Monday, December 7, 2009

I CRAWL OUT


FROM under a pile of diapers, I crawl out yet again! Boy, Wow, is it good to be doing this ! To all my concerned friends I just wanna say, I'M STILL ALIVE.

The vanishing act sort of stretched longer than expected, but hey! In the meantime I had a Baby!!!! Another sweet sweet sweet baby came to our lives on 31st of August. I'm proud Mommy of two girls!!! And its been a pretty crazy ride last three months, since the stork visited......but I'm here!

The wonderful realization when I logged onto my poor neglected blog was that I had three new bloggers in my followers' list. Felt good to see somebody was still coming into my realm even though I've been so out of it. Thanks for reading up guys, and I hope I would soon have more posts to share with you all.

Great to be back in the real world!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

A BUMPY RIDE - from an Ambassador to a Honda

I was home on a holiday for a while, and it was perfect timing because my parents happened to buy a new car while our whole family was around, including my “very rare” brother. The occasion was celebrated with loads of enthusiasm; the new car was a fully-automated luxury drive with every gadget and feature you dream of in your car. We kids were thrilled to bits!! For a week we were taking turns test-driving it first thing in the morning even before brushing our teeth. And of course, the exciting week called for a drive down memory lane as well, mostly we remembered our oldest ever family car -The esteemed AMBASSADOR, and related trauma, with great amusement. Amusement was not exactly how I would describe the sentiment that prevailed in our household 15 years ago, though. Consternation and disgruntlement is closer home……

Let me say a few words about the ambassador car for those who aren’t familiar with the type. The ambassador car can be called a classic symbol of India’s post independence industrial era. Outdated even when new, the car has a silhouette that is easily a designer’s nightmare. A huge lumbering heap of metal, it has a frame like a tank’s with a steering mech
anism like an ox cart’s. Inefficient and clumsy, wasteful of steel and petrol, overpriced and overweight, the ambassador had dominated India’s routes for good fifty years and had the patronage of nationalists, politicians and businessmen of the country. Foreign visitors have never ceased to be amazed that this graceless contraption of spectacular ugliness enjoyed two-year waiting lists with all dealers.What can I say about my dad’s amby? He bought it when he married my mom, and in those days he was one of the very few who owned cars. As deep as I can peek into my childhood, I can’t recall that car starting without a crank, or a push! For a few years it was all fine but when the ‘Maruti’ came, it put all other cars to shame. It was hip, modern, sleek, suave, light, affordable, petrol-savvy and had Japanese technology written all over it. All our neighbors and acquaintances were buying the Maruti at breakneck speed, while my dad’s amby was getting from bad to worse. Now it won’t start without a 3 hour battery recharge and some serious pushing. The engine cranked, wheezed and sputtered into life only after my brother and I had stumbled for 500 meters, muscling away and declared death by exhaustion.……. then my bro would go running in the house to tell mom “it started, it started, let’s go!”. Doors would be locked hastily and then dhup, dhup, dhup, the car doors would bang with great glee. We would be off, only to get stuck right in the middle of some major crossway and face the embarrassment of pushing the damn car again, all dressed up for a wedding party or something equally flashy. People passed us by in their Marutis, sympathy dripping in their eyes, we ducked our heads in pure misery! In all those years, never once did we reach a movie hall in time for a show. In our teen years we found the car to be a big-time style-cramper and would rather walk than be seen getting off from an amby! The very idea was infernal!

My dad refused to sell it and buy a Maruti. We could never fathom the love and fondness he had for the stupid car. We cursed it with all our hearts. The more we cursed, the more he loved it. Maybe it was a thing from his youth, maybe it was the reluctance all men feel while parting with stuff that’s served them long. They like junk. He always looked rather satiated while behind the steering wheel of the hellish vehicle.

Well, that was then. Somehow after countless threats of fire and arson and many other things a gleaming white Maruti arrived in our driveway. There have been a few cars since then; my dad got into the routine of changing his car every 2-3 years. Now they drive a brand new Honda, but my dad still remembers his first ever car, his amby, the car that according to him, “served us well”.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

THE SMOOTH CRIMINAL OF POP


A tribute to Micheal Jackson, the King of Pop, he died today of cardiac arrest in L.A.

Can't believe this guy is dead! So surreal, really. MJ was larger than life in his iconic status. His sudden death....its shocking news. Fans all around the globe are grieving the demise of their favourite pop-star. His music was so legendary and immortal that it transcended all barriers of creed, race and national borders......people all over literally "came together" by his music. I grew up on it. His style and persona was so unique it instantly attracted great admiration, despite all his oddities.

The cute African-American boy was an instant star! Though he created his share of scandals and controversies, with his lawsuits and constant experimenting with his face ( his nose was pointing northwards for a while before it completely collapsed under the strain of umpteen surgeries) MJ will be remembered for his amazing music and he will live in our hearts forever as an outstanding singer and musician.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

FEAR AND BRAVERY

A conversation with a person whose profession involves a daily display of great courage prompted this post. The point of conversation was “what makes a man or woman continue with an action or perform one in the full knowledge of its risks”? Bravery in most dictionaries would be defined “an act of fearlessness in the light of obvious danger”.

In the real sense bravery is a lot more complicated than this simple explanation. For one, bravery would not so much be fearlessness, than the “mastery of fear”, or a disciplined dealing with that fear. I doubt there would be any man or woman who would not feel fear in a dangerous situation. These are different types of situations. Those of immediate and sudden danger (like coming face to face with a large cobra) where it’s mostly a rush of adrenaline that prompts a reaction, than a thought-out counter attack. And those of prolonged danger like wars and battles. In the first case, one doesn’t necessarily have been of great courage to protect oneself. But in the second, the imminent danger grows upon you. It would require great resolution and strong spirit to continue, and jump into the line of fire knowing very well the risks of the undertaking.


Bravery has been described by the psycho analyst Schleps as “a disposition to voluntarily act, perhaps fearfully, in a dangerous circumstance, where there are considerable risks, in an effort to obtain some perceived good to oneself or a community, knowing that the desired good may not be realized.”
This definition brings forward many interesting angles:
A) The action must be voluntary, not coerced.
B) Bravery must involved judgment, a full understanding and acceptance of risk and consequences.
C) Bravery requires a presence of danger, risk, potential injury, loss. With out a sense of these, there is no bravery in the act.
D) Bravery is more a mastery of fear, than fearlessness.


I think it’s an insult to call a man “fearless”. Its equivalent to being called “brainless”. People distinguish between courageous and foolhardy action. Thoughtful courage is a quality practiced by very few, while “rashness and boldness”, fearlessness without forethought is very common. Let’s just say there is a thin line between courage and foolishness. It is prudence which provides the wisdom to assess a potential danger and worthy of bravery or not. Action towards a worthy end would be considered more courageous than simply a risky action. For example, trying to take on a gang of rogues all alone, without back-up, and getting your bones broken, over an ego-issue would be foolhardy. Better pick your battles and be called a coward. The sign of a truly brave soldier is to fight the right wars, and walk away from worthless squabbles.


Actually fear and bravery complete each other…there is none without the other. Fear has to be overcome to be brave. Conquering fear of bodily injury or physical pain is the most classic form of bravery, as bravery in a battlefield....…Bravery is usually considered doing what is right; therefore it takes a moral tone. We would be reluctant to consider a murderer a brave person, though he might have taken great risks to commit his crime.


Endurance, a form of moral bravery, entailing a patient suffering over a long period of time can be described as the primary form of bravery. Moral bravery compels a person to do what he/she thinks is right, despite fear of social economic consequences.


People in small units or strong social groups who witness each others' valorous action may feel inspired to act courageously themselves, as in an army platoon. The cohesive unit further supports bravery. Those engaged in dangerous tasks like bomb-disposal squads are usually a very well-adjusted group among themselves. So are sects and tribes, like the Masai-tribe of Africa, known for their brave warriors.


It’s interesting to note how the concept of true bravery changes with years. People come to conceptualize bravery differently as they mature. Very young children perceive physical acts as braver than psychological ones. Adolescents have a more complex psychology, and understand social risks regarding various acts of bravery. Younger people are more prone to commit adventurous or thrilling acts of bravery, while older people are more likely to engage in moral acts of bravery.

What do you feel bravery is to you?

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

SUMMER LOVE



Its spring again!

Today is the first day of spring for me. It has sprung at last! The most strategically placed tree in my garden, the one with hangs over the porch, for first time in months has sprung with fresh little green leaves. What a lovely green it is! Light, almost like green glass, delicate too and fresh like the first whiff of lemon. Soon this tree would be lush with huge clusters of star-shaped white flowers, and early morning I’ll find a soft white flowery carpet over my lilies which grow under this tree.


The spell seems to be breaking all over my little garden, actually. For all things that slept seem to be awakening suddenly to plunge into a happy contemplation of the sensuous…. There is color everywhere!


I love spring. Especially after suffering in these North Indian winters completely bundled up in heavy woolens for good three months. February feels like freedom! It might sound quirky, but I love February and am especially jovial in this month. The name itself is so poetic. It has the freshness of a dream. My parents were married on first of this month, and I fondly remember my childhood years when the month started with a great exciting anniversary party. My heart rejoices!


March marks the onset of blooming flowers and fresh greenery. The sun is awesome! Delightful warmth and light. The earth almost selfishly fills her lap with pleasures of her own. All creatures are buzzing with creative energy, the busy bees, the twittering birds, wasps, ladybugs, butterflies…..white and purple lilacs, poppies a fiery red, clusters of yellows and oranges, sweet-peas and their mad, heady fragrance even more potent in the afternoon sun! I can imagine why spring inspired many a Keats and Coleridge.


To celebrate March we take little walks out side at all times of the day, me and my little girl. She loves jumping over puddles, catching ladybugs, chasing butterflies and calling out ‘made-up’ names of all our glorious flowers. Our simple adventure helps us capture the beauty of nature in its full glory everyday.


Tuesday, February 24, 2009

ON A MAD SLUMDOG THAT WAS LET LOOSE

Oh hell, it’s happening again. The Oscars just happened last night and once more the mania over Slumdog Millionaire, Rehman, all the ‘unreal-award-winning’ and ‘I want a share of the hype’ begins in earnest. The last time was the Golden Globe furor when the media went crazy and NDTV awarded the movie ‘NDTV India’s achievement award’. What in the name of God is that? Hello, wake-up! It’s not even an Indian movie!


Anything and everything that could be said about Slumdog Millionaire has been said. I don’t need to add my enlightened views really, I just saw the movie too late to honestly make an original opinion and post it on my page. I’ll just say I didn’t like it all that much. I was baffled, actually, that the movie got such humongous accolades. I mean one would expect it to be awe-inspiring, but it was just an average storyline. Total Bollywood style. The actors couldn’t act for nuts. The screen-play was no great shakes. I mean, watch movies like the “Aviator” or “Flight-Plan”, or even “Dark Knight” and you’d know what I’m trying to say. The pathos filled atmosphere which slums of India can generate too is not a new theme for westerners. Besides, I found “Blood Diamond” created more pity, if we talk of pathos. At least there was something new to see, what’s new about India’s slummishness? This time a Brit decides to lap it up in a movie.


A movie written, directed and produced by Britishers. What is so Indian about it other than the fact that it’s about India’s disgraceful third-world poverty? Indian media is going bananas calling it an ‘Eighter’ for India (referring to the eight Oscars won by the movie). How come? Other than Rehman, what’s Indian achievement in it? That we are a poor nation, and hence we provide great themes for the superior white gentry? Unfortunately the common Indian has only so much pride. No more, no less.


The only thing good out of it is that A. R. Rehman finally got a chance to be competing for the Oscars. That says nothing of the movie. Rahman always does brilliant work. He just needed a vehicle to get in the nomination, which Slumdog Millionaire provided.


That too was tainted for me when I recently read a blog which started with “It takes two South Indians to win the first Oscar awards for this Great nation”. Takes a racist to ruin the fun, doesn’t it? Next it’ll be the Muslims jumping for a piece of the pie. And that’s how the cookie crumbles. As though being a Muslim/South-Indian is what it takes to make a genius. Ha! I wish. This is not even the first Oscar India has got. And what’s an Oscar anyway?? What has it got to do with us? I perceive a national award in India as a greater honor than an ugly golden statue from the Americans any day.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

LIFE IS BIG!!!!


A WORKER RESTING ON BALES OF COTTON, THONAKAHA, IVORY COAST. I SIMPLY LOVE THIS AWESOME PHOTOGRAPH.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

NEW YEAR, RESOLUTIONS AND LESSONS


Hello New Year. You’re here again. Oh no!! It’s that time again when everyone’s making resolutions. Well, well, well. Why do we make resolutions when the New Year is around the corner? I cannot recall the last time I made any that stuck around for a while. I do recall I suck royally at keeping ‘em. What the hell, man, every time I’ve made one, I’ve been scratching and pawing the next minute to break it! So, somewhere sometime I decided to just fall off the wagon. What’s the point of the whole deal anyway? Aren’t resolutions made to be broken? I seem to do just the opposite of keeping a resolution, simply because its disaster waiting to happen. And what must happen must happen.

Besides, there’s something distinctly morose about the eve of another year. Its like, “Sigh! another year gone”, “what did I particularly achieve in the year gone”, and even if you’ve pocketed some good ones, you just cannot freaking remember them when you are a few shots down, and wondering if you looking older than you looked at last new year’s bash.
AAArgh!! Me and my low spirits. Believe me, as the years are going by, I’m just packing up and snuggling into my bed earlier and earlier on the night of 31st December. Who wants to party away while getting a step closer to death man. Last night I nodded off at 9 o’clock, yeah.

Anyhow, today I decided passing years are'nt altogether " times that flew by". They do bring certain wisdom, maturity and newness to life, too. so i thought, let's at least list out some lessons learnt from the past year, if not a list of resolutions. The absurdity of it all tickles me a bit, for I know there will be similar lessons at the end of next year too….. Drat! we'd never stop learning, and will die doing so!!

1. January last year started with a huge lie which someone dished out to me, which I’d believed and rejoiced in. I got to know it’s a lie only in December, after living the whole year in it. Lesson learnt: kindly revert back to your old suspicious self. Let the doubting Thomas in you have a field day, whenever anything “too good to be true” happens.

2. A shift to a new place (infested with weird jerks) made me realize I was surrounded by some awesome people, who I always took for granted. Lesson learnt: give people more credit, and the benefit of the doubt.

3. I know the first and second points are contradicting, but such is life!

4. Let things go. Its really not the end of the world.
5. Practice silence. Please do so! I've lost count of how many times I've tasted my own foot in my mouth!
Also, work more on the public appearance, it does'nt hurt to beat the aging, and balding!

6. Appreciate something good, when you have it. Like relationships. We all have only a handful in today’s world. We must learn to really cherish them.

7. Help out. Help someone, do something for him/her if you can. Lend a hand. It’s a wonderful feeling to be a part of a team!

8. Be kind. Even if you find it difficult. I find it difficult. It takes too much out of me. Also its a continuos effort, for once you're kind to someone, you've in a way signed a lifelong pact with him. you can't just go back to being unkind. People have been kind to me in the last year when I’ve least expected it!! It’s given me great strength. At the same time, people I’ve expected understanding and good-will from have really let me down. Sad. :(

9. Smile more. :)
when I look at my old photos I see that as a li'l kid, I always looked poker faced. As a teen, my face had a perpetual sullen scowl. Early twenties, it turned to haughty disdain. It's only now in my late-twenties, my expression is miraculously turning into a pleasant smile, and I'm loving it!!

10. Lastly, be careful of what you wish for, it might just come true! :)

Have a great New Year, folks!!


Tuesday, December 23, 2008

FIRE ON THE MOUNTAIN

I just finished reading this book by Anita Desai. And like it is with all her books, I had mixed feelings throughout the exercise. Let me describe the usual ontogenesis of thoughts on her books. Every time I have an Anita Desai on my night-stand, I just let it lie for a couple of days, tingling with anticipation, fringed with some apprehension. Anticipation because I know it would be a delight to my literary senses; apprehension because I know the storyline would be disappointing and I will have to make a supreme effort to “get” the whole “existentialism” bit and chew on it for a while. I can’t help it. I love my Jason Bourne series as much as my Desai collection.

Despite this, after suffering through many South Asian novels about women and oppression, It’s always marvelous to read a Desai book, for I love the strong, de-glam woman characters in her writings. Stripped of all tinsel, they are raw, provocative, yet sublimely suffering, and somehow reveling in it!


The admirable quality in all her works is, Desai does not attribute any ideology to her characters. She is a minute observer, who perceives everything delicately and rather poetically. In particular, she voices the mute miseries and helplessness of women tormented by existentialist problems. She examines their psyche when they are confronted with the absurdity of life. This draws her attention to the darker side of life. She projects a tragic vision in her novels by placing her female protagonists in hostile situations. She simply wants to explore their psychological conflicts and struggles. There is never a word uttered about the oppression that these women have suffered through their lives. The injustices and oppressions are for the reader to derive.

This book is a simple portrayal of three women who have a found a way to live in contented seclusion and the existential angst experienced by the female protagonist Nanda Kaul, an old lady living in isolation. The radical refusal of Nanda Kaul’s previous but exhausted role as a mother and wife, her solitary retreat into an inhospitable Kasauli landscape. It also projects the inner turmoil of a small girl, Raka, who is haunted by a sense of futility. Raka is a most mysterious and unnaturally complicated child character in the entire gamut of Indian fiction. Children her age have typical interests like fairytales, butterflies etc, but Raka regales in ugliness, destruction, danger and despair. Her imagination is weird and she is irresistibly drawn to strange things. Thirdly, it presents the plight of a helpless woman, Ila Das who is in conflict with forces that are too powerful to be encountered, resulting in her tragic death.


Like all her other works, the present novel contains neither any story value nor events that are interesting by themselves. The story element is very thin and there is practically no action except for the tragic end, which itself is so abrupt that you are left wanting more, simply to make the story in your head end!

But Anita Desai’s an exceptional writer with rare sensitivity and perspective. She’s certainly brilliant with her existential themes of solitude, alienation, the futility of human existence and struggle for survival. The imagery in the book is breathtaking. It’s rich with her love for the “prey-predator” imagery. Images of ugliness, loneliness, destruction and annihilation are consistently used to reflect the existential tone of the novel. An atmosphere of solitary introspection is created.


In fact, deprived of its strong imagery, “Fire on the Mountain” would be an ugly skeleton, chilling the reader…..the significant house imagery, the images of plants, colour, atmosphere and moon, the mountain fire, all contribute to the textual density and symbolism of the novel.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

NOORIE

A beautiful girl was born to my servant about four years ago. Their first-born. The young couple named her Noorie after the father, Noor Hussain. The servant Asmaan, was herself just about a woman, gentle, her hair a soft black cascade down her back. Noorie came into their world after a late-term miscarriage of a previous pregnancy and many following prayers in their local Masjid. What a precious child she was! I was impressed by the hygiene and precautions that were taken by Asmaan in her daily baby-chores. Fresh buffalo milk was bought for her every morning, from the “officers’ doodhwaala”, as though that itself ascertains its purity! She was always in crisp clothes, warmly nestled in the winters. There was endless talk of Noorie getting good education in the future. I felt satisfied in the knowledge that at last, they (by that I mean, the poor, downtrodden, laborers, strugglers, the servant class, in one word) understand the necessity of educating a female child.


I remember buying a pair of pretty pink shoes for her from lifestyles, for her first birthday. Soon after that my daughter was born, and we moved away.


We moved back into this town recently, and after settling down, just a house away from our old bungalow, I decided to hunt my old maid out and employ her again, vouching for her obedience and gentleness. It was sardonically pointed out to me that Asmaan might not be the same person three years down the line; poverty gets to everyone in the end. I might be in for a nasty surprise.


Well, I was nastily surprised. Asmaan now lives in the white-washed line of servants’ quarters behind our neat row of gardened bungalows. She has had two more babies, in the two years, all girls. My new maid tells me it’s the quest for a son. There’s certain hardness about the gentle Asmaan I remember. Maybe it’s her hair. They seem pulled back and tied too tightly. Every now and then I hear a cacophony of kids and her harsh voice, followed by trademark snippets of slapping and lashing. Noorie is being beaten black and blue for mischievousness.


Noorie……sigh. Noorie does not go to school. She is no longer a prim loved only child who had only buffalo milk.. There are more mouths to feed below her. A bevy of them, another on the way. Thin as a reed, chapped cheeks, unslippered feet scurrying about, soiled clothes (not enough of them, though) I see her playing over her once-doting father’s rickshaw. Her hair is that characteristic color poor children have. An unkempt light brown. One of her jobs is to care for her youngest sibling when mummy’s gone for work. She beats up her young sisters every chance she gets. Maybe there’s an unsaid complaint in her heart. Maybe she subconsciously remembers those long gone hours when her mother cooed softly into her tiny ears. Soft loving words, a warm lap snatched away from her only too soon. Maybe she knows she has seen better days.


Sometimes my girl goes back there and bullies Noorie. My three year old is treated with great reverence out there in the back…..where our kitchen garden ends and the servant’s squalor begins. Even at this oblivious age, my baby somehow understands she’s supposedly superior to that dark dirty bunch there. How? I watch from my bedroom window. How? I want to know. Aren’t children the same? Gifts of joy from God?


Last week I gave Asmaan some sweaters for Noorie. I have yet to see Noorie wearing them. I wonder what Asmaan has done with them. Sold them perhaps?

Thursday, December 4, 2008

DOG-WORTHY

What are we doing wrong? Rather, what are we doing?


When did India boob so wretchedly? This was supposed to be the land of Asoka, Chanakya, Gautam Buddha, Shivaji, Bhagat Singh, Chandrashekhar Azad, Dr. Ambedkar. It's being run by a sorry bunch of asses. Where and when did we cross that line which seperates a progressive, growing nation from a mutative, cancerous one? Was it when Pakistan was born, or when Jawahahar Lal Nehru happened? Or when the LoC was drawn? Was it when Rajiv Gandhi was bombed to death, or when we bombed ourselves into nuclear ignominy at Pokharan? Was it when we learnt the lesson so dear to Gandhi? Put the other cheek forward. Keep getting slapped royally. Souls riddled by bullets, slapped not just by Islamic fundamentalists and extremist terrorism, but kicked in the gut by our own leaders, time and time again.


Thank God Gandhi's not alive to see this day. But look whose preaching Gandhian philosophy to us?! Sanjay Dutt. A criminal druggie shitbag caught with AK-47 assault rifle, who has been tried in TADA court and known to have contact with Dawood Ibrahim !! His two-penny wife is initiating peace-rallies in Bombay. I would have been laughing, if only the joke was not on us.


Abu Salem ( God knows for what reason! ) has still not been hanged to death. His floosy wife Monica Bedi, instead of rotting behind bars, or at least, hiding her shameful face forever, has become some kind of celebrity, and participating in that useless show "Big Boss" after consorting and globe-trotting with Abu Salem for years!! That's the sort of people we Indians have evolved into, we like to accept and encourage crap, when its being handed to us on a golden plate.


The Chief Minister of Maharashtra has the gall to take Ram Gopal Varma in his entourage to Taj, post attacks, to assess damage, and of course, the underlying inspiration and creative-hints to make movies. His loser son Ritesh Deshmukh also troops around in his fancy sunglasses and Armani shirt. How kind and considerate of him to wear black. The Chief Minister of Kerela is so mortified by Mr. Unnikrishnan's refusal to meet with him, he stoops to the level of a street-dog himself. " Not even a dog would visit this house if his son was not a martyr". Well, Mr. CM, not even a dog will piss on your face now even if you were begging for it.


Never before have the polititions of India made a bigger mockery of themselves and our democracy, than they have in the last week. Each one of them is running helter-skelter trying to save his chair. Vilasrao Deshmukh has taken days to resign, when he should have been the first! It's just so unbelievable. How drunk on power these polititions are! How crude, how heartless, how insensitive, how stupid !! They don't have brains, that's a given...but they don't seem to have hearts either!


WHY??why have we chosen these clowns to run our country? Its time now, to change it all. This is our last chance. We have to. Or else they will go down, and take us along with them.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

TRUE HEROES



In memory of Late Maj Sandeep Unnikrishnan (10 BIHAR/NSG) who gave up his life bravely fending off a terrorist hostage situation in Mumbai. A tribute also to other men who lost their lives fighting the same battle. You have done our country proud. May you rest in peace.
There have been a million emotions whirl pooling inside me last few days, ever since the fateful night terrorists barged their way into our Mumbai hotels and into the very fabric of our democratic spirit . Anger, disbelief, helplessness, humiliation……then the next day, there was adrenaline pumping as NSG commandoes slithered down the ropes onto the roof of Oberoi…….relief….so much of it ! Utter pride and speechlessness at their bravado. Pure AWE. My chest filled with pride and fear for them as I saw the NSG men do their jobs with such discipline, finesse and patience considering it was a potentially life-threatening scenario. My heart was bursting as I watched Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan’s funeral. Tears streamed down from every eye around me.

It’s been difficult to get my thoughts together. Even more so it’s been difficult to put them in words. I’ve just held back from writing anything on the Mumbai attacks because writing an unbiased observation is proving to be very tough.

The first flash of thought in my head as I heard Sandeep’s name as casualty was his wife. Had she heard already? Was she watching the drama unfold on television? Had someone been kind enough to inform the family before they learnt it on the tele?
It was a relief to learn he was unmarried. My husband too is a non-resident kerelite, from Bangalore and he would probably be among the first to go across the border if a war breaks out. It’s difficult to not be biased. It’s difficult to not be emotional. And pissed. More later….

Thursday, November 13, 2008

THE AUDACITY OF HOPE ?

Barack Obama has arrived. Welcome to the jungle, Obama.
Let the fun and games begin !
I am sure every third blog here has a post on Barack Obama. There’s nothing new to write really. But the truth is, despite a sub-conscious vow to not give this hoopla a stamp on my acknowledgement, this crazy Obama-fever that’s gripped us is beginning to ruffle my feathers a bit. I am now compelled to share my views on this whole gig, from the vantage-point of an urban Indian.

Actually, what I want to know is why is India working itself into a frenzy celebrating his victory? Have you glanced at the newspapers recently? “Obama for change” , Obama for hope”, “ It’s a great day, a new dawn, not just in America, but in the world also “. Belch….

I hear he has been compared to Nelson Mandela and Mahatma Gandhi ! This a going a tad overboard….isn’t it a wee bit premature too? Obama stands for change, but why are we going gaga over him for that? Nothing is going to change for us. Uncle Sam will still be, well, just that. True, he will go down is history as the first black president of United States of America. His dramatic campaign and astounding victory has seized the imagination not only of American voters but of the whole world. But then, I feel we overestimate the US government, and underestimate the average American. Don’t we?

Its fantastic that a country that enslaved blacks for centuries, where blacks weren’t allowed to even vote till 1964, should now elect a black president! It’s a triumph for Obama, all Americans and the idea of America. But what has it got to do with us?

Let’s try and analyze this election as a layman. One candidate promises too much while the other has delivered too little. So, neither candidate is quite convincing. Senator Obama is charismatic but alarmingly vague while his challenger is politically sound but unnecessarily peevish. Senator McCain has fought a sometimes mean-spirited campaign. Mr. McCain is by far the sounder candidate. He is a tax cutter, a believer in small government, a zealot for free trade. He may have made something of a fool of himself with his grandstanding during the banking crisis, but he was not alone in that (though Mr. Obama wisely kept his counsel).

If the Democrat nominee were a white man with exactly the same CV as Mr. Obama, the result of the election would most likely be a landslide for whomever the Republicans nominated, in spite of the Bush legacy. I believe the term used by clinical psychologists for the adulation heaped upon Mr. Obama is “overcompensation reaction,” and is in some way an effort to make up for the shame over nearly 400 years of white over the brutal institution of slavery.

Besides, who was Obama’s opponent, anyway? I don’t see what the big surprise is if we consider this aspect. I mean, look at McCain. A seventy plus frumpy, blue-blooded, stiff republican with both legs in the grave. After an eight year republican reign its not surprising that democrats have won the elections. Isn’t that what always happens in US politics? What’s new? After a lame-duck president ( I am referring to Bush ) whose government policies have only disgraced the nation and brought an uproar, its only natural that someone as unconventional as Barack Obama would steal the voters’ hearts.

There can be no doubt that it is Obama who has sprinkled the campaign with stardust. The prospect of America having its first black president has energized millions - not just ethnic minorities but also the young and those who have never voted. If running a text-book campaign was the primary qualification for the office, Mr. Obama would
be a shoo-in. He has scarcely put a foot wrong throughout this seemingly interminable contest. His life-story, his family, his presence, his eloquence all make him the perfect 21st-century candidate. He has been in the right place at the right time.

Yes, his uncanny win has inspired many a “down-trodden” all over. His victory has given wings to many dreams. A black man with a weird name ( it rhymes with “ Osama”, for Chris sake! ), and a Muslim background is now the most powerful man in the world. Until now, its all fine, but why is he being painted hero to all colored creeds, dalits and generally the less bestowed in India by the media? Somewhere I read “ the dalits of India see Obama as the symbol of black power”. Whaaat??

And why are our political leaders jumping and clapping? What are the expectations? How is he different from any other guy who might have won the presidency of USA,as far as India is concerned? It would be insanely foolish to expect Barack Obama to make all right with the world. Mostly people in the U.S. and the entire world will have to accept a set of compromises that, on balance, might make the world better. Barack Obama has come this far on a spell of rhetoric and charisma. Now he must undertake a responsibility for which those qualities will not necessarily qualify him. Mr. Obama has so far displayed a mixture of immaturity and naivety on questions on Foreign affairs and International security.

Barack Obama while studying at Harvard

 On a human level, I love Obama and all that he is made to stand for. Firstly, he hasan impressive appearance and charismatic style. I admire his personal strength and perseverance. His mixed-genes and unconventional past give him the air of a lovable renegade. Secondly, I’ve read many “50 facts you didn’t know about Obama” articles. Yes, his favorite movie is Casablanca, yes he has experimented with marijuana in college. Yes, he’s a family man who once left a bachelor’s party when the stripper arrived. All very cute. But, But. Obama has only just won the election. Thanks to an interesting background and a very smart campaign committee. He has yet to do anything for the world, till now he’s only worked hard on himself.
Let’s take a look at his predicted Foreign policy, shall we? For the last eight years, US agenda has been very cut-and dried. Military oriented. George Bush has made as ass of himself in Iraq and Afghanistan. Arrogant, greedy, bullying, destroying and now failing America desperately tries to reinvent itself as a liberal; right on, 'look we even have a black President' beacon for multiculturalism and democracy. Not a good legacy for the new president. We expect Obama to want to just wipe-out this nasty aspect of their foreign history. Obama administration has been evasive in their revelations. What we do know of his policies is not encouraging - higher taxes, protectionism, a bigger role for the state, particularly in health-care. More “made in USA” troubles.
For those who believe that the United States' greatest strength - from which the whole world benefits - is the its boisterous free market economy, Mr. Obama presents a worrying prospect. Their economic stronghold is a mess and getting messier as we speak. Obama has spoken out against outsourcing and in favor of more rigorous international measures to combat climate change. US has slumped into the worst recession since 1929, and US unemployment is rapidly rising. The credit crunch has already made it difficult to finance trade. Obama has said in protectionist overtones that he would offer financial incentives to create jobs in the United States and has spoken out against outsourcing and in favor of more rigorous international measures to combat climate change. It should start making us nervous soon that south east Asia's relatively healthy economies will catch a dose of "American flu" earlier than we expect. What were you doing when your economy was receding, creating a bubble in the world economy pool? Now the whole world suffers.

There is also dismay over the idea Obama has floated of sending a third-party mediator to the disputed region of Kashmir. His pronouncements on India and Pakistan, which were music to the ears of people in India in the initial months of the campaign, became jarring during its closing days. The crucial issue in the region is the United States’ continuing involvement in Afghanistan and, in that context, its relationship with Pakistan.


In the initial months of his campaign he’d supported the initiatives taken by the Bush administration in relation to India and was critical of Pakistan's inadequate co-operation with the US in the war against Al Qaeda . He also criticized the Bush Administration for giving weapons to Pakistan, which it could use only against India and not against the Al Qaeda, under the pretext of strengthening its counter-terrorism capability. This got our political pundits dancing, but have they noticed that he has hardly acknowledged the Indo-Pakistan issues??Maybe Obama will actively seek to improve India-Pakistan relations so that they become predictable. Maybe not. His inclination to bring in Clinton as special envoy seems like he wants someone to pacify Delhi, while he focuses on Afghanistan. Obama is not naive enough to conclude that his route to Afghan settlement lies through the treacherous minefields of the 60-year-old Kashmir dispute.

Obama would most likely favor the retention of a military presence in Afghanistan under a NATO banner. He has repeatedly stated that not enough attention has been paid to Afghanistan and Pakistan. Mr Obama is also committed to incorporating Pakistan in a solution that deals with its Taliban. Pakistan has always been the pad on which USA has maintained its presence in the Indian-subcontinent. Paki’s have been obliging USA, while we’ve sat fuming. That isn’t going to change any time soon.



Obama and his foreign policy advisers will almost certainly emphasize a renewal of the non-proliferation agenda. Although the exact shape and scope of their policies is uncertain, it would likely involve a revival of CTBT. Another continuing bone of contention. A number of radical changes can be expected from an Obama foreign policy, some of which will directly affect India in a bad way.


Aides have also revealed that he intends to renew the commitment to hunting down Osama bin Laden. I’d personally like to see a withdrawal of U.S. military and shutdown of U.S. military bases throughout Europe and much of the world.


Diplomatic predicaments can at times be almost laughable. Man Mohan Singh may be patting himself on the back for the so-called “improved-relations” with USA under the Bush regime, what with Condoleezza Rice visiting India, and signing of the Indo-US nuclear deal. But they have only been whispering sweet-nothings into your ears, Man Mohan. Indian officials were scurrying around like headless chickens because 120 anxious hours had passed and United States president-elect Barack Obama had not yet put a phone call through to Prime Minister Man Mohan Singh - as he has done to at least nine other heads of state. Indians began to sound just like a long-suffering South Asian mother nagging her son abroad: Why haven't you called?

We talk down to the USA band-wagon. Why is our Government so anxious to climb on it? Why are we so taken by every new Tom on the US political scene? Obama can sing all he wants about peace in his “glorious” acceptance speech, but the truth is, USA is only a big-bully. It only took one attack at the world trade centre, and they’ve demolished two entire nations to dust shamelessly, and they tell us to “dialogue” with pakis on the Kashmir trouble?

Man Mohan pull your socks up, man.

Lastly, instead of getting dazzled by the starry victory of Barack Obama, and jumping and cheering for him like complete idiots, we need to sit and think on it. Just as the US has its issues with race, India has its with caste. People here are already beginning to talk of a Dalit becoming prime minister as the equivalent of an African-American becoming president of the US. Such comparisons miss one significant difference: Barack Obama became the 44th president of the US not by playing his race card, but by presenting himself as a candidate acceptable to all.That hasn’t happened so far in India, where leaders from a particular caste are more than happy to leverage this fact if it means an electoral victory. President-elect Obama’s campaign was inclusive. The election campaigns of most Indian leaders belonging to the so-called backward classes tend to be divisive. That’s no different from the politics of leaders from the mainstream parties, but that is a different issue altogether.

If we adore “change” so much and if Obama’s win brings so much “hope”, then why not do some changing in our ailing nation?
We need to find our own Obama.

Ps : I wish Atal Bihari Vajpayee was 30 years younger.

Monday, November 10, 2008

ODE TO A BLOODY CRAPPY DAY

A string of lousy days. Numbing cough cold meds. Crappy late nights monday morning blues. Groggy eyes parched throat. Early hour scramble scramble scramble. Groan, my baby has to be packed-off to her play-school. Why the shits is it so f**king cold in this part of our country? In november? November..........a fleeting image of Guns 'n' roses and men with long blond hair flashes in my mind..........my nails are turning blue. I've loved november all my life. I was born on the first day of this month. My whole family was born in this month. I don't want to ever feel blue in november. The love of my life is at some Godforsaken place where cellphones don't seem to draw signals, its his Birthday today, and I can't get to talk to him. Bummer. I've woken up blue.


7: 00 AM Am brushing my teeth, I notice the Goddamned geyser ain't coming to life. Side observation : I'm already having a Bad-hair Day. My little girl is attacking a stray lipstick on the dresser. rattles non-stop when I brush her teeth. She loves those bubbles.Chooses to become Tom ( yes, like all toddlers she's quite taken by Tom n Jerry ) while I am chasing her into her stockings, which means a struggle on all fours, pretending to be jerry, and graciously accepting an overslurpy, dramatised lick from her. I smile.



Her egg gets hard-boiled because I am busy trying to bring her and her Elmo-bag together. she promptly refuses it. Can't find my car-keys ( that's a first! ). Drop her to school in her pram, my legs buckling under me. Her teacher stares. The Ayah glares. A random mom sniggers. I stumble back home, today's doze of work-out done. Put a kettle of tea on the stove. Car needs fuel. I find keys in my purse, also confirm purse is devoid of money. Rush rush rush to the ATM hoping the car would take me to a fuel station. I hate Murphy. He makes me forget my pin-code. Numbers mumble jumble in my head. What's in my head? What's in my head? Zombie. . . . .Zombie......Cranberries. awesome purple, mauve Cranberry-juice. Stomach kicks at the thought. Forgot my breakfast. Holy mother of F%&* !!! I've left the tea boiling back home !



I want to yank my card out but its disappeared inside this buzzing screwed-up contraption. I wreck havoc. The guard steps in. He looks scared. Works his hesitant magic, one eye, wary on me. I rush back assess damage in kitchen. the kettle my aunt had generously gifted is a goner. I chuck it trying to tell myself some fengshui-crap about throwing away old things to make space for new. I try and recall what I was doing before this crisis. Search for the scrap on which I wrote all those pin-codes. Roll back to the ATM, grab the cash, silently scream MURDER at the guard. What the hell, I am having a bad day. My car flames out in the parking. I slump over the steering and blink.That freak guard smirks. I blink again. jackass, I'll break his face now.



11:00 AM Instead I walk back home. Frantically search for house-keys, knowing Murphy's riding my back. thank you, God, Thank you, ANGELS, they are in my jeans. I want to catch the gardener and send him with a jerry-can. The maid judiously informs me that the gardener has had a fainting-spell. He puked into the rose-bushes, she says. Needless to mention here, but I seriously seriously cringe. He drinks too much, didi, she adds. Bahut Daaru-Danga kartaa hai. Then she holds her palms out to display a gross mehendi design. Wierdo. Am squinting. My finer senses are offended beyond redemption. She wants the day off for a cousin's wedding. I just write-off my refueling troubles for tomarrow. It shall be another @#$# day.



1:00 PM My princess comes back bawling all the way from school...sigh ! school-rows. Samuel pulled her pigtails, it seems.Pat pat pat, feed her chagrined soul, pat pat her to sleep. I down cough-syrup down my throat. Conk-off nod-off.


6:00 PM Why does this garden look brown? The roses are feeling violated. Damn, an encounter with the nasty neighbour. Evil, evil woman. Her jealous heart makes me feeble. I crawl back in. A call from the big boss's wife. More crap to work through. A painful party is in store for the weekend. This entire week is a dead-end.


9:00 PM Maggie for dinner. With peas in it. I used to love this.


10:00 PM I can hear my servants quibbling in their quarters. Grunt. that's the bad thingy about winters in november. No fans to drown out whispers that have lost their way in the dark.


11:00 PM Nothing remotely decent on TV.......why in the raving hell am I reading this useless book? Arundhati Roy sucks, man.


Lights off.



ps: I am just disgusted.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

A QUOTABLE QUOTE

The only dream worth having is to dream that you will live while you're alive and die only when you're dead. Which means, to love. To be loved. To never forget your insignificance. To never get used to the unspeakable violence and vulgar disparity of life around you. To seek joy in the saddest places. To persue beauty to its lair. To never simplify what is complicated or complicate what is simple. To respect strength, never power. Above all, To watch. To try and understand. To never look away. And never, never to forget.

By John Berger.

Profound.

I stopped breathing for a while. Closed my eyes. I wanted to fully feel this feeling. Its the feeling akin to the one we get when we wash earth of our feet and nestle into our cosy bed. I could'nt help going over them again and again. Each time they made more sense, and each read-over made every doubt about it disappear. My hands and knees went slack and I experienced tranquility like never before. But then never before has the search for spirituality and peace been as desperate as it is in our times. These are desperate times. Mad hours. And I'm mad. Questions drive me insane sometimes. The answers are also questions in themselves. I furiously envy people who are religious, and who have the patience and discipline to follow an early morning cleaning and praying ritual. At least they know where to search for answers. Those days when I openly mocked God-lovers of the "Hindu-temple" variety are long gone. Now I yearn for their devoted fervour. I fancy I have my own relationship with God, but so far it had been a medley of mud-slinging, slew of complaints, maybe a pinch of 'thank you's'. Only now its dawning upon me that I'm actually one of the Blessed Ones, as I watch people's lives falling into a rubble of discontentment and disappointment around me. Pity it takes tragedy to count your blessings.

Anyway, the most bizarre thing, as I mulled over those words, was that I realized I happen to be a stark anti-thesis of whatever is being said here. I try to live a life which is a juxtaposition of rich flavours, but I am aware I'm almost humourously lackng in many ways. I'm fortunate enough to have people to love in my world, but usually I love them as convenient in my scheme of activity. They love me, yeah that for sure. In my sphere, I'm the most significant person, I could'nt care so much about the vulgarity or disparity as long as I can save myself from it. Leave alone seeking joy in it, I don't even like to be in a sad place in the first place. No, not at all. I do persue beauty, it tantalizes me, but its got to have a really good case to hold my attention-span. I, without fail, simplify what is complicated and complicate what's simple. I challenge strength and power. Believe me when I declare, trouble loves me!

Only now, as I'm getting older, I've started watching. I make an effort to understand. Only now, I've just about stopped tossing my head in the air with arrogance and looking away sullenly when I don't like the general turn of events. Only now, its dawning upon me that the object of life is sensation in its purest form and to grasp that form we require a lucid understanding of the inside and the outside. By "inside" I mean our mind, our thoughts, actions generating from these thoughts, and the consequences of these actions on the Universe. By "outside" I mean the Universe, the vast beyond, the orbits, the environment, the elements, the energies of our world, their concurrence and its result on our minds.
Only now, I understand how small and insignificant you and I are in the Grand scheme of events. we are all mere weightless dust particles floating in the air, with only our egos to provide buoyancy.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

THE LEFTY SYNDROME


I am left handed. What makes this interesting is the fact that we live in a right-handed world. In fact, only 13% of all the people in the world are lefties! So u see, not everyone is blessed to be left handed, it's an oddity bestowed on very few lucky people, and I happen to be one of them.

To start with, every now and then I hear rather astonishing and not to mention frivolous facts about left handedness. For example, did you know that Left-handers adjust more readily to seeing underwater? Damn! I should've been a deep sea diver. I would've aced my entire practical. Or that 4 of the 5 original designers of the Macintosh computer were left-handed! Wow, lots of diverse career opportunities seem to be suddenly emerging, looks like we might soon have a super-duper memory chip named after "free-lefty-fallin". Who knows? The world (underwater, more specifically) lies open before us!

The weirdest thing I heard was that lefties are going to die earlier than the right-handed ones because the heart is closer to the left side and the left ventricle has to push the blood with greater force because it has to supply blood to whole body so if we do all the work with left hand it would put much pressure on our left side even in heart attack a person's left side suffers pain, blah, blah, blah…..
what a load of crap!!

Jokes apart, there is an impressive list of famous lefties. I must add, being left handed, we are in great company (or maybe these famous lefties are in great company). Left Handed Actors: Abhishek Bachchan, Amitabh Bachchan, Pierce Brosnan, Jim Carrey, Charlie Chaplin, Robert DeNiro, Matt Dillon, Hugh Jackman, Sylvester Stallone, Bruce Willis……
Actresses: Drew Barrymore, Kim Basinger, Greta Garbo, Whoopi Golberg, Angelina Jolie, Diane Keaton, Nicole Kidman, Demi Moore, Julia Roberts…
Musicians/Singers: David Bowie, Kurt Cobain, Phil Collins, Bob Dylan, Mark Knopfler, Ricky Martin, Eminem, Sir Paul McCartney, George Michael, Seal, Paul Simon, Ringo Starr, Sting, Beethoven…
Cricketers: Wasim Akram, Brian Lara, Sir Gary Sobers, Alan Border, Saurav Ganguly, David Gower, Graham Pollock…Scientists: Marie Curie, Albert Einstein, Alan Turing….Politicians: Bill Clinton, Thomas Jefferson, JFK, Ronald Reagan, Colin Powell, George Bush, Fidel Castro….Is that really amazing? Or is it just 13% of the world's achievers? Doesn't it just fit the ratio?

I actually grew up thinking there is a reason why someone is left-handed. As a kid, I loved romanticizing it all…..we are the special ones, lefties are different, more creative, "off-the-usual-path" thinkers, we are meant to do greater things, so on and so forth……in reality, we are just a bunch of odd people with a snooty-hangover and whole heap of practical problems!
For one, it's a right-handed guy's world. Every gadget is designed keeping him in mind. Utter failure in handling these items correctly has plagued our existence. Take a small thing like scissors. They have to be held at a certain angle in your right hand for them to work effectively. Swiss-knives. Calligraphy-pens. Video cameras. Normal cameras. Can openers. Writing chairs with flaps on the right side. Scales and squares. Same story.

Vessels and utensils with beaks are made so that fluids can be poured while holding the handle with right hand. Momma, don't scold me for spilling your broth! It's an unfair world!

There are a dozen everyday activities in which I am forced to use my right hand. The computer mouse always lying on my right side, it's a nuisance to keep making space for it on my left side. And even when I do that, my middlefinger is doing the job of my forefinger. Another task challenging my inherent capabilities is holding that heavy puja-thali with my right hand and doing "aarti" for good-ten minutes. Credit card swipe machines are actually hostile to left-handers. Every move, from swiping card at the doorway to punching code, was engineered for a right-handed person. So user-"unfriendly"!

Worst case scenario…in an examination hall your bench mate is an over zealous, selfish righty and he sits on your left. You are doomed.

Polo has to be played with the right hand. Most musical instruments have to be played with right. A guitar is a horror in the wrong side, though I hear Jimi Hendrix, the God of guitar was a left handed dude. Guess his technique died-young with him.
Most hilarious situations occur at the dinner table. First of all one needs to make sure he/she sits on the left of a right-handed eater to avoid knocking elbows. Believe me, a couple of times I've nearly been smacked with a bottle because I constantly elbowed a very hungry guest! Dining manners are a hitch when you start to use a spoon. We want to dig our pasta and fondue with the same fervour as the righty guy on the right, but there's always confusion about which hand to hold the fork and knife respectively with. Most of the Restaurants have taps on left side of their basins. If I'm eating with my left hand how the hell can I open the tap from the same hand?maybe the CEO of Crabtree or Jaquar bathfittings should look into this.

Sometimes, when you're writing a form or some such thing at a public place, people just stare at you as if you're from another planet, or Satan's advocate.......so annoying!! The icing on the cake is whenever someone sees me writing with my left hand they always ask me "hey! You lefty??" DUHUH!!!!
Finally, it seems over 2500 left handed people are killed every year as a result of using products made for right handed people. Food for thought, eh?

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Hello, Again....Hello...

Hmm, my long absence was beginning to get to me! I hate these unavoidable breaks, it’s been months since my last post. Life’s been twirling’ us on its toes….a shift of place, shaping-up my new home, getting the feel of this new town, its people, going over the entire process of forgetting old mates, making new friends and fitting in……the damn heat is intolerable, even inspiration has been evading me!
Finally, it’s good to be bloggin’ again.

I found my baby-girl howling when I reached her play-school to pick her up today. Oh, let me say one thing about my little two and a half year old bundle of joy – she is the ultimate drama-queen! And she believes howling and creating cacophony is the best, fastest and easiest method of getting your way. Sympathies reached out to the poor, harassed teacher. She was trying hard to console my little brat, who was obviously getting a kick out of the fuss!!
Well, the reason of the outburst was that I was out wrapping-up chores and was about fifteen-minutes late in getting to school, so she was the only kid left in the class.
Sanjana comes running up to me and sobs in utter consternation (these tots today are very well-equipped in expressions), “ mommy, all my friends have gone !”

I couldn’t help but ruefully smile at her distress. I wanted to tell her, “ all of mommy’s friends have gone too !” Woe! Such is life !! So simple the world is for sanjana - mamma, papa, friends……..how complicated it is for us.

I remember the time when we were children and it was so easy to make friends. How innocently trivial the qualifications were, how differently we gauged people. Hell, who gauged??? Just spill your name n get playin’, that’s all!! And how awesome those friends were, we related on such basic terms.

I find it gets loopy as we grow older. It’s hard to make friends without selfish reasons. We’re friendly with our neighbor because we might need help suddenly sometime. We’re friendly at work simply because its easer to be part of a gang. We have shopping-buddies, pool-buddies, squash-buddies, kitty-friends……we guard our secrets, we watch our words, we speak politely, we behave pristinely. Where are those friends we used to be maniacs with, fought with, shared our joys, sorrows, fears, crushes, everything!! Those days without guile, without malice, without ulterior motives…and those buds that lived those years with me…..how I miss them all! like happy shadows they sailed with me, my friends they were…..

Neil Diamond must’ve felt like me when he sang, “ shadow, when I was young, I used to call your name, when no one else would come, shadow u always came
Even today my deepest bond is with pals from childhood. Like me, even they’re caught-up in adulthood, eking-out in this mad, mad world. I’ve made many friends since them, but over the years, its become a mechanical process more than bonding. Faces, names come to my mind as I write this, people swim across from the sea of memories in my head. People come, they go, reality dwindles, and ghosts become reality. Things change and we change with things, but some things never do. Friendships from our obliviously gleeful childhood remain just that…static in time, like clippings from an old movie.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Who's the Prez?..er...Duh!!

I was generally killing time last afternoon watching Mtv-Roadies. Some game was on, a quiz. There were five girls in one team. All twenty-something barbies, smartness-personified, very well turned-out in their snug jeans, racer-backs and “we are ready to take on the world” attitude. One of the quiz-questions was- who is the president of India? The barbies were stumped! Not one of them knew who the president of India is!! I could not believe it!
A couple of them answered Abdul Kalaam.
One replied Dr. Shankar Dayal Sharma. God rest his soul!
One actually said,"Some lady...sushma, I'm sure."
One chose to not answer…wise, I should add….better to keep your mouth shut and have everyone think u're dumb, than to open it and remove all doubts.

My head reeled on witnessing this astounding spectre of stupidity and ignorance by people competing on a reality-show which will make the winner some sort of an icon. What is wrong with our generation? Does the urban-sprawl really throng with such dim dolts in spite of the IT revolution, the internet and newspapers? Looking good and making money seems to be the only goals that interest us youngsters today. Whatever happened to national-duties, patriotism and social responsibilities? What kind of a brick-work are we laying for the next generation? How can the young educated townies of our country who will lead India in times to come and spawn the succeeding generation not even know who represents India on the world’s political arena?

Some months ago, Pratibha Patil took on the leadership of India after much furor and debate. She is the first woman to become the President of our nation. Though, personally I feel Abdul Kalaam was the prudent choice, i admit i know nothing of either Patil's acheivement-profile or political-prowess, it was a proud and happy moment for me, not for any other reason, but because ours is a country where women have been oppressed for centuries. I took this huge event in history as a sign of all great things to come. For me it reflected education and sense in our “middle-class” India, and an open acceptance of new ideas without gender-bias.

I believe that in a democracy the political leaders are the face of a nation, pretty-much the mirror-image of the populace. They are what we are. If our leaders are a sorry-lot, its because we have, as citizens of India, chosen them to portray us to the world. And that makes us all a “sorry-lot”. How can we complain about the political-insanity and poor-leadership that pervades our nation when we, the future pioneers, have washed our hands off all concerns that are the root-cause of the macabre-madness? We deserve the uneducated-idiots, the Laalus and the Rabri-Devis; the foolish, pan-chewing politicians who have grasped our “awakening” nation by its head to drag it towards doom and darkness. We deserve it simply because we, the youth of India have shut our eyes towards any patriotic responsibilities. We are oblivious of who is the first citizen of our country, content sipping our coffee at barista and commenting at George Bush’s policy on Iraq.

We need to buck-up and get our act together real quick, guys.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

ASPIRATION

In each of our hearts there lie some dreams that we just let be. Every now and then we go back to them to enjoy their innocent magic, and smile at their untouched beauty. These lines are dedicated to the things that we choose to leave undone…..we leave them for some other time and place.....

Oh! Aspiration, every now and then
U creep in besides me
U’re potent ecstasy, u grow upon me
I gaze awhile at your fervid smile
U’re so close, yet too far away from me
Your distant fire I so admire
Your whispers are breathlessYou tease my burdened desire
U embrace me your gentle touch I require

U’re a burning, and a fever
U would cling to me forever

When I was restless, you were young
Every yearning together we had sung
Our stolen time, with lyre and rhyme
Should my heart feel to be a crime

I remember our 'everytime'.......
Kiss the first time for the last time
I glance in your eyes
The same look must be in mine
We agree, another place another time
Yes, alas! Another place another time!

U feel my laugh, I feel your sorrow
We look away, we await tomorrow
And though my faith is shaken
And your heart is broken
Oh! Aspiration
U’re the magic of mystery to me
Joy to my heart, dear to my soul u shall be

Thank heavens! My crisis is past
Your lingering freshness is over at last
For, of all tortures, this torture is the worst
Of wanting of water that quenches all thirst
Now like an opium-addict at bay
I return to mundane jobs of the day
Until u sail again in my reverie
Continuing- as dreams have been to me
Oh ! aspiration
A chaos of vivid color- I dream of u eternally.........

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

HAIL THE MIGHTY PANEER !



LOVE IT OR HATE IT, U CANNOT IGNORE PANEER.

Though a poor, country-cousin of the city-bred amul-cheese, paneer is omni-present in the fabric of our everyday pallete. Would we really relish it being a fleeting afterthought, it is thrust into our faces, time after time, ‘n’ number of times.

As such it has played its part in most global cuisines, but its energetic dominance over the Indian-menu cannot be taken lightly! Any food-joint of even a remotely decent standing, without fail, dedicates a string of pages to vague sounding paneer-delights….paneer-kurma….. pepper-paneer….. paneer-pasanda (uh-ok…)…. paneer-dikhush (u don’t say !!)….paneer-shahi (indeed !!)……paneer-kadhai (Zzzzz….)…Oh!! The list is crushingly endless……..
Much to the glee of the indian consumer it comes dressed as a spicy brazilian bride, doped with salsa-sauce at McDonald’s or as paneer-extravaganza at Pizza-Hut !!



At a glance, u could say there are two types of people in our world – those who eat paneer, and then those who don’t!! the paneer-eaters swear by their stock as though ‘roti-, kapda, makaan aur paneer were the aspiration of any ‘normal’ family. In northern India, paneer commands a near God-like veneration……if u are a welcome guest in a Punjabi-houslold, chances are you shall be appeased with a generous offering of hot paneer samosas, and paneer-pakodas, and paneer-patties….and…sigh…!

The non-eater clan wouldn’t be caught dead with paneer in their mouths, come hunger-pangs or sheer fainting-spells, their prejudice can only be described as unwavering!!

Well, let’s be fair! Paneer is the vegetarian’s fowl. Paneer is the implacable, invincible avenging hero of the “grass-eating” gentry! While the “meat-mongers” dig their teeth into succulent pieces of tandoori-chicken and exclaim a dismayed “tch-tch” at meager veggie plates, paneer sashays in and holds a decent front!! Besides, paneer has played a prophetic bit in saving the day for many a hostesses, drowning in the wake of unexpected dinner-guests!

In spite of the European-enlightenment and Americanized-options like macaroni-n-cheese, cheese-topped burgers, cheesecakes, paneer’s first-cousin cheese suffers the label of being “waist-expanding”…..therefore, ladies and gentlemen, an irrefutable component of every delectable banquet – PANEER IS HERE TO STAY !!

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