Sunday, July 23, 2006

Affy birdie!

Sometime last evening this blog turned a year old.

I promised in my very first post to return to my journal every once in a while. And although it travels with me still, I've become increasingly unfaithful.

It was never a complicated affair. And the guilt has faded fast.
My new mistress has turned a year old and my trusted companion waits patiently for me with empty pages.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Flash 55

She loved being surprised by him.
Today it was something bold, bordering on obnoxious even, but delivered with such confidence that she could do nothing but gasp and let his magic sweep over her.
Tendrils of spicy seduction curled up towards her nostrils…

‘My compliments to the chef,’ she sighed, as she leaned back, satiated.

Written in response to this by BB from Dilettante.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

*looks over her shoulder and types quickly*

This morning my dad was reading aloud from the paper. He looked at my mom and said, Somika blogs doesn’t she? It seems that blogs have been blocked by the government now. And my mother’s eyes widened and she said, really…why? And then he replied, because apparently, terrorists have been using blogs to communicate. And then ma called out to me, did you know this?

I was in the kitchen making tea and listening, amused a little and angered a little that the entire issue was being reduced to that of curbing terrorism. It gives people the impression that the government is doing us all a favour. Look how safe and protected we all are now that access to weblogs has been denied.

So I raised my voice and said, yeah well, there are ways to work around the stupid block. And just because the government feels that a few blogs threaten national security and communal harmony, why did they have to go and block every blog in the country? It just proves incompetence and nothing else. A panicky government doesn’t instill much faith in its citizens. And I smiled at baba as I handed him his mug that says Insanity is hereditary, you get it from your children.

It’s a bit of a family joke when ma and I take digs at the GoI. With baba being a scientist for the defence, we have no clue as to what exactly he does. If he told us, he’d have to kill us, we recite before collapsing on the floor in a giggle fit. If ever we do go to his office (which we stopped after the very first time, when I was around two years old, I think), we’re asked to wait (outside the gate) until my father is informed (after he’s located, that is).
We have our own acronyms for all the departments and wings of the DRDO. And we crack up at our brilliant wit while he quietly asks himself how on earth he survives living with us.

He reasoned that the block must be a preliminary measure and that they’re probably filtering those sites they find offensive. And I had to point out that the very definition of offensive seems to be misconstrued in this case. Like the blog that’s an entire two posts long, written by an American college student. And the bulk sms gateway. Or the naxal news blog that posts stories from mainstream newspapers. So I made a list for him to check out on his own.

I believe that words are enough to intimidate. To outrage. To insult. To empower. And that’s precisely why free speech is necessary. To force someone into silence is a violation and nothing less.

So maybe all our blogs are threatening to the stability of the country. Perhaps my outburst about faulty autorickshaw meters and unfair systems has the government all hot and bothered. Maybe it was when I posted from Orissa about the plight of the adivasis. It could be that telling people what I see during my work in slums is actually top secret. Maybe demanding rehabilitation for communities displaced by development projects makes me anti-development and anti-national. I do remember complaining about my city’s infrastructure once.

Perhaps we’re all under scrutiny. I know they could find more dirt on my blog than poor Princess Kimberly’s.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Big brother-ing

Although I'm not very regular with my blogging, it's nice to have the option of sharing my musings every once in a while.

I wanted to post a little something today, but it appears that I've been intercepted.
In fact, we all have.

Details here.
Desipundit has updates.

And here's how to use the Right to Information Act to find out what's going on. (Even if it will take 35 days at best.)

Friday, July 14, 2006

Fifty five

She left with everything she called her own. With her chipped coffee mug. With their daughter. So he could start over.
Without them. Without any tangible trigger of a memory.

Later, she remembered that her giggly voice was still on the answering machine.
‘Sorry… we’re uh, too busy to come to the phone right now…’

Written in response to this by BB from Dilettante.
We've started a Friday rally of sorts. I'm tempted to keep this up.
Different takes in 55 words.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Always innocents

I’ve been frantically reading the news and posts and comments about the blasts last night.
I’ve been trying to call friends. I reached for my phone as soon as I got home and went through my address book. Alphabetically. Name by name. I was able to speak to some. Not to others.
I’ve been watching the death toll increase through the course of the day. The heavy ache that’s settled in my stomach feels uncomfortably familiar.
Always civilians. Always innocents.

I hope Mumbai’s spirit is truly as resilient as we hear. I hope the heart-warming acts of kindness shown in the last twenty four hours spill over, through the rest of the year. I hope I get through to those I still haven’t heard from. Just so they know that I’m thinking of them. Even if I don’t email as often as I promise. Even if we haven't seen each other for over a year. Two years, for some. Even if their numbers have been sitting in my address book all the while.
I hadn’t called until I started fearing for their safety.

I hope we all make it home safe this evening.

Mumbaihelp has regular updates.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Today's 55

He hung up after inviting her to the wedding.

It wasn’t really planned, he offered. His fiancée was in the country only for the weekend and she had a busy schedule. Sorry for the late notice, he said. I hope you’ll still make it.

I love you, she whispered to the static on the line.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Just one of the guys

The other day Harish called and asked me to go out with the boys. I had to decline, since the (few) girl friends I have were planning a night out. He offered to meet us wherever we were, boys in tow. And I said it was strictly women only. No significant others and no guy pals who might be tempted to hit on the rest of the girls.
‘Are you trying to avoid us?’ He asked, suddenly sceptical.
‘What? I love you guys. I just need to be with my girls once in a while.’
‘But you hardly ever go out with girls!’
‘My point exactly!’

For some reason, eyebrows shoot up when I declare that I need time away from a boys’ binge night. Even my parents are surprised when I announce that I need the car because it’s girls only and there won’t be anyone dropping me home.

But being one of the guys is uninhibited, ridiculous fun.
The long drives in a packed car, screaming songs out of the window, making up our own lyrics if we don’t know the words. The playful fist fights and meaningless curses when we disagree. The unexpected protective behaviour they take on if a stranger tries getting fresh with me. The embarrassing question and answer rounds that my parents put them through, which are brushed aside and laughed about later. The late night chai or phone call when one of them needs to talk about girl trouble. The lingo unique to the clique. Spit bubbles. The comfortable silences. Entire meals comprising only junk food. Burping contests. Waking them up on a Sunday morning to take me to breakfast. Sunday breakfast plans which eventually materialise into late afternoon lunches.
Coins on paper napkins placed precariously over a beer mug. Drinking the vile ash-beer mix by whoever loses the game. Bottoms up. Smiling with the coin glinting from between front teeth.
Of course I can never keep up. And although shouting philosophical discussions across a table full of liquid distractions with Bob Marley wailing in the background is most enjoyable, I like being a girl once in a while.
Once in extended, interrupted whiles, I suppose. Therefore the raised eyebrows.

And though they may complain about being excluded from a girls’ night when I’m included in all their plans, they do take complete advantage of my being a girl in their midst. Lingerie shopping and creative gift ideas for respective/assorted girlfriends? Take Chamique shopping. Struggling through a semblance of a love letter? Shomikin’ll write it! Spot analysis of when exactly the foot was carefully inserted into the mouth so as to anger respective/assorted girlfriends? Shamiska, what the hell did I do now? Bored and hungry and passing through the area at some obscene hour? Shanmugs, I’m coming over now…make me some pizza, will you?
And I love not having to worry about the zit on my forehead. Or my unwaxed legs. Or my runny nose dribbling onto a sweatshirt if I’m crying on a shoulder. It’s comforting not sweating the small stuff.

But it’s also been remarked that I cease to be one of the guys when it comes to love interests. But of course. Being one of the guys with the clique is an equation that I don’t drag other relationships into. Plus, I can’t have someone enamoured of me seeing anti-zit gook on my face. (That look is reserved exclusively for the boys boys.)

Something else that comes from hanging out with mostly guys is that compliments are automatically discounted. (Since compliments from the boys are usually non-existent.) What? You think she’s what? Dude! That’s Chamique you’re looking at!

So when G was forced to come inside to meet (all of) my aunts when he came to pick me up one night, he obliged and later remarked, ‘Wow, you come from a family of very attractive women.’

So the next night when we went out and I was done with my prettification and wafted into the living room to rescue him from my parents, he said I looked beautiful. Now, judging by his previous remark, it would be kind of pompous to accept the compliment as entirely my own.
So I stuck to: Why thank you, I have good genes you see.
And he looked at me like I was a little crazier than I was the day before.

But he’s a boy. So.