Thursday, July 22, 2004

Enter Nature

I've always throught of myself as a fairly outdoorsy person. I like walking, hiking, etc., I love natural surroundings (as opposed to the urban jungle) despite living in Bombay. And I always make it a point to leave my windows open, to commune, as it were, with nature.

But when nature comes through my windows to commune with me, I have a problem. Like last night. Early this morning, actually, about 4:00 a.m. Nature, in the form of a cockroach nymph (I've never figured out why ancient Greek maidens and disgusting, muck-crawling cockroaches that refuse to die are called by the same name) flew into my room and, having explored the rest of my bed, decided to explore my head. Which is when I woke up.

Normally, like most other people, I take some time to wake up. Bits of me wake up and, waiting for the other bits of me to wake up, go back to sleep again - so by the time I get all the bits to be conscious simultaneously, it's normally several minutes past the alarm. But place a cockroach on my head, and I wake up in nano seconds - pico seconds even (I forget which is smaller, but it doesn't matter, as long as you get the gist). In a flash, I'm bolt upright, totally conscious of imminent danger and totally grossed out.

Last night was no exception. It must have taken seconds for me to wake up, sweep the darn thing off my head, cross the room, switch on the light, get the bugspray (the first thing I bought when I moved house) from the kitchen, dust the sheets, find the cockroach and spray it dead, shrieking, "Die, you freak." (I know, after the last paragraph, you're probably thinking, "freak? here's a case of the pot and the kettle." All I can tell you is, you have no idea.)

The worst part of these situations, of course, is the cool-down. The time it takes to get your pulse and heart-rate and breathing down to normal again, the time it takes to go to sleep again, the strength it takes to avoid turning the entire room upside down to search for the brethren of the thing you just killed, or draw a circle of Hit around me, and sit cowering inside.

Then, you tell yourself that it's ridiculous for a woman, the pinnacle of evolution (and I say that advisedly), to cower in front of a cockroach, a remnant from the mesozoic. You're 500 times bigger than the cockroach, you tell yourself. Grow up, you tell yourself. And you feel really proud, getting yourself under control and being OK with OH GOD THERE'S ONE ON MY DESK EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEKKKKKKKKKKKK.

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Fitness Mania

So I joined this gym called Cloud 9. Now, I'm a little confused about the nomenclature. I mean, is going to a gym and working your ass off (in my case, hopefully, literally) supposed to put you on Cloud 9? Or is climbing up to the gym supposed to be like ascending into heaven? Or, perhaps, they feel that the people they attract - flabby, bulging, etc. - resemble clouds (eww, this reminds me of the Michelin Man, something that really grosses me out!).

Anyway, I joined up, and my first visit was on Saturday morning. I was really charged about it... this would be my first time at a gym (as is evident when you see me). Now, I'd noticed a sign there earlier, saying that outside shoes were STRICTLY not allowed - so I didn't take my sneakers - obviously. Turns out it means that you're supposed to carry your sneakers with you, not wear them through the mucky streets to the gym.

Anyway, these minor catastrophes aside, I was assigned this trainer - a guy with a single ear-ring, called Vicky. Very helpful, and all that, but somewhat unclear on the concept, perhaps. For starters, every time he wanted me to lie down on the mat, or the bench, or wherever, he would say, "Now you sleep." By the end of the session, I was thinking, "if only...." Anyway, at some point, I got accustomed to the "Now you sleeps" sufficiently, to enable me to actually do what he was telling me to do. We went through free movements, weights, and all kinds of machines that make you pull up weights - first with your forearms, then with your upper arms, then with your calves, then with your thighs... I leave you to imagine the rest. I'm almost worried about what comes next. Will I end up lifting weights by my pinkies?

But working out on some of those machines has the potential to be totally humiliating. for instance, there's one on which you have to lie down on your stomach, at an incline - face down and butt reaching for the sky (or Cloud 9, as the case may be). Imagine getting stuck on one of those, unable to move or get off... you could start a riot on one of those things!

The first day's workout took me about an hour. And I left really proud of myself - proud of the fact that I'd managed to do everything I'd been assigned without collapsing with hamstring injuries and torn ligaments, a quivering mass of... ummm... cloud. It really hit me only the next morning, when I tried to get out of bed - a process that took me 3 straight days!

So, advice to all those of you who are planning on joining gyms in the near future... take a sabbatical, because you're sure as hell not going to be able to make it to work the next morning.

And then, screw the gym, just go take a holiday somewhere.

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

I like to be here when I can...

So I moved to my new place on Saturday. Spent all morning packing stuff to move, and then the rest of the weekend unpacking it and putting it all away. The real impact of all the hours of packing is felt in these situations, when one moves from one side of the railway track to the other - if you move cities, at least you feel like you've moved far away, and the time spent packing gets lost in the larger picture. Not so here.

But the larger picture, in this case, is that I finally have a place of my own. Yahooo! I feel like emitting red Indian war whoops and leaping over the furniture in the office in some kind of demented obstacle race. And, it must be said, any yearnings I have for leaping over furniture must be taken care of in office, cos at home, there's no furniture. (My minimalist leanings finally see the light of day.)

But back to the house. First, something I hadn't realised before, it's windows overlook a small airstrip - for a flying club. Gliders and choppers taking off and landing all day. I'm faintly disappointed that the airstrip is not a Coast Guard thingie (I was rejoicing in old, forgotten Famous-Five driven fantasies of catching smugglers red-handed, with the coast guard arriving just in time to pat me on the back), but the charming thing about growing older is that one sees more possibilities in other things also. The flying club that operates out of the airstrip offers intriguing possibilities too... At worst, I can always go and hang around there, offering to carry water for the pilots and do odd jobs around the place until, some day, I'm forced to take a plane up on my own for some earth-shatteringly important reason (national security will be at stake, naturally). On this occasion, I'll fly the aircraft brilliantly, save the planet from total destruction, and then crash land (and totally wreck) the aircraft, and be banned from the airstrip forever. (*Sigh* Not even my fantasies go right.)

I also suspect that I'm directly under the glide path for aircraft leaving from and heading towards Santa Cruz airport - the only traffic I hear are flights taking off and landing. (Oh, I LOVE how that sounds - so totally elitist. "So where do you live? Oh, you can hear ROAD traffic? How down-market. Now, where I live, darling, there's only air traffic."

But, generally, all I can hear is bird song. There's a huge tree outside my window, full of clusters of white flowers, and humming with birds and insects. It's wonderful, wonderful, to wake up to the sound of bird song, instead of traffic.

For that alone, this move has been worth it. So here's to my new house, where you can't swing a dead cat in the loo (not that I've ever wanted to - and if you're the kind of person who wants to do that, you have no business visiting my blog), but which is still a happy, happy place.

Oh, and house-warming gifts are more than welcome!

Monday, July 05, 2004

Last Waltz

An awful song I used to listen to when I was a kid was by Engelbert Humperdinck . Something about having the last waltz with you, two lonely people together, and so on. Awful music, awful words, totally dismal and melancholy, and not in a good way. Though, I imagine, if you got saddled with a name like that, you'd sing songs like that too.

The connection between Engelbert and this post is that the old gang recently had our last dance in a while. After Gokul's on Friday night, we hit a disc called Polyester - a rocking place. Retro music (70s and 80s, rock), crowded like local trains but otherwise altogether perfect. The best thing about a crowd is the support it gives you. You don't have to exert any energy to stay upright!

So anyway, driven by the music (I mean, where does one hear music ranging from the BeeGees to the Bangles to the Eurythmics to Aha to Tears for Fears to... you get my drift.), we danced non-stop from 12 midnight to 4:30 a.m. Insane, sweaty dancing in crowded, smoke-filled rooms where you're constantly running the risk of having someone inadvertantly stub out their cigarette on your arm and where you can't hear anything your companions say - what could be a bigger turn-on?!!

Finally weaved our way out, fully intending to go home and play scrabble. Unfortunately, as most of us fell asleep during the journey back to the burbs, that plan didn't quite work out. (This is when you find old age creeping up on you... a few years ago, we'd have been up for scrabble and more alcohol and more activity, even after such a night!)

Getting together and doing this after a significant period, it's good to see that we can still do it. That the music still sets us on fire, that we can still boogie anybody under the table, that we can still drink through the entire night without throwing up all over someone else's shoes!

So for those of you who are in Mumbai, and want to dance the night out to retro rock, and can't find people who want to do the same - gimme a buzz, and I'll be there with my hair in a braid, a la P. G. Wodehouse. All that's required is that you enjoy dancing. And if you're an idiot, it won't matter - I won't be able to hear what you say.

Friday, July 02, 2004

It's Late in the Evening...

Another heady Friday night. It's almost 9:00 and I'm still in office. But, but, but, not for long.

Tonight's the night we relive our AIESEC days. Of course, we've all come a long way since the time we lived on cheap beer and no food. We can now afford to drink much more, to drink better stuff and to dance all night at a disco instead of to dancing to MTV in our own house. Best of all, we can now travel by cab instead of lying on Marine Drive, waiting for the first train in the morning to go back home.

So here's the scene. Before Malli leaves the city sometime next week, tonight, we will go to all our old haunts. Tonight, nobody is allowed to say, "But I'm working tomorrow."

First stop: Gokul's. The first time I went to Gokul's, I treated it as one of the hotspots of Bombay and wrote about it to everyone... till my brother wrote back saying it was a noted gay pick up joint... at which point, I quietly retracted all statements about going there regularly. Strategically placed next to Bade Miyan's, the freakiest roll shop outside of Calcutta, Gokul's is a place we could afford in d.a. (Days of AIESEC), and where we didn't much care about the seedy old men thronging the place.

In the Days of AIESEC, we used to occasionally (read: whenever we had money) go get smashed at Gokul's. Then we would roll out and across the road to Bade Miyan's, where we would sit on the curb(there were hardly ever any chairs available) and eat baida roti and sheekh kabab rolls. Immediately, our drunkenness would abate somewhat, at which point we could head back into Gokuls. (This would have been a wonderful infinite loop, return to step one types, had it not been for the fact that even Gokul had to close its doors for some hours. And, of course, the fact that we'd have already used up our meagre resources!)

By which time we would have missed the last train back, so we would spend the night on Marine Drive and make it back by the first train in the morning. (And for those uninitiated into the mysteries of those Mumbai transportational wonders - even that first train at 4:00 a.m. is crowded.)

So tonight's gonna be another of those nights... Thank god for small mercies... that even with progress (read: moolah), we can still go back to Gokul's, and enjoy the seedy atmosphere, the boiled eggs and tiny pieces of cheese cubes skewered on toothpicks that are Gokul's choice of "snakes". That we realise that enjoyment is in the soul, not in the surroundings, and that if Bade Miyan was a 5 star restaurant, it wouldn't be any more attractive than it is now... And, most of all, that we'll be able to take a cab back, and not have to spend the night on Marine Drive. Fun as some things are, they're SO much better in one's memory than when they're relived.