Tuesday, February 28, 2006


His birth will herald a new beginning. Or so the local Pundit said.

A century monopolised by female offspring ends. The village celebrates. Fireworks swallow his cries and a distant rumbling. Exhaustion claims the jubilant but not him. Brooding purples and an invisible assassin seep into the morning sky. His mother smiles one last time ‘He’s stopped crying.’ The slate is wiped clean.

I wish I could tell you about myself but I’m not sure who I am.

Second born. Female. Indian. London via Thuvakudi-Madras-Hong Kong-London-Abu Dhabi-Madras-Bombay. Failed engineer. Cynical copywriter. Wife. “Chatter box” “Must try harder” “The family’s best daughter-in-law”. Geography, society, family and friends have already decided who I am. I haven’t. 50 words for an autobiography only seems inadequate when you know who you are.


It is your turn to be a miniaturist - to write your own shortest of short stories...

Your mini-saga must be exactly 50 words long. (Hyphenated words can be counted as one word or two, at your discretion.) In addition it must carry a title of no more than 15 words, which will, ideally, set the scene and illuminate or counterpoint the text.

Most important, your story must have a beginning, a middle and an end. Something must happen, preferably something which will keep the reader thinking. Fifty dazzlingly deployed words of description or reflection will not do.

1 Evolution, Einstein, East Enders, feminism, terrorism, television, Romeo and Juliet, Bill and Ben, Fish and Chips... Write a mini-saga ABOUT ANYTHING YOU LIKE.
2 Write another mini-saga about your life -- that is, your autobiography. (Don't feel obliged to reveal deep dark secrets!)


Here's another fiction one I did for fun.

Sorry to be such a bother but …

“A triumphant debut” Rushdie. Booker and Whitbread pop into conversations like neighbours that need sugar. People want to know her opinion. On Baghdad, bird flu and black as the new black. She looks at the blank page that stands in the way, picks up her pen and begins to write.

A Long, long way

No this isn’t a book review of my current read. I’m terrible at book and film reviews. But you already knew that didn’t you? Oh, you didn’t? Well read this. Now you do.

No, no. This is about something that takes up a good three hours of my day. Every day. I wish I could say that deep contemplation, meditation and tantric sex are what take up one eight of my daily schedule, but the truth is that that time is sacredly allotted to commuting to work and back.

Now much of my morning commute is a haze because I’m usually not fully awake until my third cup of coffee. It’s the journey home that I am painfully awake for. All one and half hours of it.

The journey begins with the brief walk from office to station, which includes a much dreaded scurry past the local Indian (read Bangladeshi) takeaway. The proprietor and waiters of the establishment are quite convinced that I am a Bangladeshi myself and often stopped and offered me a job bussing tables. A pleasurable task no doubt as it would afford me the chance to study the large painting that adorns the far wall at the back. So far I have recognised Amitabh Bachchan and Ganhdi seated on a stage of some sort surrounded by bolsters and hookahs. Bussing tables would let me confirm if it's Mallika Sherawat seated to the left. I hear the tips aren’t too mean either.

Having dodged the balti boys as I affectionately call them I arrive at the station. Now my train is always late. Always. Every day. Without fail. Like clockwork really. I like to look at the trees philosophically and ponder on the meaning of life at this time. Usually because the other desi girls on the platform avoid my friendly glances. I think the odour of the balti boy’s chicken tikka masala clinging to my coat puts them off.

Now though my train is meant to only make 3 stops, like a dog that wants to sniff every tree it passes my train likes to pause at all stations but without peeing. But I don’t mind. I have my I-pod, a book, what’s left of the morning paper, my imaginary friends George and Brad and if I’m feeling particularly pretentious a little notebook I like to whip out and pretend to write the next Booker in. (But there is always someone more pretentious than me. Honest. Like the girl who whipped out algebra course material in French yesterday 2 minutes before the train terminated at King’s Cross. You win I said and muttered ‘Bitch’ to George.)

If you’re all thinking “Finally the train has stopped and this tortuous post is over”. HA and double HA! That’s just the beginning my lovelies. From platform 9A I make my way to the tube. This is something like a cat trying to cross the Serengeti during the annual wildebeest migration. Sometimes I think carrying a backpack over my head and running fast might help. Sometimes I think that might get me shot at.

Right. So now I’m on the Northbound train chugging along home. Ignoring the man talking to himself and try to cop and eye at the cover of Heat. Making moral judgements on sweet teenage girls dressed in the latest pimp ‘n’ whore gear. Wondering why… Ah! My station’s arrived. From the station to the bus stop I keep my head down. This is to avoid getting jeered at and bullied by children half my age and size. I can see the disbelief in your eyes. She’s scared of children? Well you’d be scared of 12 year olds too if they all called each other bitch, wanker, fuckhead, slag and slapper. I’m sure they all come from broken homes and that the drug, alcohol and excessive underage sex makes them feel more loved and accepted. But seeing as I don’t want to be part of their happy slapping therapy I walk fast.

On my bus. Heading home. My stop arrives. I’m walking fast and looking confident so that rapists/murders and shoe thieves know that they can’t mess with me. At the front door to my building. Home is but locked door away. But first I need to check if I have any post. So I stand in the cold groping in the bottomless pit that is my bag for the keys. A neighbour comes in after me opens his post box, fishes out his mail and even opens the front door. And I’m still looking. He’s politely holding the door open for me. My keys! Yes! I open the post box with great anticipation hoping for letters from long lost friends and secret admirers. Nothing. But hey I did get three invitations from Don Pepe’s Pizza Parlour. That has to count for something. I meekly thank my neighbour who now resembles a pissed off snowman and skulk up to my front door.

I’m home. Finally. I told you it was a long, long way.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Next stop: Booksville

The subject of a recent ‘tag’ exercise got me observing the reading habits of my co-commuters on the tube (now you know where I got those high falutin book titles on my tag from.) A feat I hope my readers appreciate, as many of my side-long, sneaky glances were construed to be of the amorous kind by a number of men. (No women sadly. After receiving a love letter from a female classmate at the age of 11 I stopped possessing any lesbian qualities whatsoever.) But I digress. Back to tomes on the tube.

There are the usual suspects. Silly sods still reading The DaVinci Code and Harry Potter and The Philosophers Stone. Try not to smirk or look pityingly at them as you may get your foot trod on ‘accidentally’ as they alight from the train. Or worse they may make it know silently but aromatically that they ate beans for their last meal.

Many devour what is known as chick-lit (not to be confused with chiclets. Though both possess an annoying sweet flavour). The trend in this genre was once about finding Mr. Right. But since readers have gone on to find soul mates – but not-sharing the washing up-mates, the new wave of books has gone on to depict domestic bliss. “The Undomestic Goddess” (Don’t do the washing up – dirt and germs are so much sexier!) “I had a baby and got a lobotomy for free”. “And God created the Au Pair.”
“I had a baby but didn’t become a Yummy Mummy.” “The Au Pair got my husband and money and all I got was the baby.” All wonderful reads.

Late night trains are ideal for spotting those with ‘issues’. But beware, some have mineral deficiencies and candy related mental traumas which may cause them to bear their teeth at you should you try and sit next to them. “Chicken Soup for the Soul” “Lentil Soup for the liver” “The 7 steps to being successful that you already knew but never bothered to write a book about” are most popular. Yesterday I secretly observed a lady reading (and thoroughly enjoying) “Why Men Love Bitches”. Noting her purple cord trousers and yellow windcheater I was moved to suggest ‘What not to Wear’ as more suitable but remembered the mineral deficiency issue and wisely kept quiet.

Sound characterises the erotica/romance reader. No need to look at the cover of the book my friends. Keep you ears wide open for sighs, heavy breathing and subtle moans. Such readers are also characterising by strenuous toe flexing and relaxation (not to be confused with toe calisthenics) and profuse sweating - a dead give away given current weather conditions.

I must admit that all of last week my choice of reading material garnered me more than one worried look. Perhaps I should have kept “American Psycho” for reading at home.


I hated playing tag in school. Alas I can not avoid it in the blogosphere. Promises of fondue and some 'buttering up' have forced me in to playing.

So here is my book tag 30in2005 and Mumbaigirl.

1. What is the total number of books you've owned?

About 300.

2. What are the last books you bought?
From The Oxfam Bookstore at Heretfordhsire and Welywn Garden City

Vikram Seth – Two Lives
American Psycho – Bret Easton Ellis
The Complete Book of Vegetarian Cooking
The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
The Penguin Book of International Women's Stories - Edited by Kate Figgs

3. What is the last book you've read?

American Psycho- Bret Easton Ellis

Scary, funny, gory.

4. What are you currently reading?

Eragorn - Christopher Paollini

Book 2 in the story of a boy, his dragon, elves, dwarves and great fun.

A long, long way – Sebastien Barry

World War I through the eyes of a young Irish soldier.

Back issues of Smoke a London Peculiar

An indie magazine full of stories, poetry and art inspired by London.

5. What are the 5 books that have meant a lot to you or that you particularly enjoyed?

Mr Men Series – Roger Hargreaves
Where would I be without Mr. Jelly and Little Miss. Naughty?

Revolting Rhymes – Roald Dahl. Illustrations Quentin Blake
Would recite these poems to my parent’s friends when they came round for dinner. I never knew if their red faces were because of the ‘rude bits’ or too much whisky.

Are you there God it’s me Margaret – Judy Blume
Perfectly captures growing pains. Ah how we all yearned to get our periods as young 10 year old girls . If only we knew.

Little Women - Louisa M. Alcott
First book that made me cry.

Wuthering Heights – Bronte

The prototype for every Mills&Boon hero ever created. Sadly the dark, conniving heroine didn’t catch on.

100 Hundred Years of Solitude - Marquez

The buterflies!

Hey whipple squeeze this – Luke Sullivan

Read as a young trainee living in the bubble world of advertising.

No Logo – Naomi Klein

Burst aforementioned bubble.

6) What book(s) would you wish to buy next?

Shantaram - Gregory David Roberts
The Entire Calvin & Hobbes Series
Delta of Venus – Anais Nin.

7. What book(s) caught your attention but you never had a chance to read?
Gulag Archipelago - Aleksandr Isaevich Solzhenitsyn
Waiting for Godot - Samuel Beckett
A Clockwork Orange - Anothony burgess

8. What book(s) that you've owned for so long but never read?Grapes of wrath - Steinbeck
Catch 22 – Joseph Heller
Roots – Alex Haley
The Tin Drum - Gunter Grass
Mrs. Dalloway - Virginia Woolf

9. Who are you going to pass this stick to (3 persons) and why?

sorry for doing this to you guys. Please feel free not to comply :)

Falstaff - have you read his blog?
Sonia Faleiro - have you read her blog?
Kaaju Katli - have you read her blog?


kamikaze fairies
swirl down
on wings of frozen water
gloved hands
and matching raspberry tongue.
there is no glory
in a soft death

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

She's got the look

Well that's what I thought with the red lacy template. Some people liked it and some hated it. And then there were the ones who couldn't read the posts. Oh and the family members who threatend to divorce and disown me. So I have changed the look. But remember, I may change my template but never my taste in music. Hail Roxette!


Ok so I changed the look again. I blame the black and blue anomaly on the cold. It's numbed my brain. But please. Don't take Roxette away from me.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

To market to market - 2

The smells – roast chestnuts in EC2 and frying vadais in Matunga. The people – Jamaicans, Bangladeshis or masala dosais (as I was once referred to by a Bombay cabbie). The goods – Reebook shoes with slightly askew Nike swooshes (slowly and sadly being replaced by annoying near perfect replicas), plastic buckets and miracle window cleaners that need divine intervention to work at home. The feeling that you’ve outwitted and outpouted your friends and scored the bargain of the century. Aren’t markets wonderful?

My love for them has taken me from sulking in Maadavidhi to being delighted in Camden and robbed in Matunga. While shopping on Oxford Street gives a buzz that’s better than too much Benadryl, there’s nothing like a trawl through Portobello, Greenwhich or Camden Lock.

How Vulgar

One of the oldest London street markets, Petticoat Lane was established over 400 years ago by The Huguenots. The prudish Victorians changed the name of the Lane and market to avoid referring to women's underclothes! I wonder what they’d think of the Union Jack thongs that flutter in the wind now?

Glitzy shoes, last seasons must haves or ‘genuine’ leather coats for just £24.99? Sinatra or reggae? Fried seafood or hot sausage rolls? Just the white turtleneck or the brown cable knit too? Shall we keep going straight or turn right here? This market throws a volley of questions at you. The hawkers smile, cajole and call out. In the midst all the colour and fun a sullen brown council estate. Behind it the tip of The Gherkin juts out. Should I stand there and ponder on this juxtaposition of rich and poor? Before I decide I’m jostled by a burkha glad girl with an East London accent and a glittering nose pin – ‘Scuse me!’ I sing along with Frank – ‘Strangers in the Night, exchanging glances…’ I’m surrounded by people I don’t know. And fall a bit in love.

S&M at Spitalfield

A Patisserie Valeria. The cult makeup brand Benefits. Organic burgers for £10. ‘Old’ Spitalfields Market is anything but. It’s cleaner. Upmarket. Affluent. International. ‘Vietnamese’ bamboo bags. Hungarian food. Japanese stall owners. No one calls out. No one pushes. No puddles to jump over or ugly bags to make fun of. It’s cool, trendy and achingly hip. Like the S&M cafĂ© (Sausages and Mash) – carefully framed yellowing posters and gleaming red and white chequered tablecloths. Old fashioned. But new. I shop. We eat.

My mind keeps going back to Petticoat Lane. Two streets and a world apart.

Monday, February 20, 2006


“Take me hoooome country roooooads to the plaaace where I be-”

The off-key crooning reached her through the ageing bathroom door.

“Are you done?” she enquired tentatively.

“-looong! West Virginiaaa Moun-”

“Hey! Are you done?”

“Nope! Mountain Mamaaaa-”

“Well how long are you going to take?” She asked hopping from one foot to another.

“I just got in. Another 45 minutes maybe?”

“45 minutes? Look I really need to go”

“You always do this. Every fucking morning. What’s the point of waking up early-”

“I know. I know. I’m sorry but please just today” she whined placing her forehead against the door.

“Fine. But you’ve got to wait. I’m halfway through Greenspan’s interview on Econo-“

“I’m about to soil myself and you want to – look just get out! Get out! Get out! Get out!” she screamed not caring if the neighbours heard through the thin walls of the apartment.

“You know that attitude won’t help you.” Even though she couldn’t see him he raised his nose snootily as he said this.

“Fine. 5 minutes. I’ll be back”

“Hasta La-”

She stomped off not waiting for the rest of his taunting comeback.

“Ok. Keep walking. Take your mind off it. Don’t think about it. Dust something. Plump a cushion. What should I make for dinner? Maybe I should call Mom. Maybe I should pack my lunch. Maybe I should do the dishes. Maybe I should have married someone who could afford a flat with two bathrooms.” She muttered as retraced her steps back to the bathroom door. “Right. Time’s up!”

“You’ve been gone exactly 30 seconds… and all your screaming has frightened my bowels. I get another extra minute.”

“I hate you. After I go I’m leaving you.” She hissed as she rattled the doorknob.

“But after you go won’t you already be – gone?”

“Ha Ha! Smarty pants”

“Since you’ve been goooone”

“Kelly Clarkson? That’s it! You’ve had it” She screeched pummelling the door with both hands.

“Are you trying to break the door down? How very Jack Nicholson…the axe is in the airing cupboard. Heeeer’es Johhnie!”

His bellowing laugh shook her out of the demented door banging and she backed away.

“I’ll teach that lying, sneaky, smug, two face-”

“There. All yours.” The narrow passage reverberated with the whooshing of the noisy cistern and his voice.

“Ass hole.” She muttered kicking him as she entered the bathroom.

She sat down and sighed in relief as the anger flowed out.

“You there? I love you.”

“Me too”


Two characters are 'talking'. Pretend it's a script, with no prose at all in between. Your characters are in conflict (that doesn't necessarily mean an argument.) Make the dialogue work very very hard. Consider the possibilities of irony, misunderstanding, humour, subtext, differing perspectives, contrast between voices... What is NOT said?

IF you have time, go back and add only the most necessary prose in between the speaking parts:
-- to identify or locate characters (eg "she was still in her school uniform", "he was sitting on a pile of pumpkins", "they had reached the top floor where the view...", "It was 1789 and Paris was...")
-- to clarify important or unspoken action (eg "he dropped the gun", "her perfume reminded him of his stepmother", "the car didn't stop", "the chandeliers shook with the first roll of thunder"...)

Please bring clear copies to class next week. Your work will be read out by others.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006


The first thing she notices when she enters the room is the way it smells. Not a strong signature scent but apple-jilebi. Banana-rose. Milk-disinfectant. Whifflings born from the copulation of several distinct odours. She inhales the bouquet deeply and in return offers the room her own – a mixture of fear, sweat and sickly sweet perfume.

The door shuts gently behind her. Blocking out the girlish giggles of the family's 60 year old matrons and draping the room in darkness. She shuffles forward and makes a haphazard left, unsure of her way. Her soft feet squish against the worn, grimy floor, seeking out the well-defined borders of each square tile. She pauses and fingers (toes?) a tiny crater she chances upon at the corner of a slab.

Her jangling anklets are halted as she bumps in to something hard. The bed. Her mother-in-law had pointed at this ageing four-poster behemoth earlier and cracked a ribald joke that had made her blush.

A quilt has been thrown over the mattress in an attempt to disguise its hard and lumpy terrain. The bed is high and she is forced to clamber inelegantly upon it. She puts a tentative hand out to explore the quilt. Softness and then a little bump. Softness. Another bump. It is embroidered. She seeks out the trail of tiny thread hillocks trying to decipher what they form. A blue elephant? A gaudy pink paisley? A mythical white swan? She turns her face and is gently slapped by a long, snakelike garland of flowers – rose, jasmine, marigold. They wind their way across the beams of the bed. Benign serpents that cast off their perfumed skin on every available surface.

As she lets out a soft sigh a stronger gust of air blows through an open window behind the bed. It brings with it dust, clues about the neighbour's dinner and the strains of an old film song. She jumps off her perch, boredom driving her to explore her new surroundings. No longer afraid she makes her way around the bed. Keeping one hand on it though. Just in case.

The bed ends and she puts her arms out front. Playing blind mans bluff with the dark. She stops when her fingers find a wall and gropes the surface. It is flaky and leaves her fingertips coated with a chalky powder. Cheap distemper. A half-hearted attempt to spruce up an old room for a new bride. She walks on dragging her fingers over the wall leaving in her wake paint slivers and the occasional stray flower from her headdress.

The wall gives way to a surface of smoother finish. A cold, metallic handle forces itself in to her hand, begging to be pulled. She pauses waiting for the room to give her – its new mistress some indication of its approval. But it remains dark and silent. Almost hostile. Taking this as a sign she moves on, leaving the mysterious door for another day.

Her nose guides her to where the sweets and fruits have been kept. She knows that they are arranged on the ornate silver plates that are a part of her dowry. Sweets rich in milk,ghee, saffron and coconut. Ripe bananas, guavas and apples.
The banana doubling as an incense stick holder. Hungry, she reaches out touching sticky, soft treats until her fingers close over the coiled body of a jilebi.

The door suddenly opens and she hears the click of the light switch. She shuts her eyes blocking out the two intruders. Her new husband. And the light.

The assignment

Describe a room. It can be any room. Imagined, remembered, dreaded, loved, public, private, empty, full of people, fictional, personal...

Know your room before you start writing about it.

Your audience should be able to know your room as well as you do. They should be able to see it, smell it, feel it. If you don’t know your room inside-out, your uncertainty will leak through tiny cracks in the prose.

Each student has the additional task of writing within specified stylistic restrictions.


Not sure if I've managed to carry out the task fully. I feel as though something is missing. Feedback as always is appreciated!

Thursday, February 09, 2006


I’ve been lying for hours here in the bushes. On my back. In the cold. My legs up in the air and held in place by invisible stirrups. If my mother saw me right now she would hang her head in shame. But she isn’t. So I feel shame on her behalf. For lying on my back with my legs in the air.

Understandably I am upset. Not just because of my situation. But because no one seems to have realised that I’m missing. Now don’t go jumping to conclusions. I’m not some antisocial recluse. In fact I go out of my way to get to know people. To help them. Sometimes I think people take advantage of me. Push me around. Tell me what to do. But I don’t complain. I know my station in life. I do as I’m told. And this is what I get in return. I end up lying on my back in the cold with my legs up in the air.

I can see my so-called friends from where I lie. They’re only a few hundred yards away. Huddled up and gossiping about the day. The strong boasting about how much work they got done. The old and the lame standing at the fringes quietly remembering their own glory days. None of them have realised that I’m missing. When I get out of this mess they’re going to find out just what I think of them. But right now, I’m lying on my back in the cold with my legs up in the air.

Quite a few people have walked by. Some of them have seen me. But they avert their gaze before our eyes meet. Once eyes meet a person feels bound to come over and help. A strange human trait. So to avoid the inconvenience they look away. “Why bother.” They’re all thinking. “It’s not my problem. Why get involved.”

I wish I could feel indignant. But what right does an overturned Tesco Trolley have to feel indignant. So I lie there. On my back. In the cold. With my legs up in the air.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Assignment 2

The 5 minute interview
Dirk Dawson

The Independent
December 12th, 2005
I wish people would take more notice of…

How hard it is to look sexy

As his grapefruit coloured eyes took an easy morning walk over his naked frame, Dirk Dawson decided with authority that he was still gorgeous. Which was quite an achievement considering the fact that he'd just celebrated his 47th birthday for the third year in a row. He was pretty sure that he could pass off for younger, but his agent was adamant that 47 be the official number.

As he stepped in to what his decorator had called a Brad Pitt meets Dalai Lama shower (serene but sexy) Dirk's thoughts wandered to last week. He'd been having a suit fitted at a store on Savile Row when a young couple had breezed in. He'd waited for the inevitable hovering and hesitant "Excuse me, but aren't you…?" but it never came. The young woman had walked straight past him as though he were a pinstriped mannequin and her boyfriend had been too busy convincing her that pinstripes were for old farts.

Dirk Dawson – the next 007?
Rolling Stone
January 1994

"Well fuck them. I'm 47 and don't need Viagra" Dirk muttered as he towelled himself dry. He thought of telling his agent Martine about what had happened but he didn't want another earful about reality shows giving him a younger fan base. There was no way he was going to get on TV in a red lycra cat suit and drink milk out of a some transvestite's hand. Or eat bugs and then defecate his lunch in front of a camera. He'd acted with Chevy Chase and presented an Oscar in the 80s for God's sake. He would have been James Bond too if that mick Pierce Brosnan hadn't agreed to work for a couple of million less. So what if a bunch of snot nosed kids didn't know who he was?

Supermodel's 'Dirky' little secret
The Daily Mail
February 14th, 1999

Dirk fumbled with his microdermabrasion kit. But it wasn't just the kids. There were the producers that promised to call but never did. Writers who seemed to write parts solely for faggot actors. So a few years ago Martine had started to carefully orchestrate 'scoops' that managed to keep him in circulation. There was the affair with the under age model. The stint at The Priory in '97 – even though it'd been about 12 years since he'd jacked up. There was the column he 'wrote' for a women's magazine on how to figure men out. But it was all PR bullshit and favours Martine pulled with editors who thought he was cool in a retro way. ("You used to wear Levis? No waaay!") None of it was real. Except The List.

Small town boy with big city dreams
June 1985

Every year middle aged women who had once taped his picture over their bed and thought of him in the shower voted him on to The100 Sexiest Men of the Year list.
Those women probably lived in Swansea now in some crap semi-detached with kids named Chardonnay or Chastity. But once upon on a time they used send him pictures of themselves in nothing but leg warmers. He reminded them of what it was like to be young and sexy and in return they voted for him. The List always got him work - a small role in a period production, a Panto during Christmas – even the odd commercial. He was hoping for something at the West End this year that didn't involve wearing harem pants and shaving his chest though. Dirk dressed with care. The List was going to be out today and he and Martine were meeting for a celebratory lunch.

David Cameron voted to 100 sexiest men list
The Independent
February 2nd 2006

Dirk sat in disbelief. His risotto was as cold as the feeling that weighed down on his heart. Edged off the list by that pudding-faced Tory prat? Because he cycled to work and had a slow son?

"I'm sorry Dirk - it isn't just about having a great ass anymore"

He glared at Martine. "Call them up. It's mistake or something. I can't be off the list."

Dirk Dawson tipped to win Celebrity Big Brother.
The Daily Mail
June 15th 2006


The assignment:

To choose a newspaper or magazine article that makes an impact on you. It can be a frivolous little bulletin from page XX or a major feature. The article can be about anything, but it should tell a factual story with a beginning, middle and end. Use the article as the basis for a fictional story of your own.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Nine yards of memories

To me a wardrobe is more than a structure that stores clothes, bags and accessories. I like to think of them as a repository of memories – happy ones, sad ones, funny and bittersweet ones.

Some clothes have such strong associations attached to them that long after they have ceased to fit or be fashionable I’ve still held on to them. They form tenuous if somewhat threadbare links to my past that I’m loathe to sever.

Like the tiny waistcoat I’ve had for a good 20 years now. In a lurid rani pink, it’s embellished with Chinese symbols and lined in white faux fur. Hardly a look for Spring/Summer 2006. But I remember wearing it to a birthday party (of a person who I can no longer remember) when I was five years old. It reminds me of a carefree time in my life when I could eat all the ice cream I wanted and not worry about the consequences. That’s the beauty of clothes - I may forget faces and names but I’ll always remember what I wore.

There’s the white dress my father bought me after a business trip to London. It hangs in my cupboard, the cellophane covering from a dry cleaning 12 years ago untouched. A denim jacket from my terrible tweens covered in lovingly collected buttons and badges that proclaimed I was ‘Single and ready to mingle’ or ‘One atom bomb is all it takes to ruin your day’.

There are the dresses I no longer possess but still remember. Like the beige and cream salwar I wore on my first day of college. And the leather Fab India satchel I had slung over my shoulder. Desi but not dehaat. Or at least I’d hoped so. The sari I wore for my school farewell. 6 metres of maroon organza dress material that were so transparent I still can’t show anyone the pictures.

There are the good, the bad and the ugly. Brand new, hateful hand me downs and delicious booty stolen from my sister’s cupboard. Atrocious denim capris embroidered with letters of the alphabet circa 1987. A black and red bandhini skirt that I wish I still had. The white chikan work dupatta my sister bought me from Lucknow. Too beautiful to actually wear but regularly taken out and caressed.

And then there’s my wedding sari. Nine yards of peacock blue juxtaposed with a startling red and gold border. Awkward and uncomfortable. Hard to sit and walk in and difficult to drape. It hangs in the dark confines of my cupboard now, taken out once year for Varalakshmi Nombu. During this annual airing I like to pretend that the smell that clings to it is actually from the smoke of the agnikundam and not eau d’mothball. That the small dark stain in the corner is one of the many tears I shed that day and not payasam (kheer). And that every crease and fold that stubbornly stays in place represents a memory that can never be ironed out.