Sunday, May 18, 2008

Shoe Bites

About two months back, I came across this little shop in Oxford street that sold shoes.
They were not magnificent and I thought them to be a tad bit expensive for a student so I banished them from my mind.
A few days went by and I was smitten by a gypsy skirt in my favorite bohemian (Boho) shop called "Tree of Life". I bought the skirt and then my heart turned into a butterfly and went to Oxford street.
They were not really that good, but I kept thinking how cute they would go with the new skirt.
The sweltering heat of the Australian summer turned into a pleasant chill. The Gulmohars stopped blushing orange and oranges filled the supermarkets. My lab book half-filled, with pretty spectra stuck on every other page, I always thought of those shoes when I went for a walk on Oxford street.
Then I decided to get over the silent hankering by actually going out and buying them. So on one Saturday when I had plans to go out with friends in the evening, Riju and I went to Oxford street and got those cute gypsy shoes.
They are those schoolgirl shoes, with little patches of cloth on them and a band that goes diagonally across your pretty foot. I was elated and I decorated myself with the skirt and the shoes and left for the big party.
I sensed some abrasion at the back of my ankle but I dismissed it as a minor incident and kept walking towards the bus stop. The bus took me to the train station from where I had to walk to my friend's house. I sensed a bit more friction when I was trying to cover the steep incline that leads to his house and I was overcome with worry.
We went dancing and I let go with everyone else and my feet began crying tears of pain.
I kept telling myself not to think of it.
It is just a shoe bite and there are so many other beautiful things to look at!!
There was food, dance, lots of beer and all my friends but my mind kept going into my ankles.
The music filled the air but there was only one voice ringing in my ears, " The new shoes are biting you".
They looked so innocent behind the glass in the shop! They almost seduced my feet.
Like those pretty women who turn into monsters when they get control over your life, these shoes began feasting on my feet the moment they were put on.
I slipped my feet in and out of them now and then to ease the pain but every time I strapped them back, I used one of the filthiest swear words from my vocabulary.
When some of my friends commented on them and said that they looked really nice I could hear myself saying "Yeah right!".
I longed for my faithful Adidas sneakers. Or the fifty rupee Osho slippers that I got off the streets in Koregaon Park in Pune. I wished I had my walking shoes in my bag. I rationalized that no one would notice that I was wearing sneakers that did not match with the skirt because the skirt was long enough to hide most of the shoes, which made me feel even more like a complete idiot!
At night, we had to walk back to my friend's place again and I just could not take the thought of keeping my feet in those carnivores anymore. I got out of them and walked home barefoot.
Now there was an added challenge of having a few sharp pricks every now and then on my soles too! Fresh rains had left the roads washed and cold. So every time we saw a grass-lined pavement, I took the grass. It felt so good on my tired feet!
I wished I had not bought them. At least I would still like them because they were not bought. I would go back to Oxford street and tell myself that I would buy them some day and live with that happy thought. Like the cute guy behind the coffee shop counter!! You keep liking him because you don't know that he dropped out of high school, has been in and out of rehab a couple of times and is a big fan of Britney Spears.
So I have a few conclusions from this story...
1) Nothing is as good as it looks like in your imagination.
2) Sometimes, window shopping is better than real shopping
3) It is harder to handle hidden pain when everything looks perfect from the outside.
4) God has a sense of humor. He makes you spend $100 on shoes and then you realize how beautiful it is to walk barefoot on rain-soaked grass.
5) Beauty is but skin deep. :)
6) Shoe bites make you grateful towards all the other shoes you have that don't bite.
7) As Osho says, too much yearning and attachment leads to grief. We should go beyond shoes and learn to enjoy dancing barefoot!! =)

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Measuring Chaos

I vividly remember the first day I saw my supervisors. When I came to Australia, I came with an extra baggage of an "attitude". I was a bit of a snob back then.
When I entered my co-supervisors office, I found that there were little heaps of files and folders all along the floor. He was really warm in welcoming me and suggested a few things that I should read. He happily sat down on the floor and began opening one folder after the other to get what he wanted me to read. I was horrified.
Anything that you want him to read, goes on the floor. His room has a very high entropy!
I took great pride during the first few months here in keeping my desk clean and tidy and decorating it with various things. Somehow as time went by, I turned into one of them too!

Little things make great differences. Like if you are a normal person, after eating an apple you would want to walk to the nearest bin and drop the leftover. However, I found it really hard to get up and go to the nearest bin. So I have a box that is full of crap right under my desk.
All the articles that I read somehow turn into little heaps on their own and arrange themselves in random patterns on my desk. All the shoes I own have somehow made it to the lower rack and still I think I don't have the right shoes every time I am going out.
Australia gives you a lot of coins in change and sometimes my pockets are full of twenties and tens which I dump in a plastic bag that lies on the top shelf of my desk. So my neighbors borrow coins ( without even telling me) when they need a coke from the vending machine.
My flatmate sneaks into the postgrad room sometimes and leaves post-its for me with messages like " Call me when you are free" and I never bother to remove the notes ( or even call her when I am free).
There is a big jar of Vaseline lotion which is also one of the common utilities. So I help people with chapped cheeks and dry hands from the lab.
When things get really unpleasant to look at, I transfer some of the heaps on the desk to the drawers and make it look pretty.
All my Calvin and Hobbes have been borrowed and left their own "hollows" between the other books and I have never bothered to fill those hollows. I am just waiting for the books to come back and fill them on their own.
Inside a merry mess of shopping bags, hair clips, mint, chapstick, mobile charger, paper clips and water bottles stands my tea mug that says "I am wait ..maybe I am not!".
So I think it kind of goes with the whole picture.
The universe is expanding too!! ( Or is it contracting?? I am not too sure)
As long as everything makes sense inside your head ( and heart) it is completely fine to be a little sloppy! :)
Sometimes, chaos is inside you and sometimes it is outside. All the sloppy people I have known since my college days were really organized when it came to where they were going! I had friends who solved problems on the back of bus tickets. In the end it is just how you express chaos and making a mess is really cathartic in nature sometimes. :)
I guess I have a theory there or maybe I am just defending myself!!

Sunday, May 04, 2008

20 Years Ago!!

My mum and dad scanned this picture for me.
I still remember how thrilled I was to get a ready made saree
with a very easy draw-string! Finally I had the freedom of wearing a saree when I played house in the afternoons without having to wake up aai and ajji from their afternoon seista! Although I guess I did that too because I got bored with the same color every time!
One of my greatest ambitions was to become the "Seeta" in Ramayan. I tried wearing it without the blouse to resemble the Seeta in the forests. Being "mom" was the second best. =)
I liked imitating everything my mom did before she left for work in the exact chronological order after her morning shower. I repeated all of that ( including the way she checked if her saree was all in one level in the mirror) and wore everything on my face that she wore ( not in the right proportions though). Complete with two cute bangles in the right hand and my own little plastic watch ( that showed any time you wanted it to show..ah well, actually all watches are like that!) I "left" for work.
Playing the "teacher" was reserved only when imagination was going slow because of a persistent hunger pang. It was a lot of fun playing school with dad though. He used to turn into the slowest or the naughtiest kid in my class and I punished him all the time!
I loved "going to the market" wearing that saree. I picked up a wire basket from the kitchen and plucked a few leaves off all the trees in the garden. That was my "vegetable shopping".
Then there was the classic. Playing "house"! :)

When I look at myself like that, with my hands midway in the air and a silly little jasmine garland hanging off my head, I wonder what I am doing now! How can someone like THAT turn into someone like THIS?
From the girl who wanted to do everything from owning a dish washing and laundry shop to selling ice cream with my tricycle upside down as an ice cream cart, I am amazed at how I ended up being who I am. Not that I am not proud of what I am doing, but the easy moments of childhood that are filled with hope never come back!
When everything is possible.
When if your mom does not know the answer to your question, you believe that no one knows it as yet!
When you can have just as much sugar as you want and still stay as skinny as ever.
The days of drawing doodles on the wall even though there is a whiteboard in your room!
Where happiness is a function of frequency of zoo visits, helium balloons, pani-puri and tender coconut!

I wish I could go back to it ..I think I already did!!
Thanks Aai-Baba! :D