Just Stuff

A Mosquito Fell in My Drink!

“Nothing good ever happens after 2 a.m.”

Ted Mosby, your Mom was so right!

Well, it’s not exactly 2 a.m. here. It’s just a little after midnight and I suddenly had to have hot water with ginger (us millennials, I tell you!) which resulted in some irreversible tragedies.

I put the pan with water and cut ginger pieces on the stove to heat and all I did wrong was turn away for 10 seconds. I came back to find a stupid, little mosquito dead and floating in the saucepan. I was so mad at it. The next couple of seconds went by in a monologue along the following lines, “ugh! you stupid thing! You just HAD to fall into my drink, didn’t ya? MY drink! I could just kill you, ugh! You are already dead! You stupid, stupid, stuuupid, mosquito!’ And I contemplated not throwing the water away, but just taking the fly out and to continue heating my drink. I mean, honestly, they have these 3-second rule or something these days, right?

Of course, I wouldn’t be writing this blog if that is what I actually did. I kept swearing at the dead fly, so much that I’m pretty sure it was in the best interests of the fly that it was dead. I refilled the pan, added my ginger, and started to boil the water again, occasionally looking for the corpse of the no-more fly. I hated Ted (erm…let’s just call the dead fly ‘Ted Mosby’ for now. You know, identity and all that.) I hated his guts, falling into my drink! All he had to do was fly around and not be dead. Why does he do stuff after 12 in the night anyway!? I was so mad at the dead, floating, Ted. And then all that anger shifted to a little bit of sadness, still mixed with two ounces of the original anger.

Would Ted’s folks miss him now? Did he have a family, a partner? Maybe he had a Barney who told him everything good happened after 2 a.m. Stupid friends of Ted!

Ted, I’m so very mad at you for falling into my drink, when you had a million other places to be. But I’m also sad you died in hot waters, buddy. If you ever get to come back and stuff, don’t ever fly around after 12 a.m., okay?

Sitcoms sometimes really are important, guys. Take heed. Don’t make decisions after 2 a.m., lives could be lost and blogs could happen.

Also, you will never know if I actually did throw the Ted-water away and replaced it. So, take a leaf from my blog and never trust any drink I hand you. Like ever.

RIP, Ted the Mosquito.

 

 

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Fiction, People

The ‘Something’ About Train Journeys

I was maybe 12 or 14 at the time and I’d never been inside a train. So I begged my cousin to show me inside one since we were anyhow at a train station then. She looked amused, grabbed my hand, and walked me to Platform 1. I remember gaping wide-eyed with a fascinated “ohhh”. My cousin chuckled in amusement.

I’m not, in particular, a fan of train journeys. Or waking up early, for that matter. And I hate it when these two happen on the same day. But promises had to be kept. Amina, our ‘Amiii’, was getting married and I had my train ticket booked for Kollam from Kottayam. Waking up at 6 in the morning was a Herculean challenge for me and there were shameful flashes of moments when I debated calling in sick. But I was 24 now and that, annoyingly enough, called for some maturity. Plus I love this woman, you know.

I patted myself for getting on the right train at the right time (I have a history. I have a lot of histories). I approached seat number 34 to find an old man seated there. 5 seconds of different ways of waging war flashed my mind and then I squeezed myself between two passengers in the opposite seat. I gathered the environment around me and summed up that the whole lot of them (5 men and two women, all in their late-50s) where either family or a group of friends traveling to the same destination. And then it happened.

‘The Gang’ gave out such a positive vibe. They kidded and joked around in such a way that if it weren’t for my eyes, I would have concluded these were a bunch of college kids. When I looked at this Gang first, my conclusions were of a quiet journey with a bunch of ‘them serious folks’. I was wrong, and happily too. While any birthday after 23 was ‘meh’ for us, these bunch of merry men (the two women were really quiet, and as it turns out, were not related to The Gang. They had struck up a friendship over that journey), were laughing about who gets to hit retirement first and in adorable exclamations declared, “Woah! eda we are all going to be senior citizens now!” (‘Eda’ being a term of addressing, in this context, a friend).

And it was primary school all over again. I wanted to be included too. I wanted to be a part of this oh-so-happy club. I smiled at their jokes, shamelessly listened to their happy chatter, and also kept looking in their direction. The Gang was totally unaware of my drama. I tapped my feet. No luck. I coughed. No luck. I even started a conversation with one of the women next to me. No luck. The 6 YO in me was annoyed. Did it cost her to extend that conversation? And then, caught amidst this chatter and the cool breeze of the Kerala monsoon, I dozed off.

I woke up to the legendary ‘chai, chai, chaiii’ and ‘pazhampuriiii’ that happens during every train journey in Kerala. Ah, this time of the journey! The banana fritters were always my favorite. While mommy somehow managed to convince me from never having the train chai, the fritters and I continued our bond. So yes, while I’ve never had a train chai, I would be the first to nibble on those crunchy, heavenly, fritters.

I watched silently as The Gang ordered chai and some fritters. As a rare, I didn’t jump at my usual fritter-temptation. And finally, finally, it happened. One of them addressed me politely to offer me their fritters. Of course, I acted ‘chill’, and gently declined with a smile. We edged towards friendly conversation. They were traveling to the same destination as I, and for a purpose same as mine. A friend’s daughter’s wedding. For a moment there, I imagined they were talking about Ami’s father, and I could make the entry to her wedding, as a part of this cool Gang. My imaginary second got over. And no, this was for a different wedding.

The journey came to an end and we parted ways, wishing each other well.

As I walked to witness Ami’s special day, I imagined a 60-something me, having similar conversations with my best friends. Growing old suddenly painted a very different and happy picture to me.

There really is something about train journeys. Is it the scenic beauty? Is it the snack time? Or maybe, could it be the hours from a stranger’s life you be part of, the hours from your own you share too? Our stories are never our own. Nor are our journeys.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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People

Remembering a legend, Dr. Priya Hosali

I almost knew the news coming, but it still shook me. I stopped working, went out for some air, came back and sat, feeling a little guilty, sad, and so much missing.

We remember people not so much for their accolades and ranks, as we do for the way they made us feel. For the person she was to us and for the way she made us all feel, I owe her this one.

Dr. Priya Hosali already had our expectations flying with what we heard of her from our seniors. So she was the celebrity prof. we looked forward to meeting, following all that fanfare. And we finally did. A petite, lovely, woman in her early 70s, surveying us with sharp eyes. We stuck to the details in our shameless gapes: fluffily beautiful white hair, huge, framed glasses, the hint of a smile, and an aura we knew we would love to bits.

It’s next to impossible not to love a darling like her. Word went around that the optional phonetics professor was the new love in town! Class after class, we had stories to share, eventually ending up her being referred to as a doll. She showed us how you could enviously age with all the grace in the world. She shared her love for cats with us, made it a point to remember the tiniest of details about us, and above all, made us total fans of her particulars, which could easily have backfired as irritating.

To start with, her darling highness arrived in a cab which drove her from her home 30 KMs away from our University. She would wait outside her cab until someone came to collect her bag and walk her to class. You had to hold her bag at precisely 90 degrees; no tilts. She would hand over her bag like she knew she was granting a desperate wish of yours. If you think she was being pompous, know this, we stood in line to hold her bag, sometimes raced to hold it first, so we could talk to her on the way in or out, to get more of that cuteness. While chalk powder would ruin her hair-day and she hated it for that, we still found a way around. Her classes were worth pining for, and she made sure we loved them each day the same, or more.

She had special ways of addressing us, a way that made us love our names all the more…The ‘Mr. Chatterjee'(with an ‘I know what you’ve been up to’ look), ‘Ameena’ (as opposed to ‘Amina’), ‘Deboo Rooyy’ (‘Deboo Roy) and of course, I always loved how she called me ‘Tisha John’ with that emphasis on the surname. She eventually also started calling me ‘Kehaar’, which was the name of a character in a book/movie I had to do for her presentation. Needless to say, I loved that too.

She made us pine so much before she finally brought us an old photograph of hers (always referring to her younger self as ‘when I was young and beautiful like you’ and enacting an hour-glass figure action simultaneously). She gave us stories of sharing tea with Noam Chomsky in a ‘dirty little restaurant in Hyderabad’. Her scariest nights were those when she had to go to bed without her dinner juice due to the thunder which scared her or when her cab driver took ill and a new one was assigned, all without a prior 24 hours notice to her. Of course, we loved her more each time she shared these, and waited until we opened the cab door for her highness, eyeing the poor, replacement driver with distrust for what clearly was not his fault. She also took compliments like a pro when someone commented on how pretty her pearl necklace or shawl looked. Our ma’am would run her fingers gracefully over her pearl necklace, give us a flash of that magic smile and reply, “I know”.

One of the best memories of her I would take home was the pure joy I saw on her face while she watched a small intro to the animated movie, Watership Down, I played as part of my presentation. She positively looked annoyed when I stopped playing it to continue with the presentation. I remember running after her to ask how I did and she told me coyly, ‘I gave you a good score’. I was left trying to define her ‘good’. She gave me an 18/20.

She loved to toy with us as much as we loved to toy with her. We loved her maid Johnson, whom we never got to meet. We loved to pull her leg asking whether we could meet her at her home and her highness would generously invite us over to a posh club near her home. Treats on her.

We heard stories, sometimes even beyond class hours, of her cat, April, of her life in the UK as part of her Ph.D., and of the number of men she turned down without a second glance!

She was a darling, we loved her as much as she loved us. The one professor whose classes we rushed to reach on time, the one class we loved to sit down for, the stories that never lost their charm even on their nth narrations. Her basic-model mobile which she would lift carefully to answer, her annoyance with promotional calls/messages, her refusal to change her tattered bag, her magic smiles, her clever silences, her innocent woes on life…oh the list is listless! Her age never posed a difficulty for us to connect with her. While she was a legend in her field, we loved her even more for the beautiful person she was.

We remember people not so much for their accolades and ranks, as much as we do for the way they made us feel. For the person she was to us, how she made us all feel, I owe her this one.

Dr. Priya Hosali, we love you. We’ll miss you.

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Mistaken Prayers

I’m at the airport, it’s 4 in the morning and I’m in a weird state of mind. Also, I have a solid 5 hours to spare until my flight arrives. So why not use the time to make the thought-to-pen transition for what’s going on in my mind right now?

Ever since I changed my life to Hyderabad, vacations have been fat and nice, but I also couldn’t wait to get back to my Hyderabad. Except now, except this vacation. What changed?

There were times, and too many to count, where I would look at any given photo of Jesus at home and bicker about my siblings, and for not making me the eldest so I could boss over them. I would scowl at the photo and point fingers as though to say, “Hey God, this is you, this hell I am going through ’cause of my siblings? It’s all You!” I have grown up since then, but the fights and teasing haven’t, but I no longer pout or scowl at Jesus or his photo. What changed?

There are so many reasons I could point to for this, and yet, not one would be perfect.

I was 7 or 8  YO and in-charge of babysitting our little sister for the night, yet I would be found sleeping beside her, and she, hardly a year or two, sitting clueless as to how she’s supposed to take care of her ‘ticha chechi’. I was a pure rascal. So basically, being the biggest chocolate fan in the family, mommy had to take extra measures to protect sweets in the house from my greedy hands. And yet, I still managed to steal them by making fake promises to my brothers about volunteering to play cricket with them. They fell for it. Always.

There was a tight tension today. Everyone wanted to speak their mind, tell each other how much we’d miss everyone. Tony (my elder brother) was leaving for the US for a solid two years in the least. We all stood there, awkwardly hiding how much missing each one carried. My Our little sister is 16 YO now and managed to slip back the tears that rushed to her eyes. We wanted more. More time, more of each other.

I’ve been told time and again of how my second elder brother ( oh btw, we are four siblings. Yes, that’s huge and deep!) would get a doll, name it after me, take care of the doll, and put it to bed before his bedtime. In short, his 3-4 YO self convinced himself that he could find his little sister in the doll as a compensation for missing her. I’ve even seen an old video of his toddler self making an open prayer to God to guard his little sister (me). Today, he addresses me with everything that comes under the animal kingdom. ‘Sibling things’, I know.

 

I could open an entire album to narrate the then and now’s. I could make a good deal of these 5 hours. But will that resolve this tight knot? Isn’t it ironic in a lot of ways? We would fight each other like it was a world war there, and today, those same 4 siblings would more than be glad to have that kind of time on our hands again. Raising the 4 of us, with our kind of temperaments under a single roof was no cake walk. I regret the times I stomped out because “siblings are too much”. Because of days like today.

 

It’s not easy being family when all you wanted to do was create a ruckus and kill the whole notion of peace for your parents. But it’s also not easy being family when you miss each other so much and get only so much of measured time to be together.

Today, I would happily exchange all my Zomato’s with being fat-shamed by them. I would be grateful for every day we could spend together. We all would.

So yes, as much as I am woven to Hyderabad, returning now has become an effort. The effort to tell myself that there’d always be another vacation such as this.

I prayed so much to grow up when I was a kid, and I think God was too biased to my prayers. Part of me now wants to go back. The body says you are 24, but what about the 10-YO in me that’s still fresh like the scenes out of a movie?

Change is so hard to embrace, so frigging huge. From being the kid to a helping hand, from hating siblings to missing them, from mistakes to decisions, and from prayers of riddance to acceptance of time. And honestly? At the rate it’s happening, I’m scared. So damn scared…

 

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Confessions of a ‘Corporate Employee’

I kept my pen down, handed over my final answer sheets, and paced up to grab my bag. I made sure I peeked into the neighboring classroom, stuck out my tongue at my friend for still writing and walked away from college life. Only, I didn’t.

The last semester was a race. I signed up on job portals, attended interviews, turned down offers and turned red at those that rejected me; until I got the huge campus placement. I was, yes – “settled”. Have you ever lost out on a race and saw the winners a decent pace ahead of you? That is how I feel with my life now- it’s growing, running and settling into a place the other half of me shyly refuses to be. So ask me what am I doing and I’d have my automated reply- I’m working now. How is it? It’s really exciting. And so it is and the people there. So what exactly am I cribbing about? Sit, let me explain.

My problem is this college-to-corporate transition. My problem is the glee I come home with on some days and the frown I wrap myself into on other days. My problem is the solace I find in my pillowed tears and the thrill each project brings me. Do I know which of the office smiles to take home? Don’t I have to start from scratch and find my ‘home’ here, my ‘person’? My problem extends to the state of being a college kid in a corporate world and being forgiven for it. The anguish I feel at my incompetency is only marred by my ever-patient colleagues and leaders. But is that enough?

I have to hunt for residence and be turned down for being a woman, and that too a single woman. The times I’ve longed for the free and restriction-free residence at home could probably outnumber the potholes in our country. The rage at having forgotten to buy salt when I beamed at the cashier for the 20 items in my bag is only coupled by how clueless I am at feeding myself. The transparency of my mess is reflected in each thought that seeps through from two months back. The shopping for formals is paralleled with the attraction to the kids’ section. I shop with my phone in hand so I can call mommy for every food item I get stuck at; The voice at the other end is ever earnest.

I lie to myself every day. I lie and promise to grow up with the next sunrise and I intently extend this luxury.

I hunted so much to find my flat and today, as comfortable as it gets and my flatmates, I manage to find faults. Until I figured out my problem- I miss my University. HCU was Hyderabad to me, HCU was my home here and I couldn’t envisage to give myself a second home here, much less, one that was not right next to those magical 2400 acres. They can make you a graduate, but can they ever un-home the place for you? Can they ever make you prepared for the heavy goodbyes? How do you stop being a student with one exam?

Where do I find all my answers? When will I settle down? When will I fear less to sleep alone and with the lights off? How do I grow up and out of student life? Don’t tell me to take it one day at a time – I tried taking each second. Don’t tell me it’ll be fine, I know that too. Tell me how to make this jump. Show me how to treat the office library as my office library and not another hideout for my college days. Teach me how to not whine ‘I don’t want to go to college today’ still. I have to fend my way out, I have to hunt my home in office, I have to stop going ‘home to HCU’ every day when I have already rented out a flat. How do I be an alumni and not a student? How do I stop going green at my juniors?

Corporate life is not the devil I had heard it to be, but this transition is. This whining is; this fear, pain, and childhood is.

This is my today, and like all hopeless optimists, I place my period here with unaccountable hopes of looking back to this blog and the days it speaks of as a phase, as a lesson.

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Another boring Saga…

Her name’s Priya Joyce Rajan and for the weirdest of reasons, she chose to call herself ‘Piya’ or ‘Pia’ and insisted on scribbling the same on my hands. Oh and yes, I met her when? during my Under Grad days at BCM.

If you think this is another one of those boring  posts where one friend goes gaga over her/his friend and reminisces their old times together now that they don’t actually have to be with each other, well yes dear…this is precisely one such post. So don’t grumble that you didn’t know.

Well, now focusing on my blog and more importantly  on Ms. Pia  (respecting her current Facebook profile name), let me follow tradition and take you to day 1.

So day 1 in black and white: she’d worn a kurta in the morning and by the afternoon class she came to class wearing a churidar and madam me instantly judged ‘ oh! her audacity to wear two different dresses to class in one day! these hostlers! and of course, she is a show off!’ ( I inadvertently made monkey faces at her in my mind) but little did I know the reason why she changed clothes or that  Ms.”Pia” would turn out to be one of my most dearest of friends, one of the lot I’d still want to discuss the most random topics with when I’m 60+.

We connected over the obvious – someone broke up with another and someone was very ‘heart broken’. The 2 years that followed were priceless. She was one of them that made me look forward to college. She was the listener in our group. She demanded my awe and I willfully gave. She had my back then and we still do for each other, be it a social media attack or thrashing an ex. We evolved into that beautiful thing called FRIENDS. Shared our creases and our smiles, was each other’s strength and critic. We feared and loved her ‘chicken curry’ for the way it, ahem “united” us, we would walk through  a ‘heartbreak’ and be there for the other 24/7 but also wage a war as to who gets the chicken leg – oh off topic: am I stepping on a taboo when I talk about crushes and relationships? I’m sorry, I confess to the above being a lie and that all Indians are my brothers until wed to one chosen by parents and relatives, some of the latter whom I never knew existed.

Life’s no darling fairy tale and we had to part – momentarily. My joy knew no bounds when my girl took a seat at Oxford University. She’s in London now and I’m here. Like true friends, we don’t greet each other with ‘ I missed you’s but it fills my heart with immense joy when I see on Skype that she’s as fat as I am now. Oh please! do you know how happy she is because I now wear glasses and still manage to miss out on who’s standing in front of me?! She’s as bad as me, or to be true, even worse.

There are times I miss you bad, Priya. The times when I could meet you everyday and hear you pronounce “njangl” as “nungl” and gleefully correct you; the times when we talked those free periods and chai sessions about ‘serious stuff’; the times when I had you and you, me to confide in, each day at college… but nothing stays still, at least not the days we never want to end.

You’ve been to me a sister, a support system and very importantly, one of ‘my people’. If you are trying to figure out why I wrote this and that too now, I miss you. Big time.

You’ll always be in my life and I want to, in yours, for I’m never letting this friend ebb away.

P.S : I’ll always be glad you are as fat as me!

 

 

 

 

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Something I learned away from home…

I was with Pappa at a hotel room the night before I got admitted at the University of Hyderabad. I was crying and begged Pappa to take me back home. I wept, “Pappa, I don’t wanna stay away from home. There are enough colleges back home no, why can’t I do my P.G there? I could stay home and learn. I could stay with you, mommy and Tina. I don’t wanna stay away from home Pappa. I hope I don’t get admitted here.”

Pappa gave me a helpless look. Could he grant me my request? Could he deny me? Thank God I’m not a parent now. I will deal with that later.

So this drama was almost a year ago. The next day, we went to HCU and I got admitted.   Forgive me if this counts as bragging, but I fell in love with the campus after my first walk there. A little voice in my head spoke : Tisha, maybe you might wanna leave home for this?

I did. Today, almost a year later, I am two semesters old at HCU. As I type these words, I am home for our 2-month old sem break. I already miss my uni.

True, it sure is nice to have home-made food, especially the one mommy makes. It sure is fun to wait for Tina to return from school and tease her and listen to her lamentations of how hard life is for a 15 year old “these days”. It is nice to sit and watch my parents win mock arguments against each other. It feels warm to be with family and meet up with old friends.

But somewhere a part of me miss being unable to not be home. A part of me miss HCU. I do not know what I will do next year this time.

There is one person who owns a huge chunk of this pie. My elder brother.  A year ago, I would’ve dropped trying for HCU had it not been for him. The only reason I checked for updates, the only reason I tried contacting HCU officials when I missed my first counselling session, was to pacify my brother. He was more concerned about this than me. Let me bask if I made another sister a little envious somewhere.

There is something HCU taught me, something I learned away from home. The same girl who cried for home a year ago, today miss the place she prayed not to be admitted to. And I’m thankful I tried to please my brother a year ago…

 

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