Monday, November 1, 2010

Conversational Pathways

Had myself a great weekend, featuring largely of conversations.

Attended a walk for breat cancer awareness in Hiranandani, Powai which was great fun, largely because of galpals along. I don't believe walks can really spread awareness, except for the audience of attendees, and they are there because they are already aware about the cause. It's good just for the participants who get another forum to socialize. The good thing about this one was that participants were offered a discount on mammograms at the hospital, which is a constructive way to get women to detect cancer early.

Found myself discussing how our conversations varied - largely commented upon by her husband who makes the sign of the cross when he sees me.

Have spent many a happy weekend over at theirs and very often the men who may be around comment on how we women talk about everything under the sun in the space of maybe 15 minutes. We may start talking about one thing and then digress to an afterthought so smoothly, that the average listener wants to pull his hair out in frustration. This is in direct opposition to the male of the species, who always sticks to the point, and articulates in a few short, crisp sentences and finishes discussing the topic.

As opposed to women like us, who never end a conversation if we can help it and resurrect it at leisure with new angles. Despite the criticism, we thrive on it and I really wouldn't have it any other way. 

Friday, October 22, 2010

Flutter Island - Fall from Grace

"You'd said you wanted to try it once," stated an acquaintance, with whom my only form of contact previously was over gtalk, in an identity which is his nom de plume.

I did talk about it when asked, if only to partly demonstrate the imaginary halo over my head which would appear whenever I piously thought of how I'd stayed clean, as in - never experimented with grass, though a lot of people I knew had. Forget the hard stuff which I wouldn't ever even consider, I am a non-smoker and that is what inhibited any stray thoughts of "harmlessly" toking up, even if it were to be just once.

Well why not, I thought and largely because I trusted said acquaintance, there we were, at my future den of vice, his apartment. The fact that he looks like an Indian version of Russell Crowe, had probably everything to do with it. 

"Here, this is where you sit," said he firmly, indicating a chair about 6 feet away from his own across his dining table.  

I started to puff, as he uploaded some music vids on his laptop.  

"You seem to be handling it pretty well" he said, noticing that I was blissfully pufffing and exhaling, without any visible signs of distress or dramatic coughs seen in first time tokers.

"Wait a minute, are you even inhaling? You have to breathe it in!! You're just blowing it off!" 

He seemed slightly agitated at this loss of one good reefer, which I had enthusiastically puffed away to half its length.

" wonder nothing's happening!" I remarked, with a scientific air.

They say senses are heightened even when you passively inhale, and I thought I heard his teeth grinding. 

He calmed himself, and offered the next one, this time explaining at great length how I was to go about it. I managed this time, with some success to actually inhale, as evidenced by the burning in my throat and overall choking sensation. 

"Your reefer's gone out. You've been puffing away at a dead one and we're supposed to share it, remember?" he gently suggested. I gave a big start and handed the cig over to him. I realized that when he had extended his hand a few times, he was not gesturing in time to the music, it was an attempt to get me to hand over the cig, which I had blissfully ignored. 

"Ohh.... no wonder I don't feel anything!" said I, finding that very amusing indeed. 

"Well, don't expect anything dramatic. People rarely experience much their first time. It just gives you an overall feeling of happiness and makes you lose motivation" he explained. 

This was disappointing indeed. I expected something dramatic and wondered what the fuss was all about. I was sure I felt nothing in particular, just a little relaxed, but that was natural. 

"Why do some people say one should watch a movie while doing this?" I asked.  

"Probably because you perceive a lot more. Well, watch this video while I get some more joints ready." I looked over at his laptop and saw this ugly image, the album cover of a heavy metal group.  

"Why is this man covered in blood?"  

"It's implying rebirth" explained Russell. "You need to listen to this riff - see, three different guitars playing at the same time. You've been talking so much, you've missed it. Listen carefully, it's amazing. You'll love it."  

Before I could stop him, he rewound that ghastly music with its awful video and played it again. Even though my migraine seemed to have receded with my newfound calm state of mind, I felt a pounding anew. 

He must've picked something up from my expression - and he mercifully switched to showing me a video by Blackfield, which was rather nice. 

He then pushed an artistic cow shaped ash tray towards me. I looked at it, admiring its design and jaunty air.  

I looked at him and realized he looked different, a lot more attractive than I'd thought. 

I noticed that he was looking at me keenly and wondered if he was thinking the same thing. "If you don't mind, the ashes go in there" he instead, patiently suggested.  

I looked down and noticed all the ash around my chair, on his tiled floor. My pants now appeared grey instead of black, with all that fine ash on them.  

"Oh my God! Why didn't you say anything!" I was agonized. Getting high, apparently short-circuited good etiquette, too. 

"And this is how you hold it", he demonstrated. I released my death-grip on the cig which had crushed it beyond repair. 

"Here, eat something, you're doing this on an empty stomach", said Russell, handing me a packet of tomato soya chips. I marvelled at how kind and considerate he was. What a great guy. I mean, he really was a wonderful friend. I'd only met him once before briefly, but what did that matter? 

"Oh my God!! These are amazing! I love them" I said, surprised. Tomato is usually my favourite flavour when it comes to chips. But these were the best I'd ever had. 

"Well, looks like you're experiencing some of the effects, after all," said Russell, "as these are quite ordinary. Your taste buds are enhanced and they taste better, that's all". 

I wasn't sure about that as I felt quite my normal self. I quietly decided to hunt down those chips for myself later. 

Looking down at them, I realized that the packet was now three-fourths empty, and there wasn't much left for Russell. I was mortified and found myself apologizing once again. 

Russell only seemed even more amused. 

It was time for me to leave and so my new friend escorted me belowstairs and kindly found me a means of transport. What a great guy, I thought. My new best friend. "Well, it wasn't all that exciting," I said to him, "in terms of effect, but I do feel more relaxed and my headache's gone."
"Well, funny you should say that," said a smiling Russell, "you exhibited all the classic symptoms."

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Rule of Three

It so happened that in one week's span - Sunday to Saturday, I met three different guys.

I use the term guy loosely, they were all men, two my age and in one case, older.

Not from a generation that's used to dating, it's taken me a while to respond to friendly overtures from the opposite sex and compared to women today, am still comparatively conservative. Why? Because a one night stand holds no appeal for me. Wait, unless we're talking about Johnny Depp or Russell Brand. 

It was a great week, as I love meeting new people, but any romantic hopes I had, I know I'll have to quash.

Spent a day meandering through South Mumbai looking for books with a really nice guy. Had some 'firsts' to that day. Not in the way you're thinking of - please get your mind out of the gutter. It was a sweet day and our walk through rain and mist, spotting rainbows and silver linings seemed almost cliched.

So did anything happen? Only, that he made a point of mentioning that he's a sworn bachelor, perhaps to ensure I wouldn't create a romance out of thin air. He remains a friend.

The second, I happened to meet over dinner. We were acquaintances, and had met only once previously, in relation to work rather than anything else. That first time, and even now, I felt older, in terms of maturity, though this was a great guy too. He was just out of a long relationship and from what I could tell, still hung up on his ex. He would've been keen on a relationship - but with no strings attached. And I know I am not wired that way. Not at this stage of life.

The third was a friend of some of my friends and I met him at their place. He was older by quite a few years, but surprisingly, it didn't matter - because he was charismatic, attractive and spoke charmingly. The problem? Indian women don't attract him. He loves anything in skirts as long as she's white. Paradoxically, too many Indian men are fixated on white skin. It struck me that at his age, being never married was nothing if not a confirmation of his bachelorhood. Apparently he does intend to settle down, but I have my doubts. I know he won't, not with an Indian woman - unless she's a stunner. Think Bollywood.

So here was a bachelor who wanted to remain one forever, another who wanted to remain so for the next four years and a confirmed bachelor who didn't know it just yet.

With that kind of luck, any wonder, am still single?

Matrimonal sites, here I come. (Gag!)

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Letting ourselves down

Shocking news in today's paper. Why? Because we still hope for justice.

All 6 accused in the case of the TISS American student's rape, have been acquitted. If you haven't read it yet, go see the papers and look at the extremely smug grins on the boys' faces, boys from a privileged, rich, spoilt and indulged background. What a lesson they've learned. Justice is for sale.

Arguments presented in the favour of the accused are farcical. Case in point - calls made from the girl's phone while she was presumably unconscious. In the absence of facts, two conjectures, even I as a layperson can come up with - (a) that she tried while semi unconscious to dial numbers for help and (b) that the boys she was with made the calls. Regardless, this does not justify rape. How could she as one girl, hope to overpower 6 boys in a drugged state? Anyone in her place would've been scared stiff and submitted. But wait, she was unconscious. And just because she cannot testify due to that, she is privileged to see her rapists walk free. Great logic, right? And wow, guess what she did next. She went back to America during the trial. Now really, who would want to go back to home and hearth after being violated like this? She's clearly lying, right? Gimme a break.

Is there anyone who has been reading about the case who has any doubt about the guilt of boys who forced the girl to consume an I-pill next morning? Not  me, that's for sure. 

Yes, the girl was extremely dumb to "party" with 6 unknown and unfamiliar (to her) boys alone, as the only girl in the group. Us educated, sensible Indian girls don't do that - we already know the dangers. That's why we remain unmolested to date. In her defence, she was an American, trying to fit in. Still, does that mean that in India, you can get away with rape? Hell yeah! Makes me more than ashamed as a woman, and sorry to belong here.

What are we saying here? Anyone who goes to a flat with 6 boys deserves what she gets?

How comfortable are you knowing that 6 boys are out there, whom your innocent daughters could meet in the near future?

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Just off Powai

Popped in at  R-City Mall to buy gifts for a 12 year old friend and visited Odyssey for my quest.

Spent many hours browsing through books and games. Sadly, very few Enid Blytons in evidence.

Found a really nice children's book called something like "At last, a fish" or was it at least a fish? by an Indian author. A fun story, and I picked it up for a younger friend.  

Succumbed to the lure of shopping - bought a delectable new AND top that was alluringly displayed in the shop window. For those who don't know, am Not one of those spoilt, rich brats who have nothing better to do than spend! Have lived a semi-frugal life and once in a while, like to indulge in something pretty.

Meandered through Cottonworld, more because of nostalgic college-day memories of shopping there occasionally. With that perspective, found it a bit overpriced, though they had some beautiful clothes in there - really tempting. Tried on a nice sea green dress, only to discover that its waistline hit me mid torso. I tried to imagine walking into a restaurant for dinner wearing it. The doorman and waiters would automatically line up ahead of me for a closer look at the skin show. They would then whip out their cell phones to click pictures which would be later uploaded on their favourite porn site. My dinner companion, male or female, would probably duck under the table - totally embarrassed to be seen with me.

Folks at Cottonworld, what were you thinking? Except for certain A-listers like Queenie Dhondy, or P. Godrej, can't think of anyone who would be able to wear this topless dress. Certainly, not the regular clientele of Cottonworld. Last time I checked, this was India, not Paris. Obviously, I left dress-less, but not without picking up another casual wear top.

Am determined to try out this blog diary business. I mean, the premise is that I write about all the things I've been doing ideally, on a daily basis and folks will want to read it? Tough to imagine, but what the heck. So here goes. Another inconsequential post, about nothing in particular.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

The Talking Monkey

I remember waking up in the middle of last night, and in that moment of weakness, praying that I meet a man I could spend my life with.

I must've fallen asleep right afterwards, as I awoke next morning with memories of the strangest dream.

I had dreamt of my old house, where I'd grown up. I was young again, probably in my early teens and my grandparents were still alive.

From our terrace, a strange looking monkey suddenly entered our house. It was sitting on the table, and oddly had white whiskers and hair just like an aged man. The monkey said that he was looking for his family and had been searching for many years and this is why he would enter people's homes. The monkey's eyes were sad, and yet, slightly mischievous.

To my child's eyes, the problem seemed simple and I told the monkey that if he continued northwards, he would reach Borivali National Park, a huge forested area, where there were sure to be many monkeys and he might find his missing family among them.

Just as I said this, my grandmother singalled a gawking maid who suddenly leapt up, grabbed a stick and what seemed to me violently, chased the monkey out.

Having been both an agnostic and an atheist, am now exploring books written by Paramhansa Yogananda and Sadhguru and trying to read other Hindu scriptures. Just as I awoke, I wondered if this were a response to my earlier wish, where I had asked for a man. The monkey in my dream, seemed to be a man too. By asking for a man, would I be satisfied with just a male counterpart - what if he was only a monkey?

Though I have never wanted just a shallow caricature of a romantic fictional 'man', I think the dream was a lesson to teach me that I had asked for something quite shallow. If 'maleness' was all I wanted, then even a talking monkey ought to suffice! Perhaps this was my subconscious recognizing that I need to clarify and crystallize to myself, what I really wanted. Or that one should live one's life without a constant companion as that's not as important as spiritual upliftment.

I know am not ready for that. I still need a partner for companionship - and being single again for over five years has only reinforced that, but yes, an intelligent being, someone with humour and feeling and the qualities that would make him humane. Too much to hope for?

Monday, October 4, 2010

My Friends. My Life. My Phone.

Wait. This is not some shallow, gadget-obsessed, computer geek teen's opinion. I am in my early thirties. Old enough to learn what one values most and young enough to live life accordingly.

It's true, friends are the family we choose.

I come from a family where my siblings are opposites of me and ours is quite a cheerful love-hate relationship - more hate than love. We simply can't believe we share 50% of our genes. We just about tolerate each other.

But, we still need to keep in touch. And even though we may occasionally share a house, we find it easier to communicate via email.

I leaped over a small pile of stones, running as fast as I could. My lungs were close to bursting, as I glanced behind and breathlessly puffed up the road. What was that sound? That beep...oh yes, my phone! Why didn't I immediately think of it? Pulling it out, I touched just one key to get online and accessed my facebook mail update. An urgent message from my closest friend, suggesting an impulsive dinner tonight. I slowed down to a jog and stopped as I messaged her back to say that I would see her there. No, I wasn't running for my life there, just trying to keep fit. This new net phone means that I don't miss out on any impulsively made plans, or anything important work-wise.

Try jogging with your laptop and you'll see what I mean.

Need to see that funny Budweiser video? Send a cute animated card to your friend's adorable 6 year old daughter? Buy a book for your boss for his birthday? Respond in time to that interesting-and-cute guy's dinner invite for Friday evening? Listen to music while working out? Watch that new music video? Send a picture of that wild bear on a wildlife trail to your friends? Need to access that online map as you got lost driving?

A net phone makes it possible.

And all this, at one paisa per second. Sounds fair to me. And no long, patience-shredding dial-ups either.

Anything you thought you'd be tied down to a flat surface and a chair for, is just plain redundant now. So don't be afraid to live your life - go to that beach, that hammock, that spa, that hike - all you have to do is carry your phone along and you're still connected.

My friends and my life. See, my phone makes my own world move with me, in my own pocket.

Now I know what that old song meant - I have the whole world in my hands.

It's time to move on with the times. Just one touch makes it possible.

Early thirties is when you're old enough to have been at the forefront of the internet era and young enough to have tried all of it's myriad, glossy, enticing applications and get excited when a new one comes along. From ICQ to Messenger to Gtalk, to Ryze, hi5, Orkut, Twitter and Facebook, we've transited to our favourites by now.

Forget about a Second Life, we can create multiple personalities over different social networking sites, drop acquaintances who didn't turn into friends and cement bonds with true pals online. So what if I'm in India and they are in Singapore, USA or anywhere in the world?

Luckily, am old enough to have gone through the desktop computer era, which transited to the laptop and Macbook one. And luckily, am young enough to see the era where I can now interact with friends locally and globally - from my phone!

This was written as an entry for an online contest. Sadly, non-winning :)