Thursday, November 29, 2007

Run Run Run away

The cards arrived and I had a semi heart attack. I mean who would have thought one day I would be the lead actor on those golden maroon cards (thank god at least the Ganesh is missing). I have pretty much breezed through all the preps till now - mostly thanks to the BIG distraction called PRETEND PHD. I had thought I am way too cool for an anxiety attack but...then the cards arrived.

Baba laughed, Ma wanted me to take some calmpose (a sleeping pill!), I resorted to taking a long jog to calm my nerves. Now here was the dilemma, I always call A whenevwr I have any emotional misadventure (whether frantic nerves or retarded ecstacy and with me those extremes happen very often) but this time how was I to call him and say "Hey, guess what, I am freaking out about my marriage to you?"!! That's not done, right? (Well, the bitch that I am, I ultimately did do that)

Here is what the Man-who-should-not-have-been-told said when I did tell him "You don't have a problem marrying me. It's the institution of marriage which is making you freak out!" Ahem. Who is the sociologist in the relationship? But, like a good pativrata nari (husband worshipping woman!) I believed him and calmed down. But I confess I am staying very far away from the cards. Don't want another attack. Especially since I don't even have a Julia Robertsian style white horse to Runaway (oops, never realized that he does!)

Well, that was just background justification as to why i am indulging in time wasting tactics when I should be transcribing interviews. Because... the runaway bride-to-be is allowed some therapeutic blog writing. And...what can be more therapeutic than food and travel.
So this is what I came up with in lieu of a calmpose.

Memories attached to certain Food types (!!)

Hot chicken curry = the little broken-down shed -cum-restaurant in Sonmarg, Kashmir. This was the Summer of 1988 and we were rather poor travellers then. Sonmarg was freezing and rainy and miraculously we found this shelter from the storm that also provided steaming hot chicken curry and rotis. The roof was leaking and dripping rain into the table and our food, the green meadows and snow capped mountains were sending in thick fog through the windows and there we were stuffing plates of chicken down our throats...CC has never tasted that good again.

Thukpa Soup = Kaza, Spiti Valley, July 2000. We were four starving and poor travellers again. Kaza is an unwanted break forced onto bus travellers in Spiti valley, Himachal Pradesh. It's a strangley ugly town (an aberration amidst the unreal beauty of the rest of Spiti), full of trucks, barking dogs and ofcourse the restaurant that sells Thukpa (Tibetan soup) that smells exactly like dity socks! When our gang visited Kaza three years later we dared to revist the restaurant and while the adventurer inside us wanted us to reorder the Socks Soup, we chickened out at the end and settled for some Lemon Tea instead.

Farmer's Breakfast, Lemon Tea with Honey and Cigarettes = Green Hotel, Mcleodganj, Himachal Pradesh: This was our favorite breakfast haunt and we spent a large part of our mornings debating on the most perfect combination of pastry, farmer's breakfast (a horribly heavy mix of potatoes, cheese, onions and eggs) and beverage. This HUGE meal at 8 in the morning was inevitably followed by groans of regret "why did we eat so much, now we can't go on a hike" and of course the tummy-ache curer cigarette, Gold flakes!

Half cooked Chick peas and mouldy chutney = El Yunque Rain forest, Puerto Rico: This time we were a fully starved though not-so-poor couple stuck in a half built hut in the rainforests. We had been promised a fully furnished kitchen so all we had taken with us from civilization were a few tins of emergency food. The kitchen turned out to be a room which looked like it had been hit by World War II, all the equipments looked like they were purchased (and last washed) in 1952. So all we managed to eat in the first 24 hours of our stay were some half cooked chickpeas (half cooked becauase there were no micro wavable dishes and the stove looked like it would burst on us any minute) and some mouldy chutney from the mouldier fridge...

Ahhh. now I feel much better! The Horse can wait a few more days :)

Sunday, November 18, 2007

A quick update before I go stalk someone :)

The highlight today was the South Korean woman and Mrs Anon Brahman who refused to give me an interview.

The Doc was doing tremendous business today morning and by the time she decided to see me I had almost become a part of the red plastic furniture in the waiting room. In my red yellow salwar-kameez I fit right in! I was getting more frantic since I knew a landmine of information was waiting for me in the secret room right behind the wall I was leaning on but no one was letting me in. I saw a blue-eyed tall white man walk in with his (perhaps) NRI wife, a Taiwanese woman and the South Korean with a baby. And then another Korean breezed in. The “international” were turning out to be mighty elusive – they got whisked away into deluxe rooms and AC’d clinics before I could even get up from my chair. I decided to try pouncing on NP when she came out of Secret Room 1… I failed.

I waited like a good Phud Stud for her to call me and by then blue-eyed boy had left with his wife. And the Korean was just about to flee so I ran to her deluxe room. Not too much of gossip on that front. The same old Asians are nurturant stuff.

Oh ya, the other highlight - Mrs Anon Brahman (I add Brahman cos she made sure I got that well in my head that she was no desperate lower caste). She was the first to say “No” to my “Do you want to talk to me” question. She looked a little different from the rest of the surrogates – physically. Looked more Kashmiri than Gujarati. She was scared that any publicity will affect the marriage of her daughter in the future. I gave my usual “I understand and respect your privacy” schpeel but she didn’t relent. But funnily, though she didn’t let me take my tape recorded or diary out, nor did she let me sit down, she ended up talking with me for over an hour!

She was one of the only ones this round who accepted that she felt very queasy doing this and would never want anyone to go through what she has. Most other surrogates have been saying that they don’t think there is anything immoral about surrogacy – and only those who don’t understand the process think badly about it. I am sure many of these surrogates feel queasier about the morality of surrogacy than they verbalize but Ms Anon was the only one to accept it. What was tremendously interesting was the way she distanced herself from the rest of the surrogates by bringing in her caste and her family’s overall good economic standing. “The rest of my family is so well settled and rich that if they wanted they could set up my family in just one day.”

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Somebody talk to me

Bah this is boring. I never realized how hard it is to not talk to anyone from 6 pm -10 am. Actually, I had forgotten what it feels like. The labor day weekend during my first year at Amherst was probably the worst. All I had for company was City of Beasts by Isabella Allende. I deliberately read each line sloooowly so as to not finish the book before the weekend got over. Why didn’t I walk out and start exploring the campus? Well, I am not sure you would have if you were alone for the first time in your life in a new country and were as direction dyslexic as I am. I had nightmares that I would walk out and then never find my way back! And then the day that weekend I couldn’t open the can of tuna cos I didn’t know how to use the opener… I walked next doors and knocked on my neighbor’s door to ask for help but chickened out at the end and didn’t give him the real reason for my incapacity (that I had never done any work on my own!) and instead pretended that I have a sprained hand :)

Oh well, getting back to the present, this is not as bad. At least I can walk out without getting lost. But the worst is that there are quite a few people around, still no one to talk to. I see them at the dining common, in the parks. All the men walk by and whisper “Who’s she, who’s she” but no one actually stops to ask who’s me. I keep giving welcoming grins to people but to no avail. Managed to pounce on a girl tonight and didn’t have eat dinner alone, in silence, on a corner table! And then successfully pounced on another victim in the hostel corridors.. two down! Is it my hair? I always blame it on my poor mop of curls…(It can’t be my raised eyebrows. I swear I had them down ALL the time!)

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