Friday, March 31, 2006

Hairy Tales

I get my hair cut once a year. When the strands of grey decide to strengthen their tribe, and the few black strands get insecure and leave in a huff. Then, I know it's time for a haircut. Never before - those fancy salons are expensive. Rs.250 for a wash-n-cut. And of course, it's a fashion suicide to go to the para'r "Lakshmi Beauty Parlour - We cut hare, padicure, threding, waxing and ladies beauty faecial for marriage purpose".
I also cut my hair when i'm disgruntled. With something or other. Let's skirt the issue of possible insanity and call it a delightful quirk.
My last haircut was before Pujo 2005, so the scheduled next one should have been around Pujo '06. But then, D told me he was leaving the country for 4-5 years, and I thought it would be nice to know absolutely zilch during the Queer Studies mid-sem and the gynaecologist told me my ovaries are being targeted by aliens - so, all in all, it was time for a haircut.
I shan't deny it - I like going to these fancy salon/parlour places. Not only because they make my hair smell good, my head feels light, like a weight's been lifted off it, but most importantly because of the ambient noise. The conversation. High society hoopla. I'll tell you a secret - I actually take care to dress well for my haircut. I want to fit in. And observe.
It's like watching a play. Droves of middle-aged "society ladies" gagging over each other's Ritu Kumar's, discussing the 14 different themes for the 14 different parties that will precede and succeed their son/daughter's wedding. Fascinating.

BJ[The hair-stylist and owner of this new, upmarket hair salon. Famous mama of make-overs]: Oh, darling, so nice to see you! You haven't come in, in 3 weeks!
Lady in mid-40s[I'll be honest - she was elegantly dressed, and looked sensible]: Oh, BJ! I've been so busy planning my trip to LA next month, I haven't had time for come in for my Dead-Sea pedicure!
BJ: Oh! LA! I was there last month, only! Check out the shopping mall on Upper Eighth Street!

etc. etc.

When you've grown up getting "boy's cuts" from the neighbourhood Kim Ling, where your cook also, incidentally gets her eyebrows done before the monthly sunday family outing to Diamond Harbour , a place where the haircutter and the haircuttee both vacation abroad, is fascinating.
Until of course, the bill says Rs. 565. For a shampoo and a haircut. Hair cut in layers because, "Darling! [pronounced: dulling] Only layers for a fat face! Layers and layers and moooore layers!" Told you - theatrical.
Now I have to wait 2 years for my next parlour party - I've grossly over-budgeted this one. Which means 2 years of ignoring frantic pleas from hair follicles to give them a nice massage and trim - this time they'll file for divorce, I just know. And 2 years of not getting depressed or disjointed or feeling any extreme emotion. Awful.

In other news, was accused of harassment by a Gariahat hawker. All because he'd asked Rs. 95 for a pair of pants and I'd said Rs.40 and stuck to the deal, and then when he agreed and put the pants in a polythene bag, and stretched his palm for some good dough - I spotted a better shade of pants in the adjacent stall and moved on. Thrice. As in - repeat whole exercise three times. Ki korbo- ALal wants an exact shade of ashen night attire for the play. Beckett's instructions.
Now Squee and Fish and SELL[Sad-Eyed Lady of the Lowlands. Friend-of-Fish.] refuse to be seen with me after the Gariahat debacle.
Thrice a day, every day, J takes a long look at me and says,"You're dead." And it's not a threat, she means that I don't look like a live person anymore. By which you are to draw the conclusion that I look like a dead person. So much for trying to go with the "nude" look and not wearing any kajol. hmph.
D now lives in Minneapolis in a house with a swimming pool overlooking a lake. I feel the most brilliant things for him. :-] Which explains the sudden energy to post and get back to normal life - I've heard from him, he's alive and only has minor diarrhoea. Life, as it were - is oh-awrite-ish.

Friday, March 24, 2006


Bloody snot.
D avalanched. [Not really, God forbid. But somewhere in Iceland. or Minnesota. Incommunicado, either way.]
2 weeks of class notes to get hold of and copy.
Fucking stomach-curdling Metformin Hydrochloride.

Do I need more reasons not to blog?

Let me humour you another day.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

International Women's Day - Ssssmokin'!

Just got back from a totally glitterati-infested, high profile social do - the Swarovski- Satya Paul Fashion Show at the Hyatt. I'm like, sooooo in da crowd. or wodeva. Of course, unsociable that I am, had to be dragged kicking and screaming from my comfortable bed to the car by mom. Don't regret it, though. Free booze, chicken teriyaki and lamb satay, and the most unutterably delectable chocolates in the whole world - soul food for the carrot-dipping who's who. Truffle to tiramisu to strawberries and cherries the size of eggs.
Bumped into an old school friend, Brandy. The satay wasn't half bad, but couldn't eat much, because B wouldn't eat anything. So politely stayed away from much food [i.e., post the mandatory 2 helpings] and drank vodka and orange juice. Of course, she doesn't drink either - I don't know what these women live on, I tell ya. Yennyway, I've got to really stop drinking - doesn't agree with my medicines, as the gynaec had indeed warned me it wouldn't. Three drinks do not a headache make. Not with me, at least, really. But now I have a terrible one. I'm not going to drink anymore, honest.
Oh, of course, the clothes were nice. Very nice, in fact, some of them. I liked the white ones - or peachy cream, or whatchamacallit. No, I don't know what they were called - other than sarees and salwar-kurtas with crystals and lace. Oh, they're called ensemble, I think. [That doesn't sound right, there must be more to it]. All the top models were there - Shyla Lopez has lost gazillions of weight, Noyonika was looking tres jolie, Model Tina [which I believe, is her full name, after an affidavit] canNOT catwalk to save her ribcage. She stoops, and does a complicated futuristic dance-type thing, something between Quasimodo trying to be a geisha[?!] and an aged camel in stilletoes, only flashier - very difficult to explain on a headache. Maybe that's what caused it, come to think of it. Tapur/Tupur - at least one of em was there.
Let's see, what else. The famous persons of Kolkata were all present- theatre personality, TV anchor, Govt. hotshot, that socialite from the club who looks like a christmas tree all year round was in full bloom [to her credit, the woman has a gorgeous bod - I mean she must be 97, but what a body and what skin!].
They played one or two songs that I liked - Besame Mucho was one, the other one was a french song that I haven't heard before.
On the way back, an inebriated mother [lady can't hold her drink, what to say - she gulps, she refuses to sip] exhibited some motor madness, singing "sesame kucho" every time she overtook a lorry from the wrong side and narrowly missed death. She insists the song is "sesame kucho", I haven't bothered to correct her - there's an unmistakable joie de vivre in the way she sings it awl wrong in a drunken stupor. Try telling my mother drunk driving is against the law and have your head bitten off, won't you?


No kidding, I really have. My unborn kids had better be bloody grateful, I tell you.

p.s.: Fellow JU bloggers, please please support me during this trying time. if you find me with a cigarette please feel free to take it from me and stub it out. I may fight, I may scratch and bite, but please do this for me. I wanna give this a serious shot, this time. I give u license to slap.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

How It Is

It didn't take very long - that passage from innocence to the frightening experience of having her womanhood whispered into her ears in lewd abuses her 7 year-old mind failed to grasp, staining her body, flowing through her blood like a poison that she hasn't discarded, never will - that nothing could discard, not education, not age, not sympathy. There was only a disconsolate silence - a cold fear that speaking out would be terrible somehow. An inability to comprehend what was being done to her. An impossible numbness.

This is not my story.

Walking with her mother, down crowded New Market on what was meant to be a happy shopping spree, she confronted the first knowledge of what her body meant to other men - what it was to mean to her. She was not a person. Just a vagina, to be fingered behind her mother's back by a man in a tattered lungi, offering to carry the shopping for them on his jhuri. "Ten rupees only, Ma ji." And your 7-year old daughter to fondle for free. She pressed against her mother, turned her back to him. Then she was only a butt, for a crotch to be grazed against. For what was an eternity - a tangle of hands touching her, abusing her every being, using a language she did not understand. And her mother was shopping, oblivious. There was only respite in going inside a shop, away from that horrible man who was doing things to her and looking at her in ways that she had never been shocked into experiencing before.
She told her mother only when the man had gone away. She was scared he might kidnap them if she told him to back off. She was seven. Her mother kept quiet. Lesson One learnt - she was a vagina. and a butt. And the rest of her, was a disconsolate silence.

This is not my story.

The girl grew up. Her mother told her not to look strange men on the street in the eye. Told her to walk away without a word when there wasn't a crowd. To slap and scream and draw attention when there was one. Lesson Two learnt - this had just begun. And so she walked past rowdy boys singing to her and calling her "sexy". Sometimes she would glare, but then she stopped. The glares meant invitation - she did not want to be followed by them because she had cast them an angry glance. "Koto size?". "Shubi naki?" And again, that language she was now beginning to comprehend. She kept quiet. She did not want to provoke them. The help was talking about a girl who spoke out against a group of drunk men driving past her in a car, hurling profanities. They found her naked body the next morning, lying on the kerb- the hospital said "brought dead". She was the same age as this girl. So there was silence.
Silence. That time on the Metro when she was being a pair of breasts. Silence. That time on the bus when the nice man asked her to sit in the "men's seat" because the ladies' reserved seats were all taken. Or because he wanted to gaze at her body - undress her with his eyes. Show her what it was like to be a woman.
The man in the auto who smiled at her while elbowing her breasts. That man who said women were all born to 'create scenes' and 'falsely accuse gentlemen', the one time she had mustered up the courage to speak out. Those men who looked at her like she was a whore for speaking out against what was supposed to be done to her - she was a woman, and she was wearing pants and make-up. She got off - it hurt her pride to have such bastards see her tears. Lesson Three- there was safety in that unbearable silence. A silence that went against all her education - an education that, she'd been told, would give her a voice, would give her the power to be independent. But no, she was a vagina, a butt and a pair of breasts in the midst of penises and eyes that wanted to have a piece of her. Oh, but she was a whore.

This is not my story.

She couldn't do much that late evening at the Lake Road bus stop, when that orange-haired man biked past her countless times, only to finally stop and ask her if she wanted to "come". There was no traffic policeman. Nobody else waiting at the bus stop. The street was momentarily empty, except for some taxis on the opposite side of the road. No cars either, they were all stuck at the lights in Deshopriyo Park. She knew if she walked away he would follow her. She knew if she told him to go away he probably would persist. She also knew there wasn't much point in screaming - he was on a bike, and this was the main road. Cars were soon to come by - he couldn't forcibly take her or rape her on a bike. She was safe, then. She told him as calmly as she could,"No". That was all she could say, because at the back of her mind was the thought of the empty street. At the back of her mind, all the time, from the moment she steps out of the house - is the anxiety that, every single day, she can be raped. She reads the statistics in the papers. 1 woman raped every 10 minutes in the world. Or was it 10 seconds. So, everyday, on every empty street, there is that overbearing fear of rape. Assigning categories to the violation - it wasn't just bad enough, it could be worse.
Like that time when, she was walking through her own neighbourhood - the one place she thought would be safe. It was past 10:30 at night - unforgivable for a woman to be out so late at night, and so to make her pay for her sin, two boys followed her, discussing exactly how they would strip her, exactly how they would fuck her. How many times. She knew that language now. That time she ran. She was lucky, home was close by. But they had marked her out. They know where she lives. And even months later, every time she comes back home, she thanks God for having spared her from those men.

A confounding sense of guilt for being who she is crops up every now and then. This indignity, this continuing humiliation, was it really her fault, then? Education and exposure teaches her to push aside this guilt. She is a phenomenal woman - she should be proud for who she is. And men, of course they're not all like this. That is the only hope.

But still, she keeps quiet, because that gaze, those filthy hands, that ugly lump below the belt, and the language only too familiar by now, together have an immense power to torment.

This is not just my story. It is the story of every woman I have known. Many have dealt with theirs in far better ways than I have. Some have emerged empowered because they acted, they spoke out, they made a point. I salute them. And I heave a helpless sigh for that young girl who was raped and left to die on the kerb. I admire the woman who can slap the eve-teaser on the road. But it doesn't stop me from thinking twice before I decide whether I should wear a sleeveless kurta in an "unsafe zone". It doesn't prevent me from squirming when I am looked at in unflattering ways. It doesn't stop me from assuming that every other man on the street might harass me and so I should stay alert at all times. It doesn't stop me from feeling a little nervous when a man sits next to me at the movie theatre. Being alert at all times. Suspicious at all times. This is not how it should be, because it compromises those men I know who would never harass a woman. The few good men?
This is not how it should be because we were not born to be plagued by an unspeakable fear that haunts us the moment we step out of our homes.

This is my story, but I wish it wasn't. Like so many of us, doomed to a tedious state of perpetual watchfulness.

p.s.: - Thank you, Dee, for moving me enough to have me write this.
Please support these people.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

8 Simple Rules

So then, I've been tagged by Laura and Utey. The rules of the tag being:
1. The tagged victim has to come up with 8 different points of their perfect lover.
2. You have to mention the sex of the target.
3. Tag 8 victims to join this game and leave a comment on their comments saying they've been tagged.
4. If tagged the 2nd time, there's no need to post again.

The IDEAL MAN then, eh? Well, if we are going to be unrealistic, sure, here goes:

1. MUST be absolutely honest, faithful, dependable, trustworthy- Shouldn't suffer nervous breakdowns when under pressure [er .. me, i.e. and no, stop thinking dirty]. Should be a good friend to his friends. Should offer to help those in trouble .. you get the picture.

2. Must be a perfect gentleman- Shouldn't slam doors on my insubstantial nose, should say 'please' and 'thank you', at least in the midst of company. Must cook and clean - because I probably won't. :-D [Not all the time, at least]. Helps if he isn't very loud. I find it difficult to speak with people who are loud. I like hearing my voice above everybody else's.

3. MUST be clean - No wiping snot at the back of palm (or on my clothes), no farting in public (at least not till you're 79 and just can't help it), no spitting on the road, no peeing on the road, must wash hands after using the bathroom. And MUST bathe and brush everyday. You're not excused just because Queen Elizabeth got away with it 450 years ago.

4. Mustn't be very pretty - All the pretty men I've come across have been vain in varying degrees, and that's a put-off. The only reason D would check the rear-view mirror when he was driving was to see if his hair was in place, to ensure he still looked good. And, I mean, he'd check at every traffic stop, goddammit! He would flex his muscles to turn me on. :- T spent hours and hours shopping. He changed the colour of his hair twice in two weeks! It is .. uhm, not my thing. [Abhishek Bachchan, should he wish to apply, is exempt from this rule].

5. MUST call me a goddess at least once every day, and really believe it- Must think I'm awe-strikingly beautiful, immeasurably witty and undoubtedly thin. MUST have faith in this delusion. Must think hairy legs are sexy and waxing is a sin. :-[

6. Should love children and dogs. Should be prepared to have neither. Must be open to living together and not marrying. Should be prepared to get married maybe, at age 64. In a Swiss chateau atop a snow-capped mountain. Should be fit enough to sustain the shock of finally having been netted. Should be fit enough to not need life support at high altitudes.

7. It would be nice if we had at least a few common hobbies and 'passions'. Food and solitude are passions that he might want to share. Should love travel, which is gong to be my hobby as soon as I can afford it.

8. May have the postal address "Buckingham Palace" and answer to the name of William Windsor, sprung from the womb of the beauteous Diana.

Glug. I tag the following hapless souls: dd, panu, bab'ly, dee, acroyali, ron, jaded and sweety.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Queerly Failing

“As for thee,” Mercier says to the sky in grief, “fuck thee".
”Is it our little omniomni you are trying to abuse?" said Camier. "You should know better. It’s he on the contrary fucks thee.
Omniomni, the all-unfuckable."

- Samuel Beckett. Mercier and Camier, 1946.