Third thoughts

I have a lot of time to think about writing now. I also have a narrow window of emotional availability. Don’t be surprised if I call! Third thoughts is where the rich material is. I’m digging there.
Allow me to illustrate: When I learnt about the samaadhi system as a child, I was fascinated.

1. How admirable that someone could have that kind of determination and dedication.
2. What if (s)he changed her/his mind? What if (s)he started banging on the rock/door (?) and shouting in panic and nobody heard?
3. What if they did hear and didn’t let him/her out to protect the image? What if the invested powers stood guard at the samaadhi for a pre-calculated number of days to make sure the saint did not escape?

From what I know about the world now, the last is more likely to happen. Epiphany about religion. It’s one of the best things I like about my upbringing. We were not brought up in religion. We were aware of a higher power but it’s representative on earth and chosen vessel of manifestation was my mother’s right palm. For an omnipresent god, in charge of all known and unknown creation, he seemed overly concerned with whether I obeyed my mother or kicked my brother.

Some author, I think it was Neil Gaiman, said somewhere that when you have the courage to write out what makes you uncomfortable in your head, that’s when you are close to good material. I paraphrase, but I hope you get what I mean. It’s one of the things I worry about — what will my parents, family and friends say if they know how my mind actually works. How unsentimental it is. How poor in romance. It’s what I ask my writer friends: How do you camouflage the characters?

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2013, I’m coming to getcha

So. We’re surrounded by babies and it’s troubling me. In the back of my mind (in my mother’s voice), I always thought I would feel differently about procreating when I reached the other side of 30. Now I’m nearly 33, surrounded by charming children whom I love being mimmie, maushi, aunty and aatyaa to but I don’t feel like having any. I’m starting to panic. And then I realise that I am starting to panic because I didn’t believe I could be right. I am not by biggest supporter.

The only way I can rationalise this is as much as I love food, I never cook. Why fuck up a dish you love and enjoy? Again, I am not winning any brownie points with myself. If I have to be a pleaser, you’d think I could start with myself.

So anyway, 2013. A month in. Just in time for my jayanti. I actually ticked off a lot off my last year’s list without intending to. Turns out if you write something down, you mentally push into the conscious part of your brain. I wonder if anyone else has noticed this. Maybe I should write a book.

So this year, I’m making another set

1. Don’t worry about money
When I intended to become Financially Secure, it’s was not the inflow of money I need to worry about. That is plentiful, as evidenced by the shoe collection. I need to stop worrying about when it’s all going to go away. Or where the next cheque is coming from, in the current circumstances. Deeper still, I have to address my feelings about stuff.
Stuff does not make me happy. When I get stuff, I feel a stab of guilt coupled with a slap of self-loathing. I don’t get the ‘I deserve it’ high, nor the ‘I am worth it’ feeling ; just a little ‘Look what I found’ strut.
I’m not in debt, nor do I shop at the cost of savings. I am actually very good with planning finances. I should allow myself to feel happy about the pretty. And love self flagellation a little less. Which brings us to…

2. Give yourself a break
I have a terribly good memory in a personal context. So I remember every tiny mistake and the smallest of humiliations, and have long scathing talks with myself all day. It’s got to stop. This year, I say sorry, shrug and move on. Unless your child fell on its head on my watch. May I push a human being out of my vagina so that you could drop it on its head? No matter how remorseful I am, no one takes me up on this offer.

3. Let her have a massage
I am sensing a theme here. I think massages are a waste of money. I’m not a salon regular goer. It bores me so much that I even procrastinate depilation. It’s part of my charm. I won’t spend 600 bucks on a massage (which I need because I run and I sit at a desk for long hours; and I like the gentle but firm touch of East Indian girls on my ankles and the conspiratory ambience) but I have no problem springing that amount four tees. No more.

4. Talk to me
A lot of this would go away if I had conversations with myself. Sometimes, I think if I tell someone about my intent (“That’s it, no more sugar for today”), I think it is done. I don’t need to tell others, I need to tell myself. Nicely. I’m going to pretend I am Golden Retriever. I’d never be able to say no to a massage if a Goldie asked.

5. Write for fun
Though I love writing for fun, it is still “content” with an intention. Write when there is no pay per word. You know what that means.

Wondering

1. So in Tushar’s household, they make this awesome kheer. It’s immovably thick on account of reduced milk, condensed milk, ghee roasted almond slivers and vermicelli. It’s angel semen. Wouldn’t it be awesome if biofluids could be engineered to taste yummy? You Stanford, MIT-wallahs, are you on this?

2. I have a business idea. Ganpati is big right? You’ve seen the pandals. There’s a Subhashchandra Ganu, a baby Ganu, headlines Ganu. I sense an opportunity. Dashboard accessories — chattri, havan pind, scroll, mouse, turban, crown, etc. Different figures — student Ganpati, scribe’s Ganu, long-distance traveller Ganu, gunning down terrorists Ganu. Different costumes. Who’s got China on speed-dial?

Documenting how thoughts run in the editorial

Fuck man, it’s such a boring day.

Ya man. Why is it so boring today?

Is it because the weather is so great outside and we’re stuck inside?

Ya man, it’s so great outside.

Who do I have to sleep with to have this weather every day of my life in Bombay?

Zeus!

Zeus? Why Zeus? Doesn’t he wield a thunderbolt?

Ya, but you should sleep with Zeus man.

Zeus sleeps with everybody.

Ya, but you should sleep with him and get a child and then he’ll be like a demi-god and everything.

And he’ll have an epic written about him?

Ya!

I can be in a play? They’ll be a play written about me?

So you have to sleep with Zeus to get a role? That’s the original casting couch?

Change in profession

I may have mentioned before that I speak in my sleep when I am exhausted. Sometimes I sit up. So TB is watching something in bed and turns around to find me wide-eyed and grinning. He raises his brow questioningly.

Me: (smacking the pillow, and in an indignant voice) I’m not reporting. Why should I report. I’m not reporting.

TB: That’s right. You’re not a reporter.

Me: Ya! I’m not a reporter. I don’t report.

TB: You’re a model!

Me: Ya! I’m a model!

And I go off to sleep.

My life, currently

Phone rings.

Me: Bol ma.
My mother: Kai-nai. Asasch phone kela. Kay chalay? (Nothing. Just called. What are you doing?)
Me: Nothing much. Just realized I have finite time in this universe and I shouldn’t waste it second-guessing my decisions or fighting with Tushar. Someday he’ll be gone too* and I don’t want to have any regrets. There’s this book idea I have and I’ve been thinking that I’d rather live an inward than outward existence. Also, I realized that all matter is merely energy condensed to a slow vibration, that we are all one consciousness experiencing itself subjectively, there is no such thing as death, life is only a dream, and we are the imagination of ourselves.
Amma: Chhan, chhan (That’s nice). When are you having a baby?

***

“Tushar is so witty. He doesn’t speak much, but when he does, he just hits the bull between the brows.”
Tushar: This kebab is overdone.
“Hahahaha!!! This kebab is overdone!”
Me: Miss Dubai there has an audience.
“Hahaha!!! He called that fake blonde with the tight clothes Miss Dubai!”

* This is highly unlikely. Tushar’s genes will ensure he outlives me. In my habitat, the dhansak in the freezer will outlive me.

Official work

We’ve just discovered that we can have our personal philosophy printed on our official business cards. We’ve been discussing it.

Namrata Bhawnani (Film critic and travel editor): Paisa phek; tamasha dekh.

Vishwas Kulkarni (Art critic): Shame is like pain. You only feel it once.

Me: I will expose if the role demands.

Kevin Lobo (Night life and music correspondent): Mein randiyo se baat nahin karta.

Reema Gehi (Wet behind the ears. Theatre correspondent): I’m cool. I’m hot. I’m everything you’re not.

SM (Features editor, published writer): Ja, ma chuda.

Projects that lasted a day

1. My dad was never big on imparting his “culture” to us, much to our handicap. When people ask why we’re matriarchal, he says marriage to a g***** is unconditional surrender. Now I speak to him in Gujrati and he answers in Marathi.
But that Thursday night in 1989, AS was staying over and my loving, malleable father thundered: “Fruit of my loin! Thou shall learn Gujarati! Tomorrow we commence your training at 9 am sharp! Okay, 10 am.”
My brother was harbouring adolescence in his room and learning Gujarati was not going to help him further his career as a GI Joe.
So me and AS gathered in the morning in front of my cupboard. The doors were painted black so that I could draw and play teacher-teacher on it.
My father wrote out the alphabet and the numbers one to ten. We copied them down studiously and repeated after him. Then we broke for lunch and he suspended lessons for a nap.
We went out to play hopscotch. He never mentioned the lessons again, even though I wrote about them in a composition on ‘How I Spend my Fridays’.

2. During the 1991 Gulf war, we (mother, brother and I) were sent back to India for a few months, like many other Indians. That was a tragically wrong move because those were the best days to be in Bahrain.
Destruction was imminent so life was tuned to Full Swing — there were random days off from school, US troops brought excitement, shops went on sale and when we came back, everyone had these really cool Gulf War tee-shirts.
We landed mid-term in Navi Mumbai and my parents were keen on us continuing our CBSE education. The only school was in Nerul, three towns away from Vashi, where we lived. It only had classes up to Eighth grade and my brother was in Ninth. My parents didn’t want to separate us as I couldn’t travel alone.
So they enrolled us and we got brand new uniforms. A tie and belt would seal our admission. I was really excited about them because 1. I had never worn a tie before and it looked very official 2. My skirt kept falling off.
But by the end of the day, my parents decided that it would not do for my brother to lose a year, nor for us to be separated.
That’s how I was in ApeeJay school for one day.

3. 1994-1995 was a bad year for concentration. Over every class, ever conversation gathered dark clouds booming the importance of Board exams. They thundered stress and guilt. Everyone was fine-tuning their approach to distinction. I found I could “study better” if I went to the terrace in the evening. Between reading chapters and drifting off, I caught sight of birds flying right to left.
I would study their patterns, I declared to my rapt inner audience. Present a paper on them after my board exams were done. Look, they only fly out in pairs! No they don’t! They head only in one direction! I could count them and see if they number tallied over days! They might be a rare, undiscovered species! My life had a purpose! Up yours, Board Exams! The inner audience stood up to applaud.
I forget to go up next evening.

He wins

Me: I can’t do this anymore. I’m going to quit.

Namrata: Go go, you can be a housewife.

Me: No, that’s too much work. I want to be a kept woman.

Vishwas: Yah man, that was my plan. I’d hook up with an investment banker. Get up in the afternoon, go for a swim, then go shopping for a nice dress. Then six to eight, we’ll fuck. Then we go out for a party in the new dress. Look where I’ve landed. From Prada to MHADA.