25 Nov 2008

Little Red Riding Foot

12:15 p.m, outside the examination hall I find Suthopa waiting. She has finished her paper, an hour and a half early. Well, so have I but only by an hour. I was getting fidgety in my chair when I got the shortest of calls from her, I knew the worst had happened. She had finished well before even the wussiest student, and was now scared to leave the hall alone and by herself. Ah! What are friends for! Despite the fact that we were sitting in different rooms, our heads were connected by what Feluda called Telepathy. I remember the scene from "Sonar Kella", where the Rajasthani cops gets worked up at the real Dr.Hazra's mention of the word and says, "Telephone - yes! Telegraph - Yes! Television - Yes! No Telepathy!!!" Profound! But well, our telegraph, err...telepathy worked and I finished a bit after her, and therefore her phone call rescued me from my shame of having finished the paper early, and I was suddenly walking out of the class, with a pride akin to Achilles who's just conquered Troy (alone, without cheat papers!).

The first thing I notice about her is her Socks... bright red soccer socks. Now, where and how she acquired these is a mystery, for she has sworn never to divulge the truth after we spent the last two hours going at it. Nonetheless, I deliver my best smile upon Her Majesty, and she flicks it away with a grimace. Why? Her paper did not go well... To be honest, I knew this was coming, as she had spent the weekend, mostly under her undoubtedly warm and extremely inviting blanket, or watching movies on her laptop, or playing "Age of Empires", or coochie-cooing (serious discussion with a potential life partner)... But, what was worse, she had only two questions to choose from in the exam and both were from the same topic, with comparisons with the same other topic. One of which she was unaware of. Sulking, we made for the stairs outside our centre, to sit our bottoms down and sulk some more about it, and then crib about the terrible state of affairs with everybody who passes by.

It was good! Was my reply to the first, "How was your paper?". Suthopa's answer to the same was very unlike me. She didn't even answer, she made a face and told the person how much she hated Anthropology (the theory part of which was our paper for today). Then she just turned away and lit a cigarette with rage that burnt into the matchstick.

It was okay. Was my reply the second time around, when the questions were asked by somebody else. By now I was fidgety all over again. Suthopa was now complaining about how she had read things that were unnecessary, and how she could have just slept without having had taken the pains of going through those readings.

It was terrible! Was my answer when the third person came along. The question was annoyingly repeatative, and I could not stand it anymore. Suthopa was on the verge of tears, and she kept threatening to break into them if anybody uttered so much as a word of that paper again. And then Khushal came. I breathed in relief! I knew he could make fun of everything and get away with it. He always does. Ah! Khushal, we call him our (mostly mine and Suthopa's, but from time to time Siddhartha's) Biaatch! He is, and proudly so! And thankfully he cannot read this blog! Not because he 'cannot' read, but because he won't.

In some time, Siddhartha comes along, with his little bootyliscious...ahem! And the air became immediately lighter. Suthopa stopped cribbing, not altogether, but mellowed it down a few notches. But then our new obsession arose... her pretty red socks! We sang to her, "My heart is like a red red sock!", we rhymed for her, "Little miss muffet, sat on a tuffet, with a big bucket, wearing red sock-et!" (for the sake of rhyming!)... and her wails of disgust were dismissed by our persistent one liners on her really really red socks. Poor Suthopa, sleepy and weary with last minute re-visions could only muster up, "I'm so gonna get back at your asses! Wait till I'm well rested!"...which is somewhat very similar to what Khushal usually resorts to when his wit fails him, "I'm going to answer that when I'm feeling wittier!"

All said and done, we managed to get Suthopa out of her depression, with jokes on her... a bit mean, I agree. But its not everyday Miss Red Riding Foot comes to school with us! Her red soccer socks, or sockers :D will not see the light of day for a long time now, for she knows we will keep reminiscing this red socker afternoon for quite some time. So much for anthropological analyses, if we were to derive one out of this one would come to the conclusion that friends are made to make fun of you until you can no longer stand them, that's when they are not friends anymore. Ha ha! As for us, I believe it is a strange ritual of poking fun at everybody so that no snooty bitch survives the test of being our friend.

As for Miss Red Riding Foot, I'm sure she's inside her warm little castle of soft blanket, dreaming of mangshor jhol and mishti doi.

10 Nov 2008

A canvas in the sky...

An early morning chill, a bird and a cigarette... is what it takes, for me to pull my socked feet out of the soft quilt and start thinking, I began to pace my tiny room, often knocking my knees into the bed's foot...or the odd crunching sound beneath my chappals, of something that I had no interest in finding out. I'm searching clumsily for a matchbox or a lighter, or anything I can light my darned cigarette with. Shivering slightly, I brush around unimportant space fillers inside the only drawer that I own, wondering why I have so many things I don't need. I make a mental note to clear out the junk later at a more sensible time, and then I find a matchbox with three sticks left in it. I sigh... just my luck. But anyway, I strike the tiny stick on the box, and my room is suddenly lit with a golden glow... I light my cigarette, and take a long slow drag. The poisonous smoke fills my lungs in an instant. It feels good. It feels like the end of a over-stretched movie, that is not even that good but you must sit through for some reason.

It is still quite dark outside, although there are signs of the oncoming dawn, in the slowly reddening Eastern horizon. I get a clear and direct view of this from my window, but for not even once had I considered pushing the curtains away to get a glimpse. I don't know why, I just never did. Turning to my bed, I see Billu, the cat that stays with me when I'm in my room, sleeping cuddled in a fluffy ball of purring bliss. Somehow I don't want to stir her air, and decide to head for the terrace. Holding the cigarette carefully between my lips, I put on my trademark Adidas jacket, that people are so weary of and complain as being the only thing I'm seen in post November chill. Well, with the winter in these parts, I could not care less about being fashionably clad. So, on comes my blue jacket, and I grab a bottle of water on my way out, and bolt the door loosely from outside. The sting in the air is sudden, like a gush of cold air during the onset of monsoon, it doesn't stay long, but long enough to wake every inch of exposed skin.

The mirror at the end of the corridor shines like a mercury slab, and as I get closer it forms a blurry shape that looks like me. I avoid it, and walk towards the staircase that leads to the terrace at the end of fifteen steps. An odd count, for a particularly unused set of stairs. As I reach the top, there is a fresh cool, awaiting me in an unabashed lingering stoic. Its dark here, there are no halogens to curb the dense darkness that engulfs me. I wait for a moment, as the darkness slowly turns to half visibility, I enter the open. Small steps take me over the labyrinthine mesh of internet cables strewn all over the place, with tufts of weed growing out of lifeless concrete. I take a last drag and stab out the fading glow of my cigarette. It lapses, wasted and used, into the shadows lapping around my feet. I move on, without emotions. Passing through the jungle of dead leaves, peacock feathers, I found myself a spot atop the water reservoir, up a small rickety and rusty ladder.

The night is already turning to a purple haze, and there are golden streaks creeping towards that oblivious horizon. Under my seat, a damp cement parapet, there is a thin column of stalactite, formed from the dripping of over-flowing tank water. The sound of the droplets sometimes reaches my ears, on nights quite this this. Tonight its dry, there is no water to spare. I reach out and touch the strange shape, it breaks and falls in my outstretched palm. I bring it closer. It feels like sand, and smells like moldy ice from the back of the freezer. I let it fall, and wipe my hand on my checkered pajamas. Suddenly there is a rush of cold that sweeps against my face like a wave of ice cold water. I clutch my jacket and pull my legs closer into a more fetal crouch. It feels warmer instantly.

I look out into the night. It feels like I am perched on the highest tower of the city, looking over, like a guardian angel, or like a bad omen waiting to fall on a bleak destiny. I feel like a bird of prey, waiting for morning to break, to fly away in search of the amaranthine. I feel like a pirate on his lookout, searching for another ship to break out of the horizon. I feel like God, looking down on earth. The city looks asleep, it seems in a deep slumber, unaware of my plans. It is peaceful, so are the hearts beating in its serpentine alleys.

The sky is curiously splashed with colours now. There are patches of blood red, but mostly a pinkish glow underrates the yellows and blues that are slowly morphing into the canvas, like the muse of an eccentric artist. I'm overwhelmed at its beauty, at the sheer simplicity of this mundane celebration of timeless phenomena. Although I now believe that each dawn is different from another, like every person is different from the other although we are all of the same flesh, blood and sinew.

A peacock caws very close by. I'm jolted out of my misty subconscious. I stare at the brightening dawn and stand up on the concrete mass ragged by dried moss, remnants of a distant monsoon. I see a few lone souls, running into the foggy span of the road, by my hostel building. The climb down is dizzy, but I manage. I walk back to my room, feeling very different. The thoughts in my head are different, away from my refuge of sarcasm, I feel heavy with a strange feeling. I realise I'm homesick. I have never experienced what I just did, back home. I open my room, Billu looks up curiously. Did she miss me? Did she know I was gone? I pat the top of her head, open my jacket, and curl right back to sleep, with a tiny tear feeling its way down my nose.

9 Nov 2008

Of Smooshes, Vikings, Singing Lotuses and Cockerels...

How many times does a person turn 23? Well, to be honest, as many times as that person wants to. But in my case, it was to be only once. Only once was I to experience the pleasures of being in a perfect limbo... a concentrated love bubble that refused to pop, for one whole day!

Chapter 1 The Vikings: I had everybody I needed, and wanted. Each a person I adore, in different ways, and I think each of them deserve to be mentioned in detail, before I embark upon a narcissistic soliloquy about 'yours truly'. Suthopa, the one who stuck by me through thick and thin, then there was Himadri who stuck by her through thick and thin... and I have seen both their thick days and thin days, now its mostly thick :D nonetheless, they were there. And they have been there, no matter how when or wherever, no questions asked, they have supported me. And then there was Zalla, the mysterious beauty from across the border, if it were not for her lost key, I think we may have never become any more than two girls who live on the same corridor. Well, if Khushal was here, he's probably call me "ditch-er" for naming him after his sister, but I somehow love this brother-sister duo, and despite our never-ending efforts, they are nowhere close to our goal of Ross-Monica-esque friendship. But I love them both in any case...and even more so because Sitaram makes it such an activity. Its field day for me, all I have to do is get both Sitaram n Khattak boy really high, and they look after the rest :D I still remember, Sitaram was the first class fellow of mine I ever met, and I had exchanged elbow nudges with my friend and hushed a "Oh he's so cute!", as that very moment he had decided to turn and ask, "So how do u fill these?!!!", and there was no looking back... and the best part is, he has an even cuter woman in his life, I'm so glad Michelle was there too to watch me get older, she's so cute.... I think I remember her asking me that evening, "What have you done today? You look exceptionally radiant! I can almost see myself on your forehead!!!" Ohmigosh..... I dont even know if that was a good thing, but I felt very very happy :) There was Siddharth, I met him here in JNU, despite the fact he's an illegal import from Delhi University, his heart lies here with us, a great guy. We have had our rows of shouting and fighting, but I suppose that enhances the whole Love-Hate relationship...ha ha ha! Damn he can be obstinate, and irritating, but what I just love about him is he's a great sport, and Oh! there is this other thing too! He's a English Language major in DU, but when he gets high, grammar takes a backseat with him, and that is adorable about him, he fights inside with his consciences, quite like Snowy having to decide between a bone and an important paper he must take to Tintin. Adorable! :) So, then there was a few of my other friends, Satty, Kirti, Sameer.... people I do not get to see much around, especially Sameer n Kirti, but I know that they will be there if and when I need them. People I can count on...although I may not see them often, good students do not cross ways with those unlike them too much, not good for neither :D And I almost know how juvenile this sounds, but that's that. And then there were my surprise guests, Martha, Per and Pär. Martha is an astonishingly simple girl, she's sweet and very very warm, I love that about her. We went partying with her once, and I can vouch for this, but I have not seen anyone gel her moves so well from a "Billo Raani" to a "Infected Mushroom" song. She's a real sweetheart, and Zalla completely dotes on her, which I find a tiny bit J of at times. But I like her, a no-hassle person, I like people like that. Pär, I have known a little less than 24hours perhaps, of all the hours we've spent together, I like him best the day I met him, although he is equally sweet always. Him and his bicycle, its a common scene around the campus, and popular he IS. No wonder, he's such a sweet, soft-spoken person, that if he were to be metaphor-ised, he'd replace the cucumber in "as cool as a cucumber"! He's awesomely calm, and a budding Sitar-ist, as intriguing as that is, he's also majoring in Persian language in JNU. I guess, by far he's the most docile European I have ever met :D and somehow I like it that way. On the other hand, Per is almost a practicing doppelganger of his namesake. He is exciting, talkative, funny, intriguing, lovably loud at times, extremely warm and a great sport. I found my partner in crime in him, and we could keep talking about Tintin and Asterix (no, not ass-tricks!), sunsets, travels, binges, vikings and everything else under the sun. Its been some time since I was able to do that, just start talking without having to go through the awkwardly embarrassing silences and pauses between conversations, and lame small talks, like: "So how do you like the place/ Is the food good/ Are you going to be here for some time/ What exactly is your work....blah ...blah...blah"...he became the hero of my latest invention, the intergalactic secret agent "Agent Liljas: Spy from the Sky". (More of this coming soon...)

Chapter 2 The Smoosh: Well, the chief guest (by that I mean ME) arrived at the stone table (by that I mean the concrete table at Godavari Dhaba) at the promised hour (by that I mean two hours before the guests). And then the horsepiss(by that I mean Contessa XXX Rum, which had to be our only choice for the night, as ALL the shops were out of Old Monk, or even an equivalent) was brought, so were the candles along with a cake. The cake.... MY BIRTHDAY CAKE!!! As ecstatic as I was, we had planned to do the honours (by which I mean the cake cutting ceremony) atop PSR: Partha Sarathi Rock - the highest natural point of Delhi, which happens to be inside the socialist jurisdiction of JNU, and thus was but the highest natural priority :D And thus, at once we started towards our destination, on the way we were being rowdy like always. And then it happened, the event that marked the beginning of the night's unpredictable turns. As I remember it, we were walking and yapping away to glory, when Suthopa said she wanted to call Himadri and asked me to hold the box of cake, I said yes, and she turned to me and happily thrust the box to me without waiting for me to hold it.................. and it fell. It just fell, it slipped out of my grip and touched the tarred street with a deathly thud! My heart stopped, I was dumbstruck! I couldn't move an inch! And then Suthopa and Zalla picked it up and started arguing about who dropped it... And then others joined us, and then more... we kept arguing, and how lovely and uniquely different it would be to cut a smoosh!!! My smoosh, My Birthday SMOOSH! Goddamnit! It was supposed to be a great night for me! But we began with smoosh... SMOOSH! My SMOOSH!!! Then I lost track of the argument and just walked on, in any case it was a chocolate smoosh, and I'm not into chocolate at all. So, it was just another smoosh now.

Chapter 3 Singing Lotuses and Cockerels : So, the night moves on...and so do we, as we reach the PSR, we settle down for the night, and what a night it is. If I was Stephen King, I would write both Birds and Cujo around that place about that night, with a hint of Pet Cemetery too. Spooky...and amidst that we were beginning to celebrate my getting one year closer to death, well yeah - Sylvia Plath and Tibetan Philosophy sort of a way too, but also because I stopped believing in Armageddon after I saw the movie, so death to me now means growing so old that my chin wrinkles will tickle my belly which will be closer to my knees than you-know-what. But then it was time to attack the smoosh with the knife, despite the overpowering desire to attack others with it, I yielded to the former and began
slashing it up... and working my way around the circle, along with warm hugs (the best part!!!) from everybody, even Khattak Boy! (Khushal barely ever gets an arm's distance with anybody, forget a hug...even on Eid!) There were blinding flashes of camera coming from Zalla's hands, her shutter bug kept bugging us for the rest of the night. But it was nice!And somewhere in this Per managed to light this brilliant contraption that suddenly caught a flame and opened up in petals, like a lotus (how thoughtful! *battes eyelash in quick succession*) and started to sing "Happy Birthday To You" in a very Chucky-ish way... and it went on and on, sitting in one corner... So, then the gang pounced on the cake and it was reduced to ignored icing and a lone cherry...the singing lotus went on in the meanwhile..... Then the poisons were unleashed, Rum - Vodka - Whisky - and God's gift from the hills... altogether all hell broke loose ( I have been trying to use that expression for months, now is the time to do so in full throttle! - that being the other coveted phrase...this is like dream come true, literally!)... and while the singing continued spookily in the background, people started to complain... it was getting a bit weird. But we carried on, cheering and gulping the horsepiss down in large swigs from our flimsy plastic cups... and I started getting phonecalls and I was consumed in gushes of happiness, knowing no bounds - I was jumping in joy. And the singing continued in the background. Then it got really annoying, which was when Agen Liljas suggested I perform a Mazel Tov. Well, I was susceptible to all forms of suggestions that night, and I agreed. So, the singing lotus was set up on the stone for its sacrifice, and I took a long breath, concentrated my strength on my right foot... and Lo! I smashed it to smithereens in one go!!! Everybody shouted "Mazel Tov" in joy.... notice how people become one with strange religious rituals just with a wee bit of intoxication (does this mean getting the world drunk may take care of all the raging hostility?). And after a bit, someone said, "I kinda miss the song now!"...and suddenly the song came back.... spooky as it sounds, it was tenfolds there at that moment. It was spine-chilling, okay maybe not that scary, but was really freaky. And from then on, it kept dying and coming back to life for hours... I suppose it wasn't ready to die, but couldn't really survive my footjob. So it bobbed somewhere in between life and death…from time to time. And, we went on with our party... I began to slowly lose immediate reactions, things were beginning to get slow... I was asking silly questions, which I remember now because I really was asking them, only perhaps given a situation without five pegs of horsepiss down, I wouldn't have. But as far as happiness is concerned, the tide was running high... everybody was getting slower (or maybe I was seeing things differently), but the sloth caught on. At one point of time, I started forcing people to pose for and with me. At one point I was James Bond, and I forced Per and Pär to be my 'chicks', to which we decided to resort so as to not refer to them as the grammatical opposite of 'chicks', which would be cockerels, or even worse cocks! Well, as all PG-13 will know what it means, apart from the masculine of Hen/Chick...it was but an obvious decision, even intoxicated! At this point, I was so happy, that I decided to sit down, then lay back and then throw up... after which most of the night is blurry, and dashes of laughter and innumerable pokes from directions kept punctuating my Deserted Island dream-sequence with (hmmm ...) Orlando Bloom and ( :D AAAH!!!) Johnny Depp and (for some reason) Ashton Kutcher. Also what I remember is that Zalla kept tugging at the hem of my shirt, trying to cover my tummy, although I was very happy she did, I quite don't understand why she did so. Nice ... and very strange! Indeed! A little later, I felt myself being taken somewhere, and I jabbered on the way, two people (hopefully Zalla and Sid) were literally carrying me as my ankles sort of grazed the paved road...and it felt strangely liberating in an ironic sort of way, but it did to me then so I cannot argue about it now, also since it felt good, I won't. And then I slept, like a baby... happy and hungry (I had forgotten to eat the whole day out of excitement)...everybody I loved and cared for had wished me, sent me their love and gave me their time, to sing me Happy Birthday, eat my smoosh and get drunk with my booze, and I had two hot cockerels pose as hens for me!!! :D It was a happy happy day...And in my head the lotus was still singing "Happy Birthday To You"

06.11.2008 will remain a spectacular and eventlessly wonderful, very very drunk Birthday. Go VIKINGS!!!