Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Uncomplimentary language

After an inordinately long pause, during which period the husband seemed to have taken a back seat and I was trying to take the high road, I have decided to be naughty and yield to my baser instincts. So today I present to you with yet another episode of Mars V/s Venus in the U-K household. Stop rubbing your hands in glee, especially those of you who have been pestering me to reintroduce the chronicles of the war-zone back into the blog.

Before I launch into a diatribe of the spouse’s transgressions, let me set the stage right for your ready comprehension.

Maybe it was the end of the dreary winters or the promise of sunny days, I decided to finally stoke the kitchen fires and cook up a storm, something that was on the backburner past few months. So this time I decided to try my hand at a chicken curry never tried before (at least in my kitchen) and was hoping to impress the mister and have him bow to my superior skill. But as is with best laid plans, this one came to fruit but with a caveat. So while he went demolioshing a bowl after the other, I waited for the compliments to flow.

“This tastes amazing, it’s not so much a curry but more like a soup they make back home, without all the masalas of course.” So much for feeling good about my effort. A day’s labour is passed off as chicken broth which I could have cooked out of a packet. Gah.

But then compliments and I have had a contentious relationship. I was never comfortable receiving them. As for dispensing compliments, I have no compunctions and 80% of the time they are heartfelt. But when these are directed my way, which is not very often, I don’t know what to do with them, like you would with a hot potato. Just as you would most likely dump that unfortunate tuber, I tend to do the same with compliments. And when some one insist I hold on to their felicitation nonetheless, I stutter and splutter before I can offer a decent thank you.

Given my awkwardness around kind words I am not surprised not many come my way any more. Which is not to say that I don’t enough people who don’t know how to serve a straight compliment. After delivering the nice part of the speech they suffix it with a “but” (literally and figuratively) and leave you wondering what did you ever do to deserve it. Eg: That’s a lovely kurta, but such a bright colour would never suit me or you have an “Indian” face, western clothes don’t suit you (what the HELL is an Indian face!), great dish, but mom makes it better. And this malady is not restricted to the old and wise, even when younger I have encountered compliment terrorists of the short kind. They will regale you with an “ooooo… you got a 90%, that’s great,” only to break into sobs when they have to reveal their 99 on a hundred because of the missed century. I always itched to tell them how they did score a 100 - on being obnoxious. Of course the piece-de-rĂ©sistance of all compliments that came my way was the one paid at the beginning of a long long train journey to a medical entrance test in Bangalore, way back in the last decade, when a gentleman with kind intentions, or so I thought, told my dad (I was within an earshot) how I resembled a certain actress (who we all thought was pretty)… he went to add how that certain someone looked the same as me offscreen with her short frame, plump self, dark skinned, oiled hair in plaits with thick glasses to boot. Neither dad and I know where to look. Or on second thoughts, maybe he was just trying to put me off my game as I never made it to medical school EVER.

Whatever his motive be, that incident did plant a seed of perpetual doubt in my head. While I may skirt around adulations what I do keep wondering is the point of paying a compliment and then spoiling it with a “but”. Why not leave it plain and simple and if you think you can’t manage one, leave one be, especially if you can’t fake one. Believe me, that’d be better than one that comes with a suffix.

Thursday, 1 April 2010

Bright side of the dark side*

Have you heard the Sunscreen Song? For those who haven’t or want to enjoy it one more time,this would be a good place to give it a listen. Once you do, the post will be easier to fathom.

The past few days I have been living the Sunscreen Song, or at least parts of it. The funny bit is that I realised it this April fool’s day. Life maybe enjoying a joke at my expense but it can’t fault me for not being a good sport about it. Anyhoo… Lamentations will be reserved for another day. Today I will tell you about my sunscreen experience.

Understand that friends come and go, but with a precious few you should hold on. Work hard to bridge the gaps in geography and lifestyle, because the older you get, the more you need the people who knew you when you were young.

The day started with reminiscing of certain old days with a friend who I had lost touch with over time and some disagreements. And then came online scrabble and we bonded over our shared love for words, transcending the distance of geography, time and life’s experience. Felt good to know there are those who are looking out for me, irrespective of our shared past (or maybe because of it). I don’t know how it is with most people but I have had some friends say good bye for reasons reasonable and some silly, but I have been blessed with so many who were kind enough to forgive and forget, who grew wise enough to know that people change and were large-hearted enough to accommodate the divide. Oh yes, they also knew how and when to say sorry. They are the one’s who’d be around even when you are not looking.

Maybe you'll marry, maybe you won't. Maybe you'll have children, maybe you won't. Maybe you'll divorce at 40, maybe you'll dance the funky chicken on your 75th wedding anniversary. Whatever you do, don't congratulate yourself too much, or berate yourself either. Your choices are half chance. So are everybody else's.

I am a worrier, and despite that, or because of it, I appreciate the lines above. Last month or so I sat fretting, with renewed vigour, about my career and what turn it would take, would my attempt at starting a new venture bear fruit. Then last week, one early morning, everything changed. And now I am not so worried, or maybe I am, but just about other things. But I know, things will happen as they are meant to happen.

Then there are these lines which are my favourite. Don't feel guilty if you don't know what you want to do with your life. The most interesting people I know didn't know at 22 what they wanted to do with their lives. Some of the most interesting 40-year-olds I know still don't

Growing up I and most of my contemporaries were chided for being clueless if by 15 we hadn’t decided what we “wanted to do with our lives”. People close to me still despair (but none as much as I) about where my life’s headed. V has tried to mark an outline for me which he has met with forceful resistance. I still don’t know, but I do know that I want it to be interesting and full of adventure.

Be careful whose advice you buy, but be patient with those who supply it. Advice is a form of nostalgia. Dispensing it is a way of fishing the past from the disposal, wiping it off, painting over the ugly parts and recycling it for more than it's worth.

I can’t help laughing at myself, every time I hear these words. Primarily because I love dispensing advice, carefully disguised, of course. Upon introspection, I realise how loud these lyrics ring true. Don’t we all embellish our advice (not the ones on market investment and angina pain, mind you!) just a little bit to suit the circumstances, hoping to save the receiver a possible heart ache and relive an episode of our life to revel in the happiness it brought us or wonder what we could have done so that it played out differently.

Which brings me to this: Don't worry about the future. Or worry, but know that worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubble gum. The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that never crossed your worried mind, the kind that blindside you at 4 p.m. on some idle Tuesday.

* Inspiration can come knocking on the door from strange quarters at times. Take for example the title of the entry today. Came across this brilliant line in a cartoon show the name of which eludes me. It's about this little girl who is caught in a zombie land of sorts with her weird friends and making the most of a dismal life.. or so I gathered as I didn't follow it post that episode