Sunday, November 28, 2010

Why do we need friends?

1. To tell us what is missing in our life. The new dress on sale, the new cell phone in the market, the new car that he bought.

2. To help us judge our social standing and success. It feels good when we earn more than our friends.

3. To gossip to and gossip about

4. To listen while we crib. About topics ranging from parents and bosses to the latest stock market crash.

5. To dole out advice to. On food and looks, life and love, so that we feel all good and smart.

6. To stay over with, when we have a fight at home.

7. To pamper our mood when we are feeling low. Throw a party, order some icecream.

8. To take care of the kids when we want to go to the movies.

9. To make us feel that single (or committed) is good. We all are in it together.

10. To pamper our egos. To read the silly stuff that we come up with at 1 am and tell us that its a creative genius.

I guess we all are selfish when it comes to friends, though we hate to admit it. That is what makes friendship so cherished - we can all be selfish together, without feeling guilty about it.


Tuesday, October 12, 2010

'A'typical Girlfriend

Sia loved the journey back home from work. It was around 2 in the night when she finished her shift. The cab was ready to leave by 2.15. Anusha was seated comfortably near the window. But Richa was late as usual. She came rushing down the stairs, balancing herself precariously on six inches of heels. "I'm sorry, lets go", she said. The driver eased the car out of the basement parking lot and breezed towards the highway.

Sia looked out of the window. Both Anusha and Richa were busy with their cell phones. Sia looked at them and sighed. "What do a gang of girls do when they get together after work? They call their boyfriends.", she thought. The thought of her boyfriend brought a smile to her lips. She loved Arun dearly and was proud of him. They had been dating for a year now, and he had never given her a reason to complain. He had always been caring and supportive. He respected her fierce attitude and complemented it with his patient temperament. And she prided herself about being the perfect girlfriend. "If such a species exists", Arun always joked. But Sia knew in her heart that she was not the typical girlfriend. She never nagged, never demanded a lot of attention and never cribbed. She was always independent, spent a good deal of time with her gang of friends and always let Arun have his space in the relationship. She never acted like a GPS around Arun's neck, calling him every few hours to check on his whereabouts.

But today Sia decided to call him. It was rather late, so she settled with texting him. She was delighted when she got a reply, but the smile soon faded. Arun was not well. He had a bad cold and was trying to get some sleep, he said. "Will call u 2moro". Sia understood perfectly well. "Any other girl would have been suspicious, but not me", she thought. "What are you doing now?". Sia heard Anusha shouting into the phone. "Why dont
you stop eating those oily bhajiyas? Your will put on. And the cholesterol is not good for your heart." Sia smirked. A typical girlfriend, she thought. She went back to her window and gazed at the moving world outside. Suddenly her eyes widened in alarm. Did she see Arun at the end of the road? It was a blurred figure in a green t-shirt and very far away. As the distance between them closed, Sia stared in disbelief. It was Arun! What was he doing there? There were three friends with him. And they all looked drunk! Did that mean Arun had lied to her? She was too stunned to answer that.

Arun woke up the next day to a bad hangover. The sound of the doorbell made his head ache even worse. He slowly made his way to the door. The sight of Sia surprised him. She smiled sweetly and came inside. Closing the door after her, she sat down at the dining table. "This is such a pleasant surprise", said Arun bending forward to kiss her. She turned her head away. She would never have done that. "Where were you last night?", she shouted. "You told me you had a cold and were too busy to meet me. And I see you in the middle of the night, dead drunk with your stupid friends. How can you lie to me?", and Sia started sobbing. If Sia's visit had surprised Arun, this was a jolt out of the blue. He was visibly stunned. He tried to offer an explanation, but she would hear nothing of it. She kept sobbing and flung all the cushions on him that she lay her hands on. "I hate you", she kept saying. After a minute or two, she stormed out of the house. Arun ran after her, but she simply brushed him aside and left. 

The next two days were living hell for him. He tried to call her, but she did not answer his calls. He tried to meet her on her way to work, but she refused to acknowledge his presence. It took two weeks and an endless trail of phone calls and emails, visits to coffee shops and one to Swarovski to finally get Sia to forgive Arun. Its been twenty-five years since then, and Arun has been absolutely honest to Sia.

How do I know this? Because I am twenty and have been dating a nice guy for a year now, and when I told Mom today about him, with the customary maternal advice, she added "Dont behave like a typical girlfriend, though I once did,". And told me this story as an afterthought. So fond of proving herself smarter than Dad! A typical girlfriend!

P.S: This is a totally fictitious story churned out by the writer. There is absolutely no resemblance to anyone :)

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Skimming through life past

It is a strange feeling when you read your own diary. Revisiting the nooks and corners that defined the way your life has taken, smiling at all the fears that shuddered you then, smiling even more at the happy moments that braced you.

You know that you have grown and improved, that you have learnt and are wiser now, that your are stronger and have more patience, that you have faith in yourself, that you still treasure those friends and the time you spent with them, that some people have left an indelible mark on your life, and that nothing can ever go wrong in life again. The most important thing that you realize is the number of people you have forgiven - the friend at school who taunted you over grades, the snooty professor who troubled you with an assignment, and all those people who had made life difficult for you. It is sheer nirvana when you traverse all those episodes again and realize the wounds no longer bleed.

And then there are times when you mentally start filling in the missing details; the ones you deliberately left out because they belonged to you and nobody else. Guilty secrets, if I may call them. Some make you smile, some make you sigh, but most of them remind you that those were in fact the best moments of life.

As you complete the journey down memory lane, you are reminded that not all memories can be frozen in a frame or captured in words. Some are best left wafting around the mind and lingering in the heart.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

A time to stand and stare

I remember my first day at the Sathaye college library. I was a new entrant into FYJC and college life on the whole. In fact, I think I was in the library to avoid being ragged by the SYJC seniors (It was later that I realized that students in SYJC do not attend college :D).

I cant recollect what I was reading. I'm sure it wasnt anything to my liking, because most of the time, I was listening to the discussion two FYBSc girls at my table were having. They were trying to solve some maths problem. I remember one of them. She was dark and had long hair tied in a neat plait. Her spectacles gaver her a nerdy look and she kept saying 'If G is abelian, then...'. It sounded all wise and fancy to me. 'Abelian' is a nice-sounding word. Then she said something that made me take notice. "What do we do now?", the friend asked when they got stuck with the solution. "Now we stare at it.", the girl said. And they both just sat and stared at the half-solved problem, till something struck them.

'Stand and stare'. It is such a powerful way of solving things. It forces us to slow down and watch the problem from a distance. And it is amazing how much better it is to be an outsider to all the chaos. The mind is clear of clutter and we can think more clearly. And that is when the solution strikes.

Stare-at-the-problem-till-something-strikes has been one thing I have oft done since then, albeit subconsciously. And whenever I do that, I am drawn back to that rainy afternoon in the library.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Hey, don I speak English?

I had read about England and Englishmen in the works of Wodehouse, Forster and the likes. I knew all about their stiff-upper-lip, their love for the evening tea, their lack of panic (or emotions) in situations of crisis.

But yesterday, when I met a real Englishman and started conversing with him in his mother-tongue, it suddenly struck me how different our styles are. To start with, I greeted him as 'Hi FirstName' instead of the customary, 'Good Morning Mr. Lastname'. I am not sure how it struck him. All through the day, I found myself using short sentences, incomplete ones too (which is grammatically incorrect), dropping syllables like silencing the 't' in 'dont' and the 'f' in 'of course'. I felt I was using a drawl, which stood out against his crystal-cut accent.

And that is when I realized how all those years of interacting with Americans in the IT industry, all those movies, and the attempts to sound cool and trendy have profoundly distorted the so-called Queen's English that we leant in school. It is now flavoured with the American accent, tempered with its grammar, particulary the verbs (Brazil are a great team/Brazil is a great team), and seasoned with a dash of American slangs.

Do I regret it? Not one bit! Because language should always evolve to survive. It is only when new words are added to it and new intonations get associated with its words, that a language stays relevant. And that, I think, is the very reason why English has such a wide acceptance.

N that reminds me, the next book on my wishlist - 'We are like that only'!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

An 'Unconquered' Dilemma

It was a Saturday afternoon, and I was busy doing what I love the most - reading. And this time, it was Somerset Maugham. The short story was titled 'The Unconquered'.

Maugham narrates the tale of a German soldier, Hans, who is posted to a French village near Soissons, after a hostile takeover by Germany. In a state of drunkenness, he rapes a farmer's daughter. He keeps running into her quite often since then, and tries to strike a rapport, just for fun. The farmer's daughter, Annette, is a school teacher and a true French patriot. She loathes the Germans, and particularly her perpetrator, with a fierce passion. Her hatred causes Hans to become more obsessed with her. Eventually, he realizes that she is carrying his child, and that she could not rid herself of it.

The thought of the child evokes a strange tenderness within Hans, and he offers to marry Annette. By this time, the farmer and his wife are won over, but Annette refuses and remains stubbornly firm. As she gives birth to the child, her mother sends the message to Hans. Hans rushes over to visit his child. When the farmer's wife goes to fetch her grandson, she realizes that mother and child are both missing. As panic strikes the room, Annette walks in through the door and tells Hans that she drowned the child in the river. Hans screams like a wounded animal and rushes out through the door. And Annette feels proud that she has remained the unconquered.

As the narrative closed, I kept asking myself whether it was right for Annette to kill the child. Does a mother have the right to decide whether the child should live or not? What motivated her to take such a drastic step? Was it revenge against her rapist, patriotic feelings, societal norms against a child born out of a wedlock, or pure egoism?

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

On P.G. Wodehouse

There is a charm to the way PGW writes. He has the most eccentric characters I have ever known. His protagonists range from disillusioned lovers to dog-biscuit salesmen to obsessed earls. His characters have an earthly flavour that makes them all-humourous, all-endearing and all-so-timeless.

What amazes me is the humour that he manages to concoct out of everyday occurences. It is marvellous what a random thought can transform into. Use of irony, toungue-in-cheek humour & good grammar can translate a drab idea into an interesting read. A mundane incident becomes the most loved story and 'Plum' becomes one of the most popular humourists of all times. That is the magic of Pelham Grenville Wodehouse!