Bunch of tuesdays strung together

I woke up this morning all happy at the thought of being able to sit at my desk all day and read. It’s the exam season so I have nonsense invigilation dooty. Today and tomorrow however I am free. Smile. I like planning these free days with full energy. Nothing happens after that though. So I got here at 9:30, didn’t make coffee and started work on my blog. Redesigned and added a few more pages. I am happy with how it looks for now. Then I made my Bucket List and read it out to Mini.

Some things on my list are blah. Most of them I’ll never do but I want to. One or two I badly want to do but I don’t know how I can do it. Like getting pregnant for day and becoming somebody’s wife for a day. Who will want to marry me for a day ya?

Thoo.

Why isn’t PhD on my list? If my research life had a face, it would look like the receptionist at Hotel Decent in Jab We Met; hopeful, funny and grinning. What is this green bag shit anyway? I should call my blog I am sorry. While I am typing this away, 2 of my acquaintances are traveling all by themselves in Barcelona and Paris. Not acquaintances actually, just people I sort of stalk on FB. Don’t mind this post. I suddenly remembered my 500 day challenge and decided to write something. I have no idea why I am still writing. It’s a warm day, very regular and all. C.A is sitting in front of me looking marveled at his new landscapes picture book. Every 5 minutes he looks up at me and says ‘Phew! Look at this!’ And I look.

Valuation begins tomorrow so that means I now have 15 days of excuse to not write. Meh.

My reading list is already looking mad at me. Let’s see how this one goes.

Sundays

I like Sundays. I like walking into a familiar space at home and realising that I have never seen it before.  I like not having to hurry up stuff because I don’t have to be anywhere. I like moving furniture around just to see if it will look as good as it did in my head. I like the rare quietness that the home offers to me on Sunday afternoons. I like Sunday afternoons. They seem like dramatic twilights before my life begins the next day. Today I noticed that the doorbell buzzer is right above the showcase. I have lived here 5 years and I had no idea where the door bell buzzer was. I went up to my terrace today to find that all the plastic chairs have withered and died. The plants looked sprightly and the table looked dusty. I like dust because then I have something to clean. I like watching the sunlight stealing into the room’s warmth. Today it picked all of my big books, ones that I have not read and don’t plan to. It threw out a brilliant dash of color on the ceiling as it touched all of my books. Sometimes, when I feel like I may never see this again, I take a picture.

 I don’t like having early baths on Sundays. I like saving it for the end of the day, unlike the other days when I’m madly obsessive about not stepping out of the house without having bath. The bathing time on Sunday is all mine. I get to pick happy thoughts to think about while I shower. I have time to look at the yellow on ceiling tiles. I have time to smile at the broken switch that I usually curse on other mornings. Mental note: need to get the switch fixed. It’s not long before I realise that I have tons of things to do so I make a list. Pointless, but important because lists made in the bathroom are always life altering. If I stuck to every vow made to myself in the bathroom, had the balls to go back to my past to tell mean people exactly what I think about them; sticking word by word to my award winning  speech rehearsed in the bathroom, I would be the same person, only happier. Maybe even be able to write better.

Sometimes I think I like myself better only when I’m having bath. Because I make sexy plans and am so much cooler when I am in the bathroom than when I step out into the real world with leaves and everything. When I do step out, I like settling down on the sofa and watching nonsense on the television. I like putting my feet up on the table and watching TV. I don’t like sharing this space with anybody.  Every now and then I like to look out of the window to see leaves falling. I don’t know what this tree is called. It is huge and has pink flowers. I have seen it every day of my life for the past 5 years, except when I am not in town. I must find out what it’s called. Why am I so used to seeing these things every day? Where do my weekdays go? What do I think of when I’m looking at this tree on other days?

Madness I tell you…

She was always doing two things at once. Like this morning for instance when she was brushing and trying to locate her mobile charger. Quite often she would realise how much of her life she took for granted and soon after she realised she would start making lists about what else she could do to enjoy more.

She liked the hurry burry that each morning promised, it made her feel important, like she was getting dressed to get to some place important and therefore on time. She took her job rather seriously and the time she spent getting ready for the job even more seriously. It disheartened her to see that nobody saw how much effort was going in to get ready for her job. My aunts whispered to each other about the danger that is to allow young women like her to work. ‘She’s 30 and still unwed. We don’t want another Vineethakka in our home’, they would say.

Unwed women in our family like many others’ are used as a tale of caution to educate young girls about the importance of getting married and how miserable it is to stay alone. I have never met Vineethakka. Never even seen her actually but she’s a well known name in our house and the houses of my girl cousins. I was 12 when I first heard about Vineethakka. My mother and my aunts were deciding my future and told me that I was getting married at 20. I blushed because back then I liked marriage but didn’t want to seem too keen so I said that it was too early. My aunt said that vineethakka still blames them for not forcing her into marriage.

I sometimes wonder if Vineethakka is ever as miserable as she is made out to be. It is crazy how everybody started out to make a lesson out of her but she proved to be more of an inspiration to my sisters and me. I can still only make my decision about her after I meet her. What if she is actually miserable? If in case she is not then what language, what form of sane communication can I use to tell them that marriage could just be an option?

My family is full of crazy women. Their peculiarity is super amusing to me. Take my aunt for instance who starts beating her chest wildly if I miss a step while getting down the damn staircase or my mother who seems perfectly normal when she isn’t around her sisters but grows a whole family of hormones when she is around them. My fears have ranged from not wanting to become like them and to the growing possibility of becoming like them and finding it normal.

 

 

 

Of Fights and Families…

My mother and I talk only when we fight, and during commercial breaks between TV shows that we watch together very rarely. So during one of our latest verbal fits, she said something that made me think. When I fight my mouth begins an affair with my opponent’s mouth and has a life of its own and so the fact that my mother said something to me during a fight that made me stop and think is extraordinary to me. So last evening when I was trying to escape my mother’s madness, I told her that I was going to run away from her and the home. Normally when I say this, because I have said it so often and not had had the bloody gall to actually do it, my mother breaks into a fit of sobs and an even bigger fit of emotional blackmail diarrhea. After this, there’s not much left to do except shut up and watch her weep.

So just when I was preparing to do that she said that she could run away too, you know? I keep saying I will run away because I have the option to say or do that but she doesn’t have the option so she cannot even say it. It was at this point that I started feeling bad for her and I hate feeling bad for people I’m having life altering fights with.

I have always wondered what the right way is, to ease my folks into my life’s biggest tragedy, which is that I hate family and marriage and probably may never want either of those things. I haven’t mustered courage yet to tell them that. I am convinced that they will do everything within their power and the government’s to stop me from not wanting marriage or kids. And now this is my big problem, should I feed into the emotional drama back home or join in and do the same with my kids and theirs’? I’m saying this because whenever I picture myself giving in and doing just what my family expects me to, I always picture myself giving in fully; like full on sari wearing, child- strangling, husband well wishing mother of 2 who has quit her profession as a teacher and is now a stay at home feminist. This is a super scary picture, but one that is beginning to look more real with time.

This is like an old family photograph that has torn edges and is yellow but looks cheerful. One that children from another generation find and have questions to ask about. I hate this picture. The fact that it is not real is not the problem at all. I just hate it because I don’t know what else to do with this thing that isn’t real but powerful. Time and again, when I become weak and appear to be giving in to the “hamara sukhi parivaar” idea, that picture mocks me and I come flying back to rebellion.

 

Unfinished

I seem to have accumulated this horrible habit of not finishing what I start. Three of my attempts at short stories are hidden away in some lame ass corner of this Net book. My half finished copy of Tibor Fischer lies on the shelf at work and so do PDF’s of Pnin and who killed palomino Molero? Apart from feeling continued disgust with myself, I cannot produce much reaction to rectify this habit. I can think of a 100 other things I should be doing right about now, like getting to the ignored bundle of papers sitting on my table waiting to be valued or finally finishing writing the damn report for a research project I am now wondering how and why I said yes to. Now that I think of it, when I am not doing either of those things or worrying about why I am not doing either of those things, I watch Gilmore Girls. Maybe I should stop watching the damn show after all! It has been way too long. I can look for inspiration elsewhere, like in finally being able to meet with deadlines and being able to write every day. 

Barely anything

Sometimes my desires scare me. I have never really been scared of silence but I am afraid of the fear of silence. I am scared about not wanting space, freedom and choices. I am scared of regret, of guilt, of screwing up. Most of all, I fear wanting to go back. I haven’t gone there yet. Because I am scared of wanting to come back. I am scared of not knowing myself enough to leave home and live alone. What if I hate my own prolonged company? What if I start craving for the company of others’? What if I cannot deal with the silence in my home? What if I start craving for familiar noise? The TV, footsteps on the stairs, the sound of the gates being opened and closed, the doorbell, the smell, the warmth, the cold, the things I never noticed before- walls, the color of my bathroom window, the dust on the ceiling, the carvings on the door, the Sunday morning dosas, the quiet evenings of days I stay back home, the desire to leave home and run?

 

Republic of Noodles

So while invigilating this morning on a stomach that had last seen or heard of food some 14 hours ago, I did the dumbest thing. I thought about the food I had had last week at Republic of Noodles. Put simply, Republic of noodles is the best restaurant in the history of the world. On a bad day, I think of the food I had there and make myself more miserable. I can now only make vague attempts at recalling the taste and try to produce it in writing, thereby scarring forever, my memory of the food that I had there.

So I went there on a warmish Tuesday afternoon. I had only just had a pleasant day but I am convinced that if I had had a terrible day and was waiting to die, the food at republic of noodles would have saved the day and me.

I am bad at ordering. I want all the things on the menu, even though my appetite sucks. I can’t choose what I want because if I order one, I keep dreaming about the other. Over the last few months I have been thinking about the tedious process that is ordering; having said that, it also requires practiced skill to be able to order like a champ. It seems like ordering food off the menu is just as serious business as eating. All of this could very well be pompous bullshit coming from some Victorian person’s ass but it makes sense to me now because I have only just begun to enjoy eating.

I started with the Roast Duck soup with pickled lime. Funny thing about restaurants like these is the suffix- like thingies that are added after the main item. Roast Duck soup with pickled lime. I mean all the while I was waiting for the food to arrive I had only imagined the roast duck; I hadn’t quite registered the pickled lime yet. I mean who thinks about lime in that way?

So the soup arrives in this ceramic black bowl and I can smell the meat struggling to waft through the thickness that I assumed was the soup. The soup was not thick though. It was thin and watery. Although I have my doubts about thin and watery soups, my first sip permanently changed my conception about the thick and thin nonsense. It was meaty and just that. While the meat itself was very soft, the soup was consistently getting sharper in taste. I think it was because I was beginning to taste the tiny strips of pickled lime. I got conned. I thought the pickled lime was just some flavour that may not even be physically present in the soup. I was so wrong. Just as I was finishing the soup, the lime bits became more and more playful. They were doing something to the texture of the soup.

Soon after I emerged from the duck soup, I saw a bunch of banana leaves being escorted to the table. The waiter put one on my plate and vanished. I looked at it with mild interest for sometime before unfolding the ‘Grilled fish in Banana leaves’. There were 5 pieces, each squarely cut.

I undressed my fish and looked. It promised me meat and because a faint trace of coconut was travelling around the vicinity, I took the promise very seriously. Turns out it was the best thing I had ever put in my mouth. The fish was perfectly cooked; the masala and the oil were sharp and allowed me many moments of oohing and aahing. I think I maybe partial to the fish because of its coconut friend. Even the orphaned slice of the sad looking tomato cheered me up because the coconut had befriended it too. I was only recovering from my food death when some interesting looking bamboo container was placed next to me. It had Jasmine rice in it to accompany my fish in coconut and tamarind gravy.

The Jasmine rice smelled great enough to fill my already bursting stomach and the curry looked inviting. At my first bite I died many times. I feel terrible about dying so many times and so badly at that but the curry simply felt like coconut goodness. I have never understood the expression food melting in the mouth until now. I think my mouth was favouring the coconut and the fish so much that it may have overshadowed the tamarind, bits of which I could only taste after I was full.

All of these earth-shattering orgasms were washed down with coconut milk and chestnut jelly for dessert, which I should write about at some point.

I have been to the republic of noodles twice now. The fish in banana leaves and in the coconut curry are taking too many liberties with my dreams even now. I am waiting to go there again and this time I am going to take lots of pictures and write again.

Tea

I was 14 when I took to drinking tea. Back then it was only ever made to accompany my special white maggi. My special white maggi was maggi noodles only partly cooked with no masala. Maybe because of this, I was the only person at home to ever eat it and enjoy it. I liked the wheaty uncooked maggi taste. I don’t think I can eat it anymore though. My pica disorder has found fulfillment in other tasty things like paint, slate chalk, mud, stones etc.

I have always loved tea though, even more than coffee or any other non alcoholic drink. On a bad day, drinking tea restores my faith in things getting even worse so I just shut up and drink it and let the bad things happen.

My experiments with making tea initially involved dumping 4 big spoons of tea powder into very little water with lots of sugar which made me walk around like a duck for the rest of the evening because of constipation. Over the years my tea making must have gotten considerably worse I am sure. I can’t actually say, thanks to the coming of the tea bags which made my life an absolute bliss. The tea bags were, I am convinced, discovered for me. I didn’t have to wrench my arms out in frustration anymore. No more dumping 4 spoons of tea. No more constipation.

The next big revelation was the kettle. I didn’t have to wait for the water to boil and pace restlessly and count the number of cracks on the walls of my kitchen anymore. Mug – sugar – tea bag – hot water. Done.

The next big big revelation was the automatic Kent hot water filter which has made me the lazy bum I am today.

I am not one of those “Need tea before starting day” people but I’m quiet addicted to the ginger tea at K’s and cannot go for over 2 days without having it. I have tried flavours ranging from the regular ginger-elaichi to orange-pomegranate. Now I stick with Elaichi like my life depends on it. I am comfortable with Elaichi-Ginger and have learnt not to be too hopeful in expecting similar comfort with pomegranate (I don’t know what I was thinking)

I am sometimes fond of the specialty Darjeeling – Assam Chai. All of these flavours I really enjoy only in black. The only milk tea I can digest is the one served at Ganesh right in front of my college. And some machine teas, like the ones they serve at K’s bakery.

I have no idea why I am writing about tea. It was a choice between tea and why I cry. So I had to pick tea. I came home a little exhausted and wanted to unwind before the week begins and everything but all I could find was some dabba slim tea and pomegranate tea and cinnamon and Aloe Vera. Who brings these flavours home? Need to find out.

When Vargas Llosa gave me orgasms.

                                       Some sections from ‘The notebooks of Don Rigoberto’ that gave me multiple orgasms.

“And ever since she was a girl, Dona Lucrecia had felt a fascination for standing on the edge of the cliff and looking down into the abyss, for keeping her balance on the railing at the side of the bridge”

So Rigoberto is going nutty after Lucrecia left so he has this whole different routine where he wakes up really early in the morning to read his old notes and books by his favourite authors. He is doing some such thing one morning and begins to miss Lucrecia terribly after reading this bit of Neruda.

“And to see you urinate, in the dark, at the back of the house, as if you were pouring out a slender, tremulous, silvery, obstinate stream of honey, I would give up, many times over, this choir of shades I possess and the clang of useless swords that echoes in my soul…” – Widower’s Tango, Neruda

“Without transition he caught a glimpse of Lucrecia sitting on the toilet, and listened to the merry splash of her pee in the bottom of the bowl that received it with tinkling gratitude”

If I ever go into coma or am dying or anything, just read these words to me and I shall come flying back to life, full of love and libido.

“Lucrecia also shat, and this, rather than degrading her, enhanced her in his eyes and nostrils”

I had often wondered if good literature includes descriptions of bodily functions – nose digging, bowel movements, passing urine, inserting buds into the ear, scratching body parts which shouldn’t even be acknowledged in public et al. And after Llosa I have happily arrived at the conclusion that that kind of literature is probably the only kind that I enjoy reading the most. I also felt really happy at the thought of marrying him, having his babies and having him write about all my bodily functions.

I had the best time reading the whole nose cleansing procedure in “In praise of the stepmother”

“The magnificent Lucrecia understood everything. Nothing in the tangled labyrinth of human desires shocked her”

And now for the section that taught me what words do and how they become stories. Big, I know but as I was reading this bit, I started to register some words that were used and noticed that if I removed them, the whole damn section would suck. I noticed adjectives and the words that follow the adjectives.  Here –

“The novel is constructed with deceptive simplicity, beneath which a dramatic context is depicted: the merciless struggle between reality and desire, those sisters who are bitter enemies separated by impassable distances except in the miraculous recesses of the human spirit”

I have no idea what shit is being talked about here. All I know is this passage taught me something. And something really valuable. In some sense, more than teaching me how to write, this passage taught me how to read words. I looked at all the adjectives and suddenly all writing seemed to make a whole different kind of sense to me.

“Pornography strips eroticism of its artistic content, favours the organic over the spiritual and mental, as if the central protagonists of desire and pleasure were phalluses and vulvas and these organs not mere servants to the phantoms that govern our souls, and segregates physical love from the rest of human experience”

Wait for it.

Pornographer, while for you the only thing that counts when you make love is the same thing that counts for a dog, a monkey, or a horse- that is, to ejaculate – Lucrecia and I, go on, envy us, also make love when we are having breakfast, dressing, talking with friends, and contemplating the clouds or the sea”

I rest my fucking case.

Rigoberto has been the most complicated reading experience for me. After a point I got so impatient with the complexity of the book and my own cluelessness over what to read and how, I entered panic attack mode and had many restless nights. I cried because I wasn’t able to finish the book. I cried because I was a slow and pathetic reader. I cried because I wasn’t able to figure out if I hated Fonchito with every fibre of my being or if I wanted to hump him senseless for being a child sex bomb. Having said that and perhaps because of all that, Rigoberto will always be my most treasured reading experience.

I would like to go back to the book again very soon and this time around, if I cry it will be because I have fallen hopelessly in love with Llosa.

More GG Madness

More GG Madness

Season 1 – Rory’s Dance

This is probably one of those few episodes where Lorelai and Emily bond for like a minute before something comes along and screws it up. Oh no wait, that’s actually all the episodes. But I find this episode to be particularly interesting because this is the first time on the show we see Lorelai caught in between 2 horrendous roles. She is both mother and daughter in this episode. In most other episodes, Lorelai is hardly either mother or daughter. I have never actually looked at her as either one of those because she has always been Lorelai Gilmore to me.

There are about a dozen moments that I really liked in this episode.  The one where Emily and Lorelai are watching TV together and they talk about Rory and mash banana toast and the legendary Monkey lamp. After all this, Emily puts her to sleep and then when they wake up in the morning to find that Rory never returned; all hell breaks loose. Here Lorelai is trapped between what she calls the worst nightmare for a parent and if we know her well enough, the worst nightmare for a daughter – screwing up in front of a parent.

There’s that chaotic moment between Lorelai screaming at her mother, defending Rory and Rory getting screamed at by Lorelai soon after Emily leaves. Well, Emily leaves and then Rory leaves and Lorelai feels screwed. That’s why this scene is beautiful on so many different levels, everyone feels screwed because of too much love. And I couldn’t be in a better position in life to know that kind of screwy love.

Season 1 – Forgiveness and stuff

Richard is in the hospital. He has just been brought to the ward. Lorelai is trying hard to find all kinds of excuses to not go in, yet. And finally when she does go in – Silence. Deep breathing. More silence. Focus on Lorelai. Focus on Richard and the 1000 different wires sticking out from his worn out body. They look at each other, Lorelai opens her mouth to say something, Richard opens his mouth to say something – Doctor, Emily and Rory enter – talk gibberish – Richard and Lorelai look at each other. Lorelai stammers, runs out and cries.

Some would say over done and it probably is. But it’s still ok because it is easy to overlook the overdone if you have survived one too many Gilmorie-ish communication blocks with parents. And that is why for a long time I will keep coming back to the scene whenever I think of my father.