This is a recurring daydream: I chuck my job and retire to a bungalow on a sunny beach somewhere, preferably Goa, and spend my days painting and getting stoned. It is a fantasy that’s unlikely to ever come true and not just because I rarely paint and the last time I got utterly stoned was back in college oh, very many moons ago, when I inhaled rather too deeply and then proceeded to freak my companions out with my paranoia: “Oh my God, my mother will know, she WILL know, she ALWAYS knows,” I ranted before gracefully puking all over the nice boy who was attempting a chance pe dance. I swear I didn’t do it on purpose.
Anyway, that beach side bungalow is my idea of blissful freedom. Why I’ll never really try to achieve it is one of those quirks of my cussed character. Even as I write this I’m thinking of the reasons why retiring to a perennially sunny place where the waves provide the background music and the quaint colonial abode is wreathed in the scent of honest organic substances wouldn’t be such a good idea: I’d be so happy I’d spend far too much time clicking pictures of cornices and old style loos to put up on Facebook; I’d hardly get outside because I’d be so busy tweeting about absofuggingnothing; I’d end up adopting too many cats and they’d set off the kids’ asthma (even though by the time I make it to that beach, they would have left me for nubile young women who agree to pick up their underwear and so, probably, would the devoted husband -- I say this on the eve of our 14th wedding anniversary, by the way -- you know how it is, vocalise your fears and damn, they won’t come true. He’ll probably leave me for something less humiliating like pyorrhoea or borborygmus. Phew.) and I’d start watching daytime soaps and consequently, dressing like one of those women just to feel real. Honestly, did anyone ever wear sindoor in that particularly aggressive way before Ekta Kapoor unleashed her talent on the world?
Help! I'm chumming
Talking of Ekta Kapoor reminds me of the one time I was in the same room with her, breathing in the same toxic Bombay air. It was Bombay back then. She was still just white-shoe Jeetendra’s kid and I was a deluded Masters student who thought she could make enough money to fund a foreign trip through, of all things, modelling. Not that I was a crashing beauty or tall or whatever it is that models are supposed to be. But a friend had had a modicum of success at it and so I talked myself into at least attempting it. Like that Doors song “You gotta try everything once, you better take out some insurance...”
A flurry of photo sessions, video tests and calender shoots followed. It was at a video test for a TV programme that Ms Kapoor and I gulped the same air. She left quickly. The test went very well with the camera man asking me to do take after take while the other girls with their mummies in tow tut-tutted impatiently. It looked like I’d get the deal and then, whey-hey I’d be jetting off to foreign lands. After the audition, the director walked me down and asked me in an exceedingly friendly way if I’d like to go shoe shopping. “Shoe shopping? Why ever would I want to do that? I have too many shoes as it is,” I said hopping onto a crowded BEST bus to Grant Road station. They never called me. I don't think the programme was ever made. About a decade later, I read an article about the casting couch lingo of old Bollywood. Apparently, “shopping for shoes” is code for “Plis will you sleep with me?” I still wonder if Ekta’s exit was hastened by the director asking her if she wanted to shop for a pair of white shoes.
So, yeah, it’s just the great fear that I’d end up dressing like the women in one of those killer TV soaps that's standing between me and my fantasy life in a bungalow by the sea. Told you I was cussed.