All We Need is Love and Beer, and Old School Metal and Holiday Cheer to be Happy

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Most of the time you will wonder what it is that makes you feel related to the people your supposed to be related to. Family isn’t a word that  most people would call hostile but then again, their families would probably kick up some kind of fuss.

Get-togethers are like walking into a Gorilla pit at the zoo, where the bananas are questions about your job (or in my case lack off) and the flying faeces is just more questions, about your love life…(or in my case lack off)…

And there isn’t much you can do when you have these metaphorical bananas of profitable career paths thrown at you but just smile sweetly, explain that your are still looking desperately and wait for the flying shit to hit you in the face next. And when said gorillas are done with trying to force feed you their knowlegde of the working world and how I should perhaps change my direction of search, the metaphorical bananas are un-strategically changed from employment to love life. From bananas to flying shit in a matter of seconds.

Sometimes all you really need are a few of your good friends, some lovely wine and the hours of a free day to feel like yourself again.

Most of the time it isn’t the family you were born into that digs you out of your self induced BBC iPlayer coma, its the family that you stumbled upon during those first few years you were introduced to clubbing, shots, Jägerbombs and fancy dress. The friends you have to keep close are the ones that make your pervy comments seem like valid discussion points. These are the loyal friends that think having a full on steak sandwich after a meal at a Chinese buffet is perfectly acceptable, and jump at the chance to join you.

Now if you have chosen your second family wisely, you’ll understand that these people are the ones that may not stay so close by your side for the rest of your life, but they bloody well make the time they are in your life pretty damn marvellous. So don’t be afraid to put your legs up call some people over and have a few bottles of wine at the ready. You’ll thank me later, I promise you.

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Spring Cleaning. Is it really that time of year again?

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Spring Cleaning. What is it? Is it just societies way of getting rid of all the year’s past mistakes? Relationships that haven’t lasted as long as you hoped a month in when you thought you’d be together forever? Jobs that have just become so menial that you can think of anything better to do with your time on a springy April day than to just clean! Has our society become so forced into believing that there isn’t much hope in anything being achieved before having a good rummage around all the things you haven’t touched within the year which now you must through away? Am I rambling? Yes of course I am, because I am obviously avoiding this damn spring cleaning session I have booked in with myself today!
Do we really need to change a duvet because we have had it past six years? Do we really need to throw out that bird cage in the attic just because Percy the parrot is no more? Must we throw away the memories and treasured storylines of the Christmas TV magazines? Well frankly yes we do, and if you do still have those things lying around then you are disgusting.
A great tip for all you people out there spending this weekend (preferably not as it is mother’s day) or the next clearing out cupboards, attics, garages and apartments: donate to your local charities and shelters, don’t just make spring cleaning an excuse to over-flow the bin with things other people may find useful.
I shouldn’t be needing to say this, but I believe the best way to stay clean and tidy is to give everything a good old polish and STORE IT PROPERLY. Now I know some of you are thinking when I say store I am being hypocritical and going against my words of putting things away in the garage. Far from it, my little wonders. The best way to keep things in place all year round and not just after spring cleaning is Ikea. Yes you read that right, Ikea. And let me give you some lovely homely examples…

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These little heavenly baskets are great to fit on your desk, in your wardrobe and in your draws. They fold away when you aren’t using them, and can be filled with all kinds of loose things around the room. Currently I am using the large square sizes for my lingerie and the long rectangular ones for products I don’t use every day. I even have two of the little squares filled with products I use on a daily basis and even some make up brushes. and only £13 for a set of 7, you can not go wrong!

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Something else I stumbled across in Ikea was this handy shelf draw. Under £50 and very stylish design, if I didn’t have asymmetric walls I would have loved to have these in my bedroom. Just for putting away a few things releasing a lot more space.

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When in doubt, decorate something…or just buy a load of junk.

So I have had a lot of time on my hands lately, what with avoiding writing stories for this blog and not having a job etc. (We won’t dwell on the later as much, please).

I have been filling my time, however, with finding a lot of pretty things to make my teenager themed room into a space a mature and intelligent young woman does some very indepth thinking.

The first things I found were these adorable jars in T K Max. I just filled them with coloured glass pebbles and kind of killed two birds with one stone (poor birds) in the sense that I have now cleared away my nail paint and made the room a touch more graceful with the jars! I love them!

I’ve filled the larger one with larger glass hearts rather than pebbles but it gave a similar effect! They varied in price, the smallest being £3.99 and the largest being £5.99. There was another size up which I couldn’t get because I would have had difficulties getting it home, but maybe next time I go, I’ll pick it up!

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I also bought a vintage looking green glass jar which I also filled with pebbles and I think I’m going to find a nice artificial flower to put inside which will finish it off nicely. And I got it from the same store for just £1.99 and placed it on my windowsill.

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To keep to the glass theme I found this green glass plate or pot, and I knew that it worked well with my white room, also I knew that it would be ideal to place a few Lush bath bombs onto it so release an aroma so my room would be smelling fresh! I had this glass structure left over from an old popuri set that was lying around. and I placed it next to the green jar on the windowsill. I think it looks super sophisticated! And the added pieces of popuri make it look a touch more magical…

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Excuses and a new story! The Kitchen

So its been quite some time since I’ve posted any stories on here, with being a new graduate I felt pretty pressured into spending my time applying for endless job applications. But the holiday season is pretty much here, so I thought I would take some time to just relax, rediscover myself and try and get back into the flow of writing.

This ones a little older but still one of my favourites, and reminds me of the good times with my parents, not too festive but still a nice slice of home! (with some footnotes for assistance!)

‘I have to think of something to do with conflict in the kitchen for this week’s story.’ It wasn’t really what she wanted to be thinking about just before her dinner, but this week’s assignment was proving to be difficult for Sanjana. She was determined to do it. With such a broad subject, she was bound to find some kind of idea. Coming into the kitchen to feed her hunger, she saw her parents putting away the Tesco shopping bags, moving swiftly from one end of the room to the other, their movements almost synchronised like skaters on ice. The low friction between the porcelain tiled floor and their socks helping them sashay effortlessly.

‘Conflict…? Like what? What is that?’ her father didn’t really turn around to look at her, he still had on his green suede coat, and the rain had left traces of splattered dark marks on his shoulders. He opened a cupboard door, above the kettle, and shoved in some Corn Thins, a packet of mixed seeds and some PG Tips. Sanjana’s family had made a recent switch from all things sweet to all things that taste like cardboard. She wasn’t exactly sure whose idea this low calorie switch was as everyone seemed to complain about it.

‘Yeah, you know like a fight or something, but it has to happen in some kind of kitchen and has to have, like, smells or senses incorporated into it.’  She handed her father the milk as he walked over to the fridge.

‘Oh…ask your mum,’ he looked over to his wife and poked her with his toe, ‘eyy Pinkye-eh, what should she do?’

‘Hai! What are you doing? Ghandha![1] Don’t touch me with your foot, Yogesh!’ Pinky moved away instantly as her husband’s foot came close to her again for a tauntingly humorous second poke.

‘Move away from me!’ Pinky’s patience was beginning to wear thin and her husband knew that if he stepped any closer he would come close to losing the whole leg let alone the toe.

Sanjana began to see a scenario developing and said nothing to provoke a change of subject between her parents. This would be perfect for her piece and she knew it. Her father, giving up on putting away the groceries, lifted up the lid of the saucepan on top of the white cooker and looked inside. There was no steam, the dinner had been prepared a while ago, yet there was still the scent cardamom pods and cumin seeds diffusing around the house. Her mother had forgotten to close the door whilst cooking again and the tingle of ginger and garlic could be smelt from the living room.

‘The house smells of turka![2] You didn’t close the door again! Every time I come home from work and I can smell lassan[3] everywhere, bloody hell!’ Her father’s temper was always very extreme and over the top but never lasted too long. His temper was what kept Sanjana and her brothers in line, but it was his ability to cool down so quickly that made him slightly more approachable than her mother.

The cupboard doors above the counter top were still half open and bulging with extra bags of chapatti flour and rice, tins of plum tomatoes and tubes of garlic puree. Between the black granite worktop and mounted oak cupboards was the running seam of splash back tiles; stained yellow from the years of making oily curries and frying countless amounts of samosas and pakoras. She had not had a chance to clear up before her husband’s arrival and was now busy with putting away the frozen garlic cubes in the already over flowing freezer.

“Many times I tell your father buy freezer, buy big fridge, he don’t do!”

“Don’t do nain doesn’t do it hunda ya[4]!” Yogesh corrected his wife, “Ekee sal[5] it’s been since you’ve been in this country, more maybe and you can’t even speak the language properly yet!” Yogesh looked over to Sanjana and winked, “And my food isn’t even gharam![6] What is this?” He took a long sniff of the contents in the saucepan, “Chollay chawal![7] I’ve come home to bloody chollay? I should have gotten married to your sister, she was selling for less goats! And makes at least some decent food.”

‘Um…dad? Maybe this isn’t the best time…’ She tired warning her father, but he was hardly listening, caught up in his own mischief.

‘Your sister makes good food and has managed to keep her figure after bearing three children, what about you toddow?[8] You have three children too.’ Her father looked at Sanjana with triumph and pride over his comment.

Sanjana’s eyes shot straight over to her mother’s face and she analysed it to see the kind of reaction her father would get. From the crimson rising from Pinky’s cheeks to her pale temples, it looked like things were about to go the way of the Mahabharata[9].

“Ja, dafa ho, ja![10] Get out from here! Idiot man!” Pinky grabbed a broom from the corner of the room by the bins and advanced towards her husband.

“Hey, I’m your husband; this is no way to treat me!” Yogesh tried desperately to stop his wife from coming closer, but was met by the end of the broom to his crotch.

“You think I’m your naukrani[11]? Make the food, put away the food, and clean up the food! Now you make your own food! Ghando sala![12]” Pinky managed to sweep her daughter and husband into the hallway and held onto the heavy fire door to make sure they could not re-enter her territory. And with a final stab at her husband’s arrogance, yelled “Ja, buddhay ma dhey cucher wich bhet ja[13], I know she is your first wife and your only love!” and slammed the white door shut.

Sanjana was never really astonished or shocked at her parents’ behaviour. It was only when she saw other couples their age acting sane and conservative that she felt that there was something not quite ordinary about her own mother and father. She knew from a very young age that their relationship was one that was constructed by her grandparents, an arranged marriage. She understood that without her grandparents’ help, her parents would never in a million years have dated or even married and in turn she would not even exist. Sanjana loved that even though her parents didn’t know very much about each other before they married; they had blossomed into a relationship where it was acceptable for Pinky to drive Yogesh out of the kitchen with a broom.

She looked up at her father, he was grinning because he had enjoyed annoying his wife, he seemed happy with the fact that he was able to wind his wife up to the extent that she would lose her temper. For him it was a kind of triumph.

‘Why do you annoy her so much? You do it on purpose, I know.’ Sanjana quizzically looked at her father.

‘Of course I do it on purpose! She’s chucked me out of the kitchen, now I can relax while she warms up my food for me. She doesn’t understand jokes; she’s a very gullible person… Any films on tonight?’

‘You have no shame, dad.’

‘Ey Pinky-eh! Make sure you bring my food to the table, and make sure its gharam![14]

Sanjana could hear her mother from inside the kitchen but could not understand half the obscenities that were being yelled over the banging of the steel pots and pans. She heard a plate being violently lifted from the shelf and dropped onto the granite counter top. She then heard it a few moments later being thrown into the microwave oven with the miniature door being slammed shut. A few buttons were pressed and the hum of the machine began.

Sanjana gripped the door handle and opened the door. It was a risky move, but she went in for the purpose of her work, she needed to see her mother’s actions, she needed to remember every part of this argument for her assignment. Pinky turned her head away from the silver sink for a second to see her daughter enter, gestured her over and turned back around to continue washing the dishes. As Sanjana moved closer her mother began to speak loud and clear so that her father could hear.

‘Does that man seem crazy to you? He is making me so crazy, summaj dah ki apna ap nu?[15]’ Her mother seemed to be a little calmer now than before. Her ponytail was becoming loose and some stray hairs from her head were sticking up, but she didn’t seem to care. Her beige Marks and Spencer t-shirt was wet from washing the dishes and little stains could be seen from where the oil spat up at her while she was cooking. The suds had made her hands look like prunes and the gold from her rings shone in the fluorescent lighting.

‘Have I told you what your grandfather said to me about my husband?’ Not this old story again, thought Sanjana. Every time her parents had an argument, her mother would tell her the same tale over and over.

‘Your grandfather, my father, was psychic. He spoke truths about people that no one even knew about. He was having argument with me one night and he said to me my husband would be a monkey who loved his mother more than me. And look what I got? A monkey who just sits with his mother all day long after work.’ Pinky turned away and started to put dishes back into their places in the cupboards mounted above the counter. ‘You choose your husband properly; make sure he doesn’t live with his mother.’

Sanjana wasn’t too sure about the story her mother told her, she knew her grandfather was an amazing man, but a psychic? Perhaps Yogesh was right, perhaps her mother was just a very gullible person.

‘Take this food to your father’, Pinky opened the microwave, ‘tell him if it isn’t hot enough he can warm himself! I don’t want to see his butha[16]. I’m going upstairs to sleep.’

‘Right, okay.’ Sanjana held the plate at the edges and walked out of the kitchen and into the living room where her father was waiting for his meal.

‘Where’s Pinky? She’s gone ruskeh?[17]

‘I did warn you’, Sanjana could see that he was sorry for winding Pinky up and she could see that he was a lot more loving than Pinky gave him credit for.

‘You know I was thinking,’ her father’s guilt seemed to wash away within a few seconds, ‘you can use your mother’s argument as your homework, sorted.’

‘Yeah. Thanks, dad’, Sanjana sighed, emotionally exhausted.


[1] Dirty (masculine- to a male)

[2] Cooking/masala smell

[3] garlic

[4] It’s not ‘don’t do’ its ‘doesn’t do it’

[5] Twenty one years

[6] Hot

[7] Chickpeas and rice

[8] Someone who waddles

[9] Hindu Poem about an epic war

[10] Go, get lost, go

[11] Slave girls/servant

[12] Stupid idiot

[13] Go, old man, and sit in your mother’s lap!

[14] hot

[15] What/who does he think he is?

[16] Ugly face

[17] To sulk

 

Fenugreek

It’s incredible that our planet is home to seven billion people and counting. In the comics I collect from the piles of treasure-trash thrown onto the beach, there are pictures of a different world. A world with money, a world with heroes and princesses. Something very different to the beach. To my beach.

I won’t tell you where exactly but on the northern edge of Mumbai is where my world is. My mother makes extra cash cleaning middle class houses, she then comes back to her own make shift house held together with weak wiry string. We have a blue sheet of plastic that has done us the honour of flying across the gutters of the continent to be one of our four walls. The other three are my mother’s old saris, the lime green colour and the once luminous purple boarders faded by the sun. Our roof is nothing to brag about, it is just a few white jagged pieces of plastic and brown cardboard that used to be a box my father found washed up on the beach. Every night as I lay my head I see the words “Dell” and “INSPIRON”, repeating them over and over in my head, wondering what they mean until I fall asleep.  

My father was brought up in a normal house but was then disowned by his family for marrying my low cast mother. So he made a home here on the beach. He jokes and calls it his small beach apartment. My mother mocks his optimism by asking him if he would like the AC on higher, lifting the blue plastic wall from the sand above her head and holding it in place with a stick. Despite their differences in realism, they are in love.

Today there is a panic in my father’s eyes. He does not send me to school, but I am still woken up at dawn by my mother with the same distress in her manner. They begin to talk in low hush voices and my eight year old mind can only take a few moments of concentration before I walk away. In my world if something is serious, if there is something you need to know then there is no hesitation, no difficulty in finding out, no hush voices and low tones. There are no secrets here.

Normally, as I step out onto the sand I can smell the fresh fenugreek Ali, our neighbour, cuts from his plantation. My mother says that he loves to cheat people out of their money, charging seventy rupees for a bunch of fenugreek that is only worth twenty to twenty-five rupees. He says that it is because his plantation is the freshest in all of Mumbai. His secret being the water he digs from under the sand which is sweet, not salty. But as I step out today I am not met with the fragrant scent, instead the smell of waste, normally hidden by the plant, explodes into my nostrils hitting the back of my throat.

I look around and people are dismantling their houses. Men are on top of their makeshift roofs tearing down the foundations of their shelters.  Women are piling their belongings onto the cement of the sidewalk, holding their tiffin boxes and their framed pictures of deities, clutching onto misbehaving children and scolding them.  My world was behaving strangely, not in the nonchalant way that it usually acts. Nasrin, Ali’s wife walks over to my mother and asks why we aren’t doing the same as everyone, why we aren’t making our house look as if it never even existed. She says something about the machines coming, the life destroying bulldozers sent over from the government.

My mother’s face doesn’t look like Nasrin’s. It is not as panic stricken, not as worried. My mother has seen many of her houses torn down, many of her palaces smashed to smithereens. She knows the rituals of the government and their live size toys.

“Let them come,” she says. “Let them come, only when I see them will I believe it.”

She is so strong willed and thick skinned; I begin to think that my father chose her for her brutal approach to life, rather than her feminine charm.

The day passes fairly slow as most of my friends help their families take down their small memories one by one, only to put them back together again once the machines have come and fulfilled their duty. I feel the trembling on the ground before I hear the roaring of the engines and climb on top of my roof to have a better look, above the crowds of people that have gathered. I don’t get to look for too long as my father rushes me down and gets on the roof himself to snap away the thin threads keeping our shack together. They are here, they did come, and it wasn’t just a rumour!

My mother moves quickly now as the machines come closer and closer, tearing down any hint of formation, any scent of a home is crushed under the contraption’s heavy conveyor belt feet. The long arm of the bulldozer is extending, reaching for our house. It gets closer and closer until my mother and father can save no more, until our shack is broken and scrunched into nothingness under the weighty apparatus.

For the fourth time this year, our home is destroyed. A few hours pass and I suddenly look towards my mother who is laughing, she embraces my father and they are both happy. Then I hear her words of happiness.

“The government is going to be busy with an election!” She sighs relief, “They’ll be too busy to be tearing our homes down any time soon for a few months.” With this small piece of news, even I am happy. For a few months my world will remain intact.