Saturday, July 31, 2010

I am a really weird person. I don't know why, but whenever I am on the brink of starting something new (in this case my first job), something which brings the promise of new experiences and so on, I start feeling bad for the people I am leaving behind in embarking on this journey. Leaving behind in the sense, the people who are not starting a similar journey, or who haven't had and/ or will never have the opportunity of starting one such journey.
Half my excitement at my own good fortune gets diluted in this 'feeling bad'.

I really hope I toughen up, soon.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Sniffing Down Memory Lane

Today, I washed my hair with Sunsilk Black shampoo. And the smell took me back to a much simpler time, about 15 years or so ago, when fancier brands of shampoo hadn't entered the Indian market, and one's choices were limited to the various colours of Sunsilk, a few brands here and there, shikakai, and anything your generous relatives from abroad were nice enough to bestow upon you.

I was reminded of a summer holiday at my nani's house, when almost all my maternal cousins (about 15 of them) were also on holiday from their various courses or, in some cases, jobs. We would sit through the long summer days, playing cards, talking away, making fun of each other (this got rather heated sometimes, especially between cousins of roughly the same age- being one of the youngest cousins, I got the advantage of not having to take sides, but could express my love and support to both parties equally, without pressure), eating mangoes, playing cricket, watching movies in theatres with fans, and in ridiculously large numbers, eating lunch/ dinner in batches, and rounding up near the tiny black-and-white TV at around 10p.m., post-dinner, to watch something that would be of interest to persons of various age groups, ranging from my nana to my younger brother.

And I was reminded of the tiny bathroom, and the lengthy bathing ritual we went through every day. First, the motor for the water had to be turned on in the morning, after which all the elder people in the household went for their baths, usually in order of seniority. Thereafter, it was our turn. And there would be massive fights, chit-picking, philosophical debates, coin-tossing, and many other such turn-deciding events. Despite this process of determining the order of the bathing line, there were some cheaters and some line-cutters, who would jump in, and spend the rest of the day appeasing the person who they had cut ahead of (memorably, I remember a cousin of mine cutting ahead of another, and after he went in, she sang after him 'Na jaana mere badshaah, ek hi waade ke liye, ek hi waada tod kar..', in response to which he sang 'Main waapas aaunga.. ek hi waade ke liye, ek hi waada tod kar'. It's funny this has stayed with me, because my family is quite filmy and musical at times, and this wasn't some incredibly well-suited song to the situation. But I was about 6 or 7, and found it really impressive that he knew the lines that followed the two lines she sang, or something like that). And after this entire drama, one's bath had to be lightening quick, because someone was standing outside the bathroom door, waiting with towel in hand, to go in. 

And in so much discord, in a situation with such limited resources (yes, the water ran out once in a while, sometimes mid-bath), there was such harmony. Things moved about slowly but pleasantly. It was taken for granted that the bathing ritual would start from 9 in the morning, and continue till after 2 in the afternoon. And the funny bit was, noone complained. Everyone took great pleasure in the bathing-line-determining process, the chit-chat that happened while we stood waiting for our turn. Noone was in a hurry, noone complained about there being only one bath room.

In all of these lovely memories of some of the best times of the best times (childhood) of my life, the smell of Sunsilk Black shampoo distinctly stands out. Of all the virtues that Sunsilk shampoos of different colours could provide you, my cousins seemed to value 'Shine' the most (which was Sunsilk Black's promise). And I remember there being one bottle of Sunsilk Black being kept on the window-sill of the bathroom religiously, every single day, in every single vacation when I was there. And everyone used Sunsilk Black, and on Sundays especially, everyone's hair smelled of Sunsilk Black. 

Both my maternal grandparents passed away in the 1990s. My nani's house has now been sold to strangers. I haven't gone there in over 5 years. I haven't met all my cousins at the same time since 1997. I haven't gone to Patna for a summer holiday with my entire family in over 8 years. 

Yet, when I saw the bottle in my bathroom today, I couldn't help but use it immediately, and inhale deeply to take in the smell completely. And relive my entire summer holiday in those few seconds.

Monday, May 10, 2010

It's CLAT time of the year again!

The only good thing CLAT has done is that it has given an easy acronym for the law school entrance exam. Anyway, yesterday was CLAT, and Law School was apparently a center for over 700 students (they had seated people in the corridors of Training Center even!).

As I stepped out of my room after lunch to head to Nags, I knew that CLAT was happening, but somehow it didn't occur to me that there would be people all around. Seeing all the students who had come to write it, accompanied by their parents, and in some cases siblings and grandparents, caught me quite off-guard. And it was a little moving for me as well. For one, it was the last CLAT I'd witness being given in Law School, as a student of this institution. And it reminded me of my law school entrance exam. Of all the prep, of the final exam date, the morning before the exam, the light lunch I had before going for it, when I went with my parents to the RK Puram, Delhi center, the duration of the exam that flew by, meeting my parents who were waiting outside, going back home with a feeling of apprehension and relief that it was over. To use the cliche, it seems like it was just yesterday, and yet it feels like another life time.

When I saw the many many parents waiting in the shamiana, outside Acad, under trees, at Chetta, in Nags, I was reminded of how dutifully both my parents had accompanied me to the entrance exams, how worried they used to be, the countless discussions I had had with them about alternate career and backup options if Law School didn't work out. I felt a great deal of longing for those simpler times, and a flood of affection for my parents, who had patiently waited for me after coaching classes, picnics, entrance exams and what not. And then, from nowhere, a totally unexpected thought hit me. That in 25-odd years, I would be taking my child to his/her entrance exam, waiting in the sun with a soft drink while s/he toiled over the paper, hugging him/her when s/he came out and frantically discussed how the paper was, his/her hopes and fears. I am not really sure why this thought of a distant future came to me, and I am not really sure how I feel about even thinking it. But it certainly stopped me in my tracks and made me look at all those waiting parents once more.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

I'm Not a Girl...

First of all, apologies for the extremely bad choice of title. For the cliché, or if it misled you into thinking this post was about, err, something else. I just couldn’t think of anything else to title it.

Continuing in the general flavor of reminiscing over the past, I started wondering yesterday as I was spraying on perfume before going out when it was that I made a switch from deodorants to perfumes. And that led me to think about the larger question of when I started becoming an adult, or rather, a woman. I can’t remember exactly when the transition happened. But I can think of some things that very slowly but perceptibly changed.
So the deo-perfume thing is one of them. I don’t know when it became childish in my head to use deo (Suresh, you’re a child only, so it’s okay), and it became important to use good brands of perfume. And of course, it became necessary to smell good all the time. I don’t know if, like most other things in this blog post, I have inherited this from my mother- but yeah, she is a fan of the perfume, and I have been exposed to what ‘good’ and ‘bad’ perfume brands are, how to apply them, how having a signature fragrance is cool etc.  from my very childhood. But I never really paid attention to any of that, it seemed too uncool and adult- why would you want a horribly expensive perfume when a deo did the job just as well? But at some point in the last 2-3 years, I discarded the deo, and moved on to the perfume, for to my mind, there was a difference which was important to me; and the change seemed so natural and seemless, I sometimes still marvel at it.

Another rather womanly attribute that I seem to have acquired with time is a love and appreciation for clothes. I most certainly had none till about 4-5 years ago, when going shopping for clothes bored me to no end, and was something I always tried to get out of. After this new me took over, however, colours, designs, fabrics, cuts, and yes- finishes, seem to almost speak out to me from the clothes. And I have truly started loving them; I enjoy just looking at them whether in real life or in magazines, trying them on, fantasizing about how I’ll look in them, mentally matching outfits- in all honesty, almost obsessing over them. And believe me, any creature who talked like this about clothes would’ve made me puke 5 years ago. My parents and brother are still reeling from the shock (my mother, pleasantly, of course- she absolutely loves clothes- so there, another character trait which is both woman and mother), people who remember who I was half a decade ago ask me when I developed this new interest , and frankly I can’t help be astounded myself. But well, it did happen. Now I can watch hours and hours of Gossip Girl just to look at the clothes.

In the specific area of clothes, I would like to draw you attention to one item in particular- jeans. When, I ask you, did the colour and fit and style of jeans become important?! Jeans used to be just jeans- you buy them keeping in mind your waist size, the general length, try them on once just to make sure they fit okay, and wear them for the rest of your life without caring what goes with them. But now, the style of the jeans, the fit, the cut, the fall, even the colour, have become so important to me, it is ridiculous. When did denims start affecting how fat your thighs looked or how your hips shaped out? More importantly, when did it matter? I used to read in some shady women’s magazines (which, by the way, I now take great interest in, admittedly, mostly for the clothes) about what cut which celebrity was wearing, how it was the in-thing for the season, what heels it ought to be paired with- and I used to be shocked as to why jeans were made such an object of fashion, when they were supposed to be for comfort only. Now I am just as shocked to note that that’s exactly how I think.

Another thing to do with jeans used to be that when the bottom part of the jeans dragged endlessly on the floor, it would tear. And no one really cared about that- it was cool to not care, to not even notice. Only person who used to notice it would be my mother. I still remember a time when she got the torn part of 3 pairs of my jeans chopped off so that I could look like I belonged to a decent family. Of course, I refused to ever touch those jeans again because they looked so ‘artificial’ and ‘properly trimmed’- not at all how jeans ought to look. Recently, I pointed out to a friend how shabby he looked in the pair of jeans he was wearing because the bottom part was torn and dragged on the floor in an untidy fashion, and that I would not go to a good restaurant with him looking like that. It was only after the words were out of my mouth that I was utterly alarmed. I was turning into my mother. And I was turning into one of those ‘artificial’-jeans-appreciating women. But I can’t help it- it just bother me to no end now if my jeans are torn.

These signs of ageing don’t stop just here- I worry about my skin and use creams diligently; I could go for weeks without caring whether my eyebrows were shaped or not- now, even a little growth out of the way has me running to the parlour; the chipping of a nail creases my brow somewhat; bags are an accessory, not just a utility item; fake jewellery is awesome on occasion when it looks good with what I am wearing, but I just can’t bring myself to put on earrings to match my every outfit everyday, as I used to with great fervor till 3 years ago (I groan as I write this because I am reminded of how fake jewellery was yet another thing my mom used to tell me not to wear).Don’t get me wrong- casual is still very important. Only, now it has to be carefully worked on, and made to be casual-yet-elegant or something. And being well turned out, smelling good, taking my time to work on myself as opposed to simply rushing to a place puffing and panting- all these things have just become oddly important.

And I just can’t put my finger on how and why these transitions happened- how and why I went from being this awesomely cool girl who didn’t give a damn about anything, and thought it cool to not care, to being this pruning, slightly fussy woman of just the variety that girl-me would have laughed about and criticized. And more pertinently, on how this change came so naturally, and how I am so very comfortable in this skin now, only faintly amused by the person I used to be, but not having any longing or nostalgia for those careless ways.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Nostalgia- 1

Nostalgia is one of those funny emotions that doesn't hit you, except in retrospect. It's probably more moving or more painful for precisely that reason. You look back on something fondly. It's something you don't experience while you are going through that thing or in anticipation of it. It only happens when a thing is done.

This entire academic year, I have been wondering when I will finally start feeling nostalgic about law school being (almost) over. It hits me in phases, usually when one or the other event induces it. And it is understandable to get all nostalgic because it is my last Legala-SF, or my last installment of fees, or my last compulsory course, or my last examination in college. But the stronger, more breathtaking brand of nostalgia is the one that hits you for practically no reason, over some very ordinary, every day event, which you have simply taken for granted. Because it's then that you realize that the life you had gotten so used to for 5 years, a pattern you had even forgotten could change, is about to be pulled away from beneath your feet.

I saw someone dragging their luggage into their hostel, after coming back in a cab from the airport (presumably from home). And it occurred to me then that I would never drag my luggage from an airport cab into my hostel room ever again. For 5 years, I have resented the task of having to carry my luggage over a flight (sometimes more than one) stairs all by myself. Having to lift a heavy bag when, in most of my life, I had never lifted anything heavier than a shopping bag holding my stuff. I still remember the first time I did it in the second trimester of law school, when I was almost reduced to tears by the injustice of it all. Having to clean my room, mop it even, arrange my things, sort out what clothes needed to be disposed of. Yeah, you can call me spoilt, but I think these small things, more than the larger, more scary concept of "living in a hostel", make us different people after we've lived in one. Quickly, these things that I had fretted over became routine. I'd board the flight from home (whichever of the many cities that was in over the last 5 years) with a heavy heart, watching my chauffeur and domestic help handling my luggage to the point where they weren't allowed in the airport, knowing that come Bangalore, I was on my own, and noone would lift bags for me. And I was prepared for it, albeit not always very cheerfully.

Today, when it hit me that I would never again lift my luggage as a student getting into a law school hostel, it was so overwhelming, I had to come back to my room and sit down. And all the mundane, otherwise forgotten everyday things of the last 5 years came back to me. Because this routine has been developed carefully, incorporated into my life, and become so much a part of it over my stay here, I feel lost without it. I wont know what to do outside of it, I am afraid. I don't even know when a place I took so for granted through this period that I barely cherished and largely only dissed it, became so much a part of me, so much a home for me. And now, I am almost on my way out of here. It's as if this now is the home I am leaving, like I did my home with my parents 5 years ago; going out once again into the world, stepping foot in a new place, with a new set of people, with my law school tag, law school friends, and a little room in law school hostels standing behind me to support me.

Friday, March 19, 2010

I am bored of my blog. I feel like deleting it and starting a new one.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

All this Woman’s Day and Women’s Reservation Bill business made me take note of a couple of incidents which I would ordinarily have forgotten in no time.

The first scene was near RK Puram, Sector 13 (which mind you, does exist!), when I was trying to hail an auto for work. After a bit of a wait, one auto finally stopped, and the haggling began. It ran somewhat like this:

“Bhaiya, Prithvi Raj road, Chauntis number”

“Madam, government area hai, koi sawaari hi nahi milegi wahaan”

“Kitna loge batao”


“Bhaiya, mushkil se tees hota hai idhar se toh”

“Madam, udhar se khaali aana hota hai”

“Arre mil jaayega koi, bahut log rehte hain”

At this point, I inadvertently flashed a bright smile, simple because I was pretty bluntly lying to the auto-wallah. There are barely any pedestrians on Prithvi Raj road, at any time of day.

With a visible change in expression, looking rather delighted and nervous, the auto-wallah said:

“Acha Madam, challis mein hi chalo”

And he was cheerful all the way.

The second incident was a few days later, when I got off work rather early and went to Janpath to shop. There were some two tops I liked. The bargaining was something like this:

“Madam, 650 se kuch bhi neeche nahi hoga. Usse neeche toh humaari khareedaari bhi nahin hoti hai”

“Do le rahi hun, 200 mein de do”

“Arre kuch reasonable toh bolo madam”

“Bilkul reasonable hai. Nahi toh chhod do”

I walked out of the shop.

“Arre andar toh aao Madam, baat toh karo”

“Koi faayda nahi hai Bhaiya.. do sau se zyaada hain bhi nahin mere paas”

“Paise toh bahut hain aapke paas.. abhi abhi toh ATM se withdraw karke aa rahe ho”

Once again, I inadvertently laughed, only because I was rather amused that all the shopkeepers on Janpath are so bright as to observe each customers movements so carefully, and remember who was asking for directions to an ATM, so as to identify someone who intends to actually make purchases.

What followed was an immediate change of attitude.

“Acha Madam, aapke liye do sau mein de raha hun. Bataana mat kisi ko lekin”

“Abhi toh bol rahe the nahin hoga.. kya ho gaya achanak”

“Nahin.. aap le lo. Lo packet mein daal deta hun”

What is hilarious about both these episodes is that in neither instance was I actually trying to flirt with or cajole either of the men into doing favours. A bit of a laugh, not even directed at anything particularly witty they have said, melted their hearts in an odd fashion. Reminded me a bit of the whole Dil toh Bacha Hai Jee sequence in Ishqiya. But all said and done, man, women have powerful tools at their disposal. Funny we should be getting reservation and a special day and what not :)

Sunday, February 21, 2010


Yeh shehar nahi mehfil hai...

Sunday, February 7, 2010

I am feeling uncomfortable. Not sad, not angry, just uncomfortable.