Thursday, November 16, 2006

Plump no more

Here’s a word I’ve been meaning to share forever, and I have n to thank for this fabulous discovery …

Zaftig
Deliciously plump or carrying your extra weight very well.

From the urban dictionary* (which I think is brilliant, btw)


Not fat, or overweight … but Zaftig


*http://www.urbandictionary.com/


Thursday, November 09, 2006

Random


Today has been one of those vague days. I have a craving to write, but have nothing to write about, so I figured why not get a little random.

~

A report in the midday today says item girls across the city are a happy lot because Rakhi Sawant is locked up at Big Boss’s for three good months; giving them a chance to up their business considerably. The paper has also been very kind to list each girl’s price per show, just in case …

~

Promos of Himesh’s debut are out. He is now threatening the mortal world with a disaster called Aap kaa Surroor - The moviee, the real luv story. (Yes, movie is now moviee and love is now luv). The nasal menace claims this to be his very own tragic love story. My reaction, ye gods, he has a love story!

~

Going ahead with the filmi connection, Lindsay Lohan says she fears an end like Princess Di. ROFL. The poor delusional child. But then eating disorders do that to you right?

~

Dear old Ram Jethmalani says Jessica Lal was killed by a Sikh man ... no Mr Jethmalani, that was Indira Gandhi, remember?

~

Vilas Rao bravely fell asleep during a 'How to counter the terrorist threat' meet. Wonder if it was thinking about Money Money Money that put him to sleep ...

~

Shoaib Akhtar has done it again, at least allegedly. He is said to have slapped Bob Woolmer. Kind of got me thinking, whom would I slap if the opportunity presents itself? Let’s see I’d start with V.P. Singh (yes, I am political like that), Himesh (good old prejudice), Kashmera Shah (she’s annoying, yes yes, I watch Bigg Boss), Ektaa Kapoor (she still spells it like that, right?), RGV (Basanti, Nisha Kothari, please!) Beckham (just), that damn referee Poll (robbing Drogba of a goal like that, scum!) Bobby Jindal (such a fart), Alonso (just), Sonia Verma (she is on TV right now, she is so dead, it's irritating) … this is turning into a very long list, and I haven’t even started yet …

Monday, October 30, 2006

Alone, with himself

He sat there, stretched out on his exquisite velvet couch, watching his irritation creep up onto him. He had been lying on this same couch doing the same old things, day-in and day-out for the last so many days. In fact, it had been a good year since he was last out on an assignment. Yes it had been riddled with ridiculous risks. Yes he had cribbed about it insanely. And yes he had mentioned a couple of times how he never wanted to do this again. In fact if you were one for numbers, you’d have placed his count to 237 times over four days. But now he was craving to be out on the job. Ironically, he was wishing for one of those reckless moments. He leaned across the couch and picked at his toe nails. What else could he do? When he wasn’t working, he wasn’t allowed to walk around the city streets. Yes, some jobs are like that, plain bloody evil - if you don’t know real evil, that is. And while he had every single need provided for in this room, it did get a little tiresome after a while. After all one does get weary of a pretty room and growing toe nails after the first 41 days. He wrenched out a bit of his protruding nail and thought to himself, a man needs to get out from time to time. Meet up with his mates. Have a couple of drinks. Boast of made up achievements. He sighed as he studied his toes again. There they were, all lined up neatly, one next to the other. Yes, that's a job well done, he thought as he began to snuggle his way back into the couch. He had almost made it too, when a sudden jolt threw him right off. It took him a few surprised minutes to recognise the rumbling all around. His room was shaking violently now, its contents flung all over the place. As he struggled to stay put, he smiled. Finally, he thought, a summon! And as a lime green vase smashed into his face, he wondered, in child-like anticipation, what three wishes he would be granting this time.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Where there is smoke...

There was smoke everywhere. She could barely see a thing; her eyes were watering and turning a worrisome red. It was a chaotic scene, people were screaming instructions and suggestions as she struggled to find her way around. As the smoke rose, she worried even more, what if the edge of her sari caught fire? What if her lenses fell out? What if she tripped? What if ... damn, I need to hold it together, she thought. And as the thick black smoke danced around her, she hitched her sari ever so slightly, blinked her eyes furiously and told herself, just two more pheras and we’ll be done. Just two more.

Blue Curacao

Was it the drink, he wondered, or something else?

He had left office at six sharp, walked a colleague to the bus stop and then made his way to this coffee shop. It was a routine he was diligently following over the last few weeks. Now even the staff here recognised him
and greeted him as a patron; him, his glass of iced Blue Curacao and a sports magazine. He flipped past yet another player profile as he stole a quick glance at his watch; it was almost eight, any minute now his phone would ring. He hurriedly pulled it out from his pocket and placed it on the table, right next to Allan Donald’s career statistics. And waited. 8:02. 8:03. 8:05. 8:07. 8:08. It finally rang at 8:10. He grabed the phone, let it ring once, and then quickly answered it.

Hey, she said, am done, how about you, are you still at work?
No, am done too, just leaving, he answered.
Oh super, so I’ll see you at the station then, in another 15?
Yeah, same place.
Cool! See you.
Bye.

He quickly finished the remains of his drink, tucked Allan Donald back into the magazine rack and made his way out. In five minutes he’d be at the station and in another ten he’d be on his way home. He smiled as he thought he didn’t mind the hour long journey anymore.

Was it the drink, he wondered, or something else?

Friday, October 20, 2006

What was Mulayam Singh thinking?

Note: This question has at least 10001 variations, just substitute name of politicians to suit your argument.

The UP government, headed by the honourable Mulayam Singh Yadav, has issued cheques to distressed farmers across the region. This lion hearted drought relief measure ranges from an opulent Rs.10 to a generous Rs.2. Wonder how much the cheque itself costs, and the fare to the local bank?


Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Signing out

It has finally happened. After a year of plotting and planning, the day has come to hang up my oshos and do things other then advertising. It’s been a half decent run, I think. Some memorably forgettable work and some that never saw the light of day (thankfully?). But all is good when the people you work with get rid of you with a warm smile and actually reply to your ok bye email. Of course it was a little weird to see the new boy sitting on ‘my’ comp. I wanted to tell him that he’d inherited a lousy machine, one that’s slower then Inzy and that it will almost always let him down. But then I thought, let him find out the hard way. A couple of weeks here and he’ll figure out it gets much worse :) Also my boss asked me to stay on in the sweetest way ever, it’s a memory that’ll always stay with me. So at the end of it all, am I happy? Hell yes, I realised somewhere between a barf worthy ad I was writing and a stab me now brochure that even though this was (at least occasionally) fun, I didn’t want to spend my life writing fun as a ringworm leaflets and yawn yawn when will this end AVs. So I've decided to move on and find me something new to do. What exactly I know not, but it will most definitely involve lots of travel and loads of writing. And hopefully, I’ll end up exactly where I should be. So till then adios advertising, and adios;

Think some more (but …but, I can’t)
But where is the idea? (THAT IS THE IDEA)
It’s been done (not by me, it hasn’t!)
I want an option (fuck off)
Your book is not crazy enough (*quiet simmering rage*)
But where are visual ideas? (I am a writer, asshole)
The brief has changed (what? what?)
It’s nice, but … (BUT?)

Sweet sweet relief!

:)

Closure

She sat in the last row, right next to the door and watched the proceedings, the charade play out. She heard out the arguments and watched the Judge react to them, sometimes worried, sometimes frustrated. And when the case came to an end she was hardly surprised at which way the verdict went. The cops and the accused shook hands and exchanged words of hushed conspiracy, and the honourable Judge walked out with his head held low. As the front row broke down in uncontrollable grief, she walked out of that courtroom with hidden tears and a cold heart. Years later when they reopened the case, she returned to her spot near the door. A lifetime had passed since they had all assembled here last, a lot had since changed. And by the end of this renewed battle so had the verdict. While the front row wept a silent tear and marked their victory with brave smiles, she saw him collapse in his chair. He couldn’t accept this reversal in fortunes, not after all the money he had spent and the names he had cultivated in his favour. He watched his guilt closing in around him. He looked towards the door; he desperately wanted to get out of this room, away from all these people. That’s when he saw that last row seat. He suddenly found it very hard to breathe as he watched that empty seat. If he could have seen her, he would have seen her standing there with a smile.


The verdict to the Priyadarshini Matoo case is out and finally justice has prevailed. It’s come 10 years too late but at least there is a dim light at the end of the very dark tunnel. We’ve a long way to go, and hopefully we’ll get there.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Out of touch

She took a deep breath and prepared herself. She hadn’t done this in a very long time. She was completely out of practice and that made her very very nervous. She used to be really good at this once upon a time; her friends had always told her how lucky she was, envy spreading from tip to tip on their longing smiles. Ah, those were the good old days, when everything was in place, and in shape. Now weighing 93 kgs, forget her toes, she could barely touch her knees.

Scary

These are bad time we live in. A time of remixes, remakes and super scary sequels. So while I cringe and squirm each time Shahrukh ‘Don’ Khan wriggles his bum to Khaike paan and Ash batters her fake eyelids to Rekha’s Umrao Jaan, I hear wicked words like Ramu’s Sholay and my newspaper spreads evil rumours of a Krrish sequel. Is there no hope?

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Reflections

She took off her shirt and walked up to the mirror to face her naked blue reflection. He had promised her a bruising, he had warned her, told her what to expect but she had laughed off his silliness. Now she winced as she gingerly touched a new born welt on her abdomen. All across her body he had left little isles of his promise, each swelling up as a reminder of his presence and power over her. He had been careful not to scar her face, he hadn't touched her arms either; marking his playing field to strictly neck and below. So while her perfect face and her smooth arms stood a rich brown, the rest of her was slowly turning into a riot of blues. She looked into the mirror, at what he had done to her, and smiled.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Black!

I am back after four days in Goa with sea shells and a chocolate brown tan. The shells are really pretty but the tan didn’t find too many fans. Some sample reactions;

Mortified aunt: Oh my god, have you become dark?

Mortified aunt 2: Why are you looking so dark today?

Mortified aunt 3: Tan! Why did you even go to Goa?!

Mortified aunt 2 again: You will become normal again, na?

Mum: Haven’t you ... washed your face today? (Hmmm)

Mortified aunt 3 again: You shouldn’t have gone only.

Am expecting some fair and lovely advice to follow soon, will keep you all posted. Sigh.


Sunday, October 08, 2006

Breaking NEWS

It’s 10:45 on a Sunday night. The whole day has been spent at work and all I ask for after such a day is some decent television programming to surf on. But no. What I get instead is 765 stupid news channels flashing brain dead breaking news in my face. Remember the old days? Breaking news meant election results, earthquakes, a tsunami or planes flying into buildings. On a good day it meant wow, we actually won a match. Today breaking news is a gutter filled with ridiculous marital spats, children eating chocolates in a pit, farty religious bigots displaying stunning levels of mental retardation and other such displays of general Indian stupidity. And this isn’t just one or two bad channels, every channel seems to be working hard to stoop lower then the rest. Example on screen right now, Sachin Tendulkar is saying, in Hindi mind you, that we need a balance while experimenting with the team. Stupid, daft reporter translates in his version of Hindi, Sachin ko nahi pasand team ke saath experiments, akhir bole little master. Huh? What? Where? On another channel the smart as a twit reporter is asking a singer about the pressures of singing for the new Umrao Jaan (warning: rant on remakes of classics soon to follow) and asks the singer to hum a few lines. Decent courtesy demands you at least shut the soundtrack, a song sung by another singer not in your studio, playing on your split screen, while the singer in your studio sings. But noooo, how could they figure out something as complex as this, after all this isn’t rocket science, is it? Btw, just incase you missed it, this was a segment of breaking news too, how exactly it qualifies, i don't know. Don't get me wrong here, not that watching the Mika-Rakhi war wasn’t interesting, much more intriguing then the Middle East conflict I’d say, but whatever happened to the news guys? And whatever happened to journalism?

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Crossfire

The sun was growling, intimidating the pale blue sky to a fierce yellow. A thin plastic sheet, held up by flimsy sticks, was all that stood between her and the angry sun. Her little boy sat near by, playing with bits of gravel. His sores, staring openly at the dehydrated day, were buzzing with flies. Out of habit she tried to swat them away. But they were war veterans, unafraid of little waves, they continued their feast. She wondered how long he would last in these conditions, how long before he too left her, slaughtered like the rest, to fuel this war.

She wondered if her husband was still alive. Maybe he was still out there, fighting death by delivering fresh bodies to his doorstep everyday, driving helpless people like her into camps like this. She had got here just yesterday, ahead of the wave of refugees filing in. Each time a new coalition was formed or a new peace deal was brokered, a new camp like this would spring up somewhere. Soon they would run out of plastic sheets, water and medicine. And then things would get even worse. But they were safer here, at the mercy of foreigners, while their own hacked them up into tiny pieces on the other side. When the war had started, she used to be full of bitterness, and ready to fly into a fit of rage. But today all emotion had been shed away, along with the blood flowing on the streets. Now, there was just a long wait in the sun. For peace. For death. For the numbness to end.

They saw her in the papers the next day. There she was, a beautiful young black woman. Blood was pouring out form somewhere behind her head, a little boy was sitting next to her dead body, crying. It was a chilling picture, it didn’t go down too well with the morning cuppa. People squirmed as her lifeless eyes started at them from the newspapers. And the little boy’s wails were screaming out, past the words and onto the breakfast table. They flipped the page hurriedly and wondered what the world was coming to, burying her as another headline, one more story that got lost in the morning of the civilized world.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Wanderful and more

While practising a triple jump form one channel to the third I tripped over a classic late 80’s, early 90’s garish Bollywood scene. Lo and behold there stood Govinda on my screen. Usually this is reason enough to curse your luck, but today was special. Not only was Govinda standing there, he was jiving on my screen in a Superman outfit, chaddis on the outside et al. It’s no wonder poor Reeves fell off his horse. Sigh.

Now, the Govinda, he is not alone. He is with his lady love, serenading her, the ever so lovely Kimi Katkar. Ha! Suffer fools suffer!

Things get even more interesting from here, for the Katkar1, she is no less and matches her beau step for step. And unfortunately outfit for outfit. And to his Superman you have her Sipdey, careful there Toby!

Now, all Super Heros come with super powers and Super Govinda and Spidey Katkar are no different. They superimpose themselves on flying stills of Mumbai2 and singing their Super Couple3 song, they go about their merry business. They save a really ugly couple from dirty dirty goons, coochie coo in a garden full of sex starved flowers and join a bunch of ageing youngsters doing PT on the dance floor, before superimposing themselves on a flying Mumbai again.

Just beautiful4, I say!

1Have to call her that, can’t risk Raikkonen injuring himself, now that he is a Ferrari man.

2Only Mumbai could have survived this; after all we’ve got the spirit for this kind of shit.

3Ha and you thought the incredibles was original!

4 For the Bollywood inclined, for the suicidal, for the adventurous, the movie you are looking for is Dariya Dil. It also stars Kadar Khan (in a double role beware), Shakti Kapoor and Gulshan Grover (somebody show this to his Hollywood agent).



Sunday, September 24, 2006

Storyteller

He stared at his screen. Blank. He stared at the keypad. Blank. He looked at the neatly arranged alphabets on his notebook with despair, wanting them, almost begging them to jump out and lead him on to something incredible. His head hurt as he strained his insides for something to get him started. A snippet of the unusual, a moment of tenderness, a poisoned tear…

Nothing.

He desperately searched for his lost genius, rummaging through empty coffee mugs and dying cigarette ends.

But nothing. Not a hint, not a spark, just scorching agony,

creeping all over him,

consuming him.

Betrayed and abandoned by his words, he sat there empty, dry. Striped naked of the talent he once had.

He had said in an interview years ago, there is nothing scarier for a writer then success. His words were walking out on him today. They were proving him right.


Saturday, September 23, 2006

Interrupted

It’s a glorious Saturday morning.

The sun is hiding behind fat white tufts of cloud. Last night’s rain has been soaked in by the cobbled pathways around. The trees are dancing in bright green outfits, with little clusters of colourful flowers as trimmings. The air is crispy and crunchy as it hits my face. Work is adjusted to interfere only on Monday morning. It’s the perfect day to grab a book and make place on the window sill. I take one last look at the world walking by before the words take me away. Aunties in bright pink saris make their way from the local grocer. There’s breakfast to be made and eager stomachs to be pleased. Old uncles walk by in white, smiling as they remember carefree stories from yesterday. A chirpy teenager chatters away excitedly into her phone, it’s just the kind of day when you want to fall in love. School is out and a bunch of kids are planning their next game. Who will bat, who will bowl, wait let me fix the stump. They scream and they fight. Holler at each other. Who will be in my team? I don’t want the fat boy, he can’t run. It’s my bat, I’ll start. Throw the ball, throw it here you fool! Little grudges accumulating for a final showdown.

My glorious Saturday morning is turning into a little riot.

If only I could slap the little hooligans, I’d be able to save the day and savour the words.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

13 years later

The Bombay bomb blast verdicts are beginning to trickle out.

13 years on we continue to bleed.

In memory of all those who lost their lives.

A moment for the innocent.

People who were at the wrong place at the wrong time.

People who died for nothing.

People who were caught because someone had to be.

Those who made the numbers.

Those who have been forgotten.

For the cops who lived the nightmare.

For the cops who investigated death.

For the buildings that saw each other crumble.

For the building which still have the courage to stand.

For the blood that still stains us.

The anger that still haunts us.

For the people who continued to live.

For the people who died after.

I pass one of blast sites everyday. I look at the spot and wonder if I am walking over faded blood stains. I wonder if someone died standing here that day. I wonder if things would have been different if those bombs hadn’t gone off. I also wonder if we’ve learnt anything from 1993.

I wonder how they celebrated while Bombay was bleeding.

I wonder how they live with so much blood on their hands.

I wonder if their hands are still drenched bright red or has the blood faded like it has on our streets.

I wonder if they will ever regret doing what they did.

I wonder if they will ever be truly punished.

I wonder if they are haunted by it when they sleep.

I wonder, if they could go back 13 years in time, would they still do what they did or would they change their minds?

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Tick tock tick tock

Mice don’t really like cheese.

Pluto isn’t a planet anymore.

Andre Agassi has grown old.

Michael Schumacher won’t race anymore.

My world is changing.

And how.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Courage will die

There is a man crying on TV right now. He says he knows he will be murdered soon. He knows the people who are going to kill him and he knows they will make his family suffer. He knows they will be brutal. He knows he can’t escape. He says he spends each day wondering when they will come for him. They are powerful. They have already threatened him. They even offered to buy my silence, he says. But I can’t sleep with the images they have planted in my head. I see the professor being killed every time I close my eyes. I want to sleep. I will testify. They will kill me for it. I too shall die.

Between them

Slowly he tried to pull off her shirt. She hesitated. Suddenly she was very uncomfortable, she was scared. He sensed her unease. He let go of her shirt and held her close instead. He whispered in her ears, reassuring words, don’t worry, it’ll be fine. I’ll take care of you, I promise. With sensual ease he let his fingers find her shirt again. He slowly undid the strings holding it together and gently pulled it off. She shivered as her smooth brown skin lay naked now. He was whispering sweet words to her as his hands reached for her breasts. She saw the look in his eyes as his fingers touched her and she knew she had guessed right. It was there, a lump. She tried to smile.

Decisions


Ah to be in Michael Schumacher’s very expensive shoes right now. How does a man choose between more money and more money?

Stale

It was their fourth wedding anniversary. It was their first dinner together in months. Today they had pushed meetings and avoided frantic calls from the office for a promise made years ago; to never spend this day alone. She knew his secretary had booked this table and picked the flowers. He knew she had shopped for the dress an hour before he had picked her up. They was no need for conversation, there was no shortage of it either. When they spoke, they talked of things that mattered, of things that didn’t and things that had to be said. They had dinner with red wine and enjoyed it, they smiled and laughed and enjoyed it. They walked out arm in arm and in smiles. Standing there, under the stars, his phone rang, and then hers. They answered. Sometimes she wondered how they hadn’t got lost yet.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Silenced

Shit!

Shit!
Clear this mess up; I don’t want another enquiry on my hands.
Get rid of the bodies.
Take the ones that are alive. And talk to them.

Let’s get this over with.

Dead.
Dead.
Dead.
Dead.
Fuck this one is alive.

Fuck he is British.

What?
Passport.
Shit!
This isn’t good.
Talk to him. Talk to him!

What’s your name?
Can you hear me?
Can you hear me?
Are you hurt?
What’s your name?

He won’t answer.
Son of a …
Why is he staring like that?
He is giving me the creeps.

Maybe it’s shock.
Oh don’t give me those fancy words damn it.
Just a few questions. And we could end this right now.

What?
Look at him. You think he can hear us?
What!
Shit are you saying we made him deaf?
Can he sue us for this?
Doubt it.
He is British.
Then maybe you shouldn’t be saying it out so loud.
Pass me a fucking light.

His eyes bore into theirs. He decided if he couldn’t hear their questions, he wouldn’t have to give any answers. It was time to move on.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

One miracle, two miracle, three…

Dear God,

Since you are in my part of the world right now, please do me a few favours. No point pretending you’re busy elsewhere because I know it’s you* and that you’re here.

See, if you were trying to keep a low profile, turning that nasty toxic dump into a sweet water delight was a big mistake. And then you went and drank litres of adulterated milk, sip by sip. Most of us can barely digest a spoonful, you’d have to be divine to polish it off. And if that wasn’t enough, you went and posed on a derelict building. Really God, if you were going for discretion there, I suggest you hire a really good PR firm, pronto. Anyway coming back to the point, all these miracles you’ve been up to, sweet as they are, can we have a few concrete, focused miracles now please? Here. I’ll give you a headstart and then you can take it from there.

Can we start with Karan? God, please take away all his money. Or make him sick. Or just let him have that man he is craving for. One more movie out of his closet and you’ll end up with mass dementia on your hands.

Potholes. Potholes are seriously dangerous God. Just the other day I lost a bit of my spine in one those holes and though I did find a new set in another hole, they really weren’t the right size. My only concern is that a spineless following might not be very good for your image, will it?

Breaking News. Watching Prince eating that bar of chocolate had me craving for the good old state regulated DD days. Honestly, I don’t know how you will tackle this pain, but you are God and I’m sure you’ll figure something out.

The Government. I don’t know if you caught the Laloo-Prabhunath Singh saga the other day. Or if you’ve been following Arjun Singh’s monologue. Or for that matter Vilasrao’s solo act. This nautanki has run its course God, it’s now time to draw the curtains.

Himesh. Oh God o God, please do something about this nasal menace. It is threatening to deliver this and the next year’s biggest hits, pitching this cacophonic situation into calamity mode. Today it’s just filmy hits. Tomorrow it could be your music. Think about it.

Right, this about covers the biggest threats to our daily lives. My work ends here and yours begins. Ciao then God almighty, I’ll let you get on with things.

lv,
neha
* going by the sab ka malik ek hai theory, i have used the word God as a singular representation of all the Gods around.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Shortest story


I came across the Hemingway Challenge - a short story in six words - on several blogs this week.

My contribution to the growing list:

1.
“I do.”
“I do.”

"Now what?"

2.
He caught the last train home.

3.
"It's just routine questioning", they said.

4.
She missed him. No she didn’t.

5.
He was Hindu.
She was not.

6.
Hey! Are you driving? ... Hello? ... Hello?!!

7.
Her test said positive.
She cried.

8.
It happened a long time ago.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Stopped in my tracks … almost

I can’t access blogspot. And it’s killing me.

No, let me rephrase, I couldn’t access blogspot. And it was killing me. But as always there is more then one way to get the job done.

Which brings me to the people blocking my morning read. Here's the statement from some government representative on the blocking of blogspot and 11 other sites in the country, it’s priceless, take a read:

"We would like those people to come forward who access these (the 12) radical websites and please explain to us what are they missing from their lives in the absence of these sites."

This got me thinking. See, I’ve always harboured a secret ambition of being an adventurous outlaw. The kind who lives in a dense jungle, defying the authorities and fighting guerrilla wars. I’ve never been able to meet this dream, of course, for a number of reasons. The most obvious being, I’m chicken. Being very scared of scary things like violence, arrest, blood, cut-open bodies, Indian lawyers, (shudder shudder!) torture (ugh!) made this a highly improbable career choice. But suddenly everything has changed. And today, I stand among illustrious fellow outlaws; Robin Hood with his bow and arrow, Che* with his philosophy and an ever-growing line of tee shirts and Me with my blog.

On with the revolution, I say!

* comparison to Che made only for spectacular effect and not in a state of sensless self-illusion.

Oh! In news just in, the block is off! Bye Bye Robin. Later Che ...

Friday, July 14, 2006

Wanted


We’re back on track. And we’re much wiser.

This morning I hopped off the train and walked right into two neatly dressed cops. Standing outside the first-class compartment in their crisp khaki saris and tidy plaits they scanned me for any potential terrorist threat. One of them obviously found a glimmer of terror in me and promptly got to work. From lazy strolling cop she suddenly became all business, barking her order in perfect textbook cop style ...madam bag check please.

Nothing wrong in that, I thought, she’s just doing her job. And the obedient citizen I am, in a show of faith, I flashed her a bright happy smile. Shit! Wrong move. You never smile at cops. You scowl or you cower but you never smile. She almost cart wheeled in delight as she gave her colleague a triumphant ‘I told you so!’ look. My flashing smile had openly betrayed my criminal intent, more reason then to probe the contents of my bag. After all bags can carry some pretty scary things. Other then your everyday bombs and hand grenades you could be carrying scary bubblegum strips, cruncy red apples, broken pencils, rubberbands, sharp nibbed pens, dirty handkerchiefs. The list is terrifying and endless.

I opened my bag and tried to guide them through the hundred different things in it, but once again, I was curtly stopped. Again, I gave her the benefit of doubt. She had a point; I could be up to some mean mischief, I could detonate unknown devices using a remote control hidden in my bag. I could be carrying a touch-and-boom-we-all-explode contraption. I could have nerve gas and trigger off even more trouble. My hand in my bag could be the end of our world, making this a very dangerous situation. And so my hand stayed exactly where it was, hanging aimless from my shoulder while her hand gingerly shuffled through my stuff. Pens, paper, book, tissue, more scraps of paper, empty chips packet, blah, blah, blah… damn where were the usual suspects?

The bag gave me a clean chit but not the cops. They had another brainwave, hoping to catch me on the wrong foot. What’s your name they asked me, where are you coming from. Brilliant! If I were a part of the movement for mass destruction, I would definitely tell them my name and where I come from. It is but natural. For that matter I would also alight from a crowded train during rush hour, just after a major mishap in the city carrying a nasty device in my bag. Obviously.

Then again, they were just doing their overworked underpaid job. So what if it was a lousy attempt. Finding nothing in me to suit the profile of a closet terrorist, they reluctantly thanked me and let me go. And focussed their energies on some other equally terrifying person hopping off the next train.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Wish you were here


So, so you think you can tell Heaven from Hell,
blue skies from pain.
Can you tell a green field from a cold steel rail?
A smile from a veil?
Do you think you can tell?
And did they get you to trade your heroes for ghosts?
Hot ashes for trees?
Hot air for a cool breeze?
Cold comfort for change?
And did you exchange a walk on part in the war for a lead role in a cage?
How I wish, how I wish you were here.
We're just two lost souls swimming in a fish bowl, year after year,
Running over the same old ground. What have we found? The same old fears.
Wish you were here.
R.I.P
Syd Barrett
1946-2006

Mumbai

To the rudest people in the world,
Take a bow.

Mumbai,
11/7/06

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Cup of Joy?


The Football World Cup;
Breaking millions of hearts since 1930.

In the Rains …


The monsoon is here in all its glory.

Pearl shaped raindrops hit the earth with a gentle splatter. Their rhythmic pitter-patter disturbs the long settled dust, sleeping across the city. Everything is fresher now. Everything is green. And the air is scented with the delicious aroma of roasting corn.

Tempting you from every street corner is a monsoon-drenched cart. A tiny man in an oversized raincoat smiles at you from behind it. Pointing knowingly at the neatly displayed wares on his cart, a tidy heap of lime green butta.

As the skies open out, you run up to the cart and huddle under a dripping umbrella, watching tiny puddles gather to life in a circle around you. You peer through the curtain of raindrops at the tiny man. He smiles, a friendly smile, and strikes a damp matchstick to life. And with these tiny strings of fire, he lights his small coal stove. Instantly little bits of charcoal glow awake, angry red eyes glare at you, from inside the stove, like a monster waking up in a dark fairy tale.

As the stove turns into dots of red, the tiny man picks up a butta and then two, without once disturbing the heap. He rips off the bright green coats they wear and lifts their soft brown velvet veil. He casts a disapproving glance at the flame, not impressed by its progress, he fans it furiously, egging it on to rise. And rise it does, suddenly the air is full of slivers of fire dancing around fat-sparkling drops of rain; the coal is now bright red and the corn roasts to a golden yellow.

After a series of twists and turns, he lifts the golden yellow butta off the smoky hot stove. Yes, it’s perfect, hard enough to bite, soft enough to chew. He smiles. And proceeds to dress it in a melting coat of butter. He adds a touch of namak and a dash of mirch and then to this delicious mix, he adds the final touch, a generous splattering of lime.

You hurriedly grab the hot cob he hands you and greedily bite into this spicy-sweet monsoon delight. And you don’t stop till you rip off every bit of corn from cob. And somewhere between the first bite and the last a thought enters your head, ‘Should I have another one of these?’

And there in the background, stands the tiny man, still smiling, as the bits of coal shut their growling red eyes again.

Running Late



She’s late.
She grabs her bag, haphazardly throwing in all she needs. Wallet. Book. Scribbling paper. Pen.
She steals a glance at the clock. Shit! She’s going to miss the bus.

Eight minutes left.

She gulps down her tea. It’s burning hot. It scalds her throat as it pours in.
She needs a whole minute to put out the burning flames in her throat.
She has no time for this!
She slips on her Osho chappals. And hurries out.

Six minutes left.

She calls for the elevator. Damn! Where is it?
Forget it. She runs down the stairs and rushes out.
She glares at her watch. It’s hard to tell the time when you’re on a trot.
The hands keep jumping nervously around the dial. Is it 8:10? Is it 8:12?

Five minutes left.

The sun is trailing her.
Her shadow is at her tail, goading her on.
The sparrows chipper loudly, taking bets on her chances.
The old grey crow thinks she’ll make it.
The pigeon says she won’t.

Four minutes left.

Cars pass her in slow motion.
So do people talking their morning stroll.
The world moves on at a lazy pace, mocking her urgency.

She doesn’t notice the wrinkled hawker coming from the other side.
He spreads his cart carelessly in front of her.
She halts.
Ouch! Her shadow painfully bumps into her.
She really doesn’t have the time for this!
Panic is setting in.

Two minutes left.

She brushes the cart out of her way.
And then she smiles for the first time today.
She can see the bus now.
She is almost there…

She smoothens her hair.
She straightens her kurta.

One minute left.

She steps into the bus.
There he is.
His fingers are drumming a panicked beat on his laptop.
Where is she?

And then he sees her.
She smiles.
He smiles.

The engine roars to life.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

A Football Match and Other Things

In other earth-shattering events this week was the game between Italy and Australia. After chasing the ball around for 89 dull as an empty saucepan minutes, four men stood up to the challenge and made the game ever so slightly interesting. Suddenly stretching yawns snapped shut and drooping eyelids lit up in absolute attention. Ah, how a dead game can be brought alive with a little controversy.

So this is how it plays out, this poor (metaphorically speaking of course) Aussi player, Lucas Neil, stumbles and trips over the last thirty seconds of the game. As Lucas falls, a smart (or maybe just plain lucky) Italian, Fabio Gross, who has been wildly chasing Lucas around these dying seconds, trips over him, and over the last thirty seconds now lying crushed somewhere under Lucas, and also falls.

Clearly there is no foul play here, there’s no space for any dying minute drama. And right here, perfectly on cue our little twist makes an entry. The referee blows his whistle. “PENALTY!” he screams out. How? Where did that come from? Hello? And awards the elixir of life to the Azzurri. The football-loving world squirms, boos and jeers. But really, as bad as it was, I don’t blame the poor referee. Come on; put yourself in his worn out hi-end shoes. Imagine trotting around this hopeless game for almost 90 deadpan minutes. Just the thought of thirty more, will bring the whistle flying to your lips and your finger, pointing to the penalty spot. And the referee is just as human.

Now, getting back to the game, Francesco Totti takes the kick. Scores and Italy are home. It is this kick that has me all bewildered and speechless. This, is my earth-shattering moment. See, all this while, as the game was crawling on, I was fighting battles of my own. I was violently chasing sleep away from the corner of my eyes, and in the midst of it all I failed to notice Francesco’s boring new hair cut!

Why in the whole world would (Ah! How's this for alliteration?) you chop those stunning locks off? WHY, PRAY TELL ME, WHY? Why would you trade this absolutely yummy look for a downsized just-a-really-good-looking look? I’m baffled. This has left me more perplexed then the referee’s bizarre decision. That I could figure out (read above), this I just can’t.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Plain is Perfectly Fine!


They’ve done it again.

Blasphemy, I say.

Why would you take something perfect and tarnish it with change?

This is my war cry, come gather around.
It’s time to save the best snack in town.

This saviour of bad cooks.
The road to instant salvation.
It’s ok Mum, if you step out.
I have my plate of Maggi. I’ll be fine.
With a full stomach soon I’ll be satisfied.

But now I hear whisperings of sabotage.
I sense foul play.

First they put wheat in it, and now it’s sambhar.
Don't insult my taste buds.
I deserve more then that.
Leave my noodles alone, plain and nice.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Fruit


Sour grapes are my favourite fruit.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Karma Strikes Back

Himesh is what happens when you tempt karma and lose.

Love you o Sayonee,
Love you o Sayonee,
Koi shaak?

Wassszzuuup?

Bloody crap!

Monday, June 19, 2006

The Day Order

You know how some days just work out better then the rest? How certain days make the cut, while others simply fail? Well, I call this the Day Order, a standing of the best days of the week to the ones that need to try harder.

To give it some semblance I start with the top day and continue in the flowing order. The ranking of the days are not necessarily in that order.

Thursday
Yes, we start with Thursday. King amongst days. Thursday is full of hope and joy with a Friday riding on its back. No matter how screwed you are, you can always bask in the shortcut of an escapist weekend being just a few hours away. How can you fault such a day? I so love Thursdays.
Rank Order: Bestest day of the week
Friday
With Thursday leading, Friday can’t be far behind, can it? They'll tell you it’s a whole working day but if you negotiate half of it, you're almost there. Hit lunch, press snooze and look forward to two and a half days of the perfect life at your disposal.
Rank Order: Second bestest day of the week

Saturday
It’s Saturday, it’s time to party in abandonment. After all Saturday comes with the knowledge of a clockful of hours still left to indulge in the sweet caress of laziness. Inspiration so great, that your Saturday smile can rival only Thursday.
Rank Order: Rock solid spot number three

Sunday
Oh god, what a bittersweet day. It’s the day for laundry. It’s the day for dusting. It's the day before a whole new week begins. But still it’s hard to fault a day that wakes up so luxuriously only after the clock strikes noon.
Rank Order: Low down the pile at number five

Monday
First the good part, Monday means new, a start afresh. And Monday kicks into action only past eleven on the clock everyday. But Mondays are dangerous. They should come with an injurious to health warning. After two and a half days of doing very little, how can Monday expect you to operate at full throttle? Don’t fault your body for revolting on this day; there is a reason the blues hit only on a Monday.
Rank Order: A crappy number six

Tuesday
Tuesdays. Tuesdays. Tuesdays are evil. Tuesdays are vile. Tuesdays mockingly remind you of the weekend gone by. Tuesdays taunt you. Tuesdays torture you. Tuesdays stand for the long stretch left to conquer before you can reach a happy smile. Tuesdays. Tuesday. You’ve just got to hate Tuesdays.
Rank Order: Worst day in the world

Wednesday
Wednesday is the equator of the week. Wednesday stands in the middle. It's an equal distance between the last break and the one coming up. Wednesday is cool, it swing both ways. Wednesday is when the week begins to look up. Wednesday is when the week gets brighter.
Rank Order: At number four, not to bad, could do better

And this brings us back to glorious glorious Thursday. A day when life gets good again.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Void Trenches


Did you burn midnight trying to keep the light alive?
Did you stretch each strand to meet at the end?
Was the walk uphill long and lonely?
Did the path curl around longer then it promised?
Did mediocre, strictly ok and my dad is a rich man pass you by?
Was it hard to accept these naked truths of life?

Did the platter taste bitter and vile?
Did the wallet heavy fiend steal your light?

Was this the way the script flowed?
Is this how it always goes?
The rich man takes his place.
The strugglers wait their day.
When money talks nineteen to a dozen,
Talent cowers, unhinged by burden.

And in this mess of names the void ever grows.

Play Red


Once upon a time I used pity football referees.

Poor guys. They make a living on the sidelines of action. Almost-ran ageing men scampering around with whistles and tiring lungs. They huff and puff and try to catch up with the ball and where it'll be sent next. Is it football? Is it theatre? Complex questions to be answered throughout the game. It’s a hard job with lousy returns. Eye-full of spit blobs from disgruntled players. Boos and jeers from rowdy fans all over. No part of the glamour. Not even the paycheck. It’s a job that no sane mind would willingly take.

That was then. This is now. A change of mind was always on the cards.

Today I understand the equations. It's crystal clear. I recognise the most powerful men on the field, I envy these red card-totting devils. The players might have the glamour but referees hold the strings to cut short their fame. Piss our men off and oops there goes your next game. Talk out of turn, roll around a little more, take your own time, stick your elbow out of line. Challenge fate. Bring out the colour red. The whistle blows and out you go.

The biggest names, the richest players, all at the mercy of these card-wielding outsiders.

Give me that kind of power any day. Let me be the outsider in this game.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

A Birthday. A Book



I have a young cousin, an offline version of Wikipedia. The more I meet him, the more certain I am of having accidentally missed a few crucial years of basic education. This super smart kid turned a year older recently. And the onus of buying him a present to match fell on my muddled shoulders.

Now here's a kid who lives for science and logic. For strange mechanical things he calls toys. For gadgets and computer games. None of these are words from my world. What do they mean? Where are they found?

I was stumped. Stumped till a timely bout of panicked inspiration hit me. And in his world, full of 101 questions, Pokemon and Midtown madness, I planted a magical tree.

If you've read the Far Away Tree Stories, you know just what I mean. I read this book as a kid and I still remember every twig in the story. I remember walking around trees, wondering which one was the magical one. Peering up in search of magical lands floating by. And waiting for strange creatures to show up and take me on a tour of their homes, hidden on the branches of the tree outside my room.

That's the beauty of a book. It's so much more then just a book. It's a whole lot of brilliance bound between the covers. It's a window that opens up to the past. To what life was before the arrow keys and the space bar. I suddenly had the urge to prise the old window open. And let the fresh breeze flow in. To let it drag me out of these four-cornered rooms of logic we are caged in. And to jump out and explore again. Those strange strange worlds of childhood. Did we live in those worlds or did those worlds live with us?

Let’s go back to the old times. A world of magic and wonder. Let's dump logic in the background of reality and get carried away in a swirl of make-real.

Instead of furiously clicking at an immobile mouse, your finger chases a crawling string of words that push each other endlessly across yellow doggy-eared pages. And your mind stretches and unwinds as little by the little the story unfolds.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Day One Disaster


The first showers hit Mumbai yesterday and the word of the day was panic. The streets were flooded. Drains were clogged. Trains stopped mid-track. Traffic was crawling. Networks were down. And people were angry. All this just on day one of the four month long monsoon season. Maybe it’s time we outsource the city management to private players. At least then we’ll be able to enjoy a break from the sun without breaking out into a cold sweat every single time.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Right of Way


I really don’t understand the brouhaha around extreme sports. What’s the big deal?

In India, it’s a part of our everyday existence. Every time we experience a blood rush, we just hail a rickshaw and hold on for dear life.

Rickshaws aren’t for the faint of heart. Or the weak of stomach. These three-wheeled monsters rip across the streets with scant regard for life. On the street. Or in the rick. It’s a simple equation. Hold on. Survive. Fall off. Oops.

The rules to the game are easy. A driver who can’t drive. A free for all on the roads. Every outrageous overtaking manoeuvre earns you 50 bonus points. For every run-of-the-mill overtaking move you lose 20. While at the wheel, no rules exist. Survival is victory.

Say a prayer and let the game begin.

That Kind of a Day



On some days you wake up and you just know.

It’s as instinctive as not swallowing your tongue while you sleep. You open your eyes and there it is. That empty uneasiness floating around your first blank stare. And that’s when it hits you.

Today is that kind of a day.

At least if it were PMS, there’d be a reason. And that's what makes this so much worse. Days like this have no right to go wrong and yet they shamelessly do. What do you do when nothing’s really wrong, except that it’s just all wrong? The sun is shining. Shining too brightly. The train is moving. Moving too slowly. People are breathing. Breathing too loudly.

If only I could pull the sheets back over my head. Then I could turn the other way and start afresh.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Trendsetter


Is Pink Panther the original Metrosexual?

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

The Sun and The Sky


May in Mumbai is like being caught between a revolving door. On the one side life moves at its usual a hundred miles an hour pace. And on the other the oppressive heat urges your body to slow down. The result, a drenched out slugfest between what your body wills and your mind dictates.

Everywhere you see the signs of life wanting to slow down. The mornings are overweight with a pronounced lethargy. The air breathes heavily. Birds sing with a miser’s reserve. Even the trees stand still, deferring the burden of movement to a cooler day. Only the city roofs stands up to the offensive glare of the sun. Throwing a challenge to the naked sky.

And like the city roofs stand the people who built them. After all economics does not understand the weather. As you step out into the open the stifling heat rushes to greets you. Wrapping you in a warm claustrophobic hug. Your body tries to fight back. It tries hard. It tries to put out the flames with a self-induced downpour.

But this is a losing battle. You can’t defeat the heat. You can’t will the sun away. All you can do is wait. Wait for the sky to pull out those seductive clouds from its closet and to drape up in that rich velvet darkness. Wait for the sky to twirl around, showing-off it's new tantalising coat. Round and round and round. And with every twirl there escapes from its folds, tiny drops of ice cold water. The first showers that kiss the burning earth.

Monday, May 01, 2006

A Matter of Taste


I was happy. I was unaware. I was moving along in life just fine, when a chance encounter with illness violently spun me off the track. And within a span of 48 seemingly simple hours, my whole life changed.

It all began in that vile hospital room. I was helplessly minding my own business like any other patient, when they suddenly unleashed the Nutritionist on me. No permission, no knocking, she just came stomping into my room and spat the fun out of my life.

As she stared at me, I could almost see the words swirling around her big cruel head, “Oooh this one looks too happy to deserve to be happy. Me wants to unhinge that little untroubled smile! Me wants to throw a spanner in that plate full of joy. Double double, toil and trouble; Fire burn and cauldron bubble!”

And just like that gone were the blissful days of gorging on the unhealthy. Junk forcefully made way for nutrition. And after 24 years of persistently scorning the salad, I suddenly had to face it in my plate. The sheer trauma of the situation earned me two long weeks of bed rest.

I still haven’t recovered. In fact, things have gotten worse. These days a pocketful of pills and an evil diet plan constantly trail me from the shadows. And I am forever plagued with meal time nightmares. Each unnerving episode has the same story to tell. I am sitting for my meal when my peaceful plate is ruthlessly taken over by a huge, leafy green monster. And as I desparetly try to scamper away from it, the monster swells, comes even closer and mercilessly gobbles me up.

Burp.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

In rhyme


Poetry is the art of ranting subtly.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Railway Chronicles - The Coop


Anyone who has been to Mumbai knows about the Mumbai trains. And for those of you not familiar with this phenomenon, here is a quick tutorial - The trains connect the manpower in Mumbai to the machines. In short, Mumbai runs on the rail.

And like everything else in the city, the train service has some classic rules. As and when a particular one bothers me, you’ll get to read about it. For example, today's grouse is compartment allocation.

Broadly speaking, Mumbai trains are divided into basic service second-class compartments and slightly less basic service first-class compartments. Moreover, since Indian men are an overtly chivalrous lot, we further divide the train into the general (read men’s) compartment and the women’s compartment.

The bee in my bonnet right now, is the first class women’s compartment. The powers who are figured that women don’t have to travel too much, at least not as much as the hard working, bread winning men of the city. So why waste an entire first-class compartment on them? They were however kind enough to spare us a chicken coop styled little carriage.
Ooooh gracious sirs, how considerate and large hearted you are!

Every morning and evening, thousands of women crush themselves into these chicken coop compartments and travel on a prayer. Survivors are decorated with crunched toes and elbowed ribs. Casualties are smothered by fat while attempting to snatch whatever little oxygen might be available.

But of course these are just selfish complains. Nobody has the time for little things like this, not when the nation is plagued with so many 'real' problems. So nothing is going to change. We will continue traveling in a body crush. And for at least a hundred years or so, me and I’m sure a thousand others, will continue to endure on a rant.

A luxurious prelude to the day. A fitting tribute to the day gone by.