Has it been that long?


(This is my first attempt at ‘prosetry’. Well, I started to write a poem and it ended up looking like something in between)

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Remember when I was almost run over, as you scampered away

afraid to know, afraid to face?

perhaps loath to look into my eyes,

afraid they might not mirror the transparent love brimming in yours

your brain—left though it is—must’ve been teeming with a zillion impulses;

yet you dug deep and plucked out an eloquent “I like you.”

 

But hey! Who am I to judge your acuity?

A face like pebble and a pace like snail was all I had to offer

speechless and emotionless—giving the pole I brushed past a tough fight

No wonder the cabbie misjudged the turn

If it were not for the rogue thread in my silk scarf, caught nastily in the metal mesh,

my inertia would’ve continued to cause some interesting road incidents.

Remember? The green D’day scarf?

Ohhh! Who am I talking colors with!

 

I think you were still walking your crazy sprint-walk

perhaps warming up for a run in case you got slapped

What if this is a prank? I thought of all your capers I shamelessly fell for

What if his friends are hiding in, ready on cue to point fingers and laugh in unison?

 

You looked prepared for a slap—stoic, with a pose slightly biased to the dominant right cheek

If it were indeed a prank, you had the makings of a Broadway star

 

I wasn’t too psyched to embark on a ride this time

So, I asked “Are you kidding with me?”, betraying all my naiveté mid-question

“No, not at all.” Phew! Not a slap so far!

“Then, are you serious?” I was the champ at asking insightful questions 

“Yeah.Yes. Of course.” You were always the glib one

 

Okay, this is a proposal, no doubt now. 

I have to respond, but I don’t know how

A mere “yes”?—too pedestrian

“I love you too”?—dripping with desperation

“Why did it take you so long?”—too histrionic

 

“Same here,” I blurted, disrupting the soliloquy

You paused a teensy bit; I bit my lip

Did my clumsy reply make him second guess? 

And then I saw—a face never quite resplendent

as if my words flushed your pallor a bright cherry red

I could’ve kissed you right then!

 

As I sit down today, to reminisce those moments of childlike joy, of nascent love,

all I can say is that our decade-long (and counting) tryst has had its share of tranquil drizzles, of raging tempests, and of purely transcendent Mumbai rains.

 

I am glad it really has been that long.

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Four things I would do if I were cheated on!


I like to plan things—down to the shreds. It gives me a feeling of faux-security, a vicarious control over my future. You don’t get a second shot most times. I have my proposal all planned—I decided to go with the shrieking and jumping up and down bit, followed by a twinkling tear to go with the diamond. I recently perfected the move I would use to handle the bum making lewd gestures, if he were to come within arm’s distance. And my Nobel acceptance speech has been ready for ages, save the few tweaks I make every time I read William Zinsser (His ‘On writing well’ is a delightful read).

It’s just something I do. Regardless of how unlikely the event is. Which brings me to the topic of my post: what would I do If I were cheated on? This one probably belongs to the hall of fame of unlikely events, but is certainly possible. And, yeah, now would be the best time to call me a twisted, paranoid lunatic for planning my boyfriend proposing to me and cheating on me in the same breath. But, this is a brain child of not only my neuroses; it’s mainly my compulsive watching of Mad men. There have been legends about men philandering, but nothing quite like the spectrum of skirts Don Draper has gotten himself into, scared the living hell out of me.

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My wife walked in on my fivesome! (via google images)

I don’t pretend to imagine what one endures when they gain knowledge of this horrible fact. Even constructing a scenario gives me the chills as I see myself doing things that would need Bobby Donnell to keep my ass out of jail. But, whatcha gonna do? The topic is such that it shoves the vilest of human emotions bubbling to the surface. A relationship hinges on mostly intangible attributes, the most valuable of them being trust. When some jerk stamps all over this already intangible mess, there is very little legal respite you’ve got. I checked it out. Adultery as a crime has no teeth unless you live in Michigan or are willing to settle for $10 in Maryland.

As much as I picture unleashing my feral side at the thought of adultery, I know I am not capable of violence. But, I am no saint either; no turning the other cheek for me. The least I can do is be prepared. So, here I am, shrugging off a thousand sanctimonious voices advising me that life cannot be planned, to present my cheat-sheet—a bite-sized guide for the future me reminding how to get a good deal out of the whole adultery business.

1. Make a kick-ass pre-nup

This should keep most men in their pants, when done the right way. Granted that this is a preventive measure, but what the hell, I am allowed to cheat in semantics. Invest in a good lawyer and make an air-tight prenup agreement; chances are if he’s ready to sign it, you wouldn’t need it at all. If not, you can sleep peacefully knowing you can make him pay through his teeth whenever you want.

2. Leave him

Stop reading what Prudence from Slate magazine has to say. Don’t bother what your shrink has to offer more than a couch to cry out the initial weepies.  Just dump him alright. It’s just not worth the rigmarole of forgiving and starting over. No matter how evocative his pleas of undying love for you, tell him he can shove it up an orifice of his choice. You don’t give second chances; not in this department.

3. Shop! Shop! Shop!

As much as you feel like listening to Adele, shrouding yourself in an introspective bubble, break out of it. Take a shower. Let him do the “what went wrong?” song and dance. You—soak in a spa massage, get those Zooey Deschanel bangs you thought you were too old for. Or that red silk Valentino number you wishfully gave up tiramisu for. The phrase ‘nothing to lose’ never had more meaning.

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Douches come in all sizes and shapes (via google images)

4. Learn to identify a douche

You can’t always thwart infidelity, but you can learn to weed out the riffraff early on. For example, if your guy has a friend who needs relationship help three nights a week, he’s probably screwing you over (with a guy/girl? don’t ask). If he is okay with you having ‘headaches’ every other day, yet wakes up looking like a million bucks, he’s probably getting some on the side. Also, if his face takes up as much space in the media as the state of Florida, there’s a good chance he’s the power-driven, alpha-male prototypic philanderer we all hear of. Nothing condones infidelity, but if you approach a tiger like you would, your garden variety cat, then this cheat-sheet is of no use for you!

PS: This post is just a light-hearted take on an emotionally catastrophic event; I do not mean to trivialize it. 

PS1: I am not a rationally closed off femi-nazi who thinks infidelity is a male turf; women cheat too (the relative numbers are irrelevant here). I am sure men go through hell when it happens. So, I give you the stage. Take potshots. Make your craigslist sugar daddy jokes. I’ll root for you. 

My lab mouse, my hero


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My first waking thought these days is not what jollies the day may bring or how much I miss my family in India, but how my lab mice must be doing. If you are a grad student working with animals, you are probably having a déjà vu right now. I think taking care of them and making sure not a single breath goes unnoticed is enough to cure the gravest case of ADHD. Lab animals are like children: you wake up in the wee hours to perform a surgery, monitor it every couple of hours until it frolics, examine its body for the tiniest scratch or hair roughening, nervously fix an appointment with the veterinarian when it refuses to eat. And just when you think you have done everything right, smug that you saved a life, the animal welfare people give a little tap on the shoulder and charge you with reckless endangerment.

“What now?”, you whimper after a thoroughly exhausting day. “Well” they reply, “There’s a little spot on your lab coat. You could have given the mouse an infection. The angle at which you wore your shoe covers is wrong. You could have contaminated the entire department. Also, the tip of your glove touched a mouse whisker during the surgery, thereby breaking sterility, and posing the risk of a fatal infection to the mouse. You should consider yourself lucky if the mouse lives, or else you are in for manslaughter”

You fantasize committing a first degree right there.

You might think that I am exaggerating for comic relief, but everything except the legal jargon is true. Every place of research doing more than a dime’s worth of animal studies has an animal welfare department being a pain in the wrong place. They pick and prod. They make an issue of logically insignificant details. They siphon the money off our grants to install security cameras monitored by secretaries paid to sit on their ass and take pictures of you picking your nose. They make you want to quit your research program and seek asylum in the Himalayas. All in the name of animal rights. This makes me wonder if I slept through some ecological overhaul because there’s no other way this sudden precedence of animal rights makes sense.

I admit I don’t go weak at the knees when I see animals. But, I don’t believe that animals should be cruelly slaughtered at our hands either. Sure, they are defenseless creatures that deserve a right to life without undue pain. The purview of animal welfare should end right there. But, it rarely does. It goes on to put animals right next to human beings in their right to life. The focus is not on the pain or suffering anymore but the morality of using animals for our gain. What is forgotten in this heart-melting love for animals, and I am walking on eggshells here, is: Not everything that lives has an equal right to life. This means it is not barbaric to give humans priority over animals when it comes to their lives.

There is a subtle double standard in the level of contempt for using animals as fodder and for research. Let’s not kid ourselves here; meat eaters take great joy in savoring the fruits of the jungle. We are not exactly picturing the animal squealing in pain while biting into the chunk. Why then the special vitriol reserved for animals used in research? I often see foie gras munching, bacon relishing hypocrites get all ‘holier-than-thou’ about pricking a mouse.  After all, is there a shred of doubt that the lifesaving therapies we have today—everything from aspirin to zolpidem—are a result of animal testing? Any opinion to the contrary would be just that, and a lousy, misinformed one at that.

The best case against the use of animals for research I have read so far is that there are ‘alternative methods’ of testing available. What are these methods, I pray ask? Computer simulations? Bacterial testing? As amazed as I am about technology constantly giving humans a run for their money, being able to predict with a fair degree of certainty, the efficacy and the safety of a drug is yet elusive to its robotic arms. Bacterial or any other microbial modeling might provide an insight at best, but cannot successfully model our complex physiological system. Are we seriously willing to let our animal-guilt make our medical choices? Pamela Anderson might settle for a lipstick that hasn’t touched a rabbit, but would she take a drug straight off the chemistry lab for say, cancer?

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None of the things I wear were animal tested; not even the ones you are looking at!

To this you might say that you do not believe animal testing should be done away with, just that researchers should be constantly reminded what a grand privilege it is. I am taking that to mean less pain and suffering and probably less number of animals where necessary. I am with you on that. Pain relief is necessary where it is justifiable. But, what if the drug is being tested for shock or trauma? It makes no sense to test it on mice that are subjected to neither of those or confound the results by giving them pain killers that would mask the effect of shock. As far as the number of animals go, a consensus exists that the statistical power of most animal experiments is low—that is, it takes a  lot more animals to achieve reliability of the observed results. Thus, by reducing the number of animals indiscriminately, we are defeating the purpose of the experiment as well as dumping the data obtained from the very animals whose welfare we are talking about. Next comes the question of the regulatory steps that need to be taken to prevent cruel treatment. Regulation is necessary, but not to such an extent that it hampers the research it oversees. Researchers invest a lot monetarily as well as in time, for animal research. The cost of the animal, at least in the United States is prohibitively expensive and probably has some kind of ‘sin tax’ built into it. When a researcher is ready to take on the burden of the cost and comply with any justifiable pain relief procedure, isn’t it egregious to hold up the animal welfare card at every step?

Save some severely intrusive procedures on humans themselves, animal testing pioneers  drug discovery today. Period. If we feel the need to show our respect to the little creatures, I suggest we think of their contribution every time we pop a Tylenol!

Chembelle is now aparnauteur!


Hi guys,

I have been toying with the idea of a domain name for some time now, and WordPress made me an offer—a dollar a post! Well, I overlooked my modest tally and took it up. My writing has my name to it now. That’s why you’ve all been redirected to aparnauteur.com.

No need to change your subscription statuses. WordPress promises me it will carry you all forward. No sweat!

Thanks and Keep reading

Cheers

Aparna (formerly chembelle)

5 reasons why you need not fear death while I am driving


Six months ago, I could have been the poster girl for the ad: How not to drive a car. Now, you may roll your eyes and be tempted to Cmnd Q me, amused at the idea that I could possibly offer anything new about car driving. That too in the United states. After all, is there anything more pedestrian, more amenable to multitasking, and after bacon, anything more deep-rooted in American culture than driving cars? There is a gas pedal and a brake. End of story.

I thought so too, when I came to this country. There’s automatic transmission and people follow rules. I was convinced about how much a piece of cake driving was going to be.

Then came my first driving lesson. And another. And a lot more, wedged with bouts of exponentially waning confidence and intelligence. To this day, it surprises me how I managed to up the ante of stupidity with every successive lesson; it felt like I was struggling to say oui in french.

Spare me, bloody Mary!

But, I’m on the other side now, and very much a member of the snooty driver’s club—cursing drivers who stick to the speed limit, making a grudging stop at every red light and outright scornful of any past-me(s) trying to learn. Also, no longer forcing fellow drivers to check their airbags every time they spot me on the road. I owe all of this to my complacent instructors—they dared to assume that I had a basic level of common sense and quick judgment to begin with. I proved them wrong on all counts, and with such élan, that I truly believe there isn’t room for more blunders. Of course, I could be woefully wrong. Until then, here’s what I have gleaned from the tons of driving classes; my precious tenets of driving, if you will:

1. The gas is always on the right 

I have lost count of the times it took me to get this right. I mean I am not directionally challenged, but I have stepped on the gas at a signal, with a stationary car mere feet away from me, so many times that my instructor had to give me the “How many fingers am I holding up?” test to make sure I wasn’t blind.

and stop means BRAKE! (compareautoinsurance.com)

2. Dividers are meant exactly for that

In a typical four lane road with a divider in the middle, it wouldn’t take long to figure out that the divider separates traffic in the opposite directions, right? Wrong. Yours truly saw the divider, decided to ignore it, and almost rammed into a car headlong, hurtling at 45mph, until the significance of the divider finally dawned upon her. (The other driver had my share of common sense to shift lanes and save us an accident.)

3. The rearview mirror needs an audience 

It was probably because my brain was focused on hanging onto the steering for dear life, that my eyes were incapable of axial movement when I drove. I backed up, changed lanes, braked at will, all without glancing at the rearview mirror for once. The instructor told me to back up. I did. He told me to take a turn, and I obeyed like a dutiful medieval wife.

 4. Blind spot, where art thou?

Granted that this is something all new drivers have a problem grasping, but I used to do a head-check for changing lanes when I need not and forget when I should. It took me a while to come to terms with the concept of the curved yellow left-only lanes and the center lanes that merged into left lanes. Wait….did I get that right?

 5. Right indicator; right turn 

There was this one time in my early driving days when I was told to take a right turn. I diligently switched on the right indicator close to the stop sign, halted for traffic and then turned a perfect left, having my instructor bang his head against the dashboard (Well, maybe I am a little directionally challenged.) He told me later, that if I ever succeeded in getting a license, he would consider his job on earth done.

It’s great to laugh at someone’s expense right? I love it too!  Glad I could oblige.  But, just remember: I do have a license now and you know exactly what I am capable of 😉

After-birth abortion: five questions


It all began thus…

Thanks to Roe v. Wade, pregnancy no longer constitutes a legal contract to add a blip to the population radar. The inclusion of abortion as a fundamental right has emancipated millions of ‘don’t-want-to-be’ parents from forcibly raising children in a sub-par, resentful environment. There is enough evidence to suggest that the law was chiefly responsible for the decline in crime in the 1990s. While it continues to be a potent component of our political rhetoric, and has the capacity to incite the most anodyne of minds, there is no turning away from the fact that a pre-1973 scenario is almost unimaginable. However, this hasn’t nearly caulked the seething tension amongst people on either side of the law, with those on the extremes proposing the most equilibrium-disrupting reforms. The personhood stance of the right sermonizing that life begins at conception has been paraded with such heart-wrenching passion that the word abortion cannot be uttered in public without an involuntary tinge of guilt. The left, on the other hand, continues to push the proverbial line of life in the opposite direction, the latest and probably the most controversial stretch being the concept of ‘after-birth abortion,’ recently coined by Alberto Giubilini and Francesca Minerva in their paper in the Journal of Medical Ethics and also discussed very well here.

I attach a high premium to individual liberty, and believe that the decision to carry a child to term is squarely the mother’s to make and it is certainly not the government’s job to intervene. But, this new idea of exercising the right to ‘abort’ after birth seems viscerally repugnant to say the least. What kind of selfish beast would suggest killing a perfectly healthy newborn? It was a little more than I could assimilate, but sparked enough curiosity to pore over the drab-looking journal article on a Saturday morning. I list below five nibbling questions I have about the issue:

1. Do fetuses and infants have the same moral status?

The authors argue that the circumstances that would warrant abortion (pre-birth) should also be valid for a short time after birth, on the premise that the moral status of an infant is equivalent to that of a fetus. Although the knee-jerk reaction to this claim would be to dismiss them as idiots, most would eventually admit that the logic is almost infallible. After all, what is the difference between a nine month old fetus and a newborn? The venue of their existence on either side of the birth canal, right? Is that enough to change the moral status?

This is exactly the question I haven’t been able to wrap my head around, and have to agree with the authors here. There is no moral difference. In light of this revelation, it wouldn’t be a leap to assume that newborns and fetuses have the same rights to life. That is, if one has a right to live, so does the other.

Does this make a fetus a person too? It’s ironic that the authors propose a ridiculously liberal choice and end up making an ironclad case for the pro-lifers.

Hey! I am just the messenger!

2. What makes you a person?

Having justified the moral equivalence of fetuses and newborns, the authors attempt to  defend the next logical milestone—how far into the life of a person can a line be drawn beyond which it is immoral to kill one?  What do you and I have that a newborn doesn’t?

This line of thought is not new to the field of ethics, and is avidly discussed in an essay by Michael Tooley as early as 1972. He posits that simply belonging to the Homo   sapiens species doesn’t provide the fetus a right to live. Only that which is able to attribute to its existence, some value, which would be taken away by killing it, has a right to live. Fetuses, though in a state of rapid development within the womb, are not aware of their existence and therefore, cannot attribute any value to their lives. This, he says, holds true for newborns too. Although they can survive on their own once born, they lack the mental nuance to attach value to their lives. The authors of the paper merely sum up Tooley’s ideology to defend their after-birth abortion stance: since newborns are not persons, ending their lives is not morally ambiguous.

I categorically reject Tooley’s as well as the feebly reproduced authors’ hypotheses, for two jarring reasons: By their flow of logic, comatose and mentally retarded adults—individuals who are unaware of either their existence or any value their lives might have—can be killed without a prick to the conscience, simply because they do not fit into the definition of a person. The second reason attacks the issue much more directly. One would expect a radical statement such as theirs to be backed up by scientific evidence—something that would make it clear as day, the characteristics that differentiate newborns and fetuses, from us. Not even close. Both Tooley and the authors merely speculate on fundamental questions like: When do newborns become persons? A month? A year? When do their brains discern their existence? When does the value-addition process kickstart? Not a single fact; just hunches.

3. Is there a line?

The moral equivalence of fetuses and newborns juxtaposed with the lack of solid evidence to establish the non-person status of newborns draws us close to a veritable cul-de-sac: can a reasonable line ever be drawn?

Some say it is justifiable to draw it at the point of ‘viability’ of the fetus (at about 23-24  weeks of gestation) after which it can sustain albeit with constant medical attention. This is the current legal scenario, with late-term abortions, save severe detriment to the mother’s health, illegal in most states. However, viability of the fetus, which itself is quite arbitrary, was never the crux of abortion rights. This has haunted the most liberal of pro-choicers, and I believe that the line, although imperfect, needs to be drawn at the point of birth for two reasons: The woman’s autonomy over the fetus for reasons of controlling her body ends at birth. Second, though the healthy development of the infant depends on the mother’s care, its existence no longer does. There is a conflict of interest here, which constitutes grounds for protection of the infant’s rights separate from the mother’s.

Am I a person or not? Just f***ing decide!

4. What about adoption?

The line is drawn. A child, once born is entitled to a life. But, there is one problem. What if you don’t want to raise it? You carried it to term, but due to some mitigating circumstances you find yourself unable or unwilling to raise it.  Although most would feel morally obligated to raise the child in such conditions, adoption springs out as a much better alternative, right?

The authors couldn’t disagree more. They say that the psychological distress of putting your child up for adoption, knowing that it is still out there, is disastrous to the woman’s health. Even more than killing a newborn, may I ask?

5. Where are the men?

I apologize for relegating the ‘fathers’ to the tail-end of the write-up, but it’s at least a tad better than Giubilini and Minerva, and for that matter, many more debating the issue of abortion, who conspicuously forget to mention the source of the Y chromosome. That having said, I do not even pretend to state that the man has an equal say in this issue; not at least as long as the woman is housing the fetus. Even then, I have my doubts about the absolute power of women, but that’s for another blog post. The fate of the newborn should be as much the father’s decision—at least for those who are invested in their children. Their wish to raise the child, even if the mother is unwilling to, shouldn’t be quelled to punish the notorious some who flee.

Thus, in addition to the flimsy ‘infants-are-not-persons’ stand, two plausible alternatives to killing a healthy newborn—adoption and the role of the father—are shamefully misrepresented in the defense for ‘after-birth abortion.’

Considering the current political climate, it is highly unlikely that such an issue would ever make it to the legislative table. And, rightly so. But, should that cork such debates questioning the morality of universal conventions? The authors may have based their hypothesis less on science and more on speculation, concluding that it is okay to kill cute, innocent babies. Should they be subjected to ad hominem attacks and death-threats for that? An idea, however abominable, is still just that, and needs to be let into the realm of free inquiry, open to be rationally deconstructed and then shot down. That is the beauty of the system, which I believe is the best way to stoke rational discourse that could someday be law.

An ode to Sunday


Why should I do it?

Can’t it just wait?

A moment of unbridled peace

while I take a break

I want to pause; I want to ponder

Is it such a crime?

Why does the whole world frown

like I am idling on its dime?

I want to pace my morning; soak in the sunshine

wondering if the chirpy birds ever get to whine

I want to savor my coffee, take in every steamy waft;

listen to music daylong, caressing me like a pillow soft

I want to sit by the window dreamily staring at a random place,

imagining I’m in a movie with the camera on my face

I want to take a lazy stroll, crumbling dry leaves along

with an utterly empty mind; mindless of the right from wrong.

I know this isn’t too much to ask,

but it won’t be long before I’m given another task

I know I have to wake up and toil the very next day

which is why I write this for you, my lovely Sunday!

My first skydiving experience


Every group of friends has that one person shooting out outlandish plans, more than once in a while, disrupting the cozy, familiar equilibrium of the others: be it a Nicholas Cage movie, the new Eritrean restaurant (no, I didn’t shorten Mediterranean), an undrinkable experimental cocktail—or in my case, skydiving.

I had always wanted to do it, and it ranked high in my mostly forgotten bucket list, but I was never the kind to just pick up the bag one day, drive down to a place and jump off a plane 15,000 feet above the ground. So, thanks to the relentless persuasive tactics of my friend, seven of us set out for skydiving, high on nervous excitement; higher on smugness. The drive to the airfield in the early morning mist peppered with the our usual chatter and japery set the tone for the day. Most talked about how their emotional blackmail combating skills were put to test, when they had to persuade their parents to let them jump. Sometimes I think living in a foreign country away from parents, takes the greatest toll on them. Here we were, making plans for bungee jumping next, and there they were, sleepless and scared to death, thinking of all the possible ways things could go wrong. Of course, yours truly avoided this quandary by conveniently forgetting to mention it during the weekly Skype call.

We reached the airfield around noon for a 1pm schedule, the chilly air amplifying the sensation that zipped through us as we saw two planes take off. We were going to be next!

All set to take off!

We weren’t nearly the next. First, we had to sign paperwork that listed all the possible ways we could die, and then watch a video where Bill Booth assured us that his equipment could fail anytime. When we finally suited up for the jump, it was nearly 2pm. We were weight-matched with our tandem skydiving professionals and split into two groups. I was in the second, with three others. My tandem jumper was an engineer who sky dove for a hobby.  As he helped me get into my muscle cramping harness, I fought the urge to ask him if the hobby was a new found one. Other than my inane doubts about the tightness of my harness, we didn’t talk much until we got onto the plane. As we ambled out to board the plane, the photo and video crew (at a sweet $90) chronicled every moment with a conscientiousness reserved probably only for space missions: every smile, every hand wave, every word….I felt like a star.

I am about to spit my heart out, but still smiling

I still don’t know if it was the adrenaline or that I didn’t know what to expect, but there was not the slightest tinge of fear until my tandem jumper hooked his harness onto mine. Then, the plane door slid open and fear rushed in like a hungry lion set free.  My jumper mumbled some instructions but he was barely audible amidst the plane rumbling and my heart threatening to burst open. All I knew when I pushed myself to the edge of the plane, resisting all defensive instincts, the wide world below in clear view, was that the guy with me had done this many more times than I ever will. And then, it happened.

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Is my parachute up yet?

 Whenever I had pictured skydiving, the free fall had always seemed like the scariest part. I couldn’t have been more wrong. It is the anticipation of the fall that nearly kills you. The actual fall was over in a blink, and the feeling wasn’t even close to the butterflies you feel in a roller coaster ride. The free fall lasted for about 58 sec (my jumper informed me later), after which I posed for the camera in all the wannabe poses history has ever known (now that I knew I was safe). After I got my money’s worth, we were yanked up in the air by our parachute for the second, more peaceful part of skydiving—gliding. I was literally floating on top of the world and blabbering like a mute person who suddenly found out that he could speak. I wanted it to never end.

As we slowly began our descent like a bird, I felt like it had all ended too soon: the teeth-clenched jump, the screaming until my throat dried up, the wind blowing through my hair like a tornado, and finally the tranquility of the glide. I don’t know about others, but skydiving is surely one of the things I would have regretted not doing; not because I overcame some fear, not because I could put up photos on Facebook (although that came close), but simply because, for those 5 minutes, I COULD FLY!

 

The victory jig

The cherry on top of the cake was my mom’s response to my guilt-ridden call to inform her about it. “Ohh you did skydivingaaa? Isn’t that where you jump off the plane? OK. That’s fine. By the way, I saw your photo on Facebook ….why do you wear such short clothes kanna?”

 

 

Sunset colors


Sunset colors

Top
$48 – movingcomfort.com

Billabong racerback tank top
$26 – jackssurfboards.com

Isabel Marant fringe skirt
€575 – shopmrsh.com

Versace summer skirt
€398 – jades24.com

Calypso St barth
$350 – calypsostbarth.com

Rocket Dog ballerina flat
$40 – macys.com

Oasis flat sandals
$35 – oasis-stores.com

Jimmy choo clutch
£495 – net-a-porter.com

Amrita singh jewelry
$100 – amritasingh.com

Plastic earrings
$13 – modcloth.com

Rubber jewelry
$4.50 – delias.com

Christian Dior retro sunglasses
$325 – nordstrom.com

Designers Remix straw hat
€55 – youheshe.com

Video coach (final part)


Here’s Part 1 and 2 of the story

What followed unfortunately, was a spree of increasing disappointment every day, for four weeks; this was, not because she religiously missed the train, but he did. She tried changing compartments, even trains, but he had vanished, much like a phantom, invisibly haunting her. Even worse, she kept having those dreams that had nothing to do with him, but always ended with the painting of his book in some form or the other. Had her subconscious lost perspective?

The month long wait and her ludicrous dreams assured her of one thing: she wasn’t cut out for anything new. She made peace with her life and sincerely tried to enjoy answering calls. She was on such a call one day, aimlessly scribbling in the in-house newsletter, when something in the budding artists section left her flabbergasted. She could have recognized that sketch in her grave. It even had her signature infinity sign. Only, the name below the sketch begged to differ. Forgetting altogether that she was still on the call, she frantically tried placing his name, certain of having come across it somewhere else: company memos, contact lists maybe and—yes, he had an office on the same floor as her boss. She almost bumped into his nameplate every time she got   off the elevator. But, how did her sketch get there?

It didn’t take too long to figure that out. It was her habit of getting rid of the sketches that didn’t turn out the way she expected, by stuffing them into anything she found in front of her: memos, magazines, dustbins, office booklets, telephone directories—some of which were circulated throughout the place, and thus, picked up by the thieving rascal.   But, there was no time to think about that now. She had to act, and soon. Never was she so overwhelmed that she couldn’t move an inch. She was furious and anxious; emboldened yet hesitant. A sudden burst of resolve jolted her off the inertia and she felt it amplify with her every step. Perfect or not—it was her baby to claim.

She stomped out of the elevator, towards his office, fully prepared to tear the guy a new one, but couldn’t get past his door. Instead, she just stood there, choked with emotion, hands quivering with nervous energy. Every inch of the door was covered with compliments, encouraging words, and bizarre interpretations of the sketch. Her sketch—the one she threw away, the one she thought didn’t deserve a second look—was up there speaking for itself, hungry for recognition. That was when the insight that she had been having in bits and pieces, finally crystallized. The dream about the book was not meaningless; on a subconscious level, she knew what needed to be done, something she didn’t have the strength to admit, until then. Now that it was finally upon her, she didn’t know how to react. First, she wept like a baby, free of shame and restraint, till her tear reserves dried up. Then, she laughed it off taking solace in the fact that all it took was an extremely attractive guy reading an appropriately titled book and some garden variety larceny to get there. More importantly, that moment was the closest to fearlessness she had ever experienced in her life.

Before she steadied herself to make a formal announcement to her boss, she scribbled a little note to the delinquent: “Thank you for waking me up.”

On the way back home that day, she bought The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka, and actually read it.