Thursday, July 21, 2005

Chalo Bombay!

Tomorrow I leave for Bombay for a whole week!! Yipppeeeeeee!!!

Past few nights in preparation of the trip, my mind has been churning out dreams of home. Every night I dream of home, mom, dad and sis. Every morning I wake up with the taste of homemade food on my tongue and the aroma of the sandalwood agarbatti. Throughout the day I keep getting reminders from a suddenly hyperactive corner in my brain about my impending trip. It is like small spurts of joyful balloons that keep getting released in my heart at regular intervals. I can't write eloquently enough on how much I miss home and my family in Bombay and the excitement of spending 8 days with them is, I guess, quite evident through the few lines I have written above.

Have emailed Sis a list of eats with an order (and dire threats in case she forgets), to print it and pin it on the fridge for mom to see. I want to eat:
1) Idli sambhar
2) Misal Pav
3) Parippu Payasam (A kheer made of jaggery and dal)
4) Suji Halwa
5) Sabudana Wada
6) Masala Dosa
7) Veggie Cutlet
8) Mango chutney (you have to eat my mom's version of it to believe it!!)
9) Pav Bhaji
10) Palak Paneer
11) Patharwada(this is a steamed dish made of Arabi leaves...something similar to the maharashtrian Aluwadi but spicier and not fried )
12) Avial... the list is endless and can't remember what else was in it!!

Anyways... also in preparation of the extra kg I will bring back around my waist, have already told my trainer at the gym to help me with extra workouts when I get back :))

Will try to blog from home but if I can't, remember... it is because I am too busy stuffing myself !!

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

The fate of the girl child...

Just read this on Midday... 'Watchman finds baby girl in bag'

A well-dressed woman, presumably from an affluent family, dumped a baby girl, hardly a few days old on the road... ON THE ROAD!! Not at the door of an orphanage, not at the steps of a temple, not at any place where the baby could have the slightest prayer of survival but on the road where its delicate pint sized body would get crushed between the giant wheels of a truck or a speeding car. What kind of human being would do this despicable thing. It is clearly a case of intent to murder. But nobody has caught a glimpse of her, good enough to be able to identify her and so... another criminal walks scot-free.

Did she dump the kid because it was a girl... not something unheard of in a country with one of the highest numbers of female infanticide/foeticide cases? Or did she abandon the child because it was born out of wedlock... another common excuse in India to dump babies.

Well whatever the reason be, one can't help but be deeply disturbed by this beastly and murderous act and that too when the victim concerned is a defenceless child, just a few days old!! Are we as a society not responsible for this act as well?

Another thing that immediately sprung to my mind on reading this horrifying article was the tragic irony, that in our society one finds people like Sumanth (read this post and the comments on this post) who fight hard to change the section 498A, which is used to bring to book the perpetrators of atrocities against daughter-in-laws, under the pretext that the section is being misused. He seems to have no idea that for every false case there are hundreds of true ones and for every true case there are tens which go unreported. And the man seems to be obsessed with changing the one section which provides some hope of protection to these battered women!! One doesn't see him pleading the case of the tortured, murdered, burnt, raped, battered women/girl child. Well his battles are for him to pick. Sure, go ahead and fight against the misuse of the law but don't brush aside the real horror which made it necessary for that law to be brought into existence! What really gets my goat here, is that he has the 'good sense' to trivialize all the violence against women by stating a few errant cases of misuse. Ironical??... THAT is an understatement!

For the love of the road.

These pics on Charu's Flickr album blew me away... I spent precious productive time gazing at them, drowning in a multitude of feelings. But then I have always loved roads... When I was in UK, I had once sent home a package of snaps I had taken... all of them with a tag written behind... commenting on who was in the snap, where it was taken, when it was taken or something interesting or funny. Among them there were numerous snaps which featured just roads... country roads, roads lined with heavily pregnant apple trees in Berkshire, cobbled pavements at Eton, Oxford street, the lighted up streets near Piccadilly, busy streets of Canary Wharf, Outside the Odeon at Leicester Square, On the street outside 22B Baker street, small tree lined paths by the Thames, the village road in Hurst, the willow lined riverside road at Henley-on-Thames...

I am not much of a photographer... if you pose for me with your best makeup and brightest smile, rest assured the snap will feature only a body at an odd angle with the head cut off at the neck or worse the fruitseller behind you and there would be just your scarf in the left corner betraying your existence :) Roads though are easy to photograph... they are too big to be accidentally excluded and they don't complain if I make them look bad, they don't even ask for a second go since the first time they 'blinked at the flash'.

Anyways I am digressing and to bring us back on track... I was saying how I love roads. Each of them speaks to me in a different way, awaken in me a different set of emotions.

A village mud path lined with endless green paddy fields and peppered with little thatched roof mud huts always reminds me of the real India... not the cities where people are crushed like sardines in little houses and smaller train compartments. Village roads or those set amidst green fields or orchards always transport me back to my childhood summer vacations spent in my native place in Kerala. And immediately I feel happier, lighter and so much younger. I want to go explore them wearing old clothes torn on fences and stained by jamuns and mangoes.
Winding roads going up mountains surrounded by endless views of faraway horizons and deep valleys with a river in the groove and a tiny village in the distance... these are my favorite types... they fill me with a sense of freedom and with giddy laughter and abandonment. They make me want to run down the green slopes soaked with dew or rain, barefoot with my arms outstretched and the wind through my hair... laughing and whooping all the way.
Roads along beaches, streams or rivers call me to come sit on the bare earth and let my feet be tickled by the gentle ripples of water as I watch the sunset, read a book or talk in whispers to a dear friend or loved one and if nobody is around, even to myself. And then watch in quiet awe as the night falls gently and the sky is bedecked with countless stars.
Cobbled paths, remnants of a medieval age lined with the stone houses of that era or roads set amidst historic grandeur, lined with reminders of a past gone by... these delight me... fill me with a sense of history and culture, draw out a deep respect and a longing yearning to walk down those paths, drinking in the sights and trying to imagine the life they have witnessed over all these years.
Long roads... with no end in sight, stretched out into the distance... these awaken in me a sense of adventure, they beckon me to drive along, stop at quaint shanties for hot tea and cold samosas, take frequent breaks at villages so small you would miss them if you blink... and talk to their inhabitants, buy fresh vegetables and fruits from them and take home lasting memories of their vivid smiles, eloquent eyes and simple lifestyles.
The city roads sparkling with streetlights, neon glow of the hoardings, lights twinkling at thousands of windows of all the surrounding skyscrapers, headlights from hundreds of cars whizzing by... all these drowning out the moon and the stars... roads filled with busy activity... these too, I love. I love cities, having been born and brought up in Bombay and having lived in cities for most of my life. I love the bustle of the cities, the sense of purpose, the instant sense of belonging I feel in the strangest of them. I like to stand at a junction of these busy roads and soak up the life they have to offer. I feel the pride swelling up in my heart... at the collective achievements of humanity, which make the cities possible. As I stand amidst all that, I know that anything is within reach and the loftiest of ambitions are achievable. These roads, more than any other, make me feel young, so alive and invincible.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Too nice to be true?

Ah... errr... have a confession to make... am hooked to "Fame Gurukul"... that Talent contest, which I had panned in my post here. But then, I still hate it. The whole reality show trend irritates and disgusts me. So what makes me keep coming back for more, at least where this particular show is concerned?

I love the enthusiasm and healthy competition the kids display in it. I love their camaraderie and their friendships. They are all competing on a very big and life-changing stage. The one who wins will be shown a shortcut to success and fame... and yes lots of moolah too! But yet, there are no dirty games afoot, no treading on each other to reach the top. On the contrary they sincerely cheer, motivate and help each other. The display of such clean competition and such sincere friendships is a welcome break from the dirty politics encouraged by other shows like "The Bachelor" or "The Survivor" or "The Apprentice". Maybe those shows teach a lesson too and maybe they portray the real world, and I am sure they have their own devoted defenders.

But really, after a dose of the real world everyday from 9 to 6, it is nice to curl up and watch these talented young people, good naturedly competing, heartily wishing each other their best and crying even when they go through to the next round because one of their friends was eliminated! It is heartwarming to see these youngsters' naivete and large-heartedness. I wonder whether it will stay untouched after their foray into the dog-eat-dog world of Bollywood... I pray it does. But meanwhile it is, as I said, earlier a lovely way to end my day.

Though at times I wonder whether these displays of friendships and clean competition untouched by pettiness and insidiousness is the real thing or just a pretty show packaged and presented as reality, cleverly designed to tug at our heartstrings!

Thursday, July 14, 2005

My latest addiction

Have you been wondering why I haven't been blogging as regularly as I usually do?
Herez why... Caferati.

Found this network through somebody's blog and joined up on Ryze to be able to post on the network's message board. Here is my profile on ryze. Check out my postings on Caferati. I post there almost everyday. It is a great place to go to for reviews on your prose/poetry and also to read the writings of fellow writers.

Cool Place and Cool People. Come and see for yourself!

Tuesday, July 12, 2005


My first attempt at Haiku:

(For those who have no clue what Haiku is or want to know more, read this, this and this.)

Tight coils of sleep
winding around my brain
a grey rainy day.

L'il playful shadows
spinning 'round n 'round a tail
my puppy Brutie.

Fat sooty shadow
a shrieking whistle calling
the tea is ready!

A whip cracks sharply
Smoke rising from treetops -
struck by lightning!

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Super Size India

Yesterday for lunch, SK drove us to the West Coast Mc Donald's outlet and I ate a Mc Chicken after ages. AG and I, both, hate the Mc Donald's food. We think it tastes like hay and the mountains of calories in everything they offer is a major deterrent. So as AG says... "As far as I can see, eating at Mc Donald's only has a downside."

Over the past few years, America seems to have been in the throes of an obesity epidemic which according to experts is worsening. But the good news is that the people are awakening to the fact and slowly there is a movement taking root which is urging people to eat and live healthy.

My Singaporean colleagues though, seem to have no qualms about eating a thousand empty calories at a sitting. Blessed with genes, I could kill for, they don't put on easily and can plough through a basket of goodies from the local bakery without wasting a single thought to the 'C' word (calories).

At lunch, all of them seemed to be regulars at Mc Donald's. Many of them breakfast at Mc Dee's regularly. YW even takes his 2 year old daughter to Mc Donald's for lunch every Saturday! And according to him, she loves it there! Well that's what Happy Meals are for. But seriously... how good is it for her? And are you not hooking her onto a terribly unhealthy habit at so young an age. I am not being neurotic here. An occasional meal of chicken rice or fried noodles or the Quarter Pounder is hardly what constitutes the definition of unhealthy. But making a habit of it... now that is taking it too far. And yet you see dozens of Singaporean school children spending hours in the local Mc Dee's or Burger King outlets... catching up on their schoolwork, chatting, giggling, sms-ing and all the while chomping down on heaps of food and gallons of coke!

SK wanted to know whether we have many outlets of Mc Dee's back home in India. "There are quite a few these days, but not as many as in Singapore" I informed him. Set me thinking... his question... Indians really don't seem to be going to the Mc Dee's as much as the rest of the world does. We still prefer our economical Lunch homes and Sukh Sagars over the phoren fast food outlets. And then above all this, is the ghar ka khana, which all of us still swear by; unlike a huge percentage of the world which has conveniently forgotten how to cook! The cool quotient, though, is definitely missing when it comes to the indigenous food outlets, and more and more people seem to be converting over. The day is not very far away, when our kids will be weaned on Coke and a Mc Dee's burger will be their first bite of solid food. Do we need a Super Size Me or a lawsuit storm to wake us up.

Also, isn't it time we learnt that the ghee and dalda and sugar we consume in such heapfuls are not helping either. This high fat food might have been okay, even ideal, for our hard working ancestors but for a generation which spends most of the day sitting around, this kind of food is hardly healthy... far from it actually! Indians, typically have higher body fat, according to the experts, making us especially vulnerable to obesity and its related health problems like diabetes and heart disease. And with the economy boom powered fast food industry growing like a juggernaut, coupled with the increasingly sedentary lifestyles we tend to lead... India is at a great risk of being hit by a major obesity epidemic... the starting signs of which are already visible. Nationwide, 31 percent of urban Indians are either obese or overweight. The mean age of 45 for Indian heart attack victims is 10 years younger than for Americans. More than half the females and a third of the male population from the affluent class is currently overweight. And naturally, we seem to be passing this onto our kids as well. A new study indicated that one out of 15 school going kids in the high income group is obese.

Where weight is only a sign of affluence and the big bellied still command respect in some areas... it is not surprising that India is blissfully unaware of the danger alarms going off throughout her. There are among us, many indulgent parents who, when pointed out that their child is overweight, smile proudly and answer... " Arre Nahin Jee... He is not fat, he is just a healthy baby... Lagna chahiye na ki khaate peete ghar ka hai? ". Touché.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

'Til death do us part

Would you come if I call...

Would you walk with me
into the distance,
where no one calls...

Where faraway horizons
meet endless grasslands
and no footstep falls...

On an old country road
trampled grass underfoot
and no end in sight...

No life to distract us
except green and cold wind
great swathes of light...

Would you walk a road
you wouldn't tread alone
if I call would you go...

Where time stands still
and silence goes by
on a hushed tiptoe...

As sky, earth and road
For our only witnesses
would you then take me...

Would you bind me to you
with fathomless love
and thus would you free me...

Would you touch me, my soul
my breath, my sight
every sigh I heave...

Then would you stay with me
till death's minions call
put us in a box and leave.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Cry Baby...

A childhood of banned television, deprived of soaps and serials, has been, I now realise, a blessing a disguise. Thanks Dad. I am not addicted to any serials on the idiot box. I never in the least mind missing episodes of any soap operas or reality shows or any of those serialized comedies etc that are regular fare for the couch potato generation.

But of late AG and I watched a couple of the Fame Gurukul sessions. And since we had already watched the 1st two, we sat ourselves down and put ourselves through another one yesterday... that thankfully cured us!

Yesterday's session saw the 12 candidates being introduced to the environs of the Gurukul they are to attend in the forthcoming weeks. And throughout, the obvious focus of the show's producers was to make those kids cry on national television. This show of tears, ask Oprah she will confirm, is the surest method to win over viewers and increase the number of eyeballs a show garners.

Ila Arun, yes she of the 'Choli ke Peeche' fame and she of the foot long bindis, is the Headmistress of the Gurukul. So there was the loud, untalented, bloated with self-importance Ms.Arun trying out her rather unpolished and irritating acting and drama skills on television. She spends most of her time on this show mouthing inanities and melodramatic dialogues of the kind... 'How can you ask me to choose among my own students, can you ask a mother to choose among her own kids... nahin na... then why are you asking me?' (Well, at least it made me roll on the floor with uncontrolled laughter...). Yesterday she spent the rest of her time on TV... trying to make those kids cry and the more they wailed or sobbed... the more smug she looked.

There were those talented young girls and boys with stars in their eyes and hopes of making it big, of becoming another Sonu Nigam or Sunidhi Chauhan and they were being grilled mercilessly by this 'ma-jaisi-guru' (Ggggod!!). There was this girl who had lost her father 5 years back and Ms.Arun wouldn't rest until she had the girl filmed as the tearful fatherless lamb. She kept persistently reminding her of her late father and then repulsively poking her with questions about how she 'feels' until the poor girl burst into tears (Oh the Horror!!) . The camera too lingered long on only those who wept before it. So I guess, by the end of the filming all those who were brave enough to not cry would have gotten the cue... if you don't cry, you don't get any limelight... and since this is as much a popularity show as it is a talent contest... baby you better get sobbing hard and putting some huge tears up for show!

Monday, July 04, 2005

Why I write...

There are days when I write like one possessed, words, ideas come to me like leaping flames and I write like a raging fever. I slash, rewrite, read, re-read and all this time... words keep forming out of nowhere... it is as if it is not me who is writing but some fiery red-eyed, sleep-deprived Medusa and I pant and struggle to keep up. But I feel like a goddess on Mount Parnassus. I feel invincible and drunk in the wine of forever-ness and literary highdom.

And then there are those days when I cannot write... I sit for hours with a blank piece of paper, occasionally starting something which sounds good to me as I embark and then I realise it is only the corpse of an idea... swollen with my forced writing... it does not live like the other ideas did, does not breathe, dance in abandon, smile, entice, grieve... nothing. I give in to dramatics feeling these rituals might appease the Muses at whose altar I worship... I rub my eyes, beat my fists, pinch my forehead, pull my hair and yet nothing. I am engulfed in a wave of melancholy. I feel worthless. I feel all alone and screaming at the bottom of a huge pit. I wonder, why I suffer, nay, even gladly submit to such doomed sorrow.

Maybe because the joy of writing something which I know contains a spark in it makes me feel like the Almighty. Maybe because all that sorrow is nothing when compared with the joy, however short-lived and transitory it is. But also because I have fought this urge and lost and learnt that there is no escape. Also because, now, I don't want to escape it... I love the high that writing affords me. And I love the feeling of belonging that it grants me... into the hallowed company of fellow writers. The self-doubt and pre-writing agony, I know is common though each suffers alone and some more so than others... but out of that agony, at times (however rare those times are), one is able to produce a story, an essay, a poem, just a few lines, something, on reading which, in your heart you know, you have created something which breathes and lives. So what if such occasions are preceded by numerous others which are depressingly infertile.

And hence I write, in hope, everytime, that this time I will come up with yet another of those rare pieces which I can read and not tear apart in disgust, treasure even.

Why do you write?

Friday, July 01, 2005

I am like this wonly!

Unusual behavior tends to produce estrangement in others which tends to further the unusual behavior and thus the estrangement in self-stoking cycles until some sort of climax is reached.
-- Robert Pirsig in 'Zen And The Art Of Motorcycle Maintenance'.

And how well I relate to this! I hate it when people get judgmental about me, when they dislike me just because of the way I speak or the way I dress or the way I live. I love to shock such people. I enjoy their disapproval and rub in the fact that I don't give a sh*t and well... they can do nothing about it! Why should I behave in a certain manner, which is quite unlike me, just to win somebody's approval?!? Accept me as I am, I don't come in no gift packagings!