The scars remain..

My husband had found out the truth about the guy in the first floor portion of the two-storeyed house. He was a terrorist ready to make his  move tonight. All the plans had been laid out and everything was ready for the finale, but things were going to be stopped or so we thought. My husband and his colleagues had formed a boundary around the house.. they were ready to storm. Stealthily, they broke in, he jumped out and ran, they chased him and they had him pinned down. The house-owner was bewildered, he couldn’t believe he had rented his home to a terrorist.

zoooommmm.. fast forward.. my cousins and I are all in a small house. We have mehendi on our hands and are showing if off to the uncles and aunts. It seems like we are getting ready for a wedding. Suddenly someone bangs on the door and we see men in black vests, shooting at us..

zooooommm… fast forward.. my husband drops me off by the side of the road and continues along on the same road. A black car with dark windows slows down by me right after he leaves. They bring down the windows – I see scary men inside, but they take off again. A red weird shaped car stops by me a few seconds later, they brind down the windows and I see more scary men, but dismiss the idea because I expect them to take off like the previous car did, but instead one of them pulls out a gun and shoots me down.

I wake up.. palms sweaty and my heart racing to find I am still alive and in bed, my daughter separating me far enough from my husband to not be able to grasp his hand.

And that my friends has been a recurring theme.. I’ve been plagued by frequent such nightmares since Nov 26 of last year. All the live telecasts from outside the Taj hotel have now made bullet sounds un-alien and nightmares feel so real.

It will soon be a year, but for someone who was not even there, the scars remain…


To dye or not to dye..

I have always been a true believer of aging gracefully. Of course I am not talking about being mature and pardoning and all that. I am talking about letting your hair fall or gray at it’s own will with no interference from you. My parents did that for most part – my father quite helplessly got to his present semi-bald state, and my mother interfered minimally with her graying thinning hair with irregular mehendi treatments.

Being so miserable at any means of self-maintenance myself, I’ve always wondered in awe at women who always dress impeccably and have manicured nails and perfect makeup. I also wonder at people who keep their hair colored perfectly, but I am mostly shocked by those who make very shoddy attempts at trying to keep their hair black. I have an uncle, who tried very hard with regular die, kali mehendi, herbal treatments, ayurvedic treatments and homeopathic treatments. His hair colored varied so wildly that every time I saw him, he looked very different from the last time I had seen him.

Some of my friends, have been coloring their hair for the past few years in shades of brown and burgundy. They’ve always envied me for having perfectly black hair, and attributed it to me being younger, which brings me to the story of my hair.

My hair had low self-esteem for a very long time. As long as my mother was responsible for my hair, I think I did fine. She did regular oil baths with shikha podi and oiled my hair all through the week. Once I became an obnoxious teenager, most of that stopped. I stopped oiling my hair, because I thought bouncing hair that didn’t stick to my head looked much cooler, I started using shampoo because that smelled better and was easier to wash off. Over a period of time, I realized my hair was growing where I didn’t want it to, and falling where I didn’t want it to fall from. My mother of course, told me in as many words as possible that it was because I did not listen to her. Once I landed in the US, and went for my first hair-cut, the hair dresser “wow”ed and “aaaw”ed so much at my hair, that I realized it was probably a lot better than I had imagined all these years. Hence my only regret since then has remained that my husband was not so awed by my beautiful locks and in general didn’t care if I had any or not.  

All was fine in hair territory until last week, within a period of two days I spotted three strands of white hair, and I am not even 30 yet! I am torn between not interfering in my natural aging process and having my hair colored. Clearly I am not old enough to age! Now I might end up having to be one of those women, who make hair coloring appointments, show up on time and have someone spread gooey stuff all over the head. I would have to sit there and pretend to be relaxing, while my mind would take off contemplating all the impossible things that could happen to my life, have a competition between my brain and the clock to see how accurately I can count time, read boring gossip magazines and learn useless pieces of information about people I don’t know or care about.

To dye or not to dye – that is the question, and the answer is as tangled as my hair can ever get!

Mumbai – a turning point?

It’s been four years since I left India. I’ve always wondered if there would come a time, when I came to India and felt I did not belong there anymore. I wondered if this trip would be it. I got here on Wednesday morning, and since then, I have either been jet-lagged or watching TV. Three days of minute by minute coverage of the worst terrorist attack on Indian soil, have made me realize I am more Indian than I thought I was. I felt the same frustration, anger, disappointment and grief that everyone in Mumbai did. I was anxious for my brother who worked a few buildings away from the Oberoi Trident hotel. I was waiting for him to get out of Mumbai and get to the safety of our home in Bangalore. Yet I worried incessantly about the route to the airport, the security at the airport, and his plane journey home to the point that I wondered if perhaps he should just stay at home in Mumbai and not come to meet me. For an hour on Thursday I was seized by anxiety as we heard about an uncle who was at the Oberoi. We were later informed that he had left from there earlier that evening.

While I would love to ramble on about the gruesomness of the despicable act carried out, I doubt if I can truly ever express what I feel. I am not sure if it is more helplessness or more sorrow at what has happened. It is good to see that we Indians who are usually an imperturbable lot, have reacted and in some cases quite strongly. People are openly telling politicians to go to hell and not talk to them about the Mumbaikar spirit and crap. For the first time, I am seeing little coverage of politicians on TV.

After this is all over, when the investigations have been completed and some terrorist group has been blamed along with Pakistan for it’s support of that terrorist organization, when the news media has moved on to more mundane and useless news like an actor getting married to an actress or the election spectacle in the country, when the fallen heroes have been honored, this day would either have been a turning point for the country or it would have been yet another terrorist attack.

I salute the security personnel who gave up their life or put their all at risk and saved the many hundreds that did get saved. To those hundreds who didn’t make it, may their soul rest in peace. I hope their deaths will change things around here.