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It's Official: I Am Odd

After years of dodging the issue, I am accepting it. What has prompted this revelation, you ask. Yet another blowout with S, after yet another crowded desi gathering and I’m throwing in the towel. Why am I so? Well, for starters, I do not get along with everybody. Who does, you ask. Good q. Nobody but they mask it better. I don't. I always thought I will not be a hypocrite and be false to someone when I think they are crap. By that, I do not mean I am generally rude to people or anything silly like that. I just remain a bit aloof - well I do that till I become comfortable around a person, before I let my guard down. And if it turns out that the person cannot be trusted, then I don't ever let my guard around them. Is that wrong? Well, I thought not but S thinks I intimidate people. How, when I try my best to mask that I am intimidated by most people out there?

To explain my case, let me tell you the story of this Telugu family we know. The child's dad works with S and we've been to their house a couple of times for lunch and they have been to ours once and though I wouldn't say we became bosom pals, I thought I was still quite nice and pleasant to her. S says I intimidate the female half of the sketch by speaking in English all the time. Give me a break here: I am a Tamilian while they are Telugu. They have lived in Madras for couple of years and though the girl's picked up some Tamil, it is way different from mine and I speak Tamil very fast anyways. As I don't speak any Telugu at all, I thought 'let's stick to English'. Well, hey, we live in England and all that. But no - apparently not. By speaking in English to desi folks, I intimidate them.

S also claims that I am socially inept. Why? Coz we do not have a major social life and a big group of mates. This sort of links to the point I made above and he says it is all a part of the social fabric. Being a hypocrite, I ask. Being friendly without trying to be a soul mate, he says. But I do not act nice and friendly to someone to their face and then bitch about them behind their backs now, do I? That's besides the point, apparently.

Some people also go off me mysteriously. Don't know why. Let me give an example - there's this fellow mum at P's school who was also in my dressmaking lesson with me. We used to get along fine then and used to stop now and then at the school gates to exchange pleasantries. Couple of months back, she told me she was thinking of looking for a job and I suggested my place of work. She said she will ring my mobile so I'll have her number to give her more details. She never did. When I asked her the next time I bumped into her, she made some excuse, said she can't go back to work just then and hurried off. We have been a strictly 'hi' and 'bye' duo since then.

I thought I at least belonged in my safe, cyberworld. But no. My social ineptitude followed me there too - when I met up with two of my fellow writers at DC, I thought things went swimmingly. But further emails have been unanswered and plans to meet up at a later date politely ignored. See, I told you it was me.

I always thought I was sort of like Howard Roarke, the rebel who refused to conform to norms and let society dictate terms. I will be a person by my own rights - not a fake smiling and back biting one; just a genuine one, in a WYSIWYG format. But nah, apparently not. I am wierd.

Posted by DesiGirl 7:17 pm 7 comments Links to this post  

Close Encounter of The Horrific Kind

I was flat out on my back in a dark pink, plasticky chair, powerless to move. Bright light shone down my face, making it impossible for me to make out the others in the room. I could vaguely make out two forms and whilst I was trying to slowly slide away from the chair, one of them came near me. I could just make out a white mask that covered its features.

'Would you like to move over here, love?' it queried in a disembodied tone.

I was too scared to act.

'Now, bite down on this and stay put', it continued. Something blue and hard was thrust into my mouth and the next minute, a huge white machine, sort of like the Scream Extractor from Monsters, Inc was placed next to my face. Before I realised what was happening, the two figures ran out of the room and there was this high pitched 'bzzzz', while the lights flickered out and came back again.

This happened one more time and this time, I noticed the radiation light come on. I was being subjected to radiation! ARGH!

While I was still trying to digest that fact, my two tormentors came back and this time, they closed the doors.

'Ok, now close your eyes and pretend you are somewhere far away', crooned the Voice. I was trying to do that anyway when I turned my head a fraction and espied the masked figure advancing towards me with a huge syringe filled with a clear liquid. Oh dear God! First they subjected me to harmful rays and now they are drugging me. Even while my slow brain was computing this, the syringe full of bone numbing medicine was pushed into my delicate skin. I couldn't feel. I was paralysed!

Even whilst my eyes were darting in terror, I was thinking what else they are going to do to me. That query was answered straightaway when I heard another strange noise - a high powered whirring sound, sort of like a power drill. Are they going to burrow holes in me now? Let me get out! Oh no! Too late.

Whilst one of them held on to my hands, the other one drilled away, chipping parts of me. She then poked me with another sharp instrument. Time and again, she brought out another instrument that made a whooshing sound, which made me bones turn into water.

Thus the torture went on for 15 minutes.

The masked voice looked up and suddenly went 'go and clean up'. I slowly got up to my feet. I was feeling a bit woozy from the blood loss and the shock. I freshened up as much as I could in the tiny sink. But before I was done, I was dragged back to my chair and part two of the torture began in earnest.

I closed my eyes and imagined myself far away from the drills and other scary noises. In my mind, I was lying down on a beach, playing with little P in the sand. Even as I was starting on a sand castle, a hand touched my shoulder.

I came to with a start.

'That's it, I'm done. You can go now. We'll see you real soon', said the Voice.

I grabbed my things and ran away from the room as fast as my wobbly legs could carry. The 'see you soon' kept echoing in my head. Not if I can help it, mate.

I am never going to my dentist again.

Posted by DesiGirl 6:03 pm 2 comments Links to this post  

Ash & Abhi Romance: Enough already!

You cannot browse the desi cyberspace these days without tripping over Abhishek B and Ash R related articles. If it isn't one thing, it is ten other gooey things. If I thought I had seen all sorts of rubbish related to these two, then I had another think coming double quick.

Two things caught my eye that made me realise that this nonsense has just started and the closer we get to their actual wedding day, more number of inanities will crop up. So, it is time we all developed a healthy dose of immunity to this 'Abhiwarya' phenomenon lest we get whacked senseless by it. And to get our grey cells to start their work of insulating our brains against further doses of this rubbish, here's two tidbits guaranteed to kick start the production of immunity granting matter.

I didn't actually travel far to get the two news items that grabbed my throat. Just a short walk upto did it. First one proved to me that something has happened to the happy Oirish lot across the pond. Why? They have just gone and issued an invitation to Ash & Abhi to make the lovely island their choice of destination for their honeymoon. They could travel to Ireland for free, thanks to the lovely Irish taxpayers and stay at Ashford Castle, where the likes of George V, Ronald Reagan, Fred Astaire have stayed. Impressive!

Oh, I lie - the Irish proved to be au fait with desi sanskriti and sent the invitation to the Big B, as it should be done.

Next up is that Gurinder Chaddha (of Bend It Like Beckham fame) is pregnant with twins, who are expected to put in an appearance in July. Now that isn't the news - she is planning to name her babies after Ash & Abhi, if she ends up having a boy and a girl.

Good grief! Does this mean that from now on, we can expect mums-to-be to go a little loco and name their kids after these two as well? Whatever next?

My biggest question is: why? Why are we getting so hysterical, so caught up in this romance? Who gives a shit if Ash is going to become the Bachchan bahu? Don't we all have other important things to do?

The next one that decides to name her twins after this way too famous couple will get beaned on the head with Maneka Gandhi's Book of Hindu Names.

Posted by DesiGirl 8:23 pm 0 comments Links to this post  

As written in the stars....

How much do you believe in things like horoscopes, astrology, zodiacs..? Though I have never paid much attention to the first two, I admit to glancing at the prediction of the week and seeing what's in store for Cancer. Though I'd never agree to being a firm believer, I really find I have so many characteristics of a typical Cancerean.

Whilst I do not walk sideways like a crab, I am rather afraid of getting hurt and tend to protect my easily wounded heart (hard to believe, I know!) with prickly layers of sarcasm. My dad used to tell me when I was in my early teens that if I don't watch out, I might come across as 'don't care Bobby' of St Clare's (it is an Enid Blyton thing!) whilst the reality is far from it. But I have never changed in that regard - I never show my liking for something, purely because I am worried that it could somehow be used against me.

I also love the moon and the water - a night time stroll along the beach is my idea of an ideal time. (somebody take note!)

With all these, you'd thing I'd embrace fellow Cancereans as twin souls and bond with them like a piece of 4x4 and UniBond. Truth is, Cancereans tend to be my 'most unable to get alongwith' sort of people. Funny, innit?

Posted by DesiGirl 12:43 pm 0 comments Links to this post  

Anatomy of a friendship

"You can't make old friends, you can only lose them and in losing them you walk around with a void inside that you can never adequately explain", says Beth Kephart in Into the Tangle of Friendship.

I recently read this in the Readers' Digest's 'Quotable Quotes' section and it made me think of my old friendships and those that still continue to this day. I am still friends with my oldest friend, who I met when we were in class II of primary school. And of course, I have lost touch with scores of people, even cut off ties with some forcibly as things warranted.

One of them in particular, doesn't exist anymore due to a difference of opinion between me and my then close friend (whom I shall call B). It has been three years now, since B and I had our spectacular, inter-continental, cyber fallout and though we do send each other one line missives regarding the most earth-shattering occurrences in the other's lives, the friendship that once existed has well and truly died a memorable death.

When I was a little girl, I used to think that, much like our movie heroines, once I hit my teens, I would also have this big group of chattering friends, who would do pretty insane things together. Slumber party, midnight feasts (thanks to Enid Blyton), movies, trips to exotic locations, the odd song and dance number, you name it, we'll do it. We will be the Notorious G.I.R.L.S and we will set the world on fire.

As always, reality was much different and rather than queening over one huge group of friends, I had two distinct groups of mates, which rather became a lifelong pattern. At school, our class was split into two different groups, according to our second language preferences. So we had the all Tamil groups and the all Hindi groups and I was the only one who ended up straddling these two groups - I was the only Tamil girl in a gang of four other Hindi girls. So I generally found myself occupying that unenvious no-man's land - not really fitting in 110% with the hindi lot and being an outsider with my tamil lot as I wasn't conoodling with them all the time.

Things didn't change much when I went to college though my all-hindi gang remained my closest mates. Though our gang had split up by now, with each of us going in different ways, three of us, moi, B and other one whom I shall call A, still kept in reasonable touch and hung out whenever possible. These two were there for my milestones - broken heart, graduation, wedding, P's first birthday (well one was - the other one was miles away in America) and life went on. These two were the ones I blabbed my heart to and though I met only A during my periodic visits home, I was quite thrilled when my trip coincided with B's first trip home from US.

As this would be the first time B will be meeting two and half year old P, I was real excited. But days and weeks of planning never bore fruit and before long, it was time for B to return. To say I was disappointed that she didn't meet P was like saying I am a quiet soul. I continued to feel the ire long after and A used to rag me about it. Months afterwards, when the three of us were in our different continents, I still couldn't believe that one of my closest friends couldn't even spare the time to see my child. The hurt went much deeper than most realised or understood. Even A used to rib me by saying 'you are the only one who can have a proper, full-on fight on the Internet'. But what I felt wasn't trivial or something I could just pooh-pooh away. It felt like a rejection; it felt like we did not matter to B anymore. She's got her new family and friends and the child of an old mate doesn't rank very high in the importance scales.

Looking back, I think the cracks started soon after I moved to the UK and B got engaged. I only found out by chance that she had got engaged in the first place, well after the event. When I saw the photos, I felt real upset as beaming at me from the pix was another one of our friends from school days who's still B's close friend. Never one to let sleeping dogs lie, I asked B how come she couldn't find time to even tell me about her engagement when obviously, she had enough time to get everything else organised and could take the other girl with her. Though we made up after I had finishing ranting and raving, I still felt inordinately upset. As I sat nursing my feelings after the fallout, I couldn't help but think of B making a trek to another city to visit this same friend whilst she couldn't spare a few hours to visit me when we were in the same city, after four long years!

Am I sad over the dead friendship? Hell yeah! As A once told me, it was a friendship that had lasted for several years. Do I want a revival of the friendship, even if B's for it? I am not sure. A childhood quote comes to mind:

Friendship is like a mirror:
Once broken, even if it is put back together
Cracks will always remain.

Posted by DesiGirl 7:15 am 8 comments Links to this post  

Global warming

Ok, never known to mince any words, this blogger lets it rip with his view re global warming etc. As it is a topic real close to my heart, I wanna make a post out of it.
So, check it out!

Posted by DesiGirl 6:26 pm 0 comments Links to this post  

Of standards and other assorted rants

I’ve lost all respect for the Desipundit website now. Ever since its Chief, Vulturo made remarks like ‘not Madrasi chicks – ewww’, I have made up my mind not to patronise the site he’s incharge of anymore. I do know that there are loads of others on the panel of the website but if this is the way the chief speaks, what about all the Indians then? Being a Madrasi chick myself, I feel like I should make a stand. Not that one person staying away is going to put any serious dent to the popularity of their massive fan base but what the heck, I do not trust them or anything they say anymore. He prattled something about how he isn’t a racist as Madrasis or not a race per se and that is so inane, I do not want to elaborate on it.

It was at that moment of time that I was so proud to be a Desicritic – maybe we are not half so well known as the Pundits but hey, there’s no way Aaman Lamba would ever be caught dead uttering such words. Not too sure Dee would have let him breathe, even if he had! So I am real glad with my lot.

While I am at it, I might as well go all out and admit that I find their nominations for couple of categories for the Indibloggers award real suss. I mean, who’s on the panel? At least three of the jury are directly or indirectly connected to the site. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

(Okay, okay when I have gone off something, I make no bones about it, I admit!)

Posted by DesiGirl 6:13 pm 21 comments Links to this post  

Abuse & Harassment in Today's World

I read this old post in one of my favourite blogs and it brought back to my mind some incidents from my own past. Events that had completely unnerved me and left an indelible mark on me. Nothing really drastic that nonetheless have scarred me for life.

Some of the earliest instances date back to the time when I used to travel by bus and the 'studs' used to pass leery comments. Crude, obnoxious remarks that were not at all for the ears of a twelve-year old. And then there were the gropers who would pinch your bums and anything else they could get their grubby mitts on. Shouting for help never really worked as no one generally took a blind bit of notice. Plus there was the very real fear that they get caught because of you, they might come with the rest of their goondas and exact revenge on you on the morrow. Then there were those dhoti-clad ones who let their bits hang free and got their kicks by rubbing them against your behind. A hardening organ rubbing against you in a public transport is a very scary thing indeed.

I still can feel the panic rising in me as I remember this dark stranger who once followed me home from my computer class. He wouldn't stop staring at me in the bus and got off at my stop. Never once flinched, kept steady pace with me and short of taking off like the wind, there was nothing I could do to shake him off. Even when I was afraid of leading him to my home, I couldn't gather the courage to take a fake route and mislead him somehow. Ultimately, I dived into my friend's block and hid on the stairs for a long, long time till it grew dark and I had to go home.

Then there were the countless times I was taunted and jeered at the LIC bus stop by the roadside romeos from Nandanam Arts College who haunt our college bus stops. The 'men' who used to get such pleasure from scaring young girls brainless that one even ran into oncoming traffic to escape their clutches.

When I look back, I cannot help but think my parents were rather naive - or blind. In a world full of perverts, they innocently trusted their daughter to travel everywhere by herself and come back home unscathed. Though it was I who insisted on travelling solo by train to Mumbai, I shudder now when I think of what harm I could have befallen me. Or the time when I went to Trivandrum for a friend's wedding, without even letting her know I was coming as I wanted to surprise her.

My experiences, though thankfully not too serious, still made me rather jittery among men. They made me act out in rather funny ways one of the most memorable ones being this sudden hankering I developed for a big brother. Maybe it was the protectiveness I craved but I tried to fill the void by the only method I knew how by tying rakhi for couple of older guy friends.

At one point, I was rather suspicious of every male I came across even ones linked to me by family. I used to go out of my way to make sure I was never left by myself with any of them. I could also never make eye contact when talking with them and if one of them became genuinely friendly, it only made me suspicious. I even cut off all relations with S's close friend because me playfully pinched my cheek once. I guess those events have disturbed me a lot more than I gave them credit for.

The year 2007 in Brentwood dawned with news reports of two girls raped at midnight in different parts of the town. Since then, I have read numerous reports of girls being molested, both here and back in India. I am sure the men who did it are under the mistaken impression that it was a sign of their manhood, that they have brought a woman to her knees. How will we make them understand that it isn't so - taking a woman by force and leaving a dirty footprint on her life is not macho, it is not something to be proud of. It is rather a shameful act; one so vile that no punishment is sufficient and no act possible to eradicate that event from the affected woman's life. What will it take for a man to understand that it is the ultimate act of cowardice to scare and scar a woman so?

One of the biggest misconception among most men is that having a dick maketh a man. Well, it ain't and the sooner the pervs of this world realise this, the better. A biological part does not make somebody a man. Scaring young girls and violating a person is most definitely not the mark of manhood and anyone who thinks otherwise is seriously deluded.

Now that I am a mum, I am even more worried about the sort of world I have brought my son into and how safe I can keep him. I so empathise with the blogger’s and her husband’s fears when strangers express a desire to take pictures of her little boy the world is not innocent anymore and it is a sad day for us when we have to view every single thing with suspicious eyes. But when the alternate is just way too horrible to contemplate, parents can be excused for wanting to wrap their children in cotton wool.

These fears are so real and prevalent in UK that we are banned from taking pictures of children in places like schools, in parties and other assorted gatherings. Most places have big notices saying ‘No cameras’ and you need special permission to take pictures even if you are having a party for your child in a public place. I couldn't understand this before I became a mum; now I am happy whatever measures are there in place to prevent perverts from getting a picture of my son.

I have filled little P’s head with dire tales of strangers and what they can do that he has equated a stranger to the most vile kind of monster a five year old can imagine. Then again, those that harm us and our precious children do not disguise themselves as strangers anymore, do they? Read the case of two-year old Casey Mullen, who was raped and strangled, in her own bed, by her own uncle. I am absolutely bereft of words.

I am sure my blogger pal and I aren't alone in this fear of ours scores of parents must feel the same way and some of the blogs I have read on this subject just prove my belief. A whole generation of children are going to be molly coddled and cosseted by their parents who are fearful of the harms that could come to their child that the children are in very real fear of being too afraid to do anything carefree and fun. Never mind the fearful strangers robbing them of their childhood, we overprotective parents might just end up doing it by stifling them.

The question on my mind now is, where do we go from here? With morality on a steady decline, what is the path humanity is meant to take in order to save itself? How are we to keep our children and ourselves, safe?

Posted by DesiGirl 7:54 am 3 comments Links to this post  

Hallelujah! The sky is falling!!

It's snowing! Brentwood is filled with the white stuff - even now, thick flakes are falling off the sky. Check out the pictures and videos.

Posted by DesiGirl 8:08 am 0 comments Links to this post  

Swim, DG, Swim!

After years of dithering, I finally took the plunge, literally, and signed up for swimming lessons. I had been wanting to learn for a long, long time. In fact, my school had this really fabulous pool and the water would look so blue and inviting. But after standing awkwardly in my pink swimming costume and feeling gloriously out of my element, I found other interesting things to do during my swimming periods.

But it has always been something I wanted to master, especially because it is a major dream of mine to go white water rafting. Since moving to England six years back, I have been quite keen to start lessons but when the push came to shove, something kept me back. I kept telling myself that once I rid myself of my podgy middle, I shall jump in the pool before anyone could blink.

Well, making my tummy disappear was easier said than done and I gave up trying to imagine myself in a costume but just decided to bite the bullet and do it. Signing up was the easy part. Getting out of the changing room to pool side on day 1 was the hardest journey I had ever done in my entire life, bar none. After shivering away for a few minutes whilst I waited for the ladies from the previous slot to make their exit, I finally waded into the warm teaching pool, all the while aware that the water level barely reached mid thigh. So scrabbling about like a crab was the best way to hide myself in the water.

First objective: to float, which in my case became try not to sink. Whilst I couldn't do any strokes or anything during my school swimming lessons, I could at least float competently. Fourteen years and twenty kilos later, I sank like the proverbial stone in a teacup of water. After swallowing about half the volume of the pool, I came up for air and thankfully my head hit the bobbling floatation device. Grabbing hold of it for dear life, I tried turning the various tricks my teacher suggested I did.

It was day 4 yesterday and whilst I still haven't learnt how to float from end to end without the aid of the brightly coloured pieces of foam, I am loving every minute of it. I will never be a threat to Ian Thorpe but for the first time in my life, I don't care. I have finally rid myself of a personal demon - of constantly comparing myself with the others in the class and coming up short. Last night, I really enjoyed my time in the pool and though I did swallow couple of mugfuls, I felt quite happy.

At the end of the day, that's what counts, right?

Posted by DesiGirl 7:42 am 2 comments Links to this post