Friday, October 27, 2006

Sibling Rivalry

My cousin and I grew up together in Delhi; our Mothers were good friends so as families we met very often. Our dolls used to spend the week at each other's houses, we used to make 'Fanta' by powdering orange drops and then mixing it with Soda, we used to cook food in toy utensils over a candle flame, we used to play 'Beauty Parlor' with our dolls where we would be the beauticians and our dolls at the receiving end of our experimentations. She introduced me to the forbidden Star comics, which were a pictorial representation of a romantic story. Then the kiss seemed a repulsive thing - imagine a man and woman exchanging saliva - YUCK! However curiosity about this man woman thing (however yucky it seemed) made us consume quite a few of this disreputable literature before we were caught.

She was the darling of the colony, everybody knew her, and even my Mother would comment that she is such a bright and lively girl. "Why can’t you be more like her?" She would say. While my cousin's mother would say how quiet, reserved and polite I was and she would say "Why cant you be more like your cousin?" and bemoan the various imagined faults that her daughter had. We were oblivious to all these comparisons as we were very young. Later she moved away to Pune and we wrote each other long letters writing about inconsequential things.

My cousin and her parents visited us at times; she grew up to be a raving beauty with umpteen boyfriends. She used to tell me about some of them and their declarations of undying love while her mother complained to my mother about the pitfalls of having a beautiful teenaged daughter who is addicted to flirting. I was the fat bespectacled serious and studious teen who boys did not talk to or looked at so my mother had no such worries. My mother would say "Isn't she beautiful? She has grown up to be so pretty!" while her mother would say "I wish my daughter was more like your daughter? She is so mentally stable and serious about studies".

Somewhere down the line I would hear that how well my cousin draws and sketches, how good she is at writing poetry and so on. I am sure she also heard many of my imagined or real talents from her mother. Perhaps the jealousy crept in somewhere and started showing up. I still remember the first incident where I was thrilled that I solved the Rubik's cube puzzle, my cousin too wanted a shot at it and said she needed to concentrate and went to her room - alone. Voila! She came out with a solved Rubik's cube, however on closer inspection, I found that all stickers had been tampered with and had been moved around to 'solve' the puzzle. She probably felt that she would be compared to me yet again so she felt the need to prove herself in any which way she could.

Somehow things were never quite the same after that and to this very day, after so many years we still are uncomfortable around each other, we may not show it but its there. The other day she invited us for lunch, my Mother waxed eloquent about her artistic capabilities and the way she had decorated her house while I mentally hemmed and hawed and yawned. May be she did but I have this mental block not to recognize anything that she did and to this day I think that she is the most ordinary looking girl in this world while everybody around me thinks she is model material.

Its just one of those things one cannot change...

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Traffic & Tempers

A ride in an auto rickshaw on a Bombay street is always full of adventure. In addition, it gives you a good workout and digests food faster as the craters on the road shake and stir you in every direction till your insides are all mixed up!

I missed my office transport so I took an auto rickshaw to work and while on the highway I heard a lot of impatient honks behind. The rickshaw driver was of course quite oblivious and thought he was Michael Schumaker driving a Ferrari. Once he awakened to reality, he reluctantly gave way to a Merc right behind, however the Merc was rather miffed that she was not given way so the lady at the helm spewed a few verbal abuses to the rickshaw driver. Michael Schumaker spat in return and drove on with more vigor - it was a make beleive Ferrari versus a Merc!

Anyway Bombay is hardly a place for aspiring F1 racers and traffic played spoil sport to the merry chase (rickshaw sputtering behind a Merc) and Schumaker in a vengeful mood, bumped into the Merc as she chose to halt right in the middle of the road without any indication - just because she is a Merc. The lady emerged screaming obscenities and slapped poor Schumaker and said that he had deliberately banged (strong word - it was just a tap) the Merc. The Policeman, who's main job is to catch hold of hapless souls and collect a little bribe was called upon to listen to the horrific story of a Rickshaw deliberately banging into a Merc, a small crowd gathered around and the Lady in the Merc swelled with self importance and wailed about how Schumaker refused to give way while she was in a hurry to go the Doctor. I was called in to give my expert judgemnet and I went for Schumaker all the way and wished that he had actually dented the Merc! The Merc Lady shouted at me and said how the crowd always supports the underdog and one day I will suffer at the hands of such louts and then I will understand her predicament.

The rotund Policeman, seeing a lot of prospects zipping past him, told the fat Merc Lady "Madam, apna energy mat waste karo aur jaldi kaam pe jao" (Madam, dont waste your energy over trivial things and go where ever you were going). So in all it was much ado over nothing, I lost 15 crucial minutes and got some material to write about in my blog after a long hiatus!

As a closing thought, I wonder if people with bigger, shinier and more expensive cars are ugler, angrier and more violent?