Saturday, November 21, 2015

What does a guy say to that?

“It’s the Taj Mahal, it’s a monument of love. People find that romantic.”
“It’s a tomb. There is nothing romantic about a tomb. It’s like a fancy graveyard. Why don’t people take their girlfriends to the graveyard?”
“Oh come on, you know the story. The Emperor had it built for his fav. Queen, and when he was imprisoned by his son, all he wanted was to be able to see the monument so he could be close to his love.”
“Dude, he was an Emperor. He wanted to build something to show off his wealth. And please, you think he knew a thing about love? What, he got workers’ hands cut off after they built the monument. Didn’t think they had someone at home who loved them?”
“He wanted it to be unique, just like his love was.”
“Hey, there was nothing unique about his love. Strip away the mystery and mumbo jumbo, and love is just like all the other emotions... Totally common. Think about it... Love, greed, hunger, anger, sorrow, joy. You find them everywhere. Every human being experiences them. Nothing unique about a King falling in love. If you want to buy into that idea, of course.” 
You scoff.
“Yeah? What makes you think he didn’t love her? What about spending ten years staring at it from his prison?”
“Umm, did I mention he wasted a load of money on building that thing to show off? Of course he spent ten years rueing his mistake. If he had used that money in better governance, he wouldn’t have been imprisoned. And his wife died in childbirth. Her fourteenth kid in fifteen years, or something. Not romantic, just sad that the woman had no say over her body, that he had no control over his lust and that he tried to use her death to glorify himself. Oh and it's a totally valid case for birth control!”
“Wow, that's harsh. And so politically incorrect. So I take it you don’t want to visit it?”
“Says who? Of course I want to visit! It’s a beautiful piece of architecture. I’m just not interested in buying the romance that people try to package it with. That’s like saying the pyramids are romantic.”
“You do realise that people do say that the pyramids are romantic?”
“See, you just proved my point. They’re tombs as well. Tombs of Kings with egos bigger than mountains. Nothing romantic about self aggrandisement!”
“Do you ever take anything at face value? Ever just appreciate something for what it symbolises or just let it have a sentimental meaning?”
A secretive smile... an almost blush... a grin. Your hand in mine.
“Yeah, sometimes. But not when I’m with you. You’re too much fun to argue with, even though you don’t counter half the rubbish I spew, even when I know I’m being ridiculous, and even when you have valid rebuttals. It keeps me happy.”
What does a guy say to that? 

Friday, November 20, 2015

The Alphabet Tag

It's been a while since I posted here, so when I recently got tagged on one of those chain-tag things, I figured I'd put my answers up here. About time this place got some action. Maggie, my blog thanks you :)

So here's an alphabetic list of inconsequential things about me:

A: Age

B: Biggest Fear
Having to deal with this mess of a life alone, maybe.

C: Current Time
8:15 pm

D: Drink you last had
Coconut Water

E: Every day starts with
Figuring out where I am, and what I have to do, and then water.

F: Favourite Song
Don't have one. I like music. I like a lot of different music.

G: Ghosts, are they real
Sure, why not.

H: Hometown
Don't actually have one.

I: In love with
Lemon tarts

J: Jealous of
Nah, that would take too much energy.

K: Killed someone?
I hope not. That would be most inconvenient.

L: Last time you cried
Probably last week at the end of a movie (Taare Zameen Par) when they have that art competition. That sequence always makes me cry with happiness, cause it has all these people sitting around drawing and painting and playing with colour. Nothing better.

M: Middle name
Don't have one, unless you count 'Tataiya' (wasp), which is what I called myself after a wasp stung me as a kid. Random fact: I've been stung thrice in my life by these little yellow stingy things.

N: Number of siblings

O: One wish
World Peace. For real. And for people to have a little more sense. And for desserts not to make you fat. Those are all parts of the same wish.

P: Person you last called
Mom, cause she's still in school and it's night.

Q: Question you're always asked
These days, 'most everyone asks how dad is. I don't think I inspire a lot of questions.

R: Reason to smile
Waking up safe and healthy. Oh, and trees.

S: Song last sung
Don't remember. Probably some old hindi song that was on TV and I sang along.

T: Time you woke up
9 am today, I was being lazy for once.

U: Underwear colour

V: Vacation Destination
Right now, I'd love to go somewhere with a nice, peaceful beach.

W: Worst habit
Procrastination. It just makes the work pile up and then I get stressed.

X: X-rays you've had
The last one was probably of my right hand, when I'd broken it, many years ago.

Y: Your favourite food
No one thing. I like most good food. I'd choose homemade Kashmiri food over almost anything, though.

Z: Zodiac Sign

Right, so I'm not nominating anyone, cause I don't feel like it, and cause I'm eating a burger that is asking me not to do it. And maybe a little bit cause dad has been talking to me non-stop in the background and it's giving me a bit of a headache.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Things I Love About Summer-4

Every year, around mid-Feb, there is a definite shift in my mood. It's not all in one direction, though. For some reason, every year at this time, I feel as though things are spiraling out of control, that I can't deal with people anymore, that nothing is worth the effort. At the same time, I feel a peculiar peace when I am (preferably) alone, near a tree or two. This is when spring shows up, scattering life all around. Trees have those adorable fresh green leaves that darken as the days pass.

Flowers start blooming, splashing colour across the otherwise rather dusty landscape of Delhi. It helps get through these few months of the year when I feel most non-social. Oh, Bouganvillea, in white and purple, pink and red. Such a joy!

However, that is all about spring. By the time summer hits, the green isn't tender any longer. It's heat-hardened, deep and usually covered by a layer of dust. And still, the flowers bloom. There are some flowers I always have associated with summer. No, Amaltas isn't it for me. Over the last twelve years, Gulmohar has, however, crawled in and made a place in my heart. The flowers are unusual and pretty; even the leaves are pretty in a delicate fringed way.

But way back when I was a wee kid, it was Hibiscus that was the summer flower in my mind. I associated it with summer holidays, though I dimly acknowledged that it seemed to flower throughout the year. That wasn't important. The flowers were there in summer, so that proved my summer-flower hypothesis.

I also found it rather intriguing that it was called 'China Rose'. I couldn't understand why it would have another name when 'Hibiscus' was sufficiently fancy. I also didn't know that it came in any colour other than that deep, dark red. Over the last fifteen or so years, I didn't see it much around where I live now. But during a recent trip, there it was, red and summer and memories, calling out to me.

It's not like I don't like other flowers. But these are summer for me.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Things I Love About Summer-3

The title of this post may be just a little misleading. See, I Love Lemonade. But that is true all year round. Lemonade could be counted as one of the things I love about any given season, as long as I have a lemon or two at hand.

Lemonade is one of the things that make an otherwise annoying day bearable. It relaxes me. It makes me happy. It even cures headaches.

Lemons are also pretty. This is important; a lemon meets the most exacting requirements for the perfect food... it looks good, smells divine and tastes refreshingly tangy.

Life giving you lemons? Make lemonade. It's awesome!

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Things I Love About Summer-2

That I wake up early and it's already light outside!
In this light I can see dust particles swirling around lazily. For some reason, that always makes me smile.

It's summer, and I can chase sunrays, stepping only on patches of light or shadow. It's summer, and in the summer morning, I can hear birdsong in the trees just outside my window. It's summer and maybe time for a few more freckles.  

Friday, June 13, 2014

Things I Love About Summer-1

For so many years, summer meant two months of vacation - no school, no homework, just a lot of time to play, read, dream and have copious amounts of lemonade. Not much has changed. Of course, I can now take time off from work any time I like, but vacations during summer are still special. To uphold the fine tradition of Summer Vacations, I make it a point to go places where I can read, dream and have copious amounts of lemonade, uninterrupted by mundane matters.

Last May and June, I visited Shimla, Ajmer, Pushkar, Goa and Shillong.

Summer rain in Shimla                                                                                       


This year, so far, I've been to Ladakh and Lansdowne.


This is me being a regular tourist. It's what regular tourists do, visiting mountains in summer. I am also skilled at being a regular tourist visiting the seaside, but more on that later, perhaps. 

Saturday, April 13, 2013

One morning, on the beach

The woman was definitely angry. Oh, she was trying to hide it, camouflaging her stiff shoulders under the soft fall of her shoulder-length hair. But that grim look about her lips? Those highly glossed lips spoke of gritted teeth and possibly some amount of gnashing as well. But the woman was not bad looking, for all that. Just not the person I'd like to spend the morning with. And unless I was mistaken, that was what I would end up doing, unless I moved in the next thirty seconds.

But I was comfortable. The umbrella shaded the deckchair at just the right angle, my cushion had worked its way down my back to just the right spot, and the glass of lemonade in my hand was delicious. I was comfortable and the view was delightful and I really did not want to give all that up because of one potentially annoying woman. Or maybe I just wanted to know what was eating her.

So I took another sip of my lemonade and looked out to the sea, watching the waves rushing onto the beach. They were just about ready to recede when I became aware of movement to my right. An evidently overstuffed beach bag was dumped unceremoniously next to my own, raising a little puff of dust that managed to irritate me. I am not fond of dust on my bags. I did not raise a dust about it, though. 

She sat on the deckchair. She rummaged about in her bag for something. That poor bag was so stuffed that some other stuff fell out. She pulled out a bright pink scarf that almost made me smile. It was so exactly what I expected her to own. She pulled out a tube of cream and then pushed it back. She pulled out a bottle of lotion. She pulled out a thick book with a bright cover. Why was everything about this woman so bright? She might just start annoying me if she didn't stop her distracting antics. We both knew why she had come down to the beach, and it wasn't to read. But then again, why should I make her life easier?

That thought, tempered by another sip of that wonderful lemonade, cooled me down. This would be interesting. Something to tell my friends. Maybe something to blog about. Who knew?

She seemed to pause for a moment, and I could have sworn I felt her glaring at me. Then with a lot of jangling of bangles and swishing of sundress, she made herself comfortable. I was relieved, to be honest. The way that woman had been going on, I thought she would spend the entire morning packing and repacking that beach bag of hers.

“Such a lovely view, isn’t it?” she gushed. Aha, there it was, the expected and entirely trite opener.

I merely smiled. I knew I had to save my breath for later.

“We just arrived last night. You must have been here a few days already, I guess? I mean you seem to have taken the best spot here!” she trilled with a slightly fake laugh.

I yawned and said, “I’ve been here three days.”

She took that as license to further our acquaintance.

“Are you here alone? I mean you seem to be here alone. Most people don’t like holidaying alone, do they? It’s more fun when you are with someone, isn’t it?” Clearly, she was getting at something here, and subtlety wasn’t her strong point.

“Apparently it’s a matter of opinion,” I replied, deciding not to snub her outright. “You are not here alone, I guess.”

“Oh no! I’m here with my husband.”

Ah, there it was, that possessive lilt on the last word, that slight aggression leaking into her tone. Now we were getting somewhere.

“Really? That’s nice for you, I’m sure,” I replied.

“Oh yes, we got married just a month back. You know how it is with newly-weds,” she gushed, her lashes doing a poor job of masking the daggers her eyes were shooting at me. Maybe she needed false eyelashes or something.

“I am not married, so I can’t claim to know. But I’m sure you are very happy,” I replied with a bland smile.

It worked. She could barely contain her indignation. “I am! We are! It is the best thing that has happened to us! It’s not surprising that some people are probably jealous of us.”

Suddenly, I was tired of waiting for this annoying woman to get to the point. She was clearly not averse to ruining my entire morning with her pointless chatter and bright pink scarf. Besides, I was never a great fan of veiled barbs and conversations conducted entirely in another person’s mind.

“Is that what’s worrying you, then?” I asked.

“I’m not worried. My husband and I couldn’t be bothered by such people. Everyone knows that some people just like to make trouble. Let barking dogs bark, that is what I believe,” she said, pursing up her lips.

“You take such a mature view of things. But I am still young. If this wasn’t our first meeting, I would have said you were trying to warn me off, strange as that may sound,” I commented, crossing my ankles and sipping my lemonade.

She gasped. She obviously hadn’t expected me to fight back, in whatever war she had brought me.

“I am younger than you!” she asserted. Oh right, that is what she would get out of it. But young wasn’t always a good thing, and it was time she learnt that.

“You look it! How old are you?”

“Twenty-two,” she replied, looking a little mollified. “My husband is a businessman. Maybe you’ve heard of him.”

Oh, is that how she was going to play it? It was time to end the charade.

“Sheetal, do you want to stop pretending you don’t know who I am? And if you want to keep up this cloak and dagger pretence you had going, then maybe we could continue in the evening? I rather like having a peaceful morning,” I said, looking straight at her.

She seemed riled. “How did you know who I am?”

“Facebook,” I replied succinctly.

She drew in a breath. “So you have been stalking him, have you? But you better stay away from him. I don’t care how long you two were dating and I don’t care how well you think you knew him. You stay away!”

I thought she looked a little hysterical. She certainly sounded that way. So I just raised an eyebrow in this way that I have, and asked, “What makes you think I am even interested anymore?”

“You are here. You found out we were coming here, didn’t you? Listen, it’ll be better for all of us if you just go away.” She seemed to think she had reasoned everything out so logically.

But someone had to burst her bubble, and preferably before breakfast. So I took it on myself. “Sheetal, get a grip. Ask your dear husband why he chose this resort for a holiday. He knows I own the place.”

“Y-you own the r-resort?” she stuttered. This was news, it seemed. I felt a little bad for her. I had been pretty na├»ve at twenty-two myself.

“The island, actually. But that is really not the point.” Actually it kind of was, but I didn’t want to say it out loud. I sighed and stretched. So much for a relaxing morning on the beach.

I got up, slung my bag over my shoulder and looked down at her with a grin. “Don’t look so horrified. Tell Madhav I said hello.” With that, I walked off, leaving her gaping.

So the morning wasn’t a total waste. I may have been upset a year ago when we had broken up, but this morning, my unholy amusement at the thought of him having to spend his life with Sheetal as his wife actually made up for it.