Friday, 30 October 2015

Change is good!

Friends, family and strangers...

Like all wonderful things have a new beginning, so has mine. Have officially moved to wordpress. If you are really bored someday, and care to strain your eyes with some reading, you can find me on


See you, in my new virtual space

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

What's it like to live with Jake?

Nearly nine months ago on January 13, I brought my first car. A second-hand one. The compact silver sedan managed to win my attention on the very word go. Now, I was told a thing or two about second-hand cars, and how a new driver on Oman's roads should always be wary of buying one, but I honestly, was very confident about hitting it off with Jake. Oh, I forgot to mention, that's what I christened my car. 
Jake sounded very much like me: 
Short (Am not that short, but still). 
Sweet (I have at least one friend who will vouch for this. That's a good enough number)
Simple (Please tell me you've heard of Plain Jane)  
And a Steal (This is when one should use the hashtag #justsaying! *smirks*).
Now what I didn't realise is that Jake was not going to be as uncomplicated (as me) or like his name suggested. On the technical front, he came with a lot of glitches. Humanising this little silver thing, however, seemed to help the "mechanically-unsound-me" come to terms with his problems. I now began associating Jake with the failings of our kind. And trust me, I found him leaving behind too many clues. Jake's tantrums are not unfounded; the machine is as much a man, as I am a woman. Here's why:

Jake PMS'
Okay. He's a man. So what? In the beginning, I wondered if I should have named Jake, Jacky. It would have justified the monthly roll. But wait, I know men cannot be absolved of strange behaviour, and worse, they don't need a week of the month to spell out what it means to be irrational or illogical.
But am not lying. Every damn month, strategically somewhere in the first or last week, Jake suddenly turns grumpy, moody and goes all out of balance. Sometimes, he overheats, on other days, his battery runs out. Often, out of the blue, his gear gets so stubborn, it just won't budge. Also more than often, his coolant takes a leak. Now, all these events were carefully timed over the last nine months, enough to send me into a tizzy. I fixed him each time, hoping he'd come out all renewed and rejuvenated, and as good as brand new. But no, if his parts won't give in, he attracts opposite cars to pick up a fight with him. Once, an SUV caught him off-guard, hitting him from the rear. I could hear Jake silently say, "Thank you very much Mr SUV. Just when I was wondering, what more I had to offer to Jane, you came riding along from behind. And woah, you did a great job at breaking that headlight of mine. It was anyway too flashy for my exterior."

Jake is possessive
Ah! Just like I would want my man to be. However, there's just one small issue here. When Jake becomes possessive, he simply stops working. Initially, I thought I was imagining all of this. Then the repeated cycle, helped me put two and two together. What I learnt is that each time he sees me with red lipstick on, and my hair left all loose, all his mechanical functions take a beating. It's like he's telling me, "If you get out into the world like this, I just won't let you go. You will stay right here with me and I don't care whose loss it is."
Meanwhile, I fiddle with my car keys, rev up my engine, then turn it off and repeat the process again and again, - all in the crazy sultanate heat. That's when I start sweating profusely. My lipstick melts, my sunscreen spreads out, my eye-liner smudges, my hair gets all damp. I tie my hair in a hurried bun and wipe out all that melting make-up with a tissue, and say a small prayer, before I try to turn on the engine one last time. And what do you expect: Jake suddenly works like a dream. "Yay!" I tell myself. "Sexy, only for me," Jake mutters.     

Jake is principled
I need to give Jake some credit here. Despite all his heroics and tantrums, he still never gives up on me. The two times he developed serious issues, for whatever reasons - PMS or unwarranted possessiveness, I forewarned him that he could just not give away on the 15km-long journey to work. And he surprisingly, didn't. Despite my mechanics confessing that he would not outlive his prime, he stayed steadfast and dropped me safely to my place of commute. My legs shook nervously through it all, but when I made it in one piece, I had to give this man a pat on his shoulder and a peck on his cheek. That's a nice quality to have. At least when you consider him yours. 

Having said that, I doubt we will be together too long. But his relentless histrionics added the much-needed drama in my life. He keeps me on my toes, but always has his eyes on the road. And then, he loves to push me to the hilt, making me tougher and bolder albeit without make-up. He has also taught me a thing or two about life, and how just having a man to yourself, is not the end of the road. It's a long journey out there! Jake and Jane have seen and done it all.

Friday, 10 July 2015

When two little puppies taught me something about love…

For the last two months, every day I returned from work in the evening, two lovely wadi dogs (puppies) that my brother had rescued from the street, would be waiting with anticipation for me near the doorstep of our humble cabin home.

Rocky and Rachel (behind)

As soon as they’d see me approach from a distance, they’d run towards me and lie flat on my feet, restraining me from walking any further. I’d rub their bellies and they’d run around me, before following me to my home, seemingly happy and excited that I had arrived. 

For some reason, I had started looking forward to coming home everyday. 
This routine of having two excited dogs wait longingly for me, made me feel really good about myself. 
I felt loved, and unlike how we sometimes patiently and endlessly wait for our fellow human beings to reciprocate to our feelings, this was so effortless and true to the nature of love, that it seemed just right. Try loving a human being, and expecting the same zealousness. After a point, we human beings get so tired of loving and being loved, that before you know it all wanes. We don’t like monotony. But dogs work magic within this monotonous cycle of loving the people they come to recognise as their own.     
I didn’t know animals could have that effect on you. In fact, until 12 weeks ago, I was nothing close to a dog lover. I liked them from a distance because as much as I would not admit it, they scared me. It’s natural to be wary of something that doesn’t think, talk and behave like you. But how all my stupid notions fell apart in a matter of weeks, is a mystery.
I had started bathing them, holding them, feeding them and most importantly loving them. When on June 15, my neighbours heartlessly dumped the two-month-olds in a garbage bin - while dad and I were at work - my heart sank for the first time. This was worse than heartbreak. This was worse than rejection. This was worse than a lot of things that could happen to me in this lifetime. And because I cried so much that day, I could actually tell the difference.
Fortunately, we found them in the evening. But finding a foster home had become priority. For reasons too many, I couldn’t keep them here with me. It would have been unfair to them. We, however, christened them Rachel and Rocky. And wow, they loved their names. You could call them from any corner of my compound, and they’d be there at the drop of a hat.
Just that this morning, they refused to come out when I called out to them. I don’t know how they had figured out that we were giving them away. But they did. We were sending them to a farm house – the owners, our family friends, had agreed to keep them there. I think it to be a better place to the one I have here. Every now and then, our neighbours find new ways to get rid of the dogs and we really fear for them.
They whimpered as dad and I got hold of them and placed them in the pick-up. It all happened so suddenly that we did not even get a chance to say proper goodbyes.
But honestly, right now at this moment, four hours after they have gone, I feel terrible. It’s like I cut-short this beautiful spell, just like we humans tend to do. We are so fearful of getting attached that we tend to snap off if it doesn’t appear feasible.
From tomorrow onward, I won’t have those beautiful puppies run down to me, when I come home from work. I have lost so much. But they will continue to love, relentlessly and faithfully.

Saturday, 9 May 2015

An open letter to my mother (and so many like her)

Dear than dearest Ma,

My friends think I am slowly turning out to be like you. I don't know what makes them say that because in many more ways than one, we are a whole lot different.

You, for once, ask too many questions and dole out uncalled for advice. I still don't know how and where to exercise such authority without appearing bossy or seeming meddlesome. You also have a great threshold for life's knee-jerking surprises - little wonder you don't grumble or whine - while I make a relentless effort to show my disdain for everything that doesn't make me happy. It's also amazing how you get us to act without having to scream your lungs out. I, on the other hand, take from dad and assume that raising my decibel levels can sort half of the world's problems, including my own. Then there is the surplus amount of sugar you fuel into your tea, when my coffee is generally bitter and I know how much you detest that. 
Obviously, our differences are not as distinct as pepper and salt; yet, when they surface now and then, we cannot ignore the friction it causes.  

But the other day, I made chicken curry for dinner and your son (and my brother) said my food reminded him of mummy. I was pleased, just like I was when my friends told me that they thought I was becoming you. It honestly, felt like a job well-done.

Come to think of it, it's actually very strange because I have been quite vociferous about hating the things that don't appeal to you - like hanging out until late into the night; going for overnight picnics/treks or not staying at home enough. 
If my friends asked me why I couldn't join them, I would not mince words when blaming “my strict mother” for it. I even tried lying to you once, and it made me feel guilty for the rest of the year, so I quit that option.
Then there were the millions of questions you asked me about the things I did or the friends I hung out with, and your blunt opinions about some of them. 

Of course, you keeping such a tight leash on my life, made me angry.

What I forgot, however, was to be grateful. Grateful to see your face when I woke up each morning or grateful when you made me my coffee, just how I liked it. 
When the people who I most sincerely trusted hurt me, you became my sounding board. You listened to me patiently, saying nothing more than what I needed to hear. It's uncanny how you know my secrets, without me ever having to share them with you; it's also strange how you can sense am low by just listening to my voice or seeing my face. Again, I had forgotten, how to be grateful. Because, even if I was, I never told you how fortunate I was to have you in my life or did not once remind myself that this is the mother I would like to be someday.

Surprisingly enough, you've never expected gratitude. You keep indulging me, even when you know that I forget to thank you for your goodness. You also reprimand me when needed, though it never goes down well with me. You take the brickbats in your stride, and you continue, just like a mother would – just like only you could.

The good thing is that living away from you for the last year and more, has only made me see my life with the clarity that you expected me to have - all along. Now, though am beyond your scrutiny, my every move continues to be guided by you in absurd ways. When I cook something nice, I hopelessly wonder what you would have to say about it. If am out too late, I keep looking at my watch, worrying whether you would have appreciated it. If I buy something too expensive, I try to figure out ways to let you know that I have over-spent. It's stupid, because these are things where I enjoy little interference. But am always searching for your approval, even if I don't tell you so.
Your morals and values have filtered down and found a narrow and winding path into my life. Your views, sometimes judgmental but mostly honest, have also begun to rhyme with mine.

I think sometimes about how my life would have been, hadn't you helped me shape it. You convinced this reluctant girl to take up music and learn to play the keyboards, when she had zero talent for it. You motivated her to pursue a career in journalism, when she wasn't quite sure about it herself. You encouraged her to be stubborn and multi-task to accomplish the million-odd dreams she had lined up for herself. You did not stop her, when she decided to leave home for a while, even though it made you sick to the pit. You allowed her to be her own person and taught her to be you. 

When I see myself now, I cannot ignore the faint reflection I see of you in there. I have become you as much as I never thought I would. And we don't need mirrors to prove that.   

Yes, I do have failings. I am lazy, self-deprecating and downright cynical; but all these failings are my own, which you have unfalteringly tried to repair. But take comfort. If we have to go with what my friends and family claim, you are succeeding, slowly and steadily - molding one of your own, in your likeness.

All through these years of growing up, I was probably idolising you without even realising, and was secretly hoping that someone would spell this out for me, without me having to do so. Thank God for the people who keep reminding me that I haven't strayed, and that I am still the daughter, you wanted me to be.  

Happy Mother's Day Ma! Happy Mother's Day to all the mothers who sail through the rough seas and yet manage to brave it to the shore, just to protect, love and guide us.

Saturday, 21 February 2015

When Harry Met Sally Through Her Mommy!

I was once on a matrimonial site. Yes. Not a big deal, I know. But just for a month, "I accidentally found myself on a matrimonial site."
This happened at a time when the world - my mother and friends Inc. (in particular) - was busy trying to get me married. Obviously, my mother did not know how to begin, since repeatedly letting people know that her daughter was "grown up enough" seemed to have fallen on deaf ears. "We need to start somewhere," is what my friend - who became mom's spokesperson during these trying times - said, to convince me. I reluctantly agreed, lest I sounded stubborn and non-cooperative, which I usually am. 
"But no name, no encouraging details or photos," I forewarned the crowd of anxious folks. I only agreed to fill in obnoxious compulsory boxes of information, which the matrimonial site asked for. 
In the end, my profile looked something like this: 26/Female/Catholic/Dark/Heavy. 
No one seemed convinced. How on earth would I land a suitable boy for myself with such incredible honesty. Nobody dared to mention it. Mom, who had married her childhood sweetheart and didn't know how the mechanics of matrimonial ads worked, felt the strains of having her daughter objectified within such ludicrous categories. "You are beyond all this," she sighed.    
There was some prodding though - to probably fill in more personal information, "I write," or "I loved books," and that I had a "Masters qualification". At least then, some like-minded boy would approve, was the hope!  In the end, she had her way and partial truth was made accessible to the world, on the other side. But a month later, mom quietly gave up. The men were probably not to her liking. And so, as per a mutually-agreed upon deal, the account was deactivated with full family approval. She has finally come to terms with the situation. Doesn't mean that she hasn't stopped trying, praying or what-not! It suits her, and many mothers too. They are meant to worry. We are meant to be the cause of this worry. The equation of cause and effect doesn't work any better. 

But I write this not because I have an issue with arranged marriages. I don't even want to raise a stink about how we women and men (as well) are objectified in these ads - hasn't enough been said about it already. I am just amused by how it all pans out. And how blind dates set up by parents or family, seem like an almost honest attempt at a union of two individuals.  
A chunk of young Indians of marriageable age are on matrimonial sites. A major chunk of these are too embarrassed to admit it, while an even bigger chunk has quietly handed over the baton of finding prospective better halves, to their parents. Another sizable chunk has already been successfully married in such orderly fashion. While another good chunk is still on the waiting list. Just for the record, am talking "chunks" because I have no data or stats to prove my point. I don't think such fluff of a blog post, deserves this anyway. The real problem is not the number of times, I repeated the word "chunk," but those who are forced to be part of this chunk.   

A friend of mine has been making three hour-long train journeys to her parents home every weekend, to "meet boys". And during the few minutes that she sits with these grown up boys, trying to exchange a healthy conversation, she keeps looking for some spark, connection, etc, etc.
"How am I supposed to know?" she asks. "After all, I am to spend the rest of myself with him." 
I don't know either. Though somehow she is confident that she will be married soon. Such is the way of the world. We don't find a groom, but we know we will be married. That's eventuality. And such eventuality scares me. When life becomes so predictable that you know the end result without knowing who will help you achieve it. When honestly, I would rather have it the other way.    

Another friend has kept a count. 27 men, she last told me. That's the number of wasted dates. Mind you, that number also reflects her capacity for patience and nonsense. Most importantly, how does one expect her to make a sound choice after being thrown with so many options. We joke sometimes - she and I - as to how she could pull a Katherine Heigl a la in the film 27 Dresses, and invite all the men she has seen, to her wedding as a token of appreciation for leading her to the "man of her dreams". 

Speaking about the man of our dreams, this new driver that I am, was trying to get out of a crammed parking alley. A cute chap saw me struggle and tried to guide me from outside with hand gestures. When I finally managed to get my car out, he knocked on my window, I rolled it down and he broke into small talk, ending it with how, he hoped to accidentally bump into me at a coffee shop the next time, and not a parking lot. He dropped a hint or two, so that I could share my number. As a response to his kind offer, I came up with a very filmy retort: "Of course, we shall meet again. This world is too small..." 
I drove away, soon after. We parted on a good note. We exchanged smiles, and the regular, "will see you around town soon". But it didn't hurt twice that I had pulled a fast one on a nice looking man.  

It feels good to have this choice sometimes...the choice to choose which stranger you want to have your coffee with, which stranger you would like to have a conversation with or who could be allowed to help you at a parking lot.

Meanwhile, parents everywhere are praying. But, we shouldn't care. As long as we have this CHOICE, nothing else matters.  

P.S. Am not anti-arranged marriages...just saying! For all you know I could land up in one.