December 26, 2008


I'm leaving later than planned! It's just a few more days in Bombay, but I'm thrilled!

December 25, 2008

December 24, 2008

Amphi headache

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 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?

Anyway, coming back to my amphi experience, the music was too loud. And most of the dancing quite podgy. Some of the students who danced could have done with lessons on costume draping. Having a sexy figure and looking poised doesn't solve the problem! And I wish dancers would not stick to the same popular abhinaya pieces. Salbeg was great, but get over him now! The corniness in the air was so thick, my head stayed foggy.

December 23, 2008

Chaaty day!

Krupali ditched me five minutes after we planned a trip to Juhu beach in minis, so I went to Chandru's today, with Lulu, to eat some bhelpuri. All the people I met ask me - don't they have great chaat in Delhi? I haven't tasted any yet. I still think Bombay chaat rocks! When I told the waiter "pyaz mat dalna" and he said "kanda?", it felt like bliss :)

Mother dearest gave me strict instructions, telling me not to go within a foot of the vile panipuri. I didn't bother mentioning that I had abandoned all reserve yesterday and eaten it right off the street. Chandru's is slightly more hygienic-looking (at a price). Yesterday's plate was not award-winning, but it was my first in three months, so it didn't matter. Chandru's had smooth puris (the smoother it is, higher the calorie count, I've realised), thanda pani, just tangy enough, and succulent boondi. But the guy making it didn't seem to remember the masala puri at the end, and when we asked for it, he gave us a rather insipid one.

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

At large in JNU, starved...

I thought Manguli's cooking was the worst fate that could ever befall a potato. Of course, I hadn't been to a JNU mess then. Anna's mess food at St. Xavier's College was of questionable hygiene, but looked slightly more palatable. And then he also came up with occasional delicacies like banana halwa.

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 get the drift.

And the oh-so-famous Mamu's - big price, big benches, big voice, no VFM.

December 20, 2008


2.00 AM, Saturday

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 not too guilty about it!

1.00 AM

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

Gopika Varma

Mohiniattam dancer Gopika Varma at Jayadeva Utsav in Delhi...

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Our sofa left us recently. She's been around for ages, before I was born I guess...this is the last I saw of her.
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A disturbing still from Mandingo (1975), that I found in a book on African American cinema

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Window shopping

Some pictures I discovered...from a recent trip.

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.
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December 04, 2008


I'm feeling diligent. Spent last evening making a list of articles in the Dance reader. And this afternoon I photographed them.

Now all that's left is reading them.

December 03, 2008


In a carnival, people like to have fun and take everyone's case.

That's what Bakhtin said in ten thousand more words.