Friday, December 28, 2007

the labours of sisyphus

“what are you doing these days?” they ask me.
“just house work, nothing much”, i find myself mumbling.
“ah! lucky you, chilling huh”?
“oh so you are taking a break, good for you!” some more well meaning friends say.
sometimes i find myself making a joke out of the whole thing, “i am just a housewife these days!”
“aah! but you know, you must stay active, don’t get too cushy at home, take a break, but you must do something…eventually… you know,” say some others.

here’s something for all you guys.
housework is a bloody awful lot of work.

there is nothing about it that is chilling. the only blasted thing about it is, it is not paid for. and if i were to be getting paid for what i do, i’d probably be able to buy that fancy bungalow i see in the by lanes of where i live, pretty soon.
and it gets my hackles up to realize that because of some blasted pre-conditioning, i see it as trivial and undervalue it myself.

so the buck really starts right here.
just a housewife. can we shoot that phrase down?
what is it about the nature of housework that it is seen in a light that is trivializing and even disparaging? for starters… it is not paid for. since it is not work that is economically, tangibly productive, it is not seen as work at all.

here is something that simone de beauvoir says that has stayed with me for a while, “few tasks are more like the torture of sisyphus than housework, with its endless repetition; the clean becomes soiled, the soiled is made clean, over and over, day after day. the housewife wears herself out marking time: she makes nothing, simply perpetuates the present”.

(in greek mythology, sisyphus was a king punished in the tartarus by being cursed to roll a huge boulder up a hill, only to watch it roll down again, and repeat this throughout eternity. today, sisyphean can be used as an adjective meaning that an activity is unending and/or repetitive. it could also be used to refer to tasks that are pointless and unrewarding… from wikipedia)

maintaining status quo and not creating anything that survives or lasts is the bane of housework. food that is cooked is consumed. order that is created out of clutter and chaos goes back to disorder and chaos. a cyclical, continuous perpetuation of the present.
couple this with the fact that our societal conditioning has dinned it into our heads in a bizarre pavlovian way that a woman is expected to do housework, and you have the perfect stepfordian system.

this is what i have been taught as a child. this is what i saw as a child.
at home, the men (my father and brother) did help around the house in more ways than one, but the onus of the housework lay largely with my mother.
my mother juggled a full time job, two kids and the housework. she did have some help, but the lion’s share of the work was hers.
and i continue to be amazed at how she did it. day after day, for scores and scores of years, she would cook all three meals, wash the dishes herself, clean and clear, wash and rinse, and also excel at her job.

women like me are at a rather uncomfortable crossroad. we combine all that is traditional as well as several notions of independence and equality. we are expected to be super women who effortlessly span the distance between the conference room and the kitchen with a dazzling smile and a new checkered apron.
we help bring the bread home and also cook it.
the men are utterly clueless. they have no idea how to confront this new hybrid mutant.
the men still subscribe to modes and conventions and yet are slowly emerging from the haze and confusion of gender roles and identities, but i can’t say if they are any wiser.

as a result of all this unbridled change i see relationships that are more fragile, diminishing self worth that is uncalled for and a fake sense of wellness bought by amassing material things.

it is time that we transcend these long held definitions of what and who we should be. it would be a good idea for starters to just be. not succumb to noise and popular opinion but get comfortable in the skin that we walk in.

easy as it may be to dismiss something and put a label of non-productiveness on it, it would be fair to give a thought to the countless women who strive for permanence and continuity, living half of their lives in the kitchen, raising children, sustaining entire households.

the nameless faces, calloused hands and futile labours of just a housewife.

Monday, December 17, 2007

round that bend...

i have gone and bought paints, brushes and paper. now they are sitting on my table.
i sat and painted yesterday. my hand wobbled as i put the pencil to paper. i have grown rusty. i had to use the eraser several times. this is sacrilege... at design school we are taught to use the eraser as little as possible. in fact we start with learning how to sharpen pencils!

i couldn't find a palette, so i emptied the ice tray from the fridge.
i love drawing and painting. and i have this notion in my head, that if i put my mind to it i could do a good job at this...
i rummaged around the premiere bookstore (a little cove on the street corner stuffed with towers and towers of tottering books, the smell is just divine...) and dug out some lovely old children's books. they say that writing and drawing for children is not easy... and i couldn't agree more.
as a child i had the good fortune to have my hands on some lovely russian books (thanks to my discerning parents) and i remember gazing and gazing at the pictures.
as a child the smallest and strangest of things hold your attention... i remember looking at squiggles at little corners, pictures of leaves, i loved looking at the lines, colours and textures.

i want to write and illustrate children's books. thats what i want to do.
over the next month or so, i need to sit and draw and paint.
and then hopefully i will tote my drawings around and look for work... well thats the plan really...
and insha allah... i will have found the right bend in the road.

Friday, December 14, 2007

essence and fluff

essence and fluff.
sometimes it takes time to make any discernable difference between the two.
but i have noticed that where there is considerable essence there is hardly any fluff.
what is fluff?
fluff is bright, cheerful and oh so pleasant!
fluff is the thick layer of cottony candy floss that chatters incessantly. fluff is all the artifice and false cheer pumped with three bushels of air. fluff is all conversations that we pretend to listen to. fluff is all the smart two bits that we casually let drop, so we are believed to have any essence or intelligence or both.
fluff is all the lovely looking drawing rooms with matching throws and drapes while the john in the bedroom is leaky and stained.
do you indulge in fluff?
i do. sometimes. but i like to believe i don’t.
is essence then the diametric opposite of fluff?
what does essence look like? what does it feel like?
for me it sounds like silence. it sounds like listening. it feels solid, and deep brown, like the earth i walk on… or the bark of that tree that i let my hand brush against. essence is knobbly and knotty and it has deep recesses that are not for public consumption.

i don’t know if essence is popular. i don’t know if you will take essence to a party.
fluff makes so much more an easier companion. but would you want to come back home to it? i really don’t think so.

i went to a calligraphy workshop today.
and the calligraphy maestro (which he is undoubtedly) sat back while his monkey troupe of sycophants hustled around. they showed two long presentations, the presentations were all about the man, his work and all the celebrities he had worked with.
there was an entire section on ‘celebrity credentials’, with slow dissolves, pictures of the maestro rubbing shoulders with bigwigs…
i stole a look at this man (infact, several), while everyone watched the presentations. he is a diminutive man; he was beating his fingers to the music in the presentation.
i have always wondered how one really feels when someone praises you to high heaven and falls short of kissing your feet. do they believe that they are really that good or is there a nagging little voice inside which says, “is this guy gassed? what does he really want? does he know what a @#$% i really am?”

the maestro then began to wield his brushes. and the truth is the man does not need any of this shit. he is really that good. he can but a toothbrush to toilet paper and make that look beautiful. with every line his brush marked, his stooges went, “ahhhh…” and the cameras went clicking non-stop.
what happens to essence when it is steeped in fluff?
is one better than the other?
do they need each other to exist?
i don’t know… all i am saying is that the earth beneath my toes feels good and the champa smells beautiful.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

a quick call

i quit my job in three weeks…
yes. just like that. that’s the time it took me to figure that this is not what i wanted to be doing. and there is really no point in doing something that your soul does not feel good about, is there?
i discovered some interesting things about myself over these 3 weeks.
i can’t do something that I don’t feel truly passionate about.
i cannot take orders easily.
artifice of any kind gives me ulcers.
my priorities are very simply my home and my loved ones.
i cannot, simply cannot sell/work for anything/anyone who endorses fairness creams and alcohol, dependency and dreams.
i need to write, write, write.
i am too old to unlearn.
i don’t want to chase after money.

i want the simpler things of life. a cheerful countenance, a happy home, time to linger, time to listen and contemplate…
and that’s where I am going.
again I am reminded of this quote by buckminster fuller “how often i found where i should be going only by setting out for somewhere else.”

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

as strangers walk by

while i struggle to find a foothold on unfamiliar grounds... i wonder if this is really the road i should be walking on?
the uncertainties are everpresent and i am hoping i do not lose myself in the gathering mist.
i am hoping i find the courage to negotiate the bends and twists...
when the day is quieter and all the flurry ebbs, i sit and wonder what my place is in this huddle of strangers walking by?

Monday, November 12, 2007

deebawali blues and snips

my life has become twice as eventful and three times as adventurous.
in a rare spirit of decadence, i decided to go the whole hog and doll up for diwali.
i smeared kajal (my mother disdainfully calls this look the begum mehrunissa look), wore very dangly ear rings and chose tinkly bangles.
a bangle splintered and broke and in my usual quick, bright way i noticed after about ten minutes, that my hand hurt.
i looked at my hand, and froze to see big trickles of blood.
a gaping gash looked back at me.

i announced very slowly to the husband that i needed his urgent attentions which at that moment were focussed entirely on syriana.
the husband immediately went into a total flutter and sped around the house rummaging corners, flinging out drawers, as he mumbled incoherently," bandages, cotton... hospital...".
we realised that the house sadly lacked anything which could be labelled band-aid, let alone medical facilities.
another look at the gash confirmed that we really needed to get to a hospital.
so we bundled onto storm and sped through whizzing rockets and lakshmi bombs that were released indiscriminately in the middle of the road.
the husband yelled at the revellers and made many menacing gestures at them... i think the husband suffers from a form of delusion which leads him to believe that his wife is some sort of precious, national treasure... well what the heck? happy for me!
as i sat quietly, nursing my hand, a slow creeping thought began to crawl into my head... is this going to need stitches?
i mean serious eeps.
dont stitches hurt to high heaven?
a very genial doctor took one look at my hand and announced the verdict.
"we will have to put in some stitches".
my heart clanked down to my kidneys.
"is it going to hurt"?, i asked stupidly, but plaintively, bleating like a sacrificial goat.
"just a little bit, dont you worry", said the doc very reassuringly and then added quietly," how is your tolerance to pain"?
i turned pale and gulped," i guess i will find out today", i squeaked.
but before he could stitch the wound the doc sent me to another doc for a second opinion.
the nurse (who i am sure is called rosemarie) briskly took me down a flight of stairs... we couldn't find the doc... so i held my hand, like britney holds her chihuahua, and followed the nurse around the hospital with slow rising panic.
when we found the doc, he looked like a gruff, religious grizzly, he took a quick look and said," just put in steristrips, no need for stitching, it is too close to the vein".
i blinked and smiled for the first time that evening," no stitches"?, i repeated.
"thank you so much, i could give you a hug, i was so worried", i gushed.
the doc was unmoved, "no need for stitches, but we could staple it".
(er what?)
"i hope you are joking sir"?
"no, no not joking, we can staple it... but we will just use the strips, just stick it".

i fled before the grizzly could change his mind.
so i got away with some sticky, plaster-tape-thing that closes wounds!
i spent the rest of the day pulling my sleeve over the bandaged arm, dodging the usual questions of "what happened"?
the doc told me later that i had gotten away with a very easy deal... the cut was just snips away from a vein... any closer and i would have been in some serious trouble.
this has earned me a lot of extra tlc from the husband, who now waits on me, while i loll regally on the couch.
life is good and happy diwali (like they say it here... yappi deebawali).

Friday, November 9, 2007

peeping tom and pipsqueak

i saw his reflection as the door swung open.
a big, bulging, hairy back standing on a chair... and the door swung shut. it took me a couple of minutes to process the information.
the woman next to me was sharper. we realised seconds apart that we had a glorious peeping tom in our midst.
the hairy beast was perched atop a chair in the trial room peeping through the partition at the woman in the next room.
and the prick had forgotten to latch the door in his rush.
the lady next to me banged on the other trial room and a befuddled looking woman stepped out.
no, nobody she knew was in the adjoining trial room, she said.
we started to tell her that there was someone looking at her from the next room, when the door swung open and this towering hulk of a man stepped out (now fully dressed).

he made straight at me, screaming, "why would i do that? why would i do that?".
i cringed... i was frightened... i stuttered, "i saw you, you were on the chair, peeping".
in impeccable english, he continued to look straight at me, "why would i do that?", he repeated.
in the few seconds that followed, these are thoughts that zipped through my head.
did i make a mistake? shit no! i saw him... he looks like any other guy... did i see correctly... i did! i did see him! is he going to beat me up?
he stepped closer, i stepped back. he was yelling.

"i dont know why you would do that?! but i saw you!," i said, trying to keep my voice levelled, (now in retrospect i can think of several sharp and smart things i could have said... but right then, i was too flustered to think straight).
by now, two or three more people collected around us, watching.
he stormed off and i stood there catching my breath.
nobody stopped him. the two other women had sunk into the wall silently as all this happened. two men (a guard and store help) who stood around watching, said and did nothing.
the woman who was 'peeped' on did not say a word, her husband or boyfriend stood around and did nothing too. mute spectators.
once the creep had left, everybody started talking. "i saw him!". "what a pervert!" "he was on the chair."
i made a complaint with the store manager.

as i left the store, my heart was thumping. i looked about and every other guy who walked around seemed like he could be a closet pervert.
i realised that i am so easily hassled and not very brave. why did i suddenly become so unsure of what i had seen? because the guy did not look like a pervert (what a stupid, stupid thing to say, what did i expect, some ugly, evil, villain looking creature with pervert tattoed to his forehead?). because the guy was three times my size and would not stop shouting (foremost in my thoughts was also my own safety... its true, i am no hero, would i have reacted differently if he was a puny guy who stuttered and squeaked? of course... so now i am a hypocrite too).
i looked around as i left the store half expecting him to spring at me with razors or acid or something. i am such a phattu.

but this is how it is.
a few months back a very dear friend of mine got beaten up by a man in road rage, it was broad daylight and not one person stepped forward to help.
she is a lovely, sweet woman who wouldnt step on an ant and something like this happens to her.
for all our strength, wit, independence; it takes one incident like this and we realise that we can be fragile. brute strength and force does mean something.

as for the hirsute creep... i hope his balls rot and fall off.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

ramblings from october 2007

Thursday, October 18, 2007

pachyderms plod
ok, here is the truth, i am bored out of my wits. i am not even inspired enough to write. which is a rather sorry state of affairs. apart from reading like my life depended on it, all i am doing is indulging in ennui.
i have finished both the second and the third of jonathan stroud's trilogy of nathaniel and bartimaeus (oh! a must, must read, though the first is really the best), and i am now reading bill bryson's 'notes from a big country' (scathing, sharp and tart and quite hilarious), mark gatiss's 'the devil in amber' (a bisexual criminal investigator combating satanic forces!) and john le carre's 'the honourable schoolboy' (both times that i attempted it, i fell asleep on the first page). yes... i read about three books at one time, unless the book is of a particularly gripping nature and has my eyeballs pinned.
the job hunt has finally begun... and it hasn't been all that dandy and promising yet. got two offers so far, both willing to pay the worth of about a nice paper cone of fresh peanuts. sigh. the search continues, and i have made up my mind to wait for something meaningful... but as ironic as it is... jobs that satisfy your soul and give you meaning, pay dirt... dumb jobs that require only your head and abject slavery and benumbing of all creative juices pay trillions.
the husband still gallivants on foreign shores stuffing his face with steaks and buying enough gizmos to give bond a run for his money and good looks both, though i must grudgingly admit that i do sort of miss having the bloke around (i mean the husband, not bond... on second thoughts bond's ok too... i mean pierce brosnan with his nice, pert rump).
before i sink into any more depravity... i better get out of here.

Posted by Kavita Arvind at 11:18 AM 4 comments
Wednesday, October 10, 2007

all about my mother
i am into my second cup of caffeine dose and the world already seems to be a better, shinier place. my mother is here, so i have been answering about 6 questions every second minute.
my god, the woman asks far too many questions.
she has not yet begun poking into every corner of the house and giving her opinion stridently about what she thinks is a better way of doing what i am most happy and snug doing the way i like it.
but whatever little that she has poked into has already met with her cynosure.but all said and done, it is nice to have another person around the house, while the husband gallivants in distant shores and goes about buying boys' toys.
i am beginning to notice with some alarm that as i grow older i become more and more like my mother. i am as anxious as she is about everything, i am also as careful with money as she is, i too have a penchant for bags (but large, pendulous, jhola type ones, or satchels, not the rexiny, boxy kind that she likes).
i like almost everything that she positively detests. when we go out to buy clothes, she picks up the most ugly, discordant and wierd salwaar kameez things, or diaphanous tops with prints as large as elephants, and tells me how nice they will look on me... she likes plastic bags and i gag at the sight of one. but we both like plastic dabbas and always contemplate buying some everytime we visit a store. she hates plants and i would be happiest if i lived in a glass house or a botanical garden. we also get on each other's nerves like diabetic pachyderms walking on crunchy paapads. appa usually tears his hair out in despair when we start bickering and arguing about something. so he flips and takes sides with my mother for seven seconds and then flips around and takes sides with me for five. my brother i suppose is the only person who can charm or tease her into most things.
she is a formidable woman and her dialogue delivery is straight up rajnikanth's is rather strange but we are as different from one another as we are alike.

Posted by Kavita Arvind at 12:01 PM 2 comments
Tuesday, October 9, 2007

red letter day
for the seventh of october. it is here, the big 31 as M puts it and thanks to the boyslog it glided by most beautifully! after having woken up very early and downed several cups of bitter-sweet filter kaapi fuel, i spent the first part of the day paying a lot of attention to antony bourdain, who i have developed a certain weakness for.
the boyslog then picked me up and we went over to A's place for the most sumptuous spread of dal, baati, churma and hot green chutney! auntyji is the most divine cook and she exudes enough warmth and goodness to light atleast a 100 light bulbs all at once! apart from rooting for auntyji's most favorite singer on a telly show, there was of course the inevitable football that had to be watched!
now there is only one legal and correct way to eat dal baati. the baati needs to be smashed and crumbled, a dollop of ghee goes onto this, some chutney and then the dal, this has to be then squished and mashed into a nice blurry splosh, squeeze in some lemon and a smattering of thinly sliced onions... and here's the important thing... you just have to use your fingers... using spoons is a criminal offence. so we tucked into total and uninhibited greed and ate about enough to last us the entire winter. the boyslog mysteriously disappeared and came back with a cake.
S and A (gosh, too many A's, i will have to think of some other ingenuous nomenclature) joined us too and i turned several variant hues of red as the HBSong was sung. the boyslog out of great concern for my rapid aging, kindly tucked in only one candle.
we then picked our sagging and satiated stomachs carefully to U's home.
R and his interminable legs dropped in and so did K with her delightful retorts and quips.the boyslog and S again mysteriously disappeared and came back with a charming little candle-frangrances-pot-thingummy for me (how did they figure i was such a sucker for this stuff?).
the rest of the evening found us rolling about the floor in various stages of convulsions as we played 'taboo' (a word game, will you not be too imaginative dear readers?) and balderdash along with some nice chardonnay and chenin blanc. we chatted late into the night as the As regaled us with stories of growing up.a merry red letter day indeed!
i spent the most delightful day with some wonderful people. people who dont even know me all that much, some who dont know me at all, but who extended so much warmth and kindness. now kindness might sound like an archaic word, but i really do mean it here.
this is a good way to step over into the wrong side of thirties...big fat hugs all around!

Posted by Kavita Arvind at 11:25 AM 3 comments
Wednesday, October 3, 2007

here's what you need to play this utterly hilarious game. atleast 4 people of dubious reasoning capacities, a dictionary, paper and pens.
now the whole lot of you who have tuned off the minute i said dictionary, hang on a minute, i didnt say the game needs intelligence quotient, ok it does, but just a tad.
you dont have to have an english literature degree tucked into your belt for this (might be fun if you did). a bottle of nice wine would also help the proper (mal)functioning of this game.

so here is how you play the game.

one person chooses a strange and incomprehensible word from the dictionary, like for instance, degladiate or leman or roogos (these words do exist beyond paranormal occurrences folks), and spells this word out for the others with all graciousness and also writes the real meaning of the word into his/her sheet (this is not to be revealed to the other hapless individuals playing the game). Now all the others write down in their sheets what they think the word could mean (all this is done in utter secrecy).
now the trick is to think of a meaning that sounds the most credible... say for instance, shammy sounds so much like it could mean 'of fraudulent nature'. now the papers are passed back to the person who chose the word in the first place. he/she shuffles them around, and reads all the meanings out while chuckling menacingly (the chuckle is essential, it is confusing and credible all at once). the rest of the imaginative intellectuals guess the correct meaning (which lies juggled and lost in the sheafs of paper).
if you did indeed guess the correct meaning you get 10 points! if you were gullible enough to guess the 'imagined' meaning that somebody else wrote, that person gets 5 points! if nobody guesses the correct meaning of the word, then the clever indivudual who chose the word to start with gets 50 points!!and that me dearies is BALDERDASH!

trust me on this one... the game will have you in convulsions of laughter!what? you dont own a dictionary?? which barbaric tribe do you belong to?? go get one, and also a bottle of nice wine!and yes, if you are wondering... leman is a lover or paramour and shammy is sheepskin leather.

Posted by Kavita Arvind at 10:06 AM 0 comments

ramblings from september 2007

Friday, September 28, 2007

going to school
i held a one day workshop in a design school yesterday. the subject being one of continuing interest to me - perception of color and how it communicates. i stepped into a classroom after almost a year. an unruly class of about 20 sat around the benches sizing me up in the quick, discerning way that only young people can.after teaching for four years, i like to think that one of my favorite places is the classroom.
i like the conversations that take place the most... the way an idea travels around the class and grows and slowly takes form.
i like to watch young faces grapple with a thought, chew it, take in the zest in it, or even challenge it, not liking the flavors at all.
when one teaches, one speaks a lot, and i am not someone who is very fond of hearing my own voice. i prefer to listen. and this has been my greatest lessons of all. so much of teaching is listening, so much of living is our heated debates and discussions with some of my ex-colleagues in the design school where i taught earlier, we have always wondered what a teacher should be like? especially as more and more younger people are joining the teaching fraternity and the difference of age between the students and the faculty is not all that large. also when information is so extensively and easily available by the flick of a few keys, what is then the emerging role of a teacher? i really, fervently believe that a good teacher is merely someone who can guide and give direction, objectively without prejudice. no longer can we be inexhaustible crucibles of knowledge, who, sitting on a higher throne, distribute it to the 'less enlightened', faithful lot of believers.
i think most of us could do with a large shot of humility. and the sooner we begin to accept that we can also learn from someone who is a decade (if not more) younger than us, the better teachers, parents, siblings or human beings we could be.
teaching... i have never quite liked the word, it is very uni-directional and has a 'holier than thou' ring to it, it brings pictures of shuttered classrooms and unapprochable men and women lurking at the front of the class, brandishing a cane or ruler, in my head. i dont want to call it 'sharing', that sounds too pretentious... so let me call it 'mentoring', until i find another word. a mentor is a trusted advisor, so i think i can go with that for now. being a mentor is exhausting, probably because of the gargantuan sense of responsibility that it brings with it, and giving selflessly can be rather fatiguing. people are fragile, and whether they are young or old, so many times one can do lasting damage to another human being in the garb of doing what is right or knowing what is best. the more we are convinced that we know what is best for another, the more damage we can cause.
the truth is we are all individuals in our own seperate worlds, experiencing every moment that is unique only to us, yet we are connected to each other by the common warp and weft of living. there was this girl in class yesterday, who would interject discussions with the strangest of questions, comments or absurd repetitions of what was being said. i noticed that the other students were a little wary of her, but did not attempt to counter or add to anything she was saying. her face looked old and marked, and she had dark circles under her eyes. i wondered silently about her. i found out later that she had lost her father in an accident four years back, suffered a terrible nervous breakdown, from which she has not recovered yet, there was also a hint that she was subject to sexual abuse. she is 27 years old, the oldest in the class of 20 year olds...the faculty members empathise with her, but are not quite sure how to deal with her.
it seems like they let her be, they watch out for her, are more considerate and perhaps less harsh than they would otherwise be with an average or below average student. i would perhaps do the same.
i have no idea what the right thing to do is. is there such a thing in the first place? i feel more humility with every passing day. i have increasingly begun to feel that what i know can fit into the holes of a button, this one lifetime seems to be too little to learn all that can be. and i dont mean bookish knowledge, i mean about people, about their lives, their hopes, loves, losses, about the lines on their faces... i dont know if this is a good thing or not. but i am not able to have strong, unshakeable opinions any more. ideas about right and wrong have all gone blurry.
all i know is there is an entire landscape of unknowns, and it stretches as far as i can see.

Posted by Kavita Arvind at 10:04 PM 3 comments
Wednesday, September 26, 2007

days of sloth and aimlessness
this is officially 'time off', and i like it. the house is finally settled and it sparkles just about as much as i like it to. so how do i spend all my time, you may wonder...well, i wake up early to let my new 'bai' in who thankfully does not bring any entourage with her. i am practising my tamil with her. for some reason the only fluent tamil i can speak is with my parents and brother, i get totally tongue tied if i have to speak this language with anybody else... i stammer and forget simple words and get all flushed. i make my cup of coffee, wake the husband with 'bed-horlicks' (snigger). make breakfast. and then hang around and wait for the husband to leave for work, then i potter around the house doing odd bits of work.make another cup of coffee and do the times crossword, stand in the balcony and look at the bustle that goes on in the street below.

the most fascinating people live in this street. two very old paatis (grannys) and a young girl, who live next to the facing compound wall. all their belongings are stacked in huddles and heaps on a shelf made of flat cemented stones that are stacked high. mornings, all the women on the street line up at the water tap with plastic kodams (water pots). they gossip and chat, while they wait for their turn. the pots are first scrubbed clean before they are filled with water. the tap splutters and spews a thin trickle of water. then come the next batch of women folk, sometime in the afternoon, dragging some very unwilling children to the tap.

i spent a whole hour watching a thin, young woman bathe her three daughters, the other day. she brought lotas of water and filled a big pot, collected bits of wood that was lying around, left over from the construction work, lit a fire under the pot and went about sharply slapping her daughters, getting them to undress for their baths. all of them had neat pigtails tied into curves with black ribbons. as she undid their pigtails, their hair came tumbling out in big, brown raggedy heaps. they sat patiently, one by one, after a few initial squeals and surrendered to being scrubbed and shampooed.i like watching these people. it is surprising that they never look up at me. their life perhaps is all that is immediate and what is right in front of them. or maybe they just have too much to do. or maybe looking up at something only gives you a crick in the neck! going back to the not so interesting times in my life... apart from looking into other people's lives and homes, i flop about and read, listen to music, bake once in a while, catch as many snoozes as i like.

i have been catching up on films that i have missed. watched 'the blue umbrella', 'cheeni kum', 'the good german' and 'knocked up' so far (apart from trikaal, a wedding, mash, dial m for murder and ek ruka hua faisla from my own collection).

cheeni kum was rather nice, except for the sudden burst of emotional, bollywood, hyper drama for the last 30 minutes.

the blue umbrella is a must watch, pankaj kapoor has excelled himself, the film does falter and stretch towards the middle-end, but the idea is refreshing to start with.

the good german is a cross between a quasi schindler's list and casablanca, without doing much justice to either... but nevertheless a good watch for its treatment.knocked up can be avoided like the plague.

once the husband is home in the evening, i make hot samosas and chai for him ( ha! ha! got you there! didnt i?).

we go out to get a film, get a cup of coffee, or meet up with friends. the boys-log sit and watch football or cricket, talk greek, latin and farsi about these games, while i pretend to be watching the game and listening to them. or we are at home, cooking some experimental dinner, curling up with a book or watching a you can see, i have been doing a remarkably good imitation of some dopey elephant seals...but i can say that i am beginning to understand what i would like to be doing for a living.while that idea emerges, i like this period of calm and lull.

i have had this after many, many years and i like the time warp that i am in.
i like to wake up and not have to hurry. i like it when i dont watch any TV, though i have all the time to. i like the quiet. i like the purposelessness.

Posted by Kavita Arvind at 10:59 AM 3 comments
Wednesday, September 19, 2007

bengalooru calling!!!
ta-da!! after a short hiatus, i am back on the blogsphere!much has changed! my life is rather upscale these days, i have put on some more flab in all the wrong places, the new house is bright and dandy and i have already had several anxiety attacks about the screwed up traffic here!

i live in a rather poshish place, ok to be honest, a few minutes walk from a rather poshish place!the street is nice to walk on in the evenings! its lined with trees and cafes.
i have already sampled some delicious chettinaad food with its hot spicy curries and oodles of rice heaped to high mounds on plates!
i went to one of the oldest coffee houses here and drank a litre of bitter-sweet-divine filter kaapi! my favorite occupation is gawking at people! they come in such myriad kinds in this city!trendy chicklet things and grunge pinch-my-butt-boys and old, swarthy uncles!

i think this city cant quite make up its mind... its trendy and local all mixed up together to make a rather smashing blend... if there is anything that is painfully, annoying to the point of madness, is this city's traffic and the autowallahs who want their "ten rupees ekksttra".
will i never be rid of these demons???!

i still havent made my mind up about bengalooru... though the coffee house did steal a big chunk of my heart (old musty walls, lined with tattered coffee posters, mahogany brown, ancient chairs and tables and fluffy poached eggs!), i feel like i belong here... with koshy's, higgin and bothams, gangaram's... i am already half seduced!

Posted by Kavita Arvind at 2:14 PM 4 comments
Wednesday, September 5, 2007

my last day at work here!
i can’t say i feel euphoric or that i feel upset. i feel completely detached and neutral.
in retrospect, this is exactly how i have felt about this job over what spans to almost a year. and this is really a first for me. i cannot remember ever being so detached with any work that i have done so far.

i had to fill up a feedback form and there were two questions that got me stumped.
1. what is your most cherished moment here?
2. what is your least cherished moment here?
to my surprise, i found that i had no answers to these questions. i had nothing to cherish or not cherish. that is so abysmally dismal.
what has this place/job really done for me? for starters, i met the most wonderful man here (who now occupies the position of ‘the husband’). i learnt what it was that i certainly did not want to do. i guess that’s not all that bad then. but one thing is for sure; never again will i do something that does not give me the meaning that i seek. never again a job that merely pays the bills and the rent. no more tiny cubicles that fetter my spirit.

i am going to stick my neck out… and see what i see.

Posted by Kavita Arvind at 5:05 PM 3 comments
Monday, September 3, 2007

11 days that play truant
another weekend's gone by. i have about 11 more days to go in pune.
it sounds like such little time when i put it down this way.
but i so wish it felt that way!i feel limbo, like i am caught between here and there. i am aware of every single day and hour that slinks by. it is such a drudge to bring myself over to work and go through the entire routine of the scores of mundane things that a typical day is made of. i have looked at the calendar about a trillion times already.
i have to get myself to work for 7 days more! that’s it!
and then there shall be new beginnings! new people, places! new conversations, new questions! new purpose!

i feel like a child who is waiting for school to begin, all her new textbooks and notebooks are wrapped in brown paper with bright labels, she’s got a new pencil box, with all the pencils sharpened to sharp points and a fancy new sharpener!

hmm. i can almost smell the lovely, fresh smell of newly printed ink and crisp, untainted white pages! my bags are packed, and now will these 11 truant days just march by quickly??!

Posted by Kavita Arvind at 9:01 AM 0 comments

ramblings from august 2007

Friday, August 31, 2007

damn this rhyme
here's a reason why i should stick to prose and not attempt any poetry. there must be a deep, intuitive reason why my parents named me what they virtue of some weird pavlovian conditioning... 'portry, pomes' and i dont stick...
sigh apologies for this pipsqueak juvenile attempt. blush.
be gentle my friends!

i am so bored i could throw a fit
looking at the calendar isn't helping a bit
each day crawls by annoyingly slow and deliberate
like the after taste of something nasty i ate
i twiddle my toes and sit and stare
but the day just hems and haws with scarcely a care

i try and give it a prod and a poke
hoping to jostle and rush the poor unsuspecting bloke
the day is as stubborn as a boulderand gives me an icy shoulder
the clocks, the tv, are all in this as wellthe cat, the stars, the moon and the doorbell
that line is just so completely arbit
i think i am going to have that fit

Posted by Kavita Arvind at 10:33 AM 0 comments
Wednesday, August 29, 2007

quote moi
you know you are most comfortable with someone, when you can lift your behind and break wind noisily right under that person's nose.

Posted by Kavita Arvind at 9:24 AM 0 comments

9 yards in a straight jacket
i don’t like sarees.ok. let me explain this further. i like sarees, but i don’t like wearing one.
if i wear one for twenty minutes, i become quickly exasperated. if i have to wear one for the better half of the day, i will indiscriminately bite any heads in the vicinity off and have them with some “fava beans and a nice chianti”.

of course it is a beautiful garment. in fact it is absolutely ingenuous. and we women look gorgeous in it. there’s no debate about that. it’s just not for me. i don’t know how to drape one. i don’t know how to walk in one. and i feel clumsy and stiff, like a trussed up stuffed goose in one.

you can imagine what a pretty picture i must have looked at my wedding.
as soon as possible i am going to dig a deep hole and bury my wedding album in it. in all the pictures, the husband is looking dapper and dashing in his suit, while i look frumpy, fat and frazzled, swathed in some gauzy, shimmery, slinky number. where is this tirade coming from you may wonder? well, all the ladieslog at work have a big thing for sarees. a couple of days back, varying means of gentle persuasion was used to try and convince me to wear one for raksha bandhan… so i wore a salwar-kameez-dupatta. this is the best i could do to continue to retain my near angelic disposition (why exactly are you smirking? yes. i mean you).

the ladieslog in my office are enthu cutlets when it comes to sashaying in sarees. any occasion and the rustle of silks and tinkling of bangles are done with alacrity.
i growled at r, when a feeble attempt was made to drape me in one, a month back. the office was doing some cultural day thingie.“i don’t have to wear a ******* saree to prove i am patriotic/indian or that i belong to/or even have any culture”, i yelled menacingly and went and wore my frayed jeans and dirty t-shirt to work.

i think the problem lies deeper. i figured it out. any form of organized group behavior gets me running in the other direction. i like people to think i am a genial soul who likes to belong, but detest any display of group behavior… some anomaly there must be in my head. either ways. them 9 yards?
they are not for me. if i could help it i would live in my old jeans and floppy t-shirt 24/7.

Posted by Kavita Arvind at 8:50 AM 6 comments
Monday, August 27, 2007

38 cardboard boxes
i have decided that snails have it much better. they can ooze about without a care, carrying their spiral homes snug on their backs. no baggage. no worries.
we humans on the other hand manage to fill our homes with scores and scores of things.
i understand the meaning of the word 'stuff' in its fullest sense now.

stuff is tons of indescribable, unclassifiable things that follows you around stuffed in cardboard boxes unto eternity.i wonder why we cant just do with memories... why does it have to be corroborated with stuff?
we are such rotten romantics at heart and like the silly bower birds we pile our lives with debris and tinsel from the past, holding on fast to faded pictures and jaded moments. we live lives as if we were eternal. perhaps there is no other way. we amass material things while our emotional quotient runs dry. we buy, consume, build and hoard in such a frenzy.
i remember the time when all my belongings would fit into two steel trunks and a suitcase. now i need a truck and a quarter. come vacations and we would empty our rooms in the hostel, roll up the mattress and label our trunks and drag them into the box rooms.
sometimes, on hot, lazy summer afternoons, the musty, thick smell of the box rooms comes seeping back to me. and the feeling it brings is difficult to describe.
it reminds me of empty corridors and muffled sounds. i can feel the sun scorching my skin again and hear vague footsteps and distant laughter. i was wondering why this memory is not happy. why does this particular memory make my head and heart feel heavy?
v and r both remember this smell and it fills them with the same unease too. i think it is because it reminds us of times, when in spite of the vigor and optimism of youth, we were unsure of what was coming next. or maybe it reminds us of the vitality that we had then and how hopeful we were, of how much we had to look forward to, our lives were only just beginning.
it reminds us perhaps, that we are now more fragile.

i like the way celine puts it in before sunrise, “i had this funny… well, horrible dream the other day. i was having this awful nightmare that i was 32, and then i woke up, and i was 23… so relieved… and then i woke up for real and i was 32.” poignant.

it is odd to see your home stripped bare. it looks naked, exposed and vulnerable, words echo and bound off the white walls as if they were seeking to belong. little things that were left for lost turn up in dirty corners, an earring that was removed in haste, a letter that was pressed into the pages of an old book, coins and bits of string, shadows remain where once hung pictures and warm, orange lamps.

it is essential i suppose… cardboard boxes filled with stuff are good things. they bear witness to the fact that you have so much to cherish, that your life has been so full of fondness, of people who have loved you and whom you have loved.

i have changed my mind. snails might not have such a good thing going after all. stuff is good. stuff means that you have indeed lived your life, and now have the courage to look at all that has gone by and say, “yes, this is who i am. the sum total of every moment lived with love and honesty, the flotsam, the weeds and the tinsel... are all mine.”

Posted by Kavita Arvind at 9:33 AM 1 comments
Wednesday, August 22, 2007

because we love...
i have been thinking lately of this seemingly innocuous word called ‘love’. a puny runt of a four letter world which assumes gargantuan proportions in our insignificant lives and pretty much cracks the whip and gets us crawling, begging for more. i understand the love that i feel for my parents. that’s easy to explain. it is there. it is. there is no threat to it.

but what about the entire notion of romantic love? here i am stumped. what is it that makes this different? fragile? and so much more alluring? i know you are saying it is the difference that comes with bonds that are forged by blood and bonds that we choose to make.

that’s interesting.
so what is given to me without having consulted me or my having anything at all to do with it, is more secure and permanent than what i willingly, pick and choose as my own. how the hell does that work? love. the word is so overrated and abused that it hardly ever comes easily to me even now. love. the more i say it, the emptier it rings.

let me try this harder. love. what does it mean when one says, “i love you”? no really. what does it mean? for some it means that “i am so ensconced within you that my every breath, waking and sleeping thought, my sanity, my delusion, the entire fabric of my universe is wrapped around you”. haven’t we all loved like that at least once in our life? i think love like this sucks the life breath out of you, but it is integral to evolving into a better human being. a necessary evil. (lets squeeze the air and the living daylights out of your poor little heart and lungs, so we can make some space for the new, improved you.)

for others it may mean, “i need to know you are well, at peace, living life by terms that are your own, that you are happy”. as simple as that. i admire love like this. it sparkles and skips so lightly and free.

for me, i guess it means that, “i like you so terribly much that i will look out for you as best as i can, i like looking at your face and all the flickers of thoughts that flit over it. i will defend you, yet be your biggest critic, expect the best and not settle for any less from you, the more i love you the more will you make me angry”. but i am drifting here. i was rambling about what this affliction is?

i think most of us confuse love with ownership.
i love it because it is mine.
i love it so it shall be mine.
i love it so it can be no one else’s.
in most cases this is the scenario i find.
i love because i am loved.
i think most of our floundering relationships begin this way. it is so flattering to be admired. somewhere i think we are bumbling little children who go about desperately seeking the assurance, attention and warmth that we found as infants, we go about looking for pseudo-parents in our partners, wishing and hoping that we will be held, hugged and taken care of once again. god knows it is hard to be an adult.
apart from the mysterious life force that wakes us up from the deepest of sleep every morning, love, is the only other fuel that keeps us alive. and i don’t mean this in a mushy sense at all.

we might bask in it or be cantankerous about it, be elated and smile at nothing in particular or be weighed down by sorrow and shun everyone else… we live, breathe, weep, puke, skip, dance, kill, seduce, conspire, dream, hope, falter, play, sing… because we love.

Posted by Kavita Arvind at 6:24 PM 0 comments
Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Bengalooru beckons
it is done. adieu to pune!
sometimes life gives you a well placed shove in the butt when you’ve gotten all cushy and quiet! might be a damn good thing too. new beginnings are always so exciting and intimidating all mushed together. while i am totally frazzled, and have made three long lists of all the things that i need to do, and thrown about six separate, elaborate temper tantrums and wailed and bawled about how i don’t really want things to change, i am now looking forward to this!

i am beginning to like the feeling of looking at the unknown. there is a nice, giddy smell of freshly baked promise floating around in the air.a very short acquaintance this was with pune.

the things that i will miss:
amma and appa of course. was nice having them in such close proximity.
R. terribly. what am i going to do without her? who’s going to make hot fluffy dosas and thenga chutney for her?
my adorable nutcases T and A; and all their clowning. aww.
S and all her plans of picnics in tekdis.
my plants. i have to give them away…yet again.
good luck café, keema pav and bread pudding.

my list runs out here.what about the things i will not miss? let’s try that.
here goes:
pune. least of all the plebian baner gaon that i live in.
my job! ha! it’s true! how liberating! no more blue and false straw-like mdf partitions and puneri marathis gibbering about dhoodhals, RLIs and LCs.
autowallah thugs and their, “half return lagega”, go sod off you saffron chaddis.
this list runs out here too.
now that i have put it down this way… looks like it’s a good deal i am giving pune the ditch. here’s to fresh starts and long winding roads and secret gates!

Posted by Kavita Arvind at 12:00 PM 4 comments
Friday, August 17, 2007

the first witch
the first witch.
she is dark skinned and wide eyed. she is beautiful, but in a rather rustic way. earthy. that would be an appropriate word for her.
she has a rather strange laugh, it begins as a giggle and then stutters and dances and sputters in a long burst like a stubborn motor than refuses to start.
she wears the strangest of clothes. a huge diaphanous short kurta, draw string pyjamas, a bandana, flip-flops, dangly ear rings and a long jhola bag.
she likes to eat with her hands. she likes the smell of wet earth. she collects the strangest of junk, bits and pieces of metal, mirrors, sequins, fabric and puts them all together to create unimaginably beautiful pieces of art.
she has the strength and stubborness of ten mules. she is exasperating, annoying and listens to nobody. she would have made a happy gypsy.
the first witch wants to be a free soul, but she spins a tangled web instead.
she likes the rain and the fresh, clean smell of wet earth, but she wades through murky, deep, dark waters instead.
with every step she takes, the first witch reaches a little closer to the precipice.
it is my turn to stir the spluttering cauldron.i turn for just one minute.
when i look back, i see her gone.

Posted by Kavita Arvind at 9:17 AM 0 comments
Thursday, August 16, 2007

a chair for freedom
i hate it when people say, "happy independence day", with their faces all cheery.
i can never think of an appropriate response, so i mumble something unintelligible and flash a rather forced smile back. whats so cheery about this day? i dont get it.
no country can be truly independent unless its people feel unfettered and free.
what has independence got to do with the countless women who carry water from the well thrice a day, carry 40 kgs of firewood home to be able to stoke the chulah and cook a meal, work in the fields, bathe and feed their children... and yet not be allowed to sit on a khatlo or even a chair, because only men have the right and the place to do so?
why am i talking about the villages?
my own neighbour, has built an ugly grill prison on his front door and the balcony, his wife is not allowed to keep a servant, she is not allowed to go out of the house without him, and on the days when she has her period, she cannot enter the kitchen.
i have seen her once or twice, she has two boys (i shudder to think what he would do if they were daughters), the children drive her nuts with their bawling. if i smile at her, she smiles back hurriedly and shuts her door at once.
she keeps a servant, but her husband doesnt know about it. the day he finds out, i dont think he would flinch before he struck her. and all of this is permissible and condoned in our free country.

i remember a small gathering that i had attended. about 30 women or so had come to the ahmedabad city center from nearby villages. we had arranged chairs all around the hall. i sat by at a corner listening as the women chatted and sang songs.
one of the women, kirtiben, was about 30 years old, but looked close to 50. years of childbearing, work at home and the fields had aged her. she stroked the arms of the white plastic chair, looked around and smiled, "i love sitting on this chair, it feels good".
i will never forget the expression on her face.happy independence day? what a laugh!?
freedom is a very personal word. it means different things to different people.
a chair for kirtiben, finding the strength to walk out of an abusive and failed marriage for v, a few minutes of rest stolen from a day of endless chores for my neighbour's wife...

for me, it is the courage to be rid of social mores and notions of stability, success and the 'right thing to do' and find meaning and consequence in what i do.
individual freedom.freedom from fear of failure and loss.
freedom from the shackles of roles and stereotypes.
freedom to seek newer roads and not necessarily arrive.
freedom to be.

Posted by Kavita Arvind at 10:29 AM 1 comments
Thursday, August 9, 2007

old scars in new dressings
i happened to flip through the pages of an old book, in which i wrote bits and scraps, which spans about 8 years. i realise that i have not changed all that much.
i am not sure if people change at all. at the very core, we remain intact. we react in pretty much the same ways to situations and people. we repeat the same mistakes.

'if you make a mistake once, you will make it again, if you make the same mistake twice, you are sure to make it a third time', i remember this rather ominous line that i read somewhere!
so essentially, though we may acquire some battle scars, lose a limb or heart, the way we are built, our core values remain the same.
we even use the same words, ask the same questions, wander about the same mazes. it is uncanny... maybe each of us is born with our own individual bunch of questions and the purpose of our entire lives is to blunder about trying to find answers to these unique, individual bunch of questions. "when will i find true love?"...
"what is my purpose?".... "why did that apple fall down to earth?"... "when will i be rich?"... "do aliens exist?"... or whatever.
in all this fumbling about mazes, nursing sore hearts or big dreams, we grow more wrinkles and spots, grow a thicker skin or just learn to hide our vulnerability better. but there never is a clean slate, is there?
unsullied, unprejudiced, unburdened. how long back was it that you felt that way?
i found some stuff i had written 5 years ago, on my way to work, in the andheri, fast local... they sum up how i feel even today.
if my bags were packed,
and the road beneath my feet, stretched on endlessly...
if i could stop for a moment, freeze this endless chase of trains, people and time,
i would like to feel the brush of grass beneath my back
look at the clouds that float so listlessly.
if there were no purpose, no trains to catch,
no destinations to arrive at,i would like to breathe...
if there was no fear, no memories of hurt,
if my heart was tranquil and my mind clear of the prejudices of the past,
i would like to love.

Posted by Kavita Arvind at 7:21 AM 4 comments
Wednesday, August 8, 2007

blob diary/ days six & seven
c'est finis!!
except for the minutest (entirely negligible) bit of cheating, i stuck to the diet.
with shaking limbs i tried on a pair of old jeans and a top that i used to ooze out of... and they fit! yippee! now the trouble is, how the hell am i going to keep the scales steadily stuck where they are? but what the heck! lets think about that tomorrow!
the first thing i am going to do is to get me some nice, luscious, sinful tiramisu...
ha! got you there!
and now finally i can stop writing the silly blob diaries and move on to other things of consequence.

Posted by Kavita Arvind at 8:16 AM 2 comments
Tuesday, August 7, 2007

for a raindrop
while i sit cloistered in this glass and concrete trap of earning my living, and hitch the mantle of adulthood, the air conditioner spews some more stale, moist air... and it rains outside.
the streets are washed clean and shimmery; and the leaves are a bright green. i can hear the urgent taps of the raindrops on the slide-shut-one way windows, it seems as if they were beckoning me.
what are the things i would rather be doing right now?
take a ride down to some reeky chai adda and have hot adrak chai with onion bhajiyas.
curl up in bed with a book and watch the curtains billow with the wind and feel the spray of raindrops on my face.
sit on the swing and let my bare feet feel the wet, fresh grass.
stand in the balcony and watch the world as it scurries by in bright raincoats, windcheaters and shoes.
float yellow paper boats in that muddy puddle.
sip a large mug of filter coffee and stare at nothing in particular.
listen to old songs and lie sprawled on the floor in the drawing room.
adulthood is the most terribly monotonous, tenuous, drab, overrated, constipated thing imaginable.
why do we grow up? and which moron invented jobs? and why should some printed paper dictate my life!?
and all those rainy day essays that we wrote in school?... lets bunch them up and burn them.

Posted by Kavita Arvind at 2:51 PM 2 comments
Monday, August 6, 2007

blob diary/days three, four and five
its been a totally lovely weekend!
r and i watched all our favorite films!
khatta meetha, choti si baat, rajnigandha, agantuk! lazed about, chatted our heads off, lolled about aimlessly, did some window shopping, strolled over to ccd in the evenings and sat sipping espresso shots, looking at the traffic and all the people.
the husband's away and these few days of good old 'singledom' have been pretty okay.
i get to watch all my favorite shows on travel and living with no interruptions of espn!
no fights over the remote!
all the rights angles at home are intact! not bad eh?
the diet's coming along rather brilliantly... i feel snug in my overly tight jeans today! yippee!
the scales dangle some exciting promises indeed.
day three was a veggie and fruit day which went very well.
day four was just bananas and milk and soup... i learnt to make some really nice soup and doled out large quantities to both r and myself (r's not one bit inspired by my abstinence and munches all the yummy chicken sandwiches and fried stuff right under my nose!
she does offer me a really tiny bit of every munchum she digs into, which is rather sweet.)

today is the day of tomatoes and rice.
now i am cheating a bit. i have made some tomato and onion subji which can be eaten with rice.
being a south indian i have a huge thing for rice. so i am a rather happy soul today with the only dampener being that it is a monday and the week's begun all over again...

Posted by Kavita Arvind at 9:24 AM 0 comments
Friday, August 3, 2007

blob diary/day two
all of yesterday evening i have been fantasizing about the boiled potato that i was to have for breakfast today... that is the sorry state of affairs and i have fruit coming out of my ears... yuk!out of sheer desperation, just to get the sickeningly sweet taste out of my system, i ate a spoonful of salt (and a tiny spoon of spicy sev, ssshhhh!).
i woke up early. fished around for a potato. found one unsuspecting little fellow and dunked him to boil! i love them aloos! can anyone put a number on the things that can be made with this rather nondescript looking thing? would be easier to do ballet.
just imagine... from hash browns to vodka!! all from aloos?!
visions of aloo chaat and fries dipped in mayonnaise whirled around in my head as i waited for the aloo to boil. i picked up the newspaper and read about dutt and the details of the state of the toilets and the items on the menu for the prisoners' daily meals.
if i ever committed felony and went to prison, or was captured by jehadis or aliens, or got lost in the amazon; my brain rationalised, it would be much, much worse.

so duly chastened i ate the aloo with the gusto of a recently liberated inmate of treblinka.
but hey! i feel good(can you hear james brown? thats how good!).
lunch is ready and cooling off in the fridge! tons of veggies all cut up and tossed with salt and pepper! this i can handle! this is cheesecake! (now why did i use that term?! eeps...
tremble...nice, soft, lemon cheesecake that melts in your mouth, the kind that you get at cafe churchill in colaba...). sniff.

Posted by Kavita Arvind at 9:23 AM 3 comments
Thursday, August 2, 2007

blob diary/day one
two unprecedented events of collosal proportions took place today!
i am on a diet (applause)... thank you (unprecedented event number one, this).
so today, which is day one, is eating-only-fruits-day... and i hate fruits from the depths of my paunch!
now for the unprecedented event number two... i got up at 7 in the morning and went to buy... fruit!now, if you know me, you would know about my strained relationship with fruit.
i would eat one, if it is forced down my throat. sigh.
me and r piled into a rick and went to the fruit market. i stood their looking terribly lost...see... fruit and i... we dont have it going.
r did all the expert poking around at the fruit and choosing the right ones. i came back home with a huge bag piled with the damn thing! on my way back i got whiffs of hot, spicy anda bhurji, fluffy poha and greasy bhajiyas being made in the roadside stalls... i looked steadily at the bag of fruit and summoned all my powers of discipline and strength.
so breakfast was fruit...lunch will be fruit...dinner will be... (brilliant!) fruit.
hey? didnt phantom do this? remember amar chitra katha's illustrations? phantom and diana and a couple of pygmies all sitting around eating fruit and the line at the bottom: the ghost who walks, a vegetarian, eats only fruit.
(if i say fruit one more time, i am going to gag) so, now r is being really nice and is sending me delectable pictures of food by mail every quarter of an hour. if i could just kill the woman! she says it will build my will power and will be a true test of my moral fibre.

yipes! did i just smell '.....'? somebody in office is eating an orange... gurgle.

Posted by Kavita Arvind at 10:27 AM 7 comments
Wednesday, August 1, 2007

mornings with kate moss
"wake up! go for a run! get up!"
"huh? what? do i have to?"
"yes! you are fat! get up!"
"i like being fat! besides whats the point? i am 30 and it is biologically okay to be fat at 30. i need to sleep! get off my back alright?"
"move your fat ass NOW!"
"shut up bitch! its just a bit of cellulite and its not all that bad, let me just sleep okay?"
"you are going to hate yourself in just one hour! just you see! grow 3 double chins and 3 more tires!"
"listen kate moss, get the hell out of here."
"i cant do that unless you run! somebody helllppp! get me out of here! i am trapped in this whale blubber balloon"
"let me break this to you gently... you are succumbing to the pressures of media, men, and all the stereotypical, highly regressive ways of thinking. cant you see?? these notions of sexy and hot and beautiful are male constructs that do us women in?!"
"uh huh? you have a waist of 32 and you can swap clothes with the husband... get that miss.beauvoir?"
sigh... these are my morning conversations with my alter ego... somebody go and shoot all these flat stomached, gorgeous, pre-pubescent chicklets please and clear the air and let the jiggly-wigglies in??!
kate moss... go eat an ice-cream.

Posted by Kavita Arvind at 8:23 AM 5 comments

ramblings from july 2007

Monday, July 30, 2007

we have gone and bought a bike.a rather mean looking one. every time we attempt to ride it, it rains. it really does.we had gone to the showroom, the husband and i, the day we were to get the monster home, i dutifully carried a camera all paparazzi like. with the dorkiness of a mushy, squished fruit, i hoped to take some pics of the husband's first ride on it.i eyed the bike with some suspicion as the husband's eyes misted over in a rapturous expression. he circled around it like it was some divine, mystical being.i looked on... i am objective about bikes."what should we call the bike?", he asked."candy", i mumbled for some strange reason (well the bike is a bright red and i was hungry)."sheesh! no!""reddy", i was being rather frivolous here."we need to figure out whether its male or female first", said the husband, ignoring all my bright ideas. "er... what?... like how?", i was intrigued, i looked at the bike carefully. i could see no such indications. so i said,"lets call it roopmati if she is a woman and ramprasad if he is a man". i got a very blank, deadpan look from the husband in response.we are calling 'him' storm. the clouds and my naari mukti morcha jhanda helped us decide.every time we sit on storm, the clouds go, "ha! lets get those two!", and shower us with a deluge of rain. i decided storm was a nice bucksome man, just out of spite at all these total morons who go about calling their bikes, "baby" and "honey" and liken them to us women! so there! you mcps, get a load of this!the next thing we did was even dorkier. we went and bought matching red helmets like teenagers high on endorphins.i have decided helmets are brilliant! nobody looks at you if you wear one! it gives you total anonymity! club that with a baggy jacket and you are practically invisible!what i mean is, men cant tell if you are a woman, and that ugly, ugly, male gaze just doesnt happen! gosh, men do look at women dont they? men look at women. men do not look at men. women look at women. women only discreetly look at men!but life's now terribly exciting, sore-pillion-butt notwithstanding. we've decided to zip by all the autowaala chors and show a finger at them and vanish in a blur and haze.stormchasers in red, bulbous helmets, nursing bad backs and sore butts, thats who we are...
Posted by Kavita Arvind at 7:38 PM 9 comments
Friday, July 27, 2007

the pursuit of utopia
it doesn't interest me if there is one god or many gods.i want to know if you belong or feel abandoned;if you know despair or can see it in others.i want to know if you are prepared to live in the worldwith its harsh need to change you;if you can look back with firm eyessaying "this is where i stand."i want to know if you know how to meltinto that fierce heat of livingfalling toward the center of your longing.i want to know if you are willingto live day by daywith the consequence of loveand the bitter unwanted passionof your sure defeat.i have been toldin that fierce embraceeven the gods speak of god... David Whytei found these lines in an old book in a moment of serendipity. have you ever wondered how it is that you stumble upon something meaningful in the oddest of places at the most opportune of times? everytime i read these lines it fills me with a vague unease... i find the lines inspiring, yet oddly disturbing.would you choose a life filled with intensity such as this?i am not sure if i would. not anymore... not again...why is it that it is only through pain that one can learn, evolve and grow?we test for deep waters by dropping a stone into it and watch it as it falls. does the same rationale apply to living as well? do we have to fall before we know the breadth and width of our skies, the span of our wings and the firmness of the earth beneath us?they say that some lessons need to be learnt... and events and situations will repeat themselves unless we have learnt from it, like children in a shuttered classroom, we repeat ourselves endlessly before the lessons are learnt by rote, only then perhaps can we get off from the dizzy, circuitous ride in the well of friend r says that passion and peace cannot co-exist... there is a thought here... if we are content and at peace, we are sedate; if we are restless, hankering after something, longing, pursuing something that we feel intensely for... then can we have peace as well?each of us pursues our individual ideas of utopia.
Posted by Kavita Arvind at 9:20 AM 0 comments
Wednesday, July 25, 2007

three colours grey
"doubt is an uncomfortable condition, certainty is even more ridiculous", says voltaire!this thought is like oxygen to my lungs! in a way i guess it reaffirms what i see, live and experience. i have always wondered about people who live life in pre-decided, focussed, black and white, clear terms. the kind that can give straight faced answers to questions like, "so where do you see yourself ten years from now," and also mean what they say!!! i cannot honestly remember a single moment in my life where i have been certain of my choices or decisions or where i was headed! i have always been racked with self doubt, uncertainty and layers of hazy, foggy greys. and all the people i love and consider within my circle of soul people are all, without exception, battling through their own murky fogs of despair, indecision and total confusion.i like to believe that confusion is a bloody good thing, it allows for you to wander around in circles and try and poke around at a situation from a couple of different angles... imagine, for a minute, that you knew exactly what you wanted, where you would get it and how to get there... you would head straight towards it, like a well aimed arrow, get it and be done with it... you wouldn't potter around aimlessly and look around you and hem and haw and try and walk down a couple of other roads, get totally lost, meet some fellow wanderers and hobnob with am i proposing here that a life of uncertainty is all exciting and unusual and thrilling? i like to think that i am a creative person and hence i am someone who thinks of the inbetween greys, it even sounds rather fancy and la-di-dah.but hell no! it is exhausting and tiresome to dwell in the mist!! most of my favorite mist-dwellers are seemingly, very cheery people, they blunder about all gregarious and have a good laugh at themselves, but beneath that sheath, lurks a dark, quiet cloud.certainty... the word's so heavy it just slides off my tongue. does the damn thing even exist? i think it exists on a plane where words like forever, yeti, eternal, unicorn, loch ness monster and permanence exist. i think they are a happy sort of family and take quick peeks at us losers, nudge each other in the ribs and go, "ha! the poor sucker... dream on."as tolkien puts it,"not all who wander are lost," and;"still round the corner there may wait, a new road or a secret gate."
Posted by Kavita Arvind at 8:53 AM 1 comments
Tuesday, July 24, 2007

conversations with a moment
i stumbled upon this treasure pressed into the dusty pages of a forgotten book... i cant help but feel a tinge of sadness when i see this picture. we were all so close to one another, there were no walls, no distances, no pretences... so much has changed over these years. my brother and i lost our innocence, the bonds between us glimmer, only faintly; my mother has lost the freshness and assurance of youth, though she remains as graceful as ever, appa has lost so much of his strength and the veerappan moustaches are now shot with grey.we have lost something here... yet bits and pieces remain intact in a fragile, connected way.i look at this picture and i can imagine the excitement of that evening. amma must have dressed us both in our best, my brother must have insisted on wearing that toy watch or maybe it was a real one, she must have oiled my brother's hair and combed it in place neatly, she must have given up in despair over mine and just stuck a few pins in, she must have chosen this sari, from the modest few that hung in that old godrej almirah, she must have put kohl in her eyes and tucked a few strands of malli poovu in her hair (she looks so beautiful, so serene... when did we drift apart?) ... appa must have ironed his shirt in his slow, meticulous way, polished his shoes until they shone just right.he must have kick started his white lambretta (which we called our white stallion) and my brother would have ducked between his arms and stood in the front, amma must have carried me on her lap, adjusting the pallu of her sari with simple elegance.we must have ridden to that studio in the bylanes of gariahat, with the wind in our faces.the photographer must have arranged us to sit in this manner, i would have squirmed and insisted on sitting on my father's lap, he has been and will always be the most wonderful man in my life.the moment that has been captured in this picture is so perfect. i wish reality came close to perfection like this... i like to look at our hands in this photo, there is so much similarity in the way we keep our hands in our lap! did the photographer ask us to do that? we look at the lens with such clear eyes and straight gazes... we look so beautiful together... like a family that belongs together, that will love and grow and thrive together...i dont think we have a single photograph of the entire family together over the past ten years... maybe more... though we remain connected to one another in a way that only blood ties can forge, we spin in seperate orbits, our lives have taken seperate tangents... it is inevitable i guess... how long has it been since amma put kohl in her eyes... since i hugged my father...since i sat next to my brother... since my eyes sparkled with such fearlessness and lucid innocence... how long has it been since a moment like this?
Posted by Kavita Arvind at 9:17 AM 4 comments
Monday, July 23, 2007

for a fistful of earth
i like it this time of the year... there is the promise of a shower and the wind carries with it the musty smell of wet earth. every tree, sapling and stray weed is dressed in the most dazzling display of green, the new leaves are a bright neon green, like noisy little children at a fair, the older ones wear rich, deeper greens, like quiet, dignified matriarchs and patriarchs, shaking their heads indulgently at the younger ones.i am beginning to understand why there is such a primordial connection between man and earth. we seek permanence, we seek something larger than our selves... something that will last much longer than our flesh and bones will... longer than our loves, longer than our children and their children... and land own a piece of the earth, to be able to call it our own, to find significance in that fistful of soil, to be able to plant our naked feet on it and feel the craggy pebbles and the grit under the soles of our feet... that must be something.i have lived all my life perched in a flat, these coccooned shells that we call modern housing. bombay takes this definition even further. the practicality of life and living in bombay does not allow for fanciful structures like verandahs. who's got the time to stand and stare?even these little spaces that allowed for some sky and green are quickly covered with iron grills and converted into storage spaces. this used to be a favorite preoccupation with me, while the 7:45 andheri, fast local shuttled and heaved through the city, i would stare at all the houses that zipped by me, i would look at the windows and the shuttered balconies stuffed with cycles, tires, plastic drums, trunks, bedding, tarpauline, clotheslines, old fridges, dalda cans... and wonder about the lives of the people who lived within.
well, i am glad i left that seductress behind, with all her glittering lights and sinous alleys.i dont know if i will ever be able to own a small plot of land, until then i have brought the earth into my home... and it is a sight that gladdens me every morning.

Posted by Kavita Arvind at 7:57 AM 4 comments
Sunday, July 22, 2007

been doing a spot of sketching... brought out those brushes after a long time, played some music and pottered around with colours. this one is a character i have been thinking of, meera, for a series on a little girl who grows up in simpler times...rather moronically romantic scribble this... the quintessential sunset... i like trees... they keep popping up in most of my sketches...
the husband and i... we carry our preoccupations with us...
Posted by Kavita Arvind at 10:43 AM 9 comments
Wednesday, July 18, 2007

dysfunction diagno(o)sed
i sat and twiddled my thumbs.i looked at the newspaper lying all awry on the table. looked away. i took three deep breaths and looked back. i tried auto-suggestion, self hypnosis and some rudimentary mental tai chi. it didn’t quite work...i found myself getting up, folding the newspaper neatly, along the right creases, removing the dog ears and putting it away in a stash. i adjusted the stash so it was all at right angles, made sure none of the newspapers stuck out.(now hang on a minute here... this is not normal. panic. am i ill?)as luck would have it, a couple of days later, while pottering around the wicked web, i stumbled upon ocpd!obsessive compulsive personality disorder. (cringe and squeak) i think i have it!i am obsessed with right angles, i like things that tessellate into grids, i like neat straight lines, i hate full ashtrays, i cant sit still if there are creases on the bed, wet bathrooms and muddy footprints give me huge ulcers. if i see anything lying around at an angle, i just have to get up and straighten it so it aligns parallel to something, before i can breathe regularly again. if i see chairs pulled out, i have to put them back in, pillows and cushions simply have to be patted back into place, at all times… gees, i feel sick just writing all this! i am a freak, can well imagine the toll this is taking on the husband. the husband prides himself on being an organized, clutter-free, cleanliness freak… until i came along and riddled gaping holes into his little pipe the time he’s smoked one cigarette, i have gone and emptied and washed the ashtray and put it away neatly in some corner; he’s just gotten up for three seconds to take a leak or stretch his legs, and i have rearranged all the cushions back into neat tessellations; he’s cooking and i am hovering over his shoulder, cleaning the kitchen platform every one minute… somebody just tie me up!!!the husband’s caught on real quick. we are in the middle of a heated argument, and we are just about to drop the cool, sarcastic, rational, tempered tones and launch into a screaming match (er… i mean, me screaming and the husband icy calm), it looks like i am going to win this round… when the husband casually leans over and spills some coffee deliberately on the floor… my senses take this is in, in a slow-mo-matrix like visual, i can see the drops falling on to the clean white floor, they go splot! splot! splatch! (like in those nat geo specials?), i see the stain spreading… the points i have scored in the argument go stutter and kaput, the next thing i know, i have got a cloth in my hand and i am on my knees cleaning the floor… the husband goes, “touchĂ©” and exits the argument with panache that puts johnny depp to friends have taken to calling me kavitybai. i am ribbed all the time about the disappearing ashtrays. the bums even come home and drag a finger on a forgotten, remote corner, and say, “just look at all this dirt, you forgot this spot”, and stand back and chuckle as i do the entire mopping routine again.this has got to stop i realize… i am tying myself into knots trying to ignore that fuzzy dust ball that is canoodling around the house, making graceful arches and twirls. i am trying so hard to ignore it, that all i can think of is, how hard i am trying to ignore it…
Posted by Kavita Arvind at 8:33 PM 3 comments

dont bogart that joint...
"dont bogart that joint, my friend, pass it over to me...," these are the opening lines of a song by the fraternity of man, featured in one of my favorite films, easy rider by dennis hopper.
the lines are so totally ripping! i ran a google on them and figured what bogarting a joint meant... remember the way philip marlowe would lean over, look through the crack of his eyes and slur all his words, while his cigarette hung from between his lips, gathering ash? typical bogart? thats where it comes from!!
totally super! continuing on the lets-gush-for-bogart-thing, i have been reading raymond chandler, who created the iconic figure of the private eye, marlowe. chandler is a master of this genre and 'the big sleep' was his first published novel.
the book i am reading, 'the high window' is peppered with wisecracking gems!
for instance... "i'm not tough, just virile."
here's another one... "his smile was as faint as a fat lady at a fireman's ball." ha!!
isn't that just priceless?
i am meaning to make a note of all these wisecracks and use them in my day to day conversations irrespective of whether they fit into the context or not.
bogie totally rules! i cannot imagine anybody else who could have given flesh to the character of marlowe, sam spade or for that matter, rick blaine (drool and slurp, this is cheesecake prime). me and r have watched casablanca about a dozen times already. everytime we watch it, our eyes glaze over and our faces asssume an expression that is akin to one of abject devotion and worship. we go limp when bogie slumps over his table, sloshed and slurs,"of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, she walks into mine."
a smart-assed toughie with a tinge of vulnerability, who drops wisecracks about as fast as he pulls a gun, with his loose tailored suits and slouching hats, terrible teeth and nasal drawl, the man's a dream... (sigh) pity this kind exists only in fiction.
Posted by Kavita Arvind at 8:40 AM 0 comments
Tuesday, July 17, 2007

monster house
its 7 in the morning and i drag myself out of bed, the doorbell jangling in my ears. as i groggily open the door, two little giggling streaks sweep past me, race around the drawing room and leap onto the bean bag with a resounding thump! the bean bag groans, it has begun to resemble a tomato thats been caught in the blender, my sleepy brain bai and her entourage have arrived.the entourage consists of two little persons; a very small person with a perfectly angelic brown face, bright eyes and jet black hair, that hangs about her face, the other, is a small person, who is an older, little larger, (seemingly) quieter replica.i dont quite know how events took a turn like this, but i have a nagging feeling that i have made a rather substantial contribution to it, while my bai scurries about the house, sweeping and swabbing at the speed of light, i am baby sitting the two small persons.initially the two SPs were rather shy and would sit still, making big eyes at me, the husband and the things around the house.lately the SPs have taken to running around the house and competing with each other as to who can take the more daring leaps onto the battered bean bag.when they are not engaging in training for these long jumps and high jumps, they play war and counter attack games, the cushions serving as missiles, they follow me around giggling at my every move, when they tire of this, they put on their sweetest expressions and ask me to turn the tv on, so they can watch cartoons. if i refuse, the SPs begin a sort of chant in squeaky, whiny tones, "tv chalu kara na? tv chalu kara na?"you can well imagine the toll this is taking on my nerves. i have a mild version of OCPD (and i dont even have jack nicholson's sex appeal, sheesh) and prefer things that are placed perfectly at right angles, order and clutter give me huge, mishapen much so that i have begun to dread the morning jangle of the doorbell.i turned to the husband, hoping he could install some order, being the 'man-of-the-house' and all that. it turns out that the husband is a total softie, one well-aimed, big-eyed expression from the SPs and the husband gets all knock-kneed and jellied."you were the teacher, you handle them", is the response i get.its all upto me now, i will just have to ask the bai, not to bring the SPs with her. all along i am wondering what a bitch i am and how could i possibly be so insensitive, "they are just little ones", my conscience rubs in for good effect, "they are demons!!!! helpppp!!", screams my rational brain. while my brain clouds over with this conflict, the husband decides to be helpful, "what if they were your own kids, huh? would you get this upset?""if they were my own kids i would turn them over and beat them blue!", i growl."i told you we were not ready for kids, this just proves it", the husband beams that exasperating, i-won-this-round-smile and ducks into the computer, leaving me sputtering for breath and searching unsuccessfully for a suitable rejoinder.there goes the doorbell... eeps... courage, courage...
Posted by Kavita Arvind at 8:07 AM 2 comments
Friday, July 13, 2007

vajradanti tales
i have been in mortal fear of the brood called dentists for some time now.may i add that the fear cannot possibly be all that misplaced. see, fiction is borne of facts. now that this premise is established... i present my next argument.several years back, when my mind was still impressionable, i happened to watch a horror film. let me admit here that by nature, i am actually quite a phattu. for all that bravado and attitude, if faced with clear and present danger, you would probably find me sitting squat and still, knees trembling, with my hands over my eyes, hoping it would all just disappear.much as i would like to imagine that i am a tight-assed-svelte-butt-kicking-electra, the truth is far removed.i was alone that day and while switching channels came upon this hoppping mad dentist who, after strapping his patients to the chair, would butcher them with chain saws and some weirdass, awful, malicious contraptions. the film of course revelled in gore and spouts of blood.the idea struck home and stayed... i have never been to a dentist since then. the last i went to a dentist was when i was five. i avoid them like the plague. the concept of having to lie down on that chair, surrounded by strange equipment, turn my head up and open my jaws wide enough so some cold, steely equipment can be inserted into it, is clearly masochistic and certainly not on my list of pleasurable things to do in the evening.until a few days back.i am getting them wisdom teeth...these little calcium monsters are vestigeal third molars. meaning the damn things were of some use when our anthropoidal ancestors hadn't discovered the culinary benefits of fire and had to rip and chew foliage. they have no other use today except to be a nuisance, and cause smart people to make inanely unwitty remarks.scenario 1:"hey, what happened? you look under the weather"."nothing, just a toothache, wisdom teeth, you know"."Achha, matlab now finally you are getting some akkal haan?"will somebody tell these smart-asses how totally uncool this is?!scenario 2:"oye, chal lets go eat some pani puri"."i cant, got a toothache, wisdom teeth yaar. besides i got a lock jaw, cant freaking open my mouth"."(many chuckles) guess what else that is going to rule out! (maniacal laughter)".i rest my case.can we put these nutcases in a straight jacket and gag them please?i had to drag my trembling knees over to a dentist. and as i sat quivering jelly like on the dreaded chair, i took in all the steely prods and pokers (no chain saws or hack saws, i noticed). this rather jolly, rotund woman with a backside that would put noah's ark to shame came waddling over.this was a little re-assuring, i must very maternal tones (i mean my amma's strict, no nonsense tone), she asked me to open my jaws, flashed a light into the caverns, and announced the verdict.the offending little bastard would just have to come out, it had 'impacted' into my gums. how soon can i come in for an x-ray, so that we could then surgically remove the tooth?i almost passed out.i put on my best brave face, said i would be back as soon as possible, picked myself out of that chair and scuttled out at the speed of light.angel face or not, no one's going poking around my jaws (stop that vivid imagination you corny lot). i am on painkillers now... maybe i should just wait for that tooth fairy.
Posted by Kavita Arvind at 7:34 AM 2 comments
Tuesday, July 10, 2007

it's a bird... it's a's...
incredible as it may seem, i fell in love for the first time when i was 4… to add further incredulity to this statement… i fell in love with superman (blush, hey i was 4).i would insist on staying up at night, watching the night sky, convinced that superman would appear in a blur of red and blue and take me away (honest).i was sure that he would eventually forget lois lane and we would live happily together zipping around the galaxies (mild exaggeration here, i admit).finally, out of sheer frustration, my sleep deprived parents hatched a morning, when i woke up i found a small, gaily wrapped package near my pillow. i opened it and found (i don’t know what you call these) a word and number game. the kinds that have lots of plastic alphabets and numbers that you could stick onto a perforated plastic sheet to form words. you can imagine that though i was rather intrigued by the magical appearance of this box, i was not entirely thrilled. so i went up to appa and asked him about this.appa said, “last night after you fell asleep, superman came looking for you in the verandah”, i gaped at appa, thrilled, “he gave me this package for you and asked me to not wake you up, he also said that he was really busy these days and will not be able to come and see you.”i looked at the package with devotion and held it tight. then suspicion sneaked in. “how did he know i was asleep if he was standing in the verandah?” i demanded to know.“arre, he used his x-ray vision na?” appa said without a moment’s hesitation (now i know whose dominant genes i have inherited and why i have turned out like this).i was convinced.i have played so much with these little plastic letters and numbers.i think i owe my entire vocabulary and ease with words to this little fabrication and peppering of reality done by the parents!so for a very long time, superman it was who was firmly lodged in my heart…i did not even mind the flashy underwear that he wore.when i was older and a little better informed, my ardent devotion shifted to christopher reeves. sigh… what a totally bootiliciuos, perfectly edible piece of humanity this man was. for this man… i would break my marriage vows (er… husband… if you are reading this, remember that the man is long deceased… and turn a blind eye to this indiscretion please?).(isn’t it one of life’s ironies that the man who played the embodiment of strength, courage and perfection should end up paralysed in a wheelchair in the prime of his life?... but then this is stuff of another post).now at the ripe old age of 30, after a series of not-so-nice-men and some very-nice-but-botched-timing-men, i have come to the conclusion that both santa claus and superman should be allowed their existence… if nothing else, it makes the possibilities of the night sky more interesting and (you must agree) red underwear sure looks good.
Posted by Kavita Arvind at 1:01 PM 4 comments
Monday, July 9, 2007

my own dapple green
if there was a tree for everyone of uswhich one would be mine?the knobbly stray with lilac buds,the big oak with the owl in its hollows,or the champa, with her white blossoms?
Posted by Kavita Arvind at 3:56 PM 2 comments

cinema of the soul
maybe in the next decade or so indian cinema will snap out of its coma, wiggle its toes and awaken to the fact that cinema about children or for children need not be childish.why do adults underestimate the intellectual capacities of younger people?whether it be baby talking, “oogie, woogie, my litttul cootie-poo”, or filling their brains with useless clutter and mumbo-jumbo about their own (the adults’) misgotten sense of good or bad?if bollywood and indian television are to be believed then our children are all cute, little pink, fluffy things that stand up, and in endearing, syrupy tones say, “I love you daddy”, every three minutes. (gag)if the reader is wondering why this raving tirade?i watched yet another iranian masterpiece yesterday… i find iranian cinema as refreshing to the soul as hot, freshly, baked bread with a big blob of butter, dipped in of my favorites is ali talebi's, ‘bag of rice’. a simple story about a four year old and her friend, a 70ish old woman, who go out to buy a bag of rice.yesterday, i watched, ‘turtles can fly’, an iranian film by bahman ghobadi, set in the iraqi-turkish borders in a refugee camp.what i like about this film is its lack of syrup, and the near absence of any controlling adults. the children, with their grimy, unwashed faces and total lack of guile, carry in the baskets on their backs, unexploded mines, not turtles…once you have noticed that, you notice some of the children carry crutches, and agrin never smiles… i am not going to write anymore about the film… i think it is best watched, imbibed and ruminated over certainly is a reminder to us cushy asses that yes, we do have a lot of candy fluff and we are mighty lucky…that there is a world beyond potter… and for all those who thought koi mil gaya, krrish and chain khulii ki main kulii were great children’s films, go buy yourself a barbie or something.
Posted by Kavita Arvind at 12:17 PM 0 comments
Friday, July 6, 2007

naked (do you have my attention now?)
she was dressed in a flimsy white bra and black panties, brandishing what looked like a baseball bat. i almost spilled my coffee when i saw her. i could not take my eyes off her face. her face was arresting, frozen in agitation and anger. her eyes were open very wide, and her hair hung around her face. i spotted a mangalsutra around her neck.a 22 year old from rajkot had to strip to her underwear to be taken notice of…i looked in shock and horror at the photograph that stared at me from the morning newspaper. the picture also had a couple of men in the background on a scooter; they had leering smiles on their faces, as they looked on as if they could not believe their luck at the sight that greeted them.who is this child-woman? what drove her to do something like this? i have not been able to stop thinking of her. i can almost feel the rain and the damp on my skin, the gravel under my feet, i can hear the honking of cars, i can feel the jostle and push of a hundred gaping men, i can feel their lewd eyes rake my skin…she was harassed and abused, her complaints to the police had gone day, she took off her sari, blouse and petticoat and paraded down the streets…i am amazed at her courage.and i feel sick to be part of a world that coerces a young woman to resort to nakedness to be heard, and then indulges in abject voyeurism.why am i so disturbed? do i not subscribe to the sanctions of the same society? would i be willing to disown it and live in its fringes?we watch semi nude women in our films and music videos all the time, we even hum along and not bat an eyelid. we live in a society that permits this, but is outraged by a girl's desperate attempt at protest.for all my progressiveness, i am no different... i am ashamed of myself.what are these times that we live in... where little girls lead a cloistered life because the people need a goddess; where women are branded witches and paraded naked, lynched; beautiful young faces sell soap and detergent or shampoos; when did our bodies become our identities?the weaker sex, the fairer sex, the second sex, the better half, the venusians, mothers, daughters, sisters, wives, sirens, saints, goddesses, witches, bitches, victims, martyrs ... screw all these labels, the stereotypes and expectations that they bring with them...we are just heart goes out to that girl who marched in the rain...
Posted by Kavita Arvind at 4:48 PM 4 comments
Wednesday, July 4, 2007

arbitrary conjectures of a delusory mind
when we were younger and had more courage, we had simpler explanations for fall, you scrape your knee, your knee hurt. simple cause and visible effect.we had the courage to pick ourselves up and brush the grit out of our scraped knees and run again… as we grow older, we grow more fragile, our hearts feebler and our spines wilt with past disappointments and craggy remnants of fear.i realize how arbitrary life is.every once in a while we stumble upon a coincidence or find connectedness and we re-assure ourselves that there is still divinity, hope, and effect follows cause follows effect, in an endless chain of smoke rings…in all this bumbling about we even find a warm spot to stay in for a while. we find this is not a word i use freely.for some time, i could never say this word. it would get jammed in my throat or coat my tongue like the after taste of a particularly nasty pill.and now, when I linger in this little spot of warm, the unease too lingers like a persistent deja and i have made our acquaintance, several times over… and i see her for what a bitch and a delusional rush she can be.i realize how arbitrary love is.if you have it, you wane to its importance, if you don’t, it consumes you with longing for it, it teaches you to crawl, beg and suffer every humiliation and indignity, it lulls you into a coma of smug, complacency, it eludes you, deludes you, empties you, you chase after it or it chases after you…i realize how arbitrary the chase is.does staying put help? or does one just have to take longer strides?what happens when you have outrun the chaser? does it get lonely at the finishing line? is there a finishing line at all?what if you have caught up with the one you are chasing? what do you do then? sit down and have some tea? what after that?i realize how arbitrary speculation is.the only truth that i have, is this one moment. the only constant is right now.and now is a good enough place to be...
Posted by Kavita Arvind at 4:57 PM 8 comments
Tuesday, July 3, 2007

the quiet of the day's end
at day's end when all witticism fades, and the false cheer ebbs, there is very little else. we return to our lives of endless details. the woman in the mirror seems stranger today, more distant, even remote, like the hazy imprint of an old dageurotype. she is fickle, this smells of mothballs and old, dusty pages, this evening... it must be the rain... the trilling of a hundred frogs weaves a blanket into the damp, night sky. the blades of the ceiling fan hum a staccato tune. but there is also quiet. the quiet of the day's end.
Posted by Kavita Arvind at 8:54 PM 3 comments
Monday, July 2, 2007

crumbs, bits and zilch
i am consumed by panic that this blog will wilt and die and turn into a 'ghost blog'. i read about these today... abandoned blogs that float around the web like jaded rubber ducks. they have a name for every bloody thing, these postmodern floozies! what if this was just a short burst of self-assumed-genius and the truth is that i am just some sad, fat bitch in the middle of a mid-life-crisis with a few good friends? over the past few days, i have been trying so hard to write, but just could never get around to it. i find myself looking at an empty screen, the cursor blinking... obstinate, dashed line going twink, twink... the words just never arrive. its going to be easy to brand this as the writer's block, blame it on the rain, on pre/post menstrual stress, on my non-existent pet fish, but i am not indulging in such misplaced vanity. i intend this blog to be honest... if it is to be a drudge at times, so be it, i am nobody's performing monkey and life's no feature length movie either. but i am going to sit my ass on that chair and drum out something everyday... got to write. got to write...
Posted by Kavita Arvind at 8:39 PM 4 comments

why the ostrich has a bald head and other questions?
I wrote this story a good while ago, it is an adaptation from kipling's 'just so stories'. I intended this to be a children's tale... but the story decided to tell itself...In the high and far of times, O best beloved, there lived an elephant, wrinkled like a prune with a bump for her nose. They called her Chinnamooku, for she was little. In her wrinkled belly were a lot of questions, all wriggling to break free, Chinnamooku was full of insatiable curiosity you see.She asked her aunt, the Ostrich why she had a bald head, her uncle the Giraffe, why his neck was so long, her cousin, the Cheetah, why he was so spotty, the Snail, why she carried her house around, until she got spanked by each and every one of them.But Chinnamooku’s insatiable curiosity grew larger with each spanking.One day, best beloved, a new wriggly, extra wiggly question jiggled in her belly.“What does a crocodile have for dinner?”, then everybody said, “Husssshh”, in loud stern voices and spanked her immediately!You see, in a pond nearby, there lived Morattu Modalai. Morattu Modalai, was a crocodile who wore a frown. He was an unusual croc and not one bit like a rock.They say, he wore a smile once, until one night, his smile slipped, somersaulted and became a big, clinging frown.Best beloved, let’s call the croc Morattan for short, shall we?Morattan had big, bushy eyebrows, like two, sleepy, fuzzy caterpillars catching a nap in the sun. In his favorite corner, he perched, swishing his tail, surveying his pond… always in the same corner, did he perch, best beloved!Chinnamooku, meanwhile, could not contain her insatiable curiosity any longer and set out to find out what the crocodile has for dinner. She took with her seventeen bananas and four melons, which she ate on her way.Now, you understand, O best beloved, until that day, Chinnamooku had never seen a crocodile and did not know what one was like. On her way, she met Paambu, all of 62 meters of coils and hisses. She finished her fourteenth banana and threw it way, for she could not pick it up, and asked Paambu, “have you seen a crocodile?”Then her insatiable curiosity got the better of her and many questionlets wiggled in her belly. “Why is your tongue forked?” she asked.Yes! Best beloved, she got spanked. How clever of you to guess?!So she went on her way, swaying her ears until she stepped on a big log of wood in the shallow end of the pond. The log blinked an eye and raised a shaggy, fuzzy, black eyebrow.Can you imagine, Morattan’s surprise when he saw a little, dumpy elephant with a bump for a nose and a question-filled wiggly, belly?“Excuse me, said Chinnamooku, as politely as she could, “but have you seen a crocodile in these parts?” Morattan raised his other caterpillary eyebrow at what he thought was a rather foolish question, and also his flaily, scaly, tail for effect.But best beloved, Chinnamooku was not scared, she had never seen a crocodile before, remember? “Oh, your smile has slipped and somersaulted”, she said, much to Morattan’s surprise. Nobody had looked at him long enough to make such a remark, no one else had been so unafraid, you see?That angered Morattan Modalai, so he opened his jaws wide and clamped them on Chinnamooku’s bumpy nose, thundering in his deepest, frowny rumble, “I AM THE CROCODILE!”How do I describe to you what happened next, best beloved? Chinnamooku pulled and pulled and Morattan pulled and pulled.The coconut trees that lined the pond quivered, the water in the pond churned and turned. For seven months and three nights, Chinnamooku and Morattan pulled and pulled.Until one day, they both fell back in exhaustion. The water turned still and the coconut trees stood up straight.Chinnamooku sat on her haunches with a bump and looked at her reflection, her jaw fell open and all the wriggly questions in her belly poured out in a tumbled heap. Her nose had stretched and pulled till it looked like a trunk!She could flick it around and shoo a fly, pick up more melons to eat, use it like a straw and drink water, even throw slush over herself to cool off a bit.Morattan Modalai, sat back on his thorny tail and looked down into his pond. The somersaulted smile had somersaulted again. His frown was replaced by a grinny smile.They studied each other in the stillness of the once churned, much turned, pond.I don’t know how the story ends, best beloved, some say that Chinnamooku and Morattan Modalai looked at one another for so long that time turned them into stone, the tumbled questions were picked up by the wind and scattered onto the four corners of the earth, some others say that Chinnamooku and Morattan each went their way and the waters of the pond remain calm until this day.That, best beloved is the story of Chinnamooku and Morattan Modalai as I choose to tell it, while the wind still whispers, and an odd ripple lingers in the pond….
Posted by Kavita Arvind at 5:34 PM 3 comments