Friday, July 15, 2005

Of the bespectacled hero and his anxious followers

He had the most excited tinge in his voice when he asked me in the middle of the night yesterday whether I ordered for 'Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince'. I was not aware until then that the book was gonna hit the stores in the weekend. In my relentless quest for knowledge, I figured the auspicious date to be July 16, 2005. Not sure if Ms. Rowling believed in 'Rahu Kaalam' etc to zero down on such an unassuming date in the Gregorian Calendar. Almost, seems to me, like a wait for the most awaited world premiere of a Hollywood Mega Blockbuster. First of all, I find the whole idea of ordering for the book months in advance, a bizzarre concept. Till date, I have received 358 emails and 273 sms'es reminding me to avail the best price for the book if I did an advance booking. There are so many bestsellers floating in the bookshops. What makes these so special? I mean what is the whole deal about?

I can only deduce one of these:
... You are a desperate, fanatic stalker of Ms. Rowling's bespectacled protagonist and his friends and foes and the goblins and wizards and the other creepy-crawly creations. So much that if you are not among the first 100 to read the book, you are likely to suffer from withdrawal symptoms.
... You are striving to be the most up-to-date individual, competing for the Best Kept Harry Potter collection award, whether or not you have read the books. But yes, I would go with the assumption that you have read the books.
... You want to gloat to the world displaying your literary assets and you know, play the neighbors-envy-owners-pride game.
... You think life is short and it is but necessary that you read all HP books before you knock the Pearly Gates.
... You dont trust the publisher to publish enough books to satisfy all the bookworms of the world. Oh but with so many enthusiastic fans, I am sure these publication houses would not run bankrupt satisfying their demands.

But whatever may be the reason, the whole hype about the books and the pre-ordering business is rather too complicated and whimsical for my juvenile or should I say 'rusty' brain to comprehend. But hats off to Ms. Rowling for generating ripples of desperation in the youth and old in the planet and I hope the book lives up to the expectations. Amen.

*Going for a walk down the memory lane remembering the glorious days of the Five Findouters, Mr. Meddles, Malory Towers and Amelia Janes*

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Mothers, I tell ya...

Mother: Its nearing midnight, beta. What time do you have to get up? What time is your flight to Goa?
Son: Have to be at the airport at 4:30 AM. Will be up by 3:30. But you dont have to get up like this everyday. Its quite unnecessary.
Mother: You already had a long sleepless day today travelling to Delhi, that too with a delayed return flight. You must be tired, I will wake you up.
Son: I am ok, amma. I am not a child anymore. There are alarms at home. You dont have to stay up.
Mother: What if, by chance, you oversleep and miss the flight?
Son: I wont oversleep. I will be up by 3:30 and make sure I am at the airport by 4:30. Please go to sleep, amma.
Mother: (reluctantly) Ok. Fine, if you say so. (retires to bed)

Its 3:30 in the morning already. Son wakes to the shrill trill of the mobile alarm. Sleep is overwhelming and pulling him selfishly back to the bed and the mind is relentlessly trying to stir him up forcing thoughts of what needs to be accomplished in the day, the tele-booked flight tickets that he needs to collect 2 hours before the flight, the presentation about which he has no inkling, that he has to prepare in the flight for that meeting at 10 in front of the big shots of the company. He drags himself out of the bed, barely able to keep his eyes open and makes way to the bathroom, only to be greeted by amma waiting with a cup of coffee.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Madame M

M came visiting me this weekend. Her first trip to see me after my wedding. And was I excited to see her!
It’s so funny sometimes that you meet friends after a considerable period of time and you are at a loss of any meaningful conversation. It kind of takes a while to get into the comfort zone, when you are back to being yourself in front of them. But this was not the case with M. Her chatty and warm demeanor instantly can put anyone at ease. And meeting her after 7 months (Yikes..! Seven months have passed!!!) did not seem like an eon. We hit it off from where we left.

It was funny to see her sport a ponytail now though. I mean I remember the first time when I met her at the company-training program 4 years ago. Her half brown and half carrot-red colored mushroom-cut-type hair and her white-faded-with-age gray shirt and dull-colored trousers instantly put me off. I thought her to be this smartass small-towner. And she thought I was snooty. :-)

She and I shared a strange sort of telepathic connection. I guess that’s what actually got us to be great friends. Both of us seemed to know what the other was thinking and many a times both would blurt out exactly the same comment or statement simultaneously, much to the surprise of others and us too. We used to get into trouble also together. We got thrown out of our hotel at 11, which is like the most unearthly hour in the sleepy town of Trivandrum. Almost lost our jobs by having the people in the server room of our workplace issue us warnings and memos for security breach for sharing passwords et al, got into trouble trying to get a girl, infected with chickenpox, treated in the heartless medical college hospital of Trivandrum, had the training head fuming and swearing at us for attending a session late (believe it or not, it was like that - being treated as children at workplace. Wonder how we took all the bullshit. Maybe we were kids after all :-) )

We both got posted in Mumbai. And shared the same apartment. She got a two-wheeler and life was all about painting the town red during weekends and working hard on weekdays. Movies, plays, pastas, wine, treks, long drives, cooking, playing host, cleaning, washing, cribbing, bickering, patching up, smoking - to check what is cool (?) about it and realize nothing is, midnight chats where she would keep talking and realize that she must stop the monologue when gentle snore is heard nearby, her beans-ki-sabji, my sambhar, me cribbing about new Hindi music and she cribbing about old…

Too many memories and far too little time and opportunity to relive them. Matheran, movie, long drive and hours of catching up notwithstanding. *Sigh*.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Whats in a name?

Conversation between me and my Father-in-law today went this ways.
FIL: Do you know Sanskrit?
Me: Well, not really. Never studied in school. Knowledge of Sanskrit ends with some mantras/shlokas I might have learnt as a child with no attempt to know the meaning or whatever.
FIL: Do not feel offended but I was going through this (On the exterior, it was a torn and tattered sheet of paper of which I did not make an attempt to inspect contents) and happened to notice that your name RT means misery, pain.
Me: (visibly startled).. Whoa! I have always believed RT means worship, light... blah blah.. Even in Hindi, it means blah blah.. (Struggling to impress him with the limited knowledge of the meaning of my name and whatever positive aspect I could derive out of it)
FIL: That is the meaning in Tamil. In Sanskrit it means pain. So I have decided that from now onwards, I am not going to call you RT but XYZ (some basic type name I wouldn’t consider naming even my daughter's uncle's brother-in-law's grandchild)
Me: *Rolling my eyes* Gah..!
(MIL came into the scene to add to FIL's support)
MIL: In Maharashtra, women after marriage are given new names and are addressed that for the rest of their lives. And who knows, with the new name, your elusive abroad trip will materialize and good luck will come your way.
Me: *cringe* Yikes! (scooted out of the scene without turning back)

Initially, as anyone would have expected, I was kind of outraged by the whole negative analysis on my name, which my parents have fondly christened me with.
[Digression: The story goes back in time about 30 years, when dad was a bachelor who came to Bombay in search of a job with dreams and aspirations of making it big in the city of dreams as it is aptly called. He used to share his apartment with 2-3 other bachelors who worked with him and who still, continue to be his very close friends. Typical bachelor talks about life, career, promotion, marriage, children in that chronological order resulted in a heated and animated discussion on the name of their first-born. By stroke of telepathy or chemistry or whatever you'd call it, all the four were instantly in love with the name RT. All signed a verbal pact that if they had a daughter, they would all name her RT. And to everyone's intrigue, 3 out of 4 had named their first-born daughter as RT. And the fourth had a son. End-Digression]

Anyway, after the whole momentary thought process of resentment went past, a string of thoughts formed in my mind about the whole concept of name and the associated numerological innuendos and the astrologers etc who formed the 'middlemen'. I am not particularly religious or believe in such stuff and admittedly, look at all this with utmost skepticism and sarcasm. At the same time, I do not go around discerning and criticizing people who follow all of this. I guess, in reality, I am just a minority. It is rather fashionable these days to have a spiritual guru and gloat about the said guru and his 'teachings' in gatherings. Mrs. Kokilaben Ambani, Ms. (K)Ekta Kapoor notwithstanding.

I have digressed again. So as I was saying, I was just wondering about the credibility of idea of changing one's name to bring good luck. How does it matter to my guiding stars and guardian angels whether my name is RT or XYZ. Probably XYZ means murder, terror or some such outrageous word in some other language. What’s there in a name anyway? How does it help me get a promotion? How does it help in contributing to nation's GDP? How does it help provide good education to my Bai's child who's dropped out of school to take care of her younger siblings? Does the name change to XYZ give me some magical powers by which, with a swoosh of a wand; I'll visit exotic countries, become rich and famous without lifting my little finger? Where are the people who preached perseverance and hard work pays and lauded the dude who came up with "God helps those who help themselves"?

And I wonder wistfully. What Faith does to people!