Monthly Archives: March 2014

To all the Divya Ks out there – Part IV

As you can tell from the title of this post, I’ve written on this subject — i.e. the infuriating commonness of my name — several times. In fact, it was one of the first subjects I wrote about on this blog, given my glee over grabbing the domain name divyakumar.com out of the clutches of the many other Divya Kumars out there.

It’s been a while now since I wrote about it last, but nothing’s changed in the interim. I still regularly get emails meant for all those other Divya Ks. One of the most annoying instances was when I received a flood of resumes from a bunch of desperate job seekers. Obviously one of the Divya Ks was recruiting freshers and, as always, there had been an email address mix up. Or had there? In this instance, I began to suspect that she’d given the wrong address on purpose to the least promising/most aggravating candidates. Because, from what I could tell, none of these kids could spell or construct a grammatical sentence. And at least a couple had some form of severe short term memory loss, since they just kept sending me their CVs again and again in spite of my repeatedly telling them they’d got the address wrong…

It’s amazing what insights I’ve gotten into the lives of all these Divyas over the years, though. Bank and credit card statements (so much for secure online banking right, Divya Kapoor?), flight booking details, phone bills (that Divya Khanna sure has been talking up a storm)… these, of course, I’ve written about before. What’s new is the peeks I’ve been getting into their online shopping habits recently. With the internet shopping boom that’s happening in India, I now regularly receive emails from various online stores about all these goodies they’ll be shipping to ‘me’ soon — saris, electronics, books, you name it. It’s kinda fun… for a little while, I live vicariously through the Divya Ks out there, getting that virtual retail therapy rush without actually burning a hole in the credit card (though I can’t say I like Divya K. Sharma’s taste in clothes much. Not all that glitters needs to be on your sari, m’dear).

But recently, I got some emails that were less fun. Actually, with each one that arrived, I started getting increasingly jittery. You see, for the first time, I was feeling the pain of a fellow Divya K parent. Her child, it appears, studies at this institution that emails parents their child’s grades at the end of the term. Clearly, parents’ email ids is not the only thing that this school was screwing up on, because, let me tell you, the report cards weren’t pretty. Subject after subject was marked ‘FAIL’ in bold red. By the time the third email arrived, with the child’s language scores, I was a nervous wreck, and found myself desperately hoping it wasn’t another big, fat F. Thankfully, the child had – just barely – passed English and Hindi, so I could breathe again.

As I get older, I’m getting more philosophical about this whole having a common-as-heck name thing. After all, it gives me a glimpse into these women’s lives, and I realise we share a whole lot more than our names. We share the stresses of parenthood, we share the joys of shopping and troubles on the job too. So, to all the Divya Ks out there… I salute you. We’ll make through. And to the Divya K whose son is flunking so dreadfully… hang in there. And maybe look for another school?

***

This was written for the “Power of names” weekly writing challenge over on Daily Post.

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The Toddler Exercise Regimen (TER)

Watching my toddler and her BFF (yes, apparently you can have besties that young) bounce around our flat this evening, I had a moment of inspiration. We don’t need to pay thousands of rupees for gym memberships we never use, or sign up for the latest neo-hippie fad workout in the city in a desperate effort to lose weight. No. All we need to do is to the incorporate the Toddler Exercise Regimen (TER) into our daily lives, and we’ll be burning off calories even as they’re ingested right through the day. Much like your average, live-wire two or three year old does.

Allow me to elaborate on some of the ways you can make the TER part of your life:

1) Wake up in the morning and bounce on the bed 10-15 times. Singing/yelling at the top of your voice is optional.

2) Finish breakfast and promptly run round and round in circles around your dining room/kitchen.

3) Hop like a frog/kangaroo/rabbit all the way to the car and again from the car to the office/store/miscellaneous destination. Animal sound effects optional.

4) While taking a break during the workday, climb onto your desk/chair and jump down. Repeat 10-15 times. Yelling “wheeeeeeee” is optional.

5) Instead of chatting on the phone or posting on Facebook or gossiping at the watercooler, zoom up and down office or apartment building corridors playing tag with friends/colleagues. Alternatively, if you’re feeling kinda anti-social, just zoom around by yourself, pretending to be an aeroplane or a superhero.

6) Instead of vegging out in front of the TV in the evening, jump up and down squealing (it might actually make whatever braindead TV show you’re watching seem more interesting).

7) Before you sleep at night, bounce on your bed another 10-15 times. Having a tickle-fight with a loved one is optional.

Easy as that. With these few simple steps, you can keep your weight down, your heart healthy and still eat pretty much anything you want to. If you ever find yourself slipping, just go around and spend time with the toddler closest to you. He or she will be happy to keep you on your toes. Literally.

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Results of this morning’s Bored Toddler Olympics

 Throwing multi-coloured balls onto pink blow-up chair (note: participant disqualified for not maintaining required distance from chair while throwing)

Emptying contents of salt shaker onto dining table : Gold awarded to Disha for spreading the salt evenly at fastest speed, but subsequently taken away for trying to mix diaper rash cream into salt

Running round and round in circles in the drawing room: Gold awarded to Disha for miraculously not stumbling over the few hundred toys on the floor

Tickling and rolling around the floor giggling: Gold shared by Amma (tickling) and Disha (giggling) for superb coordination and teamwork

Pooping in the potty (sort of): Gold to Disha! Go go go Disha!

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The tree that remembers

Note: This piece of fiction was inspired by marsowords’ hauntingly beautiful entry for the three’s weekly photo challenge: ‘The oddly scenic threesome.

He used to live there, in the house under that tree. The tree would flower in the spring, blooms blazing bright red and orange under the California sun. There’d be a carpet in the colours of autumn on the ground and the sun would glint gold between the leaves above.

We sat there, on that carpet, many an afternoon. It felt like we were the only people alive. Even then there was an uncanny silence surrounding us. The green orchards, fruit and busy workers that were just miles distant seemed a world away, and that dusty road never saw any traffic. Just barren land all around, and this one, single spot of colour, bathed in the light of life.

When he was gone, the light went away. I go there every week to his house, and keep it perfectly clean, as though he’s just away on a trip and will be back home any day soon. I go there every week, but I can’t stop the life seeping out of it.

The flowers don’t bloom any more, the branches have curled up as though in sorrow. Even the light doesn’t glint golden; everything is grey and brown, just as it is all around. The ground is dry and burnt, no carpet to soften it, just spiny seeds.

All that remains are the memories that linger in the air, haunting that tree and that house like so many spirits of the dead. Now I go there not to exult in the present but to drift into the past, a past that was golden and warm. I exist like that tree, alive but bereft of life, warped by the past and uncaring of the future.

***

This was written for the Weekly Writing Challenge: Threes over on Daily Post.

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