Monday, November 26, 2007

When I speak of writing...

“When I speak of writing, what comes first to my mind is not a novel, a poem, or literary tradition, it is a person who shuts himself up in a room, sits down at a table, and alone, turns inward.”
Orhan Pamuk in " My Father's Suitcase"

Real Life

Found this here:

This was a speech made by Pulitzer Prize-winning author, Anna Quindlen at the graduation ceremony of an American university where she was awarded an Honorary PhD.

'I'm a novelist. My work is human nature. Real life is all I know. Don't ever confuse the two, your life and your work. You will walk out of here this afternoon with only one thing that no one else has. There will be hundreds of people out there with your same degree: there will be thousands of people doing what you want to do for a living. But you will be the only person alive who has sole custody of your life. Your particular life. Your entire life. Not just your life at a desk, or your life on a bus, or in a car, or at the computer. Not just the life of your mind, but the life of your heart. Not just your bank accounts but also your soul.

People don't talk about the soul very much anymore. It's so much easier to write a resume than to craft a spirit. But a resume is cold comfort on a winter's night, or when you're sad, or broke, or lonely, or when you've received your test results and they're not so good.

Here is my resume: I am a good mother to three children. I have tried never to let my work stand in the way of being a good parent. I no longer consider myself the centre of the universe. I show up. I listen. I try to laugh. I am a good friend to my husband. I have tried to make marriage vows mean what they say. I am a good friend to my friends and they to me. Without them, there would be nothing to say to you today, because I would be a cardboard cut out. But I call them on the phone, and I meet them for lunch. I would be rotten, at best mediocre at my job if those other things were not true.

You cannot be really first rate at your work if your work is all you are. So here's what I wanted to tell you today: Get a life. A real life, not a manic pursuit of the next promotion, the bigger pay cheque, the larger house. Do you think you'd care so very much about those things if you blew an aneurysm this afternoon, or found a lump in your breast?

Get a life in which you notice the smell of salt water pushing itself on a breeze at the seaside, a life in which you stop and watch how a red-tailed hawk circles over the water, or the way a baby scowls with concentration when she tries to pick up a sweet with her thumb and first finger. Get a life in which you are not alone. Find people you love, and who love you. And remember that love is not leisure, it is work. Pick up the phone. Send an email. Write a letter. Get a life in which you are generous. And realize that life is the best thing ever, and that you have no business taking it for granted. Care so deeply about its goodness that you want to spread it around. Take money you would have spent on beer and give it to charity. Work in a soup kitchen. Be a big brother or sister.

All of you want to do well. But if you do not do good too, then doing well will never be enough. It is so easy to waste our lives, our days, our hours, and our minutes. It is so easy to take for granted the colour of our kids' eyes, the way the melody in a symphony rises and falls and disappears and rises again.

It is so easy to exist instead of to live. I learned to live many years ago. I learned to love the journey, not the destination. I learned that it is not a dress rehearsal, and that today is the only guarantee you get. I learned to look at all the good in the world and try to give some of it back because I believed in it, completely and utterly. And I tried to do that, in part, by telling others what I had learned. By telling them this: Consider the lilies of the field. Look at the fuzz on a baby's ear. Read in the back yard with the sun on your face. Learn to be happy. And think of life as a terminal illness, because if you do, you will live it with joy and passion as it ought to be lived'.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Bole Chudiya...

I have been in a very chudiya mood since last week.

Have mixing and matching my office.

Its not unknown in office. But it is unknown for me to do so. So ofcourse it has sparked all kinds of comments and teasing from my team.

But all said and done, I absolutely love chudiya. Maroon, Pink, Blue, Red, with sparkles, glitter, chamki, metal and oxidize.

Not only do they look fabulous, they make my fat wrist look slender.

And they jingle-jangle (this i reserve for my bus rides when I listening to my latest songs of the week.

Ofcourse they do look more fabulous with my recently highlighted and trimmed hair.

Friday, November 16, 2007

The Week that was

Have had a fantastic one week. Just had to bore everybody with it.

Diwali 2007
I think I will remember this years Diwali as the most fun Diwali ever.

Last year's Diwali was very low key since my grandmas were in the hospital all through Diwali and one of them passed away on Padwa day.
But this year even the shadow of last year's Diwali brought only happy memories.

I spent a whole 4 days in Mumbai this time for Diwali.

My late grandma's sister had called all the entire family for Diwali brunch to their place. Did loads of maja masti there. Had some fantastic home made Diwali pharal there. Good ol' aaji-made karanjis.

After this my parents and I went to my sister's place. Here I spent all the time I was there singing dance songs to my neice. She would be the only person on the planet who actually requests me to sing. So afternoon was spent me singing and she dancing (She is all of 1 year and 9 months today)

Must mention here the attempt at Ring-a-Ring-a-Roses. My mom, my sis, the baby girl, sis's sister-in law and me were teaching the baby girl the game. At the end of the sing we "all fell down" except the little baby ofcourse. And she looks at as if we were insane, wondering why in the world did we all suddenly sit down on the floor.

Anyways, after this, went home, lazed slept etc etc. Then in the evening I went back to a friend's (Mlch's) place in Bandra to do final fitting for my bridesmaid dresses. Did I mention I am going be bridesmaid for my friend at her wedding at a church in Goa. In December. Does it get more perfect?

At night my folks and I did a movie watching night at home with Chak De.


Morning - Read all the newspapers, weekly magazines, Lazed

Afternoon - Lazed, Slept

Evening - Went to a school friends place. Did loads of bakar with her parents and her. Enthralled them with my Marathi poetry. Now this is enthralling not so much bcoz of the poetry but more because it was from the girl who couldn't frame a full sentence in Marathi in her anglicized accent all through her Convent school years.

Was shraadha for grandmom. Even though this was not a happy occassion, most of the morning and afternoon were spent remembering what aaji would have said. And general ribbing and pulling each other's legs.
My S kaka even broke some aawlas off the tree outside the window. And I soaked it in Salt water aaji-style. S Kaka and I spent the whole morning eating aawlaas.

Then Saturday night, some 9-10 of us got together to play teen patti (3 card gambling). I got terrible cards all night long. And I still betted high just to force everybody to raise their stakes.
P Kaka spent all the games trying to cheat. Not quite successfully. He's quite unsubtle and terrible at it. He even tried hiding cards between his toes. :-D

We went out and got this wonderful icecream-kulfi-falooda-rabdi mix that you get at this very small shop nearby at around 11pm. No branded ice cream that ever beat this concoction.

We were up till 1 or so playing cards. And me constantly losing money (on paper that is).

Then in the morning, we all went to have breakfast at this wonderful uduppi.

Ofcourse the whole weekend was spent coming up with jokes about the "marriage-ious" year ahead. My cousins are, 1 a year and a half older to me and one a year and a half marriage jokes are everybody fav topic of conversation.

Spent Sunday with one of my closest friends (AG) We did lunch and a movie and general roaming around and window shopping in Bandra. Had a great time.

Then it was back to Pune.

Pune - 15th Nov
The rest of the part of the week that was great was that I went shopping with a friend (HYMS) yesterday. Saw lots of uselessly vulgarly exorbitant stuff (lingerie included, he was thrilled that they forced lingerie brochures on me) and thankfully didn't buy any. Both of us did a lot of wondering about who buys this expensive lingerie (it was seriouslly crazy) and wondered what exactly they use it for that makes it worth it. Didn't find the one thing I was out looking for. But had loads of fun anyways.

16th Nov
And finally yesterday. Folks stopped in at Pune on their way back from GanpatiPule to Mumbai. Showed them the new house, still in disarray. Mom, obviouslly had a few(!) things to say about the things that still needed to put away.

Also, visited my fav book shop and found the perfect book for T. Its:
"The Jail Notebook and Other Writings
Bhagat Singh
Edited by Chaman Lal
Jail Notebook annotated by Bhupender Hooja"

Am very pleased at the find

And went for a movie last evening with a very dear friend/ old colleague (ABC) of mine. Great movie. Then went to look for dinner at 11 pm. After a long time went into the proper city of Pune. After a failed attempt at his favourite eating place (which was already closed), we went to the restaurant owned by the Mangeshkar family (Lata, Hridaynath et al)

Winter has set in Pune and the night was pleasently chilly making the skin go just slightly numb.
Good weather, good company - a great evening.

All in all, good times spent with family and friends. Lots of ribbing, laughs and some fabulous memories to tuck away.

Monday, November 05, 2007

The Nod

Now, the nod is very wonderful gesture. It can be used to pretend you are understanding, or to show that you agree, or the most complex - to acknowledge someone on the road.

Now this acknowledgement nod is tricky business. It normally is just a quick bob of the head with it ending, and this is very important, back where it started.
The quick bob with no smile is normally reserved for acquaintances who you really don't want to stop and speak to, or worse, who's name you don't remember. This mostly says "I see you. I don't want to stop and talk now. I have acknowledged you. Now lets move on"

The other nod is more of a long upward movement of the head and a then a very small downward movement. It is essential in this move that your head remained slightly raised till you pass out of sight. This nod, commonly used in metros, is normally accompanied by a slight upward twist of the lips on one side (colloquially called a grin).

This is used to acknowledge peers/ friends who are at some distance from you. This is an alternative to screaming out obscenities over that distance, that you normally use at nicknames for that friend.

This nod is in recent times is used in accompaniment with a cell phone. Thus you don't stop talking on the phone but just do the upward nod while talking as if to say " I have a life. I cannot spend it stopping, to talk to you."

A modification to the above nod, is the eyebrow nod. This is only a very slight shift in the angle of your double chin, but who's whole identity rests on the eyebrows. The idea is to raise one eyebrow as a gesture of acknowledgement.
This has a mischievous connotation to it and is normally used in situations where you don't want to disturb the acquaintance.

Now the most delicate of Nods is the good-bye nod. This is used in situations where you make the fatal mistake of stopping to talk to an acquaintance on the road.
Once the regulatory 1.25 mins are done and you have done the how are you, how is boyfriend/ girlfriend, husband, wife, parents, dog, imaginary pet; the "hows work going", you start hinting that you are on your way to some place.

Now most road acquaintances choose to ignore these signals and instead proceed to a long (and supposedly interesting) story of the colour of the sore on the neighbour's cats leg.

Now it's very essential to recognize a logical break in the story (this is what makes a true artiste) and use this pause for breath to remind them that " I have to go. I'm really late." and of course throw the "let's catch up sometime soon" line... and now comes the clincher. You must do the good-bye nod.

This is a quick sharp military style downward nod that stops with a sharp jerk. This says " I have to go now! NOW! NOW! NOW!"

Now some people not schooled in the art of nodding, do not recognize this need of yours to move. And will continue to inunciate the finer points of checking fungus on a sore.
Now this is when the vigourous nodding of the head starts and you start walking backwards.
It is also considered a matter of finesse if you take a first step to turn around during the backward walking trick.

This says " I have left."

Daylight Savings Time

Its 31st December.

One man forgot to turn his clocks back. He knows it actually 11 pm.

But everybody else has turned their clocks back and is pretending its 12 midnight and so starts celebrating. An hour early.

Can someone please explain this to me? Why the need to turn back the clocks?

Quote Unquote

"Who made up the rule that the best loves last forever?"

A Penny for your Thoughts?


I'm not sure what scares me more:

This sentence in today's times of India:

"Musharraf’s move to seize emergency powers and abandon the constitution left Bush administration officials close to their nightmare: An American backed military dictator who is risking civil instability in a country with nuclear weapons and an increasingly alienated public."

Or this in Yesterdays:

“…A 22-year-old woman working as an associate at a Wipro call centre in Pune was raped and murdered, allegedly by the driver of the office cab taking her to work and a friend of his. The two men, high on booze, late on Thursday night stopped the cab at a hamlet along the Pune-Mumbai expressway and raped her and then strangled her and smashed her skull…”


Thanks… my parents.

For letting me make my mistakes. For teaching me my lessons early on in life, and then letting me go out and live my life on my own. For telling me to go manage things on my own. For making the independent person I am today. For still advising me, but respecting my decision to not take it.

For inculcating the responsibility to do my chores, right from childhood.

Thank you, aai and baba, for even though I complained all through childhood and adolescence about rules I hated to follow, I truly appreciate the freedom you gave me.

I met someone recently, who's all grown up and who's parents still followed her everywhere. They came with her to a new city. They got her, her apartment, got her "settled in", didn't let her roam around alone since it was a new city and generally did all the talking and thinking for her.

And I was shocked. At our age, if you haven't cut the umbilical cord yet, you might never be able to.

Thank you also for making me do all the work that needed to be done irrespective of gender stereotypes. I see so many women today who won't do lifting or talking to the handy-men, because that's a "man's job". And I feel sorry for them. For being stuck in a cliché. I grew up doing heavy lifting with my dad. Helped in any electrical for mechanical fixing that needed to be done. Changed bulbs. Carried suitcases. And never gave a second thought to it. Coz I thought everybody was brought up this way. Till I met women today who actually won't do half the work, cause there are boys, na?

Which brings me to my next thought…

I ain't no lady:

I have heard people telling me that I should be more lady like. That I should always speak politely and be gentle. That I should hold me hand to my heart and call the boys when any work needs to be done!

I have never advocated gender stereotypes and I never will. I don't believe that there some jobs only for men and some only for women. I agree certain people might thrive in certain jobs and environments and some in others. But I hate generalization.

Like I mentioned before I grew up in a family which flouted gender stereotypes at least to some extent. And gave us the freedom to explore all things in life irrespective of our gender. (And I mention this because I have seen people who been brought up to think of a man's behavior and a woman's behavior. )

I played tipri and cricket. I broke awlas off trees and played with my kitchen set. My sis and I plaited our doll's hair and played at wrestling.

I was a member of Barbie club and my dad and I made apple pie from it's magazine recipes. I'd lead my mom in cheek-to-cheek dancing around the house. I lifted furniture. I also lifted mom. J

I love knitting. And was the captain to the college girl's cricket team.

I worked in a workshop in college with lathes, and drilling and grinding machines. And loved buying chunky street side anklets, bracelets, chains.

I don't polish my nails regularly and am not worried about chipping them. I jump over walls and get my hands dirty.

I spent two months taking care of sister's 2 month old baby. I stayed up at night with her and carried her and walked with her till she nodded off to sleep against my neck. I changed her nappies and sang lullabies to her. Combed her hair. And later, enjoyed feeding her from a milk bottle.

Until I was 16 (and thin), I ran around in shorts and grubby knees. Alternated with small skirts and pretty lacy tops.

I watch cricket with my entire family and curse the team. I love mostly romantic-comedy and don't like violent movies and horror.

I have traveled standing on furniture in the back on a tempo traveler. And I absolutely love applying mehendi on my hands and loads and loads of colored metal chudiya.

The list could go on. And you'd never know what I am.

I don't always cross my legs. And I don't drink tea with my pinky out. I don't always use appropriate language. I never cover my knees when in skirts. I read and talk about topics that people say I am not supposed to be interested in. I laugh loudly and don't cover my mouth. I play games that make me sweat (not perspire, or glow, sweat!)

But, I cannot be summed up in stereotype.

I ain't no lady. But I'm more of a woman than they could ever be.