Monday, December 28, 2009

50 Ways To Leave Your Lover

Oh no I’m not telling you to leave your lover. Or how to. That's the title of a 1975 Paul Simon song which I find quite amusing. The song is about a mistress telling her lover to leave his wife, and some of the ways to do it. I don’t particularly like the song but the lyrics I find very entertaining.

You just slip out the back, Jack
Make a new plan, Stan
You don't need to be coy, Roy
Just get yourself free
Hop on the bus, Gus
You don't need to discuss much
Just drop off the key, Lee
And get yourself free.

Doesn’t that make you laugh? I did some Googling and came across a funny article posted in one e-newspaper, The Morning News. It said that while the song title says “50 Ways To Leave Your Lover” Paul Simon listed out only five, and then proceeded to list out the other forty-five, and called it 45 Additional Ways to Leave Your Lover. Find below the forty-five points, I bet you will laugh out loud. Find the whole article here.

45. Push him out a tree, Bree

44. Feed her to a shark, Mark

43. Harvest his kidney, Cindy

42. Make him all porous, Doris

41. Feed him some ricin, Tyson

40. Get kvetchin,’ Gretchen

39. Chop off his organ, Morgan

38. Throw her down a gorge, George

37. Punch her with an awl, Paul

36. Fake your own death, Beth

35. Hire Chaz Palminteri, Mary

34. Don’t let her fool ‘ya, Julia

33. Drop an anvil on his dick, Chick

32. Toss him off the seventh story, Laurie

31. Pulp his scrotus, Otis

30. Bury her alive, Clive

29. Run him over with a trolley, Molly

28. Feed her to the capitalist sharks! Marx!

27. Make her write a will, Bill

26. Chisel off his knees, Louise

25. Switch to the whip, Chip

24. Give her a double-barreled hug, Doug

23. Bake him in a tureen, Doreen

22. Cement him in a well, Mel

21. Bump her off a ridge, Midge

20. Start erasin,’ Jason

19. Select her sister for a mate, Nate

18. Try to poke her mom, Tom

17. Slip her a mickey, Dickey

16. Make her whip corn, Rip Torn

15. Subtract a limb, Tim

14. Make it hard for him to piss, Kris

13. Set fire to his hair, Blair

12. Hit him with a mace, Chase

11. Cook her in a stew, Llew

10. Drown him off your yacht, Dot

9. Chomp on his penis, Enos

8. Fit her for a spear, Dear

7. Staple him to the bed, Fred

6. Drown him in the Seine, Le Glen

5. Smother her with malice, Alice

4. Drop him down the flue, Sue

3. Apply the hurt, Burt

2. Amputate daily, Haley

1. Change your name to Hannah, Diana

Funny, isn’t it?

Friday, December 25, 2009

A different Christmas

On account of it being Christmas and the church programme starting at three in the afternoon I woke up early this morning. I sent out a “Merry Christmas” SMS to friends and family, and my eldest brother who works and lives in Lengpui with his family sent me a reply saying they were in the middle of a “Chhangban ruai” and wished me “Happy Id.” He has a weird sense of humour which he displays only to family.  Off I headed to the kitchen and started preparing lunch. I was almost done when my niece got up and announced her tummy hurt badly and she didn’t sleep much because of the pain and didn’t think she would be able to go to church. She had complained of that since the last two days and it looked like something serious. I asked her to wash up and get dressed and then we dashed out to see a doctor.
The Telangana activists had graciously called off today’s bandh because it is Christmas, but the streets were pretty empty and some stores had downed their shutters. I hailed a passing auto, and on hearing our destination the driver immediately asked for almost twice the regular fare. I wasn’t in the mood for any argument or bargaining and so we set off.

Falling sick is such a sad event. And as if to aggravate us more we tend to fall sick at the most inappropriate of times, although it could be rightly said there is never an appropriate time to be sick. I fall sick every time I go home to Mizoram, sometimes bedridden for days and sometimes a cold and the occasional fever

We went to one of the best hospitals in Hyderabad, and I was very impressed with the way things went. Smiling, helpful, friendly staff, clean surroundings and maybe because it was a holiday no long queues, the sterile hospital smell not too strong though I am sad to say it was not completely absent, all in all not a bad experience. The doctor asked us to go for this test and that test and we were in the hospital for quite a while. In between waiting for tests we watched Telugu serials on the mounted TV’s - not something I’d care to do again, sent a hundred text messages with my clumsy thumbs, and passed comments on the people around us which was fun because they didn’t have a clue what we said. It was past three when we finished all the tests and were able to go home. We bought a Christmas cake from a nearby bakery where the owner wished me a cheerful “Merry Christmas” – that was one of the best and most genuine Merry Christmases I’ve ever received. The auto driver kept talking on his mobile phone all the way home, and when he didn’t have change ( auto drivers never do) I didn’t make him check all his pockets or get change from a nearby shop, I simply walked away without demanding for my change.  It must have been the Christmas effect, or the hospital effect, or the joy of being alive without any aches or pains.

Some of the test results will be out tomorrow, and that means another trip and another examination. The bandh has been moved to tomorrow which is something quite ridiculous and could happen only in India. I just hope we would be able to go out safely amidst the encircling gloom… well not quite, amidst the rioting stone throwing buses burning suicide threatening separate state demanding “fasting” unto death “patriots”.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

A Christmas movie

I have just finished watching the Christmas movie Joyeux Noël, about the truce between the German, French, and Scottish soldiers on Christmas Eve of 1914. It is based on real occurrences of which many of us would be aware.
An Internet search reveals the truce began on Christmas Eve on 1914, when German troops began decorating the area around their trenches in the region of Ypres, Belgium for Christmas. In 1915 there was a similar Christmas truce between German and French troops, and during Easter 1916 a truce also existed on the Eastern Front.
Okay I am not going into details, if you want to know more you can google it. This is about the movie, a tearjerking heartwarming sappy Christmas movie. Even though it takes place during the war, it would be wrong to say it is a war movie. It has romance, friendship, family, religion, and of course the war. It makes one realise the futility of war and that no matter how much you have been taught to hate your enemies, at the end of the day they are also people with families, somebody’s son with mothers and wives waiting for them back home.
Like I said, the movie has many elements. You have the opera singer who was drafted and on Christmas Eve when he went to sing for the Crown Prince with his girlfriend, who was also an opera singer, she persuaded him to take her to the front where she sang for the troops. The soldier was then arrested for disobedience, and rather than risk being separated the lovers surrendered to the French. Then there was the young Scottish boy whose brother was killed, but he kept writing letters to his mother from both of them. The French lieutenant whose wife was pregnant and since nobody could communicate with them he had no idea what happened to her or whether he had a son or daughter. The Scottish priest who went along with the recruits from his parish, who held “the most important mass of his life” on that Christmas Eve, to a congregation of French and German and Scottish soldiers. The young French soldier who longed for his mother and her hot coffee, his house was only an hour away from the front and on Boxing Day he disguised himself as a German soldier and went home. When he came back he was spotted by a visiting Major (who was quite angry about the truce) and gave orders for him to be shot. Before he died, his lieutenant came to hold him and with his last breath the soldier whispered about his mother and delivered the news that the lieutenant had a son.
Alfred Anderson, the last survivor of the Christmas Truce of 1914 died on 21 November, 2005 at a nursing home in his native Scotland. He was 109 years old.
On 11 November 2008, the first official Truce memorial was unveiled in Frelinghien, France, the site of a Christmas Truce football game in 1914.
If you have the time, do watch this movie. Although the incident took place almost a hundred years ago, it will restore your faith in humanity.

Friday, December 4, 2009

‘Tis the season to be nostalgic

Wouldn’t you agree? Is it the cold, or is it the Christmassy feeling that hangs in the air, is it because people are packing their bags left right and center and going home? All of the above, I guess. This year seems to be colder than other years, and last night I took out a pair of warm socks which I wore to bed. But not before having a good laugh. My mother bought that particular pair for me the last time I was home, and it was one of those long socks which go until the knees. Whenever I wore it my brothers would ask me if I was going to play football and remembering that made me laugh out loud.

The sun is not too hot anymore, and the afternoons are lovely. The sun’s warm golden rays stream in through the window, fall on my bed, making me wish I could just lie in bed and enjoy the warmth. But alas, afternoon is when I go to work, and on weekends the weather turns cloudy as if the gods are scheming to deprive me of my sunshine. The light is just perfect to take a picture, so if you’re naturally ugly or hopelessly non-photogenic, afternoon is the right time to get your picture taken.

With the festivals following one another since September there is an air of festivity all around. Every shop is having a sale, each one more outrageous than the next (Buy 2 get 10, buy 1 get 1 free etc). Very soon the Santa caps will be out on the streets, with hawkers wearing and selling them at traffic signals and busy street corners. The big malls will again put up their beautifully decorated Christmas trees. The stores selling Christmas stuff will be opened once again.

Back home, the month of December will be packed with activities. The markets will be unbelievably crowded, the shopkeepers will be super busy selling their overpriced wares and people will still be buying them because we are a fashion crazy tribe who do not know what we can and cannot afford. Okay I am not going down that route. The schools will be closed and kids will have the times of their lives roaming about playing with friends (or stay at home playing computer games), Christmas Carols, Santa Claus Nites, this-and-that concert in aid of so-and-so, a flurry of weddings will be seen, singletons will run around in a tizzy looking for someone to spend Christmas and New Year with, and people will be travelling to go home to be with their folks.

I will not be going home this Christmas. My eight-year-old niece couldn’t understand why. She wants me to, not because she missed me greatly but only because she wanted the gifts which I always bring for her. I saw right through her. Whenever we speak on the phone she always asks when I’ll be home, so when I told her I would be home only in April or May she was very disappointed. "But that is so far away," she said, and counted the months (this conversation took place some time in October) .

"Six months! But why are you not coming home for Christmas?"

I told her I had to work.

"But you always come home for Christmas!"

Six months will go by very quickly, I said.

"But still..."

She wanted a remote controlled Barbie which I always promised to get her next time, and of course next time never comes.

Three weeks to go. I am not really looking forward to it. Christmas has lost its shine and glamour as we grow older; it has become just another excuse to shop and spend money. I envy the innocent children for whom Christmas means new clothes and toys, fun and excitement; it is at times like these that I wished I was a child again.

Three weeks to go.

Saturday, November 28, 2009


Time flies when you're having fun, so the old saying goes. But time also flies when you're having a miserable time, when you're not doing anything great, or if life is so-so, or if you're just doing everyday things and achieving nothing in particular. That's one thing about time that will never change: it flies.

It's hard to believe that it's already the end of November. Another month and this year will be over, and before you know it the new year will be upon us, hurtling us towards middle age and then old age and wrinkles and senility and gray hair and eventually death. Scary, isn't it?

A few days ago I played a game on Facebook called Social Interview where FB asked me 21 random questions. One of the questions was "Have you learned anything this year?" I didn't have any answer to it. I didn't learn anything new, I didn't learn how to play the guitar (which I've tried but I'm hopeless at), didn't learn how to dance, or paint, or play chess better. I didn't learn how to be a better person, how to communicate better with others, how to improve my social skills, or how to be more forgiving and not hold any grudges. I didn't learn anything new about the world around me, I didn't read about Greek mythology which I find quite fascinating but about which I know very little. I started reading Ramayana but other books interfered and I am still somewhere on the first one hundred pages. I didn't finish reading The Bible, didn't even finish reading my Daily Bread. To cut a long story short: I was lazy.

If there's anything I hate, it's laziness. I hate people who are inefficient and unproductive and incompetent. More than that, I hate people who don't try. And here I am being everything I hated, being everything I detested. What is the world coming to? Am I spiralling down towards complete inefficiency and slowly turning into a lazy lout? Is my life without purpose, without any goals, am I just drifting along?

This new year I wrote that I wouldn't be making any New Year resolutions. Because I never keep them. And so I didn't, and here I am now at the tail end of the year, doing exactly the same thing I did eleven months ago, my daily routine the same as ever. Would I be better off if I had made some resolutions when the year began? Would I have made some changes in my life if I had promised to do so? Maybe yes. Resolutions are like goals, like reminders, you need to work towards achieving them. They fill your life with purpose, with objectives, and give you a sense of fulfillment when you keep them. And in some way keep you from being lazy.

Have you ever noticed how one day goes so slowly but the months and the years just fly by? Everyday we go to work hoping the month would end so we can get paid, and one fine morning we wake up and realise that a whole year had gone by waiting for the month-end. Every new year I'd always write how I wished it would be a better year, a more productive and more fruitful year, but somehow somewhere along the way I guess I must have lost track because I always end up in the same spot when the last day of the year rolled around.

So will I be making resolutions next year? I don't know, maybe I will, only time will tell.

Thursday, November 19, 2009


To be precise: comic books, as Thompson would have said (that’s Thompson with a P, as in pneumonia). We have always referred to comic books as comics, hence the title.  Not to be confused with those funny men who make people laugh, although in the true sense they are the real comics, but we didn’t know that when we were kids, did we?
I have always enjoyed reading comics. And I guess you do too. Comics are easy to read, funny, easy on the eyes, entertaining and sometimes educating. Which child doesn’t love reading them? I bet most of you would have grown up reading the occasional comic book. Even in this day and age I still read them; they bring out the child in me along with wonderful memories. Before I fell in love with books, I discovered comics and the love story continues unto this day.

My cousins were as mad about comics as I was, and we would spend hours raiding each other’s collections. One cousin in particular had a huge collection and I think his collection was always the worst hit. My mother would tell us about the day when we were very young when he came to our house. It seemed he sat in the sitting room all by himself and would laugh out occasionally. So when my mother went to investigate what was making him laugh so much it turned out he was reading Sudden Muanga. 

Phantom is always the first character that comes to mind when discussing comics. The Ghost Who Walks, The Man Who Cannot Die, living in the skull cave and tirelessly fighting crime and making the word a peaceful place to live in. And that famous opening line “For those who came in late….”  And of course any Phantom fan would be familiar with the old jungle sayings – “Phantom moves faster than lightning” “You never find the Phantom, he finds you.” “Call the Phantom anywhere, and he will hear.” Find more Old Jungle Sayings here. And how can we forget Hero and Devil, his faithful companions, and his two rings, and the Bandar, Old Man Mozz, Rex, Diana, Guran, the deep woods, the skull throne, the list could go on and on.

I looked up Phantom and was amazed to learn that the first Phantom comic strip was published in 1936. Its creator, Lee Falk, also created Mandrake the magician, another favourite.  Mandrake was first published in 1934. We were amazed by the many magic “tricks” performed by Mandrake, although many times it was explained that it was hypnotism. Lothar, his companion, his girlfriend Narda who lived in Xanadu,  his many enemies, most famous of all the group 8, whose leader the mysterious Octon who was never seen and always addressed the members from behind a curtain, or was it through a speaker? I’m not so sure anymore.  One story I can never forget is that of the Invisible Man, who it turned out had worn a special kind of fabric that deflected light or something like that making him invisible. Mandrake sprayed paint on him and he was revealed.

Thanks to Indrajal Comics these wonderful comic books found their ways into our homes and our hearts.  Other comics which I can remember were Flash Gordon and his many adventures in space, his partners Dale and Dr Zarkov, and good old Bahadur - the man with the muscle, Rip Kirby the detective, and Timpa. Do you remember Timpa and his grandfather? Although he never had a comic book dedicated to him, the adventures of Timpa were often seen on the last few pages of the regular comic books.  And then there were Garth and Dara, but I didn’t read them much.

Next stop –Archie. Ah now I can see the smiles on your faces. Who doesn’t read Archie comics? My favourite character is Jughead, followed by Mr. Lodge. Then there were other comics like Katy Keene, Richie Rich, Disney comics, and Famous Five. There was a time when I was mad about MAD, that was the time before the Indian edition came out, and I would buy secondhands.  I bound all my MAD magazines in one fat book, and a nephew borrowed it and that was the last time I ever saw it.  So if you ever come across something like that, with my name written on it, please keep it safe for me.

Do you remember those girls comics? Black and white, always about a young girl, and the name of the comics would always be girls’ names, like Bunty, Mandy etc.  They were also very popular, and you also have the romantic comics of the same type.  Oh and also Blue Jeans, the ones with the photographs in it, somewhat like Photoromance.  Ahh Photoromance, Kiss… I think every girl growing up in the 70s-90s must be aware of them. Before we started reading the M&Bs they were our staple diet, our only source of romantic stories.  A  google search tells me that they were published from Lancio in Rome, Italy from around 1975 to 1991. No wonder all the actors were Italian.

Westerns and Commando.  Small, black and white, but very interesting and very informative.  Cowboys and their lives fascinated us. The Commando books were almost always about World War II, and of course the Germans and the Japanese were always the villains. But those comics taught us a lot about history.  I wish I could read them again. If I’d known they would be so precious and valuable I would have kept them safe and never lent them to anyone. But that’s the thing with comics. They are continuously circulated. We would have a trunk full of comics, but none of them would be ours. And if you go and check out other people’s collection you would probably find the same thing, and many of the times your own comic books.

A couple of weeks ago I bought a few Tintin comic books. Tintin is easily one of my most favourite comic books. There is mystery, adventure, international conspiracies, and Captain Haddock is there for the fun element. And also the Thomson twins.  But my favourite character is not Tintin or the  Captain, it is Jolyon Wagg, the annoyingly cheerful salesman who always turns up at the most unlikely places and could never get a hint.

If Tintin comes, can Asterix be far behind?  The small Gaul hero with his faithful partner Obelix. I love Asterix as much as I love Tintin. The best thing about the Asterix series is the names, my favourite being Unhygienix the fishmonger. Vitalstatistix, Getafix, Cacofonix, Impedimenta, Fulliautomatix, Geriatrix etc – all the names are suited to their occupation and personality.  And the Roman soldiers are extremely funny, one common dialogue among them being “Join the army they said, it’s a man’s life they said” (usually just before or after they are beaten up by the Gauls). Asterix turned 50 recently , on 22 October 2009.  For this occasion Albert Uderzo has created an album of Asterix short stories -  Asterix and Obelix's Birthday - The Golden Book.

Calvin and Hobbes is a recent favourite. The imaginative six year old boy and his stuffed tiger that comes alive only when no one is around.  Do you know that the last Calvin and Hobbes comic book was published in 1996? I’ve tried collecting them but they are too expensive, but I’m still hoping to have all the books in the series.

Oh boy this is turning into one long rambling post. But I’m not yet finished. I mentioned Sudden Muanga earlier, another character that never failed to entertain us. Of course I’m talking about the old Sudden Muanga, when he was still a skinny cowboy without a care in the world, before he turned political and religious and became boring. His horse Daii, his sidekick Hleizuama, his lady love Tumsangi, and his love of Saum.

 I still read comics. The first thing I read in a newspaper is the comics section. I have recently taken up collecting comics again, but this time I will not lend them to anyone, no matter how much they plead or beg or grovel.       

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Passing the Purple Hat

A friend sent me an email, one of those chain mails, titled "Passing the purple hat." I don't know how to describe it, so let me just paste it here:

"In honor of women's history month and in memory of Erma Bombeck who lost her fight with polycystic kidney disease after undergoing a kidney transplant at the age of 69. Here is an angel sent to watch over you."

I was shocked. Erma Bombeck is one of my favourite authors. I never knew she was dead; I just assumed she would be still alive somewhere and would be a funny old lady. She'd died in 1996, much before I'd ever heard of her. I obviously didn't do my homework and looked her up.

"Erma Louise Bombeck (February 21, 1927 – April 22, 1996), was an American humorist who achieved great popularity for her newspaper column that described suburban home life humorously from the mid-1960s until the late 1990s. Bombeck also published 15 books, most of which became best-sellers." - Wikipedia.

I was introduced to Erma when I read an article of hers in Reader's Digest; I think it was around 2002-03. The article was short, but funny, and could be about any family anywhere in the world. As was most of her books. She wrote about family life, mostly her family. She had two sons and a daughter, and like any family they had their arguments, fights, eccentricities and funny moments. It was written from a housewife's point of view, but besides being funny her books always have a good message at the end, like how much she loved her family no matter what happened, how lucky she was to be blessed with three beautiful children etc etc.

Any mother reading Erma Bombeck’s books would instantly identify with her, in fact all of us could in some way or the other identify with some character or the other in her books. After all, we were all teenagers once, and most of us would have grown up with a couple of siblings and would know a thing or two about sibling rivalry and the usual petty fights. Socks that don't match, children fighting at the dinner table, children fighting to see who would get the window seat in the car while travelling, the joys and travails of having a dog / any other pet, children doing homework at the very last minute, children avoiding household chores, couples fighting, exercising, varicose veins, advice from mothers, and other thousand everyday situations could be found in her books. I simply love the way she writes, for example –

Ever since I can remember, our home has harbored a fourth child - I.Dunno. Everyone sees him but me. All I know is, he’s rotten.
“Who left the front door open”?
“Who let the soap melt down the drain?”
“Who ate the banana I was saving for the cake?”
Frankly, I.Dunno is driving me nuts.

See? How can you not love her? How can you not identify with her or with the situation? So go to your nearest bookstore and pick up all the Erma Bombeck books you can lay your hands on. Satisfaction guaranteed. She also has a lot of funny quotes, look them up, I assure you they will leave a smile on your lips.

Coming back to the email I received – it went on like this –


I would have gone to bed when I was sick instead of pretending the earth would go into a holding pattern if I weren't there for the day.

I would have burned the pink candle sculpted like a rose before it melted in storage.

I would have talked less and listened more.

I would have invited friends over to dinner even if the carpet was stained, or the sofa faded.

I would have eaten the popcorn in the 'good' living room and worried much less about the dirt when someone wanted to light a fire in the fireplace.

I would have taken the time to listen to my grandfather ramble about his youth.

I would have shared more of the responsibility carried by my husband.

I would never have insisted the car windows be rolled up on a summer day because my hair had just been teased and sprayed.

I would have sat on the lawn with my grass stains.

I would have cried and laughed less while watching television and more while watching life.

I would never have bought anything just because it was practical, wouldn't show soil, or was guaranteed to last a lifetime.

Instead of wishing away nine months of pregnancy, I'd have cherished every moment and realized that the wonderment growing inside me was the only chance in life to assist God in a miracle.

When my kids kissed me impetuously, I would never have said, "Later. Now go get washed up for dinner." There would have been more "I love you's." More "I'm sorry's."

But mostly, given another shot at life, I would seize every minute...look at it and really see it, live it and never give it back. Stop sweating the small stuff.

Don't worry about who doesn't like you, who has more, or who's doing what.

Instead, let's cherish the relationships we have with those who do love us.

Let's think about what God HAS blessed us with. And what we are doing each day to promote ourselves mentally, physically, emotionally. I hope you all have a blessed day.

Friday, November 6, 2009

The Long and Short of it

Of hair. A hairstyle goes a long way in defining how you look; it can make you or break you.  No wonder all of us our obsessed with it. Well, obsessed may be a tad strong, maybe concerned, or worried. I think I swing between obsessed and concerned, that’s how worried I am about my hair and how it makes me look. Lord knows I am no beauty queen and I need all the help I can get from my hair to make me a little more presentable and look-able.  And so I am constantly chopping off my hair in search of the perfect hairstyle so that I can hopefully come close to being a sight for sore eyes, not that I harbour any illusions that I will end up looking like a movie star.

As kids my sister and I longed for long flowing hair, but my mother would have none of it. And my sister was quite unfortunate in that she went to PC Girls School, the prescribed haircut there being hair should be so short the tip of your ears should be visible, and no hair falling on the eyes - the eyebrows should be clearly visible. In short, the helmet hair.  She endured nine years of that.  Even though I went to a different school I sported the same style. We would take a bedsheet or shawl or long piece of cloth and tie it around our heads so that it falls down on our backs and we’d pretend it was our hair. And during the corn season we would take the golden coloured corn hair and put it on our heads and for a while feel very good about ourselves.

I sported the helmet look until I was sixteen, when my mother finally allowed me to grow it long. It was supposed to feel good, to feel grown up, having long hair, but I discovered it really was no big deal. It was the same hair which I’d had for years – thin, brown, fine, albeit a little longer. I duly wore it long for about four years, until I yearned for hassle free hair that doesn’t need combing and doesn’t stick to your neck on hot summer days, so I cut it short. Very short. Big mistake. I looked like a schoolboy. A boy friend said I looked like a madman. It took a couple of years for my hair to get back to normal. By normal I mean shoulder length. I then patiently let it grow, trimming the edges now and then. But the grass is always greener on the other side and quite a few times I had gone over and tried something new, but never anything as drastic as the schoolboy look. Currently I am somewhere between the schoolboy and the shoulder length, you know one of those short-at-the-top-but-a-bit-long-in-the-back kind of thing.

All said and done, I still like short hair. Sure, long hair is beautiful, it makes one feminine and graceful and your crowning glory, men are crazy about it etc etc, and I love long hair, but not on me.  When I see girls with long smooth hair I’d go “Wow it’d be nice having hair like that” but the moment my hair goes past my shoulders I strain my neck looking for the nearest place where I can chop them off.

Short hair is confident, it is sexy, and it is self-assured. But long hair is embedded in our minds as the symbol of beauty, fertility and whatnot, even in our stories the beautiful maiden always has long flowing silky hair. You’d never hear of the heroine in a helmet haircut waiting to be rescued from the dragon, or the bald beauty locked up in a tower waiting for her prince, or the strand of shoulder length hair that impressed a king so much he sent his men looking for the maiden to whom it belonged.

Men are hairier than women. They have hair in places we don’t.  So I think it is only natural that they should be the ones with long hair and we women should all go tonsured. Then they can talk with their men friends about shampoos and conditioners and colours and styles and hairbands and hairclips. And women can talk about head polish and head cream and head lotions and head perfume and head makeup. It’d be fun.

But that is just a theory. A figment of my imagination. I hate men with long hair. Men with long hair should be punishable by law. Men don’t look good with long hair unless they are sportspersons or rock stars. The average guy on the street who thinks he looks real cool with his slick ponytail or gelled shoulder length hair makes me want to go on a hunger strike. Not to mention it makes him look like the guy in a porn movie. And adds years to his face.  So if you want to look like an aging  B grade actor, go ahead, avoid that barbershop. And if I see you the streets I would pretend not to know you. It'd be fun.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Baby sometimes love just ain't enough

There's a reason why people don't stay where they are.
Baby, sometimes love just ain't enough.
There's a reason why people don't stay who they are.
Baby, sometimes love just ain't enough.

This song was immensely popular back in the early 90s, in fact I think it was '92, when I was in Class 9. There was no Internet from where you could immediately get the lyrics, and somebody would get the lyrics from somewhere and bring it to school and everybody else would copy it down. And of course we would copy the lyrics ourselves sometimes - play, pause, write down lyrics, rewind, play again, check the lyrics, go to next line and repeat the same process. There would be a few words/sentences which we couldn't get at all, and second, third and fourth opinions would be taken. I am one of those twisted people who couldn't ennjoy a song unless I knew all the lyrics, or at least most of it. I have compiled numerous songbooks, all of which are lost forever now. Even in this day and age I still copy down lyrics, I know I could get it instantly from the Internet but there is a certain pleasure, a certain thrill, a peculiar sense of winning in listening to a song and writing down the lyrics perfectly.
Coming back to this song "Sometimes Love Just Ain't Enough", a duet by Patty Smyth and Don Henley, I used to find the lyrics very strange, especially the few lines I mentioned up there. "There's a reason why people don't stay where they are" - is that a big deal? I used to think. They wanted to move, so they moved, end of story. I actually thought the song was talking about people physically moving, as in moving house. I never knew it was about moving on in a relationship. And I thought, why isn't love enough for people to live in one house, where's the connection here? Funny if you look at it that way.
"There's a reason why people don't stay who they are". I thought this was a spelling mistake. I'd ask myself if it wouldn't rather be "..people don't stay where they are?" It never dawned on me that it was about people changing with the passage of time, about people turning out to be someone completely different. And all these years I lived with that misconception.
I listened to this song again recently and didn't give it much thought. Until last night. I was travelling home and listening to it and suddenly it struck me. Why, it's about two people who love each other but cannot make their relationship work. Maybe they discovered that the other person is not who they thought he/she was, and maybe they just couldn't cope with the changes. Maybe they thought that being in love would make everything all right, somewhat like a magic pill that cures all your illnesses in one swallow. And maybe that once the scales fell from their eyes and they discovered the true person who they are with, they couldn't handle the situation and they ran.
Well, I guess love just ain't enough to make things work. You've got to have acceptance, forgiveness, understanding, and trust.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Doing it differently

If you know me personally or only remotely, if you are a friend or foe, or someone I admire or detest, I think you might have the vague idea that I am not at all fond of winter. And I haven't exactly been quiet about it. I have spent numerous winters complaining about the cold and what it does to me. Words of praise rarely flow from my lips when the subject turns to winter. As much as I like the crisp mornings and clear breeze I will always be the glass-is-half-empty kind of person when it comes to this cold unforgiving season.

October is almost over as I write this, and the weather is gradually going downhill. But this year I am doing things differently. I am not going to grumble and whine about the cold. I will not write about how much I hate the cold mornings. You will not hear me complain about how my skin has become dry and brittle, how my hair clings to the comb, how my lips are continually in need of a lip balm and how my purchase of moisturisers and cold creams and oils has dramatically increased. You can rest assured that I will not bore you with tales of wardrobe emergencies, about how I hate wearing warm clothes and swathing myself with layers of clothing. I don't find it necessary to shout to the world about the irony of having to take hot baths because of the cold and about your skin drying up afterwards. I'm sure you are not interested in hearing how the whole world comes alive with static electricity and touching anything remotely metal gives you a mild electric shock. And regarding cold nights, I will not even come close to the subject. Nobody wants to listen to the same old story of creeping into cold beds late at night and trying to keep warm all by yourself. And going home to Mizoram and spending a freezing winter there is something I don't even want to think about.

Don't you worry, my dears, I am not going to tell winter tales. If you really want to know my opinion of winter and its shenanigans, here is something I wrote last winter To Winter and one more the year before here

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Theory of Relativity

According to Wikipedia - “Six degrees of separation (also referred to as the "Human Web") refers to the idea that, if a person is one step away from each person they know and two steps away from each person who is known by one of the people they know, then everyone is at most six steps away from any other person on Earth.”

Think back to the times before the Internet and social networking, do you think this would have been possible? Would a mere six steps connect you and a person in say, Siberia or Cuba? I am a very skeptical person and if truth be told I don’t exactly believe this is possible.  Of course in this day and age we know a mere click of the mouse can connect us to anyone anywhere in the world, but again I’m talking about the pre-information-revolution days.

But the Mizo community is a whole different story. Or in that case any small community like ours. Everybody knows everybody else. And their relatives. And their family history. And their pet peeves and likes and dislikes. Forget about six degrees of separation, two degrees will do! Pick any two Mizos and the scales wilt tilt in the favour of their having known someone in common. And in some cases they would be related somehow or through by marriage. Take you for instance, dear reader, if you are a Mizo, how do you know you and I are not related, and if we really sit down to talk I bet we will discover that we know a whole lot of people in common.

A popular subject between two Mizo strangers when after the initial introductions are over is to talk about people they know in common.

Person 1: So where do you live in Aizawl? 
Person 2: College Veng. How about you?
Person 1: Tlangnuam.
Person 2: Do you know John? Tall, bald, lives near the church?
Person 1: Known him since childhood, in fact I was at school with his younger brother Jim.
Person 2: Jim? Did he go to St Paul’s?
Person 1: Yes, we were there from ‘91-‘93. Do you know him?
Person 2: I knew his girlfriend, Jane, you know her? From Kulikawn, went to Mount Carmel?
Person 1: Knew her very well. Jim and I used to see her after school. How did you know Jane?
Person 2: Her elder sister is my cousin’s wife.
etc etc etc….

Ours is such a small community that one has to be careful what one says and does, you never know how things may come back to you. And you have to be careful how you treat people, you never know how or when you might need their help in the future.  Many years ago I knew a guy, and after a while we went our separate ways. He dropped out of sight and out of mind. I went home this January, and one day as I was sorting through some old magazines I discovered a piece of paper addressed to my mother in which she was nominated to share the bride price of a distant relative. And no prizes for guessing who that girl was getting married to.  Talk about awkward situations.

And then there is this relative of mine who got married to a guy. Everything was well and fine, except for the small matter that she was at school with his younger sister and they weren’t exactly best buddies. The things you do for love. But that was many years ago, and things are now hunky dory between the two of them, the two girls I mean. Well at least things worked out well for them, but I’m sure this is not always the case with many other people.

So, the whole point is, be nice to others.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Genes and the Man

This morning I woke up and discovered I had turned into my ancestors. I noticed that my eyes were becoming more and more like my parents’, the way my lips formed a frown reminded me of my grandmother. I itched to cut my hair super short, like the way my mother and one of my aunts do. Something in the air sent me into a sneezing spell, I sneezed until I cried. Then I remembered that my father has the same allergy. To dust, or whatever it is that makes you sneeze.

Did you ever look in the mirror or at your photos and realize that you are turning into your parents? Or anyone from your family tree? Have you ever caught yourself acting the way your parents did? Did you ever hear yourself laughing like your crazy old uncle? Have you become nitpicky like your fussy old aunt?

Heredity is more complex than I thought.

Like it or not, we cannot escape from our genes. So your parents are not the most beautiful people, or your uncles/aunts are not the gentlest in the neighbourhood, or your grandfather was famous for his temper. And you thought you could turn into a beautiful gentle person. Hah! Easier said than done. We inherit not just our looks, but our temper, our moods, and the little things that make a person complete. The way you tilt your head. The way you walk when you are in a hurry. That booming laughter. That peculiar angle at which your elbow bends when you stand. That swinging walk.That inability to sing.

And it’s not only with looks and mannerisms. We also inherit the diseases and afflictions and ailments. Did you think that splotchy skin was because of your bad karma? Or did you blame your stressful lifestyle for that thinning hair? If you think those achy joints were because of the winter colds, you might want to rearrange your thoughts. We all have seen cases of whole families suffering from high blood pressure, diabetes, a particular cancer etc. My family leans towards the high BP thing, so I have to be careful and watch what I eat.

But, I am not just a harbinger of doom.  There is always a silver lining.  Those smooth skin, those lovely eyes, those long eyelashes, those beautiful shoulders, those perfect feet – they all are handed down to you by a long line of ancestors.  Your charm, your intellect, your perfect sense of humour, your musical gift, your athletic ability, your infectious laughter, your forgiving heart, your kind soul, all the things that make you perfect, you have your ancestors to thank for. And in due course of time you too will pass those features down to future generations.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009


Many years back I watched an episode of “The Amazing Race” in which the participants came to India, I think it was either Kerala or Tamil Nadu. The female part of the team was amazed to see so many colours, and she said something like “Red, yellow, red, yellow, everywhere it’s red and yellow.” The Indian streets are indeed full of red and yellow, right from the yellow autorickshaws to the bright red gulmohar trees, from the red sindoor to the yellow paste on the foreheads of priests and devotees.

You must all have heard about the different properties possessed by each colour, for example blue is for calm and tranquility, red for passion, green for harmony, white for purity and so on. If you ask me what my favourite colour is I would say “Depends.” Which is pretty much my answer to everything (Who’s your favourite author? Depends. What’s your favourite food? Depends.)

When I was a child I hated pink. And orange. The only colour I remembered liking was blue. In my fifth birthday photo I wore a blue skirt (I don’t know what the material was called but it was real soft and fell in folds). Unfortunately it was a black and white photo, but I still remember that skirt vividly, its exact shade of blue and the little red flowers sprayed on it. Green and yellow fought for second place, but most of the time green had the upper hand. Reds and pinks I had a few, I can’t recall having a single black (what mother makes her daughter wear black anyway?)

In my teens I favoured brown (ugh such a drab colour, now I avoid it completely). I started wearing pink and orange in my twenties (oh God my twenties! I sound positively middle aged), and purple, ahh such a magnificent colour, no wonder royalty was such a big fan. It is now one of my favourite colours, along with new entries like gold and sea-green. I am not much of a black person, but I admire its versatility and timelessness. You can never go wrong with black. On the other hand I love white - its purity, freshness and cleanness. And yellow for the sunshine it brings, for making you feel alive and happy.

Friday, September 25, 2009

The Bucket List

Yeah, the movie. Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman. About two terminally ill men who make a list of things they’ve always wanted to do before they “kick the bucket” – hence the name The Bucket List – and then they go and do all those things. It’s a sad movie, but I found it inspirational. It’s never too late to do the things you want to do, you are never too old, you will never know until you try, and all that jazz.

I remember my nineteenth birthday. My friends gave me a diary and a pen, and one of my first entries was about the birthday and how old I had become – I was nearly twenty - really juvenile, come to think of it- and I distinctly remember writing that I would love to do something great before I turned thirty. But eleven years go by in a flash, and here I am, no mountains conquered, no great novel written, no groundbreaking discoveries made, just a life lived worrying about the small things like where my next meal would come from, unimportant things like clothes and haircuts, complaining about the weather and the workplace and the traffic and holding petty grudges and not being appreciative enough.

I wish I could just chuck it all and go on an adventure. If only life wasn’t so full of duties and responsibilities and commitments. If only I was brave enough.

Monday, September 14, 2009

On the road

I love watching people. I am one of those people who could sit on the sidewalk all day and never get bored. I find it interesting to observe people from all walks of life, different in appearance, behaviour, walk, body language, the way they do the things they do,that little quirk of character that makes them unique, makes them different from everybody else. I don't know the English equivalent, but in Mizo it's called "hawkdak". I think you could call it "visually inquisitive". Which I am. If I am travelling and a crowd is gathered around an accident scene I would crane my neck as far out of the window as possible to get a glimpse of what is happening. If there is blood spilled then my upper torso leans out of the window. If there is a body lying on the road with a lot of blood around it I might even get down of the vehicle and take a look. If I happen to be walking by, oh boy I always stop and look. If I hear sounds of a noisy parade I always run to my balcony and stare down at the road searching for a scene which I've seen hundreds of times.

But being hawkdak has its advantages. You see more things. You hear more stuff. And Lord knows our Indian roads are full of interesting stuff. Take today for example. I saw this man perched on top of his bicycle, his stationary bicycle, coolly staring at the traffic zooming past him. Nothing wrong with that. But he was positioning himself in the middle of the road, resting one leg on the road divider, facing the traffic, probably waiting for it to thin down a bit so he could cross the road and would thus be saved the trouble of having to travel a few metres in the right direction and then taking an U-turn. And all the time he was digging for gold in his nose. Multitasking. Just after him I saw a man cross the road, it wasn't so much of a road-crossing as it was a dance/hop. I saw him from afar, carefully tucking his shirt inside his loose shorts as some kind of a pre-battle ritual, and then he jumped directly in front of the traffic and after a series of twisting and hopping he was safe on the other side of the road. And of course how can one not notice the innumerable cows/buffaloes that block the roads from time to time. And the family of five or more going out for a family outing - all travelling on one bike. And people driving any way they please without any regard for traffic rules and policemen not doing anything. Funeral processions, wedding parties, political rallies - masses of people blocking traffic and inconveniencing everyone.

I love looking at signboards, posters, billboards, ads. I see the same signs everyday, but still I look at them with fascination and wonder, as if I've just got down from a village bus and is now let loose in the city. I am one of those irritating people who read out signs that everyone else also sees. Or comment on movie posters. And store windows! How I love staring at store windows while travelling. I know it's only for a few seconds but I still stare at them. What sale is going on where, what clothes the mannequins are wearing, what theme is the window dressing, what seasonal/inaugural/anniversary offer they are having etcetera etcetera.

Travelling by train also gives you some pretty good sights; you have your usual paddy fields, little hamlets, mountains in the distance, people going for their daily constitutional, bridges, rivers, lakes, dried up lakes. I once was on a train during the monsoon and in one of the overflowing lakes I saw a dead cow floating. One of the most beautiful things I had ever seen from a train was a field of red chillies. Sure I'd seen flower fields from time to time, but this field, this vast flat field full of big bright red chillies, with a few heaps of harvested chillies here and there, that bright red spot in the middle of nowhere surrounded by green grass and trees, that view simply took my breath away.

This January I was returning to Hyderabad after spending a few weeks at home. It was dark when we approached the city, and as I looked out of my window I could see a few lights far below us. I suddenly felt very alone. I was travelling alone, the plane was quite empty, and seeing the dark sky this sense of homesickness and loneliness suddenly came over me. I felt like crying. A few minutes later I looked out of the window again and suddenly I saw this brightly lit city. I could clearly see the roads and the cars and the buses, and it felt like coming home. Although there was no one to meet me when I exited, I didn't feel alone anymore. I heard people speaking in the local language and saw the familiar buses and cabs and the familiar license plates and it didn't feel strange anymore. And then I waited for a cab and watched the crowd.