Tuesday, September 30, 2008

An itch that I cannot scratch....Crafter’s syndrome

Getting ready to fly back to US after my marriage when I popped my bag of paints into my already overflowing luggage, little did I know that I was embarking on a rather perilous road.My dad says that I have always been one for puttering around and doing something creative or the other. From pop-up cards for my brother’s birthday to miniature new year cards for all my favourite colleagues,I have used every birthday as an excuse to think up ideas for a handmade cards for my folks.I still remember a terrible card I made when I was in 3rd standard with white chart paper , a strange velvety flower ,some fresh leaves from our garden alongwith the odd bead or two…and my mom displayed that card for years in her living room even after the flowers and the leaves were long dead and black.Blame it all on her for she was the one who had me painting from the time I can remember,wud churn out roses made from any oddly shaped cloth,baked and iced the most marvelous cakes I ever remember having seen,taught me how to make flower prints with a lady;s finger,dabbled in every craft imaginable and whatever she left untouched ,am currently dabbling in.(also blame her for having induced the reading habit in me ) and blame it on my dad who never thought of discouraging her or me.

But never in my life have I had that continuous itch to do some kinda crafting on a daily basis except in the last few months.And I blame it all on my DH(darling hubby).For some reason ,he decided that am happiest when am doing something creative….and for that reason he wud nag me(yes,nag!!!) me to paint every weekend.I don’t claim to be marvelous at painting but I can draw a tree and not have people ask me if that is a man.And one day while I was deep in thought and planning on dabbling in a craft sometime far in the future,DH asked me what I was thinking abt.I made the mistake of telling him abt that craft and how I wanted to do it sometime in my life….Two days later I found myself whisked off to a craft store and presented with supplies for the craft by a very determined man who refused to listen to any of my protests or doubts abt my abilities.

Am no shopaholic but there is something abt a craft supplies store that makes me go loopy…and so loopy that the thought of the craft store is enuf to make me bounce on my office chair with excitement.I positively love that shop…. Oooooh..I love it so much.I invariably have this urge to take a cart and run down the aisles pulling things into the cart with both hands….Wow!!!The ultimate dream…My normally sophisticated self begins to say things like "Gaa-gaa,goo-goo,peep-peep” and makes me smile at my husband the way my Manager’s 2 year old smiles at me when I make funny faces at her..I can walk into the loveliest clothing store,shoe shop ,even the book shop and walk out without spending anything more than a couple of wistful sighs. But in a craft store, I lose it all. I whiz around ,determined to make the most of my time there.All my five senses work together.In case u are wondering what my sense of taste has to do with some yarn and beads,well, u shud see me drool when I walk into that shop.

I drool the way I did when I first walked into the LA public library and found out that the membership was free,reading books was free,and there was no limit to the number of books u cud check out.The fact that the library is located right behind my office was just the cherry on top. J Sigh!! To quote the bag lady in Chicken soup,God spoils me.

I have heard crafters talk abt their “stash” of supplies and how they are guilty of buying beautiful supplies knowing that they cud make something out of it…and I used to think wistfully abt how I don’t have a stash and dreamt of a white room with lots of drawers and shelves all painted white,with my “stash” all neatly organized and a lovely large table at the right height with lots of proper lighting….and then I chanced upon my next hobby and the dreadful man who indulges me in a way no crafter shud be indulged promptly presented me with supplies for it….and then I was determined not to let him spoil me anymore and decided to finish off my supplies before I bot anymore…I told myself firmly I will not even think of the craft store until I use up my supplies and for some time I was pretty successful….
Unfortunately I have a habit of showing him an idea before I work on it…and that goes for all my hobbies (except cooking cos the man simply cannot read a recipe and figure out if it will be delicious or not)….And so when some of his favorites which he wanted me to work on were put on hold cos I did not have the right colors ,he promptly dragged me to the craft store to get them…
Now to all those women out there who are sighing in envy, let me tell u the man knows what is good for him and what is not…while he willingly takes me to the craft store he also keeps a sharp eye on me to make sure I don’t disappear inside a basket of wool or decide to take home one each of every single item the shop has on sale …Like my dear friend across the seas once put it “ Anup keeps a check on you cos he knows that if he doesn’t some day u are gonna tell him “Sir,wud u please move out of this apartment?The space you are occupying can be used to store 3 boxes of beads,4 ball of wool and 5 bottles of paint””.Chuckle!!!!She has never met me but she knows me so well….

And then one day as I was tidying the house I realized that I have a stash !!!and I have developed the crafter’s syndrome …the tendency to pick every single little thing that u see and instead of deciding if u need it or not,u wonder if u can make something out of it…I find myself having to resist picking up a piece of sparkly paper fluttering on the road. I also learnt that no matter what u do,craft supplies never stay tidy…they are invariably messed up………Most crafters I know have a very messy working area which try as they may invariably ends up in a disorder….Including my mom..when she started a project,every flat surface in the vicinity wud be covered with her supplies and more than once I have had dinner admiring bottles of paint and stuff….
I keep telling myself that someday when I have my white room,my supplies shall be kept in order and all marked and I wont have to pull out one thing just to get to another…and mama and I shall work together in our craft room …wow!!!amazing dream and someday I shall do it….But for now I have managed to tidy up my stash and am determined to use it up and not buy another thing …well…except that bottle of glue and varnish I shall buy today that I really need to put something together with the supplies I bought yday…Dont laugh!!!...Honestly,I need those or the supplies from yday cant be used….!!!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

The tale of Chee-poo

Once upon a time there was a tiny little cat who worked real hard at her job. She caught all the mice in the slot that the cat colony had assigned her and even volunteered for some extra slot time. The cat that caught the most mice would be awarded the fishy bag award at the end of the year. All cats vied for the award and so did the tiny little cat. She worked late hours and skipped her meals. And finally she was so tired that she took 3 weeks leave to go meet her parents back in the town. The tiny little cat caught a bus and traveled for 2 days and 2 nights to reach her home. Her parents were glad to see her. Her dad came to pick her up at the bus station. Her mom had made her tuna patties and milk pudding for dinner. The tiny little cat finally felt safe .Nothing like home, she thought, as she curled up on her warm soft bed.

3 weeks of vacation seemed to fly and soon it was time for the little cat to go back to work. She left with a heavy heart since she did not know when she wud be able to get leave again. And so the tiny little cat got back onto the bus and traveled 2 days and 2 nights to reach her workplace. The next day she cheerfully went to work. She was working in her slot when suddenly her blackberry started vibrating. It was a message from the Old cat. The Old cat was the master of the colony and lorded it over all the other cats. The tiny little cat went to the Old cat and bowed low before him. The Old cat looked at the tiny cat thru half closed eyelids and handed out a package and said “Chee-poo,u have done a great job this year and have caught a lot of mice. But I believe that u can catch more if u try.”Chee-poo nodded eagerly and ripped open the package and out fell a couple of …….peanuts!!!

Chee-poo was shocked. She cudn’t believe it. She looked up at the Old cat and said “Sire, I do not deserve such a low reward for a year’s work. I have worked harder than all the other cats.” The Old cat sniffed disdainfully and said “You let me decide that.”Chee-poo protested “But, Sire, I did not……miaaaaooooowwww!!!!” The Old cat had turned around suddenly and threw a huge fish head at Chee-poo.Before she cud dodge, the fish head hit Chee-poo on her back paw. Poor Chee-poo ran away with her tail tucked between her legs. Her poor foot was swollen and painful.
She sat on the wall of her apartment and wept bitterly. She heard a noise and looked down to see the dog next door whose leftover milk she sometimes lapped at when the dog was asleep. If the dog was awake, she wud chase Chee-poo barking wildly.Chee-Poo stiffened cos she knew with her hurt paw she cud not run fast or far. She though bitterly “Yeah,just what I need. I hope he eats me up in one big gulp. Then I won’t know a thing. Besides who wants to live in this stupid place. I wud be better off being eaten”.
But amazingly, the dog did not seem to be chasing her but regarded in a quiet manner.Chee-poo was surprised and wiped her nose dolefully. The dog kept watching Chee-poo.Chee-poo finally fell asleep on the wall, tired out with her long journey and tears. She woke to find someone sniffing at her. She opened one eye to see the dog standing on its hind legs, front paws against the wall, its nose almost touching her and leapt back in fear, landing hard on her injured paw. The dog said “Fear not, tiny little cat. I was just waking u up for some dinner” and nodded towards her bowl.Chee-poo looked at the bowl in amazement. She limped timidly to the bowl and with a glance at the dog, started lapping at the milk. She half expected the dog to pounce on her but the dog kept watching her quietly.

As she lapped up her milk, Chee-poo remembered her mother’s milk cookies and a half-sob caught at her throat, making her choke on the milk .The dog hurried to her and thumped her back slightly. “Are u O.K?” she asked. The kind tone brought tears to Chee-poo’s eyes. The dog asked her in concern “What happened? Is the milk too hot for u?”She lapped at the milk and looked puzzled.Chee-poo wiped her eyes and said “No, the milk is O.k. Thank you.” The dog asked “Is ur paw hurting u?”Chee-poo looked at the dog in surprise. The dog explained “I saw u limping”.Chee-poo looked at the kind dog and found herself pouring out all her troubles to the dog. The dog listened patiently as Chee-poo concluded “Now I have hurt my paw and I cant work as fast as I used to.” The dog asked her “Wud u earn enuf to eat with a normal work day? Without putting all ur spare time into it? If so y don’t u take up a hobby and do something for urself? U wud be happier and wud not be pouring all ur energy into ur job. That way if u don’t receive the rewards u expect .U wud not be so disappointed.” Chee-poo looked at the dog and said “But what shall I do?”. The dog said “Crochet.” Chee-poo exclaimed “Crochet?!!! But I don’t have a needle and neither do I know how to crochet”. The dog waved a paw and said “I cud teach u and u can use my needle. I don’t use it anyhow”.Chee-poo looked in amazement at the kind dog and nodded agreement. The dog trotted away and came back with a ball of wool and a crochet needle and taught Chee-poo to crochet. And to her surprise,Chee-poo found crochet very interesting. She was excited and wished she cud crochet all day long.
The next day Chee-poo limped to work and caught a few mice under the Old Cat’s sharp gaze but cud not catch as many as her usual day’s work. Each time she felt depressed, she thought of her new friend and that cheered her up. She cud hardly wait to get back and start crocheting again.

In the evening, the little cat limped back to her wall and found the dog waiting for her on the other side and they sat down to crochet….Soon it became a pattern …Slowly the little cat’s paw healed and she cud catch as many mice as she used to. But she no longer worked overtime. She finished her work for the day and came back home to crochet with her friend. But strangely she was happier than she had ever been. She had made a cap for herself and one for the dog. Next she was planning to make a couple of hats for her parents. She ran to her wall and looked around for the dog who normally wud be waiting for her. Today the dog was nowhere to be seen but the crochet needle and ball of wool were on the wall. Assuming that the dog wud be back in a minute, Chee-poo started on her crochet. Still the dog did not come.Chee-poo felt hungry and saw the dog’s bowl with some milk on the ground. She jumped off the wall and drank some milk from the bowl. All of a sudden, she heard a wuff.She jumped in fright and looked around to find the dog come running full tilt at her, wearing the cap Chee-poo had crocheted for her, barking loudly, followed by the mistress of the house.
The terrified little cat fled to her wall and sat on the wall looking down at the barking dog in bewilderment. After a minute, the mistress went back into the house and the dog sniffed at her milk bowl and ran back inside the house. At the door, she stopped and looked back at Chee-poo for a long moment, wagged her tail once, straightened her cap and ran inside.

Chee-poo sat back, her tiny heart was still hammering .She picked up her wool….and looked wistfully at the door of the house, smiled to herself and continued her crochet.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The screaming witch makes a comeback!!!

The last 2 days have resulted in a lot of soul searching...or maybe I shud say the soul searching has been going on for a month but I kept pretending that I did not see it....until today afternoon in a mail to a friend,the cork flew off the bottle and out spilled feelings and thots I had not known existed or rather not acknowledged...For the major part of this year,I have had a feeling that something within me is just not right though I cud not pinpoint it.I asked Anup if I had changed from the woman he fell in love with and he said No..but deep within me,that part of me that has never been wrong,still sent rippling waves that left me feeling disturbed without knowing why...From being a person who was never scared of the world,of what ppl thought,who did just what she felt was right,I became some one who worried abt what ppl thought though I wud not admit it,stopped taking any risks and shut myself up deep inside me...There were a lot of incidents earlier this year that were traumatic..and I suspect they affected me much more deeply than I thot cos the rebel that was me began to conform to the rules...I am not blaming anyone for it...cos its not the responsibility of other ppl to change so that I feel happy...Basically what am trying to say is that I did not handle it all well,I let it affect me and change me in ways that are not acceptable...i cannot change back in just one night..but I can try,,,and try I shall...cos I must if I want to be myself again,if I want the peace I once had...irrespective of what happened in the world or around me....if I want back the strength that was once mine....if i want all the small lovely crazy dreams that I dreamt to stay alive and not die down under the heaviness of my fears...if i want to learn to dance to my own tunes again instead of a sedate walk which is not mine....if I want to learn to fly again without the fear of falling...if I am to enjoy the freedom of flying...if I am to trust again...not just myself but God too....There was a time when I took every risk knowing that God held me close...From being a woman who thot nothing of travelling alone at 3 in the morning I became someone who shrinks from going to the supermarket in broad daylight...I shoved it off as laziness but maybe it was more than that...I dont know...Last week at a fair,I saw a stall for bungee jumping...since I was in my teens,I had promised myself I wud go bungee jumping some day...relish the fear and the freedom of flying...but that day as I looked up at the not-so-tall ledge,a spark of excitement surprised me....I remembered the dream...but as I watched the young woman hold onto the ledge trying to make herself let go and jump,I said to my protesting soul,I cant do that and when it insisted,moved on with the vague excuse that it was not really high and not worth doing...and thus I managed to stay safe...Today when I was writing to friend abt a totally different matter and how I worried abt it,I remembered something I had read on the internet a long time back....
* There is a moment when a trapeze artist has to let go of one bar in order to grab the next. In that moment they are flying and have nothing to hold onto. Life can be a lot like that. We have to let go of what is in order to take the next step.
Remembering to trust the process makes that moment much easier. And it is our choice whether we focus on the freedom of flying or the fear of having nothing to hold onto. *
And something clicked....I admitted that I was scared of having nothing to hold onto where once I had delighted in the flight,of upsetting the apple cart where once I wud have cheerfully upset it and picked up the apples again.....And I acknowledged fear to be the reason why I have not been able to blog for the last 15 days...From not thinking abt what I wrote,I had gone to worrying abt writing something interesting and stopped writing altogether....I dont claim that am not scared anymore...I still am but am acknowleging it instead of pretending all is well....And now that am acknowledging it,am on the path to being the person I loved being...enjoyed with every fibre of my being...and right now while writing the post I feel exhilarated,for I have opened the door to my cage...There was a time when I felt scared of something ,I went right ahead and did it so that I wud not be scared of it anymore....and today when I started this post,I thot I wud not put it on the blog cos ppl wud not understand what am talking abt..Let me rephrase that...cos I was scared that ppl wud not understand.but frankly,it does not matter...cos I write for myself....and its my blog...and if u think this is beyond understanding then I say "Then dont read,darlings".Wow!!!The screaming witch is back with a bang and she is not going to wait for halloween this year.Yipppppppppppeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

A trip down the memory lane...

I want to sniff at a nice smelling "rubber".
Oh yeah!!u read that right.I said I want to sniff at a nice smelling "rubber" not a bloody eraser.That statement should convey the desperateness with with I long to turn time back.And yet again,wearily,I repeat,its not cos of Anup.He still happens to be Mr.Right though at times he does drive me up the wall.But am digressing.
My longing did not happen in one day.It has been building up over a period of months.Scandalous as it sounds,sometimes I wish I had not fallen in love with the man cos had it not been for him ,by now I wud be back in the only country I can truly call home.I wud have returned after a 6 month stint in US.But as fate had lovingly charted out,my life's course took me tripping along the road to matrimony.Make no mistake abt the fact that am happy.Sometimes I wonder what my life wud have been like if I had returned to India for good instead of getting married to Anup.Its a complicated thought cos I wonder if I wud have finally agreed to follow my dad's wishes and settled down with some "nice boy".Since that is something I will never know ,I wish to turn time farther a time when I was 4 years old...

It was the first weekend after I joined school.I had been fascinated by the chalk teachers used to write on the board and at the first chance I got I picked some of the pieces that had broken off while the teacher was writing.At this point I shall confess that I have tried eating chalk and till date believe it tastes good.For that matter,I have tried mud,slate pencil,bits of dried cement and loved it all...Mama,please dont pull out ur hair.It was years ago.If it helps,I promise I dont do it anymore.My mama was getting ready for office and I was the epitome of goodness, cheerfully playing with my chalk pieces.And then for reasons unknown to me till date,my mom took it into her head to tell me not to put the chalk pieces up my nose.To be completely honest,it had not occurred to me to do such a thing till that very moment.I gaped at her for a moment,said O.K.,ran to stand in front of the mirror in the next room and carefully stuffed a chalk piece up my nose.After wiggling my nose at the mirror I came to the conclusion that my nose felt rather uncomfortable and in trying to get the chalk piece out,managed to push it up some more.Now it really hurt.So I decided to run to mama and blurt out the tale.She as always saved me by poking a ear digger(if there is such a thing)up my nose and nudging the chalk piece out.

A couple of months back,mama and I were chatting abt this incident when all of a sudden I remembered another childhood incident of which
she was not aware.It happened when I had moved up to 1st standard,with my days of stuffing chalk pieces up my nose far behind me.I remember sitting next to a female whose name I cannot remember for the life of me.Anyway what I do remember is that this female had a fluorescent orange eraser or rather half of an eraser.And it smelt lovely.It was a teeny weeny piece but once I sniffed at it I fell in love.I always had a thing for nice smelling erasers and to this date when I see an eraser my first instinct is to smell mom always got me the Nataraj eraser which smelt of ...well...nothing at all.So every free minute I got in class,I spent smelling this female's eraser.I wonder if she remembers me but if she does I am afraid it may not be fondly for one day in my attempt to sniff hard enuf to keep the smell in my memory,the eraser flew out of my hand and up my nose.Cripes!!!I did not believe it went up my nose but I cudnt find it elsewhere.Plus there was a feeling of something inside my nose near the ridge.I gingerly felt the ridge of my nose but there was no swelling of any kind to indicate the presence of the eraser.Nothing except a dark suspicion.

I told the female that I dropped her eraser and she was quite cross with me.Later when I was alone,I cautiously put my finger up my nose and felt around for the eraser.Nothing.I came to the conclusion that I had imagined the whole thing cos I cud see no changes in the shape of my nose when I looked in the mirror.But in my heart of hearts I knew it had gone up my nose.Fastforward to a couple of months later when I had forgotten all abt the eraser and we were spending the summer hols at a grand uncle's house in Delhi.All the grown ups were asleep on the hot summer afternoon while I loitered around on the porch.For some reason I had been sneezing for some time and my eyes were watering.All of a sudden,I sneezed a mighty big sneeze and something flew out of my nose and I opened my eyes to look around for the big ball of snot.And my eyes came to rest of a fluorescent orange eraser and in a rush came memories of another afternoon when the blessed object had disappeared below my eyes(no pun intended) and had gotten me a good scolding from an irate 6 year old.I toyed with the idea of picking it up,washing it and giving it back to her.But school was 2 months away and besides,I figured she wud have forgotten abt it or gotten herself a new eraser.

Sigh!!!Uncomplicated life that was!and more often than not,I find myself wishing I cud go back to those days,to the days when bunny and I played scooter scooter on Mom's unused Kinetic Honda,the days of peeking at my first dog while she enjoyed the evening breeze and the smells it brought along,waiting to see how long it wud be before she smelt me and stood up,ears perked,tail wagging,eyes bright,marvelling that she knew I was there though she cudnt see me cos I was hidden behind the wall,smelling mama's fresh laundered clothes(for some reason they always smelt different from my laundered clothes),watching mama drape a sari and wondering why she had to do it the hard way when it made perfect sense to a 6 year old to tie ends of the sari to the 2 cupboards in the room and spin in the centre,thereby draping the sari cleanly on self(this idea was inspired by watching Draupadi's sari being pulled from one end by the kauravas and Sri Krishna feeding her more yards of sari from the wall),waiting for dad to come home for lunch and looking forward to sleeping on his tummy,waking up to find him gently move me onto the bed cos he had to leave for office,listening to all those stories of unnikapakshi and chinnaraman and periya raman from my grandmother,supplemented with mashed rice,sambhar,pappad and crumbled fried fish,planning complicated Onamflower carpets supplemented with dried coconut scrapings mixed with food coloring(it helps to have a very creative mom)...

Sometimes I just get tired of being grown up....and thats when I feel like sniffing at a nice smelling "rubber"