Tuesday, October 30

When You're Back, You're Back

There are times when you hit peculiar patches. Lots of things seem to happen in a rush and then all of a sudden, nothing. Standstill. Halt. And just as you get used to the peace and the quiet, it starts up again. Like a runaway horse down a mountain slope, eyes rolling, tail flying, frothing at the mouth. In a single day, there's good news, there's bad news, there's good news that seemed like bad news but later resolved itself into good news, there's news you just don't know what to do with. The works. You tend to work around it, though. These peculiar patches. Learn to stand still at a point and refuse to move until things sort themselves out because otherwise you're just going to go stark raving mad. This is good, right? Everyone needs those standpoints. I think.

Some of us find other ways around it. A routine, a habit, a schedule, anything that gives structure to the chaos. Some time during the day when you can just stop thinking, shut it all off. Not 'me time' because that would involve thinking about you. But just 'not-thinking time'. We are the lucky ones, no? The ones who can do this? The ones who've found the yellow, brick road.

The thing about yellow, brick roads though, is that there is a certain problem. They invariably lead you to a place that never was. And then what do you do? You think you have it figured out, everything under control, a place for every thing and every thing in its place. The question though, I think is, is there really a place for everything? Does it help in any way that you can disappear into your own world and come back out of it feeling better about everything without actually having done anything about anything? Isn't that a negative, rather than a smug advantage? Do we really want to travel to a place ruled over by a little, old man with green glasses? Especially if we don't even get to have the red shoes?

Sunday, October 28

Something about Sunshine

There is something about it. No wonder lizards look so blissfully lazy in patches of it. It just seeps in and you feel warm and petted, inside out. The perfect way to spend a Sunday afternoon is to call a girlfriend over, stretch out next to the pool and bask. Just bask. Maybe talk a little. About god. And school. And Elle. And why Jimmy Choos are so expensive. Plan a trip to Scotland. Paint your toes. Take a nap. Bring your speakers to the pool and play iPod DJ.

We know this, right? As desis, especially. We have to know the power of sunshine. The way it heals you. The hardest year of my life was one without sunshine. Literally. Figuratively, I was basking in everyday. The work was satisfying, the company was amazing, the boss was a blast. But no sunshine. Within a week I was ready to sell my soul for some good ol' fashioned Madras-style sunshine (talking about the Madras sun, is it just me or is it true that it's almost impossible to find it anywhere else? I've seen plenty of suns but none as blindingly sunny as the one in Madras. What is up with that?). Of all the people most equipped to talk about sunshine, I must be really high up on the list (me and everyone else who has lived in Madras for more than 2 years).

I take every possible opportunity to sit in the sunshine (because absence makes the heart fonder and I'm now passionately in love with my Madras sun). In the square right in front of my school is a huge fountain (it's amazingly pretty - aren't all fountains?). Marble. With trees all around and little park benches. And at something like half past 4 every day you can see me sitting in the grass right next to it, in the biggest patch of sunshine I can find. I don't even need company. I just take a book, have my iPod and beyond that company is superfluous, no?.

Sometimes people come up to me and go "Oi Flaffy's-Real-Name, why the fuck (grad students have a limited vocabulary outside of science) are you sitting in the sun?" (I always say it's because I'm a sun-worshiper. most people don't know what to do with that. will it be politically incorrect to laugh? will the sun worshiper's society sue them? will they be forever known as sunnists?) Invariably, I find that the people who come and ask me this are Indians. Dyed in the wool, brown-as-berries Indians. And it never fails to surprise me. How can Indians (*Indians*) come and ask me this? Don't they realize the immense advantage we have over most other races in the world? Don't they understand that most people would kill to have our perfect-for-tanning skin? At least the type the browner of us have (and ought to cherish). With this skin we're all set for World Domination (think global warming - soon we'll be the only ones who can walk outside without protection). Can't they see this?

It strikes me (and maybe I'm reading too much into it) that there is dramatic irony in this. The gora log with their awfully white skin adore the sun and lust after tans. Sit in the sun for hours, become red as rare steak and peel like bananas, spraying sun screen over themselves constantly. While we, desis, blessed with skin-cancer-resistant, I-can-turn-a-pretty-shade-of-coffee-by-just-sitting-in-the-sunshine-for-a-couple-of-hours skin, insist on shying away from it with a modesty becoming of an eighteenth century peaches-n-cream virgin locked into the same room as Bluebeard.

Why would any god let this happen? Tchah. Try as I might, I cannot drum up enough energy to believe in the man. He seems inexplicable.

Thursday, October 25

An Off Week

We all have them. So do I. Go figure.


What some of us think is really difficult/strange/alien is a life'slikethat moment for others. Yes, I am thinking of you, missy and your wonder at being able to chat and watch Ugly Betty at the same time (and you thought I couldn't blog about it!).


Some women need to have men in their lives. Not just general men. But a special person. Just for them. It's a craving, a dependency. Just like anything else. Some women don't. I honestly can't decide which is weaker but I know which I'd rather be.


Starting something new is always exciting but also seductive. It makes you ignore the old (sorry, bloggy, y'know I love you) and there is never any excuse for that.


Cooking is therapy. And I'd have never known it if I hadn't moved away from home. On the other hand, I might not have needed therapy if I hadn't moved away from home. Meh, who are we kidding. I'd have needed therapy anyway!


However bored you are, however tired, however reluctant to leave the couch, don't watch Tila Tequila or I Love New York. It's just not worth it, people. It's not. I know crappy TV, I've watched daytime sitcoms, even Reba (shudder). But this is worse than crappy TV. This is worse than anything. Just don't.


I (sheepish grin) love Colbie Caillat.


I saw a moon that looked like a paper lantern painted onto the sky this evening and all I could think of was 'seductive as a pregnant whore'. I need to start reading something other than Urf (otherwise I might end up hating MT).


Athletes are always given benefit of doubt when they fail. Because they're performing under pressure. How come that doesn't work for grad students during examinations? Why should I be able to think under pressure?


And that, as Porky would have said, is all, folks.

Saturday, October 20

The Question

.....one feels, is how much is too much? (Also, much is such a nice word, no? Not much. So much. Much of a muchness. Lipsmacking :))

And that, people, is a Riddler post.

Thursday, October 18

Once I Loved a Blogger

Once I loved a blogger. And she never
asked me why. I would have told her it was
cos she knew who said Release the Hounds and
why. Woulda said it was the way she chose Hyde
over Michael without thinking about it
(cos how could I love someone who had to
think about that one?). But she never asked.

Still I loved a blogger. And like sand in
a too-tight fist vanishes, she did too.
But (cleverer than the fist) I had an idea.
Question. Can a blogger (of all people) live
without the slavering and worship that
is her due? The answer, I confess, still
eludes me (like water-waves at the beach).

Long I loved a blogger. Now she loves me too.
So, yes, we are moving in together.
Come. Visit. Bring wine. Leave shoes at home. Joy.

Tuesday, October 16

Flotsam and Jetsam

For future reference, you guys, (at least till the end of this month) all these weird chroniclets are from the 24 hour challenges. So pliss not to worry. No I'm not homesick. Or crying in my pillow. Or jet lagged. Or in desperate need of credit cards. Oh wait, I am actually. If anyone has a spare credit card with lots of credit in it, pass it along. I will be discreet. And only use it to get really expensive Bandolinos (violet with the pointiest beautifullest heels) that are at half price now and may not be for much longer. So pliss to contribute. Be generous. God will Reward.

"It's just that I have a niggling fear", he had said conversationally, "that it'll hurt like the devil". All she could tell the cops when they came around was that she hadn't expected him to pull out the gun and shoot himself in the head. "Do you think it hurt?" she kept asking the investigating officer. She seemed distraught. The officer figured it was because her husband had died a pauper. Noone likes inheriting massive debt. Human nature.

The challenge words were niggling fear in that order consecutively

Monday, October 15

Oooh my Pet Whine


She opened her eyes to the distinctive sunlight of this part of the world. "Yes, you can shine all you like, I'm thinking grey clouds in my head", she muttered into her pillow. Still damp. She clutched the cell phone and dialed the long string of numbers, worn with repetition. Her heart felt like it was breaking, broken maybe. "Hello?". She could almost see the voice, bridging the miles, like a delicately drawn out thread. "Hello? Yaaru peshardhu?" She gulped, worrying it'd snap if she didn't say something. "Amma? It's me." "Hiiiiiii, da. How was the flight?" She couldn't get any of her rehearsed words out. Tears already making their customary passage down her cheek. They'd make a groove soon. "Kanna, are you ok? What's wrong?" She had to stop the anxiety before it became an avalanche of concern. "Nothing, amma", she managed after swallowing the bits of her broken heart that were bobbing up her throat. "Just jet lag. That's all."


He hoped he wasn't sitting next to one of those old uncle jis. Who'd constantly clear their throat of what sounded like copious amounts of phlegm and fidget restlessly while smelling of paan and the inimitable smell of sweat trapped in a safari suit. He was almost relieved when he saw a serious-looking bespectacled boy. Probably 18. He smiled comfortingly at him and settled down in his aisle seat. He found out that the boy was going to India on one of those school project affairs. He wondered how much of a waste of time those things were. After a while he decided to nap. To beat the jet-lag. He closed his eyes and leaned back in the chair. A hesitation later, "Do you want me to close the shutters, uncle ji?" He opened his eyes to the politely inquisitive stare of the boy. "No, no. That's fine." He smiled at him and closed his eyes again. It was no use. His head was throbbing and he felt fidgety and restless. He cleared his throat. He was only 29, for pity's sake.

In my defense,

I couldn't get to sleep till half past 3 this morning. I'm not a happy camper. Sigh.

Saturday, October 13

Metaphorically Speaking

Warning: Slightly monstrous post as per recent standards. If you have time to kill and at least 7 minutes to listen to the music, read on.

I'm not the most Carnatic person. Even less of a Hindustani one. But some Raags are universal. Some Raags are undemanding of technical knowledge. And some Raags transcend the Carnatic-Hindustani divide. The Hamsadhwani is my favourite (I love the Chaurasia version but can't find it on Youtube, so I'm putting in the next best rendition I could find). The first time I heard it, it was because a friend said "This is the Raag I love. Listen to it." And I did. More for him than for the Raag and people, it is true. This Raag deserves love. Adulation even. (I'd say worship but I don't want to be called a drama queen.) The thing about Hamsadhwani is that she reminds me of feminism. (Yes, really). Wait, not feminism necessarily as it is, but feminism like I've always pictured it as, known it should be. The ideal that we all strive for (by we all I mean feminists, not persons of other persuasions) and which is so hard to reach. I was blog-lifting for ideas the other day (I've been feeling particularly uninspired) and from the fessor's place, I went to this one. And from there to this article. Keeping that in mind, we shall move on (it all comes together in the end, promise).

To today. I've been sick (yes, I've noticed the lack of awwws in the commentspace. I seem to have cornered the hard-hearted bit of the blog-reading-public) and so I've been staying home. But this evening, bravely (and from a desire to feel like I'm awake as opposed to an indivisible part of my bed), I decided to go for a run. It's been a while (I've been slack) and every runner knows the (for want of a better word) bliss of returning to the road. Of finding your rhythm. I always imagine that's how bikers must feel when they get back on their bikes after a hiatus (can't bike to save my life, so I haven't personally experienced it, but I'm pretty sure this is how it feels). I saw the most beautiful sunset, did my little work out routine. Got all flushed and happy. And because it felt like I couldn't stay away from the outside, I came back home and sat on my balcony, reading Roth until there was so little light that I couldn't differentiate the letters from the page. My iPod was still with me, so I hooked it up to the speakers and voila Hariprasad Chaurasia playing the Hamsadhwani (see how it all came together?). I've been on indie rock overload for the past couple of months and to suddenly hear a Raag, and the Hamsadhwani at that. I decided it was fate. And (true story) while I was deciding this, a yellow leaf on the tree right next to my balcony dropped off its branch and drifted down to the ground. If that isn't significant I honestly don't know what is (Right? I'm not being dramatic, am I? A single yellow leaf. And the stars in the sky. And the flute in the background. It was outta a movie!).

So, I'm looking at that leaf falling and listening to the music and it hits me. The Hamsadhwani is a piece of music that captures the spirit of feminism like nothing else I've heard before. It should be the anthem or something. It's not just the way it starts off, tentatively inquisitive, reaching out a singly sensual finger of interrogation. Or the way it maintains throughout this firmness of tone. Like an insistent knowledge of its rightness, its right to be heard, to be admired, to be listened to even if not agreed with. Not even the unexpected lilting curlicues that leap out at you in the most charming manner, reaching so confidently for all that is fancifully idealistic in the world. Admittedly the finish is perfect, ending on a note of not assertion or arrogance but a quiet confidence (though not in this version, try to get your hands on the Chaurasia). But none of this embodies the feminism in my mind as much as the tabla in the background. The warmly human sound of fingers on skin, not the metallic thumping rhythm of stick on metal (the ghatam in the version on this post is a little overdone, in my opinion, but that's just my opinion). The empathetic, grounding baseline throughout the melody. The little innovations serving to attract attention but in such an understated way. Not because it needs attention but because it is so happy, so confident in just being there. It doesn't need justification or validation. And isn't that what we all want, more than anything to feel? As feminists? As women? As girls?

Being that calm, that powerful and that happy inside out. I wonder how it feels. I think I've found my calling. If I'm actually born again I want to be born as the Hamsadhwani.

Friday, October 12

My Daddy's Strongest

Past expiry. Bend it over along the middle until it snaps. Her dad used to let her do it to all his expired credit cards. Laughing as she struggled with her little hands to do what his big hands could do with such consummate ease. He'd say "Wait, da. Let me show you" and pick up the card which suddenly would look like the flimsiest piece of plastic that simply couldn't be capable of having bought their new car, their new house, her new kiddie-pool. Even if he claimed it had. His callused fingers would bend the plastic like it was a piece of paper, making a crease that slowly became a clean break. "See, kanna? It's simple", he'd say. And she'd look up at him, all big, brown eyes and mop of curly hair, transforming him in a moment into a big, strong Hero. Her big, strong Hero. Funny how over the years it was he who had folded up along the middle and slowly been broken in two by other pieces of plastic. Very similar pieces of plastic to those she'd used to trash so obligingly for him. This was what Alanis Morisette would have unhesitatingly termed ironic.

Or maybe not.

Friday night's a lonely night to be home sick. Not homesick, capisce?. Any night's a lousy night to be homesick. And since I've finally found the time to check out the 24 hour challenges, here's mine :D.

Ooh ooh and also. Talking about license plates. I saw one that said CURLYQ1. Course I had to speed up so I could draw level and check the driver out. Any guesses?

Monday, October 8

The Thing about Dreams

She lost her voice two days ago and by the end of the day she feels unable to differentiate between reality and dreams. She doesn't know anymore where her dreams start and where they end. She went to work today, met all the people she normally meets, sat through the seminars she normally sits through, smiled good morning at the shuttle driver like she normally does. But somehow she feels like she should pinch herself. See if she wakes up with a start, back in her white bed with the pink comforter pulled up to her chin. She thinks maybe it's because she isn't participating in her world anymore. She's disengaged. Whenever anyone talks to her she mouths "I've lost my voice". Before they launch into conversation. She can't converse. Which makes it all bizarre because conversation is her thing. She loves the thrust and parry of it. Their faces quickly become apologetic and they mouth back "I'm sorry". Why, she doesn't know. An empathetic loss of voice, maybe. But people don't limp when they meet a guy without a leg. Do they? Then they go back to their conversations, slipping back into the talking world, leaving her not behind but at the side. Watching, listening, smiling but not actually belonging. Maybe that's why it feels like a dream. Because she really doesn't feel all that much anymore.

She thinks this is how it must feel to float.

Thursday, October 4


She counted. 1..nice, tall, black dude. 2..short, little hispanic man. 3..guy on a wheelchair who didn't really look like he ought to be checking *anyone* out. 4..a young kid. She frowned at him. Kids grew up too fast these days. 5,6,7,8..the valets who normally stood right next to the shuttle stop and yelled namaste when they saw her coming. 9..the guy in the cowboy hat and the really nice smile. She had to smile back.

She got into the bus. 9 for today. A decent validation count.

Wednesday, October 3


She thought about it carefully. This was a delicate proposition at best. She would have to choose just the right words. Words that would convey exactly what she was thinking. Neither too heavy nor too light. There was a balance that they would have to strike. Her words, like little iron weights, hexagons with numbers written on them. Tricky devils. With their shaded nuances and their tonal leanings. She would make it perfect this time, though. Make it all okay. Make the sadness evaporate. Like magic. She just had to figure out what the right words were.

She settled for a hug.

This should have been a big, long, Flaffy-ishtyle theory post but couldn't drum up the energy. Soon to come, though.

Monday, October 1

It Never Rains But When It's Cold

Arch your back, let your hair fall back but make it so none of those cold droplets fall on your skin anywhere other than your scalp. Owwww, a rivulet right down the back. Turn around, turn around. Maybe if you bent forward so that your hair falls in front of your face? Nuh uh. That way water just falls down your face. Icy cold and stinging. Oh Oh. Idea. Turn to the side and tilt your head just so. An angle so perfect that the water can soak your head but not trickle anywhere but straight down, not touching an inch of skin. Aaargh. Numb left shoulder now. Oh wait, was the water getting warmer? Skin isn't tingling anymore. Stretch out fingers, trembling hopefully, to the downpour. Yes, the water seems a lot warmer. Oh no, false alarm. Those are blue fingers. The water isn't warmer, the skin's wayyyy colder.

There is no non-fatal way of washing your hair when the water-heater's conked out.