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(Cream, Linen) Curtains

31 Dec

hello from the other side

Helloooooooooo? Can you hear me?
I’m in California dreaming about who we used to be….

Okay, fine, the Adelegend sang that, I’m just fluffing the lines. But I’m here to say a Very Important Thing:

Goodbye.

[For now.]

Thing is, there’s no point having a blog that was once alive and chattering languish like a Limp Thing (yes, I’m up to my eyeballs in Sandra Boynton, can you tell?) when I’ve clearly moved on to Web Affair 2.0 with other social media (looking at you, Instagram!) The 3 seconds it takes to click a picture, add a filter (or not), and upload it, is all I have to give of myself presently before hollers of “Mamaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!!” come seeking my bone marrow.  (Here’s a fun fact: In the time it took me to type this post, I was interrupted 9 11 13 times, and not just by the bebe.)

(Here’s a second fun fact: I’ve gone dotty with the parentheses and haven’t the foggiest why.)

Or maybe that’s just an excuse and I don’t have anything to say anymore. Whichever way I look at it, I think closure is good manners. I may well be back when my brain returns to its skull. Or not. But ten years is a decent run in the world of blogdom, and it’s been a good decade, non?

Thank you for all that you’ve given me. You have my love and gratitude, all 3½ of you still glancing at this blog. I’ll draw only the lightest linen curtains for now, and you can continue to visit and make yourselves at home if you would so like. And come say hi on Instagram and Twitter (find me on the sidebar)!

For now, here’s my final post, a little something I wrote earlier this month and had vaguely referenced some years ago.

Happy New Year, lovelies! May every blessing be yours in 2017. ❤

On this day, nine years ago, I managed to lock myself into the restroom of a posh South Bombay hotel. I’ll just pee really quick, I had thought, before taking the elevator to the rooftop lounge for my date.
And there I was, trapped by an errant bolt that wouldn’t slide back. My heart sank. He sounded amazing in all our communication so far. He knew and loved my music, we got each other’s puns, and–best of all- he texted with zero spelling and grammatical errors!
“I’ll be damned if I’m going to let a stupid door get in the way of meeting this intriguing man,” I gritted my teeth. There was a considerable gap between the door and the floor. I could crawl through, but that wouldn’t be too dignified. And the germs, ugh.
Thankfully, I’m big and made with a fair bit of physical power. “Here goes,” I inhaled, and my shoulder made contact with the door.
Don’t tell the Intercontinental I owe them a latch.

~

Nine years later:
I’m sitting cross-legged on the floor, tying bows to the backs of dining chairs, the quiet rumble of the dishwasher in the background. Outside, the streets are wet from a quick drizzle. The lights on our Christmas tree glow as I work silently, grateful for the peace of a sleeping household. It will be a while before I finish tidying up, set the vacuum loose, and leave a (somewhat) uncluttered room for the farishtas to visit at night.
Right before he went to bed, tired from a business trip, I received a bear hug and thanks for making him a home, family and life.
All I know is, I’ve never been gladder to bust a darn door. And never in the history of humankind was lard put to better use.

Adieu and kisses! Time to give these soft, faded jammies a shelf.

 

Don’t Wish Me ‘Happy Women’s Day’

8 Mar

Stop.
Just don’t.
I see your mouth beginning to form the words, readying to trot out utter garbage.
Halt!
Don’t do it.
Tell me to celebrate being a woman on a measly day eked out for my ilk and I’ll ask you why. How do I make joyful noises about being female in a world where my gender is relentlessly at the receiving end of systemic hatred? When our heads are constantly dunked and held under water, only to be permitted half a breath before being choked again, but look, you did get that teeny window to inhale! To which you’ll look exasperated and say “But nobody is doing it to you!” And I will begin to enumerate:
1. The number of times my body was touched without my permission, how the semen stain on my school skirt remains as dark as ever, how pain feels as a 14-year-old when there’s a thrust, a gasp, and then he flees the overflowing bus.
2. The number of times my daylight hours and nighttime hours and spaces to just be were policed: by those who birthed me, by a system meant to educate, no no, you are a girl, bloomer check! We’re going to lift your skirt to ensure your modesty lives in granny knickers.
3. The number of times I have heard “nobody wants a girl who…”, “nobody marries a woman who….”, 5 kilos less and you’d be perfect, one cup size larger, you can wear any color, lucky-lucky, your hands are so soft, your boyfriend will love them, don’t ever cut your hair or I’ll be sad.
4. The number of times “good” girls don’t sit this way, don’t wear shorts outside PE class, because the men, oh the men, the men! All males, absolute strangers included, are given shares to my anatomy, only I’m not invited to the feast.
“Excellent mother”
“Obedient daughter”
“Ideal daughter-in-law”
Until I want to stitch your mouth shut without anesthesia and scream TROPES!!!
TROPES, TROPES, TROPES!
You’ve drowned in your paltry puddle and think you’re in St. Tropez, every utterance further plasters you to your pigeon poop ridden cubby, how does it feel inside that cage you’ve built, do the bars come out at night to play?
Rapes and moral policing. “Just jokes” and unoffered opportunities. Wage gaps and a permanent seat to butt and breasts on the buffet, let’s not serve brain today, rather pointless wouldn’t you say?
Not a chance in hell at life, and if lucky, then an education is all too much good fortune.
I’m a ‘happy California mum’, I was told in summary, a catch-up call that ended in a pert label, even as my vocal chords shut down in outrage.
No women are free until all women are free, I scream at you in my fantasy. While you suck on patriarchy like a lozenge and I pause to watch you choke. While you make plans to shop sales and celebrate having internal plumbing and paint your nails as the platitudes dry.
Happy Women’s Day, you say, expecting a smile in return. I smile, as I smile for many senseless things and inane people, and quietly wish you sight. And maybe someday, if it happens to be in stock that season, even a modest serving of sense.

In An Anthology

26 Feb

A post I wrote on this blog more than 7 years ago took on a life of its own and first made its way to an online journal. I have the vaguest memory of receiving an email from the editor last year, mentioning it was going to be published in an anthology, to which my very enthusiastic response was:

“Oh, that’s wonderfzzzzzzzzz…..”

And so, when another emailed arrived two weeks ago, saying the book was now out, I had the pleasure of surprise all over again. It could be my family history of Alzheimer’s. Or the fact that I haven’t slept in 15 months. But yes, the anthology of which my piece is a part:

our stories too

 

 

Here is the link to the Amazon page. And here’s what the book is about:

Our Stories, Too is an eclectic collection of personal narratives by women from around the world: America, South Asia, Europe, Africa, and Australia. You will see in these stories how the very ordinary threads of our lives are interwoven with the grand tapestries of world history. We are all, the famous and the unknown, part of the fabric. Gathered from 2013 – 2015 on themes of home, place, belonging, trauma and life change over time, these stories will take you behind the scenes into the lives of thirty three women.

Among my deepest beliefs is that we are made of water, cells, and stories. This, combined with my lifelong interest in gender, makes me honored to be a storyteller among women sharing their histories.

Okay, thank you, byebye! See you next week with Truesday Talezzzzzzzz……………..

Turning 10: 2006–2016

26 Jan

Truesday Tales is on break this week, for the following reason:

I’m trying to remember whether there was snow on the ground that day. I know it was bitingly cold, the sky was a glorious winter blue, the sun shone like a superstar who couldn’t acknowledge his best days were behind him, and my biggest concern was fitting all my precious shoes into two suitcases as I readied to begin a new chapter in the country of my birth.

Somewhere in the middle of all that, I casually wrote a post called Shoes Blues. I even uploaded a picture, because that’s what you were supposed to do, nobody only read words. All of two people looked at the post, not counting myself. Who knew what this whole blogging thing was, anyway? It was January 26, 2006, and life was about to change big time. Only, I didn’t know back then that it was the blog that would propel the biggest changes of all and remain my steadiest constant over the next decade. A page I goofily christened Wisdom Wears Neon Pajamas, after the bright orange Eddie Bauer pjs I happened to be wearing that very minute. Yes, imagination has always been my strong suit.

It would be interesting to look back at my journey since: the amazing highs, the stressors only a twenty-something can handle without turning grey, the lessons that chiseled away at me, the teachers, nasty and kind. But I’m on a tight clock with a wakeful baby and don’t want to sound like a granny reliving her heyday. I’m a steady sort, a creature of habit. I’ve had the same bestie for 21 years. Ditto favorite authors and hairstyle. I like my coffee exactly the same each morning, and only the Boy’s surprises aren’t stressful for me. So it’s not really a whoa moment for me that this blogaroo baby has lasted a decade, because it’s been such fun! Really, such fun. It married words and community and fresh ideas from some terribly sparkling minds. And gifted me friendships. A solid, warm, sustaining sisterhood. So much gratitude to the universe for it all!

This blog isn’t going to last another decade. I have my doubts about the end of the year. But that’s okay, because everything has its time, and other platforms were bound to shunt out this early form of self-expression. So pardon me if, between the books I race to catch up on and the simmering something on the stove (hey, can’t have a birthday post without an alliteration!) and Herr Toddlemeister’s shenanigans, we don’t exactly party here anymore. But thanks for all the fish. For reading, chiming in, telling me that you exist. For seeing the heart on my sleeve and treating it gently. Funnily enough, only a clutch of folks in my offline life know that I have a blog, and that’s exactly how we’re going to keep it, you and I. 😉

To 10! It’s been a whopper of a journey. See you next week for Truesday Tales?

Bear hugs and neon confetti,

Still in Pyjamas

 

My Brother’s Protector

16 Sep

I wrote this on Raksha Bandhan a few weeks ago, but didn’t get around to sharing it. So I’m posting it today, on the occasion of my brother’s birthday, with a few timing tweaks of course. For another birthday post, read this.

~

The Parsi community I grew up in and around typically did not celebrate Raksha Bandhan. Seen as a Hindu custom not really applicable to ‘us’, I was looked at with mild amusement, an oddity for wrapping that rakhi around my brother’s wrist year after year. I did it because I liked the sentiment of sibling bonds. In return, I received an occasional cassette (remember those?) of whomever I was listening to back in the day. Frequently, I got nothing but an awkward hug. And it didn’t strike me as the least bit strange. Because the traditional notion of brother as Protector and Provider is, in our context, ridiculous.

Being five years older (and obviously wiser, more brilliant and all the good things that come with being born first), I rescued him from bullies, watched out for him, made up stories to scare the poop out of him, and will still gladly sit on anyone who is mean to the kid. (Note: ‘Kid’ is a 32-year-old married man.)

In my firmly feminist household, our mum didn’t wear the pants, she wore the whole suit. And our precious, gentle father’s ego wasn’t the least bit rattled by it. So nobody told me man = strong = protector, and to be honest, there was nothing much to protect me from in our relatively secure life in 1980s Bombay, where the most violence we saw was eccentric neighbors fighting over the last piece of pomfret in Moti’s basket. And so, imbuing Raksha Bandhan with no more meaning than sibling love, I continued to mail rakhis from wherever in the world I was.

“If anything, he should send you a rakhi,” pointed out the Boy this past Raksha Bandhan, because I am my brother’s protector, keeper of secrets, giver of unsolicited advice, and overall annoying big sister. My peaceful sage of a brother who can’t say boo to a goose isn’t going to rescue me from marauding hordes anytime soon. But he is the one–and very likely the only– person in the world who completely understands my uniquely South Bombay Parsi wear-your-slippers-or-we-can’t-take-you-to-the-Taj upbringing without judging it. He can give the most kickass financial advice, keep his trap shut when there’s something only he needs to know, stands up for me when our parents are being unreasonable pains, and we know we are each other’s family in a way even our parents can’t be.

As for the marauding hordes, they are welcome to try their luck. I foresee a whole bunch of men with excruciating hernias, begging the Boy to take me back.

Lovelocked

11 Mar

January 31, 2013. 5.30 am. Silicon Valley.

The peal of my ringtone pierced the dark, as I groped in my sleep for the ‘phone. “They’re taking him in,” said a familiar voice at the other end. “I’m on my way,” I responded before the line went dead and adrenalin kicked in. Three hours later, I was buckling my seat belt as the aircraft taxied on the runway, ready to begin its transatlantic journey.

January 30, 2013. Time unknown. The Mumbai-Pune Expressway.

He was all of 28 and engaged to be married at the end of the year. His fiance was an ICU nurse at a prominent South Bombay hospital. That is all we know of him, other than the fact that the crash killed him instantly. And in his death, he gave a new lease of life through his organs to no less than five people, my loved one among them.

Present day. Silicon Valley.

It’s been more than two years since the incidents above. I’ve moved homes, switched jobs, acquired another car, waddled through a pregnancy, and now have an infant (yes, we graduated from Senior Newborn last month!) Yet, there has not been a day since January 31, 2013 that I have not blessed and thanked this young man’s soul for his generosity, foresight, and incredible humanity. There has not been a day since January 31, 2013 that I have not pondered on how to pay it forward. Finally, last November, two days before our Liebling made his appearance, I took the plunge.

Ever since I can remember, my hair has been a topic of discussion. Friends and strangers would admire it at social events, Daddy would be upset every time I cut it, guys in college wrote shayaris and poems about it, and you folks were so generous in your compliments even when it wasn’t the point of the post. I suppose I took it for granted, because I’ve always been somewhat indifferent to it, maintaining that it is my mum’s genes and father’s regular oiling–and nothing I did–that are to be credited. I’ve worn it long, short, and every length in-between. It’s been occasionally highlighted, been its natural color and texture for most of its life cycle, and kept generally clean but otherwise not particularly obsessed over. Even now, with a few strands of white in it, I feel no dismay, for it is but the natural progression of things and vanity is not among my many faults. And yet, I can imagine what it must feel like to lose it. To have to go out in public and have people stare because you don’t conform to the norm. To have the choice of whether to grow it long or chop it off taken away from you. And because I can give no other organ while I am alive, and really wanted someone to benefit from it, I decided to give away my hair to Locks of Love.

In May 2014. I was in my first trimester.

In May 2014. I was in my first trimester.

Two days before our son was born, the Boy, somewhat sad but supportive as always, drove me to the salon and my trusted stylist Stefanie took care of things.

In November 2014. Two days before our baby was born. I loved how wavy pregnancy made my otherwise straight hair!

In November 2014. Two days before our baby was born. I loved how wavy pregnancy made my otherwise straight hair!

It was quick, painless, and joyful. Some little one somewhere (or two, since Stefanie said it was a lot of hair) would have a wig of natural hair to make their cancer journey easier. A weight, both literal and metaphorical, had been lifted off my head. And the smile on my Boy’s face as I walked out assured me he approved as well.

Chop chop!

Chop chop!

That was more than 3 months ago. Since then, I’ve enjoyed my shorter, more manageable locks that gently graze my shoulders and keep out of my busy way. I’m grateful for the shorter length, since my baby has taken to grabbing strands with gusto. I may very well be as bald as him soon if this continues. And because childbirth has given me a newfound and immense respect for the human body, I will know better than to take it for granted when it grows back.

The purpose of this post is to share what’s been in my heart and on my mind, and to humbly request you to think about it as well. It is such a miniscule act in the face of that nameless young man’s charity that I would be embarrassed if you praised it. (So don’t!) Do think about being an organ donor. Each of us has the power to bestow life. And in the meantime, if all you have to give is your hair, you can now do it in India as well. Someday, it will age, grey, and fall off anyway. But as long as it’s healthy and on your head, you’ve got a lot more than a child who could do with some.

Have you ever committed to donating an organ? Please share in the comments section and inspire the rest of us.

And pssst! You guys are the first to know: I’m planning to grow it so I can do this again. 🙂

Reheat, Serve

30 Oct

This past month, I’ve been revisiting definitions of home. Specifically, how my notion of the word itself has changed, from an intensely familiar brick-and-mortar space bearing my history and tales of generations of family, to new lands: both geographical and synaptical, and finally to the person I come home to roost with each day. It’s a fascinating concept, this little word, but I have no bandwidth to say anything new about it presently. So here’s another reheated (read previously-published) piece from India Currents magazine about home, histories, and belonging. What do you think of when you think of home?

~

Three Fates

We sit at a table crowded with spiced, steaming tea cups, a study in diversity. One whose bronzed, gleaming skin carries tales of her ocean-framed ancestors. Another, pale, fair, with whispers of ancient Persia in her veins, and the third, of the same people, her bloodline mapping the landscape of two great nations.

Between us, live roots and displacement. Among us, rock movements and plane rides and boat journeys from 1200 years ago. We are of people who have shifted. Whose sensibilities and histories have shifted. People who once belonged, then belonged again, spun in cycles of precarious identity. Ripped from their homeland by threat, under duress and desire to build a life beyond living.

Around this table covered in cheap formica we sit, the Buddhist from Colombo, the Parsis from Karachi and Bombay, who have known other lands as rank strangers, then intimately, as a secret shared on a one night stand. We congregate our beings around disposable cups of chai and unleash our stories.

Time, it melts away. We jump off a cliff in the 10th century, swing past invasions, conversions, and long bloody, migrations, crash land into civil war and hurried overnight departures, past the smell of burning flesh and singed spirits, yank and sow roots stripped to rawness, touchdown in subcontinental cities where lineage marched to a temporary tune, then continent-hop over to Africa, to North America, the luckiest among us belonging only to two places,  now gathered here in these cities around the Bay, where a microclimate, a microculture, a microuniverse of one can safely exist.

Turning around in unison, we nod to our waiting ancestors. It’s alright, we say, you survived, and then revert to the vapors rising out of our drinks, to punctuate our sagas with a period.

Through the hollows of their eyes, Fate stands silently by, eraser in hand, knowing her day will come again.