Friday, July 31, 2009

On the Seaface

Overcast skies. The imminent prospect of rain. The clouds painting over the beautiful sunset that should have been.

You could join the throng of trippers. Bite into a roasted corn cob. Dig into a paper cone of bengal gram. Watch the waves crash on the shore. Let the water spray over you.

Or you you sit and commune with Life.

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Thursday, July 30, 2009


I may be mistaken, but I am reasonably sure that when I was in Grade 1, I had just graduated to four and five letter words. Perhaps I had to write the odd longer word, but those were the times when I had to spell my name.

My son has just entered Grade 1, and guess which words were on the list of ten words he would be tested on this week – condensation, evaporation and precipitation.

Sure, they are words that he has been hearing all month. ‘Condensation’ and ‘evaporation’ are concepts that have been driven into him through simple experiments, and by working on the water cycle-

If I had a say, I would rather my son have grasped the concept of condensation and evaporation with the words being reserved for a later class. But I know I am in a minority – most people (and schools) seem to believe that labelling things is a lot more important than understanding them.

Condensation and evaporation I am willing to live with. But precipitation?

I am quite sure I did not encounter that word before High School, and before teaching my son to spell the word out, I had to check the spelling myself. Why on earth should a child of five or six be taught the word precipitation when rain or snow would serve just as well?

But there is an unwitting fallout of it- I achieved geek status since my son refers to rain as precipitation even in normal conversation.

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Wednesday, July 29, 2009

What's with the weather in Bombay

What’s it with the weather in Bombay this year?
When it was hot, and we yeaned for a single shower to bring the temperatures down, there was no respite. Water levels fell in our lakes, animals rarely ventured out of the shade, plants needed watering twice a day. Even florists felt the need to wrap their tender blooms in newsprint to keep them fresh.
Days when all the atmospheric conditions pointed unerring towards rain remained dry, and the temperature went from hot to hotter to hottest and then hotter still.
“It is so hot, the first week of June will see the onset of the monsoons”, predicted the pundits self-proclaimed or otherwise. And wilting in the heat, we chose to believe them.

First week of June – no premature monsoons.
Second week of June – no normal monsoons.
Third week of June – still no sign of the monsoons.

The delayed monsoons finally hit in the fourth week of June. But once the clouds opened up, there was no holding back. Normally, the monsoons start with one week of almost continuous rainfall, after which it only rains three or four evenings out of seven. Two days of waterlogging is the norm, three the maximum.

Five weeks into the monsoons, I remember only two days when it did not rain. We’ve had at least one day a week where waterlogging has disrupted life in the city. The only good thing about this monsoon is that the catchments areas are getting their fair share of rain, so the city may survive another year without dying of thirst.

Going my past experience, I wonder if I should pull out my knitting needles in preparation for winter.
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Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Entitled maternity leave?

There is talk of amending the Maternity Benefits Act, 1961 to increase the period of paid maternity leave for women working in any public or private enterprise from 12-weeks to six months.

But when the majority of women in the country are either self employed, or work in the unorganised sector, would that really help combat the problem of infantile malnutrition as it is supposed to?

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Monday, July 27, 2009

Azadirachta indica

Times without count, I have attempted unsuccessfully to grow a neem tree. The seeds don’t germinate, and a transplanted sapling never seems to take root in a pot. And yet the tree is so pretty, and its medicinal properties so attractive, I have never been able to bring myself to stop trying.

Last week, in the car park, I spotted a bit of green near the windshield wiper of a car. It was leaf shaped, but seemed too fresh to have fallen off the tree the car was parked under. Closer investigation showed that a neem seed had germinated in the fertile pile created by moist old leaves.

I had to photograph it, before gently removing the seedling and bringing it home. If it could spring up where it did, the seed has resilience. But whether it will set root in my pot, only time will tell.

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Sunday, July 26, 2009

Colours - White

[Every woman has a story. Every story has a colour. This is just one of them.

This is a work of fiction. The characters and situations are purely imaginary, and any resemblance to people living or dead is purely coincidental and unintended.]

I stand on the sandy beach. Wind hitting my face; pulling back my hair, my white muslin skirt. Inhaling the salt in the air. Watching the waves roll up to caress my bare toes.

Is it a Moment? An Eternity?
I do not know. When I here, I am just me.
The woman in White. No past. No present. No future.

I watch the sea. Ever-moving, yet strangely permanent. Each wave distinct, yet collectively all the same.

Here I am. Just communing with Nature. Feeling insignificant in comparison to the Universe, and immense as an intrinsic part of all Creation.

Drabble(n) -
an extremely short work of fiction exactly one hundred words in length.
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Saturday, July 25, 2009

Dancing water

Bombay is supposed to be going through a water scarcity. There is water rationing in residential areas, water-supply to swimming pools and five-star hotels is being regulated, people are being asked to conserve water by not washing cars everyday.

And yet, even in a light drizzle, the fountain installed in the new building opposite my house was turned on. It looked beautiful with the lights bouncing off the dancing water. Everyone who passed by paused to take in the beauty.

But I had to wonder. In a city where people don’t have water to drink, was the fountain strictly necessary?

Friday, July 24, 2009

Who is an Indian author

Amitav Ghosh. Jhumpa Lahiri. Salman Rushdie. They may be of Indian descent, but can you really call them Indian authors?
Preeta Samarasan in her Wikipedia entry is defined as a Malaysian English author. Neel Mukherjee has been living abroad for more than a decade.
Which leaves Manjula Padmanabhan and Anuradha Roy as the only authors I would classify as truly ‘Indian’ in the shortlist for the Vodafone Crossword Popular Book Award 2008.

I don’t have anything against any of the authors. Some of them I even like quite a bit. And some of the books on the short list I have read and enjoyed. But when an award is instituted supposedly to “recognise and reward the best of Indian writing and ensure that works of merit reach a wider audience”, I would personally like the awards to honour books that are truly ‘Indian’.

Ms. Lahiri’s snapshots of the Indian diaspora, though accurate, are the musings of people who define themselves as no longer Indian. Ms. Samarasan’s debut novel is supposed to be about Malay-Indians – again, people no longer Indian.

Should the awards be open to all authors of Indian descent, or should it be restricted to people who define themselves as Indian? Isn’t there enough fiction set in India, or written by resident Indians that can be honoured? Does giving an award to a Vikram Seth or a Salman Rushdie promote the reading habit in India?

How much better it would be if the Award sought out genuine Indian gems and introduced them to the reading public. Pirated copies of ‘The Enchantress of Florence’ and ‘Sea of Poppies’ have been available at the Haji Ali signal for months. I would love to see Gouri Dange’s ‘3, Zaika Mansion’ being hawked there.

[The results are out. Neel Mukherjee is the joint winner. Is now the time to say that we were in University together?]


Thursday, July 23, 2009

Cheerful shade of gloom

No two ways about it, it is a gloomy day.

When you haven’t seen the sun for several days. When the house is full of clothes that refuse to dry. When everyone around has a runny nose. When your entire life is disrupted because the surgeon cannot operate till your thyroid levels are in check. When your mother has been forced to press the pause button on her life

On a day like this, you cannot but think that there is no cheerful shade of gloom.

At least, you don’t have to wade through waterlogged streets to get to work.
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Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Switching identities

When I am working, I am ‘me from my organisation’. But when kiddie emergencies crop up, and become either ‘my sons’ Mom’, or one particular ‘son’s Mom’.
On those rare days when my maid condescends to inform me that she is not coming, instead of leaving me to find out when I get home, I am ‘bhabhi (sister-in-law). And when I am receiving couriers or bills, I become ‘Mrs. Hubby’.

Switching names and identities has almost become second nature to me now– I can shift in a jiffy.

Men have it so much easier. They only need to be themselves.


Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The Sealink

We finally did the touristy thing and went for a drive on the Banda-Worli Sealink this weekend. The bridge has been a part of my life for so many years - from evaluating financial models in the bidding stage, to living in a house that overlooked the bay where the link was to come up, to seeing the reclaimation activity at the Reclamation - it was almost like coming home.

The drive did not disappoint. Though there was sufficient traffic to deter the speeds that many people boast about, it was still a smooth ride. And with the windows down, and the high tide beneath, it was an experience of the kind the city offers very little of.

But the moment we hit Worli Seaface, the traffic-planner in me kicked in. Even a child could have said the alignment just would not work. The only purpose served by blocking off all possible U-turns is to ensure that cars stay on the road for five times the distance they intented to. Would not a simple clover-leaf junction have taken care of most of the congestion without compromising on aesthetics?

The more I think about it, the more convinced I am that the reason the bridge has the beautiful harp shaped structure only at the Bandra end, is because the planners intended that it be balanced by a similar structure reaching up to Nariman Point. Without that bridge, all that the Bandra-Worli Sealink would do is to shift the bottleneck from Mahim Causeway to Annie Besant Road. And I am sure, nobody wants that.
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Monday, July 20, 2009

Adenium obesum - the saga continues

A few weeks back, I'd blogged about the seeds produced by my Adenium plant.

I'd collected and stored them, intending to plant them when I had more time. But when I read somewhere that the seeds remained fertile only for 2 to 3 weeks, the project took on a sense of urgency.

Soaked the seeds in water, and planted them, not really expecting them to germinate. But they did.

Now I have about a dozen Adenium seedlings, which I would have to transplant into individual pots when the second set of leaves come out.

Wouldn't it be great if even some of them grow into plants.

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Sunday, July 19, 2009

Colours - Magenta

[Every woman has a story. Every story has a colour. This is just one of them.]
[This is a work of fiction. The characters and situations are purely imaginary, and any resemblance to people living or dead is purely coincidental and unintended.]

Magenta she loves. Magenta it shall be.

Magenta nailpaint, magenta bangles, magenta shoes. She will braid magenta ribbons through the little girl’s curly mop. Maybe even order a magenta milkshake at the ice cream parlour.

Sunday is a special day. Sunday is her day with the most wonderful child in the world. The father is around too, but even he knows he is just the bystander.

She will have to wipe off traces of magenta before sending the girl back home to her mother, but the following Sunday can be another magenta day.

How she hates the word ‘step mother’.

Drabble(n) -
an extremely short work of fiction exactly one hundred words in length.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Don't wait for symptoms

“Do you suffer from fatigue?”
“Are you bothered by unexpected weight loss or weight gain?”
“Are you forgetful, or have problem focusing?”

The list of questions that tell you that you are suffering a thyroid imbalance is almost endless. And practically none of it seems to apply to me – sure I am irritable, but I have been so as long as I can remember.

And yet, when I had to get my thyroid levels checked before the surgery, they were found to be way out of the normal range. I have apparently been suffering from a thyroid imbalance for a fairly long time, without even being aware of it.

Were it not for what we thought would be fairly routine tests carried out prior to the surgery, I would never even have suspected. And this to a person who has in the last three months advised two separate people to get their thyroid levels checked since she thought their weight gain could not be explained in any other way.

Frankly, I am not at all sure if I would have ever believed it if a person who can run 10 kms without pushing herself too much had told me she suffered from a thyroid imbalance. And yet, I do. And not a borderline case either.

All I can hope is that others are not as careless as me, and they get their medical tests done whether or not they feel something is wrong with them. As for me, I guess the one good thing about the illness is that I have now learnt how much else is wrong with my body.

So, please. Don't wait for symptoms, get yourself checked.


Friday, July 17, 2009

Bossy 'aunties'

Perhaps the only thing I actively disliked about being a new mother was the unsolicited advice that I had to deal with. Often I welcomed it – there were tips on how I could simplify my life by doing things differently, home remedies to deal with common ailments, and general advice on things I never even knew had to be done.
My biggest problem with the hoards of advice thrown in my direction was that being largely self taught in the act of motherhood, I did not feel confident enough to dismiss any advice without trying it out at least once. And even when it was not conflicting advice, the sheer volume was what overwhelmed me.

I resolved NEVER to become the kind of ‘aunty’ I’d feared. I would never offer advice unless someone expressly sought it. And even when I did, I would caveat it saying that it was something that had worked for me, but that I did not claim it to be the gospel truth.

Why then did I walk up to a perfect stranger today, and tell her that she should never let down the safety latch of the pram. In the three-month old baby, I could see all the signs of someone who would manage to turn herself over any day now. I knew that the next step for the baby would be pushing herself forward using the back of the pram as the support. I knew the baby, though pre-mobile, could fall out of the pram. But in my haste to convey the urgency, I think I became just the kind of ‘aunty’ who’s advice would be ignored by all but the most pliable mothers.

The mother is never going to take my advice – I could see it in the rigidity of her body while I was speaking to her. I just hope that in her desire to ignore me, she doesn’t blind herself to the tell-tale signs that point unerringly to danger.

Could I have achieved my purpose if I had been more oblique?


Thursday, July 16, 2009

Entrepreneurs both

Waiting at the Lower Parel station, I decided to kill time by browsing at the roadside stall selling pirated copies of bestsellers. After a few false tries, the man found a pattern in my reading and recommended four books in a row that I had read and liked. He was on a roll, and named three other books which he did not have, but which I had liked.

Recognising me for the book slut that I am, he proudly announced, “Madam, give me the name of any book that you want, and I can get it for you. Because of the rains I don’t keep a massive stock here, but I can lay my hands on every single book.”

I was almost tempted to call his bluff by mentioning some esoteric book that was no longer in print, but desisted. I was impressed by his professionalism, his enthusiasm, his initiative, and his intuitive understanding of books he had never read nor was ever likely to.

I am almost tempted to pick up ‘Imagining India’ from him but the principle of book piracy holds me back.

Which is more important - supporting an entrepreneur or respecting the rights of the author? I am sure losing royalty on the Rs. 575 book is not going to make too much of a difference to Nandan Nilekani, but Rs. 50 would mean a lot to the book seller.

Watch this space…..


Wednesday, July 15, 2009

How do you know what to hope for?

It was scheduled to be a fairly routine evacuation under local anaesthesia. Fibroids in the uterus were rather common, the gynaecologist assured me. I should be back at work the following day.
But things never are as simple as you hope they would be. When we reported at the nursing home for the operation, he told us he wanted us to undergo a colour Doppler to rule out something that happened in less than 1% of the cases, but which could lead to huge complications during the procedure.
“That is one in hundred, doctor”, I said. “hardly what I would call rare!” But of course, we did hope I would not be that one percent.

The doctor conducting the colour Doppler kept asking what seemed to be absolutely pointless questions, but when the report came, the questions no longer seemed so silly. There was a vascular outgrowth, which could either be an invasive mole, or the A-V malfunction that the gynaecologist has wanted to rule out.

Hysterectomy in either case, but of course, I did not want it to be a mole, because who can predict when a mole stops being benign? The confirmatory blood test took over six hours, and every one of those minutes was spent hoping it was precisely that which we had hoped it would not be just a few hours back.

In the doctor’s words, they can’t now save my uterus. The rather simple procedure has now become a laproscopic hysterectomy. I go under the gas later this week. And all I am hoping is that I come out of it okay.

After hours spent hoping it was not an A-V malformation, and then the hours spent hoping it was one, I don’t even know what to hope for.


Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Std IV - A

Social networking sites are something else.

Someone I was in primary school with, and who I barely remembered connected with me the other day, and through him, I got in touch with someone I remembered slightly from the same period.

We connected, and before I knew it, I was tagged on the Class Photograph of Std IV – A, of St. Josephs’ Convent, Musaboni.

I am amazed at how little I have changed physically in three decades.

And I wonder where all the rest of the people have gone. Wonder if our paths will ever cross, and if we will even recognise each other when they do?

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Monday, July 13, 2009

Life is Beautiful

The cool drizzle spraying on your face. The monsoon wind running its fingers through your hair. A raincoat to keep you dry, to prevent the chill from getting at your throat.
Your best friend and brother beside you. Carte blanc to pluck all the leaves you want.
All of Sunday to plan out whatever you want to do.
Can anyone ask for more?
Who says life is anything but BEAUTIFUL?

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Colours - Brown

[Every woman has a story. Every story has a colour. This is just one of them.]
[This is a work of fiction. The characters and situations are purely imaginary, and any resemblance to people living or dead is purely coincidental and unintended.]

She’s everybody’s favourite aunt.

The aunt who bakes cupcakes for you, and teaches you to lick the batter off the mixing bowl. The one who lets you borrow her earrings for that special day out. The aunt you go to when you need to tell someone about that girl who just doesn’t reciprocate your feelings.

She adores kids. Other people’s kids. Kids she can have fun with, but not have to worry about.

Why then does everyone assume she needs to be pitied for not having any of her own? The lady in brown doesn’t need soiled diapers, thank you.

Drabble(n) -
an extremely short work of fiction exactly one hundred words in length.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Luck by Chance

That Wednesday.
I had shut down my laptop and was heading home when the boss caught me. “I need you to make a couple of changes in the presentation”, he said.
“Why don’t you mail it to me. I’ll come in early tomorrow morning and do it.”
“Tomorrow is too late. I need to send it off now.”
“But, my train, my gang...”
“Take the next one.”

I was still in office when I heard about the blasts. My friends were in the compartment where the bomb went off. I should have been there too. It was Luck by Chance.
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Friday, July 10, 2009

Purple day

Overcast morning. The kind of morning you want to spend in bed. The kind of morning that should develop into a day of eating pakodas and drinking chai. Not the kind of morning you want to go to office in.
A slightly depressing morning.

My five year old joined me in the kitchen. Toothpaste in his breath, sleep in his eyes. “Mamma look. Today is a Purple Day,” he said excitedly.

I looked out. Everything did look Purple. A cheery shade of purple.

It was a Purple Day. A very Purple Day. It was going to be a wonderful day.


Thursday, July 9, 2009

I will go to Infiniti Mall

The three-year old was being his normal stubborn self.
“If you don’t behave yourself, no more Infiniti Mall for you.”
“Yes, I will go to Infiniti Mall.”
“We wouldn’t take you.”
“If you don’t take me, I’ll go to on my own.”
“And how will you do that?”
“I’ll get on an auto, and tell him to take me to Infiniti Mall. And when I am there, I will go on all the rides. I will do all the rides, even the rides you don’t let me go on.”

We didn’t know whether to be amused, amazed or plain scared.


Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Yes, I am so lucky

“Seeing you after a very long time. You haven’t been coming to the gym regularly, have you?”
“Quite”, I cheerfully agreed. “I think was here last six weeks back.”
“Me too. I just can’t find time to go to the gym.”

Ten minutes later.
“Everytime I am forced to take a break, I lose my stamina completely. I had started jogging for a few minutes, but now I can’t do it any longer.”
“You are so lucky. You have not come for so long, and yet you are able to jog.”
“I haven’t come to the gym, but I have been running two to three times a week.” She looked most perplexed, so I explained. “I get half an hour between leaving the kid off at 7:25, and the hubby leaving for work just before 8. The gym is too crowded so I go to the park.”
“Which park?”
“The public park around the corner. It has a pretty decent track, and jogging there is better than doing nothing.”

She was totally aghast – how could any self respecting person shun a gym and go to a public park instead? But if the gym is too crowded, and I don’t have any other window in which to exercise, do I really have a choice?

“You are really lucky, you have time to exercise. Immediately after leaving the kids off, I have to send my husband off, then the maid comes in, and by the time I have cleaned the house and taken a bath, it is time to fetch the kids. I wish I had time to exercise, like you do.”

For a change, I was totally speechless!!!

And I guess I am lucky. Lucky because I know how to create my own luck.


Tuesday, July 7, 2009


The Bryophyllum was a plant I bought primarily for my kids.
As a child, I had been fascinated by the plant that grew new plants on its leaves, and I did now want my two losing out on that wonder.
Strangely, though, the kids are quite unaffected by the phenomenon – they find seeds germinating into plans a lot more fascinating – but that doesn’t stop me from having fun fiddling with the plantlets myself.

The mother plant succumbed to the infestation of a pest, but a baby plant has taken her place, and is gearing up to produce kids of her own.

I love the tenacity with which plants cling on, if you are only willing to lend them a helping hand.
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Monday, July 6, 2009

Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code

Frankly, I cannot understand the undercurrent of resentment against the reading down of Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code to decriminalize same sex behaviour among consenting adults.

Hearing some people decry the ‘historic judgement handed down by the High Court’, one would be forgiven for believing that same sex marriage have been legalized, or same sex couples allowed to adopt children as couples.

None of that. All that the judgement does is to proclaim that it is no longer a crime to indulge in consensual sexual with a person of the same gender. Same sex couplings are still a ‘sin’ – they are only no longer a ‘crime’.

LBGTs don’t have it easy. They need to discover themselves, convince their family, decide whether to come out in the open or not, battle society at every stage. At best, they face apathy, at worst, open hostility. What they do not additionally need is for them to be branded criminals.

And that is all that the fresh interpretation of the legislation does- decriminalizes consensual sex between adults of the same sex.

LBGTs are not criminals. They are not rapists who force themselves on people to demonstrate their power over them. Neither are they predators preying on minors and those incapable of thinking for themselves. They are just individuals with different sexual preferences

To deny them even that is to deny them the basic right to choose. At least, I think so.


Sunday, July 5, 2009

Colours - Orange

[Every woman has a story. Every story has a colour. This is just one of them.
This is a work of fiction. The characters and situations are purely imaginary, and any resemblance to people living or dead is purely coincidental and unintended.]

She watched the patterns take shape on her palm. “The darker the colour, the more love your mother-in-law will give you”, the elder ladies prophesied.

Henna blessed by the mother of the man she was marrying. The lady who hated her for stealing her only son.

Henna symbolising acceptance, unconditional love. Did no one realise it was a stamp of ownership, not a mark of assimilation? “Today, the patterns on your hand are ours”, the henna screamed. “Tomorrow your identity will be submerged too.”

Why did marriage have to involve families? Why couldn’t she just marry the man she loved?

Drabble(n) -
an extremely short work of fiction exactly one hundred words in length.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

The ultimate comfort food

Rainy days. The craving for comfort food. I needed golden brown pakodas fresh from the pan!

As usual, I tired to multi-task. Kept the fire on high, so the oil would heat faster.

The batter sizzled as I eased it in. Before I knew it, the pakodas were a dark shade of brown. Burnt outside, raw inside. Inedible!

I waited for the oil to cool. Fried the next batch on low heat. Constantly turning the pakodas over. Giving each one time to cook right through. The pakodas were perfect!

Some things cannot be hurried. In the kitchen or in life.

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Friday, July 3, 2009

The Assignment

It was a tough assignment. My son was supposed to write about a recreation activity involving water that was not aquarium, water park, swimming, fishing, sailing, boating, water polo, surfing, skiing or scuba diving.

It takes a lot to stump me, but this assignment did - the list seemed comprehensive.
Yatching? But would that not come under sailing?
Going on a cruise? But while that involved being on a ship that was at sea, it did not directly involve water, did it?
Maybe something super specialised like snorkeling?

The kid was impatient to start, so I started reading the assignment out to him. When, by way of explaining it, I asked him what his favourite passtime involving water was, he blurted out "splashing in puddle".

So I asked him to illustrate it, which he happily did-

If the teacher wants to be very technical about it, she could argue that splashing through puddles, though fun, was not exactly 'recreation'. But then by the same logic, I would classify a visit to the aquarium as 'educative' than 'recreation'.

I don't care how this assignment gets graded, I am proud of my son for getting his priorities right. Puddles are more fun than overcrowded water parks.

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Thursday, July 2, 2009

The tart, the sweet

The tart draws you in. You notice the underlying sweet only much later. With a pinch of salt you have something divine – a trinity of tastes, a texture the tongue can caress forever.
“Pine-yaa-pul” is one of the first words I remember uttering – I’d seen it on a hoarding. A golden yellow bear endorsing a pineapple drink that must never have even taken off.
It was a fruit I rarely ate- the thorns often left the mouth covered with tiny cuts. But in the hands of an expert, the fruit can be a treat for the eyes and the tongue.
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Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Friends from school

A friend called me the other day while I was on the way to work. I haven’t seen her for over 15 years, not spoken to her since December. We giggled and laughed. Told each other how wonderful we were. Swapped stories of kids and nieces. Philosophized about what beauty was. We did not exchange news about ourselves – there was no need to. Our relationship is about who we are, not about what we do.
When we finished, I found a lady staring at me with an unreadable expression on her face. I smiled at, as I often do to strangers on the train.
She smiled back, a slightly tentative smile. Then gathering courage asked, “Were you talking to your sister?”
“No. To a friend”, I replied, then added unnecessarily, “we were in school together.”
“Aren’t you lucky you are still in contact with your friends from school,” she sighed wistfully “I lost touch with all of them years ago.”
“So had I. We started finding each other only about a year back.”
“What’s the point? I am sure I will have nothing in common with them. We will exchange life stories, ask about other people we know, and never meet again. That is what always happens with old acquaintances. Not everyone is as lucky as you.”

Her cynicism was something I could relate to, because that is exactly how I had felt a couple of years back. I had to give her a piece of advice before getting off the train. “Do yourself a favour. Just try finding some of your old friends. You may be in for some wonderful surprises. And in any case what have you to lose?”

My friends from school! Some I was in University with, some I tried keeping in touch with even after passing out. But we all gradually drifted apart. We had the rest I started drifting apart from immediately after school.
It was only about a year back that we started finding each other through social networking sites. On the face of it, we had nothing in common. We had all taken very different paths, had very different experiences, become very different people. And yet, it was precisely because we had each evolved in such different ways that we discovered that common thread.

We live in very different worlds. Worlds that are unlikely ever to collide. The only thing that brings us together is a shared past. And because we know we will only meet each other as the schoolgirls that we once were, we don’t feel the need to put on our mask.
We can be ourselves with each other, because we know the other is not judging us; not mentally debating where to place us on the success ladder we all subconsciously condone.
When we meet, we are just ourselves – mothers, women, people, friends. We end up sharing with each other things we wouldn’t with anyone else because we know the other is not going to judge. We don’t bother to say what the other person wants to hear, because we have transcended the need for politeness. We are friends.

I hope the lady I met on the train tries to search out her school mates. They make wonderful friends. And sometimes a friend is all you really need.



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