Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Blue comforts : Memoirs of a couch

The thrill of decorating a new home is like painting an empty canvas. I had numerous visits to the furniture stores in that month. We had to fit in pieces of dining table, beds, wardrobes and sofa-sets to convert our flat to livable space. And I was so excited.
Shopping for furniture means choosing a long term partner for your house. Different shapes and sizes of sofa sets were talking to me through the shop windows. A shining black leather recliner winking at me from a distance and alluring me to take him home. A covered cloth sofa sets in bright summer colors offering a competition to palette. They even adorned flashy and digitally printed cushion covers with ditsy celebrity faces or artistic Buddha pictures to add to the glamour. I was attracted to one of such bright blue fabric sofas. Italian making. While I was engrossed in feeling the fabric of this newly found gem, my husband on the other hand spotted a meek wooden sofa in the corner. In the world of modern architecture and design, authentic teak wooden sofas had lost its demure. And the shop sales team had shoved him in the corner. Where he could miss eyes of many.

On my husband's firm insistence, I gave a side glance to him. He was looking with half open eyes as if afraid of being in the spotlight. But it was too late. We had already started encroaching its private space. Sitting on the davenport, inspecting the jalidaar design on the sides, gorging on the wonderful natural wood polish on fine teak, pushing our heads back to get a feel of the comfort, we had already started exploiting it. After our shares of inhibition and detailed thought process, we finally decided to give that quaint little furniture set a chance. We had fun with the customization process, jute fabric with blue and cream pastel colors among other things.

The excitement of getting our first piece of furniture home is truly amazing. The feeling of new crisp fabric under your fingers, the smell of freshly painted wood. I inspected every inch of the sofa set when it arrived and I was pretty pleased with the end result. A single seater futon of the identical twin was my favorite. For no particular reason. And I placed it in the direct attention of the guests. In the centre of the arrangement. Right in front of the television.

For few days, the sofa humbly enjoyed his new home, standing majestically at the focal point. He had now opened up to his new owners offering highest level of comfort. Well technically, people might argue that this is not possible. But to me, as an emotionally attached entity, he spoke of immeasurable amount of serenity. Relaxation came out instantly upon submission.

However, his days of glory were short lived. With the news of our new settlement, the universe started conspiring to send guests at our home in huge volumes. We had began entertatining people at our house on weekly basis with night out parties in living space. Our poor little sofa had now addtitional responsibilities. At times, it was even bearing weights in range of 100-120 kgs. After each visit, it was bruised and scratched unapologetically. Long sharp fingernails of a female friend or edgy metallic bracelet on Male's hand, the exploiters were naive and the attacks were unintentional. Wet wipes from the house maid or simply poor varnish quality from the manufacturers, the sofa took it all. And soon, what once was the trendiest item in the house slowly became used , done and dusted.

 Now the days of admired acclaim are diminishing as most of our guests portfolio have visited the house atleast once. The sofa has been appreciated for its beauty and comfort enough number of times. It still stands with a pride, although bruised and torn, the comfort and luxury it provides to me is inexplicable. As a secret ritual, I reach out to the sofa on solitary days and nights, curl my legs up and bend my head backwards. And the couch still embraces me like his own taking me to new rides of snugness. Every single time.

Friday, March 4, 2016

A giant pedal stroke - Short Story

Apu was an average Indian teenager. He had grown up in a small town in the heart of India – Madhya Pradesh. He was a perfect example of majority section of boys of his age – shy and clumsy, nervous and excited, hopeful and dreamy.
Apu had just entered college. He attended his classes, tried to stay away from girls (but in vain) and did best efforts to be a sincere boy. Like others, Apu also had wishful view of college life – how the days could be spent loitering around, how to find friends for lifetime while doing all the illegal and exciting adolescent activities, bunking classes for a movie, being mindless about future, studying only enough to remember pointers to elaborate all the technicalities in the exam. How almost perfect life is in college; Apu had imagined same for himself.

Unfortunately, life can never walk on a straight line. There are bound to be twists and turns created due to God’s free style longhand strokes on our canvases. Tragedy struck. Apu’s mother was detected with cancer. The shock immersed the family engulfing and paralysing the entire backbone of father and children alike. Apu experienced a new and terrorizing side of existence; the 3 month hospital visits brought him face to face with the sufferings of cancer patients, of little children with leukaemia; he saw and felt how a dreadful disease can sap out the spirit and liveliness. He was delusional about life and wondered if the disease could have been detected earlier. If only everyone was given a chance to go back and correct those little anomalies and alter life’s track. If something could be done for cancer at all!

But soon the tide leapt over sweeping away the body filled with motherly love, loosening the glue that bonded the people together, breaking the strands of rope called family. Apu was devastated. An emotional cloud of grief trapped at the back of his throat, a blob of tears waiting to flood the eyes; the mind and heart had stopped co-ordinating with each other.

He suddenly grew of age; carrying all this anguish inside his heart made him a little wiser, and gave the lead of looking at life through the dark glasses. Apu had to go through the turmoil during college where he could not come at peace with this outcome of his being. Thankfully, friends did provide him relief from moments of sadness, short-lived though, allowing him to relapse into his own world of struggle.

The family shattered. Everyone sought refuge in things they could hide in – father in work, sisters in search of freedom and Apu trying to find solace with the situation and gathering bits and pieces of him. College summers’ break became dreadful, the house no longer epitome of laughter and merriment, he wandered inside himself staying with extended families.

A ransacked house, another unfortunate day in the life of Apu, added misery to the anger and frustration. The feeling of losing hope of never seeing little memoirs of the happy childhood, of never having to touch the peculiar little things which could allow time travel if only for a few blissful moments broke the kid completely. He was angry at his father, for not holding fast to this little part of his mother; few remnants of his wonderful past. The entire build up of emotions had now welled up and he could no longer contain them. But how could he let it out? How could he confront his father – the strands in the relationship were too taut at this moment to endure a burst of anger.

He woke up early morning before the sun rays could lay eyes on earth and ran out of the house and ran and ran and ran till the lungs gave away, till he could no longer have a sense of people around him, till he felt all alone in the midst of wild shrubs, pointy bushes, rough trodden path and heaps of mud below his feet. He came back only when his father had gone for work and strangely found this arrangement comforting for the soul. So he took to this routine from morning 5 am and continued vesting his anger on the endless road for 4 hours each day.
After what seemed like an eternity of exhaustion, Apu realized he just can’t escape people; and someone whom he was so close to – his father.

Something inside him gave the courage of saying sorry and there began the first step of reconciliation towards life. A sincere apology is a heart melting and ego diminishing process for both the speaker and the recipient and gives strength to bury the hatchet. Father and son reunited and found it was time to let sorrow rest at the back of the heart to make room for some happy and peaceful future.
Graduated from college and placed in a good company along with the hoard of other engineers passing out that year, it was not a disappointing start of new phase. That endless road in his hometown had instilled in him a sense of direction towards which he could invest his time. Running gave way to cycling and inspired by cyclists on the roads of Pune, Apu took up cycling to vent out his negative energy and fill the void of time.

Life goes in the direction you want it to lead you. Apu found much needed reassurance about life in his newly developed passion for cycling and trained hard for numerous competitions climbing up the ladder of national feats. He attempted and completed a series of 200 kms, 300 kms, 400 kms, and 600 kms in the city. He proudly represented the Indian team in Paris Brest Paris in 2015 finishing 1,230 Kms within 90 hours.

As of today, Apu has discovered a purpose in life. While earning a livelihood by being a software engineer like a fair share of youngsters in India, Apu also devotes time to keep his zeal for cycling ignited. Next on his list is one of the toughest races in the USA – RAAM. Having cleared the qualifier – The Deccan Cliff-Hanger race in India, he is heading fiercely towards his next goal.

He conquered the toughest race of his life- leaving behind all the sorrows and grief, the things that pulled him back. An incidence in life can make or break you. And Apu chose to make his life better how so ever distressed and remorseful it was earlier. He learnt how life can transform and channelize your energy with the flow of your inner conscience. He found out a bridge between him and his father when his mother left hands from both the sides.

We all have Apu inside us; each one of us is going through a struggle; whether it is big or small and even though the grass may seem greener on other sides, the closer look would reveal bugs making holes in the green leaves. It’s upon us to take life on a ride or be driven by circumstances and situations. Be like a sieve allowing only finer things in life which aid you to pass through. Filter out the stuff that affects you and enjoy a fresh cup of life every day. Don’t afraid to challenge yourself. Be optimistic. Be dynamic. Be like Apu.


Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Things you experience when you visit your In-Laws

As a daughter in law there are numerous expectations and responsibilities reserved for you at your in laws' place. In my personal case, my husband's family stay in a quaint town of Palampur untouched by the metro life under the foot hills of Himalayas in Himachal Pradesh. And as I had decided to voluntarily take a break from my usual job grind, a grand opportunity of staying with  my in laws for a period of 20 days lay ahead. A first of its kind of experience for me in my marriage of 2 years, I reluctantly grabbed it with hope and anticipation, since I had received mixed reviews from my friends who had vivid stories to tell from their In-Laws' visit, some not so very pleasant. So I also had my share of things to experience when visiting in-laws. Here is a brief of the tits and bits of what I learnt and experienced from this memorable trip -

1. When you stay at someone else's house (well technically it was mine, but I was visiting for holidays), there is a huge contrast in the life style and daily handling of tasks. All the things were cutely misplaced or misaligned as my per my thinking but soon I got crookedly adjusted to the that way of living.

2. The knives ..oh the knives have given me so much trouble! Your kitchen accessories are your dearest...and having to handle a different knife not in your practice or simply a knife with lesser sharpness than your own is an irritable task. I had to admit defeat daily in chopping onions and tomatoes and took refuge in the cutting board! ( I am used to chopping fine onion and tomato slices in my hand only :|)

3. How much ever lazy you are in your home, your feet will spring on the ground and get to work in your "Sasural". I found work on lazy afternoons and took extreme pleasure in cleaning and dusting activities or any deed which assisted the members of the family. My mother would have been so much pleased with me if I had done even an ounce of the work I did there :P

4. You can never know everything! There will be one offish dish or vegetable or a tradition which is only culturally en-rooted at your second home and you will have so much trouble struggling to do things right in the first attempt.

5. All the neighboring aunties and uncles will hoard you up like a celebrity and every time you walk with your mother in law in the local market, you will definitely get introduced to one aunty or another with a specific marking of their house -"Wo peele wale ghar me rehti hain Sharma Aunty!"

6. If you have the misfortune of being from a culturally different state or background, you are bound to be subjected to more sincere assessment in your new home. The other day I was shopping for Poha ingredients (a breakfast snack popular in northern parts of India) from the near by shop along with mother in law and sister in law, the shop owner aunty who of course knew us, funnily commented eyeing my purchase - "Oh! so your daughter in law will now cook you traditional south Indian recipies!".  I am from north-Central India originally and believe myself to be a north Indian, but just learned for the farther northern state of Himachal Pradesh, everything below Delhi is South India ...Arrrgghhh!

7. Alas, you are also made a member of the secret gossip community by the friendly neighbors and are now privy to the exclusive happenings of the town, chit chat masala from here and there. Guilty pleasure!

Are there any of yours too? Do share and let us have a conversation on this.

Note - This blog is written purely for humor and entertainment and does not wish to hurt the sentiments of any body reading . Please do take in the right spirit.