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.