Wednesday, December 31

Audit ' 08

I celebrated the New Year with very close friends in my living room away from the crowding outside discs and pubs. Probably the first New Year eve, where I chose to be at home over dancing on soggy dance floors with near strangers.

I am finding it hard to sum 2008.

A constant nagging feeling to every moment last year was the continued absence of my father from my life. Sometimes, some people wield so much influence in our lives that its difficult to gauge the real depth of that dependence. Well, I missed him on several occasions, when I explored NY and could not be home for his death anniversary, when Barrack Obama got elected as a president, when Raj MNS Thackaray invented an insipid anti Bihari agitation, when Bombay lay bare with its vulnerability victim to a dangerous international phenomemnon.Thats how our relationship stood. Conversations on state of the nation, he found it difficult to play father, to steer conversations towards my well being and way forward. And thus he made conversation in his area of comfort, the fatherly concern lurked from the corner of his mouth. I missed his refuge. His belief in me. And above all his choked affection.

Otherwise, 2008 was homecoming on every other account.

Tired of endless nights of drinking and getting up groggy and hung-over, I finally gave up drinking. Yes, alcohol is now restricted to new year eve or my birthday or some such time. Same went for smoking. It eased in my battle of bulge. I now weigh 10 kgs less than the last 2 years but if I hope to walk the proverbial ramp, I still would have another odd 20-30 kgs to go. I have taken up dancing to fill up my otherwise languid Sunday, it is better than dragging myself on the treadmill.

However, low drinking, no smoking and curtailing endless binging has severely limited my social life.

And I have rediscovered an old passion. Cooking

My mom always discouraged my cooking because she didn’t want me to waste my life in the kitchen. She wanted me to realize my potential and she thought the cakes and bakes would come in the way of that. It was a way of bringing up children. Because when parents want you to explore your potential in those days it largely meant earning potential (e-potential) in conventional careers. However no measure of success would rate a Nigella Feast, Anjum Anand or a Rashmi Uday Singh any less successful than Kiran Bedi, Barkha Dutt or someone else in Public Life.

And like JK Rowling says “there’s an expiry date to blame your parents for everything.” I achieved the expiry date on the “blame the parents” cough syrup in 2008. It resolved a lot of things for me in the process.

I was half ashamed to admit that I love cooking. It always conjured an image of a housewife with a tucked sari in her well rounded midriff, smelling of garlic and turmeric.
Even today, it took 8 years of realizing my e – potential for me to admit that I think about cinnamon quite a bit. And Olive does to wine what Obama does to USA. And that I would love to take time off from my hectic career and maybe travel a bit and explore cuisines around the world. Or closer home, I have a Chula (coal wood et all) and I make my kebabs on that. And that making a Tandoori chicken on Kihim Beach was my moment in the sun.

In my professional life, market rules were thrown off like Confetti. And those of us who were pampered by a 21000 didn’t know how to cope up with a new reality. At work, this has led to washed enthusiasm and in a preserve way, set in some age old conservative behavior. While, I have my fingers crossed, not only for my savings that’s doing its own waltz with market sentiments for a partner but also for all those homes that are run
on commissions. And underneath the frustration, the anger, the layer of unreasonable demand lays a palpable fear. And I pack my bags for a nation wide Employee Communication in this backdrop.

Year before last, during an employee communication at Nasik, I had to break into Hindi to answer a question on compensation on why the said organization paid less than the market?

I could defend the firm, thanks to India’s growth story and a booming Industry then. Another hand shot up in the room and before I groaned, the man stood up and asked his colleague to take a long term view. He spoke in chaste Hindi – “ aap yeh dekhiye kee aaj apko is naukree ke wajah se market mein kya izzat miltee hain.” ? “ apne kahan se shooro kiya that or aap kahan aa gaye hain”

There was hope in the air. It was a room of people who had started as frontline sales and grown in their careers in their hometowns, in the very neighborhood where they grew.

They were riding the “India Shining wave.”

I wonder if they will still feel that way.

And to keep the collective hope of the underdogs and the dark horses alive, Barrack Hussein Obama, realized the most unabashed dream of them all. Americans have run out of self adulatory phrases but back home, we have to ask ourselves some hard questions.
Have we shed our racist skin or cloaked it under our secular democratic stance? Shabana Azmi still can’t buy a flat in Lokhandwala. Madhur Bhandarkar, our national award winning director, depicts depravity, when his drunken protagonist wakes up to a black back on morning –after. (Groan!) And we blast Danny Boyle, for exposing Bombay’s underbelly.

Lets get rid of the underbelly or at least watch Pather Panchali, Ardh Satya or City of God to know what an underbelly is to be able to register an informed protest!!!

Otherwise, 2008 was homecoming on every other account.

Saturday, November 29

We, the ordinary people

We are still counting the bodies. Sunday morning newspaper doled out fresh stories of horror & pain. Also rage. But most importantly, a helplessness.

Helplessness at our collective vulnerability of being ordinary.

Yes, we are ordinary people. People who cant kill, who cant kill even to save their lives. We take everyone sitting in a restaurant at face value. When we step over some one's toes in a busy mall, we say "sorry" and expect to be forgiven. We definitely cant imagine,an AK -47 spraying hatred at our collective vulnerability.

We are people who condemn all heinous acts alike. From Babri To Godhra. From Bombay Bomb blast to Akshar Dham. From Kashmir To Gujarat.We are people who visit Pushkar and Ajmersharif in the same tour. We are too ordinary, we can love moderately and we cant hate fiercely.

Wednesday night the most schizophrenic nightmare of the ordinary people turned to be an unfortunate truth.

I still cant imagine how can one man kill another man? What socialisation process, what Induction Program prepares you to be so indifferent, so callous ? What communication is fed to 21 like a cough syrup to be so remorseless ?

And while terrorist are not ordinary people like us, we expect our politicians to be.

First thing first, I believe in Manmohan Singh, he is a statesman who represents "us". The urban, educated, middle, class. The ordinary people. His resume inspires me to do more with myself.I also believe in Sonia Gandhi, who has shown upright behavior, put her party before herself, rewarded loyalty , rewarded performance over gimmicks. Sometimes, I feel she is a woman who is driven by her own need of excellence. Destiny chose her and she is willing to make a difference.

But that belief is now shaken.

We didn't see shame in their eyes, we didn't see remorse. above all we don't see resolve in our own ordinary Mr. Singh to combat terrorism as a project. Raise an international stink.Just like US did after 9/11. He needs to leverage India's new found economic muscle to demand and international stance on states that sponsor terrorism.

Shivraj Patil's resignation ain't enough. Its a gimmick that an average man an understand. Next would be Vilas Rao Deshmukh & R R Patil.How about taking accountability and resigning ? Mr. Prime Minister - Does the buck not stop at you ?

Thank fully, I never believed in L K Advani. He is not Atal Bihari Vajpayee after all. So the series of Ads given in Times of India to vote for a terror free government by voting in BJP just confirms what LK Advani stood for. We cannot and should not forget that LK Advani is the architect of the Rath Yatra that changed the fault lines of Religion in this country. He represents a brand of Hinduvata , no self respecting Hindu can identify with. He represents the party who tried to taint the man who died fighting against terror silencing his detractors.

His family and his loved ones owe an apology from that party not Rs 1 crore Mr. Modi. Stop assuming everyone has the same drivers in life.

So Vasudha Raje's Scindia's series of ad on TV where she appeals with pouting lips to vote the government out is an able executioner following her shameless leader.

Oh! And as a personal policy I do not write about Raj MNS Thakarey, who was nowhere to be seen when beloved Bombay was burning. He is content with beating up taxi drivers and IBLUs ( Immigrant Biharis like us.)

There is all party meet today, opposition might clamor for a Federal Agency, From a solution perspective, it may be a move in the right direction. But we need far more rigour in combating terrorism. The ordinary people leading ordinary lives o dealt can do without a page of "The Bourne Identity" in their lives.

Last but not the least - Cheers to the Mumbai police that did everything in its control till NSG arrived. The Heroes of Anti Terrorist Squad who laid their lives so that we could sleep peacefully. The simple black cat commandos who dealt with the situation matter of factly, whose embarrassed smiles & camera shyness said it all. They are the real heroes, used to bullets not flashbulbs. And the staff of Taj who in their entire Induction were never taught how to deal with this but stuck to their policy of "customer first" and finally all those people who lost their lives trapped in helplessness , soaked in our vulnerability. Also those who lived to recount the horror.

Also its time for us ordinary citizens to wake up to our own vulnerabilities and demand. Lets not be resilient. Lets not take refuge in the spirit of Mumbai. Lets not assuage our survival guilt's in lighting candles and peace marches. Lets demand action from State. Lets raise a stink.

Friday, November 21

After ages

I achieved several milestones

Lost 10 kgs twice over.

Put back 10 kgs twice over.

Obsessed with work.

Ate Sushi on 12th Nov '08.

More later

Monday, September 29

poem

I again dreamt of my dead father,
only this time,it was a happy dream.
or so i thought, because he was
involved in worldly things.

the window had come off its hinges
father stood there, fixing it,
with a hammer and handful of nails.
he hammered each nail
ruthlessly, all this while telling me
how important it was to keep us safe

he told me , the sesame don
would not leave
the nice piece of
wood with us
i stood there, my mosquito bitten leg
now cold,
and threatened the sesame don
in my imagination

father fixed the window,
got off the chair,
and retreated into oblivion
i woke up and stared
at my glass paned window
i laughed at my cheek,
to threaten a seasame don
is no mean feat,
for a kid.

Sunday, September 28

Update

Wall Street fell apart like a house of cards. I was out of the firm a day before it filed for bankruptcy.

My escape was eerily narrow. In any case I am back to my hiring and firing job, the next few months are going to be real hectic but I am not complaining.

What I love about an Indian firm is being able to connect to the big picture , the lunancy it brings with itself and the chaos of making it happen. what I loved about the American firm was its order, balance , matured processes, international exposure etc etc.

more later.

Sunday, August 31

SOS : Bihar Floods

Kosi river changed its course and brought is mass scale destruction in Bihar. People have been displaced, rendered homeless, their only source of livelihood engulfed by the very river that irrigated their fields. It’s a blow to the economy of the state.

Give relief a chance.

Like minded people have started relief operations. You can contribute too. Here's you chance to make a real difference to the lives of those who don’t seem to have a second chance.

Please go to the blog www.biharfloodrelief2008.blogspot.com and see if any of you can get involved in any way.

Monday, July 21

The onslaught of globalisation

We will survive the nation.
The onslaught of globalisation.

You remember the night ?
When we began this.
With our hopes intact,
The night we made a pact,
To leave behind
All such things
That count now.
That night,
We burnt with ambition.
To be part of globalisation.

We will survive the nation.
The onslaught of globalisation.

I heard you did all right,
You got everything,
You dreamt of ,
The night we lost our soul.
I know you married her,
I know it became a number.
At least you loved deep.
You will be fine, when its done.
No love never killed anyone!

We will survive the nation.
The onslaught of globalisation.

I wanted to let you know,
I did fine too.
I lived on the edge,
I worked hard, sold wares.
I didn’t get love either,
A few nights here & there.
Nowadays, I don’t feel,
Its all part of the deal.

We will survive the nation.
The onslaught of globalisation.

I wrote this for you.
I wanted to let you know,
I am breaking the pact.
I don’t want to choke,
I know you wont come,
But I want to go.
Back to the night,
To reclaim my soul.

We will survive the nation.
The onslaught of globalisation.

Thursday, June 26

The God of Small Things

Everyone has a soul song. I have a soul book. I have never connected with any piece of literature,music or movie the way I have connected with "The God of Small Things".

I love the book.

The first time I read this book was in 1998, I think. I could not get prints of the book at Patna, so I picked up a friend's copy and photocopied it shamelessly.

Arundhati Roy had happened to the literary scene. Everyone had sung their paeans. Jug Suraiya ( Juguleir vein, TOI) had dedicated a Sunday column to her, so awestruck was he by this literary wonder. Bunny his wife met Arundhati Roy and said - Its a pleasure to shake the hand that wrote " The god of small things." India today had devoted another two pages to her excerpts beside a review. I was very curious.

I am glad I did what I did.I read the book first time on a photocopied print under a yellow bulb in the wee hours of night.

Arundhati's in-the-face story, her complete disregard for social mores and above all the child eye through which the story was told gnawed at my heart. There was a bittersweet after taste that lasted for many days.

But above all, I loved the English, the way she rotated the words, deadly red was redly dead. Later became Lay-ter. Sharp dialogues found its way : 'History's henchmen came to retrieve its detractors." and "It was the culmination of What will Sophie Mol think week?"


I was in TISS, when Arundhati Roy was invited to campus for her stand on the Narmada issue. Let me go on record to say that's the only social work seminar I attended at the campus. My reasons were far more personal. I wanted to see the person who wrote GOST. Probably get a fleeting glimpse of the heart that could feel so passionately and the mind that could pour it out. Without edits.


She was short, frail, very fragile, her description of protagonist in the book is actually her own description and no wonder it is so heartbreaking. What better way to write about love and loss than to tour your own innards.


I went back to the library and pulled out the book again and read it cover to cover this time.

And I wept. My favorite remains this passage

" In that brief moment, Velutha looked up and saw things, he hadn't seen before. Things that had been out of bounds so far, obscured by history's blinkers.

Simple things.

For instance, he saw that Rahel's mother was a woman.

That she had deep dimples when she smiled and that stayed on long after her smile left her eyes.He saw that her brown arms were round and firm and perfect. That her shoulders shown, but her eyes were somewhere else.He saw that when he gave her gifts they no longer needed to be offered flat on the palms of his hand so that she wouldn't have to touch him. His boats and boxes. His little windmills. He saw that he was not necessarily the only giver of gifts. That she had gifts to give him too.


Chapter : Welcome home, our Sophie Mol ( pg 176-177)

The second time, I was stunned by the chill that spawned after I read the book. The brutality of Love Laws , which lay who should be loved and how and how much.

The loss that permeated you long after you left the book was like damp walls after rains. I psychoanalysed Rahel in my psychoanalysis assignment and got straight A with no background in the subject, so high was my involvement with the book.

Since then , I have read this book four times over. There were nights when I would just open a page and read it. Sometimes I cried for Sophie Mol, sometimes I traveled with Estha Mon in Chennai mail towards a silent future. Sometimes, I sat at the banks of river Meenanchal and saw them , the untouchable and the touchable, making love ( How could she stand the smell? observes Baby Kochammma) breaking the laws of love, offending history. And sometimes, I stomped the paravan with my history boots and legitimate handcuffs.

GOST is more than a book to me, its an expression of loss and sadness that comes with it.

Lunatic sadness.

Its a pity Ms. Roy hasn't written another book. And she contends herself with caustic data rich, opinion laden essays. But then maybe its a blessing in disguise.

There can be only one god. " The god of small things".

Wednesday, June 25

Oh! Please

Is somebody aware of this large scale mindless production ?







Mysterious death makes so much sense for media, the frenzy to dish out"lack of information" to an extremely perverted audience, which watches this and and makes depravity in media a vicious circle.

I want to remember the 14 year old girl who died. Her life unlived.

Here's to the memory of Arushi Talwar

A 14 year old girl had died
Pretty and bright
Nice smile, kohl eyed

Fourteen is a
lovely age to be,
Its when you tuck your skirt
Many inches above the knee,
And grow like vine,
Around a strong tree

That age, neither child,
Nor adult, is the best.
You giggle at the swell
Of your own chest.
And sigh and long,
For love forlorn.

It is that age when you ask,
Yourself too many things,
And believe in human beings.
It’s when you see dreams
And resolve to make them true,
You want to change the world
Without half a clue

You like rock music
And all such noise
You dance awkward
You lack poise.
You feel pretty
Wear real junk
You tread the other road
A stolen swig, a long puff
And try some other stuff

Sometimes, only sometimes
(If you have real talent for trouble)
My friend, you blow
On most occasions, you just grow

Out of a fourteen year old skein
Into an adult mould
And your story stays
To be told and re- told

But this girl
This fourteen year old
Was murdered in cold blood
She died, no shriek, no thud
She would not date, love
She would not be nor grow
Who she would have been
You & I would never know.

Thursday, June 12

Disengagement

You never call,
When I was your
age, I wrote
yellow postcards,
to my mom
every weekend.
She kept
them safe
in a
rickety brown
Cupboard
and I took them
All
Before she died

(She wondered if
They still make any
postcards anymore
She made
a mental note
to Google it.)


I like what you wear
Fashion, you know is
a strange animal
It prowls
At fixed intervals
This cut was a rage
In my time too

( She wondered
What she meant by time
How would one know
There time was over
And done with
Their part played
They need to bow
And leave the stage)


You know, one
should pray
Once a day
Nothing much
Just stand
As such
And light a lamp
That’s all
It will give peace
(and slowly)
Rest is your call

( She thought of
The pink poster
Stuck on a wall
It screeched
" Bad marriage
Erection problems
Low sex drive
No issues
All kinds of treatment
Are done
Don’t lose heart
Just visit us")


Every time
I step out
I am reminded
Of him
Shrouded
In saffron
I cant take
it off my mind
It’s a very bad time
We are living in.

(The smell
Of death fills
Her nostrils
It’s a strange smell
Of medicine and oil
camphor and incense
It seeps everywhere
And the breeze from
The balcony
Does not help)


And then
finally
Fatigued by her
stony silence
She broached what
hung in air
for a long time
We missed you
when that day
came back to haunt us
I wish you were
There
When we fed the
Poor
together

(She knew
It was the final provocation
To a conversation
The last of all
The dreaded topics
Touched
The sanctorum
Desecrated )


She deliberated
An argument
Would mean
Bad headache
Hoarse throat
And no sleep

So she turned
And slept like
A log
Dreamt of beggars
Eating food
And saw the town
Reeling under floods
And woke up with
A bad start to
A new day

Tuesday, June 10

Bangalore

It had started raining. Bombay looked washed from my balcony. The air was misty, and the excuse of a tree outside my balcony looked green and lush.

I was reminded of Bangalore. I cant live in Bangalore for probably the same reasons as any where else in the country except Bombay. And though Raj Thackarey thinks he can change that, he can't, because it is difficult to kill the core of a city.

The core of Bombay is absorption. Osmosis. That’s what Bombay stands for. Try something else Raj.

I remember Bangalore in many strange ways. It has nothing to do with the city, it was about me.

Bangalore will always be the city of beginnings for me.

Too many beginnings.

Of Job life. Of living alone. Of too many questions and too few answers.

I was tugging at my umbilical cord in a strangely traditional town. A town fueled by IT growth, a town in a curious cusp. Bangalore was tugging at its own umbilical cord.

I started my life in a pigeon hole paying guest accommodation in Bangalore. Like the rest of my generation. At 7 am the sharp ring of the bell woke us up for idlis & garlic chutney doled on plastic plates.PGs in Bangalore were amazing in their space management antics or just plain antics. Two horror stories have made it to this blog.

Back from work one day, we discovered the rooms had been rented out in the afternoon to a college to conduct GDs for an entrance exams. My space was invaded, the loos were stinking of too many strangers.

After shouting my gut out at the PG lady stung by her unfairness , I just sobbed sitting on my bed. Adulthood had begun.

Nothing like what was to follow in the days to come

We all hate the claustrophobia that sets in with sharing toilet seats but consider this.In Bangalore city in the year 2001, a woman who paid for her paying guest accommodation was denied entrance because she failed to make the 9 p.m. cut.

I stormed out next morning. I rented my own place. That was the first time I fought against something I didn’t believe in. These days I do it out of sheer habit.

Life was competitive, individuality stifled and the vast IT deluge was producing too many clones. I wanted it out.

I was changing. Bangalore was the place where I first hung up on my mom on something I found unreasonable. In that sleepy little town I flirted with religion and jettisoned it for a practical existence. I tried finding myself. At times I fell. At times I made it.

Most importantly I understood loss. Real loss.

I lost something inexplicable in my hurry to grow up. I bartered it for a non existent adulthood. It was a hopeless exchange.

And one day walking on Marine Drives in the rains on an extended holiday, I decided that Bangalore & I were at loggerheads on too many things. I could not take the chutney mornings and the rasam evenings.

And I left.

Monday, June 9

On death

You were dying in an ICU
In a 5 ft wide bed
With another old man
Dying beside you
He came before you
Was much older also
But you overtook him
True to your habit
I remember the days
When you would wake up first
And read the paper first
So you over took
This slow rickety bullock
Of a man
Who was 90 years of age
He was waiting to die
His relatives tired of his speed
Left his bedside
To rest enough
To come back
When he got his act together
And died
But you had no such patience
You died
Without much thought
And little restraint
Like a newspaper
That dies every sunset
Lies cold and crumpled
And completely read
That evening
It carried the news of a man
Who died
Survived by a proper widow
Two deviant daughters
And a dutiful son

Tuesday, June 3

Monday, June 2

one more beginning

I have started a new food blog

Do check out


www.aromainthewok.blogspot.com

Friday, May 30

I have fallen in love. And this is the guy in question.





I believe he knows he is this cute.


They are friends. She writes well, has done theatre, works hard at work and is basking in motherhood.

I have known her for a year now and she looks very beautiful and peaceful Thanks to this addition in her life.









Ashok, her husband cooks very well. He inspired me to cook continental food. It is to this inspiration that I owe my recent collection of esoteric spices and suaces. I hope he is able to jettison his "here & now" and open the restuarant that he wants to.Because he really has it in him. I understand taste. And I know Ashok is damn good. Its a pity I didnt click snaps of the spread that day.

I hope she is able to support his decision whole heartedly. There's no reason why she won't because she has it in her to make thing work.

and I do hope that when he grows up he looks at his parents with loads and loads of respect at the courageous choices his parents made.




only in times such as these, I yearn to be a mom someday.

Here's wishing all the best to casper and his supercool mum and super chef dad.

Tuesday, April 8

dont fight the red water bottles

Strange name for the post. But it better be told.

You are fighting the red water bottle. Small, cute plastic bottle in the shape of a grape, with a green cap.

I cant help it, its your deal, you wanted it, I didn’t pretend that you will fight Al Pacino, though in some perverse way I would want that too.

Well, my mind is full of them. Not the Al pacino but the red water bottles with green caps and hoards of things like that.

Ok, let me start where it all starts.

I was walking out of the washroom (LADIES, twice in my life, lost in my thoughts, I have done otherwise, and no it is not Freudian or some penis envy shit if you reach out for the wrong door, it is as natural and as -not - Freudian as it is reaching for the right one)

So I was heading out of the right door towards my desk, when I saw her.

She was short, neat, and dapper as she ought to be. She wore a black striped shirt tucked at the waist in her grey trouser. She had her hair brushed neatly and tied back in those clips that were called butterfly clips once and had changed the way women tied their hair.

I had this vague imagery in my mind, I saw her in white shirt and navy blue school uniform trying to jump over boundary wall to pluck flowers. Looking at her in a striped shirt tucked in grey trousers, you would never be able to visualize her like that. And then I saw this other little girl with her, trying to jump over with her. And that was me.

It all flooded back. Her red water bottle, like cherries with the green cap, her luscious hair which fell on her face on errands like plucking flowers and such details. What’s worse I remembered her name too.

So I ask her, “Hi are you so & so?

She “(surprise) “Yes”

And I ask her “Are you from so and so school at so & so place?

She (now very surprised) “Yes”

Her eyes took me in, the way they did always. She would first let her twinkling gaze spread fixes on you, then a pair of questioning eyes spread on your face like butter and absorb you. From end to end.

And now came the toughest part.

I groped endlessly… now how do you explain to someone - I know this is kind of weird, but that’s what it is. I don’t know what you did with your life ? I don’t know who you became. I didn’t care then, I probably don’t care now. And I know it doesn’t hurt you. Because we weren’t friends but well we did junior KG together and for some inexplicable reason I have your name etched in memory also how you looked not to mention the red cherry shaped plastic water bottle with the green cap.

By the way, what did you do with it? Have you kept it in a locker or is it just a guest in my memory ?

How do you tell someone that sort of a thing?

Well, I did. Not all of this, but did remind her that we were together at Junior KG (I wished I had looked a lot more credible.)

Or better, I wish, I didn’t remember her. Or the way she looked or how she looked at people. Or her red water bottle with green cap.

But there I was victim of my own strength. Captive of my own memory.

Reminding someone of where we had crossed paths before, because I have this over-sized memory chip for people, conversations, incidents and this under-sized memory chip for places, directions sometimes numbers.

And before I get congratulated for my chosen profession, let me assure you it’s not a congratulatory thing.

Let me give an example. I won this game in Class Vth (I don’t remember on what date) But I know we were celebrating school foundation day and we got a memory game.

We got a tray full of stuff - threads, balls, pins, rubbers, all household articles. Mundane things. Different colors.

Now I don’t remember how many of them were there but I remember to this day, 20 years later what most of the stuff in the tray and, who brought it to us (Ayesha & Tauja, both were in red houses, wore red batches and lived in Patliputra Colony, which was very close to school, and did not take the bus to go home.)

Now you get the picture.

What’s more annoying is that a memory like this - gets triggered during a training program at a serious meeting in office. I wish this would stop at the memory game, but no, once I remember Ayesha, I can do a documentary on Ayesha’s world.. Like she was the class captain in II B, she got the best citizen award, again in II B, she was in red house , again in II B, she and I were in a play together, same class, I don’t remember her Birthday, but I remember she wore an orange frock to school, with white shoes and invited us through nice handwritten notes. My note was green in color.

I also remember her sister, Simran had light blue eyes, I know I will recognize them if I see them in a crowd of thousand odd people.

I will walk up to her and say, “Hi , Are you Ayesha’s sister? We were in Class II B together.” (Also in IIIB, IV A, VA & VI C, Thankfully in this case)

And when that blue eyed girl of my memory would marvel at how little she has changed, or how did I do it I would say in a super cool, super sexy way, I am in a profession where you need to remember a lot.

This would freak her out completely.

Well, there is much much more I remember about Ayesha and also Tanuja and any person I met then and that’s annoying.

Because it surfaces right when my boss wants something done. I don’t remember it, the here and now stuff, I can’t do a thing about it, and it doesn’t challenge me or better my memory. That data my boss asked for, that he needed for this real cool presentation which would have become super cool, had I remembered to give it, would only challenge my memory 20 years later when my grandson would cry for a diaper change and tug at my shirt.

Till then it can fight the red water bottle in my mind space.

Tuesday, March 25

a poem

They sat in silence
She like the earth rotating on her axis
She like the orbit
Trampled by a self absorbed rotating earth

What do you know about anything?
Hmm… she murmured
Thinking, I bet you knew
everything about everything
I bet you rehearsed it all
Living & Loving
Loving & living
And said “cut”
And “retakes”
When you thought you didn’t live right
And shot it all in a“To do & not to do”
A celluloid on “life”
May I buy tickets?
For 100 odd bucks
Before it is all “sold out”
And then live life
Frame by frame

She was hurt by her silence
Like, Once in a life time movie
Was running to an empty theatre

“What do you know anything about loss?
Loss is wiped off vermillion
Loss is widowhood imposed
No warnings, no preparations

For a moment, she heard,
A tenuous bond formed
Over a dead man
In white muslin
She remembered him for
Keeping the deviant in check
she remembered him for
he helped keep the
Overbearing under tabs

And then she though of loss
Yes, I know of loss
Loss is more than wiped off vermillion
Loss is frenzied days
Overwork, concrete jungle.
Loss is no friends and no faith
Loss is cold lunches, lonely dinners
Loss is a sinking feeling
That tomorrow maybe as
bleak and cold as today

"I know loss"
She wanted to scream
Instead she looked at her
She was crying
Stung by the unfairness of loss
Also probably its vastness

They both retrieved
Faded into silence

The earth rotated on its axis
And revolved around the sun
And the orbit trampled by a
Self absorbed earth
Regretted its destiny.

Saturday, March 15

Manhattan mornings




Last week, when I got a chance to be in New York I was thrilled at the prospect of having to spend my weekend there. It would give me a chance to see New York.

It was biting cold when I reached NY. But the adrenaline rush braved it all. The cold wind, rains that obscured visibility from most observation decks, the fatigue of the 14 hr flight, even the reversed body clock.

I was there to make the most of the trip.

First things first, when one goes from Mumbai to New York, especially if you are the ones who get retailed happiness in malls you have to get the regular out of the way.

So there I was just 2 hrs after my trip, at Macy’s with my mental check list of “what to get for whom”

Macy’s like a maze and I got lost several times. Yet, loved the assortment of brands, the availability of sizes and the styles to chose from, and for a drop dead shopper like me, there isn’t anything like Macy’s Oh, no there is the Fifth Avenue








New Yorkers are happy without breakfast, they are more into buying coffee, But for some of us a breakfast is a must and there’s nothing like this café on Times Square followed by star bucks coffee. Starbucks is to an average New Yorker what Vada Pav is to a Mumbaikar I believe.






There are always two ways to explore a city, one is to do the touristy way, pick up one of those IN City guides and do all the “ To Dos” or just feel the city. Its sight and smell, its parks, malls, eateries, cinema halls, the roads, the graffiti on walls, take a bus ride, board the train, eat off the road, strike a conversation with cabbies, let them take you to the fun places and just soak in everything.

And that’s exactly how I intended to explore NY.

Just imagine a walk down 5th avenue and stumbling towards the very famous Rockefeller Centre. It’s an art deco between 5th 7 7th avenue, which has an ice skating ring, the lovely Rockfeller Centre café and loads of shopping places.












5th Avenue is a shopping treat but it’s also a visual delight, the broad boulevards, the beautiful architecture that feels like an art studio would actually house some fashion brands.

I could not help clicking what Walt Disney had to say about itself.










And this is what New Yorkers are reading now.





Well, I have picked up this book on tape, it would befascinating to read about the trials and tribulations of the black progeny of mixed heritage Obama, negotiate his space in America. I hope to find the man Obama admist presidential hopeful who feels economies like India are taking jobs from America. But this…. I would save for another blog moment. When I feel like writing about the calculus of opportunities and lack of it.

And if we thing our media goes on endlessly, the US TV too loves to over engineer. Hence, channels after channels dished out why Clinton (Bill, this time)thinks Hilary needed to win Ohio & Texas and why Obama is a manifestation of America’s call for change.

My book shopping was the most elaborate one with a visit to Barnes & Nobles. I managed to pick up some extremely good stuff that’s keeping me very busy ever since I came back.

For now more of 5th Avenue.







New York is divided in to five boroughs. It was unfortunate that I could not visit the other boroughs like Brooklyn, Bronx, Queens and Staten Island besides Manhattan but I managed to see a lot of Manhattan.

My hotel was at Times Square, a tourist attraction. The neon light at Times Square gives you a feeling of having arrived on NY scene however fleetingly.











I want these pictures to speak because the grandeur of Times Square, its glowing neon signs, its tourist savvy shops cant be contained in words.

Colleagues advised me to watch a broadway show, preferably a musical, well I know Broadway is great but frankly the idea of a musical like Chicago or legally blonde was not as warm as it should be. I chose “Come Back, little Sheeba”, a hard hitting playon contemporary American life. Broadway is an experience not to be missed on any counts. While plays in Mumbai have their own earthy charm, Broadway surprises you with its magnitude, its professionalism, its branding, there are 39 theatres with a capacity of 500 people in theatre district.

The next thing on my “to do” list was taking the subway in US, I got into the subway near my hotel and went to places like SOHO & Chelsea.( These were all recommendations by various cabbies.)





Subway is the life line of this over worked, over frenzied city. Students, working professionals, tourists all board the subway to reach their destination; the stations are alive with music. Youngsters can be seen performing hip hop once in a while to buy their coffee.






I enjoyed walking down SOHO & Chelsea. My moment in the sun was seeing a statue of Mahatma at the Union Square Park, not far off, somebody screeched on a loudspeaker to an imaginary audience about US psyche post 9/11. Mahatma’s message bears repetition in a wafer-thin urbane memory.




I also got an opportunity to visit my boss’s family in US which gave me an insight into a midtown family life. I had to curb my urge to click pictures several times that evening.

Work was fun mostly. I got to meet some very good people and got a complete perspective on Diversity, a concept very nascent to Indian organizations.

Off work, I spoke to some old college friends, people who had migrated to US on Student VISAs, some had got their work permits, others were waiting for it, the pressure of living in a country different from their own was telling. Some had married, some hadn’t. Some had accepted, some hadn’t, some were happy, some weren’t.

Their lives were a curious mixture of some things East & some things West. A heady cultural cocktail they would pass on to their progeny. A burden they would carry into their lives.

Ever since I knew I was to go to New York, I wanted to visit what is now known as Ground zero. The erstwhile WTC, the structure that often passed off as symbol of America’s progress and whose innards were bombed on 9/11 changing the contours of world politics for ever.

As and as you stand close to the only wall there, the magnitude of human tragedy hits you. One look at the vast expanse of land that used to be WTC, , the scale of destruction invades you.




My hair stood on the edge and there’s in no way I can express what I felt. Nothing absolutely nothing, justifies bombings of a civilian structure, nobody ever deserves to stand in debris to find the dead body of a loved one who was not even exposed to the complex nuances of International terrorism. Whether this happens in Kashmir or Godra, Mumbai or Israel, or World Trade Centre.







It is unacceptable. And it has to be rejected. By every nation and every time it happens. Beyond all kinds of economic, geographic, and military interests. Because the tenets of power cant debilitate its own existence.

I saw this father explaining the significance of 9/11 to his kids at WTC site. I hope these kids inherit a future that is free of terrorism of this kind.









And so finally the sight old New York - Sex & The City hoardings , the yellow cheese cake with red jelly , rain washed roads & parks and this snap. An excuse of a tree and a lot of concrete.

Wednesday, February 20

butter garlic crabs

This is the second in the series of specific. Last night, I tried my hand at crabs. It was the first time I was cooking crabs and I was told it was very good for a first timer.

Ingredients

Crabs (without the shells)
Lime juice (1 lime for 250 gms)
Chopped garlic (10-12)
Pepper powder (To taste)
Butter (To taste)
Salt ( To taste)

Wash the crabs well and set aside. Heat the butter in a pan or kadai. Add the crabs to it. Squeeze the lime in the pan. Add the garlic, salt and black pepper. Stir till the crab becomes golden brown. Garnish with coriander to serve.

See pictures







Saturday, February 16

random ones

Yes. I know its been some time I haven’t blogged. Too much water has flown under the bridge. It almost feels like the other end of the sea, the bridge a distant imaginary dot.

I know being erratic has lost favor. The needle is moving towards the structured, disciplined types.

So.... the New Year resolution is to be specific. So I am not going to get carried away with words. I am going to get into real writing. With a specific outcome. Like today I am going to write about

Fish Curry in mustard gravy

(Its a tacit knowledge passed from a mother to a daughter, so no real acknowledgements here)

Ingredients

Rohu fish (cut into small pieces, cleaned)

To marinate

Ginger & garlic paste
Chilli paste
Salt to taste
Turmeric powder
Chilli powder (as per taste)
Lime juice (1 whole lemon in 1 kg fish)

To Fry

Mustard oil

For Gravy

Ginger & Garlic paste
2-3 garlic pieces
2-3 chilies (as per taste)
4-5 tomato (cut & diced)
Mustard paste
Coriander leaves for seasoning
Salt
Turmeric powder



Mix all the ingredients listed above well with the fish and keep aside for 2-3 hrs. ( See picture)










Pour oil into the frying pan or kadai. Let the oil heat. Place the fish piece by piece in the oil. Fry on both sides till the color turns to golden brown. (See picture)The fish can be shallow fried as well for a low oil dish.















For the gravy, use a different utensil. Pour some mustard oil and fry the tomatoes, chilies, with ginger garlic paste. Add mustard powder, salt & turmeric powder. Fry this masala in the oil on a low flame till it leaves the edges of the utensils. Add water and boil twice or thrice.

Add the fried fishes and take it off the pan. (See picture)







Garnish with coriander leaves

This dish goes extremely well with boiled rice. This is bliss. I am not counting calories today.

But these are not daily indugences. To sign off, here is a poem I wrote when I was on a diet


You are like the hot & sour chicken soup
seasoned with garlic & butter
Bread crumbs crisp and red
Floating to entice
Served on a cold life like night
You are like the baked bread
Fresh out of the shop
Fluffy and creamy
Creamy and fluffy
Eager and willing
Like a sunny morning
You are like the mustard fish curry
Sprawled over steam rice
On a rainy near morning
Served in a run down joint
playing bad FM music
Over a sloshed conscience

You are so much and so more
the tangy sauce
In a bland cold salad
Spicy green chili
Occasionally encountered
In a low cholesterol omelet
I love you like the
sinned food that cant be had
I love you for
I am forced to eat
my sanitized
here and now lunch
One day , my love,
I shall break free
And eat what I like