Monday, December 31, 2007
Friday, December 21, 2007
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
This prompted Ro to visit the Madiwala Lake last Saturday afternoon. The 114.16 hectare lake, with a wetland area of 24.74 acres, was built nearly 300 years ago. It is said to have been built overnight (don’t ask me how!) and it got its name (which means washerman) from the washermen folks who lived around it. The water was supposed to have been so clean that people would travel several miles to take drinking water from it. Not any more.
The many varieties of fish, the rose garden and the nursery have long since disappeared. Replaced not surprisingly by a slum on the habitable bank, contributing to human waste contamination of the lake water. The forest department has done precious little except to put up a very badly maintained children’s park and deploying a apathetic gatekeeper whose main concern is to collect Rs. 3/- per ‘entry’.
But we saw the spot-billed pelicans. This more than made up our day which was otherwise ordinary. Not in hundreds though, as the news article promised but may be a few dozens of them. With most of them dozing on the trees at the island, only a handful of them played up to the crowd and displayed their skills at take off and landing. This island is their home in the lake for the two months that they decide to spend here.
Pelicans are strange birds. They lay 3 eggs at a time and only one survives long enough to reach adulthood. The weakest ‘chick’ is done in early by the stronger ones. Of the remaining two, one slays the other so that only one survives at the end. So no need of ‘hum do hamare do’ there, was Ro’s comment. Wise eh?
Saturday, December 08, 2007
I am not a picky reader. I usually read whatever lands on my lap. This means I read a lot of forgettable stuff that no one in her/his sane mind would ever want to get close to. Stuff that by the end of the book you would hope to forget how you started reading it.
Idling through Landmark@Forum I had picked up a few books for Ro. I have read and liked Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni. So The Conch Bearer was a natural choice. Fact that the paper back print was large and was on discount made it an obvious choice.
It all started with helping Ro to read the book. It wasn’t long till I got hooked and waited impatiently for him to sleep so that I could race through the book myself. Even bribed him to carry it as my flight read. He is still reading and hates being told the story and insists on discovering it all by himself.
So his journey is still on. But mine was magical, as the book took me to my Kolkata, traversing through the cold dingy lanes to the warmth of the human heart. I became once more a twelve year old fighting to keep the innocence of believing in my heart as the world around caved in. For Anand, the protagonist, the path and the guide appeared as divine intervention. For me, neither the path nor the guide has ever come to rescue. Or maybe, I never believed enough.
Friday, December 07, 2007
Sphotik is six. A precocious six with dollops of still-remaining innocence. Sphotik lives with his mother. He loves his school and has few friends but not too many. His mother works in an office. She had taken him there a few times. She tells him she would be home with him if they had enough money for everything. Sphotik wants to see his mother home. He doesn’t like that she works so hard and at times comes home late. He tells her when he grows up he will take care of her and she doesn’t have to work at all when she is old. His mother doesn’t reply, just smiles and kisses him on the head.
Sphotik loves his mother. He has loved her for as long as he can remember. But he wonders why she looks sad even when she smiles at him. He has seen her cry when she thought he wasn’t looking. There really isn’t anything that he wouldn’t do for her. He just wants to see her happy. He tries to be good and tries to do everything she asks him to do. He loves watching Cartoon Network. He wishes that his mother lets him watch TV more often. He doesn’t know why she has been so sad lately. He has even stopped watching TV on Sunday mornings.
She plays with him, tells him stories, helps with his homework and makes yummy sandwiches for lunch that his friends love so much. But Sphotik knows she is sad. He had asked again and she had shaken her head and smiled. But Sphotik knows. She didn’t have her dinner last night. He knew when he opened the refrigerator in the morning to get his candy. He has also seen her standing in the puja room and there were tears rolling down her cheeks. He so wanted to hug her and tell her that everything will be all right. But he just prayed to God, please make my mother happy. He even wrote a note for his mother and drew a big heart. She hugged him tight and cried when he gave it to her. He doesn’t understand these adult things. He wrote it to make her smile. He hopes she loves him.
Thursday, November 29, 2007
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
It’s his birthday. She picks up the cellphone to wish him. The phone shows ‘no network’. She gets up and tries the landline. It’s dead. She dresses and walks to the public phone booth at the end of the street. That’s dead too. Her cellphone is still showing ‘no network’. That's odd, she thinks. What’s happening today? She drives to office. As she greets the front desk girl, she tells her with a big smile, “Guess what? I am jobless. All phone lines are down today!” What? By now her worry has given into panic. She walks to her desk and picks up the phone. What if the front desk girl is wrong. Dead. Her cellphone’s dead too! She rushes out. Without giving in to logic, she tries every phone on the block. People stared at her as she ran from public booths to shops and even to other offices, trying frantically to call him. She starts yelling. “I have to make a call. Can anyone help me?” The traffic sergeant walks over and tells her politely, “Lady, calm down. All phone lines are down today”. But she is past caring. What am I going to do now? I promised to call him on his birthday. He will never forgive me. She starts to cry.
Right at that moment her cellphone beeps. It’s a miracle!
“Happy Birthday darling!”
“Huh??” his sleepy voice responds. “Are you ok? My birthday isn’t until tomorrow…”
Monday, November 19, 2007
Who: Alice, Clyde, Auvese and I
When: Saturday (11/17/07)
Route: Bangalore - Dobbspet - Devarayanadurga
Distance: 70 km from Bangalore
Best Part: Rocks with good views
Description: This is on NH4, the main highway northwest for Pune. At about 51 Km, just past a bridge after the town of Dobspet, a sign on the right indicates the road to the Devarayanadurga. It passes through farm fields, through the town of Urdigere (about 16 kilometers). There is a left detour which takes us through the jungle to the Hill. There are two temples, one is Bhoga Narasimha, which is at the foothill this is a temple with a kalyani. Then there is a road which takes us to another point at a higher altitude to the Yoga Narasimha temple. This is an old structure but well maintained. Climb further up from the temple to the rocks to get a breathtaking view. The wind at the peak is imposing but cool...there are lots of monkeys...good place for rock climbers. There is also a police signalling center. This is only place where we can get mobile signal (all carriers) to make any calls to Bangalore.
Stopovers: Dobbspet and Namada chilume
Fuel Stations: Dobbspet
Tips: Watchout for the water hole on the way to the temple, the settings for this place is awesome. There is also Namada chilume (water springs out of barren rock) which is a beautiful place.
Friday, November 16, 2007
Wednesday, November 07, 2007
Tuesday, November 06, 2007
It was Parent’s Day at Ro’s school today. Through my school days, these were the most dreaded days as the teachers were usually full of praises for the high graders and for those parents whose children were doomed for mediocrity, there was always earnest sympathy.
But this time, as a parent, things are surprisingly different. The children, all forty of them in Standard 2, performed in various dances ranging from a popular Kannada song to a filmy Qawali. Ro was a part of the goanese song “Galiyan sanchi”. The best part was that the children enjoyed performing and was without a shade of nervousness of being on stage. Their smiles overshadowed the oft missed steps and mis-formed lines.
Most of all, there was no pressure to perform. Some may say it’s a bad idea since pressure goads the child to do better, but I would rather have a happy child enjoying himself than a super-smart wizkid. Thank you.
Saturday, November 03, 2007
A well meaning friend has warned me against using real names in virtual space. It was a very reasonable piece of advice. In the current world of Orkut-stalking and identity theft, it makes so much sense to be anonymous.
I remember when I came across the word for the first time. I was about five. During Pujo in my grandparent’s house in Kalyani. Kalyani then was a well known university town. Though the university still remains, the socio-demographic character of the town has gone through a makeover and the town has lost some of its former glory. Back then, you can imagine that the town had a favorable ratio of pseudo-intellectuals with the demography ruled by either students or retired pensioners. Now, both these groups were the flag bearers of moral, intellectual and cultural values that ‘bengaleeism’ is all about. So you could see its impressions all over town. Not surprisingly when my uncle, then a university undergrad, had formed a students’ association he chose to call it “Anonymous”. I believe it had a lot to do with escaping from libel suits cause they were notorious in a robinhoodish way. Their productive work was limited to the celebration of Durga Pujo through public fundraising. The rest of the year, the club members whiled away their time sitting around a bedraggled tea stall debating various issues from across the world and drinking endless cups of tea on credit. One thing you have to give to a bengalee is that he has an opinion on everything under the universe and that no two bengalees worth his fish fries would hold the same opinion. However, the jewel in the otherwise tarnished crown for this Club was the Durga Pujo which the members celebrated in a befitting manner making up for all the angst they have cause their families and neighbours around the year. It was there, while visiting the ‘pandal’ that I came across the word ‘anonymous’ for the pujo pandal was known as “Anonymous er Pujo”. When I asked my uncle’s friend Ajitkaku what it means, being a stanch communist, he told me it means ‘the nameless crowd who struggles to survive’. This absolutely didn’t make any sense to me for as far as I were concerned, everyone I knew, struggling or otherwise, had a legitimate name, including my uncle’s dog Kalia.
It was much later in school that I understood the true meaning but the thought of being ‘the nameless one’ always made me uncomfortable. To the extent that I have put my name in bold even on secret ballot and on unreciprocated love notes in college and university. The narcissist in me wants the world to know what I think and feel. Pardon me, therefore, anonymous I shall never be...
Friday, November 02, 2007
Thursday, November 01, 2007
For a dyslectic to get tagged for a Writing Meme is almost an honour. Let me begin by a humble ‘thank you’. Shreyasi, my friend, sees a lot more in people like me than she ought to.
Yes, I write from the heart, cause I don’t know where else to write from. Since my brain is impaired enough for me to never have scored even a modest C+ in Spelling. (I took a few hard knocks to get even ‘grammer’ right.) And this never amused my mother. Though the kind Mrs. Johnson, my elementary school teacher, had explained that dyslexia isn’t life threatening, to my mother I was as good as a cripple. And to add to her bouquet of misery, my hand writing continues to pain her. So while my brother’s grades and his school note books were displayed with pride at dinner parties at home, I was warned never ever to bring a guest near my study table.
So, if you want beauty read Sheyasi, if you want logic and common sense read Niladri, if you want to marry the two read Shefaly. Instead, if you are looking for impulsive, artless expressions that aren’t contained by english grammar, then maybe…
When to write?
At all time. Never let go of a passing thought as too trivial or too random or too scant. Hook the thought and write it out.
What to write?
Everything. Life is a celebration and at times of the bizarre kind. Aren’t we lucky we are able to express it in words and in thoughts? It could be the amazement of an unexpected sunset or could be the humdrum of an ordinary life. There is always something to write about in the exotic and the dreary.
Where to write?
Anywhere. Office when the boss isn’t around, home when the folks are busy with TV, airport when flights are delayed, coffee shop when there’s no company, internet cafe with the next guy surfing porn. Doesn’t matter.
How to write?
With a pen and a paper or as I prefer the word processor (note: my dyslexia can create havoc minus Spellcheck). It is usually just the thought and you. Don’t focus on words as much as the expression. Does it say what you feel? Even if it digresses from Wren and Martin stipulations? Is it honest?
Who to write for?
Yourself. If you want to write for an audience join a talk show.
Who gets tagged?
Rambler, a fellow impulsive blog writer, whose prose are honest expressions of being.
Dusty, for his dollops of good humour.
Rustyneurons, writes wonderfully…but currently in hiding for some reason.
Renovatio, for I am sure he wouldn’t write for the meme.
Wednesday, October 31, 2007
Monday, October 29, 2007
Saturday, October 27, 2007
First, after boarding the flight, we couldn’t take off. Some schmuck of a passenger got held up at the security check-in. So there we were tight as sardines (doesn’t help when you fly low fare airline!) waiting for an hour for ONE odd passenger to board.
The motley crew of co-passengers added to the predicament.
Next to me (thankfully I had the aisle seat) was a young American couple. The woman was dressed in the shorts that covered a little more than a bikini bottom and the man wore a cap big enough for both of them. They kissed and fondled approximately every 10 seconds (I am not kidding!). Now you may think how do I know unless I stared constantly? Hold on! I have manners. They kissed with dolby digital “muuuassshhh” and that’s how I know. And you can call me a party spoiler but trust me, it's very hard to keep one's eyes trained on the inflight magazine for over an hour!
Then there were the trio of men behind me. Men who bantered loudly and left their cell phones on highest ring-volume and didn’t switch off till the hassled flight attendant came over and insisted. Men who grabbed my seat from behind every 15 seconds in a desperate attempt to take pleasure from the khajuraho telecasted live from next door. Finally they got bored too and began discussing their plan to 'drink and make merry' (or did they say Mary?) now that they have managed to keep their respective wives at their respective homes. Then as the aircraft turned right to descent, one of them spurted loudly “Kya right mara, dekha!”
On the other side of the aisle sat an older couple. Michael Jackson-with-a-blonde-wig lady and the Stetson-clad gentleman held hands through out the flight. I thought it was very sweet. Then the lady wore her Jackie-O sunglasses while disembarking at Goa and I feared she would trip and fall since it was an late evening flight and it was pitch dark outside.
Then there were uncles who raced each other to the toilet as soon as they got in the aircraft and the mandatory wailing kid. Looks like every airline worth their milage points has to have atleast one of these wailers. Now, don’t get me wrong. I love kids. It’s their indifferent parents who bother me.
Getting off the plane I got into a cab whose driver is single handedly responsible for Mr. Mallya’s decision to change the Spykar team to Force India. To slow him down I said,
“Hello, I am not in a hurry!” To which he said,
“But I am.”
Thursday, October 25, 2007
How many of us are not familiar with the following image?
A gent in ‘safari’ suit (the hideous Indian concoction!), his mouth streaked red from a chewing paan, passing lewd innuendos at women when he is sure no ones watching him.
They seem to have permeated all our cities and towns with amazing resilience and will. You can just about visit anywhere and lo behold the above featured gent would be waiting to greet you at every murky corner. But I gravely fear for this genre of creatures. With them we shall lose an essential identity of our cities....so let's put our hands together for the 'Suffering Safari Seducers'!
Cars in Mumbai sport less scratches/dents than Bangalore despite the celebrated traffic overflow.
The above goes to prove:
Mumbai has better drivers. Which means,
A. Mumbai has better motor driving schools
B. Better trained traffic cops.
Buying Advaita Kala’s ‘Almost Single’ on an now-regretted impulse at the airport. I have to work on my natural instinct to empathize with ‘slayed-by-critics’ writer. This one is a ‘must avoid’.
Monday, October 22, 2007
Recently heard this amazing Chennai based music group 'Oikyotaan' who are in the contemporary folk music space, particularly influenced by folk forms from Bengal and Rajasthan. It was a treat to hear them and one can only love their attitude. Bonnie started the show by reminding the audience that they don't play requests and they don't play popular bollywood numbers but they are confident that the crowd would love it and they did!
The layers and textures of sound created were spellbinding. With no digital sounds the tonal range was awe-inspiring. The guitars blended well with thavil and the vocal with earthy passion....I for one am surely looking forward to their album release in December.
Thursday, October 18, 2007
I spent the evening with Cactus. It’s a popular bangla rock band who played in Bangalore for the first time. The venue was the Koramagala Durga Pujo.
The performance was good but the crowd was disappointing. Usually these shows warrant ‘standing only’ crowd, but last evening there was enough room for a hundred more. Anyway, Ro and Ma had a good time. It was touching to see Ma agreeing to stay for the whole stint and actually appreciating the boys for their energy. Ro remembered most of the numbers and sang along. He won my heart when they started playing the opening score of ‘We Will Rock you’ and he turned to me and asked,
“Why are they playing Queen?”
I haven’t consciously brought him up on a diet of rock bands. Honest. Much of my ‘listening’ these days happen in my car while alone. I consciously didn’t want to expose him to the limited genres that I listen to. But glad to note that he assimilates well :)
Sunday, October 14, 2007
Friday, October 12, 2007
While putting the old photoalbums back in the book shelf after the painting job, she flipped open one of them partly on impulse and partly out of curiosity. She had forgotten what images this one has stored. As she turned the pages, his face grinned back at her. Impishness shining in his eyes. There they were. Nearly two decades back. Back when she wore her hair pulled back in a severe plait that made her scalp go numb. When a camisole was enough for her modesty and a red-framed glasses helped her see better. And she was taller than most boys in her class. They had gone to the neighbourhood park which was their usual haunt on a Sunday afternoon. When the rest were busy feeding the fishes in the pond, she had sat down on the bench watching the clouds take familiar shapes. She loved doing this.
A sudden yank at her long plait had broken her reverie. It was him. While she was still grimacing from the sudden hard pull, he lifted the glasses sitting heavy on her small nose and hid it in his hands leaving dirty splotches on the lens. She had gotten angry.
“I wanted to see your eyes. They are beautiful” he had said before she could yell at him.
While she was getting ready to tussle with him for her glasses, in one sweep he had pulled away the pink plastic band that held her thick plait together. Still holding her glasses in the other hand he had run his fingers through her hair, tousling them gently till it framed her face.
“You are pretty” he had said looking intently.
A strange jolt ran from the tip of her hair to her toes. She had started to shiver. Wordlessly he had put his arms around her and held her close. With her head on his rapidly beating chest, she could feel the heat of his body.
“I feel funny” she had squeaked.
“I feel funny too” he had said, his voice quivering.
Thursday, October 11, 2007
For the last couple of days my home has become the hopeless temple of doom. The furniture has been disheveled and paintings torn down and the curtains stripped.
All in the effort of giving the walls a fresh coat of paint.
The icing, is that the painters speak ONLY Tamil and completely ignore my mother’s desperate appeal for sense in this chaotic madness. They go about their work with a sense of purposeful glee putting my mother’s years of good housekeeping in absolute disarray.
With the rising dust, there is also my father’s rising temper to deal with. His tolerance for ‘unsettling’ situation like this is zilch. So my poor mother is caught between the thumb-sticking painting crew who take deliberate pleasure in turning to dust my mother’s years of hard work and my father who is as agitated as a fizzy drink in a shaker.
As for me, I head home barricading myself with a rare stoicism and the determination to resurrect my abode once again from the heaps of rubble and paint-splotched dust.
But still I lust for a handsome painter who would sweep me off my feet and dust me away gently....sigh!
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
Most beautiful sunsets are usually also the most unexpected…it stuck me while staring out of my Jubilee Hills office window towards the Hitech City yesterday.
Where else will you find a 'Flyover Bakery', except for below a flyover? (Yes, it's there I swear!)
India wins matches when I am not watching.
Have you noticed that FAT is just one french fry...oops one line less than EAT?
Almost met the Andhra Chief Minister. Well almost. As his motorcade passed infront of my office delaying my trip back to the hotel by about an hour!
Though they have closed the Sparks in Bangalore sealing forever the last happy memories with bro....they still have it in Hyd...
Every smile is a new beginning.
I was never a fan of Rakhi Sawant. I don’t like sex bimbettes who shake their booties in front of one and sundry primarily because I don’t have that kind of booty to peddle in public or private and also because I like a little refinement and a certain degree of sophistication.
I still squirm inside a little when someone uses cuss words particularly in my native tongue. I have a visible grimace when someone spits or pees on the road or when men adjust their underwear and scratch their over-rated body part/s in public. Now you can call me naïve or stuck-up depending on where you are coming from, but it’s a genuine issue with me.
So from my limited exposure to Ms. Sawant, I wasn’t impressed. She has this crass, on-your-face attitude that I didn’t find too palatable.
However, to celebrate the arrival of a new TV in the house, I gave in to my mother’s desire of watching Naach Baliye 3 together. Now, I am completely not exposed to the NB 1 or 2 so I thought it would be interesting to watch. And as it was, it was Rakhi and her partner Abhishek’s turn to shake their stuff. The concept they pulled up was awesome, and that’s thanks to the choreographer. But the way she handled the post-dance review and spoof she made of Amitabh and Hema Malini was quite a treat. It was her completely unapologetic approach without crossing over to impudence that impressed me. All celebrities carry a lot of artifice. Specially the wannabe lot. It’s a part of their trade. But here is this woman talking about her impoverished background without an iota of guilt or even pride. On listening one wouldn’t feel sorry or ever want to patronize. It was so damn matter-of-fact and narrated as an enjoyable anecdote that one would smile rather than feel sorry. Usually we either use impoverishment as sympathy lever or wear them like a badge. In contrast, this approach was so refreshing.
Yes, I like her now. And yes, I am trying to get home on time on weekdays just to be able to catch her on NB 3. Cheers!
Friday, October 05, 2007
Wednesday, October 03, 2007
Yesterday was Gandhi Jayanti. As usual the State did its bit. Prayer meetings, discussion on Gandhi and his philosophy, book releases, launch of some poverty alleviation program or other. The politicians did their bit too. Churned out sound bytes and more sound bytes. Particularly Mr. Kumaraswamy, who refused to resign and facilitate transfer of power to the next government who are just dying to claim their 15 minutes of fame.
But how does all this affect us, the common people?
All liquor stores are shut and none of the restaurants serve alcohol, atleast officially. What usually happens is that the lovers-of-the-bottle stocks up enough to run Oktoberfest at home.
Personal experience: I had planned a japanese lunch with a friend at Harima. But lo behold! I reach their minimalist-designed sliding door, to find it shut. Unbelievingly, I tried to slide the door open only to notice a tiny sign stuck on the door in English and Japanese saying “In honour of Mahatma Gandhi’s birthday, we are closed for today”.
This was a surprise. I have worked in India’s booming ITeS/BPO industry and I know how we fail miserably to negotiate with our foreign clients to stop work on our national holidays. In my last organization, we had managed to get 15th August and Diwali as holidays for our people. But mostly, organizations work with shutters down and give free lunches and sops to dull the blow of working on a legitimate holiday.
Knowing the Japanese stickler for heritage and national sentiment, I should have been better prepared for the proverbial shut door.
Finally, we ate at a Mediterranean lounge–style restaurant located at the floor below, which served a decent buffet.
Monday, October 01, 2007
Have you heard the song Shopping by Barenaked Ladies (yeah, it’s a band!)? If you haven’t, don’t bother. It’s a pathetic song with an equally pathetic tune. But the lyrics....
…Well you know that it's going to be alright
When we go shopping
It's always lalalalala...
Shopping spree begin
It's always lalalalala...
And never stop
Until we drop…
Oh, I am a great believer and practitioner of Retail Therapy. Nothing gets me up from the blues quicker than a half-hour spent shopping. It could be for anything and it could be for anybody. Given that I am not particularly bigoted, I would buy the monthly grocery with as much enthusiasm as a wedding trousseau. Neither am I an overtly self centered shopper and therefore, when I am not working, I am most certainly running errands for my family and best friend who have entrusted their hopes and dreams (i.e. lists) with me (sometimes even via email). And I do this with a sense of purpose and pride. While it also goes to prove I have moderately good taste for folks to trust me with my judgment.
But I am a pretty impulsive shopper and that isn’t limited to stuff for myself. I have bought things for friends and family that I just happen to see on my way to somewhere else. Mostly it delights them but this impulsiveness is not without its downside. I am a sucker for shoes. On my mother’s last count, I came close to our Jaya Amma’s horde. To add to her misery, I am not very experimental. Which means there are pairs of shoes that look similar to each other and try as she might she isn’t able to fathom why one would buy shoes that look like true copies and the same design in three colours??? Now, the difference is only for the discerning, but who is going to tell her that. If that wasn’t enough, she also thinks I have way too many clothes than I would even need and she has put a deadline for me to donate 1/3 of my wardrobe before she lets me sneak in another set of clothing. Mothers!
But no such problems with the man in my life. I went shopping with Ro, yesterday. I realized men are absolute cuties till they grow up :) He was patient, enthusiastic and very encouraging. No complaints, no hanky panky and he loved everything I bought for him. I must remember to enjoy this now, for this bliss wouldn’t last for long. Before I know it, he would be asking for a debit card and instructing me to not bother with his shopping specially clothes. Till the ‘teenage devil’ takes over, let this mother be.
Well as to how I view shopping: It’s my own little contributing to this nation’s booming economy. Little yes, but every drop..oops rupee counts isn’t it? tralalala! Disclaimer: This is most definitely not an invitation to send your respective lists :)
Saturday, September 29, 2007
Thursday, September 27, 2007
Caution: Don't get fooled by the on-the-house cocktails on Ladies Nite! One drink called Barbie Doll (yeah!) had only watermellon (no not juice...but chunky pieces of it...!) and only a whiff of vodka. The other, is imaginatively called Tamarind Martini...for those who like their rasam with a hint of vodka. Strictly for the brave hearted south indian ladies!
P.S. It was a lovely evening....no smothering crowd, tasteful music, new age decor, polite service. One doesn't need conversations in a place like this. The place fills that need.
Monday, September 24, 2007
We won! Winning by the last thread of our collective underpants...but nevertheless we won. That's what matters...at the end. Unfortunate for the Pakistanis that their man-who-could-have-got-them-the-Cup got impatient and tried an absolutely ridiculous shot to get caught.
Winning the T20 World Cup doesn't excuse the Boys in Blue for not singing the National Anthem at the beginning of the final match. It was shameful that none of them even made an attempt. This is the World Cup and you are on national television representing your country in a match that's easily the 'clash of the subcontinent' and here you are not even trying to lip-sync with a song that represents your country's pride, honour and among other things, identity. One can't afford such gross indifference. Lets teach them the anthem, as it should be sung, before they go on the next tour.
Saturday, September 22, 2007
Sitting in an airport security check-in lounge, I realize how comfortable I am in strange yet oddly familiar hotel rooms, waking up in comfortable but unfamiliar beds, among unknown surroundings and the security of being a nobody.
The gypsy in me feels appreciated...finally.
Friday, September 21, 2007
Setting: Pouring sheets of rain
Red umbrella uncle (irritated): “Chippaakte kyun ho?”
Black windcheater uncle (surprised): “Kaye?”
RUU (raising his voice): “Bola na…duur hato!”
BWU (sniggering): “Kyun ladki ho kya? Bolte duur hato!” RUU (now shaking his dripping red umbrella): “Dhakka kyun diya?”
Thursday, September 20, 2007
I have lived here 10 years back. I was familiar with Bandra and Bandra alone, never felt the need to explore the rest of the city except for some much dreaded trips to Navi Mumbai...and some social visits to Lower Parel. The city sure has changed and how.
I am stunned to see Sakinaka change into a 8 lane concrete road with modern structures housing tech companies everywhere.
The airport's newly inaugurated terminal is totally cool!
The rain and the ensuing traffic mess still remains the same. Some comfort that :)
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
1. people who chatter noisily inside an aircraft with complete disregard for the mental health of the co-passengers.
2. people who don't listen to the inflight announcement for seatbelts and expect the flight attendant to come and request them personally.
3. taxidriver who refuses to ferry passengers stating the distance is too close. You can walk, he says!
4. mumbai rain. incessant and thoughtless. It clings to you like a stubborn stain that doesn't go even after several washes.
Tuesday, September 18, 2007
Saturday, September 15, 2007
Sunday, September 09, 2007
I visited the Mahindra Pride School, Pune as a part of our new sourcing strategy. In other words, I was looking at a fresh source of talent pool to feed our ever-growing need for people, who would be loyal and help reduce my turnover cost. I went in to evaluate a possibility but I came out transformed and amazed. I met Pruthvi, who at 19 has the responsibility of running her household. Bright and dazzling with confidence, she told me in marathi laced hindi “Mujhe kuch banna hai”. I met many others like her, who had dropped out of school mostly to support their families financially. What was striking was the way they said ‘HSC fail’ while talking about their academic achievements. With confidence and pride. Most of their peers, in their communities haven’t even seen the interiors of a school. Veenitha told me that she joined the 3 months hospitality course in the school, to build a career in the hotel industry, which will help her to bring up her five year old daughter. Widowed at 25, today she depends on her parents for support but has pawned her only pair of gold ear ring to pay for the conveyance to and fro the school. She said she chose hospitality since it’s a very respectable industry which surprised me since I have met IHM (Institute of Hotel Management) students who refused to pick up ‘jhoota’ plates from restaurant tables saying it’s demeaning. She also told me this is far more respectable than working as a domestic help that she has been before joining this course. The pride that reflected on her face at the opportunity of a better life was unadulterated.
I have worked with NGOs before, but mostly with relocation of refugees and the work had involved counseling and helping them to rebuild their lives. So depravation wasn’t new to me. What was new was so much positivism and hope concentrated within the modest walls of the school.
I have decided to work with them and help the faculty in chalking customized English language skill program that would get them ‘job ready’ quicker, since most of them have excellent communication skills. I must mention that they have excellent faculty members. I met the former Head of Training, WNS, who decided to give up a very successful but high stressed job to work with MPS.
The other amazing experience was the drive down Pune-Mumbai Expressway on a rainy mist covered day. As the bus curled through the Ghat section, the drenched lush slopes hugged the grey clouds that hung like a veil, trying to keep the ethereal nature out of prying eyes. The tunnels added to the mystery of the journey. This has to be the prettiest highway in India at least.
Tuesday, September 04, 2007
Yes my posts are getting dark and depressing and I run the risk of being written off as a tragedy specialist…coming to think of it is not such a bad idea after all!
Anyway, reading this on a friend's mail forward, one cannot help but wonder. There is this famous bengali movie, the title slips me at this point, where Aparna Sen tells Shoumitra Chaterjee who was her screen brother-in-law about her juvenile attempts for suicide probably expecting empathy in return but the brother-in-law nonchalantly tells her, puffing a long necked ciggie (oh all bengali heroes smokes)“Ohh, everyone tries to commit suicide at least once in their lives...good that you tried”.
So here’s mine. I flunked in Hindi (yes yes!) in the midterm exam in std. 7. Couldn’t tell Ma. Dying was a preferred option. Tried jumping off the terrace of our 3rd floor apartment. This terrace opened towards the backyard of the building and therefore ensured privacy. I stood there for over 5 minutes leaning over the edge, trying to find courage. I didn’t.
I couldn’t decide whether to wear my glasses for this once in a life time jump. If I did, I knew the shattered glasses would hurt and ruin my eyes if I happen to survive with broken bones. (something told me being crippled and blind was infinitely worse than being failed-in-hindi) If I took my glasses off, I couldn’t see a damn thing from the top and I wanted at least to be able to see where I was jumping.
Then Ma called. The game was over. I confessed. She assumed I was trembling out of the fear, guilt and humiliation. Till date I haven’t told her how close I was to losing it.
After, being through life and growing wiser I thank myself for holding back and being gutless. There are many of us who can’t. I pray and I hope for those who are on that brink. If I can lead someone away from that brink I would consider my life post the failed attempt, worthy of living.
Yesterday I came back to a city I never could love. The memories of it are filled with anxiety, overwhelming bitterness, pathetic disillusionment and an all time low in self esteem. To say I was wary of stepping in this city again would be an understatement. Plain truth is, this journey back here has been uncomfortable and the first day was filled with a sense of persecution. The memories clawing at my heels like a desperate stalker. From touch-down, I couldn't shake the feeling of being followed, being watched, being judged...
A day after, it feels much better. Though the night was disturbed with interrupted, disjointed and twisted dreams, the morning has cleared the unhappiness.
Circumstances may have changed and therefore the unhappiness quotient, but it’s not as easy to rework the memories. They surface with odd clarity at times they are least desired.
But through all of this, finally, I am coming to terms with a reality that has long eluded me.
Happiness and a sense of freedom.
Thursday, August 23, 2007
Tuesday, August 21, 2007
Niladri’s post opened up an ideological debate. I haven't seen the movie therefore I have nothing to comment on it yet.
However, I agree with him largely on the ill gotten and completely corny PR machine of the ‘mahatma’. Agreed he was human and he is allowed a mistake like all of us, but when that comes at the cost of life and livelihood of millions, I cannot absolve him of murder most foul.
My family belongs to the Noakhali’s Korpara Ray Choudhurys. An educated landed gentry who were members of the Indian National Congress and most importantly followers of Gandhiji’s beliefs. A family that foolishly hung on to their ‘bhitey’ in East Pakistan believing whatever that Gandhi said. A family whose men folk numbering sixteen including male children were beheaded in front of their women in their own country mansion, (where they had gathered to celebrate the durga pujo) which the ‘attackers’ had laid siege for over 72 hours before they burned the house and gained entry. The women were brutally raped and children thrown in the blazing fire. A few unmarried girls were abducted, of whose where about we do not know till date. Someone from the family met a lady a decade back who looked like one of those abducted girls but who now wears a burkha and refused to reveal her connection to this family out of guilt and shame of her fate.
My grandmother, who was a young girl at that time, and the rest of the remaining women and children escaped with the help of some of the muslim villagers who gave them food, burkhas to cover themselves and protection till they reached the border on foot and boat. According to the villagers the house burnt for three days after the mayhem.
According to my grandmother, the ‘attackers’ were all West Pakistanis. They were Pathans on horses and spoke no Bangla. The local muslim farmers had warned about their infiltrations and the threat of attack and same was informed to the then Congress leaders who in Gandhi’s behest asked the Ray Choudhurys and others to stay put and set an example for the scared fleeing mass.
A generation of widowed women and children who migrated to Kolkata with just the clothes on their backs and no money. Whatever little jewelry the women carried with them were used to house the children at various distant relatives and well wish wishers custody. A few suffered from dementia and most died tragically young.
Freedom is relative. But at what cost?
both my previous and current business cards have the colours red black and white.
both my previous and current organizations were funded by the same venture fund.
both my ex and current bosses are women and their names start with 'S'!
Yes, I am truly useless!
Monday, August 20, 2007
Monday, August 13, 2007
Oh well. Never mind me. My first day at work was a breeze.
Coffee is amazing! (what was I thinking?)
Today’s induction session was fun and these guys have got their act together. No waiting. No technical glitches.
No failures of any kind.
Had a productive long conversation with bosswoman.
Got invited for a surprise dinner at boss’s place since it’s her birthday.
Not so high points:
Met so many people that I guess I would need a month to match the faces with names.
The women are all SKINNY!! :(
Saturday, August 11, 2007
“It’s not goodbye…just a change in your email ID” said the note, decorated with a million ‘smileys’, on her desk. She smiled at the well-thought humor. She knew exactly how the day would pan out. She was infact, prepared for it. In the last four years she has experienced this a dozen times. Except, here she was the one leaving people she has shared ten plus hours a day with for the last four years. People she has worked closely with, people she has learnt and grown with, people who have praised, people who have mentored, people who have shared their wisdom, people who have inspired, people whom she respected, people whom she has never met, people she at times castigated, even people who have labeled her ‘aggressive’ in public and ‘bitch’ in private, have all been dealt with in the last three days. She has even managed to keep her irritation on being hugged and kissed by people she miserably disliked, well hidden.
She has always been uncomfortable with attention. It makes her nervous. She tries to look calm and stoic when showered with attention in public but inside she hopes to blend into the woodwork and get on with the work. This truth often surprises people who have known her for a while. Given the outward effervescence it’s a tad difficult to discern the truth at first.
To get on with the tale, she has been ‘taken’ out for lunch and dinner for the last couple of days by various people from different parts of the organization. She has enjoyed them but had managed to be part detached at all times. But today it was the time to lunch with her own team of twelve. A lunch that kept her peculiar preferences in mind. Italian spread that ended with an authentic ‘meetha paan’. (An amazing feat to get that served inside snooty Fiorano!) Despite her protests, she was heaped with a pile of gifts including her favourite yellow chrysanthemums! It was obvious that they had put a lot of effort in planning this. It was also obvious that they knew her well. The card said, “We are proud of you. You shine no matter where you go”. This touches her like nothing before. Overwhelmed, she managed to say just thank you. By the time lunch was done, she had given into the emotional foolishness of tears.
Yes, today was her last day at work. But as a close office pal said, every end is a new beginning.
The promotional literature and the earlier reviews did not prepare me for the myriad emotions I experienced through the 105 minutes and long after. The auditorium was packed and the crowd most discerning. Though the screen opened half an hour late, the riveting performance made the delay inconsequential.
Much has been written in its praise but for me this was a personal experience of the most intimate nature. More than the social, moral, cultural and political questions that the play raised, it was the human emotions that moved me. The play examines the complex father–daughter relationship and how the various circumstantial compulsions and decisions transforms that relationship based on respect and inspiration into hatred and self-loathing. A coming of age story of the violent kind. The violence both overt and covert is aimed at our ideology, personal beliefs, value-systems and cultural mores and therefore loathsome. It is also a story with a simple narration but complex interpretation. The emotions are multi-layered yet transparent. It talks about a woman’s struggle with her inspired belief and how that fails to prepare her for reality and finally her acceptence of the same. There are no real heroes in the story as each character carries multiple shades of grey just like in the real world. Finally, the play makes us reexamine our long established belief systems and there in lies its greatness.
I suspect some of the nuances would have been lost in translation but to the director's credit much of the emotional spew was allowed in its origianl Marathi which enriched the impression and leaves me longing for experiencing the play in its original language.
Tuesday, August 07, 2007
I started writing a comment on Sheyasi’s post but in no time it became a post!
First, I will leave the men out of this discussion and yes the last line of her post hit the nail on the head. From what I have experienced first hand, women 'suffer' more in the hands of same-gender individuals than anyone else. Dowry, bride burning, female foeticide…perpetrators are unfortunately almost always women. Who isn’t familiar with, supremely biased mothers who treat their sons better than the daughters, demonic mother-in-laws, jealous co-sisters, and the list can be endless. Yes, one can say it’s a question of empowerment, it’s a question of awareness, it’s a question of education, it’s a question of conditioning but it’s no wonder women all over the world are treated as second-class citizens (except pockets of tribal societies). Their participation in such heinous crimes against humanity/silent and implied support/non-resistance towards there continuity, have all pushed them to this abject condition.
Look around and you would meet women without exception, who are petty manipulators (including yours truly). I say petty cause though they manipulate with élan at micro (family) level, they mostly fail at the macro level because of their inability to look at the big picture (society) with women politicians as exceptions. They forget that what goes around comes around eventually. Why or what are we blaming the men for? We were born equal weren’t we? With our unique abilities that compliment? It’s a different matter that we never did anything about it and allowed ourselves to be branded ‘weak’ and therefore denied rights, which are natural to any human being.
Many applaud the idea of paradise to be an all women thingy. But I say, thank god for the men. Or else, our race would have been wiped out by paltry jealousies, misdirected and latent frustrations and selfish manipulations.
Ohhh! Didn’t I say I’ll leave the men out of it?
Monday, August 06, 2007
Friday, August 03, 2007
Yeah! This is MY day. Overcast with a sharp chill in the air that's so typically Bangalore and with hints of raindrops that bring a smile on my face. (Naah! can't think of living anywhere else!) Office has been a breeze. Easy conversations, an unhurried lunch and creative energy frothing. Made me notice that a song like 'It's a heartache' indeed has a perky beat (Apologies Bonnie...you din't make me cry this time!) My boss actually looked like he would miss me for a long time after I am gone. And a certain someone says I am needed tonight! Yippieee!
Baby....today is like slipping in a comfortable pair of dirty sneakers. Fits right, keeps you warm and lets you splash in a puddle without a care...
Thursday, August 02, 2007
Have you even wondered why we are always expected to go somewhere? Keep moving. Why? Why can’t we stop? Without a reason or even an answer.
How is it going, they ask. Well. I don’t want to go anywhere. I have only just arrived. I just want to ‘be’ and I don’t want to ’become’.
This story is about him, her and You. She loved him desperately. He loved her in his fashion. And You just let them be. One noisy evening he told her about his love. For someone else. She listened because she was happy for him. He told her because there wasn’t anyone else he could. He felt lighter and in love. She went home and wept. You smile knowingly.
Later, she found someone. To love. She told him since he was the only one she could. He listened because he was happy for her. But this time, You smirk.
Eventually, she was abandoned. And she could tell only him about her hurt since he was again the only one for her. Finally, he was abandoned too and she was once again the only one he could share his heartbreak with.
She hopes he would love her someday. He hopes he would win back the love that he lost, someday.
Naah! How can it end when You love playing Your favourite puppets?
Tuesday, July 24, 2007
Friday evening he walks into the TOI Response office and sees her. The most beautiful girl he has ever seen. She looks up.
“Oh! One more and I can leave”, she thinks.
He hands her the piece of written paper and the photograph.
“Obituary” he mumbles.
She is busy keying in the details.
“It will be printed tomorrow” she says without looking up.
“She is....was my grandmother” he says softly.
“I am sorry” she says and looks at the photograph.
“You resemble her” she says this time with a smile.
“Thanks” he says shyly.
“Bye and have a good weekend” she says while leaving.
He looks at the bill. Neha D is typed on the Received By box.
He thinks he will call her and ask for coffee tomorrow.
She by then was rushing to Tamanna to pick up her wedding lehenga.
Thursday, July 19, 2007
Everyone, at least in India has been ‘exposed’ to the story of Pooja Chauhan, a woman in her early twenties who shed her clothes (well almost!) in protest against Police inaction on her alleged long sufferings related predictably to dowry harassment and domestic abuse.
The news and the picture, in particular, have been sensational as has been the reactions.
“Her husband should be hanged!” said one enraged lady from Chennai.
“Shame on us!” screamed another from Hyderabad.
“What amazing courage…” exalted someone from Australia.
“I'm shocked that you published her picture. I just can't believe it!!!!” said a spoilt sport from Bangalore.
“Why bother! This is India! Nude protests in Manipur changed nothing. Lots of humanists and public liberty enthusiasts saw the pics and masturbated. You also put this news item because it sells!” said one frustrated soul from where else but Kolkata.
“This woman is a fraud. We must all raise our voice against the misuse of 498A by unscrupulous and shameless women like this. The Indian family is under great threat due to bogus laws like 498A.” pontified someone from Noida.
“I'm sure she is PROSTITUTE!” thundered a crusader for Man’s Right.
“Couldn’t she have at least matched her undergarments?" huffed one Page 3 beauty over a socialite encrusted lunch.
So what’s the latest? The papers said she was 'encouraged' to choose this form of protest by some of the local newspapers that promised to give ‘full coverage’ if she went out with ‘less coverage’. Irony? Plus her husband has alleged that she wasn't harassed at all and that she is of 'questionable morality' (how typically Indian!).
Now, the truth probably would never emerge in midst of allegations and counter allegations but what would surely happen is a full bodied (oops!) bollywood potboiler titled “Ander Ki Baat -The Inside Story" starring Pooja herself since her now widely published pictures have high recall. And I must say she is attractive. Sigh! Who would have cared so much for an unaesthetic middle-aged matron with cellulite, varicose and stretch marks?
Wednesday, July 18, 2007
On most mornings you would find one bleary-eyed mother trailing behind a chirpy 2nd standard boy all dressed up and ready for the day while she is busy fighting back sleep. Unlike the other mothers who are animatedly sharing the latest gossips of the school and the apartment, this mother is usually trying hard to stay awake. They try to include her in their conversations but she is too disoriented to contribute and makes do with a smile and a nod.
For the last three days, Ro has been the first to board the bus and the bus being practically empty he settles himself on the first row. As the rest of the kids get on the bus, one particular child insists that he wants the seat that Ro has taken and howls like a maniac refusing to sit down anywhere else and delaying the entire pick up schedule for the bus. The bus leader trying to manage the situation asks Ro to move on and find himself another seat. He obliges with patience. I have been watching from far this scene repeating itself for the third consecutive day this morning.
Today, I saw the child’s mother asking Ro to move from that seat so she could settle her brat without any ensuing ruckus. He does so but as the bus starts to leave I see the tears filling his eyes. Alarmed I wave at him. Through the window, he looks at me, his eyes full of hurt and swollen with injured pride. Ouch! Something sharp hurt inside. I ask the bus to stop and get on the bus to give him a hug. Drying his eyes he says,
“Why can’t you fight for me Mommy?”
Like a few occasions before in my life, I am beyond words. I hold him for a while kissing his now wet cheeks.
“I love you baby” is all I could squeak.
By then another girl, same age as Ro, calls him to sit with her and offers him her window seat. He smiles at her and goes and sits next to her. My little boy and his saviour start to chat immediately and the bus finally leaves and alls well.
But his question haunts. Did I do the right thing? Should I have confronted the offensive mother and got Ro his rightful place in the scheme of things? Am I failing him in a certain way? Am I teaching him the wrong values? I was aware that what they did to Ro was unfair. He is no different from the rest of the kids and this was definitely within his right. By not taking an aggressive stand, am I turning him into a wimp? I have always hoped that he learns to choose his battles and not fritter away his exceptional talent and spark on irrelevant issues. But…