Friday, April 24, 2009

There's No Fighting The Shoe Goddess

"Let's go shopping" purred, a dear friend of mine "I need new shoes. And, there are SO many sales about town!!"

Unholy glee, crackled through the lines, and, hit me with the force of a giant tidal wave.
I rolled my eyes, in despair, as I struggled to stay afloat.

Not the easiest of things, I assure you.

My hand phone, was wedged, precariously, between my burning ear, and, aching neck.
The desk phone, screamed loudly....rudely....insistently...for my attention.
And, what was more, the dratted EPSON whats-its-number, stubbornly refused to print, a document, of the utmost importance!!!

I, was having, a rough morning.
I, was hoping, to get to the end of my day, with my sanity intact.
And, my friend, wanted to, of all things, go shopping!
Shoe Shopping!!!

"You want more shoes???" I trilled at her, trying to sound, as incredulous as, was humanly possible. "You have so many of them, that, you can give Imelda Marcos a run for her money"

The skepticism, I confess, was, purely, for effect.
I, was hoping, to get her on the back foot, and, out, of the shopping spree.

However, I, had not, bargained on, the fighting spirit of a woman in love...with shoes!!!

" A woman NEVER gets enough of shoes, my dear" She retorted, rudely nudging me on to my back foot.

My plan, clearly, stood a lesser chance of success, than, of keeping the Easter Bunny from the painted eggs at Easter!

I wasn't entirely sure, if, I liked the subtle implication of her statement.
Was that, a, round about way, of, telling me that, I was not true to my gender?
For, a few boxes of shoes?

" Not, EVERYONE, has a shoe fetish, you know" I protested, thinking of my trusty trio.
The black wedges.
The white mules.
And, then, the rather plain brown sandals, which, puts in an appearance, when, the other two just won't do.

I, do, have a few other boxes of shoes, stashed away in my cupboard.
Not, Manolo Blahniks, or, Jimmy Woos.
Or, even our desi designers, for that matter.
It's footwear that I liked, for a few fleeting hours, and, picked without a second thought.
But, haven't, gotten around to unwrapping.

Do not ask me why?
My trio serve me pretty well, and, I, have had, no just cause, to seek fresher pasteurs.

" Hah, you must be the only woman in this planet who is not interested in shoes. It must be, because ,you don't like your feet"

"No way", I retorted back.

But, my protest seemed, a wee bit feeble, even, to my own ears.
Probably, because, she, did, have a point.

Of all the disproportionate parts on my form - thick lips, thin hair, the legendary Indian thunder thighs, so on and so forth - my feet, take, the cake!.

Truth be told, my feet, could, give Red Riding Hood's big bad wolf, a run for his money.
They, are, giant-sized!
In fact, I, could, even, pass off, as Big Foot's kid sister.
Well, if I had been hirsute enough, that is.

My train of thought came to a screeching halt, as, my friend decided to dangle, what she assumed, would be, the proverbial carrot
" Oh, come with me today. Let's get you a pedicure, and, have those toe nails painted too. I am quite sure, that, will make you want to get some pretty sandals for yourself"

Would it?

I raised my bipeds up for a closer look.
To assess, if the exertions of another, or, the chemicals, that, came out of bottles, could redeem them.

My feet, most definitely, looked neglected.
And, it seemed to me, that, my not-so-white toes, glinted reproachfully at me.

Pangs of guilt shot through me, as I looked down at my long, shapely, manicured hands, which presented a stark contrast to my rough, callused, feet.

The poor orphans, deserved a lot more, than the occasional pedicure!

Walk, before, you run, urged the voices in my head.
Tend to your feet, before, you embark on a shoe shopping spree.

My mind made up, I politely turned down my friend.

That evening, on my way back from work, I hit the cosmetology section of a posh departmental store, with a vengeance.
And, came home, with a basket full of goodies - foot scrubs with AHA, a pumice stone, foot creams for cracked heels and rough skin, essential oils, and, a moisturising foot mousse.

I was pleased with myself, and, called my friend to gloat!

She heard me out, as I, proudly, reeled off my list of goodies.
And, then, when I was done, she asked, not without some bewilderment,

" But, why the foot mousse, and, the creams?"

" Well, the creams I need, to get rid of the cracked heels, and, the rough skin. The foot mousse seemed like a good idea, because, it moisturises the skin"

" If you need more moisture, why, can't you just use your regular moisturiser? Or, the essential oil?"

" Because, neither, HAS, the urea this mousse has. And, the literature said, the urea, in the mousse, gives the feet extra moisture"
I could, barely, keep the exasperation out of my voice, and, was hoping, that, the UREA would seal the discussion.
Once, and, for all.

" UREA????"
" yes, UREA"

But, all, in vain.
For the second time, in the same day, my friend, turned tables, on me, with her " Darling, if you wanted urea, you should have just peed over your feet"

As some smart aleck once said, never, mess with the shoe goddesses, of the world.
They, are, as tough as old boots.
And, you, never know, when, they'll drop the shoe on you!!!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

How stupid would I look?

How stupid would, I, look....

If, I tripped, and, fell down on my butt, in full view of my juniors, at work?

If, at a party, I was to prance about the dance floor, with a goofy grin, flapping my arms, like a giant albatross?

If, at a presentation, I am asked a question, I cannot answer?
Or, worse, if I am asked a question, so elementary, that, a cocky brat in school can answer it, but, I cannot ?

If, I sported my thick, cheap, plasticy home wear spectacles, outside my home?

If, I, were to speak up, when, everyone else is holding their peace?

If, I were to sing karaoke, in front of a crowd?

If, I, do not, espouse a cause, that, the world around me does?

If, I, was to lick the sticky, melted chocolate off the wrapper, in public?

If, I were to use my fingers to shovel food into my mouth, at a fancy restaurant?

If, I said no, because I really meant it?

So many ifs......

But, the, question is....Would I really look stupid?

Or, would I, just, be stupid, to, not, have tried it on for size?

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

We Turned One, Today!

It's amazing, how, life, can come, a full circle.
In, just, 12 short months.

This day, last year, the Mad Moggies was born.
Not by design.

But, because, I had had a
rough morning, all thanks, to, a recalcitrant domestic help, and, a blood-thirsty cat.

I was home alone, and, needed a space to vent!

None of my friends were online, to take the flak.
Ging, was sulking.

And, so,I thought, why not write it out, and, put it up for the world to see.

Surely, someone out there, could use the laughs.
Even though, I was not particularly amused by the morning's events!

The rest, as, I would like to say, sometime, in the future, was history.

One post, led, to another.
And, before, I knew it, a good 12 months have passed us by.

Today, I am, once again, tempted to vent.

About, the tribulations caused by our still recalcitrant domestic help, who, finally, threw in the towel.
Who, would have thought, a few goggle eyed spiders, and, the black gossamer curtain hanging in the porch, could result in such a dramatic walk-out!

About, a difficult day at work, which ended with a back-handed compliment from the boss " It is very well written but also know that NOT everyone is as intellectual as you, Rekha".

About, an aching heart, which, misses a much loved one, and, is trying to cope with the pain of longing and desperate need.
About, a stubborn cat, who, mutinously, refused to participate in a home-video experiment.

All, she had to do, was lip-sync to the Birthday Song, and, look cute.
But, guess who had to act as pricey as ever???
My day was rough.
So, I figure, I am allowed a little leeway.
Especially, since, I have made my thank-you speeches, twice before.
In, my 100th post.
And, once, when I counted
the blessings in my life.

Even so, I would like to say my thank yous again.

To my friends, readers, and especially those, who faithfully follow the Moggies.
Post after Post.

To each one of you, who have made me a better writer & thinker.
With your feedback, and, comments.
As I have said before, the confidence, some of you, have in me, scares, the living daylights out of me.

To my toughest critics, and, dearest friends.
Sunita. Vinny. KKay.

You are all, in a sense, as much a part of the Moggies, as I am.

Happy Birthday To Us!!!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Festive Magic

Vishu is right round the corner, and, apart from, channeling all my energies, into, recreating a little bit of the Kerala magic and spirit, in my life, it is also time for one of my nostalgic trips.

Having spent most of my childhood in the arid desserts of the Middle East, my first real experience of Vishu celebrations occurred, when I was, well into my adolescence.

Not that age diminished my enthusiasm for a festival, which, was to prove to be the biggest revenue grosser in an entire year.
I remember, as a kid, I would first carefully draw up a list of potential victims, and then, in the days leading up to Vishu, would drop carefully considered hints about my monetary expectations.
There would, also, be prolonged and heart wrenching discussions, with my friends, about the right amounts to be bequeathed to our younger siblings. Nothing less than a rupee, we would firmly tell ourselves, while furtively, practising at steeling our hearts, to survive the tears and squalls, which, we knew, would follow, on the morrow.

It was, only recently, that I realised, how much of our wonderful festivals, I had taken for granted, as a child.
The excitement of stumbling forward, with my eyes shut tight, in the wee hours of the morning, to start my day with the sight of my face in the Vishu Kani....
The thrill of the chase, as we determinedly stalked our quarries, and, dove unceremoniously, for their feet, to claim our Kai Neetam....
The fun and camaraderie shared with our families, and, extended families...
And, the delicious food, which we would stuff ourselves with, till we lay about, helplessly, gasping for breath...

Oh, Vishu was so much fun!!!
And, back then, I thought it would never change.

Looking back, I realise that Vishu was one occasion, which, brought the extended family together, and, helped them bond better.
It taught us, the invaluable lesson, of Give and Take, which are the two faces of the same coin, and, without which, our lives would remain incomplete.
We, also, learned, to reach out to each other, spontaneously, and, across distances, without inhibitions, preconceived notions or envy, and with this bonding, we enjoyed the day better.

Unfortunately, the fun and spontaneity went out of the window as we grew up, and, life took us, our separate ways.
Today, all of us in our corners of the world try celebrating Vishu to the best of our abilities.
And, often, all that remains of the camaraderie of the past, is a succinct 'Happy Vishu' mail to the family.
Some phone calls.
Pictures, on Orkut, and, Face Book.
And, a few stolen moments, on chat, for a quick update.

I don't know how the rest of my loved ones fare, but for me in a strange land, far far away from the people who matter, Vishu has become more of a forced experience. -something that I do, year after year, with the vain hope of recapturing the lost magic of the Vishus of my youth.

Despite, the careful planning, and, the best of efforts, the food is never as good...
There, aren't, too many people, to plague, or, for that matter, very many, diving for my feet, and, hounding me, for kai neetams...
There is less laughter, and, bonding....
And, with many hotels, and malayali associations, getting into the act, Vishu seems to have become more of a commercial experience, than a family one.

Even so, there are, many of us, who religiously maintain, if not the festivities, then at least the Vishu Kani in our homes.

Is it a habit ,which has waned in strength, but, continues to live nevertheless?
Or, is it, an conscious attempt, to preserve tradition, in a world beset with change, and, speed?

I, for one, believe it, to be, an effort to keep the happy memories going, and to draw strength from it in the current day.
For, when 14th April dawns, and I open my eyes to the sight of my face, surrounded by bounty, bathed by the golden glow of the flame of the Lakshmi Lamp, I feel peaceful, calm, and, aware, of a sense of well being, which pervades my entire being, and, the space around me.
And, in that moment, I know, the magic, though weak, is not entirely gone.

Note: Festive Magic, reproduced with minor variations, from Soul Talkin.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

The Waiting

She was number 58, in the queue.
And he, 59.

As a metallic voice solemnly intoned 'Token Number Twelve', they glanced at each other, distractedly.

And, settled down, for a long wait.

The clock ticked on.

The fans, above, whirred noisily.
But, the oppressive heat, still, weighed heavily on them.
Sweat beads glistened, on her nose.

And, his brow.

Shakira's Hips Don't Lie, suddenly, rends the air.
A cellphone!!

With a sigh, she leaned forward, for the day's Economic Times.
As did he.

Their hands met.
Two pairs of eyes, widened in surprise.
And, then, furtively, slanted towards the other.
Only, to stare straight, into each other's eyes.


Their eyes fell.
On the square of paper, on the table, between them.
Two hands twitched, aching, to seize it.

Once more, they sneaked a glance, at the other.

Caught, again!

He harrumphed uneasily, as, people tend to,in moments of extreme awkwardness.

She leaned back, slowly.
The ET in hand.
Her eyes riveted on the table.
And, her hands, plucking at her sari in nervousness.

He, did not, move an inch.

Moments crawled by, in agonising slowness.

A young boy walking by, dropped his book, in front of them.
As he bent over, to pick it up, his gaze fell on the square, between them.

A wide, gleeful grin split his face.
With an exclamation, he swooped on it.

The man and the woman, looked up at him, thunderstruck.
And, then, at each other, in consternation.

The metallic voice announced Token Number Nineteen.

The boy, looked, once more, at the paper, in his hand, and, marched purposefully, towards the counter.
Still smiling.

He throws, a crumpled bit of paper, over his shoulder.
Which lands, between their feet.

The two, look at it, involuntarily.
Number 60, bold and black, stares back, mockingly.

With a deep sigh, they, settled down, once more.
For, a long wait.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

On Letting Go

A wise man once said, if you love somebody, set them free.

If, the recipient of your affections is truly yours, he, or she, will come back to you.
One way or the other.
Sooner or the later.

And, if not, then, the object of your affection was never yours, to start out with.

Scary, as that is.
Painful, as that can be.
I still believe, freedom, forms the foundation of true love.

Because, it then is about two people being connected, because they want to be.
Not, because, they have to be.

I talk not only about lovers.

Or, spouses.
But also, about friends, siblings, parents, pets, and, even objects for that matter.

The rule applies to anyone, and anything, we have a deep, honest and sustained emotional connection with.

Relationships are not about ownerships.

And, yet, it is the ones we love the most, that, we seek to possess completely.
That, we yearn to belong to.
Body, mind & soul.

I have heard people say that, we, humans, are wired to seek love.

That, true and unconditional love is a desirable emotion to achieve.

Perhaps, it is true.

But, then, is not freedom implicit in the very concept of unconditional love?

So, why are we, almost always, compelled to own our loves?

At times, I, cannot help but wonder, if it is completeness we seek, in the guise of love.
A ratification of our identity, through the most important roles we assume in life, with the most important people in our lives.
An affirmation of our measure of self worth.

What if we love too much, and, are not loved back the way we want to be?
Or, worse, what if we love deeply..allow ourselves to depend..and, eventually, the person we love is no longer there for us?

Like it or not.
Man is a being, driven by needs & wants.
By, feelings and emotions.
And, by dreams and expectations.

Letting go, is never easy.

I have, in the past, sought to insulate myself from the pain of loss by trying to let go.
By, retreating into fortresses, and, feigning indifference.
By, refusing to get fully involved.
But, withdrawal and indifference can, sometimes, make for an unfulfilled existence.
And, the dam of pent up emotions, eventually breaks.

After, painful spells of tears and tantrums.
Of, clinging and pleading.
My way today, is to try, accept a loved one for what he or she is.

To savour the love, warmth and happiness, that fills my being when all is well.
To jealously guard the memories, and, bring them out for an airing when I hit a bumpy road.

My way today, is to listen to the whispers of my soul.

Very often, it tells me to rise above the pain and sorrow.
To strengthen my spirit by looking within, reflecting and accepting.
To channel, and expend, the negative energy in nurturing my passions.
But, above all, to, keep the faith.
And, look forward to tomorrow.

It's never easy.
But, then, the voice of the soul is seldom wrong.

After all, what ever will be, shall be.
Que Sera, Sera.

Or, could it be that the compulsion to own arises from a fear, of not receiving, as much as we put out.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Meet Nick Vujicic

“People say to me, ‘How can you smile? Then they realize, ‘there’s got to be something more to life, than meets the eye, if, a guy without arms and legs, is living a fuller life than I am.’”

Meet Nick Vujicic.
A youngster from Australia, who, was
born without arms, or, legs.

Yes, you heard me right.
No arms!
And, no legs!
Right, from birth.

Now, what would, most of us, have done, if, we were in Nick's, nonexistent, shoes?

Bewail our fate?
Nurse a giant sized chip, on our shoulders?
Lash out in rage, at every given opportunity?

Wallow in self-pity?
Or, would we, just, resign ourselves, to an unremarkable life of dependence?

For, isn't that what people normally do?
When they are afflicted, with far lesser? '

Whine, and, moan, and gripe.
About, how unfair life is?

Well, not Nick.

Nick is a rare human being, who, not only came to terms with his physical afflictions, but, also,rose above his handicaps, to touch the lives of millions across the world.

As you can see, Nick Vujicic, is an example of the triumph of the human spirit .
Of, mind prevailing over matter.
And, of attitude, being everything.

The next time, you are tempted to ask God, 'why me'.
Take a few moments, to think, of a superhero called Nick Vujicic.
Try walking in his shoes.
Imagine, the life, that, could have been.
And, then, ask yourself, just, how badly off are you.

Chances are, you, will find, the silver lining in your dark cloud.
Or better still, a snow white cloud, with no lining at all.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Hey Jack, Back Off!!!

I first heard of Jack, of the beanstalk fame, as a toddler, on my mother's knee.

Amma, you see, often, told me tales from far and wide.
Not to stamp values & principles, on my young, impressionable psyche, as one may imagine.
She did it, because, we both enjoyed it.
There were no morals to the stories, she told.
Nor, lessons to be learnt.
It was a fun 'mother-daughter' activity.
And, the most enjoyable way of getting through the hot, dusty afternoons in Dubai.

Coming back to Jack.
My baby mind was quite intrigued, by this tale of a young lad, who clambered up the beanstalk, robbed the blood-thirsty giant of his treasures, and eventually, killed him.

Giants, are, ugly, mean and stupid.
Plus, they ate humans too.
So, I thought Jack was quite justified.

I chortled with joy, and, clapped my chubby hands in glee, when amma, with a flourish, narrated, how Jack chopped the beanstalk, bringing the giant crashing down, to his death.

And, for days after, I went about, trashing imaginary beanstalks about the house.

Sometimes, it was amma's saris hung out to dry.
At other times, it was the floor lamp, or the sofa, which bore the brunt of my attacks.
I was not allowed to handle the sharp implements required for chopping, and, therefore, had to content myself with trashing!

I cannot remember, how, amma viewed my assaults on her possessions.
But, I imagine, she, probably was, all too used, to my excited role playing.
And, must have laughed it off, indulgently.

Today, I have a whole different perspective.
I am not entirely sure, if I had judged the Giant too harshly.
Or, Jack, too kindly.
For, it seems to me, that, the story, narrated Jack's perspective only.

Come to think of it, it, probably was, written by Jack himself!
Which, explains, why, the world, has never had, the opportunity of hearing, the other side of the story.

That, the Giant was huge and strong, is a given.
But, to assume, that, he was stupid and mean.
To take his Fee Fi Fo Fum, all too literally.
And, applaud Jack's thefts, and, the Giant's demise.
Well, my reactions,now, strike me, as being a wee bit extreme.

After all, Jack, did, rob the giant, of his most prized possessions.
An act, which, would have had, the most reasonable amongst us, baying for the offender's blood.
So, why fault the giant for threatening to bake his bread with Jack's bones?

I guess, personal experience, does have a way of tipping the scales to evenness.
My new found sympathies for the giant, stems from the fact, that, there seems to be an abundance of Jacks, and Janes, in the modern world.

I speak not of the petty thieves, and rogues, who lurk in the dark alleys, in search of hapless prey.
Or, those, who break into houses, to stealthily make off with treasures.

I speak of the lazy, unscrupulous vultures, of our world, who, unabashedly, claim for their own, the creations of others.
The shameless takers of the world!

Their audacity amazes me.
Especially, when they claim to be 'inspired'.
Or, maintain, that, they have merely 'borrowed', or, adapted' ideas, designs, words,whatever, without asking if they can.
When, they, deliberately, attempt, to pass off as their own, what they have shamelessly stolen.
And, especially, when they, nonchalantly, shrug aside their theft, either, as a non-issue, or, with defiant belligerence.

Perhaps, it is that, they aspire, to a few stolen moments of glory.
Perhaps, it is that, they assume, their limited intelligence, entitles them, to take what is not rightly theirs, without, as much as a 'May I ?' or, a 'Thank you'
Perhaps, it is that, they are just plain lazy.
Like, our good friend Jack.

Jack, was a smart, able-bodied lad.
He should have sought his fortune, the honest way.
Dick Whittington did.

I,often, wonder, how Jack's 'happily ever after' worked out?
After all, it was founded on ill-gotten wealth.
Something, that no self-respecting person can be proud of.

Jack, may have, never known want again.
But, did he, live out the rest of his days in peace?
Or, with pride and dignity?
Did, his spirit revel, at having attained his goals, through hard work & honesty?

Somehow, I doubt it.
I think, deep down, Jack must have known, he was nothing, but a lazy, thieving bum.

He may have fooled the world around him.

But, there is no escaping the voice of one's conscience.
Is there?