The Neighbour

My relationship with wooden panels dates back to college days when I stayed in a paying guest accommodation that had rooms separated by thin cardboard like panels. One could easily hear the girls in the adjacent room talk on the phone, giggle and make small talk with each other or their parents. While it was tolerable in the day, during the nights you could just bang on the panel to let them know that they could be heard. Some wouldn’t stop even then.

The second time I encountered wooden panels, it was 2 years later.

There’s a particular spot in our rented house where I like to write. It’s a comfortable sofa with a puffy to keep one’s foot on, sounds luxurious and it is one luxurious sitting spot too. The cosiest in the house, according to my mother. If there’s a downside to this spot, it has to be it’s close proximity to the dreaded wooden panel. This panel is more solid than the one in my pg in Delhi and connects the other side of the floor through an equally strong wooden door.

My neighbour is a Parsi lady of big built, short salt and pepper hair, wears spectacles, and has a friendly but usually loud voice. She lives up to the image you might have of a Parsi lady in her 50’s. My neighbour lives alone and works at a hospital during the day, takes piano lessons twice or thrice in a week and makes really good tiramisu.

Almost like a ritual, she calls up a woman, whom I will call the lady on the phone, between 8-9 in the evening. The next one hour is followed by my neighbour, gossiping, catching up and sharing trivial details of her life with the lady on the phone.

I mostly saw this as a nuisance since I find it difficult to find interest in what my neighbour ate during the day or what she plans to do after she keeps the phone. I usually didn’t cope with her conversations very well, since it would make me get up from my favourite spot. If you have ever met me at my house between the hour of 8-9, you will know that it’s not the best time to visit.

One such evening, I was sitting with my laptop struggling to come up with something to write for my blog, I had been struggling for days now. Mind you, my blog may not have readers, but publishing on it is good writing practice.

Meanwhile, from the other side of the wooden panel, I could hear a phone ringing. It was my neighbour’s call to the lady on the phone, she had put it on speaker. Before I could roll my eyes again, I started listening intently.

My neighbour went on and on, taking few breathers in between to listen to the lady on the phone. The lady on the phone had rather few inputs to give. my neighbour would start with when she woke up, what she did when she left the house for the office. My neighbour would laugh in between, mimic someone she met during her day dramatically, laugh even more loudly and the lady on the phone would follow up with an equally loud laughter. My neighbour’s peculiar habit, to keep the volume of the receiver very high, so the lady on the phone’s voice was audible, a fair mumble of words and crystal clear laughs.

My neighbour would mention the advice she gave to a person called Nazeer. Often, she would complain about her weight and her inability to lose the fat.

Sometimes, there were detailed comparisons of people’s dressing sense, with detailed comparisons or why she doesn’t use Jet Airways to fly to Bombay.

One evening, there was a bit about how one lady called Rajni has been messing around with Jyoti. I also knew that as part of her preparation for her trip to Mashobra, she had packed her warm Adidas sweater. “Maine toh Kuch Nahi Karna wahan, main Toh Apni saheli se milne ja rahi hun,” she explained, laughing.

My neighbour had met her mother one morning, she started that bit by telling her friend where her mother was sitting. She also appreciated her mother’s spontaneous nature and how she would have agreed to go for a trip to Shimla, on a short notice.

My neighbour has numerous things to say, I wonder if she uses WhatsApp like we do, constantly, to give fragmented snippets of information about our lives to various people. My neighbour, I am assuming fits all those text messages into one long hour of verbal dialogue.

Maybe I will listen again, the wooden panel, me and her unending phone balance.









What if

I believe most of us have thought about the two words, “what if?” at some point in our lives. These thoughts can be connected to anything, positive, negative or even depressing. Sometimes, “what if’s” can induce nostalgia, other times they can motivate us into doing great things.

So, here’s some food for thought, to make you smile, laugh and maybe even wonder.

  1. What if you were born an ant?
  2. What if you were in another country?
  3. What if you could stop reading this and invent a never ending jar of Nutella instead?
  4. What if you were born in another period in time?
  5. What if you were Arya Stark?
  6. What if Donald Trump is a genius who invented a hypnotic potion, released it U.S.A’s water supply and hence manipulated  America into voting for him?
  7.  What if technology ceased to exist?
  8.  What if all humans had the exact same features. (Logical people, pleae beware of this pointer.)
  9. What if you really are a piece of shit?
  10. What if the next time you wake up, your life would be like the last film you saw? And what if that film is “Aunty No. 1”, starring Govinda?


Toony Loons

Cartoon, the word has no relation to an automobile, rather we may associate the word to a colourful, vibrant parallel universe. Animators and cartoon ideators ( is that a thing?) have so much creative freedom since they can produce a series without any limits and realistic boundaries.  At the same time, they are responsible for putting up content that keeps restless, short attention spanned children, entertained. 
Some cartoons are so bizarre, pulling us away from reality into a world where anything is possible. Chicken puff replaced by Power puff girls. (There might be a couple or more really bad jokes ahead, bear with me.) 3 girls with no fingers, that attracted no attention in the program. The girls were portrayed as super heroes, who’d do anything and everything to save the imaginary city from evil monsters. Also telling shy and scared kids that they can fight too, courtesy of the character, Bubbles. How can we forget, “nasamajh doggie” aka Courage the Cowardly Dog. Courage the cowardly dog is especially dear to me since it starred my hair as Muriels’s wig.
If I’ve done anything during childhood, it is watching umpteen amounts of cartoon.  I was a big fan of tiny tv’s Noddy, Pingu and the rest of the brigade. How can I forget Shaun the sheep, and not a lot of people saw this one but there was one called ‘Boo‘. Having said that, there were some that boiled my blood, on the top of that list was Kipper. I mean, just add some colour to his life. Or maybe he was a dead dog in cartoon heaven?
I wish when I was a kid, there had been online streaming or a Netflix where I could watch cartoons. There were so many of these series to keep up with, so many important twists and turns to know about and so many murder mysteries to be solved by the mystery machine owning team.
When you’re around 6 years old you already have a hectic schedule, a busy life. Meet with friends, be gross, irritate the mother, spill drinks on your clothes and annoy adults with your banter. It was hard to fit in a tv watching hour within this tight schedule. But I managed since I am such a multi-tasker. #efficiency
The world of cartoons or animated creatures seems to be a place where anything can be true. While cartoons were colourful creatures doing dumb stuff, some cartoons were smarter than you and I. ( Dexter, anyone?) I was faced with an inferiority complex whenever I saw Dexter. The guy was so smart, and his days so productive. I am sure he inspired a lot of kids to take interest in science and piss their parents off with their experiment’s dirtying the house. Plus one to Dexter.
Tom & Jerry sent across the message that it’s okay to look different from the other, it’s okay to vary in size and shape. No matter how badly an eraser wants to rub the pencil off, pencils and erasers can co-exist. (Unless you chewed and massacred the eraser at the end of your pencil.)
Flintstones let children know that the world wasn’t blessed with advancement since the beginning of time. These things were discovered, invented and created. So cartoons are important beings and they should continue to exist. But creatures like Ninja Hatori, Chota Bheem, Oggy and the Cockroaches are seriously threatening their existence.
 Since kids are so curious and inquisitive, I think someone learned  animation to escape from the experience of being bombarded with their questions. How many times did your parents let you watch more cartoon just to make you forget your unreasonable demand, or to avoid answering an awkward question? Also, kids love attractive packaging, so there was the idea: stories told by colourful creatures with a carton or two of  magical realism.
Additionally, cartoons have genres too, so kids have plenty to choose from to quench their curiosity. While some cartoons pull them away from reality, putting more made up things in their minds, some cartoons mean pure business. Swat Cats, anyone? No, okay.
Mr. Bean, the animated series, for instance, tells us the struggles of a socially awkward guy, staying alone in London, while Noddy sort of sent the message that kids can drive and have a crush on  living teddy bears. Which may not be an ideal situation.
 Cartoons are colourful, vibrant personalities living in rainbow cities where dogs can talk and blue Octopuses can conveniently walk around. Add to that a flower that walks and talks, a butterfly that is such a great entrepreneur. I’ve seen and loved all this like a lot of you. Obviously, back then I was a dumber version of myself and couldn’t really rationalise or think why something is happening the way it is. Now if you did question their practicality as a kid, good for you. I am impressed.
 I don’t regret my decisions and choices of the shows I saw, they were brilliantly made, the animations were perfect and the stories had just the right amount of a concrete story-line, funny music and bizarre situations to keep me engaged.
On the down side, at some level I always wanted to be a cartoon. Not in an ‘I want to be an astronaut when I grow up’ kind of way, of course. I wanted to be inside my tv screen and in that fictional world that convinced me that the adventures they are going on and experiencing are better than what I am doing. You have to agree, working as a full-time kid can take it’s toll on you. I was the one sitting on the couch while these people inside the tv screen were doing so many interesting things. During such stressful times, a glass of bournvita calmed me down.
Even now, I enjoy certain animated series. Because in animation nothing can go really wrong, even if it does, become an animator and make a series of your own fixing what didn’t go down well with you.
Cartoons have a purpose. They’ve shaped our minds and made us believe in a lot of things and at some point even motivated little kids to just do it. (Not promoting Nike, I swear!) They are the purest form of entertainment a kid can experience and I am glad that Charles-Émile Reynaud made this possible. He was the first person to create an animated project back in 1877. (Just googled it.)
 If you’re at a point where you’re completely over them, it’s okay. I still stream Scooby Doo on YouTube sometimes which is better than watching re-runs of Friends for the 100th time.
Long live, looney toons and toony lunes, both!