Thursday, December 16, 2010

The Magic's Back!

Remember This ? It was a post I had written long long ago, about this very month being magical. Three years have passed since that post, and my life is now in a different college, city and with different friends. But the magic somehow still remains. Lots of little little things I've done this month has made it so magical, that I can't help but pen them all down, so I can come back to this page three years later again, linking it to a newer post.

So I finally saw Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. After searching frantically for a theatre that would play the movie (uhh...I saw the movie nearly 5 weeks after release, and in Delhi, movies jump out of theatres like frogs on lilypads.) my friends and I (this time there was I-M and the Cake Stealer....who all hit it off so well, that I almost feel ignored these days....and to think I introduced one party to the other!) managed to pick up the last tickets in the theatre for the movie. As in the last remaining ones. I almost gave away my ticket to a little lost boy who was told that the show was booked after we walked away from taking the last tickets.....and then I realized that the boy was probably watching the movie for the second/third time, since he didn't seem too disappointed!

So did I like it? Definitely. A lot of it fit perfectly like a jigsaw into my imagination's version of the movie. Sure, many things were omitted but I walked out in eager anticipation of the next part, so case justified.

And then the place where I do my dissertation. it has become more a fun schedule rather than a dissertation schedule. Who would've thought I would be able to capture the attention of over ten little children in making them work with me? Of course, a LOT of the time is spent in telling them stories (in shudh Hindi, mind you) about the world beyond. But their excitement and enthusiasm at seeing me makes the travel and the distance worth every minute.

Chandni Chowk! Have I blogged about my first paranthe wali gali episode? Or the Red Fort Jama Masjid episode where we were stalked by a creepy looking foreigner? I'm guessing not, but both these episodes have NOT deterred me from going back there for more paranthas. They're more like deep fried heart attacks served on a plate, but washing it down with a huge glass of lassi and ending the meal with a jalebi the size of a small plate completely seals my cardiac fate. In my defense, I walked up the metro stairs, as a form of exercise (more to burn off the guilt calories, than anything else).

Speaking of Metro - I now have a Metro Card!! With a little card sleeve and everything! It is SO COOL to swipe your wallet across the barriers and walk through...rather than standing in endless queues to buy the tokens. And I can use it anywhere, anytime! I've been travelling a lot by metro the past month, but even then, every time I swipe my wallet across the barrier, I get a little thrill when it opens for me! :D

Ooooh..and watching unsuspecting men getting beaten up for entering the womens' compartment - priceless!

Fraandship - Lots of fraaandship episodes have happened this one month. One would think that with our never-matching schedules, we'd not meet that often, but it's turned out to be the other way around. From going to Ash's dance performance, to staying over at Al's place (loooong story, that. Will not be discussed on the world wide web. If you've met me online, or in person, or any of my friends, the chances are that you already know. So zip it.) We've been on the move as a big happy bunch. It feels nice to have a group of friends who are ready for any form of craziness, at any time. And it stings a little bit that this is going to be short-lived...less than a year.

But that's ok. We still have our 'tour' to complete! :D So I louue you, fraands. Dated till the glove flies! :D (P.S. Knowing us, we might actually be able to make it fly. So let's just mean eternity, shall we?)

And FOOOOD, dude! I know, I've become repetitive now. Always talking about friends, public transport, weather and food. I should become the weekend tabloid of a glossy newspaper instead. But you can't live through December and NOT talk about food, dude! This is the no-bacteria month. More like, all diseases have frozen so go forth and enjoy month! Which is exactly what I've been doing. From eating chole kulche from a thela-wala near Qutub Minar, to feasting on Paani Puris, Aloo tikkis, Chocolate-walnut cakes and mini mother dairy ice creams (all at one time, mind you) in a local market, I've left no shack unturned in finding yummy streetfood! A year ago, if you had asked me to go eat paani puri, I'd have given you 'Yeesh-what-is-wrong-with-you-that-is-drowning-in-dysentery-diarrhea-jaundice-typhoid-you-crazy-maniac-who-wants-to-fall-ill-on-purpose-and-not-worry-about-digestive-system' lectures, with free demonstrations on how to sanitize hands well.

Today? Arre! Chalo kuch khaate hain, is what I say! Street food in Delhi is highly liberating. I almost feel like throwing the woolens away and enjoy the spice and heat of the smoky grills and tawas. And then I remember that illness caused by chillness is very possible, so I refrain from doing such filmy acts.

So in a paani-puri shell, December is truly magical this time around as well. There's something about the air that makes me want to drive all the way across the city, combating all the road rage, just to meet little kids. It makes me want to build a permanent shack inside paranthe wali gali and live happily ever after. More importantly, it makes me forget that this weather and flavour of the city will be short lived, as I move on to greener (hopefully) pastures when the new year arrives.

Saturday, November 27, 2010


Donald Duck did it. He got me hooked to books. In a desperate attempt to quieten my constant chatter, my mother found me a couple of tattered Donald Duck comics in her library and gave them to me at the age of two, to flip through and amuse myself. However, her plan failed horribly, because not only did I NOT stop my chatter (I would make up gibberish and substitute them for the dialogues I was too young to read), but I demanded to be taken to the library every second day, to find and 'read' more!

It's been twenty years since then, and the bibliophilia in me has spread like an epidemic through all possible genres, even giving me the eternal hope of writing a book someday. Recently, Facebook had the BBC Booklist Buzz that got me thinking about this post. (If you've been tagged in that note, how many books have YOU read?) While some part of me felt immensely inferior, thanks to the insane number of books I have NOT read, the other part of me felt like documenting the fun memories of those that I have read.

Through my entire childhood (uh...I would define childhood as 2 through 22), I've been gifted books as birthday presents. Of course, having a birthday in book-ridden March when exams are scorning intently at you would put people off at the prospect of more books, albeit for entertainment. However, I'd wait eagerly for my birthday presents, tearing off the wrapping of all gifts that resembled books first. Within the next few days, I'd stay in a blissful oblivion of the outside world, as I floated in and out of pages and pages of wonderland.

The first books I was gifted was a twin pack of Snow White and Cinderella by my neighbours. The beauty of fairy tales began with those two books...and has lasted ever since. (That can't be truer, since I spent last night on the couch, weeping happily over the ending of The Princess and The Frog - a really beautiful movie!) After pre-school years of 'I have 20 ladybird books how many you have' discussions, I finally moved on to greener pages.....the Enid Blyton series.

Enid Blyton is the rite of passage to childhood, if you ask me. Blyton and Dahl were such prolific writers, that they can be indisputably credited with the ability of sparking creativity in every starry eyed child. From getting scared while reading 'Witches', to getting ravenous while reading about the sumptuous feasts in Malory Towers, my holiday train rides were never complete without a brand new, crisp, Blyton book. When I finally ran out of bookspace (which I unfortunately did, thanks to the 3 generations of Reader's Digest my family has been collecting since forever), I gave up all my Blyton books to my cousin, so that she could be introduced to this magical world of the English Countryside. However, a couple of years later, when I went visiting there and saw all my books looking so out of place in her shelf, I secretly collected them all back and brought them home to re-read them all over again! (And uh, this wouldn't be too far long, so it shows the sort of childish insanity I develop around Blyton books!)

While Blyton introduced me to Girl Power, Carolyn Keene, Ann M Martin and Francine Pascal reinforced it. After years of constant reading, increased glasses power and countless taunts about reading in low light/moving car/upside down, I can officially claim to have read ALL of the Nancy Drew and Babysitter's Club books. (Uh, I somehow gave up after reading about fifty Sweet Valley books. I had discovered Judy Blume and Harry Potter by then.)

So after the overdose of girl power, I had the next obsession with books...and magic! Anyone my age would instantly connect with Harry Potter best, because we grew with him. When I was 11, so was Harry. Reading and re-reading each book over and over again made me sink deeper into the world of fantasy and charm. Watching the movies, and then dissing them for not having stood up to my creative vision of Harry's adventures made excellent pastime. Of course, randomly playing Harry Potter quizzes in class (and I'm talking about college here, mind you) was so I tested the depths of my memory trying to figure out the actual meaning of Dumbledore's name.

Today, I have read so many books I'd NEVER be able to remember them all. The fact my very thick glasses (now replaced by very thin contact lens) testifies to. My tastes in books have probably changed a lot. I've been through the:

'Classic' Phase - When I would devour Austen after Austen....I still love reading her books..and using the quaint English expressions in speech and befuddling people!! Of course, Shakespeare and a few other Classic Authors fell into this category by compulsion, as they were prescribed in curriculum - but they got me hooked to discovering more of the series as well.

'Comic' Phase - Tinkle was my favorite-st train comic!! I would always secretly dream about writing to Uncle Pai and praising him to no end about the stories! While I've read dozens of Archie Comics and Tin Tins (which were never really comics, but a frozen motion picture in boxes), Tinkle has, and will always remain THE comic forever. :)

'Indian Author' Phase - When I discovered R.K.Narayan and he transported me to a world I would give my left hand to be a part of. Of course, Rohinton Mistry, Ruskin Bond, Vikram Seth, Shashi Deshpande and Anita Desai have all been an integral part of the books I love to read, but R.K.Narayan's entire collection will always hold a permanent membership in my mind library!

'Chick-lit' Phase - From Opal Mehta to The Zoya Factor, I've read them all. And someday, when my life gets as exciting as theirs, I will write one. Till then, I'll continue drawing inspiration from feisty chicks all over the world and devour their adventures.

'Romance Phase' - Yes, I read Mills and Boon, ok? There you go, I've admitted it on the world wide web. They are the BEST cure for my aerophobia, ok? At least, if my plane were to go down, I can imagine being rescued by the handsome pilot or co-passenger and live a happily ever after life, no?

'I should read this book because everyone else has read it Phase' - Uhh...Kite Runner, God of Small Things, Shantaram, Midnight's Children and all of Jhumpa Lahiri's works fall in this category. I know, I should've probably discovered these books myself. Having others forcing me to read the above titles have had me both cringing (whoever you are, who lauded GOST and made me read it, I will find you, hunt you down, and make you read my Mental Chronometry book. And test you on it.) and reading up more (like The Joy Luck Club - Amy Tan, inspired me to read Lahiri)

and finally, the 'Oh no, I have nothing new to read now, so I will just pick up the first Nancy Drew/Harry Potter/Famous Five and get right to it' Phase - The one phase I love slipping into every once in a while. :)

I've been bitten by the book bug, and I have a bibiliophilia. The one disorder I'd never like to be cured of!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Of Birds and Words

Delhi is a bird sanctuary. No really, it IS. Why don't you visit sometime and open your ears a little bit. (Point to be noted: Your ears are only effective when you have to study. That is when all the outside noises begin to percolate as clearly as coffee decoction through a sieve. But more on coffee, later.) But to defend my attention span, this particular episode happened at 2 in the morning. When most of the world is asleep. (Except you, Al! :D)

So, at around 2, when I was having a rather weird nightmare about being stuck as the only human in a University of Mars because I misspelled an address on an application.....I heard a thud. And then flutter flutter flutter. And a whooosh.....and ggrrrrruuumble.

I woke up with a sense of panic (thinking that the dream's come true and I really AM off to another planet to study) and looked around. All was calm. I then tried to shut my eyes and re-imagine the sound to check if it was for real or not. Within a second, the sounds began. My first thought was - the robbers have finally managed to turn up in the balcony (this is my ultimate nightmare....I think I've mentioned before that while ordinary girls have fantasies of finding Romeo on their balconies, I spend half my fantasy time concocting schemes to thwart plans of robbers who wish to come the same way. Weird, I know. ) And then it struck me that I'm at an impossibly high floor for even acrobatic robbers to try and meet me.

So Robber theory flew out of the window.

And then I saw a harmless pigeon sitting prettily on the A/C and cleaning herself.

At 2 AM.

Which obsessively compulsive aerial creature cleans itself at 2 in the morning? I mean, don't they need sleep? These pigeons are as active as springs on antidepressants in the morning. Can they not just go to sleep quietly? And if they must clean their shimmery plume of mini-feathers, must they choose MY balcony alone? (I'm using 'they', because eventually, a party happens on the A/C with almost 3-4 pigeons fighting for space and having vigorous 'I'm-cleaner-than-thou' competitions. And yes, at 2 AM)

I tried to go back to sleep that night (it's been happening almost every second the cosmos conspires to keep me up at unearthly hours. I mean, I'm this good child who goes to bed at, like, ten, if I can help it.) But the scraping and scratching and ruffling kept me up forever. Because you never know when a robber may use the pigeon as a decoy and just when I lower my guard, jump into the room through the balcony. Oh, impossibly high floor.

There goes my Robber-Theory No.2.

So anyway, my mood in the morning these days depends on birds. I've spotted some parrots, mynahs, crows and a suspicious looking bird that sounds like a jackdaw straight out of Blyton Books hovering around in my balcony early in the morning. I don't particularly mind them, as long as they keep the pigeons away. (These birds are rather anti-social. They never mingle with another kind, I've noticed.)

My neighbour, I realized, was not as obliging as I was regarding the pigeons. One afternoon, as I sat facing the window and writing something, I saw the window of the opposite building opening, a pistol sticking out and heard a gunshot. I ran all around home, warning people that a mad gunman was on the loose in the opposite building. And then I realized, it was a Diwali patakha gun. And was working very effectively on the pigeons as well...since they NEVER hang out on his balcony anymore.

So what do I do now? Adopt a parrot (but I'm against caging birds), buy myself a patakha gun (I'm against crackers as well) or just let them be (I'm against pigeonkind in general now.) I've finally found the perfect solution to everything.

November Rain.

Not the Guns N Roses song, no. (Of course, I wonder if I can play the song and terrorize the pigeons into insanity such that they never turn up on the balcony again. Ever. Little too mean, that would be.) I'm talking about November Showers. The rains that sweep winter in. The sole reason for the chills and foggy mornings. A perfect excuse to bundle yourself up in swathes of blankets and sleep like a log, pigeon or no pigeon, through the night.

Although, if you are the pigeon who comes to my balcony and are reading this blog (ha ha. One never ceases to hope), then can you please come at 7 in the morning as well? I' and I could really use an alarm flock of birds.

Friday, November 5, 2010

A Delightful Diwali

Oh dear. That sounds like a box of sweets, doesn't it? I know it does. But what can I do? In the past couple of days, I've been stuffing myself silly with cakes, sweets and everything with a sucrose overdose that I think it's only fair that I project the mithaas (see? Hindi word! Hindi word!) of the season on my blog as well!

So, it's Diwali! Why is it a unique Diwali this year and no other? Well, for lots of reasons.

1) It's my first Diwali away from home. Not like I'm wandering around, lost and uncared for or anything.....far from it. But still, away from home still leaves a tingly feeling that can only be combated with more sweets. (Works like a charm, believe me.) I never even knew I had such intense feelings about celebrating festivals at home! (Maybe those sweets are turning me into a portion of hindi-serial-melodrama)

2) Because it's a Diwali away from home, I've realized it's also become my Delhi Diwali. Bad idea, since when I went shopping for Diwali clothes, I didn't anticipate the sudden change of weather. I have with me, now, a very ethnic summer Diwali attire that can possibly NOT be worn unless one wants to land up with bronchitis (if the cracker-smoke hasn't yet affected you yet) just after Diwali. I need to now go in search of some sort of jacket/wrap/sweater right away....

3) Serial Lighting. Do you have any idea how much FUN it is to have serial lighting at home? Or twinkling around in other houses? I've always lit my house in Bangalore with diyas. First I'd help light the ones downstairs...then rush upstairs to light some more....then rush downstairs to capture it all on camera before the wind played spoilsport. But here, I've discovered a whole new and colourful diwali. Would you believe I still haven't seen any house with diyas yet? Only serial lighting! Has this been happening forever or do I miss my good ol' 39th Cross in Bangalore so much?

4) Crackers! Yes yes, if you're my friend you probably know my issue with crackers. If you're not, then here's the story. Almost 11 years ago, my class and I were made to write a letter to the then Prime Minister of India taking a pledge that we wouldn't burst crackers that diwali in order to protest against Child labour in fireworks factories. We were shown this video, pictures and told horrific stories of the plight of children there. We were even given little plaques that said 'Aatishbaazi nahin karenge, Baal-mazdoori door karenge' (We won't celebrate, Child-labour we'll eradicate --okay, I twisted the grammar to make it rhyme!) But anyway, I was moved to the extent that I actually did follow that pledge...till date.

I've burst crackers, yes. I've violated the pledge here and there (at the behest of my parents who would clandestinely buy a few sparklers and flowerpots and then disclaim that there's no one at home to burst I would politely oblige.) I've also done it voluntarily. And I don't mean just the sparklers, but all those dhadaam-dhodoom stuff as well. But each year, I'd feel like I wish I could tell the world why they must reduce cracker-usage and save the children, environment, their own ear drums and lung passages.

With this blog, I strangely feel empowered. That I can, in fact, tell the world. So, world! (or the miniscule part of it that reads my blog) Burst crackers, but please remember to check for an indication on the box that says it's been made by adult workers only (I know I can't be naive enough to assume that they're all true. But I can be naive enough to want to assume it.)
And burst less, celebrate more. It's the festival of lights, not sound and air pollution. Diyas and Serial lighting provide a much more quieter and serene feel to Diwali, than smoky crackers. (This is only for people who have crossed 20 years. Don't deny yourself the right to a crackling childhood by imposing self-restraints about calmness and sereneness ok? That'll just be plain weird.)

As you read this, I'm sure you'll have a million rebuttals waiting to burst forth....I can name some very effective ones on your behalf as well. But it is a stand I take, and something I really really believe in. And today, 11 years later, when I have the opportunity to put it up somewhere, I chose to. It's only personal, and gives me pride that I have the passion to fight for a cause too.

So here's wishing everyone a Delightful Diwali....may each of your lives be filled brilliant spots of fiery lights from lamps, and may every day have the warmth of all the lamps lit together, and may each encounter be as sweet as the mithais. :-)

P.S. But think about the child labour, sound and air pollution before you go forth and get crazy with crackers. Remember, it's you who has to live in that atmosphere for about 2-3 more days. But somewhere, there are children who are living in a far worse atmosphere through their childhood.

P.P.S. Sorry for sounding like such a such a sour-milk-ka-halwa. Go and enjoy. Just come back, read this, and feel guilty! :P

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Facebooked, line and sinker.

I'm falling hook, line and sinker into the depths of social networking sites. A bit late, you'd say? Since the train to social evolution started a couple of years ago and I seem to be boarding it on Indian Standard Time.

But what can I say? I just log in, snoop around my own homepage, log out and find other things to do. However, the past couple of months has made me intensely facebook savvy. And what have I learned from all of it?

FaceHOOK -- I've been taking those silly 10-questions-that-have-nothing-to-do-with-the-result-I'll-give-you quizzes and I'm hooked to the new aspects to my personality. (What my birthday means, Which Harry Potter Character I am, When I will meet my Prince Charming - incidentally, this Prince Charming application never even opened. *oops we cannot open this application* was the only message he sent me. Hmph.)

FaceBOND -- New aspects to other peoples' personalities. (Did you know my classmate from school was actually a seahorse in his previous life? Oh, and my friend's Italian name ought to have been Bona - which have meanings good -- and I'm using the exact grammar and spelling that was published.)

FaceSTALK -- Ok. So I have a problem with stalking/stalkers/stalkees/basically anything to do with a stalk. (including banana and lotus stalk...they make curry out of it and it tastes vile, I tell you. Absolutely vile.) And if you know me well, you know why I have a problem with stalking. But FB gives you a free license to stalk all you like anonymously. I'll admit I've used this license faaaar to many times to stalk that third cousin living it up in his 'abroad' university, or that friend of a friend of a friend who's friend was in my language class. Do I care about these people? Not really. But their completely lame privacy settings allows me a voyeuristic peek into their colourful lives. Of course, I know people might be doing the same to my profile (haha. Because I'm so fun on Facebook. I don't even know where I need to enter the 'Tell us something about yourself'). But if my profile was interesting, why would I be snooping around others' anyway?

(Oh, and a couple of months ago, this application was circulated that could tell you who exactly visited your profile and how many times. It scared me totally. I mean, I practically realized my friends list would be halved after they added the application. But it apparently was only a faux attempt at scaring fellow snoopers. Right? RIGHT?)

FaceLOOK! Pictures! It's all about the pictures. Who wore what and went where with whom is answered in all these pictures. They say a picture is worth a thousand words. For me, certain people's albums (again, bad privacy settings) is worth a couple of books - horror, comedy, drama - you name it. I can alphabetically stalk...ooops, I mean stock...them in a library for further entertainment.

FaceCROOK -- A major reason of my being an avid facebooker (dude, that makes me feel all shady and illegal like fixing profiles and betting on MafiaWars games or Emran Haashmi will whip out his cellphone and fix...uh...cast me for that Bookie movie-part II) So yes, back to the topic.....why Crook? Because all kinds of people exist in the big bad web. Phony people are the BEST. I mean, recently, a RAP artist became popular because he-DA-Man. Everyone added him/linked him/messaged others about him etc. While he was fantastic (and I don't mean his looks or sense of humor here), I realized, that it is an ideal platform to create a fake world, a fake identity and fool everyone into believing how awesome you could be. But then again, are you honest in your OWN profile?

FaceFEED -- While I'd love to associate this word with gooey chocolate cake, sadly, it reminds me of the millions of notifications that pop up on my homepage everytime I log in. So a long-lost classmate has updated his relationship status as single. Am I supposed to whoop or offer my condolences on the comments part? Another old friend has become friends with 25 more people. Am I supposed to be insecure, now that she has 25 more people to keep in touch with apart from me? I mean, I know I've added you as my friend. But if I really care about your life, Don't worry. I WILL STALK YOU. Can FB stop telling me what you're upto everysinglesecondminuteandhour of your life? (It's not your fault you have such a happening life. I just wish it was happening offline)

and finally, the crux of the matter FaceSTATUS -- The one-liner that inspired a whole new social networking forum. The one-liner that tells us all what you're upto, what you're thinking/eating/wearing/doing/laughing about/crying over/seeing/drawing....oh get the status.
For those who write really fun status updates...great! But my goldfish memory lets me down and I'm NEVER able to re-quote it. And for those who write all cryptic, I will not comment/like or try to decode it. I met you some 10 years back. I don't know what you even look like now (Ohwait, I do. refer FaceLOOK) so I'm not likely to understand what you mean anyway.

And yes. I tried and tried to write funny/experiential/catchy/tear-jerky/hilarious/intelligent/witty status messages...but they got interpreted all wrong. So I've just given up trying to tell the world about myself. If you care so much, just FaceSTALK (only if you're my friend. Muahaha...the one thing I DO know about Facebook is privacy settings)

So a bit late in realization (don't blame me. I was on two earlier Social sites and got off both with a bitter taste in the mouth for no fault of I've been wary this time around, ok?) but Facebook sure is addictive. But for fellow facebookers (haha...jump into the Haashmi-movie wagon), here's a FaceTIP -

DO NOT experiment with 'Relationship status'. If you were bored and you clicked on 'It's Complicated'. Facebook announces it to the WHOLEWIDEWEB that
'Vaishnavi is in a relationship and it's complicated.'(broken heart)

And then you realize what a social gaffe that could cause (since your mother and all her best friends are on your list), you frantically undo the damage and go back to having no relationship status. The result?

Vaishnavi is no longer in a complicated relationship (heart)


Aunty, if you're reading this and are a Facebook friend of mine, I'm single. Really.

Sunday, October 10, 2010


10 things I can't WAIT to get through.

(Okay, so that was supposed to be a take on 10 things I hate about you...but clearly, since I've had to explain it, either I've killed the punch, or you're re-reading the title to get the point.)

The tenth thing I have to get through is work
Even the Chocolate Muffins there aren't a perk
A couple of more months, and things will be fine
But that'll bring me to number nine

The ninth thing that I have to clear
And preferably by the end of the year
is My cupboard - which has room for but a splinter
Or else the woolens remain in the attic for winter.

And then comes my hurdle at number eight
The one thing that could probably seal my fate
My two years finding their way to culmination
The essence of my sanity - my Dissertation

Maybe if I managed to get through number seven
I'd really be in a 'curious tourist' heaven
To visit Jaipur, Manali and Shillong
and break out into a Maria-type song!

(Maria being the Sound-of Music-tra-la-la-in-high-octave-Maria)

And that would bring me to number six
To be able to cook without ready-to-eat mix
Edible enough for me to survive
So I can accomplish number five

Five places I absolutely need to see
in this CWGed spruced up New Delhi
To photograph and capture the city I adore
and work towards finishing number four

Eating would come at number four
where I'd like to eat, eat, and then some more
For this season brings with it Aloo Chaat
And immunity to experiment outside of Dilli Haat

The next one up should hopefully induce some Glee
as I set about learning to play number three
A muscial instrument to keep my mind off tune
From all the worries piling up to become a huge dune

I increase the music, go beyond gear number two
and explore the city on my car, that's what I'll do
before I decide to pay public transport a favour
and use my own road-rage as a life-saver.

But that will drive me to number one
which is a secret, won't tell ya till it's done
The jinx'll get broken, it won't come true
Then I won't have 10 things I have gotten through!

SO there you go. THIS is what happens when you put me in a room full of internet and think I will probably be angelically looking through information that would help me in my current/future life. I end up making mundane, narcissistic poetry that will probably not help me in accomplishing ANYTHING I've written about. But it's a date well spent. :-)

Friday, October 8, 2010

A Holiday in the Heart

I mean the Heart of the country, a clarification I need to make before your imagination swings into overdrive and you imagine romantic possibilities. Once again, the adventure bug bit the Glovelies and we set off to the heart of the country, Madhya Pradesh. Of course, the number was almost halved this time, thanks to Dengue and Dance Classes, but four of us set off to explore an underrated but breathtakingly serene city - Jabalpur.

When I say breathtakingly serene, those of you who have been to Jabalpur will probably not find it descriptive (but I'm guessing most of you haven't, so just take my word for it.)...but where we stayed was the epitome of serenity.....even the sparrow would think twice before chirping and breaking the hauntingly beautiful silence lurking around.

The glovelies are very patriotic. Thanks to the Psycho-mommy (who shall henceforth be referred to as Chotu....a rather endearing nickname we learnt during the course of our trip), we always end up getting the Army red carpet treatment wherever we go. And this time was no less. From black ambassadors with sirens to a beautiful bungalow and even more fantastic perks (which I'm not entirely sure can be revealed on the internet, so let's just call it the Border-Movie-styled-tour), our trip was nothing short of a royal journey through the heart of the country.

The Royal Journey began on wheels, as we elegantly stepped into the AC compartments of Jabalpur Express well within time (Generally, we follow the GMT - Glovely Mean Time, which runs 45 minutes behind schedule) and scouted for junk food in station stalls. Maybe the train guys had seen the amount of junk food we had piled on the seats....or maybe they just assumed we were on a 'diet', they conveniently forgot to ask us if we needed to order dinner. After high pitched squeals from four insanely hungry girls, the attendants ran helter skelter and produced dinner from nowhere. Before we knew it, we were chugging along the Chambal Ravines, thus dismissing my two most arbitrary but dangerous presumptions:
1) Phoolan Devi's cousins or other daakoos do not enter random compartments while in the Chambal Valley with lanterns and loot you.
2) Your luggage can be kept below the seat without the possibility of it getting stolen at some station followed by a high speed ( running speed, that is) chase sequence across tracks.

Our destination was reached in no time (partly due to the deep slumber we all fell into after having overdosed on Matthew McCaughney movies.) and two shiny black ambassadors with gleaming red sirens awaited us at the station! Clamping upon the urge to burst into an impromptu salute at the driver bhaiyas, we made our way in a somewhat civilized manner to the house. The first day was spent in admiring the house, the gardens, the flowers, the vegetable patches, the swing, the front porch - all while slowly devouring the months' rations in Chotu's house. (Really, there's something about going home and being hungry all the time!)

The evening was heralded with our splendid idea of having an impromptu girls night out. This constituted LBDs, lots of prancing around (I'd like to call it walking elegantly, but we did look like deer on beer) and a gazillion pictures of us, the world and us with the world. After a rather exciting day that stretched about as far as 1km from the house, we fell back into the deep slumber in anticipation of a long picnic the next day.

Sure enough, the next day was let's explore Jabalpur! day. We set off early, with a nice desi Enid Blyton style picnic hamper to Barghi Dam and Bhedaghat. Barghi Dam is surrounded by the Narmada River catchment. Of course, from no angle does it look like a river. To me, it was like an endless sea.....separated here and there by little isles. A ride on the river confirmed that it did have another bank...some 45 minutes away. Slightly off-colour but very deep and tranquil, the Narmada river is something else altogether. I could just settle on one of those isles forever and write a book or something (someone please keep sending food, though.).

An awestruck boatride later, we tucked into our childish Enid Blyton picnic hamper fantasies and ate in a field surrounded by tall ferns and grassy lawns......with a cow here and there. I'm not kidding...I almost felt like going 'Gosh! Isn't this the most spiffy place ever!' in typical Julian-George-Dick-Anne style. A nice meal later, we set off to Bhedaghat.

Now ordinarily, Bhedaghat is like a marble mini-replica of the Grand Canyon (it really is, just undiscovered and clandestine), but this year, thanks to the surplus rainfalls, it looked as if the Grand Canyon was overflowing a little bit, and hence boating around the area was strictly banned. While that meant we wouldn't be able to have a personal rendezvous with the river, we nonetheless climbed over the barricade a few feet away from the torrential waterfall and became all tra la la with our ankles in the gushing Narmada. Clearly, not the wisest thing to have done (as I see the pictures and realize how close we were to danger), but oh well, we're Glovelies. We never do the wisest thing anyway - it's simply not our style!

Another highlight of Bhedaghat was the Gondola Ride! Now, like you, I expected a cruise along a quiet rivulet with a boatsman singing melodiously and a Venice-like experience. However, it turns out that a Gondola in India (and perhaps elsewhere too) is a cable car. So cruise we did, about 100 feet above the angry river, sliding dangerously at junctions and providing a panoramic view of the entire waterfalls. Through the ride, I alternated between oh-my-god-the-cables-will-snap-and-we'll-go-hug-Narmada and Oh-my-god-I-should-stop-thinking-and-just-enjoy-the-spellbinding-view.

I chose the latter option and did take in the spectacular view. Words or Pictures can never do justice to the real thing. The waterfall splashed angrily across delicately carved marble rocks as thousands of little droplets replicated the similar fury and splashed across our awestruck faces. Multiple rainbows sprung like welcoming arches, stretching across the marble banks.

The drive back was rather subdued, as the tired lot trooped in, ate dinner and just fell on the beds like logs of wood. The next day consisted entirely of our Border-Styled-Tour (Classified information!) Let me just say that I had the opportunity to do something uber-cool and macho. (If we've met in the past couple of weeks, you'll know what!) After a dash back home to pack up the mess we'd created in Chotu's room, we rushed off to the station and bid adieu to the heart of the country, a silent haven of beauty, serenity and an old-world charm.

Few things that will always act as cues to open a cupboard full of memories ---> Aunty's yummy homemade frothy cappuccino, ALL the khaana (a special call out to the Kadi Chawal - you rock!), our train ride back - The going forward-going backward-going forward-going backward journey of the Gondwana express (seriously, if I knew it was going to have so many engine changes, I'd have chosen to just sit on a rocking chair.), the fun cycle ride across the Cantt area, the late night stroll in the pet snake's territory, the girls' night out!, Maiyya's brilliant photography, I-M's husband-wife banter (Chotu, if you're reading this ----you know what we're thinking!!) and the reluctance in letting go of the journey as the train chugged into Hazrat Nizammudin one early morning.

All in all, another Glovely Adventure that has been printed on this blog and will be earmarked for years to come. Oh! What did we bring back from Jabalpur? Lots and lots of sunshine! It hasn't rained in Delhi since!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Floods of Fools

Pick up the remote and watch any hindi news channel PRONTO! If you happen to read this within 2 weeks of my having written it, then you may be one of the lucky viewers to get a glimpse of sensational journalism at its extreme sense!! (I'm guessing 2 weeks is as fas as they'll take the news...but it may take longer, you never know)

The Yamuna is flooding Delhi, and all low lying areas are being evacuated. While this is grim news for the villages and the little shanky-towns lying by the underbelly of Delhi, the rest of the city is being shown this piece of news as a farce. How? Well, a Hindi news channel showed a reporter (IN THE STUDIO) drowning in 3 feet deep water (IN THE STUDIO) as she was broadcasting the news (IN THE STUDIO).

Why do I keep emphasizing IN THE STUDIO? Because this entire Cartoon Network meets Titanic coverage of the floods was done with special effects as bright blue water kept flowing over the reporter who seemed high and dry. I cannot even begin to think about the IQ of people who concocted this evil plan to thwart decent and dignified reporting. James Cameron did a better job with the water and a ship, if you ask me. At least they could've got the colour of the Yamuna right (and this isn't a slur against its dirt...which it ought to be sometime...but all rivers are murky brown). Bright blue Yamuna? Is it just one big mirror reflecting the sky's colour? (Not that the sky is blue these days, either)

So catch it if you can, and you will be, like me, one of the many millions who fell for the gimmick and increased their TRPs. Increased TRPs would mean more ludicrous productions of news. To quote two very wise radio jockeys (who are my companions on my morning drives) "If the News people would like to see the floods recede and the traffic subside, then they would do well to uhm... remove their gigantic vans and equipment from the bridge they stand on. They end up blocking effective movement of daily life and hoping against hope that the water rises by 0.01 mts so they can IMMEDIATELY BROADCAST IT LIVE FROM THE FLOODING VENUE."

Think about the people who once lived there. Of the houses that now need to be re-built because of the floods, of the Marks cards that have been washed away, the clothes that have begun to decay and the food that can now never be eaten. The homes that will now bear a coat of the Yamuna, once she resides. Think about them now, before you switch on that news channel. Chances are that once you switch the channel on, you'll lose the capacity to think.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

The First Step..

Picture this. A small, chubby eleven year old girl in a mismatched uniform in the office of a gigantic school. Children walk past her, chattering away happily, as she sits awkwardly on a chair, fiddling with her new school bag and feeling more lost than someone with Dissociative Amnesia. She waits for someone, anyone to tell her where she's supposed to belong in this sea of students in a completely unfamiliar city in the middle of a school term. A group of teachers walk past her, assuming her to be a wallflower. But one lady notices her. The girl feels a tap on her shoulder and turns around, the kind lady smiles at her. The lady asks the girl her name and age. She then asks the girl to follow her and enter 6-B, the class she teaches. She introduces the girl to the class, gives her a smile and begins work for the day. For the teacher, it is a small gesture of attention. For the girl, it is the first step.

Thank you, Revati ma'am. For giving me the confidence to enter my first step into a new city, a new life. I may not remember much about the continents of Africa and the Americas, but I will never forget my first day in Bangalore, and how easy you made it for me. (You'll probably not be reading this, but I had given myself 10 minutes more that day. If no one had realized that I was a new student and was waiting for any teacher to acknowledge me, I would have run away from school and somehow found a way to go back to Delhi and continue with my old life there.)

Teachers are the first handrail one grabs before climbing the stairs. They stay with you till the end of the stairs, and expect you to make the journey on the next floor by yourself. Until you reach the next flight of stairs. I have probably not considered all my teachers 'special', but the person I am is largely due to the teachers I had. So today, this is a humble thank you, to all the unspoken heroines (mostly) of my life.

Thank you, Mrs.Jain, Mrs. Bannerjee, Mrs. Roy and Mrs. Anand for making my first years in Delhi so special. And instilling the ability to lead (haha, I was the Head Girl of the junior school - a post I exploited quite well, thanks.), the ability to express myself and to question anything that doesn't feel right.

Thank you, all my teachers at Kumarans. If I were to start writing all your names here, I'd probably need the school magazine and a couple of spare hours! Thank you English teachers, for critiquing and moulding my writing, thank you Maths teachers (I love the subject, and I'm sure a large part of the credit goes to you guys), thank you Science teachers (for actually making sure I understood 'application based problems'....sigh) , thank you Social Studies teachers (I DID love the subject. Honest. But mostly after I had finished my 10th bored exams!) and a special thank you to Sanskrit Sir - your classes were the *best* (and I learnt a fair amount of Sanskrit in the process as well!)

As a child, I always secretly wanted to be a teacher. More precisely, a librarian. Not the mean sort, who give you pincer stares and grab the book you're holding, enter the code and shove it back into your hands....but more the sort who would read out stories, encourage children to pick interesting books and spend all her free time re-reading Blyton, Dahl and Montgomery books. (of course, this ambition of mine was always hidden beneath the cloak of 'I want to be a neurosurgeon-forensic psychologist-mystery writer-television journalist-radio jockey-hostess of a travel/cookery show'.

And if school planted the seed of wanting to teach, then college just nurtured it further. MCC exposed me to a spectrum of teachers who have the scary and forbearing task of shaping the future of girls. And some who played a special part in shaping my future need to be thanked. So thank you Mrs.V (you were Miss.V when you started teaching us!), Mrs. P and Mr.R - for being the coolest Journalism teachers and showing us the gloss and grime of media. A HUGE thank you to all the psychology teachers - simply because I'm pursuing the same subject, and I wouldn't have had the confidence to do so, had I not been taught well enough to pique my interest in it. Thanks, Mrs.Matthew, for incorporating Greek Mythology so flawlessly into otherwise mundane Literature classes.

Someday, I'll make my ambition of being a teacher come true. While there's a part of me that believes that almost everyone is a teacher in some way or the other, the aura that the lady with an attendance register, a couple of haphazard notes and a firm glare that can instantly melt into a smile exudes is a class apart (pun intended). The first step determines a new journey and unknown adventures. And what better profession than to be a mentor for taking that step?

Thank you. :-)

Saturday, September 4, 2010

A Platinum Post

So my blog has reached 75 posts! No ordinary feat, I tell you. Since it takes me immense will power to get out of a book/TV and log into this thing. Odd, as I generally jump at the opportunity of talking about myself.

And what does one write in their 75th post? Well, I can think of many many topics.....and of course all pertaining to me.....but I figured I should try and think about others for a change. A healthy break from narcissism is essential, don't you think? So with this 75th post, let me try and figure out other things....which probably will all come back in a murukku (a twisty turny south indian snack. Go see the Haldiram version, if you're still confused) fashion to my life somehow. But oh well, the word narcissism can take a break, I won't.

When Facebook asks you 'What's on your mind?' everytime you log in, do you ever stop to think about it? I suddenly have. I obviously don't update every single 'What's on your mind?' as a status message, but it makes me wonder nonetheless. And off late, a LOT has been on my mind. Here are just a few:

Our friend, Aedes has decided to settle down in the dark and dingy corners of the city and meet and greet us every morning. But stop blaming the MCD and clear out that water residing in your old tyre in the balcony. The mosquitoes at the CWG sites will not travel miles to come bite you at your residence. But new ones will certainly thrive in the water park you have created for them at your house. So clean out your neighbourhood first, and then protect yourself while venturing out.

Another person earning almost as much ridicule as Aedes is A R Rahman. For the CWG anthem. It is nice, ok? So it needs a patient listening, maybe a couple of times to let the song grow on you. But the claims about it being the most uncreative song and uninspired with lousy lyrics is rather uncalled for. Take one glance at the mess created in Delhi, and then please tell me WHO can get inspired to produce a grammy-winning song? But that said, the stadiums do look pretty fabulous and people like the construction workers and traffic policemen are really working hard to try and salvage the games. I tip my waterproof, mosquito repelling hat to them and hope with a jingoistic fervor that the games become a success....they deserve it.

The Metro connects us to Gurgaon!! Is it weird that I was as excited as a three year old on a Cotton Candy eating spree when I saw the Metro rolling into a swanky new station? One of the many things about Delhi that gives me goosebumps..... (Chandni Chowk, Old monuments and endless tree lined walkways are some other)

I miss Bangalore. Does that make any sense after having talked so much about Delhi? Well, it does to me. Last night, I had a dream about eating cake fudge in Corner House Basavangudi. Odd, since I've never been to that Corner House before. Cake Fudge, Benne Masala Dosas, Lalbagh walks, Sugarcane Juice, My trusty old 27D, lots of elneerus and just great times. I sometimes feel like rewinding these two years and going back to my college days, just to re-do everything and then come back to the present. Oh well, maybe I'll fall in love with a new city this time next year.

Harry Potter. I've rediscovered Harry Potter. And fallen back in love with him. I just completed the seventh book all over again and found another new piece of information that solves the already solved mystery. Harry Potter is best read the fiftieth time. I have always read the books the first time with such a childish curiosity to know the end that I've missed the vital parts altogether. Re-reading it ages later brings back everything and ties it up like a neatly wrapped birthday present. If you're feeling low or bored, picking up the nearest Harry Potter can absorb you and keep you in a parallel world for at least a couple of days. Perfect escapist route, if you ask me.

School. I realized that I've almost never mentioned my school on this blog before. It's always been a never ending commentary on everything but school. I met up with an old friend online and as we reminisced about things long gone, it made me realize how much I liked school. Running to catch the last seat in the school bus....entering late to assembly (because our L van lived up to its alphabet - being Late and Lazy).... checking shoes and nails of poor unsuspecting little kids..... trying (and failing miserably) to play volleyball in Games Period...eating hot plates of BisiBeleBath from the beautiful canteen....the fervor that Nestle Chocostick created when it was introduced...sitting on the grand steps and chatting away nineteen to a dozen...bunking class to go do SEEK work...waiting eagerly for events like Teacher's Day and then realizing that you have no ethnic wear in your jeans-infested wardrobe so rushing out on 4th evening to buy one....and finally, the friends I made. Almost everyone is now out of the city, if not the country....but I think my school deserves some posterity on this page...and hence it figures in my platinum post.

Oh well...there are so many other things I want to write about. How bad parenting is ruining the lives of the children I meet everyday, How the media is sensationalizing something as trivial as Tharoor's pilgrimage, How Gmail's new priority inbox has grouped random people under my priority list for no apparent reason and How I have a stack of British Council books waiting to be read but I've chosen to blog instead. Since the last option is the only one I can work on, I'll get right to it.

75 posts to mark my *dhai* years of journey on the cyberspace. I've blogged from four cities, and here's hoping that by the next 75 posts, I can go a little more global about my outlook on bizarre things in life or is that bizarre outlook about things in life?

Saturday, August 21, 2010

A Relationship with Rain

We now resemble the Leaky Cauldron. More like standing beneath a Leaky Cauldron. The skies are suffering from a spell of Major Depressive Disorder. They have been crying for over 2 weeks with no respite....and I have a weird feeling I'm turning into an amphibian.

But I've recently discovered that I'm in a relationship with the rain. And it's complicated. (and I swear I am not repeating Himesh Reshammiya's dialogue from some movie. But it does sound eerily familiar.) So this Rain dude and I, we got along brilliantly the first couple of days. Eating spicy chaats, cold ice-cream, drives in the drizzle, staring at him through the window et al. But now he's getting to my nerves. Like quite literally, since I've been getting soaked everyday. So after tolerating him for over a fortnight, I've decided not to care anymore. And have fun DESPITE the endless tears he pours forth from the skies.

By doing what, you may ask?

Well, the first thing one ought to do in Delhi Rains is to get into a Bus. Not the bluelines, but one of those swanky low floored green buses. Not A/C either (because that's like sitting in an ice box). Just a fun looking empty green bus. Get into any one. And then solemnly ask the conductor where the bus goes to. If you're lucky (like I was), your bus will go all the way to Noida.

So find yourself a nice seat and begin the Dilli Darshan in the Drizzle. It's perfect, since the rain doesn't really enter but you still get a spray every now and then. And then you begin the most important activity. Observation.

Observe the young man sitting across the aisle. He is wearing earphones and listening to a song. He starts singing. Loudly and out of tune, but very gustily, I must add. He's closed his eyes and his giving his Emmy-worthy performance for an otherwise dull and gloomy crowd. A smile creeps up on one face at one corner and starts spreading soon like an infectious disease. Soon, the full bus is smiling. Reason? He's belting out 'Bheegi see...Bhaagi see...mere tuuunaaaoon mein samaye' (if you've heard the original song, you'll know that the tuuunaaaoon doesn't exist. This is what our Budding Burman makes up because he couldn't catch the actual word.)

Look out of the window now. You're at a higher altitude, and this doubles the powers of observation. Look at the cars slushing by you and trying to avoid the slush created by the adjacent car. (A warning: Don't look TOO inquisitively. The driver often gets mistakes your completely harmless interest for a potentially lethal one.) You may see the happy family riding in the happy car. The husband is looking at the graffiti on the flyover (Jaaaniya I love you....plzzz forgive me) as if it is the latest iPhone. The wife is looking at the wife of the next car and wondering why she's wearing a circus tent. The child is sleeping with a Pooh bear pillow. The mother-in-law is grimacing about the Delhi of today and trying very hard to enter a subconscious world of Delhi in the yesteryears. These expressions don't change for the next 7 kms.

You (or rather the bus) moves on. Finally, it begins the dream ride on the DND flyway. (for non Delhi-ites, this road connects Delhi to Noida and is beautiful...since it's across fields and the Yamuna bank with the river flowing somewhere inconspicuously.) You look at a large water body and realize that it's the Yamuna. She's fattened up and how! You wonder if people would mind if you stick your head out and soak in the rivery smell. You then see the window bars and realize that your bighead might not make it back inside. So you settle for a delicate whiff.

Finally, you reach Noida. You randomly get off on some stop because you can see a mall. With brilliant culinary opportunities. You rush to the place after crossing two main roads, and enter air-conditioned retail heaven. You eat your fill and then some. You then get out and try to find a way back home. You're told to ask bus drivers if the bus goes to Delhi. Suddenly, you feel like a foreigner. You nevertheless find yourself on a nice bus and zoom back home in twenty minutes. As you walk back from the stop, you feel yourself grinning from ear to ear.

Maybe being in a relationship with rain isn't so bad after all!

(And I PROMISE this will be the last of my weather related posts. I mean, I've written so many about the Summer/Winter already, that this is now resembling a weather forecast, rather than literary catharsis. No more, I swear.)

Saturday, August 14, 2010

The Alphabet Avalanche

Have you read the story of the Alphabet Soup? It is about a little boy who loved food more than study (hm..I wonder why). So his mother cooked up (pun intended) this brilliant idea of serving him alphabet soup, that could help him learn while eating.

I want Alphabet Soup. Something that would help me learn while eating (since Eating is a rather over-regular habit of mine) But more than that, my brain currently feels like an Alphabet Soup - overloaded with letters, words, phrases, sentences, whole paragraphs and texts. I suppose it's what happens if you get branded as a geek (Hey, I'm happy to be one ok?) But it is finally turning against me.

Too many alphabets in the mind, and too little time to sort it all out. Each alphabet has become an abbreviation for a much larger topic and they're all swirling and tumbling out like an avalanche. The best way to get it all out is to write it somewhere. And since I have finally reached a stage where I type almost ten times faster than I write, I figured this place would be the best to let the dam burst and bring forth all the alphabets.

So, just for my own purely narcissistic incomprehensible catharsis, here goes:


It isn't a code. It isn't cryptic in any way. It's just a way of getting my frustration out on my keyboard and onto the screen. Suddenly, my mind feels less jumbled, less complicated. Try it, it may not make your hair shinier or skin fairer, but it will definitely make you feel lighter.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Bhel Puri.

This post resembles one. A mix of tangy, sweet and sour days that constituted these past couple of weeks.

Firstly, I've graduated!!!! Yay! (Okay, so I missed my convocation, and haven't seen my degree certificate but the fact that I have a degree certificate lying somewhere with my name on it is good enough, thankyouverymuch.) It's taken a year for us to get it though. The enthusiasm doesn't seem to be as high as it was on our 'graduation' day, but still. It feels good to hold a Beeyay degree! (For further reference on how much this Beeyay degree matters to me, kindly read up the Beeyay trilogy - one for each year of my Beeyay - Beeyay I , Beeyay II and Beeyay III)

I'm working on a Yemmay (MA) post soon too. Just haven't found enough people to make me indignant enough for it, which may be a good thing - I guess education does earn you respect.

And then there was Friendship Day. Remember how we'd all make friendship bands in school? And then tie them to 'only our close friends' and compare it with others to see who had the maximum on their hands. Somehow, I never really believed in the 'Friendship's Day' idea. Not because I think I everyday is a friendship day or any of that jazz. But more because it forced me to tie bands on only certain people. I mean, how long would those bands last anyway? (I've saved some and used them to tie on my baggage for easy identification) Do you still have the bands people gave you in school? Or even better, do you remember which band was given by whom?

So Friendship is more than just a band (unless you're in the cast of Kuch Kuch Hota Hai). My friends today are scattered far and wide, and we may not really message one another on this day, but are still close enough to be able to message any day, at any time, without giving it a second thought. That's what truly matters, I guess.

Friendship is when you feel so low that you just send a sad smiley to your friend sitting cities apart and she immediately sends one back and calls.

It is when you're struggling to reverse your car, and your friends are standing behind you, glaring at anyone who dares honks at you (including noting their license number...and bothering to remember it hours later!).

It is when you really want to eat an ice-cream at this parlour and you're so sure it was designed for romantic couples, but your friends insist on you trying it out anyway, and grab spoons along with you and attack it with a gusto that would've put soldiers of the World Wars to shame.

It is when you know that if you go online, there's always a friend waiting to share their day with you, to hear out yours, and discuss everything under the sun and beyond.

So cheers to the new age friendships - that don't need bands or vows to reaffirm the connection.

Okay, after all the mush, let's turn to slush. Last week, I waded through the slush to land up at Karol Bagh. Brilliant place it is! Like the Punjabi T.Nagar-land! The beautiful beautiful clothes there brought out a sigh from even a tomboyish cynic like me! (I only have one 'beautiful clothes', prove the tomboyish cynic jibe.)

And it has been raining all day all week. It started off by being very romantic (and I mean this in the connotation of relating with nature, not love), and now it has turned plain boring. I mean, everyday? Enough, ok? Delhi, please dry up your tears and bring forth sunshine. You washed away your summer grime very well.

Oh, and have you all been reading about the Commonwealth Games? We're all proof to how much the progress really is. I shudder to think how it'll all be completed. It's like a ghastly assignment that's due in a week's time and you've no idea how to go about it. Let's just hope they do know how to go about it, and will do it. Each day seems like a stab on their report card, and makes even people like me follow the reports anxiously, wondering how our country will be able to pull it off. It's turning me into a Jingoist, and how.

So these past couple of days was truly a Bhel Puri. Since I cannot eat it (do you know how lethal it is to eat anything raw from outside, especially in Typhoid-Jaundice ridden Monsoon in Delhi?) I figured I'd metaphorically use it to convert yet another self-obsessed bunch of thoughts into a blog post. :-)

Friday, July 23, 2010

The Sun Sets on Summer

Two months have passed, and how. If you were to ask me (since I tend to make you ask me ridiculously hypothetical questions on this blog) where I'd spend my summer, I'd promptly reply 'Anywhere but in Delhi, thanks.' And since my life is basically a null hypothesis, where the opposite is always proven right, I did end up spending a scorching summer in Delhi. Which would explain the nostalgic weather posts, I suppose. Well, the experience was totally worth the weather....or so I tell myself in order to dive deeper into denial.

The good part is that I got to see a side of Delhi I never ventured to explore. The buses. Ever tried getting into a DTC bus, mate? Try it. It's awesome. And after you return from the orthopedic ward, tell me ALL about it. But no seriously. I spent two days driving back and forth from work, endured traffic jams, tyre punctures and road rage. Then I decided to give the car a rest and try the bus instead. Worked like a charm. Well, almost, since I spent a fair amount of time tripping down the stairs, elbowing people out of the way, grabbing a seat..the usual stuff. But the view from up there is great! (and I'm generally sensitive about views. All short people are.)

My Hindi improved drastically. So now I actually say something and the other person understands what I'm saying. And if you were to randomly ask me the time at 1.30 in the night, I will now mutter Dedh Baje rather than Saade Ek. Remarkable improvement, wouldn't you say?

I'm more comfortable flying. Yes, because I've suddenly sprouted wings and decided to test them cross country. (Sunsets on Summers does wonders to my depleting Sarcasm Levels.) So in the past two months, I've gone back and forth from home and realized it's not half bad. That would be because my recent flight included a snack of Paneer and a video of Veer. They rhymed to torture me, I suppose...but it did take my mind off flying and focus on lousy in-flight food and entertainment.

I've finally realized the value of 'Home'. Lounging on your couch and watching TV all day, drinking Chocolate Milkshake and leaving the glass below the couch knowing that it would be gone in an hour. Taking small things like wet towels and strewn socks for granted. Having your say in the menu of the day (okay, my mom refused my dream menu of Potatoes for breakfast, Potatoes for lunch and Potatoes for dinner...and after making a mess of the house in two days, I was ordered to pick up after myself as well....but you get the drift.)

So yes, Summer has been a good teacher. Not just in understanding how all my undergraduate and graduate textbooks have transformed into real people and cases, but also in managing a work+home schedule, travelling to far away places in buses, handling car malfunctions, bearing the weather, irate people and crying children. The Sun Sets on my Summer, and will soon rise on a new beginning. (That almost sounds like I've ripped it off a song from High School Musical - I really do need to work on better conclusions.)

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Of Whims and Pansies.

I've never reviewed a movie on my blog. And for good reason, because I like every movie I watch. So technically, I should be given commission by the distributors for reviewing their movies because I will invariably write a glowing review. Not a very good, objective journalist, no. But it works for me, because every movie becomes a delightful experience.

The best kind of movies are those that you end up watching on a whim. (Okay, so I had planned on watching this one since forever...but something kept turning up to thwart the plan...and I had almost given up for good when a sudden let-off from work inspired a bunch of us to run to the next available show.)

And yes, I was trying to 'up my cool quotient' (courtesy Sneha) by not mentioning the name of the movie...but I guess it would be out eventually. I was clamouring so vehemently to go watch I Hate Luv Storys. Which I really don't. Hate Love stories, I mean. However, I do hate intentionally erred grammar, but that was forgiven when I saw Imran Khan's beatific smile on those huge posters everywhere.

So yes, it began with that let off (my story, not the movie.) One moment we were trying our best to calculate IQs and DQs and SQs and the next moment we were sent off politely to enjoy the rest of the day. After frantic phone-calls to those who live near newspapers, we found one theatre showing the movie within 20 minutes. Without wasting any time, we hopped on to an auto (actually, we did waste time trying to find an A/C bus....but in vain. One day I will personally vandalize 724 and change every damn bus to numbers of MY choice. I only see the A/C versions of that one bus.) and ran to Connaught Place.

Have I mentioned Connaught Place before? The place I used to love to visit, because of the many 'hurring' opportunities, because of the brightly hued clothes, baubles and shoes lining streets, because of the radials that seem to merge into each other, every step being a new one even after you've walked around for hours. So yes, fun experience.....WAS.

Today, it lies choking amidst the dust emanating from the non-existent footpaths. The pillars are on crutches and roads cease to exist between the radials. Which would explain why our seemingly congenial auto-bhaiya stopped in front of Janpath resolutely and refused to budge. We started our mini-trek amidst the debris to reach PVR Plaza. After crossing many radials, and almost getting steamrollered by a bulldozer (no really, because we kept trudging along the muddy-slushy path without bothering to look up and see that 15 foot monster glaring at us.)

We reached the first building that resembled a multiplex and demanded tickets for the 2.50 show. No can do, we were told, since a 2.50 show didn't exist at Plaza. We cursed wrongly printed time-tables in newspapers until it struck us, to um....I don't know, maybe read the name of the multiplex we were standing in. (really, we HAVE to look up once in a while....bulldozers, wrong multiplexes...everything evades us.) It took us about a millisecond to realize that a 2.50 show does exist in the Plaza, except we weren't there. And it was 2.45. So we began another dash through the radials to search for Plaza.

A couple of very frustrating, sweaty, muddy and hunger-filled moments later, we found ourselves in plush seats, surrounded by popcorn and air conditioning. The movie finally began.

So how was it? Well, I *loved* it. The songs, clothes (including a particular shirtless protagonist ;-) ), the acting, the jokes, everything. It makes for good entertainment. And since I'm a sucker for love stories (and my room is pink), this is one movie people have made with credulous pansies like me in mind.

So the best way to watch a movie is on a whim. Plan everything in advance, and you'll end up expecting too much. Just take the next available means of transport to a theatre and watch the first movie playing, and you'll walk back home in the drizzle with a smile. Or at least, I did.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

I've Heard That Song Before...

'I've heard that Song before' ..did you know that's the title of a rather creepy Mary Higgins Clark book? But it is also a phrase that's been going over and over my mind lately. (and is in ABSOLUTELY no way related to Higgins Clark...who by the way, is the author of some pretty fantastic psychological thrillers.)

So anyway, like every other post, I digress from the topic, getting carried away by an allegorical title. Hm. So when was the last time you happened to channel surf on the radio and catch an English Song from way long ago?

Today I heard 'November Rain' by Guns N' Roses. Blame it on the weather (it was actually raining today...and I don't mean the paltry tears of pity.....but more like how my house gets flooded when I read books like 'A Walk to Remember'.

Took me back to school memories. (And no, I'm not that old. Just some memories with the song.) And it got me I've loved one genre of music at various stages of my not very old life.

Remember Aqua? Those neon-fuschia haired people who looked like they were perpetually inebriated on psychedelic colours and weird lyrics? They sang that noxious Barbie Girl song. (now I call it noxious...back then I knew the entire song by heart and would go HAW when the undress me everywhere part would come) They were the Coolest! (Back then.)

And then came, of course BoyBands. Yes yes. I've also drooled over Nick Carter at some point in my life. And bought the BackStreet Boys cassette just to have a record of his photograph. Songs like 'I want it that Way' and 'Show me the meaning of being lonely' were, like, soulful. Or whatever. I've never somehow felt that miserable in life to sing Backstreet boys songs to myself. Then and now. Thank god.

I even tried experimenting with Rock and Metal and all those non-breakable types of music. St.Anger, was it? Where prisoners beat food plates and sing in some frenzy? And that Linkin Park song? Where the whole song happens underwater, and you come to know right at the end when a fish goes gurgling by? Very interesting videos. Songs were catchy too. I remember narrating the video of Guns N' Roses 'November Rain' to a friend of mine. She burst out laughing at the whole wedding-funeral lachrymose. But when I told her the name of the song....she had this awed look. So I eventually realized. The more ludicrous the video, the more popular the song. How else can one explain Thriller?

Oh, and then there was that Avril Lavigne stage. Oh Dear. I don't like thinking about it. I'd sing 'Complicated' at the drop of a hat. It was so bad that if I were to assess the Passing through the Avril Stage version of myself, I'd diagnose Cyclothymia. (milder version of Bipolar Disorder). And then came Evanescence with the pseudo-head banging routine (which has nothing to do with the song's video....but more to do with look I can appreciate clanging music and follow its rhythm.)

Who can forget School/College fests with Summer of '69 and Zombie? They've been played at every fest I've attended. Every. Like an anthem of sorts. Even now when I hear those songs, my mind goes into reverse gear and takes me back to then.

So isn't it funny how every song can remind you of something or the other? I've cast my iPod (which I gave my dad actually, who, in a fit of enthusiasm, filled all the memory with songs from Sinatra, Simon and Garfunkle, Beatles, Eagles, Abba etc etc. Ancestral but brilliant music-makers.) away for my dysfunctional Mp3 player just because it plays the radio. So I can listen to English songs that spurt out spontaneously, and not from a rehearsed shuffle pattern. So I can dream on with every song I've heard before.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Bharta of the Brain

A Bharta is a dish of burnt brinjal. It is roasted over a slow flame until the skin is completely charred, and then cooked into a dish. In this scorching summer, I feel pretty much the same. And no, this is not *another* rant about the weather. It is a nice, quaint, petite collection of minuscule things that make me feel like, well...uhm....MAKING A BHARTA OF THIS WORLD.

The other day, I had the misfortune to fall ill and sleep on the couch and watch TV all weekend. Big Mistake. After watching a million reruns of Castle (I will hunt down Richard Castle and marry him someday, yessirree.) and 90210 (What? I was sick ok? I have the right to watch it.) and Scrubs and every other possible show on Star World, I finally found the remote and changed the channel to watch something in Hindi. I figured I would be able to improve my hindi in some way, and not scandalize my poor unsuspecting patients by asking them ridiculously worded questions.

So I put this channel. And this serial is coming. The woman is yelling at her daughter-in-law. After some 20 minutes of yelling, I realize that she's gotten her son married only so that she could find an object of torture on which she can displace her forty odd years of marital frustration. The poor girl gets yelled at for cooking well because this Hitler incarnate feels that this harmless person is trying to usurp her position in the family. By cooking theplas, apparently.

Before I have time to react, another serial begins. (Most hindi serials are 20 minutes of torture and 10 minutes of advertisements) In this one, two 15 year old children are married. *Married*. And the Mother casually asks her older (unmarried) daughter on the phone, 'Beta, we're getting the kids married..can you come early from college today?'

Remember when Baalika Vadhu came out and everyone hailed it as something that would break conventions, stereotypes and expose the rural India's fatalistic beliefs? Well, not exactly. Since the protagonist of that serial is now seen enjoying her 'marital' life by running around the house in pretty clothes, worrying about how much salt to add to the khaana and if her husband is well supplied with his daily dose of jalebis. So much for female empowerment.

Has the portrayal of a woman deteriorated so much in Hindi Serials? Show me one soap where the woman is hailed for being, well, just who she is - a normal person...and I'll show you failed TRPs. Almost everything that comes on TV domesticates the woman like a household cat, which just needs to preen and occasionally purr at people. If the woman is working, then she's either in love with the boss, or the colleague, or just random people. She's not just 'being herself' without the tag of wife/girlfriend/daughter etc.

Why must we be forced to watch pregnant women singing happily about their upcoming babies, married little girls cooking halwas and awkward young women standing in front of random strangers for being 'accepted' as a prospective daughters-in-law?

Feminism in the Hindi TV Serial world has regressed to the 1800s. And we're watching it like unblinking zombies. If the weather hasn't overcooked the grey cells already, then let's just say this has just about burnt it completely.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Weathering Heights!

If you are born a Bangalorean, you will be obsessed about three main things.

1) The Weather.
2) The Weather.
3) and The Weather.

There is a large balancing scale up there in the skies. When the weather gets too sunny, the clouds tip the balance and pour rain all over the city. When the rains get too overwhelming, the Sun tips the balance and pours sunshine instead. The scales stay at an equilibrium, thanks to this natural tipping technique. And we boast about it to the rest of the universe.

Sure, there are those things that irritate you about the weather. For example, I constantly worry about the clouds causing turbulence, which will effectively make me a nervous wreck during take off and landing. Also the fact that now, thanks to the Metro construction work, muddle puddles are no longer just 'Muddy'. They're filthy, and you really don't feel like jumping into one just to dirty your friend's shoes.

But the most irritating thing about Bangalore's weather? You can't enjoy it once you're out of the city. Chennai, you're home. I agree. You have the sea, the sea breeze, and evenings that resemble Bangalore. But you also have Humidity. Someone who blissfully ignores my city.

And Delhi? Oh well. Whatever. You're like Fried Ice Cream. Too hot, Too cold.

But Bangalore? You are a true blue sadist. Making me fall in love with you for over 20 years, and then depriving me of your warmth and coolness.

A place I can wear a sweater in June and not fuss about how everyone will laugh. A place which always has sparkling clean trees, because they've just been given a wash. A place where you can sip hot coffee, and eat ice cream on the same day. A place where you can just walk...with no destination, and no care in the world, because the weather is perfect, and that's all you need.

I miss you. :-(

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Snippets of Summer

You know it's Summer, when:

1) You wake up in the morning, look out of the window, shriek loudly when it looks as bright as noon. And then you look at the clock. It says 5 AM. You shrug indifferently at the window, find the darkest blanket and cover your head to go back to sleep...this time, to really wake up at noon.

2) You open the cold water tap. Hot water runs. You open the Hot water tap. Hot water runs. You march up to the fridge, fill up a bowl with ice cubes, and use that to wake your teeth.

3) The fridge has suddenly become your best friend. In winters, it just stored jam and ketchup. Now it stores the essence of your existence. Everything edible. You look up and bless the person who invented it with every chilled sip of water you drink.

4) It is past 7 PM. You're waiting for some respite from the day. The clock ticks at 7.15, it is still day. Tick Tock. 7.30. Still day. You give up, draw all the blinds and watch Discovery Channel to see the stars instead.

5) Everywhere you walk, people smile at you. They give wide grins, but walk past you. Just as that warmth (like we needed any more of that) starts creeping inside your heart, you realize that they're just making that face to escape the sun's glare. Oh well. So much for the weather being 'pleasant'.

6) You step inside your car wearing mitts. The buckle of the seat belt singes your fingers, the steering wheel burns your palms and the pedals down below manage to irritate that part of your foot you didn't know was even capable of sensation (or don't wear flimsy chappals and try to drive like I did. You'll end up driving barefoot and burning them.) You then turn on the AC at full blast, to first get a steam-sauna, and after a couple of heart-rending belches, cool air.

7) Food? What's that? All I need is a coconut grove outside my house, preferably in a freezer. The idea of eating hot, cooked food makes me break into a sweat (pun intended.) Really, can't I just live on water and its by-products? Even Aloo Chat looks unappetizing.

8) The Loo. Ever heard of it? (I don't mean that restroom at the end of the corridor.) Those hot winds that blow and make whistle-y sounds (some even better than flautists in my old school band). Really, if the weather wasn't so balmy, this would've actually scared me. Boo.

9) Air-Conditioners. (Too much time in an air-conditioned environment make my eyes turn red, I start sneezing continuously like a stuck record....of all the things I am allergic to, it had to include this, right?) I like them at a distance, and not glaring on top of me like a big brother as I try and do my work. Some day, I will find the Central Unit of the Air Conditioning and turn the entire building's temperature to a pleasantly bangalored 24 degrees. Someday.

10) At night, when the work is finally done, you step outside for a moment. You see the stars peeping out reluctantly, but finally. The moon shines almost as brightly as the sun, but with that nice cold glow. You see the Mother Dairy shining merrily at a distance (uhm. This is an Ice-cream cart, not a cow.) You buy an ice-cream and slurp it down childishly before the entire thing melts on you. Just as you're done, the loo changes its mind and decides to act cold with you. A gush of breeze sweeps you away from the humidity and you smile.

Summer's here, and it's actually growing on me. :)