Monday, September 27, 2004

Airports - Now and Then

Over days of not updating the blog, the words are battling, crowding up against my skin to tumble out. Days and days of stray thoughts - glimpses of things that made me go "hmmmm", neatly filed, to be left till called for, adventures and ideas that came my way packed in with them, all waiting for the floodgates to open.

The problem, though, with this sort of situation, is the plethora of choice. There's so much to write about that from that I don't know which stream to follow. My train of thought is fast approaching a collision with about 15 others. But here're some glimpses anyway.

So I went to the airport to see Someone off - he was leaving for the UK, and since I couldn't go along with him, I went up to the airport (this is called living life to the lees). Here's a thought about airports: they have changed since I was a kid! (This dates me, but life's like that.)

One of the biggest perceived treats of my childhood was each time my aunt and cousins came visiting from the UK. (I suspect this was because they came laden with large quantities of cheese and chocolates, since I couldn't really understand much that my cousins said to me at the time.) And each time they arrived / duly departed 6 weeks later, we would all troop to the airport - where we would enter with them almost up to the check-in counter, then wave tearful (or, in my case, cheese-stuffed-cheerful) goodbyes to them.

Then, as they headed off to check in, we would go up to the viewing gallery: a large, 3-sides-open second floor verandah, from where you could see vistas of runways, corridors snaking their way to parked aircraft, etc. From this wondrous place, you could wave to relatives and friends up to the point when they actually entered the airplane, then watch the plane taxi and take off. At age eight or so, it was all very thrilling.

Now, however, when you go to see people off at the airport, you have to say your goodbyes from the outside. No, wait, that's not true: you can go in - up to a distance of three whole feet. Imagine that! And, consider this - the fineprint: The poor dupes who actually pay 50 bucks to enter the airport along with their dearly departing, enter through a door on the right, while passengers enter through a door on the left. Then, passengers turn left and proceed to check-in, while the see-off-ers can turn right - not left, note, but in the opposite direction to the ones passengers are taking. Or, of course, they have the option of staying bunched up together like sardines, just inside the door, watching their friends/relatives march off to the check-in counters.

What's happened, I think, is that the magic has gone out of flying - out of the idea of flying. We're so uptight about security now (and not without reason either) that no 5-year old can ever again be taken to an airport viewing gallery to watch aircraft take off and land. (Of course, chances are today's 5-year old would rather fly the plane himself, taking off and landing with the aid of a simulation game on his itty-bitty i-mac.) Whereas, when I was a kid, watching airplanes was imbued with an immense sense of wonder and possibility... representative of an expanding horizon, I guess you could say. Even now, I spend half my holidays glued to my windows, watching helicopters and quaint little by-planes take off and land at the airstrip near by.

Speaking of which, I just realised I'm late to go meet a friend - whose flight will have already landed. Sheize. More from the trains of thought in the next post.

Friday, September 10, 2004

Astrology and Shooting Stars

So someone sent me this file, which claimed to define women, based on their zodiac signs. Like, if you're an Aries woman, you're tall, have a button nose with flaring nostrils (probably with a nose ring too), have hygiene issues, and your brain, while present, doesn't quite work the way it should. If you're a Saggi woman, you're dark, suffer from acne on your back, are never quite satisfied with the size of your butt - understandably, since it's way too large - and are prone to addictions of some sort - alcohol, nicotine, or out and out narcotics. If you're a Gemini woman, you probably suffer from a enhanced Electra complex - and speaking of enhancements, they wouldn't do you any harm, if you catch the thrust (heh!) of my gist.

Of course, I promptly sat down and opened The Capricorn Woman. Here's a glimpse:
Slim. (Har.)
Lacking in confidence. (Double har.)
Tactful. (Right. I have about as much tact as a fish is dry.).
Waist down, wraith-like in structure. (Sob!)
Oh, and my hot spots are my toes, knees and naval (!!!) cavity. (That's right, naval. Match that with "slim", if you can!)
And lest I forget: Saturdays are my lucky days. Woo-hooo! Never mind that Saturday is typically a lucky (hic) day for most people...

Also, for the men out there, in case you're interested: Gemini, Virgo, Taurus and Pisces men suit me best. Come to my boozalum, angel! If you're one of these signs, clearly we'll get along - even if you're anti-social, psychotic or just plain... ummm... mentally challenged (one must live up to one's reputation for tact).

I must warn you though: diamond, emerald and blue sapphire are my lucky gemstones. The stones I wear should never have been worn before (I presume this means I should change it on a daily, if not an hourly basis), and its weight should be related to my body weight and age. Now, since I'm getting older by the day, but not any lighter, and since I'm not quite as slim as my zodiac would have you believe, I'm gonna be an expensive proposition!

So anyway, having read through the full thing, after I finally got up and wiped away the tears pouring down my cheeks (mingled laughter at most of the stuff, and depression at not being slim!), I thought, hey, for those of you out there who believe in the zodiac, I'd write one for you.

Watch this space!

Monday, September 06, 2004

Water, Water Everywhere...

Did you know that green tea is actually green? That when you put a tea bag (a green-tea tea-bag - or is that a green-tea-bag?) into a cup of hot water, the resulting cloudy thing spreading murkily through the cup is honest-to-god green?

And, did you know that if you drink a lot of water - specifically when you're really hungry, and trying to quell the hunger pangs by drinking water - then you start feeling really really sick? (Urp.)

And, did you know that the best, most-filling liquid of all is apna home-grown (well, almost) nariyal pani?

If you're wondering how I know all this - three guesses will lead you to the fact that:

I'm on a liquid diet for 4 days. And I have to say, in all fairness, AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH.

That's right. I'm sure when one is young (read: 2 hours old), a liquid diet is all very well, but at age 27... it's a bit of a stretch.

Of course, I should be thankful that I'm on a liquid diet by choice, and not but by force. I remember vividly days of yore, when I would refuse to eat lunch (I hated fish, and lunch typically comprised fish curry and rice). So, off my plate (with fish curry and rice and veggies all together) would go into the fridge...

And out it would come at the next meal, with the congealed food still on it, when the rest of the family would be eating mutton, or sausages and mash, or other totally delectable meals. If I refused to eat it, back the plate would go into the fridge - the only change it having undergone being the re-moulding of the congealed masses by a sullen child with a desultory spoon. Only to re-emerge at the next meal...

And this would go on, till the food were in imminent danger of rotting - or till my mother lost patience. Which is when she would dump the congealed, stirred-to-death-by-tearful-child mass in the mixie (a tool of much of our childhood horror - I hadn't yet learnt how to make mango shake in it, something that totally changed my equation with the blender!), then pour it straight from the liquidiser down our gullets. Luckily, Ma had a short fuse, so we never ended up eating rotted food. Which, I suppose, is a mercy, because god knows, if her children's discipline was at stake, and she thought they might grow up to be spoilt brats, she wouldn't have let a small thing like rotten food get in the way.

So anyway, here I am, back to liquidised food! Yesterday was spinach soup day (I'm popeye the sailor man, dum-dum). Today, it's chicken-and-veggie broth. And everyday, there's lots of coconut water - I expect to soon be growing palm fronds out my years, and coconuts on other parts of my anatomy.

But gotta run. This much liquid input calls for some amount of... ummm... output. And my fronds need sunlight.

Friday, September 03, 2004

A Man's World?

They say it's a man's world.

Sure enough, men have plenty going for them... No ballooning while menstruating - in fact, they don't even menstruate - no worrying about coming home late alone, no matter where they live, no crippling obsession with shoes, no taking hours to get dressed, no crying each time they watch ET. And they can pee standing up too! Seems like life's just not fair, huh?

However, there's one thing that men have been denied - and that's the comfort of having girlfriends. No, no, not girlfriends in terms of significant others - women friends, the true blues who accompany women through every joy and every unspeakable sorrow.

Take my friends, for example. Most of us have known each other from the time we were 10 - some from even earlier. I can barely remember a time when we didn't know each other. Where are we? Scattered across the world. A, T and S in Calcutta. P in Delhi. S in London. P in Bombay. B in Bangalore. Another P in Dubai.

Together, we've weathered a lot of what life has to offer - puberty, flunking classes in school, career choices, boyfriends over the years, weddings and marriages, the death of loved ones and pets. Together, we've fixed (and some of us have even beaten up) sleazeballs on the road who have passed nasty-suggestive remarks at us. We've drunk and we've sung and we've stayed up nights, talking and laughing about the world. We've told each other our worst secrets, and found there was no need - the rest already knew, without a word being said. We've fought and we've scratched, and we've made up with all our hearts. We've had the courage to tell one of us where we think she's making a mistake, trusting that this will not ruin our friendship. We've cried on each other's shoulders, dried our eyes on their handkerchiefs and drunk the coffee they've made us afterwards. We've made fun of each other's foibles, and defended each other like tigresses when others have done the same. We've held each other through illnesses, laughed each other out of the blues, and traversed the country to be with each other when we could.

In fact, we rarely get to meet. Some of us don't even mail regularly. And some anachronisms among us don't even have email addresses, for crying out loud! But when we do meet - it's the old magic. We don't have to do anything special - no need to dress up and go out and have a night out on the town. It's peaceful enough to just drink coffee in someone's kitchen, with her dog resting its head on your knees (no, most of us don't have kids yet, but we do have dogs!). Or to sit in someone's bedroom, snuggling under the covers and watching TV together. And we can still sleep 5 to a bed, like we've done years ago, and share blankets on cold winter nights.

You have to pity men - straight men - for never experiencing friendship like this. They have to make do with discussing the latest football game instead of fears, with handshakes instead of hugs. Catch a guy crying on his buddy's shoulder. Or rubbing his male friend's shoulders after said friend has been through a bad break-up. Or holding said friend while he cries, and wiping his tears away. HAR! The closest guys get to tactile bonding is an occasional playful pat on the butt and a handshake.

And as part of womanhood, who revel in the touch of friendship, I'm truly, truly sorry for you men. You don't know what you're missing, how warm and comfortable it is to have friends like this, to be able to settle back against a friend's chest and rest a moment, without having to explain.

In the balance, of course, you don't have to go through childbirth either. Weighing, weighing... naah, I'll take my friends.

And the shoes.