Sunday, December 24, 2006

Kolkata on Christmas Eve

Music World and Flurry's behind

Giggles the original 'Archies' and 'Hallmark'

Kwality Restaurant and Oxford Book Store

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Autobiography of a spun cotton jumper

Aah well, somebody did pluck the cotton from the tree and then they had to spin it into a yarn in a factory and then some machine wove it into linen. But I will not go into all that jazz. Suffice, that I was born as a spun cotton jumper in some obscure factory in India. Dyed white and black and fitted to the 't' for my size. I wish I knew who designed me, because I thought I looked quite attractive. Then one day they decided to ship me across the seven seas. It was cramped journey with my brethen and it lasted quite a while. When it was over, we found ourselves displayed in a showroom somewhere in USA.

Life was good and life was cosy in the shelf. Till, one day a foolish girl from India who had flown to USA for a short while decided to have a closer look at me. She decided that she liked me and paid for me twenty times the price than she would have paid otherwise , had she purchased me in India. She was back in India after sometime and only much later while sending me for drycleaning did she discover a tag that read "Made in India"

Now-a-days , she looks at me with a tinge of regret. She wears me still, but cringes whenever anybody asks where she found me.

And I thought I was quite good looking!

Not fair!!!

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Double Dee

Dear Dee,

Following your suggestion, I watched 'Khosla Ka Ghosla' this weekend along with Mum and Dad. Allow me to thank you for motivating me to watch the movie. KKG turned out to be one of the funniest movies that I have seen for a long time. All of us were in splits. It also brought back some old memories. KKG rightly depicts the attitude of the babu class in Delhi. The way they speak, their propensity to sniff a bribe from a mile's distance and the general notion that all of the people in Delhi suffer from: your bigger your bark, the less is the need to bite.

I loved the scene where Khosla encounters a Jat chowkidar guarding the property that Khurana has dishonestly taken from him. The guard speaks with the confidence that only one Delhite (i know how much we hate that term) can speak to another. I love the political connections and the pehlwans from the aakhra that Khosla's son gathers to get what is rightfully theirs. Not so long ago, people I know ran into a spot of trouble and we had to make similar moves (no, we did not need pehlwans, the matter was solved much earlier than that). Watching the movie made me recall how helpless we had felt that day....just the way Mr. Khosla felt. I aslo loved Cherry ( er..more because the character was played by the irresisitable Praveen Dabas) and his "I-don't-know-anything-beyond-my-IT-job" attitude and his father's pride in his computer engineer son. Now, I could relate to that!!!!

Anupam Kher as the gullible Mr. Kamal Kishore Khosla is believable, but Boman Irani as Khurana the dishonest property dealer is too good to be true. I watched 'Don' on video the night before and watching Boman Irani slip into a totally different skin in KKG was as much a pleasure as a delight. It was also good to see Kiran Juneja on screen after so long. Ranveer Shourey and Tara Sharma were also good as was Navin Nishchol. I hope and wonder that I will see a day in Delhi where the girlfriend drives her guy on a scooter. I thought Delhites were too snooty for that!!!!

To, the other Dee,

I spent the last weekend at your place attending your wedding. Dear as you are to me, I was excited about your wedding for a long long time. But what I saw, rather put me off as far as Bengali weddings are concerned. They made you get up at 3:00 am in the morning, to eat curd and beaten rice ("Dodhi Mongol"). Then you had to fetch water from the Ganges. Then you had to go to a bangle shop early in the morning to buy the "shakha". Then when like anybody else who hasn't eaten food since 3:00 am, you were supposed to feel hungry, I's sisters brought turmeric for you and so began the 'haldi' ceremony. Even when that was over, there was a puja that you had to sit through and all this was before the sun was overhead. While the rest of us lunched, you had to skip the meal. I had decided earlier, that I would fast with you, but somehow, seeing so many friends around, I got carried away and forgot about my intentions. They took three hours to get you ready for the wedding. I have never seen you look more beautiful. You still had to wait without food till 10pm at night, when they started the wedding ceremony. All this while, you had to smile and greet people who had come to attend your wedding. Your wedding was over a little after 3:00 the next day. For one whole day, you had to go without food and yet kept on smiling for the guests and the photographer.

The rituals and ceremonies will go on. Its been eight days since your wedding and tomorrow you will observe the oshtomongola...Really, these rituals will now keep coming on and on, for as long as you are married. I know it isn't exactly a frightfully welcome way to usher in a new life, but I hope you enjoy a long and happy married life. I consider myself lucky to call you a friend, and for you, I wish nothing short of the very best of everything!!!!

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Random ramblings and rather rowdy ruminations

“Tsch tsch.” I can hear the silent chiding of the computer as I lose yet another game. “You cannot even win an easy one?” It has been this way for the last two years. I have devoted myself single-mindedly to this game in pursuit of victory at one careless moment when the machine would forget to notice. It never happens. Like a gambler who loses and yet takes another chance, I will myself to try one last time and bear the brunt of another defeat every time.

I never seem to learn. Much like the aunties and uncles who will never realize that ‘Nach Baliye’ isn’t quite their piece of cake. Last week, my mother cajoled me to attend another of those numerous parties that my Dad’s office seems to throw without an excuse. I am glad now, that I went to attend it. There was a “cultural” programme before dinner where “local” talent was showcased. My mother was rather hopeful that I would strum a few lines on my guitar. Women have a sixth sense (atleast I do). Something warned me beforehand, not to take the risk. At the cost of incurring my mother’s displeasure, I refused to be a part of the circus. The function featured a few officers’ wives who were self-proclaimed dancing prodigies. Not content with basking in their wife’s reflected glory, their husbands also joined, a la Nach Baliye. The combination was a total disaster. From ‘Kajra Re’ to ‘Omkaara’, no song was spared. It was quite funny watching the men taking clumsy steps in their office attire. Clearly most of them had not even rehearsed, but were quite keen to please their wives and bosses (who were watching keenly). I hope their annual appraisal did not depend on the performance. I roared with laughter and remember falling off my chair while my mother gave me deploring looks. Well, okay, at least they went up on stage to perform. My mother’s daughter did not even do that, despite owning a fine Fender’s telecaster.

I must be in a pretty cynical mood now. Because I am going to lambast Nach Baliye next. First of all, putting a married couple on stage and making them dance maybe a cute idea, but does not find favour time after time. Nach Baliye -1 was quite a new concept, and even though some of the couples were quite a horror to watch and some rounds were downright vulgar – we digested it. Nach Baliye -2 is worse than the original. In an effort to get hold of 10 more couples, they have gathered together some rather reluctant couples, who couldn’t care any less about dancing. Add to that, most of them are overtly sentimental about getting an appreciative whistle from Saroj Khan or a 10. They break down at the slightest pretext. I remember blogging about how rather disgusting it used to be watching Poonam Narula cry everytime a couple got eliminated. Ironically, when she lost the final round, she forgot to cry!!!

Malaika Arora, one Chaiya Chaiya has made you an expert in judging dances? I thought you were pretty bad as a DJ and I think you are worse as a judge because most of the time the other two judges do not agree with you. In any case, you were quite bad in Chaiya Chaiya as well. Kunal Kohli probably gives the director’s perspective. He’s not much of a director according to me, but, thank God, he does not steer towards controversy. Saroj Khan is the one whose opinion matters and as an ace choreographer, she is the face saver of the show. No matter what, I hope there is no Nach Baliye -3.

But Sa Re Ga Ma should carry on and on and on and on. And Shaan should host it again and again and again. The great thing that they have done this time, is to make sure that the best talent got the prize. It was bad enough to let Debojit win the competition last time, when it was clearly evident that Vineet and Himani were far better singers. Watching Sanchita Bhattacharya win this time was a relief. Hearing her sing was like feeding on honey dew and drinking the milk of paradise. She comes from a family of professional singers and her brother has also won a singing competition in a Bengali channel. They have a bright future ahead. I just hope that she does not end up like Sunidhi Chauhan. Sunudhi sang exceptionally well when she won the ‘Meri Awaaz Suno’ competition, but the quality of her voice has deteriorated so much in recent years, that I no longer listen to her songs. Alas! Not every one is a Lata Mangeshkar or an Asha Bhosle. But Shreya Ghoshal sure has a long way to go. She is an exceptionally talented singer and right now, I would rate her as the best in Bollywood.

Ummm…I seem to be getting nowhere. Would like finish off this postwith the link below.
Should Abhishek marry Aish????
I think judging by their history of breakups – they deserve each other. I also think Rani Mukherjee is too good to have a fellow like Abhishek dumped on her!

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Under Pressure

I never realized that using a pressure cooker would involve so many casualties. The spotless white ceiling of my kitchen now sports a lovely lemon yellow color of boiled moong daal. The tiles on the walls (again in white) will have to be cleaned. The gas burner is bubbling with daal and the kitchen board is waiting to be wiped. Somebody should have told me not to remove the weight while the gas was still burning and the cooker was spouting full steam.

They say, I am lucky to escape without any injuries. Whoa! Who wants to step outdoors for adventure when it is lying in wait right indoors in the kitchen? My escapades in the kitchen if chronicled astutely could make one Robin Hood hang his head in shame. Like burning my hands and face while trying to fry fish. The mark on my face is a tiny one that is fast disappearing, but while it lasts, it serves as a testimony, that I have for a fact fried fish at least once. Like burning the cauldron while trying to make chicken curry. I managed to fit in 12 chicken drumsticks in a small wok. It was tough moving them about the place and so while some remained raw, over melted, while some got charred. I will remain eternally grateful to the angels who ate it with an amused smile, but nevertheless ate all of it – raw/cooked/burnt.

In the meantime, I have experimented – sometimes with reasonable success. Like using salsa sauce in pasta with a little bit of cold milk – it actually tasted good. And used shortcuts: like using packaged frozen vegetables instead of fresh ones in my sabji. Meantime, there have been disasters – like using tomato sauce to make fish curry look brighter and using chat masala with mustard paste – ugh!

Cooking is about Chemistry – says Ma. You have to mix the right ingredients at the right time and voila! You have created magic. Helping me to churn out the right chemical reactions are people who I can never forget: SB, SM, AB, AD. Beginning with rice, to daal, chicken, fish, chutney…virtually all avenues of Indian cuisine were explored. The taste of AD’s cabbage curry and shrimps still lingers. So does SB’s mutton and SM’s fish and AB’s cauliflower in curd (really!) I pledge to always remain jealous of those people, who have mastered the art of making food, taste good. Someday, when I get there, where you are, we shall exchange notes!

Friday, October 27, 2006

DON’t you miss this one!

My foremost reason for watching Don was sheer curiosity. I just had to check out Farhan Akhtar’s third movie. After ‘Dil Chahta Hain’ and the slightly lukewarm ‘Lakshya’ Farhan took two years to come out with this one and I wanted to know why. Secondly, and more importantly, I had to see whether Shah Rukh would be able to say Alvida to badly made movies. And the result is that both have redeemed themselves. Don is not quite the most heart warming movie of the century and it certainly cannot lay claim to the title of the most thought provoking cinema of this millennium, but yes, for three hours, I was glued to my seat, watching out for what would come next. Shah Rukh takes on the person he publicly claims as his icon – Big B – Amitabh Bachchan. This remake of the 1970’s classic is not exactly a verbatim copy of the original script. Instead, the storyline twists, turns, rotates, spirals and revolves round the characters of the original screenplay and metamorphoses into a completely different entity. Don here is an important member of international drug dealer Singhania’s gang and even though not much is shown about his drug dealings, we get to see plenty of cold blooded killings to assure usthat he is ‘bahut hi khatarnaak’

Enter Kamini (Kareena Kapoor) in Helen’s role with an unforgettable performance of ‘Yeh mera dil pyaar ka deewana’. Bebo’s fiancé (Diwakar Pundir) has been killed by the Don and she hopes to set things right by handing him over to the police. Sadly, Kamini’s plan misfires and she gets killed by the Don. But all is not over. Kamini’s would-be sister-in-law Roma (Priyanka Chopra) is a martial arts expert and she vows revenge. In meantime, keeping with the original storyline, Don is killed in a police encounter but only Inspector De Silva knows about it and he finds out Vijay – a village simpleton who is a Don look-alike and trains him as the Don. Vijay now tries to expose the gang. After this however, the story takes a completely different turn including the climax which proves to be the ‘kahani mein twist’

Now, I watched the original movie quite a few years ago and I really do not wish to compare the movies. Suffice to say that Farhan Akhtar has built a new story using the same characters and has merely retained the skeletal structure of the old story. But there are sub plots within the plot and some like the character played by Arjun Rampal are quite uninteresting. Somewhere along the line you feel that the story is losing its grip and frankly, there were times when I glanced at my watch wondering how much time remained. However, it would be unfair if I said that I did not enjoy some of the action sequences. There is this terrific scene, where Vijay is kidnapped by his gang, while he is a police ambulance in a freeway in Malaysia. Instead of going the old fashioned way of pulling the driver out and driving away with the ambulance , or taking Vijay’s stretcher out and getting away, Roma arranges for a crane to lift the ambulance into a truck which then drives off. We laughed off our sides when we watched the next one. ShahRukh and company are in an aeroplane and they are being taken to a special detention camp in an island in Malaysia because they are ‘khatarnaak mujrim’s. Don must escape and by now, his gang knows that he is not the Don, but Vijay and so they are baying for his blood. Well, our Vijay and a firangi start fighting in the aeroplane with their handcuffs and then with just one parachute between them they jump off the aircraft. The rest is hilarious. In an action that defies all laws of gravity pertaining to free-fall, they fight mid-air for the parachute and as all stories go, Vijay gets the parachute just when they are quite close to the ground.

Shah Rukh, is the probably only person who could have acted this role. His arrogance mixed with amusement is the perfect for the 21st century Don, who has no ethics or code of honour. Comparisons with the Big B are obvious, but to his credit, Shah Rukh handles the character in his own way and passes the test (though not with flying colours.) On second thoughts, Vivek Oberoi could have done this role as well. In anycase, after his mesmerizing ‘K k k k Kiran’ it’s good to see Shah Rukh in a negative role that he will be remembered for. Priyanka Chopra steals the show. She is maturing into one of the finest actresses in Bollywood. Priyanka takes on Roma – Zeenat Aman’s character, but at the end of the show, we do not want to compare the two actresses, because Priyanka has shaped Roma in a different garb and she does full justice to her part. Isha Kopikkar –as Don’s moll makes no difference to the movie. Anybody else could have done that role. Kareena Kapoor appears for five minutes, looks ravishing a la Helen and bows out. Arjun Rampal is good, but his character is pretty boring and I wish he would stop behaving like a bank manager and learn to emote a little more. Boman Irani as Inspector De Silva does his usual act, but he has a cute assistant Inspector and I wish he was the person to catch the Don.

All said and done, Don is quite a nonsensical movie if you try to make sense out of it, but in the truest sense of Bollywood style masala movie, it scores a perfect 10. Complete entertainment and satisfaction guaranteed. Farhan Akhtar – good job. What next?

Friday, September 15, 2006

Isaac Newton don't impress me much

I have been eyeing an apple tree in the neighbourhood for quite sometime. Today just after lunch, I went and stood below the tree. No, I did not fall asleep, nor did I wait for an apple to fall on my head and thereby start a new thought provoking venture into science. I reached up and plucked an apple from the tree and took a juicy bite. Ummmmmm, I think I just ran short of expression.

One thought provoking venture into human behaviour though......a full grown apple tree, with red juicy apples, looking invitingly at all passerbys and nobody bothers to pluck??? Its not even on some private property. Maybe, out here nobody needs to worry about where their next meal will come from; a sharp contrast from the land where I belong to........

Monday, August 21, 2006

Good-bye and Goodnight

I stayed up till 4am this morning, to watch Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna. Arrrgghh!! I am totally bleary eyed now and a bigger fool than I was last night, when friends warned me not to sacrifice a good night's sleep to see ShahRukh divorce Priety to marry Rani. KANK is 3.5 hours, boring, dull and lacks something that I really cannot pin point at (atleast not now, when I am so disgusted)

Shahrukh, please grow up. You are nearing the end of your career. I agree, that you are have had more box office success than nearly any actor in Bollywood history (is he really the most successful in terms of box office collections?) but we need a break. Ten years after DDLJ, you are still acting the same way. When I saw you in Swadesh, I thought you might have changed, but I suppose box office obligations drove you to revert back to the same school of acting.

Dev (played by ShahRukh) is the failed footballer who turns to coaching after an accident cripples him forever. Rhea (Priety Zinta) is his ambitious wife, who is a go getter and a winner. Maya ( Rani Mukherjee) is a simpleton at heart married to party organiser and (hence) party amimal Rishi ( Abhishekh Bachchan - don't I love that guy!). Now, put the four in a churning pot and watch the concoction brewing into a Bollywood masala mix.

Dev thinks his wife is too ambitious to have a happy family. Maya thinks her husband is too engrossed with himself to care about her and so, Dev and Maya fall in love with each other. Thereby hangs a tale. Now, the pathetic part of the plot is that, Rhea (Dev's wife) is ambitious, but makes real effort to look after her family and be with them whenever she can. Rhea's character is not painted in black, but had shades of grey. It really throws the same question that Abhimaan with the Big B and Jaya Bachchan posed before society nearly 30 years ago, with so much more subtlety. What's wrong if the wife is more successful than the husband???? Why is it that a husband can get away with long working hours under the guise that he is doing all this for his family while the same does not hold for the wife? In the story, Rhea works extra hard so that she can buy the best for her son and provide him with all the comforts in life. What's so wrong with that????

On the other end, we have Maya who thinks that she has not been able to connect to husband, Rishi. Agreed, that the fellow is a party animal, but it does not justify a failed marriage. Fellow shows his love for his wife all the time, and tries to keep her happy day in and day out. Infact, Rhea has the weakest character, but the most screen presence in the movie and it has puzzled me to no end. Why on Earth does she think she cannot connect to her husband. He is after all, not the indifferent phlegmatic man who does not have any interest in his wife!!! To the contrary, Rishi does his best to keep Rhea happy, but she is the one who seems to be indifferent.

Now, even as I am trying to figure out why Dev and Maya think that their respective marriages are failing, we come to the part of the movie where they spend time with each other and fall in love. Falling in love is the prerogative of Hindi cinema and therefore, I dare not question it, though Rishi's father Sam (Big B - more on that later) does offer by way of explanation that two people trapped under similar circumstances will bond closer. I agree with that. When R, M and I did not study for our DBMS paper and decided to 'co-operate' during the exam - we bonded very well during those three hours. The rest they say is not called Essential Repeat.

So, then I do accept that just because they have both had rocky marriages, they bond while discussing their problems and realise that they would be happy if they spent the rest of their lives with each other. After this it gets tough. You see Dev and Maya meeting secretly and doing what tantamounts to cheating on their respective spouses. You are supposed to empathise with that. At the same time, you have not exactly been taught to consider Rhea or Rishi as villains, so you are totally dazed, because you do not know what is right and what is wrong. There! got it. What's missing in KANK is a message. This movie was supposed to be some path breaking movie in Bollywood, but it does not leave any definite message. You come out of the movie wondering who was right and who wasn't. As for myself, when I sat through 3 hours of this mammoth movie and switched off my laptop when there were 30 minutes still remaining, I thought the only message worth remembering was that it was no use losing sleep over KANK. Yawn!

PS - Big B - wasted - as some kindof a compulsive sex maniac, who yet mourns the loss of his wife. I respect that guy too much to accept him in a role like this.

Sunday, August 20, 2006


There is something I have come to realise. When you desperately want something, you usually get it. Somebody told me that in this country, when people misplaced buttons in their shirts, they usually threw away the shirt because, nobody sold loose buttons or needle and thread. It worried me a lot, because I am so used to mending things that the thought of throwing away a perfectly sound dress was giving me sleepless nights. Then one day, I discovered an entire section devoted only to needles, threads and buttons in the supermarket and my fears were dispelled.

A week ago, I managed to lose the buckle of my handbag. Again, going by popular perception, I was under the impression that I would have to throw away an absolutely new leather bag, just because one buckle was missing. Today, I found yet another section in the supermarket devoted solely to buckles for strapping up bags. Funny, I never noticed it before in all these days.

This supermarket is like Harry Potter's wishing room. You only need to wish for something and you will find an entire section devoted to your needs - someplace that you probably passed by a thousand times before but never gave as much as a glance. For the past one month, I had been dumped with a lamp shade that cost me a lot of money, but was not required. I had been wondering what to do about it, when somebody told me that I could return it without any hassles. I managed to find a returns section also in the supermarket also. As a senior told me, this country is a desert and the supermarket is your oasis. You better make sure that you know your way through this place blindfolded. I'm trying to...

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Biriyani Blues

Last Saturday, we set out on what is increasingly becoming our fornightly trips in search of our roots. We went on one of those long drives, where we are always on the lookout for anyplace that smells and spells I-N-D-I-A from a mile's distance. As a result of our enthusiastic ventures, one 'Bombay Bazaar' is flourishing. Whoelse I wonder would shop for Britannia 50-50 biscuits, Maggi Hot and Sweet Tomato Sauce and Haldiram's khatta mithaa mixture and end up spending $200 everytime? The store owner - one sharp businessman with enough acumen has been quick to spot our weakness. So, he never fails to gift us DVDs (surely copied from other pirated DVDs judging by the poor quality) of the latest Hindi movies and always tempts us with sample 'Frooti' bottles. This way, he ensures, that we keep going back to the same place, even though prudence tells us that if we travel further down to a slightly known place called Chicago, Maggi Noodles will cost less than $7 ( I believe it costs Rs.9 in India and that $1 = Rs.46 now) and that a plate of Biriyani will cost not $11 but $3.

Anyway, fools will rush in and so did we when we soptted something that looked like a restaurant and called itself 'India Darbar'. Deprived of biriyani, this place seemed like manna from heaven when we found Mutton/Chicken and vegetable biriyani on the menu. We immediately ordered enough to feed a family of four for a week. When the goras in the next table sniffed and wept because of the spice in the food, we satisfied ourselves, that we were in the right place. Somebody got a chicken sizzler and our appetite soared. Politeness was all that stood between us and the kitchen door. Then somebody walked towards our table carrying food...

The rest they say is called anti-climax. What lay on my plate was rice and mutton gently sauted in meat masala. Gone was the Basmati rice without which biriyani is indispensible. Gone was saffron and even the smell of rose water that I detest so much in biriyani was missing. We could not eat it. I still remember some people weeping out of shock. We ordered tandoori chicken and given that our expectations had sunk to a new low now, it was quite good. We drowned dinner then, with some decent chicken curry and peas pulao (that's what they called it, but it was actually rice with some green peas thrown in for effect) and naan (I suspect it was a pre-cooked naan, but it was edible)

Nearly $80 the poorer but still not wiser perhaps, we left for home. Our initial mission from which we strayed so much was to find a place where we could get Halal meat. This we did not get. Seems to me, there is sufficient reason therefore, so set out again next weekend for another place from where we can hope to get a whiff of India!!!

Friday, July 28, 2006

Something fizzy

Soft drinks here come in only one size and it is called unlimited. Once you buy a glass of soft drink, you can refill it free of cost again and again and yet again for as many times as you want. People seem to prefer soft drinks here to water. I have been amazed to see families carry home huge cartons of Diet Coke cans home from the supermarket. It’s incredible because, I was always under the impression that people here were health conscious and that soft drinks had high glucose levels and so, to put it in simple words made people fat!!! In office there is a guy who finishes almost one litre (people here measure in Oz and gallons i think - though I shall never get used to the idea) of soft drinks everyday. It is no wonder then, that he is 5 feet wide and 5 feet tall and when he walks, you'd think a wall is moving. I have been quite petrified of soft drinks ever since the infamous incident of pesticides was discovered in India in 2003. People here assure me that in the Uncle Sam's land, such a thing is impossible. Pepsi/Coke/ [your soft drink company] would have to down its shutters if something like that had been discovered. Whoa! Talk about mass discrimination on the basis of the water!!!!

Back home, there is a rather limited variety of soft drinks that are available. Here, the numbers are mind boggling. You get to choose between 30 different varieties and even as I speak, they are probably launching a new variety and disbursing it for free at gas stations (yes, I got to taste a new flavour of Coke last Friday) Vending machines are everywhere; near the super market, down the basement which no one visits more than a month, close to the parking lot, at the canteen. You're probably lost in the middle of nowhere if you cannot locate a vending machine with 100 metres (again - I believe that people use to measure distances in miles here, I have no clue how much a yard measures) of your vicinity.

Every morning I watch intently an ad on TV which says that people here are getting fatter and fatter and soon airlines are going to charge the rate of 2 seats for an obese person. Should motivate people enough to cut down on the gallons to save the miles. More on gallons and the Oz, miles and yards and pound soon....

Oh! Just a passing thought...most of the men and women who win the 100 metres sprint are Americans. When you have spent all your life counting yards, how do you beat the world to 100 metres????

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Catastrophic Concoctions

In a country where people do not leave home without a cup of coffee, I have spent an excrutiating 3 weeks without coffee. The result has been a sleepy, bleary eyed and de-caffeinated A Chatterjee with a deprived-of-coffee look on her face.

For reasons best known to the mysterious forces of nature, the coffee jug is always empty in the breakfast table in the morning, when I try to get some for myself. I watch with green eyes as everyone else sips their favourite cuppa.

When we tried to make coffee at home, somebody forgot to distinguish between salt and sugar and we ended up with a cup of very salty coffee which once again, I did not have the privilege to taste.

The other day, when we tried to make some of it on the microwave, the cup burst and the coffee flowed freely everywhere but to me.

As if to prove that when God does not will AC to have coffee, she shall have none of it, the vending machine betrayed me one morning. It has never refused to help me with hot chocolate so far, but that morning, just when I thought of giving a break to the hot chocolate ritual and go for a cup of coffee, the machine refused to dispense coffee on one occasion and a cup to pour the coffee on the other, I watched disgusted and gave up.

PS – this incident took place a week ago. Stars have changed since then. Have lunched at a coffee bar with a benevolent Italian with some fine coffee, have been to Star Bucks at a time when their coffee machine was working just fine and was just treated to some delicious home brewed coffee a short while back. To borrow an expression from the Reprobate ‘Inshallah!’

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

To the government of the greatest democracy on Earth,

Dear Sir,

Sitting many many miles away from home, and in a country that does not lay to as much claim to democracy, as you do, yet provides it the truest sense of the word, I am one of the few Indians privileged to read what I have written in this blog. Elsewhere, back home, in the place that I'm afraid I belong to, they say, you have blocked all blogs, because they spawn hatred and brew violence. They say, you yourself are not so sure why you have done it, but it seemed like a step to take to counter the resentment growing against you, as you have repeatedly failed to protect us from being blown up every other Sunday. What next? Are you going to block emails, then the Internet, telephones? Are you going to stop people from talking because that is also a medium of spreading violence? Are we going to use silence to isolate criminals and non criminals alike?

Do you even know why people blog? There are those among us, who tell the world the little things that happen to our lives that nobody would care to listen to. We pen it down here, because we can come back here and read it again and again. After a day of work, I read what my friends have written in their blogs and when I can understand that they are going through, I know that no matter how far we are from each other, we have connected. So many of us assume names and tell the world tiny things about our everyday lives that we would shy away from talking about. This is our private diary in a very public domain. This is where we bare our souls without any inhibitions!

If some people use this medium to spread violence, you've gotto stop those people, not the medium. Long back, a friend of mine used to say, the treatment of dandruff is not to cut off all the hair. I still remember how we used to laugh whenever he said that, but today I realise the truth of his words. Do you think, stopping blogs is going to stop them from finding other means of communication? What next are you going to ban? Where will you stop?

True, they say, the pen is mightier than the sword. But how do you expect to conquer the pen if you cannot conquer the sword? If you wish the curb the voice of the nation, remember you are chocking your ownself and creating terrorists within. Meanwhile, the world keeps laughing at you.......

Monday, July 03, 2006

There goes my hero

Edit #1
World Cup's over now and so is Zidane's career. It hurts that it ended in such a terrible mess. A great hero like Zidane could not even be present at the medal giving ceremony, because of this. Zidane, you will nevertheless be held in our highest esteem always and you shall still be counted as one of the greatest ones that ever kicked a soccer ball


Saturday, July 01, 2006

And all who heard should see her there,
And all should cry, Beware ! Beware !
Her flashing eyes, her floating hair !
Weave a circle round her thrice,
And close your eyes with holy dread,

For today Anwesha Chatterjee is going to cook today!!!!!!

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Weird huh?

I thought it was weird enough that Aparna would want me to write the 6 weirdest things about myself. Do I need to prove that I am weird? Isn’t this blog proof enough? Being old –fashioned, I cannot say No to a friend, and so here goes the public confession, that she is demanding:

  1. I don’t lose my temper ever. Its weird, it’s crazy and I cannot figure out how it happens. It frightens me most of the time, but its true, I NEVER lose my temper. When I get seriously angry with someone, I just stop talking to them. Then I cool down after sometime (and it usually happens pretty soon). But I just do not let out any steam.

  2. Unless I am reminded of it, I do not feel hungry. I can go on for days without food (never tried it though) and I have no favourite food. I eat almost everything and like almost nothing.

  3. I forget names of people very easily, I mix them up and I confuse them and finally, I resign by giving them nicknames, but I never forget their faces. The faces come back to haunt me all the time, accusing me of forgetting the names. I suppose I must be suffering from the absent-minded professor syndrome.

  4. I don’t change myself with time. I think I got stuck in a time-wrap when I was 15 years old. I still think feel and behave like a 15 year old and cannot alter my opinions.

  5. I am lazy and I go to sleep early and wake up late, but when it comes to sprucing me up with the latest fiction, I can stay up all night and wake up at the first call of the alarm at 3 in the morning. Apart from that, nothing else would keep me awake.

  6. I can start smiling for no apparent reason and keep smiling and go on and on and on. It’s not a loud boorish laughter, but just a smile that refuses to leave me. Weird huh?

And now, it is my pleasure to tag my fellow bloggers. Your punishment for taking time to read this post is to write 6 of the weirdest things about yourself (oh! You don’t need to pretend, if you’re my friend, you gotta be weird in more than 6 ways alone). Here goes the death row list:

  1. Stilettoes
  2. Akash Sen
  3. First Rain
  4. Frog in the salad
  5. Aniruddha ( I know you are reading this)
  6. Amrita
  7. Lal
  8. Reprobate ( you have been tagged already – So I guess unless you want to expand your list, you are excused from this one)

Hee hee hee.....enjoy!

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Goodbye SN

SN died last night and he was only 26 years old. This is the first time that somebody I know has died at such a young age. There was no accident, no suicide, no nothing. Just a mild heart attack because of gastroenteritis and he passed away.

We are all in a state of shock out here. SN died fourteen thousand miles away from home, away from his parents and loved ones. Which is a terrible thing, because SN was a rather lovable guy. He was a brilliant student, a very sharp quizzer, and a very jovial fellow. We loved talking to him, because he was always so helpful and cheerful. What is really appalling is that he was the most health conscious person around and he was seen as an example of physical fitness. He lived life on the fast lane, walked fast, drove his car really fast and his brain whirled round the globe with solutions faster than most people.

SN, you left us and you are probably smiling in heaven now, because that's what great people like you deserve, while down below, we will all mourn your irreparable loss.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

The football fever

The whole world seems to be going bonkers on world cup football. People have stopped working night shifts and have demanded to be shown matches. Most people are leaving early to catch their favourite matches. We are also playing something called phantom football in office. I never cared much about football myself, not atleast after I broke B’s foot in a foul on terrible day in monsoon. I was a burly ruddy girl, with a predisposition towards football and cycling. There weren’t enough guys to make up a 22 member team, and there were fewer girls – so we played in a mixed team. Our teams changed in all possible permutations everyday. That fateful day B – possibly our best player was in the opposition and as a terrible footballer, but a determined defender my keywords were, ’don’t let the ball get past you’. Sadly B was playing his best game and as he moved towards our goal post, I missed the ball and kicked his foot instead…….

I still don’t know what stopped them from throwing me out of the team. Some of them tell me, that B spoke out on my behalf. He was two years older and quite fond of me. But my guilty conscience would not let me play anymore. Like a true blue professional, I hung up my boots while in my prime and took to cycling alone along the long winding roads in our campus. Those were the days of Itlalia’90. I had eyes only for Jeurgen Klinsmann. I wonder if Ma has thrown away the scrap book that had around 90 pictures of Klinsmann. I am told he is now coaching Germany and if I do watch any matches this time, it would only be to catch a glimpse of Klinsmann.

Meanwhile, I am playing football with my life now. I am now living in a different country and a different continent. Some people have called it seemingly paradise, I agree with seemingly. I seem to be playing football with my sleeping hours. The midfield mind says its midnight, attack the sleep nerves, the body defends by saying, it’s daytime in India. Here the sun does not set before 9p.m. putting all my time management into a quandary. I am learning for the first time, how to cook Indian food, in a foreign country from a group of men, who hitherto had commanded merely respect from me. They now have my whole-hearted admiration. Learning to count the cents and save the dollars. Learning that phone calls are free and Internet access is as easily available as pollution in India. Learning that if you do not know how to drive a car, you are doomed to lead your life dependent on others. Learning that there is no such thing as the local grocery wala or the mishtir dokaan. I am learning that restaurants are expensive and that I am an object of curiosity here because of the colour of my skin and my salwar kameez – two things that I always took for granted.

The neon lights at night blind my eyes. Sometimes, it’s an escape from the homesickness and the depression that has begun to set in. Living fourteen thousand miles away from home is not always the easiest thing to do. But some people have helped to ease the pain. I do not know how to express my heartfelt thanks to all of my friends, who have mailed, called, scrapped and have in everyway let me know that absence makes the heart grow fonder. Thank you!!! I am indeed touched.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

A Thousand Words

Holy Cow!

Ainul - my little friend

Grand Ma obviously enjoying this trip

Thursday, June 08, 2006

22nd floor: The Bong

Devastatingly funny!!
I am still rolling with laughter!!!
Please read the following link....
22nd floor: The Bong

Saturday, May 27, 2006

The meaning of life, the universe and everything

I formally declare my sincerest and most humble respect, admiration and obeisance to all those superlative humanoids (dead or alive, past, present and future included) who have mastered the art of cutting potatoes into perfect cubes of the same size. I have been at it for quite a few years now and this morning as I tried it for the zillionth time, I knew that some are born to cut potatoes, some acquire it and some have potatoes thrown at them.

I have been reading Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy for the past couple of weeks and the absolute nonsense of it has shocked me to the last bone marrow. Are we Earthlings, as the author claims a part of a huge organic computer commissioned by rats, which are actually the most intelligent race in the Universe?

The author also claims that the art of flying consists of two parts: the first easy one, which is to fall, and the second seriously tough one, which is to miss the ground. Since I have already proven my expertise in the first one, methinks a good way to gain lead over fellow fliers would be to start from the second part.

Further, the author claims that forty-two is the answer to the meaning of the life, the universe and everything. This was the result obtained after a million years of processing done by the greatest computer in the Galaxy (it wasn’t an Earth computer ofcourse) and the answer was so baffling, that nobody knew what the question was. Since death is the reverse of life and the answer lies hidden in the question, I have decided to work on my little question. Describe in 42 different ways, means to assassinate Anwesha Chatterjee.

Now, for reasons unknown to me, this has been bothering me for quite sometime. I surely know that I am not yet famous enough (never stop hoping) to merit an assassination and that murder would fit the bill more, but what if somebody really wanted to kill me.

#1. Easy target: Every morning at a known time, I set out of home. Though the driver drops me to a vantage point, I still have to walk a small distance along the walls of a factory. Somebody/anybody could hide himself in the factory terrace at that time (for a whole 5 minutes I am to be found walking alone) and take a long careful aim. Bang! Crash! Boom and I am gone. Should our predator miss his target, he (I am extremely friendly with women and since the female of the species is deadlier than the male, I make it a point to maintain good relations with them. So the killer’s gotta be male) he could hire an assassin and repeat the exercise in the evening.

#2. When I sit in the bus at a fixed time every morning, my unknown enemy could take another bus (state buses are difficult to highjack I think, but the same cannot be said about private buses) and in classic Abhishekh Bachchan - Yuva style (Yes, stilleto, I agree he is HOT) shoot me. The problem there would be that a lot of witnesses could be found, and since I am sure no son of a minister is going to shoot me, so chances of witnesses turning hostile are highly improbable.

#3. A still more interesting way to kill me would be to wait till I went to the open-air smoking lounge in office. Now, I do not smoke and but our colleagues who do, are gracious enough to allow non-smokers get a breathe of fresh air in the lounge overlooking a lake. The lake has small islands with straw parasols and coconut trees. Our hired assassin could wait and watch in one of those islands, till I come out for a break from work and give me a permanent break.

Thirty-nine far more innovative ways to get myself assassinated were lost along with a little red diary somewhere in the galaxy during leak in a time wrap. I have decided to figure that it is an SEP (Somebody Else’s Problem)

Friday, May 12, 2006

The Nobel Bong and my Internet connection

Pathetic is a rather polite way to describe my Internet connection at home. An ugly-embarrassing-deranged-moody-blot on a landscape full of broadband and baseband and DSL ISPs maybe halfway close to the truth. For the past six months, I have been make doing with a dialup connection that threatens to sleep off after 30 seconds of brilliant byte transfer. I have been reduced to a state I used to be in school 10 minutes before an exam was about to start. "Oh God, may whatever I study in the last ten minutes come in the paper". Crossing my fingers, I watch with bated breadth as my mailbox opens halfway through and then suddenly goes silent. Instant Messaging is about getting disconnected after every two minutes and I have now become butt of jokes among my friends. "AC-DC" they call me.

So, I have been toying with the idea of a broadband connection. Now the problem with that is that the parents are so disillusioned with technology that they do not understand how a thicker cable can be a panacea to my miseries. When I convinced them a year ago that a new computer would help the Internet connection get better, they had listened. Now, I'm afraid, its no use crying 'Wolf! Wolf!" Blogging is now getting increasingly difficult, but I refuse to submit meekly.

Among other things, 9th of May was Robindro Jayanti - birthday of Rabindranath Tagore - inarguably the greatest poet of Bengal and the first Nobel Laureate of Asia. Since we are predisposed to ignore a person until he attains international recognition, Robindronath has made it big while there are quite a few extremely talented and accomplished writers who have languished in the background. For one, I do think Munshi Premchand is one of those authors who should have been awarded a Nobel. Limiting myself to Bengali authors only, Tarashakar Bandopadhaya, Bibhutibhushan Bandopadhaya, Sarat Chandra Chattopadhaya (my clan! ha ha) Bankim Chandra Chatterjee (more of my clan hee hee hee) are authors whose birthdays we never celebrate. On 9th May, our canteen hosted a photograph of Tagore, garlanded with due respect and played some morbid and depressing Tagore music. In the afternoon, we sang songs of Tagore (yes, yes, I was one among those who sang and busted the microphones!) and some people danced to his songs (no no, I was not among those thankfully - can't damage a newly constructed auditorium).

I was left wondering. They usually award the Nobel to authors who have written (to put it the way I perceive it) about poverty, misery, death and the triumph of man's will against all odds. The authors I mentioned above have done that rather successfully, and unlike other less successful writers, have made interesting reading at the same time. Sarat Chandra Chatterjee in particular has gone the further distance by empowering women in his novels. In most of his stories, women play the chief role and pull a family out of tragic circumstances even while sacrificing their own happiness. This he wrote during early 20th century when women's liberation was unheard of and the general plight of women was miserable. So, why were these people deprived of the Nobel Prize?

I suppose it’s too late to think about it, because unlike the Param Veer Chakra they never award the Nobel posthumously. But it is also an indicator why great writers like Vikram Seth, Amitava Ghosh, Upamanyu Chatterjee, Arundhati Roy, Jhumpa Lahiri have elected to write in English and not in their mother tongue. Somewhere down the line, we seem to have got something horribly wrong. When and how did it happen?

Monday, May 01, 2006

Paradise Lost

Annual appraisal over.

Over the past one week, I have learnt that:

I do not seek solutions proactively
When I get stuck with a problem I ask for help!

I am irresponsible, because I do not claim ownership of mission critical tasks.
I usually prefer to go home rather than spend all night doing something that I know needs a fresh mind and eight hours of sound sleep

I have been branded as lazy because I do not seem to take interest in innovation and problem solving activities with the adequate amount of enthusiasm.
When there’s nothing to do, I blog and google

My communication skills will do for the moment (read: I talk too much) but I must hone them so that in the future I can handle external and internal communication more effectively (read: I must learn to talk a lot, but say little)

Additionally, I do not baseline any strategies while approaching a resolution of a defect, so I am not much of a planner.
Okay okay, I admit. As a result of inadequate planning, I did not prepare a progress report of my activities. I just went ahead and finished it; well before the deadline

I am okay at the documentation part of business
Looks like somebody from the enemy team read my blog and was thankful that I do not put that stuff in my reports

My idle time is not utilized appropriately
If I did something why would it be called idle time???

And I must make it a practice to share and transfer knowledge with seniors, juniors and peers.
What??? Make them realize that I know nothing????????

Monday, April 24, 2006

The day I chickened out

Exactly a year ago on this day, I cooked chicken for the first time! Ma had been away from home for a month, Dad was in office, the maid had been disposed off, it was a weekend and my hands were itching to hold Ma's new non stick copper bottomed wok in her absence. The setting was perfect. I had never cooked chicken, but S my star cook friend who knows something about everything assured me that she was going to remain on call for as long as it took me to get the thing done.

I wasn't taking any chances. Since, it was my first time; I decided not to experiment much. Armed with S's recipe and my mother's cook book and another chicken preparation they taught on the Sunday afternoon cookery show, I thought I was on my way to churning out a heady concoction. True to her word, S guided me through the entire process over the phone. She was out shopping that day and I wonder how she managed to tell exactly how much onion I was to use amidst deciding on the right colour for her curtain rods.

The result was something that definitely looked like some kind of meat, smelt of over fried oil (we forgot the garam masala part) and tasted like something distinctly non vegetarian. The similarities ended there. We digested my expectations and the food with loads of cold water. Exactly a year ago, I thought that it was mighty decent of Dad to eat all that with a smile and without protest. Exactly a year ago it was his birthday.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

But I can’t help falling…..

Like all kids, I knew that life was about ups and downs and knee jerking situations. I learnt to walk by stumbling, I fell down the first time I rode a cycle, I crashed into hard surface, not even reaching sand on my first attempt at long jump and when I tried diving into the pool, somebody pushed me from behind. Some of us realize how unpleasant it is to keep falling all the time and grow out of it. Not me. I fell in love with the idea of falling down.

My affair with falling down at all the wrong places started at the age of fourteen. We were coming back from a school trip to Gangtok and I was doing to best to pull my extremely heavy stuffed-with-smuggled-goods suitcase down the stairs of Siliguri station with as much pomp and grandeur as my misguided teenaged air-headed self would allow. I looked straight into the air instead of looking below me, and with a calm and self-assured expression pulled the case behind me when all of a sudden I missed a step and instead of gliding gracefully down the steps, I was rolling down, my suitcase following me at an equally gritty pace. We ended at the landing; my skirt had flown up to my face (yes yes…aah cruelty! We had to wear our uniform during the journey), my knees were bruised and my vanity had been crushed. I vaguely remember my teachers looking at me alarmingly and asking me whether I was all right, but I distinctly remember a couple of really cute guys in the station laughing at me. (May their tribe increase but may their children be cursed with polio!)

The next time this happened was after my tenth standard board exams. Out of sheer lack of activity, we decided to host a fashion show in our compound and out of sheer excess of enthusiasm, I decided to walk the ramp. I know what you are thinking, but no I did not slip and fall down on the day of the show. It happened much earlier. We used to have our rehearsals in the terrace and one day I was late for practice and I was rushing up the stairs, when I stumbled and slipped. I never recovered to walk the ramp on that occasion.

If you thought that stairs were my only nemesis, then we both think alike and we are both mistaken. A few years ago, I jumped off a running bus and fell. A few months ago, I slipped and fell on the railway track when the approaching train was just a hundred meters away. In both times, I hurt myself badly enough to stay at home for a month under complete bed rest.

So why am I writing this? Because, I hate being at home on weekends. Every Sunday now, and its become a habit, I have to slide on the floor of the living room, just after our careless maid has mopped it (it’s a different matter altogether that her idea of mopping a floor is to gently wet it with a generous coat of water) and slip and fall. It’s Sunday today and ouch! My knee hurts like hell.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Lets make things bitter

She ( the little one ofcourse) is now old enough to eat rice. So, the rest of us celebrated her 'annopraashon' yesterday. I love treats and this one was a real treat what with this little red riding hood occupying the centre stage!

Now unlike a lot of people, I like neem, and bitter gourd (karela) and I love eating all kinds of preparations of 'teto' - item numero uno of the Bong lunch. Tradional Bong lunch always starts with a preparation of vegetables with a bitter taste like karela, neem etc. This translates into the delectable 'shukto' - made of bitter gourd, brinjal, raw bananas, potato etc or 'neem beguni'- fried neem and brinjals. The reason why I am so fond of 'teto' is that my grandad always keeps saying that it purifies the blood system and keeps disease away and I follow grandad like religion. But my grandad also introduced me to the taste of something that is the polar opposite of the 'teto'. In Delhi winters, we attended wedding parties where we savoured the finest gulab jamuns known to mankind. Now my theory is that if you add vanilla ice-cream to piping hot gulab jamuns, it is the same as feeding on honey dew and drinking the milk of paradise. So, yesterday, when they repeated the fare in the hot month of April, i pretended that the AC was making enough cold air to make me feel like winter and gorged on these.

Bon Apetit!

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Benevolence personified.

Yesterday was a rather chocolaty day for me. I ran into a senior from school after a very long time and she pulled out a gigantic bar of chocolate from her bag just for me!!! From now onwards, Arpita is going to top my list of seniors-i-want-to-meet-when-i-am-hungry. But thinking again, she isn't the only one. If Snigdha had not gone off to the US, no one could have dethroned her from the coveted title.

On a rainy afternoon, when we had got drenched, her first thought was to rush to the fast food outlet shop for a treat of hot chicken rolls and coffee. My apparent discomfiture in wet clothes vanished after the first bite into the roll. Another day, we had got up on an empty bus. Like all private buses, this one was waiting to fill enough human beings in it, till it would burst its seams. She treated me to hot chips. And ice-cream on yet another hot summer boring afternoon when we did not feel like doing anything. Which kindof makes me realize that seniors are actually nice people provided you don't meet them the first time. They will advise you without nagging you, and when they scold you, you find yourself grinning. When you are out with a senior, they will not let you pay for the bus tickets and they will most certainly make you sit, if there is only one seat left in the bus.

In my first post on this blog I had mentioned that I was the only person in my class who had never been ragged. At that time, I thought I was lucky to get away, but now I do have a twang of regret. God knows how many more benevolent seniors I would have met and how many generous souls I would have discovered had I not executed the perfect escape plan during the ragging session. Some day I shall blog about the escape.......

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

I have had my share of bad hair days, but today is my very-bad-hair-day.

Adjacent strands of my hair have developed opposite polarity and are repelling each other with a magnetic force hitherto unknown to mankind.

My comb is having an affair with static electricity, so using it is making things worse.

Worse still I am going to get home at 10pm, so any last hopes of getting that shampoo and shower have been squashed.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Je ne sais pas le français

I realised yesterday for yet another time that I cannot cheat in exams. It is shameful and has dealt a great blow to my self esteem. I always knew that I was a tough cookie and would never chicken out in demanding situations, but yesterday was a repetition of the one fear that has been gnawing at my soul since my tenth standard boards.

We had been attending these classes in French for the past six weeks. It started off as fun at first. M and I were showing off our newly acquired knowledge of a foreign language to the children of lesser Gods in our project. Homework was no sweat, coz I discovered my best friends in Stilettoes and Google language tools . Classes were great because, most people yawned through them and we were always giggling over the pronunciations.

I learnt to spell my name A-N-W-E-S-H-A the same way, but pronounce it - A (as in 'a' bird)-En- Dubl Vey- A (As the first letter in the English alphabet) - Ess - Aash - A (as in 'a' bird)

Confusing huh? You bet it was. I hate getting confused, but I persevered. And this was before they started teaching us Verbs (affinitive?) That's when we got totally muddled up regarding the first persons and third persons, and present tenses and future tenses and what not. I still lingered. When they drowned us in questions and negations I threw the towel and refused to look into the books anymore.

Yesterday, we had our exams. I extracted a promise from M that she would let me look in to her answer sheet. Now M is one of the most sincere students I have come across. She takes to books with a missionary zeal. Nothing can deter her from scoring the perfect 10 in whatever she chooses to do. I know she did not find French a cakewalk, but she persisted long after I gave up.

We took our seats. The French looked like Hebrew to me. I tried to make English out of it, it got worse. Out of desperation I looked at M and found her looking at me. M was carrying all her notes, and I had forgotten to get them, Despite the obvious advantage, she chose to peep into my answer sheet and I had not the courage to ask her a single answer. This went on for twenty minutes, when I realised that I could no longer take the strain. I managed to scribble something and left the paper, M and the French classes behind me.

M came out ten minutes later. She had copied all my answers and then tallied them with the notes and corrected whatever was wrong. Effectively, even before submitting her paper, not only did she know how much she was going to score, she knew for a fact how much I was going to score!!!!!

This French thing is behind me now. I treat it as a bad dream on a hot, power-cutted, mosquito-infested, night on a wooden bed full of nails and a mouse bitten mattress. Suffice to say that I dreamt last night that M had topped the exam and that she was handing our answer sheets and she knew everybody's score even without looking into the paper.

Sigh! La vie est comme celle!

Edit #1 : I passed the French exams (for those who won't care to read the comments or comment the comments) Since I have already given a thank you speech in advance, I do not think there is any need to kill fellow bloggers with another one. But grave injustice would be commited if Maxime is not thanked for making sure that I was always on my toes while asking him any doubts. Thanks Maxime for all the help! We'll miss you, if we go for the advanced course!

Friday, March 17, 2006

Confessions of a dangerous mind - III

Alone in the cell, I sat back and sighed! Six years ago I began an extraordinary journey in the world of stolen antiques and today whatever I was, was because of Pierre. Vincent our butler called him “Master” and loved him like a Master. I called him Pierre but loved him like the father I never met. His associates feared him, but loved him. Pierre- the Master was respected for his meticulous planning and perfect implementation. His reflexes never slackened and his mind never gathered rust.

My thoughts wandered off again. Twice I had been caught, but Pierre came to my rescue each time. This was the longest I had ever spent in prison. This time things looked different. This time perhaps, I would have to plan my own escape, without Pierre, without anybody. I started thinking again and after five hours I still had not come up with any idea. The prison was an impregnable fortress. Searchlights scanned the length of the territory and black hounds roaming the premises were let loose at the slightest sound of alarm. The barbed wires were electrically charged and nobody ever left this place without being searched. No human habitat could be found within two miles of the place. Amidst all this, I was shunted in an underground dungeon, with a small window that was snow-laden, where sunlight seldom found a chance to enter. I looked at the snow again and again and suddenly it stuck me!

I looked at the criss-crossed bars in the window and sure enough there were small pores at regular intervals along the grid. In cold climates, pipes often burst when water froze into ice. The pores were there to prevent water from accumulating in the pipes. I looked at the pores and found my escape route. For the next three days, I tore threads from my sleeping bag and tightly wound the grid, leaving only a pore at the top. For three days, I did not drink water given to me during lunch. Instead I poured the water into the grid, crossed my fingers and waited. On the third day my job was done. Outside, night was approaching and temperatures were falling. Then close to midnight, the water froze in the bars, turned into ice and expanded in volume. The ice pushed against the bars and suddenly with a huge explosion, the bars burst and the window cracked open.

I had no time to waste. Even though, I was in an underground cell, I was sure the noise would have been heard somewhere. I pushed myself against the window, which was quite weak by now and gave way. Pulling myself up, I stumbled into a tunnel that went to the left and right. Both sides were dark and I did not know where to go. I picked up a pebble nearby and threw it to the left. It did not go very far. Then I threw another pebble to the right. This time it carried to a distance. So the wind was blowing from the left side of the tunnel. I followed the left side and sure enough, found myself looking at streaming water, gushing all over. I dived into the water and upon rising found myself in the middle of a wide water-body. I realized that I had accidentally discovered the sewer line and it emptied into a river. Looking around me, I realized that I would have to make my escape in sub-zero temperatures. They had heard the explosion and the hounds were being let loose, I was shivering and my footprints would leave a permanent mark in the snow. I decided to take the warmer water route.

I do not know for how long I swam, but that night all of Siberia would be searched for me and I did not want to take any chances. Pulling myself to the bank, I saw an old fortress with lights. I made a cautious approach lest that it should turn out to be another government head quarter. There were no guards and so I knocked at the door. It was answered by a nun.

The sisters of the order of St.Dmitri are forbidden from any contact with men. They are not permitted to talk to anyone from the outside world and at the end of the day; they whip themselves with lashes in penitence. They lead a Spartan existence. Though stoic they may be heartless they are not. When a young, virile male of twenty-four years collapsed at their entrance door that cold winter evening, they were at a loss. After much consultation, they carried him to a room, gave him a bed and let him lay there. Meanwhile, the police looked everywhere for the escaped prisoner, but when they came to the convent, they passed it.

I stepped out next morning from the convent and called up Vincent. Vincent informed me that Pierre had been missing for the past three weeks, looking for a way to free me. I told Vincent an address where I could be found in Moscow, and asked him to inform Pierre. Unknown to me, our phone at home was being tapped by the police. So, when I hitched a wagon and reached Moscow, the police was waiting for me. I went into the house and found Pierre in deep conversation with his contacts. They were still looking for a way to get me out of prison. I still remember the look of astonishment mixed with joy on his face, as he saw me free.

Suddenly Interpol barged into the room and asked us to surrender. Pierre pulled his gun and gunshots were heard all over the place. I lost no time, to escape from the place. From there I hitched my way back home to Rio, informing nobody and taking no risks. Once in Rio, the only thing left for me to do was to wait for Pierre. There was no fear from the police in our homeland, because Pierre always made sure that we did not undertake any assignments in Brazil.

A month later, I received the news of Pierre’s death. It took three men to shoot him six times in the chest. We never recovered his body, so we held a memorial service for him. It was a gloomy Wednesday morning and I was coming back home from the service, wondering what the future held in store for me. The door bell rang and Vincent answered it. “A visitor for you Master”, he said. “Coming”, said I.


Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Confessions of a dangerous mind - II

Kedah, northwestern Malaysia currently has a Muslim majority population. But until the 9th Kedah Maharaja Derbar Raja converted to Islam and changed his name to Sultan Muzaffar Shah in the 10th century, the Bujang Valley in Kedah was a prominent Hindu-Buddhist kingdom. The Maharaja aiming to protect his nation from the onslaught of Portuguese and British attacks, converted to Islam so as to forge a friendship with the Sultan of Malay.

As an act of penitence before his conversion, the Maharaja had constructed a secret underground Buddhist temple south west of Pengkalan Bayang Merbok. The temple had a completely plebian façade and was uncovered during the earth-quake in the 14th century. Only a four foot plaster of Paris Buddha in an old dilapidated sanctum was found. It was in the 17th century that archeologists discovered that the plaster of Paris covered a solid gold four foot monolith of Buddha completely adorned with diamonds, rubies and sapphire. The Buddha was then moved to the Bujang Valley Archaeological Museum where it is housed till today in the state-of-the-art security.

It was this Buddha that our client, a private collector, wanted and he was willing to pay any price to get it; by hook or by crook.

I spent days planning my course of action. Pierre wanted this assignment to be treated as my coming of age. He would not help me, though at times, I thought that he was cross-checking my arrangements without my knowledge. For days, I would visit the museum, disguised as a tourist and study the Buddha from about ten feet away. That was the nearest we were allowed to go near it and visitors were not allowed to linger around any exhibit for long. I finally planned my day. We would execute our mission on the 17th September in broad daylight in the presence of everybody around.

At 11A.M on the 17th September, an old hunchback tottered his way to the museum. He had difficulty walking and stumbled often. The guard at the entrance of the museum advised him not to visit, but the old man would not hear of it. He mumbled something about coming from very far to visit the museum. About ten minutes later, a six-foot tall American tourist also visited the same museum. He looked like a student who had worked his way all summer for this all-important trip to Malaysia. The old man was stumbling and coughing and the benevolent student offered to assist him to walk. The old man refused, but when he staggered for the third time, the student would not listen anymore. Together, they began to explore the artifacts, with the old man recounting stories about his younger days.

At 11:15 A.M the old man and the young American were standing in front of the statue of Buddha. Suddenly, there was a sound of a blast and smoke filled the room. Someone shouted “Fire” and guards started evacuating. The electric connection in the museum had faltered and the backup would take two minutes to restore. The student was trying to help the old man out, who was having trouble breathing in all that smoke. The guards removed everyone from the room and sent them to another part of the museum and came back for the old man. By then, he was coughing so much that the student requested them to let the old man out for some fresh air. The pair was let out and was never seen again.

It was discovered after two days while cleaning the museum that the statue of Buddha was sparkling unusually. On further investigation, it was found that the statue of Buddha was in plaster of Paris, cleverly covered by golden wrapping sheet. The original Buddha cost 6 million dollars. This fake probably cost 6 dollars.

Two days before this discovery a hunchbacked old man and a young American tourist were seen leaving the museum through an emergency exit. Nobody checked their belongings. As they left the premises, a black sedan drew up and they both got in. Inside, Pierre took off his cloak, stopped being a hunchback and revealed a four foot statue of Buddha between his knees. He looked at the American tourist and grinned, “Happy birthday Mike. You are a man now.”

To be continued.....

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Confessions of a dangerous mind - I

At age twenty-four years eleven months, I was languishing in an 8X11 foot cell in solitary confinement in an obscure prison in Central Siberia. The outside temperature was minus forty-five degrees and from my underground dungeon sunlight trickled in only for a few minutes a day. I had been here for two weeks perhaps. Snow covered the ground, for two feet and even from the windowless rabbit hole where I was kept, the chill and the dampness pricked my bones. I surveyed my room for the millionth time, trying to find a way to escape. It was a bare room with no furnishing; the only objects were a fur quilt, a sleeping bag and a pot at the end of the room. Nothing much that I could use. Twice I had escaped this place and this time round, they were not going to take any chances. The government wanted me for questioning and they wanted me alive. After all, I was just a minnow in the large smuggling syndicate that had managed to steal Van Gough paintings from the Pushkin Art Gallery in Moscow in the past. Two weeks ago, I had failed to get away with a Monet, and Interpol saw this as their big chance.

Leaning against the wall, I started to think. Memories flooded me. Those years of poverty, living as an orphan in a ghetto in Rio de Janeiro. How, at the age of fifteen, Pierre caught me trying to steal his wallet and instead of handing me to the police took me home, and how it changed my life forever. Pierre it is perhaps then; my story begins with Pierre’s wallet. Michael is my name and Pierre fondly called me Mike. Hunger had turned me into a pickpocket and I was the slickest hand in our ghetto. At the end of the day, when we counted our Reals, I always had the most. I had an undisputed talent for stealing anything, without anyone ever noticing. I quite liked this arrangement and thought life could not be any better than living on people’s money. Then one day, I tried to pick Pierre’s wallet. He had turned his head to his left and was looking his wristwatch, and I had almost succeeded in drawing the black faux leather Gucci wallet from the right side of his trousers. Then I crossed the road and was about to rush to hoard my earnings, when a hand gripped my shoulders. “Nice work kid! You have good technique!!!” said Pierre smiling. I was astounded. It was the first time, I was caught and I started wondering where I went wrong. “Where is your Daddy?” “I don’t have one,” I said. ‘And where is your Mommy?” “I don’t have a Mommy either”. “Then I am your Daddy from today,” said Pierre and that was the turning point of my life.

Back home, Pierre gave me food, clothes, a bed to sleep and a house to call my own. He lived all by himself in an opulent mansion in downtown Rio and when I peeped out of the window, I could see a Lamborghini, a Ferrari and a Ford Mustang in his large stable of cars. Of course, I learnt the names much later. Along with that, I also learnt how to dress well, speak language of the gentry, and most importantly, Pierre gave me my first important lessons on theft and deception. For Pierre was the leader of the largest smuggling syndicate of Rio and he had just adopted me as his protégée.

Three years later, at the age of eighteen, I had learnt five languages, could drive any car, could fire a .44 Magnum, .45 Long Colt, .38 Special and a Colt Single Action Army from point blank range and was a dashing, handsome six-foot tall boy quickly learning that he was irresistible to women. A charm, that would come much handy later. At eighteen Pierre decided that I was ready for my first kill. An antique statue of Buddha, in a museum in Malaysia, which our client wanted for his private collection. Sadly, the Buddha was not for sale, so I had to step in.

To be continued.....

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Top 10 reasons why there's gotta be something different about today.

  1. Woke up late as usual after banging the alarm atleast five times. Thought I'd miss the train, but voila!!!! today trains were as late as I was, which meant that we both arrived at the platform at the same time.
  2. Got a seat in the train without having to conduct the ritual morning quarrel with anyone. I even thought that the gruff old lady who usually snorts at me every morning, smiled for a change.
  3. No one pushed me or edged me as I walked amongst the crowds at the station. Seems everyone (read men) wanted to take a break from their diurnal activities.
  4. Radio Mirchi went blared all good things about women and surprisingly the men in our bus seemed to take an amused view of it. We women laughed our heads off.
  5. As I walked into office, I was greeted with a smile, a rose and a perfume. Now, why can't they do this on the days when I don't have time to take a bath!
  6. My colleagues who normally dread my appearance seemed to be pleased to see me today. I later found out that there was a code delivery and on account of it being 8th March, they thought I would not be coming!
  7. Something's been done about the full size mirror in the restroom. I thought I looked thinner.
  8. Got some super camouflage software installed on my PC. Checked mail, chatted, surfed the net, called up friends all morning, everyone thought I was working seriously
  9. Got some swell program in the afternoon, and you get chocolates just for attending it. Aaah beautiful life!
  10. Something was mixed in the food they served in the canteen today. Everyone has forgotten about the code delivery!!!! Wow

Something's in the air today. Aaaaaaaah!

Friday, March 03, 2006

Bill, Bush and the Bird Flu

I was on my way to office this morning, when I saw a poster that read “Enemy of Mankind – Bush go back!” I realized with a twinge of regret that the Mr. George Bush was visiting us, and we could not care any less about nuclear deals. Delhi has been gearing up for this day I suppose, but certainly, the excitement generated when Bill Clinton visited India a few years back, is clearly missing here. When Bill Clinton was here every detail of his stay was chronicled. His room in Maurya Sheraton was photographed to the last nail, the bottle of Evian spring water that he left unfinished was auctioned among the hotel staff, the overcoat with C inscribed on it, was on the fashion billboards for a good two weeks. Bukhara- the restaurant where the President had dinner overnight became the place to be seen it. The chef of Bukhara was photographed and featured on the cover of high brow political magazines and the menu was on the first page of every newspaper worth its salt. We were in college then (luckily I went to college in Delhi around the same time that Clinton decided to visit India) and even though our college was about five kilometers away from Rajghat, we lied to everybody, that we met Clinton. The following day, Times of India featured a half page picture of Bill dancing with folk dancers and Madhuri Dikshit was jealous.

In contrast Dubya is boring. Sometimes he does come up with “I Know the Human Being and Fish Can Coexist Peacefully” and “We're Going to Have the Best Educated American People in the World” but most of the time, he limits himself to saving Ground Zero from being bombed, killing civilians instead of militants in Iraq and searching for Osama Bin Laden in the caves of Afghanistan. Yes, Dubya is boring, but we can do better. So Delhi has prohibited the preparation of chicken in any restaurant in the Capital as a harassed chicken-loving colleague informed me, because Dubya is susceptible to avian influenza. The board exams are on, but Dubya must visit Raj Ghat at 9 in the morning and show the world what a traffic stopper he is. Delhites returning home from office must bear with Dubya again in the evening, when he visits Purana Quila at 6PM.

We were content with Bill in Maurya Sheraton. We felicitated him in Hyderabad House in Delhi. But Bush will go the distance. “It's No Exaggeration To Say That The Undecideds Could Go One Way Or Another.” We sent him to Andhra Pradesh for a trip to remember. Chandra Babu Naidu is not happy. Naidu hobnobbed with Bill Clinton as the Chief Minister, the last time around. But Bush is no Clinton and alas! Chadra Babu Naidu is Chief Minister no more.

TRP ratings taken a minute back show that people are more interested to know how Irfan Pathan lost his wicket than, whether the signing of the nuclear deal and opening our nuclear reactors will put Chhattisgarh in the seismic zone. As for Bush, Delhi will soon dig into Tandoori chicken, poultry will learn why human beings wear mufflers in winter and a waiter at Bukhara will arrested for stealing the silver fork that Bush used for dinner. Pakistan will crib because, they bombed an embassy, but Bush did not consider it promising enough to sign a deal and Laura Bush will go back and knit gloves for the little orphans she met yesterday.

Before you leave Mr. Bush, to use one of your quotes, “Let Me Put It to You Bluntly. In A Changing World, We Want More People To Have Control Over Your Own Life."

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

The day I discovered the third way of watching movies -Rang De Basanti

I always believed there were two kinds of ways of watching movies. One was going to the cinema, stacked with Pepsi and popcorn and watching wide eyed for one hundred and fifty minutes. The other was to wait for the local cablewallah to poach the latest movie and show it on a sleepy Sunday afternoon, curse the print quality, sound quality and the drowsiness that would overcome me. Last week I discovered the third. Met up with D after four years, dragged her to my place, got a DVD and watched the movie, rewinded it, paused it, lunched over it and loved it. What follows next is saved for my granddaughter and my great grandaughter and all the generations that shall transcend me

Rang De Basanti thankfully, is not yet another incarnation of Dil Chahta Hain unlike the many pretenders that sprang up on the Indian movie scene after DCH. This is original cinema and even though the movie seems to have a façade of a lets-have-fun-while-we-are-young creation, it does throw a lot of serious questions and not one of them is funny. This is Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra’s second movie after ‘Aks’ and the director-with-a-difference has indeed as the title promises managed to awaken a generation.

Sue (Alice Patten) chances upon her grandfather’s diary who was the jailor of the prison where Bhagat Singh was held before being hanged. Despite being British, he is all in awe of the 20-something year old revolutionaries, who are not afraid to die for the nation. Sue is inspired by the bravery of Bhagat Singh and Chadrashekhar Azad and plans to make a movie on their life. Sponsorships are hard to come by, but it fails to deter her from coming to India and shooting the movie with the help of Sonia (Soha Ali Khan)

The rehearsals are futile because although they have scoured Delhi University (some shame considering that the great Amitabh Bachchan was in Kirori Mal college of DU) they have not found a single student who could do justice to the role. Dejected, Sue goes along with Sonia to meet her friends and take a break.

Here is where she comes across the face of the 21st century youth of India. Diljeet a.k.a. DJ (Aamir Khan), Aslam (Kunal Kapoor), Karan (Siddharth) and Sukhi (Sharman Joshi) live life on the edge. They do not worry about tomorrow and an evening spent getting drunk is an evening well spent. Sue looks at this vagabond group and sees in them the characters of her movie.

None of the boys are serious about acting and they do not make an effort. Sue somehow manages to motivate them to act and they do a fine job out of it, but they are still not motivated enough to feel for the nations as Bhagat Singh and his companions did. All this till Flt. Lt. Ajay Rathod (Madhavan) Sonia’s fiancée dies in a crash while flying an outdated MIG aircraft.

The carefree friends who did not have a worry in the world now transform into a group of committed individuals who will exact revenge for the death of their friend. The parallels drawn between the imperialist British government and the present day Indian government are spine-chilling. Like Bhagat Singh, DJ and friends kill the Defense Minister and surrender so that the nation would be aware of the state of two hundred odd pilots of the IAF who died while flying malfunctioning MIG aircrafts. Like Bhagat Singh, Chandrasekhar Azad and Rajguru, they lay down their lives for the nation.

RDB is a grim reminder to our generation that although we were born in a free India, we cannot afford to forget a whole generation of youngsters who gave up their lives for the freedom that we have learnt to take for granted. It is an irony that it took a British woman to awaken the consciousness of four Indian men. It is a greater irony that the enemy is no longer a colonial super-power but a part of our democratic system.

As an actor Aamir Khan is unparalleled, but it is time to handle the mantle to a worthy and younger successor. At 40, Aamir can no longer pretend to be in college. Perhaps Shahid Kapur could have done justice to the role, but Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra refrained from taking the chance and hired the best in the business. Soha Ali Khan is the surprise of the movie. She acts with restraint and this would rank as her best performance so far. Sharman Joshi is good but his role is rather limited to the irresponsible and careless hunk that he has played in nearly all his movies. Siddhartha is a new face and given the fact, that the director reposed so much faith and screen time to him (he plays Bhagat Singh), he has done a great job. As the conscience of orthodox conservative patriotism, Atul Kulkarni who plays Laxman Pandey the rising student political leader is a fine actor to watch out for. My personal favourite in the movie would be Kunal Kapoor who plays Aslam. Despite limited screen presence, he steals the show with his portrayal of a Muslim boy with Hindu friends, who goes to the bar but drinks water, who would give up his life for his friends, but would do so in sotto voce.

A.R. Rehman redeems himself with some soul tapping tunes (‘Roo Ba Roo’). The title song - a catchy Bhangra number marks the return of Dalaer Mehndi to playback singing.

Overall, a wonderful effort and with all the controversy of the IAF having problems with the movie and the Defense Ministry objecting to the release and being a rare Aamir Khan starrer RDB is a movie that we are going to remember for a long time to come.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Our pet

When we saw her for the first time, she had not eaten for three days. I noticed her lying asleep in the morning, my mother noticed her in the same position at noon and late at night, when he was coming back home, my Father noticed that she had not stirred. Too weak to move a muscle, too feeble to walk, we bonded instantly. That night, when I fed her a few 'rotis', I thought I saw tears in her eyes. We have never had a dog of our own, and stray as she was, we were not too sure if she could live with us, but we knew, when we counted the members of our family, we would count her as one of us.

It soon became evident that she survived solely on the food that we use to give her. That's when we made it habit to give her a meal everyday. There were days when we cooked something special at home, and she got her due share. I still remember making spaghetti at home and forgoing my share, so that she could have some.

We saw her walking, and then running to greet us whenever we left home. We laughed to see her stick out her tongue and wag her tail whenever she caught sight of us. We spent many a pleasant evening discussing her antics.

We still do that now-a-days. In anxiety. For she has disappeared for the past one week, and we have no clue of her whereabouts. When I used to hear of famous pop stars giving away their prized guitars to the person who brought back their pet dog, I used to laugh. Today, I feel the same way...I could give away my computer to anyone who'll bring her back. For even though, we can lay no claim to ownership on her, she can tell the world, that if ever she had a family, it is us!

Monday, February 06, 2006

Mere Paas Paer Nahi Hain

Mere paas gaadi hain, bunglow hain, naukar hain, aish-o-araam hain par mere paas paer nahi hain.

My feet I have come to realize do not belong to me. They belong to little kids who kick you and then push with unbelievable Complan energy in the line for tickets to 'Rang De Basanti'.

They belong to older women who are trying to get off the train when suddenly everything between them and door becomes invisible.

They belong to our great potholed roads to fall into and get bruised, and then to dettol, gauge and lint.

Sometimes they have belonged to crepe bandages and plaster-of-paris casts.

Often they belong to the blisters that new shoes lovingly gift them.

They belong to Krack SR cream because gruff ankles are out of fashion.

They belong to ugly green creams and the salts that the latest pedicure mantras eschew.

My feet alas! are not mine

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Night Shift

I have just returned from one of the most exhilarating experiences of my life. Since 8 pm last night, I have been an audience to an all night concert on Indian Classical music and dance. As the last strain of Pandit Jasraj's rendition of Bhairavi fades away, my eyes are misty with sleep, but somewhere inside I am excited enough to run a marathon.

The event was organised by the Uttarpara Sangeet Chakra and we were lucky enough to get guest passes, which guaranteed us cushioned seats in the front row. Those at the back in ordinary chairs weren't disappointed. After all, we had braved the chill to come here for music alone and no obstacles were going to stand in the way.

The evening started with Raag Bageshri presented by Pandit Jagdish Prasad, who hails from Madhya Pradesh. Most appropriate choice; after all Baageshri is the raag to sing at night. Pandit Ji enchanted us with his mellifluous voice and lengthy taans that were executed with apparent effortlessness.

Following him at midnight was Pandit Chitresh Das who is a renowned Kathak exponent. He lives, teaches and performs mainly in North America now. For the layman, this was a great learning experience, as Pandit Ji recited bols (drawing similarities to mathematics with Kathak) and danced along. We were privileged to watch his enactment of Dushyant and Shakuntala's first meeting in the forest. Also on the list was his famous 'Train' performance, where he never fails to thrill the crowds with his simulation of the movement of a train starting from one station, speeding, moving on a bridge and then slowing down at the platform of the next station before screeching to a halt. All this - achieved with a pair of ghungroos and two feet. Needless to say, I was spellbound.

At 2 A.M Ustad Pervez Sheikh performed on the sitar. The silence in the early hours of the morning was invaded by the brilliant tunes that he conjured continuously for two hours. The reticent Ustad, unlike the earlier performers did not utter a word during his entire stay, but his music said it all.

Finally at 4 A.M when Pandit Jasraj made his appearance, we knew that this was going to be a night to remember. Pandit Jasraj performed the Bhairav and the only word I have for it is 'perfect'. Pandit Ji said that music brings us closer to God and in keeping with his dictum; all his kheyals were based on spiritual themes like Radha Krishna, Mahadeva etc. His final rendition was an ode to Maa Kali in Bhairavi and had the audience (including my parents) in tears.

It is difficult to put in words what we felt out there. This is an experience that cannot be shared vicariously. From my personal view, this was the first time that I attended an all night concert and from the way it has been, 'Yeh Dil Maange More'. Every performance was an epitome of perfection in its own way and I do not have a better way to describe it. I shall never forget touching Pandit Jasraj's feet after the show and getting his blessings. I also noticed that in all the performances, the troupe accompanying the maestro was so deeply immersed in the music that they were oblivious to what was happening elsewhere. Their eyes said that they had reached nirvana and we were watching from outside. As Professor Dumbledore put it, music is probably the only magic that needs no charms or enchantment.

Maybe just a bit of love......