Saturday, May 31, 2008
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
Sunday, May 25, 2008
On my birthday he gave me a grotesque shiny silver bag. I was looking forward to receiving his gift, dreaming he would get me something I really wanted (like that new book of poetry – hell, I’d even said, in his earshot, that I really wanted it) or something that I didn’t even know I wanted (like, I don’t know, diamond earrings or something). And when I saw the big colourfully-wrapped box, my heart sank just a little with disappointment – it was obvious the box didn’t contain a book or jewellery. I carefully unwrapped the box (and wished he’d had the good taste to use handmade paper – or at least something subdued, without balloons or ‘Happy Birthday’ on it). And there it was, the shiny monstrosity. I held it up to hide my face (I guess he imagined I was kissing it) until I could manage a smile. He was beaming at what he imagined to be my happiness. All through lunch, I kept telling myself that it wasn’t that bad: after all, I did need a new bag (as he had already reminded me) and metallic was in. Yet when he praised himself for the third time on making a clever purchase, I couldn’t stop myself from saying politely, “You know I don’t usually like shiny stuff.”
“I know. You wear drab colours like an old woman. That’s why I got this for you. It’ll make you look younger and …er… vibrant.”
I stayed quiet after that. Later, I tried to persuade myself that he meant well, that I had known already that our tastes didn’t exactly match. Maybe I’d like the bag better after I’d used it. I’d take it to the nightclub tomorrow: that was exactly the right setting for it.He was late again, and by the time we got there the others were seated around a table. I had worn a simple black top and jeans, so as not to clash with the bag. It was too big to set on the table: I held it in my lap, clutching it with one hand so it wouldn’t fall off, glad that no one else could see it.
Another woman had a silver bag: but hers was dull, not shiny, and small. It looked expensive, unlike mine, which looked even more in the coloured lights like it had been picked off the street. Another girl had a bright red bag: but it looked youthful and fashionable: mine would have been more suitable for a middle-aged lady at a wedding.'
He asked me to dance. If I took the bag with me it would be shine even more under the dancing lights, and invite attention: if I left it on my chair, one of my friends would definitely pick it up and comment on it. I refused.
I didn’t drink: I was afraid it would loosen my tongue and make me say something disparaging about the bag to him, and hurt him. My pensive attitude didn’t escape comment. He joked that I wasn’t being much more serious or boring than usual.
It was my own birthday party. And I had expected to have fun.
After he dropped me home, I opened the bag and turned it upside down to empty it of all my belongings. Then I threw it into the dustbin. “What a waste,” I thought to myself. But I didn’t dare give it to the maid. He knew her from his frequent visits: what if he ever saw her carry it?
But what if he asked me later why I wasn’t using it? I could tell him that I was saving it for special occasions. That would serve for some time, but not forever.
I would dump him. Let’s face it, there was little in common between us anyway. I wouldn’t have to go to loud movies and boring parties, wear make-up or Indian clothes. I could lounge in my pajamas all weekend, reading books and listening to music. I would never have to laugh at another of his jokes.
There was no point in waiting till morning. I called him right away.(This was written as a writing exercise for Caferati. The moderator had posted a picture of a silver bag and the challenge was to weave a story around it.)
Thursday, May 22, 2008
easily. And often did.
We started the day together,
cuddling. As we often do.
We prepared breakfast side-by-side in our small kitchen
And ate together too.
We had the entire morning with each other
Till you dropped me off at work.
And that was just a few hours ago.
Why then do I miss you already?
Why am I sorry that dinner-time is so long away?
Is it because I have been with you too much, too long?
Or too little?
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
This list is apparently of books “most often sitting unread in people’s bookshelves, to make them look smart”. The rules are: bold the ones you have read, underline the ones you read at school, italicise the ones you started but didn’t finish.
- Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell
- Anna Karenina
- Crime and Punishment
- One Hundred Years of Solitude
- Wuthering Heights
- The Silmarillion
- Life of Pi : a novel
- The Name of the Rose
- Don Quixote
- Moby Dick - I'd read an abridged version as a kid
- Madame Bovary
- The Odyssey
- Pride and Prejudice
- Jane Eyre
- The Tale of Two Cities
- The Brothers Karamazov
- Guns, Germs, and Steel
- War and Peace
- Vanity Fair
- The Time Traveler’s Wife
- The Iliad
- The Blind Assassin - This is the latest book I read. Loved it.
- The Kite Runner
- Mrs. Dalloway
- Great Expectations
- American Gods
- A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius
- Atlas Shrugged
- Reading Lolita in Tehran : a memoir in books
- Memoirs of a Geisha
- Wicked : the life and times of the wicked witch of the West
- The Canterbury Tales
- The Historian : a novel
- A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
- Love in the Time of Cholera
- Brave New World
- The Fountainhead
- Foucault’s Pendulum
- The Count of Monte Cristo
- A Clockwork Orange
- Anansi Boys
- The Once and Future King
- The Grapes of Wrath
- The Poisonwood Bible
- Angels and Demons
- The Satanic Verses
- Sense and Sensibility
- The Picture of Dorian Gray
- Mansfield Park
- One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
- To the Lighthouse
- Tess of the D’Urbervilles
- Oliver Twist
- Gulliver’s Travels
- Les Misérables
- The Correction
- The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay
- The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
- The Prince
- The Sound and the Fury
- Angela’s Ashes : a memoir
- The God of Small Things
- A People’s History of the United States : 1492-present
- A Confederacy of Dunces
- A Short History of Nearly Everything
- The Unbearable Lightness of Being
- The Scarlet Letter
- Eats, Shoots and Leaves
- The Mists of Avalon
- Oryx and Crake
- Collapse : how societies choose to fail or succeed
- Cloud Atlas
- The Confusion
- Northanger Abbey
- The Catcher in the Rye
- On the Road
- The Hunchback of Notre Dame
- Freakonomics : a rogue economist explores the hidden side of everything
- Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance : an inquiry into values
- The Aeneid
- Watership Down
- Gravity’s Rainbow
- The Hobbit
- In Cold Blood : a true account of a multiple murder and its consequences
- White Teeth
- Treasure Island
- David Copperfield
- The Three Musketeers
I'm sure there are more books in this list that I have started on but couldn't finish, but I can't seem to remember them.
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
Last Saturday was a day to remember. That was the day on which we had the event I had written about earlier. So a bunch of us (all colleagues at my ex-employer’s – except me, I suppose) went down to a small town 100-odd kilometres away to spend the day with around fifty 12th standard students.
It went off better than I could hope. I did little, myself: having satisfied myself that we had a group of smart people to do the actual work, I sat back and watched. And learned. And enjoyed it immensely. And got emotional at certain moments. And was amazed, all over again, at the wonderful people I know.
The Guy started off by talking about the departments present in a typical company, and another guy joined him in explaining. The idea was to make them understand that even a company focused on one kind of business has many different kinds of jobs for persons with widely different backgrounds and education. Given that – as Friends of Children (FoC) volunteers had informed me earlier – many of these kids wanted to become IT engineers and teachers because those are the only role models they meet (in the form of FoC volunteers and their own teachers), we thought this was pretty important.
Next was a session on motivation, very ably delivered. The guy who took it is South Indian, and while his Hindi wasn’t perfect, he stuck to it (rarely taking recourse in English) and spoke it quite fluently, and he even understood when the students spoke in Marathi! I was surprised to discover what a good speaker he was. And he seemed to have taken efforts to prepare well for his session.
As he spoke about motivation, Mehul jumped in to talk about dreams. He got the students to participate actively, made them set down goals, and gave very helpful tips (that I should try to use, too). I have known Mehul for some time and attended many meetings with him, and had never suspected that he was so good at this! He seemed so practised, as if this was his real job. Really, this guy has so many talents. (Click on this link for his photo blog.)
Then came another guy: he was the first person I’d contacted (apart from the Guy himself) and roped in for this. I knew he was smart and spontaneous (in related news, we’d got him to be one of the hosts for our grand annual party last winter) and I had high hopes. And he proceeded to blow me away. He spoke to the students as a friend, or an elder brother, giving them practical advice and sounding like he cared. He underscored the importance of practicality, and the futility of dreaming until you can be financially independent: indeed, that is the first dream to fulfil. I was especially impressed because I know this person is unusually indifferent to money, and thinks of work more in terms of the satisfaction it will bring him: yet he was sensitive enough to understand that for students from economically disadvantaged homes, it is perhaps the most important factor.
And so the day went on. We had a session on options for Science students (especially in IT – as that was what almost everyone was interested in) taken by my ex-employer’s Systems Manager, who seemed very glad of the opportunity to stand at the blackboard. We had a couple of fun games and impromptu quizzes, and prizes were awarded. (Some courtesy my ex-employer, and some that the Guy and I had contributed.) Mehul showed some of his photographs and have photography tips (apart from giving the Guy and me some tips on using our camera, which I’m grateful for). He also took one wonderful session where kids spoke out one another’s good qualities, and at the end of which the students who got no compliments were brought to the fore and asked to talk about themselves and then given compliments.
When we were planning the event, we had been afraid that we wouldn’t have enough to do for the whole day. But we actually had to cut short because we ran out of time. We were mobbed by eager students on our way out: they wanted phone numbers, email IDs, autographs. I was gratified when an FoC volunteer praised the sessions, and our efforts.
I was so tired at the end of the day, having got up before 5 in the morning (and got less than four hours sleep), driven for over two hours to get there and the long drive back still left, yet I was extremely satisfied on the way back, and we talked animatedly in the car all the way. I was pleased that the other volunteers were interested in FoC and what it does, and were eager to be a part of future events.
This is one day that I will look back on with pleasure for a long time.
Monday, May 19, 2008
Does this mean I can't be mean and judgemental anymore?
But seriously, I'm very grateful, especially as it comes from someone as nice as Grail.
I'm passing this on to Emma, because she writes well about things she believes in, and that spells 'nice' to me.
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
The bag itself is a smart and sexy Jane Shilton (that I had qualms buying, as it's leather, but the non-leather bags weren't nice at all!).
List of contents:
- My mobile phone (a cheap Nokia in red and grey)
- A handkerchief
- A paper tissue
- A tube of Himalaya lip balm
- Some photocopies with details of my last month's salary at my previous employer's (that I need to fill up a form that I've been putting off filling up)
- A blue bandana that I've had for three years
- My wallet, which contains money, three debit cards, a couple of passport size photographs of me and the Guy (for practical reasons, not romantic ones), my PAN card and driving license, and stray lists
- A lavender-coloured comb that I've had for I-don't-know-how-many-years
- One pack of Lotus sunscreen
- One pack of Fresh Ones wet tissues
- One vial of perfume called Blue Lady, a gift from a friend of the Guy
- One bottle of Bath & Body Works wild honeysuckle body lotion, that the Guy had brought back from his travels last year (and that I've used sparingly to make it last longer - as you can tell)
- A business card from my first full-time job, three years ago (no idea why)
- A sanitary napkin
- My set of house keys
And that's it! Not a lot, is there?
I suspect the point of the exercise is to guess about my personality from the contents of my handbag (actually, I suspect it has no point, but let's pretend otherwise), so make your way to the comments box!
No, under ten minutes. What will you have?
Just coffee, thanks. I was at lunch when you called.
Oh, sorry I called you away.
It’s okay, but you alarmed me. What is it?
Well, you see… I’ve got a job offer.
Really? Is it good?
It’s better than good… It’s great.
Wow! Wonderful! Where is it? What is it? When do you join?
How much will they pay?
Oh, the salary is huge. The job is great too,
Just what I wanted.
It’s in New Zealand.
Have you accepted?
Yes. I’d be dumb not to.
What do I have holding me here, anyway?
Yes. That’s true.
When do you go?
In two weeks.
But this is great. Congratulations!
Thanks. I wanted to tell you first.
Thank you. I’m very happy for you.
I’m sure you’ll do well.
Well, I hope so.
I think I should get back now.
Won’t you finish your coffee?
No, it’s making me sick.
And I have work waiting for me.
OK. Thanks for coming.
Maybe we’ll meet for dinner before I leave?
Yes. If you get the time.
I’m sure you’ll be busy
saying goodbye to friends and relatives;
preparing for your departure.
True. I’ll call you.
All the best.
I’m very happy for you.
Thursday, May 08, 2008
But when he sings "katthai aakhon wali ek ladki..." (a girl with brown eyes) to me while we are still in bed in the morning and only half-awake... I guess I should reconsider my views.
Sunday, May 04, 2008
But I am extremely excited - and slightly nervous - about the new job. Also, we are moving house soon, in order to be nearer my new office. That's a lot of changes and I'm going to be very busy - so blogging is likely to be infrequent. Let's hope this only lasts for a few weeks.
So don't stop visiting.
Friday, May 02, 2008
You don't act surprised. You don't stiffen or push me away.
You don't wince, unless my sudden pounce has hurt your back.
You smile and scoop me up as if it were the most natural thing in the world,
for me to come into your arms.
And it is.
Thursday, May 01, 2008
I am in a state of bliss. If I had to make a wish, I wouldn't know what to wish for.
Soon after I voice this thought, I feel like eating something. And it seems eerily appropriate that we are a few metres away from a café called Bliss.