Wednesday, July 28, 2004

I have ceased to wait for the right guy. I am now waiting to be the right girl.

Monday, July 26, 2004

My restlessness breaks
Against mossy gray cliff walls

In angry white foam

Sunday, July 25, 2004

I think it is high time that I accepted that I shall never be the perfect dainty feminine woman. I shall never have long, silky, straight shiny hair. Nor will my hair, make-up and lipstick be perfect even two minutes after the long arduous time spent to repair the damage done by genes, weather and neglect.

Don’t think I haven’t tried. I have bought eyeliners that don’t wash away and lipsticks that are supposed to stay on even when kissed. I have bought mousse, gel and vitamin creams to keep my hair in some order. All for nothing. Nothing helps, ever.

Convinced after much delicate and then not-so delicate prodding, I finally agreed to go to a good hair-stylist. But only if my newfound friend P would fix up an appointment. She did. At one of the most expensive saloons in Mumbai. “K my friend will give you a discount because you are my friend,” she said. Someone please explain to the super rich that 15% of infinity is still infinity. Even after the discount, it was still ridiculously expensive.

Anyways, so I got my hair cut yesterday. K, friend of P’s, the hairstylist shook her head in dismay. The first question she asked me was whether I shampoo my hair. “Of course I do” I said mortified. “I meant what shampoo do you use,” she quickly checked herself. The next ten minutes were spent explaining that my hair was a mess (Thank you, I didn’t know that.) and a detailed explanation of what I should use on my hair.

Finally she packed me off to get my hair washed. “Let the conditioner stay in her hair for at least 5 minutes.” K said to her assistant. (How many times! How many times would she tell me? How many times and in how many ways would she tell me that my hair is in an awful state?)

Post the shampoo and intensive conditioning K finally began chopping my hair. “Have you always worn you hair this long?” she asked me. (I should give her credit for her tact. What she really meant to say was that I should have cut my hair at least 6 months back, at least to trim the grossly overgrown bits.) I mumbled some reply. I don’t think she really wanted an answer.

Finally, she stepped back and smiled. “Done. You have natural curls” (Yes thank you! You don’t have to remind me that God, along with other things, forgot to bestow me with lovely straight hair.) “I’ll teach you how to scrunch up your hair. Use so and so and so products.” (She named every expensive product available in the market. If her fees didn’t bankrupt me, the long list of hair products certainly would.)

My hair was duly dried and scrunched. Voila! Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah! My hair framed my face in a halo half a meter in diameter. I turned to where she stood, smiling, waiting for me to thank her ardently for giving me a completely new look. “It’s a bit spread out,” I managed. “Can’t it be a nicer curly look? Something like yours.” “Oh darling, that’s because you have such lovely thick hair.” (Jesus Christ! Of all good things I was gifted with, it had to be nice curly THICK hair.)

I thanked her and left the shop with an empty wallet and looking like a twenty-first century golliwog.

Sigh. I shall never I shall never be the perfect dainty feminine woman.

P.S. The account of my hair cut though true (I am not one for falsities) is slightly exaggerated. I thank P and K for trying to do the impossible. They are darlings.

Friday, July 23, 2004

I was reading up, very intensely and seriously, on some information I needed for a presentation. The article I was browsing through was on skin when I came across the following passage:

The thickest skin is on your heels, where the stratum corneum averages 86 layers of cells deep.  The thinnest skin is on your penis, if you have one, where the stratum corneum is only 6 layers of cells deep.

Yup! Work can be fun sometimes.
Being a boss is not an easy task.

I am an awful person to work for, or so my friend said. I’d like to disagree on that. What is so bad about asking your junior to make a proper job list and updating you on the status of jobs by end of the day? So what if you are organized (hyper according to my friend) about everything. What is so wrong with asking for up-to-date files for layouts, artworks, estimates, bills, etc, etc. Then categorize and classify the files for easy access and understanding. In a profession like advertising, being organized is essential. Order in the chaos. It is true that I thrive on lists. And the number of lists can be mind-boggling, I admit. Thus, I have a list for lists. Now, what is so bad about that?

The task of being in-charge of another person becomes so much more arduous when he is a complete dimwit. Oh alright, to give him some credit, he is street smart. But he probably leaves his brains behind in the street when he comes to office. If he spent less time on his cell phone, chatting on the messenger, chatting up the girls in the office and going for two-hour lunches (not to mention coming to work two hours late everyday), he might have been a great help.

Yesterday, he was trying to solve a Mensa test, while I was running around like a crazy fool, panting like a dog and trying to get work done. I sometimes remind myself of Grace (of Will & Grace). The similarity in the inept smart-mouthed assistants cannot be missed. I reached my workstation ready to drop to the floor when I saw that he was sitting on my seat, sipping coffee and solving the Mensa test.

The clue was ‘8 T on an O’. And he keyed in ‘8 testicles on an Octopus.’ False flashed on the screen. He scratched his head and then looked up to where I, unable to control myself, was having a laughing fit.

Unable to understand why I was laughing, he started gloating. “See. I have got an above 18 score. I am a genius.” I guess I should be thankful he didn’t say that he was a genital.

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

I feel a strange kind of light-headedness, as if I am floating in air. I think it might be the emptiness inside of me.

Thursday, July 15, 2004

The two of us.
Last evening, I was returning home from a tedious four-hour meeting with my client. We were two people in the auto rickshaw. The driver, who seemed to be racing with the whole world, and I, who had got tired of the rat race a long long time ago.

The two of them.
As we passed by the reclamation bridge promenade area, we saw parked along the sea rows of two-wheelers interspersed with the rare cars. On each of these rows two-wheelers and inside each of the scarce cars were two people.

The can’t-get-enough couples: These are the ones who either lack a place to make out and thus tend to make use of all public areas available or are the typical lovey-dovey couples who can’t keep their hands off each other.

The should-I-should-I-not couples: These are the ones who have just started dating. The sparks flying between them could singe you if you get any closer. You can see the question ‘Should I kiss her/him?’ hanging in the retreating space between them.

The been-there-done-that couples: They stand usually a little apart, both immersed in their own thoughts. They have been together for long and don’t feel the need for constant conversation. They share a comforting silence, the wind blowing on their face as the sun sinks into the sea.

The we’re-only-friends couples: Somebody ought to tell them that friends don’t go to the popular make-out joints. And that friends don’t watch each other from lowered lashes.

The oh-no-not-this-place-too couples: Usually a pair of the same sex (two girls/ two boys) who have just discovered a great place to hang out in and realize that they are too embarrassed to be seen in a ‘make-out hang-out’.

The oops-we-did-it-again couples: The apologetic two guys, girl-friendless, who always land up in places that remind them of their single status.

Thursday, July 08, 2004

The other evening I was watching Spiderman on HBO. Totally engrossed in the movie, I watched sadly as they lowered Spiderman’s Uncle’s coffin into his grave. The words, though not spoken at that point of the movie, were resounding in my ears. 'With great power comes great responsibility.'
My roommate S entered the room at that point and said “It is really heavy when you lower a coffin.”
I nodded my head in sad acknowledgement and said softly “ I can imagine. For us, it is the hardest when we are cremating the person. That is the point when it really hits you that the person is dead and gone forever….”
“No. No.” S quickly rectified me. “I was saying that the family has to carry the coffin and lower it. And it gets really heavy. Why some of the coffins are made of really heavy wood.”
A huge king cobra had wrapped itself around the pipes that led to the set of bathrooms shared by six of us in my hostel. In the crowd that gathered to observe it from a distance, I was the first one to say that it should be killed. It was, after all, a question of survival of the fittest. We could not risk a six-seven feet poisonous snake lurking in our bathrooms. Besides, our institute was several kilometers away from the closest hospital. Snake serum not being freely available in most hospitals, a cobra bite in the middle of the night was almost an assured death. Yes, there were no two-ways about it. The cobra had to be killed.
The problem was that nobody dared to kill it. Sensing danger, the cobra had raised its hood, ready to strike. In the fading light of dusk its eyes appeared more frightening than before. The canteen boys refused to harm it. To kill a king cobra would be to incur the wrath of its mate. Finally, some of my classmates took the matter in their hands. They created a circle of fire around it so it would be unable to escape and attacked it with long bamboo sticks. I watched as my friends killed it with sudden brutal strikes. I burst into tears then, something that my classmates had never seen me do. I was the girl who never cried. ‘But you were the one who wanted it killed’ they said to me.
Yes, I was the one who had wanted it killed. I had wanted it because I cared more for our safety than the existence of the cobra. But the enormous sense of loss that came from killing something so beautiful hit me only then. I stood there, silent tears rolling down my cheeks, and watched the magnificent creature beaten to pulp. Learning for the first time about the inevitable injustice in the battle of survival.

Thursday, July 01, 2004

S by profession is a qualitative researcher. It might sound fancy to most of you but what she really does is pass opinions about people she doesn’t know. (How I hate it when she reads me so well.)
For the past couple of weeks she has been doing some depth interviews (interviews with one person which extends for hours). Don’t ask for further details, as I have no idea. S and I have an unspoken rule- we don’t discuss our work at home. Ethics and all.
Anyways, all I did know was that she was interviewing all sorts of people at all sorts of hours and at places I didn’t know of (which would include most of Mumbai. Damn! I need to do a Bombay-tour or at least buy a map.). And all by herself. I duly expressed my concern regarding the safety of it all.
One evening as we settled ourselves in front of the TV she said that the guy she had interviewed that day was a goon.
‘A goon!’ I exclaimed. ‘How do you know?’
‘The neighbours,’ she said. ‘The neighbours know everything.’
‘I wonder what our neighbours think of us,’ I said dreamily.’
‘They probably think we are prostitutes, what with the hours we keep.’