Thursday, December 11, 2008


No matter how many years one might have spent travelling around the world - some concepts just don't get easy to digest.

Got another one of those invites to a birthday party recently:

"..bring your love for parties, baloons, and whatever you want to drink.."!!

Would've anyway. But, being asked to in such categorical terms, leaves a bad taste in the mouth, - and I am not referring to cheap liquor this time!

Nope, I don't get it.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

A Case of Exploding Mangoes

A Case of Exploding Mangoes
By Mohammed Hanif

1) This is one book which languorously yet confidently treads the meandering line where satire, sarcasm and humour, merge into a very satisfying read. So, I will loudly disagree with elements of Chandak Sengoopta’s writing in The Independent, and volubly (as volubly as possible while hungrily gulping down one mouthful after another) agree with Robert Macfarlane in The New York Times. This book is not about waiting for the tension to build. The tension is in each page, to be enjoyed like the bits and pieces of conversations between Cadet Shigri and the Secretary General of the sweeper's union, through the slit in the wall of their dungeon cells. The writing is effortlessly humourous and flows like the plane in the grip of a ‘phugoid’. Sometimes it is outright humour, sometimes biting sarcasm, but always accompanied by a satire on the realist trappings of military, bureaucracy and the politics of power. The pleasure is in knowing that you'll get to ride this wave, up and down, up and down, right till the end. Quite like General Zia’s response to the aerodynamics in the closing moments of the book.

2) They have never - actually - enjoyed one. The anticipation. The first look and with that, the impending loss of control as you see the texture of the skin, flushed to various hues of orange and yellow, and sometimes a tinge of red. The fight to keep the fingers slow as the outer covering is peeled off to reveal the deliciously corrugated surface within. Some strands sheepishly trying to hold on to the skin leaving them so suddenly so exposed. The mind trying to hold the hand in check, which is preoccupied with its own struggle with the fingers. Focusing on keeping them soft, slow, yet steady. The mouth already tasting the pleasure, measured by the increasing frequency of desperate swallows. In anticipation.

No, unless you have tasted it, you would not know what I am talking about.

Why 1 and 2? Because sometimes I am quite greedy. And impatient. And impulsive. For example, if you look in my wardrobe, you will find ‘two’ of my favourite tops, ‘two’ of my favourite shorts, and so on and so forth. If I can’t decide which colour I like better, I take two and maybe three. I shut my mind for that hundredth of a second when I say, “I’ll take both.” Friends who know me well, and when given a choice of a gift brought back from holidays, know that the next question to ask is “What ‘other’ colours do you have”. :-) Anyway, I divert from the issue here. The issue being that I wanted to write a few lines about a book which I finished reading a few hours ago, and thoroughly enjoyed from cover to cover. First I wanted to write in a particular way, then almost mid sentence, I went off in a tangential direction. But, I wanted them both.


Some of us still sat around the table. When one person asked, "So what is the thing which you crave for most at this point in your life - success, love or peace?" All of us thought for a few seconds, and each one said - love.

The one person who, I thought, would have answered differently, had already left.

I checked the next day.

I was right.

Friday, September 19, 2008


..and hopes

..that was Bhutan for me.

Pl. comment or send me a line if you would like a link to the whole set.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Are you happy?

Nowadays I am mostly just tired.
Trying to be happy does that to me.
And pseudo-intellectual conversations.
Or any other kind, for that matter.
Conversations I mean.
Including my own thoughts.

I would rather sit and observe.
In a crowded room.
The snippets of conversations vying for attention.
Some more desperate than others.
Trying to hide in nooks and corners. Just when you are about to make sense out of them.
Crescendos. Rising and falling.
Shamelessly pimping themselves.

Aah. This is nice. This hide and seek.
Moving across a room with the eyes following the thoughts.
(Or is it the other way around?)
A frown here and there.
Trying to catch up.
With the cool breeze and the few drops of rain sliding over the glass windows.
Or the smoke clawing at the ceiling, in desperation. Trying to get away.
Sometimes it is beautiful.
This game.

It makes me smile to myself.

And just smiling to myself is enough for now.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Fishnet tales

I am a Piscean.

I don't like seafood. Because I am a Piscean.

I can't swim. Because I am a Piscean. I know, this one does not even make sense. My convoluted explanation (excuse) is that I have an affinity to the fish and the litty bitty tiny creatures which go in your mouth with the clorinated and dirty (lets not even go there) water are related to me, hence....this is where I sort of begin to lose the thread...

My Dad would be flabbergasted that I have seriously un-learnt the swimming that I was capable of as a child.

My colleagues have given up on teaching me, because instead of seeing me stressed in office every so often, they have started seeing me stressed everyday from 3.00pm onwards because it is just five hours to a dip in the pool, and I am counting each and every measly minute with dread. They gave up pushing me, when a few of them saw me calmly standng in the pool stuck to the wall, and then disappear from view for a few seconds before coming up spluttering water and then disappearing again... "What the hell happened??" "Uh, I slip as soon as I let go of the wall." The colleagues escorting me, now look as stressed as I do.

It is as clear as daylight, that as the dusk falls, all the 'grown-up' novices head to the toddler end of the pool. And when each and every one of them gapes at you with their mouths open, while you cling to a friend shouting for your life- "PROMISE YOU WON'T LET ME GO, PROMISE YOU WON'T LET ME GO"..well that just takes the cake. The friend, politely (and increasingly regretfully) says "I won't" while all the time trying really hard to not dunk your head into the water for (ahem), as long as it takes to..well, lets just say, I set a new target in learner's block, each and every day.

And yes, it does take a special kind of talent to stand in mortal fear of life, in two feet deep water while more than three feet of you is still sticking out of it. But as I said at the start of this tale -

I am a Piscean.

Friday, July 25, 2008

The thirst-hikers guide to the galaxy

"The first number was wrong.
The second rang, loud and shrill, forcing her to jerk the receiver away from the ear for a split second..
Riiiiiiiiing Riiiiiiiiiing
'Uh, is this Earth'
'Hold please'
Silence for a few seconds, before a slightly more modulated voice comes on line -'Yes, hello'
'I was trying to find out if this is Earth'
'Uh, we were on our way, can u give us directions'.
Static followed by what seemed like garbled words, which we managed to decipher as a very heavily accented response.' Then the second voice came back on line -
'Did u get that'
'Uh, um, yes'
'Can you keep some space for us..?'
'Earth is very crowded on Friday's,.. but how many?'
'What time?'
'About 8.30'
'Ok ma'am, where r you coming from'
'India, uh I mean...Delhi'

'As I giggled to myself over having to start a conversation with..."Is this Earth?" and egged the driver on in the general galactic direction, we inevitably were caught up in the very un-Earthly traffic heading out of Delhi. Finally reaching destination more than an hour late, we realised that the crossed fingers were useless and we'd lost the 'space'. However, the Earthlings found us places at the bar, where we gladly rested our tired bones, and focused on uncrossing the fingers while quenching our thirsts with greedy gulps of wine.

The place gets a solid thumps up.

And yes, I was right, its owned by the same company which owns my favourite chillout place in Delhi, hence the same signature decor and absolutely great chillout music. But what makes Earth a tad better than Stone, is the cocktail menu and wine list. With the best, yup -'The Best' Martinis I have had - in or in the vicinity of the capital. Unfortunately, the service is not at par, and the food and service is where Stone goes a notch up.

Three hours and four great Martini's later, I was just glad that Earth was a bit far for me to reach regularly, otherwise, between Stone and Earth, my already depleting dough balance, would obscurely disappear in the milky way.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Being detective

One of life's little mysteries propagated by the big and small screen - the mystery of the cliched snapping shoe heel...

Two simple questions and two simple answers:

a) Does it actually happen?
In a crowded place.
And when you least expect it.

b) So then how do you walk?
You don't.
You develop a desperate coping mechanism.
Here's how mine went: stumble, drag foot, drag foot, little ballet step with heel off the ground, stumble, drag, drag, ballet step, ballet step, stand still and think 'this can't be happening', drag, ballet step, ballet step, watch with the corner of the eye how many people are watching, big drag, small drag, and so on and so forth..

In hindsight, its not that difficult really. And employing full force when throwing shoes in the bin, definitely helps in the healing process.

Thursday, June 05, 2008


Finally, a small selection of some of my favourite images from Ethiopia.

The country, is amazing. And the people -- beautiful, gracious and kind.




The Poser


Tiss Isat




The others are being uploaded on Shutterfly. If you'd like a link to the whole set, send me a line or comment below and let me know.

Saturday, May 31, 2008


Evenings which serenade you with a cool breeze accompanied by gentle promises of a few pure droplets on the skin
Planes which shudder in the sky and rise up above the stratosphere
Sauces flowing down the shins and
Catching up with friends after a seven-year itch
Exhilerating, depressing, yet hopes that next time
Whenever wherever would be in calmer times,
Inside us.
Gentle tentative hugs and almost embarrassed smiles
Lifelong waves and
Wishing a tsunami would calm the turbulance inside
Time melting away too swiftly for comfort
Because, yes, there are just too few of us around
And learning the hard way is never easy.

A shout out to I in G, J in A, M in B, S in E and C and C skipping away into the sunset in the Maldives. Till next time folks. Love you all, as only a tipsy being can!

Monday, May 12, 2008

On parallel realities

An extremely morose and melancholic week, spent seriously wondering - and with increasing realization, that there just might be a parallel reality where all the spines have migrated. Leaving the current one saddled with small words like dishonesty and diplomacy.

Yes I did say I like words. But just words, are just that, and often not enough.

I guess, we all have our private initiation ceremonies.

It takes getting used to.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Seeking a utilitarian utopia

The question is:
To be or not to be - at peace?
I hate the word.
Just like the bard. And the famous characters. Illusive. Yet ever destructive in the hope of its achievement. Some ignore mirages, some seek them actively. The fools.
Perhaps the best way to achieve the P word - dirty as it is - utopian as it is - is to enable the brain to think in a compartmentalized manner (or was that the heart, one forgets). Pseudo-imitating James Clavell-like samurai spirits.
Does that work in this day and age?
Remains to be seen.
I hate the word.

Monday, March 10, 2008

That nip in the air

Desperately holding on to a fast receeding winter by goose-pimpled hands and ever so slightly numb fingers. Clouds and mist, those almost perfect bedfellows caressing the skin to give a sensuously languid start to the day. Ideal memories to last the long long summer.

Yes, despite the mopiness and preoccupations, twas a good start today.

Thank you.

Monday, March 03, 2008

The Hidden Weekend

The Weekend: Episode 1 (re-run?)

Primary feature: Classic and chronic faux pas

Primary activities: The weekend has been spent in:
a) hiding the embarrassment, and
b) quite simply hiding.

Umpteen drinks required in desperate attempts to forget, but perhaps drowning in good strong shots of caffeine in a mug will suffice. Perhaps.

Sunday, February 17, 2008


Not looking forward to spending the birthday on an utterly utterly utterly utterly pointless and useless day-long bus journey, with a bunch of pricks.


Thursday, February 07, 2008

In transit

Arrogance can only ever be tolerated in one kind of person - a talented musician. And that too, only while great music is being played. But when talent combines with looks and is topped with that most scant of qualities - humility, THAT - is the deadliest of combinations right there.

Here's to Crosswinds in Kolkata.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Far from the crowd

I seek company of friends, old and new, when I am alone. But I've discovered that, I prefer my own company in a crowd. The trappings of joy de vivre are addictive, but then listening from a distance has its own moments. It has its not-too-sharp curves with deja vu signposts zipping by - slowly.

Watching in slow motion and listening from far far away, to someone sitting in front of you...
..Its like seeing an old frayed fawn-edged black and white photograph..
..Like watching cigarette smoke twirl elegantly towards the ceiling..
..Like slowing tracing your finger over someone's eyebrow..
..Its like writing words in your mind.

You get up, walk away to the distance, without the other person realising that you are no longer there. You learn things about the other person. Often just irritants, but sometimes surprising things, which gently tug you back.

Sometimes you even learn about yourself.

Monday, January 21, 2008


Discovery: "Cymballic"*: The sound emanating from rapidly gyrating cymbals. A very 90s (late) groove sound popular in the UK, at the cross-roads of a cacophony of the aforementioned percussion instruments, medium drum & base and pop-electronica. Popularised by musicians such as Armand Van Halden, The Chemical Brothers and Fat Boy Slim.

Trigger point: Why Try Harder

Peak: Without doubt its - I See You Baby, but also Christopher Walken in Weapon of Choice, and the goofy Praise You video. Reminiscing student life at K.

Postscript: (1)Now why the hell did nobody think of this word earlier? (2)Ideally this should have gone in the Words and Wordsmiths blog, but oh well, whatever.

*Not to be confused with the more common 'symbollic'

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Starters and appetizers

This - has got to be a record of sorts, even for me - within the first four days of the year, I have broken almost each and every one of my long list of new year resolutions. Yes, the usual suspects got crunched despite best intentiones - me, men, moods, money, booze, work, gym, food, etc...(..and you know what, so far it feels great ;-) !)

Still tomorrow is another day and another shot at the resolutions. 4 glasses of red wine, 1 shot of tequila, 2 shots of gin, 2 GnTs, 2 margaritas, 1 passion plum, no sleep for 2 nights and a bloody good mug of coffee, is enough to lift anyone's spirits (pun absolutely intended). Hence, here we go again at a second shot at the list....fingers crossed.

Cheers, and happy resolutions all. Yaaaay!