Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Where to begin...

My nose is a lot better now, thank you. It drips a lot lesser and is only a faint pink today.
On the other hand, the ennui of the past few days is costing me dearly, I'm running behind on pretty much everything.

I've been asked to write an article on life in the Defense services. You'd think I'd be overflowing with words on the subject, I certainly thought I would be. But I'm drawing a strange blank. I have pages and pages of notes, points to mention, anecdotes, but no structure and no place to begin.

How do I describe in 800 words, a way of life so alien to civilians? A life where every man who sees your father on the road snaps his heels together and says "Jai Hind Saab". A life when you transfer schools every year making new friends each time, some of whom you discover ten years later on orkut, changed beyond recognition. A life in which your father goes away when you're eleven for Operations, and you aren't told where he's gone or what he's doing. A life where a huge community of women left alone with their children in a military camp, spend their time cheerfully organizing Coffee Mornings and Welfare Meets.

I love the Army life, it has made me who I am, and it has given me a tremendous respect for these men and their families who have such indomitable spirit.
Still, none of this is getting me any closer to a smashing opener for my article, and the clock's a ticking.

Monday, September 29, 2008

I Hab A Cold

My body's a little strange. Generally, you're supposed to have a cold, which you carefully nurse so it develops into a fever that then merrily runs its course and leaves you with a hacking cough as a parting favour. This season, my body went all topsy turvy on me, beginning with the fever last week and waiting till I was almost recovered to launch the cold on me. I bet the graveyard cough's just around the corner too.

I've sniffled so much in class today, I annoyed myself. I've sneezed seven times in the past 30 seconds (Yes, I counted) and my eyes are watering so badly, I can hardly see what I'm typing, so please excuse any spelling mistakes. I slept this afternoon with my nose pillowed in a handkerchief, because it's been dripping like a broken tap all day. I've lost the ability to pronounce certain words properly and the moment one nostril gets unclogged, the other one fills up. I've given up hope that I'll ever be able to breathe freely through my nose again. My entire outlook on life has changed, it seems hopeless and filled with hours of shivering, red-eyed torture.

I had a bunch of whimsical posts about frivolous things like Mumbai autos and south Indian food lined up for posting here, but none of them suited my mood. I know this blog generally contains the 'Stars are God's daisy chain' type of posts, but I'm only human. I really needed to rant. And now, I'm off to bed. At ten thirty. Life can really suck sometimes.

Monday, September 22, 2008

My pillowcase

Yesterday in one of my rare fits of cleanliness, I cast around for a rag to wipe my table and mirror clean. The only one I could find was an old, ripped pillowcase. The pillowcase happened to be one I'd embroidered about 8 years ago, as an anniversary present to my parents. Looking at the faded cloth and trailing stitches brought a whole wave of memories.

Very few of you know that I once did a great deal of embroidery. It was in the summer after 5th standard, and Amma was at her wits end with two rambunctious children always in the house. So we were unceremoniously packed off, K to basketball and I to embroidery and music. We lived in Yol then, a tiny military camp next to Dharamshala. Summers in Yol were sunny and carefree. We lived in a house on the side of a mountain. The top of the mountain would be covered in snow every winter, but in the summer, green things grew and honeysuckle covered everything. If you peered down the side of our mountain, you would see a grumbling stream cutting through the valley. On the other side rose more mountains, covered with pine forests and further away- with snow. One of our favourite walks was to wade across the stream and lose ourselves in the pine forest. Whenever Appa was free from his Commanding Officer duties, we would take long hikes to try and reach the snow covered mountain we could see from our terrace. We never did though...

But I digress. I have always admired embroidery and the lovely things you can create with it. After those classes, I also learned to appreciate the tremendous labour that goes into it. But for my restless 10 year old fingers, it was too much to ask to sit patiently and set stitch by tiny stitch. I raced through all the stitches, from the basic chain stitch to the herring bone and shadow work. A cross stitch tablecloth plagued me for two whole months before I gave it up in disgust. Amma was showered with embroidered handkerchiefs that summer, they were the only things I had the patience to make. Appa was also proudly gifted a large white handkerchief with a violet in the corner. To his credit, he carried it around for weeks.

So when my parents' anniversary came around, it only made sense to embroider something for them. We were big on DIY gifts then, and K and I would always compete on who could make the better present. Most of our presents were shamelessly mercenary like cardboard furniture for Barbie or friendship bands, but they were always received by Amma and Appa with exclamations of joy and pride. Monogrammed pillowcases were the way to go, I decided. They would put K's bookmarks to shame. I ruffled through my embroidery book and found a lovely rosebud pattern. I decided "His" and "Hers" would be too much effort, so reasoning brillliantly, settled upon a giant "A". It could stand for either Amma or Appa for weren't they both as one?
I worked late into the night and set the stitches for a huge, curving "A" with yellow rosebuds in the side. The next morning, my parents found the pillowcase gift wrapped and ready on their bedside, and they made several very proper exclamations.

That pillowcase travelled with us, from Yol to Jabalpur and to Secunderabad, then to Meerut and then Secunderabad again, and finally with me, here to Mumbai. I gave up embroidery long ago, but I could still point at that sweeping "A" and proudly tell people that I made that when I was twelve. Now though, the pillowcase has lived its life. It was finally used to wipe my mirror clean yesterday. But it deserved one last hurrah here, before it went. You see, I embroidered it.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

It's raining again

Mumbai weather... I've lived here three years now, but I still can't predict it. All I can do is always always carry an umbrella with me, between the months of August and October.
This morning, sun rays from my east-facing window woke me up at an unearthly hour. Now, at 4 in the afternoon, it's dark and rainy and the sky is rumbling like it ate something bad for lunch.

My moods are very attuned to the weather. If it's sunny, I feel sunny, if it's cold, I'm rather sniffly. Rain- that makes me reflective. I've wondered about my purpose in life, about how much I can procrastinate the mountains of work I'm reluctant to do, and generally contemplated my uselessness. (This is not a hint for you to leave reassuring comments contradicting me. I'm not that desperate) In short, I've thought about just about everything these past three hours, but Nuclear Physics. God, give me some concentration!

PS: It's definitely a sign that I'm out of ideas if I dedicate an entire post to the weather. But I had rather blog than mug, so bear with me.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Time and sticky sweets

Two topics that would seem hard to link together in a metaphor, right? But somehow I managed it today in semiconductors class, in that half a minute before I jerked back to attention again.

Time sometimes feels like those brightly coloured sweets you see in shop windows. You pull and pull at it and end up swallowing a great chunk. It isn't possible to delicately nibble, you don't get the flavour or enjoy the sweetness. They come in all colours, from vermillion red to emerald green, to sickly yellow and burnt black.