Muddling Through: The Life and Times of Tara Chatterjee

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Chapter 7

August 25th 2013


8:50 a.m.

On the bus (Stuck in a traffic jam. Yes!)

Days like these are when I know there is truly a god in heaven and he’s probably on my side. Because you know the only thing that’s better than missing first period is when said first period is Hindi. And if I’m lucky I’ll even miss second period, which happens to be Economics. So I can handle being caught in an insane traffic jam sitting in between Tarun and Villupuram, who’re a little like restless puppies because at least I’m not sitting in front of HB and Lovely while they glare at me.

9:12 a.m.

Still on the bus (Yay!)

What is wrong with you two? And how did you even hit him that hard? His arm’s turning purple. –TC

Why are you writing in this? I’m sitting right next to you. You can just talk to me you know. –TS

I’m doing this because I don’t want V to know we’re talking about him. You know I don’t approve of insulting people to their faces. –TC

That’s because you’re a gigantic pussy. I mean grow a pair won’t you? –TS

Excuse me. I am non-confrontational, not a giant pussy. –TC

Whatever. I think you should definitely take out that bitch in your grade. I don’t know her name. The fat one with greasy hair. If you weren’t a pussy you would totally do that. –TS

Excuse me. I am not your hit woman or something. I’m not going to take anyone out. Oh and I’m pretty sure the person you’re talking about is someone called Lovely. So you know cut her some slack. Her life can’t be easy. And what did she do anyway? –TC

Well she certainly didn’t look ‘Lovely.’ And you know Maria right? That hot blonde chick in the tenth grade? –TS

Everyone knows Maria. And I’m pretty sure I know how this story’s going to end. But anyway cradle snatcher much? –TC

I am not a cradle snatcher. And don’t jump to conclusions. –TS

Are you saying you didn’t hook up with her? And that Lovely didn’t catch you and possibly tell on you to Buttback? –TC

Fine maybe that’s what happened but Maria’s a nice girl. She isn’t a slut. –TS

Did I even say she was? –TC

Everyone knows Maria? You’re a judgmental bitch. –TS

Better than being a cradle snatching man whore. –TC


Alright alright. No need to shout. –TC

I’m writing. I can’t be shouting dumbass. –TS

You know all caps is shouting right? –TC

Anyway how goes it? With that fat Punjabi boy? –TS

How do you even know about Karan? –TC

Because you told me remember. And anyway it’s obvious. You practically drool when he’s around. It’s disgusting. –TS

Well it’s not going anywhere. I told you, he doesn’t like me back. –TC

Why don’t you go for his cousin instead? At least he’s taller than you. –TS

Karan is taller than me you dick. –TC

Really? Maybe it’s his waist to height ratio that makes him look shorter. –TS

He isn’t even that fat. You’re just mean. –TC

What? He’s short. You know he’s short. And fat. –TS

He’s fine. You’re just horrible and shallow. –TC

I am not shallow. You’re the judgmental one. I always have deep meaningful relationships with girls. I’m not just with them for their looks obviously. –TS

Deep and meaningful? Tarun, you called the last girl you hooked up with Germany for the longest time. –TC

Well that was her MUN country. What was I suppose to do? –TS

I don’t know? Ask her name before she fell face first into your crotch maybe? –TC

See judgmental. –TS

I am not even. I think it’s perfectly all right that she thought it was appropriate to blow you after arguing about American foreign policy the whole day. I just object to your use of the words ‘deep’ and ‘meaningful’ when describing your relationship with girls. –TC

I have a deep and meaningful relationship with you, don’t I? –TS

Yeah but I would never blow you after arguing about American foreign policy the whole day. –TC

Yeah that’s true. Also you aren’t exactly a girl. –TS

Hey what was that for? –TS

That was for being a dick. –TC

I hate to break it to you, but most girls don’t wear boxers all the time. –TS

Oh my god that was like one time. And you were all ‘come hang out with me, I’m bored and have no real friends.’ –TC

Doesn’t change the fact that you were wearing boxers. And I have way more friends than you. –TS

I was wearing actual underwear underneath by the way. It’s just nice to sleep in. And you know that girls you hook up with at MUNs don’t actually count as friends’ right? –TC

I can’t believe I’m arguing with you about how many friends I have. And I’m also writing in your weird diary. Why can’t you just be normal and get a blog like all the other sad losers. –TS

Because I like journals. And we’re writing in this because I bet you don’t want Villupuram to know about Germany. Just like I don’t really want him to know about Karan. –TC

Please he witnessed Germany. He doesn’t even care about Karan. –TS

Eww he witnessed Germany? That’s the most disgusting thing I’ve heard in my life. –TC

You are gross. He didn’t actually see anything. But I mean he was around when Germany was…- TS

Getting to know you? –TC

Yes, exactly. –TS

Oh look we’re moving. –TC

Why did you feel the need to write that down? I can see we’re moving. You really are a weirdo. –TS

10:25 a.m.


I made it back in time for the last five minutes of Economics. Mr. Bose glared at me for interrupting his class, but I had a note so there was nothing he could do. I really love sitting behind NLB and LNLBF because they have all the latest gossip. Apparently NLB’s disgraced ex-girlfriend hooked up with a second tier popular boy and now NLB’s worried that she isn’t going to take him back. Though lets be honest NLB’s a Klondike Bar while Mohit (the second tier popular boy who was all over NLB’s ex’s face) is more like a Kwality Walls Choco Bar. Both nice but you’d pick the Klondike obviously.

11:09 a.m.


Science has never been my strong suit, as my seventh grade science teacher, rather unfortunately found out.

“But you bake such nice brownies,” she cried forlornly, as she ran cold water over her slightly-burnt-by-acid hands.

“I’m sorry,” I said, rather embarrassedly as everyone snickered behind me.

But I mean really, the woman was letting thirteen year olds play with chemicals, what did she think was going to happen?

So when Mrs. Jayanti told us that we were doing some experiment with enzymes I was a little bit worried. I mean what is catalase even?

“Pair up class,” Mrs. Jayanti said authoritatively.

I looked at Ragini trying to signal to her that I really wanted her to be my partner but as usual she was predictably pathetic at reading the desperation in my eyes.

“Do you want to be partners?” Aliyah asked quietly.

“Oh uh…yeah…sure,” I said a little surprised at the offer. I mean sure she wasn’t exactly glaring at me anymore but we weren’t really friends.

“I have to warn you though,” I said, when we got to our workstation. “I really suck at this stuff. I mean if there is a possibility of scalding it will turn into a probability with me.”

“Oh that’s alright,” she said, with a laugh. “Catalase isn’t dangerous at all.”

“Oh good,” I said. “I wouldn’t want to accidentally corrode your hands. Something that has happened before by the way.”

“That’s terrifying,” she said, laughing again.

She was really very pretty.

“So how do you like OIS?” I asked. “Everything you ever hoped and dreamed it would be?”

“And some,” Aliyah said dryly. “Not that I don’t like it of course. I mean the people here are very nice.”

“Really?” I asked skeptically, well aware of the company she kept.

“Well they’re very welcoming,” she said, blushing a little.

“Ooh someone in particular?” I asked, suggestively.

“No no,” she hastily amended. “I don’t have a crush on anyone. It’s just y’know Sowmya and Lovely. Well they’re very nice.”

“If you say so,” I said, raising an eyebrow.

“Yeah they really don’t like you,” she said. I was rather surprised at her forthrightness. Pleasantly surprised though.

“Yeah I know,” I said. “They aren’t exactly hiding it.”

“She’s also kinda mad about the whole play thing. And the stealing her solo thing,” Aliyah explained.

“Well I wouldn’t’ve even tried out if her BFF hadn’t convinced me to,” I said. “So I don’t know why she’s yelling at me so much. She should be yelling at him.”

“Wait Karan convinced you?” Aliyah asked. “I don’t mean to pry but is there something going on with you two? You’re always together lately. And whenever he brings you up Sowmya sort of has an aneurysm.”

“He brings me up?” I asked, incredibly flattered for some reason. “But no. Nothing. I don’t think I’m his type.”

“Do you want to be?” she asked cheekily.

“Of course not,” I scoffed. “He isn’t really my type either.” Which was true but it didn’t stop me from being madly in love with him.

“Well apparently Karans are your type,” she said with a giggle.

I groaned. “What has H- I mean Sowmya told you?”

“Nothing nothing,” she said, with that same amused expression on her face. “Lovely on the other hand…”

“Lets see,” I said. “I bet the word homewrecker came up a couple of times.”

“Try about a hundred,” Aliyah said wincing a little. “Did you really have sex with someone else’s boyfriend in a bathroom?”

“Oh my god,” I said, horrified. “Is that what they’re telling everyone?”

“I mean I didn’t really believe it,” she said. “Because, no offense but you don’t look like the someone who’s ever had sex let alone bathroom sex, which is kinda gross.”

“I don’t know whether to be flattered or insulted,” I said, the sides of my mouth turning up a little.

“Oh flattered for sure,” Aliyah said quickly.

“It wasn’t sex,” I said. “It was just a kiss and then he ran back to his girlfriend. Figuratively, not literally. She moved to a different county.”

There was an oddly pitying expression on Aliyah’s face and I found myself getting a little cross. I did not need anyone’s pity. Well I did kind of. But that didn’t mean I wanted it.

12:32 p.m.

Extended Essay Session

We have to pick our EE subjects today. I’m going to put History down as my first choice and English as my second. I’ll probably put Economics as my third even though I’d rather eat dirt than do an Eco Extended Essay. Everyone else is crying about what to choose. Haha losers. I’ve known what I wanted to do since I was twelve. Granted doing History might possibly render me unemployed and unable to feed myself but hey at least it’s fun.

Varun’s knows he’s doing too so we’re just sitting here and laughing at everyone else taking notes on the presentation. I mean basically it’s just saying pick what you like because you’ll have to write 4000 words and if you pick something you don’t like you’ll probably cry. You’ll probably cry anyway but hopefully if you’re passionate about the subject you’ll cry less.

12:49 p.m.

Still EE-ing

This is boring. –T

I thought you said I was never allowed to touch the sacred journal again? –V

Well I decided to forgive you. Also I’m bored. –T

Ah I see how it is. You only use me for cheap entertainment. You don’t really care about me. –V

Oh boohoo. Now entertain me cheaply. –T

Your wish is my command. Oh and are we still on for this Saturday? –V

Latin Food Festival? Yeah of course. I have nothing to do on weekends. –T

That’s because you’re a loser with no friends. –V

Then what are you? A robot? –T

We aren’t friends. I put up with you. There’s a difference. –V

You share all your deepest darkest secrets with me. That’s the definition of best friends. –T

Yeah well you’re very persistent. –V

That’s one of my best qualities. Anything else you’d like to share with your best friend? Hmm? –T

Not really but I feel like you’re going to bother me until I do anyway. –V

Ahh so there’s something to share is there? Now spill the beans. –T

Ah shit. –V

Please you want to tell me. That’s why you’re dropping all these hints. –T

That’s bullshit. And anyway I’m not going to write it down here. I’ll tell you on Saturday. –V

Oh I’m definitely looking forward to that ;) –T

You’re such a creep. –V

Do you really want me to bring up your first romantic *ahem* experience. –T

1:53 p.m.


Food: Naan (Yus!)

Happiness is truly Naan. It’s beautiful and wonderful and all that is good in the world. But really Naan days are like the Hunger Games. Everyone waits in front of the kitchen to grab a piece (possibly five) before it gets to the counter where there is no possibility of getting anything. Amira and me have a system. We assault the poor Naan carrying boy at the same time and whoever manages to get to the carrier grabs as much as possible. Then we split it. Today I was on top of my game and managed to get four pieces, which is actually fairly awesome. HB only got one so she can suck on it. And even though I had to split my loot with Amira at least I got two.

Oh look Amira’s doing that hair-twirling thing. She sort of tugs at the end of her hair and looks down coyly as she smiles. I haven’t seen the hair-twirling thing since Dhruv, which was about four months ago.

Wait a second. The hair-twirling thing. That’s an-Amira-likes-a-boy thing. Like like likes a boy thing. Oh heavens. It’s BMB. She’s doing her hair-twirling thing for BMB. Amira wants to get into Bowel Movement Boy’s pants? That’s…an interesting development.

2:30 p.m.


Honestly this class would be so much more fun if I didn’t know the love of my life (who is currently sitting next to me) was desperately in love with my best friend. I think he’s just happy that he told someone who wasn’t HB because he keeps talking about it. I mean half the world can see I like him I don’t understand why he can’t. Well boys are generally daft.

Anyway apparently I’m his confidante. He actually asked me if he should tell Amira that he likes her. I told him I’d do a bit of digging to find out if that’s a wise thing to do, even though I’m pretty certain she likes BMB. Though that is also something I really have to discuss with her. I mean how could she not tell me? We tell each other everything. Then again if I liked BMB I probably wouldn’t want to publicize it either. But she does like him. Even if she doesn’t know it yet.

4:20 p.m.


I think I’ve probably lost at least two kilos in the last two weeks. Do you know what the warm up was today? Sit-ups. I have even less strength in my upper body than I do in my arms and considering I have noodle arms that’s saying something. Why couldn’t Mrs. Trask be one of those benign people who think warming up is basically just warbling at a piano? I can warble at a piano for two days straight if you want me to but sit-ups actually make me feel deeply violated. Though honestly I think people around me might have felt fairly violated too given all the general gasping coming from my direction.

At least I didn’t have the scene straight after the warm up though. No right now Jyoti is practically sobbing ‘Hopelessly Devoted To You’ into the piano. And then its dance rehearsal in about twenty minutes. I’m very glad that I only have to do ‘Born To Hand Jive’ and ‘We Go Together’ because I don’t think my cast mates’ limbs would survive any more songs. I mean, as it is there was the unfortunate incident with the fake car they put on stage for ‘Grease Lightening.’ No one’s quite sure how it caught on fire. I think my crazy Econ teacher decided to light it up as a symbol of protest against the fascist administration of the school but for some reason no one seemed to agree with me.

Though the he had been acting distinctly ticked off with the school during Economics that day. The rant about students missing classes may have been aimed at the fairly idiotic, worryingly inept Tiara Saldanha who continuously skipped school to do modeling jobs and audition for advertisements but it took a rather weird turn when he said that the laissez faire attitude of senior members of administration was the cause of mass bunking.

Though honestly there’s a lot wrong with my school but the administration’s attitude is certainly not a devil-may-care one. I mean no one who’s easygoing cares that much about the size and length of socks and ties of students. And Tiara’s always in trouble. She dyed her hair a weird brown shade over the summer and Buttback said she had to dye it black or she’d be suspended indefinitely. Tiara said that this strange shade of brown was in fact her natural hair colour and by telling her to dye it the school was persecuting her. Buttback then said she had to dye it black because this shade of brown was obviously not anyone’s natural hair colour. After which Tiara produced a badly photoshopped picture of her as a baby with the same strange brown shade of hair. Even though it was blatantly obvious that the picture was photoshopped, given the fact that no one, not even the people who were bizarre enough to produce Tiara would ever give their child a haircut that odd, school let her keep her hair. Probably reasoning that anyone who went through all that trouble to keep her dyed hair wasn’t worth the effort.

Ah fuck I’m up now. Born to hand jive I was not.

4:50 p.m.


Honestly dance has to be the most dangerous thing out there. Gita just had to go to the infirmary because John McCormack accidentally elbowed her in the nose. I would take her but I can’t really go there anymore. Well I haven’t been banned per se but after you throw a tantrum and yell at the school nurse saying that the urine test she was making me take was about as useful as the IELTS which is to say not at all, because I don’t drink alcohol and I can speak English rather well. Even though the real reason I didn’t want to take it was because I just couldn’t pee in the cup and I had spent about two hours at the infirmary drinking water. I was missing classes for heavens sake. And not even shitty classes like Hindi or Economics. Good classes like double History and English.

Ah look at that, Amira’s just flirting with BMB. Wait if she’s in love with him that means I’ll have to get to know him right? Because what if they start dating? Then he’ll be around all the time. And he still thinks I’m a nincompoop who’s also a hypocrite. Not that my own opinion of him is too much better but still. I do have a brain y’know. A fairly good one. Sure it’s mostly stored with useless facts. Though I can name all the Kings and Queens of England till about Charles II, which is v impressive according to me. But no one else seems to find that cool. Well Karan Joshi found it cool but I don’t think about him anymore. Because I like a new Karan. A nicer Karan. Who isn’t currently dating someone a lot hotter than me. He does like my best friend but I’d say that was less of a problem than him actually having a physical girlfriend that he made out with on occasion. And I say on occasion because Karan Joshi really didn’t get much action at all. He was still completely obsessed with his girlfriend though, which just goes to show that not all boys think with their dicks. And if they on occasion do, they just kiss their slightly pathetic best friends and then never talk to them again. Wow. I’m still incredibly bitter about this aren’t I?

5:50 p.m.

Bus time

These incredibly long days are really getting to me now. Umar and I are now actually sort of friends. Well at least I don’t suspect him of trying to kill me in my sleep. Though he does that more than me. Sleep I mean. He has to be one of the most lethargic people I’ve ever met. I mean the number of times he said ‘I’m dying’ is actually a little ridiculous. He also knows how to say it in Spanish. Even I know how to say it in Spanish now. It’s estoy muriendo.

Anyway right now he’s sitting next to me drooling into the window, which is a lovely sight. Not that I don’t appreciate the slightly strange snorting noises he makes because he’s presumably having a dream about being a horse but I’d rather people around me were slightly more conscious. Though I don’t suppose it’d make a difference. I’d still be writing in this godforsaken journal since it currently seems to be my life. Although I seem to suddenly have many more friends than I ever thought I wanted. Or needed for that matter.

8:40 p.m.

Homee :)

Well that was a very interesting Skype session. Every couple of weeks I talk to my cousin Ananya on Skype to get all up to date on the latest family gossip. And since my extended family is gigantic there’s always gossip. Like the last time she told me that Sunita Masi was now living with someone. And that someone was a woman. Apparently her mother had declared that she would never be allowed to step foot in their house again and gone on a longwinded rant, simultaneously blaming the school system in Delhi and the Indian National Basketball Women’s League for her daughter’s sexuality. Sunita Masi was my mother’s cousin and so we actually weren’t that close. But the gossip today hit rather closer to home.

My mother has three sisters. Two older and one younger. The youngest sister Radha got married quite late in life and just had a baby. Which would be fine, except that the baby came out with blond hair and blue eyes.

Ananya was giggling as she recounted the story.

“So there’s this adorable baby who looks nothing like either the mother or the father but no one really wants to say anything, because can you imagine the scandal divorce would cause,” she said.

“Your parents got divorced,” I said slowly.

“Yeah but that was so long ago,” she said dismissively. “I don’t even remember a time when they lived together. They were married for about twenty seconds anyway.”

“And my mother married a Bengali, your mother married a Bengali, Radha Masi married a Bengali,” I said. “What’s another divorce in this mess of inter-ethnic matrimony?”

“Yes but they absolutely can’t get divorced,” she said. “I mean what about the twins?”

The twins were Radha Masi’s painfully dull stepchildren. Though it really wasn’t their fault. Their father was a strict believer in old-fashioned values and they didn’t own anything shorter than mid-calf. Which would be a serious problem for me because even though I’m not exactly the slickest dresser, I have fairly okay looking legs, which I frequently use to distract from my rather less than stellar face.

Also they’re pretty hairy so not allowing them to wax because it might ‘encourage loose morals’ was just unfair. I mean half-Sindhis have to be allowed to wax.

I can actually see why Radha Masi might have wanted someone on the side. And in any case marrying him had been kind of strange because his previous wife (the one who had produced the poor twins) was also a part of our family. My mum’s cousin to be exact. And when she died it had been a little terrifying. First time I had ever seen my mum cry and trust me that’s a memory that sticks with you for a while. And her husband had promptly gotten a tattoo saying ‘Till death do us unite.’ And then two years later, he had married my aunt. So yes, it was a strange situation all around.

“And do you know what I heard Nani saying on the phone the other day,” Ananya said, unable to stop laughing.

“What?” I asked.

“Well she was talking to Joya Masi and she said that the reason he has such blond hair was because his mother had too much sex when she was pregnant,” she said, lowering her voice, but still continuing to giggle.

“Too much sex?” I asked with disbelief. “Oh I’m sure Radha Masi’s been having a lot of sex. Just probably not with her husband.”

“Though it has happened before,” Ananya said, meditatively. “I mean Isha’s hair and eyes were pretty light when she came out.”

“But they darkened didn’t they,” I said impatiently. “And her hair was never blonde. Radha Masi’s probably been doing some foreigner.”

“No one wants to do a paternity test just yet,” Ananya said. “Mostly because everyone’s skirting around the fact that the baby has hair like Tom Felton, but once they get around to doing it I’m fairly certain that shit is going to hit the fan.”

“Undoubtedly,” I agreed. “We really should have someone film us. We could all be the next Rakhi Sawants.”

“We’d have to have a lot more plastic surgery to be Rakhi Sawant,” Ananya noted dryly. “Though I really think our lives are more interesting than hers anyway. I mean who cares if she gets married or not? Actually scratch that, I do care. Because I’m pretty sure-“

“Any of her spawn could herald the end of the human race,” I finished.

“I was going to say would be total screw ups but I guess that works too,” Ananya said.

“Well you’re going to have fun aren’t you?” I said. “Isn’t Meera Aunty coming to stay?”

“Yes,” Ananya groaned. “The last time she was here was an utter disaster.”

“Why?” I asked. “I mean I know she’s crazy but she’s a harmless sort of crazy right?”

“Well everything was fine for the first few days,” Ananya conceded. “Just the normal yelling at pigeons stuff. But then she started yelling about how Renu Didi was stealing her dentures.”

“Renu Didi?” I asked, perplexed.

“Our house help,” Ananya clarified. “I mean we figured that she was just being paranoid right? So we told Renu Didi to lie low for a couple of days till she left.”

“That isn’t too bad,” I said. “I mean everyone gets a little paranoid sometimes.”

“Wait I am not finished,” Ananya said, her tone indicating the trauma she had suffered at the hands of our crazy great-aunt. “So everything’s fine again. Renu Didi comes and finishes cleaning quickly and then leaves. But then this insane woman starts complaining about the water pressure in the house. And the house is old so obviously there won’t be proper water pressure. So mum tries to explain this to her and she sort of scowls at her. Except she goes in for her bath and then about ten minutes later she strides out, fully naked, declaring that there is no water in the house. And she’s also yelling at everyone, still completely nude saying that the state of this house is deplorable and her father would roll over in his grave- even though he got cremated- if he saw the abysmal state of this house.”

“So how did you get her to put her clothes on?” I asked, amused.

“Well we sort of herded her into Nani/Nana’s bathroom and told her to bathe there instead. And even though we’re fairly sure that she’s insane we go to check the water situation in mine and Mamma’s bathroom,” she said.

“And I’m assuming it was flooded or something?” I asked.

“No no,” she said. “There actually wasn’t any water. So we called the plumber later that day and guess what was blocking the pipes.”

“Don’t even say it,” I said, my eyes widening.

“Her dentures,” Ananya said with relish. “Just sitting there, blocking all the water.”

“Good luck,” I said, saluting her. “I’m sure it’ll be fun.”

“Interesting maybe,” Ananya said. “I don’t know about fun. But she can’t be worse than the last old hag who came to stay. She used to wake up at six every morning and lovingly sing bhajans into my ear. And not just on weekdays. Even on Saturdays and Sundays too.”

“Ouch,” I said with a wince. Like the rest of my family Ananya values her sleep.

“Good luck with your play,” she said. “It’s somewhere near the Christmas holidays so you never know, I might turn up to cheer you on.”

“You’d better come soon,” I said, mock threateningly. “You haven’t come to Bangalore for centuries.”

“I’ll bring Joya Masi and her brood along too,” she said with a smirk. “It ought to be fun. You and Leela always manage to have some pretty intense blowouts.”

“I’m not twelve anymore,” I said firmly. “She can’t make me cry.”

“She’s six years younger than you,” Ananya said, the amusement evident on her face. “She should never have been able to make you cry.”

“Shut up,” I said. “She makes everyone cry. I mean have you seen Sameer? He’s always on the verge of a mental breakdown.”

Sameer’s Leela’s bhola older brother. He’s quite sweet and absolutely no match for her. Though I’m pretty sure they’d be absolutely lost without each other, which makes all the temper tantrums funnier.

“Okay bye,” Ananya said. “I have to go get some chicken sneakily before Nani sees me.”

“I don’t get why you don’t just tell them you eat meat,” I said with a shake of my head. “I mean no one cares.”

“You don’t live here,” she said. “It’s okay for you.”

“Fine, go get your chicken. Bye-bye. ” I said, signing off.

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