Posted in Uncategorized

The person you have called…..

Getting fired by the boss in front of the office that contains a bunch of snickering jobless aunties is awkward. Watching a sex scene on television with your parents is awkward. Seeing an old photograph of yourself when you thought you looked ravishing and now, with the recalibrated perspective of time, you realize you look like a before and after version of some twisted “Put on 15 kg in limited time” medicine is awkward. All three have happened to me but you know what I find more awkward these days? Phone conversations. My friends wouldnt have agreed if they hadnt witnessed it. But yes, I cannot take calls and I hate taking them.

In my opinion, chatting on the phone is an inherent talent much like acrobatics or pole vaulting. To some it comes naturally. My dad conducts hour-long  phone conversations with people every day, discussing his office politics, rehashing gossip, dissecting new ones,complaining to relatives and sometimes random people about how am not serious about marriage etc. Listening to this particular friend of mine on the phone with her man and her friends is like watching the flow of a river: gushing in smooth, powerful waves. Listening to mine, on the other hand, is like watching a  Sylvester Stallone film: bleak silences punctured by spurts of action.  ‘Chatting for fun’ on the phone is a concept beyond my limited powers of comprehension, now. I usually adhere to a strict ‘state your purpose and hang up’ policy. EEEEEEkkkssssss, I am beginning to think that I am turning into some sociophobic bimbo!

My problem these days is compounded by two factors:

1)My brain is not hardwired with a voice recognition software. Simply put, it means that when I get calls from unknown numbers I am pathetic at recognising the voice on the other end of the line. It could be my boss or my best friend of twenty years. Confessing ignorance might be at best an insult and at worst a fatal mistake. Hence, how do you decide the degree of familiarity your reply should contain? ‘How positively delightful to hear from you after so long’ might be a tad over enthusiastic when the caller is a friend you speak to every single day!

2)I get bored after sometime. The person on the other end might be speaking about a galore of things that interest him or her but i get bored! I cant help it if I have limited stuff that amuses me or entertains me, can I?! So I have started doing this Hi, hello, how are you and then talking for two minutes and hanging up on some pretext. 

I try to avoid phone conversations as far as possible. Besides the ‘strictly business’ phone calls, the only ones I make are birthday calls. After ‘Happy Birthday’ and ‘What plans for the day?’ I hit a rock wall that I make half-hearted attempts to climb with some tepid hemming and hawing, until the birthday boy or girl puts us both out of our misery with the pretext of a call waiting. Or a call  to ask someone something that I cannot type on a message coz it would be way too long. 

Ending a phone conversation is something else that befuddles me. Phone etiquette dictates that the person who makes the call should be the one to end it. When is the right time to do it? How do you do it without invoking the charge of abruptness? How to know when you’re drained of conversation if you didn’t have any in the first place? So, I have started telling people that  I have a call coming in (after punching some key on the phone so that it makes that kee kee noise) and so they would ask me to take that call. Nasty me ryt!?

 More recently I’ve started practicing my ‘call centre’ voice, mostly inspired by a scene from a mallu movie I saw a while ago. A man receives a call from an unwelcome party and replies in a stiff, mechanical voice, ‘The person you’re trying to reach is currently on another call. Please try again later.’

P.S- Dont stop calling me though 🙂

Posted in close to heart

Carpe Diem

Communication. It’s the first thing we really learn in life. Funny thing is, once we grow up, learn our words and really start talking, the harder it becomes to know what to say. Or how to ask for what we really need.

I have been having a thought in my head for quite awhile now. It is whether or not to confront  a person or just let time speak. And then somewhere I realised that maybe we need to take life in our own hands and risk it. Then, it would probably pay off. A couple of hundred years ago, Benjamin Franklin shared with the world the secret of his success. Never leave that till tomorrow, he said, which you can do today. This is the man who discovered electricity. You think more people would listen to what he had to say. I don’t know why we put things off, but if I had to guess, I’d have to say it has a lot to do with fear. Fear of failure, fear of rejection, sometimes the fear is just of making a decision, because what if you’re wrong? What if you’re making a mistake you can’t undo?

The early bird catches the worm. A stitch in time saves nine. He who hesitates is lost. We can’t pretend we hadn’t been told. We’ve all heard the proverbs, heard the philosophers, heard our grandparents warning us about wasted time, heard the damn poets urging us to seize the day. Still sometimes we have to see for ourselves. We have to make our own mistakes. We have to learn our own lessons. We have to sweep today’s possibility under tomorrow’s rug until we can’t anymore. Until we finally understand for ourselves what Benjamin Franklin really meant. That knowing is better than wondering, that waking is better than sleeping, and even the biggest failure, even the worst, beat the hell out of never trying.

Maybe someday soon I too shall seize the day and go out and find answers to life. I may not do it today and I may not do it tomorrow, but I shall someday, ask.

It’s not always easy to speak your mind. Sometimes you need to be forced to do it. Sometimes it’s better to just keep things to yourself though. Play dumb. Even when your whole body is aching to come clean. So you shut your mouth. Keep the secret. And find other ways to make yourself happy.:)

Posted in m@dness

One of those days….

There are days when all you want to do is sit in a sunny house and water the plants and watch them grow. Ponder sitting on a mat of sunshine streaks ,watching the dog trying to catch his tail , then come to you wagging and rest his face on your lap – looking at you with soft moist eyes.( I miss you mickey)

Days when all you want to do is look at the garden and the trees swinging, and watch the wind go by caressing the wind chimes and they in turn chiming, softly ringing – acknowledging the favor.

Days when a cup of hot black tea topped with the lime from your little garden is enough to satisfy your soul.

Days that you spend doing nothing and come back to the world soaked in bliss.

Days when all you need is sunshine and a cup of hot chai; when all you want to do is potter around the house dusting the pillows and spreading that thick blue cotton bed sheet to the strains of  Yesudas immersing you with his velvety‘Tere mere sapne ab ek rang hein…

Days when you take yourself gently by the hand and calm your restless mind and tell all is meant to be and allow yourself to be content.

Days when you chuck the keyboard and take your favorite pen and that hardbound book with the picture of the seas and the maps and yellow pages and write a letter to your unborn that one day he will read and remember his then young crazy mother and think – “Oh she used do things other that feed me gooey stuff”

Days when you think of Mary Poppins and Jane Austin …Days when you read all those Zen books immersing yourself in the wisdom of the ages.

Days when just having the dog flop down by your feet, warming your toes and the sunshine soaking your bones is enough. Nothing more .Nothing less.

Posted in Uncategorized

Being Chivalrous

I am mighty pissed, not because I worked till past midnight tonight,reaaaally late last evening but because the world today has forgotten what chivalry is all about. Okay for those who have forgotten really let’s take a pause here and find out what it means. Chivalry  is having the qualities of gallantry and honor attributed to an ideal knight.

I for one believe in equality of the sexes, I oppose separate queues for women at a ticket reservation counter, I am against gender bias of any form except probably in a  local train (and everyone knows why).

I am pissed because it was late and this particular colleague of mine didn’t offer to drop me home. I stormed out of office thinking, “what an insensitive being, how un-chivalrous of him”. After all the cussing (in my head of course), I began to think. Most women have some distorted meaning of the word chivalry, for them it’s this preferential treatment that they have been subjected too.

I don’t need men opening doors or pulling up chairs for me, neither do I want them to drop me home after working till late, but just like every other woman in India I am a hypocrite and I admit I love it when they do all that. I am a big sucker for this preferential treatment that I have been subjected to – tax benefits, shorter queues, lesser crowds, opening doors, holding my chair and millions of other small benefits that I have taken for granted, so much so that I think it’s my birth right.It has been ingrained so deeply into us that, any accidents on the road we seek to attribute it to the women-are-bad-drivers phenomenon. It allows any woman to walk away scot-free, after having run over any animal / person / thing, without bearing damages (that’s why I am so kicked about driving).

The world has witnessed many waves of feminism that has not just empowered women but has spoilt them as well. How am I ever going to grow up if the men folk flatter me by feeling me up in a public train or if a financial institution honors me with a free credit card? When can I tell myself the world is truly unbiased towards both sexes, for wherever I go there are special fast track queues for women or the woman’s double-discount-dhamaka plasters on every store?

Holding doors or bags etc. are such archaic definitions of chivalry. For me chivalry is in the heart. It’s in the manner of speech. You just know the man is chivalrous when he treats you with respect, he never addresses you condescendingly and his remarks are not derogatory.

When I turn around at my doorway after a long dinner to catch that final smile and wave before he drives off, I know he is truly chivalrous.

Sometimes I think I will make an effort to be this spoilt brat, its totally worth it.hihihihi
Posted in Uncategorized

Truth is stranger than fiction!

I promised a lot of people that I’d share with them the basis of my short story, The Call. So here goes…

I did my graduation in a popular Tamil Nadu College and I was a regular in the bus going to Kerala every weekend. Due to the rush, sometimes I used to get the last bus which was at 11:00 pm and my friends would be there to see me off to ensure that I was safe! Yeah how sweet!

One night as I was waiting for my bus to arrive, I noticed a girl who was my senior standing across the road. She was dressed very sexy like she was going partying. I knew her from college and was just about to go meet her when my friend stopped me and told me not to go and to wait and watch. What followed was an absolute stunner!

A car stopped in front of her and they spoke something and the car left. Another stopped in a few minutes and left. 5-6 cars followed and then finally one car did and they spoke for awhile longer and she got in and left the place. It was after awhile that I realised what was going on! She was a professional escort ( Okie i like to call it that coz i hate the other words they use to describe such women). I did meet her in college and she was like any normal girl there. Studying, hanging out with friends, library, cafeteria etc. I couldn’t help wonder what made her do this!? I decided to speak to her just to put an end to my curiosity.

I went upto her one day and this was the conversation we had that evening.

Me: I saw you one night at The Bus Stand. I think both you and I know why you were there that night.

She: (An awkward glance at me) So?

Me: I am curious and I need to know why you chose such a path?

She: Why would I tell you? So that you can tell your friends about me n laugh over it??

Me: No because I need to know why that’s all? 

She: (laughing loudly) that is one helluva reason for me to tell u! Girl,don’t you have anything else to do than interfere in someone else’s life??

Me: No.

She: Buzz off.

And i did buzz off that night. But a few months later I saw her again at The Bus Stand and this time she came to me and started talking.  While we waited for my bus, she kept my friends n me company and told us her story over a cup of coffee.

She was from a middle class family. Her dad was not the richie rich type. She came to study in our college and realised that in order to belong to the hep group, she had to have some amount of money. At first she tried coaxing her dad to send her some every month and he relented. Probably he would have thought that this girl would stop asking a few months later. As soon as he stopped sending her cash, she began forcing her dad again and this time her dad said a strict no. But by then she was becoming a part of the Hep Gang and she was willing to do anything to be a part of it. When the money was getting over, she panicked. She sold her books first, then her mobile and slowly slowly the little jewelry her parents had given her.

She was very well loved by all in the group. She was willing to help everybody, always loaded with cash and very charming. Slowly she realised she didnt have anything more to sell. So one night as she was waiting at the Bus Stand to go home, a car stopped in front of her. A guy stepped out and asked her how much she wanted? At first she didn’t understand what was hapenning. Then he said he had the place,food and protection. How much she wanted for a night? She laughed and took it as a joke wondering if god was playing some game with her. She replied in a joking manner, 30,000. He said yes.

She was surprised and asked him again if he was willing to pay 30,000 for a night only?! He said yes and asked her to get into the car. She did.

From then on it was easy money. She says,” Nothing changes, I dont love anyone I have sex with and neither do they fall in love with me. Some dont even see my face! These days virginity is just a word! Tomorrow if my husband doubts my virginity, I can always tell him I fell off the cycle!’

That was her story.  She did pass out of college and she did get married a few years later to a nice looking man from her town. As far as I know they are happy.The hep group she was a part of and gave everything to be  a part of split up long before college ended. All for nothing, I say!

Sometimes when I see these professional escorts on the street I cant help wonder if she still does it for money and what if her husband was to be one of her clients? Could that happen? I don’t know….

Isn’t truth stranger than fiction?!


Posted in close to heart

A life of Contradictions

Everyone I know in my life will vouch for the contradictory traits present in me; be it family, friends or colleagues. This aspect of my life is very starkly observed or rather is something that involuntarily just comes across people I meet. So what contradictions are these? Starting from the external, superficial stuff and to name a few; I love sports and athletic activities but I HATE walking, jogging, strolling. I always favor gals (bordering on feminism) but share a better rapport with the guys in my group. I would love to go out and freak out with friends but my idea of an ideal weekend is sleep lotssss, watch TV and laze around at my place. I love to cook but I often get bored to cook. I am very conservative yet I am most comfy in jeans, don’t mind late night outs with my friends, don’t mind guys staying over at my place (something which contradicts a traditional mindset). I often get troubled about this. I wonder which one is the real me? Introspecting all the time to find the answer but never once did I stumble upon it!

One day I spoke to one of my friends about her work and she told me that her pseudo name is Linda Fletcher (she works for an international BPO). I was outraged. If someone calls me madhuri instead of my correct name I expect the other person to apologize and here is my friend; who is being paid for hiding her identity. Who is attending classes to lose the Indian accent and put on a Brit/American one! Who is getting holidays on Christmas and who wishes her clients on Valentine’s Day and Thanksgiving! On the other side of this spectrum lie the RSS/Shiv Sena party people. They have these centers for cultural studies and preservation. Here they are taught how Valentine’s Day is invasion of western culture and how they should abolish it.

Taking the same idea to the next level, here we are in a globalization era. A wave; that has lifted the economy and as a fallout ‘Us’. Because of this wave I see myself spending around 2 grands in about 2 days (sometimes even one hour – impulse buying) and yet there are 50 percent or more BPL families whose annual income is somewhere around this figure. The economists say that we have come to a plastic age (debit cards, credit cards et all) where you are assured fluidity of cash, so that you never fall short of finanaces when it comes to the DRESS you just fell in love with or SHOES you just cant live without. But there are people who let alone the fact of possessing debit cards but are trying hard to get a few coins in their piggy bank everyday..There are suicides because the rains failed; there are murders because the crop of that person was better. I see the younger generation knowing what the problems India is facing, knowing what can be the solution to the issue and yet I see Brain-Drain, I see people saying “this is the system problem…India will remain like this, it cannot change” I see students all over India coming together standing united and then I see our very own Govt. turning a blind eye and a deaf ear to them and still implementing Reservations! There is a huge hue and cry on environmental/conservation of wildlife issues and yet we go ahead and rush into signing treaties with IAEA and becoming a nuclear power (the biggest threat to a safe environment); rampant hunting of animals for pleasure, for decorating ministers’/celebrity suite. Nothing is stable in the money markets and yet the stocks are rising. The number of girls succeeding in SSC/CBSE/ICSE or junior high is more than the guys and yet girls are being compromised on( increasing number of dowry deaths, Husband beating up his wife, Rape) is omnipresent. Security has increased, newer and stricter laws are made and yet the incidents of Rape cases have increased and the number of accused convicted have decreased. Women are getting empowered; they are getting better jobs in myriad of fields. They are striving for equality with men and are coming very close to it. And yet an educated woman compromises when there are clashes in the house when the alpha male ego is hurt (I wont say this is the case all the time but it is most of the times)

Thinking about all this suddenly the contradictions in my life seem very puny, very inconsequential, very small. So I have a choice about sulking how miserable my life is OR look around and see how lucky I am……..

Posted in m@dness

Why India Works- An Article by Shekar kapur

I found this article a good read. Its by Shekar Kapur, the reknowned director.

India is blessed with such abundance of talent, but they lack opportunities and support.

Why India Works – written by internationally acclaimed film director Shekhar Kapoor.

A greater ‘hole in the wall’ you cannot imagine. A small fading sign on the top saying “Cellphoon reapars” barely visible through the street vendors crowding the Juhu Market in Mumbai. On my way to buy a new Blackberry, my innate sense of adventure made me stop my car and investigate. A shop not more than 6 feet by 6 feet. Grimy and uncleaned.

‘Can you fix a Blackberry ?”
‘Of course, show me”
“How old are you” ‘Sixteen’ !

Bullshit. He was no more than 10. Not handing my precious blackberry to a 10 year old in unwashed and torn T shirt and pyjamas!
At least if I buy a new one, they would extract the data for me. Something I have been wanting to do for a year now.

‘What’s wrong with it?”
‘Well, the roller track ball does not respond. It’s kind of stuck and I cannot operate it”

He grabs it from my hand and looks at it.

“You should wash your hands. Many customers have same problem. Roller ball get greasy and dirty, then no working’

Look who was telling me to wash my hands. He probably has not bathed for 10 days, I leaned out to snatch my blackberry back.

” You come back in one hour and I fix it’.

I am not leaving all my precious data in this unwashed kid’s hands for an hour. No way.

“Who will fix it?”
‘Big brother.’
‘How big is ‘big brother?’
‘Big .. Umm ..thirty.’

Then suddenly big brother walks in. He is no more than 19.

‘What problem?’ he says grabbing the phone from my greasy hand into his greasier hand. Obviously not trained in etiquette by an upmarket retail store manager.

‘Normal Blackberry problem. I replace with original part now.’

19 year old ‘big brother’ rummages through a dubious drawer full of junk and fishes out a spare roller ball packed in cheap cellophane wrapper. Original part? I doubt it. But by now I am in the lap of the real India and there is no escape as he fishes out a couple of screw-drivers and sets about opening my Blackberry.

“How long will this take?”
“Six minutes.”

This I have to see.

After spending the whole morning trying to find a Blackberry service centre and getting vague answers about sending the phone in for an assessment that might take a week, I settle down next to his grubby cramped work space.

At least I am going to be able to watch all my stored data vanish into virtual space.

People crowd around to see what’s happening. I am not breathing easy anyway.

I tell myself this is an adventure and literally have to stop myself grabbing my precious Blackberry back and making a quick escape.

But in exactly six minutes this kid handed my Blackberry back. He had changed the part and cleaned and serviced the whole phone. Taken it apart, and put it together.

As I turned the phone on there was a horrific 2 minutes where the phone would not come on. I looked at him with such hostility that he stepped back.

‘You have more than thousand phone numbers?”
‘Backed up?’
‘Must back up. I do it for you. Never open phone before backing up.’
‘You tell me that now?’

But then the phone came on and my data was still there! Everyone watching laughed and clapped.
This was becoming a show – a six minute show!

I asked him how much?

‘500 rupees.’ He ventured uncertainly. People around watched in glee expecting a negotiation. That’s $10 dollars as against the Rs 30,000=$ 600 I was about to spend on a new Blackberry or a couple of weeks without my phone. I looked suitably shocked at his ‘high price’ but calmly paid him. Much to the disappointment of the expectant crowd.

‘Do you have an I-Phone? Even the new ‘4D one?
‘No, why?”
‘I break the code for you and load any ‘app’ or ‘film’ you want.
I give you 10 films on your memory stick on this one, and change every week for small fee.’

I went home having discovered the true entrepreneurship that lies at what we call the ‘bottom of the pyramid’. Some may call it piracy, which of course it is, but what can you say about two uneducated and untrained brothers aged 10 and 19 that set up a ‘hole in the wall’ shop and can fix any technology that the greatest technologists in the world can throw at them. I smiled at the future of our country.
If only we could learn to harness this potential.

‘Please wash your hands before use’ were his last words to me. Now I am feeling seriously unclean