Monday, January 30, 2012

Who must 'do' books - Chetan Bhagat has the answer

The Jaipur Literary Festival is done, dusted and put to bed. At least as far as the media is concerned for they have the elections to dissect now.
So how does it matter if literary enthusiasts were meted out with injustice? Or if the world watched the Indian political class mow down one of its citizens' fundamental rights?
Wonder if we should heave a sigh of relief that the Republic Day went about without untoward ado. Or should we wait for the elections to wind up?
Guess Rushdie's flight developed a Republic Day-cum-poll snag!
It was, nevertheless, interesting to see the fiasco unfold slowly and hit crescendo...Beginning with reports, clips, quotes and misquotes, the climax saw an organiser who wept on the dais and property owner who smiled; authors who read and fled and police who shouted threats... all this amid the Big 'O' effect!
Even when the charming duo (one who hogged the limelight in person and the other by his virtual presence) decided to get on with their routine, our mirch-masala writer bragged on.
Chetan Bhagat creeps into my solitude. He took on a twitter war with Rushdie, possibly after his media announcement of asking people not to treat authors of banned books as heroes carried no fizz.
I'm not even getting into the Freedom of Expression - we lost MF Hussain. Alas! the issue seems to have doused with the great artist. Now an author. The worst is when a fellow artist denounces another. Once, you pardon. Repeated onslaught is offensive. Repulsively offensive. Period.
And to think Chetan Bhagat taking on Salman Rushdie is like an irritating flea niggling atop a jumbo pachyderm! With all due respect to the writer, I believe Bollywood is no bonafide endorsement to a work of literature. Even as I staunchly believe each writer has a genre he or she specialises in, certain books are works of art. And the likes of Salman Rushdie, Vikram Seth, Anita Desai, et all produce works of art.
Interestingly even Chetan Bhagat is turning in works of art - only that it’s the hot and erotic art. Checkout the YouTube advertisement for his books.
At least it’s rightly titled ' Do more books'!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

When my husband lifted me off my feet...

I had a nostalgic few days recently. My husband carried me (the right I bitterly gave up after our daughter came into our lives). And without me even uttering a word. Ooomy!
He didn't stop at that. He held me tight and let me lean over his shoulders as I strolled in full public view. Wow! When was the last I did that! I don't even want to recollect.
He returned from work early, without me requesting. And fed me, too. What more can I ask of my man!
Yes, 13 years into our marriage and the zing is still on.
All I did was soak it all in - with a groan!
And the moment he heard me, he also ensured the home front was perfect.
The shoes on rack; Tie on hanger; TV volume minimal; Remote controls in place...
Barbies, Rapunzels and fairies in toy boxes; paints and brushes back after use; school projects completed without a hullabaloo...
Breakfast, lunch and dinner ready before I got to plan even!
All I did was soak it all in - with a moan!
And the moment he heard me, he rushed to pick up the hot water bag.
Wonder why the moans and groans ended in hot water bags? Well, the above mentioned moments are but the wonderful side-effects of suffering a sore back. Rather a terribly ill-behaved lower vertebrae.
So even as my medic has warned me not to show up at his door for the next two years, if I intend to walk upright when I grow old, I wouldn't mind peeping in to savour the wonderful moments.
But the practical and more saner mind in me says to back off. How about faking one at regular intervals. Harm to none!
So yesterday when the husband returned from work in the evening, I let out a sigh, eager to devour those wasted romantic moments I couldn't enjoy last week.
He just sat looking at me. Gave him some time to recoup and unwind and let out another sigh! "Why the hell can't you exercise? I didn't see you exercise yesterday, nor the day before. Don't forget what the orthopaedic said. Once the pain reduces you are back to..." And so he went on and I didn't know where the romantic feelings fled to until I stopped my thought process and began to pay attention to what was being said.
When I noticed his helplessness, my guilt knew no bounds.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Love, cuppa and diet

It popped up on my kitchen table precisely at the same time on Sunday mornings, even as I returned it to where it should belong every Thursday.
Once I threw it into the inner most rack of a cupboard amid rusty old timers, yet it sprung up two days later. On realising that my love for the cuppa would never cease, I changed strategy - no, not resolutions - I called it determination! Opted for luke warm water with a squeeze of lemon to soothe my empty tummy to begin the day.
Throughout that Friday the feel-good hormones danced inside me. But the thought of what I ignored was vibrantly alive making me absent-minded and lagging behind schedule on chores. I blamed it on citrus!
Saturday morning as my fingers felt the kettle, I paused to take a deep breath to awaken the sleepy resolve. But the salient intake of the Life Force refused to unsettle a habit sedimented over the years. So I said aloud, 'No tea for me'. And it worked. I sipped the tangy water. The citrus began playing dirty soon as it niggled the interiors of my head. A creeping headache surfaced! By evening it worsened and I hit the bed smelling of eucalyptus.
Sunday morning, I woke up before the alarm did the honours and stood under the shower to soothe my thrombing nerves and hurried to the cupboard. A hot steamy cuppa and within an hour the spring returned to my weary feet.
With a justified excuse of 'I need energy to work', I stayed sincere to my cuppa up until the weekend. The following Thursday morning (my day off from the workplace), as I had nothing pressing to attend to, the occasional visitor wriggled in. The creepy guilt brought in with it a list of 'I can'ts'... I can't do a detox; can't get on a diet; can't eat healthy; can't give up a cup of tea to begin with...
This was eight months ago. My determination has been playing hide n seek since.
A month-and-a-half ago I took control of my mind. Formulated a modus operandi to beat the vice - one step at a time for me. Settled for half a cup of tea every morning. Felt instantly good. Wow! Ten days later, I settled for 1/4 cup of tea. Wow! factor lost its zeal. But I kept at it. Hung on for 10 days more. It was time to forgo completely as per my plan. But I struck a compromise. Four sips, three sips, two, one and then none. How long will each sip duration last? My mind said one day each but I settled for one week each.
Last Thursday was my first 'No-Tea' day. I kept myself busy and the headache too stayed away. I hit the bed proud of myself.
The next morning as I walked out of the bedroom, I saw a fresh and beaming husband in the living room watching the India-Aussie test. Seeing him smile I thought for a minute that India managed to save face.
"So who pulled the team through," I asked. "How can anyone rescue this side," he replied and added: "Come sit. Was waiting for you. Made your favourite masala chai."
So loving! How can I be rude!
A few hours later...I overheard him speak to my mother on the phone, "She's been trying to get on a diet again…no, no, you don’t worry. I’ve fixed it. Once she abstains from tea, then she’ll easily give up other things. So today I broke it. Now for some time she'll eat well."

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

You do things in your own time and space

Things will move in its own time and space. I was never a believer of this statement even as I devoured every line written by Louise l Hay.
With the dawn of 2012 I began to realise what it means.
My dream, the seed of which was sown inside me during teenage, lay in incubation for a good two decades. Did I nurture it? Honestly, not as much I would have loved to.
But it did germinate. It raised its tiny head two years back. Initially I felt it subtly. Then as it prodded and pushed me to breathe in air, I felt an ache that soon developed into a pain that I could not ignore.
That's when I picked it up and held it close. Am I guilty of being irresponsible? Well, not at all. Here's the reason why...
My little princess (that's what I call my daughter, who is my best critic) made a profound statement recently as we watched an interview of a fashion designer on TV. A NIFT graduate, she worked for four years in the corporate world before opening a boutique to pursue her chosen career.
I said, "What a fool. She wasted four years. Had she started designing right after graduation, she would have been established long ago."
My daughter replied, "How can you call her a fool? She might have thought of helping her parents with money. Now she might be settled, that's why she's doing what she learnt."
Coming from a 10-year-old, I was impressed. Soon came the next salvo. "Why do you always say follow your heart, follow your dreams and you will be happy? As if people who do not follow their hearts will not be happy. You first need to know what will make you happy, only then can you follow that, isn't it."
The last sentence was a statement.
Was this the line I was looking for? Perhaps.
If I chose to work in various publications for the last 15 years, it was for a reason. For my family. For myself, too. Else I would be lying. And how would I have enjoyed and understood the depth of my love for being an author had I not abstained from the same? Would I not have cursed myself for not giving a 'salaried career' a try? Definitely I would have.
So absolutely no regrets.
Yet I wonder at times about what spiritual experts say about achieving what we yearn for. Paulo Coelho says when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it. Joseph Murphy believes mental imagery can help attract to us that we seek. Lousie L Hay says affirmations can get us what we aspire...
A creepy little doubt pricks me. Did I not really yearn for writing all these years?
I did. My first book says it all.
Each person's time and space differs!