Tell me, please.

Like all humans, I have a curious mind. The questions never cease. Sometimes they nudge the metaphysical, sometimes the real deal. Most of the times, I satiate myself with answers which suit my sensibility and rejoice in the knowledge tweaked. Sometimes, however, the questions keep coming back. I take that as an indication to become a seeker. Here are but a few I like to dwell on over my tea-at-random-times.

Do try to answer these questions for me, won’t you? Some of them are fact-based, some person-based. Some are directed only at women* (the ones in pink. If you don’t like the shade, join the club. Apparently WordPress won’t). All are excruciatingly wow, though.

* Men, never fear, your penny’s worth is welcome, too. As long as you succeed in retaining the feminine elegance in it.

Do you get your clothes tailored?

We Indian women spend half our lives purchasing fabric, finding the right design to go with it, finding the tailor who we think will magically reproduce the design just the way we want it to look, and finally (and most importantly) argue with the tailor for not quite being a magician. Kurtas, kameezes, blouses for sarees, salwars, churidars. You name it, we get it tailored.

I’ve always wondered if other women of the world have a similarly scintillating occupation. Do you?

Are redheads really the butt of jokes? Why?!

Ginger hair, freckles.. I find them really cute. Sometimes sexy. But I’ve often heard in movies or read in books about their owners being teased because of them. Why is that? Is it because the normal rule of thumb in the human society — “scorn all that is different from you” — is so overwhelming we forget we are potential candidates for the same treatment by a different perspective?

Years ago, I read The Inscrutable Americans by Anurag Mathur. I don’t remember anything from this very entertaining book, though. Except the protagonist’s fascination for red hair he sees on a woman’s head. It is impossible to forget his very innocent question asked with wide-eyed wonder — “Does she have red hair… at all the umm places?” (Well, it’s not quoted verbatim, but I hope the sentence communicates his excitement.)

Do different countries have different air?

If you’ve been to a country other than yours, did you notice the air there? Does it feel different? Is there an unfamiliar — pleasant or unpleasant — feel to it? I’ve noticed that cities display this phenomenon. Jabalpur has a sort of confident, fresh air to it, while Delhi has a haughty, heavy one. Except when it’s really hot. That’s when everything unpleasant gets burned out with the sheer heat and all that remains is glowing tenacity. Mumbai’s air feels zippy and energetic. Balmy, somehow, in spite of the incredible humidity. Do countries show a similar personality? I’ve never been outside of India and this is one of the reasons why I’d like to. To know if the airs have airs.

  Are men fools?

I’ve spent a remarkable amount of time pondering this question. Most of the times the answer comes an affirmative. There are instances, however, when I have to admit it seems they’re just a tad confused. That can be misleading. Take for instance a situation I suspect is an epidemic — if you ask for those pair of scissors with bright yellow handles lying there on the counter-top, it is only a man who can look everywhere but there, and then say, “Why can’t you keep things where I can see them?”

Do you think your college degree has really helped you become a responsible adult? (Assuming you are one.)

It isn’t just about a college degree, actually. This belief that education makes people more responsible, sensitive and whats-that-word-for-being-someone-who-uses-their-brain has never failed to confuse me. I see people who are graduates, post-graduates, and even beyond but continue to make laughable choices. Like trusting the advertisement that offers “revolutionary” things – like, say, a wristwatch the size of a golf ball – help them revolutionise their lives.

Or getting a girl child aborted because a family must have at least one boy to carry on the name. I know of at least two instances where expectant mothers were emotionally traumatised by either the mother-in-law or the mother. One had to abort a girl child (two, actually), while the other was threatened by her mother of being disowned if she discovered during an illegal sex determination that the foetus was a girl and was still going to go ahead with the pregnancy. The first friend had twin sons after the two abortions. The latter has a son. The women who made them abort, or threatened them are both “educated” women. Post graduates. One of them owns a play school.

 Why must people feel better in a dire situation if they come to know others have or have had a similar plight?

I’ve often heard of someone else’s misery becoming an inspirational story for many. Is it because it feels good to know you’re not alone? Why? Or is it because it makes you believe it is possible to overcome the odds, after all?

It’s a strange thing, this. Finding comfort in the knowledge you’re not alone. I’ve tried to understand it, but questions still remain.

Have you ever tried the divine joy of bargaining?

We’re shifting. The packers and movers have been a pain in the arse. Have been. Because, incidentally, a friend who’s a police officer knows the guy who owns the company and has put in a word. We’ve got unimaginable discount! Which goes to show that the company was taking a whopping profit to begin with. I am sure that even after the discount, it’s not doing any charity. The trouble with us, B and I, is that we can’t haggle. B very beatifically uttered the truth this morning, “since we suck at bargaining, we have only one option — have a lot of money.” 

The only place I can and do bargain successfully is in the street-side shops of Janpath, Delhi. One knows the maths. Bring down the quote price to half, haggle until you only have to pay about 60-65%. Cool. It’s been years that I’ve felt that powerful adrenalin invade my bloodstream after a shopping binge in Janpath, but I never forget the pleasure of the kill!

Is it only me who’s impatient with the trendy word usages?

“We gel well.” “No issues.” “Get a room.” “I echo you.” “OMG!” “This vid has gone viral.”

There must be numerous such words, sentences, phrases that began as perfectly brilliant coinages, but have been reduced to, uhm excuse the cliche – overkill, by unimaginative parrots. Do you agree, or should I just cough with embarrassment and go look for another champagne flute?


All the images in this post have been taken from somewhere in the internet, except the one of the birds. My cousin took the picture on her recent trip to Gujarat and I stole it from her Facebook album. Heh Heh.


54 thoughts on “Tell me, please.”

  1. 1. NO Though I would love fabrics and sometimes make my own skirts!
    2 No
    3.Yes absolutely
    5. I do not have a college degree and have had a most extraordinary career.
    6. i don’t feel better finding people who are in the same plight as me. Then I am not special!
    7.I am always too embarrassed to bargain.. we do not bargain in my culture.
    8.I live in a wee house in the middle of nowhere and have very little interaction with other people so i have no knowledge of trendy word usages.

    Well that was fun! is there a grade?.. c

    1. Making your own skirts! That sounds wonderful. I used to sew clothes for myself when I was learning to sew. Couldn’t continue because even though I cut the fabric well, I couldn’t sew to save my life… And yet, I wore some of the salwar-kameezes to college. Just to feel a sense of pride…

      I couldn’t explain the education bit properly, I fear. It didn’t just mean college education. It meant going to an educational institution, becoming literate and have a so-called exposure to the larger world. These are said to be important learning curves in order to hone a person’s intellect and logic. I am afraid I disagree. Like you very wisely say, you may not have attended college, but that didn’t stop you from having an extraordinary career. It isn’t about education, it’s about how you learn.

      Your #6 is interesting, Cecilia. I agree with you, except perhaps I do not feel better because it makes me miserable someone else is suffering the same way.

      Bargaining is such an integral part of our culture these days, it breaks my heart. But I admit I sometimes enjoy it. 😛

      It wasn’t gradable, but you and your thoughts are always A+!

  2. Do you get your clothes tailored?
    Nope. I’m more interested in feeling comfortable and, as I change shape often (blame alternating periods of interest and disinterest in food) I go for clothes that will fit me whatever shape I am.

    Are redheads the butt of jokes? Why?
    Sadly, yes they usually are (but so are blondes). As for the reason, I don’t know.

    Do countries have different air?
    Probably. I know different regions and areas do. For instance, in London where I used to live the air was horribly polluted so there was a heavy unbreathable ‘thickness’ to it, and where I now live it’s rural with wide open spaces and a lot of greenery – also a nearby river and in our own garden a pond – so it’s much fresher and more natural.

    Years ago, on holiday in Israel, I went to Jerusalem and found the air very difficult to cope with, it felt heavy and sort of ‘hung’ in my lungs.

    Are men fools?
    No, they just process things differently from us. Most like order, they like to fit the world into categories (even if they don’t succeed!) I’m not surprised some don’t notice the yellow-handled scissors (the ones in ourhouse are orange handled, by the way) I suspect colour coding is too emotional a context for most of them! 😉

    Do you think your college degree has really helped you become a responsible adult? (Assuming you are one.)
    I didn’t go to college (well, not the type that has degree courses, anyway) and don’t have a degree and… am I an adult? Often don’t feel like one! But aren’t the things you’re talking about more to do with the norms of a particular type of culture than education?

    Why must people feel better in a dire situation if they come to know others have or have had a similar plight?
    I’m not sure this is true for everyone, but for the people for whom it is true, it’s probably just to do with sharing – it puts ones problem in context, that we are all human, that we all share the same problems and that someone else has known the pain we are feeling. However, I think this sentiment can be taken too far – for instance, some people will launch into a long examples of their woes without taking the other person’s feelings – or even their presence or existence – into consideration.

    Have you ever tried the divine joy of bargaining?
    Only on holiday in Morocco in my late teens, and I wasn’t very good at it. I managed to get a small bongo drum and a couple of fringed leather bags for a near-bargain and even the seller wasn’t very impressed with my efforts!

    My husband claims to be very good at haggling but as I’ve never seen him in action, I have only his word for it! 😉

    By the way, good luck with your move – when and where are you going?

    Is it only me who’s impatient with the trendy word usages?
    I’m impatient with textspeak as I don’t text. However, I do use ‘wtf’ rather a lot but that really only looks good (well, to my eyes, anyway) in print! I’ve still not got used to ‘I heart this’. 😦

    1. One would think they’d notice something as bright as yellow, Val.

      About the education question. I repeat what I wrote to Cecilia. It probably didn’t come across quite all right. I meant any form of education/literacy that is touted to differentiate between the unlettered (and hence presumed less competent in processing information) and the lettered (the more the wiser). I didn’t see anything to do with norms in the example of a person wanting to buy a product because the advertisement tempts him/her. The stories about the abortions, may be. But then every culture has its people acting in one egregious way or the other in spite of their level of education. They might be different behaviours – say, of discrimination against people of a different race. No?

      The idea was to just think aloud whether education really does help a person become more human — intelligent, wise, compassionate, logical.

      You’re not an adult?! Yippie! Join the club. (To cliche-talk)

      Why must people feel better in a dire situation if they come to know others have or have had a similar plight?
      I suppose this must be it — “it puts ones problem in context, that we are all human, that we all share the same problems and that someone else has known the pain we are feeling.” Thank you.

      It’ll be interesting to see Bruce bargain. Mainly because it seems implausible that he could! What with the culture et al.

      We’re shifting to a town that’s an hour’s drive from my parents’. It’ll be convenient for all concerned during the pregnant and post-delivery times. I’ll leave in mid-March. The time cometh!

      “I heart this”. Whoa. I can see why you do not find it easy to get used to it. I use wtf sometimes — in speech, the whole thing. It sounds good to my ears. 😉

      1. “The idea was to just think aloud whether education really does help a person become more human — intelligent, wise, compassionate, logical.”

        In my opinion, Priya, the only thing that achieves wisdom is experience, some instances of which would be losing someone close and the lessons learnt on the journey that results from it; interactions with other human beings that touch and then transform the inner self; survival of trauma, etc. In other words the ‘big’ things in life that touch one. While I know education is supposed to be transforming, I don’t believe it is unless it is through a more human means. Like this:

        “It’ll be interesting to see Bruce bargain. Mainly because it seems implausible that he could! What with the culture et al.”

        The culture? We have markets here too, Priya, lol! 🙂

        “We’re shifting to a town that’s an hour’s drive from my parents’. It’ll be convenient for all concerned during the pregnant and post-delivery times. I’ll leave in mid-March. The time cometh!”

        That sounds sensible. (And you’ll be able to see your parents when you want too.)

        “I use wtf sometimes — in speech, the whole thing. It sounds good to my ears.”

        Mine too. 😉

        1. Oh of course you have markets. But I was under the impression bargaining/haggling is a no-no. No?

          We went to Tilonia once — Bunker Roy’s first village. His and his wife’s is an inspiring story. I fear I have little enterprise and resourcefulness. Such people make me wonder what I am doing to deserve a proud life.

          Thanks for the video, Val. I’ve put it on my Facebook wall. I hope it goes, ahem, viral.

          1. A lot of bargaining and haggling goes on in markets and in some shops too, all over the UK. It really depends on what people are used to, I think.

            What are you doing to deserve a proud life? Just being yourself. 🙂


  3. I do not have a tailor, nor do I know any woman with a tailor. American women tend to buy their clothes already made, some may seek a tailor for alterations. I’m sure people with more resources use tailors. It’s not the norm though.

    I think I needed my college degree to see how having a college degree isn’t the be all end all. Then again I was a student of the liberal arts and later social work and psychotherapy. But mostly, I’ve just been a student of life. I actually think education can be an impediment to some things…it can make us think we are above others. I may have been somehow more aware of this as most in my family are formally uneducated. Being from that world and then entering the educated world was quite interesting to me.

    It doesn’t surprise me that we need to be with others who have suffered. From my own experience, I can always tell when I’m in the presence of someone who “gets it”. When you’ve had horrible things happen you can come to feel unreal. When I’m around others who have suffered I feel real, I feel like I am believed again. It’s sort of a wordless thing. I can also tell when I’m around someone who has suffered but hasn’t been able to find others to make them real again. They can sometimes be very cruel.

    It would be fun to be with you while bargain hunting. Oh! to share in “the pleasure of the kill”. We Americans aren’t big on haggling. I look for bargains though, and love to find them at thriftstores. My favorite thing to do it look through the old art bins and find original works for just a few dollars. It’s always a little sad to me that someone would throw out an original piece of art.

    Fun questions…now i must get ready for work….thank you for inviting us to share.

    1. Formally uneducated. I like that kind. The formally educated are highly prone to becoming robotic and, as you put it, “think(ing) we are above others”.

      Ah. The feeling of comfort in silent understanding. Yes. That’s very, very true.

      “I can also tell when I’m around someone who has suffered but hasn’t been able to find others to make them real again. They can sometimes be very cruel.” This sent shivers up my spine. What is “make them real again”? The realisation that you’re believed, understood?

      Let’s visit Janpath sometime and you can see me haggling. But I cannot guarantee much because my skills are all rusty, what with more than a decade of no-bargaining behind me! We could try, though. Or just enjoy the pleasure of walking through such bright colours and shiny baubles and divine itra (perfumes). 🙂

      I recently discovered an artist I’d like to buy from, but can’t afford. It’s turning me towards giclee prints. But she doesn’t provide them. I agree that it’s a shame when original pieces of art are discarded as trash.

      It’s always a pleasure talking to you, Patrice. Thank you.

      1. Likewise Priya…
        I have always wanted to visit India. Maybe one day? 😉

        I don’t know what makes people real again….I think about that. Have you read The Velveteen Rabbit? It’s about love and how it makes people real, at least how it made the rabbit real. I have a twitter account, though I’ve never used it…it’s called VelveteenHabit. I thought I could tweet about how people can become real. Never figured out how to do that tweeting thing…started a blog instead.

        That’s wonderful you found an artist you love. It’s very special to have something so alive in your home. Jim surprised me a few years back with a painting I saw of a local artists hung in an icecream shop. It was truly a splurge, for us…but it has meant so much to me.

        1. I love your blog and like what I read whenever I visit it. Twitter is an interesting tool (and VelveteenHabit is such a wow name!), but this micro-blogging makes me uncomfortable. Even though I’d love to read what you wrote there, whenever you did, I think I prefer words written in leisure, meant for a perusal at leisure. I am happy you chose WordPress instead. It’s helping people become real, I am sure.

          Jim is a lovely man, Patrice. But then I don’t need to tell you that, do I?

          1. Thank you, Priya. I guess the micro-blogging must not appeal to me either. WordPress is a lot of fun. I’ve been blogging just over a year now. I tried to write a review this morning of all I’ve learned while blogging, but I’m afraid I won’t be able to distrill the learning as I would like to. Like you, I prefer the words written in leisure 😉

  4. Hi,
    1. No, I usually buy my clothes from a store.
    2. No.
    3. Yes, usually different smells.
    4. Sometimes. But they most likely think the same about Women. 🙂
    5. No, life skills does this I feel.
    6. I think some people seem others that are going through the same thing can understand exactly what they are going through.
    7. I love bargaining.
    8. My problem with trendy word usages is I don’t understand a lot of them. 🙂

    1. #4! How very wise of you to say that! My husband would also agree. Not with the ‘sometimes’, though. 😉

      #3. Different smells. I quite get stuck to the smell bit. Perhaps because my country is said to have a palette of strange ones. Have you been to India, Mags?

      #7 Hey! Tell me about it! Do you get to bargain in some shops in your country? I thought it was a tacit understanding that bargaining is a no-no! Such fun!

      #8 😀 I can understand that.

      1. No, I have never had the pleasure of visiting India, but would certainly love to go. 🙂

        Yes we can bargain in some shops, not your big supermarkets or big retailers, or specialty shops, but you can get a bargain by offering to pay in cash, for such things like TV, Fridges, Washing Machines, etc. also you can do a good deal on new furnisher as well. They will usually give you at least 10 to 20 % off the price for cash. 🙂 But the bargaining is not like the fun you have o/seas.

        1. That’s an interesting piece of information, Mags, the next time I am in Australia, I am going to make sure I have enough cash to win some bargains. What fun!

  5. Priya, I am a very inquisitive person, so I really enjoyed this inquisitive post of yours.
    I do not get my clothes tailored.
    As others have said, blondes are the butt of many jokes, too. “Dumb blonde” jokes are very popular. I’m blonde. Well, I was growing up. Giving birth changed my hair – from blonde to dirty brown. Not sure why. In any case, I don’t think a dumb blonde joke exists that I have not heard at least once.
    Yes! The air is different. The water, too. Actually, I think places feel differently in general. Funny. I’ve often thought about the air being different, yet this is the first time the question was asked.
    Are men fools? We all have our moments.
    I think there is truth to the sentiment that misery loves company, because finding someone that has survived the misery provides hope that you will survive it, too.
    I don’t like bargaining. I always feel as though I am denying someone of money they need. That, and I am shy in situations where sales are taking place.
    I loathe trendy trendy word usages, because I think it ‘dumbs’ down humans. Sad.

    Oh, and my Bachelor’s Degree … well, it was helpful in getting a job, which gave me the opportunity to become financially responsible. Responsibility, however, lies in the person – not the education.

  6. Responsibility lies in the person not the education. How very true. Why in the world did we begin to have such straitjacketed schools and colleges, though?

    I picked red hair to be inquisitive about because they’re such a minority. There are innumerable blondes, so I’ve always assumed the jokes on them must be some fool’s whimsical pastime. But red-haired people get so outnumbered, I feel sorry for them. By the way, if giving birth is known to change hair colour, could mine, too?! 😮 Wow.

    I agree with your feelings of bargaining. The shopkeepers in India have become clever over centuries, though. They mark-up the price to begin with, and are never at a loss in spite of aggressive bargaining by the shopkeepers. It’s like an adrenalin-laced sport in India! 😉

  7. 1. Clothes tailored? ah uh. My mom used to make many of my clothes when I was a kid. I hated that. I did learn to sew, but hated it and recently gave away my sewing machine which drove me to drink when I tried to use it. I buy off the rack and dread even the notion of altering a hemline!

    2. Redheads? There was a girl with buck teeth and red hair in my grade school class. I couldn’t abide her. She was also a cry baby which I found disgusting. I spent my life avoiding red heads. Imagine my surprise to find that one of my very best friends in adult life is a red head! Well, she isn’t anymore, but she used to be. Age has a way of dulling even the most fiery colors!

    3. Air: not only do different countries have different air, so do different cities, even different parts of the same city!

    4. Men, fools? You must ask????

    1. 1. We in India have begun to buy off the rack, too. Not just the western outfits, but also Indian attire. While it makes things easier, it also takes away the charm of a unique design. Boutique clothing is so expensive! I dread the notion of getting a hemline altered, too. But largely because I fear it’ll take away the fall of the clothing — including the jeans. But my body shape is such, I have to get it done. Sigh.

      2. This is interesting! To think you avoided red heads and then ended up with one for a best friend! Could it have something to do with the hair fading?!

      4. Ha! My mistake.

  8. The comment field was acting funny so here I go again:
    5. My college education that I finished at, um, age ah…56? Oh I’m sure I’m much more responsible now! Must be, after spending all that money.

    6. Misery loves company. What can I say?

    7.Bargaining? I couldn’t bargain my way out of a bear trap! I grew up around veteran horse traders and yet I would rather give away my “possesions” than dicker over them.

    8. At the end of the day…no one has anything original to say. That’s not true. Really. It’s only me who has nothing original to say.

    1. 5. You finished college at 56? Wow.

      6. I never could understand the full implication of ‘misery loves company’. I must try harder.

      7. 😀 I quite like the way you put it.

      8. While no one really says anything original, it is the way they say it that makes the difference, Linda. As far as I am concerned, you are very original!

  9. Interesting questions that trigger so many thoughts. I like your curious mind.
    1. A tailor? Well if I find something I love on sale and it doesn’t fit quite right, yes, I use a seamstress to take it in here or there.
    2. Red hair? I guess I can say it here and not hurt any one’s feelings. Yes, I had a favorite aunt. She had red hair and it made her even more special in my eyes. She led a wonderful life and I often wondered if it was the red hair. She had five children each with different hair: light brown, blonde, strawberry blonde, dark brunette and finally red like her. Yes, they all had the same father.
    3. Different air? I remember being amazed but I kept it to myself because it seemed so silly that Europe, Central and South America had birds, insects…the things I hadn’t planned on seeing or experiencing, just like we do at home. But the ice cream and bread were very different.
    4. Are men fools? Picture this. I get up from the sofa…oh, while you’re in the kitchen…who said I was going to the kitchen?…will you bring me back a coke? Sigh!
    5. Education? I am most impressed with those who afford the time and money to get an education while they are going to school and while they are parenting famiiies. They are multi-taskers extraordinaire and very determined.
    6. Misery loves company…what else can I say?
    7. Bargaining? I do like a good sale. Everything I have has been a good deal. But, at a flea market or open air market, I usually pay what they ask or chip away 10% as they expect it, as I know they are there making a living for many reasons at home. For those who expect it, I play the game. You can tell when they expect it…they enjoy the game too and enjoy sending a customer with a good feeling of having gotten a good deal. Yes, I guess, the answer is yes, when it’s a win-win situation.

    1. 1. I was under the impression that there are no seamstresses in the west anymore. Professional ones working for themselves, i.e. It’s a good thing that I was wrong.

      2. Genes. They have a way of sneaking in somehow, no?! I like you more because you say that you might’ve liked your aunt so because of the colour of her hair. That’s wonderful!

      3. 🙂 I’d be amazed to see those things when I go out, too. And the people. That they walk just the way we do, have the same kind of hair, and nose and mouth. Same kind of laughs. It’s a miracle in my eyes.

      4. Heh Heh. Well, apparently the men are the same in all the countries!

      7. You talk like a pro! Oh, do come with me on my very eager jaunts to these markets someday!

  10. Hi Priya, my answers to your questions: 1. Do you get your clothes tailored? No. I do not. I just don’t have the patience for it. I don’t put a lot of time into my appearance, and it’s starting to bother me. The one thing I’ve had tailored since my kids have been born (don’t ask me to recount back past 5 years) is a pair of Dockers (for women) I ordered online. They were too short, so I drove them to a dry cleaner/tailor, didn’t try them on, just dropped them off and said, “Please make these as long as the hem will allow.” I’m actually embarrassed to admit that. I do want to take pride in how I look, it’s just, well, I never have. So it’s something I’m trying to learn.

    On the other hand, my mother was a model. Can you imagine how frustrating I was for her? At least my younger sister got on the clothing/hair/make-up wagon. My mother is so beautiful, and for all my life I have marveled at how put-together she looks. I used to just stare at her, when I was a little girl. She’d be driving me somewhere, and I would look at her whole outfit. Shoes, shined and clean. Nylons. Skirt, pressed and hemmed. Shirt, stylish and buttoned. Sweater or vest, smooth, silky or fitted. Earrings, not too small, not to big, and with always a small flourish. Hair, perfect and curled and sprayed into a sweet style. My mother. The epitome of beauty, to me.

    So I wonder, what thoughts will go through my own daughter’s head? When she sees her mother with a hole in her favorite jeans, sneakers instead of shoes, hair in a bun and almost never any earrings? I don’t know. It does feel nice, to look nice. But that’s as far as I’ve got.

    When I was little, my grandmother lived with me. My whole life, until she passed away. She was an expert tailor. She had no money, absolutely none, and what she did manage to earn as a child was stolen by her alcoholic father. So when she grew, she used to make all her own clothes. Beautiful pieces. She knit and crocheted and those are the things I am learning, now. I carry her with me always in spirit. She used to do all our tailoring. My sister and I would stand up on a chair in her room, and she would pin up our pants and our dresses and work her magic and they would fit like gloves. I am still in awe. And so thankful to have had her with me for so long.

    This answer is so long — I think it had better be the only question of yours I address! 🙂

    1. Hey, Melissa! A big hug.

      Your daughter will look up to you, torn jeans regardless. And she’ll make her own choices — be put-together or be un-made-up. Leave it to her and be yourself.

      Having said that, let me confess that your message brought back thoughts of my own.

      I’d been labelled “untidy” by my 1st grade teacher and the implication has stuck with me. I can’t stay tidy even if I want to. While that shows in everything I do, including the way I dress up and think (!) I sometimes think of changing that just because I’d like to feel what it feels to be neat.

      About my body and style of dressing? I have been mulling over my cruelty towards my body for a while now. The gift of life given to me — its contents: my body, its parts, my mind and my soul — is something I should pamper, if only to honour this gift. My skin, hair, nails, eyes, nose, stomach, legs and butt. All of these must be rewarded, no? But I just don’t have the patience! I love to dress up occasionally, but get tired of it soon enough and go back to my unkempt self. I like to pamper my skin and eyes and form regimens, only to give them up almost immediately. I’d like to change that. It sometimes feels like I am being haughty and ungrateful for ill-treating such important presents…

      P.S. I enjoy these little mentions of your Nana. It’s obvious you adored her. Having grandparents you appreciate is also a gift, isn’t it?

  11. Oh, my.
    1- I WISH we had tailors! I’ve had ideas most of my life for divine clothing, especially ‘night clothing’ that American designers seem absolutely oblivious to. Either women look like whores or their grandmother. Ugh.
    2- I AM a redhead. And the butt of nobody’s jokes -they wouldn’t dare!! ;D
    3- Yes, the quality of the air in Hawaii is not unlike parts of Asia. New England’s air is wet in spring and summer, DRYYY in fall and winter. SO dry! New Mexico at 8000′ elevation was so dry I got scabs in my nose for the whole year we were there. But loved the thrill-air of the elevation. Southern California before smog was ideal – desert with sea. Perfect.
    4- I don’t think men are fools – just different than women. They process differently. Women are largely relational and men logical. Though we both possess those traits. But how many women do you know who would be willing to toil like a man – the thought of it wears me out sometimes. I used to work hard physically when I was younger, but it’s always sweet my husband is willing. Yes, it can be frustrating that they don’t seem to see what’s right in front of them. Brains are wired differently between the sexes – you could google it and get some info that way. As I get older, I fault them less and appreciate them more, if that helps 😉
    5- Going back to college as an adult learner was one of the most pivotal experiences in my life. I was so ready. Also I went to a college that had a pretty unstructured program based on what you WANTED to study – still, you had to fulfill requirements for an accredited degree. But I think this is definitely the way to go for highly creative types. The future of education, as it were.
    6- Are you kidding? I LOVE a good bargain! Garage sales are the perfect place to satisfy that craving, here in the US.
    6- Unimaginative parrots. I couldn’t have said it better myself!

    1. 1. Tailors must prevail. It is essential for originality, I think. And de-whoring, de-grannying of women. 🙂

      2. I am sure! 😀 Also, I’ve discovered recently that the jokes on redheads are more common in Europe; Britain in particular. The Americans are wise that way, one would think.

      3. Smog. It seems to waft in everywhere doesn’t it?

      4. I enjoy the differences in men and women, too. It’s like two different colours taking out the monochroming from life. And yet, is it all right, I wonder, if I can be grumpy sometimes and bicker to my heart’s content? Does that make me a fool in turn?!

      5. If only the ones that decide our educations structure were to implement the crux of education — controlled liberty.

      6. Good, so if I come to US, I might look for a garage sale!

  12. Oh whoops – I forgot one – I think people in dire circumstances find comfort in knowing they are not alone – that others also suffer – that it is a shared thing. Makes it somehow easier to bear one’s own burdens at the time.

    1. Sharing seems to be so important. It springs up in the most unlikely of places! It’s the “somehow” I’d like to know more about, though.

  13. Oh Priya what a fun post with interesting questions.
    1. I love reading books set in India where a tailor spends the day on the verandah and sews just for the women of the house. Unfortunately we don’t have such a marvelous service in N. America. The only tailor’s I’ve used are the ones in dry cleaners who take up the hem of your pants.

    2. I don’t know. I have black hair.

    3. Yes definitely. I’ve never been to India but I know the smell of Africa.
    And too Miami smells of the ocean and the humidity and is totally different from L.A. although we’re on different coasts of the same country.

    4. Men don’t look for the scissors with their eyes because they’ve left them in front of the TV

    5. I’m shocked that you know people who were forced to abort baby girls. I read about the girl killings in the Economist magazine
    “Gendercide: or what happened to 100 million baby girls?”
    and wrote a post on it:

    6. You’re moving again? I hope it goes well. Are you staying in the same “tea plantation” neighborhood?
    I cannot bargain. If its not too crowded I’d like to join the group tour coming to India to watch you bargaining. (And photographing cooking walking down the roads).

    7. When someone writes LOL in a comment or on a blog it makes the hairs stand up on my arms… and I have trouble reading the rest of the post.
    (hey Val I dont mind wtf…It makes me laugh)
    Talking of laughing, many thanks for not giving us the dreaded LOL in the post. I love that you wrote out the good old fashioned “Heh heh”. Heh heh Priya

    1. 1. I didn’t know the dry cleaners alter the hemlines in the US. I am going to remember that!

      3. Do you think the air has something to do with the people as well?

      4. Ha ha! I am sure. But what if they don’t watch television?!

      6. We’re moving again! This time it’s to get closer to my parents. It’ll be easier to have them near when I need them.

      If you want to see me bargaining, you’ll have to come with me to Janpath. My bargaining worm arises only there!

      7. LOL. I know how to raise your hair now! Heh heh.

      1. 1. I have a feeling we’re going to read a story where the character takes his/her new outfit to the tailor at the dry cleaner to have the hem taken up.

        3. I definitely think people living in a place where its hot and humid are different from folks who live in a city where the wind howls and snow lies thick on the ground. Don’t you?

        4. If they don’t watch TV? I was just being nice.

        6. I believe that your parents live some distance away from you, so that’s not just a move. It’s a *move*. A good idea to be living near grandparents.

        I’ve got my bag packed. Where’s Janpath?

        7. heh heh…

        1. 1. You got it! Maybe someday…

          3. Yes. Weather and climate does affect all those who live in it.

          4. Ha!

          6. Janpath is a road in New Delhi. A part of it (a by-lane, actually) houses lots of shops for bric-a-brac, trendy (but cheap) clothes and fun. If you do visit India, you could visit it. It’s fun, if not anything else.

          7. We’re on, buddy!

  14. Priyah, I spent most of days in jeans and t-shirts – neither of which deserve a tailor.

    When I was pregnant with my fourth my husband and I would joke that we had likely used up all our stronger genes and that he or she would pop out with freckles and red hair (my mom is a red head so we knew mine were at least streaked with a chance of it.) And wouldn’t you know, she did just that. She is only five – but thus far it has never landed her as the butt of jokes. Everywhere we go people adore her and her golden hair.

    I suppose some men are fools – but I live with one who could find a needle in a haystack if I needed him too. Sometimes you just have dig deep to find the good stuff.

    That same find fella asked me to marry him three years into a college degree that I was hating. I dropped it all and chose my happily ever after via a different route. Now that my youngest is on the brink of full day school, I often wish I had finished up my degree so I could teach and contribute to our household’s finances. But, maybe I would have sold out to a career long ago instead of staying home with the kids – because it would have been more comfortable financially. I wouldn’t trade the last eleven years for anything now – all the money in the world couldn’t even come close to buying what I got out of it. So, in the end I think the absence of a degree made me better. I am guessing it will only continue to do so.

    I think it makes us feel better to know someone has walked the same dire straights as us – because it reassures us that we can survive. Only the voice of someone else who has been where we are can tell us it’s going to be ok and make us believe. They have validity.

    I love a good bargain – but I have never really enjoyed the hunt. I wish I did. There are some mighty fine treasures out there just waiting to be scooped up by patient and determined souls like yourself.

    I am pretty sure I despise most things trendy. I could never do bell bottoms and now I am just waiting for skinny jeans fade back out into oblivion. Who the heck decides what’s hot and what’s not and why on earth do we all listen. Words and fashion are so much lovelier when they are our own:)

    1. It’s wonderful that you found the man with whom you have an happily ever after. Feels good, eh? And then to have a gorgeous daughter like that! Lovely.

      College degrees and higher education in big schools come handy only if they help you enhance your mental, emotional and intellectual capabilities. Otherwise they’re just a tool to make robots. You sound content, and sensible. A happy combination. My compliments to you!

      Ah, determination for bargaining. I do not have that. But one of my cousins is an absolute master with it. She’d put any of the veterans to shame. Maybe we’ll tag along with her when she’s shopping on the streets of Anywhere! 😉

      Ha ha “Words and fashion are so much lovelier when they are our own” How very well put! You’re so after my heart. (Though I’d like to wear bell bots. Since it is not the 60s, I won’t feel guilty either. Maybe this might help exterminate the Skinny Jeans!)

      Happy to see you here Tristan. Have a beautiful day!

  15. Priya , the preamble to this post – “Like all humans, I have a curious mind. ……………. . Sometimes, however, the questions keep coming back.” is a very apt description of the state of mind we all have to put up with….. I suppose so!! The situations are endless – in my experience, it takes an effort to keep the human mind from fluctuating; the tendency to go from one extreme to another is just natural.And so is the tendency to get fixated. The ones called up by you are very interesting- some of these aroused my thinking . Would like to answer a few here, but only if you allow the explanations to be a little lengthy – am not as crisp with words !!

    Will write one at a time. By the way, is the pink coding required to be followed strictly? Because the one that I find most interesting is ‘Are men fools?’

    1. I tend to hop from question to question, Col. Sharma. So, when you say it is only human to do so, it encourages me to relax. Thank you. Otherwise I’d have kept on chiding myself for being too restless.

      Do answer them all in your own time! I’d love to hear from you. Especially about the “Are men fools?” Can’t wait!

  16. Are men fools? Yes is what most married ladies would think. I think the origin of this perception is the husband- wife relationship, with all its pleasures, expectations, disappointments and what have you. Actually all things that make life so colourful. You wouldn’t find many mothers supporting such a view about their sons; nor many sisters saying so about the brothers; and I can say with certainty, you might not find a single daughter thinking so about her Dad. In all cultures I think a daughter is an ultimate joy –a Princess – for her Dad, and a Dad is the ultimate hero for a daughter. I am fortunate to have a daughter. There is at least one person in the world who thinks I can do no wrong – and thus not a fool!!

    Are men fools? I don’t think the answer can be a straightforward yes or no. Like many other things in the world, this question is better left as a question and peacefully lived with. I have learnt that from the ladies!! I’ll explain how, just read on.

    In my last one decade of existence, I have shared a roof with three ladies of three different generations. Me being the only male since my Dad passed away some twelve years back, and our son has been away in boarding school followed by college. Its been an interesting time. Never a dull moment in my household. Each of the three – mother, wife and daughter – is a character in her own rights. Seldom at peace with each other. The Saas ( mother-in-law) must constantly find faults with the ways the Bahu ( daughter-in-law) handles her responsibilities. She has the divine right to foul mouth. Most of the time for no rhyme or reason. The Bahu must sulk even if nothing very serious has been said. And whine non stop for days, weeks and even months for the same incident. And the mother MUST tell – even intimidate- the daughter about what is right and wrong for her, what clothes to wear, what food to eat, and blah, blah, blah. Imaginary ‘non-events’ would also creep into the discussion ( actually arguments) to prove a point. Nagging – there can be no other word for it.And the daughter ( who happens to be a military brat – for military brat see Wikipedia) MUST give it back to the Mom , ‘ I’m OK, why don’t you mind your own business’. Then the old lady must politicize the whole issue of how the Chhori ( growing up girl) is to be cared for, of which neither the Bahu, nor her son have any clue. The son who was a simpleton in his young days is by now a Fool – an idiot actually. Interesting !! Isn’t it? Most people familiar with Indian family system would vouch this description as a common phenomenon. I have come across many males who ‘suffer’ such situation. Many have gone into depression. They are indeed fools I would say. Not that I am spared nagging. Far from it. And let me admit, I was a big fool in my initial years of marriage. To me the conflict appeared to threaten our marriage. At times I had serious doubts if our marriage would last a lifetime as is the custom in our community. And it was a frightening thought. But with the hindsight of thirty years, I am sure my mother and wife always thought the marriage would last not one but many life times. Not that they said so – they didn’t have to ,because they never contemplated like me. At some stage, I started sharing an adult-like understanding with my daughter. Or was it child-like ? Whatever. It is what I love THE MOST. She had come back from the boarding school and was with us for her college. We had a common cause – to protect each other from nagging. She would come up with fantastic ideas how to get around the oldies for our little concessions. Suddenly, all that was unpleasant, turned into fun. Pure fun!! It was truly a paradigm shift. I felt I was re-living my childhood – something all adults would want to. And that’s when my learning curve changed to a definite positive. I could see how good conflict managers these ladies are after all. They can live with the conflict which I always thought should either be resolved or else…..You come to our house and see for yourself the perfect harmony the Saas – Bahu duo would treat you with in true Indain style of hospitality. And when one falls ill, it’s a treat to see the other going about that extra bit of care. They know no outsider is going to do it for them. The high point was our daughter’s wedding when the Saas- Bahu duo handled all affairs with precision.They went about their job in most business like manner ever seen.It was pleasure. The men folks know only two ways to deal with the conflict – either resolve, or part ways. At different level, part ways would be replaced with wars. The women folks have a third option ingrained in their psyche – just live with it. I think this is a superior thought. The only one institution of our inter-dependant survival that has stood the test of time is the ‘home-sweet-home’. Protected by women!!

    This makes me think sometimes, would the world have been any different, if, from the beginning of civilization, it was ruled by women ? Probably yes. I think there would have been no wars. Men have kept making wars, and the irony goes on. What foolishness!!

    About the scissors with bright yellow handle. Well Priya,its truly an epidemic. Most males are not only of no use to the household, they would need help in doing their own chorus. Someone must look for the car keys, hankies, spectacles, goggles, pen, white shirt, that maroon tie, the cuff-links, towel, and even the undergarments. List is endless . “Tum nahin sudhroge” ( you will never improve) is what I hear every day. The reason for this in my opinion has something to do with the way boys are brought up. Just google ‘why boys need parents’, or click the links below and enjoy the funny pictures.

    Yes, the boys need parents all their lives. I am fortunate that way. I have had the benefit of being parented by a mother, a wife and a even a daughter.
    I can go on and on- the subject is so interesting. But there is actually no debate. Some days back I saw a car sticker which read ‘ I am what I am because of everyone else’. I liked it. So men are what they are – fools or otherwise – because of the women in their lives. 

    1. I went on to read this very interesting set of thoughts and stopped short, literally, at your last sentence. “Men are what they are – fools or otherwise – because of the women in their lives.” Now that makes me think real hard.

      Women are powerful, I suppose, because of this third option they’ve mastered. The one in which they reconcile and ‘live with it’. I agree with that.

      I have nothing against men, however — fools or otherwise. I have loved many men to bits in my life and continue to do so. And after reading your comment, I can see that you appreciate the women in your life just the way they deserve to be. You can pat yourself on your back for it, Col. Sharma, because there are few men who’d do that. Especially acknowledge it in public. It’s very, very sweet of you.

      Thank you for your time and beautiful description of your family.

    1. I shall let you go just this once. Provided you promise to come back even when I am grumpy and murderous. 🙂

  17. Priya, sorry to put you in a thinking – hard mode. I just had fun writing that post – its meant to be enjoyed. It probably suited me to end the post with that ‘men are what they are..….etc’. Otherwise, the way mens’ personalities get shaped is probably an outcome of the ‘Chaos Theory’. This theory says ‘Just a small change in the initial conditions can drastically change the long-term behavior of a system.’ Very interesting corollary of this is that the flapping of wings by a butterfly somewhere can result into consequences as disastrous as a tsunami elsewhere. Such is the ‘sensitivity’ of the initial conditions in the universe we live in. Confused?? Just give up thinking that hard. 
    Women are powerful in so many more ways. Risk Management – they are too good. In foreseeing risk as well as finding durable solutions. Commitment is another aspect where women are simply amazing. Unwavering they are !! And so many other things.
    I am very sure you have nothing against men and that you have had some good men around you – your posts on Brartan and Chaitanay are marvelous. Deep down you admire both – so evident from your post. And on Col Dubey, you do not really need to write – the picture album on facebook says it all.
    Thanks for the compliments. I have patted myself on the back . As for acknowledging, accepting and even apologizing in public, Priya, in my experience, this is an exceptionally powerful tool for self cleansing.
    Thanks for liking the description about my family. This also was written with a relaxed mindset to have fun.

  18. Have so enjoyed reading Sp Sharma’s response…and the way he has so completely repudiated the…are men fools question Priya 🙂

    Interesting questions Priya….being from the same sub-continent…tailors are an important and inherent part of our lives…notwithstanding the onslaught of the the pret lines! 

    Had the most beautiful, interesting and cigar smoking redhead with me in my A levels in Vienna…she was never the butt of jokes…envy certainly!

    I think not only do Countries and Cities have a different air and hence a different synergy as a result of it, but also so do different homes…

    Being a responsible adult needs more than a college degree…that requires compassion…empathy…humility…tolerance…faith…and more…so as not to commit the atrocities that are committed by the “educated”…

    I think feeling better extends only to better empathize….better understand a similar plight…

    Bargaining…must admit I feel embarrassed even being around those who do…

    I am really just too old fashioned to appreciate trendy word usage…

    That was fun…thank you and God Bless Priya…

    1. Col. Sharma has a way with words and thoughts, Shama. I’d expect no less from him! I hope he begins blogging to give us more chances to read his thoughts.

      Pret lines are good, but nothing very close to the darzi-wallah kaam. Wouldn’t you say?

      Whoa, I can imagine a beautiful cigar-smoking red-head… I’d be envious. I suppose all those stories I’ve heard are just that, then — stories. Or, like Val says, they’re probably a part of somewhere in Britain.

      There was once a boy who came to our home and said, “Your house has a strange air. It smells American.” I wonder what he meant. But he looked quite chuffed with the air, so we let it be. 🙂

      Your responses are so well thought of, Shama. Thank you for making my blog even richer with your additional presence!

  19. Ahhh….what a question!! So much of a must, to be able to perform the day –to-day chores in our beautiful country. In fact so essential to appear respectful in your social circle. Of course there are neighbours , friends and relatives to help you if you are not so good at it. I grew up being told by my mother ,who, never trusted me to buy even a needle, ‘ tumhari shaqal dekh kar to waise hi dukandaar daam barha dega’ (closest translation is – with one look at your face ,the shopkeeper will raise the price). The underlying message was that the shopkeepers are experts at face reading. And that they are cheats too. Somehow I have neither tried to validate this theme, nor contradict it. Suffice to say, I found this exercise intimidating. My approach in the initial years of adulthood was to avoid shopping or getting into money transactions as far as possible. It was safe till I was dependant on parents. Trouble came when I started earning. More of it came when I got married to someone as dumb as I. But that was also a blessing in disguise since this prevented us from a lot many would-have-been- arguments, my wife and I have a flair for. But somehow we have managed till now. I must tell you two anecdotes of my divine experience, one at bargaining and the other one at a magnificent discovery how not to look foolish.
    The second one first – the discovery !! This was our first monsoon season in Shillong ( Meghalaya). Rains cause havoc in Brahmputra and other rivers in that part of the world. This send prices of all commodities spiraling up like anything – a fact I was so oblivious of. Prices of onions and tomatos were the talk of the town. In one of the social gatherings in my house one lady happened to mention, ”ohh you know the going rate of onions in the sabzi mandi ( vegetable market) ?….it is Rs abc per kg!!” Out of sheer politeness and show of chivalry towards my lady guest, I responded in a tone to express astonishment saying,“ Achhaa !! ( is it!!), Ohh my God”!!. Later my wife asked me why did I express that surprise over the onion prices? I said it must have either gone up or gone down too much, but I didn’t know exactly. And we both laughed our hearts out. But Eureka!! I had discovered an excellent ploy to conceal my ignorance about fair prices of anything – from onion to properties. Just say ‘Achha !!’ with bold exclamation in any situation where prices are being discussed. And be a good listener thereafter. You will receive all the necessary gyan (wisdom ) of the world on fair prices of the commodity under scanner at no cost. By the way, is there a thing like ‘fair prices’ for anything?
    The second encounter took place when we were to go shopping for a wedding in the family. In fact this happened earlier to the Shillong incident. Late 1980s. We took along with us a young lady who was supposed to be a living encyclopedia on fair prices for every thing under the sun – from potato to space shuttle!! And she understood the cloth market in Chandini Chowk just too well, through years of experience. And when it came to bargaining, she was truly a genius – no one better in that business. To cut the long story short, she took us to a wholesaler ‘s shop. The shopkeeper, laid out a huge variety of sarees and ladies’ dress material. I tried to interrupt a few times to say not to lay out so many at a time, but our lady continued telling- this pink one with that something something ( I am forgetting those technical words), and that mazanta one. ….and so on. Later I was given a proper briefing why I should not interrupt in between when she was setting up for her killer bargains!! So once some more than two hundred sarees and dress materials had been displayed and more than an hour already spent, our lady started to inquire the prices of some pieces . I foolly interrupted once more saying that these pieces were not our choice. ( I was later given a nice and proper lesson to keep shut when she is setting up the items for bargain. It seems you should not reveal your exact choices while inquiring the prices. Instead show interest in those that you are not going to buy. Strange logic, I never tried to figure out why, nor did I ask the expert lady).Once the shopkeeper had rattled prices for a few, the lady shook her head vigorously and said , ‘ Bhaiyya, aap ne to din dahare loot macha rakhi hai.’ ( Brother you are looting us in broad day light). This was followed by , what looked to me ,an intense bombardment of even more insulting sentences which I would refrain from writing here. I just froze. And expected the shopkeeper to tell us politely to leave his premises if he was a decent man, or else we are up against some serious trouble. That’s what I thought. But, lo behold , the shopkeeper was smiling at our lady’s remarks and asked us if we would care for a cup of tea or cold beverages!! That was a deciding moment for me. Something inside of me howled very loud and clear – “YOU ARE NOT CUT OUT FOR THIS !! PERIOD!!”

    1. Ha ha. I am sure many of us have such stories to tell. I come from parents who can’t bargain to save their lives, and am married to person who’d rather hide in a cave than haggle. So, I completely understand what you mean.

      I studied and worked in New Delhi for 4 years. During this time, the hostel girls taught me the pleasure of bargaining in Janpath. Perhaps that’s why my occasional skill is restricted only to those roadside shops. And now that I’ve experienced it, I must say it is very ‘uplifting’ at times.

      So, perhaps, I can also appreciate the lady who accompanied you. She must be living on a perpetual high with all that bargaining!

      Pyaaz Aaloo ke bhaav yaad rakhne bade mushkil hain!

  20. I’ve just recently noticed the comments about people with red hair. It must be because it’s the least common color. It is, isn’t it? People in the majority always have more courage.

    About men being fools, yes, many of us are. The real fools, I suspect, are the ones who don’t know it. B’s statement about bargaining exposes him as one of the wise few. Will you tell him I said that?

    I love your descriptions of the air in different cities, especially that of Delhi: “glowing tenacity.” Beautiful.

    1. It certainly must have something to do with the number of people. Larger numbers give rise to mobs. More often than not!

      Bhartan appreciates the compliment. He’s been feeling a little too cornered with imposed feminine tyranny lately, so this sort of appreciation is very welcome. To him.

      You never fail to write with perception and kindness. I appreciate that.

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