Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Tag gleaned from someone's page on orkut

1) When you looked at yourself in the mirror today, what was the first thing you thought?
With that face and that body, how are you not a model? (he he! Woke up really early…at a time when the mind plays tricks.)

2) How much cash do you have in your wallet right now?
1500 rupees. Got to buy some essentials and need some cash for a luncheon tomorrow.

3) What’s a word that rhymes with DOOR?
Bore, Core, Fore, Four, Gore, oar, pore, pour, soar, sore, lore, floor, so on and so forth.

4) Who is the 4th person on your missed call list on your cell phone?
Who knows?! I hate talking to people on the cell phone. I dislike cell-phones. I dislike people. And I thoroughly dislike the idea of using a cell-phone to communicate with people. Annoying!

5) What is your favourite ring tone on your phone?
I have the standard Reliance ring tone.

6)What are you wearing right now?
A purple-peasant top in a really light cheese-cotton fabric and a very bright yellow and orange cotton skirt. I like colourful clothes!

7) Do you label yourself?
Yes. Moody, difficult, complicated, very good cook, aloof, loyal, the embodiment of the Hamlet observation: I love too much, but not too well.

8) Name the brand of the shoes you’re currently own?
I have big feet, so nothing really fancy. I mainly wear flats or keds.

9) Bright or Dark Room?
Dark room lit by the lights of the night.

10) What is your latest fantasy?
I’m sitting in a room…it’s my room in Bandra, and all around me are these really ornate, chiselled goblets filled with wine and jasmines floating in them. There are lots of candles flickering inside and there’s a storm brewing elsewhere. I’m sitting on the marble floor with someone else…some tall guy with really nice fingers. He’s got long, silky hair and I suppose he’s visiting or something. I’m looking at the flashes of lightning splicing the darkness. The guy looks like he’s writing something on a wad of paper. A few minutes later, he hands it over. It’s actually a beautiful sketch of me looking at rain. The sketch is titled, “A poem”, and it’s signed, “Byron.”

11) What does your watch look like?
Not wearing one. I don’t like watches.

12) What were you doing at midnight last night?
I was looking out the window and thinking what different emotions are evoked by calling a strip of land ‘an empty street’ and ‘an open road’. And it was midnight because I loved that thought and I quickly looked at the time to see if I could write a poem on it. I didn’t.

13) What did your last text message you received on your cell say?
PYAAR, DOSTI ..ab sab kuch aapke haath mein…some promotional crap like that.

14) What’s a word that you say a lot?
‘But…’ (I intend to change it to ‘Yes’.)

15)Who told you he/she loved you last?
Mom and Cy – both, I think, just so that they could go back to watching TV instead of hearing me whine.

16) Last furry thing you touched?
A skirt bought in the ignorance of youth – it’s pink, it’s got hair on it, and it’s thigh-length. It looked cute a long time ago, but now it seems something a streetwalker would wear. On Muppet-land.

19) Your favourite age so far
Hmm…I love it now, although 25 is when my world-view changed for ever.

18) What was the last thing you said to someone?
"Come to my Bandra place – You’ll love it!"

19) The last song you listened to?
Dheere dheere se meri zinagi mein aana (from Aashiqui). I LOVE that song! LOVE IT!

20) Where did you live in 1987?

21) Are you jealous of anyone?
Not really

22) Is anyone jealous of you?

23) Name three things that you have on you at all times?
A ring made of blue sapphire, my nose-stud…everything else changes.

24) What’s your favourite town/city?
Mumbai – first, last, always

25) When was the last time you wrote a letter to someone on paper and mailed it?
A month ago…wrote it out and put it in Mother Mary’s petition box. :-)

26) Can you change the oil on a car?
No. It’s not enough now that I can drive one? Damn it!

27) Your first love/big crush: What is the last thing you heard about him/her?
First love - He’s happy.

First Big Crush – That would be Huckleberry Finn. Suffice to say, he’s happy too. :-D

28) Does anything hurt on your body right now?
My shoulder blades…for doing the bhujangasan and dhanurasan a tad longer than comfortable.

29) What is your current desktop picture?
It’s some default picture of a lake surrounded by icy trees and some other things looking prettily forlorn.

30) Have you been burnt by love?
Yes. But I’ve had it doused by food and clothes. Now, that’s something! :-)

The difference lies in us...

I like something high over something big
I prefer to leap and catch than to kneel and dig
I like an open palm, not a tight embrace
I’d choose twisted ropes over Venetian lace

You like snowy tips over frothy waves
You like the nod of kings, not the clasp of knaves
You need refined drinks, over humble foods
You like a steady mind over kaleidoscopic moods

This was okay until sometime back
Your red was red, but to me t’was black
The trouble began when you just couldn’t see
That my night, although dark, was light to me

Monday, June 29, 2009

Food for Talk

One of the lesser known, but more important, uses of food is providing humans with analogies to describe experiences. While poetry, art, religion, or philosophy does provide a comprehensive enough platter to pick nuggets of explanations from, sometimes an edible alternative works better. Sometimes, the most twisted situations or the deepest emotions can be likened to the tingling of the palate.

Barely a month ago, work kept in office until very late. I’d reach home around 2 a.m., knowing that I’d have only four hours on my bed before I began the next day. I’d have a small meal reading a story from ‘The Unaccustomed Earth’ before falling asleep. Those were physically trying times. But there was something about those stories that soothed me, comforted me. They were quiet and engaging. While reading them, I’d lose sense of the time or space I was in. I’d defer any urgency of living for later. I’d be lost in the nourishing wholesomeness of the moment. Reading Jhumpa Lahiri’s latest work was like eating rice-daal with fingers. Simple, affectionate, complete – like homecoming.


At a coffee-break the other day, a friend and I watched Marol get wet in the rain. Mumbai, I think, actually gurgles with child-like exuberance whenever there’s a downpour. Before we got transfixed by heaving trees and steady spouts of raindrops, we were generally talking about how one chooses a life-partner. Given my dismal track-record on the subject matter, I usually offer a companionable silence. This time, however, I was especially asked to provide suggestions. I offered my thumb-rules, “Be honest to yourself”, “Follow your heart”, etc. etc. Then she asked me what if there was more than one worthy contender? In that case, “Wait”, I advised. “For time to make a decision.”

Hmm”, she pondered. “Like, maybe you’re deciding between tea and coffee and suddenly, hot chocolate walks in.” Spot on, I thought.

That’s why food is important. Makes communication meaningful.

Friday, June 26, 2009


I am old enough to have a mind of my own. I don’t need to get influenced by other people’s biases or inherit prejudices. But over the last two months, I can’t help being influenced by what my cousin told me…about ‘no. 8’ people - people whose birth dates add up to no. 8. Not their whole birthdates, just the first number. He told me that no. 8 personalities lead difficult lives – mostly of their own doing. They are wilful, stubborn, controversial, rebellious, and tend to have relationships fraught with angst. They are the ones born with varying sizes of albatrosses that they spend their lives trying to release. (He’s an 8 himself.)

To prove his point, he started pointing out people who were born on the 8th of a month, or the 17th, etc. If I’d talk about a particular person who was being tough to handle, he’d ask me when the person was born. If I told him exasperatedly about someone who was obviously making the wrong choices, he’d ask me their birth date. Invariably, these people would be no. 8s.

I don’t quite believe that. But, I have started wondering.

Yesterday, my parents had driven to Pune along with my brother. As they were already late while leaving from Bombay, I’d asked them to post-pone their trip. They, of course, said no. They took my car. On the way back, they had an accident. A truck hit the car from behind. It was quite serious, but thankfully…very, very thankfully, no-one is hurt.

I heard about the accident this morning. Even before my father could say it, I knew he had been driving, and not my brother. It’s my dad’s birthday today. 26th of the June.

Adds up to an 8.

Thursday, June 25, 2009


I just thought of something…if I provided a service wherein people could get a synopsis of a particular book they wanted to read (a low-down on the story, how well it was received, stuff like that…), and if I let people short, quick glimpses of what the book looked and felt like…I’d call that service: Peek-a-book.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

My tale of a city

I love Hyderabad. I wonder if it was the weather (which was beautiful), or the happy, happy company (J and Cy), or the fact that I was taking a well-deserved break (never mind what anyone else thinks) – but I love Hyderabad.

I can’t get over how sweet and friendly the people are! And so very helpful! I reached Hyderabad at night and my phone was out of charge. I went to one of the attendants there to ask if there was a pay-phone somewhere and he gave me his mobile phone to make a call. When I reached Hi-Tech city, I generally asked a lady for directions. In response, she got me an auto and asked me if I’d reach okay. She offered to come with me by rick and have her son pick her up from my destination later. I mean, who does that?

I love that city! Very rarely have I come away from a city being so touched. Before all the glorious software that came and lit up the place, there were all these open hearts and sunny smiles. And after so long, I’ve seen a rice-eating populace being so brisk. Otherwise, most areas where people eat rice are just masses of fermented sloth. But people here work, walk, move so quickly. There’s a buzz in the air, and it’s a happy, contented buzz.

I never thought I had it in my heart to soften and cosy up to the idea of another city so much. That city…it’s made me feel.

Or maybe it wasn’t just Hyd. Maybe it was…thanks J, thanks a lot! :-D

My selfish heart has spoken

My share of twilights
My share of rain
My share of a lost season
To take for granted again

My piece of a mountain
My strip of a beach
My clutch of icy stars
All within reach

My stretch of a nomadic sky
My cupped palm of streams
My tapestry of urgent hopes
And unclenched, innocent dreams

My shards of sunbeams
And my forests of nights
My fervent leaps
Into unembellished heights

With this montage of wanton scraps
I build my world anew
It may be a little rip from the Universe
But I share it all with you

Friday, June 12, 2009

Suggestions anyone?

Could anyone please recommend any spooky reads? Not gory spooky, but spine-chilling spooky. Along the lines of Rebecca, perhaps.

Jaygee recommended 'The Shining' by Stephen King, but I haven't been able to find it in the Crosswords at Mulund or Vashi.

Also, while we're at it, any spooky movies you can think of? Nothing with blood, or heads spinning around or monsters covered in glop. But something simple and surreal.

Thank you!

P.S. - I HATED 'The Ring - parts 1,2,3,...infinity' and although I thought 'Evil Dead Part 1' was good, I thought that at a time when I didn't know any better. My all time favorite horror film? Omen - Part 1.

Sweet little dream

I’ve been really unwell since the last two days. Feeling feverish, getting cramps, and retching uneasily around midnight. Somewhere deep inside my stomach, I feel a painful unease. Trying to sleep at night has become a tough project now. So, I try to dream of soothing things – like jasmine petals in a tub of cool water in which I soak my feet. Or standing in front of an ice-slab that’s placed before a cooler on a hot, humid day. Last night, though, I dreamt of something very beautiful and profound.

I was lying on bed wearing my polka-dot cotton shorts and a military-print vest. It’s around two in the afternoon, and there’s a child on the bed. I think the kid is around three or four years old, and is painting something or arranging blocks. I imagine it’s a girl because I sense it’s my baby. Thus far, I have only thought of being a mother to a daughter.

I’m looking at her very lovingly, playing with her little toes and watching her flinch and wiggle her feet away.

I can’t see the face of the baby, though. Her breathing is even and peaceful. I’m relaxed just listening to it.

I get tired of the silence, so I ask her something. Although we are decades apart, and although I am her sole caretaker, and she is my daughter, etc., this conversation oddly feels woman-to-woman.

Is this world good? Or this world bad?”, I ask her.

For a few moments, I hear her calm, peaceful breathing. Then she replies, “It’s mine.”

Ah, the simplicity of arrogance. Truly, her mother’s daughter.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

First Impressions - The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan

I’ve just finished reading ‘The Lightning Thief’ by Rick Riordian. It’s the first of ‘Percy Jackson and the Olympians’ series. And in a long while, it’s the most exhilarating read I’ve had.

It’s fantasy fiction – about a young boy, around twelve or thirteen years old, who’s sent to a special school in New York. The school’s meant for kids suffering from dyslexia and attention-deficit disorders. But there’s more to Percy than meets the eye. He is not simply the product of a dysfunctional home with a loving mother and an alcoholic step-father. He is, in truth, the…

(Spoilers hereafter)

son of Poseidon, the Greek sea-god.

Owing to this lineage, many things befall this ‘half-blood’ – causing him to move beyond mortal parameters to other dimensions. In such alterative realities, he encounters other gods such as Ares, Medusa, Hermes, Hades, Zeus, Tartarus, etc. There’s also a brief encounter with the big daddy of them all, Kronos. And then there’s his quest – to reclaim Zeus’ thunderbolt from some unknown forces to stop a war of the gods.

It started off as a regular, light read for adolescents, but somewhere along the way, it totally gripped me. There are portions in the book where the author has described the Underworld (or ‘hell’ as we understand it) that is actually chilling. Here, people are either punished for their sins in a straightforward fashion like boiling in oil and listening to opera or running through cacti fields naked. Or else, they wait endlessly, in crowds of millions, in dark silence for a judgment that will not come. There are times when descriptions of Hades and his attendant Furies has actually caused me to put away the book at night. I mean, sure, that could be because I scare easy, but I think the writing was very compelling too.

Towards the end of the book, Percy finally meets Poseidon – the God who sired him in a lapse of judgment. Poseidon, along with his brothers, had taken an oath to not mate with mortals or have kids. Poseidon broke his promise. So, as soon as Percy was born, he had to leave the mother and son and head back to Olympus or the heavens and try to placate his brothers who threatened to rip the world apart. (That, by the way, is a favourite pastime of the Gods, it seems. “Hmm, now what can we possibly do to make things a little more difficult? Destroy the world? Now, there’s an idea!” )

Growing up Percy hated his father – for abandoning his mother and him. In fact, in the early part of his quest, his mother is destroyed, and Percy is shattered. Only later does he understand why that was necessary in the larger scheme of things. When he meets Poseidon, he is suddenly faced with the man whose love he never had, and whose approval he is still seeking. He feels little pricks of shame when Poseidon tells Zeus that he made a mistake by mating with a mortal to give birth to Percy. Finally he finds a quiet redemption when his father finally claims him as his own.

Sometimes, I wonder what it must feel to be a forsaken child. To know that your parent/s didn’t want you. In Percy’s case, although his father is a God, he is still close to his mother – an ordinary woman in an ordinary world trying to shape her life the best she can. A mother, whose haphazard world still has Percy in the centre of it.

But circumstances aside, there is such a thing as destiny that leads heroes and commoners alike. Percy, during his quest, realizes this – though it takes skill to become a god; it takes guts to remain human.

Friday, June 05, 2009

An unpleasant day in an ordinary life

Today she wore a light blue sweater. Moons ago, she’d refer to the color as ‘baby blue’. Today she’d call it ‘sky’. ‘Baby’ was a better description of the blue, though. It was nascent, pure, untainted. It was without ambition to become ‘royal’ or rambunctiousness to become ‘cobalt’. It was happy being what it was. It didn’t aspire to a lineage like ‘indigo’ or dilute its essence like ‘cyan’. That shade was, truly, a baby. Light, innocent, pleasant.

It was hot and stuffy in office. She’d walked in late and everyone looked up at her for a second. Today, late coming was anticipated because it was Friday. The last day of the working week saw people either coming late or leaving early. Typical.

But everything seemed palpably horrid. She seemed palpably horrid. It seemed as if her entire body was chortling out huge clouds of black smoke. She couldn’t stand looking at her colleagues today. All of them all happy with weekend plans. Talking loudly into phones making dinner reservations or logging on to video rental sites and selecting movies. Or gossiping about someone and promising to spill more beans over breakfast and coffee the next day. It was horrible. She wanted all of them to keep away from her. Only a couple of them received genuine smiles, though. They were nice. And they didn’t work with her. It’s easy to be good to people who keep their distance.

Precisely two seconds after she’d sat down, three people walked over to her cubicle. They didn’t say hello and started off asking her if she could do this, when she’d finish that, and would she be free to meet up for ten minutes?

“Give me a break!”, she wanted to scream. Loud and hard. Until it curdled everyone’s blood. Until their hair flew back when she yelled. Until they saw the pink-colored tonsils in her throat.

But she said, “Okay”. Hmm, so this is what mute feels like, she thought.

It wasn’t their fault, she realised. After all, they weren’t the ones who’d gone shopping for a silver cocktail dress at 5 p.m. the earlier evening. They weren’t the ones who, at 7 p.m., were informed that they could be suffering from breast cancer. They weren’t the ones who looked at the plunging neckline of the dress with a heavy heart.

The imminence of death is a strange thing. Of death following pain or arduous struggle is even more so. It is so surreal to think back on a life that seemed to have been razored with excitement and thrill at one time. But truthfully realize that it was a song that played out with the volume turned down.

She sat at the meeting with her teeth clenched. Couldn’t she have had a better life until now? Book-worthy? No. Article-worthy even? Nope. At the very least, segment-on-trashy-T.V.-worthy? Not even that.

It hadn’t been a remarkable life at all. She looked down at the sweater that was suddenly, neither ‘baby’ nor ‘sky’. It was pale, like her life.

But, like her life she grudgingly conceded, it was pleasant.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

An interesting day, today

After lunch, three of us were in a little strip of green outside our office. It’s ambitiously called a ‘garden’. If they plant one more tree with more than five branches, we’ll refer to it as ‘the forest’. It was a really pleasant afternoon. A strong breeze, bright but tender sunshine, some pink and yellow flowers in full bloom, clean, cobbled paths. It was a good setting for a luncheon walk. Whilst walking, though, my friends screamed and hopped aside. I looked around in alarm – thinking that maybe a cat had begun to sing. I don’t like cats. Not even if they can sing. Cats are annoying. I don’t like cats. I can’t understand why other people do. Now, I don’t much care for dogs either, but dogs are better. If they are around, you know they’re around. Cats, on the other hand, don’t let up. They make you believe that they’re not around, and then when you least expect it, when you’re settling down with a nice, spicy vegetable roll on a park bench, they start meowing. That startles you and you spill stuff on your white skirt and then, everyone in office laughs at you. And this happens even if they’re not singing.

In any case, my friends weren’t shocked by cats. They were shocked by a couple of skittish chameleons. They were the most fascinating creatures I’ve seen in a long while. The chameleons were alternately hopping on the grass and the pathway, so their backs were a bright green but their heads and chest areas were this pale, stone grey. Depending on where they were located, that portion of their body was getting brighter.

After a while, they scuttled away into some bushes and their tails immediately started turning brown. It was so magical! These creatures had a palette of colours their skins could turn into. And they had decided to come out and play in the sun.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Book List

I’m feeling really jumpy today. I have so many things to write about, but all these ideas and words seem to have spilled all over my brain like jelly beans. Bright, jelly beans – all purple, yellow, bubble-gum pinks, tangerine orange, Kermit green, neon blue – spongy little gel-spurts of color inside my head. It’s impossible to get hold of these beans, much less string them to make some sort of a sentence. I think I’ll simply make a list of books that I have but haven’t read yet:

1. Inventing Memory by Erica Jong (I’ve read ‘Fear of Flying’. It’s excellent.)

2. Circle of Reason by Amitav Ghosh (I still think his best work is ‘Shadow Lines’.)

3. Enchantress of Florence by Salman Rushdie

4. Midnights Children by Salman Rushdie (I honestly have not read this one yet because I want to be worthy of reading it. It’s a strange feeling, inadequately expressed, but that’s the only reason I reverently touch the spine of this book every night before putting it back on the shelf.)

5. How to Make an American Quilt by Whitney Otto

6. Percy Jackson: The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan (This one I borrowed and am reading it now. I don’t much care for fantasy fiction, but my colleague seemed delighted by it. Thought I’d give it a try. Liking it immensely so far.)

7. Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth (This book is the reason Indians learn to read and write English, apparently.)

8. Blink by Malcolm Gladwell (I had loved Tipping Point.)

9. From a Buick 8 by Stephen King (I haven’t read any other Stephen King novel. But have cringed through several movie adaptations. There’s one book, ‘Art of Writing’, though, that I strongly recommend. It’s a sort of a guide on how to write novels. King got this idea when he was playing in a music band with other writers – and Amy Tan was one of them. One day he asked her what question she wishes she were asked by reporters, when they interview her.
She said ‘…no-one asked about the craft.’ This book, ‘The Art of Writing’, is apparently a response to that unasked question.)

10. Playing for Pizza by John Grisham (I’d started reading this book and it was quite entertaining. But I misplaced it somewhere. I do want to finish this book in some nice coffee shop between movies or when I’m travelling somewhere. Seems that sort of in-transit read.)

11. City of Djinns by William Darlymple (Took it up, read a few chapters, left it…took it up again, read the same chapters, left it…etc. etc.)

12. Age of Kali by William Darlymple

13. One L: The Turbulent True Story of a First Year at Harvard Law School by Scott Turow (Law…Harvard…all the things I’m besotted with.)

14. Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts

15. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Marquez (It’s time now…it’s high time now…)

16. Maximum City by Suketu Mehta (I stopped reading it mid-way when I started getting nightmares about the Mumbai riots. But increasingly, with a shifting sense of an ‘insider/ outsider’ duel inside my head, this book is becoming a very important one to read now.)

17. Made to Stick by Chip and Dan Heath

18. Women who run with the wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estes

And these are the books on one shelf in one room. I think I’m set with the reading for the rest of this year.