Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Weighty Issues

Mumbai is an accommodating city. It is a city in which jam-packed train compartments can always make room for one more. It is a place where landlords will graciously accommodate 5 people in the space meant for one, where narrow roads clogged with cars will still make way for that BEST bus (which should not be allowed in those lanes in the first place).
Where after being stuck at a traffic signal for 45 mins the taxi driver will wait even longer to allow the casual passerby, one who trundles along complacent in the belief that it is his right of way and glaring at the hapless car which comes too close or has the audacity to honk.
Mumbai is a resizing of expectations, one size smaller in everything.
So it is strange that in a city where the space constraint has made Mumbaikars evolve into slight, slim individuals, a survival of the trimmest, would be a city where, against all Darwanian edicts, I would manage to gain weight.
Now I have always been very tall and in a country where tall women are an aberration, it is more of a liability than anything else.
So right from kindergarten where tall equaled big, I have been made to feel guilty about taking up more than my rightful space in the terrain of life.
"Oh god Namrata, you are so BIG", would say a dainty 8 yr old, accusingly, my classmate then, who plainly thought I should be several forms higher coz of my "age" , while I would shuffle uncomfortably and try to look smaller.
Or in middle school when your friends come to about your waist, you would have to slump and slouch and generally contract in an effort to stay more grounded with real people.
You do have your usefulness to society. People identify your group quicker since you rise like a mast amongst a sea of other heads, you generally get pulled in for repair work and changing tube lights (yes I'm BIG if you insist but not necessarily stronger).
During shopping trips all your ready made garments have to go through a customization process and an incredulous salesperson.
Now it’s worse. You are tall as well as fat. That’s a new dimension to your problem.
You become aware that you are sporting those extra pounds, when waiters start showing you low fat options and automatically assume that you would have your coffee without sugar and your tea green, tactful colleagues start referring to you as "just right" instead of slim, you begin to think that jeans shrink a lot more during wash than commonly believed, and when your friends call and say that you look fat in your pictures.
So in a city where you are anyway taking more than your fair share of vertical space, throwing your weight around does not help much. Now you not only have to slouch your shoulders and bend your knees , you also have to suck in your stomach and such a 360 degree contraction is enough to make you curl up into your own ball of shame.
Shopping trips for more strategic clothing are also no fun.
Shopkeeper:"L madam?”
You, optimitic post your week long green tea stint and the lack of glucose making you light headed, fix him with a steely glare.
You: "No M will be fine".
Repair to the changing room where you grapple unsuccessfully with the garment, till your friends knock in concern. Emerge huffing and puffing and red faced your white outfit making you resemble a blushing penguin more than anything human, and assure them that obesity does not cause a heart attack immediately.
Now your mom advises you to go to the gym. "Doesn't help", you snap. "It will make you feel good about yourself", she counters.
"I still feel good about myself. And there is more of me to feel good about anyway. I feel so good I'm hysterical."
But then you watch London Dreams and realize that if Salman Khan does not apologize for his presence in Bollywood, you have no need to.
Well time to stop writing. The green tea is almost over.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Sunset Boulevard

When BW woke up in the morning , she knew it had been too real to be a dream. That the place existed and was not just a figment of her imagination.
She had touched those flowers, their sweet fragrance wafting through her, intoxicating her sun kissed body. She had tasted the icy cold water of the brook which bubbled frothily over mossy boulders. And the fact that she had the dream, the very night she moved here, far from everyone, meant that it was a sign.
That place was here somewhere. Waiting. Especially for her.
So she set off immediately after breakfast.
The early morning light had just begun to seep in between the fronds of the trees skirting the lodge.
The proprietor said that there were many springs and brooks in that area, but if she took the straight road through the woods, she would doubtless come across the one her friend had told her about (it was the only story she could come up with) sooner or later.
She found the first one soon enough. But it was obviously not her brook. The flowers were wilted and the water too muddy.
She found a dry patch on the grass and sat down to rest for the walk had tired her out.

And she dreamt of the little girl who had played house with her friends, and who had brought up a new role for herself every time. Doctors, teachers, actors, dancers, she went through each with a comfortable assurance of her own right to them.
New roles, new possibilities and a belief that possibilities were endless and that ability was infinite.
"You can be whatever you choose darling !" and there was nothing holding her back. But it changed the day she went to school when the teacher said " You are too gauche to be a dancer" and her classmates laughed at the idea of her being an actress. "Get real", they said.
Reality was all about imposing limitations.
BW woke up with a start. The sun was in her eyes almost blinding her and she quickly resumed her walk. The next one was prettier and the flowers especially.
The same flowers he always bought for her because they were so "her". The same flowers he was carrying the day she said , " I don't want you to love me for a reason. I want you to love me for all those imperfections which anyone else would find irritating. I want you to love me because of them and not in spite of them. If these flowers remind you of me , why do you get me new ones everyday? Because you do not like them when they are wilted. I would want you to love the flower regardless of the state it is in, regardless of season, love it when it is fresh but equally when it is wilted. "
BW thought wryly that love blooming was a good analogy for a relationship. Yes it blooms. But it also wilts and fades.
The next one was almost but not quite perfect. There was a sharp nip in the air and the water was too deliciously cold for comfort.
Yes comfort, stability was what one wanted. She thought of the choices she had made.
Any risky alternative was abandoned in favor of the slightly more known. Career choices were conventional, opinions if just her own were too risky and had to be ratified by someone else.
There was comfort in letting others make decisions for your life, it was made easier in a society in which it was the "proper" thing to do.
There was comfort in treading paths once trodden by others and not making the same mistakes. In running away from the unknown and untried, in not going against the opinion of others.
When did comfort become cowardice?
Well she would not let it this time. She trudged along.
When she came to the next one she knew instinctively that it was the one. Here at last could she finally be at peace. But there was always the nagging doubt at the end of her mind. What if there was something better, something unimaginably better further on. Shouldn't she at least try?
When should one learn to be satisfied and stop being ambitious?
And the answer came to her as she watched the sun set ushering in the sudden nightfall. It was too late , too late to go further, too late to turn back , too late to change anything.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

I want to write but cant think of anything

Nice to know that people had been tracking the blog (grins from ear to ear). As for a "good post", we might have to do some "expectation setting" here. This is what happens when you are in a risky sector in a downturn. You swallow all the advice sprouted by the employee motivation and human research columns in a bid to retain your monthly paycheck. Till other sources of funding can be arranged. After all you are just marking time till your dream offer comes along.

But leaving aside me and my job woes (and the fact that the HR columns have warned me strictly against writing anything about my job in public forums ), I could try writing about what else I have managed to do between a 9 -12 pm work schedule (weekends included) for the past few weeks. And I still cant define what I do! (No not what you are thinking).

The only movie I managed to watch was Love Aaj Kal, for which I was 45 mins late. So though I missed the break up party (?? really??), I was in time for Saif's espousal of the new corporate generation having too many things to worry about , like "Global Warming" (typical celeb! Anyone remember the downturn?), to give much thought to love. How apt.

Add to that the scenes where the lovebirds mask their true feelings by pretending to hear someone at the door, we have a movie which provides an amazing insight into the current Indian psyche.

Of course we are no different from the aww-so-romantic generation. We are as sacrificing as them, if not more (they drink black tea , we let them keep their jobs), we love getting beaten up for them, since in this age of digital photography we still have only one picture of her, and we make realizations only during weddings and love breaking them up. Yes we are no different.

But everyone looked hot and danced well (umm except the wooden capers in the Punjabi wedding song) , and the music is preppy. And for a generation too busy trying to keep carbon credits to a minimum could we ask for more?

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Coming back to life

And so I break the jinx which had me closing the window every time I clicked on my blog , either too weary or irritated or too uninspired to post. But on this particularly sleepy workday, I have finally managed to find a proxy to access these erstwhile blocked sites. And so I return, after having been given up for dead..or in this case dumb.

I dont even remember when I last posted so I cant really give an update on what I have been upto since. Just as well.

Monday, January 26, 2009


In days filled with..
Assortments of garments piled high on display, a dizzying collection complete with for sale exclamations ..
A sea of humanity trying to out bargain the other..
A more "sophisticated" sea vying with the other for the more expensive purchase
A sea of consumerism..
Gucci clad women, high heeled and skinny jeaned, flamboyantly bagged, blue toothed cell phoned men, teenagers clad in shorts and black slippers (why does everyone look the same?)..
Amidst a head spinning array of merchandise.....
skin colored make up counters shimmering with blue and pink glitter, blue coloured perfume shelves, each fragrance more saccharine than the other, steel and diamond watches, cold to the touch, bags and belts glaring from the sidelines, shoes and accessories glittering and golden, coffee counters with a nauseating aroma of hastily brewed- muddy beverages in Styrofoam cups and crumbs of muffin on the tables....
In the midst of all this imagine..
A brown branch of a tree bent in the night breeze, with dark green leaves , specked with dew, and in the pale light of the moon, the bough is inky blue and the leaves inky green and the dewdrops glistening like globules of mercury swaying gently in the breeze..
The taste of bittersweet coffee drunk after a chunk of dark chocolate, the ones with nuts, smothering the sweetness with its subtle fragrance, the first few sips only, warm and invigorating..
A single pink rose, swept wildly in the breeze, in the windowsill of the house on the edge of the cliff, looking down on the chalky white sea raging behind, observed in the moonlight by the stranger in the house..
The sense of clam which pervades after you cry your heart out..
The first rush of love or affection at the sound of a long forgotten voice, or the involuntary smile at their messages..
Music which electrifies you in a movie theatre , spine-tingling , mesmerising melody..
Early morning paper reading sessions with a cup of tea..
Standing in an air conditioned room and feeling the warmth of the sun through a bay window..
A few flavours to get you started..