Wednesday, December 26, 2007


Once in a while I have a thought that begs to be shared so pitifully that I force myself to sit in front of this here box and attempt to pull it bodily out of my brain. Alas, often my skill will not allow it to be done, and at other times it is my laziness at fault, and so I'm stuck with tens of drafts that I will never complete as long as they're sitting there unpublished.
Here they are, then. With dates attached. I think I might just keep adding to them as I go along.

My city has become a menagerie of shouting people.

wts txt spk? is dat whn u tlk lik dis? i cant do it 2 wel........its tuff to think of ways to shrtn the wrds apart 4m removing vowels dammit a relapse.
But that's text speak, and I want to talk about the postrophe. Lynn Truss wrote an entire book about it, but I don't care. How do perfectly intelligent, erudite, well-read persons end up confusing its and it's?

What's the likelihood that there'll be an entire book on text-speak soon? Very high, I'd say. People talk about it all the time. Mostly the ones talking are the ones bemoaning the loss of sensible spelling, and I've read at least four newspaper editorials on the subject.

I'm not doing
What I can't get around is the staggering amount of apostrophe abuse around. I don't think I'll be able to say it any better than Lynn Truss, so I shan't try. I will just choose one certain little annoying trend I've noticed in

I can't understand its and it's, though. Some of the smartest and best read people I know make that error. It's horrendous. Its horrendous.
I hate the way it pulls you up right in the middle of whatever you're reading. Inexcusable, in my opinion, especially when they spend their time poking fun at people with poor grammar and then turn around and say "whatever" when you point the error out to them yourself....
I mean, don't you read whatever you've just written before you post it???
Damn, some people are stubborn and stupid.
3/18/07 9:07 PM

Something that was brought home to me the other day was the fact that far too much depends on appearances. How much do we change by walking down the street proclaiming we can do as we want, wear what we want, say what we want? Perhaps not as much as we aim for.
The truth is that the way you walk says so much more about you than the clothes you wear. Unless, of course, you're wearing something designed to be so eye-catching that it detracts from everything else!

Is there a line that "decent" girls should not cross? Yes. There is. But it isn't the same line for everyone. My idea of clothes I will not step out of the house wearing are different from those of my sister, for example.
Just the other day, I watched a young man at a traffic signal pull out a comb and style his hair into something closely resembling a bush of some sort, but he seemed exrtremely pleased with the result. So that's my line. Wear something that makes you look good.
Something in colours that complement. A cut that accentuates. Be pretty.
3/29/07 7:04 AM

My boss thinks women should protect themselves from male eyes.
He asked me about Blank Noise. "Why do you think men do those things? It's because of the way women dress! Between a woman wearing a miniskirt and a woman wearing a sari, who do you think is more likely to be molested? If you don't respect yourself how can a man respect you?"
"Men and women are made to attract each other", he says. He thinks women can prevent harassment by covering themselves up. "If you wear a burkha", he says, "then you're completely protected."
There was something so entirely disturbing about the way he told me this; the manner in which he posed it as a self-evident truth shocked me so much; that I found myself unable to defend my position at all.

Is it a male conspiracy, this celebrating a woman's freedom to deck her body? I do not know. Perhaps men do go along with women's rights because they think that they will get a chance to see more skin. But then again, women should be able to show their skin even if they know men will look.

What do we ask for, with the clothes we wear? Respect? Attention? Flattery?
Does it make a difference?
What we wear should reflect where we're going, what we're doing, what season it is. I think the question of poorly dressed does not arise as long as you are dressed to fit the occasion. Isn't it rude to attend a wedding in shorts, for example? It isn't about covering yourself, or being decent. It is about fitting the profile, about looking as though you belong. And as long as we are part of society, it is necessary to make sure we respect the boundaries that circumstances demand.
The only thing that's changing is the idea of everyday wear. What is it appropriate to wear, if you're not doing anything special? One wears shorts or jogging tracks to walk in the morning, to go to the gym, to play tennis. One wears a sari to a wedding, one wears formal clothes to interviews. One wears jeans to construction sites. We dress sensibly as long as we know the boundaries created by societal norms or dictated by comfort and common sense.
What happens with a regular outfit, though? What are you "allowed" to wear when you're out on the street on an ordinary day? Things that send the wrong message? Who decides that? I think each of us do. What I think every woman must do, in my opinion, is to look at herself once before she leaves the house. Stand in front of the mirror. Lift your arms, bend over. If your clothes stay where they're supposed to, and you don't expose any more skin, any fat, any hidden parts that were covered when you were standing still, then you're okay to go.
If you do expose those things, well, then, you're just not well dressed.
The women on the street I find badly dressed are the ones wearing things that don't suit their figures. Tight shirts showing tires of fat. Low pants that fit so poorly you can see underwear when they sit down. The beautiful thing about a salwar kameez is the fact that it suits anyone if cut properly, and the main reason we wear clothes is to be comfortable, isn't it?

I have rules about things I would not wear in public. I will not wear something that reveals my nipples, because of the fear of titillating the man on the street. I will not wear clothes that display cleavage, because of the same reason. I will not wear clothes that show my thighs above the knee, because I believe shorts or short skirts absolutely do not flatter my figure.

The mental thumb rule for me, then, is this: do not draw attention to any one part of your body as a part belonging to a woman. Not unless your objective is to do so. People attach to all outfits a purpose for wearing them. Why would you wear shorts? Or display cleavage? Why would you? If you have a reason, and one can see that reason, then i think no one can question or comment on your choice of dress.

This is just so much patriarchal rubbish. :( I'm a brainwash.

I once promised a friend I would write a post about the misuse of punctuation

I've been wondering lately about how limited all forms of expression are when compared to the real thing.
How do you describe in words the exact tilt of someone's head and the lilt in their voice and the way you feel when they smile to punctuate?
6/3/07 6:05 AM

My sister has a friend who used to call home and ask to speak to her.
She would say, "Hello, is MySister'sName there?"
My mother would later rail and rant over the loss of politeness in the young, and I? I would agree with her.
Lately, though, T has been wondering about boundaries and the way people follow rules in different places. T has been wondering this as she works in an office on the grounds of a traditional Muslim house. How true that it is only
Do we treat other people the way we hope, in our heart of hearts, to be treated? I submit that it is a more than distinct possibility in my own case. After all, do I not give every new and old friend the benefit of the doubt, and their space, and hugs whenever I feel like they need some? Butyes!
It's not really a solution to anything, though. If everyone went around treating everyone else the way they wished to be treated, no one would get treated the way they wanted to be treated.

There is a microphone in the house now.

I don't like it so much.

I think the real problem with writing with Squid Piss™ on Dead Trees™ is that

Brad Bird's The Incredibles has a line that might have struck me more if it hadn't been as oft-quoted as it was - "Everyone can be super. And when everyone's super, no one will be."
And again: "They keep creating new ways to celebrate mediocrity, but if someone is genuinely exceptional..."

I have watched performances by people who are disabled or autistic or children, and I never until recently questioned that a chance had to be given to those less privileged. Do we really value quality so little that we celebrate effort more than achievement?
Does all achievement have to be weighted against opportunity and upbringing and situation? When put like that, of course, it sounds a stupid question: the very basis for academic equality in the best institutions is based on that weightage.

It strikes me, however, that it is only in the field of education that merit speaks for itself - the concrete proofs of your excellence are valued as they ought to be. It is in the fields of the performing arts that the distinction has become blurred - where the mediocre gets more recognition than the
I had an adventure today. It was only a small adventure; minuscule, really; but I've been stuck indoors so long that anything out of the ordinary excites me...
I went for a walk today. I wore my brand new pink reebok sneakers (I know, I know. Pink sneakers. But they're new.)
And I sat there on the stone wall and wrote a letter. With a little lizard in it.
10/10/07 6:16 PM (this is a special day.)

the so-strangest thought
i have had one of those, i have.

Bear with me. My theories are often based on little more than random burblings of my mind when tired or hungry or travelling or some such, but they are usually interesting theories and this one...has promise.
I feel as though I have been...putty. Malleable,
12/18/07 11:38 PM (this is when the heart broke)

P.S. It is very nice to have three adventures in two days and then stay awake until five a.m. reading. :)

Monday, December 24, 2007

another "night at café"

Sometimes I think the things I say are far more powerful than they appear - insofar as their effectiveness in attracting the Irony Gods™ goes, anyway.
As anyone who's been following the blog (yes, yes, I mean that one poor person who has the RSS feed) knows, I borrowed a book from someone's home in another city a while ago. Then, this morning, I made some rather pompous allusions to my tendency to entertain empty hopes. What more did I need? Nothing, that's what.
Voilà! Instant karma.

So it turns out the Gem of a Boy is in Bangalore. Not that he called to tell me - I had to find it out through other channels. He finally did call me (after his sending me an email confessing he'd lost my phone number and another from me furnishing him with it) this evening. I'd been expecting the call for a day and a half, and had wonderfully witty things all ready to say. Then, a moment before he called, someone else asked me for my phone number, and when the phone rang I was caught all unprepared, alas, egad, ecod! Still, hellos were said, suggestions of a meeting were made; I'll call you back, he said. An hour or so later (during which i called him to ask if anything was actually going to happen you see it's late already and i need to make plans and arrange transport etc), he did. He was meeting a friend of his at Koshy's later, would I care to join them? I'd put my shoes on already, so I said yes, of course I will, what a pleasure whee.
So I wrapped up the present (shhh it's still a secret) and combed my hair and checked my bag for my umbrella, phone and wallet. Ready! I thought.

Then I had to call him back to find out what he looked like (he does not have a photograph of himself anywhere on the internet). I have a goatee, he said. I told him all the waiters at Koshy's had goatees; that wasn't enough to go on. You like adventures, don't you? he said. He sounded rather irritated at having to receive all those calls, so I shut up and hung up and left the house.
It was half-past-six. We were to meet at half-past-seven.

The moment I'd stepped out of the house, my phone rang.
My parents, who (oh my, did i forget to mention?) were out of town, were calling to check up on me. I walked back up the ten steps I'd walked down, opened the door and managed to walk all the way to where my sister was watching television and hand the phone to her at exactly the right moment in the conversation. The truth was avoided, the parental worries appeased, and I finally got out of the house at a quarter to seven.
Thus, boys and girls, I was late leaving the house.

The next thing I did was in all probability the only intelligent thing I did the entire evening - I decided to take the bus anyway. I had a pleasant time on the bus, for once - a place to sit, a nice conductor, a knowledge of exactly how I was to get to where I was to get. I got off roughly two kilometres from my destination; the nearest stop to it, in fact. I walked along, alone by the light of the moon, and my head cooled to alarming degrees as I passed great trees along the parade ground walls. I thought a couple of interesting thoughts about trees and temperature and weather and climate, some about shady characters smoking by the side of the road, some more about the fact that I was twenty minutes late; and then I was there, hurrah!

But you see, it's Christmas Eve. And I hadn't considered, in my wildest dreams, that the interior of the restaurant would be dimly and murkily lit by a large number of candles that made it impossible to tell one goateed gentleman from another, or that I would spend the next forty minutes alternating between sitting outside and writing sad things in my journal and taking turns around the interior of the establishment (with my cheeks burning and to the accompaniment of a constant monotone of my god is there anything more embarrassing could there possibly anything as embarrassing) staring at the faces of people inside.

Let us dwell, for a moment, on the phone call I made, halfway through my waiting, to his residence to find out from his sister what he was wearing, and, oh god, what he looked like:
He has a long face. And he has a goatee, but also a bit of a beard. <--I suppose she meant the length of the goatee? Who knows. Hopefully I will find out tomorrow
And... he's a little bald -

You mean in front? says T, because she's thinking that now she'll have to go in and start staring at the backs of people's heads...

I should have stood at the door and shouted "Firstname Lastname!" so that I'd know where he was. People would have smiled and I would have embarrassed him, hopefully, and then it would have been a show and everything would have been all right and tight. But then I got distracted by all the holiday cheer and the smells of families and the intimate candle-light and the thought that I was out there because of a lie two lies all lies; to meet two people I'd never seen before in my life.

Sigh. So I left and caught a bus, and then another bus; and I got home all in one piece, thank goodness.
Perhaps this was my Christmas Miracle.

You owe me, Mister Man.

all my pieces broken

However hard I try to convince myself that I am prepared, in every way, to face eventualities I tell myself I expect, the chances are that I will end up shocked anyway. Or jarred. Disconnected from myself and bereft of my moorings.
The truth is that as much as I hope (or despair) for something, I always put in that little catch, that clause that thinks it may not happen after all. However studiously I prepare myself to be let down by something (usually something I tell myself I shouldn't have trusted in the first place) there is a little part of me that will continue to cling to the hope that the fall will not, in fact, happen, that something will happen to turn things around:
perhaps i'm wrong
; perhaps these vain hopes are not so vain; perhaps they are founded not on wishful thinking but on some signs my subconscious picked up that my waking brain didn't; perhaps things will work out in the end; it could happen.

Does it mean optimism or stupidity, that secret hope? Because it is a secret, or at the very least unacknowledged - something I will not admit to until the tears come to prove it was there.
And then I will sigh, and call myself stupid, and I will pretend that I learnt a lesson from the entire experience. Perhaps I do. I just don't seem to remember them later.

(and then i go, and do it all over again)

Sunday, December 16, 2007

old blue letters in spite

Because of course I lied. I do that, sometimes, to make things easier on a person. It's lying for a good cause, I say, but then they're all from the same mixed bag of deceit, so what odds? It's funny how hard it is to put into words exactly what you feel, because what if you say too much, or too less, or, God forbid, the entirely wrong thing? One wishes not to drive away good company, but then one does it in spite of oneself. One is me, in case you were wondering.
And it's odd what you can do with letters that you can't when faced with a real person. Perhaps it is that letters are easier than live conversation, because you can hide behind a flow of words that twist and turn to suit your whims. We did have nice conversations, though, didn't we?

And it's odd that we have never spoken, isn't it? And a minute on a phone, or an hour of introductions - they don't count, really. Those are just excuses for occupying the same space. And it's funny because of all the people I ever found, you were the one most easy to write to. You were the one made me most prolific; the one to whom I wrote the most, the one about whom I wrote the most. Perhaps it's just as well. Perhaps I don't need to talk to you. Perhaps I won't sit across from you in a coffee house, or walk with you all around town, or sit with you on terraces in the middle of the night. Perhaps we'll never talk. It's okay, really, because I have other people to do those things with, don't I? But I still regret the dancing.
And papa Santa.

But of course there's no reason for writing beyond the writing itself. Like an over whelming urge to reach out and touch someone who, for a long time, occupied space in your head. There's no sense to anything at all anyway. And being myself never got me anything or anywhere, even. As long as I'm writing I can impress them, but then I talk, and it's as though all the things I need to believe about myself I don't; and all the things I do believe in are all the wrong things; and in the end I'm just not what they were looking for. How do you sell yourself with only the truth?
It doesn't work that way, does it?

And certainly it's true that a person who can find nothing better to do with her time than write pointless drivel to people she'll probably never meet is slightly insane. But then, where's the fun in being sane, anyhow? Poetry is so much easier, because you don't have to say anything. Letters are always the hardest things to write. Especially because you know exactly who it is who's reading all those words you're pouring out.
Every letter I write is different. I could copy a letter out and send it to a dozen people, and I would have to edit each one just as I edit the address line. That's the wonder of people when you pay attention, you see.
The fact that they are all somebody else.

Perhaps it's just perversion, the need to write to people, at people. Perhaps it's cruel to send people disconnected snatches of thought and call them letters, but what's the point of sticking to a structure when all you get in return are the same old sentences from everyone anyway? What's the idea with a set of instructions that tell someone exactly how they have to react? So this morning I wrote to four people and told them nothing, narrated no incident, revealed no theory. I said no hellos and I asked no questions and I sent no signals.
And this is where I find my fun.

my darling
how long has it been? i can't tell - it seems as though i found ways to get along without you too long ago. i thought of you yesterday, could you tell? it was unexpected, like ghosts and blasts from pasts forgotten and people leaping out of corners screaming boo. i'm sorry i never said a proper goodbye. it just seemed time to let go, and i never stopped to think about it. yesterday, i thought it had seemed the time because of all the substitutes i found (like cheap margarine, baby, nothing compares to you) but today something happened to turn that thought on its head and out the window. will she always follow me, that awkward fat bespectacled unlikable clumsy girl? will she always stand like a silent spectre, ready always to leap out and say, remember! remember all you were and weren't, remember remember remember remember. i didn't realize that the only laughs that really hurt are the ones unexpected. i didn't realize i'd learnt it already. how can anyone learn so many lessons and never know all she knows? i cannot remember, for example, where you came from. not to begin with, anyhow. nor why. i still miss you, sometimes, on the lonelier days, when the current conversationalist is absconding somewhere. we didn't talk much, though, did we? anyway. if ever i find someone with whom i could sit for as long in companionable silences like the ones we shared, i'd count myself lucky. this letter don't make sense. the one i wrote first made me cry. it said things like fat and ugly and stupid.
above all stupid. stupid and stupid and stupid, and the things people say, even when they care.
i'm a clown, dear d, did you know? a clown, yes, i have that big red rubber nose, so you'll laugh at that and miss the real joke. and that joke is me. who knew?
i wish you were here. oh, i do. i wish you here.
might as well wish you were real, while i'm at it.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

your word shaker

Once in a while there is a book that you will begin at midnight to help you fall asleep but will stay up until half past three to finish.
The Time Traveller's Wife was one.

The Book Thief is another.

I don't write book reviews, as a general rule. I don't write them for the simple reason that nothing I say can ever quite capture how special a certain book is, or how much it means to me. Nothing I write will come close to capturing the wonder that is stored in those pages that keep me, for a few hours, from thinking of all the stupid things I think of when I worry about the world and all the things in it.
They write it so much better than I can hope to. Why bother talking about it except to say that I am more grateful than I can say?

Sunday, December 9, 2007

soon you'll know about the persian cats

We've been in Chennai for the weekend - mum and I. We went in our car, with one driver to go and another to return; and had two half-days to call a visit. On the way a road was being widened, and the buildings gaped open like dolls' houses in old television shows:

On Saturday the Rabbit and the T ate unhealthy fried things and sat on the sand at Elliot's Beach until half-past ten. They sat there until all the lovers had gone home and the dogs had wandered away because there was no food forthcoming. They lay on their backs on the seashore and got sand in their hair and sang along to songs by the light of stars that the Rabbit kept thinking were aeroplanes
(look, the orange one is flashing and moving)
but the orange one was only Betelgeuse, and all it did was twinkle at two foolish girls wishing for brighter futures by the sea.

On Sunday, the T had adventures!
(And she is very sorry she didn't see all the nice boys she'd promised to visit; but she hopes they'll all drop in when they move to Bangalore for their jobs.)
Someone I know from Some Blog lives in Chennai. His family does, at any rate. He lives in forn parts. Now once, when he had been to other forn parts from the ones he lived in, he purchased a book, which he then recommended to the T. "I'll bring it for you the next time I come to India and lend it to you when I come to Bangalore", he promised, all generous-like. That was to have been December, and the T was perfectly happy with the arrangement.
But suddenly the T was to be in Chennai when the Someone was not; but the Book was in Chennai at the same time as the T! So she got Someone's sister's cellphone number and the home address, which happened to be very close to where she was staying in Chennai. Weekend surprise plans!!!
yeah, you could come and pick up the book if you want
Oooh! But. That'd be weird

would it? But you're weird. :)

hmph. thanks a lot.

The plan was this: I would land at my aunt's house on Saturday, call Miss S, and then run over and pick up the book. All straightforward, yes? Except that I forgot to recharge my phone and had to call his sister from my aunt's home phone, which she decided not to answer because she figured it was some random person calling to waste her time.

Sigh. So T was stuck without a book and very pissed off until she went to the beach and got high.
She got back with sand in her hair, did a Facebook search (yay Facebook!) and sent some messages, and then went to bed.
On Sunday, she left the house at ten past eight in the morning to "go for a walk". What she meant was, "He's given me that address; he's got another think coming if he thinks I won't be checking it out." She walked down a large number of roads looking for 8th Cross street. She passed 7, went down 11, came out on 13, which then turned onto 14; and she realized she'd gone all around the park. So she asked this helpful gentleman on a bicycle, and he pointed her in the opposite direction.
But naturally, said T.
And she went down to the street she was supposed to go down and she found legends that said No 9 (Old No 5). Old Number what! said T. He didn't say anything about Old number and she turned around, and there was the number, with the name, and T said, "I think I might need to sit down." She walked up and down the road for half a minute and pretended not to look at the house, and finally decided to just walk home. She took the scenic route back, which in T-speak does not mean that she got lost, but rather that she found the short-cut with lots of trees that came out opposite the street her aunt's house was on.

Before she went home she went to the beach and stared at the sun, and the beach looked something like so:and T thought to herself that having her nose prickle with sweat and dust blow in her face was not quite as horrible when there was a warm bath to look forward to just a couple of minutes' walk down that-a-way.

(Later, of course, there was a Facebook message replied to, and a drive in the car; and tea in a wonderful old house, and The Brass Bottle, and many coincidences and "it's a small world after all" and an invitation to an arangetram and a "gem of a boy"; but I think it's better if I end it this way, yes?)