Chew on it.

Chances are all we have.

Tag: hope

Inevitability.

The dressing up doesn’t take a lot of time, as much as you expect it to. Before you know it, the dress is on, you’re looking nice, but a little less nicer than your best friend, or the first girl you see at the entrance of the pub. It’s a fancy place, and like all fancy places, this too smells of a generic perfume and has lights dim enough to miss the sweat spots on your dress and bright enough to see that another girl’s bosom is curvier.

Would he prefer to be with her? – you think.

You shake the thought off as you spot your girlfriends over at the table. You smile, not only because you’re happy to see them (after, usually, not too long) but because you realise that you have dressed properly for the occasion. A relief, and now you can seat yourself graciously by the table, avoiding a seat that offers direct communication or eye-contact from the girl who really doesn’t like the same songs you do. A class difference settled between the two of you and even while it’s erasable, you want it to remain.

A general round of admiration for your dress, the cut, the earrings (which someone has definitely spotted at the same store a week, no- maybe 3 weeks ago), the weight lost and at least one other thing passes the group. Soon you’re eating, talking, reminiscing, and as the group slips back into memories that aren’t more than a year old, your eyes wander to the bar, where a man sits with a frown, rolled-up sleeves, and a furtive glance at everything about him.

You surprise yourself when you think of him as a man. The word has more sexual connotation to it than you intended it to have. He could be your age, A little older, judging by the grey in his hair. You stop looking at him, but your body has automatically aligned itself to face him, and you’re embarrassed.

The validation of your thoughts against the boy (a word oozing fondness, ease, love, dishevelled hair, home smells, the shampoo you chose for him) waiting at home makes you uneasy in your seat. You claim your love for him; protect yourself from even mentally wandering and turn to join in a conversation, now having steered to something that you can contribute to (much to your relief.) But your eyes play truant, and you keep checking at him. You strain your neck a little when a group arrives at the bar, louder than him in sound and sight- of course he’s the quiet one, you always magnetically crawl towards those.

Soon, you are irritated by the conspiracy of the world to keep you away from this man who has only perched on a bar-stool so far.  This is your moment of glory. You know you look decent, and of course he’ll have an eye for the curvier ones. So you get off the place, making as much movement as possible, to visit the washroom. You make sure it is in his direction. And if it isn’t, you must ask, of all the waiters and managers waiting to help you with the directions to the desired destination, the bartender.

Leaning forward a bit, as visible to the man as can be. You act as if you can’t hear the reply, lean in closer and when you do, thank the bartender more graciously, in lesser words and with softer expressions than a new actress thanks the audience at the Academy Awards. The bartender, who has seen a hundred and more women act the way you did, smiles and gets back to business. You pass close to his stool, whispering an ‘Excuse me’ to no one obstructing your path in particular, and head to the washroom, determined to not turn back.

In the bathroom, you widen your eyes, wipe the little sheen of sweat from your face with the napkin in your purse (no human with a vagina and a brain leaves her purse back at the table even for the shortest trips) and readjust your dress, showing just a hint of cleavage, and a prominent part of your collarbone. You plan your next move as you set your hair back (not really) and expose an entire side of your neck. Who could resist such a creamy neck, you wonder. The answer is ‘everyone’, and a tinge of guilt breaks open in your gut. You wave it off, because this? It’s not serious- you know, and have read about it in reliable, well-researched and much-vouched-for scientific sources like Readers’ Digest, Thought Catalog and Cecelia Ahern books that reassurance is all a woman needs- the confidence that a man can still want her. You put your scruples off to sleep with the thought of the boy and head back outside.

He’s still there, and you smile to yourself.

Putting your clever ruse into action, you walk halfway to the table, swaying your ample bottom (ever so emphatically that people wonder is you’re beginning to slip sideways within your footwear) and then turn back, to the bar. Leaning over the counter again, a little closer this time, you ask the bartender his name. In that din, he answers you and without a smile goes about his business. You call him by his name, accentuating it (unnecessarily) and ask him to send over a round of vodka to the GIRLS AT THAT TABLE. The sudden rise in decibels makes the man on the stool look up at you and you mouth a worried ‘Sorry’ with your eyebrows knitted at him (with the sincerity of a mother with an infant crying around the sick-bed of an old, old man). He smiles at you briefly, looks at your chest, to the counter and back at his drink.

With the effort and the money for the vodka now down the drain because of the lack of interest in the conversation, you walk back naturally to the table. Disgruntled. Your closest friend follows you back with her eyes and when you sit down, leans over and asks you, in whispers to buy the man on the bar-stool a drink. You tell her about the round of vodkas that you’ve paid for and she pats your thigh with sympathy. You glide into the conversation and participate, accepting defeat. When the vodka comes you raise your glass as a friend makes a toast to how well the group as stuck over 18 months and how some friendships last forever and graciously accept the thanks for the shots. At the back of your head, you say- Thank that guy sitting there and oestrogen.

Soon the party is over and the ladies at the table disperse after long-drawn farewells. Outside, you stand with your friend, hailing a cab, when she lightly nudges you and indicates to the man on the stool waiting for a cab too, as aloofly as he sat inside. You marvel at how aloofly is even a word and smile broadly to yourself, hoping he’ll catch your eye in that moment. An adolescent theory of always bumping into an attractive man a second time after the first comes back to mind and you grin harder. Your friend is about to usher you in the cab she successfully stopped on its tracks when he turns and your eyes meet. You shoot what can only be described as a ghost of a smile at him and get into the cab, partially annoyed at your friend for her inexplicable rush to get home at only 11.45 PM. You smile through the journey home, and by the end of it, you have forgotten his face, his shirt and everything physical about him. The residue of the evening is high spirits and a general smile.

The boy opens the door and goes back to TV. You suddenly like his arse a little more and want to reach out to it. He’s plonked himself on the couch by then, and is listening with rapt attention to how leopards kill their prey. When he asks you how the evening was, with his eyes on the TV, you tell him it was ‘nice’. The food, the company, the place, the stories- all while you slip into a t-shirt and shorts and wash the light make-up from your face. You join him on the sofa, and within 10 minutes all your weight is on him. You pucker your un-coloured lips for a brief kiss that turns into a long one. His arm wraps itself around you and with your head on his stomach- rounder than what it was before- well, before any of this, you drift to sleep.

When he wakes you up to move to the bedroom, you are glad to be home.

Ordinary Lives- 7.

The sofa stood out in his room.

The colour was his choice, and the single seaters that came with it were facing the TV that he had brought in. The off-white was a point of debate because she was scared it may show stains. But he had  insisted.

“Stains are caused by kids, and I don’t see any in the next couple of years.”

He had spilled chocolate sauce that very day on it.

The bookshelf had neat separations. Her fictions were lined along the middle shelves and his reference books along the top. That hadn’t been a debate at all. He could reach the top shelves. The lights were perfectly agreed upon too. As sultry as the amber looked, they’d need the white for reading. They still kept the amber lamps fixed.

The rosewood cupboards he’d picked, the simplistic chairs. The space for another bookshelf.

Signs of him all over the floor. Where he’d stand, where he’d wait.

Where he’d watch her.

It had been a month since he’d laid his eyes on the house. Or her.

It had been a month since he’d picked a book, standing right behind her while she picked hers. Only while she picked hers.

A month since she’d heard the house smile.

She sat on the seat beside the dull brown stain of chocolate. Waiting for the minutes to pass. She could hear herself breathe, and in that sound she waited for the door to open. She closed her eyes, when it dawned upon her that she may miss something.

She waited to be wanted again. To be put in a place that she wasn’t flustered to the point of muteness. Ennui had passed and grown into a coma of her thoughts. She waited for the world to fall into place again.

For closure.

Her dead thoughts scratched her mind. She now heard her heart beating in her ears. Like the pause after a long, long run.

A moment later, as if on cue, as if the universe felt a wave of sympathy on her, and only to drive the listlessness that sunk her away-

He knocked. His eyes on the door-knob, his body completely still. His hand hanging in anticipation to knock again. Twice.

She held back a second, disbelieving her ears. But he was home.

She was alive to it.

Ordinary Lives- 6.

She couldn’t stop giggling.

His exasperation grew. Her dimple deepened with every rush of ideas in her head.

He rolled his eyes.

She took a deep breath and paused to look at him. The smile wouldn’t go off her face.

His familiar frown, the brown of his eyes turning into caffeine. The Silver has just started growing, and years later she’d be tucked in a bed, his cheek in her hand, his nose against her neck, and she’d talk about this night. Not this moment- not this pause between his question and her answer.

His pout began to grow and his hands went into his pocket.

“This is uncomfortable.”

She looked at him harder.

“In what way?”

“I’ve asked you something. You start giggling. I need an answer.”

She bit her lower lip to stop bursting into another spurt of giggles.

“What will I do when you’re gone?”

“What you do at home even today.”

“Dad gives me pocket money.”

“I earn enough to give you that and run the house.”

“And if I forget the keys?”

“We’ll keep one at the neighbour’s.”

What was with her? He was opening the door he’d never known had existed within him, and all she was doing was staring through him.

“Maid?”

“Already there.”

“Cook?”

“I know how to. You should learn too.”

“I don’t want to.”

“But I’ll be away.”

She’s saying a yes.

“Okay Ma said I had to learn any way.”

They looked around for the next question.

“Washing machine?”

It’s a yes.

“Yes.”

She started giggling again. This time, it was deliberate and slow. Like she was trying to say something.

“Don’t go away for too long.”

“I never want to.”

The curve of his lip choked her and she started coughing. He grabbed a glass of water and made her swallow it, rubbing her back, unable to believe his luck. His last straw had stayed rooted while he grabbed at it.

Her chin on his shoulder was the only reminder of anything else in the world existed apart from the light that flooded his eyes, and lit up his face.

He threw away the pills that night. She broke the news to her family.

Barfi.

I watched Barfi and I liked it. This is NOT a review- I’m not qualified enough, this is an opinion.

I went basically because I’m a Ranbir fan. All drooleth over the guy, you know- who isn’t? Irrespective of whether or not the movie has done well, Ranbir has always done a good job. 5 years, 11 movies- all of which may or may not have done well commercially (Saawariya, Rocket Singh, Rockstar etc.) but you need to see that he’s done well for himself. As Murphy and as an actor. A lot like Abhishek Bachchan (fangirl + logic = He’s done a great job in all movies, even in trashy ones like Dhoom 2 and Dhai Akshar Prem Ke) So I did go to watch him (Ranbir).

He’s expressive, he’s just done yet another great job. Murphy’s a vision of Anurag Basu brought to life by Ranbir. One shot I really loved was the pull-finger-fart one. Notice the high-five after that? There was no shor-sharaaba in it. He just casually puts out his hand and his father puts out his. Unlike other Bollywood exchanges, this doesn’t linger even a moment more. Like in real life. I will try imitating that lubricated move for a long time, but I doubt it will ever be as subconsciously done as Ranbir did it. That and every other shot has been so perfect that I will only fall deeper for this guy and hope to elope with him.

Ileana on her part was decent. I don’t know the logic behind casting her, new face or otherwise- but what I liked about her were the conflicted scenes. The one in which her mother questions her about Barfi, post-horse ride-night. Or the one where she has the ticket in hand. You know she’ll get on to the train, but she waits that one more moment after your heart sinks to make her move. And finally- when she has the choice of not turning around when Jhilmil calls. Ileana is decent, with sparks of good.

Another role I like in the movie was Rupa Ganguly. Subtle. To the point. Like a real mother- irrespective of era and state. She figured her daughter and put the dilemma as simply as she could. And that one moment where her college/youth love interest looks from his lumbering? The recognition? Skill.

But what stunned me most- and I must say the story belongs to her, at least for me- is Priyanka. Impeccable. Precise. Thanks to the cinematographer, even beautiful in her teary-eyed, upset moments. I’ll compare her acting as Jhilmil to Amitabh’s as Auro. Not for a second did I see a fleeting super-stardom peep from the guise of the character. Yes, some critics have called her an autistic child, but I don’t blame them. Autism does make you relate the person to a child- with their awkward control of emotions. I do not like Priyanka, my intolerance of her in most cases is almost embarrassing. I still don’t think she’s a great actress.

The point however, is that Ranbir outdoes himself in every movie. This was another instance. I’ve gone through the feeling 10 times before. But Priyanka is a wreck in most movies. She has performed in this one (If ‘Fashion’ is your argument, overruled). So if for 41 previous miserably failed attempts she’s given me this, I’ll say she’s done a brilliant job-not that she’s a good actress. Hence, credit to the direction and the script.

The saddest thing about the movie, and about the audience that it has been presented to, is that the audience would rather have their dose of happy masala. It’s about time we stopped taking mindless entertainment as a compliment to the filmmaker. That statement only means that the filmmaker has been able to put together some elements that make the normal person laugh and cry and forget about; which, honestly- my parents are very capable of in a single day. Barfi has been presented to an audience wanting temporary respite from their frowns- not to those aspiring to never get their frowns back. I blame neither the filmmakers nor the audience- commerce drives the world. An ‘Ek Tha Tiger’ is necessary for everyone to up their collars. and deepen their pockets.

I don’t know if the movie or the music has been duplicated from elsewhere, and frankly- that is not my concern. I just think that the product I watched, laughed with and gasped out aloud with, as if I was part of the movie and on cue, was sweet. I don’t think it changed my life. I don’t think I will be more sensitive to less-abled people. I just think that as a product it is complete. I liked the music, I sang along with it- and I was concerned where I had to be.

It made me respect one girl in the industry that I had no time or love for, and it strengthened my argument for Ranbir Kapoor and why I think he’s the best we have in mainstream, commercial cinema (the female counterpart being Kareena Kapoor, irrespective of how Heroine turns out to be.)

That’s all.

The chat window

The curse of the age is the ability to see how long it has been since you replied.

And the most embarrassing part?

That relief- that utter, complete, overwhelming relief when you do.

I know you’ll be too consumed by the day to probably type in something.

But there’s a tickle inside me that says, this moment, you want to.

It’s overconfidence, like every time before, that brought me down.

And again, that exactly, placed in you this time, that makes me feel that all of that,

What I told you about?

All of that wounding, bruising, bleeding?

Scarring?

That all of that was worth this.

I know it’s too soon.

I know it’s too optimistic.

I know it’s bordering on stupidity.

But just knowing that you are on the other side of the window,

Wanting, waiting,

Willing to say something to me?

It fills me up like orange juice.

I know. I know it’s different. I know it’s impulsive.

And I know we could be blown to smithereens if one moment went wrong.

But we’re still here. And I love the hope in your words.

This? This is as I wonder, one more time today, at how we even started here.

This is to remind myself, some years from now, that this is where I was.

And hopefully-

Just hopefully.

– Share it with you again.

Those many years from now,

That silly smile we have on our faces.

Good night, and I’ll let you have the last dance.

Mahua

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