Thursday, December 09, 2010

Stuck at 20

It was exactly a day like this. The sun hadn't come out fully, and the grey, melted butterscotch ice cream feel to the sky was warm and chilly at the same time.

Actually, why say it was exactly a day like this. It was this very day in fact.

December 9th. Fifteen years ago.

I was exactly a month away from my 21st birthday.

And pretty much around this time, mid afternoon, I finally stepped out of the National Heart Institute for a cup of tea, after a harrowing morning. I relaxed for the first time and thought of taking a small break before going back in.

But I didn't get the chance to finish that cup of tea. Because somebody from the staff of the hospital came out to call us.

It was exactly around this time, on exactly this date, on a day exactly like this one, fifteen years ago, that my father died.

And while I have done a fair amount of growing up in the past fifteen years; while in many ways I can feel each day of each week and month of each year etched upon my heart, my mind, my soul and my face, I also realise that some little tiny bit of me just got stuck there. At twenty.

In the chilling afternoon stillness of a cold December day.

In the coversations we were yet to have, in the poetry we were still to read, in the jokes we were still to crack, in the books we were yet to exchange, in the plays we were still to watch, in the music we were yet to share. In the lessons that I learnt so much more slowly, more painfully, and more harshly from life. Because I didn't get a chance to learn them from him.

Miss you baba. Incredibly acutely, considering its been fifteen years.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Mary Mary Quite Contrary How Does Your Marriage Grow?

Ranjit and I are closer than two peas in a pod. We can literally finish each other's thoughts at times, leave alone sentences. I don't use the word 'soulmate' very easily in my life, but it just seems to be the right word to apply to the two of us.

The journey he and I have been through, to be where we are today, has been an incredible one. A terrible one. An exhilerating one. An exhausting one, an invigorating one. It has broken us and made us, many times over. It has defied us, and defined us, hollowed us and deepened us, in ways that even the furrows upon our hearts can't fully express.

We have a healthy respect, and an equally healthy sense of humour, about each other's pasts. We have to, since both our pasts are a living, breathing entity in our present. And both of us have the sort of colourful, controversial history that only a spouse with a funny bone can even hope to live with. Add to that our volatile temperaments, our sensual explorations, and our sensitivities, and you get a heady cocktail that only another braveheart can dare to attempt to negotiate.

To put it simply, Ranjit and I are deeply in love. Each passing day. Present continuous, not a memory of an emotion experienced once, and eventually enshrined and honoured in an institution called marriage: like a glorious tomb raised to a long gone sentiment.

And yet, there are some funny things about our marriage. There are certain things that Ranjit and I don't do. For example, the most glaring one - we don't share a bedroom (and therefore, neither bathroom nor cupboard - he is messy and I am tidy and the shared thing drove us both nuts). We don't have joint bank accounts. We don't answer each other's phones. We don't look at each other's text messages. We don't have each other's passwords.... (well, actually I do have his, because I have had to bail him out of several disorganised moments.) We don't accept invitations on each other's behalf. We don't automatically assume friendship with each other's friends, unless we take to them personally, that is. We don't always socialise as a couple, again, unless we both like the people we are to meet. We don't send out birthday or anniversary or festival messages jointly. We don't always eat together, only when we are both hungry at the same time...

That sounds like a lot of  "we don'ts" doesn't it? I know that those of my friends and colleagues who believe in a more conventional variant of marriage often want to ask me why I bothered to get married at all...

I would like to answer that question. Sincerely.

I wanted to marry so that I could live a life with the man I love. I wanted to marry so that I could have our child and focus on raising it, and not defending it. I wanted to marry because I wanted to build a home to our shared journey. And a home isn't always the same thing as a common bedroom.

There are things about a marriage, or rather, about living together, that you cannot experience living apart. A crumpled and sleep warmed cup of tea and coffee together, first thing in the morning. A late night chat drifting into sleep. A midnight snack. A raiding of each other's music and book collections. A fight over which CD is mine and which yours. A sneaked in love making as you are rushing to get ready for work. A sunday brunch in your pyjamas. A baby. A chat that carries on for so long that it gets you late for everything. A no reason sudden cuddle. A make up free sunday. A sudden rush for chocolate excess at 11 p.m. A nursing each other through sickness. An urging each other towards healthy living.

Putting together a meal (ok, I'll confess, only Ranjit does that, I am allergic to the kitchen), taking a drive because the sudden urge to scan an album siezes you, taking the other one's ass because they've done something utterly stupid, which you wouldn't have witnessed if you were living apart... there's a lot going for a marriage beyond sharing bedrooms and bank accounts...

I know this is not what a marriage is supposed to be. I am defying the conventions of an institution that I have endorsed... I have no right... Perhaps we should have called it cosy cohabitation instead... I don't know. I wanted to have that baby. And I live in a country where the negotiations around single parenthood are surprisingly time consuming; it just didn't seem worth it...

Having said that, I feel odd at times when I realise that the 'format' of my marriage may give the outsider the impression that the dynamics of the relationship are of a brittle, laquered, hard nature. That Ranjit and I are wary, ultra modern and cynical; that he and I skirt around each other's edges, diamond hard and brilliant with wit and intellect, yet incapable of a warm fuzzy place...

In reality, nothing could be farther from the truth. Our friends know that. We are silly in the way we love each other. We are exasperating to single women above thirty and we make those under thirty sigh and get misty eyed. I have had a twenty four year old office colleague come and hold my hand on a hooghly barge (it was on office get together in Calcutta) and tell me how her dream is to find a relationship like the one Ranjit and I have. It was so embarassing that I sort of coughed out a silly comment about how Ranjit and I fight too. Lame. I know.

I have however neither changed my name, nor my habits, nor my toothpaste. I don't know what that says about my priorities or my marriage. I just feel sad that such irrelevances say anything at all...

At condescending moments, looking down from my rainbow prism of fulfillment, I tend to wonder, are these things prioritised by those who have nothing more fundamental to share?...

But those are just mean moments, I don't really think like that. I believe that this age old, hackneyed, crumbling around the edges institution is still distinctly individual for each person... everyone finds their own unique rhythm with it. We just happen to have found an unusual beat... but it makes us dance, so what the heck!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010


Its in the texture of the air. In the colour of the flowers. In the way something green gold saffron shimmers as you turn your head.

Its in the memories. The taste of the food. In the echoes of the dhaak, the kaanshor, the bells...

Its in the faces that don't change. And yet age every year. Its in the dreams that gradually shed leaves.

Its in the hopes that were immersed in the river last year. And in the emotions that resurface alll over again.

Its in the nostalgia that we weave even as we speak, aware even in the present that we are making memories.

Its in the dust on the face, the ache in the ankles, the discomfort of the steel chairs, the iron buckets and baskets of fries. Its in the voice that rings out loud in a dining hall full of people, its in the smoke and the incense and the embers that burn in places other than earthenware lamp holders.

It makes me fragile. This place, this space, this ritual that lives itself out not in geography, not in history, but in a place suspended somewhere in between the two.

Durga Pujo. Yet again.

Golden goddess, rest my heart.

Friday, September 24, 2010

The Discontent of Content

The trend is alarming and the repucussions worrisome. There is a sudden new found enthusiasm in our world for ADHD.

Yes, you did read it right. What causes concern when found in children, seems to not only be perfectly fine, but even laudable, when it comes to us adults: complete Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.

We actually seem pleased that a person can hear a piece of music, google the artist name, track its singer on twitter, put up a status update about it on facebook, write a blogpost about how moving the piece was, gmail the mp3 to five friends and claim to have actually heard the piece at the same time.

Stop fidgeting and pay attention children. The age of the total discontent of content is here. We have time for everything and as a result, attention for nothing.

Our Paul the Octopus impersonations - not as soothsayers but as multi limbed jello beings - have been perfected. We have many arms but no central spine to hold it all together. We have span but no attention. We have spread but no centre. We have response but no stock.

It is not just radio. The 40 sec link into the next song has become endemic to our very being. We want our news in bullet points, our songs in hooks, our films in trailers, our books in quotable quotes.

We want to be seen to know it all, spreading it wide, spreading it thin, and we have lost our divers' costumes that allow us to go down deep with an oxygen tank called patience and a breathing tube called focus.

This is a great thing for mass media. It allows us 'medians' to cover everything, and uncover nothing at the same time.

Today's journalists need not be experts on the subject their beat covers. Today's writers need no education in literature. Today's musicians need no classical training. Today's painters need never have seen the inside of an art school.

Everything goes in the name of spontaneous, unstructured personal articulation. Expression rules and absorption is dead. We can opine without knowledge, create without learning, and extol without imbibing.

We don't have time to read this blogpost to the end because our phone just beeped, our computer just pinged and our connect just disconnected.

Monday, August 23, 2010


Flood ‘em terrorists
The end is nigh
Now you know
When the waters run high

Where will you hide
As the floodgates rise
Where is your Allah
Your bearded, your wise

Here I am
Feeling smug in my land
I killed no infidel
No blood on my hand

Now you know
When the end is near
Hope gives way
To a drowning fear

The world looks away
And why should it not
Were you merciful
When it was your lot?

You bombed our trains
You bombed our brains
You bombed our buildings
You rammed in planes

Don’t teach me my geography
My Afghan from my Pathan
My Iraqi, My Paki
My Koran from my Kirpan

You turbaned lot
You troubled lot
You dirty lot
You flooded lot

God is drowning you
Drowning your sins
When you swim you sink
When you sink then you swim

And I won’t write that cheque
And I won’t fill that truck
You can keep treading water
I won’t throw you a rubber duck

I am smug in my parsimony
You can scream you can yelp
I am not Vodafone
I am happy not to help

Let the U.N raise the money
Let Zardari find you hope
I am not here to forgive
I am not the pope

All of you are fanatics
You laugh when we cry
I am not a terrorist
I’ll just watch your children die.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Lost and Found

I lost you for a while today
And while looking through the bric-a-brac,
The lost and found cardboard box of my life,
I found such little worth finding
My losses amongst trinkets and baubles and faux memories of pain,
A few jewels lost forever and out of reach, its true,
But much else of no value.

And in the yawning, gaping, empty vacuum of a lost and found box
I saw you recede from me
Smiling your gentle smile,
Love crinkling the sides of your eyes

And in repeated loops of twenty minutes,
3 times an hour times 6 hours,
My heart broke so many times.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

the 100th post

Advised a friend to either dump a girlfriend who was boring him to tears, or else to marry her.

I must be the first Female Mysogynist ever.

But seriously. What's up with women and their obsession with men and the mythical sun shining out of their ass? Why can't we think beyond, live beyond, be beyond?

Even the crudest, most low brow, most crass men, when they meet, will discuss beer & cricket  / football (apart from female anatomy). They will comment about the state of politics and the carrborator of their car. They will talk about their next pay hike. They will talk about SOMETHING apart from the relationship that they are in / wish to be in.

But nine times out of ten, even the most intelligent, most talented, most well read, most independent, most successful, most attractive women, when they get together, will talk about men. And marriage. And the ones who stayed. And the ones who left. And matters of the heart. And the hearth.

Good grief. WHEN are we gonna get over it?

Footnote: I would not have noticed this about our gender, had it not been pointed out to me by a man. My husband. A few years ago. Shamefaced confession.

But since then, I have kept relentless pursuit of this observation. And noticed phone coversations, sms chats, facebook updates, blog entries and tweets from some of the women I like / admire most.

And I am saddened to see the truth behind the observation.

This is my 100th post on a blog called stingle. Which fiercely protects a space called 'still single'. And my insight on this pathetic state of us women is not a judgemental one from the outside, but an empathetic one from the inside. I've been there too. I've obsessed like that too. I too have focused all my energies on acquiring the right labels in my life. And perhaps I come from the vantage point of having acquired those labels, but nonetheless, whatever be the reason, wisdom is not to be scoffed at.

In my 100th post, for the 100th time, I wish to know: when we women talk about settling down, why don't we ever talk about 'settling down, single'....?  Come to be at peace with the status of singlehood?

Don't get me wrong. Love is beautiful. A relationship is cosy. I don't advocate singlehood for the heck of it. I am married. I am happy. [Of course the joke between the two of us often is that we are happy inspite of being married, and not because of it] but what I do have an issue with is how we women don't ever get comfortable with the status - whatever the status - and look beyond. We are unhappy single. We are anxious married. When we don't have a man we are worrying about where to find him. When we do have a man we are biting our nails off worrying how to hold on to him. When we part with a man we fall apart. When we find him we cling.

Kya problem kya hai??

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Mirror Image

I have aged, beyond repair.
My body at war with my best intentions.
Taut and tired is what the gym makes me.
While plump, juicy youth
Firmly cocks a snook at me.

My heart has aged, beyond justice.
My life in battle with my oldest dreams.
Etched and exhausted is what my fantasies make me.
While transient visions, missions, transgressions of the merely young
Pass me by in piteous disdain.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Music Credits!

While driving to work today, I was listening to a song that always reminds of someone I know... I simply have to hear the first few strains, and an image, a memory, a face, some moments, flash through my head...

And I realised that this happens to me with many, many songs. Songs that sometimes may not even be so closely held by the very people I associate them with. They may be surprised in fact, to learn how closely that song reminds me of them; how close it brings them to me.

But there is some arresting memory; a vibrant moment lived, a cherished conversation held close to the heart, and then, the song is their's. For good.

So I thought, why not do a roll call of honour. A different sort of a credit roll. And for the fun of it, see if the people involved actually remember the association at all or not... Or feel as strongly about the song....

[I would like to digress here for a moment and say that I am leaving Ranjit out of this list. The universe of music I share with Ranjit is too vast, too personal, and too, too vibrant to be captured in one post. Ranjit is my music partner in more ways than one... so Ranj, sorry, no specific credit roll for you here. You get credit for the 'music in my life!']

I am obviously also not including songs that my highly talented friends have had something to do with directly. I mean, its stupid to say Baawra Mann reminds me of Swanand, or Socha Na Tha of Imti. Duh. But naturally.

The first, but obvious, and Gorky, stop grinning:

RAAH PE REHTE HAIN (Kishore Kumar, Namkeen): Gorky, Gorky, Gorky. His black boot upon his Yezdi pedal. A late night drive back from his film maker job in NOIDA. A rain slick tar road... and this song playing into his ear from his walkman. I will stop here. There are other details too personal to share. But this song stopped being RD and Gulzar's long ago. Its yours, Gorks. Needless to say, there are many others. But this is sort of the signature one; the album cover.

MERI JAAN MUJHE JAAN NA KAO & KOI CHUPKE SE AAKE (Geeta Dutt, Anubhav): Geeta Dutt's tortured, fading, dying voice in a last burst of glory. Kanu Roy's simple melody brought to life so completely in her rendition that made it so believeable that a housewife with a tuneful voice is singing in her throaty, less than perfect style. But so much trivia aside, for me these two songs belong only to Pavi. For years now, from high school to hot dates, from winter bonfires to summer picnics, Pavi has always insisted that these are two songs she can sing well. And the funniest part? She never remembers which these songs are, precisely when she needs to croon. So I must have answered innumerable hushed, whispered, conspiratorial calls, replied to pager messages (gosh remember those??) and lately, replied via the more convenient sms option. She will always say 'hey babes, what are those songs from anubhav that I can sing?'. And I will reply: Koi Chupke Se Aake. Meri Jaan. So Pavi, meri jaan, ye do to tumhaare huye.

PUKARO MUJHE NAAM LEKAR PUKARO (Mukesh, Bhool Na Jaana): For us, the hardcore Kishore - RD fan gang, this is one of those rare Mukesh tracks that we love. (Coupled with a few others that will get mentioned farther on in this post). And for me, this song is Biju's. I don't remember how, I don't remember when, but I do remember him telling me that the line Badi sar chadhi hain ye zulfein tumhaari, ye zulfein meri baazuyon mein utaaro... is one of his favourites. Pataa nahin kyun, ye baat mere saath reh gayi. Biju - does the line still move you?

BAAT NIKLEGI TO PHIR DOOR TALAK (Jagjit Singh, The Unforgettables): I can already see Pavi smiling. But of course. Oroon. Who else. One of the many many songs that Oroon renders beautifully, but the ONLY song that he remembers the entire lyrics of. Oroon, you have made me cry so often with your rendition of Baat Niklegi, that I should apply for insurance now. I finally got a grip on the tears, but even now, the eyes get moist. I remember your school farewell (you being a year ahead of me) and you sang it on stage. As a special precaution I went out of the assembly hall and heard you from the door. And cried buckets, as usual.

TUM PUKAR LO (Hemant Kumar, Khamoshi): Shujoy - I don't know if its Hemant Kumar's singing, or his composition, or Gulzar's sheer brilliance... or some other personal association that you may have... but you've always had a soft spot for this song. I've seen you attempt to sing it at several antaksharis over several Durga Pujas... and hum it under your breath even otherwise. That rickety wooden table in front of the goddess; us sitting, irreverentially swinging our feet off it, the line of us in dhotis, saris, respectively, and you attempting this tune, until Oroon rescues you and takes it on... This song belongs to you, my friend.

ROMEO & JULIET (Dire Straits, Making Movies): 'A lovestruck Romeo, Sings a streetsus seranade, Laying everybody low with a love song that he made...' I've always described Knopfler's voice as Rum Chocolate. If you could make love to voices, I'd want to do him! Rishi, you may not even remember this, it was soo soooo long ago. But it was in Mumbai. We were at the Ghetto (I always forget the name of the pub and ask Ranjit - hey which one is that dark pub with the neon lights where your teeth shine white and he tells me!!)... So Rishi - it was probably 98 or 99. I was in Bombay on Encompass work. And we'd hooked up and gone for a drink. This track started playing over the sound system. And you mentioned how it was one of your favourites. I remember not being familiar with the track then and asking you what it was about. And you, magically, without allowing the rhythm of the song to get spoilt, repeated every line back to me, into my ear, even as the track played out. What a gorgeously written piece of urban poetry. And what a stunning memory. Dunno about Knopfler and his Intellectual Property rights, but Romeo and Juliet belongs to you, Rishi K!

TIME (Pink Floyd, Dark Side of the Moon):  Singhaaaaa!! We were in your not-so-fancy car. I don't know where we were going but it was early evening, the sun was setting and we were driving towards AIIMS. Floyd's brilliance over your sound system and you asked me if I'd ever focused on the words of Time. And then as the sun actually set in front of our faces, you repeated the lines to me: 'you run and you run to catch up with the sun but its sinking... racing around to come up behind you again... the sun is the same in a relative way but you're older... shorter of breath and one day closer to death....' No wait, you didn't repeat them speaking, you sang them, along. Your face was lit up by the setting sun then, and all your love and reverence for and resonance with Pink Floyd shone through in that moment... This song belongs to so many, across two and a half generations, across so many nations... and Singha, as far as I am concerned, it belongs to you!

KOI DEKH RAHA (Udit Narayan & Kavita Krishnamurthy) & TERE PYAR MEIN (Hema Sardesai, Shankar Mahadevan - Zor): Gorky, Pavi, Ranjit, Tapas recognise this name. The others on this list may not. Pramit Ghosh. My crazy ex boyfriend and an extremely interesting chap regardless of what we went through. Pramit, who introduced me to George Orwell's Down and Out in London & Paris, who introduced me to the ancient ruins in and around Ahmedabad, who introduced me to yumm food at Vishaala, who introduced me to the concept of living by myself, and who also introduced me to contemporary hindi music, which I had great disdain for, before I joined Mirchi. These two songs were the soundtrack of the few months I spent with him. They captured the madness, the uncertainity, yet the fun, the vibrancy, the unpredictable spontaneity of that time of my life. Both songs have a sweetness and yet a racy pace - something that reminds me of that crazy and pyschaedelic time in my life...

MAINE TERE LIYE SAAT RANG KE SAPNE CHUNE (Mukesh, Anand): A simple song with Gulzar's masterful words. A gentle moment in a superlative film. But is that how I remember the song? Not quite. I see Imtiaz sitting at the kerb of the Hindu college bus stop. I see the afternoon sun slanting through the leaves. I see him humming the track as I cross the narrow road and plonk down next to him. I see the twinkle in his eyes as he confides that this is one of his favourite love songs. Because of its simplicity. At that time I thought he said it for effect, he came across as such a complex fellow. And then years later he made Socha Na Tha. And then Jab We Met. And then Love Aaj Kal. And I realised over a decade later, that he had meant what he'd said.

SAVERE KA SURAJ TUMHAARE LIYE HAI (Kishore Kumar, Ek Baar Muskura Do): Tapas. You and I have shared many many songs through our long friendship and our radio partnership. There should be many other tracks I associate with you. But this particular one - I just always imagine you singing it. I think perhaps because you introduced me to the track. But it always has been, and always will be, yours.

and the best, for the last!

CHANE KE KHET MEIN (Poornima, Anjaam): Baba! Ha ha ha ha. The man who has introduced me to Rabindra Sangeet, Adhunik Bangla Gaan, Polli geeti, Toppa, Bhatiali, Suman Chatterjee, Nachiketa and who not... and THIS is what I associate with him? Of course I have an entire childhood of beautiful music that I attribute to that man. The reason I include Chane Ke Khet Mein in this list is because its unusual, its mad, and it showcases in my memory, the vibrant, youthful, unprejudiced person he always was. Baba loved this crazy, almost Bhojpuri, what many would term 'cheapo' song. He loved its energy, its rhythm and he was completely crazy about Madhuri's dancing in this. He really admired her skill. And I read somewhere that they had a multiple camera set up for this song and Madhuri rendered the entire dance of this 4 - 5 minute number, in ONE take. She is that fabulous. And Baba recognised that extraordinary talent. So yes, my dad, of many intellectual pursuits and deeply artistic interests, belongs to Chane Ke Khet Mein! :o)

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

What if...

Sometimes I have this really wicked thought of telling all on all my ex-men. (Nice phrase, ex men. sounds like a sci-fi film.)

I guess it must be about getting to office on a tuesday morning after a lazy, gorgeous, sun kissed, holi drunk, gujia satiated weekend, but it makes me want to do mean things.

I have the added advantage of the fact that my husband knows about each one of the ex-men, in all their varied shades of glory. So does my family.

Which kind of leaves me free to wreak havoc on the entire sanctimonious holier than thou lot.

Hey, don't get me wrong. I don't think they are all pigs because we all chose to move on with our lives. I thinnk they are pigs because they are!

Hee hee.

Anyhow, got to know about this maudlin tweet that one of the ex-men had posted about his blissful marital life, and I had this wicked wicked desire to get on to twitter and leave one saucy, marriage wrecking comment on it...

I have similarly juicy, creative thoughts on several other ocassions. Thoughts that could render marriages, homes, careers and sanity ruined.

I am disgustingly wicked.

So whats the moral of the story?

Be careful of an ex boyfriend for about three months. That's pretty much the time in which he can murder you, malign you, post your dirty pictures on the internet, deface you, haunt you, stalk you, attack you....

After that, with their short attention spans, and shorter memories, they will forget you.

But be careful of an ex girlfriend for life. She may just decide to ruin your life on whim.

Just because a long weekend got over.

Sunday, February 21, 2010


I recently got to know that some woman who I knew in my first job, around 15 years ago, feels 'sad' that she and I did not explore our friendship back then because we were prevented by early 20s insecurity, rivalry and suspicion.

Needless to say, this caught me totally off guard, in my solar plexus, because I had only viewed her as a colleague and someone who was more than an acquaintance, less than a friend, all those years ago. I was mildly happy to get in touch with her again. She had never occupied more mindspace for me than that. I however seem to have filled up her thoughts with far more complex hues.

Today apparantly being in our mid 30s and more mature, we have the power to put all that behind us and become friends. And that she no longer is in awe of my looks or my success or the colour of my frigging hair, or something to that effect. I don't remember the exact words because this was all in her facebook invite message to me, and after I confirmed her (which I'm not sure why I did) I can't seem to retrieve that invitation message.

I got on to facebook about a week ago, caving in to general pressure, and am already regretting it.

The whole business seems entirely directionless and pointless - and that when its not revealing nasty truths from people who were barely on the edges of your consciousness.

I seem to inspire a lot of this perplexing hatred. What flabbergasts me the most is very often this hatred comes from people who I barely think about, have never wished them any harm, never had any ill will towards and never even thought about much.

Thankfully the people who love me also do so quite intensely, so it adequately compensates, else I'd have a serious self worth issue.

But I don't get it. Once I had gotten to know through a friend that a guy he knew bad mouthed me intensely and regularly, for over 2 years. The guy kept urging my friend to lose contact with me, as 'prolonged exposure' to me would be bad for him.

Believe it or not, I had never even met the guy in question. We had only heard of each other on and off through common acquaintances. Such third hand knowledge of a person can generate gossip, sure, but hatred? Venomous, black viscous hatred?


Then there was this girl in my team where I currently work. For a long time I kept working on her career because I truly saw a lot of potential in her. I would even go the extent of saying she and I became sort of friends. Laughter is one thing we shared a lot, and that is a great bonding agent.

Then one day I gave her career a direction she didn't quite resonate with. She made it amply evident to me that even though it was growth, I had not given her growth in quite the way she wanted.

By this time she was anyway no longer my direct reportee. I had just continued to remain involved with her career because I truly felt she'd go places.

Needless to say after she made her displeasure at my intervention evident, I totally stepped out of her professional life. I anyway had other responsibilities and it was a relief to take my eyes off something that was proving to be quite thankless.

For the next 8 months I had absolutely nothing to do with her. I'd hear how she was coping, when she was doing well and when otherwise, but it was all very distant information percolated through layers of office talk. I didn't spend much time thinking about her. She vaguely shimmered on the horizon of my awareness.

One day I heard she was quitting. I remember thinking: 'well, thank god, at least she won't be able to blame me for this. I've had absolutely nothing to do with her for nearly a year'.

Well imagine my surprise when she went out all guns blazing, blaming me for having conspired to kill her career in this company.

Err. Nasty accusation aside, I never quite got the logic of it. Why would I want to kill the career of a person when I'd spent 5 years building it? It defied common sense.

Anyhow, today she is doing precisely what I had envisaged her to be doing in our company, in a rival company. Talent and potential rolled towards its natural destination. Even though she resisted my every urge to push her in a particular direction, it was just something so made for her that it found her anyway.

And she went out bitterly hating me, my intent and every last curly hair on my head. I think she went so far as to hope I miscarried or something. Which I thankfully didn't.

There have been others. Comparatively minor in intensity and involvement, but still there. A girl who worked for me in my previous company, thought at that time that I wasn't worthy of being her boss, later on went on to practically hero worship me, and therefore felt compelled to tell me all about her past feelings of hatred and malice.

A girl in my current company, a sort of a friend I'd say, told me a similar story some months ago. About how she used to hate my guts and thought I was nuts and anal for being so detail oriented but today, as she finds herself in positions of responsibility, realises my committment and dedication to the job and deeply appreciates me for the training I invested in her etc etc... Even though she bitched and cribbed about me endlessly then, apparantly. But hey, she loves me now.

Most of these confessions come from women. Even the woman I started this post with - she's been following up her facebook invitation with a series of intense lover-like smses after I clearly indicated my discomfort to her. It is essential to her that I understand her true feelings, her admiration inspite of her insecurities, her appreciation inspite of her envy, her desire to strike up a deep meaningful relationship with me inspite of her highly inappropriate, more-information-than-I-needed invitation message. She needs me to look at her guts, love her inspite of their putrification and then embrace her in a lifelong bond of friendship.

Yawn. I don't think its worth the time and mind space. I don't get the sanctimonious nature of it all. As Gorky puts it so fantastically - "Why do people insist on using someone's head as a stepping stone to attain nirvana?"

I think when you've disliked a person for a while, and then changed your mind about them, you feel so saintly, so haloed, so good about yourself, that you naturally assume the other person will fall over with gratitude once you confess your true feelings to them. I guess the only reason a person would have the socially awkward, highly inappropriate "I Used to Hate You But Now I Think You Rock" conversation with anyone is because they are feeling so smug, so full of the clean, pious, moral light, that it doesn't strike them for a second that the other person may just be plain flabbergasted, never having thought of themselves as hated or disliked in the first place. The sanctimonious nature of having let go of a negative obsession, is so high, that these slightly ill people just don't realise how their couch confidences will sound to the unsuspecting third party.

The most bizarre of these stories is the one about the girl who joined a company after I'd quit it. She replaced me. Six years later she came to meet me in my new organisation only to tell me that she'd been obsessing about me so much that it was threatening to be an illness.

She had heard about the quality of my work in my previous organisation and somehow had gotten into a state of total inadequacy. Nothing she did ever really matched up to the standards I'd set.

What rot.

We've all replaced older employees in jobs. Sure it takes some time to step into their shoes. Sure it takes a while to replace the team's and / or the boss's dependancy on their way of working, but its doable. No employee is ever indispensable.

Its never worth a six year obsession about a person you've never met.

Or is it?

And what's with all this confession. Waiting to exhale. Or should I say ex-hate. "Oh I used to hate you. But I also admire you. I was insecure about it. But now I'm over it. Its all water under the bridge. Or over it. Or whatever. We are all more mature now. So I must spill my guts into your ears whether you want to hear it or not. You must smell the rotten turd of my brain. Please. We can start on a fresh page. Please, lets start afresh. I used to be insecure about you. I used to be jealous of you. I used to believe all the gossip about you. I used to be envious of you. I stuck pins into your dolls. I sat bitching about you to others. But now I see you for the great person you are. I'd like to do you the favour of befriending you. Now you must fall all over yourself in gratitude. I used to think you were weird. Now I don't...."

Err... I have news for you, you exhater. You are giving me more information than I need. You are telling me things that don't make me feel grateful, they make me feel disgusted. Also, you are freaking me out.

I'm not interested in helping you bury your ghosts. Even if I am the ghost.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010


I think its officially time to replace the word 'socialize' with 'alcoholize'.

Lets face it, for most of us, for most of the time, with most types of company (with the exception of aged relatives on some select worship days), there is no socializing without alcoholizing.

Don't agree? Read my list of Top 10 things people find increasingly difficult to do without booze. (if you do agree, feel free to add to the list!!)

1. Sit with random colleagues beyond work hours, for more than half an hour.

2. Flirt.

3. Sit with 'friends' for more than one hour.

4. Share personal life details (especially details that nobody is interested in)

5. Initiate sex

6. Be truthful

7. Be nostalgic / sentimental

8. Appreciate poetry. (Or nature. Or childhood).

9. Prepare for Monday morning. (or begin Friday night)

10. Appreciate one's spouse.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Please eat a Kegg!

It must have been about a year or so back, that having run out of eggs in the house, and constantly forgetting to get more from the local grocer, I stopped at the 24x7 store below my gym and picked up these fancy looking eggs called KEGGS.

I'd seen them earlier a few times - at home before I got married, and I remembered them being quite nice. Not the sort of person to pay much attention to individual items on a grocery bill, I didn't know how these jumbo sized, tan coloured, packed in corrugated brown sheeting eggs compared price-wise to regular dimunitive white eggs.

They turned out to be yummylicious. One stunning sunrise type golden yolk that was so strong on flavour that the pale lemon variant that one had normally gotten used to seemed like nutrinugget in comparison. And a white that would cook to scintillating silky textured crispiness. For major fried egg fiends like us, the Kegg was one heck of discovery.

R began to insist that we ditch the grocer's pathetic egglets and switch totally to Keggs. Which is what we did soon. Like all such products, the packaging hardly merited any more attention from us, once we were sold on the quality of the product itself.

Over months and months of eating Keggs I obviously started noticing little details on those green boxes. What struck me first was the currogated cardboard base the eggs had, each in an individual dip - so if your refrigerator ran out of eggshelf space, hey, presto! these came with their own.

The next thing I noticed was that each egg had an individual hologram stuck on it. Not bad - so these were actually individually quality checked and okayed. Kya baat hai.

Since we are talking about eggs here, after all, it was almost another 6 months or so before another detail caught my eye: the phrase 'Tan shells' on the box. Aha. So the lovely colouring to the shells was deliberate, and something the company / cooperative / farm - or whatever it was that made these damn things - were proud of.

Ok so what came next in this bizarre egg discovery journey? This one truly warmed the cockles of my heart. Right next to Tan Shell - yeah, so why it took me so long to read it, mystifies - was another phrase. Cage Free.

That one genuinely made me do a double take. Hey not bad. So I read other stuff on the packaging. These chickens were raised on an extremely healthy, non synthetic diet, and kept entirely cage free in a near total organic farm. They got plenty of air and sun, and water and food and running around space. Thats pretty much all the stuff I try and ensure for my child.

I came home, happy with our greed that day. And told R that we were doing a nice thing by eating Keggs and not eggs. After all, we've all seen those miserable dingy cages with about two dozen birds cramped into that dirty little space, being transported to the fish and poultry market. Its not made any of us non-vegetarians proud.

So this cage free business was nice. A happy chick clearly gave a happy egg. So nice.

You see everytime I see a suffering animal I don't have an automatic desire to turn vegetarian. I don't think there's anything wrong with the natural order of animals eating other animals. I just wish the animals would live a happy life and die a painless death. The way it happens in a lot of farms in the West.

If you've read the James Herriot series of All Things Bright and Beautiful...... Wise and Wonderful... et al, you'll know what I mean. The guy is a British vet. And he loves animals. And has extreme compassion for all suffering birds and beasts. All his books are about his experiences while healing, treating and curing animals.

Yet the same vet is more than happy to sit at a farmer's kitchen table and share a rash of bacon. There is no contradiction there. The desire that animals lead happy healthy lives, feel cared for and loved, and then end up on your dinner table eventually, may seem irreconcilable, even reprehensible, to vegans and vegetarians, but I don't see the contradiction in the wish. If raised right and killed compassionately, a lot of animals bred for food end up actually having a better quality of life than their stray or domestic counterparts.

Whats my point therefore? That the Cage Free claim on the Keggs box made me quite happy. Rabid non-vegetarian though I am.

Today when I opened a fresh box of Keggs, out popped a little leaflet. 'Keggfarms - the larger story' it said. And a truly impressive story it was. Set up in 1967 as a poultry development company, Keggfarms did a drastic reorientation of its goals in the early 90s, when it realised that 70% of this country's population - the poor rural sector - was not benifitting from the success of the farm.

As the leaflet says, 'there are an estimated 30 million, mainly below poverty line, rural households in India, where women raise poultry as a traditional activity.... these birds are raised on no cost household village and agricultural waste'.

Keggfarms took it upon itself to provide these rural households with superior quality poultry birds, that would thrive in the village environment at no additional cost, and would gain far more weight than their indigeneous cousins and deliver far larger quantities and superior quality of eggs. 'Effectively converting a traditional household activity into significant supplementary income in the hands of impoverished rural women'

Obviously, the yummy Keggs we eat are not from these specially bred poultry. They are from 'upper caste' chickens in a fancy farm. But everytime we eat those Keggs, we contribute to the Keggfarms coffers, which often finds itself quite cash strapped in its corporate rural venture.

So go ahead. Eat a Kegg. If it's not available in your locality, put in that teeny weeny bit of extra effort of asking your local grocer to stock Keggs. Trust me, if you demand it a few times, he WILL source it. Customer is king. And these are hard times. Hey they get our favourite shampoo and soap brands don't they, if we promise to always purchase a regular supply? So why not our brand of eggs?

Pamper your pallette. Savour your sunny side up.

And do your bit for this country. Cmon, be a good egg.