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Monday, December 31, 2007

I have nothing to wear. And judging by the rush in shopping malls today, no one in Hong Kong has anything to wear.

So all of us were out there, searching for something to wear tonight, frenziedly skimming through piles of clothes on sale, holding up hangars in front of mirrors, sighing in queues for fitting rooms, disheveling our hair for the only size available of the only thing we liked and failing to fit through.

Yes life is tough and shopping doubly so. And I still have nothing to wear for the party tonight. But at least I am prepared for the picnic next summer. (Or I will be, if the gym pays off!)

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

I sound like Marge Simpson ... Mmmmm

I am trying to look at the bright side of things as I have a sore throat. The only things that come to mind are:

1. I sound sexy
2. I sleep soundly over cough syrup
3. The aches would have done a ballerina proud
4. Chocolates don't taste like guilt
5. Vipul calls home from work
6. No cooking, only pizza
7. Headache is better than nausea
8. Britney spears is bigger than me now Hahahaha (that brightens everything up)

Friday, October 19, 2007

Birthday Girl graduates to become Birthday Aunty

As is annual custom in my diary, I am busy moping today.

Last night I was out for a Bolloywood Nite at Aqua. Apparently it was my Birthday Party. But as I was painfully correcting everyone, my birthday is not a party. It is a funeral of a perfectly good-sounding year killed from my introduction. Forever.

Yesterday was particularly traumatic as my twenty-somethingness was in its last throes. Possibly, my dancing too was in its last throes, judging from the looks I got. But when you are twenty-nine years down and the thirtieth has begun to tick you get some rights to display uncoolness.

Many people tell me that thirty is not the end of the road. However, an exact 100% of such people are older than colour-TV in India and remember watching Chitrahaar as children, and therefore have no credibility.

So if you are about to wish me a happy birthday, do not expect any smiling "Thank You darling! (muah, muah)", unless of course you are accompanied by a birthday gift/birthday money in which case thanks for contributing to my drowning-sorrows-fund.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

I can see clearly now!

I still remember the night I saw the most beautiful moon ever. It was the beginning of summer vacations and I was in our school's bus-yard, waiting with my friends to set off on a hiking trip to Manali. Leaning against the bumper, I happened to look up and saw the most luminous, milky sphere I'd ever seen.

I am normally not given to sentimental nature conversations, but this time I couldn't help it. "Neha," said I, "doesn't it look just gorgeous tonight?"
"What does?" she asked.
"The moon, over there," I pointed.
"Hmmmmm, yes, the moon is looking great! But why are you pointing there?"
I squinted, and realised that my moon was one in a line of six moons.
I put on my fat spectacles and realised my moon was one in a line of six streetlights.
I removed my binoculars back into my pocket...life's so much prettier without spectacles. Confusing and smudged, sure, but way prettier.

The only downside for us -8.5ers is:
Smiling at people we "recognise" through the haze but who we actually have never met before
Scowling at friends who shout "hello" from the distance who we assume must be roadside Romeos
*********************

But that's all in the past now. I finally mustered enough courage to go through Lasik last month, and am pleased to report it works! I no longer flail my arms when i search for the screaming cellphone alarm in the morning. And I don't bump into the cupboard during midnight loo visits. I can hardly wait to swim with my eyes open under water. And since I no longer need to claw off my lenses before sleeping, I look forward to nodding off on the couch in the middle of cricket matches.

There's a whole new world out here and I can see it!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Lose it!

The good thing about working from home is that it gives me ample time to ponder over the deeper questions of life such as: How do I reduce my bloody weight?

Now I know some of you may say: Anuja, you got it wrong, the question that befuddles us most often is: "What the hell do I order from this menu?" But the majority of you, I know, will either
think that I've read their minds, or
send me spam mail selling fat-burning medicine.

Luckily for those who share my concerns, I have solved this riddle that assails us all in moments of solitude (and also in moments of partying). The answer came to me when flipping through old photo albums from my school days. There I was in all my teen glory: in an over-sized man shirt, with permed hair like Sai Baba's, and hoops in my ears so huge that they showed through my hair and helped you differentiate me (female) from Sai Baba (male).


for reference: Sai Baba


Don't snigger at your conjecture on what I looked like. I mean your conjecture is nearly correct, but understand the context - it was the 1980s and my look was very COOL for that point of time. Remember Madonna in Into the Groove? Or Kylie Minogue in Neighbours? Or Scary Spice in anything?

So what I'm saying is, I was very hot indeed. Yet, surprisingly, appallingly, I had very few admirers. I often wondered why my efforts at decorating myself did not yield even a single valentine's day card, leave alone a boyfriend. But hindsight being the slowpoke it is, it finally came in with the answer after all these years: my friends.

That's right - my so-called friends sabotaged my chances. They, being the pretty girls they were, made me look rather mediocre in contrast. Had I befriended the spectacled nerds I would have surely stood out and bagged loads of bouquets. But skipping next to the girls in mini-skirts, my bell-bottoms stood no chance...

Which brings us to the Big Answer you have all been waiting for. How to become slim and fetching? Just stealthily feed your friends steroids. Or dump them for fatter folks.

Remember the adage? You are known by the company you keep. The fatter your company, the slimmer you're known to be.

Good luck.
[and I'd be happy to refer you to websites selling fattening steroids. Delivery guaranteed!]

Thursday, September 06, 2007

RGV ki $%^$%^$^%#%$ Aag

Contrary to what you may think I'm suggesting from the headline above, Aag is not a stinky dropping of crap.
No. It is an entire Biogas plant. It is a biogas plant with piles so high they could be used to light up the whole of Mumbai.

I know that the cinema lovers among you will still see Aag, irrespective of what I say, because after all it is:
1. RGV
2. Amitabh Bachchan
3. Sholay remake
4. conversation topic
So, I will not bother with a critique and in fact I shall go so far as to recommend it if:
1. you want your girlfriend to get over Devgan
2. you want your boyfriend to get over Sushmita
3. you want your mom to get over Amitabh
4. you want your father to get over insomnia

For the rest, watch at your own peril!

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Some men think women shop seven days a week, Ha! Shows how little they know! I am a woman and I shop only six days a week (excluding weekends). Let me calculate - yesterday I bought a bag, day before I bought another bag, day before that I tried a dress that made me look paunchy - which (for a change) I realized before I'd bought it for myself, so I bought it for my sister instead, and the day before that I do not remember, but hopefully it was as productive as yesterday. Today is the Sabbath Day so I shall rest from shopping (not that I am a Christian, but my husband's terrified looks invoke a pitying Christian in me today and I relent.)

If someone were to ask me why women shop so much more than men, I'd point them to research. I'd point them to the fact that women in the work force are discriminated against. They are generally shunted into lesser paying jobs, and for the same job they are paid lesser than men.

How does earning less make you spend more? Elementary: Take me for example. When I earned well as an investment banker, I saved so much money. For one, I had time to splurge only on the weekend in which I also had to catch up on sleep. And when I did venture out to shop, I had the company of well-heeled colleagues who I could not buy street-side watches called RoleK with. I realized good pay and debauchery just do not go together for women. I needed to join conversations about buying shares, and renting bigger rooms, saving for cars, etc - and as I was uninterested in aiming green paper at bosoms in dance bars, I had no choice but to save.

But now that I am a lowly paid, seldom-working journalist, the possibilities are endless. The piddly amount I earn is pocket money, so I spend it in the spirit of pocket money. I have bought several RoleKs. I have spent a whole month's salary on an original movie poster. I often buy heels on credit card in anticipation of a payment yet to arrive. I live on debt, I assume payments will clear: yes, I live the American dream.


p.s. Of course, women buy more only in quantity, not value. Men and their bluetooths and i-pods and unopened gadget boxes cover women and their Blahniks many times over.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

The last laugh

Vipul thinks every thing's about him. He's so wrong. Every thing's about me.

When I give him a hard time, with my outbursts or my silences, as the case may be, it is not because he's done something wrong, but just because it comes naturally to me. I have the innate ability to ask the wrong questions, and I like to use it.

Do you love me more or cricket?
Then why do you want me to stop standing in front of the TV?
Would you suggest that if I were Angelina Jolie?
Or if I was Bipasha Basu?
Or if I was Madhubala?
Or if I... c'mon do you actually believe the begging pose will work?
Why don't you answer? You don't like talking to me?
If you prefer Tendulkar why didn't you marry HIM?
Why did I marry you?
...It's unstoppable - just as Einstein's genius could not be kept in check by his low grades and a clerk's job, my capability to screw my husband (no pun intended) is beyond redress.

Now I know, you will say that North Korea should not go off exploding N-bombs just because it can, and likewise maybe I should try keep my trap shut for a bit. But then, you don't know how much training I had to give my husband. Eight years ago he saw my midriff in a tight tee-shirt and sniggered: Tyres look good only on vehicles HaHaHaHaHaHaHa. Today he has evolved into someone who lands up at the airport with roses to receive me and notices my shades of tan.

Guns have there uses.
Revenge has a long life.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Fashionably late...

To write my tag within an 8-hour deadline
or
To crown Quicksilver Queen of the Universe
Can't pretend the choice was tough! So here's my very late submission on eight idiosyncrasies:

1. I cannot tell a lie without laughing. So I'm either caught, or I end up improvising at the last moment by pretending I saw something funny at the corner of my eye.

2. I love Splenda, the zero-calorie sweetener. I steal it from Cafes. I buy it in kilos (or as big a box as I can). And if my stock is close to running out, I start replacing my husband's Splenda quota with sugar without telling him so that I don't have to go without it before we have time to buy a refill.

3. I ensure my feet are clean before I sleep to ward off nightmares. (yes it works)

4. When I see joybirds, I always count them and kiss my fingers and mutter 'two for joy' or 'three for letter' etc, as appropriate. If I see 'one for sorrow' I wait for it to fly coz then it becomes 'one for success'. (yes it works too)

5. When I'm on the treadmill, my mind compulsively begins solving mental maths problems on speed-distance-time thanks to the speedometer and clock dials

6. One of my exercise routines is dancing in front of the mirror (no it doesn't work)

7. Before I can sit down to work, I simply must tidy the house from making the bed, to smoothing the sofas, to stacking the day's newspapers casually on the side table, to putting the coasters in the correct alignment, etc etc

8. I strongly believe that Quicksilver is the Queen of the Universe!!!


Tag Rules
1) Each player starts with 8 random facts/habits about themselves.
2) People who are tagged, write a blog post about their own 8 random things, and post these rules.
3) At the end of your post you need to tag 8 people and include their names. Don’t forget to leave them a comment and tell them they’re tagged, and to read your blog.
4) If you fail to do this within eight hours, you will have to acknowledge Anuja as the Queen of the Universe (Nice touch, M!)

I tag:
Amy, long time since we heard your Bollywood ravings!
The One, to get you out of your quotation moods.
N - maybe this will get you to Kickstart your blog again?!
Harsh- ditto!
Vinay , returning the hospitality of lemon juice :)
Gurdeepak, monsoon trekking begun?
Ekta , hope ur enjoying India and home?
Anand, hope ur suitably weeping away from the wife!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Milan

Began the day appropriately with window shopping which soon degenerated into real shopping. Not really Milan's fault... more to do with my teaming up with shopaholic friend from schooldays and the fact that we're wearing too little to enter the Duomo or other Christian sightseeing! I simply can't fathom the fuss in Italy's churches about showing knees and shoulders given how busts and pelvises loom all over the place!

Monday, June 18, 2007

Sunny Tuscany

Florence is where every two steps lead to a roadside Romeo, every four steps end at a museum, and every ten steps deposit you beyond its historic city-centre. There are, as in the rest of Italy, remarkable sculptures. But I'm burnt out! and my ability to pretend artistic perspicacity at its squares and museums is exhausted! So I finally embarked upon what I should have the very first day - its glorious countryside. Tuscany comes more alive in its olives and wine than in its marbles.


Went on a biking trip to the Chianti Valley with Bicycle Tuscany. The schedule was after my own heart - started off with wine tasting, followed by a three-course lunch with wine and coffee, and only after I had tanked up enough energy to cycle uphill and imbibed enough wine to believe it would be easy, did we start pedaling.

The Tuscan countryside is absolutely as romantic and picturesque as the movies show it to be. Cypress tress climb neat, conical, shapely heights; grapes branch out in school assembly rows; hills slope up and down as gently as they can - all of nature seems to be well-manneredly smoothing the course for trespassers like us!


Of course, the going was tough, especially as my cycling days belonged to memories of a decade ago, but the scenery and the calorie-burn was worth every wheeze.

But the biggest bonus for me was meeting interesting strangers in this journey, especially after the quiet days and quieter nights I've spent on this trip till now. Three of us in the group were solo traveling women and we reconvened at a bar abashedly named 'Pop Cafe', where the drinks were drinkable and all food you can eat free!

Florence is beautiful at night. Its Duomo may be ugly, but street musicians - not your guitar strumming variety, but entire orchestras of accordions and big base guitars and pianos - descend to add a surround sound in the moonlight, creating a spellbinding artsy atmosphere that Rome's untouchably old and preserved grandeur cannot give.

This trip is turning out as fantastic as I was hoping it to be!

More snaps here

Thursday, June 14, 2007

God is in the big things

What can you expect from a country that's barely a country - smaller even than Disneyland ?

Its main square is not really a square, it's rather curvy.
Its flagship Church is more of a tomb, with St Peter's murder/martyrdom spot about it.
Its noted museum is no mere museum, it is an artifact that ought to be in a museum itself.
To top it, this Vatican City is a certified antique, and yet looks not a day older than I! What's more, like a kid, it struts about, preening about having its own postal system being all independent from Italy's, and then goes on to cheerfully survive without any immigration and border posts at its walls.

With all the contradictions dotting it, one should seriously doubt the Vatican's ability to do what it sets out to do: See how it started off with the bloody Crusades as a direction towards building a peaceful world, to more recently when its Pope Benedict made remarks to start dialog with the Muslim world and instead ended up angering them with that very speech for friendship.

And yet, and yet, and yet - the Vatican City ends up achieving exactly what it sets out to do - make you go Ohmygod!

The moment you enter the massive columns into St Peter's square, you know you are in a special place whose grandness has no equal. The square is big enough to accommodate 35000 people comfortably seated. And the surrounding statues are tall enough for you to recognize them, even if you are 35000 people away.

I'm not going to bother going into a travelogue here - I am no good with descriptions, and there's no way I can describe what it felt like to see one of my favorite paintings (Fresco actually) - creation of Adam - up on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. Just consider that I still remember the first time I saw God's hand barely touching Adam's in a magazine when I was a kid, thanks to an ad that had pilfered the work to sell an Onida (I think).



So after two decades of spying it in magazines and coasters and reprints and t-shirts, it was like meeting a hot classmate from early-teenage days at school that I had a crush on and could finally lech at satisfactorily.

Now, leaving the Vatican, I doubt any other city's relics or museums will impress me, ever, or at least for a long, long time to come, or at least till the end of this vacation!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Rome Sweet Rome

Everything here is grand. Make that GRAND. On a scale of 1 to 10, the monuments here are are at 40. The antique buildings were built for giants and every pebble on every street reeks of history to prove so.

The only thing unexaggerated is the size of marble penises, which at worst have been castrated by the hands of time, and at best are rather humble in contrast to the muscled asses of the irrepressibly nudist Roman citizens.

Don't know why it is so, but sculptors seemed to believe that Roman men must be represented by the bodies of Greek Gods. Not that I'm complaining. They also seemed to believe that Roman women must be represented by bodies of real women - no abs, big waist, maybe some paunch thrown in. That's right, I'm not complaining at all. If ever you need a place to get your body image issues, walk into Rome's museum and feel liberated.



More snaps here

Friday, June 08, 2007

The real travel bug

I'm surprised the people in the apartment next door haven't beaten us up yet. Vipul has been coughing as often as an old man and as loudly as a Punjabi lad, especially at night, thus effectively killing his sleep, my sleep, and most definitely our neighbors'. That's what happens when NRIs imagine they can take on the heat and dust of India.

Two weeks ago, we'd left Hong Kong imagining birds and bees and the whole nine yards of Bollywood fare - you know, all those movies starring Raj Kapoor and/or sons romancing forbidden love on the hills. There's a river in the background, a song in focus, happiness in the air and absolutely nothing else besides. Unfortunately, my travel agent was definitely not at par with the those directors'. What we experienced instead were bumpy, hot rides on unkempt, mud-spewing roads which embraced us with allergy, then infection, and finally, a reality check. After Gangotri and Kedarnath, we figured pilgrimage and vacation are not synonyms but antonyms. Thus sickeningly enlightened, we cut our losses and fled to be welcomed by Delhi instead.

Of course, the trip had its high-points: there is ample time to enjoy the scenery that survives despite the curtains of dust. And there is ample opportunity to appreciate the psychotropic qualities of painkillers, and what makes them addictive. So thank you God for all the wisdom, but next time, what say we meet at my place instead?

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Imagine

Now I know why they call it the travel 'bug'. It infects you, with alarming speed, and leaves you all feverish with excitement. The it sickens today with worthlessness, where all you can do is wait with bated breath for the time to jet-set away.

And most of all, it leads to hallucinations. The mind conjures up the idea that that consecutive hours of ecstasy, charm and energy fill up a place we have never seen. There is an over-riding instinct that when we reach there, locals will be delightfully helpful and noons will be refreshingly cool, that clouds won't rain on any outing and meals won't induce sleep at all, that maps will be readable and tap-water drinkable, and get this, bathrooms will be spotlessly clean! All this ridiculous dreaming despite the fact that on the last holiday, you had spent one full day constipated, a whole afternoon arguing with the taxi driver and an entire evening sulking over who was responsible for the shoddy schedules.

Of course, the inkling that you are hallucinating does nothing to reduce the madness: in fact, suspicions only increase it. You also start to hallucinate about how internet-search will help you avoid hotels with bugs and areas with beggars.

I know all this because that's the stage I am currently in, all abuzz with the conviction that 5 weeks away from home will be a piece of cake. Normally I miss Vipul even when he goes to office (yes, yes, I am the clingy variety), and now I am planning a budget that has a tight amount for long-distance calls.

Let's see how far positive thinking will take me!

Friday, May 04, 2007

Recycled

When I run out of words for my blog and there are no tags to push me out of the drought, I simply open my diary and recycle thoughts from long ago. I guess today is just perfect for an old poem, written when I began feeling a tad stagnant in my life. It's the reason why my blogs are becoming less frequent, and it is why I am off cavorting to Europe alone next month: I need to taste blood!


I miss my hormones
I miss feeling
the blood in my veins
the buzz in my head
the beat of my heart
the ringing in my ears
I miss ...just feeling

When did the days change?
When exactly did I stop enthusiastically dissecting my life over cups of coffee
or chai
or whatever cheapest vodka I'd managed to buy?

When did that world twist into work
just work, and then some couch and TV?

I must be off
To find something else
To feel something new
To just feel

Friday, April 27, 2007

Three-dom

Been tagged by Quicksilver and it's been tough coz I could have copy-pasted nearly everything she claimed as my own (even the ice cubes munching)! Nevertheless, with a bit of tweaking to avoid copyright battles, here's me unplugged:

3 things that scare me
1) on-screen horror, right from Zee Horror show to The Ring
2) Insects, dead and alive
3) Roadside Romeos in Delhi

3 people who make me laugh
1) Dave Barry
2) "News" Channels
3) Russell Peters

3 things I love
1) Day-dreaming
2) Traveling
3) Writing

3 things I hate
1) Fanatics: especially Hitler, George Bush and Narendra Modi
2) Racism
3) Eve teasing

3 things I don't understand
1) Men
2) Cars
3) Men's love for cars

3 things on my desk
1) A fancy coaster
2) Lots of pencils
3) My elbow, as it supports my chin

3 things I’m doing right now
1) Contemplating having a Diet Lime Coke
2) Dreaming about my next vacation (Europe! anyone there in June?)
3) Typing this entry

3 things I want to do before I die
1) Backpack in Europe (yes, happening in June :))
2) Learn the guitar
3) Have the perfect beach body for at least 7 days in a row, while I'm on a beach holiday

3 things I can do
1) Make amazing breakfasts: outstanding cheese omelets, generously topped pancakes, and spicy Poha
2) Dance bollywood style
3) Take bad haircut decisions

3 things you should listen to
1) 'Silent Night' by Simon and Garfunkel
2) 'Chupke Chupke' by Ghulam Ali
3) 'With or Without You' by U2

3 things you should never listen to
1) George Bush
2) Star News
3) Telemarketing calls

3 things I'd like to learn
1) Kung Fu fighting
2) Guitaring
3) Politeness

3 favorite foods
1) Pancakes with maple syrup, bananas and whipped cream (blueberries on the side)
2) Chocolate sponge cake, topped with Herscheys syrup
2) Rajma - chawal

3 beverages I drink regularly
1) Masala Chai
2) Guava and watermelon Juices
3) Green Tea

3 childhood TV shows / books
1) the sci-fi serial where a alien in a computer (named Alpha from Andromeda Galaxy) helps his Earth friends travel through time (can't remember the name!)
2) Neev / Neenv
3) Yeh jo hai Zindagi

1) Doctor Who - the love of my life
2) ALL hindi comics: Amar Chitra Katha, Mama-bhanja, Nanaji aur Rumjhum, Pinky, Chacha Bhatija, Daddy-ji, Mahabali Shaka, Phauladi Singh, etc etc
3) ALL Enid Blyton books, especially, Faraway Tree and Five Find outers (Fatty and Bets!) series


Note: The serial was Indradhanush. Thanks Bajaj!

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

I think I can safely assume that I am an artist. I love doing stuff that makes no money. I have a sore temper. I am self-righteous. And I can forget important things in a heartbeat.

Amongst my recent accomplishments is the verbal brawl I had with customer service at Air Asia. They insisted I was telling them the wrong PNR number even though I was reciting it verbatim from their email. I read out my credit card number, to which a charge had already been made, and they said they had no record of the transaction. After several days of emails and phone calls as I chased them, ultimately one guy asked me to send me a copy of the papers that he could double check. As we discussed the details, he told me to resend the information - I’d apparently forwarded him my Tiger Airways tix by mistake instead of Air Asia’s.

That’s right, I fought with Air Asia for week over tickets that I’d booked with Tiger. By the time I realised the marvel, I’d given up on Air Asia’s inefficiencies and booked an alternate set of tickets via another airline for my trip.

In short, I have what it takes to be an artist.

Only problem is that what I doodle looks like a ant drowning in ink as it thrashes across the page. On the plus side, it is encouragingly vague, so there is definitely the potential of someone finding meaning in it. With luck, that someone will have money to back his sensitivity, perception and momentary lapse of judgment.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Nightmare

If you, like me, have an unexplainable fascination for horror flicks, I guess you tuned in for the India-Sri Lanka match on the 23rd. It had all the promise, and delivery, of a B-grade movie: scheduled to be seen at night (in my part of the world), pregnant with a morbid outcom (c'mon, we all knew what the result would be!), and hinting at gore even beyond the TV screen (will Chappell stay alive???). Really, I cannot complain.

Yet, what horrifies me more than our booting from the World cup is the way Star News covered it the day after. For hours and hours it went on and on about our "humiliating" defeat and why Sachin should retire and how pathetic was his LBW and how are hopes were dashed blah blah blah. What bull.

First, it wasn't a "humiliating" defeat - Sri Lanka played great and fielded marvelously and it is silly to label a defeat from a superior "humilitaing". Moreover, the first innings (when India bowled) was definitely a good performance, so it is hardly like we sucked through and through, unlike what was suggested by the channel ad nauseum.

Get over it!

In any case, our team was hardly in strapping form when it left, and the only one hyping against hope was the news channel itself. What nonsense it aired in the run up to the match - 'Ravan' will be defeated by 'Rama' propoganda, along with Ramayana serial footage, fanciful promises of regaining the World Cup - honestly, Star News could have hardly designed it better to shoot themselves in the foot. The only thing missing was a prime-time telecast of an astrologer elaborating on the position of the planets and the stars of the cricketers to foretell the outcome of the match. Or probably such a program was aired but I missed seeing it. After all, getting such guests and commentary is actually nothing new to this channel (they've already begun to report on these lines for upcoming Aishwarya-Abhishek nuptial).

All in all, it is appalling to see in real life what has been fodder for some Hollywood movies - to find news channels creating news, not covering it; how they are making up a spectacle themselves, and then reporting on it; creating a straw man (we had hardly any chance of winning!) and then killing it (insulting and humiliating the cricketers). Honestly, I doubt anyone was shocked and hurt enough to hold those tacky funerals of Indian cricket (that were being relayed) if there wasn't an idiotic channel shooting him do so.

All this nearly borders on incitement of violence if you ask me!

But even that is not what I find worse in this whole episode.

We are a democracy. A democracy with a huge geographical spread where word-of-mouth is not adequate for communication. A democracy where literacy is so low that print media cannot be sufficient. So for us to function as democracy, visual media i.e. news channels must work! There is a reason why press is called the fourth estate - it is the fourth pillar of democracy - and if we cannot have a healthy, functioning media, we will end up as democracy only on paper.

Tomorrow, if the government enacted a law to stop the media from being free, if it banned the reporting of fraud and corruption, there would surely be an outcry. We would all rail against censorship and give speeches on how it would harm democracy. Yet, we speak nothing at the self-censorship happening in media houses today - where a thousand things that are occurring go unreported in lieu of a cricket match or the Lakme Indian Fashion Week. What impact on the functioning of our country do you think that has? Any different than if someone clamped a newspaper's mouth shut?

I've heard a thousand times how this is not really censorship - just a business. You know, TRP and all, and that what we get really is what we want to hear. But that is so not true - it is not just an excuse but an outright lie.

Truth is channels are just penny pinching - it is easier and cheaper to cover a Delhi university professor's love affair (yes even that has happened on prime time Star News) than the suicide of a farmer in Telangana.

And of course, it makes more sense for an advertiser to put his ad after a Fashion Week show than the aforementioned suicide of a farmer in Telangana.

Which is why farmer suicides continue unabated while we are having couch-potato discussions on how agriculture really ought to pay electricity bills when we have NO idea of what the majority of Indian agriculture - 70% of India's population - is all about.

It is frightening, how complacent we've become about the quality of news we get. It is tragic, how we ourselves defend the media that is poisoning our democracy. And that is what really horrified me about the India-Sri Lanka match. I hope it shocked you too.

Non Sequitur copyright Wiley Ink


Friday, March 23, 2007

It's our twin!

Here's my screenplay submission for the next Kumbh mela movie (to be released four years from now)

Location: Cricket pitch, World cup final
I: Do people throw stones at your family when your team loses a cricket match?
P: Yes!

I: Do people send you death threats when you score badly?
P: Yes! Yes!

I: Does your coach have a chance to die in the hands of cricket fanatics?
P: He has already done so!

I: Hey Bhagwan! BHAI!
P: Ya Allah! BHAI!

If you ever needed proof for Indian-Paki bhai-bhai behen-behen, look no further. The mad, appalling, criminal behaviour that is displayed at the drop of a wicket on both sides of the partition ties our DNA together like nothing else can.

Makes me wonder how on earth the India and Pakistan teams pit so much energy when they play against each other, as if they were age-old enemies : don't they feel a camaraderie over shared lynchings and death threats? Doesn't empathy swell up inside them on how a defeat will have similar consequences for each? Doesn't Inzamam get consumed in memory flashbacks when he hears about the pelting of stones at Dhoni's house? Seriously, how do they manage to maintain that competitive instinct? But then, no one fights like siblings can!

Tonight, my heart goes out for our Indian team who must be shitting bricks after the Pakistan Debacle, and even more so for coach Chappell who must be ruing the day he decided to take on India given Woolmer's murder.

And honestly, if we still lose to Sri Lanka, it won't be for lack of motivation.

Anyhow, it is no longer so material for us to beat Sri Lanka - it is clear that we are definitely better than Pakistan. Sheesh, losing to Ireland! That's got to rank worse than losing to Bangadesh!

Friday, March 16, 2007

I love Mika!

No, no, not the badtameez, nasal-toned, ugly-looking fellow from our country. I'm talking about the singer of 'Grace Kelly': Love his voice and love his Mmmmmmmmmmmmms.



I try to be like Grace Kelly
Hmmmmmmmmmmmm
But all her looks were too sad
Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm
So I try a little Freddie
Ive gone identity mad!


I guess I'm partly impressed because the group has not resorted to the on-screen writhing orgasms of a woman to sell their song.

I know it is a mark of old-age to say this - but weren't advertisements and music videos so much more creative when we were younger?

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Saw Kabul Express yesterday and despite all predictions to the contrary, quite liked it! Perhaps the enjoyment owed something to my chronic affection for Arshad Warsi, or maybe it helps to be a journalist (that's what the story revolves around). Anyway, I was impressed.

Dusty visuals pervade the movie, rightly giving a deserted feel to the ravaged land that is Afghanistan. I am not sure how true are the facts that the movie suggests - the hatred of the local Afghanis against the Taliban for instance - nevertheless, it was nice to find that the story was free of the tired Pakistan Murdabad cliche.

Like photographs of street children whose giggling faces make you smile and overlook their sooty bodies, the film's characters makes you laugh irrespective of their situation. Not that you are laughing with them, but at them, at times at their guilelessness and at times at their bull-headedness. The tale and the background ought to have evoked a piteous horror (and for anyone following the country's tumult, they will) - But somehow it is a feel good movie. Not sure if that was intended by the scriptwriter :) but I like it that way!

The only flip side of the movie is that no one except my husband and I seem to have liked it :D So please take my recommendation with caution!

Thursday, March 08, 2007

"Think of me like a sister"

Heard the classic romantic put-down line in a classic setting yesterday - Shakespeare's play Twelfth Night!

My lord so please you, these things further thought on,
To think me as well a sister as a wife


Oh yes, the man's influence is till on.

This is the first Shakespeare play I've seen - with all its old English dialogues intact - so I was quite kicked that I understood the story despite my utter ignorance of Twelfth Night, and for that matter, of Shakespeare. Of course, I did not understand most of the dialogues. But modern stories have borrowed so much from the genius that I meandered the plot with ease, and even guessed what the outcome would be. Bollywood Zindabad!

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Sounds like a plan

So many words have lost their identity in today's lingo. 'Gay' has given up all its happiness to become a pain in the ass. 'Babe' has transformed itself, probably all thanks to pedophiles, into someone fetching. 'Bitch' the dog has turned vicious and 'Stud' the horse has acquired attraction while 'cuckoo' the bird has lost its mind.

But the most disconcerting, for us women at least, has been the demise of the meaning of healthy. Once upon a time, it meant glowing skin and white teeth and stamina and all things beautifully normal. Nowadays its usage is limited to the following conversation:
"Do I look fat?"
"Oh No Darling, you are only healthy"
"(sound of bobbitisation) "

Of course, I am not complaining here because I happen to be "healthy". I am no such thing. Sure, like all women in the world, I may have sometimes suspiciously wondered whether the man who vacated the seat for me in the bus did so because he thought that I was pregnant. But those were just unfounded concerns (My husband assures me).

Unfortunately, it is no longer enough to be unfat. Have you seen the influx of the new breed of 6-packs in the music videos? Nelly Furtado, Pussycat Dolls, Fergie, ... I cannot dismiss away these new midriffs as an unattractive illness as I did for the anorexic chics. And I'm turning increasingly distraught: how do I ignore fight this toned old-fashioned-healthy?

Honestly, this world is getting too small to fit Beyonce with abs and Me without. I guess I should join a gym.

Or even better, I should just stop seeing Channel [V].

Sunday, February 18, 2007

I don't know if it's a delhi thing, but we never used to serve guests water in our home. We'd offer cold drinks, juices, lemonade, mango panna, rooh afza, anything - but water. The feeling went that something so flavourless, colourless, and fragrance-free as water made it simply unfit to serve, why the guest could even be offended!

The result is that I and my sister, much to the disconcertedness of our respective husbands, have grown up to become nearly camels. Like the animal, we go without the fluid for long time - sometimes days - but unlike it, we have no ritual to store it in our body in advance. I know, I know - I ought to be having 10 glasses a day, and after years of lectures I have improved a lot by now. Still, I try to get away with the substitutes as much as possible - warm water, honey/lemon water, flavoured tea water, salted water, anything - but plain water.

Am now wondering if living in a high humidity place can excuse me from drinking it. Can't I just inhale it and get it over with?

Monday, January 29, 2007

Salaam-e-formula

Salaam-e-ishq boldly goes very almost all of Bollywood has gone before: too many songs, too little logic, melodramatic dialogue and a pretense at originality.

The movie weaves 6 tales, all loosely connected to each other in the manner of Love Actually, where each story centers around the theme of love and each has a problem that needs resolution. Now let's sit back and take wild guesses at what these problems would be: married man has affair - of course yes! woman has accident and gets amnesia - Bingo! Yuppie thinks marriage is a prison - Right on! Intercaste marriage? - er no, but we are close coz there's an inter-race marriage issue now! Well, you get my drift...

Director Nikhil Advani clearly has had enough of the new generation of Hindi movies that have come out recently. So he's gone all out in using the old formula of success: take a star cast (a whopping 11 big names), add naach gaana (6 useless tunes and only 1 good cover number from Shankar Ehsaan Loy), and don't bother with the details despite ample time to go beyond superficiality - the movie is more than 3.5 hours long! And finally, give a happy ending - in this case, 5 happy endings and also a "happy ending" of the massage parlor variety if you get my drift.

The tragedy is that Advani has failed to learn from his muse Love Actually what good editing is all about. Honestly, he could have trashed all those useless songs, removed quite a few of the melodramatic scenes that serve no purpose in the story ('papa, please I beg you, show your hatred towards my wife!', etc) and left the movie a few notches higher and me much happier in the bargain.

On the bright side, the cast has acted well, and is quite good looking too.* John Abraham provides many topless and barely covered torso scenes, but for some unfathomable reason he indulges in a lot of baywatch-style running. Salman is looking better and slimmer and less bald. But I wish he'd lost the accent along with the puffiness. Priyanka is as sexy and stylish as ever as an item-girl.

More importantly, There are certainly quite a few laughable moments. Akshaye Khanna and Govinda create some good scenes. Sohail Khan has a role bordering on gross and manages it with aplomb in the few minutes he gets on screen. Only John Abraham keeps on weeping along with Vidya Balan and drinks a lot of glycerine in the bargain. Yes I said 'drinks' glycerine, coz he keeps on kissing the woman's tears in a manner that the director must have found romantic, but personally I find rather yucky.

Verdict: wait for DVD. Movie is timpeass if you keep the remote control's forward button in hand. Certainly better than chhup chhup ke, golmaal, 36 Chinatown and other monstrosities that I've subjected myself to recently.

*cast: John Abraham/Vidya Balan, Sohail Khan/Isha Koppikar, Anil Kapoor/Juhi Chawla, Govinda/ Shannon, Akshaye Khanna/Ayesha Takia, Salman Khan/Priyanka Chopra


Wednesday, January 24, 2007

I'm really pissed.
A good book can do that you.
It tricks you into believing strange lands and stranger people, and just when you start getting comfortable with, and even fond of, the characters... well, then in come the villains and ensnare the hero away. Not only do they torture him, but they also screw up all the fancy plans and strategies he'd made and I'd spent so many hours reading. Why couldn't the asses just take the money, or kill each other, or die of spontaneous combustion or bad luck or whatever. But no, coz apparently there's a law similar to gravity that operates in novels to keep the hero downtrodden right till the last page.

So it is that I'm gnashing my teeth while my dashing man has been caught in the wily snares of lots and lots of women. I hope the beating he's getting from them will make him stop trusting them FINALLY, coz frankly, I can't bear the pain they give him at every corner. Last night I could barely sleep wondering who on Earth will rescue him.

The only comfort is that he is the hero of the novel after all, so I can reasonably hope that he will be alive and well in the end (and cornered by the right women too).

The bad news is that what I'm reading is the 6th book in a series of 13 novels of which only 12 have been written. So just in case the author Robert Jordan fails to write the final installment of The Wheel Of Time series, there is a good chance that I'll be stuck waiting for a rescue mission.

Now if I were to write a book, it would be different.
The hero would be a mish-mash of South Indian actors - Rajnikanth, Vijaykanth, etc. Therefore he would be capable of doing anything, by which I mean ANYTHING. (giving electric shocks to electric shocks, biting bullets fired at him, surviving 10-storey falls, etc etc) So no way that even an army of a thousand Indian soldiers, or even two Australian cricket teams, could bind and take him away.

And to bolster my readers confidence further, my villains would be a cross between Kevin Spacey in The Superman Returns and Dr Evil in Austin Powers - you know, sufficiently senile to be their own enemies, and so obviously evil that the hero has no chance of confusing them with the good guys.

And even then, to ensure that no readers of mine get nervous palpitations regarding my hero's future, I will kill them on the first page.

Horrible goons, namely Mister Sinister and Blood-thirsty-Vampireman are dead, my story would begin. For the rest I can harp on about the delicious food he is eating and the enthralling parties he's going to. I know it sounds like a Page 3 story, but you know what, those things make money. Besides, wouldn't it be a nice change for your wife/husband to not find you clutching a book at 12 pm at night, desperately trying to read fast to the point where the hero finally manages to aim at the right head in a bullet fight?

Monday, January 22, 2007

Saving women from themselves

Anti-abortionists in US have found a new reason for their crusade, according to my morning newspaper. Women suffer psychological problems after abortions, they say, and should therefore be denied the option.

I wish they would shut up. It's probably true, or maybe it isn't. But either way, they cannot usurp authority over women whose decision it is to make. Pregnant women aren't retards. And they aren't thrill-seekers who set themselves up into pregnancy for the fun of morning sickness or the adventure of having an abortion. They're in a situation where they've realised they cannot support a child - and unless the embryo is conscious to pain (which it isn't) - they should have a right to decide.

I also wish the lobby would shut up with all the talk of the "baby" they wish to save. It is not a baby, but an embryo without consciousness most of the time. "Baby" is more apt a description of the thousands who died in pre-war Iraq because of medicine sanctions, and of thousands who are dying in post-war Iraq, thanks to a president whose policies this same lobby supported. And if you think I'm digressing and should leave out the war in my discussion, then let me just say that the anti-abortionists cannot possibly feel more pain at the loss of the "unborn child" than the woman in question herself. She would have given weightage to the factor, most of the time. Moreover, at late stages of pregnancy (when you may debate on the issue of consciousness) abortion is medically risky for the mother too so it would very rarely happen.

Anyhow, coming back to the new argument the lobby has uncovered: If cigarettes are legal despite being documented lethal, and alcohol is available despite the ills an overdose can cause, why should abortions be banned for the damage they may have? What makes the right to smoke superior to the right to terminate a pregnancy? Especially as the abortion stops an unwanted child - with a high chance of bad childhood which thereafter causes a high chance of criminal adulthood - from coming into the world?

Monday, January 08, 2007

Promises, promises....

New year time is resolutions time, and accordingly I have drawn up a list for my husband. He should thank me for it, and probably won't. But that won't stop me from doing what's right which is to let him know what's right for him.

1. Get a six-pack.
No, not the beer but the abs.

2. Develop lesser interest in cricket.
At least, pretend to have lesser interest in cricket when I'm strutting in fancy clothes.

3. Lie, and lie well.
Try to realise that when I ask you to 'be honest', by no means am I actually asking you to be honest. Obviously. All I'm saying is that my own personal honesty is coming in the way of me considering myself Audrey Hepburn, and NOW is the time for you to unleash an Oscar-winning performance that convinces me that I'm Audrey Hepburn incarnate.

4. Stop dating the computer.
I know how much money you spend to accessorise it, how much time you spend to understand it, how you don't realise it's past midnight when you're in a program with it, how you want to turn it on the first thing in the morn, even at 7 am, and if this affair carries on any further you may find this is the only affair you are left with.

5. Give up attempts at aping Dharmendra. In fact, give up what you consider your sense of humor.

6. Start reading my blog.

Rest is censored.