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All about the little things- Happy Diwali!

Anjali Venugopal October 18, 2017 2 COMMENTS

Yet another Diwali far away from home; far from the colour and the lights; far from amma’s mutton curry and delicious mithai; far from the pretty clothes, the jhumkas and the bindis; far from love, farther from the warmth. Vienna in her dreary attire for the day lends little comfort even as I turn to the enormous windows. Little does she realize that I am homesick with every chord in my heart yearning to be a part of the festivities back home in India; pangs of envy creeping up like ivy from corners of my being I didn’t even know existed, as I scroll down my Instagram feed to see my friends with their happy faces gorging on ladoos, wearing happy hues of yellow and orange and red. As I give a glance at this baby diarrhoea green sweatshirt I am sporting as we speak, I can feel the corners of my mouth drooping further down.

Diwali for me has always been and will always be synonymous to my dad; the enthusiasm, excitement and cheer that his soft brown-grey eyes would exude for at least a full month. During the hours we spent in the evenings, planning the budget for the crackers, the food and the festivities for Diwali eve, I would see him turn into a little boy, his bespectacled crinkly eyes barely able to contain their excitement. I remember those trips probably more than 20 years ago that we made to Sivakasi, the hub of super fancy fire crackers, solely for the purpose of purchasing crackers for our home celebration. We would pick some of almost every variety they had; the regular sparklers, the coloured ones which spat out fire in hues of green and red and blue, the flower pots, the flower pots which would whistle on being lit, the chakras, the rockets, oh the ones that would go up and burst into inexplicably beautiful, exquisite designs (those were his favourites) you name it, we had it. After my sister made an appearance in 1995, we made a few adjustments and resorted to local cracker shopping. We would fix a date well in advance and on that date, my sister and I would barely be able to sit through school hours before hopping on to the school bus to rush home; take a quick shower with little to no drama and be ready in our frocks, all set to make the visit to the cracker store.

I still have those scenes in the busy streets of Trivandrum, illuminated all over with cheap string lights in every colour under the sun, etched in my memory. The October-November air always had a crisp and borderline chilly feel to it and just reminiscing about it brings back the same old butterflies I used to feel year after year, Diwali season after Diwali season, in my stomach. Who knew then that we were busy making memories; memories we will take to our graves. I will ever be thankful to our parents for just teaching us that it was and that it will always be about the little things. No fat paycheque or fancy designer wear can ever be a substitute for the untainted happiness we shared as the tightest group of four as we celebrated each day we had together; for utter sense of importance that prevailed in our young minds as we made reasoned decisions, as to what to spend on and what to keep for the “next time” depending on the number of currency notes dad had in his well-worn leather wallet.

Many years have passed since I moved out of my hometown. I run my own home today and I have noticed (and you may have too) the fondest of memories are seldom about the gifts that were showered on me, or anything remotely worldly for that matter. My most favourite memory compartment is, to date, filled with lame jokes, laughs, fights and make ups, walking on dad’s feet, squeezing amma’s hand while we sat wobbling in the auto rickshaw, the great food we enjoyed at our old dining table laid with that white lace table cloth with frayed edges,  the 4pm movies on the television, foolhardy with the sister, the ice cream dates, the trips to the beach, the drives around the city, the tears, the victories, the failures. There is not a single moment that I spent with my little family, the four of us alone,  that I would have had any other way.

Today, although dad is farther away, I know deep inside that this is his time of the year and that he’ll still be grinning his foolish grin maybe still taking a sip of rum and coke from that glass I know so well. Today, I know better than to take things and life for granted; that every moment is a blessing and that there is more than enough time to just stop and smell the roses. Today, I know that tomorrow is not a promise or an eventuality and I make it a point to tell the souls I love, that I love them lest I be left alone with unsaid goodbyes or hugs and kisses that were kept for another day, yet again. Today, I know that it is all about the little things and I sincerely hope you do too. Happy Diwali, folks! 🙂

 

 

 

 

A peep out of an introvert’s window

Anjali Venugopal February 2, 2017 3 COMMENTS

Vienna seems to be losing her mind. It has been snowing like there is no tomorrow for the past couple of days. After having taken a day off from work since I was feeling rather under the weather this morning, I had in my head, a long list of things to do while I stayed indoors in the warmth. Now, on taking a quick recap of events, I realize I haven’t ticked off as much as one item on the list. The clothes that were to be ironed haven’t moved an inch from their spot, the laundry basket is still grinning as he has not been parted from his friends yet, the plants have not been watered, my toe nails are still sporting the bright orange lacquer, quite contrary to what I had planned for the day. But hey, this is my house and I make them rules, don’t I?

Having said all that, a quiet house with only a ticking clock to keep me company, gets me thinking and that in turn motivates me to jot them thoughts down. Before I get in to my pointless blabber, tell me something. How many of you guys flee at the thought of making small talk with people? And how many of you thrive on it? The question is being asked since I am, hands down, one from the former lot. There is nothing that makes me more awkward than just the thought of having to make small talk. Let me give you an example.

*almost every day at work*

My desk phone rings and I pick up.

Me: “Hello?”

Colleague X: “Hi!! How are you?”

Me: “I am all right. Why did you call?”

Colleague X: “Erm well erm okaayy… In the Statement of Claim that you sent to me… yada yada yada”

In short, X took offence, because I was apparently too abrupt and curt. I always end up talking about such tiny details to the Husband in the evening and he invariably tries to tell me how important it is to be polite and all I am expected to do is to just “say a few words nicely”. I ponder about this into the night and make a reminder in my head to ask the caller how he is doing and “be nice”, the next time he calls. The thought that I could have possibly upset the caller, does not sit well with me, because hey! I have an inherently good heart.

*Next day at work*

Tring tring

Me: “Helloooo!! :D”

Colleague X: “Hello, do you have a minute?”

Me:*taking a deep breath and rehearsing everything I had taught myself the night before *

“Of courseee!!! How was your weekend? How is your mother? Did you play rock paper scissors? I like to cook and I made some fancy spaghetti. Ohh and guess what, I bought new undies over the weekend. And the not so happy news is that my landlord is constipated.”

You wouldn’t under any circumstance want to know how that call proceeded. Sigh. How on earth do I explain to anyone with a reasonably sized brain in their skulls that I cannot ‘try’ to be nice without making myself look like an absolute moron?!

Let me get to the point.

I remember, as a child, how I always wanted to be the outgoing extrovert and that is precisely how I projected myself to be. I used almost every opportunity I had, to try to mould myself to be one of them. Even as an 8 year old, I had a knack to understand people and their psyches and I knew that being introverted in school meant, you wouldn’t be picked as the class prefect; you wouldn’t ever be picked to be the lead in the famed English drama; in spite of your exceptionally good language skills, next to that overtly loud, pompous dude, you still wouldn’t stand a chance to be the compère for the annual day; the quiet ones minding their own business were never given the limelight, irrespective of all the talents they meekly mustered; the gist being nobody gave three hoots about you, and I knew, right from that tender age, that was not what I wanted. I told myself that if you were good (be it in whichever field), you had to scream it out. Anything lesser than that would be promptly overlooked. Oh and hey a loud, outgoing sibling in the same school always helped the cause. Apart from that concession, noone was going to invest their time, energy or patience in figuring out if the soft spoken, meek looking characters had anything to contribute, whatsoever. I was so good at pretending to be the extroverted kid that I wouldn’t expect any of my mates from back in the day to think otherwise.

Let this not give you an idea that this mindset is confined within the four walls of high school. That was meant to serve as merely a relatable instance of what the actual social mentality is, in almost every walk of life.

It took me a great deal of self introspection and active tearing apart of the mask I wore, to comprehend that I was an introvert. And today, I am happy and content to be one. The faster I accepted the fact, the easier my days got. I couldn’t possible be more relaxed with the few friends I have in my kitty. I despise loud, flamboyant parties where the music is so loud that one cannot hear the other person speak, so, everyone is just forced to refrain from scratching beyond the epidermis of the conversation. I dread dinner parties with people I just barely know, where everyone speaks about the latest “cool” sitcom or Skrillex’s latest album or the damn weather. 😐 The sheer thought of travel plans with a huge group of people, of whom I know nothing of, beyond their faces, names and professions, makes me want to go hide under the bed and never return. *shudder*

I have always maintained that I am the old, run-down pub, that plays Simon and Garfunkel, kind of person, sipping on undiluted beer in giant mugs with the right amount of froth, with the people I hold close to my heart; where I needn’t care if the colour on my nails match my lips. I want to sit by the bonfire, on a cold night under the starry skies, with the same set of people sipping on some hot chocolate talking about the experiences in life that hurt us, changed us and almost pushed us to give up. I want to go on a trip with the people who are not repulsed by silence; where two of you could be sharing a ride home and there is no incessant pressure to keep talking; when it is okay to just look out of the window pondering about the happenings of the bygone days. I want to share a simple meal with someone who understands that there is no such thing as “awkward silence”; someone who understands that it is okay to eat your own food, enjoying the company of the person in front of you, without having to screech out every 30 seconds, that you are having a good time. I want to sit by the beach holding your hand silently, leaning against a rock in the moonlight, watching the waves wash the shore tirelessly.

Having said so much, do not at any cost, get that inkling that my idea is to make this look like a mockery of the extroverts. It is not. You may not be my cup of tea, but that will not stop me from gawking at you in awe, every cell in my body wondering as to how you do what you do with so much ease and grace. However, next time you find your inner social butterfly at yet another social gathering, remind yourselves in all that clamor and fun to look around you. You may just find the one you will connect the most with, sitting in one corner, at his/her awkward best sipping on a glass of wine, looking around sheepishly. And as they say, opposites attract and maybe, just maybe.. you will thank me for my banter later? 😛

 

My song

Anjali Venugopal April 26, 2016 NO COMMENTS

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I don’t know if this is something everyone goes through, but it’s quite a routine for me.

Let me explain it to you. Imagine you’re sitting quietly at your favourite pub (the one where the waiters know you by your first name and you have your table even if you choose to walk in on a Friday night at 8pm), in your own favourite corner by the large French window, sipping on a cold mug of fine wheat beer, on a sunny Sunday afternoon, away from the crowd, the noise and the dust the city has to offer. You are alone. Not sad, worried or anxious. Not a thought as to whether that young woman in red sitting at the table to your left is wondering if you’re a loner or friendless. You are completely at peace with your own being; you are happy and alone.

Just as you take your first sip from that familiar mug and you wipe that froth off your lip with your sleeve, that acoustic riff starts playing. Of a song you haven’t heard before but you immediately know in the inner depths of your soul that you’ll love, no matter what the song may progress into. As indecisive as you may be with every other aspect of your life, this is one of those rare occasions when you just know..” Yes this is me. This song just knows me.”

You were one of those songs. I was happy in my corner in life when you just walked in. But that moment you walked in, I knew you were that song. That song I’d listen to every single day, till the day I die, maybe after. That song that can pick me up even when I’ve hit rock bottom. That song I’d want everyone I love to listen to; but the song I’d treasure forever. That song which brought a flood of emotion I couldn’t describe. My song.

Home – where the heart is!

Anjali Venugopal April 26, 2016 NO COMMENTS

aI don’t remember the last time I sat with mum on our verandah watching as the sun said goodbye to the day, sharing the neighbourhood gossip, laughing at our own goofiness (yes, it runs in the family), pondering over the happenings of the bygone days. But today, as we did just that, I realised that I’ve been away for a long time and something made me want to pen down a few of my thoughts; about the days that I spent on this same verandah, in my school uniform wishing I could leave this ‘boring’ city for more fun and freedom. And that’s exactly what I did.

Now as I stand at 26 when I’m allowed to live life on my own terms, I feel a strange tug somewhere, a yearning to just.. stay. The wind in my face, the familiar smell of agarbati from the houses nearby, the faint sound of music the wind brought from the temple down the lane and my mum’s laugh made me realise one thing if not anything else.

…as they say, home is where the heart is and mine, is right here.