February 24, 2011

Dear Diary...

Back home from office, I had made up my mind to read and not waste time watching movies or FRIENDS yet again on my laptop. While browsing through my bookshelf, I came across it, hidden beneath the pile of books, as though it was a secret I wished to fiercely guard. My old diaries. Ah, I’ve spent so many Dear Diary moments with them.

I didn’t maintain a diary for many years. Just two- three, I think, that too sporadically. I was inspired by Betty from Archie Comics and started every entry with “Dear Diary…” And reading through them, I realised why I decided to stop writing them. They were much too dangerous. A personal diary attracts other people to it like a flame does a moth, especially if you tell them “Don’t read that. That’s my personal diary.”

When I was in school, and my teenage romance had come out in the open creating a furore, my (then) boyfriend and I decided to stop talking in school and used to communicate via a diary, with the help of a friend. It was fun, now that I think of it. The relationship may have ended long back, but I can never forget writing in the diary :). The excitement when our mutual friend came to me and handed me my little book of love, going home and waiting for mom to have her afternoon siesta just so that I could sit and read it in peace. And then elaborately writing a reply. Our hopes, our dreams, our angst, that little book was witness to all that. Then we broke up, but for some reason, I didn’t discard that diary. I forgot about it, tucked away inside an old backpack where I’d saved a lot of other stuff like greeting cards (whatever happened to that grand old tradition, I wonder), Dairy Milk wrappers, gifts, etc. Then one fine day, when I was in college, my mom happened to find it. And there it came, the tears. “What is that?? Why? When?” I explained to her that it was a long, long time ago, and that the book, along with its co-author, was a closed chapter in my life. Thankfully, she believed me. I didn’t waste much time in destroying the diary.

After that, I was a bit more careful with my diaries, even though I was the sole author of the following ones. My crushes. My relationships, my ‘It’s Complicated’s- they’re all there. My entire last year in college, the person I had briefly become (When I read the diary for that year, I’m amazed at that Divya. Who was she? Do I know her anymore? I think not. She was a much more sensitive person than I am now). And then my endearing words about my last guy. That break-up would’ve been impossible to journal or write about, which is why I never tried. If I feel much too strongly about something, I cannot write about it. And putting it into words would mean reliving it, which I don’t want to do. That chapter also is closed, sealed shut.

I’ve never been one to express myself vocally. I fail miserably when it comes to that. I will probably end up cracking a joke(a lame one, while I’m at it) and hurting the other person. Be it with my friends, or my family, I can never tell them how much they mean to me. What I can do, is write. That’s the only thing I’ve been good at. So whenever possible, I write it and try to convey it to them. In the form of little notes, mails, forwards on books (I make it a habit to write a few lines on a book before I gift it to somebody, and my friends do the same for me. I love that.), or dedications on blogs. Even now, I may have stopped the practise of maintaining a daily journal, but I carry a notebook and a little diary with me all the time. And in them I scribble down, lyrics that I like, poems that I find good, proverbs I like, thoughts that I have. Because, no matter how much of an e-citizen I may be, I still find pleasure in putting pen (or pencil) to paper. The beginning of short stories, a random line that came to my mind but doesn’t really fit in anywhere, they all go into my diary and notebook. I had been out with a couple of my friends, and when I opened my bag, they saw my little diary. They asked why I carry it around, and I frankly told them “To write down something if I feel like it, no matter where I be.” They found it a little amusing, but having known me for so long, they weren’t surprised.

I continue to collect diaries and interesting notebooks. I have a friend who makes it a point to buy me interesting notebooks whenever he finds one. I do not write daily stuff in them. Just quotes and lyrics and all. And some very personal stuff. There is joy in writing that. And even greater joy in taking it up later and re-reading it.

I continue to collect diaries, in the hope that someday, I will open it and write, “Dear Diary, Guess what…

February 23, 2011

Ain't no matter if you're black 'o' white

I grew up in the Fair & Lovely era, like many of you. I was part of the generation that was obsessed with being fair, least of all in spirit.

You know what I’m talking about. We’ve all been through it. Wanting to look fair and lovely. There was a time when I’ve experimented with every damn face cream in the market, or anything that would make my skin lighter. I was obsessed, to say the least. Because in my eyes, being fair was equivalent to being beautiful. And can you blame me? My sister was fair, my mom was fair, her entire family was fair. I took up on my dad’s genes, in every sense. I inherited his looks (lucky him, right? I know), his skin-colour, his adamancy. Sadly (or not, now that I look back) I didn’t inherit his genius for science. I tried my hand at it, but we all know how that went.

I can’t exactly put my finger on what triggered off this obsession with being light-skinned, or when it started. All I remember is tubes of fairness creams, tins of talcum powder and hours spent in front of the mirror. It’s not like my parents ever treated me lesser because I was darker than my sister was. Neither did I get picked on at school by my fairer friends or get excluded at games. No teacher left me out of cultural activities just because I probably needed an extra layer of make-up on me. Yes, mild jibes would come once in a while, but nothing that was life-scarring or anything.

I guess it was the typical Indian psyche that I acted on. There were so many ads on TV that showed the dark-skinned girl left behind in the race of life and love, and the fair-skinned beauty rising up to the occasion and claiming her spot at the top of the world, that I also wanted to be that confident fair girl. The girl who will always be confident about her looks, the girl who will have a line of boys behind her, the one who realizes all her dreams, the one who gets recognized. And then three were the popular girls in school who were fair and popular and had the maximum number of guys vying for their attention. I didn’t want to be left behind. I used to do everything possible in my ability (and my dad’s pocket) to be that girl. If anyone suggested a face pack that would be good for my skin, I’ll use it. If there’s a new cream that’s being shown on ads, I’ll have it soon as it is out in the market. I would read obsessively about beauty tips and how to make your skin look better. I would not eat vegetable or fruits, but would rather put them on my face. If my mom had trouble making me eat any, she would say, “It’s good for your skin”, and it would go in instantly. (She still tries that old trick with me. What can I say. Your daughter's grown up, Mommy!)

Then as I grew older, I realized that the colour of your skin is of least importance. (And no, I will not go into clich├ęs and say that it is the colour of your heart, not the colour of your skin that matters. Because, well, I’m no authority on that.) To all those people who said “ She’s so pretty, even though she’s dark” with the tone of surprise, I used to bear my fangs and defend my colour sisters. I would say, and still continue to say, “What do you mean, even though she’s dark?? Can’t dark women be beautiful??!’ And then I would go on to take the examples of Nandita Das, Cleopatra, and now, of yours truly :) . I had even considered filing a case against all these fairness cream companies for portraying the whole thing in such a bad light, for making the country a difficult place to live in for the dark ones. For being the main reason why people give matrimonial ads that go “Wanted Bride: Fair and good looking, education doesn’t matter”, “Wanted Bride for Tall, white, handsome boy. Studied till 10th standard. Did we mention white and handsome?”, for being the cause of so many dowry deaths in the country, where the father had to pay a few lakhs extra because his daughter was a tad darker than her husband, and when the money still failed to make her any fairer, they killed her, or worse, for the girl not getting a groom at all.

I’ve learnt to accept my colour, and better still, learnt to love it. The day someone called me dusky, my own skin started to seem exotic to me. I realized I need not worry about having marks on my face, because how much can really be visible on a brown skin. I do not obsess about tanning, nobody’s anyway going to come up to me and say ‘Oh my god, you’ve become so dark!”, because quite frankly, how fair was I in the first place?! I don’t care a damn that my matrimonial ad might not have the words “fair and beautiful” on it, nor do my parents worry about finding a guy for me for the lack of those qualifiers. I used to think that only certain colours would suit me, sticking to mainly greys and blacks and dark colours. But now I go first for the purples and greens and oranges. I do not worry about not getting male attention, because if a guy has to judge me based on my colour, he’s not worth it anyway. Fair may or may not be beautiful, but dark needn’t always be ugly.

And hey, no offense to any of my fair-skinned friends and family. I still think you all are good-looking :). You’re fair, in colour and in spirit.

If Rajnikanth can be a superstar, so can I, eh? ;)

Does anyone remember the song 'Karappu thaan yenakku pudiccha colouru..' ?

February 15, 2011

I'm a girl

I will haggle with the auto driver and vegetable vendor for 5 rupees, but will buy a kajal for 400 bucks.

I will stand in front of a wardrobe full of clothes for twenty minutes and sigh “I have nothing to wear”, and yet, I will refuse to give away any of those clothes.

If someone is ill, I will give them a medicine and tell them to cut the drama and to stop over-reacting, but will bring the universe down if I so much as sneeze.

I will mess up my room if I want, but if someone else walks in and moves even a speck of dust, I will attack.

When I get a craving to eat something, I will pester my friends till they take me to a restaurant, and once there, I will order something entirely different on the menu. And eat two bites and say I’m full.

I will criticize Aishwarya Rai’s nose and Priyanka Chopra’s lips, but will practice the Miss India gasp with a dupatta-made-into-a-sash and a cardboard tiara with Turmeric-and-cream face-pack all over my face in the confines of my room.

Oh that movie that won all those awards? So zzzzzzzzzzz… But I will imagine my hairbrush to be a mike and my Barbie doll to be the statuette and give the thank you speech for that very movie in front of the mirror.

I have no idea who won the Battle of Waterloo or how many years the second world war was fought. But I will know which star couple is getting divorced and that Gerard Butler was yummy in 300.

I will claim to be modern, but If I see a black cat crossing my path,I will freeze and worry about what will go wrong that day. I will also notice that it was a very dirty cat.

If a tramp at the bus-stop letches at me, I will feel violated. If a good-looking guy doesn’t give me a second glance, I will feel offended.

If there are two eggs and a packet of Maggi at home, a typical debate between Me and Myself about what I should have for breakfast on a Sunday morning would go like this- “Hmmm, there are two eggs and a pack of Maggi. What should I have for breakfast? Or should I just skip breakfast altogether and have lunch in a while since it’s already 11. But I’m hungry now, so I guess I will have something to eat now. So should I have the eggs or maggi? If I have eggs now, what’ll I do for lunch, there are no other vegetables at home. Then maybe I’ll have maggi for lunch and eggs now. So how should I have the eggs? Scrambled? Omlette? Poached? Boiled? Scrambled will be nice, but I have no onions at home. So I guess I can’t make omlette either. So then I’ll have poached. But I had poached egg last night also and I’m a little sick of it. Maybe I’ll have Maggi now. But then again, what will I have for lunch?” By which time, it’ll be lunchtime anyway.

High heels are sexy. So what if I have a twisted ankle and have to lie flat on my back because of a bad back for the next five days.

I will talk endlessly and not give anyone peace of mind. But when there is an argument and it is important to communicate and sort things out, I will give them the silent treatment.

I will say ‘I’m fine’ when that’s the last thing I obviously am.

I will say ‘Nothing’ when there is quite clearly something wrong.

If somebody asks me what’s wrong, I will talk about the billboard on the road, the 2g scam, Sonu Sood’s biceps, my grandmother’s fish curry, my neighbour’s kid’s new plastic ship. I will talk about everything but what is wrong.

I will forgive. Not forget.

I will tolerate the first time, the second time, the fifth time, the hundredth time. The 101st time, you’re out of my life.

When I say, “If you don’t know what you did wrong, then I’m not going to tell you”, chances are, even I don’t know what you did wrong.

I may not remember who I went to school with for 12 years, but that cute guy who I had a crush on who lived in the building next to my cousin’s who I visited during the summer holidays all those years ago? I will remember even a mole on his cheek.

If I’m depressed, I will not try to kill myself or get drunk. I will go get a haircut. It’s as simple as that.

If I’m angry with you, I will not even look at your face. Even if you’re a Greek God here on earth for an internship.

I will not remember the lessons I learnt in school, but I will know by rote the lyrics of obscure Hindi songs that no one has even heard of.

Organic chemistry and physics seems ridiculous, but Bollywood movies and crappy reality TV will totally make sense to me.

I may fall in love in an instant, but will take an hour and many choices to decide what I want to have for dinner.

I may lash out at a guy for not wanting to settle down and being commitment-phobic even after years of dating, but if a guy comes along who is very sweet and proposes marriage after a month of dating, I will think there’s something wrong with him and try to shake him off.

If I want to be left alone, I will make sure I take my space. But if a guy does the same, I will think that he doesn’t love me anymore.

I will spell Czechoslovakia in 10 seconds. But it'll take you a lifetime to get a sorry out of me.

If a girl is reserved, she’s mysterious and intelligent. If a guy is reserved, he’s spaced out and a whacko who’s probably a closet rapist.

I will retch after drinking a spoon of cough syrup, but vodka and wine will be next to nectar.

I will generalize.

I’m a girl.

Don’t try to figure my species out.

February 8, 2011

The sound of booze-ic

This was posted on my FB account first. Thought I'll share it here as well. After all, it is my magnum opus. :P

"Dedicated to my dear friend Arun John -

Do,a beer, a pint of beer.

Pray, a drop of old monk rum.

Whiskey,a range,to drown yourself,

Bar,for many the chosen one.

So,a bottle of smirnoff red,

Ha,a peg to drown sorrow,

Eeee,if i go on i'm dead!

And that'l bring us back to...you..oo.oo..

FYI: Please do try to make it to my memorial service. Arun will let you know the details once he's murdered me.Thankyouverymuch"

February 4, 2011

How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?

Things I’m remembering today (in random order):
Warning: This is a long inane post where I'm just rambling. So if you have better things to do, i suggest you skip this. Ok? Ok.

Here we go.

Sneaking up to the terrace of our house in Kochi and stealthily eating the tamarind that mom had put up to dry. The old lady who used to take care of me.
The biscuits that amma used to make. The heavenly aroma when the lid of the oven is lifted. Closing the windows and balcony door of the room obsessiovely before going to sleep because there was a plague fear going around. I was afraid that a rat would bite me when i was asleep and i would get rat fever.
Dad carrying me and walking back and forth, trying to put me to sleep, when I kept them up all night because of my asthma.
Sitting and giggling with Maari all night, when we were supposed to be studying.
I remember the taste of the tomato rice I had in a hospital in Pune 18 years back, that was prepared by a kind by-stander of my neighbour-in-sickness. I’ve never had tomato rice like that ever since.
I remember running outside the door to cough so that my parents won’t get upset seeing how ill I am.
I remember the angst my dad went through each time I puked after having the terrible terrible syrups that he bought with his hard-earned money.
I remember the red and gold chappal I pestered my folks to buy for me off the roadside in Pune. The first time I saw a softie and fell in love with that twirl that forms on the top of the cone, and felt dejected that I was not allowed to have ice creams.
The kindergarten I went to in Pune, Green Woods, with the green and white uniform. The tiny classrooms filled with kids speaking a language that I just couldn’t understand. The blue colour water bottle that doubled as a snack-box too, in which my mom put mixture and biscuits for me. Running to the gate every afternoon when the bell rang, overjoyed at seeing my mom waiting for me to take me back home, and crying inconsolably when she became a little late one day, and her guilty face that she had made me cry. Amma bribing me to eat food with a bunch of green grapes.
The P&T colony where we stayed, which was the first place I learnt skipping. The rat infestation in the house, and subsequently getting a cat to get rid of it. Spending all the time the cat was there, on top of the sofa, because I was shit scared of it. I developed a lifelong revulsion towards cats after that.
Drawing on the walls of that tiny little house with crayons. All four of us sleeping on one single bed. Finally learning to speak Hindi. The red and white hair bands I’ve worn to school always and had become synonymous with. The colourful beads that I got after a lot of yearning and would painstakingly braid onto my hair all the time.

My mom coming to my school to judge a CCA competition.
The first skipping race I won in school, and going beyond the finishing line in my excitement at coming first (I think the momentum had something to do with it as well. Anyways.)
Going for the interview at K.V.Pangode and answering ‘I don’t know’ when the principal asked me what my father’s name is. (Hey, in my defense, my dad’s name is A.K.Ramachandran, and he went and changed my full name to Divya Nambiar when he enrolled me in school. And at that age, as far as I knew, the name that comes after your name is your father’s name, and since I knew that my father’s name definitely wasn’t Nambiar, I was confused! I was six years old, dammit!)
The white shoes my neighbours from Malaysia gave me ( a hand-me-down), which I absolutely fell in love with because it had (gasp!)heels and (another gasp!) a little bow, and I wore it with anything and everything.

The lovely grape wine that my grandma used to make every summer holiday. The big book of Panchathantira that she used to read out loud to us. The milk powder that w used to steal from her shelf.

A rumour that was doing the rounds in my native place one holiday, that there was a muslim woman who’s husband was away in Dubai, and she was so very beautiful, but promiscuous, so when her husband found out about her little side-show he threw acid on her face. That she roamed the town in a burqa, walking into houses and lifting up her veil, and while people stood shocked at her scarred face, she went inside and robbed them. I swear, I’m not making this up. You can check with my sister if you want. That summer, every time I heard the gate of my grandma’s house open, my heart would stop for a sec, and I would refuse to step out once the sun went down.
Falling into the water tank in school in 4th standard, being pushed in actually, me and a friend. Sitting wrapped in a shawl, shivering, and breaking down when I saw my sister coming to take me.

A very very very (I cannot stress on it enough) silly mallu movie, in which the heroine is a model, and has signed a contract with the agency that she won’t get married or have babies for three years or something. So when her folks force her to get married to her cousin, she strikes a deal with the guy that they won’t have a ‘normal’ physical relationship (How innovative na). But in his prime, he can’t control her anymore and slips a medicinal drug into her bittergourd juice one day, one thing leads to another and then there is thunder a lightning and all the required symbolism for sex. Needless to say, she gets pregnant(Yes. The superman mallu guy). The women of the house go nudge-nudge wink-wink giggle-giggle, the girl is distressed, blah blah blah.. Melodrama ensues where she tries to abort the child and all that.
I have just one word for them. Dude, contraceptive.

Zipping around town with my sister on her kinetic, going to movies, restaurants, going to watch her fashion show. The little round pillows that mom had made for us, and then when one of them wore off, fighting for turns to hug the other one and sleep. (Chech, I know you’re smiling while reading this). Watching her give her campaign speech for School Pupils’ Leader, and then when she won the election, feeling very proud and high and mighty that she was my sister. Wearing her clothes, even if they were a little big for me.
The Onam and new year parties in Woodlands. The powercut fun on the fourth floor spiral staircase.
The poem ‘Oh captain my captain’, that me and chechi have recited so many times in competitions and won first prize for. The topic I got when they were having selections for Deputy School Pupils’ Leader Primary Section (The topic was ‘National Animal of India’). The investiture ceremony. Going up to receive the badge.
The group dance practices for onam and annual day. I can still distinctly remember the ache in my thighs the first few days of Thiruvatira practice.
Consistently failing in my Physics and Chemistry papers in 11th and 12th. The tears in my father’s eyes when the board results came out. The tension at home. The support that everyone gave me so that I would not just be another statistic in the suicide cases in the city.
My first crush, my first relationship, the joy of being a teen.

The song ‘O mere sapnon ke saudagar’ from a Pooja Bhatt movie, the name of which I forget. (And the freakiest thing happened. I was thinking of it and I got into a CCD, and the instrumental of this song was on!) Dancing to it along with Deepthi Chechi and pretending to be a princess or a fairy or some such thing.
My first day in college. The bus rides with Sree. The Magic Oven trips with Sree and Neethu. The side bench, the second last bench.
The chicken biryani that mom makes, which can kick the ass of any biryani in the world (for me at least).
Dad bringing home sweets every month the day he got his salary. Going out to have Chocolate Sharjah at Eden Park.
Chechi and me playing with Abu’s brand new toys.
The smell of mehendi. Mmmm…
The thrill of being in love. The trauma of breaking up.
Going for The Last Samurai on the day we got our hall ticket. Walking in fifteen minutes late and leaving half an hour early. Having no clue what we were watching.

The taste of the chicken pulao in Royals. The freezing studio where we watched documentaries. The day mom and dad returned after leaving me in H’bad. Mom crying, the rain…
The freezing Hyderabad, more specifically HCU, winters. My first breezer with Thusha and some others in the hostel room. The prolonged chai and banana chips sessions. Hugging Hosku after fighting with her. Arun holding on to the cycle and running behind it while I attempted to ride it for the very first time.
My purple Miss India cycle.
The smell of water that’s been boiled in a huge vessel over burning wood. Playing Scrabble with Mumsy darling till 1 in the night. And she spelling words like Ariel and Rin. :)
The rain on the day I finally passed my drivers’ license test.
Necklace road early in the morning. Our Sundays… Necklace Road station.
Uncertainty. Award-winning Majjiga Pulusu. Goonja sa hai koi Iktara.

Rambling. And rambling. And rambling…