Monday, December 22, 2008

Thirty


A Lady Who Thinks She Is Thirty
- Ogden Nash

Unwillingly Miranda wakes,
Feels the sun with terror,
One unwilling step she takes,
Shuddering to the mirror.

Miranda in Miranda's sight
Is old and gray and dirty;
Twenty-nine she was last night;
This morning she is thirty.

Shining like the morning star,
Like the twilight shining,
Haunted by a calendar,
Miranda is a-pining.

Silly girl, silver girl,
Draw the mirror toward you;
Time who makes the years to whirl
Adorned as he adored you.

Time is timelessness for you;
Calendars for the human;
What's a year, or thirty, to
Loveliness made woman?

Oh, Night will not see thirty again,
Yet soft her wing, Miranda;
Pick up your glass and tell me, then--
How old is Spring, Miranda?


Lovely poem, isn't it? No prizes for guessing why I put that up here, today.

My friend sent it to me around the time she turned thirty, and I saved it carefully, to help lift my spirits (or so I thought) when I turned thirty. But today, I find that I don't need it at all. My spirits are quite high. The Thirty number is actually exciting, not scary. Is wisdom finally making an appearance with age? Have I at last realized that age is just a number? :)

Thursday, December 18, 2008

A visit to the beauty parlour

Left to myself, I am not much of a beauty parlour person, going only for the necessary haircuts. I indulge in their other services only when:

1) There is a major event in the family, and going to the parlour before that is the done thing.
2) When I have too much time to spare - I don't remember the last time when this was the case.
3) When I have too much money to spare - This was just when I started earning.

A visit to a parlour is hardly something to look forward to. You need guts, nerves of steel, and you have to leave your sense of pain at home.

Facial: The best way that parlours get to fleece you. They offer you a range of facials with fancy names containing the keywords "Shehnaz, Herbal, Fruit, Pearl, Gold, Bridal" and so on - the more exotic the name, the more ludicrous the price.

S~ and I have various arguments on facials, and cosmetics in general. Sample this.
Me: I am going to get a facial done today along with my haircut.
S~: Hmph. Chemicals on your face. It will burn your skin. Sodium monoethyl Krypto laureate, ethanococcal stearate... (rattles off some more alarming-sounding names). Not good, avoid it.
Me: Easy for you to say... blessed with flawless skin...
S~: Eat healthy, drink lots of water, keep your face clean and exercise a bit each day, and then you will see who has the flawless skin.
Me: I hope Puttachi has inherited your skin.
S~: @#$%&

Never ending argument. Well, I get a facial done like, once a year, so my argument is that it will hardly affect me.

Anyway, this is what a facial entails:
1) A variety of sweet-smelling lotions are applied successively on your face, and expert hands massage and knead your face like dough. Sometimes the massage includes the neck and the back - and the whole thing is really soothing.
2) Your face is thrust into a steam-pot, where seemingly superheated steam burns your skin down - I think that what a facial does is just rips off your outer skin, so that the young inner layer shows through. Ouch.
3) Blackheads are removed by poking a needle into your skin repeatedly. This terrifies me. God knows whether they sterilize those needles. I always ask to skip this part.
4) A vibrating massager is run around your face which makes it seem like a roadroller is dancing the tango on your face.
5) A soothing, cool face pack is applied on to your face, your eyes covered with cotton, and you are left to lie down and dream, or think up this blog post. This is the part where you start shivering with cold, and you remember that your aunt visited a certain parlour just because teh beautician thought to cover you with a blanket when she left you lying with a face pack.
6) The pack is wiped off, and ice is rubbed over your face.
7) Some more stuff is applied on to your face, and you are released.

Waxing: The idea must have been picked up from a medieval torture technique. What else do you call pouring burning wax over your skin and ripping off the hair from the roots? The less said about it, the better.

Pedicure: My personal favourite. You get to soak your feet in hot water, and then the beautician cleans your feet, gives them a nice foot rub, and then you get to put your feet in a nice foot massage vibrating thingy, and at the end of it all, your feet actually come out looking soft and beautiful. After every pedicure, for a few days I behave like someone told me "Aapke pair bahut khubsurat hai, inhe zameen pe mat utaariyega." (Your feet are beautiful, don't place them on the ground - a classic dialogue from the movie Pakeezah)

There are other minor thingies like shaping your eyebrows, and other major things like bleaching and hair colouring and such areas where I have never ventured into.

Anyway, after a couple of hours at the parlour, and after coughing up an insane amount of money, I go home, hoping to elicit some compliments from S~. I ring the doorbell.

He opens the door, takes a look at me, and asks, "What happened? Was the parlour closed?"

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Bannerghatta National Park

When I was in Mumbai, a colleague of mine once told me that she had lived her entire life in Mumbai, but hadn't been to Juhu beach. I fell off my rotating chair in shock. But that is how it is usually, isn't it? For example, I have been to Bannerghatta National Park on the outskirts of Bangalore only twice in my life, and I don't even remember the last time I have been there, whereas tourists and visitors make a beeline to the place.

Anyway, I amended that this weekend. S~'s cousin has adopted a Russel's viper and a Python at Bannerghatta, and so he has been given a pass. He asked us if we would like to join him, his wife, and his five-year-old son Ani on Sunday to go to Bannerghatta, and we jumped at the offer. Considering how much Puttachi likes animals, it is a shame that we haven't taken her to any animal place after her Mysore zoo visit. So this was an opportunity we couldn't miss.

We reached at about 9 am, and debated a bit about taking the safari ride, wondering if Puttachi would have the patience to sit in an enclosed place for more than an hour. But Ani was insistent, and so we went. The Safari turned out to be just wonderful. We saw Bison, Spotted Deer, Nilgai, Bears (Teddy! Teddy!), Elephants, Lions and Tigers. Yes you heard me right. And a couple of white tigers with an ordinary tiger were playing with each other and jumping about, actually enacting a Discovery Channel scene right outside the barred window of our bus. Magnificent sight, magnificent animals. Puttachi went crazy with excitement.

After the Safari, we went around the zoo. Puttachi saw birds, snakes, rabbits, deer, zebras, monkeys, Indian Giant Squirrels (never seen them before - they are huge!), elephants, turtles, crocodiles, alligators, and coriander-eating hippopotamuses. Oh and have you ever seen a baby hippo? Adorable!

It was lunch-time by the time we finished. The Park by itself doesn't have any eateries inside it, but people usually bring their own food and eat it inside the park. There are a few stalls outside the park which sell snacks, but I don't think you get a filling lunch there. So we ate at the restaurant at the Jungle Lodges and Resorts, attached to Bannerghatta. The food itself was not too good, but we were too hungry to care. The resort, though, is very good. Built at a slight elevation, it is spacious, bright and airy. Very refreshing. Staying there for a night would be an attractive option, I think.

After lunch, we went to the newly built Butterfly Park, the first in India, I hear. The Park enclosure itself is very green, well-maintained, with well-laid paths. The actual conservatory is a domed structure. Entering it is like entering one of these "paradise" scenes in movies. A lush tropical environment, with a stream and a waterfall, with the rich gurgling sound of falling water providing a perfect backdrop. Lots of flowers, and of course, scores of butterflies flitting about all around you. If you stand still, they actually come and alight on you. There are boards with butterfly information amidst the plants, and so you can actually see a butterfly and read about it at once. It is lovely. Puttachi had a fabulous time. Since we had been there in the comparatively hot afternoon, the butterflies were at their most active, I think. Exit the conservatory and you enter a museum of sorts, with loads of information about butterflies, and different kinds of butterflies on display. There is also a room with an audio-visual presentation of about 20 minutes. Quite informative, if you have the time and the inclination, and if you don't have a tiny human tugging at you constantly.

It was a day well-spent. The entire Bannerghatta Park is far more well-maintained than I had imagined. Oh, and I have to mention this. At the entrance of the Park, there is a lady sitting with a number of paper bags. She checks your bags, takes out all the plastic bags and puts the contents into paper bags and hands them back to you. And this includes Lays and Kurkure and Haldiram Packets and the like. She cuts them up with a pair of scissors, empties the chips into the paper bags and gives them to you. I liked that. Inside, we learned that a deer had died a while ago due to plastic consumption, and hence the extreme precautions.

So that was it. I would recommend a visit. But do go early to avoid the rush. Have fun!

Friday, December 12, 2008

The new park, Puttachi and me.

The apartment we have recently moved into is located just opposite a terrific park, a very old one, and a very large one at that. It is full of mighty old trees, broad walking paths, huge grounds, and old vintage buildings. [No, it is neither Lalbagh nor Cubbon Park]

They do have a kids' area, but the play instruments are old and not very well-maintained. They will do, though. I guess I am just comparing it to the play area in the previous park I used to take Puttachi, which was so good that people travelled 5-6 kilometers to bring their kids to that park.

But the charm of this park lies in its trees and its walkways, its people and its birds. In its "ancientness". In its magnificence.

Parktime with Puttachi previously consisted of just taking her to the park, letting her play on the rides, and coaxing a small walk out of her, and then bringing her back. But in this park, it is different. It is as much as a pleasure for me as it is for her.

The moment we get inside the park, she spots the swing and the slides and we do the mandatory exercise of her playing on it. But very soon, she gets waylaid by a stone, a dog, a bird, and she is off, running along the walkways. She finds something interesting at each corner, and there is so much to explore. I just let her be, and follow her around, making sure not to hover about her, but being close enough to ensure that she is safe. It is so lovely to watch her. She picks up stones, leaves, shows them to me with delight. She spots a dog and runs after it. She finds a particularly huge tree and looks up at it wonderingly. She talks to everybody who talks to her, and even calls out to people who walk by without talking to her.

5 30 pm seems like 7 00 pm because of the thick canopy of trees in the park, and it gets cold very soon because of the number of trees. Though it is warm when we set out, I make sure to have put Puttachi in warm clothes, or else I carry along something extra.

When dusk approaches, the chirping of the birds becomes deafening. Birds fly all over the place from one tree to another, and Puttachi looks up excitedly at the sky full of birds. She jumps about with pleasure, follows the flight of the birds across the sky until she almost loses balance.

For me, just taking a walk in this beautiful park gives me a feeling of joy, of peace, of tranquility. Watching Puttachi enjoy herself is a bonus. Running along the walkways like the wind, pointing out things to me, listening to my explanation of this and that, collecting pebbles and putting them into her pocket to go home and show her dad - every little thing that pleases her amplifies itself and pleases me that much more.

When S~ joins us, I let down my guard, depending on S~ to look after Puttachi. I walk about at my own pace, enjoying the park in my way. Anyway you see it, the park is a pleasure.

The best part is that by the time Puttachi gets back, she is hungry enough to wolf down her food, and tired enough to go to bed without a fuss. And as for me? I don't know if it is the oxygen, or it is the green of the trees, or it is just the park itself, but I am thoroughtly rejuvenated.

Before we moved in here, I used to pass by this park and look at these apartments and think how lovely it must be to stay so close to it. I cannot believe that I am actually living a dream.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Wedding Week

So my little sis Peevee got married last week. In the days preceding the wedding, I would look at her and get sepia-tinted flashbacks of this energetic, impatient, wide-eyed child, and then a diffident, self-conscious teenager, and then I would look at this smart, confident young woman and shake my head and think, "Is this the same person? And she's getting married!!"

****

I had heard a lot about Peevee's husband D from Peevee herself, from my parents who met him when they had been to the US for Peevee's graduation, and from S~ who had met D and Peevee when in the US last month on an official visit. I had interacted with D on mail and phone too. So it just didn't feel like I was meeting him for the first time a day before the wedding. We spent a fair amount of time together after the wedding too, and I got to know my new brother in law a bit. But they are here on a flying visit, and they have already left Bangalore for Mumbai, and so further acquaintance must wait.

****

My aunt Anu had gone back to the UK from India just this August, and so her coming down to India again for the wedding was a big question mark for a while. She thendecided that she wouldn't want to miss it, and made it after all. But her visit was kept a secret from Peevee. Only a very few of us knew about it and we went through great pains to ensure that it doesn't get to Peevee in any way. It was the most elaborate conspiracy ever carried out in the family. And all the tension and the efforts were rewarded. You should have seen the look on Peevee's face when she saw Anu!! We have it captured on camera, and so if you want to see it, just drop me a mail. :D

****

I had shown Puttachi Peevee's snaps much before Peevee landed, and so Puttachi had no problem recognizing her Pupushi (Peevee Mausi). She loved the stuffed giraffe that her Pupushi got for her too, and she was just warming up to Peevee, when Peevee went and got Mehndi done on her hands. After that, in spite of Peevee's desperate efforts, Puttachi refused to go to her. Poor Peevee. Next time, Peevee. I'll ensure that she follows you around like a shadow!

****

It was an Arya Samaj wedding. I had never witnessed one before. It was very interesting, with every mantra and every ritual being explained in detail. The general opinion in the married members of the gathering was that if they had known what those mantras and rituals meant when they were getting married, they wouldn't have got married at all!

****

Puttachi, who is in her element in large gatherings of people, specially if it is an admiring gathering, decided to go on strike on the day of the wedding. Though I intended to wake her up at the last possible moment that morning, she awoke at dawn, disturbed by the flurry of activity. She remained sleepy and cranky for the rest of the day, and spent half the morning sleeping in my mom-in-law's arms. The more the guests spoke to her, the louder she cried (which is unusual in her case), and she came back to her normal self after the majority of the guests had left!

****

That's that. Back to work!
- -