Tuesday, June 22, 2010

About Me. And then some.

Twenty-six-year-old Delhi-based journalist who likes to talk about herself. (You can actually skip the crap and go right to the bottom of the page. I do it with other people's posts all the time.)
Why woodchuck?
I love rhyme. Also nonsense rhyme but especially this rhyme. I love the woodchuckcouldchuck part if you say it really fast. And I love the perfectly simple logic of the answer.

How much wood could a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?
A woodchuck could chuck a lot of wood if a woodchuck could chuck wood!
Here's a good sport granny trying to say it.

Why the header?

Sentiment, mostly.

The lady in the header picture is the grandmother (not the lady in the youtube link) of my ex boyfriend and childhood friend. Or rather, first, the mother of my mother's close friend THEN the grandmother of a childhood friend who only more recently -- which is still a couple of years ago -- became the ex.

“Nani” lives in Bombay with her middle-aged bachelor son. She woke up from her nap one humid Bombay August noon and wore a sari at tea time because her grandson’s  friend, I the guest , was coming over to tea. I thought that was header-worthy.

Why the cagey description?
I've always thought I had the catchiest 2nd line -- but why cage it in description -- it's right there, on top, on the header that Love Bites very kindly made for me, after not really tearing me apart and then I plugged myself here.

I don't cage it in description because it’s easier that way. I can't answer what I blog about. I hum and I haw and I say, "this and that.. you know.. people.." 70 percent of my body is laze, not water. It’s too much effort to categorise posts into dating, family, flowers, elephant, work, 'random'. Just like I don't categorise 450 words of text as English. Suits me better. I apologise for sounding callous and inconveniencing you, but let me off on this, please. Labels are a chore. Make me fill bottles of water instead, which till labels, topped my list of most mundane household task.

Why Nimpipi?
Short version: It's what the placard read.

True story: One day, in 2005, I landed at the Madras airport on work.

(I’m a journalist. We’re all very proud of me, yes yes, next.)

Landing at the Madras airport on work makes me sound more officious than I am, but there I was, en route to villages around Pondicherry with 2 other “media persons” to report on the work an NGO was doing to help rehabilitate villages wiped out by the Tsunami.

So when we -- the other two "media persons" and I -- got out of the airport, our Tamil taxi driver was there, holding up three placards, with their names spelt right and a ‘NIMPIPI’ for me, ‘i’s dotted big and round. We just stood there for a moment taking this in - two officious sounding names and then one… Nimpipi! It broke the ice. We laughed and the two guys harped for two days, “Nimpipi! Hey Nimpipi! What's the plan, Nimpipi?”

I didn’t really mind. It carried on till we said our byes back at the Delhi airport. That was the end of that. Till the following April , that is -- 2006, I needed a user name for the blog. Nimpipi popped into my head. Sounds like a little girl with pigtails, but it does have gentler sounding syllables than those in my real name.

I like blogging. It's the closest thing to a hobby. There’s writing, there’s interaction, my friends get to know what’s happening in my life -- I’m self important enough to have RSS feeds delivered to 5 select mailboxes. There’s anonymity, there’s publicity, there’s sanction to bitch and I certainly seem to enjoy myself.
Yes, so, 26, female, journalist, bored, doesn't do justice to me but often it’s apt (especially the bored part). I should've done this About Me thing when I started blogging, but for years I stayed behind the happily anonymous guise I wrote for myself back then: 22 going on 60, at peace and completely in love with myself.

My friend copied it for his then Orkut profile and I was annoyed with him for not crediting me, but we’re past that now. I even mention him from time to time and put up pictures of his pink shirts. Like the labels, I don't have it in me to feature the dramatis personae. They'll come. You'll know when.

On my birthdays, I have changed the 22 going on 60 to 23 and then 23 to 24 to 25 to 26. The going on 60 stays constant. That might change if I keep at this blog for 35 more years.

I feel like a ghost, or at least like the narrator of a controversial autobiography when I say this, but to know where I'm coming from, you need to know my default settings, my family.

If this were being shot on film, I’d have my back to the camera. On “Action!”, I, in my tulle dress and wispy fringe, would turn a little towards my audience so you could see my half-flirty smile, and follow me obediently when I, with my forefinger, gesture to you in slow motion for you to come along and accompany me on this er, wonderful journey of love.

Really, I could put Simi Garewal in all her lip sync glory to shame. Maybe even Barbra Cartland, given my leanings towards purple prose. (My English Lit college prof told me this).

Anyway. Beauty pageant no-surprise fact: my mother, for better or worse, often worst -- is my biggest influence. Sometimes I get scared when I recognise a gene. We’re not best friends. But the resemblance is unmistakable. The way we speak -- I consciously speak slowly and deliberately because my mother's mind is an extraordinary hurry to get to the next thought and then the next. And my boyfriend, for one, gets flustered because he can't follow what she says!

He's better at following me.

I'm better at speaking -- slower, but with the same tendencies as my mother. My features, our features, the way I look in photographs, the way I look like her in photographs, our impatience gene, the thinking that I/we/ mother and daughter/ have the most beautiful hands in the world. It's a scary overlap, somewhere compensated by her solid gold strengths. She's got the memory of an elephant. Her 'people instinct', that's what my father calls it, is a sharp, scary weapon. Not in a "mothers always know" way, more in a "put her in the secret service to sniff out the rotten ones" kind of way.

My friends will smile at this: I fight being like her. I fight her!

But now that I'm 26 (and only till September), I'm loosening up, I hope.


My father is a more tame, less hassled man. From him, I get sanity. He is a sage with a sense of humour. He'll put you at ease. He's wry, detached, and accustomed to taking life being taken with a pinch of salt. For my father, nothing is serious enough to get stressed about. He is the man I respect. Measured words, Piscean manner -- all my father. He retired from the Army years ago. This year, and in 8 months, with no help from me, he's completed his first book on military war fiction. I am so proud of him.

Together, he and my mother, for better or worse -- there's that phrase again -- make a firebrand couple. But when they fight, I am on his side. I’ve got the daddy’s little girl thing down pat.

My brother, fourteen months older than I, joined the army after getting nowhere in college and having the shittiest marks in school. He's a smart, popular, fun-loving person. Girls run after him. It swells his head. Swollen heads would piss you off too if it belonged on the neck of your only sibling. I write about this. Doesn't make me seem very nice but what to do.

"I need to get over my condescension about brother's twit girlfriend. It's becoming a problem. I talk down to him because of her. I crack my jokes. I think I'm so funny. I obviously don't understand."
-- me, all me.

Obtuseness is only a slice of the pie. I admire my brother for his spirit. Twice he was struck with a muscle atrophy disease, twice in his fledgling army career. He had blood transfusions, intravenous drips, a scary prognosis and months of paralysis. From the worry, the fear, the running around, the lack of sleep, my parents aged ten years in a few months. That boy had the strength to be cheery and light hearted around them. The nurses loved him. And even when he couldn’t move, he’d try to sit up straight in his hospital bed when anyone came to visit, especially another officer. Now, touch wood, he's fine, back on his feet and back in the army.

This is him really going at the 'mithai' at a Sikh wedding last winter

And this, this is us standing in the shallow end of an empty swimming pool.
My brother likes to pose.
Seen here: smiling sister holds whiskey glass of sibling.

I have a soft spot for the Armed forces because my best memories are of my childhood. I was a lucky army kid who grew up in cantonments and other small towns, away from Delhi schools where 11-year-old girls lift hemlines of their uniform skirts because boys won’t look at them otherwise. I give thanks for that.

I don't blog about family all that much, I don't have nicknames for them, nor do they read this, but things you're proud of should come right on top, right?

My boyfriend is the other person I avoid mentioning too much, I don't know why -- the laundry logic, and keeping it personal, perhaps. But he is very much a part of most of these posts as and when they happen. He has a bakery. Like my brother's girlfriends, I have a beef with this too and I mention it now and then. What I don't have is a nickname for him either. Piano Man, Jazzy B, nothing works. I should try Schroeder. For while I love Charlie Brown and peanuts, this is he:

Playing in his jazz band,
performing at a gig,
looking back to see
if the drummer and bassist are okay, too

I believe Schroeder and Lucy is us.

It worries me that if we break up, I'll have to re-do the last section of this page. How's your rating of me on the superficial scaling doing, now?

Anyhow. This is the repetitive, dare I say -- nutshell, me. I'm 25. I could be 60. I feel like I've been a journalist forever. Although idler in a newspaper office is more apt. I want to use my name, and be more personal, but I'm afraid Google will throw up dirt on me --- my CV, the fact that I failed my Masters in Linguistics, and got bored working on a tiger campaign. Google has all my skeletons.

I used to say here that I'm 23 going on 60, at peace and I'm mostly in love with myself. I liked the sound of that, but I changed it to someday, I will be a writer, and you will already know me. But now, given that blogging is one of the few things I haven't abandoned on day two, I jolly will better believe that writing is my thing. I love it. It's what I do.

October 2011, edited to add: Hello, we broke up. It's a tedious process to rewrite all this, and change "my boyfriend" to something less past tense, so please buy my lame excuses. <3


One of the five said...

Hmm .. I thought Nimpipi came from 'I dId WIN'. (Write that on a paper and turn it upside down)

Anyways ... it's a great blog you have. Love reading it. Will love to read your book too :)

Janaki said...

Superb! The nimpipi story is so cute and by the end of the post, I had tears in my eyes.. and was also wondering why. Yes indeed, we are very proud of you. Miss you tremendously.

The Unbearable Banishment said...

Humm. Interesting. I had formed my own history of you and didn’t really need this.

Re: Your mother. The apple never falls far from the tree. Have you heard that expression?

I had horrible grades and gravitated to the U.S. Coast Guard for six years. It saved my life. If not for Mother Coast Guard, I’d have wound up toiling in a factory in Cleveland, vs. spending a few decades in New York City.

I was given a very favorable write-up on Ask and You Shall Receive last summer. It was one of the happiest days of my life. Sad as that sounds.

My wife has requested that I leave her out of my blog and I have complied.

Is it fair to say that your boyfriend is influenced by American music, then? Does he prefer Popular Standards or does he gravitate to more avant garde jazz?

Anonymous said...

Not many 'About Me' sections are this interesting. Or this cleverly written. But then, not many lives are interestingly lived either.

The part about Nimpipi being the name of a little girl with pigtails is surprisingly exactly what I thought of the name. I always thought it has to be a nickname from childhood :)

Loved this post!

Nimpipi said...

One in five: Hi! 'I did WIN' -- no, never thought of that. What a smug inside joke! Book's a long while from now, and mostly in the air, but someday..

Thank you for the faith.

Janaki: Oh come on! You, I must've told this story to! Please don't get all mushy in your old age:D. Come to Delhi. I miss you too. Good conversations are so sparse!

Un B : You're smarter than the average reader to have figured my history in a finger snap. :)

Apple doesn't fall far from the tree. Yup. Always liked that one. I am Apple. No relation to Gwyneth and Chris Martin :P

Your six years in the U.S coast guard is a book I'd want to read. I know what you mean by it saved your life. Although the feeling will probably resonate better with my brother.

Ask and you shall receive, yes! Not sad at all. I was ecstatic with my notch-higher-than-mediocre rating! And anyway, that's how I stumbled on your blog. Bless them for that. You really raise the bar, Un B.

Your wife's a wise woman. I have a baby on my hands! We're not married and he already thinks I excel at making him sound like an ass.

Fair to say he's influenced by American music? Yes, I'd say so. Most of us are. When it comes to playing music though, he likes the old stuff, the popular jazz standards. Fats Waller, Oscar Peterson. Art Tatum, Louis Armstrong, Chet Baker -- he knows this stuff in his sleep.

I'm being a brave heart in linking him here but this is his band playing Libertango, if you care for that stuff

Dark C: I never wore pigtails, never made a plait, and now I'm back to a short crop:) Nunu was the nickname from childhood. Interesting life -- oh, I don't know. I try to spice things up and create my own entertainment; good practice for all this writerly business:)

Thank you, though. I'm glad you keep coming back.

Parul said...

I think I am in love.

Ramit Grover said...

Whoa! A much needed respite from the curiosity that was killing me. I always used to think your real name was Nimpipi WoodChuck. Heh.

*runs and hides behind the couch*

Miss. Mystic said...

Nimpipi Woodchuck does sound like a cool name! Kinda like a Chinese girl married to a Brit! :D
Really nice to know about you! I hope I can right a sensible "About me" one day.

Anonymous said...

guy who thought of "I did win", well played. that was sharp.

Kshitij said...

"That is about to change in this self indulgent schpiel that I hope is systematic, well-formatted, grammatically sound, somewhat interesting, typo-free and only as long as needed."

I was in love with you until noticed the irony here :)

Pringle Man said...

Thanks for the nimpipi etymology enlightenment. Trivia knowledge is the most valued!

It's nice that you get along so well with the family and have what seems to be a iron clad relationship.

Also, the blog seems to really have taken off the past year. You write much more, about many more things and the flow of your voice is lovely.

Yaay for your dad! Give details please of release date and title and all, shamelessly advocate, must read it, we shall.

Nimpipi said...

Parul: Flattered!

BeeGee: Why you pull my leg so, kind gent? Respite from the curiosity that was killing you manne?

Mystic: Sensible is overrated. But when you write your about you, send me the link. Would love to read.

Anon: Yup. No two ways.

Kshitij: Not the first time I've made that mistake! I'm sorry, I'm sorry -- 'spiel', yes. To reward my acknowledgment of gaffe, please go back to being in love with me. :)

Pringle: Look at us, lovers of both gift wrapping and trivia! :)

Iron clad relationships - not without hiccups, huh. But why showcase the negative, I say.

I am enjoying blogging more! Thank you for noticing. You're my favourite appreciator. :)

Oh and my father's manuscript is with the publishers. Shall drop you a line when it's out.

Ramit Grover said...

Took me a while to figure out Bee Gee is me. Gah!

Kshitij said...

I want to decide after your next post :)

Soulmate said...

Salute to your brother.. Anything to do with Armed Forces has all of my respect... All I wish is, if I was a part of it.. :-)

looby said...

That's great. You pull of that tricky mixture making self-absorbtion (essential to any writer) attractive for others to follow.

Just saw you commentin on Unbearable so am following some crumbs.

Anonymous said...

"70% of me is laze"


Anthony Bourdain held a massively exhausting job, would wake up at 5 am and write 15 minutes before leaving for work at 6 am.

500 words a day, just like the cigarette on waking up. And Kitchen Confidential was born.

Just saying.

- k

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