Thursday, December 20, 2007

Saving face, kindness and catching-up

Here it is, the second ever 'three beautiful things' post. (See the first one from October 2006 at this link). Giving a shout out to Clare of the original TBT.

- So most of my friends have heard of the disasterous meeting of last week, and I am just about (emphasis on 'just a teeny weeny bit') getting out of the tomato red embarrassment phase. Flashback to the classic faux pas moments on TV programmes, well this one fit the bill to a T. On one of my most off days ever, in one of the most important discussions of this month, my mind decided to have a mind of its own! Now, its easy to say, 'Can you repeat the question' when one hasn't started off on the answer already, however it gets a tad bit difficult when one has been talking for well over a minute and then to suddenly stop and say 'uh..I'm sorry, even though I have been talking for a while, I have forgotten what the question was, could you uh...repeat it please. Classic embarrassment. But how does this fit into a TBT mode, well thanks to friends who've heard this disaster story so many times that their guffaw's have begun to tease a smile out of my grumpy face as well. :-)

- Another classic horror scenario happened when I walked into one of my favourite book-shops in the city, with a cup of coffee, and then proceeded to spill it (accidentally of course!) over a whole pile of the latest bestsellers! Another 'oh my God, this is not happening' situation. But the shop owners, very kindly accepted the apologies, and responded to my 'I can buy these books if you want' with a smile and 'its perfectly all right Madam, don't worry'. Its always nice to come across nice people - those few who do exist, so yeah a definite TBC contender.

- A continuous one-on-one quality time with friends over leisurely drinks in comfy lounges. Getting a chance to catch-up with friends transiting through the country/state/city over fantastic glasses of wine and making plans of life in 2008. Fantastic.

On that note, a big Hobbes hug to all. Yeah, I am feeling particularly festive this afternoon :-)

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Diwali eve

FINALLY on the train home on Diwali eve. Dead tired after spending five hours on a crowded platform, waiting for a train which kept getting delayed and delayed and delayed. The saving grace was the platform humour which erupted in spurts from one or the other corner, much like the firecrackers in the sky - which unfortunately were no great shakes at providing entertainment to the tired crowd at the station. Anyhow, the train, usually on time, decided today to get delayed by almost four hours. So for those of us, who had dilligently reached the station well on time, it turned out to be a bloody long wait.

"Yatri krupaya dhyan dein, Delhi junction se chal kar ... ko jane wali ...Express tees minute deri se aane ke sambhavana hai." ..after the said 30 minute, turned into "...Express...ek ghanta aur thees minute der se aane ki sambhavana hai", and so on and so forth. By the time the fourth announcement was made, about two and a half hours after the original delay, the platform could do nothing but erupt into giggles and chuckles (or maybe it was chuckles and giggles, I am just too tired and sleepy to remember exactly). The same people who a minute ago were damn irritating, - the group of tipsy men listening to music on the phone at full volume, the kid running around between the legs of passengers while the mother looked on with pride and the father looked on with exasperation, the constantly quarrelling couple, and so on - each time the mike crackled on, loud "shhhhs" rang through the platform, followed by an agitated and just barely controlled silence. After the first few annnouncements, the chuckles were accompanied by "Maro yaar announce karne wale ko",clearly said in jest by the large group of college students sitting next to me. Who said it and then simultaneously erupted in laughter. Maybe the message got through to the railway announcer nevertheless, who, in the very next announcement, went deadly silent after the first four words, "Yatri krupya dhyan dein..". Thats it. The sentence remained unfinished. The mike silently crackled, while around the platform merriment rang out and a loud voice said, "Ab bol na himmat hain to!!!".

But now that one is in the train finally, and on the way home for Diwali, here's wishing everyone good festivities and good cheer on journeys home. And for the railway employees at the Delhi stations, well, here's to crackling mikes and just about amused passengers.

Happy Diwali all.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Humming, Hemmingway and things which make me go (H)Mmmm..

- Evenings: And new memories. Which for days and days have made me smile and sing to myself while driving to work every morning.

- Reconnection: Out of the blue connection with an old friend after years of searching and giving up. Glad to be back in touch Mr. Thesis!

- Places: I'd rather have been these few days at: Burma, Kabul, Paris

- Alternative careers: Colleagues in the know have officially certified an alternative calling as a fashion designer. Looooong story! Those of you who know me, have already heard of - and seen it, and man, it makes me clutch my stomach and guffaw each time I remember the gala dress (enough said!)

- Irritants: "Celebrities" - queensize egos, pintsize brains; "Media" - brainless twits with nothing but attitude; Microsoft Word 2007 - WHERE the f are all the options?; Flu and colds; Airtel - I give up, outsourcing does not always work; cleaners; and, live bands which play less and talk more.

- Career I will NEVER EVER follow: celebrity management

- Key-work-words: Life, before and after gift!, the declarations - the recommendations - and the tantrums, fantastic media who know their stuff and media who are anything but, self-sufficiency, inspirational speeches, following-up and being followed, dog bites and missing laptops, and oh yes the lone International Red Cross. Some recovered, and some in recovery, but all in all a successful commencement.

- Thank God for: friends who stand for tantrums and friends who bang the drums of common sense. A shout goes out to J in H, R in E and S in U.

- Music of the fortnight: Ethnic Motives in Jazz ('El Bembe' -Jimmy Wilson, 'Afro-Cuban Drum Suite'-Dizzy Gillespie); French Lounge ('Breathe' and 'Smile' -Telepopmusic; 'License'-Agent 5.1); Latin Groove ('Linda manigua'-Sidestepper, 'El Carretero' -Barria Cubano de Ronald Rubinel, 'Yorulamento' -Supatone)

- Things I enjoyed the mostest: Inspirational speeches, lime margaritas, and mmmm..beaucoup de baisers (absolutely and utterly not in that order!)

- Current state of mind: anticipation

Sunday, September 30, 2007


All I can say is, read it.

Prose, pain and pathos.

Here's an excerpt:


In the village school we were taught to add, subtract, multiply, and divide.

The teacher gave us difficult problems, asking us to figure out how many baskets of rice a family would have to sell to buy a new water buffalo. Or how many lengths of fabric a mother would need to make a vest and pants for her husband and still have enough for a dress for her baby.

Here I do a different set of calculations.

If I bring a half dozen men to my room each night,and each pays Mumtaz 30 Rupees, I am 180 Rupees closer each day to going back home. If I work for a hunderd days more, I will surely soon have nearly enough to pay back the 20,000 Rupees I owe to Mumtaz.

Then Shahanna teaches me city substraction.

Half of what the men pay, goes to Mumtaz, she says. Then you must take away 80 Rupees for what Mumtaz charges for your daily rice and dal. Another 100 a week for renting you a bed and pillow. And 500 for the shot the dirty-hands doctor gives us once a month so that we won't become pregnant.

She also warns me: Mumtaz will bury you alive if she sees your little book of figures.

I do the calculations.

And realize I am already buried alive.



Wednesday, September 19, 2007

>:-( Hmphf

Do you have those days when you're angry and upset with everyone and everything (And, NO, this is not a question, its a bleedin' statement). Well, its been a long month of such endless days.

So here's a half-hearted sort of attempt at 'looking at the bright side' and all that cliched blah blah.

Good things:
- Friends who keep in touch, no matter how weird you act. God bless you!
- Unexpected emails which make your day and make you daydream.

Now am going to breath in and out slowly (does that work for anyone??), shut up, and retreat back in my mind.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Imperialists and dreamers

Rory Stewart is of middle height, lanky frame, with slightly long hair, and the last time I saw him, he wore jeans, a white shirt and a long black coat. Rory Stewart is a 30 something former British diplomat, who, not too long ago, held the position of Deputy Governor of a region of southern Iraq. (.. trying my best to ignore the 'neo-colonization' blinker flashing across the mind...) He is also the author of a book based on his solo trek around Asia, including through the conflict-ridden Afghanistan. Rory Stewart is also a glib talker, as glib diplomats go. I heard him speak at a panel discussion about a year ago. And it was not difficult to visulaise him in the role of the young governor/diplomat, imperialist overtones notwithstanding. He speaks the way I wish I could, as do most young people who dreamed while growing up, of being revolutionaries-authors-Presidents-adventurers-archealogists-pirates, all rolled into one. He articulates scenarios with oh so impassioned words but with an expressionless face, - cliched diplomacy at its best. And, Rory Stewart, now an ex-diplomat, is currently working in Afghanistan, on restoring/ preserving old Kabul architecture. To sum it in a sentence, Rory Stewart is the modern-day real-life version of the fabled adventurers mentioned in many an adventure book. And, one of many examples why 'too busy with life to follow that dream' seems like such a feeble excuse.

Here is the link to a recent article about the architecture preservation work he is doing, and an older and more general one on his various stints.

The picture is taken from The Telegraph article linked above.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Lesson # 1

The weekend fast aproacheth. Hence taking a cue from Three Beautiful Things, and meandering off in my usual style, here are Three Lessons Learnt, from last weekend:

1. After one-two-many, no matter how slow one speaks the words slur. In fact, the slower you speak the more elaborate and in-slow-motion cometh the slur. Solution: Keep mouth (and mind) shut, after three drinks. Good luck with that one though. Lemme know if it works. (Uh what did you ask..right..yeah we are working towarjeuq..I mean towardashddud, well towaaaasd..oh well see its better if yo cals..yo cald.. me on my office number over the week, here's my carth..well, here is half of it anyway..let me see if I can find the other half in my bag somewhere..(take a big gulp of the drink to drown the sheepish smile..and walk off))

2. Never buy ciggies when plans for 'a quick drink' are afoot. Because, you'll be too out-of-it to recall what happened to the yet unopened packs. Hint: left it on the table. That could be any table - in a pub, restaurant or somebody's house, but usually its a table. (Drat! Both the packs were unopened, AND I left my lighter.)

3. Giving the DJ repeated dirty looks is NOT going to change the music. Hint: a) change the venue b) have another drink.

Venues: Shalom, Stone, T's house
Drinks: Lime Margarita, Blue curacao margarita, Kiwi margarita, G & T with bitter
Food: Some sort of ridiculously small but exorbitantly priced mezze platter. Taste: don't recall!

Happy weekend all. Esp, S in W (jetlagged (but happy) I bet!), I in G (I know doll, will email soon), S in the outskirts on one side of the city (happy treadmillin), J in the outskirts on the other side of the city (c u tomorrow..been a while), and S almost in the neighbourhood (don't think, just eat).

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Sonnet # 22

And this; is simply beautiful..

My glass shall not persuade me I am old,
So long as youth and thou are of one date;
But when in thee time's furrows I behold,
Then look I death my days should expiate.
For all that beauty that doth cover thee
Is but the seemly raiment of my heart,
Which in thy breast doth live, as thine in me:
How can I then be elder than thou art?
O, therefore, love, be of thyself so wary
As I, not for myself, but for thee will;
Bearing thy heart, which I will keep so chary
As tender nurse her babe from faring ill.
Presume not on thy heart when mine is slain;
Thou gavest me thine, not to give back again.

- William Shakespeare

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

The proverbial bright bulb or a whiff of cool air

'PM flays cancer of power theft'

The headline just caught my eye, barely, but it did. It seems our dear PM is out on an ethical drive. What with the recent 'To do' suggestions to the CII, - point No.1 (on 'profit marginalisation within the limits of decency and greed', or as some punters stated 'obscene salaries') of which, was promptly rejected by the industry the next day. At least the dear man is trying. With politicians, making sense of even simple statements leads to mucho head scratching, if not outright banging of the head. MS is well educated, has a small family, AND has no criminal complaints filed against him. Hurray, a ray of hope. Although, the issue of him fighting elections from his 'home' state of Assam, where he apparently resides, is a bit of a puzzle. But thats for a later date. Today is for some sparks.

So what did this news report remind me of?

May is almost over and thank the lord that with the showers every couple of days, it has been bearable. But the sun is nevertheless glaring down. In this heat, on my room, in second floor, there is no air conditioner. Yup. Un-f*****gbelievable but true. The landlord neither allows the tenants to put one, nor does the deed himself. The pure and simple reason being the old-fashioned tampered meters in the house. So, the offer to cover all costs, offer to go to elec. dept., offer to drive him to the elec. dept. etc. etc. have all gone to nought (or to coin a new phrase ' have drowned with the Davy Jones'!). A series of discussions, arguments, pleadings, poutings, etc. have led to a sweaty standoff. But what is interesting is the progression of excuses. Here is a sampling:
1. Yes, we will put an ac.
2. We have not had free time.
3. No electrician is available.
4. Waiting for the known electrician.
5. Electrician said it is not possible to put an ac.
6. It is too expensive.
7. Electricity department needs an application for ac installation.
8. Waiting for electricity department to get back.
9. We have guests from abroad.
10. We were ill.
11. I have to talk to the electricity department.
12. Electricity department orally said no.
13. We don't want to show our meters to the department.
14. New meters are too expensive.
15. New meters run too fast.
16. Wiring is too old.
17. Wiring cannot be replaced
18. House is too old.
19. House will burn down.
20. No.

Hmm..what can I say. Are his lies and stealing elec. what makes him a bastard, or is it also the seven-year old kid working as a domestic servant in his house? Does it really matter. This is the state of an educated, 80-something couple, earning about 30,000INR just in rent from one of their properties in Delhi. So, is it even worth tuh-tuhing to the cleaner earning about 4,000 a month who attempts to steal power from the neighbourhood cable off and on. Lets sweat over it. (and no, I don't mean that in a nice way).

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Cocktails and cuff-links

A week of sorts.
Remembrances - old friends, a shout out to M. Mr Perfect.
Weight lifting and accents with lisps
A shiny silver ball, cuff links and ear studs
narcotics and a fan following
hair growing on palms (ha)
Touching base - almost
The wait.
The analysis.
elections and candidates
hangovers and a last question
Isn't kissing in public illegal in India?

The tally stands at:
Lime margarita - 2 Gin and tonic - 1 Blue lagoon - 1 Vodca and juice - 2 Comfortini -1 Devil's wiskers - 1

Current state of mind: tired and irritated, - with a (nagging) dash of hope, all mixed into a crappy cocktail.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

The mind and the eyes

Eyes, eyes, eyes, the all seeing
Weeping, watery, worried
Intervals of two and four, and
A long afternoon journey with lots of memories
Old, and new ones, desperately trying to be formed.

The heat, homeless and searching
Avoided calls and missed meetings
The Witches of Eastwick
The Good Cop/ The Bad Cop
The Namesake, and other
half formed titles.

Current state of mind: Preoccupation

Tuesday, April 03, 2007


An acquaintance had sent yet another forwarded email. Before deleting I went through it briefly, and among the many wrenching images, these three pull the most strings, each time.

1989: A young man in China stands before the tanks during protests for democratic reforms.

1980: A kid in Uganda about to die of hunger, and a missionaire.

1990:A mother in Somalia holds the body of her child who died of hunger.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

The night show

Date: March 4, 2007 (wee hours)
Event: Lunar eclipse (total)

While others captured the phenomenon through images such as this


My tiny little phone camera struggled with:




and this


Yes, I know this is just a photo of 'blackness' but before you laugh, I HAVE very helpfully drawn two arrows where I (hmm) 'think' the moon was. So chose option a or b, and stare hard at the photo.

Still, it was a good experience. The night/morn was really nippy and I was working on a deadline so the venture involved me dashing out to, and back in from, the terrace, while the full moon lit night gradually became darker.

And since, somewhere in the middle of me very sleepily but valiantly standing on the terrace, I suddenly remembered my cleaner's spooky words re the little banyan tree plant growing out of the wall on one side of the terrace, and all her unsaid, but nonetheless well modulated comments on the spookiness of such plants, came back to haunt me (no pun intended). That explained to a large degree, the urgent need for me to look around wildly and make desperate dashes inside the house, before once again braving the terrace. Still, all in all, the going to sleep at 5.00am on Sunday morning was worth it.

In hindsight, this is how it would have seemed to a random observor:
Female, with short, but wild uncombed hair comes out on the terrace every 20 minutes between 2.00 - 5.00am. Stares at the moon silently for 5-6 minutes, then looks around increasing wildly, before running back inside the house. And while the moon is covered by an ominous shadow, this happens again and again and again......

The first two images taken from the BBC website, and for more such fantastic images, see link

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Another birthday, and another new year. Yaay!

So, the euphoria has almost worn off (the day after the birthday is soo anticlimactic) and its not been so 'yay' anymore, but desperately clutching on the the straggly ends of my new list of resolutions, here's me trying to be more (unrealistically???) optimistic. So 'yaay' once again!

Yes, another birthday and another new year.

The day dawned bright and early! The 'brightness' started way before dawn, with dear friends at midnight (okay, so technically it was still 15 minutes before midnight and all our watches were about 5 minutes faster or slower than the other..(note to self: synchronize watches with all close friends)), chocolate cake and red wine on an ever-so-slightly nippy terrace. Very nice. Yaay!

Call from a dear friend continents away. Nice. Somehow pensive. Yaay! for close friends.

I seem to be spending most of my significant dates in trains (partly at least). So, following the tradition, the 5 am trip out from home for the train station, and with me after barely 40 minutes of sleep (well, lets just say, this won't be a sentence suffixed with 'yay'!). Well..But, the start was not all that bad. The taxi arrived before time - as usual, but instead of the driver honking on the horn to jarr me awake well before the appointed time, he actually waited patiently. Yup. :-). And since this was a mid-week train journey, the platform was not crowded and I got a nice porter to carry my heavy luggage. And, he ended up being a nice young person to chat to. I did catch him look puzzled at my constant monologue, but he eventually joined in and so we ended up talking, in a refreshingly pleasant way, about the railways, about the station and about mid-week train journeys. My reservation was of a nice window seat, AND barely into the start of the train journey the messages started coming on the phone. Yaay! Now, I am not (much of) an egoistic person, but it feels real real nice when ppl remember the special day. And they kept coming throughout (uh..almost) so it was goooood goood good (as Bruce Almighty would say). To top the morning off, it dawned nice and chilly with a fantastic fog. Perfect perfect perfect start to the day! Yaay!

(Oh and before I get too carried away with this 'being optimistic' business, I simply must tell about the eclectic ticket checker or rather the 'TT'. So, ages after leaving school, I felt like a school kid. And this time it was a TT sitting down and taking attendance of the compartment! While everyone either snickered or pretended to ignore, it was hard not to be amused. So Mr.TT plonked himself down on the corner edge of 'my' set of seats and proceeded to call out names of passengers at the top of his voice, and so forth, - for all the passengers to hear, while I desperately prayed for God to make him go away before he shouted out my name, and worse, the age. (I don't think God got enough notice for this request, so, well, it did not work). The fun actually started when a passenger was found to be missing. And then a series of loud announcements on whether anyone had seen 'Ms. Kiko. Foreign Lady. 26 years of age', followed by the TT conscientiously walking the length of the compartment looking for her. At various points of pacing about, he would stop and lecture a passenger on the importance of keeping proper records of the passengers of the Indian railways! After a half hour of this, having done his duty, the official disappeared as noisily as he had arrived. While the compartment, almost simultaneously, erupted in giggles.

The day at home was relaxed and nice. Yes, nice. Too short. But nice. Yaay! And next day, very early morning, it was time to head back to the train, and to current reality.

So yeah, four days down the line, it seems very very hard to follow the three resolutions. But I, am determined to try. So, yaay to that.

Yaay! to the new year!


Sunday, February 11, 2007


Hmm, just realised the previous video ain't working. But hey, I like the pop art-esque type colours, so the non-video cover stays. Instead, here is PD in a tres tres retro-esque type video thing. At least the music is good. The original is so much better than the latter remixes. So here goes.
p.s.: And yes,-esque suffixes the current mood. Almost.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Plastic Dreams

After a loooong 14 hour work day and an all-nighter ahead (yeah whatever), the one and only thing to do is to crash headlong into music. Tonight's salvation lies in plastic dreams.

Close the eyes and listen to Jaydee, but brace for the abrupt bubrupt end. Yeah yeah, its been another one of those days. And before I descend into an expletive laden monologue, I just might reach out to the fridgy diggy, open the Bud and go glug glug. Turrah luv.

Whatever. F it!, A et al.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Neighbourhoods and joints

Neighbourhoods and joints. Comfortini and sake and long dry nights. Thank God for friends who make one see the black and the white; and thank God for friends who drive one around in the middle of the night. Egging and egging, into the realm of practicality. Some of us do need that push. So here's to the past rollercoaster week, and for perspectives just barely balancing above the nadir. Yes, just barely.

Fingers crossed. After all homo sapiens are habitual creatures (some more than others).

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Hair, there and everywhere

"Are you growing your hair, or is it growing by default?"

Yes, believe it or not, someone ACTUALLY asked me this question today. Tough one eh?

Sunday, January 07, 2007

..a new year cometh

As the train sleepily chugged along, I amused myself by drinking umpteen cups of watered down tea provided by two marketing savvy railway tea porters, and clicking photos of the heavily foggy first day of 2007.

Oh the joys of winter...I lurrve lurrrve lurrrve it!

Small print: We'ell, I drank seven and one sip of the eighth cup actually (I gagged and couldn't drink any more of the eighth), but 'umpteen' sounded more poetic...