December 26, 2008
December 25, 2008
December 24, 2008
On Sunday, I attended this dance event at an open-air theatre near my place. The amphitheatre is surrounded by tall buildings...that somehow curbs the amphi quotient. I headed towards the first few rows, but my path was blocked by an usher - reserved, he said. Nevertheless, I found a nice place right above the reserved rows. The compere entered and greeted the audience and made some comment on the lines of 'oh such a nice evening, so much breeze and so many trees'. Then came the clincher - no photographs and videos please. Okay, the flash bit and how it distracts dancers, I understand. Reminds me, I just chanced upon a blog post where the author ranted about how she can't fathom why dancers allow people to post their choreography on Youtube. Though she made some valid points, not everyone can afford to buy 200 and 500 rupee tickets to attend events with decent dancers. Though I've always wondered, in the case of many dancers...by the time they become famous they're too soggy and too sappy. And why not put stuff on Youtube...sure, there are those who learn stuff off Youtube videos. But I'm sure 95% of those who watch a dance performance on Youtube are not exactly about to spring up from their chairs and mimic what is going on. Online videos have their disadvantages, but they also grant phenomenal accessibility. And one likes to watch a good performance again, there aren't that many anyway. The official videographers will probably sell me a DVD for a bomb. And copyright? Dude, the choreography may have been passed down to you and is probably performed by a hundred others. Whom are you kidding?! When dance is such a big business - many popular dancers in India are abroad for months at a time, doing workshops wherever they go, that choreography we're talking about is being passed on to hundreds of people who may find different uses to put it to. So why are we singling out video footage and lampooning it as a means of copyright violation?
December 23, 2008
On our way, we passed a popcorn thelawala, whose kadhai gave out this extremely enticing aroma of roasted corn, so we treated ourselves to some of that. We also walked all around Versova, yours truly ogling the bungalows...I still want a bungalow, but one by the beach is first priority. A lot of icecream and dessert places seem have sprung up - there was one called 'Havmor', and its tagline said something like 'havvfunn'. Numerology is definitely ruling the roost. Now as long as they call it pav bhaji and not ppavv bhajiii, I don't care!
December 21, 2008
One day, I had a bright idea. I took a plastic tiffin set to store mess dinner so that I could have it later. After I had removed the onions from the dal, I wasn't left with much. But what really cuaght my eye was the layer of oil clinging to the sides of the container - it conjured up memories of oil spills on wide oceans, what did they call them...oil slick? Since then I've soaked those containers in a thick solution of water and dishwashing soap thrice, overnight. It still smells of mess dal. Whenever I don't feel too motivated about eating my mother's cooking, all I have to do is go sniff the container. It works better than stories of ghosts who gobble children up.
JNU has conspired to feed us goat poo. If the mess dishes out oil spills, the "dhabas" around campus are no better. I ate the aloo paranthas at 24/7 till I started bursting into tears at the sight of a parantha. And since typhoid, I haven't eaten a morsel there. And even if you did eat there, how much choice do you have, between aloo parantha, dal makhani, paneer and rajma, everything decent on the menu's finished.
Sabarmati dhaba is no better. When I earn some money, I'll donate a bar of soap. The Maggi vessel, well, has been scarred for life by the tortured souls of countless Maggi packets that have boiled to their death in its depths. They also make gaja, though the flies seem to enjoy it more than the pronunciation-deficient people who come and ask for gAAjAA as if it were ganja.
Canteens...Aravali, called the best, अंधों में काना राजा, as they say... the food is marginally nicer than "death-camp" cuisine, but the plates are super-dirty. Everytime I go there, I suppress the urge to scourge the plate clean with my probably grubby handkerchief.
TEFLA, the one time I went there, I figured the sofas look too Egyptian pyramid-like mouldy. No, maybe not. Tutankhamen and his buddies probably knew more about preservation. What's the food like, one daren't ask. Library canteen. I once asked for papad, the guy came rushing with it, it fell to the floor, he put it on a plate, and gave it to me. The dosas come through a window grill that hasn't been...you get the drift.
And the oh-so-famous Mamu's - big price, big benches, big voice, no VFM.
December 20, 2008
I am enjoying secret dessert - the one that really makes the night (and the weighing scales) - loads of milk powder with a dash of milk and as much sugar as you desire.
12.55 AM, Sunday
I am growing quite fat. But Resmi tells me she put on 5 kgs in two weeks. I can't be that fast, huh? Makes me feel slightly better.
I had pav bhaji at Mithibai the other day. Divine (and cheap). Oh, I would give anything to teach those Khattha Meetha guys at Sarojini how to make good pav bhaji. In an era where my coffee mug has been gifted by a nationalised bank but made in China, how come the capital city has no decent pav bhaji?! It's a crime, I tell you. Bombay pays all the tax and they can't even show us gratitude! Worse still, I have not heard of vada pav there...even Bhubaneswar had it, so what if it was priced as Rs. 55...the only thing Dilliwalas know are samosas, in all horrible shapes and sizes, dripping with oil, with more oil, with blobs of boiled potato, I can't believe I actually loved samosa once. And that little octopus they call pakoda...always pyaz ka pakoda, pyaz, that detestible little tuber or whatever it is, all over the place, looking like tiny clusters of tree gnomes...aarghh!
Had batata wada for dinner! Danced enough this afternoon...so not too guilty about it!
Watched some Yakshagana today. Only when I reached the auditorium, I realised there was one little problem - my knowledge of Kannada (the lack of it rather) has landed me in a quagmire (ahem ahem) earlier. Nevertheless, though it took me a while to figure out it had something to do with the Subhadra and Arjuna of Mahabharata, I did...I think another three years of watching Yakshagana and I can return to the cook at the Hindu canteen and apologise in chaste Kannada for telling him he didn't know Kannada!
Also, it's more fun watching it live, I slept through every video in class.
December 19, 2008
Ekamra college by night...but the colour of the sky is even more charming...just like the light blue shade in a 12 crayon set of wax crayons in my kiddie days.
Behind Kapilaprasad, Ganesh Chaturthi celebrations are in progress...the locality is called Azad Nagar if I'm not mistaken.
December 04, 2008
December 03, 2008
November 11, 2008
October 30, 2008
Visual arts midsem next week, need all the divine intervention I can get.
October 26, 2008
October 22, 2008
But, yes, I have managed to rid myself of some of my most nonsensical fantasies. And while they made me feel like the world had come to an end once they collapsed around me or were shattered by others, they've taught me that belief is precious and should not be wasted on anything and everything. I have been robbed of my ability to approach things with a completely open mind and proclaim my love to the world and anyone else who would listen. Now I treat every new thing cautiously, even if I try really hard, I always start with a bit of skepticism.
But it brings me more peace of mind. At least, there is a false sense of insulation that I can believe in, because it is a figment of my imagination. In short, I try to make myself labour under the delusion that I don't care. Not with much success, but I don't know if I would be proud of this success.
October 21, 2008
"In case of any problem, you are welcome to contact us at 24*7 Hrs. Customer Support at 011-23340000, MON - SAT(10 AM - 6 PM) 011 - 23345500/ 4787/ 4773/ 5800/ 8539/ 8543 , Fax No. 23345900, Chennai Customer Care 044 - 25300000 or mail us at email@example.com. We will be glad to help you out in solving any such problem encountered during booking your ticket."
Well, I understand that one number is probably 24*7 and I assure you, having spent some absolutely frustrating minutes trying to get an operator on the phone on railway numbers, that your calls will never be answered.
The best part is, I still don't have tickets to Delhi. The future looks bleak, from where I see it.
October 19, 2008
I've developed this alarming fear of suitcases. The thought of packing makes me break into a sweat. I am absolutely TIRED of packing and unpacking and then packing. I cannot live out of a suitcase anymore. What makes this worse is the underlying knowledge that it's not a two month Orissa adventure but a two year committment that I voluntarily made.
I don't find the time to get out of campus, and now, after one month of not attending class, it's very unlikely I'll find time for ANYTHING other than those books. Visual art is frankly freaking me out. I still haven't got over that failing the drawing exam block. In those classes I feel like a kindergarten tot trying to give the Class 12 exams. Everything flies a mile above my head. No, two miles.
And I know school is great, so I don't want to leave the course and come back. I'm enjoying what I do there. I'm having a ball. But I just cannot stand leaving Bombay. Maybe it's just that I don't have a place to live and that I don't know where I'll go when I go back to Delhi. I hope the PG thing I'm trying to arrange works out. I never thought I would have a househunting story. But now I have some very bitter memories of the whole process. It is just so draining - the fact that you don't know when the roof above your head is going to collapse. Or worse, snatched away.
And I actually thought everything was going so great till I was rudely jolted out of my reverie. In any case, I have to go back in five days, and I hate that. I never knew I'd want to cry for a city. Now I know.
October 14, 2008
I went there and realised I did not possess the "booklet", where doctors would chart the trajectory of my ailments. No problem. I paid for an OPD card, at the ominously named "Injection and Dressing Room", where injections are administered by a guy in sleeveless banyan. Now now, I have no prejudice against this naturally air-conditioned form of dress, but he didn't even have six-pack abs...more like a six kg stomach. So after "injection sahab" finished doing whatever he was doing to a girl behind the curtain, she looked quite hapless and thin, may I add, he came to attend to the business of my OPD card.
"Ab tak aapne OPD booklet kyon nahin banvaaya?"
"Health Center aane ka mauka hi nahin mila."
No appreciation shown for my humour, he asked for my ID card, filled the OPD card up and told me where the doctor was. Off I went. Outside the doctor's room, it seemed rather quiet. So I peeked into his chamber and saw he was attending to a patient. I waited, patiently. Very soon, the beleagured patient emerged and it was my turn to go in.
Seeing that Bappi Lahiri meets failed Abba aspirant meets Michael Jackson fruit salad, I knew I was up against something very unpleasant. He barked, "Close the door." I promptly followed orders. Then he made me sit on a really tiny bar stool and asked, "What's wrong with you?"
Me: I've had a fever, headache and stomach upset.
Doc: How do you know you have a fever. Did you check?
Me: No, but I know...
Doc: What do you mean you know. You can't play guessing games with your body.
(Pulls thermometer out of cleansing solution with a flourish and shoves it in my mouth. Turns the clock on the table towards me)
Doc: One and a half minutes.
Me: (Still struggling with thermometer jabbed into mouth) Mmm...hmmm.
(Meanwhile, he returns to a small brochure on Abba. I have nothing against those tall and gorgeous singers, but hellooooo, you're supposed to be working. There is something called a work ethic!)
(Time passes. He removes the thermometer.)
Doc: (Triumphant look covering his face slowly) You don't have a fever. You're completely normal.
Me: No but it keeps coming and going you see.
Doc: (In the tone of a petulant child) But you don't have a fever.
(Interrupts me icily)
Doc: Open your mouth. (Peers in) You have a cold. Stomach upsets can happen when you have the common cold virus.
Me: Ok, if that's what you say...
After two more doctors, two thousand rupees and near heart attack moments, I realised I had typhoid. So much for the common cold virus. I'm beginning to hate Delhi. And fear suitcases.
September 27, 2008
I remember thinking of a topic to write on for the Personal Journal column in IE last year, and Alaka said - no house-hunting stories. I never thought I would have one.
Well, that's how Murphy's law functions. So now I've decided there is no point shifting from hostel to hostel and am looking for a place off campus till I get a room of my own.
September 08, 2008
I'm leaving Orissa tonight. Sad trip...no cycling, not much, my body couldn't take it. I couldn't even make it to Sisupalagarh. And I was planning Hirapur.
More when I'm back in JNU.
Am terribly homesick though. Maybe it's just the lack of decent food.
August 31, 2008
I am dead bored. What's new?
I know this is one of THOSE days. I slept through the afternoon and stuff, so I'm quite soporific-lethargic.
Dinner in the mess was priced at Rs. 50 for guests, so I just decided to skip it and ended up at the horrid 24*7 instead.
Kulfi was also bad.
This is one of those pregnant moments.
August 30, 2008
I thought the worst form of physical exercise that ever existed was walking (running) to SAA from Lohit Hostel, knowing that you are very very late, and feeling very very guilty about that. What is "worst" about it is the sun. Though it is only 9 am, the sun is in midday mode, beating down on your head. I've come to the conclusion that I can take a bath on my way to SAA and manage to wash off all the soap by the time I'm there. But just for your information, I do it in the bathroom.
For the past few days, the water crisis has been acute. So we get water for a couple of hours in the morning and evening only. Today, it was particularly bad. In the morning, I went to Sarojini Market and found exactly the kind of bucket I had envisioned. Thereafter, I went to Sagar's place and picked up one bag. Of course, on the way there, I got lost and ended up on the way to Kotla before he came and rescued me.
I was dog tired by the time I returned and I used up almost all my water to take a bath since I was sure the water would come back in the evening. At 7, for the lack of something to do, I fell asleep for "20 minutes" and woke up at 8.15 pm. As I was going down to dinner, I saw people dragging buckets to the second wing. Then I got to know that the moment Swasti has been talking about had arrived. The tankers were here.
My new pink bucket finally had its moment of glory. I took it down and wondered where the tanker was. A boy hanging around near the entrance had to show me how to use the valve. Of course, I couldn't carry it up. I promptly called upon the loiterer to help me up the stairs with it. He looked at his friends in an embarassed way and obliged. A short distance later, a friend saw me struggling and we carried the water up together. I went down for a second but filled only half of it this time, since I didn't want another back breaking round...
Even the water cooler was running out of water. I used the mess cooler to wash my utensils and gather around eight litres of water...
All this left me totally bewildered. If I continue doing this for two years, I could give any Parisienne model a run for her money. Meanwhile, I am trying to figure whether living in the Amazon rainforest is easier. At least, in those jungles, you don't have to worry about the water going away.
August 26, 2008
I will never figure how to reach the 9 am class on time. Every morning, I exclaim how I will be early this one day and then promptly do something to ensure that I can't leave the hostel before 9. This morning, while I was huffing and puffing it to SAA from Lohit Hostel, I suddenly realised HOW hot it was. In a matter of minutes, my white shirt was stained with mud, I was dripping like the water crisis of Lohit was caused by my exertions and I reached class looking like a refugee, which I am.
To add to the mess, the prof just realised I'm not an earnest student who comes from Ghaziabad or someplace. Which means I have to be on time tomorrow.
Meanwhile, our cinema classes can be Eskimo glacial. And sometimes soporific. I did my first sleeping session at JNU today. I dozed off for 15 minutes and missed the 3 min 11 sec Touch of Evil tracking shot I've been waiting for these past two classes. Anyway, not that I regret my refreshing nap...!
I have been going Golgappa hunting. I quite liked the stuff they have at Aggarwal Sweets in Munirka. Meanwhile, someone has asked me to try out the golgappa at a place called Evergreen. They also sell pav bhaji at Aggarwal. It looks quite revolting, with that chole brown colour and all the tomato and coriander garnishing. If I muster the courage to taste it, you will definitely hear about it.
JNU, being such a big campus, has a sad variety as far as food goes. Aloo paranthas can be good, some North Indian dishes are decent. The rest includes badly cooked South Indian food and extremely oily Chinese food.
Unfortunately, there is no chaat scene. I can't even find a simple golgappa/bhelpuri guy on campus. How sad :(.
August 21, 2008
I've learned a lot. These five days have been a crash course in life.
On Sunday, I stood in the courtyard of Ganga hostel like a refugee, trying to figure how I would live without having any place for my luggage. Now I've learnt to take up minimum space. And share beds.
The aloo paranthas are great. South Indian food sucks...not that I want any of it...
I finally got down to buying some essentials today...a bucket, some rope for a clothesline and so on. So I feel more settled. I figured that even if I have to live like a refugee, I might do so decently.
The walk from Lohit hostel to SAA is too long when I have to choose between breakfast or punctuality. Also, since for some unknown but surely valid reason, we have only one cyber cafe and one proper phone booth. The campus spans over 1000 acres. What fun.
August 12, 2008
It is 1:32 am. I have broken my promise to myself by not going to bed in time. Today, I was walking towards Smitalay on SV Road. I narrowly sidestepped a pool of water splattered with paan. At the same time, a No. 222 bus passed by. I felt a little sad, having to leave this city and go away.
This was a planned move that I’ve contemplated over two years. And I am generally not the type who’s averse to leaving home. I think nothing of taking off to Bhubaneswar for a month or two. Even here, I know it only takes a day to come back, but there is this underlying apprehension.
I have managed to understand my rush of feelings for certain places. When I first stayed in Bangalore and Bhubaneswar, I came back smitten. Looking back, I bored everyone within a mile with tales of the place. I left nothing to the imagination. Now, I don’t go overboard. I liked what I saw of Delhi, I’m not as scared as I was, and am looking forward to it.
I am listening to Sitaaron se aage. I associate it with the ethnography project…which is obvious enough. But now that I’m going away, it is a sound I will associate with Bombay. Though this city is quite the opposite…chaotic and crowded, while this song speaks of silence.
There may be another explanation for this sudden urge to listen to that song.
Sitaaron se aage jahaan aur bhi hain, abhi ishq ke imtihaan aur bhi hain.
It probably means I’m going to fall in love with many other places, things and…
Yesterday, I finally lunched at Rajdhani in Malad. For the past two years, I’ve been hearing an assortment of people praise its food. A few months ago, Ipsita and I went there, intent on having dinner, but there were so many people waiting for a table and we had to eat at the Food Court instead.
I met Poornima at 12 pm, determined to beat the rush. We were among the first few customers of the day. I was happy at not having to queue up with “whole families and their boisterious kids”, a dark prediction by someone else. It was amusing watching Poornima and the thali…we could easily seat her among all those tiny steel cups.
Strangely, dal-bati choorma has eluded me, even at Chokhi Dhani, the heritage village near Jaipur. The same goes for Rajdhani. There was a choice of dals – sweet and spicy and a heavenly sweet kadhi. The vegetable dishes included palak paneer, papdi, chana in besan/curd-based gravy and potato gravy. They had a “Bengali sweet” – chamcham in this case, the only incongruous addition to the meal. Apart from that, there was jalebi with rabdi and halwa. The rotis were soft and warm, while the thepla was tantalisingly salty. I tried the khichdi and a pulao, the name of which sounded like “ramarama”.
Poornima was fascinated by the pots of warm water with receptacles to wash one’s hands in. Alas, we remained enthralled only till we came to the bill. The last time I was at Inorbit, I remember the cost of a meal there was around Rs. 170. But our lunch set us back by Rs. 260 each. We were both left with just enough money to go back home. Not amused by the indiscriminately high rate of inflation, we didn’t leave a tip. Rather, we couldn’t afford to.
August 10, 2008
Not everyone could make it to my farewell party, but it turned out to be great fun. My friends surprised me with a delicious eggless cake and a touching card. As in all Ranjana parties, we watched some Odissi and sincerely discussed a performance of Bandha Nritya. But I ensured a good quantity of Dard-e-Disco and Mauja hi Mauja in the end. Ipsita and I made lame attempts to lap-dance, much to the consternation of Reuben. I finally ended up injuring her finger and applying the peach balm held by white monkey to it...
Krupali wants to give all the pouty sultry sirens a run for their money. My rude angel says she looks like her nose hit the wall. This is what we will post on HER matrimonial profile!
An extremely interesting composition, with Krupali playing a cat...she is proud of her ability to make feline faces. Rajat is an active supporter. Meanwhile, Reuben contemplates the madness around him, while Ipsita's desperately trying to dial 100, asking those dudes to come and rescue her from us.
August 09, 2008
August 08, 2008
I read that Haji Ali is going to be demolished soon. It's such a shame...I pass it all the time, but I've never been there. I must try to make a trip before I leave
Today has been another 'let's gorge on Bombay delicacies' day. On a whim, I went to Dadar for batata vadas. I wish I had a reason to be out on Tuesday...it's ekadashi and I want to be in Dadar, sampling sabudana khichdi. I remember how we used to declare that we would go to Doctor's mess on ekadashi, especially after Monish and Animesh raved about the khichdi. We got the vadas, but always missed the khichdi!
I continued with some shrikhand from Samant Bros. It was sour, and I couldn't feel the kesar. Warana is the best, while Chitale comes a close second. Amul shrikhand tends to feel dry and grainy. Parsi Diary has amazing stuff but it's also ridiculously expensive.
I wanted to go to bed by 11 pm, hahhahahaha! But I'm not sleepy...
If SAA doesn't work out, I could always go work for Google. Or Indian Railways!
I should write more often. Really write.
Poornima and I are planning to have lunch at Rajdhani on Sunday. While one person thinks I ought to queue up by 11 if I want to eat by 3, I'm being slightly more optimistic. But eating at Rajdhani days are jinxed for me. Every single time I go with the intention of eating there, I end up eating some other horrid thing.
So much cake today. How many calories?
August 02, 2008
July 30, 2008
July 29, 2008
Now, there is this archaic document called the migration certificate. You are required to produce it when you switch universities. So, you remain a student of University A even 30 years later, by which time you don't know where your degree lies (if you collected it in the first place). That you are not allowed into campus buildings is another story altogether. And that you have no access to its library is yet another.
To obtain this treasured scrap of paper, you fill a four page form that is processed by the college. A sheaf of miscellaneous documents accompanies the application. You hotfoot it to the university campus, trying to get there before 1 or after 1:30 or before 2:30. If you are not as unfortunate as I am (or more punctual), you shall be one of the privileged ones in the "accessible" line.
You reach the head of the line, only to be told you're at the wrong counter. Then you sigh and join the right line. Please note that the person at the counter will have a sudden urge to clear out her cupboard just when you begin to think this is the end of it. Once she makes sure she can't send you back because you attached the right things (in the right order) with the right stamps, she hands over a tiny receipt and asks you to come back in eight days.
Eight days later, I go expectantly...there are few people around. The woman at the counter looks for my form but never finds it. I am apprehensive...I wouldn't put it past MU to ask me to go back and redo the whole thing because they lost my form. Finally, she finds my certificate, and makes me sign on the receipt book itself.
I am disappointed. I have made a substantial contribution to the raddi profit of this university. And they still skimp on the paper. My migration certificate is smaller than a stationery shop receipt!
July 14, 2008
July 07, 2008
The day (and moment) the BMM results were declared will remain etched in my heart forever. I was on a cycle, struggling to balance a whole bag of vegetables, trying to buy paneer while protecting myself from the rain. In the midst of this confusion, I received an SMS with my result. As I cycled towards the sweet shop, past BDA Chhak, I could only think of one thing - balancing a load of bhaji while your results are declared is not the best way to do things, but it sure is the funniest. To celebrate, I started singing at the top of my voice in English. And ate a whole lot of chhena poda!
Yesterday's trip to Dhauli was also fabulous. The paddy fields flanking NH - 203 make it a wonderful cycling trail. More on it when I'm back home...
July 03, 2008
Now the brain called for nourishment. My taste buds were clamouring for warm and crisp singadas. Amanda was thinking on similar lines, so we ran out of Udayagiri like 10-year-olds on an overdose of testosterone. At Khandagiri Chhak, we looked around, but couldn't find any singadas but we ate some nice alu chops. Further down the road, near Jagamara, we stopped again. This time, the vendor had a selection of vadas - he had singada, dal vada, alu chop and potol chop (wish Manguli were here :P). I tried some of the singada (which was ok) and potol chop (which tasted nice). As far as singadas go, I haven't had a single decent one ever since I got to Orissa.
Near Gandamunda Chhak, we met Saswat...safe in "rainycoat and rainypants". Amanda was shivering from getting drenched (a little heavier and she would have put Sridevi to shame). Ever the chivalrous guy, he gallantly offered her his rainwear (I prodded him to). In a short while, we stopped for chai in plastic cups. All the priming had prepared me for the grand finale - gupchup (wink). At Lingaraj Vihar in Pokhariput, we found a gupchup guy who had braved the rain. He was not great, but who cares when gupchup beckons!
Gupchup done, I was back home. I practised for a bit and then fell asleep after a boring dinner. But the afternoon fun overshadowed it all.
June 29, 2008
"Idyllic" is how one could describe the weather. By the time we were past Pokhariput, we decided to sing...and we found Ramani ratana most appropriate. But I only kept it up till Gandamunda Chhak; it is difficult to hold a tune and bicycle.
Amanda attracted quite a bit of attention, especially in Jagamara. The fact that she was on a gents cycle didn't help much. Some people passed audible comments, my favourite being - Look at the whitey and negro on bicycles! We were at Khandagiri Chhak in 25 minutes. We crossed the national highway and cycled on. A comical wrong turn brought us to the western boundary of the Khandagiri complex, where I amiably cycled down a slope for 1 km...don't even ask what it was like on the way back.
Amanda had to pay a hefty entrance fee, but she did not give in without a struggle...she insisted she was Oriya. The place wasn't too dirty...I guess that is because it isn't an extremely popular destination...Konark and Puri seem to overshadow practically everything here.
The cave in the picture is Ranigumpha in the Udayagiri complex. It was raining heavily when we finally made it to Hathigumpha. We rested for a while, then outfitted ourselves suitably. Amanda photographed my bangs and I tucked in my kurta the way my sister used to do ghagra-cholis as a kid.
Love was evidently in the air - there were couples in cute poses all over...while some went the whole hog and "anka palanke shayan" ed their spouses, others looked like endorsements for Fevicol.
Anyway, monsoon fury prevented us from venturing any further. We also spent time standing on a rock and locating Lingaraj Temple and Dhauli from a distance. We walked down and reached the entrance of Khandagiri. After some deliberation, we decided to go in. When we reached the first level, near Tentuligumpha, there was an exodus of people from the temple above. We reached the temple eventually and went around, trying to read descriptions in Oriya. There was an awkward moment when I unbuttoned my raincoat and the men huddled at the entrance of the temple stared at my bohemian kurta tuck.
To be continued...
June 27, 2008
June 23, 2008
I've been trying out the pav bhaji at various places around town.
The one at Food Junction in Bapuji Nagar is full of chhole masala and garam masala. And it is served with SWEET pav. The most distinctive feature of pav bhaji is its aroma. But this one smells like standard fare from a bad cook who thinks pav bhaji is from Punjab because both start with "P". When I talked to the staff about it, they said - try it again and you'll know the difference. Sorry guys, Rs. 40 means 4 days of good gupchup.
Last Saturday, I cycled towards Ram Mandir on an impulse. I had already had my share of gupchup for the day and was looking for a light dinner. I landed up at the New Marrion chat counter, outside Cafe Coffee Day. If Food Junction was a poor cousin of the real thing, this one was an outright alien. Tiny bits of capsicum, carrot, potato and a few stray green peas floating in curry - that's pav bhaji for you. And all this, with undercooked BUNS sliced in two...what a pity.
I remember the pav bhaji at Forum Mall in 2006 - at least it looked like pav bhaji. Maybe I should just haul that cycle down there and check it out again...
It's a long story, but its main elements are
1. Overhaul of my luggage
2. Prayers to my patron saint...and a host of other patron saints.
3. Cycling in the sun to Lingaraj Temple and back and back again.
4. Dealing with tantrum-throwing rickshaw drivers who are worried about the adverse effects of my dusty tyre on their nua-ly painted autos...with good reason!
4. Waiting around and admiring this uncanny ability that all Oriya mechanics possess - one that lets them do all the dilly-dallying of the world like it's their birthright.
One thing I've learnt - never lose your cycle keys. And now I have a headache...time to head home.
June 16, 2008
It's been raining all day. And quite heavily at that. I had been planning a trip to Bhubaneswar station for a while. Since I couldn't put off cancelling that ticket for the 18th anymore, I bicycled there today - autorickshaws take away all the fun. I had to pull my pants all the way above my knee. Only one side was partially protected by the raincoat. I've prayed to all the Gods I know - I shouldn't end up with a cold.
Gupchup is going strong - the rains do not deter my hardy stomach. Only malpuas do. Even the sight of them makes me want to puke. The gupchup vendor near Market Building now recognises me. They cleared out all the hawkers from the interior and opened the road to two-wheelers. I miss my "Bhubaneswar Gupchup". Narula's Kulfi has diversified to include Badam Milkshake on the menu.
I watched Sarkar Raj with Sujata Apa and Amanda a few days ago. It was an interesting film and it was interesting to observe the theatre. The electricity was cut during the movie and while they switched to an inverter, people kept yelling their heads off and booing the theatre management. There was claps and whistles from the stalls when Abhishek held Aishwarya's hand, but that happens at Alfred too. What was most intriguing was the way the lights went out...almost funny.
I had a very bad experience at an ATM that very day. It has again reminded me there are some idiots in this world. And I am not one of them. How narcissistic!
I'm happy I went today - I got one of the last tickets for that date. Since its just a few days after Rath Yatra, there are probably a lot of people going back. I hope it doesn't turn out to be a very bad idea though...I have a middle berth...that's shitty...but it's at least a berth. Poor Amanda travelled SITTING...sharing the ticket collector's seat with others. She says there was stuff even in the loos...I hope it's not that bad when I go.
I've been cooking! My first attempt was upma - a fortnight ago. That very night, I made some biryani. I must have asked a hundred people how to cook rice. I added some paneer and carrots. And biryani masala. And it turned out perfect. Satchita came that night. I went to Sangita Apa's house with a small sample. Though I landed up at 10 pm without any notice, they were quite nice to me. She tasted the biryani and approved of my culinary expertise.
The next day, I went bonkers. Sabudana khichdi. A jinxed dish that our family has been unable to perfect over decades. Since Sangita Apa had returned my tiffin with peanuts in them, I roasted them and Satchita crushed them. I soaked the sabudana, cut potatoes and chillies...my fingers burned for the rest of the day. I used a really tiny kadhai and burnt it a bit, made it slightly soggy, but I think the effort was commendable.
Now I feel like I can give any five-star chef a run for his money, but psst psst, whenever I make khichdi Sangita Apa has to measure the stuff...so you know where I stand...
I love the view from the terrace. My favourite occupation is - standing on the terrace and staring out into the vast open field that borders Ekamra College and faces our house.
Too much khichdi. Time for a menu change. The downside is we have no gas.
Time to go. This cafe's closing. To "Benasin". For dinner. Am tired of bread and cornflakes.
So off we went last Monday. We walked to Deula Sahi but there was no one because of the rain. So we went back to get the scooter and then went elsewhere. Once we started, I ate twenty gupchups comfortably. After 30, we took a small break. At 40, I started draining the water out.
When we reached 50, the vendor asked us if we really wanted to eat any more. He cautioned us against the ill-effects of gupchup. At 57, I had to throw the towel in...all that water made me feel pregnant. I paid the bill, since Sangeet ate 58 to defeat me. But that's a narrow margin...someday the world gupchup record shall be mine...
June 09, 2008
June 04, 2008
Our new house in BDA colony is a palace compared to the Old Town hovel. Thanks Sangita Apa, for helping us find it. Life's getting better.
However, I have reconciled myself to the fact that nothing can be perfect. And don't even go near picture perfect. My new house is a magnet for red ants. My first morning here, I awoke to find my beloved coconut oil bottle surrounded by ants. I went to Cuttack on Sunday and returned the next day. Only to find all the provisions swarming with ants. In the evening, there were scores of moths around the lights. I went out and came back to a bunch of them lying dead on the kitchen floor, being eaten by...none other than...the ants!
I spent the rest of the evening bathing the house in lindane powder and Laxman Rekha.I cleared all the ants from around the food. But they were back soon.
Yesterday, Sangita Apa got me breakfast. How the ants managed to smell the chapatis and enter a SEALED tiffin is beyond my imagination...they beat my gupchup radar.
Then comes the dog. Shera, my downstairs neighbour, hates me for some inconceivable reason. He believes that his divine calling lies in leaping at me and mauling me to death as soon as he sees me. Which means that every trip past his house has to be made with extreme caution, after confirming that he is tethered to something as strong as an iron pole.
Have to go cook dinner...the next edition of insectopedia will be here soon.
May 27, 2008
I'm in Orissa again.
Our roof leaks.
Last night, a giant cockroach alighted on the wall. I screamed to Amanda to rescue me. She darted into the room with a plastic measuring cup. The vile creature was near the window-sill but showed no signs of exiting by the window. While Amanda was trying to trap it and drag it towards its true destination, it changed its mind and decided to leave us alone after all. Unfortunately, it gave her a small fright while doing so, making her throw the cup down after it.
Now our second floor hovel is hemmed in by haphazard constructions that make Kalbadevi look like Chandigarh. All our windows open out into the terraces of others' homes. So this cup gave a bhadralok nighttime bather a good knock on the head. She yelled at us and Amanda apologised. The fun began when her husband stepped into the argument. Amanda was left speechless trying to explain her act in Oriya. She was reduced to telling him - Chill dude, keep the cup. But he showed no signs of relenting.
Then I stepped in to help her. In my purest Hindi, I explained to Mr. Red Gamcha that no Bombay gangster was baying for his wife's blood. But he shouted at me to come take the cup. I expressed my inability to navigate the jungle of similar looking houses, all with Minus who wed Milus. I apologised repeatedly, but to no avail. He opined that I couldn't murder a person and get away with saying sorry. I was unaware of the murderous potential of plastic measuring cups. I didn't know killing someone was as simple. Gamchabhai will bond with my dad, who also thinks people are out to kill him when he sees safety pins strewn on the floor. Or a fragment from a glass bangle.
All this while, Amanda kept up refrains of - Chill dude, you can keep the cup, though I like it. Gamchabhai even mentioned the police. That is when I lost my carefully cultivated cool, apologised for the last time, told him to go take a walk, and shut the window in his face.
Later, his wife yelled at him and I think I heard a few pots banging too...
May 19, 2008
April 25, 2008
April 08, 2008
Samsmaranam was lovely but it has left me sleep-starved and exhausted. Time to meet up with my old paramour.
Let me get back to figuring out why India's planning commission doesn't have any planning to do...
April 04, 2008
I've learnt a new word - निशाचर, which means nocturnal, according to Ipsita. I'm nowhere close to completing my portion. Most professors seem to have pulled a fast one on us. But I've learnt new things today and taught some.
4. 36 AM
Horizontal communication made me feel like walking on a tightrope. Vertical was like bungee jumping without those ropes tethered to your ankles.
I have a French spa voucher I don't know what to do with.
If PK Ravindranath can get published, so can I!
I turned twenty today. Ish! Doesn't feel like I'm two decades old. I've lived through the fall of the Berlin wall. And changed centuries. Too much packed into a few years. Am an "adult" now. Does that make me feel heady? I think dizzy is more like it.
I want a dog.
Just received a birthday SMS.
What a night! As a child, I used to measure myself before going to bed on the eve of my birthday. And then check in the morning to see if I had grown an inch.
I came online to check on NWICO. Let me do that.
And I should sleep. Or I'll miss breakfast again.
It's the most exciting meal of the day. Sometimes. I'm tired of junk food.
Yes NWICO dear, I'm coming.
BMM has made me an editing and layout junkie.
Hmm. I'm still optimistic. And I should get offline. And I've ruined my English.And no one seems to speak in English any more.I've become a Bambaiya champ, by the way.Kya life me hain. Kucch Is Tara. Parting question: In which country is my height? Lol, I meant heart.
Talking of heights and lol, I've been wanting to visit Lahaul and Spiti. When I have money, I will. Columbus and Vasco da Gama did most of the work, but there must be some place on earth that is yet to be discovered. Why talk of the earth, India is big enough. Some forest that no one has ventured into. Some river that no one has bathed in. Animals who have not seen human beings. Ah, I wish there is such a place. The prospect of discovery is thrilling. Even if the place of my dreams does not exist, it is always nice to dream. Dreams give you a story. And stories are intriguing.
The brain is impatient, the heart isn't. I'm still obsessively following the soap operas. Though Radha and her daughters continue to boost sales of glycerine, the director seems to have decided that a few smiles aren't going to spoil anyone's day (or his profits). Kanya and Ranbir are falling in love - AA, please take some tips on how to change men from the Kapoor stable. Kalyani is the dahej, sorry, dahhej, and everyone lives like life is one big party. And the dahhej knows salsa! And the women wear wedding finery in the kitchen. There will never be a bidai in Bidaai. They also dress like imitation jewellery is going out of fashion. Babul ka aangan chootey na has finally got Aastha married - putting an end to her "marriage is a yo-yo ball" behaviour. Television has stepped further north with Mera Sasural - bringing Pathankot and Jammu to your homes. Here, men come with platoons (not just orderlies) to meet future wives at the railway station. And women jump out of moving trains in nightsuits. After having her life successively ruined and salvaged, Kinjal decides to wreck it on the eve of her marriage again, in what she thinks is a magnanimous act of self-sacrifice. Another month before life comes back on track. As for Amber-Dhara, they are still together, though the gossip rags speculate that things will change soon. And I read the gossip rags. Every day.
There I go. Bombastically yours. Better than the corny "educationally yours". I think "yours" is full of all that one needs to express, those adverbs are unnecessary. But again, yours seems very personal, close to the heart. Like leaving things unsaid because you know they have been understood.
As the Night Goddess flies away, the voluminous folds of her gown swirl with the air. Soon, the stars recede, and darkness envelops her. The moon fades into temporary oblivion. To await the day, and arise. Again. Good Night will always be followed by Good Morning. And Good Night. It's a cycle, but is it vicious?
April 02, 2008
It's time to get a big cuddly teddy bear. Thinking of which, I'd quite like a dog. I've never had a pet at home, but I always got on well with them. Absolutely adorable, and loyal, unlike most human beings. It feels selfish to acknowledge how narcissistic we are. But I guess most of us 'like' or 'dislike' based on our needs.
When one gets so emotionally involved with a place, every betrayal seems personal. The brain understands the heart's folly but this understanding cannot be simultaneously reciprocated. It is appalling to see how people USE institutions to fulfil certain needs and then plunge these places into self-destruction and disuse and finally discard them as white elephants of a past that is now unsustainable. That cannot be condoned as being human. It's being greedy and selfish beyond all conceivable limits. If you cannot give anything to an institution, why be a parasite?
Unfortunately, it is time to return to my nocturnal reality and forget about the bigger picture for a while. If I can't return to studying, I should sleep. Good Night. On second thoughts, I'll give it a try.
March 31, 2008
March 24, 2008
March 22, 2008
March 20, 2008
March 15, 2008
ICICI CICI CICI
A profusion of contemporary issues notes, so that just makes life worse. On the brighter side, exams end tomorrow. Playing pessimist once again, these were just the preliminary exams. The next three weeks are going to be an ordeal for a highly imaginative and permanently distracted sleep junkie like yours truly.
March 14, 2008
March 13, 2008
March 09, 2008
March 07, 2008
Adjectival law describes and lays down the procedure for legal steps, very much like its descriptive counterpart in the English language. Knowing that will change my life. Will it change yours? In which country is your heart? Is it in India? Then it is governed by Indian constitutional law.
I read Scribe thoroughly. Passable. Looked better than Squawk when I first saw it. But our pro-poor Squawk is definitely better in quality, even with all the errors. Do not fail to detect the notes of quasi-patriotism and narcissism. Even with all that factored in, Squawk wins!
I tend to blog more often before exams. It's called catharsis. It repairs a soul splintered by the nuances of custom law. Which, for your information, is the law our forefathers have been following for centuries.
Time to experience the pleasures of the bed. For the right context, source earlier posts. Fortunately or unfortunately, the only thing that warms my bed is a blanket.
Hindi soap operas get weirder with every passing day. So we have dear younger sister who sacrifices herself at the altar of her didi's untimely premarital pregnancy woes. By becoming the dowry for her quick marriage to the man she loves. Who loves the little sis, by the way.
Then we have Radha ki betiyaan roti rahengi, a cryfest, as the title suggests. Mother and three daughters revel in celebrating every occasion, whether happy or sad, with bouts of serial crying. Actually, they are not the only ones celebrating the low import duties on glycerine. With every packet of Umeed, you get a vial of glycerine free.
Ecstasy is the other in thing. Sunaina mostly pouts with the 'God just told me I'm his next incarnation' look. While her to-be mother-in-law has extensive Jiya Jale moments. Talking of which, Jiya jhooms through Jhoome Jiya Re. Jhoom is probably a metaphor for her perennially doped look.
I chanced upon Kahaani Ghar Ghar Ki recently, and it seems dear old Dadima is still alive and well. Parvati probably has grandchildren, but her looks don't say so. Meanwhile Tulsi, who is now the wife of Kashinath Pandey the king of Varanasi, always throws these enigmatic prayers at poor Lord Krishna and offers vaguely reflective philosophical solace to her perennially beleagured bitter half.
The hoardings at the railway station scream - Kis Desh Mein Hain Mera Dil. In which country is my heart? Any takers? Tehelka would love to add that to its kitty of investigative stories.
And if you are the vamp, you HAVE to wear halter-neck blouses.
PS: Don't sue me.
March 06, 2008
She lived in a bonda.
One day, there came a rock,
He was called therocks.
Anaconda was in love,
She went and said pow wow.
Therocks bolted, and she went after him,
Pow wow pow wow pow wow wow.
He went down the stairs, with crashes and a bang,
She bared a pearly, curly, fatal little fang.
But then came the wind, and it brought a crow,
The fang lashed out, but the crow said ho!
And it bit the fang,
Let it bang, and sang,
Rock on, therocks, you're the way to go,
Hee hee ho hee hee ho,
Hee hee ho hee hee ho!