervous.” I didn’t do that customary serving-chai-with-downcast-eyes thing either. I was just myself. Since I had already spoken to aunty quite many times by then, i was very comfortable being around her. S was there too, and to be honest, it looked more like his pennukaanal than mine, because he seemed quite nervous :P (he’s so gonna kill me when he reads this). He doesn’t talk as much as I do. He takes time to open up.

So that, my lovelies, is the story of how your dear-damaged-Spiffy found her Grammar Nazi-in-shining-armour. Of how she is learning to be happy without holding back. Of how she decided to let go of her past and look forward to the future. Of how she found the guy who knows all about her hang-ups, but still ‘gets’ her. Of how she is gradually learning to accept that fact that maybe having a cat around the house may not be the worst thing in the world, when the consolation is that the guy is good. Of how she is willing to relocate to a city she doesn’t really like, but is ok with it because the guy is worth it *touchwood touchwood*. Does it sound like a fairy-tale? It’s not, trust me. It’s just the story of an ordinary girl who’s been through perfectly ordinary stuff that everyone goes through in life, and has hopefully finally found one of the cozy nooks of her happy place *fingers crossed. Toes too, for good measure*. Her story is not over yet. A brand new chapter is just starting. Only difference being, she has a co-author now.

She is still shit-scared about commitment and marriage and about ‘settling down’, but so is he, so they’ve decided to freak out about it together.

Wish them luck.

July 30, 2012

Welcome to the world, little one.

It's amazing, how a tiny pair of feet can evoke so much of emotion and awww-ness in me.



This gorgeous pair of feet belong to my dear friend Gopika's six-day old son. :) He was born on 24th July. Soon as I get permission from the brand new parents to post more, I shall put up pics of his gorgeous little face too. I went camera-crazy over the weekend, clicking him at every chance. This one's my favourite of the lot. :)

July 18, 2012

The Rape Capital of the world.

I did a stupid thing today. I made the mistake of thinking that I’m brave enough to watch the Guwahati molestation video that’s up on Youtube.

I’m sure you’ve noticed this, or maybe not- I’ve never really written about any such ‘sensitive’ issues on my blog. Main reason being, I’ve always felt, if I can’t do anything about it, I probably shouldn’t rant about it and blame others for not finding a solution. But also because, with time, I’ve become one of those who thinks “If it hasn’t happened to me, it’s none of my business. Such kind of things only happen to others”. Sad. Shameful. I know.

The other day, I was returning home from work. It was pretty late, around 9:30. The road connecting the railway station (I travel by the local train) to the main road- from where I have to take an auto to my colony- was poorly lit. Or rather, no street-light at all. The only light was from a few shops on the sidewalk. So I’m walking to the main road. It’s a familiar road, I walk it every day. So the lack of light doesn’t scare me. I’m not the only one walking anyway. These two guys come from the opposite direction on a bike, flash their headlights bright at me for a few seconds, yell ‘I love you’, and drive away.

Surely, I should have been flattered that a guy said ‘I love you’ to me, right? I mean, isn’t that what every girl wants to hear from a guy? Those three words. Right? Wrong. We want to hear it from somebody who knows us, gets us, and actually loves us. Not from somebody who only saw me for two seconds in the dark and said it only because I’m a girl and have boobs. Sorry, I’m not so easily flattered. Na-ah.

How is this connected in any way to the Guwahati molestation, you wonder? It’s not, really. What happened to me is nowhere close in magnitude to what that girl was subjected to. I’ve been commented on and stared at before too, not the first time. And I’ve learnt to turn a deaf ear to it and walk on. Maybe that’s the mistake most of us girls make. Ignore. Pretend that it didn’t happen. Pretend that some random bastard’s dirty hands didn’t graze your boobs and ass. Pretend that you don’t feel dirty and violated at being commented on.

But the basis of both these incidents are the same, right? That some men think they have the right to comment on and letch at and touch a girl without her permission. That they have the right to have sex with her just because she has a vagina, be it of a six-year-old girl or a 25-year-old woman. That rape is their way of establishing the power equation. That if a girl wears a short skirt and strapless top, it means she wants to be raped. Believe me, dear men, no woman WANTS to be raped. Do you have any idea how much it hurts? And I mean physically.

Let me get one thing very straight here. I’m not doing any male-bashing. I know plenty of men who are good, kind-hearted people with whom I’ve gone out late at night and have felt perfectly safe with. I have more male friends than female friends, and they have all been perfect gentlemen with me. They’ve taken really good care of the women with them and made sure that they’re deposited back home safely. I have oodles of respect for these men and have absolute faith that they will never rape a woman ever. So this is NOT about ALL men.

So who ARE these men, who rape and molest? Are they wired differently? Is their genetic engineering different? Were they born that way? Is it hereditary, this tendency to rape? Were they given lessons as children, how to rape? Do they set out every morning, in search of potential victims? Are they proud of what they do? Is rape the only way they enjoy sex?

Really, who ARE they?

To say that the video really disturbed me is an understatement. That could’ve been anyone. That could’ve been me, you, your friend, your sister. The next time I walk on that dark road, I’ll be cautious (which is good) till I reach the main road. Because it doesn’t always happen to just others. It can happen to me too. And there’s no way I can avoid it. Unless I decide to quit my job and sit at home. Or find a job that’ll have me home before it’s dark.

But I don’t think any of that will matter. Because for a rapist, none of that matters. Not the clothes, not the time of the day, not the age of the girl, not even whether the girl is pretty or not. All that matters is that he has a hard-on and he has to do something about it. All that matters is that the girl’s screams and struggling give him a high. Isn’t that what it’s all about? The feeling of power.

And it's not just the women who get raped. Men get molested too. Mostly BY men. And it's an equally gruesome thing.

If the moral police say that wearing ‘proper’ clothes is the most effective way to prevent rape, then isn’t castration an equally effective measure or justifiable punishment? And if clothes are what provoked the rape, then what was the provocation to rape a six-year-old? Her frock was too short and skimpy, is it?

What can be done about this? Is there anything that we can do, other than writing blog posts expressing our outrage and putting up FB status updates? Is there any solution to this?

I sure hope there is… because I don’t want to live in constant fear of being groped by strange filthy men...

July 9, 2012

My holiday in pictures

Here you go, some of the pics I clicked on my holiday.



The bride's pretty pretty alta-ed anklet-ed feet. Did you know I have a slight foot fetish? Slight only. Very leetle.



The Pavizhamalli flower that forms a carpet of white and orange at the entrance of my mom's ancestral home in Nadapuram.





The grand old Madatthil house in Nadapuram.




In Kerala, when it rains, it RAINS. (Madatthil courtyard)

Sigh... Sun Temple.




One of the structures in the Sun Temple grounds.


Chandrabaga Beach



...and a bonus pic! The chilli chicken that I made on Sunday. :)

July 3, 2012

Odisha, Kerala, Chennai, a wedding, four train journeys, a death and a pennukaanal

… and that pretty much sums up my 10-day vacation!

Give me a second to catch my breath.

Ok, done.

The past ten days, starting from 21st June, have been a whirlwind. I set off for a much-needed-and-anticipated-since-god-knows-how-long vacation on 21st. Destination: Bhubaneswar. Purpose: Eat dahi bada- alu dum, see a bit of Odisha, and generally have a good time. Actual purpose: Attend the wedding of two of my best buddies, who I fondly refer to as ‘my Marshall and Lily’.

So we- that would be Thusha, Shringi and myself- arrived in Bhubaneswar on 22nd (Thusha’s journey till Hyderabad was an event in itself. Read about it here). Attended the wedding on 24th (got slightly bored after the reception because seriously, three hours of puja in the middle of the night? Dude!!:/ Thankfully, we got to do a lot of nautanki before that) visited the Sun Temple at Konark on the 25th (pic below) binged on a lot of Odiya food, whined and complained about the humidity, and made a new friend.



We said ta ta bye bye to Odisha on 26th. My original plan was to go to TVM to attend yet another wedding of another best friend. But while I was travelling, I got the news that my grandma (Amma’s mom) passed away. So from Chennai, from where we had to take a connecting train to Kerala, I went to Trichur instead of TVM, and then to Vadakara.

Nadapuram, in Vadakara, is where my mom’s ancestral home is. A huge old sprawling house. Many of my relatives had gathered there by the time I reached. I was meeting some of them after ages. It felt good to be back among them. It was three days of nonstop chatter, never-ending supply of food and snacks, sitting on the front porch and watching the rain for hours (I got to witness the Kerala monsoon in all its glory. One word. Gorgeous), sleeping at 11 PM (the first day there, I slept off at 10. That’s like a record for me!), just crashing wherever there is space available, and loads of laughter. I ate the simplest and yet the most delicious Mallu food. I think it’s something to do with the water there. The food was simply too good. Manavi the brat has grown up now. She’s taller, naughtier and cuter than ever. And her tantrums also last longer. :D

I got to experiment with my camera a lot. I’m posting this from office right now, so I don’t have any of the pics. Shall upload them in another post soon.

So yes, that was my vacation, if I can even call it that. The days went by in a blur, and I don’t want to travel in a train for some time now. I’m so freaking tired, I need another mini-vacation to recover from this one. :/ But all said and done, I had a great time. I got back to Hyderabad yesterday.

Oh the pennukaanal? Why don’t I hang on to that info and tell you guys in another post? :p (Yes I know, I can be a real pain).

For the non-mallus, pennukaanal literally means ‘girl-seeing’, where the girl has to behave all shy and demure in front of prospective in-laws. Rest assured, I was anything but shy and demure. But like I said, more on that later! :)

June 7, 2012

For the greater good

So I have this really bad habit. Whenever things are going smoothly in my life, instead of accepting it gracefully, I start questioning it. “Why is everything going so smoothly? Why are things fine? Shouldn’t something have gone wrong by now?” No, I’m not a pessimist. I’ve just been conditioned by experience. I’ve learnt the hard way that after showering me with truckloads of happiness, the dude up there will most likely dump an equal number of truckloads of crap on me. So it’s not pessimism or cynicism. Just caution.

As a result, I have ended up getting suspicious about even the slightest bit of goodness that comes my way. I went through a difficult break-up a few months back. Difficult is actually an understatement. I managed to come out of it emotionally battered, but alive (and miraculously, without taking to the bottle), mainly because of my family and friends. That’s why I was off the radar for a while back then. I just didn’t have the will to write. I did try writing, but whatever I wrote was too depressing even for me to read. I didn’t want to spread the depression on my blog as well. Instead, I wrote in my diary, cried non-stop for a few weeks, vented out to my friends, and managed to survive.

And then I decided to stop crying and torturing myself. Because I knew that I had given my best to the relationship. I had given it my two hundred percent, and I was ready to give it more. I was in love, after all. I had told my folks about it, they had accepted it. They weren’t ecstatic about it, but had accepted it for my happiness (I have the best family in the world, I tell you). And when it was his turn to convince his family, he couldn’t do it. He tried, I know he did. But I could see that he was tired of fighting. So I decided to end his misery as well as mine, and called it off. I think he was waiting for me to do the same…

So yes, that ended. From thinking “I cannot live without him”, I have reached a point where I actually am living without him. And I think I’m doing a pretty darn good job at it. I saw him a few weeks back, at a function. And I was perfectly fine. I guess, to quote Dumbledore, everything happens ‘for the greater good’.

But yes, I have to admit, this break-up has hardened me, more than the previous one did. I don’t trust anything or anyone on face-value anymore. And I’ve realized something very important- It’s not enough if it just ‘feels’ right. It has to go right too, all the way till the end.

And why am I telling you all this now, you wonder? Because even without knowing me personally, you guys have been a source of constant support. I know that if I had written about this break-up at the time it happened, I would’ve got a flood of comments and emails telling me to hang in there, and that everything will be fine. But I went into a shell. I just didn’t want to talk about it.

Now, something good seems to be coming my way. Like a nice warm cup of coffee on a rainy day, a semblance of order and happiness seems to be brewing its way into my life. But old habits die hard, right? As always, I’m finding it hard to accept it. Because everything seems to be running smoothly, a bit too smoothly. It's overwhelming.

Why the hell is it so hard for me to accept that, yes, maybe I do deserve to be happy, after all?

I need blessings and good wishes of each and every one of you. And I also need you to tell me to stop over-thinking, and just accept things happily. Can you do that much for me?

P.S.1:- If all goes well, you guys will be the first to hear about it.

P.S.2:- Aditi and PeeVee, I cannot thank you guys enough for being there for me during that time. You have no idea how much that helped. I hope I can make it up in some way at some time.

May 31, 2012

Quit being a chimney

He was 14 when he first started. He had seen his elder brother and friends do it, and it looked cool. And he wanted to be cool as well. He was a gawky, unattractive teenager. This was the best way to look cool and grab people’s attention, especially girls.

At 14, he looked cool.

At 16, he looked cool.

At 20, he looked cool.

At 22, he looked 30.

At 25, his lips looked like charcoal.

At 30, he looked ill.

At 40, he looked skeletal.

At 45, his lungs looked like tar.

At 50, his corpse didn’t look all that cool.


On World No Tobacco Day, I request all of you who smoke to try and quit smoking. It’s not going to do you any good in the long run. I know what all you smokers say, that it’s hard to quit, we’ve tried, it's not as easy as you think, etc. Well, I believe, if you want something badly enough, you will eventually get it. You just have to try real hard.

Don’t punish your lungs. They don’t deserve it.

Just try, won’t you? Believe me, no girl wants to kiss a mouth full of smoke.

And the girls who smoke, you don’t look any cooler or intellectual. No guy will want to kiss a mouth that looks, and feels, like cardboard. And don't punish your child even before it's born.

And the creative types who think that you can’t get your creative juices flowing without a cigarette, well, then you’re just underestimating your own creativity.

And all those who think that it’s none of my business to say all this, maybe you’re right. It’s none of my business. But since you’re not making it your business, I thought I should make it mine.

May 22, 2012

Orgasm first, foreplay later.

Am I the only one in this world who reads the last few pages of a book first?

Seriously. Why is this so hard for people to digest?

After reading the foreword, acknowledgement, and the first page of a new book, I flip to the last few pages and read the ending. Then I come back to the front again.
Is that really so weird?

Why do I do that?

Because it gives me immense peace of mind in knowing how the book ends, and once I know that, I can happily read the rest of the book. If it’s a sad ending, I’ll be prepared for it. If it’s a happy ending, I’ll be super-duper excited about it.

It’s as simple as that, really! There is nothing to break your head over it! And I really don’t think it’s weird. I think I caught that habit when Maari and I used to read Nancy Drew novels. The last few pages of the novels always used to have a making-out scene. So we used excitedly skip to the end and read those pages. :) I guess the habit just stuck on after that. Every single book that I read, I read the last few pages first, whatever be the genre.

Even with Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince, I read the end first, found out who the prince is and who killed Dumbledore, and then started from the beginning. And the book was just as fascinating for me as it would have been for someone who didn’t know the surprise ending.

A line from When Harry Met Sally comes to my mind when people give me incredulous reactions at this habit of mine. Harry tells Sally, “I read the ending of a book first, so that even if I die without finishing the book, I’ll at least know how it ended”. Or something along these lines.

One of my friends, to whom I happened to mention this during our conversation, described it as similar to “wanting to have an orgasm before the foreplay”. Err.. I don’t think it’s like that AT ALL. :/

Do you guys have any habit like this that seems normal to you, but everyone else considers you cuckoo for it?


P.S:- For all those who eagerly opened the post after seeing the title, so sorry to disappoint you. What can I say, I'm a born tease. :p

May 17, 2012

From Amsi, with love

Be it the time you hit your face on the Luna while diving valiantly to take that catch when we were playing cricket, and you broke a tooth…

Be it the time you burnt your fingers during a flowerpot mishap that Diwali…

Be it all the times we played cricket inside our tiny little 2BHK flat, with a diary for a bat and the front door as the wickets…

Be it the times you took all the brunt of whatever mischief I had done, just because you were the older one…

Be it those countless times when we constantly fought over the phone, or that one single remaining hug-pillow, the twin of which we had hugged away to its ruin…

Be it the n number of movies to which you have let me tag along with you and your friends…

Be it letting me wear your clothes, even though they never fit me properly…

Be it the times we’ve fought over who will get to read the latest issue of Tinkle first, setting our own rule of ‘whoever sees it first gets to read it first’…

Be it the times when I finished off three-fourth of a bottle of Hajmola or a plate of grapes before you even noticed, and then you proceeded to count out the remaining ones and shared it equally…

Be it the way you always put an extra 1000 bucks in my account than what I had asked for…

Be it the fact that all the three phones that I’ve owned till now were sponsored by you, not to mention half my wardrobe…

Be it the way you call me Amsi…

Be it the way you yell at me for doing too much drama…

For all that and more…

I love you more than these mere words can ever express.

You are the best sister anyone could have ever asked for, and I wouldn’t trade you for anything in the world. Well, maybe for an iPhone. But we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it, ok?

Happy 30th to the strongest and most delightful person I know (besides me, of course).

Happy b’day, my dear chech.

May 7, 2012

Clicketty click (55 fiction)

Click.

There. She had finally had the courage to click on that button.

She had finally unfriended him from her Facebook list.

Now to work on removing him from her heart and her mind. If only there was a simple one-click button option available for that.

Unfortunately, there isn’t. That’ll take time. And some faith.

April 30, 2012

On the market

So people, I’m on the market now. The Marriage Market.


Acha made me register on some matrimonial website, with the most decent-looking pic I could find, and one long description about me and about the kind of partner I’m looking for.

I did it just to get Acha off my back, because I'm in no way ready to get married right now. I created the profile and then left it to him to handle it.

Wrong call.

Because what do I see now when I open the account? My dad has sent ‘interest’ to countless moustached Mallu uncles with pot-bellies who are ‘simple guy loves family looking 4 true luv’.

:/

If there are any Mallu guys reading this, then I’m sorry. I really am. But you gotta admit, mallu men are not the best-looking guys on earth. You’ll find one in a hundred. Alright, I admit, I’m not a Vidya Balan myself. I’m short, dusky, wear spectacles, have a large nose that would give even Ganesha ji competition, and as of now, my ‘physical structure’ is ‘average’ rather than ‘slim’. But that doesn’t mean I should get married to a guy who looks older than my dad no?! And yes yes, looks are not the most important thing, it’s the person that matters and blah blah. But hey, I have to spend the rest of my life with the guy. I need to be able to look at his face day in and day out, right? As shallow as this may make me seem, I’m not willing to spend the rest of my life with a guy who resembles an 80’s Mallu movie villain (I’m not exaggerating. My dad actually did send interest to someone who looked like that. And went ahead and got the horoscopes checked also, after which he’s telling me that it matches perfectly and that the ‘party’ is very interested. :/ I told him that while I may not be Miss Universe material, I don’t think I can get married to a guy who looks older than my dad.) I'm not searching for an Adonis either, but at least not someone who considers a moustache to be the ultimate symbol of manhood. I don’t like guys with moustache, unless it’s accompanied by a French beard or stubble. And the worst part is that Mallu men without moustache are hard to come by!

If it’s not the looks, it’s the name. I mean, seriously! What is it with us Malayalis and the fixation for bad names!! There was a slightly interesting profile that I was checking out. Looks ok-ok, job ok-ok, etc. Then I read the name. Shine. :/ Can you even imagine what my kids’ names would be like, with that as a surname? They would sound like the brand names of liquid bleach. Or like the name of a dry-cleaning store! Another guy had a name that was just one letter different from the camera-brand Nikon. I don’t judge him. I judge his parents. Why would they do that to their own flesh and blood?! And don’t even get me started on Mallus and their fixation for the sound ‘sh’ in names. They just love it. while most names are good, some of them are so imaginative, it’s ridiculous.

In my ‘Partner preference’, I’ve given one lamba-chauda list of requirements, not at all on the lines of ‘seeking groom from good family background’. There’s actually a long list of things, starting from ‘preferably a Nambiar, so that I don’t have to change my surname’ to ‘someone who loves Calvin and Hobbes’. I think most of them got scared away just reading that. :/ Because no one seems to be falling for me. No one good, anyways. :(  The ones who do show some interest make me want to become a nun.

One dude (or whoever created his profile) replied to my dad’s message- “Dear father please give clear and polite partner preference and please remind this to your daughter and marriage is not at all a business deal”. It isn’t? Then why was he paying money to look for a partner on the internet? :/ Well, actually I'm not surprised he responded like that, because in my ‘About me’, I've written “My forte is humour and satire, so if you don’t get sarcasm, chances are you won’t like me at all”. Well, I was right about that, wasn’t I?!

Another guy who expressed in me claims to be a blogger, but also mentions that we can’t find his blog by typing his name. Seriously, dude? And his paragraphs were like loose motion- no full stop, comma, or punctuations of any sort.

Ok, so maybe proper grammar is hardly the thing you look for in a prospective life partner. There are a lot of other things that matter, like income, family background, personality, etc. But it matters to me! I tend to judge people based on their grammar and how well they can write. WHAT do I do about it?! Do you think I’ll die alone, surrounded by grammar books? :(

And a couple of them had the nerve to send me friend request on FB. Did they REALLY think I would accept their request? Seriously?! Damn you, FB!

I think my dad truly believes that the world will indeed come to an end in December 2012. I can’t see any other reason why he would be in a hurry to get me married off to one of those. I would rather die single than Mrs. Thick Moustache.

Damn. It does look like I’ll die all alone in a room surrounded by grammar books, no? :/

April 24, 2012

Et tu, Brute?

Dear blogger,

Life hasn’t been all that kind to me lately. 2012 isn’t exactly what I can call ‘a walk in the park’. It’s been just four months, but I already feel like taking VRS. True, I finally took that vacation I’d been wanting to, and had a fab time in Goa with my friends. I spent all the time I wanted to at the beach, sat by the sea in the moonlight, finally did parasailing and a few other water sports, got dunked into the water and thought that I had died, got a temp tattoo (which washed off in two weeks instead of staying for a month. Apparently, not taking a bath too often would’ve helped it stay longer. Yes, brilliant idea. That too at the peak of summer), got burnt to a crisp because of the heat, wore shorts to my heart’s content and ate a lot of seafood.

Sorry, what was I talking about again?

Ah yes, 2012. So yes, as I was saying, 2012 hasn’t gotten off to a great start. Too many things have changed, and there’s more to come. You know what I’m talking about, right? People have done an about-turn, circumstances decided to change without giving me proper notice, and Hyderabad is so unbearably hot, I could weep.

I understand that change is constant. Change is mandatory. It may or may not be for the good, but it’s mandatory. It’s what propels life forward. I get all that jazz.

Whenever I open my FB account, I get scary visions of the timeline profile that will apparently be made mandatory soon. FB keeps asking me if I want to switch to it, but I ignore it. Because I DON’T want it. I’m happy with my profile the way it is. I don’t have any life-changing events worth time-lining. Unless you count winning the skipping race in 2nd standard.

But then, I’m not much on FB these days anyway, so I figured, maybe it won’t be the worst thing if the timeline becomes mandatory. I always have the option of quitting, right? Right.

A couple of months back, your clan gave me a scare, saying that they’re going to upgrade to some new profile thingy. You and your elder bro (or sis or dad or mom, whatever) Gmail said that you guys are also going to change. I didn’t take it seriously. I was like “Arre, ye tho apne hai, nahi badalenge”. So in true Hyderabadi style, maine light liya.

Lo and behold, a few weeks back, when I opened my gmail, it had gotten a makeover. It didn’t look too complicated, so after the initial panic attack, I calmed down. “Chalo koi nahi, at least blogger tho nahi badla ab tak”, I thought.

Saale kameene! Tu ne bhi dhoka diya! Who told you to change without asking me! Just because I haven’t blogged in a while and haven’t even logged in for a few days, this is how you take revenge? By turning into this super-complicated thing that I’m just not able to make head or tails of. Yesterday it took me almost half a day to figure out how to publish one comment. God only knows how long it’ll take me to publish this post after I’ve finished typing it in Word.

I’m not pleased, dude. Not at all pleased. You can expect many more hate-mails from me. Do NOT mark me under spam.

Not-all-that-sincerely-but-whatever,
A very miffed Spiff.

***

Here's a Dil Chahta Hai-esque pic from my vacation, taken at Chapora Fort.
That's Anand, Chitra, Roro, me and Vijish.

I wish I could've taken a pic of the moonlit beachside at 2:00 AM, but neither words nor a picture can capture that breathtaking sight. Trust me.

ETA: You remember my friend Rohan, the guy who takes the most awesome photographs (some of which are there in my header)? He lost his cam in Goa. It's like losing a part of himself. We honestly cannot imagine him without his cam. The pic above was taken with his cam, in self-mode. Pray for his cam and pray that whoever stole it has non-stop loose motions day and night.

March 28, 2012

To share or not to share

(This article was originally published in ignitink.com)

To share or not to share...

Is that the question? Are you in a dilemma? Let me help you out then.
Don’t.

I’ll tell you why in a moment. But before I tell you why, let me ask you something. What was the original purpose of Facebook? Or of social networking in general, for that matter? To connect with friends, acquaintances, colleagues, etc., right? To get back in touch with long-lost buddies, to share photos, perhaps? Ok, fair enough.

Now back to why I said ‘don’t’. Because yesterday, when I was browsing FB, someone had shared a picture of a girl who was smiling at the camera with both her arms lifted and held behind her head, a thick foliage of under-arm hair jumping out of the pic and grabbing my eyeballs. No, I’m not kidding or exaggerating.

A lot of images get shared on FB, nothing new there. The main reasons that pictures get shared on FB are:-

a) They are genuinely interesting

b) They convey a message

c) They are trying to spread awareness

d) They have images of cute things like babies, puppies etc.

e) All of the above.

Trust me when I tell you that this particular pic was secret option f) none of the above. It was Just. Plain. Gross.

Now don’t get me wrong. Shaving or not shaving armpit hair is entirely one’s own personal choice. And I have no right to comment on that. But as a Facebook user myself, I think I do have the right to say that these days, anything and everything gets shared in the name of ‘social networking’.

Let’s face it, the standard of Facebook has gone down the drain. It has become a playground for a lot of frustrated losers to grab attention by posting *searching for the right word to express disgust* pictures. I didn’t bother to open the above-mentioned photo and check the comments and likes, but the caption did not in any way signify that the picture was about women-empowerment. It makes me sad that I’m actually part of a society that houses such idiotic people, and I’m referring to all of them involved- the girl who posed for the picture, the person who clicked it and posted it on Facebook, and the people who have shared it.

There was another picture that shook me today- of dogs being cut up and sold at a butcher shop. Really? Is that the kind of thing that you want to share on FB? I log in first thing in the morning, and I see chopped heads of dogs on my homepage. Not only is my day ruined, but my lunch and dinner is too. Thank you very much. Again, I didn’t open the full pic to see what the caption or comments were, but it is easily anyone’s guess that it would be extremely racist towards a particular ethnic group’s eating habits.

Facebook has slowly moved on from being merely a social networking site. It now looks like Baba Zuckerberganand’s ashram (have you not noticed the influx of philosophical and inspirational quotes that get shared as images), the headquarters of Zuckerberg’s Army (want to fight a cause? Post it on FB), the office Beware of Girls Society (images of random girls with cautionary messages like “Beware of girls, they are cheats”) etc. The other day, there was an image of a rather plump girl dancing, and someone had shared it captioning it “Kutti Aana” (Small elephant). I’m not sure what purpose that person was trying to achieve by posting that image, but maybe he/she should realize that the girl is probably somebody’s girlfriend/wife/sister/mother/friend. Who the hell gave them the authority to post her pic without her permission, that too with such a demeaning caption? Would he (yes, I’m pretty sure it was a guy who posted it) like it if his mother’s photo came up one fine day on Facebook, with the caption “Beware of cougars”? Girls may or may not smoke, that is their choice. But that does not make them bitches. And it definitely does not give anyone the right to post a picture of three girls smoking, and then give a story underneath it about some girl who broke a guy’s heart.

My problem is not with these dumb fools wanting to spread a message. My problem is with using photos of girls who might actually be having a real life (and a Facebook account), and then passing it around with fake messages. What would happen if the girls’ prospective grooms see these pictures? Their life is pretty much ruined!

Oh and don’t even get me started on the “Share if u luv your mother, scroll if u dnt!” “Share if you love your father, scroll if you don’t!” “Share if you love your kaamwali bai, give her an extra load of clothes to wash if you don’t!” messages. Instead of sharing such crap, use that time to actually tell your mother that you love her. She might appreciate that a lot more, trust me.



Let me make it very clear, my issues are not with ‘sharing’. Sharing can be a good thing too. A lot of awareness can be spread about issues by spreading the word. Maybe missing people can be found by sharing their pictures. But there is a difference between “Sharing because it’s share-worthy” and “Sharing for sharing’s sake and because I bloody well can and I want to grab attention. Oh and I’m very jobless too.”

Yes yes, I know. I sound like a nag. And if this piece gets shared on FB, it’ll probably get comments like “Go woman. V’l shr if v luv, scroll if v dnt. Wats yr prblm?” My problem is that in spite of having so many problems with FB, I still can’t get myself to quit it. I had quit once, but returned in a few months. We share a very “I hate you (like I love you) relationship.

But the larger problem is that social networking has gone beyond being just a means of making friends and staying in touch, and has moved on to become a way to take out your frustrations and take revenge. Remember the incident where a guy announced on FB that he had dumped his girlfriend, and the girl promptly went and killed herself? People take the “What’s on your mind” thing way too seriously. I think it’s time FB took some very serious screening steps. Because the day is not far when Facebook will make the complete transition into Fucked-up-Book.

Ok, now I’m off to shave my legs. I don’t want to open my FB tomorrow and see “Lolllllzzzzzzzzzzzz: 289 shares: 659 likes: 2120 comments” on a pic of a very familiar-looking pair of legs.

March 21, 2012

Q&A

Yet another tag. Ya, I know it's starting to feel like the only writing I'm doing these days is for tags. But tags are fun. And it gives me a chance to write at least something. So bear with me once more, ok?

Visha from zackandme tagged me with this. And she also gave me the freedom to flout the rules. Yay. What fun.

So I'm going to skip the '11 things about me' part, because even I'm getting bored of writing about myself. I'm heading straight to the '11 questions'.

1) Early riser or late sleeper?
Late sleeper. I can't sleep anytime before 12. I think I got that from Amma. Most days, it's 1-2 by the time I go to bed. And then I wake up late in the morning and rush to work. I tried going to bed early, by 12, a few times. I tossed and turned for a long time and finally fell asleep only around 2. Gah.

2) Holiday on a beach or a mountain?
Hmm.. Can't I have both? The best thing would be if it's a cottage on top of a cliff overlooking a beach. I wanna live in such a place. But if I simply have to choose, I would choose beach. I love beaches. Maybe because I grew up in a city that has three beaches. I love the idea of waking up to the music of waves. Isn't is a lovely sound? The vastness and mystery of the sea awes me.

3) List the cities in which you have lived so far.
Let's see.. Ernakulam (I spent most of my time in the hospital while here), Pune (for two years. Again, hospitals. My asthma was at its peak here), Trivandrum (the city that has seen me grow, live, love, fail, succeed, everything), Hyderabad (the city that I adopted. That embraced me and welcomed me with open arms. It has taught me how to survive. Not live. Survive).
Other than this, I had done my two-months internship in Bangalore way back in 2008, so I was pretty much living there.

4) What kind of music do you like?
Mainly, whatever sounds pleasing to my ears. I LOVE old hindi songs. I'm a bollywood music fan. I also love songs that are accompanied by beautiful lyrics. Precisely why I love old hindi songs. I listen to a bit of English music too- Pink Floyd, The Doors, etc. Ilove singing along to songs, so lyrics are very important.
Oh and to contradict myself, I also love Bollywood item numbers that have absolutely rubbish lyrics. :P Current favourite- Anarkali Disco Chali. Mereko bhi disco chalna!

5) How many BFFs do you have?
I can't count my friends as numbers. Not because there are too many to count, but because I just can't. Let's just say I have enough to make me feel I'm one of the luckiest person on earth.

6) Which is the last movie you saw?
Kahaani. Well, technically, the last movie I saw was Jodi Breakers, but then I saw Kahaani for a second time after that. Thank god. (Have you seen Jodi Breakers? Don't. Seriously).

7) What is the name of your first school?
My first school was Kendriya Vidyalaya Southern Command, Pune.
I went to a kidergarten before that called Greenwood, in Pune itself.

8) What is the first thing which comes to your mind when you hear these words – ‘first love’?
Teenage. School. Diary. Shy glances. Holding hands secretively. Happiness. Principal's room. Tears. A lifetime of memories, good and bad.

9) What is the first thing you notice when you go to any restaurant?
The lighting. I'm not very fond of restaurants that have very dim lighting. Makes me feel I'm in a sleazy bar. I need to see what I'm eating. I also notice how long it takes for someone to come and attend to us.

10) List the most inspiring bloggers according to you
That's not a fair question. There are too many to list. So I'm gonna take the safe route and say 'Everyone I follow'. They have all inspired me in some way or the other, be it by their language, vocabulary, the ease with which they can write about anything under the sun, their dedication. Or simply by how encouraging they are.

11) Blogging to you is…….
Therapeutic. Cathartic. Addictive. A vent. A platform.

I'm not gonna tag anyone. Because no one that I tagged in my previous tag did it. Katti. Hmph.

March 13, 2012

Familybook

My parents aren’t exactly the most tech-savvy, you know. I guess that goes with most people from their generation. We grew up with computers. They grew up with typewriters. We grew up with email. They grew up with snail-mail. We grew up with landlines and cellphones. They grew up with trunk calls and “kambli pothappu!

My mom grew up and studied in Bangalore, Chennai, Kolkata (Calcutta then), etc., but still, she has absolutely no interest in technology. Or rather, she never used to. My sister and I have tried our level best to teach her how to use the computer, but other than we losing our patience, there was no real progress. It’s not exactly rocket science, no? All she had to do was put in some time and effort. But how will she learn when five minutes after we’ve made her sit down in from of the system, she’ll run to the kitchen because she had forgotten she’d kept milk on the stove? One time, I had forgotten to switch the system off in the morning before going to college, and mom called me to tell me that there is ‘some light coming from the screen’ (yes, that’s how she described it). So I tried telling her how to switch it off. In two minutes, my entire class had come to know that I had left the computer on before coming to college. I think she finally called the girl living next door to come and switch it off. She couldn’t operate the TV remote to save her life. She would keep pressing some buttons, hoping to change the channel, but by the time she figured it out and found the correct channel, the programme would’ve ended. She could never figure out how to use a cellphone, it was just too complicated. That she uses a Blackberry now is an entirely different matter and story. My dad got it from his office. He didn’t like the QWERTY keypad, so he gave it to Amma. When I asked her if I can take her Blackberry and give her my old phone, she said that she’s ‘so used to Blackberry, she doesn’t feel like using any other phone’. :/ This, coming from the woman who used to send ten blank messages before finally getting one right. She’s damn cute, I tell you.

My dad grew up in a tiny little village in North Kerala, studied in a Malayalam medium school, saw a city for the first time only when he joined teaching college in Mysore, and for 20-25 of his 38 years of career, did all the paper work and filing manually. But he was a lot more open to learning about technology than my mom was. He created an email account, started learning how to type, he learnt how to listen to songs on Youtube. Now he books all his tickets online, sends me mile-long mails sometimes (when there are burning issues, you see. Both me and dad, not big on talking). Since he was a telecom employee anyway, learning how to use a cellphone was not a big deal for him.

But you know, our generation is a very kutthi cheez. We make fun of the older generation for not knowing how to use technology, but soon as they learn it, we realize they were better off not knowing it. Oh you know what I’m talking about. We’ve all been through it. We don’t want them to know how to use cellphones so that they won’t check the messages in our inbox. We have gotten away with so many stories like “That was not a call, that was my alarm” when the phone rang in the dead of the night (no prizes for guessing who would call at that time). We don’t want to give our passwords to them in case they want to check something important, because the passwords would invariably be the name of a current crush. I remember when we were groom-hunting for my sis, her account in keralamatrimony was registered under my email id. And I used to regularly monitor it. Acha and I would sit together at night and go through the profiles. It was all going smoothly till Acha called me from office one day and asked me for my Yahoo password. Why? Because he wanted to check the email of some prospective groom immediately, that had been sent to my id. Now how can I say a no when my own dad asks me for the password? If I say no, that’ll mean that I’m hiding something. If I say yes, well, he’ll see my inbox, and even though my password was no one’s name and there was nothing suspicious in my inbox, I was just not comfortable with it. I used to get a lot of forwarded emails, some of which contained adult jokes, and I obviously wouldn’t want my dad to see them, right?!! So I tried to stall it, saying that I’ll check the mail and tell him what the contents were. But he insisted, so I gave him the password. Then I quickly switched on the computer, logged in to my account, and changed the password. So when my dad tried to log in, he couldn’t. He called me to ask what was wrong and why he wasn’t able to log in. I pretended to be confused. “What, you can’t log in? But I’m able to. Don’t know what’s wrong. Anyway, here’s the mail you were talking about. Take down the number…”. And then I quickly changed the password again. Ya I know, sneaky little liar.

But we got over all that with time. I was happy and proud that Amma had finally managed to learn how to send SMSes and that Acha didn’t have to wait in long queues to book tickets.

Until one fine day, dad asked me about my blog. He knew I wrote in a blog, so he asked me to send him the link. I said I will, but I never did. Because I don’t want him to read it. I don’t think he’ll be able to handle the fact that his darling little daughter drinks vodka and has been in relationships. Nope, no sir! So when I go home, I open my blog, show him and Amma a few posts, so that they’ll know that I do write, and quickly close it down before they can spot anything scandalous.

Then he asked me about Facebook. I very excitedly told him that it’s this supercool thing where you can keep in touch with people. He asked me to create an account for him the last time I went home. I ahemed and aahed and changed the subject. I definitely do not want him on my Facebook list. No no no no no no no no no.

And then, yesterday, I open my FB, and see a new friend request from one Mr. Ramachandran Nambiar. For a second I wasn’t sure who it was, because that’s not how my dad writes his name usually. He writes it with his initials and not with the ‘Nambiar’ surname. There was no pic either. So I figured it must be someone else, and, hoping against hope, opened the profile to check out the details.

Sure enough:- Worked at: BSNL. Studied in: Nirmalagiri College. One mutual friend (a family friend, who probably helped him create the account).

The request is still pending.

March 12, 2012

The one with all the other posts

Srinidhi tagged me with this. It's a bit like an award-distribution for my own posts. So here goes:-

1) Your most beautiful post
That strange thing called memory
Has to be this one. Maybe because it is something very personal. Maybe because I think I've written it well. Or maybe because the subject of the post was, and I still consider him, a beautiful human being.

2) Your most popular post
The Esssential Mallu-food guide for non-Mallus
I can categorize my life as a blogger into two eras. Pre-Mallu Food Guide and Post-Mallu Food Guide. In the Pre era, I was pretty much talking to myself out here. I didn't have too many readers, and whoever read my blog used to read it mainly because I used to badger them too. And post the mallu food guide, well, you all know how that went. It is still the most popular post of my blog. The stats confirm it too.

3) Your most controversial post
I’m no Madrasan. None of my posts have been controversial as such. I prefer to keep a one-arm distance from controversy. What might come close to it are these two- Back on track and The One year itch. Not so much because of the content, but because of the comments on it.

4) Your most helpful post
Sarcastically: How to eat a Mallu Wedding-Sadhya: a step-by-step guide.
Seriously: probably Blogging Etiquettes.

5) A post whose success surprised you.
…that it’s just meant to be.
I honestly hadn't expected so many people to like it and actually relate to it.

6) A post you feel didn’t get the attention it deserved
Happy Mother's Day, Shree.
But I guess I can't really complain, because this was much too personal and subjective a post.

7) The post you’re most proud of
a) The Mallu-food guide
b) That strange thing called memory
c) This one’s for you, because this was my first short story ever.
d) I'm a girl, because I think almost every girl can identify with it. And this was one of my first attempts at sarcasm/humour, even before the food guide.

Ok, so that's done!

Now I have to tag other bloggers to do the same. I don't know how many exactly, so I'm tagging randomly. I tag:

Nirvana
Destiny's Child
Atrocious Scribblings
fucklove
Rahul
Nags
Sumitra

And anyone else who wants to do the tag can do so. Have fun!

March 5, 2012

Yappie yappie byerthdaai

Birthday celebrations in my office- or rather, of the team that I’m remotely a part of- are very jolly affairs you know. Like, fun in all caps.



Here’s how it usually goes.

There I’ll be, working/sleeping/browsing away at my desk, when someone will come and inform “Divya, so-and-so’s birthday today. Cake cutting in pantry. Come.” So I get up after ten minutes and three reminders, and go to the pantry, all set for a mini-party.

There will be about 15 people there, all solemnly standing, like how we used to stand in school during Martyr’s Day, observing one-minute silence. Heads slightly bent downward, hands tied in the front. You got the picture no? Some of them will be looking at the floor, some at the cake. So I’ll also join this merry group. The person whose birthday it is will be recognizable only because he/she will be standing in front of the cake, not because they look even remotely excited that it’s their birthday and that a bunch of people ordered cake for him/her. After standing like this for two minutes, someone in the crowd will try to crack a sad joke, asking the birthday boy/girl/uncle to cut the cake. So out comes one shiny plastic see-through knife, with a red bow around it.

First cut through the cake- silence.

Second cut through the cake- silence.

Once the first piece has been successfully cut, someone from the audience will remember and start a feeble rendition of “Happy birthday to you, happy birthday to you”. So lively is the singing that it’ll seem as though the song was originally a mourning song and somewhere over the years, someone swapped the lyrics. We’ll all clap also, for formality. We all have mehendi on our hands, so we can’t clap all that loudly and all, ok.

Then the birthday person will look for the nearest mouth to thrust the cake into. Since no one’s really close to anyone in the group, the most senior person there gets this honour. If that boss type person is not there, then whoever is standing closest gets lucky.

Now comes the best part. Small paper plates are passed around, with cake and potato chips. For the next five minutes, all you can hear is *munch munch crunch crunch random conversation munch crunch nice cake crunch crunch*. I’m not exaggerating. All you can hear is the crunch of the potato chips. And everyone’s looking studiously into their plates, because, you know, there’s a difficult maze to work your way around to get to the goodies. Since there is no conversation happening, everyone finishes their plate soon and looks around. You remember how, when you’re writing as exam and you finish early, you always wait for someone else to give in the paper first, just so it doesn’t make you look bad? Same scene here. Everyone waits for someone else to go take the second helping of cake and chips. More often than not, that person would be me. Ya, I can be shameless like that. Then a second round of potato-chips crunching. Once in a while, if you happen to catch someone’s eye by accident, customary smiles are also exchanged.

Oh I forgot to mention- the cake facial also happens. And while the facial is being done, the birthday person will be standing there with no expression or reaction whatsoever- no protest, no laughing, no struggle. Just merely standing there, as though it’s not cake but haldi-&-cream that’s being applied for their wedding.
Second round of eating also over. Now unless you want to seem like a glutton, you decide not to take a third helping. So there really is no point in hanging around anymore either, right? So I look at the birthday person, give a big smile, wish happy birthday, crack the same joke I crack every single time about how we’re all eating but forgot to wish the person (which, surprisingly elicits, the same kind of painful laughter every time), and scoot from there.

Total fun, right? I know.

So then why do I go to these ‘parties’, when it’s so much fun (NOT), you ask?

Because, like Saif Ali Khan once said, “Cake khaane ke liye hum kaheen bhi jaa sakte hai!”

February 19, 2012

Deep Red Love

[This post was previously titled Mehen'died', but I decided to change it, because one of my readers thought that it was about a girl named Mehen who died. :) Also, I didn't like the title much myself]

She gazed at her henna-stained hands. At the deep red, almost-black colour, the intricate and elaborate design. She brought her palms up to her face and breathed in the fragrance of the mehendi deeply. “Aah…”



She had always loved mehendi. She loved the fragrance of it (that most people hated), she loved how the wet mehendi felt so cold against her palms, she loved how beatiful the dark-green colour paste looked on her palms, she loved how the colour turned from a dull orange to a deep maroon overnight. Her hands never used to be henna-free. Soon as the colour started fading, she would mix a fresh batch, make a cone out of empty milk packets, add tea decoction to it (for the colour), and apply it meticulously to her left hand. She would dab it with a lemon juice-sugar mixture once it dried, and she would do it at regular intervals. She would sleep with her left hand outstretched, so as to not stain her mom’s freakishly clean bed-sheets. And then she would excitedly jump out of bed the next morning and run to scrub the dried sticky mehendi off. By the next day, the colour would have deepened. She was famous in her school for her perpetually henna-stained hands.

But more than anything, she loved how the mehendi depicted the idea of marriage. She had seen hundreds of brides with their henna-stained hands, glowing on their wedding day. She hardly noticed the colour of their sari or the shine of their jewels. The first thing she noticed was their hands. And if the bride was someone she knew very well, she wouldn’t hesitate to take their hands and take in the fragrance of the mehendi. She couldn’t wait for her own wedding so that she could apply elaborate, intricate designs on both her hands and feet. Somehow, others just didn’t get how heavenly the smell was. To her, it smelled of hope, love, happiness. It symbolized the future. It symbolized the warmth of the man she loved.



“If the colour of your mehendi turns out to be very dark, your husband will love you very much”, her cousins had giggled. She sat there, gazing at her palms, at the deep red colour that matched the colour of the deep red Kancheevaram wedding saree that she was wearing.

But today, the mehendi didn’t smell of hope or love or happiness. It smelled of broken dreams, broken hearts and broken lives. Of promises that couldn’t be kept and moments that couldn’t be forgotten. Of compromises and apologies. Of a future that was unimaginable and a warmth that could not be replaced. She felt weighed down by the weight of the sari, the jewelry and the jasmine flowers that decorated her hair.

She took one last look at his message before deleting it from her inbox and her life. “I’m sorry, for everything. For entering into your life, for falling in love with you, for giving you hope. But I had to let you go. Maybe in another life, another birth… Take care, be happy, and always remember that I love you like no one else can love you. You deserve the best, and I’m sure your husband will give you just that. Love…”

But she couldn't delete it. Would deleting a message help her delete him from her heart or her mind? She saved the message to another folder, like how she had saved everything about him, about them together, to a folder named 'Past', and got up from the chair. It was time for the muhurtham. Time for her to move on to her future. Time for her to get married to the man who the Gods of Mehendi had predicted will love her a lot, because the colour says so.