Monday, July 23, 2007


What is in an answer? An answer tells us everything about how the question has been answered. It may depend on the circumstances in which one is when the question is asked. For example, take the question, “How much?”

You may be asking the price of a cabbage. You will be told the price exactly and you may decide to pay up and go or head for another grocer who may stock better quality or a cheaper price or if you are lucky, you may get both. You may still decide not to purchase the cabbage and go ahead to buy cauliflower instead. You may then ask yourself, “how much?” talking about how much time you would want to spend shopping for vegetables when you have to see to the cooking and the cleaning back home. This time may not be so exact, but you know it would not be more than a half-hour. However, you may get distracted by the shoes in a store window and then you would not have time left for grocery shopping and you would then decide to buy the first cabbage on your return and say what the hell. You go home and see the mess the kids have made and you can ask yourself the question, “How much…. more of this can I take?” as you leave the bag of groceries at the door and bend down to pick up the toy car, the colored pencil and trip on the carpet gone askew. You land on your back and see the kids grinning over you as they try to help you up and you know your question will have to wait awhile as you hug them.

Your husband returns home from work and you serve him coffee and you know how much sugar he takes but you still ask inanely, “How much?” and he looks at you and grins stupidly and you realize how much you love him and you cannot really quantify this and don’t want to even. When you watch him looking at the sexy women on T.V. while you are with sauce on your shirt and smell of the garlic in the sandwich you are making, you realize you want to sock him, how much? Lots. You bend over his shoulder and ask him how much he loves you and he switches channels absently and murmurs lots and continues to fix his eyes on the T.V. and you know just how much of a housewife you have become. So the next day you are at the tailor’s and you want him to make your dress higher and he says how much and you wonder at how much more of your skin you can show to be called sexy but not sluttish. There is a fine line drawn here, but you don’t know how much. And you say let it be and you know you will wear the dress as it is because you tell yourself that your sexiness lies in your mind. How much? Got to be all of it.

How much is not enough, more than enough, or will do- it all depends on you. If you are passionate about something, more is less. If you hate something, a little is enough. If you are indifferent, how much is immaterial. If you are a dreamer, a little goes a long way. If you are a stockbroker, too much is too much less. If you are a writer, you never answer questions like this, only write about them.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007


Another landmark birthday has passed and I go through notes I have made about the things I wanted to do before it came and went. I did cover a few of those things, but they are just an abysmal percentage.

Yes, I do make these lists, they are supposed to pin down all the things that I want to do while my monkey mind is running rife with the things that need to be done.

I have written in the list that I need to write my mega novel and can you believe it I have not even thought about what to write, so what is this mega novel I am talking about. Just ‘khayaali pulao’(dream pulao) as my mother will say. So coming back to the time to do the things that really matter, do the yoga, join the pottery class, see the finest movies, write that novel, (all these are part of my list, among other things) how do I do it?

Another day goes and I wonder where it all went. I wake up thinking I have the whole day in front of me. I don’t do a job you know, but being at home attending to mundane things is an even bigger job. Now, for example, I sit down for yoga and the front doorbell rings, and the phone does as well. The mind, that is all spreading into peaceful waves to get into the state of well being induced by yoga, suddenly scrambles onto alert and the question is which bell I attend to first as I scramble to my feet and into my slippers. From alpha waves to beta-be-there for the bell, that’s what happens.

It is the magazine man at the door, and on the phone an inane caller who wants to know if I want a loan on my credit card. I almost say, “Lend me your ears so that I may scream into them!” I count to ten the Western way, breathe deep to ten the Eastern way and quietly tell her to not disturb me again like this, please. Please. Vinti hai. (This is a request).

‘Oh mild woman, when will you ever learn?

With people such as these you have to be stern.

They take a hold of your life and storm into your time,

Don’t let them, babe, commit this crime.

Never mind. So that kind of explains it-this flying away of time from within my fingers as I clutch and clutch and ask of it please stay, another day will pass, and I will be left holding nothing in the end, just my dust, in my crumbling hands and I picture this whole thing and think to myself at least there should be a book here, the life and times of a woman of the twentieth century in India who manages to survive into the twenty-first as well, or some such thing. To show that I have been here and done something with this life.

I want to leave a footprint, not carbon of course, have to watch that in today’s day and age. Maybe what I want to say is that I want to leave my hand print, in ink and on paper.

I have felt myself going round and round and unable to stop myself from doing all the things I do out of habit or out of a sense of compulsion, or out of a sense of evading that which I know is important to my life. Because to make that happen requires so much from me. I have to focus and concentrate and do some deep writing. I cannot let my mind wander and just wallow in my dreams. I dream of how good it will be to have a home in the mountains and a laptop to work with and tea to drink as the breeze whispers a song in the trees. If there is a breeze of course, but then I have a choice, I can hear music on my iPod. Technology and nature, what a combination! I always wanted to have the best of both worlds. But that is possible only if I do something meaningful to make the dream happen. It won’t happen just like that. And that means writing in the here and now and making my novel materialize.

I can dream or I can write my way to the dream. Or maybe not write my way to the dream, but at least to somewhere. To the top of the next mountain maybe. And then I will look down with a sense of having climbed, at least. Not dream of climbing and sit at the foothills forever. Once I am there, imagine me with the laptop, the chai in hand, the sun streaming down to the river tinkling by (we are allowed to make meaningful additions) and the song in the tress. If there is a breeze, otherwise, iPod hai na!

You can see how potent this dream is. It keeps reappearing. So I will not chase time anymore, nor try to catch it by its collar, nor race with rotten rats. I will just hunker down to write that great novel. About a time and a life. A time in my life. The life of my times.

What is this life if not time? The seconds are ticking away.


10th July, 2007