Sunday, December 25, 2005

For Sale: extra calories at ridiculous discounts

Someday i wish to meet a charitable anorexic billionaire.

For every extra calorie that I was willing to trade, he could give me a dollar (USD only please!)

I would be a happily rich girl and the fat of the matter would be his.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Now days when I walk down the East Wing of our office building heads turn to look at who is coming. The same happens when I am in the canteen and at the reception area. People in the West Wing are a trifle busy with work, but I have managed to capture the attention of quite a few busy bodies. This unexpected fame is getting on my nerves. I have never been a very high profile person and I shun the limelight as much as I can. I walk as fast as possible and sink into my cubicle, red all over my face. It’s of no use because, the faster I walk, and the more they seem to notice. I hope they will get used to me sooner than I get used to the stares. All remedial measures have failed and I stand at the brink of desperation. I hope there is something I can do about this mammoth issue that is causing me such ignominy.

My shoes squeak.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Winter Carnival

Rather than have the 7:32 dump me unceremoniously, I have decided to initiate the breakup. 7:32 has become the lover who comes two hours after the appointment. You know she will arrive, but when? There is a tryst to keep, but its destiny knows no time.

So i have been quite taken by the 7:20 in the mornings. She is on time and i also get to sit most of the days. It means that i have to get up an extra 15 minutes earlier on winter mornings and get ready doubly fast, but its worth it.

This morning, on my way, I saw a bunch of people from my school, all apparently going to school, but none in uniform. It reminded me of the 'Sunlight' ad where everybody wore coloured clothes to school and pretended it was their birthday. Age is catching up with me because it took me a good 5 minutes to figure out that today is the Christmas party.

In the good old days of the yore when i was in school, came home before sunset and like a good girl shunned the television in favour of home-work in the evenings, winter meant sprucing up the wadrobe because the Christmas party was underway. The last day in school before the winter break was reserved for some wild partying in the school grounds, (yes, we girls jived, rocked and some even slow-danced between themselves - all in good spirit ofcourse) There were ganmes to played, prizes to be won, and lunch. As a one time exception, we were allowed to carry cameras inside the premises ( I am sure, now-a-days they allow mobile phones too on this day) This is the day we all waited for.

As i watched the excitement on the faces of my juniors, i realized how the party meant so much to me. Winter breaks meant visiting my grand parents in Delhi and often i would be whisked away to the station soon after the party broke up at 2PM. The last moments were spent hurriedly exchanging addresses, promises to mail (snail mail for the ignoramuses), New Year cards exchanged, flowers for our teachers and the excitement of a long break ahead where i could sleep late into the mornings!!!!!

Those days.....................

Friday, December 16, 2005

The Society Scandal

Rumors flew thick in the air. The whole society was abuzz. Mrs. Rastogi had not attended Mrs. Malhotra’s pet Pommerian’s birthday complaining of a headache. Mrs. Ghosh whispered, “Even last week, she walked in the last moment to Mrs. Malhotra’s kitty party.” Mrs. Mishra nibbled delicately at paneer pakora and remarked, “That’s because she had to water her Star of Bethlehem’s. She always says that 4pm is the only time of the day when the plants can absorb water.…she called it fotosynthesix.” “Actually,” replied Mrs. Ghosh, “the whole fallout was because Mrs. Rastogi lost to Mrs. Malhotra in the Mahjong party at Mrs. Mirchndani’s”. “Ssshhhhh!” Joined Mrs. Krishnamurthy. “I know the real reason. Mr. Malhotra is soon going to get a big promotion and then he will be senior to Mr. Rastogi.” “Oh! My gosh” exclaimed Mrs. Mishra and Mrs. Ghosh.

It was official now. Cold war had begun. Chintu Rastogi was not allowed to play with Bobby Malhotra. At Pummy’s wedding, Mrs. Malhotra gifted her silver anklets and Mrs. Rastogi hit back with gold earrings. When the Rastogi family decided to spend their summer at Singapore, the Malhotras chose New Zealand.

Meanwhile, Mrs. Krishnamurthy was doing her best to bring them together. She paired up the two of them in the three-legged-race at her residence on a sunny winter Sunday afternoon. It did not work. She went to Mrs. Rastogi’ place and under the pretext of learning how to maintain Star of Bethlehem’s, tried to gain her confidence. Mrs. Malhotra poured out her heart while showing her how to cook Paneer Butter Masala. Mrs. Krishnamurthy had all the inside dough and people flocked to her for news.

Equations in the company were changing very fast. Mr. Ray the President was about to retire and there was speculation about who would succeed him. Opinion was divided between Mr. Malhotra and Mr. Rastogi. Many said, Rastogi would be promoted over Malhotra and he would be the next President. Mrs. Malhotra and Mrs. Rastogi continued to smile their plastic smiles when they met at parties and grimaced as soon as their backs were turned. Tension was rife in the air.

The day arrived. Mr. Ray was retiring. He would name his successor and a grand farewell party would be thrown at the club soon afterwards. Mr. Rastogi and Mr. Malhotra arrived in office in spotless white shirts and their wives got their best Kanjeevarams ready. Mr. Ray called everyone to his office and said; “The management has decided that in the event of my retirement, Mr. Krishnamurthy will take over as the next President of the company. Mr. Malhotra and Mr. Rastogi will be assisting him. They will both be promoted as Vice-Presidents. Thank you.”

The party was a grand success. Everybody commented on how appropriate it was of the wives of the newly appointed Vice-Presidents to turn up in South Indian silks. Mrs. Krishnamurthy was particularly pleased. She commented on how glad she was to have Mrs. Rastogi and Mrs. Malhotra as her dearest friends. She demanded that they jointly throw a party at the women’s club next week. Mrs. Rastogi and Mrs. Malhotra had suddenly become best friends, together venting their ire against the newly appointed President’s wife. Mrs. Krishnamurthy had the last laugh!

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Didn’t I say so?

The whole idea of giving Ganguly a chance to play in the Kotla Test against Sri Lanka was because the selectors succumbed to the pressure of the public. And though our Dada scored only 40 & 39 respectively, he wouldn’t have stood a chance in the next test even if he had made triple hundreds in both innings. He doesn’t stand a chance at the regaining the captaincy nor will he get his place in the One Day team, if the selectors and Mr. Greg-I-hurt-my-finger-Chappell have the final word. Now it seems rookie openers are preferred to accomplished and experienced batsmen.

It’s a pity that cricket today has become so much politicized. I am not saying that Ganguly is the first choice for the team but I am also pointing out that there are some “great” players who have been struggling to get their 35th century and for this record alone, they have been included in the team sans controversy. Zonal politics has taken over cricket and the whole establishment rots.

Saurav, you have been the best Captain India ever had and there will never be another one like you. If you fight back we are with you and if you decide to hang up your boots and concentrate on the restaurant business, we are nevertheless with you!

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

My beloved,

I have been waiting impatiently for your reply, but there hasn't been any for sometime. So unable to restrain myself, I am writing to you again. At the cost of repeating myself and thereby incurring your wrath, I cannot help but express how much I hold you in awe. When I saw you for the first time across the bus stop, I could not take my eyes off you. It was a cool 18 degrees outside and you were wrapped in a monkey cap, muffler and a pair of gloves. You looked breadth-taking in the jacket which appeared so puffed up that I suspect there were a couple of pullovers hiding behind it. Your leather shoes were being lovingly caressed by a pair cotswool trouser that adorned the drawers that you indubitably wore underneath.

You shivered and I flipped. You sneezed and my heart skipped a beat. That day I decided to give office a miss and crossed the road to your bus stop. I stood behind you and perhaps you did not notice me because of the large ear flaps of your muffler. You moved aside to the ‘chai’ stall and bought yourself a cup of tea. I watched admiringly as you slipped delicately the steaming cup, your body warming up in the process. Your bus had come by then and in pursuit of my newfound love, I also took the same bus, not knowing where your destination was. I saw you taking the ladies seat and even when I stood in front of you, you felt too shy to offer me the seat. Is this what great poets have called love? I took a ticket to Building More just like you did and gazed into fine wefts of your hand-knit cap. When I was in Grade 9, they taught me how to knit a sweater in school. Even though I don’t remember most of it, I could muster sufficient confidence to knit you a woolen handkerchief.

You coughed and sneezed and wheezed. The infection like love spread to all your near ones and dear ones if you count me among them. When like a 6.8 Richter I sneezed in the bus, suddenly I knew that our hearts had connected. I shall always treasure your first gift to me. Days have gone by and your everlasting gift still remains. Do you understand now, why I have not been able to forget you? Mountains may rise and their snow-capped peaks may add more clothing to your accouterments, icebergs may spring between us and freeze us from meeting, chilly winds may test the strength of your wind-cheaters, but if there is the one thing that will always be common between us, it is ‘cold’.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Three Cheers for Ganguly, We Cheer for South Africa.

I did not go to Eden Gardens, Kolkata to watch the 3rd One Day International between India and South Africa. I am not much of a cricket buff, but I do enjoy the spirit with which we get together when a cricket match is going on. I love the fact that offices are empty on the day of a match in Kolkata, that streets are deserted and all roads lead to Eden Gardens. And when I heard that our Project Leader had managed to get hold of tickets to watch the match live, I felt a twang of jealousy.

Not after I saw the news and read the papers the following day.

It had nothing to do with the fact that India lost so badly. We are used to winning occasionally and losing nearly all the time. 0urs is a nation where cricket is the life and soul and a means of escapism from drudgery of existence. We cheer gustily for our team and also for the opponent. Eden Gardens has always been a much-revered ground and the huge turnout is always a big morale booster for the Indian team.

But on Friday, the 25th of November, things turned out to be quite different. The crowds cheered when India lost a wicket and when South Africa hit a boundary. Rahul Dravid was jeered off the field and the crowds reveled in South Africa's victory. Eden Gardens could have been in South Africa.

All this because Sourav Ganguly was not a part of the team. Since when have we become so parochial that we protest with such vulgarity because our local boy is not a part of the team? I am one of those who believe that if Sachin Tendulkar can continue to be in the team despite so many single digit scores in recent times, then Sourav Ganguly - the dynamic captain, talented batsman and bowler who always gets a wicket or two ought to be in the team.

But what pained me was that the Bengali shed his "Bhadralok" image to reveal the beast within. The jeers could have been replaced by silence. There was no need to grab the attention of the world with such a gross act of rowdiness. If our actions have had any repercussions, it has been a challenge thrown by the Selectors in the form of a one-time chance to Dada to redeem himself against the Sri Lankans in the Test Match series. And if Ganguly fails in this do-or-die situation then his career is as good as finished. Isn't it too much pressure for a person to cope with?

When the Metro was unveiled in Delhi in 2000 and the unruly crowds marred the inauguration, noted columnist Jug Suraiyah was all in praise for the enthusiastic crowds in Kolkata who had behaved with so much restraint when the Metro was started here. This is the same crowd that lost all sanity on Friday.

Sourav Ganguly remains the lone sporting icon from the state to have gained international recognition in recent times. To us, he has come to represent Bengali pride. Dropping him from the team was like a personal insult to each one of us. Maybe, its time we realized that sports are a source of healthy entertainment and stop taking it so personally. Stop also to think of the man who has become the centre of so much debate and discussion. Maybe, we should leave him alone and leave him in peace. It would go a longer way in helping him regain form than cheering for his opponents to show solidarity for him.

Friday, December 02, 2005

I go to one of the seven weddings that I have been attending for the past one week.

Everybody looks at me and says "When are you gettting married?"

Old aunties know a dozen men waiting to be cornered by winsome lasses.

Dejected and bored, I take a seat next to a kid.

I ask him, "Which class are you studying in?"

He answers "Class 3. Which class are you in?"

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Home but not Alone

When the doctor gave his verdict of three weeks of bed rest for me, I had no idea what I was bargaining for. Two of the longest weeks of my life are almost over and I wait with nail-biting anxiety for what awaits me in the third.

A freak accident and I hurt my foot; just days before Diwali and found that I could not walk. It was the perfect time I thought to catch up with lost sleep, Frederick Forsythe and HBO. It was the long lost chance to regain my privacy after being cooped up in 6X8 cubicle all day, watched by all who may care.

However, my experience has been anything but that. Curious neighbors barged into my room at unexpected hours wishing to see me. Sedate knocks on doors were mercilessly disposed off and supplanted by hard knocks on my ankle to see if it hurt. Guests, who did not exercise the temerity of going to my room, demanded that I should limp all the way to the living room so that they could be convinced that I really was injured. Diwali time; the house was overflowing with people and my harrowed self, overwhelmed by this unwelcome intrusion.

Much advice was given regarding what I should and what I should avoid. They flowed over the phone, and even by email. When the diagnosis of my injury did not match the diagnosis of someone’s twenty-year old injury, I was asked to consult a different doctor. Extensive empirical research was conducted on the medicines prescribed by wannabe doctors who never cleared the pre-med entrance, but still did not lose the zeal.

When the going became intolerably tough, I decided to get limping to a Diwali lunch invitation just to silence my critics, detractors, and sympathizers. It was nothing short of a catastrophe. I was the center of curiosity and those who had not expressed their empathy to my Mother so far, now, saw this as a golden opportunity to regain lost ground. It meant nothing that I had trudged all this way for the lunch, no way would they allow me to go to the table to get the food. I was made to sit in a “comfortable” corner and was unable to refuse four requests of “Beta, have some more puri”

Another week to go and I am dreading it. My foot seems to be recovering steadily, but I dearly wish that I should wake up tomorrow morning and see that it has healed completely. The only thing I want in this world now, is to go back to my cubicle. And to hell with privacy!

Monday, October 31, 2005

When I was Sick and Lay in Bed

Could not walk, just managed to talk
Yawned all through the day,
Propped against a pillow, sheets and cushions,
Nothing was going my way.

Grey skies outside, a dull flat breeze,
Smoke by the windows.
Shrieks of laughter of children playing,
Added to my woes.

Read a few lines of a crime thriller,
Didn’t make much difference to my mood,
Until this spark crossed my mind
And here is what ensued.

Wrote mails and letters
In poem and prose
To long forgotten
Friends and foes.

Called up my friends,
We spoke for long,
Suddenly, the world, it seemed,
Sang a beautiful song.

Now clouds have parted,
And I see the sun,
And I can smell a fresh breeze,
When a new day has begun.

Thank you my friends,
I know you care,
I shall never forget,
This love we share.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Rain rain go away

This Chou - a tribal dance form among the Santhals of Bengal - makes a formidable face while warning the Rain Gods to quit. This is a part of Kolkata's Salt Lake,BE block Pujo pandal this year.

As if to add to the depression of Pujos getting over, its been raining incessantly for the last four days. I haven't been able to leave home for two days, braving myself to venture out only yesterday. Surpringly Indian Railways has been rather sporting and despite the rains, trains have been only ten minutes late on an average, a remarkable feat by any standards.

Worse still has been the predicament of people in South 24 Pargonas and Purulia. Houses have been washed away, crops destroyed and an epidemic is about to spread.For a lot of us, its easy enough to sit in our airconditioned cubicles, sip coffee and look out of the St. Gobain glass and admire the rains out there. Its quite another thing to know that for a lot of people, these rain spell disaster. Much of the attention of the world is focussed on Hurricanes Katrina and Wilma, but back home, our people are suffering the same plight and there is no respite for them. While India continues to send out aid for hurricane victims in USA, cyclone victims in the country itself are languishing.

This post is dedicated to all those whose who have missed schools(gladly),colleges and offices because of the rains. To those hapless citizens who could not get the right trains and buses to their destinations, to those travellers whose flights got cancelled due to the rains (please note: this does not include those who wish to travel by Deccan Airlines) and on a more serious note, those who have suffered personal and financial losses due to the wrath of nature.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Why I am in Kolkata during Durga Pujo

Durga Pujo has been synonymous with Kolkata ever since I was big enough to understand Pujo. I have spent Pujo at different places, different states but nowhere did I feel the spirit of the Pujo in the people, the leaves of the trees, the roads, the stray dogs and in the weather. It seems as if Nature herself has willed that Kolkata should blend into the soul of the Pujo till the city is unrecognizable as a separate entity.

Nowhere will you ever find that you have to park your car five miles away from the pandal and still walk the distance in smiles because of the famed Protima that you are about to visit. Only in Kolkata will you encounter atleast ten more Protimas that will surreptitiously appear along the way during your five-mile sojourn pleasantly surprising you.

Heated discussions regarding the merits and demerits of various pandals can build into fist fights for the Asian Paints Sharad Shamman. It’s a time when relations are mended and forgotten friends remembered. It’s the time for romances while the chill begins to settle.

Pujo is when we shop for months in advance. Carefully planned out garments- the best one reserved for Ashtami are put aside. Girls must wear sarees for the Ashtami anjali and this year there was a resurgence of the old Bengali style of donning the national dress. Makeup and accessories in place and all set and done, nothing can stop them, not even the rain that threatened to mar the celebrations this year. Heat and humidity can be forgotten and the mad crowds ignored for those four days of glory.

As the day fades into dusk, the lights come out and the city is bejeweled with tuni bulbs that weave dreams in the city's skyline. The crowds thicken, but that does not dampen the spirit of the Kolkatan. All night outings are a birthright of the young ones and as the teenager retires into bed wistfully sulking at his elder sister who'll be out all night, there are promises to keep for the time when he comes of age. Suddenly, nobody is worried that a daughter will be out till late night. The city will protect her.

Its a time for gorging egg rolls, ice cream, mutton chops and chowmein. It’s a time for looking good at Maddox Square and shopping for titbits at Park Circus. For the Nagardola at Bagbajar Sarbojanin, bumping into old friends at Mohammad Ali Park, comparing notes by the huge pool at College Square and watching for Maharaja himself at the Pujo in Saurav Ganguly's home at Behala.

Tired but not disheartened, they prepare for the next day and the next. Unmindful of the millions of old people who will remain confined to old age homes and the TV for the Pujo. Fortunately, all is not amiss. There is the Pujo Porikrama at Doordarshan and a host of programs, prizes to win and TV stars who greet the viewers by the minute. Television has managed to capture the Pujo not only in Kolkata but also in West Bengal and outside, in Mumbai, Delhi and far UK and USA.

Doshomi brings a gloom that will remain for sometime. Shidoor khela and bodhon over, Ma prepares to depart promising to return again the next year. Bijaya greetings flow across phones, smses and emails. Huge processions of tearful people taking the idol for immersions and teeming millions lined up on the streets watching them. Then there is a wait for another year, amongst the sweets that are distributed; there is an eerie silence that can be discerned. The Kolkatan hopeful of the year long wait till go home in anticipation, because he knows that she will come back again.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

One Fine Autumn.....

Clear blue skies.
White tufts of clouds gently floating about.
Bright fragrant flowers.
Dew wet grass.

Working late

A season of festivals.
A daughter returns home after a year.
Peals of laughter.
The smell of new clothes.

Over-crowded trains
Frayed tempers
Traffic jams

Sleeping late.
Staying out all night.

Here's wishing everyone a joyful Durga Puja free from mishaps and a silent prayer for the people who died from the earthquake. May their soul rest in peace.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Do D Dee

D & I go a long way since our first day in college. I did not know that she lived next-doors and we spoke like strangers whose only meeting ground was our mother tongue and Richie Road in Kolkata. Imagine our surprise next day when my Uncle took me to her house and told me that she could show me the way to college. We started giggling then and we have giggled ever since. In crowded Delhi buses where the seats never emptied, in front of the chat trolley at the college gate, while sipping Bunta in college, ogling at men in the auditorium, at bus stops, at CP, at Sarojini, at Kamla Nagar and when we famously stood outside a cinema hall where I had lied to my folks about attending an important class.

We roared with laughter while ordering a fourth helping of Gulab Jamuns, and when we went to gorge Makki ki Roti at Pummy's instead of returning home after college like good girls. We laughed because both of us took three attempts to get past the first chapter of 'The God of Small Things' and because a day before our exams, we were eating 'Gajar Ka Halwa' and playing the guitar and pretending to study.

We smiled with glee when we managed to bully the keeper to sell the kurtis and pyjamas at CP for less then 50 bucks, and we gasped in delight when we found long-sought-after books selling at half prices. Partners-in-crime that we were, we forged bus passes, befooled teachers and clerks.

We parted, because destiny had different plans for either of us. Lived in different cities, different countries and different continents. Still we kept in touch, we mailed, called and chatted. We shared everything from Chicken Tikka Masala to secret crushes.

It’s been sometime now that I haven't heard from D and I know that even if she wants to keep in touch it is difficult. You are badly missed, D. There are some things in life that we can take for granted, and to your friendship I do.

Friday, September 02, 2005


Twenty-three men including my static Module Leader and electrostatic Project Leader rampaging the field more or less summed up the activities of Sunday morning. Frayed tempers in place of shipping orders, fouls in place of cursors, penalties instead of defects, cuss words instead of staid remarks and free kicks instead of time-sheet entries were the order of the day. It rained and they played on. Sometimes, its seemed that ball willed itself to get stuck in the mud after every two meters, yet resolute in their determination, to make it move, they went on and on.

I wouldn’t blame them of course. It isn’t everyday that a bunch of part young, part middle-aged, part pot-bellied and part washboard abed, part in shorts and part in Bermudas, part in spikes and part barefoot, some balding and some sporting pigtails motley group of software engineers abandon their PCs in favor of the lush, green, wide open spaces. Welcome to the Annual All-Matches-In-a-Day Football Tournament.

There were the obvious concessions given to our players. They weren’t exactly professionals so, behold! Each match was played for twenty-five minutes, (ten minutes a side) During the five minute break, they gulped glucose prepared lovingly by us – the only four women who cared sufficiently for our year end appraisals to prefer the football ground to the cozy comforts of the bed on a sleepy Sunday morning.

Well, we women pretended to enjoy, we groaned when they missed goals, clapped with joy when they did not. We cheered whenever we thought there wasn’t sufficient noise on the field and gasped when a fight broke out between two hotheaded colleagues. We served water, and glucose and lunch and let the guys know that it was their day. I finally felt like an archetypal Balaji Telefilms Bahu. We pretended to get embarrassed when the men took off their shirts after the match, and felt nothing with all the sweat, muck and mud all around us.

And when our team lost, we wept copious tears. After a day full of histrionics, when I couldn’t take it any more, I begged D to atone for all the horrors and do the one thing that would make us feel better. We went shopping!!!

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Jassi Jaisi Koi Nahin

Three identities, two incarnations, one makeover. Three different careers, two failed relationships, one funeral. Two years on prime time and fluctuating TRP ratings notwithstanding ‘Jassi Jaisi Koi Nahin’. The last twenty months have been witness to the most discussed serial on prime time T.V. in India. Aired on Sony T.V. between 9:30 P.M. and 10.P.M. Monday to Thursday, Jassi – the metaphorical girl-next-door-with-dreams-of-making-it-big has treaded the thorny path with much gusto and air.

The tale of the girl with the archetypal ‘middle-class upbringing’ needs no further introduction. Horn rimmed spectacles, braces, high collar salwar suits, and a rustic walking style have been used to drive home the idea that a girl intelligent enough to top school and earn an MBA degree, has still not learnt the ways of the world. She joins ‘Gulmohar’ a fashion house, where she is ridiculed for her dressing sense and her looks, till she shows them that her brains are smarter than her clothes. She falls in love with Armaan Suri – the flirtatious boss with more girlfriends than shipping orders and earns the hatred of Mallika Seth – his fiancé. Through twists and turns in the story, Jassi learns the way of the world of glamour and undergoes a makeover that transforms her into a supermodel glam doll called Jessica Bedi. She still essentially remains the girl-next-door and more sordid tales in her eventful life force her to turn runaway bride minutes before her marriage to Armaan and escape in a boarding school disguised as Neha Shastri- the widowed history teacher.

JJKN reflects the growing trend in society that looks are indeed everything. The increasing scorn of the so called ‘middle-class values’ of sobriety and temperance perhaps indicates the spate of things to come. That she is chided for her simple looks and later admired as a super model could have an adverse impact on the millions of simple and ‘middle-class’ women in India for whom academic excellence has hitherto been the only parameter of success. Add to the fact that in Gulmohar nearly all the staff is not only well dressed but also reasonably good-looking thereby making Jassi stick out like a sore thumb. Commercial gains could have possibly prompted the makers of JJKN to portray reality in extremes. She is the famous model Jessica Bedi, but nobody recognizes her in the boarding school in Nainital despite the fact that some students there are very fashion conscious. No matter where Jassi goes, she encounters a mother figure and an adversary and ofcourse a renewed love interest. To add to the murky waters, she has run away from home, yet her parents make no effort to find her, but Aryan Seth, Mallika’s scheming brother does. Thankfully, Jessica has not abandoned her ‘middle-class’ salwar kameez and spectacles (they have become rimless now) in favor western wear as would conventionally befit a super model.

Mona Singh Aluwahlia (she was not allowed to reveal her identity for almost two years) has done a fantastic job and needs to be applauded. Apoorva Agnihotri after a failed career in films joined JJKN as the flamboyant Armaan Suri. He’s not much of an actor, but he’ll do. The talented Rakshanda Khan plays Mallika Seth with vengeance. We love to hate her. Perhaps, no description of Jassi can be complete without a mention of Nandu- her childhood friend, her pillar of support and indeed her moral conscience. Nandu is the friend we would all love to have and despite all the ups-and-downs in Jassi’s life, the one thing that she can always take for granted is her friendship with Nandu.

Monday, August 22, 2005

We met yesterday.
Fifteen of the seventy-two that parted seven summers ago.

There were those who remained unchanged over the years, some who had changed themselves and some who had changed the world around them.

N is earning eight lakhs a year and K is still looking for a job. Seven years ago, we thought it would be the other way round. We never thought we would meet like this, because seven years ago, we were too full of insecurities to think of the future. Today, we look back at the past as an anchor, but we dare to dream about the future because it holds before us a whole new world that we can explore.

There are those like me who refused to stay at home all these years, traveled far and wide and came back home, because it was the best place to be. There are those like V who haven't tested the waters and are raring to do so. Then there are those like L who do not want to dream.

There was the usual girl talk about boyfriends. S topped the list with 5, was much envied and tips were sought. L vowed that she'd never let her boyfriend go too far away from her, because men were to be harnessed. M said, after the reunion, she'd wait for her boyfriend to drop her home even though we were all returning the same way. A had a tiff with her boyfriend and he called her up throughout the meeting trying to make peace and everyone laughed at W just the way they had laughed seven years ago when she declared her hatred for men. Seven years later, she was very much in love.

S wore clothes that drew gasps from everyone including K, who would have loved to wear such clothes only if her mother allowed. L was under strict instructions not to venture out in anything but a salwar kameez and she willingly complied.

There was laughter and noise; there was music and tears of remembrance. We parted promising to meet again. But deep inside us, we all knew that we wouldn't meet again. Curiosity had brought us together, but familiarity would breed contempt. We knew that promises are meant to be broken and that we would forget our promise as soon as the night was over.

Time changer of season
Time will set another flower blooming..............

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Writing Reviews

Writing reviews hasn’t been easy. Not for me. For one, there have been movies that I adored only to find that my friends disproved completely. It is not only difficult, but almost impossible to tap into the collective consciousness of a million people and come up with a verdict that everyone seems to agree with. I secretly thought ‘Kuch Kuch Hota Hain’ was a pathetically queer name for an equally pathetic movie, but nearly all my friends thought otherwise and forced me to revise my opinion. I still don’t like Veer Zaara. I think Preity Zinta should do only bubbly roles. She’ll not make a great mother-in-law twenty years from now unlike Reema Lagoo who seems more like Salman’s mother than Salman’s biological mother herself. I think Salman should stop coyrighting the name ‘Prem’, ditto for Shah Rukh Khan’s ‘Raj’ and Hrithik Roshan’s ‘Rohit’.

I make no secret of my admiration of Amitabh Bachchan. When he was voted “Star of the Millennium”, I pooh poohed it. When my father confessed that he watched Sholay 20 times, I laughed. I regretted being so skeptic after I saw him in ‘Black’, in ‘Bunty Aur Bubbly’ in KBC, for ten minutes in ‘Paheli’, in Baghban and now in ‘Viruddh’. Amitabh Bachchan is now experimenting on a canvas that has no limits and he seems to enjoy his acting than ever before.

But, I digress. It has been a strenuous exercise to find out whether I share with everyone else a similar liking as far as my taste in movies is concerned. Fortunately providence has been kind. Its is now possible to watch a movie, and then hear what people who have seen it feel, read reviews in the newspapers/on the net, watch box office collections and umpteen movie based TV shows and thus form an opinion that is not quite er…original, but nevertheless quite accurate. However, I have my boundaries clearly defined. I refuse to admire obnoxiously made art films only because they portray poverty and misery. Swadesh was a great movie and I continue to stand by my words. I still don’t understand why it flopped while ‘Mujhse Shaadi Karoge’ was a hit. I think Shaahid Kapoor is soon going to be counted among the great actors and I am sure Salman cannot act. Vivek Oberoi makes a wrong choice of films while John Abraham has been able to hit the bull’s eye time after time. I think Rani Mukherjee is grossly overrated and Kareena Kapoor is more substance than just glamour. I believe ‘Dil Chahata Hain’ is one of the finest movies made in recent times and that there is an Akash/Sameer/Sid in each one of us. We took turns in college trying to guess which character we would like to identify ourselves with.

Opinions, views, decisions, judgments … is so easy to dole out in copious quantities. So easy to watch a three hour performance that embodies so many months of effort and give a verdict that could make or break the fate of everyone involved. The world of movies has always been a make believe world inviting us to escape from reality and enter a world of fantasy.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

‘Umeed Se Dugna’ – Kaun Banega Crorepati (2)

Rating: *****

KBC is back. This time its a whole new series, with more money, new life lines, new rules but thankfully the host is the same inimitable Amitabh Bachchan. Aired on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays between 9PM and 10PM on Star Plus, KBC evokes memories of the famous catch line that rocked India a few years back, 'Nau baj gaye kyaa?'

Having started on 5th August, Kaun Banega Crorepati Series 2 is about 'Umeed Se Dugna' There are 2 crore rupees to be won this time. 15 questions answered correctly will fetch the moolah.Rs.20,000 at the 5th question and Rs.6,40,000 at the 10th are the new barriers that ensure the minimum guaranteed amount that the contestant will take away should (s)he get the questions beyond that wrong.

The usual 3 lifelines: 50-50, phone-a-friend and audience poll still persist. A new lifeline called Flip has been introduced that comes into effect after the 5th question is answered correctly. This gives the player a choice to reject the question given and ask for another question instead.

In order to involve the audience both on screen and off, a question is asked in every episode and answers are to be smsed during the episode itself. A randomly selected entry will fetch the winner a cool Rs.2 lakhs. There is good news for the participants who aren't lucky enough to make it to the famed 'hot seat'. The participant who answers all the questions asked during the game the fastest also wins a prize of Rs.2 lakh.

KBC (2) has lived up to the standards of the first edition of the serial. The participants are better prepared this time, as can be judged by the fact that almost all of them have answered atleast 10 questions correctly. The questions are framed to tease the intellect and yet ensure that you don't have to be a regular quizzard to get them right. Amitabh Bachchan is as jovial, genial and his presentation skills are only getting better with time. A host of sponsors has ensured that there is no dearth of money in the game. Good job done by Siddharth Basu and his team at Synergy communications. If you still haven't seen any episode of KBC (2) you're missing something.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

wE tHe PeOpLe

We the people is a nation of compulsive spitters. We spits on the road, into the drain, while waiting in a queue, in agony, anger, frustration or excitement.

9 AM in the morning, there is a long queue waiting to catch the elusive, oh-so-comfortable and thank-God-it travels-more-than-it-stops state bus. The queue keeps growing and we the people is getting irritated. So we closes our eyes, draws a good breadth and spits the irritation out! Unmindful of the fact that it missed the target and settled near the feet of a girl who is sulking to office on a Saturday.

Then when the bus comes and we finds it difficult to get a seat, we showers a few nice words on the bus driver and then gears up for another great spit, to cleanse our souls. We the people is not aware of the watchful eyes of a girl who is sulking to office on a Saturday.

The bus passes in front of a garbage dump and we is horrified by it. What a sight!!!!! Surely this calls for drawing all the spit that has escaped from the food pipe to the small intestine. So we energises ourselves and tries out another good spit. Not satisfied with the effort we tries again, but there is nothing left to spit. So we tries to drive out the ugly vision from our minds and tries to strike a conversation with a girl who is sulking to office on a Saturday.

But we doesn't know that girl who is sulking to office on a Saturday is going to write about us in her blog and let the world know what a detestable habit we has!

Wednesday, August 03, 2005


The first thing that struck me after I watched Viruddh this Sunday was the seeming absence of songs. The opening credits had songs ofcourse, but what about the rest of the movie. Where was John Abraham doing a jig with his ladylove or the stare-at-the-moonlight-and-sing kindof sad song? There can be two ways of looking at this. Maybe, the songs are eminently forgettable and that's why you don't notice their absence, or maybe, they blend so well into the story that they never strike a jarring note.

Viruddh tells the age-old story of family love and support. As the subtitle suggests the family indeed comes first. A young and promising son comes home for a vacation from London to visit his aging parents. He gets into a brawl and is killed. His father seeks justice and leaves no stone unturned in the process.

While there is really nothing strikingly new about the story, Viruddh comes like a whiff of fresh air. You've breathed it all the time, but somehow it seems different this time. The first half especially exudes a feel-good air. You are introduced to a loving family. Old couple, typical dominating but caring wife. The husband is the archetypal devoted and happy guy. Normal, ordinary guy who gets scared when a bunch of young rowdy car mechanics setup shop outside his house, put an end to his afternoon nap and feel unapologetic about it. Same ordinary guy later shoots his son's killer with a steady hand and unflickering eyes. Splendid!

Amitabh Bachchan is fantastic. Growing up in a generation of Aamir Khan and Shah Rukh Khan, I never idolised AB and could never understand why my parents were so obsessed about him. Now I do, when I see the depth in his acting skills. AB in Bunty Aur Bubbly is the rustic cop, AB in Paheli is the eccentric shepherd, AB in Sarkar is Don Corleone and AB in Viruddh is an ordinary retired man, leading a happy existence, and completely involved in domestic life. In each of these roles, he has slipped into the skin of the character and created magic.

Sharmila Tagore is on screen after a very very long time. Alas! She is Kashmir Ki Kali no more. Time and age have taken care of that. But she excels in the role of the retired principal, who treats house like school. You are often deceived into believing that perhaps she is not acting in screen but enacting real life. She is sensible wife who tells her husband to keep down the phone and met her son when he is finally spotted at the airport. She is the loving wife, who talks to the car mechanics and ensures that they do not make fun of her husband. She is the strict disciplinarian who makes sure that 'Vidya' takes his pills, puts on his monkey caps and gets his daily exercise.

Sanjay Dutt is in a 'dynamic' appearance in Mahesh Manjrekar's movie. He plays the cameo of the car mechanic, who befriends the grief-stricken family. John Abraham doesn't have much to do in the movie apart from looking good. As usual, he doesn't disappoint.

Viruddh is an eminently watchable movie and the pace is constant from start to finish. There aren't too many boring moments and you would say 'Paisa Vasool' as you left the hall. The one thing that I’m still not sure about is: Where did the songs disappear???

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Hair today Gone tomorrow

My hair cut resembles the feathers of a sparrow that just got wet in the rain.

So i went to the parlour last Saturday and demanded a hair cut from the same person who does it every time.

I never bother to ask for her name, but whenever my hair needs a cut, i dream of her the night before.

To my utter shock and disbelief, she refused to cut my hair. She was actually thrilled to see me, because my hair is now looking exactly the way she wanted it to.

I have been asked to come back after 3 months, by which time i'll go crazy, because everyday is now a bad hair day.

Wondering whether i should change hair dressers or shave off the entire mass of dead black cells (ugh!) on my head that are adding to my misery.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

To Be(g) or Not to Be(g)

The couple boarded the train. He had an electric guitar and a microphone and she was carrying a purse that would have aroused envy in most of the passengers. As the train left the platform, he started singing and she joined him. After a song, she went around asking for alms. When some people gave a rupee and she smirked at them, others hurried gave more.

A study carried out by an eminent newspaper says that Mumbai has beggars who ahem! earn an average of a thousand bucks a day. One such fellow has a family of four and they have forty thousand rupees in the bank, two flats in Mumbai's suburbs, a cell phone and now plan to buy a car, besides carrying on with the family business of begging.

I think the first step towards walking out on the street and begging people for money is the toughest. You have to chew your pride to do it. You have to wallow in self-pity till you can convince people around you that you need to be pitied. I get embarrassed asking my friends for a loan of money when I run short, and I wonder what it must be for sometime who’s asking you to give your money to him forever.

I don't know the specific circumstances that force certain people into begging, but I think it’s got a lot to do with character. On the same train, I have seen one blind man begging and another selling incense sticks. On the same train, I have seen one old man begging and a woman older than him selling combs and clips. I hate it when some young fellow comes and begs for money when a hard day's labour could have got him not just money, but pride as well.

The whole idea of begging disturbs me. I see dozens of beggars everyday and I cannot decide whom to give money to and whom not to.

In Delhi, I used to pass by a temple on my way back from college and there used to be a cripple. My good friend D and I fondly remember that he called us 'Ma'. Often I used to save food from my lunch for him. He wouldn't ask for money. He would be only too happy to eat the food. D was rather fond of him and referred to him as her son. That didn't seem so bad, because he used to sit all by himself and he was exactly begging anyone for anything.

Somehow, I hate this commercialized begging that I encounter everyday. It’s a new morning, the sunshine, and the breeze. Just when you think, nothing could go wrong, you hear 'Bhagwan ke naam se de de Baba' and it jolts you back to reality. We are the 10th largest country in the world in terms of GDP, and the beggars seem to be getting richer, but they won't stop begging. Call it circulation of currency?

Sunday, July 03, 2005

The Paheli Behind Making a Good Movie

Why does it happen that a movie starring Shah Rukh ‘Badshah’ Khan, Rani Mukherjee, Juhi Chawla, Anupam Kher, including Amitabh Bachchan, directed by Amol Palekar, where the women wear exquisite Tanishq jewelry, and produced by the King Khan still falls flat?

The answer lies in over-confidence. Paheli is a movie that has been made without care or consideration for the art of making films. It is a good story that eventually falls apart because of its reliance on a one-man-show called Shah Rukh Khan. King Khan is a big disappointment in the movie. He looks like Raj of DDLJ trapped in period costume and a humongous ‘pagri’. His dialogues look strained and even the way he woos his woman in the desert reminds you of the way he wooed Simran in Europe.

Badi badi deshon mein aisi choti choti baatein hoti rehti hain

You are forced to compare Shah Rukh with Amitabh Bachchan and that’s when you realize what a fantastic actor AB is. In the ten odd minutes of screen time, Bachchan grabs our attention as the silly, rustic, ill-literate shepherd who’s bent on doing good. He looks the role, while our Shah Rukh looks exactly like Rahul of K3G when his father disowned him. Sorry Shah Rukh, even the comedy fails to entertain. You’d better go back to acting school and learn how to stop acting the same way in every movie.

Paheli is about Lajjo- a newly wed bride on her way to her new house. A chance stop at a resting place haunted by ghosts is the turning point of the story. A ghost falls in love with Lajjo and cannot get her out of his mind. Meanwhile Lajjo’s husband Kishan Kumar is clearly more inclined towards making money than love and leaves home the next day in search of fortune, not to return for five years. The ghost impersonates Kishan, goes to the house (oops haveli) and declares his identity as well as his undying love for Lajjo. Well, well, wonders never cease in Bollywood and Lajjo agrees to live and love the ghost and to amaze us even more, she carries a child by the ghost!!!! A series of supernatural events powered by our do-gooder ghost occur and all is well till Lajjo’s human husband returns.

Paheli is essentially a love story, but it falls behind its time. Ten years ago a ghost yielding his powers (remember Shah Rukh in Chamatkar?) would have drawn gasps of astonishment, but not anymore. This is not even a movie for children if you consider the emotions expressed by Lajjo and Kishan.

Paheli disappoints because it neither falls into a definite genre of films nor is it timeless. I have been a great admirer of Amol Palekar and I am sure he could have done better than this. Rani Mukherjee acts well, but alas! Not well enough to save the movie. Juhi Chawla makes a comeback after a long time and its good to see her again. Anupam Kher is good as the miserly Seth Ji. MM Kreem’s music is best when he works for the Bhatts. This has been a brave effort at movie making, but the applause must be reserved for something better.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Top Ten Reasons Why You Should Watch Parineeta

10.This is probably the last movie where we get to see Saif smoking on screen. And boy! He sure looks more desirable lighting up a cigar than his father does shooting black bucks.

9. Only in a movie can you convince an adult, educated girl (that too a working woman) that exchanging a gold chain with a guy is the equivalent of marriage. Even in the original classic, Shekhar had told the 13-year-old Lalita that she was married, out of his possessiveness, while he was fully aware that there was no marriage. Somebody thought of distorting the focal point of the story, but they didn’t think of making Lalita strong enough to insist on a marriage registration?

8. Sarat Chandra Chatterjee died in 1937 and Shekhar listens to Elvis Priestly. I wonder who is supposed to be more flattered.

7. Moulin Rouge – good. Rekha- great, fantastic, fabulous. I love the way she can beat today’s teenyboppers even while doing a cabaret in a sari. Love her for it.

6. The ‘Dhunuchi’ dance – balancing a pot full of burning coals in your hands and mouth. Sanju Baba does it in authentic Bengali style. I haven’t seen too many people doing it so stylishly during Durga Puja, but then not everybody is Sanjay Dutt.

5. Chemistry- shared by Vidya Balan and Saif. It oozes out of the screen till it fills the place around you. They are the stuff that dreams are made of. The lovemaking scene comes as a natural consequence of two people who realize that they are in love. Nothing vulgar about it.

4. Opulent mansions, great lighting, extravagant weddings, fragrant gardens and hold your breadth Diya Mirza.

3. Finally, women get to dress in a sari in the old fashioned way, don’t do a rain soaked wet sari dance and still capture the imagination of the entire nation.

2. Great music- Rabindranath Tagore’s ‘Phule Phule’ in Hindi, a bit of Nepalese music thrown in and Rekha’s number- can’t stop raving about her.

1. And the number one reason to watch Parineeta- Vidya Balan! After a long time, we get to watch a mature actress in her debut performance. She exudes dignity in her posture, grace in her movements and she is a beautiful woman.

Sigh! Kaisi yeh paheli zindagani……….

Friday, June 24, 2005

Self Respect

Lost in the thoughts of materialized views and parameterized cursors at 7:30 in the morning i was watching the trees go by next to my window seat in the train. The world seemed divided by a simple binary logic- the haves and the have nots. The 'have time to sleep' and the 'have not time to sleep' I was among the have nots ofcourse. The sudden appearance of the Ticket Checker jolted me out of the slumber that i was beginning to let my myself enjoy.

He was big, burly and rude. At first i could not understand why a man strode right in the middle of the ladies compartment and looked at us askingly. When i saw the all the rest of my fellow travellers fishing inside their bags, purses, wallets, i figured out the rest.

I took out my ticket and showed him and so did the other four of the six of us women seated on his left. But sitting next to me was a woman who seemed to take an eternity to take out her ticket. We all guessed it. she was travelling ticketless. Instead of a ticket there appeared in her hands a few medical prescritions.

She was going to the city to get herself checked by a doctor. There was no money in the house. For the past one month she had been travelling ticketless. Infact, she had no money to bus a bus ticket for herself.For the past two days she hadn't eaten anything.

All this was said, quitely and with dignity. As if the humiliation of it all were sufficient punishment to atone for her deeds. She stood in front of the checker, waiting to hear what he penalty he would impose.

None of us were surprised when he walked away without a word. As train reached the next station, two beggars aboded, asking for alms. Nearly everyone in our compartment opened their purses. I watched the irony of the situation. Sitting next to me was a person who probably needed money more than any of the beggars and yet her self respect would not allow her to beg. It is more difficult to be poor, when you want to keep your dignity intact.

I slipped some money in her hands silently just before getting off the train. I couldn't look into her eyes, because then, the humiliation would have been complete. I still don't know if i did the right thing because somewhere deep inside me i feel ashamed to know that i murdered a soulful of self respect for a few rupees more.

Saturday, June 18, 2005


I haven't seen the movie yet but having the unfair advantage of being a Bong, i read the novel last week. The novel is cute and yet delves deep into the psyche of the Indian male (not again!)

I am told Sanjay Dutt looks as Bong as Steve Waugh in Udayan. In the novel, Lalita the girl was 13 years old. Ofcourse, our censors will go snip, snip, snip, if we show child marriage.(Thank God! no one fagged in the movie)

After Devdas, this is the second of Sarat Chandra Chatterjee's novels to be adapted for movies in Hindi. But the distortion is painful.

If i manage to watch the movie, i guess i am going to review by directly comparing with how much the movie has strayed from the book.

The truth about Sumana

Last week, i received a mail from this truly weird person i never heard of called V. He mails me a one liner


How you know Sumana?


I reply:
Hi ,

I know 4 different Sumanas' They also spell their names differently. The way you spelt it, i know 2 different Sumanas'.
So kindly give me the surname.
Its question time folks and my questions are as follows:

  1. How you know me?????

  2. Who are you?

  3. What difference does it make if I know Sumana (1, 2, 3 or 4). Hopefully none of them work for the Al Qaeda or have links with Dawood Ibrahim

  4. If you have an interesting offer for any of the aforesaid Sumanas, feel free to say it to me. I will be only too happy to convey the glad tidings. This is ofcourse subject to the condition that you answer truthfully the first 3 of my questions.

Guess i am done with it. What kindof a name is V? You must be a guy, isn't it?

V replies:
Ur reply is so fantastic.
i hope u are doing some p.hd or u did the same before. any way i will give a clear answer for all ur points u raised about my mail. now i have little bit busy yaar in office here in dubai. any way i am an indian guy

thanks V

Indian guys! My life for some strange reason has now been reduced to dealing with Indian guys who have water in their brains. I once knew an Indian guy who was worth being called a man but, he saw the company i was keeping and stayed away for fear of infiltrating his cells with H2O.

No reply from my side and V mails again:
Hi anwesa,

how you doing? hope very thing under control!


I finally lost it completely:

Would do you mind going back to school and taking your grammar classes again? If you are more proficient in Arabic, mail me in that. I'll take classes and try to read your mails. But spare me this ordeal of having to translate your English into the English that "we" speak.


PS- no longer interested in knowing how i know Sumana ?????

To be concluded...

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Pirates of the Caribbean

Last week I watched the Pirates of the Caribbean, the Curse of the Black Pearl.
This 2003 movie is an adaptation of the Disneyland theme-park ride the Pirates of the Caribbean . Directed by Gore Verbinski, POTC is a all and out thrilling movie with rope swings, swashing swords, rocking ships, deep sea dives, spear fights, hidden treasures and of course the sea.

An ancient curse befell the crew of the 'Black Pearl' when they stole the Cortez treasure. The pirates are doomed to a state of living undead until the treasure is returned and the blood of the thief is spilled on the treasure. Will Turner (Orlando Bloom) owns a medallion from that treasure and the pirates are after his blood. He loves and is loved by the beautiful Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightly) who is captured by the pirates. Captain Jack sparrow played brilliantly by the talented Johnny Depp helps Will rescue Elizabeth and frees the pirates of the curse.

There are some awesome moments in the movie, especially when the pirates turn into living skeletons on full moon nights. The ship fights seem real and are good fun to watch. The motley crowd of pirates and their pet parrot add to the magic of the movie. This is a light-hearted movie without a moment of monotony. The fast pace makes it all the more enjoyable to watch.

Johnny Depp steals the shows with his portrayal of the eccentric Captain Jack sparrow. He is whimsical, moody, and hilarious and yet has to be taken seriously because of his fantastic knowledge of the seas, ships and warfare. This ranks as one of Depp's finest performances alongside 'Edward Scissorhands' and 'Chocolat'

A great entertainer, POTC is a must watch for all those who love good ol' action in the high seas.

Bunty Aur Bubbly

It’s a reel pleasure to see father and son sharing the same canvas on screen. And to say that they hit it off perfectly would only be doing justice to their performances. Bunty Aur Bubbly is a two and half hour rhapsody that is sure to leave you wondering if it really happened. One condition- remember to leave your brains behind, when you start watching.

Rajesh from Fursatganj and Vimmi from Pankinagar are two simpletons who dream of making it big one day. He has an idea that can make loads of money and she rather fancies herself as the next Miss India. When their dreams are cut short and they find themselves in dire straits, they change their names to Bunty and Bubbly and steal money and goodies by befuddling people. With each success, their confidence grows, till they take on mind-boggling challenges including leasing the Taj Mahal. They meet their match in Dashrath Singh- the policeman. Amitabh Bachchan proves once again why he is the super star of the millennium. He steals the show with his portrayal of the eccentric bidi-smoking, chana-munching cop who sets out to catch the swindlers by their collars.

The humour is good in the first half, but it does get monotonous in the second half. After a wonderful directorial debut with ‘Saathiya’, Shaad Ali could have done better in this movie. A great star cast has ensured interest in the movie, but has failed to sustain it for the entire duration of the three odd hours. The music by Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy is tuneful and melodious. Most of the songs are big hits, but quite a few of them are unnecessary. Aishwarya Rai appears in a completely redundant ‘item’ number, which jars the narration. Rani Mukherjee plays the effervescent young girl who sobs uncontrollably when she misses her parents. Abhishekh Bachchan excels in his role of the young man who refuses to bear the brunt of guilt. He enjoys his role as a criminal to the hilt.

B&B makes no attempt at serious thought provoking cinema. There are no lessons to learn, no logic that explains why things happen and no common sense incase you are looking for one. Just be prepared to be assaulted by a heady mix of nonsensical events, catchy music (‘Chote Chote Shehero Se’), fantastic fancy dresses (Rani’s clothes are gorgeous) and a world of clean and good ol’ fun. To end with the words of our crooked Bunty ‘There are two kinds of comedies in this world- those that draw laughter from within and those that force you to laugh’ B&B I fear belongs to the latter.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

The Fan

The first time I noticed her, was one sunny morning a few months back. She coyly walked towards the platform and stood waiting for the train. Nothing exceptional about her (warning- you are looking through the eyes of a woman), neatly dressed, young and in all probablity - a student. The 7:32 was almost there are I forgot all about her and joined the battle to capture the lone window seat that seemed to be calling out to me. She glanced at me briefly, or so I would believe and that was all that happenned.

Next day, I saw her again and found her staring at me. Quite all right, women do stare at women for all the right reasons. I checked out my clothes, no..they weren't great, but they weren't sad either. I looked at my shoes- polished- my bag was quite all right. She stood there are stared at me, quietly and without expression. I stared back and she continued to stare

I saw her as I was returning in the evening. I did not get a seat and she was also standing at a point, bang opposite me and doing what I knew she could do best- stare at me. I was in doubt. Its not a great idea to be oggled at by men. It causes me immense discomfiture- even appreciative glances do- let alone a woman. Was she blind then? No...didn't seem so.

After that, she took to missing the morning train, if I was late, so that she could be on the same train as I was. It was with sheer agony that I took the lone empty seat in front of her last week. Thirty minutes of hell, she continued to stare...

Someday,I shall find the answer.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Whenever I am asked to name my favourite actor, I stop, hesitate and think. I have no clear favorites, but some names do spring up on the mind. Dev Anand, while he was young, Aamir Khan barring a few seriously pathetic movies, and and Sunil Dutt. Hang on! I liked him in all his movies. So he’s probably my favourite actor!!!!
I can never forget Sunil Dutt in ‘ Mera Saya’. As he cried over Sadhna’s corpse, I would have given my life to be in her shoes. The light of truth that shone in his eyes, when he stood in the courtroom later, challenging the existence of his wife. I loved Sunil Dutt in ‘Padosan’- where he played the simple boy in love with Saira Banu- the winsome lass next door. And years later, I loved Sunil Dutt in ‘Munna Bhai M.B.B.S.’ when he played father to his son Sanjay Dutt. But his most stellar performance must have been in ‘Mother India’ where he played son to Nargis.

Today Sunil Dutt died.

I am told that he championed the cause of the poor and the sick. He was our Sports Minister till today and that he will always be remembered as an upright honest gentleman. I still recall, how he defended Sanjay Dutt when the latter was arrested under TADA and how he felicitated our cricket players in Eden Gardens. I remember seeing him in ‘Jeena Isi Kaa Naam Hain’ where he was so overcome by emotion that it was difficult to make out his words. The Prime Minister has flown to Mumbai for his cremation. There are organizations that have benefited by him and they have come to be with him in these last hours. The media covered his death all day. They say, he was the original actor-turned-politicians. The rest are pretenders. They say he was good human being.

For me its immaterial how he was. For me he will always be Sunil Dutt, who wept inconsolably when Sadhna dies in ‘Mera Saya’ That’s the image that will linger on……

Monday, May 23, 2005

Kahani Ghar Ghar Ki- Of contended housewives and forged bond papers

So I do confess, that after a day of writing CMMI level 5 code, I actually take pleasure in watching Saans-Bahus fighting it out on the small screen and that when I left office at 8pm last Wednesday, my only concern was that Shruti should not be discovered posing as Gayatri during Gayatri’s wedding. Welcome to the world of Balaji Telefilms’ prime-time soaps, where every new daughter-in-law is painted either in pristine white or gory black. Where no episode is complete without a “song and dance” sequence and where the only aspiration of a young boy or girl is to find the soul mate of their dreams.

Kahani Ghar Ghar Ki aspires to structure itself along the lines of a modern day Ramayana. The story weaves itself around Om Agarwal, his wife Parvati and his brothers Gaurav, Ajay and Kamal. Parvati stands for truth and honesty and thereby hangs a tale of ideological conflicts between Parvati and Pallavi (her sister-in-law)

Watch KGGK for the interiors of the Agarwal house, that are guaranteed to awe you. Watch out for the clothes worn by the members of the cast. It comes as no surprise that Parvati goes to bed in a silk sari, replete with jewellery, bindi and makeup. Watch out for girls who seem to be living in jeans but slip into a sari - the day after marriage - with equal élan. Contented housewives fish out dusty LLB degrees to turn into legal eagles overnight (Ajay’s wife Avantika, for one) and win their first case against the best of lawyers for their ‘Suhaag ki Raksha’ Money seems to flow like water. People sign bond papers without looking at the contents and the bad guy always gets the entire property transferred to his name with a single signature. And all the male members of the Agarwal household seem to be on personal terms with the Police Commissioner (who is always ready to oblige old friends) and at least one mandarin in the Income Tax department.

It is difficult to say whether KGGK is really a story that could happen in our daily lives. In fact, the far-fetched reality of the story line provides a means of escape and an opportunity to be a part of a make-believe world that could never be true. There are lessons to be learnt of course. Of values, ethics and respect to our elders. Parvati epitomizes the perfect ‘Bahu’ that every mother-in-law would love. Her greatest virtue is that she puts others before herself. However, KGGK portrays the 21st century female as super-woman who can manage a family and career with effortless ease. Shruti and Gayatri handle their careers while being wonderful daughters. Pallavi is chided for being so career-conscious that she could not be the perfect daughter-in-law. Such portrayal creates a role model for women that is impossible to emulate and has negative repercussions on society. Overall, not a bad job, considering that four years into it’s screening, the TRP ratings are still going strong. Next time you see Parvati do remember to say, Touché!

Sunday, May 08, 2005

It’s been ages since I had a summer be more year! Last year I suppose I had what I would call without hesitation the longest break of my life so far and boy! Was it not fun!!!!

So I woke up at 5am this morning with a vague recollection that school was not supposed to open before the 18th of this month and that it was no use waking up so early. Baba woke me up an hour later....get up or you'll be late for office....

Poor me!!! The good ol' days of summer vacations....cycle rides in the dark, swimming in the pool just when the sun strikes it big and getting tanned all over.

Sneaking around while everyone's asleep during the noon and stealing mangoes from the fridge and the baton relays in the afternoon.

The kaal boshakhi in the evening...picking up the mangoes that had fallen and the long walks after the storm to the library to pick up the Enid Blytons.

The home work that was done grudgingly; but just in time to watch chuti chuti on TV. Calling up friends, writing long letters to the class mates, visiting grand parents....

Mishti Doi, Pochise Boiskakh, Jamai Shoshti, Raaj Bhog!

Now its the same the year around, the hectic mornings in the train, the evening rush, and the work that never seems to end....I have been sleep walking all these days and I suppose it will go on forever.........

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Not quite myself

In a perfect demonstration of how I sometimes forget the meaning of the words 'limit', 'bounds' and 'control', I spent the last weekend in a hectic flurry of activities, hitherto unknown to me.
No no no.....they aren't exactly the stuff to take my readers by surprise , titillate the senses or scare the daylights away. Nor do I guarantee that you will be pleased with my progress, because I have miles to go before I sleep. But fact remains, that I have been upto work and that alone should draw a few gasps from those who have known me since childhood to live the archetypal life of a Bohemian. No, I have not been this weekend, the lazy, sleeping, yawning, chatting, grumbling, frowning, again yawning, over 60, bored with life, toothless grand ma that I pretend to be.


Well, I cooked chicken for the first time and I swear that I am not going to do it again. I hated its impertinence- it refused to boil for a good 20 minutes. Just when I thought I was going to give it up, inspiration stuck and with some generous help from Som over the phone (some running commentary that was) we won the day. Ummm..the taste was quite good for a beginner, but I can do better if I break my pledge.

Then I made pasta for dinner on Sunday. Now I had been planning this for quite sometime, but there was a tougher thing ahead. That was convincing Baba, who hates pasta because that's all he gets to eat when he goes to Italy. Of course, mention Pizza to him and he goes ballistic- just can't digest that stuff too. That was easier and it was more edible I can say with confidence. You ought to ask me where this confidence springs from. see, if the pasta and chicken were both leftover, I would prefer the pasta to the chicken. There you go.

Then I did the unthinkable. I studied. Yeah, I spent sometime with SQL, trying to conquer cursors and procedures and materialized views. Pretty decent stuff, if it goes into your head. Unfortunately it didn't. The harder I tried, the worse it seemed. With due consideration to the stress I was putting on my tender brain, I postponed indefinitely the 'Study SQL' session.

Well, there is so much more that I did and its so difficult to put all that in words. So, I would leave it at that. Till I catch up with another momentary burst of inspirational energy, I better get back to being the ol' self.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Never knew that Baba could be so efficient at home. All my life I’ve seen my Dad plunging himself neck deep in his office, without a thought as to what was going about at home. When he came home for lunch on weekdays, Ma and I could clearly see that his mind was still in office and when he gobbled insipid food without complaining, we knew that he was dying to get back to work. When he forgot to do the groceries, or take us out for dinner, we didn't know whether to laugh or get angry. That's Baba for you; love him or leave him.

But things changed since Ma left for Delhi three weeks back. Baba has been the model of conscientiousness. He makes sure I get my breakfast and that my lunch is packed and that when I eat dinner, the food is actually warmer than room temperature. He has been doing the groceries and keeping stock of what's running out. He's been managing the helping hands at home and his department in the factory; amidst 60 phone calls a day that start at 6 in the morning and end at midnight.

When I reach home at 9pm at night, I am exhausted and so is Baba, but he never lets me know that. Always ready to clean up after dinner, so that I do not have to do it. The metamorphosis is complete.

This morning was Neel Shosthi. Mothers are supposed to fast for their children and put a doi-er tip on their foreheads. When Baba did that for me, I realized that he had finally discovered the mother hidden in him.

Saturday, April 09, 2005

I never thought that trains could get so crowded

I never thought that trains could get so crowded. Certainly not at this time of the night. Someday, when this ordeal is over (or so I hope) I fear that I would have got so used to it that I would actually miss it. Till then I try to make the most of it.
But yesterday was different. I got a seat in the train in the morning. What it means is that everybody else got a seat. Quite unwittingly, I have come to acquire a burden of a conscience that does not permit me to sit in the train if anybody else is standing. Of course, anybody covers a gamut of women starting from school kids in white shoes (poor kid, - if she stands somebody will surely step over her shoes) schoolgirls studying in the train (if she does not sit, how would she study?) girl going to college (she’ll get exhausted if she continues to stand), woman going on a holiday (such a huge traveling bag- she must sit) woman going to office (you ought to start the day with a seat in the morning train) old women- no excuses- they must sit- if necessary at the cost of unseating somebody else.
But yesterday, I say it again, was different. While was I coming back, I got a seat once but gave it away to an old lady hoping that I would get a seat soon. Strangely enough, I did not get another seat and a tragedy of this scale occurring at 8PM at night when trains are not very crowded, surely ranks as a catastrophe. Add to it, the fact that I was carrying home a bulky book and the thought of studying through the weekend was weighing down my shoulders as well as my morale. In a compartment where there was not enough place to stand, hawkers were moving about seamlessly, gliding through the multitude and savagely competing with one another to sell bananas and ear rings. At regular intervals, I took to shifting my weight from my left leg to my right. A few women were examining cushion covers and the girl standing next to me was reading a newspaper. I thought I spotted a friend, but before I could wave to her, the climax of our most extra-ordinary journey took place. A man got up in the ladies compartment, and amidst the entire din, started singing an awful song, and begged for alms in the meantime. If Satyajit Ray had been present, he would have surely used this shot as the opening scene of his next art film. I would be the protagonist looking calmly at the pandemonium, while thinking wistfully about the SQL query that I left behind in office and ways to improve it. I would be taking a stoic view of the situation and when my train reached my destination, aah! Cut the crap. Baba is here…………..

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Trains and me

My tryst with Indian Railways continues unabated. For sometime now, she has been annoyed with me. As a consequence, whenever I am on time, the train is late and if I am late, the train is on time. If only she would understand, that being late everyday isn't exactly making me very popular among my colleagues, perhaps she would take pity upon me and commiserate. I have now come to accept that being packed like a molecule in the train is normal and days when I do get a seat in the train, I sniff the air with suspicion. I have realized that days when I am hungry, no one will sell 'jhaalmuri' and just when I call for the man who sells those pretty hair clips, he will get off the train, in search of greater fortune. It has now become a practice to give away my seat to nameless strangers, whose suffering seems far greater than mine and while away my time listening to the tales of sorrow that my co-passengers recount.

It has been raining all day and last night too. The trains were late last night and they stopped running this morning. I came to office in a car with a gora (a guest of Baba's) who insisted on being informed about my salary, 'working' hours and how many days a week I 'worked'. It is difficult to explain to someone who has been installing heavy electrical machinery all his life that I earn my livelihood by pretending to work.

The weather has undergone a drastic change. No one would have imagined that it would rain so much at this time of the year. There is a new building coming up, next to ours and because of the rain, construction work had to be stopped. We took a walk this afternoon among the muck and it was fun stepping into the puddle, getting my clothes soiled. How I wish we'd never grow up, never have to behave like prim and proper adults; never have to wear the right clothes for the occasion, the right expression on our faces as the situation demanded.

Its Holi tomorrow and I don't think I’m going to take part in it. None of my friends are here. They're all gone in search of greener pastures, yellow sunshine. Is red the colour of success? Maybe, blue is the colour of confidence. Green should be the color of ambition. Yellow for joy. Whoa! Its spring time and its raining- what greater misery could there be?

Friday, March 11, 2005

Born Again

Three days ago I completed a year of work. From the looks of it, I haven't really done much of work for the last 365 days. For example, I did not learn to pretend that I was working hard when there was no work. I did not learn to stay back after work and check mails, just to be physically present and make my boss happy. I did not learn to smoke a cigarette or two and have a nice chat with the seniors. When I completed my work on time, I did not learn to advertise it with a loudspeaker. When somebody asked me for help, I did not tell everyone that I was teaching an ignorant colleague the tricks of the trade.

In the days to come, I will have to learn to be more "pro-active". I have to actively seek solutions to the problems of my organization and apply lateral thinking to provide answers to emerging technologies. In order to promote a healthy competitive environment, I must learn the art of effective communication with an aim to progressing the interests of my company and siphon the mercury up to the highest level of the customer satisfaction index. Remedial measures shall be taken to upgrade my know-how with esoteric knowledge transfer sessions that will gauge my learning effectiveness and the subsequent profit to the company on the whole. I must build myself and my fellow associates to become valuable and indispensable resources to the organization, so that together we create a synergy that will help to build cutting edge technologies.

A day ago I grew a year older.....perhaps not wiser still........

Tuesday, February 15, 2005


I think I must have had the most boring VD ever. I stared at the PC and the PC stared back at me. It was shifting time, Jaya had left and I moved to her place and all through the day I was immersed in moving papers and transferring files, informing the people who mattered and getting things started. Well, the initial hiccups have remained and my mail is not working and despite the terrific forwards that my friends have been sending over for the past few days, I have not been able to read anything at all.

It’s a lot fun now sitting where I am, amidst friends; but for them I would have lost my head in this absolutely mindless place. Three times now, my core team-members have changed in the past three months. I have remained…residue? Sometimes I think of the Brooke’s Song- ‘For men may come and men may go but I go on forever’

Work is a little under control, its been nearly two months since I started taking it seriously and I think I am getting the grips. Good for me, because it was getting a little tedious opening my mailbox every ten minutes to check for mails, out of sheer lack of any constructive activity. I used to solve puzzles, write blogs (apologies though this is no mean meaningless time pass) and chat. These nefarious activities are now a thing of the past, because cry has gone around the workplace ‘The Costing Module suffers, because Anwesha- the most diligent insufferable worker of them all is neglecting her work and the module is languishing!!!!’ Its fun now, writing code and seeing it execute actually. A new baby is born every week and Mamma is happy.

Monday, January 24, 2005

Elegantly Wasted

One of these days I am going to turn insane. A couple of friends of mine would chuckle at the future tense. They would rather accept it as one of those inevitable things that happen to people like me. But I am going to turn insane and I know it.

It’s the work. Its getting on the last nerve left in me, twisting and turning and playing footsie with it, till I begin to feel like I do not belong to the race of humans anymore.
This never-ending grueling work that has chained me to the wheel of civilization has taken its toll upon my mental health. I am but the cog of the wheel and the day I break away, the wheel I know will move on; perhaps a little slower till the new cog fits in....but it will move on.

Up again this Monday morning, with no mood to leave the warmth of my blanket and embrace the winter chill, I was late. 7:32 never turned up. Was once again packed like a molecule in another train. Met a friend, but she was too busy talking to her boyfriend over the phone to make any kind of intelligent conversation. Sprinted through the station, just in time to catch the bus. Had to sit right at the back. Ugh! Seems like a punishment to me.

Monday morning blues don't seem to have changed anything. Bugging colleagues, irritating bosses and mundane mails that suggest nothing new. Over that, couple of us had to leave the project and that included a good friend of mine and that has added to my misery.

Dunno.....someday things will change. The clouds will move and weather will get warmer when the sun shines on my face, and I will be free!!!

Tuesday, January 11, 2005


Today I met Aparna on the train. 11 years ago when she left our school to join another, we had parted as best friends. I still retain the calendars that she used to give me in January every year and the lyrics of the songs that she made transcripts of. I wonder if she remembers the songs we sang together when we performed or the sums that I solved for her homework.

11 years later Aparna is married and cannot recognize me anymore. She stood in the train without a seat complaining about the crowd and the daily drudgery in a dull monotonous voice, about the French lessons she was taking (I wonder why) and as she spoke to another co-passenger she glanced at me. I stared at her, smiling and without blinking, hoping that she would recognize me and she did not respond.

Faces....there is something about faces that torments me. I forget names; but I never forget faces. And then those familiar faces come back to haunt me like a tiny little monster eating into my mind, gnashing its tail and growing bigger by the moment, till the pain is overwhelming and I cannot take it anymore. It’s a curse that I must bear. Faces that I must forget but cannot. Names that I must remember but I cannot. Everyday in the train I meet familiar faces. Faces that shouted out to me in the field during lunchtime in school or stood in a line during the morning assembly or waited with bated breadth before the report card would be given out or stole a moment to grab the forbidden 'jhaalmuri' when the prefects were not looking. I remember all of them....but they never remember me.

I think I gave up the staring game when she got a seat facing her back to me. I wasn't going to let her disappear again. Not my ex-best-friend if ever there was something like that. Besides, the guilt was overwhelming; the guilt of recognition. Went up to her and introduced myself. A tiny flicker of recognition and I knew that she remembered. It was too late. I was about to get off the train and we could not speak anymore. But we parted this time promising to recognize each other again, if the train would permit. I know I shall honour my promise and I live in the hope that she will too.....

Monday, January 10, 2005


Standing for what you believe in,
Regardless of the odds against you,
and the pressure that tears at your resistance,

Keeping a smile on your face,
When inside you feel like dying,
For the sake of supporting others,

Stopping at nothing,
And doing what's in your heart,
You know is right,

Doing more than is expected,
To make another's life a little more bearable,
Without uttering a single complaint,

Helping a friend in need,
No matter the time or effort,
To the best of your ability,

Giving more than you have,
And expecting nothing
But nothing in return,

Holding your head high,
And being the best you know you can be
When life seems to fall apart at your feet,
Facing each difficulty with the confidence
That time will bring you better tomorrows,
And never giving up,