Sunday, July 20, 2008

"Growing up"..The journey from Complan to Complain!



God gave me a crooked set of 28th teeth (Yup..no wisdom teeth as yet. So, in principle no Akkal Daarh = no Akkal..which accounts for 50% of my underdeveloped grey cells!!)

Now, unlike Einstein’s brain, the world for sure wouldn’t have kept my teeth in a museum or framed and displayed over my tomb. So, I always put my dental assets to, if not the best, maximum use (read: overuse) by laughing (hmm..make it laughing. laughing and more laughing). And I always felt glad about it, until last week when one of my colleague psycho-analysed my laughter and asked me to Shut Up!!

I distinctly remember the usual me, cracking up a broodingly morose PJ, giving way to my supersonic laughter waves across the lab corridor (BTW, the berehem duniya waale brand my comic talent as “Poor Jokes”, I claim they are “Powerful Jokes”!!)
Now obviously, not everybody in the crowd was impressed. My sense of humor did prove to be a little distasteful for the dead-pan faced gambhir janta, out of which of one of the suave lady deserves special mention. She gave me this I-will-throw-you-out-of-the-window-right-away look, as though I was some homicidal maniac on a killing spree! I thank my stars that she didn’t, but she did manage to throw a big “Stop laughing! Grow up!” at me.

The reckless, effervescent “child” in me wanted to probe further, and ask for some useful tips on “how to grow up” from her. .”Should I water my roots more often? Which brand of fertilizer should I chew? Will sniffing Money Plant help? I have one growing wild in my room!!” were some of the obvious questions. Never mind..riling her any further would have assured a smooth flight out of the window (which for sure wouldn’t have been too picturesque ). But, the “Mental Me” didn’t improve the situation. 10..9..8..7..and here we go!I burst out laughing again!! Screwedddddddd!!making her even more terribly sick in the stomach.

Half an hour later and it still drew me bonkers recalling if there were some clauses in my PhD contract, as the ones stated below:
1.Do not laugh within the radius of 10 km around the institute.
2.If you do, your laughter should not exceed a decibel “X”.
3.If you fail to abide by rules 1 and 2 stated above, kindly laugh ONLY after camouflaging your kalmooha laughing face under a “monkey cap” (which reminds me I don’t have one and should better get it soon)

Arre yaar..Chill Maadi!! Firstly, laughing and growing up are two orthogonal elements. Secondly, what’s this rush of “growing up” all about? Kitthe jaana hai?

“Growing Up” isn’t a bad idea. The idea eludes one and all, just that the phrase is a little bit overrated and a lot more obscure. I mean, how do you set a time bracket as to when one has grown up? Do you walk, talk, eat, sleep, look or for that matter laugh differently when u finally do? There are zillions of perplexing questions floating around. Any answers?

I am myself standing at a threshold where I resonate between a timorous child and a mature adult.

My hormones have stopped rebelling and the physical changes in me aren’t that confusing anymore (getting a namurad pimple right in the middle of my nose, especially when I’m praying for none, being an exception though). I can buy trousers of just the right length and the exact size of shoes, without getting in to the “Chota ho jayega” perennial argument with Ma. I’m old enough to cast my vote, get a driver’s license, pay electricity bills, claim income tax, aim for “big” things in life like a doctorate, attend superficial social gatherings and no-nonsense conferences and the next “grown up” thing in the pipeline might be slipping a wedding ring down my fingers.

Regardless of the abovementioned, I’m still a paradoxical mix of a child and a grown-up. Everyday when I get up, I unleash the kid in me who makes noise while munching chips, licks ice-cream, pastes bright-sparkly stickers on the refrigerator door, blows bubble out of soap water while washing clothes, sneaks and plays hopscotch on the diced institute corridors, spills aloo-matar on a brand new white shirt (waise all u sundar n sushil betis and bahus, any tips on how I can get rid of the stain?), makes life difficult for Parisa (Parisa...who???for the gazillionth time, “my roomie and colleague”..dobaara mat poochna!!!)…tickles her while she’s reading, squeezes orange peels in her eyes, shoots paper planes at her..in short "poor Parisa" (aka Pappu).

In theory I’m grown up and conventionally it might not be the most apt behavior expected out of a woman, but would it give the Pope sleepless nights if I do so? (Now all you die hard Pope fans, DO NOT take immediate offence and pounce on me any time soon, grin-and-bear it and let-me-be-me. Thank you)

I really appreciate people at 30 behaving as 30 (The 30 year olds don’t sue me either, for the sake of clarification; it was a random number… happy?) Trust me it’s awesome. But don’t we have enough people already doing that? I’m sure Mother Earth is big enough to contain a single anomalous me, even if I am a gross deviation from the prefabricated so called “mature behavior of the homo sapiens

I’m the eldest one and was (yup.."was") THE most calm, quiet, obedient and serious kid around, so much so, that had I been born 20 years before I could have easily mistaken for Meena Kumari’s daughter. I wish I had ever bunked a class, walked out of a line, poked someone’s eye out, and bullied a six-footer (I seriously doubt this one though). But I didn’t do any of the punch-kick-howl-bang-boom stuff then. (Not that Im acting like a kid now,to take vengeance)

So, bhaiyo and bhehno, lying within the above two and a half page long volley of crap is a teeny-weeny message-“life passes by”. So very fast, that the moment you acknowledge your present it already becomes your past. I don’t want to contemplate the meaning of my life by peeping in to my past and thinking about the things I wished to do but didn’t do.Not anymore.Not once again.

I love being an adult, having my choices in life and the freedom to reserve my stake on things I believe are right. We all will grow up. We all will wrinkle..grey..stoop and die. (Hanuman ji ne Sanjeevani booti toh nahi khilayi hai na!!). But I don’t want to relive my youth and act half my age when it is physically less conducive and socially least graceful. I want to live life to the hilt now and until I die, nothing more..nothing less.

So all I wish, to tell the “grown up” lady who refuses to laugh is , the maturity to laugh at myself..my problems…instead of cribbing about it and surfacing my hurt on to others is bliss and that’s what I believe the real “Growing up” is all about.

Ahem..one last question..Don't mind..haan..will Complan really help me or should I switch over to Bournvita?

Sunday, July 6, 2008

"Ye aasoon poch daalo Pushpa! I hate tears re.."



Yesterday I cried. Okieeeeeee, not that I cried lakes, so much so that the neighbour’s kids started poking their Mommy’s tummy, “Mummy hamein bhi nahana hai is talaab main”!!..chapak..chapak.. But, I did manage to dehydrate myself enough to gulp down gallons of water after the crying episode and make questionable rounds to the loo, scaring the hell out of Parisa (my roommate), who suspected me of suffering from a bout of Amebic dysentery.

Anyhow, the mystery of human tears (or for that matter crocodile tears, if at all it cries, I’m not sure!), made me wonder “What makes one cry?” ( Yeah..yeah..the demented scientist in me who loves the WHY of things)

So..Google Zindabaad! I typed in..And bang! 7,730,000 references!! Eee toh ghor conphusion ho gaya bhai!! Anyhow I hit upon Wikepedia, which gave me an answer good enough to defend my PhD thesis. What I was looking for was an empirical or so to say a humane answer and not something like “Crying is a complex secretomotor phenomenon characterized by the shedding of tears from the lacrimal apparatus, without any irritation of the ocular structures” ,to comprehend which I need to type in 200 more search items! Bachao!!

So, yet again I resorted to my tried and tested philosophy “What-did-I-do-when-it-happened-to-me?” I transcended into a deep ‘chintan’ mode and pressed the rewind button of my life and recapitulated the events that made ME cry.
Although, I must admit, since I don’t maintain a ‘Tear Diary’ and I’m actually the ‘Vamp kahin ki' sorts ‘jo logon ko balti bhar bhar ke khoon ke aasoon rulati hai’, hehehahahaaa!!, I was actually flummoxed over whether I cried or made the other person cry (the probability of the latter being manifolds).Nevertheless, I was sure that the Archies card commercials didn’t tear me up nor did the hopelessly emotional flicks made a dent!

In retrospection,Arpita, as she was 10 years ago, would be down-casted by the fear of rejection and the inability to express herself. The perennial question ‘What would others think of me, if I do this?’ (As if, it was somebody’s prerogative to define what is right or wrong in life!), would occasionally make a tear or two (okiee..make it buckets..happy?) escape from her eyes. My obvious submissiveness to people and situations would often make me put my hands up and surrender.

What was more interesting is the fact that the sobbing episodes were of assorted kinds, whose intensity and quantity would fluctuate with random ease. For instance, mahayuddh with Ma, screwing up my Physics exam, Papa getting visibly upset with me, but not telling me where did I go wrong?, not getting through an interview; my siblings shooting back at me, giving me the shock of my life (but since it was a part and parcel of their growing up process, I bail them out of this. Yeah..I know..big time bias..but what to do, when you love somebody so much? "Bachcha party, you better adore me for this!") and not to forget, the perpetual gender wars culminating into jackass comments such as ”Abe yaar ,chal chod, ladki hain, rone lagegi!!(Yes, that’s the seldom feminist in me,speaking, for a change!!). All the aforementioned events would stimulate the tear tank differentially. Often vulnerability, a palpable conversation or an overwhelming gesture would make tears dwell in my eyes too!

To cut the long story short (Hayo rabba!!ab yaad aaya mujhe?), I was the kinds who could easily score a negative 10/10 on Emotional Intelligence.

So, have I changed over the years bygone?

Well, I haven’t risen out of ashes like Phoenix and punctured my vocal chords screaming “Nahi! Ab main nahi ro-oongi!” neither do I go slitting people’s throat, if they dare to make even the slightest attempt to fiddle with my sanity (though sachchi-muchchi speaking I would love to!!).

But, yes, there was indeed, a phase in my life, when denial helped. I sketched out a perfect ‘Escape Route’ for myself, ‘I-got-no-emotion-I-won’t-cry‘. My face would redden up and my blood would hit 100˚C (Yup, like a typical chudail in a Ramsay horror movie) and my hands would clench to knock off the nuisance maker (Now you know from where Lady Swank got the inspiration in Million Dollar Baby and swiped off the Oscar!!).

But I did not cry.

Today is no different, it’s as much as a hopeless crusade (as it was 10 years ago or the transitory phase in between) to decipher, ‘What exactly makes me helpless enough to cry?’ I’m still subjected to a situation analogous to a proverbial kid in a toy store. Lost. There are umpteen occasions, when I struggle and question myself, “Do I stand the choice of crying or should I behave brave?”.

Total fa├žade, because, at the end of the day, I’m human. There are days when I’m brave (Well, some people have tagged me Jhansi Ki Rani too! Shukriya ..Shukriya!) , and there are days when I sulk and I’m hopelessly weak. So, I still do cry. Just that, earlier I howled to bestow a sense of guilt upon the person who made me feel miserable (And it’s the last thing on Earth,which works; making a Zebra doing disco is much easier!). And if tears didn’t do the trick, I would find refuge in words (and in the process I have made some of the best speeches of my life, which I regret till date).

But now, I cry, unnoticed. Alone. Without an audience. Just myself. It helps me recognize my own feelings and embrace them as a part of me.

So, for all those people, who assume crying to be a sign of weakness, or a woman’s job, I would love to be a loyal opposition. The advice on board is (I agree, an unwanted one, though), crying helps. I got no clue about the biochemical reactions going on, in and out of the neurons, but it sure cleanses your soul. And trust me, that’s less of a cleaning job to do, thereafter in your life.