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Showing posts from 2011

My Christ

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When I joined a convent school as a snotty kid, I believe many tongues clucked, many fingers wagged, many foreheads creased with deep frowns. This was seen as a detriment to my religious development. It was predicted that I would soon forsake my own religion - my Krishna, my Vishnu, my Ganesha, my Rama; and adopt their Christ. After all, our religions were so different, the tongue-cluckers and finger-waggers murmured. Here we were – our Gods are powerful, handsome, bejewelled and bedecked. Our Gods fought wars and destroyed the evil Rakshasas – be it Kamsa or Ravana. But look at Christ – look at the suffering on His face, and He’s been nailed to a Cross for crying out loud. Why did my parents not put me in Saraswati Vidya Mandir where we were allowed to put bindis and wear bangles and necklaces – the way a Hindu girl should look like? Could my parents not see that I would be instilled with ‘Christian values’? Clearly my parents were upstarts and were ‘acting very smart’. It is anothe…

Too Sexy For Your Food

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I am an average cook. Indeed some might even sneer secretly and comment that I have to improve to reach the ‘average’ rating. Not that my food kills. It is good enough to satiate a rumbling tummy – not good enough to make you lick your fingers. I can, though, boil a mean rasam blind folded. Anyway, I am one of those positive thinking fools who set about improving weak points in a plodding manner. Ergo, I’m addicted to cookery shows. I’m not alone. I’m told by reliable sources that most of Britain is with me.
What is it about these shows that nail me to the sofa? With a slack mouth I gape at the idiot box as harried wannabe chefs dash around the kitchen grating, chopping, peeling, frying, steaming, boiling, baking. And from the mess rises dishes too beautiful to behold - exotic looking, perfectly shaped lumps placed on a colour-coordinated sauce that has been spread on the plate with the perfection of zari work. Not to mention sprigs of herbs balancing here and there on the plate del…

Hair-Raising

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I just bought a new comb. Not the flimsy plastic ones with a couple of teeth. This is a solid one with a thick wooden frame. Strong enough to crack a skull. It has a very specific purpose, and it is not called a ‘comb’. It is called a paddle brush. The ‘teeth’ have ceramide technology stuff in them, I’ll have you know. It’s the gateway to luxurious, glowing, silky smooth hair. Or so I thought.
From a very young age, I’ve been a bit finicky about the mane. Possibly because that is the only thing one can change about oneself in a jiffy. Childhood saw me with waist length hair, often oiled, pulled taut and plaited into two braids. Years of chasing me up and down the ‘vataara’ before pinning me down and braiding the said plaits left Amma traumatised. So she decided to get me a ‘baaf cut’.
On a happy, happy summer afternoon, Amma bundled me and the cooing sister in a bus, and off we went to Jayanagar 4th block shopping complex. The complex housed Bangalore’s best known beauty saloons of…

The Spam Who Loved Me

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Today I had a revelation. You could say it is cosmic in nature.
A cold, grey, foggy, wet (in other words, vintage British) morning. I sat squinting at the coffee foam, contemplating on the absurdity of life (I’ve been doing this for decades – keeps me grounded); when the revelation flashed in my mind. What is the only constant thing in our lives? I questioned as I slurped. Love? Bwahahahaha. Friendship? No, there only twittership and facebookship. That’s when the answer tumbled. Caved in, I must say, and filled the cavity of my brain. SPAM. Yeah – that’s the constant in our life. Faithful, relentless, ever-present, omnipresent.
Every morning, after the squint-at-coffee-foam-and-contemplate routine, I snap into life. Like hundreds of millions of earthlings, I log on. The hand trembles, the breath heaves, the heart flutters as I click on the inbox. I fully expect to see tonnes of emails from potential agents and publishers; all clamouring to sign me on with obscene signing amounts. (…

The Tourist And The Poet

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The last leg of our Scotland trip ended at Inverkip - a beautiful town/village near Glasgow. A 7-hour drive would bring us back home to bland, bald Reading. The weather on the return journey was made to order - sapphire blue skies and pearl clouds topped off with excess sunshine.

We took a break a little ahead of Manchester - at a Services spot somewhere near Kendal. We spotted picnic tables at one end of the parking lot - just perfect! We had packed a sumptuous lunch that befitted the picnic spot. But really, nothing could have prepared me for the view. I won't even bother describing it - take a look at the photos.
We oohed and aahed for a bit. Then growling tummies took over and out came the lunch. Phulkas, sabjis, salads, mishtis, juice, tea, biscuits. We ate happily in the warm sunshine, cleared up and headed back to the car. Of course I could not leave without taking a few photos of the place. I headed back with my camera.
Just as I was selecting my perfect spot, …

Book Review - Stephen King's Under The Dome

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I am limping back into reality. That is the only way I can describe the way I feel, after having read Stephen King’s ‘Under the Dome’ – an 877 page mammoth experience. The book is vintage King, yet, at the risk of sounding clichéd, King has outdone himself once again. I am in awe of the man’s fertile imagination, and his untiring ability to yarn spectacular stories.
The first Stephen King I read was ‘It’. In fact, King was the first ‘horror’ author I had picked up, more out of curiosity. ‘It’ is another lump of a book, and the minute your eyes rest on the first word, you cannot let go. I took two weeks to finish the book, my reading time being limited by office time. But for those two weeks, I was mentally in Derry – Maine. I became a steadfast fan, and many days and nights have been spent in Stephen King’s world – Christine, Carrie, Cujo, Bag of Bones, Insomnia, The Shining ...the list is endless.
I have only one word to describe King’s writing style – three-dimensional. You not on…

Unlikely Guru

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I am sure all of us have a favourite time of the day. When I used to work, my favourite time was when I finally hit the bed. I looked forward to fluffing up the pillows, retrieving my paperback and reading till I could no longer keep my eyes open.
After I ‘retired’, my favourite time is afternoon; post lunch. Nothing beats settling down on the couch with some wonderful book, and reading uninterrupted for hours.
But these past few months, I must say I look forward to two particular time-slots – 8:00 AM - 8:30 AM and 4:00 PM - 4:30 PM.
One cold Jan morning, the sky was a bulging sack of dark clouds, threatening to burst with snowflakes any moment. It was bitterly cold, and I sat huddled under a fleece shawl, like an ancient Mayan tribe lord. I was totally immersed in the newspaper when I heard a loud voice outside. This was followed by shrill shouts of a child. I went up to my window and looked out. I could not help but smile.
It was a stand-off between a Mom and her Little Guy. Th…

Love Of The Letter

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I read this article with a chuckle - http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/northamerica/usa/8643971/Lost-US-love-letter-delivered-53-years-late.html The ‘hero’ of the letter is now 74 years old. Indeed, he and his lady-love had tied the knot, but are now divorced. The letter was written in 1958.
That got me thinking; half way into 2011, the act of ‘writing’ a letter has become so quaint. One ‘types’ a letter under exceptional circumstances. The norm is to drop an email. In fact, the first ever hand-written letter I’ve received as an adult was in 2010. It was from my neighbour, who stays opposite to my flat. She is a gorgeous 60+ British lady. The letter was written on a small cream-coloured paper with floral corners. The hand-writing was slanted and loopy, clearly written with a fountain pen. The letter was neatly folded midway and enclosed in a white envelope. The letter asked me if I could join her for tea on the morrow, at her home. Or if the weather permits, we could walk up…

Asuras of Today

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I was watching the Sidney Sheldon-like Rupert Murdoch drama unfolding on BBC. That was when the marquee crawled by, informing me about the Mumbai blasts. Shocked, I switched over to an Indian news channel. The same old scenes greeted the viewer – chaos, stunned people milling around, news anchors catching hold of anyone who can give a version, injured being physically lifted and taken away, policemen trying their best to control the crowds.
I was waiting with bated breath to see the statements from our leaders. Will the statements finally reflect justifiable anger and instil trust in the people; that the government will move swiftly, effectively, ruthlessly this time? I was hoping for too much. When the statement came, it merely said, ‘Strongly condemn the blasts’; followed by ‘Urging people of Mumbai to show unity’ and many other clichés. I think these statements are in large files that are marked ‘Post-attack statements’. So each time there is an attack, the same statements are re…

Revisiting Classics - Jane Eyre

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There’s always a meditative joy in re-reading a classic; especially when one is older and hopefully wiser because of life’s travails. Subtle interpretations that one missed in the flush of youth now bloom gently and delightfully.
Jane Eyre is not a story that can be easily erased from memory. The characters of this story inhabit your mind for a long time, urging you to introspect, question beliefs and redefine ‘love’ as we see it today. I have to admit, I’ve not read any of the modern family sagas. I am not embarrassed to read love stories; it’s just that I feel nothing new, nothing stirring has been written in a long time. Nothing has compelled me to put myself in the protagonist’s shoes and ponder ‘What would I do if I were her?’ I am also guilty of basing my decisions on reviews, excerpts. But really, if something can’t catch my attention with an excerpt, there is no way I can wade through the book.
As a youngster, when I had read Jane Eyre (I think it was an abridged version…

Psychology of Corruption

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At my previous work place, I came to know of a couple of senior managers who were sacked due to ‘integrity breach’. I was told they had forged bills while filing for their claims. I thought it was a huge amount that they had forged; but no. It was a few hundreds. But still, it was an act of deception and they had to leave. I did not know them personally, but I was surprised. Their CTC at that time would have exceeded 15 lakhs per annum. So why did they cheat for a few hundreds? The answer is simple – there was an opportunity to take extra money, so they did it. The act was not driven by some desperate need; it is more of an attitude – kis ka baap ka jaatha hai/yaar appan mane gantu?
Similarly, I overheard with amusement a conversation between two young employees at the cafeteria. They had the earnest, well-scrubbed look of college freshers. One of them was pissed off that his project manager was not approving his claims for snacks and dinner. If an employee stays back late in office,…

Strictly Come Dieting

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I’ve never got the hang of ‘dieting’. Ever. I so admire people who are able to stick to a weight-loss diet; I don’t envy the diet, but I do envy their will-power. But there’s another reason why I can never associate the word ‘diet’ with seriousness.
I think it was only when my weight hit a particular number (if it were marks, I would have won a medal at my degree course for sure), that I contemplated on a serious diet. I knew that a diet without a proper exercise is useless, but taking time out for the gym was impossible in my schedule. I was also happy to see that all my team members had similar issues. The only difference was that they were all guys, and I was the only girl.
Once, I caught two of them cribbing. Both have the same first names. Both had become gigantic. And I remember both had been lean when they joined the team. As we sat sipping coffee, these two kept calling each other unpleasant names. Finally one of them turned to me and said, ‘I have become fat because of thi…