I’m a dingbat.

Really.

I end up in completely avoidable situations such as going on dates when I don’t intend to, unwittingly put my bare bottom on display, and I have this nagging need to be vocal about my feelings when I’ve been drinking. In fact, I’m not even cut out for compassion. I try to be benevolent and do the right thing, but you know where that always leaves, me. In the middle of the road, clutching a thankless scarf.

Anyway. A few days ago, I stepped out of the house to buy stuff from a market that’s always infested with cars, scooters, bikes, and far too many people. I parked a little further away inside a hospital, to save myself the horror of having to wade through the said market.

As I was stepping out of the hospital, I walked past a stinky old lady with one of her arms in a cast wearing garish, hanuman-like, orange clothes, her face full of pockmarks. Her daughter (?) was arguing with a rickshawallah.

Tees, she said as she wiped the sweat from her neck. Thirty rupees.

Typical, I thought to myself. They will argue endlessly with a poor rickshaw puller for what, ten bucks? Look at the old man, toiling in the sun all day long. How can anyone put a price tag on physical labor? If he wants more, pay him more or move along!

I waddled like a buffalo, deliberately taking pains to walk slower than normal in an attempt to prolong my alone time – it’s hard to come by!

I bought what I had to, and stopped at multiple fruit stalls just to check if fruit cost less in this area than where I live and pissed off a lot of fruit vendors in the process – lena nahin tha to itna mol bhaav kyon kiya? If you didn’t want to buy, why did you haggle?

After about 20 minutes, I found myself back where I started – the old lady and her daughter (?) were still there. Bhaiya, chand saleema chaloge, she said. Will you take us to Chand Cinema? The compassionate mother in me reared her head. This was my chance to redeem myself, my good deed for the day. Their destination was enroute to mine.

Aapko Chand Cinema jaana hai? Main us taraf hi ja rahi hoon. I offered to drop them off at Chand Cinema on my way home.

They exchanged a look that was somewhere between can-this-woman-be-trusted or omg-I-can’t-believe-we’re-so-lucky. They agreed.

I dumped all my stuff on Z’s car seat in the back, and helped the old lady in. Her daughter (?) joined me in the front.

I asked how long they had been standing there, and the old lady told me the story of their life. She had slipped and fallen in the bathroom, and her daughter (aha!) brought her here because it was a bigger hospital than the one in their locality. Now they were trying to go back but no auto or rickshawallah was willing to go that far unless they paid a premium. She thought she’d have to walk back, but then I came to their rescue, which was a surprise, because aajkal to sab bahut khudgarz hote hain, koi madad kare bhi to uska bharosa karna mushkil lagta hai. Everyone’s so selfish these days, it’s hard to really trust anyone.

The old lady gave me a lot of free advice – you shouldn’t trust anyone immediately. Who knows what people are up to? Hum to ladies hain, koi aadmi bhi ho sakta tha. We’re women (and therefore it’s ok for you to help us), but it could’ve been a man (and men are untrustworthy in general). She shut up only when her daughter turned to frown at her. I was really really (really) thankful when that happened.

Anyway. I dropped them off at chand saleema. The old woman thanked me a hundred times for being such a good human being, and I tried my best to remain humble.

I drove home feeling really good about myself – the (miniscule) sliver of guilt that I had had when I left home was gone. I parked the car and got out with a swagger, kinda feeling like I was Katrina Kaif in #KalaChashma. (That song has been stuck in my head for a month.)

I was so engrossed I walked a few steps toward my building, then realized I had forgotten all about my stuff.

Only, when I opened the door, there was nothing to pick up.

Yup. I’m a dingbat.

Have you been through anything like this? Have you spent hours on the phone trying to block stolen cards and been pissed about it? When was the last time you stole anything?

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of the randomness of the world

I was outside the VISA office on Monday, willingly allowing the skin to melt off my face as I dreamed of going to America. Even as drops of sweat dripped from between my breasts, I imagined standing inside the Waterfront Park in Seattle, allowing the rain to get everywhere. The lady-behind-the-counter’s voice boomed in my head. “VISA approved” was all I could hear. Now only if the cab would arrive.

I yawned and walked around as the armed guards constantly told me to step away and “go wait over there”. Hundreds of visitors, as hopeful as I had been before the interview, stood waiting patiently in line. I hadn’t noticed this when I was in the line, but people were surprisingly well-behaved. Some of these were parents waiting to visit their children “abroad”. Then there were the people dressed in barely-qualifies-as-formals hoping to appear like “good” people. Some families stood in the shade, waiting to join their teenage kids laughing and giggling in the line at the last minute. But nobody fought with anyone over whose turn it was!

I was lost in that train of thought, marveling at people’s amazing ability to morph into the perfect citizens for a sliver of a chance to go to the US when I realized that the left side of my face was getting warm. That only happens to me when someone stares.

A young girl, dressed casually in jeans and a full-sleeved kurta was eyeing my dupatta. She looked away as soon as she caught my eye, and started fiddling with her phone. Typical, I muttered under my breath. My phone rang, and I felt relief spread through my body. The cab, finally, I thought as I hastily answered.

Hello!

Kaun? Who’s that? The woman on the other side answered. I get really annoyed when people call and ask who I am.

Aapne phone kiya hai na, aap bataiye kisse baat karni hai? Hey, you called, you tell me who you are first.

Ji main Varsha bol rahi hoon. This is Varsha speaking.

Kisse baat karni hai aapko? Whom do you want to speak with? Papa ne kaha tha jab free ho ja is number pe call karna. Dad asked me to call this number when I got free.

Sorry, wrong number. I sounded very irritated, and my pitch was really high. I looked around to see if anyone was listening, and became aware of the girl who was talking on the phone, puzzled, and looking at me, mouthing the words that I heard on the phone.

Sorry ma’am.

What are the odds? Has something like this ever happened to you?

of Sir stinks-a-lot

At the end of a long and weary Saturday at work in 2008, I finally packed my bag and got ready to leave, ever so inconspicuously. I did not want to attract the attention of the infamous Sir Stinks-a-lot who had been paying too much attention to me lately.

The attention-paying had begun with an innocent question about my marital status three days after I joined, followed by a casual “you must’ve got a lot of proposals in school because you’re so pretty”, and then an almost forceful thrusting of a blazer on my shoulders because “you’ll catch a cold” – all on the same day. Needless to say, I was flattered. Only until I realized that he wore the same clothes to work every day and stank like a dead pig that’s been lying on the road for weeks.

I’m serious. In the 18 months that I knew him, he only changed his clothes twice:

  • Client visit (the same day he forced me to wear his coat)
  • CEO’s wedding (he wore the same coat as if to remind me of something)

Anyway. A few months after the coat-thrusting, on a Saturday afternoon, we (four people) were working on a prototype for a shitty client who didn’t even pay for it in the end. I had announced, as soon as I walked in, that I had only until 4 pm – after which I had plans.

So as soon as my work was done and I had sent out the last set of emails, I slyly tip-toed out with my bag slung over my shoulders. I would’ve walked out unnoticed had it not been for the damned door that decided to shut with a loud enough bang to scare the shit out of me.

As I expected, Sir Stinks-a-lot noticed I was leaving, and offered to give me a lift because *surprise surprise* his work was done, too. I told him I was going to Noida, and he said No problem, I live in Noida (for fuck’s sake!) and I silently cursed myself for not saying Gurgaon.

Once in the car, he asked me all sorts of questions about  the purpose of my visit – and trust me, I did not have to answer so many questions the time I applied for a US Visa (that was last week, btw). When he finally figured out I was going shopping, he decided to accompany me.

I had chanted 101 fucks by the time I stepped into the first store. I was going to pick up the same pair of shoes I always have – the red and black converse, but he kept insisting I buy something different this time.

You know how sometimes chewing gum gets stuck in your hair, and you struggle with it for the first five minutes and then, exhausted, you cut your own hair off? I bought a pair of shoes he liked just to get him out of my hair.

But my ordeal didn’t end there. Hey, do you want to get something to eat?

Sure. I wasn’t hungry.

We walked into the nearest Ruby Tuesday. He ordered Rum and asked if I wanted to have a Mojito.

Yes.

I hate Mojitos. Not my drink. We just sat there for forty minutes, trying to make conversation. And then I did it. I texted my (now ex) husband.

Out on a force date with Sir Stinks-a-lot. SOS call needed. He didn’t respond.

Please call ASAP or I will die here. No response, again.

I called from under the table. Called and called until he finally answered, and then hung up. A few seconds later, my phone rang. I’m sure I sounded over enthusiastic as I pretended to be making plans with some old friends to watch a movie. We were going to meet “in ten minutes because the movie starts at 5:30.” Like that’s possible.

So I finished up my second drink, paid, and proceeded to walk out.

Ana! Wait, I’m coming along.

We reached the main gate, and I went kthanksbye on him.

Where are your friends?

Outside!

I’ll walk you out.

No no, I have to meet them at the-mall-across-the-road. They’re buying tickets.

What time is the show again?

5:30. 

You better rush!

Yes. Thank you! See on on Monday!

I walked as fast as I could without raising suspicion. I knew he was watching me, so I dared not go anywhere else. I walked into that mall, bought that ticket, and went in to watch that movie. I hated it. The fact that I had had two mojitos didn’t help.

But I think Sir Stinks-a-lot may have gotten the message, coz he didn’t bother me again. Until he got drunk at an offsite and told me how much he liked me.

Wondering why I brought this up now? Coz I’m about to meet him again tomorrow at a reunion of the old gang. I wonder if he will still be dressed in those filthy denims and that torn chequed shirt.

What do you think? Can a person change? Would you believe a person who wears the same clothes every day for 18 months and stinks really bad, but claims he showers daily? Any perspectives on what has to be wrong with a person for them to wear the same set of clothes every day for years? How would you wriggle out of a situation like this?

of ghosts and stuff

After my landlord stole my denim bra, I was house hunting again. I found a beautiful apartment on the ground floor of a small building that had been converted into a number of small, one bedroom apartments. It was perfect, but people warned me against moving in, because a girl had been murdered in that house. They said it was haunted.

I didn’t really believe them, because:

A. I didn’t want to, and

B. I didn’t want to

(Seriously, ghosts and stuff belong only in the DeadMau5 universe.)

Soon after I moved in, I started feeling like something about the house was wrong. I sought solace in wine and feverish lovemaking with Mister at first, but then the noises became too much and I had to start paying attention to them.

Mister suggested I keep a diary of all paranormal activity – though in my case there were only noises that seemed to come from within the walls. I did.  Continue reading of ghosts and stuff

of parking problems

The guy who heads our admin department is a jackass. There, I said it. Putting my anonymity to good use, aren’t I?

Once, I was sitting on the pot inside the ladies’ loo, pooping. To my horror, someone poured water all over my bare behind from a hole in the wall where the exhaust used to be.

I wrote to the admin head about it, and he didn’t even respond. I crossed him twice during the next hour (yeah, I was loitering on purpose) but he didn’t bring it up.

I know. Jackass.

So today I was talking to a new employee who was upset that he didn’t have a parking spot, and a nice email-chain-triggered-by-naked-attacker memory came back. Continue reading of parking problems