Mercy, it’s a weekend

Aww, it’s a Monday again! I have heard that dreadful sigh so many times, every Monday. The only cheer is if it is someone’s birthday or I’m going home that following week. It’s only a Tuesday, damn! The week is so darn slow, only if we realised how cunningly time flies and how ouch it hurts when you know you have not accomplished much in that useless period, except watching people around you and commenting mundane random stuff which is of no significance to whom it may concern. It’s a crisis when Wednesday arrives, you don’t know if you should be happy on the edge of the cliff of a weekend away and the feeling of being right in the middle of the nowhere of a week! According to my roomie, Thursday is the most irritating day in a week, why? Coz it’s a wannabe Friday. Maybe, it is. It is holy also, to some at least. Don’t ask why. Too tired to set the context and in other words, explain. See it’s already Friday.

We all loved to be in school, college and university on all the days, including Sundays for all the "right" reasons we'd love to giggle about. Homework, assignments, library and project work are secondary (laughter!). When it comes to work, we have a “grr” feeling despite a smiling/not smiling pay packet. We celebrate our survival that we have a job as evidence of our existence during the week in happy hours and bitch about uh-oh people, sad state of affairs,sigh! We crib that the nation is going to the dogs. We also tch-tch publicly when a bunch of opium influenced monkeys take up moral guardianship of all Indian women. Yes, all fathers and mothers forgot to make their daughters modest and coy! All these in the span of a week, not bad.

Come Friday, we want to sleep, watch movies, party, get sloshed, recover from the hangover, do grocery shopping, clean the house, read a lil’ and maybe, catch up. By the time the action items get diminished, it’s Sunday afternoon and some of us are already broody that it’s Monday in a few hours, eeks!

It’s almost a universal routine to be sad and serious all through the week, do your bit at work, and attend to the social niceties for the sake of it. It comes naturally to rush over everything and close the day and hide in your den, just like that. During the week, I can also be moody, and you should understand, it’s work pressure. There could be none and the lack of it can kill my identity. So, I simulate there is one and it allows me to be. How sham!

I am at the mercy of a wretched weekend. And all we accomplish is nothing. Pay a maid, she needs the money and you create disguised employment and your weekends are taken care of, at least by what the routine looks like.

Like the Joker quizzically asks, “Why so serious?” And Prufrock says, “I shall grow old …and wear my trousers rolled.” We are growing old. We are in a state of panic, of course. When your life has become a “looking-forward-to-the-weekend”, it is. We need therapy, not on a weekend, please. Let’s make it on a weekday.

I am looking forward to MondayJ, blithe me!


The witch of...

I will probably never finish this one, over a year now and I have barely finished reading a little over half. Nevermind.

I read about witches in Western fairy tales and more often than not, they are evil, have long noses and ugly distorted faces with dirty clothes and that hideous hat. Her favourite black cat and her broom. She, also, has a wand. In oriental folklore, the witch is a demoness, has fangs, is extremely ugly to behold, wears human bones for jewellery and well, the list is endless.

However, Mandrake is a magician, not a wizard. My grammar teacher in school told me that the masculine counterpart of a witch is a wizard. There is lot of positivity associated with the word “wizard”. We love wizards, we love “The wizard of oz” and we also, love magicians.

Most hate witches, a few secretly wish to be and learn about the darker side of knowledge. Not all of us can be fairies, nice and smiling and walking around with that halo and those heavy wings to be there at Cinderalla’s beck and call.

Witches and fairies wave their wands. One is loved, the other hated. The offended fairy turned ‘witch’ casts a spell and Sleeping Beauty sleeps to be woken up by a kiss of true love from her Prince. Sleeping Beauty would be sleeping still and story never a fairytale had it not been for a nasty fairy (turned witch?).

Sabrina is an adorable new age witch who lives in Archies comics, in an upmarket neighbourhood and attends school in Riverdale with Archie and gang. Nicole Kidman did the rest.

In real everyday parlance, the ‘w’ in ‘witch’ blurs to ‘b’ and the obvious is nasty which some take it as a compliment.

I believe all of us are witches at some level, we love to be wicked and bad sometimes, don’t we? Sometimes you wished this or that, and voila! Your energies are so influential, your wish comes true.

Sometimes, your good intent is misread as an act of villainy and the letter blurs from ‘w’ to ‘b’ and you become a heretic, like Joan d’Arc. What was her fault? She saw visions, she wanted to help the Dauphin and save her dear France. She was burnt at the stake.

We have witch-hunting drives until now. The seers and bizarre looking mendicants are always offered alms and whatever.

If you knew a thing or two about the occult, people normally are ‘uh-oh’ about making conversation for the sake of it. They find you weird and wired. They get some glam quotient hanging around for the next “what’s up” session.

When things don’t go the way you want and you are partly responsible for damage control, you become a witch. You fight, to defend you become hoarse and harsh, rude is an understatement. The river flows again. The witch is forgotten. All she gets is, get berated. It’s in her legacy to be hunted.

There are days when I feel like a witch especially when I can’t promise “everything’s gonna be alright”. There are also occasions when I am told and informed by friends and loved ones that I ought to stop being a Joan of Arc because I am fast turning out to be a heretic and there is not going to be any divine intervention except the “I-told-you-so” familiar helplessness.

Work is worship. I am Everywoman, therefore, a witch? Roles I love to play which the world has no choice but to watch.


The Sunscreen song

One of those songs that I can listen to forever,

"Ladies and gentleman of the class of '99.Wear sunscreen.

If I could offer you only one tip for the future, sunscreen would be it. The long-term benefits of sunscreen have been proved by scientists, whereas the rest of my advice has no basis more reliable than my own meandering experience. I will dispense this advice now.

Enjoy the power and beauty of your youth. Oh, never mind. You will not understand the power and beauty of your youth until they've faded. But trust me, in 20 years, you'll look back at photos of yourself and recall in a way you can't grasp now how much possibility lay before you and how fabulous you really looked. You are not as fat as you imagine.

Don't worry about the future. Or worry, but know that worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubble gum. The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that never crossed your worried mind, the kind that blindside you at 4 p.m. on some idle Tuesday.

Do one thing every day that scares you.


Don't be reckless with other people's hearts. Don't put up with people who are reckless with yours.


Don't waste your time on jealousy. Sometimes you're ahead, sometimes you're behind. The race is long and, in the end, it's only with yourself.

Remember compliments you receive. Forget the insults. If you succeed in doing this, tell me how.

Keep your old love letters. Throw away your old bank statements.


Don't feel guilty if you don't know what you want to do with your life. The most interesting people I know didn't know at 22 what they wanted to do with their lives. Some of the most interesting 40-year-olds I know still don't.

Get plenty of calcium. Be kind to your knees. You'll miss them when they're gone.

Maybe you'll marry, maybe you won't. Maybe you'll have children, maybe you won't. Maybe you'll divorce at 40, maybe you'll dance the funky chicken on your 75th wedding anniversary. Whatever you do, don't congratulate yourself too much, or berate yourself either. Your choices are half chance. So are everybody else's.

Enjoy your body. Use it every way you can. Don't be afraid of it or of what other people think of it. It's the greatest instrument you'll ever own.

Dance, even if you have nowhere to do it but your living room.

Read the directions, even if you don't follow them.

Do not read beauty magazines. They will only make you feel ugly.

Get to know your parents. You never know when they'll be gone for good. Be nice to your siblings. They're your best link to your past and the people most likely to stick with you in the future.

Understand that friends come and go, but with a precious few you should hold on. Work hard to bridge the gaps in geography and lifestyle, because the older you get, the more you need the people who knew you when you were young.

Live in New York City once, but leave before it makes you hard. Live in Northern California once, but leave before it makes you soft.


Accept certain inalienable truths: Prices will rise. Politicians will philander. You, too, will get old. And when you do, you'll fantasize that when you were young, prices were reasonable, politicians were noble and children respected their elders.

Respect your elders.

Don't expect anyone else to support you. Maybe you have a trust fund. Maybe you'll have a wealthy spouse. But you never know when either one might run out.

Don't mess too much with your hair or by the time you're 40 it will look 85.

Be careful whose advice you buy, but be patient with those who supply it. Advice is a form of nostalgia. Dispensing it is a way of fishing the past from the disposal, wiping it off, painting over the ugly parts and recycling it for more than it's worth.

But trust me on the sunscreen."




Reading the daily forecast in the newspaper is such a drama. But whatever you say, we all routinely grab today’s newspaper and go thru’ the horoscope section. Some of us want to believe that everything is true, some don’t. Some take all that with stacks of salt and some trash it. My mother will call me at odd hours asking me to tune in to Aaj Tak at so and so time in the morning. That certain learned one aka Panditji is very accurate with his bhavishyavani. There is also a follow-up call. Geez!

I don't remember visiting any soothsayer, astrologer or any parallel creature in my entire life for all that jazz.At the time of birth and after, there was a terrible mix-up and wrong foretelling and reading of my birth chart. For want of money or patronage, two astrologer brothers almost killed each other and half cursed all elements around for not proving their words. Two other astrologers confirmed the "correctness" of the birthchart I have now. The annual appointments and visits to them increased over the years and also, the talisman count. My waist had a nice band of amulets and charms, and a big copper drum used to adorn my left arm. I hated wearing anything around my neck. One astrolger, Late Pandit Lila Saikia 'predicted' I was going to be a big lazybones, I am J . My parents had nightmares that my laziness was going to be my undoing and all. Now tell me, has anyone been spared by laziness? May Pandit Lila Saikia's departed soul and now re-born soul be at peace. Your words "came true". The lovely waist band of amulets and the arm band is at the bottom of Wards’ Lake

You come with a certain fate or destiny written by that someone up there right from a dog-bite to death. If we knew all, living would become so mundane, cautious and cowardly. No offence but correction of certain celestial positions due to alternative consultation is, in my opinion, going against the laws of nature. You wear this stone to avoid this ill luck and that, to prevent accidents. Your hand is loaded with gems and lookalikes of all hues and prices. There is a halo of protection that you like to believe it exists. It’s a placebo effect for some, for some almost hypnosis. For some, a maddening religion to the point of voodoo and magic, let’s not get to the blackness and whiteness of it.

Trusting your actions and a strong faith in whatever you believe make it easier for me. Look out for signs, listen to your pets (oh, they come with strong intuitions) and listen to your gut feeling, my day almost certainly will not be as apprehensive especially when today’s chronicle tells you not to do this or that. There have been cases when they have repeated say last Monday's horoscope this Wednesday, letter to letter and you feel so betrayed and do nothing but sigh.

A friend of mine tells me believe it if it is positive and makes you happy and not to, when you are scared.

Have you read your horoscope today?

Of dates and calendars

To check on a day/date or anything, these days I go to my mobile and scroll 'Calendar'. It helps me save birthdays, create alarms for so and so time and days, and the like. It is always convenient to have a calendar around.

Calendar hunting is my dad’s favourite January pastime. Every family store, from clothes to stationary to accessories-all, that we visited in the past one year…we make another visit for a calendar this time. I get frustrated, do we need to this Dad? Why? See, we will buy books and maybe get a complimentary calendar or better still, let’s wait till Feb-March when the Tourism deptt. releases calendars. We will buy one. NO, he roars. What’s the fun in buying? Might as well go to Archies or St. Paul’s.

One place they give calendars without fail is your local wine store. Sad, we don’t drink and therefore, Dad says it’s a lil’ too much to ask from them. Why? Why? So, tea companies, tailoring shops, grocery stores, textile shops, chemists, booksellers and the blah- all kinds and all shapes. Our cable network provides a table calendar to all its subscribers. Our LIC and SBI friends- calendars and diaries. By month end, we have about 20-30 calendars. Our house is not so large and spacious to accommodate all. Then the other problem is Mom wants to retain all the god and goddess calendars with the auspicious thing about them. I am almost ready to run away from the house then. No,let’s keep Lord Ganesha. No,no Lakshmi. Arey, the kids are still students, Goddess Saraswati. Hey, what about Lord Shiva and his consort, Parvati? The glossy paint and paper quality of the calendars, well. Let’s give this to our milkman, he will be very happy. This one to our chapraasi. And, you might want to give this to your college peon. Thanks.

My only concern is the house should not look like a men’s saloon lined with bhagwan ka pictures or babies (a favourite with most calendar printers). They beat Anne Geddes’ baby pictures,seriously!

Jan-end, one slim calendar from my college where I teach is in the living room. The LIC table calendar is in a corner, pretty and informative. The fridge in the dining room has the SBI table calendar and my mom wants a bhagwan ka calendar in the kitchen, ok, there you go. The bedrooms, one big wall calendar each which, mind you, has all the Hindu calendar dates and notations of when the ekadashis, the poornimas and the amavasyas are. Diligently, one clips the college holiday list for my reference. By evening, that sheet is sized to half thanks to my dad’s visual aesthetics sense. Thankfully, none in the loo or in the bathroom.

I prefer looking up the one in my personal diary. I have my notes and ramblings on them. Last year, I got one with a small fitted mirror, quite some vanity! Oh, how I loved to peep and stare at it at work! You needed to put it at the right place to get the desired effect.

Our office calendar is something different, though it is still called a calendar. The normal chants in the morning are "I didn't check my calendar", " Block my calendar", " Can you calendar?", " Look at my calendar, no time!". Well, it's a high-school routine like thing, almost like a planner which is very dynamic and user friendly.

This year, a beautiful one of Rajasthani miniature paintings of Radha and Krishna. I didn’t want to put it up, the pictures look so fragile and rich at the same time. I want to frame them, will frame them anyway. It’s a sign again...


Ok, so let's catch a movie tomorrow evening. Me, you aur the rest of the gang. Where? Which one? Ok, let me know the numbers, tickets will be booked online. Amidst the "I am a huge fan of Hugh Jackman" chant by Suvo, a few calls, some answered some unanswered...we were set for the evening for A-U-S-T-R-A-L-I-A at IMAX.

Baz Lurhman, the man I adore for the suncreen song loves his work to be magnum opus. Lady Ashley (Nicole Kidman) is a an Amazon of an Australian and so is Drover (Hugh Jackman). Beautiful people can carry off average stuff . The show stealer is Nullah, the Aborigine delight.

With his grandpa King George, he sings, narrates, warns, foretells, guides, and saves Oz from calamity, saves a frenzied herd of cattle from jumping to their deaths. Subtle racist bearings come to the fore. Nullah has to keep quiet lest his White father, Fletcher beat his mother. Drover lost his ‘Black’ wife to TB because she was black. The yellow race of the Japs is the alien invading intruder. It is a historic moment when Nullah’s uncle enters ‘The Territory’ for the poor man’s whiskey. It is another undoing when he is about to be served in an ugly water mug. The Darwin Harbour bombing gets the Ozzies together almost like what Pearl Harbour did to the US.

The camera work is breathtaking, panning across the landscape. The underwater scenes, the maddening rush of the cattle reminded one of the famous bloody battle of might on National Geographic. Lady Ashley is delightful with her stiff British mannerisms, you do lend your empathy when her suitcase goes wham on the bloke’s head and her lingerie fly everywhere, almost a sense of violation. An English lady’s house will have tea always and her garden lined with rose bushes. She made a small England in Oz. The broken windmill is symbolic of life stilled and stalled until Mrs. Boss arrives.

Fletcher’s mercenary instincts are apparent especially when he takes supreme sadistic pleasure in strangling a fly. Suvo interjected, don’t cry “It’s only a fly”. He’d go to any extent to be the King of the Beef industry, killed Lord Ashley, fed King Carney to a hungry crocodile and married his daughter. His menacing croc leather shoes tell you the remnants of the tale.

There are warm moments when Drover implores Lady Ashley to talk to lil’ Nullah when he loses his mother in a tragic accident. Her condolences are lost in the import of spreading newspapers so that her fragile skin does not touch rough earth. It’s funny and heartwarming given the sincerity of the effort. She sings and tells a story. Folktales, lore and music are a part of life. A loving warm relationship forms, almost mother-son like, each singing to the other. The climax is so Bollywood- lot of fight, the lovers unite, the lost seeketh the found, the righteous emerge and Fletcher dies like a maggot, pierced.

King George is the real victor. Western civilization comes to terms with the Aborigine law of going away to come back to be the sentinels of a fierce race.

Nullah will come back and say- “I sing you to me”. You can dream and talk to the moon.

Aloha 2009

2008-many good things happened to me- met an engaging 21st century Darcy who is more Wall.E like, a zestful life, “I am feeling lucky”, Ph.D registration, and many small vacations besides visiting home. A good 30 minutes into 2009, I knock a glassful of a diligently prepared drink. Somehow, I retrospect I was not in my elements. No, I am not offering any excuse on the broken glass and all.

I started the day on a great note, wore my heels and went to work. To match the heels well, a short cute skirt and also, a nice top. Besides silent admiration (for the skirt, top or legs, I leave it to you), some sneer and banter which almost ended in blows between two of my friends, and whistles, I caused some hearts aflutter. So far so good, me thought what better way to end the year.

Until late evening, I didn’t know where and how New Year is going to be like. Thank god for small mercies and patient friends, we made it. Invited a bunch of others. Food, drink, music on Deb’s guitar and lyrics on the Net and conversation- the night was young. A panfire of coal for our bonfire, Suvo refused to part with the kitchen that evening- paneer samosas, chilli paneer, Thai paneer, chilli chicken, Thai prawn curry and what not! He never cooked so madly in life, he blames my skirt! God, scandalous it (the skirt) is! The actual reason is he plans to open a restaurant and he is an amazing cook. You never know when a good time is to encash your latent talent in these days of recession. The rest, well…one sang and sang, another tried to sleep, another could not help but sleep, another was on phone, another in everything and yet another tried to be up to everything.

I have not learnt the manners and mores of drinking. If I did, I would probably have been a lil’ more careful and attuned to where possibly will glasses be. Not near my elbow on the parapet of the terrace. There I twirl and there it swings down, down with the drink, full on. Crash, shards and a troubled soul. Friends laughed, assured me the glass committed suicide. I was not OK after that  that evening.

He and I had a power-packed hurried shopping to picking up friends on the way and also, the champagne and the like. The uncorking of the champagne lit me up but briefly. Not a nice feeling,seriously. Then the glass disaster. Remembered the old wives’ belief that it is a bad omen, some bad news on the way. Tried to sleep, my eyes gave way at 6 a.m. in the morning. Before that, I wept a lot…a lil’ due to happiness and reassurance and a lil’ due to that lurking feeling.

Saturday lunch with a friend gave way to some random talk about the demise of a senior colleague in my team, I was like what!!?? The broken glass haunted me and still haunts me now. This morning, the worst came true. What more, 2009?

In Memoriam.