Sunday, June 29, 2008
Well probably when I was an infant, sleeping 22 out of 24 hours and driving my Ma bonkers with endless changes of nappies made me extremely happy.
When I was 6, turning up school on my birthday, wearing my new pink frock; watching Jerry make life hell for Tom and not getting caught while playing Hide and Seek was enough to emulate euphoria.
But as I grew up, I realized that, it wasn’t me but the people around me who defined what happiness should mean to me!
When I entered school, they said getting 90%, representing school in the extracurricular stuff and winning it too, is absolute bliss. Which I did. But, I wasn’t happy because I really was, but because my life was proving to be an exact fit for the pre-conceived notion of happiness!
Next was college. They said getting admission in a reputed college and the most coveted course is the happiest option around. I made it to one of the best. I chose Bsc (hons) Microbiology not because I wanted to do it, but, because it was big deal to get in to Gargi college, DU which had a cutoff of over 90% and there was never ever a second cut-off list in its history.
Masters was the next threshold. I got through AIIMS. Period.
Following step up the ladder was a PhD. Am doing it. Right here. Right now.
In principle, am bestowed with all the happiness in the world.
For all the years bygone, people defined “happiness” for me. But the paradox remains that I was never able to define the “people” who defined it for me.
Now that I’m sitting in a different continent, away from my home, I might not be able to write a book on “1001 things that make you happy”, but I sure do know what’s enclosed within my bracket of happiness.
Happiness for me is waking up to the fresh fragrance of Nariyal-Poha, on a lazy Sunday morning, with Ma howling in the background and Papa snoring in the next room.
It’s about cracking the most morose PJs on this planet, with my sisters being the partner in crime and laughing until our stomach starts aching, our lungs grasp for air and tears dwell in our eyes.
It’s about making the 1st chapati and literally dragging Papa off his chair, while he is watching Aaj Tak to testify that indeed its round and puffed upto perfection.
It’s in the warm embrace of my siblings, which I crave for, now that I sleep alone.
It’s pestering Ma for that 6th cup of hot Adrak-Chai on a cold December evening and asking her for tips on how to patao the new hunk down the block, while she is brewing it.
Its about shaping up those lovely gujiyas, stealing them from the dabbas and finishing half of them before Holi .
It’s in wearing that 1st saree on Durga poojo, securing it with 99 pins and asking Ma if she had the 100th one.
Happiness is nothing but in the sweetness of that spoonful of doi-cheeni that Ma would make me eat before every exam or the cloying kishmish in her payesh, which she makes on my birthday, a ritual she follows even in my absence.
It lies in those seldom walks with Papa and the realization that all this while I underestimated his terrific sense of humor and there is so much more to him than just being a patriarch figure in the family.
It’s in those insane fights with my sisters as to who got the biggest piece of chocolate, even if it was 1mm more than mine or those preposterous exchange of dialogues like "Tune meri T-shirt kyun pehni? Dekha na loose ho gayi!!” and me wearing it again the next day to initiate World War III and later manaoing her by getting her favourite Mother Diary icecream.
Happiness is in acceptance of the fact, that at 14 years of age, my sister is more techno savvy than Iam possibly at 23 or that she has a vocab that would give Salman Rushdie a run for his life! (I hope Mr.Rushdie isn’t reading this…Please don’t sue me..Bahut gareeb hoon main!!!)
Its about getting painted allover with my birthday cake, courtesy nalayak dost. The rocking over 100 km/ hr ride on Rahul’s new bike and the comforting, reassuring hug of Shivi while I was leaving India(both are my chaddi buddies).
It’s about, being dragged out of my home, drenched with keechad water and smudged with all life threatening colors possible and of course grease, on Holi, which made me look like a walking-talking piece of modern art straight out of an art gallery, for the next 10 days.
It’s about that warm smile from a 90 year old chubby granny whom I offered a seat in the bus, that bear-hug from the institute cleaning lady(Anne')whom I embarrassed with my broken Deutsch (and in the process, made a gross-public-mockery of myself too!!) or that genuine ' Thank you' from Parisa (my Iranian friend, colleague and room mate) for cutting down the spices in the Indian khana I especially made for her.
In a nutshell, what I have realized is that happiness is not something I can find inside an 11th floor posh city apartment, a 7 figure salary cheque or at the back seat of a Mercedes Benz car. (Not that money isn’t important, but it definitely can’t buy me happiness).
It isn’t something as dogmatic as sitting down with a piece of paper and writing what’s expected of me and on accomplishment of which I’m entitled to be happy. I can spend the rest of my searching for perfect happiness but still not find it.
My quest for happiness ends within ME. It’s not the big things in life which make me happy. It’s the small chunnu munnu stuff that does the magic!
Happiness for me is in knowing that there is possibly nothing new under the sun but there are lot of old things that I don’t know and need to discover. Happiness is preaching that no doubt silence is golden but shouting is hell fun!
Happiness is just being ME, for this is what people all the years have loved (0.1%) or hated (99.9%) me for and that they never be disillusioned or disappointed,because, they hated me for what I am and not loved me for what I wasn’t.
And above all happiness for me is thanking God for everything. Awesome parents, beautiful siblings, handful but friends for a lifetime and the wisdom to count my blessings each passing day, for not doing so would tantamount to a big “Thank you not” to God for what I’m today.
Friday, June 27, 2008
On a horrendous Sunday of January 2008 (27th to be precise), 21:30, University Guest House (Read: Bhoot Bangla), Deutschland.
Me in my dirtiest pullover and stinking socks (Guest House washing machine kaputt for the past 2 weeks, water painstakingly cold, hence, clothes piled up like a dhobi ghaat in my room. Oh…I love details), chopping onions, sobbing and plotting my boss’s murder in the kitchen.
Ting Tong Ting Tong Ting Tong (That was the doorbell, in case you people didn’t get it..talk about lack of imagination!!)
(What the hell $§”?* %/%&?? ) Who is it??
I open the door and see a creature who looks as if he has been jacked down by a bunch of hooligans down the street.
"Heyi! I’m Srinath!" (To main kya karoon?)
"I have dropped in the room downstairs. I’m from Florida." (Tabhi solid accent maar raha hai!Saala ABCD (American Born Confused Desi) kahin ka!! )
"Hmm..Please come in."
Zoom..the transition from the door to my room was 15 microseconds.
(Thumbrule: Don’t be nice to Srinath!!)
Me vanishing and reappearing like a genie with a glass of juice.
"Oh Arpita! Old habits die hard! You shouldn’t have bothered."(Man, you flushed down the last glass of my favourite orange juice down your throat, without a hiccup. Peene se pehle bolna tha, idiot!!)
After 1hour-13 min-30 sec-47 microseconds of absolute bhejafry conversation,
"Okie..I will take a leave now"(Bhagwaan tere ghar der hai, andher nahi!)
But yeh kya, instead, he makes a U-turn and barges into my kitchen!
"Whats cooking?" ( Khichdi boloongi toh bhag jayega!!)
"Khichdi!"(Arre!! He is still standing!! Ab recipie bataoon kya? Wish I had a gun! Boss ke saath-saath ise bhi uda deti!!boom..boom..boom!)
Exit Srinath. Iam braindead.
Exactly after 4 months, 29 days and 1000 sessions of idiocy,
Tring Tring Tring Tring (Imagine..Imagine..Phone baj raha hai!!)
"I’m good. Hw about you?"
"Ledyyh, I’m doiiin kewl!"
"Srinath!!Drop the accent!"
"Abe yaaar..where is it?Hum toh pakka desi hain!!"
And the battle continues…
So, after loads of brutally honest , mud splashing, throat slashing, verbal spanking(okie that was a bit of an exaggeration, Ahimsa zindabad) Srinath has transcended from a weirdo to a "Weirdo Friend" (Won’t say a Good one or else it will act as a rocket fuel for his deflated ego and Srinath will land somewhere on the Moon!! Good for Mother Planet though!)
The Moral of the story: Never judge people by their face value.
Not convinced? Okieee....You see, Srinath looks no less than an alien who’s UFO, due to some technical problems (kahani main twisht )refuses to take off!!(Therefore,1 month of extension in Germany. I know, tumne apnaa vimaan bhoot bangle ki jhaadiyon main, free fund main park kiya hai.Kanjoos haddi!). Talking of aliens,in principle Srinath would have been a good proxy for Jaadu (knock knock, the overfriendly alien in Koi Mil Gaya. Ohho!!the chap who gives Hrithik Roshan magical powers. No joy for me, Srinath is useless!!)
Now on a serious note!! Was I joking all this while? Naaaah! His gestures..not Jaadu, I’m talking about Srinath!!, such as accompanying me to the hospital when I was ill (although I’m sure he would have enjoyed maaroing bunk that day. Mean Me), or for that matter, as my unpaid coolie when I shifted my apartment (Good job man.See experience counts. BTW u never mentioned which railway station?) or plenty of other occasions when he helped even if he wasn’t obliged to, deserve a mention. Thanks a bunch(haan haan Kachori bhi khila doongi..Bhookkad!!).Hey, we might not be able to speak frequently, but try and be in touch (I hope you got the "subtle" hint, don’t call and bug me even its dirt cheap in US of A).
For all the good things you did (seldom miracles), I want to say a little prayer for you. (Srinath..please rona mat...I know, senti maara na maine?).
“Good luk for all your future endeavours. May you survive your PhD defence and the physically present but mentally lost people in the crowd also come out of the room safe and sound. Nobody gets a heart attack or nervous breakdown or goes in to an out-and-out coma after the laughter riot. Amen.” (Dude, keep the ambulance number handy..just in case)
While closing this, here's cheers to our 5 month old animosity!! (Mera woh orange juice waala..n tumhaara woh..ganda ganda..whatever waala!)
People if you see a guy ( alien..rings a bell??) in floral print shirt and bermudas. Please avoid for all the obvious reasons.
Although Srinath might claim, but take the word from the horse’s mouth, none of the aforementioned events are fictitious and resemblance to any person living (Srinath) or dead (Me, once he reads the post) is not co-incidental.
Thursday, June 26, 2008
Saddi Dilli’s golgappa, paanipuri in Mumbai, , poochka of my very own Kolkata or Bihar ka gupchup ..as they say..what’s in a name?
Whenever I think of it, the restless picture my sister flashes before my eyes. According to whom it is THE greatest invention of man!! She would raise her spectacles n emphasise:“Pata hai its the fastest fast food. Can be served under 5sec..Sexyyyyyyyy !!”or “Arre requires no cutlery…no table manners needed..bas mooh kholo aur gup.”
The mere mention of golgappa would be enough to stimulate her gastric juices and hyperactivate some special taste buds (only committed to savour the taste of golgappa).
Be it picking up veggies from sabzi mandi or buying stationary, the ultimate halt would be the roadside golgappe ki dukaan. Not to forget the patented exuse doing the rounds “Kya karoon yaar, college se aate aate bahut bhook lag jaati hai, control nahi hota!! (BTW did I mention the strategically placed, geographical location of our local golgappa waala?Bingo..just next to the bus stop, and now you know why!!).
And yes nothing could beat the instant recognition and glow on golgappa waala bhaiya’s face, thanks to his daily cushtomer (my sis..aka ”Medam” ) 50% of whose pocket money would be traded off at his chaat bhandar. Alhough, gradually she managed to get some dishcount on every plate.
Hmm. amidst her heavenly journey of gulping down these endless savouries were our heated arguments (Nothing less than Mushrraf-Bajpai Agra summit).
Sister:“Khaale khaale moti nahi hogi !!".
Myself:“OMG, paani bahut teekha aur khatta hai, resembles brackish pond water !!”
Sister:“Idiot!! Kitna tasty aur refreshing hai! Mast thirst quencher !!”
Myself:“Chee..Munmun..kitna ganda aur unhygienic hai !
Sister:“Oye laloo, tujhe pata hai, isse immunity kitni badti hai?Mujhe kabhi zukhaam hua hai?Bhaiya, thoda paani aur dena toh.”
Any how..coming back to golgappa..every chaat corner in Delhi has a “pershonal touch’..not only attributed to the sweat that trickles down the golgappa waala’s hands (thanks to Delhi’s soaring temperature ) but the cumulative effect of every customers slobber (courtesy improperly washed plates), which adds to the special taste that’s not reproducible even the next day!
Due to hygiene concerns, the bhaiyas in Delhi now wear gloves, disposable plates occupy the shelves and the Bisleri water has replaced the usual water (undisclosed resources n hence mysterious).And not to forget the new Vodka-Golgappa , that occupies the limelight. But all this is a subject of protest by the so called golgappa loving clan (definitely my sis being No.1 on the list holding a katori rather than a winners cup),according to whom,”Ab mazza nahi aata yaar ”(pershonal touch is lost???)
Nevertheless she still shares with me her golgappa gulping expeditions from different corners of Delhi (yes..sitting seven seas away too) and sets out a pitiable cry “Tujhe nahi pata tu life main kya miss kar rahi hai dudette !!”
I ain’t someone who can play around with words to perfection, nor do I have this burning desire to translate my thoughts in to words, to satiate the writer in me.
Then why am I here? Well..I am as inquisitive.
To pen down ones thoughts is a passion for some, a vent out for others and a yearning for public acknowledgement for another clan. For me none of the aforementioned fits the bill (not that I mind the public appraisal though!!!)
For me it’s a clueless journey to …where?? (Well…that’s as clueless as it can get!!)
There are zillions of things I know about myself. Umpteen personal experiences to look back upon, rejoice or remorse, but Iam either skeptical or rather scared to accept or share and writing might as well serve as a platform (voila, my first step to understand why I chose to sit in front of my lappy, starve myself n blog rather than hit the kitchen n cook!!!). Never mind…am relishing every bit of it!
WHY??? Well..This still remains elusive, but I guess, writing for me is curative.(Hey hey hey..this calls for a brief clarification too!! I am not suffering from MPD (Multiple Personality Disorder), like an entangled protagonist in the story of my life, neither I am a patient of temporary amnesia where writing would help me figure out my past.) I suppose, introspection and expression of uninhibited thoughts tantalize me towards writing, and that’s therapeutic for my soul...
Last but not the least, the ambiguity of blogging (at least for beginners like me) where, as of now, there are no expectations or discernment standing at the threshold, is indeed comforting.
So here Iam, hopeful to string up some vague memories or naive thoughts, for yet more episodes that follow..