personal

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 :

cooking

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.

Bad News

My 6-year old laptop finally stops functioning after a two year battle. It had to fight for life because I occasionally showed my rage and frustration on it (by harsh flings) which led to the detachment of the keyboard/mouse part from the main screen and they connected on through a thing string of wire which should be positioned in a particular stance. I went through that for two years. I could’ve got a new one the year I threw it but the day before the repair I got an iPod touch. So, guilty conscience.

Anyway, a new one comes probably next week/later. Who knows?  Till then, I am stuck with the Personal Computer (arrgh) under the stairs. Well, something is better than nothing. Oh dear, I miss my laptop. There were just so many unimportant things in it, all my favorite movies and e-books and stuff. It’s okay.

Because Pain demands to be felt.

Haircuts and Horrors

I’ve wanted that Audrey Hepburn’s hair from Roman Holiday for ages. I saw the Roman Holiday movie when I was in Class 8 on Zee Cafe. That same night I asked my mom if could cut my hair short. She said, “No way. Your hair is growing fine just now without dandruff,  and all the other hair problems they tell in shampoo commercials. No, you will not cut your hair.” I had to agree with mom. What else could I do? I asked mom next year again. She disagreed. I wore double plaits to school and ponytails everywhere else. No hairstyle adhu-idhu while studying at school is our family rule. Because apparently my dad found hairstyles and fashion as a distraction from studies.Hence, that rule.

My school hair was very amusing and comical. Once I had a streak of hair hanging on the side of my face. It hung down till my right cheek and I pushed it behind my right ear always. That streak grew very vertical but my mom couldn’t fit it in my plaits so it looked very awkward, very long and very me. Then in Class 9 (which I clearly remember) during SA2 exams I was infuriated with myself for not studying. When I’m hot-temepered and out of control, I do things that I myself am not aware of. That week, I don’t what got into my senses, I pulled down a layer of hair on my forehead and cut it. I think I wanted it to look like fringes/bangs but it looked like a group of ragged, uneven hairs that hung till the middle of my forehead. It was pathetic.

I was doing this early in the morning – 6:30 am and in an hour I had my Social Science exam. I took the rippled strands of hair together and pinned them with a pink heart hairpin. Those hairs stood up in the middle of my head as if they were electrocuted. During breakfast, my mom knew something was eerily wrong with my face. She found out. As I left for school she said, “school vittu veetukku vaa. Irukku unnaku.” Crap. That dialogue is something you never want to hear in your whole life. It means – “Come home after school. You’re going to get it from me.”

However, at school, everyone found out after some close-up shots of me. At first, my friends thought I was studying so hard that I didn’t comb my hair but only later they understood that I actually cut my hair because I didn’t study. They even nicknamed me Antenna Nadal. Later at home, I got a good deal of scoldings from mom on how ill-fated it is to cut hair on Mondays! I had that weird-never-seen-before hair till half of Class 10. Then my hair was decent for some days.  I have a “never give up” attitude on everything other than academics. So I took up my hair cutting skills to my own head. I cut two layers of hair on each side of my face like… our former President Abdul Kalaam. It was terrifying. Oh no, don’t get it wrong. It suits Mr. Kalaam but it didn’t suit me. Again, I cut my hair on a Monday and mom caught me red-handed.

Mom : “How much times do I have tell you? DO NOT CUT YOUR HAIR ON MONDAY. Why do you even cut hair on your own? One more time you touch your hair, you see what happens. You never listen to me, do you? Just like your dad.”

Finally, Final exams got over and school ended. Then, I had the freedom to have my hair cut in whatever way I wanted. So I just informed my parents that I would be going to have my hair cut. My dad dropped us – me and my mom at the salon. After we reached the parlor, I told my mom, “I want short hair like Audrey Hepburn from Roman Holiday.” Mom said that I could do whatever I want. That dialogue actually went like “Do whatever you want” which discreetly refers to as I Don’t Care It’s Your Hair Your Face. ultimately after years of pining for that pixie crop, after some zips and snips by the scissors, after woefully looking at the chopped off hair next to my ankles, after clandestinely looking now and then at myself on the panoramic mirror facing me, after the lady who cut my hair asked millions times “do you really want to cut it that short ma?” – I got that Roman Holiday cut! I felt victorious and successful. It’s just a haircut after all but I yearned and ached for that hair for years and now my head feels so light!

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Audrey Hepburn from Roman Holiday

 

My mom looked aghast. But she got conversant with my new face after staring at me awkwardly throughout the ride from the parlor to home. Later she said, “It actually looks good.” Hallelujah! But grandmas are ever-contrasting. When my grandma saw my hair she really clutched her bosom and appeared appalled. Please say my hair looks good. Please. Please. Because I can’t go on with someone at my back saying how I should’ve retained that long beautiful hair. I just kept looking back at my grandma. Then she spoke, breaking the spell of silence, “You look very beautiful. Looking just like me when I was your age.”

WHAT?

I wanted to look like Audrey Hepburn from Roman Holiday!