Thursday, February 28, 2013

More than just a cup of coffee

Warm mug cupped in hand
The strong aroma rising up
Sunrise, light breeze
A perfect morning

Icy cold coffee
Balmy summer days
Stretching into nothingness
Indolent, easy times 

Shot of expresso
Morning rush  hour
Insurmountable challenges
Easy as pie

Nescafé, sugar, beaten together
Friends, flowing conservations
Rainy, wet afternoons
Blissful beautiful moments

Cappuccinos, lattes, skinny
Open air cafe
Gossip, secrets aplenty
Bonds for a lifetime

Steaming filter coffee
Family game of scrabble
Some sort of squabble
Tons of laughter

It's more than a cup
It's about family, friends and such
It's for highs and lows
It gives the boost
It provides the calm
It's a companion 
It's a confidante
It's what life should be
Fragrant, rich, sweet

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Sisters...friends forever

From skipping ropes, to skipping class
From listening to the radio, to dancing through the night
From passing down clothes, to sharing accessories
From long car drives, to long beach walks

From friendship bands, to lifelong friends
From kitchen experiments, to fancy dinners
From sleepovers to sleepless nights
From Archie & Jughead, to Harry Potter
From plastic earrings, to diamond rings
From white canvas shoes, to sexy red stilettos
From sneaking candy, to morning hangovers

From acid wash jeans, to maternity pants
From shoulder pads, to toga dresses
From school uniforms, to wedding saris
From beaten coffee*, to vintage champagne
From tuition classes, to office board rooms
From 'house house', to house wife

From playing with Barbies, to raising babies
From innocence, to life
From coming of age, to slowly ageing
From dreams, to reality
My sister have been with me
From there to here
From then to now
From now to forever...

* beaten coffee is a tradition that exists till day and will continue to do so...

The fabulous summer in Pune and Jyoti's wedding

The last time the Punwani sisters were all together- November 2009

Thursday, February 14, 2013

If I were a literary character...

I love books. I started reading early on in life and have not stopped since. I always have a book on me. Always. Hence I am never alone. I don't mind if I am kept waiting as I can pour into my book. Traffic jams are not a deterrent as it simply means I can read longer till I reach my destination. I have devoured pages of books while killing time at doctor's clinics, train stations and the likes. There are some places which are extremely special to me for reading, like the terrace of my building in Bombay, the beach and the window ledge of my apartment in Singapore.

There was once I did not get on a BEST bus in Bombay on my way to work as I saw my colleague in the bus queue. Getting in the same bus would mean idle chatter for an hour an half. Precious time taken away from my book. So I opted to hide behind a pillar so I would not be spotted and wait for the next bus. Just so I could read in peace.

When I was at the salon on the day of my engagement awaiting my turn, the hair dresser proudly announced that there was a bride-to-be in the room. All the women and girls started looking around excitedly for this blushing bride. I naturally had my nose buried in a book and tried to ignore them. The chatter got rather disturbing, so I finally gave up and raised my hand like I was in school and volunteered that I was the girl in question. Must say the women were rather disappointed in finding a bride-to-be more interested in story books instead of fairy tale weddings.

Couple of months ago my brother had to take me to the hospital  in the middle of the night. At the hospital while going through my bag to find my IC, he was amazed that even in my frantic and painful state, I had managed to pack a book.

That is how much I love books. So naturally there are some literary characters I am very attached to. A good writer makes his characters relatable. When you are engrossed in the story you actually believe that some characters are so much like you.

So here goes. My Top Ten literary characters who I think are so much like me. Or am I just like them?

1) Elizabeth Bennet- Pride and Prejudice: Undoubtedly one of most popular women characters ever. A character immortalised by various heroines across the years in movies and TV shows- both in the West and in India. Remember Trishna? One of the best TV shows on Indian televisions. The character was called Rekha Anand. It never ceases to amaze me that Jane Austen created Lizzie's character in 1813. However it is as relevant today as it was then.

Elizabeth Bennet has been consistently described as strong-willed, independent, lively and witty. Her flaw was that she judged people on first impressions, leading to the word 'Prejudice' in the title. 'Pride' part of title comes from Mr. Darcy- every woman's fantasy- whose aloof decorum made Elizabeth and her family think that he is too proud. In this classic tale where romance between the two takes centre stage, love blooms when Elizabeth gets over her prejudices and Mr. Darcy gets over his pride.

I read this book when I was may be 16 years old. And have read it multiple times since then. It is my favourite book and Lizzie's is not only favourite character, but I have always found many of my traits in her. Her commitment to her family, her wilful yet kind nature, her  'handsome but not beautiful features', her independent streak, her temper, her courage to go against norms- I identified with everything that she embodied.

2) Betty Cooper- Archie comics: From classic to comics. I started reading Archie comics when I think I was about 7 or 8 years old. Much to the chagrin of my older cousin who firmly believed I should reach Richie Rich as it was more age appropriate for me. I never liked the 'poor little rich boy'. Super annoying! However I loved Archie comics. I used to entire spend school summer holidays reading them non-stop.
I have always believed that female population of the world is divided between the Bettys and the Veronicas. And yes, the twain shall never meet. I am so Betty. Cute, adorable, kind, loving,  helpful, funny, the best friend anyone can ask for...and still waiting for my Archie...

3)  Hermione Granger- Harry Potter: Smart, studious, sometimes too serious, academic over achiever. Need I go on?

4)  Jo March- Little Women: Another favourite book of mine. One which I have read over 50 times since I first read it in when I was 12. It's also a book that I gift to daughters of all my friends. It's a must read classic for every girl big and small.

A story about 4 sisters set in America in 1870s. The sister I most identified with was Josephine who insisted she be called Jo. Described as clumsy- check; blunt- check; opinionated- check; hot-tempered- errr yes definite check; humorous- final check. Though I have never been a Tom Boy so am slightly different from Jo in that respect, I relate to her in every other way. I cried buckets when I read the sequel  'Good Wives' where her annoying younger sister Amy marries her best friend Laurie.

Side bar- Amol Palekar made a TV show on Doordarshan in the 80s called Kachchi Dhoop which was based on Little Women. It was Bhagyashree's (of Maine Pyar Kiya fame) screen debut. She played the eldest sister. It also had Ashutosh Gowarikar (director of Swades and Jodha Akhbar) who played Bhagyashree's love interest 'Nikhil Sir'.

5) Carrie Bradshaw- Sex and the City: I have not met a man till date who think Sarah Jessica Parker is good looking. I for one, adore her. I loved 'Sex and the City'- the TV show, not the movies. I think Carrie bought to light the modern woman's dilemmas and delights in a stunningly humours yet realistic manner. Is it too lame to say I wish I could write as witty as her? Yes, yes, I know the writers wrote her lines, but in my head it was always Carrie. P.s. love SJP's cameo in Glee-4. Damn, now I have admitted to the extent of my trashy TV habits.

6)  Nancy Drew- Nancy Drew Mysteries: when I was young I fantasised if Nancy Drew ever needed to solve a mystery in India, she would choose me as her partner- language skills, local knowledge, etc are important for a detective. Nancy was smart, little nerdy, a bit of goody-two-shoes and had been described as super girl. I never believed I could match up to her standards, but I think I do have some common traits.

Side bar- I only found out now that Nancy Drew books have been ghostwritten by a number of authors and are published under the collective pseudonym Carolyn Keene.

7) Catelyn Stark- Game of Thrones: because I am so addicted right now to the series in both forms of its book and the TV series, I had to include a character from there. I adore Arya Stark and feel I have her fighting spirit and never-say-die attitude, but she is 10. Anyway I do think I am a lot more like her mum Catelyn, Lady of Winterfell. She is brave, smart, loyal and a devoted mum who would do anything for her kids. Yes, if I ever were part of the series, I think I would be most suited to play her. Though I would want to play...well can't reveal that in public.

8)  Anne- Anne of Green Gables: is a bestselling novel by Canadian author Lucy Maud
A literary classic written as children's novel, which I only happened to read a few years ago. And I was smitten! The story recounts the adventures of Anne Shirley, a young orphan girl sent to a middle-aged brother and sister who have a farm on Prince Edward Island, and who had intended to adopt a boy to help them. Anne (with an 'e' as she believed its more distinguished that way) is bright, witty, talkative and extremely imaginative. I don't think I was like her as a child, but I feel I am now. Anne made friends with the most unlikely people as she believed they were 'kindred spirits' like her. I have met a few such kindred spirits in my life. It's more then mere friendship, it's almost a spiritual connection which is so beautiful that you can't describe it in words.

9) Drupadi- Mahabharata- I don't know where to begin. I felt a kinship of sorts with Drupadi ever since I read Amar Chitra Katha comics. It further developed while watching Mahabharata on TV.

I think she is remembered for all the wrong reasons- a woman with five husbands, reason for the war between Pandavs and Kauravs, her spirit of revenge. People fail to emphasize with her plight. She did not choose to be married to five men. It was forced upon her. She did not urge her husbands to start a war, she only begged them in open court to save her. She has been humiliated, abused, ill-treated and hurt multiple times over. So she was justified in being angry. Drupadi's story is a prime example of the male chauvinistic attitudes prevalent in Indian society then, and to a large extent even today.

Side bar- I would urge all women to read 'Palace of Illusions'. A novel by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni where she writes Mahabharata from Drupadi's perspective. It's a work of fiction, where certain creative liberties are taken, however it does make you wonder if their is some truth in them.

Well here is where we are now...I don't have a no. 10!

I  was going to include Lata from A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth but realised even though I enjoyed the book and liked her character, I am nothing like her. For one, I would have never given up Amit the poet in favor of Harish the Blah.

Then I debated over adding Katniss Everdeen of Hunger Games because I simply LOVE the book, and the movie and Jennifer Lawrence.

However I  would be lying if I said I was like her. Katniss is too strong, too brave and little too emotionless to be like me.

Hence in tune with the times, I wish to propose 'crowd sourcing'. My readers are welcome to suggest literary characters who they think are like me. Simply add a comment on my Facebook post. Would love to hear from you!

And perfect man is someone who loves books as much as I do...What say Ryan?