Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Men and other fools..

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

Missed Congeniality?

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.

Sample these…

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

Catch 22 ?

Ro leaves for school in his school bus at unearthly 7.15 every morning, which means our week-days start at 6 with the sound of an alarm clock. Being a night person, I don’t savour these mornings for obvious reasons. His bus picks him up from the main entrance to our apartment complex along with a bunch of other kids.

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…

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Witch tales

Just finished reading Coelho's The Witch of Portobello. I am still just amazed. Some insights to the questions I have always asked myself. In a strange way I feel fulfilled. There's a little bit of 'witch' in all of us. Just that we don't often know how to reach her. And that life is as much the chaos within as the calm. That silence has words too.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Things You Were Afraid to Ask!

But I'm a creep
I'm a weirdo
What the hell am I doing here?
Now, there isn’t a doubt that I am all of the above and more, but Rambler tagged me to write the details…so here goes!

In order of severity :)

1. I call it a coincidence, but 99.9% of the times I walk under a streetlight it goes off and comes back on only after I have passed. It freaks people out when they see it happen multiple times. Spooky?

2. I always sleep on my side with one hand under the pillow and I wake up the same way.

3. I am unhealthily obsessed with my hair. I have enough hair products at home to run a chain of salons for over a year.

4. Through school, I hated my ‘nickname’ and forced my parents to call me by my ‘good name’ in front of my friends though it sounded really weird and at times I even forgot to respond.

5. I am extremely impulsive. I mean, I can take to another level all together. I had chopped off my waist length hair with a secateur when I was about ten, wanting to look like Princess Diana. The resultant mess frightened our maid into a fainting spell. (there, hair again!)

6. I still have my ‘teddy beddy’ from Kindergarten. It’s a ragged old bear that bore my onslaught over the years and I never let my Ma wash it. And yes it has a funny odor. But I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

7. I am very very stingy while lending out my books. All those reading this who have any number of my books under their esteemed possession, please return them a.s.a.p. You may not know this, but I do have a little diary where I have stored the details of the date it was lent to you, the expression on your face and the colour of your shirt etc.

8. Though I have studied economics of all things, I am a complete mess with money! If you work for Citibank, ICICI, HSBC and thinking of new ways of fleecing me let me warn you that I have no more money left in my bank to pay you guys. However, you can come back next year.

9. I am a hoarder. I have every scrap of written communication that I have received from people close to me. And I mean every piece. Letters, cards, gift tags, notes, slam books, scribbled shirts, doodles, emails, SMS…everything.

10. Ok, will stop here…this is getting to be a real long post! If you know me (and even if you don’t) feel free to add on.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Tail Tale

Ok, to understand the humour, you goto read the book The Long Tail by Chris Anderson. No, I am not telling you what it’s about…find out! And incase you have read it already, as I guess most would have, enjoy the humour!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Bongo Shhongo :)

Today, post work I took off to PVR to catch ‘The Bong Connection’. Like many times before, I watched it alone. Again, not for lack of company but more out of impulse. And after many such experiences, I like watching movies alone. Yes, you can call me selfish. I really cannot go through the rigmarole of planning and coordinating everyone’s schedules. Too many logistical issues to tackle. It used to be fun but back then a large part of the movie experience was the company. Not any more.
Today the theater was practically empty and for me it was an entirely enjoyable experience. No crying kids. No obscenely ringing cell phones. No hyperactive folks in front row. Infact, I had the entire row to myself, which in itself was a luxury.
Now, did I like the movie? Yes. Will I watch it again? Maybe. Will I watch it a third time? No.
What I liked:
Ensemble casting is very good. (It's a different matter that many veterans were wasted!)
Loved the music. Good stuff there.
Shyan is really cute and so is Peeya (and not because she shares my name!)
Humor is well timed.
SPE (Some Place Else for the uninitiated) brought a load of nostalgia.
The shot in Flurys made me hungry :)
The pace of the movie is good and doesn’t slag.
The ‘typical’ bangla-induced English accents....and there are many variants...trust me! :)
Room for improvement:
Param is stilted in some scenes.
Victor’s character is very uni-dimensional.
Mir’s character disappears abruptly.
Raima should get rid of those dreadful curls!
Dialogue I liked:
Shiela(Raima) tells Andy(Shyan), ‘Music er ki kono desh hoye naki…’ (Is music limited to a region) Andy says, ‘Haan hoye…’(Yes, it is) (Sorry. Tried translating, but realized it lost the essence of the meaning and without the context it is misleading)
And being a crossover film, about 70% of the dialogues are in English (all kinds of accents though!). Plus the bangla dialogues have subtitles. So go Enjoy!

Monday, July 09, 2007

ugly kid joe

Today is an all-important day for me. In many ways, today will define several aspects of my life to come. A tryst with destiny, if you may. Even my ‘Astrospeak’ said so! (chuckle) But such buoyancy didn’t prepare me for the unpleasant incident that marred my perfect morning. Walking out of my apartment lobby towards my parked car, I noticed the otherwise affable security shouting at a set of two boys, chasing them away. Caught in the metal spiel, I barely noticed the kids approaching me. As I passed them the elder of the two turned and before I could react, puckered his face and spat, nearly missing my just-pressed trousers and landing the spittle on my bare forearm. Splotch! Laughing loudly they ran off inside the lobby. I continued walking and opening the car door reached for the seldom-used box of tissues. Wiping my hand I gave myself room to react. First it was shock, then surprise and then came rage. If I had the time I would have chased them inside and boxed his ear till he squealed for mercy. But the thought of battling rush hour traffic calmed me instantly.

We may have put men on the moon, we may have wired the entire earth and we even have put silicon in the female anatomy, quite like the Olympic motto of Citius, Altius, Fortius, but if we have failed to teach our kids basic civility, we have failed miserably. I stay in a decent apartment block where the average annual salary of the residents might put a smaller African nation’s GDP to shame. Our block is filled with techies and management consultants, whom, at times I meet on my way out or in and these encounters never go beyond a courteous nod or a smile. The average age of the residents being mid 30s, not surprisingly our apartment is thronged with children of all ages. We even have an upscale crèche within our premises to aid the working parents. But with all this affluence aren’t we missing the basics?

Today’s kid may be an aberration. Most of the kids I know here, are my son’s friends and they appear to be well-behaved atleast on cursory glance. But I do hear from my son, stories of older kids bulling the younger ones and ‘gang’ rivalries etc. Left to their own device, by parents who work long hours, the kids grow up like bramble – unkempt and disregarded. Sporting the latest consumerist fad and spoilt to the hilt, little have they learnt of the values that were staple of our generation. We came back for a decade in Erlangen, Germany to come face to face with my grandfather’s simple principles of life and his austere living. Shedding the affluence we knew, we embraced his ideology and although the journey was difficult we yielded easily. But today’s kids, brought up on a diet of packaged food, instant gratification and disposable moral, where are they headed?

P.S. I have found the spitting kid’s flat number from the Security and intend to run the risk of having a conversation with his parents.

Sunday, July 08, 2007


She figured early in life that it wouldn’t be a cakewalk. Born to a family that had hoped for a boy wouldn’t give her a bed of roses to begin with. That, at least was assured. She came to know later that her grandmother didn’t even come to see her at the nursing home where she laid naked and a tad undernourished. Her other grandmother has cried hearing the news and lamented that this child would also have to suffer childbirth pangs that her daughter has just gone through. Yes, hers was a painfully long labour, but unfortunately she was too tiny and helpless to lessen the pain for her mother even if she willed it. Therefore her life began among cultivated and engineered acceptance from her family. In the beginning, she, of course was oblivious to it and greeted everyone irrespectively with a broad grin. Her early world revolved around her mother and growing up as a cherub toddler she won over her family comprising of several uncles and aunts and two sets of grandparents and an odd great grandmother thrown in.

Just when she was getting a chance at their exclusive affection and charming them with her congeniality, her world turned around once more. Along came a brother. A son, whose arrival was befittingly celebrated. Looking at the plump rosy face of the baby wrapped in a blue sheet with whispy golden brown ringlets around his face and two red dots for a mouth, she felt torn. And thus began the life long struggle to catch up and knowing she would never be good enough. The angelic infant grew to be a brilliant, gifted and utterly charming individual whose innocence would melt even the most hard-hearted. And of course she loved him. At times more than anything else. But there were days, not often but nevertheless there, when she felt oddly jealous. Of his brilliance, his charm and most of all his innocence. No one in this wide old earth was capable of anything but loving him. His name meant ‘infinite’ in Hindi and ‘highly-praised’ in Arabic and he lived up to both. She adored him and he looked towards her for sustenance. She became his counsel. She had, the ability to comfort, a pair of dependable shoulders and a head full of advice that stemmed from hard-learnt wisdom. She was the perfect foil for his oft-tormented brilliance. Nurturing it and basking in his reflected glory. He shared everything with her. From the coloured candy at childhood to sudden self doubts at various crossroads in his life. He was dependant and she felt elevated.

Then one day, at the peak of his brilliant young life, he decided to die. Taking the charade away from her. She was left once more, with nothing. Deprived even of a chance at ever catching up with him. At life or even at death.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Friday, July 06, 2007

Coming back to life

His absence in her life is now permanent. His silence, his indifference, his deceit are now routine. But she can’t forget those moments. Transient yet stark. How he would always call her when he listened to that song he knew she loved. How she had often required his undivided attention and he had always obliged. How in moments of passion she demanded and he provided. Little acts of kindness. They sear her soul. Some days she wishes these moments weren’t ever there. It would be so much easier to erase. On other days, she is glad for those moments. Proof of her ability to love another. For if not for those moments, she would have convinced herself that she was incapable of it. Finally, he hasn’t left her bitter. She hasn’t lost her faith in humankind. For that alone, she has forgiven him and that leaves her in a sense of peace.