Thursday, December 21, 2006
Then one day you run into one of them on the streets. The hair tamed, the voice broken, dressed in the best, on a diet. And you realise -- time has passed, we have grown up, s/he has changed and so have I.
Back then, you shared every little secret, every object of interest was discussed, every minute of the day was spent together. Now, you look into the other’s eyes and see the reflection of a world you are not familiar with, and you realise the other is seeing the same in your eyes too.
No, I did not recently run into anyone from the past. But I would like to. It’s like a refreshing blast of wind. To catch a glimpse of a familiar face in the crowd, to relate it to the impression of a much younger, much smaller face in the mind’s vault, to see the same light of recognition growing on the other’s face, to shake hands, to say "How are you, lovely to have met you", to exchange contact details, to realise how much you yourself have changed, and walk away with the warmth, with the freshly evoked memory of the security of childhood, with a smile that will linger on till a sigh of nostalgia escapes.
Sunday, December 17, 2006
My memory also has mango trees, like many old Malayalam film songs. I remember having asked my mother long ago why so many Malayalam songs alluded to mango trees when attempting to invoke nostalgia. Her reply was that almost every house used to have a mango tree in the yard. All the houses I stayed in during my childhood had a mango tree. The home -- to which the mind remains anchored to -- now has four. From my room, I could see two. But here, that green shade exists only in my mind.
Friday, December 08, 2006
First there was the IIFA awards -- International Indian Film Academy Awards. Now comes the GIFA -- Global Indian Film Awards. And what is "Indian Film"? According to these two awards, Bollywood and only Bollywood. Celebrate Bollywood, by all means celebrate the colours, the drama, the glamour that is Bollywood. But why give the world the impression that all of Indian cinema is just Bollywood?
Why why why?? What happens to all the other languages then? What happens to all the other regional film industries? The Assamese and Bengali films? The Malayalam and Tamil films?
Thursday, November 30, 2006
# A box of those long Homelite matchsticks. Someone called it the "theft proof" matchbox.
# A bottle of Dettol, used once long ago. Must be past expiry date by now. Should be poured down the drain.
# A bottle of liquid soap that I bought in the first "shopping for home" spree. It was then a spare, it still is. Because I keep forgetting I have this in store and continue buying more soap.
# Half a packet of soya chunks which I bought because someone said is very nutritious and forgot after the first trial because I certainly don't like it. Must get rid of it at least now.
# Battered water bottles that haven't been replaced out of sheer laziness.
These I spotted in the first round of looking around. Am sure to find more.
Friday, November 24, 2006
A period when I had nothing to write. Or rather, when I had nothing good enough to write on. And now I have things swimming around in my mind and no time to write.
Because now, the sea calls. And when the sea calls, the only thing to do is drop everything and rush to the waves. So I am off to Goa in a couple of days to refill my reserve of salty breeze and sand.
Sunday, October 29, 2006
# How can a plywood company advertise itself with the slogan “Powered by nature”? Cutting down trees is being powered by nature? Saw that ad on an auto.
# How many lifetimes will I take to visit every city, every town, every village in the world? See all the great rivers, see all of India, the rain forests, the European countryside, the beaches of the Caribbean. Oh and, who will sponsor me for this world tour?
Tuesday, October 17, 2006
Anyway, now I have more reason not to read them. This is from Jyoti Sanyal’s Indlish – The Book for Every English-Speaking Indian. Sanyal was with The Statesman for 30 years, and was later the dean of Asian College of Journalism when it was in Bangalore. Anyway, after pointing out some really badly written editorials – one from “Bangalore’s leading daily” and the other from “a Karnataka daily” (not difficult guesses which these are) – he laments how the Victorian model of writing seen in these edits trickles down to children. He says:
And the moral of all this: teachers, please stop crippling children with crude didactic essays of the Victorian model; parents, never encourage your children to read those repulsive Victorian-vintage editorials in English-language newspapers.
Monday, October 16, 2006
It was utter joy, to press my cheek to the thin iron railings across the window of the bus and feel the wind try to rip my head off. The strong metallic smell of the railings would stick on to me for a few hours. The feel of the wind on my face would stay on for a few minutes. Though the route would be the same each time, the places we rushed through always looked different. There would be something new to gape at each time. The black tarmac, fringed by white sand or red gravel depending on where we were, followed by dense green, followed by sun flecked sky. That is the lasting memory of those journeys along the highway, though blurred because that was how I would see them through the window.
Distances have shrunk. Earlier, a one-and-a-half-hour journey to the neighbouring district was a long one – one packed clothes and tooth brush into an overnight bag, one looked up bus timings, the journey would be tiring. Now, you wake up in the morning, decide to go make a visit, hop into the car, think nothing of the one hour because it is probably as much time as you would take on your daily commute between office and home, and are back home by evening.
The whole reason I started on this when-I-was-a-child trip is because it seems incredulous to me that children these days seem to have no interest in looking out the window and just looking at things. The minute the engine wakes up and the vehicle moves, they are bored. “Let’s play a game, I am bored, give me something to eat, I am bored, are we there yet, I am bored.” Look out, look at all the pretty sights, look at the people! I can still gape out for hours, I still stick my head out to feel the wind, I still love to watch the road fly away beneath the wheels.
Last day, stuck in a traffic jam, we watched the people in the car next to us watch videos on the LCD screen hanging in the car in place of the rear-view mirror. I watched in disgust – bad enough that people go on holidays to exotic locations only to get there and watch TV, now they need to be staring at a screen even when travelling around city. But S watched with much interest, and said, We should also have a DVD player in our next car, that way our kids won’t get bored when we are going somewhere. I let out a silent scream, but S didn’t even notice the look on my face, he concentrated on the traffic. Wonder how many arguments lie ahead!
Tuesday, October 10, 2006
Wednesday, October 04, 2006
Anyway, there was a bandh here today. From last night, the roads have been dotted with police vans and bus-loads of the rapid action force. And today, deserted roads, closed shops and offices. All by force, isn't it? If given a choice, how many of us would have stayed indoors? How many shops and offices would have remained closed if they were given a choice? But in a bandh, there is nothing called a choice, at least not anymore. If you are not a hospital or a newspaper office and yet you are open, we will shatter your glass facade. If you are not an ambulance or a press vehicle, we will stone you. If you as much as dare touch the shutter of your shop, we'll beat you up.
How can a handful of people and their decision to paralyse life affect the collective psyche so much? How can they put fear into minds so that we would much rather sympathise with the cause (by force, let me add) and stay at home rather than go out and carry on with life?
I want to protest against bandhs. Someone tell me how.
Oh by the way, one good thing came out of the day's shut-down in the city -- the traffic police got the road markings re-painted!
Saturday, September 30, 2006
I wake up everyday to a medley of this irritatingly high-pitched noise. A truck in the neighbouring compound trying ot get itself out. See, it is a large empty ground. I have not yet discovered why the truck's driver needs to shift to reverse gear so many times to get it out of there. And each time, the Airtel jingle is flung out into the world. Why isn't AR Rehman protesting? Doesn't he realise how bad his tune sounds when it comes at as a sad string of beeps through loud and jarring speakers? Anyway, if that doesn't wake me up, there is plenty of choice. As in, I can choose what music irritates me the most and wake up to that. Because shortly will follow a version of Neele neele ambar par. Which will be followed by two other versions of the Airtel jingle. And then will come the Happy birthday song. Which will be followed by Raghupati raghava raja ram and Vandemataram. Why bother about anniversaries of songs and Gandhi Jayantis and so on? We can sing it everyday as many times as we want to reverse! So anyway, all these songs play in the morning, in this sequence, everyday. And in reverse order at night. What joy.
Oh, at 4 this morning I was treated to a Tamil song. I hope that car doesn't decide to stay on in this area.
Wednesday, September 27, 2006
I read this paradox of the Barber recently which incidentally is attributed to the British philosopher Bertrand Russell.
The barber paradox asks us to consider the following situation:
In a village, the barber shaves everyone who does not shave himself, but no one else.
The question that prompts the paradox is this:
Who shaves the barber?
No matter how we try to answer this question, we get into trouble.
If we say that the barber shaves himself, then we get into trouble. The barber shaves only those who do not shave themselves, so if he shaves himself then he doesn’t shave himself, which is self-contradictory.
If we say that the barber does not shave himself, then problems also arise. The barber shaves everyone who does not shave himself, so if he doesn’t shave himself then he shaves himself, which is again absurd.
Both cases, then, are impossible; the question ‘Who shaves the barber?’ is unanswerable.
Perplexed and confused?
Saturday, September 23, 2006
But now, look at all the buzz around Gandhigiri. People are protesting with roses. It has lead to discussions among youngsters and is apparently inspiring them. The word has taken over the headlines – ‘PM pleads for Gandhigiri at NAM’, ‘After Munnabhai, America takes to Gandhigiri’, and so on. No, they are not talking about the film, only about maintaining and promoting peace. And if you want to read all articles on Gandhigiri, there is even a dedicated website. And of course, when something is this popular, someone has to protest.
That apart, I met someone last week who thought that the entire film was a long Congress campaign. The minute Gandhi appeared on the screen, the idea fixed itself in his head, and he couldn't even sit through the film. He left during interval. That was a new perspective for me, though now I am wondering why I didn't think of it that way!
Monday, September 18, 2006
All these guys had one thing in common, they developed thier own style and worked on their trademark sound. The "feel" with which these guys play their instruments is the major difference between a great musician and a wannabe one.
Talking of individual sound and style of play, check this video out.
Allow the video to buffer fully before it plays out entirely- As soon as the link opens, click the Play/Pause button and allow it to buffer fully. Then click the same button to play. Don't let it buffer in between, you will only kill the magic that is Music.
Friday, September 15, 2006
I was on leave today and my assignments for the day were to get the car ready for our weekend jaunt and also to get done with the road tax for Sav's bike.
I get to the RTO and am immediately swamped by agents who sensed a deal looking at the TN registered scooter. Saar!, DL aah?, Tax aah, kannada gottha?( do you know kannada?). I cut short their aahs and oohs and quickly run upto the 3rd floor where the Road Tax section is.
Can you believe that all the Forms that you are supposed to fill up are in Kannada? I flip the page hoping for a English version.None. Ive learnt to read and write kannada ever since ive been in school and have been comfortable with it but just imagine the plight of a non kannaidga in that RTO?
I look around and immediatley spot numerous (at least 15 of them ) non-kannidagas holding the same Form, with confused looks on their faces. Not to mention, the agents were milling around them offering their service to interpret the form. Of course you can fill it up in English only if you know what the form demands in the first place.
I decided to fill up the form in Kannada to the last "Camma" and "Full Staap" including the Insurance Policy Number which incidentally was a 15 digit number!!. After a job well done, i submit my form to the officer in charge. He glances through the form, muttering under his breath, doodling something on the form with a red ink pen,lowers his glasses down the ridge of his nose, frowns and hissed at me: "YAAKRI, NUMBER KANNADA DALLI BARDIDEERA??" (Why have you written the number in kannada, i say?). The poor soul probably didnt have a clue about kannada numerals!
Ah! Bliss, i was waiting for this moment. I calmly replied :"Form Kannada Dalli idey Saar!" ( The Form is in kannada). I think he lost it, more so because i was wearing a Che Guevara Tee and hadnt taken my shades off!. He made me write the whole form in English and resubmit. I didnt have a problem with that.
Tax paid. Sav khush. Me too Khush ( having gotten back at them - quite"literally")
What is the point in having the form in Kannada? Is it to help the agents make a quick buck? Is it the "Namma Kannada" cam"pain"? Is it an apathy towards Non kannadigas? ...i dont get the drift.
i promise to write soon again .....Until then...Cheers!
Sunday, September 10, 2006
I suppose they are trying to say that wherever you are the network is there, blah blah. But the message I got was that even in such a beautiful setting, on what seemed a bright, sunny and beautiful day, the tech savvy young generation would rather stay indoors and watch film songs on their phones.
Now my problem is, is that only the warped imagination of the advertisers or is that how things are? Why, why, why in the world would you take the trouble of going on a trek, or on a vacation, only to watch TV (Or in this case, film clippings on the phone)?
Saturday, September 09, 2006
The contexts have always been different, but the station is always the same. Sometimes it's me missing the train. Sometimes it is me trying to catch a connecting train at that station. Once it was me running after a goods train. Once I was looking for my family in different trains. Once I was getting out of the train to buy tea. But it is always the same station, with the cacophony of blaring horns replacing the usual sounds of a railway station. And almost always, I would have to tackle the road traffic too.
I don't want any interpretations on this one, just let me know if you come across a station like that. :)
Thursday, September 07, 2006
There are so many other jobs around if you are into the business of words. You could be a content developer or a technical writer for an IT firm and get paid a bomb. You could be into public relations. You could get into corporate communications. What do these bring? Definitely more pay. Five-day weeks. And your evenings are free! Err... Or rather I like to believe that evenings will be free. Even in the worst case, you would get at least a couple of evening free, won't you? You know, there have been times when I've felt lost in my neighbourhood simply because it had been ages since I saw the area in the golden light of evening. Oh to not have to take special permission so I can attend an evening wedding, or a concert...
But yet, journalism has so grown on me. My eyes twinkle when I hear about a job opening as a content developer. And I toy with the idea, I think of the many things I could do if I had a two-day weekend. But all that will last till the next press conference, where I sit and contemplate if I really want to give this up, and the twinkle dies. I sigh and say, oh darn, I love my profession too much to give it up. I wouldn't have a press card anymore. I wouldn't be able talk possessively about the press club anymore. I would have to rip off the "press" sticker that's on my scooter. I wouldn't be able to save San from policemen who nag him for double parking simply by waving my ID card. I wouldn't be able to watch with amusement the different ways in which people react when they ask me what I do and I say "I am a journalist" (Especially the kind who think they are important enough to be quoted and say "Hey, all that I said to you was off the record").
Oh darn. I am never going to have a five-day week, am I?
Tuesday, September 05, 2006
All the Malayalis seemed to have converged on MG Road today, the women dressed in the lovely cream-and-golden sarees, but all with too many accessories killing the entire essence of simplicity and quiet grandeur that the saree is supposed to represent. The men in dhotis struggling to ride bikes. Abhipraya's comment on it was "Now they know how difficult it is to wear a skirt and ride a bike". Heh!
Anyway, there was such a crowd outside the neighbourhood Malayali restaurant that even at 4 pm, people were waiting outside. A whole lot of people celebrating the festival the best way they could, in a land that doesn't know what the festival is all about, where one doesn't get a holiday for Onam, where one needs to buy plantain leaf for the sadya rather than gathering it from the backyard.
And me? I felt disconnected from the entire thing. I wasn't upset that I wasn't getting a feast. Wasn't motivated into cooking anything nice. Wasn't even motivated into wearing something new and nice.
Someone in office said "She's the modern Mallu -- no cooking, just go out to eat." No that's not it. Who do I cook for? For the husband who left home early morning for a day-long conference anticipating lunch at Leela Palace and dinner at Grand Ashok? I'm not going to do elaborate cooking for just myself.
Someone else in office said "It is Onam, you should be sitting at home. All the better if you are alone, just relax on your own." No, not on Onam. I want people around me. Lots of them. I need to run around, talk loudly, laugh a lot, run in and out of the kitchen to taste various things. So that I can sit down in the evening and put away the memories for a day like today. Because tonight, I sit here alone after a lonely dinner, with the TV on in the background for company, wondering what the day was like back home where the entire extended family got together for Onam. For me, that is what Onam is about -- about being with family, being surrounded by people -- and not the pookkalam or the paayasam or the sadya. That is how it has always been.
Saturday, August 26, 2006
Before the film released, an HT article said:
Recently, Ram Gopal Varma created a farcical flutter by announcing he was looking forward to KANK because he loves horror films.I guess that kind of set the trend. One rubbed hands in gleeful anticipation and waited for reviews.
The NYT pretty much concluded that it is the eye makeup that made all the difference.
Soon Dev is lovestruck, and who can blame him: Ms. Mukherji’s eye makeup, which we get to observe in detail, is much better than Ms. Zinta’s.The Hindu's reviewer was taking in the details:
As for the story’s central lovers, it’s never quite clear what Maya sees in Dev, whose emotional switch has only two settings, angry and morose. Perhaps that eye makeup is clouding her vision.
Everything is picture perfect: there is so much perfection it stifles free expression. When the actors shed a tear, it trickles down only up to a certain point on the cheek. When the hair gets unruly in anger, all the wayward strands fall at a certain angle.Not to mention scores of bloggers who have some hilarious takes on the film. If you come by more of these, do let me know :)
Abhipraya found someone else doing the same thing here. Lotsa links there. She also points me to this, where Neha Viswanathan says: "Karan Johar - Alvida Kehdo. Please."
Tuesday, August 22, 2006
The weekend before Independence Day, we set out for Mangalore -- four of us, a black car, lots of snacks and a big green umbrella. The road was so good till Hassan that we made the distance in just about three hours. And then the nightmare started. There were almost no roads through the ghats. The roads seem to have been swept away by rain and the rest eaten up by the heavy lorry traffic. At turnings, we would come to a screeching halt because ahead, there would be nothing but a gaping hole.
But the route more than compensated for the state of the roads. The vast plains had been replaced by lush green hills. Blink and you miss a waterfall. And after a while, we were joined by a frothing brown river that roared on alongside all the way. Incessant rain, sometimes light and silent, sometimes hard and harsh, sometimes accompanied by a blanket of mist.
Suratkal was green. For a change (refreshing at that), it was a case of green eating into concrete, rather than concrete eating up green. Wild parasitic creepers spilling over tree tops, once well kept hedges and bushes growing in all directions, grass atop tiled roofs. Reason for absolute glee.
And the sea. I began the very trip with salty air swirling in my mind. Eventually the excitement hit such a high that no one around had much peace with me going "Let's go sea, let's go sea". Watched the sun go down, the lighthouse light up, the sand reflecting the sky.
Heading back to Bangalore, we made a detour to Belur. A large dark 800-year-old temple, wonderfully preserved, wonderful sculptures.
In four days, I got so used to open spaces and straight stretches of empty roads (the ghats excluded, of course) that the very thought of Bangalore was claustrophobic.
Tuesday, August 08, 2006
This man is someone I have seen at 90% of the press meets that I have attended in the last one year. A well dressed gentleman who asked his questions in a very soft voice. Apparently (according to the PR lady), he turns up at every press conference in a star hotel and gives an obscure name as the name of the organisation he represents. Always a different name. And gives a fake number every time. Again, always a different one. And this time, according to the PR lady, he had given the mobile number of the chap who had called the press conference. If that is indeed true, some cheek that is!
I've been wondering why he does this. Maybe he was once a journalist and now is jobless and misses being a journalist and attends press meets for old times' sake. Or maybe it's the food. He probably likes the star-hotel food but can't afford it on a daily basis, and so attends the press meets.
A free meal. Could that be the motive? Day after day after day.
Monday, August 07, 2006
The anger was painful. I wanted to punch that man as hard as I could, over and over again. I was restless, my palms itched. But what do you, apart from clenching your fist and cursing?
I need to smash a few plates.
Saturday, August 05, 2006
Let's go out for dinner then. A restaurant is chosen, which in itself is a task. Getting there involves navigating Brigade Road. Choked with pedestrians, cars, cops, parking attendants. One concludes that everyone in Bangalore must be on Brigade Road or heading to Brigade Road at this point.
We reach the restaurant. It's full. A table in the next 45 minutes, that's the best they can offer. Let's try the next. Same story. So we try the next, and the next, and the next. So one concludes, everyone in Bangalore must be eating out tonight.
Finally head home, pick up a movie from the local CD lending library, pack food from the neighbourhood Chinese joint, and sprawl on the futon. Home is the place to be during weekends.
Friday, August 04, 2006
Friday, July 28, 2006
Three youngsters trying to meet the Prime Minister of India: Just zoom past hordes of security persons in a Sonata, right up to the PM’s house and ask for him.
Looks like I’d rather try meeting the PM than watch a movie at a multiplex!
Thursday, July 27, 2006
Allow me to explain the concept of Surprise Day.
See, for San and me, our celebrations – birthdays, anniversaries etc – are over and done with in three consecutive months. The rest of the year is just dry, with no reason to wrap up gifts, or cut cakes, or send flowers, or light candles, which I find very unfair (of course I am not counting the big festivals, which are anyway family events). So then, if everything in the world from anti-smoking campaigns to your pet dog has a dedicated day of celebration, then why not a day for surprises?
Going by that theory, sometime last week I declared July 26 as Surprise Day. The rules are simple. I throw him a surprise, and he throws me a surprise. Anything, as long as it is not nasty. And it was a grand success : )
I reached office to find a bunch of blood red carnations waiting for me. And I spent the rest of the day explaining to people that there was no particular reason for my husband sending me flowers. “No, it is not my birthday. No, it is not our anniversary. No, this is neither the day we first met, nor the day he proposed. It is just another day. No we DID NOT have a fight. No, he is not going to be travelling for the next six months. It is simply a day made brighter with flowers.” Evening saw me rushing to get home before him, armed with a bottle of wine and lots of candles. The look on his face was precious!
Spread the word of the Surprise Day. Pick a day of your convenience. Sure, just the act of naming a day for surprises takes away a bit of the surprise, but then the build up of suspense is awesome. You start with “Will he remember?” go on to “What would it be?” and “When will it be?”
Monday, July 24, 2006
When I was some 10 or 12, we had a guest at home, and my father commented at some point that I don't like him smoking. The guest (I have no recollection of who the chap was) immediately said, "Oh, so you are a feminist?"
Today, during a three-minute discussion on whether I am a feminist or not, someone told me that for some reason he has always related anything to do with feminism with me. He asked me if I am "anti-men".
I will tell people to quit smoking regardless of whether they are male or female. It has nothing to do with feminism.
If I were anti-men, I wouldn't be married.
There are many more things like that. The typical egoistic Malayali man with his 18th century attitude towards women I find obnoxious. Does that mean I am a feminist?
I believe women should be given equal opportunities in every field. Heck, we are in the 21st century, we should have stopped debating this point decades ago! Anyway, does this make me a feminist?
Am I a feminist because I lash out at men who try to paw me?
Or am I a feminist because I have a job and lead an independent life?
Well, I never though of myself as a feminist, and I don't know if I am one. Someone tell me if I am.
Saturday, July 22, 2006
I have tried many things so far -- have pleaded, have offered to ghost write for him, have threatened to kick him out of this space. None of those worked. Though now he is the one pleading -- pleading not to be thrown out of this blog.
Anyway, I am now putting it in the public domain. It may work. I don't think anything else will. So here goes. San, please write.
Friday, July 21, 2006
India is still a relatively conservative society. Very few couples live together before marriage, and intimate acts, such as kissing, are never seen on TV screens.
However, soaps regularly feature storylines about infidelity and pregnancy out of wedlock.
Heheh! The western world must think we are one confused people!
Anyway, that article was about the reality show Big Brother, which is soon hitting Indian screens. But the version we see here will not have anything to do with sex, since we are scared of that word. Read about that here.
Thursday, July 20, 2006
It could be a reporter’s trauma when his story is slashed and pretty much reduced to tatters.
It may signify that a newspaper office is pretty much like a battle field.
It may be a warning as to how grim things may get.
As Guernica bears silent witness to the editorial meetings, I stare at it and gulp…
Wednesday, July 19, 2006
I am done with feeling infuriated about it. Now I hope just someone knocks some sense into the government. Allow us peace-loving bloggers to continue with our harmless rambling…
Wednesday, July 12, 2006
Monday, July 10, 2006
Which reminds me of a theory of mine... Why do you think the elders insist on marriage? They have learned from experience that managing a husband is very very similar to managing a child. So if one is married at least for a year before having kids, one knows what to expect from the kid. Managing the husband becomes practical lessons on how to bring up the kid.
Good no? :)
I finally found the right pair of jeans, but only after being told by a young salesman that the very high waist jeans are worn by "housewives and very traditional girls". So disapproving was he of one such which I liked for its colour, that I finally obliged him and chose a not-so-low waist one. Nevertheless, comfortable as hell.
I didn't cook one bit because we've run out of gas and the gas company refused to give us a refill until we wrote them a letter saying we need refills only once in six or seven months, because that is our rate of consumption. The lady who was supposed to take the booking had thought we had left the country because they hadn't heard from us for so long. But waat to do, that is all the cooking we do...
Ended the Sunday with some new friends, a lot of music, a lot of gobi manchurian, a long drive and of course, football.
And yay, Federer is King! :)
Sunday, July 09, 2006
To discuss who looks like who, and who has got who’s expression.
To discuss where the old over-sized hooded jacket has disappeared in the last ten years.
To discuss the viability of people, of situations, and of ideas.
To sit in Koshy’s and discuss how to control the decibel level there on weekends: Waves of silence and noise could be created by flashing a light bulb on and off. But no one would notice the bulb. Then let’s control the entire lighting of Koshy’s – dim means you stay silent, bright means you talk. Or we could have decibel level monitors. If you cross a certain limit, a bell would go off. No, better still to have ejector chairs so that if you cross the decibel limit, your chair ejects you.
To discuss how the house has grown; how from a building on a bare bit of land it has grown, evolved, matured, as a home.
Saturday, July 08, 2006
Friday, July 07, 2006
And if you don't want to go to the link but are still curious, it's acrid, they tell us.
So, I indulge in some Neruda. One of my favourites.
Ode to the Sea
Surrounding the island
But what sea?
It's always overflowing.
Then no again,
In sea spray
And no again.
It can't be still.
My name is sea.
It slaps the rocks
And when they aren't convinced,
And soaks them
And smothers them with kisses.
With seven green tongues
Of seven green dogs
Or seven green tigers
Or seven green seas,
Beating its chest,
Stammering its name,
This is your name.
Oh comrade ocean,
Don't waste time
Getting so upset
Help us instead.
We are meager fishermen,
Men from the shore
Who are hungry and cold
And you're our foe.
Don't beat so hard,
Don't shout so loud,
Open your green coffers,
Place gifts of silver in our hands.
Give us this day our daily fish.
Monday, July 03, 2006
How many times I have wanted to strangle nasty men with their own ties. Just one pull, and watch their faces going red, blue, purple. I still nurture the dream of tying this particular chap to the coffee machine with his tie, or trap the tie between the doors of the lift.
Now would probably be a good time to assert that I dislike ties. Absolutely abhor them. They just doesn't serve any purpose, are mostly ghastly in colours and designs, and make a perfectly respectable guy look funny. Why do people wear it at all? There is a nice Malayalam expression that quite describes how ridiculous the tie looks, but I don't want to mention it here :) Anyway, the only reasonable explanation I ever got in favour of a tie was that you could use it to wipe your mouth after eating.
While we are on the subject of clothing, have you tried shopping for jeans recently? Women are getting a raw deal, I say. Search all you want, but the only kind of jeans you will find are "low-cut flare". Which means if you wear them, there will be precious little covering your behind, but metres of cloth flapping around your ankles.
Where are those perfect, normal jeans? If you don't want the low-cut-flare types, your only choice is the uni-sex jeans, which are actually just the men's jeans. And to say they are bad fits will be putting it very mildly.
What happened to the right to choice? Isn't there a right like that? I want my normal jeans, and I want them in normal shades of blue. Not the ragged ones, not the sequined or beaded ones, just plain, normal and blue.
Saturday, July 01, 2006
There was this book launch in Landmark once, and there was a discussion on cricket as part of the launch. Press was invited. There were Sanjay Manjrekar, Ramchandra Guha and others, along with the author, on the discussion panel. As usual, the MC requested everyone to turn off/silence their mobile phones.
The discussion was in full flow and Guha was in his element narrating one of his favourite cricketing anecdotes when the phone of a reporter sitting right in the front let out a full throated song. Guha froze, fixed his eyes on the chap, and I knew that if I was at the other end of the glare, I would have turned to ash in about 35 seconds. But not our pal. He took a few seconds to realise he has to make the phone stop ringing, fished it out from somewhere, took his time in figuring out the number, decided this was a call he had to take, and slowly ambled out. On his way out (phone still wailing), Guha shouted at him, "I can out-shout a mobile phone any day!"
Just today, I was at another event. A meeting with about 60 people, two speakers. One of them was animatedly explaining his project, when the phone of the chap at the very front (why do they always sit in the front?) burst into an orchestra piece. The speaker stopped, and stood there looking at him. Every one else in the room, including the light and sound guy, sat there looking at him. And him? He sat there looking at his phone. No kidding. He just sat there and stared at the phone. After an agonisingly long wait, he cut the call. With this look of disgust on his face, the speaker asked everyone to put their phones on silent mode, and continued. Barely three minutes, and the darn phone starts singing again. Now the speaker wore a look of utter disbelief. Anyway, this time chap was faster in cutting the call. Another five minutes and one hears another phone ringing, and I looked around for a target for my glare. It was the same guy! And he was fishing out his second phone from the depths of his pocket.
Really, thick skin or skull?
Friday, June 30, 2006
Hasn't this happened to you? You go to a restaurant, the person who is with you gets a call, he/she spends what seems like hours on the phone, while you while away time by playing Snake on the phone or staring around. And then you get a call, it's this long lost friend, and in delight you yap away. Meanwhile your companion has finished the call and is staring around. Somewhere in between the calls and the SMSs and Snake and the staring, you finish lunch, and you go your own ways. And then you slap your forehead and say, "Shucks, I forgot to tell him this this this and this." So you call up the person you met just a couple of hours ago. In the meantime, someone is waiting around to have a word with you. And so it goes on, and on, and on.
There are so many Days -- Mothers, Fathers, Friends, Doctors, Kidneys. There should be a "No Mobile Phone Day". And on that day, let's all sit and talk to people who are with us, around us.
Tuesday, June 27, 2006
And I can't believe that I didn't even hear a crash, a sigh. All I noticed was the extra sunlight that the room was suddenly getting. A curious peek outside and there it was -- 11 trees, mercilessly chopped, their roots pulled out.
How many times I had told myself I should just buy that plot of land! We had even pictured the house that could be built there, my mother and I. With a wide verandah opening to the row of trees. And a hammock between the first two trees. Oh well, somewhere we knew that the days of the trees were numbered.
I suppose the only ones who will even notice the change, let alone miss the trees, will be me and a couple of cows who regularly took shelter there.
I am moving some place else.
Monday, June 26, 2006
I am not even getting into Bollywood representing Indian culture at the Commonwealth Games. But take at least the case of this annual extravaganza called the IIFA awards. It's supposedly the International "Indian Film" Academy. If it is truly Indian, then where the hell is other regional cinema? Where are Bengali films, where are Assamese films, where are Malayalam films? Priyadarshan picks a Malayalam film and does a Hindi remake of it, and lo and behold, it has become Indian cinema.
Bollywood is not India, and India is not Bollywood. I wish, I hope, hell I demand, that people stop calling the Bollywood dance and drama Indian cinema.
At home everyone leaves you alone: "She's studying, leave her alone." You are pampered: "You hungry? You want anything to eat? I'll drop you to the college in the morning." If the exam wasn't all that great, it's still ok: "You will pass, won't you? That's enough." Now it is very important that you don't do the exam-writing too often. I mean, none of this happens when you are writing exams all the while. No one drops you anywhere, you better be studying because that is all you have to do, and you better score well -- just manage to scrape through and you have had it for life. So, now you try it. :)
And I would write exams only during rains. Any other time, it would be criminal to waste three hours. But when it rains, sitting in a grand old college, looking out the grand old windows at the lazy misty rain falling on the grand old tree is rather dream like. Oh yes, and answer a few questions too :)
Well anyway, the first time I stepped into a city bus this time, I realised that I had actually been missing those bus rides! Women in the front, men at the back. Even in the most crowded of buses -- in which you have people standing on your feet and hanging on your hair -- the conductor will still shout out "Move in, there's enough space there to play football". Heheh! I immediately have this vision of people actually trying to play a game of football and making a complete mess of it.
Oh that reminds me. A few years ago, someone came up with the brainwave that city buses caused so many accidents because the driver, instead of concentrating on the road, flirted with the women or tried showing off. So promptly there came a new rule that women shall use the back door and occupy that part of the bus. But that didn't quite work. The habit of all those years just couldn't be broken. So they reverted to the old system, but this time made it mandatory that all buses have these bars across the front so that no one could stand anywhere near the driver. Even that rule didn't get much far. In those rush hours, when the conductor lectured about the game of football one could be playing, women and children just squeezed past the barricades. I am yet to see any statistics proving that the rule made a difference in the accident rates.
Wednesday, June 14, 2006
Remember those days when we used to write to each other? Any letter was greeted with a whoop of joy. We would turn it around, trying to guess whose it could be. The handwriting, the stamp, the seal on the stamp, all clues. We would finally rip open the bursting envelope, you carefully cutting the edge, me clawing holes into it.
And then minutes and hours spent reading it, re-reading it. Forming replies in your head as you read. We would then carry it around in our bags, the envelope absorbing the smell of the books, pencil, pebbles and random other things we carried in them. And a warm afternoon we would sit down to reply. Limited vocabulary, poor spelling, bad handwriting and spreading ink were never obstacles. Events of the week or month that went by, trivial, now that I think of it. But meant the world then.
The letter would be sealed with such care. Sometimes a pretty sticker on the back of the envelope for effect. Sometimes gently opening it again to add something you forgot. Trying to disguise your handwriting so that I wouldn't realise it is you. And that letter too would live in the bag for a few days, gathering smells.
Now all I get in the post are disappointingly empty bank statements and reminders that the car is due for a service.
Monday, June 12, 2006
And it has taken me this long to realise that the early bird doesn't always get the worm. There's this play in the evening, you reach well in time, and then you wait and wait and wait for all those impolite late comers to come and take their seats. By the time it starts some half an hour late, you are tired of waiting. And you ask, hey I was here first, where's my worm? You get to the airport early so that you get the seat in the emergency aisle, lots of leg room and all that. And you realise that the best seats have already been taken by all those chaps with privilege cards who can do a tele-check-in or an online check-in. Hello?? Can't you at least keep some good fat worms for those who religiously come early??
Think about it, there are plenty of such examples around you. Reject the worm, I say.
Saturday, June 10, 2006
Friday, June 09, 2006
10.10AM: Inaugural speech by HE the President of India, Dr APJ Abdul Kalam
10.30AM: Key note address by HE the Governor of Karnataka, TN Chaturvedi
I found it highly amusing. I mean, what is that "HE" all about?! Sounded like "HE the Supreme Being". You get what I mean?
So anyway, I am sitting at the venue, giggling over the HE and to share my mirth, I turned to this journalist sitting next to me whom I had just met, and said something to the effect of "Isn't that funny, the way they refer to them as HE?" She peered over her glasses with this strange look and said "That's short for His Excellency".
Uh... Either I should figure out these short forms, or I should learn not to sound witty around strangers.
Someday I will try and work out what part of my life I have waited in bus-stops. From the school bus, to the crowded red ones, to the 27H that never came. It starts pretty early in life, this waiting for the bus. But when you try to kill time by counting vehicles when waiting for that school bus, little do you realise that this is only the beginning of a life-long series.
You wait for your favourite TV show to start, you wait during the commercial breaks. You wait for your mother to wake up from her afternoon siesta so you have someone to talk to. You wait at a cafe for a friend, singing songs in your head. You wait impatiently for a class to end.
You wait for the boy to grow into a man and give up his childish fancies. You wait for the man to realise you are the one he's looking for.
Patience once gave way to mere impatience. Now it gives way to the urge to do something rather than waiting for that something to happen. Someday, it will give way to resignation.
Meanwhile, I wait for life to take another interesting turn.
Thursday, June 08, 2006
What problem is so complicated that it can’t be talked out? What wound is so deep that time and life can’t heal? What question is so difficult that you would do anything not to face it?
What is it that you achieve from taking your life? Have you been so wronged by loved ones that you avenge yourself by taking your life? Is the pain you go through in killing yourself worth the trauma you put others through? Is one so selfish?
Why? I mean, just why?
It will never make any sense to me, this act called suicide.
Tuesday, June 06, 2006
It's been so long since I saw one! Pity was there was no one around to shout and point it out to. Among the grim faces of fellow journalists, chose a more friendly looking one and said "Look!" And he said, "Ah, rainbow", a flicker of a smile flashed across his face, and he was back to scowling at people around.
Which reminds me of a theory of mine -- that journalists after years of cynicism and emotionally detaching themselves from the issues they write about, eventually become detached from any emotion whatsoever while they are on work.
But I shall clap, I shall giggle when jokes are cracked, and I shall get excited about rainbows. So there!
Monday, June 05, 2006
I was at this luncheon party a few months ago. A quiet neighbourhood in the heart of the city. It had this delightful little balcony, with a tree drooping over it and many more trees in the backdrop, which was basically some apartment blocks. But with a lawn also thrown in, it was as green as it can get in a city.
This boy of four (or three, or somewhere in between three and four) trotted up to the balcony and stood by the railings, peering through them at the trees. And he turned around and lisped, "Elephants will come now from there." To indulge him, I said, "Really? From where?" So he pointed to the trees and said with as much conviction as his voice could express: "From there. Elephants will come. They will come and ask for food."
I smiled indulgently and thought how fertile his imagination was. By which time his mother had also walked up, and she explained: "Ever since we went to the Bannerghatta National Park and he saw elephants there, he thinks that wherever there are trees, there will be elephants."
This incident came back to me today when I saw most of the dailies sporting a picture of a tree to mark World Environment Day.
How sad are we, that children think three puny trees form a forest?
The rest of the article here.
The Earth will continue to warm and, if we don't cut back, temperatures could increase by almost 6 degreeC - more than the change between the last ice age and now. The change will be most noticeable in northern latitudes where permafrost will continue to melt, causing oil pipelines to buckle and houses to sink in the mud. Polar bears will lose their sources of food and may have to move into populated areas to survive, as the Arctic ice melts. In Africa drought and starvation threatens not only man but hippos, gazelles and freshwater fish. The continent, already hot, is destined to get even hotter.
Closer to home, the kind of summer we had in 2003, with record temperatures, may well become the norm by 2060. Many deaths will result. Water shortages could become far worse as summers, insufficiently compensated by wetter winters, get hotter and drier.
Our grandchildren are unlikely to see snow - as we highlighted in The Mirror last month - and many parts of Britain could be under water. We could even find that tropical diseases, such as malaria, become endemic and there will be an increase in skin cancer.
WINTER sports will die out in Scotland. Even in the Alps many resorts will have little or no snow. Those that do could find many more avalanches and little skiing below 6,000ft.
Some holiday destinations, such as the Maldives, could be under water and the coral reefs bleached by high sea temperatures. Already Australia's Great Barrier Reef is severely damaged.
The Mediterranean will suffer from increased pollution, heat stress, forest fires and drought.
In Florida and the Caribbean the sea level rise will drown many of the wetlands and everglades, not helped by more violent hurricanes. The great Amazon forest has already suffered unprecedented drought with many trees dying. If this continues the "lungs of the world" could become
just a gasp.
Sunday, June 04, 2006
That girl there with ironed out straight hair and perfectly shaped eyebrows and painted red lips is no different from this girl here with straight hair and perfectly shaped eyebrows and painted red lips. Are they all made the same way these days, or is there a conspiracy among beauty parlours to make all women look the same?
Or is it that they all want to look the same? One day you find that one straight-haired girl has decided to get her hair coloured. You sigh in relief: Ah, there is at least one that I can now identify. And then next day you see all those straight-haired babes have gone and coloured their hair.
Sigh... I am bad enough in relating a face to a name -- it's all a huge unorganised pile up there in my brain. And doesn't look like things are going to be any easier.
And hey, no offence meant to all the straight-haired women out there! All in good spirit :)
Saturday, June 03, 2006
Friday, June 02, 2006
Two years ago, I was One. An individual. People asked, "How are you?" Then one day, my identity was halved. And as though that wasn't enough, the other half was known as the better half. I became the not-so-good half. Now people ask, "How is your better half?" It is an entirely different story that they don't bother asking how I am.
It is all very well to say that love is all about one soul in two bodies and that in marriage the husband and wife are one. I still am one single person, you see. I have not halved myself. I do not have another half. Moreover, how dare someone say that I got married to half a person? Hell, he is just as whole as I am.
So, the next time someone asks me about better halves, well, I will direct her/him to this post. :)
Tuesday, May 30, 2006
My reaction: To go up to the obviously blind driver, shake him by the shoulder and scream "why why why???" Ummm... no, actually, I only think I should do that, don’t ever do it.
Scene 2: It’s a oneway. Traffic at snail’s pace. Everyone headed in the same direction. A moron in an SUV with horns blaring and lights flashing trying to nudge you out of the way. And you stuck with nowhere to move, no space to give way.
My reaction: To march up to the chap (the traffic is anyway nearly at a standstill), drag out the driver, point out the lack of space and scream "where the hell do you want to go???" Again, that is only what I should be doing, not what I do.
Someone please explain to me -- why do people honk like this? It can’t always be an emergency and a case of life and death. Also, can someone please invent a vehicle armour that will reflect all the sound waves produced by a horn back to the source? At least then the horn happy buggers will realise what they are doing.
Monday, May 29, 2006
What is it about the monsoon and the homesick mind? Maybe because it never rains anywhere like it rains back home. No sight will be as enticing as water collecting under the mango tree in the front yard, as seen from the window of your cosy room. No where else will you find a similar green, as seen from the terrace of my home after a shower.
But twirling my umbrella and plodding along MG Road, unwittingly caught in a channel of filthy water gushing to meet more filthy water, I can't but hum. It is, after all, monsoon.
Talking of monsoon, there was recently a photo exhibition of rains in the Malabar region of Kerala. Photographs by my friend, NP Jayan. Read about it here, and take a look at his work here.
Sunday, May 28, 2006
Hmmm... Let's see where this goes from here.