Sunday, March 23, 2008

The Beach

Could see the storm scheming up at the horizon. The storm announced itself through a confusion of colours that played smokily over the berserk foam - gray and black, orange and dusty brown, a bit of red overpowered by a blue so dark, it competed with black. I was sitting at the far end of the hotel lobby facing the sea. It was not exactly comfortable, nor could it be classified as romantic. The weather was too sticky and too sullen for any idea of calm to prevail. In fact, too much silence can get eerie for the unpolished soul. Silence was looming large over my cup of tea. Barring the gushing of waves that fizzled out on the beach and the splash of unruly large ones that hit some scattered rocks, all was silent.

A few more days and I would be back. I couldn't decide, what was worse - going back or staying here in the forsaken shanty of a resort. Three days had swept past in the freedom of loneliness, another three would pass in the contemplation of society that would flood me in near future. Soon I would neatly fold a week of recluse and leave it in the pages of a book to lie forgotten, forsaken.

The three-legged bitch was howling again. I could make her out from her silhouette, the way she slumped forward and moved gracelessly about made her special out of all the mongrels. All the dogs on this beach looked alike with their matted brown or black coats, multiple bites, flies hovering behind their arse and fleas hopping above their ears. But this bitch stood out because of her melancholy puzzled with a peculiar will to survive. She had a certain charm. She was strong and high-headed and more than ferocious when need be. She wasn't as reckless as the others, though. She had a certain style, a slow gait which she must have acquired over a painful period of maggots and healing.

I had tried to get friendly with her the first day I saw her howling on the beach. She had shot back a brief, vicious growl with her wet red muzzle stretched back to expose sharp yellow canines in full view. She had dismissed me decisively and limped away further into the sea. I had stayed behind on the beach feeling like a fool rightly snubbed for trying to mix pity with love.

I avoided her on all my walks from the next day and she ignored me just as majestically. I was getting restless hearing her sad, deep howls.

I abruptly pushed the cup of tea aside and started walking to my room. My bed was littered with clothes and books, pens and colour pencils, a cheap drawing book. I made myself some space on the bed and slopped on my stomach, face propped up by my hands, feeling utterly useless. My penchant for mess left me disappointed wherever I went. Even with an army of servants, I could manage to make a pile of useful useless things in my vicinity.

The morning looked a tad meek to glow in full brightness. The storm had apparently threatened the sun not to get to business right away. The morning looked a bit undressed, rather unkempt and unwashed. The beach was littered with carcasses of jelly fish, a huge turtle and innumerable thick, oblong calcium bones of cuttlefish. I pocketed a few for the birds.

I walked till the farther end, just where the beach curved suddenly and a brown rocky range came in view. The beach took a sudden change here, the sand got coarser in degrees till you only walked between sharp rocky edges. Here and there, the sea water rushed into a depression and stayed back for good. Small, colorful fish and transparent fry would dance about from one small end of the stony depressions to the other. At the bottom of dark holes lurked crabs that would wait for their prey with razor-sharp pincers.

There was a comfortable rock that I had mentally marked as my own from the first afternoon. Just below the rock was the largest of such inland ponds with a dizzying display of multicoloured fry. I had found a recluse within a recluse at this silent, risky spot.

No sooner had I sat on a rocky edge and had made myself comfortable watching the school of fry zig-zagging their way aimlessly, than the bitch silently appeared by my side and wagged her tail. I couldn't decide what surprised me more: her sudden presence, or her friendly gesture. I was still stung by her growl and her denial of me and gave her the cold shoulder. I was not going to talk with a dirty, self-engrossed bitch, I decided.

She looked the other way and sat down beside the water, curiously looking at the fry. She struck her paw in and out of the pool and amused herself as the school went off track with each of her well-timed splash. I was too irritated at the invasion of my privacy to actually admit I was enjoying her game.

She stole a glance at me when I unwrapped a sandwich, but a sniff later she looked away unamused and got busy with the fry again. This pissed me off further. I was hoping to have an upper hand by throwing a crumb with a proud swoosh of a hand aimed at her salivating mouth only after she had wagged her tail enough. She had denied me this chance to feel mean. The bitch, with all her attitude, left me fuming with decisive anger.

I knew she didn't quite approve of me. She knew I hated her guts. We both knew. And in full knowledge of our dislike, we struck it big time since that afternoon. For three days, we seemed to meet undecided, un-appointed. For three days, she snuffed off the sandwiches I ate with utter disgust and for three days I grumbled about how bad she smelt when the wind was in our direction. For three days, we kept each other company, a two-legged bitch and a three-legged bitch who both didn't quite like and yet understood the other so well.

Sometimes you don't need love, friendship or pity to strike it big. Anger, envy or dislike works just as well. Only if you don't hide what you feel, that is.


Monday, March 17, 2008

Of weddings

All those who have married in the traditional Hindu way, tell me what is the meaning of marriage that you gathered when you sat opposite the fire and repeated the mantras one after the other.

After witnessing two-three weddings, including my own, I have come to a conclusion that traditional, ritualistic weddings offer a wholly unsatisfactory insight and guidance to starting a new life.

Wedding ceremonies are simply an expensive social obligation that each man and woman is made to tolerate. You basically wed for your parents, parents of parents, and the 'society' rather than to understand what scriptures say about what a marriage means.

I have no problems with the celebrations per say. Anything that brings joy and people together is justified and a marriage tends to do both. What irks me are the elaborate rituals that boil up to be an aimless, half-baked, commercial and socially obligatory formality. I find in rituals a certain disregard, manipulation and highhandedness in imparting information and insight.

Many of the ‘Whys’ remain unanswered for weddings or poojas are timed in accordance with hall bookings, catering services and other logistics. It seems that the modern day harried ritual ceremonies are for nothing but a placebo effect- to simply give us a moral conviction of having done things the right way than anything else.

On the other hand, if I were to be explained everything in detail, it would take almost a week. I would rather get my hands on some book and read it on my own and get my husband to read it.

The sweaty boredom of sitting beside the so-called holy fire and listening to mantras in a completely alien tongue (Sanskrit is alien, admit it) is not exactly what you call a pleasant experience. They say that the rituals, if performed with the right ingredients and attitude, can invoke the presence of Gods. Never once in my life, can I digest that Gods can actually concede a descent from heaven in the chaos and hullaboo of a few hundred friends of friends and relatives of relatives to make their way through the stuffiness of expensive silk sarees to bless the couple.

An ideal wedding would be under a tree, with a hand-picked few individuals who are close not by relation, but by bonding and understanding. To do the ritualistic honours should be just about any respectful person whose wisdom we are certain of and who can guide us to a new beginning, who can tell what exactly the Vedas mean by a wedding as crisply as he can. And please, no fire and ghee and all that stuff. Or to the minimum- I am sure we have done enough sins in thought and kind to actually expect Gods coming over to say a hello, so better chuck the formality altogether.

Talking about ideal weddings- my mama mami actually tied the knot under a tree somewhere in the USA while studying there. And so they have the privilege and moral right to stiffly admonish the unnecessary extravaganza that has become synonymous to traditional weddings. I had a very clear idea of what kind of a wedding I wanted but my family dismissed my preference as 'impractical'. (I wanted an extremely small ceremony in my own house in the presence of a few hand-picked people followed by a grand ‘free for all’ reception outside)

I believe that a marriage essentially boils up to be a commitment that you make with each other. Rituals and the presence (and approval) of others is a social adage that developed over a period of time.

Sunday, March 02, 2008


Life Ten Years Ago-Demanded a few things from me that I didn't realise I should deliver. Wish I was more sensitive, more attentive and a little less self-engrossed. People slipped right before my eyes and the doom struck me too late... But yes, life ten years ago was also pure bliss- we stayed far away from civilisation, enjoyed the sight of sprawling fields. Heaven, when it rained...

Life Five Years Ago- Was the best of the best times of my life. College was one storm of blissful abandon that came and went in the blink of an eye. God has been very kind. Touchwood.

Life Tomorrow- I hope, takes the same beautiful turns that it has taken so far. Yes, agreed some shocks I could have done better without, but wiser? I am not sure. I sincerely hope life tomorrow is the one that I can look back fondly the day after...

Five Locations I'd love to run away to-
Ahmedabad, any time...

Somewhere in Himachal / Uttaranchal with a good camping group... I am not sure if I can walk that much, but still...

Beyt Dwarka and Mount Abu, ideally on a moonless night..

The small villages that come on the way up to Darjeeling have caught my fascination. I have wanted to run away and stay in those small homes packed with large dahlia and chrysanthemum blossoms ever since...

Five Bad Habits I have-

Too much of brooding. Gets on my nerves and my skin.

Carelessness. Irritates me more than it does my husband, though he doesn't quite believe me when I say this...

That I stop taking medicines once I feel a little better. Just can't help it...

Too much of sleep...

Anger and what all I say when I am angry...

Five Things I'll Never Wear-

Stilettoes. I get awe-struck everytime I see a friend wearing a pair.. Sadly, not for me...

Anything drastic is not on my list...

Something to achieve by next year-

A goal, a purpose. That degree I want so much and a satisfying job.
Something that impacted me last year-

Hmm... cannot pinpoint anything specific... Few books lasted long though- To Kill a Mocking Bird, The Alchemist, 1984... Also, the dinner and lunch I used to take in that small house in Pune. That family humbled me.

What will I miss about 2007-

I never ever thought I would. But yes, I miss being in Pune a lot and will continue to do so for time to come...

Five things I want to do before i die-


Let's see, has to be some land and a nice house. Children. Travel and see the places I read about. And a sense of living a good life. I guess that sums up everything inclusive, no?

Thanks Pranay for tagging me... Please carry the tag on, all of you who are up to it...