Monday, September 13, 2010

The One with The Delhi Trip

I think I've never done a one-day trip to Delhi ever before. I considered it blasphemous almost. At least 3 days had to be spent... of course, even 3 days is not enough to be spent at home.

But that has changed somewhat since my parents shifted out from Delhi last month. So, to attend A's wedding I flew down on Sunday morning with a return flight booked for Monday morning so that I wouldn't miss work.

How was the trip? Too many thoughts running through...

So, first things first, the wedding went off very well.. didn't meet as many people as I thought I would, but it was worth making the trip just to see how pretty A looked :). Back when we were young girls of 14-15, the subject of how we would be an integral part of each other's weddings was discussed. Of course, like all plans made at that age, this one also did not really materialize. I guess, too many years intervened. But, I know people who stay close in spite of the distance and the years etc.. but I guess I'm just an abject failure at maintaining relationships.. something I've come to realize about myself after much introspection (not!!)..So, in spite of the lack of girl bonding over sangeet and mehendi and all of that, I was really glad that I was able to be there on that day just like she was there on mine.. It feels great to connect to one's past - was absolutely lovely meeting A's mom and realizing that A's sis-in-law still remembers me well..

I could say that the wedding was the high point of my trip, as opposed to my earlier trips to Delhi, when the event that I had come for would be just a by-product and the stay at home would be the high-point. Not sure if I liked this turn-around.. No, I'm sure I didn't actually..

Stayed at home only... and I went thinking that its a good idea because its a familiar area and I could spend my time in the market around etc. Bad decision, actually.. prob would have been better if I'd stayed with relatives at South-ex. It is a very weird, not-so-pleasant feeling to see someone else live in your home. It is weirder to feel like a stranger in your own home. Although I have known the M's for donkey's years now and usually joke and chat with them, this time didn't feel like doing so. I almost kept expecting my mom to be in the kitchen every time I walked past it..

Their daughter has kept a lot of knick-knacks in my bathroom - the one I've spent years in chatting secretly on the phone, dressing up in or crying quietly so that no one would know.. How does it suddenly become alien..
does a house remember its occupants? Do the events that have happened in those rooms - big or small- leave a permanent imprint...It was all very surreal, compounded by the fact that it was raining and gloomy outside, making me feel even more melancholic.. I told this to S last night, but he didn't really understand.. which is ok.. cause I wasn't feeling that way either till I actually stepped inside the house..

As I got on the flight back yesterday morning, I was actually happy to be leaving Delhi for once..
a) cause it wasn't the same without my family there.. and

b) I'd become so tired of saying goodbye to someone or the other - either my parents, or S, or both over the last one year...

So, as sad as it felt to not be greeted by my dad at the Delhi airport, nothing beats the ability to drop-in at my parent's place on the way to and from office everyday and to have S by my side every morning...

So, everything's a-okay !

Sunday, August 29, 2010

The One about Draupadi

I have been thinking of picking up Chitra Banerjee's Palace of Illusions for some time now. Got an opportunity yesterday at Hyderabad airport, while waiting for boarding to be announced. Read it non-stop and have finished it.

The 300-odd page novel is a narration by Draupadi on a somewhat abridged Mahabharata. Of course because she is the narrator, it also includes her childhood in detail, which I'm not sure if it is mentioned in the original.

I have always been fascinated by the Mahabharata as an epic. During childhood, it was definitely one of the most eagerly awaited serials and I can sing the title song even today. Draupadi is one of the key characters in the epic, having said to have played a very important role in bringing about the war at Kurukshetra. So, when I read a review somewhere that the 'Palace of Illusions' gives a perspective of this central figure, I was more than sold on reading it.

There are lots of reviews on other blogs about the books. So, I am not going to do the same here. But I have been thinking of jotting down points on what worked for me and what didn't.

The writing is fairly simple and straightforward - so much so that it is almost as if the characters live in the current world that we live in. The book makes for a quick, easy reading. And, as promised, gives a view on the story through Draupadi's eyes, which may or may not be true, who's to say?

Some of the points that grated on me while reading this book were -

1. How Draupadi's father, King Drupad was shown in a less than a favorable light. Draupadi seems to have acceptance issues with her father and the rest of the family. Somehow, the idea I got after seeing the epic was that of a doting father. The author also makes a small goof-up, when after the Pandavas come back to tell Drupad that all five of them are to marry her and live in the forest etc etc., he (Drupad) asks them how he can allow his only daughter to live like that? Whereas, earlier in the book, we are told of Drupad's various other daughters and how Draupadi could never form any sibling bonds with them.

2. Lack of Arjuna's storyline - Ok, first of all, I did not like that Arjuna was mentioned as 'Arjun' in the entire book whereas everyone else was called Karna, Bheema etc. 'Arjun' just seems so 90s hindi movie name.
Anyway, it is shown that Draupadi is very much ready to fall in love with Arjuna as the swayamvar approaches. However, once it is done and the whole 'You have to marry all 5 of us' is played out, the Arjuna storyline loses steam.
Throughout the book, Draupadi does not once relate her relationship in detail with Arjuna, who was her original suitor. It is mentioned in various places on how Arjuna seemed angry with the arrangement or how Draupadi longed to see the love in his eyes. One would only imagine that she would relate her year of being Arjuna's wife in a little bit more detail.
For the most part of the narration, she keeps talking about Yudhishtir, who is a slightly boring character for most readers. She also talks about Bheem's love for her at various times. However, not once does she talk about any kind of love that Arjuna might have showed her ever or vice-versa.

3. Obsession with Karna - Karna is undoubtedly one of the most popular figures in the Mahabharata, in spite of being associated with Duryodhana.
In the book, Paanchali & Karna have been shown as a couple of star-crossed lovers. Paanchali, for her part, keeps comparing her husbands with what Karna might have been. She keeps doing scenario analysis on 'what-if I hadn't stopped him at the swayamvar...' and so on and so forth. So much so, that after a point I momentarily forgot that this was an already written epic, and kept waiting for some hindi-movie type union sequence between the two!!
I do not know whether Ved Vyasa's Mahabharata talks about any kind of desire between Draupadi and Karna, and even if it does, its probably limited to the swayamvar event and does not become a life long obsession.

Even with all her longing for Arjuna's love, in the end, when she is dead, Paanchali dreams of entering heaven holding Karna's hand and not Arjuna's. This portion was too filmy for me to digest.

4. Tu Tu Main Main - Paanchali's interaction with her mother-in-law Kunti has been portrayed in the book like a typical saas-bahu relationship, and somehow it just comes across as highly pedestrian. I don't believe that ladies like Draupadi & Kunti, who have enough strife in their lives, would actually make it worse by doing one-upmanship with each other in their everyday life. When Kunti visits the Palace of Illusions, Paanchali feels that it is established that she is the mistress of her home and not her mother-in-law. In turn, Kunti also behaves like the proper 70s movie mother-in-law, sans the 'kulta, karamjali' type dialogues.

What I did like about the book was the depiction of the relationship between Krishna & Krishnaa (Draupadi). Their friendship, Krishna's continuous effort to educate Paanchali on the higher purpose of life and Draupadi's realization that of all the people she knew Krishna was the one who truly loved her were well etched. The ending where Krishna is seen to be with Draupadi in the snow filled mountain - tries to give a spiritual touch- but probably should have stuck to the spirituality only in relation to Krishna and not to the floating heavenly characters.

Overall, I felt that Draupadi through the narration, was portrayed as a very uni-dimensional character. The need to show a multi-layered complex heroine was obvious, however in the effort what came out was a self-important woman, who was obsessed with 4-5 key things in life - vengeance, Karna, Krishna's divinity, her mother-in-law's power over her husbands, her Palace of Illusions - may or may not be in that order.

On a lighter note, as I read the book I kept on hearing Naseeruddin Shah's dialogue "Aisi sati ki jai ho" in my head from Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron. I'm sure everyone remembers the disastrous cheer-haran scene in the hilarious movie. Here are some funny dialogues from the scene and also a clip:

1. Shaant, gadadhari Bheem, Shaant
2. Dharamraj, iski jubaan kheench loon ke? (Bheem to Yudi in relation to Dushasan)
3. Draupadi tere akele ki nahi hai. Hum sab shareholder hain.
4. Nahi, Draupadi jaisi Sati nari ko dekhkar maine cheer haran ka idea drop kar diya hai. Jai ho, aisi Sati nari ki jai ho.
5.Nalayak, adharmi, durachari, vamachari, bhrasthachari, bol sorry! Apne sasur ko nahi pehchante? Main hoon Draupadi ka baap, Dhrupad.
6. Yes sab kya ho raha hai? (Dhrithrashtra, aka The Blind King)


Too long a hiatus.... shifting across married...moving to a new blog, but still missing the old scrapyard.. decision to start writing again on the blog which started it all..

Thursday, January 24, 2008

The One with Thursday Blues

The questions about life, the universe and everything kind of pales in comparison to the more pressing questions of what is the importance of Thursday in the grand scheme of things?
I ask myself this question every Thursday, more so since I have started working.. I mean, you know what, Thursday isn't like Mon- Wed when work is all there is to think about.. its not Friday when the weekend is all there to think about.. you don't feel like working too much because the weekend is nearing and you feel guilty for feeling so because there is one whole day left to the, what is the purpose of Thursday????
Today was just another Thursday spent at the office...workload is not so much this week..last week was crazy. So I'm taking my time this week to laze around, read up on some articles that were long pending..generally willing Saturday to come so I can sleep for 12 hours straight.

Heard some good music on my way back home.. for those of you in Mumbai, you would know there is a new FM channel on 104.8 and its called 'MEOW' in the sound a cat makes.. and they have such a lame songline for the goes like "thodi meethi, thody catty..104.8".. oh my god..!!
I was thinking today that I will call them up one of these days to tell them the song sucks.. I mean what kind of characterization is Meow?..and its supposed to be the first Only For Women radio channel!!! Does anyone care about having a radio station just for women????.. their saving grace is that the music is least at the time that I go back home, there is some predictable yet comfortable english music being played.
Heard some Eric Clapton, U2, Eagles, Def Leppard on my way back today. All songs I know the lyrics of so I could sing along to my heart's content.

I left office early today because of the aforementioned Thursday blues..had to go visit my teammate who injured her back today and so couldn't come to office. Took away some of her mental bandwidth by chattering randomly. I had planned to come home early and watch Star Wars -- hadn't decided which one but definitely the Luke Skywalker franchise.. somehow the Anakin Skywalker part just doesn't hold my interest. Was planning on either catching up on Empire Strikes Back or Return of the Jedi. I just love the dialogue in which Darth Vader tells Luke - "Luke, I am your father".. In the episode of Simpsons called The Forrest Gump episode, the police arrests Springfield residents who copy film characters. In that, the black city doctor is dressed up as Darth Vader and says the same dialogue and laughs in his characteristic way.. If you watch the Simpsons, you'd know what I'm talking about.

Anyway, this post is a follow-up on my earlier resolve to blog regularly.. so even though no life changing matter is on my head currently, I will still write.. Asked a friend for his new blog's URL which I had misplaced, only to go and find that he's been as lazy as I me or he's been as busy as me and hasn't updated the blog..

Ah well, maybe the purpose of Thursday is for lazy people like me to spend some time doing other things in life and nothing more grander than that..I think I can settle with that..

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The One with the Resolve

I will not flatter myself by thinking that my blog might have had a few regular visitors..who would have resigned to the fate that I write only once a year.
So this entry is not for those people (though if anyone of you was a regular...I promise to write more.. please do visit).

It was just another random Tuesday when I was sitting in the office...and having worked for 5 hours straight with only a lunch break in between, I decided to do some TP. Nothing harmful, just thought I would read some blogs that I visit and see what's happening in people's lives. By the end of the hour, within which I had surfed through 3-4 blogs, I realized that I used to like writing.

Unlike some people I know who have a theme to their blogs , mine is just random musings. So, me being the lazy person that I am, I don't get myself to write unless something is on my mind that I feel the urge put in words. But I've realized that it's a good way to do something beyond just going to office and going home from office.
To cut a long story short, I'm going to be regular from now onwards.. and I'm going to write about anything that comes to my mind even if its not earth shattering..

So, what have I done since the last post and this one.. not much really, if you take into account the significance of the universe. I landed myself a very first..and I find myself once again in Mumbai :)

I' m with ICICI Bank now and I'm doing some very interesting work in the Investment Banking - Private Equity field. Living with a batchmate from FMS in the central suburbs of Mumbai.

As always, trying to learn along the way, every day.

So there's your new year resolve, albeit some weeks late.. Blog Regularly..

Oh, and Happy New Year.. the blog has seen three new years now :)

Sunday, December 31, 2006

The One with The Year Ending Post

Time to make that quintessential year ending post.

And unlike last year, this year I do remember what I was doing last New Year’s eve, thanks to the post made by me last year.

This last year, I’ve had some of the most varied experiences of life and have learnt a great deal.

Professionally speaking, I had the first brush of corporate life this summer and learnt some stuff. On campus, I helped conduct two placement processes. I learnt a lot from that.

This year also marks the ending of my academic life, at least for now. Only a couple of months more to go to finish MBA. Despite all my cribbing and some of the disillusion, given a chance, I would not change any of the decisions that I have made in these two years. I feel that despite having to let go of some essential things that my other batch mates have achieved, I’ve utilized my time well and have grown to be a different person from two years before (professionally) in a better way.

What the coming couple of months have in store for me, I do not know. It is highly possible that my experience in the next two months will determine how I look back on my MBA education. For now, I will suffice to say that I have learnt more than I thought I will and that the journey has been good.

On a personal front, as usual this year saw some relationships going bad and others being reinforced. These last couple of days, I have been having this craving to go back to school. Nostalgia has not hit me like this for quite some time now. Certain events triggered this more than others.

But if anyone asks me five years down the line, what it is about 2006 that I remember, I will remember rediscovering a long lost friend.

A friend who has been in my life since I can remember. Frankly, I cannot recall what it was like before this person came into my life – maybe its because its been too long or maybe because this person became such an important part or maybe both.

It is completely ironic how I say that he was such an important part and yet I say that I rediscovered him this year.

I believe everyone has friends – long lost- who they remember everyday in some subconscious part of the brain, but who remain merely those – memories. This friend of mine has been a little more than just a memory for the last eight years. We have been in correspondence, if only for birthdays. We’ve known each other since forever. We stopped being such good friends somewhere down the line because of some unfortunate misunderstandings. It took us some two years to get back in touch. Over the last six years, we’ve been civilized to each other and have built a pseudo-friendship.

It’s really funny how pseudo-friendships turn out to be more comfortable than the intense, loyal ones. So that’s how we’ve been – riding the smooth waves of a comfortable camaraderie.

The rediscovery came about when I finally learnt the truth about the incident that had caused us to separate. A truth which he revealed to me after eight years. A fact that might have changed my life had I got to know about it back then. A fact that now, merely evokes bittersweet memories and tons of ‘What If’ questions.

I was quite elated when I found out this piece of information. But a couple of days down the line, I’ve started feeling not so great about it. In fact, maybe it would have been better had it remained hidden, like it was all these years. Because so far I had built my life on the absence of this knowledge. The sudden inflow of information is causing me to rearrange all the years gone by.

I marvel at the human psyche. I marvel at how feelings change so easily with time. I marvel at how our lives change, how the people who matter change and how easily we allow ourselves to change.

I know that this ability to change is the key to survival. Without it, we would all be stuck in a moment and would not be able to live our lives. Yet, it evokes in me an ache so basic and so core, that I feel the need to question all of it. What I wouldn’t do at this moment to own a pensieve to store and review all the important things in life.

This post is dedicated to this particular friend of mine – who I lost when I needed him the most and who I have now rediscovered.

This post is also dedicated to another friend – whose loss I feel everyday of every year, and who, sadly I cannot find again.

Another new year’s eve signaling a year gone by that’s been great fun, a little problematic and loads of learning.

Happy New Year !!

Slow dancing on the boulevard
In the quiet moments while the city’s still dark
Sleepwalking through the summer rain and the tired spaces
You could hear her name when she was warm and tender
And you held her arms around you
There was nothing but her love and affection
She was crazy for you
Now she's part of something that you lost

And for all you know
This could be
The difference between what you need
And what you wanna be
Yeah, what you wanna be

Night swimming in her diamond dress
Making small circles move across the surface
Stand watching from the steady shore
Feeling wide open and waiting for
Something warm and tender
Now she's moving further from you
There was nothing that could make it easy on you
Every step you take reminds you that she's walking wrong

Yeah, for all you know
This could be
The difference between what you need
And what you want

Every word you never said
Echoes down your empty hallway
And everything that was your world
Just came down

Day breaking on the boulevard
Feel the sun warming up your second hand heart
Light swimming right across your face
And you think maybe someday, yeah
Maybe someday

For all you know
Yeah, this could be
The difference between what you need
And what you want

Yeah, for all you know
For all you know
Yeah, for all that you know
This is what you wanna be
Girl, what you wanna be

- MATCHBOX 20 - "The Difference"

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

The One with The Sunscreen

Just an arbit post about this song that I really like-- Baz Luhrmann's Everybody's free to wear sunscreen. The song is like one of those mails that we used to forward to each other back in school and sounds like it should be on a Hallmark or an Archie's poster.. But it's a lot of fun to listen to when all you want is some different music and also when you want some advice and don't find anyone around..

Ladies and Gentlemen of the class of ’99
If I could offer you only one tip for the future, sunscreen would be it.
The long term benefits of sunscreen have been proved by scientists
whereas the rest of my advice has no basis more reliable than my own meandering experience…
I will dispense this advice now. Enjoy the power and beauty of your youth; oh nevermind; you will not understand the power and beauty of your youth until they have faded.
But trust me, in 20 years you’ll look back at photos of yourself and
recall in a way you can’t grasp now how much possibility lay before
you and how fabulous you really looked….
You’re not as fat as you imagine. Don’t worry about the future; or worry, but know that worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubblegum.
The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that never crossed your worried mind;
the kind that blindside you at 4pm on some idle Tuesday.
Do one thing everyday that scares you
Don’t be reckless with other people’s hearts, don’t put up with people who are reckless with yours.
Don’t waste your time on jealousy; sometimes you’re ahead, sometimes you’re behind…the race is long, and in the end, it’s only with yourself.
Remember the compliments you receive, forget the insults; if you succeed in doing this, tell me how.
Keep your old love letters, throw away your old bank statements.
Don’t feel guilty if you don’t know what you want to do with your life…the most interesting people I know didn’t know at 22 what they wanted to do with their lives, some of the most interesting 40 year olds I know still don’t.
Get plenty of calcium.
Be kind to your knees, you’ll miss them when they’re gone.
Maybe you’ll marry, maybe you won’t, maybe you’ll have children,maybe you won’t,
maybe you’ll divorce at 40, maybe you’ll dance the funky chicken on your 75th wedding anniversary…what ever you do, don’t congratulate yourself too much or berate yourself either – your choices are half chance, so are everybody else’s.
Enjoy your body, use it every way you can…don’t be afraid of it, or what other people
think of it, it’s the greatest instrument you’ll ever own..
Dance…even if you have nowhere to do it but in your own living room.
Read the directions, even if you don’t follow them.
Do NOT read beauty magazines, they will only make you feel ugly.
Get to know your parents, you never know when they’ll be gone for good.
Be nice to your siblings; they are the best link to your past and the people most likely to stick with you in the future.
Understand that friends come and go,but for the precious few you should hold on.
Work hard to bridge the gaps in geography and lifestyle because the older you get, the more you need the people you knew when you were young.
Live in New York City once, but leave before it makes you hard;
live in Northern California once, but leave before it makes you soft.
Accept certain inalienable truths, prices will rise, politicians will philander, you too will get old, and when you do you’ll fantasize that when you were young prices were reasonable, politicians were noble and children respected their elders.
Respect your elders.
Don’t expect anyone else to support you. Maybe you have a trust fund, maybe you have a wealthy spouse; but you never know when either one might run out.
Don’t mess too much with your hair, or by the time you're 40, it will look 85.
Be careful whose advice you buy, but, be patient with those who supply it.
Advice is a form of nostalgia, dispensing it is a way of fishing the past from the disposal, wiping it off, painting over the ugly parts and recycling it for more than it’s worth.
But trust me on the sunscreen…

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

The One with Childhood Memories

This one has almost been a nagging thought asking to be put into words. Just to write down the flashes of memories those keep coming to me every now and then.

When we were younger, my brother and I, every summer for vacations we used to go to Chennai. At that time Chennai was a place of escape for me. When I was a kid I used to hate staying in Delhi, as we did not have any relatives there. I had no cousins in the city. I did not have a big joint family around me like my friends. It used to be only the four of us and at that age, I used to long for a joint family with uncles, aunts and cousins.

So going to Chennai for summer vacations was something I looked forward to the whole year.

In Chennai also, I used to like being at my cousin’s place more than my nana-nani’s. Everything about the time I have spent there is etched on mind as clearly as if it were yesterday. Right from the house that they lived in. It wasn’t even their own, but I used to love that house as if it were my own. They’re not there anymore, obviously. They’re not even in the country anymore. I have a small family. At that time I had only two cousins. With my brother and me, that made only four of us. We were a very close knit group. Even our age differences were evenly spaced out. Obviously I was closer to my cousin sis Anu than to her brother, Arun. They used to have school when we had vacations. So in the mornings, while they went to school, I would just hang around the house trailing behind my daadi. I remember there was a phase when I used to listen to the soundtrack of Anjali every day, day in day out. I used to wait for them to come back from school to have lunch with them. It used to be such a fun affair having lunch and dinner with them.

Then in the evening, in the huge hall that the house had, my grandmother would plait my sister’s hair first and then mine. Late afternoon sunlight would be streaming in slits from the balcony. The clock would be about to strike 4:30. And all this preparation was done so that we could go to the terrace to play. We used to play stapu. I don’t know if anyone still plays that game. It’s the one in which you draw seven blocks and throw a stone and hop to pick it up. The terrace was huge and there always used to be a beautiful breeze in the evening. My grandmother and my mom would sit on the side and chat away while watching us. As it became darker to play, we would just sit around and chat.

At night, we used to play all kinds of indoor games like hide and seek and catch.

As the years went by and we grew older, Anu and I would go shopping together, do the occasional cooking, talk about life and the guys in our livesJ.

I remember I was extremely upset when they moved from that house. For me that house symbolized our childhood, all our activities and memories were captured in that house and I could not for the life of me understand, why they would want to leave it.

I was right. After the move, things have never been the same. Of course, it really wasn’t because they moved from there. It was because we all have grown up. We don’t have summer vacations anymore. We are all not even in the same country anymore. This November, Anu is getting married. We’re that grown up.

The memory of that time, in that house, is like a safe place for me. A safe place is a concept used in regression hypnosis, where the patient is asked to return to when the session gets too difficult to handle. Sometimes while going about routine work, I just stop and wonder why I am doing what I am doing, and wonder where the good old days have gone. I guess for me whenever I yearn for the good ol’ days, I just think about that time and that place, which is frozen in space.

And I still ask my grandma sometimes to plait my hair. Not because I need it anymore, but because it symbolizes a constant in this blindly fast-paced routine.

It's really ironic to think that in our hurry to grow up and see the world, we have left the best part of our lives behind, never to go back.

This empty kitchen's where
I'd while away the hours
Just next to my old chair
You'd usually have some flowers
The shelves of books
Even the picture hooks
Everything is gone
But my heart is hanging on

If this old neighbourhood
Survived us both alright
Don't know that it withstood
All the things that took our light
You on the stair
I can see you there
Everything is gone
But my heart is hanging on

Once there was a little girl
Used to wonder what she would be
Went out into the big wide world
Now she's just a memory
There used to be a little school here
Where I learned to write my name
But time has been a little cruel here
Time has no shame

It's just a place where
We used to live
It's just a place where
We used to live

Now in another town
You lead another life
And now upstairs and down
You're someone else's wife
Here in the dust
There's not a trace of us
Everything is gone
But my heart is hanging on

It's just a place where
We used to live
It's just a place where
We used to live

- A Place Where we used to Live
Mark Knopfler