Thursday, February 26, 2009

Heathcliff

Last night, I was talking to a friend about Heathcliff. He is one of my all-time favourite characters. Mainly because his heart was like a woman’s. Like a mother of a new-born. He opened his heart and let his affection pour out like a savage sea. His heart was jagged and gritty and echoed with the hollow winds of unrequited love. He did not shield his heart from irrefutable pain or rejection. He, in fact, seemed to be spurred on by both. He did not put up a barbed little fence around his pride. Did not decide that he would love only until this point and no more. He ripped his heart just so that it remained open for Catherine. He hunted, he haunted.

And in some bizarre way, in a way that can only spell self-destruction, he managed to shield his heart from only two things that could have saved him – control and restraint.

I have unlikely heroes.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

In disguise

Rose the color of midnight
Falling from a silver sky
Lightly dusted with early snow
And wrapped with wind awry

Blue rose dipped in thunder
And gilded with purple blood
Awakened from timeless slumber
Arisen from a sphinx-like bud

Its shapes and forms are fluid
Its essence changes every hour
With every passing moment,
One beholds a phoenix or a flower

But their shadows are strangely solid
and held captive in the light
yet remain the almost-seen and seldom known
subtext of the night

- was planning to recite it at the Open Mic at Prithvi. Couldn't make it in time. The bookshop has a sale, though, and it was charming to read Hindi classifications of books too: 'Naatak', 'Kavita', and 'Anya'.

Monday, February 23, 2009

For the movie that won

Not because it’s about Mumbai. Or about it’s famed or maligned spirit. Not because it showed the mirror that made your head hang in shame. Or about the hope it stirred when it whispered, “You’re still beautiful.” Not because of its children you want to hug and feed after scrubbing their faces. Or its relationships that arose from a humble fact that you have no-one but each other. Not because of the incredible way it captures speed – of a thought becoming evil and evil becoming a conscience. Or its definition of this land as a maximum city in ways, both depraved and glorious. Not because of its music that haunts and unravels failures through random roads. Or its anthemic finale that makes you want to raise a fist high in victory.

I have rooted for Danny Boyle and this film for a reason other than these…for, to use a Star Trek line, going where no man has gone before. For not being antiseptic when filming Mumbai. For not resorting to cordoned-off studios and ‘arranging’ for crowds. For not overestimating our chaos, for not underestimating our trust. For taking it all – the Mumbai crowds, the Mumbai noise, the Mumbai filth, the Mumbai dust and grime and hatred and smiles and avarice and ambition and hope and despair and our local Dickens and our neighborhood Frost - for taking it all, and keeping it true.

For these reasons, I’d lost my heart (like many, many others) to Danny Boyle and Slumdog Millionaire.

An Oscar was just one of the many things that Danny Boyle has won in the last few hours. The admiration of thousands and thousands of people here is another…but at that scale, I suppose, it’s not a prize anymore. It’s conquest.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Perhaps it's time to do things differently

In one of our Poltitical Science classes, we studied several theories on the origin and necessity of law. I think it was Thomas Aquinas who opined that this world did not really need laws or rules...that the conscience unaided would arrive at a set of guidelines for right and wrong.

In the papers today, there was an article of a man who had bled to death near Gamdevi temple at Bhulabhai Desai road. A car had hit him and sped off and none of the other cars stopped to take him to the hospital. The man died.

The bystanders had noted down the car number and also tried to flag down a car, but to no avail. They helped the police nab the driver, who was a 19 year old boy.

I wonder if there was any way in which all the other cars, the ones that did not stop, can be impounded. I wonder if drivers of those vehicles can also be held to be culpable in this death. I don't see why not.

I take down the number of the car that hit me. This guy caused the accident. Unarguably guilty. While I am on the road bleeding, I ask a car to stop and help me to the nearest hospital. It doesn't. I note that number down too. (I know, this is a difficult situation to hypothesize, but I am postulating for the sake of argument.) I pass on both these numbers to the police. The police should take cognizance of the second number as well. I know it does not neatly fall under the abetment category, but there must be some other provision under the IPC - criminal negligence or something - under which these people can and should be booked.

The conscience unaided will accomplish nothing. Conscience bled to its death a long time ago.

Pretty things that lighted up my life this week


  1. A line from the song ‘Yeh Dilli hai…’ from Delhi 6. The line goes: ‘Yeh shehar nahin, mehfil hai.’ The way every little nook in Delhi glows like a jewel in the evening, the way domes and gardens light up like candles in front of a huge mirror, the way every season suffuses the city with easy, fragrant languor, the way you see a myriad interpretations of a poem each time you look up at the sky…this line sums up those traces of Delhi really well.

  2. One of my cook’s latest inventions – adding strong, black coffee to a caramel custard mix before setting it. Tastes heavenly!

  3. The Costa Coffee in Inorbit Mall in Vashi. I love that place…it’s cute, cosy, and a very friendly place to hang-out. Oh, and there’s the ‘White chocolate and lemon muffin’. That is the only dessert I have had in all the Costas I have been to – in Noida, Delhi, and now Bombay. Usually, in coffee places, anything that isn’t made out of chocolate tastes like it’s been prepared out of wet cardboard. But this muffin – it’s soft with a nice, lemony centre and topped with a generous smear of delectable white and dark chocolate. Very, very good.

  4. The second-hand bookstore and library inside Hiranandani. This guy must be scouring the world for some amazing reads. He has a graphic novel based on Homer’s Odyssey.

  5. The roads off Kurla. Man! The things that improve when you aren’t looking!

  6. Amazing cab rides from Vashi to Marol. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone’s eyes light up when I’ve said ‘Marol’ at 9 in the morning. Usually, they pretend as if I have snot on my nose and look the other way and whiz off. Of course, they are all autos! See, cabbies have class.

  7. A sort of a kitty party I was part of quite suddenly. It’s nearly 11:30 p.m., it’s the ladies compartment, and it’s pleasantly full. One woman peels an orange, another one tears up a packet of chips. Since I am sitting with them and looking hungry, they offer me their snacks. I refuse at first, but they insist. So I take some chips. One of them looks at me a little sadly and advises, “Beti, itna fight kyun maarne ka…shaadi karke ghar sambhaal. Aaaram se…” The other one says, “Apun ne bhi toh shaadi kit hi…kya hua?” To which the first one replies thoughtfully, “Yeh marad log bhi na...kya bharosa…” Ah! Kinship!

  8. Cold, cold mornings. There’s actually a bite in the air when I head out at 6 a.m. Just that sharp sting on the face when you run…that makes the horrible struggle to get out of bed so very worth it.

  9. Catching a glimpse of myself in the mirror at midnight while getting water from the kitchen. Do I look good when I’m sleepy or what! Wow! My heart did skip a beat, and this time it wasn’t fear.

  10. Theories that can germinate and circulate only in New Bombay. One day, I was chatting with an auto-guy and mentioned that once the Metro is ready, life in Bombay will be superb! He said, “Hmm…lekin ab kya faayda madam, metro ko aur do saal lag jaayenge, aur Delhi-6 to agle hafte release karne waali hai.” I didn’t get the connection. The guy thinks that the Bombay Metro is being constructed for the promotion of Delhi-6. Hee hee hee! Maybe the promotion also involves Sonam Kapur travelling in a lovely yet forlorn fashion from Versova to Ghatkopar up and down the entire Friday that it releases. (And if that is the case, maybe Rakesh Mehra could make another movie ‘Pune Potholes’. We could definitely benefit from publicizing something like that!) So filmy we are!

  11. Line from another song I heard in an ad. In fact, the ad is about a man looking lovingly at his wife while she is buttering toast or something. In the background, there’s a song playing on the radio. It’s sort of a scratchy and Rafi-type number. It goes something like…Tu meri khwaabon ki taaveez hai.

  12. A little girl buying a huge teddy bear for her grandfather on Valentine’s Day. Both had the most glorious toothless smiles ever!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

A sort of a requiem

Today, when her eyes were closed

They absorbed these things unseen

They swept the void and scanned the dark

And carefully wiped them clean



With closed eyes she saw the ways

Thrills were embossed in the dark

She saw pulchritude and plenty

In abysses cold and stark



When her eyes closed, she saw

How the heart swells with feelings

To dizzying heights and plunging depths

Through all its capricious dealings



When an innocent heart was broken

And its pieces fell to the ground

Her eyes took them in willingly

Each little bit lying around



How much her eyes saw and captured

How many things great and small

How much they held in captive splendour

Though the dead see nothing at all

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

I think, therefore I am. They don't think, therefore they are too...so what was the use of it all?

Perhaps this is an age of over-reflection. Reflection that morphs from introspection to lethargy to sloth to fearful paralysis in a while. A comfortable slide down. Maybe, this is why non-thinkers seem to be taking over the world.

Read this quote somewhere today. Made sense: ‘Get action. Do things; be sane; don’t fritter away your time…take a place wherever you are and be somebody; get action.

By Theodore Roosevelt

Monday, February 16, 2009

Music, lyrics, and other messages

I am listening to this song, “Itna na mujhse tu pyaar badhaa, ki main ek baadal awaara. kaise kisi ka sahaara banoon, ke main beghar bechaara; armaan tha gulshan par barsoon, kisi shokh ke daaman par barsoon, afsos ki jalli mitti se mujhe takdeer ne meri de maara …

If this isn’t the sweetest way to say ‘I’m commitment phobic’, what is? :-)

Friday, February 13, 2009

Life lessons on the road

At the signal, I could see a really adorable Sardar child in the bus. He was looking at my car. So, I turned down my window and thrust my hand out to wave. In doing so, I accidentally hit the cyclist coming from behind the car. (It’s amazing how quickly those blokes can zigzag in the midst of crazy traffic. Of course, today I faced the kind of traffic one would wish for by rubbing a vintage lamp. It was that smooth. So I can’t quite understand why that cyclist had to change lanes, slithering from here to there, like a tapeworm.)

He stumbled a bit and snapped, “Itne zor se indicator kyun deta hai?” Indicator? If that’s how one indicates, one wonders just what exactly one is indicating.

In keeping with the spirit of the thing, though, I replied, “Zor se diya, tab bhi aapko nahin dikha!”

He grumbled something and went on his way.

The child who was watching all this, smiled. He was so cute! But this time, instead of waving or anything, I started the wipers and then squished a little water on the windscreen. He looked so happy! He actually started jumping in his seat and pointing at my car squealing with joy! But the lady who was accompanying him didn’t seem to be too interested. All of a sudden, she took a purple bow – the kind you tape up on presents- and put it on his little turban. Oh God! I really wish I could have darted into the bus and squeezed his cheeks! He was such a tight, little lemon.

And then the stupid tempo behind me started honking. They are really annoying – these tempos. Half the time, on Asalpha, they swerve as if they will tumble on one side or the other. But they don’t and go crating along irritatingly. Not to mention the stupid messages painted on them that mean god knows what! I saw one that had ‘Baawarchi Mania’ painted in hot pink. Sheesh!

Close to Mankhurd, though, the road narrowed because of some naaka-bandhi. So, all the cars had to squeeze into a single lane and crawl ahead. To my right, I saw a police jeep. Great! Now, the way police jeeps move is that they will blindly cut across lanes, other cars be damned. And they do that with such alacrity and purpose, that you wouldn’t want to be in their way. I was trying my best to move to the left to allow it to pass by a great margin. Slowly, the jeep overtook me and a little ahead – it did the unimaginable. It flicked on the indicator.

I have never known that to happen. I think a lot of other drivers were stumped too. There was a moment when things just seemed to move in slow motion. As if everyone were dazzled by this flood of white-light, or in this case, tiny flickers on orange.

Then just as I was applauding the police for its etiquette, I saw the unfolding of the eternal question – “What happens when an irresistible force meets an immovable object?” The force being the jeep, the object being a big, burly BEST. The bus rammed ahead to stop the police jeep in its tracks. The jeep honked, the bus didn’t move. The driver looked out and politely asked the bus driver to let it pass. The bus driver looked out and snapped at him for changing lanes. He also, imperiously demanded that he should pass first.

This was the police! I mean, I never thought a BEST could show such audacity to the police! I didn’t think anyone could! The driver of the police jeep shrugged and got back in. The bus started. And in a split second after, when the gap between the two vehicles increased a bit, an auto almost squeezed through it and whizzed past.

So, here’s the answer to that eternal question – a resistible force and a movable object will slip through and go ‘Nyaah na na nyaah nyaah!’

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Before one calls it home…

My friend is looking to rent a flat in or around Juhu. And every passing day, she’s realizing what a big hoax the ‘market is down’ message is. I know that feeling. I mean, if the markets are down, and I still can’t afford anything, just how low in the barrel must I be? I suppose one should be grateful that one can at least afford a barrel to be at the bottom of.

In any case, for the longest time my friend wasn’t finding something she liked, and this was really getting her down. Yesterday, she looked happy, though. I asked her if she’d found a good place yet. She said no, but her brokers were getting increasingly resourceful and innovative.

One had taken her to see a place near Prithvi theatre. It was a small flat and a little out of her budget, but given the location, she was interested.

Until, she saw a big hole in the wall.

“Yeh deewar mein hole hai”, she pointed out to her broker.

Haan madam,” he nodded understandingly. “Aap AC fit karenge, to hole bandh ho jaayega.”

“Aur agar mujhe AC nahin chaahiye?”

“To hawaa aayegi na madam.”

And they say house-hunting is a boring job.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Found this really funny!

A colleague sent this joke as a forward. It's a blonde joke, but could've been really any ole vegetraian. (Meat eaters are not so ditzy, I think).

***********************************

A blonde, wanting to earn some money, decided to hire herself out as a handyman-type and started canvassing a wealthy neighborhood. She went to the front door of the first house and asked the owner if he had any jobs for her to do.

"Well, you can paint my porch. How much will you charge?"

The blonde said, "How about 50 dollars?"

The man agreed and told her that the paint and ladders that she might need were in the garage. The man's wife, inside the house, heard the conversation and said to her husband, "Does she realize that the porch goes all the way around the house?"

The man replied, "She should. She was standing on the porch."

A short time later, the blonde came to the door to collect her money."You're finished already?" he asked.

"Yes," the blonde answered, "and I had paint left over, so I gave it two coats. "

Impressed, the man reached in his pocket for the $50.

"And by the way," the blonde added, "that's not a Porch, it's a Ferrari."

Monday, February 09, 2009

Smelling the rose at Kala Ghoda

Here’s how I managed to go to the Kala Ghoda festival today. This morning, I went for a walk, returned to a huge breakfast, finished the last few chapters of ‘Beloved Witch’, and went back to sleep. It was a heavy, thick sort of sleep – the kind that just swallows in the hours in large gulps. When you awaken, the sun has set and you are disoriented with a fuzzy taste in the mouth. But thankfully, I woke up around noon due to a grumbling tummy. I didn’t feel like preparing anything fancy, so I just had some cookies and milk.

All the while, though, I was wondering whether I should go to town or not. After all, it was close to 2:30 now, and I didn’t want to spend a late Sunday evening. Next week will be rough at work and I want to be properly rested for that.

But every time I make plans to go to town, there’s this thrill that just puts everything in motion. It got me to promptly message a friend that I’d be reaching V.T. around 5. In a matter of minutes, she replied that she’d meet me there.

There was a quick bath. There were some mental calculations (should I take the train to Vashi? What if the trains are cancelled because of repair works on Sunday? How about taking a bus to Bandra and catching a fast train to Churchgate? And it’ll be a nice walk from Azad Maidan to Regal.) Finally, there was decision to take a chance with the V.T. train.

I’ve always had this experience – once I decide to go to town, everything just falls into place. I got a return ticket in a jiffy (I still get excited at how far I can travel by train for just twenty rupees) and in a matter of minutes, I was in a train…heading towards town.

The second class was pleasantly empty. In fact, I could actually pick and choose earrings at my own pace. (The sellers bring piles of earrings, clips, bands, etc. in little boxes which women sift through.) Again, it amazes me that in a train, I can actually buy a pair of ear-rings for five bucks! I mean, at Vashi station, even a vada pav costs six rupees now. But for five rupees apiece, I got two pairs of candy-striped tops in yellow and blue, and little droplets of green and caramel colored stones. The thrifty part of my consumerist soul just purred.

Around 4:45, the train pulled into V.T.

How is it that the more this place changes, the more it remains the same? How can a place astound with newness and tempt with familiarity at once? V.T. still does that.

Post the shootings, the place looked cleaner, there were more police personnel stationed all over the platforms, and some detectors were in place. But it still had that slightly goofy, bizarre charisma that I’d walked into very warily, nearly a decade ago, to start college. There was a Coffee Express right alongside the second-class apartments, so one could just grab a latte and hop into the train – settling in for a long ride home.

This thoughtfulness – this class of service – you’ll never find in a suburb. You just have to slip into town to know, to feel…that finesse breeds here. I stepped out into a Bombay that makes you feel like you’re in a big city (as opposed to the glorified ghettoes some suburbs have become). Two girls were standing in front of GPO contemplating who should click the other one first. I asked them if they’d like me to click them. A cop nearby chewed on a bubblegum and a happy, shiny breeze stirred up somewhere.

In town, the skies catch the best light, the sea is its most poetic self, gaits are lighter, and smiles – just so easily- reach the eyes.

I’d already started grinning in anticipation of my day ahead.

I hailed a cab and reached Kala Ghoda.

There wasn’t much crowd at that time. My friend hadn’t reached by then, so I thought I’d browse by myself until she arrived. I was a bit hungry and thirsty, though, so I got a gelato. Slurping on my ‘Yo Berry’ pink ice, I went from one interesting piece of installation art to another. My favorite, though, was one with lots of colorful kettles, tin-trunks, and cutting chai glasses. It’s called ‘Made in Chai-na’. There was another good one – a missile made of red wire-frame with doves crashing against it and dying.

Moving on, I saw a booth called ‘Notes to Pakistan’. You could go in and write a note to, well, Pakistan that would be pinned up on a board, or you could just go in and look. Some of them were really funny! There was one that said, “You deserved Jinnah then. You deserve him now.” Another one had a stick figure drawn outside a hut or something. It read, “To all Pakistanis! We know where you live!”

Some were more somber, “We want peace. Stop the terrorism.”, “Surprise us. Take responsibility.” My favorite, however, was a simple, professorial admonishment, “Blasting people is not good.” (You don’t say?!)

By that time, my friend had reached and I decided to take her to Jehangir Art Gallery. And this was a surprise! Some of these paintings were absolutely stupendous! There was one charcoal sketch of a side of an elephant’s face. The creases were so life-like that I actually stared for a good five minutes besides moving along. I couldn’t understand some of the other works, but their techniques looked clever. Another one I liked had two men sleeping on the floor, wrapped in checkered blankets. The colors were so pretty – yellow and blue. In fact, what interested me was the painting’s unusual background – there were stripes of light candy colors – pink, mauve, blue, and green.

After the novice art appreciation stint, we headed into the festival. I bought a bright, Jaipuri pink keychain for a friend and a fuchsia chunni for myself. My friend picked out a really glam cocktail purse and a necklace. Then, as expected, we ran out of cash and decided to walk around instead.

At the amphitheater, a guy – exceedingly good-looking – was playing the drums. By the time we reached, the crowd was already clapping and thumping to a rhythm the musician had set. A few minutes later, he started playing the typical Visarjan dhol beat, and the crowd cheered like crazy. He was so good!

His performance was rather short, though. Someone this good-looking should just be made to sit onstage and smile, even if he is not performing.

Later, my friend and I proceeded to Colaba causeway where, it seems, no-one knows that there’s a recession on. So you see a stole, you ask how much it costs, and they tell you it’s 400 bucks. You, on reflex, drop it down. You tell them that you could pick up one at that price at Bombay Stores! They then tell you – okay, take it at 200. No, you say. You also wonder how he slashed his price by 50% in two minutes. You walk away and he hollers – okay, 150. You keep walking and he shouts 75. 75! From 400! The ridiculousness seems to be more tempered in Linking Road. (And I never thought I’d say that.)

Famished, we walk into Leopold and head upstairs because there’s no place at the ground level. We get a seat there and order our dinners – a prawn pulao for my pal and fries, veg burger and Coke for me. Now, it’s been a while since I last went to Leo’s, so I’d forgotten that they served food by the mound. A mound of fries, a mound of rice, and burger bread the size of an island marooned Lego characters could live on.

Satisfied, we headed back to V.T. I was tired and feeling a little sad at having to go back home. It’ll be New Bombay and Marol for a while, maybe Bandra, Andheri, and Powai to break the monotony. But town will be slowly out of my reach soon.

Inside the compartment, a cop did a few rounds checking under seats, a couple of women walked in eating peanuts. One of them, I noticed, had a cup of coffee with her. A young girl walked in with a box of make-up to sell. (I bought a blue eyeliner for ten rupees, and a lilac lip-gloss and shimmer for twenty rupees each.)

As I put my treasures in my bag, I looked back at my day at the fest.

So many people will not come to this fest. They won’t come because they can’t relate to this part of town. It’s too far and traveling all this distance is not worthwhile. They’ll go to the 50-70% sales in bright, glittery malls. They’ll see Dev D in plush multiplexes close to their homes. They’ll run errands and do household chores. They’ll down drinks or have meals at nearby restaurants. They’ll go to Foodland or Big Bazaar in autos or cars to buy groceries. Nothing wrong with any of this. But a few will make the mistake of thinking, “Now, town is dead. Who needs to go so far – suburbs have everything. This is where the action is. And town – it’s so inconvenient.”

Their world will then be Bandra, Khar, Andheri, Juhu, Vashi, Nerul, Powai, Chembur, Ghatkopar, Mulund, Goregaon, Malad, Kandivali – wherever. Their world will be ‘convenient’. They will never step out to see this little sheen of pearl that gently mocks and tells you that convenience is for the mediocre.

I remembered an episode from 'Desperate Housewives' where Eva Longoria is having an affair with her much younger gardener. It’s supposed to be a casual fling, but the gardener is already in love with Eva. He gifts her a beautiful rose after spending many weeks trying to locate a flawless specimen. Meanwhile, Eva tells her husband doesn’t excite or surprise her anymore. She wants him to take her breath away. The next day, the husband buys her a state-of-the-art automobile. Loaded with gizmos, dripping with style. He, then, asks her if he’d managed to take her breath away. Eva thinks of the gardener’s gift and realizes that it’s a rare person who understands the value of a single, perfect rose.

That is true. There’s exactly such a flower blooming away in Bombay. And it’s in an inconvenient spot.

*****************

Details of the Kala Ghoda fest, here: http://www.kalaghodaassociation.com/

Friday, February 06, 2009

25 things about me

J tagged me on Facebook. I think I need to list down stuff about myself that not many people know. (Although considering I share the celebrity status of a sea-urchin, I think most things about me will not be known in any case.) I also have to tag some others, but I won’t do that. Anyone who wants to do the tag, is very welcome to do it.

1. I love to see/ be around tall people. I really, really wish I were taller.


2. I am currently contemplating whether I believe in God or not. I would like to learn more about atheism.


3. I get positively rabid if I don’t get enough space – physically and emotionally.


4. I see merit in violence – I think it is an effective way to teach certain lessons to certain kinds of people.


5. Often times, I wonder whether I am capable of excellence – in anything.


6. I love listening to other people’s travel stories.

7. As a child and a teenager, I believed I was incapable of love. (One of my school teachers had told me this.) Then one time in college – in F.Y.J.C. (First Year Junior College), I participated in my college fest. To motivate us, the guy in charge of our team took us for tea and cherry custard to Kayani’s. It was around 6 p.m. and the roads were getting crowded with people returning home from office. We reached the place after warding off a swarming crowd. But the place was crowded, so we were told to wait outside. The group was already getting irritated with everything and we had started snapping at each other. Then this guy started speaking – slowly, and with a strange glint in his eyes. He asked us to look up. Between two rows of buildings, there was a very small patch of sky. It was pink, blue, and gold. The guy said, “See, I know what we’re doing is not very big or wonderful – it’s never going to be. But it’s like this city – not really very big, and not always very wonderful. It’s like that patch of sky. It makes the not-so-big and not-so-wonderful things worth your while. That’s what I want us to make Malhar (my college fest) – not a horizon, not this incredible expanse above…just a patch of sky. Let’s do it for Bombay – the city that’s taught us to look up.” We applauded, had our cherry custards, and went on to host, what I think, was the most incredible Malhar ever. By the way, I had noted down his impassioned speech and we gave them as momentos to everyone in the team later. And with those words and that sky, I fell in love with Bombay.


8. I take an instant dislike to people who speak disparagingly of this city and Marathi people and food. Especially food. (I don’t like people in any case. They are all irritating, irrespective of where they belong. Except for Tibetans. I love them.) I dislike it when people say that Maharashtrians can’t cook daal, or rotis, or all the sabzis taste the same. First of all, it is not true. Marathi food in Murud and Marathi food in Kolhapur is very, very different. Unfortunately, and very weirdly, one does not get authentic Maharashtrian food very easily in Bombay. (And I’m not talking of that over-priced restaurant, Viva Maharashtra.) And who’s to tell that there is only one way to make a paratha or daal? I mean, not everything needs to be thick and churning with butter, or garnished with jaggery and cumin seeds, right?


9. I loved my time in the U.S. I found the place to be warm, strangely innocent, and fair. In fact, it is my dream to study in New York someday.


10. I have a bias against NRIs. I didn’t like them too much when I was in the States – the way they kept talking about India like it was some kind of leper. The others were so much more open-minded.


11. I don’t like Bombayites who think that just because they are from Bombay, they are the cat’s whiskers. I mean, what’s the point of living in a big city if you are going to think like a frog in the well? So, it is important to remember this – that this city doesn’t have a monopoly on professional people. There are very professional people in other cities and it IS very safe to walk out after sunset in other places. So, its just plain irritating to find grown-ups from Bombay shiver and skunk around like cowards after sundown in any place outside of here.


12. I don’t feel anything for Orissa. As in, I definitely feel no link with that place even though that’s where my parents are from. But the last time I visited, I loved Bhubaneshwar – the climate, the food, the sights and smells. As a tourist, I’d like to go there again.


13. I have very stormy moods. And that’s when I really, really look forward to being left alone. I have ruined several relationships because of my moods, but I really think they are necessary. I am not very sure what purpose they serve, but they are there – and I’m guessing they are there for a reason.


14. I try very hard to forgive quickly, but I cannot manage. Someday, I hope to.


15. I hate cats. They are irritating and disdainful, and my theory is that cat-loving people are the sorts who will definitely complicate matters for themselves. My brother loves cats.


16. I love babies! I love the way they trust and demand. I love their open-heartedness.


17. I am getting tired of my friends – most of them. A few I really, really like – but the others are just…I mean, I think it’s time to part ways. Maybe I’m too selfish, maybe they are. But if we didn’t keep in touch anymore, it wouldn’t be the worst thing to happen to either of us.

18. I want to learn to paint. I think I will be very good at it.


19. I miss my maternal grandparents. They expired three - four years ago. They lived in Pandara park in Delhi for around ten years or so. My grandfather had once taken me to the Supreme Court when I was a child, and then we went to eat somewhere at Khan market. My grandmother used to take us to Janpath and we'd eat at Wimpy's. I miss them. Those were simpler times.


20. I want to do something big for my city. Something that will make a difference. I sometimes contemplate going back to law, but I am a little wary of the amount one earns in the legal field unless one is a hotshot.


21. I hate fear and doubt. I want to be eradicate every ounce of fear from my mind.


22. I believe that, when the time is right, I will be a fabulous mother. The kind who will bring up her child to never ever be needy or clingy.


23. I take it like a personal responsibility to find jobs for anyone who is unemployed or looking for a change– whether they are keen on job-hunting or not. I love seeing people gainfully employed.


24. My idea of the sexiest part of any body is a flat stomach.


25.I really, really don’t understand facebook.

Passing this tag along in the Universe.

Father of the lost soul

It was my parents’ anniversary the day before. We had gone out to Pot Pourri in Vashi for dinner. It was really nice! I like Pot Pourri, but I was sceptical about how it would be in Vashi. Well, as it turns out, the service there definitely beats the kind you get in Bandra. People are so warm! They wait patiently until you have made up your mind. And they also make intelligent recommendations saying things like, “If you like cheese and capsicum, you should try this.” (It’s a different sort of treatment from, say, pointing a pencil at a dish and looking bored until the imbecile decides to order it or not.)

Amongst us, we had some Mandarin mojitos, guava frappes, a lasagne, thai curry and rice, and a chicken stroganoff. I really like their mocktails – especially their mojitos. I am generally partial to drinks that have chunks of citrus or other fruits in them – like sangria and the like. In fact, at the Library bar, I’d once had a drink with cubes of sweet lime and pineapples treated with brown sugar, rock salt, and some pepper. It was amazing!

Although all of these were tasty, the unexpected winner was a side dish – something called Grandma’s mashed potato with Creole spices. Now, it’s just potato and how wrong could one go with it? But the dish was quite a testimony to what could happen if you got it right. Exceptionally right. The potato was creamy and very well-flavored. The salt and spices were spread evenly and that crust of cheese on top was just right! That’s how cheese should be used in a dish – for taste, not conquest.

As we were eating, my father started on this topic I am getting a little weary of now. How I’m pushing myself and not really adding value to my life. Firstly, I don’t think I am pushing myself. Secondly, yes, I suppose I could be doing things to become a stellar personality who will later feature in children’s textbooks, but it’s okay. In fact, it’s more than okay. It’s good.

But once my dad gets started on this, there is very little one can do to stop him.

Father: You should take a couple of months off.

Me: For what?

Father: Go travel, do whatever you want.

Me: I am doing whatever I want. I like my job, I like my car, I like my friends.

Father: You don’t have any friends anymore. It’s been just job and home for you since the last few months.

Me: And I like that. Friends are over-rated anyway.

Mom: I know! You should buy a house. There’s a property exhibition in Bandra. Go, buy a house.

My father looked a little alarmed at the women he was having dinner with. Quite an unsociable duo.

Father: Yes, house is…but you need time for yourself. Just take some time off and go for a holiday. You need this time…

Me: For what!

Father (very solemnly):
To find yourself.

Me (I can’t believe what I’ve just heard): I have found myself. This is it!

Father (genuinely surprised): Really? Maybe you should search a little more…

My parents spoil me so.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Request

If anyone from Delhi will be visiting Mumbai soon, and will be staying over the weekend - could you please get me a copy of the 'First City' magazine? Will pay for it, of course. Thank you!

And for the people of Delhi, do read it if you haven't. It's a really well-written, intelligent magazine. When they interview writers or artists, they actually ask about their craft and metier and stuff like that. Not simply, what's their favorite food, colour, or holiday spot.

So, yes, it is published work that is not tinted with the contemporary virtue of dumbing things down...but you will love it despite that.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Shleepy thoughts

I am really looking forward to going home and sleeping today. It promises to be a long, long day and I have to drive back home. Home is so far, far away. The other day, I had to go and check out a flat near Andheri station. A girl there wanted a room-mate, but for some weird reason I don’t want to shift just yet.

I’ve started running in the mornings now, at least three-four times a week, and I don’t want to break the routine just yet. Maybe in another couple of months. For now, I will have to handle the commute from New Bombay. It’s not really difficult, if one has a good head of sleep.

I don’t get why people at work can’t understand the seriousness of a sleeping disorder. How can you expect people to turn up to work early day after day, even if they stay late the night before? And if you stay late and come in late, you have to fill up a blooming form. Which is irritating. I hate forms.

I mean, if no forms have to be signed for me to stay back, then why should forms be signed to waive off late arrivals? It’s so callous.

A friend of mine had recently been to the U.S. When he came back, he mentioned how free a country India is. How people can actually break the law here and test limits. According to him, people in the U.S. follow the law because they are ‘afraid’. I think that is completely incorrect. People there follow the law because they know they will not get away with contravening them. It’s not fear, it’s respect. And it’s a pitiful Indian mentality to mistake respect with fear. Our idea of establishing importance is by ensuring inconvenience to the maximum number of people.

On another note…if I ever own a company wherein I require my people to work for eight hours or more, I will definitely provide places in my office to take a nap. How can you expect people to stay healthy and productive throughout the day without allowing their spines and backs to get some respite? Daft. I think from tomorrow I’ll just sleep in my car for sometime during lunch.

Now I am irritable, so I will list a few things that annoy me about the Indian mentality:

Crippling low self-esteem. That’s why we are hypocritical, defensive, quick to judge, slow to forgive, and lazy to appreciate. When I travelled to the States, or even to Jordan or Singapore, people were so appreciative of anything they liked. If they happened to like what I was wearing, they’d say that. If they liked my work, they’d say that. If they didn’t know or understand something, they’d ask a question straight-out. They wouldn’t cast sneaky glances around, feel as if they have to ration compliments, or think that it makes them stupid if they ask an obvious question.

Thoughtlessness. I don’t think we are an unintelligent lot, but we can’t seem to think beyond our noses. Therefore, there’s that idiot car that will try to cut lanes mid-way. Therefore, the irritating ladies who will hang out the doors of local trains and not let people walk in, even if the train is empty. Therefore, the stupid men and women who walk on the roads dangling their children by their arms. Therefore, the dumb pedestrians who will dash across a road right on the tip of a slope – the part where it is hardest for a car to manoeuvre.

Corrupt and dishonest. We are both because we are cowards. People without fear are people with integrity.

Whiners. Instead of taking responsibility for their own actions, they will make lists about what is wrong with the rest of the junta. Hmm, this hits closer to home than the others. :-D Comprenez-vous?

And we'd like it to fly high?

In simpler times, it was simply 'saffron, white, and green with a chakra in between.' In simpler times, this phrase was sung by children.

**************

There’s a big poster in Marol - near the fire-station, I think. It has a picture of a group of saffron-clad people walking purposefully. The slogan on the poster reads something along the lines of: “Ab aa gaye sant, karne jihad ka anth.” The lettering is in saffron, except for jihad, which is in green.

So, that’s saffron and green. Two colours of the Indian flag now associated with fundamentalism.

Maybe, it’s time white denoted atheism.