Monday, November 22, 2010


Dusk was approaching rapidly. It was just after the Maghrib azaan. The sky was lit up in pale blues and mauves. I walked across the parking lot alone. Cold and solitary, like my thoughts. Twilight descended down on the treetops in long, spooky shadows. Purple patches ominously stretched along the rocky asphalt. I weaved my way through the throng, thinking about him. Always thinking about him. I didn't even know what classes he had then.

Tall, willowy, he was standing right in my line of sight. My heart lurched guiltily.

JM was standing in front of him. 'Hey! Long time! How are you?' she chirped happily.

Grateful for the distraction, I plastered a smile on my face and exchanged pleasantries. He was busy talking to two other people. Half of me wanted him to look over and wave. Come over and talk to me. The other half squirmed awkwardly and wished it could vapourize instantly, there and then.

I stepped away. He hollered my name. Two syllables that made me cringe. The half that hadn't wanted him to notice me contemplated whether to stay there or move away. But by that time, he had already initiated a conversation.

'Hey! How have you been? How come you're here? Long time!'

Major understatement, I thought ruefully. I didn't even remember if there had even been a last time. I'd almost forgotten his face- well, almost.

'I have this class right now,' I replied, trying to sound natural. I felt extremely awkward. I gulped a few dozen times, and blinked rapidly in my nervousness.

He addressed the other two who were lounging about, talking about courses. Teachers.The needle in my brain that had stuck and made it freeze started whirring all of a sudden. I remembered that I had to be somewhere and excused myself.

I felt agitated when I got home. Forced myself to get distracted. Weakness got the better of me. I picked up my cell phone and punched in digits that seemed to have been etched into my memory. Stared at the little screen, willing it to change from 'Dialling' to 'Connected.'

Seconds ticked by like eons of eternity.

And then, with one last surge of indignation and contempt, I furiously jabbed at the little red button on the screen and flung the cell phone away.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Welcome Party

Ever since my sister joined IBA (note: encourage your siblings to have divergent academic interests from an early age to avoid public embarrassment later), all party evenings are marked by my sister barging into our room and whining 'I don't have ANY clothes! BOOHOO!'

Technically, that can never be true, since one always has the clothes on one's back. Just saying.

This was no unusual evening, and as usual, I continued reading the notes I was perusing and said absent mindedly 'You can wear the top you bought from XYZ (read really expensive) place, and those pair of jeans.'

That settled the havoc. For the next five minutes. The rest of her time was spent shrieking over not finding matching jewellery/ shoes/ or anything else that could possibly match her attire. Thankfully, my cat is a shade of brown. If my sis could overcome her hatred of her, she would've paraded her about like Reese Witherspoon in Legally Blonde with her pet poodle. More on that later.

The last cry of agony was heard at 9 sharp. The light had just gone out, and she regretted not having straightened her hair for the hundredth time.

We piled up into a friend's car and sped off. The moment we landed, I spied a number of aunties dressed to the hilt in shararas and ghararas. Unfortunately for me, the aunties looked old enough to be MBA students, and I panicked.

Sis grabbed my arm. 'The dress code was formal, right?'

I gritted my teeth. 'Yeah, that's what I heard.'

She thought that I was blind. I am, but only sometimes. 'Some people here are wearing fancy shalwar kameezes!' she wailed, stamping her feet.

'Maybe we should go home and change,' I mused out loud.

Trust her to take me literally. 'How are we going to get home? Our ride just left!' she wailed.

After much debate, dodging of valet-driven cars and ogling of aunties in hideous green clothes, we decided that one of our friends (who had dressed formally) should go ahead and check out the scene ahead of us.

Formal Friend haughtily sauntered up ahead and out of sight.

She didn't come back for ten minutes.

We, the irate trio, decided to go ahead ourselves, only to realize that FF had been peering through the doorway like some James Bond heroine -NOT.

'People are dressed both formally and casually!' she piped up cheefully.

I rolled my eyes and sallied forth.

Groups of people were huddled together across the wide expanse of the floor. The music was deafening and no one I knew was in sight. Thanks to this stupid jammer, I had to wend my way through the throng of chattering seniors and excited freshies to get to the other end where I could catch a signal.

Replying to my text, a friend replied that they were 'on their way'. When someone usually writes that, I interpret that as:

a) the person has left his/her house

b) is driving/ is on the road

c) is hastily giving their keys to the valet outside and is in the process of scurrying inside before they have to incur more of my wrath.

However, what this has ended up being a euphemism for is that:

a) the person yawned, checked his watch and decided that it was the right time to arrive fashionably late

b) stood honking outside a house while another friend spent eternity slathering on makeup

c) picked up a gazillion people 'on the way'.

It turned out that I was right, and all three situations had actually taken place. Hmph.

Not wanting to look like a loser with nothing to do, I went over to where a couple of my other friends were busy chomping on a burger. Yes, that's all you get if you enroll in a fancy shmancy business school- a burger that took ages to finish, a handful of flaccid fries and Pepsi.

Underage Senior and the Chai Chor were having an argument.

'The food is awful!' US wailed, as usual. 'I don't like it.'

CC chewed his burger thoughtfully and gave his verdict. 'Um, the burger's actually not that bad, my patty is ok, and the whole thing is warm.'

'My burger is awful!' repeated US, even more loudly for emphasis.

Picture this: if everyone is shouting to be heard above the din of raucous music, does it really mean that they are shouting if they can’t hear each other?

Guess what? YES, because we all had to repeat ourselves a gazillion times.

I looked back and forth from US to the CC and held up a hand. 'Ok, I'll go and get mine to decide for myself.'

CC was so wrong. US was wrong-er. The burger wasn't awful, it was BLEGH.

Things perked up a bit when I decided to go ice skating with some other friends. I must say it’s great fun to see people teetering on roller blades and falling down with a wallop- making asses of themselves by literally falling on their asses. I half wanted to push some people I particularly detested, but people were watching. And, er, it would have been mean. So I didn't.

When life gives you lemons, you make lemonade, said someone I seriously wish would die already. Ok, maybe he already has. Some people decided that if life means having music blasting from every nook and cranny possible, then you make a dance floor. Sure enough, two skinny guys (yes I looked, and did not think they were hot) were trying to vow the ladies by a series of quirky dance steps that honestly looked like they were having a seizure each. Or were performing bad imitations of Step Up movies' moves. Not surprisingly, the only audience around them comprised of wimpy looking guys who looked on in jaw-dropping admiration.

When I came back, I discovered that the accursed friends were busy staring at scantily clad girls. Since now there was nothing else to do, we put on our bored, cool, 'been there done that' looks and took our seats above the mini-golf area. The friends (why am I even calling them friends, I should've disowned them by now) proceeded to stalk two guys and pronounced them to be gay. All they were doing were shaking hands, and smiling at each other, which is so NOT gay. The rest of us weren’t amused. Like duh.

Did I mention the stupid jammer? Well, it turned out to be even stupid-er in the end. I spent ages rounding up people when it was time to go home. The ride home was a treat, with a noisy Hobbit sitting next to me and Sis who wouldn't stop saying the most insane things.

*beep beep*

I just censored those insane things.

The car pulled away, and I was left standing in the rain with an Energizer Bunny-ized sister. It was indeed the anticlimactic finish to the evening, since I was the one who had to tolerate her babble all the way home. Up to our room. Until she fell asleep exhausted.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Birthday Boohoo

Surprises of surprises. This week, I am in an especially cowed down mood, and my hatred for nerds has once again taken a backseat. However, something came up, and while I usually don't blog if I don't have to talk about samosas, nerds, and uber-nerds, I felt it imperative to write about this.

The only other most talked about word, apart from 'recession' and 'Megan Fox' lately has been the word 'extremist. Let's not call them that-  like one would call the physically handicapped 'disabled', for want of a better word- rather, they shall be addressed as the over-zealously religious ones. An image that pops up in my mind is of shuttlecock burqa clad women skirting about nervously and bearded men wielding Klashnikovs. But many of them breed among us. They sprout up as if from cracks in the pavement and become part of the milling crowd. They attend elite institutes and compete with the not-so-religious ones. They believe that there is no point in studying since it is the Hereafter that matters. And yes, some of them, in their disdain for all things Western/Indian, heretical and irreligious, denounce the celebration of birthdays.

A friend of mine had her birthday today. Since it was Facebook, and everyone out there usually strives to come up with the wittiest status updates and garner the maximum number of 'likes', this one came as a surprise. It said that she was sad because the birthday meant that her life had become a year shorter.

I think the post was pessimistic, to say the least. Nothing extremist, so far. What followed was an unprecedented flurry of messages- the religious ones immediately sought to capitalize on this opportunity and swooped down like eagles on fresh carcasses. The initial ones were a bit solemn, reflecting upon the impermanence of life. Nothing Keats or Shelley wouldn't have said.

But then there were others, that were obviously riled up by the ones pacifying the aggrieved birthday girl and wishing her a happy birthday. They promptly unleashed words of vengeance on the infidels (us, I believe) and copy pasted a number of Quranic verse translations in the comment box. This certainly impresses me in two ways- their ability to get worked up by something as innocent as a status update, and their ability to copy paste stuff from Google in a matter of minutes.

Please note that the birthday girl applauded one of those who had posted an extremist comment.

A friend of mine, who had been emphasizing on being positive, politely backed out of the convo. But I picked up where she'd left. My little brother passed by my computer screen and admired how there were already a number of likes on my short comments, while the dude with the quotations had none. 'Kisi nae itna lamba parha bhi nahin ho ga (No one must've bothered to read such a lengthy post),' he told me decidedly.

Before you guys start rolling your eyes and prepare yourself for an anti-religious sermon, let me clarify- I don't remember quotations from the Quran, so I'm not going to type out any verses indicating the incurrence of Allah's wrath on those who celebrated birthdays. And I don't remember any evidence of the Holy Prophet admonishing anyone that a gazillion years from now on, birthday celebrations will be rampant and should be regarded as the work of Satan.

I remember watching this movie called Khuda Kae Liye, and this one scene where Shan tells someone that that's all extremists do- brand every fun activity as un-Islamic. Back to the birthday status- someone commented 'What is there to celebrate?'

Isn't the enjoyment of life, i.e. a gift from Allah, something to be celebrated and cherished? I believe that rather than sit down and lament over the loss of a year of life, we should reflect upon it and cherish the fond memories it has generated. I believe that only those who have spent all their life fretting about enjoying what Allah has generously given us are the only ones who would have no reason to be happy. And even then, wouldn't someone be happy to come to the end of such a miserable existence? The blowing out of candles on a cake seems to be symbolic of the snuffing out of one's flame of existence. How morbid could one be?

No one is telling you to go and get drunk or get high just because it's your birthday. But it makes no sense that the Almighty would want you to be unhappy over something you have no control over- the inevitable passing of time.

And indeed, if death only brings us closer to Allah, that very aspect is meant to be celebrated.