Tuesday, September 30, 2008

From a Hand Shake to a Hug

With this post, I add to the already massive amounts of opinions on the internet about a certain meeting between a Head of State and, well, Sarah Palin.

The President of Pakistan has definitely made the world media sit up and take notice of him (and not in connection with bombings, murders, terrorism and India). His now (in)famous meeting with Sarah Palin not only caught the fancy of journalists and bloggers all around the globe, it also instigated local religious leaders to the extent that they have issued a ‘fatwa’ against their Head of State.

Apparently his remarks were unworthy of someone in his position (if you’re heading a country you can’t appreciate gorgeousness?) and non-permissible by Islam (huh?). Adding fuel to the fire is the fact that he happened to find a non-Islamic woman gorgeous. I repeat myself, huh?

So Zardari called Sarah Palin gorgeous. What else was he to do, compliment her intelligence? In saying he now understood why all of America was crazy about her he was probably paraphrasing from why all of America thought she was crazy. And in suggesting that if he was instructed to do so he might hug her, Zardari was probably just trying to pave a way for better US-Pak relations (along with providing the world with a juicy sound-byte guaranteed immediate attention).

So instead of issuing a fatwa against Zardari for his words he should probably be appreciated for his honesty and courage in taking the bull by it’s horn, or in this case, Palin by her hand!

Monday, September 29, 2008

Fifth Anniversary of the First Job You Were Fired From Day

So apparently yesterday was Daughter’s day. After Mother’s day, Father’s day, Grandparent’s day, and now this, Daughter’s day, we now need a Son’s day (which in India will probably get the feminists all riled up and protest that everyday is son’s day). But that’s not the focus of my rant here. My point here is (and very loosely at that) that to make the happy family portrait complete what about a Dog/Cat/Rat/Parrot/Hamster day? I mean if you can will several million dollars to your dog/cat, you can definitely have a day in its honour and give Hallmark another reason to make money.

And if you can have a day for your dog or hamster, why not have more days to keep us occupied?

Neighbours day – a chance to say thank you to all those who listen to you sing in the bathroom, and who in turn have awesome food smells wafting up to your window.

Domestic help day – seriously required to keep the Shanta bais of the world happy and your dishes done (I’m sure mothers will willingly give up their day just to make sure the maid is not unhappy).

Doodhwala day – one of those unique features of India bringing fresh milk right up to your doorstep every morning.

Dhobi day – where else will you get someone to do your laundry for you, iron the clothes, and deliver them back to you?

The first time you cooked a non-burnt meal day – a red letter day if any!

Getting your first salary day – celebrating that really ridiculous salary you were paid in an attempt to make your current pay seem brilliant.

Buying that perfect pair of shoes day – it’s just so difficult to get that just right pair of shoes.

Attending class in college for the first time (one of the 3 classes you attended) day – these are the days you spent away from the canteen and need mention.

Pot-Hole free day – someday there will be a day when you can drive in Bombay without any potholes. Someday.

Not being cheated by the rickshaw driver day – seriously I wait for one day when I don’t want to curse the rickshaw driver for looting me.

Bachchan family free day – the day the news is free of any member of this family and their activities (ranging from going to the temple to apologising for their language). And while we’re at it, a Saif-Kareena free day will not hurt anyone.

Sticking to your diet for a whole day day – will power has to be appreciated no?

More news than ads in the newspaper day – one day a newspaper will once more be for news. I hope.

Jilted lover’s/ I hate my ex day – an anti-valentine’s day if you will. Has scope don’t you think?

Writer’s block day – it happens with everyone. So why not celebrate while twiddling our thumbs?

Getting a reader for my blog day - :)

And while i'm at it, happy day after daughter's day to all of you.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Welcome to Good Cinema

Fun. Full of laughs. Socially relevant. Non-preachy. Brilliant performances. Simple story. Excellent narration. Realistic art direction. Intelligent assumptions. Tongue-in-cheek humour. Non-weepy. Poignant.

Welcome to Sajjanpur.

Proof that it doesn’t take massive budgets, over the top sets, fancy digital tricks, overrated actors and in your face advertising to make a good movie. In these times of dubious creativity and even more questionable acting prowess, Welcome to Sajjanpur is like that perfect meal – simple, a riot of flavours, colours and textures. Not too much, not too little, but just perfect.

Monday, September 22, 2008

A Sense of Anticlimax

I like birthdays. And then i don't like birthdays.

I like the special feeling. The cake (s). The gifts. The attention. The cool excuse to do anything (eating the last piece of cake, hogging the tv, sleeping late, having a bath for an hour...it's my birthday na!)

I don't like that it all has to end after that day.
PS: it's my birthday for another 4 1/2 hours and i'm already sensing the anticlimax. Sigh.

Quarterly Review

Warning: Long Post
Seeing as I complete a quarter century of existence today, it seemed to be the right time for a review of all things accomplished (or not). And I know it isn’t the fashion to announce one’s real age in public, but an exception can be made for a jubilee year (and the fact that this will now be my age for several years to come). But I digress.

Looking back at the 25 years I’ve been walking the Earth makes me feel extremely accomplished. I mean I’ve learnt so much and done so many things already. Ok so it may pale in comparison to say Abhinav Bindra (who has about the same number of years on his plate) or Rafa Nadal (with lesser years) but that doesn’t take away the fact that in my mundane and routine life I too have managed to have my own small victories and moments of learning (read: downfalls).

So my 25 yrs can be divided at various points in the timeline. There is the school, college and beyond that. Or there is the pre-teenage, teenage and post-teenage. There could also be before speech and after speech. Whatever the categories, one common feature runs through all of them- peace and war! It’s surprising how growing up is often directly proportionate to the increase in the number of conflicts. I can’t figure out whether it is higher understanding or mere stubbornness.

25 yrs is a long time (too long married couples will tell you). It’s difficult to compile a list of things done and things learnt. I mean, how does one decide which learnings or activities are more important? I suppose it has to be age specific. So at age 3 going potty on my own would be worthy of celebration (more for my parents than for me actually) while at 15 yrs it was managing to remember rotten math theorems and at 21 yrs, getting a job. I’m sure being able to identify the colour blue/circle as a shape/the number 5 was as big an achievement for me as being able to identify India on the world map and probably as important as identifying right from wrong.

Of my 25 yrs the first five are a blur, the next ten maybe a shadow and the remaining ten disturbingly clear. The first five were probably the time of most concentrated learning where I went from being a lump that ate, slept and pooped to a miniature adult who threw tantrums not to go to school. The next ten were a drag spent between school and home listening to the teacher and my mother. I’m sure I learnt a lot in those years there by way of academics but the playground and girl’s bathroom had more to teach. It was there that I learnt that I’d rather be the only girl playing volleyball than stand in the shade cribbing about how tanned I will be playing in the sun or that I’d rather read a book than gossip about clothes.
The final ten years (so far) have been interesting to say the least. Again a lot time was spent in classroom and labs. Nights were spent finishing journals and assignments. Weekends were spent cursing all forms of education. Learning graph was steep, social graph was in the negative.

From making ‘My family’ drawings to making sleek PowerPoint presentations a lot has been achieved in these 25 years.
There was direct learning (not sleeping 3 days in a row does you no good and neither do 8 slices of pizza) and there was vicarious learning (if you have to have a boyfriend, make sure he knows how to do your assignments).
There were some things better learnt than others (how to doodle at the back of the classroom while seeming to pay attention to what the teacher was droning on about than learning multiplication tables). Some things were learnt more easily (the best way to bunk classes) and others with some difficulty (making a perfectly round roti). Some things were learnt in passing (younger sisters are not punching bags) and some were learnt out of necessity (younger sisters have to be bribed to keep their mouths shut). Some things were learnt and quickly forgotten (geometry and trigonometry) and some things were learnt and remembered (expanding 50 word answers to 200 words). Some things I taught myself (how to use Adobe Photoshop) and others were taught to me (how to wear makeup without looking like a royal fright).

So though 25 yrs may not seem a wise age to someone who is 50 (or even more) look how far I’ve come from being something that’s all Id to someone who has a clearly defined superego and ego.

Here’s to 25yrs yrs of family, friends and teachers, experiences and emotions, ideas and beliefs, skills and attitudes, likes and dislikes, successes and failures.

Here’s to 25 yrs of life. Cheers.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Of Magic Shows and Balloons

For the first time in some ten years I had to attend a 5 yr olds birthday party (not because I was never invited but because I didn’t know any tiny tots). My worry began with buying the gift. What do you buy for a 5 yr old boy who spends his playtime taking his shirt off and singing (and dancing to) dard-e-disco for the benefit of his friends? Anyway, after a lot of walking back and forth in the toy section of a big shop, I picked up a sensible gift which his mother will appreciate and he will ignore in favour of a noise creating apparatus (gifted to him by someone who wants to trouble his family).

So I got to the birthday venue (which I recognised because of the balloons and illegally loud music playing). The party was already on its way when I get there and the children were all entranced by a sight I saw last when I hadn’t reached a double digit age – a magician pulling handkerchiefs out of a black bag! Nothing had changed in some 15 odd years. The same tricks, the same apparatus (not the same magician though…I think…). So we had the birthday boy blowing on random pieces of paper and cloth which then turned into flowers or confetti, an empty bag from which appears a (very battered looking) mouse, a bag on fire and then a white dove (albeit slightly singed) emerged. And the biggest hit of the evening – the birthday boy was given a glass of water to drink. And then the magician begins to drain water back into the glass from his ears, his nose, his fingers and much to the delight (and giggling) of the children, from the front of his pants!

I couldn’t help smiling at the reaction of the children to these tricks. Never has a group of some 30 children behaved so well and been so quiet. It was almost endearing. I say almost because of the apparently deaf guy handling the music and more importantly the volume control.

The magician takes his final bow and it’s time to play games. I’d forgotten how easy it was to entertain children at a birthday party. All you need to do is divide them into girls and boys, make every game is a versus one and allow each team a couple of boos towards the other. You’re set. Even something as simple as racing got them jumping up and down. So there were the usual party games involving dancing, jumping and divulging adults around of things like bangles, one rupee-coins, shoes and even watches all in the name of the game!

During all this, the only thing that kept coming to my mind (the little I could hear myself think above the ridiculously jarring music) was how much you have to love children to do this as a career. I mean 30 adrenaline pumped children under the age of 10 is no joke.

Once the games were done, the highlight of the evening was presented – the cake. One huge Power Ranger shaped cake. After the usual you’re born in the zoo bit was sung, the noise level abated a little (and someone apparently shot the music volume control guy) as everyone was too busy stuffing their faces (and I say this in the politest way possible) with food and of course the cake!

Mid-way through this peace the children decided they’d been decent long enough and so, with a vengeance, attacked all the balloons in the hall. It was a pleasure watching the innovativeness and the unity amongst children when it comes to destructiveness! I added my two bits to the fun by pulling down the balloons that were too high for them to reach even after climbing on 2 chairs.

So between the magic show and the balloons I had some fun at least. Of course at the end of the party I couldn’t help but fondly remember birthday parties I had and attended as a child – simple and boring by today’s standards, but something everyone my generation will relate to - coloured streamers and mummy-blown balloons on the walls, passing the parcel and musical chairs, paper plates with one samosa, chutney sandwich, wafer and chocolate cake. And one Styrofoam glass of bright orange, sugar spiked Rasna. Ah.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Bug Free and Healthy

I’ve made it almost a year without any illness (barring a serious cold maybe). And considering the fact that I have the lamest immune system ever, not to talk of being almost allergic to myself, this is an achievement! Managing to keep the bugs, and their brethren, from attacking my system is something I’m very proud of.

And this feeling of pride in my white blood cells is only increased by my sister coming down with a bad stomach flu. Don’t get me wrong here. I totally empathise with her and feel (strongly) for her whenever she starts running towards the bathroom with both hands pushing people and things out of her way. But even so, I can’t help grinning smugly and congratulating my digestive system at doing such a great job of throwing out all infections and choosing to let only nutrients through the epithelial lining (yay for high school biology).

So right now I’m looking at my sister gulping down stewed apples with a painful look on her face. I can imagine why. She knows it’s not going to stay in for more than an hour. But it makes my aloo paratha taste so much better!

Ok so I may sound like a sadist and a bad person. But I’m really not. I’m just celebrating health. And the parathas happened to be totally awesome.

Thursday, September 18, 2008


Excited. Grinning. Happy.
Giggling. Laughing. Cheery.
Jumping. Amused. Lively.

Morbid. Annoyed. Grumpy.
Mad. Pissed. Cranky.
Depressed. Listless. Grouchy.

These are the extremes in me
There are days when i wonder
which emotion will i be.

And now looking at
the sad poems i write
Its no wonder there
isn't a reader in sight!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008


Just saw Baba Sehgal on TV while channel surfing.

Brought back memories of childhood when 'Thanda Thanda Pani' was the hippest song on air.
I seriously had a weird childhood, not to speak of traumatised.
Yay for growing up!
PS: Of course songs part of my adulthood are not inspiring either. Evidence: 'Very happy in my heart, Dil dance maare' .

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Money or Masochism?

Can you put a price on self esteem?

Apparently you can. Ask any of the producers of any of these reality shows on any of these ever-increasing TV channels.

Or ask the participants on these shows.

Who would want to stand on national television and willingly be told that you dance worse than the domestic help that comes to that judges house (of course this is a very classist comment – who said domestic help can’t dance? Is dancing a skill that comes only with money?). Or be part of ,what can only be termed a juvenile sense of sport, a competetion that has girls vs boys (i mean, we did that in school at age 9 when all boys were so sick, and the girls were all ewwww). Why would you willingly want to be on a show on TV that is going to make you whine and complain and bitch and fight (all in the script dahlings)?!

There has to be a streak of masochism is all these people who agree to appear on these reality shows, especially if the format includes, from the beginning, the judges stripping you of all pride and dignity and revelling in it.

Or the fact that there are only so many saas-bahu* shows on television and there has to be a way to showcase all the talent there is in the field of drama and tears…oh and bad costumes and makeup!

That or you’re given a bundle of money (and it better be a hu-uge bundle) to strip yourself of all dignity, self-esteem, intelligence and perhaps common sense.

Nah...it has to be the masochism.

* - Saas-bahu shows are the staple diet of Indian television, mainly revolving around stories of women hell bent on ruining either the other women in their life, the men in their life, someone else’s children, steal someone else’s husband, try and seduce their own husbands, kill some one, try and hide the fact that they killed someone, bribe people to kill for them, have extra-marital affairs, cry, weep, howl, faint, fast, pray, dance, so on and so forth, all the while wearing at least three quarters of the gold in India coupled with some of the most garish outfits money can buy.

A Tear

From the depths of my computer, something i wrote during one of those times when nothing seems to go right.

A single tear,
An ocean full of emotions,
A single tear,
A gamut of sensations.

A silent tear,
A wordless plea,
A silent tear,
For no one to see.

A pained tear,
Over hours I have cried,
A pained tear,
Over dreams that have died.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Which City This Time?

After the Delhi bombings the one thing that comes to surface is that more than the bombs killing people, it is the apathy of these very people that is doing it. Any country that has seen serial bombings in several of its major cities (including the capital) and knows who is accountable for them would be up in arms, taking stringent steps to bring to a stop this heinous method of mass terrorism. Instead, our politicians openly support this group that claims responsibility for planting these bombs.

Within minutes of the bombings, the media was flashing how the Prime Minister “bombings ki ninda kar rahe the”. Along side this was an increasing toll of deaths and people injured and images from the site of the terror – people maimed, in shock, covered in blood, roads drenched in blood, footwear strewn all over sometimes with a foot still attached, scenes of people being rushed to hospitals, lying on the gurneys not understanding what was happening. Then there was the media asking the usual round of questions – “how are you feeling? What did you see? What did you do?” In bold red letters the name of the group taking onus of the bombings was being flashed all over.

Across all new channels the same images and the same sounds played in a loop. Reporters were constantly making the link with the current bombings and the cities bombed earlier. They kept reminding us of the cities on the hit-list of this group (which has been kind enough to tell the government this or just too cock-sure of no action being taken regardless of what they do).

And yet, within a few hours of watching the blood bath, making a few phone calls to friends and relatives in Delhi and making sure no new news was coming forth, channels are changed, bombs are forgotten and lives continue like they did.

Bombs changes lives for only those who lose something to them – a foot, a hand, an eye, a parent, child, house. For the others, it’s another topic to discuss around the dinner table. It’s only another topic on which to shake their heads and tsk tsk about. The news of another bombing doesn’t strike fear and terror into the hearts of anyone including the people’s representatives. It doesn’t make anyone stand up and take firm action against this random killing.
All it does is make us ask “which city this time?”

Monday, September 8, 2008

Right Now…

I want my stress levels to go into the negative.

I want to run away and hide.

I want to go on a vacation.

I want to go into denial.

I want to sleep for the next couple of months (at least).

I want to be left alone to my sulks and my mood swings.

I want an endless supply of Gold Medal Ribbon ice cream.

I want my heart to calm down and not pump up a tornado inside me.

I want a peep into the future.

Right Now…

I’m guessing anyone reading this knows I’m in the middle of a personal crisis.

Well. Look at it this way. At least right now I’m not contemplating sleeping pills, rat poison or the height of my ceiling fan. Silver lining?

Sunday, September 7, 2008

WALL-E Movie

3 reasons to go watch this movie:

a) Pixar has a great track record with animated movies (Toy Story to Ratatouille)
b) It has several whoa and aaawe moments all through.
c) It’s environment friendly.

And if the above three don’t do it for you then do it for an hour and forty five minutes of smiles and laughs. The brilliance of this movie lies not only in its spectacular animation, but also in the truly amazing personification of its main characters.

All through the movie it’s difficult to think of WALL-E as, well, a trash compactor. From his mechanically making trash cubes (and using them as building blocks) to his dancing to old Hollywood musicals, it’s difficult not to smile and forget he is an acronym.

Watching the movie you realise how much emotion some simple sounds can project. The first half of the movie is without any dialogue – unless you count 2 machines whizzing and burring away. Our writers could definitely learn something and give us a break from those flowery long-winded speeches that are the core of any sentimental scene they write!

From the aaawe so sweet the movie turns direction into the future where humans are obese and lazy and machine addicts – wait, was it the future? Needless to say, WALL-E tumbles and fights his way through this futuristic place and saves everyone from themselves!

The movie, with all its happy moments, portrays a grim picture of what we could be doing to Earth. The landscape alternates between dried up waters and barren land. We get a glimpse of how the space around our planet will look if we continue littering it with satellites and the like. So we may not take the increasing toxicity on our planet very seriously, but we should try, unless we want WALL-E to become a reality and our children end up having trash blocks instead of LEGO.

Awakening The Faith?

Owing to my mum not being in town and my sister being a bigger fan of the US open than elephant gods, I found myself being rudely awoken at 6 am on a day I would have slept in late (as usual). After cursing phone alarms and early mornings I dragged myself out of bed and got ready to accompany my dad to the biggest Ganpati idol in the city – Lalbaugcha Raja.

A 75 yr old tradition, the Raja has gotten bigger and more popular over the years. Every year is more flamboyant than the previous. And every year the number of people visiting is also much larger than the previous. This year they averaged the number of devotees to a couple of lakhs a day, with the wait in the queue being an average of 12 hours, unless you come at 5 in the morning and then you have to wait in line for about 3 hours. Makes you happy thinking about it doesn’t it!?

So there we were walking to the entrance of the pandal and instead of looking up in devotion and ‘bhakti, I was busy watching where I was going – I didn’t want to step into any spittle or poop now did I? Not without my footwear on at least.
So after passing by people moving in all directions, vendors lining the access route selling everything from coconuts and flowers to devotional DVD’s, we made it to what seemed like the entrance, only it was totally hidden by this huge crowd of people waiting to get in to join the queue.

Now my dad knows the right people and so we were to cut all the waiting and make straight for what is known as the VIP darshan – something I totally abhor. I mean, I’m not even into all this mandir and darshan and praying thing and here I was jumping line on this huge crowd of people waiting to get entrance and they really wanted to be there. I hated walking past all those people who had been in line for hours and hours. I walked past as fast as I could trying not to think of all the negative vibes being directed our way.

I didn’t really want to be there and here I was right next to the largest idol in the city and one that is almost a cult figure now. Looking up at it, I did not feel even one spark of devotion or faith in me. Of course it was a little difficult, even if there was a spark in me, for it to come to surface with random men and pandits yelling aage chalo aage chalo into my ear! I looked away from the massive idol and there was this crowd of people about ten feet away behind a barrier – the closest the devoted follower can get to the Raja.

I’m not a believer in idol worship. I question organised religion. I dare to not follow tradition for the sake of it. And I definitely would not voluntarily stand for 12 hours in line to look at an idol from behind a 5 foot barrier at a distance of 10 feet.

But even if I did neither of the above, and was overflowing with devotion, I wonder how long this faith would last in this age of VIP darshans and 3 seconds standing time in front of the Raja after a 12 hour wait.
Surely there are better ways than crowds, noise, special lines, pushes and yells to at least sustain is not awaken the faith?

Monday, September 1, 2008

Reasons Why I Don't Like Growing Up

a) I have to have an answer to “what are you doing these days?” and apparently ‘nothing’ is not good enough. Hmph.

b) I can’t throw a tantrum in a restaurant when my food is late (I mean I can but as a grown up its just filthy manners) and I’m ravenously hungry!

c) I can’t get a Happy Meal in McD (because I want the Kungfu Panda toy) without the cap wearing dude getting judgemental and giving me weird looks.

d) In the ladies room at theatres, I have to give up my place to a little girl squirming and hopping behind me! (Ok maybe I don’t have to, but I’m a decent person, and I didn’t want my new shoes getting wet!)

e) People in stores address me as ma’am. And I don’t think it’s out of politeness. Grumble mumble.

f) I can’t address shopkeepers and the like as uncle anymore…they’re probably my age! (This is really sad coz the uncle bit really helped in bargaining).

g) I have to be really neat in having an ice-cream cone (not that I want to be messy, but I envy children their fun and abandon).

h) I don’t get to have big birthday parties with balloons and lots of cake and wafers and loads of presents and even a clown playing party games.

i) The whole village and its uncle is wondering why I’m not married yet.

j) My friends get married/get jobs and leave the country to move to another time zone!

k) I don’t get to meet my friends as much as I would want to because all of them are also growing up!

l) My life becomes so mundane and routine that I can come up with this list without too much trouble.

Good Old Days

PS: Feel free to add to this list. I know i have loads more.

Are We Really?

So it’s that time of the year once more where amidst fan fare and blaring filmy music we welcome the Elephant God to our homes and I think hearts.

I say I think, because I’m not sure that’s what we are doing anymore. Of all the roads I was on in the last two days (mainly suburbs of Bandra, Santacruz, Juhu and Lokhandwala), about 90% are being readied for the 10-day Ganpati festival, which mainly means erecting a huge bamboo structure bang in the middle of all roads, worsening the already bad traffic!

So already, I’m cursing the next 10 days or so and am mentally deciding which roads to avoid (which leaves me with maybe one odd road in the 10 kilometer area, none of them leading to anywhere I want to go).

And this is even before 10 never ending days of bhajans on film tunes (who dreams them up is beyond me, the worse being Mera Gannu ghar aaya o ramji! Sigh). Having to listen to these songs from dawn till dawn and beyond, from every direction around my house tries my patience even more than Bollywood trying to make movies on behavioural and psychological disorders!

And when it comes to holidays, school children wait for this time of the year with barely suppressed anticipation – after all, a couple of holidays in less than 2 weeks is always cause for celebration. The city comes to a standstill on the first, third, fifth, seventh and tenth days of this festival. The roads are packed and the people not in a hurry to go anywhere (at least not the ones causing the blockage). Everyone in this city has learnt (mostly from experience) that it’s better to stack up on some DVD’s and popcorn and spend the day indoors on these days rather than get stuck in your car behind a dancing crowd of people and have nothing better to do than listen to annoying RJ’s on the radio!

And there is the whole eco-system at risk because of all the paint and POP dumped into the sea! With the steady rise in number and size of Ganpati idols every year (seriously what is with the whole thing being about size?) it’s no surprise that we’re choking the sea and all that lives in it! I honestly don’t think messing up nature is the best way to show gratitude to the Omnipotent.

The Ganesh festival has come to personify blocked roads, insane traffic, forced holidays and annoying music. A sharp left turn from what Lokmanya Tilak meant it to be when he initiated it. So what with all the noise, water and traffic pollution, I really wonder whether we are really welcoming anyone, let alone a much loved God.