Thursday, December 27, 2012

Who We Used To Be

There was a sense that time had stopped even as I watched it march along in every calculable way. I kept my forward motion, but inside I remained inert. I had only a vague, wisplike memory – or maybe a dream – of what it felt like to be fully etched in reality. Those days when I met people, I thought about them as the children they might have once been, before they chose their cover-ups. Before the uniformity of childhood, the uniformity of recklessness slowly left them. 

The surly teacher whose only solace was the range of violences she meted out to the smallest of her charges – who was she as a little girl? Were her fingers singed with a wooden cane too, until she wrenched out a shaky tune from an instrument she didn’t understand? Why was this barrel-chested, eminent man so easily incensed by the slightest of slights? Can a pipsqueak with wobbly cheeks really be riven into this kind of inventive malice?

My own mother. A single calendar cycle had brought her jowls and taken away her knees. Her horrible singing, too. Now she sat by the window drowning this new silence in tepid cups of coffee. When I go back to the village now, they still tell me how the young boys used to follow her around, this mysterious, angular creature formed by the hand of a doting god. To be spoken to, even reviled by her like they so often were, was to have a blessed day. Don’t I have any photographs of her on my smartphone at least, they ask. Why does she never come back here? She keeps very busy, I say, letting them invent her as they please. They nod approvingly.

I thought about who we’re born, who we decide to be and what we ration of our true selves to the world. When does fact give way to mythology? Had I really always been a mute spectator inhabiting the fringe world, or was I imprisoned there? Might I be a dancer tomorrow, a jester the next, simply by willing it?

Sunday, December 23, 2012

The New McDonald's

This evening my mother returned from church, marched straight into my room (she doesn’t do knocking) and said “Let’s go to Mac-dough-gnarled.”
A new one has just opened around the corner from my house and its proximity is exciting.  

“I was just about to go for a jog,” I say.

She stares at my day-old nightie, then at the paused, agape expression of President Josiah Bartlet on my computer screen, then at the empty cake carton on my desk.

“I’ll be ready in five minutes,” I say.

Once we get there, we make a few noises (“so big, looks so small from the outside, but so big”, “crowded, must be minting money”, “price of houses in this area will now appreciate”), I order food while she looks on proudly* and then we try to find a place to sit. She heads straight for the table by the window.

“Why here?”
“Why not here?”
“Everyone can see us.”
“Who everyone?”
“No one can see us.”
“This is glass, of course they can see us.”
She shakes her head and chuckles.
“Why so much walking these days,” she asks after biting into her veg burger, making a face, putting it down and scooping up my chicken one.
“What just? Everything just just all the time.”
“You’re still walking all the way from your office to the station?”
“Legs don’t pain?”
“You like pain?”
“I like it.”
“Boy called you?”
“You called him?”
“It’s over?”
“You are so proud.”
I stare at her, slurping at the coke, and suddenly I’m angry.
“I’m proud? How am I proud? I’m not proud enough! If I was prouder, my life wouldn’t be so crappy.”
Now she looks amused and I’m getting angrier.
“Don’t smile,” I spit at her. “This is your fault!”
“I see.”
“I ALSO see! Now I FINALLY see. Everytime anything has ever happened, what have you said to me – no tell me, what have you always said to me? ‘Let it be baby. Try to understand baby, you be the bigger person baby!” I am now talking loudly and in a grating drawl. “I am sick to death of understanding everything. I don’t want to be the bigger person anymore. I want to be the smaller person. I want to be the SMALLEST person.” 
 She is not smiling anymore.
 “I want to kick and scream and throw tantrums,” I keep going. “I want to not care about how anybody else is feeling. I want to say anything that comes to my head and then conveniently say sorry for it later. I want to do that.”
“So do it,” she says quietly.
“NO!” Shouting whispers.
“I can’t. I’m stuck with who I am. I am fucking stuck.”
“Talk properly.”
We’ve both abandoned our burgers. The remaining fries have gone limp.
“Do what you want, baba. It’s your life now. I have taught you what I knew, rest is your choice.”
“I’m sorry,” I tell her, suddenly fighting tears. The bright lights, the grotesque newness of the place, the insipid filth on our tray – it’s all too much.
She looks away.
“Do you want ice-cream,” I ask her. She has developed a real sweet tooth in recent years.
“No,” she says. “I’ve had enough. Let’s go home.”

We walk back, but not in silence. Our hurts we inflict on each other, are left inside the door of the new McDonald’s around the corner from my house. Now we are discussing Mrs Sarkar from the fourth floor who is very “ghamandi” and never says hello to my mother, even when they’re in the same lift.

“Do you say hello to her?”
“Why should I?”
“She must be thinking the same thing no?”
“Let her bloody think.”
“You are so proud.”

We look sidelong at each other, grinning.

“Shut up,” she says.

*Does this happen to you? Do your parents appear to glow with pride while watching you order food at a restaurant? I’m guessing it’s either to do with some middleclass notion of “Look at us, ordering another less financially successful human being to bring us our meal” or a parental notion of “My offspring, who is paying for this meal, can form articulate sentences!” I couldn't say for sure.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Eyes Ahead

Malolo Lailai, Mamanuca Islands, Fiji; Feb '11
 I try not to concern myself with endings too much. They come swiftly and inevitably, often not needing one to even be awake for the occasion. But beginnings, real beginnings, are a matter of curiosity and courage, belief and forgiveness, tenacity and hope. They're a matter of design. And they take a certain kind.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012


It is uncanny how you are every protagonist I've encountered in the books I read before I go to sleep. The grave English schoolboy with a club foot, the slobby old islander of many upsetting fetishes, a six-foot dwarf unequipped for irony, a swarthy South American alpha male who cries at the drop of a hat. Sometimes you're even the women in my books. 

For years I wondered how you could be all of these people; was I desperately in love with you and just didn't know it yet? Or did I know you so well, I could seek out these kernels of your astronomical personality as unapparent as they were to everybody else? 

But it isn't either. Quite the opposite, actually. Your face is a blank mask that doesn't twitch, not even when I'm in pain. You are these protagonists in one way and one way alone: you are all creatures cobbled together from imagination, meant to be romanced and then let go of. And when I shut my books, you crumple in a lifeless heap.

Reality is no place for your kind.

Republished from a previous blog, written in '11

Friday, May 11, 2012

Angela Fernandes, 26

When she stares out the window, Angela Fernandes feels deflated. This is not the scenery one expects if one is to write a brilliant novel that will sweep many small literary prizes (the big ones belong only to people with exciting names like Patricia Singh and Faghira La Foofie, Angela is not totally unrealistic). The sky is a flat blue, the trees look like they could use a good washing and it appears the squatting labourers have been pissing floral patterns all across the compound wall. The big brown clump of shanties built for them last August is getting more permanent and populous by the day, yet nothing quite like the landscaped extravaganzas the brochures promised has materialised. Angela is secretly relieved.  

“The idea of landscape gardens in a middle-income building complex like ours reeks of the bald self-consciousness one associates with new money,” she writes - this could be the pondering, poignant start to her short story; she’s quite pleased with ‘bald self-consciousness.’ “Except, we’re not new money. Or old money. Or any money. And it will be twenty years before we properly own even just the bare walls of our flats.

Mother is still walking to most places and buying half-rate from the semi-rotten lots at the fruit market. And father has been forced to resume patronizing correspondence with his vile uncle Garth who has both, third stage lung cancer and a third floor apartment in Bandra minus any heirs. Neither has taken a vacation in their lives; they insist their prayer and healing retreats are enough. But having accompanied them to one in a fit of heavily regretted whimsy, one has come away willing to take one’s chances with the eternal fires of hell. 

We are simply not landscape-garden people; perambulating of any kind is not in our nature. A small, regular garden might be nice. Some trees and potted plants and such.”

Angela sighs. It’s terrible, too World According to Angela Fernandes. Then immediately she’s irritable. Why can’t she be luminescently confident like pointy-boobs Laura, the ‘official’ writer in the family, who has recently taken to describing the schmaltzy trite she produces at her weekend writing class as “very, like, Gee Gee Marquez-y?’. The nerve. 

Maybe some pathos, some tragedy, will punch up the story. Because really, is there anything quite as reassuring as somebody else’s horrible luck? She could get a good car crash going – screeching tyres, car erupting in flames, infant in the backseat, that sort of thing. Or wait, wait - she shuts her eyes tight and taps rapidly at the cold floor with her big toe, as if the motion will shake loose the trapped idea – an abortion clinic. The waiting room. Lots of pale girls with old faces scratching their palms nervously, the smell of disinfectant clawing at their dry nostrils; a reedy receptionist covered in piercings, and desperately feisty pro-choice slogans on the wall like ‘I love you, baby, but I love me more!’ and ‘When all you can see is the foe in foetus…’ Angela chuckles. Something is seriously wrong with me, she considers with some satisfaction. The cat in her lap peels open its eyes long enough to glower its agreement before rearranging itself into a tighter ball, only to go slack a moment later. 

Truth is she has no earthly idea what an abortion clinic looks like. She doesn’t even know anybody who’s been to one. Merril and Shalu both had ‘scares’ last year but both times it turned out to be nothing. The only scare Angela’s had in recent times was running into kindly old Prashant-from-HR, and his giant erection, in the passage between the loos. 

To have ‘scares’ you have to have sex, she thinks bitterly. She’d come so close too. That night after choir practice, Perry Colaco had very nearly had her against the lumpy stone wall of the grotto. She slumps back heavily in her chair jerking the cat awake. It’s had quite enough and leaps off, feather-light with contempt. 

The whole thing feels like a badly remembered dream, the details bleed. One day she’s telling Merril how Our Lady of Perpetual Succour’s star alto's quivering, salivating lady-vocals are revolting, the next she’s wondering what he’s like under those ridiculous Chinese collars. The ‘sms’ months are beyond recognition now. The night itself takes more and more concentration to hold on to. Where had the rest of the choir disappeared to? How is it they had been alone at the grotto? What, what, oh, what, had he whispered as he dipped his fingers between her lips, still sweet from Varsha’s birthday cake, as he kneaded the soft center of her taut abdomen before unbuttoning her jeans. She’d been paralyzed with panic and desire; had she even managed to touch him at all? His oddly tapered earlobes, that block-like chest, his arm at least? Was it her cell phone Varsha had come back for, or her hymnal, when she nearly walked into them? She aches at the thought of his mouth, thin and wide, engulfing hers, chewing at her tongue as if it were a tough piece of chicken.

Angela’s getting quite used to her new church. The ceilings are nice and tall and the priests do more than just scold the congregation. Father and mother have begun to make pithy conversation at the table – how is work, the pigeons are still regularly flying into the exhaust fan, His Holiness is looking so old. Merril phoned to say Perry has shifted to his wife’s parents’ house in Bhusaval and does she think he’ll start his own gospel-rock choir there? Exactly where is Bhusaval anyway… nevermind actually, she doesn’t really care, listen to this, Angela will never guess who… Merril is like that. Everybody should have a friend like Merril.

She leans forward once more, smooths the page, reads it over and then rips it out. Perhaps a classic whodunit.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The Familiar

Kashid '11

When I am happy, it feels like indulging in a fun activity for a while -
novel and heady and quite exhausting.
By the end of it, I'm ready to scurry back to my soundproof melancholy.

Happiness is like that wonderful old friend who knew you  when you were a child - predominantly in petticoats, terrorising pigeons -
who, for even five raps of the cane across her palm, wouldn't tell on you.
Long lapses of time are spent working up to her visit.
You will show her the sights, spare no expense,
lavish her with that gratitude you've safe-kept in some shadowy recess of the heart all these years.

But she arrives and soon it is time for her to go
and you haven't even left your living room.
Crumbly photo albums have been brought forth, wine spilled
and batter devoured before it had the chance to become cookies.
"Do you remember the nut job who'd follow you to the egg shop each day?!" you'll chortle.
"My god, I cannot forget," she'll laugh. "Do you remember the way we were?"
"I do," you'll say. "I do."
Right then you are that child once more; incorrigible and vulnerable,
your instincts crackling, possibility thundering in your ears, gossamer clouds of hope everywhere.
Disiloo... jene... menent sounds like something best left to the adults.

Once you've waved her off and her bus has turned a lane and out of sight,
you walk back down the street, so pregnant with quietness, it's like a silent scream.
Your thumping heart once more slips into its familiar, dopey cadence.
You're back to your tea-and-toast evenings, pegging away at that mountain of bills,
the brain no longer an implosion of noise and colour.
Edges and shadows roll back into focus.
Your empty house seems to regard you kindly,
willing to let the last few hours (was it days?) slide without mention.
You stumble upstairs to bed and lie there, dead centre,
until sleep tip-toes in and your eyes no longer brook protest.
You forgot the locks, but then you never have interlopers.

Republished from an older blog, written in '11.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

If Now Is All We Have

Easily my favourite present this year. Thanks M!

"... the main thing in life isn't so much what happens to us as what we think happens to us." - John Lanchester, Early Retirement

I was lucky enough to be gifted a yellowed copy of Granta's '95 edition, Loved Ones, by a friend who has the unrealistic knack for helping written stories find the people who will read them to the bone. It is a collection of 13 short stories where writers "consider their relationships with those who were, or should have been, close to them." Itchily personal and wincingly frank, the stories are as much about great writing as the ability to extricate difficult and transformative truths from the things that happen to us.

So far, my favourite is John Lanchester's Early Retirement, about his banker father who led a fairly happy life but whose ghost of What Might Have Been never did leave him, until he woke up one day, still new to retirement, and promptly died. For the large part, Lanchester seems to commiserate with his father's evaluation that his life has been one of squandered promise, yet at times, like in the pull-quote above, he quietly alludes to his doubts about whether his father's mute discontent wasn't just a figment of his imagination.

It's an interesting question, isn't it? One I have pondered endlessly myself; torn between wondering if I'm skirting a martyr complex or whether life is really that needlingly shitty sometimes. Whether probable happiness is better than definite safety and whether What Might Have Been, Never Was, because We  Never Let It.

Ps: The new header is courtesy my alien friend G. Thank you, fatso.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

28 Years

He saw her, he saw she was sublime.
She saw him, she liked his shoes.
"She made me want to start over," he'd later say,
"They were *really* nice shoes," she'd shrug.
The other men stood beneath their windows
wooing her friends with spangly trinkets.
He came for her twice a month.
Five chikus were his offering.
"Did you know they're also called sapota?"
She stared at him, then shook her head slowly.

They went through the motions
Got married.
She for a roof, he for a second chance.
Had children.
She for companionship,
he to prove he could.
She from despair, he from indifference.
Because they both keep promises.

The worst has passed,
for the first time they notice each other.
His mangled hands,
her maddening pronunciations.
His emotional stutter,
her unbelievable strength.
The story is told that
for the five days she wasn't home once,
he went hungry.
"She didn't make it, it wasn't worth eating."

The beautiful bits always stop short
so you never forget just how good it got.
She awoke one afternoon with the deafening silence,
his breath had stilled for the last time.
For as long as she lives,
she will never forget his slumped head
or that feeling of being well and truly alone.

The years fan out.
Some worth remembering,
some just disappear into others.
There are no smiling portraits on the wall.
No gracefully yellowed black and white photographs.
And the mind's moths continue uninterrupted.

The hallmarks of true love
have changed since 1981 too.
"Of course he loves me, but he listens to bhangra-pop!"
"She's perfect except for her beer belly."
"I think I love him. Or do I?
No, I do, I do. But what if I don't?"
Thank God she's hard of hearing.
These eedyets wouldn't know love
if it smacked them full in the face.
She'd tell them her story
but devotion isn't part of their vocabulary.

Republished from an older blog, written in '09.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Romance Isn't Dead, It's In The Obituaries

I've always been drawn to the obituary section of the newspaper, possibly for the same reason I stare into people's homes who live close to flyovers - it's as much fuel for my imagination as it is straight up voyeurism. These strangers intrigue me so; beloved mothers, sons, grandfathers and wives, feted in death with pixelated pictures and painfully earnest poetry of unfortunate rhyme schemes. Nowadays it's the young ones I look out for, and find with too much frequency. 'Born 1979'; she would've been in the 4th standard when I was born, I think, probably had just begun writing with a fountain pen. Had this serious boy with the caterpillar brows, 'God's newest angel', seen the news three days ago and like me also sighed about people dying too young? Usually I'll come away somewhat sobered, or chuckling inappropriately.

Not today though. Today the obituary section made me smile stickily, made me fuzzy with romance. Take a look.

A love note if I ever saw it.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

The Importance of Girlfriends

I consider my natural disposition about as friendly as a doberman’s. I have this unique superpower which lets me, by the sheer act of showing up to a social gathering, cause comfort and conversation to shrivel up and die. Then I proceed to fill this new cavernous void with deep and resonating awkwardness, which I will exponentially worsen by clearing my throat about twenty thousand times. I have literally, without even using my hands, awkwarded people’s relatives into sudden hospitalization and unforeseen doughnut emergencies on the other side of town. I tell you this not because I take some twisted pride in it – even though I kind of do – but to illustrate how I’m really not very skilled at interacting with other humans.

You will understand why then, every couple of days, when I’m going about my business writing a story, tormenting the dog or trying to lick the floor of a Nutella jar, I’ll suddenly stop and think, “I have friends. I have friends? I HAVE FRIENDS.” It has the very same effect as when I eat that first French fry after a long hiatus – tremulous happiness mixed with terrible foreboding. But I digress. The real epiphany here is that when I think this happy thought, I only think of it in terms of my handful of girl friends.

This goes back to my all-girl, convent education perhaps, or maybe it’s just that from a ridiculously early age I was very aware that boys were boys and girls were girls for reasons that are only for my future therapist’s ears. I have often thought of this as one of the many great tragedies of my life (WHY did they cancel Studio 60 On The Sunset Strip?!), but what it meant was I never ended up developing any unselfconscious friendships with boys, while simultaneously forging a number of relationships with women that, if they were romantic, would easily qualify as epic love stories. Actually, you know what, they are epic love stories.

Forget about the big boorish clichés like going to the bathroom in groups, discussing in-growths in unhappy places and how all men are alternately awesome and awful. I’m talking about the ones that don’t make it to sitcoms – the rise in a girlfriend’s voice when she’s viscerally feeling outrage on your behalf. The way she can tell your happy silence from your awkward silence from the silence that is barely holding back your guttural sobs. The way we have defended one another’s honour and indeed, dishonour. The way it’s ‘Us against the World/ Whoever’s Pissing You Off At The Moment’ season all year between me and my girlfriends. The code of ethics we have constructed piecemeal over time, whose nuances we intuitively understand, but can’t explain, especially not to the uncommonly daft boys we like. The way our relationships essay every other kind of relationship at different points in time – I’ve caught myself telling a friend that she is not to do a certain something-something in the very voice my mother used to use to make me drink milk of magnesia. I’ve also exchanged I Love Yous with these women, with the kind of intensity and truth I hitherto thought belonged only between a couple. We have been confident enough in our friendships so that we’ve spat virulent, unedited accusations at one another and then begged forgiveness without the slightest cost to our egos. Like I said - I was aware of my ostensible girlness - not girlieness - very early on, but only truly became aware of its gravitas in the enduring company of these women.

At 26, I have managed to accrue a nice lot of meaningful male friendships as well, and I can confess that often I like to escape the girlfriends for their relative simplicity and linearity. I cannot even begin to tell you what an unqualified jock/jerk I’m capable of being around these guys. Until of course one of them offends some ladylike sensibility neither they, nor I, knew I had. Then it’s race-dialing the bestie with “GUESS WHAT HE JUST SAID TO ME…,” fervently hoping she’ll be able to tell me why I’m this mad. And you had better believe she will.

Republished from an older blog.

Monday, April 2, 2012

A Suburban Nightmare

For a while now (six years to be exact), I’ve observed that my having moved to and living in the suburbs tends to elicit certain kinds of reactions.

Commonly, there’s hilarity. A mandatory ‘gaon’(village) joke, which is usually as artful as “HAHAHA YOUR GAON (name of my gaon)!” Other comedic gems include “I’d like to do a little ‘load shedding’ of my own” accompanied by a wagging-eyebrow-glinting-incisor combo that would make Pepé Le Pew feel violated. And lest I forget that old classic, “we want to visit you, passport on arrival? LOLOL.” 
After I am done disposing off the bodies in our communal tank, I’m immediately overcome by remorse - should I have tried the abandoned truck stop just before the toll naka instead? Stick the city, always enunciating its separateness from mine, with its own abhorrences? Then I remember I’m not five, or Aakar Patel. And no city deserves to be judged by its twats. Because if we know the nature of twats, it’s that they’re a tenacious lot who will always find a way to be insufferable, no matter their geography.

That said, I’ll still take the jocular ones over the Overcompensators. This set has no geographical prejudice, they want to make perfectly clear. And if it weren’t for their lazy drivers and overprotective mothers, I couldn’t stop them from coming over every weekend even if I wanted to! Apparently my suburb is THE BEST (it’s not), SO CLOSE (it’s not), PRETTY HAPPENING (far from), NO POLLUTION (HEH) and what’s the cost of realty here - maybe they should think about investing. In the six years I’ve been here, I’ve had personal visitors of a grand total of seven.

Then there are the wider social implications. Almost anytime I’m attending a gathering of some sort in town and the question of where I live comes up, one of two things happens: Either my answer is met with surprise quickly followed by the sympathetic head-cock, eyes radiating ‘oh, the travails of the poor’ compassion. Or it’s met with surprise and followed by praise for my countryside grit - God only knows what horrors I’ve had to endure on my voyage here, for who knows what lurks in the hearts of men on the Central Line beyond Sion. And would I like to be served dinner right away so I can gather my strength to begin my return journey at the earliest? Perhaps even have my wineskin replenished?

Dating is a different minefield altogether. Over the years, my dates have thoughtfully suggested we meet early in the day so I’ll make it in time to catch the late train - “Public transport is so much safer than taking a cab alone at some ungodly night hour.” The braver ones venture an “I could drop you… if you want”, eyes imploring my mercy.

But my absolute favourite domicile-related experience went down just a few weeks ago. It was a clockwork progression of all the reactions I’ve mentioned so far. A friend had carefully (really blatantly) orchestrated a social run-in where I found myself sitting beside the guy she thought was perfect for me. He’s wasn’t. But he was not intolerable either – nice bum. Conversation meandered from vintage showcases to his business prospects to my camera’s features, with him issuing a torrent of witticisms and guffawing loudly while I waited. And then it happened.

“Where’re you coming from today?” he asks. I tell him and we’re off!

Eyes widen. Check.

Head cocks. Check.

“How did you get here?” Mildly comforted when I say by car – at least I’m operating over the poverty line.

“Do you even have electricity in your gaon?! (GUFFAW GUFFAW)” Check.

“But jokes apart, I’ve heard it’s the new ‘town’.” Sigh.

Reader, I don’t think I'll marry him.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Easy There, Tiger

I once didn’t date this guy who was smart, funny, had nice eyes - kind of like an Indian Paul Rudd but unquestionably straight - and who appreciated women of all shapes and sizes – Padma Lakshmi, Nigella Lawson, Lisa Ray, this girl on Twitter, the Zara sales attendant, my best friend.

At first, being the emotionally evolved, 21st century girl that I most definitely, without fail, am, I flattered myself I’d made it comfortable for him to discuss other women with me. It was natural, after all, wasn’t it? I too feel certain stirrings every time I see Daniel Craig in high def, emerging from the sea like Poseidon in a wee bathing suit. And according to the roughly ten thousand gender theses out there, acknowledging freely that you both will likely find other people hot at one time or another is the hallmark of a successful postmodern relationship. Capital, I thought, and didn’t date him some more.

A coterie of my girlfriends, assembled over mint juleps, roundly decreed that I had dodged a bullet with that particular one. However, what the precise rules were for this sort of situation elicited less of a consensus. “It would depend on just how many cute bums he was noticing, and whose,” said one. “And exactly where does my bum figure in all of this” said another. “All this healthy expression stuff gets on my nerves,” a third one said, violently up-ending her glass. “Write it in a bloody diary and shut up about it.” We all nodded.

A mother of a hangover later, a few thoughts still niggled. Had I been too sensitive? All he’d really done was been honest, too honest even. Wait a minute, I thought, suddenly cross, should I be grateful that he had ‘liked’ my friend’s rather saucy picture on Facebook, in plain view of me and everybody on our collective
lists? This time I called up the boy brigade for some answers.

Why are all of you such pigs? I asked conversationally. And wasn’t Indian Paul Rudd’s behaviour inexcusable? No sweeping wave of sympathy or cries of 'down with him!'’ here. “It depends,” said one carefully. “Truth is we’re noticing hot women all the time, whether we tell you about it or not. Women do it too, we’re not stupid. Total disclosure is not necessary, but it’s nice to be able to say it out loud once in a way. “Equal opportunity leering,” another said. “If I can ogle, she can too. And vice versa.” “And anyone we both know and are likely to meet often is off limits, so no complimenting her cousin’s décolletage,” he added. “I don’t care for Paul Rudd,” finally said the one who’d been silent all this while. "Night at the Museum was awful.”

I thought about this (ate fries) - the men and women were more or less agreed on how a situation like this should play out. Rapport was important, but tact more so. And 100 percent disclosure was more often than not, bloody stupi… my eyes swung back a line. Did I just say men and women had agreed on something? They had arrived at the same conclusion all on their own? Had I just orchestrated a rare moment of harmony in the otherwise knotty fabric that is interplay of the sexes? Would Harper Collins see it that way? I said a silent prayer to Paul Rudd. 

A version of this piece appeared in Grazia India.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Another Surprise

They never tell you you might have your life's most profound thoughts on the pot right after an ill-advised breakfast of goat marrow (nalli) and unleavened bread (naan), do they?