May 29, 2010

The Conceiving

I became pregnant tonight. Again. For the last one month I was toying with the idea, unsure of whether to go through the pain once again. But the Grand Master visited from the Far East and waved his magic wand.

My first child is still a toddler, trying hard to put the first steps correctly but the ecstasy of the night of conceiving is something unparalleled in this Universe. You feel gifted, you feel blessed to have a seed sown into you. For months now it will drain you of your life blood, it will give you mood swings, it will alienate you from the pleasures of the world but when at last you give birth and you hold the fruits of your labour for the first time, it’s a feeling beyond words.

Tonight I realize that’s who I am. I have been made to give birth. For the last one month I have taken care of children of my friends but somewhere the passion is never the same. They were never neglected but somewhere deep down I knew a craving for a new life had begun to take shape.

I need a new life to sustain my own existence. It’s as simple as that. You’ll know for the last one month I have not written in this blog as the floodgates closed down. My emotions seem to follow the Water Cuts of Mumbai. There’s only so much they allow themselves to be seen and sometimes they just maintain a 100% cut. Stubborn, headstrong; my own mind at times refuses to listen to me.

It’s 2 in the morning. And I feel more alive than I have felt in the last month. Witty Woman was wrong. Farming is not the only thing where a man is closest to giving birth.

May 06, 2010

The Death of Legends

I have seen legends being born. I have seen stories slowly take the shape of myths and then turn into legends. But few days back I saw for myself how legends die. We all love a good story but when it comes to living one’s life according to that story, it no longer remains interesting. We love the old order but we refuse to learn from it. Nostalgia becomes our staple. Pettiness takes over and then we dream of forming our own legends, stories where we would be knights and princesses.

And then we give the first blow to the legends of yesteryears. Sometimes we do them worse. We forget why they existed. Their truths become our senseless rituals.

And somewhere in some village, the old man sits with his hookah and reminisces, “long long time ago, in a land far far away”

May 03, 2010

Why Am I Scared of Chennai?

If there is one city I am slightly scared of it is Chennai. First of all this is one city where I am completely dependent on others. I don’t get the language. People typically refuse to understand what I am saying and worse of all, there is no use of recording my researches as I will never be able to understand what they mean. That does make me sharper when I listen to the translators though.

The worse part of doing research in Chennai is perhaps sitting at a group with a translator where people talk for approximately 15 minutes and then my translator looks at me and says, “Oh they like soaps of SNDU.” (In case you have forgotten I work for SNDU, Sabun, Nakhun and Datun Unlimited). So why do they like it? 15 minutes more and a lot of “ amma” and “seri seri” later I am told again, “good product”. Well, I may be exaggerating a bit but frankly, when I am in Karnataka or in Andhra, the discussions and the translations take approximately the same times. But in Chennai? Never. In that way, the city is a lot like Calcutta. Like Bongs, Tam women talk a lot and I am kept gasping. Anyway Mrs. Sen and I speak the same language and though she keeps telling me to get married, I can understand what she is saying. Anyway, back to Chennai. After the first few months at my work, I understood the importance of verbal banters with translators. That’s the only way to understand what the Mylapore Mamee is talking about. “Amma.”

Oh, the Mylapore Mamees! If there is one group of Indian women I would love to know all about, it must be them. The more I get to know them, the more awed I get. Such precision in their cooking, such adherence to their traditional ways of living is slowly fading out from the rest of our metros. Mylapore is so much like my North Calcutta, the one I miss so much, the one that is all but dead.

I also feel proud to be an engineer, if not by profession, but by qualification here. South of India is anyway the last refuge of engineering; North wouldn’t mind their children to go into Reality shows and host of interesting professions. East talks about IT and not the engineering variety, rather animation, West is finding a new love for entrepreneurship but the South! The Southern mothers are the last in India to decide that if I have a child, I must have an engineer.

My first visit to Chennai was as a student, landing in the city in the dead of the night, negotiating with an auto driver with me saying “anna, what da!” and he saying, “Illa illa” Then every other auto driver coming and saying “seri seri” and “long go”, while the sleepy Rana thinking that they are saying Sorry for asking such an exorbitant fare from us.

By the time we reached the competition, where I kept asking if he knew where to go and he kept nodding, all I could think of “Seri Seri”. After all I would like to believe I am a very agreeable person by nature.

The other thing that always scared me in Chennai was this intense scrutiny by people at the airport. I have a ritual at every airport I frequent. In Chennai, it is sitting on the massage chair for 5 minutes without a care about the world around me. But when the chair stops and straightens up and I open my eyes I see the world staring at me. Maybe it’s not Chennai but India that loves to stare. But then that happens in Chennai. I will miss S laughing every time this happened in the Chennai airport. I will miss travelling with her to random airports in the country in our common quest for the Holy Grail. I will miss a friend L

This time I saw Chennai in a new light. As soon as I entered the car, I realized that this city still loves its flowers. The bikers of Bangalore have all but killed the natural fragrance of the city, Hyderabad was never a flower child, but Chennai, Oh Chennai. In the evenings, the entire city is thick with the smells of flowers, the temples have their bells ringing and in some distance, beyond the honking of traffic, you can still hear the sounds of Tyagaraja Aradhana.

Chennai likes me, not the auto drivers maybe, but the normal people. They understand I am a lost visitor, I do not know the importance of Nalli Silks, but they appreciate that if I am in Chennai I will go to Murugan Idli Shop and the Saravana Bhawan and I will know the subtle differences between the sambhars in both the places.

Bangalore loves that I love its meals; Hyderabad appreciates my taste for Dum Biryani from Paradise over the normal, but Chennai, it hovers over me like a fussy mother hen ensuring that I don’t miss my idlis. (Well, no. The mother hen must still be the Andhra meal place in Bangalore where Halo and I used to go and have full meals at 17 rupees.)

After numerous visits to the city, I am probably no longer scared of Chennai. In fact, maybe one day I will live in Chennai as well and when you arrive in my house late one afternoon, will ask you, “Sore tingriya?”

May 02, 2010

Daya ko Bulao

So one weekend we decided to have a Dopy meet. Given that Dopy Standard Time has been known to linger on for quite some time and has never been a thing to be proud of, I was happily sitting and watching a Woody Allen movie when Crazy Photographer barged in hoping that others had gotten rid of DST.

But that was not to be. We started the meet 2 hours late and in the sweltering heat decided that the best place to go and plonk would be my pad. And there in typical Dopy Style I was introduced to C.I.D. I thought to myself how could I have lived without understanding how awesome this serial was. And I am prone to watching what Echha is doing at her new household.

Anyway, CID was so awesome I completely forgot that we were supposed to engage in Dopy gossip. It was of course sad that CP had no new gossip and all the new gossip was about people who I had never met.

But Daya, he was awesome. If only Hollywood knew what power was there in a strong one handed slap, they would never have hankered over Weapons of Mass Destruction. Who needs a Neo when Daya is there? One slap to the Architect and he would have let all the humans free. But what if Daya was an illusion too? Or worse an agent?

Anyway, the fact is even today if I look back, I can see myself saying to the kids who came down, “In you, Dopyness is strong. In Jaipur, where everyone comes to see forts, want to go to Mcdonadl’s your seniors did.” So we watched CID back to back till the visiting Dopyite called us to Theos. And then there was food and pastries and I don’t remember much…

May 01, 2010

The First Drops

It came. Like the soothing palm of mom when I was a child, it came to take away my worries. For the last couple of months, I have been restless, trying to find out answers to questions I never thought existed. Too many things were changing suddenly and too fast. Mumbai was draining my life blood. My sleep had averaged to about 5 hours and that too disturbed by worrisome, listless, meaningless thoughts.

For the first time in life I had nothing to dream about.

The world around me was changing and yet nothing changed. The only thing that kept me going was my work. I still loved it, it still gave me the challenges to look forward to on a Monday morning and I realized that like most working professionals I was becoming prone to having points of view. All my working life (sounds grand, doesn’t it?) I have maintained that there are multiple points of view and all of them must originate from the consumer. It was effortless in the beginning but today the lessons learnt from nearly two years are showing up as “I believe”.

The thing I kept telling myself, unless you are the TG, what you believe matters nothing in the end. You can just be a humble servant of the consumer and support her point of view and appreciate that she has the right to change any moment. You take a stand for her, not for anyone or anything else.

I know I am not making sense, but life wasn’t making sense either. India was acting like the ladies of the night giving promises of a fantastic future but most of them a mirage. The answers were not to be found. And if your life is full of mirages and false hopes, it slowly resembles a desert.

The soul was parched, thirsty for some succour. And then like many wasted memories of the past, I found myself in a hot and dry Bangalore, unlike the one of my youth. But as I was leaving the city the skies turned black and the first drops of rain fell on the ground. The earth did not respond. It hissed and spat out the fumes. It hated the gumption that things could change, that the Sun God can be challenged.

The flight took me to Hyderabad and the rains followed me there. But as I rushed around the city understanding what was happening in the markets, I missed it. It was as if a friend had held out a hand and I was too busy even to notice it. I rushed to Chennai.

The work I had was done around 10 in the night. I was travelling back to the city and then it came. First a few big drops and then the torrents. The earth protested and squirmed as if some uncalled for lover had touched her. She made her displeasure clear. The asphalted roads, like snakes on her body protested loudly. But the first rains had come and like an unstoppable emotion it swept the city off its feet. Lights began to go out in localities, I reached my guest house in complete darkness and it rained. The earth quenched her thirst, remembering once again what it meant to be loved.

Bent by worries that exist only in the mind I fell on my bed and slept like a child. Outside I could hear the pitter-patter of the rain drops. Pitter-patter, pitter-patter it went on like one of those Enid Blyton novels where children get excited by a Bacon and Eggs breakfast. The rains had come to tell me that life was beautiful and there was someone to take care of me. A song from “The Prince of Egypt” kept playing in my mind. I could not recollect the words but the tunes sent me to sleep.

The first drops had fallen. Soon, one day the monsoon would arrive. People would curse the rains as it would make traffic on the Mumbai streets unbearable. But I would not complain. I would sing, “Raindrops keep falling on my head”.

I slept, like I had not slept for ages and when I woke up to a brand new day, the heart sang out for the first time in ages. The soul was soothed. The Greater Power above had saved it once again.

And even though I can’t sing to save my life, “Singing in the rain, I’m singing in the rain. What a glorious day and I’m happy again.”