Friday, January 13, 2012

Here's one for tradition!

The fight between keeping up traditions and giving into modernity is probably one of the most debated topics. And nowhere does this fight feature more prominently than in the Indian kitchens of today, with traditional methods making way for more efficient, time-saving ones. And now with bottled pickles and packaged papads appearing on shelves and traditional drinks and home-made fare fast disappearing, the fight seems pretty much one-sided now. But often for most of us these traditional dishes, drinks, foods are not just edibles, but cues to memories of good times and happy childhoods. And that’s the worst casualty of this fight for modernity.

I remember while I was growing up, my grandmother had a winter time food ritual. Each year she would buy loads of ugly black carrots and then somehow conjure the loveliest wildly purplish red drink out of it all. Kanji, I was told, is what it was called and it was pretty much love at first taste. But as I look back now, I realise that the drink came to mean so much more to me- cold Delhi winter mornings spent out on a sunny verandah sipping the tangy drink and feeling the comfort of the hot sun against the cold nip all around, family conversations peppered with bits of gossip about relatives I had only ever heard of and my grandmom wrapped in a grey embroidered shawl knitting a sweater for yet another cousin or chopping vegetables. But somehow over the years, between Bombay and Singapore, the drink was forgotten, and with it, some of the memories too. That is until some days back, when a package of Black carrots arrived from Delhi and I decided to try my hand at my grand mother’s ritual.

Kanji is a traditional Punjabi drink typically made by fermenting black carrots or beetroots with spices, though Kashmiris and UPites do a really good turnip version of it too. It is mostly made in the winter months between December and April when black carrots are available in plenty. While traditionally huge glazed earthenware or ceramic jars were used to ferment the Carrot, water and spice mixture in the sun, glass jars work as well. The final concoction has a slightly salty, pungent and sour taste to it, probably owing to the fermentation and the spices. And as it turns out, it can do you some good too. Kanji is a nutritious probiotic drink and is considered to have cooling, soothing and digestive properties.


1/2 Kg Black Carrot
2 Tbsp mustard seeds (Rai)
1 Tbsp red chilli powder
Salt to taste
2 litres boiled and cooled water

Wash and scrape the carrots lightly. Cut the carrots into 1 inche long pieces and dry grind the mustard seeds. In a large bowl, mix the carrots with salt, red chilli, Mustard Seeds and add it to the water in an airtight wide mouth jar or bottle. Close lid tightly and mix well. Keep the bottle in the sun for 3-4 days, making sure to stir it a few times daily. Once it is ready, keep the bottle in the fridge. The fermented Kanji, can be consumed for upto a week.

Now as I stand sipping my glass of Kanji right here in Sunny Singapore, the setting is different, the weather too, but the memories come flooding back. I can almost feel the nip of the cold and hear the clickety clack of the knitting needles. And I am thinking in my head- Tradition - 1, Modernity - 0.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

And Here We Go...

In another month, I move to New York, to live and study there. NYU is the university and journalism is the attempt. More specifically, I am going for the 'Cultural Reporting and Criticism' program and I like to believe, this essay is the main reason I got in. :-)

When I was 5, I announced to the family that I was leaving home and promptly walked out; with empty pockets, wide eyes and an animated eagerness about the wonders I was going to see. Needless to say, the quixotic expedition did not last too long. But as I look back to that 10-minute trip, I see the first glimpses of the qualities that have come to define my personality today: a curiosity to explore and experiment, the self confidence to take on the world and the independence of nature to forge my own way. The years and experiences since, have cemented these qualities and more thankfully replaced the childish foolhardiness with a rational prudence.
What the years have also added to the mix is a heightened awareness and sensitivity towards differences, a penchant to seek out and appreciate the unique. Perhaps this fascination with differences has its roots in my upbringing. I am a product of North Indian and East Indian intimacy; an unlikely union of very disparate cultures. While growing up, variety was the norm and its absence was unsettling. I did not find it odd that we spoke not one but three different languages at home; that we followed different customs depending on which side of the family we were interacting with; that we regularly flipped between three to four different cuisines within a week; and that we moved ever so often to live in a new city, state or even country. Very early on, I was taught through example to respect differences, look at them positively and understand their immense value as a source of new learning.
The reason I talk about these inherent and conditioned traits of my personality is because they have been pivotal in alchemizing my potentially mundane life and travel experiences into opportunities for rich cultural learning. A life spent in Bombay, Singapore and Kuwait, with smatterings of other unfamiliar yet exciting countries in Southeast Asia, the Middle East and Europe, has served as breeding ground for the cultural journalist in me. In each of these countries, I played the role of an observer, looking at the differences in traditions, attitudes, ideas and societies. What has intrigued me more however, are the ways in which different cultures interact and evolve under each other’s influence.  And having spent so much of my life outside of India, I find my observation and critical appreciation of these cultures free from any tints of preconception, but not without a sound basis in cultural understanding.
Admittedly, my Indian roots influence my preferences and I most enjoy looking for the Indian story in every new country. Growing up in the urban mosaic of Bombay was an exercise in cultural understanding and adjustment amidst a plethora of pluralities- linguistic, religious, caste-based, and economic. But it helped me grasp that while cultures in a society may manifest in different ways, they usually have similar undercurrents and sensibilities. Between Singapore, Kuwait and India, I have seen multiple personalities of the ‘Indian’. At first glance, the Singapore-Indian dressed in vibrant batik, talking in Singlish and eating vastly different food might seem miles apart from the kurta-saree-donning, Hindi-speaking and butter-chicken eating Indian in India; or completely unlike the adjusting, hard-working, money-motivated migrant Indian in Kuwait accustomed to living a second-citizen life. But upon scrutiny, each of these personalities reveals its uncanny Indian-ness, right down to the obsession with moralities, family-life and saving money.
It is no surprise then that the cultural journalists who inspire me the most write on similar topics and regions. William Dalrymple is one such author whose writings on India display an enviable perceptiveness about the historical influences on modern day India and the reverse impact of this modernity on tradition and historical culture. His writings seek not to judge but rather to reconcile and make sense of the cultural collisions that make up this complex country. Another cultural journalist, whose writing is surprising and inspiring in its insightful observations, is Edward Luce, the author of ‘In spite of the Gods’. Through his account of India’s recent political, economic and social development and its future prospects, Edward Luce demonstrates a rare combination of intimacy and detachment with India. And while doing so, he presents a deeply astute picture of contemporary India, highlighting patterns and connections from within the complexity. As a cultural journalist, it is this kind of insightful and refreshing writing that I aspire to do.
The bulk of my writing so far has explored issues in the same arena. While journalism hasn’t been the focus of my professional efforts before now, writing and reporting have always been an important and satisfying part of my fringe life. Some of my most creatively satisfying times were spent working as the editor of my high-school magazine or writing articles and reviews for the ‘Gourmet’ magazine at college. And even after college, I have pursued this interest through blogging actively about events, travel and food, both Indian and international.
The story of how I got interested in Journalism, though, is a plain- vanilla tale about how I dabbled in this-and-that, before finally realizing that Journalism has always been the elusive answer to the big question, “What do I want to do?” No epiphanies, no ‘Eureka moments’, just a plain simple deliberated choice based on a passion to write. My interest in cultural journalism stems from a love for stories, a flair for writing and an unbridled curiosity about the world, its people and their motivations. I am enamored by the cultural journalist’s role as the documenter of human narrative, the storyteller of our modern times, an explorer within cultures. And I admire the deep understanding required to connect the dots and examine events in the context of cultural, societal and historical currents.
I believe that a person cannot be taught to be a great journalist. The greatness can only come from a true passion for the career and a love for cultural reportage. However, without the method, the madness is just that. And it is this method that I hope to learn through NYU’s Cultural Reporting and Criticism program in journalism. Through the program’s inimitable flavor of thoughtful, insightful criticism and under the tutelage of its exemplary faculty, I hope to learn the art, the finesse and the tools of the trade. I particularly value the program’s focus on amalgamating journalistic skills with an individual writer’s distinctive voice.
My will to pursue cultural journalism is fueled by my belief that I possess a number of raw skills to succeed in this role. My curiosity drives my persistence to get answers. My insight combined with my diligence in research, lets me identify the right questions to ask. And my affable personality and open mind help me make connections with people and develop trusting bonds easily. What ties all these skills together is my ability to engage the reader through the written word.
Perhaps my greatest strength as a cultural journalist lies in my ability to find comfort in the unfamiliar and my willingness to experiment. I notice and embrace the subtle and not-so-subtle differences in cultures, foods, attitudes and thoughts with ease and find myself the richer for it. I am a variegated person, influenced by the many cultures that I have been exposed to. I speak comfortably in 4 different languages besides Hindi but I think mostly in English. I appreciate the colors and beauty of a Hindu Temple as willingly as I take in the serenity of a church or the passionate call-to-prayer of a mosque. I am a lover of different tastes and cuisines and I display as much panache while maneuvering chopsticks as I do while eating with a fork and spoon. At various points in my life I have lived in India, Singapore, Thailand, London and Kuwait and in each of these places I have felt the city’s pulse and assimilated a wealth of cultural insights. Very often I strike up conversations with strangers in unlikely places, to quench my curiosity about lives different from mine and never have I been disappointed.  I revel in the beauty that can come only with multiplicity and I am a connoisseur of the different.
This in turn enriches my narrative as a writer, as a cultural journalist. Inspired by differences, led by curiosity and emboldened by the willingness to experiment, the writer in me finds inspiration at every corner. And the journalist in me sees the exciting possibility of a new narrative, the next story.

Currently reading: Jaya - Devdutt Patnaik
Currently Listening: Big Jet Plane - Angus & Julia Stone, The importance of being idle - Oasis

Sunday, July 03, 2011

New York, je t'aime

I spent summer 2010 in New York and wrote this in my journal as I was leaving the city, seated at seat 21D in an Airbus A340, flying from JFK to Singapore. I got round to posting it only now, though.

Two and a half months is a long time. Yet two and a half months can be a really short time. It’s all a matter of perspective.

Two and a half months back, I came to New York City at the break of a dawn- wide eyed, admittedly a little scared and very excited at the idea of living in a city I had heard so much about. And the two and a half months passed by in a blink. And yet, I feel a lifetime of change between then and now.

I try and skim over all my memories in the city and I get lost in their chronology. A lifetime of memories, a lifetime of change, all in a few months- naturally, it’s a blur. I try and recall the morning when I had landed here, intrepidly taken the very notorious New York Taxi and gotten my first glimpse of the city. Did that even count as my first glimpse, for hadn’t I seen this city before? Was it in a movie somewhere? Or had it been on some television show? Or had I perhaps pictured it entirely in my mind, a mosaic of bits and pieces weaned from sightings and readings? I remember the upsurge of feeling I had felt, as I saw Manhattan come into view from the Williamsburg Bridge. I call it feeling, for it sounds too absurd to call it love. But in hindsight, perhaps that is what it had been. And perhaps, I had made up my mind that I would love this crazy place, long before I had even gotten here. And love it, I did. But on that first early morning in New York, I refused to acknowledge the instant love and familiarity I felt for the city, opting instead for a charade of nonchalance and apprehension.

But the city won over, in just a week. Or maybe it was two. In just that short time, I started feeling comfortable in the city, even confident, like I belonged here; and I liked that feeling. Maybe that’s the charm of this city. It makes every visitor feel like they fit in; something for everyone. In my first few weeks, I made lists of places I wanted to see, museums I wanted to visit and must-eats I wanted to savor. But somewhere down the way, I got swept away by the charm of the city and put aside my checklists for a more au naturel approach. I ambled around the city, its parks and cafes and started living my days without any itinerary. I spent hours trying to get to know New York, and the city very willingly twirled and pirouetted as my muse, comfortable in the knowledge that many before me had tried and failed in that pursuit.

I’m in love with a city that I don’t completely understand, and perhaps, because of it too. And try as I might, I can’t pinpoint what it is about New York that I have fallen in love with. Was it the icons? – The view from the Empire State Building, the planned natural ease of Central Park, the garish glamour of Times Square or the imposing grace of Lady liberty. Or was it the sheer collection of intellectual and social stimulation? – Right from museums of all things myriad to infinite clubs paying homage to all kinds of indulgences. Or perhaps the city itself is the greatest spectacle, an effortless orchestration of a daily performance. Whatever it is, I’m besotted: Another casualty of New York’s charm, another fool in love.

Not everyone can understand what I feel for this city and why. And sometimes it’s beyond my comprehension too. For New York is a difficult city to court. The life is difficult, the living is lonely, the streets are dirty, the houses are tiny and the food is expensive. And yet oddly, the city has a certain appeal. Like a raw-edged unconventional- looking man that you can’t take your eyes off, complete with kinks of character and oodles of charm. Yeah, New York is the Javier Bardim of cities!

But here I am now, sitting in a plane that’s pulling out of JFK airport and getting ready to take off any minute. My two and a half months have come to an end and I am leaving my love behind. My thoughts are consumed with this city and I let them flow. I chuckle as I remember my last minute scramble to buy souvenirs at the airport, to try and take a piece of this city back with me. I know, the real souvenirs I carry back are nestled in my heart and mind: the memories of a torrid summer love. But time is abrasive and I know these memories might fade. And so I cling onto a very tangible mug and a t-shirt, both proclaiming ‘I love New York’.

As the plane catches speed and the engine gets louder, the reality of the separation comes crashing down on me and I feel a sense of last minute panic. I close my eyes and calm myself- This isn't where it ends!

Currently Reading: Shalimar the Clown - Salman Rushdie
Currently Listening: High for this- The Weeknd, Even though i'm a woman - Seeker Lover Keeper

Friday, February 25, 2011

Here's attempting a CPR

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that this blog has been defunct for a while. Close to a year. 

And I don't know why I stopped blogging or when. I just did. It started feeling like a chore and I dragged my feet. For a while I kept up the charade of reminding myself that this space existed, that I would be disappointing all of my regular readers (yes all of the two of them) if I didn't post soon. But time destroys many delusions, and it didn't take me long to discover that no one really missed my banter. And that threw this blog into an existential crisis of sorts. It threw up too many questions that I did not immediately have any answers to. Nor did I have the time to figure any of them out.

For you see, sometime during the summer last year, I grew a pair and finally landed up in New york, under the pretense of doing 'Summer at NYU'. And it was lovely, like going to see a lover you've only just dreamt of. And it was lonely, like touching emptiness and finding even that crumbling away till nothing else remained. But that's the thing with these two- loveliness and loneliness; if they don't drive you mad, they will most certainly lead to something good. And in my case, it was love. With myself. I know, I know that sounds incredibly cheesy. And perhaps even cheesier than the very cheesy 'I <3 NY' line. (Which also, I will sheepishly admit, I have repeated on several occasions). But that's what I discovered while walking the streets of NY alone and watching the world pass by from under the shaded canopies of a park or two. That it's all about being comfortable in your skin. That you can't expect anyone to love you if you refuse to love yourself. That it's alright to tell the world to 'fuck off' sometimes, for after it has finished ranting and sulking, it will always come back for round 2. That in you game, you get to set the rules. And that  independence of choice and spirit is really what it's all about. I came back from New York a different person. And selfish as it sounds, I was completely besotted with myself. Time and a more-than-usual social life has taken the sheen off that self-love. But the glow remains. 

And I now know what I want this blog to be, at least for now- a part of the very-self-indulgent discovery of everything I am and can be. For now, I am a narcissistic writer trying to understand herself. And I attempt to make no claims to grandeur or higher purposes. It's back to basics, to where and how it all began.

So excuse me dear reader, while I indulge myself and write for myself. Coz while you are more than welcome to come along for the ride, know that it wasn't made for you. At-least for now.

Currently Reading: Death of Vishnu- Manil Suri
Currently Listening: Anna- Gunnar Madsen, Let go- Frou Frou

PS: So despite all of the claims above, the lack of writing on this blog does have a lot to do with blogger's block and an absolute inability to pick something to write about. So for now, I will just be regurgitating some of the writing that New York inspired me to and hope that just the way a broken down car starts off after being manually pushed for a while, my blogging brain cells will also jump start and make own their way soon.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

And the calendar changes...

This is lame, I know. Writing a new-year post almost 3 months into the year IS lame. But not as unacceptable as it would be if I were to completely ignore the changing of the calendar and skip one of the very few blog-rituals I do have.

So delayed as it may be, I must write that customary post: A eulogy to the year no more and a welcome to the year that is. But somehow this time, writing ‘the post’ feels like a chore, a task to drag my feet on, and perhaps even a little pointless. That definitely has to do in part with the realization that life is lived (and hence looked back upon) not by the calendar years but by the events and changes that happen in it. But more importantly I think it has more to do with the year itself-2009

What do you write about a year that felt like a whirlwind? A year that made you giddy with all its ups and downs? A year that was so far removed from what you had predicted, that it had to have had a mind and will of its own? A year that very dramatically followed the format of a Bollywood-flick, right from the climatic complications to the ‘all’s well that ends well’ finish?

Bitter- sweet- sour and every other flavor imaginable, 2009 was a year that started off tangled, twisted, confused and then proceeded to unravel itself completely before finally ending with all the ends tied neatly. Such years are very rare, I’m told. Not for their level of complications and twists but for the clarity and sense of peace with which they end. And sometimes even for the surprises they bring. And surprising it was. As the year started, if someone had asked me how I thought my year would turn out, my answer would have definitely been about some kind of boring version of my life; A lot of cribbing, a little heartburn and possibly a different work-scene- but definitely around India or Singapore. Instead, I spent the better half of the year in a middle-eastern country, made a few friends and then some more, almost fasted to starvation during Ramadan, learnt a smattering of Arabic, became an expert in taking flights & transiting, had a fairly decent time in the sandbox and somehow even managed to miss and pine-for the Lah-land (something I had thought I would never do).

There were other tinier drops of unpredictability in my year too. On separate occasions- I got dunked into a pool with all my clothes on, slept in a sleeping-bag on a sandy beach right under the stars, Pee-ed in public (for the first time in my adult life) hidden behind a dense bush of green foliage, finished an entire bottle of a very exquisite Riesling on my own (and still kept standing, with surprising sanity), got shat on the head by a bird (another first) and went paragliding (which was absolutely divine). But not all of it was upbeat. Kuwait did get incredibly lonely at times. And spending a birthday alone was never part of the plan. Somewhere in the middle, I had an upheaval in the heart-department and spent an agonizing period wondering how things would get better, if at all. But get better they did.

Which brings me to the ‘All’s well that ends well’ finish. The single most pissing-off and yet brilliant thing about the year was its unpredictability. When I thought things would get better, they got worse and when I thought things would only go downhill, they suddenly took the escalator upwards. And just like a bollywood movie where the happy end makes up for all the despair before, I said goodbye to 2009 with a sense of peace, a feeling of maturity and loads of tuneless singing and fun!

I continue to marvel at how lucky I have been in the friends department: The ones in Singapore- near n close and the ones far away- not near but still as close. So here’s a shout out to all of you in Kuwait: Ahmad, Mona, Janine, Marwah, Qasim- My time in Kuwait and my year wouldn’t have been the same without all of you. And another shout out to the peeps over in India: Miss Order, Journo-chic, Dimples, Machao-babe, HappyBrave, Uncleji, IITBoy & pokermon. Come visit me already now! And only coz I know I would get flak for not doing it, here’s a shout out to you too methodman!

So now that it’s 2010, I find that I’m still asking myself pretty much the same questions on love, life, choices and the future, as I was a year back. And perhaps I’ll keep asking them for the years to come. What’s different now is that I’m happy with my questions and no answers. Maybe that’s how it’s supposed to be. Maybe these are questions that you are never supposed to figure answers to, until the time comes. And then life itself brings the answers to you. Something tells me that’s how life is meant to be lived- With a little abandon, with a little less ‘figuring’ and a whole lot of ‘doing’. And so, this year-2010, that’s what I am going to be doing. The possibilities seem to be endless and I am running out of excuses not to go out there and try ‘em and take a chance on myself. Wish me luck, world!

Currently Reading: The Pregnant King- Devdutt Patnaik
Curently Listening: Symphonies- Dan Black, Hey ya- Karthik Calling Karthik

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Heppie Burday!

Within the first hour of my birthday, I had decided in my mind that a birthday spent alone could not and would not amount to much. Afterall, Kuwait being the place it is and with most of my friends and colleagues (even the Kuwaiti ones) being away, how could the customary birthday cheer happen. So with this thought and fairly low expectations, I peacefully went to bed expecting the day to seem just as ordinary when I woke up.

But there is something about a birthday that keeps the day from being ordinary, even if it turns out no different from the day before or the day after. Maybe it is the effect of being remembered by so many. Or maybe it is the expectation of good cheer that the day itself brings. My own favourite explanation includes a body calendar and a once-a-year happy ‘birthday-hormone’. (Yeah, I always did have a thing for the loony.) Whatever the reason, on a birthday morning, it is difficult not to wake up with a smile on the face and a skip in the step.

Birthdays for me have usually been all about the ritual of the day itself: the madness I indulge in or the surprises the day brings. And I usually save the introspection for when the calendar changes. But perhaps with the ritual itself missing in the day this year, I felt compelled to take stock of life and other affairs. And I realized that the passing year had indeed left some lessons in my lap.

Like the fact that that life is too unpredictable and whimsical to be wasted on worrying about the future and wondering how today’s choices might affect tomorrow’s outcomes. Truth is, you will never know. And it’s easy to waste a lifetime basking in the false security of the familiar, while dreaming of what might have been. Or the fact that at some point you have to stop worrying about what others expect of you and start living upto your own expectations, chasing your own dreams, without needing the nod from anyone else. True richness in life comes not from a fat bank account (though it definitely helps) but from the satisfaction of knowing that you live your life on your own terms. I learnt that money can be the motivation for work for only so long, before it all starts to feel meaningless and plastic. And that friends can be found in the most unexpected of places and ways. And most importantly, I realized that at the end of it all, when all else will fade away, it is the friendship, the love, the memories and the experiences that will stay.

And as I realized all this, I resolved that next year, this year, I will do things a little differently. Take more risks. Think and plan less. Have more faith in myself and what I want to do. Take life by the balls. And have more fun while I’m at it!

And so even though, I spent my birthday this year with myself (introspection and all), it turned out absolutely lovely! Different but lovely! Thanks to everyone who called, sent flowers and infected me with the birthday cheer (My favourite has to be one that hoped I would "have a birthday with dates, cakes and handsome arab sheikhs!"). Lots of music, a fair amount of messages and mails, a little bit of work and an evening spent by the sea : The day mirrored everybit the maturity that I feel being 24.

But then I am reminded of the birthday madness I plan to indulge in once I am back in Singapore. And I smile to myself. For the crazy, wild (some might call immature) side of me still rocks on, 24 or older! And I am glad for it!

Currently Reading: The historian- Elizabeth Kostova
Currently Listening: Voice- Pentagram, Flowers in the window- Travis

Friday, October 23, 2009

Lazy friday weekends! =D

Sunshine. Trees. A light breeze.
Ghazals. Bit of jazz. A cup of tea.
Pyjamas. Plaits. A sense of peace.
Lazy friday weekends. Such a rarity!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

The comedy is that it's serious.

When you do what I do for a living, life takes on quite a different flavor. Airports become hangout places and airport-staff become ‘buddies’ that you see regularly. The phrase ‘commute to work’ takes on a different meaning and involves boarding passes, immigration checks and X-ray machines. You start referring to your current hotel as ‘home’ and know all the staff on a first name basis (or the fact that they have a 2 month old baby or that they love ‘3 Doors down’). You get so comfortable in planes that you actually have a ‘favourite’ seat and develop a talent for making the mid-flight-mid-sleep toilet trip with your eyes closed. And yes, you get used to flight turbulence and learn to sleep through it like a baby.

And so when I say that I woke up mid-flight due to turbulence and even felt a little scared, take my word that it was indeed more than just a ‘tremble’. And I will admit (sheepishly) that for the first time ever I feared a little for my life.

Now it’s amazing the kind of perspective u can get from something as stupid as flight-turbulence. But there I was, with the plane (seemingly) completely out of control and I had one of those rare moments of clarity, with my whole life flashing before me (not just the past but what I had thought the rest of it to be like). And then suddenly somehow I reached a moment of panic, where I realized that if my time had indeed come, I would be leaving with a huge bag of regrets. I thought of all my plans-grand and otherwise. The world-travel, all the things I wanted to learn, the book I wanted to write, the experiences I wanted to have, my list of ‘100 things to do before I die’, all the weight I wanted to lose, the tattoo I wanted to get- Everything that I had put off for next year, when I would have ‘enough’ money and the time would be ‘right’. And right then, 30,000 ft above the earth, with the plane swinging wildly and a sinking feeling in my stomach, I realized that the money would never be enough and the time never right. Truly realized. And that was my ‘Eureka!’ moment.

Of course, the turbulence soon stopped, I went back to sleep and eventually landed safely. But something did indeed change in that moment. And just like that, I have a spring in my step, a purpose in my eyes, a grin on my face and a realization that my time here is finite and so I'd better make the most of it.

And so I am glad to report- the gyming is happening regularly, the healthy eating has become de-facto, all the travels are seriously being planned for and an inexplicable good cheer has come over me. Oh and the tattoo, happens in December. Talk about life-changing. Who needs ‘Deepak Chopra’ when you’ve got turbulence, right?

Currently listening- The boy is gone- Jason mraz, Unforgiven II- Metallica
Currently reading- Salmon fishing in Yemen- Paul Torday

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

When you realise...

When you are a kid, your parents are your world. And you think the world of them. They have all the answers, they can make all problems go away and they seem infallible in all regard. Quite like a personal ‘super-man’ looking over you. Bruised knees, bad dreams, tooth extractions and even the horrid chicken pox are no problem for them at all. They give you a kiss and a hug (and some medicine) and magically you’re back on your feet. They have the answers to all your questions, even the really insane ones (like why don’t dogs wear pants? Or why can’t I take the pig home?). And most of all, they seem to love you even though you are naughty- annoying- pesky- noisy- fussy and generally a brat.
And then you grow a little older. You realize that maybe they can’t kiss all your problems away and answer all your questions. You start to think that you know better than them, that their experience doesn’t count for as much as they think. They see you growing up and struggle with your insistence to be independent and ‘adult’. They try to protect you from the big bad world out there, without realizing that they can’t always do that. And in the meantime you mistake the protectiveness for mean-ness and accuse them of ruining your life. You start having fights with them. And you act like every typical adolescent.
And then you grow much older. Maybe even live away from them. Your problems and worries become more ‘adult’ and often have no solution. They still try to make them ‘go away’ and feel frustrated when they can’t. But you appreciate that they try. And you appreciate even more that they are just ‘there’ for you, a phone call away- especially on days when the world doesn’t look so pretty or when you really want to feel loved. They feel proud of the lovely person you have grown into but still find it difficult to think of you as an adult with a mind of your own. And best of all, they always take your side, even if you are in the wrong.
But in all of this time, you never ever think of a day when they won’t be there, when you won’t be able to call them up and hear their voice back. And so it is a very unnerving day when you are reminded of their fallibility, that they are not the “super-man” you always assume them to be, that there might come a time when no phone will help you reach out to them.
And on such a day, all you can do is give thanks for having them in your life and tell them how much you love them.
My gal pal’s mother passed away today. And I am having that ‘very unnerving day’. So here’s telling you mom n dad, all that I usually don’t. Love you!
Currently Listening: Vienna- Billy Joel, Roulette- S.O.A.D.
Currently Reading: Eat, Love, Pray- Elizabeth Gilbert

Sunday, July 19, 2009


You know how it is- When so much seems to be happening around you, you think of a million things to write about and you make mental notes. And then you keep setting aside time to post about them, but you faff around instead because you’re too lazy or too willing to give into any distraction (Like Zee cinema showing another hilarious ancient gem). And then, when you finally say- enough is enough and cajole yourself to sit down with your cup of tea, with just the right music playing (coz well ambience counts for a lot), to write out those thoughts, the dreaded blogger’s block threatens to strike. How ironic!

But hah, am a fighter too! So fighting the blows of the ‘block’ and very valiantly kicking it in the balls, I bring to you the very taaza, the latesssht! (a.k.a snippets from my head that are inane, whacked out and absolutely of no consequence to anyone)
The Indian 1 Billion Strategy
As a result of a conversation with a French colleague (who btw is convinced that all Chinese n Indians are spies) I am starting to see our race in a new light. And I daresay, I underestimated us all. Coz you see, while everyone thought that we were more tuned to being ruled than being rulers, I say it turned out quite to the contrary. We are conquerors of the world, just that our methods have been a unconventional. What the world thought to be the result of a slightly higher-than-normal libido, the kama sutra and the lack of anything else to do, may just be a well thought out strategy. (I’ve even thought up a nice little catchy name for it- copulation for population.)

Look around you! No matter what part of the world you are in you will find yourself surrounded by a tiny little India- Indian people, Indian food, Indian movies and music, even Indian bosses. It’s time to face it- The whole world is going through an Indianization of sorts. So yes, we’ll ‘pass’ on the machine guns and the bomber jets. We’ve got other tricks up our sleeve you see!
Jai Ho! For globalization
You’ve got to love globalization. Well I know I do. You know what else I love? Haldiram’s nut cracker (it’s the spicy coated peanuts savoury). And thanks to globalization it seems to be available everywhere. Battling my way through the lanes of Mustafa in Singapore (yes, battling), what do I find? Nut cracker. Walking through the busy and colorful Jonker walk in Malacca (Malaysia), what do I spy a hawker selling? Nut Cracker. And now, here in Kuwait as I push my trolley through the aisles of the local supermarket, what do I come upon? Take a wild guess! It truly is Nutcracker (Haldiram) domination all around and I have globalization to thank for it.

Infact my overactive imaginations sees a situation like this-
Slightly over enthusiastic explorer: (bursting upon a never-found tribal clan in the jungles of the amazon) I bring you food, clean water, fire : I bring you civilization
Tribal guy: (covered in white ash, painted in fancy colors, digging into a bright packet of Nut crackers) No thank you, we’ve got our packet of Nutcrakers. Yes we are quite happy! Nice knowing you. good bye!

So yeah well I exaggerate. And yes I am a crazy fan of the said savory. But it’s possible. Noe?
I love the word! And I haven’t found anything quite like it in English or Hindi. So succinct, so convenient. And it works with everything. It’s perfect to acquit yourself of all responsibility. And it's perfect for a serial procrastinator like me. Will I finish this by tomorrow? Inshallah! Will I be coming home on time? Inshallah! Will I be hauling my ass out of bed and trudging my way to work tomorrow? Inshallah. It’s brilliant.

Coz tomorrow when I don’t finish the work, and I don’t come home on time and I don’t get my ass to work, I simply have him to blame. Coz he didn’t will it so! See what I mean?
That's it for now dahlings! But I'll be back to post something soon. Inshallah!

Currently Listening: I will possess your heart- Death cab for cutie, Say it- Blue October
Currently Reading: Eat, Love, Pray- Elizabeth Gilbert

Tuesday, July 07, 2009


I first saw him over at someone's house at a dinner party. I remember the first thing I noticed about him was his voice, his style. He was singing a song. And I found myself singing along with the simple lyrics. It's what they call, love at first hear. I went to sleep that night with a tune on my lips and a smile on my face.

People told me he was a bit odd. And maybe they were right. He did look different from anyone else I had seen- With his long wavy hair tied loosely at the back, his big buttoned flashy jackets and his thin frame. But what did I care. I loved the way he sang. I loved what he sang. And most of all, I loved the way my feet would start tapping away almost involuntarily each time I heard him 'do his thing'.

A few days later, I spotted his picture in the local news papers. I remember getting a pair of scissors and very carefully cutting it out. I decided that I had been sufficiently impressed to openly profess my liking. And so up it went, the grainy black-and-white newpaper cut-out picture, on my cupboard. I didn't realise then what this small action would mean for me. Everyone around started ridiculing me, laughing at me with an indulgent smile. A wink here, a nudge there. But again, what did I care.

One of the 'nudgers', seeing the grainy newspaper cut-out, decided that I had to have a better picture to focus my adulation on. And that's how I got my first (and only) proper picture of him. And a very handsome picture too-Tousled up hair in that trademark ponytail, black pants, and a tucked-in white shirt, open just enough to show a peek of smooth chest. I put it up on the wall right across from my bed. And soon enough I started doing silly girlie things like wishing him (well the picture really) 'good night' everyday. But through all of this, it was still his singing that held sway over me. Each time I heard him, I would sing along, even memorize the words he sang and copy his moves.

And then, slowly, other things started occuying my mind, other people. And he got relegated to the back. And over time, even the picture got taken down. I moved on. Years passed. I occasionally heard snippets of his songs and smiled to myself, even tapped my feet. But I had changed. My tastes had changed. I liked others now. I heard less and less about him. Maybe I didn't care.

That is, until a few days back, when I read about his death in the news. And the memories came back. I played some of his songs and sang along to them (at the top of my voice)- My own little tribute to how brilliant he had been. And I realised then, that even though so much of time had passed since I was that 9 year old girl with his poster on the wall and a much obvious crush, I will miss him.I give thanks for the music he left behind and I really really hope that he is in a world much better than ours. Goodbye Michael.

Currently listening: Roulette- System of a down, Kuch Khaas- Fashion
Currently Reading- Myth=Mithya- Dr. Devdutt Patnaik