Tag Archives: emotions

Happily Tired

Happily tired

Me:  “Baba, I am tired”, I would say to my father when I was a school girl.

He: “What is your age? And you are tired…” He would say.

Me: “Yes Baba, I am tired.”

He: “Are you happily tired?”

Me: “Yes, I think so.”

He: “Excellent. Let us read one more science chapter. You must write an essay too.”

i would then bite my own words and get into action.

He died four year ago. Just tired. Not happily tired. Clinical depression had made him very tired.

*********

I want to live. Die. Happily tired. Inshallah.

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Why are we behaving like Americans?

I need three bottles of karela (bitter gourd) juice to balance the harmful effects of reading all the super sugary FB status updates on Mother’s Day.  I grew up without having any knowledge of celebrating Mother’s Day. I don’t really remember wishing ever my mother on this second Sunday of May. Now, the Americans have taken over urban India.

A week before this Mother’s Day, my e-mail inbox was bombarded with messages from Amazon, flipkart, myntra with messages that read like  “Deepika, buy this/that for your mom and make her happy.” Skype went a step further and sent a message, “Put a smile on your mom’s face and skype with her.” Well, I never knew that skype can make me connect with my mom who’s hopefully having a good time up there since October, 2013. Aah technology, wish you were that advanced in your astral presence.

This Mother’s Day started on a beautiful reflective note for me as I started the day by writing a long letter (e-mail) to my spiritual companion. Writing to him is cathartic. And then I had a nice conversation with my close friend whom I later met in the evening. Even as I was busy cooking and cleaning my kitchen pantry during the day, there was virtual outpouring of emotions happening on Facebook.

When I logged on to my FB account in the evening, there were too many notifications from my friends. There was a common thread running among these posts. Suddenly I found that almost everybody worth their sugar had changed their profile pics. Some did the hard work of digging out some 50 year old picture of their mother and then scanning it before putting it. Too much of hard work, I would say on a Sunday. And that too for few likes.

By the end of the day, there were too many pictures (all mixed up) dancing in my head. Was she R’s mother? Or was she M’s mother? My mind was all confused like the Indian economy.

And all the status updates read the same — Mom, thank you for making me what I am today (hello, yes.. the piece of shit you are as a human being). Love you, mom…. for being there for me always (Yes, she got to be there. There was no shopping mall/ no multiplexes/ no coffee shops either.  Or for that matter no Facebook to while away time).

This whole business of Mother’s Day and Father’s Day are nothing but gimmicks of a market-driven society. Some years ago, I read a beautiful narrative of an American woman living in an old-age home in which she mentioned that all her three children come to see her only on Mother’s Day. I hope, there lies a lesson for all of us.

In stead of putting up sugar-coated FB status updates on Mother’s Day and in turn waiting to count how many likes we have got, let us look after our mothers. Let us not dismiss them just because they can’t operate a smart-phone or they can’t walk fast anymore. Let us look after them the way they looked after us. And remember they looked after us beautifully without putting a single post about the joy of parenting on Facebook.

It’s ‘cool’ to be tender with your parents in your day to day living.

Chai Chai : A love story

My best friend in my office is probably the shy young canteen boy who gives me a cup of tea exactly at 11 in the morning. Till he comes and pours the tea in my cup, I can’t bring my brain operate to its fullest capacity. Once I see him, I feel at peace. Well, I am not alone in my obsession with tea. There are many across India who can’t think of starting their day without a cup of tea. Or many cups of tea.

tea

(During a recent visit to Wagh Bakri Tea Lounge, Ahmedabad, I fell in love with this beautiful tea kettle)

For many many years, lots of things in India happened over tea. But there was no glamour attached to it. It was a part of life but not a lifestyle statement. Many from my generation grew up with the song ‘Sayad meri shaadi ka khayal..Isi liye mummy ne meri tumhe chai me bulaya’
Chai or tea can be easily called India’s lifeline. From railway platforms to swanky living rooms of India’s rich and neo-rich, chai is omnipresent. To understand tea, you have to understand the emotions that come with it in that little cup.
One of the most endearing memories of growing up in India is the train (in which you are travelling) chugging along and entering into a station and then comes the cries of ‘chai, chai garam’ almost embracing one with a deep sense of love and affection. Nothing comes close to sharing a cup of tea with your friends. And let us be honest, chai always tastes better with a bit of harmless gossip. Some years back, when I used to visit my friend in Mumbai (she always came to receive me at the station even though the train used to arrive at 4.30 in the morning), we used to sit together cozily in her living room with two cups of tea in our hands and discuss in utter seriousness about lives of Bollywood stars, cricketers and politicians. .
Chai is more/less like India. There are many layers to discover. So, when you want to save a little money, you go for the cutting chai. Where else in the world you will get this unique ‘cutting chai’? (for those who are uninitiated, cutting chai is a glass of tea that’s divided into two).
What’s more romantic than watching the lashing rains with a cup of garam chai and a plate of pakoda. And if you love your share of  ‘spice’ in life then nothing is more welcoming than a cup of ‘kadak adrak chai.’ With ginger and pudina added to your tea, you can be as efficient as the Chinese machine.
Chai has different avatars in different parts of India even though there’s a thread that runs through it. The English might give their ‘bed tea’ a miss today but the Punjabis do not. Every time I stay at my Punjabi friend’s house, her domestic help wakes me up in the morning with a cup of bed tea. Needless to say, the tea comes with an overdose of milk and sugar. In Gujarat where even dal comes with a generous sprinkling of sugar, the less it’s said about the sugary chai, the better it’s. Chai here in Gujarat is much savoured with khari biscuit, maska bun, khakhra and ganthia. In India’s intellectual city Kolkata (no other city can boast of this tag), people can spend hours and hours at addas and over cups of tea argue endlessly over Mamta Banerjee and Dibaker Banerjee.
But there’s a new competition to our humble chai now. Swanky coffee shops with wifi connection have now become a part of urban landscape. Suddenly you can see that a lot is happening over coffee. From ‘make-ups’ with nervous giggles, job interviews, business deals to teary break ups— lot is actually happening in the sanitised air-conditioned coffee shops. Suddenly cappuccino, cafe latte have become part of urban dictionary. Sipping frothy coffee with a smiley carefully done has become a sign of ‘being cool.’ Smartphones and a cup of cappuccino is the sure shot way to show off  your cool quotient. Now where does the humble chai actually figure in? Well, the chai has got a makeover.
Urban India has now moved beyond those kadak chai, adrak chai or overboiled sweet milky tea. It’s now time for peach tea, apple tea, green tea. Exotic has become the mainstream now. With new money showing its ugly face from every nook and corner of the street, the chai has to keep pace too. And look beyond that ordinary garam chai served in a kullad.
However, even it its new avatar, there’s less masculinity about tea. I feel, there’s a tenderness about tea. Tea is like a love story taking its own time to evolve. It’s not in a hurry to prove itself to the world. The coffee is a tad different. Trapped in a bone china cup that arrives on your table even as the blaring music of Justin Biber’s ‘Baby’ shows a slice of globalisation penetrating India. It’s a little bit on your face. May be it has got to with the fact that now in urban India coffee has suddenly become a uber cool lifestyle statement. Every now and then friends, colleagues and acquaintances say, “Let’s meet over coffee.’ May be a time will soon come when people will say, ‘Let us make love over coffee.’
Do I see any threat to our good old chai? No, not really. To have chai is politically correct now. We have a ‘chaiwalla’ prime minister in India now (Mani Shankar Aiyer, you can eat your own words). And yes,  hopefully we will have lots to discuss over a cup of tea. You know, chai pe charcha.

Of love, longing and a passport

passportAnd you are not mine,
I told you as I ran my fingers through your curly hair,
You looked into my eyes and said everything I have is yours,
What do you want?
I just want your passport.
Passport? You silly little girl…
Yes, it’s your passport I want…
so that tonight you will not fly away..
I want you here under the September Sun,
I want you to lead my way through the crowded streets,
I want you to hold my hand as we carve our own little world
In the midst of sweating millions and a thousand colours,
I want you to buy me that huge dark gulab jamun sitting prettily
On a plate in the mithai shop,
But you have to go…
With the passport kept safely in a leather pouch….
And you told me you have to go…
Yes, I know you have to go
But you know I will grow old while you are away
And there will be one more tomorrow without
You and Me not walking hand in hand
On the streets.
Full of faces I don’t know.

Happiness…

A cup of Earl Grey tea. Reading the newspaper in the midst of stillness of the morning. Sitting by the window in a cafe and watching life lingering lazily on a Sunday morning. Writing my journal and filling almost silk like pages with my fountain pen even as I wait for my toasted brown bread. Getting lost in the pages of Forty Rules of Love and soaking in the sublime beauty of two stories woven beautifully in one novel.

happy

Running my fingers through the piles of bed sheets and finally choosing to pick up two. A random thought embraces me. Will these strangely attractive geometrical patterns ever see two of us together in a bed lying next to each other? Entangled bodies. Entangled emotions. Packing a dinner of rice and mutton curry… food that defined a Sunday. Years ago. When father was there in his elements. Mother was in her pink of health. Putting the AC at 18 degree even if the weather is not brutal outside. Pulling up the comforter till my neck. Holding a glass of whiskey, sipping slowly and even occasionally rubbing it against my cheek. Reading Maya Angelou’s Phenomenal Woman and an ache runs deep within. The soft yellow light of the lamp surprisingly doesn’t bring back shadows of yesterdays. And it’s time now for Adele’s ‘Set fire to the rain’ and yes I know the next will be Dier Strait’s ‘So far away from me’. It’s in that alphabetical order of ‘S’. You don’t forget certain things even when you are too happy or too sad. Is happiness a sad song? No, I just don’t know the logic of being happy. But right now I’ m happy as I gently tap the touchscreen and let it flow.

DEATH, SO FINAL

Yesterday suddenly I was in a mood to write a narrative. Not everyday you get so consumed by the desire to try to write something so different from what you have been doing. In between writing the piece, I wanted to quietly slip into a dark theatre for celluloid magic. I did the same, watched Teri Meri Kahaani and came back to my desk to finish the piece. Like a possessed woman, I furiously typed for almost two hours. There was nobody around me.  And in that complete silence, writing was like meditation. You are in sync with your inner self. Nothing can be more soul-elevating than this.
As I finished my writing, I looked at my watch and realised that it was 9.45pm. Not in a mood to cook, I thought of walking to the Mcdonald’s across the road. It’s hardly a 3 minutes walk. Dusty Ahmedabad’s street under neon light definitely looked alluring for a change. As I moved towards the glass door, I looked up and saw the bright yellow colour board— Mcdonald’s: A family restaurant. I entered into the brightly lit place which was full of people and people. There were kids, mothers, fathers, coy young lovers trying to find a place for themselves in this mad crowded cruel world. Old parents, young parents. All wanting to have a slice of the great American spread. I gave my orders at the counter and the man at the counter requested me to have a seat as the take-away would take few minutes.
I sat down alone trying to read the huge display of menu on the board in front of me.  Suddenly,I heard somebody saying ‘Baba’ aloud. I felt as if somebody cut through my heart with a sharp knife. I felt an aching pain deep within me. I could have collapsed at that particular moment. I turned around instantly to see somebody in flesh and blood whom a daughter lovingly calls ‘baba’. There was a Bengali family sitting behind my table happily savoring their fast food fare. I knew from where the word ‘Baba’ laced with love and affection came.
The waiter came to give my takeaway, I picked it up and walked out of the fast food joint. In a matter of few minutes, everything had changed. The bright streets looked completely dark to me. I had completely lost my appetite for the burger and french fries I was carrying in a paper bag.My hunger had completely disappeared. I had this intense desire to just hug my dad at that moment and call him ‘baba’.  I wanted to feel his nice strong shapely hands and fingers in my palm. I wanted to hold his hand and cross the road as I did even as an adult. I could have run across the horizon to soak in that feeling of holding him in my arms. But alas, now my father is beyond the horizon too. It’s like that song from Dier Straits ‘So far away from me that I can’t just see you.’  I so very wanted to die last night. So that I would not feel this gut-wrenching pain never again in my life.

PS: It has been 18 months since I lost my father. Years ago I flew out of my father’s nest to chase my own. Unlike my sisters, I didn’t see my father every single day.Or shared meals with him at the dining table every night. For all my adult life, out of 365 days I used to be with him for 15 days. Not being with him physically everyday before has also done strange things to me. So even now, there are times I feel  he’s somewhere there in faraway Bhubaneswar. Still living in the house next to the park.

After the death of my father, I did a lot of reading to understand why I was feeling what I was feeling. I started seeking comfort in that beautiful line of Isabel Allende, “There’s no death, my daughter. People die only when you forget them.” I remember my father every single day. How can I ever forget the man who gave me life, education and a deep sense of belonging? But when the desire to hug him, write to him or hear his voice over the phone overpowers me and I realise I can never do the same.  I come back to this bitter truth that yes, there’s something called death. No matter what they tell you, DEATH IS SO FINAL.