Saturday, 17 October 2009

Bah, humbug

You can’t help but wonder how your life could possibly get any worse when you spend Diwali all by yourself mechanically swallowing an insipid breakfast of oat-porridge and milk. I have turned off my mobile phone and shut myself indoors, in the hope that solitude will provide some sort of solace. It doesn’t, and for the fourth consecutive year in a row, Diwali is spent longing for home.

My first trip to the ‘Pataaki Bazaar’ in Jayanagar came two months after my sixth birthday. Grandpa, a far cry from his usual grouchy self, decided it was time he introduced his grandson to the thrills of atom bombs, rockets and bijlis. True to our TamBram roots, we stayed off 12th Main Road to avoid the ghastly sight of KP Butcher Shop (Estd. 1932) and the lambs and goats that hung from its ceilings . The market was no more than a kilometre away from where we lived, though the aforementioned detour nearly doubled the distance.

The trip soon became an annual ritual- year after year, Grandpa and I would set off to the market on the eve of Diwali, with the day’s Hindu for company. While I mentally conjured a shopping list of sorts, Grandpa spent much of the journey cavilling about the downward spiral the country was on. For its part, the Indian political establishment seldom let him down, with one scam or the other taking up much of The Hindu’s dull frontpage time and again.

On D-day, every kid in the neighbourhood gathered at the courtyard with his booty. There was a lot of pride at stake, with each kid vying for top spot in the race for arms. Once the fireworks began, though, there wasn’t a sound to be heard apart from the booms of Sivakasi-made gunpowder. For the next two hours, one hundred eyes looked up to the skies in unison admiring the spectacular barrage of rockets, aerial bombs and whatnot. The rigmarole of daily life somehow seemed to take a backseat for those two wonderful hours. Even Grandpa didn’t seem too worried about the future of Indian democracy any more.

The rockets will light up the Bangalore sky once again tonight. For the twelfth successive Diwali, I will be elsewhere.

Sunday, 4 October 2009

To be or knot to be

It has been close to a month and a half since I last posted. The 40 odd days that have transpired between ‘Fifty and counting’ and now have been unusually eventful- at once both dream and nightmare for a blogger. That is one of the downsides of blogging, I suppose- you are prone to the odd pangs of guilt every time you let a potential-post pass. There was a time in my early blogging days when I maintained a blue scribbling pad where I jotted down every anecdote I wanted to post but didn’t. As the years went by, sanity was restored and the pad became another speck in the vast pile of garbage that lies beneath my bed. Had I still maintained it, though, I would have found that almost all my ‘nearly entries’ post-July were centred on the same theme- marriage.

There was a time when I felt quite strongly about all matters concerning the holy knot. Strongly against, of course. My four years in R-Land, sadly, have left me more confused than ever. While weddings, matrimonial websites and arranged marriages continue to baffle and repulse me (yes, thank you Sheldon Cooper), quotes such as this one have left me convinced that society is better off married than single.

The wedding bells back home will be kept busy this 2010, with three of my cousins set to reach the magic figure of 26. The wedding halls have been chosen, the outfits purchased and even the gifts decided- all that remains, of course, is the bride. I quite enjoy the run-up to The Great Indian Wedding. Aunts and grannies who seldom check their mailboxes suddenly look up Iyengar girls on and Facebook with a dexterity that would make HHH hang his head in shame. Feminists who spend most of their desolate lives lamenting the rampant voyeurism in our country can be found looking up profile pictures and passing comments that range from the thinly-veiled (“This one has a big nose.”) to the blunt (“She looks like a slut.”) While it’s all good fun watching others having their soulmates picked by an army of chittis, athais and paatis, picturing myself at the receiving end of the ritual does send a chill down the spine.

Old Man K’s betrothal was held earlier this month, cruelly reminding yours truly and the iPot that our own big nights might be less than half a decade away. In the meantime, The Pink Prophet added to the entire clamour with his prediction that I will one day end up getting killed by my better half. Oh wait, I think it was the other way around- I’ll end up killing her.

Either way, 26 seems far more daunting than 21.2.