Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Ch- Ch- Ch Gratitude

The other day, I had lunch with a friend, SC. There were two pretty small portions of inexpensive pasta. Tasty sauce but a little watery. During lunch we talked of how we had left Pune behind and how it was lovely to be back (a thought that crossed our mind after we’d forgotten the harrowing, smoky traffic one endures to meet a pal in Mumbai.) To celebrate, we went to the posh little cafĂ© in Crossword at Nirmal Lifestyle. (It’s called ‘Brio’ because that’s so chi-chi.)

I was looking for the biography of Ram Jethmalani for A. On being asked if they had it, the assistant kept asking me ‘Rumi who…?’ So, for quick reference, I told them ‘Ram Jethmalani - the defense for Manu Sharma.’ The next thing I see, the person is typing out ‘Manu Sharma’ in the ‘Author’s’ list. When I further told him that Manu Sharma was not the biographer, he looked a little annoyed. Why had I brought up Manu Sharma if he didn’t have anything to do with the book? I moved on. Why complicate matters of the Universe for an unsuspecting soul? But the thought of Manu Sharma writing a book on his legal counsel was very story-worthy, I must say.

SC and I ordered some coffee and a dainty, blueberry cheesecake.It was pretty good. Over delicate spoons of creamy cheese with blueberry jam, she told me how she loved chocolate. I had no idea what ‘Lindt with 85% chocolate’ meant. And why, with chocolate, bitter means better. Since I am not a chocolate afficionado, I generally regard discussions on chocolate the same way I would regard a documentary on body-piercing. It’s fascinating, sure, but I can’t relate to it.

The discussion stayed in my mind for long after. There are so many people who like chocolate…and that other complicated tasting food – cheese. I wonder why I never liked them. For one – both chocolate and cheese have absolutely no subtlety in their body or taste. (With some varieties of cheese, there is also the matter of overpowering odor.) And the second reason I don’t have them is that you can’t taste anything else when these bulwarks of strong tastes are around. But I do enjoy other people’s rhapsodies on the subject.

That night, I was going through an old edition of Vanity Fair. It’s damn good! I had never read a Vanity Fair before and I probably would never have bought one in India (considering the magazine costs 450 bucks or so). But I got an old copy near Vashi station for ten rupees. I wasn’t expecting much from it, but was very pleasantly taken in with all the feature articles and so on. First of all, I had no clue how BIG Martha Stewart is. I mean, I knew she was rich and all, but the lady has an empire! All these houses in the cities of New York and Paris and Montreal and other countrysides, 100 acres of farms where she lets loose her black studs at night (because they get red if they run during the day and Martha hates that), some 35 rooms in some villa, a separate kitchen only for a boiler that froths milk for her cappuchinos…it’s mind boggling – the amount she has built for herself! Truly, the way to a lot of money is through a lot of stomachs.

Anyway, half-way into the article, I got this very strong urge from somewhere behind my heart and deep into my gut. The urge was some sort of a morphed assortment of taste and texture – something crumbly, salty, creamy, sweet…something like that. A little bit of targeted introspection later, I realised I had the urge to have chocolate and cheese. So, I trooped to the kitchen and of course, couldn’t find anything there because that’s a place I never visit….ever. But after rummaging the fridge a little more desperately, I found some sliced cheese and a box of Ferrero Rochers. Now, I like sliced cheese. They are little less obtrusive than the chunks. And Ferrero Rochers suit me because of the variety in the layering. So, I took a flap of cheese, put a Ferrero Rocher in it, and pressed the ends to make it look like a dimsum.

It was a perfect, awkward confection to nibble while reading Vanity Fair. Nutty, salty, sweet, smooth, and sometimes a pefect melted smidge of it all.

I was so moved that I decided to think pleasant thoughts about Pune. Two memories stand out, because of the unprecedented kindness I encountered in the city. Here they go:

1. Late evening (a period that begins from 6:15 p.m. in Pune), Z and I caught a rick home. The rickshaw fellow had no change. He wasn’t willing to get out and get change either. Z and I were new so we didn’t know who to ask or where to go. Around that time, a couple came up and asked if the auto was free. The rickshaw fellow sat grumpily and refused to look at anyone. (Because we are such mean people that we deliberately refuse to give change.) The boy asked me what the problem was and I told him. He asked me how much I owed the rick guy. It was around 25 bucks. He said that he would be taking the rick upto Karve road and he’d gladly pay my fare as well. Of course, Z and I refused and all that, but the boy insisted. He and his friend rode off and I never saw them again.

2. The next time round, I was out of cooking gas. I had heard that I could get something near Wadia College. So my bai and I took an auto to this place. No luck because it was closed. Someone there suggested we go to Kalyaninagar. The rick guy agreed to take us there. (A small miracle). No luck there either. We were told to try Viman Nagar as well. Rick guy said ‘No Problem!’ Zilch success there. So, tired and unhappy, we decided to come back. The rick fellow, on seeing my weary face asked my bai if we could all stop for tea. ‘Why not?’, I said. He took us to a small dhaba and got us tea. Later he left us home and charged us only the meter fare. I insisted on paying for chai, but he said that was okay. He refused a tip too.

Many, many, many times I have criticized Pune for being slothful, rude, and cunning. Those times, I have disregarded the acts of kindness shown by these strangers. Interestingly, both times, the kindness came from classes of people I tend to be acutely wary of.

But today, I thank them and bless them because it is only with memories such as this can one think of moving to a new place, knowing that there are good people everywhere.

Why did I think of writing this? Maybe it was the chocolate, maybe it was the cheese, or maybe it was Christmas. Whatever it wsas, it was worth it.

Merry Christmas all.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

One step in wisdom, one step from truth

Last few days have been emotionally very trying. It saddens and scares me at how I get unhinged about the slightest things. What saddens and scares me even more is when I feel the hurt of the people who have to bear the brunt of such extreme mood swings.

Many, many, many years ago, a clairvoyant uncle had seen my hand. And he’d told my parents that throughout life, I will always keep the people I love at a distance. This afternoon, I came across a letter he’d sent me. A one-line letter, whereas my brother had got a full-page one. Mine read: ‘Be careful of your mind because it doesn’t play tricks, it tells the truth.’

I was ten when I’d got it. I was ten when I’d kept it in my special red cardboard folder.

I tore it today.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Dedicate a song to me, Sabrina

Dedicate a song to me Sabrina
The way the waves do when they leave the shore
Dedicate a song to me Sabrina
For now and for when I’m no more

The stars will wilt or harden
No-one can be sure of the sky
It can answer a million ‘How’s
But never a single ‘Why’

Of the waters I can ask of nothing
They flow with cruel scorn
They are laced with longing and dirge
And of crusty tears they’re adorned

And the winds will forget me in a whiff
The snuff will blow out and they’ll leave
Of what use is the friend that wafts by
Who doesn’t stay a moment to bereave

While I must not trust mortals
That’s what they always said
You are the one I count on
To dedicate a song for when I’m dead

When the music soars to the heavens
Let them not dismiss this with pity
That the song that was sung for my passing
Was the favor I asked of me

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Wondering...just Wondering....

I’m sure this happens elsewhere as well but I have noticed it on Orkut. A lot of people use pictures of celebrities along with their names/ handles. Now, I recognize the celebrities because I know Bollywood. So, I know that a person called Ravi will not look like Hrithik Roshan. But there may be many who wouldn’t know this. So, if this Ravi person is chatting or messaging someone, he is giving the impression that the face of Hrithik is part of his identity, just as the name ‘Ravi’ is.

There could be cases where a non-celebrity’s face could be used along with a name. Someone who isn’t famous; maybe a girl one clicked at a party or a guy one snapped at a coffee-house. Because they are not celebrities, there is an increased probability to believe that the face belongs to the person voicing the opinion.

In both celebrity-non-celebrity cases, this can become rather sticky if certain racial/sexual/anti-nation remarks are made. Or if this person happens to belong to a dubious community.

I am not aware of the elements of the offence ‘impersonifaction’ under the IPC, but I think, this, at some level qualifies as misprepresentation (if not cheating). And what’s more – if you have a face, use it…or else, use the imagination and craft a picture for your name. Why use somebody else’s mug?

(Note: It is perfectly okay to use pictures of animals, birds, or butterflies though, because everyone knows they won’t be able to think up of passwords..and if they do, they won’t be able to remember them.)


Also wondering that one of the biggest time-wasters while typing is not paying attention to the Caps Lock key. I spend a lot of time typing in all Caps and then, after typing a particularly long sentence, realize that I don’t actually want to sound loud and obnoxious. So I go back and change the casing. (To just sound obnoxious.)

Of course, the Shift + F3 feature in Word does make it easier, but so many times, one is not typing in Word. And therein lies the root of all my problems.


If a city cannot make it’s public spaces amenable to the old, very young, pregnant, or infirm, it should just shut up about being the next ‘Shanghai.’

Last evening, I accompanied a very pregnant friend to the bathroom in some guest house. It had steep steps, no ramp, and was some distance away from where we were. The path to the loo was littered with sharp pebbles. So, after an ardous walk, we reached there. I suggested she sit down on one of the sofas. The man in the reception area told us that we can’t sit there. ‘People complain’, he said.

I told him that no-one would complain if a pregnant lady takes a breather for 5 minutes. The man insisted that he was following orders.

I would have argued with him further (my method would be to sit stubbornly and ask him to call the people who give ‘orders’), but my friend was embarassed. So we left.

And then we had to go through that dark, pebbled road again.

I hope that guy gets more compassion in his heart some day. Orders or no orders.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Time to bequeath

Today, I went to a new dentist closer to home. He took an X-ray of my tooth and said that I’ll need to have a root canal done. However, the success chances are 50-50. If the root canal doesn’t work out, I’ll need to lose my tooth. My heart is currently smothered in much grief at that prospect but I must be strong and stay positive.

Also, he went on to say that my gums need work because they don’t look healthy. Again, this saddens me considerably because I don’t even like sweets, but stoic is what I must be.

Now, all these dentist trips have led me to buy the book, ‘The Tibetan book of living and dying.’ I somehow associate mortality very closely with dental surgery. Of course, I have never actually heard of anyone dying because of a root canal but still. I have often been known to set a precedent. (I wore pink pants to a legal seminar once. Maybe that was the only time I set a precedent. Oh wait! It’s not a precedent if no-one follows it…so okay, this was a wrong example. The point to be considered is that I could die in a dentist’s chair.)

The prospect of death has made me think about several things. I think I should really get down and draft my will. I don’t have much besides books, clothes, and shoes.

Of my books, I will give my copy of ‘Roots’ to my brother. I know it will help him a lot. The others I will probably donate to some library – maybe the organization my father volunteers for.

I would like to be cremated in my Mango skirt because it is the most expensive, elitist piece of garment my plebian, suburban self has had the audacity to purchase. And with this skirt, I’ll wear an adorable white, off-shoulder tee-shirt bought for 60 rupees off Linking Road. (Just to balance things, you know.)

My favorite scarf will go to my mother. Ma will use it to clean her crystals instead of wearing it to Bandstand. She doesn’t like the scarf, but since it is my most favorite thing…it must go to my most favorite person.

My personal diaries will go to my cousin who hopefully, will make a movie based on the details therein. And it would be highly appreciated by my astral self if the movie doesn’t fall in the comedy genre. Oh…and it would be great if he could get Sunjay Dutt and Julia Roberts to star in it. Julia Roberts will play me and SD can play A – just a suggestion.

Papa shall get all the stationery as well as my books on non-fiction. After all, I had flicked them all from his office.

A can take whatever he’d like – although I would love for him to take and read ‘To Kill a Mockingbird.’ Or he could take my series of no-smoking articles and pay attention to them and quit smoking completely. Not reduce the number of cigarettes to 1,2,3,4…but quit. That means 0 cigarettes. However, I think he will just take my corduroy jacket.

So, that leaves my friends. I’ll sift through my books and leave behind some nice poetry volumes for Anumita, Chandrika, Jaygee, etc. SS and the other SS can take my skirts. Although association with Pune was brief, I think associations with some people were deep. For them I could leave behind some thrillers. J can have all books with grotesque covers. Cy can keep the Enid Blyton illustrations.

I’ll have to work out the details as to what I’ll leave behind for the help in the house. One of them wanted a pair of my jeans because she said it would scrub the bathroom mirror nicely. I suppose she can have it…but please, not my Levis. Maybe the other horrible Pepe pair.

That is that.

Now, here’s another thing that crossed my mind. I wonder what will happen to my blog. This is a secondary consideration, really. What I really want to figure out is how I would let people know through my blog that I’m dead. I don’t know why this is such a burning question for me. But it is, so I’ll try to address it.

There can be instances when I don’t post for long spells. It doesn’t mean that I’m dead. It could mean that my computer is probably giving me some trouble. Or I have forgotten how to spell ‘occasions’. (How many ‘c’s and how many ‘s’s, etc.)

But here are two instances where I absolutely must post – around the 24th of December (because that’s Christmas time and also the time when I first met A) or 3rd of April (because that’s my very, very happy birthday. I truly celebrate it with loads of gusto.) If I don’t post on these two occasions, that means I am dead. Gone for good. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust.

There…I have figured it all out. Can breathe easy now.

If my brother was here, he’d read through it all and ask me, ‘Does anyone really care?

And then proceed to fight with A over the corduroy jacket.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Tooth malaise

I have a really bad tooth ache and this is driving me nuts. My gums feel swollen and the pain shoots up to my ear and badgers my skull and then finally, when it is lodged in the centre of my brain, skates back right to the rotten tooth.

I have no clue why I am having so many corporal afflictions now.

At the last Crossword sale, I bought a book on healing your life or something by Louise Hay. She co-relates a physical discomfort to an emotional state. I found some of that to be remarkably true. For example, tendency to put on weight around the hips pertains to stubborness with parents, weight around the tummy means fear of insecurity and the need to find some sort of a shield/ cloak. Also, if you have a tooth problem, it means that you find your deepest beliefs eroding as a consequence of change. (In my case, change being shifting to a place where no-one seems to know how the autorickshaw meter works – at least in theory.) Et cetera, et cetera.

The antidote prescribed in the book is to make affirmations to yourself and then go forth and live a good, clean life.

Back to the gut-wrenching pain in my mouth.

I went to the dentist this morning. There was load shedding in Mulund, so the doors of the clinic were open and the dentist was reading an article on Ram Jethmalani.

The tooth fairy is a nubile 28-30 year old with square hands and brown, silky hair. She wears a sari with dainty sequin embellishments and sometimes tucks a neat, little bud in her ponytail.

Now, I had gone to cap one tooth,but another one was hurting really bad. She took a look and said that I would need to have a root canal done. Hell.

I told her that we’ll do the capping and leave the RC for another time. I wouldn’t be able to bear more pain in that area right then. We got talking and I shared how I thought that the Root Canal was probably some form of dental guillotining that originated in the time of a bloody revolution or something. Her disagreement wasn’t compelling…so that scared me more.

‘It depends on how it’s done,’ she said.

Fair enough.

What followed was a rather funny reassurance. Actually she wanted to be a gynaecologist but didn’t get the required medical seat. So, she opted for dentistry instead.

‘I’d love to have been a gynaecoligist’, she said a tad ruefully. ‘I’d have been very good at it.’

I assured her that it was probably all for the best.

‘Don’t worry,’ she remarked. ‘I’ll take out the tooth the way I’d have taken out a baby – very, very gently.’

For some reason, I was a little horrified. This statement brought to my mind a very disturbing picture of children coming out through the mouth. (Damn my brain!)

Later, I saw the humor in the situation and giggled. But on my way back, I wondered. What if, at some later stage, I get an obstetrician who really wanted to be a dentist? Who’d get out the baby the way she would extract a tooth?

Damn my brain. Really!

Saturday, December 09, 2006

You gotta love this!

7:30 p.m. in bus no. 422, on way to Mulund from Bandra

Sun has set long ago. Streelights prick the sky, cars block each other, autorickshaws block cars, shops are brilliantly lit, hawkers yell, crowds shop and eat and eat and shop, etc. etc.

On the road, I see a guy playfully put a Santa cap on the head of the girl who’s with him. Christmas! That’s when I realize it’s December – the month when it is supposed to be cold.

But everyone around me is perspiring buckets, hoping for a little bit of cool air – at 7:30 p.m. in December in Mumbai.

Then we reach Khar and two guys and a girl walk in. All of them are wearing polo necks…in Mumbai in December at 7:30 p.m.

Like the moral of some story went – hope is one thing, faith…quite another.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Close call

Last night, we had an accident with a truck. Very, very, very fortunately nothing happened to any of us. The car is in pretty bad shape though.

Soon after the accident, I had dialled '100' to make a complaint. (I had taken down the number of the truck.) I asked for a complaint number to follow up, but the person at the other end said that the complaint can only be followed up at a police station. He advised me to go to the nearest police station and lodge a complaint there as well. This way, when they flash the number of the vehicle across town and the truck is apprehended, the complaint is already lodged at the police station and the truck driver can get booked immediately. There were quite a few gaps in my mind as to how this would work. Like, what if I was generally calling in to make a false complaint regarding a vehicle? Then it gets to be our word against the truck driver's. And the person didn't ask me details of my car either. Wasn't that required?

Possible conversation between apprehended truck driver and police:

‘We got a complaint that you hit a car…’

‘What car?’

And where do we go from there?

Of course, I don't know anything about how things operate once a complaint is made over the phone. I have previously made 3 such calls, and barring the time I had reported a dead body in the middle of the road, I never got a call back or anything.

I guess the best way to find out would be to go to a police station and ask the cops. However, I suddenly have excruciating pain in my right knee so I can't move all that much. And funny...my right knee hurts more when I use my left leg rather than the right one. I do hope it gets better soon without me having to visit a doctor.

To get back to the accident; I insisted that we go to the police station. But Papa thought otherwise. He said that it wasn’t a good idea to go to the station at night with two ladies in the car. It’s not safe, he said. Now, while I am not terribly trusting of the police, I do think one shouldn’t be intimidated of approaching a branch of the law. Especially, when you have done nothing wrong. They are, after all, there to help.

I do know this sounds easier said than done.

From personal experience, I find it a horrible irony that the police will go about rounding couples at Bandstand for ‘indecent’ behavior. But if you complain about a guy having molested you in a train, they turn a blind eye with ‘Such things happen in crowded places.’ Or worse, they ask you to go over the incident, again and again, in humiliating detail. And as for the women cops…I wonder if they have to be so densitized to be recruited into the police force.

I feel the safest when I know I can deal with something by myself. If need be, I can tackle a couple of goons or run for cover or control my breathing if I am shut inside a trunk. I feel safe when I know I am capable of breaking a couple of noses. But with this busted knee, I am feeling really vulnerable. And the only other place that preys on vulnerability more than a police station is a doctor’s office.

I hope I don’t have to go there.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Dhoom 2 - and where were the director, scriptwriter, and editor when the film was being shot?

I don’t see why one needs to have fit, toned, fast and fiesty people if you are going to show them in slow motion ALL the time. These people probably got that shape after doing many, many hours of cardio, right? So, a little speed would’ve been nice. After all, adrenaline doesn’t flow drip by drip by drip.

And wonderful hair extensions. Lovely, glistening skin, and beautifully sculpted arms, and sexy, taut legs – and this is just the women.

As for the men, well, Hrithik is the resident superhero in Bollywood now…so even his glares need to look like his mask in Krrish. Abhishek must stick to smiling cutely and NOT dance to groovy music next to sultry women…because he seems to be too shy. But I must say, I really missed Uday Chopra. I thought his character in Dhoom was funny. It’s a shame that he didn’t get much screen time here because the Fabulous 4 were walking so ‘slooooooooooooooooowly’!

Oh…and I wasn’t terribly impressed with Dhoom, in the first place. I had gone with SS, who was completely and stupidly besotted with John Abraham. (Who, excuse me, is just a pretty boy – but sexy? I mean…how?) And this was also the time when Jaygee was enamored with Abhishek Bachan. So both had told me about this scene where they pass each other outside some ICICI building without either of them knowing who the other one was. And this scene was supposed to be scorching, smoldering, combustible, etc. etc.

But both looked like headboys of St. Stanislaus and St. Theresa going towards their respective groups after P.T. class. So much for impact.

Sheesh! Women!

For some true macho sizzle on Hindi screen, I would strongly recommend the confrontation scene between Sanjay Dutt and Kabir Bedi in Yalgaar. Now THAT is something! (Or Sanjay Dutt and Sunny Deol in Kshatriya or Sanjay Dutt and some other villian in Krodh – SD is looking so, so, so good…or to a lesser extent, Sanjay Dutt and Jackie in Khalnayak.)

The music is a big disappointment…but I think, it’s partly because of the way some scenes are shot. You can’t machofy Dhoom in slow motion, for God’s sakes.

What else?

I saw this flick and snap! I knew who I’d cast as Don if I were remaking the movie. And no…it wouldn’t be the guy with many disguises. It would be the lady in the tight white vest and snug jeans with a good looking gun.

Actually, that’s how I’d like Don to have been – tall, dusky, strong, and….woman.

Live and learn

There’s a book by Sydney Sheldon, ‘Stranger in the Mirror.’ The central character of this book is a guy who wants to make it as an actor in the big, bad world of Hollywood. Initially, he has to compromise a lot (there are a few gory descriptions of anal sex). Then one day, he becomes famous. At the climax of his popularity, something snaps inside him. He goes beserk in the pursuit of a good life – everytime he is with a woman, he feels bad that he could be with someone better. Everytime he is giving a show somewhere, he feels that there is a better audience he could be entertaining.

The reason I think about this now is because of a remark I came across a few minutes ago.

While the remark itself is innocuous, it got me thinking. I hope I never become the sort of person who makes a friend feel that I would rather be someplace other than with her. I hope I never impart the feeling that I was put to such inconveniences to be with her on her special day. I hope I never make my friend feel guilty for partaking in any of her outlandish ideas, if I do so voluntarily.

Somethings you understand only after being at the receiving end, I guess. But in any case, I do hope this is a lesson learnt for life.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Ditty to go with my Yay Day!

Wanted to rhyme
Wasn't much time,
What with so much happening and so much to say,
But I'm sure I could write
Something short and plain..like,
hmm..How about - 'We got engaged today'

*End with 'Yay'!'*