Streets of Secunderabad 

Low lying houses with large airy verandahs, behind low iron gates. A burst of bougainvillea against the whitewashed walls, spilling. The colour of crushed Indian  rose. The colour of blood mixed in gold. In tufts, in bunches, in surprises. The yards lie swept, resting under the shade of Gulmohar trees. The trees are in full bloom.  Against the overcast sky of the city, the warm red petals seem to house the sun in their tendril like veins. Now and then, a breeze rustles the calm and sends a few red petals flying into the wind, to fall lightly in the swept yards, beginning the day’s decay. 

” Look!!!”, I said, pointing out of the car’s window. 

He looks out and without turning back to face me, asks what I was pointing at. 

” That. Looks good” I say, pointing at the rows and rows of trees and vines bursting with blossoms against the monsoon sky, as if to asset summer one last time. 

” I used to live here” , he says and his face takes on an expression between the happiness of revisiting old homes and the pain of knowing it’s only a visit. 

We reach our destination. We were meeting my friends for coffee and breakfast and we were the first to arrive. I look up to see the   cozy place tucked into an old house. It looked inviting. I take a step in that direction when he stops me.

” Take a walk with me” , he says, pointing to the other direction. 

” why? “, I ask. 

” Look”, he says. 

I see a wide Secunderabad street, lonely and lovely, running brown and quiet, it was perfect to walk on it’s banks. We walk, in the shade of bougainvillea, Gulmohar trees, and the dark clouds that promised an evening rain. 

The ashes from his cigarette fall crumbling onto the piles of leaves raked in, to the sides of the street. One cigarette later, we climbed the stairs to the coffee place, picking the seat farthest from the morning crowd, beside a window that overlooked the street. We didn’t look out of the window.     Time just ripened to a comfortable lull from there on, with a game of cards and three sandwiches thrown in the mix. 

Aside

Road no 12, Banjara Hills

It was this road that ran a good length into Banjara Hills, flanked protectively by luxury brands on either sides. Amrapali, the store read and an elevated cobblestoned driveway led to the side door. I walked in, step matching with Jigi. The first thing I noticed was some girl’s bleached hair, coloured rainbow, falling dry and limp on her shoulders. I turn away to look at Jigi.

” What are we doing here?” , I ask. We don’t normally just walk into a high end store without first drawing gigantic sketches that always concluded on, ” We’ll probably regret it, but lets do it”.

Standing a good foot tall above me, he barely looks at me and says, ” We are buying you a nosepin.”

“Here?”

“Yeah.”

“Yeah, No”

” Okay, I will buy a nosepin. You do whatever you want to do”

I sigh and maze my way to the bathrooms. When I was out, I could hear the lovely Indian classical music pouring right out of the papered walls onto the perfumed air. I could see the china, whose trims were writhed in pink roses and gold leaves. The world was a better place.

Jigi is waiting.

We climb up the stairs and reach our section of the store, that supposedly has nosepins. Well, not the kind my dear boyfriend envisioned. They were the size of a lemon. We laughed and looked around petty towels and perfumes until we got bored and out we went.

The first bubble of laughter from my lips escaped as fast as his first drag of cigarette that he blew at the setting sun. We walked, our backs against the sun, under a velvety blue sky.

Balcony blues 

The light of now isn’t the light that sweeps clean, the remnants of night from the farthest and the darkest corner of your room. No, the light of now, waiting behind the tallest apartment building, morning but barely, awaits the west side of the sky, to try its luck again. 
It escapes, sometimes, filtered, in patches, and pastes itself on my marble floor. What can I do? I am as helpless as you. I tread upon it, dipping my foot in a puddle of morning, and forget about it just as soon as it complains.
It’s time now, it is now waiting, the west windows of my home are painted red in their veins. It again slips through gaps between buildings, snaking its way through gullies, because the night is chasing, and it must hurry. Gasping, stumbling and reddening, it alights on my walls, breathing.
It changes colours, and dies a content death, fading into the fresh paint of my wall. No traces left, but a moist eye here and there, looking out of balconies, mourning.

Locked away in midnight hour 

Only the moist finger tips of a pregnant sky, irritatingly tingling my spine, running down along it, in rivulets, disappearing, but staining my cotton dresses, has the power to keep me awake after a tiring day.

The tiredness stays and stretches as I move about, it’s there, it’s slowly taking over my movements, slowing them down to a slumber. But, the summer keeps sleep locked away in some midnight hour. Till then, I move, as if wading a sea of mud, making my way to the midnight hour, to collapse, body and soul into the arms of sleep. 

And there I’ll lay dead till the hazy morning sun rises above the hills, and etches my curtain’s lace flowers on me, marking its territory. 

“The Trip” and how feminism is misunderstood by wealthy media houses.

The Trip

So, one day, I come across this sponsored content on facebook, which was the first episode of a series called “The Trip”. I watched the first episode. It was stylish, the people were pretty and it had Mallika Dua in it and she’s adorable and incredibly funny.  I went eh and watched. I even somehow, got my boyfriend to watch it. We decided it was very pretend and we continued watching. ( Because, there is something soooooo seductive about bad content)

What is the nonsense about?

Four women, one of them is getting married, they plan a bachelorette, they bond, things go wrong for everybody at some level and they live happily ever after like chickens running around with their heads cut off.

Elements of the show and why they were a jarring pain

The branding – The endorsement and branding game in this series was another level. It was overkill.  You couldn’t get through even five minutes of an episode without being reminded to either blush (Because, feminism is aaaaal about blushing) or glow with the Lakme face wash.  I do not know what the objective of such aggressive stupidity was, but I am never buying anything Lakme ever again.

 The premise –  Oh, so a group of friends who have known each other for a while, get together for a wedding, plan a bachelorette and take a road trip? Wow, tell me more. Its not like it has been done  SO MANY TIMES ALREADY!  What was SO NEW about this that you wanted to make a show out of it ?  Huh ?

The Thailand/ Bangkok Obsession – What have these countries ever done to you, to deserve such negative press? I will just leave the question there for you to ponder over.

The boring romance – The romance between Lisa Haydon and the boyfriend ( Cause, he wasn’t cute enough for me to google his name, sorry) was so cringe worthy. It was like watching someone eat cornflakes at 4 am. It’s stupid and boring and I’d rather be sleeping.

The misguided Effort  You want to make a series about women bonding and getting stronger?  And you thought showing four rich, pretty women with petty issues and whiny attitudes is going to bring the message home?  What else did you think? That the moon was a star ?

The glorification of Consumerism – You watch this show, you will believe that money brings happiness, and warmth and love and a boyfriend and world peace. Money is everything. Buy all the stuff, it will keep you warm at night.

Nothing about the show shows women in a good light. It shows women running around, being petty, living undecided lives, all while they blush and glow in their Ford endeavor car while being comfy in their whisper sanitary pads. 

Oh but Mallika Dua, is lovely! She made the ordeal bearable.

 

Brake lights

The back attaches itself to the car seat, in anguish and boredom. It’s fine. It has resigned itself to the boring wind through  the pockmarked roads of my city. The arm extends, just as tense as it is bored to the steering wheel, fingers gripping the steering in a mix of lethargy and urgency. The kind of urgency boiling water has as soon as it reaches the boiling point. The kind of urgency, that will die out in vapours of resignation. 
And the eyes restless and vaguely registering everything, flick about, returning to the red light. Bathed in the brake lights red wash, that pours through windows and windshield, a temporary life breeds in the red concoction. A life which suspends itself on the impatient, yet resigned wait of a hundred tired eyes. A life which is red, has the temperament of the faintest mist and the personality of a weakly plotted murder scene from a B grade novel. The eyes flick back to the signal and the brake lights, emit their last fierce roar and the signal clears. The red vanishes like a lunatic’s days of lucidity. 

Ms Ihavethedayoff

It was another one of those winter mornings. An endless gurgle of my complaints. This hurts. This hurts. This hurts.

I still woke up, it was already late. I had to get ready and get going. Wooooh! Yeah. I do a little stretch and a jig, a little cinematic bounce up and down. Let’s get this party going.  That’s when a sharp spike of pain from the depths of misery says hello to me. Oh right. Hye. I am on my periods. My incentive dips to subzero. I will mope throughout the day. I don’t want to be positive. No, I won’t do yoga

When I am deciding what to wear after I come out of the shower, half frozen, my phone rings. I am annoyed at the name. I want to snap. I want to tell the person its morning and I don’t take work calls before 10. I still pick up.

“Hello, Good morning”

“Good morning, Zeenath. We are given an off today..  so.. “ I stopped listening. After appropriate amount of time, I said,  “ Yay thanks. Bye!”

I throw my phone on the bed, quickly tip toe to it, make sure the cracked screen is still only cracked and not shattered, I go back to my happy ballet routine. I don’t know any ballet. I just flap my arms about. I have long arms and they are very flexible so they sometimes look graceful. * Slices an arch through the air* See?  No? Okay.

I complete my happy ballet routine and move through the day with renewed energy and a zealous appetite. I don’t need to diet. Not today. And when on periods, it doesn’t count. You are feeding the monster, not yourself. Its forgiven calories. Yes, even the cheese. My monster likes cheese.

Ain’t no drape. 

I like curtains. Not the feeble, lace trimmed, airy ones. Those ones entice the casual stalker, by softening the otherwise hard lines of a woman’s silhouette. I like the thick curtains which once shut, shut out the world with them. They are fierce protectors. Hanging by heavy rods, falling surprisingly gracefully the length of the window, theirs is an oath to shield. 

Let morning come, in all its noise and gurgle, making an embarrassment of itself, gilding the window frame. But these curtains, they only let the faintest hint of the morning breaking outside to the house. Should you permit, should you choose to, you may usher the morning. Should you find your eyes comfortably shutting, you may lie in bed all day, or watch sopranos, and the morning will be sent out, on its way, till it sulks into night. 

Tomorrow is another day. Another choice to make. Till you make it, the curtain will act the secretary to a high seat and only whisper of visitors to you. You have the royal permission of sliding the hoops of your loyal protector through the unfailing rod. 

Winter washes

Winter heavy with a promise of honey sweet sleep washes all that stands sentry to this great city, to just another slave to sleep. In slumber undisturbed, this city slips deeper and deeper into a lull, until it feels comfortably dead. Like a senile’s demise. Snow White head comfortably rested on a flower patterned pillow cover.

The covers smell of fabric softener, reminding the rested head of faintly scented memories in flower fields of yesteryear. So, deeper they slip.  Until its so comfortable, the memories get stitched to their body, like how monroe was rumoured to get her dresses tailored.

Winter cradles these senile heads in its plump invitation and keeps them there, fondly looking over them, until the vulgarity of buds bursting into flowers disrupts the austerity and it sulkily withdraws, casting longing looks at the senile heads. My city then, will be bathed in parrot green colours and no one will miss winter and its black magic.

Bedroom chills

Looking up at eye level mirror reflections, smiles shot at self’s lemon tinged dark, half taut skin stretched over a narrow frame, arms encircle the said frame, a hybrid hug stemming out of defense and love, head falls back letting the curls loose in the morning bedroom chill, from where a giggle erupts. It could go on forever, this self love. But, there are flyovers to be climbed, handbrakes to be pulled, coffees to be downed and a witnessing pending, of an afternoon turning into sweet sweet night.