Rant #1 No train of thought…

The year was almost up and instead of writing up bucket lists and resolutions, and ten equally urgent errands I was sat there watching Spectre because if not Daniel Craig, then who? It’s just another day guys. Another day preceded by merrymaking and alcohol. And why not! At least my New Years lantern did not burn the tree down. I have a good feeling about 2016.
  
It’s unfair how western civilisation has had a good 200yr head start and we still get the flak for being backward and gender-biased. Yes, we do and I face it to some extent every day. Having said  that, it’s more complicated than that. It’s more unbalanced, basic and surprising than what meets the eye. Uncanny how two movies I watched back to back on New Year’s Day had the same scene playing out. Girl and boy are in love, girl needs to make this long journey abroad on her own, boy says ‘marry me before you leave, that’s all I ask’. One movie was set in 1950s Ireland/New York, the other in 2015 Mumbai. And in both movies the girl agrees, because well, she’s in love. The one set in India has a feistier, youthful, modern setting but when it comes down to basic relationship conundrums it equates itself to something fundamentally archaic and resolutely driven by human insecurities, but we tend to generalise and see it as signs of modernity vs. conventionalism instead. Funny, right? No it’s not. It’s unfair. It’s derivative and grossly pre-judged. 

Happy New Year, folks. Unbend a little. See beyond the ‘offence’. See the light that creates the shadows and try and be one.

Show and tell.

I was very recently recommended a show. Okay, no, I was told about one casually and being the show whor enthusiast that I am, I of course had to start watching it.

Yeah, it isn’t the best show, but I have to watch it through. Commitment, etc. All 2 seasons worth. Of course. It’s called Deadbeat, and like its name suggests... Okay, it’s got its moments… when you’re at a loose end on a(n alcohol free) Sunday evening.  The show has a couple of rotational opening montages and one of the scenes is of the protagonist– an over-sized, near-homeless ‘medium’ making tap water coffee. I snobbily went, ‘Oh, gross!’ till I remembered I had done the same thing while at Uni. Yeeeeeah… So, moving on… It’s amazing how most non-Indian shows inter-weave real life nuances into their plots and characterizations. Earlier (a nifty way of saying ‘when I was younger’ without actually admitting an older state of being) I used to watch shows just because they’re famous, or on TV, or err, recommended… Okay, nothing much has changed since, but the point is, now I am amazed at the depth of most shows, even the bad ones (cue in: Deadbeat). Characters have gone from being unidentifiable entertaining stereotypes to real people. I sympathize with the seemingly worse, messed up ones and acknowledge the few ‘normal’ ones as nothing but aspirational ideals. The ones that make us feel like there’s something better out there. Somewhere. Oddballs, neurotics, depressives, downright homicidal people seem relate-able in more ways than I would like to openly admit. But there you have it. Once Carrie B was a talentless, malnourished, somewhat zanily dressed good-time girl who liked being repeatedly hurt by Big to being someone courageous enough to write about something people wouldn’t acknowledge openly, sticking to her sense of style, enmeshed with her friends and having deep-seated commitment issues with a man equally messed up. I am not saying she’s better or worse, just that she is in fact a person. As real as they come.

No wonder more and more self aware Indian people gravitate towards shows from other countries. My self-deluded, ‘all is well’ mantra chanting country is sadly content churning out delusional crap day after day in an endless cycle. The volume of tripe out there just perpetuates the what-I-call (Miranda reference blithely thrown in!) ‘living under a rock’ culture and I don’t think there’s an escape hatch once you’re couch potato-ed in. But then again, people do watch them as a means of escaping. How do they actually benefit? Is oblivion such a keeper?

I remember this lesson we had in 8th or 9th grade. ‘What is a good book?’ (or something like that) which talked about the importance of not just reading, but reading well. which is to say, reading quality books. The more slovenly your choice of reading material gets, the more slovenly your mind becomes. I remember discussing this aspect for hours with my mom and had (for a time) become very conscious of what I fed my brain. I do read a lot of fiction, sometimes utter rubbish, but till date I make a conscious effort to read something with more gravitas than my tired/lazy brain wants to comprehend initially and then once the book is read, I can sit for days pondering over it. Something no pulp fiction will make you want to do. I usually forget the plot of such books within days. But the good ones, they are my life-line to who I choose to become as a person.

I discussed the merits of book reading with a friend recently, and she admitted to having not read much. But she did watch a lot of TV shows growing up in the Middle East, shows I wasn’t privy to until much later growing up in the hinterlands of Assam. I realized then that even watching good shows vs. not-so-good ones has the same results as reading. She is eloquent, knowledgeable with a fantastic grasp of people and the world in general, and the foundations lay, other than home environment and upbringing, on the shows she had watched.

Which brings me back to the questionable brain development of the current fans of Indian television. What is their thinking attuned to? How much are they actually aware of anything beyond ‘feel good-look pretty-get the dreamboat and your life is set’ philosophy? Or the ones choked up to the gills with ‘sanskaar’ and ‘parivaar’ where the person loses the ‘self’ so rapidly there’s nothing healthy endorsing individual growth or harmless self-actualization. Compromise has become a norm. It probably stems from how we compromise living from day-to-day in towns and cities which offer up next to nothing on the global scale. And the fact that they continue to find people with similar thought processes – shouldn’t that be an alarm bell going off frantically somewhere?

I am guessing this is all derivative my personal, older, rather cynical state of mind. So, if you’re getting annoyed reading this, kindly adjust.

Jao sasuma ke pair chuo and turn the other way when she demeans your sister-in-law cause you’re obviously the better of the two. Like duh!

The bleating of sheep

The thing about higher roads is that they seldom lead you anywhere but the very lonely, angry pinnacle. Recently, a colleague of mine sermonized to me, in a very concerned manner, about why I should get married soon, preferably by the time I’m 35 as otherwise there’ll be something “lacking” in me and by the time I’m 40, I will be “weird”. I bit my tongue, took the high road, smiled a benign smile and retorted with a mildly amused “Really?” and waited to leave the room.

I thought I had handled it fine. I didn’t react (violently). Didn’t get into an argument (rare for me), didn’t take visible umbrage and I (assumed) would laugh it off one day. Well… the thing is… I am not that person. I have no regrets with my choices, and I don’t feel incomplete in any way, shape or form. Would I like to marry? Hell, yeah! But to the right person, at the right time, no compromises and certainly not out of acquiescence or pressure.

It ate me up inside till I woke up a few days later, furious at myself, great big angry tears rolling down my cheeks. How could I have let someone speak to me that way? No doubt it’s their view, but why allow it to be said so casually at me as if I needed to beget that ill-advised piece of drivel.

Then it struck me. The high road has nothing to do with situations like these where people take it upon themselves to give you life lessons from THEIR lives and narrow-minded observations. I am not here to make assumptions about theirs, why should they do so with mine? Were I one of those who hang on to people’s words and take advice from people who have maxed their brain development at the age of ‘creationism must be real’ OR an altitude loving goat, I would have started enrolling myself in various schemes to find myself a suitable life companion five years ago. A companion who would purportedly validate my existence ’cause god forbid, I didn’t want to be LACKING.

Really, who are you people and where do you get off? You are happy with your life? Great! You are satisfied with your partner, family and circumstance? I couldn’t be happier for you. But, please, please refrain from giving me your two cents on what I should do with my life. I wasn’t born of you, don’t live off you, depend on you, nor do I think you’re particularly enlightened… so BUZZ THE HELL OFF.

Warning: PG 30

I woke up this morning and examined my nose for warts. Unmarried 30yr old spinsters are dangerously close to the witchy warty stages of life. People have almost stopped asking you when you’re going to marry.  They’ve determined underlying plumbing issues to be the cause of this affliction and bestow upon you furtive unabashed looks of “hai hai unmarried at 30 – whatever are her poor parents going to do”.

But even though I make a big deal out of this to friends – growing older,  not the unmarried bit,  I realise I’m grateful for the years I’ve lived through ’cause they’ve made me the person I am. Even more surprising than that is how it’s liberating because now I’m not considered ‘brash’ for having low threshold for bullshit. Now it’s just part of the territory. Yeah, bitches – I ain’t taking that shit no more.

I have however finally started jotting down a bucket list, something I never did in my 20s as I believed that decade was about just living – and I hold on to that. I can’t bear the thought of doing things out of a list when you can flail your arms,  swing about and hum “La la la la” and your very valid defense is that you’re still in your 20s. Now, 30s is the time to focus on getting things done. Things that my old bones may be too weary to manage 10yrs down the line. Also having a list ensures I don’t forget anything something which I have started doing.  Case in point: the dream job epiphany loss syndrome of early 2015. Sigh.

Must read up on early onset dementia.

Find a comfy chair after 7 p.m.

I still cannot remember my alternate career epiphany. But, then I am partially blonde now so it’s more difficult for me to remember things. Well meaningless clichés wasn’t the point of this blog post. India’s Daughter was. Heard of it? Well now you have. Go watch it. Well, here’s the thing. You seemingly can’t watch it if you’re in India. Because there was a court order to remove this content from YouTube.  How ingenious of my government. The government doth hide-th too much, methinks. Also, thanks for creating more interest and curiosity via this defensive step!!

Well I said seemingly for a reason.

My mom sent me a video on self-defense recently. Her way of trying to make me safe on dimly lit streets of my city from 3123 kms away. I jokingly said I will try all these moves on the next boy I come across on the road, to which she got really alarmed and said, “Only if they provoke you physically! Just ignore them”. I don’t recall ever provoking a guy into misbehaving with me, unless you count existing on the road at the same time as him as misbehaving. I mollified my mother and agreed to karate chopping boys only on a physical provocation only basis. This coming from my fire-breathing dragoness of a mother who has never been afraid of standing up for herself and calling out on anything she believes is not fair and never takes anything lying down, puts into perspective how scared she really is and how much uncertainty there exists for a girl living alone (or otherwise) in an Indian city. Everyone is frightened though they veil this fear with regular socially acceptable concern. I get “text me when you get home” requests from co-workers, friends & my mom on a daily basis. Yes, it’s that bad. People aren’t even confident you’re going to reach home safely. And we have become so used to this, we don’t think how ridiculous the request was to begin with. I can’t remember the last time I wasn’t trying to be hyper aware of my surroundings while walking alone – day or night.

It also occurs to me how us women have become a handicap for the men around us. They’re constantly cautioned to take care of us. Ensure nothing happens to us. Blamed if something does. In fact, we call out men who don’t act “manly” if ever our honor is targeted by a wolf whistle. I don’t get it. How is the man you’re with responsible for another man’s wolf whistle exactly? It’s the worse vicious cycle in the world. Men assault women, women look to men for defense. I am not saying men on the whole are untrustworthy. Far from that. I am saying it’s ridiculous that men should be so pressurized to clean up other men’s messes. It’s all so messed up.

Well Happy Holi, folks.

D.I.Y.

I recently had a conversation with some friends at work about alternate careers. My initial answer was “critic” – books, food, people, places – I would love to write about any of these with my very critical, cynical, catty world view of course. And then later, I had this brilliant, mind-blowing epiphany about what I would really want to do. And now I cannot remember what that thought was. I am guessing it’s not something you need a good memory for.

It’s fascinating to think about, though, and really drives home the fact that you’re not really doing something you’re totally 100% passionate about. There’s something to be said about having multiple interests of course and I would also like to whisper, “The grass is always greener… always.” But, still, what if there is something you should be doing, or another place you should be at. Do you think you still have time enough to start afresh? If you’re a 22 year old reading this, don’t bother answering. Someone I correspond with regularly said they would like to sail around the world sampling different types of tea. Thanks to Twinings, the latter half of that alternate life plan should be fairly easy.

I want to know what some of our mothers would have liked to do. They were so bound to home and hearth, trying to make the best of situations they couldn’t have possibly wanted to be their life story. How do they live having buried all those wants deep into some dark recess of their hearts. So deep that they don’t even admit having a personal dream is an actual thing. It’s just something they aspire for their offspring, sometimes with disastrous consequences. Wanting the best for your children and wishing they do something you would have or liked to given a chance are two very different things. One of them being alarmingly corrosive.

Can we get social evolutionary accelerator please?

Of hats and sharp objects.

Turns out I am terrible at addictions. Couldn’t sustain a smoking habit every time I tried. I am however very good with short term obsessions. Current object of my obsession is Cillian Murphy. I cannot stop cyber stalking this insanely private person. But to be fair, more than him, it’s Thomas Shelby I am after. If you haven’t already started watching Peaky Blinders, today is the perfect day so start. It’s brilliantly written, enacted and scored. The soundtrack of Series 1 is so brilliant, it literally blew my mind, and believe me, I am not one of those people who care overly about soundtrack. At the most, I would notice a song I know and like is playing in the soundtrack of a show or movie, or rarely, start liking a random song from the soundtrack and then Google it. [All That I Want by Dawn Golden from an episode of Suits is an example.] But the score of this show is hard to miss. It sets the scenes and moods so well – it’s like it’s another entity in the show, and now I finally understand what plot-pertinent music is.

But back to Cillian Murphy! Lord have mercy. That’s one pretty, pretty man with the ability to act your socks (and other smalls) off. After I was done with Peaky (Series 1&2 – and yay, there’s to be a Series 3), I watched Red Lights. Another good find – a thriller which for once is not obvious and predictable. I had noticed him in Red Eye and the Dark Knight movies, of course, but when he’s cast as lead he really comes to his own and carries the show. Something about those watery grey eyes. Sam Neill’s brilliant Irish accent is another gem. Go watch, peeps! Free publicity for Peaky ends. For now. There are other shows that I would love to go on endlessly about, but feel less inclined to on account of laziness. But I will mention some current drama titles:

How to Get Away with Murder, Suits, Girls [if you like crazy-dysfunctional – this is your show], Peaky Blinders [couldn’t help it], American Horror Story [okay, all my favorite shows are bat shit crazy], GOT, Downton Abbey, Penny Dreadful & Sherlock. Shows that will be missed: The Mentalist & Mad Men.

I should stop watching this much television…. Make me. 😀

All about the treble.

I recently watched Interstellar. And I am reeling since. I also feel insignificant and pretty useless in the general scheme of things. Yeah. Oh, and my flatmate managed to dislocate her knee cap and I am the designated Florence Nightingale.

Okay, back to Interstellar. After many glasses of Chenin Blancs, I am of the opinion that mahogany tinted furniture makes a house look nice and warm. Yeah, I ain’t talking about Interstellar on the interweb. I don’t want to sound like a fool, fool. In other news I have found myself new digs with aforementioned flatmate of the dislocated patella fame. I am currently furnishing it and my two-suitcase escape plan no longer holds water. Unless my furniture and miscellaneous pieces of home appliances can be folded into a tidy little square and be put into one of said suitcases.

Another welcome addition into my new little household is makemydrink.com, hence the Chenin Blancs. They deliver the booze to you now. That’s real technology if you ask me. Everything else is neither here nor there. Mostly there in five dimensional space, ’cause the alcohol is now here. 😀

The cow always comes before the phall.

Now my life can be divided into eras. The pre-phall and the post-phall. And no, I’m not misspelling the American season. Sigh. Gotta go get me some more phall soon.

I had a plate of phall during Eid. At Rs.100 a plate,  I thought it decent. A nice dish. Then I had the Rs. 40 a plate phall. The one out of a cart. The one managed by a beefy (puntended) bloke called Imran on a dimly lit corner of Pottery Road. And that’s when I phell for phall.

Post-phall my life seems better somehow. My evening walks around Richards Park seem more realistic. My surroundings less jaded. I thought bacon brought out the best in me.

That was pre-phall.

Sigh.

Parental Guidance Advisory

First there’s the wedding boom, and then, the baby boom. You can’t escape it. It’s everywhere. It starts as an innocuous wedding invite here, a status update there, honeymoon pictures on your feed (seriously, no one needs to see those), and then, boom! You’re an ‘auntie’ to 50 newborns. I cannot log into my Facebook account without at least 100 updates on friends’ baby pictures. Yes, I have surpassed the wedding boom, and am firmly lodged in what I call, the baby epidemic. I am a known single cynic, so I can use the “e” word. Or in other words, I don’t care. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I love my friends’ children. But why are they the only thing I see off late on my social  media feed? I can’t help but wonder at how our parents raised us without sharing our day-to-day, well, everything, constantly with their friends. And yet, my parents’ friends seem to love us no less, in fact with more unfeigned affection than I can claim for some of my friends’ kids. Again, this is not a rant. Just an observation of changing social trends.  I love taking photographs and sharing them with my friends. I am just of the opinion that we leave our children to do the same with their friends. A milestone birthday/event, sure. A great photograph, you say? Go ahead and share these treasured moments with your friend list, why don’t you. But every day? Every nap? Every burp? Every spit-up? Every yawn? Every grin? Every frown? After ‘Yawn #25’, it’s pretty much “Un-follow posts”. And I am thankful to Facebook for allowing me to have the option of how much ‘baby’ I allow filtered into my daily orbit. Do we really need to expose our children to this extent on the internet? Call me a witch, grouch, or any baby hating name you can think of, I don’t care, ’cause I dearly love little kids, even though with short tolerance spans at this point in life. I am glad my niece, now a little more than a year old, has her internet privacy. God knows how every baby is already blatantly bared to the world on account of how ‘they’re so small, they don’t care if people see them naked’, they don’t need to be paraded on the web 24/7 just ’cause your phone’s photo gallery has a ‘share on Facebook/Instagram/what have you’ button. I guess I’d need to be a parent to understand this urge, and if and when the time comes, everyone is invited to call me a hypocrite. But for now, if you have an infant, please think twice before uploading every photo you take of your child to the internet. At least save the uploading for the great moments, the milestones, where you delight your friends, not dissuade them from procreating.

Fool adjacent

Okay, I’ll try to not to make this one a rant/hate list.

Okay,  drawing a very solid blank here. Absolutely nothing comes to mind. Well, there you have it, I am a born ranter. I am one of those scowlers that turn each day into doomsday and mutter unhappily under their breath.

In my defense (and I always try and have on…for everything) I went trailer surfing on IMDB in hopes of finding some cheerful inspiration to write about. Instead I found trailers of epics and biographies and tragedies and psychedelic crime stories which ended up making me mopey, hopeful and cynical. None of the above are feelings are new, other than mopey. I rarely mope. I sulk. That’s my usual MO. There was Avengers: Age of Ultron, though. But that barebones trailer was below satisfactory. I swear I could see Thor for barely a second.

In other news, I’m house hunting. In other words, my soul is getting crushed one prospective tenant-landlord conversation at a time.

LL1: “Are you vegetarian?”
Me: (long incredulous pause) “What the…. No, I’m not. I eat all types of non vegetarian food.”
LL: “ShivaShiva… No, no, medam. Only vegetarians allowed. ”
Me: “Why?”
LL: “Non vegetarian flesh cooking is making house impure.”
Me: *insert troll face”

LL2: “You have baay friend?”
Me: … Unfortunately not at this point… “Uh, no. I don’t have a boy friend.”
LL: “Good, good. No baays should be coming to house, pliss. You know kalyug nowadays. All girlsa basysa staying. Tch tch. We’re family people. Only want decent people.”
Me: “Yes. But my friends might come over for a visit–”
LL: “What! BAAY friends, ah!????”
Me: “No, only fairies and elves.”

LL3: “Where are you virginally from?”
Me: “Assam.”
LL: “Oh ho ho. Uh. Mary Kom, ah? Very nice picture. Beautiful place. But we’re wanting local people only.”
Me: “Why would local people want to rent houses?”
LL: Hehehehe. “Wokay, wokay. No problem. You’re from Assam. It’s okay. I will trust you.”
Me: “Why?”
LL: “You look like good girl.”
Me: (choking back a scoff)

LL4: “Where are you residing now?”
Me: “Xyz Road.”
LL: “Right here only! What is your reason for leaving that place? ”
Me: I’m planning to murder my neighbours and bomb the house. “I’m staying with a friend now, but I want a place of my own.”
LL: “Wokay. Nice area it is.”

What was the point of that, again?

I go back for more house viewings this weekend. Yay..NOT. Also, notice how this post ended up a rant. Muhahahahaha.

Wrinkles and moth balls.

Growing old is not pleasant. One has to deal with aches in body parts one didn’t previously know existed. I suppose I mean ‘older’, not ‘old’. I am not old (crossing arms, then my fingers…and toes), but definitely older than I would like to admittedly be. What is the cut-off age for ‘oldness’ though, I wonder. Will there be that one day, a milestone birthday maybe,or an event that marks me to the world as being irrevocably old?  I think the magic number slips further away as our youth wanes. When I was younger I thought someone over 50 was pretty old. Now, two decades or so away from that number, boy, am I reconsidering. Age may be just a number, but, when this number inches toward 30, a lot of things dawn on you hard and fast. These are things personally experienced or observed in err…friends. (My mom reads my blog.)

1. Cannot pass off as a college student any more. Conventional need to (begrudgingly) leave tips.

2.Inability to stay up beyond 12 a.m. (Unless I want to look like a badly resuscitated mummy the next morning). Friends seldom receive the 12 a.m.  “Happy Birthday” call. It’s usually  just a text. To be fair, said friend (in same age group) is also fast asleep. Sleepy time beckons, and follow one must.

3. Inability to sleep beyond 8 a.m. (Okay, fine, 8.30 a.m. – told you, my mom reads this.)

4.Drinking is purely for relaxation. Getting drunk is just inconvenient. A mere social endeavor to unwind. No one boasts about ‘capacity’ anymore. Wine and bourbon are the new vodka and tequila. A warm brandy with a cinnamon stick trumps all. Yes, I know it’s the elixir of the aging.

5. Wearing heels to soirées is now a choice. A choice that’s seldom made. One I made last night but did not regret. (Thank God for well made shoes!)

6.Tolerance for idle “boy” talk and inane gossip reduces drastically. Okay, I am kidding. I am growing older, not retreating into sainthood.

7. Is “EDM” music? Really? That beat needs to drop into the fiery depths of hell.

8.Watching the latest episode of Downton Abbey is more important than going through Facebook updates. In my defense, the Dowager Countess of Grantham is a wily old fox. And I bet she can take a mean selfie.

9. Dinner & Drinks over partying. Movies (the not so loud ones) over partying. Flea markets over partying. Indian Coffee House over partying. TV shows over partying.

Partying = over.

10. Talking on the phone for over 5-10 minutes at a stretch (unless it’s a catch up after a decade with a pal) is nigh on impossible.

11. Inability to withstand loud music.

12. Making new friends (note: not referring to ‘friending’). Ugh. Such a lot of trouble. Introducing oneself. Picking out select socially acceptable bits of information about yourself you want to share (and hope the skeletons in the closet don’t come clacking out). Listening to said potential friend’s life story. Putting up with new drama. Watching your existing friends hate the new entity. No, thank you. I will contend with the ones I have and maybe make a rare exception. Very rare.

Having said all of this, there is ONE element one can never outgrow: knowing the lyrics to ALL the boy band songs of the 90s and singing along every time. EVERY SINGLE TIME!

[singing]

Oh my god we’re back again….
Brothers, sisters, everybody sing….
Gonna bring the flavor, show you how
Gotta question for ya, better answer now yeah

I know you’re singing along. *smirk*

♫ ♬These are a few of my (least) favorite things!♩ ♪

I recently  came across this list of things which are an absolute no-no in a man I may want to meet/marry/divorce  someday. The obvious things like pathological lying, cheating, wife-beating, drug using, snobbery, eating noisily with mouth open, being shitty at parallel parking etc., I am leaving out. Okay, so this is more a specific hate list based on a guy I did  know once. Before he skunked out.

1.) Doesn’t eat meat: I don’t want to mention the “V” word/s. This is sacrilegious. How on earth are we expected to peacefully co-exist if we cannot enjoy a matrimonial meal mostly comprising of bacon? No collective sighing over the sight of grilled chicken? No astonishing amounts of pâté on toast on Sundays? No synchronized gasp over steak?  This is absolutely unacceptable. Though…in hindsight…no one to steal bacon from my plate when I am not looking (meat-gasming). The grilled chicken is mine, all mine (my precious…muhahahha!) and there can be gasps over other things… like great works of art, or new technology, a sale at (tch tch, get your minds out of the gutter). But, seriously, watching the one constant person around eating quinoa and kale for the rest of my life? No, I’d want to share all this goodness (albeit begrudgingly).

2.) Fidgets: If there isn’t  a medical condition to excuse your constant fidgeting, I don’t want to know you. I cannot stand people who can’t sit still. Head twitching, finger tapping, constant leg shaking, shifting around on the couch, pacing about for no apparent reason. Ugh. I swear it gives me the shakes (No. It doesn’t. Seriously, no fidgeting.) It’s like you’re constantly bursting to pee! Have you done something you’re nervous about? Are there corpses in your basement I should be aware of? Are there red ants in your pants? (Them black ones do not bite, so not a valid reason.) Electrotherapy, counseling, meditation, 20kgs of prozac – I don’t care what is it that you need to do to sort this problem out, but please, do, be still.
3.) Bad with directions: There are some people who are perennially lost, you know? And they are so spatially challenged, both indoors and out, they will invariably point at the exact opposite direction when talking about a street or location. This is the most maddening thing even and always drives me up the wall. I recently read that there is an actual positioning system, an internal GPS if you will, in your brain, which controls this. Well, if it ain’t functioning in yours, please get lost. (Oh, I know you so will.)
P.S.: Asking for driving directions is fine. But if you don’t get it in three tries, then, boy…we have a problem.
4.) Scoop-less: Always being oblivious to gossip is not endearing. I need a man with some input on the current going-ons of the rich and famous (must be super tabloid worthy) or at least be willing to pretend to do know Kimye (Yes, I said ‘Kimye’.) You can’t scoff at my need for scoop. Scoop is important. If we’re talking about cats in boxes that are and aren’t there, we’re also talking about Amanda Bynes’ latest exploits. Okay, no, maybe not her. But sneakily watching Wrecking Ball and Bound 2  and then pretending to be above it all is lame. Okay, I am kidding (we all do that). What I would really appreciate is having something to contribute to a meaningless, fun conversation once in a while. Lord knows I can make up most of it, but that remaining 20%, that’s on you, man.
5.) Doesn’t wear color: Which law states that if you’re male you cannot wear any color beyond black, white, blue and gray – or a grim combination of these? Someone please tell me where it’s written down. Are you a vampire? Or are you just the biggest sexist ever? (A bit much?) Okay, but seriously color CAN be part of your wardrobe, not just a bit of pattern on your tie or sock (and sometimes, sadly, it’s not even that to be honest!). Being able to wear color says something about a man, methinks. And, please, no tacky ‘gay’ jokes. Rise above, people, rise above.
6.) Doesn’t read: Inexcusable: Just newspapers and Upworthy does not count.
7.) Doesn’t like swimming: Being the one sport I can abide (and somewhat excel at err relatively) I would appreciate someone who appreciates the sport/hobby. Okay, so it’s not an important point (or remotely interesting). I was running out of issues to hate at this point.
Okay, that is it. Apparently. Now I know why I am single.
#doomed #stilldoesnotknowhowtohashtag #stilldoesntcare
Oops, before I forget: 8.) Cowardice: Burn, fool!!
Over and out.

You are poison to me

So I was at home on holiday/sabbatical/downtime etc. And at home one must do/eat/watch what the ‘homies’ decree, which I am more than happy to do cause it saves me the trouble of deciding for myself. Yes, the Taurean downtime brooks no activity. None. Recently, a channel called Zindagi orbited into my mother’s Anandi/Simar/Madhubala dotted life. No, these are not my siblings. Protagonists of shows she would cringe and watch, turn off midway in disgust or grumble to/at with alternative dialog/courses of action they could have taken instead. The Zindagi shows (popularly called dramas) show her (unintended pun now intended) a different kind of TV, reminiscent of the pre saas-bahu era, and one that she’s falling ever deeper in love with. Minus the dramatic music, tacky clothes and only five inane dialogues in forty minutes that had become synonymous with Indian TV, the dramas are sheer story oriented treats – always with an unexpected twist. Aside  from the masterful storytelling and versatile acting (the same people are more or less in all the shows), the very good looking men also lend to the case. (Yes, we too are enamored by Fawad Khan). The language is mellifluous and precise. The syntax & diction is beautiful – sheer poetry. And my favourite recurring line?  “Tum/Woh mujhe zeher lagti ho/hai.” Brilliant. 😀

Time

The grains shift, glitter, cascade forth
The vipers rain through the roof
The ticking melts into solitude
The forked tongue hisses still
How did this luminescent skin wither?
Around ankles the relentless slither
Luck runs out,  only fools linger
Undulating upward seeking the heart
Death is near,  my chances meagre

Link

Job Openings!

Job Openings! I haven’t been writing recently cause I have no time. I have no time because I am inundated with work and need bright young things to help me. If you want me to write more and/or are a bright young thing living in (or would like to relocate to) Bangalore, please send in your resumes to HR@sferastudios.com.

Sferastudios, Bangalore, a Digital Media Services company specializing in subtitling & localization is hiring for the following positions:

>HR Recruiter (3 month contract)

>English Editors (6 month contract, multiple positions)

>Project Coordinators & Support Roles (6 month contract, multiple positions)

If you are interested in any of these roles or know of anyone who would be, please let me know via comments. For the editorial roles you would need to have excellent grasp over the English language & colloquialisms and a good understanding of grammar & punctuation rules. Required skills for the coordinator/support positions are good verbal & written communication, flexibility and time management.

Experience: 0-2 years. Email your resumes to HR@sferastudios.com

Company website: Sferastudios.com  

Becky says things about … reasons to be cheerful

Lol!

BECKY SAYS THINGS

Oh, brave Listener. We’ve all had a bit of a rough time recently.

There are several reasons why we are all feeling a bit peeved, irked, and somewhat vexed:

1) It is February. February is an obnoxiously depressing month, it knows it, and it doesn’t care. February is insufferable.

2) We are still paying off our Christmas credit card bills. This is intolerable.

3) Our New Year’s resolution diet and exercise regimes have failed miserably and we are eating more doughnuts, peanut butter, and full fat milk than ever before to cope with the depression of February and Christmas credit card bills.

cheerful5

4) The couples amongst us have had a relationship-busting argument on Valentine’s Day, and the singletons amongst us have just been reminded that they are SINGLE and ALONE and destined to remain that way for the rest of their sorry lives.

5) There is nothing to look forward…

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How the Grinch Stole Grammar!

Brilliant.

Stroppy Editor

(With apologies to Dr Seuss)

Every Who down in Who-ville liked English a lot
But the Grinch, who lived just north of Who-ville, did NOT!
Whenever he thought of the language, he’d languish
In horrified anger and furious anguish!
But the funny thing was that beneath all this hate
He somehow believed, well, that English was great.
But it wasn’t the English the Whos wrote and spoke –
No! THAT made him scowl! Made him fume! Made him choke!
Made him choke!
Made him choke!
Made him CHOKE! CHOKE! CHOKE! CHOKE!

So what on earth was it the innocent Whos
Were doing so wrong with the language they’d use?
If you were to walk into Who-ville one day
You’d see lots of people with fine things to say.
They’d joke and exclaim and they’d promise and sing,
They’d chat and debate – yes, they’d do anything
That this wonderfully versatile…

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The advent of Brahma, the reticent omniscient.

I don’t know a lot about my inherited religion or the associated menagerie of gods. At this point, my grandmothers would frown and nudge me and say “your gods, not ‘the’ gods”. Well, I don’t know them well enough and any degree of possessiveness would be farcical. I know of them and something of their attributes but I have never sought to familiarize myself beyond the initial introduction.  I am the worst kind of Indian born into a Hindu family – an agnostic (at best) and mostly irreverent.  I am all for tolerance – practically because I don’t care. Over the years I have restrained myself not to make snide comments to people who preach to me on my error of ways. Mostly because it’s churlish and unnecessary and I am still unsure of what’s what,  faithwise.

There has been certain conditioning which I cannot wholly shake off. But I don’t find in me any of the go-to faith most people around me access with aplomb. I do know the generic gods and goddesses. I like reading about them as I would any other fantasy/mythological story and “God” knows I loved watching the different epic series on Doordarshan growing up which showcased all the incredible tales in vivid detail, but fervent devotion, nope, nothing yet. I do know that the awesome trio is supposedly the mother-load of Hindu god-ism. Of whom, one is a creator, one is a sustainer of life and one, my personal favourite, just because his modus operandi is dance baby dance, is the destroyer. Of these, Brahma, the creator has always the most elusive since my childhood. I don’t recollect any stories being related on his (I am guessing general God related stylistic rules apply and it should be “His” not “his” but for the sake of my current faithlessness, let’s not pretend, shall we?) awesomeness, other than him ripping away all of your mugged-up schoolwork you painstakingly committed to memory, if you leave open books lying around as it would be an affront to his lady-love/consort & resident goddess of knowledge – Saraswati. He is an entity within a mythical labyrinth laced with multiple overlaying versions and interpretations (like any other Hindu god) and that’s the kind of packaging I cannot be bothered to unravel, but I hear he knows and sees all and lives eons in the single blink of an eye. He is eternal and omnipresent in the true sense and a goody-two-shoes to boot. I don’t know how I feel about someone so flawless. Well, at the rate the world is regressing, it must be quite a drag to watch something you created self-destruct. Kalyug and all that. But then again, it happens in a blink, so it shouldn’t be all that bad.

When I first read about this “blink” concept, I wondered about the philosophical connotations behind this. The fleeting nature of our mean transitory little lives etc. Then I moved on to speculate on which stage of the blink he is at now, (yes, like I said, I am  irreverent), and decided he’s at the part where you start to see your lashes come together forming a hairy frame of the world. We don’t got much time left, y’all.

I see the devotion, deep-rooted and sincere in my family and wonder how an anomaly like me came to be. Nurture clearly did not have the desired effect. Not that religion was ever foisted upon me. Participation was and is and that’s something I cannot evade or would want to – to keep peace and for the fact that I think I am yet to figure it out. I envy people with conviction – pro and against. It could be an inherited non-confrontational streak that holds me back from rejecting the idea of conforming altogether. I am somewhere in-between, floating between my memories of drowsy summer afternoons when my grandma would regale me with astonishing feats of Krishna and a growing realization that faith is so elusive and inconclusive, it has to be a figment of collective imagination, a “figment” so strong it’s transcended generations and bound people together to commit righteous homicide. Everything in moderation, they say. Like it ever works in any aspect of life (read: everything) where subjectivity and bias rule.

As always, I never end up writing about what I set out to. The whole Brahma subject came about from a running joke – on me. But that’s for another time.

God be with you, folks! I burn with the faithless.

Of cowardly mice and mad cats :D

How does one remake one’s life to get out of a godawful funk? Well, that’s easy, you just… err…

Okay, so here it is. There is no, forget easy or hard, ‘way’ to remake/reboot one’s difficult situation. You can try and think for a short delusional time that you’re putting on a brave enough front of the world and more importantly in front of friends who know you as well as they do their yesterday’s sun dried underwear, hoping to fool them into thinking that you’re suceeding, but the fact of the matter is, the only thing you can ever really do is pick yourself up, dust yourself down, delete some annoying people from your Facebook friends list who cannot resist sending you stupid game invites, and feel like you have taken charge of your life and, move on. To move on, when you’re older and maybe wiser, means A) Not acting out. It’s hard but you got to do it. You inwardly curse and bitch and plot bloody murder but you just cannot act out. Outwardly there’s this beatific smile that belies the vile pit of red hot anger you deal with until one day it simmers down to a cold forgotten pile of ashes, much like the person who inspired it. Thought-to-spoken word filter process is at an all time optimum and an implacable aura of quiet surrounds you like a black thundercloud before an Assamese monsoon. You see it. You know it ought to bode well but actually means an evil spate of torrential downpour where sommboddy gonna get a hurt real bad. Then comes B) Eating cake. Or whatever you can buy with the Sodexo meal coupons you’re foisted with every month cause there’s no way else you can rid yourself of them. You’d buy groceries but you are really not in a mood to cook/create edible items meant for sustenance. You’d rather watch things burn and daaaiiiii. And then to the happy sighs of roommates and friends, the final, natural progression for me is: C) You blog about it. Simple!

So, anyway, coming back to the point of this piece : new beginnings and slightly less morbid things than that ranty bit above, I have sought change by attempting to socialize more, which in my case amounts to socialising. Period. And also, more recently, maybe too recently and hence too early to proclaim to the world at large, but I’ll do it anyway cause I’m dumb like that (which may have caused all this to begin with), indulging in a craze that has up until now always evaded my dithering interest (and increasing bulges): joining the gym. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. I have after all been all of once. Whether I manage to drag myself out of bed at 6.30 am tomorrow to make it for the second time is something yet to be determined. But I am optimistic. And that’s what counts, really. Optimism and the courage to follow through and take a goddamn chance…. Okay here we go again. The rant is beginning to break through.

Go scampering back into your comfort zone. I banish you, my spell of bad luck.

To my gym trainer, good luck.

Lunch with the beautiful Bhattacharjee sisters at Cafe Max!

The mother of all waylays. On a quick trip to Commercial Street to pick up a few necessities in what can be best described as deathcab for Priya (sorry, Sonu, you have got to calm down :P), we end up buying pretty outfits in Fab India and then a prolonged lunch in a very Halloween themed Cafe Max at Indiranagar. Happy Karnataka Day to us, indeed! Had the most amazing food followed by a scrumptious chocolate cake 😀

 

 

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Beef Fillet Roulade

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Crusted Fish Spanish Style

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Bitter Chocolate Cake

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Mishali checks out Gerard, the German.

 

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I think I needn’t mention (but I am) that we never made it to Commercial Street to buy said essential items.

 

The Titli Song Era :D

I used to love the old DD (Doordarshan) public service message ads. The favourite one being the one about conscientiously wearing a helmet while riding a bike. A serious voice would declare: “Marzii hai aapki akhir sarr hai apka…” while a brawny arm smashed two coconuts on a split screen with a huge hammer. One coconut had a helmet on and the other one didn’t. I think all of us as a nation cringed every time that one unprotected coconut got smashed to bits.

The high jumping lice on a pair of gossipy juvenile heads was another grossly fascinating favourite. Always played without fail right before all children programmes on Sunday, it was potent enough to get mothers scurrying to check if they had enough Medicare shampoo in their bathroom closets to battle such an epidemic. The ad of course never mentions that louse breed on clean scalps faster. 😛

Recently I read this lovely book called Those Pricey Thakur Girls. Not a literary epic but it was a flashback into India of the late 80s and early 90s, the one I still identify with. Pre-liberalisation had so many things going wrong for India but sometimes being in a time warp had its own charm (mostly in hindsight). Every time there was a bit about the said Thakur girls’ father reading the newspaper in an attempt at shutting himself off from his boisterous daughters’ romance related drama, I remember my own father reading the newspaper on Sunday mornings in winter end-to-end, on the lawn under a green and white striped garden umbrella signifying his day off from kamjari (estate work). I would wait impatiently to get my hands on the paper to see the page that featured a pen-and-ink drawing by Rathin Mitra, of some glorious colonial structure in Calcutta. Intricate and gloriously detailed, these images would awe me and I couldn’t imagine how a person had manually drawn those clean straight lines.  He even inspired me to make something in his style (a highly impoverished version) of the tea bungalow we lived in at the time, which my brother used in his very elaborate school project on tea (a masterpiece in itself considering the tantrums and numerous garden visits it entailed). I’m sure my mother has that stored somewhere in her many boxes, but I sadly have lost my cutouts of Rathin Mitra’s beautiful art. This would be a good time to kick self in the behind.

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Another illustrator and cartoonist that I adored was Mario Miranda. If you think you haven’t seen something by either of these artists, you’re wrong. Especially if you grew up reading The Telegraph or Times of India. One look at their work and memories will come flooding back. Here are some Mario Miranda favourites:

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He also illustrated this hilarious book on parenting. A must read 😉

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These sepia toned memories seem like a different world. A world without Internet, mobile phones, cable tv, Harry Potter or the microwave :P.  Frightening, isn’t it? But get this. It was also a world without Edward Cullen or better still Bold & Beautiful cause all us Indians could watch was our one and only DD. Which means no inspiration for the ensuing K serial bandwagon either. We would watch Jaspal Bhatti’s antics, Buniyaad, Surabhi and Hum Log on weekdays and Poirot and Jeeves & Wooster every Sunday. Hai hai. Wait. No Kim K feed? I have to rethink this

I leave you with this song to enjoy 🙂

Happa Davalla folks!

12yr old Dreamers

Kim Kardashian is getting married again. But this time I suppose the cause is noble(r). I do admit I like her with the blonde hair. Somehow it makes her look less vapid. If that were a possibility, that is. Her recent selfie in the white swimsuit (I would like to see someone do a freestyle length of the pool wearing that) was also commendable as she had started resembling Cinderella’s pumpkin carriage around the time of Nori’s birth. Though why I’m rambling on about her I have not a clue. I was to write about a quaint little boy I met yesteday. A solemn, delicate little elfin child with serious, beautiful eyes thickly fringed with the longest eyelashes I have seen since the Kardashian female clan (ah, there it is).

This boy, the oldest offspring of my brother’s part time help tagged along with his mother, an equally emaciated 25 yr old woman called Sunita. She was married off at 13 and had him soon after, but that’s another story. While his spunky mother cleaned the house and chatted up a storm with my mother, a conversation both heartwrenching and grotesquely fascinating at the same time, he, a nonchalant 12 year old, was content sitting in a corner and practising his slingshot aim with naught but his imagination. Saffera the friendly household Golden Lab, having tried her utmost to engage him in a friendly game or atleast get some pats & cuddles, being usually irresistible, failed and sat resignedly at a respectable enough distance. She watched him nose twitching, with undisclosed awe having never before been turned down by one of his stature. “Who was this intruder who didn’t want to fuss over her obvious awesomeness?”

I tried to engage him in some conversation myself with a time-tested, unbeaten ploy where boys and for that matter men are concerned. Armed with a plateful of sweets and savoury snacks, I approached him only to be rebuffed with a polite “I don’t like eating these, thanks.” Not willing to accept quick defeat, I did manage to entice into his hands a nutty biscuit I had got from Anand Sweets in Bangalore on my last trip. A poor choice of word, this “entice”, I admit, considering how with a long suffering expression, reasoning with himself that it was the only way to rid himself of me, he took one politely and dismissed me and my ill practiced entreaties.

I left him to his devices and Saffera’s growing befuddlement. Here was someone who not only refused her, a fluffy golden ball of love,  but food as well. “What was this world coming to?” she thought and huffed in disdain.

Later, once he left with his mom, after she had partaken of post work tea and snacks, I learnt of the boy’s life from my mother. Falling two floors down when he was just 7 months, whilst chasing after an errant cat, had resulted in a head trauma that more or less sealed his fate for life. A life of being different, something not kindly taken to in his family or society. Okay, let’s face it, ANYwhere for that matter. Concentration has never been his strong point since and neither is conventional social behaviour. On a jaunt to a nearby store with his brother when he was 3 or 4, he bit his tongue clean in half. He was hopping in lieu of walking and tripped, biting down hard. Sunita matter of factly told my already nauseous, vertigo ridden mother of how she held his tongue in her hand and took her son to the hospital for it to be stitched back. A year or so later the same little boy split his chin open playing by himself while being supervised by his alcoholic father. Soon after he began getting epileptic seizures. The onset of these episodes alarm his teachers and classmates and expose him to ridicule and name-calling. However, being self-possessed and determined, he doesn’t pay them much heed and has decided what he wants to do with his life. His dream is to dance. To dance in Bollywood movies to be precise.

He is passionate about dancing and his mother fiercely asserts despite her qualms that he is very good at it. She worries about his education and her means to get him dance lessons. One can make out, my mother said to me, that she hasn’t ruled out that option yet. As all mothers she wants him to be happy, but Sunita knows making her son’s dream come true with his present condition and negligible medical help will be a distant reality.  For now she wants him to complete year 10 at school before anything else can be determined. He has constant trouble with structure and academics but is not particularly perturbed that he is unlike his peers in school. He also works part time as an embroiderer in old Delhi making beautiful designs on anarkali suits come to life under the beady eyes of some embroidery masterji.

In his free time he fills in for his mother and takes care of his younger siblings, making them hot rotis and entertaining them with his latest moves, dreams of dancing in Bollywood alongside a big star, maybe even of becoming a star himself, makes periodic 3 am visits to G.B. Pant hospital in Daryaganj for post seizure check up with his mother to beat the rush, and of course, practices his slingshot aim.

The Competition

I know most evil geniuses are allowed long and fascinatingly magnificent monologues of extremely frightening proportions just before they are thwacked out of their skulls by the goody two shoes in red over underweyar. Most showcase cunning and eveeeil. Some give a vivid display of hitherto unimagined dexterity of careful fore-planning. Some are repetitive yet captivating, in the same manner as how all John Mayer’s songs sound the same but you still go back to them because the sound is still pleasing to the ear and have the power to surprise you. Owing to this fact and my own inherently villainous nature, I had decided to christen my blog what it is named now. Even the dreariest of days and experiences journaled might be of some interest to someone somewhere, or at least chanced upon by a click-happy hapless blog surfer. *cue in evil as a weevil laughter*

But, I am no longer so confident of my monologuing ways and days. Sadly disillusioned, I know now that the domain is not just mine. I share the space with a more frightening and practiced species. The Delhi Aunty.

Now on a short trip to Delhi, I realize aunties of the capital enjoy unparalleled repertoire of verbal prowess and paltform. It’s neither an opening monologue nor one that marks the closing of a rare meeting or conversation. It’s neither educational nor of much consequence in the larger scheme or things. It is instructional and epic but that is more one sided than the monologuer perceives but perhaps a life lesson on pain avoidance to the listener. It’s spectacular to behold though and imprisoning. I don’t mean topically captivating. I mean you cannot move until it’s over because your hands are in a vice clawgrip. Without a break in character, intent or tone, these episodes of well meaning and frightening emission of words can go on for hours.

Overheard on a plane, a monologue imparted by a Delhi Aunty to a 23 year old on the flight into the city. I barely escaped by feigning sleep at the correct time (pre eye-contact).

Disclaimer: extensive transliteration and phonetic spelling ahead to retain essence of conversation.

Aunty: Achcha beta, can I sit in your window waala seat? Dum ghut raha hai mera. You know kloshtophobia is there.

Beta: Sure, aunty, sure… no problem. (I know what sacrifice this is after making sure you get a window seat in the front of the plane.)

Aunty: So sweet, hainh. Thanks ya. Then are you professunal in Dilli city? My son is toh injiniyer in Banglorr. I came to visit him only. He is earning 2.5 lakhs a month but not getting married only. I am telling him that ke now if you don’t marry at 26 when will I get grandchildren. Waise how old are you? Are you from Dilli only? Very sweet, so fair. Nice your hair also. What shampoo you use? My toh Pamela, you know my beauty parlour waali, she is telling me, by God, Mrs Bhola, you have what beautiful hair. You in fact have a hair of a 25 year old ladki. How old are you, beta? You didn’t tell na? My skin is also touchwood. Soft.

Beta: 23, Aunty. I am working in Bangalore…

Aunty: Wow, beta, wow. Lovely age na. Ek dum enjoying waala age. No college. Only khud ke paise. You should get married. Bilkul correct time is this. Your husband will also enjoy… (At this point I almost unfeigned my slumber to ask pertinent questions, but recently someone had told me to not be too confrontational, especially with drunk people, and this I reasoned was the same thing, or close enough.) …But you girls also na, I know. All earn big salary and like to buy Vero Moda ke bags and shoes and take pictures in hotel bathroom mirrors. My niece na, Simran, she is always partying only. All her money is going in Mango and Accessorijs. But her fiancé gifted her 4 karrat dimund ring. So big. He is in Kanehda for 6 years now. Earning in dollars. Waise my Rahul also studied in the Jewkay. MS in Injiniyering. Very cold Jewkay is, patah hai? I went for graduation ceremony in Junwary just in 2010. Hai, my bones were only baraf.

Beta: (frantically looking for her iPod earphones) Yeah. Err, aunty…

Aunty: Oh, nice iPhone case ya. Look, my Rahul bought me crystal case from Flipkart. Cool, na? Your phone is old model, na? Mine toh bilkul new only. Rahul is very good with technulogy. Everything he knows ek dum in market iPhone, iPad sab. Dell ka laptop also he is using like jinn. Wah what what he shows on laptop. He bought SARI also on the online for me. Abhi toh it’s in my sootcase. I will show you in the airport. What soft material yaar. Kitni pyaari colour it is. He has such good choice. So lucky his wife will be, I keep telling my husband, Mr Bhola. Learn something from your son, ji. But he tells me, who has he learnt from, you tell me that first. Hahahaha. My husband is very good humour. Touchwood 28 years marriage is still nu only. He has never eaten my haath ke parathe jaise anywhere. He goes for conference all over India but likes my food ony.

Beta: (not as forthcoming as before) Aunty, it’s an iPod. You should switch off your phone now.

Aunty: Oh, ho. Yes, yes. Now beta, no more talking okay. Watch the air hostess. Important this is.

Beta: Yes, aunty. (and promptly stuffs in earphones and feigns sleep)

That’s right. I may not be champion monolguer at large, but I know when to pick moments to feign sleep. Hmph. Naive 23 year olds. *smirk*

The family episode

Bad times come in rapid relentless succession. Saddled with a month old baby, the Delhi Goswami contingent is going through a bout of phenomenal bad luck. A month old niece who doesn’t sleep unless rocked and barely lets her mom rest, a brother who contracted dengue while crusading for the resurrection of a neighbourhood park and a mother who woke up at 4am one morning and experienced a frightening episode of viral vertigo is now on a week long bed rest and a hapless help is sadly overworked but smiles through it all. The Assam contingent isn’t thriving either but poor ol’ Pop is somehow managing fighting a cold + flu and providing meals for himself all on his lonesome.

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The sole Bangalore member shod in her yellow shoes is now in Delhi doing her best Florence Nightingale bit. A role she isn’t born into but has realised bullying and cajoling can go a long way in the caregiving industry. But even so, has forbidden any more illness to befall near and dear ones.

Saffera, the Golden Retriever/Labrador mix is well rested and untroubled by most things. A delay in incoming morning and evening meals/snack can cause minor periods of concern, but a friendly enough nudge and tail wag with mournful, melting brown eyes soon fixes such problems.

Sigh. This too shall pass. And all that jazz.

Yellow shoes and the elusive clay pot

Recently my yellow shoes took me to a mini hunt for clay pots (with corresponding saucers – somehow the concept be lost on the fancy ‘gardening’ shops who have the design aesthetics of a tellytubby! But that’s the subject for another rant).

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We met a surly gentleman who was convinced everything was too expensive for us to buy. I mean I know we like a good bargain and my offer for most things starts at 50 rupees but we aren’t sorry looking to the extent that business owners start dissuading us from making a purchase. Achcha, so we did kinda wear slightly worn out track pants. But they could be Juicy Couture no?

There were some lovely orchids and succulents which Bob and Pokhila have secretly started a love affair with and will acquire soon.

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We did locate a more promising garden store called The Jade Garden on Assaye Road near our house and after a brief chat with the proprietor (who was friendly and forthcoming and eager to please like business owners are supposed to be! Hmph!) we have a ressurection strategy for our existing plants who are currently in a constant battle for nutrients and water. But even better than that, we now have an expansion plan for a bigger indoor garden with vibrantly hued terracotta pots. Yay. I can almost hear Pom groaning not too inwardly.

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As per usual, the clan got sidetracked with a handmade chocolate store. In our defence, the place was called Chocolate Garden. So there. Could have been about flowers so we went in to investigate. After a quick but comprehensive tasting session here are our findings: notable flavours are coffee, chilli and cognac. The chilli one was my favourite. The surprising aftertaste of hot chilli warming your throat was absolutely divine. There was also a 74% dark affair which was gorgeous. Reminded me of the huge 80% dark lindt bars me and Arundhati used to savour for weeks. Mostly because we were poor students and it was Lindt and not Amul chocolate (which I’m convinced is not real chocolate). They also do picture frame chocolates where you get to eat a cherished likeness of yourself and your significant other. Somehow the idea of photo cakes never appealed to me and this even less so.

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There was also a rather disappointing search for a washing machine sometime that same day. And a failed attempt at trying to watch Besharam, possibly the worst film I’ve seen of late and I’m taking Raaz 3 into account. Sigh.

My yellow shoes be looking to take me to a different city soon, on not happy prospects, but life’s like that. 😦

Pokhila out.

Yellow shoes and mini-meals :-)

My day started reliving my Asda/Tesco/Sainbury visits. The huge ones. The ones you can run down  teeming aisles of. The ones where you think of a product and you find it. I found my slice of retail (sub section:grocery) heaven: Metro super market.

After an hour of deliberation and deep thought over err a number of very essential items which may or may not have entailed “Yipee! Whadisdat! I must try that. Let’s chuck it in this huge cart which is way too empty”, came the equally long and efficient -in your 90s ka kirana shop- billing system. And they don’t even take (my ever increasing pile of) sodexho coupons. 😦

Post exhaustive shopping expedition came a long awaited visit to A2B for my mini-meal. The filter coffee was most excellent but personally, I, as a reluctant eater of South Indian food as some of you know, have had better. There I said it. Mishali, you can kill me.

But here is what the hyped platter looked like:

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Later the same day ( I know, *gasp gasp* the usually sedentary Pokhila be like a whirling dervish today! ) I went furniture scouting with my flatmates. We didn’t find any owing to the fact that what we want isn’t err tacky enough to be sold but we did eat yummy random roadside egg pakodas.
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Bought a lot of “hot chips” – locally designed, excitingly spicy and Indian and deep fried in relatively fresh oil, crisps for sustenance.

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Behind the hot chips is my favourite lil Mallu-Punjabi kudi – Bobby. Maker of mouth watering food, even better ginger (and now Moroccon) chai and dancer to any happy beat.

And then we saw some pretty wrought iron design/workshop:

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At one point Bobby needed to sit, so sit she did:

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We also located the Sign Factory:

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Means ab now you know.

And of course the yellow shoes. Fourth I have owned in succession owing to excessive partiality to colour 🙂 :

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Pokhila also invented/adapted and made very first South Indian tomato chutney with peanuts and chana daal and a jeera, mustard seed, chilly tadka.

Verdict: Pokhila can’t unleash it to the world yet but it has immense potential. And tastes yummy with bread.

I also attempted aloo poshto. It’s not there yet in terms of queuing Bengali gentlemens falling at my feet to marry me, but ondabhay I say.

Bobby, dekh li? Post likh di main. *grin*

New tricks, yes, but same old dogs.

After months of waiting and plotting & planning and mounting anticipation came to us wrapped in a green hospital blanket and a scrunched up wrinkly  leetil thing. Me very first, brand new niece: Aaradhya “Sana” Goswami. Now a month old, an extremely feisty, determined pink bundle ushering in the best kind of phases in every family. Beginnings.

There is nothing nicer than beginnings. Any kind is good, some are better than other others. The start of new weeks for example, is always a welcome event for work related issues. One hopes optimistically, that last week, the long one that refused to end and gave you heartburn was an anomaly, and this week, this new bright batch of five days has the promise of less work, fewer emails, and infinite more tea breaks than the last. New months are even better. Like September. All my shows were back with new seasons and I had forgiven the ones with bad last season endings because, let’s face it, summer shows are so blah. But now, October is obviously going to be much better than September. Duh! September sounds only ekdum dreary! October = Oktoberfest, beer, galas, not-September, yaii! But wait till you hit say, 13th of October. November starts looking like the bee’s knees. Of course, you’re going to “start” all the pending chores in the new month. No use starting now. 13th doesn’t have a good “feel” to it anyways. 1st is always opportune/auspicious/correct/apt time to start,

Birthdays and new years are also a good point to chalk up new life courses and write up a soon forgotten to-do list, diet plans, resolutions etc. Those usually get penned down in the morning and after your second or twentieth Cuba Libre err cupcake (of course), the location of the list is lost to all mankind until ten years later, in the flurry of a reluctant spring clean session, you find it carefully folded and appropriately faded. You read, reminisce and you chuckle to yourself. You even show it to your friends and family, and all marvel at your optimistic, youthful zeal. Now, you know better. You don’t even bother. *smirk* So smart, na?

But even better than calendar beginnings are complete environmental and locational overhauls. Okay, I don’t mean shifting from a dying Earth that eerily resembles Indian slums to Elysium, resembling oft cinematically showcased Beverly Hills (I watched that film recently, nothing new to report. Yes, Matt Damon dies), though I’m sure, that was a extremely welcome beginning for all concerned. But, even better, considering the niggling aspect of reality and all, is moving to a new place.  I recently moved to a loverly new house, all sunshine, trees, birds and more importantly: SPACE. All these birds chirping, sun beams lighting up my every step, flowers blooming and dipping their heads in the breeze to greet me etc., gives me immense zeal to pursue new possibilities. So far I have been in my new digs for about a fortnight and in case you are wondering, I still love it, and the newness hasn’t worn off but I have decided that the first month of moving in is all about getting comfortable and err, getting used to things, places, people etc and err, as such the second month into new said digs is when the real, actual new things have to start. No?

So, November 1st, tally-ho!

Monsoons, if by the sea :-)

Hello, happy world 🙂 (see, getaways are a major mood enhancer. Have you ever encountered such a happy greeting from me before?)

My fleeting visit to Mangalore started with light rains, followed by a promising pink blush of dawn staining the horizon dotted with tiled roofs fringed by coconut palms and a sleepy Shona picking me up from the stop on the day of her engagement. I have known Shona since she was 15. In the decade of our association, she has magically remained the same person, slow with words, self-assured and incredibly cheeky and prone to pranks when you least expect her to, and at the same time, grown up to be a balanced, confident person & a cautious business woman. I am a bridesmaid for her wedding in January next year and I just can’t wait for the pre-wedding celebrations to kick-start in a few months.

Interestingly all of her three bridesmaids have lived with her at some point or the other, and not unsurprisingly even though the three of us are completely unalike one another, she has formed deep, lasting relationships with all. This is a small marker of Shona’s social, effervescent personality. Even as a 15 year-old she would make social calls to neighbours and family friends on her visits to Mangalore, her hometown by default, not upbringing. Having spent 15 years in Saudi Arabia, she still managed to inherit her mum’s zest for keeping up relations with relatives and friends on short visits to India. Even I as a frequent house guest at her maternal grandmother’s place, have accompanied her on these. Just watching her interact with her guests on her engagement, one could see she has a personal connection with most of them. I guess I could learn a lot from her, but my inherent cynicism probably won’t let me 😉 Also, I am set in my ways now, non? On a separate note, this was my first visit to M’lore where I didn’t see or live with Mai, Shona’s grandma, a card game enthusiast, plant lover – she had an amazing natural garden, which has now sadly been replaced by a tiled drivethrough to the back of the house, and a much loved social bee of Urwa Stores, her locality. Ashokbagh will, I guess, never be the same without her warmth and fantastic cooking, but the intense card game I witnessed on the last night is a legacy she left behind in her progeny that is no where close to diminishing.

Shona engagement

Shona, I & Abhilasha after hours of dancing 🙂

Cicadas chirping, a sound I rarely, if ever, hear in Bangalore. This marked my two day stay in the sleepy, homely beach town. I couldn’t make a trip to the beach like I would have liked, and had to be content with Tipu’s fort and the river thanks to Abhilasha, Warren & Aston, but there was an overwhelming feeling of peace and quiet that revived me. The sleepless bus journey back to Bangalore managed to shatter all  of that, but hey, you get some, you lose some. Or wait, what was the other saying, more apt for me… There is no rest for the wicked… Yeah, I like that one better 😉

If you ever do visit Mangalore, eat a lot of sea-food, and well any other meat you like – if it’s meat, there will definitely be a local delicacy dish, and eat everything with ponpalleys if you can ;). Visit the beach – all if possible, even the rocky ones have their own charm, eat Pabba’s Ice Cream – my personal favourite is the Chocolate Dad, but if you like something more trademark Pabba’s, go for the Parfait or Gadbad, have a social evening with the locals if possible. There is a resonant multi-cultural vibe in Mangalore, but from my considerable (for a visitor) exposure to the town, there are few clans as vivacious and fun-loving as the Mangi-Catholics, and dance. Dance your heart out to baila (it’s junglee, raucous and amazing fun) and jive (if you know how, otherwise you can always stick to baila).

Now I need to plan for the coming weekends. Sigh, have KSRTC buses, must travel 🙂

Rediscovering Poetry: T.S. Eliot.

There is so much to be said about good poetry, if only I was as adept with words as those who write it, I would gladly pen them down. As I wind down a busy Saturday, with nary a thought in my head nor the will to do much else, tonight I read Eliot. And so can you, if you should want.

The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock (Prufrock)

LET us go then, you and I,
When the evening is spread out against the sky
Like a patient etherized upon a table;
Let us go, through certain half-deserted streets,
The muttering retreats
Of restless nights in one-night cheap hotels
And sawdust restaurants with oyster-shells:
Streets that follow like a tedious argument
Of insidious intent
To lead you to an overwhelming question…
Oh, do not ask, “What is it?”
Let us go and make our visit.

In the room the women come and go
Talking of Michelangelo.

The yellow fog that rubs its back upon the window-panes,
The yellow smoke that rubs its muzzle on the window-panes
Licked its tongue into the corners of the evening,
Lingered upon the pools that stand in drains,
Let fall upon its back the soot that falls from chimneys,
Slipped by the terrace, made a sudden leap,
And seeing that it was a soft October night,
Curled once about the house, and fell asleep.

And indeed there will be time    
For the yellow smoke that slides along the street,    
Rubbing its back upon the window panes;
There will be time, there will be time    
To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet;    
There will be time to murder and create,    
And time for all the works and days of hands    
That lift and drop a question on your plate;
Time for you and time for me,    
And time yet for a hundred indecisions,    
And for a hundred visions and revisions,    
Before the taking of a toast and tea.  

In the room the women come and go
Talking of Michelangelo.

And indeed there will be time
To wonder, “Do I dare?” and, “Do I dare?”
Time to turn back and descend the stair,
With a bald spot in the middle of my hair—
(They will say: “How his hair is growing thin!”)
My morning coat, my collar mounting firmly to the chin,
My necktie rich and modest, but asserted by a simple pin—
(They will say: “But how his arms and legs are thin!”)
Do I dare
Disturb the universe?
In a minute there is time
For decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse.

For I have known them all already, known them all:
Have known the evenings, mornings, afternoons,
I have measured out my life with coffee spoons;
I know the voices dying with a dying fall
Beneath the music from a farther room.
So how should I presume?

And I have known the eyes already, known them all—
The eyes that fix you in a formulated phrase,
And when I am formulated, sprawling on a pin,
When I am pinned and wriggling on the wall,
Then how should I begin
To spit out all the butt-ends of my days and ways?
And how should I presume?

And I have known the arms already, known them all—
Arms that are braceleted and white and bare
(But in the lamplight, downed with light brown hair!)
Is it perfume from a dress
That makes me so digress?
Arms that lie along a table, or wrap about a shawl.
And should I then presume?
And how should I begin?

Shall I say, I have gone at dusk through narrow streets
And watched the smoke that rises from the pipes
Of lonely men in shirt-sleeves, leaning out of windows?…

I should have been a pair of ragged claws
Scuttling across the floors of silent seas.

And the afternoon, the evening, sleeps so peacefully!
Smoothed by long fingers,
Asleep … tired … or it malingers,
Stretched on the floor, here beside you and me.
Should I, after tea and cakes and ices,
Have the strength to force the moment to its crisis?
But though I have wept and fasted, wept and prayed,
Though I have seen my head (grown slightly bald) brought in upon a platter,
I am no prophet—and here’s no great matter;
I have seen the moment of my greatness flicker,
And I have seen the eternal Footman hold my coat, and snicker,
And in short, I was afraid.

And would it have been worth it, after all,
After the cups, the marmalade, the tea,
Among the porcelain, among some talk of you and me,
Would it have been worth while,
To have bitten off the matter with a smile,
To have squeezed the universe into a ball
To roll it toward some overwhelming question,
To say: “I am Lazarus, come from the dead,
Come back to tell you all, I shall tell you all”—
If one, settling a pillow by her head,
Should say: “That is not what I meant at all;
That is not it, at all.”

And would it have been worth it, after all,
Would it have been worth while,
After the sunsets and the dooryards and the sprinkled streets,
After the novels, after the teacups, after the skirts that trail along the floor—
And this, and so much more?—
It is impossible to say just what I mean!
But as if a magic lantern threw the nerves in patterns on a screen:5
Would it have been worth while
If one, settling a pillow or throwing off a shawl,
And turning toward the window, should say:

“That is not it at all,
That is not what I meant, at all.”

No! I am not Prince Hamlet, nor was meant to be;
Am an attendant lord, one that will do
To swell a progress, start a scene or two,
Advise the prince; no doubt, an easy tool,
Deferential, glad to be of use,
Politic, cautious, and meticulous;
Full of high sentence, but a bit obtuse;
At times, indeed, almost ridiculous—
Almost, at times, the Fool.

I grow old … I grow old …
I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled.    

Shall I part my hair behind? Do I dare to eat a peach?    
I shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach.    
I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each.    
I do not think that they will sing to me.
 
I have seen them riding seaward on the waves
Combing the white hair of the waves blown back
When the wind blows the water white and black.

We have lingered in the chambers of the sea
By sea-girls wreathed with seaweed red and brown
Till human voices wake us, and we drown.

– T.S. Eliot

At some point, this will be about men.

I started this blog because I was in the habit of writing poetry on bits of paper and then, not surprisingly, losing them. Then I started emailing them to myself, then losing them in the inbox. The idea of a blog was long overdue by the time it actually started, but at the outset it was supposed to be co-hosted by myself & Arundhati – mostly centred around our mis-capades in Bangalore (read: struggles with devious auto drivers). So, we might have been OD-ing on SATC at the time, and/or Gilmore Girls – we were young and naive and had recently discovered a pirated DVD shop with interesting deals. Don’t worry, we don’t buy those anymore (on pain of bad print, and advent of ACT Broadband connection with 10mbps speed). Our blog might have been called Autorickshaw & The City for all we know. Yeah, we were those girls. We also listened to Michael Bolton and knew all the Nicole Scherzinger songs. Get over it. So, anyway, I did start eventually and now I think it serves the higher purposes of being able to write out whatever you are thinking and leaving it as a draft till you are ready to delete it (after having simmered down) – similar to writing out texts you really mean to and then write over – but with less repercussions like the possibility of hitting “send” instead of “discard”. “Way to get repressed feelings out, Priyadarshini!” – I can hear Mishali screaming out to me. Why do people full name you when they want to show displeasure. Are we more receptive when full named? Beats me. *shrugs shoulder* It’s a good thing I didn’t pursue psychology or my poor patients would have been trained as my elite corps of mal-adjusted, misguided citizens, and not the  types that fit the MI6 profile either, which reminds me, when is the next Bond film out? When DC is 80? – Ah, who are we kidding, he would still be hot 😀 <people, who know me – stop rolling your eyes> But despite not being a professional advice giver, friends and acquaintances get the occasional and somewhat terrible idea of asking me for opinions even after I have been known to give bad advice knowingly & periodically to people who piss me off in the hope that when my not-so-bright idea fails, they will blame me and stop coming back to me. (And then, of course, they come back for more. I mean if you are an awesome person, you’ll know what this feels like, but this is what you do – you give them two contradicting equally bad options and keep a journal on which option they use and use that as fodder for further bad advice formulations – if you’ve ever got shrunk by me unwittingly or not, you need to go seek proper help pronto.) In my meager defense, aside from being an openly insidiously villainous person, when you try to make people see sense about 20 odd times, and they still do something stupid instead and proclaim they are following your footsteps, you would rather tell them what they want to hear than what they need to. Especially when they are mental health professionals themselves. (Maybe this bit ought to have been left behind in the “draft” section of things.) Yeah, I am a healthy, responsible  individual, as you can see, but, hey, at least some people think I am the most sorted person they know. (Really, if you hear about their family stories, you would be nominating them for an Oprah sponsored villa or use them as material for an interesting short story you plan to write and not give them credit for). But enough about me (before I lose the precious few readers), more about Jeff Bingham. He is one of the most interesting and honest characters I have ever watched on a show – and by interesting I mean in the anthropological psychology sense which helps us divine the mental machinations of men and by honest I mean truthful and without the artifice of being the love(male)child of Nicholas Sparks and Nora Roberts. Cue in sappy music, chocolate hearts and practice your Heimlichs, ladies & gents.

I have had an insistent niggling suspicion that most male characters on shows and films (not the indie ones, obviously, cause there everyone is laid out bare, sometimes, too bare :P) are either exaggerated (flirtatious and witty – the smart, checks all boxes but is deviously exciting male) or downright farcical (romantic & goofy – take home to the family, caring &  sensitive male). Men are more like Bertie Wooster, the simplistic, slightly slow but well meaning geek, and before you panic, Jeff Bingham, the simplistic, slightly slow but well meaning jock. These are the two types of men there are so far, or a mix of both (go, figure) and neither are the above mentioned often misrepresented types :D. In these scenarios, Jeeves is what a man would like to think he is actually like and Russell is what all women think men are prone to becoming if not taken under their wing – false on both accounts, methinks. There, now you know it, thank me later.

If you are at this point befuddled as to what I am going on about, you need to watch Rules of Engagement and catch up on your P.G. Wodehouse. My favourite Wodehouse character is the ingenious Psmith. He knows it all, does it all and escapes almost any situation, troublesome nosy matchmaking aunts et al without a scratch, and minimal emotional trauma.  Psmith in the City and Leave it to Psmith – those are the two books you are looking to read – especially if you have an easy planter’s chair on a verandah (if you don’t know what this looks like you need to look them up) to loll about on a rainy afternoon in Assam, say mid monsoon around 2 p.m with the requisite steaming mug of tea. I was quite obsessed with Psmith for a while, drove my mother wild – not as wild as my Ipsita Roy Chakraverti, Terminator 2: Judgment Day or Mask of Zorro fixation, but still  it was something.

Cue in video of baby villain I was likened to not two weeks back.

Nu-uh you didun’t :D

Cooking leads to untold happiness. Mostly manifesting visually in the specific areas of body where mysterious lumps form overnight. It also leads to manifold miseries (and domestic violence). I am not talking just about hot oil splatter on now unflinching skin or vegetable chopping a.k.a. the most boring job in the world. I am in fact fixating about dish washing which is rendering my hands into feeling like rough leather. No matter what you make, be it a cup of tea or a measly cold sandwich, and even the detested bowl of oats (cause, “Have you seen a fat horse?” was my mum’s response to “Why is oats good to lose weight?”), there is always collateral damage. Something invariably needs to be washed, then dried, then put away, and guess what – then used again. It’s a never ending cycle. Damnable nuisance. I have half a mind to turn cuckoo and use disposable things entirely. But not only am I not prone to wastefulness, and in Bangalore, that’ll just add to the already increasing mounds of unsegregated garbage around every conceivable corner also known as Bhojanalay for the Savvy Street Dog, I neither have the resources to live off restaurant food for every meal to save me from washing dishes. You would think, bah, she is in India now, why doesn’t she just someone to come and help? I’ll tell you why, and this is my curse, I will probably wash everything before the house help materializes on my doorstep every morning. I cannot see dishes lying in the sink. It gives me a case of interminable heebie jeebies. Also, they wet more surface area than required and wet surfaces are yucky. Buss. So yes, I am fundamentally unhelpable and yet prone to launch into extended rants at will. Also, to my now growing horror “unhelpable” as a word has a wiki entry among other online dictionaries and is recognized as a valid scrabble word! Whatareyousaying!

FacePalm

So, no really, this is supposed to be about cooking. Ah, yes: Nigella Lawson. Queen of Food Porn, maker of sinful desserts and smizer of lust dripping in vats of butter covered in proschutto and  devour-er of midnight “snacks” which make my Sunday lunches look like Oliver Twist’s gruel. I do like her and sympathize with her recent woes. I don’t understand what’s going on with public display of anger husband, and all the necking & nose digging which rendered her looking like a distraught Arwen Undómiel after trying to read The Silmarillion.

So really, how did that conversation playing out in Saatchi’s head, I wonder?

C.S.: Honey, we have to talk about the kids.

N.L.: Sure, but first can you smell that gorgeous aroma of oozing decadence from the kitchen? Mmm-hmm. *smize-suggestive jiggle-smize*

C.S.: *splutter* *choke* *grinding teeth* How dare you distract me. I will dig your nose for that, you leftover-sandwich-making-wife-whom-I-am-supposed-to-love-and-respect.

N.L.: Okay, I’ll just sit and let you that to me, then. Chalo, naak saaf karne ke baad gardan bhi daba dena, please.

(*exaggerated eye rolling*, fine, I’ll try not being flippant about domestic-in-public-abuse) but I will tell you this: The day I start cooking like her, singing like Adele and entertaining like Rebel Wilson, I will have reached me promised land. But since today is not that day and I have diminishing dress sizes to keep, today I must finish me surya namaskars on time – which reads: not watching shows on laptop whilst yoga to avoid twisting around asanas for better view of screen and thereby hurting self. Yes, I do that more often than I care to admit. Phooey baloney! Baloney sammich….sigh.

Oh, and on North ‘Nori’ West (who in my mind is North by Northwest), I recently read somewhere (okay, fine, so I read it on Daily Mail): “Calling the baby North is like calling Liam Payne’s daughter Period.” =D

Please Switch Off Your Cellphones Before Reading

It’s enough to make you sick…very sick 😉

Ashish Shakya

I don’t mean to brag, but I’m very talented at eating bits of burnt tyre masquerading as popcorn. So clearly, I’m a fan of multiplexes, and will go in to watch pretty much every movie that comes in to town, unless it involves the Deols and an orangutan. (I’m sorry. That’s no way to talk about Bobby.)

This is why I don’t get people who download the latest movies and watch them at home, when they can just walk into a nearby theatre and surrender to a giant thundering canvas that will melt their brains with sixteen hours of footage before the actual film. Take, for example, the anti-tobacco ad. You’d destroy more brain cells just watching that ad than if you were to smoke a pack while sucking on every exhaust pipe that passes through Marol.

What gets to you is the element of surprise. You know they’ll play…

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Ring ’em up!

Weirdly enough for some people, boredom is the stepping stone to monumental flashes of inspiration. I am that person. Most of what I do, down to career paths culminate out of phases of epic boredom. Changing jobs, changing locations, changing education streams. All out of boredom.  Even hobbies start and finish with waves and troughs of boredom. Also, mostly once I get good at something, it ceases to interest me. I wonder what that is about. But this post was supposed to about something else. Let’s stop ranting and concentrate. Yoga music – yes, very calming. I see why having pan pipe music and similar is good whilst doing yoga and reading. In the absence of Pom’s piano playing, one must  make do with other sources of life’s soundtrack. Also, Gourmet on MG road is not the most efficient grocer. No, that wasn’t it, either. Oh, yeah, the current state of affairs of cool online places to buy interesting things from (from things I mean clothes, bags, shoes and fantastic accessories).

I have steered clear of the obvious Amazon, Jabong, Myntra and Flipkart, cause if you haven’t heard of them, you should crawl back under that rock from whence you emerged, and also, there is nothing personal about these. I’d rather go for stores where the clothes and ilk are carefully handpicked and styled. So these are my top picks:

The A-J-Store. – This one is a brainchild of one of my juniors in college. We were in adjacent social groups and had occasional run-ins, and even back then, I loved the way she would style herself. She has this confident effortless way of blending in, sometimes the most seemingly out-of-context clothes and accessories into something stylish and chic. She models her own wares on her online store and gives you a definite sense of what the outfit/accessory will look like. Most importantly, in this day and age of fleeting fashions, her stuff is reasonably priced – so definite good value for money directly from someone who has her finger on the latest fashion pulse.

The Fabulous Aien Jamir

Tailorman – This one’s for the boys! And every girl who likes a man in a well tailored, bespoke suit. At least, I do. I have grown up around men who have had their suits expertly cut and tailored – old school style. My father always had a regular appointment at his outfitters on almost every visit to Kolkata – vestigial suit makers from colonial times, with superb finishing and design aesthetics, and same goes now for my brother. Buying ready-made suits may be cheaper and less to deal with, but if you are a man who likes to suit up (not just has to), BESPOKE, BESPOKE, BESPOKE all the way! So, if you are in Bangalore and on the lookout for good suit makers/tailors… pay these guys a visit. They also tailor shirts!

Suit up!

Tungs10:  For the kitschy homemaker and accessory lover in you, this is one of the nicest places to buy cool things from. They have really interesting prints, blending history and pop art in bright colours and bold pattern choices. I found their cushion covers extremely interesting, and their bags are pretty cool too. I wouldn’t say they are the most reasonable store around, but if you want something different and unique, they are definitely a good place to try. They have a blog & the range online in different stores like this one  🙂 Ooh, and they have cash on delivery 😀

For more funky things for your home (especially if you get hypnotised by bright colours like I do) check Madras Mambalam out.  I can stare at their wares for hours till I am am drooly and googly-eyed.

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Rangkosh – If you are a fan of silver jewellery, this is a store you should check out. I came across them at a Soul Sante market (a lovely flea market with so much to see and covet – clothes, craft, food, music – all in one venue, but more about the awesome Soul Sante later…) recently and was super impressed by the adapted traditional pieces and contemporary designs by two lovely girls. Have a look 🙂

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Two other stores which have impressed me are Candidly Couture and The Bombay Story – These are again affordable online shopping stores for women. They have a good sense of styles & trends and easy shopping/payment/shipping options. So, the next time you are staring at racks of  listless clothes trying to make the best bet out of a bad lot, try one of these online stores instead, and I am sure there are tonnes more which I haven’t yet come across.

Happy retail therapy!

Mud Pie and the rest

It’s a quiet Sunday afternoon. Pom has recently risen after her afternoon nap. We are sitting holding steaming mugs of tea in companionable silence, till…

Me: (on the young Bangalore crowd after a rare Saturday night out)

I feel like an old woman with a decent grasp on youth.

Pom: (pulling her hair irritatedly, frowning)

I want mud pie.

Me:

Okay, when we go out next, we will. Gosh, it’s about to pour!!

Pom: (frowning more intensely than before)

Do you want mud pie?

Me: (looking out worriedly at the overcast sky)

No, Pom. Don’t you think we should get an umbrella for the car, Pom?

Pom: (triumphantly)

That’s it. I am ordering aglio olio!

Me:

It’s only 6, I can make that at home tonight! I thought you wanted mud pie?

Pom: (pacing around kitchen while I continue my worried survey of the sky)

Hmm. I want to eat something sweet. I wonder what.

Me:

Err… we could go out for mud pie?

Pom: (licking a spoon recently heaped with almond powder)

Nah! Not today. Today I want pizza.

And that is one of the saner weekend conversations we have had in the last two months.

Brain Freeze

No, this one is not about ice cream or slush (if you don’t know what slush is, I disown you), although in hindsight, I would have liked it to  be.

Is Google Making Us Stupid? – Yes.

This is something I have been worrying about lately. My short term memory is still decent-ish, considering my extensive Indian education wherein I was periodically made to inhale and spit out information on demand, but I seem to be unable to recall at a later date much of the information I read on a daily basis ( I instead put in keywords into a handy little search bar and wait for the link which looks the closest to what I was thinking about.) When I want to recall names, quotes, news and information, my first  instinct is to snap my phone out and Google it. That’s it, using that search engine as a verb is the whole point. I Google extensively, Wikipedia most things, and Britannica my way out of doubts etc., all because I love the amount of information there is to available online, but to what avail, as my brain seems to retain naught but 1% of it all. When I was younger, without access to a mobile, I used to be able to rattle off tens of numbers of family and friends, but now other than about five, I don’t even bother. There were times when I had two mobile connections, and I didn’t even remember either of my own properly. This seems like as good a opportunity as any for an apology, I swear I meant to give my correct number, Red Cross, but I bungled it up all because technology made me careless.

Adding to this increasing depressing list of which ways I am stupider, I don’t remember names of some films I have watched & even liked, books I have read (I know I watch and read a lot of these, but still…) songs (forget lyrics… but, of course I remember all the songs, down to the sighs & dance steps, of all the boy bands from the ’90s) and names of paintings I like (again, other than dating to pre-smartphone era). I’ll be checking my Facebook friend list to remember the names of my friends next. I listen to my mother talk about things that happened in our lives, in history, and general knowledge literally on every conceivable topic, probably having gleaned the information from the same programmes on TV or news articles, but it’s shameful amazing how these bits of information are relayed with such clarity that I feel instantly gauche and stupid. I might know a lot more about fancy gadgets and bits of electronic trickery but about the world at large I am a total ignoramus, and hugely undependable as a source of information. Fortunately the Tell Me Whys and Lexicon Encyclopedia and David Attenborough’s shows and the ilk are still firmly embedded into my mind, thanks to pre-Google memory.

Now, on the other hand (yes, there is always a flip-side to all my faults, as I am near impossible to rattle for too long), Sherlock says (the Benedict Cumberbatch one, hence one must pay close attention) that there is no point to crowding one’s brain with random information which don’t serve any purpose. If the brain is to be used to its immediate available potential efficiently, it must be kept uncluttered of things one can access by other means. There is a lot of paraphrasing and body shielding going on here, but how I interpret Sherlock is my business 😀 I think this is the same reason why my mum doesn’t believe in retaining much of what I teach her about the laptop/BB for too long as it interferes with the way she prefers to store and access information. Sigh, but I can already see how people in my generation hardly have long interesting conversations organically between friends anymore. Either no one has the time or enough information in their brains to. Other than when there is a new grub spot, then everyone flocks to and makes an evening of it. Damn, this blog should have been about food! Damage!

Almost famous :D

Recently I got myself featured on a fashion blog which me and Arundhati read occasionally. It was  my way of doing something small for my friends and a reminder of what a blessed year we spent together. Style.Ok.Please: Colourful Days

This was my  bit to Bharti (Style.Ok.Please blogger) of which she has used some text in her blog 🙂

“So me and Arundhati have been friends now almost a decade, the kinds that say the same things at the same moment, finish each other’s sentences, some up incongruous words if nothing in the dictionary fits etc., with Diya, take a few years and less telepathy but the same amount of “crazy”. We met in Bangalore, connected by the same college & common friends. Bonding over limited pocket money and shared coffee (2/3 hours over one cappuchino is a feat), hopes & dreams. And as fate would have it, we keep getting separated and reunited ever so often. I was the first to go away to London in 2010 (to pursue an MBA and eventually work there), Arundhati and Diya followed suit in 2011 (Arundhati by marriage, Diya (for her MSc Psych). So, we got another opportunity to spend a crazy year exploring London, shopping, catching shows & musicals, taking endless walks down quintessential London streets. Diya was especially good at keeping a tab on trends, she even knew the Mango, H&M and Zara Sale cycles, for which she would be relentlessly teased (and relied upon). She is now working as a Therapist in two establishments in Kolkata. Arundhati blossomed into her role of a wife, homemaker and is now a Research Fellow at Birbeck University, researching a cure for TB (I am mad proud of this woman, but I shan’t say it to her face so here it is, Ditty). A regular feature to this ensemble is Anando, Arundhati’s amazing husband, a VP at Barclays Capital, listener and sharer of baaad jokes and maker of most excellent cocktails and ever willing dispenser of Jack & Coke, and in this instance willing memory catcher.

I think more than any particular incident, this picture marks a really happy time spent. Now, we are all separated yet again, flung across different cities, but every time I see this picture, it instantly transports me back to that moment (especially the amazing lunch at Tayyabs). And of course, the colours just add to the essence of our friendship ”

Here’s us again windswept and happy 😀

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“I am what I am because of who we all are”

The title seems to be the most popular definition/explanation of “Ubuntu“, an African philosophy. This concept is prevalent throughout the continent, denoted by myriad terminology across the region, but with the same guiding principle. The quote is beautiful, and reverberating. The more I think about it, the more plausible it seems, the more real, till I can’t find any other explanation of why we are the way we are, both individually and as a group.

Other than my immediate family, my friends are the “we” in my immediate world. They define me, as I do them and our life courses change, intermingle, cross and alienate inexorably, repeatedly because of little things we say to one another and seemingly small actions we carry out. These actions may be silent, unnoticed, crazy or deafeningly loud, but are always guided by love, along with other usual elements like allegiance, resentment, jealousy, happiness and sorrow, but most importantly by magic. Maybe it’s love that is the magic element in friendship, maybe friendship is some sort of magic itself that exists to keep us sane, from falling through the cracks of our own personal hells, but whichever it maybe, may even just be a fancy notion in my head, the relationships forged via friendship represent magic to me. This is magic that I can touch, see, feel and hurt from. It is as flawed and perfect as they come. Something compels, something gives, some things are taken away from you and make you feel whole and incomplete at the same time.  Ubuntu. I am now resolved to take portrait shots of my friends and create a memory wall. I just wish they would pay attention to Tyra and learn how to smize! 😛 If any of you know how to, please get in touch. 😉

This is the track playing on loop in my head, and I can’t rid myself of it so, you must suffer along side (it’s a nice song, really, if only it let’s me alone long enough to hear those other voices in my head again!) One Day by Asaf Avidan.

On a less sentimental note, this is the book I want to add to my collection. Mainly because it espouses most of my life’s principles 😀

Advice to Little Girls by Mark Twain

This is another book I am awaiting delivery of and hoping this time around Robert Langdon pauses for water at least whilst running around some code/secret laden city in an alarmingly short span of time.

Inferno by Dan Brown

Recently I read a few books, some of them quite depressing. Or maybe I was in a morose frame of mind as I read them. On a whim I picked up Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni’s short story anthology: Arranged Marriage. Oh, boy, do I regret that. The stories were poignant and beautifully written but…so…sad! 😥 Every last one of them was full of unfulfilled desires, sorrow and most often than naught motif-ed with death. Her Palace of Illusions which I read a few months back was brilliant, although I did take a while to get used to the tone of the narrative. But what was astonishingly brilliant about the book, and which my mother concludes after having read it as well, is that the intrinsic aspects of human nature never really change, and all visible change is only superficial. Every action in the erstwhile saga is relevant and disappointingly human. The same mistakes are being made, the same decisions taken. We don’t really learn, do we? It is horribly subduing to realise these things before one is 30. I object!

Another book I read which I loved, even more so because of the author’s disclaimer stating that he is NO writer (he isn’t, but he is decent story teller and that is important) was How I Braved Anu Aunty and Co-founded a Million Dollar Company by Varun Agarwal. The book was funny, candid and straight from the heart. The author expresses his views on entrepreneurship in India through his own experience as he struggled to set up his company and encourages the youth to believe in their ideas and dreams and push themselves to make them happen. There are no disillusions about the amount of hard work (insane amounts of leg work) and opposition/discouragement/incredulity from family and more importantly, nosy aunties, involved in the process, but it is all written in a bright, humorous, concise account without being preachy which is usually the leitmotif in books like these. I loved that aspect of the book the best, along with Anu Aunty of course, and the references to the Bangalore closest  to my memory of the city. Okay, let’s be honest I was sold at the reference to Hint :D!

Extreme Prejudice Detected

Places visited since last I graced these pages:

In no particular order of preference (or is it):

1. Thulp (Kammanahalli)

 

This place is a beautiful blend of old graceful interiors with high tired ceilings and new-age comic book colour splash in their walls and table ware. Replete with a shelf of books for your perusal and board games like Scrabble, Thulp has one of the most interestingly designed menus and place mats I have seen so far in Bangalore. The food is equally interesting and tasty to boot – a win-win combination. The prices are fair and the items on the menu ranging for all day breakfast meals, starters, sandwiches, burgers and entrees have intriguing names which invariably makes you curious enough to sample the food- a great marketing strategy in itself. The chocolate mud pie (shared by three) as a palate cleanser is a Thulp must.

Website: http://thulp.in/

Menu; http://thulp.in/cafe/menu.php 

 

They even have a contest on. If you can design them a placemat they like, you get 30 meals free! 30 Days of Thulp it is!

2. Infinitea (Cunningham Road)

 

Ever since I have been acquainted with Bangalore some 12 years back on a trip to visit my brother while he was studying in Joseph’s, I have only ever lived in and around Cunningham Road, my first stay being on Ali Askar Road, off Cunningham. Two years later I started my BA in Mount Carmel College on Palace Road, off, you guessed it- Cunningham Road and that’s where I lived for 6 years. Now I am back again and this time (yes I am staying off Cunningham, if you must know) the first things I wanted to do was visit the places I have long standing associations and where a lot of my Bangalore memories originate from. Infinitea is intertwined into the landscape of “my Bangalore” inexorably with my afternoon catch-up tea sessions, PG girls dinners, birthday parties, weekly meetings with my brother…and, so, that’s where I went with Pom on a weekday to have our favourite Mediterranean Chicken and iced tea after a terrible day at work for both of us. The menu remains the same, the prices also peculiarly so. The décor has had some interesting changes but the overall feel of the place remains the same. After visiting Thulp, I think Infinitea could also do with a shelf of books as a “chai khana” ambience demands it. The plating of the food has changed somewhat though, the only wrinkle in the visit. (I like my food to look the same, thank you very much.)

 

Website for online tea shopping: http://www.infinitea.in/Home.aspx

Tea Rooms at Cunningham: http://www.infinitea.in/TeaRoom.aspx

 

3. The Only Place (Museum Road)

 

This used to be that special place to visit in our college days when we had some extra cash and wanted to invest in a particularly nice meal. Now, it’s more a place one can visit when you need a reasonably priced place for a quick lunch on a work day. How times change. The open air ambience in a shady residential plot makes The Only Place a Bangalore favourite. Like the German Café of old on Lavelle Road, this restaurant drew and interesting mixed crowd of office goers, artists and the occasional student in severe need of good wholesome food, which reminds me, I need to investigate if the German Café since relocated to Indiranagar, is still active. I had a burger and lemonade, both very good, but if I recall, very few things on the menu disappoint. and for the animal lover, there are kittens amicably suspended from the chick blinds looking for someone to play with and/or feed them.

 

The only place unfortunately doesn’t have a website but this should help: http://burrp.in.com/bangalore/food-drink/restaurants/the-only-place-museum-road/overview-171186138.html

 

4. The Entertainment Store (Church Street)

 

I don’t know if this is Bangalore’s first, but the only comic book & memorabilia / entertainment store I have visited in the city so far. The stuff is unique and fun, with official merchandise from comic books and film franchises (I particularly liked the Alan bobble-head from The Hangover – mostly because he had the baby with the sun glasses strapped on to him). Their goods comprised of comic books, illustrated novels, apparel, stationery, posters, music-tv show-film DVDs etc. Albeit a tad overpriced, it is a good place to explore and sit in solitude on the 1st floor in the DVD aisle and pay homage to the store’s predecessor – the irreplaceable Church Street branch of Java City where many, many weekends were spent enjoying the C Street Band perform live Jazz & Blues and sometimes Retro, with some one-for-one Margherita pizzas and their trademark iced tea.

 

5. Naturals Ice cream (Commercial St., Fraser Town and many other places)

OMG. This has the best place for ice cream ever. Their flavours are mostly seasonal fruits and made from them to the extent you find bits of the fruit in your ice cream. If you love fruit and ice cream, this is a place you must, must visit. I particularly loved the Black Grape and Musk Melon flavours and I have strong advocators of the Chikoo flavour, but everything seems to be of superb quality.

 

6. Mantri Mall (Malleshwaram)

Grocery shopping in Auchan :D – the particular highlight being selecting the Rohu of your choice and watching the guy descale, clean and cut it to your specification (Bengali cut, please). As a slightly squeamish Pom looked on (quite fascinatedly despite the occasional grimace), it gave me immense satisfaction to finally be able to buy one of my favouritest fish and anticipate all the interesting things I could make with it afterward. I spied crabs and tiger prawns at the seafood counter, so when our tiny freezer has groaned out the last of it’s contents, I will be at Auchan once again :D

Auchan is the closest there is to an ASDA which is why, I suspect, Pom is such a fan. From clothes to electronics to home ware and all manner of groceries (yes, they have a wine outlet *sagely nod*) it’s got everything imaginable that one might need. The mall in general has most of Bangalore’s retail stores – from Marks & Spencer to Health & Glow and the requisite movie theatre, Inox, so it is a one stop shop for most people living close by.

Website: http://auchanindia.com/about.html

Pom has also promised to take me to Phoenix Mall in Whitefield soon (it has Zara :D ), so I am looking forward to that now. If I haven’t already written about 1MG Mall, here it is: for an ex-pat or someone who is all too familiar with being reasonably free of crowding hoards of people while shopping for four years, this is your destination. You can almost meditate in the quiet shops in the mall, in the unhurried aisles of the food store, in the sparsely populated escalators… I could go on…  a nirvanic shopping paradise compared to the usual hustle-bustle (honking and screeching) of the Bangalore without. The prices are of course prohibitive, which brings us back to Mantri Mall (Yaii).

 

1 MG Road: http://www.onemgroad.com/

 

7. Doff Pub (Indiranagar)

Met Vivica there after ages and so even minus electricity (and hence, functioning air conditioning), it made for a very nice hangout. The crowd and ambience seemed nice enough, though I am not convinced the wait staff is altogether “with it”. They insisted what I was drinking was a Sandy (not a Shandy) and took about 30 minutes to procure the bill. It’s located on the top floor of a high-ish building and offers a nice view of the busy, leafy 100 Feet Road below. There was this one thing I did not like about the place…oh, yes, congealed mayonnaise with the fries. Did not appreciate that.

 

8. Koshy’s (St Mark’s Road) – now you know this list is definitely not in any particular order of preference!

For weekend breakfast, this is a Bangalore must. It has the feel of an old-world colonial Bangalore, replete with white uniformed waiters who are likely to mess up your order but just about do not. The English breakfast is perfect and to me, reminiscent of the chai bungalow brekker, and the Koshy’s special coffee is a must. This and India Coffee House are my all time favourites and no trip to Bangalore is complete without visiting either of them. The paan kiosk (that has to be the poshest way of branding a paan wallah) next Koshy’s has the best 10 rupee meetha paan on offer.

 

Now that I have promoted the city at length, look out for the rants in the next post. And boy, do I feel a rant building up.

 

Pokhila out.

 

 

 

Safdar Jung’s Tomb

For the entry into Safdarjung Tomb the fee will unburden you all of five rupees. I don’t understand why they can’t increase the entry and save some money to maintain the upkeep of the place, at least not issue entry tickets in glossy paper that will cost all of 5 rupees to print. It’s one of the nicer and cleaner spots in Delhi but the tomb itself hasn’t been swept of or dusted since the Mughal progeny dissipated into the hordes of common people of India.  I did approve of the place in general but when I think of how much more can be done it’s just frustrating. Lodhi Gardens till now had been the best of these old Delhi relics and I’m told that the sole reason for this is because the ministers grace this venue for morning walks. As is the case of everything semi-functioning in India,  it is for them that certain things work occasionally and we just exult in the moment of associated comforts.  It’s a privilege to live in an area where ministers and politicians live as it means there are no power cuts and people tell me this proudly.  What can I say except  congratulate them and hope that that person remains in power! In Jorhat, people likewise await the visit of the chief minister so that they can marvel at the fact that electricity can exist beyond 2 hours at a stretch. Sigh. Enough about things that cannot change and will not unless, seeing the amazing development of Gujarat, someone like Modi minus the sinful past becomes the prime minister and proactively tries to better the country. I think all of us who live abroad see the potential here and lament over the possibilities. What’s also frightening is the uneven rate of development not being in sync with the reach of development. If in a grand old capital city like Delhi there are so many places which are still untouched by progress, there is very little hope for my own little town. The immediate surroundings of a mall or five star cannot claim progress for itself, it’s every Indian’s right and unfortunately almost every Indian is blissfully unaware, unconcerned or has given up hope. Anyway, I digress and here are the pics from Safdarjung. Enjoy! 🙂

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The Pink City

After an early morning 2 hour drive from Salasar ji to Jaipur, we head out as soon as we were checked in,  my father’s goal is to ensure I see everything worth seeing by tonight as we fly out early tomorrow morning (groan). We drive through the chaotic,  traffic rule annihilated wild wild west town a.k.a Jaipur to the older, grander and if possible more chaotic walled old city. Driving through one of the resplendent, motifed (and annointed with posters of political parties, toothpastes, chappals etc.) gates through Johari Bazaar, Badi and Chhoti Chaupars whizzing past Hawa Mahal and Jal Mahal, we make it physically unscathed but emotionally scarred to Amer Fort, our first destination.

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Although it’s just the beginning of February and winter is still the muh-bola (so called) season, I get an inkling of the dry (bone cracking) heat which will settle over the city in the months to come. The Fort itself is bare, milling with ever lowered fee quoting pushy guides and lovers, (stuck inside every arrow slit on the Fort wall which would have greatly compromised the safety of the battlements) and compared to Delhi monuments, very expensive to enter (this belying the India tourism’s “open to all people” credo).  However nothing really changes in India and there are Kurkure packets, orange peels, pee stains and other general traces of tourists everywhere you glance. The view albeit hazy with dry translucent smog(?) is spectacular and the old cannon perched atop one of the corners is huge!  The interiors are sparse and not that well illustrated, I suspect to prompt tourists to hire the guides. But then who needs signs and boards when you have langurs and camels? ! The monkey is truly one of the most endearing of all animal species. Still wary of their teeth baring vicious sides, I venture as close to them as I dare to attempt some candid photographs.  It is unnerving seeing their intelligent eyes sizing you up and that underlying threat of them being able to snatch something off of you (and/or biting your bum) at a moment’s notice. But me loves them!

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The drive back to the city from the fort takes us by Kanak Brindavan straight to Jal Mahal where my father chats up young street hawkers with colourful wares and bright smiley eyes(“Do you go to school? Which class are you in?”) and has narial paani whilst I change lens, pretend to not  notice the stench of the place and take pictures of the only angle of the palace on offer. I have been lamenting over the fact that we couldn’t get any closer but after the smell methinks we could be further away. Our driver Mr Rajesh of the two shiny oh-so-Rajasthani-male gold earrings informs us that the lake has recently been cleaned and the stench used to be unbearable earlier. Like my trip to Venice just before 2000 when the canals had been cleaned for the millennium festivities,  this trip is also blessed it would seem in the water stench department.

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Then it is onwards (despite mounting hunger pangs) to the City Palace. I haven’t taken as many pictures of Jaipur on the whole as much as I do of this spot. I even let my father take a picture of me standing before a bouquet arrangement of guns, I’m that smitten.  At first glance it’s not so impressive but the more you look, the prettier it gets. It doesn’t have a lot of different things to look at but has immense character in spite of the wedding preparations of some gazillionaire’s progeny going on in the main courtyard. The lil museum showcasing the royal family’s heritage clothes is interesting and educative on styles and fashion,  all of which has come back in such a big way but not quite with the same level of understated magnificence.  The size of the royal chaugas alarms me no end and I conclude that Rajasthani fare must be quite tasty for the monarch to grow to that size (note to self: google HRH Madhosingh ji)! The armoury likewise is full of awesome weapons and the prettiest daggers (Jade, Ivory and Crystal handled) I have seen!

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Unable to overlook the hunger situation anymore we go in search of a suitable non-pure vegetarian restaurant.  Since most of the places here close their lunch kitchens by 3 p.m. (what! ?) we head over to the bar (club) below Copper Chimney (well known restaurant chain) and have a nice, much-required meal. Rejuvenated, we embark to the most strenuous part of any traveler’s holiday: shopping.  😐 After a couple of leheriya/bandhej duppattas and the odd multi-coloured bangle (cause I must), we head back to Johari Bazaar to browse (in my father’s shopper manual this is called heavy bargaining for things he doesn’t want to buy to embarrass eye-rolling daughter) and after sitting for hours at one jeweller’s interesting (read: shady) office in Gopal ji ka Rasta, (yes,  that’s the name of the jewellery lane, ladies & gents) emit victorious after getting the one thing we decided to buy.

Yawn. Despite the copious cups of diabetes inducing halki meethi chais, I’m knackered beyond belief. Off to my green homeland tomorrow. Can’t wait 😀

All things Bengaluru

The sun: Shines down at 30-32 degrees C every day. Relentless, unavoidable, it follows me wherever I go. I am now many shades different and differently shaded as per exposure. Life without the fan is inconceivable and with A/C is heaven. For a city which used to have natural air conditioned weather, this is a huge disappointment.

Queuing – an unknown art: Slowly getting used to deflecting incoming elbows and armpits in my face in crowded huddles masquerading to be queues at tills. There is no “excuse me”, “sorry”, only “swalpa adjust madi” (kindly adjust). I don’t mind, my body has started adjusting through muscle memory but it’s amazing how people just don’t want to learn basic courtesies.
 
Meter gondogul alert: Auto meters are notoriously tweaked to charge more than the requisite rates. Note to self: trust only digital meters. And the minimum is now Rs. 20. When I came to the city 10 years ago it was Rs. 8!
 
Auto music: I love this 😀 The louder and racier the better. I was serenaded by Himmesh just yesterday. Sigh. 😉
 
Indian KFC: Good. Oh, so very, very good! Chicken: Good; Shots: Goood; Popcorn Chicken: Gooood; Hot Wings: SOOOO GOOOD!
 
Empire Grilled Chicken (Church Street): *big grin* other than the fact that Mishali and I couldn’t finish our usual quota (we are thinner and losing our edge, apparently), it was heavenly to eat this much awaited food.
 
Matteo Café: Again on Church Street, my latest favourite spot. The chicken club sandwich and lemon iced tea are very good. I haven’t been able to visit the previous haunt, India Coffee House… The A/C in Matteo might have something to do with this. #RemnantFirstWorldIssues *pout*
 
City Bar in UB City: Or should I say Bengaluru’s uber cool hangout place cause every “cool” person is found loitering in and around the UB City courtyard, not sitting though, cause that would usher in security guards in 2 seconds. The music at City Bar was crappy and the crowd had an age range of 17-21 and/or old predatorial men drinking alone at the bar. So not going there again. The other two even “cooler” joints at UB City: Shiro and Sky Bar have prohibitive entry rates. But we’ll just say they aren’t “our type”. 😛
 
Therefore, yet to find a replacement for Hint. But, then again, maybe we have outgrown that. No harm scouting though, no harm at all.
 
Plan B (Castle Street): Should always be your PLAN A! The food is awesome, the music is what I can sing along (loudly) to and the wait staff is most excellent – friendly and cheerful. As Pom and I moan and groan over sausages wrapped in bacon, for more adventurous eaters, the ABS (Ass Burning Spicy) chicken wings will sear the insides of your mouths.  I did sample the Firecracker wings, a step below ABS and thought the spice to inhibit the taste, so, definitely not trying the ABS for self. Oh, and did I mention cheesy fries with bacon? Y-U-M-M-Y!
 
This is my replacement for the now closed down Java City at Church Street. I sure do miss my live Jazz & Blues nights there.
 
Monkey Bar: Full of err, youthful (?) college kids. I missed out on the age requirement by miles. In and out in 5 minutes. Pom says it’s good for foosball. I take her for her word.
 
Grill House: In Ulsoor, this place has some good desserts. Better Than (Bad) Sex and the Chocolate Lava Cake are notable achievements of this joint. Although why the wait staff have to wear cowboy gear is unfathomable.
 
Pepper Café: South African Peri-Peri Chicken. Please go eat this and cool your taste buds with an Oreo Cheesecake afterwards! 
 
The “Priya, stop smiling” syndrome: I am used to smiling at wait staff and general shop attendants, it’s nice to be polite but nicer to be nice to people who try and help you. But sometimes it begets creepiness and stalking inclinations. I have asked my friends to monitor my automatic smile response and tell me when it could result in more than free doughnuts at Krispy Kreme. Oh, that reminds me, Krispy Kreme: Pom’s favourite: glazed Cinnamon. Mine: Come on! Once I see the words “RED VELVET” my mind is closed to all else.
 
Town Essentials: The bestest and mostest convenient online grocery (and other essentials) shopping website. The stuff is clean, fresh, well packed and much cheaper than physical stores. They don’t do meat and poultry, but I can live with that. I hope all towns and cities have similar sites one can opt for.
 
Palazzo Pants: I have an obscene obsession with these. I know for my questionable height these pants are a fashion no-no, but the heart wants what the heart wants and wallet permitting they shall acquire them. 😀 My research shows they have different materials and patterns and my heart is set on cotton ones from Code in Lifestyle. For anyone interested Mint (in Garuda Mall & Commercial street) does them in plain lined Chiffon, pleated Chiffon and Lycra. Now to rummage through my wallet and hope for the best.
 
Neon: Neon clothes and accessories are totally in and my good pal Mishali wants EVERYTHING neon we see (though only from Mango and Vero Moda and other snooty brands.) She even conned me into buying a yellow neon scarf at Splash (another old favourite store) which I promptly exchanged when I came to (took one look at the scarf in sunlight and ran back to the store). Oddly the Splash attendant also tried his darnedest to convince me it was indeed yellow and not MC Hammer’s favourite hue. Smiling helped me out here too.
 
Smile: 2 – Frown: 0
 
Revisited: Elements, Au Bon Pain, Popsies, Dominos, Empire – no disappointments there!
 
Old friends and New: 8 down, many more to go!
 
So much more to do and write about, but I am kinda enjoying myself way too much to bother. 😀
 
Namma Bengaluru. Out!
 
 

Return to mataland: things learnt

1. Before Kingfisher ruined itself, it ruined me.

Among the three airlines operating internationally in India: Air India, Jet Airways and Kingfisher, the last was the best. From leg space, in flight entertainment, food, to service, it stood apart from the other two. I erroneously blamed Air India and branded it the only indecently atrocious flight, but Jet was as bad in terms of food and even hospitality. Dinner I won’t disparage much, as I have eaten worse… But breakfast was a vegetarian over sweetened muffin. There was no mention of tea/coffee. Let’s not even go to the leg and/or general space, Air India was somehow miraculously better. I have been elbowed from two sides for 8 hours and I shall not withdraw my claws. Besides, I got a nosebleed from dehydration and had to go demand some water at what seemed like the air hostess party central, made me conclude that the attendant bell light might as well be your good old tuni bulb. Jet also has acquired some, err, plus sized air hostesses. (Or is that where all the food disappears to?) So, Air India has serious competition.

Mr Mallya, please get your act together and bring back the good times!

2. Wear pajamas while traveling, especially while traveling international. 

I was stripped off most of my attire in Heathrow and padded down and downright massaged. New areas of massage now are : mammary glands -over, under, around, buttocks (very professional) and waistband of underwear (very disconcerting). I am sure they wore the gloves for their own health, safety and hygiene issues, but, what about mine? The security personnel explained as she ran her hands lovingly around first the waistband of my jeans then lower, around my rupa ka underbheyar, that I could be hiding something sharp there. Really? Something sharp in my underwear…. Wow. So I have decided on pajamas sans unmentionables  with flip flops as ideal travel attire.

3. Mumbai International is the worst airport to enter India… Gateway to India…tis not.

The only response to if I would choose to fly into Mumbai airport ever again evokes Kourtney Kardashian’s life mantra: I…would rather…dai. And if you have made me quote any of the Kardashians, you know exactly how dire the situation is. 

After the sweaty entry…cause a/c is obviously overrated along with toilets, working escalators, a smiling face; and never-ending wait for your luggage (which was supposed to have been booked through, but, err, is not) you have to x-ray all your stuff again at the green channel (what’s the point of the green channel if everyone is checked anyways?). Then of course since I look every bit the glamourous big money spender in my Primark Jaguar tee which doubles as my nightwear….I am immediately suspected of carrying “braended pursas” in my suitcase, so, “open please, Medam”.

I obediently open the offending piece of luggage and am most appalled to parade my much used, denim stained bags, but of course they just pick them out, shake them at my face and harrass me for receipts. I wish Janpath did receipts, so I could prove how cheap the stuff actually is, but sadly…not there yet. So, the chandan tika-od custom dude decides to take matters into his own, very capable hands. He starts rifling through my obviously increasingly depressing suitcase when a packet of sanitary napkins explodes in his face (this I like to call the real modern day Draupadi vastra haran sequence, a.k.a OCD ka suitcase phan-phan). At this point I am too angry to be “mujhe dharti mein samaa lo” Sita but I feel the onset of embarrassment laced with a thick layer of “Ha! Serves you right.” But I smirked almost too soon. You see, what they say about Mumbai being women friendly and respectful just might be true. Unlike a Delhi official who would give some sexist comment likening me to a tethered cow gone astray or a shy Assamese official who would have at that point disintegrated into boson’s boson particles, this dude calmly picks up the packets scattered all over the floor and his person, and puts them back into the bag! RESPECT.Then the moment is ruined when he notices all my vivid underclothes neatly stowed in the see-through zipped compartment on inside of the suitcase lid. He immediately shields his virtuous eyes from this offensive sight with a well placed (and unquestioned) Fiorelli bag, gives me up as a bad case, and asks me to leave. Ironically, I had receipts for those ;-)

4. Wear a man’s shirt for functionality

Ideally, over the pajamas and flip flops should be a man’s shirt with a ginormous breast pocket. This mitigates periodic rummaging through bags to locate passport, resident permit, boarding pass(es), mint, lip balm and the ultimate hijack tool a.k.a the tweezer.

The only solace to this whole ordeal is I am going back to Bangalore. A city that may have changed aesthetically but it is home to most of my friends and there I find instant welcome, instant love and most importantly combustible manic laughter. Tis just might be my version of the revival of the good times :D

5. Mistaken identities

After my four hour wait at Mumbai for my flight to Bangalore, the ground staff finally announced my JetConnect flight. I stood up purposefully with my humungous rucksack and a bag not wanting to be at the end of the line and having problems later fighting for luggage space the overhead compartments with a rowdy janta. Regarding the rowdy janta, I had forgotten two things, I was not flying to Kolkata or Delhi, so there in fact was no rowdy janta. And I  was flying domestic Jet where like Indigo, the flight attendants are actually courteous and offer to help put your bags up especially if one is a questionable 5’2″. This is juxtaposed to Air India, of course.

Anyway getting back to the story of my purposeful stride to attain número uno queue position (which tantamounts to zilch if you get stuffed into airport coaches and have to start the race all over again when you reach the craft), I presented my boarding pass and to my initial delight and rapidly growing horror, I was the only one from the terminal. Now, I was sure that I wasn’t late, having sat at the lounge for so many hours, and I knew I hadn’t missed any prior announcements, so it was puzzling for me to be put courteously into a coach all by myself. When I got to the aircraft at the tarmac, I was again suspiciously ushered up alone on the staircase (on closer inspection which was attached to the side of an aerobridge as well). I realized that the other passengers had been waiting somewhere else, and for once it wasn’t my fault as the international transfers were set up all stupid. Anyway, the aircraft was being cleaned so the security person asked me to wait just outside the entrance and kept smiling indulgently. Then he asked me if I was scared and if I had an attendant. At this point I began to wonder if they had been expecting a lunatic to be seated first and then the other passengers would be let in having been previously warned not to stare too much. There could be no other explanation. Could there? Just when I was proposing to launch an investigation, a little girl, about 10, sauntered down the aerobridge escorted by a Jet personnel. The cabin crew let both of us in and I happily stowed my stuff in an empty overhead compartment and settled myself in my spacious emergency exit window seat. Yay. A few moments later a friendly air hostess gave me a juice pack and asked me if I wanted a snack. “I have no money on me,” I said, “it’s all up in my bag overhead, and besides I would rather have some water.”  She smiled at me sweetly, a maternal (bordering on creepy) smile I hadn’t seen on a grown woman’s face since I was 14 at most and said “Your mummy has booked it already.” And then it hit me. (okay, so I was severely jet lagged by then and my body wanted to curl up and die do my brain took time to figure this out). I was mistaken for a little girl traveling all by herself in the big bad world. I set her right and she gave me the snack anyway and we both had a good laugh. Awww! At 27, that is just….. Bloody insane! I think I can pass off as 23 at most. Mayhaps 22 on a good, non-frowny day. Jet Airways needs to launch an eye check up day, but seriously, I had the most eventful journey this time around.

p.s.: Having copious cups of chilled water. Jet has redeemed itself in my eyes.

6.Unexpected beauty

As the aircraft pulled out of Mumbai, I looked out sleepily and in an instant I was wide awake. I was gobsmacked. It looked smaller than imagined but what a beautiful city! The bit of Mumbai that sprawls across the Arabian Sea like a magical lil island holding it’s own…almost floating, gave me a case of “I have to visit this place and have a good look-see.”  The coastline looked divine and my shutter happy fingers started itching like mad. I can’t put my finger on it, but something about the way it looked just charmed me. And so, I have made up my mind to visit it. I have a few friends here and I think I can work out something soon. This had happened to me in 1998 with London, fell in love with it on first sight from the plane, and crazily enough, that propelled me to live in it for what became 3 and a half years of romance (to be revisited for life). And now, 15 years later with Mumbai… How terribly nice to have that sense of wonder still intact :)  

Ooh, Captain says we have started our descent into Bangalore. *beaming like a psycho*