Thursday, December 25, 2008

XXXxxxx...... mas is here!

It's Christmas and I am getting just a wee bit nostalgic.

I don't like being away from home, and not being able to hang my smelly socks in my parents' loo. Come to think of it, that's the same reason that I'm not too happy being over the big Three-Oh. I mean, if I was to hark back to a fuzzy yonder and put my smelly socks up in gleeful anticipation, some people might think it to be a sign of either late retardation or early dementia.

Whatever you may think, I miss that happy little custom, though I'm sure Dad (Ooops! I mean, Santa.. nudge nudge, wink wink!) must be heaving a sigh of relief, year upon year, and sending a prayer to the North Pole that his pesky kids don't get extended Christmas breaks from their quest for bread n wine to come knocking on his loo door anymore. In any case, by the time the tradition tapered off, as we flew off to faraway Christmases, in pursuit of our dreams, he had started stuffing crisp notes in our not-so-crisp discards, and everyone woke up happy on Christmas morning.

I just remembered... Why did I never get that xylophone I pestered Santa for ... in fact, it's the one item on my list that failed to find it's way into my stinky stocking, year after disappointing year. Maybe I gave him too many OR... OR... options, in neat alphabetical order, and we never did get to the X? Hold on a sec, did he never bother to read the entire list EVER, always stopping at A??? No wonder I got Appalacian springs water, Aroma candles, Alcoholics Anonymous t-shirts, Apple flavour ganja, Aamir's headband from QSQT, Anil Kapoor's chest hair.... etc etc, but never the damn Xylophone! Too late to start a backwards list, you think? Sigh..

Then in boarding school Christmas came a month early as we kickstarted the cheer before leaving for the winter holidays... Sweet ol' Mrs. John would dress up as Santa and come riding through the dining room at dinnertime, throwing paan flavoured sweets and orange candies all around the benches, while I stoically refrained from lunging at the goodies, given my strict rule: "Thou shalt not get excited by free food", the one thing I never did outgrow, despite having joined a profession that frowns upon such terribly non-aggressive starvation-by-choice type behaviour. Most journos, like lawyers, should suffix three letters to their names, L.L.F.... a.k.a Long Live Freebies! Me? I'm a stubborn fake.

Sometimes I think of the way Christmas is changing and will continue to change over the years, as we Indians clumsily embrace it in a giant bear hug. I just heard of a bakery, with branches in the Punjoo heartlands of Karol Bagh and Rajouri Garden no less, which offers the best Christmas cake in town. Imagine that, amid the chhola bhatooras, tikki bhalla papri chaat Roshan di kulfi and mixed froot joos, and you know that here it's a very Brown Christmas. Oops! Have i crossed the LoPC - the Line of Political Correctness?

Can you think of a PC X-mas? Santa would have to either shape up or ship out. And I mean that both literally and figuratively. See, we can't call him fat, for that would amount to outraging the sensibilities of the weight-challenged, and even if we addressed the reality suitably, these high cholesterol, hypertensive, junk-the-junk times that we are living in demand that he start sending out a more.... errr.... be-FIT-ting message to the mortal millions. Maybe we could help by putting out digestive sugar free cookies with some soy milk for the ol' man.

A more svelte Santa? Nah.... But then do spare a thought to those poor reindeer, lugging him and the presents around. Animal rights, shmaminal rights, you say! I say maybe it's time to start demanding e-vouchers to cut down on shipment costs and give the red-nosed one and his friends a break. Besides, global warming will soon ensure that they have no snow to run in and the given the abomination of, and social censure attached to, parking in the PH spots, Santa'd have absolutely no place to park his sleigh... unless he's willing to pay the congestion charges up there and the MCD's overnight rates down here. Ah, the sleight of fate!

And finally, do you really think it's advisable to go shouting Ho-Ho-Ho in the streets these days? But then the proof of the (Christmas) pudding is in the eating right? Go try it, I say!

Oh Oh Ohhhhh......

Merry Christmas, y'all ;)

Monday, December 1, 2008

We, the 'notion'

I’ve been too upset to write. Smile even. How would you feel if armed men barged into your living room and took you hostage; merely because you were pig-headed enough to allow those responsible for your security to make you believe that no one could get to you at home? It’s what I have been feeling ever since I turned on my TV on Wednesday night. Enraged. Helpless. Vulnerable. Violent. Violated. And intensely stupid for allowing things to get to a point where a bunch of sadistic men could drag a country like ours down to its knees.

In the last few days, I have sat at my workstation as blaring televisions and uncaring news anchors wove a tragic web around what I consider as the most serious affront to our nation, unable to go through words that needed my attention, yet unable to tear my eyes away from the events (and their reportage) long enough to have a good cry. I have sat stunned with friends who, with their eyes brimming with tears, have variously screamed obscenities at politicians of all faiths, the central government, Islamic fundamentalists, Hindu apologists, Pakistan, the intelligence apparatus and even defunct metal detectors and dopey security guards. But somehow I can’t shake off the feeling that the blame must lie collectively with all of us who call ourselves Indian. It’s all very well to blame Pakistan and lament the futile inhumanity of terrorism, but we have enough self-goals on the board to disqualify as the deserving citizens of a mature democracy. Without any help from the Pakis. And this is our wake-up call.

I ask myself this. How can we blame our leaders for politicising terror, while we continue to allow incendiary politicians to ghettoise us against those with whom we don’t share a caste, state or religious beliefs? Can we really blame the electronic media for allowing crucial rescue operations to be compromised, even as we are so apathetic that accident victims lie on roads for hours while we all try to overtake ambulances carrying critical patients? How can we blame terrorists for leveraging the indifference of a nation, while we continue to feed the frenzy of 24 hour news updates, yet don’t report swerving drunks flashing beer bottles in cars to the nearest police post for potentially endangering lives?

How can we completely dismiss the notion that some of our own might be involved when we all have, at some time in the past, argued with or thrown big names and petty cash at a policeman simply for violating traffic rules? How can we theorise about porous borders while we continue to balk at security checks in public places? How can we blame corrupt and inefficient politicians even as we continue to think that it’s okay to not vote for all the difference that it won’t make? Most of all, how can we allow ourselves to forget that this has happened before and will happen again, lest we forget.

Through all the despair, the courage of ordinary people, doing what they do best – whether it is protecting, defending or serving others – is what I wish to choose as my enduring memory from the horror of the past days. In fact, I was most struck by a statement made by a British gentleman who was rescued from the Trident/Oberoi. After praising the hotel staff for their courage and service, under fire, he said something to the effect that it is this Indian spirit that the tourism industry should flaunt as its USP. I use the word 'spirit' in as far removed a manner as it has been (ab)used by our impotent politicians. I speak of it as our only hope. For the tragedy and loss is not Mumbai's cross to bear alone. Nor is the ‘spirit’. And that is something we tend to forget too often.

A recent personal experience has made me realise that neither the arrogance of ‘this can’t happen to me’ nor the confused vulnerability of ‘why me’, can shield us from what lies in store, or prepare us for the tough battle ahead. Sadly, we in India have chosen for too long to be victims of both.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Say, what! But.... obviously?

There are questions that people sometimes ask, the answers to which should be obvious (duh..uh!). But, for some unfathomable reason, aren't to those who so infuriatingly continue to ask 'em. Sample some of these, as also the real answers they deserve, instead of the usually baffled and slow "ye...aaah":

In a movie theatre:
Q: Heyyyy, are you also watching the movie?
A: You think? Actually I've just followed you here so I can stick my much-chewed bubble gum in your over-sprayed hair. And I hear the popcorn's low fat. Gonna carry that back to watch Seinfeld re-runs at home, right after I stick your head onto the bucket seat.

In a shopping mall:
Q:Oh, hi what are you doing here?
A: Hmmm... Nothing much. Just here to push some kids down escalators, right before I wire the underground lot to explode once I exit. And I hear Balaji's holding auditions for their next Baa the Agelss at the ground level. My gawd, have you registered yet?

On a flight to Goa:
Q: Hi, Where are you guys off to?
A: Dunno about you, but this plane's going to Waziristan. (Oops have I said too much??) Ummm... err... excuse me.... oh blast it all.... where the hell is that plastic fork I lifted from the salad bar?!!

At a wedding:
Q: My God, do you also know these guys?
A: Not really, just that the groom and I sort of go back a long way... We were, like, co-kidnapees a while ago, and we both suffered from the Stockholm syndrome, you know, fell in love with our kidnapper and had a kinda' threesome and all that. Oh, but that was a while ago and as you can see we've all moved on... BTW, he's at Guantanamo now.

In the maternity ward:
Q: Omigosh, you're having a baby?
A: Not really, I was abducted by aliens and held captive by mutant lizards. They visit me sometimes and only go away if I steal a new-born baby for them every once in a while. And the tummy? There was this strange thing they fed me on Mars....

At a high-priced sold-out cricket match:
Q: Oh God, do you like cricket too?
A: No, No. I'm actually working for PETA these days and am monitoring Harbhajan Singh. Just here to watch out for any verbal abuse involving Symonds... oooops! simians, I mean. Ah, miss those good old days when people would just stick to calling fat Pak captains a starchy veggie... These animals, I tell ya'!

And finally, what is it with people who respond to a humbly offered "I'm sorry" with an arrogant "You ought to be!" But I just said I am... Oh, bollocks to it all!!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Grouchy and hungover

Since I slept only after six in the morning and was at work, bleary-eyed and beery-fied, by 11:30, I suppose I could very well have left it at that, but then there's more where that came from. So, here goes my Gripe of the Day:

The very same evening that you decide to snip off your talons, AND drink a gallon of beer at a pre-wedding party, why is it that the naara (cord holdin' it all together!) of your salwaar will always-always somehow manage to tie you hopelessly up in knots at the exact same (inopportune) time that you have finally found a moment to unshackle yourself from the mind-numbing, yawn-inducing stories of leech-type relatives/acquaintances and hit the loo? Why, pray? Why?

Head-on collision with one embarrasingly damp salwaar avoided successfully, and that too just in the nick o' time, you will hear a sonorous "Ah, there you are!" just as you make a beeline for the safe confines of that dark li'l corner where similarly beseiged co-sufferers have taken refuge and are discreetly waving at you to make a dash for cover. Alas! The three-inch heels have ensured you are a head taller than even most of the men in the room, AND you gave up hunching along with your braces in the 9th grade. Would I coulda done the same with civility....

So while I'm having a whale of a time (sans replenished beer mug in hand), listening to yet another story about how Master bada shetaan hai! Bunty is such a wholesome, delightful little moppet, since he can dance to "Haai Pappi", chant the Gayatri Mantra and look up women's skirts with quite the same aplomb, I've reconciled myself to my fate and am now thinking this:

Why doesn't India have anyone in the government who even remotely looks like David Miliband?

Monday, November 17, 2008

Little solace and a quantum of disappointment

So, as you can sort of guess, I have crossed over, from the bleak ranks of the unfortunate few who have still not seen the new Bond flick, on to the other, not-so-happy side. Bond or bust? That was the hottest topics of debate in our daily meetings this past week.

Now i must say that I'd like to take a Buddhist stand on it: that of the middle path fame. Neither loved it nor hated it, drooled as usual over craggy Craig, wished I was born in the Ukraine to a Mr and Mrs Kurylenko and like any hot-blooded Bond buff, was mighty upset about the absence of all those flashy gadgets from the latest edition.

C'mon all you Broccolis or whoever at Eon!! Who wants vegetarian sophistication (an eco-terrorist?? Oh, puhleeeeze!), when we can have all-you-can-endure red-meaty kitsch?? You can get a measure of my frustration that when Mr. Bond handed out his visiting card to this guy in one scene, I fully expected it to blow up in the dude's face, even though I knew this was a much-used old trick from the annals of spying :)

Also, James has somehow transformed into Jason. Of the Bourne fame, and while you can assess the quantum of my longing for another Bourne show here, I can't make-do with an altered version of my favourite spy to scratch that itch! You see, it's to do with all that visceral hand-to-hand combat stuff, where our James is busy killing with more than just his roguish charm, which he seems to have dropped along the way, together with his penchant for shaken martinis. And Danny Boy's surely earned my name for him: Bond. Thames Bond. Ooooh, icy.

Still, I like my Jameses different from my Jasons. So in the next one, let's see some more of your tools, boy! ;)

Friday, November 14, 2008

God, an Old Lady, and the Word

I did the unthinkable last evening. I swore in a house of worship. That too on the biggest b'day bash of the year at the said house. Sort of, ummm.... because I was, partially, pissed off by a Rep of the Order. I had reason but perhaps no justification. Yes the two are different.

There is this (hopefully not too blasphemous, and certainly NOT made up by me) joke about Lord Hanuman, in which a Surdy claims that the monkey god was one of his kin, making the rather irrefutable argument that no one else would have been that eager to set his tail on fire in another man's battle against the man who kidnapped his wife. In other words, you neither get the babe nor the glory. And THAT my friends is what happened to another Surdy.

So, a security guard wouldn't let this old lady's car up the ramp. Apparently because such guards are always under orders from the powers that be to brook no resistance whatsoever from those who aren't happy with the basement parking lot, and here no distinction is to be made between kids on roller blades and tottering old aunties.

Unfortunately for the guard, while I was dutifully parking my car in the dungeon, I saw a couple of cars go up the ramp, with no distinguishing features whatsoever that indicated the reasons for this horrid man's preferential treatment, and was instantly enraged about the plight of the old old Auntyji. So even as the nasty man in ill-fitting uniform brushed aside the weak protests of the faithful old pilgrim's kin, I took it upon myself to argue her case.

Very politely. But then it got ugly. Rapidly. He shouted. I lost it. And so I turned to another man in holier uniform. Only to get an unholier shock when he told me to stop lying in a place of worship, saying that no cars had gone up the ramp (i could see them even as he spoke). Then he made matters worse by informing me that his conclusion was the only correct one and that its authenticity was based solely and surely on the fact that he was drinking a glass of "holy" milk, on which he kept his hand and swore. Yes he did. To imply that only the truly depraved would doubt such an oath, which should be treated as being purer than the cream in his rapidly cooling cup, and more unquestionable than the integrity of our politicians.

And that's when I used the 87+13-96 letter word. In my defense, it was mumbled so far under my breath that i could hear my one ear saying to the other "Eh, did you 'ear that??". (Sorry, terrible one.) But HE knows I said it. And it was HIS birthday.

I'm sorry I spoilt your party with my momentary lapse in judgement. Just don't hold it against me. I promise never to help any old, defenseless ladies ever again. Unless asked by them specifically, on a sworn affidavit signed by the Pope. I swear. Shit. Cancel that one too, please. Thanks, I do love you. And I know my way of doing that is not in any manual, but then that's why you created only one of me.

Phew! Thank heavens for that, eh? :)

Monday, November 10, 2008

Some kinda blue

I looked outside my window this morning only to see that the smog's come early to Delhi this time, becoming thicker as the day wears on, and choking the pale sunlight, till nothing remains but the dusty olive outlines of past-monsoon trees. The world looks like a laminated photograph, made timelessly grainy by its faithfulness to the forgotten wall to which it clings.

Driving to and from work on such a smoggy day, I feel much like an impatient puppy trying to get out of a grey sheet thrown on it by a bunch of frisky kids, one who's heart is just not in the game, and who emerges from its unwelcome, raspy cocoon only to listlessly whimper back inside and snooze after discovering that its tormentors have forgotten all about it anyway and moved on to play "ice-pice"at the neighbour's. Yeah that's what all us kids called it way back then (and probably do) and yes, that's exactly what a smog filled day in Delhi feels like when you're just ever so slightly sad, and can't pinpoint the exact time of, or reason for, being hit by the weepy wave.

I feel treacle-tired, like you would get if you were to wade through a stream of treacle... your limbs feel syrupy and all you want to do is either let the sweetness lull you under or over to the other side: the one that's waiting for your warmth starved soul like a hot shower and a plate of eggs, sunny side-up.

I do believe the sun's on the other side of this moony Monday and till it's back peeping through my window again, I guess I'll just have to rustle up a reverie to cheer myself up and out of my melancholic meanderings. Hmmmm..... Bahama-mamas on the beach anyone?

Friday, November 7, 2008

The wrong end

Unlike Terminator (who is robotically programmed to warn of his return), but very much like Delhi's dengue (with its element of "surprise", year after bloodsucking year, season after unprepared season), I'm back.

Tough luck for those of you who thought the squeak had been silenced for good. C'mon, don't be greedy. You only get to say goodbye to one freak this week, and George W. Bush has a head start on the packing. So, as a welcome present to myself, I present to you......

The Ridiculousest Quote of the Day.

(Note: There always are more than one here, in our great nation, on any given day. Yes, we are blessed by the Gods of the Gab). Here goes.

"Each part of the body has a certain use and if it is put to some other use serious injury is certain and this is happening. If an act is unlawful it cannot be rendered legitimate because the person to whose detriment he acts cannot consent to it. No person can license another to commit a crime".

This was the ingenious argument advanced by Mr. B.P. Singhal, a former Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP and Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) leader, while arguing that homosexuality.... brace yourselves................ can result in grievous injuries. As if the Indian law is not bizarre enough, we have seen a profusion of beyond-belief arguments to preserve its sanctity.

And what exactly was that again? Let's see:

"Each part of the body has a certain use..." : I guess he's hinting at Himesh Reshammiya. Right notes (hmmmm), wrong orifice. But perhaps someone should also tell Mr. Singhal to keep his money far far away from where his mouth is, and put the latter to ... umm... er... better use.

".... and if it is put to some other use serious injury is certain...." : I don't think any "grievous injuries" have been reported from the hallowed corridors of powers, where many of Mr. Singhal's ilk walk around freely spewing smoke from their rotund rears.

".....and this is happening."
: Ever heard of a Ms. Lorena Bobbit? She found out her husband was putting a key body part to "some other's use" and inflicted some "serious injury" with a kitchen knife. Ouch!

"If an act is unlawful it cannot be rendered legitimate.... " : Bushisms, anyone?

".....because the person to whose detriment he acts cannot consent to it." : Really? We have been consenting to politicians like these to what should very much be our collective detriment for years now, but look at us. Even the yummy Daniel Craig has said that he wanted the Indians to see his new movie before the Americans do. Imagine that.

"No person can license another to commit a crime" : Early release or not, has the man never heard of James Bond or his MI6 approved high level clearance license to kill?

As for me, I sure have, so I'm off to oblige Bond. Icy Thames Bond.


Saturday, October 18, 2008

Time-bomb mein twist hai

A wise man (my sister's husband & thus ever more wise because he married her!) made a remark the other day, the thought of which has made me chuckle a few times already. He said, and i quote, " Ever wondered that there would have been no Hollywood but for the nuclear bomb, and there would definitely have been no Bollywood without the time-bomb?!"

Come to think of it, the most horrifying plot in almost all of the jolly good Bollywood pot boilers of yesteryears (a fine tradition that has morphed into quite another thing with the use of sophisticated gizmos and gadgets) centres around the time bomb. Various unsuspecting innocents have been the shikaar of this ingenuious device, planted on their persons by the oh-so-devious baaaaad man.

Some Fuzzy Flashes:

The partially blind mother, who has only just realised that the mysterious blood donor who saved her sorry ass after she came under the villain's car is her long-lost son, reappears on screen with a bundle of disco-light emitting sticks strapped to her eternally maternal bosom, weeping silently into her tattered saree pallu while saying this to her son: meri chinta mat kar beta, isko iske kiye ki sazaa zarror dena!" (Don't worry about poor ol' me son, just kick ass! For i only gave birth to you, while he wishes to give you DEATH!!)

The said son finds himself in the same room as said mother after also being mysteriously informed by the said villain's sidekick that "tumhari maa, aur uski hone wali bahu hamare kabze mein hai, unko zinda dekhna chahte ho to Aravind Adiga ke pachaas hazzaar pond lekar bangley par aa jao" (you mother an her future daughter in law are in our lecherous keep; if you want both of them to atttend your upcoming nuptials, for which you have already booked the pandit and the bandwallah, get us Aravind Adiga's recently won Booker booty at the bungalow, ASAP!)

No address is given, but our wily protagonist, tired of keeping tabs on the two women by now anyway, has also mysteriously managed to locate the said bungalow, carrying what looks like .... did he also find a time machine to travel to London and back? did Adiga actually give in so easily?.... but it's only a Louis Vuitton bag stuffed (they don't know it yet) with the clothes he plans to take to the Bahamas with him. But more on that later....

So the swashbuckling son arrives to find his love-disinterest trying to wiggle out of the chains that bind her, in the process of which all she has managed to actually wriggle out of is half her clothes, while Mataji has been trying desperately to shield her jhopdi ki izzat from the roving eyes of the raucous sidekicks with said tattered saree, all the time working gingerly around the time bomb that's loudly ticking away like a large pendulum clock.

Enter son. Loud cries of hope and fear pierce the impending doom of the time bomb. The beady-eyed boys attack him one by one, each patiently waiting his turn to be disposed of in a tangle of kicks and grunts.

As Jack Nicholson says in A Few Good Men "Son, we live in a world that has walls. And those walls have to be guarded by men with guns. Who's gonna do it? You..?", and here in Bollywood we live in a world that has rules. Yes, rules, my boy. And the keepers of those rules are men with country-made guns smuggled from neighbouring Nepal. The cardinal one being: "Being the evile scumme of the earthe, thou shalt not fire thy katta but once, and then only one at a time, ever-patient till the chosen one has sent your homie flying out through the flimsy walls, with a mere belch."

Getting back to the story, suddenly, there is a loud roar and a burst of evil laughter, as a gaping hole opens up under our as-yet-unvanquished-and-unscratched hero's nimble feet and he is swallowed up even as the ladies in captivity let out loud shrieks of Nahiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiin (Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooo way! Now what??!!), and in the very same instant, the heart rending screams drowned out by a visual treat of exploding saree and tank top, played in slo mo, over and over again. A horrific The End.

Whaaaaat? You killed the LV bag, you philistine??!!

I know what happened, but, for now, I leave that up to you. All you who are still loyally reading this crap, send in your entries and i will carry the one that pays a befitting tribute to the brilliant logic of Bollywood storylines....

And now i can hear somethin' a tickin' back here. Time to get some work done. Make me proud, ppl! What do you have to lose except your sanity?

Monday, October 13, 2008

Of mares and men

This past weekend, i shopped. Ate. Drank. And survived, In fact i'm almost feeling human after a long time. Through a drunken haze, i noticed two things i've probably never paid much attention to before.

  1. Most Chinese restaurants in Delhi (those which are not safely ensconced in pricey all-stars) have a paan shop right outside them. Huh?
  2. The volume of squealing children in the park on a Sunday evening is directly proportional to the intensity of your early evening hangover. Aaaarghhh!
Is that really a horse?

Nope. Probably the missus.

Which brings me to two random observations from Indian baraats (wedding processions). One, about the use of ghoris (mares). Why the female? My uneducated guess is that since the event marks the beginning of a journey in which the female is most probably going to be carrying your shit around, it's time to learn how to place your trust in the species, while riding, nearly blindfolded, amid exploding firecrackers.

Sit tight while others enjoy the ride.

Two, the bandwallahs alway play "Yeh Desh Hai Veer Jawanon Ka" (This is a nation of brave young men), right after the groom gets ready to vroom towards his fate. Why that particular song, I used to wonder, till a wise woman enlightened me. Saying something along the lines of 'blessed are the brave who take the plunge into the murky waters of matrimony' and all that.

But i think it's because none is braver than the one who has entrusted his life to a spooky old mare, well knowing that the wedding party is carrying a bag load of crackers, perhaps enough ammunition to blow up a mid-sized nation. But then that's just me. What's life without some murky waters, eh? And besides, if the shit gets too much to carry, all you gotta do, girl, is to just rear up those hind legs :)

Friday, October 10, 2008

Penultimate Paranoia

.. is a new term i think i have coined today. Do pardon me if it already exists.

Penultimate paranoia (P2) is actually the fear that you feel when you are watching the tail end of your favourite TV series. It's the fear of the unknown. The fear of not knowing what would eventually fill that particular weekly spot once the series actually ends. And the fear of never finding one nowhere near as good as the one bidding you farewell.

Being penultimate in nature, this particular fear hits you only at the very end, just an episode or two before the curtains come down. In extreme cases, this fear is said to coincide with season finales as well. And might manifest itself, unnaturally, even while watching rented re-runs. The phenomenon is not confined to television alone. Ask any Pottermaniac. As someone who has not read a single Harry Potter (i know. bite me.), but who waits anxiously for the movies, i am already entering the paranoid zone. It's time for the second last in the series to be released, and after one more, the supply will end.

I am also branded by Bourne. Jason Bourne. As the amnesiac agent swam away from his killers in the very last scene of the very last (or so they say) movie, i couldn't help but feel depressed for days. I feel Bond diehards have an unfair advantage over fans of characters who cannot be re-incarnated in different shapes and sizes of sex appeal, while retaining the oh-so-groovy Brit accent. Bond's universal appeal and the eternal stream of Bond movies have probably made "The name's Bond. James Bond." the most rehearsed lines in front of the mirror, probably with the actors who have played the the sizzling spy leading the count. I know i've said them out loud oftentimes, occasionally without even bothering to replace the James with Jane :)

P2 has various other avatars, as i am slowly discovering. Like the fear of gobbling up the very last sausage too fast before you take a vegan pledge. Or the strangely psychotic expression on the faces of would-be quitters while puffing on what they swear (yet again) is their last cig. Or the feeling you get on the last evening of your insanely expensive, once-in-many-many-many-years dream vacation. Or even the very last bite of that exotic cheese from an unpronounceable European village with the magic cows, which someone charitably decided to partake with you. . .

I must stop now, for i am paranoid about discovering any more things that i don't yet know i am paranoid about!

Oh, and the TV couch awaits with that season finale. Time to break another Bond.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Designed to torment

Certain things have been designed by the wrong people. And given their unchallenged monopoly, the torture continues.

Take most toilet bowls for example. Definitely the brain wave of mean men. So while their kind can safely direct the flow anywhere for a smooth and silent spray, we women continue to shift our bottoms endlessly, and in vain, but can never get to the bottom of the matter - how to pee noiselessly. Highly embarrassing on a first date 'at the pad', especially if it is a bachelor zone designed for awesome acoustics. Or if you are unfortunate enough to answer a call you thought was from a harmless fellow sufferer, but ain't, smack dab in the middle of a can't-hold-it-any-longer loo break. Ouch!

Then there are sinks/washbasins which are definitely the creation of midgets, conducive to being placed only at certain heights. Tall people: use at the risk of your back giving out as you bend over, nearly double, trying to get that toothbrush under the tap, while nearly buckling at the knees to take a look at your mug, in all its morning glory, in the mirror- the top of which probably reaches shoulder level. I'm gonna get one that I can look at even in six-inch heels. Will definitely remember to keep a platform for all you li'l ones out there, and given the origins of my misfortune, don't any of you dare to throw that old "heightist!" at me.

Or take low to medium-budget cars. I mean if you have a lot of money and can afford the fancy life off the road, then why is it that you get to also afford the fancy, gadgeted-upto- its-eyeballs car as well, since chances are that you ain't gonna be driving any of them in the first place? So what makes your lazy driver - who snoozes the day away in the air conditioned parking lot - more deserving of crawling the traffic in luxury than a multiple degree holder stuck in the world's lowest paying profession, who is a hard-working, wide-awake, caffeine-supported self-driven car owner traversing the long distance between the office and home in a car with the shortest distance between the wheel and the clutch? Design for the deserving destitute, for they actually drive these things! Split the costs. Anterior luxury interiors for the poor; plush posteriors for the shamelessly undeserving backsides. At no extra cost. Socialism with a twist, much like a certain view of the American bailouts. Fair play, i say.

And finally, the female form. And i don't mean the un-average type. I am specifically referring to the average one that, if left unattended, begins to self-destruct in no time at all. Men at least need to down a requisite number of pints to even get close to losing the battle of the belly, or cross a numerical threshold for the hairline to cross the danger mark, but we get hit with it the minute we take our eyes off the mirror. Wham! To top it all, the guys got the thick skin too, AND the confidence to live in the blissful belief that saggy or shaggy are mere synonyms for sexy. But no, no such luck for the other half.

Come now, at the risk of sounding blasphemous, what were you really thinking dude?

Monday, October 6, 2008

Gimme five!

Top Fives of my (currently playing in a theatre far far away from reality) life:

  • Songs on repeat
  1. Love should - Moby
  2. Far away - Nickelback
  3. Here without you - 3 Doors Down
  4. Ahista Ahista - Bachna Ae Haseeno
  5. Nothing else matters - Metallica
  • Dream (filmi) getaways
  1. The house on the hill in the Thomas Crown Affair
  2. The old building or whatever where Keira Knightley's Elizabeth and Darcy kiss in yet another re-make of Pride and Prejudice
  3. The beach in From here to Eternity
  4. Casablanca, of course!
  5. The typical/standard Bollywood feel-good nachna gaana shoot route (empty beach, mountain, desert, city, tree, lake, snow in chiffon, whatever...)
  • Questions i'm asking
  1. Mithun Da kab retire hoge? (also, directed at Dev 'Saab' Anand)
  2. Citibank kab bankrupt hoga? (apologies to Mr. & Mrs. S!)
  3. Saala, India ko gussa kyon nahin aata? (sab kuchch chalta hai!)
  4. Where's the rest of my paycheck?
  5. Is it time to 'respectably' go home yet?
  • Causes to espouse
  1. Traffic Free Dilli
  2. More Chicken for my Sub
  3. Somebody... Stop Himesh!
  4. Goa not Gurgaon
  5. Five Day Week now (four, actually, if you consider the mounting arrears)
  • Things to do when in doubt
  1. Look in the mirror
  2. Call Oprah
  3. Vote Democrat
  4. Blame the "previous government" while decrying the "incumbency factor"
  5. Head for the drinks cabinet
  • Time-fillers
  1. Blogging on crap like this
  2. Intra-office 'networking'
  3. Coffee breaks and working lunches
  4. Making organised lists
  5. Meetings (especially with dazzling Power Point props)
  • TV series
  1. CSI- all
  2. Criminal Minds
  3. Coupling
  4. Seinfeld
  5. How I Met Your Mother
  • Ways to die (or survive to accost the cause)
  1. Drown in a vat of whiskey
  2. Drown in a cask of beer
  3. Drown in a tub of cream cheese
  4. Drown in a pond of maple syrup
  5. Get crushed in a blender making a banana-strawberry smoothie
  • Places to re-visit someday (i guess no separate section on fab foods/beverages needed!)
  1. Ladakh before snowfall
  2. London ANYTIME AT ALL
  3. Times Sq. NY in the fall
  4. Langkawi in winter
  5. Paris in summer
  • FINALLY: Favorite excuses
  1. I can't
  2. I won't
  3. I shouldn't
  4. Who cares?
  5. Are you out of your mind?

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Another sunday cometh and sloth's back in fashion

i am in trouble. of the deep, deep sort. because i'm becoming lazier by the day and crazier by the night, for that is when i take stock of the day of a thousand procrastinations and enter my very own private hell.

As the unread newspapers pile up on my coffee table, random thoughts and article inspirations are jostling for breathing space like people in a DDA cheap housing scheme queue. Yet, i can't clear the backlog fast enough through the half-open window of my working side of the brain to prevent them from pushing up against each other in a desperate scramble for attention. Disheartened, many have left, and i am sorely tempted to put up a sign, true sarkari style, saying "Out to Lunch", to shoo off the stubborn ones.

Enter: sunday.

Another one to the rescue.

You can imagine the extent of my slothful transgressions when i tell you that it's taken me three whole sundays to complete one painful cycle of preserving what's left of my youth, and the tattered shreds of my vanity are highly offended. I mean, one poor Sunday and four limbs to wax, two eyebrows to painfully prune, two feet, a pair of hands and all of twenty fingernails to pamper, not to mention the daily ablutions that keep the rest of the 'best face forward' in working order!

Yes, ALL this in a country full of men who are back to balking at the word 'metrosexual'. The much-vaunted concept seems kinda on the way out, along with male manicures and papa pedicures. To be fair to the Indian male, he's retained some of it, albeit highly selectively. So, while pink-the-new-blue is here to stay, the candy coloured shirts are back to acting as windows to hairy souls infested with a tola of gold chainees, while the proud pappi in pink is back to prowling the streets in Papaji's Pajero with crusty soles.

So, i'm going all Euro-sexual this week. No visits to that high temple of superficial splendour, aka the neighbourhood beauty parlour. No desi homemade stinkies on the face a la facade al fresco... whatever that meant! Basically, i'm vegging out, (pun definitely intended, it is navratras!) and reading on and uglying in. I know i'll have to pay a heavy price for my reckless behaviour requiring some extreme damage control, but what the heck!

Vanity enslaves. And THAT is exactly the truth behind assertions that it's a man's world. They haven't surrendered. Thus they rule. And it's time for me to reclaim my tiny space. Not to mention my day job.

Oh, slothful sunday, here i come!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Yes, violence. Seriously? On a day like today?

It's Gandhi Jayanti. Happy birthday, Bapu, but can you, like, send a message to the guys up there that we, like, really don't like working on your birthday... we sometimes don't like working on other days as well, but it's, like, your birthday today and all that, man! Makes me kinda all violency about it, this violent assault on our freedom to stay at home on a national holiday. They call this a "free" media! hah!

Gandhi said "Indolence is a delightful but distressing state; we must be doing something to be happy." So, i agree that it ain't a day to be lyin' around doin' nothin'. I mean i do want to, like, get up late from my extremely non-violent Caribbean dreams and eat some, like, organic cereal from the Khadi Gram Udyog and stuff, and then, like, meditate, ruminate and pontificate on loftier things... and languidly debate the merits of freedom (of sexual orientation), non-violence (when faced a sub that was delivered 15 minutes too late), khadi (of the non-scratchy variety) and purposeful walking (to the drinks cabinet), while trying very hard not to swat at the pesky fly that seems to be seeking refuge in my living room. All in the spirit of the day, of course.

While driving to work today, i noticed that even the doggies are off the streets, let alone patriotic Indians, who are probably ringing in the occasion with home brews on a dry dry day like today. D' ya think they'll really care if they don't get their newspaper tomorrow, groggy as they'd be from partying on a mid-week day off? But then with a sinking heart i remember what Gandhi had said once "I believe in equality for everyone, except reporters and photographers", and i know where the discrimination stems from.

But then my spirits lift a little when i recall what Gandhiji also once said "Honest differences are often a healthy sign of progress.". So here i am honestly differing with the management. Shall i expect a healthy bonus in the next paycheck? Oh, i'm inspired by his words: "You must be the change you want to see in the world.", so here i am putting my head on the block, all in the interest of the greater good, and asking the powers that be to please re-consider the six-day week! Just in case you were thinking it's all about personal gain, shame on you, you... you... non-believer!

Now i have come to the worrying conclusion that a lot of what the Great Man said can be misconstrued and applied to furthering personal gain. Like if we were to interpret "Whatever you do will be insignificant, but it is very important that you do it" to mean that stealing petty cash from a US investment bank predictably almost going under in a couple of weeks might be an insignificant folly in the large scheme of things, but that it becomes absolutely imperative for the employees to salvage all they can. Or, that when Bapu said "As long as you derive inner help and comfort from anything, keep it", was not an endorsement for shoplifting Victoria's Secret innerwear!

But then, following some of his pearls of wisdom ad verbatim might just cost us more than a loss of personal pleasures. Like when he said that "I cannot teach you violence, as I do not myself believe in it. I can only teach you not to bow your heads before any one even at the cost of your life", he definitely did not mean that Vijender Singh stand tall and exposed against his most ferocious Cuban opponent in his Olympic boxing bout.

And then when he said that "Freedom is not worth having if it does not connote freedom to err. It passes my comprehension how human beings, be they ever so experienced and able, can delight in depriving other human beings of that precious right", he certainly forgot to add the caveat that the management might not be so tolerant of your expression of freedom. Err too often and they'll... errr... kick your butt! My defense against my various indiscretions at work is another one from his collection "Hate the sin, love the sinner".

Now this brings me to one that i use to sum up my life's failure to reconcile my existence with my destined place in the world, something that causes me eternal grief: "Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony". I think i can do with a little more of god's attention, but i say i'm content with what i have, and i do all i can to stay afloat. And then the trusty old man offers me a clue to express what it is i really want: " I want freedom for the full expression of my personality. "

But then at times when i am expressing a murderous thought, through the full force of my personality, to someone who has just appeared from nowhere, going the wrong way, in a one-way street, I recall his words decrying vengeance "An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind." To which he provides the answer "I think it would be a good idea. "

.... and THAT'S Gandhigiri for ya'!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

A re-incarnation that deserves death. now!

I am in pain... of the searing physical variety. No, i'm not hurt or bleeding or anything, though for a while i was afraid i might just vacate my buzzing brain and self-inflict some serious damage on the windows to my soul... oh, my eyes... oh, oh... and oh... the things that they have seen!

Why all the drama, you may ask? Well because, last evening, while idly swapping channels i chanced upon the trailer of the new Karrz. Or was it Karzz? Karrzz? Whatever. It cannot be allowed to be reborn. It must die. While my heart twisted at cap-less Himesh Reshammiya's resham-straight locks, it nearly stopped at the words "Monty is back".

Noooooo...!! There are a lot of reasons why they absolutely CANNOT remake one of the best films that Bollyland produced. ever. to present my case, i list a few here, chosen from about a thousand:

  • Monty is reborn as a rich Marwari (yes, again) and is happily living with Tina; is close to the top of the Fortune 500 list, runs marathons to keep the images of previous lives at bay, probably owns half of India instead of a crummy guitar, dons designerwear instead of dhinchakk monkey suits and now the happy couple have an enviable line-up of luxury sedans with no place in their multi-level garage for beat-up murderous jeeps... besides, they own a jet for that odd trip out.
  • The prim and pristine Simi (aka Kamini) ain't gonna be happy being re-born as a screaming Bhoot, who walks the world of the living as Ms Urmila Matondkar
  • Pinky ( in her pre-grieving sister of Ravi Verma avatar) might have to forgo her pink frilly frocks (what will we call her then?)
  • Ba, the much in demand dudette, is too busy doing the telly rounds to be reborn as the eternally suffereing Verma family matriarch... besides, for that you need to die first, right? and Ba's nowhere close to kkkkkkickin' the bucket at a 1043 years... when i last checked.
  • In the age of the well-groomed metrosexual, how will they ever find anyone with a wild profusion of body hair to soak in a tub with a firang madam, like our bezubaan badmaash Sir Juda from the original?
  • Unless they re-sing the original, there ain't another song that can give you goosebumps like "Ek Hasina Thi"... tilting frames, shadowy characters enacting the crime backscreen, Rishi's accusing eyes, Simi's horror from a dozen different camera angles, Honeymooning jeeps, and some really intense guitar playing by The Monty of mint chocolate chip dreams. From which you think you have the right to wake me up rudely with a Himesh? shudder! shudder!!
But in any case, if, despite all my efforts, this Karrzzzzzzzzzzzzz is repaid, the producers might like to answer a few questions for me, like how Sir Juda (a filmi take on Judas?) lost his tongue, and whether he has patented that very unique form of "tinkling" communication yet. Like who knighted him in the first place? The Queen? Did she not stop to think that all that fuzz on his chest and arms might be hiding a device to blow Buckingham Palace to bits? Like, were you allowed to get married in a school uniform back then? Or how did grown up college kids, of an obviously very marrriageable age, get away with wearing candy coloured frockies?

As the questions swirl about my mind like Sir Juda's hair filled jacuzzi, it's all too much for poor, in-grievous-shock me. I must hurry home, disconnect the television showing promos of the new and re-connect with the old.... better not put on the music while i'm on my way, all driving in the movie was horribly, fatally, tilted... jeep over man, man under jeep, wife over jeep, re-born man over remorseful ex?wife, and so on... for, i am not ready to be re-born unless i am personally guaranteed that i can get to keep my avatar from Second Life. But i know what i will be humming if anyone dares honk at me tonight:

roo ru rooo roooo, roo ru rooo roooo, roo ru roo roo rooooooo....

Monday, September 29, 2008

"bel far niente..."

.... is Italian for "the beauty of doing nothing". Here are some of my favourite nothings:

  • Popping bubble wrap, of course. So, if you see a shady type lurking outside gift shops, looking for throwaways, or if you get a very very fragile gift knocking around freely in the box, you know who stole the bubble wrap!
  • Driving like a woman.... I turn the wheel of justice in the direction of skeptics who insist that women can't drive. How? By giving them exactly what they expect. So, i dream at the wheel while the light turns goes from glowing green to an angry red, make mental lists of who i'll invite on my years-away fortieth birthday while navigating rush hour traffic, all the while weaving in and out of lanes at the speed of 23, while pretending to have broken hearing aids and a missing rear-view mirror... then suddenly I decide to wake up to a change of tact and start honking at everyone in or out of my way, while attempting my closest imitation of Glenn Close from Fatal Attraction. (Note: I suggest that all women put this on their partners' to-view-before-saying-I-do list. I mean even I was scared of her!)
  • Staring into space and humming Moby's Love should... There's just something about the song (besides the fact that it is very un-Mobyish) that reminds me of tangled sheets, intangible regrets and transcendental love. The very best of all there is in life.
  • Pressing the i button on my Tata Sky remote to read synopses of random programme episodes/movies. You'd be surprised at the way they reduce the histrionics to four lines!
  • Changing my phone language settings to Filipino, just to see how familiar I am with my handset and then to French to figure whether i can recognise commands from a two week crash course in French from five years sgo.
  • Watching a crackling fire.
  • Getting wet in the rain, and then standing under a hot shower with a shot of scotch at hand.
  • Adding up the digits on the number plate of the car ahead of me to try and figure out what the driver's lucky number is.
  • Hitting the "bullets" button on any feature... MS Word, Blogger et al :)
  • Finally... pushing my keyboard tray in for the day... and turning the key in the ignition.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Oh, don't look!

What is it about human nature that even as we build layers around ourselves to keep out the wretchedness of the world, we continue to be fascinated by the morbid? Remote control in hand, we switch channels to get the "best coverage" of recently exploded bombs, even as we shake our heads in disbelief at the depths of human depravity. I cannot explain why, but the images of the two airplanes hitting the twin towers of the WTC stubbornly persist in being able to send goosebumps down my spine. Yet, i am re-drawn to those images, even as my heart plummets, everytime i see those moments captured by amateurs, just as those buildings did on an unforgettable day seven years ago.

When i logged into this space this morning i was wondering about what it was that i wanted to get out of my system today. And promptly got distracted. While i continued to be wrapped up in pending work, with a reluctantly consumed cafe dosa for company (which, by the way, was utterly foul), and with moments of introspection interspersed with general gossip and thoughts on what not to do this Saturday evening (which would insolently have me presume that i have lots to choose from!), news just in tells me that there has been another blast in Delhi, this time at Mehrauli. I can hear colleagues arguing over how many have died... "do? ...nahin yaar, paanch.... nahin doosra channel laga ispe toh kuchch nahin dikha rahe hain!" reminiscent of a snippet i overheard two long Saturdays ago. "Site pe chalein? .... nahin yaar kya fayda wohi sab kuchch...abhi toh bheed hogi, police wagerah.. nahin toh hospital bhi jaa sakte hain.."

They say some people, in the course of their specific nature of the job, get immune to blood and gore. Or that violence inures, as it comes with its own antidote: apathy born of repetition. But i still believe that no amount of familiarity with death can prepare you for the fragility of human life. Or the cruelty of the senselessness with which it is sometimes taken away.

In the last few minutes, i watched, again, the by-now familiar images on TV and listened to excitedly screaming reporters and play-acting news anchors who were breathless beyond belief in their affected attempts to give us a callous run-through of the carnage. Sorry, but that is the only way to describe the insensitive reportage which lacks all occasion-propriety.

(Note: what makes Indian television reporters think that it is only by standing in the middle of a straining crowd, and shouting at the top of their lungs, that they will catch the requisite frequency to transmit their banal banshee-like analysis via distant satellites to presumably deaf viewers with strong heart muscles?)

And there they were again, stunned thoughts from a fortnight ago, which were crowding in on me once more, asking me questions for which i still have no answers. How do you explain an act for which even the supposed motivation defies all logic? How are you supposed to just pick up your car keys and drive down to the nearest market (as opposed to a sterile mall) for a kathi roll? How are you supposed to limit your on-the-spur-of-the-moment weekend excursions to a 'not so crowded' area? Most importantly, how do i reconcile my need for freedom with my fear of being caught all alone if one of those things has my address on it? Having heard the sound once, how am i then supposed to command my heart to be still everytime a bus's silencer whoops past my car, or when a truck loudly hits a pothole on a very silent night outside my window?

So as i go through the motions, calling and checking up on those near and far, while assuring them that i am safely ensconced in office, here's yet another Saturday making me terribly weepy and sad, as i mourn the loss of my right to just be. Here. Now. In the city i love beyond its myriad idiosyncrasies and often only because of them.

Oh, my Delhi! Where will i go when you, my true home, can no longer wrap your safe arms around me?

Friday, September 26, 2008

Friday Fundas from Chollywood... yes, again!

TGIF. yes, again! OK
, i know that in between one set of fundas and the next, there has been precious little and even i feel cheated! what's this crap? a dwindling number of snooty swindles that's what! basically, here i am, again, willingly taking whatever blame you might feel free to heap on me, and making it my very own grouse before you can say oh, no.. not again!

So, peace, yo! and all such other outdated angst-ridden war cries. Here, sample some funk (junk?) for another Friday, a day of the week we hope will re-visit us real soon....

  • When you hurriedly decide to rush into an elevator in a multiplex, to go up in a hurry, you will invariably discover, upon the shutting of its doors, that it is actually going down to the basement.
I've discovered that there are two choices to kill the time it will take, to get back to the floor on which you got on, and then stop at every other floor on its way up to, to reach your desired level, which in all likelihood is the highest the place has to offer. The first is to fixate on the glowing numbers on the panel. -2: the highest score you got on your chemistry paper after negative marking; -1: the temperature of the pole on which you happened to stick your tongue while re-living that scene from Dumb and Dumber; 0: the number of boyfriends in the year just before you first got your heart broken; 1: the number of books you safely hope to publish in this lifetime; 2: the adequately chubby, well-adjusted, un-cranky, semi-angelic, come-with-a-pre-programmed-semi-automatic-self-adjusting-timer-mechanism- and-growing-into-universally-tolerable-moderately-tolerant-genetically-good-looking kids you hope to have some day; 3: the least number of moochable men whose stories buy you respectability with your grandkids; 4: the number of places in your garage for the total set of wheels you hope to alternate driving altogether (BTW, eight different coloured TVS Lunas don't count!); 5: the number of differently shaped bathtubs in your dream house; 6: the least number of zeroes following the first number on your take-home salary cheque, sans all decimals; 7: ooops, i haven't been to an Indian mall that goes all the way up there, yet! phew! lucky at that, huh?

The second option is to familiarise yourself with the faces of the others who have made the same grave mistake, so that the next time you find yourself stupidly having to share the claustrophobic cubicle with them, you have a conversation ice-breaker. Which brings me to my carefully researched second funda of the week.

  • When in a crowded lift, you will definitely meet at least four of these usual suspects: the crouching tiger, the hidden dragon, the snake and the eagle's shadow. (Yes, i continue to watch a lot of dubbed Chollywood stuff, during times with a lack of anything better to do, or gaze aimlessly at, and yes, I also thought that Bruce Lee spoke fluent colloquial Hindi till I was about 10)
The crouching tiger (CT) will most likely be this tall, jeans-clad Panjoo-looking gel-haired specimen, crouching down to whisper sweet nothings into the ear of a giggly, scantily clothed, pint-sized side-kick whose most-uttered phrase during the eternally frustrating muti-halts trip will be " you, nah....!" said with a delicate swish of the free hand, the one not tightly grasped by the CT (i mean, it's not as if the lift will plummet and she'd go into free fall.. you can ease up on the grip buddy!)

Then, just when you are nauseatingly wondering what's awfully cooking in there, you notice the hidden dragon (HD), breathing fire with his onion breath and gastro-grenades, crouching away in the corner with a "can-you-just-smell-that?" and not-quite-as-guilty-as-outraged expression on his if-i-can't-see-your-disgust-i'm-not-even-here face. And you try desperately to recall the long-forgotten swimming lesson where you flailed about trying to hold your breath. At every stop, you let it out in a rush, and then the doors menacingly close again....

You feel the snake before you see him, as you are jolted out of your breath-halting feat by a light yet strategic exploration of your bottom. It's annoyingly vague, exasperatingly effective and very difficult to assign, until the snake attempts it again, by which time you are busy exhaling and inhaling at the temporarily open door. You might as well let your hapless bottom be, for he's awfully good at this stuff, for he's probably been practising at various malls in and more challenging settings. They probably have a club or discussion board or something to tally their shady triumphs!

And the last one is the Eagle's shadow.. This one's a kindred soul, shoved similarly into a corner, who's been watching, like you were initially, as an amused big bird, ever since the journey began, and probably is as astute an observer of lift-land as you are. The only difference is that the while the amused smile was wiped off your face with the shenanigans of the snakey bot-patting, his only grew wider. And when the big bad box thankfully disgorges you on the penultimate floor, he waits to let the others off, before chivalrously, and a tad smugly, stepping aside to let you disembark first. The next time, I'm praying he goes for your buns, buddy, and then we'll see!

And now, work beckons and so does a cold lunch. As i look at my own culinary creation with a fair amount of trepidation, here's wishing you cosy dinners, empty express elevators and close encounters of the worst ... oops... first kind: by invitation only. toooodly do!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Spill it sister!

So, this crazy chick i know cheekily chose a select few to do some homework, or prep, as it was better known in the world's best boarding school.. and i was scared that if I didn't turn it up on time, i will not be able to live with the spoilsport tag that would in evitably follow!

As i replace her answers with mine, all l can say is, thanks babe! for i haven't taken this so seriously since i was twelve and scribbling furiously into hobby books, while hiding the answers from prying eyes with my left arm:)

Before i begin, here are her rules, which i might break with impunity:

People who have been tagged must write their answers on their blogs and replace any question that they dislike with a new question formulated by them.

People who have been tagged must Tag at least 6 people to do this quiz and those who are tagged cannot refuse. These people must state who they were tagged by and cannot tag the person whom they were tagged by. Get it? Now spread the love.

(More like the mayhem, Nim!) anyway, here goes...

If your lover betrayed you, what will your reaction be?
voodoo, plain and simple. go for the gonads, girl!

If you could have a dream come true, what would it be?
fit into that awesome pair of tight jeans i tearfully abandoned in 1995.

What would do with a billion dollars?
disappear before you come knocking for a cut.

Will you fall in love with your best friend?
pass pliss! been there, done that. fell and got bruised.

Which is more blessed: loving someone or being loved by someone?

The second. Was it the great philosophers Aerosmith who said "Falling in love (is hard on the knees)" and after the big Three-Oh, i'm fast hurtling towards planet osteoporosis!

How long do you intend to wait for someone you love?

OK. Hypothetically, of course. If they're around making me wait, then as long as it takes to say, "if you're gonna make me wait, you ain't worth it!" and if we're talking about that oh so elusive love, then perhaps till i have to stop looking at the clock of hope every few hours

If the person you secretly like is attached, what will you do?
knock him out and revive him with a magic love potion, of course!

If you could root for one social cause, what would it be?
unsolicited phone calls. wish i could track down every single caller from every anonymous call centre, line them up in a dark room without food and water and call up every five minutes with an offer for a loan to bail them out, alternating with a 'polite reminder' about when they have to pay their next instalment! yeah, i DO feel THAT strongly about it. its tearing the flimsy fabric of our society apart, i tell ya!!!!!

What takes you down the fastest?
smiling non-resistance in the face of an unreasonable hormonal outburst

Where do you see yourself in 10 years time?
enjoying the royalties from my third book.... at the very least

What’s your fear?
losing my laughter

What kind of person do you think the person who tagged you is?
Nimpipi: my daily dose of uncomplicated craziness in the complicated sanity of this our workplace

Would you rather be single and rich or married and poor?
married and rich... what???? sorry, can't read the rest too clearly :)

If you fall in love with two people simultaneously who will you pick?
the one whose eyes light up when they spy me

Would you give all in a relationship?
oh, totally everything... except the number of my Swiss bank account

Would you forgive and forget someone no matter how horrible a thing he has done?
i notice the bias in the use of the word "he", so.... forgive maybe, not forget, if only to remind myself that i have a lot to learn. anyway, it's an all too live situation, so answers after the ad-break here please

Do you prefer being single or in a relationship?
in a single relationship.

Monday, September 22, 2008

think. pause. speak.

i have a dubious gift
a special one, no doubt

that is i never know exactly when
i should put my foot in my mouth

so try as i might
and repent as i may
i never do find the right time
for all the silly things to say

but being the Saggi that i am

i somehow worm out of trouble
but just when i think i'm home free
along comes disaster, quick on the double

so i fret and i sweat
while others can't believe my cheek
alas! little do they know
it's only a hole to die in i seek

so while i crawl about in shame
promise that i will not repeat
the faux pas, that i so avoid,
continue yapping at my feet

so all ye who i might have tormented
with a word i was too quick to utter
please know that i yearn for the day
when i will stop causing an unnecessary flutter

now that i have been suitably contrite
for something that's outta my control
i'm sure i can go back to bumbling
till i'm arrested by the think-before-u-speak patrol

there, that's poetic laziness for you. for i'm conserving my prosaic energies for the week ahead. another long one it might turn out to be.....

Friday, September 19, 2008

Friday Fundas and the week that was not....

i'm in a kind of fugue state.... better still, i'm floating and its all happening in someone else's life.... even better, i'm plain absent and that tick in the register is a proxy... would it were that simple, though. sometimes, you get hit by a stray cricket ball, at other times you run right into the willow. that's life for ya!

why am i so maudlin, you might wonder. because this has been one of the most confusing weeks in my recent past, and there have been some baffling ones, believe me. triumph and loss have jostled for space with anger and humility, while bad judgement has tried to usurp the embattled throne of good sense, and despair has reluctantly, mistrustfully opened the door to a sliver of hope. and that hope hangs on the tenuous thread of my own conscience. which is telling me that it's sick and tired of playing second fiddle to self-doubts and that i need to kick some ass. you win, babe. so be it. amen.

and now on to some snippets of gyaan for the week that was not, and might never be...
  • Into all lives some rain must fall, though it never does when predicted during the monsoons and always re-appears just as you are getting ready to drive back home in rush hour. SUVs double up as your al fresco car wash, dousing your tiny-four-paws with the spittle of a hundred paans, the sorry butts of soggy bidis and sloshy remains of roughly a million Indian pit stops by the roadside.
  • All the world's a urinal and the Indians are the longest-surviving imperialists. plunder with paan. pillage with pee. paint the town yellow. while we're on the subject, the original colonialists have much to teach us still. a small tip: avoid the red phone booths in London, except when you gotta go... i mean, unless you really gotta go...then there ain't a better place, or so say the Brits.... you pee!! ooops, i mean, you see!
  • A bar may list a hundred different brands of beer, but the one you crave on that very exact day will always be "out of stock". and the one you order will be the warmest, yet the "coldest" they've got. aaaaarrrrgh! Enough to make you froth at the mouth, like the warm glass now staring at you from across the table.
  • All things in life that are seemingly free, come with an expiry date. The choked with toxic-whatnot air won't be worth breathing in a few years' time; water with god-knows-what-shit-in-it won't last despite fast-melting glaciers; the earth that we walk on.... ooops! that's already been swallowed up by DLF/DDA, groaning as it is under the weight of progress.... breathless, it awaits the final verdict from the Franco-Swiss border.... and we all know the longevity of promises. freely made, short shelf-life..... love? i'm still figuring that one out.
so, maudlin i may be
but all ye, it won't last
for the dumbest thing to do
is to let your future be led by the past

i see from my dirty window
that some rain has fallen today
and as i prepare to leave now
i wonder if i might get sloshed today

for the car needs a wash
and so does my hair
so why worry about the future
i'll know what happens as soon as i get there!!

so have a nice weekend folks
and remember to do everything that i won't
and when you screw up big time
i'll pretend i did tell you don't!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Terror... err...error

unable to resist, i went this morning (at about 8 am) to GK I, M-block market, the site of one of the blasts that ripped through Delhi on Saturday evening.

and it was business as usual, with the early morning sweepers casually emptying dustbins (in which bombs had been planted in other targeted parts of the city) as i just drove slowly past all the familiar shops that have been an inseparable part of my life since i came to Delhi over 15 years ago. for M block is one of my favouritest places in the city. love it. can't live without it. and can't go too long without paying obeisance to its haphazard existence every once in a while (tempered from the almost-daily visits of our college days).

the only reminder of the terrible tragedy was a signboard put up by Aaj Tak news channel which had a backdrop of a nuke-type explosion, saying something like "aage bhadhenge... (and) aatankvad se nahin darenge..." (we will move forward (and) we will not be afraid of terrorism) or thereabouts.... for couldn't read too well from the car.

and driving past that semblance of normalcy in a city jolted by five bombs, i thought: fear is one thing and escapism is definitely another. we are a nation of ostriches, ever-believing that if we bury our heads in the sands of denial long enough, what we refuse to see and acknowledge will all go away somehow. but the one thing that these most recent terror attacks did seem to shatter was our smug sense of 'untouchability' with a horrific threat too close for comfort. i thought about this as friends from all over the country and even from around the globe called me to ask if i was ok, often with a common concern: "It's a Saturday evening, we thought you might be at GK for your favourite golgappas!"

the truth is that sometimes work comes to the rescue, for i was in office and heard the blast rip through CP (the one at Barakhamba road, i'm guessing, barely 500 metres away). and promptly dismissed it for thunder, curiously looking out of my window to check if i would have to make a dash to my car later on. and then ten minutes later, i was on the phone to my family and friends to assure them that i was ok before they saw it on TV and before mobile networks got jammed...

and for the first time ever, it seemed real. too real and too close. very loud and crystal clear. terribly scary. and for a while, as news poured in about yet another blast at Central Park, barely 500 metres away again, i looked into a kaleidoscope of anxiety, fear, confusion, horror and eventually sadness mixed with relief, mirroring my own, on the faces of my colleagues... we were safe. for now.

but the one thought that i know was running through all our minds was, this could have been any one of us. we park in CP, take those same roads home every evening; often spend aimless hours over weekends browsing shop windows, sipping nimboo-banta from Prince Pan and stopping to collect trinkets from the little "shoplets" at GK M-block; and do a bit of our wedding shopping in the crowded bylanes of Karol Bagh.

yet we refuse to acknowledge that we are, collectively, a nation under attack. perhaps that's because the shattered lives that we read about have been far removed from our zone of reality (and here i mean the sense of false security that envelopes the upper middle class), and we are quick to turn away from the bleeding faces and horrifying images, only to repeatedly shrug them off as yet another 'blip' on our close-circuit radars. i admit to having done that in the past, and i also admit that i am finding it difficult to be quite so blasé about it this time around.

so i keep asking myself why? and i have no clear answer but an all-pervading sense of sadness, outrage and vulnerability. beginning with the fact that i saw a colleague crying silently in the bathroom minutes after the news of the blast, for she couldn't get through to her family, and also because she was feeling the way i did: confused, angry, shaken and somehow, attacked and affected and curiously dazed... and then because another colleague, quite shaken, informed me that her mom and sister had just left GK market an hour ago.....

and because two of my my brother's best friends were on their way to GK when they heard the news.... and especially because had my brother been in town, he would have been sipping coffee with his fiance at GK.... and because i shared a plate of chaat with my mom and sis a few weeks ago at the same spot the bomb went off.... and also because, i was in Pallika market last week and, more immediately because, i heard the blast just as i was reaching for my car keys to make a trip to Wengers in CP to pick up pastries, while wondering if the trip would be worth the effort in a downpour.

and that was the extent, the sum total of my troubles, the evening when so many people lost their lives to the senseless logic of a handful of maniacs, and for that triviality i feel guilty somehow. guilty of losing patience with security guards who take too long to check my handbag at the movie theatre, guilty of finding an excuse to delay removing my car from a no-parking zone, and of numerous other little infractions that add up to a big catastrophe, just because we refuse to empathise with the fact that we all are potential victims, live targets who are lucky enough to see a few more dawns, eat some more golgappas, to shop, laugh, love and live another day.

the average Delhiite has had to discover, three years after we were last hit, the survivors' "spirit", much as the Mumbaiite has been forced to muster the same on countless occasions now. we are told that it is our spirit, our courage, and our bravery in the face of all odds that the terrorists are targeting. all this by a Home Minister who is on the warpath over a wardrobe 'malfunction', despite changing more clothes in one evening (while he made polite appearances at various blast sites) than he has tactics, to counter the moving targets who have us all in their cross hairs today. and they have brought the battle right to our doorsteps over his last four and a half years in office.

oh, i'm terribly sorry to burst your bubble of banal banter, Mr. Home Minister, but its your incompetence that they are leveraging. in not winning the battle against our own complacency we're losing the war to those who know, perfectly well, that we're not even warming up to the challenge yet.