*Conditions Apply

That sale was one of a kind. It was plastered all over the front page of the Hindu for over a week which made it hard to not take note of it.

Sell what you don’t want, and we’ll pay you the current-MRP of that! Big Bazaar’s Big Sale!

I don’t know what kind of a “sale” that was; none has seen one like that.

People couldn’t believe their eyes. All that the Race Course walkers, the herbal soup/kadalai sellers, the daily visitors of Sharadambal kovil, all that anyone in the vicinity of Race Course could talk about were the Big Sale. Personally, it didn’t have much effect on me, my mom or my dad, we never spoke of it. The fever did not get to us. Yet.

The main reason Big Bazaar executed this brainwave of an idea was that they were opening a new branch of their outlet in Race Course and this was their best way promoting it, at least it seemed like it. The sale was on a Sunday. And Sundays are when I wake after ten a.m. have brunch, catch a KTV movie at noon and then a mudhal-muraiyaaga-super hit-thirai kaatchi on Sun TV at 6pm while having some idlis or dosas for dinner and hit the sack dreading Monday and its blues.

But that Sunday, I woke up to all sorts of cacophony and clamour, the clock on the wall facing my bed said 7:30 a.m. What on earth is everyone doing at such an hour, that too on a Sunday?

“Wake up, wake up, wake up Janani.”

Amma kept talking as an attempt to rouse me as she sifted through my cupboards and then the shelves and I was still on my bed groaning and yawning and trying to make small talk but my un-brushed mouth reeked that even my dad in the next room said “first brush your teeth then you can grace us with your wisdom.”

“Do you want these books anymore? This Famous Five, Nancy Drew indha picture books la.”, amma asked holding up a copy and dusting it simultaneously.

“Don’t even touch them amma. You know that I don’t give away my books, why are you even asking.” I replied, by then I was hanging awkwardly from the sides of the bed and looking at my mom upside down. It took me an eternity to get out of the bed, as always despite my mom’s ceaseless efforts of switching the fan off, pulling my blankets off, opening up the curtains and pulling me by my arms.

Nothing got me out of bed but this did; “Inga paaru I am going to tell just once more, to get up and get ready or else…” said my mom. I have been in this situation so many times in my life up to now but I still have no idea what comes after “or else…” I know better than to ask what comes after it.

***

“Okay, so now I’m ready. Where are you going?”

“What did you just ask?”

It was a second later that I realized that I blurted out the question that you are not even supposed to blurt out. It is considered a bad omen to ask a person where he is going, for those who don’t know. We take superstitions seriously, very seriously. So I modified the question a bit and asked, “From where will we be coming back?” soon enough to not get amma hot about it.

“Big Bazaar.”

“What why? I thought we weren’t going to that thing.”

“We are now. Go take those stuff,” she said pointing to a huge pile of old cups and plates “and put them in those cartons and bring the gunny bags from the garage.” I saw dad and my brother taping up stacks of newspapers worth of at least six months’ quantity. “Akka, I dumped some of your old stuff in that box over there. Paathu sollu.” said my brother. It was fine I guess. I didn’t even bother to look. I was still groggy in my head and brain wasn’t completely ON. I needed coffee.

“Jananiiiii, where are those gunny bags???”

I took them to amma and asked “why are you giving away so much stuff? I like that blow-up chair. It’s there in the box,” I said pointing to a box.

“You will say this now and two days later, andha chair engeyo irukum nee engeyo irupa. It’s better we sell it now while this exchange sale thing is still there. It is only for today theriyuma? We better make use of it. Every in this neighbourhood is going to it. Why should we alone not go?”

Ohhhhhhhh. Okay, so this is why we are going.

“Keeping up with Zeitgeist, eh!”

In a matter of few minutes the car flooded with scarcely taped cartons and jute bags and gunny sacks. It wouldn’t have been a surprise if passersby mistook us for a family that was shifting places. In a while, we reached BB. To this day, I’ve never seen Big Bazaar as crowded as that day. The whole population of Race Course was there, with their scraps of every kind you could think of; clothes, electronics, barely broken decors, furniture etcetera, etcetera. People brought old dabba TVs and refrigerators on autos and all. So much for Race Course being posh and rich. And man, how much trash did people even have!!

Moreover, everyone who wanted swap this garbage for money had to buy a form, fill out the details and there was a kilometre wide queue for that. While dad looked into that, we unloaded the stuff from dicky, from under our seats, from on our laps and had a cup of tea and samosa each as we watched our neighbours unload even more than ours from their car. The place had never been livelier. People were about to get rid of all the junk and get money in return!!!! Yaaaay! Uncles and Aunties have never been happier.

do you think they’d exchange gold and all? I’ve been wanting to exchange this ring for a while…Big Bazaar la gold iruka enna?”

 “paaah, finally giving away these thousand Vikatans for some good rate. That paper-kaaran said he’ll not accept more than 5 rupees per copy, Big Bazaar will get for at least 15 rupees, I know. Enna oru deal!”

 “Big Bazaar na Big Bazaar dhaan ya!”

 “With the return money, apdiye we can buy provisions here itself and go. Semma idea no?” said one uncle and his aunty rolled her eyes beneath the soda-buddi and replied “first exchange this and come, then we’ll see about that. Kumaran Thangamaligai la some offer, I want to buy one ring, maybe we can buy that. That Kamala bought one last week. Hmph.”

***

It was more than an hour, the new BB food court was bustling as it was time for breakfast. Even though most of them who’d come to BB for this offer, lived in the proximity of less than a kilometre, they ate here despite the extravagant pricing. One vadai for 55 bucks.

Yov.

Convert 55 rupees to dollars and buy a vadai in New York, it wouldn’t cost as much as BB. But no one wanted to lose their spot in the queue, so it was a good day for BB food court.

Few minutes into “exchanging”, there was a commotion. An Iyer uncle was furious and raging. After all, he was the first one line. Apparently, he’d come in at 6am to exchange his BPL black and white television set and his wire-knit 60s lounge chair with a gunny sack of not such prominent items. Iyer uncle was given a pink sheet of low-quality paper and a bunch of light-blue sheets. He read it and threw up his hands in frustration, walked towards the counter and called “I want to see the manager!” A person wearing a black BB t-shirt and a BB cap led that uncle to the side of the building and pointed something to him.

“Janani, go see what is there and come.”

I guess the curiosity was mutual, apart from all holding places in the queue, the crowded headed towards that side of the building where hung a huge billboard with the terms and conditions in Time New Roman size 48.

 

*IN EXCHANGE FOR YOUR VALUED GOODS, YOU WILL BE PROVIDED WITH COUPONS THAT CAN BE EXCHANGED FOR YOUR PURCHASE EVERYTIME YOU BUY FOR MORE THAN 1000/- ONLY AT BIG BAZAAR!

 $$ ONCE IN A LIFETIME DEAL $$

 

*offer valid for a year

 Wait. WHAT?

Being the dumb, 14-year old I was. I ran down to my parents and said, “I think you have to buy something for 1000/- today and only then they’d take our stuff. And apparently, they’ll give us coupons also aama.” My dad looked ridiculed like what is this girl even saying. He made me stand in the line with amma and went to check it for himself. On returning, he said “which part of that billboard text didn’t you understand, Janani?” and my parents looked at me like they wanted a refund for all the money spent on my education.

Amma: So what is even written over there?

Dad: They’ll give us coupons now it seems for all our stuff. Then with those coupons, we can buy things from BB only when we’ve already bought for 1000 rupees.

Amma: I knew something was fishy. How will they give money for a broken TV, button-less radio, torn t-shirts and all! We should’ve known. What shall we do now?

Dad: What else. Exchange for coupons only. I can’t unpack all this back at home once again.

Basically, every other family that ransacked their garbage and loaded stuff that had even the slightest crack came to the same conclusion. The 55 rupees vadai didn’t leave us with enough energy to even tolerate the then baking sun let alone reset-up the trash once again. Most people stayed back, with their what-do-with-the-exchange-money-plans turned to tacky light-blue coupons of different denominations. Eventually, our turn came, dad was quetching his strong disapproval to the employees who could do nothing but say you can always use the coupons, sir. Furthermore, we had already posted the terms and conditions, sir.

Like hell you did. Where? At a dark alley towards the side of your building. You should’ve published this on the Hindu front-page, we’d have at least got a good Sunday morning sleep.

My brother, amma and I were done shifting the junk which they weighed duly and gave us a quite hefty sheaf of coupons for 20,000 rupees.

Thank you for participating in this bonanza exchange offer, sir. Can you give us your mobile number so we can send you SMS’ on upcoming offers in the future? The employee said.

And I don’t think my family and I have ever glared at anyone that furiously and the car ride back home was expectedly silent. We stepped in after a weird morning to a spic-and-span dwelling. “Well, at the house is clean and ridden of the piled rubbish.” said amma. “At the cost of 20,000 bucks”, replied dad.

***

Among the junk-pile that BB confiscated was my phone. It came free with BSNL broadband connection.  It was a beaten-up one with silver buttons that clicked and clacked so bloody loudly. I could’ve recorded a tune out of it every time I typed a sentence but it had its own cons. Past sleep time, if I texted or typed out something on the phone, my mom in the next room would know.

“Keep the phone down and sleep, Janani.”

And there went my first phone for a 100 rupees blue coupon that we eventually substituted for the original Monopoly currency that we misplaced.

 

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The Mandatory Year-End Post

Yet another great year comes to an end. It just whizzed past no? Feels like New Year was just yesterday!

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2017’s acceleration in a gif

Personally, twenty-seventeen was a splendid year. To number it, I saw legion movies (okay, exaggeration, I have absolutely no idea about the exact number of movies I saw but it was a good deal), I read 11 books, wrote (or came up with something hardly intelligible) on this blog and had an incredible, unbelievable year as a Rafa fan! Everything has a dark side to it, Twenty-seventeen’s dark side had gruelling lessons for me. Well, everything is fine with gulab jamuns no! And and and one of the highlights of the year, my annoying neighbor moved to America (to meet his American doppelganger Trump. Nah, just kidding, his son needs someone to babysit his newborn but that doesn’t make the former irrelevant) and only God knows when he will return to counsel all the kids in the neighborhood with his half-baked ideas and funny idiosyncrasies. Oh shucks! Now he will give anecdotes from his American trip which I am sure is as nutty as his half-baked ideas. Rantings and speculations aside, I had pleasant occasional weekends at home this year; kudos to the neighbour’s grandson who needed to be babysat.

Highlighting some stuff that definitely brightened up my Twenty-seventeen:

1) Humans of New York: The Series (click on this if you’re planning on watching it and don’t worry, it opens up in a new tab)

HONY Series are manifestly beautiful, the I am not crying, my eyes are just sweating kind of beautiful. The cinematography, the painstaking rawness of humans and ingredients such as candour and reality of what life really is makes the video series so awe-inspiring. I kid you not, I’ve seen each episode (consists of 15-19 minutes) at least three times. Please watch it. I’ll say it over and over. I’ll do ctrl c + ctrl v. Please watch it Please watch it Please watch it Please watch it. It will change you as a person and the way you perceive a person. It changed me. In fact, it does more than just changing you.

 

2) Rafa Nadal.

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Should I say more?

 

3) Final Year of my Under Graduation (another semester left but stilllllll!!)

It does not feel like that at all! Oh god, I know I was supposed to be more responsible, sleep less than the 14/24 I am doing now and actually do productive stuff. The thing with me is, I don’t how many of you can relate, but say I have around 80 pages of reading to do for the exam in say twelve hours, I get past four pages (not kidding) and I am overwhelmed by this feeling of comfort that I’d be able to cook up any answer with the four-page knowledge. So I fire up my laptop, pick a movie I’ve seen a million times and watch it again. At the morning of the exam, I rummage my suitcases and another set of bags for the bunched up photos of deities that my mother neatly put in a plastic Macy’s bag (God’s don’t deserve Nilgris bags ya. Only Target, Walmart or Macy’s in this case according to mother). After frantically searching, I find Macy’s eventually every time and pray fervently. From next exam onwards I will study properly. Please (do ctrl c + ctrl v 10 times) help me just this time, God. Pls. So apart from desperate moments like this, Twenty-seventeen was just fine.

 

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Dodging walking away from responsibilities like

 

Actually, lots of stuff made this year better like Eminem’s Revival, good movies such as Dunkirk, Lady Bird, shows that lightens you up; Master of None (for one) and more drolleries like the Indian Politics. Many acquaintances were made, I met a very close friend of mine after 3 years and 300 plans, a childhood friend/almost neighbour after around 8 years and this year had a melancholic side to it too, I lost two of my uncles; one to cancer and another to a cardiac arrest. Greener grass on one side means a darker patch on the other right? But looking on the bright side globally, women came out, spoke up, and took what is rightfully ours that is dignity and respect. Now people are kinder, more caring and considerate. We Millennials (or 90s kids) might not be a romantic at heart (yes, we’ve divested your art of letter writing, there are no more flowers or men don’t take ages to ask out a girl) but at least eighteen-year-olds don’t get married anymore, there are more graduates than ever, people help, judge less, overlook differences and we embrace. We love without conditions, without rules. Yes, we pick dogs and pizza over people but we have the right reasons for it. So here’s to 2017, a year of possibilities.

*mic drop*

And for 2018, I have a quote to start with:

“Hope
Smiles from the threshold of the year to come,
Whispering ‘it will be happier’…”
― Alfred Tennyson

 

56

[This was written for a descriptive writing contest.]

Cars sped at sixty kilometers per hour, two-wheelers whizzed past; driven by people always in a hurry, cyclists rode by with huge baggage tied to their carrier with a rope of coir, dense trees in a shade of deep olive green passed by in blackish-green streaks, people were bustling here and there doing this and that, ladies inspected good vegetables for an insect bite or a squelched dent on the potatoes and tomatoes and broke off the pointy tips of the ladies-fingers in the prospect of bargaining the vegetable prices from the vendor, slouched school children stood in the neatly pressed uniforms (it was a Monday after all) overstretching their overweight school bags’ straps waiting for their bus, waiting like the words of a pen.

My forehead rattled against the iron bars of the no. 56 bus to Siruvani. I’d been on this bus numerous times, mostly overstretching my overweight school bags’ straps clinging on to the steel rails with their steel smells until someone got off the overcrowded bus. And then I’d sit on the newly vacant seat and doze off on the overweight school bag, shored up on my lap. Later I’d take the same bus, during weekends, when I came home on two-day holidays. I’d get on it, on the dot of daybreak, buy the eleven rupee ticket (where the one rupee change is a must) and again doze off, like an unsung ritual with a longitudinal cheap translucent paper strip of pale blue: 11 rupees and a list of all the bus-stops written below the fare in Tamil, clenched in my palms which would be wet by sweat by the time I got off at my stop.

Traveling on a bus is a no biggie, at least the buses that took my route. They weren’t jam-packed, even if they were; they were during rush-hours, when people got off work and when children got off school. Mornings were different; I was returning from my grandparents’ place and took the 10am bus. Usually buses are super-free in the morning after the school kids are put away behind the school gates and working-people are put away behind their office gates, maximum of five or six passengers would be there, apart from the driver and the conductor with an unknown song playing in the quondam stereo over which the passengers spoke loudly, topics pertaining to politics, vegetable rates, household matters with a perpetual expression of shock and faux involvement. Sometimes the conductor would join in the conversation, leaning on steel rails with his brown, coin-bag slung across his torso and responding to the conversation in stochastic bursts of derisive laughter.

Coimbatore has a cordial weather, even when the sun scorched, it never parched. It felt good instead, like the vacuum band of warmth between the surface of a woollen sweater and the skin during a winter night. The heat never bothered anyone; it was just there like a ball of cotton in the sky, giving enough sunlight for photosynthesis, for clothes to dry and for red chillies on the terrace to sear. The slender outline of the hills with Kerala on its other-side traveled along 56, to the left and the hills we went towards, Velingiri, with its set of seven breathtaking hills covered with sacred ash, thirunur and the Siruvani with its sweet, crystal water on the foothills laid out in front of us, 56 took us closer to it, with every meter its diesel covered.

The panorama commuted from loud dynamics of crowded bus-stops with saree clad women buying fresh fish, men dressed in baniyans and lungis unloading cartons and gunny bags from mini-tempos and Matadors, trudging to the provision stores, a Race Course filled with people desperate to lose weight, a Town Hall filled with businessmen who took  frequent tea breaks with a bajji or a bonda or both. More people got off on their stops, lesser people got on the bus. When the bus, stopped at Perur Patteeswarar temple, some in the bus folded their hands, bent down the necks, tapped their palms partially on both sides of their cheeks as an act of redemption, a habit that took 30 seconds. The urban constituents of concrete, people and chaos thinned out after Perur.

Plantain plantations covered one side of the road, the other side was filled with corn crops and an Aavin milk factory. Occasionally a stretch of tall coconut trees would appear, perched on laterite accompanied by the coconut-farm owner and his affluent mansion, an Audi or a Skoda parked right behind the closed, beautifully contrived gates. A ten to fifteen-minute drive down this idyllic route will get you to my humble abode. 56 carried the gossipmongers who spoke loudly over the unknown Tamil songs, coconut-farm moguls and grandchildren returning from their grandparents’ place. The coconut-farm moguls took out their Cars, bought out of coconut-money and sons’ earnings from America, only to crowded events such as weddings, to name one. Trivial matters such as going to Town did not call for the Car or the cost of diesel that came with it. They counted in coconuts. If they had spent thousand rupees on filling the car fuel-tank, they would account it as fifty coconuts. Why spend fifty coconuts on going to Town in a Car when you can go and return at the cost of just on coconut by 56? I get off soon after the Perur temple, way before the whole stretch of coconut, palm (they come later on, as the weather gets cooler and close to the Seven Hills) farms come to an obscure end. 56 stops off at the small (but enough) bus stand. After a ninety minute respite, they hark back from the coconut-farms to the ever engaged concrete domain. But the same dulcet weather remains same throughout, impartial.

 

 

boulevard of broken things

How did these small, colourful spokes get inside? I give the thing a shake. The bluish, soapy liquid moves here and there, flowing over the glossed, vivacious spokes that kind of resembles those seaweeds and algae you find in oceans. I place the two big, spread out air bubbles on the surface of what seems like faux Mediterranean corals. There are a few starfishes stuck to the bottom. I try to get the air bubbles laid on them now but the bigger coral deflects that from happening. The bubbles and the liquid jaunt aimlessly. How did these get inside? Didn’t the liquid splash when they were trying to make this thing? Why aren’t there any other fishes when there is a mini ocean in here? I try to look through the thing, squinting hard. The reflexion is blurred, like a mirage, swaying and trembling at the same time.  I want to know if those corals are real and if the liquid is as slimy and shiny as it appears. Argh, this is too much. I cannot resist this temptation. That’s precisely why it’s called temptation. Is the door locked? I check the thing again, it feels so cool against my own flushed palms, its surface is so damn smooth. I press it to my cheeks and close my eyes. I’ve had enough.

Curiosity killed the cat. In a parallel backdrop, curiosity made a girl break and smash every paperweight she saw. It is true, I guess – you break the things you love.step0001 (1)

Great Gig in the Sky

I have a thing for the sky. I have hundreds of photos of the sky on my phone, on the “family camera” (the camera that we use when we vacation, usually can be found slinging on dad’s neck) and on my laptop.

Dictionaries define it as the space above the earth that you see when you look up into the air but it’s a million times more than it. It has got magic to it, it has an aura of mystery, a touch of antiquity and it always looks like it knows more than anyone alive. The sky probably does. We all know; billions of years ago, earth was formed when a mottle of cosmic dust burst, it was super hot and when it tempered down oceans came into the scene and that was enough to form life and after other thousands of years later, humans evolved, we brought in pollution, literature, gulaab jamuns and so on. But but but, my point here is that since the cosmic cloud explosion, the sky was a witness. Who knows, the sky might what know was going on over the vast galactic through the million billion years before it too.

Just sayin.

The sky is more than the Crayola Cerulean Blue or the Timberwolf, it’s about the endless drama of its thunderbolts, eclipses, storms, sunsets, rainbows and meteors spoke of another endlessly active dimension, which had a dynamic life of its own. Ever wished upon shooting stars? I’ve got a fun fact for you. Some shooting stars are astronauts poop.

There was this great guy, great blond hair, he was a religion historian but he looked like a ruler, a rather fearsome one but this great guy; Rudolph Otto calls the sky  mysterium tremendum, terribile et fascinans [the terrible, fascinating, and fearsome mystery] without any imaginary deity behind it. Because back in the times of our great-great-great-great-great granddads contemplating the sky filled people with dread and delight, with awe and fear that they often thought Gods fell from the sky and two generations later (great-great-great granddads time), Gods started living in the clouds, in the sky. Ever wondered why school Annual day plays on any deity has this special equipment that gusts smoke on to the stage for the cloud effect? Yep.

So the next time you wish to be beguiled by wonder, or beauty or mystery or even better: all together, go for the sky. Night or day, it never disappoints you. And it’s always better with coffee.

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“If the stars should appear one night in a thousand years, how would men believe and adore; and preserve for many generations the remembrance of the city of God which had been shown! But every night come out these envoys of beauty, and light the universe with their admonishing smile.”
― Ralph Waldo Emerson

“In the sky, there are always answers and explanations for everything: every pain, every suffering, joy and confusion.”
― Ishmael Beah

“There is one spectacle grander than the sea, that is the sky; there is one spectacle grander than the sky, that is the interior of the soul.”
― Victor Hugo  (indeed!)

PS – the photo captions are my kinda watermarks, don’t mind them!

Ants, Ranting and a Poem

What I said was wrong, mom.

Every time I said I wanted to leave home

I was wrong.

Hostel sucks.

My room is such a mess

I’d have to fuss

About it

But I just don’t care because

It would never be like mine back home

There are ants every where

In my jar of sugar, they’re about to get into the coffee

How do I make them go away?

I’ve drawn Lakshman Rekha in rangoli patterns

On the shelves, on my trolleys, suitcases,

Cartons and big-shoppers, even books

I’ve sprinkled some powder that the security gave

“The ants will be gone in a day” he said

Nothing went, but followed in a fit of sneezes

And a headache

How come our kitchen never had these many ants, mom?

Would you let me in on your anti-ant secret?

I wipe, sweep (okay, once in a while) and dust

But the moment I turn the other way

To wipe the sweat off my forehead

The dirt

The pile of ugly, entangled hair comes

Rollin’ in like they were never tossed in,

In to the dustbin

Even the dustbin is never clean, mom.

I leave the dishes untouched for weeks

At least until the next time

I scrape up a barely edible bowl

Of noodles or corn flakes

Or a cup of coffee

But until then the rims of the cutlery

Turn dry and impossible to wash

What do you then, mom?

I have an idea.

Write me a book, a novella

On how to maintain a room,

Beat up a cockroach when it turns up at the middle of the night

When I’m trying to cram Phillips’ Curve,

What should I do when the uncooked noodles

Gives me a stomach ache,

How to keep the swept dust from making a run,

Fold clothes in a way that they look pressed

Or accurately ration my washing powder

I think I reek of soap nowadays

And, mom, how do I stop missing home?

It would save us a lot of phone calls too

Wouldn’t it?

Memories Not So Memorable

I am unemployed now. By ‘unemployed’ I mean that I have a tremendous load of work to do yet I just sit awkwardly in front of the TV with one leg hanging from the arm rest of the seat and another leg pulled up to my chest and with a bowl of collation (chocolates and crisps) next to me. I’m getting endomorphic rather very comfortably. So today my mom asked me to dust all the dusty photo albums from ages back. Some albums feature very appreciable memories while some albums are totally forgettable but they keep stalking me.

Like the one photo where, I’m around 12 years old and I’m propped in the gap between two diverging branches of a gigantic tree and I’m picking my nose!  At the root of the tree everyone – mom, brother, cousins, grandparents – are sitting looking at me above them. And dad took the photo. Most of the photos of mine are gawky and very inconvenient. I was just very natural and the naturalism was inept.

I am not photogenic. As in, when someone says “let me take a photo of you. Now, smile.” I just cannot smile by order. My forced smile hangs somewhere in between a dead serious face and a mourning face. I could scan and post a photo from the past for accuracy but I’d be embarrassing myself. You should take the photo without any “1, 2, 3” or “say cheese” and then maybe I’ll look pleasing in the photo.

But arbitrary shots of mine are equally uncanny as the forced-smiles ones. There is this photo that my mom took a couple of years ago at Taj, Mumbai. I’m eating a cookie. Well, I’m about to. My mouth is open, eyes wide looking ravenously at the cooking on-the-way-to-my-mouth and around 20 teeth are visible. I resemble a savage beast. I get paranoid when I see a camera around me.

Even in the family photo on the top of our refrigerator I look like an army officer with a lemon stuffed in the mouth and others are cute as Barbie. In an other one, during dinner at home, everyone are having two-three dosas on their plate with chutney but I have many dosas stacked with red chutney, sauce, jam, podi and sambhar and all are looking at the camera but I’m tearing the dosa whilst looking at my grandpa’s plate next to me. *cringes*

I’ve categorized my photo album into two different sorts : People like Me and the People on Tumblr (everyone other then me in my family). People like Me – we tend to blend in to the scene but we do the absolute opposite. “The weirdo”. But my Facebook/Twitter/Instgram photos are okay, I guess because they are posted after taking around 200 selfies and torturing siblings to take some more using primary camera as it is better than the front one. Then, filtering 50 good selfies out of 200 and then editing – adding frames, bubbles, light drops and so on. After this tiringly expansive process comes posting of the photo which I don’t post. Lately, I’ve become exclusive! Ha ha.

The next type – Tumblr type – they look so Photoshoped. Clear skin. Black clothes, matte finished nail paints, Cadillacs and Porsches, long legs, designer brands, Starbucks and USA. So fake. (The different ways to solace oneself.) Comparing to my family – gold, unfazed makeup, sweet smile and very Indian.

I haven’t yet completed cleaning all the albums because I was just wondering how my brother got all his 2-year old photos perfect. My 2-year old photos are clumsily gauche. I have something or the other spilled all over me or I’m frantically dancing or singing. And you’ll see the mere four teeth (2 up 2 down) wide in a smile in all the photos. Happy child. Awkward or not, at least, I was not-self – conscious and narcissistic when I was a small kid. Children nowadays. DID I JUST TALK LIKE MY GRANDMA? no way. Anyway I have a lot of albums to take in and dust them and stash them in the bag. Since, I stopped midway to type out a blog post, my mom is going to be furious.

Toots!

Present Tense and it’s Side Effects

Watching time pass by is poignantly fun. It’s like watching your weight gain yet you just keep eating that cake because it’s luscious (it’s an issue of self-control too but let’s put that one aside). I feel like Kristen Stewart from New Moon movie. I’m always propped on the couch next to my bedroom window listening to Kodaline and Snow Patrol and 21 Pilots. The seasons change, the suns goes and comes, the moon crumbles like a biscuit but owing to it’s to definite mortality it regains, sometimes it rains like the skies have missed their weeping and sometimes the sunshine is blinding, the trees stay where they are through the storm and through the drought and I am as always snuggled away in the couch next to my bedroom window watching the world go by.

“The best thing about time passing is the privilege of running out of it, of watching the wave of mortality break over me and everyone I know.”

–   Sarah Manguso

The fact that while I spend my time exploring into the minute features of beautiful creatures outside my window and profound significance of ballads is that there are a legion of teenagers of my own age accomplishing the unaccomplishable and creating a mark or a proof of their existence on Earth is beyond excrutiation. It is a bitter-sweet torture that evolves from the core of my heart and it tugs the veins so hard. Like ouch. The situation turns into something of self-guilt. I turn on the TV and Matt Bomer is helping the FBI solve a case. The naked truth stands bare – Matt Bomer is earning at my expense. Yet, I cannot tear my eyes off the television set. Matt Bomer is hawt.

Plus, my friends are paving their way towards the future. But in my case it’s different, Time is reluctantly crusading me towards the future. I have no clue about what I will be doing in future. Probably, fate will take care of it, as always. Anyways, my parents like any other parents think of ‘being clueless’ as a crime. Like death sentence crime. When I was 7 years old I had no idea that I’d be typing away random stuff on my laptop now or a couple of months ago I thought I’d be spending my vacation productively like reading Russian literature and Classics but I’m re-reading the Harry Potter series for the thousandth time. Kismet. Fate and Time will tell.

There is this line in “Car Radio” by 21 Pilots that goes like this – I ponder of something great, My lungs will fill and then deflate. Exactly. A sudden surge of possibilities and fame hits me hard out of the blue that makes me think “What have you been doing all these days staring out the window and staring at the Tell~lie~vision?” Get up. Be up and doing something. A big syringe of motivation liquid is thrust upon my lungs. But the effect doesn’t last long. My lungs will fill and then deflate. Poof. Came out of nowhere and returns to the same. The present has me at a disadvantage – I know the past and am uselessly worried about the future. Past is a good place to visit but a bad place to stay, says the Internet. Future is full of surprises, some are rotten eggs and some are gift wrapped presents pinned by a bow along with a bouquet of roses. But at one point, future becomes present and present becomes past and; You will perish. No matter if you stare out of your windows all your life or if you become someone great coated with fame, you will perish. Does that mean living is a side-effect of dying?

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Tamil Weddings Be Like

Tamil weddings has it’s own charms and it’s own dulls. Don’t worry I am not going to bore you with even more details. Just enjoy.

         1) Getting ready to the wedding like

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2) Reaches the wedding and looks at the other people and you feel like someone in white cloth because others be like

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3) All the relatives pulling your cheeks and saying “I saw you when you were this small, so big you are now.”

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4) The “let’s meet the ponnu-maapillai” on the stage. Then big fight of withdrawals on who will be giving the gift. Everybody shoving the gift into your hands and you’re like :

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5) Smile for the cameras!

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Ooops. Did I scare the photographers?

6) Then comes food – which is sooooo good – especially gulab jamun!

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6) Out of the blue, through the corner of your eyes you see your dad slide a gulab-jamun to sibling’s banana leaf without giving you one. Daddy, noooooooooooo.

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7) After stomach full you are forced to meet relatives you don’t want to see but they are always lurking around and they will get you.

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8) And then it turns to a Family Meeting :

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9) Suddenly you see a very good looking boy and excuse yourself for another ice-cream but actually

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hey, boy. camon let’s look at each other.

10) Tiptoes back to your parents and try casual talk “Wow. This wedding is so grand. Look at the flower decorations that side – very beautiful. Oh, amma, who are those people sitting there? Namma relatives ah? (points to that boy’s family)! And amma replies, “O avangala. They are our family only. But distant relatives.” Amma does some relation-calculation. “That aunty is your periamma.” That means … that boy is my Anna.

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11) Plus, everybody at the Family round table conference are talking about achievements of all your cousins and you’re there like

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12) Thank God, dad say’s ‘Let’s go’. And throughout the ride to home you just sit in the car beaten and soul-sapped and full of ice creams.

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The time I was on a TV show

I was 14 years old. You could say that I looked a bit more pleasable in the past than of now. Anyway, my mom’s work enables her to be in touch with all sorts of media related things and she happened to hear that some producers were producing children-involved TV Show at Coimbatore. Usually, most of the shows are produced in Chennai. Since, this was an exceptional case, my mom sent in my name with the only pretty photo of mine to the show director. Later, we got a call that I got in.

I started experiencing detailed fantasies of how my life would be after the TV Show. I fancied delusions of red-carpets, interviews, makeup rooms with huge bulbs along the frame of the mirror, award ceremonies (especially Oscars!) and how people whom I hate so fervently would beseech and scrounge for an autograph. How rich I would be! I’d have uncountable dresses. Yaaaaaaay! But the TV Channel was Doordarshan and not even my Grandma watches it. And hey, I got paid more than any private channel would offer.

The filming of that show was so long that Bollywood movies seemed short. They arranged all the kids, about 20 of us, according to our names and guess what? J was the last alphabet and I was itching to get beautiful after the magical strokes of the beauticians brushes and sponges. I waited for around half a day (9:00 am to 1:00 pm) sitting in the Waiting Room and drinking water and eating the lunch my mom packed and napping from time to time. One particular boy took about 1 hour get his face acceptable because he kept licking the strawberry flavoured lip gloss and kept rubbing off the foundation. What do boys learn in school?

That boy got on my nerves. Then, finally, they called my name and that make-up lady put some foundation, this and that and some orange lipstick. Orange? She said that since I was wearing blue shirt and orange shorts, orange lipstick would attract the camera. Okay whatever, make-up lady. I looked at myself in the mirror. What? I looked like those people who ride ridiculous cycle with one-wheel at circuses. Make-up lady put blue eye shadows. Is that because I wore blue shorts? I was on the verge of tears and asked my mom, “Ma, what if someone sees the TV?” So my mom replied, “No one will watch Doordarshan. Now go.”

For the first time I felt better after the mirror encounter because the other kids were beyond peculiar. It was hell of a circus. The show was about kids. Well, yeah. You have a sinewy/pokes you for fun/top-notch host and 20 others kids who are obviously dragged out of the Jumbo Circus, VOC Ground, Coimbatore if it weren’t for our parents here. Our ring-master (since the post has gotten circus themed) or the game conductor was a guy from Chennai and his job is to make fun and crack lame jokes at us while we in Level 1 – blow balloons and hold them between our fingers where the person who has blown the highest number of balloons wins and Level 2 – throw the small plastic balls into similarly small paper cups facing us. Mokka.

Facing us was whopping crowd, family members of all the kids. One particular family through out the TV show was shouting comments and orders to their ostentatious girl while she was gusting balloons. The show director had to beg the family for temporary quiescence. They re-did her shot and she blew more balloons than before. Cheating. The guy who held the games (who had to make fun of us) made too much fun of one boy and that boy broke to tears which turned to weeping and eventually he was wailing. Again, everybody went to the camera alphabetically and I was the last. Whatchamacallit.

My turn came at last. The blasphemy. Probably, that guy got well oiled, he was jesting exceptionally well. But why me? There were 19 kids before me and I was the only one who specifically got poked. Therefore, I lost with a naught. After the filming (ahem) they told us the date on which they would telecast it. I knew that I wouldn’t be watching the only time I was ever on TV because 1) I was shy and a bantam embarrassed, 2) there was a stubbornly unyielding gloominess that I didn’t even get one balloon fully blown or a plastic ball inside the cup and 3) I looked preposterously psychedelic.

Alas when the day came, my mom regrettably invited all our laid-off relatives (as they had time for the most unamusing TV show). I just hid in the bathroom throughout the hour. I can say that I never know how I look on the TV. But I am glad as I don’t want myself haunting my own dreams. The next day at school during the lunch interval, a couple of Class 2  students(I think, they were very kutty kutty so) came up to me and said, “Didi, I saw you on TV on Sunday. You looked like a butterfly.” It felt like I was on top of the world because all my family/relatives were just keen on consoling me for not winning or whatever and congratulated for being on TV then. But two Second grade kids made me feel extraordinary. Extraordinary like those feelings when you get goosebumps whilst the violin reaches soprano high and you’re filled with iridescent stars that are about to burst.

It felt beyond excellent.