The glory of a Bombay winter!

We moved to Bombay during the 2012 rainy season, as is fashion each year during this time, all looked to the looming clouds that dissipated as the morning wore on.  And then all complained at the woeful rain this year. Every year, worse than the last.  Obviously there are only two seasons in Bombay, hot and rainy .  I think though I was wrong, the two seasons are “HOT” & “HOT and RAINY”.  The rain is but an extension of the ONE TRUE SEASON! SUMMER!  So when Wikipedia tries to sell the horseshit that Bombay has four distinct seasons I find it difficult not to sputter in disbelief and faint dead away.

And then there was the oddity of this past monsoon.  The rain that never quite started and suddenly began…torrents flooding the JVLR.  I had a random guest over that evening,  flying out on the day of the hardest rain.  He took an auto finally, and lost a flip-flop on the way to the airport.  [Hi Amit! (if you’re reading)].

Seriously though, can farmers ever catch a break?  The rain,  ceaseless through Ganpati visarjan and again, October, the result of an absurd cyclone barreling through Bombay, trashed their planting season.  My sister-in-law, on a four day respite, and I were caught unaware on our way to Mahesh Lunch Home by the Leela. We sat  in the evening rush as the rain came down, petrichor and sweat mingling in the muck.  So the October heat that never was, gave away to the 2 weeks of the Bombay winter.

My 3 pairs of socks, one pair of yoga pants, 2 shawls and a hand me down (darned) sweater; all saved for these two weeks.   When I spoke to my daughter, already in the States,  she used to cackle.  “Oh Mom! You’ll never be able to handle it.”

This was super true, I wasn’t ready, it was evident when the near full suitcases of gossamer dresses and shorts were laid out before me as we landed into Newark, the Northeast in a deep freeze.  The ocean froze.  THE OCEAN.   I posted stupefied updates to Facebook and Instagram…frozen ocean! The end is near.

But as I sit here, schools open again after a much needed snow day for the children, shooing them out of the house, I think maybe the end was not near.  In my 17 million layers of sweats and boot socks, cozy and warm, clutching my gargantuan mug of Earl Grey, I can so totally handle this!

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Insomniac/paranoid/woman handling ingrained sexism in a country which blames chow mein for rape.

It’s a small mercy when the sleepless nights are truly sleepless.    Anything is better than jolting awake to a day that’s bright and cheery when you had slept only a mere minutes or hour before.   The eyes remain itchy, the sinus pressure  intense and the need to sleep constant.    My  insomnia returned this year [babbling like an idiot], delayed, just like the past few years we have lived in India.  Or perhaps I could no longer mark the hazy beginnings, since the seasonal dissociative disorder had blanketed itself around me, settling into a year long, life long shroud of meh.   The insomnia, for me at least, once was the first hint that something was amiss.

I started waking up early after a bad case of jet lag that never went away.   I would be the first one awake at sleepovers, any party that turned into an overnight, rattling around trying to find something to read or do before I gave up and woke someone up. .If we were sleeping at friends’ houses I made sure to ask where all the stuffs were to feed my dangerous tea habit.   There’s nothing I can say about the early morning that hasn’t been snatched up by cliché, but I can say, it’s all true.  That last hour of quiet before the sun and, birds and flowers, children running down the cul-de-sac, and whirr of lawnmowers take over, that bated breath, the moment before the final push, just before you rip off that band aid everything that could be, and then you exhale.   Waking up so early and exercising half the day ensured that I would sleep into a coma like slumber that evening.  This is partially why I used to do it.  To shut the brain off.  My routine then was institutional, like clockwork, nothing ever happened that wasn’t on schedule.

All the exercise and keeping busy couldn’t keep the edges from getting grey.  Eventually a silent unease swept through the house and it would stay,  like the cheery annuals planted in the front of the house, a heavy shroud weighing me down. The year before we moved to Bombay, I was extraordinarily obsessed with my calorie intake, expenditure, had charts neatly organized in small stapled booklet in Martha Stewart’s Cake Bible.  I would make four or four I would obsess over each cheerio ingested, rewarding myself with a few extra if I had not eaten the night before.   When your early mornings give way to grey, and grey the day after and grey inside even when it’s sunny outside, when the people you deemed unfriendly are the ones to shine a, “Good Morning”, you make your way through them, rushing past, disgruntled, angry, sad and so very lonely.

This is before we acquired the great unruly creatures who let us pick up after them.  All utter fosture failures.  The latest addition a cantankerous creature who had spent a large part of her little life in a cage.  Phoebe and Tail Lung (the cats)  of course, put up with the presence of my doggos and the little humans with great personal dignity (their own) and dissatisfaction at our lack of fur and hunting prowess.  The animals save me everyday.  Their complete love, the cats give this in inspired and rare packets, and dependence on me makes me get up day after day, and stick to my institutional schedule of walking and feeding and washing and romping!

Right now my little puppers and meows are still in Bombay.  The astonishing and bitter cold had left me wondering if I would be able to continue the schedule of walking that I had in the land of perpetual summer.  This, very frigid morning in Delaware, my niece’s gorgeous little puppy was taken out for her walk by her grand aunt (c’est moi!)

I spent fiver years in Bombay, and right up until the time I left, people marveled at my ability to wake, dress and be ready for the day that begins at 4:30 am, I wanted to tell them,  (despite knowing I secretly do it for the glory of a quiet morning thinking about the horrid inequities that exist in both of the countries I call home) .. hey thanks but it’s just jetlag.

On being a siren mermaid.

One of my closest friends called me a siren mermaid yesterday in a random text chat.  My instinct, when called this was of immediate anger.   Even when  this seemingly sounding and ultimately flattering classification came at the tail end of a time when, I was forcing myself to be angry.  To make myself dislike her.

So, I looked it up and wrote out a very long response of how though mermaids and sirens seem similar and their mythos are rooted in the Greek arcana, they are separate entities and ought not be classified as one.

THEN it came on me! HOW DARE SHE!  A mermaid is forever alone, longing for a life she can never have and were she to have it, she would never remain happy.  A siren is a beautiful creature with a voice that lures sailors and pirates to their death.  Is this what she thinks of me?  So the response was restrained, cool, pointing my long witch nail her way.  How said , I said, that from our years of friendship, this is her take away.

As I waited for the two grey arrows to turn double blue, I thought, but gosh, it sounds so sweet.  Siren Mermaid, a thing unaware of the power to save herself.  So when the response did come,  “of course I knew it wouldn’t mean what I had surged ahead to assume  Of course I knew you were kidding.

 

It’s kind of cool, I didn’t admit to her, to be called that once in your life.  Even if it’s in jest.

Siren mermaid, that’s me.

A little bit.

Sometimes.

 

[un]spoken word[s]

It’s not love; not  like the one your daughter and her friends discuss over honey nut cheerios.  It’s a bunch nonsense made up to sell diamonds or something.  It’s not but  product of hormones, serotonin and oxytocin, mostly ” I still don’t mind the look of you”   These together are  known as what induces feelings of love and being loved.  So the Hindus were right eh?  Maya is an illusion!

Now, of course I have felt these both, I have been in serotonin and in oxytocin many times.  One time I trekked to Bandra (way back when I thought it far) because my friend Ruchita had assured me they had “great” avocados and at that time I was in oxytocin with them (by the way the avocados were terrible).

Or my other girl squad member (just trying that out for size) claimed she loved cheesecake and brought over this gelatinous hot mess that she then claimed she loved because it was “light”.  It’s CHEESE CAKE, why would anyone attempt such a calamity? Avocados and good cheese cake are lacking India.  But I’m not much of a dessert person, so probably not the best person to give feedback.

Yeah, so Bandra isn’t that far to go, but Khar! OMG Khar feels like a gazillion miles away which is why I shocked myself by going to the Khar Antisocial’s  presentation of a spoken-word-athon called Kahaania, I wasn’t fooled, this was more like dating someone who has similar interests.  I was very annoyed that all the performers were male comedians.  Unfunny comedians who stuck to safe topics because, doodh walla ki bakri ko khaane waley kya kahenge type of situation.

The routine peppered with attempts to sound more cosmopolitan?  Smarter, hipper, cooler…and when the audience sees that yearning, they ma ver well, know it’s there but when they see it.  All over.  In this way, the best part was arriving, sitting down and leaving.    With nary a look back I booked it out of there after four performances.  The long ride home I thought about the unique importance of words   The beauty in which  the cadence and pitch with which you use them changes the meaning.   I was sad mostly, but that’s because I’m the queen of gloom and doom.  I ought to know, I had my own mix tape.

I have found,  like most people know.  Like most people who wield  these words as weapons.  All it takes is a small graze, unintended wound left to fester and all of a clinical desire to see reaction to dissect the shape and size of wound, forever poking and prodding  the healthy skin that finally will also come off along with the rest of  te rotten carcass.

Things break people.  People break people  too..