Thursday, February 24, 2011

Are you still carrying?

         Hmmm…it is difficult, tricky, hard, complex, intricate, nay beri difficult indeed jee to simply ‘let go’. How can we? How is it possible? Naaaa..this is really not sambhav, bhai. ‘jaane bhee do’ was possible when I was a thumb sucking, kanche playing child. Then it was easy not to carry a loss, a pain, a hurt beyond the sleep-full night. The heavy baggage of heartfelt pain could not be carried by lean, thin, tiny, little me (how hard to imagine that, my God!!). Memory card of a child consists of only a few bytes. It is easier for him to clear the cache (pronounce kaish) and this fifty year old me had not even known the meaning of this phrase till the other day when a friend used it in an sms.

I could never understand when somebody would use the word be-faltoo-a double negative. Now I do. It meant ‘By God, really faltoo’- clothes, utensils, bags, purses we hoard so fondly in our homes like wires in a bureaucrat’s office. We may have lost the ability to remember our phone number but our hyper-susceptible to painful impressions wali memory possesses card of thousand of GBs. In proportion to positives we carry so much of negatives that an imbalance is created and its like getting along the waves of the sea and then crying: ‘oh, am drenched!’. Year after year the expansion is taking place like our own flab.

       Not only this we also talk of loutna, going back in time again and again from what is, where we are, unable to accept things as they are. A reprimand from a mother would generally be: maine kaha than na? Driving at break neck speed and crossing a stupid-jumbled speed braker followed by a PWD B&R hoarding: You had been warned-aapko  soochit kar diya gaya tha. It lessens the pain or enhances is anybody’s guess.

      Carrying comes naturally to us. Letting go does not. We are making it booming business for so many to teach us how to take a deep breath in, release it, open the eyes and feel relaxed. Like zen Ekido we continue to ‘carry the girl’. It is painful to let go the I of a  you and I.  Naturally it is hard to feel and be like the people, the mob, the mass, the crowd that forgets, does not remember despite having its best sucked out and wasted. But to be fair to ourselves, we do forget too or else how shall we sing a love song in a strange land when we have been through the stage when everything but death comes. We carry fire in the heart and go on.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

My Knitting

I always loved to play kanche, gilli danda, pitthooPaak kala or other arts which girls are generally supposed to learn were not really my cup of tea. When I was in college, my friend Sarika, so proficient in cross stitch was adamant to teach me how to embroider. May be she thought that it would enhance my shadi ke prospects. Morally bound to do a friend’s bidding, I made two embroideries-one consisting two angels and another castle. It felt like an achiever proud of doing something deemed impossible!
During my stint as a lecturer in FCC my friend insisted that I must knit (actually knit, bhai) and I chose double knit yarn as it involved thick needles. I did knit a sweater for myself. The border was done by my friend (using thin knitting needles was quite a nightmare for me!). I do not know whether any one ever came to know that on finishing the knitting,  I ironed the sweater fondly and lo! It became so misshapen! It was catastrophic! For quite some time I kept gazing at the deformed baby of my labor of love. It was depressing indeed. After that I gave up the chase to be ‘samajhdaar’ woman and never tried to prove my mettle in this arena.
But I confess I love knitting - it’s easy, less complex, more comforting, cozy and provides such a nigh. They all,  who have witnessed over three and half decades of my good old fifty years would agree (I am uncomfortable at the very thought of all of them getting together!) that I have loved to knit words and expressions. It has been my endeavor not to create knots but more often than not I end up with so many of them that a life time seems insufficient to un-knot and resolve; that sometimes I would  use patterns, too with lexis-presentable, attractive, soft and intense; that I would know where my designs were going beyond the hedge and yet nothing would stop me; that the yarn would look soft when afresh but like a brat I would not take much time to spoil the broth, spill it on the lovingly knit sambndh; that I have been (sort of) an expert weaver unmindful of being watched what was being woven at dawn, noon and dusk. For sure I do not know one thing that the patterns get noticed by the people very soon and that it is their fitrat to forget, its their simplicity that they forget, its not theirs to ‘learn to remember’ or else all my designs would get known and then they would not be fooled anymore.
But then I have not learnt knitting either. It is something which comes naturally to me. I do not know how to create designs, shapes. Nor have I ever wanted to impress any one with forms, colors of what is spontaneously knit by me. Besides, I know it is easier to get into a complex design but very difficult to manage that. The situation gets messy like packing before a take off with heaps scattered in front of you.
I have not been a deft weaver and dread being shown the knots (gaanth) in my knitting; have often left loose tand here and there callously unmindful of how thin threads can get entangled to the extent that cutting them apart is the lone solution as I possess absolutely no ability to untangle the tiny loops. They may make a beautiful design in crochet but when it comes to prem ka dhaga,  Rahimji has the last say.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

whats cooking?

The day my daughter got engaged to a strapping handsome young man, a friend literally tried to drag me on to the dance floor. I mumbled: ‘I can do anything but dance. That’s the only thing that’s beyond me’. But was it? I heard a voice – Can you cook Sumedha? While I tried to find an easy answer, I was transported back to my school days. Those were beautiful times. And to match, I was khoobsoorat too then, I surmise. That was four decades ago. Whether it was in the Arya Putri Pathshala or the taton wala sarkari school- I don’t recall clearly. What I remember is that I always looked forward to the annual ‘rasoee day . It was like a rapid fire cookery class with lots of emphasis on the art of cooking, serving what you dished out, garnishes and what not. Well, frankly, that’s all I know about cooking other than eating of course.

It’s not that I didn’t try even if forced by circumstance. As a teacher of English at F. C. College in Hisar, I regularly dined at the oily smelling hostel mess. One fine summer day, Dolly, a hot-headed lady who served the food was throwing her tantrums and she rudely threw the food tray in front of me. I could not stomach the insult and decided I was better off without food rather than eat a humble pie.

That was the day of revelation. Or perhaps,reckoning. I bought a messy kerosene stove and all the grocery stuff like rice, noodles, spices which cost me quite a fortune in those good old days. But the real challenge lay ahead. How do I cook for this paapi pet? I couldn’t find an answer even after trying to make dough out of flour umpteen times. Lost like Alice in Wonderland, I went on a diet of butter and toast for several days. I realised that our revered DDJ who taught us Linguistics at Panjab University had a lesson for us when he he would say learning a language and its pronunciation was like cooking and swimming. Nobody could master it by reading books. You had to actually do it to master it. I now realise he was stating a universal truth.

I recall another time I flirted with cooking. Those were the days when mobile phones and Spectrum scandals were yet to be born. On a karwa chauth eve I thought that a close friend might have forgotten about the fasting. So I took it on myself to remind her. What better way to do so than offering her sargee in the wee hours of the morning. And, so I cooked a ba-kayda food, hired a rikshaw and landed at her place with the dabba. I don’t remember whether she partook of it. Half a century can erase many memories! But she was touched, for sure.

Months later, frozen ‘bawarchee’ food packets were introduced. Whenever I visited Delhi, I would bring a few packets from Gainda Mal Hem Raj stores. We loved to share it. And everytime we ate we prayed that the Bawarchee brand would prosper. Delicious, is all I can say about Bawarchee.

But gradually I learnt the difference between frying and deep frying, a half and a hard boiled egg, regular pakodas and pakodis for kadhi. But this learning had its lighter moments too. I can’t forget how my friend had a mighty laugh when her hubby asked me if I had added water to the leftover kadhi while heating it. How could I deny it when I had done exactly that. Those were the days when I earned the fond sobriquet of Miss Paneerwala for the matar-paneer I could cook.

When I donned the garb of a mother, my favourite pastime on any Sunday came to be cooking for my daughter. But, uttapam and upma were still a taboo for me. I bought a microwave cooker too, but, the machine looked to me as if I were an alien. I salute all the good mothers who have had the good fortune of cooking delicious food for their offspring. In that sense, I have not been a complete mother. That remains a regret.

My academic pursuits too led me to the kitchen. The greatest learning experience in culinary arts I had was when I was studying in England. I loved to cook for my host AJ and Geeta who worked double shifts to find their feet in the alien land. AJ would often complain that ustadji’s paronthe were solely responsible for all the flab. When my younger sister came calling I enthusiastically told her how I had learnt to cook broths and pastas, Spinach Spaghetti, Shepherd’s pie and Yorkshire pudding. She was not amused. She was in tears and all she said was “let’s go back”. She found it hard to accept I had worked so hard to be a cook of sorts. I can’t imagine what would have been my fate, without my siblings and mother. But for them I would not be having a regular meal. I can’t even thank them enough.

In fact, I lack all that makes a good cook. It’s so easy to blame the lack of time. Or the belief that I am one mortal made for higher callings. Yet, I believe I am a shirker. I can’t seem to work hard to cook a good meal though I can word hard to earn it. But, that’s how I am. If I can’t cook, knit or dance, I can always cook an excuse why I can’t. That’s me!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Oh, February!!

         The transition in the weather always unsettles to the extent that everything seems so unsure-even the ‘earth beneath the feet’. I cannot think of clutching of roots or branches growing. The imminent ‘change’ like the coming events casting their shadows before can be felt in the air and felt along the heart. The fragrance in the air becomes conspicuously different, the gait of early morning breeze becomes unsteady, unexpected drizzle adds fuel to ‘ its different ’ texture of the dawn or the dusk.

Decades ago the approaching March or October would dread but significantly over the years that scene has shifted to January ending or February beginning or November end or December beginning (global warming!). What has not changed with age ever since adolescence is the association of transitional phase of weather with people and relations we grow up with. During the phase, all the dilemmas we read about in literature like ‘two roads diverging in a yellow wood’ or ‘good fences make good neighbors’ or ‘something there is that does not love a wall’ stare on the face like the famous ‘to be or not to be’!!

With all the huallagulla of Valentine’s Day round the corner and romance- in- the- air, as they say, I have not been prepared (caught unawares as always!) for yet another change (have I not had enough, my God?) and  (please don’t blame me!!) naturally I find myself squirming with discomfiture. No, I have not questioned God (hardly know Him!) about the why of it nor muttered my resentment. My own silence is disturbing as it is not matching the storm within. Definitely ‘I am not prince Hamlet, nor was meant to be’ but then this, too,  is true that I have always been nagged by ‘And then how should I begin?’ with the comforting carpet of warmth having been sort- of –removed from under my feet, the protective glance having been shifted leaving me dithered.

Haven’t I seen it all already? Haven’t I learnt to protect or shield myself from the overwhelming pain? Hasn’t my intuition seen it coming and how come I would one-fine-day-find myself left in the cold despite the Basant? Every time it comes, it diminishes me to the extent I feel nothing-can –hurt-me-anymore.

Huh, resilience? Hardly!!  Pure and simple ‘dheethaee’ to go on despite come-what-may and over and above keep ismiling till the temples ache. ‘Accepting challenges of time?’  Oh, no. Have already grown too old to do that. ‘Wanna prove the mettle?’ Come on, its all grayed now. Then must be fearful of the ‘heat of the sun’ or ‘winter’s furious rages’ ? I really do not know what makes it all go on despite the pain that seems to tear me apart; I really do not know what moves me through all the testing times; I really do not know how do I survive all the hopelessness, nagging negativity and jeopardized my never-say-die spirit of whom I have been so proud a partner.

Suddenly, it has started drizzling assuaging my dizziness due to transitional dark before rising of the morning sun. The show must go on, after all. Oh February, you have given me so much that I can hardly thank you for everything. Most of all you have introduced me to my that self whom I hadn’t known existed. 

Morning Buzz-II

I owe it to you, my morning buzz, a sincere ‘thank you’. Not much long ago did I discover how easy laughter came to me, that I too ( et tu brute?) possessed some sense of humour, wow!

You made me re-know how to breathe coz often I had heard Sri Sri jis and Baba Ramdevs  that we breathe only 30 percent and lo! I discovered what it meant to breathe one hundred percent. To be honest, I have also fumbled with my breaths (as with my words I often find myself fumbling)when my ’kambakht’ dil would seem to dance to a different beat, the ‘chaal’ in ‘its  different masti’ and ‘saanso ki mala’ humming an altogether makhsoos dhun. And I also owe it to you, my divine mornings that something there has been that would always sing in my ears: ‘I believe in angels, something good in everything I see’ though I know when someone sings this song-that sure one would when ‘the dream’ comes true-I would definitely be there from where I no more could hear.

True, of late during my walks across all the four landmarks, I have heard more of silence than ‘yogic’ laughters. Sometimes, I have also wondered what enabled those meaningless tears trickle down when there were no droplets falling from the sky. Infact, so many good things have happened that would ‘hairaan’ me (surprise, amaze, shock, astonish-nothing seems to say what ‘hairaan’ can) e.g. my ankles no more hurt me, my shoes are worn out but I do not feel the need for new shoes any more, I may miss the beat now and then when I go for walk in the morning but I miss my walks every time I am not able to ‘prepare’ myself to respond to the morning buzz with positivity; the lights on the fourth land mark still attract me as much as the lights of University of Christminster would lure Jude; the brightest star seems in more hurry than before to leave the sky but my competitive spirit has not given way.

I know..I know a ‘yug’ is over and that ‘that time is past’ and sach, its ‘aching joys’ are no more (coz those laughters would ache my temples), sachmuch,  I cannot paint what then I was but I do realize that time has chiseled me, chastened me, humbled me and to say the least taught me as always it does to all of us that ‘happiness is but an occasional episode.’

Oh! The crust of the road I move on is the same; the air I breathe on my journey back home is as ‘khoobssorat’ as it always has ben; the sky can be seen often changing its texture allowing the clouds sometimes, sometimes plainly looking at me ismiling; Sharon seems almost  always prepared to let me go provided I let him get to the main gate to see me off; the ‘dheeth’ me has found its feet again (oh, my God, yet again!!).

And for this and everything I am grateful- sincerely grateful (if the phrase means anything) to you for the first morning buzz. I am yet to rise, yet to awake fully, the fog is still there, the cold is gone yet its ‘sheet ta’ shivers me but I am grateful, for there is ‘abundant recompense’. Thank you, my morning buzz.

Morning Buzz

And lo! It buzzed at 4.58am. Was I prepared? Did I want it? Why was I conscious of the impending ring? Had for long been hearing the warning bells, giving them a damn and continued with the I-don’t- care but the latest signal was a bit rude, its shadow hanging around like wide eyed parental reprimand ‘this-won’t- go-on, understand!’ And when it buzzed with all seriousness of purpose, I found myself excuses for a good ‘muhurat’ like Holi, Diwali but it exhorted ‘lets go, shall we?’ A hard nut fumbled with what-to-wear? Where are my walking shoes? Oh! It might be cold, was I prepared? And everything seemed to be laid on platter like a well knit design to drag my ‘unwilling steps’ as a birdie wind sheeter winking with scribble ‘fly with a smile’ found on opening the cupboard, my reebok (albeit in dire need of ‘mujhe badal dalo’) and one tool still missing-my walk ‘danda’ to save me from wagging happy –to- help’s meharbaniyan. And I was getting impatient with myself : ‘ki-ab-chalo-bhee-bahut ho gaye nakhre’ and there I was opening the door only to find a surprised Sharon with questioning look of ‘where sirji, early in the morning ?’ I heaved a heavy hearted sigh but just then a whiff of fresh air made me close my eyes like a majnoo breathing in fragrance of a Ponds’ talcum model.

Why was I behaving like a ‘dheeth’ child telling myself ‘I have come but no farther than the first landmark of Major Nitin Bali Road’ where I reached in no time, saluted the warrior and speedily walked past as the second landmark of Zila Bagwani Vibhag was just close by. Thought I would insist on drawing my feet back home but they went on to the third, fourth land marks reaching the Sector 5 turn, My toes had started asserting with ‘enough!’ So there I was on my way back only to feel awe for almost a decade older person jogging and hordes of people thronging the bye-pass for a morning walk. And I thanked the morning buzz for all its spontaneously enriching freshness which I had denied myself for no valid nor sound reason. After ages I welcomed the doodhwala and prepared the morning tea, managed the morning chores of boiling the milk, putting the morning bhog to apne kanha ji, having a cup of tea and feeling free having contributed my mite in domestic management for the whole day! This above all- turning to my writing that I had missed all these days. Thank you, my morning buzz. I am awake at last.