Saturday, December 26, 2009

Christmas time...

This Christmas has been special. This year, Ro decided to grow up. I was part shocked and part pleased when he had told me last week that he hasn't made any wish nor is he expecting any gift this Christmas. To humour him, I asked why. To which he said Santa was for babies and the promise of gifts is to mislead gulible children into behaving well which isn't their natural disposition anyway. This infact was a ploy by parents to fool the poor children and he was sorry that he fell for it all these years. That settled he went off to decorate the tree.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

may it rain...

Today I wished for the rain from a few mornings ago. The sky had been a canopy of grey stretching endlessly and the rain fell in a soft spray, settling on my lashes, in tiny glistening beads. On his head, the infinitesimal dewy drops shimmered like liquid crystal. We had both turned up our faces and closed our eyes to feel the soft caress of the wet wind. Then we smiled. At each other. Secured in the knowledge that this moment was ours alone. The unusual morning rain prompted the others to scamper for the forgotten umbrella and pull their jackets a little tighter for warmth. The two of us, only had each other. He squeezed his hand in mine and we stood smiling till his bus arrived. When he left, I realized I was still smiling.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Paint the next phase of your life with the colours of your mind - says the prediction for the day. First, I am not a 'predictions' person. And I am hardly predictable considering my mood swings. However, this caught my attention. Yes, I would like to paint my life. A vivid shade of blue if possible please. But how the hell do I go about it? Buy paint as a friend would advise. But something tells me it isn't that simple. Right?

Friday, November 27, 2009

Two things struck me yesterday. First, was a call from a girl who I knew was getting married last evening. The circumstances have panned out such that, bound by protocol, she was unable to invite me for her wedding. Over the last few years, despite her family’s disapproval, she has stood by my side. I completely understand her predicament and had earlier assured her to not get worked up over such trivialities and concentrate on her upcoming wedding. What I had not expected was for her to call me, just before she was to enter the ‘mandap’, to apologise for not being able to invite me and to take my blessings before the auspicious occasion. What is more, she made her groom, to say hello and invited me to their home in Hyderabad where they will be moving soon. From where I stand, she doesn’t have anything to gain by persistently maintaining cordiality with me. A few years back, when the certain family was talking ill about me and making me sound like the lowest scum of the earth, she had on her own, called me to say that she doesn’t believe a thing the others were saying and that I had taken the right decision to walk away. After last evening’s call was done, I was thinking, she must have liked something in me for her to consider me this important because I cannot remember doing anything significant for her ever. I wouldn’t have held it against her ever, if she had not called. Infact, it never even crossed my mind. It affirms my belief that I would rather live with a handful of people who have faith in me, than to live by trying to appease the whole wide world.

The second instance was while watching a movie last night. Michael Douglas tells a young Mathew McConaughey - the power in a relationship lies with the one who cares less. I have been thinking on this ever since and my entire cleverly constructed stance on relationships cracked through the middle. I do believe that the power of a relationship is love. A love that is deep, intense and unselfish. A love that is tempered with understanding, respect and faith in the other person. I believe I am not built for moderation where love is concerned. So this caring more or less doesn’t make sense to me. But it would be untrue to say I have never wondered at times of heartbreak, whether if I could have cared less, I would feel less pain and whether then I could have moved on with more ease. Then again, I would rather love once. And with everything I have. Sigh!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

a suitable boy :)

Ro is participating in a dance program on national integration at his school. So the morning was chaotic with getting the dhoti tied with a cord et al!Then combling his unruly hair in place...things a mother has to do. Smile. But all worth it at the day's end. So I sent him off with a prayer that the dhoti stays in place till the dance is done with. A very suitable boy I must say....touch wood!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

flashback alert!

It's been raining since last night in Bangalore. I woke up with a haze outside my window, only to realize that a sheet of rain has wrapped the city stretching till the far horizon. I smiled and snuggled deeper into the comforter. In my mind I was back to early 80s Kolkata. One year, my school had shut down for a good whole week cause of floods. We were allowed in, only after the entire building had been disinfected and all the rooms had a fresh coat of paint. We spent the entire week at home, making paper boats and floating them on the muddy stream that used to be our street. It didn't bother us one bit that if the water didn't receed soon, we may have nothing to eat at home since the shops were flooded and provisions were running low despite my mother's obsessive hoaring tendency. We were excited seeing the swollen leeches that stuck to Romeshkaka's feet who was our manfriday and who had ventured out, wading through waist-deep water to search for provisions. We raced eachother to fetch the salt which when sprinkled on the leeches left them wriggling on the floor.

Earlier that year, I had pestered Ma to buy me a red raincoat. Yes, red. Like Red Riding Hood. I used to have a red woollen coat with a cape back when we lived abroad but my mother gave that away when we moved back, knowing I would never need that in Kolkata. So I pouted endlessly to get a raincoat of the same colour. My brother had one with a weird green pattern. We used to wear our raincoat like a cape and prance around in our open terrace pretending to be superhuman. Till the raincoats tore during one of our most daring adventures. Ma was furious ofcourse and we didn't speak of another raincoat again and made do with my grandfather's black umbrella that looked like a sulking wet vulture.

Still fuzzy from the reminiscence, I was woken up rudely by Ma's voice. It is a Tuesday morning and life as we know, has to be orderly and organized. Sigh!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

blackhole sun....

I am dying. I am closer to the end with every passing day. A million cells die inside me everyday and fewer and fewer regenerate everytime. But that doesnt worry me much. I have seen death from close quarters. Old people and young. People I thought I couldn't live without. People I hardly knew. People who mattered and people who didn't. In many ways I have seen it all.
But what I fear is that something in me has died already. My ability to feel happiness. My ability to be content with myself. My ability to find that inner peace that has been my guiding force all my life through personal hell at various crossroads of life. Through displaced childhood, fractured youth, misunderstood desires, serial dissappointments and unfullfilled expectations. All I have had is myself to hold on to. That calmness inside, I believed nothing could touch or destroy. But suddenly, after all this time, there is a void. A vast emptiness that is all new and radically unpleasant. A cessation of feelings. An emotional blackhole. It is sucking away the vestiges of my innards. Every emotion I have known seems to be collapsing inwards into this terrible endless recess. Is this therefore the end of me?

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

random images...

The full moon morning captured from my window @ 6.10AM on 4th Nov 09 A malaylam film shoot in progress captured from my office @11AM on 29th Oct 09

Monday, November 09, 2009

some of the things I did this weekend:

Took a long bus ride

Walked in the rain

Painted my nails a bright pink

Wore toe rings with dancing dolphins

Ate guavas without washing

Watched the sea change colours

Stayed awake till wee hours in the morning

Been with someone without feeling any need to talk

Ate dark chocolate after dinner

Had croissant and coffee for breakfast

Shared an umbrella

Slept in a four poster bed

Hugged a friend

Splashed in a bathtub

Tasted raindrops

Gifted a dreamcatcher

Not bothered about how I look

Held hand while crossing a street

Drank tea from a dingy teastall

Listened to a windchime

Got distracted while reading a book

Friday, October 30, 2009

of bigots and senselessness

Something happened recently that left me miffed enough to get vengeful. I had met a woman recently and heard a whole lot about her from someone very close to me. The setup was a matrimonial match. Someone known to both of them got them together assuming they were well suited for each other to spend the rest of their lives together. Things were going fine. They wined and dined and she dropped enough hints to make him believe there was real interest and it was heading towards something pleasant. He even got her to meet his parents and family to make her comfortable. I know his parents and they are one of the warmest people I have met ever. For him it was clear. She was the one. She was soft spoken, gentle and well mannered. He ignored her frumpy hair and found her childish voice endearing even when she did not ‘get’ most of his jokes. She loved the attention he bestowed and confessed to liking him. I met both of them for an informal dinner assuming we could have a good time. And indeed it was a good time. More than anything, he enjoyed her company and that was evident. She liked him too assuming one doesn’t cuddle up and kiss someone without instigation, if one doesn’t like that someone. He opened his heart to her. His fears, his shortcomings and his modest expectations. To cut the long story short, they were seeing each other and since they met in a matrimonial setup, it was understood that it was heading that way. Sooner or later. But she seemed to have a wild reservation about someone in his distant family because of some past experience. He offered to clear the air. But she wouldn’t let him. So while she hemmed and hawed, he waited patiently for her to say something definitive. And then came the bummer. She told him that though she liked him in a way, his family was not good enough for her. This, from someone whose own mangalorean catholic family isn’t anything that would have impressed the gentry. Her vanity seems to be centered solely around the family her elder sister is married to. A bengali brahmin family. Evidently cultured, well educated and highbrowed. Without batting an eyelid, she told him about the who’s who, who attended her sister’s wedding and how his family would never match up. When he asked how her sister’s in-laws is her family, she ignored the question. At thirty one, she wasn’t a teenager who was still looking at the world with immature personal values. Then she spoke of mismatch in social class. We have all been brought up with certain set of values. One of them was never to dismiss someone because of pseudo social standing. Even more, never to insult someone’s family based on social standing. If one is well brought up and from a ‘cultured’ family, one would never take a dig at someone else’s social background. That is something one never did. Never. I am happy that he has called it a day and told her for what she really was. A bigot confused with her own identity. Evidently, there is very little to love in someone who considers it infra dig to speak in her own tongue and takes pride in not knowing the language of her forefathers. It’s a shame. Really. I have always disliked people who live with such offensive values. In my right mind, I would never share a meal with someone holding this creed nor socialize with them or get them near my children. All I can wish for, is for them to disappear. So I tell my friend, thank your stars. You got saved by a whisker.

being bong

My baby’s growing up. In another step closer to become the quintessential bong boy, he got a new pair of glasses. His very first. A bong gentry is rather naked without his ubiquitous glasses that exclaim his identity even before he spills his name. As bongs have believed for ages – weak eyes are a direct result of a bigger and better nourished brain. And in their endeavour to nourish that prized organ, all bong mothers have for time in memorial, fed (often force fed) their children with fish and particularly fish head that is believed to be the ultimate aphrodisiac of the brain. I did ask my grandmom once about the scientific evidence since to me, fishes did not appear to be particularly smart specially since they got themselves hoodwinked by a dead worm at the end of the fishing rod! I was met with a stoic expression and a sacred spiel about how some things are not apparent in the cosmic scale of things but only experienced. When I still looked sceptical, she cited examples of noted men and women from my predecessors spanning nothing less than ten generations, who went about and ‘ruled’ the world with only the power of their grey cells. And yes, they were all ardent fish eaters who didn’t even leave the bones on the plate to feed the family cat. It is believed that every part of the fish has some specific benefits to the bong physiology which were explained patiently. And fresher the fish better is the efficacy. Then began the lament of how we do not get fish as fresh or as potent as we used to in the earlier generations and therefore the dilution in genetic stock. Dilution to the point that a much-loved granddaughter actually questions the efficacy of our sacred fish? Faced with this kind of conviction, one doesn’t really insist of checking facts and gulps down the biggish piece of fish that has been staring at one for a while. Head, eyes, tail and all. So much so that a bong is nothing minus his ‘phish’ fetish and a bong who doesn’t go orgasmic about his ‘phish’ is promptly ostracized at all community gatherings. It appears if the world was ruled by bongs, we would be trading in ‘phish’ and not bullion. Ask any self respecting bong and he or she will easily tell you the daily market prices of his favourite fish across the country and even across the major US cities. (in dollars of course!). So one lesson for the lesser mortals is to never, I say never, challenge a bong on his ‘phish quotient’. I have heard from confirmed sources that when the tech world first encountered social engineering in form of ‘phishing’, an upright bong gentleman was ready to sue the person responsible for the christening. We would go to any length (and breadth) to protect and fight for the bong pride. Is it not enough that the rest of the country often crinkle their noses while calling bongs ‘phishy’? Do we have to now have to share our identity with fools who are hell bent on making fools of others? But after a heated debate (bongs never fight, they debate – with logic and passion or logical passion or errr passionate logic!) the bong community decided that the right strategy to react to the phishing scams would be by churning out even more bong techies who have infiltrated various parts of the globe in order to bring the guilty to the books and end the menace. This is how the genteel civilized bongs deal with an insult so deeply inflicted to his soul. Just proves how constructive we are. Right?

Saturday, October 24, 2009

the demon

I don’t know anymore what is it that I am feeling. Or if I am feeling anything at all. I have had a reasonably good week. Not worked hard (hell I am not ashamed to admit!) and been out with friends most days of a week than I have ever been earlier. I have a well brought up child and tolerant parents. I should be happy. Ecstatic infact. But I am feeling an emptiness that claws my inners every waking hour. It shakes me awake at night and leaves me with a dull ache in the chest. For most parts I don’t know why. Failure to response to positive stimuli. Is this called reduction of feeling?

Friday, October 23, 2009

day's end

It was mid week. A Wednesday. There were many things about the week that was stressing them both and the two best friends decide to meet up in a long forgotten watering hole. The place has the hypnotic name of ‘Maya’ and she likes sitting next to the huge aquarium where the starfish always seemed to slither closer to her. He reaches early and waits for her to walk down from her place of work. One of the things that make him her best buddy is that he never cribs about waiting. He claims it comes with practice. It has only been a rare occasion that he has had to wait for her. They saunter in, take the elevator that is surprisingly empty and reach the 3rd floor. They didn’t even have to step out of the elevator to realize something was out of place. The floor was eerily dark. As they hesitate to step out a young boy emerges literally from the woodwork and enters through the open elevator door. When asked, he shakes his head indicating that Maya has died an unnatural death and he has no idea if it has moved some place else. She sighs and tells him, all because we didn’t patronize it like before. Back on the street again, they decide to go to 13th Floor, another watering hole not far from their first choice. As they walk down, she tells him how she twisted her ankle while walking down earlier, as she was watching a man with a torch walking on top of the under-construction flyover. He comments that it is so typical of her to do that. Watch unnecessary things and miss the obvious and the immediate. She rolls her eyes. They debate whether to join some other people known only to him, who were gathering at another drinking joint. Somewhere the debate didn’t go far and they entered the elevator and zipped to 13th Floor on the13th floor. They decide to sit outside in the open air deck with city lights twinkling somewhere below. The crescent moon, the burning Venus and chilled beer can spell magic on any mortal. They got talking. No there is no story there. They are both adults at an unfamiliar crossroad in their lives which is clouded with self doubt, dwindling aspiration and myriad mindlessness. He spoke. She listened. No she never stops at listening. She advised. She admonished. With him, her concern always overtakes good sense. He listened, trying to argue feebly. The beer rushed to her head and it was getting late. They decide to call it a day. A friend of hers messaged to let her know she’s in town. She calls back and plans to meet up the next day. He drops her home and takes the long ride back. Another day ends in their city.

Friday, October 02, 2009

after the hills it was the sea...

The devil and the deep blue sea....and not to miss the candooling couple braving the scorching sun!
the frangipani @ Villa Bayoud
Villa Bayoud @ Pondicherry
Villa Bayoud courtyard
A gourmet patisserie
Creepy snake @ Baker Street...but it's harmless dough!
It's a turtle...made of dough again!
Our room @ Villa Bayoud - Legend has it that Mother stayed in the same room when she first came to Pondicherry. This 300 years villa is now a heritage hotel.
Rue Francois Martin - around the corner of the Governor's House
The deserted Beach Road at 7AM

Thursday, October 01, 2009

reliving Coonoor - photo montage....

I wrote about the blue hills here and as pictures paint a thousand words so here goes....

Our destination....

The guesthouse!

The Coonoor valley....

Uncle and Aunty....completely in love with each other!!

The tea garden

Way to the guesthouse....

Is this the end of the world???

misty....!!

The clouds hugging the hills

Evening mist..

Yeah... they left me here...alone and lonely...(sniff!) while I was taking the previous shots!!!

The road that led to near annihilation! Some nincompoop told us this path leads to a graveyard and the rest is history...

This one is for SimplyMarry.com...aww our Mr.Dee is shy! Enquiries welcome :-)

On our way back...the puncture shop...(spot the missing wheel!) and they are shiny alloy ones...it's heart breaking to watch them getting mauled!

But you goto learn to say goodbye....

Sunday, September 27, 2009

faux pas @ pondy

It was close to 3 in the afternoon. Two women in a car with a crazy chauffeur who claims to have changed his name recently. The place is near Beach Road, Pondicherry. The women are increasingly getting excited since the chauffeur is making no effort to ask for direction to their hotel. The streets aren't exactly crowded with 40C outside. They seem to be going in circles. Finally, one of the women spots a living soul on the side of the road. An old man completely engrossed in cleaning his fingernails. On her insistence the car screeches to a halt. Hell, she can do this...this is her car. The tinted window rolls down. She peers out and smiles at the old man on the road.
"Rue Saint Martin?" Her accent distinctly french.
"Eeehh?"
"Rue Saint Martin?" she repeats loudly.
"Whaaat? Money exchange??" he asks with enthusiasm.
The woman turns red on the face. The other woman smiles and waves a thank you to the man before collapsing on the car seat. Both woman giggle hysterically leaving the madcap chauffeur perplexed.
Last heard one woman telling the other "Sweetie the French left loong ago, remember!"

Friday, September 18, 2009

of men

I rode an autorickshaw to work today. I thanked my luck when the first autorickshaw in sight agreed. Usually they dismiss me with such utter disdain that it completely erodes my self esteem, no less! So I hop in with delight and that delight doesn’t last long. The vehicle jerks off (yeah literally!) a few times, coughing black fumes and shudders and shakes. Then it moves forward. Slowly. And it keeps moving slowly, never going beyond 20kmph. The driver is an old man and he hums happily as I frantically look outside for hope. Maybe, just maybe, we are actually moving fast enough and I am not able to sense it. Speed is relative, right. So maybe the other vehicles are on turbo speed and hence zipping past in a flash. Then, the Wipro chappie from my apartment whizzes ahead on his bicycle. Yes, bicycle. No, this can’t be happening to me. I beg the old man to speed up but he gives me an injured look and says, ‘Whaaat madam…I am 74 years and you are asking me to speed!’ WTF? I am not asking you to run the marathon old man. Now, surely the rickshaw isn’t that old. I bite my lips. This feels like a toy train ride on the mountain rail to Darjeeling except I am not on a holiday and I have a meeting in 15 minutes. But it would have been good if the torment ended there.
While we stop at the Silk Board signal, Wipro chappie is right next to my rickshaw. He grins and pipes in, ‘May be you should come with me….’ Look fellow, bugger off ok. Just because I smile at you on the elevator doesn’t mean I am going to jump out and squeeze myself on the narrow crossbar of your cycle ok, even if I were to be slim enough to fit there. Listen, my-knight-in-neon-helmet, yours maybe a geared ATB, but it is no steed ok. So, vamoosh! What’s wrong with mankind this morning? And I mean man-kind. All I have is a pasted smile on my face. But Wipro chappie is relentless. ‘You work around MGs right?’ I nod. ‘Oh, it’s going to take a while for you to reach’ Thanks pal. Like I wouldn’t have known at all if it wasn’t for your brilliant insight.
Finally, oh finally, the lights turn green. Wipro chappie waves off with, ‘Bye, see you back home.’ Home? Yeah, like hell we will. May be I will figure out a way to let the air off your tyres eh. Don’t mess with me.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

the time of my life

Do you feel this way? That a tiny part of you dying when you hear someone who had inspired you when you were young, died? I do not do condolence posts. But when I heard Patrick Swayze died yesterday, I felt I lost something precious from my youth. Over the years I have watched a few of his movies, can’t claim to be fan though. But it is Johnny Castle that’s embedded in my heart. I remember watching Dirty Dancing on a smuggled video tape in 1987, at a friend’s place. Agog and spellbound, Ruma and I watched him without speaking. We would have forgotten to breathe too, if it wasn’t for all the sniffling. We rewound the whole tape and watched it again back to back. For a gawky, bespectacled 15 year-old tom boy, Johnny became God. Till I met him I was convinced that I would never 'want' a man. Of course, the boys I knew, never considered me worthy of romantic attention since I was ‘one of them’. I was ‘eunached’ between a nerd and a tom boy. No tits, short hair, tanned brown with all the outdoorsy activities and better at hockey than the average Joe, wasn’t their definition of a wet-dream-woman. Therefore I never got torn chits filled with romantic notions nor chocolates or roses. I was the ‘un-girl’ they would watch a match with where they could swear and cuss, belch and fart to their heart’s content. I was the one nursing their bruised knees and broken hearts while they lusted after the ungodly creatures called PYTs. So Johnny was my first and only crush in high school. I fell head over heels in love like I have never known before. I took serious interest in dance which surprised Ma since till then I had to be coerced to attend the classical dance classes that all good bengalee girls must take. I told Ma, I wanted to grow my hair long, which pleased her enormously. Then I got myself a video tape of the movie and played it endlessly at home when no one was around and danced till my limbs were sore. To me, Johnny was what my man should be. Older and rugged with a sweet searing passion. And in being so, Johnny made me a woman. Till date, I get goose bumps whenever I hear the Dirty Dancing tracks. And now he is gone forever and along with it the first flush of my youth. Sigh!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Dear Bro
This is to let you know that all of us are getting on with our lives and managing somehow. It’s been 5 years today. And finally, I think we are beginning to cope. I did catch Ma crying silently in the kitchen and trying desperately to hide it from the rest of us. Baba doesn’t talk as much as he used to. He made a brave effort to hide behind the newspaper this morning to avoid any talk. We tried to be as normal with each other today morning when I left for work. Ma made your favourite ‘kolkata noodles’ for breakfast. The one she always used to make for us back when we were kids, with lots of onions and eggs. Ro loves it too. We never discussed you. I will go back home this evening and I am sure we wouldn’t talk about you at all. Except for the garland of jasmine, there is no trace in the house of how much we miss you.
Last week, Ma asked me to pack up your coding books in a box over the weekend. For the last 5 years they have been in your bookcase and I hadn’t had the heart to suggest we pack those up and donate them. She suggested donating last week but Baba said the technology has changed so much that the books will be redundant. I think somewhere deep inside we are still refusing to let go. We have donated one of your computers to the blind school where we sponsor a meal on your birthday. The other one is still lying in your room and occasionally used by Ro for playing games. But I think we will have to give that away too soon because the configuration is too old. Your wardrobe now houses Ro’s clothes and toys. He didn’t want me to give away your fluorescent green windcheater. He says he will like to wear it when he grows up. Ugh! Such taste! Grin. He is also eying your black electric guitar and your tennis racquet. He was trying out your Nike the other day (the one that Baba had bought for you and which you hardly wore). He still has a long way to go to fit in those shoes but he is trying earnestly. Just so that you know.
This year the Pujo is in September instead of October just like the year you went away. Ro’s got a whole set of new clothes and is very excited about them. I bought a saree for Ma from Chennai last month. She never buys anything for herself since you left. Says she has enough. I am desperately trying to fill the empty hole you left in their lives. I am not doing it too well as you can see. They still miss you as much. Though they consciously try not to make it obvious. I miss you too, you know. But I haven’t still had the time to grieve. Since you left, my life went through several cart-wheels that left me breathless and distracted. I still feel you are always there, right around the corner and if I really call out, you will be here instantly. Just that maybe I don’t call you loud enough. I guess I will grieve at my own pace. Maybe I will never grieve. Because you never really left me. But I miss you. Your amazing voice. The strumming of your guitar. The sight of you sleeping like a baby in the morning. Our conversations that made no sense to anyone other than ourselves. Your broad shoulders to cry on. The assurance of always having you around because you worked from home. Your ability to make me laugh.
Ok, I goto run now before the tears turn into torrents. I too have million things to finish before I pack up for home. You keep smiling. And please please help us to cope.
Thanks
Di

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

born to be wild!

I did something that I hadn’t done for a long while and honestly, it feels so gooood! Yeah! I bunked work, packed my bags, said bye to parents and child and took off to the hills with of course two friends for company. It all started on a Saturday drinking session at Indijoes. That’s where the idea spurted and over happy-hour beer and steak, we decided to take off to Coonoor. So there we were on M G Road, wrapped up in shawls on a cold windy Bangalore morning, huddled up in Dee’s car, frizzling with excitement like the first school picnic where you got to sit with your best friend in the bus. In anticipation, I slept fitfully through the previous night making endless lists in my head of millions of things that I might have forgotten to pack. I don’t remember being this excited since I went for a college picnic. (ahem!)

Since Dee had to be woken up from bed, (yes sir!) while we waited on M G Road, we didn’t start at the time we intended to. Therefore got caught in city traffic, till we reached the highway. The drive went on with the first stop at Maddur MTR where we stuffed ourselves for breakfast. We continued peacefully till Mysore where we decide to take a ‘never-before-taken’ Ring Road, bypassing the city. For once, the road sign led us to the right path and despite our skepticism and doubts we reached Ooty Road well on schedule. The drive through Bandipur and Madhumalai was beautiful. At one spot where the road narrowed down, we met a herd of elephants. Majestic creatures that they are can look quite threatening up close. We saw a host of monkeys skipping about by the side of the road and looking out for open car windows to hop in and scavenge for food.

The 36 hairpin bends to Ooty took a little effort and encouragement. Grin. Dee had apprehensions and we bribed him with a promise of a sexy back massage when we reach Coonoor. He did not know then, that a far scarier drive awaited him on the slopes of Coonoor. We did the bends, Dee gripping the wheel and Rach and me, muttering a prayer under our breaths. We counted each one of the bends and like a trained parrot I kept reminding Dee to honk before climbing each bend. I got teased amply for it later. Next stop was lunch at Nahars in Ooty. We reach there after some drama of reversing on a downward slope with Dee losing his cool for a bit. It started raining softly by then and we managed to move inside the restaurant where all unoccupied tables were waiting to be cleared of the earlier order. I wisely stuck to a South Indian thali while Rach and Dee took their chances on naan and aloo methi. What arrived though was boiled aloo sprinkled with fried methi leaves. Rach promptly christened it Crackling Methi but i goto admit, we felt better with food in our tummy. At Nahars we met Rach’s aunt and uncle. They live in Coonoor and were having lunch with their guests. In fact Rach’s uncle was instrumental to booking the guesthouse where we were to stay. After direction to guesthouse was drawn up on a paper napkin, we hurried off to Coonoor. We landed there only to realize there was another family staying there aswell. No problem we thought. We got the booze baby. The booze turned out to be an awful concoction called Vanilla Vodka. God bless the state of Tamilnadu where government-controlled wine stores leave no choice for the customer. So while the youngest of the other family hogged the TV watching cartoons, we made merry playing Pictionary. Oh! The squiggles caused laugh riots and I have preserved them for posterity. After dinner we sat around the porch listening to the rain and enjoying the strangeness of a mountain night. Day 1 ended with Dee thinking he heard croaking toads while Rach and I were sure they were crickets!

Day 2 began easy and slow. Rach and I lazed around in the garden talking mostly about Kolkata and food (yes, the too are intimately connected!). It’s so de-stressing to not have any pre-designed agenda on a holiday! The other family had left by mid morning so we hung around watching TV till late afternoon and working out the plan for the night’s binging. The caretaker Ramu was roped in to arrange for beer (any brand boss! Just get it!) and a pack of cards since Dee wanted to learn ‘teen patti’ (an Indian variant of the card game Flash). So while Ramu went about the arrangements, we ordered in lunch from Orchid Square. After lunch we pestered Dee to take us shopping – the usual knick knacks. Dee and I managed to fill the car with utterly useless things like a set of needles (my idea) to be gifted to our moms. We bought locally produced cheese and honey and Dee picked up hemp shirts for himself and bro on Rach’s suggestion. He also managed to twist his back while trying to open a display drawer in one of the shops. However, a stiffened back never stopped him from surveying the chick scene. Such a braveheart! In a split second, he claimed to have made lingering eye contact (no less!) with a pretty lady who zipped past in a Scorpio. Rach and I thought of debating the improbability, however, we never argue with a man who takes women shopping with very little persuasion.

On our way back, we dropped in at Rach’s uncle’s home. An eco-friendly home with a real fireplace and a pretty garden. Ashok uncle and Malu aunty is the most amazing couple I have ever met. The kind that make me wish for a warm pair of arms hugging me every morning. The kind that make me wish for someone to grow old with. mmmm. They filled the room with scintillating conversation that meandered from book reviews of one of their friends to their close encounter with a bigcat. Aunty gave us roses from her garden. A hitherto unprecedented act according to Rach, since Aunty is so passionate about her garden. However, Dee got a full-bloomed big pink rose, the prettiest of the lot! It will suffice to say Dee never lets go of a chance to pour his charm in generous measures. Enthused by their stories, we decided to venture out and drive around to the jungle. The scenery was breathtaking with the blue green mountains suddenly veiled by wispy shroud of grey clouds. The sun was setting and lights were fading fast. We decided to head for the guesthouse. But such was not to be. Rach mentioned an interesting cemetery and I suggested we take a look. Which led us to a road with no humanity in sight. On the way we stopped at the gate of Mansoor Khan’s (Amir Khan’s uncle) sprawling bungalow. The adventure ended abruptly a little further as the road constricted and we found ourselves stuck on a narrow ledge that doubled as a footpath barely wide enough for the car and hugging the steep mountain slope with nothing but tea bushes for company. We couldn’t move forward as there was no road in sight. The only option was to reverse the car. Reverse? Here? Rach and I got off the car to help Dee with 'navigation'. We tried reversing for a while with the front wheel narrowly missing the outer edge by a few inches on more than one occasion. This side is a 6000 ft sheer drop and the other a rockface bristling with thorny bushes. Our cellphones showed no signal. We were cut off from civilization and the jungles are known for bigcats and snakes. The lights were fading. We prayed we don’t get a puncture. As Dee cautiously inched backwards, the brakes let out strong whiffs of burnt rubber. We prayed for an opening where Dee could turn the car. With night approaching fast, it would be impossible to reverse the car all the way to civilization. Short of a kilometer of reversing, we found a grassy patch big enough for the car to turn around. Rach and I hopped in and hugged Dee for keeping his nerve and headed homeward to get to our well-deserved booze binge.

We reach the guesthouse to find uncle and aunty already there to check whether we have returned from our wild jaunt. Thus began an entire evening of surreal stories that ended with uncle driving us to a spot in the hills where we could see the whole Metupalayam valley, glittering like ‘stars below’ (Aunty’s words). The deafening silence of the night on a wet hill side greeted us as we peered into the valley praying desperately for the clouds to melt away. But we could only see the spidery moon, winking occasionally from behind the veiled grey of the clouds. A little disappointed, we got back to the guest house where the now-chilled beer awaited. Grin. Chilled beer on a chiller night. Awesome. It all started off peacefully enough. However, night was still young. As the night progressed, we sank into ribald debauchery. Two drunken women threatening to do a ‘channe ki kheth mey’ dance on the moonlit lawn in their night clothes at 2AM, requires the man to be enormously brave to survive. The talk got kinky and wild and the laugh got louder. Dee bore the brunt with his signature silence and occasional twinkling-naughty smile. By then, we were beyond redemption and huddled up on his bed leaving the poor fellow squeezed and begging to be allowed to sleep. But such was not the plan. We insisted on playing cards on his bed and bulldozed him to a game which was a version of strip poker, the stripper of course being Dee. Looking at the wild women, he had enough reason to panic and hugged his blanket like he was born in them while we dragged the sweater off him. This isn’t a family blog and I could have easily written about the raunchy details with glee except that Dee refused to shed any other piece of clothing and the two of us tired out of the effort of pulling a fat sweater off a grown man fell on either side, snoring. It was with the early morning ‘azan’ from a far off mosque that I sauntered to my room only to fall in bed restlessly with an aching arm caused by alcohol induced dehydration. Rach too woke up with a painful forefinger and kept asking ‘do you know what I did with this finger last night?’ Yeah baby, some things are better forgotten. Grin.

We filled the morning with endless chatter and Dee quoting my previous nights utterances. In all this, we overshot the time we had planned to start for Bangalore. Finally, we left the guesthouse around 2PM to discover that we have a flat tyre. Somehow we managed to hitch the car till the petrol bunk but being a Sunday, the few auto garages were all closed. We trekked down further to finally find a dirty shack that passed for an auto garage. They mauled the shinny new alloy wheel till I was ready to beat up the guy. Dee gave me the offending nail to be kept as keepsake. It took over an hour to repair. Then on, we reached Ooty without a hitch while it rained. On the downward drive through the hairpin bends, we had Ghalib’s beautiful words flowing in the car. We drove through the Bandipur-Madhumalai–Mysore stretch chasing stray cars. Yes, cars. Grin. It was 11 at night when I got dropped home. But it’s never over till its over. On the way from my home to Dee’s, the car ran out of gas and Rach and Dee had to push it to the nearest bunk. Finally, I got an alls well message at 12 with all of us slumped in our respective beds. So till we meet again....

'Get your motor runnin'

Head out on the highway

Lookin' for adventure

And whatever comes our way...'

Monday, September 07, 2009

My friend Dee

Dear Dee

Among all the silly and not-so-silly things that we do together and for each other, often what gets missed is expressed appreciation. But this is not a thank you post. This one is for posterity. I am hoping this post survives in some inconspicuous corner of this virtual world and may be some day either or both our grandchildren might trip on it and read. This is also for those times when we may not be ‘in’ each other’s lives as much as now. We don’t really know the future and I am not waiting till I turn 60 to tell you this.

So here goes.

I hope you know how wonderful you are, like many people whose lives you have touched in so many different ways, have vouched already. But I will not dwell on your generosity, your ability to make friends on the most unlikely circumstances, your humility, your deep concern for even those whom you know briefly, your faith in people, your passion for what you believe in, your protectiveness for those you love, your boisterous sense of humour and many more things that endear you to people. Because in these, I am not the lone beneficiary of your extraordinary nature.

But it is those unexpected and almost instinctive moments that melt my heart and often break it. I suppose those are best bud privileges only. Grin.

Like, I didn’t expect you to rouse yourself and step out groggily to help me search for my shawl because you thought I may not be able to sleep without it. That was so damn sweet.

How you seethed ‘can’t you keep the window rolled up when we drive through crowded areas?’ Thank you. I shall remember always. Despite the irritated tone and the slammed door, I know it stems from genuine concern.

I have never had anyone text me from his room to ask for tooth paste, where all he could have done is walked across to my room.

How you can joke, ‘so what, gaadi hai, dusri aajayegi’ when all I wanted was to hit the dirty mechanic who was molesting your shiny new alloy wheel.
I didn’t expect you to be so calm after the cemetery fiasco. I am awfully sorry for suggesting it. If I were reversing the car on that narrow ledge that passed for a path, we would have ended 6000ft below and even there I would have chewed off the head of the person who came up with the brilliant idea. You never cease to surprise me.
How you cackled that the baby monkey crossing the road looked as cute as me. The monkey and I are both grateful that you noticed us despite driving with a painfully troubled back.

Finally to offer yourself voluntarily to get teased incessantly by drunk women takes courage. Real courage. Grin. I would have clobbered them to death.

I wish for you to never change. I know there is one lucky girl waiting to get hitched to you. I wish for her to have the big heart to love you for all that you are.

Yours always,

Me

Friday, August 14, 2009

In and around

Ro gave us a scare when he fell ill last week with fever, cold and a wheezing cough. We panicked. Consulted doctors. Monitored his condition hourly and thank heavens he got better as I was ready to fall over with exhaustion and worry. I amaze at how my mother brought up two kids with little help from anyone else. And she was so much younger! The 24X7 coverage of flu on media obviously doesn’t help. But all well that ends well.
Someone very close to me is going through a tough patch. Heartbreak isn’t easy specially if you have practically known little else for nine long years…that’s 1/3 of ones life no less. For the last few years I had kept my reservations to myself and hoped things will work out fine for both of them. But it ended one evening...horribly as it were, just out of the blue. There’s not much one can say to someone who’s hurting except to say things will get better and one will find love again and happiness to share with someone who truly cares and deserves. Keep faith.

phoenix

You turn around

surprised at the ashes

of what could have been

the rest of your life.

You search for a reason and

for answers that don’t exist.

In life’s dice, you wonder

when you missed your turn.

But when the tears dry

you ought to see

the sun’s coming up

and it’s a beautiful morning

Friday, August 07, 2009

remembering you on rakhi...

I was reading this when my eyes misted up. Bro and I have our stories too. Many, too many of them. We loved and hated each other with such fierce passion that often it scared Ma. One morning, I was dragged from my kindergarden to look at a pink baby wriggling in the hospital crib sucking his thumb and my entire family fussing over it. It appeared impossible to me that this thing would now be my brother. I was awe struck and jealous as hell. It never ceased to amaze me how that wriggling mass of cuteness became the only person I ever connected truly to. We sulked, argued and fought but we stuck by each other like two parts of a genetic jigsaw that our parents couldn’t figure out. As we grew up, the close bond tightened till there were no secrets or insecurities kept from each other including our obsessive belief that our parents loved the other more. Sometimes we had wondered if we were really twins who just got separated by a time warp. My parents had turned to me on critical occasions to convince him, when they thought he chose foolishly. I never took their side, firmly believing that he needs to make those choices himself. For that he was always grateful because he knew I was the only person who could talk him out of anything. Now that he is gone, a part of my parents will never forgive me for not coming through at those times. They worry too that I do not have bro, to be there for me when they are gone.

My earliest memory of our fight was when he drove a sharpened pencil point into my thigh till the lead broke and stuck inside the flesh and I ran to Ma with the oozing blood making a crazy pattern on the white skirt. I howled and brought the roof down till justice was meted out. I was eight and he five. I don’t now remember what we fought over but I remember preening around like peacock showing off my bandaged leg like a trophy and narrating with glee, the circumstances of the injury and the thrashing he got because of it. It was with same ardour that I would, some years later, narrate how he punched a boy four years older to him, when that fellow teased me about my glasses. I felt strangely reassured and proud that here was someone I could always depend on. My brother.

It was he who had sneaked in a half-burnt candle and a matchbox in his pocket when Ma banished both of us to the dark portico one evening after none of us owed up to a mischief. He knew that I would be afraid of the dark and when Baba came home, he saw us busy making shadow puppets in candlelight and heard us saying how lucky we were that Ma threw us out since it meant no homework. Thereon, we always shared the punishment and he never forgot to share his candy. We drove Ma nuts when we invented a code language for ourselves and used it to chatter at home. Then we had this crazy game when he would make a sound and I would repeat the same at a higher note and he would follow with an even higher note till we both were screaming and it would end with a sharp slap from Ma. The slap left us giggled till we were rolling on the floor. Ma never understood what we found so amusing. This is a madhouse and someday soon the neighbours will ask us to leave, she used to say.

The neighbours never asked us to leave but we grew up and moved cities. We didn’t talk as often as we did when we were kids, but that bond got stronger. When I was studying in Delhi he used to write these funny letters (back in late 90s there weren’t any email) in his still childlike handwriting about aliens landing on our terrace and how the neighbourhood street dog had a pretty litter. He found humour in most things grown ups ignored. He found wonder in the most mundane of things. It is his innocence that I miss the most.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

how long?

But how long can Kolkata afford ’shorshe eelish’ is the question? Every single state machinery is close to ruins. However, this ‘misguided anarchism’ is not limited to any particular political party nor is it a fresh idea. I have witnessed ‘bus porano’ 15 years back and if I recall right, the expressions on the faces of the perpetrators weren’t any different. (Looking at the woman should I be lauding them for gender equality?) Living in another city for many years now, I realize more things change more they remain the same.

Every day there is a ’swell’ of Bangalees arriving in other cities looking for opportunities and the ones who remain are probably looking for their 15 mins of fame in this fashion. I am not trivializing the trigger but the means used for protest. Maybe change will come with pain. But I doubt that. As I speak with many folks who live there, I get this alarming sense that they are perfectly ok with the bandh/bus-burning. Yes there is the obligatory noise about ‘economic loss’ but beyond that Kolkata is happy enjoying a long weekend. There is this entire generation that grew up ‘enjoying’ the bandh holidays and would know no better. While watching the news, my nine year old asked ‘what is bandh?’ and for that I am grateful.

Monday, July 13, 2009

happiness...

It was party time with Ro celebrating his birthday. The poor mother was dancing not so daintily between office work and the arrangements. So the cake had to be chocolate and strawberry and the balloons blue and white and the badges Spiderman and the goodie bags handmade from old newspaper and blue satin ribbons and the party games fun. Yes, the mother stayed up nights and ran all the errands till she was ready to collapse before the party. All for a hug and a wet kiss at the end of the party followed by a declaration – you are the best mommy in the whole world. The reward justifies the backaches, the un-met deadlines at work, the dark circle and the haggling with the decorators. For once, the squealing kids didn’t trigger a want to clobber them instantaneously. So they danced and skidded, dropped cake and spilled soda on the floor, screamed their lungs out, thumped each other with balloons. At the end of two hours the place turned into a battered war zone. The service folks bore all the mauling with a smile and the mother looked bedraggled and ready to howl. Finally the party ended and the goodbyes lingered.

Friday, July 10, 2009

baby boy

Ro turned 9 this Monday. He is growing up at a pace that I do not know how to keep pace with anymore. Despite the Ben 10s and the other competing contraptions, he retains some endearing innocence that I know for sure wouldn’t last till next year. He still rushes to hug me when I return home, even when he is in the midst of his friends at the playground. If he is home before me, he insists on opening the door, instinctively knowing who’s at the door. He never flinches when I call him my little baby in public. One of my neighbours always says how lucky I am to have such a loving child. Of course, she doesn’t know of our skirmish and I-will-NEVER-talk-to-yous. But he is a gentle child, probably one of the reasons most girls are friends with him but not all the boys. He doesn’t get into fights and has learnt the art of fixing boys older to him with a stare, which is commendable at his age. I had wished for him to be more aggressive when I mistook his easygoing adaptive nature for passivity. But as he grows, I notice the distinct streak of latent stubbornness that’s a sure sign of a mind all of its own. He has opted for cookery for his hobby class in school this year. My father, being from the generation that he is, looked at him in disbelief when he announced his choice. My mother smiled and was secretly pleased. Last year he had taken yoga, again out of his own volition. To my father all this is very alien and he wonders why on earth his grandson chooses cookery over a science club. Though seeing my mother’s enthusiasm, he keeps his ‘wonderment’ to himself. Finally, I heard him telling Ma yesterday, that he regrets never having learnt how to cook himself. To which my mother, being my mother, tells him it’s never too late.

With you

I was alive

I was spontaneous

I would talk ceaselessly

Time stood still

Right now

I am peaceful

I live a routine

I am a compulsive listener

I wear a watch

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Yesterday has been a rite of passage of sorts. Since I know, I have been orgasmic about chicken biriyani. I love and savour it like some women worship and salivate over John Abraham. And I am not a snooty foodie, therefore have had this beloved ‘item number’ across cities, towns and across price ranging from a happy Rs.35 to a heady Rs.375.

But it finally happened yesterday. I was at my favourite biriyani haunt in Hyderabad. And no it isn’t Paradise. It’s a quaint place called Point Pleasant on Banjara Hills Rd. 10. Don’t go by the name or the fading garish look. For the last one year that I am traveling to Hyderabad frequently, I have sworn by their chicken dum biriyani. In Hyderabad, this is my staple everyday. I skip breakfast and dinner to be able to gorge on this ‘item’ during lunch. But the spell broke. Just like many others over the years of wising up. The beautifully laden plate didn’t excite. The mind-bending aroma didn’t titillate. I was left with stunted emotions grouping desperately to find my ‘love’. I watched the curling steam and found myself wishing for a plate of curd rice. My conversion complete. I am praying it is a temporary affliction. Let the lord be with me.

Monday, June 22, 2009

I am back in HYD. Same airport, roads, buildings, hotel room, everything. Just as I left it a month back. In my life, change doesn’t last. Or so it seems. I miss Ro. Intensely. So I work late till I am ready to fall in bed. I miss our ‘slug monster’ games that he invented a few years back. It’s a silly game alright. He crawls up from behind when I am lying on my belly reading a book or fiddling with the keyboard, and I would be obliged to shake him off my back. Silly ain’t it? But these are some of the most fulfilling times that I have known. He has grown up so much that my back hurts but I don’t want him to know. So I strain to shake him off and he goes..weeeeee…yeeeeeee….but well I wouldn’t give that up for anything will I? I do hope someday he will read this and know how much it means to me to have him make me a part of his silly childish games.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

the wonderment

Currently I am on a dubious assignment conjured up by my boss and her peers which took me past the St. Patrick’s Cathedral on the right and the Sacred Heart Convent on the left. It’s a spot where Hosur Rd. meets the Residency Rd. and has a long traffic signal. While waiting, I noticed the cobbler kiosk on the left. I have seen it many times before and like any other city dweller learned to forget about it as soon as the light changed to green. Today there was this little girl no more than six in her rather dirty school uniform, with no shoes and hair neatly plaited with red ribbons. She stood right in front of the cobbler kiosk reading a notebook. In a moment I realized she was learning the multiplication table. Completely immersed in her notebook, she kept on reciting the numbers as the pedestrians rushed by, the buses screeched, the autorickshaws honked away and the general din of a busy intersection engulfed her. She stood and practiced her numbers with scant attention to what was happening around her. The middle aged man and a teen aged boy working in the kiosk occasionally looked up at her. The easy comfort of the three leads me to believe that they must be a family. I wanted to get down from the vehicle and may be smile at her and say ‘I am proud of you’ but hesitated. I was the outsider here and didn’t want her concentration to waver. The lights changed and before I could fish out the camera to take her picture the vehicle moved. I just hope her parents know how lucky they are. With the excesses we tend to bring up our children, often the purpose is lost and the value warped. All I wish for her is to get a fair deal and be who she wants to be without getting in the cross hair of our corrupt social fabric. God bless.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Ro’s summer holidays are getting over in exactly 4 days. He seems excited to start school. Even came up with a suggestion why not a new school for the new class, which alarmed me. Fearing the worst, I probed. Do you not like your school? It’s not like that mommy, he looks at me wondering why I don’t get it. It would be fun to get new friends na? This is his third school since kindergarten. And he has never fussed and happily went through the gate never ever looking back. It always unnerves me to see how easily he takes to change. Even to changes which are more personal and intense. We moved house literally over night when I moved in with my parents and he didn’t protest even a bit. I sometimes fear that he must hold a secret grudge and it will all burst open someday. I have tried subtle questions, probing questions and downright honest questions. Nothing. He has never expressed desire to get back to his ‘old’ home/school/friends/neighbours. This puzzles me. I got a close friend to talk to him. She being a trained psychologist hopefully will be able to catch some undercurrent that I have missed. But there was no hint of resentment for the intense changes he has been through. She concluded that he is a superbly well-adjusted child.
When he left his previous school, on the last day of the term, his best friends cried copiously saddened that they wouldn’t be meeting everyday. He hugged them and said bye just like he did everyday for the last three years. The guilt of seeing the tears in the other boys’ eyes wrenched my heart. They were all of five. I promised their mothers that we will meet during vacation. Which we did for a while and there were those frequent telephone calls. But I always got the feeling that he cared more about his friend’s feelings than actually missing them. So while he was polite and cheerful when he met them, he wasn’t really attached. Maybe I am just paranoid!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

talking lizzy

I am done with Amit Varma's My Friend Sancho and I have decided to stay with Amitav Ghosh. I tried. No, honestly. I did. It is like Ekta Kapoor's serial with shorter dialogue. This is no Murakami. I expected better craft. I will continue to read his blog instead.

Friday, May 22, 2009

What’s happening with me

My city is having a spell of heavenly weather and hellish roads. Yes. It’s the rains again. Gusty, loud, passionate downpour that is lovely to watch from the glass bubble where I work. But you realize soon that divinity stops at 10 ft above ground. Since we don’t have transporter we have to battle through roads turned sewers, non-stop honking, traffic snarls from hell and breakpoint temper. Caught up in the loveliness I reached home at 9.30. That is a full evening show of being stuck in my car. I could have sat at a movie theatre instead, except that all theatres are on strike!

The good part of this week is the two books I am reading. Carl Muller’s Once Upon a Tender Time, the last of the Von Bloss trilogy. Through the first two parts, The Jam Fruit Tree and Yakada Yaka I fell in love with the Von Bloss. It is an adult tale of love, misgivings, betrayal, loneliness and humour in the backdrop of Srilanka’s fractured history.

The other is Amit Varma’s debut novel, My Friend Sancho that I picked up yesterday from Shankar’s at the Taj. I read his blog regularly and appreciate his view point on most things. I will comment on the book once I have finished reading. My last impulse-buy turned out to be a dud. The only reason I bought that book was the male protagonist’s name. (Yeah! now you know why I am bankrupt).

Oh, the rest of this post is about you. Last night was the third continuous night I dreamt of you. I haven’t missed you all day. Hell, I don’t even think of you as often as I used to (which was every other minute). And I thought I made it. Got over you. Got over the hurt, the indifference, the non-existence, the lies. But then you arrive in my dream as the ordinary, everyday loving self. We talk, we share laughter, we quibble. We become two real persons in my dream. And I fall in love again. I woke up disoriented last night with the taste of bhelpuri that we were feasting on. Falling back to sleep, I realized we have never had bhelpuri together. I just hope I am not talking in my sleep. That will worry Ma.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

@ HYD Airport

Sitting at Hyderabad Airport, I am enraged. I just realized that flying to and fro from Bangalore I paid the user development fee twice! If that wasn't enough, at Bangalore, I was told that the airport is not accepting cards of any kind as they don't have the facility and neither do they have change for a Rs.500 since passengers are expected to carry the exact amount! This is 6.30AM and I am expected to find the exact change and tender the same. WTF!

First, I didnot ASK for a swanky airport where a plate of iddlis (2 nos.) costs Rs.90. I didnot ask for an airport that will cost me Rs.700 to reach. Many talk of better 'facilities'. I would ask which ones? Yes, the toilets are cleaner but there is no announcement box inside. So if you errr take longer you just might miss the flight.

I consider air travel as a basic service that should be provided to the average tax-paying citizen. The airports should function efficiently with on-time departure and arrival, acceptable hygiene and cleanliness and other facilities at a reasonable price. I would rather have a no-frills airport that has a better record of on-time takeoffs! Who needs these fancy branded shops that pay a bomb to be there and pass that on promptly to the customer. Imagine if Chennai Central starts charging UDF since it has introduced trolly carts to ferry passengers from entrance to the platform. I bet the railways have a far better record of timely departures and arrivals. So what am I really paying for?

Ok enough cribbing. The road to airport is far prettier in Bangalore than Hyderabad. But Hyderabad has many competitive players in the air-conditioned cab service. Better options than Bangalore.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

here goes...

This lovely, lovable lady tagged, so here it is..

A

- Available: no

- Age: three decades and a quarter

- Annoyance: summer heat

- Animal: all

B

- Beer: draught.

- Birthday/Birthplace: 30th Jan/Kolkata

- Body Part on opposite sex: eyes and hands

- Best feeling in the world: holding Ro for the 1st time

- Blind or Deaf: Deaf

- Best weather: winter chill. Cooler the better.

- Been in Love: yes

- Been on stage?: yes, often.

- Believe in yourself?: yes.

- Believe in life on other planets: wouldn’t rule it out.

- Believe in miracles: lucky coincidences.

- Believe in Magic: yes. of the entertaining variety.

- Believe in God: No. But respect those who do.

C- Car: Xing. Dream of a Ferrari Spider.

- Candy: naaah!

- Color: black, red, purple.

- Cried in school: never.

- Chocolate/Vanilla: Tiramisu.

- Country to visit: Egypt and the Scandinavia

D

- Day or Night: Always been an owl. 2-4AM is my fav time. Love the quiet.

- Danced: love it.

- Dance in the rain?: Yes. hell yes.

- Do the splits?: Nope.

E

- Eggs: boiled and shelled.

- Eyes: Smiling.

- Everyone has: a funny bone.

F

- First crush: in school.

- First thoughts waking up: What’s special today?

- Food: well done steak.

G

- Greatest Fear: losing my wit

- Giver or taker: giver . sigh!

- Goals: to be content and happy.

- Get along with your parents?: yes.

H

- Hair Colour: black

- Height: 5’6”

- Happy: most of the time.

- How do you want to die: alone and in peace.

- Health freak?: Noooooooo….I LOVE food, the sinful kinds!

- Hate: Hypocrisy.

I

- Ice Cream: strawberries with cream and gooey strawberry sauce (if it qualifies for icecream) or coffee flavoured ones.

- Instrument: tried to learn guitar. But the teacher gave up.

- Jewelry: my little blade pendant, tiny ear rings.

- Job: Human resource professional. Dream job: painting.

K

- Kids: Have a boy. Want a girl.

- Kickboxing or karate: none. I am the non-violent kind :)

- Keep a journal?: No. Never had the patience or discipline.

L

- Love: begins with self.

- Laughed so hard you cried: Yes.

- Love at first sight: Naaah!

M

- Mooned anyone?: Nope.

- Marriage: Done with.

- Motion sickness?: Severe, specailly on spiraling roads..and I love mountains, so you can imagine..

N

- Number of Siblings: had 1

- Number of Piercings: 4

O

- One wish: peace everywhere…

P

- Place you'd like to live: on a mountain somewhere…

- Perfect Pizza: pepperoni.

- Pepsi/Coke: Water.

Q

- Questionaires: I don’t like silly ones (like this one!)

R

- Reason to cry: when I am hurt.

- Reality T.V.: No, no, no. I don’t watch TV.

- Roll your tongue in a circle: that’s fun!

S

- Song: current favorite – You Found Me - Frey

- Shoe size: 41

- Slept outside: yes. In a tent!

- Seen a dead body?: yes.

- Smoked?: yes.

- Skinny dipped?: yes.

- Shower daily?: usually twice.

- Sing well?: Only Ro thinks I do.

- In the shower?: yes, yes and yes.

- Swear?: often.

- Stuffed Animals?: Currently Ro has loaned me a monkey called George.

- Single/Group dates: Single.

- Strawberries/Blueberries: Strawberries...with fresh cream!

- Scientists need to invent: nothing. They have done enough!

T

- Time for bed: late usually.

- Thunderstorms: I like them…

- TV: Don’t watch.

- Touch your tongue to your nose: Oops…too short!

U

- Unpredictable: absolutely.

V

- Vegetable you hate: Bhindi….yeow!

- Vegetable you love: potato, any doubt!

- Vacation spot: Himalayas

W

- Weakness: much too idealistic..hmm

- When you grow up: Hey! I am already grown up..what kinda question is THIS!

- Worst feeling: to be lied to...

- Wanted to be a model?: No. A model student yes. But my teachers thought otherwise.

- Where do we go when we die: Do I care? I am dead...

Worst weather: Sticky summer heat!

X

-X-Rays: Once. For a suspected hairline crack in the ankle.

Y

-Year it is now: 2009..hah!

-Yellow: Sunflowers.

Z- Zoo animal: I don’t like animals in the zoo…

- Zodiac sign: Aquarius

This lovely gent is surprised to see me do a tag.....infact he asked me if I was feeling alright! Therefore, let me put it on record that I have always done tags, if invited to do so. So here you go Rambler, now it's your turn. Teeheehee!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

peeve

Two things that are irritating me right now:

1. I see no reason why India in general and Indians in particular should meddle in Srilanka's internal affair. We should have stayed out of East Pakistan and we should stay out of other people's countries. Send aid if asked. Appeal for minimal casualty. But don't meddle. Currently I am stuck in Chennai since DMK has called for a 'bandh' to protest and armtwist Center to 'intervene' in Srilanka. Thanks to them, I will have to work out of my hotel room tomorrow.

2. I don't see the point of the spotlight in Varun Gandhi. This is election time. Rhetorics are aplenty. Why castigate him for something that doesn't deserve so much hoopla. I have heard the 'acid speech' on TV several times as broadcasted during news. I didn't find anything offensive in it. Go ahead. Call me a bigot.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

She misses him at the oddest moments. While watching Flashbacks of a Fool and wanting to know what he would have thought of it. When she wondered who he will vote for this time. When she got stuck on clue 17A of the Sunday crossword.
Yes. She still misses him on her pillow. In the shower. In the kitchen. In their Floyd song. In that antique bar cabinet that they almost bought. In the blueberry cheesecake she doesn’t eat anymore. But these are expected places. So it gets easier with time. It is the odd unexpected ones that take her breath away.

Monday, April 20, 2009

thank you

Last evening, it was that rare headache. On those odd occasions, it leaves me crabby and terribly vicious. Last evening was no different. The constant throb left me barely human. I sat quietly with a steaming cup of tea, staring vacuously out of the window, at the gathering darkness outside. I was barely conscious of how much I hate evenings. In fact, it had driven out all other thoughts from my head. And no, I have a warped sense of wellbeing and therefore wouldn’t pop pills for silly things like headaches. So I suffer, usually in silence.
A time like this isn’t easy on an 8-year old. Ro came running almost every other minute to say this and that. His football needs a fill of air, his favourite blue car has a broken wheel that needs immediate fixing, when will I read him the new Tenida story. First I ignored, hoping he will soon find something else to amuse himself with. It didn’t work. He went about with dogged determination that can only be blamed on genes. Mine. He finally decided to regale me with one of my favourite hindi songs – tujhe yaad na meri ayi. Yes, very cute and very charming. Yes, he has a pleasant voice. No, his hindi isn’t top class so he got the lyrics all wrong. Throbbing headache and botched up lyrics doesn’t go well. At that juncture, the slap happened. It was harder than I intended it to be. It shut him up instantly and he ran to Ma screaming 'I will never talk with you again'. I didn’t see him for the next hour or so till I went to bed. By then, the throb had waned giving way to a fuzzy dullness that was bearable. It was a cool night and I pulled up the coverlet to find him tip-toeing inside and settling himself on the other side of the bed. The lights were off but I saw his big eyes shinning with concern and what can only be called love. ‘Sleep, Mommy. You will feel better in the morning’, he whispered. I hugged him and cried. Not bothering to hide my tears. I said I was sorry. He smiled and gently kissed my hair as I curled up hugging him tight till we both drifted off to sleep.
There are a whole lot of things that I have done wrong. But there must have been something that I did right to have deserved him. Thank you, god for giving him to me. I know I never thank you enough. I know I am not a perfect mother. I get overwhelmed easily. I am often flustered. I am impatient at times. I often struggle to manage the various demands. But amidst all of this, you have given me this gift. So thank you again.

Friday, April 17, 2009

The Bong Quotient

You are a bona fide bong if:

  1. You are obsessed with either end or preferably both ends of the digestive system.
  2. You have an opinion on everything under the sun and believe it is your birth right to express it at every opportunity.
  3. You are an ardent practitioner of self-medication and offer solutions to the ones around you whether asked or not.
  4. You wear glasses – higher the ‘power’ the better.
  5. Your grandmother fed you fish heads when you were a kid promising to make you smarter in math although you have never actually seen a fish of any variety solve algebra.
  6. You are obsessed with numbers and force-rank every one/thing from physicians to space satellites and take offence when contradicted.
  7. You wear egg-sized gemstones on more than two fingers and most likely dangle mini metal contraptions containing holy flowers/ashes on the various covered and uncovered parts of your body to ward of evil and make yourself invincible.
  8. You have tried homeopathy at least once in your life. Better still you have practiced it after learning from an old handbook bought from a used-book store.
  9. You are an expert in palmistry. Again, learnt from a second-hand Kiro book bought off the pavement.
  10. You insist on screaming your companion’s name in public least he or she gets lost in a crowd. The rule is followed with equal zest in movie theatres, malls, railway compartments, aircrafts and parks.
  11. You believe Rabindranath Thakore is the greatest literary figure of all times. The others who count are either English or French.
  12. You bargain even at paid public toilets.
  13. You smell a ‘chokranto’ (grave conspiracy) every time any thing slightly negative is written against illustrious bongs like Sourab or Pronob (irrespective of your political leaning).
  14. You love sleeping in the afternoon.
  15. You know all the rights of citizens of India. However, every time responsibilty is discussed you smell a 'chokranto'.

of misspelling..

Recently, in a gathering where I was invited to, I met an exuberant man who seized every opportunity to express his unrestrained opinion. At the end of the program where everyone generally thanks everyone else, he came to me and over some polite talk offered me his business card. We shook hands, I smiled and I left. I got to my car and while putting the card in my bag read the details. Here is part of the card. I have written to him, gently urging him to get his cards reprinted immediately.

P.S. (Incase you haven't been able to make out, the crucial 'l' in 'Public' is missing...making it Pubic Relations and Training. Wondering what all tax payers are paying for eh?)

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

radio ga ga

I am a self-confessed radio junkie. Between full-time work and a boisterous eight-year old, my music listening happens while driving to and from work and often during late nights on weekends. I guess I have to thank the Galvin brothers for that. I am lazy enough not to organize my CDs and MP3s to make the songs easily accessible and I like to be surprised, so radio works for me. I am a sucker for the retro shows. Mostly because I don’t have to wonder about the words! Ok, now about the two songs this morning…

Black Velvet by Alannah Myles. This has been an old favourite (1989 is positively retro). There is something about her raspy voice that oozes languid insolence. It is so refreshing to hear the opening score of the song. I had spent hours imagining myself in those leather boots and felt hat singing and strumming in front of Elvis-crazed fans. Sigh. That was the only time I wanted crinkly hair.

You Found Me by The Fray. D├ębuting last November, this one is comparatively super-fresh modern. This song has all the Nirvanasque angst and melancholy minus the guitar riffs. Despite the depressive lyrics that talk about the hopelessness and disappointment that life offers, it is a strangely uplifitng song.

Listen in…

Monday, March 23, 2009

coming back to life..

They played 'our' song today on the radio. It took me by surprise. They never play anything like that so early in the day. The RJ said, 'Roll up your windows and let the music fill your car..' Good for him. What does he know. Silly, really. To be holding on to a song when you have to let go of the person. Then maybe that's how it is meant to be. That is why the song a classic.

Friday, March 20, 2009

wake me up inside...

For the last few weeks the highpoint has been the radio show on Thursday afternoon called ThinkTank where the callers quiz the RJ on music trivia to win sponsored goodies. Usually some rare trivia gets shared which makes the show interesting. Regularly, I leave office at 6 just to be able to tune in while driving back. Speaks a lot about my life doesn’t it.

Anyway, the recent psychometric test found my score to be highest on spatial-visual intelligence followed by musical, intrapersonal and linguistic. I scored lowest on logical-mathematical which comes as no surprise. I remember only two telephone numbers and both of them I have had for the last several years. Once, in school, I had drawn bicycle wheels on the entire math notebook to find out the number of revolutions required to cover an asked distance. Precisely then, I guess, my parents gave up their dreams. More on that later. Only now, I have learnt the multiplication table along with my eight year old. In university, all my applied statistics used to take shape schematically on paper napkins while my partner crunched the numbers. My kith and kin are well aware of my severely challenged ability to comprehend anything numeric. I do not remember the silly SMS numbers that flash on TV to vote for the even sillier shows. I even skip the numbers in an advertisement and read them as ‘blah blah blah’.

Then again, I am the most illogical person around with impossible wishes and irrational reactions. Therefore, unlike DA, I cannot erase people as easily as their telephone numbers. For me, a person, thing or moment is tagged with a multi-sensory memory and filed in the deep crevice of my conscious from where they are impossible to dislodge. Then for years afterwards, I will relive those memories, often painfully, when triggered by a familiar phrase, a well-remembered tilt of the head, a similar posture, snatches of a tune, whiff of a perfume, a certain warmth of voice, a shared joke.

It would have been so much easier if I could put people in numeric context. His bank balance. Her shoe size. His height. Her age. His address. Her phone number. So much easier to erase when required. But that wouldn’t work for me. Unlike the old couple in the paint advertisement on TV, I will recall the colour, texture, smell, taste of all 'our' memory. So, for those I have lost through fate or frivolity, what remains are the myriad hued memories and of course the songs. ‘Our’ songs that will always remain even after the ‘our’ is rendered redundant.