March 30, 2010

Winding my way through words...a lil lost still

Me: Chatty, friendly, loud, funny (though I prefer to use humorous), expressive (love the hugs, kisses and beware of the anger and abuses), adventurous, girl in love with books, music and badminton, enjoys writing and often lauded for her writings, love to speak and equally patient listener, enjoys long conversation over coffee and snacks, a friend for all seasons. 
This is ME.....a decade ago.
Me: Wife, mother, dutiful to her roles but neglects her inner soul, irritated, more frowns than laughter, more tears than cheers, busy trying to strike a rhythm in her life that she misses the good ol music, a rather boring self, living to regret yesterdays and forgetting to enjoy the todays...and depressingly detached from books and frustratingly fighting with her writing skills.

It's not a 'poor me' post, it's more a 'I need a kick-on-my-ass' writing. It's been more than two years since I entered the 'unemployed' category. Part of it was substituted with the 'freelance/work from home' tag which at least saved me from the 'wasting herself' group. I did enjoy the initial months..there was regular work, regular money (though not much). Then my baby came, I was busy playing mommy and enjoying it too. Somewhere along, the professional in me felt neglected, I guess. She felt a loner, unwanted and ignored by all. For today, when I try to befriend her, cajole her back into life, she resists....and strongly too!
I tell myself 'I wanna get back to work', I wanna be productive (not by just bearing a child), wanna use my skills (besides the ones I use in the kitchen/bedroom). Fortunately there have been wonderful friends who've helped me cope with this frustration and help me get back on track. But every time I vowed to give it my all, my home would mess up with one problem or the other...either a maid, or an overly busy partner, or a super-cranky son...and more and more.
Amidst all this a stubborn professional in me who refuses to come out of hiding. All the projects I have worked on in the recent months have been last-minute rushes, simply because the writer in me continues to be in hibernation. I am in front of the computer almost all day, excepting meal times and play times with my son. I struggle with an opening, then scribble some random lines, delete them, cry over my helplessness, read through some of my earlier writings or blogs (mine and others), get back to work....if am lucky get a little work done and then it's back to feeling hollow.
It's not that I have been asked to find ways to meet the ever-increasing alcohol demands of Kerala, or do a post-mortem on the Taj attack in Mumbai or write why the Congress and the Bachchans are warring. The topics I have are simple, refreshing, green and soothing. And yes very close to home, too. Something about me fails to get excited or inspired about it. A dear friend out there is at the receiving end of my (definitely not complacency) fight with the inner self. Funnily enough, just today I read the same friend say 'we should love/enjoy our inner self'.
I strongly believe reading does a lot to your mind and soul...and your heart. I've been away from the books (except for the interior mags which I've taken a sudden liking to) for too long. It's this vaccum that needs to be filled, and that will provide the fuel and inspiration for the inner talent in me. Until then I continue my struggle...word by word...I'll complete by work.

March 23, 2010

Mr Sleep, see you tonight. Hopefully!

A lot has been said and written (by me of course) about my 'catch-me-if-you-can' game with SLEEP. And I've rarely won. I just never catch hold of him (I'd like to call it a male, coz most things annoying and never turn up on time are best suited in the M category). This isn't a recent thing. I've been trying to win this game for as long as I can recall. Of course there are these stories that my mom keeps saying about how I'd fall asleep at a theatre (when I was as young as 3-4) or how I'd decide to say g'nite when we were out for dinner (and the chairs would be grouped together to give me that cushy cushy bed where I lay peacefully while other enjoyed their soups and desserts) or how I would always insist that I was not sleepy (my mom claims my eyes were almost shut with sleep when I said this) and just lie down on the couch in the living room and soon enough float to dreamland. Amma would try me coaxing me out of my dream, but I'd just mutter and mumble and sleep away. Finally dad would either carry me up or they'd just sleep-walk me to my room upstairs.
I don't remember those days. From when my memory turned active, I've been craving to fall asleep. I was never a afternoon nap person, I always found more exciting ways to spend my post-lunch times. Once nights set in, it was time for TV and chatting with friends, dinner and some gup-shup with parents and soon everyone would get ready to hit bed. I would then turn to my study table, do my little everyday reads and then be ready to sleep. There I would be lying down, my bedtime prayers said...waiting and waiting. But those days the wait was fun, coz that was the time I would run through my day's event, smile at the funny incidents, wonder where that cute guy I met at the nearby shop was staying, would I meet him again, do a quick mental check of any news, gossips to be shared with friends the next morning....and somewhere in between this I would fall asleep, with a smile.
Years passed by, but my hide-n-seek with sleep stayed on. The wait wasn't always as exciting or entertaining. There were the love aches, the lil friendly tiffs, the bitter arguments wt mom-dad (it was my age of rebellion). Then came the time of late-night chats" with friends, with friends' girlfriends (trying to settle love disputes), with my man of the moment and sometimes the prank calls. The fun was back...but again sleep wasn't.
From a student I turned a working woman and for once I was glad that sleep didn't visit me on time. Media was my industry and a regional TV channel was my place of work. Welcome to the world of shift-system, where one week I was to be at office by 1 in the afternoon and could wrap up by 9-10 p.m. And the next week my day would start bang at midnight (12 a.m.) and would end shortly after sun-rise, by 8.30-9 a.m. Just then Mr.Sleep decided to get friendly with me. As soon as I was in office, and ready to start work he'd come knocking and a few hours into work I'd be yawning big enough to fracture my cheekbones, and struggling to keep my eyes open. Son enough I'd be down on the desk sleeping. Thankfully there would be 2 of us and we'd take turns to nap. The worst, though, was the bus-ride back home from office after the morn shift. There I'd be returning from work, and would be in a bus packed with people hurrying to work. I'd be squeezed amongst the many ladies and I'd be clinging onto the railing on top, swaying back and forth everytime the bus braked. Think the driver got a secret pleasure at jamming the brakes all of a sudden and have all the people surge ahead with a collective 'Aaaaa' or 'Ayyooo'. If I was lucky to find a seat, then it was worse. There I'd be waiting to get home but would soon find myself drooping down in sleep as the wind hit my face. What a struggle it was to stay awake and not miss my stop! I told you the 'male' lot almost always do the wrong thing at the wrong time.
Even today, from working woman to a wife to now a mother, I still continue the love-hate relationship with sleep. Nowadays he hardly turns up and I am left tossing and turning in bed, each time taking extra care not to wake up my little one who's by my side (and who seems to have inherited my insomniac genes). And then there's my husband who can sleep before you say the word aloud.
A friend just wrote today that Mr. Sleep has turned sour with her too and refuses to join her in bed these days. Well, then come over to my bedroom, Mr. waiting.

March 18, 2010

Succulent Steaks, Tempting Tandooris

I was born into a vegetarian family (not quite the right way to put it). Well my family belongs to a class (one of the many classes of one of the many religions) that is vegetarian (don't know if its by choice or compulsion). Ideally our menu should contain rice, its variations like idli, dosa, the kanji (which I relish) and the sambar, rasam, pulissery, erissery and many more names that may not sound exciting but is definitely delicious. Garlic is a strict no-no and many elders in my family don't take onions either. Onions & garlic are believed to be for the carnivorous. Today, 95 per cent of my dishes begin with a onion-tomato saute with a dash of ginger-garlic.
Coming back to my 'green' lineage, I had a taste of the animal kingdom when I was barely four years old or so I am told. My mother's help, who was my favourite, would feed me yummy fish curry and tiny pieces of chicken. They believed kids grew strong and smart only by eating strong creatures and not flimsy plants and leaves. By the time my taste buds were independent enough to choose for itself, their preference was clearly the meaty meals.
I owe it to my mom, who, despite being a complete vegetarian actually attended cookery classes and cooked me exotic dishes like Garlic Chicken, Chilly Chicken, Chicken Manchurian, Sweet n Sour Chicken....and many many delicious puddings too. Lovely auntys would always send me a share of home-cooked non-veg yummies they made and my love for them only grew. Dine outs were eagerly awaited for that meant newer dishes of chicken/fish.
Somehow my temptation for non-veg stopped at chicken and fish. Mutton, beef, pork (which I was often told were the more yummier meatier options) never excited me. I was never even tempted to try. Maybe my tastebuds weren't too adventurous. But then you could serve me mutton and say its chicken, I wouldn't quite know. :)
Years of eating this banned-food hasn't in any way decreased my greed for it. While I relished on butter chicken, chilly chicken, etc earlier, now I have developed a craving for the grills/kebabs and tandoors. Continental is my new favourite: grilled chicken with pepper sauce/mushroom sauce, chicken satay, steaks and the Indian options like tandoori chicken, kebabs have me drooling. Not much of a cook myself, I have been trying to inspire myself to try a grill or bake at home. Many of my more skilled friends say grills and bakes are the easiest and safest. Somehow the idea scares me. Once marinated and ready, you need to push into the oven and then all you can do is watch helplessly and pray it turns out fine. But I have promised myself I will try my hand at it very soon.
Every time I tune into a channel, I find a cookery show on and then find myself glued to it. The expressions on their face, the words they use to describe the food, the smoke n sound from the grills and pans have me letting out a deep sigh! Something about the succulent just makes me want to grab that piece right outta the chef's hand.

March 16, 2010

Nights of blogging...and blank mornings

Am not sure who invented the concept of blogging? When and how was this word coined and what was its actual purpose. Is it just a space (mostly public) for you to give words to your thoughts, emotions and express yourself for all to see and read! But still maintain a certain anonymity coz blogs don't necessarily need to have your name (as on the birth certificate), you could always be identified as the 'madnessisme.blogspot' or 'sunshineandrain.blogspot' or 'compulsiveconfessions' or 'thesinner.blogspot'. You could have anything from a cartoon to a film star to a notebook or a pair of glasses as your profile pic.
Coming to me..why did I start blogging? I can't exactly recall but I think it started shortly after I quit my regular office work. Left with a lot of time, too many thoughts rummaging my mind and no one to share it with (poor me was home alone with a growing tummy and didn't think it right to overburden the little life inside with the stresses, pressures and exaggerations of life in this world). Maybe it was then...that I decided to join the blogosphere, a term that was alien to me until then.
Naming the blog was the first step. I didn't really spend too much time on it coz I was definitely not in my most creative or wacky moods then. So I settled for 2 things I can't do without: coffee and myself. And thus was born I would have liked to add a lot more favourites to it like rain, the chill, books...but it's fine. Coffee it is...The name doesn't in any way signify the contents within. Do not expect steamy write-ups or burning desires or frothy's just me chatting with myself.
In the start I was on an over-drive..writing new posts whenever I could. Don't think it what really my mind speaking was more about me trying to make my presence felt and make blogging part of my routine. Soon the excitement fizzled out and the posts were drying up...from one a day to one a week, then a few lines a month and then months of no blogging at all. Every few months I would do this blog revival post promising to be more faithful to this space but never happened.
In the recent months, I developed this sudden re-interest in blogging and I find myself wanting to write or actually having something to write very often. The blog's in my mind always and I find myself making mental notes of things/people/experiences that I want to write about. Many nights in the recent weeks I find myself lying in bed (am a struggler when it comes to getting sleep) playing my blog in my mind...thinking of what to write and even framing sentences..almost like I am out to make an impression and someone's watching me and marking me on the basis of my blogs, its relevance, its presentation, etc. It's funny! Coz if the comments link is any indication of the clicks on my blog then I have barely any readers. Just 1-2 faithful friends.
It is a little disappointing when you see no response to your blogs, though you (in this case ME) claim blogs just a space to speak your mind and you're not really bothered about its popularity, etc. Despite this, I find myself inspired to write more and doing the 'mental blog note' every night. Sadly the mornings have me struggling to recollect my 'late night blog thoughts' and often I draw a blank.
I have a faint feeling that I had done a version of this blog too in my mind...with more impressive sentences and stronger words. For now...this is all my mind could gather.

March 13, 2010

The stories within a dusty album...

A small, but not too light, black (mostly) rectangular box-like gadget with a round lens in front, a few buttons on the top or side, an extra square block of light called the "flash", a coma-like fixture that was the rewind button...this is my first image of a camera. One had to slide open its back and insert a film roll (an act I still haven't perfected), close it, do a random 1-2 clicks to check if all's well and you're ready to go. What I loved most was how the tiny almost dot-like number screen jumped everytime a click was made. Most film rolls gave you a maximum of 36 clear pictures, while some would give you a bonus of 1 or 2 more pictures.
The film roll was the most crucial element of the camera, and also often the most forgotten. How many of us can recall at least one incident wherein we went click, click, click only to realise we had forgotten to 'load' the camera!
Soon the blacks gave way to brighter, more attractive colours, that came in lightweight forms, especially for kids. The shapes too had minor alterations: oval, cartoon characters, etc. Bu the mechanism basically remained the same: load batteries, load film, do a check click, and of course do not forget to rewind after the clicks. Soon there were auto rewind models introduced which would do the job automatically once the film roll was complete.
The rolls showed only a series of blackish greyish images, and we'd rush to the studio to give color n life to these images. There's this exciting wait for a few days, wherein we are hoping the photographs turn out just the way we want and secretly praying that all our un-impressive shots get magically developed into stunners. The minute we get the cover with the photographs, all heads n hands come together. Soon there are giggles, laughter, comments, exclamatory sighs and wows...For days we'd be checking out the photographs, and enjoying the moments.
Somehow my father never was too keen on cameras or was it that he didn't enjoy photography at all. But I have seen some interesting pictures of his from his long-haired, side-burn-style college days to the more refined, Ray Ban-wearing business man days and now to the khadi-clad, salt n pepper bearded grandfather days. Guess he preferred being a model to photographer and so never quite felt the need to own a camera. But I did manage to find one when I needed, thanks to loving uncles and friends. Today the images gifted by those cameras lie suffocated in thick albums, stacked away in some dusty corner of some shelf in my room. Until a few years ago, I did flip through them occasionally and it never once failed to ignite a spark of nostalgia in me. Almost all the pictures had a story to tell: of friendship, fights, after-fight handshakes, lovers' tiff, childhood romances, secret crushes, favourite teachers...and of course the now-shocking haircuts and dresses.
Today film rolls are almost extinct. Digital cameras that are sleek, colorful, higher in clarity and absolutely easy to use have taken over. Today the process is much simpler, No film rolls, no rewind buttons, no running to studios and of course no albums to gather dust. It's just click and view. And if you aren't happy, you can just delete it and re-shoot. Very few get transferred to actual prints, while most others get 'posted' onto 'online albums' like Picasa, Kodak Gallery, etc. Definitely far more easier and faster, but the spontaneity and fun of the moment is lost because most snaps are rehearsed and perfected.
Many of my friends have, in the recent days, been 'uploading' albums titled Back then, Good Ol' Days, Nostalgia, etc...and each of them is a collection of snapshots from the past, some blurred, some hazy images of the days bygone. The clarity is missing, but the emotion is alive. Thank you my loved ones for once again taking me back in time when people had more time, when life was simpler, more fun, less pretentious, and relationships were wrapped in emotions, love, sensitivity, and some crazy drama too. Cheers to the good times!

(PS: I will put up some pics from the good times as soon as I retrieve them from their dusty dungeon.)

March 8, 2010

Blue in its many shades, many moods

Monday blues...Feeling Blue...Blue is often used to describe dullness, disappointment and everything un-exciting. Why! Oh Why! I love brightens my day. It's a soother for the sore eyes, it spreads a feel of calm, it's warm yet wild. I love BLUE.
Blue isn't just about boredom, neither is it about pornography. Which prompts me to wonder...why are porno films categorised as "blue films". What's blue gotta do with orgy and orgasms? I can think of many other colours that would more aptly scream out those emotions.
Well.. erotic for some, exhaustion for some... for me BLUE spells warm welcome, a calm cool, a silent drizzle, soulful music, a devastating darkness, inviting intoxication and a wild sparkle.

March 7, 2010

My dil goes Mmmmm....

Is it the realisation that summer's here that's made me take this sudden but lasting craving for ice-creams. In the past one week, I've scooped a variety of flavours from a range of brands. Some tried-tested-and-loved flavours, some new experiments, some chosen by smells or colours...but everything had to have at least a drizzle of my ever-favourite choc sauce. It's a must-have. I think it's a sin not to let the choc sauce flow its way over the ice-cream giving it this awesome design pattern and tempting look.
I was never much of an ice-cream person. After watching Salaam Namaste where Preity Zinta craves for a "certain" flavour of ice-cream at midnight and how the adorable Saif tours the town in search of it...I used to actually visualise myself doing the same. Though I did doubt that my husband wouldn't be half as enthusiastic as Saif when it came to missing his sleep. Pregnancy came, but ice-creams never topped my "I want it right now" list. At least then I could have had them without guilt and family would have bought me them all without a fuss.
Now there's the guilt after eating a bowl, and there is the fuss before buying a pack. I was always this chocolaty person who refused to even try out other flavours until it had a choco mentioned somewhere in the name. But during my latest romance with ice-cream, I have consciously avoided the brown temptation. In fact I turned away from flavours simply because they were guilty of adding choc to their names (though the ice cream itself showed no sign of any chocolaty touch). And I've just found my new favourite: Fig. Just polished one bowl of it...and loved every bit. Even licked clean every inch of the bowl. Yummmm...though it left me with a sticky nose and cheeks.
My new icy-creamy romance isn't suiting my weighing scale. Every time I down a scoop, my mom gives me the looks and reels out ways to work out excess kilos. I try to turn a deaf ear by her words fall loud n strong straight into my ear drums...and worse keep echoing in there until sleep time. Yes I do wanna take her seriously and get going, be committed to my promise of weight loss (all my deadlines are way behind me now). Am doing another round of promise to myself.. let's see who wins, the ice-cream or the weighing machine.