Tuesday, July 15, 2008

33 steps between there and here

I'm 33 today. I decided to follow my intuition and birthday gift myself the balance of the vote in favour of what I would like to do. So here are all 33 bits about me me and me.

1. If I needed only one word to describe myself while growing up I would definitely not use the word lucky. I have crap luck, especially of the lottery winning kind, so clearly that person is not me. I have never ever won anything. Not drawing competitions, not tambola, not even scrabble. Now I don’t waste my time or money trying.

2. I believe that in our family luck can only belong to one person. In our family it belongs to my brother. Passed on genetically from my mum who is also fantastically lucky but less so than the Nik. He is going to hit some sort of jackpot and then I’ll have to wrangle half of him. Strangely, this makes me happy and not even an iota envious. I think my word my might be lazy.

3. I never ever cried in front of anyone all through my teens. I reserved any tears (very very rare) for the bathroom. But it was in my teens that I came to accept that I was much more sensitive than I came across.

4. I cry more often and more openly now. Mainly it’s a reaction to a sentimental movie (like Dumbo, which has made me cry many a time since I was 8 years old) or homesickness on festivals. I would say I average about twice a year.

5. As a teenager I used to get bugged by small yet seemingly significant things. Then I made up a process to deal with everything. First I learnt to quickly disguise it. Then I’d forget about it. And then suddenly it didn’t matter anymore. Water off a ducks back is my universal rule.

6. As time went on I got better, quicker, sharper at it. To the point where if it did not concern V or my family members with some level of gravity, I could go through the process in about 25 seconds. This method has so far stood me in good stead.

7. I don’t make friends easily. I would say that 90% of people I know are acquaintances. But once you are a friend you will never ever doubt my loyalty. I have learnt to sieve the important from the unimportant. Very very quickly.

8. I think my own best character trait is loyalty. I strive for it to be kindness.

9. It therefore takes a lot to rile me. But if you rile me once too often you’ll find yourself being cut out from my existence in every way. There is no forgiveness. And there is no forgetting.

10. When I was a kid I wanted to be a different thing every week. Burning choices were librarian, art historian and archeologist. I’m not sure where all these choices went.

11. But for one entire teen summer month I was a librarian, seeing off mine and my co-conspirators books to various neighbourhood homes with love and hoping they’d come back in good condition. I think we made Rs.120 in total, between 4 of us. And most of the books did come back safe and sound. But it left me with a fear of ever lending books. So don't ask.

12. I hold a degree that people look at suspiciously. Like, “Loser, you didn’t get into anything else did you?”. Actually I did get into one very prestigious college. I chose not to go for two reasons, one of which (I am ashamed to say) was the tidings of an astrologer I call Elsie brown cow. The other is too foolish to ever mention.

13. It is not something I regret though. I don’t care what people think of my degree because it was such fun to get and I made some amazing enduring friendships there. It also means that I am a fairly good cook. Both V and I have waistlines to prove this.

14. My favorite color has always been purple. Any shade of it - from the palest lavender to the brightest neon purple.

15. As a child I implored my mother to wear this one particular chiffon sari a lot – bright purple and pink with silver work – for weddings, dinner parties etc. She only caved in to the request some of the times. It was a gift from my grandfather for Diwali one year (if memory serves me right) and my mother looked gorgeous in it. I, on the other hand, owned a pair of lavender coloured jeans that I wore till they could be worn no more. Did not look nearly as gorgeous but I was like an addict.

16. I have always lived in awe of my mother. She is not only one of the most beautiful woman I know (beaten in that only by my utterly gorgeous and graceful nani) but most certainly the most vivacious and positive person. She can meet anyone and be their friend in no time - from the dhobi to my colleagues, from the subji walla to my school friends, from the driver to random neighbours. It’s a gift.

17. She can take anything and make it better. She always tried to inculcate the optimistic viewpoint of the world. If you do good, you will get good, believe in the goodness of people etc. As a teen I was not having any of it and was a fairly surly pessimist just to test her every nerve. She has the patience of a saint, of this there is no doubt.

18. I think I aim everyday to be a little more like my mother - a bit more positive and lot more hopeful. Somewhere along the line my viewpoint changed. I think it was in my mid-twenties. But I can’t be sure. I now think I am a realist/ pragmatist. My glass has gone from half empty to half full between my teens and this adult me. I like the adult me a lot more.

19. In primary school, I wore glasses with a very low power. But I was so vain that for a Sanskrit recitation exam at age 6 I refused to wear them. I remember memorising that passage and the shlokas like my life depended on it.

20. I went for squint correction exercises to Dr. Wadhwa 3 days a week after school. With my mum, in an auto, dragging along a tiny Nik. I remember the journeys and the exercises so clearly that I could be 7 again, not 33.

21. I’m meant to wear some very low power specs even now to read, watch TV and work on the computer. I never do. In fact I think I threw away my only pair for no reason other than vanity. This is strange because I don’t think I am a vain person. I think with specs I have just always had some mental block. I plan to rectify this while I am 33.

22. As squabbling siblings in an 80’s childhood, with a 7 year gap between us, the Nik and I fought like the average Indian household. All trivial. A lot of petty “you touched my side of the desk” type nonsense. From what I remember my dad took my side and my mother took the Niks - almost always. I saw this as unfair then. I now see the logic. My parents were always on the same side and since someone had to take each of our sides to understand/reason/cajole I guess this was the way to even out the adult influence between us. Divide and rule.

23. In the end we turned out A-ok. Adoring siblings. He calls me fatty and I call him mote. It works. My parents are proud I think.

24. I like to think I genetically inherited my father’s wanderlust. Nobody but I listens patiently to his “When I was in London on a foggy day in 1970....” type stories. I love each and every one of them. I hope to chronicle some of the best ones either in my blog or a notebook in the next year. He is well traveled, well read and wise and I hope I can grow old with the same grace, intelligence and minimal regrets as he has.

25. Both my parents smoke - my mum cigarettes and my dad cigarettes plus a pipe. Growing up I hated this because none of my friends had cigarette smoking mothers and pipe smoking fathers. Beside the repercussions for their health I no longer care because it clearly makes them happy.

26. Growing up the Nik and I had only one rule. We wouldn’t buy matches or cigarettes from the corner shop, central market or anywhere. In fact we wouldn’t even fetch their cigarettes or lighters from the next room. It’s a rule we both follow to this day. My parents have learnt to live with it.

27. To my mind the only positive to my parents smoking habits were that Nik and I never smoked or were even ever tempted to try. This makes us sound like boring teenage nerds. We’ve never cared really. It’s a fact that makes me strangely proud.

28. My father and mother had a love marriage – he a malayali and she a UP kayastha – in a time when these cross-country alliances were frowned upon. One of my favourite bits about their love story is how my mother used to say she would never marry a dark man who wore glasses. She married a dark man with glasses. Lesson it left me with: never say never.

29. From my mother’s side I got the softness of my palms (exactly like my nana’s – never done a day’s work is how they are regularly described). From my father’s I got the trademark curly hair (anybody who knows anything about India can tell in a nano second that I am at least part Malayali). The hands are getting less soft what with age, the hair is ever spring and frizzy. Oh well.

30. I think I can count all my regrets on one hand. The top 2 are: I regret I never learnt Malayalam. And that I never learnt an instrument. I think I would have liked to learn the guitar and play like my father could. Speaking Malayalam would have made me feel like less of a fraud.

31. I like to think of myself not as half malayali and half UP-ite but as a wonderful lucky cocktail. I think I have convincing ancestry.

32. My favourite bit of ‘Friends’ is the one where Pheobe talks about how lobsters mate for life. V and I are lobsters. I cannot imagine my life without him. He makes all other things in my life pale in comparison. He is top of my short list of non-negotiables.

33. I think I am leading the most interesting life I could lead. I’m not sure I would change much with either a magic wand or a winning lottery ticket. If I had one word to describe it, it just might be lucky.

This is as much as you’ll get out of me at one time. Ever. So soak it in.



    See I was right - this would never have worked as a 3x11. Great list, but for some reason it has made me feel homesick and blue....HAPPY BIRTHDAY SWEETIE.

  2. Chips4:55 PM

    Happy Birthday!!

    Never left a comment here before, but thought it's as good a time as any to delurk!!
    Wonderful peek into YOU.
    I am so 7 & 9.

  3. Happy birthday :) And loved this post! Was fun to peek into your life a little bit more! I know, voyeurs all! :P
    Incidentally, my blog and you share birthdays!

  4. Happy Birthdaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay! Hope you have a fantastic year!Can't wait to see you in August!

  5. Anonymous6:39 PM

    Happy birthday.... I agree with the constant Fighting but you were always touching my side of everything;).... We turned out okay though and yeah I think Mom and Dad are proud of us. ... Enjoy your Birthday and I will talk to you soon


  6. written under duress to avoid being downgraded:

    i loved all 33 of these, but #33 was my favourite.

    ps.thanks for ignoring our votes.

  7. Happy Birthday, have a great one.
    I am actually glad that you ignored my vote, it was so much better reading it in one go...:)

  8. Anonymous9:58 PM

    Happy birthday!

  9. Happy Birthday! I love that your dad smokes a pipe :) My grandfather used to and I loved stealing his pipe cleaners and making stuff out of it.

  10. What a read! Happy Birthday! :)

  11. Happy Birthday!

  12. Happy birthday! It was like reading through layers of you.33 of them :)

  13. Chakli3:12 AM

    Have a fantastic birthday!! (from a fellow Cancerian) It was really nice to read through the entire list all at once. Once I started I couldn't stop. Let FIL wait for his coffee, i say!

    BTW, growing up I was always envious of the cocktail kids. My parents seemed so ordinary compared to theirs.

  14. Anonymous3:54 AM

    Really nice one - and the last one just... well, just made me really happy.

    Love you.


  15. Soaked :)

    Many many more happy returns of the day! :)

  16. Wow. Some effort this. Wish you many happy returns of the day.

  17. Loved it...all 33 of them...didn't actually cast my vote but I think you made the right choice...

    Happy birthday :D

  18. Happy belated birthday!!! That was a lovely post and worth doing in one go. Loved the whole 'lucky' bit that you started and ended with - nice touch!

  19. mumbaigirl5:01 PM

    Happy Birthday!!! Really glad you ignored the vote. Your optimism and attitude to life is a wonderful example for some of us.

    Guess what my parents smoked too (not anymore) and that put me off smoking for life. And the Mallus in this household (quite unfairly I think) call their hair coconut matting/fibre!

  20. Happy Birthday! Hope you have a lovely year.

  21. :D

    Love the flow of the post, one to another.

    If you do good, you will get good That is sooo true, something that I believe and perhaps makes me feel like a loser at times, but better sense prevails.

    As for the spects, vanity be damned... now I only put aside my spects if I have to see through somebody cos indeed I can't see properly if it ain't for those wonderful things that sit pretty on the nose.

    Your folks smoke. Oh la la.. now that's something I wish my folks did :D would make life a whole lot easier for me whenever I head home.

    And all said and done much as I thought, you had to do a 33 in one go ;)

    Happy b'day once again, and as for those three years, I was referring to the three since the time I commented when you were 30.

    Time does fly by doesn't it??

  22. Lovely post. Many many many happy belated birthday wishes.

  23. Belated happy birthday! What a great list and brilliantly written.

  24. hey 33 in 2008 happy birthday :-)

  25. Dude-ettes and Dude: Thank you all for these lovely wishes. I'm utterly glad I went with the whole jing-bang list at one go. Glad you enjoyed it.

    I feel older.
    I feel wiser.
    I feel happier.
    I feel blessed.
    I feel loved.
    I feel younger.

  26. Happy Birthday .. a little late .. but hope the happiness lasts through the year.

  27. belated birthday wishes!!!

    this was an awesome post! i related to so many - the sibling love, the friends quote, the no luck (!) and the cocktail family - i am very proud of it - and the one thing i dont regret is not learning the guitar. i like it, but i have found enough people to play it for me :)

    hope 34 is as much fun if not more!!

  28. Rather belated but happy birthday

  29. happy birthday. very well written post even though i'm not a regular here..enjoyed reading it :)