Wednesday, August 22, 2012


A long, very long time ago, I used to say that if I'm not married by 30, I'll adopt a daughter. And people would laugh and say, "oh, you want to be like Sushmita Sen." And I would roll my eyes and say, "no, you moron, there are other women in the world who've done this, I didn't even know she was planning to when I decided this."

Well, maybe I wasn't quite as rude, but you get the gist.

Anyway. Then I grew up a little and realised this wasn't a very good plan because see, kids annoy me. They do. They annoy and terrify me. Especially babies. They terrify me, and they're like dogs because they sense my fear and therefore start crying when I come anywhere near them. Which terrifies me even more.

Although I probably get even more terrified by those strange babies who don't start crying when they see me. Who just stare at me or chuckle at me as if I'm supposed to say something very intelligent or noteworthy and I have no idea whether I'm supposed to stare back or look away, or how long I need to stare back before I can politely look away, because dammit, there are no rules for this sort of thing.

And then these babies grow into kids, who range from being cute to little monsters who think they're SO much smarter than you. My aunt, whose three kids are all at least a decade younger to me, thinks I'm very good with kids. Statements like this are designed to make me simultaneously burst out laughing and have palpitations. And more than an hour in the presence of any kids makes me supremely uncomfortable.

So anyway, while marriage doesn't seem to be anywhere on the cards in the next few years, it is fairly certain that neither is that adoption, because I'm not stupid and I wouldn't to me or that poor kid.

But. Some time ago I suddenly started following all these blogs and people on twitter who talked about their kids all the time. Very beautifully, at that. So beautifully that the occasional "what-if" thoughts started creeping into my head. And then a few months ago, I was at a professor's home for dinner, and I don't know who would do such a stupid thing, but his two-month old daughter was put in my arms. And I froze and stayed absolutely still till someone took pity on both of us and called the kid's mother to take her away from me.

See, here's the thing. The only time any maternal feelings arise in me is when I think of my princess. People whip out their phones to show off photos of their tiny tots' antics, I whip mine out to show off the gorgeous creature that Kyra is. I am somewhat known for having ticked off a lot of people who have been telling me about their kids or nieces or nephews by exclaiming, "oh, how cute, my dog does that too!" Because she does, dammit, and I don't see why people have to get so offended by the comparison.

I also may or may not have cried a teeny-weeny bit a week ago when the mother showed me on Skype to the princess, who yawned, got up and walked off.

I've also learned over time, the hard way, that you really never should say never. So maybe kids will happen someday. If for no other reason but that I have these really awesome names I want to give them even if everyone else says those names are stupid.

But for now, I'm going to read those blog posts, sigh wistfully for just a second, and then move on to the next outrage-provoking piece of news that makes me wonder why anyone would want to bring kids into this utterly stupid world.

After all, that, if nothing else, is definitely a good reason to ignore any biological clock that tries to start ticking.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Of squirrels and their stripes

The story goes that when Rama and his Vanara sena were building a bride to get to Lanka, a squirrel appeared out of nowhere and decided to help them, by taking one tiny pebble at a time and adding it to the bridge. The monkeys and bears of the Vanara sena saw this and started mocking and laughing at the squirrel, because y'know, how can that tiny thing help?

Rama, on the other hand, in his infinite wisdom and kindness and all of that, picked up the squirrel to thank it and and stroked it, which led to stripes appearing on the squirrel's back.

I had read this story years and years ago, but it came back to me last year when I came to the US and was startled to see these non-stripy squirrels all over the place. And now, every time I see a squirrel, I remember this legend.

Squirrel. It's a fun word. And a fun animal to watch.

Sunday, August 05, 2012

Stressful ramblings

The phone rang on Friday evening, but stopped after one ring. I realised it was from the father, and promptly called him back, thinking something must have happened for him to call me so early. Only when he picked up did I realise it was actually past 8 PM, and therefore a fairly reasonable time for him to call me.

I don't know if it was the stress of the week, or just my subconscious catching up with me, but I ended up startling my father by bursting into tears out of relief.

Aurora, Colorado, two weeks ago. Pune, five days ago. And then Oak Creek, Wisconsin, this morning.

None of them impacted me at a personal level. Not even in a minuscule way like Delhi and Mumbai in 2008 might have. But they all make you wonder, what is wrong with people and the world?

Close to a year ago, there was a bomb blast in the Delhi High Court. This was less than two months after I had moved to the US, so even though very few people I know were likely to have been close to the site, it freaked me out no end. And then I had a conversation with the BFF, which helped put things in context. A bit.

me: how do you deal with it?
everytime something happens back home?
BFF: I remember a line from a "poem" we read in class 6 or 7
do you remember the atomic bomb shelter announcement one?
there's a line in it that goes something like 'there will be casualties... statistically it is not likely to be you'
and so I use stats, and work out how much I need to worry based on distance
so GK, CP, Sarojini, Saket etc. means worry
saket would mean xtra worry cos mum's there
MG road means worry
malls means, unlikely you need to worry but check just in case
me: I love you
I am going to save this conversation
and keep coming back to it
and someday
when I've internalized it
BFF: :)
me: I will blog it
BFF: ok :)
I am happy I helped yay :)
I wish I could remember that poem, it was eerie.
but that line was so reassuring it stayed
me: happens that way
I try to apply that these days. Pune meant some worry because the godfather's family and sundry other family and friends live there. Wisconsin and Aurora were scary at entirely different levels, but more for the mother than me. Other events, across India and elsewhere, have been worrying and frustrating because it's just so hard to get information that isn't juvenile and completely screwed up in the way it's relayed by the media. I had to email the brother a few weeks back, because I couldn't find a single report, article or blog that helped me understand what exactly was happening in Assam.

I've mentioned earlier, I think, that some years ago, after another blast in Delhi, a friend called from Mumbai to find out if I'm fine and mentioned that he had actually made groups in his phone's contact list - one for each metro city of the country. Made it easier for him to react and find out about family and friends every time a blast happened.

The way the world's been over the past few weeks, and longer, it seems to have become increasingly important to be able to do that - reach out to people.

Oh and because the BFF is awesome, if you recognize that poem, tell us, yeah?

Thursday, August 02, 2012


A long, long time ago, he used to be scared of snakes. 

One morning, the four of us went out for brunch. It was a holiday, and just an hour back, I had tied a Rakhi on his wrist, despite the mother's annual grumbling that it wasn't really a Bengali festival. We were crossing the road to the restaurant when a snake charmer approached us. My kid brother, who was already itching to take the rakhi off, grabbed my arm and whispered, "Didi, can you just protect me today from that snake? I'll take care of you after this."

He's the complete opposite of me, the brother. He's reserved, practical, and inexpressive. I'm... none of the above. But then out of the blue, there'll be an email or a gift that will make me all emoshunal, just like that.

I used to bully him when we were kids. We played our own version of the Crystal Maze, he was my unwilling student in countless sessions of Teacher-Teacher, half his birthday gifts were automatically declared to be mine, and numerous other things I would rather not tell you. Then one day, he grew up, and wisened up. And now I go to him for advice, and he acts all wisdomous and all.

He left for the US for his undergrad studies on 24th August 2007. Rakhi that year was on 28th August. I broke down that day, because I had never spent Rakhi away from my kid brother. I sent him a rakhi and a card that year. Five months later, he came home for winter break. Suddenly, in the midst of all the animated catching up, he looked at me and said, "oh, wait." He pulled out his wallet, handed me the rakhi I had sent him, and asked me to put it for him. By the time we woke up the next morning, of course, it was hanging from his cassette rack on the wall, where most of his rakhis over the years landed up.

Last year, we exchanged countries. He went back to India after graduation, and I came to the US. I spoke to him an hour back. I told him we were discussing siblings at dinner tonight, and I had told them about Rakhi, and of this incident. He responded, "oh? I did that?"

*eye roll*

He thinks my blog is quite silly, so it's unlikely he'll read this post. But I just wanted to say, again, I love you kiddo. Despite the fact that you save my number under Duddo rather than Didi on your phone.