December 30, 2007

Shoes!

Ranjana wins - Closed shoes are now
the latest fashion statement!
And I discovered the Bata site...I can now go armed with a list of what I want!
Here... www.bata.in.
So that means I should go stock up on these cute, wearable, and bearable shoes before they go out of fashion only to be replaced by those three-string affairs that snap as soon as one walks out of the store.

Some things don't need a title. This is one of them.

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December 25, 2007

This is what sleep-laden eyes (and lids) can produce

Blogger, don't fill in blanks!
Oh yes! I'm back to the steamier side of my love-hate relationship with headlines. Currently, I'm trying to leave lines between my paragraphs, but Blogger refuses to let me do so.
I always have such big plans for the vacation. But I forget to allocate extra hours for my favourite hobby, passion and vocation - sleeping. And what am I doing all night anyway...?
9.00 pm
Watch TV
10.00 pm
Serenade myself - in the loo. Read simultaneously. Sometimes, a serious Oriya song session.
I'm fruitfully occupied all this while. So when do these activities leave me to plunge into nothingness?
11.00 pm
Go online. Check e-mail. Watch a few Odissi videos.
12.00 am
Help my little sister convince herself that she should be sleeping instead of trying to study with drooping eyelids and a wandering mind.
1.00 am
More dance videos. Some music too. Google random people because my hands have nothing to do. Discover the joys of Google and hone my skills as the Googlerani.
2.00 am
A creative bug such as the current one may emerge. It bites as hard as those godforsaken red ants all over my bed. But Oriya ants are worse. How they manage to enter airtight bottles of chutney powder is beyond my imagination.
I listen to the same music repeatedly, and suddenly begin to dance. But it's hands only, as I don't want my downstairs neighbour going up in arms. They've been quite tolerant of late and I'd like things to stay the way they are.
Am I getting addicted
to the computer?
Or am I just addicted to laziness and blessed with the concentration span of a yoyo? Attention span of a housefly sounds better, but research has proved that they are capable of the same attention levels as humans, which explains why they sit on my notes longer than I ever do.
Actually, I'm sure this is just a general lack of focus and the poor computer, this advanced cousin of the idiot box, is not to be blamed. As for those prats who blab about how one can even use the Internet to read books, don't believe them. I tried doing the last Harry Potter book that way (and succeeded), but it makes your eyes feel like the railway toilet at Bombay Central station - full of shit.
There is one thing I really want to do this vacation - teach myself to read and write Oriya. So I'm getting back to my notebook. Feeling like a KG student is a wonderful feeling. Devoid of responsibility...
The pen is mightier
than the mouse: Ranjana

Why are there no queues in Qatar?

Once upon a time, when I studied geography, their population was 6,40,000. My tryst with geography ended on a glorious day called the SSC Geography exam day. But not before a hair-raising (and hell-raising) mental collapse which saw me waking up at 4 am to face 30-odd chapters of assorted rubbish for an 11 am paper.
Coming back to queues, it's just part of the Indian experience, one feels. You haven't stepped into a pile of cowdung , you haven't counted sheep (and felt like one) while being part of the ubiquitous queue, you haven't known India.
Today I used two buses and a train and my feet to reach a nondescript but quaintly named building - Examination House on the Bombay University campus. Mission: Application for photocopy of answer paper. Mission accomplished. Yes, I did run down two floors THRICE. I also felt honoured to wait in the queue since the officials there love eating together like a family, all at the same time. But I've seen worse. Officials who are never to be found in office. Libraries that take a day to process a book issue slip and then tell you that the book in question isn't available and you have to fill up another slip. And wait for another day...it goes on. Clerks who do not fancy the passport-sized photos you cut into stamp-sized ones. "Studio se karake lao," they say. This was almost paradise. The guy got back from his lunch break in time. He didn't throw tantrums. I could have kissed him by the end of it. Only, he seemed to have a very prickly beard.
Not everything was so hunky-dory. Most of the application form was a waste of paper and ink. But...one at a time...things shall change...(I hope I'm not being hopelessly sunny here)

December 05, 2007

Lessons on being middle-class enough

I've been following a few of the new serials on television. Each of them persist in conforming to their ridiculous theories on a gamut of topics.

Balaji's new offering, Kucch Is Tara, made a pathetic attempt at self-depreciation in the first episode itself. The setting is the ubiquitous "middle-class" house. With a full-time (and long-time) maid, who is an elusive character in Bombay these days, for those of us who play real middle-class people. The "parivar ki maryada" protector, the dad, has been VRSed off a cushy job...this hurls the entire family into turmoil, at their impending poverty. The dude looked like he was nearing retirement age anyway. And can't he go find another job? Even my dad did that after he retired from his bank job.

There are three hardworking kids - two, before we were treated to the housemaid spiel. Don't they bring in enough to tide over...after all there must have been a time when they were young and their dad was the only bread-earner. The central character, Kanya Godbole, accepts the job of a housemaid (and delivers "moving" dialogues in the tone of a schoolgirl puking out an answer that she has committed to heart). Kudos to her ideas of labour equality, but are you trying to tell us that she takes the job because her family is so hard-pressed for money? They live in a freaking rowhouse -ype arrangement with a garden where the maids dance and hang out wet clothes to dry...in the "bada shahar" Bombay. How many people here have gardens to dry their clothes in?!

These attempts at creating new content now end up in extravagantly flimsy and contrived scripts where characters stumble their way through amazingly unnatural situations. I'm waiting for the next new one - perhaps another story about an ordinary "middle-class" woman who ends up wearing Versace (courtesy in-house tailors) and flitting in and out of sickeningly opulent cars and "houses". Who's directing it?


PS: They even have open space for palm trees and swings...a private backyard is a luxury afforded by few people in Bombay...

November 04, 2007

Mail-jhol

Girl gets tired
of replying to e-mails,
smashes computer
Not too well-aligned, but the best I can do in my aaarggh mood. It's not like people are bugging me with their e-mails. All my mail comes from perfectly endearing and desirable people whom I care for. Only thing is, I'm bored. And tired of this "let's type out a reply" thing. I'm now at a stage where I'd rather write letters.
Post offices come alive again
as girl goes on mail marathon
High Hopes

October 31, 2007

Sleep beckons

Sleep beckons.

The other day, i Read about a 'restroom expert'. Now, I have extensive experience of Indian restrooms. From elegant toilet seats to the ditch in the ground, I've seen them all...shouldn't I be an expert too?

Sleep beckons. So do unfinished tasks. Sleep beckons.

October 20, 2007

Hmm

I am contemplating the prospect of e-mail bankruptcy. I mean, I'm tired of the way this account of mine pompously announces - You have 1278 unread messages. Blah, what's it to you if I have so many unread messages?!

I mean, I don't even get a rupee for reading each message...!

And it doesn't help being the world's agony aunt. Everyone has to send ME messages trusting me with the contents of their wills and asorted bullshit. At least, if all that were true, I'd be reach by now. But no luck there...

No more indecisiveness...a nice cuppah of (calorie-filled) Bournvita awaits. And then bed...good night, here i come, dear cushions...

September 30, 2007

Cooker!

Today is a watershed day in the history of my tryst with cooking. I made saffron milk with almonds! Ok, I overestimated the amount of saffron a bit, but it still tastes edible! And erm, it's feeling a little heavy!

September 25, 2007

Lessons for Today...


Today...

1. I shall study.
2. I shall wake up early and go for a walk.
3. I shall not eat tons of Bournvita and fried foodstuff.
4. I shall practise.
5. I shall refrain from wasting time.
6. I shall endeavour to complete all the above.
7. I shall endeavour to endeavour that I complete all the above.

And so on. So long...
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September 24, 2007

Fatty poo moi!

When I returned from Orissa, I realised I had something that remotely resembled a figure after trying hard for so many years. And in celebration, I spent the next few months gorging on vada pav, cheese aloo palak sandwiches, Bournvita (350 ml in one go), milk cream, butter, potatoes and much more.

And I became fat again. And now I'm feeling all bad-bad again I'm trying to lose weight (while gorging on milk cream). Help me, fellow netizens!

Colours of Orissa




On the way from Konark...to Bhubaneswar








Pipli




Puri




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Indian Ad-iol

And Prashant Tamang becomes the third Indian Idol after a
three hour borestravaganza and innumerable commercial
breaks and John Abraham playing the fool.

September 17, 2007

This does not have a headline because it is all about one

11.00 pm

I've been staring at a page in a very pleasing font. It says something about writing headlines. I'm resisting the urge to whip out my fluorescent marker and wreak havoc with it! That is an exercise I resort to only in times of dire memory shortage, because some part of that thrill of watching text go green translates into disk space.

This chapter tells me moving things about the "customs" that copy editors have created. Okay, they are entitled to their customs, but I cannot comprehend such subtle truths on the eve of my exam! I am entirely to blame, but what is the fun if an undertrial pleads guilty without making the court dance and adjourning it a hundred times. There won't be any "masala".

11.10 pm

As I type this out, I'm reading through a few rules listed in the chapter. On the face of it, they sound very simple. However, when I see that "2 - line 2 - column headline" in the paper, it all sounds like Mermish.

11.12 pm

Actually, now that I've bothered to read the rules, it sounds much simpler. Verbs, modifiers, prepositions...not that bad, but I still need to get conversant with those counting methods.

11.16 pm

Like India's fiscal deficit, I always have a sleep deficit. A copy editor may have said...in headlines.

Woman dragged into black hole
after sleep deficit overpowers her

Girl found drooling
on ancient teak bench

Answer sheet confiscated
after it is found drenched
in unknown bodily fluids

Local train evacuated on discovery
of unidentifiable lump resembling human

11.25 pm

Why does my brain work overtime towards all the wrong things at the wrong time?!

September 13, 2007

Grrrrr

It is sooo irritating when people unleash their 'artistic' talents...even when the brief is - COPY
GRRR...GRRR...I FEEL LIKE A STEAM ENGINE WITH NO OUTLET.

September 10, 2007

War Time

My life is under siege. It has been invaded by that piffling yet omniscient scourge known as the PHOTOCOPY.

When I returned from dance class today, I brought with me a hundred aches and pains. I was aware of this threat called the exam that was increasingly hurtling towards me with the speed of a Hayabusa, but I was unprepared for the major side-effects in store. Provoked into action by dear Rahila, I decided to take stock of my academic life. Step One consisted of carefully poking under my clothes to check if there were any notes lurking there. Very soon, an avalanche of notes was cascading down from every conceivable direction (and the saddest part is that I yet have to desecrate any of them with the caste marks that are so typical of this religion called education). They were to be found under my bed, in my harmonium case, nestled in my clothes, stuffed behind the computer, in a thousand bags and above the cupboard. A very versatile lot indeed.

I decided to begin with the most forbidding bunch of photocopies, that were all by-products of our editing classes. Our professor there did utter an 'indispensible truism' when she spoke of the pristine norms and mores that kept us away from our 'xeroxes'. Embarking on the monumental task of filing these photocopies, I was soon privy to 'versatile' stabs of pain that poked me all over. Remove earlier staples (pull push grunt groan yell swear kick), punch (with all your might) and file (and then see that tiny rod break and file again). Right now, the result of my efforts rests serenely on the bed, making me feel like I've just completed my doctoral dissertation. Hell, it looks bigger than my Reporting project!!!

That was just one part of the battle. A mound of photocopies patiently awaits me, with cynical smiles playing all over their antaratmas. We thought genes were the next THING. Wait till that cloistered dork from a laboratory meets the xerox machine and its venom.

Heritage leching

Mumbai University, Rajabai Tower...and some other pics...




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September 09, 2007

Konark



Location malfunction in this case....


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Land, air sea, trees...from Orissa





You have to get on this bridge to feel the way I do...overwhelmed...


Bhimatangi blaze...on June 29, my last night at Srjan, I got super-nostalgic, spent an hour prancing around on the terrace doing a bit of Keeravani and taking absurd photos and a few good ones.



Cloud-i-city...taken from the banks (!) of the Mahanadi river when we went to Cuttack for a wedding...which brings back a funny memory...Amanda - "Ranjana, this place smells really shitty! Can we go soon?"




As I contemplated my existence (what lofty words!), sitting in an impersonal air-conditioned vehicle and whooshing towards Bhubaneswar, I put camera to some use...
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Gotipuas

All my gotipua friends from Konark Natya Mandap...backstage at Arka Vihar, before their performance during Raja Mahotsav. Guys not in costume are Vinayak and Sahadev.



Here, they took my camera from me and experimented with it...their reaction on seeing the pictures they had made was one of pure delight.

Tapan


Bibhu


Lakshman
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September 08, 2007

Miss-es and hangovers

Why does the grass always look greener and cleaner on the other side?

When I'm not in Bombay, I sing its praises to anyone who cares to hear (and bore those who don't). When I come back to Bombay, it is always with an x-hangover (x being the last place I visited). And God help those around me if I stayed there too long. The hangover shows no signs of wearing off. Instead, it just continues till I go away from Bombay, only to return with a fresh hangover...such a vicious cycle this is!

For over eight months, I was on my 'When I was in Bangalore' track. Then it was 'When I was in Bhubaneswar' and now 'When I was in Orissa'.

Well, I have legitimate reasons...that is what I think.

I miss Bhubaneswar because I cannot dance like I've lost it at midnight; if I do so, my downstairs neighbours will be filing a PIL any day now.
I miss Bhubaneswar because I cannot use my bicycle here.

When I was there I missed Bombay because it is not nice to be in Kharavela Nagar at 9 pm, knowing that the only way to get back to Bhimatangi is taking an auto that is bloody expensive.
I missed the convenience of shops that have atleast ten vegetables.
I missed the healthy looking specimens of cucmber to be found here.

I miss Bangalore...because I miss going to KC Das and stuffing myself and then saying that Bombay has a better choice of eating places!
I miss Bangalore for its dance-friendly environment.

I'm waiting for my next hangover

September 07, 2007

And some more


And this one's straight again!

Back to my favourite subject - Palm trees ...Cuttack


Taken at twilight ... Cuttack


Pintu!!!
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My week in pictures

Sweet sweet college! Can't believe my three years are almost up...I'm about to step into the big bad world for good!


Marine Drive on an overcast day...Reporting was bearing down on me, probably that's the reason for the bleak sky!


Dahi handi...It is so much fun to watch!!!



Leaning tower of Rajabai


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August 02, 2007

Un-fulfilled


Ever since Sujoy had returned home, they were all talking about it. Sometimes with a look of apprehension, and sometimes in hallowed whispers, the corridors of the haveli abounded with mentions of the D-Day that everyone was dreading. One day, the apple of their eyes would depart again on his educational quest, to a life where a hundred sophisticated knives would skin him before he turned brown, somewhere between peering into fiery tandoors and thrusting a gloved hand into the freezer for some gooey chocolate ice-cream.

As for Sujoy, he was just happy to be back again. All the things that once seemed so old and dreary now jumped up at him with boundless delight. This included the frogs in the verandah who had spent a full year in viraha, mourning for their beloved. Every afternoon, while the house enveloped itself in the soporific lull of a siesta, the verandah bustled with strains of nether-activity. For all the frogs wanted to look their kissable best when their prince would saunter down to survey his harem later that evening. They were given tough competition by the jealous parrot at the other end of the house who lost no opportunity to screech her eligibility and availability to all those present. Not just the frogs and the parrot, even the occasional centipede was to be found scurrying across the majestic lotus-tiled floor of the mansion.

While the animal kingdom renewed its acquaintance with their prince, the kitchen echoed with the joyous clatter of steel utensils. The cooks spared no expense or effort and churned out dishes that would give a multi-hued Kanjivaram sari a run for its money. And Sujoy was always left with a satiated smile on his face reflecting his gastronomic ecstasy. After all, twelve months of having to go through a circus act of dexterity with those complicated bits of eminently fragile cutlery at every meal took its toll on any previously sane being.

Being home again was bliss indeed! No one was snapping at him to cut his nails, or sniffing the air delicately like an exhausted yogic miracle when he didn't take a bath. He could sleep as long as he liked, and could spend hours watching all those music videos that were dangerously 'kitsch' back there. He felt like he was floating on a wonderful feathery pillow which he did not have to fluff himself.

But...like all good things, this was to come to an end soon. The D-Day was nearing with the certainty of a half-hourly Balaji Telefilms thunderclap. The eerie feeling of impending doom was slowly creeping over the entire household. Sujoy's father was possessed with dread at the thought of having to go to the railway station to see his son off. Railway stations, with their imposed air of parting and departure, left him strangely unnerved. In another corner of the house, his brother was trying not to think of the year that loomed ahead endlessly, its absence of naughtiness making it seem like a convent school devoid of girls who rolled their skirt hems above their knees. Talking of girls, what in high heaven would he do without a veteran Chaser to give him tips? Life was bad. "Veryyyy, veryyyyy bath", he mused, thinking of how that delectable Jamaican girl in Grade 11 would say it.

The packing had begun. A laptop was stashed away at the bottom of the large trunk. In went ironed suits, chef's hats and a thousand more odds, ends and oddities. The frogs held a teary ras-leela in his honour. So teary, that some worried human neighbours came to investigate the source of the lamentations...

One fine day, they all woke up to realise that the DAY was here. Other diurnal and nocturnal pursuits stayed in a suspended state of hibernative animation and more pressing last-minute tasks were given due priority. A pair of drum-sticks went into the trunk. As Sujoy watched this, he was amused to hear his brain react in what would now become a predictable manner. But, looking at the grave expressions on the faces of the people around him, he firmly pushed these funny concerns out of his head. Mulling upon the edibility quotient of a pair of wooden drum-sticks was currently not a valid pre-occupation.

The DAY was here, and now it was time for the MOMENT to arrive. The hushed whispers seemed gratingly disturbed by the dull thud of the trunk being placed in the back of the car. Sujoy got into the car, accompanied by his mother and brother. His father took to the driver's chair; ghastly visions of the railway station clouded his brain and made him feel like a criminal being sent to the gallows. The engine rattled to life, shaking the inhabitants of the car out of a stupor that was induced by a mix of doom and sleep. As the car whooshed down the forlorn road by the river, Sujoy was bombarded by a volley of instructions that thundered down on him from all sides. They ranged from tips on keeping his clothes a tad whiter than his teeth to warnings about all those dangerous people who always contrived to lurk wherever he went. When the solid and re-assuring facade of the railway station loomed ahead, the instruction round once again faded into an aura of solemnity.

The sleepy clerk at the counter was quite irritated with this bunch of conscientious Indian citizens who seemed to think that their honesty was worth more than his sleep ever could be. Ignoring his unsuccessful attempt at customer service, they trudged into the station. Very soon, a round of announcements began, heralding the impending arrival of the train. And to everyone's surprise, the train got to the station on time. From a distance, Sujoy thought it looked like one of those quaint coaches, in its royal blue avatar. He strode towards the train with a horrible mix of nostalgia and anticipation. A ticket-checker held out his hand for the ticket. Sujoy proudly flicked open his shiny new leather wallet and extracted the ticket with a flourish. The TC took one look at the ticket and flung it back at him with a look of malicious triumph on his face. If a third person had had the good fortune of observing this startling exchange, he would have sworn that both men were a little too sozzled for the occasion. While Sujoy rolled his eyes as far and as wide as they would go, the moustache-endowed TC cast a smirk at the ticket with an almost incomprehensible swirl of his bushy upper-tail.

Sujoy's mother, who had been taking in this quick exchange with alternating feelings of intrigue and horror, suddenly snatched the ticket from his hands. She read every word of it, from the inanities in bold lettering that had a vague sense of welcome, to the fine print that always made one want to mutter the choicest profanities. Like a boomerang that had suddenly found its true calling, the date hit her in the face. In the eyes. Going by what this flimsy piece of paper had to say, they had missed the train by a month.

Yes, a whole month.

They went back home, like soldiers who'd just been told there was no war.

Chairs and tables may have been hurled,
Battle-bark unfurled,
All because of a date,
That came too late.

What ensued hereafter is best left to the reader's imagination…



July 15, 2007

The fishy cook

Recently, I got into a discussion about my not-so-exemplary culinary skills with ahem ahem, a hotel management student I know. As I waxed eloquent about the art of "cooking" Maggi, his smile kept threatening to get so wide that his lips were in danger of falling off his face.

Then I went on lecturing him on how to make a dosa. He innocently asked me what the batter was made of and I had to give him an extremely venomous glare. But tossing a dosa on a pan is something I can do, albeit with extreme trial and error. The first two dosas invariably have to be scraped off the pan with a calorie-shaving vigour. And after that, there ARE dosas, some thick, some thin, but never round. The same goes for my chapatis...whenever anyone dares to question me about the shape, I claim it is a paratha...now I thank my stars my dear friend here hasn't come across my idea of a paratha yet!

Thinking about my sporadic trysts with the kitchen brings to mind several culinary bloopers. One of the most labour-intensive ones was my attempt to make a sev sandwich. I spent two hours cutting the vegetables, all the time wondering what a lousy sandwich seller I could have been, with my speed ensuring that if I started preparations at 8 in the morning, I would probably have a few sandwiches ready by lunchtime. When I finally assembled it and grilled it, I got down to the most important bit - eating it. And as I triumphantly raised a piece of my creation to my mouth, I was subjected to the sight of the vegetable-moistened bread disintegrating into a hundred bits like one of my mother's besan laddoos. Followed by a colourful shower of vegetables from the sandwich to the plate, only to land in a heap that looked messier than the colourful condom heap that I once saw at Falkland Road.

Yet another of my favourites involves a brave attempt to knead atta/dough. I confidently dumped three cups of flour into a shallow pan and added a little water. After a while, I thought it was too dry, so I added more water. I ended up adding two cups of water to three cups of flour. And after a while, I realised that my dough possessed an uncanny resemblance to soup. To rectify the situation, I kept adding dough and water. When the pan threatened to dispense its soup mixture by brimming over, I stood back and realised...I wasn't trying to make dough boats in dough soup. I have no recollection of attempting to knead ANYTHING ever since.

My list of culinary misadventures and malfunctions does not end here. It involves dubious attempts to make chocolates and a particularly noteworthy effort to make tomato mozarella sauce. By the time I was done with my experimentation on the mozarella cheese, its consistency resembled that of a granite block...the overall appearance of my dish was quick to remind one of Bombay's potholed streets filled with muck in the monsoons....that sums up my cooking skills. Cooking is best left to others...I'd rather eat a paratha than make one.

Sivayan

Pics from Sivayan...
Captain...
Think pink...

Clear...ed


July 02, 2007

A cycle of cycles

It is an experience in itself, to bicycle on the roads of Bhubaneswar. For broke denizens of this world, like yours truly for example, there is hardly any other option available. The auto rickshaws here have taken it upon themselves to charge prices that make your pockets feel as weightless as an astronaut stranded in space. And well, buses are a non-existent rumour. One does occasionally hear of this fabled town bus that is as difficult to spot as Abhishek Bacchan on a local train. So well, bicycles that only need the occasional ek tanka for air seem the best option.

All the gorgeous women in those lovely Orissa sarees don't seem to be doing much. Because male cyclists always stare at my sweaty face and mismatched clothing and dirty sports shoes as if they've just seen an apsara from heaven. And then they sidle up close to you and say things they think are cute. Not that they are a major problem. All one has to do to shake them off is yell 'Problem hain kya...chal mere saath udhar signal pe police khadi hain baat karte hain!'

Then there is that demented lot that is so used to roads without footpaths that they prefer walking on roads even when there are perfectly decent footpaths. The really exceptional cases I've come across include a woman in Cuttack who landed up looking at her torn sari pallav with a shocked face after the handlebars of my cycle put an end to her fashion parade with swaying sari on a narrow street. The second incident involved this happy family of three who were thrown into sudden chaos after I almost drove right into them while they were holding hands and sauntering along a busy road like it was their private apple orchard.

Apple orchards apart, it is a lovely way to pick up some cool street slang and also discover a city...and psst...the best gupchup places in the city. :P

April 16, 2007

Firsts

My first article in Bombay papers is out! And it's about dance!

http://cities.expressindia.com/fullstory.php?newsid=231956

Yippie...but this time the feeling isn't as great as it was the last time around. But it's still there...

SHEESH!

What does one say when one roots for sane and good journalism and then finds one's own misquoted statement in the papers that reflects absolutely nothing that has really taken place? 'Et, tu?' or 'Pah!'

March 07, 2007

Blah

I've been really lethargic when it comes to blogging, of late. The lack of blogging in my life is a combination of being lazy and being busy.

January 28, 2007

Tetanus trouble

My idea of extreme torture is ANYTHING that involves a needle piercing my skin. Including injections, of course. And alas! The quagmires I land up in with my non-predilection for this...

Recently, I landed up with a splinter in my middle finger after some cheerleading exercises with the shower handle. I removed most of it, but a tiny bit just stayed there without my knowledge. I did not go to the friendly (roll eyes) neighbourhood doc for some motherly advice (roll eyes again). A few days later, I realized that the black spot in my almost healed wound did not really look like a cute black eye caused by a well-aimed jab, but that it was actually some foreign object nestling in the warm folds of my tissues.

So off I went to the doctor, with mother dearest in tow, in case a needle came into play. And it did. And how!

Since I have carefully avoided the sight of that thin and deadly needle for some years now, the friendly neighbourhoood doctor decided to punish me with a tetanus shot. The word ‘injection’ resulted in the usual change of behaviour – from a sane 18-year-old, I suddenly became a terrorized chimp who curled up on one corner of the examining table and started letting out ear-splitting shrieks. To add to the frenzy, the doctor suggested that my skinny arms were perfect for her cruel technique. I resisted all attempts made by her to reach ANY part of my anatomy till she brought the house down too, with her shrieks overshadowing mine. Then I thrust my well-endowed posterior at her and descended on the examining table with the air of a person going to the gallows.

The shot was just a pinch, but for some reason, I had to hold my butt all the way home. It ached like crazy....on the opposite side. Newton’s Third Law, anyone?

And wily woman that she was, she made sure she kept the home fires burning. She looked at my tiny wound and told me to give it a fitting visarjan in warm water to make everything come out by itself. I duly complied with the instructions, only to land up with a black line enclosed by very fast-growing skin in a sea of yellow goop they call pus.

Two days later, I was back with my middle finger problem. I wanted to make my feelings towards her very evident, so I thrust my middle finger out at her in a manner that would have shocked any all-knowing college teacher. But this innocent fifty-something was blissfully unaware of the larger implications of my not-so-polite gesture.

Then she opened my cut again with ... you guessed right, a needle, and when I asked her if she wasn’t going to administer some anaesthetic before doing so, she had a fit. Of laughter.

It didn’t hurt as much as I thought, though I squeezed my mother to the point where she was almost unconscious. She just scraped away the hard skin and extracted a splinter from the aggrieved finger like it was a Paramvir Chakra being awarded to her.

And yes, she charged me like a hundred bucks for the exercise. Moral of the story – You ask for torture, you pay for it!

January 23, 2007

Orissa - 1......traintales

I was in Orissa last December ( duh, last month, the English language makes things sound so pompous and faraway at times) to attend the 3rd International Odissi Festival organised by a group of culture lovers from voila ! - Washington DC. But jokes apart, it is interesting to see how the overseas Indian coterie keeps classical art forms alive with their overt soft corner from it that may come from staying in another culture for so many years....after all, it is only absence that has the power to make the heart grow fonder.

Anyway, every moment I spent in Orissa was fun! Also, every moment of the 1932 km train journey by the "Okate Sunna Okate Tommidi Mumbai-Bubaneshwaraaa Kaunark Expressa", as they say it in Andhra Pradesh was fun. One of the most funny train lines I ever heard was at Warangal station, where instead of saying ' .....thode hi samay me platform ek se ravaana hogi', the announcer said '........thode hi samay me platform ek se raavana hogi'. Whether she meant to imply that the train had been hijacked by the ubiquitous Ravana of Ramayana fame and that it was now going to Lanka, or whether she was just hoping that there would be some bigshot bureaucrat on the train who would make arrangements for better Hindi teachers in A.P. is another issue altogether.

On the way there, I did not feel like trusting the food on the train and constantly resorted to all the dry stuff I had carried. At Vishakapatnam, when I had run through all the ghar ka chapatis, I ordered dinner on the train and was subjected to a paste they termed as 'rice', dal in which I could have manually picked out the 'dal', potato curry where the curry bore an uncanny resemblance to orange paint in water, pickle in a sachet that needed three humans and a knife and a pair of scissors to open, and yes, the crowning glory, chapatis, in a thin definitely below 20 micron plastic bag, two in number, bundled into an incomprehensible roll of dry atta and burnt patches with not a spot of oil, forget ghee, not even oil on them. And tearing them apart would have put Bhima's strength to the test.

More later, right now, I haven't missed college to blog, but to sleep and recuperate and get a hold on projects!

Some pics from my Orissa trip...



The Mahanadi river in Cuttack.....so cool for people who have rivers behind their house !
A cute cat who happens to be a tomcat frightened of everything ! This one was taken just after a more rowdy neighbourhood cat mauled him.



Puri, with the Jagannath Temple hidden behind the profusion of chaddi-banian ads in all its scaffolded glory.