Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Famous last words

Blink and it’s gone. That’s how I would describe this year. Okay you can stop blinking now. Snap! It’s over. Three more days and we would be sending New Year greetings to friends and family and people we barely know. And by the time you finally come round to reading this, it may be many days into the new year already.

It seems the older we grow, the faster time flies. And if you spend one year doing the same thing every day and nothing exciting or extraordinary happens, everything blends into one day, and when you look back at the end of the year all you remember is going to work and coming home and doing the same household chores.

Did you ever wonder why we remember our childhood so vividly, while we struggle to remember what we did this time last year, or last month, or maybe yesterday? Why do we remember our first teacher’s name, our first schoolfriends, our first kiss, or the first day at our new job? There may have been dozens of other people or other days afterwards, but why do those firsts remain in our memories? The reason, I have deduced, my dear Watson, is that when we were young and our minds were open, everything was new and exciting and therefore it was burned into our memories.

As we settle down in life and our transformation into a worker ant is complete, there is no more excitement left in us, and so we readily embrace the yoke and go about it everyday because we have to keep our stomachs full. And that is why we look forward to going on holidays because we hope to experience new things and hopefully resurrect those dormant feelings of excitement and enjoyment and of generally having fun.

Well, I hope I didn’t get you feeling all blue and sad. It was not my intention to write all that stuff when I started writing this post, but you know how it is. You write something and that leads to something else and then some other thing and at the end you discover you have strayed very far from the path.

So, the new year will soon pounce on us, and everyone around us will me making resolutions and newspapers will be full of celebrities promising to do this and quit doing that. I have never been a supporter of resolutions because I am a terrible resolution-keeper. Why make a fool of myself, has always been my policy. Oh I know I am always too guarded and too careful and should be reckless once in a while and throw caution to the winds and make resolutions and shout from the rooftops, but you cannot expect me to change overnight, can you?

I hate people who don’t keep their words and promises, and I know that I will just heap guilt on myself if I announce my resolutions and break them (even if nobody knows or cares) and I am not exactly famous for sticking to resolutions.

While I am anti-resolutions, there are three things I would like to see myself doing more of in the new year. 

Read more: I have piles of unread books on my shelf. The half read books, the brand new books, all yellowing and gathering dust, waiting for me to give them a chance. Yet all I do is dust them once in a while and then forget their existence. A friend asked me how I liked the book she gave me on my birthday, and I replied with a vague “It was very interesting” when the truth is I didn’t even start reading it. I'm hoping to avoid these kinds of situations in the new year.

Write more: Last year (2009) I wrote 52 posts, one every week, and that was because I made an effort to do so. I have written 36 posts this year, including this one. I told myself I was uninspired, was too busy etcetera etcetera but at the end of the day they are nothing but excuses. It doesn’t take more than an hour to write one blog post, so I think I should be able to find that one hour out of the one hundred and sixty eight hours in a week. And the only way to improve your writing is to write more and also read more.

Read the Bible: Oh I know I should be ashamed for writing this, but I am very lazy when it comes to the Good Word. Again, same old excuse, “I don’t have the time.” If you really want to do something, my opinion is you will make time for it.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Another year over

My favourite time of the year is not Christmas, or my birthday, or the day I got my bonus. My favourite times of the year are winter afternoons and summer mornings. Growing up in a house situated on the western side of a mountain, we never get to see the winter sunshine until late morning or noon and we would try to catch as much sun as we could, sitting on the verandah or going up to the terrace. Then living in a hot city for more than a decade where the summer is brutal and everything burns, you learn to appreciate that little window of coolness the mornings offer. You toss and turn the whole night, sweating in your sleep, and in the morning you jump up and take a refreshing shower.. ahh that is one of life’s little pleasures.

The year is almost over, and I realised I haven’t written my customary I-hate-winter-because-it’s-cold post. Don’t worry darlings, I am not going to bore you this year.

Shoes! Tell me, which woman doesn’t love shoes? We of the XX-chromosomed are all Imelda Marcos-es in our own way. You know, if I was the wife of a corrupt country leader with millions to spend I might do the same thing. I don’t blame her at all for buying shoes, how she gets the money is another story which is not relevant right now.

I used to buy lots of shoes, wear them once and then keep them in the box until they go out of fashion or until I give them away. And everyday I would step out in my boring black flats. My mother would go tsk-tsk when everytime I go home I go out and buy shoes. This summer I bought a beautiful pair of high heels, and my mother said to my sis-in-law “If you wait a bit, she will give you this pair”, and her words came true because a few days back I sent the shoes to my sis-in-law. I didn’t wear them at all.

For Christmas this year I am reinventing an old pair of shoes. I bought them four years ago, and the last time I wore them was in September 2007. I loved the animal print design, but as it grew old it started peeling off. So I completely removed it, and painted it red with a fabric colour.



See the white patches on the right pair? That's because I painted it white first, then decided to go Christmassy and switched to red. Hopefully it will not show when I wear it on Christmas. Then maybe I will switch to black, or green, or whatever the colour of the moment is. Forgive me for not being glamorous.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Thisen Thisen

Chutia han damlo na em em pawh chu ka ni chuang lova, mahse kar khat vel chhung khawsik deuhreuh, hritlang bawk si hian ka awm reng a, nimin chu ka va inentir a. Doctor chuan min lo check a, viral fever a nih dawn hi a tia, damdawi min chawh kur ngei nguai a, "Malaria te a lo nih tak hlauhin" a tia thisen test tur in min tir a, test chi thum ngawt mai tih a ngai a.

Hmankum deuha ka damloh in ka hrawk hi a vung vak mai a (pharyngitis) a natzia chu na tak hi a ni ringawt, chil lem dawn pawh hian inngaihtuah fe a ngai. Khata tang khan ka khua a sik a ka inentir tawh hi chuan pharyngitis damdawi hi min lo chawh tel ngei ngei. Tuna ka doctor pawh chuan "I aw te a chhang em" a tia, "Tlem chuan chhang deuh a, mahse a zia tawh" ka tia, a hmet a hmet a, a lo vung aniang chu min chawh lehpek.

Tichuan thisen test na roomah chuan ka va thu ve ta ran a. A test tupa chuan test tube tereuhte te pahnih hi a la a, "Ehe lak tam i va tum ve" ka ti rilru a. Thisen test lohna hi a rei tawh lutuk a, enge a procedure pawh ka lo hre tawh lo a ni ber. Kan naupan lai te kha chuan kutzungtang hmawr kha an vit thi ser ser a, thisen kha glass slide ah an nuai pherh a, a ro hnu ah solution eng engah emaw an chiah hnuah microscope ah an en thin kha ania, kan hmu ve kur zel an tih vel lai pawh. Chutiang chu a lo ni awzawng tawh lo mai. Ka thil hriat ve dan kha a lo hlui lutuk tawh tlat, khawvel in min lo changkansan daih tawh.

Ka kiu chungah hian torniquet nghet tawkin a rawn suih phawt a. Eheu hei chu drugs timi inchiu tur te pawh ka va ang ve, tih rilru ah a rawn lang a. Ka kut chu sek taka hum turin min ti leh a, ka han inhum sek leh a. Chutah syringe te lem lo tak hi a rawn la a, a hmawrah chuan test tube pakhat chu a vuah a. A hip a hip chhuah na tur a nih vang pawh aniang a hriau kua chu a lian kher mai. Dawihzep deuh chu ni ila ka hlau khawp ang le.

Vein a duh ang a hmu thei lawk lo a, a hmet kual a hmet kual a. Kei intibengvar ta reng reng chuan ka vein hmuhtheih ho kha ka lo kawhhmuh vel, "A pan lutuk" a ti daih. A doctor loh thlak khawp mai. Mahse a hmu ta poh a, syringe a vih luh lai tak chuan a thip ve deuh. Thisen a hip chhuah khan na deuh vang vang turin ka lo ngai a, mahse engtinmah a awm lo. Test tube a thisen tling khawm chu hmuhnawm ti deuhin ka en reng ringawt. Hawkdak min ti ngawt ang. Test tube chu a chanve vel a khah hnu chuan a dang chuan a rawn thlak a, chu pawh chu a chanve vel thleng a la a. A lak zawh vek hnu, ka ban hrenna pawh a phelh hnu chuan test tube chu ka lek kual ka lek kual, "Hei hi ni maw ka thisen chu" ti hmel ka pu ngei ang.

Thisen hi vawikhatmah ka la pe ve ngai lo. Kan office ah hian kumtin Blood Donation Camp hi a awm ziah a, ka pe ve ang ka ti kumtin a mahse pe ngai lem hlei lo a. Taksa tan pawh hian a tha e, an ti.

Thisuk nei hi an khawngaihthlak, an duh reng vang a ni si lo a. Ka nau mipa hian a nei a. A nei tih pawh kan hre ngai lo, vawikhat kan naupangchhia lutuk tawh lo, a kut hi a zai a, a en vung vung a, a tlu ta rup mai a nih chu. Kan thenawm doctor a lo len lai tak kha a ni hlauh a, a bawihsawm nghal vat a. A rawn harhchhuak ve leh mai a, mahse tun thleng hian kan la sawi bang thei lo.

Ka ziak tui laklawh, ziak zel ang. Naupan lai chanchin rilru ah a rawn lang. Kohhran kan hlim deuh kha chuan naupang pawh kha a hlim ber ber, lam nasa ber ber kha kan lo ni ve thin a. Sikul chawlh lai a nih phei chuan thiante inah hian kan awmkhawm a, khuang vua in kan zaikhawm thin a. Mi lamruih dan te zirin kan lamrui der thul. "Thisen hlu thisen hlu, thing kraws chunga luang khan..." tih te kha kan sa nasa thei khawp mai. Vawikhat chu tuemawni hian "Isu I thu ka ngaihtuahin" tih kha a rawn thlang a, kan khuangpu (khatih lai khan kum sawm vel awrh a ni ang) khan hla a rawn la a "I thu I thu ka ngaihtuahin" a rawn ti chiah chu kan nui zo vek. Tunah chuan KTP ah pawh an tangkaipui ber a ni tawh. Hmanlai an chang zo ta... ti mai teh ang.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Brainy stuff

It’s precisely nine minutes past three in the morning, Saturday morning, but since I haven’t slept yet it is still counted as Friday night. Okay so here I am at three in the morning on a Friday night, tired after a long week at work, eyes about to pop off, backache reaching the point of no return, a small headache marching from the back of the head to the eyes and then back, but yet I stay awake. Because it’s Friday night, silly, and you are forgiven for staying up late because the next day is a holiday and you can sleep right through lunch and have your breakfast at four in the afternoon.

Am I the only one, or is there anyone out there who is also afflicted by this Friday night staying up marathon? And nothing important is done in these extra hours. Chat with some friends online, read a few blogs, read the morning newspaper, listen to some old songs, drink an extra cup or two of tea, stand in the balcony and watch the street below, etc.

Today on the way home from work I told a colleague I would forget about the office for the next two days. And that is exactly what I will do, and what I always do, not only on the weekends but during the weekdays too. Maybe I have compartmentalized my brain in such a way that it only processes the events that are happening at that particular moment. When I am at home I don’t even think of the office until I actually reach the place, swipe my access card and step inside the building. And I forget all about my pending bills and landlord visits and blocked drains until I climb the three floors to my apartment and open the door again.

I did a google search on compartmentalizing the brain and the results led me to the differences between male and female brain. I did some more searches and found a lot of scientific explanations and psychological stuff which I'm sure you wouldn’t want to read because I too didn’t read them since they contained big words and scientific terms and three in the morning is no time to wipe the dust off your fat dictionary.

But I found this, it is an easy read, so here goes-

• The male brain is highly specialized, using specific parts of one hemisphere or the other to accomplish specific tasks. The female brain is more diffused and utilizes significant portions of both hemispheres for a variety of tasks.
• Men are able to focus on narrow issues and block out unrelated information and distractions. Women naturally see everyday things from a broader, "big-picture" vantage point.
• Men can narrowly focus their brains on specific tasks or activities for long periods of time without tiring. Women are better equipped to divide their attention among multiple activities or tasks.
• Men are able to separate information, stimulus, emotions, relationships, etc. into separate compartments in their brains, while women tend to link everything together.
• Men see individual issues with parts of their brain, while women look at the holistic or multiple issues with their whole brain (both hemispheres).
• Men have as much as 20 times more testosterone in their systems than do women. This makes men typically more aggressive, dominant and more narrowly focused on the physical aspects of sex.
• In men, the dominant perceptual sense is vision, which is typically not the case with women. All of a woman's senses are, in some respects, more finely tuned than those of a man.
• Pornographers incorporate male/female differences into the design and marketing of their wares. Just because something might not appeal to a man doesn't mean that a woman won't be attracted to it and vice versa.

My further wanderings took me to the left brained – right brained subject. There are again loads of stuff on the subject, plenty of tests available online, a few links below. Let me know your results.





Right Brain Inventory
Left Brain Inventory
Visual, focusing on images, patterns
Verbal, focusing on words, symbols, numbers
Intuitive, led by feelings
Analytical, led by logic
Process ideas simultaneously
Process ideas sequentially, step by step
Mind photos' used to remember things, writing things down or illustrating them helps you remember
Words used to remember things, remember names rather than faces
Make lateral connections from information
Make logical deductions from information
See the whole first, then the details
Work up to the whole step by step, focusing on details, information organized
Organization ends to be lacking
Highly organized
Free association
Like making lists and planning
Like to know why you're doing something or why rules exist (reasons)
Likely to follow rules without questioning them
No sense of time
Good at keeping track of time
May have trouble with spelling and finding words to express yourself
Spelling and mathematical formula easily memorized
Enjoy touching and feeling actual objects (sensory input)
Enjoy observing
Trouble prioritizing, so often late, impulsive
Plan ahead
Unlikely to read instruction manual before trying
Likely read an instruction manual before trying
Listen to how something is being said
Listen to what is being said
Talk with your hands
Rarely use gestures when talking
Likely to think you're naturally creative, but need to apply yourself to develop your potential
Likely to believe you're not creative, need to be willing to try and take risks to develop your potential

By the way, I am left brained.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Untitled

Then there were the in-between friends. You know them, the friends I made in the time between our separation and eventual reunion. I was pretty sad then and you could see that in the friends I made. Carefree, wild ones, party animals who only cared about where the next party was. I wouldn't say I was like them. Sure I went to the parties, I did many stupid things, even hooked up with a few forgettable faces, but deep down inside I was always the same person. The same sad lonely person who missed you in a room full of people, the same lost soul who cried for you every night and never forgot you even during all those years. But I never had hope, I always thought you and I were a closed chapter, a forgotten time in the history of our short lives. I mourned for us, for our lost love, for what I thought could be a great thing. But all we did was fade away. Until the memory of your face becomes hazy, until I could no longer remember your voice, until I forgot how your hands felt on mine.

I was fine. I went on with my life, made peace with myself and tried to bring some order to the chaos I had created. I was happy, life was good, and there were days when I didn't think of you. I dropped my in-between friends, severed connections with all our common friends, threw away all your things and listened to our songs without crying. In fact, I sang along.

And one fine day, you came back into my life. You just walked in and said hello and talked about the weather and decided to be my friend. No apologies, no explanations. You returned with your beautiful smile and mesmerising eyes and suddenly all the memories that I had locked away came loose. For a moment I was unable to speak, I just stared at you, but you didn't notice that, did you? You looked at my playlist and laughed at some of the songs, added your own songs telling me they were beautiful and how had I lived this long without listening to them? You acted as if you see me everyday, as if the last three years never happened and it was yesterday since we last met. You borrowed my books without asking; you know very well I never lend my books to anyone. You knew you were the exception. You didn't have to say anything, and I knew better than to say anything. You left, and we both know you would be back.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

On Writing

Via Kuku's blog I found a site called Since She Left, and in one of the posts the blog owner answered a question from a reader as below:

What aspect of writing do you enjoy the most?

Do you want an honest to god answer? The attention writing something good brings. Because sitting still for hours isn’t fun. Looking out a window on a beautiful day isn’t fun. Typing for hours isn’t fun. Listening to boring music that’s stimulating yet not distracting isn’t fun. Fact checking isn’t fun. Only completion is fun. Of course the hard work is its own reward, but even sometimes the process of getting something that’s weighing on your soul out, and down isn’t enough. It’s always for the attention. Writing isn’t like other forms of art, like painting. You can take two seconds and look at a painting. But if you want to read 1,000 words on friendship and a night out drinking you have to really invest yourself to read that. It’s time consuming, you have to agree to give me your attention. 

Writers, or the ones I know are lonely people, myself included. It happens when you spend the majority of your time alone reading and typing. So when you complete something that you like and others like it it’s really nice to be the center of attention, even if it’s for a brief period of time. You sit up, take a breath, smile at yourself and put your head down and keep typing.

I guess that pretty much said it for me.I am a person who likes my privacy and spend most of my time with my nose buried in books, or typing some nonsense most of which never see the light of day. But when I decide to publish something, I must admit it's all for the attention. The attention you give me, to my writing, the time you spend here reading my posts, it's all about me stealing your time. Each and every one of us, no matter how much we dislike being in the public eye, we all enjoy being praised for our work. There is a certain satisfaction, a smugness which fills you up and blows you away. It's better than money or other material things. It stays with you forever.

Praise is the greatest motivator, the greatest inspiration. But in the same way, a single negative comment can completely wash away all the praise and commendation that was heaped on you. I think it's very important to know how to balance the good with the bad, how to receive the criticisms in a positive way and learn something out of it. But most of all, we should never stop writing, if not for others' at least for our own pleasure.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Pearls of Wisdom

One day, you and I are going to die. There’s simply no avoiding it. The last person who went to heaven alive was the prophet Elijah and it’s not likely to happen again. So you will die, and your family and friends will mourn you and say nice things about you which they never said when you were alive. Then they will move on, Maybe they will remember you all their lives, but you will still be one more person who passed through their lives. Your photos will become old fashioned, your belongings will be distributed or thrown away. The books and pictures that you valued so much, the clothes that you hoarded in case they come back in fashion, the music you treasured, the little knick-knacks you collected will become junk, a dead person’s belongings. And it’s not likely that you will become a world famous celebrity so there’s no chance of your stuff being auctioned off for millions. Your loved ones may cry seeing your things, but the tears will dry. Slowly, you will be forgotten.

And what legacy will you leave? What will you be remembered for? Will your footprints be easily blown away in the wind, or will you leave a mark that’s forever embedded in everyone’s memory? And if you have children, what pearls of wisdom will you pass on to them?

Anyway, why are pearls of wisdom called “Pearls of wisdom”? Why not Rubies of wisdom, or Diamonds of wisdom? I guess it’s because pearls are very difficult to collect and not everyone can do it.

I don’t know when death’s cold hands will reach out for me, so here are a few drops of wisdom, just in case, you know.
  • Don’t stand in doorways and chitchat with other people, you are blocking the way.
  • If you are going to the first floor, take the stairs.
  • Treat public toilets as your own.
  • Yes I know I am overweight, I have warts; I don’t need you to tell me.
  • People are not really interested in knowing your state or mind, or body; they are just polite. Don’t answer with a paragraph what you can say in a sentence.
  • Don’t ever lend books. You may be called selfish but at least you won’t lose any book.
  • Don’t smoke while people are eating.
  • Hate your job? Quit complaining, simply quit!! You are not a slave or serf, you will find some other job that you love.
  • Be nice to people. You never know when you may need their help.
  • Don’t call someone stupid or ignorant just because they don’t know something that you do. There will be something they know about which you are totally clueless, and where does that leave you?
  • Don’t make fun of old people. You too are going to be old someday.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

A trip to Nagarjuna Sagar Dam

Nagarjuna Sagar Dam is the world's largest masonry dam built across Krishna River in Nagarjuna Sagar,Nalgonda District of Andhra Pradesh, India. It is downstream to the Nagarjuna Sagar reservoir with a capacity of up to 11,472 million cubic metres which is the world's largest man-made lake.

Once in a while it’s fun to play tourist and go sightseeing. So there we were last Saturday, eight of us from work, starting out at the ungodly hour of nine in the morning. The dam is approx 160 kms from Hyderabad, about a three hour drive, but what with the stopping for breakfast, the photo sessions along the way, and the getting lost (only one person knew the way) we reached the place at around 2 PM, just in time to get on to the last launch.

Before reaching the launch station, we stopped at the bridge which was built across the river and is the main thoroughfare. The dam was amazing. They had opened only half of the 26 gates but it was still a breathtaking view. There you have this big structure, and water was flowing from the gates, crashing into the river below and you could see the white foam rising, forming a spray of white cloud at the base. And if you turned around you could see the river stretching as far as the eye could see, a beautiful sight. It was a humid cloudy day and I wished for blue skies so the river would look more beautiful.

 
We took the launch, which was a big old boat, and off we went cruising on the Krishna River. It was a slow ride and we went crazy taking photographs and videos. It was a very calm day, and since we were moving at a very slow speed you could barely see the ripples on the surface. There we were, in the middle of the river, and all around us was the sky and water and jungles. It was very quiet and peaceful and made you marvel at the wonder of creation. I remembered a poem about the poet wishing to go down to the sea, and I think I knew how he felt. Being surrounded by all that calm, with no worries and no cares in life and where time doesn’t matter, what more could a man want?

 
The launch took us to a small island called Nagarjunakonda where you could find a Buddhist museum. But we didn’t visit the museum because time ran out on us. After lunching on the island it was time for the last launch to leave and we hastily packed our stuff and went back to the mainland. The sun was setting as we sailed towards the launch station, but I was too tired I fell asleep and didn’t take the sun-setting-over-the-river photos.



It was almost dark by then, and we had one last stop to make. Ethipothala Waterfalls which is about 11 kms from the dam. By the time we reached the falls it was completely dark and so we just viewed the illuminated falls from the viewpoint above it.

(picked up this photo from the internet)

Then we finally headed for home, a long and exhausting drive after roaming about for the whole day and sleeping for just a few hours the previous night. It is Navratri, so we stopped at a temple on the way and our Hindu friends went inside for prayers. It was eleven when I reached home.

There are guest houses and motels near the dam, and my friends tell me the river is beautiful in the morning, and I'm sure watching the sun rise over the river would be a memorable experience.

Here is the poem about the poet wishing to go down to the sea –

Sea Fever – by John Masefield:

I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by,
And the wheel's kick and the wind's song and the white sail's shaking,
And a grey mist on the sea's face, and a gray dawn breaking.

I must go down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide
Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;
And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,
And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the sea-gulls crying.

I must go down to the seas again, to the vagrant gypsy life,
To the gull's way and the whale's way, where the wind's like a whetted knife;
And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover,
And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick's over.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

140 characters

My story is out at Nanoism. It's 140 characters including spaces (not 140 words like I said in the previous post), below is the screenshot. (I know I am going overboard here but hey it's my blog :D)


Sunday, September 26, 2010

By Your Side

Once upon a time I could not go to sleep without reading something. I would keep a book under my pillow and read a couple of pages before hitting the snooze button. Sometimes I’d finish a whole book that way, read only at bedtime.

Not so long ago the bedtime reading was replaced by diary writing. My diaries are always normal notebooks without any dates. I don’t like the restricted space offered by regular diaries, because my entries sometimes go on for pages while sometimes it could be just a sentence, and if I get bored in the middle of a sentence a doodle here and there.

Nowadays the trend is listening to music before sleeping. Not exactly lullabies, because lullabies are songs used to put children to sleep and I never fall asleep in the middle of a song. If it gets to the point where I lose track of the song then I switch it off and fly off to dreamland.

One of my current “lullabies” is Sade’s By Your Side. Actually this post is just an excuse to tell you how much I love this song.

Oh when you're cold
I'll be there
Hold you tight to me
Oh when you're low
I'll be there
By your side baby 





Bonus track: Lullaby by Dan Seals. Lovely, lovely song.



Sleep, lay me down, hold me closely in your arms
And I will close my eyes
Please, promise me that when I wake up from my dreams
You'll be there by my side
Love, if you say you won't slip away
Then I can go dreaming of forever more
But I won't rest until
I know that you will be here in the morning by my side
Here in my reach
I can see the one that I have waited for so long
And deep in my heart I'll know the arms that hold me now
Will hold me from now on
I dread the dawn I awake and find you gone
Please tell me you will stay.
Then sleep will come, I know my love has found a home
In your arms all my days.

Monday, September 20, 2010

One small step

I opened my inbox this morning and there was one mail which I know will cheer me up the rest of the day no matter how bad things go.

Have you ever heard of twitter fiction? Yes, stories that do not exceed 140 words. You might be thinking how you can possibly fit a story under 140 words, but believe me, it's possible.

Nanoism.net is a website for twitter fiction. People submit their stories and the guys who run the show publish the stories they like. And of course I too submitted a story, way back in June.

Nanoism is an online publication for twitter-fiction: stories of up to 140 characters. Shorter then traditional flash fiction, it’s both a challenge to write and quick as a blink to read. Call it nanofiction, microfiction, twiction, twisters, or tweetfic—it doesn’t matter: It’s the perfect art form for the bleeding edge of the internet revolution.

So dear friends, I received an email this morning saying my story is going to be published on October 1. Isn't that great? I know it's only 140 words and not a book deal or a movie deal, but still, somebody out there likes it and wants to publish it for the whole world to see.

I know I should have waited until October 1 before writing this post but I am overexcited and I know I cannot sit still for eleven more days without sharing this with you.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

lamentation

and here we are
two lost souls
unable to comfort one another
holding close, yet unconnected
trying to love, but the past keeps us apart
who said love conquers all?
we can forgive, but can we ever forget?

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Fashionably yours

Not me, that’s for sure. Not that I'm a fashion disaster or a walking catastrophe, I just don’t go crazy with clothes, is all. Nothing wrong with being fashionable, in fact I would encourage it. If you can afford it and are comfortable in it, I don’t care if you wear a beehive, or papier-mâché, or antlers à la Lady Gaga. But the point, ladies and gentlemen, is you should afford it.

Yesterday I went hunting for a pair of shoes for my niece. Found the thing, and since it was still a bit early decided to look for something for myself. Visited a couple of shops, even picked a few items, but being a Saturday there were zillions of people and at the trial room there were at least ten people in front of me. And you know how it is with the fairer sex and trial rooms. A female walks in with an armful of clothes, and everything she tries on has to be inspected and approved by her friend/sister/mother who is waiting outside. And poor you who is waiting for her to finish is so tired of it all that you want to shout “Nothing looks good on you and why in heaven’s name would anyone ever manufacture that atrocious thing in the first place?” and you dump all the stuff you have chosen in the basket they put outside trial rooms, much to the delight of the person behind you who is happy to move forward to try on her hideous selection.

So I ended up buying one scarf for myself because I could try it on right there at the display without anyone raising any disapproving eyebrow. And went to Crossword and there was a sale going on, so bought the latest Dan Brown and two other books and an illustrated Sherlock Holmes for my brother’s kids.

The strange thing with me is, everyday when I look as my dismal wardrobe I would say “I have nothing to wear, must go shopping and buy something nice.” I would then go to the store, look at all the beautiful things that fall within my price range, try them on and my thoughts would run like “Do I need this? I still have that black & white top I have worn only a few times” and again would leave the store empty handed. I see people wearing beautiful things and when I go to the store to buy the same thing somehow it never works out right for me. Maybe the good Lord didn’t intend for me to be the next Jackie O.

Every year when I go home to Aizawl and see the beautifully dressed citizens my dormant fashion sense would wake up and what follows is a mad shopping spree - from the expensive stuff at Millenium Centre to the second hand stuff at Electric Bus Stand. If it is winter I have to buy some warm clothes and wear them once or twice, and that would be the end of it. It would see daylight again only after a year, and by then it would be outdated. This summer I went home and everyone was wearing skirts so I too bought two of them, and I am yet to wear them even as I write this. I want to wear them, I do, I want to look and feel feminine and dainty, but I guess that’s just not me.

The other day as a part of the Independence Day celebrations at work the women were all required to dress up in saris and the men in dhotis, and I dutifully participated, with a lot of help from my friends. Everyone oohed and aahed and it felt nice wearing something different. But it wasn’t long before a friend said “Walk a bit more graceful, why are you stomping as if you are wearing jeans?” Well I guess some of us are just not meant to be fashionistas.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Tutorial - How to wear a scarf on your head

If, like me, you live in the plains, then you would have seen young girls travelling in bikes, in autos, or walking, with their heads completely covered up with scarves. I always wondered how they did it, because I've tried it and always had to readjust the scarf every two seconds because it keeps slipping off my head. A couple of weeks ago a girl friend showed me how to tie it properly and it was very easy, and very simple. Allow me to demonstrate:

Step 1: Take a longish scarf, and place it on your head.

Step 2: Pull it tight over the forehead, and tuck it in behind the ears.

Step 3: Take one end of the scarf, and fold it back so that it covers your face from below the eyes.

Step 4: Tie both ends together at the back of your head.

Now this is how you will look.


Step 5: The other end of the scarf can be used to cover your shoulders, or can be wrapped around the neck.

And voila!! Now you can travel in bikes and autos without having your hair blown in ten different directions. But most importantly it protects you from the sun. You can thank me after you've tried it. Oh, and the anonymity it gives you is surprisingly exhilarating (if that's the word I want).

Monday, August 9, 2010

Gleefull

OMG it’s past four in the morning! I watched eleven episodes of Glee and although I am in no way done (eleven more to go) I gotta sleep now because tomorrow I have to set out and earn my livelihood.

At first I dismissed it as some teenybop thing, a lengthier version of High School Musical (which I haven’t yet seen but Zac Efron is cute). Today I was watching some videos in Youtube and somehow came across the Glee songs, gave them a trial listen, liked it and so I ended up watching eleven straight episodes, taking only a dinner break.

Plotwise, nothing new. American high school kids, football (the American version), cheerleading, teen pregnancy, a school singing group hoping to win some competitions. But what makes it different is the singing. And the songs are familiar. Can’t Fight This Feeling – REO Speedwagon, Single Ladies – Beyonce, Keep Holding On – Avril Lavigne, I’ll Stand By You - The Pretenders, Somebody To Love – Queen, and much much more. It’s a treat for the ears.

Thus, for your listening pleasure here is the cast of Glee singing “Alone” by Heart. Enjoy.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Who do you write like?

So, who do you write like, you wannabe novelist? Whose writing do you particularly admire, you closet writer? How many times have you read books and said if this can get published then surely I too can get published? You’ve lost count, haven’t you, you secret book critic?


Look what I found - a program that reads your work and compares it to the work of famous writers. Found it here: http://www.dailywritingtips.com/do-you-write-like-stephen-king/
Created by 27-year-old Russian blogger and software developer Dmitry Chestnykh, the site operates with an algorithm similar to a spam detector. The current version is based on the English texts of 50 authors including Agatha Christie, Dan Brown, and H.P. Lovecraft. You paste an extract from your blog or current fiction project into a text box and hit Submit. An instant response gives you the name of an author whose style your submission resembles.”


I know it’s a computer program and in no way could be trusted. I fed it different paragraphs from different blog posts and apparently I write like Charles Dickens, James Joyce and Margaret Mitchell. Ha! I haven’t read any Dickens, I mean a proper one, the only ones I read being illustrated and children’s versions and of course I watched the movies. I know James Joyce and his Ulysses but never even went near it, and other than Gone With The Wind how many Margaret Mitchell books do we know?


Anyway, this is purely for fun, and a little bit of ego feeding.


And, I took the liberty of checking out whose style you resemble. Yeah I actually went to your blogs and selected texts and fed it to the program and look what results it gave me (I know I know I have nothing else to do).


mesjay - Arthur Conan Doyle
illusionaire – Cory Doctorow
diary – Kurt Vonnegut
Calliopia – David Foster Wallace
blackestred – Stephen King
Mosa – George Orwell
kuku - Vladimir Nabokov
Jerusha – Dan Brown
Mimi – James Joyce
OpaHmar –Robert Louis Stevenson


In case you’re not happy with the results, here’s the link, go do it yourself. http://iwl.me/b/8ccf5154

Sunday, July 18, 2010

You're It

Nowadays it seems everyone is picking a random topic, writing something about it and tagging their blogger friends. I don’t want to be left behind so here I am doing it. But after much racking of the brains and beng-sik-ing I cannot come up with a brilliant and/or entertaining topic. It is always like this. When you want to write something and are all ready to make history with your genius, nothing would come to mind. The brain refuses to cooperate. Then you forget all about it, and later when you are in the middle of work, or when you are in bed and are just about to fall asleep you would suddenly think of something great which you’re sure everyone would like. You promise yourself you would write about it as soon as you are free/awake, but the moment of inspiration is gone and it never comes back.

Okay enough with the intro. Let's talk about something which has been discussed a zillion times on this planet by almost every living person. The kind of girl or guy that you would go for (doesn’t matter if you're married, engaged, or committed, put them down anyway). Here I go:
  1. I would choose geeky brainy guys over muscled macho types any day. Peter Parker over Spiderman, Clark Kent over Superman, you get the idea.
  2. Beautiful eyes. I don’t know if they are windows to the soul, but beautiful eyes are so irresistible. Long eyelashes, eyes that sparkle when he laughs… ahhh…mesmerising…
  3. Handy with tools, like fixing little things around the house. I am quite the handyman myself and I couldn’t stand the guy who doesn’t know his tools.
  4. Not the “I am a guy and you are a girl so I'm superior” type, okay maybe I'm being a bit feministic here but I simply don’t like being labelled second best without any concrete evidence in hand.
  5. Optimistic. It can get pretty depressing when all he does it bitch about his life, his boss, his ex-girlfriend. I am not your shrink and will lose interest fast if all you do is complain.
  6. I love animals, so it’s a big plus if he doesn’t see dogs as food or picks up a stone on seeing a cat.
  7. Honest.
  8. Ambitious. Wants to be the best in whatever he does.
  9. Not needy or clingy but not controlling either. Lets me have my independence.
  10. Beautiful hands and feet. I know this is something beyond your control but it would be nice to touch them.
So there you have my list (for now). Shall we hear yours? It’s your turn to blog about it.
diary

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Tumblin' in

Today is one of those lazy Saturdays when you have loads of work but are simply not in the mood so you waste the entire afternoon sitting in front of the computer doing nothing useful. I signed up at tumblr, yet another blogging site. Found an article about it that explains everything.


Tumblr is a blogging platform that makes it easier to post video, audio, words, social bookmarks, photos, and even other people's blog posts into your blog, and share it with other people. Instead of having to upload things to YouTube, Delicious or Flickr, or create your own WordPress database before posting things, you can put your media directly into Tumblr from your computer or mobile phone. It's blogging, the way blogging was meant to be.

There's a "like" button, which lets other users express their approbation, and the ability to follow and be followed by other users; there's also a "reblog" feature that lets you embed other people's posts in your blog, as a way of pointing people to stuff you like. That's the makings of true Internet virality--in other words, it encourages you to encourage others to add content.


So I went, signed up, and after getting lost for a while put up a post. Please go and check it out.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Changes

days of
colourful slippers
rainbow nails
midnight escapades
weekend getaways
bandanas and frilly summer dresses
holiday flings
rebellion and disobedience
are now replaced with
paying rent and bills
being responsible and in charge
trying to be a good example
saving when I could be spending
weekends at home
being a grown up and accepting mistakes
and learning from them
and trying to be a better person

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Amazing power of the brain

Let this be a follow-up to my previous post, Earworms. In my previous post I talked about songs being stuck in the head, random songs that come out of nowhere and play endlessly in your head. I thought a lot about this, and came to the grand conclusion that it’s all thanks to the brain and its amazing power of retention.

I am no expert on the human brain, have never dissected it or studied it, have never even read articles about it except for the snippets seen here and there in newspapers and magazines. The only thing I know is there is the cerebrum, the cerebellum and the medulla oblongata. Stuff I learned fifteen years ago in school. The brain retained that particular piece of information, don’t know why. The brain is a very picky organ, is all I can say, remembering some things and blocking out others.

You all must have childhood memories you remember vividly, while at the same time forgetting something your friend said a minute ago. I still remember the old school building in our locality, with its low windows and wall-less classrooms all merged into one. I remember the day when we played in an old well and one of our friends got a nasty cut on her leg and the bleeding wouldn’t stop. If you ask me the Bible verses I learned in Sunday School twenty years ago, I would still be able to recite most of them. But again I can’t remember simple things like where I left my spectacles before I went for my bath, the name of the real estate broker I hired, forget to call friends who are mad at me for not staying in touch. Can it be that the things we learned when we were young remain longer in our brain? This is true, I guess. As we age the brain also ages and loses much of its retaining power. There was an instance just a couple of weeks ago. A friend asked me to pass a message to another friend, and when I saw the other friend (the intended recipient) I completely forgot what the message was. I still couldn’t remember it even today.

What about senile old people we see now and then in Mizoram? Do you think those are cases of Alzheimer’s or some other ailment with a fancy name? In Mizo we call these people Tar â, literally translated as old people who had lost their minds. You see them all the time. They don’t recognise people, and the only things they remember are events that happened fifty years ago. They mistake you for their siblings, their childhood friends, and sometimes their spouse. I guess there must be scientific explanations for this.

The thing I cannot figure out is why the brain remembers some things more clearly than others. You could be working, or reading a book, or watching a movie, or just lazing around when you suddenly remembered something that happened to you. There need not be something that triggered this, it just came to you all of a sudden. All of sudden, something someone said came back to you, and you don’t know why. You thought you had forgotten that conversation but it came out of nowhere and hit you in the face.

And what about dreams? Do you ever see the same people over and over again in your dreams? I do. I see my uncle and his son, both of them long gone, in my dreams all the time. Sometimes they are alive, and sometimes I’d be aware that they are dead and would wonder “why am I seeing them when they are dead?” all in the dream, of course. Maybe I missed them much more than I am aware of. Sometimes in my dreams I’d be seeing something and would say (still in the dream) “hey haven’t I dreamt of this before?” Weird. And dreaming in dreams. There was one childhood superstition that went “if you dream three times in your dream then that means you are dead.” Lol. And nobody has ever proved that, kind of like the horned cat which lives in some mountain, seeing which meant certain death but nobody has seen it yet.

Oh, and the best thing. Déjà vu. I am at a loss for words. How in the world can you explain the feeling that this particular moment had happened to you before? The same people saying the same things and behaving in the same manner in the same settings. I know it’s entirely impossible but we all have felt it. Isn’t the human brain simply amazing?

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Earworms

To begin with, let me quote from Wikipedia:
Earworm, a loan translation of the German Ohrwurm is a portion of a song or other music that repeats compulsively within one's mind, put colloquially as "music being stuck in one's head."

Urban Dictionary says: A song that sticks in your mind, and will not leave no matter how much you try. The best way to get rid of an earworm is to replace it with another. Be prepared to become a jukebox.

Assuming you read the above two paragraphs, which look boring at a glance but once you read it would make you say "Hey this happens to me all the time, you know what, just the other day I couldn't get a Justin Bieber song out of my head", I don't think I need to give a lengthy scientific explanation of what an earworm is. But, let me get back to boring once more. Wikipedia also says - Earworm may also refer to the Helicoverpa zea (corn earworm) or the musician DJ Earworm. Not to be confused with the creature depicted in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.

I am least interested in worms that live in the ear, or a certain DJ, and I have never liked Star Trek. Star Wars I like, but sorry, not Star Trek. So since there is nothing else to do, let’s talk about earworms and songs that play inside one’s head.

Actually, I have no idea how to start. Conversations are not my thing. I could say “Studies have shown that there are certain songs which for some unknown reason tend to get themselves embedded in the frontal area of the brain which controls blah blah blah…” and I could look up and see my audience staring into space with a faraway look embedded on his face. If I say “Have you ever experienced that thing, you know, when you sing the same song over and over again in your head and sometimes you change songs without knowing it?” my listener would probably say a curt “Yes” and I’d be left with nothing to say except “Me too!!”

And sometimes you sing under your breath. This one is really weird. You are doing something, and at some point you suddenly realise that you have been singing for a while now, and you have no idea how you came to sing that particular song. It could be any song; it could be a song you listened to just an hour ago, a song you sang in church when you were a kid, or a song that your roommate plays all the time. You don’t even have to like the song. You have heard it so many times it has pitched a tent in your brain and set up camp there. Permanently. And once you look up from what you are doing and realise that you are singing, you immediately become self conscious. Hey why am I singing this song? Don’t I always wince and make a face whenever my roommate plays it? Then you stop singing, or change tracks. Kind of like the cartoon character who walks off a cliff but doesn’t know he’s walking on air until he looks down and sees nothing but air below him, and immediately crashes to the ground.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Love and War

The first Anne Tyler book I read was The Amateur Marriage, and I must admit I bought the book because the cover was pretty. There is this girl in a bright red overcoat kissing a soldier who was leaning out of a train window. A goodbye scene. Love in the time of war. How romantic! There is something urgent, something undescribably romantic, something real and true about war romances.

When I was a young girl I read "Battle Cry" by Leon Uris, in Mizo no less, and my heart went out to the young couple who were torn apart by the Second World War. Recently I listened to the song "Travelin' Soldier" again, and once again it left me feeling blue and sad. The lonely young soldier who had no one to write a letter to,the young waitress who waited for him and quietly cried when she heard of his death.

I know there is nothing glamorous and romantic about war in real life. All that pain, destruction, suffering, wastage, is something we could all do without. Blame Hollywood and authors for romanticizing it. But still, I love war movies, not that I've watched many, but I'm quite happy with the ones I've watched. And don't ask me which one is my favourite, because my answer would be "All of them." The Last Samurai ranks pretty high on the list, Saving Private Ryan, Enemy at The Gates, Lord of The Rings, Letters From Iwo Jima, The Longest Day, Braveheart, The Deer Hunter, Apocalypse Now, The Patriot etc are all very good. The best ones are the ones with a hint of romance in them. The English Patient, Pearl Harbour,Casablanca, Gone With The Wind (although there wasn't a single battle scene in the movie - as per Google search - it still ranks as one of the best war movies. Haven't seen the movie, but read the book ages ago).

I haven't seen the old ones like All Quiet on the Western Front, The Bridge On the River Kwai, From Here to Eternity, The Great Escape, Where Eagles Dare, etc, but will try to see them in the future. Haven't seen The Hurt Locker either. This post is turning out to be a list of the war movies I am yet to set my eyes on.

And the songs! I wish I could go on and on about the love songs about a soldier going off to war while his girl pined for him, but as I write this not a song comes to mind. The only song that surfaces is Green Day's 21 Guns, and I don't know if it classifies as a war song, it's more about the war within, methinks. How about you share the songs and I listen to them?

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Mishmash

Friday night - went to bed with the most terrible headache ever known to man. You know the kind, it starts from your eyes, slowly moves up to your forehead before winding its way to the back of your head, right at the spot where your neck meets the skull, can you feel that little groove there? yes, right there. That’s the spot that hurts the most. You have this throbbing pain that feels like someone had planted a bomb in there and it is going off repeatedly, sending painwaves all over your head, the deadly tentacles reaching to every cell in your body. You can feel a stinging pain in your eyes, not just your ordinary eyeball-hurting kind of pain, but actual physical pain that feels like someone had pinched the inside of your eyelids. You feel dizzy and weak, like you are going to throw up any minute but you don’t have the strength to get up and walk to the bathroom. I thought I was having a migraine attack. I’ve been plagued with headache all my life, but all the doctors I've consulted always assured me it wasn’t migraine. Take rest, pop a few pills and you’ll be okay.

Saturday morning – woke up hoping to feel refreshed and clearheaded but to my dismay found that traces of headache still lingered. Got up, took the newspaper inside and went back to sleep until noon. Got up again, but was too lazy to do anything, ate lunch, and decided to read in bed. I know reading is not the best solution, but there was nothing else to do. Opened the latest Chetan Bhagat but before I could read a sentence closed my eyes and found myself drifting off…. Ouch!! That could only be an ant stinging my leg. I reached down and found the offender and crushed him. Is that something crawling on my stomach? Another ant, no doubt. Groped a bit, caught the scoundrel before he could make his escape and sent him packing to ant hell. Or heaven. I don’t know if he was a good ant or bad ant in his lifetime, so he could go either way. Another miscreant stung me on the arm, and I found myself committing another murder. Sleeping was out of the question now.

Got up, removed the bed sheets, and started The Hunt. The best way to go about hunting is clean your room inside out, crawl on your knees and inspect all the corners, making sure all squatters are evicted. And when you are finished the room smells of insect spray, a far cry from your regular room fresheners, but you are alone in the room again and that was the goal, wasn’t it?

Speaking of ants, have you noticed that they are most active in the summer? Makes me think of the story of the ant and the grasshopper. You know, the ant working in the summer while the grasshopper sings away and in the end the ant was the guy with all the food while the poor grasshopper could only watch with envy and a hungry stomach. No, I think he died. Make hay while the sun shines and all that rot. But if it was today’s world the grasshopper would be the richer guy (and with a fuller stomach) because we all know how much money a good voice could bring. If you are still unmarried I would strongly recommend you find someone who could sing, thus ensuring children with beautiful voices and their future taken care of, purely because of their heritage. But if they end up with your voice you could only pray that they are smart and good in studies. But still, there’s a 50% chance of them being born with a good singing voice. Life (and marriage) is all about taking chances.

And when is this temperature planning to go down? Of all the hot summers I've lived through, this year seems to be the worst. Met officials say monsoon will hit Kerala on May 3l, that’s tomorrow, but I'm not living in a fishing boat in the backwaters of God’s Own Country, am I? So it’s probably another two weeks before the much awaited rains, showers of blessings, so to speak. Then maybe I could write about happier stuff.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Estha

Estha occupied very little space in the world.

Estha had always been a quiet child, so no one could pinpoint with any degree of accuracy when (the year, if not the month or day) he had stopped talking. Stopped talking altogether, that is. The fact is that there wasn’t an ‘exactly when’. It had been a gradual winding down and closing shop. A barely noticeable quietening. As though he had simply run out of conversation and had nothing left to say.
- The God of Small Things.

Sometimes I’d wish that I could be like Estha. Stop talking altogether. Wouldn’t it be rather nice, in a weird way? If you don’t speak and hence do not reply to people’s irritating questions, people will gradually stop talking to you and you could live in your own world but at the same time not unaware of things going on around you. You are not deaf and can still understand what people say, and there is absolutely no expectation or obligation to contribute your two cents worth on anything, anything at all. (Anything a-tall). The world is too full of people blabbing endlessly about things you don’t want to hear, things you are least interested in, things you don’t care about. Like the new flat screen TV they bought, the boyfriend’s name of a friend of a friend, your cousin’s sister-in-law’s niece who has her own flat blah blah blah….

I think I am deceitful. If we go by the theory “Birds of a feather flock together” then I ought to be outgoing, talkative, friendly and annoyingly cheerful. But I am not, while I seem to collect friends who possess the aforementioned qualities. While I might exhibit those qualities some of the time, there are times when I have been called boring. To my face, yes. And I have been asked why I keep quiet all the time, why I am so unfriendly and unapproachable. Maybe I don’t like you, maybe I have nothing to contribute to the subject being discussed, or maybe I always find myself short of words. Maybe I don’t feel like talking, maybe I am preoccupied with something more important than what you are saying. Maybe I have run out of conversation and have nothing left to say.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Russian Roulette

A crazy game invented by a bunch of crazy people looking for fun and adventure. Supposedly invented by Russian prison guards who were probably bored out of their skulls and decided to place bets on who among the prisoners would be the lucky winner to get the bullet in the head. Notice that the guards didn’t play the game themselves. How cruel is that? And the game came to be played by fools who saw it as some kind of bravery test. How stupid can one get? If you want to die, kill yourself in some other way where there are no chances of failure. I wonder what the player must be thinking as he put the gun to his head. Lord please don’t let the gun go off, but I have to do this because I don’t want to look like a weak person. Remember The Deer Hunter, where the players were drugged out of their senses and made to play the game? Very sad movie. I hoped that Christopher Walken’s character would not die in the end, I wanted him to get up and walk out, but he played and lost. Very disturbing scene.

Why do people commit suicide? Did they completely lose faith in themselves, in others and in the world? Did they just get tired of living? Some people kill themselves because they wanted to hurt their loved ones, the people closest to them. And I guess some did it to escape the shame and disgrace, to save face. Whatever be the reason, suicide doesn’t solve anything. You take your own life and in doing so booked yourself on the direct train to hell and eternal damnation; you hurt your loved ones and make them ask “What did we do wrong?” There is nothing glamorous in it. And I think it is a cowardly act. Things go wrong, you become sad and depressed, you think life is not worth living and that nobody cares about you. It happens to everyone, we all go through times like that. But look at the bright side, there is no place to go but up. Things can only get better. If you think that nothing will ever become right again, you cannot be more wrong. Give yourself time, be patient, and sooner or later the sun will shine on you again.

Friday, May 14, 2010

This and that

I love playlists. You could add only the songs you want to listen to, arrange them in the order you want, remove a song from the list if you get bored of it, create a new list any time you want, and permanently delete a list. If only life was like a playlist!

I am not the type to rant and rave but I do have my share of things that irk me no end. One of them is newspapers not folded properly. Finicky, you say. Maybe I am. I hate it when I try to read a newspaper and find that it is messily folded, and that too somewhere in the middle page. How much time does it take to return to the first page and then fold it? And another thing I don’t like in newspapers is the single sports page they inserted at the very last page. If you are like me and read a newspaper back to front, you open the back page and immediately this loose sheet falls out, every time!!! Not good, not good at all. Causes hairfall and scratched scalps, and induces hatred for sports.

Another thing that really tests my patience is those cellotape things bread people use for tying up a pack of bread. You know what I mean, twist the polythene cover into a spiral, run the cellotape around it a couple of times, and paste a small piece of paper on the ends so the tape doesn’t stick to everything around it. A grand idea, but not so grand when it comes to the opening part. Yes, I've heard of scissors, but what I want to do is tear off the tiny itsy bitsy piece of paper, and then unravel the tape. Not as easy as it sounds. And definitely not fun.

Traffic police. One job I hope I never apply for, no matter how tough times get and even if I fall into the lowest pit of desperation. Why is that so? Firstly I don’t think the neon jackets would look good on me. Secondly I cannot stand for long hours. Thirdly I don’t like being in the public eye. Fourthly I don’t think I could remember whose turn it is to go and may add mayhem to the existing one, which is the best way I could describe our Indian traffic. But don’t get me wrong. I respect the police and I admire traffic policemen. They are very important and one can only imagine the chaos that would ensue on the roads if all the traffic policemen quit. Half of the traffic signals don’t work and you know how Indian drivers are. Give me a half inch of space and I would move forward. Other drivers coming from the other three directions? No worries, if I am the first to occupy that half inch I would be the first to leave this chaotic scene. Only problem is, the other three drivers think the same way. The rest I leave to your imagination.

There is something else I want to write, but I cannot remember what it is. Oh well you can’t win them all.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Fun at 40+

The first thing you notice is the dryness. Your skin and hair dry up, unreachable spots start itching, and the degree of itchiness is directly proportional to the number of people in your vicinity. Your skin burns all the time, but you feel cold inside. No matter how many glasses of liquid you pour down your throat, your thirst is never quenched. People annoy you, and it always seems like you are surrounded by people who wouldn’t keep their mouths shut when all you want is some peace and quiet. The atmosphere buzzes with activity, the traffic sounds seem to be much louder than before, and the cry of the vendors much more irritating. All of a sudden it seems like the world is doing its best to make you cry out in frustration and make you want to shave your head and run around naked, but you remind yourself that you are still a normal sensible adult, and you hang on to every tiny shred of sanity you could find. You tell people how you feel, but nobody seems to be listening - they have their own worries and problems. You wanted to give it all up, but deep down inside you know you must fight this to the end and will emerge victorious. So, day after sweltering day, you turn on the ceiling fan, the air cooler, the air conditioner, drink gallons of water and immerse yourself in buckets of bath water, waiting for the day when you will be able to say “It’s raining!”

Life sure is fun at 40+ degrees.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

The Other Woman - Saihmingi Speaks

The wife is always the last to know. And I was no exception. I was too confident, too secure in my marriage that I didn’t see that like any other marriage ours could also fail, and I didn’t know we had to work on it to keep it alive and keep it growing. I just assumed that after marriage people lived happily ever after; maybe I was influenced by all the love stories I read growing up where the hero and heroine overcame all the obstacles in their way and got married. We never knew what happened afterwards, and we didn’t care because the lovers were united and all was right with the world.

When I first heard that my husband was having an affair with one of his colleagues I didn’t believe it. This was Zamtea we were talking about, my best friend of more than twenty-five years, the person I knew better than anyone else. It was my sister who first told me about the affair, and we had a big argument because of it. She was very sure of it, she had heard about it from one of the students who lived in her neighbourhood, and I got mad at her for not believing in my marriage and listening to silly rumours. I even demanded to know the identity of the student who was spreading lies about my husband. “Zamtea had many female colleagues and cannot be blamed for having friends,” were my exact words.

Then I heard it from my neighbour, a busybody who poked her nose into everyone’s affair. I never believed anything she said, but when she spoke about my husband and his sudden interest in teaching and going to college the seed of doubt was planted in my mind. It was common knowledge that Zamtea wanted to quit teaching and become a professional photographer. But we had two small children, I didn’t work, money was tight, and giving up a good job was a risk we didn’t dare take.

One day my sister came visiting. It had been a month since our last discussion, and she came to my house to “shake some sense in to me.” I didn’t need any shaking. I had observed Zamtea for the past few weeks and noticed that he always came home late, took his phone wherever he went, was extra conscious about his appearance, and never talked about college anymore. We hadn’t made love in weeks; he would stay up late and I never knew when he’d come to bed. My two daughters kept me very busy, and most nights I was asleep by nine o’clock. My sister came prepared to fight, and was surprised by my easy surrender. She told me everything she knew; the girlfriend’s name was Mahriati, the affair had been going on for about five months now, and the whole college knew. She said they tried to hide it but there are some things you cannot hide.

I had my doubts, but turning those doubts into belief and then accepting them was harder than I imagined. The first emotion I felt was anger. How could he fall in love with another person? Was I not good enough for him? Did I not love him and was I not a good mother to his children? How could he do this do me? How dare he do this to me!

If my sister had not been with me that day I'm sure I would have packed my things and went off to my father’s house. I even tried to burn his clothes but my sister stopped me, physically held me down, and told me to act like an adult. I was not easy to calm down. Was I not Saihmingliani Sailo, descendant of a famous chief? My ancestors were known for their greatness and bravery, and was I just going to sit there and let a man cheat on me and make me look like a fool? How people would have laughed behind my back! How could I ever show my face in public again? Everywhere I go pity whispers would follow me. Now I would be forever known as the wife who drove her husband into some other woman’s arms.

The sight of my two daughters with their surprised and scared faces calmed me down. They had never seen me like this before. I was always hot tempered, but marriage had turned me into a gentler person and I didn’t remember shouting at them any time. I loved them more than anything else, and I wasn’t going to let them grow up without a father. People could make fun of me, but no one was going to hurt my babies, no one was going to laugh at them because their parents were divorced. I would fight to keep my husband, and I would fight to keep my marriage alive.

My sister offered to wait with me for Zamtea to come home, but I sent her home. This was between my husband and me, and although I appreciated her concern and would welcome her support I did not want her to be around. I was a grown woman, capable of sorting out her marital troubles.

Zamtea came home, and although I’d promised myself that I would not get angry, seeing him made me lose control again. I screamed and shouted at him until I ran out of words. He kept quiet and waited for me to finish, and when he spoke he was full of remorse. He didn’t deny anything, but said he would stop seeing her and would even try to move to a different college. I was prepared for war, and this time it was me who was surprised by his easy surrender.

I forgave him. After all, he was my husband, the father of my children, and I still loved him.

Friday, March 19, 2010

The Other Woman - Zamtea's Story

“If you get someone pregnant then you will have to marry her,” my mother used to say to me and my brother, and to my sisters she said “If you become pregnant then you will have to marry the baby’s father, I don’t want my grandchildren to be illegitimate children.” Sure enough when I was twenty-nine I got my girlfriend pregnant, and I became a husband and a father just after I turned thirty. Secretly I wished the baby would share my birthday, or at least my birth month, but she was born three weeks after my birthday, in another month. I loved my wife very much, and the birth of our daughter made our love even stronger.

I met my wife when I was eight years old. We were the two smallest kids in our class, and so naturally we sat together on the first row, just in front of the teacher’s desk.  My first memory of her is when she dropped her lunch box and the teacher asked me to share my lunch with her. She didn’t remember it though, and said I made it up because I wanted to make her cook for me as some sort of payback. The argument still stands unresolved. She is a very strong person, full of life and energy, always active and very sure of herself. My friends sometimes joked that she should have been born a man, and to tell you the truth, I don’t disagree.  But she was a good friend, a good girlfriend, and now a good mother, and she loved me more than anything; what more could a man want?

I had never had another girlfriend; in fact I never looked at other girls. Saihmingi was more than enough for me. And when we took our vows to love and cherish each other for better or worse, I meant it with all my heart. I never even thought that I would be unfaithful to her and love another woman.

Mahriati was everything Saihmingi was not. She was soft spoken, had flowing long hair and the most beautiful skin. She had this vulnerability that makes you immediately want to reach out and protect her from the world. Her hair was the first thing I noticed about her. It was straight and long, covering her breasts, always clean and shiny, and I wanted to touch it and feel it slide between my fingers. Saihmingi had cut her hair just after our second daughter was born because she didn’t have time to care for it properly. I would often fantasise about Mahriati wearing nothing, her hair covering her breasts, and I would imagine how it would feel to run my hands down her hair, touch her breasts, that smooth skin, well you know. Thinking about her made me feel guilty as if I was already cheating on Saihmingi. I was happily married and was not supposed to let sinful thoughts invade my mind, but I couldn't stop myself from thinking those things.
 
To cut a long story short, Mahriati and I soon got involved. I loved her, but not in the way I loved my wife. She was smart and knew how to make me feel good. No she didn’t shower me with praises or act like a small helpless child, but she had this quality, this thing about her that when you were with her everything seemed possible. She made me feel strong and manly, kind of like her knight in shining armour, but at the same time she didn’t expect anything from me. She loved me just the way I was.

But as much as I loved Mahriati and she loved me, we knew that our relationship was doomed. It had no future. We both knew it would end someday and we would have to say goodbye forever. Knowing that we had very little time together made me love her even more, made me want her more than ever. It was a very happy time for me but a very frustrating time at the same time. I couldn’t show my love for her to the world, I could not tell anyone about it and we always lived in fear that we would be discovered. I would look at the young lovers walking in the campus and I would be filled with envy. I wished I could throw everything away, forget about what the world would say and shout to the world that I was in love.

I wanted to leave my wife and be with Mahriati, but she wisely said no. She didn’t want us to feel guilty for the rest of our lives, she said I had made my vows to my wife to love her forever and I should keep that vow. But she didn’t put an end to our relationship and continued to love me just as before. I knew I should stop seeing her and be a good husband and father, but I couldn’t bear the thought of losing Mahriati, couldn’t bear not to hear her voice late in the night, and I guess what I feared most was the thought that she would find some other man and would belong to some stranger. I knew it was going to happen, some unknown man was going to love her and marry her, he would hold her hand and she would laugh at his jokes, and she would bear his children. How I hated that man, and how I wished it was me instead! I cursed fate for its cruelty, for bringing her so late into my life, for giving me a taste of heaven and then taking it away from me.

One day I went home, late as usual, and one look at Saihmingi’s angry face told me that she knew.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The Other Woman

If you really think about it, her family had always been unlucky when it comes to marriage. Mahriati was fourteen years old when her father divorced her mother and took in a new wife. She was too young to understand the complications of love and marriage, but old enough to be embarrassed by her father’s behaviour and definitely old enough to resent her stepmother. She didn’t address her stepmother for one year, didn’t call her “Mother”, and when she finally addressed her she called her “Nu Rammawi”. There was no way she was going to address Rammawii, the shameless home wrecker as Mother. She only has one mother, her precious mother who had to go back to her father’s house and live with her elder brother and his family. What she didn’t understand was that her stepmother, who was all of twenty-six years, was just a girl herself, full of insecurities and anxiety, eager to be loved and accepted. Her mother didn’t work, which meant she could not go and live with her in her uncle’s house, so Mahriati and her elder brother Maruata lived with their father and stepmother.

As far as stepmothers go, Rammawii was not so bad. She behaved more like an elder sister, never admonishing them for their teenage tantrums and pretending that all was right in the house when in fact the two children hardly spoke to her. To them, she was still the evil woman who was the reason for their mother’s departure. She tried desperately to win their approval, buying them clothes and little gifts, but all she got in return was a sarcastic “I know you spent my father’s money on this, if I want clothes I can ask him money myself.”

After Mahriati finished her Class 10 exams, her father sent her to Shillong where she spent the next seven years studying. Living away from home made her forget her hatred for her stepmother, and when she went home she was cordial to her, but you cannot say she was friendly. She accepted her father for who he was, and realised that whether she liked it or not her stepmother was always going to be a part of her life. Maruata had gone to college in Aizawl, and at the age of 20 had got married to a classmate, and had a son. The child was barely a year old when his mother ran off with another man, leaving the baby in the care of his father. Maruata had no idea how to take care of the baby, and so it was Rammawii who raised the child. She was delighted, not having a child herself, and enjoyed every moment. The baby changed their lives. He became the centre of their world, and brought the much needed peace in their home.

Mahriati came home with a post graduate degree in Mathematics, and after successfully clearing the NET exam, worked as a lecturer at Pachhunga College. It was there that she met Zamtea, a lecturer in the Mizo Department. She didn’t pay much attention to him in the beginning. They were colleagues and were polite to each other, and they never spoke to each other except for the Hellos and How are yous.

It could be rightly said that they became friends on the day of the staff picnic when he dropped her home. They lived in nearby localities and so when he offered her a ride home she gladly accepted. They talked about the college, the student unions, the professors, and both were surprised at the ease they felt being around each other. There were no awkward silences, no groping around for suitable topics; it was like they had been friends forever. They exchanged phone numbers, and a friendship began that soon blossomed into love.

She would lie in bed and think about him. It was amazing, really, the way they connected. Sometimes it felt like she could read his mind and he could read hers. They could look at each other across the crowded staff room and know what the other person was thinking. A look was all that was required to communicate. They tried to keep their affair a secret, because it would set the gossip mills churning into overtime, and it was not encouraged by the college. Lecturers and professors were supposed to keep a clean image, and should always keep in mind that they were influencing a hundred young minds. It was very tiring, always hiding and pretending not to notice each other. Sometimes she wondered if her colleagues noticed how she never spoke to him in public, how she sat far away from him. She would look at him from a distance and feel her heart bursting with love. She longed to be with him all the time, ached to touch him and just be with him.

Mahriati looked at her reflection in the mirror. She had never felt, happier, more beautiful than she did now. She knew she didn’t have much time. It wouldn’t be long before people discovered their affair, and her reputation would be ruined for ever. She had had a few boyfriends before, awkward boys who didn’t know how to carry a conversation, young men who often expected everything and gave nothing in return, but Zamtea was different. He was ten years older, knew how to make her laugh and feel loved, and knew when to push and when to stay away. He respected her as a woman and didn’t feel threatened by her intelligence, her profession. To him, she was an equal.

She knew that very soon they will have to part ways. Because Zamtea was a married man, married for the last five years to a woman he had known all his life. Though she wanted to be with him forever, she didn’t want to come in between Zamtea and his wife. She didn’t want Zamtea’s children to suffer the way she and her brother did, didn’t want to be the person who divided a family into two camps. She knew all about the anger, the resentment and the bitterness. But for now, she wanted to have him, at least for a while. She was ready to lose, ready for the embarrassment and disgrace that was to come. Didn’t someone say “It’s better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all”?

She thought about fate, and how we really have no control over it. She looked at her reflection once again, and realised that she had become the person she once hated. She had become The Other Woman.