Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Whom have you helped today?

If you wish to contribute, please mail us at indiahelps@gmail.com or info@indiahelps.com or leave me a comment, well take it forward. Alternatively, if you want to put up the posters on your blogs and spread the word, that would be fantastic too. Let me know if you want the full resolution leaflets.
Peeps abroad who want to send in money, cheques can be drawn directly in favor of Poornima (Ahana Misra case) or in the name of Indiahelps (Pavement schools). Please do contact us, well take it forward.
The developments can be followed up on www.indiahelps.blogspot.com and www.indiahelps.org.
Help us spread the word!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Things are heatin' up

....in Aamchi Mumbai. Temperatures are soaring through the roof, Its too hot to walk out in a pair of denims without feeling like they'll fuse into my skin and someone will have to perform surgical separation procedures to rid my legs of them.

And its not even April yet! For Chrissakes. We hardly had an itsy bitsy twopence excuse for a winter, isn't it fair to apply the same logic to summers? Why is it that winters can come and go with shoddy excuses, and summers descend upon us as though someone up there's unleashing his ferocious wrath, the intensity of which decides fate of his appraisals? Some mercy, please. Really, there's only so much heat that train-travelling, dust and smoke enduring, road rage containing Mumbaikars can take, without being in a foul mouthed mood for the rest of the day.

My skin is in a lesser co-operative mood during summers, tanning, freckling, frequent breakouts and general foul temper inducing incidents. How I can be dehydrated after guzzling more than 2 -3 litres of water a day still eludes me. Where does it all go? (No, wait I know the answer to that). Im in critically near hair-chopping states...my long locks, cultivated after years of looking like a cross dresser at parties. (What can a girl possibly wear to a club/disc with hair shorter than some men in her group, other than shorts. And Weddings. YIKES) and then I think NO, ill endure.
I'm ranting, I know. There's only so much rant about the weather that people around me can take :D

Sunday, March 22, 2009

With the millions of thoughts swarming around in my mind, threatening to spill out in incoherent, entangled sentences I am at a loss of where to begin. A lot contributes to my current semi melancholic, reflective, grim state of mind. The death of a friends father yesterday... which shocked us, yet was felt not as acutely as would've been the death of someone nearer. As I sat through the prayer service, reminding myself that I had to come, in spite of not being in touch over 8 years now, owing to the steadfast support he extended to me during my time of need..26/11 and also for the friendship that once was, I couldn't help but be overcome with emotion at the silence that the prayer meet allowed me inside my head. The family sat facing the audience, over 200 people in strength (more, possibly) with a stoic silence and grief contained within the confines of their self, given away only by the occasional blink of the eye or the unmistakable shudder of the shoulders.
As people walked past, paying their respects, they sat, vulnerable, with joined hands, extracting strength and will from the sea of familiar faces that engulfed them. Yet, I thought, wouldn't it be the same sea of familiar and comforting faces that would cause one to break down? I find myself more in control of myself in the company of strangers, among friends and family I am but an open book with my emotions and feelings described in disarming detail on the page of my face, the turn of my lips and the reflection in my eyes. How then, I thought, can someone hold it together, so inspiringly in this forum?
Beautiful and peaceful it was, undoubtedly. A group, possibly making a living out of prayer meetings singing peaceful and serene Bhajans in praise and glory of the departed, whose picture adorned the wall behind. Family member names were incorporated into the songs, which, commercially speaking could possibly be customised by family names. Another commercial avenue, another way to make money, out of someones death. What an irony, to make a living from death. Someones gotta do it. I know. On exit, everyone was given cd's, the front cover of which was a picture of Uncle, a short biography, contents of which I presume are Bhajans. All personalised mourning material, made by an agency who probably specialises in accepting and completing last minute orders like these. I sound rude? Cynical? Excuse me, its just the contemplative and overwhelming blankness taking over.
I left in a short while, with a brief eye contact with my friend who sat to the left of his fathers garlanded portrait. That was enough. He knew I had come. The sms later thanking me, only reminded me of my second thoughts of going and washed over me, a guilt of sorts, How could I have thought otherwise? please forgive me for my thoughts.

"Im so shocked, he was so young!.' Someone exclaimed. Was he? I thought. A quick mental math with the dates mentioned on the front page of the cd and i took a full minute for me to arrive at the startling conclusion. He was approximately the same age as my father. Just a little over a year older. Now I'm confused. Is my father young, or old? He's young to me, but i guess parents always will be. A slight greyish twinge in his un-dyed hair ,square shoulders, a sturdy gait, coupled with a handsome smile and devilish dimples belie his 57 years. My mothers often mistaken for my older sister, particularly since her wardrobe has extended in pants and (my) shirts now-a-days. A short black crop and soft supple skin, which even I dream of having someday complete the most significant details of her physiognomy. Of course If i get into softer details, her nature, strength...I might as well spend the rest of my life trying fervently to complete this post, with no words adequate or appropriate to describe the woman whose always reminded me where home is.

I'm scared. Of situations beyond my control. Of Life. Of death. Life is fragile. Sadness, Hardships, Death - indefinably certain. Yet, it is such inescapable surety that we don't account for. The assumption that things are and will always be ok or even good, is a farce sometimes. If thinking things MAY not be ok, make you work harder at appreciating people, parents, friends, lovers, then maybe it would be prudent to think so. It would be wise to indulge in some introspection, arrive at what degree of selfishness best describes your life,and hope that that summary is as far from self-involved as could be. If yes, maybe its time for a change.

There's never a good time for sorrow, change, death and hardship. We're always caught off guard, most often left bitter "everything had to happen to me at once"
What we don't realize is that God never promised us hard times when its convenient to us, grief when we've had our fill of happiness or vice versa. He simply sent us with a challenge, "Here's a maze, filled with insurmountable hardships and troublesome times, and I send you only armed with Hope, faith and patience as your weapons against all that you will encounter" We accepted. And that's what we're doing. Riding the ride, Unmazing the maze.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Sitcom scripts anyone?

In conversation with uber-cool girlfriend Ap.

Me - Damn, its 2009 already!
Ap - yep, so!
Me - Its freaky no? All our textbooks and all used to have dates for future stories like 'In 2011 robots roamed the earth' That's 2 years away!
Ap - lol.
Me - Dude, its gonna be 2020 soon.
Ap - (Laughing) SHUT UP.

#2 *Not sure how the conversation got here, but money matters and bags were being discussed.
Me - I don't know, I cant imagine owning a LVuitton worth lakhs of rupees. I'd *lust* for one but I don't think ill ever want (read:afford) one. No, make that for sure.
Ap - ya me neither. I don't think Ill buy one even when I can afford it.
*a half minute later*
Ap - Okay maybe one
*a half minute later*
Ap - No, OK maybe two. But two only definitely.

L and me taking each others cases. As we're talking (arguing) I am also sms'ing. Lots of semi insulting, poking fun of each other type statements later..
L - I hate you!
Me (distractedly) - That makes two of us. (assuming, for some reason that meant that I hate him too)
L - (Bursts out laughing) I WIN! I WIN this argument.

#5 Dad with a really really bad backache laments about giving in to the pain and succumbing to taking a pain killer.
Mom - Sure, take a combiflam/voveron. But don't drink tonight.
Dad - Ill take one tomorrow, I'm feeling a bit better

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

19th Nov. Did you know?

I was a tad miffed since last week, when women's day was celebrated with much grandeur. Amidst centre page folds of articles luring us to go shop till we drop, book tickets, massages, month long slimming packages at half prices and other luxurious (un)necessities because apparently we deserved them.

I take a break, Ladies and Gentlemen from my usual male bashing, to raise a toast. To our other halves. The one's which don't have a BIG celebratory day. The one's that deserve one. The key peg to most women's day articles is that 'we deserve it' because 'She's a mother, sister, wife, daughter, homemaker, etc rolled into one' While I don't deny this, and am in complete awe of working women in Mumbai, and across the world really, who juggle careers and kids with equal aplomb, and even women who give up flourishing careers for their family, I do think that it isn't quite fair.

After all for every female relationship/responsibility there is a Male Equivalent isn't there? They're Fathers and brothers, sons, Chief wage earners (in most cases), Husbands...too! Sometimes I feel as though Women's day is just a blatant discrimination, a declaration of being the fairer and weaker sex, one that needs to be reminded of how special and wonderful she is and appreciated time and again.

International Men's day, (title of post) comes and goes without much of a mention. How many reading this even know the date, before clicking on the link above? This day remains largely unnoticed, While its counterpart, the women's day has metamorphosed into a somewhat valentines day like affair. Why do we celebrate it again? Seems to me that we have a day for ALMOST every relation Man has ever coined. Lets see now. Mothers, Fathers, Sisters, Brothers, Teachers, Bosses, (Grandmothers and Grandfathers fall in the existent Mothers and Father days), Uncle and Aunt days , PHEW. We ought to club them ALL together, and label is Humans day or some generic term like that.

Moving on from labeling days, I was reading a very amusing post on PMS and how only men seem to be the secondary afflicted victims. Women being the primary victims of course. While I do agree that those days are indeed terrible, and I would PAY a man to endure them, wax, thread various inconspicuous corners of ones body, it is indeed alarming that we do inflict our ghastly mood and consequent PMS related tantrums and emotional vacillations more so on men. Do you remember being nasty to your girl-friend? Or Mother? Nah, its the boyfriends/Husbands that get it. (and HOW). God forbid they reach ten mins later than decided time or agree that you do look like you've piled on a few pounds. My most sincere wishes are with the poor fools who do.

This is therefore, a toast. To the men in our lives, who withstand our hormonal mood swings, neurotic demands, incessant questions, bad hair days, bad shoe days, bad any days, broken nail days, upset over nothing but still deserve sympathy days, and still manage to infuse a semblance of rationality, peace and stability in our lives. Dad, I don't know how you manage being the only man in the house when Lil brothers away. I can barely live with myself. Your living with almost two of me.

For the big, protective and all empowering, re-strengthening hugs, and the untiring thankless providing for, celebrating our successes, for a steady calm voice in the most tumultuous of circumstances, and dropping us home however late it is (and however far you stay), pretending your interested in knowing the difference between a halter and a tube, and obliging us by watching a chick flick just because we spend lots of time making cute faces. This is to Daddy, my brother, and all my friends- from engineering, my first and second workplace. Most of whom don't have my blog link, but hope, know how much they mean to me. You guys, are truly inspiring.
Disclaimer - No man has paid me to write this. Im still on our side. Just taking a break.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Darn It!

I hab a code. Dads why I'b nod been able to posd. Because it always brings with it its friends feber, cough, itchy throat and all that jazz. Ids so annoying.
I been nod coming to office since wednedday. And zince Im bag in de office today Ive a lod of work to do :(
Sympathies, Hugs, love, chocolates, flowers, Mosd welgum :D

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

You MUST go to Dome. Because..

Ladies and Gentlemen, the view from my left.
And then the view from my right...

Any further questions?

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Putting Life in a Whole new Perspective

Not so bright but very early (for me) on a saturday morning I set off to Goregaon. An hour's journey from my house, to go to our Pavement school initiative. I came away spellbound, blown away and slightly mellow.

It was a delightful sight. 70+ kids of varying ages, all sprawled out on Chataai's simultaneously bringing chaos and cheer on a regular ordinary footpath. For the space of those 2 hours every few days, that Footpath is actually a school, or tuition (as some kids call it).

I reached armed with pencils, erasers and crayon boxes for all, which we'll distribute when we get an arts and crafts session organised. (There's one in the offing I'm told). Priyanka, Sumita and Kiran were already there, to see an overexcited me jump off my rickshaw.

The before picture -

The After pictures -

My friend Karthik (who came!!)sitting with the kids, giving them scary sums which they woud come to me for help with, with big eyes 'Teacher Teacher yeh sum mujhe nahi aa raha' accompanied with a sad face. Yep, we were 'Teachers' for a day!

Parul sent them pichkaris, colour and gujjias to play holi today, which I could'nt attend. Pictures on indiahelps as soon as Priyanka put them up!

On another note - Karthik's begun his own initiative - Mumbai Rewind. Its a brilliant initiative--- go check it out, and leave him a few words! http://www.mumbairewind.blogspot.com/

1 Haircut - 850 Rs.

1 Wasabi Martini at Wink - 750 Rs.

200 pencils, 60 erasers, 75 boxes of crayons and 150 Melody sweets - 850 Rs.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Oh look!

We have a website!
More updates on the 200 pencils, 6o erasers, 75 boxes of crazyons and bags of toffees I bought for the pavment school (which I have to reach at 8 a.m. on a saturday morning 1 hr 15 mins away from my place) later! Pictures too, hopefully.

I think im as excited to meet 75 kids as they (hopefully) will be when I be my santa self handing out stuff. :) yipeee
Anyone wants to donate stationery, money, notebooks, toffees, bags, boxes, anything, leave me a comment or get in touch! indiahelps@gmail.com for now, will have my own indiahelps id soon.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Some things never change?

Actually, they change all the time. Remember old wise men telling us how change is inevitable, and how its the only constant thing in life? Well, they're right. *Sigh*

A friend came down from the U.S. yesterday, whose been there since the last 9 years. When he would come down initially, there was a lot of friction. U.S. returns always want one's entire attention when they're back for a brief vacation, and any and every social interactions not involving them must be postponed until their departure. While this isn't always possible, there would be a lot of misunderstandings at times, to understand that they leave behind the life they've made for a brief while, but are in the midst of our lives here..naturally some parts not involving them. After all, they're simultaneously making a new life, new friends as we're doing with ours.

I've had a lot of very close friends go to the U.S... and the case was same with each one. Albeit we were younger and much less mature, but the circumstances would remain the same. Ive seen them all feel a certain insecurity in moving to another country, living all by themselves, being deemed a resident alien, coupled with friends back home moving on with their lives, making new ones, closer ones, sometimes. A phone call not returned, an event forgotten assumes larger magnitude and is assigned greater significance ... friendships there seem different somehow.

A friend recently wrote to me saying "You know, I have a lot of friends here, but its difficult to understand what rights I have over them. For instance, I cant call someone up and yell at them for having forgotten my birthday or simply not calling back! It seems like charm school!"

And I got it. I got her. Small things like this mean a whole lot more. I love that I can call up my best friend, and be raving mad at her for something, and have the "right" to be angry, upset or happy with her, and tell her/him so. Its something we take for granted. Its something 'I' took for granted.
I can never be friends with a person if I don't know my "rights" or level of acquaintance. I need to understand where I stand in that persons life, and be on the same page. Let me explain what I mean by the help of the categories in my mind. (Please note all situations are vice versa!)

Category 1 -The Acquaintance If your someone I never share feelings with, but just meet socially your an acquaintance. I can never be mad at you, or expect anything from you - like call backs, informing me about developments in your life etc. and vice versa.
Category 2 - The Good friend- If your someone who I've had slightly personal conversations with, but are not someone I'd be comfortable telling everything to, or hang out with outside of a social gathering, then we're better than acquaintances, but not as good as best friends. In this case, your not someone I'd call up specifically and talk about life changes or things, but if we meet Id speak with you on a more personal level than I would an acquaintance. Expectations are at a minimal level.
Category 3 - The Best friends a.k.a the close inner circle - This is the best category to be. We can hang out alone together for hours, talk about the most personal of personal stuff, trust each other completely. Expectations and 'rights' are the highest here. Right to be mad, Right to demand an explanation, right to do something special, expect it back etc.

Its important for me to guage where my friendship with a person stands and which compartment he/she fits into. for e.g. I cannot imagine an 'expectationless' close friendship, one where I speak with someone only in good times, disappear for long durations, resurface and disappear again and expect not to be questioned. Cause if your someone close to me, your capable of hurting me by things you say and do, and if we cant talk about it and I dont have the 'right' to be mad at you, I'd downgrade that to an acquaintance and treat you accordingly then.

Im a saggitarian. A fire sign. An archer. I take my friendships and people who I love very seriously. Its in my blood. But yeah, I'm equally good at letting go (now). I'm done with the half hearted friendships, the being taken for granted and all that jazz.

What was I saying about Change? Everything changes. well yeah.
In yesterdays case, some waists were narrower, some hips wider, some one's hair longer, and another ones straighter, yet another's eyes de-spectacled. Conversations revolved around finding and losing jobs, impending marital ceremonies and insistent singlehood as opposed to crushes and fixing basketball matches of the past. So change there was plenty.

Still, together, we were the same loud, crazy, hysterical kids who went to college 9 years ago, looking back at pictures of our uglier days, wondering how we got here so soon. SO DARN SOON.
P.S - Appy if you ever read this, I missed you fool!

Monday, March 2, 2009

What Happens Ever After?

I had a quiet weekend. A mellow one. And it was delightfully enjoyable.

Every so often I like doing nothing much, watching a long slow, non commercial film, lazying around home on a Saturday night, with no huge party to attend. Its funny that it started with attending a wedding and a birthday party on Friday night. Yes, in true Social butterfly style, I walked in home from work, showered, dressed and left in a completely Indian ensemble for the wedding which was thankfully 15 mins away from home. The wedding attended, I got home, changed completely into a whole new outfit and left for a birthday party. My watchman must've been impressed. I walked in and out of home in 3 different avatars in the space of a few hours that night. Phew.

Weddings are fun though. I always look around and think in my head 'Oh at mine, I want this done this way' Or 'oh wow, let me take this wedding card makers number'. Yep, I'm one of those women. The kind who wants attention to detail, small things she's seen here and there and liked and loved to be a part of her wedding day. Who wants to hold her husbands hand and look frightfully happy, not photogenic plastic smile happy. Who wants every emotion felt that day to feel dazzlingly heightened, look her bestest best, and have her face hurt from smiling so much.

That's the one thing I look for when I look at a bride - how happy she looks... With all the numerous ceremonies and other extravagant hoopla that surrounds Indian weddings, its a given that the Bride and Groom are tired. Still, Its the look in her eyes, the palpable excitement that events and fatigue of the past few days cannot overtake that tell you how she's feeling inside...
There are two things a woman knows: what she's looking for and what she'll settle for... And if she's settling, it'll show.

I want to wear Dark Green and Red with Dull gold work, Antique gold Kundan Jewellery, with shoes as flat as flat can be. With all the standing around that brides need to do, Ill save all the uncomfortable-ness for my clothes and jewellery. Hair will be lightly clipped, no grand bun with 1500 hair clips and swarowski studs in it for me. Just a plain simple blow dry should set it. Nude/Smoky eyed Makeup. Not too little, not too less and whatever happens, I will NOT match my eyeshadow to the colour of my saree. Not even if I have to fight with my stylist for it . (i.e. assuming of course That I have one!)
I want us to pick out my ring, and not his folks, And I'll pick out his. A simple plain wedding band with the date and our names engraved on the inside. Sealed with a kiss.

I want him to know me inside out. What I'm afraid of, Which toothpaste I like. What makes me cranky, Love the people I love. Fight with me over ordering food, insisting on making (burning) the toast, Learning to swim from me, knowing when that time of month is, Buying me my favorite lollipop (cause god knows I still Love 'pops). Loving me for all my eccentricities and always walking on my left, and walking on white striped crossings and looking for logarithms in car numbers and still not thinking I'm a nut job. And that Is why I DON'T want to have an arranged marriage. And that's where A comes in. He 's cute. A second chance... Something I thought may never happen to me again after V and I broke up. He makes me feel as though these things aren't weird after all. Remembers a random tiny little thing I Mustve said 3 weeks ago (and freaking me out) whilst conveniently forgetting Valentines (How?!!). I like.

Anyone who leaves me a bunch of red flowers and a note AND a prettily wrapped box with a big bow on my desk first thing in the morning is worth it. No? Want to know what was inside? 3 very adorably picked out cosmetic products from Lush and a big dialed, pearl plated Esprit watch. Which I wore although it clashed terribly with work wear. I just stepped up the attitude so I could carry it off.

How I digressed. But I'm feeling good, somehow. This was on my mind maybe. The thought that I probably couldn't grow to love someone again, and maybe have to resign to *meeting someone through my parents* and the 'Settled/Arranged' marriage bit, scared me to no end. I'm allowing myself the luxury - of feeling these feelings again..of missing him so much (when he was away for 3 days) that I wanted to pick a fight when he did actually call, its a Delicious feeling, to allow yourself to be swept off ... although this is for real. It isn't fairy tale like (except when I think of it later, with sound effects in my mind), it isn't hypothetical, I don't have my expectations through the roof, and he isn't even claiming to be prince charming. But, its real.

His favorite line is that he's positive he's gonna hurt me and made me mad at him more times than not. He's even convinced that one day I might reconsider, since He isn't offering me rainbows and stars and a big fancy life. But baby, If you stand by me when I look like a hag and pat my back when I'm sick, worry about me when I'm crossing the street, and make me feel so much peace within, I don't think there's a chance in hell Id let you go.

So what happens after? Is it Happy? or Does Cinderella drive him nuts with her obsessive need to clean the castle, cause she missed her day job? source (for the dialogue above only)