Muddling Through: The Life and Times of Tara Chatterjee

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Chapter 5

August 10th 2013


8:45 a.m.


Oh darling journal, did you miss me? I’m afraid there was just nothing to report over the weekend. Literally nothing. I slept for about 36 hours out of the 48 hours I had off from school. Oh and my parents took me out for dinner on Saturday. To celebrate. My dad’s super thrilled. He thinks this is the best thing that could ever happen ever. Also he’s happy because he used to drop me to drama classes every Sunday and had to miss his afternoon nap. So he’s glad that it all paid off, even if it is just a school play. And Grease is basically one of his favourite musicals ever. He has two categories of musicals that he likes. Andrew Lloyd Webber musicals are in one category and Grease and Hairspray are basically the entire other category.

Varun remains the best of the best even though today it was only jellybeans. Jellybeans aren’t exactly my favourite candy, but it’s the thought that counts. He also reported that HB was in a foul mood the whole bus ride. Apparently she was muttering my name threateningly under her breath. So hey if I disappear, you know whose door to knock on. You’ll probably find me in many many pieces in her basement.

Also I’ve just realized that the comatose guy I was sitting next to in the bus is actually in my grade. And in Section B which means he’s sitting in the line right next to mine and glaring at me. I didn’t even wake him up properly. I just sort of poked him a little bit. There was no need to growl at me. Okay maybe I did wave my hand in front of his face and hold my finger under his nose, but that was just to see if he was still breathing.

He’s just looking at me like he’s trying to figure out how to dispose of my body. I don’t understand why I elicit such responses from people. I’m actually very non-confrontational.

Oh Buttback’s congratulating all the people in the cast of Grease! Yay! Oh look Dhruv’s bowing and waving. Dhruv’s a very strange boy with a rather prominent unibrow. He’s very round and funny. People like him an awful lot. I think Amira had a bit of a crush on him a while ago but no one’s supposed to know about that.

9:07 a.m.


Conspiracy theory of the day: Gandhiji sent Bhagat Singh to his death because he was becoming too popular. Because that’s what a non-violent freedom fighter does. Sends execution orders to the British that they faithfully carry out.

Guess who congratulated me! Well obviously it was Karan because he’s the only person who I get excited by. The awesome thing is that I think we’re now maybe, possibly actual friends. Which means my slightly pathetic crush on him has some basis at least. Because even though I stole HB’s part he didn’t seem to have any hard feelings. Also I convinced Varun to stay back and be a part of the crew. And he can’t stand HB and Lovely either. He’s started calling HB Sadie (like from Awkward.) and its brilliant because she has no idea what that is. Also he listens to good music. Like actual good music. I mean most people around here think Travis is a cricketer so it’s very refreshing. And Karan is the sweetest thing in the world but his idea of a good time is a Yo Yo Honey Singh concert.

NLB congratulated me too. It’s nice having an ally in the band because he’ll definitely pull the pitch down a couple of octaves. And also both of Rizzo’s songs are mostly solos so I won’t even have to worry about other people.

Oooh NLB and LNLBF have now both turned around and are gossiping. See NLB and LNLBF both exist in a different stratosphere. I mean they are seriously popular and I am seriously not. I don’t even mean the Lovely/HB sort of popular where she bullies people into liking her and literally flirts with anything with a penis. I mean actual popular.

Apparently NLB is having problems with his girlfriend. Amira’ll be happy. She hates NLB’s girlfriend with a passion. There’s this group of three girls who pretty much only date the really popular guys and of course NLB is one of them. Apparently his girlfriend kissed one of the other really popular girls’ boyfriends’. So right now everybody hates her (NLB’s girlfriend that is). It’s kind of cool listening to these people. I feel like I’m on a TV show, because apart from almost fork stabbings, nothing even remotely dramatic ever happens to me.

Oh wait it was only on the cheek. What is with these people? That doesn’t even count as cheating. I’ll bet he just wanted an excuse to break up with her, because I mean that is ridiculous. Have they never watched 90210? It’s only cheating when its sex and even then if you cry enough you’ll probably manage to undo the cheating sex and get back together with the one you love in like three episodes.

10:23 a.m.


So when I told Ragini that there was a potential serial killer who looked like he had it in for me she just laughed. Why does nobody think I’m being serious ever? When they find my body in Varthur Lake they’ll all be sorry they mocked me.

Ugh is there anything worse than the Chemistry of Life? I mean I haven’t done Chemistry since the eighth grade so when you ask me to identify molecules I just blank. And I don’t even know why I’m taking this subject.

Oh wait I do. It’s because I have the weird urge to prove to everyone that I’m very smart and taking a fake science like ESS for my science requirement would definitely make everyone think I’m dumb. That’s also why I don’t take Math Studies even though it’s like thirty times easier than Standard Level Math, which is what I’m taking now.

I mean I want to be a historian (though I’m not exactly sure what being a historian entails). What historian has ever used calculus? I mean does Hans Mommsen need to know the number of oxygen molecules in a fatty acid? I don’t think so.

11:07 a.m.



You know when I say I’m scared of that dude I think he’s going to kill me, the last thing you friends should do is go up to said dude and strike up a conversation. I am definitely replacing them with Varun. Because Varun gives me chocolate and DOESN’T GO UP TO A POTENTIAL SERIAL KILLER TO ASK HIM IF HE WANTS TO MURDER ME.

Said potential serial killer just laughed (extremely unconvincingly if you ask me) and then said ‘of course not,’ in a way that meant ‘of course yes, I have a shovel in the trunk of my car that I’m just itching to use.’

Does no one understand that I don’t want to end up in the bottom of Varthur Lake? And even though he’s scrawny and looks like he weighs less than me, he has a sneaky look in his eye. Like he’s capable of taking you out with one thumb. I don’t know how to defend myself from people like that. Oh I am so dead.

11:13 a.m.

Still English

Really random American boy? You are absolutely a terrible, awful stereotype about what is wrong in America. So we were talking about whether or not its morally acceptable to have more than one sexual partner and of course Lovely being the most ridiculous person on the face of this planet goes, “If its alright to have more than one sexual partner why is polygamy illegal.”

And before I could say something cutting and sarcastic this daft American puts his hand up and says, “Are you kidding polygamy isn’t illegal.”

So Miss Poori looks at him a little confused and said, “Sweetheart polygamy is definitely illegal in most countries.”

“Uh that would make the Chinese really angry,” he said, as if we’re the daft ones.

“Why would the Chinese be angry?” she asked mystified at this unexpected turn the discussion had taken.

“Because they couldn’t make those birds and elephants anymore,” he said, with an annoying air of superiority.

Then Miss Poori finally cottoned on and was stuck between horror that this child didn’t seem to have basic knowledge and amusement.

“I think you mean origami,” she said, slowly. “Polygamy is a situation when someone is married to more than one person.”

“Woah,” he said excitedly. “Really? You can do that?”

“No you can’t,” she said firmly. “It’s illegal.”

He looked a little crushed, like he had just seen a bright future that had been ripped away from him. My condolences dumb American boy, my condolences.

12: 37 p.m.

Theory of Knowledge (TOK)

Guess who my TOK teacher is? It’s Miss Poori, which makes me very happy. Especially since TOK seems like a kind of flakey subject and at least I can hang out with my favourite teacher. Also Varun’s in this class. So I know I said he was very nice before but I’ve just realized that he’s kind of a bitch. Like Lovely just put her hand up and said something about how gayness was unnatural because gay people couldn’t produce children and he just went “well you’re unnaturally ugly but you don’t see me protesting.”

And I know it wasn’t even that funny but just the fact that he said it out loud in front of the whole class made it thirty times more hilarious. And also I think Miss Poori’s pretty tired of Lovely because she didn’t even yell at him or anything. She just snapped at everyone and told them to shut up. Ahh Varun if I didn’t already have such a stellar best friend in Amira you’d probably fill the slot no problems. Though I highly doubt you’re looking for a slightly neurotic, history obsessed BFF so I guess its all for the best.

1:43 p.m.


So I guess its an everyday thing now. To sit with Bowel Movement Boy, Karthik and Karan. Not that I’m complaining. Okay I’m complaining a little bit because with Karan comes HB and Lovely. They’re like his tails. Really annoying, really bitchy tails that frequently give me death stares. Also Amira said that I had to stop calling him Bowel Movement Boy now that we actually hang out with him. They have like three billion inside jokes. I mean it’s like forty minutes on a bus. How do they know so much about each other’s lives already? I mean I spend most of the bus ride comatose.

Wait a second did they just…?

No she wouldn’t...

Would she...?


1:59 p.m.

Still Lunch

Okay I am going to kill my best friend. Do you know how they know so much about each other? Because apparently the bus rides are forty minutes of just sharing secrets. JUST SHARING SECRETS. And not even their own secrets. Other people’s secrets. Other people’s very secret secrets.

So at first I thought they were just messing around but then they kept bringing up stupid Karan Joshi. And I was like why on earth are they bringing him up? I mean he left last year. But then they started looking at me and giggling. Like actually giggling. And I totally saw Amira making her cut-it-out face. I know her cut-it-out face because I’m usually the one she’s making it at.

So I stared at her intently and then her eyes got super big. But not the super big you’ve-made-me-mad, the super big I’m-sorry-please-don’t-kill-me.

“You told them?!” I asked. And they started laughing like idiots. Because Karan Joshi is possibly one of the biggest mistakes I have ever made. And keep in mind I go to therapy twice a week so I’ve made some pretty big mistakes.

2:25 p.m.


So I think Ragini and Amira might have just become number one fans of the person who wants to kill me. Apparently its not enough that she tells her whole bus literally the most embarrassing secret of my life she must be friends with my soon to be killer. Apparently he’s extremely cool. Ragini’s been going on for about twenty minutes about how funny he is. I’m funny but you don’t see her wanting to lick my face. Though I think this might just be a novelty thing. I mean he’s pretty strange. And slouchy. And totally not her type. Her type so far has actually been a lot like my type so far. There was that cocky British boy, Jatin Shah (who neither of us know why we had feelings for, I mean he had a nice smile but he was really really strange) and then rather unfortunately Karan Joshi. Now I know what you’re thinking, ha ha you’ve liked two boys called Karan. Weirdo.

Yes I know that’s weird but me liking this Karan has got nothing to do with the fact that the Karan pretty much ruined my life. Okay I exaggerate. But he certainly didn’t make it any easier, the cunt. Okay no. I’m not going to talk about Karan Joshi, because Karan Joshi makes me both angry and slightly weepy and trust me angry and slightly weepy is not a good look on me.

And anyway wouldn’t I stay away from boys called Karan? And it’s not like I haven’t been warned about Karans. My cousin dated a Karan who was the creepiest person ever. I mean he was four years older than her. And she was fourteen. I think that’s pretty much paedophilia. So Karan’s don’t work for Bhavnani girls (okay so technically neither of us are Bhavnanis, I’m a Chatterjee and she’s a Mukhopadhyay but we’re related through the Bhavnanis).

And this Karan’s different. He’s nice. I mean he could be horrible to me since I was awful to his best friend, but he totally isn’t. And after we left the dining hall he was like, “So Karan huh?”

And I blushed and he was like, “Don’t worry, we’ll keep it a secret.”

He’s keeping secrets for me. That means he has to like me. And honestly I can even handle all HB hovering around all the fucking time. I mean she ate lunch with us today. She hates us. Well me more than anyone. Though Amira’s not her favourite person in the world and Amira definitely doesn’t like her. They’re in the same math class and HB keeps using Amira’s calculator without asking. But actually if you touch Amira’s stuff you’re a dead man. Don’t touch her stuff. Especially if she doesn’t know you very well. Because I mean then you’re just asking for it.

I guess I’ve forgiven her for the whole secret spilling thing. And he did leave so it’s not like it could make that much difference right? But still, humiliation and mockery are not my favourite things in the world. And if HB finds about Karan Joshi that is guaranteed to happen.

3:10 p.m.


He hasn’t told HB yet because she isn’t mocking me. Only glaring at me. Varthur Lake here I come. She actually snapped at Miss Archana, which is ridiculous because they’re tight. I mean actually. They love each other so much it’s sickening.

3:20 p.m.

Still Hindi (you can cut the tension in the air with a knife)

HB just told me most unconvincingly that she was happy for me because Ragini glared at her and told her to cut it out. You know that would be more believable if she hadn’t been glaring at me like I was the anti-Christ for most of today.

Lovely patted her on the back and said that it was all right because at least she wasn’t playing a whore.

Goddammit where is that pinecone? I bet she’s going to vote for Modi the minute she can, the bitch.

4:07 p.m.

Amphitheatre (First rehearsal in ten minutes! Ahhhh!)

Apparently everyone’s staying back to be a part of the crew. And when I say everyone I basically mean Amira’s bus because I don’t talk to other people I realized.

So I don’t even understand where this bus thing came from because now they all move together like some sort of herd of elephants. Except elephants probably move faster than Amira’s new friends. Like when since when do I hang out with so many people? It’s exhausting. And BMB talks so much. I’ve never actually heard him talk about much apart from his poop but Christ that boy has an opinion on everything. In the very short time I’ve known him he’s called me a hypocrite for eating meat and then objecting to animal experimentation, an idiot for having a cold coffee from the shitty Coffee Day we have on campus (because apparently it’s a rip off) and a moron because he just felt like it.

And although I deeply object to all those terms, judging by the lack of reaction from the people around me (his friends apparently, though how he made any is beyond me) this is a fairly commonplace occurrence and I should therefore not be offended.

In fact Amira told me that the reason he’s acting like such a tool is because he likes me. Apparently he’s only a dick to people he likes. So I guess BMB and I are now best friends. I should introduce him to Dad’s side of the family. I mean all they do is talk about poo. We went to Kerala once with most of my dad’s extended family and at all times there was either someone talking about poop or someone actually pooping. Once my grandmum had to go really bad but we were near the pool and all these old people have super complicated rituals when it comes to pooping so my aunt had to stand guard outside the public bathroom while my grandmother stripped, pooped, ran to the sinks to wash her hands and then ran back into the stalls to put her sari back on.

And it’s not even my dad’s family that’s insane. It’s my mum’s. No I’m not joking. There is an actual streak of insanity that runs in my mother’s father’s family. I mean pretty much all my Nana’s sisters are a few cards short of a deck if you know what I mean. But there’s one who’s actually a complete whack job. Not that that’s important right now. I get distracted easily.

But anyway apparently they all do everything together now. Like some sort of strange cult. But they call it the Bus Pact. Amira very seriously informed me that it was because of me the Bus Pact was created in the first place. So at least I can put that in my resume under special skills.

“What can you do Miss Chatterjee?” the interviewer will ask.

And I’ll say, “Not much, I mean this history degree is pretty much useless. I can however create strange cults if you ever need me to.”

And the interviewer will throw up his hands and say, “We don’t even need to interview anyone else. You’re hired!”

Oh no, I can see the boy who has decided I must die approaching. Man I really have to find out what his name is. It’s becoming a pain to talk about him.

4:19 p.m.


Apparently his name is Umar and he’s here to do the special effects. I didn’t even know Grease had special effects. Anyway there are about forty people here and I’m pretty sure most of them are the crew. Also Varun and Karan are sitting on the stairs and laughing about something. I actually think Varun may be more in love with Karan than I am. And I’m now beginning to realize that I might not have been the one who he decided to join the crew for, which honestly is a bit of a blow to my ego.

But at least he hates HB as much as I do. It’s quite funny because four days ago he didn’t know who she was even. But then again I knew HB was a witch from the minute I met her. She was actually meant to be my buddy. You know how school assigns people buddies to help them to their classes on their first day? Well she was mine. She looked at me all shiftily and told me that I would like it here. But then she ditched me in about three Karan Joshi very kindly helped me. So I have her to blame for that too, the bitch.

When is this thing going to start? For Christ’s sake. They told the cast to assemble about ten minutes ago. I’m just sitting in a corner hoping that HB doesn’t accidentally-on-purpose push me off the stage when they’re teaching us how to dance. Because I just learned that despite the fact that I’m Rizzo I still have to learn how dance because of that ‘Born To Hand Jive’ song. I hope they keep me in the back. And pair me with someone who has hardy toes. Except I’ll be with Kenickie won’t I? So I’m terribly sorry Sanat, but you are kinda screwed.

4:25 p.m.

Amphitheatre (First rehearsal commences)

We’re all just sitting in a circle. Mrs. Trask is telling us about the ways in which yoga can enrich our lives. Oh no she’s not going to make us do yoga is she? I can’t do that downward duck stuff. I have no sense of balance. Also I don’t believe in exercise. And I know my dad keeps saying that one day I’ll have a butt as big as his but I find that highly unlikely for a multitude of reasons. Ah shit we have to do that say-your-name-and-one-thing-about-yourself thing. I hate that thing. I always say I like reading, even though lately I’ve mostly only been reading fairly trashy romance novels where all the characters have names like Angelina and Brendan.

Ugh look at the crew. They look so pleased with themselves. Sitting around and doing fuck all. I mean shouldn’t they be trying to figure out sets and stuff like that. Oh it’s my turn.

4:37 p.m.


So I’m done for today I think. I mean they’ve gotten in to a Sandy and Danny scene (the drive-in one) so I doubt they’ll need a Rizzo anytime soon. Everyone’s actually being so quiet though. Hey wha-

What are you even doing? –V

You aren’t allowed to touch the journal. It is sacred. –T

So I’ve heard. –V

It’s nice for passing notes though. –T

Yeah it is. In my old school we weren’t so serious about plays and stuff. I mean I can’t even count the number of people who’ve told me to shut up in the last ten minutes. –V

That’s because you were making a ruckus. All of you are animals. –T

Hey it wasn’t even me. It was Umar. –V

I don’t think you people understand. He’s going to kill me. –T

I’ve known you for about three days now and you’re one of the most dramatic people I’ve ever met in my life. –V

He growled at me when I tried to wake him up. –T

I’d growl at you if you tried to wake me up. And he’s pretty awesome. –V

I’ll take your word for it. I still think he wants me at the bottom of Varthur Lake. Preferably in many pieces. –T

You know whom I want at the bottom of Varthur Lake? That Sowmya chick. She just told me I had spindly arms. –V

Oh don’t worry. She calls me caterpillar eyebrows. It’s her way of being affectionate. –T

Really? –V

No she’s just a heinous bitch. –T

You had me going there for a second. I thought maybe you two were secret best friends. –V

Do you really think secret best friends attempt to impale each other with cutlery? –T

What did you do to make her hate you so much? –V

I don’t even know. I think I was kind of a bitch to Lovely. But can you blame me? That girl literally is the most rightist anti-progress person I know. Do you know what she said when I told her that I was a feminist? She said that all feminists didn’t wear deodorant and only became feminists because no one would marry them. –T

What does she think anyone’s going to marry her? –V

Of course she’ll get married. I mean look at her hips. Childbearing hips if there ever were any. Her mother will find her a nice Punjabi boy and she’ll squeeze out a couple of kids and spend the rest of her life in abject boredom. –T

Ouch. –V

5:12 p.m.

Waiting for the buses

Why does no one else go on my bus? Well except for Umar who everyone seems to have adopted. I’m telling you my friends will be the death of me. It was so much easier when I spent my lunch breaks in the library. I developed an awesome vocabulary. I mean I now know the meaning of obdurate so it was obviously worth it. And I routinely kick ass on SAT CR practice tests so there.

6:37 p.m.

The Bus (it absolutely sucks)

Okay so maybe Umar isn’t going to kill me. I sat down in an empty seat stupidly because the afterschool bus is always full and of course Umar would come and sit next to me.

“I’m not going to kill you,” he said, sounding distinctly amused. “Unless you do something to piss me off.”

“I never thought you were going to kill me,” I said, attempting to sound dignified. “My friends are idiots.”

He let out a noncommittal grunt.

He put his earphones in but I saw he was playing ‘Between The Bars’ by Elliot Smith. And no one who listens to ‘Between The Bars’ is a serial killer. It’s just a very nice song. And I commented on this.

“You’ve heard it?” he asked, sounding way too surprised.

“Yes,” I said, a little bit insulted at his tone. And then he just sort of goes ‘huh’ and continues listening to his music. How did everyone discover he was such an awesome person if he barely talks? I mean Ragini waxed eloquent about his wit.

8:45 p.m.

Home glorious home

Y’know I never thought I’d be so relieved to be at home but spending twelve hours either in school or in the bus can do that to a person. Oh wait I’ve got a mail from Mathura.

8:53 p.m.


THAT ASSHOLE HE COMPLAINED. Does he not know that there is protocol to complaining on a student? You give a warning first. Several warnings preferably.

To: Tara Chatterjee, <>

Fr: Meena Mathura, <>

Subject: Your behavior

Dear Miss Chatterjee,

It has come to my attention that you have been inattentive in class. Your Economics teacher Mr. Bose has informed me that you spend more time writing in your journal than you do actually listening. If we see said journal again during class time it will be confiscated and you will have to stay back in school for Study Circle. I have high hopes for you and I do not wish this destructive pattern of behavior to continue.

Yours sincerely,

Meena Mathura.

8:57 p.m.


Destructive behavior my foot. I’m writing in a journal not sniffing coke. And it’s not like he’s teaching us anything of use. If I wanted to know that the British Queen is actually just Margaret Thatcher in disguise I could go on the Internet. Also he could’ve told me I was being inattentive instead of just complaining to the HoS. And while I’m inattentive at least I’m not disruptive. I mean I know he’s daft but NLB and LNLBF sit right in the front and stab each other with pens.

So I guess my diary is now persona non grata in school. Oh well, I’ll just wait a couple of weeks for everyone to forget about it.

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