Thursday, September 22, 2005

Errant strand of hair

It was her husband’s birthday, yet it was she who felt older somehow. She looked at the sink full of dishes, clothes that either needed to be washed, ironed or folded; mixed together in a sickening mound of natural and man made fibres. But first – dinner. The fridge was almost empty. A gnarled radish sat forlorn in the corner. Potatoes past their shelf life let out a faint, radio active green gleam. ‘Beggars can’t be choosers’ she thought, hating herself immediately for the cliché.

Maybe she wouldn’t cook tonight she thought. But as she rifled through the take away menus, a wave of guilt flooded her. No she would cook herself, hoping the action would help her gain acceptance in the eyes of all those wives before her. Women who had set the bar far too high for her petite 5 foot 2 frame.

Proceedings were slow in the kitchen that night. The radioactive potatoes began to look like nuclear waste as they boiled, and her recalcitrant pressure cooker refused to open. After an hour of simmering and sautéing, she settled down in front of the tv, meal on lap, channel tuned to a hindi serial. She had gotten used to eating with the cast of weeping bahus and tyrannical saasu-mas.

Meal and melodrama over, she looked with dread at kitchen sink. ‘I’ll do it tomorrow she thought. Who says they have to be done tonight?’ She waited a moment, almost expecting a benign spirit to pop through the woodwork and state that one of the tenets of being a good housewife washing the vessels every night.

She trudged upstairs to fold and hang the clothes up to dry. She looked at the guest room bed, and could hardly make out the silk duvet under all the clothes. As she sat folding and sorting them out, she felt that first ominous pang of emotion. She was going to cry. She swallowed the lump in her throat and began hanging the clothes out to dry on the radiator. She felt the first tear roll down her throat and knew it was useless holding the others back. She sat on the edge of the bed, the damp baniyan in her hand and sobbed. She didn’t know how long she sat there like that, crying and wiping the tears away with a freshly laundered sock.

The feelings subsided. She washed her face, brushed her teeth and oiled her hair. Tucking the unnamed emotions away as one would an errant strand of hair.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

On a pedestal

When I was growing up I had no role models – well no famous ones at least. There were no posters of sports stars and celebrities who inspired me – though I am ashamed to admit Akshay Kumar adorned the back of my door for a brief period. (An episode I can only blame on the effect of artificial food colourings on a child’s brain). Back to the topic at hand though.

I did have role models in my family though – I admired my sister’s dedication to her studies, my father’s cool head and my mother’s way with people. There was the uncle upstairs who could identify every raga known to classical music and a Sanskrit teacher who was the epitome of knowledge and goodness. But I wasn’t one for knowing what was so-and-so’s favourite food, what what’s-his-name’s dog was called, or how many shoes her-name-fails me had. But that was just me I guess.

While the rest of my generation idolised sports stars and the odd thespian, today’s children look up to a whole host of pr-savvy, media packaged stars from every field imaginable. Footballers and their wives are revered and worshipped everywhere. But how accountable can we hold them?

After their recent Ashes victory the England Cricket team went on a 24 hour partying binge. The papers splashed pictures of a red-eyed Freddy Flintoff holding an assortment of alcoholic beverages and cigars, being supported by team mates as he stumbled in to No 10. While most people felt that it was a well-earned celebration, there was a section of the media and public that felt that Mr. Flintoff was setting a poor example to all those kids who thought of him as a hero.

Even more recently, Kate Moss has been all over the tabloids and telly for snorting cocaine and having lesbian threesomes with others of the infamous Primrose Hill Set. The 31 year old supermodel is said to spend £200 a day on coke and her on again off again druggie boyfriend doesn’t help matters. After the grainy images of Ms. Moss snorting lines off a CD were published, the media was sure that her million pound contracts with Dior, Burberry and H&M would be under threat. While the former two fashion houses have not made any comments regarding the incident, H&M initially supported Moss and said that they had no intention of terminating her £1 million dollar contract. But in a sudden volte-face a day later they issued a statement saying that they had had to let go of her as her actions were in conflict with their no-drugs stance. A wise move, as most of their clientele are young teenage girls who already think that Ms Moss rocks.

But is it fair? As much as we all bitch about them, celebs do have a tough time. How would we like it if our every move was scrutinised, our every outfit attacked and every aspect of our life dissected. Would making millions every year make up for having a messy divorce and custody battle becoming tabloid fodder? Should a role-model status be foisted on celebs who – lets face it have no business being role models? I mean seriously, other than being blessed with great cheekbones and a photogenic face what has Miss Moss got to teach kids? It’s the media that makes these celebs out as demi-gods and the same media that snatches the pedestals away from under their rather fit rear ends.

It’s hard enough being a teenager today. For many of them, as sad and pathetic as it sounds, these celebrities are the only people they have to look up to. But who should we blame? Celebs who don’t take being a role model seriously? The media for
over–hyping anyone with a modicum of success in their chosen field? Kids for not being more discerning in their choices? Or parents for not providing their children with someone to look up to closer home?

All this makes me very grateful for the role models I had growing up. I know their birthdays, what their favourite food is and till date none of them have had a not-so-secret drug habit. Thanks for not screwing up Mom and Dad.

UPDATE The media frenzy continues...all the tabloids today reported that Miss Moss has been dropped by Burberry, Chanel and possibly Vanderbilt Jeans. The head of the Met POlice Sir Ian Blair wants to get personally involved with a case investigating her drug habits, and social workers are going to see whether she's a fit parent or not. 'Cocaine Kate' and 'Kate Cracking up' are the buzz words of the day...

Monday, September 19, 2005

Sign up!

Ok people! Get your wallets out for this

Time to do a good turn for someone else and stop stuffing your face with croissants!

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Biologists around the world are rejoicing at a new species they have recently discovered.

Lollipop (Bimboentess Anoerexius) Found predominantly in hilly areas, these creatures are believed to thrive in the sunshine and are attracted to excessive amounts of attention. Attracted to sudden, bright flashes of light they can be spotted by excessively large, often empty heads and disproportionately stick-like bodies, hence the name. Their food habits puzzle zoologists, as they seem to eat nothing but air.


The sun plays hide and seek
Perma tans melt
Revealing strawberry and cream freckles
Turtle necks creep up slender throats
The brave, foolish and hopeful shiver in their cotton garb
Ignoring the uninvited guest that stands at their door

Monday, September 12, 2005

When you're detoxing each aroma inhaled assaults the senses like one of Govinda's yellow and purple outfits. After a weekend of binging on every evil known to weighing scales and hips, I vowed that every Monday would be a day devoted to cleansing my system with fresh fruit and veg. Now the wisdom of doing this on a Monday is - well there is no wisdom. I'd bought enough fresh fruit to win the Guinness book's biggest fruit cake record, and god dammit I was gonna eat some fruit.

So Monday morning dawned dull and overcast as it is want to in this part of the world. As I reached for the filter and carefully rationed Leo Coffee Powder my slumber laden eyes caught sight of this sign that my own treacherous hands had penned. 'hot water + lime + honey in the morning :)' As I fought the urge to wipe the grin off the smiley's non-existent face, I gulped down then concoction through gritted teeth. A feat that deserved a Guinness Record of it’s own if you ask me.

An hour and a banana later, my week had gotten off to a wonderful start. A headache was buzzing around me trying to wangle its way through my nose (My headphones effectively blocking out the most natural entry point). However it was as I entered the bowels of the London Underground that my half full bag of woes began to get heavier and heavier.

Chicken sandwiches began to smell alarmingly tempting. Not good for a life long vegetarian. Every coffee, latte and espresso in a 10-mile radius had my mouth watering. (There’s a poster of me up on the tube as a Dangerous Pervert who gets her jollies sniffing other people’s cappuccinos.)

I had to run to my platform to escape the call of the Danish Pastries at King’s Cross. They sat in rows, tarted up like mermaids singing out to sailors whose fate was already doomed.

I clawed my way to a seat and wedged myself between two other commuters. I regretted it immediately as I found myself surrounded by bagels, wraps and subs. I was a gladiator trapped in a calorific Coliseum. I took a big defiant bite of my apple. (Which kind of looked like a donut at the time)

The rest of the day passed by in a blur of pears, seedless grapes and caffeine free coffee. I’m ashamed to admit it, but every time I felt a salt craving I sucked my thumb (Now my colleagues think I have suppressed childhood traumas that are manifesting through finger sucking and the Telitubbies screensaver on my computer)

So here are my top tips for detoxing:
1) Lots of fresh fruit and veggies
2) Drink enough water to have to pee every half hour
3) Use your imagination! If you’re really creative you can make a cucumber look like a Frankie 4) Distract yourself when your feeling hungry. If you tear your hair out trying to Sudoku your hunger will seem trifling compared to a bald patch

Now excuse me while I stock up on some chocolate flavoured lip balm.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Studio 55

Saw this on Prufrock's blog and thought it would be a fun thing to do. Here are my 55 word short stories.

Fear 1

Her skirt billowed behind her as she walked home. The first tug at her skirt made her think of the drunk at the station. She walked faster. The second tug made her whirl around, ‘bastard’ threatening to slide off the tip of her tongue. Nothing but empty space and the hem caught in her shoe.

Fear 2

She hurried along the alley, the overflowing bin a safe distance from her nose. She realised too late that she had left the front door open to axe murderers, rapists and the boogie man. The rest of the evening was spent downstairs, jumping at every moaning pipe and rustling tree. A knife under the cushion.

(Both are 'based' on things that have happened to me. Yes I'm a scaredy cat. And yes. I'm stupid)

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Of kozhakattais and paper umbrellas

Happy Ganesh Chaturthi people! This is one of my favourite festivals! Kozhakattais being only one of the many reasons why.

I have some lovely memories of Ganesh Chathurthi. When my Grandmother was living with us, I remember her frail frame swathed in a nine-yard cocoon of silk. She would sit on the kitchen floor and make her famous sweet and uppu kozhakattais, making delicate petal shaped cases for the sweet and savoury fillings. My sister and I would pester her and she would reluctantly agree to let us help. Our own cases were either too thick or too thin, but she would always include them in the pressure cooker telling us that they were just fine.

I remember going with my mother to Madavidhi in Madras and picking out our mann-pulaiyar and colourful paper umbrella to stave off the opressive heat.

I remember the giant puliayar statue in my college courtyard (I went to an unashamedly hindu college) that we would chat with every morning before heading to the day's first lecture. The day before chaturthi we would have a big puja and all of us would head back to class clutching sweet boondhi and some mixture.

I remember my first visarjan day in Bombay. I had no idea why people were packing up at 12:30 in the afternoon and getting ready to go home. A colleague dropped me under the Mahim - Bandra flyover and I remember walking home passed throngs of people carrying Ganeshas of all shapes and sizes, shouting out an unheard slogan 'Ganpathi Bappa Morya!'

I remember a year later, driving home from an office party on visarjan day and watching the famous Lal Bhag Ka Raja being escorted to his watery abode. It's a sight I will never forget. It was about 2 am and there were thousands of people lined along the road side waiting for their beloved saviour to give them darshan. The float itself was gigantic. Priests walked alongside it distributing prasad to the devotees.

This year will give me no memories of floats and kozhakattais. There will be no Nepean Sea rd Ganpati Mandal playing songs and dancing outside my window at 2 am. But there will be the memories of all the Ganesh Chaturtis gone past to give me comfort. (And Sundal and paysam that would have made my paati proud)

Monday, September 05, 2005


I try not to hate Monday mornings... really I do. So when I woke up today with a splitting headache, I told myself 'Don't blame Monday, it could have happened any other day of the week. Relax, today will be fine.'

I trudged downstairs for my morning shot of caffeine. No disasters there. And then as I looked through the kitchen window I noticed it. Rain. In the night. And all the clothes I'd forgotten to bring inside drenched in it. Crisp white handkerchiefs drooping under the weight of the absorbed water like forlorn peace flags.

'Take a deep breath. Do not flip out. It's ok.' I repeated the mantra to myself as I wrung the clothes out and hung them inside the living room.

A few asprins and a hot shower later, the ache in my head had subsided to a nagging pain. As I dabbed on the war paint, God and Monday plucked the final straw right out of my desperate fingers. There, on the side of my face the first signs of... pimples.


It's official. I have declared war on Monday. The day no longer exists for me. I have washed my hands of it, like fathers do of libidinous daughters in Tamil films.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Got Milk?

Heard on Radio 4's morning news

" ...and in other news a thief has been terrorising a London neighbourhood by stealing the residents' milk bottles from their doorsteps. The thief sometimes leaves mocking notes for his victims saying 'Fancy your cereal dry?' "

There's nothing like a weird bit of news to get the day going!