Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Proses And Verses

Naked 

She was running free.
Bare and naked,
Across boundaries, maps and fences
Butterflies followed her dances
The birds, her homelessness... Read more






Prose: Naked



She was running free.
Bare and naked,
Across boundaries, maps and fences
Butterflies followed her dances
The birds, her homelessness,
Rivers, trees, moors, moons
Hugged her bare skin in ecstasy

Until,
She reached the no-man’s land
where
a piece of cloth was hurled at her
feet tied up with strings
ears and nose pierced to give
the identity she must carry,
the identity to look beautiful
the identity to become the one who she never aspired to be;

Now lying under loathed bundle of cotton threads
her freedom is tied forever.
She longs to run wild,
free of identity,
free of bonds,
free of clothes,
once again
stark naked!!





Wednesday, 7 September 2016

Live Life, Queen Size

(Written for my friend, Asha, who is currently putting up a tough battle against fourth stage Cancer.)
___________________________________________________________________________

    [Image coutesy - beauco.com]

Asha is not keeping up well. Any of these days could be her last. Dressed in a yellow tee and petticoat, she is hardly able to hold her lean and tender body all by herself and rests it against the love of her life, her man, who sits beside her all day long, all night long, stroking her hair with caress, just like the way he must have done when they met the first time. The more his gentle fingers move through her hair, the more she cuddles herself in his lap. There are no words of exchange between them. No tears. No complaints. No parting hugs and kisses. Just a sense of deep love which they will hold for each other forever after, a feeling that even death will not let them part with.  

****

It was exactly one year ago, in one of these monsoon months, that I first met Asha during our evening walks in residential apartment lawns. Young damsels and aging ladies matching each others’ stride with swift paces and connected to each other with one common perennial cause – “How the hell do I lose weight?” We’d hardly moved some fifty steps ahead when suddenly merciless rains hit us and creating a big hullabaloo, everyone began running around with double rate of knots to look for the nearest shelter. Except for four crazy women who had ditched their sports shoes, cell phones and wristwatches to look up right in the face of sky and taste the bountiful showers that had already begun soaking them from head to toe, torrentially. It was us! Drenched, dancing in rain and laughing at each other! That evening, the relentless downpours got four girls connected with the petrichor of friendship. Who knew that for one of them, this could be her last walk in the earthly rains?

A month later, Asha had begun complaining about her backache. On our walks, she would request us to bring our pace down so that she could match with our walking tempo. We kept cheering her up to take stock of her health by increasing nutrition supplements until one day she suddenly broke us the fearful news of carcinoma growing upon her in fourth stage.

Even before the news would sink in our minds, she’d invited us for a coffee over a karaoke night at her home. We were amazed! This is certainly not the way the big-C news is meant to be broken. Dipped in cappuccino froth? Humming a Bollywood song on microphone? Dancing along with her husband? Had this woman lost it completely? Or, is the entire family nuts?

Over the next few months, Asha proved she was indeed a little beyond nuts to be fighting the big battle with such bravery and stealth that it certainly fell beyond the forte of a human in flesh and blood. She was not just an ordinary warrior.

After every chemotherapy, she took a stroll at the beachside with her man, hand in hand, watching the sun set romantically behind frothy waters. With every strand of the hair she lost, she flaunted her latest stock of printed scarves and gave us hands-on tutorials on our much besotted requests on how to wear it Afro-style. At one point, she’d laughingly remarked why she ever wasted huge sum on re-bonding her hair when all it took was a shaved head and a silk scarf to make her look drop dead gorgeous? With every blood platelet that her body was giving away, she was spending meaningful time with her friends sitting beside the fountain pond in the green lawns, now that she could not walk much. A sanitizer, a mineral water bottle and a mobile is all she ever carried in the name of constant companions.

With every passing month that got her weaker, she was looking towards life with even more gratitude, love and admiration.

Time flew by. We kept meeting on and off.

And one day, I was told I must see Asha while it is still time.

*****

I walk inside her immaculately done home. Her bedroom is lit dim. I take a look around and see every nook and corner decorated with artifacts and embellishments that must have been picked after a thousand deliberations of an expert aesthetic eye. The décor is free of clutter and completely sorted, just like how Asha has always been. Too much water retention has left her face and body swollen while she barely manages to see us through her puffed eyes. Her tender hands have several bruises of repeated blood transfusions that she undertakes every fourth day. Her salt and pepper hair has grown back after an ineffective Chemotherapy having been stopped in the middle of treatment. Medicines are no longer useful to her. Yet, there is a faint smile on her lips when she sees us. The smile that mocks the tyranny of poor death playing on her frailty, but not being able to conquer her free spirit!

Asha doesn’t talk much and prefers to rest in silence. There was a time she would  find it ridiculous to keep giving unnecessary explanations to foolish visitors who came to sympathize with her or who made her feel weak by reminding what she’s going through. However, she’d still call for some of us. But today, she’s too weak to figure out who has come to see her. I wish she would jump off from her bed and ask me to pick up mic to sing her a karaoke song for her or insist me to write a long essay on her wild travelling experiences or take me to a tour of her terrace garden, every plant of which she has groomed like her little babies.

I wish, like always, she asks me how she looks so that I could tell her that earlier she looked just beautiful and now she even looks brave. She may appear pale and weak but her fighter’s spirit has put Oncologists who’ve given up on her to embarrassment. She may have to bear intense physical pain but she’s still a source of strength to everyone around her. Like a warrior in the dark, she resonates with her name’s true meaning – the ‘hope’ to live, love, dream, dare, inspire, and all with such bravery that puts even death to shame. If that is not a celebration of life, what is?


The night is deepening for those who are sure of their next morning. For the warriors who are putting up a fight all night long, this one moment is all they ever wanted. No one can stop them from making the most of it, not even the horror of an impending death. In the end, it’s not the years in life that counts but the life in years that does. A lesson Asha wants us to learn, a little hard way though. 

Thursday, 30 June 2016

20 Signs That You Don't Give A Hoot About Fashion

[Originally published on The Huffington Post, 29.05.2016]

[Image via Getty Images]
To a woman who is a fashionista, my wardrobe might look a tad boring. That does not mean that my lifestyle is! In my growing up years, between books, hobbies, friends, family, a budding career and carefree chortles, everything else seemed to get into order except a stylish closet. Here's a teeny-weeny list of 20 things that indicate you might, like me, be a person with a "minimalist" taste in fashion.
1) You think a low-maintenance hairstyle is the best and anything else is a waste of time. Letting tresses fall loose, a ponytail or a bun is enough to last a lifetime. Curlers, straighteners, chic hairpins or bands are unearthed from the depths of your bottom drawer only as emergency measures for situations where decking up is compulsory.
2) Wearing glasses is just simpler than putting on contact lenses every morning, unless perhaps it's your wedding and the frames clash with the Kundan jewellery foisted on you lovingly by your mother. Why the heck must anyone trade comfort for style?
3) Your head spins at the thought of matching handbags with outfits. Two or three bags in safe colours and in a couple of styles are more than enough to fit at least 90% of occasions, thank you very much.
"Wearing glasses is just simpler than putting on contact lenses every morning, unless perhaps it's your wedding and the frames clash with the Kundan jewellery..."
4) High heels sound fascinating but despite owning a pair or two of them, there's nothing like slipping into comfortable shoes or slippers.
5) When you do decide put on high heels for a party, you end up regretting it within an hour or so as you totter and teeter around the room. Back at home, the first thing you do is toss them aside and thank the stars for the wonderful floaters you have waiting by your bed.
6) Your wardrobe is dominated by jeans (often in similar shades of blue) and ordinary t-shirts, with perhaps a few stylish dresses weeping with loneliness in a couple of hangers pushed to the side. Dressing up for an outing with friends means a loose shrug and a pair of sunglasses to add to the everyday ensemble, while a coat thrown on top comprises semi-formal wear.
7) Earrings, rings and neck pieces look best in a locker that you open up not more than once or twice in a year. On a regular day, a wristwatch (or maybe a bracelet coupled with your much-guarded wedding ring) is your only adornment.
8) But you aren't completely hopeless. Since wristwatches make it to your list, you might just have a collection of interesting dials!

9) Most of the accessories you've got in your treasure trove are gifts from family or friends. You think it's wasteful to spend money on trinkets.
"If some women paint their faces with all the precision of a Japanese miniaturist, you're more of a Jackson Pollock yourself."
10) A shopping expedition may include a long list of things, ranging from gourmet items to the latest bestsellers. But you'll be giving the make-up counter and trendy boutiques a pass.
11) You can just about figure out how to apply lipstick and eyeliner. You hear friends and magazines rave about various mousses and gels and concealers and primers but you're not so sure you could identify them in a line-up.

12) What's it with all those gazillion types of make-up brushes? If some women paint their faces with all the precision of a Japanese miniaturist, you're more of a Jackson Pollock yourself.
13) Oh, when you say an eye-liner, it's black you are talking about and when you say lipstick, you mean about three shades total in your vanity box.
14) Yes, you did watch a magical YouTube tutorial on make-up and decided to try it out. You didn't transform into Aishwarya Rai, but turns out you might have career prospects as the make-up technician for the local circus.

15) Soap and moisturizer are quite enough for your beauty regimen. Tonics, lotions, potions, eaus and parfums make you giddy, and not in a good way.
16) You're a nail nudist - no array of colours for you. And you can't be bothered to maintain long talons, even if you do admire them on other people.
17) Packing for a holiday is easy-peasy. You have a short and sweet list of items to carry which can be packed in minutes.
"You may have considered colouring your hair on occasion, but you've likely decided that a natural progression to salt-and-pepper in the right look for you."
18) You give blank looks to people talking about fashion brands like Prada, Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Chanel and likewise. This is the kind of conversation you have nothing to contribute to.
19) You may have considered colouring your hair on occasion, but you've likely decided that a natural progression to salt-and-pepper in the right look for you.

20) "Who has time for all this?" is your favourite justification for eschewing fashionable things you can't handle dexterously. Saying this makes you feel less guilty about thumbing your nose at fashion. Besides, you love that you can be so carefree

Sunday, 22 May 2016

“Hush, Hush! She Is Back At Cannes.”

For the last one decade, like dedicated patriots of the country, this year again we chased the newspaper’s international section to follow the fancy dresses Aishwarya Rai, Sonam Kapoor or Mallika Sherawat flaunted at the mighty 69th Cannes’ red carpet. Though we may or may not have a minuscule idea of fashion trending around the globe but opinionated that we are, we didn't let go of a single opportunity to discuss, praise and criticize the dressing sense of our Bollywood ladies at Cannes.

So much that conversations on Cannes Film Festival has almost begun to sound as drab and boring as the ensembles and make-ups of celebrities, barring a few.


[Picture courtesy: The Indian Express newspaper]
Recently when Sonam Kapoor wore a white gown by Ralph and Russo making the fashion analysts gawky with praise, somewhere a geeky scientist may have sat wondering how interesting a mopping invention it could have otherwise made? If Sonam was to walk around in my apartment corridors just once in a day wearing the mop, she’d have sent the entire team of sweepers for a ride. Alas! The pretty mopping device in white turned out to be a one-time wonder for cleaning up just the Red Carpet.

Suddenly, we saw entire Twitterati going crazy with amazing analogies. From dosa, to rumali roti, to waking up from bed with the bedsheet wrapped around, to  milk spilled on the carpet, her dress kept social media amusingly busy for days. As Sonam and her bandwagon heroines with flowing attires attended to Swachh Cannes campaign, I leave you to figure out how these ladies must have used rest rooms to relieve themselves? 



                                                                      [Picture courtesy: The Indian Express newspaper]
Meanwhile, our forever favourite Aishwarya Rai Bachchan once again grabbed the eye balls with her purple lipstick leaving us to wonder what breakfast was she served at the Cannes – maybe, a plateful of jamun or an overdose of black currant ice cream? Or maybe, she mistook her daughter’s colour palette for a lip tint? Or maybe, the fan inside her couldn’t resist trying out Japanese purple lipstick Joey used in the classic scene from one of Friends episodes? Some even believed she may have got kissed by a smurf a night before!!! Whatever the reason be, our queen of all things nice and beautiful, with her cool looks managed to get the nation’s attention distracted from summer’s soaring temperature yet again.



                                                                   [Picture courtesy: The Indian Express newspaper]
Somewhere in the hullaballoo of fashion madness, emerged a face that we’d almost forgotten to bits. Mallika Sherawat! Blue, white, plain, bare, bold or wear whatever, the nation wants to know her secret hideout for last one year? Without any single decent movie in her kitty or a fashion brand to brag about, she must be a superwoman to have cracked a meaty deal landing her to the prestigious glitterati of the Cannes.

And who wouldn’t? Isn’t Cannes the hottest selling cupcake for celebrities who wants to show their inevitable presence in the fashion world at a time when all eyes across the globe is set upon it? Deals, endorsements, connections and publicity are just bonuses in addition to a splendidly paid French vacation, near picturesque beaches, restaurants, cafés and boutiques of the Riviera.


Besides, everything that Cannes Red Carpet has to offer is little compared to the mystery and cheesy gossips that go behind making ones appearance at the red carpet become a subject of everyone’s talk for long time. When “Hush, hush, the girl is back!” is so worth the Cannes, why even think of the Can-nots!! 

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Running The Harrowing Race Of Nursery School Admissions



Don’t worry about your daughter’s schooling. Merit and talent never go in waste.

Those were the parting words from my kids’ previous school principal as we bid her adieu to step in the new city of Lucknow consequent to shifting of my work base upon an official transfer.

I’ve never had to worry about my kids’ schooling. They are smart and happy girls with nimble wits. Besides, they are just six and ten. The very age in which chasing butterflies, climbing trees, mud wrestling or smudging pastels are far more important than sitting under a lamp cracking a competitive exam.

I was wrong. I was, rather, proven wrong.

After running around from pillar to post to seek admissions for my two wards ever since the time we moved to this new city, all schools of repute here dreadfully disappointed us – “No vacancies in mid-term!”

Holla! NO VACANY in classes as lower as Kindergarten? Are they kidding me?  Is it an IAS seat that my five year old is competing for? Or is she running for a Mayor’s election with calculative number of chairs? Or an employment opportunity that may have limited vacancies?

Every year, January to March season looms like an impending horror to parents seeking admission of their tiny tots for admission to Nursery and Elementary classes in a new formal school. Poor kid fails to understand why suddenly his reading and writing has become so central to the parent’s being. Bribed with a chocolate or lured with toys, by hook or crook, the li’l fellow is convinced to work hard enough to be able to crack the labyrinth of school entrance exams or interviews. 

Even the millennial mommy who we might have seen as representing the new-age woman changes her avatar from a loving Maria Rainer to a strict Nanny McPhee. She doesn’t hesitate a bit to enroll her four year old in crash course coaching classes.

And why not? The hapless parents are themselves mortified to hell by now thinking of what misery may befall if their kid doesn’t make it to a prestigious school. Next what follows is visiting the school premise (or a dependable and updated website) day in and day out like it was some harebrained religious ritual. While the utterly appalled parents would have already struggled with curtness from the school’s pricey reception staff and security guards, consider them hitting jackpot in case they get to speak directly to the Principal, without any middleman.

Then comes the day when the school gates are sprung open for selling of admission forms. The day when media hovers over the varsity to get a front-page news and pictures of harrowed parents who’ve perhaps been waiting in queue, hours before dawn broke. Unshaven, dishevelled, half awake or sleepwalking, the only thing that runs in their mind is to get hold of that precious A4 size printed one-pager from school that they think can change their child’s destiny forever. Some smart ones come wearing sports shoes, wisely anticipating that any fine moment the queue may splinter and they may have to push, jostle, shove, snatch and madly run cutting through the mahakumbh of parents, before the school declares forms ‘all sold out’.

Subsequently begins the gruesome task of arranging tens of documents to be enclosed along with the admission form. Transfer certificate, migration certificate, birth certificate, catechism certificate (in case the school is a Catholic one), previous school’s mark sheet, parent’s qualification degrees, character certificate (What!! You didn’t know that a six to ten old could have a questionable character? You must be foolish!) and in some controversial cases, even a packet of crisp green stuff. Ah well, isn’t donation to school just a charity? Finally, why to forget the typical précis that parents are made to write in the form on topic, “Why do you want your child to get into ‘this’ school?”. Ha! No worries, there are hirable trainers available in the market to help parents deal with this tricky one.

All the needful list of to-dos noted and complied with, one still remains. Enter ‘jugaad’, the distinctive word in Indian context for fixing up anything not working out. The jugaad may be human, cash, kind, orison, power or politics and you never know, might just bring the ward a vacancy out of nowhere. Isn’t that amusing? Meant for highly desperate parents and contingent upon their good luck (read, powerful resources), everybody knows jugaad exists but can’t find where.

Well, while all this brouhaha is going around, the poor little Harry Potter and Hermione Granger who think of school as an interesting Hogwarts have no clue what lies ahead. They are made to practice writing pages after pages everyday and rehearse lines after lines by heart for the interview. On the d-day of their competitive exam, the palaver increases. Prayers, kaala teeka, chandan, last minute instructions and a long list of ‘how to sit, stand and behave’ in front of the interviewer, are passed by the parents.

Then come results! For those who couldn’t make it, it’s another similar and gruelling year of harassment ahead and for those who did, well, “Congratulations! Pappu paas ho gaya.”

This year, after a long over-due wait, both my little girls, one like a careless butterfly and the other like a quicksilver fish, will appear for their so-called formal school entrance exams. I hope I don’t make the mistake of forcing our fish to fly and butterfly to swim or make them both run the marathon race of my desperation. Just wish me luck!


____________________________________________________________

[ Originally published on Women's Web magazine, March 9th 2016]




Monday, 9 May 2016

Is It Enough To Celebrate Women's Day?

This article was first published on Women's Web on 08th March 2016, on the occasion of International Women's Day. Here's a reproduction of the article collected from the archives that makes sense not just on IWD but the whole year through. 
________________________________________________________________________
    [Image via shutterstock]
In the middle of an important official meeting, my mobile gives three continuous beeps. It might be important, so I pause and take a look – it could be one from a long distance colleague who is simultaneously and as aggressively involved in the annual HR appraisal process as I was, or from my parents staying far away from us, or from kids at home who may have wreaked havoc in absence of their utterly busy mommy.


But presto! It is a far more important message that runs like this – “Comfortable cotton salwar kameez for summer, with special discount up to 70% on Women’s Day… for women who deserve.”
I am aghast. For women who deserve? For heaven’s sake, which woman would not deserve to wear a comfortable cotton salwar kameez? Besides, nobody in the global advertisement world is concerned about my right to deserve ‘equal work equal pay’ but is very interested to help me buy a much deserving dress at a discounted rate on an impending Women’s Day!
Messages like this one suddenly remind me that 8 of March is once again around the corner and a lot more ‘deserving’ rewards are waiting for us women to cash on. Like there’d be one or two formal invitations to attend seminars on the rise of  womanhood, innumerable gift offers luring an otherwise forgetful husband to remind his lady love how special she is and a couple of events in the city calling for participation on emancipation of fairer sex in modern times.
Those who’d not be prepared enough for such heavy doses of intellectualism would alternatively be vying for get-togethers in the name of  IWD (that’s how gen-internet refers to the day) to chat, gossip, make merry over shades of lipstick and new wine, share vicious laughter and raise a toast to the new-age wonder women they think they are.
And that’s about it! Over and out! Beyond the furores, it is another ironical story that even if the entire elite gentry of this social fanfare are brought together under one roof, it would comprise a minuscule 7-10% of the population who celebrate the IWD.
It was in one in these happening women circles a few days ago, that a common friend needed help to lodge an official complaint against harassment and abuse by her former boyfriend. To our not so utter disbelief, she could hardly find any support from her uber-modern party friends.
Some claimed to be busy. Some did not want to indulge in someone else’s personal affairs. Some were fearful about handling the aftermath of being involved in a complaint. Some were suddenly remorseful about the girl’s inciting behaviour towards her boyfriend.
Whatever their reasons, her ‘much dependable’ female coterie conveniently managed to escape a chance to endorse and support women’s rights in true spirit.
The bubble of Women’s day celebration has but a fragile skin. One prick of a challenge and plop! It bursts. What can be more disheartening to note is that it is largely the women themselves who year after year and generations after generations keep bloating the water bubble with the futile air of gender discrimination.
A few days ago, when my neighbour was blessed with a baby and we rushed in to congratulate, her tempestuous mother-in-law uncannily interrupted, “Why a treat? It is her third girl child.” Even before we could get over her annoying statement, she butted in again to cajole the new mommy by saying, “Chalo, koi baat nahi…..jaisi jiski kismat?” Read (Hard) Luck!
I wasn’t as disheartened by her judgmental comment as I was about the fact that it came from another woman! It is certainly baffling why women act so foolishly sometimes. Instead of teaming up with each other for the benefit of us all, we wilfully fall in a self-dug filthy pit.
At ‘karvachauth’, don’t we raise our life partners on to a pedestal by fasting the whole day long and praying for their long life, as if our own is any less important? At ‘rakshabandhan’, don’t we again place our brothers a step above by seeking a pledge of protection from them, no matter how protective we ourselves might sometimes have been in raising them up? At a ‘kanyadaan’ don’t we often look for the eldest man in the family to pitch in on behalf of the bride’s widowed mother, thus depriving her of the privilege?
How unfortunate that a woman’s freedom to choose is devoured by what her close kin want her to choose. Like a career which is safe for her matrimony in future (whoever has heard of parents encouraging their girls to become wrestlers?) or the choice of dresses she must put on (short skirts is her invitation to wanting danger).
Even the right of reproduction is not her sole right. When must she bear her child? Who bestows legitimacy on the baby, by law? Can she reject her pregnancy? Must she surrogate? To bring her own baby to this world through her own body is not considered her decision but a collective moral pronouncement by the entire family.
It is not surprising that while some of us have the advantage in reading, commenting and celebrating Women’s Day ordeals, half of India’s as much worthy women warriors struggle day in and day out to meet their daily bread and butter – Working in open farms in some remote village. Labouring under the fearful sun carrying bricks on their heads while they build our houses. Doing our dishes and cleaning our homes to make them fit enough for celebrations. Some struggle to make it to school and some never do.
I’d rather think of Women’s Day remembering my old world grandmother who knew nothing of the international day but never missed a chance to stand up for our poor domestic help whenever her ruthless husband resorted to violence upon her. To an extent that at one point of time, the petite, skinny, seventy year old woman challenged a mob of fiery young men who were trying to outrage the poor girl’s modesty.
The idea is but simple – Walk the talk!
Until we get the majority of our women folk to be a part of the Women’s Day hubbub, it will remain but a mythical bubble created by the elite, privileged and happening people.
I will spend the day ditching chocolates, flowers and careless chortles in a party and instead remembering the inspiring women who have created a difference to women’s lives.  And you?

Thursday, 11 February 2016

Dancing Away The Blues




Attending an Indian Hindu wedding is like being a part of cast of a fully fledged Bollywood blockbuster. The show begins with thumping sound of loud music and ends with baraatis burning the dance floor hot. Who cares for the half bald men with fat tummies doing a belly move on a Katrina Kaif number or the overly dressed aunties (sometimes even more decked up than the bride herself) shaking their booties to a Daler Mehndi Bhangra rap. As long as songs keep playing one after the other, the entire floor…err…. roadside follows the musical command of the band, baja and baraat.

However, when you have a life partner who is not only coy about dancing publicly but is also unfortunately blessed with two left feet, all you are left is to either keep cheering the already half-crazy crowd with your claps or join them all alone while your poor ol’ man stares you from a distance returning unpromising smiles.

Well, by now you may have guessed that the discreditable dancing couple would be ‘us’. And this how our dancing-saga started some fourteen years ago.

While dating each other as fresh and young love-birds, soon to get married, we were offered to participate in a couple dancing contest at the district level. I haven’t still been able to figure out whether it was out of sheer excitement or out of sheer mockery of our inabilities to dance together that few of our seriously- thoughtful friends got our names registered without seeking our prior permission. When the idea was brought before us, we had but two choices. Either quit fearing a face-loss or face ignoring hoots and eggs!!

Attending an Indian Hindu wedding is like being a part of cast of a fully fledged Bollywood blockbuster. The show begins with thumping sound of loud music and ends with baraatis burning the dance floor hot. Who cares for the half bald men with fat tummies doing a belly move on a Katrina Kaif number or the overly dressed aunties (sometimes even more decked up than the bride herself) shaking their booties to a Daler Mehndi Bhangra rap. As long as songs keep playing one after the other, the entire floor…err…. roadside follows the musical command of the band, baja and baraat.

However, when you have a life partner who is not only coy about dancing publicly but is also unfortunately blessed with two left feet, all you are left is to either keep cheering the already half-crazy crowd with your claps or join them all alone while your poor ol’ man stares you from a distance returning unpromising smiles.

Well, by now you may have guessed that the discreditable dancing couple would be ‘us’. And this how our dancing-saga started some fourteen years ago.

While dating each other as fresh and young love-birds, soon to get married, we were offered to participate in a couple dancing contest at the district level. I haven’t still been able to figure out whether it was out of sheer excitement or out of sheer mockery of our inabilities to dance together that few of our seriously- thoughtful friends got our names registered without seeking our prior permission. When the idea was brought before us, we had but two choices. Either quit fearing a face-loss or face ignoring hoots and eggs!!

Without much mulling over, it was obviously was a big ‘No’ from my side until my partner, strangely the weaker of the two dancers, insisted that we take up the challenge. Not just the challenge of dancing but also the challenge to begin doing difficult and funny tasks together. After what he said with a charming smile, one and one was no longer two but eleven!!

As least that is what I’d thought until the time we began rehearsing. Despite meticulous planning, help from a trained jive performer and step-by-step demonstration like kindergartners on the song was “Itna na mujhse tu pyaar badha…” what seemed to turn out was anything but a perfect ballroom happy and boppy dance. Right in the first move trying to swing across, we bumped our heads into each other and in no seconds, he managed to knock me off giving me a swollen lump on my forehead. 

Love-birds don’t quit! Gathering my broken hopes and wearing the madly-in-love gleeful smile back, we continued rehearsing subsequent steps, only to end it up even more grouse. With every heroic knee lift that my man did, he ended up passionately stomping with all his might on my tender feet. The lyrics of the romantic number kept getting punctuated with moans, grumbles and oops-and-ouches!

By now, all my patient nerves were giving away and I couldn’t bear it continuing even few hours longer. Nevertheless, before we would start rehearsing the finale steps, I like a cautious wise girl, forewarned him about the “really serious” implications on our relationship that could follow, thus, dropping a hint for him to catch!

As the music rolled-on, there he moved towards me, in a poised and gentlemanly gait, neatly lifting me up in both his arms, looking right into my eyes, rocking me from one side to other on the beautiful, romantic lyrics of the old world and just when I was ready to tuck myself closer to him, suddenly his grip weakened, he stumbled and dropped me on the floor with a loud thud!!! In a flash of a nanosecond, there I was, the heroine of the show, lying flat on the ground and half-wet having dashed myself on a water jug kept nearby.

Before I could even gather up my lost embarrassment, I saw my partner dropping himself on ground next to me to give company and pouring the remaining water from the jug on himself to match my wet looks. He looked silly but funnily cute trying to make up for the heinous mistake he’d committed.

Our neatly planned out dance act had turned into a crazy fiasco, albeit a delightful one.  All my anger vanished with whoosh and we sat on floor laughing out loud for many cosy minutes, holding hand-in-hand and cracking-up at what had happened. Those few hours of happy moments were worth living a thousand years.

What followed for the next few days were rigorous rehearsals, sequential bumping, stomping and repeated falling down but laughing away our follies in each other’s joyous company. By the end of the week, we had prepared before us an imperfect but effortless ballroom dance. It may be called nothing if compared to the skills of dancing but an amazing experience of a free-spirited and doppy couple ready to take the world in their jumping shoes.

Unfortunately, the dancing contest was called off by the Organizers at the eleventh hour, thus, bringing our short stint to dancing at an abrupt end.

However, life had something even more beautiful in store for us. We got married soon after and for fourteen consecutive years down the line, we would jump in to be a part of dance in any and every of the cultural functions in our family or friend circle. Our close few know about the ‘few’ amateur steps that we’d together picked years ago and would not leave a stone unturned to rope us in.

Last night, when we were impromptu dragged on to a Wedding Sangeet stage by a distant relative, we unhesitatingly donned the floor with our half-forgotten jive moves, sometimes bumping and sometimes stomping but all in good taste. Burning the floor hot with dance is now just a matter of little laughter and of lots of love!

Difficult times, TV jokes, magazine clippings, social gossips or even routine arguments, it’s comforting to know that we can stay unpretentiously silly and happily maladjusted to each other’s weakness.

We learnt to dance like nobody’s watching and laugh like nobody’s holding!



_________________________________________________________

[This post is a part of #LoveAndLaughter activity at BlogAdda in association with Caratlane.]

Friday, 29 January 2016

How I Happily Grew Up With Glasses


“Twinkle twinkle little star, how I wonder what you are…” Brilliant nursery rhyme to begin with pre-school toddlers telling them that there are millions of tiny little stars up in the sky above that glitter on a clear night, making acrobatic constellations around a pretty ombre ball of moon. However, the much talented poet failed to imagine a large number of young readers who would be reading his poem with utter curiosity, but from behind thick concave or convex lenses resting on their nose and wondering why the stars twinkled less and spread more like a fearful patch of spread-out rays straining their poor eyes. I was one such reader. Welcome to the hazy world of the myopic few for whom stars twinkle either in a poem or through power glasses on the nose.
Why just stars? Wearing glasses ever since I started going to school, I can vouch how in absence of a pair, a dog looks similar to a pig, a donkey to a horse, a car to a jeep and one man to another. Let’s not even get down to birds. They all look like small black dots moving in the sky like a statistician’s colourless frequency polygon plotted on blank paper. Leave alone flying a kite which looks no different from a kite flying in the sky!
When in school, no matter how much I would squeeze my eyes or crease my nose, I would fail to read what the teacher put on blackboard and be easily be categorized either as a slow reader committing disastrous spelling mistakes, or as the Peeping Tom of the class whose one glance perpetually rested on the neighbour’s notebook. Every second adult I met, like an ophthalmologist, claimed to know the reason for my poor sight. Either I watched a lot of television or did not eat leafy green vegetables or was a studious bookworm! The reason would be anything crazy under the sun but that I was born with it.
Whether anyone liked it or not, I soon realized that glasses are like dresses. Wearing one all the time, except to bed, is mandatory.
History, however, has been particularly cruel to ones wearing spectacles. Isn’t it almost established by now that the loveliest of idols, Gods, actors, superheroes and famous paintings to admire have all been of characters who had a perfect six by six vision? In no possible way could Ram, Rahim or Christ be bespectacled, let alone their female counterparts? Even the fictitious Spiderman and Superman turned into their heroic avatar only when a poor sickly Peter Parker or Clark Kent did away with his thick black glasses. As if wearing one would have robbed them of machismo or have tattered their intelligence level? Sadly, in the mathematics of spectacles, wearing one is inversely proportional to looking hot or sexy. The calculation is easy. Thicker the lenses, uglier you may look!
Quite ironically, the life savior weapon of spectacles does not fail to invite nastily spectacular comments from few courteous nobles amongst us. Most bespectacled people in India would know what ‘chashmish’, ‘chaar aankh’ or ‘laaltain’ means despite these words figuring nowhere in the decency of Hindi dictionary. For those who didn’t get it right, the words are often commonly mistaken for a hello or hand shake with a friend in glasses! Besides, in every such prominent gathering there would be family or friends getting hugely attracted to glasses, so much that their overflowing love unabashedly makes them propose for your dearest spectacles, “Can I try yours? Just once.” Before you even nod your head in consent, they would have already moved a step ahead snatching it off your eyes and putting them onto theirs, only to return it the next moment with a whine, ‘Ooh! These are heavy. Gives me a headache.” How you wish you had said to them, “So do you!”
If only you could make them understand that the story of growing up with glasses is very personal and dear to our heart! It is about the umpteen numbers of times when you would forget where you last kept your specs and would run crazily to look for it in every nook and corner of the house until you got it back, and got it safe! It is about those fine moments of photography when sheepishly you would take them off to slide into your skirt pocket for one click and put it on again the very second it was over. And how sometimes there would be terrifically difficult moments of indecisiveness when you’d have to choose between getting out in the rains without glasses or keep standing under a shelter putting them on?
Nevertheless, changing times redefined the definition of carrying glasses, much to the respite of millions across the globe. Gone are the days when people gave serious consideration to laser surgeries for vision correction just to look good. With so many shades, frames and style to choose from the market, spectacles are no longer eye-gears but accessories making a crafty fashion statement. Full rim, half-rim, rimless, wayfarer, rectangle, cat eye or aviator, there could be one for every occasion. The old age plastic or metal have conveniently been replaced by light carbon fibre, titanium monel metal. Contact lenses of various varieties to choose from like soft, toric, hard, and daily, monthly, annually disposable, have sky-rocketed the eye business. The child of yesteryear who was taken to the local optician year after year to get a frame that looked tad boring and heavy, now hops from one Titan Eye Plus joint to some Lawrence & Mayo showroom to sitting at home PC browsing lenskart.com hunting for the latest trend and getting a pair customized.
Thankfully, not only things have grossly improved for the bespectacled but there has also emerged for them a vision beyond just the vision.
By the time I’d be wrapping up this article, it would be late up in the night and time for me to part with my most loyal friend. Before I jump into my bed, I make sure it lies within an arm’s reach, stays safe in the dark and is swathed in a cosy satin whole night long. And why not? Isn’t our relationship very precious, private and forever?


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...