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Thursday, August 2, 2012

Grid and bear it

What power failures and oestrus cycles have taught me

Where's all the juice to power this gonna come from?
Two striking things happened in the last week. One, India experienced the world’s biggest power failure with the collapse of the northern and eastern grids; and two, the beloved dawgess, Kuro, all of eight months old, went into heat. Yup, both events were equally monumental for me. The first left me stranded at Chhattarpur metro station while it was pissing down rain outside, and the second has driven me to read everything I can find on our best chums’ chums*. Both occurrences have given me a Dafaq Chopraesque insight into my own personality.

Like, when faced with the absolutely hopeless, I look for ways to enjoy myself. The long hour at the metro station waiting for services to resume was spent tweeting about waiting for services to resume with occasional paeans about a peacock shrieking in a nearby tree. The fellow had a magnificent tail that hung halfway down the length of the lightning-blasted neem on which he was perched. The monsoon is supposed to make peahens amorous but despite his iridescent plumage and insistent cries, this guy wasn’t getting much joy. There is such a thing as trying too hard I suppose, and all the desirable peahens were probably fed up with his neediness. I mean, seriously, dude, (my sons have ensured I now talk like a pubescent male well versed in transplanted Americanisms) which sane chicklet’s gonna give you the time of day if you keep yelling, “Look at me, I’m so saxy!”? Anyway, the engine driver, a real life Bombardier babe, said she knew as much as we did about why services were suspended, so the crowd filed unhappily out of the station. I was wondering if I should walk back to Gurgaon, a distance of about 10km, flag down a mercenary rickshawala, or squeeze into a bus and allow myself to be sexually assaulted on the way to work, when a reporter from Aaj Tak thrust a mike into my face.

Kyon ho raha hai yeh? Aapko kya dikat hua hai?” he asked with the outraged urgency patented by television journalists. I briefly considered breaking into tears for the camera but remembered, just in time, that my eyeliner wasn’t waterproof. Should I talk about how I thought India’s power problem was only going to get bigger, that there was no hope, that we are going to decimate all our forests, eviscerate the earth for coal, render our indigenous populations homeless and blast the tigers, elephants, leopards, lions, all the fantastic creatures that roam the increasingly narrow green corridors of this land, out of existence, that our consumerist lifestyle was going to fuck us? Nah, the guy was looking for an exciting sound byte, not pages from some ecofeminist’s tome.

Kyon ho raha hai yeh?” the mike-thruster asked again, sounding a trifle querulous now. I mumble something so unremarkable even I don’t remember it and flee down the road to Gudgava. Taking special care to avoid piss puddles, rubbish heaps and lonely men wanking in the bushes, I come upon a bakery with a fancy Italian name – it must be the Sonia influence – and treat myself to a walnut pie and a cappuccino. By the time I’m done, the metro seems to be back on track, though an autowala with the face of Hindi film rapist tried very hard to convince me it wasn’t.
La magnifique pmsing dogess
To cut through all the blah, I got home to find the dogess looking wan and pale – a feat considering she’s deep black, but she pulls it off – and depressive. Hrmph, transference, I maintain until I discover the stained doggie bed. Ah, it’s true, dogs have menstrual mood swings too. Kuro and I look set to share a periodically-unhappy-happy future where we reel off lines from Plath and Rich together, before the Brufen kicks in. Ok, maybe not Kuro. She’s too young to abuse painkillers. Anyway, I now embark on morning walks with a stick to beat the shit out of males – the canine variety, though sticks strictly don’t differentiate between species -- who will, every doggy site assures me, inevitably step out of line. The mystery of why Simba-from-the-twentieth-floor was attempting to leap into our balcony, on the floor below, finally sorted. I’ve also spent many hours reading everything I can about dogs in heat.

What’s Kuro’s opinion on her oestrus cycle and the tripping northern grid? When you can’t control things, just savour the most delicious-stinky chewy you can find. Not much different, that, from me devouring walnut cake.

*1980s Mumbai schoolgirl slang for a menstrual period. Not sure of its origins or if it’s still in use.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Draupadi Speaks

One of the canvases in my 'Women in Indian Myth' series. Acrylic.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Reel Life

Picked up a wooden industrial reel from a roadside raddiwallah in Gurgaon yesterday and enlisted the kids to paint it in bright acrylics and transform it into a side table.

The chipped portions have been covered with coasters from Gogo Saroj Pal whose paintings of flying women I absolutely love. All in all, a table that makes me want to use it all the time :)

Saturday, February 4, 2012

It's my party; I can cry if I want to!

(This article appeared in an edited form in a local paper called Friday Gurgaon)

January is a month of beginnings and I began mine with the odious task of party hosting. Now, there are lots of folk who enjoy entertaining, who excel at putting together a great menu, who have exquisite chinaware that draws ‘oohs’ of appreciation from the most discerning guest, and whose home is in a permanently immaculate state. I’m not one of those folk.

A month of beginnings

My house always looks like it’s been hit by one of those north Indian summer aandhis with lost socks nestling in corners, month-old newspapers obscuring the side tables, family photographs permanently askew and a sofa set that looked like it had suffered the onslaughts of a teething puppy… even before I had a puppy.

My collection of tableware is, to put it politely, somewhat mismatched: tribal curry bowls made from gourd jostle for space with glazed turquoise china, dented steel plates, and a whole pile of chipped this-and-that.

The powerful maw of the er hound

Then, I’m a slave to the domestic staff. I love eating but I’m a nincompoop in the kitchen, the sort who might absentmindedly put salt in a cup of coffee! This means I’m always sweet to the maid because I live in terror that she might abandon me and move in with the neighbouring memsahib. Chetan Bhagat recently wrote a long and sanctimonious piece about how the help should be treated. I could give him some tips. I treat them better than I treat my awfully wedded spouse (yes, I am being ironic but only about the awfully wedded bit).

Anyway, one day, late last year, the aforementioned spouse swung through the door and announced that he had invited a bunch of people for a new year’s bash. Remembering that the maid had just left for her year-end break, I almost swooned like a lady in a Victorian novel. I could hear the sound of my dreams of a quiet new year’s eve quaffing someone else’s premium alcohol crashing in a valley of despair.

“But, but, but,” I blubbered, “How will I manage?”

“Find a way,” the man of the house muttered “I’ve already sent out texts to everyone”.

Eventually, the big night dawned. In preparation, the progeny, rather unexpectedly, spent the day retrieving socks, rearranging the furniture and even removing smudges of pigeon poop from the balcony plants.

Some order in the dining area after the boys deigned to help

The itinerant cook was, ah, impressed upon to do the kitchen duties while I attempted to be sparkling company. I succeeded mostly thanks to a very polite gentleman called Mr Johnny Walker but hey, that’s not belittling my achievement. My sole brave endeavour in the kitchen was the simple strawberries in cream, which I had developed a taste for in Mahabaleshwar, Maharashtra.

“Very Wimbledon,” someone said appreciatively, proving yet again that if you pass enough alcohol around and provide enough finger foods, everything tastes like ambrosia.

After the last guest had left, the esteemed spouse turned to me. “We did it!” he said while I wondered about the use of that “we”. In the interests of marital harmony, however, I let that pass. Besides, I needed to get a move on -- I was scheduled to spend the first few hours of the brand new year washing a mound of vessels.

Daba-dish! Daba-doom!

Agatha Christie once quipped that she got her best ideas while doing the dishes. I’m not Agatha Christie. The only idea that came to me at the kitchen sink was to pray fervently, to whichever deity deigned to listen, that the maid return and that I not be doomed to labour in the dreaded kitchen, the entirely outsourced heart of my home, throughout the year.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

The mind of a married man

Bill's thought bubble: "OMG, see what I gotta live with? She just goes on and on!"