November 29, 2006

Ticketed torture

Booking train tickets has always been a ritual associated with long hours of waiting at paan-spit covered railway stations and some gutsy tussles and struggles.

A few days back, when I sat down to book tickets for the Konark Express, online, in style, i filled long registration forms that asked me about everything I thought I knew and they knew. After filling a few such forms, my attempts met their unworthy end at 'Cannot Find Server'.

I tried again, and this time, I reached the end. Almost. When I told them I would de(is)credit myself using a certain credit card, they promptly approved of my decision by saying 'Opening &&^*(&^%^&U&*. And then, the screen ended with a 'done', on a whitescreen as white as the mogra in Umrao Jaan's tresses.

With 3 seats on the train still up for sale, I went to Andheri station like my pants were on fire. I took the pink form and filled it up with a pen purchased from outside the station and then stood in a queue. The person taking care of this snake was off on a chai break 30 minutes before his duty ended. The line did proceed, with the velocity of a thousand page tome on boredom. 10 minutes before they were due to close, i.e. at 8, a kind officer announced that only two other queues would continue functioning post 8 pm. Not being very good at the art of pre-empting stampedes, I landed up at the back of one of these lines. Then the guy at this counter went for his chai.

He came back and slowly and slowly I reached the head of the line. I shoved my pink slip at him, tried to flutter my eyelashes (that are not very long and are quite prone to falling off, considering that I get ample opportunities to make wishes with one of them on my knuckle) and ask him for AC tickets, but he only had to say - AC sab khatam hain. Not wanting to lose the precious seat on the train, I settled for a 3 day adventure in the sleeper class compartment.
So that is how I spent an otherwise enjoyable Thursday evening, in a heady (as in .....headache giving) race for railing...

The man-eateries of Virar: A forced one-night stand with DEATH.

The Virar idiots who used to jump into trains before people get off them always irritated me. No offence to all the nice Virar people, and yes, the 'nice' people breed also exists, but this group of Virar idiots took the cake with their levels of unruliness.

Living at Andheri, it is unfortunate that we are expected to take slow trains if we choose to complain about the crowds that manhandle us every day. The Virar fast I took today left Marine Lines at 5.22 pm. It was quite peaceful all the way till Andheri station.

Whe the train careened into the station out here at Andheri, a few metres away from the place where the first-class ladies's halts, this woman on the platform screamed at me to get out of the train. I told her - Wait, let it stop. Paying no heed to my words, she kicked me out, like KICKED me, and I fell on this group of ladies, who promptly moved aside, let me fall and then stepped over me and got into the train. No one made any attempt to help me up, despite the fact that my legs were in a precarious position under the train and I could have lost my legs and probably my life. All they said was an absolutely inhuman - Chalo hato, train me chadhna hain.

When dance means so much to you and you can see your legs and your life getting stubbed out in a matter of seconds. It was not very funny to be stuck with people WALKING AND RUNNING OVER YOU just to reach their fcuking homes to cook fcuking dal and rice for their families. While struggling to move myself away from the train, I could see my bleak future flashing like this presentation gone crazy. Thanks to someone's grace or whatever you would call it, I managed to get away from the train. I recovered enough to scream. I screamed at every single woman in the train. I spotted the shit-eating false-pouty red lip-sticked and lipsticked sindoor woman standing comfortably in the train and yelled at her as if my life depended on it. The bitch had the gall to say - Who me? Like bloody bitch, you almost murdered me and then you say - Who me? Wow! You put Osama to shame! He atleast acknowledges that he is responsible for his wrongdoings.

I called her a lot of unprintable things that will cause the spellcheckers at Blogger to blush and that stirred up the whole platform and made all the women think I was one of those shameless firang-import hussies. Not that I care.

I have a lot of plans for her, like taking my camera and going to the station and capturing her live, doing those things to other people. But how far will they help?

I met the station superintendent to apprise him of this ugly incident. He told me not to get into fast trains, albeit very politely. He directed me to the police station, where the inspector wistfully told me about a policy at Dadar station where such unworthy passengers were pushed behind with lathis. This received a lot of bad publicity. I tried my best to assure him that most of the women from Virar needed exactly this kind of treatment to bring them back to their senses. This inspector also tried to hint that we Andheri women were no less unruly during the peak hours in the morning. Yes, we yell at people who block the doors ( and this is something that Virar women do quite if they own the train since it comes from that pokey little village they live in) and also when they don't get off fast enough, but we never rush in before the last person to alight has both her feet on the ground. Afterwards, we push and jostle, but that is all among fellow Andheri-ites, and it rarely happens that someone who wanted to get off at Andheri cannot do so because they were not allowed to.

We praise Bombay to the skies for its humanity. Today, I discovered trhe wonderful sense of humanity that lets you walk over a person just to catch a frigging train, which is not the last train home. As if taking that one train late, a difference of five minutes, will permanently make or mar your future. Even though there's such a big discount if you miss one train. Your profit is one human life.

November 15, 2006

A saristory

Of late, I have been indulging in quite a bit of sari shopping, and am more seasoned. It is quite educative to see how diminutive guys who shrink obsequiously behind glossy and glassy counters and are whose hip tilts are more feminine than Umrao Jaan's play fashion pundits for most of the sari-clad population.

The last time I was at Nalli Silks, hellbent on buying cotton, the fashion pundit in drag kept his sweet banter on, telling me that I would look gorgeous in an ostentatiously expensive silk sari that shone like a sheet of the horrible glitter people rub on their faces these days. He battled hard to save their reputation for 'YEXCLIUSIVE PIECE MADAM.....VONLY VONE....HANDLOOMA MAIDE', which was the gyaan he imparted every time I asked him for a colour in a pattern I liked.

It is not always funny when they decide to anticipate your innermost desires, you see. And then he started showing me cotton saris in styles which neither my grandmother nor my grandchildren will ever wear. The sales pitch - It is latest style, all the young girls buy like this only. And when I make a few staid but innovative choices, he remarks to my mother - You have got a vyery vold-fashioned daaterr. Of course, mommy dearest, with also those roses on her kanjivaram filling up the space between her ears, laughs shyly and says it is better her taste doesn't make my bank balance go stale. Our fashion pundit enthusiastically agrees, for he still has to sell a few pieces of 'dress material'.

The rest is quite predictable. He sells absolutely sucky looking dress material to us and bids goodbye with much bowing and scraping.

After that we go to Co-Optex just to 'take a look', which never happens of course, and we end up donating money to the Tamil Nadu handloom industry again. The difference here is, there are no fashion pundits but surly women who refuse to take down a sari from its dusty pedestal unless I promise to buy it.

Today, I had to go for an urgent sari to Dadar. We go to Silk Museum. I ask him to show me something from East India. He shows me Pochampalli saris and agrees that they are what they are only when I point that out to him. I tell him I have enough Pochampalli around the house to start a shop myself and will contact him surely if I need some more.

We then go to the cotton section of the silk museum. Here, the wannabe fashion pundits pulls down the whole rack without sanction and with abandon before he realises that....he will have to put it back all by himself. He tries to sell me Garhwal cotton with saas-bahu prints, orange organdy saris of the kind worn in pure and clean daughter-in-law ads and some more undesirable stuff. Finally I see one the more eminently wearable saris crucified on the wall at an unflattering height. It is rescued and sold off with statements like - Only one sari madam? Hamara museum hain kuch to aur kharidiyen aap...

Manish Malhotra may probably make it to the Forbes 500 if he opens a sari shop and gets behind the counter...

October 24, 2006

Hiya again

Hey guys...exams it's time to rest......comp free time indeed !
Happy Diwali

October 07, 2006

Disjointed thoughts

It is a long time since I actually enjoyed myself. I've been getting a bit too serious of late and I don't know where my frivolous self got lost. My sister has been nagging me to hear a few songs from American Blend, for what seems like ages. I finally decided to do it today. One of them was a Kathak rap piece and it was so much fun. I suddenly stood up and started dancing. Pure bliss.

My pic for the UK Visa got rejected by the consulate. Apparently my head is so big that while scanning it, it just got cut off! Never in my life have I heard something so amusing. Of course, a certain nest will be very happy to have a confirmation from the consulate on my bigheadedness.

Have to watch three movies for Journalism paper. All of them are interesting in normal contexts, but boring when you have to interpret stuff. Why do we have to try and interpret every shitty thing in this world? And that too in like a minute ot two...Why can't we just sit back and learn to admire things?

Right now, I'm listening to the trailer of Syriana unfold in bits of sound that sound like belches by really farty people. How blissful !

And I always feel so sleepy all the time. If there was a Best Sleeper of the Year Award, it would go to me, and I don't think I would have any competition.

Exam are due in two days, as usual I've studied nothing, as usual I plan to pass. Let us see what happens. Some no-nonsense teachers this time will screw ass if we don't study, whereas some yace that alsos can be handled. Anyway, Jai Exam-mata ki ! Lol. I hope that pleases the exam you have Malhar for rain, we can have a Raga Tapishxam for exams...let us see if I find the time to compose one. But it will always be sung only in Tar saptak! It is a high-tension Raga, you see...Divyak can sing it in his comedy style...then the college authorities will be driven to this pinnacle of madness and they will decide to abolish exams and loads of paper notes and will teach us all to sing:

Sa se socio ko maaro

Aur re se reports phaado

Geography ko chodo aur ab ga oo google gan

Sa re ga, arre ka hain padhai ma?

Ma se Mathematics, ka hua antim sanskar

Pa se Psychology, ka sikha sahi istimal

Dha se Dannnn Dannn Dannn Dannn, nahi bajegi black-list ki dhun

Ni se le Nirvana, aur ho jaa ab golmaal !

Sa re ga ma pa dha ni, arre ga Teacher ga teacher

Sa re ga ma pa dha ni sa, pa dha ee ko de de chou ka

Sa re ga ma pa dha ni sa, pa dha ee ko de de chou ka

Sa re ga ma pa dha ni sa, pa dha ee ko de de chou ka

After reading this, I would probably qualify for employment as the court jester in the Janpathwa of apna Biharwa...aka Laloonagar. What say, Laloo uncle?

September 26, 2006

Train trilling

Two little kids got into the train at Andheri with me today. One of them carried a harmonium. She positioned herself against the pole on the Dadar side and started belting out one of the latest songs. Her companion, who seemed like her younger sister, started dancing. The dancer must have been around 6. She knew a few steps and went on repeating them in such a cute manner. Around Khar, she went into one of the 'seat racks' ( too small to be called anything else) and started dancing. When faced with a dearth of steps she promptly attached her hands to the top of her head, as if she were a teddy bear with two ears, and continued twirling around.

I got talking to them and they told me they live at Mumbra and go to a Telugu-medium school after 4 pm every day. They are taught to sing by their brother. Every time I see one of them, I am faced with one dilemma - whether to give them money or not. These kids by themselves are really sweet, but the money goes elsewhere, so I am adamant about not giving it to them. This time I could not resist...they were way too cute for it.

It would be interesting to do a project on them.

September 23, 2006


Most projects done......but am too sleepy to post. :)

Exams will be here in 10 days.

September 09, 2006

Sleepy update

Hola !

Long silence thanks to projects, the people who matter because of the projects and so on. No sleep. In short, sprawled over the bench in class. Today Vara ma'am caught me sleeping in her class, and at the end of the lecture, in all seriousness, she told me I shouldn't make it a habit, and I felt so horribly ironic inside...since that is what it seems to have become. Really. I should stop sleeping like that.

Watched an Alfred Hitchcock movie at Ipsita's place, which was good fun. Had a self-made frankie, which was umm...edible.

Did a good deed...or so I think......when we got down at Jogeshwari there was bigtime track crossing going on. In front of two passive policemen. I marched up to them and asked them why they weren't doing anything and the policeman gave me some crap on how one person could not stop the hundreds crossing the track. Anyway we started making quite a scene about it and insulted and abused a few dumbos who crossed it in front of us, and then the policeman promised that he would get the receipts from Andheri station and start fining people from Monday.

September 03, 2006

Look-out (Actually, look out !)

From the past few days, I've heard a lot of people say......" Yes, but this is not MY look-out." So you can have 48 hour days, fall ill, go die, but as long as you do my work, that is not my look-out. How cool is that !

Yes, doing your work on time and with complete efficiency is very good, but if you can't, you may actually have a valid point.

Has the world lost all its sensitivity? There are times when you just cannot do stuff. Is one line saying that the other person does not care because it does not concern his or her connection with you enough to absolve any need for concern or some humane behaviour?

I majorly have to go to sleep and I'll post later. But hey, that's not your lookout, is it?

August 20, 2006

Alfred Theatre

That is a pic of Alfred Theatre, which is located on Falkland Road in Bombay, just at the start of the red-light area that lies ahead. Rahi and me even had a walk through it the other day, though some policemen expressed their disapproval at our plans.

August 09, 2006

It's clarification time !

A disclaimer, or as I'd like to put it - a clarification, is due here. It is relevant to everyone who happens to read my blog.

I have posted stuff in the past that makes a few friends, teachers and others I know real scapegoats. That doesn't mean that I hate them and I'm going out of my way to make every effort to malign them. Seriously, I don't even have the time to take their cases that seriously (and badly). Preparing arcane presentations on equally arcane topics really gets to me at times, which is when I need a break from such 'goody-two-shoes' activities. And it doesn't even help that I have a pathetic concentration span, and that I'm quite notorious for dozing off in lectures of EVERY SINGLE SUBJECT atleast once.

My life mostly revolves around dance, music, reading and writing. If I dance at home, my sweet neighbours from downstairs will come to exchange notes with me on the finer points of what I should be doing at home (and what I shouldn't). Common cold is a dysfunctional Siamese twin I've resigned myself to living with. And this nemesis of mine only cares about encroaching on my vocal chords.

Reading, goes on, and is what I'm doing most of the time. Punctuated by some writing.....remember Newton's third law - Every action generates an equal and opposite reaction (If it's wrong, I was always bad at Physics. If it's right, I have a spectacular memory!). Coming back to writing, over two years of soporific sessions of Physics and Chemistry and the like, I realised that what I liked most was drawing inspiration from the world around me.

I am a person who really doesn't care about what the world thinks of me as long as a few people who matter continue to love me (Yes, even I'm a sentimental little cow at times). Hence I guess it was natural for me to assume that the people I wrote about, in what I thought was a humorous manner, would take my posts in the right spirit if they happened to read them. I think I was wrong.

There are many earth-shattering ideas that can emerge from an 18-year-old's head, but slander is definitely not one of them. What I did was just draw from certain characteristics or mannerisms of the people around me, give them a humorous and slightly unnerving explanation at times, and post that on my blog. I looked at these people from a writer's point of view. If I actually hated them or had a problem with those mannerisms/characteristics I observed, I would probably go up to them and say that in their face. I have done that in the past and got into trouble for it. But I think that is better than letting a negative emotion like hate brew into a volcano of enormous proportions that could take a mean and dangerous face.

And if a post feels slightly naughty, that does not stem from any 'hidden' emotion. It is one of my ways of pulling people's legs. So, to put it in one line, my style basically banks on all the factors I just mentioned.

Many of my acquaintances find me uncomfortably blunt, and this has been on for a very long time. But I still believe I have more friends than enemies.

I will try to rid myself of the belief that the 21st century has ushered in a new school of thought, where people live not only in the passive freedom that the constitution provides, but also in the knowledge that they are not going to be tagged down by the weight of opinion, be it relevant or irrelevant.

If anyone finds anything offensive, please feel free to post a comment explaining why. Though I don't promise to rein in my tongue and my pen, it may help change my skewed and incorrect perception of the glass being half-full and I may be able to discuss issues and explain my side of the story in a more lucid manner.

PS: Don't you think the word lucid breathes 'boring'? Because EVERY textbook that says it is lucid actually means it is one of the most boring reads on earth !

August 07, 2006

Malhar miff-ing

The other day, I was in college for my Heras work. It so happened that the elimination rounds for Malhar were on.

The college was swarming with volunteers in black and other hues. Now, now, xatriotic Xavierites, I have nothing against Malhar, after all, it's something I'm proud of too. But instead of making me feel at home, the behaviour of certain security and assistance volunteers was so putting off that they made me feel like an intruder in my own college.

Many of them gave me this 'Why are you in college if you are not here for Malhar?' thing. Sweetoes, you need to know, there is a lot more to St. Xavier's College apart from Malhar and other predictable things.

Like how many of us knew the reference library was open last Saturday ?

July 22, 2006

Minding our 'P's' and 'Q's'

I travel by the local trains in Bombay everyday, and it pains me to see how basic norms involving discipline and respect for co-passengers are flouted with ALARMING regularity. And the 'fairer, weaker' sex, certainly does not seem weak when one is a witness to their brand of cavalier behaviour.

There are two or three things that really irritate me.....

A) Scene One: You enter the train and voraciously wolf down food from a packet. After you feel satiated, you chuck the packet right out of the window.

Scene Two:It is a rainy day. The Mithi river begins to overflow and trains come to a halt. We all get together to 'raise our voices' against everyone from the Chief Minister to the BMC Commissioner. Because the Mithi river is clogged and they fail to clean it up. Now, all the garbage we chuck on the tracks also contributes to the multitude of garbage in Bombay to some extent. If we want change, it has to begin with us. Yes, us.

B) This is still fresh in my mind. Everytime a Virar-bound fast train rolls into Andheri, people rush into it without waiting for passengers to alight. Today, I was in one such train at six in the evening, and it was almost empty by usual standards when it reached Andheri. There were only four people waiting to get off the train. The first two jumped off before the train came to a complete halt, and then it was just Ipsita and me waiting at the doors. But without caring to see if our feet had landed on the platform, the Virar people just pushed us aside and jumped in. I managed to get out safely, but Ipsita was in a real predicament, what with one leg on the train and another on the platform. After pulling her out, I just couldn't take it anymore and yelled at this fat old dame who went in by pushing Ipsita into that dangerous position. I called her a stupid fool and told her that she needed a dose of civic sense. I'm surprised I didn't use any of the colourful Bambaiya statements that I had practised on Reuben just an hour earlier. As a parting shot, I shouted into the train window, "You call yourself first-class citizens, do you ?"
Many people on the compartment gave me this 'do you think you own the train?' look, but I couldn't care less, since it becomes all the more irritating when I know that Andheri-ites don't reciprocate their behaviour. When the same people pour out of trains at Andheri in the morning, like an insult to family planning, we give them a fair and square chance to get off before clambering in. Although I agree that people sometimes yell at them to get off soon, they WAIT before entering the train, despite the second-hand treatment they receive in the evenings themselves.

C) In crowded trains to Virar, the demand for a seat is quite high, and people 'reserve' seats with other passengers who get off earlier. So, once they enter the train, they aggresively shake everyone and ask them 'Kaha utarna hain ? ' (Where do you have to get down?). Sometimes, there are these extremely tired people who are fast asleep and are rudely shaken awake only to be asked - 'When you will you get your magnificent posterior off the seat ?'

Before the station issues a railway pass, they should put the person in question through an etiquette course. And make money on that. Really, I should be the next Finance Minister of India ! India's GDP will exceed that of both the US and China put together in one year flat !!!

A letter to the Prime Minister

Dear Mr. Manmohan Singh (and the others who matter),

I am a resident of Mumbai, the very city that was brutalised by the horrendous blasts on July 11. I travel by the same trains that were turned into arenas of mass murder and massacre on that particular day.

Being a Mumbaikar had somehow made me used to disaster. Whether it was 26/7, or the recent showers in the first week of July, I carried on through them, with an air of 'resilience' and nonchalance. But 11/7 touched a raw nerve somewhere deep down. For two reasons; terrorists from any school of thought have no right to vandalise my city and the lives of its people just to prove a point, and, secondly, I'm tired of all and sundry praising our ability to be back with a bang, our 'resilience', as they call it.

I am tired of grinning and bearing everything. I don't expect you to give me a Shanghai, but I want a city which feels loved, a city that embraces everything and maintains a secular identity, not just in a farcical way, a city whose streets do not tremble and shudder with the gloomy promise of bombs, blood and gore.

Post-July 11 , you seem to be working towards my dream city. It feels nice to know that. But at the same time, you are doing it by taking my freedom of expression away, as also that of many other fellow Indians.

I always feel proud whenever I come across the line in the Indian constitution that says - Every Indian has a right to freedom of expression. It reminds me that I live in a country that keeps it head on its shoulders, the world's largest democracy. The internet is an extremely powerful medium today and its potential can be viewed both in a negative and positive manner. But, the blanket ban on blogs originating from certain websites, shook my faith in the 'freedom of expression' that you propagate. When you block millions of blogs so that precisely 20 'incriminating' sites and blogs are not accessible, it is just plain, and plain ridiculous. Of course, there were a hundred other ways to circumvent the ban and access any of the millions of 'innocent' blogs. But the bottomline is - my democratic and egalitarian government actually breached the constitution in such a big way. Didn't you ?

There is talk that the blanket ban was the result of a communication gap. Surely a government that considers itself capable of running a country with over one billion people should not be prone to 'communication gaps'?

With due respect to both you and your cabinet mates, all of you are where you are thanks to me and my fellow citizens. I wish to know why you chose to react to this wave of terrorism in an extremely paranoid and unjustified fashion. I love my city, but I also care about OUR rights.

Hopefully there shall be no communication gaps this time.

Yours sincerely,
Ranjana Dave

July 19, 2006

News bulletin

Life is just so hectic...but things are getting done.

Loony ..... will be pleased to know I attached two inches of modesty to eight of my kurtas.

Music exams in two weeks. I'm s...d (royally)

Did I actually abbreviate that swear word out there ? After all, there is no e-Varalakshmi ma'am. And I guess blogging is one of those 'outside class' activities !

July 09, 2006

Banjaran goes ballistic in Bombay !

We all tend to discard ideas and move towards newer horizons, so much so that the old ones seem redundant and are sometimes found ridiculous.

If someone walks on the road dressed in leaves, it is going to cause a lot of furore. But hell, that was the 'in' thing a few thousand years ago !

I am one of that endangered minority of peope who still believe that some of the old is gold. And it's indeed very amusing to see people's reactions to my personification of old.

When I fancy it, I wear half-saris to college. My idea of a half-sari is a snazzy long skirt with a cute top, and a dupatta. Yes, I can claim to have 'reinvented' it.

Every time I wear it, I have an exceedingly humorous day. This is what happened yesterday, when I again chose to indulge in my passion for the old.

Right from the time I stepped out of the house, every functional eye was on me. Since I'm pretty used to the stares that come along with this, I don't bother much.

The first hilarious instance was in the train, when I entered the first-class ladies compartment. After a minute of unabashed, silent, flabbergasted staring, people had decided that I was a Banjaran who just landed from Rajasthan or someplace like that ( thank you Vara ma'am for the 'Banjaran' !) . Every single lady in the compartment wanted to be the self-righteous protector of her first-class status and hence every single one of them was bursting to tell me 'Yeh first-class hain. Second-class compartment aage hain.' (Translation: This is first-class. The second class coach is ahead.)

When I removed my cellphone to answer a call, it only compounded their worries. A Banjaran with a cellphone ?

Not that it quelled their doubts completely, on the contrary, it left them all the more intrigued.

At Dadar, a ticket collector entered the compartment asking for our passes. Again, every single eye, this time both functional and non-functional was on me, while I fished out my pass and showed it to the collector, who moved on with a satisfied look.

This totally sent them into oceans of confusion. A Banjaran with a cellphone, a first-class pass, and she also speaks English. They realised that, if they want to addle their brains any more, it was best not to dwell on me for even a second more.

While walking along the roads of Marine Lines, the old reactions of incredulity were replayed time and again. As I entered college, I noticed the scores of junior college aspirants standing around with their equally nervous parents. An already harried mother at the end of a long line of students noticed me and was shocked to death when she saw what I was wearing, she immediately started arguing with her kid that this was why she should not study at St. Xavier's College, it was full of weirdos.

My class is pretty much used to my capers, but they still felt it could 'match' a little more. To hell with matching. Who said red is to be worn only with yellow and so on ? In the foyer, many people actually came up to me and asked me what I was wearing, with this big look of disbelief on their faces.

The same thing repeated itself on my way home, albeit in a smaller way. When I passed through a slum shortcut to reach Smitalay, a group of women who saw me stopped chatting and one of them actually lamented about how Bombay was going down the dumps with its insanity within my hearing !

We need a dose of ancient Indian culture, don't we ?

Building walls

The other day, during journalism class, we had an interesting discussion on the difference between being a melting pot and being multi-cultural. One of the issues that came up was - Is it right to have Hindi as our national language ?

The argument against it being - Hindi is basically a language used in the 'cowbelt'. In south India, the language is neither prevalent nor is it spoken on a large scale. In Tamil Nadu, and also in Karnataka to some extent, some people just refuse to speak to you in anything but the local language.

This debate went on about whether it is pragmatic to be familiar with the local language rather than just depending on the national one. Also, people questioned the use of English, that is not Indian in origin, as a unifying medium.

There was also someone who emphatically stated that 'India' is a very Aryan name since it originates from 'Indus'.

With everyone standing up for either Hindi or her / his local language, I began to wonder whether it is necessary to divide goegraphical expanses on the basis of linguistic differences. And when people kept reiterating things on the lines of ' English has usurped India, our great country', and spoke in a terribly anti-Pakistan manner, I was even more amused. Sixty years ago, there was no Pakistan, and the people in Lahore were as Indian as you or I am. Two thousand years ago, there was no India and we were all a part of Jambhudweepa, the great expanse of land that encompassed Europe and Asia. When, then, did these impenetrable walls of dialect arise ?

Romping on rampage-diesel

I watched the film 'Rang De Basanti' almost completely today. I've always liked the songs in the movie, and I knew of the theme too.

In the movie, a group of youngsters, disillusioned with the lackadaisical and corrupt political scene, takes things into its own hands and uses some pretty extreme means to bring out the corruption among politicians. While watching the part where a politician blames an honest pilot for a planecrash, I had a strong sense of deja vu. So many times, innocent people get the brickbats. For every Medha Patkar who rallies for the people, we have hundreds of unsung heroes who may be doing much more, whose voices get buried in the shifty, sands of time, that are so tinged with evil that they begin to personify evil.

In an uncanny coincidence, the Shiv Sena anounced a bandh here in Bombay. The reason - Late Meena Thackeray 's statue was smeared with mud. With due respect to Meena Thackeray and the rest of the Shiv Sena, why didn't they go on strike when people's lives and houses were not only smeared, but washed away by mud during the July 26 deluge ? Also, the people who could justifiably rant and rave against the government's grave inadequacies chose to do it in a more peaceful and dignified manner. They didn't go around torching buses and forcibly choking the life out of a vibrant city like Bombay BECAUSE they were victims of negligence and the consequence-bearers of some serious fallacies.

Yes, they have an ideology like everyone else, and have every right to have one, as long as innocent lives and a city's heartbeat are not at stake when they begin to interpret it.

But, they don't want to listen. Do they ?

June 25, 2006

Changing the world.......but life goes on

And life goes on.

Our college orientation happens today, like in the morning, at 10 am. Another generation of BMM students will enter the hallowed portals of our ancient college hall and stare in awe at the 'Provocans ad volandum' that stands guard over the stage. They will listen in earnest to long-winding speeches by countless teachers and a few distinguished media persons. They will intelligently introduce themselves to us, their seniors. When the time comes for the free pizza round ( official briefing ditties like these are often followed by a complimentary pizza and coke, which is why most of us turn up), reverse snobbery comes into place while they watch their very epitomes of inspiration, their exalted seniors, go the uncivilised way and act like they've been starved for ages.

Then from the day after that, they come to college with this crown saying 'media student' trying to rest on their heads. They want to believe they are a class apart and so they do !

They all come with dreams. From Borivali, from Bokaro, and maybe even from Baltimore. All of them strive to be different. They all take their personal oaths; they make it their mission - changing the world that is. They lament the state of the 'media' and expostulate about the honesty and transparency that they will usher into this world and so on. Almost making it seem like the world will erupt in a hundred tehelkas.

Then they come to second year. View their juniors with a bit of mixed derision, sadness and nostalgia.

Nostalgia. Sad word it is.

Then they go to third year. Graduate. Look for jobs. Settle into the same mundane 'media' routine. Say that the system is full of rot, you just can't change it. They merge. Lose their identity and facelessly step into the rot.

And another generation of media students has been lost to the quicksand.

And life goes on.

June 20, 2006

Cama-nator !!

One week of college is last. Lectures have begun, the railway concession bit is over, life is exciting !

Aha.......there you are ! The railway concession story. Well, out here, we get railway passes at half the price to commute to college from home. For that, we have to collect a form stamped by the college so that the railways know that we are college kids and not just old little quasi-teenyboppers who want to save money.

In St. Xavier's, this is handled by a generally surly clerk called Ms. Cama, and whoever manages to get her is honoured with the title of a 'Cama-nator'. She dismisses even the slightly erroneous form with a sense of alacrity that even the snootiest celebrity would envy.

A normal rail-o-ordeale consists of:
1) Collect concession form
2) Fill it up scrupulously
3) Check it once
4) Double-check it twice
5) Triple-check it thrice
6) Steel your nerves...keep all your railway ammunition in your hands
7) Ready steady go......You are at the head of the line, in front of Cama, who makes the most corpulent Brazilian bull seem redundant.
8) Version one: She throws the form at you with a guttural grunt, without deeming it fit to explain why you lost the war.
Version two: Her grunt of grudging approval confirms your triumph, she then hurls a token number at you, as if it were a missile.

Well, that is not the end, and the battle goes on, but I assume this will suffice to unnerve you for today.

Au revoir !

June 11, 2006

College begins tomorrow !

College begins tomorrow. Some how, its just nice to go back to that place. I haven't been there for almost three months !

I'll have to start sleeping earlier. I can't exactly sleep at two and wake-up at six.

Spent a lot of time updating the Smitalay site. Am just a novice at Frontpage, and there's still a lot more to do.

The college admission bit here has commenced. Was just speaking to a girl who wants to do her BMM and she told me how she's sitting with these tomes and trying to know the capitals of various countries, currencies, the longest, largest bit, and so on. I mean, the ideas coaching classes put into people's heads. This is one entrance exam where you don't need coaching, it's basically about life and the world. At this rate, we will soon have coaching for foetuses, so that they know how to enter the world with style.

I have a lot of things to say, but sleep beckons. Ciao soon !

June 08, 2006

Thumbs-down to .....

It is so easy to decide that your opinions hold good, without investigating the incident or hearing both sides of the story. Thumbs-down to such s^*&ers.

June 04, 2006

Item number Tagore style !

I'm watching this stage version of one of Rabindranath Tagore's plays on ETV Bangla. It has some elements of Odissi in it, a bit of the abhinaya, some of the dance movements. From all the actors, I think the female lead is Rituparna Ghosh, and one of the six female dancers is Dona Ganguly according to a friend.

It showed this princess in all a flimsy spaghetti ghaghra, more suited to an item song from a raunchy Hindi movie than to an ancient Indian coquette. And she kept flashing all these Dilwale Dulhaniya kinds of smiles at her attendants. I'm surprised to see that no self-appointed critic seemed to notice THIS, when much subtler things are milked left, right and centre, day in and day out.

And when her lover doesn't turn up to marry her, she goes looking for him and begins to dance, well all she did was lift her legs and bring it forward, then take it behind. She kept repeating the same movements again and again. My, all this while her lover was supposed to secretly watching and I'm surprised he didn't get bored and go off to sleep !

May 27, 2006

Bangalore bangs to the head

Sitting and wallowing in the stew of boredom, desperately waiting for college to begin, my mind harks back to the enjoyable month I spent working for The Hindu in Bangalore. Today, I was in this horrendous mood, and I felt like setting the whole of my neighbourood library on fire, since I'm bored of the potboilerish stuff in there.

Well, I was forced to rely on my head for sanity, and thus I began reliving those fun days. I still remember the time we organised that Mock CET thing and then sat to correct what seemed like millions of papers in a hurry. Around ten of us sat in the boardroom, trying to moderate what seemed like very bleak futures. One of us, I think that was Varnika...decided to write the key to the papers on the whiteboard and she did that. Except that she used a permanent marker. And that a pivotal board meeting was about to begin in the next five minutes.

Then the day I did Desk duty in its full splendour, right from Around the City to Cinema listings to the killing engagements column. Thank God I was not alone, and with Shayan, who kept me from ramming my fist into the monitor or killing whom I thought was the only bitch in office. Throughout that one-and-a-half-hour ordeal of sheer monotony which was surely designed by some sadistic Dementor of an editor to kill his poor employees, I kept passing snide comments of various hues about that certain someone. Shayan ! I used to give her endless lectures on the history of Indian classical dance, and though she had categorically stated that she had no interest in that particular topic, she kept allowing herself to be subjected to my monologues !

All the babes from Mount Carmel and Christ colleges came in almost at the end of my internship, and I felt like a veteran of sorts in comparision to them. I felt they were a bit too scared....after that witch at Wizcraft, I was determined not to let anyone trample on my self-esteem. Well about those co-interns of mine, I felt some of them were a bit too lazy. The internship was compulsory for them, so I could really understand how hard it was for someof them, who didn't plan to make a career in journalism. But many of them began shirking work and trying to claim other's work as their own, and that was what made me angry. And the way FIVE of them would have a glorified gossip session over a very simple five minute event that needed to be covered was plain AMUSING !

Leesa and Rupal from Manipal were a sweet pair. Rupal had tagged along just because Leesa was into print. Initially, I found her pretty irritating, I would privately term her as a 'standing on your face' kind of person, and I seriously felt she said a lot more than was needed, (that coming from an outspoken person like me, means a lot !), but then I kind of understood it was her nature not to be diplomatic and say things in a manner that would have all the staffers pointing their horns at her.

The permanent staff at The Hindu lacked one thing. A big attitude that screamed 'I know more than you and I am better than you.' At no point did any of them try to act like pedagogic characters and try to teach us journalism. They respected my opinions, my views and took them into consideration. And used them too. I was pretty irked by some of the newspaper's policies, but never by its staff.

When I left the place, I spoke to one of the top officials that day, and this guy's attitude towards some communal issues was a rude shock. But it was good to know that the person in question did not seems to force personal views on a paper....

Chitra, the diminutive Arien, the gal at the second computer, who introduced me to the canteen lunch. It was ideal for a broke person, but I never dared to try it out, preferring to walk the one km or so to KC Das for my luchis followed by gulab jamun. But, the two days I had lunch in the office canteen with, they had potato palya, and decent sambar with fried papads and lime pickle. Better than the most recent regiment lunch I've had....I won't name it !

In the early days, when Bangalore's idea of food almost sent me into shock, the cold puliyogare or vangi bath in the office canteen at tea, actually the leftovers of lunch served up as a snack, would grudgingly remind me of Mumbai, in a very bittersweet way.

And sandwiches ! Aarghh ! I remember how we decided to have lunch at Kuteeram the day we went to Nrityagram. And since all of us were on no mood for a five-course buffet in 'bhej' or 'noun-bhej', we decided to have sandwiches. After sandwich manna in Bombay, I kind of set a standard for sandwiches and the impersonal loafs of bread with mayonnaise in them are definitely not sandwiches for me. The Kuteeram idea of a veg sandwich was 3 slices of bread with one layer of sliced tomatoes and another layer of sliced cucmber. And some leaking tomato ketchup and French Fries. Now I know why they say you shouldn't have panipuri at ITC Grand Central. In case any of these hotel guys need tips, my Bong babu outside college will give them training.

Cut to sandwich disaster two, at Coffee World, Eva Mall, Brigade Road: I was on an evening out with Meghna Jayachandran from school and her mom, and we decided to settle for the evening at this place. True the choco sundae was pretty good, Meghna kept giving it wilful looks and taking sneak bites before her mom moved it away. Her mom's point of contention being - spending two grand on one session with a dietician and then consuming choco sundae is SINNING. The veggie special out there was this thing with cottage cheese (which was the saving grace), and gherkins that were picked in God knows what ! While Meghna's mom kept expostulating on what a good girl I was, I steadily disproved her by dismembering my sandwich and sorting my sandwich into a miserable mess of bread and vegetables.

If you want to know what MY idea of a sandwich is, come to Xaviers' at 11 in the morning and find out.

I'm toying with the idea of going back to Bangalore for another month of an enjoyable and fulfiling internship next year. Let me see where the tide takes me.

And I can't afford to be stuck any more......for I have miles to go before I sleep ( euphemistically speaking).

Literally speaking....I have the loo to go to before I sleep. And miles to dream about if I don't want to have a bored sleep.

May 22, 2006

Ramblings of a bored mind - 2

The workshop ended yesterday. A 15 day adventure. Where I made new friends, livened up old relationships and learned the art of co-existence. And also Odissi !

I was really excited about waking up post 12 pm today, since my life has been regimented into a 'get-up at 7:30, iron your sari and bathe and make a dash for Smitalay. But even with the waking-up early bit, it was a lot of fun.

Now, its back to getting up late and wondering what to do. I have no time for an internship, yet I'm bored.

I'm also suffering from a major writer's block of late. Very visible considering I have seem to have much to go on and on about.

A certain event-based search engine wanted people from major cities in India to help with content uploading and all that. I almost took the offer up, but, for some reason, I just can't bring myself to do even if its just for the sake of earning money. It's not what I enjoy doing and no amount of money can make it enjoyable.

Talking of money, I really need to think of a nice way to earn it. Something interesting, where I can write of interesting things. Because, next year, I plan to take dance more seriously, and I need cash to put my plans into action.

Anyway, sleepy day. Bon nuit and see you when I have the energy to blog sensibly.

May 19, 2006

Life goes on....

This has been a busy fortnight. The dance workshop and my upcoming singing exams have kept me busy left, right and centre. Also, I need to complete the write-ups for the Smitalay site, and now I'm looking at this interesting brochure of Bollywood Odissi and trying to figure out how not to sleep on the keyboard.

I'm through with mangalacharan, the first and invocatory item in Odissi and we're putting up a small performance / presentation / demonstration on the 21st at
Smitalay. So if you are free and in Bombay, land up ! Be there are 4 pm. Smitalay programs will NEVER start late, Tai will make sure it starts on time, whether all the dancers are ready or not.

Learning mangalacharan was a fun experience. The best part was, it didn't DRAG like other things generally do, during a regular class. We practised regularly, concentrated on our stuff and finished it in two weeks. And since Jhelumtai was teaching us, we all behaved extremely well since we know that it's either shape-up or ship out with her !

Yea, all of us are pretty scared of her, if you look at it that way. I mean, she is an amazing person to talk to, and she absolutely does not go around with the 'It is my birthright to be angry' attitude like some people, and we can have a lot of fun with her, but at times, I'd rather let my tongue shrivel and fall off from lack of exercise than open my mouth in front of her.

When she teaches us, she positions all of us so that she can see what is supposed to be going on and what is going on. From the look of it, she is just sitting with her eyes suspended in space. (And that looks pretty scary especially after she's just yelled at you for the '25-paise act', ie: looking down at the ground when you are supposed to be looking UP .) Well, eyes in space, and she knows what TEN people in the room are doing ! If I had that kind of eyesight, I could have outflown and outgrown any of those far-sighted Siberian cranes !

But, looking back at the past two weeks, I don't resent the fact that I was yelled at, or whatever, because I've learnt so much. All those things go into improving technique, and after seeing those exceptionally dismal Odissi performances in Bangalore, I don't really want to realise after 15 years that I'm getting some basic fundas wrong.

All this apart, I've picked up new tunes, and I'm going to be singing Mohana Pallavi, Saveri Pallavi and Nachanti Range Srihari along with a few others. Nachanti is my favourite. It's just a very beautiful song. I find Saveri pretty depressing. Mohana is quite sonorous.

Meanwhile my singing teacher seems very enamoured with my voice of late. She was totally taken by my rendition of Bihag and now she wants my choice raga in the exam to be Bihag and not Malkauns, which she had chosen earlier. Anyway, I like her as of now.

My last singing teacher was a goddamned greedy chick, no words minced. She was not really a teacher to me, so I don't care about the Guru-shishya thing for her. She just wanted me to join her private classes over the main class and when I refused, she vented her spleen on me by pronouncing every note I sang WRONG. When I had to shift to this new teacher, I actually thought of giving up music. But then this teacher made me kinda re-realise I was not exactly dumb and I could actually sing. So now my gaadi is on the right patri again, and singing classes are no longer a Tuesday-Friday torture session.

Anyway time to shut-eye, since I have to get up at seven tomorrow, to sing, and then go to dance class at 9 and return at 6 and the attend a wedding. Talk of busy days...

May 12, 2006

Ramblings of a bored mind

It has been pretty long since I posted anything.

My hands have recovered from the Deccan onslaught, and now my hands are full, what with impending doom up on the music front and the Smitalay workshop going on.

I'm rediscovering Mumbai now, the buses, and so on.

All these days I felt I had so much to write but now it feels I'm just trying to make small talk.

Anyway, this dear but darned comp of mine managed to delete my whole folder, full of documents and other stuff.

I have been doing this small talk thing all evening. Goodnight.

May 08, 2006

On home turf but....

I'm finally home ! In Bombay at last. Well, I enjoyed Bangalore, and I have a lot to say, but at the moment, I am critically indisposed. Thanks to Air Deccan. Those inhuman people absolutely REFUSED to let me load more than 15 kilos onto their precious cargo hold and I had to carry around 25 kilos of stuff with me into the plane. 3 bags and one flute, to be precise. And not a SINGLE CHVALROUS MAN.

Tomorrow, today to be precise, the dance workshop at Smitalay begins. And I have this battered spine, and two ACHING hands, that abolutely refuse to be positioned chowk style. So I basically can't type or make much use of my hands, so the rest later !

May 03, 2006

A lecher disposed.....or indisposed ?

I've kind of learnt how to take care of lechers in Bangalore. They used to be pretty freaky earlier, but now, there are methods....

Like this guy on a bike the other day. I'd stopped to make a call to someone, and he followed me and cut right through my path around 2 or 3 times. When I turned right, onto the final road that leads to where I stay, he continued to follow me, and he stopped right outside my house. All I did was add his bike's licence plate number to the imaginary conversation I was having with my mobile phone, and he freaked ! He solicitiously addressed me as 'ma'am' and requested me not to put him into trouble. When I asked him why he followed me, he totally denied doing it, but kept on saying that he had seen a red car following me ( even the car guy did stop for me, but I disposed of him before this guy came along ). What he did not seem to realise was that - he was following me to know that the car followed me !

Anyway, my acting made him forget everything about leching at me and he ran for his life before his eyes could fall on another feminine structure !

May 01, 2006

Of Bylines and Byzantine...

I'm finally a published author ! Hurrah !!!

OK, basically, the newspaper with which I'm interning right now, in Bangalore, does not believe in giving bylines to interns, atleast some parts of it. So, many of my gems have been published verbatim, with a staff reporter's name in the byline. And THAT, is one of the most depressing things that can happen to you. As much as I want to say I wrote something, it doesn't sound believeable because the paper says someone else wrote it.

The education supplement 'Education Plus', accepted an article on careers in classical dance. Also, to add to my joy, there was an article which I'd written around four weeks ago, on education in Holland. These are the links,
this one is on careers in dance, and this one on studying in Holland.

To see your name all over the paper is a wonderful feeling....!!!! I was seriously beginning to wonder whether this internship was worth it, but something tells me it is.

I had a wonderful time yesterday. Didn't go to Nrityagram, since they were closed, but I went to Natya Institute of Kathak and Choreography, at Malleswaram. I watched a snippet of a rehearsal for their programme on Tuesday. It was from a production called 'The Legend of Amir Khusrau', and seemed pretty interesting.

After the rehearsal, a discussion on Sacred Geometry began, and by the time we were done, it was 9 ! But the night was enjoyable, also full of anticipation because I was just hoping this article would be there in the next day's paper.

April 27, 2006

Dancing tracks

At last, I've found the time to blog ! The past one week has been particularly crazy.....working in a newspaper can be weird at times....when you are sent out to cover events that never make the news and you wonder why you wasted a good afternoon's sleep.

I went to Nrityagram again, last Sunday, this time by bus, and then, I had quite a bit of an adevnture. It was pure fun and very safe. I didn't really see what was dangerous about it.

Aprt from that, I attended a dance programme, the 10th anniversary of Natya STEM Dance Kampni and their celebrations for World Dance Day. Their works were pretty interesting, good concepts and all. They had a collaborative effort with painter Raghava KK, where he painted on-stage with the dancers. But....their very first piece, a Kathak duet by Aparna Kolar and Madhu Nataraj Heri, didn't seem very synchronised and didn't flow the way I expected it to.

I don't like to mince my words and I'm going to take the risk of saying that Bangalore rhas no good Odissi dancers (Nrityagram is brilliant, and that is WAY ABOVE GOOD !!!). Apart from NG, there are just two of them, and both of them try to outdo each other in terms of bad taste and no sense of aesthetics and horrendous movement. NG is on tour for around 6 months of the year, and it seems when these people have to call an Odissi performer, they have to resort to one of the two. So, they have something like a monopoly out here. They do not care for adequate oractice and proper presentation because they know they will be called anyway.

Let me go into the details. The first dancer's performance had costumes in all colours that clashed horribly with each other. The troupe was very unsure about the movements. They were not even technically perfect. Their basic postures could have done with a lot of shaping-up. During the mangalacharan, the dancers couldn't even sit in chowk properly. I still remember how I almost cried when this dancer performed to the Oriya song Ahenilo sohilo by Salbeg, which generally moves me to tears. Only here, I wanted to cry because she was mutilating the song very badly.

The second performance I saw was a solo, Dasavatara to be precise. When the dancer strode onto stage like a general at war, to announce her performance, I knew what was coming. She had absolutely no sense of timing, and did not pay any attention to presentation. She just came and plonked her butt on stage and started off. Her hair, ok, now Jhelumtai has curly hair which is generally all over the place, but she still manages to make it FLAT when she's dancing. This chick had very manageable hair that looked like it had not been washed in decades. Oiling it a little would have made it much more decent-looking. Her pallu was draped in this very weird manner......costume wearing is always this big point of contention for me, I can't stand people who do not wear a costume properly. Her tribhanga was far from perfect, and at the risk of sounding immodest, I can say that the tribhangas of me and the rest of my friends are way better. She did not sit in chowk for certain sequences, she was very miserly in her use of kajal, her pushpachuda really looked undernourished and starved.....all the flowers twisted and lots of holes in between.

It is sad, really sad, that so many good dancers never get the opportunity to get their due, and sub-standard dancers like these come up and do very well. I have nothing against these dancers, but I don't see why they should take advantage of the situation and absolutely refrain from polishing themselves.

One more thing - that day, a dancer just told me how the 'visibility' in Bombay and Delhi is good. I had a good laugh while telling her the hard facts. The Bangalore audience is very appreciative of classical dance, and programmes never go unattended. Most of all, people behave themselves during the performance. The publicity also seems to be good...but that may also be because I'm working with a paper and end up hearing about everything. In Bombay, one hardly hears of performances, it is just plays and movies all the way. I have seen prominent 'well-behaved' members of society walk out in the middle of performances at NCPA's experimental theatre, if I got the name right, since it is impossible to walk out of there without walking on the stage. When Leesa Mohanty and Durga Charan Ranbir ji performed in Bombay, the audience started hooting 'sari giri', ( the sari has fallen down) when Leesadi's unstitched sari looked like it was about to unravel. I sat night after night and watched performances by maestros like Kanak Rele and Gangadhar Pradhan go practically unattended during the Sur Singar Samsad fest.So much for the visibility in Bombay...

Bollywood Hungama Odissi Ishtyle has received a lot of attention lately. I've been talking to various dancers in Bangalore about it. Many of them appreciated Jhelumtai's foray into Bollywood ( pun unintended !), but one of them was very upset that a dancer of her stature resorted to something like this. The person in question felt it was very unaesthetic to mix Bollywood and Odissi. We could not have a proper argument since she kept saying I was defensive because the work of my Guru was in question. It was not really a subjective thing on my part, if I don't like something and even if someone I directly interact with is responsible for that, I would say so. But, in this case, I loved the idea of Bollywood Odissi and I thought it was simply brilliant. And after all, who defines what is aesthetic and what is not? Aesthetics are something that depend on an individual's perception and are not a set of rules that say what is innovative and what is not. Or what is 'fusion' and what is a 'mess'.

I've also heard dancers who indulge in the 'contemporary' monkey business (well, I am not against contemporary dance, but I'm just waiting to see how far dancers take their pretentiousness). Anyway, these dancers talk about how their contemporary work comes from the heart, is full of truth and passion and other such flowerily ludicrous things, and also about how other dancers just thing jumping around in a different costume and mixing a few movements here and there is contemporary. I mean, if it is all about the heart, then it is possible that jumping around in a different costume touches someone's heart, while someone else loves somersaulting on stage, while someone else takes 25 minutes to come out from intense position to the next while one person sweeps the stage with flowing costumes that seem to be ads for cleanliness and civic sense, and so on.

Point is, every single dancer worth the d in the 'dancer' has his or her own ideas on what is beautiful and divine and so on. I don't think this science of speculation should be codified and given a repertoire to go with it. One can experiment, praise or pan. But that's about it. When people begin defining the world code for aesthetics, it gets to me.

April 19, 2006

News and views - A patchwork quilt from Bangalore.

Patchwork quilt because it's a mixture of various things.

Today, I had this sorely Kannadiga guy attempting to say sing some obscene 'Hello' song in English. I really felt like stopping by and teaching him the alphabet. Anyway, forget these disadvantaged dumbasses( disadvantaged....because they don't seem to know any girls to satisfy their .....carnal desires....dumbasses...because, well, that's what they are).

Anyway, hey wait, I forgot what I wanted to write on ! Yea, basically, we went to this place yesterday for dinner, called Isys or something like that. More than salivating my way through the menu, I was interested in reading what they had to say about themselves. It was something on the lines of......Welcome to Isys.... exotic and romantic.....most sensual dining experience you will ever have.......our staff are trained to anticipate your every need etc etc. My, talk of being corny to the point of being horny !!

My Kannada repertoire is leaps and bounds. I can say ondhumukkal and eradamukkal now.

There's a protest at IISc. on the 21st, against their use of monkeys for tests. Please attend if you are in Bangalore and wish to support the cause.

What is the height of being embarassed?
Ans: Having someone come out of the loo and say they heard you singing and where do you learn from and that this is not the first time they've heard your lovely voice, the last time they did you were in the loo and so on...and why the hell are you in journalism when you can sing and dance.....all this while poor me is still wondering if this is all for real and silently cursing the earth because it doesn't seem to want to open up and swallow me.

I've started having early lunches so that I don't lose my luchichance ! Is good for my stomach too, you see. There is this waiter out there, who makes this amusing ceremony of pouring water into a glass or singling out ONE napkin to hand over to you while you are in the middle of dreaming what it would be like if you were born in a sea of gulab jamuns.

April 17, 2006

Bangalore Khabri Times

Buses, and now autos. Wait. Before I go on, a clarification. Don't call me a spolit Bombay kid because I always seem to have something to say about this place called Bang-a-lore. Anyway, yesterday was a Sunday, and since I had work to do, I decided to go to work. And I ended up at Central College to cover this Kavi Sammelan thing. Where the Hon. Governor, whose name was unknown to the policemen guarding him, arrived. In a brown suit. Which he wore again to a convocation today. Dirty boy !!!

When I was done with my work there, I had to go back to office, and it was nearly 7:30 pm. I made futile attempts to wave down an auto....but alas !!! So, I came walking till Vidhana Soudha, waving my hand in an attempt to catch an auto all the while. At Vidhana Soudha, I met this guy, and I told him my destination - St. Mark's Road, which was like, the minimum fare type. He says, "Dye-Fee-Nyet-Lee Maddam. Farty Rupees." And I was like, you think I'm a fool who just landed on a magic carpet in front of Vidhana Soudha ? I walked resolutely ahead, and finally found an auto. Where ? Minsk Square. That is almost next to St. Mark's Road, but anyway, I was too tired to walk.

These auto guys are such cartoons. It's very surprising they have the gall to go around in rickshaws that clearly say - If auto driver demands excess fare, report to nearest police station. (Not that I'm going to drive him to Kammanahalli or someplace as far as that to report an offence at MG Road). In Indian terminology, Agar wo gadha jyaada piasa maange, to use joote maar maar kar bhagakar use police thane le aao. ie: If that donkey asks you for more money, beat him up and drag him to the police station.

Otherwise.....KC Das seems to facing a Luchi shortage. I love that place now, and I invariably have lunch there, except when I'm force-fed at one of those press meets. But for the past two days, I've been going to KC Das and asking for luchis, and they tell me - Luchi is not there madam. Which is quite infuriating. Especially when your dreams during some boring speech begin with luchis and end with gulab jamoon. Today, I had to have lunch at this Airlines hotel which has passable chana-bhatura. They had pav-bhaji on the menu and I asked for it, only to be told it was not there.

Talking of pav-bhaji, the office canteen had what I thought were bondas for tea, but they turned out to be ersatz for batat-vada ! I can make better vadas (and my cooking skills extend to stirring Maggi for two minutes after the water has been poured in by someone else), but they were a good reminder.

Starting tomorrow, ISKCON has this array of cultural programmes which I can cover, including performances of Yakshagana, Bharatanatyam, Odissi and Kathak. Cool, ain't it?

April 15, 2006

April 14, 2006

10 freewheeling days in Bangalore

I've completed 10 days in this place, and I must say, I do feel a bit bored at times, but I'm also having the time of my life. The sense of independence which co-incidentally coincided with my turning 18 was cool. I'm discovering more and more of this city every day, and it is great fun to do so.

I've also noticed that I'm walking around a lot more than usual in Bangalore. I go walking along all the arterial roads of the city, thus burning away the sin of having two sumptuous calorie-filled gulab jamuns or rossogollas after lunch. Compared to Bombay, where the heat and exhaustion gets to me, here, I travel light and manage to do a lot more.

One more weird thing I've noticed is - Since this city is quite compact from one end to the other, people tend to magnify distances, and consequently, a 5 km drive seems really lonnggg ! A few days ago, I visited a hospital in this place called Hebbal for an assignment, which is on the outskirts of the city for your information. It was a 20 minute drive from the city centre, and the other journalists with me got quite restless. And methinks, what's the big deal ?? Heck, this is hardly 20 minutes, and these guys are acting crazy. Since I travel around 45 kms this way and that to college and back every day, all the fuss seemed quite unwarranted to me.

Recently, I had to complete the movie listing chart for the newspaper, and I had to call up all these seedy single screen theatres too, where people went on and on in Kannada, that is as alien as UFO sightings are to me. BY the way, I've never seen a UFO all my life. I tried telling many of these guys - Ninna Kannada Gottilla, which I thought was " I don't know Kannada", and quite a few seemed very irrItated with and some even banged the phone down. After a while, I realised that meant "You don;t know Kannada.", which was quite a BIG BLOOPER.

I've done some interesting, funny and boring assignments here. I particularly remember the hospital one, wher the Chairman of the hospital categorically stated how he planned to afflict patients through his new specialty clinic.

Then there was a boring essay competition where they had this meaningless play in which an almond is the saviour. We journalists almost tried to stage a walkout, but they thankfully ended on time.....I basically wanted to reach in time for the yummy sambar in the office canteen that closes at 5:30 pm.

And we had this education fair, where the educational consultant whom we interviewed was near servile, and almost fell at our feet at one point.

Also, a video-conference with the finalists of Indian idol, where NC Karunya admitted that he was missing the variety of pickles from Andhra, and where I asked him to mail the hot dog he was trying to eat, to me, since I was really thirsting for Bombay fast food.

The Kannada actor Rajkumar passed away two days back and I didn't really understand why my uncle asked me to return home asap, until I actually came home and saw them tearing down stuff around my office area on TV. It seems he was a brilliant actor and a brilliant person, and he definitely had a lot of fans. The government declared a two-day holiday for all government offices, schools, colleges etc.

April 09, 2006

A tryst with a kid

Today, I went to meet my mother's brother and his family. His daughter recently gave birth and basically I didn't even know the kid's name. This was just meant to be one of those family obligations that are dispensed with.

This kid, Poorvi, is my first niece. I imagined she would be like most one-year-olds - sleepy, scared, cranky....But...I was WRONG !!! A pint sized bundle of energy comes somersaulting into a sleepy and desolate Banashankari bungalow. With a beatific smile on her face, Poorvi happily grabbed the gifts I'd brought for her, thrust it into her father's lap, and happily continued playing with her 'panda' and ball and bat.

Some perfunctory attempts were made to get her to call me 'aunty', which did not work, and she soon settled down to 'akka', which means elder sister in Kannada. In a while, she was all over me. I'm not exactly an angel myself, and I was the only one who seemed to support her out of the house mischief, so we joined hands to have some fun. Very soon, we were play-driving a Kinetic, scrambling onto the roof of the car and swinging the plants hanging from the ceiling, and doing countless other things, while her mom looked on with an air of resignation. was time to part. Poorvi and her mother accompanied me home. In the car, she was busy turning the roof into one big percussion instrument, and trying to pull out everything that hung from the roof.

When we reached my place, she promptly started crying and screaming and making a better fuss than I ever could. Her cries shook the whole of Jayanagar, because quite a few people asked me if something was wrong....

Anyway, meeting Poorvi was an amazing experience, and I'm surely going to go back and see her. After loads of kids who only cry and squirm when taken away from their mommas, she was...DIFFERENT !! Her pulling out things and wanting to take them apart totally reminds me of the way I was in my childhood !

April 08, 2006

Bangalore: The land of lechers

In Bombay, I can return wearing anything, or maybe even nothing, at 1 am or 5 am or any damn time for that matter. Apart from the usual sickos, not many people will really stop to look at me and ogle. And least of all, wait like morons and observe me for five minutes.

Yesterday, I wore a sleeveless top to work. Body hugging and pink ! NOthing great about that in Bombay, but out here, it's evidently a very big deal. Every single male eye and a few female eyes followed my journey from the house to the bus stop. Every single member of the male species who passed by stopped to ogle at the assets hidden behind my top. One guy actually found a comfortable viewpoint a few metres away and stopped to look at me as I've I'm a stricken Mona Lisa hung in the Louvre for public observation. Unfortunately, I did not have a plexiglass shield like Mona Lisa......

After a few minutes, when I realised he was actually looking at ME for such a long time, I chased him away with all the colourful insults I knew of, Bambaiya gaalis as they are called.

The rest of the day was no better......

Cut to today: In the bus, this seemingly homo guy was busy making overtures at me and the absolutely petrified lady sitting next to me. He leaned over her in this strange manner, till I had to shove him aside with a rough push. Very soon, there ensued a fight between the lady next to me, who suddenly found her voice, and the guy and his group of strange friends. He attempted a boob poke with me while exiting the bus, and was rewarded with a resounding smack on the head accompanied by a war cry of ......something unprintable. Not that it affected him in any way, he and his friends seemed very thrilled at the prospect of being what I told them they were.

All this in two days flat.....makes me want to conclude - Bangalore est une ville de lecheurs de femmes.

PS: Please don't translate that literally. Bangalore is the land of lechers, not women lickers.
On second thoughts, well, is there a great difference in the two anyway ?

Vada Pav gal reports from Idlidosadom: 2 - Foodventures

Living practically on my own in another city for a that is something for a little girl whose mother used to hold her hand while crossing the road till about 4 years back.

Since I have to have my lunch outside everyday, I've been doing quite a bit of experimenting with food out here in Bangalore. The first day started with KFC, which was not so great. The second day was a tasteless Mc. Donald's burger, it seems they still don't know how to make it right.

The third day, I had a north Indian thali at Prakash Cafe on Church Street, which was well, as un-north Indian as it could get. They had an offering called Veg Pulao, which tasted weird, the weirdest pulao I ever had.

That apart, the fourth day, we discovered a seedy Food Court at the Fifth Avenue shopping complex. We had Chinese food, supposedly Chinese food, that swam like Ian Thorpe, in what seemed like all the oil from the Middle East. Based on some glowing global recommendations for KC Das, I visited the place for dessert. It is - a teenager's haven in short. Affordable food, good food at that, it was plain amazing. I had some rasamalai, which tasted real cool after days of dreading mysore pak.

Today, I decided to go to KC Das for lunch. Well, since we passed Bowring Institute on our way back from an assignment at St. Mark's Hotel, we indulged in some sinful Pista badam kulfi, which was good, and cold. LOL. Save my wits ! Followed by Luchis with aludom and dal at KC Das. And some more sin in the form of gulab jamuns. For some reason, I like this place. I like the food too. No onions, no visible ones atleast. Tastes quite close to home.

The office canteen, situated behind a gargantuan office that does not betray the existence of a canteen, always cooks tamarind rice in bulk and sets it out for glutton reporters. Pretty good stuff out there, but I wish the canteen wallahs would stop talking to me in Kannada. I've started learning this language on a very negative note. The first proper line I have learnt is something like - Ninna Kannada Gotilla, which is peppered with grammatical means - I don't know Kannada. Talk of seeing the glass half-full !!!

April 07, 2006

Vada Pav gal reports from Idlidosadom -1

Bangalore - The Garden City. Well, it was MY idea, coming here and working for a month. That it actually worked out came as a big surprise to me. But, it did !!!

When I got on the plane, I felt really desolate. Bombay has been my home and hearth for 18 years now. I could not stomach the thought of leaving it to work, for a month. I can't remember the last time I was away from home for a month. I seriosuly debated the consequences of holding up the plane and going back and abandoning my plan. But then I remembered all the planning I'd done and the five 'W's and one 'H'' I had used to justify this. So, very much against my wishes, I stifled that thought.

My first day here, I saw how this city closes down by 7.00 pm. Sleepy city is defnitely more befitting a title than Garden City. Though of course, I remember the flowers at the airport and the 'Welcome to Bangalore' that went with it.

April 4, 2006 - My 18th birthday, my first day of work. Another intern at 'The Hindu', took me to KFC. Well, it was nothing like Mc Donald's, with tasteless stuff and a very gaudy decor. I kind of hate the place. The first article I wrote was a piece on dehydration, summer etc etc, that was printed on the next day.

April 5, 2006 - We started work on a feature on kids and their vacations. On a whim, I called
Meghna to ask her a few official questions regarding her vacation plans. We ended up meeting for lunch at Mc Donald's, and then going over to her place. I spent practically two working hours there, but then, it was a working lunch !!!

There are plans of going to Nrityagram on cool is that !!!!!! I'm so absolutely thrilled !!!!

April 6, 2006 - The only funny thing today was this - I was busy scaring my cousin with the story of 'Ghost of Mae Nak', when we heard some weird sounds from the terrace. And precisely when we'd come around to speculating that a thief was on the terrace, the lights went off. Despite being 'responsible' adults at 18, we yelled like Banshees and darted for her mom and dad. Her mom boldly went off to investigate and came back with the mundane - a rat or squirrel was practising his chowkas on the solar panels.....

Then we were both put to sleep in the 'little kids who don't understand anything' manner.

April 7, 2006 - I've had a good day today. I finally went to KC Das after hearing of it for a long long time. And I discovered the place is real cheap and good. I like the stuff there. In short, khub bhalo.

If the circumstances permit, me a.k.a vada pav gal shall report more often. Vada pav, well, that reminds me of a Bombay vada pav stall I saw on Brigade Road, which sold the thing for a ridiculous price. I mean, price your vada pav at Rs. 8 in Bombay and see what they do to you........

March 21, 2006

Hmm.....whoa !!!

Life is exciting ! We just saw the last of our exams yesterday, and new things are already happening ! Just went to a volunteer meeting for MAMI'S IFF - ok, The International Film Fest organised by Mumbai Academy of Moving Images. First thing is getting those delegates out of our wonderful airports. Fun stuff to keep my mind off boredom. I'm responsible for two jury members, an Aijaz Gul from Pakistan who is a bigtime film critic as I just realised, and an Assamese filmaker/director called Utpal Borpujari.

There are a few movies I'd like to watch and I hope I can...the event's mostly in IMAX Wadala, which is a nice place, but I think the canteen could do with some sugar, as they say , ' We have onlyyy premixed coffeeeee.'

But I've missed dance and music class for a whole week due to exams and am feeling bad. So priorities are a l'il clear and Aijaz Gul is certainly not more VIP than my dance class, which has VVIP clearance, by the way.

Have been trying to post pictures from Picasa, to no avail, Picasa is really getting to my nerves today. Why, I almost thought of replacing this IE window with the Picasa one, because I almost always post pics.

We were felicitated for our involvement in Nostalgia today. Not much of a felicitation, we had to walk into the XDP and collect a college calendar, keychain, mug and Mars Bar. Still, very good for our generally stingy college.