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Category Archives: Ponderings

Galahad

I shifted the car into second gear and pressed on the accelerator. Just a little to make the car go faster. It was only my second or third time and I didn’t want to have to call my dad and cry about having had an accident. I wasn’t entirely sure that even if I did, if he’d be more worried about the car than me.

A van swung into the road ahead of me, moving very slowly. “Speed up, ya bastard,” I said, enclosed by windows and the AC and the music running full blast. Shockingly, he didn’t hear me and heed my advice.
We went down the hill away from my house and then the hill started to rise again. “Quickly, idiot, I don’t want to shift back to first gear.” Barely seconds later, I shifted into first. Safe than sorry right?

A couple of seconds later, the absolute idiot moron fool of a donkey stopped. I wanted to bite the steering wheel. We were so close to the lip of the slope. MOVE!
He started to move and I started to let the clutch breathe a bit. And….nothing?
The car stalled.
I turned the ignition, holding the clutch down, and then started to release.
Stalled.
Ignition, clutch, release.
Stalled.
Horns started up behind me. Now I was the idiot on the road.
Ignition. Clutch.
Stalled.
Ignition. Clutch.
Stalled.

I rolled down the window and motioned for other people to go around me. I felt like a fool. But there wasn’t a choice. A few cars made their way past me. And I let the car roll back down the hill, figuring I could maybe do it better with a headstart.
Ignition. Clutch.
Stalled.
I felt the tears well up. I was an idiot after all. No wonder I hadn’t learned to drive all these years. I was a fool. All the men muttering “Lady driver” and zooming past me were right. I was a moron.

I looked up and saw a tall, slim guy in khaki board shorts walking towards my forlorn car. I braced myself. I was going to get yelled at. He motioned for me to pull down the window and my mind flipped through the expressions of “Imperious” and “Helpless”, ready to use either one.

He smiled and said, “Hi. Turn off your AC. Give it some gas and it’ll work.”
I stared at him. “What??” He repeated the sentence.
Oh my God! The car stalled when the AC was on! I turned it off. And while releasing the clutch, pressed the accelerator down cautiously. The car moved forward smoothly.

I turned the corner of the slope and wondered how to thank him. He came up the slope and motioned to his car parked there. I leaned across the car, the seatbelt nearly strangling my middle, and gasped out, “Thank you! Thank you so much!” He waved at me and smiled.

I released the clutch. The car stalled.
I was mortified. The stupid car stalled twice more before I was able to pick up the tattered remains of my dignity and calm and drove half a kilometre down, stopping at a signal. I looked to the side, and it was Mr Board shorts. He motioned for me to pull down the window again and I did. “Use the handbrake. Put it on, then press the accelerator and then unbrake once you’re moving.”
I smiled at him and thanked him again. When the light turned green, he went ahead.

And since then, I’ve been a little bit in love with my Sir Galahad, knight in shining chrome for distressed driving damsels everywhere. I doubt I’ll ever see him again or be able to find him. But thank you so much. I cannot say that enough.

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Posted by on April 1, 2014 in Ponderings, Raves

 

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Why

Why didn’t they tell me I was pretty?
Why did they always make me feel ugly?
Why did they always tell me I couldn’t get more, while making me feel like less?

The cruelest punishment of all – is to see yourself as others saw you before – and realise that you allowed yourself, your time and your life to be wasted. To be changed and transmuted as others wanted – because you didn’t believe or know more of yourself.

To look back – and see the images of yourself, hear the witnessing of your own possibility – and realising that you allowed others’ voices to drown out yours, to squelch your own and to convince you that your own was not worth hearing – this is a heavy cross.

And to look back – and realise you’ll never get those years back.
You’ll never be able to reclaim that lost potential.
You’ve squandered the glow you once had – given it up for the delusional embrace of cynicism and pessimism.

Sartre said that “Hell is other people.”
Purgatory must be when you’ve allowed other people to passively live your life for you.

 
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Posted by on June 13, 2013 in Ponderings, Rants

 

Doubt.

Doubt is that voice in your head that fears.
Doubt is mostly feeling.
Doubt disguises itself as a white-hot lightning strike of anger when you’re going through what Doubt warned you about.
Doubt is feeling hopeless about ever moving on.
Doubt is that vicious satisfaction when you’re right about something bad.
Doubt is despair about whether you can ever just want the good things again.
Doubt is that voice in your head that gives fear a permanent lease.

 
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Posted by on April 12, 2011 in Ponderings

 

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Birthday cake.

When I was 10 or 11, I can’t remember which, I had a birthday party.
There were mini idlis, samosas, pav bhaji, chips, dahi vada – all home made, this being the conservative Gulf, money being fairly tight in a three-child family and house parties being the only arena where stay at home housewives could do something, anything to shine and feel different.

In the midst of all this food, admittedly awesome because my mom was a brilliant cook although she hated it, (maybe that was the secret) my friends and I only had eyes for the birthday cake.

After taking a much saved-up for baking class, my mom had practiced a lot and with her best friend Sunita’s help and oven, had created this masterpiece of a cake for my birthday.

For once, I didn’t sulk and moan that no one loved me. I didn’t complain that my parents loved my brother and sister more than me. That cake made me feel like an only child.

It was beautiful. The cake was in the shape and form of a small wire basket with a lid, and flowers and vines spilling out from the lid. To my 10 year old eyes, it was even better than the Barbie cake the bakery always had out in its window.

It had taken my mother and her friend 2 days of back-breaking work to do. Two layers of cake, creating and freezing the sugar icing flowers, piping and freezing the even more delicate icing for the wicker-basket effect on the cake, freezing some more icing so that it became stiff and could be cut in the shape of a handle for the basket, using a paintbrush to delicately paint velvety texture on to the petals of each flower….I can’t even remember what else.

Sometimes I wonder what made my mother do it. Was it an urge to prove something? To my dad? To herself? To the neighbours? To her housewife competition? Who?

Once the cake was half done, it was deposited on the dining table for the finishing. We weren’t allowed to go near the cake for more than a day. I kept staring at it with greedy eyes throughout from almost 10 feet away in the sitting room, almost afraid that I’d blink and it’d be gone.

In the actual party, I was the envy of all my friends. Such a beautiful cake. So many flowers. So lucky you are, your mummy loves you so much and spent so much time on this.

By that time, after seeing my mom clutching her aching back, by seeing how much effort went into something that was demolished within 3 minutes, I could only look on numb as people sang happy birthday and I cut into the cake that had taken 2 days of my mother’s life. I bit into the cake, but couldn’t taste it. Melodramatic I know, but all the adults there had told me how grateful I should be and by the end, I was choking on everything.

It was only later, after the guests had gone, and I had cried and apologized to my shocked mother for making a fuss and making her make this cake, and she’d held me and assured me that she wanted to do it all, that I could finally taste the chocolate.

I gathered the only things left –  the flowers and vines and stored them in a box, taking them out every day for almost a week, licking each sugar flower as delicately as my mother had painted it, sharing them grudgingly with my siblings.

I doubt I’ll ever put in that much effort for my (future) children. That kind of labour of love – for it can’t be called anything else.

And today, I saw this video – of this guy who created an actual, working (so to speak) Angry Birds cake for his son. And I thought, “Oh, I’d definitely do that. Someone would need to show me how to turn on a bloody oven, but DAMN that looks like fun!”

It also looks like a lot of work.  This man painstakingly creates a cake that looks like a level of the game Angry Birds – birds, pigs, grass, brick – the whole caboodle. And then calls his son in, and they PLAY THE DAMN GAME – demolishing the cake.

My parents would have KILLED me if anything had happened to my cake. To be fair, it wasn’t that kind of cake or that kind of generation. I don’t think anyone at that time would have thought of creating a cake you could destroy BEFORE eating.

When you see the video, you realize that this took enormous effort too. But things have changed. My generation is a lot more irreverent and indulgent than my parents’. And I guess it shows in big ways and smaller ways like this.

Watching the family hurl the sugar icing birds around, I could only think of my little plastic box with the sugar flowers hidden in the back of our cavernous fridge for an entire week. And wonder if this kid too would get a lump in his throat when he thought of his birthday cake years later.

 
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Posted by on February 24, 2011 in Nostalgia, Ponderings

 

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Shut up everyone.

Before you criticize someone, you should walk a mile in their shoes.
Let’s amend this to say “Before you advise someone, think twice. Walk a mile in their shoes. And think a couple more times.”

Why can’t people mind their own business? Everyone wants to advise you and tell you how to do things.

It’s ridiculous.
I’M going through the situation, I’M reacting to it, I’M living with it on a day-to-day basis, sometimes on a minute-to-minute basis. And YOU want to tell me what to do?

It’s (sometimes) bearable when you ask for someone’s advice. But let’s face it. When you ask for someone’s advice, you’re not really asking their for their opinion. You just want them to ratify your opinion.

In which case, listening to someone drone on about a situation you already find unbearable, is..well, unbearable.

Everyone’s entitled to an opinion. Well, now that should be “Everyone is entitled to an opinion. And the person you’re airing it to, is entitled to tell you to keep yours to yourself. “

 
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Posted by on November 30, 2010 in Ponderings, Rants

 

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Zhop.

The Marathi word for sleep.

When does Mumbai sleep?
Is it in that tired, post-alcoholic hazy hour between the last clubber going home and the first worker venturing out?

Is it after lunch and before chai, after bellies are filled and before cutting chai cravings are upon us?

It’s not any time between 4 and 12, when bellies are constantly being filled and throats are being un-parched.

Does Mumbai snatch forty winks between clubbers and diners after 12?

Is it after 2 or 3 when most people go home and the city belongs to the sea breeze?

Or is it before 5 am, before the smell of brewed cutting chai takes over the sea breeze’s empire and makes Mumbai its capital city?

It’s not anytime after 5 am – when Mumbai surges to life and flows like a river after the monsoon in all directions.

Or maybe Mumbai is a zombie and doesn’t zhop.

And in this land, where do I fit in? Should I even try?

 
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Posted by on November 26, 2010 in Ponderings

 

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Miss Match

I don’t miss the constant rain.
I don’t miss the cold, the waking up with heel pain.
I don’t miss the traffic jams, the sore butt with sitting on my bike all the time.
I don’t miss the needle sharp rain on my face and neck.
I don’t miss the pedestrians addled with mad fool disease.

Do I miss lazing in the morning under my warm, cozy rug?
Do I miss mom’s cooking – the comfort of knowing that you’re in your own house and can do what you want?
Do I miss walking through my house, my comfy home slippers slapping against my heels?
Do I miss eating what I want, whether light or heavy?
Do I miss eating vegetables I can identify and know the names of?
Do I miss my dad puttering around the house, stealing my bookmarks?
Do I miss quiet mornings?
Do I miss home?

Is it that obvious?

 
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Posted by on November 26, 2010 in Ponderings

 

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