Friday, December 26, 2008

Social Initiative or Marketing Ploy?

I got this email today.

I am
(name removed) from (company name).

We have initiated a movement to donate Rs. 1 Lakh to the National Defense Fund, a fund for the welfare of the security personnel and their dependents on 26th January 2009. We want to contribute as a community and hence we are inviting people to join the movement. We want to contribute the money with 1 lakh names on the list.

In this endeavor I seek your help. You can help us reach more people by simply writing something about the movement or by adding the widget on (URL) on you blog.

Hope to get your support in bringing together as many concerned individuals as possible.

When I went to the website, I learned that they pledge to donate one rupee for every registration on their website. It is a website that provides information about service providers such as florists, bookstores and restaurants. When I register, it asks me for my preferences for updates about such items as computers and accessories, media and entertainment, and shoes. And then it asks me to "invite people I know to be a part of the movement". The site doesn't even mention anything about Rs 1 lakh. (That much? Really? Not only are they trying to emotionally manipulate us, they're being so cheap about it.)

I'm a marketer myself, but such "marketing" does our profession no favours.

Happy Holidays!

Sorry I'm late with my Christmas greetings, people! In my defense, my internet had conked out again - it appears a cable was cut off and it wasn't fixed till sometime Christmas day.

We had the most awesome Christmas lunch. The Guy, my mom and I went to Yellow Chillies and gorged on the buffet. The food was good, the service outstanding, and at a buffet! I told the Guy I felt like hugging someone at the restaurant and telling them what a great time I had had. He promptly offered himself.

I also took my mom to the Aga Khan Palace this week. There were nice lawns, and the building looked pretty and recently painted from outside, but was rather disappointing inside. The - umm, what do you call them? They were not paintings, rather like large pages of a scrapbook put up on boards, complete with old pictures, news clippings, and bits of writing. Anyway, the boards were filthy, with what looked like birdshit on them. The rooms were ill-lit, and then the power went off and we could view little since.

Continuing with my historical education, we are visiting Ajanta and Ellora this weekend. We only decided this morning, and I haven't had time to read up on them as I would have liked to. I'm much looking forward to it.

I'll be back to wish you all a Happy New Year. Happy weekending!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Phone Conversation of the Day - IV

Thanks to all your good wishes, the Guy at least seems to be recovering to his usual mean self.

The Guy's phone rang while we were at lunch today. I could hear a female voice at the other end deliver a long automated-sounding monologue. Apparently she was calling from a bank/financial institution and saying something on the lines of "humne aapke liye ek naya pension scheme nikala hai" ("We have created a new pension scheme for you").

The Guy asked, "So how much money are you giving me?"

A wide grin on my face. Some understandable hesitation on the other side. Then the conversation continues.

"Okay, you're giving me twelve thousand rupees?"

I look incredulous. Surely they must have realised their mistake by now?

After a few more seconds, the Guy calmly says, "Okay, I'll expect the cheque tomorrow," and hangs up.

"But you haven't retired yet," I object. "You can hardly expect them to give you money under a pension scheme right away."

"But unless they start soon, how can I have a comfortable retirement?" he counters reasonably.

I secretly think he's opened himself up to a lot of calling by that organisation who think they have got themselves an 'interested' subject. We'll see.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

How You Get Here - IV

As I'm still too sick to put down my thoughts coherently, let me entertain you with some search queries through which people have got here recently.
  • chateau indage - narayangaon: Now that brings back nice memories.
  • masturbation and wrinkles: See, my blog serves an educational purpose!
  • Buying Furniture as a couple: Was this a quest for advice, I wonder!
  • atticus finch demonstrate prudence: What exactly is this person looking for, do you think?
  • words for adventure: Maybe your purpose might be served with a thesaurus?
  • words from last names: You've lost me here.
  • words on marraige(sic) invitations: Sorry I can't help there.
  • liberal feminism on foeticide: If you mean abortion, I'm totally pro-choice. As for female foeticide and the like, I'm against it on moral grounds, but I don't see how you can stop it through legal action without severely restricting the rights of the mother. The best way to stop it would be through empowering women until the girl child is no longer viewed as a burden.
  • writing a letter about computer addiction: You are? To whom? And why?
  • nice m words: Why, are you trying your hand at alliteration?
  • bastard shashi tharoor: Well, I don't on principle hold with 'bastard' as a term of abuse, though I have been known to use it quite freely.
  • Updated on 22 December: This one was too good to miss - can we leave our flat and stay in other society in the same area

Okay, this exercise in narcissism is over. Regular blogging will resume soon, I hope.

Leave Request: Unmana Out Sick

I had been looking forward to doing some blogging this week, but the Guy and I are both down with fever. So we have been sleeping and watching TV and comforting each other. Pretty bad luck, as we had been planning to drive down to Lonavala, if not further, this weekend.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Reactions to Others' Reactions...

to the events in Bombay.

I'm a bit bemused at all the shock and the blame. Did it take this, an insane act by lunatics, to make us realise our government is inept and corrupt? We're surprised that politicans are trying to gain mileage out of this? That our media thrives on sensationalism? Does it take an attack on a posh hotel to make us cry? What about all the people who die in my Assam every year, of terror attacks? What about all the people who died in Orissa, as the Mad Momma writes about here? What about all the people who die of starvation every year, in a country that hosts the world's largest number of hungry people? Why did that never shock you into protesting?

People formed a human chain against terror. I'm sure terrorists must have looked at it and trembled. Why not go form that chain at our borders, and give our defence forces some relief?

Email forwards advocate war. How can thinking people pass on such a message? Is that what you want, war? Let me come out and say it - and I don't care whether you call me unpatriotic or cowardly - I don't want war. Not even if the Pakistani government itself sanctioned the attack. I don't want more innocent people dying, whether they are on this side of the border or the other. Not just a lot of people dying, but the ones left behind will also have much worse lives. Our 'developing' economy will be torn apart. And of course, the starving will starve sooner.

Read Annie Zaidi's eloquent post. Also read this.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Here I Am Again!

... and thanks to all of you who dropped by while your host was on leave, especially Chandni, who seemed to miss me.

Well, we finally got internet access in the new house, so I should be back for good. In other news, however, my mom's visiting, my friend Effe is coming over tomorrow, we are planning a weekend away next week, and then we have more visitors for a week around Christmas. So I shall be busy, and blogging might be sporadic. On the plus side, I seem to have lots of holidays this month, so it might not be that infrequent after all. (Okay, Unmana, make up your mind.)

Give me some time while I read the 1000+ posts on my Reader. And tell me what you have been doing with yourselves.

Friday, November 28, 2008

The Homes I've Lived In - Part II

Soon after my final exams, I moved to Delhi for my management studies. I lived in two hostels, there, neither of which I look back on with fond memories. My fond memories of b-school are of being in the canteen, on the college lawn, or even - gasp - in class.

I got placed in Gurgaon. I vowed never to live in a hostel again. With some help, I found a room with attached bathroom and kitchen that I could rent. I was very proud of living alone by myself, but the weekends were terribly hot and lonely. It was summer, and I had no AC, not even a cooler, no vehicle, no friends nearby, no TV.

I decided to move into a new friend's posh expensive apartment. That was definitely the swankiest (ok, the only swanky) place I've ever stayed in. Marble floors, granite bathroom - and to top it all, my roommate had an AC. Of course, it was too good to be true. Within a month, she decided to move back to her hometown and I was left holding the baby - in this case, an apartment with a rent that was nearly half my salary.

After some searching, I finally moved in with another new friend. I stayed there for about six months. The flat was large (or it looked so as we had hardly any furniture) and airy, and the colony was beautiful: clean, well-maintained, nicely lit, and with a lovely garden - with swings! Most weekends, my roommate would go home and I would have the house all to myself. I would walk by myself in the colony in the evening, or sit in the garden. It was peaceful, though admittedly lonely.

Then I moved to Pune. My employer put me up in a hotel for two weeks, though I spent some of that time with the Guy and his roommate. Then I moved in with them while I looked for a place. We found a dank flat in a run-down colony and took it because it was cheap and not too bad. We lived there for a year. (Technically, I lived there, but the Guy only went to his rooms once in a while, to sleep - he had moved too, by the way, because his earlier roommate was getting married and wanted to stay on in the same flat).

We got married, and the Guy officially moved in. We stayed on in that same flat for a few more months, but it had begun to seem increasingly small and shabby, especially as we had houseguests for much of the time.

We moved to a large airy 2-bedroom flat with nearly double the rent. It was summer, and the flat was so filled with natural light that our bedroom would heat up. I got heatstroke - partly due to that and partly to the bike rides to work, no doubt. but we were happy in that house. We felt well-settled, extravagant, having an extra bedroom with no occupant for most of the time. We lived there for over a year.

Then I changed jobs, and we moved to be closer to my job. We got a tiny one-bedroom flat half the size of the one we were leaving for nearly the same amount of rent. And then we found a flat we wanted to buy and booked it. The Guy went away for 2 months, and I appreciated living in a small flat. It was cosy, intimate, and comfortable, where I would have felt lost and lonely in a big house. There was hardly any room for furniture, though, and we wanted, at last, a sofa and a proper dining table. (Our earlier flat had come with some furniture - including a sofa, a double bed, and some cupboards.) We considered moving into a bigger flat. We considered renting one in the same area, so that I could be close to work, and putting our flat on rent. But finally we decided to move into our own flat.

The flat just got completed, and we got the keys some days ago. We hope to move in in a couple of days. It feels good to finally move into our own flat, to have the furniture we want, to 'settle down'. But I don't want to settle down. Part of me is a nomad at heart, and I hope we will move on from here as well in a couple of years. Till then, we mean to enjoy it.

Notice: We are moving tomorrow and likely to be without an internet connection for at least a week. I'll be back - do pray that I survive this ordeal.

Thursday, November 27, 2008


... at the events in Mumbai.

I have nothing to say, really. But I couldn't, somehow, put in another blog post as if nothing has happened.

Go read Lekhni, Falstaff, and Amit Varma.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The Homes I've Lived In - Part I

I lived the first few years of my life in Guwahati, in the house that my grandfather built . I think my father made renovations, added on a room or two. It was an old-fashioned house with a tin roof, wooden windows (no glass panes - as far as I remember!), a small veranda in front and a little garden where we had roses and chrysanthemums and a small backyard that had a mango tree and beds of vegetables. A bamboo fence that just about kept out goats and dogs. A large rose bush that grew large red roses with the sweetest scent. Orchids grew on the mango tree in spring. I spent much of my holidays playing in the garden and the backyard. I must have been happy. I remember little of that time now - I lived there till I was about eight.

Then my dad got appointed the superintendent of a boys' hostel, in addition to his teaching duties in college. So we moved to the superintendent's quarters. A house built by the British - wide verandas, a kitchen that was some metres away and to be reached by a covered passage through the backyard, a couple of rooms near the kitchen for the staff (we didn't have any, apart from the hostel gardener who looked after our garden and backyard too and a girl who sometimes came in for help, so we used them as storerooms and as a home for our ducks, when we had them - and I claimed one to play in). There was a little lawn in front and a garden that appeared large to me. The mali wasn't very good with vegetables (we got nice brinjals and okra, but the tomatos and potatoes were the size of cherries and the cauliflowers hardly bigger than roses), but he grew magnificent dahlias as well as roses, pansies, and other brightly-coloured flowers. There was also a bottle-brush tree that parrots favoured - they often pecked away at the seeds and left the bottle-brushes severed, lying forlornly on the ground. There was a tree - not very tall - in the garden that I used to climb, though it didn't seem to be a good idea doing this when the college was in session, as we lived right in the middle of campus. My mother had made me a swing in the backyard, with a piece of wood and a sturdy rope. This and the other attractions mostly occupied me - there were no children nearby to play with, except the hostel staff's children in makeshift huts nearby, and I was too shy to approach them. Besides, they were younger. Then we adopted two kittens. One of them left home after he grew old enough to fend for himself, but the other remained with us for as long as we lived there.

When I was about fifteen, my father got appointed the principal of the government college in Diphu, a tiny town in a hill district. We had an even larger house and garden there. And we lived right next to a lovely public garden. Diphu had long power cuts, and every evening when the power went off we would sit out on the verandah and gaze at the stars. The stars seem nearer in the darkness, seen through less polluted skies.

I was there for about two years: by then I finished school and left home to go to college in Guwahati for my 'higher secondary' studies. I was seventeen, naive, scared and painfully shy. I lived in the hostel for nearly two years. I grew to enjoy my time there, had lots of fun, made many friends, and paid hardly any attention to studies. By the time those years were over, my dad retired and we all moved back to Guwahati. The old house had been sold off, and we moved into a flat that we had bought some years ago. I had a nice little room with a balcony all to myself. I loved my room. There was a laburnum tree right outside my window, and I would draw the curtains and open the windows to let the light, colour and breeze in. I would sit and do my studies and write my stories. In the evening, I would often sit with lights off, the moonlight streaming in trhough the window. I was doing my BA then, and those three years was the last leisurely time I have had for any length of time.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

More Picture Blogging

For those who had asked a long time ago, and anyone else who's interested, a couple of pictures of our new home before we move in.

The living room

The balcony opening out from the kitchen

Our bedroom

While We're On Shopping...

Here are the most beautiful shoes I have ever seen. Never mind that they pinch my feet.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Fall Fiction

I always liked the American word for autumn. Fall. It brought to mind a picture of brown leaves falling picturesquely. But the few trees I saw from my balcony were green. Only a few leaves were yellow. And the plants in my balcony seemed to be dying. Oh, that must be because I had forgotten to water them. And there were cigarette butts in the pots. Oh well, if the previous tenant had wanted them they wouldn’t have left them behind.

I had been saving my last cigarette because I was feeling too lazy to go out for replenishment, but the sight of those cigarette butts proved too strong for me. I lit up and tried to recollect the events of last night.

I realised that those cigarette butts couldn’t be mine. I had spent no time in the balcony last night, and they certainly hadn’t been there yesterday afternoon.

Mark had spent almost the entire evening on the balcony, with Leila. That was why I had drunk so much, torturing myself wondering why he had come only to avoid me and flirt with Leila. Wishing everyone would go so I could give way to my self-pity. But I was the host and I downed cocktails and laughed loudly and danced till my head throbbed.

I finished my cigarette and was about to shove the butt into the pot. But instead I flicked it over the balcony and leaned over to watch it fall.

(Written as an exercise for Caferati with the subject "fall")

On In-Laws and Family

I have often wondered recently why I have no in-law problems. No, I'm not complaining, thanks for asking. But most married people, especially women, seem to have them. I had put my lack of them to me being phenomenally lucky to have wonderful in-laws.

That part still holds true, but I realised I wasn't giving another factor enough credit. The Guy. (Okay, for those of you who feel this blog is beginning to read like a Guy journal, stop reading this post now.)

This morning, I was cooking up a quick lunch while the Guy spoke to his mother in a language that I guess I've begun to understand (or probably I only understand it when the Guy speaks it). And from what I heard of that one side of the conversation, I could see that she was suggesting we move into our new flat on an 'auspicious' day. And I heard with some amusement as the Guy brushed her suggestion off.

And I suddenly wondered, what if he had been the kind of guy who would take such a suggestion seriously - either because he believed in it himself, or just to 'please his mother'? I would have been hurt, angry - and if I had given in, I'd feel frustrated. And probably blame the mother, not the son.

I remember when things weren't this great, when we had just been together for some time and had started to get to know each other's families. There was apprehension and eagerness to please on both sides. There were cultural differences - they even speak a different language. And I was insecure and scared of the influence his family had on him.

In a way, the cultural differences probably helped - any unfamiliar behaviour on my part was probably put down to a culture they had little knowledge of, where a bride of the same community might have been criticised more strictly. Any wounds were minor, and caused totally by accident. They treated me with kindness and respect, taking pleasure in the fact that I made the Guy happy.

The Guy and I grew even more happy and comfortable together. We soon learned that any decision in our lives were ours to make, that friends and relatives might offer their opinions - politely - but we would do what pleased us. Most of the times, we want the same things. And because disagreements are rare, compromises are easier.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

On Buying Furniture

With just a couple of weeks left till we – hopefully – move into our new flat, the Guy and I went hunting for furniture. And got a rude shock.

We saw a bedroom set that I loved, and that the Guy did not dislike (which is a compliment to the furniture). It included a large wardrobe, which we definitely need (our clothes currently jostling for space in the one steel cupboard, three suitcases, a couple of cardboard boxes, and the little wall cupboard we have); a queen-size bed, which we need but thought we could do without for another couple of months (we have been making do the past two years with two single beds pushed together and a double mattress - it's been holding up quite well, surprisingly); a dresser, which we hadn’t budgeted for but realised we couldn’t do without; and a nightstand.

We actually wanted to buy a sofa first. We will definitely need it to rest our aching backs, espeially after we make the move. But there was nothing remotely in our price range.

So we booked the bedroom set. They have promised we can have it in 25 days.

So even if the rest of our house looks bare and messy, we can rest in our luxurious bedroom.

And it looks like it’ll be that way for a while. Last night, we calculated – rather, recalculated, based on more realistic estimates – what it will cost us to furnish the entire house.

We’re stuck with this car, honey. And no foreign holidays for a long time.

But at least we’ll finally have a well-furnished home! Maybe we can sit together on the sofa and dream of exotic locations.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Banno's Lilkee

Banno very kindly sent me a DVD of Lilkee. This is not an unbiased review, because I was fully prepared to like it before I'd seen it.

And I did.

What had first made me want to watch the movie was
this lovely song, written by Banno herself. And I still like it so much that I sing it to myself and the Guy once in a while.

The movie was lovely. It felt real and unpretentious. Everyone acted well, and the story was touching. I found it a little slow, but that might very well have been because I knew the story already - plus, of course, it's a children's film.

The only bone I have to pick was that everyone was so nice in the movie and the problem seemed to sort itself out miraculously, with no details given. Yet in the world we live in, it's nice sometimes to catch a glimpse of pure sunshine.

For the entire story of the movie,
go here.

On Quantum of Solace

I watched the new Bond movie, and liked it. I haven't watched many Bond movies, and it's not something that's high on my list, given the apparent sexism and mindless violence. But this one had a Bond who was not really Bond. He had only one sexual escapade in the whole movie, makes no move on the heroine, and actually betrays emotion. The Bond girl is a strong, capable woman who is as focused on her goal as Bond himself is. And whose only physical overture towards Bond is an almost-chaste kiss at the end. Let me point you to this review, as I agree with it and can't write as well myself.

By the way, there are so many posts today because what with not being able to blog from work and long power cuts every morning, I haven't been getting much time online. So I had written a couple of posts that I finally posted today.

Three Years with the Guy

It has been three years! It does seem very long away, that time.

You had come over to meet me, at my insistence. I was overtaken by this urge to see you. We had spoken so much over the phone, grown so close. I remembered the friend I had had a year ago. but he had been reserved, restrained. Who was this guy who unfolded to me the secrets of his soul? I have to see you, I insisted. We need to meet, to decide where this is going.

Do you remember that cool, windy day? You were waiting for me as I arrived. It was early in the morning, and we had nowhere to go. So we sat on the stairs at the mall and talked.

Well, not so much. I was shy and you were nervous. You wondered why I was so quiet. It was difficult for me to reconcile the person sitting next to me with the friend I spoke to every day or even the friend I had known a year earlier. But then you made me laugh, and I saw both those friends in you again.

How magical that weekend was. We were together as we had never been before. We realised we wanted to be together that way, that we had walked beyond the boundaries of friendship.

Was it only three years ago? it seems like forever. We have come so far since then. There is less excitement now, perhaps. But there is also less fear and no doubt. Yet, so little has changed. We still talk for hours everyday. Life doesn’t seem worthwhile without that. And you can still make me laugh.

Three years ago, he had got me orchids. This time, I got these.

An Ad on Religious Conversion

...aired before my movie yesterday. Actually, it was an ad against conversion, and blatantly set forth the lie that trying to convert is an offence. It called for citizens to report to the police when such an act occurs.

The freedom to practise and propagate one's religion is a right guaranteed by the constitution.

Nowhere in the ad was there any mention of 'force' or 'coercion'.

I Watched Dostana

... last night. I'm not going to waste much more time on that movie, but I wanted to put down a few thoughts.

The one word I'd choose to describe it would be 'horrible'. A heroine who tries to pimp out her "gay" roommates to her boss in the hope of getting a promotion, and then cries over her disappointment at not getting the job after all, after all the "hard work" she put in. The "best friends" who cheerfully stab each other (and anyone else) in the back in the hope of winning the girl. One of them goes farther than the other and conspires at having his friend molested. (Is assault any less funny when it happens to a male than to a female?)

There was just one scene I liked: when the extremely loud, overbearing, melodramatic mother (played by - who else? - Kirron Kher) has a change of heart and welcomes her son's "boyfriend" home like she would her daughter-in-law, asking him to step over a pot of rice and gifting him the gold bangles she had kept for her bahu (and no, she doesn't insist he wear them, she merely offers them as shagun).

What disappointed me more than the movie was the fact that the audience seemed to enjoy it. Such portrayal of sick humour and prejudice is extremely popular in India. The people around - mostly with their families, seemed to enjoy it, laughing loudly at every disgusting "joke". A few in the row ahead of ours laughed loudly at the mere non-mention of the word "fuck" (that is, when it was implied, not even said aloud). Imagine how much laughter they would get into their day if they lived with me.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Rent and Religion

A friend who is looking for a flat to rent asked me to speak to someone about it. She cautioned me to make sure I inform them that she is Catholic. She said she and a Muslim friend had had a lot of trouble in another city when they went looking for a place to rent.

They claimed it was to do with eating non-veg, she said.

I rubbished that. It's not like all Hindus are vegetarians. If that was the problem they'd have stated it upfront.

Even though I shouldn't have been surprised - after all, there have been enough stories and news items about such discrimination - it left me feeling vaguely disturbed, this reminder of the prejudice and discrimination in my country.

Such a person, who doesn't want someone of another religion using their property, must not care to ever make friends with someone of a different religion. To eat together, to visit their homes, to learn about them. What a pathetic, narrow life.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

I Ordered That!

Is it THAT unusual that a woman might want a cocktail for herself, while the man with her drinks Coke?

Last night, I ordered a Planter's Punch and the waiter felt the need to assure himself I knew it was a cocktail - you know, with rum in it. And then the Guy asked for his routine Diet Coke. Yet when the same waiter brought the Coke over, he offered it to me before I pointed at the Guy.

Now, the Guy and I rarely order alcohol. He can't stand it, and I can't hold it. (Seriously - one drink is more than enough to give me a hangover. Yesterday was a case in point. I didn't even finish my one drink, made sure to keep drinking water, and yet I woke up with a throbbing headache more than once during the night, and it's lasted most of the day, too.)

The last time something similar happened was at Le Meridien - seriously, aren't they used to women drinking there? I ordered a Baccardi while the Guy wanted his Coke, and of course, they handed the Baccardi to him. (I don't remember now if it was the same person who took the order and brought the drink - but in any case, they could have asked.) Hmmphh.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Random Thoughts

I am happy that the Guy is back, but with power cuts every morning, and him working from home nearly every night, I get little chance to blog. We need a second internet connection, or a wireless router.

I think of blog posts late at night before falling asleep, when I am talking to the Guy, when I am out. Needless to say, when I actually get some time at the comp, nothing comes to mind. It's late at night now and I'm very tired, but I couldn't sleep and realised I needed my blog.

Sometimes I fantasise about quitting my job so I can have time for all the things I would want to do. I stop when I remember that if I quit my job, I won't have money for any of the things I want to do.

On that note, a shout-out to you, my readers. All of you who come over and read and comment. You make me feel I'm not shouting in a vacuum. Sorry for being lazy with posting and responding to comments quite often. It doesn't mean I don't read or appreciate the attention. Thank you.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

I Hate Titles

... because I find it so hard to come up with suitable ones. Anyway, here's what happened.

A little while ago, someone rang the doorbell. I was alone and just warming up my lunch. There was a young woman and a young man outside, holding some files. They were from a well-known NGO. The woman did all the talking, except for the "Thank you, ma'am" the guy said at the end. Why am I writing about this? Because there were a couple of things about the encounter that annoyed me. Because I admire people who volunteer and I am sure this organisation does admirable work, so I was disappointed in the way they went about this. Of course, it might just be this person's fault, not the organisation's - which is why I'm not naming it.

She said they are "trying to raise awareness among working people". Then she asked if I was "working", and I said yes. She responded, "Great." I am sure she did not mean to come across as patronising (I'm sure they are asked to be positive and encouraging), but she definitely did. Then she invited in. Now this is something that usually gets my goat. It's my house - let me decide when to invite you in, especially when you've called without notice and I am alone at home. She did not bother asking if I had some time, or if it was convenient. But they were from an NGO, and I wanted to hear what they had to say.

As soon as they were in, she asked for water. Again, not a big deal, but it's just not something I would do. Not until I had established friendly relations first. (Not in these days, at least, where you can find bottled water at a store within every few metres.)

Anyway, she started off with asking me where I work. I said, "in an IT firm." For one, I saw no reason to give her the name of my employer - for another, it's so small and obscure that no one recognizes it. She then asked if I work at Cybage (?). I answered very succintly, "No." She then mentioned the name of someone at Cybage and asked me if I knew her. I had no idea where the conversation was heading at this point, but I am on my period and was feeling dizzy, so I just said 'no' so as not to prolong it. Thankfully, that ended that part of it, though I think she looked suspicious - like I probably did know her friend but was denying it.

She then talked about what the organisation does, and it seems to do significant, worthwhile work. It did not help that she seemed to have a rehearsed pitch, but I tried to look past that and listen to what she was saying. Then she came around to what I could do to help, and waved a form with lots of numbers in it, and spoke about tax benefits. There was no mention of volunteering, of spreading the word. This was just a polite demand for money. She shoved forms at me and ran through her rehearsed pitch without giving me a chance to say anything - and without of course, asking if I was interested, or if I was involved with any other causes.

I finally interrupted her to ask if I might speak. I told her that I am already involved with another NGO and I work with them. Then came the bit that most annoyed me. She did not graciously retreat, but pressed on, and spoke about not being able to ask for help from people who've never helped anyone (only she couched it in much less polite terms - I don't remember exactly and don't care to). At the moment, I was only irritated at the demand - as I always am when someone demands money of me: it's my money and I'll decide what to do with it, thank you. But there's another aspect that's more disturbing. She's going door-to-door and asking for money, and I'm sure they expect that many of the people they talk to are not involved with any charities. Yet she found it all right to speak disparagingly of them to me?

When she pressed on, I reiterated that I prefer to focus my energies on one cause. She then urged me to 'extend a bit'. I had to stand up and politely say, "I'm sure you understand" before they made their exit with something of an apology.

This makes me even more glad that I work with the wonderful people at Friends of Children: in all the time I have known them they have been always perfectly polite and generous. They always thank other volunteers for every bit of help, and never judge people who decline to help or make commitments that they don't keep. This is especially great because they are volunteers themselves, and take out so much time from their full lives to run the show.

It saddens me that an organisation that does great work needs to resort to disreputable sales tactics to ask for donations. By demonstrating a little politeness and respect, by telling the story of one disadvantaged person instead of talking vaguely about trafficked children and medical expenses, they might be much more effective. What do you think?

To the Person from Saudi Arabia

... who reached here trying to find an answer to "how can i change my marital status": if you don't know the answer to that, you probably shouldn't be trying.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Can You Believe...

it's been two months already? The Guy is on his way back right now, and will be home tomorrow. And we'll have three glorious days together before getting back on the treadmill.

It was difficult, these last two months, but not quite as difficult as I'd feared. I went shopping and watched movies with friends, worked with FoC, and generally had an okay time. I also overcame much of my fear of driving - that in itself would make this worth it.

Friday, October 24, 2008

More Sexism on Cooking

I was at lunch with two colleagues yesterday, both male. One of them expressed a wish for food typical to the region the other was from. The other immediately, graciously, invited him home. The first then questioned who would cook. On hearing that it was the second colleague himself, he promptly refused. "Tumhare haath ka khana nehi khana. Tumhari ma ya biwi aaye to bulana." ("I don't want to eat your cooking. Call me when your mom or your wife is here.") The guy who offered is a bachelor, but that's besides the point. He said he didn't cook that bad. The other persisted that it's not what he wants. Then he reminisced fondly about eating at someone's home: "That was perfect." He went on to say that he'd eaten his fill while his hostess - the wife of his friend - had cooked and served fresh rotis.

Does it say more for my forbearance or my hypocrisy that I didn't say a word?

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Things We Want

  1. a bigger house to live in
  2. a nice cupboard/almirah
  3. a sofa
  4. a proper queen-sized (if not king-sized) bed
  5. a new fridge
  6. a dining table set
  7. a dinner crockery set
  8. an AC
  9. a bookcase (Just one? what will we do with the other boxes of books?)
  10. matching curtains and furnishings for the entire house
  11. a better microwave
  12. Worldspace radio
  13. a nice audio/home theatre system
  14. a bigger TV
  15. a better DVD player
  16. paintings to put up on our walls
  17. a diamond pendant and earrings set for me
  18. a better car
  19. a foreign holiday

You think a year is too less to get all of that?

Monday, October 20, 2008

More Memories

This tag is from Emma.

My oldest memory:
May I say, I don't remember?

Seriously, how do I sort out which is oldest? This feels like it: me hiding behind the door, waiting for someone to find me. After some time, my parents start looking. No one thinks to look behind the door. My dad - or was it my mom - goes out to look. By this time things have become too serious and I am scared to come out. I think I slunk out eventually - and with the patience of a child, it can't have been that long. And I think my parents were so relieved to see me that they didn't scold.

Ten years ago: I was seventeen and sat for my 10th exams. I then had three months of vacation when I got very bored, spent some time with my friends in that little town, and took a typing course (though I didn't bother to take the exam). Then I went to another town for college, and stayed in a hostel, away from my parents for the first time. I felt very grown-up, but I was actually very immature (though I would have laughed at you if you had said so to my face).

My first thought this morning:
I don't remember, but it was probably, "What time is it?"

If you built a time capsule, what would it contain:
I'd be too lazy to bother. If I'm gone, who cares what someone else finds?

This year:
...has brought a lot of changes. A new job, our first home (almost done, by the way - we're hoping to get the keys soon). I've been spending much more time - and getting a lot of satisfaction out of - blogging and working with Friends of Children.

14 years from now:
(Why 14 in particular?) I'll be over 40! I have no idea what else. Having fun with the Guy, I hope!

I tag: Usha, Banno, Indian Home Maker, Chandni, and @lankrita.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Remembering My Father

For the last few years, I have been particularly depressed for a few weeks between mid September and October. Four years, actually. Four years ago, my dad died on 15th September, just a week before my birthday, on the morning of the day I was to return to Delhi in the evening, for my impending exams. I had said goodbye, had told him, in one of his few lucid moments then, that I was going back. He promised not to die while I was away.

He didn’t. He died that morning instead, while I was still at home. Did he just give up, that day, tired of fighting, aware that his family was around him? Or was he finally defeated?

I hadn't been able to celebrate my birthday since, without remembering him… My birthday had ceased to be something to celebrate.

It affected me powerfully for over a year, his death. I found it difficult to come to terms with, even though it had been expected, was almost a relief. Yet though I wore this cloak of bravery that seemed extremely convincing (so much so that a roommate chided me for being too stoic), something within me was wrong, empty.

And since then every year at this time memories would assail me and weigh me down. They did come at other times too, but more frequently at this.

I found it unfair, even. After all, when he had been around, I hadn't agreed with him much. At times I felt like I hated him. Why then should it be so difficult?

Yeah, I rail against my parents sometimes – mostly in my mind. They made so many mistakes, I feel. As Philip Larkin said,

They fuck you up, your mom and dad
They may not mean to, but they do.
They fill you with the faults they had
And add some extra, just for you.

Yet, here I am. I act stupid – and lazy – much more frequently than I would like, but overall I am not totally delinquent. They can’t have done that badly then, eh?
This year, for the first time, those memories did not come. It was my dad’s birthday yesterday, and I was not depressed.

Maybe at last, I have reached the end of my mourning. Maybe now I can look back dispassionately, forgive him for what I think he did wrong, forgive myself for not loving him enough, feeling pity and understanding for all that was missing and made him unhappy, and acknowledging my gratitude for all that he did do right.

Friday, October 17, 2008

I Want More Time
  • Read more. I've mostly been sticking to really light stuff like Agatha Christie's or "chick lit", because I'm too tired after work to do anything more serious. I never did get past that first chapter of The Second Sex.
  • Rest more. I never seem to be getting enough sleep these days. I go through most of the day wishing I could get in a nap.
  • Learn to cook properly. I'm bored of my limited repertoire. But this is something I can only start when the Guy is back to appreciate it.
  • Take care of my skin and hair. I need a pedicure. A haircut. And when was the last time I put on a face pack?
  • Finish up all my pending errands. As of now I remember them, feel guilty and move on. I guess I'll just keep doing that till the Guy's back and takes care of them for me. (But seriously, it's not any less work - housework and errands - for one person instead of two, and I have one person less to do it.)
  • Write. Apart from the stray blogging, emails to the Guy, and what my work requires, I haven't done any writing in months.
  • Exercise. I want to get healthier - and looking better wouldn't hurt.

If I haven't done any of this while the Guy's away, how am I ever going to find time when he's back?

Positive or Negative?

Most of us are a mix of both. We laugh, get excited, get cynical, exude irony and live with hope. We try to treat other people with respect and not get them down - though we may fail without meaning to.

Positive people are wonderful to be with. I have one friend who is extremely positive, which is the biggest reason I love hanging out with her when she's in town - though we barely keep in touch otherwise. Not that she doesn't have her bad days. But if I give her any bit of news about my life, she is always excited, optimistic and supportive. So when she was here, she was the first person I would usually talk to when I had something nice to share: just witnessing her exuberant response would make me feel even happier.

And there are some who are so effortlessly negative. Tell them you had a fantastic dinner last night and they will respond, "I bet you didn't cook it!" Have them over as a houseguest and the first thing you're likely to hear in the morning is "Good morning! So you're finally up!"

All of us do that kind of thing once in a while, especially with people we are close to enough to speak our minds. But for some, the negativity overshadows the rest, even though it doesn't seem to get them down. Maybe it's a sign of insecurity. Maybe "that is so out of fashion" translates to "I'm better dressed, even if she is better looking". I don't know.

I do know that I don't want such people in my life. And I'm glad that I don't have any, any more. If I want someone to criticize me, I have the Guy, thank you.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

I Watched Welcome to Sajjanpur

and loved it. I have to thank Pallu for suggesting we go there.

The movie was satirical, witty and funny without completely letting go of realism. I don't know much about village life, but the sets and the characters looked very authentic. And for a movie set in a village and showcasing traditional and narrow-minded attitudes, it dealt with bold subjects like widow remarriage, superstition and - of course - dirty politics.

If you haven't watched it yet, please do!

Monday, October 06, 2008

Weird Old Me

The Indian Homemaker wants to know my quirks and addictions. And so does Aneela. I thought those must be pretty obvious to you all by now!

The obvious ones are of course, the Guy, books, blogging, reading blogs and articles online. Let me see if I can dig deeper.

I like quiet. I like to be left alone, especially right after I wake up. I remember my mom used to ignore me for some time after I got up - either in the morning or from an afternoon nap - because I would be cranky and ready to snap for half an hour or so. The Guy usually gets around it by hugging me and putting me in a good mood. But I still need my alone time every day. I get annoyed if there's loud or prolonged noise around me. Very loud and prolonged noise is plain torture.

I like bland food. I can't eat food that is very hot or spicy. I don't like much oil, either, though I love salty fried snacks. I love cheesy, buttery concoctions though. Figures that my favourite foods are Italian and Punjabi.

I love the colour pink. But usually avoid wearing it because of the stereotypes associated with it.

I hate cleaning. I notice if things aren't clean though. Not the happiest of combinations.

I flare up very easily. But I usually have the self-control not to show it. Which means that the people closest to me face the brunt of it.

I am overall very quick and extreme in my emotions, unlike the composed picture of myself I like to present to the world. I might have one interesting conversation with someone and end up day dreaming about them for a few days. I might have one disturbing conversation and rant about it for hours. I stay up at nights worrying when something goes slightly wrong, and flushed with excitement when something is more right than usual. All that makes me a volatile person to live with, and it is to the Guy's credit that he doesn't complain.

I think I've bared my soul sufficiently now. Let me pass on the baton - or is it the beacon?

Despite the Guy's abhorrence for tags, I'd like to know what he thinks of himself. After all, I've always maintained he's pretty weird!

I'd also like to see Pallu, @lankrita and Roop doing this.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

An Open Letter to the Guy

I can count the days now, till you will be back. It is three weeks - only three weeks, when you think about the fact that we have stayed apart for six weeks already. It seems a little less than forever. Which means I can write now about all that I miss about you, that I'd put off writing about because I didn't want to dwell on it.

Yet what do I write, where do I start? What do I not miss? I miss your very presence, the physical space you fill. I liked, at first, having the whole bed to myself, but now it seems too empty, and I miss your body staking out its claim... on the bed, and on me. I miss your smell, that I can't describe and don't even remember very well but that made me feel at home, snuggled up to you. I miss, yes, I miss sometimes having breakfast ready when I get up in the morning, or my lunch cooked and packed - did I tell you I still can't manage to close the lunchbox right? I miss perhaps most of all, having a bad moment - or an exciting one - and not being able to call out or call you up right away, because I don't want to disturb your sleep. I miss not being able to rest my head on your shoulders at the end of a weary day, and to let my tears fall on your body. I miss not being able to reach out and touch you, to pull your cheeks or your ear, to stroke your arm, to hold your hand - do you realise how often I do that?

All this seems almost like a dream, a faint memory... have you been away that long?

I miss sitting by you while you drive and I think or talk, or dance or sing along to the music. I miss spending most of the weekend talking to you, usually arguing over nothing, over ground we have walked over and agreed upon long ago.

I won't miss you any more than usual tomorrow - after all, it's just another day. As you always say, it wasn't on this day that we got married, it was on the day that came many months before when we decided we wanted to share our lives with each other.

Forgive the incoherence of this post - I'm a bit befuddled by drugs and theGuysickness.

The Things that Blogging Teaches

Without my blog, I wouldn't have known, for instance, that the Maldives celebrates Teachers' Day today. How do I know? Because quite a few people in Male landed up on my blog after searching for "teachers day words" or something similar. Probably landing on this post.

Well, I hope it helped you. And have fun celebrating Teachers' Day!

Saturday, October 04, 2008

I've Been Busy...

being sick. As if the Guy's being away wasn't enough, I had to go fall ill to remind me exactly how much I miss him being around. And I took myself to the doctor yesterday, for the first time in my life (that is, I've been to see doctors before, only never alone), after some gentle nudging from the Guy. And Cee Kay, too, was kind enough to urge me. (See? I did go!)

On a tangential note, why is it so difficult for someone as educated as a doctor to understand the concept of "Ms"? When she wrote down my name, she asked, "Miss or Mrs.?" I said, "Ms."- of course - and she still wrote down "Miss". I tried to correct her by saying I am married, but she thought I was saying I'm not. I had already spent over half an hour in the waiting room and was dizzy so I decided not to argue the point.

Until later, that is, when she started asking questions about my sex life. Then I explained to her again that I am married. And once she understood, of course, she immediately changed the "Miss" in her notebook to "Mrs".

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Me, the Wife

Look at all the nice things the Guy has to say about being married to me!

Baring the Guy's Soul This Time...

I guess the Guy thought this tag was too frivolous to put up on his own blog, which is why he sent it to me. Here goes:

1. Guess the number of questions in this tag.

2. If you can have a dream to come true, what would it be?
That I can fullfil all my dreams.

3. Whose butt would you like to kick?
No one. Will find something better to do.

4. What would you do with a billion dollars?
Return it to the actual owner – it couldn’t be mine!

5. Will you fall in love with your best friend?
I did.

6. Which is more blessed, loving someone or being loved by someone?
One without the other is not much of a blessing.

7. How long do you intend to wait for someone you really love?
I normally wait 10-15 mins everyday, but can go a bit longer than that.

8. If the person you secretly like is already attached, what would you do?
Nothing special.

9. If you’d like to act with someone, who will it be? Your GF/BF or an actress/actor?
An actor! (Isn’t it that anyone who acts is called an actor?)

10. What takes you down the fastest?
Lift. (Haven’t tried jumping out of the balcony but assume that will be faster!)

11. How do you see yourself in ten years' time?
Ten years (hope not more ) older than I am right now!

12. What’s your fear?
Failure. Discovering that I'm not really good at what I do and what I'd like to do. (Copying the same answer, but it’s true for me also.)

13. What kind of person do you think the person who tagged you is?
The perfect wife material (for me)!

14. Would you rather be single and rich or married but poor?
I am happy as I am.

15. What’s the first thing you do when you wake up?
Try to figure out if I can afford to sleep a bit more.

16. Would you give all in a relationship?
Depends on what I am expecting to get.

17. "If you fall in love with two people simultaneously, who would you pick?"
That sounds like what happens in movies, so I will wait for a couple of hours (till the climax)!

18. Would you forgive and forget no matter how horrible a thing someone has done?
Possible, if ‘forget’ happens first.

19. Do you prefer being single or having a relationship?
As I said in in 14 above. But I can’t say I prefer to be in any relationship than to be a single.

20. Write a message to people who send such tags.
Well, find something better to do!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Unexpected Pleasures

I have been watching a movie on TV that I found surprisingly interesting, given that I hadn't even considered watching it in the theatre - Jhoom Barabar Jhoom.

I didn't catch the entire movie as I was talking to the Guy intermittently, but I found much of what I watched immensely entertaining. I enjoyed the stunt with the wax Superman. I also loved Lara Dutta's character - a spunky and sexually experienced female character who doesn't die or repent at the end! I loved the scene where Preity Zinta's character tells a suitor that she has had sex 11 times, in order to scare him off, and he responds, "I've only done it four times... I'll be jealous of you." Delicious!

Edited to add: Oh, but the absolute best part was when Preity Zinta's character says she hates salwar kameez and the guy answers, "I hope you won't mind me wearing them!"

Baring My Soul

... some of what there is of it, that is. I have been tagged by Aanchal.

First, the rules:
  1. 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 themselves.
  2. Tag 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 and continue this game by sending it to other people.

Now, we start.

1. If your lover betrayed you, what will your reaction be?

Shock, to start with. Then I would probably wonder what had gone wrong. I'm not sure if betrayal here means physical, but to me a betrayal would be if my partner was hiding from me something I ought to know. If I felt I could trust him after that, we would try to mend things. If I felt we didn't know each other well enough any more, I would move on.

2. If you can have a dream to come true, what would it be?

One dream? To be able to sit at home and write - and hopefully, to be read.

3. Whose butt would you like to kick?

Just one? On second thoughts, I'll just ignore them and move on.

4. What would you do with a billion dollars?

See 2 above. I would also go travelling around the world with the Guy. And buy a better car.

5. Will you you fall in love with your best friend?

I did.

6. Which is more blessed, loving someone or being loved by someone?

I had always been eager to love. Being hurt over and over again took the shine off that. It was only after I found someone who loved me endlessly, unconditionally that I experienced the blissful blessedness of being truly loved.

7. How long do you intend to wait for someone you really love?

What does this mean, really, "waiting for someone"? I don't think I'd ever really wait for anyone. I'd live my life as I can. I would stop myself from hoping and dreaming too much to avoid setting myself up for disappointment. Besides, if my love would rather be elsewhere, I'd try to be happy for him.

8. If the person you secretly like is already attached, what would you do?

Remain friends, if I can without hurting myself too much. If the pain is too great, I'd move away and try to forget him. If we stay friends and he later realises he would rather be with me, why not?

9. If you’d like to act with someone, who will it be? Your GF/BF or an actress/actor?

Not the Guy, definitely. It would be too distracting. Frankly, I'd be more concerned about my role and the story than about the other actors - it's a job, after all. You don't have to love your colleagues.

10. What takes you down the fastest?

Guilt. Things going badly at work.

11. How would you see yourself in ten years time?

In the mirror? (I suppose they meant "how do you see yourself..." but hey, I'm answering what's asked.)

12. What’s your fear?

Failure. Discovering that I'm not really good at what I do and what I'd like to do.

13. What kind of person do you think the person who tagged you is?

From my limited interaction with Aanchal, I'd say she's warm and friendly.

14. Would you rather be single and rich or married but poor?

Married but poor, of course. We can always make more money.

15. What’s the first thing you do when you wake up?

Wonder what time it is. Then I usually reach out for the phone to check. Actually, when the Guy is here, I just reach out for him, and it spoils the first few minutes of my day if he's not lying next to me. Most of the time, I just wait till I have enough energy to scream and call for him to come and cuddle me into a nice mood.

16. Would you give all in a relationship?

I wouldn't give anything. I have made that mistake and regretted it. I would just be myself.

17. "If you fall in love with two people simultaneously, who would you pick?"

Well, that was the original question. I'm changing it to "Which idiot asked that question?"

18. Would you forgive and forget no matter how horrible a thing someone has done?

Do I look that dumb?

19. Do you prefer being single or having a relationship?

Haven't I already answered this in 14 above?

20. List 6 people to tag.

Is this a question? Anyway, I tag the Guy, Banno, Grail, Emma, Pallavi and Cee Kay. I don't know how to make an offer they cannot refuse, so I'll just ask them politely.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Update on My "Surprise" Birthday Gift

The interest it generated was making the Guy nervous, hoping it would live up to the hype.

It finally arrived today. Here's a picture of the package nestling next to the flowers.

And when it opened, I found this.

I rang up the Guy to say they had made a mistake and sent a blank mug without including a message. He seemed strangely complacent.

Then he let me in on the secret. "Pour something hot into it."

Oooh, magic! I heated some water and poured it in. And there it was.

If you can't read it, the words say, "Here I am, right next to you."

I can't express my feelings better than to refer Banno's words: "Hope it is so nice that it does take you by surprise, even though you are expecting it."

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Look What the Guy Got Me

...on my birthday.

Oh, and I took the picture on my cool new phone. (Heh!) My cup is full.

He also sent me a gift that I am yet to receive, of which a friend helpfully informed me when he (the friend) called to wish me. And when I said I hadn't received any, he blurted out, "Oh, sorry, it was meant to be a surprise."

I promised him I would be surprised.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Unmana as Creep Magnet

So here I am, peacably walking home again. In the less-frequented stretch just before my colony, a bike came at me from the wrong side. A common enough sight that I thought little of. The bike came close and I could see the man: strong build, trim beard. He looked at me and spat.

It hit my arm. I wiped it off and walked on for a few steps before pausing to look back. I was unafraid, because the gates were a few paces away, and I could run in and scream for the guards.

He was standing a distance away. I stood there, wanting to show that he hadn't scared me, and after a while he moved away.

I have no idea what irked him. I don't think I had seen him before, unless he was the same man on a bike I had passed on the road a short distance back. He was in my way, and I walked around him, there being no footpath to walk on. I was even dressed in salwar kameez - or perhaps he took offense at my bare arms.

If this - or the last incident - had happened when I was even a year younger, I would have been shaken for hours. I would have raved, probably cried. It must be a combination of my feminism and the stabilising presence of the Guy that I shrug and move on.

But I wonder how safe it is to continue to walk home at night?

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

On Marriage

We're having a very interesting discussion over at Ultra Violet, taking off on my first post there. I put in my views on marriage - rather my disillusion with it as an institution, in spite of my complete satisfaction with my own version of it - and Falstaff, in particular, has some interesting things to say in reply. (I'm tickled pink, as I've been a fan of his blog for some time.)

Do read.

Monday, September 15, 2008


Another weekend gone. I'm counting in weekends, till the Guy is back. Because it's on weekends that I miss him most.

It's been easier than I'd feared. The weekdays haven't been so bad. In a way, I'm even enjoying it, the solitude that I had not had for so long. I have been contemplating instead of voicing my thoughts, something that used to be such a large part of my life, but being with the Guy seems almost the same as being alone. Almost, but not quite. Better, in most ways. Yet I needed the reminder of how it feels to be alone.

Sometimes I feel almost like a college kid whose parents are out of town. I read till early in the morning, have midnight feasts, play music loud. Not that I can't do any of this when the Guy is here, but in our tiny flat, you can't really play music and not disturb the other person, or leave the light on in the bedroom while you read... and you don't always have the taste for the same kind of music.

I even sat and watched Socha Na Tha again.

I find it amusing that people react with sympathy when I say I'm alone at home. The assumption seems to be that my mom or an in-law would come over. In all fairness, my mom was planning to come over, but she has a child - her nephew - to look after, and it was inconvenient to arrange alternatives, so we agreed she'd come later, when the Guy is here. We haven't seen each other in over a year, my mom and I. Yet I don't want her to come because she feels I need her, but to come when she wants to.

How can anyone imagine that the void the Guy left could be filled, even partly, by someone else? The only person who can conceivably come close to filling that void is - me. Anyone else in the house would probably make me miserable. I've always wanted my personal space, preferred - on the whole, though definitely not always - quiet and solitude to noise.

Another weekend gone, and I am not unhappy. Yet life seems slightly surreal, incomplete.

Tere bina zindagi se koi shikwa to nahi... Tere bina zindagi bhi lekin, zindagi to nahi...

Saturday, September 13, 2008


Hyderabad, Ajmer, Jaipur, Bangalore, Ahmedabad, and now Delhi....

How long, how far, will this go on before it ends?

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

A Thought

I don't know what makes me more sad about this bit of news: that this is the idea people have of my beautiful homeland, or the suspicion that it is true.

Monday, September 08, 2008

An Adventure

I was walking home from office this evening, at some time past nine. A man ahead of me was acting a bit weird. He shouted to a boy on a cycle, calling him idiot and telling him to stop. I assumed he must have his reasons, and walked on. I tried to pass him once or twice, but he would suddenly move to the side, so I stepped back. Then he bumped into another man walking in the opposite direction, and while they both got their bearings I took the chance to move past him.

He began to apologise loudly. "Sorry, madam. Madam, it was not my intention..." and so on. I walked on, not bothering to look back, as he hadn't anything to apologize for and I suspected he was intoxicated.

But he kept on. Soon enough, he changed his tune, offering to accompany me home. All this was quite loud, because I was walking at least a few paces ahead of him. I walked on steadily, not wanting to risk a confrontation right there where the road wasn't well lit.

Then he said something to do with "moti" (fatty) - probably something like come here, though I don't really remember. He said it again.

By then we were near some shops and there were quite a few people around, including young people (which makes me feel much safer somehow). I suddenly stopped, turned around, and said roughly, "Kisse baat kar rahe ho tum?" (Who are you talking to?)

He looked frightened, shook his head and kept walking. I said it again, and swung the bag I was holding - it contained my lunchbox, and would have caused satisfactory damage if I had needed to make contact.

He ran.

I walked on. I saw him turn inside a gate nearby, and kept my eye on him while I walked. He didn't look back, and I walked on in peace.

For some time, I debated whether I should have hit him. Rather a moot point, for I doubt if I could have brought myself to do it. But after the first flush of anger subsided, I decided I had done enough for now.

And the over-a-kilometre-long walk didn't even tire me (as it usually does)! Maybe it was the excitement?

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Notes on Rock On!!

The only thing that redeemed the movie was the music. It made me want to get up and jump (like the audience in the concerts in the movie), and I did sing along much of the time (I hope the loud music drowned my voice for the benefit of the rest of the audience). Okay, one other “thing” that wasn’t so bad was Farhan Akhtar. How can that guy have so much talent? He looked hot, he acted well, and he sings like a dream… And to top that he directs and writes as well.

Warning: major spoilers ahead. Do NOT read if you’re planning to watch it.

It was one of the most stereotypical-filmy movies I have seen recently. At every twist you could predict how it’s going to pan out. And the film’s treatment of female characters was horrible: it made me wonder if any of the director and writers have ever had any kind of normal relationship with any woman. All the women were caricatures, totally one-dimensional.

Aditya(played by Farhan Akhtar)’s wife Sakshi seems to have really nothing to do with her time. So after cribbing that her husband is too busy making money, and spending a lot of time sitting on her designer furniture in their awesome flat in her designer clothes, she accidentally meets KD(Purab) who used to be Aditya’s friend before she knew him(Aditya, of course). She finds her husband’s old photographs, which reveals to her that he was a romantic poet and cool rocker before he became a boring investment banker who earns pots of money (and she realises she knows little about her husband of four years). Oh, and he also had a girlfriend who was wrapped all over him in the video Sakshi found. (By the way, the cassette looked to me like an audio cassette, yet she watched the video in it… Did anyone else notice?)

Aditya, by the way, didn’t seem to talk to his wife much. I can’t blame him, seeing as she questioned him loudly and insistently about the apparent friend of his she accidently met while Aditya was taking a shower after a hard day. No wonder he’s not keen to divulge more details of his life to her, given her keen bloodhound instincts. But then she finds the photos and video, and her bloodhound instincts take over.

She goes to KD to find out more about her husband, and persuades him to find the other two band members and bring them along to the “surprise” birthday party she’s planning for her husband. Yeah, her idea of a surprise was getting a bunch of people her husband is obviously not keen on knowing any more, and springing them on him – along with a large horde of assorted extras – at the end of a hard working day (his, not hers). And she doesn’t get it when he doesn’t look pleased.

She has to follow it up by nagging him after the party on how he didn’t look comfortable with his old “friends” (two of them – the third, Joe played by Arjun Rampal, was too sensible to come). And she chooses that moment to tell him that she’s pregnant. And she chides him that his life is incomplete and he isn’t happy any more. But she doesn’t ask about the old girlfriend. Does it not occur to her that maybe his life is “incomplete” because she’s not around? Would she go fetch her too, in order to make Aditya happy?

So Aditya sleeps on the couch to escape her nagging, and gets up in the morning to find her gone “to her mom’s place to think”. And the first thing Aditya does is go meet her friend, the same one Sakshi discussed her marital troubles with. Why didn’t one of them marry Deepika instead, if she was so much easier to talk to? And of course, on Deepika’s counseling, Aditya realises where he was wrong and goes to hunt up his old friends. He calls Sakshi and leaves a voice message admitting she was right and asking her to come back.

And she comes back, that very day, while the band is practising in her and Aditya’s house. How’s that for fast? But I guess she had done all the thinking she could manage by that time. For the rest of the movie, she looks adoringly at Aditya with a sweet smile on her face. (I wonder why Aditya married her instead of say, adopting a pup.)

Not only is there no attempt to explain why Aditya and Sakshi got married, there’s no explanation of why Adi got together with his previous girlfriend, or why she married the weird-looking jerk from a competing band. There’s no explanation of why the four band members are friends. They only seem to be interested in making music together: and if it’s just that, why weren’t they more professional about it?

I think the movie would have made much more sense to me if they had given it a gay twist. Aditya and Joe were apparently the greatest friends among the four. Joe beats up aforesaid weird-looking rival band member when he "insults" Aditya. The band breaks up because of a fight between Aditya and Joe. Aditya is so shaken he goes off to Delhi and never talks to his girlfriend again. And Aditya is stuck in what seems to be a loveless marriage. While Joe feels suffocated in his home and spends most of his time strumming his guitar in his room while his wife runs a fish business to make ends meet (and of course, does all the cooking as well).

Then the band gets back together, and all four dudes seem happy. But at the Jhankar Beats type climax, Joe is on his way to join a job on the cruise, while the others are waiting for him at a rock competition – their big chance after they blew the first one ten years ago. KD insists the three of them get on stage, and they do, and as for some reason the VTV concert also airs on the radio in their taxi, Joe and his wife and son get to hear everything. And Aditya sings – in the rock competition, mind – the soft romantic number that Joe had written, all those years ago. He dedicates the song to Joe, and croons, “Tum ho to gata hai dil… tum ko hi mangti yeh zindagi”(My heart sings when you are here… my life asks for you).

Joe is obviously overcome with feeling, while his wife holds on tightly to his hand to prevent him from escaping. But before the song ends, he gets off the cab (where they are stuck in a convenient traffic jam – and why don’t movie characters ever leave for the airport or port safely on time, like the rest of us seem to do?), lifts his guitar case from the baggage rack, and walks off.

Meanwhile, on stage, the song ends, and KD follows it up with a solo on his drums, evidently feeling that he won’t let Aditya outfox him with his soft romantic number. And just as KD ends, in typical dramatic style, there is a guitar strumming, and the actors on stage look around to see where the sound is from, and Arjun Rampal walks on stage, guitar in hand, long hair flowing, looking extremely handsome.

And then they play Sindbad the Sailor, which I had been hoping would be a song they record for an animated movie, because I couldn’t imagine how else it would make any sense. Anyway, Adi and Joe sing together, faces close to each other’s, and I was hoping – hopelessly, of course – that they would kiss and make an end to it.

But after they were done with Sindbad the Sailor (how many songs did the competition folks allow them to sing, anyway?), Adi hands the mike to Joe because his wife and son have arrived backstage and Joe wins her over by singing a couple of lines of “Tum ho to…” (Do they really imagine women can be won over – and these were wives who were struggling with serious issues like not knowing what the husband was really like or thinking he’s withdrawn from and lying to her – by a mushy voicemail or song? Or are there women like that? Well, I’m sure there are, but it seemed to be more of a general statement – there was little attempt to define why they would be so amenable to being won over.)

As if all this wasn't enough drama, Rob has a brain tumour (which you suspect as soon as he says casually at mealtime that he has a headache) that he doesn’t tell his friends about, and even though he’s in hospital he leaves to go for the rock concert – and while he seems wobbly on his legs he seems to play alright. But then he didn’t have a girlfriend, and isn’t that an old Bollywood edict that any character who is single at the end should be killed off? Though I wonder how the band made any music later, seeing as he was the composer… But of course such details are irrelevant when you look at the three good-looking couples at the end of the movie, with an assorted bunch of cute kids that have popped up in addition to the ones that belong to Joe and Adi, engaged in a Dil Chahta Hai style picnic.