Monday, April 26, 2010

Bridget and I

Many a times we get immensely fond of a certain movie without being judgmental of its characters or their situations. We can watch it time and again through the regular mindless channel flipping or by just peeping from the kitchen window. Bridget Jones's Diary is one such movie that has grown on me over the years. Not only I love the humorous plot which cracks me up every time I watch bits and pieces of it, but also the lead actors (Renee Zellweger, Colin Firth and Hugh Grant) are some of my personal favourites. After being thoroughly charmed by the movies (it has a sequel), I considered digging into the original brains behind them, the books written by Helen Fielding. Upon my reading, I could see a huge part of me in Bridget's disaster girl image and her clumsy, oh-god-why-me mishaps. The books helped me to laugh at myself which is not very ego flattering for a woman. Other than rambling the 'sorrows' of life in a personal diary (read scores!), Bridget and I share many other dilemmas.
1. Procrastination... Err can I not do this post later? Yes, rescheduling things till the point where nothing can be done about them happens to be our tragic flaw. Following a routine religiously is no less scary than anonymous death threats. We plan things well ahead of time, but in a strange, mysterious fashion the minutes just run and it becomes impossible to keep pace with them. People who always reach before time must therefore naturally lead sad and empty lives.
2. Social mishaps seem inevitable. We spill, we stammer and sometimes we even stumble. Innumerable chants of 'inner poise' fail us and eventually we land in a thick soup of public embarrassment. A crowd of unknown faces, more so if they belong to influential people, is often intimidating. Not that we don't know what we are thinking of, but when we utter the same thoughts they turn out to be in an alien tongue, a complete jargon. Be it crowd phobia or stage fright, social dos are surely nightmarish.
3. Weight, that persistent tormentor... Like Bridget, I too suffer from an abnormal obsession of weighty issues, practically starting the day slouched on a weight watcher. We love to crib about that agonising extra flab almost every single moment of the day without actually doing anything about it. Year after year, resolutions keep piling on gathering dust and neglect. We do manage to knock off a few lbs from here and there, but like the universe weight remains a constant in our lives.
4. Friends... Ah, how meaningless the world would be without them. Be it a major costume disaster or heart breaking turns of a wretched love affair, friends are the ultimate support system. Not only they lend you their ears and shoulders when you are down in the dumps, but these adorable angels also work hard solving life's puzzles for you. Whether one is 'Single' or 'Smug Married' (as Bridget categorises the world), whether it is sunny or raining miseries in one's life, friends are absolutely indispensable. Amen!

Thursday, April 15, 2010


There was once a heart inside me.
I remember swallowing it on a cold, rainy day
For warmth to feel snug and protected,
For a demon-fire to burn the wishful desires.

It was a Saturday I think.
A weekend for a perfect end
of Hope and a heap of other useless abstract nouns.
The fire remained, but only for a while.
Since then it has been dark and cold there.
A lump, perhaps of flesh, still beats feebly...
In its own mad rhythm, which I fail to understand.
Anyway, I never understood much.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Shopper's hullabaloo

So my spirits are as bountiful and colourful as my treasure trove. I have been desperately waiting for this time of the month. Just two more tedious months and off we go to India for that much needed break. Obviously my euphoria knows no bounds, so much so that I wouldn't even mind hopping into the shoes of an amateurish Mahima Chaudhry dancing to the tunes of yeh mera India. Being well aware, and often being the victim, of my restlessness, Sam had struck a deal with me that we would only start shopping once the dates are decided. I am finally allowed to obsess over lists and fret every moment of the day while browsing online stores. Mine is an interestingly diverse list that features almost everything imaginable starting from books, movies, home decor, cosmetics, shoes to even Hershey's chocolate brownie mix for my mum which I had quite conveniently forgotten during our last visit. After a meticulous online survey, I would visit the stores with a grumpy and ever reluctant Sam. In the archetypal male way he would only consider the purchase worthy once we would finally get back home, after all the hullabaloo would be over. I remember the last time when we had been to India, which also happened to be our first visit after an eight months' stay here, the situation was no different. We generally prefer shopping from Amazon (what would life be without it!!) for electronics and rarities like National Geographic documentaries and old books. Somehow the same delivery man would knock at our door every alternate day with a box, wearing a wide grin. Once he even complemented me saying, "Thanks! You keep me in my job"!
Shopping, be it for anything or anybody, has often worked as a purgative for me. In a strange way I love the feel of an exhausted body and a pair of aching feet which result from hours of pointless wandering in labyrinthine shopping malls. And during such times of prolonged shopping it feels so very festive and thrilling, more so with the excitement of going home and seeing your loved ones after a distressing gap of a year and more. Being an absolute shopaholic I play by the rules. While these purchases will contribute to others' wardrobes, I have plans to stock up mine once I get to scour through the bright and motley collections of ethnic heaven. God knows how miserable I have been every time I would grudgingly browse Orkut albums of friends draped in gorgeous Indian wear. And what's more, retail therapy can even cure the most horrible of jet lags!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Tired and bruised!

There are days when you feel broken and torn and everything around you just goes on to contribute to this hard, knotty feeling. Moving to a new place is really tiresome and this was our fourth move in just two years. It has been a week since we moved into our new apartment and I, who is otherwise smart with new places, is struggling to find my way around. The built up lethargy of our longish hotel stay prior to our moving here is showing up. Now when I am back to my mundane do-it-on-your-own life, with no blessed "housekeeping" knocking at the door, I am at my wit's end. Nicknamed "queen of orderliness" by Sam, I find difficult to live up to it in the present circumstances. The 'queen', who loved to cook, now dreads the kitchen because that is where most of the disasters take place. I spill, drop, scatter and even manage to turn on the wrong stove while the pot is sitting on the other. Dinners which I could fix in no time are taking hours with my sluggish pace. I am a complete sight!

While browsing through the gardening isle in Walmart yesterday, I chanced upon this lovely sham bamboo sitting pretty in a ceramic arrangement. The tag said "Let luck shower on you", so there it was on my kitchen window, sipping sunlight through the blinds. I could never understand Feng Shui and the only reason I get lured by these items is because they represent the colourful, exotic Orient. It was simply a fake assurance, something to bring a smile to my careworn face.

But this was not the end to my string of maladies. It also happened to be the much dreaded time for one of these blinding migraine headaches which made things worse. At such times I become this ultra sensitive person who would flinch from any kind of light or noise and would just prefer to lie down in a dark corner with a cold gel pack pressed on the forehead. There was a saviour for my disappointing afternoon in the name of Julie & Julia. I finally got to watch the movie and could relate to Julie in more than one way. Like me she loved to cook and also happened to blog. Like me she too felt that her dreary life had no purpose and that she just lived her days one after the other. The movie cheered me up like any other Meryl Streep starrer does. I felt revived and was looking forward to an evening walk with Sam by the lake side, which happens to be right in front of our apartment. So there I was promising myself to be cheerful and positive, surrounded by dogwood flowers and paddling geese. Everything was perfect until this cute little Dalmatian came along with its owner. Normally pets here are very friendly and well trained. But this one, for no apparent reason, lunged forward at me with a nasty snarl which made me grab on to the hedge behind as a desperate measure. Just then I felt a stabbing pain in my thigh and almost for a second thought the canine had managed to get a chunk off me. Instead it was the fence which I had bumped into hence resulting in a big painful bruise. The puzzled owner just offered a polite American 'sorry' and marched off with her leashed fury.

It has been more than four hours since this harrowing incident and I still wonder what made that dog behave in such a strange manner. I am utterly crushed because I am a major dog lover. I am tired of this horrible day and I want it to end. Without further ado, the best thing would be to go to bed. I might have a perfect sleep with the perfect dream as Dumbledore says "In dreams, we enter a world that's entirely our own". I hope when I wake up I will find my lost world of order and reign as the 'queen' again.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

The changing portrait

I remember being mighty impressed with, and therefore pensive after having read Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray. Had it not been for a seminar on Victorian Literature, I doubt if I would have ever cared to dissect this Gothic classic. Some of my classmates had found it quite creepy and I would not dare to disagree with them having found it somewhat disquieting myself. For my friends who haven't chanced upon this Wildean fare, here is a handy little summary of the novel. The protagonist, Dorian Gray, is an elegant and handsome young man who in time grows conscious of his charismatic influence on others. His exposure to high society makes him extremely narcissistic and hedonistic in his approach to life. The major motif, as the story unfolds, is a portrait of Dorian done by his artist friend Basil, which has a striking likeness to the real Dorian. Dorian cherishes his portrait above everything else as it portrays him in his youthful best. He looks at this painting and wishes that it, rather than he, could grow old. He challenges time and nature by giving his soul away. His wish is fulfilled which leads him to a life of debauchery and duality. Each time Dorian sins the painting undergoes disfigurement exposing the hideous side of his soul. Thus Dorian's youth and beauty are preserved from the clutches of time. This intriguing tale would push me to the boundaries of my thoughts and there would be abstract questions swarming in my head. Does my soul have a face? If it does what colour is it? A blaring red or a pristine white or may be a soothing blue... What if there actually was such a portrait which could unveil our monstrousity each time we transgressed? Come to think of it, we all have a tinge of Dorian Gray inside us. The wish for eternal youth, that elusive elixir, we all have a secret yearning for it. How else does one explain the confusing isles of age-defying and wrinkle lift creams that are flooding the cosmetics market. It is only too normal for someone who is blessed with divine beauty to be obsessed with it. Gradually this self-love or self-obsession grows into a deeper shade called narcissism. There is a very thin line between self-obsession and narcissism. But while self-obsession is often tolerated and is perceived as a folly, narcissism is not because it is considered to be deviant and therefore a psychological disorder.

Such is human nature that to understand it completely would be a rare and remarkable feat. There are so many complex layers to it, as we live in so many worlds, both imaginary and real. Juggling between reality and charade, such is the ambiguity of life that sometimes we struggle in a phony garb of self-pretense which we are absolutely unaware of. I don't mean to draw any logical conclusion of Dorian's absurdities and self-preservation, because there is hardly any. It feels cathartic to indulge in such profundity and art, in any form, is the perfect way to fuel a soul searching trip. Go meet your soul, it is one of the best encounters ever.

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