Saturday, December 31, 2016

Goodbye to all that

Goodbye to the musicians, the film makers, the actors, the writers, the politicians, the scientists, the environmentalists.

To the ones who were on the threshold of life, the ones who had to flee, the ones who died too young.

Goodbye to the deaths, the accidents, the illnesses, the life changes in each one of your lives.

Goodbye also, to the good things: whatever they were, and however various, small, briefly overwhelming. (We are all unhappy in the same ways; the ways of happiness are more slippery and indescribable).

Goodbye to the warmest year, month on month, since ever. Goodbye to the polar icecaps.

Goodbye to the friendships and the relationships that ended. To the ones who went away, to the things that were completed.

To the things you gave away, gifted, sent on, shared out, distributed.

Goodbye, 2016. We thought you'd never end.

Hello, 2017. We're watching you (even as we're being watched).

Monday, December 26, 2016

His last christmas: RIP George Michael

It's getting to the point when I'm afraid to count the ones that remain. I have words but I can't say them, because it's Bowie, Prince, George Michael, all those people who made my 80s teen years what they were.

Today I will make a Wham!/George Michael playlist and listen. There's one week left in the year but I can say with certainty that 2016 is childhood's end.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Mere Yaar Ki Shaadi

Yesterday, a classmate from school got married for the first time. This is unusual and calls for a celebration. For which reason, many of my other classmates who are still in India, will have flown to Delhi to be there to...I guess celebrate.

Despite the heading of this piece, it's not like he and I are - or were - best buddies. We are friends in the way that all classmates are friends decades after they spent any actual time with each other: when I'm in Delhi, I call him and if anybody else who's around and free, we all go out for a drink and hang out for a while. If he comes to Hyderabad, I don't know about it. There was another friend's wedding a couple of months ago and I know he came to that, but I wasn't in town.

I didn't go, not just because I can't, at the moment, but also because I feel that the time for attending Delhi weddings is firmly behind me now. I just can't. 

Finally, I wasn't actually invited. I got to know through another close friend who lives in Delhi. She invited me over enthusiastically, said if I stayed with her we'd have a blast through the week-long festivities and so on. At the time I said, maybe, yes, okay, it'll be fun, why not.

But still no invitation from the person getting married. I believe invites were issued on Facebook and WhatsApp and other social media I will never sign up for. I shrugged and let it slide. I had things to do.

Later, towards the end of November or the beginning of this month, I finally bit the bullet and called my classmate to offer congratulations. There was no reply. Later, one message: he'd been abroad, missed my call, these were the dates of the wedding and reception and it would be lovely if I could come.

You already know the end of this story, such as it is, because I already told you I didn't go. 

But I did wonder about how there were going to be days of celebration (per my friend, before demonetisation was announced) or if those things had changed (I'll bet they didn't, though). It all felt rather Roman and my mood wasn't quite consonant with celebration, even for such delusional things as marriage. (What, after all, is left to us if not a happy state of collective delusion.) Still and all.

And lately, as misanthropic as I have become, I find the company of most the people I spent my teen years with rather trying. The thought of flights through fog-paralysed airports, wedding-level clothes, gifts, conversations through clenched teeth while huddled around angeethis, the dampness of the grass seeping through one's inadequate footwear was just too much for my already actively anxious imagination.

I spared a few moments to wonder who went, where they stayed, what the reunion must have been like. What did they talk about? Mostly I have uncharitable scenarios in my head, so I won't air them. I am sure they were all genuinely happy to see each other and happy for my friend who, at a time when many of our contemporaries might have daughters of marriageable age (if they're traditionalist), was getting married for the first time in his life.

In my head I wish him every happiness. I haven't been close enough to know, as I did a couple of months ago when my other friend (whom I mentioned earlier) got married. She had very clear ideas about how she wanted her wedding to go, from the priestess who would preside, to the family's hand made decorations - I know every member of her family, including young ones, were involved and enthu - and it truly seemed like a joyous occasion. 

I hope that's what my classmate's wedding was like, even if I didn't see it or its preps up close. Because that's a good way to get married.


Saturday, December 03, 2016

Book (loot)

This post exists to cheer myself up. (I typed 'cheet' by mistake. Make of that what you will).

A couple of weeks ago, a second hand bookshop here that I haunt from time to time, was selling books by the kg for a limited time. I was worried. I assumed they were going out of business (like AA Hussain a few months before) and were clearing their stock. 

Turned out I was wrong and they were doing this just for fun.

So went and I won't bore you with the details or even how much the loot weighed. Here it is. There are some books missing, notable among them a Joan Aiken (Wolves 1) and perhaps other things that have already scattered to different bookshelves in the house.

I am especially thrilled with the Ugresic, because I stupidly gave away a book by her some years ago. By mistake.

I should mention that only all the books from the Kingsolver on are part of the loot. Mimus was a gift.


It's list time. Soon, just to reverse the cheering up I'm doing, I will post a mini recap of this year. Until then, at least there were good books. 

Off the top of my head - because I really don't keep a Books Read list like I ought to - there's: Elena Ferrante, NK Jemisin's Broken Earth Parts 1 & 2, Sean Borodale's Bee Journal, Lisa Suhair Majaj's Geographies of Light, le Carre's Pigeon Tunnel, Eric Kastner's Emil books.

(These aren't all the books I read; just the ones I'll remember as having made a difference to me).

There must be more, but if I can't remember them, they're either doing their work in silence or they've fallen on fallow ground.


(Checks self to monitor level of cheered-up-ness. Detects no appreciable difference. 

Exit, pursued by the other list wanting to be made.)

Thursday, December 01, 2016

Things We Said Today

First of the month, I call the local medical store to read out a list of meds for my mother. (Actually, this is the first time I'll be doing it so don't look at me like the I'm the world's most organised daughter.)

So I'm making a list, a master list of whatever she's likely to need at any point, so that I can just look at my phone instead of hunt for a name through the popped out pills on the ruins of a pad. Or, indeed, her medical file.

"Is this thing for your cholestrol or your BP?"

"The yellow thing is for the BP. I think. The other one is in the bubble-shaped thing."

I say a sharp thing or two about a wilful return to illiteracy that I am not proud of. I take the meds to her and ask her to clarify. She does, and I make my list.

As I continue making the list, I ask her, "What the name of that probiotic thing you have?"

I am losing words just as she is, and I know there's a word for it that I can't remember. 

No, it's not illiteracy.