I look at the way the sunlight slants across the orange curtains and outside, on the palm trees. I long to be inspired.
Sunday, December 28, 2008
I look at the way the sunlight slants across the orange curtains and outside, on the palm trees. I long to be inspired.
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Out and about a couple of days ago I came upon a lovely surprise- the trumpet trees are in blossom!
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
Monday, November 10, 2008
Saturday, November 08, 2008
Sunday, November 02, 2008
The little stores in our neighborhood have always been treasure-troves of wonders and goodies, as I've always known. Today we re-discovered a forgotten gem. The Aishwarya Shopping Point. Oh, what a cave of marvels! I spent considerable minutes staring ecstatically at the rows and rows of goods that I could never find at those big 'super' markets, which I shall have the grace to leave unnamed. Finally, having decided upon a bag of almonds and a variety of Kashmiri daalmoth I'd never seen before, I became aware of some sidelong glances from the shopkeeper. His look seemed to say- "Is she allright? Will it be terribly rude to ask her if she's mentally deficient? Why does she have such a dewy look on her mug? Has she never seen different varieties of prawn pickle or indigenous yet exotic-sounding breakfast foods? Ah, but let it go. Apparently, my store of humble goods is bringing her much joy and fulfilment!"
Then there is the Fancy Store. I went in there to get a packet of bindis. Immediately, I was assaulted by the glitter and seduction of a thousand products jammed into that 2ftX4ft store. I asked the shop guy, the customary North Indian youth, if there were any 'simple' bindis, and then remembered just one other thing I needed. I should have known when he asked, a bit more proddingly than is usual, "aur kuch?" Right- the grand bill total of my two purchases came to EIGHT rupees. Quite a Fancy Store, this- where the Prices are the Only Thing that is NOT Fancy!
Thursday, October 30, 2008
Saturday, October 25, 2008
There she sits on the side of the road. Her cart is full of the best bananas I've seen in Bangalore, so what can I do but stop, right? So I do. The first time I bought some, she priced them at 20 Rs for five.
The next day, it was 10 Rs for five. Ok, I thought, maybe yesterday she just made a mistake. She is rather old and she dozes most of the day, so ok. Then, the other day, she grinned at me with her paan-reddened teeth and informed me that the bananas were 10 Rs for three. Eh? I said. Three for ten rupees, she said firmly. I didn't want her to suddenly come out of her stupor and start beating me with bunches of perfectly good bananas, so I bought them.
I think it was yesterday that I approached her wondering what the price would be- like a little stock exchange of its own, I could lose my life savings if I don't play wisely. Twenty rupees for four, she said. Er, I said. They were ten rupees for three yesterday, I said. No, she said, those teeth flashing. Twenty for four. So I sighed and paid up.
Then when I got home, I saw she'd given me six. Twenty for six, then. I can hardly wait to buy from her tomorrow. Each time I eat a banana now, I marvel at the complex economics behind that humble fruit- what tangled matrices must she weave, to come up with the perfect price for me each day? I am no longer blase about banana buying. But, excuse me while I go look up prices online for the banana shares today, so the banana mafia doesn't hoodwink me again.
Thursday, October 23, 2008
In view of the asinine gay-ridiculing act that I'm sure will befoul all our lives once Dostana releases, I regret to announce that it must be John Abraham.
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
Dear Radio Indigo,
This letter is to remind you of a certain conversation we had two weeks ago. You ran a contest one afternoon, a spelling contest, and if we got all three of the spellings right, you promised us three CDs as a prize.
So, ok, I'm unemployed and all, and I can kick ass at spelling, so I called in. And lo, I was the first contestant. Needless to say, I got all three spellings right. Melody asked me to spell things like Chromium, Tungsten and Palladium. For frig's sake!
Anyhow, all went well. Two people even listened in to my stab at fame. And then what happened? Nothing.
So let me get this straight. When you said I won three CDs, you didn't really mean I won three CDs. Because, if I had really won three CDs, I would have those three CDs in my possession, if one were to progress logically. Seeing that this is not the case and I, in fact, do not possess three new free CDs, here is the next logical conclusion: You lied!
Now please explain to me how I can explain to my American husband that Radio Indigo really just slipped up and didn't gyp poor unemployed people who dialed in to their thrillingly inane spelling contest. Tell me how I can assure him that this, in fact, is not the Indian Way. Tell me how I can convince him that this is not , just another case of chronic I don't give a frig what I promised, you mangy git! that plagues so many, many, many professionals in this city, from cable operators to bank officials.
Or maybe I really am the mangy git who didn't get that I was supposed to go stampeding to your office in search of my promised CDs. If that were the case, even then I would have expected some communcation from you. Alas, there has been none. (But then I also didn't put two and two together when you didn't tell me which CDs I had purportedly won, you crafty cretins! )
Now maybe I should call in to your next contest, win it, and then shout out the equivalent of the middle finger salute on your frigging live show.
Still listening, so watch it!
Saturday, October 18, 2008
"No Parsley!" the fellow would answer. They kept this up for a year, each relentless in his hope and stone-faced refusal, respectively. It was all the fellow's fault- he started out by stocking parsley, then it all vanished. Just like all the change.
Friday, October 17, 2008
Idle tv-surfing gem: the promo of a new film titled-- wait for it--- Karzzzz. It stars Himesh Reshammiya. Instead of covering half his face with a baseball cap, he now uses his own hair for the same purpose. So the gem I witnessed was him singing a song titled--wait for it-- Tandoori Nights.
This is true. And, his heroine is the indefatigable Urmila Matondkar. Squirming under infra-red lights in a disco and pouting heroically to Tandoori Nights, she and the shiny-haired Himesh provided me much mirth; and more importantly, reassurance that our film-stars do after all have a sense of humor and are so willing to make fun of themselves.
Then a cruel blow struck. A few days later I saw Himesh talking about this very song in a serious interview and describing the creative process behind ta-tana-nana-tan-doori-nights, tan-doori nights......so this means it was not a joke.
Saturday, October 11, 2008
A couple of news items that stuck in my mind from the last couple of weeks. The picture of a German man who had a rare arm-reattachment surgery, on both arms. The man's smile was a radiant beacon of joy. What an amazing achievement! To reattach a person's two arms with such skill that he gets his life back! My admiration of surgeons continues.
Then, the embarassing media frenzy over poor old Big B being hospitalized with a stomach ache. Worse, it happened on the poor dear's birthday. Bas, the media literally tripped over themselves to get the best shot of the patient being carted off to the hospital accompanied by his son and daughter in law. I saw the clip of this. My God, it was horrifying. We sure have strange ways of showing our 'love' for these film stars, by suffocating them to such an extent that carrying on their daily lives becomes impossible for them. And come on, Bacchan is now an elderly man. Can't we at least let him go to the hospital in peace?
And the sad case of Sowmya Vishwanathan. A 25-year old TV producer in Delhi who got shot in the head on her way back home. What kind of city is this? Then again, it's not the city that matters. The pictures of the young woman that appeared in the newspaper were strangely haunting. A dazzling smile, full of life. I thought about her for a long time.
Thursday, October 09, 2008
The unemployed life is quite sweet. Suddenly there are many hours in a day, opening up before me each morning. Pleasures like going to the gym when I am the only person there. Walking on the sidewalks when there is least traffic. Drinking tender coconut on the side of the road listening to the conversations of the employed- their company ID tags (shudder) around their necks, their phones ringing, their watches ticking. Converting alcohol bottles into charming vases and buying orange gerberas to fill them with. Yes, indeedy.
"I'm afraid I have some news for you."
"You may never work again."
"You mean, like, I may never go to an office again?"
"It looks like it, I'm afraid."
"YAY! YAY! YAY!YAY!"
Wednesday, October 08, 2008
To begin with, I was a bit skeptical. Two things made it so. First, the very story- a girl who can talk to spices. And second, Aishwarya Rai. So I was quite curious to see what the effect would be, and I was not much surprised.
Rai is the title character, having learned her craft of divining the most suitable spice for a particular person based on her clairvoyance and her communication with the said spices. A kind of 'doctor', if you will. Background? She was kidnapped as a child, and while she was being borne off by her captors on a boat, she escaped and was washed up on a beach where she met an old lady who was known as the First Mother. This old lady (Zohra Sehgal, no less) teaches her and a bunch of other young girls all they need to be Mistresses of Spices. They are then dispatched to all major cities of the world to spread their healing powers and our heroine lands in San Fransisco.
She is named Tilo- after 'til', or sesame. Now all grown up, Tilo runs a store and dispenses kindness and spice mixtures to her mostly American customers. All is going well- Tilo is draped in pale sarees and has a sugar-tipped accent that barely betrays her Indian origins while she goes about bettering many lives. Then, one day, she spots a handsome (and I do mean handsome- it's Dylan Mc Dermott and his damned blue eyes) man outside her store. Uh oh!
But why is this a problem? Because the First Mother had warned her about the three strict rules of her trade- one, never to leave the store; two, to never touch another human's skin, and three, never to use the spices for her own desires. See how this poses a giant hurdle to Tilo getting with dreamy-guy-across the street? Comically, the red chillies in her store try to warn her of impending disaster. Alas, the plot leads the guy, Doug, into falling off from his bike and, bleeding hand and all, he arrives at Tilo's imaginatively-named Spice Bazaar.
This is where the full human-doe effect of Rai comes even more into play. Her pale, wide eyes, dewy lips and coy diction are further enhanced by relentless close-ups. The poor man Doug doesn't stand a chance. He's smitten. And who wouldn't be? Poor Rai, too. She is so ethereally beautiful that any performance she tries to squeeze out fades into the background.
Well then, suffice it to say that these two embark on what has to be among the most tepid love affairs one has seen on screen. Doug shares with her the story of his mother, a sub-plot that comes off as a bit weird. He also breaks it off with his current girlfriend because he's becoming besotted with the translucent, untouchable Tilo. But meanwhile, things start going wrong for Tilo, she stepping dangerously close to breaking the cardinal rules. Her spices start having disastrous effects on her patrons. At the end, she chooses to go back to the spices, abandoning Doug and her own desires. But there's a twist in the tale and all ends well.
Anupam Kher puts in a nice act as a grumpy traditional grandfather. Padma Lakshmi makes one unintentionally hilarious appearance as his granddaughter in an eye-popping pink shirt. The other cast members are ok- there is one sweet taxi-driver who insists on calling Tilo "lady-jaan", a title I've never heard in my life. Is it a Pakistani thing, I wonder. Ayesha Dharker is wasted as his neighbor and eventual fiancee.
Ultimately, the movie is undone by Rai's coyness and the desperate lack of chemistry with her hero. He, on his part, tries manfully to inject some passion into the proceedings. But what could he do? He doesn't even get to kiss her in the one half-hearted love scene. Also, Rai talking breathily with the spices, saying things like "thank you, spices!" is a bit of a mood-kill. The basic premise was an interesting concept, intriguing, even, but just did not translate well into film.
Tuesday, October 07, 2008
Friday, September 19, 2008
Well, so the day is finally here- Monday onwards, I will join the ranks of the gainfully unemployed. By choice, thankfully.
The world seems a big place now, rather than just the lavender-walled shell I have been living in for the past three years. (Yes, the office has lavender walls. )
I take it as a good sign that today is when they decided that toilet paper is now too heavy a cost for the company to bear.
Wednesday, September 03, 2008
The other day I read an entertaining article about Pakistanis' usages of English that were very similar to our own Indianisms. One peculiarity I've discovered recently here in Bangalore is the practice of addressing a person based on his occupation. So, you have "Auto!" and "Security!" These are, admittedly, better than the idiotic "Bhaiya" I've been guilty of using quite frequently.
What about the vegetable cart guys that come around every morning to sell to the nightie-clad housewives? I wonder if they are addressed as the Kannada word for "vegetables." I don't know if it's that generic or based on the particular veggie they are selling.
Speaking of Indian English, poor J has, in light of my constant Ingliss, started saying things like "where it is?" and "what I'll do?" Hmm.
Monday, September 01, 2008
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
It may just be my imagination, and I hope it is, but many people I know seem to be going through a difficult phase right now. It's either illness or financial burdens, or divorce or professional challenges. Sigh. Maybe it does have something to do with that solar eclipse after all.
After suffering through a nasty bout of illness and hospitalization (many, many needles), I feel compelled to post a juicy poem about happiness. Just to show that I can look on the bright side, dammit!
TODAY I WAS SO HAPPY, SO I MADE THIS POEM
By James Wright
As the plump squirrel scampers
Across the roof of the corncrib,
The moon suddenly stands up in the darkness,
And I see it is impossible to die.
Each moment of time is a mountain.
An eagle rejoices in the oak trees of heaven,
This is what I wanted.
Thursday, July 24, 2008
However, I soon started thinking about lightning and again came to the realization that I know nothing about it. If a kid asked me, "what causes lightning?" I would have to shoo it away and tell it to go play.
Then, this morning, I got a sign that I am in elite company in my ignorance- I read this.
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
to the white rind of the old and fading moon.
The second half of my life will be water
over the cracked floor of these desert years.
I will land on my feet this time,
knowing at least two languages and who
my friends are. I will dress for the
occasion, and my hair shall be
whatever color I please.
Everyone will go on celebrating the old
birthday, counting the years as usual,
but I will count myself new from this
inception, this imprint of my own desire.
The second half of my life will be swift,
past leaning fenceposts, a gravel shoulder,
asphalt tickets, the beckon of open road.
The second half of my life will be wide-eyed,
fingers shifting through fine sands,
arms loose at my sides, wandering feet.
There will be new dreams every night,
and the drapes will never be closed.
I will toss my string of keys into a deep
well and old letters into the grate.
The second half of my life will be ice
breaking up on the river, rains
soaking the fields, a hand
held out, a fire,and smoke going
upward, always up.
Monday, July 07, 2008
Friday, July 04, 2008
But since he is slavishly devoted to the father, maybe he will see reason if told to be fierce. After all, isn't he supposed to be territorial and fiercely aggressive towards strangers approaching his home?
Thursday, June 19, 2008
As it stands, the famous mugs to which mine has been compared elicit in me, mostly, an eye-roll. Some of these are- Asha Parekh, that lead singer from the Pussycat Dolls, Jennifer Lopez, and the latest and most bizarre- Indira Gandhi.
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
My answer was an emphatic Yes, most shades of purple being high on my favorites list. However, psychic abilities? Not so much, perhaps.
Oh wait, but I always know when I'm about to sneeze. Does that count?
Friday, June 13, 2008
Speaking of which, I am dying with curiosity to see what our brand-spanking-new airport looks like! I am tempted to unkindly say that after KL, it might be a hard act to follow, but that is just the cranky time traveler talking. So I will just see for myself whether dear old BIAL, which I will fly into near midnight tonight, Friday the 13th no less, will live up to my hopes.
In other news, I now know the Bahasa Malaysia words for "toilet" and "exit." And as this post heading shows, a phrase on the seatbacks, which I have forgotten the meaning of. (Oh, what an awful sentence- up with this sentence I will not put!)
There are many shiny little stores selling Versace and Dior. (Outside one swank store I saw a six-foot tall stunning girl and a mannequin-like guy talking animatedly and swinging luscious leather bags- it turned out they were shooting some sort of commercial. Immediately, a gang of desi boys stopped to gawk.)
I am beginning to feel like that Navorski guy Tom Hanks played in The Terminal. What to do only? Maybe I will walk around and make sure that in the midst of all my time-zone trickery, I have not missed my flight.
And the trio of monks gets up and serenely files to the aircraft.
Friday, June 06, 2008
Thursday, June 05, 2008
Leaned out a window.No cloud, no wind. Air that flowers held
for awhile. Some dove somewhere.
Been on probation most of my life. And
the rest of my life been condemned. So these moments
count for a lot—peace, you know.
Let the bucket of memory down into the well,
bring it up. Cool, cool minutes. No one
stirring, no plans. Just being there.
This is what the whole thing is about.
Thursday, May 29, 2008
However, to prove that he has a few tricks up his sleeve, the wily fox, what does he play today?
"Woh shaam kuch ajeeb thee
yeh shaam bhi ajeeb hai..."
I kid you not! And of course, like all good desis, the voice of Kishore immediately transported me back to the motherland and the good times. Even as my deliriously happy fingers type this, I can hear from the kitchen...
"poocho na yaar kya hua..."
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
And what can I say, I am stimulated almost to the point of tears every time I attack one of the things. I once attempted one on a plane, with a pen. Needless to say, that did not go well.
Monday, May 26, 2008
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
Not even the famous sneer of the waitress in that Japanese place where I asked for a fork--"forkkk?" has pushed me to the point where I strain mightily and finally learn.
Besides, I always reason that the food would take way too long to finish if I ended up using chopsticks. Uh huh.
Like today- the bowl of cold noodles topped with crunchy greens and spicy pork and wasabi and slivers of silvery cucumber- come on! I was overcome, again.
Yes, I asked for the fork again. And this time the waitress didn't sneer. She smiled and clinked the fork down without so much as an eye-brow raise. And so I shall continue speaking up for my rights even in the face of those two little spindly sticks everyone else knows how to eat with.
Monday, May 19, 2008
Sunday, May 18, 2008
Thursday, May 15, 2008
Tailor muttered, in his Hyderabadi accent, "nonsense kutta!"
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
Monday, May 12, 2008
But there used to be five.
Saturday, May 10, 2008
The film tells the story of one Henry Moores, a British planter ambitiously building a private road in Kerala's tea-country, ably helped by his assistant TK played by Rahul Bose. Then there is Nandita Das as the curiously-named Sajani, the domestic helper. It turns out that Moores' wife and child are away in England and he is carrying on with Sajani, who is also married- only, her husband is a brute of a man who likes her to wash his feet in a basin, beats her regularly and lives just one village away.
Inevitably, Mrs. Moores arrives back with their bland young son Peter. Inevitably, the brutish husband finds out about Sajani's affair. What happens next? Dramatic events, which will be spoilers, so I will refrain from telling all. Suffice it to say that this Moores is a roundly un-likeable character, Sajani is incredibly naive, and that leaves TK. And it is about him that I will now proceed to rant.
Friday, May 09, 2008
Then, as I straightened up and walked on, who should I spot but Mr. Bacchan, in profile with his mouth wide open. He is the star of some film called Bhoothnath. So that made three in-your-face Hindi movie promotions in this small-size theather in suburban California.
I was impressed, I'll admit. Even if, in the billboards outside, the sign for Before the Rains was followed by 'Indian Film.'
The producers of Tashan won't be happy if they knew that, I'm willing to bet.
Thursday, May 08, 2008
Wednesday, May 07, 2008
Tuesday, May 06, 2008
Monday, May 05, 2008
Friday, April 25, 2008
is lit, or so it seems to us:
this Vietnamese café, with its oily light,
its odors whose colorful shapes are like flowers.
Laughter and talking, the tick of chopsticks.
Beyond the glass, the wintry city
creaks like an ancient wooden bridge.
A great wind rushes under all of us.
The bigger the window, the more it trembles.
~ Ted Kooser
Thursday, April 24, 2008
Wednesday, April 16, 2008
A few minutes later, she takes your order. She whips out a writing pad about 4 inches square; as you say what you want, she makes a few slashes in this pad and nods. You realize the slashes are her own form of Chinese letters. She also performs a yanking action on a tiny elevaor chain that sends God-knows-what down to her cooks in a complex system of dining-room-to-kitchen- entropy that we don't understand. The levers and pulleys look like they are the same as when they were built, perhaps in 1925 or so.
The food arrives, in large white bowls, steaming and filled with bits of spiced pork, vegetables, rich noodles, broth, good stuff. We eat.
After we pay and are on our way downstairs again, we hear her yelling down to the cooks: "Leven niney fi!"
Later, I take my first cable car ride. As the car moves steeply up past the Embarcadero and the wind howls in my ears, I suddenly want her to bring me food again.
Friday, April 11, 2008
Thursday, April 03, 2008
Friday, March 07, 2008
I thought about Bangalore and its chaos. Its rowdy universe, even when viewed from the sky.
Back at my seat, the set of jolly Norwegians I was trapped with was asleep. I can never sleep on a plane. But this time I slept through most of Europe.
London did not thrill me.
I hope L.A. will.
Monday, March 03, 2008
The other note: What happened to Prince Harry? After having ignored him for all of his 23 years because he had red hair and too-big ears, I suddenly find that he has bloomed! So much so that he may even provide serious competition to his brother, the toothsome Will. A tour of duty in brutal Afghanistan did the trick, it appears. Well!
Sunday, March 02, 2008
Friday, February 29, 2008
Unexpectedly successful weekend trips have to be among the best things in life, no? One such trip was had last weekend to Pondicherry, er..Puducherry. But let's just stick with the former name. Anyway, this trip happened as a diversion to a rather stressful three days in Chennai.
Wednesday, February 27, 2008
Tuesday, February 12, 2008
The first time I saw this, I was in the middle of banging pots and pans together because the water wouldn't boil fast enough for my two-minute noodles. Spontaneously, I answered, "Because I was born in 1988!"
Then it struck me: the sheer hilarity of it. Twenty-year-olds should not be made to stump for youth-enhancing products. It's cruel.