Monday, July 22, 2013 | By: Anamika

The Wedding

'Afreen calling'. My cellphone vibrated with its last ounce of battery.
"Jackass!!! how are you?"
"Aami, I'm getting married, next week"

I don't quite recollect the rest of the conversation because it was mostly lost in sobs and whimper. One of my best friends was going to be a wife very soon. Marriage, that is one huge commitment. Afreen's mom was happy and relieved that she got a good alliance, the guy tempting package altogether, huge pay check, reputed family. Meanwhile all of our mommies said something similar along the following line, " see that's what good girls do, get married early, not like you hippies roaming around boasting about jobs and post graduation, despising the holy institution of marriage".

         Back when we were in tenth standard, during the PT periods in the hot afternoons, our gang would perch on the overgrown roots of an old fat tree, chatting, gossiping and dreaming about future. I would declare, "we all will get married at 24, I will have one kid and name him aadi, Afreen will have four kids and Remya, oh never mind, she doesn't want to get married, she will join NASA. Hmm, we all will buy adjacent villas in the United States(closer to NASA of course), and Sree will open a dental clinic there". Only if it all came true...Here we are, barely 23, one of us engaged, others busy planning life ahead, Sree finished her Btech, Remya ditched her dreams of astrophysics and joined for mechanical engineering and I am yet to name my unborn kid (I am not pregnant or even married for that matter!). Our life is no where near what we had planned. The closest we are going to get to USA is probably on the street view of google maps(sigh!).

Afreen was a peppy chatterbox with an amazing sense of humor. After the engagement she became taciturn.We all went for a sleepover at her place, planned a bachelorette party, only to cheer her up. If the wedding is inevitable, why not hope for the best and celebrate?! Like in old times, we gathered, talked about old crushes, their ridiculous nicknames, the broken toilet window at school, opened up the tom cat app, swore at it and laughed till stomach hurt when the cat repeated every uncensored bad word in its squeaky voice, we fought, we lamented over the loss of bachelor life, we were all exceptionally horrible at dancing, yet made sheila ki jawani a memorable one. The mehendi night was amazing. The videographer wanted shots that looked natural and asked us to "pretend" like we were in a busy conversation with the bride, one of my evil friends jumped in, " Afreen what do you want as wedding gift?? dotted, ribbed, ..???" The gang broke into fits of laughter leaving the relatives and videographer to wonder what was so funny. And I saw Afreen smiling...

               We all knew the pain that lurked behind her smile. Tying knot with someone you barely know, with just one week to mentally prepare for the ordeal that is going to last for a life time, to be someone's wife...
There was a time when our life was nothing but fun and joy. Bunked  tuition classes, the sharjah, chikoo shakes, flunked mock entrance exams, patterns drawn on OMR sheets with random answers, the trash talks, long hour telephone conversations, fantasies about favorite film heros, bright nail polishes, sleep overs, humming random tunes in math classes only to distract Afreen who took notes fervently, SOS at the back of notebooks, shared lunches and umbrellas, dead leaves that fell off from the blackcurrent tree in the school, the wind that swept them away with time...

              There are certain aspects of one's character that wouldn't change no matter how old you grow. But marriage is one phase of life that changes everything. You are not that old carefree, alleged hippie anymore, You turn into a loving/submissive wife, protective mother and a humble daughter -in law(?), and then there is no turning back. You are never the same again...

      At the wedding I saw the name of the bride and groom written in fancy sparkling bold lettered thermocol. 'Afreen weds Ishaan' . I never knew how painful it was to see my best friend's name up there. It is a symbol of separation,lose but also a ray of hope that he will take care of her, stand by her side in pain and happiness. I went upto the stage and gave her a warm hug. Guess I needed it more than the bride herself. I congratulated the groom and gave him that "If you hurt her, I will find you and I will kill you" look (Man,I always wanted to do that!!). I walked away. It is the end of an era.

A week after the wedding, my whatsapp blinked. " OMG, I LOVE HIM!!" with lots of assorted smileys that implied the same. It's time to let go her go, with her man...God Bless.
Tuesday, July 9, 2013 | By: Anamika

The Last Jounrney

I dragged my heavy luggage through the platform looking for an empty seat. The familiar voice echoed in the station, " Yatriyaan kripaya dhyan deejiye, train no,XXXX, thiruvanthapuram se hokar calicut thak jaane waali janshatabdi express platform no 2 par aane ki sambhavna he". I had an epiphany that this is my last journey from college back to home. Four years of pointless slogging for a B tech degree is over.

        I refuse to brood on the four years, time spent not so well. But every train journey has been memorable. I would give an arm and leg for another journey with my fellow mates. The most notorious members of the gang, Deepak and I use to walk in through the train crossing the pantry car, through the jam packed compartments, ignoring the visibly annoyed passengers, we would slow down occasionally to award a cold stare to the jerks who crowded the passage to take advantage of the gorgeous girl( that would be me!) who would walk in. We would walk till we reach the last compartment and then return. Finally we would settle down in our respective seats which are usually scattered across the compartment, thanks to IRCTC's insensible automated seat allocation system. Having been a regular passenger in this train for four years, I almost know the chaiwala and biscuit wala on a first name basis. I would wait for the regular "layssh bisshcut choclate" wala. His name is Ahmed. Found that out from the name tag pinned to his uniform. I would buy the green lays and choclate chips claddded gooday biscuits.

       After I have my fill I sit back and enjoy the scenery of the paddy fields and backwaters, the suns setting around the time when it reaches Alleppey, the neon lights shone brightly near the backwaters of Cochin Sometimes it rains. Sometimes the wind is chilly and I enjoy the flying of my hair in the wind and sit there pretending to be one of those Bollywood heroines with a background score playing. Sometimes I doze off drooling over my laptop bag which would be skillfully positioned as a pillow. Sometimes I wander off from a boring book and slip into a reverie. Sometimes I plug in my earphones to remain in a blissful oblivion.

          Everyone loves to rain on my parade! There are those annoying curious passengers who interrupt the reading, music or the pretentious heroine thingy of mine, the old grandmas who innocently offer eatables and I politely decline. Then there are these hunks who believe themselves to be the doppelgangers of
Tom cruise and John Abraham and looks like they ran into a staring contest at girls.
     There is something captivating about every place the train stops ( Let's skip the imagery of the dirty railway tracks for now)  , an incident or a person associated with each place reminding me of the old times.
Calicut, the hometown of my best buddy, Shornur from where a college mate of mine boards the train and her parents wave her goodbye like it's her bidaai time after the wedding, all touchy and mushy.
Thrissur, days of horror at entrance coaching centre, Eranamkulam, the growing metro, Alleppey the town that I have never visited, the Kottayam tunnels which blacks out the train and I jokingly warn Deepak that I might let out a scream when blacks out, tricking others to think that he did the unspeakable and might get beaten up by the passengers in the process. He replies with a vicious grin that if he's getting beaten up for nothing, he would rather do the unspeakable and then get beaten up. My inner demon laughs at me and I shut up. Finally i would reach my station Tirur, get down, give away my backpack to mommy and sit silently at the backseat of the car and doze off.

 My last journey wasn't any of this. I was too tired carrying the luggage, everyone was held up in a myriad of emotions of the last good byes being said. Ahmed was no where to be seen, no lays and biscuits to bid farewell to. I brushed away my choking feeling under the carpet and dozed off.

 Adios Janshatabdi express...
Monday, July 8, 2013 | By: Anamika

Confessions of a Foodie

The mess food of my college always took pride in keeping the young ladies in shape. We seldom ate the mess food: the food was awe-full, ALWAYS! So finally when i came home from that institution not only did i have a graduation degree but a good curve to show off. And then things changed. Being a foodie and being a girl never goes hand in hand. Everyone "ooh"ed and "ah"ed  about how much weight I lost. But, after feasting on the most sought after "mommy's food" like a voracious caterpillar, for over a month, with no proper workout whatsoever I transformed into a humanoid version of an appy fizz bottle.
          After pounding google with a couple of "how to's" of burning fat at all the inappropriate places, I decided to accompany mom on the morning walks. It lasted one day. Who am I kidding anyway?! Why would any sane person on earth want to go for a walk on a cold rainy morning, when she can simply tuck in her blanket and drift off to the dreamy land in the warmth. Next came a set of aerobic exercises i managed to fathom from Youtube. I was left panting like an old dog. Then i decided to skip my dinner. After a sleepless night of stomach gurgling with hunger I changed the diet from null to bananas. This went well until one day I found the fish curry and hot steam cakes waving their aroma at me. I ignored the out cries of the inner angel
and dove in. Screw the bananas! Then came the legendary elliptical cycle which had this fancy screen that displayed pulse, distance and calories burned. I peddled hard like Lance Armstrong heading for the
Tour De France title. 20 mins, burned 500 calories, sweating like a pig gasping for breath.

         On second thoughts, I think I can live with the fact that I wouldn't fit into my old jeans but I sure as hell can eat everything while I have it. I might move out of town in a couple of weeks and home made delicacies will haunt me.

   There, I am all back in square one. I see Deepika Padukone flaunting her curves in Batameez dil, I look away. 3 weeks of workouts and diet control goes down the drain.

                            Let's just say I am not fat, I am food enriched ;)