Epilogue

So, Doc’s boy read the last post. He thought it was funny, and introduced himself as the guy with my phone number. I could’ve been embarrassed, but was just glad for his humour.

But, how do you react when a guy compares you to Homer Simpson?

Well, I just thanked him for ‘unsulting’ me back. What would you have done?

P.S. He’s probably reading this, too, but I suppose there was ‘unsult’ enough in the last post to bother much about making this public! 🙂

Celebrating First Blogiversary with tartlets & a Giveaway! (via )

Celebrating First Blogiversary with tartlets & a Giveaway! Finally after the clouds tantalizing us for days, they decided to shower us with some water! And oh what a downpour! I have always loved the smell of freshly wet parched land! And since it started raining a little after I put a fig-date nut torte in the oven, the whole house smelled doubly good. Couldn't wait for it to bake and have a warm slice with some tea, sitting outside, listening to some good music and enjoying the weather! And that's exac … Read More

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Life’s a lesson

Doc has a knack for it. She’ll disappear, off the phone, off FB, off the face of the earth, but every time I’m sick, even if it’s just a sneeze-inducing, brain-addling allergy like I had recently, she turns up. How she does it, is anybody’s guess. Strange as it is, Doc and I have no direct connection, except that we went to the same school. You’d say that’s a connection, but actually, it’s not. She went to the said school the six years that I didn’t and I went there the two years that she didn’t. Basically, we both studied with the same people, at different points in time, and so, have countless mutual friends. I’d met her in passing a couple of times, but knew nothing beyond the fact that she wanted to be a doctor. Then, about two years ago, we were re-introduced. “Happytoberandom writes about babies (I was, at the time, writing for a magazine for parents) and Doc delivers babies (she’d been interning with a gynaecologist),” said The Lazy Housewife. No, we did not bond over the babies at all. But by the end of the evening, Doc and I had decided we were decidedly fond of each other. We had made the fraandships.

No, this is not a post about our fraandships. I just wrote the above para because I felt like it. This post is actually about an interesting point that came out of our conversation, while my brain was still addled and I was sneezing my innards out (Oh, did I just disgust you? Well, I’m not sorry :p). So, apart from showing up when I’m sick and having the ability to make me take meds (how I hate those things), Doc also has a knack for saying some of the most profound things, without quite intending to. Now, I usually don’t go into that area (profundity) in my posts. But that one intended-to-be-funny statement Doc made has had me thinking, and questioning its truism.

So, Doc was trying to sell me the idea of meeting this friend of hers, a boy of course. She used every rationale possible–he’s tall, she thinks he’s good-looking, he’s intelligent, he’s just moved to this city and knows very few people, blah blah blah. I finally conceded. Well, she’d convinced me, but was at a loss as to what was to be done next. Her excuse: “These things weren’t taught in school.” Well, Doc, did we emerge a trifle ill-equipped for life?

Over the last few years, I have found myself in or seen those around me in situations we were never taught to handle. Not in school, at least. Like how to handle the screechy landlady. Or how to survive a dragon boss. Or what to do with the realisation of the fact that you’re hopelessly in love. Or how to get past the incorrigible office gossip. Or what to do with a friend who insists on behaving like an adolescent. Or what to do with a horror of a mother-in-law. Or something as commonplace as running a house. No siree, school does not teach you that. Life does. It’s not the classroom teaching that tells you how to deal with a truant maid or cook for your husband every evening. It’s your instinct and good sense that gets you through these situations. You learn to get around it, or you get past the situation.

Education is what you remember after you’ve forgotten what you’ve learned, my mom, the teacher, said. Well, it’s been a long time since I forgot all about carbon and its compounds, and calculus. But you do somehow manage to figure out the value of X in an equation. Like The Lazy Housewife finally figured out shortcuts to feeding her husband (courtesy yours truly, but nonetheless). Or like The Novice Housewife learned to put her time to good use on her blog (thenovicehousewife.wordpress.com). Or how Morbid Kat decided the only way to get away from the monster MIL was, unfortunately, by ending her marriage. And, like it struck Doc (brilliance at its best! :p) that all she needed to do was give the guy my number. It’s another matter that a week on, he still hasn’t called. Perhaps he’s going through his books to see if they said anything about how to go about a phone call 🙂

One of those days… Or, was it?

Bizarre. I always have loved the sound of the word. But this day gone by, it took on a whole new meaning.

It actually started the night before. I was at Beautyma’s place, feeling all fabulous after my 10 minute, 2 km run, something I’d managed after two years of injuries (my knees, ankles, back, have all, in turns, kept me away from the treadmill). I was feeling so virtuous, I snacked on an apple, and had salad for dinner. Then the unthinkable happened. While Beautyma and I were talking, my hand reached out for the cookie jar on the table. I ate one. Then I ate another. Soon, I’d polished off a jar-full of chocolate chip cookies. Now this was inexplicable behaviour. For one, I’m not a cookies-and-cake person. I’ve never been fond of those things. For two, chocolate chips annoy me, because they hurt my very delicate teeth. For three, I can’t stand the lingering taste of too much sweet in my mouth. For four, I have a very small appetite. Two apples is all I need to fill up my stomach for a couple of hours. And there was me, devouring those cookies like I hadn’t eaten in days!

Then came the inexplicable hunger a few hours later. I found myself raiding the fridge in the middle of the night, something I’ve almost never done.

The sugar rush, some work and a few phone calls kept me up all night. And I didn’t seem to be complaining, even though I had to be up early. It was Gizmo Geek who pointed out I had a sugar rush. I hadn’t realised it, which is also strange. Normally, when there’s something unusual up with me, I’m the first to figure out. You don’t have to point it out.

Then, there was the weirdness of the conversations. It was Pretty Poo’s birthday. I’ve known Pretty Poo since we were five. Now, Pretty Poo’s always been the giggly, coy types. It’s usually me doing the talking, as in most other cases. But it’s a little different, because Pretty Poo’s happy to let me talk while she giggles. Last night, our programming was a little off. In our 45-minute conversation, Pretty Poo did all the talking, while I sat on the bed, stumped. And all her coyness and naivette had gone flying out the window, with the year gone by. This 27-year-old Pretty Poo was another person. I do not exaggerate when I say that I was sitting there with my jaw open. We finally hung up because I couldn’t take it any more (and because Pretty Poo had a line-up of the worst one-liners ever)!

I spoke to Midnight Rambler. The conversation went by in a blur. All that I remembered (fortunately) at the end of it, was that I was to meet him and we were to go for a meeting.

I had clean forgotten I’d told Gizmo Geek I’d be calling him. Fortunately, Gizmo Geek lives by night and sleeps by day. Now, Gizmo Geek and I have always had this rather interesting relationship. We call each other once in a few months, and usually when we need a good laugh. A standard conversation lasts about two hours, and the majority of the content is “Haahaahaahaa”. That’s all we do. I never fail to make him laugh. And I never fail to make me laugh. But this 3 am conversation was different. We actually spoke. Rather, Gizmo Geek spoke. No, he wasn’t distraught. Neither was I. But we were actually ‘talking shop’.

After we hung up, I have no idea what I was doing. But by the time I slept, it was morning. I was up in 2 hours, bright and awake. Also strange, because I need my eight hours of sleep.

So far, things had been an aberration, but then the bizarre kicked in. I got an email from this chick I’d sent some stories to a month ago, saying she’d never received the stuff. I mean, it’s email, not the Indian post. How can stuff not have reached??!! Anyway, I resent it all.

Then it started to rain crazily. I must have walked a 100 m from my house, when the strap of my chappals broke. Luckily, like all smart girls, I had a spare pair in my bag. But this somehow struck me as weird, like an omen of sorts.

Anyway, I got into an auto and was on my way to the said meeting. I was making good time, but then midway, there was a massive traffic jam. As I reached closer to the source of the jam, I saw black smoke, and then flames. A car was on fire, right there, on the road. Bizarre or what!

By now, I seemed to be cutting it too fine for the meeting. Just then, the auto guy decided he didn’t want to take me any further because he wanted to have his lunch. Fine then. I had him hail me another auto, because I refused to get down in the rain and let him leave me stranded in the middle of nowhere.

I made it to the meeting before the others. As I waited, I decided it was just one of those days, and I wasn’t going to think about it.

Somewhere in the middle of the meeting, my phone battery decided to die out on me. After the meeting, Midnight Rambler was headed halfway in the same direction as me. So a colleague and I took a ride with him, got off at the said midpoint, and hopped into an auto. Ten minutes later, the colleague got a message from him, saying there had been two blasts in the city and we were to head home straight. I didn’t bother checking my phone, because there was no point. It was dead. Now this particular auto driver seemed to have a fetish for left turns. He did not quite know the way, and even though I was giving him the directions, he wanted to turn left at every point. Anyhoo, I reached home, and it struck me that I hadn’t spoken to the parents all day, and given the situation in the city, they would be panicking by now.

So I rushed to put my phone to charge. But there was no phone. I emptied out my bag, looked in the house, hoping I’d walked in and left it somewhere, but no luck. It was nowhere. By now, I was panicking. There were bombs going off in the city. I had no idea where. I didn’t know where my flatmates and other friends were. And they didn’t know where I was. There was nobody at home. And my phone! Where had I left it???

Thankfully, I’m a calm and usually logical person. I found my brother’s friend online, told him to call him and tell him and the parents that I was safe. Sent emails to my flatmates, to check on them and tell them I was fine. Mailed people to call up Midnight Rambler to check if I’d left my phone in his car. The first response said he didn’t know. I freaked out. Ten frantic minutes later, I got a response saying he had it. By then, the flatmate I call Monkey was back home. Flatmate two, the Diet Monster, was stuck at her workplace. She hasn’t come home tonight. The good friend, Midnight Rambler, put my phone to charge, and spent a major part of the evening telling my friends and family that I’m safe.

Right now, I’m tucked in bed, warm and safe. But not everybody was as lucky as me. I will not go into the politics and the humanitarianism of of what happened. Because by morning, every person on Facebook, on Twitter, in blogosphere, would’ve done that. No, I’m not trying to be different, but the humanism of it is more important to me. I’m shaken up. Which is perhaps why the cookies and the conversations seem more bizarre to me than they actually were. But what sums up the day to me was the fact that at every step of the way, there was some kind of danger or disaster lurking, and I got away without a scratch. Without my phone too, yes, but that’s quite immaterial–I’ll have it back in the morning. What’s fantastic is my choice of day to have not charged my phone completely before stepping out, and then leaving it behind in the car. The latter was an aberration too, because I’m the paranoid sort who steps out of a vehicle and then turns around to make sure my phone’s not lying on the seat.

And then, how I got lucky. When my chappal broke, I could’ve hurt myself (yes, yet again!) but didn’t, and I had a spare pair too. The car on fire was on the other side of the road. When the auto driver decided he wanted his lunch more than the money, and I was running late, a free auto pulled up right next to us at a signal. I left my phone behind, but in a friend’s car. Well, it’s not saying much, given what has actually transpired in the city today, but I’ve been lucky!

Who’s Nin?

Over the last two days, I’ve had an incredible number of people asking me who Nin is. The first and latest being a friend, who sometimes tends to be a trifle schizophrenic. He’s a good-looking man, no doubt, but what do you say about a guy who randomly sends you messages asking if he reminds you of Tom Cruise from Top Gun, or who turns up at a hangout and announces that, with every passing day, he’s beginning to look more and more like George Clooney. I show him the hand. But the latest, I’ve finally given in to. He wants me to call him Dorian Gray, and since the dude is a fictitious character, I’ve decided to humour him.

Dorian Gray is one of the few people in my life who haven’t had the good fortune to meet Nin. This post is for him and for all the others. And for Nin, of course.

Nin and I met in college. She was the nerdy first-bencher all the teachers loved and the students were wary of. She wore thick glasses, had one friend and notes for everything, and she spent all her spare hours in the library. While everybody scampered around the photostat guy for readings just before the exams, the sagely Nin had already read most of everything on our reading lists in original. I, at that point in time, was the back-bencher, too busy having fun with the friends I’d carried from school into college, and so, I couldn’t have been bothered with the likes of Nin, or even Jaan, Heh, Madcap or Cha.

Our second year in college was a bit of a watershed, for me and Nin in particular. Nin’s only friend left to study something fancy at a university in the US, and she was left all alone. I, on the other hand, had decided to pull my socks up and get my act together. So I ditched the last bench for the first, and found myself sitting beside Nin. We exchanged smiles over the next few weeks. Nin, meanwhile, had started spending her non-library time with Jaan and Heh. I’d started doing a very Nin-like thing. Bebo and I had broken away from the original gang because it was getting too clique-ish for us, and we were spending a lot of time in the library. Bebo and Madcap had found common grounds in Africa–they’d spent most of their growing up years abroad. And so, our non-library time was mostly spent in the college lawns with Madcap. I was introduced to Nin and Heh by Madcap. I was fascinated by Nin. How could someone just breeze through life, at her own pace, oblivious to everything around her. Even the way she walked was almost obscene in its disdain of the rat race around her. The Mother put it to words, “Nin doesn’t walk, she floats.”

Yes, Nin lives in a dream. And you can’t pinch her awake. Because she is awake. She knows exactly what’s going on outside of her dream, but therein lies the beauty of Nin. She decides what she wants to acknowledge and what she doesn’t want to. How can you live life like that, Dorian Gray would say. Well, I wondered too. And the answer is, you can. Because Nin conforms without being a conformist. Nin has never managed to hold a job down for longer than six months. And we worried about her. But the girl is doing just fine. She’s quite the maverick. She’s tried her hand at academics, publishing, even a government job. On paper, she’s unemployed because she simply won’t do what she doesn’t like doing. She’s too true to herself for that. No, she won’t sell her soul for a hundred million. Dorian Gray may not approve, but does she care?

Nin will do what she wants to and how she wants to. But, somehow, she’s never outrageous in asserting her individuality. Because Nin doesn’t rebel for the sake of rebelling. She doesn’t wear her beliefs on her sleeve or on her chest. She doesn’t dress to attract attention, though there are times that you will look because she’s so eccentric. She doesn’t believe in doing crazy things to her hair or her body. That’s just not her style. She’s way too classy for it. It’s just the fact that she doesn’t give a damn either way. She doesn’t care for your approval. She does everything that will get her approval, but she’s doing it because she wants to do it, and not because somebody will appreciate her for it. If she spent hours in the library, and had read up everything we were supposed to, it wasn’t because it would get her good marks or that the teachers would praise her in class (which they did), but because she has an appetite for books and for knowledge.

Nin is like Alice in Wonderland. Every little thing amazes her. She can stare at a bougainvillea flower as if it’s the first time she’s seen it. Because every flower has its own identity to her. It’s not the first time she’s a flower. But it’s the first time she’s seen that flower. And it just may be the last, so she needs to breathe it in. It was the fascination I saw in her eyes when she looked at me the day Madcap introduced us in the cafeteria that drew me to her. I needed to get under the skin of this mysterious, complex creature. And I did.

How I did it, I may never know. Because Nin is shy. She never speaks much. Not even when it’s a private conversation between her and me. I’m the one talking always. Well, not much of a surprise in there, but still. I usually go into the conversation with all the questions and I always come away with all the answers. No, Nin doesn’t like giving answers. And my favourite evasive technique, I owe to her, “Because.” Notice the full stop? Yes, Dorian Gray, now you know.

Where’s the bubbly?

It’s been a month of celebrations for the family. For me, it began when I quit an extremely stressful job to do absolutely nothing. For the first time in my not-too-long life, I got a sense of what they call liberation. It was exhilarating, to say the least. For the first time in many years, I booked a one-way ticket, without a plan. And I felt as free as one can possibly feel in this day and age, without really giving up on life and moving to the Himalayas. Even though going to the hills was pretty much what I did, except that in my case, it was more a case of default setting. The Mother, of course, was celebrating well before I arrived. For the first time in a year and a half, her elation at the thought of seeing me wasn’t dampened by the prospect of me leaving within two days, and she didn’t have to spend all that time rushing me from doctors to the salon to meeting the various people I was supposed to and doing all that I needed to.

My arrival was accompanied by that of one of her closest friends ever. This was Maasi’s first visit ever in the 30 years that she and The Mother had known each other, and so, the excitement levels were higher. Besides, Maasi’s just such a fun, happy person to be around. With her, every day was a celebration, for nothing and for everything. That’s just the person Maasi is. Joyful, gracious and infectious.

And then she left. But the very next day, news of The Father’s promotion came in. Oh, so one more day, you may say. But no, that’s not how The Family does it, or how they do it back there. The next 20 days were given to celebrating. Sigh! Yawn! Burp! Groan! But whether you like it or not, Missy, that’s just how it works! Yes, I cribbed through a lot of it. Because all I wanted then was my sleep and the ghar-ka-khana. But I was happy for the Dadda. And I went with it, albeit with a few diva-esque tantrums thrown in. Because he deserved every single bottle of bubbly that was popped.

And then I got back to base. Ostensibly, to look for something to do, so I could pay my bills on my own. But the fact that I’m back to base may be enough reason to rejoice, apart from the fact that I’m not really all strung out.

And then the day gone by. It’s been the most momentous of them all. The Baby Bro is finally a big boy. And that is what actually inspired this post. It’s a really big day. Four years of very hard work, and Baby Bro graduates as an assistant manager with one of the best in the country. I’m so proud of you, Big Li’l One. I promise I would’ve done a better job if it were another time. And I will, soon. But for now, I’m celebrating 😀

What’s in a name?

A lot. And not.

If you’re wondering about the latter, it’s simple. I’m really not incredibly fond of my name. That, as I put it, is an extremely mild, watered-down version of what I may have said about a decade ago. I have been known to claim that I absolutely detest my name. And not entirely without reason. But as I’ve grown older, and maturer I think or hope, I’ve made my peace with it. I’ve even come to accept that, in some ways, the name could be lucky for me. Though that still doesn’t take away from the trauma it may have caused me every time it’s been misspelled or mispronounced, or the trouble of having to create an email account, or, in more recent times, when people tell me they had to wade through 10 pages or more to find me on Facebook. It makes me cringe, to say the least.

But, the name of my blog, on the other hand, is an entirely fantastic thing. You might think of me as vain. Maybe I am. Because I seriously do believe that there needs to be prettiness in life. And it’s only when you surround yourself with that prettiness that you can find happiness. Like the colour pink. Nothing brightens a sick day, or a gloomy day like a dash of pink, nailpaint perhaps.

Luckily, for me, there is a lot of prettiness in my life. My best friend, Nin, for instance. She may not make your head turn, while walking down the street. But did you look well enough? She has the most exquisite face I’ve ever seen. She could give Bani Thani a run for her money with those large, almond eyes, her aquiline nose and the most perfect mouth ever. And her smile is the prettiest and purest ever. One glimpse of it can take me through days.Then there’s Jaan. Are you wondering? Have you ever spoken to her? Well, okay, she can be whiny and quite a nag. But her prettiness lies in her innocence and naivette. And Heh. Read anything she wrote? No, I’m not talking of just her handwriting. Heh has a very special talent. She can make even the dullest words, people, situations look pretty when she uses them or talks of them. And Cha, well, Cha’s just pretty. Period. And then there’s the Madcap. Madcap gave me one of the prettiest, albeit vainest, names I have. Yes, that’s another thing about my own name, few actually call me by it, and because I wasn’t given a ‘nickname’ by my parents, as was fashionable back then, I live with multiple names, each born out of what comes to a person’s mouth first while calling out to me. Sigh!

But coming back to the name of the blog. I was quite young when my mother gave me a book to read. It was called Pretty As You Please. No, it had nothing to do with how to wear your hair or your makeup or how to look pretty. It was all about minding your Ps and Qs, yes sir, about how to be pretty with your manners. And I hadn’t realised how that had impressed me till a recent meeting with somebody who was, well, somebody. This lady was a lady. I met her in her office. She is my senior by many years, in age, experience, achievement, status. But her impeccable manners would put any wannabe knight in shining armour to shame. She came to the reception to walk me into her cabin, and pulled out a chair for me to sit on. And that wasn’t it. She also walked me out, and made sure I had a taxi ready to take me. Pleasing, most certainly. And oh-so-pretty! Yes, it may be superficial, but it did make day a more pleasant one. And a pleasant day is a happy day. You can’t ask for exhilaration all the time!

Connotations aside, the word ‘pretty’ has such a, well, pretty ring to it! And then there’s the magic word too! Why would I not want to call my blog that! I mean, if I can be superficial enough to choose WordPress over Blogspot because it’s prettier! No, don’t even try asking what I mean by that. Just look forward to all the prettiness that might be coming your way…

And, one to call my own

So, I finally got around to doing it–setting up my own blog. It’s been a project long in the making, and like a lot of my other wishes, this one’s finally coming around too.

Yes, my stars seem to be changing and how. As I look at the events of the last two months, even though for the most part of that time, all I did was stare at the sky or the ceiling or the rain, I can only be wide-eyed with wonder. Little and big things I’ve wished for over the last decade, possibly, some secretly and some not-so-secretly, seem to be coming true. Just by way of example, for once in my life, I seem to be on the winning side in my lifelong (well, adult life-long definitely) battle against the bulge. Then, I was barely one job old, when I decided that one day, preferably at 25, but definitely before 30 and before I got married, I would like to quit a job and stop working just like that, preferably for two years or for good, but even two months would do fine, thank you. And that’s precisely where I am right now. Around the time, I also realised how much I loved writing and wanted to, one day, write for the sake of writing, and not because it was part of an edit line-up. No prizes for guessing what I’m doing at the moment! And the latest, an ambition I put aside for a publishing career, but that I shall let you into a few days, or a few weeks, down the line.

Coming back to the blog. I owe the idea to a friend I shall call Jaan (yes, it’s a private joke I’m not explaining). It all started with Ninkita’s blog (which, if you’re interested, you can check out at http://thefoolsnewblog.blogspot.com/), followed by Heh? Ok’s (at http://icecream-is-cold.blogspot.com/). With two of her three best friend’s in blogosphere, how could Jaan be left behind? So she was next (I’m afraid you can’t check out her randomness, because, in as random a fit, the blog was deleted and its gems lost to us mortals). So yes, I was the odd one out, the lone ranger in a blog-crazy clique. And then started Jaan’s nagging, ‘I think you should blog’, ‘It would be so much fun if ALL of us were blogging and sharing’, ‘You write so well, I don’t, but still I have a blog’, blah, blah, blah… It went on till Nin had one of her days and she deleted her blog (hence, The Fool’s ‘New’ Blog; the original was just The Fool’s Blog). I don’t need to say here that we’re a temperamental bunch, because not much later, Jaan had one of her days, and whoosh! her blog was gone too! For a very long time after that, Jaan was quiet. But a year or two down the line, she started prodding me towards it again. I stuck it out, but the fabulousness of Nin and Heh’s blogs had caught on, and the idea stuck.

Then, one day, my mother decided she wanted a blog (it remains post-less till date). /my fingers were itching, and my mind whirring, but I had no time for it.

I moved to a new city, and there were things to write about. There was no time to read, when could I write, my procrastinating mind reasoned. So the bubble blistered, and festered inside. I will do it. Soon. My mind was made. But the procrastination had to be overcome.

Then came the final prod. Some inspiring writing from the midnight rambler (http://samarmidnightramblings.blogspot.com/) and the random rambler (http://virtuallyvague.blogspot.com/). Well, the posts were in my head, right. All I needed to do was put on the darned laptop and get writing!

And I did. It was simple enough, really. Pretty as you please. The name? Well, let’s keep that for another!