A tough one.
One is one.
The first one.
The lonely one.

To become two,
The wait is long.
The trials longer.
One, you just gotta wait.

Colgate Free Dental Check-up

This is rather old,, decided to write about as I was clearing the inbox of my mobile number. Have been meaning to write about these 2 funny and conflicting SMSes I got.

There was this ad splashed in all the major newspapers sometime in the 2nd week of September, inviting SMS registrations from one and all  for a free dental check-up by Colgate in their respective cities.Now who does not know Colgate and her credentials? We had to SMS the city that we belonged to, to a number - 567625. 

Ok, I am able to retrieve the date - it was 11th Sept'10. I SMSed my location to the said number and within a minute I get the reply - "Sorry! The Oral Health Month activity of Colgate has concluded in 31st Oct 2010.Visit www.oralhealthmonth.co.in for  more details." 
Yes - on 11th Sept'10, I get a SMS informing me the camp got over already.

Anyway, with as much cynicism I carried about the chores of the day when another SMS beeps. Again, from the same number,only this time it says - "Colgate free dental check-ups from 1st Sept 2010 to 31st Oct 2010 for Hyderabad
Call Dr.R,Ajaykumar 55637696,9885195612,,
Ganesh Ramesh 66834298,9866044298
Shilpa A Reddy 23553375,23303085"

I did not want to attend the camp anymore.I finally did not.

Four weddings and a Funeral

An autumnal winter welcomed me,
For a lovely wedding,typically Indian.
Where the boy meets the girl amidst families and blessings.
Life begins on an arranged note.Rehearsed.

Seven years is brave for love to be as fresh.
Does your man cook dinner for you today?
Life is hopeful, circumstances tougher.
Advised to be married and followed.Exotic.

A father's delight.A mother's pride.
Their daughter is an MBA.Applied for PhD.
The day approaches, the watches are matching ones.
She is just a kilometer away in the same neighbourhood.Relieved.

The darling of everyone,the labour of their love,
She just learnt how to say, "maasi!" a week ago.
She has gone home after her play.
The playground does not look the same.Tragic.

A summer wedding, maybe.
A winter one,hopefully.
When is it happening?
Coming soon!

And, Hyderabad saw some who ran

A social responsibility initiative of a college and an NGO to promote 1098 - Childline. The roads surely belonged to the young ones - those who ran, those who walked, those who zoomed in their bikes and scootys for delicious eye candy  and for want of sunscreen.Some kids who wore the white tees were absolutely thrilled for the faarst time! I hope, you get the drift.

I had dressed aptly for the occasion - in sports gear, only to realise I was going to emcee the show! I mean, what? Methinks, I should command a premium going forward for all the stop-gap arrangements I do (wink, wink). Overheard -"Arey, yeh Chinese bhi bhag rahi re!" That's Hyderabad for me after 4 years.

I carried a spare kurta, a hand towel, sunscreen and a pair of sneakers for a colleague (who never wore them, I am grrr that she didn't tell me she already had one). And, yes. The stage did not have adjoining green rooms, not even a makeshift one. I was expected to change my outfit in some goddam car, which did not even have dark screen.Nevermind, the dignitaries can wait. They did. Meanwhile, I walked to the MMTs Railway Station at Sanjeevaiah Park, spoke to the counter guys to open the ladies loo. The old gardener had the key.  In a minute, I was in a new avatar. Kalamkari kurta, black capris and absolutely colorful sneakers and mehndi hands and strictly told, I cant wear a cap.Thank god, for sunscreen. In such times, the common man also loves to play some power games to establish the hierarchy.He asked for a neat 11 rupees. The most beautiful invective that flew out of my sacred morning mood was 'Chup be!' I did not even use the loo for its real purpose, besides the free loos in most malls are way cleaner than his one.The juice guy brushed past me, helpfully whispered in English -"Madam, pay him one rupee only." 'Only' before/after/ stressed/non-stressed is so Hyderabadi. I thanked him in the most 'firang' fashion to make his day. And I marched to the venue, only to be nearly gasped at by everyone. The programme began, amidst jumps and starts, coughs and hiccups, breaks and whatever. I think, I don't remember a word of what I spoke there.Daniel Defoe gave the world one Manfriday for Robinson Crusoe, yours truly is the female version for all seasons - I felt like aloo-tamatar, dal-chawal, ginger-garlic, salt and pepper (please ignore the food analogy, I was really hungry when I was doing the show).

The program got over, and as anticipated, there were enough and young Shakespearean fools, gender unspecific - some eat out of your hands, some  eat dust, some commit faux pas of going all giddy about classified information - who provide such sitcom entertainment.I mean, college kids around their teachers will continue to be moony eyed (guffaws). There are rare exceptions like  me, for example.

B and I had a total girl's day out. Sandwich starters with two lovely kids.Then Chinese lunch.Then, a total brain-outing of a Hollywood movie, of course not to forget the jewellery shopping (blush blush).Tired feet dying for TLC.

Psst : KCR forgot there was Jai Telangana bandh. The chief guest, some politician looked so pissed to have been woken up so early, especially on a Saturday.


Tuk-Tuk tales : Kiss in the mirror

I hailed this auto last morning on my way to work, it had all the works of Basanti Tangewali. Anyway, meter on and we were on our way zooming when i notice a salacious pair of ugly red lips on both the side mirrors.OOOf!

Whichever side of the auto one sits, at the back - central, left or right, our man has ensured he gets a a live coverage of heaving bosoms, with dupatta, scarf, odhni or without one from the rear-view mirror.
I tried to perch myself strategically away from those roguish lips,i managed to hide from one side but was covered on the other, not happening!

And our man in a torn khaki shirt was too listless and bored to care about the discomfort.Anyway, i thought this makes for an interesting entry and for lack of a better pair of lens, i took out my old and humble N72 to capture those lips. Our man got alerted.He began stretching his arms to,ofcourse, block my view. He also began driving superfast through all potholes and god, i wanted to swear at him. But then, i spared him.Om Gandhigiri!

I took about 6 wrong pictures before i hooked the ones i wanted.


Breezy autumn evening, mosquito coils, tabla beats resonating in the air amidst sound check - 1,2,3, guitar man chewing a gum most audaciously (was he bored? can he get bored?he was melancholic, methinks).Chairs getting arranged, tickets guesstimated and sold, everyone getting ready and most arriving late - our lady in nice shimmering saree with neck tilted to one side and all her hair falling on one side of her shoulder revealing her milky white arms and lovely back.Seats negotiated, some want it in front, you know the feel-important look and act-pricey bit.Organisers accommodating and obliging, visual distraction with a tch-tch.Annoying audience, especially the one seated immediately behind us, bad leg manners.Some corporate rookie with a very pronounced tee exclaiming dude-ness in rudeness.Nevermind.May his legs hurt.

The show began before time, from the mike testing. The Audience didn't know if something began.Maybe, they did. They stopped expecting the ceremonial hello, good evening wala introduction.I knew the show began when the dried leaves showered almost, naturally.The skies didn't open up, thank god!

A flautist, a percussionist, tablas and guitars - sheer magic that even tone deaf people sat up and kept quiet.The compositions were short, lively and arresting.

7 Zoozoos and their 1 director Zoozoo without the eggheads just ransacked the stage randomly without any punctuation.Lost in music and rhythm, not able to get their beat. They looked a little unsettled, they insist they are just the way they are - no holds barred, please did you come looking for something? Delivery of most ad-punch lines, abrupt and deafening. Again, a disclaimer. It's just the way they are.Reminded me of the premise of the Theater of the Absurd, randomness as a plot, if there was any.The sub-plots are interesting with the expanded 4-dimensional exaggeration, very much needed.Use of props, excellent. Improvisation it was!Background music was not required even for extended effect, dialogues were lost sometimes because of it.A very A-rated evening generous and replete with 'Pardon my French' stuff. Acting, each one was a class apart.Situational comic relief, awesome.The Audience laughed even at tragic moments.The emotions represented by each Number -profound!Love, Anger, Acceptance, Memory, Peace, Fear - one thread of randomness. Some sections were visibly disturbing and dragging - the abortion-foetus scene, the prostitute mother-son pain.Fear was the best. Peace was natural, effervescent and peppered with messages. The Director gave his heart and soul, pretty evident. The sweat of his toil is Alpaviram. Standing ovation. The MC did not have to fish  for compliments. The rain clap did not have to be taught. It rained claps. We enjoyed it thoroughly.

The audience.Sigh!Outrageous mobile phone etiquette - we just could not care less. The annoying buzz of not-so muted conversations to race towards demonstration of gray matter and how they can connect and identify.The media - defiant and noisy, they always do us favours by perching the cameras and expecting goodies.A piqued gentleman rebuked them, deservedly so.

There was this permanent breathing prop on stage, a clayed girl - the idol. The sutradhar. She breaks free. Brought memories of Rekha Bharadwaj's Tere Ishq Mein - how the heavens and the mountains move in the spirit of love.


No more reviews, please

Two aunties are avid movie buffs. They would go watch movies from Monday until Wednesday, morning-afternoon shows to keep abreast before the next Friday release.How multiplexes are on weekdays, well, no idea. Our grand dames always booked 4 tickets, one each on either side were kept vacant so that the junta don't rub elbow space with their arms.I thought they plagiarised my idea.Damn!

Writing about movies no longer happening. The big theater no longer excited me. The popcorn- water bottle jaunts no longer irritated me. I dint want to go to the loo during the short break. I hate BookMyShow. I miss Talkie Town.I miss last minute bookings.No time for wish-fulfilment.Independent gallery. Movies are a chore today.

The last movie that I watched of Ajay Devgun left me smiling - U,Me aur Hum when he says love is endurance.Once Upon a Time in Mumbai, Road Movie and Peepli Live. Unparalleled stuff, apparently. Overheard smart corporate-ish people saying -" kya?" Death of the audience. Too cliched if you praised the movie, suicidal to question the premise.

But nevertheless Dhinchaak paisa vasool
Dabangg - kamaal karte ho Salluji. You did it! Forget the South Indian Robot with your ex-Miss World 97, you are more handsomer than Rajnikant ( lovely hearts floating in between the eyes)
Do Dooni Char - typical North Indian family, modest income.Why was it so familiar? Relatives.Shaadi expenses of sister's in-law's somebody. Not Disappointing but not impressive stuff from the original Kapoor couple's only other comeback after Love Aaj Kal.
Aakrosh - Disturbing. Hardhitting.Ajay Devgun and Akshaye Khanna. Raw. Sensuous.Dripping.Gripping.

Curiosity killed the cat!
Aisha - i thought of Abhay Deol, i smiled. But well, both of us sighed at Aisha. Sigh! No, not remotely Jane Austen.Sacrilege! Anooradha Patel, well.vintage ;-)
Anjaana Anjaani - Piggy Chops after Dostana and Pyaar Impossible, and not to forget her month-long TV wateva is over the moon with this one. The clothes are as incompetitive as Aisha's designer wear but even Ranbir's  dependable sterotyped goofiness is not saving the pennies. Depressing premise.
I hate Luv Storys - God,save me!
Khatta Meetha - needed hajmola to digest Akki's common man chatri act and that irritatable punctuation-forgotten constipated rajdhani express dialogues. Marital rape and violence in an Akki-Priyadarshan treat, nah! Too many social issues!

So glad I dint dare watch Badmaash Company - don't like Anushka Sharma,so no show despite her all show. watched her Rab Ne by chance because i dint know her name.

Midnight conversations

A poem
Scenes and flashbacks.
Hide and seek betrayal.
Life on a begging platter.
Diminished but hopeful.

Happiness and flourish.
Speculations ruin.
Promises destroy.
Never look back.

Dignity and truth.
Awareness eases.
You live to smile.
Smile to love.

A promise
Life alone is not easy, so I'm told.Cranky behaviour, panic calls and difficult conversations.Solution, get hitched.Problem,find the right person.A meeting.Laughter, bonhomie.Maybe,maybe not.Sorry,I am cynical.
Yes,buoyant!Coffee.Long drive,no candlelight dinner yet.Shopping,a movie?
Screeecch! No, not happening.Never happening.Broken.No.Taking it easy.
Moral : Whatever happens, happens for the best .

What do you mean by G-O-D? Don't know.G- Generate,O-Organise,D-Demolish.Arey, Brahma,Vishnu, Maheshwar, our Hindu Trinity!All scriptures mean the same.All roads lead to Rome,er..G-O-D.

What goes around comes around.Why you and I met in this world.Surely, a reason.Tch, cliched.Someone asked Goddess Ganga if she does not feel the burden of sins washed into her by mankind.No way, she gives to the Sagar (sea).She has no reason to be burdened.Sagar also did not carry the burden of sins washed down by the three holy rivers - Ganga, Jamuna and Saraswati. He gave it back  to the Baadal (clouds). Baadal never kept the burden at all, whoever defaulted - he visited them during the rainy season and wreaked havoc with a little flood here and there.

Awareness of sin is important, acknowledging is even more important.Maharathi Bheeshma Pitamah, the grand patriach of the Kauravas and the Pandavas on his death-bed made of arrows asked Lord Krishna what  he had sinned to deserve this. Remaining silent when a person is wronged amounts to sin.Many years ago, he had diced a snake to death. Two landmark events that went on compounding for lack of awareness.

Never borrow or seek a favour from anyone.The idea of return gifts.Need not be expensive.The thought matters.Be self-reliant. I will give no favour and expect none.

Life is beautiful.


That happy unaware child with the balloon.
That lil' girl building castles in the beach.
And the content wife praying to the guardian deity
Not to forget the protective mother weaving stories for her child.
The misgivings of trust and time
Never necessarily breaks the doll's house.
Some get disheartened, a little.
Some disappointed, somewhat.
Your name beams with your picture,
Reaffirming of the calm twilight to come.
My feet curl up when the seas come ashore.
Looking for familiars lest I drown.
Years of love, and longing
Seek approval in that one missed call
Which you lovingly indulge, like always.
And the petulant me skips a heartbeat.


Life in passing

All the journeys I made seemed so trivial,
A milestone, a memory of fast disappearing familiars.
Everything old is new again for the one last time.
The mist of the past fades before me,
Beckoning me to smile amidst a hidden tear.
There are happier days to come.
The ride to a milestone, the chatter and bonhomie.
Sleep trailing before and after, defiant eyes, alert.
Life will never be mundane, never ever.
Absolutely, quiet and peaceful night,
Awaiting the morning-after of confusion and hope,
Of bigger dates with fortune and sincerity.
Memory is for cats and snakes, not for me.
Remembrance is for the departed and days bygone.
We live and love, not to be reviled, forgotten and revived.

Tree house - memories from Mawlynnong

So today's Hyderabad edition of the Times Crest has a travel feature on tree-houses in India and the need-to-know info around it. Sometimes, I wonder who writes for them, of course the quality and standards need not be questioned. But, I am dismayed to find the options are too cliched and definitely, do not cater to all and sundry. It panders to a trying-to-be desi firang crowd who would want to find weekend options to get away from the hullaballoo. The title of the feature is such a giveaway "Posh Perches" (guffaws) and there is a small inset which reads "up,up and away" - aspirational people, I tell you. 

If one has time, one may look up Mawlynnong. It is a small village of about 200 people, about 3 hours drive from Shillong. Now don't ask me where Shillong is. It is the capital of Meghalaya, the abode of clouds and it is in India. This quiet and definitely, not sleepy hamlet will generate some interesting Internet trivia like Asia's cleanest village after a NG travelogue writer has covered it.

The journey to Mawlynnong is a very memorable one. I saw Mawlynnong pictures of my colleagues, boss and students of my last workplace -- all haa haa, hee hee, a beautiful waterfall in the background and lot of raw green bamboo cups for water and tea. Refreshing.

I was home for an Autumn vacation. Got details from my ex-boss how to reach there. Small world. An old classmate from college ran the tourist wing.Joyous.I went to see her at her office. There was not a single vacant treehouse for the next 4 days and I just had that much time to see the place. But touchwood, I always end up quite lucky, I got a double room treehouse all to myself at half the price for 2 days (some last min cancellation) and it was raining cats and dogs!Luck too.

My friend told me, she could arrange a chartered cab to and fro for a decent price. She handed me a letter in Khasi which I am supposed to hand it over to some gentleman once I landed in Mawlynnong. I decided let's hitchhike ala Swades. It was more fun than ever. Went to Iewduh aka Bara Bazar. There is a sumo stand there, a yellow patch - all locally pliable sumos are yellow in colour. We took a share sumo to Pynursula, 40 rupees per head or probably less. The drive is divine. Floating clouds, undending dales and valleys, sudden showers, beautiful bends, gurgling streams and the imposing sky. At Pynursula, we get off at the market, a small bustling square. Lot of Maruti 800 local taxis. And, yes I did feel slightly happy high after the winding drive at 40km/hr. After getting back some rhythm, I had to figure out how to reach Mawlynnong.My smattering knowledge of Khasi was put to good use that day. 

I definitely look Mongoloid and chinky, lovingly and offensively called by my mainland brothers and sisters. I started blabbering in Khasi, literally even at Mawlynnong like a local Kong. The discomfort of not being an authentic local was pretty palpable after my city posh-ness. One Bah was kind enough to take us to our destination for a fair price, 200 rupees. I was already frolicking. That's probably the amount a local auto fella in Hyderabad would charge from me on a rainy day or a late evening for any distance between 10-15kms.A beautiful ride uphill.

There was no welcome as such but a horde of children playing all over a metalled parking space fenced by ornamental crotons greet you. There is a small tea stall at the entrance of the village. We stopped there for a cuppa and our gentleman was there to receive us. We handed over the letter, he took a small receipt book and asked for some subscription.The doubting Thomas that I am occasionally, a thought crossed my mind - is it some hafta wasooli? Trust my outsider instinct, damned! He told me community welfare and upkeep. I was trying to be convinced. We tried to be modestly generous, offered them 500 rupees. He was offended mildly. Asked me to take back the money and I was taken aback. Was it too less or what? He said, too much. He said he appreciates our thought and concern but it's a rule its only 100 rupees. My god, my heart just skipped a beat.Earnest.

A friendly dude took over. Henry is the best guide in the world, more athletic and controlled in his worn out Bata hawais and a piece of betel nut in his mouth than us who looked so out of place in our floaters and advennture wear. He was our personal, customised hospitality manager. He took us to our machan, this great imposing one under a gushing stream and a small waterfall amid the looming wilderness and I was definitely, flying. More than comfortable double beds, squeaky clean linen and blankets, mosquito-nets,just in case for the finicky ones and ample furniture, scrumptious and heavenly home-made food in the adjoining kitchen, nice toilets and bathrooms, evening walks, visit to the church and nearby places, early morning treks all the way to the Bangladesh border and the living root bridges, and the icing on the cake was a cool skinny dip in the backyard of our machan before lunch. I only heard the rain and wilderness at night, right in the thick of nature. Felt vulnerable and delighted at the same time that such things also exist. 

It was almost like I was in another yesterworld. Keeping the village clean is not a Municipal order for this village- it's a way of life. They export brooms and arecanut. There are no fences between houses and cottages. The land belongs to everyone, only the pigs belong to the owner so long they are well-behaved in their pens. If they are soiling, then they become pork for everyone. Couples marry and the entire village helps them set up their house and farm. I was touched by the close-knit social responsibility. Henry took us to his friends and wow, all of them with their hearts in the right place. Henry and his friend came to see us off till Shillong. They refused to take a paisa from us. They were so apologetic that I had motion sickness. We signed a cheque of 3500 rupees at the end of 3 days and wrote a paean to them in the visitor's diary. Never felt so at home. I want to go and meet Henry and take him those promised things that still await fulfilment.


uncanny but brooding
this impatient simmering,
hurtful and caustic.

little brown lizard
on the right side,
now inside the bonnet

the signal at red,
smoking and coughing
just missed one life.

skin tight purple,
yellow sports bike
ugly, clumsy, fallen.

a not-delirious fever,
a constant oppression-
the price for being polite.

a few harsh words,
a little short of danger
the ugly ego wins again

some lost friendships,
some young, some old.
a bitter medicine.

Letting go

A laboured life but a graceful one,
The well oiled plait till her hips,
Not anymore lustrous
As it would have been in her prime.

Seems to me, she learnt dance,
The big bindi and the graceful wrists,
The faded cotton sari  and the narrow waist ,
Arms as slender but not deprived.

The handsome toddler and she
Chatter and stroll in the twilight,
Her unfailing vanity on her shoulder -
The smallish grey purse has seen it all.

The sky is overcast, the earth is thirsty.
Little men make brisk business.
The flames crackle, the tea boils.
Some want it fast despite no hurry.

Little boy wants a roast cob,
Grandma wants some adorning flowers.
Hand-in-hand, smiles of satisfaction,
The winsome-twosome hitch a ride for half a mile.

The smell of coconut and the waft of jasmine,
And, baby shampoo and milk-rice,
Left me wondering at dear life
Where is my grandma and my little boy?

Raavan - Ramayan gone right ya wrong

Bollywood does not fail to surprise me with its whims and also,its fancies. A Prakash Jha take on the Mahabharata saw the nation drooling on some Italian connection - Godfather and Sonia  Gandhi, wow I must say.Taken for granted,you are intelligent enough to get the drift.Now, Ram Gopal Varma has the last laugh at those who panned his version of Sholay, the national Aag is all over from Shobha De going on print record saying Mani has lost it to all and sundry in my city saying the Telugu-Tamil version is better because Vikram acted in it. Hello, then what was he doing in the Hindi one? A friend from Pune pings me to tell me that irate fans have reportedly asked for their tickets to be refunded. Methinks, those irate concerned should set up counselling helplines to deal with the trauma and damage this colossal epic has brought about. It is only a movie.

Mani Ratnam is every South Indian's (extended to all Indians by default) national pride and treasure. His movies have one burning social-political-economic agenda standing out (Bombay was Hindu-Muslim communal riots, Roja was Kashmir terrorism, Dil Se apparently ULFA terrorism, Guru, of course the quintessential rise of the Gujju Ambani, now Raavan with Lal Maati-Kobad Ghandy-Maoist? whatever,really?) BUT he steers clear of offering solutions on a universal scale ( I mean, why should he?), he entertains with sometimes good, at times decent-passable Rehman music and by far, the only-of-its-kind (so far, the rest don't get any mileage if it is not a Mani Ratnam film) breathtaking cinematography skills of Santosh Sivan.

I have watched the Hindi 'version' of Abhi-Ash-Vikram believing there is one.Do not be carried away by the punchline - 10 heads, 10 minds, A hundred voices, One man - it is just a distracting disclaimer. Why does Mani Ratnam make so many versions of the movie with different people? Will somebody ask him? Now, I am yet  to watch the Tamil-Telugu version just to get a wholesome picture of what he was trying to show the audience or maybe, I can give that a pass. An aside, the enthusiasm of a movie gets killed when I have to hear from very movie-informed South Indian friends - "Oh, the movie is a copy of a Malyalee film or a Telugu film or a Tamil film. You should watch this in..." and there is a cacophonic blah in their vernacular with an instant dismissal of whatever. 

I get it, Indians like variety but at what cost? I understand it as cloning, there is nothing unique about a movie anymore. If it was dubbed and subtitled, I would have still given him the benefit of doubt.But Indian film-makers are good students of inspiration (most times, read as copying). So, is there any original of Raavan? Raavanam? Villain of all names for Telugu audiences, jeez.

There is an unfair comparison (which could have been avoided) between the two Beeras. Mani Ratnam claims he has not had much hand in the Hindi creative production and depended mostly on his assistant. He feels 'better' about the Tamil-Telugu version because the creative reins were in his hands.

The amount of research done, so claimed is not reflected anywhere in the movie. Dropping names before the media like Kobad Ghandy (who is a regular burning issue every 2 months on NDTV's We, the People) is not cool when all you mention and try to show is some Lal Maati ( Red soil, get the Maoist drift) and a police crime. Yes, full and more points for the oh-so-breathtaking choice of locales and camera angles. The first scene where Beera (Abhishek) is seen towering in a dhoti and nothing else brought faint memories of The Dark Knight - the heady giddy feeling in the first scene.

The story is not very difficult to predict. The ending also, with such a giveaway of an epic title. Ragini (Ash) as the dance teacher-wife of Rayban-wearing, mooch-sporting S.P. of Lal Maati Dev( Vikram). The play on the names is quite palpable - Beera tangently Veer (the chivalrous one) and Dev maane Bhagwaan (obviously, gods make 'mistakes' in the name of rules and laws but Gods can never go wrong). Ragini is almost apsara-like claimed so many in that sylvan set-up. Well, she was not that bad but she is not as great as claimed with the baggage of marital fat showing up and I am not saying, fat is bad. She has a good sense of style and choice of clothes otherwise, in real life. The Sabyasachi cleavage hinting outfits are good, but not really focus-worthy. 

Govinda's Hanuman reprise was comic relief as much as Ravi Kissen's Mangal act. But Chichi's time is up - he should stop monkeying around anymore.Really, he flies in the movie. He disappears and reappears. Something is made fun of but I am not being able to point a finger where. Tch.

Priyamani who plays Beera's half sister is a spunky livewire. Spunky people always don't get everything in life, sigh! A police gangrape told with a staccato stare, the  next moment she is gone, caught in her creaking cot in the well. Police atrocities happen. I have not heard of men being raped by women police, however. The state of the police department in any place in India seems to be deplorable despite the collective faith conscious. The interrogation with the tribals in the forest is an utter joke.

Ajay Gehi (last memorable act was as Sunny's sidekick in Gadar) as the voice of conscience (Vibhishana) gets killed by the system(Dev). Obviously, this is Kaliyuga. Rookie cop played by  forgotten hero Nikhil Dwivedi (of My name is Anthony Gonsalves fame) as the stark naked mistake of the police department is not a new tale in the twist. A lot of our young veer-jawan desh ke liye mar mitne wale are of this ilk, the invisible tail in between their visible manhood. His kidnap and mundaan saaf by the Lal Maati Beera bhakts is well, cinematic poetic justice for the suicide in the well.That he became a pschological shock victim is well, not a sympathy trip.What a punishment - buried till the chest in the ground and pilloried.Oh, stripped as well. If that could prevent crimes against women, if only.

The guerilla tactics used in the movie are the lousiest I have ever seen in these days of larger than life make believe. Almost, lost in the cattle class with multani mitti face-packs everywhere, on everyone. There is a tropical feel everywhere - the rains, the slippery mud, the overwhelming waterfalls, hamlets, pots and pans.

Everything is fair in love and war,so they say. Beera is smitten and bewitched by  Ragini, comparisons almost epic and tragic, like Helen of  Troy. There are moments of dignity in the questioned Robin Hood-Raavan yarn when Ragini's faith breaks down before Lord Vishnu's giant statue and she says she is not that strong and brave, and that she is only putting up a front. This is the same woman who scorned Beera in the beginning and refuses to allow anyone to take her life so easily, she just dashes off the cliff with that pride intact of a human being in control of her fate and actions. The distressing wife overtakes her in the  last few reels of the movie after the controversial bridge-burning duel where Beera lets go of everything. She pleads with Beera to know if Dev is alive and ok, how tepid!

The brooding Beera has two annoying refrains - " Chik chik chik chik..." and "Bak Bak Bak Bak.." to display irritation and instill fear. Frankly speaking, he lost whatever little gravity he had, thanks to those two lovely refrains. He becomes the good rogue with a golden heart, who loses his heart and life for the lovely ice maiden of a Sita-prototype.

Treta yuga Sita was banished and  she gave up her life to prove her chastity. Our Kaliyuga Sita stops the train, refuses to undergo the fire-test, err, I mean the blood test not because she is scared but she wants to give sense and sensibility a chance. There begins the Beera trail. As mutual acceptance begins to bloom, the wily and brute Dev corners the hunter. With a cry for justice asking posterity who the real Raavan is, Beera dies a heroic death. For Dev, work is worship. His work is to capture Beera, dead or alive. In this war, everything is fair. He forsakes his wife's love too in a tragic taken-for-granted way. This is the same man who is moved to tears when he visits the abandoned hide-out where his wife was held hostage. Vikram is business-like, cold and matter-of-fact. An ordinary husband, and not the god (Dev) that an Indian wife prays and fasts for on sacred Mondays. 

The only real menacing fear in the movie came from Mangal. He had the choicest of lines from nailing home the truth - people fight for food, and one should not insult food to real guffawing rhymes like - Kranti ko shanti do. From the days of playing Lord Krishna on our telly to gyrating as the Big Boss of Bhojpuri Films and telly-hosting, this man has come a long way. Simple and intense, he is a quiet show stealer. With that shaving knife and Nikhil Dwivedi tied to a chair, Mangal's ritualistic jungle dance was chilling, almost laced with cannibalistic mania when he  contemplates which body organ to cut off first - the nose? or gouge the eyes? slit the throat? or better still, chop off the ears? Of course, the result is symbolic - stripped of dignity, tit for tat with no hair and clothes.

Mani Ratnam makes films.He made this one too.Period.


Romancing the rain, 
I told myself,
Time is my ally, 
The world is my best friend.

I love without a care
I live without fear.
My dream is safe,
I sleep in peace.


High Five for Rajneeti

I feel so good doing a movie review after a long time, even  Slumdog for all its Rehman-Resul Oscar bandbaja is not worth reviewing. I restrained the movie buff in me to watch a Housefull of Kites and Badmaash Company for the heck of it. 

Rajneeti lived up to its hype. Katrina’s sunscreen ad interspersed with her Sonia Gandhi-like scenes and dialogues kept the hype going. After their Ajab-Ghazab on-screen chemistry, the PR people did their homework well in working on the Ranbir-Katrina USP. 

Rajneeti has that perfect story, a taut narrative, amazing cinematic vision, cast and ingredients right from its promos with Manoj Bajpai (who?) complaining of missing his share of limelight. Rajneeti is not dynastic politics. It is a tweaked version of the epic Mahabharata with a little bit of zing from Mario Puzo’s Godfather, femme fatales, assassinations and murders. And yes, not to forget the names- shadowing their epic counterparts.

That power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely, I never saw it come alive on screen so vividly in sleepy Madhya Pradesh. Even country cousin amchi Sarkar and its sequel Sarkar Raj pale into ordinariness. The starry cast wowed me beyond their chocolate looks and art house heavy weighted-ness.

Prakash Jha's movies have always been grim, stark and real, set in the heartland; there is a socio-political veneer in the narrative. The canvas of this movie is bigger, and a little larger than life and hard to believe at times. A regular Prakash Jha fan may possibly be disappointed at the 'kitsch' that one may think, it is.

The title prepares you for a lot of things, pleasant and ugly. Politics is deeply and downright Machiavellian. Only the most practical people survive. There is no right or wrong, no fair or unfair. 

Darshan Zariwala as an aging high command reminded me of late Congress head, Sitaram Kesri. Naseruddin Shah’s disappearing act more than the guest appearance as a crusading comrade reminded me of a Leftist bachelor academician who suddenly discovers his sexuality with  his young student-follower(Bharati). Ajay Devgn(Suraj Kumar) is the result of that tense night of passion. A modern day Kunti forsakes her Karna. Suraj Kumar grows up with his aggression misplaced beyond the kabaddi field in his biological mother‘s driver‘s house- he becomes the Dalit voice. He is the valorized sub-altern.

Kunti (Bharati), aided by her brother Brij Gopal (Nana Patekar) retires into domesticity as a political pawn. Time flies. Two sons - politics natural, youth mass leader Prithvi (Arjun Rampal) is our hot-headed but strategic modern day Yudhisthira and research scholar yum Americano-Indian Samar (Ranbir) springs a surprise as a suave and strategizing Arjuna. Manoj Bajpai (Virender) is their jealous but wronged elder cousin and the parallel Duryodhana. Tayaji in ICU is the perfect conniving Dhritarashtra. Nana’s mamaji act veered between Shakuni without the “nice and negative” elements and more of Lord Krishna. Boy, all these guys look so good in khadi. The dialogues are not historical but the message, yes. In democratic India, a lot of things happen in politics.

There is dignity in Manoj-Ajay’s friendship that evolved from a mutually satisfying power struggle. The bonhomie of Arjun-Ranbir is touching, one brother out to protect the other. There are some tender moments too, when Prithvi tells his wife that he also loves her a lot but does not know how to express it or the airport scene when Pratap wants his son to hug him, ominous it may be. The Kunti-Karna showdown was tepid. But Karna doing his elder brother bit of not taking Arjuna’s life was a tough moment. But for an Arjuna to go down the annals of history as a great warrior, there is deceit when he shoots an unarmed Karna who dies in dignified duty. Nana towered in the background.

Katrina Gandhi is what a few young 18-year olds in the theater thought she was. Of course, India remembers Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination. By far, her best performance after New York. Her wild hair and that bindi are distractions. 

The Irish girlfriend with a painful memory and the assassinations are markers. Kiran Karmarkar’s nasty SP act was bludgeoned to perfection. Shruti Seth as Sitapur ki ticket hungry political wannabe in cotton saris also is a murky truth of so many women who want easy access to power. Babulal’s gay act was an unnecessary distraction, I thought. Ram Charit Kumar (his name says it all) as the family driver kept the maryada of values intact - Continue doing one’s duty. The Censor Board, given their track record have displayed some matured conduct. Don’t get titillated.

Sense of closure is required for every action. The farewell confession of Ranbir is deeply moving. Time and circumstance make you do funny things. In politics, there is no Devil and God. There are no winners and losers, only survivors. There is no room for grief.

A space called home

Sometimes, small things really matter. I am a spartan in spirit and a pseudo-regal in taste. Being smart and sophisticated is not an easy art. You learn it the hard way through bloopers or by chance or initiation.Going back to old times when I came to Hyd with one big air bag.

I have somehow been never house-lucky in Hyd. I have had one or the other issues,  needless to say I have to approve/affirm my den. Since Dec'06, I have had two stints at the PG - interesting places. A friendly lecturer from my univ informs me from her experience and knowledge of Hyd that Ameerpet is 'safe' for girls. Yes, four of us found refuge in a certain hostel which was a breeding pit of software engineering students. Figured out after a year, that Ameerpet Univ is actually a phenomenal truth!

PG round 2 happened in Madhapur because I was on a deputation-training. I tell you these Telugu hostel owners are great money spinners. 2 of us managed to call the kitchen home for 2 months. The deposit drama and threat is utter sham. They could not even find a remedy for a viral flu, I had to shell out 10 grand spending a weekend in money-stripping Image Hospitals, what image I have of Telugu-land!

Never strike friendship with hostel mates and decide to move out to together to an independent or separate accommodation. I was ditched by a Malllu girl and a borderline Tamil-Mallu girl, of course after we finalised a house and I (silly me) offered to pay the advance and rent, since the other two were broke (you know, the month-ending excuse).The Mallu would live provided another  Mallu girl also stayed and the Tamill-Mallu girl would stay provided the 1st Mallu girl made up her mind. So much for regional collective responsibility. Those girls, I hope I am able to forgive them for their care-a-damn smallness.No offence.

Round 3  of accommodation was Lingampalli, close to Hyderabad Central University - the jinxed house actually, where I was ditched and all.I barely lasted 19 days in that house.What goes around comes around.Some Mallu and Tamil girls from office badly needed accommodation, they moved within a day's notice.

Round 4 of accommodation was more of a makeshift-anywhere-in-the-city but away from ditchers, Jubilee Hills..where getting an auto to and fro was annoying. All the richie-rich Reddys and filmstars live here and nobody takes an auto. The poor basti people took buses or walked. If you cant drive, to hell. This house was beautiful- nice woodwork, nicer (read bigger) rent, civil mates and nice maid. 8 months just passed like that. I hardly met tolerable neighbours. Buying weekend rations and vegetables in the rythu market was another activity. Again, space and difference set in. We moved on.We are barely civil anymore.

Classifieds work the best, again a matter of luck and timing. You get ok-dokey roomies-flatmates, houses and deals. You also have headless men making inquiries about the availability of the house and all.

Decided to go solo. Options were bad, and options just got worse. So-called concerned folks and people also said the same.There are no studio apartments.WTH

Round 5  was Banjara Hills, homely space but I never liked the quack of the doctor who was also our owner. A good 9 months passed with pets and parties. I learnt to differentiate between the sex and the city kinds, the predators and the nonsense in my environment.I had to de-tox everything around me. I decided to move closer to the workplace and also, someplace. 

Man proposes, God disposes.Crossroads.Choices.Classifieds. 

Round 6 was Kondapur, pretty much on the highway with a dusty breeze in the daytime. Wanted a new beginning to everything. Needed space away from the familiar mundane crowd. I lasted 3 months there. Jackie, the gorgeous female labrador still comes in my dreams, she has delivered a lovely litter. The other two inmates quit work in succession and also, decided to leave Hyd for good. I had just unpacked when this news bombed me. I was not keen on taking over. So, the TO-LET went up.Another lesson, a 21-year old and somebody waiting to be 30 have different agendas in life.

It was a nightmarish time. I no longer have just one air bag. It was a truckload of things. I sold a lot of things, gave away a lot of things. The rest, I packed again and moved to a couple of friends'. I am indebted, being homeless.

Round 7, found a basement residential flat in Erramanzil. I was not wow but I needed something closer to work.I hated moving in and moving out. It was not fair on my other roomie. But the daylight theft got me worked up.I dont ever remember cooking in that house, I also remember turning a year older in that house. Forgettable but 2 months.

Round 8 happens to be my current transit camp since last August. It's become my sanctuary. From a difficult Page-3 wannabe breaking my ear-rings to agony bonhomie with my other two flatmates. We meet when F.R.I.E.N.D.S. come on TV.

I swear, I will leave Hyd if I have to move out of this house. I am not as tenacious as a cat and dont want to be a survivor. Reminds me-- when I first came to Hyd, I moved out of the company guest house after the two-week complimentary put-up. I did that on 1st Jan. Someone said, get ready..you are going to change houses often, whatever you do on New Year's..you keep doing that all the time.

I have learnt to take care of rent and expenses. I have never ever slept alone in an empty house full of cartons and boxes, I have done that too. I have found my space to cry and laugh, not be answerable to anyone, including parents. Money cant buy that, even in your own house.

I dont think I want to buy a house in Hyd (whenever I can) or own a house. I'd rather go to the countryside, write during the day and learn bee-keeping (which I will someday) and pay my bills. The romance with a city finishes once the worst hits you. 

"Men may come and men may go
But I go on forever."

Signs I tell you

Ok, so don’t talk today. Why? My right eye has been throbbing for sometime now. Bad time. Alright. My left eye, upper side has been throbbing for ever. Am I hallucinating, my upper left arm is also throbbing?

In Charles A. Kincaid’s Tales of Indian Cavaliers, Princess Rukmini is about to elope with dark and handsome Lord Krishna. She sends a proposal (more of a save-me-from-a-bad-marriage letter) to him through a trusted Brahmin. Her left eye, left arm and left thigh began to throb vigorously when she nearly lost hope. Of course, she married her Lord Krishna.

I see only one magpie, not a good sign. Let’s not do it today.Okay, what if the magpie is a baby or a bachelor or a widow. No, you must spot two to be lucky, otherwise..

No, I sneezed once which is bad. I mean what difference does it make if I sneeze twice or two times - well, the placebo effect, pure coincidence? Things kinda never went wrong. And things were never made to happen when the one-sneeze happened.

Ok, did you see any horses in your dreams? It means war and death. Oh yeah? In fact, I sat on one and rode like a Victorian princess to my castle. The moat is clearly visible now also. I remember sitting with my corseted-gown, I had a third-wooden leg on the other side of the horse.

Trust all the signs and superstitions.

A visit to the Police Station

The police station is 'forbidden' zone for so many.  I nearly had a first time when a student's overpossessive pistol-wielding lawyer boyfriend's misbehaviour on campus got a lil' out of hand. But thankfully, a  very vocal and senior faculty wanted to do the andolan*-reformation bit, so I was left out of it.Of course, the highlights were not pleasant - from a very thick-skinned students' union, my very foolish student and her apparent 'boyfriend' of a terror, there was an out-of-'court' settlement. That bastard lawyer who broke the law did not get punished, I hope he is reading this.

My brother ran away from home on two occasions, those growing-up adventures. Reasons were predictable - that man-to-man fight with dad over pocket money and confiscation of Batman comics, then that famous and occasional "Get-out!" which was taken seriously, and literally. Thankfully, the FIR never happened and pray, that never happens.

Recently, a colleague of mine lost about 8 tolas of gold, hard-earned toil of her late mother. The suspect is her baby-sitter cousin who is doing the victim act and there is no doubt, she is the one - the victim act only confirmed it, she has a growing kid. My colleague who is a couple years younger than I, told me it was weird doing the FIR thingy and all the futile interrogation shit. She did feel uncomfortable and there is no reason to explain that.

I lost my favourite camel-leather wallet last year on my way to the airport. Some few grand, my ATM-Debit cards, credit card, my PAN card,my health insurance card, my Univ ID-card and my library cards - quite some fortune! I recovered the most important ones but I need to kick myself for procrastinating to recover the rest. Anyway, I went to the PAN card center for a replacement. They told I need an FIR.

The Laitumkhrah PS, I decided to go there. When I got off the taxi, I just sprinted to the PS in lightning speed so that no one saw me going to that 'forbidden zone' for whatever reason. You never know which nosey Uncle of Dad's office spies and even better, report it to Dad before I reach home. No, I am not scared. Dad knows I have to visit the PS, it is not a 'shameful' thing.

 It is a newly constructed 2-storeyed building with ample parking space, and a spacious compound. The stairs were not very dirty, barely swept that morning. The walls had posters of AA, Anti-Drugs and public awareness messages. The station in-charge office in the left wing was empty, no one in the chair.The right wing had people, I walked in with the customary, "Excuse me, may I come in?"

A dapper and good looking sub-inspector turned around, asked me to come in. There were a few other uniformed people whose 'stars' and 'ribbons' I could not see so that I can tell you their designation. I swear I felt very queasy - there was not a lady constable around! The SI asked me to sit down, when that evening round of chai-jingbam** came by. Impromptu, he asked me if I wanted to have a cuppa. I was pleasantly surprised - No, thank you. That is very kind of you. Very politely, he asked me what brought me there. I relayed, he was kind enough to lend me a sheet of paper to file a request for an FIR. Asked me to come the next day to collect the same. 

As the paperwork was going on, I scanned around. There were two cells - one for females and one for males. There was also the very interesting  'Rogue's Gallery' - a nice and neat collage of all the weird and very weird looking criminals with those slates of information, a random 'Wanted' tag on one and the like. There was also a wireless machine and a blackboard full of cryptic information, almost like a complicated weather report chart.

I also chipped in another request to give me the file reference number of an ancient report.The whole station got down to pulling out all the old files without a murmur. They traced the file number after a patient search. The cautious cynic that I am, I never expected such prompt service especially for something so Jurassic. I could not thank them enough. I wish they had a feedback box. Many govt. offices have one but too many complaints than compliments can be morale-damaging. The bulky-brained (or lack of it) people think they are exercising their rights educatively enough but alas! The only and biggest disadvantage of democracy - one has to live by mediocrity, every dimwit feels important and has an opinion. Fatigue creeps in. Anyway, I got my FIR the next day, there was an attractive lady SI, very beautiful eyes and a steely frame who signed my document.

This is an open channel - Laitumkhrah PS, you guys are one in a million. Thank you, you have restored my faith in the system. You are responsible and efficient. You are nice and friendly to the common layperson. Way to go!

*andolan - protest/activism in Hindi
**chai - tea in most Indian languages
**jingbam - something to eat/goodies in Khasi

Watched Antaheen last Sunday and totally loved it

National award winning Bengali movie, Antaheen (which means an endless wait) came a year ago. About love, realisation and longing, life and fragmented relations looking for wholesome completeness, the aesthetics of Aniruddha Chowdhury’s film is sheer poetry,tragic most times and Shantanu Moitra’s music lyrical and haunting. 

Urban Kolkata is beautifully captured by cinematographer Amit Mukopadhyaya in Café Coffee Day mugs, Chivas and Jasmine tea, long drapes and comfortable cushions, beautiful lampshades and window sills, potted glory and wind chimes, that kite longing for freedom at what cost, panoramic landscape, the rain kissed terrace gardens and sunlight dancing through painted glass, the shimmering city in the evening as seen from balconies. There are page 3 launches and parties and Star Ananda is a hep corporate place with writer Kunal Basu making a fleeting appearance. The symbolic telephone is the protagonist.

Young and feisty Brinda ( Radhika Apte, a surprising non-Bong Rahul Bose recommendation amidst teeming Bong actresses) is a Barkha Dutt in the making. She is a delight to watch, her eyes speak much more. She makes life miserable for VK Mehra, the Eldorado builder and also, no-nonsense upright IPS officer Abhik (Rahul Bose) who dismisses her need for bytes. Abhik is cynical about love and Brinda’s relationship with her boyfriend Sujoy is as good as over. 

Abhik has an endearing financial consultant cousin, Ronnoda (Kalyan Ray) - his friend, philosopher and guide who dabbles in the stock market, enjoys a good drink and good books. He is divorced and not divorced. His reel and real wife Paro (Aparna Sen with that frumpy mushroom cut) works as the marketing head in Brinda’s office. They stay apart but can’t do without each other. Paro is an avid photographer- her Tibet trip ‘cost’ her father-in-law’s life and her marriage, and also, her love for photography. The Tibet trip is possibly her best work which remains to see the light of day, her Ronno does not even want to glance at them. Tells a lot about contemporary society which chooses to be progressive with the high-rises and imported liquor but won’t think twice to blame a wife’s work for an already-ill in-law or a house which needs order .

Brinda shares a sister-like camaraderie  with her Parodi and is completely won over with her snigdha (graceful compusure). Unknown to each other, both Abhik and Brinda share soul space online, from cute sweet nothings to typical Mars-Venus takes on the comfort of being strangers and yet, the urge to know more. Their real-life encounters end in sour debates. 

Abhik stays with his graceful spinster Pishimoni (Sharmila Tagore). So used to living a life of loneliness with her potted plants and dusting old books and her needlework, her Penelope-like waiting for that phone-call from that gentleman with that nice voice is heart wrenching. Her jasmine tea is a conversation opener from her reverie. She does become defiant that she is not lonely and it is a choice she has made. She does miss the telephone call. 

VK is unscrupulous, his ever-depressed wife Mita Vashisht (phenomenal waste of an acting powerhouse) won’t forgive him for their daughter Anjali’s death in a car accident eight years ago. VK’s Eldorado project interview with Brinda revives memories of his daughter and Brinda is visibly disturbed. 

Paro’s visit to Ronno’s brings a new turn in their relationship. Her Tibet pictures adorn his study. They love each other but as Paro says marriage is the ability to compromise and feel needed. Her birthday gift of a book by Rumi is telling. She wants to live life her own terms this time - she cleans her camera stuff with renewed vigour. She is planning to move to Bombay on work. Will Ronno be able to stop her? Ronno does not stop her. Paro feels pained he does not stop her. That letting go is tough. Some decisions in life need to be taken without anyone’s help and crutch.

Ronno’s birthday party brings Abhik and Brinda to some civil acquaintance. They begin exchanging SMSes and calls generally and also, around work. Something tells Brinda that her online special stranger and Abhik are one and the same person. She wants to meet him and their rendezvous is almost arranged
A working woman’s life in a big city is not easy. From not missing deadlines to remaining picture perfect calm despite the storm in your head about a dear colleague leaving, a sense of abandonment, letting go of a relationship which would not work then seeking solace in on online chat with a stranger. Oh yes, we love pampering ourselves, it  could be staring long enough at the mirror while brushing our teeth or simply lazing in the rug with enough cushions thrown around or staring long enough at the computer screen waiting for that one special ping. Brought back memories of my Hyderabad times. 

Brinda’s mom packs her a sandwich before her last edit job, for some ominous reason she touches her feet. It brought about a numbness of the number of times we say 'bye' our parents before leaving the house and that feeling of how paltry life could become - will they get to see you again? Brinda tells her mother not to stay up, she uncannily does. Brinda tells Abhik - she is a night bird, literally. Think of all those youngsters who go to work at unearthly hours and shifts and for those fortunate ones who have mothers at home who stay up, pray and worry for your safety.

Jangled remains of that red Maruti Swift and a cell-phone which would ring but not answer tell the ominous tale of Brinda’s Eldorado quest, no one comes back alive. VK’s wife suspects her husband’s involvement and he swears no - in fact he wanted their daughter to grow up like her. Abhik comes to her house and then, he realises the truth. It is poignant how he lives every moment of their online conversation again, the Frida Kahlo on the wall and that fluttering kite on the antenna live to tell the tragic tale of love and longing. So close, yet so far. 

Paro leaves for Bombay, Ronno musters courage and calls her if he can come stay with her for a few days. 

There is a recurrent scene of a white pyjama-kurta clad man sipping road-side chai on his Royal Enfield whom Abhik encounters while going to work. He  waits for him everyday, that peace and calm on that man’s visage gives Abhik some security in his life. Today, the man drives away. Today, Abhik refuses to buy flowers. Today, he does not look at the laptop. That greyed out ‘offline’ status of someone dear on chat is almost autobiographical. It brought tears to my eyes and I was reminded of what a loved one told me a year ago when I left one workplace. Just like his Pishimoni (wish we had more of her in the film) who lost the telephone-gentleman, his greyed-out but no-longer-a-stranger chat friend won’t ping him anymore.

Antaheen left me numb, nothing extraordinary or larger-than-life. Beautiful nuanced acting, very restrained and a lot of heart warming moments. Rushing from work to chat with that special online friend-stranger tugged my heart. We have our own ways of coping with loneliness and longing for companionship. We live, we love and we also yearn a little more. Life is fast, work means 24/7 busy (?), take some time off, go spend some time with yourself, with your loved one(s), share that special something, it could be nothing concretely substantial but just be there to admire the raindrops pitter-patter on the window pane or watching that sunset together by the sea-side on occasions or your apartment balcony everyday.

I love you, special one.

P.S. Thank you, Korak for sharing this film with me.

An ordinary examination day in the extraordinary life of an ordinary college lecturer

Yes, we also double up as clerks - we think then we type, we write on paper then type, print and announce notices, we collect fines and we also remain standing for most part of the year for our lectures while our his and her highnesses sit . Life in teaching is always a lesson in itself. Okay, the ultimate finale is everything around is not even hitting average. I don’t see anything being cancelled out to make simplification easy. 

I had invigilation duty almost everyday during all examination shifts and the 2-shift 3-hour jaunt is mercilessly so boring. People who should not get into trouble inevitably get into big messes and the smart ones with whom you would not mind a smart mind game are so committed to playing safe. I so sincerely get bored easily. I tried to multitask, it is not easy. I achieved about 19 percent of work besides penning down tips on how to improve and streamline tests and exams next time round. I can't knit or sew like some accomplished invigilators.

Anyways, as the guinea pigs scribble on paper for our sado-masochistic drive, it‘s another toss here. Your co-invigilator is always going to make or break the game. It’s a game of cricket for me, where I try all kinds of bowling tricks to get my wickets. 
-You have the lame duck who is senior to you at work and lets out classified info who is like what. 
- You have the eternal anti-hero who is victimised by the system, less pay- more work and the blah like "Everybody hates to love me but loves to hate me" kinda thing.
- You have the fence-sitters, the perfect fair weather kinda nice smiling faces.

And the students have amazing paisa vasool fun at our expense. First, they come in late. They take a long time to settle down. Then, they need to be told to switch off their phones. One class came and deposited all their mobiles at the teacher's desk. But most fish out their phones and keep it in the silent-vibraaaaator mode. So, don't be surprised if the mobile blares some Atif song or Telugu song or better still some baby laughing garrulously. 

Then, the exam starts. Some pray, some distress, some de-stress. Some sit, some stare, some gripe. After one hour of breakfast digestion, "Additional!", which means extra sheets. By which time, attendance and autograph session is also over. 

Then, the urge is awakened, the urge to visit the toilet. I am quite ignoringly amazed by the toilet chain reaction. One after the other, there is some collective responsibility and some of the boys will always seek permission to say hi/hello to their 'friend'. Thirst is an understatement of an excuse. The ayah on the corridor insists no water be served to the children as she animatedly signals the little finger code. Hey kids, like we don't know why and what. That graffiti on the wall is very entertaining.

Copying from books is forbidden, but some smarty pants bring along photocopies of notes and think they can get away.Even if we had an open-book policy, I don't think you pay much attention to the best practices.Listen, cheating is an art - either you know it or don't know it. And, if you are copying from somebody, please don't copy the mistakes. My god, you have no idea what happens after that - it is like wearing your friend's chaddi. You can conjure up the rest.

Cynic in the city

The best welcome I could ever have - the whole building came out to see me and my bunch of friends dragging our luggage up the stairs. The watchmen here never help, they only watch. So when I was signing up for this PG accommodation I was asked, Marriage when? Engaged huh? I was like why, is that a criterion? The old wives told me no, it is not. But it is not a good idea to remain single and unmarried if a girl has crossed 25 years of age. Weird. Even at 32, these women are haggardly old because they married so young.

Even worse is to be seen with anybody male - colleague, friend or cousin of friend. You are a not-so-good girl. If your male acquaintance is introduced then it is ok-ok modern and corporate culture. You are a good girl if you don’t  go out on Sundays and watch Rajnikant’s Chandramukhi with 12 other girls on that Big Bazaar color TV and be hysterical. Also, not to forget the suffocating obsession with Shriya and Trisha. Oh, by the way, one is a southern siren and the other a versatile actress. 

We had an awesome bathroom cleaner who wore such fancy salwar suits and still demanded old clothes from us. I miss the wee hours of the morning when one of the ammas would wake up early and do the dosa batter after her sacred ablutions. Since I came from the Highlands, I was not used to cold water showers, I paid her five rupees everyday for 2 litres of hot water.The mornings were sacred -the smell of fresh earth, the wafting jasmine in the air and the incense in the chiming temples and  the aroma from roadside bundis of tea and tiffins.

I miss the Kadapa girls, I fondly remember the henna days and the mehndi nights.I learnt to appreciate the humble FM phone as my ally.

Nobody will believe you that you went out for a late night movie especially when they see you dropped home by a male friend. Something fishy is always running in their heads.

When I left the PG, all the best wishes were around getting married and come visiting there with your husband and kid (not baby).


My two pence of the Shoaib-Sania hulla-gulla

While my students were worried about their OU final exams and how to reach college to collect their hall-tickets, a 23-yr old city tennis star’s marriage is national front page news, leave alone P3. I mean, alright. Now-wannabe Sania Mirza wants to get married, did I hear that right? OK, the state is worried about relaxing curfew hours in riot- affected areas, and maulvis are being unnecessarily dragged to bless and defend her marriage.

I was coming home from an evening out, barely half a kilometer from my place, I saw a trail of media vans and vehicles, and found out it was the ongoing saga of the Siddiqui girl’s tamasha. Of course, so much has been written about Sania-Shoaib and Shoaib-Ayesha. I feel, all the three deserve each other.

Now whoever Sania Mirza is, she showed amazing promise as a kid. With a ferocious manager dad, and the signature arrogance and aggression of her tees, tennis really looked good. The quick buck, instant and constant media attention and endorsements did her in. Her moment of reckoning came when she cracked into the top 25 and then, it was a spiralling tumble. A fling and friendship with a Bollywood Charlie lasted barely one summer when the chalta hai city woke up to her grand engagement reception at Taj Krishna( or Banjara) with the local but Universal Baker scion - the wah-wahs were many, and it was soon over before they could reach the altar of lifelong vows. The boy was dignified - spoke and discussed lil. Then, within weeks, we hear she is marrying Paki Shoaib Mallik. Sania does not have a great track record of sustainable consistency of behaviour in the choice of her partners, her game is also beginning to show that. Just hope, all goes well and she finds and keeps her intended for keeps. She is clearly a giddy narcissist. Suddenly the saffron brigade is calling her names.

Now who is Shoaib, ask Ayesha Siddiqui or Maha Apa for intimate details. Arrey, don’t get me wrong. They were allegedly married and the two were alone in a city hotel on two occasions. Ok, the little that I know -- many years ago he used to be an upcoming swashbuckling cricketer from Pakistan. Whenever he started hammering fours and sixes, my dad used to have palpitations, such was his influence. So, to cut a long story short. Ayesha is apparently not Ayesha but Maha Apa and how-much-innocent boy Shoaib feels cheated. His jija has valiantly defended him across all sections of the  media. How stupid of him to have a phone nikkah which is apparently invalid. He does not look so dodo to agree to so-called Ayesha or Maha’s every damn tantrum. And, what chivalry, he agreed to marry her to save her honour to stop the wagging media from defaming a poor woman.  Lawyers and social groups will take ages to churn wafers from this. According to latest alleged reports, Shoaib has been accused of two-timing, after 8-years, my lord, point to be noted. Shoaib says he never married for the record. 

Ayesha, kaun hai? The be-spectacled woman who is being flashed in all media studios over phone and pics is apparently a teacher and the first (not yet former or ex) wife of Shoaib. We did hear about some phone nikkah many years ago. We never saw her pics, the Islamist tradition also does not favour much in display of pics and all. Now, her nikkah papers are scanned with great interest by everyone except people concerned. She has chosen to be reduced to a pathetic joke with her fatness being a reason for the apparent divorce, her Cinderella story has gone sour. Good sense would be to be large-hearted and let go, if at all there was any love, like she claims. What nutty behaviour! What was she doing in the last 8-years? Sleeping? And, why is she making her weight issue a national crisis now? There are enough and more obese and fatter people who get married  and live happily. If she is upto changing Shoaib’s mind and also, retain him in the bargain, well she is in for more heartburn. The guy seems to be very firm about his Sania. She should be happy the way she is and not give another case to the plus zero health believers and activists to champion a non-issue of a case and pillory Shoaib. Religious heads are divided over legal issues.  No winners, all losers.

Media, please stay away. The media as a pressure group is focussing on inane issues. Like relationships which don't last, some marriages also don't last. Give them their space.  It is only a 23-yr old girl getting married to a fairly not bad-looking 28-yr old guy. It is also perfectly incidental that both sportspersons are neighbours and we are no longer hostile, remember Aman ki Asha. Shoaib-Sania shaadi could be the stepping stone. Let’s not worry what happens to their careers, they will be taken care of. They are potential national assets in their own rights, even though one is serving a ban. Bala Thackeray Saab, it’s ok, international marriages also happen, don’t be mean… I think you should spend your last few days practising tolerance and restraint, it is not easy I empathise.

Ayesha or/and Maha Apa, you are phenomenally a strange woma(e)n. You mystify everything around you with that inflected accent. Was it love? Or were you too star-struck? Or you are smart and acting duh-duh-damsel in distress. Get real, wake up! You are not criminal-fat! And stop craving for attention. You have had your fair share of dadagiri and mischief, what goes around comes around. No no more emosanal attyachar. Fat is also a shape like thin. Don’t think thin girls get away with everything, including men. Thin girls are disgracefully called waifs and worse, hangars (in the world of fashion) and football grounds too! And, yes. Don’t waste national time giving distressed interviews and feeling wronged. Giving interviews is the laziest thing to do. If you think you deserve better - Just go kick him in the balls and end it there. The country  has better things to do, children have exams. Parents and families have to worry about exams, rations and bills, and life ahead.

Most of us think and are convinced, there is more than meets the eye. So, let there be no traffic jam in Banjara Hills, we love our neighbourhood.