Posts Tagged ‘Personal’

I am late by two days but weren’t we busy hoarding on sanitizer, garlic and paracetamol for your travel.  So, as the title says it all, Happy Birthday and you can choose any number you want. No, you can’t pick Seventeen. Remember, it needs to be greater than or equal to Twenty-nine.

Every time I see you shaking with laughter at the silliest things, I truly feel blessed. It is the kind of laughter that puts me at ease and makes me fall in love with the world. That laughter is like an endless invisibility cloak that spreads over every other imperfection around me. Probably, it just blinds me. I wonder how swiftly your actions and words evoke a multitude of reactions ranging from awe to exasperation. And marriage does such weird things that I feel a sense of content even when I feel exasperated by your acts.

The other day,  a recent acquaintance of mine asked me about what I cook and when I finished, she was curious to know who “we” were! I realized how I had used “we” instinctively in every statement and I was amused at their amusement.  Honestly, I can’t imagine it any other way.  But what I love the most is how you hand me my coffee in my hand and wait for my reaction. You make the most awesome coffee.

You surely are a man of steel for it is not so easy to put up with my tantrums, mood swings and temper (all occasional, okay). I have told this to you but you dismiss it always and tell me that I am being hard on myself . Well, when you don’t, I force it out of you.  But today being your birthday (Err, okay lets overlook the two days delay), I am feeling wobbly and week in knees, and I will let you walk away with these accolades. Yes, I am feeling magnanimous today.

Your thoughtful gestures blows me over. Like the last time just before a trip, you carefully picked up many of my earrings that were lying haphazardly and packed it in a box for me and all this without me even mentioning about it. Sometimes, I am afraid if I will end up taking all this for granted. Next time I get annoyed with you, I am going to remind myself of all this and much more (and the aroma of your coffee, obviously).

Thankful, would be too small a word to describe how I feel. I am thankful that “we” happened.

Yours,

Kaapi

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Double standard

Posted: October 1, 2013 in House full, The Bloke and I
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Few months ago, The Bloke and I attended a cousin’s wedding.  While my mom stomped her feet and declared that I should wear a saree, the dress code was relaxed very much for The Bloke. No worn out jeans, was the only rule he had to abide by. But then I couldn’t let him revel in that and so I pushed him to don a Dhoti. Having never worn it, he was quite diffident about it but then I cajoled him – “How tougher could it get? Just wrap around and you can even wear a belt” I said.  The belt did the magic and he was lured.  one of his friends loaned him a Mundu and also provided him with instruction to “wrap” it around.  We thought we were all set for the wedding but then there were few glitches in the plan. The wedding was supposed to be a early morning one held in the bride’s ancestral place while the bus in which we had booked tickets would drop us almost at the same time but in a different town, Karaikudi which is almost hundred kilometers from the wedding venue. We couldn’t do much about it but this meant we had to stay at a hotel in Karaikudi and I had to drape the saree on my own and the last time I had tried draping, I had got it perfectly right but something looked amiss and after thirty minutes of brain storming, The Bloke pointed out that I had draped the Saree on the wrong side!  So I ended up saving few pictures of “How to drape a saree” on The Bloke’s mobile for emergency. Okay, who am I kidding? Those pictures were my guide!

The previous day when we had to catch the bus, we were at our best by which I mean we had surpassed all our previous levels of disorderliness and  I was very sure that the bus would be late and for once, The Bloke agreed to go by my estimate. Half way through the traffic, it started drizzling which usually is just a coincidence but then if it is Bangalore, it is just the way of life or rather the “way of evening life” and just yet another reason for the traffic to double up.  We were stranded for a long time and after much drama, we stepped  into the bus.

Karaikudi is a small town and though you may not fall in love with it immediately, there is something quite comforting  and inviting about the place and people. Probably, that is the case with every small town. Or with every small town where you have your heart set.

After arriving at the hotel, we were on our mission and surprisingly, accomplished it in lightening speed with few flaws. The Bloke had tied the Dhoti perfectly, albeit tightly and he ended up limping. My attempts at coaxing him to tie it once again went futile. I gave up and we set on our hundred kilometer journey.

After what seemed to be a little over an hour, with the help of passerby, we reached the venue. I spotted my parents as I emerged out of the car lugging yards of fabric. My mom was elated.  I had never seen my mom that happy. No, not even when I had got my first job. Nor when she sets her eyes on myriad of colorful  sarees in Pothys.  I was exhilarated looking at her elated state.  I commended myself for having thought of the pictures beforehand. As I sauntered towards her in a daze, she headed straight to The Bloke. “This looks great on you”, she gushed. I readied myself for my turn and I went and joined The Bloke. My mom shot a glance of “intense disapproval” at me and said I hadn’t tied the saree well.

Hmph! I wondered if I should point out that The Bloke was actually finding it too hard to walk in his looks-great-on-you attire. But then my tummy growled and I feasted on a plethora of dishes neatly laid on fresh plantain leaf while The Bloke  fumbled with many of them trying to figure out what they were and with his preoccupation of what was on his plate or on his leaf in this case, missed out on second serving of the best dishes. Serves him right!

The past two months were just too bland, punctuated with deadlines and the days whizzed by. The Bloke was equally busy. Or, probably busier.And at times, when I decided to push the work aside and took time to laze around, I tried to write. But I went blank  and  mostly ended up  sleeping with the laptop beside me.  And along with me, the draft as well went dormant.  Now, I guess the mayhem is over. I mean the work and deadlines.

Two months back, when there was a lot happening (comparatively, that is), I missed updating about few things. Actually, I completely missed writing about my travel to places half way across the globe! It was quite a short trip and we had just one day for sight-seeing and rest of the time, The Bloke slogged in office and I worked from the hotel. Even now, that travel seems so unreal that if  The Bloke ever told me that it was all a dream, I would believe him. Erm.. okay, he may have to delete all those pictures that we took at Golden gate bridge.

The Bloke had to travel for work and I never even thought of accompanying him but he had different plans altogether. I planned on staying with her while The Bloke would be away. But as luck would have it, she relocated and moved out of  Bangalore!

“See, you are destined to come along with me”, The Bloke yelled. I dismissed him off. No, we are not that philosophical about ‘destiny’ but we are those complete duds who use ‘destiny’ to even decide on the place for dinner.  Mostly, destiny helps us in the forms of traffic lights and rains!

Anyway, I digress. The reality struck me when we booked my ticket.  The entire flashback  of  my misplaced stay extension approval letter (from previous travel)came back to haunt me and someone had warned me that it was required for subsequent travel.   I spent sleepless nights after that, waking up all sweaty and parched from nightmares of being deported. Erm.. okay, that was in March and that explains the sweat and thirst.  But the nightmare would always end before the climax.  I was always left wondering if The Bloke would join me back or if he would continue with this work and travel!  It was after rigorous ‘Google’ search’, I realized I was misinformed.

So, just like usual, we packed on the day of travel and at The Bloke’s insistence, reached airport  much much earlier.  It was a long flight. At times, The Bloke and I stretched and walked around and I saw so many fellow passengers flirting with the air hostess and boring them to death that now I can very well write a book titled, “How to flirt under 30 seconds”. Seriously!

Once it was our turn at the immigration check, I duly went along with The Bloke. While he explained the nature of his travel and work in many words, I just added, “I am accompanying him on his travel” and dished out the marriage certificate.  “So, you don’t trust your husband?”, the immigration officer  asked and burst into a peals of laughter. My jaws dropped to the floor. I was dumbstruck and bewildered. The Bloke joined him and my expression was quite a sight, I believe. While I was still retaining my composure, the stamped passports materialized out of nowhere and The Bloke ushered me out.

“Muje bahut neendh aa raha hai”, I announced.  And just then I noticed that sarcastic lopsided grin appearing on The Bloke’s face and I knew something was wrong.

“Is it ‘aa raha hai’ or ‘aa rahi hai’?”, I further questioned him and he dissolved into a peal of laughter.

Hmph.  “It is my neendh and I decide its gender”, I shrugged. He guffawed.

And for the record, The Bloke can manage just few Tamil words and he gets labelled as ‘cute’ for that. Uh.

Anyway, I digress. This post is NOT about The Bloke or about the state of my spoken ‘Hindi’ but rather about my miseries with it.

The story dates back to ’93 when my vocabulary in Hindi was limited to ‘hathi=elephant’ and ‘kalam=pen’. To supplement this, I was sent to a Hindi Pundit and he bestowed the worldly knowledge upon with  the sentences like ‘Yeh kalam hai’ and ‘yeh mej hai”.  And equipped with vast and improved vocabulary, I appeared for Prathmik exam and ahoy! I managed a good score as well ;).  For the uninitiated, in TN we have exams conducted by Hindi Prachar sabha and back in ’90s, almost all of us appeared for those exams and mostly, in this case, the teacher is referred  as ‘Hindi Pundit’. So,  after all this rigorous and ‘katin’ Hindi exams, we could confidently rattle off, Yek gaavon my yek kisan raghu thatha’

All was well until we moved to Delhi in ’95.  At school,  I dreaded Hindi classes.  I was totally lost. On my very first day in school, just before the Hindi period could start, someone behind me buzzed, “Rajini madam is coming”. I  turned around with adoration in my eyes. How cool it was to nick name your teacher after RajiniKanth’! Probably, the teacher was just too strict and well-built, I thought. But in came a petite woman with a porcelain skin and  looked pale. Or, so I thought. when she spoke, I could hardly hear her.  No way near Rajini, I thought. Few more days and then the understanding dawned on me that her name actually was ‘Rajini’  and it looked like it was a pretty common name given to girls as well!

“Is that name in any way  inspired by the actor ‘RajiniKanth’ ?”, I asked the boy sitting next to me. He scratched his head in reply.

After the initial hiccups, I managed to pull through the Hindi classes. Among the four of us, my mom adopted quickly to Delhi. She would pack Chapathi and Dal for us every day.  The extra protein and fiber did help the plants in my school and they flourished and looked greener.  “Idly arici’ became a precious commodity and was taken out only on special days or when we had Tamil guests at home. And those were the only years when we got away giving Idly  and sambhar on the day of Diwali to all the North Indian neighbors. They were insanely happy. I was happier since I had the Gulab Jamuns for myself. After few years we were back to Tamilnadu and there, I pledged my commitment to Hindi and went ahead and chose it over Tamil.

Cut forward to 2006, I was the most sought after by my Tamil friends.  While Shahid Kapoor wooed, enticed and smiled, I interpreted his words and I think I did well,  for my friends let out a collective long sigh. I never understood if it were my words or Shahid’s looks that garnered that reaction. Living in a paying guest accommodation had its perks and I almost became the  North-Indian-certified-decent-Hindi-speaking-tamilian.

After getting married to The Bloke, I thought I would be more fluent in Hindi. How wrong I was! True, initially I picked up cooking instructions in Hindi like “ubalo”. But it was quite short-lived. Within a year of marriage, I forgot all the Hindi that I had picked up since The Bloke just refused to  converse with me in Hindi. Okay, we had never conversed in Hindi before wedding as well but we could have given it a try!

To me, Hindi is like  aerobics. When I practice it sincerely, I reap the benefits. But when I turn to it once in a blue moon, I end up with sore muscles. So recently when I had to converse for long in Hindi, I said something like “Mere prashno” and before my words were out, I realized my mistake but the damage was done. The very moment, the truth dawned on me – Hindi Prachar Sabha had left a dent on my heart, mind and soul and it was to remain forever!

So people, that is my tale of woe and now, I need a drink to keep the misery from enveloping me.  A strong filter Kaapi for me, if The Bloke agrees to make it otherwise I will settle for a Chai 😀 .

Until I sober up,

“Hail Hindi, hail Hindi Prachar Sabha”

The witness

Posted: February 3, 2013 in memoirs, Rants
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While the country was going through massive transformations under Narshima Rao in 1991, the kitchen of my ancestral home tucked away in the tiny village was not left far behind. We kissed the wood stove good-bye. Kitchen counters were installed and we got LPG! Few cupboards were installed on the wall. The dim lights were replaced. My grandmother, probably was in awe. Amidst all this, there was one thing that didn’t change, the one that witnessed all the change along with my grandmother and aunts. The radio.

The radio stood there on top of the wooden shelf with a layer of folded blanket underneath. It was to stay that way for ages. My grand mom used to start her day quite early with a cup of filter kaapi and the radio. Once the knobs were turned and the antenna adjusted, the radio would embark on its new day.  As the music filled the kitchen we savored the soft Idli, dosai and Pongal. While the radio crooned, we hummed in unison. It had a soothing effect.

While the cousins and I ran in and out of the kitchen and my aunts sweated and mopped their brows, the radio stood there in the shade, well sheltered. It was our indispensable companion in the kitchen.  The mood of the grown ups was so governed by the songs. In turn, the radio reflected the flavors of the kitchen – the turmeric smeared on the ridges along the circumference of the knob and the aroma of sambar podi all over.

For over a decade and a half, the radio witnessed it all – moving of me and my cousins into teens and our increasingly sparse visits, the much-anticipated and celebrated weddings and age taking its toll on my grandparents, albeit unnoticed by all. But my grand mom remained her cheery self  and so did the radio.

Last week I happened to attend a cousin’s wedding. I was so close to my ancestral place and yet couldn’t visit.  As I passed through the adjoining villages,  to my astonishment,  memories of days long past came back to me, in excruciating detail –  the doors,  the pillars and the beautiful ridges, the aatu kal, the unused wood stove, the radio and many others.  I yearned for all of them and I wished they yearned for me the same way!  I wished I had left a mark.

*aatu kal – grinding stone

Fusion

Posted: January 29, 2013 in The Bloke and I
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I was hoping to write about how different yet similar The bloke and me are and midway I realized that I would never be able to express the similarity in words.  For one, the obvious ones are few and  then the not so obvious ones are inexplicable and difficult to comprehend. As I mostly do, I shucked the post aside. After looking at  Pepper’s post, I  decided to go ahead with JUST the ‘differences’!

The Bloke and I are from different ethnic groups. We speak different languages. We probably belong to different races as well.  Dig deeper, you will find that our interests and ways are strikingly different. We bonded over our differences.   But along with bonding, laughter and love, our differences also attract persuasions and  hair pulling arguments 😉 !

The Bloke is a movie addict.  He never walks out of a movie and considers it a heinous crime. He is the kind of addict who loves all genre and has a “Language no bar” placard and uses quotes like  “The only morality in the cruel world is chance” and other equally profound and philosophical ones for every silly thing. See, he absolutely loves his movies. I like movies in moderation but in overdose, I get irritated. For me, it is a precious weekend that is lost!

To me, cooking is a chore that I need to get done with as soon as possible unless it is a weekend. The Bloke relishes cooking and that actually is his idea of  relaxation. A stress buster activity that needs to be carried out even when there is not even a faint trace of such stress.   I urge him to decide on a one-pot meal and on the contrary, he fancies cooking the  okra accompanied with thinly sliced carrot saute in olive oil.

I am a light traveler. Mostly, I travel with just one backpack that I can accommodate in my seat. However, The Bloke packs for all seasons! Okay, he doesn’t actually pack but rather flings  his clothes into the bag.  Once we even carried sweatshirts on our trip to Chennai!! And given that most of our packing is done in the nth moment, I don’t have the patience to talk sense into him. I try to persuade him. The sight of heavy luggage gets on my nerves. We squabble. We end up fussing over it.

Mostly, I take time to warm up to a crowd unless it involves my gang of friends. The Bloke is just the opposite and quite social. He can dish out anecdotes and laugh heartily. Not just with the extroverts but he can also pull people out of their shells and engage them in long conversations and make them feel comfortable.  Sometimes I’m left with a warm and fuzzy feeling inside when he does it all so effortlessly and then there are times when I wish I was like him.

As you see, the list is endless.

I contemplated over our similarities. I raked my brains and then gave in and asked The Bloke. “We are ‘naturally’ lazy”, he replied. I rolled my eyes. Yes, we are lazy. In our house, the stack of folded clothes never find their way to the closet. Both of us race to disappear from the kitchen when it is time to clean the counter top.  My tolerance level with clutter is high. The bloke’s level is a notch higher!  He can fish out a shirt with eyes closed and under a second from a messy wardrobe but if the same is stacked and sorted, he would be clueless. I wish one of us was more organized.   Every time I see the clutter, I end up wishing we were different!