Thursday, September 26, 2013

Why grow up?

***All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts**

We attend meetings, we hangout with friends, we shop at supermarkets, we bargain on the streets -- we assume different shades everyday; play many parts, as Shakespeare rightly said. And all through, we have several layers to our personality, that masks the real us from the rest of the world. Reality is, within us, within each one of us, is a child, that probably comes out only in the company of certain special people. For others, we are the ‘strict’ bosses, we are ‘meek’ employees, we are the ‘tough’ negotiators and we are the ‘strong’ personalities. But for some, the ‘special’ some, we are children --uninhibited, carefree, none of whose moves are calculated.

The other day, lost in the thoughts of my handsome hubby, I squeezed my little finger as I was shutting the door to the balcony. I looked at him, tears pooling inside my eyes, lips quivering and I rushed to him, kneading my eyes with my fist, rubbing my runny nose with the back of my hand and mumbling, “it hurts,” as he tried to pacify me. Now, had there been someone else too at home, I would’ve probably let the tears roll down my cheeks, just like any soap actress would’ve done, wiped them off gently with my fingers, and would’ve walked across the hall gracefully to treat the injury. But no, it was only my husband who was there, and I didn’t feel the need to hold back that child in me.

These are the special people for whom we are special, no matter how demented we seem to be. When I go out, I make sure I am prim and proper, that my dresses and shoes match, that every strand of my hair gives the ‘livon’ models a run for their money. But at home, be it with my parents or with my husband, I am mostly at my shabbiest best. I roam around in my shorts and tees, roll up my hair in a bun and give a damn to the way I look. As established by the K soaps, women spend hours in front of the mirror to get the look that would floor their better halves, but reality is, we are more comfortable being the children we are deep inside, than wearing masks to impress them.

I pick up just-dropped morsels of food from the floor and eat them (don’t judge me), I scratch my head, I bite my nails, I forget to apply lotion, I do weird dance steps, I talk (A LOT), I make faces, I burp, I do all the things that I’m not supposed to do, otherwise. We all do, don’t we? But, these are things that we wouldn’t imagine doing in public...not in the wildest of our dreams. However, in the company of some ‘special’ people -- parents, siblings, husband/wife, friends-- we allow that child that’s hiding within us, within each one of us, to tear off all the masks. We become what we are, shedding the other different shades of our personality, becoming a child and taking comfort in the presence of these people. It is in their company, that we discover the delight of being maskless, of not having to live up to standards and not having to ‘act’.

And although, Shakespeare’s lines are oh-so-true, yet, we don’t have to be yet another character when we are in the company of our loved ones. That’s probably what God made family and friends for!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Aakhir, ummeed par hi toh duniya kayam hain!

I close my eyes and hear Amitabh Bachchan’s husky voice saying this. However, it was not until my wedding got fixed that I realised how every single word in this line makes sense. Right from hoping that the shopping will fit into into our pocket, to hoping the function will go off smoothly, to hoping to meet my hubby soon, ummeed par hi meri bhi duniya kayam thi…

The wedding was like a trance. The rituals; the numerous saree changes; the big, fat family; the cake-faced me, trying to stop myself from killing the photographer, who was suggesting awfully silly poses; the sweat; the several hands passing on gifts and congratulatory messages...honestly, I had no idea what on earth was happening there!!

The short and sweet honeymoon, the Guwahati reception -- it seemed like everything was happening far too quickly. If the build-up to the wedding was very long, the wedding itself happened in a flash! And before I knew it, I was at the station, all packed up, ready to part ways from my parents’ place. The pain of tearing yourself away from your parents’ place is bad...but what’s worse is, there is a tiny part inside you that’s all excited, to begin a new life, in a new place, with a new person…

When I set foot in Hyderabad, I didn’t know what was in store for me. I was gazing at the buildings, the roads, the streets, the ‘under construction’ metro, with the ‘this is my city now’, feeling slowly beginning to sink in. I had no idea how life would be -- fast, or slow, whether the city would embrace me, whether I would find friends, whether I would be able to mould myself into the role of a wife...and the biggest of them all, will life become different now?

Honestly, I was a bit scared (‘a bit’ would be one hell of an understatement!), after all, I had left behind my own city, my job, my family, my friends and my comfort zone, and I was stepping into something totally new -- new home, new city, new people, new language, new role...I was scared whether I would be able to settle down, whether I would be able to adjust..

But then, I did settle down, I did adjust. The pieces of the jigsaw puzzle are falling in place one by one. The city has now become mine, in the truest sense -- the pearls, the Charminaar, the journeys to Uppal, my new job, the dum biriyani and the people...With an awesome set of friends and a cozy house to boot, I’m not complaining!!

As they say, the jitters are bound to be there, the questions are bound to pop up every now and then. No matter who we are, and no matter what we do, we get scared, we get intimidated and we start doubting. But clinging on to hope is the only thing that helps us sail through, that helps us dispel the silly doubts. I was scared too, but in hope, I found the answer. Aakhir, ummeed par hi toh duniya kaayam hain!

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Letting off some steam!

I’m a housewife. Correction: I’m a working housewife. Confused? I work from home, I work for home. There are times when my schedule is an absolute mess; when I’m doing the dishes that magically seem to pile up in the kitchen sink every two hours, and I realise that the newswire has updated itself with some other ‘breaking news’. So, off I rush to my work station, which is actually a cute little corner in my house. I wipe my hands and tap away on my keyboard.

My daily routine essentially requires me to juggle between office work and homework. A ten-minute break from office work means domestic duties calling -- brooms, mops, scrubs and what not. But you know what, I love doing what I do. I enjoy being involved in every little chore, and the satisfaction of glistening dishes, of shiny tiles and a prim and proper house is unparalleled.

But, but, but, everyday is not as easy as it seems to be. Some people walk up to me and say, “Wow, you work from home? Why do you guys even need a leave? Everyday is like a leave for you!” I mean, first of all, there’s no ‘wow’ in working from home (ask me!) Yes, there are perks, definitely, but it’s not ‘wow’ in any case. I can’t start working peacefully till the kitchen is clean, till the bed is made or till the time my husband’s lunch is packed. I’m a classic case of OCD, alright, but most women working from home would share that feeling.

There are days when the frustration of not being able to be around people starts creeping in. And before you know it, that dreaded lump is back in my throat, and I begin to fight back tears that seem to be inside me in litres! There are days when the routine becomes agonisingly monotonous, with waiting for company sucking into my system. There are days when the pressure is intense and I’m racing against time to meet deadlines. Those are days when the temper is hot and short!

I go to my favourite part of the house -- the kitchen. It’s my favourite part not just because it stores some yummy munchies, but also because I get to create fun stuff too. The kitchen, which was not long back my most dreaded enemy, is now my dearest friend; one that takes away my worries, and one that lets me be me!

And while the cooker blows the whistle, I let off some steam too, forgetting all that happened during the day. The beautifully chopped veggies, the aroma of the masalas of various colours, the mish-mashing, the art of experimenting, the perfectly fluffy phulkas, the moment my tastebuds declare some new dish to be a success, all that makes the sweat look like a well-deserved applause.

The kitchen was scarily alien to me at first, but with time and the support of my husband, perfect recipes from my mum and mum-in-law, I slowly learnt how to negotiate the tricky bits, and embrace the kitchen as my best buddy!

Yes, at times I feel like ditching the kitchen and bunking cooking (I feel guilty, too), to which hubby dearest agrees without a crease on his forehead. But, cooking, for me, has become the next best thing after writing, for in whipping up some magic in the kitchen, just like stringing hand-picked words together to create a beautiful piece, lies the ultimate joy of creating stuff from scratch!

Friday, September 13, 2013

Give me wings!

I am a daughter, a wife, a sister. I am a woman. I want to feel free, breathe easy, move around, without the lines of worry showing up on my forehead. Give me wings, for I want to fly, reach the pinnacles of success and stand on my feet. Give me wings, for I want to fly…

I’m an ambitious woman. I like being busy, I like working hard. I don’t crib about workload, of having to juggle the roles a working woman and a housewife everyday. I like moving around, I like being independent. But, I don’t like being scared. I don’t like it when people are worried for me, when family needs regular updates. Give me wings, I say, for I want to fly.

But how can I fly when my wings are clipped? How can I soar to heights when I am caged? I panic, try to escape. But is there any way out?

The Telangana bandh had crippled Hyderabad, or at least, parts of it. My colleague was kind enough to pick me up, and one way of the journey was negotiated. But, “Leave before 4 pm,” he warned me, saying as dusk would start setting in, it would get increasingly difficult for me to get back home, ‘safe’. I was worried - there were no buses, and autos didn’t look like a safe option either. So, I decided to book a cab, and be ‘safer’.

Thanks to some confusion, the cab driver had reached a place a bit ahead of where my office was. So, I had to walk for a good 20 minutes before I could reach the place where my cab was waiting. And in the 20 minutes that I took to reach, my phone had gone bonkers, buzzing incessantly. My mother wanted to know where I was, my husband wanted to know the same, too. The cab driver was getting antsy, asking me how much time would it take. My dad wanted to know my whereabouts, my worried mom-in-law called, too.

As I approached my cab, sweating in the sweltering heat, a drunk guy, out of the blue, popped right in front of my face, yelling “Jai Telangana” and walked away, the stench of alcohol making bile rise in my throat.

Even after I took the cab, the phone kept buzzing, with my mom, dad and husband asking for regular updates. For a moment, I wanted to fling the damned piece of technology out of the window, but I slipped myself into their shoes.

If I were a mother, wouldn’t I want to know where my young daughter is; whether she is safe, whether the cab driver is a decent fellow, whether she’ll reach home safe? If I were a husband, wouldn’t my wife’s safety run on my mind all the time? If I were a father, wouldn’t I worry? Yes, I would. So, I patiently answered all the calls, dousing the flames of tension that each one of them was engulfed in.

I got back home, pondering over whether there would be a day in my life, when I could travel alone, relieved that my family is tension free? Would that day come, when mothers, fathers, husbands, brothers wouldn’t worry about the safety of the girls of their families?

I am a daughter, a wife, a sister. I am a woman. I want to feel free when I walk down the street. I don’t want to be worried that some stranger is lurking around, waiting to pounce on me. I don’t want to be conscious, I don’t want to be scared. I want to be independent, I want to be confident. Give me wings, for I want to fly…

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Waiting for Godot

***You crib, complain and say you need a break. You might have obese bank balances, the most comfortable jobs, plush apartments and what not -- but, there’s always a missing link. You crave for something, either that you can’t afford, or, something that none of the currency in the world can buy. You wait for an unknown entity that will change your life with a swish of its magic wand; we all do. We wait for Godot.***

There are days when you wake up - all fresh, happy, energetic. There is a gush of generosity that rushes through your veins, a vivacious energy that pulsates through your system. And then, there are days when you foresee trouble; when you trip in front of people you’re trying to impress, when the washroom door shuts with such a loud bang, that the entire office knows you’re in there, peeing to glory! The days when you stammer, spill tea on the nice and shiny white tiles, and days when you act plain weird.

There are days when you brim with love unconditional; when you nurture, take care of people, be the good person you are, with an extra dose of goodness. You cook, adding an extra blob of love, scrub the bathroom tiles, till they start reflecting your face. You sing like a cuckoo, dance like poetry in motion, look so stunning, that every mirror on the wall would claim you’re the prettiest of them all.

Then there are days when you feel completely detached, devoid of emotions, indifferent, thinking, “Dammit, who cares?!” Those are the days when you’re unkempt, you do things for the sake of doing it, feel irritated and yell at the slightest reason possible. There are also days when the emotions are a riot, when the dam bursts and the tears don’t stop gushing down till you’re purged; when the most trivial things create that big, bad lump in your throat. The days when you watch the daily soaps and try to squeeze yourself in the stilletoes of every character that weeps, the day when washrooms serve as your secret emotional vent.

There are days when you feel like everything is going right, that whatever you’d always dreamt of, is just inches away from your grasp; days when you look at life wearing your oversized pink shades. And just when you slip into that trance effortlessly, events unfold in a manner that you’re forced to think otherwise. Your plans look like they’re falling apart, and the future, well, there’s a point in time when you think it doesn’t even exist.

And everyday, when you open your eyes to the beautiful sun that dazzles the world, you wake up with the hope that it will be a new day, a wonderful one, despite not knowing what are the surprises and jolts that life has up its sleeve. You hope, dream, live, braving the odds, negotiating the sharp turns, waiting for a change - a good one.

***You wait for an unknown entity that will change your life with a swish of its magic wand; we all do. We wait for Godot.***

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Being Human - best gift to our first teachers, our parents

The market was bustling with people; the din, the lights, the colourful shops boasting of their merchandise could fascinate any child. With button-like eyes gleaming at the goodies up for sale, I took a liking to everything displayed on the glass doors, hanging on the roadside shops, on the sheets spread over the road. I would halt every now and then, tugging at my parents’ fingers, looking at them with expectation-brimming eyes, making the cutest of all puppy faces. As I was hopping along in between my ammai-appa, I noticed a frock - sky blue with a frilly laces, sequined, and a layer of blue satin peeking through the frills. I took fascination to my ‘dream’ frock...I could see myself swirling around in the frock, the other little children eyeing me with envy. I wanted it, my dream frock.

I stopped, tugged at ammai’s pallu and made the same puppy face, again, effortlessly. “I want that,” I said, pointing to my dream in blue. “No,” she said, “We just got you one dress. Being greedy is bad, we’ll get you a new frock for Diwali, ok?” “No, no, no,” I wailed, “I want this fock, I want it, I want,” the 7-year-old I said, stomping my feet, cranky as ever. “No, means no,” she said, rolling her eyes. I plonked myself on the road, protesting, not taking ‘no’ for an answer. Ammai-appa tried talking me out of it nicely, but when I started wailing, demanding the ‘fock’ be mine, they walked on, leaving me behind, sitting on the road, scratching my head, not knowing what to do next.

I was terrified. I thought my ammai-appa are so mad at me, that they’ve decided to abandon me and take a ‘good’ child home, instead. I ran as fast as I could, saying, “I don’t want that fock, ammai, I don’t want that fock. I won’t be greedy, don’t leave me here.”

I never asked for an extra ‘fock’ ever again. At home, I was always given freedom to eat what I liked, play with every toy, read every book. But when we visited other people, ammai’s eyes would be on me, like an eagle, to make sure I didn’t touch anything without permission, that I didn’t jump around, that I was civilised. Appa is a person who’s never raised his voice, and he made sure that I never raised my voice either. “It’s alright to get angry, but you don’t have to shout to show your anger,” he’s always said.

If we believe that teachers are the ones who use the blackboard, who wield their rulers at us, caning us for our mistakes and make us read aloud from our books, we are living in a misconception. We are taught even before we enter the school campus. The first ABCDs of our lives aren’t taught by teachers; they are taught by our parents. A teacher’s role probably is limited to the four walls of the classroom, and to a specific stage in our lives. But parents continue teaching us all through our lives, telling us little somethings everytime we go wrong.

That’s why, when I see little kids bawling their lungs out, behaving badly, acting cranky and shouting, I don’t blame them. The behaviour of a child reflects the kind of training that parents have given him or her. Parents are the world’s best, most effective teachers. They not just teach, they care, nurture, reprimand and love. They wear so many hats, and yet, at times, we take them for granted, without realising that it is us, around whom their lives revolve. So, on teachers day, it is not all about showering your teachers with greeting cards and gifts packed in shiny wrapping paper. It’s about showing them you’ve learnt things they have taught. And for parents, the best gift on teachers day would be us being the good human being they raised us to be. That’s all we need to do to make them happy...

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Some things money can't buy...

We’re busy people; busy meeting deadlines, busy calling up celebrities who refuse to take calls, busy in meetings, busy doing some of this, busy doing lots of that. We’re so busy, that we curse our cell phones for buzzing incessantly, and we cut off people who remember us and spare some time and money to call us. We’re busy running around, getting work done, chasing buses, and doing ‘important’ things. Yes, we are busy people.

I was waiting at the bus stop, pacing up and down, waiting for that damned signal to go green, so that I could get a glimpse of the God-sent bus. But, it looked like God had snoozed off and had forgotten about my bus altogether. If the heat, the feel of a sweat drop trickling down my spine and the frustration of having had to wait for almost an hour wasn’t enough to frustrate the living hell out of me, the one-inch heels and a swollen ankle post a staircase fall added to my misery. The dusk was creeping into night; it was getting darker, and the faces near me were beginning to get scarier.

I took a detour, in the hope of finding some other way of getting closer to my destination. After almost an hour of wait, I got a bus that took me halfway. Well, almost. Amidst bawling kids and sweaty people, I stood for an hour, waiting to get to the station, from where I would have to take another bus to reach the place from which hubby dearest had promised to pick me up.

“Tation, tation, tation,” yelled the conductor, and I got off, thinking I would be standing bang in from of the Secunderabad station. But then, there was no ‘tation’ around, and after taking directions from people on the road, I realised that it would take me a good 10-minute brisk walk ‘lopal’ (inside) to get to the station bus stop. So lopal I walked, from under a bridge, over a footpath with missing tiles, just to realise that the station area is creepy, with some of the creepiest creatures lurking around, waiting for a chance to brush past, make skin contact.

After all of that, I spotted a bus heading home and I ran behind it, dragging my legs that had now begun to protest. Puffing and panting I got in, and made a dash towards the last seat available. I plonked myself promptly, and looked at the other poor souls who made it late to the finishing line, grinning a sadistic grin. As the bus moved, growls from my stomach made me realise that I was starving. The burst of aroma from a roadside food joint almost forced me to jump out of the window and devour some, but I thought, never mind, home is close.

I was frustrated to the core, so much, that I just wanted to shut myself in and doze off without moving an inch, without doing the social niceties and without much talk. Just when I thought I didn’t want to see anyone’s face, my phone started buzzing. The screen said, “Shonu calling”. That’s when I realised, that I did want to see someone’s face, did want to talk. I couldn’t wait any longer. It felt like our first date, when I couldn’t stop the butterflies from fluttering around in my tummy, when the anxiety of seeing him made my cheeks go warm; when all I wanted was to see his face and hold his hand.

And when I finally got off from the bus, his warm smile, his open arms and his presence -- they made the frustration evaporate, they made the fatigue disappear. And the packetful of corn samosas in his hands -- divine!! There are some things money can't buy.

Yes, we are busy people, doing some of this and lots of that; so busy that we cut off people who remember us and spare some time and money to call us. But, at the end of a long, tiring day, it is these people that we want to rush back to, it is these people who comfort us with their soothing voices. At the end of a long day, we don’t want to shut ourselves in; we want to talk and share our experiences, because it is in being with them that we are the busiest, the happiest...