Showing posts from 2013

Making A Song And Dance...

If you, like me, came out of the cinema hall after watching Basic Instinct, and thought ‘Wow! What a wonderful soundtrack!’ you know you’re a misfit for life. Sure, there was a woeful shortage of underwear and the plotline was as thin and stretched as Stone’s lycra ...but damn! The music...the music!  So as a misfit, you always fall in a third category in all logical divisions of the world.  

See now, there are those who can dance, and those who can’t. I belong to a third category – those-who-think-they-can-but-really-can’t-and- don’t-give-a-damn. If there’s a shortage of dancers in your troupe and you need someone to fill a spot in a hurry...I’m your best bet. Oh...not that I promise to keep rhythm or step, or even be graceful. I’ll just be there...and do my thing. As I’ve mentioned elsewhere in this blog...organised dance to me is jumping from Point A to Point B and clapping my hands.
I realised I have this knack to ‘dance’ way back when I was school. I don’t know how or why I was…


You must’ve come across people like me. On the street, at the bus stop, on the train, in the airport, at the movies, banks...everywhere. We wear a trademark bored look. Not that we are bored; it’s just that our facial features have been arranged that way. We look as if nothing on earth excites us. I mean at times, even a dead piece of wood seems to have more expression. Indeed, when in company of strangers, I always run the risk of coming across as dull, doped...or both. Or worse, arrogant. Not that I don’t participate in ice-breaker conversations on weather and traffic, I do. But try as I may, I can only speak the two or three sentences – ‘Yes the weather is going crazy. Yeah the traffic is terrible. Yes, yes! In the 80s neither the traffic nor the weather was like this.’ And then I smile stupidly and nod and eventually look away to intently study the back of someone’s head, appearing as placid as a hippo peeking out of water.
But here’s the thing. In those few moments, I’d have stu…

An excerpt from 'The Revenge of Kaivalya'

The Story Behind The Name

In the early stages of my manuscript, I knew the title of my novel had to be the name of the principal character. And it could not be just any name. It had to fit into the storyline - from a time perspective, as well as setting the atmosphere. It had to sound ancient and also define the character. Tall order!
As I read up on the history of Vijayanagara, I hoped to come across a good, strong name...but history, largely, is about men and their wars and conquests. I hoped to select a name from our puranas. But nothing clicked. What about our stotras? Maybe the lalitha sahasranama? Or ashtalakshmi stotra? One evening I sat mulling on 'Kausalya'...thanks to the most famous line 'Kausalya supraja Rama purva sandhya pravarthathe' from the Suprabhata :) I went to bed with that line in my head.
The next morning, somehow, ‘Kausalya’ had transformed to ‘Kaivalya’. I did not remember coming across the name in any of my previous research. Curious, I looked up what ‘Kaivalya’ stoo…

The Twice Born

When I took a break from my corporate career in 2009 (has it been THAT long?) was both exhilarating and agonising at the same time. Exhilarating because I no longer had to wake up to the pinging of the inbox. Agonising because my bank account would not get replenished every thirty days.
On my last day at work, I sent out a good-bye email to my colleagues, and mentioned that I would now pursue projects that are soul-enriching and therefore, financial disasters. I had no clue what that meant – it just felt sexy to sound reckless and mysterious. A few of my colleagues who’d witnessed eccentric outbursts from me in the past, figured I’d be starting a cult, or joining one. A few others thought I was joining a competitor who’d given me an obscene offer; all this ‘soul-geel’ stuff was to throw them off-guard. But a large majority gave an all-knowing smile and yawned. They said this was temporary insanity. They laughed into my face and said I’ll be back in no time. I was not the ‘domesti…

The Return of The King

King Mahabali belongs to the Daitya clan of Asuras. Like his grandfather, the famous Prahlada, son of Hiranyakashyapu, Mahabali too holds a special place in Hindu mythology. The word ‘asura’ evokes a mental picture of a rakshasa – evil and cruel. In fact, the most famous Asuras – be it Ravana, or even Hiranyakashyapu for that matter, were all men of stupendous qualities. Their intelligence, ability to govern, prowess in warfare are all legendry. The name ‘asura’ is really a play on the word ‘sura’. It is said that during the Samudra manthan – or the churning of the primordial ocean – all kinds of celestial things emerged from the ocean. These were distributed among the two parties – the devas and asuras. It so happened that Varuni, daughter of Varuna and goddess of wine, emerged carrying the ‘sura’ or the intoxicant. She appeared dishevelled and shabby, and to top it, she was quarrelsome. The asuras were quite naturally reluctant to accept the sura from her – hence the name a-sura.

The Art of Chaklis

As an Iyengar, Gokulashtami is the most important festival for me. This festival has always meant serious business as far as I’m concerned – none of that easy cheer of a Deepavali. It is one of the toughest celebrations. Now those two words together are intriguing. But it’s true. The preparation for Gokulashtami is not for the weak-hearted. Krishna was born some 5000 odd years ago, in the month of July. Isn’t it absolutely fascinating that 5000 years down the line, we still herald His coming with the same fervour?
I don’t know how the tradition of making specific kinds of food for specific festivals started. But it interests me no end. Food, and everything that revolves around food – the way it is prepared, served, eaten – has always been an integral part of every ancient civilisation. Food keeps communities together, and is an essential component of the culture that is propagated down the generations. Elsewhere, I’d mused about the prasada made for Ram Navami – the ‘chitranna’ (lem…

Of Bhootas, Pretas and Pishachis

Back in school, as exams loomed nearer and nearer, I’d realize that the only way I’d get a decent pass mark was by drawing up a strict timetable. One that I would never follow anyway. What would start as one-chapter-a-day revision would boil down to read-the-goddamn-text-book-as-fast-as-you-can. And even in that panic, other pleasures, strictly rationed, could not be forgone. Karamchand  or Chitrahaar for example.
Well, I figured age would’ve added a bit more finesse in my studying methods. Age, as it turns out in my case, is just some hazy number. Even as I had to cogently discuss monoamine theories of depression, and even though I was swimming in serotonin and dopamine, I had to...just had to...catch a movie on TV...falling behind on my study schedule once again. The movie was ‘Ek thi daayan.’
What made me want to watch a movie with such a cheesy sounding title? Well...let me confess...I needed something to uplift the spirits. And nothing can do that better than Bollywood horror show…

We Are Like This Only

Apparently Air India is not very popular with Indians. I’ve heard this from the time IT opened up the doors to global travel. This was more than a decade ago when, for most of us, travel luxury was defined by Shatabdi. All of a sudden, the very same fellows who did jugaad for train berths were discussing service in Lufthansa, Singapore Airlines, BA and so on. Some of them spoke as if they had to sit next to the pilot to give him directions. But mention Air India and chi-thu would start. The two big issues are apparently the rude service and ‘aunty type’ hostesses. I’ve never understood this need for apsaras to serve you food just because you happen to be in an aeroplane. And rude service? It is a necessity....almost by popular demand.
If Air India flew directly to my destination, I’d travel by no other carrier. This has got nothing to do with patriotism. First of all, like the fabled Indian hospitality, Air India is so very generous about the luggage limits. And I so love the vibrant…

Book review - Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

After months of arduous literary reading (some of which made me pull my hair out); I decided to treat myself to a good old crime thriller. ‘Gone Girl’ came highly recommended; and I grabbed a copy. It was a pleasant couple of days, I must say.
‘Gone Girl’ written by Gillian Flynn comes with heavy-duty reviews. My copy came with an eye-catching orange label that screamed “‘Thriller of the year’- Observer”. Well, I tell ya...I was salivating as I turned page to 1.
So there’s Amy and Nick Dunne - love birds who get married. Amy is rich, famous, accomplished, beautiful, funny...the perfect vision men have for a wife. Nick is working class, sloppy, lopsided, warm, sense of humour, easy going – a perfect boyfriend. Perhaps not an ideal husband. Five years down the line, their marriage is on the rocks. Both of them are made redundant, and while Amy has plush funds to back her up – Nick is ass-broke. He gets to know his mother has a terminal illness, and decides to move back to his home to…