Monday, December 13, 2010

Goodnight, brother

Today, it was different. A tiny firefly had come to greet me goodnight. Of all the places, it chose to sit on the table clock, unperturbed by the ‘tick-tack-tick-tack’ noise it was making. It took me back to my childhood memories, when we used to run behind them hoping to catch them all in vain and even earlier when we used to get scared by their tiny little blinking ‘torches’.
It was a long, long time ago when me and my brother used to share a room as little kids. We used to stay in Mathura (UP) where fireflies were not a rare sight. My brother, who was five years elder, used to frighten me by singing ‘kahin deep jale kahin dil…’ from the movie Bees Saal Baad in a shrill, scary voice whenever he saw fireflies in our room. I used to duck under the quilt, trying my best not to hear what he sang or to see the glowing flies.
A little later, the firefly moved from the table clock and settled itself on a photograph right next to the clock. We were still kids then – I wearing a huge Ray Ban glass on my nose and my brother wearing another equally big glass on his slightly bigger nose sitting hand in hand in front of the majestic Taj Mahal, the symbol of eternal love.
But when we grew a little older, fight and screams were the order of any normal day. It was as if his day wasn’t over without irritating me and mine wasn’t over without bearing with him. But now that we’ve both grown up and live miles apart, the fights are the only thing that reminds me of the khatta-meetha bond that we shared and makes me smile.
He’s a married man now, recently blessed with an angel girl, and I have my job to worry about. I could barely see the clock strike 12 as the fly started to fly again. Maybe it was trying to find its way back home, I thought as I opened the window. I searched for my mobile in the moonlight and typed ‘remember those firefly nights... goodnight, brother’.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Confessions of a shopaholic

“It’s like you were challenging the poor guy,” my friend told me just after I snubbed the coffee mugs the shopkeeper was showing to me and walked away. “He is just selling ceramic, it’s not gold. You are not making investments,” he said, as I gleefully moved on to the next shop selling similar stuff.
I was on a happy trip to Dilli Haat and was in a perfectly happy, happy mood. But the word ‘challenging’ lingered for the rest of the day. This friend, a male, accompanies me to almost all splurging trips and perhaps has, by now, mastered my tricks of shopping. Whenever I ask him which colour or design to pick, he smirks, and says, “Will you pick what I ask you to?”
He knows, and I won’t.
But if men don’t know, or don’t want to know, what goes behind choosing a particular colour, they better stop “helping” us. Or, better, we women should go to those selected shops where the keepers are from the fair sex. That way, at least, both will be relieved of the tension of the battles to be fought every other hour, every other day. What actually is the science behind how women shop and how men shop?
They claim women spend unnecessarily lengthy time to choose and finalise or drop the whole idea of buying something, while they are those smart things who take decisions instantly. While we claim that most shopping decisions taken by men are lousy, colour combinations rubbish and they often go for ‘not-the-best-of-best’ offers.
Frankly, my shopping, more often than not, involves a serious series of calculated, methodical and economical steps to choosing, selecting, pondering, cross-questioning and then finally loosening the purse strings. But I never thought that my serious series of calculated steps could actually challenge shopkeepers. It must have – because after I asked the shopkeeper to pack four different colours of the same form of coffee mug with different prints, he looked flummoxed.
If challenging is the word – then be it! At least I will have a peaceful sleep if I match the colours right. Did I finally pick the right mugs, sis?

Monday, August 30, 2010

Real life

This time, let’s not talk about movies, or lipsticks, branded watches, or about how ‘Reid & Taylor’ suit lengths are better than, say, ‘Raymond’s’.
Let’s get into the real business. The business called life. We work for money. The money earns us a place that we can call our own, our home. It earns us clothes to hide our frames and it earns us food. The energy, generated from the food, gets us back to work. And the cycle continues. But what happens when one of these meets with an accident? The job is gone, your home tumbles down, your clothes get worn out, your food gets burnt and you faint.
You must be thinking where I’m driving you to? But wait. It’s not that easy, is it? Getting a decent job, looking for a ‘home-sweet-home’, buying the best clothes, cooking the right meal, or being called the star worker at your office is easier said than done.
Year after year, you think it’s going to be easy, but it isn’t. Your job still pays you the same, house rents are skyrocketing, clothes are getting costlier, prices of food items are inflating, and the basic medicines to treat you back to your good health are turning into precious commodities that may someday find place on the BSE and NSE.
Which one of those essentials had an accident, you think? But it’s too late now. You try to lower your living standards, move into a smaller home, you start loving that fat-free ‘roti’, you would have bought some medicines, but you decide to stay put and wait for a miracle recovery from a disease and get back to work the next day only to hear: “Your work is not improving. You don’t have that zest in you anymore.”
You are still wondering which one of those met with an accident? You say: “Sorry, sir. It won’t happen again.” But at the back of your mind you are still thinking why you are not what you were and walk out of your boss’ room, only to be found in the same cubicle a few days later with the ‘problem’ intact. Whoa, what life!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Mark of respect

It was Independence Day, but not for me. I went to work. I wore my tri-coloured dupatta – which only gets out of my almirah on two occasions in a year — to go with my white kurta. I did not do it for the happiness I felt for going to work on the day. It was more of a safe bet. It was because I feel people generally don’t give funny comments on wearing a tri-coloured piece on Independence and Republic days. So what fuels this wave of patriotism on just these two days and that too during the better half of the day? Is it the freedom from the British Raj or the freedom from office and the boss? Is it just another day out with parents for children or do they really mean what they perform on those stages? Feeling proud about being an Indian has been ingrained in us right from our childhood, but what has not reached most people is how to respect the flag. People wake up on these days filled with zest, reach the nearby flag hoisting grounds well in time, participate in plays and celebrations, sing a patriotic song or two, sit together, chat, eat and return home.
But what follows is a very sorry sight. People, especially children, who enthusiastically wave flags at the ceremony, get tired after a while and throw them away on the streets. Flags are then left only to get trampled and driven upon. Freedom from waving, is it? On second thoughts, why blame the children – how many of us know what to do with the flag after we’re over with our patriotism? There is no doubt that the percentage of the 'unaware' far exceeds the percentage of the people who 'know' how a flag should be disposed of. According to Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act, 1971, when the flag is in a damaged condition it should be destroyed as a whole in private, preferably by burning or by burying it with due respect. This information may or may not reach everyone who threw a flag somewhere this time. However, the sad part is, this time I still got a weird remark for wearing a tri-coloured dupatta. Sigh!