24.1.14

Friday Fun: Fact/Fiction

(I sometimes make these things up. And I sometimes don't.)

Apparently, the latest must-have requirement for a fashion model is something called a 'thigh gap'. Which of course means that teenage girls are going to insane lengths of anorexia to achieve it, even though it's extremely difficult to manufacture one (unlike, you know, building muscles).

I suddenly realised that despite all my years of uber-hyper-appetite, I have one of those.

I'm not sure whether to:

1) Be utterly mortified and rush to the nearest gym and start doing heavy barbell squats to rectify the situation.
2) Get onto the forums where girls discuss this and troll them into tears by crowing about my genes*.
3) Just wax my legs and earn money by modelling (print, most likely).

Choices, choices.



* In the hope that they'd see the inanity of their actions and drop this pursuit, of course. I am a good person, after all. No, really.

22.1.14

'Tis the season

It's a strange thing, but I've only recently had cause to care about the seasons.

Growing up, I never really associated seasons with the weather.  I mean, it was Bombay - what seasons? You had the rains, and then the rest of the year just sort of merged into a flow of muggy and different-levels-of-warm months. Except for May, which was particularly dusty and sticky. Ok fine, and two weeks in Dec-Jan, which were purely an excuse for people to flaunt their woollens even though it was 17C. Apart from that, actual, defined seasons such as spring and autumn and winter were these fancy things you read about in books, or which happened to relatives in places far away.

What I did associate them with, was food. You knew 'summer' was around because mangoes appeared in the market and because you could get a bellyache every afternoon eating a whole watermelon (just so you could use its rind as a cool (geddit? geddit?) hat). You knew 'winter' was here because those nice red 'Dilli' carrots were in season, and because every Gujju household went into overdrive making undhiyo. Spring? Gotta be chikoos from Dahanu. Autumn? Strawberries from Panchgani.

So I looked at my plate, not the skies.

And then I moved to England. Where all I did was look at the skies.

Again though, given how random and arbitrary the climate is in the country, it's hard to associate seasons with the weather.  To me, the only noticeable difference in seasons are the daylight hours.  You know it's summer because once a month, the weather's nice enough for you to go for a picnic in the park at 8pm and believe it's afternoon.  Oh, and for a week or so at a stretch, you can even walk around without socks without having the heating on.  You know it's winter because you've turned into a hobbit and are eating two dinners - one at 6pm when your eyes tell you to, and one at 9pm when your stomach tells you to.  And because occasionally there's ice. But then that happens in March too.

So, no real difference in seasons.

But now, after having moved here, for the first time I've really started noticing - and reacting to - the difference in the weather as the seasons change. There's a proper cold months-long winter, with dark evenings and chilly nights, requiring hot soups and gloves and yearning looks at the sky.  Then there's a proper spring, full of days that are warm but not hot and nights that bring the flowers a-budding. And then there's a scorching summer, where all you do is pant and lie thanking the person who invented airconditioning. And an actual autumn, with leaves being shed and temperatures visibly cooling, and cocktails on balconies.

It's a bit ... unreal.  I keep finding myself unprepared for the changes, and realising that yes, summer clothes and winter clothes do need to be packed away and aired. I keep finding myself surprised by just how ... permanent each season is, and by how definitely it morphs into the next.  I find myself not peeking out and seeing what sort of day it is, because it's the same sort of day every day.

But, in a sort of reversal, you get all the fruits all through the year now (well, except mangoes). Sure, they're cheaper in the actual season they used to be available in, but you can still get them at any time of the year. When did this happen? Are these being grown artificially? Are they frozen stock? Are they being imported? Nobody knows, or if they do, they ain't telling. And so my year-fruit-clock has gone completely out of whack.

... I wonder what the next place I end up with will have in store.


16.1.14

What he said

"Whatever happens, they say afterwards, it must have been Fate. 

People are always a little confused about this, as they are in the case of miracles. When someone is saved from certain death by a strange concatenation of circumstances, they say that's a miracle. But of course if someone is killed by a freak chain of events - the oil spilled just there, the safety fence broken just there - that must also be a miracle. Just because it's not nice doesn't mean its not miraculous."

- Terry Pratchett (Interesting Times)

14.1.14

Chasing memories

It was always about the thrill of the hunt.

You marked your terrritories and, by purple, you fought to retain them.  If any marauders dared enter your zone, your pack got together and chased them - even if a moment later you were all hissing at each other over the latest prize.

And then, patience.

You waited and waited, and waited, watching every move eagerly, but patiently.  Over-anticipate and you ended up snatching at air. Or somebody's hair (spite, baby).

You watched and you watched, and when one came your way, you ran.  You dodged and you tracked and you ran onto cars and into trees and up on Shouts-Loudly-At-Cricket-Time Auntie's window.  You didn't look down at what you'd stepped into, you didn't look ahead to make sure you weren't barging into somebody (did they not know the chase was on?).  You just looked up, head pulled back as if by an invisible thread, and you watched the thread.  And you kept your nerve and you calculated the angle and monitored the wind direction and you allowed for window-drag and as it got closer, you waited and waited and ... wait for it ... and elbow! and jump.

And if you managed to avoid the pitfalls of being tripped and of wet-ears and shorts-pulled-down (what? beshht tactic) and you got your arms around it and embraced it quickly to your chest, gently but firmly, practicising for your lothario years to come, and you kept it away from poking fingers and tearing hands, then ... well, then the kite was yours. 

The kite was yours.

It was yours and you had it and everybody knew it and they grudgingly, resentfully backed off.  And that moment, that moment was groovy.

(And if you got the kite and all the manjhaa ... oh, baby)

And you were hooked onto it.  And that is why you never learnt to fly kites properly (besides, kites as a proxy for fighting? There was monsoon-football for that. Or marbles. Or hide-and-seek. Or ... anything really). And that is why you never had to buy any kites, ever.  And that is why you would scream louder than the winner of a kite-match, because really, it was you who really knew the thrill.

And that is why you stayed down and stayed low and you ran.  You ran in the holidays and you ran after coming home from school and you ran even when it was too dark to see if it was a kite or a bat.  

You ran.

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It's been so many years since I was in Bombay for Sankrant.

Growing up, January in the city was all about kites. Christmas was gone, a new year was here, and you were still on holidays and things were supposed to be ... easy.  No sports, no games, just kites.

The kids started in the afternoon, and by the evening, the adults had joined in.  Shivering slightly at the nippy sea breeze bringing the last of the winter across, bundled in our sweaters ('beta, sweater pehno') at 18C. Every day would see a few more joining in, slowly filling up the skies with colour and shouts.

We used to make noise from the ground too, egging on vain fliers into battles they didn't want, and gleefully screaming when they lost, and lost their kites.  No sympathy - they had more of those bought kites to spare.  Every day going home to count the day's, and the overall, tally. Some days more kites than books.

Two weeks of kites and thread and kites and thread and then on the main day ... manna from heaven. Run run run ... jump.

(I'm not sure what I used to do with those kites after it was all over.  Maybe I gave them away to anybody who wanted to fly them.  Maybe I stashed them away till one day re-discovering their mildewed remains.)

Today, however ... heck, even 15 years ago, it had changed.  Who had the time for kites?  We had liberalisation, and cable, and even The InterNet.  We had money to make, and worlds to explore, and games to cheat-code on, and people to write to now now.

I would stand at my window, too grown-up to run, too disinterested to fly, watching the swoops and soars and the dheel de-ing and then go back to this world of books and music and art and movies and knowledge that I was discovering.

I imagine it's worse now.  There's probably an app somewhere that lets you indulge virtually.  Maybe the only shouts of Kai Po are from somebody watching the film.

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One year, I'll go back to the city on the day.
And if there's even one kite in the sky around, I'll run.
I will run.