Whatever the title is supposed to mean I mistook it for one of the many names of Lord Ganesha. I have somewhat watched the Tamil original (Telugu dubbed) but not the Hollywood original Memento. Aamir Khan as Sanjay Singhania, Chairman of Airvoice is convincing as much as the revenge thirsty short term memory loss patient. They say one should never argue about/against the script and narrative. I beg to differ but yes, the story was rife with loopholes.

First things first, Asin’s bubbly girl act is (yawn) de ja vu. She is not vivacious but loud and animated which is,perhaps,coming of age in South Indian cinema. Aamir’s body, shirtless and waxed or in Van Huesen shirts and suits is delicious. Asin’s body of work in South Indian cinema is laudably enormous given the settings and stereotypes. The movie is raking in the moolah and will go on to become a top grosser. But to each his own. Ghajini is not menacing the way he is made to be. Is that again the way Ghajini is suppossed to be or an anti-climactic ploy? His Haryanvi Hindi is also, not matter-of-fact, signature. Standing up against Aamir’s revenge and thirst requires some gravity that he failed to display. He could do as much as he was asked to. Ah, remember the days of Ashutosh Rana in Dushman or Sangharsh, not your larger than life villains but uh-oh. His white shoes and gold baubles make him a late 80’s celluloid copy of a chillad don. His cronies are depraving, gross and not up to the mark. They surely look dumb and dumber especially in the fight scenes. It’s another thing if the director wanted to maintain/highlight the impact of Aamir and therefore made them look paltry. The crucial scene in which Asin is holed up in her own house is bone chilling. The helplessness and the slipping hope, and when hope arrives, it is tragically late.

This fetish for playing balancing two characters is the current flavour of/in Hindi cinema. We saw this earlier in Rab ne Bana di Jodi also, where modest Surinder Sahni loves playing the loud and stylish Raj. Here the rather loud Kalpana likes and begins to love the quiet  Sachin after a night long monologue of to be or not to be. There are tender moments in the movie that make her appealing, probably that’s the way her character is shaped.

We could have saved Kalpana if the filthy rich Sanjay gave a thought to providing an undercover security blanket as much as he got her a swanky apartment in upmarket Bombay. But then, Ghajini would not have born. Trash it, it is a bad idea. Ghajini is not meant to be a villain. It is someone’s revenge story, justified or not is hardly consequential. Ghajini had to be hunted down, he was. And revenge prevailed. The killing scenes are gory, the methods even more chilling and the thuds deafening.

Jiah as medic intern Sumitra is supportive. Wish if someone could have toned down those tonged locks and skinny jeans. Her fear is palpable as much as mine. I will hate to close a window in the dark lest you know…

Tinnu Anand's quintessential aspiring act is endearing. But this Aamir who grunts like a beast and kills without remorse is different. Power-packed and earth-shattering, he did look scary and I would hate to meet him.


Search of a kind

"ek onkar satnam kartapurakh
nirmoh nirvair akaal murat
ajuni sabham
guru parsad jap aad sach jugaad sach
hai bhi sach nanak hose bhi sach
soche soch na ho wai
jo sochi lakh waar
chhupe chhup na howai
je laai har lakhtaar
ukhiya pukh na utari

je banna puriya paar
sahasyanpa lakh woh hai
ta ek na chale naal 
ke ve sach yaara hoi ae
ke ve kude tutte paal
hukum rajai chalna nanak likheya naal"

I was looking for this song like a crazy person the entire day. For lack of understanding the language I was in the wrong direction. Asked friends and even tried calling my Sikh friend in Shillong,she was not at home. My keywords were "gurbani", "satnam sri waheguru", etc and any random search that came close to "satnam". There is something about this invocation. The other invocation that calms me is the Gayatri Mantra. 

When I first heard this, it was some months ago in the movie Rang De Basanti but like I paid attention given my momentary attention span. Then, in a Zee TV serial called Maayka. Both times, I was mesmerised but not attentive enough to probe more.Then Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi took a trip of my memory. Somehow, I was amazed at my inability to spot this sacred gem.

Think-out-of-the-box(a nickname I have given someone) asked me if I had this song especially after our "ji" banter and chat,"Mom loves that number." Very confidently (though I kinda knew this version is not existent in my collection) I proclaimed,"haan..hona chahiye."I will find out. Yes, and I did not find it. :'-( 

A chanced meeting with another dear friend at work, he is a virtual guardian.I ranted my my day's update,just one update only. i could not find this song. He asked me to ask my Google mom, another lovely lady and a spirited Punjaban. We called her, she told me she didn't have it but rendered the first few lines.Gosh! I found it!

My search was over.I found the gem near sometime at sunset.Bugged a couple friends.At peace now.I have midnight  mass to offer. :)

I learn, you learn...

Learning is an unending process, definitely. Dad showed me a full form grid many years ago.

L stood for life, that it is never too late or too early to learn anything in life. I want to learn so many things, god! Hope they don’t decline admissions stating you need to be of a certain tender age, like airlines do when they hire fresh faces for their hospitality department.

I is for interest for the subject or whatever we intend/want to learn.

F means faith, first in yourself, then in God and then, in others around you.

E is the enterprise that sustains process and all that goes on in the wheel of fortune.


I learned how to hold my temper when I was sent to kindergarten to teach.

I learned to be patient when Mom was bedridden for weeks after a fall.

I learned that it is just a fraction that decides life from death and death from life.

I learned that miracles do happen and sometimes don’t when grandma did not wake from the operation table.

I learned that disobedience is costly. It nearly cost my brother’s life.

I learned that it is easier to forgive than not to forget. I have lost a couple friends.

I learned to pray when there was no hope and yes, I was comforted.

I learned to be fair when your best friends who are guys go out with their girlfriends.

I learned to smile and accommodate when my girlfriends had dates to attend.

I learned to be OK when you are dumped like a hot potato when something came up.

I learned being loving makes you stronger.


On the lighter side…


I learned that

I can never belly-dance, just can’tL

I am a disaster with crying babies, I panic K

I cannot build sand castles,

I cannot fly kites,

I cannot play carom,

I cannot play marbles with that skill to break them in one shot.

I cannot shoot balloons at a fair, my aim is so awfully bad!





A Prelude to a mundane life

Pigeons coo on a sunny morning,

The broom cries coarsely,

The man wails, “Tomato, tomato”.


The newspaper lands with a thud on the porch,

The alarm goes with a snooze of a temptation

And a mat of dead drunken mosquitoes.


The triumph of one evening  

Becomes the madness of the day ahead

And the soothing calm of the dark night.


The urbane dead celebrate stubbed cigarettes,

And breathe in an empty bottle

Where unwashed dishes is a new metaphor.


Where earning and credit cards are none-of-your business

Where crying is a useless ploy

And laughing a sadistic relief


The tube is a compulsive irritant

“How many bodies?” cries the insufferable

You zap and yawn and well...


To an empty stomach food is god

Food is a sentimental issue. Non-vegetarians love their meat and fish lovers their fish as much as veggies try to categorize eggs and milk as not non-veg. Indians ‘learn’ a lot from Maneka Gandhi on what is appropriate and what is not including paneer and butter.

I work in a place where food is available in plenty and abundance. My eyes wander and wonder in sheer amazement at break-outs and what the mind cannot think of. You seek and you have it. Breakfast is a grand spread, lunch is grander. Dinner is very homely and respectable.

With the average age of inmates here less than 25 and a few close to over the hill and close to corporate menopause,we have a diverse eating crowd. Fortunate souls get their tiffin boxes. ‘I’m feeling lucky’ kinds enjoy food at office. We all want to believe that we work at/in and for the best place in the world. Definitely, standards can’t be compromised and one should only maintain/improve them per the needs to ensure smiling faces. We also want to believe that we are daughters/sons of kings and queens (no harm in believing that too, for our parents will confirm that we are indeed royal blood in a royal place from royal backgrounds!)

It then becomes a divine right to complain/whine/fret and be all the bratty self that you can be to the regular feature of leaving food in all states eaten/half-eaten/not eaten at the dish-conveyor belts. Unless, there is a serious grievous spiteful reason, no cook (which includes your mother J ) will cook badly enough. Even happy homes have food disasters. The best lovable cook in the world also burns food, adds more salt/spices and ruins recipes. It is a typical syndrome called confusion amidst plenty.

We are strictly harsh to and critical of people who cook for us, an activity if left to us will be of great interest given the amount of time and short-cut methods we apply. We can’t have it both/all ways. You ask for healthy food and also, tasteful and then complain, it is bland and not spicy. Laughter. You eat like there’s no tomorrow and want that calories be measured to keep in check the growing abdominal tyres. More laughter. Some of you have ‘not-well’ tongues, thanks to sickness, smoking and a plain compulsive habit of not liking anything generally. Sorry, this species can’t appreciate food at all. You can’t appreciate/differentiate (for lack of/overload of knowledge or sheer confusion) cuisines and want tadka/spice in your continental and Chinese, sin it is! If we could be a lil’ considerate and not treat people who cook for us as dishwashers. When we have options, have the discretion to exercise them. Volunteer to cook/ suggest recipes. Suggestion is the best weapon of victorious persuasion.

A majority of the crowd who judge is the same breed who on weekends thrives on fast food, parties, Maggi and junk. There is a respectable lot who love to cook, who are forced to cook and who cook for others. Even burnt rice is attacked with confused love, affection and attention with jokes of ‘it will rain on your wedding day!’


“Mumbai Meri Jaan” is the strain of thought reverberating across the length and breadth of the nation. It is not the first time any place has been so badly held siege. History is rife with twin/triple bomb blasts, people dying, limbs missing sometimes entire bodies, families ruined and all that. Recession seems so minor at how the financial capital has been hit on the spine. No place is safe, there is a method in the madness, high-end places to train terminuses nothing was spared. The disturbing picture on the front page of today’s TOI is frightful. Aggressive terror out on the streets, Hemant Karkare fell victim to the bullets of cowards despite warning and there was no forward support as such for the radical officer.

There are chain mails of outburst, sympathy, anger and disillusionment. The youth is so motivated with the Jaagore campaign to vote and be the change. With infrastructure comes the luxury of the will/desire/expression to do something for the nation. They want a system overhaul. You and I know it is not as easy as it seems. Voting is not impacting as much as we are led to believe. You want martial law, you want dictatorship, and you want a system clean-up. All good and noble thoughts but why do things get dormant in peaceful times? Fed on Bollywood and jingoism, we want to exterminate militancy but we have bottlenecks like human rights, international law and the jazz. If it was as simple as cleaning your house, it is cleaning your house. Some people don’t like to clean their house everyday, some do it half-heartedly and some do it maniacally. Trusting our senses and holding each other hostage with fear, being careful and frantic calls and prayers have taken the flavour away from life. Imprisoned in our crabby ecosystems with earning quick bucks or more and wanting to be seen in good light, being stand-offish and indifferent, we are fast turning into a race of pseudos. A renaissance seems to take birth and die only in the mind for that 15secs of fame.

The Dear Departed

A sad Monday it was, days die and also, near and dear ones. Memories come flooding of a good friend who we lost to the waters of the Barapani while washing the clothes of someone he lost 2 days ago. It was a ritual to let go of the past and the departed only for him to become a ritual too for his loved ones.

Another tragic news, someone lost her mother. There is a sense of numbness in me too. Death is so terrifying. For all the karmic talk and the abstract that we indulge in, about the eternity of the soul and the forever-ness that we proclaim for/to people we love is so diminishing. However much I hate to believe that birthdays get you older it scares me as much, one more year closer to the inevitable.

People say it is maya, it is fondness and the used-to feeling that we weep/cry at the loss of a loved one. Don’t know what to say. They say, life goes on, does it? They say, you must move on, should I? You only become a picture on the wall, a page in someone’s diary. Darn, I hate to be melancholic but it is true you are there in someone’s tears when you are remembered when that candle is lit or when flowers are laid.

No smiles.

Children's day

Many years ago, papa wrote something on this day.I will post it very soon. It was supposed to be an entry at a competition in memory of the late statesman.
In my faint recollection, today,Nov 14 in school used to be the neatest uniform with white socks, no books and that duckback,no tiffins,maybe just a water-bottle.
School is in its festoon best, classrooms flowing with streamers and balloons, the best family-family music blaring from the PA system. Teachers are running from one changing room to another. Today is their day to 'make' us happy and make amends. They sang, they danced, they made us laugh and also, cry.
Lots of food greeted us, the grand lunch and the snacks we saved to carry home to mama and papa,I remember Maggi came to school and we were thrilled to get that free RED fork and also, embarrassing moments when out of sheer excitement, Maggi spilled. I tell you, that Maggi tasted so different from what we have today and Maggi was signature then. To get Maggi for lunch in a casserole or even cold Maggi was a status symbol.
The General Proficiency Prize, the Attendance and Neatness awards. It was such a pride to walk up to the dais, to wait for the school photographer to take that click with the headmistress shaking hands, a touch on the head, a peck on the forehead and cheeks and most importantly, your parents and siblings watching and clapping.
The class party, our contribution used to be 5 rupees per head and we used to get chips and frooti, the rest, Miss sponsored. Along with that, we wanted the most good looking sir in school to sing and dance in our party and not go to the boys' party.
We always got goodies from parents that morning and extra pocket money to flaunt that extra bar of dairy milk and hot chips. Sharing and showing off were part of the game and the fun, to be touching Miss when we danced was such a good feeling. When she came and sat with us, we literally went agog with happiness, can't forget that lingering spell of perfume, that gorgeous lipstick and that nice hair and shoes. Our aim in life was to become like her, same to same.

Happy children's day! In two weeks were the annual exams...


Life on either side is not easy.
Some sainted, some pilloried, some crucified
All at the altar of angst and anger.

Killing two birds with one stone is idiomatic,
Killing one is idiotic.
Killing yourself is normal,
Killing loved ones is suicide in the name of tragedy
Or vice versa.
Killing the other is, well, regular.

Tragedy is the remixed comedy.
My fears, someone’s strength,
My tears make someone laugh,
My glee is someone’s sorrow.

The hunter is the new hunted,
The hunted, the rotten carcass
It’s a proletarian chaos,
We die unsung deaths
After eventful lives.


Those nimble feet, those slender arms

With a breathing bundle cosily wrapped in the waist

It does not matter who stretches that begging hand

With a fake grimace on a sweat-soiled face.

The headlights flash, the horns blow impatiently

ID cards tugged flash carelessly

I-pods deafened ears, radio and MP3

Dusty footwear and grazed feet.

The payal does a peek-a-boo

The jasmine bravely looks her freshest until now

Perfumes drowned in the pollution,

One waits for the signal to go green.

The geek in the front seat watches re-runs of some household American sitcom

Sigh! We are so wannabe Americans in thought, action and attitude

Even though, we claim we are desi

And all we do is mind other’s business.

The tramp forgot to beg, the driver forgot to watch the signal

The geek forgot to laugh quietly on ear/head phones

One forgot to mind their business

Humanity forgot to see, they just stare.

The clock struck eight and the signal goes green.

The beggar moves on, the laughs stopped

No life lost, no limb broken

Only limbo crashed, some animation on a thinkpad.


Loo logic

What is your instant feeling when you enter a public loo? Hope it is as clean as the one I have at home (psst…even if yours is actually not Harpic clean).

There are two kinds of loos in most Indian cities- the WC and the Indian squat (‘squat’ is my addition). For the sake of hygiene and minimum body contact, my personal pick is the Indian squat. Yes, for convenience and for all backache and medically special cases, the WC is but the obvious choice. The WC is never complete without a hand sprinkler/shower, a roll of tissues, the osmotic cistern and a dustbin. When you have one ingredient lacking it is well, ahem ahem.

The Indian squat (don’t know how it got the signature adjective- Indian) is the most exploited one. The most rudimentary form consists of a four-walled thatched enclosure at some far corner of a field, compound, pond, etc. The inside is very interesting. There are mostly two flattened metamorphic slabs handpicked from some nearby river flanking a conveniently carved/dug drain made for the purpose. There is usually an outlet to some stream, drain or unused no man’s land. Old discarded RCC pipes or PVC sheets are used to facilitate an undisturbed flow of sewage from the pot to the dumps. Some dig pits which usually take care of the compost for years. The most up-to date form, all of us know.

Public loos are the biggest blessing to the modern consumer. There are times when you have to relieve in some damn place, pretending to close your eyes like the proverbial stag that no one saw. Men have no qualms, they are biologically better blessed for such emergencies. For women, modesty and her clothes are her biggest enemies. Interestingly, I have seen a woman pedlar relieving in broad daylight in full view of the world with aplomb and panache without having to sit/squat, of course she was not wearing a panty! As kids, we hardly bothered where. While out for treks and picnics, it was girls this side and boys that side. Someone always kept guard while the rest ran behind a shrub. We forgot the sky is watching.

The loo logic for most of us is to use the 1st one or the last one for privacy’s sake. Most mall loos have partitions which are 7 inches high from the ground and stop at 3 inches above your head. So, even if you made some noise or worse still, broke air or farted you have that whatever feeling when you vacate for the next person. Studies reveal that the 1st and the last loo in a multiple loo restroom are the most germ carrying agents since they are the most used. The ones in the middle are slightly safer but in case of a toilet jam, no loo is germfree. Most loos have a caretaker who flushes, mops and does the needful. Some do it for free, some for a rupee. I always remember Mulk Raj Anand’s Bakha when I am using a public loo. I am thankful. I do get a lil’ irritated when some uncivilized freaky female for the sake of avoiding contact with the toilet seat climb on the seat and leave her sandal/shoe marks. If she is so finicky, she should carry a newspaper( like men do in the morning ablutions) if the said loo does not provide toilet disposable tissue seat covers. We can be civilised if not flexible.

Pray to your guardian gods and goddesses if your public loo is flooded with water. Some sensible water loving person just relieved on the ground and let the tap run to clear the uric stench. Somebody can slip, somebody clothes could get soiled and somebody can see who is in from the outside, thanks to the watery reflection.

The takeaway is not much. We all love nice, clean loos.

Going dutch

A friend of mine got a film roll and I remember all of us had to shell out 20 rupees each for the positives and the negatives. Our restaurant bills, irrespective of who ate the lion’s share or had a coffee (kidding! we never asked more than the price of the coffee), they were always divided by that many people around. Going dutch always kept the messes of money away and like they say, never mix friendship and money. The “is equal to” is always nasty.

Don’t have that kind of experience but definitely some eye openers to have seen very few joint accounts working in favour of working couples or just one partner working. What is recurrently symptomatic is each refuses to be accountable unless it is a compulsive disorder. You do have some who splurge for the other, most times for the self and sometimes for some people.

My best friend and I keep it simple, we take turns. We don’t feel we are doing each other a favour but definitely, we are doing a favour to ourselves. We have gone dutch only when we are on pathetic shoe-string budgets.

I have another dear friend who does not believe in me paying for anything (even my share!) when we are out on coffee or a snack for the plain reason that it is not chivalrous. It is incidental that he is well-off.

There is another lady who won’t allow me to pay for age’s sake. She is older than I. The only time I could pay for something for her is when she forgot to carry her wallet. Mad that she is, she insisted to return the entire amount.

These habits however quirkily generous and endearing can be taken advantage of if you do not know the value of the person you are doing it for and also, knowing that money does not count actually.

I love these people. Borrowing/lending money or having any monetary deals with such people is never going to be a pain. You have an open heart and trust. When you are all giving, I want to give more and all to that person.

I also have some people who ‘conveniently’ forget that I paid his/her share for some dutch event and well, the association just lingers until the pay-up happens. It is not annoying but a revelation that hey, you better go dutch with this person all the time and please, keep him or her out if the same buck is passed around.

Settling dutch-ments, I hate them.

Not saying, going dutch is the safest option always. It is the best option but it does, it surely can leave a bitter taste in your mouth if it is not your venture.

It is not polite to drag someone for a meal and insist on the person to pay for his/her portion of the meal for dutch’s sake. At least, that is the way I feel. Some just don’t get it even when you offer to pay the entire bill and say it is my treat and the last meal with you. They maybe continentally sophisticated, cosmopolite, very aware and fashionably very avant-garde but all I say is- “get lost!”

Puja, Circa 2008

Puja came and went by. I knew it was there, by the time I realized it was here it was gone. I managed to offer anjali on Asthami at a nearby pandal, old times floated by for a moment of mirage-like happiness. You grow old but it only seemed like yesterday when Papa gave me a hundred rupee note each day of the puja and you could spend it the way you wanted. I blew it up most times, my sister saved hers. I thought I heard Bunty and Guddu calling out my name, let’s go!! I can see Ma talking to other aunties of the colony, complimenting each other- nice saree, nice this and nice that.

It is still the same, only I was not home. Ma was reluctant to tell me how they spent Puja, knowing I will probably cry. My new clothes were at the tailors, did not feel like following up like I used to.

I missed home so much this time, you have no idea. I missed being at home during puja, all the action and just being in tune for those 4 grand days, I missed everything.

My puja was quiet here, deeply engrossed in work and reminiscence, observed my abstinence of onion/garlic/eggs like they do at home, that was the closest association I could bring myself to with home. My homage to the Goddess is not an ounce less if not devoted. The night of Navami, I felt a certain hollow, felt a lil’ wretched, was a lil’ angry at myself for not being able to live Puja the way I love to. Mehndi-wet hands, some trivia shopping with a girlfriend, did I catch dinner at work? I don’t remember, but mobility in an alien city that I now call a working home is still pretty much full of constraint- traffic, a full day at work, a million Murphy’s laws should take care of the rest. I don’t blame anyone, including myself.

When I was going home, at some signal crossing my eyes just welled up. I just felt like crying, neighbouring passers-by and bikers and autos gave me that "is all ok?" look. That lil’ girl who ran across the road with a balloon came by, asked me to buy it since it was Puja. I told her to go, there is no kid at my place (that kid grew up long ago). Here, I was struggling to hold back my tears and here, you want me to buy that balloon. Yes, that bubble burst sometime ago. It is never the same.

Waiting for the next Mahalaya with folded hands.

Puja- old times

The thrill of visiting a Puja pandal is still fresh as ever. I remember the first time when Papa carried me on his shoulders in the jostling streets of a festive Shillong so that I get an aerial view of people, new clothes, food stalls and of course, the Goddess, resplendent in vermillion and bright hues of love, affection, strength and faith.

The rhythmic beat of the dhak, the blow of the conch, the chanting of the Vedic hymns, the frenzy and trance of the arati stay on for days until the next Mahalaya.

There is a plan more meticulous than the seasons in the sun when to buy clothes, how many, when to visit the tailors, a pilgrimage to the beauty parlour for that 10-day look, your shoes, accessories and all that dhoom-dhaam!

Stack your books and studies away for a few days, put your best feet forward, nicely painted toes, pedicured and nicely manicured hands to tuck that frequent/occasional cascade of hair across your face, thanks to a hair disaster that has turned fashionably signature. Oh, Puja is like that. You start with last year’s dress, the less fortunate ones don’t have a start.

Saptami was always quiet, you had to pinch yourself to believe that Puja has arrived. Asthami is the day-fun, fashion, food, frolic and all the jazz. By Navami, you should have seen all the pandals and eaten your fill, flirted you way and earned yourself a couple of blisters, thanks to new shoes that bite, lot of travelling, sore feet, dancing and whatever. Dashami always brought tears, the Goddess leaves and the poignance of the dhak beaters at your doorstep for that extra buck which they wait for the whole year, the colorful vermillion holi that married women indulge in and the excitement of the young, the old, the womenfolk and the middle-aged to dance their way until the river ghat to say a sad farewell. You should see the soiled clothes, the ruffled hair and the red foreheads. All look forward to the shantijal, the prasad bitaran and the sacred thread. I hate when parents howl-get back to the sansar, homework, assignments, revision, selection tests, library work, blah blah.

The morning ablutions were always elaborate and fun, from scrubbing yourself squeaky clean to a nice luxurious bath (with no one banging the bathroom door like the school bell will go off any moment), slide into new clothes, blow half a can of parfum deo spray and steal a lil’ make up here and there to show you have come of ‘make-up’ big girl age.

I always got the heebie-jeebies whenever I had to go to the pandal to sit and offer anjali and wait for the bhog. First, however much an attention seeker I am, I do get squirmish at constant stares, you don’t know why they stare- either you look funny or good(less likely in/with the pancake) or whatever. A small pouch of coins for dakhina and chewing gum, chana badam and the ilk with a sweaty hanky thanks to cleaning lipstick bleeds and kajal smudges, my dim retrospect of those bygone days make me smile like Chaucer. Nobody cooks lunch, there is no breakfast save for bread, biscuit and chai- our desi version of an English breakfast. The bhog is your lunch, piping hot khichuri served with loads of vegetables, brinjal fries, kheer, sweets and I could go on and on.

Pandal hopping was so much fun. You go in hordes. The younger guys and also, the older boys were our permanent ATMs doubled up as bodyguards and willingly enough. How they loved to foot the egg roll bill as long as the girls took care of the grand lunch, no no… we always went dutch. Some affairs happen and fizzle out like colas.

That was until a couple of years ago.


I am going home. The last time I saw home was last Christmas. I remember being ecstatically enthusiastic and excited because I had so much to carry, both in stories and gifts. Dad was not particularly impressed with the lavish arrival. I don’t observe the festival but it is another thing to be in the city around that time. I love the Yuletide fever in Shillong. The wintry chill can numb your nose and there is a sense of being anchored in madness and total frenzy.

Dad thinks one should come home only when there is a need. What need? I have not figured it out until date but yes, he was only trying to be helpful by asking me to cut down on my expenses. I tried to make up for all the right times that I should have been home and I was not- when he retired, when mom was hopsitalised for a minor surgery, when he was looking for a second haven, when he just wanted to talk to me, when…

This time, I go back with a sense of achievement and ‘need’ to go home. They want to see me, they want me to see the house, and they want me to visit my place long before I become a domestic stranger and outsider. They want me to cling to my roots, they want me to cultivate my sense of rootedness and like Norah Jones sings,

“Come away with me…”

They want me to stop lingering in the mad, mad world and come back home, probably to groom myself for the next degree in life that I choose to ignore but is imminent. They know that I am doing good for myself, a lil’ indulgent they are with the nagging phone calls but I accept that as a form of affection for a girl away from the hearth and pampering comfort of home.

But this time, I see the excitement more in my family, they are dying to see me. I don’t know if I half feel the same. Am I going home because everyone else does? Am I merely fulfilling the ‘need’ to be seen and met? Don’t know much this time around. I will definitely miss Aroma without whom Shillong is never going to be the same. I want to see my garden, I want to see my brother, how tall has he grown? I want to see my sister, is she still unreasonable? I love her whatever. I want to meet dad, post retirement- hug that frail but steely frame which weathered every storm in his life like a lion, my inspiration. I want to see mom- my ever adorable friend who forgot along the way, that she is 52 and not 15. She still complains and rants, gets emotional when I don’t tell her ‘stories’ over phone. I want to visit all the familiar places and live and breathe the air again, and charge my warm memories that I have of the place.

I am coming home.


House hunting- concluded

Leaving an old place is never so easy. 9 months of eternal effort to settle down never bore real fruit. You still live out of half-baked niceness and forced pretences. People come and people go. Doors are opened matter-of fact and bolted to make sure no alien comes. Have a maid to feel a semblance of family around - her kids are adorable. They call me “Akka”, sometimes their friends call me “Aunty”. Weekdays are weekdays- some forced dinners and get-togethers, some usual polite conversation, some whatever. Insecurities grip you- the fact that we are too familiar about things around us. But the day the last item in the house was packed, yes, I did feel a twang. That familiar parrot chatter, those kids flying kites, those little girls playing hopscotch, the junior artistes’ van which smells of good food, the local rythu which smells of rotten tomatoes and slush on busy days and a deserted curfew struck lane on normal days- I won’t see them again. The warm marble floors, the huge expanse in the kitchen which bathes in sunlight in the morning- the eye-catching woodwork and everything familiar- let go. Said goodbye and left, the lane disappeared pretty soon and the lingering thought derails me until now when the cab supervisor mistakenly assigns me a cab for that house.

The new house, quiet and graceful with age smiles at me. The old windows and the heavy doors remind me of familiar bearings. I feel anchored even though I did not know what next. I have a brand new room mate, lot of gentle pets around, an indulgingly cosy balcony and nice tiles. Vaastu-wise the house is perfect. In weeks, the house reverberated with life and verve, Shalini, Kaku, Kakima and Doyel became family. When the kitchen is inaugurated for a sumptuous lunch, the house actually comes to life. Life resumed with beautiful serendipitous events.

Come by for lunch or a cuppa tea on a holiday, surely, you won’t be disappointed.


my birthdays

I am not the regular cakes and candles girl, no balloons and no confetti. In fact, my 1st public birthday in school was at the age of 4, in the month of March! I saw birthday girls and boys getting a lot of attention and me, the show-stopper being ‘sidelined’ and ‘ignored’ totally! The solution is to throw a birthday party. My dad had little idea of the days to come. He ordered lollipops for 60 odd people and packed my Duckback bag with them and I felt like Alexander! Oh my god, I love birthdays, everyone is my best friend. The boys would try to be nice to get an extra lollipop and the girls would smirk, wishing it was their birthday. Oh, it used to be so hilarious. Then again in the middle of the year I would want to have another birthday. Dad obliged, this time with moti churr ki ladoos. God knows, what he told the teachers I never celebrated my birthday on my birthday that year! Probably my parents did but I was not aware, I don’t remember any of my friends coming home or did I forget to insist. After that, all I remember about birthdays were temple visits and feeding the poor and remembering the departed to seek their blessings. I used to hate giving away to unknown people. Dad explained that my less fortunate brothers and sisters do not know what a birthday party is, that’s why you are the privileged one to share with them. “Hmff” was all I had. Now it makes sense.

College saw me with treats and all, Chinese or continental. Then, the Archies gifts and all, trinkets and stuff. Within 300 bucks I would treat an army. Univ was dedicated and special. My birthday came in the summer break and the phone calls were never ending. Wishes and blessings were more important. Cakes and more were no longer novelty.

As a teacher, my birthdays were even more fun. I loved the cards and the flowers and the enthusiastic singing and –“ma’am, where’s the treat?” It is a different birthday experience when your students (for whom you are surrogate mother/sister/friend) see you doing the normal things like everyday and still feeling like a diva! My boss threw a surprise lunch for the entire faculty at work, which was a pleasant surprise!

I miss my best friends and family. Last year, my birthday was spent admiring Salar Jung Museum, boy! That was an educative lesson!

This year, I was a lil’ unabashed and boisterous. I announced to everyone it was my birthday tomorrow and bla bla… People were offended, pretended to ignore but who cares? I made my point. I love my friends at work. I waited for my birthday- from 28th to 29th watching some forgettable movie on TV and my roomie trying hard to keep awake. My brother and comrade-in-arm, Gowtham lands at my place. Ahan, I can smell something. My cake was set up 15mins before 12. I was all –“Aww!” Man, I took 15 mins to blow those candles off! Shalini and GTM had great fun laughing their lungs out

And I was struggling with my lungs. Yes, I was OLD, they certified and sealed it. The cake smashing was not all that welcome. I was more worried about the uninvited ants. But it was the best birthday in years, away from home and familiar surroundings. Felt like a kid!

This morning when I got ready, I remembered Kristina’s dedication of Britney Spears’ “I’m not a girl, not yet a woman.” She always sang that whenever I attempted wearing a saree. And yes, I wore a saree to work. It was a great day, affection poured from every corner of the world from midnight. It is just another day in the calendar but I will always feel special. Thank you.

A rainy weekend

Hyderabad witnessed its first proper summer showers and yes, it was heaven-sent. Bonnalu brought good luck to the farmers and some respite to the electricity board. What happens with the onset of rains is an oft repeated tale. As much as I enjoy walking in the rain and picking up all the dirt and muddy rain water close on the heels I dislike it for all mundane reasons. Your clothes smell of whatever, everything has that musty damp feeling. Your hair is forever tangled and you can’t seem have enough of going to the loo. Water intake is low and tea, if someone is going to make it for you then it is most welcome. Make sure the kitchen bin is nicely covered, lest the neighbour’s cat decides to explore and play around. My flower pots were happy. My doormat was not tho’ and my flatmate’s turtles enjoyed the trickle on their tub. They frolicked and danced all over the water. The autowallah always has a reason to ask for more fare, why? It is raining. God, what happens if it is sunny? The roads are clean, no creature except for the odd stray tramp looking for some cover. The leaves of all the grand trees and also, the smaller ones make beautiful pitter-patter sound on the window-pane and also on the road, the earth smells fresh and nice and also, if the municipality forgot to seal the septic tank then that also smells. The bhutta guy has a scant umbrella to save his fire and business. That is the best rain snack. The vehicles on the road think the road belongs to their ancestry. They have scant heed towards that lone ranger walking home. They don’t mind splashing some mud, some water, some sewage and some gags. The choicest of expletives get drowned in the din of the pitter-patter. Ice-cream never tastes so gorgeous on a rainy day. Getting wet until your waist despite the fabulous umbrella you carry is no longer a distress, it is a style statement.


A ride on the rickety auto thru’ potholes and puddles
From over bridges and hoardings,
Women smile in namaskar and gold, selling sarees
The pigeons and crows do their business
Reminding me that we (read I) should also, do my karma

The little sacks of burden and the wobbly walk to school
The hot tiffins and the neon bright water bottles,
The neatly oiled hair infested with lice,
The kohl rimmed eyes and the flower adorned plait,
Such is one slice of life that I saw.

Either you or me,
Says the driver and the chap crossing the road
The resentful man shouts, “Phat!”
With a matchstick for a toothpick,
The auto driver rubbishes him off like dirt!

The buses honk, the cars cram.
The bikes jerk and the scooters hoot.
The kids wail and the mothers yap,
The fathers are grumpy and the servants crib,
The air smells foul and the jasmine makes it worse.

Over-ripe tomato carts and pushy vendors
Fish and fowl, live harmoniously with fruits and nuts
The lemons and the melons smile in their seasonal importance
Like the mangoes who suffer from a major superiority complex
Food is in plenty, you just need to know what to eat and when.

Enter the maze-
People speak in a weird jargon,
Trying to outwit each other,
Waiting for their moment,
You are either in or out.

Famished thoughts and fanned hunger,
Fans on in an AC room,
Papers rattle as much as the packets-
Mobiles ring, hostile looks
“How was it? “ “It’s ok, they smiled and laughed…”

Saturation point, patience running out
Two parathas and canteen chatter
Dog staring at you and hoping,
Like you hoping in a Micawberesque manner
That something good will happen.

End of the day, nothing happens
All sound and fury end in a whimper.
You don’t even get your five minutes of fame.
Came, showed and shoved, we are running out of time,
Another way of shielding inefficiency.

The long way home, home seemed so far.
You just long for that Momma special warm hot beverage,
You just want to hit the sack, you just want to bury your head somewhere
You just don’t want to answer any questions, calls or whatever.
Animated voices in the car, I drizzle off…

the call of the wild

Wake up to the alarm on my cell phone…there was no water in the bathroom. Bugged the owner, ablutions and the city cab waiting, I was on my way to Mysore at 4:30am in the morning. The bus- stop was brimming with people at this hour of the day/night/dawn. Mysore was 2hours and sleep. At the bus stop, I remember the stares and the wares. The one and only bus to BR hills was waiting and this is no Volvo, so that means less comfort, no AC, no music and a bigger crowd. I loved my seat by the window. The many stops on the way saw me waving at the children who were mighty tickled to see a girl on a back pack. You smile, they smile. They wave, you wave back. Behave like a proper traveler since you cannot pretend to be one of them. It’s refreshing to see all the green corn fields, the palm trees, the cattle, the dusty roads, the stagnant ponds and the hyper magpies. Enquiries in broken, half-baked English with the conductor were not humorous but interesting. I was quite impressed with his communication skills, he managed to convey all that was asked of him. We stopped briefly at the Sanctuary gate. There is a small temple, the conductor opened the temple door and a waif in the bus got down and cleaned the porch of the temple. There was something primitive about the whole ritual. As the bus meandered into the pristine wilderness of the thick woods, one cannot miss the innumerable ant mounds/hills. I got a very creepy feeling. It turns out they are not anthills but they are termite mounds. Anyway, they are still creepy. I happened to watch the latest Indiana Jones and the movie had some unpleasant ant scenes.

Never mind, the green wounding climb up the hill is simply breathtaking. The valley below, wrapped and tousled in mist is worth a sight. At the lodge, we got down… I spotted two tamed elephants grazing near the pond and a lot of elephant poop scattered here and there in the slope. I was dying to rest my achy-stiff back. Got a log-house perched on a beautiful gliding slope overlooking some tent-houses and lot of wild grass around and all over. A quick shower and lunch followed by some simian visitors who were amused to see us relaxing on the hammock. A short nap killed time before the safari. The ultimate would be to spot the gentleman of the jungle but too many deer, stag and gaud killed all semblance of hope. We were greeted rather nastily by a family of elephants to stay away. Basic instinct is similar in nearly all forms of life.

We retired for the night after a simple meal and a campfire of sorts. Power was available for only 3 hours, the remainder of the night in the mercy of the hurricane lamp/lantern. On my walk back to the lodge, I thought I saw two hind feet of some smelly grunting creature dart past the slope of the hill. We slowly moved the torch up to follow and there he was- the wild hog come for his post dinner stroll.

The next morning we were greeted by the chatter of monkeys in the porch making merry of my morning tea and snacks. Bugged Narayan, the in-charge/manager to take us for a small trek, armed with a pair of binoculars after a filling breakfast, we take to the road less travelled. Narayan is a tall, not dark but handsome Coorgi dude in camouflage, has light eyes, quite attractive for the natural surroundings. He is a naturalist and wants to move away from the mundane thing that he was doing. He made us trek for a couple of hours, explained a lot of minute things. Small talk and exchange of phone numbers, what I will remember most about him is his cool in the eye of elephant panic when some fore wheel of his safari jeep got jammed somewhere and his good luck, he had a jeepful of weepies- old, young and infants.

By afternoon, we were at the gate, waiting for that one bus which will take us to civilization. Lot of good memories and quiet times, the winding road to Mysore and back to Hyderabad, many small things happened- like asking our Mysore bound bus to drive like a F1 champ and then having lunch at 5 in the evening and watching overly watched movies and dinner at some noisy joint where people forgot to look at their plate and kept staring at a female with slightly tanned lithe arms. I don’t remember sleeping, my major worry was not to consume “excess” water lest the bus deserted me in times of dire call!

House hunting- part one

When you are no longer in transit you have to look for personal space.

The house I immediately moved in from the hostel did not last me a month…all the heavens conspired to keep me away from it- some mishap in the form of inadvertent human error in judgement, the away from the maddening crowd kinda funda, MMTs did not look attractive anymore. When enthusiasm is smothered you just lose interest in the things around you. Maybe I was in a hurry or people are slow to decision. In the process, I lost faith and gained some back. Stayed out of a duffel bag, especially with the sensitized Hyderabad blasts and lived like a gypsy despite having a house. I no longer felt like going home to that house, not the house’s fault. Kinda felt weird having to stay with unknowns who never featured in my scheme of things earlier. The house was good, the rent was better, the owner is human and the surroundings nice. A couple of things ticked me off. Those who disappointed have their reasons, you can never question why. To each her own. I had to move away. A friend came. We made the house home for her last couple of weeks in the city. She loved the house as much as I did.

The housing secretary of the apartment made it worse. Probably, he has not seen anyone with fair skin below the knees or calves. This grumpy chap could not convince anyone to occupy his vacant house on rent. So, he picked and picked on me. He gave me a 2 minuteful of dos and don’ts and that it is a family apartment. No hanky panky and whatever he thought of me! I reported the matter to the Professor who took strong exception at the breach of conduct and what happened after that, I don’t know. That is it, I have to move out. I had not unpacked. The kitchen stuff was there…untouched. The bathroom was the only high-activity area. It is summer and whatever. I also spotted a BIG bee hive in the other bathroom. Helped my friend pack her stuff, she was leaving for Delhi. I was lucky to find replacements for the house. Professor was sad, his wife sadder. I am sad too.I missed a trip with my friends in my quest for a house.

Then, another friend called me. We all are so need driven. She needed a room-mate. plus another two.I needed a house, acquaintance only helps. We were anchored.

Jubilee Hills, yay! Housewarming as such we never had, all four of us were so busy, so busy we forgot to talk to one another or if we existed. This house lasted us for 9 months. Three sets of parents came, saw and liked the house. Little did we know that we would give up on this for all sorts of reason. But this house is special.

Small talk

Living in a paying guest/ working women’s hostel is not a great option for me. Switch off the lights before so and so, dinner won’t be served after this, the maid/boy/man won’t come to sweep/swab your room everyday. You can’t complain about a single thing because this is the least of the best they can commit with. You fight for the bathroom every morning. Hygiene standards are different from person to person. I hate to step into a bathroom just relieved by someone. If I am cribbing so much, the obvious reactions I would have got by now is why the hell I don’t get married or better still, I should not be a cry baby and a million etc etc solutions. What do you do when your stay at a place is that in-transit feeling? No tenancy rules will come to my rescue and allow me to occupy an independent accommodation. So, the hostel.

1. I used to hate it when my hostel owner would just insist on barging into your room and showing it to prospective hostelites who are new to the cityt any time of the day. We are deaf in the night.

2. I used to hate it when on Saturdays I go down at 10 am and the breakfast is over. I can’t even enjoy my weekend sleep.So, Sunday I am most punctual.

3. I used to hate it when my afternoon lunch has to be between 12 and 2, what if I am not hungry then? What if I want to eat at 3?

4. I used to hate it when the maid uses Surf excel (which is some cheap detergent and not Surf necessarily) to clean the bathroom tiles and the commode.

5. I used to hate it when she used the broom for both the commode and the bathroom floor, yuck!

6. I used to hate it when she insisted she will sweep/swab the room after the bathroom chore.

7. I used to hate it when the gate used to be locked by 10 pm and you cannot enjoy a proper movie or meal, forget shopping.

8. I used to hate it when every morning you came down the stairs, you have 15 pairs of eyes digging into your countenance and attire.

9. I used to hate it when I have to fight for a space at the common dining table.

10. I really used to hate it when people around you spoke in a Martian language and despite your "Excuse me, can you pass the salt/pickle?" they still look at you like you didn't existed.

Men and cooking

Men and cooking, recipe for disaster is what comes to mind? Eh, no cooking a storm? Maybe and definitely ‘yes’, ‘nooooo’ and ‘sometimes…well…’ is what is evoked. At the most Maggi? Or with some struggle omelette? Or go get some roadside junk for peanuts?

I don’t remember Papa cooking frequently, not that his culinary skills were challenged. He made all the forbidden ‘meaty’ dishes for all rebel Adams and Eves in the cowshed. His dal preparation is by far the best dal in the world, simple, low on spice and high in taste. We would literally slurp-gulp it down like some fast food Chinese soup. He thinks spice kills all great food preparations, Mama begs to differ, albeit diplomatically. Ahem, ahem is what she says and declines to comment when Papa would go head over heels praising something that Mama whisks in a jiffy or otherwise.

Bro has his fetish at what level the wok should be when his omelette is made and that it has to be a certain cream color without the masala except salt and pepper, no chillis and onions or the Spanish kinds. He can barely make a cup of tea without saying loud hi/hellos to the utensil rack and also, knocking a few potatoes here and there. It’s like scaling Mount Vesuvius in its active state of volcanic activity. Whew!

A bunch of us in the university used to trek by bunking Friday afternoons. The majority being boys, they insisted we carry a lot of food. They would get a can of mackerel, some packets of bread and Amul butter, steal salt and pepper, and a spoon from the canteen, pluck cucumbers along the way from the orchard and one among us essentially did not fail to carry that day’s newspaper and a knife for cutting betel-nut. Boy, they prepared the best sandwiches.

A very dear friend of mine made sure all the pistas in the kheer…er…was it gajar ka halwa…should be aligned in a particular way for aesthetic appeal. I almost killed myself.

Most hotels, high and low end restaurants have men as cooks. If there is a Nigella Lawson, we also have a Sanjeev Kapoor who I adore so much. I am sincerely envious of his wife. She must be getting the best cooked food in the world, 24/7, 365 days…served with lot of love, care and whatever. Even the roadside dhabas, the fast food joints and my Papa’s office halwai are good- my god, I love every new preparation Rajkumar makes!

Why is that, men make good cooks outside the kitchen-at-home? Or is it there too? Even the cooks at office are, incidentally men. I liked being served my double cheese masala omelette with all specifications by M and M only.

Men romanticize that the best thing they can start a Saturday morning, even grudgingly by cutting down on their sleep is surprising their sweetheart with breakfast. Gosh, I am going weak in the knees! I love this species! Rules are being re-written, yes. The lady sleeps, the gentleman in shorts or dungarees runs down the street to see if all the ingredients in the battleground are ready and he should be well armed and armoured. Some have a fetish the pan has to be like this, some toss up magic with elan, some love the toast to be arranged like this or better still, anyway. Will she like it with honey? Or sauce? Oh, but I don’t have sauce. They get jittery when it comes to preparing omelettes lest they are passed a value-judgement. What becomes of the kitchen after that is a nightmare, that’s for the maid to clean. I love that funda of a clean desk being the sign of a messy drawer kinda thing. It’s simply amusing, hilarious and ADORABLE.

It’s rare to find a guy who can cook for himself and also, for another and others. Run a survey and you will find, they are the most popular among all, no prizes for guessing especially among girls for picnics and those quiet but noisy and populated dos at homes. Some make it difficult for you by intimidating you to competition. Some teach you that even a novice in South Indian fare can make her first dosa with oomph! But whatever it is, they learn the art from their moms even though they protest learning cooking is the foil of surviving the agonies of bachelorhood.

But the Eves love it, we really love the cook in our men. Talk of uber-equality, haha!

Even if he is doubly old as Amitabh Bachchan in Cheeni Kum. Sexy is the word.

Not jibberish definitely

What I do matters to none is what I grew up/on with, enough of social work drama,phew! The birds do not have time, my cat is fabulously lazy and I am not any lesser. Just that, you get panic attacks that time is probably running out and your moment of reckoning might just fade away. Anyway, when it comes to all these, I guess we should stop being the phoneys that we all are. Being all preachy and condescending and not doing your bit is no longer a crime, it is fashionable. Being the cynic was always a nasty job, the prospects have not got any better. Yes, but being a radical cynic helps, in my case.

I don’t know if things will change ever by/with my cribbing/sermonising.

How indifferent can you get? Suppose, there is a competition, then who wins??

Enough of mental games, strategies and ammunition. But nothing happens, the fire in the belly embers out.

In the land of the consumed, it’s an uphill task to comment, criticize and idealize. All adages fade strongly and inspire feebly. Resources are scarce and lil’ to spare. Time has always been an expensive customer.

Small matters matter big. Will that mole grow bigger? That’s what the girl is thinking in the midst of her revision. The boy is counting millions in his piggy bank. The father has retired at 35, the mother resigned at 25.

If looks could kill, plastic surgery should be cheap and subsidized by now.

If gossip is hot, Page3 should be scrapped.

If you are cocky, you won’t require graffiti and cartoons.

Just doing your thing in the bounds of civic sense seems the ideal situation but it is very difficult for people to tread the middle path. Most love to live life in select doses, nobody lives it king-size or queen-size however much he or she proclaims – “I am different”. Definitely, everyone is different, biologically and genetically proven.

Letting go

Far, far away, there...across
you sit and smile
as though you are the Buddha incarnate
your eyes speak more than your chosen silence.
volumes that no paper can hold
miles that no pen can fathom
such is the dilemma
of the awed other
should one savor the moment
or preserve it for posterity?

pleaded, fought and lost,
now, content.

Death of an eternal Romantic- part 3

ah, what a crescendo of disappointment!
i never knew you never had it in you.
why did you let me hope so much?
and yet, dismiss the thought with heartless finesse?

but this, i knew not you always had
to rudely surprise and go your way
and leave the other pondering again,
what was my fault in the mutual game?

Death of an Eternal Romantic- part 2

across the smoky patch up there
a terrible mix-up has taken place,
of half baked dreams and repressed fears.
the path untrodden always looked so wild
and those taken never so kind.
with so much to lose and nearly all at stake
with no mask to aid a false bravado.
life is too short for dangerous liaisons
and the moment too hasty for betrayals.
that leaves no room for even, explanations.
ah, this, too will pass on...

Death of an eternal Romantic- Part 1

I’ve forgotten quite,

What it is to linger awhile.

After trying times and untold miseries,

I’ve forgotten, really

What it is to simply be.

My body has lost the beat of terror,

My muscles refuse to acknowledge pain,

My eyes betray what feeling is.

My senses defy spontaneity,

My heart is incapable of throbbing,

My feet can’t find and feel the frost of time.

My hands can’t reach out to touch,

My fingers can’t play what they loved to,

My memory fails me…


As blinds are drawn
another sad day embers out
amidst anticipation,
waiting for something to happen.
The morsels are fed to keep hunger at bay
not to satisfy some external desire
but to engage the aching agony.
Books are open
and letters are disappearing,
how much can be absorbed
and how much retained?
The picture flashes...
to dissolve the paranoia,
and clear the fuddle.
The mind relaxes
but to welcome another pain.

Rajahmundhry- day 1

The excitement all peaking at the right moment, tickets booked and bags packed, I had a sumptuous Bengali dinner at Somu da’s, Kakima and Kaku were delighted with another foodie addition, a few packets of fast food noodles and water/plates we look for our AC boogie. Found, settled, yapped late into the night, and was warned by the adjoining co-passengers that there are people who “sleep” at night. We could not play bluff, landed at Rajahmundhry, GTM and aunty, thrilled to see we made it in good time, the town looked beautiful in the morning- the fruits, the flowers, the aroma of freshly made rose milk ,jasmine and incense wafted in the cool summer morning. The hotel faced the mighty expanse of the Godavari and I loved the view from my room, rather our room- Titiksha’s and mine. MTV and Channel V or Zoom, let the music play… we snoozed for a good 90 mins in turns.

Sight-seeing was the agenda- ISKCON, the dam/barrage/a few rose gardens, Rahajmundhry in general and lunch at the Mandapam. We wanted to have breakfast, the way it is had, at tiffin centres, jostling and fighting for space and boy, we had fun!

The ISKCON premises burnt my soles, the marble tiles roasted and burnt. The time spent there was soothing; Krishna, Subhadra and Balram are the darling deities of all Vaishnavites. I checked the tuck shop for trivia, nothing much to carry home except the peace and the lore. The drive to the barrage was scorching, humidity took us unawares, rather we were warned but not prepared as much, wear sunscreen, drink lots of water, carry umbrellas, and we did not any! By this time, Krishna had this crazy idea that we should watch the Pawan Kalyan starrer JALSA in Rajahmundhry, it would be memorable and all that, never mind, it never materialised. But I heard JALSA songs to last a lifetime, the driver was very sweet to play Bollywood songs. Going to the barrage was a mistake in hindsight that killed our enthusiasm for the remaining, the heat sapped every bit of energy and stamina and we headed hotelwards. Had Andhra lunch, lot of prawns! Could not make it to the 3pm ritual, GTM was considerate. All of us took the much wanted afternoon nap and recovered somewhat in the mercy of the room ACs. I was a tad tanned. Mallik was the worst hit.

The sky was gloomily patched and overcast, oh no! But picture time and rose milk time, Mallik and I headed off for the river bank and were caught in an unexpected shower. I tell you the boatman never looked so good gliding and the pitter patter was so refreshing. Circled half the town but we were not lucky with rose milk…but the town never looked so beautiful bathed in the summer showers, all shops closing and relieved faces waiting for electricity to light up their homes. Had chai at the hotel café and got ready for the evening, the wedding!

Witnessing an Andhra wedding for the 1st time, there was no holy fire, no saat pheras but a very beautiful transition from being a son/daughter to a lifelong union/vow by two beautiful people, I also saw the shenai being played by a woman! The veil between the bride and the groom, the chants, the vows, that sacred moment, the excitement of all the young people, the blessings by the elders of the community,that tender look on the bride’s father’s visage- the last one is the winner.

I loved the venue, the food, the décor, the music. I was telling GTM, I like the orchids and the anthuriums so I should stay back and wait to take them. Then, it was bluff until midnight with club football on the tube, but yes, the rain brought the heat and humidity to a bearable temperature.

The Ringing Bell

Slow but steady the ringing bell,
Finishes the task, completes the day.
Goes away the years,never to return,
Consumes the life the constant bell.

Rises the sun,sets in the west,
Moon and the stars obey the rule.
Let us be sure to win the race,
Care the bell and cover the life.

Worship and prayers at the temple,
Starts the school and breaks with it.
But the mother cries with the bell,
For it snatched her lovely child.

A motor ran and crashed the hope,
At the stage of beautiful eight
The enigmatic music of the bell,
Ringing to tell the sorrowful tale.

27 dresses and more...

It’s been sometime I watched a proper (bubblegum, popcorn, mineral water) light romantic comedy.

27 dresses is delightful, it is refreshing. It is also a tried and tested formula which will never go wrong, slightly Cinderella-like. Katherine Heigl who plays Jane is an amazing actress, quite turning out to be a winsome response with all her natural bonhomie with down to earth features and acting prowess. In Knocked Up, she had played this never going wrong career woman whose one night stand in a drunken moment goes horribly awry and her coming to rude terms with a less than average father, partner and whatever.

27 dresses is about unspoken truths. The moot point raised by the ‘cynical’ Kevin that the wedding industry flourishes in health and happiness is so obnoxiously true. My dad always told me hanging and marriage go by heaven. Why do we plan and rehearse so much for that Kodak moment? I wish I had an answer. All brides want to look their best and the fanfare is just justified.

The movie made me laugh at human foibles and the helplessness that comes with the package. A girl who dies for friends and is willing to spend $300 a night to shuttle between two places, has held/helped her over drunk friend in the commode so that things are fine to the point of wearing the bridal dress to see if it fits well. She has lived and died the life of a bride so many times before the 28th one.

Call it love or infatuation, she just goes all starry eyed at the drop and mention of her boss’s name(George), deservedly gets slapped by her best friend and hurt by her younger sister. You still love her even when you know she should not be picking up the laundry and selecting which tie to wear. I felt so vindicated when she quits after her boss says he loves her because she never says no. What the hell! The naah kiss with the boss is just an exaggeration.

Facing the truth never came easy. Kevin (James Marsden) played a resident scribe cum dashboard, breaking bubbles and busting misconceptions. The plot being predictable had nothing new to offer but old things in a new package is always a consumerist phenomenon.I just love the way she shrieks, “we are gonna die, we are gonna die” when she gets the car badly trapped and skidding in the rain and, also like her instinctive “don’t say anything”. Kevin is silenced anyway.

Your younger sister (Tess) can never be eternally punished even if she is a super bitch who does anything to get your dream man, why? Because all she wanted was to become like you, aww! That was supposed to make you feel bad and sad about being nasty to her to teach her a lesson. Patch-up!

All’s well that ends well. All hopeless eternal romantics go home re-affirmed that someday, you will land the best alternative who is someone you were not looking for or never imagined to go home with but well, you happened to meet and well, well who likes to look at you the way you always want to be looked at.

The best line is the response to the question- “don’t you have needs?” and dear Jane quips matter-of-fact, “no, I am Jesus.”


From BC to AD

Last week was 10,000 B.C. and I was really in for a magnanimous disappointment.The movie failed in aesthetic terms, all scum and total humbug I felt so duh!!

You would not believe but GTM got tickets for this in dubbed Hindi/subtitled(?),no clue but we were a bunch who so wanted to watch the super duper mind blowing effects.

There were a lot of mud packs (wonder they were made of sandalwood or clay). Krishna’s useful tidbits on face packs and facials were really informative. The woolly mammoths look so sweet and the Egyptian civilization twist is a real twister. Anyway, forgettable remembrance it is. Rohan, the gentle giant warned me about it but heed is something I don’t care a hoot. Coincidentally, the movie has loose adaptations from the Hindu epic Ramayana like the kidnap drama; the pack of tribal foot soldiers reminds us of Sugriva’s Vaanar sena. The protagonist is the son of a self-exiled tribal leader, reminds one of Ram and Laxman,yeah? The odds in both parallel cases are kinda similar but the weights do shift.

Tribal instincts are so similar all across the world. Bollywood sentiments also did not fail to penetrate. The heroine falls prey to a devastating poisoned arrow shot by her jealous captor who proclaims like one of those jilted second fiddles that, “if she is not mine, she cannot be yours too!” Old mother sacrifices her life and pawns her soul for the dying soul. Happies ending! I felt so triumphant, I clapped in sheer joy, no tears flowed but Somu da was a tad amused and asked me not to embarrass him. Anyway.

Lift Dynamics

Lift dynamics was the conversation at breakfast some weeks ago. What natural laws determine how people stand and how people come in, make way/space to accommodate movement is interesting.

I find the Vodafone ad amusing where a young jobless man gets an SMS alert that he would meet his intended in/on the lift. He did, at the fag end of the day.

You have an array of lifts/elevators at your press and call. You step into one and realise it is going up and not down, uhuh. Then you want to go up and no lifts come, eh!

First, it is a very democratic place. All are welcome and no one is discriminated. Come one, come all, but the minimum number of people should be 12-20 and the total combined weight should be below a certain gravitational acceptance.

Preferentially, I am not for lifts. I have some weird experiences with lifts- either they go spiralling like some horror/thriller and it refuses to stop at the floor I wish to stop. I like running up the stairs and beat the lift at its job. I have done that many times in the past. I would continue doing so until we shifted to a floor above the ground. Now the picture is different, I love my stroll from the ground floor to the desk and vice versa.

Picture this, some 10-11 heads or 2-3 heads all in a motionless reverie-staring at blank spaces waiting for that number to pop up at their desired floor. Ding!!

The haste and hurry to procure feet space and some breathing albeit the sonorous heartbeat is fleeting but you are more than relieved to be out of the lift with the steel walls around you and a panel which acts as your guide and key to your way out. Some people enjoy the scents and sights. Often women seem to enjoy the strong cologne that wafts through the lift-y atmosphere. In a way, it is uplifting and invigorates the senses. I am not sure if I should mention about men enjoying the same. Sometimes you are in for hard luck when you have to bear BO and bad hair days.

Watching shoes, sandals and clean feet is another fetish. Pedicured or not, smelly types or not, short clipped toe nails or not and you can figure out the rest.

Who is carrying which bestseller? Some open their mouths and confirm any remote doubt that they are dumb. Acting intelligent is taxing and being one is misleading.

Which phone is ringing with the saddest ring tone? Ah, trust the fetish for movie OSTs and all that jazz.

Some friendships happen and some ah-I-wish kinds also happen.

Crazy place, some smile… some don’t. It’s a lil’ better than a crowded bus.

It’s a good place to practise meditation, standing, no talking and only breathing, probably pranayam!!



29th is a very special day, you have one or two days of broke-ness. I was born on the 29th many summers ago. My birthday treat is always on the 1st of the next month since I am always broke.

February this year is special because it has 29 days. God knows, how many eyes blinked their way to a new life? How many closed theirs forever? How many lost their near and dear ones, how many were given the marching orders?

29th is special for me this year- Dad retired from service. Those brown eyes, wonder how he must have felt to wear his office suit for the last time in his work life. Those firm rugged hands, did they tremble when he wore his socks and moccasins for that day? As much as he woke up to a weird feeling of never having to go to work again from the next morn, I was also feeling horrible to attend the team dinner that evening. I can never understand the feeling of retirement, maybe the work culture prepares you as such to get fired/laid off any moment. One is always on the move, prepared for the worst.

I spoke to him with tremendous regret that I could not be with him to be there to wish him a great day and be there to have dinner together that evening. He was like, chill girl…go ahead, have a safe party and reach home in good time.

All those nice ads on TV about great retirement plans and all, how true are they?? I know a lot of uncles and aunts who lead very shelved lives, economically very thrifty and tending their garden. My dad is not one to pluck weeds from the garden, he left that to my mother. He prefers haggling with the fish monger and the vegetable vendor. He loves talking to students about a forward moving radical India. He is a semi-Gandhian for whom the other is more important than the self. At times, I hate the passive stance and his unshakeable faith in being content and not fighting for an already coveted orange. He loves his meagre reading patience, just about manages to read 2 newspapers in 8 hours on a weekend. I always ask him to write, he says yes, he will. Probably now, after years of cartography and plotting of confidential maps...the gentleman needs to pick up the pen, he will. I told him, that the anniversary of his retirement will come occasionally, once in four years.

He has done some funny things tho’ post retirement. He always refrained from casting his vote during any election, he did it for the 1st time this year. I am happy. He wants to read the TELL ME WHY and TELL ME MORE children/adult series of books, asked me to pick them up when I visit him anytime soon. I will.

He asked me when I am planning to settle down, maybe when I am 29 and on my birthday. I am sure I won't be that broke then.He was not amused.

Black and White

Black and white is so misleading. Ok, I am not rambling about the movie. I am referring to the colors. It means you can either have it this way or that. You can never have it the third way. It means you are bad and not good, or good and never bad. It means you are no longer human and you are no longer capable of a lot of good and some lil’ bad. Black and white to me means there is no room for hope and reform. It means you have a problem of color blindness, you suffer from some kind of jaundice which allows you to see everything in this world in terms of black and white.

Please remember, black and white are not polar opposites of each other. The opposite of black is something which is not black (it could be yellow, red, orange, blue, blah blah) and the opposite of white is something which is not white (similarly, it could be green, violet, lavender, magenta, just about anything). Now we can’t conveniently exchange the variables and say ok, black and white, from today…you are opposites of each other. On paper, they are, incidentally. Is it the symbolic import of the message they convey? In that case, they are complementary to each other.

Of course, B&W is a cool phenomenon. Our 1st photograph, our 1st TV, our favourite outfits have both of them as indispensable colors.

I love the touch and feel of old photographs, fair people always looked white fair and dark people were glad the light did the magic, shine shine all around.

I grew up watching Byomkesh Bakshi, our desi version of Sherlock Holmes and He-man on our B&W TV and that smart lady still holds a position of pride in our family museum.

Colors, of course add glory to happiness and too much of color can also be funny. But some people either love it black or white or both. If it is both, it could be grey and if it is not, then it is black and white still.

Subhash Ghai’s Pardes, Karz, Karma even Yaadein had lot of music, colors, drama, enthusiam. His latest offering, Black and White is different with enough reason and resonance after the Geelani case that rocked Parliament literally. Most academicians are not like Prof Mathur and his firebrand wife. Most teachers I know lead shelved lives, scared of being scarred. Only a few make it to the podium and shout slogans. Many do not even go to attend R-day parades. Nevermind, attending R-day parades does not make you good or bad, you can still watch them on TV and shed a tear or two when the bravery awards are being handed out.

The cinematography is powerful, lot of tough terrain and vision through the lens. A photographer gets shot for some honest photography, some news is recorded ala Al-Jazeera fashion and the available media taking a sonorous afternoon siesta at Chandni Chowk for some spicy gully-nukkad communal stuff. Lack of color is bland but it also goes to tell a scary tale why the colors faded away and you have only black and white. When the cultural or other forces (read religion, for example) take precedence over trivial matters, it results in red, symbolic of danger and bloodshed, actually.

What kind of a world are we looking at? A world that ends up burned, all you see is black billowy smoke against the white sky. Yes, am I beginning to believe that the world is only black and white?

They love me, they love me not...

We all love ourselves a lil’ more than everyone. However much, you proclaim “I love you, mom and dad and…”, “I love you, honey…”, “I love you, this and that…” we have our ulterior motives of saying these things. For parents, yes, that umbilical cord is the emotional attachment factor and so many other things like my 1st brush with pepper and those unstoppable wails, my needlework punishments, and while away, if I have closed the doors and windows, switched off the lights, taken off my glasses after reading and well, well, it does get cantankerous at times. It’s that longing for those warm hands of Mama to come pat you when you are sooooo sad with fever and that look,Papa, please come and give me a huge bear hug to make me feel I am daddy’s best-est soldier.

To set records straight, we reciprocate love but I wonder if it is by default or mechanised or simply because we love to. We love for a reason because it matters, it matters to the people who expressed it, it matters to those who want to be loved and it also, matters to the cosmos who plans love stories for that happily after to the sunset kinda thing.

A friend said you can’t take away the right to love someone whether the favour is returned or not. The love remains, despite the indifference. It’s very selfish and very possessing.

It’s a complex equation, the balancing is even worse, trust me. You can either smother with love or frustrate. There is no rationale behind this, it just happens.

Some love(s) can not be questioned, some can be…some can be worked out, some arranged, some kind is just not happening, some very re-assuring, some love is so fulfilling and some so painful, and some kind is so perfect and longing for that one streak of adventure. Some come for a shilling and some for a Taj Mahal, some for nothing and some to nothingness.

Can you question it, anyway?? How can you have things like “true love” and all that? Love is love, right? You have it in all measures and sizes. I feel it’s like tasting wine, the more the merrier…my grandpa is going to shoot me for this, sorry!!!!

Let’s not bind, give space and be accommodating and all that also does not help too, since you drift and lose focus and get bored. Familiarity also kills you, what are we left with? Well, not much but some battered souls, scarred egos and smothered excuses.

Candy floss chewing gum tales, doll house stuff, lyrical affairs and what not, are only the symptoms of love, not love. But I love them anyway, :)

I love myself too much to give away. I know it’s bad, period.

Still smiles.


I know, I love to brag a lot and exaggerate it the celluloid effect, I think big, try and imagine big, everything has to be grand and ooh-so-happening. The outcome has not been pleasant always.My level of expectations has just about shot up so high that disappointment is a hard lump in the throat reality. It's again very different from the pursuit of picture perfect happiness.
What is that I really want, without settling for anything second best and compromising on my choice and discretion.No idea whatsoever.
Anyway, figured some basic things out tho'...
Keep mom and dad always smiling and wrinkle/crinkle free, in plain terms, happy and tensionless.This is not as simple as it seems to me even with my kinda track record. I am so obedient, god-fearing, helpful,miss goody two shoes sorts, won't drink,smoke blah blah, not a frugal spender :( my books and STD bills. I have never asked for pocket money from Dad the day I began working, that he wants to give me even after i am earning is a different story.
I am proud of my growing up years, where I would run home and do that extra 1.5 hours of tuitions to a few colony kids for that thousand rupees a month to sustain my ever spiralling expenses, you see, better time utilisation.I chose to miss that afternoon soap and movie and meeting/playing in the evening gave me solace.I would skip a 200 times to gain in height.
That labour into how to HCF and LCM and do your fractions and underline the verbs and put the prepositions changed to writing essays and RTCs, all for that fierce financial independence on how to manage and feel good earning your money.
Money needs to be spent but where and how??Priorities and needs play an important role.Saving for the rainy day, saving for that one grand gift you want to buy your loved one(s), getting a utility item and henceforth...
Happiness in small packets, big sizes and huge surprises come your way, grab them all,they may never be so generous ever.
Have a blue-print of what i want immediately,I need to pay my bills and buy my books, i need to study some more until I am tired and decide to earn a fortune. I am looking for the proverbial but elusive philosopher's stone that should take me places.
I will have no boyfriend for another couple of years until I am ready to take the carefully and willfully planned plunge.Prufrock said, he will grow old and he will grow old and he shall wear his trousers rolled.
It's an ageless wonder why we get confused over hearty matters, it's so hilarious given the champions that we are in charming/winning and ditching and playing agony aunt. The grass is always definitely greener on the other side.
I have devoured the sun, the moon and the galaxy in going pompous and egoistic just to prove my point that i seriously do possess the largest ego in the universe. But the times, they are a changing...I have given up on it and i am happier, I go over the moon about my sunny disposition.
Less melodrama, bigger bridges, small achievements,that's my bigger life.