Friday, December 24, 2010

Excuses. Reasons. And Hope.

Too long has this blog been ignored. And i'm nothing but ashamed. Truly. For starters, i've crossed over completely to the darkside of microblogging - something i was so sure i would never do (i blame my android phone, but thats another post really). Then there is all the travelling i've been doing for the last 3 months which has not only exhausted me physically, but has apparently also drained me of that skill required to put thoughts into words and words into sentences that sound wise and correct. Seriously.

And so this post, written as the first firecrackers appear in the Bangalore sky on Christmas eve, is my way of making a come back. Or at least of reminding myself this space exists. It is also a pre-new year resolution (since new year ones are meant to be broken) to exercise those writing muscles and make sure 140 characters doesnt become my limit.

PS: It's post-midnight. Santa Claus is coming to town folks. Be good.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Of That Smile

I’ve tried writing this post out half a dozen times. And there is just no right way of doing it. I wish I could find the words to express what I’m feeling, but each time I start writing, I don’t seem to be able to end it.

Unlike Rita aunty. Who hung herself three days back.

Rita aunty. The first neighbour I remember, someone who’d seen me as a 2yr old, and my sister as a babe in arms. A lady, who babysat us on numerous occasions and smiled her way through each of them. Someone who came to mum’s rescue when my sister locked the family (and guests) in the house when she went down to play after latching the main door from the outside. Rita aunty. Someone I always associate with ashtmi and halwa, puri – that loaded paper plate with a ten rupee note hidden under the puris which we looked forward to with childish excitement. A lady I never heard being loud, someone who always had a kind word and smile for anyone she met. And even though both families moved, we stayed in touch – weddings, deaths, festivals, random running into each other on the road even.

But somewhere along the way, unknown to family, friends and neighbours, that soft, shy smile became a mask. Something she hid behind. Till one day when it got the better of her and she succumbed to herself.

My sister and I weren’t allowed to go pay our last respects. But mum said she looked at peace. And smiling.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Of That Fragrance

Warning: Out of character mushy post follows.

I don’t know if it happens with everyone or only with me, but I tend to make very strong memories revolving around certain smells and fragrances. And then years later, all I need to do is get a whiff of a certain perfume and I find myself galloping down memory lane at full speed.

Today it was Axe Click. An almost empty can of the deodorant was found and one sniff almost brought tears to my eyes. And no, I’m not this weepy usually - must be all the hormones. Anyhoo. This scent brings back memories of when the Fellow and I were dating (and he wore it all the time). And even though it wasn’t that back in the past, there is a certain nostalgia attached to it. A certain combination of feelings and emotions that come rushing back, making it seem like just yesterday when we were wondering about our future, whether we would even get one together and what it would hold for us. And so the deo doesn’t remind me only of the good times. It also reminds me of all those times when things were bumpy and a tight hug was the only thing that felt right with the world – a hug that brought me closer to that scent and a feeling of being safe somehow.

A feeling I always associate with the Fellow. And with this scent.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Older Yes. Wiser?

And so ends another birthday celebration. Another year gone by and all I have to show for the whole of last year are a fat bunch of airline and railway tickets, lots of time spent with the family, a death, a wedding and an engagement, a handful of blog posts, a new hobby in paper quilling, several dozen (pretty good) photographs of butterflies and grasshoppers, a business venture in its early stages when it should have been up and about by now, several books ticked off the to-read list, half a dozen successful baking experiences and recipes, more time spent on Twitter, a greener and more colourful garden, 3 added kilos in all the wrong places, a couple of new scars, lots of new clothes, thousands of photographs yet to be sorted, an increased obsession with FabIndia, more confidence (and road rage) when it comes to driving, a lot of homesickness, a laptop in desperate need of formatting and some TLC, 27 newly planted trees, loads of leftover chocolate cake in the fridge, a stack of new presents and the Fellow who still likes and wants to be married to me.

Hmm. Maybe it wasn’t such a bad year after all. I wonder if I get wiser in the next.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Where I'm Not Complaining For a Change

Yes. I'm happy and not whining. The Fellow is back and all's right with the world.
And to think he almost didn't make it back today thanks to an ugly, black, rain saturated cloud hovering right above the city. After he told me how close it had been (a mere 5 mins would have had a super grumpy me venting here instead) i realised how close i had been to murder. First the Fellow's boss and then maybe the rest of the chaps who managed to beat the bad weather home.
But for now, i'm at peace with everyone. Even the non-stop rain that flooded my garden and probably drowned to death my new plants.
Tomorrow is a new day though. I'm sure the high will be replaced by my usual, familiar, crankiness.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Of Anticipation

The Fellow has been away for three weeks now. Originally I was to join him a couple of days later and spend most of the 3 weeks seeing a new place and meeting some old acquaintances. But as such things go, a lack of acceptable accommodation led to a cancellation (twice) and I had to resign myself to the fact that I was stuck at home alone.

Which was not such a bad thing except that I don’t think I’ve eaten a full (or remotely healthy) meal here (and have had to attend some tea parties). The only time I got fed properly in all this time was when I crashed at my aunt’s house for a couple of days. And even then I missed my broadband connection and television too much to continue there despite the lure of the food!

And so I waited. For the Fellow to return and for me to have some semblance of a routine once again (a pleasant prospect even with cooking I would have to do). He was to come back home yesterday morning – an arrival much planned for and definitely looked forward to. The wives of the other chaps who had also been away decided we should go armed with a cake to the workplace and welcome the husbands back with pomp. I decided (at a personal level) to get the house cleaned and the refrigerator stocked once again. There were several other plans made, including some movies, drives and weekend getaways.

Unfortunately, the universe has a way of sensing anticipation. And it sneaks in with a sharp, near invisible needle to burst the happy, shining balloon. At first it had been not enough rooms to accommodate everyone. Yesterday morning the needle was in the form of a thunderstorm that lasted several hours and felled at least a hundred trees. And so the Fellow couldn’t come back.

Today, I’m still waiting. But not an ounce of anticipation. Not this time.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Someone Get Me the Mad Hatter

I’m in my own personal hell. The Fellow has been away for nearly three weeks, the maid was first on holiday and then promptly contracted conjunctivitis a day after she came back (late mind you), the car seems to be missing the Fellow even more than me and so has decided to trouble me (the power locking stopped working, and now the driver’s door wont unlock with the key even). And to top it all, the other wives here (instead of spending quality time with their children and homes) insist on subjecting me to the biggest waste of time ever devised in the modern world – tea parties.

Seriously. Tea parties belong to the 19th century when there was no internet or television or anything remotely more interesting than hooped skirts and needlepoint to keep the female population occupied. I definitely don’t need them here right now. I mean, the two odd hours I spend making forced small talk and smiling like I care could be spent so much more productively in front of my computer or even catching up on sleep.

Instead, I have to sit listening to the same bunch of women discussing the same things they discuss at every party, reacting the same way they do about the things they discuss (fake laughter, smile not reaching eyes, self-satisfied smug looks etc) and annoying me in pretty much the exact same way. Oh and the lack of intelligent conversation is beyond unbelievable, making me shudder non-stop in an ice-cube dropped down my shirt kind of way.

And instead of getting up and giving my emotions a very vocal expression, all I can do is imagine a rabbit hole appearing next to my chair. At least the tea parties there will be more fun right?

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Smoke

I don’t have anything against smokers. It’s the smoke I don’t like. Especially the kind that I’m forced to breathe in. Of course the solution to that is to a) be polite and tell the smoker next to me to stuff it or b) make an obvious and pointed exit. And at times when the room resembles a gas chamber more than anything else, walking in and walking out is the only way to go.

And this is exactly what I found myself doing last night. Apparently there was an impromptu song and shayari session in the bar and those of us who weren’t already audience to it headed there. I had taken maybe 2 steps into the bar when I realised I’d probably die of smoke inhalation in the next 5 minutes, and since I hadn’t written my will or called everyone I know to let them know what I thought of them, I decided to step out. Here I was joined by the Fellow (also a non-smoker who likes the full use of his lungs) and another officer (whom I keep supplied with chocolates and who thus felt chocolate-bound to keep me company). While we discussed the habits of smokers and then moved onto talking about drugs, their use and of course, availability, another officer walked out of the bar. On being asked where he was headed to, he indicated with that typical hand gesture that he was off for a smoke.

“Uhh….why don’t you stay in the bar and just take deep breaths? That would save you a cigarette at least.”

“I would, but the smoke is not the right brand.”

That’s the fauj for you.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Excuses

It’s been too long. And I can only plead laziness. Of course a lot of stuff has been happening since I wrote my last post, but that’s no excuse is it? Or is it?

Since I was in Bombay last, the sister has gotten engaged (in the big fat Marwari way), a first cousin also got engaged a week later, I returned home after a near two month long vacation (not a happy feeling at so many levels), my garden has turned green from brown and is now full of flowers and butterflies, the weather has dropped from the high forties to the mid-thirties, making life so much better and I’ve attended at least two parties a week since I’ve been back. Then there was my decision to make (and not buy) rakhis for my brothers this year and so a lot of my time was spent in paper quilling and being all excited about the pretty results. I’m also making lots of rum-raisin chocolates for the neighbours (much to the annoyance of the Fellow who doesn’t get to eat any) almost every week. There is also the lending of time to the aunts who live here and help them with their various independent ventures and stuff (basically giving them motivational speeches and showing how to give a good sales pitch to customers). Oh, and I’ve also been hit by the photography bug and am now the neighbourhood nut who can be found stalking the butterflies in her garden at all times of the day (to be fair, I’ve also stalked some of the kids and now have some pretty good portrait and action shots).

And if I don’t stop now, I’m sure my list of excuses will require a blog of its own and then I will have two blogs which I don’t update regularly.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

For Now

I'm in the process of typing out a really long blog post of what i now call the worst day ever since i got married (please to note there have been worst days before i got married but now they're all blurry and in sepia in the recesses of my brain and i can't be bothered to dig them out just to go into denial once more).
Anyhoo. My point here is that this is just a for-the-record kind of post. I'm in Bombay. And it's raining. Which, after dust storms is such a pleasure. Even though everything is mucky and wet and i'm carrying only really flat footwear.
I've been here two and a half days and already i feel like i never left (until i see the next empty ground near my house where a skyscraper has sprouted). I've gotten stuck in traffic (after zooming across the sea-link), had to wait for an autorickshaw for a long time, spent a seriously fun evening with girlfriends (and baby. Sigh), eaten gujju-style sambhar, bought crazy expensive fruits, discussed the merits of going to Amar Juice C at 1 am, gone shopping in Irla, cursed all the drivers in this city and then some, gotten stranded due to an autorickshaw strike, sat cosy indoors while it poured outside, bemoaned the lack of pakodas at home (everyone is on a diet owing to an upcoming wedding in the family - post coming later) and generally enjoyed being back in my room staring up at the very familiar ceiling.
And while i do plan to get some actual work done while i'm here (apart from the food and friends ie), for now i'm just enjoying the smells, sights and sounds of *meri mitti mera desh* Maybe tomorrow i'll start complaining?

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Weddings, Travelling, A New Camera, Gorgeous Weather and Then Some

It's been too long since i updated the blog. And with good reason too. I've been away, having way too much fun! Weehooo!!
The brother-in-law got married last month and this one was a 10 day affair, spanning 2 cities, 2 cultures, 2 families, little sleep, and unbelievable amounts of food (but that goes without saying no?)
And so right from when we started driving to Delhi, to now, when i'm all bundled up in bed in Shimla (while it rains outside), everything has gone by in a blur of wedding functions, changing clothes (3 times a day) travelling across the country, eating awesome food (i can write a whole new post on this), meeting a host of people, smiling for even more photographs, going click happy with a new (totally awesome) DSLR camera, making new friends from around the world, taking in some gorgeous weather and generally having a good time!
There is so much i want to write about, like how the groom drove across the country (literally - from Delhi to Bangalore) for his wedding, how the elephant who was supposed to give the groom a ride, freaked out and scampered away, how the bride's dog took part in every conversation that happened in his territory, how a cousin got her clothes torn while protecting her brother's shoes, how the bride and groom were actually on time for the reception (and how they spent the next day counting all the moolah they raked in) and so much more!
But for now, all i'm going to do is sort through the thousands of photographs and go upload crazy on Facebook!






Thursday, May 6, 2010

Death Two Ways

Some friends are on vacation and have left me (and the Fellow) in charge of their pet fish. I was supposed to go to their house everyday and drop a palm-full of fish food into the tank. Of course I did it. And made the Fellow do it too. In fact we ended up taking turns in feeding the fish, with me praying each day we didn’t find them dead and floating (I mean, I loved Finding Nemo and it would just be too traumatic to flush the little thing (s) away).

And then I had to travel for work (sounds so important when I say it like this no?). Yesterday, while I was chatting with a cousin (yes, work takes me around family. Fun) I suddenly remembered the fish. I called the Fellow immediately, who, as it turns out had just remembered them too! After telling him where the house keys where (men I tell you!) I turned back to the cousin. “Feeding fish didi?” she asked. “Yes” I replied. “Online?” she returned?

I knew then, that something in all of us (or at least my cousin) has had to have died, when feeding fish reminds you of online pets. I mean seriously? With all the Farmville and Fishville going around, whatever happened to the real thing?

Well, 5 minutes later I knew. The real thing had died. Well, 3 of them at least. Apparently the oxygen pump stopped working and 3 fish floated up before rescue in the form of the Fellow arrived on the scene.

Scoop. Drop. Flush. Sigh.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Major Flaw

I think the human mind has some major flaws. For one, it doesn’t let you forget. It may make it seem like you’ve gotten past something, and even wiped it clean out of your memory. But it’s just a trick. Your mind is playing with you. It forgets nothing. It lets you forget nothing. Just when you’re least expecting it, it surprises you. And not the balloons and cake and a bunch of your friends hiding in the dark kind of surprise. No. It’s the dark alleyway with a predator around the corner waiting for you silently type. It’s the kind which keeps you awake for hours at night. You associate with it a racing heart, a blind panic and a feeling that every particle of you is in emotional pain.

Sometimes I can understand why denial is such a powerful tool. And why it might be tempting to use it to the point of clinical disturbance.

But I guess, the human mind is more resilient than that. Damn it.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Of Grandmothers

The Fellow’s grandmother passed away last week.

I didn’t know her for too long, but I will always remember her as a woman of amazing strength, independence and foresight. At 80, she walked without any support, managed apple orchards all by herself and lived alone in a massive house, in the lap of the mountains, without any complaints, or indeed desire to live anywhere else (in fact, she terrorised the countryside and made sure not a leaf was out of place in her little kingdom). And this she’d been doing for nearly 30 years.

2 weeks before granny died, she had a cardiac arrest, the result of a renal complication. Since things were looking critical, we rushed home to be with her, and I think the presence of her favourite grandsons helped her much more than medication. In fact, it’s a tribute to how much she meant to her family that all her grandchildren, living all over the country, arrived to be with her when she was unwell. Just the sight of her grandchildren brought a sparkle to her eyes and a grin to her face. She couldn’t be happier than when the apple of her eyes were teasing her, tickling her and generally making all kinds of noise in the hospital room. In fact, in less than a week she was well enough to go home, where the noise just continued and she was kept in high spirits. Ten days later, she died.

It’s been a week since granny died and it all seems surreal still. At times when the brain is trying to rationalise what happened, it feels like she survived a massive cardiac arrest just to make sure she gave us all a chance to meet her one last time.

She died as she lived – on her own terms.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Of Food, Cleaning Up and Panic

So the Fellow and I had our first dinner party last night. Needless to say, I was the one hyperventilating all through the day, cooking, tasting, cleaning, supervising (the maid), re-tasting, organising and trying to get the Fellow away from this computer long enough to help out some. The Fellow, on the other hand, dusted off the bottles of alcohol, made sure the beer was refrigerated and checked if there was enough ice to last through the night. Yes, he did help when asked (like grating a whole tin of cheese and getting the crockery out) but like he said, at one point I was creating work for him, just to keep him involved! Eventually I let him be, and just demanded he shave and change into something presentable for the evening.

Why was I so worked up about a simple dinner? Well, to begin with, we’ve never had a party at home, so that was a little scary. It’s surprising how much stuff gets spread around the house and how much I sounded like my mom when I was putting things away. As I ran around the house, organising and tidying up, the Fellow had only one thing to say (which he yelled from his den while taking a break from Mass Effect 2): lock all the rooms so people don’t go in there, and this way you won’t have to clean anything up. Keep them contained within the living room, dining room and garden he said. And he ended his monologue with “my house, my rules”.

Once I got past the Fellow and his gyan (by simply not listening anymore), I started worrying about the food. I’ve never cooked for anyone besides my immediate family (who unfortunately had to live through my experimenting-with-cooking-stage of life) and the Fellow. And since, for the past year, I’ve been cooking for only two, I had next to no idea how to cook for more people. This obviously meant second guessing myself and wondering if what I made would be enough for everyone.

Well, as it turned out, I could have invited another 8 people over for dinner, and still have food left over [Note: The Fellow, who hadn’t taken a look at how much I’d cooked till after the party was over and we were cleaning up, still hasn’t stopped laughing].

And so, even with all the pre-party nervousness, behaviour resembling the Energiser bunny, last minute checks on everything (including the Fellow), a 10 minute window of panic (when no one arrived at the designated time), and a refrigerator full of food at the end of it all (not to talk of aching feet), my first dinner party was a huge success.

I’m now a fully functional fauji wife!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Cravings. Sigh.

Something is seriously wrong with me. A month back, I was obsessed with baking. I ended up making everything from caramel custard to cakes, brownies and cookies. And I still have to try a chocolate pie, cupcakes and muffins and choco-chip cookies (amongst other things). Unfortunately my baking streak was interrupted by a little snag with my breathing (in that I couldn’t do it properly). Now it’s a full blown cold with the fever-headache-frog-stuck-in-my-throat thing happening. So obviously my oven is feeling a little neglected.

But that is not what’s seriously wrong with me.

What’s wrong is the fact that even with a stuffed nose and burning lungs, I’m craving food. And this time round, I’m thinking of malai koftas, the super-soft, creamy, delicately spiced ones, gobhi, the kind my mother-in-law made once sometime back, triple-fried potatoes in an awesome tomato gravy my aunt makes, chhole-tikki that mum made complete with green and imli chutney, aloo parathas and boondi raita made by somebody other than me…well, you get the basic idea right?

I’m worried. Really. Fat Avantika is really coming through to the surface more often these days and I’m afraid I won’t have the mental strength to keep fighting her off. Too soon, I’m going to give in, and download a recipe for cream-filled koftas or call the aunt up and get the recipe for her super-fatty, very unhealthy, absolutely delicious potatoes. Sigh.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Of Holi!

If there is one festival I can’t resist celebrating, it’s Holi. It doesn’t matter how ill I am (with the mumps) or whether I’m having trouble breathing (like I have been for the past week). Holi just has to be enjoyed the right way. And this means all the pre-preparation (oiling hair/face/arms and nail-painting), and then getting drenched in (usually cold) water and covered in several layers of colours. Of course, in my case, it doesn’t matter what colours are applied. By the end of the revelries, I generally end up looking one even shade of maroon, with the random yellow/purple streak adding character to my face. Add to that prominent whites of eyes and big white teeth, and the effect can be quite scary.

But it’s all so much fun. Right from shivering in the cold to drying up in a patch of sun, from thandai and jalebis to the taste of gulal in the mouth, from hand prints on t-shirts to white kurtas becoming technicoloured, from tossing water balloons to throwing buckets of water, holi has something for everyone.

And personally, I think the best part is after you finish playing holi – that time spent scrubbing all the colour off your skin (yearly shedding I call it) – waiting to see what you end up looking like (and then grinning at similarly colourful people as you cross them on the road over the next 2 days).

Anyhoo. I have pink ears today. What do you look like?

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Married To?

For the one year and a couple of months I’ve been married, I’ve been getting all kinds of reactions to the fact that I have retained my maiden name. In some cases it’s become such a big deal - like my grandmom who thought I was doing something illegal by not changing my name. The same granny also thought to tell me of all the problems that can arise in a marriage by ‘small’ things like these (this she told me in hushed whispers and concerned tones). I tried explaining to her about how my identity is my own, and that getting married does not mean I change a name I’ve lived with and been associated with for 25 yrs of my life. I also had to tell her (hoping it would make her comfortable with the idea) that I had the Fellow’s support in this decision and that it wasn’t something he really bothered or even thought about.

But of course we had to think about it. In the organisation we are in, change is slow. Formality is abundant. And so if I’m married, I’m automatically Mrs. Last-name-of-the-chap-I’m-married-to. In the beginning, it irked me to no end, to be constantly referred to as Mrs. XYZ. Then I decided to not waste time getting annoyed since these people obviously hadn’t heard of retaining your own identity (and Women’s Lib, but that was asking for too much). But the more I saw around me, the more amazed I was. It was like the women didn’t want to think on their own really. They were mouthpieces for their husbands; their image depended on the rank their husband was at and his position in the larger hierarchical group. Everything they did was keeping their husbands future (and present) in mind, even if it meant not having a brain of their own (or using it). I don’t mean that anyone should go out of their way to prove a point, at the risk of someone’s career. But at least be sure of who you are, outside of your spouse.

Today I just got more proof of how the women around me have somehow lost themselves in their relationship, so much so that who they were or can be is pretty much forgotten - I was sitting in a school Principal’s office, and she was going through files full of CV’s of women applying for a teaching post. However, apart from the sheer number of applicants, the one thing that struck me was that along with their name, each and every one of these women had added “Wife of So and So”.

And I was left wondering - when applying for a job, unless you’re Rabri Devi, how does it matter whom you’re married to?

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Silver Lining

So the Fellow is really busy with some huge show his organisation is putting up. I mean, apart from 12-14 hour work days (which begin at 6.30 in the morning), he’s also been working weekends (which does mean no parties, so yay for that at least).

But even with the thankless hours the Fellow had to work, and having to float around the house alone most of the day, it was all ok. Why? Well, at least the Fellow would come back home to me every evening and I could talk his ears off while he tried to finish his game on the PSP (all the time hmm-ing away, pretending to be listening to me).

And now it’s gotten all warped. 3 days back he left for a couple of hours’ work, and ended up staying away for 2 days. Today he returned (mainly to refresh his overnight case) for about 45 mins, and then went off again. I’m not sure whether he’ll return tonight. Or tomorrow night. Which is very uncool.

However, since I’m the optimistic kind (ok. So I also twist the truth at times), I decided it wasn’t all bad. I mean, when the Fellow called and texted in the middle of the day just to say hello, I couldn’t stop grinning (then he said he wasn’t coming home, so I sulked. But that’s not what I’m talking about here). It reminded me of the days when we were dating and were living in different cities. I didn’t realise how much I missed those long lo-ong phone calls and those constant texts to and fro, talking, arguing, dreaming. And I know I missed the anticipation and the waiting for him to call – the skipping a heartbeat when I saw his name flashing on my phone when least expected (or when expected), is a feeling that nothing can match.

And so, even though I really miss the Fellow, and am annoyed he isn’t here to hold hands with (it’s cold. And my hands are freezing.), I’m seeing the silver lining on the cloud. And I’m waiting for his next call.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Of Khan

My Name is Khan proved to be an interesting watch. I say interesting, because the movie was not something I expected. And then it was.

To begin with, Asperger’s Syndrome seems to have been researched with some degree of competence. This itself was a huge relief, since Bollywood isn’t exactly known for its accuracy, especially as far as psychological disorders go. Then there was a view of America beyond New York and Las Vegas. I personally loved the move from shiny buildings, well manicured lawns and big cars to rugged mountains stark deserts, buses and pick-ups. It was also a delight to watch American cast members doing more than just providing a backdrop for the ‘main cast’ and definitely refreshing not to hear them converse in Hindi (or sing the National Anthem like KJo got them to do in an earlier movie).

And then, there was Shahrukh Khan. I wouldn’t be exaggerating when I say that the movie is all him. From his even-toned and stilted narration to his jerky walk and unfocused gaze, SRK has outdone himself with this movie. I mean, we’ve all seen him play lover-boy, a role he can do in his sleep in movie after movie. In fact, after a while he stopped being a character and just remained the superstar. Not this time. Even though you keep expecting SRK the star to make an appearance, it doesn’t happen. No cocky grin, no swaggering towards the camera and no sappy dialogues. Instead, you are charmed with an innocence that makes you smile in a nice way. The character has been defined well and SRK lends his own belief and faith to it.

I would like to talk about Kajol too, but I’m more of an SRK fan. Also Kajol wasn’t mind-blowing or spectacularly different. She had her usual fare of tears, laughter, hair-flips and shrieking. Probably the one thing different in this movie was her lack of makeup in more than once scene (and then you can see some really huge pores I tell you!).

This was the unexpected (no, not Kajol’s pores).

So what were the clich├ęd bits? Well, most of the second half for a start. I mean, it wouldn’t be a Hindi film if the hero (no matter what his condition has been described as) doesn’t give a speech about good versus evil, save people’s lives, work wonders under the most difficult of situations, become an international hero and a source of inspiration and change the thinking of at least half a million people (give or take a few). Oh and also manage to get injured and have a tearful reunion with his wife as he lies in a hospital bed. Add to that a happy ending (no, the reunion wasn’t it) and you know Karan Johar couldn’t help himself. I mean, he did stay away from chiffon sarees and Punjabi aunties this time round. I guess, his love for drama could be excused this once.

Overall, go see the movie. Just for Khan. From the epiglottis. Khhh-an. Watch the movie. You’ll understand.

300

This is my 300th post. Woohoo! Usual gyan giving continues from the next post, once my semi-euphoric state subsides and I get my ice-cream (and I convince the Fellow that I truly want to go on a weight loss program).

ODing

I’m going to see My Name is Khan in a couple of hours. But before I watch the movie (and then give opinionated gyan about it here) I wanted to get one thing clear – no matter how good, bad or simply annoying, the film turns out to be, I’m a tad bit fed up of the movie already. I mean, it’s everywhere you turn.

So there are the usual PR tricks and gimmicks and promotional tours happening on all forms of mass media. But then a political party had to throw themselves into the circus and everyone went into verbal diarrhoea mode. Especially SRK, who decided to do it on Twitter, and honestly, ended up sounding like he was stoned and depressed. That, or someone had stolen his identity. And then, all Bollywood personnel on Twitter were going gaga over the movie and its makers and joined the bandwagon. Oh, and not to be left behind (I mean it is a journey after all right?) everyone from travel agents to suitcase companies and shoe makers is latching on, making the whole thing beyond anything.

And so, even though I love technology and all the joy that it brings with it, I’ve been really wishing I lived in the age before television, radio and twitter. At least that way I wouldn’t have to OD on MNIK (and Rahul Dulhaniya Le Jayega. But that’s a whole new post).

Saturday, February 13, 2010

If You Want Something Bad Enough…

…chances are you’ll get it.

If any of you reading this, also read this post you’d know exactly how much I was looking forward to (and felt about) a certain party tonight. Let’s just say, I was less than thrilled about ruining my Saturday evening at a party which was doomed to be a failure from the very beginning.

But somewhere between then and last night, the universe decided to intervene. Don’t know what it was – maybe we’re just nice people who don’t deserve torture of this kind, or maybe the combined weight of several people sulking and whining and cursing seemed to take effect. Whatever it was, the very people, who were all jumpy about having a red hearts and candles kind of party tonight, decided, yesterday, not to.

Now, as much as I’d like to ascribe it to divine intervention and last minute common sense (ya right), I’d be lying. In truth, the big boss’ mother is on her death bed and yesterday it struck the women behind the party plan that it was rude to party in such a scenario. Duh!

Whatever it was (and I’m truly sorry for the boss’ family), there is no party tonight. Yay! The weekend is turning out to be a good one finally and I’m in the mood to spread the cheer. Have a good weekend people.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Bombay and Birthdays

I don’t really need a reason to miss Bombay (as will be apparent to anyone who reads this space and/or hears me talk for extended periods of time) But sometimes I just happen to find myself in a situation, that absolutely makes me wish I could dissaparate (Harry Potter style), to the traffic jammed roads, super-crowded local trains, neighbourhood bhel and sandwich chappie and of course the shiny shopping malls.

I didn’t realise how much I relied on those gross symbols of consumerism and brand names till I didn’t have access to them anymore. Seriously. All I wanted to buy yesterday was a nice birthday gift for a friend’s one year old daughter. And did I find anything? No. Ok, so maybe I am a little neurotic when it comes to giving birthday gifts – it has to be perfect and special in at least one small way for the person. I can spend hours deciding what to buy, even though I hate shopping as a rule. So imagine my frustration, when I couldn’t find one remotely decent gift for a baby in this whole town (and just when I had started appreciating it a little).

And then I missed Bombay like crazy. I mean, if I was there, I would have had a tough time deciding what to give the baby from a wide range of ‘oh this is so cute’ stuff. And here, I had the option of ugly tee shirt vs ugly dress vs ugly toy. Shudder.

So finally I had to resort to the artsy-craftsy soul in me and make something at home – a challenge by itself given the limited resources available (this makes me miss Hobby Ideas and my favourite stationery shops in Bombay. Sniff).

Anyhoo, cutting a long story short, I gave the kiddo (well, actually her parents) a gorgeous photo album made of hand made paper (which I had picked up on a whim some months back somewhere) and painted a birthday greeting inside. Maybe someday, when the little one is older, and appreciates memories and birthdays more than she does today, she’ll want to sit with this album and go through the pictures of her first birthday. I know I would.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Valenteen's Eve Party

No, it’s not a typo. Valenteen is what I typed.

But let me start whining right from the beginning – when I got that dreaded phone call, asking all the ladies (of the squadron) to assemble in the evening at X place. This meant only one thing – the women were going to plan something and/or spend at least one hour discussing random nonsense. And right I was. It was all nonsense.

Apparently, this over-enthusiastic-not-happy-with-two-parties-a-week group of women decided to have a Valentine’s day eve party. Now, the very idea is revolting at several different levels, beginning with how, one of the ladies kept calling it Valenteen’s day – something that made me want to giggle out loud (and I never giggle out loud) and then tell her she was getting it wrong so she would stop making a fool of herself (in a horribly self-satisfied sort of manner too). But I like to stay away from politics and the evilness some women thrive in, and so continued sitting quietly in my corner coming up with this blog post

Now this party, it was decided, would be a pot luck party. As far as I understand, it’s called pot luck because everyone brings a pot of something and you hope to get lucky and get some good food. But that’s not how we do it here. Luck is an alien concept. And so a detailed menu was planned (mainly involving super-boring food that you see at every party here) and before they (the annoying aunties of the group) could hand me a task way beyond my skill and/or motivation levels, I volunteered to do the salad. For a moment they were confused. Then I threw in words like macaroni and mayo and all was good. After all this meant I was making ‘English food’. Yes. I know. When I heard the phrase for the first time, I had the same reaction and confused look on my face. But I’ve come to terms with it. You will too.

The rest of the meeting post my salad moment is pretty much a haze. I remember tea being served with something hot and spicy to eat (who forgets food huh?). I also remember someone mentioning games and paper dance in the same sentence. There was also something about singing romantic songs at the party, at which time I barfed in my head and imagined the Fellow’s face when I told him about it. Oh, and red balloons – the heart shaped ones, candles and roses were definitely talked about. I know this, because the laughter inside my head got so loud it broke through the haze of disinterest and boredom.

So now, I have to attend a Valenteen’s day eve party on Saturday, have to wear red and black (yes that was discussed too), hide the rose I’m supposed to give the Fellow, forget about a gift I’m also supposed to get for him, may/may not have to play some ridiculous couple-y games (depending on how good I am at timing my bathroom break), eat terribly boring, run of the mill food (except for my English food of course) and then come back and write a long blog post about it!

Damn commercialisation of love and stupid over-excited women.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Cooking up Memories

I’m a true blue Bombayite. Street food runs through my veins. I’ve grown up on the golas at Juhu beach and the cornerwala sandwich bhaiyya’s veg sandwiches (with a slice of buttered bread and chaat masala with boiled potato on the side). And if there is one thing I miss about the city where I’ve grown up, it’s the food. In the one year that I’ve been away from Bombay, most of my home-sick moments have revolved around acute cravings for some or the other kind of food (mainly street food, with the random Mainland China and Basillico thrown in).

And today I finally did something I’d thought I’d never do. I decided to give into my food craving. How? By making the food myself. Yes. I know. Sounds undoable right? But I didn’t even think of attempting to match Bombay street food standards. All I wanted to do was calm down the craving monster in me, so that I didn’t spend the next 3 days whining and complaining (about this at least).

So I made Pav Bhaaji.

And while I made it, I thought of the super-heavy super-hot tava on which the street style bhaaji is and how it was impossible to stand too close to it. As I put in the pav bhaaji masala and the correct smells wafted up to me (yay), I was reminded of the sounds and smells from Khau galli, as we went to Fashion Street from college - the sizzle and splash of water on a hot tava, the rise of steam covering everything, and the smell of butter melting mingled with that particular aroma that only Bombay street-side bhaaji has. Then there was the pav. The butter soaked, hot, melts-in-your-mouth bread, which was a treat just by itself, making you want to overeat to the point of explosion. Sigh.

Somehow, even with all the flashbacks to a happier time, when I sat with friends by the side of the road licking pav bhaaji off our fingers, I managed to finish cooking. And surprisingly, I managed a decent enough job. Of course, the bhaaji could have used some of the red food colouring used in Bombay and the pav some more (lots more) butter. But it worked. My craving was appeased and I had the pleasure of licking some bhaaji off my fingers today.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Baking It

Ever since i saw the movie Julie/Julia, i've had this super-strong urge to cook. At first i waited to see if it would die a natural death (in a couple of hours after watching the movie). But it didnt. It just got stronger. And so i decided to give in and stocked up ingredients (mainly chocolate and cocoa) and tools (measuring cups, pans etc).
Then i went in search of recipes. And did i find them! I had to finally come up with an exclusion criteria to make life simpler for me. So i simply excluded all those recipes which had more than 7 steps and which listed even one exotic ingredient (due to problems of unavailability mainly). Once i had a couple of recipes which i thought looked doable, even for a baking novice like me, i took a minute to pray to the oven and cake mix gods and did my thing.
Suffice to say, my first cake was a success (owing to the fact that the Fellow loved it...and not because he loves me. His love for chocolate cake is much stronger and very finicky). I was totally thrilled. And it gave me the confidence to try more stuff out.
So in the last couple of weeks i've made chocolate chip and walnut brownies (twice), chocolate chip, walnut and oatmeal cookies and chocolate pudding. I'm now developing the urge to make some caramel custard. And it's not all about desert. I have at least half a dozen recipes for bread, including French bread, Whole wheat bread and bagels. But i'm still trying to build up the courage to make something as simple yet difficult as bread. And once i start, i know i'm not going to stop. So i need to be careful.
Anyhoo. What i really wanted to say was that i'm thinking of starting a food blog. You know, just to share what i make and tell the drama that ensues behind scenes (including burnt cookies and stakeouts in the kitchen).
But then, i also thought of starting a photo blog. Hmmm i think my new hobby shall be starting up new blogs, and then getting newer hobbies to keep the blogs running.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Of Tea Parties

I’m back to my whiny, complaining self. And this time round, its tea parties. Yes. You heard me right. Tea parties. In this age of television, computers, broadband internet, Facebook, Twitter and the blogosphere, I’m being made to attend tea parties. And not the cool, Mad Hatter as company kind either. No siree. I have to attend boring, annoying-women-sitting-by-me-and-talking-rubbish kind of tea parties. And I have to pretend I’m having the time of my life while I listen to why Mrs. Y fired her maid and why Mrs. X buys all her clothes only in Delhi. Oh, and there is also Mrs. Z trying to bond with me over something and all I’m thinking is “she’s touching me. Why is she touching me? Get your hand off my shoulder lady or I’m going to smack you”.

I mean, as if we didn’t have enough dinner parties here already, I now have to smile my way through tea too? And I don’t even like tea. But that’s a different story. Personally, I’m sick and tired of meeting the same group of women at least twice a week (and this week it’s going to be 4 times). Einstein’s theory of R never made more sense than at these times believe me. Making it worse is that with the same faces, come the same stories and the same boring conversations, revolving around set topics – their children, their domestic help troubles, cosmetic products and their usage, clothes (what they’re wearing and where they bought it), shoes (yes. They discuss shoes. Shoot me someone.) and of course the next party. Did I mention shoot me someone?

Now since nobody takes my complaints seriously (and shoots me to get me out of this misery), I do what I can. And so I got through the aforementioned party by hanging around the kitchen, helping the host warm the food (and tasting it extensively) and set the table. It made me feel like I was back home, a teenager, helping mum get ready for a party. This way I could dissociate from the bunch of women discussing nappy rashes and Amway products, and pretend I wasn’t married (sorry Fellow) and/or had anything in common with them.

Anyhoo. Tomorrow is a new day. And another party.

I need to find a gun I tell you.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Of The Past and The Future

So we attended a wedding a couple of days back and in the first half hour the Fellow was convinced he’d lost all motivation and will to attend such dos anymore. Why you ask? Because the only girl he has to look out for now, is me. No more scanning the crowd for the hottest chick in the crowd, no more engaging eye contact and definitely no more flirting in an attempt to get her phone number. Oh, and following a girl you met at a wedding, some 200 odd kilometres just because she was uber-hot, that’s a total no no now.

And so, all through the evening, the Fellow kept shaking his head looking trapped. Till he had a brilliant idea. He decided that since he can’t use his years of experience and valuable knowledge to his benefit anymore, he will pass it on to the next generation of young men looking to woo girls at weddings. And this is exactly what he did, ably assisted by me (the woman’s perspective I was).

Thus the only 2 bachelors in our squadron were told to kindly stop hanging out with us married folk, and go spend time with the bride’s friends. At first they were, well, totally sissy about it (apparently they were extremely fearful of getting slapped) and it took a lot of glares and head jerks in the right direction for them to even be within 3 feet of the girls.

And then a window of opportunity opened. One of the girls went all the way to one end of the ground, and sat by herself looking at some annoying kids play. Now, as a girl myself, I knew this was a cry (demand) for attention and was probably the best time for any guy to make his move. And this is exactly what we told one of our young bucks. Not entirely convinced with our reasoning, he nevertheless took a deep breath and did what we told him to, and 15 minutes later came back grinning and thanking me! Apparently the girl wanted to see the city, this being her first visit here and he offered to take her around.

This was it. This was all the encouragement the Fellow and his friend needed to pass on their years of experience forward, and for the next 30 mins, gave this young chap tip after tip after tip. They had so much to say that the poor recipient finally asked them to pen all of it down. And I don’t blame him. From celebrating his birthday one day before the girl left (and 5 months before his real birthday) to convincing her he had dinner coupons to the Taj (and then arranging the payment with the management), they had quick tips for everything!! They even told him the kind of car/bike he should take. And the icing on cake was, that the Fellow being his senior officer got him the next day off so that he could take the girl out!!

Yesterday the Fellow came back home looking all triumphant. The girl has postponed her return journey and will be spending a few days more here.

I now plan on writing a book on all the tips and gyan the Fellow and his friend have accumulated over the years, on how to pick up girls at weddings and other social situations. All I need now, is a catchy title.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Of a Problem and Much Twirling

I love family weddings. But I hate the shopping that comes with it. I mean, I’m the make-a-list-and-go-get-the-stuff kind of shopper. So the mindless window shopping, going through tons of shops and checking out each and everything they sell, is beyond the realms of my patience levels.

Unfortunately, this is exactly what thrills the in-laws. Nothing gives them more pleasure than spending the day in one shop after another, finding things they might need, don’t need, have two of already, but need a spare and then some. And with a marriage coming up in the family, the in-laws have the perfect reason for going all shopaholic and clothes-crazy! Now, shopaholics need to shop. It doesn’t have to be for themselves, as long as they come home everyday with at least one shopping bag. And so the in-laws insist on buying the Fellow and me clothes – clothes which we don’t need (Yes yes, I’m a girl and I’m saying no to new clothes. So?)

This is where the problem lies.

Whenever the topic and/or shopping bag is presented, the Fellow enters fight mode and can get away with stamping his feet, grumbling and generally making a lot of noise about how he has enough clothes and he doesn’t want anything more and how ma and papa need to get a grip on all the shopping.

I can’t do that (throw a tantrum that is). I can only smile and be patient - especially when explaining to ma why I really, really don’t need another lehenga. Really. Then I try not to fall prey to ma’s sheepish and super-naughty smile (which she’s got down to perfection). And when I feel my will power (and good logic) slipping under parental pressure of the subtle kind, I dig out the reason why I don’t need a new lehenga. And hoping to hell everyone gets distracted enough to forget all about shopping, I start twirling!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Teenage Revisited

So Mr. Khan is on Twitter. And even though I know I’m way cooler than this, i’m super-excited. I mean imagine if he actually replied to one of my tweets??!! Aaaahhhh. That would send the teenager in me rocketing up to space on pure thrill and hormones!

Ok. So before any of you (and by that I mean you PK) start judging me about this you should know that SRK was my teenage idol. I put posters of him up on my walls and sneaked postcards of him into my textbooks. I saw DDLJ more times than I can remember. I even imagined conversations with him where I would be all nonchalant and super-cool (and not at all high-pitched and girly), and he would be so charmed by my wisdom (that I had garnered at the ripe old age of 12) and wit that he would be my friend (c’mon. I was 12. What did you expect?) for ever more!

Yes yes. I know it sounds a bit kooky but I was pre-pubescent. I blame the hormones and the fact that I really couldn’t appreciate Ajay Devgan or Suniel Shetty the way I could Shahrukh Khan. And now he’s on Twitter. And he’s playing the same video game the Fellow has been obsessing about (which makes it slightly easier for me to adjust to the fact that a game is more interesting than me).

And so even though I’m having a giant bimbo moment happening here, I make no apologies. I mean I’m already starving Fat Avantika (who is hiding inside me waiting for her time). I owe at least this much to the teenage me right?

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Another Year, Another Post

So according to my resolutions for this year i should blog more. And i wanted to. I really wanted to log in a post for the first day of the year and all that. But since resolutions are made to be broken (c'mon, you know i'm right) and i suffer from chronic procrastination, things turned out otherwise (obviously).

Anyhoo. The date has changed and people have hopefully finished going hyper-excited about another year of their lives going by in a jiffy. This also means that the phone lines have finally opened up and I stop getting corny messages from people.

Now since I really hadn’t thought about what I want to write about in this post, and was aiming primarily to fulfill at least one of my resolutions, I’m going to end here.

Happy 2nd day of the new year everyone.