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Wednesday, 3 April 2019

I don't know when I stopped liking my grandfather. It was also the same moment that I stopped loving him, I think.

Or maybe I never loved him.

Growing up, my mother used to tell us stories about he had been a strict disciplinarian. Though I think I always thought that was code for distant. She told us a story about how a colleague of his asked him what class his daughter was in, and he had no idea. That was the first and only time, he came back from office early, and went through my mother's books. I thought this was unthinkable, given how over-involved my own father was.

He wasn't necessarily the greatest father, especially if you ask my sister. But he was my favourite person for a very long time in life - the only person besides my grandmother who would tell us stories (even though they were largely from his head, and not from the large stack of literature that was Dida's source material), the only person I would trust to teach me math, the person who would run after me on Sunday afternoons to get me back home to have a bathe and eat after a day in the sun, goofing about with other children in the colony. I used to be terrified of my dad turning up for PTMs in schools. Other parents would scold their children if they got bad marks, my father would scold the teachers. He told my third standard class teacher that she made us carry too many books to school, never once entertaining the thought that I was the irresponsible child,  merrily carrying everything every day, instead of sticking to the time-table. In seventh standard, he genuinely wondered how I could have gotten a C in Physical Education. Though he and I don't get along as well now as we did when I was a child (mainly because he is losing every filter of his with age, and has a tendency to say the most hurtful things, extremely nonchalantly), I never think of him as a person I would be scared of. And no matter how many arguments I have with him, or how far I want to be from him, to escape his over-attentive fussiness, he is someone I will always count as being on my side.

My grandfather was definitely not that type of father. He was a fun grandfather though. During our Calcutta summer breaks, there were some days that were reserved for him. He would take my sister and I out - mostly to Nicco Park, or Bonobitan, or Nandan, buy us knick-knacks and then bring us back home in time for lunch. We knew that he was terrified of feeding us junks. So if he took us out to eat, it had to be a suitably darkened restaurant with sombre waiters and dignified menus. My sister and he also had a friendly camaraderie, which I was not party to. Everyone loved, indulged (and pinned all their dreams and hopes and ambitions on) the first-born. She used to compare Dada to Amitabh Bachchan, and I secretly agreed, too shy to say it out aloud, too introverted to even have an independent relationship with him. He was after all someone who seemed to terrify both my parents. (It was different with Dida, who was my other favourite person for all of my childhood. She was the type of grandparent who found a way to brag about her grand daughter to sundry relatives, old neighbours, random cell-phone salesmen, once a ticket-seller at a movie theatre).

And then Dida fell ill.

Seeing my grandfather respond to it, through the years, killed any secret childhood admiration, or love, if there was ever any, bit by bit. I always found him resentful. She was everyone's favourite, even his siblings loved her more. She had lost a younger sibling, and then with it, her will to be healthy or even live. And she was a hindrance. The help who had to be around to care for her, annoyed him. Her health impinging on his social calendar irritated him (I think I have inherited this selfishness from him, another reason I think I will be terrible at marriage.). He couldn't understand why she was weak, why she couldn't summon the will to be better. And he seemed to be waiting for her to die. Because then he would finally be free.

It's not even been a year since her passing. He is now unwell - a mild jaundice compared to her Parkinsons'. But he is still selfish as ever, refusing to eat. My mother is still scared of him, so can't stomach the idea of forcing him to do anything. And I feel very little sympathy for him now, only anger. Anger for making my mother see her own father willfully kill himself, in spite of her best efforts. Vindication - hoping he finally understands what he did to Dida. And hopeless - hopeless that age will rampage even on limited (and terribly selfish) dreams of happiness.







Thursday, 28 March 2019

Work notes 2

In the morning a few days back,  the fire alarm went off in office. A few seconds later an announcement clarified that it was a false alarm and asked people not to panic.

No one even looked up from their work.

Who are these people migrating from Nepal to Eritrea or Burkina Faso?  Really,  I want to know.

I just internally sniggered after reading 'Netherlands'.

I think the first sign of truly settling into a job is when you start dreading Monday mornings again.

Are almost 30 year olds allowed to cry out of jealousy?  Like literal shedding of tears.

Sunday, 24 March 2019

Work notes I

The NSSO Consumption Expenditure Survey asks households about the grams of ganja they consumed in the last 30 days.

It's probably not much, given that India ranks 140 among 156 countries on the World Happiness Index. Before you start accusing the publishers of bias ('Happiness means different things to people in India' etc.), know that the index is based on a survey of citizens where they were asked to evaluate their lives and place themselves on a ten-step ladder based on the evaluation.

What could possibly be making Indians so miserable? Lack of work-life balance, the upcoming elections, the dementor-like electronic media, agrarian distress, unemployment, fears of war would be my guesses. Apart from the daily drudgery of human existence of course.

By the way, for those keeping score, Pakistan is at the 67th rank on the Index.

I'm currently obsessing over a colleague who bad mouthed me to the boss.  Well,  obsessing less than I did on Friday when I first learnt about it. But I think there are two learnings from this: 
- I'm much less cooler than I thought. 
- people can dislike you for the most random reasons. Reasons beyond your control.  So as long as your own conscience is clear,  it's best not to give a fuck about what others think. 



Tuesday, 11 December 2018

Checking in

I read some of my recent older posts, and thought I should update my vast readership about what's going on.

  • I quit my job. Currently on my notice period. Which, you would think, would make me happy, given that my primary source of unhappiness was it. But who would have thought - my unhappiness stems from more deep seated insecurities and inadequacies I have within. Really, big surprise.
  • My parents don't know I have quit. As always, they will be the last people to know about any decision I take. They actually think I'm blissful in my current job, so my next life step should be to 'settle down'.
  • A friend of mine just found a job in Jaipur. Which sort of renewed my faith in God. Or coincidences. Two of my favourite people are now in the same state capital, a few train ride hours away from me.
  • I got over my ill-advised crush. The recovery has been so amazing that I absolutely cannot believe that I used words like pining and longing in his reference. I also called him a cunt though, which is, well, accurate.
  • My sister took me to a Buddhism meeting. I felt very very divorced from that group, though apparently all first timers feel that way. I don't know how these first timers get over their disgust of other believers admitting to praying for big cars, however.
  • Last weekend, my family dragged me for a road trip to Keoloadeo National Park in Bharatpur . The rickshaw wala who doubled up as guide was very helpful - pointing to the Palpal Heroine (read Purple Heron) and Pentistlor (read Painted Stork). I wasn't too miffed about the pronunciations though - he admitted he was not an official rickshaw wala early on - just the regular type who ferried passengers in the city, but came to the Park whenever he could get away with it. I was also convinced he had a secret life as an underground boxer, looking at his mis-shapen cauliflower ears. I think that's a question I could have asked if I were on a solo trip - not with family who would look all surprised at my new found precocious ability to make casual conversation with North Indian male adults from a different economic strata.
  • I also secretly drank rum in the hotel room, and then went to dinner, suitably tipsy. I would think my mom would suspect my cheeriness but she probably put it down to the nice weekend I was having.
  • The return journey was terrible though. Was stuck in traffic for half the day with a squabbling couple. Also ended up missing the engagement ceremony of a college friend. She is getting married today. I'm going for it, I think. Though I don't have clothes, logistics, or a gift, planned.
  • I'm currently extremely resentful of everyone who is getting married. Not the ones who are already married - because they got married unreasonably early and I almost feel sorry for them. But the ones getting married now - in their late twenties. Like by all accounts, this seems to be the 'right time'. Most of us know ourselves fairly well now, have some sort of clarity about our careers (however bleak the future may seem), and have the sense to know who we want. Except I still feel 14 - where I absolutely cannot imagine being tied to a person (a man, of all things) whose feelings and ambitions and desires I must keep in mind while making a decision about my life, which consideration may not even be reciprocated. Forget about the love, and the sex and the household chore division and the feminism and other complicating factors. And I am resentful that others seem to have matured faster than me. 
  • And I also hate the dynamics-change. Like I realise, that for most of my married friends, their priorities are going to change. I mean they should change - if they are tying their lives to another person, that other person should come before me. Especially if it's an arranged marriage, in which case all the time that they have before the wedding, should be spent getting to know the person they have to live with, forever (ideally). So the logical part is clear to me. It's just that I am absolutely hating seeing it happen. Where I'm supposed to be mature and logical and not pushy and clingy (and therefore truthful), but I can't help feel very afraid that everyone is growing up, and my parents are right that if I don't get married, I will just end up being a bitter, lonely, single lady with no friends. Because really, I'm halfway there already.

Saturday, 22 September 2018

At the airport

If you are not a man of a certain age (and hence don't feel entitled to being served by uncomfortably dressed young women), it's rather easy to love the idea of Air India. They have flights to everywhere - from Lilabari (which I recently found out was in Assam, and till a few weeks back was the nearest airport to Itanagar) to Pantnagar (which I'm guessing is a dusty little town in Uttar Pradesh).

For some years now, I have thought of doctors as having the best jobs, but now I'm thinking pilots don't have it bad either. The entry barriers are high, and only people with lots of prior privilege get through, but if you can break in, it's a rather cushy job. Especially because you can never ever take your work back home.

The Terminal 3 airport is extremely impractical, though I will never admit this to non Delhiites who unanimously like to compare Terminal 1 to a bus stand (which is ridiculous, especially from people whose most frequently used airport is Chennai). The terminal must have been designed by a Delhi person, who lived in the suburbs and had to cross 50 km everyday to reach anywhere. Also must have been Punjabi, given the wall to wall carpeting and garish patterns and the gigantic brass statues used as decoration.

There are people at airports who will reach unearthly early and then be pissed off when people who come in time for their flights want to cut ahead in queue. And then express this pissiness loudly. I mean do they consider that assholes like them are crowding the check in and security counters unnecessarily? And if they weren't there, the people who are on time or slightly late, would be able to pass through more easily?
And this isn't even coming from a place of anger. I'm actually always early.

A crowded airport where you have no option but to queue up is fertile ground for introspection and self flagellation. But I have now decided to treat myself like I would treat a friend. Which is a rather daunting task if you are your worst enemy. In every way.

Tuesday, 4 September 2018

The pointlessness continues

Though it's not completely edit-proof today. I admit I deleted an entire paragraph I started with, which talked of the hopelessness in my life - the dreary work situation, the frustrating family situation, and the absolutely friendless-ness (in person) situation. And there, I have practically written all of it anyway. But I don't have the heart to delete this again, so I will continue to write like the existence of this paragraph can be ignored. Do you feel like a stupid fucker for having read this paragraph?

Talking of stupid fuckers, guess whose day started with her feeling like one?

Not me. I started my day by making a Whatsapp group with some ex and current female colleagues, who while together in Chennai, were part of a closely knit women's support group. So I whined and gossiped for a little while in the morning, which is really as perfect as a morning can get.

I did feel like a stupid fucker a little later though, when I read the newspaper. Rajiv Kumar, the Deputy Chairman of the NITI Aayog had tried to claim that demonetisation had not caused the slowdown, which is a predictable stand for a bureaucrat. In his view, the large NPAs (which had begun to be identified better under Raghuram Rajan's term as the RBI Governor) of banks may have been the reason. This, as a partial reason, is not incorrect. Yet - and I realise I'm providing context too late - I had spent a good 10 minutes bristling yesterday, when some news portals put out clickbait-y articles with headlines such as 'NITI Aayog bureaucrat blames Rajan for growth slowdown'.

How can a person with as much cynicism about the media as me, be taken in? Maybe because this time the clickbait appealed to my biases?

Monday, 3 September 2018

There is still no point to this post

I have a shorthand for whining. It's where I thrust my wrist out at people, in a silent but over-dramatic plea for them to slit it. Fortunately or unfortunately, no one takes it seriously, so it's still possible for me to procrastinate on stuff I really need to get done, and sit here, writing pointless blog-posts instead. I haven't done this, this thrusting of wrist at people, in a few months though. For some time, I was sequestered with only two senior male colleagues, who would never take this behaviour in the right spirit. (If you are my friend, you probably know that the right spirit involves miming a brutal slitting. If you are my best friend, you know that it involves thrusting your wrist at me in return). After that, I got company of people belonging to the same generation, but who seem to derive some kind of pleasure from life, and work (shorthand for people I can get along reasonably well with, but who I can never fully come to love as my own). Essentially, they are not the right audience for my whining either. Instead, I have to resort to verbalising my disgust in the form of furious Whatsapp messages to people, who, if physically present would have been the perfect audience. But all this verbalising just makes me angrier and angrier, and then sadder and sadder, and then more and more hopeless about the future.

No, I'm not trying to say I miss anybody. Shut up.