Friday, December 31, 2010

Last post of the year - promise

I like to do my annual flashback post sometime in the first week of January, after the New Year excitement has settled down. Tantanoo's post of last night, however, got me wanting to do one right away, and I just saw this on someone's blog, and figured I'll do a quick retrospect using this.

1. What did you do in 2010 that you’d never done before?
Visited the Vatican. Took the GMAT. Went for the Jaipur Lit Fest. Cycled 18-odd kilometres uphill and downhill. Met someone I knew only through twitter.

2. Did you keep your new year's resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
Didn't make any.
If I have to make any it would to look out of the window every morning and check the weather before getting dressed.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
No longer close, but a bachpan ki saheli had a baby boy a few days back.

4. Did anyone close to you die?

5. What places did you visit?
Jaipur, Bangalore, Rome, Florence, Pisa, Kolkata, Mumbai - in that order. Nice no? :)

6. What would you like to have in 2011 that you lacked in 2010?
Good health. Maybe some romance? Peace of mind.

7. What date from 2010 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
27 March. Got robbed in Rome. 'Nuff said.
Also, 18 July. Was in Chandigarh for a wedding, called dad on my way to the venue to hear mum was in surgery.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
My GMAT score?

9. What was your biggest failure?
Lost a project at work that I was really keen on. On a more personal note, probably some interpersonal issues I've been having with people, a lot of which was my fault, much as I'd like to believe otherwise.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
Got diagnosed with mild asthma. Had viral a few times.

11. What was the best thing you bought?
My laptop!
Also my purple handbag - only 5 Euros in a Florence flea market. :D

12. Whose behaviour merited celebration?
No idea.

13. Whose behaviour made you appalled and/or depressed?
Some people I've worked with.

14. Where did most of your money go?
The robbers? My laptop, paying dad back, and sundry other stuff.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
Was really excited about going to Jaipur. Was also excited about a family trip to Calcutta that had been planned for July/August - it got cancelled.

16. What song will always remind you of 2010?
None in particular.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you happier or sadder?
Sadder. Haven't liked this year.

18. Thinner or fatter?
WAY fatter.

19. What do you wish you’d done more of?
Met friends. Been nicer to the family.

20. What do you wish you’d done less of?

21. How will you be spending Christmas?
Spent it at home, sleeping half the day, working through the rest. Had a friend come over for dinner.

22. Did you fall in love in 2010?
Almost, but not quite. :)

23. How many one-night stands?

24. What was your favourite TV programme?
Castle. LOST's final season too :)

25. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?

26. What was the best book you read?
The Zoya Factor - Anuja Chauhan.
Dork - Sidin Vadukut
And you may consider it a miracle that I read anything at all.

27. What was your greatest musical discovery?
Does NY Masti count?

28. What did you want and get?

29. What did you want and not get?
A bit o' romance? I dunno, can't think of anything.

30. What was your favourite film of this year?
Haven't actually seen too many this year. Probably How to train your dragon. Also Deathly Hallows 1.

31. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
Turned 25. Was terribly anxious about it, as evidenced in this post. Did nothing major - took the friends out for lunch the weekend before the birthday, took colleagues out for lunch on the day itself, dinner was with the parents.

32. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
Less interpersonal issues with people. NOT GETTING ROBBED IN ROME.

33. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2010?
I don't have one. The BFF will vouch for this.

34. What kept you sane?
Friends and family. An email from the brother, mid-April.

35. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
None that I can think of. The dude from the Raymonds ad who I met at Midnight Mass?

36. What political issue stirred you the most?
Argh. Most? Hard to pick. CWG, the Radiia tapes, the IPL and Tharoor scandal, the telecom scandal, and so many others. List is endless no?

37. Who did you miss?
The brother, mostly. He keeps going away.

38. Who was the best new person you met?
The aforementioned person who I'd only spoken to on twitter previously. Didn't meet too many other people who mattered, at any rate.

39. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2010.
Be nicer to people. STOP putting things off. People care, even if they don't say it.

40. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.
Shoulda woulda coulda.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Suddenly, suddenly

It's funny how memories pop into your head at times. I was in the car this afternoon, on my way back from a meeting with a client, and thinking of one of the essays I still need to finish. While mentally composing the essay, I stumbled over the word "parallelly", something I often do. And then it struck me that MS Word never does recognise that word anyway, and I should probably use the phrase "in parallel".

Which is when I suddenly remembered the mother's copy of the Oxford English Dictionary. I can't remember a time she didn't have it. It was so much more than just a dictionary - it was like a memory album. Its pages contained dried flowers, little scribbled notes, and numerous photos. Photos of the brother and me, photos of the parents, photos of Dadu. Photos of my cousins as babies, reminding Mamma of the sheer joy she felt when she became a Pishi for the first time. That dictionary was to be handled with immense care, because picking it up meant picking up memories of more than a decade.

I haven't seen it in a long while, not since we moved house, actually. But it popped into my head this afternoon.

Places have memories too. Golden Dragon is by no means my favourite restaurant. It is, however, in the mall that is closest to our house, and the food is decent. By default, therefore, a number of memories have got associated with it.

September 2008 - The parents and I discovered they serve darsaan, the mother's favourite dessert, during Pujo. We also decided that since I was now working, I should treat them to dinner once a month. The father saw the bill, and decided henceforth McDonald's is good enough for such treats.
November 2008 - The mother's birthday, I was catching an evening flight out to Bombay, so I promised her I would join them for lunch.
December 2008 - The parents completed 25 years of togetherness, but we put off celebrations till the brother came home from college a week later. We went out for dinner, I got my hair curled for the first time! The father was supposed to officially gift the mother the earrings he had bought her, even though she'd been wearing them for a week already. He opened the box in the restaurant, and discovered he had got the worn, and empty, box. All captured on video.
March 2009 - My birthday fell on Holi. While the city enjoyed a holiday, I was travelling to Chennai on work. Managed to catch an earlier flight back, and joined the parents for dinner straight from the airport.
September 2009 - Pujo again, this time accompanied by a new colleague, who the parents sort of adopted for Pujo because she was Bengali and knew no one else in Gurgaon. Who knew a year later she would become such a dear friend?
2010 - The best friend was in town, and after a dozen mail exchanges, Gurgaon was finally decided as the venue for the get together between the gal pals. Do you have any idea how hard it is to get five of us together in one place at one time? Tip: Just decide the venue for dinner and inform them, don't ask them. It's what I'm doing for New Year's Eve too.

We don't go back so often now, but passing that mall tends to bring a smile to my face anyway.

The father and I still debate over who'll pay the bill every time we go out though.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Outrage, yet again

Some time back, my friend Puneet had blogged about how Indians aren't really seen as Asians in the eyes of the world. It was an interesting perspective, and she had shared this fabulous site which attempts to prove that we are, in fact, eligible to be called Asians.

What stayed with me, however, was this comment that she received on her post:
hehehe... I guess thats what you call an irony then. I'm Indian, but nobody ever considers me to be Indian, however hard I try to be because I'm from the North East where most of us look "oriental" (or should I say "Asian" acc to your post context).

I guess we can conclude that the ignorance you find over there in the West, is pretty much abundant here within India too :) Nice post.

It's true, innit? I was once asked by the security guard at a client site about my "Nepali" colleague - she's Sikkimese.

Why am I bringing this up today, after more than a year? Because once again, I find myself worked up over something, and I'm too passive-aggressive to do anything other than blog about it.

This tweet popped up on my timeline a couple of hours ago:
Tell me when you figure it out!!! RT @ How the heck do sardaars land up with hot chicks?
And I'm sorry, but I did not find this anything other than very, very poor taste. I unfollowed the originator of that tweet a long time back, so whether this was meant as a joke, or it was sour grapes, or what, I don't know, nor do I wish to know. What it came across, however, to me at least, is terribly racist - for lack of a better word.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Conversations with the extended family

I am currently in disgrace with the mother because I was a bit too vocal about my opinions at a family wedding last night. Who knew that if a ten-year-old cousin wants to take my phone and read all my messages, I'm not supposed to tell her that's an utterly rude thing to do?

The mother is always slightly tense when the clan converges. You know how in the Koffee with Karan episode Sonam Kapoor had to measure every word she was saying because her mother had made her promise not to come back with the hamper? That is how my mother feels when I am let loose in public - she is never quite sure what I will burst out saying.

My state of disgrace is worsened by the fact that these four asses in the car next to us chose to roll down their windows at a traffic signal and start passing comments at me. Apparently saying rather loudly that those asses deserve to be whipped is not lady-like and therefore not acceptable in front of the clan.

It was decided weeks ago that the mother and the aunts would wear saris - they were the mashi-shashuris tonight after all - but we cousins would all be in suits. Much relief was felt by yours truly, but when I met the aunt in the morning in the market, she again asked what I would be wearing. On being told suit:
Aunt: Wear a nice sari no? What if you meet some nice prospects there?
Me: Any nice prospects will be seeing me in suits only all his life. Might as well start out that way only no.

She was not amused. On reaching the venue however:
Uncle: I don't think we're finding you any nice prospects here.
Me (in my head): Hee. Good to know you're as much as a snob as me.
Me (out loud): I will try to live with the disappointment.

On the way back from the venue, my 11-year-old cousin decide to get us started on Antakshari. Unfortunately, her father and I chose to sing only old songs from the 70s and earlier, which meant she was utterly blank. When she finally got exasperated and commented on it, her 10-year-old brother piped up: It's okay na, Baba is anyway always old-fashioned.

What does that say about me, I wonder?

Monday, December 13, 2010

Playing Agony Aunt

I'm currently sitting at the Mumbai airport yet again, and while I should ideally use this time to work on some essays, the brain is simply not working in that direction. Since some kind of productivity would be nice, I'm going to instead try and reproduce a post that wrote itself in my head yesterday, and which sort of got reinforced in the past hour that was just spent with the best friend.

I don't think I've ever written about love and relationships on this blog, primarily because, well, there's never been anything to write about. And no, there still isn't, not really. But it's that time of year when you tend to start thinking about the last twelve months, and for various reasons, I've spent a lot of time playing Agony Aunt to friends about their relationships this year.

Two very dear friends found themselves in relationships this year; one ended soon after, one is still going strong, touch wood, although the friend concerned does keep asking me how the guy concerned can still like her despite knowing her so well. Another friend broke up with her boyfriend of two years, because he's not ready for commitment, and doesn't know when he will be.

At least three friends at last count have their parents looking very actively for a suitable match - much hilarity, outrage and heartbreak has ensued from this process; maybe someday when they're able to look back and laugh at all of it, I'll churn out another post on it. Yet another friend keeps getting in touch with his ex-girlfriend, finds more proof of the fact that she's as weird as I always told him she is, and then comes to me to vent it all out.

I have also discovered that the childhood ideal of thinking that the cutest love stories are the ones where childhood best friends fall in love is really not true. It is actually very awkward when one good friend from bachpan ke din starts having feelings which are not returned. I still think the sweetest love story I ever saw on celluloid is the one between the Bachchans in Sholay though.

But I digress.

In college, I was always the one who said marriage is not a priority, my career is. That still holds true, but the fact that I am now in my mid-twenties means my friends are a lot more vocal about trying to convince me to believe otherwise - because for them getting married and having kids always was and still is the ultimate dream. Some near spats have happened over this - I don't tell them to make their career a priority, who're they to tell me to change my dreams?

At the same time, maybe it's because of my continued singlehood (is that a word?) that a lot of my advice tends to be on the more pragmatic side. While I will rant a bit if you tell my friend "we're in a normal relationship, not a serious one" (what in the name of heaven does that even mean?!?), I will also understand where another guy is coming from when he says to my friend that he wants to finish his MBA, figure out his career, and then think about settling down - because that's where I am too. And if you tell me - like someone tried - that it's okay for him to think that way and not me, because I'm a woman, I may stab you.

I will also point out that for all their protests about me being too practical, for lack of a better word, I can pull out at least five chain mails between the gal pals where everyone has been giving advice, but when yours truly has written in, they've written back saying that is exactly what they wanted to say, and I always put it so well. True story, sachchi.

Sometimes though, being practical does take a flying leap out of the window. Like when you want to convince your friend to take a chance with the guy she's on the verge of falling in love with, no matter what the complications involved. Because you know that if they do manage to work things through, it'll be worth all of it. I once told a friend that I believe if a relationship is meant to work, it will. Not because of destiny or any of that stuff, but because I do think that if two people genuinely care about each other and want to be together, they can find a way to make it happen. I'm not saying it's easy - I've seen enough to know it rarely is. But it can happen no? I'd like to believe so at any rate.

I will end by saying this: playing Agony Aunt over Gtalk is SO much easier than in person or even on the phone. At least the other person can't see you rolling your eyes in exasperation that way. Or hear you take a deep breath to calm yourself down before reacting to their drama.

I think I'm done rambling for now. And since I was flying somewhere over Western India when this post got finished, and am now back home, I think I'll go sleep for a while.

PS: OH. In other, and sorta related, news, the parents complete 27 years of togetherness today. So yay!

PS2: Does a public shout out make up for the lack of gift? No? Dammit.