Sunday, January 31, 2016

My 29th Birthday

29, the end of the glorious twenties. 

29, that age when your bones start getting rickety & places of your body which you didn't know existed, begin to hurt violently. 

29, that phase in your life when you decide to stick to a particular career path or not, decide to have babies or not & begin to ponder about "adult things" such as home loans & moving abroad & starting your own business. The weight of the world begins to rest on your shoulders & things get a little more complicated than which dress to wear for a friend's house party. 

29, the age to start worrying about wrinkles & how much weight you still have to lose or maintain to look half decent. 

29, that age when your metabolism begins to slow down & you cannot eat like a pig anymore. That extravagant dessert you had the previous night WILL come back to haunt you for 1-2 weeks minimum. 

29, that age when you can either decide to be a bully with your juniors at work or be a nice person. 

29, that age when people slowly begin to look up to you & begin to take you more seriously. 

29, that age when you become a crabby stubborn mule who doesn't want to listen to other people's opinions anymore (not even your Mom's). 

29, I'm trying hard to shrug it off as just another silly number that is here today, gone tomorrow. 

29! There's no escaping this wretched old age *Sigh* :'( 

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Mumbai Locals

I have been petrified of these metal monsters ever since the day I first stepped foot inside one of them. I've been pushed, pulled, smashed, thrown out & robbed of my belongings on these overcrowded metal contraptions. I always failed to see what the big fuss was about these things. The locals swear by them & it is considered to be the lifeline of this mad city.

When I came to Mumbai in 2008 I was forced to take them to work everyday (which is WHY i left the city in the first place). Unfortunately I dont have the luxury to make those decisions anymore because I'm married to this city now. I am a Mumbaikar. I'm no longer considered a Mallu, a Chennaite or a half Bong - I am a Mumbaikar. The city does that to you. It absorbs you & forces you to change & become one of them. 

I tried my best to fight back, to retain my identity, to not take trains. It worked for 1.5 years, I stuck defiantly to autorickshaws, took up a job that was 12 kms close to home (Yes, close!). Distances don't matter here, the time of day when you choose to step out of home or out of office determines everything. If you leave home at 8.00am as opposed to 7.50am, you've had it. If you're a road commuter, beating traffic should be your only goal.

3 months ago I landed a job that is 30 kms from home. I couldn't say no to the offer & I found myself travelling 60kms back & forth on the roads for 4-5 hours everyday. I was burning out, I knew I couldn't do this for long. My new colleagues found me to be an absolute lunatic - either I was stinking rich or I was a complete psychopath. I was blowing up Rs 1000/- a day taking cabs back & forth. After about 2 months of taking cabs, a kind colleague who stayed in my neighbourhood forced me to take the train with her one evening. After much protesting I finally gave in. 

She taught me some simple tricks to tackle the train demon :
  • Find a seat - anyhow
  • If you can't find a seat, stand between the sitting aunties & ask all of them one by one, which station they would get down. Claim your seat, mark your territory & sit down the minute the aunty gets down
  • Take share cabs & share autos - paying full fare for public transport such as cabs & autos are for losers
It's been a month since I've started taking trains & I feel liberated. The money & time I'm saving everyday on travel has made me extremely happy. Indulging in that one extra dress or shoe, no longer makes me feel guilty. 

Although I haven't started munching on chana dals or made "train friends" yet, I consider myself a train pro now. I'm no longer scared of the crowds, the shoving, the pushing & the pulling. Travelling to work has become a breeze - all thanks to the Mumbai locals. 

Friday, January 08, 2016

Home Sweet Home

Home, that safe haven which opens a flood gate of happy memories. Home, that happy cocoon which forces you to leave behind all the burdens of the world & become a child once again. Home, the big house with the cozy nooks & corners, where you spent hours with your grandparents doing inane things. 

Home for me is Trivandrum. Every road in the city holds a memory for me. The Ganapati kovil in the middle of heavily trafficked Kumarapuram road, where Appuppan did a special pooja for me every Friday, the road opposite the railway tracks where Appuppan banged his odd looking brown & white Fiat against a relative's car (said relative promptly came home & complained to ammumma), Shanghumugham beach & the temple next to it, Azad hotel, Piaco, Kalavara, the Sharjah juice center - the memories are endless.

I shed silent tears every time I enter Trivandrum because everything about the city reminds me of Appuppan. As the road slowly winds up to our house, I always wonder how Ammumma has managed to live alone for the past 12 years, in an absolutely remote & cut off part of the city. Our house is right on top of a hill. The view is magnificent, but the silence & the loneliness of living inside such a large house is a very huge price to pay. 

I've always felt guilty that I've never been able to go back to Trivandrum for work or studies post Appuppan's death. I always promised Ammumma that I would go back to her, but it never materialized. 

Born in Ernakulam, raised in Trivandrum & Chennai, married off to someone in Mumbai (who swears by his hometown, Dilli & brags endlessly about how great the capital is), I think it's safe to say I have multiple personalities. I wear my inherent Mallu hat in Kerala, I become a true blue Tamilian in Chennai & switch to a hardcore aggressive work obsessed machine in Mumbai. Each city holds a special place in my heart. Each city feels like home to me. But there is no place like Trivandrum - the city where Appuppan settled down post his retirement & ensured that the siblings & I had the most happiest childhoods.