I must confess its much better than before. I remember, many years ago, being constantly asked “So, what does your father do? & then many years later “And, what does your husband do?”
Now I’m asked “So you are a singer? actress? painter? poet? blogger? (yes, that’s become an official profession, almost) And now… Writer? ”
My job profile is difficult to explain. I’ve never thought of any of the things i do as a job so… on different days I say different things.
And then they say “Phew! Oh…ok…cool! Multitasking aanh? Well so you must have a lot of fun? What next? Do you plan to get into jewelry design? Or interiors? Women really have a flair for that kind of thing you know. But how do you manage? I mean, must be hard…
The tone is often patronizing. On most days I can ignore it, on some days it pisses me off. “A girl like you… ( accompanied by a gaze staring furtively at body parts, neck down ) needs a nice guy to look after her. You can’t be alone you know…”
“Ofcourse Romeo. I get you totally. Hows the wife? Give her my regards”
To make it easier, when I am forced to put a label on what I do, I call myself an artist…because that’s the only word I can use to describe myself. Artist. And Mother. When I want to be vain and am having a ‘low self esteem’ or ‘bad hair’ or ‘fat’ day I describe myself as pop singer, or occasional ilm actress or some such thing.
People and my friends in India, kind of know what I do(I have been in the public eye on and off since I was 15) but to strangers its harder to explain so I don’t bother.
I remember an incident in London a while ago.. A friend of mine wanted to catch up with this really nice intelligent educated Indian guy she knew very well and that I HAD to meet. But at the last minute (I had already reached the venue) she called to say that she was held up and couldn’t make it. So I ended up having tea with him all alone.
We were at a cafe in Chelsea & he had just finished boasting about all the great things he had recently accomplished. Multimillion dollar mergers and acquisitions, dining with the Prince, blah blah. He said my friend had told him all about me and who I am and how happy he was to meet me.
He then asked me what I am currently busy with. I told him I am writing a book.
He smiled kindly
“Acting,singing, painting and now writing? That’s great. What kind of book?
“You know, just a book. About things I know”
“Oh ok. Is it autobiographical?”
“Uh Huh. Sort of”
I could see a gleam entering his eye. “Great. I hope you’re going to reveal all. Everything. Don’t leave out anything and don’t be shy. Is there going to be a chapter on….”
“On what?” I was wary. He was a friend of a friend (I still curse her for setting me up on this hideous date-she later confessed that he was looking to meet a homely Indian girl!) but still a stranger to me
“Oh come-on. You know who I am talking about? You know, the whole scandal thing…I read about it everyday in the papers sitting here in London. You are famous!”
Yeah right -whatever. But still i replied “No No. This is not that kind of book. It’s based on my childhood, growing up in a very interactive Co-operative housing society in Mumbai. Kid stuff really.”
“You mean a childrens book?” He sipped his tea and leaned forward some more. The smile got broader and kinder” Oh you’ll be great at that. I can so totally imagine you doing that. A childrens book…like…a little girl sitting with her doll and saying…where is my pudding? You turn the page and it goes ‘where is my pudding? And the little girl is getting all angry, and her mouth is opened really wide and she says again, I demand to know where is my pudding?…nice! Are you going to be doing the illustrations too??”
I was rather shocked at his impression of the kind of book I would write. “Well, its not a ‘where is my pudding’ kind of book. It’s for the young reader as well as the adult. It’s a series actually, the Swapnalok Society series, and…the first book in the series is called ‘The Summer of Cool’
It explores the typical ethos of life in middle class urban India. As seen through the eyes of a ten year old girl in search of her father”
“Uh…ok. Want to come over to my place for dinner later?”
“Its my baby sitters night off so I’ll have to take my daughter along where ever I go. If that okay with you…”
“Uh uh” The broad kind smile disappeared “My house is not very child friendly. She could get hurt…and i just remembered I have this important conference call to take tonight. May go on for hours…” He paid the bill -wouldnt accept the notion of going dutch.
“thanks for the tea”
“My pleasure. Ofcourse if the baby sitter situation changes tonight give me a call… and; oh Yeah. Good luck with the book. Summer of Cool huh? Kewl!!”
As we left the café I was feeling a bit upset. Upset that i had been set up on a date with a jerk, confused about who I am and all the things i do and everything else. The ‘Main kaun hoon -kahan hoon’ syndrome.
The final nail in the coffin of my identity crisis was struck when I overheard him talking into his phone as he got into his cab. He thought i was out of earshot “Yeah. Sweet girl…you know who she is right? Shekhar Kapur’s ex wife…”
:-0 :-0 :-0