Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Watched Phone Does Not Ring...

(Written for my column "Monthly Musings" in Media Voice magazine)

SMS romances are at once exhilarating and nerve-wracking, not to mention expensive if you are on the wrong cellphone plan. For some of us who are running around like headless chickens, heart puffed with self-importance (okay, may be that's just me), with little or no time for a relaxed, caffeine-overloaded romance, conducting an affair over text messages can appear to be a tantalizing option. I mean, who wouldn't like the relief of typing out a short, corny message while suffocating in a conference room somewhere debating how well a project is going, how targeted is the intervention under question, does the said target need the said intervention, does the said intervention actually target the said target, is the target too widespread, is the intervention too weak, etc., with tabular columns and numbers swirling over one's head?

That was how I got fooled. After some defenceless SMS-romancing, I now realize that I need to have a strong sense of self not only to conduct an actual romance, but even to type out clipped cliches over flaky networks. If you are the kind that would get nail-bitingly anxious when the reply comes a couple of minutes late, SMS romance may not be for you. It calls for a stronger constitution. I know, because I write this from the local rehabilitation center for post-paid-coital depression (again, it is based on your cellphone plan).It could push you over the edge and make you a full-fledged whacko instead of just the borderline case that you are right now.

My cellphone bears the scars of all my insecurities and impatience. If it were a computer, I'd probably refresh the screen a million times to see if the reply to my email has arrived. Not that I have done it, not that I have assaulted several mouses by clicking on them endlessly to refresh a page. I am just speaking hypothetically...But since this is a phone, and since I travel a lot and am a casualty to wobbly cellphone signals all over the country, I keep turning the phone off and on hoping that would bring the loving messages flooding in. And in the few-minute long delay that occurs before phone vibrates along the table excitedly announcing a reply, I'd imagine the person has lost interest, is losing interest, might be losing interest, will lose interest eventually anyway, etc. The voice of whoever is speaking at the said conference would fade out and I would start hearing a million voices in my own head: Why hasn't he replied? How can I salvage this? What should I say in my next message? Or should I wait for his message first? Am I acting desperate? The only unequivocal answer is to the last question: Yes.

Then in an attempt to attenuate the edges of my neurosis, I'd bring down my fidgeting by a few notches. This is when I would start staring at the phone, squinting almost, believing, naively, that my poring eyes, which normally have trouble reading small fonts, would somehow make the phone ring, make the SMS reply appear when I want it to. But this is where recycled age-old wisdom, albeit originally about pots, gently whispers: The watched phone does not ring.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Voices in the Kitchen

When I woke up from a nap today, stretched away the sleep from my body, and thought, "Hmm. What can I cook today?" it echoed along the corridors of my veins in the voices of my amma, my great grandmother who put so much of herself everyday in what she did for us that it actually shrunk her, and my aunts who say, for any of your sadnesses, "Come, just eat this, you will feel better."  

Oh goddesses of my family, when I cook without exact measurements, I hear you whisper from behind me, "A little more, kanna," or "That's enough," or "Ayyo!"

I feel you within me. You do me an honour by inhabiting me. You smile when I tell you I cook because I like to cook. I know what you are thinking: you liked it, too, but you also cooked because you had to.

Indian LGBT Activist: We’ll Do Gay Rights Our Way

Joe Erbentraut's interview with me for his "future queer leaders" series of profiles over at Edge 

Media Network - HERE