Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Terminally ill at ease

... am I with certain terms used in polite society which if anything are the epitome of insincerity in most of the instances they are used. I have been thinking about these for some time now, having to fend them off every now and then and decided to make my thoughts public. While I may still be subjected to them and at times be even forced to supply some of these in my discourse, that doesn’t mean I can’t air my contrary views about the same. I am anything if not a vociferously honest (at most times) individual (I don’t know why I wrote this right now, but it never hurts to let others know).

Coming back to the matter at hand…

Top on my list of Terms i never could get to terms with is "dear friend" May hap because the first time I heard it, it was from the mouth of one of the ladies who lunches and plays boss woman in her spare time. Or maybe it is a sentiment I could honestly can’t grasp (even though i have been guilty of using it in life and for the life of me I could not understand why... but I am known to do things I am ill at ease with just for kicks). If some one is your dear friend, he/she would know it. And why would the addressee who is being subjected to the statement care... Is it to rub in the person's face, "ooo I have a dear friend right here, right now and you don't!" or is it to tell the dear party concerned feel obliged (in case they didn't know of they dear status) all in all I could never fathom the meaning and the reason behind these two words put together.

A close second is " I am so happy for you" I have heard this a time once too many, and been forced to spout it because I was expected to, but I have to confess I said it without really understanding the reason why. Does the addresser mean to say that it's great this "event" is happening to the addressee but were I, the addresser, caught in the situation, I would be shooting myself through my mouth, right about now? It is sarcasm at best and should not pretend to be any thing else. If one is truly happy for someone, it would show and if it is over the phone, a Congratulations and subsequent exuberance would suffice!

As would I be steering clear of False bravado, which a former editor of a newspaper I worked with resorted to whence writing a report. Enough said.

Speaking of bosses and their love for constructive criticism. It is the ultimate urban legend in the office space as far as I am concerned. It is criticism all the way and nothing’s constructive about it… Why slather it with butter when it is still a bloody burnt toast. We are all adults here (except for those hiding behind words like constructive criticism) and we can roll with the punches because at the end of the day we know you (the boss or people in such-like position) can’t stand us the recipient of constructive criticism (the feeling is reciprocal btw) and all the bile is your way of expressing your dislike. Because if you were really bothered about improving the output, you would find a better way to ensure it.

And oh yes, the ‘yours sincerely’ after the end of most official mails is any thing but that. Correspondence in question (in my case) is the one I send out almost everyday in terms of covering letters. I find it quite absurd to feel any sincerity towards folks I will most likely never see or those who reject my application. If anything I would want to hurl the choicest of abuses at them for very obvious reasons.

Last but not the least is the awkwardness of wishing some one “a comfortable flight/journey”. Really… depending on which way fate/destiny fancies rolling, they will have or not have one irrespective of your sentiment and arrogance to believe that your confidence will translate into a happy transit. And let’s say they don’t, believe me the traveller will be sending some very unsavoury thoughts your way. I too have used this phrase many a times, because I haven’t been able to devise a better send off… Maybe next time I will stick to the simple “bbye” and keep the happy journey bit in my head!

And having vented my ire for the day, I wish you a happy weekend or what ever is left of it. Take care…

Oh wait,,, that’s another one! Obviosuly one WILL take care, right… no one will willingly fling themselves off the cliff, if they can help it and are not in need to psychiatric attention! From now on if those I love (and like) don’t hear a take care from me, please know that I trust you to be wise enough to do that without me telling you to do so!

Toodles for now! Much love!

Saturday, 20 February 2010

To granny with love

Dear Badi mamma,

After so long, as I sat down writing, did I recall those happy days you, daddy and I spent when I was a little girl; got the same fuzzy feeling as if I was in that happy place right now…

I remember waking up to the strains of gurbani on Doordarshan when you switched on the TV every Sunday at 8 am.

When you held me in your arms in the cold winter mornings as I lazed savouring hot bournvita with you coaxing me to get up and get ready for school.

Chomping on ghee soaked toast with chat masala sprinkled on it as I ran for the school bus.

How you allowed me to have ice cream only at weddings because you were convinced they weren’t as cold as the one’s the ice-cream waala brought out from his cart.

Your insistence that I finished my homework right after school and lunch and your sigh of resignation when you couldn’t contain that 8-year-old from dashing out of the house precisely at 4 every evening to go out and play.

For as long as you could you would wait near our house gate for me to return, when I was small, from play and when older, from work… the day you stopped doing that I wondered if you started loving me loved me a little less from that moment on… Now I know better; you stopped lingering at the gate because papa insisted you waited inside. From that day you waited on that sofa.

I love the fact that I can still manage to bring that smile on your face when you see me. I wish you would stop asking for me at dinner, because I can’t join you, even though I wish I could.

I never told you this but I have never slept as peacefully as all the times I slumbered huddled next to you, dozing off as you sat reciting kirtan sohele ji da path.

Oh for the days when I sat sucking on cold sugarcane cubes as you, daddy and I basked in the winter sun on the terrace. I remember being on the receiving end of that stern stare when I fumbled at my multiplication tables. Heh heh… you would be proud to know that I can still recite them without a hitch till 13, but the going’s not so great after that. I always wondered how you did all that math so effortlessly in your head. Numbers still scare me, not that I am going to confess that to you.

You actually made exams fun, because you made sure I did well and all those A’s gave me quite a head rush. Thankfully you made sure I never became the snivelling kid who cried at a 99.

And then came the holidays. I loved packing up the house for two months when we went to visit mom and dad and then coming back from the railway station on a bus at night…sleeping on your lap as we rode bus route no. 854.

Gosh, I was such a brat, ma… how you pampered me. You might wonder how I can still recall this but I do; cycling around the house and making a pit stop at your favourite sofa seat to have you feed me as I went round and round. Fried eggs and bread weren’t they? By the way I am still trying to shed the excess weight that diet bestowed on me. No wonder I have these wide hips! Another of your legacies, other than the caustic tongue, fiery temper, honesty, the need to be fair and just: all things I love about myself and you. Of course I hope to one day realise that I have your fortitude and strength locked up somewhere inside and can draw upon them when the time comes.

On the subject of food and so, cooking. I never understood why you sat atop the kitchen counter in that ancient kitchen of ours when you cooked chapattis for us, and the pooda and chawal ke paranthe.

You loved feeding people, didn’t you, especially your sons-in-law who you fawned over then when they came for a visit, which also meant you made your famous egg curry! Pity you never tasted it, being a vegetarian. How did you survive in our carnivorous household?

Nonetheless, when it was just the three of us, you made sure that I had my weekly tandoori chicken and campa cola treat. Gosh, that reminds me, remember daddy’s next day's experiment with chicken bone soup! Only he could drink it and I can still see you shaking your head at him.

I am sorry for the number of times I scared you by falling sick. I may have downed medicines by the dozen at the time to get well but for me it was the comfort of your warm embrace that brought me out of my fevers. Most times you made sure you uttaroed boori nazar off me. Those mirchis seemed lethal, but you knew your stuff.

Then there were Gurupurabs and the amazing langar at C2 ka gurudwara every time.

I still remember your bat girl spectacles perched pert on those intelligent eyes as you reprimanded me for a mistake. What a precocious child I was, running away with that mouth of mine. At the time you made sure I got an occasional whack, later, of course, you went about sharing those anecdotes with anyone who would listen. And you know what, I think you had a hint of pride in your voice when you retold those stories.

Your red hand bag that you carried everywhere.

Your obsession with locking down the house like a fortress before going to sleep every night, another trait I picked up from you.

Mamma, I wish I could go back to those happy days and stay cocooned in their warmth. I wish it was easy to let go of the need to regress into those days. To move on and give the present a chance. It is not easy, not at all.

Those days seem like a whole different world now. In the transition from “p” peun to Peru ji, life’s taken a whole new meaning. Responsibilities, heart aches, decisions, duties, but most of all distance, of geography and heart and from the simple faith that you were a super woman to accepting that you too have your frailties.

I wish that if I ever have children they’d be as happy as I was, that they would love their grandparents as I love you and daddy. I know with that would come a heart ache such as mine… but I guess it’s worth the love they would experience and get in exchange.

Thank you for making dad who he is and for letting mom become a part of the family and for making me who I am. Couldn’t love you more, for all that you gave me and for being you.

Can’t wait to meet you. Please get well soon.

Love,

"P" Peun

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Up up and away

After a week of revelry in Glasgow, it was back to home and hearth the gone Thursday and funnily enough I wasn't feeling as up beat as I thought I would after the much enjoyed break. Blame it on holiday withdrawal or the specter or days mundane and predictable, here i was back in city staring at the endless list of applications to be filled out and some interviews to be attended, so on and so forth.

In a state of mind not so happy and upbeat I headed to a friendly neighbourhood cinema to watch a film in the hopes of getting a few laughs. The film of choice was the George Dish Clooney starrer Up in the air. Those who have missed it, please go watch it. It is as real as reality can get on screen. But I am not here to exalt the gorgeousness that is Clooney or how the role of a dapper “career transition professional” suits him better than as that of a Man who stared at goats. Pointless exercise i say...

Anyhoo. Other than the gorgeousness that is Clooney and Vera Farmiga's brilliant performance, the movie induced an epiphany or sorts... two to be exact, while it played on screen. I guess these resonated the loudest as they related quite closely to a couple of important events in my life.

Of men, marriage and expectations:T he first was when 30-something Alex (played by the beautiful Vera Farmiga) and Anna Kendrick's 23-year-old Natalie compare notes on what they look in a man worth marrying. Natalie rattles of a list of qualifications that 'fits the bill' of the perfect guy (for her): White collar. college grad, loves dogs, six foot one, likes funny movies, brown hair, kind eyes, works in finance, out-doorsy with a single syllable name, like Matt or Dave... and so it went. Compared to this was Alex's very thoughtful utterances of someone who is taller than her, earns more money than her (something she says makes sense when one's older) as the other way can create a mess in the marriage, has hair , enjoys her company, has hair (though not a deal breaker), loves..likes kids ... and a nice smile. Simple yet doable and oh-so-boring and un-romantic.

Makes you wonder how expectations go south as we grow older. Please don’t get me wrong; I don’t believe that this is a bad thing because one thing that I have learnt is not to expect the moon. Keeping them realistic has been the key for me (And I learnt this lesson just a couple of years back). Which is not to say you sacrifice your ambitions... far from it… the idea is to learn to expect the essential… which of course is different for different people… but I digress.

Back to the movie

Some may wonder, as Natalie did, if Alex’s list of expectations was akin to compromising, in other words a failure.

Alex to Natalie: You see settling as a failure... but when the right guy comes along it won't feel like settling.

Couldn't help but mentally nod in agreement. Till not long before I got married I had resisted the age old "wisdom" of making compromises in marriage. I fought the notion tooth and nail vowing not to fall in that trap. And when it was time to tie the knot, I did have to make several adjustments. Only that they didn't seem as daunting as I had made them out in my head. It wasn't as if I didn't struggle with my demons but having made the choices as I did, today I can comfortably say, these were sensible decisions that led to some happy times.

The second scene in the movie that struck a chord was when Clooney's character tells a man who he is firing that this may be the time to seize the opportunity to do what he really wanted.

"How much did they pay you to give up your dreams? At what point were you going to stop and go back to what makes you happy?" Not every body gets this opportunity... chance of a rebirth..

Made me want to quit my job right there and then (if I had one, i.e)! So I sat wondering could this phase in my life be my opportunity to chase my dreams? Getting down to doing what I claim I wanted to all this while. Isn't that what most of us do. Swap a personal ambition for "sensible" things. Before you think i am advocating quitting your job so that you can go "read a book as you go travelling the world" let me clarify that i am not. What the scene essentially said was when life gives you lemons... well make nimboo paani. I just liked this packaging so much better. Hopefully I will soon be on my way to doing things I thought I couldn’t or I should but didn’t. Wish me luck folks. So as I go figuring out if I want my lemonade sweet or salty or a mix of both, you go think about how you plan to do what you always want to do (even if it's a hobby). And those smug buggers who are already there, more power to you!