Thursday, October 27, 2016

Memory Bank: Weird Conditioner

Since I seem to be raiding my memory bank these days and since friends seem to think I am 'blogging again', here's another one.

This conditioner I have just bought smells of sickly sweet flowers that don't exist in real life, but in an alternate reality where 'floral' means this smell. 

When I smell it, I think of Mills and Boons swollen with having been in bathrooms through hours of bathing, through power cuts in the peak of summer and when you tried to choose MBs that were set in winter or in exotically cold countries but failing which you read what you got.

One MB with its wavy pages smelled like this conditioner when I opened it. It had an 80s cover, which mean that that wave that was not meant to be in the pages, was on the top third of the cover. 

It might have been that Charlotte Lamb one where the innocent girl falls in love with a much older painter and is betrayed by him after what I now realise is a statutory rape. Some years later, once she recovers from the heartbreak, she goes to art school and starts dating a boy who seems oddly familiar and if you know MBs at all, you'll know how this ends.

Those wavy waterlogged pages, though. They're the only reason I don't throw away this conditioner. And a constitutional inability to throw away things that are still useful.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Evesdropping (music memories)

The bathroom has a ventilator high above where, if we're not vigilant, pigeons will roost and begin their endless, gulping noise. 

That bathroom, from my childhood had a window instead of a ventilator. Luckily, because one time we forgot our keys and they sent me in through one of those bathroom windows.

My bathroom was upstairs. (I realised only in a late adulthood what luxury it denoted to say 'my bathroom'). I was an unusual child in that I spent a lot of hours there, making alchemical concoctions that I would innocently offer to robbers who would, of course, drink it and die or at least be in great pain.

I must have been ten when the younger brother - much younger - of a colleague of my father's visited his family who lived a few doors down from us. All the older girls called dibs on his time and I was old enough to be jealous but too young to expect to make the same claims on his time. 

One evening, returning home, I saw him making a long, reluctant goodbye to a girl who was my neighbour and whom I disliked for the way she made sly fun of me. I hurried upstairs to my bathroom, which was strategically above where they were standing. Luckily, the window was open. I was careful not to turn the lights on and I tiptoed to stand where no streetlight would fall on me if they were distracted enough to look up instead of at each other.

I can't remember anything I heard, if I heard anything at all. Their voices were a murmur and I think I grew hot with rage, though no doubt this is an invented memory of an emotion. Most likely I tried to fidget noiselessly and held my breath a lot and strained to hear anything at all. I didn't dare actually peep.

What annoyed me most was the bad taste this young man was displaying. Just a few days earlier, he had made me feel very grown up by discussing music with me. He asked me what I listened to and I, conscious of my parents' fledgling collection of records* that included the respectable but too obvious Beatles (I was, at this point, on the verge on my lifelong Beatlemania), the Savages (I think? The album art was red and black. ETA: No, I'm obviously wrong but what in heavens name was that album?!), Jim Reeves (which I knew not to acknowledge, so there was hope for me) and many carnatic LPs, said I listened to carnatic music. 

The young man, I was sure, was mocking me when he gravely replied that his music tastes weren't quite so advanced and I suddenly remembered something I needed to do.

A few days ago my son, who was in Delhi briefly on his way elsewhere, was at an old friend's place. He called to say he was having a great time and they were listening to Jim Reeves. I was horrified. Jim Reeves?! Yes, he said. He sounded somewhat taken aback. And George Baker, he added. Don't know him, I replied promptly. Una Paloma Blanca? he asked.


Where on earth are you finding this music, I asked. Apparently my friend has a new record player and her mother has dug out all these ancient LPs - I really should call them vinyl now, shouldn't I? - and hence all the Jim Reeveses and George Bakers. 

Now that I think of it, most of my parents' peers and friends had odd collections, dependent, I suppose, on what was popular and saleable. This meant Harry Belafonte, Jim Reeves and stuff like that, to support the other stuff that people also bought. If I remember good records, it was in the houses of those who travelled abroad often, and/or whose children had specific and sophisticated taste in music. Most of the rest of us who owned a record player bought what we could get and thus was our music taste formed.

Of course, this narrative can't account for the sudden and thrilling popularity of Osibisa in my town but that must be another story, one that needs to rely more on research and less on a faulty memory.
*For an awesome radiogram that my father had made and which looked mostly like this.

Tuesday, October 04, 2016

Oh, just because

Because it's October.
Because there's a nip in the air mornings and evenings and the sky hangs with gold dust.
Because I made a garland out of December poo in October.
Because the rains have gone or are in hiding.
Because there was purple and red.
Because a classmate is getting married (in December) for the first time and this is possible.
Because there will be saris.
Because I am home alone, only not.
Because the kid wrote a poem that was published in a journal.
Because of vetiver.
Because I wrote two letters yesterday by hand, both long.
Because I slept well last night (and apparently these days that's worth mentioning).