Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Oh Dear God, It's that Time of the Year Again!

Most definitely my last post of the year, I have made up my mind that I am not going to spend precious, albeit fickle words boring everyone including myself with exaggerated plans of self improvement and hopes and dreams of amassing obscene amounts of wealth and catching up on the backlog of much needed happy moments. Neither is this space going to be wasted on overdone reflections of the recent past and wistful contemplation of the near future. I have done that plenty of times. So what shall I write about I wonder?

A good place to start would be a recollection of the hilarious happenings of last weekend that once again familiarized me with the idiosyncrasies of my clan. December is probably one of the busiest months in the calendar year. Not only is there plenty of work to catch up on before the large hand of clock breaks its near perfect synchrony as it creeps past the midnight hour indicating the onset of another year, but finite hours that the days in December offer are often packed with festivities and celebrations of various kinds. Weddings dominate this long list of revelries that occupy my social calendar each year, more so now that I am getting older. Not only do I have to be an active, willing participant in sharing the trill and excitement of distant and not so distant relatives as they embark upon a supposedly long, wonderful, adventurous journey through health and sickness and which ever other clich├ęd phrase they use to describe it, but friends too are now included in the equation!

I am not complaining though, I love weddings, not so much for the people and social interactions bit, but mostly for the superfluous factors like the delicious food, the seemingly never ending, free flow of booze and of course the dancing, especially the dancing. Okay, so my rather traditional Maharashtrian family does not include any of the above in their matrimonial festivities, but none the less, I grudgingly admit I do like attending family weddings, although the enthusiasm this time around is dampened.

So the second, not so distant in relation, but far away in affinity cousin got hitched last Saturday. The celebrations were trite but pleasant none the less. Everyone one was in a good mood, willing to go along with the motions of the day. The mediocre meal was finally consumed after hours and hours of waiting. Circa 2008 and we are still waiting for the boys’ side to be sated first? How truly archaic and unfair, but hey, I don’t make the rules, when it is my time I shall make sure that delicate scales of justice are more or less balanced. All those that are hungry will not be denied a morsel no matter what side they represent!

That evening, after the bride was packed off to her new home amongst a great flurry of tears, the K clan gathered around in my cousin’s living room. They were engaged in a much enthusiastic postmortem of the wedding, my aunts strained relations with her siblings and last but not the least a detailed comparison between the pros and cons of using the Indian squatter toilets as opposed to the infinitely better looking Western style commode!

My sister and I were vaguely paying attention to the content of the animated cacophony that encompassed the place, until the conversation steered towards intimate details about everyone’s bowel movements. Suddenly our ears piqued with great curiosity as we started at each in disbelief!

“Is this for real?” I questioned silently as I pointedly stared at her.

“You better believe it.” She replied as a highly amused grin played upon her lips that threatened to break into a full-fledged chortle.

For next twenty minutes (yes I know the exact time as I made it a point to peek at my watch right when the conversation began and precisely when it ended) we heard a heated debate on what was really better for you, the good old squat a technique that plays havoc upon your old wobbly knees and agitates your arthritis or the great genius of the Western style toilet mechanism that is a sure fire way of preventing those aching joints from getting any worse, but a no go if you suffer from mild to severe constipation.

“Squatting puts pressure on your lower belly and therefore helps gives you faster, much needed relief.” Said Aunt #1, without a singular moment of hesitation, as if she had great authority upon the surface.

“Yes, but the pros of the Western style toilet most certainly outweigh the cons. There is always fiber that you can take to soften your bowels, but arthritis is tough to manage.” Aunt # 2 said.

Let’s just say that what continued to ensue was one “shitty” exchange. I wish I could assert that this was actually the worst part of the evening, but no, sadly it doesn’t end there. I have an embarrassingly loud voice that I sometimes fail to take notice of. I maybe in a perfect, not too loud conversation with someone, when suddenly my voice takes a life of its own and the decibels rise exponentially with every passing word. I have been chided for it in the past and have often burst a blood vessel work wondering why this is so. Until last weekend I had no bloody clue and then it hit me, whether it is bowel movements, someone’s husband, the growing price of potatoes or my husbandless state, my family is amazingly noisy! Always trying to one up each other, not by the sheer strength of their argument or their great insight, but purely on basis of how incredibly loud they can be!

First as children and now as adults we had to always scream to make our voice heard and put in our two cents. If you can’t scream it out loud, you ain’t got it is the Kulkarni motto. Be it right, wrong or plain outright ridiculous was another issue altogether. Then there is uncle R who is plagued with verbal diarrhea, no matter what the situation demands, no family gathering would be complete without him making inappropriate remarks constantly.

I can go on and on about the eccentrics that make up the K clan and their sometimes hilarious and often annoying attributes. But just when I get a tad bit too unhindered with disparaging remarks, I notice an uncanny resemblance between us, that’s when the realization dawns; we may not be all that different after all. This is when the insults die in my mouth and the ferverent prayer begins, “God, please don’t let me be like them when I grow up!”

Friday, December 19, 2008

A Month in the Life Of

Okay so it’s that time of the year again when I pretend to stop writing about someone else and write about me as me.

A lot has been happening recently, not in the blow my kickers off exciting kind of sense that will have me reeling back for ages, but nice, pleasant instances that have cropped in the last odd month or so that have generally put me in good spirits. Of course all the credit for my amicable nature and jovial social interactions goes to me. It was late, late November when I finally decided to sit back, order a large over-priced iced latte from Gloria Jeans and think about my life a tad bit pragmatically. I eased back into my seat after being hunched over for almost three quarters of an hour nibbling off tiny, tender bits skin and flesh from the corner of my right thumb, a nasty nervous habit I indulge in whenever I try to focus hard on something. As my arched spine silently and profusely thanked me for the change in posture, I slowly sipped on my drink, carefully rationing the contents of my cup so that it can strategically last the entire duration of my serious, much needed self analysis, I was completely aghast to finally come to the conclusion that I have been an unhappy, hateful, pessimistic, self-pitying, self-loathing cynic. Now all these attributes may sound almost poetic in some brooding, deprecating, long haired artist with a dark sexy stubble, I might be wistfully attracted to, make no mistake, in retrospect, when abiding in oneself, these traits actually put a huge damper on personal growth and happiness.

Okay, so this life altering personality change didn’t actually occur exactly at that very moment. I need to rewind a tad bit more and revisit that evening when I went on a dinner date with my friend A. I have known A for a while, he is by far one of the nicest individual I know and I say this with the utmost fondness for him and all that he represents. It’s a complete fib that nice guys end up last or nowhere at all. I know realize (maybe almost a tad too late?) that nice guys always end up in the right place, we as creatures of infinite stupidity ( and I include myself in this list) are either too dumb to realize they are absolutely wonderful or extremely late to get there. Being normal, functional and sorted isn’t all that bad I figure now, in fact it is indeed a redeeming attribute. So A was passing through town, on his way back to the US of A and was kind enough to grace me with his presence for that short few hours that I now strongly believe altered my perception, well at least for the time being.

I was generally in my morose state of mind, which by now had become so damn familiar that I failed to recognize that it might be highly infuriating and frustrating to others (and sometimes I really wonder why I have so few friends?) so A and I were catching up after a very long time, as usual I was going through my grocery list of quibbles in life when A suddenly interjected and said, “hey it’s time you did something about them you know.”
I have heard this before and I have been quite irritated in the past to have been reminded of the obvious. But for some unexplainable reason this time around things were different. End of the year bout of wisdom perhaps? Or sheer desperation that has finally tamed my wild stubborn ways? What ever the reason maybe, that’s when it dawned on me, all of this year I have done absolutely nothing but complain, bitch and ultimately moan about everything under the sun, but when it was actually time to do something about my trails and tribulations, I did very little, either because I was too afraid to move out of my comfort zone (however miserable it was, it was still awfully familiar) or deathly frightened of failure.

Epiphanies are a funny thing, when they finally happen to you, either you realize with great dismay that the time has long passed for you to bring about that much desired life change or they fill you with that much needed spurt of unexpected enthusiasm and courage in just the right doses to make that elusive dream a reality, or at least give it a damn good shot.

So as I sipped my iced beverage (by now I was almost to the bottom of the cup) and decided to wake up from my self induced existential slumber. I rushed home, begged mom to lend me her credit card (she is quite old fashioned and till this date remains unnecessarily paranoid about online credit card transactions) and enrolled for the GRE exam. I had finally mustered the courage to give my MFA a shot. Of course at that impulsive moment I didn’t realize how incredibly stressful it is to secure a graduate school admission.

My intense research began the next day and to my great dismay, I realized that I have missed most fall deadlines. My average sized brain, which only has the limited capacity to store and retain information over an extended period of time does not give me the liberty to take the exam overnight and actually requires me to put in a few sincere, dedicated hours of study each day. So April 25th is sort of the judgment day for me, when I will finally know what my future holds in more ways than one.

2010 is sort of a ways away, I mean 2009 hasn’t even dawned yet, but time has a way of slipping by me, without as much as a whispered warning. I know that if I don’t start now, another year might just go by without much to account for its passage and I can’t let that happen again.

I finally feel like I am getting my life sorted in some ways and it’s an incredible, incredible feeling. As nerdy as this may sound, it feels good to work towards a goal, to have a goal that I have started to shape into a reality. Sometimes I wonder if I am doing all this to get far away from this mess that is my life here? There is a strong evidence to suggest the same. But then I justify it to myself by thinking that what ultimately matters is my happiness. I may not be strong enough to live my life according my own terms here, but there might be some place in some obscure, remote corner of the world where I may possibly be able to do so. So what’s the harm in embarking upon a journey to find this destination?

Now that I have these self induced pep talks running through my head time and again, life is indeed beautiful. I have been smiling and laughing a lot, which I have discovered to my great surprise and joy that I highly enjoy. I have a fabulous new hair cut that I look super cute in and I have lost some weight since I have cut back on the alcohol and started going on walks again. I look and feel good. This I like and I am vain enough to admit in public.

I do realize that the end of the year encourages us all to make unreasonable, unattainable resolutions, which we forgo by the second week of January, but since my dreams come with a price tag of two hundred dollars just in enrollment fees, I better do something about them!

Oh yeah last new years eve, I was sick, all alone at my desk writing my first post. This year I will be in Goa with friends, hopefully snogging some cute guy at the stroke of midnight. Maybe this year won’t end on an awful note after all.