Friday, August 24, 2007


Have paid for telecast. Must watch match.

Have paid for telecast. Must watch match.

Have paid for telecast. Must watch match.

Have paid for telecast. Must watch match.

Have paid for telecast. Must watch match.

Have paid for telecast. Must watch match.

Have paid for telecast. Must watch match.

Have paid for telecast. Must watch match.

Have paid for telecast. Must watch match.

Have paid for telecast. Must watch match.

update: could someone please run over ajit agarkar? and not just with the bat this time ... i was thinking maybe a tank ... hell even a rickshaw will do ...

Wednesday, August 15, 2007


She stands right in front, facing the teachers. Her white uniform is spotless and crisp. There is no mistaking her position - Headgirl, down to the perfect double knotted ribbon holding her hair. From her vantage point she watches the flag unfurl. A fist-full of rose petals float down, and on cue the national anthem soars out, filling the damp air. She can’t help but look up at the fluttering flag. A surge of pride shoots through her and she says to herself, I will make a difference. I will. Along the sidelines, her mother stands proud. Her baby girl is at the head of the crowd. She looks up at the fluttering flag and whispers to her friend, "we are saving up to send her to the US."

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Monday, August 06, 2007

Wrinkled dreams

There is something incredibly beautiful about crooked, derelict buildings; criss-cross wrinkles running down their length, faded memories staining them in a patchwork of their once magnificent colour. They stand tall, held together only by the stories they’ve helped weave together over the sunburnt years.

If you drown out the self-absorbed din of today, you’ll hear yesterday come alive. Like a grandmother sitting in her favourite rocking chair, a fire by her side and the little ones around her, these old buildings will tell you fantastical stories of a time long gone by; of brutal wars and bright red romances; of wild drunken parties and night long wakes; of the dark bruises behind shut doors; of the warm glow of newly weds melting into one; of the sorrows of losing one of their own and the magic of meeting new faces.

The toothless windows nod in agreement, as do the balconies and street lamps; together they’ve seen fashion come and go and come back again; any clothes line here can dress you up for a big date, better then the best. Arthritis has set in. Some show signs of pneumonia, even tooth decay and kidney failure. But they refuse to give up. Unlike some others, they refuse to retire in the comfort of an old age home. They refuse to get any kind of a body job, proud of the shape they’ve turned into; proud of their cracks and their patches. The loose bricks smile proudly atop the strong, rigid frame.

The once chirpy terrace though has a bag of complaints. It remembers a time when its doors opened to young lovers, soaked in poetry on star-lit nights. Today it is a nest of creepy crawly wires, like thick aged blue-green veins, sticking out from beneath wilting skin. If you move them around, you might still spy a J heart M and an A heart G, dying under the heavy weight. Where bright flowers once stood, today antennas and a satellite dish stand; a sign of the changing times, I guess.

'Yes,' they all agree, wisps of their white hair making puffy clouds in the sky, ‘the times change; the characters change, but the stories, they remain the same. We just sit here on the kerb and watch them replay.’

Saturday, August 04, 2007

A few of my favourite things

For much of my time I am a career cynic. I scoff at most people and things. Some are too stupid, others too snobbish. Things are either entirely pointless or just too frivolous. But even within this rigid framework, I do make a few exceptions. One is for bookmarks. I LOVE these. I can ruin perfect holidays in search for one. Sometimes I think the only reason I want to go on a holiday is to find more bookmarks to add to my collection.

The other is slightly more predictable. Stationery. In a stationery store, I transform into a spectacular bumbling idiot. I just stand there and ogle, like a teenager drooling over some namby-pamby boy band; the rows of pens, pencils and books looking at me, making puppy eyes at me, begging me to take them home. And if I am left unguarded, I can do much damage on the bill.

I never have to buy any of the things I buy. I just have to have them, that’s all. As of now, my table holds a regular post-it pad, an xxs post-it pad, a speech bubble shaped post-it pad and an apple shaped one – not because I need to post reminders to myself, for that I have a really cool post-it software installed on my laptop, but because I saw them, and they looked really nice. Really. I have a pen stand spilling over, sagging under the weight it holds. I bought the same stack of pens twice, because I loved them so much. And of course in case I run out of ink or something in the next two years. I have a pack of crayons and a box of pencil colours, coloured paper-clips, paper holder, a little pink stapler, a bookmark, erasers, sharpeners, paper pins, etc, etc, all tastefully tossed into an open green basket, sitting on my shiny brown desk. I usually can’t take my eyes off it, which probably explains so much about my writing.

Habits like these don’t develop over night. They start young. They have to be mastered and turned into an art form over the years. And almost always, as it is with taking to habits, a parent is responsible. In my case it was both. I learnt early. And I learnt quickly. I remember how much I used to love the days leading to the start of a new year at school. In Zambia the new term begins in January, post the crazy New Year parties. By default the first day of the year was spent in recovery and lethargy. The 2nd and 3rd day of January were spent sprawled on the carpet, ripping out the twelve months of the last year and dressing my new notebooks in them. We didn’t have uniform brown paper, and the freedom to choose covering paper usually put a creative, almost competitive spin on the process. Since the first day at school was invariably spent in critiquing other students, their bags, new hairstyles and books, the end of every year was spent in choosing the most interesting calendars available. The theory being today’s spectacular calendars make next years fabulous book covers. Mine were generally covered with exotic landscapes, castles and other such natural wonders. Not only did ruined castles and romantic waterways attach themselves brilliantly on to my books, they also helped me slip into a day dream with much ease, during class hours.

One concept I really struggled with in school was the ‘rough book.’ I couldn’t digest the idea of having a book to scribble in, to desecrate, to soil with equations and reminder notes. It made me incredibly uncomfortable to see people around me vomiting their untidiness on these precious notebooks. My rough book was probably the neatest one around; with neat equations, essay and story themes all in bullet points – a), b), c) - even my doodles were neat and pretty.

My pencil box was my most treasured school possession. It used to be filled to the brim with smart yellow, well sharpened pencils, all sitting in a row, awaiting further orders. Once a pencil got too short, I quietly discarded it, and replaced it with a smart new one. When we moved on to pens, life got more interesting. Ink pen, pilot pen or ball point pen? Blue pen or black pen? Since it was compulsory to use blue ink in school, by default I preferred the black one. How many pencils with how many pens? The permutations and combinations that my pen case could hold was a process involving much deliberation, self doubt, agonising and sacrifice.

The introduction of the mechanical pencil, or the pen-pencil, as we knew it, ushered in a whole new era. I started out with the cheap plasticy models and gradually worked my way to the sleeker and definitely sexier Faber Castle. Since I was so obviously in love with my stationery, lending it out always led to a nervous break down of sorts. I can’t stand stingy characters, so I always lent out the extra one. But I never forgot. The lent pen hovered around in my brain like a bee, drowning out all of what was going on around me. And when people absconded, it led to mood swings, incessant mutterings and deep sorrow. I could have just asked for it, but I was always worried about being petty. So after a few tragic episodes, I began carrying a pair of unglamorous-lending pens. A little petty, I know – but it saved me so much heartbreak and lending almost became fun.

Stationery was the only reason I passed math. I lived for math-loathing. I didn’t understand it. I couldn’t solve it. It was only created to torment me. But then I met geometry, more importantly I met the geometry set. I passed my tenth boards solely because of this set. It seemed like a fair trade off – I pay attention in geometry class and be allowed to use all the toys in the box.

As I moved on to college, files and paper joined my collection. Though my allowance never supported it, I collected snazzy files and beautiful crisp white sheets of paper – not that whole sale, by the kilo, yellowish paper for me. I was invariably left with no money at the end of it all, but I was happy. I still am.

Friday, August 03, 2007


I have a sneaky suspicion that the layer of fat that I think I am losing* from my waist is actually making its way up to my brain :(

* very very very very slowly

Ever after

If you’re still looking for some Potter closure, head here.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

One afternoon

She was picking out tomatoes from her vegetable patch when the white butterfly flitted past her. It was four in the afternoon and she had just about enough time to pick her veggies and start on the dinner. She tried to ignore the stupid creature that was darting around her sweaty, flushed face. She tried shooing it away. She swatted at it. She even hurled a bad tomato at it. But it wouldn't leave her alone. Is it taunting me? she wondered as she dropped the good tomatoes in her basket. She wiped her hands on her brown skirt and watched the butterfly for a few minutes. Slowly she raised her right hand and in one swift move plucked the butterfly out. She held the insect, pinning its legs together, but not hurting it. She watched the snow white wings flutter violently; trapped and trying to break free. Maybe this is how I look in the bigger scheme of things. Maybe we'll eat out today, she thought, leaving her basket out in the sun for the little white butterfly.