Friday, 27 April 2012

Nostalgia


Statutory warning: This is a very random post.

Nostalgia is happening. Very random memories and people from my past are dropping on me like bombs – I still don’t know whether they are good bombs or bad. I suddenly picture us, “The Fantastic Four”, cooking at Jodhpur Park, sneaking up on each other stealing uncooked ingredients. Honestly, we barely cooked, Shyamali mashi did most of the work – but today, when I cook in my own kitchen, that was still the most fun culinary experience I’ve had.

Two ex-roommates from years ago have suddenly dropped by my life again, like dropping in on a neighbour, claiming to miss me and all the fun we’ve had. Much like my relationships, my roommate history has also been turbulent. Well, when you are a gypsy living in a city for seven years, that’s bound to happen, right? I have lived with a grand total of eleven people (including roommates and the then boyfriend) between Mumbai and Chennai in the last seven years. And I’m moving for the seventh time soon. No mean feat.

With each, no doubt, there were more than some merry times. Community living, as we called it. Also, living on your own in the city frees you from many restrictions as well. When I pass by the Bandra highways, or Carter Road and Bandstand, I truly feel for all the couples who have to show their intimacy in such public spots. I mean, if both people in the relationship live with family, what do you do? And don’t frown at the concept of a kiss, sex or general intimacy in a relationship – please lead the elephant out of the room. Hello, we are the land of Kamasutra! I’ve been lucky that in all my years of boy-intimacy, I’ve never had to resort to public displays of private affection. Unless, of course, it was deliberate.

But I wonder why the sea brings out of us this ridiculous sappiness. When I first came to Bombay, I was thrilled at the thought of having access to the sea regularly. Which is ironic, given that I’m scared of water and not a swimmer. Still. When I lived in the cubby pigeonhole of a PG in Marine Lines, I walked down Marine Drive almost every day, all the way till Nariman Point. It didn’t do much for my weight, but it was my escape, my purging sessions. Sitting there facing the ocean, I could often feel my boy-troubles, family-troubles, homesickness and friend-troubles disappearing into the waves. Knowing that the Middle East was just across this sea also excited me. I’m not sure why, it just did.

When I took my then-boyfriend-now-best-friend to Marine Drive to experience what I had, and maybe share a romantic moment, all he could say was, “It smells here.” So much for that.

A few years later, when I used to work in Worli, my friend and I would often drive down to Worli sea face after work, and sit and vent to each other. Work, love et al. Unfortunately, love, as you can guess, has always been a problem area. 

More recently, I remember all too clearly splashing in the waves at Kelwa, a beach destination ahead of Virar, and in Pondicherry. Just him and me. Both scared of water, both can’t swim, both giggling and taking photographs like children. Purge.

There’s a lot more nostalgia where the last one came from. Unfortunately, no amount of alcohol can erase memories you make, that you want to keep and that you never want to forget. Memories of your first real, committed, long-term relationship. Well, at least for the women, I know, it can’t be done. Men deal differently with pain. I get it. But nostalgia is human – it can catch you anywhere, anytime, when you least expect it, whether you’re a boy or a girl pining in and for love. Sometimes even in the acronym of a bank that has decided to up its visibility. You just never know.

P.s. – Given the amount I talk, I hate cold wars. They suck. 

Sunday, 22 April 2012

Ahoy Matey!


What I love about Bombay is that there’s never a dearth of options. There’s always something to do to make sure you have a fun day / week / weekend. Pubs, bars, clubs, movies, theatre - the works. And sometimes you can go sailing. Yep, that’s what I did this Saturday afternoon. I went sailing.

My friend from work, Viraf, is a regular sailor – yes, that’s what I want to call him. He’s been doing this for years and has even introduced his sons, all of five and three respectively, to the sport. He’s been telling me for weeks to join him, so I finally did, this Saturday – as part of my ‘let’s try new, different and fun things in life’ plan. I invited my college buddy Danny to come along too, since he had just given his GMAT and needed a fun break.

We set off from the Gateway of India jetty around 4:30 in the evening, the sun blazing on our heads. Now, anyone who knows me knows that I’m quite scared of water, more so because I can’t swim. I also get seasick when travelling by ferry to Alibaug. Having said that, I have also jumped into the rushing and gushing Ganga on a backpacking trip a few years ago – white water rafting, as it is called.

So there we were, cautiously stepping into a dingy that would take us to the sailboat. A few minutes later, I was grabbing both my friends’ hands and stepping into the motor-less sailboat that even has a boom! Kingfisher, as the sailboat was aptly called.

The winds were crazy and the waves lapped dangerously onto our boat. And yet, I felt no fear. There was no giddiness since I had taken a strong anti-seasickness pill that worked wonders. We were out in the open seas, the cool salt water splashing against us, the salty wind settling in our hair. We popped open some beers and munched on snacks as we passed a number of other sailors and literally sailed towards the sunset.

But the highlight of the trip was yet to come. On our way back, we (well, Viraf and the boat’s caretaker) let the winds sail us back. However, we were soon moving towards a giant Navy ship that looked daunting in its mere presence. Before we knew it, we heard someone call out on a megaphone ‘door jao’ (move away). The boat quickly had to be turned so that we could sail back to land far away from this magnificent hunk of steel. We were shooed away by the Navy! Uber cool!

Soon, we were nearing land and were on calmer waters. Right before we disembarked our dingy at the jetty, we saw a Dominoes delivery boy, delivering pizza to a boat. Seriously, anything is possible in Bombay!

The rest of the weekend was also great, with a dinner here, a pub there and a play to close it up. But the sailing experience was truly exhilarating. I felt the stress and pain of my real life melting away as the Arabian Sea ebbed and flowed against the boat. And all I could think was “Now, this is the life.”

Thursday, 19 April 2012

I should be so lucky...


If you’ve grown up in the 1990s or have older siblings, then you have probably heard Kylie Minogue’s happy song “I should be so lucky in love”. I’ve loved this song ever since I was a kid. Thanks to my sister, I was exposed to all sorts of interesting international music from a young age (remember Informer?). In fact, I still love this song. I have no faith in its lyrics, but nonetheless.

However, I do feel lucky in friendship. My oldest friends are my three besties from when we were about six years old and about two feet tall. The years have rolled by, the heights have barely changed, but we still remain ‘The Fantastic Four”. The other day a friend of mine was asking, “How are you still in touch with your school friends?” Well, I guess I’m just lucky.

We all enjoy hanging out with friends to laugh, party, eat and drink. But it’s only when you are at your lowest low that you find out how lucky (or not) you are to have these friends. While I go through a difficult phase in my life, I have friends from all over the world calling and mailing me to check up on me. I opened my eyes this morning to an email from a friend I haven’t seen in over two years. And yet, her name popped up in my inbox when I’m having trouble.

I am truly lucky. I have friends who have become so close that they are now family. I also have a family who I have chosen to be friends with – my sister and my mother (the fights et al).

The funny thing is, we’re all looking for companionship, for that soulmate who will finally get us and never let us go. And the truth also is, that someday they will let us go. You can never really know what a person is like. They weren’t kidding when they said that it takes a lifetime to get to know someone; forever to earn someone’s trust and just a moment to break it. But the truth is, we already have so many companions and soulmates in our friends and family – people who will drop everything and rush to your side just to hear you rant or wipe the snot off your nose while you’re bawling away. Or even come out drinking with you to give you company, even though he or she may not even consume a sip since it’s Lent.

The truth is, boys and girls will come and go, but friends will stay rooted to the spot. I’ve realised it’s much easier to break a heart and be cruel to someone you once were in love with than give up on a solid friendship. You fight, scream and cry, and then go out drinking again. And what’s even funnier is that I’m sure my guy friends have broken hearts too, but when it’s my heart that’s been broken, they’d like to break a jaw.

I may not be lucky in love. But I sure as hell am lucky with friends. And the number of views I get on my ranting-much blog is testament to that. I love Kylie Minogue. I want to dance with her and all my besties in colourful tights and striped, oversized shirts. 

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

The big, bad, B term


I’ve been fighting with my mother since I was a little girl. Honestly, though we love each other to death, as adults, we don’t get along. Maybe we’re too similar, or just too different. Every time we’re in the same room for too long, we fight. This has been going on for years and I expect it to go on forever.

But no matter how much I fight with her, we never mention ending our relationship. I’ve never told my mother, “I want to break up with you - I need to find a new mom who won’t fight with me as much as you do.” (Not seriously, at least.) Similarly, even though my sister and I haven’t seen each other in five years, we still fight sometimes, but never even think of ‘breaking up’. They are family and the option of not having a relationship with them is simply not there.

So then why is it that with the people we choose to be our family, like friends, boyfriends, girlfriends, fianc├ęs and spouses, we can use the term break-up so easily? Why is it that with people we choose to be with, we also, as quickly, choose not to be with? As the popular saying goes, ‘you can choose your friends, not your family’; or ‘friends are the family you choose’ – this being true, why is it so easy to break-up with people we have chosen to love?

I write this today because I am guilty of using this term, sometimes with friends, more often with boyfriends, very easily. Every time the boat gets rocky, I decide that the easiest thing to do is jump ship. And I claim to be the opposite of an escapist. Irony, indeed. Most often, I’ve jumped out of the ship and later realised that it was a good idea – that person may have been someone I had chosen to love, but our journey was charted for a limited period of time. Some were real deal-breakers, others, well, were perhaps an excuse.

But then I finally met someone with whom the option of a ‘break-up’ was never there. That person was not just someone I chose to love, but had soon had become an extension of my own being. Yet, somewhere down the road, the escapist-in-denial in me reared its head and I used the term. Many times, he fought and kept us together, for which, today, I am grateful. But after a point, even he gave up. And in retrospect, I understand why. I guess everyone has a breaking point (pun unintended).

Now the thing is, when a person makes a monumental, colossal mistake like this, and then genuinely apologises, admitting complete responsibility for this breakdown, what would you do? Give the person you love a second chance? Or punish the person you love, and possibly yourself too, by completely giving up? And for the person who is apologising, should s/he relentlessly not give up and try to make the person you love believe that you are sorry, or follow the famous “Let the person you love go, if you belong together, then s/he will come back”?

I know that most of my friends who will be reading this know what and who I’m talking about. I’m sure that the person in question may also read it, maybe even roll his eyes, and go back to his business, without a word. Who can blame him? But it is this same person who taught me not to give up on something you believe in, especially if the intention is right. And this is what I want to do – not give up on something, someone, I believe in. Maybe someday, when I truly stop believing in us, I will give up. He will move on and so will I. Will we ever find the same happiness? Right now, I have my serious doubts. But till then – hope (another quality he taught me) is what keeps us all afloat. I am a hopeful, perhaps even delusional, little ektu. Join me, will you?  

Monday, 2 April 2012

The highs and lows of technology


As I type out this post, I wonder how life would be if computers and the internet had not been invented. Well, I wouldn’t be ‘blogging’ to begin with. Many of us used to write diaries or journals, complete with the little locks on the side, lest it falls into evil hands – that of the mother!

Once computers and laptops came along, I think we’ve all lost our journals, and our mothers have become consumed by trying to find passwords rather than keys. While I must admit, as do we all, that technology is the biggest boon of our generation, I can’t help but wonder if it’s stunting us, intellectually and emotionally.

My boss was telling us the other day during a meeting about how times were different, back in his day. Journalism was a tough job, what with hot metal printing and type set printing and many other processes that I frankly do not understand. I suddenly felt blessed that I could come back to my desk, type away my flowing ideas at high speed on Word, browse through funny websites and chat with my friends online.

However, my boss had the good fortune of being able to meet people and interact with many people, in person, on a daily basis; something our generation barely understands. Today, people can have meetings, interviews, friendships and entire relationships without ever having met the other person / people. Is that alright? While I am grateful that I can skype for free with my best friend in London and see her niece and nephew grow up, I can’t help but wonder whether this same technology is stunting our social skills.

I’ve grown up with the mindset that if you have a problem or a fight with a friend, you meet over chocolate and cake for a sleepover, and discuss and cry over the issue. Today we do the same via emails and chats. Instead of wiping each others’ tears, we have to make do with crying face emoticons. And mind you, there’s an emoticon for every apparent emotion.

Earlier, I would get rather offended if a boy asked me out over the phone – he should be man enough to ask me in person, if he really cares. Now, I’ve been asked out over chat and accepted as well. I used to truly believe that if you are breaking up with someone, it must be done in person. Even if you spent a week with the person, that courtesy is the least he deserves. Today, I have entire fights, arguments, make-up sessions and break-ups on BBM! And frankly I find this appalling.

But can it be helped, when everyone around you has adopted these escapist methods of dealing with emotions? Can you hold onto your high horse and demand to meet people, regardless of how busy or far you two are? Is it fair to expect this or, on the other hand, is it fair that the person is treating you like this – that you don’t even deserve to be told in person?

They say that communication has improved exponentially in the 21st century. While theoretically I have no reason to disagree with this, I wonder whether these high-flying communication techniques are making us connect better, or pushing us further away from the people we love.

All I can say is that I’m craving for someone’s arms to hug me and offer me some chocolate while I’m bawling my guts out. For now, I guess I’ll have to make do with this L