Monday, December 28, 2009


If there is a person in history I wish I could meet, it is my Dadu, my maternal grandfather. I never had the fortune to meet him, but from everything I've heard about him, he would have been such a wonderful person to know.

It is his 31st death anniversary today. And life goes on.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Who would I be?

Who would I be today if my life had taken different turns?

If we had stayed in Chandigarh and not moved to Delhi?

If I hadn't been ill so often as a child?

If I had gone to the US for college and not chosen to stay back?

If I had not insisted on taking up a subject all my near and dear ones advised me against?

If I had followed through with the idealistic dreams I was beginning to have back in college?

If I had taken the year off after college to figure out what I want to do, instead of joining a Master's program I just happened to get into?

Our experiences shape us, make us the person we are. I always wonder who I would've been if things hadn't happened the way they did. Would I be more focused, less negative? Would I be more confident and less insecure about my capabilities? Would I still have friends who love me the way mine do?

I've never really gone after a dream. Life has always happened to me, and I've gone with the flow.

For the first time in a very long time, I'm pursuing a dream. As my near and dear ones have been pointing out to me, it's timed badly, the going will be tough, the chances of things working out are slim, and I also know life won't be any easier if things do work out.

But I also know that if I don't give this thing one shot, I will always wonder "what if". And regret not going for it.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Thoughts while watching Avatar

Not much to say really, except:

The storyline could easily be mistaken for:
a) A Bollywood movie from the 80s
b) Pocahontas
c) Lion King, even

The visuals were indeed brilliant. And watching it in 2D really wouldn't have had the same impact.

The setting could as easily have been the forests of South America or somewhere similar, rather than a whole new planet.

And finally, something that struck me. What gives humans this unbearable arrogance to assume that they can go wherever they want and make it their own? They've done it through the centuries - the British did it to India and other countries, the Amercians did it to the Native Indians, and in Avatar, they do it to the Na’vi on Pandora. It's really quite stupid, if you ask me.

For another very interesting perspective, you may read this.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

I like... (Part 2)

NB: In continuation of this, partly because I've been cribbing way too much on twitter and facebook lately, and partly because I need it.

I like *drumroll*:

Dhaba food. Cases in point: Kake da Hotel (CP), Giani da Dhaba, (Kasauli), and the tea-stall across the street.

The changing weather in my Tree theme on Gmail - especially there's lightning, rain, or snow!

An unexpected compliment.

The startled blush someone gets when I give them an unexpected compliment.

Gol gappas from the neighbourhood market.

Dairy Milk chocolate.

Anything with chocolate, really.

The high of closing a project assignment that was my lead.

The sound of raindrops on the roof and the windows.

Playing Life or Uno with the family or the friends - and winning.

Getting Fevicol all over my hands, and removing it once it dries up.

The first glimpse of the brother at the airport when he comes home for the holidays.

Appreciation from a client.

The satisfaction of a job well done.

Late night conversations.

My dog's reaction when I come back from a trip - a repetition, yes, but it is so heartwarming.

My dog's ability to make the onlooker feel she's never received a decent meal in her life - particularly when there's cake around.

And her tendency to come plonk herself right in front as soon as a camera is pulled out.

Getting a math problem figured out.

The tweets back and forth that make for such fun conversations.


My blanket on a winter night - which is where I'm headed right now.

This was fun! :)

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Taking the plunge

This post has been lying in my drafts for the past 5 days because I haven't been sure if I want to post it or not. But I have decided to go for it, because after all, what the hell?

long-drawn emotional venting post ahead. You may choose to leave now.

When you first meet me, depending on whether it is a familiar or unfamiliar setting for me, you will either think that I'm a snob who refuses to speak to anyone, or that I'm loud and obnoxious.

Being an introvert, I don't open up easily, and don't talk too much in situations where I'm not feeling very comfortable. Which, I've learned it the past, gets perceived in a certain way. Once I do open up, however, I am loud and unrestrained in my opinions, of which there are many - as I'm sure you know if you've been following this blog and/or my tweets.

Most people who know me or meet me regularly see this second side of me. And added to this the fact that I'm known to lose my cool quite easily, I suppose you can't blame people for thinking I'm aggressive and confrontational.

The problem is, and which a lot of the people closest to me don't realise, is that when it comes to things that really matter, I'm really not confrontational at all. I'm perfectly willing to get into a fight with the rickshaw-wallah for trying to fleece me, but I didn't scream at my best friend for believing I had lied to her till four years after the event. I'll sulk and throw tantrums over the most irrelevant things my family or friends may do, but not really bring up what's troubling me the most. I'd much rather let a relationship slip away than go to the effort of bringing up what's bothering me out in the open and thrashing it out.

There are currently at least three people - two of whom are extremely important to me - in my life with whom I should probably bring up things rather than simply let the resentment grow. But I haven't, and probably won't, because I simply don't seem to have it in me to lay things on the line when it comes to the really important things in life.

The only spot of sunshine in all of this is that none of these people have even realised that there could potentially be something bothering me; or if they have, they are choosing to be close-mouthed about it as me. And while this suits me, because it allows me to be an escapist for a while longer, it also peeves me that they haven't even noticed.

*sigh* Did I ever mention contradiction was my middle name?

Monday, December 07, 2009

What's in a phrase?

As a rule, I'm not someone who uses foul language. Well yes, I use bloody and hell and damn and several satisfying swear words, and all too frequently at that. But there are certain forms of profanity, which I have simply chosen not to include in my vocabulary, because I've never really felt I need them. I mean, it is so much more fun to call someone a schmuck and watch them become all puzzled while they try to figure out what that means.

At times of extreme irritation with any individual, I tend to tack on a "-and-a-half" to whatever I'm calling them - something I picked up from my friend while i was idle back in school. And at times of sheer out-and-out frustration, I label them a "dash-and-a-half" - and leave it to the listener to fill in the blanks. Juvenile? Perhaps. But it works for me.

In recent months, however, I have started finding comfort in the phrase "Je m'en fous". Loosely translated, for those not familiar with française, it means "I don't give a damn." Literally, however, it translates into a line I wouldn't use in my everyday language.

I've always known it's one of those phrases you should be careful about using - our French professor warned us that the very first time she told us about it. But there's something so succinctly expressive about it, that honestly, my dear, je me'n fous.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Bhopal Gas Tragedy: I am a Bhopali

Peter Griffin asks us all to declare ourselves Bhopali, to help bring attention to the gas leak tragedy that happened 25 years ago, on the blog he has started about this.

I have no hesitation calling myself a Bhopali, especially since my paternal grandparents were settled in Bhopal - well, Bairagarh - and my uncle still lives there.

As I wrote on his post:
I am indeed a Bhopali.

My mother was 6 months pregnant with me, and my father, based in Lagos, had sent her home to Bhopal to stay with my paternal grandparents till my birth. She refused to stay without him, and in the face of opposition from everyone in the family, went back to Lagos a couple of weeks before the gas leak happened.

I always say I get my stubbornness from my mother, and she always bemoans that fact. But her stubbornness gave me life, and you can't take that away.

Doesn't your heart go out for the scores who weren't that lucky?

(Link via India Uncut)

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


This morning, I got into office to see a mail from a colleague, marked to almost everyone in the office, informing us that she had deleted us from her Facebook account. Her reason was straightforward and simple: she wants to delink her personal and professional lives.

With the onslaught of social media/social networking/whatever you choose to call it, these lines have got increasingly blurred in the past few years. Everyone's blogging, tweeting, uploading photos on Facebook, adding connections on LinkedIn, to the point where virtual friends have begun taking precedence over real-life friends, and there really is no boundary between the personal and professional spaces.

I so far haven't really gone one way or the other. I have colleagues on my Facebook list, but there are those who get to see stuff and those who are on Limited profile. My blogs are listed on LinkedIn, but twitter isn't linked, and I'm contemplating removing the blogs too. In fact, my other blog, which was started essentially to crib about my job, never really took off, because paranoia about clients coming across the damn thing stopped me from putting almost anything I wanted to.

Even when I started this blog, or joined twitter for that matter, the original intention was to keep my real name completely out of it. Since almost all my readers in the initial stages (and even now, for that matter) were people who knew me in the real world, however, their addressing me by my name in the comments pretty much gave it away.

I know people who are very comfortable with having no distinction between their personal and professional lives, and in fact use one to further the other. Which I have no issues with; it's just I would never be completely comfortable doing that.

And my respect for my colleague has gone up tremendously for having it in her to tell us outright how she feels about it and that she intends to remove us from her list.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Here vs. there

Some months back, I visited an incredibly beautiful place, which happens to house the Santa Maria de Montserrat cathedral. Mass was just ending, and a priest was handing out what seemed to be their equivalent of prasaad, so my colleague and I went up to him. He asked in Spanish if we were Christian, and when we said no, shook his head and turned away.

Yesterday, on Guru Purab, I visited a gurdwara after a long, long time. As I was leaving, the priest sitting near the door stopped me and sent me back inside, because I hadn't noticed that prasaad was being handed out inside.

And, no I'm not a Sikh either.

What a difference.

And yet, there are complete asses in this world who will say such things about their own country.

Yes, I know the two things probably aren't comparable. But still.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Thoughts of the Day

a) I am clearly following the wrong people on twitter.
b) I get the maximum tweetable/bloggable thoughts when I'm travelling and have absolutely no access to the Internet.
c) At least the Jet and IA in-flight magazines have things worth reading. Kingfisher, on the other hand, persists in distributing that God-awful Hi! magazine. WHY would I want to stare at picture of people who seem to have nothing better to do than pose for photos in clothes and accessories that a, I can't afford, and b, look downright weird and uncomfortable half the time?
d) Why do things seem to happen when I go to Bangalore?!? Last time I was there, the CM of Andhra Pradesh disappeared. Today, a train with more than a 1000 passengers got hijacked and was held hostage for 5 hours. And yet, all the twitterati of India seems to be talking about is iPhones and some Fashion Week that seems to be on.

My rant against twitter really is due, innit?

Also, an open letter à la India Uncut:

Dear man in the hotel room in the Radisson,

When your room is directly in front of a flyover, it would be truly appreciated if you didn't stand in front of your television in your underwear with your curtains wide open. It wasn't a particularly pleasant sight in my half-asleep state.

Thank you.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

And it begins...

I've been expecting this ever since my cousin announced her engagement earlier this year. I am, after all, the next in line.

However, naive person that I am, I expected it to start with subtle hints. You know, my age being mentioned a few times, my plans being asked about, and so on and so forth.

What I did not expect was being taken aside by aunts and uncles and being told outright that "it is time". I could deal with the teasing from cousins, no sweat, and laugh off their offers to find me someone, but how on earth do you stand and continue to smile politely in front of the elder generation?

The highlight of last night, however, came when my aunt, someone I am very fond of, in her attempts to convince me that I should lose no time getting married, decided to tell me about someone she knows. Apparently, this lady put off getting married till a late age (probably late-20s - that's ancient, innit?), and some 3-year-old chit of a girl saw the bride and exclaimed, "But she doesn't look like a bride, she looks like a budhi!"

I would like to announce at this stage that there will be no children allowed at my wedding.

The other highlight of last night, of course, came from the fact that everyone who had seen me last month at another family gathering, exactly a week before this, exclaimed on how I've lost so much weight. Of course, they also commented on the stark contrast between the drained me who had come straight from a client site in a fairly ghati outfit last time, and the me who came all dressed up yesterday, but we shall not go there.

However, I would rather gain back those lost kilos than deal with completely non-subtle Bengalis again. Thank you.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Weekend rants

I know I've said this before, and I'll probably say it countless times in the future as well, but I hate shopping.

What with Pujo round the corner, as well as sundry occasions coming up in the extended family as well as friend circle, shopping has been something of a priority for the past few weeks. And with barely a week to go for Pujo, I am as usual scrambling to get things ready in time.

If I have to go shopping, however, I like it to be focused - I go knowing exactly what I need to buy, find it, and exit. Unfortunately, this doesn't always work, especially since my idea of a good buy is never in keeping with what is in "fashion". Tell me, are fashions made with complete and utter discomfort kept in mind?

Getting my hair cut is always a fairly traumatic experience. As readers of this blog will know, my hair is the one thing about myself that I am actually vain about. And every time I see those inches of hair falling to the ground, I swear, a little piece of me dies. However, sheer boredom with my current style finally demanded that I agree to shortening my hair by at least three inches, and so, the deed was done yesterday. I also decided to get it nicely set in curls for the family function last evening; alas, my hair is so freakin' gorgeously straight that the curls open up within an hour.

On another note, why does everyone in a hair salon have such weird hairstyles? With the spikes and the strange colours? Is it compulsory to take advantage of the services their workplace offer, or are they trying to advertise their services. Because I gotta tell you, if it's the latter, it's not working. In any salon I've ever been to.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

The first time

More than a decade ago, the family and I were at a coffee shop in some hotel in Chandigarh fairly late in the night - why we were there of all places I have no idea; it wasn't a very frequent haunt for us.

When the bill came, my dad looked at me, grinned, and asked, "Do you want to see it take really long for the bill to get cleared?" Intrigued, I nodded, and he whipped out his credit card, and gave it to the waiter. And he was right; they took nearly half an hour to swipe that card and bring back the bill for him to sign.

I went shopping earlier today and took out my card to pay for the one shirt I ended up buying; I was at the counter for less than a minute.

I have never yet been able to use my card without remembering the first time I ever heard of this thing called a credit card.

I'm a sucker for nostalgia.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Rants from the Sickbed

Fifth. Day. Running.

This is NOT good. My fever keeps fluctuating, and my grumpiness has reached new levels. I have spent quite some time berating my poor exhausted family over past grudges, mostly the change in my room's layout some months back (I hate it when that's done) and me not being allowed to buy something I've really wanted for the last five freakin' years. I'm fairly sure that if the gal pals were around, I would start screaming at them about the infamous incident from our third year; luckily, so far, only one of them has been brave enough to call and ask how I am.

If there is anything I have hated about this illness, it is the visits to the doc. First off, I don't like my doc. Her accent is all pretentious, and she talks to us as if we're 5-year-olds. Which really isn't wise around my dad, because ze father knows as much about medicines as most doctors. Very cool ze father is. So there.

Secondly, if I have to watch that damn LiveMedia screen in the clinic's waiting room one more time, I will just scream. Number one, it is clearly not "Live" if my two visits over the space of 48 hours had the same jokes being run. In fact, given that I was back in the waiting room after seeing the doc while my dad went to pick up medicines, and the same stuff from an hour back was being played, they clearly need a new name for themselves. Number two, not one of their jokes was funny. Zilch. Nada. AND, to add insult to injury, ALL their so-called jokes were grammatically wrong!!! There is major gnashing of teeth happening here.

On another note, what is with bloggers starting their posts with an apology for how long the post is? How do you actually know when you start the post how long it's going to be? I have never till date written a post which was exactly identical to how it seemed in my head before I actually started typing it; they always, always take a shape and form of their own. Plus, how does apologizing for the length make people want to read on till the end. Either they'll read the whole thing or they'll get bored halfway and leave - your regret at making them read such a long thing won't change their mind either way, because chances are, if the post is really as long as that, by the time they've reached that halfway point, they'll have forgotten all about your apology anyway.

I think I'm going to stop now.

Monday, July 27, 2009

The universal conspiracy strikes again

I officially hate lizards.

I got stranded in the rain today yet again (what is it with sudden rainstorms and me walking on the road?). It was past 8.30 PM and not a single rickshaw on the road. I managed to reach a nearby market and take shelter there.

These poor moths were getting attracted by the light of the ATM, flying towards it, banging into the glass door and sliding down. And these four huge lizards were sitting there, waiting to bring out their tongue and grab the next moth to fall.


Saturday, July 18, 2009

Of policies and degrees...

The father raised an interesting point this morning.

One of the leading investment firms in India asks for various documents when you invest with them. As proof of birth, they accept only the Class X certificate that CBSE hands out to all those who clear the Boards. Useful document this one is; we all used it as our date of birth proof when applying to college, since I don't know many people who know where their actual birth certificate is lying today.

But here's the father's point (which I think is extremely valid):
"i wonder if this is legally tenable - in the sense that {this firm} is denying non-10th pass/fail adults, who may have investible surpluses, the right to invest in their funds."
Are we saying that people who haven't cleared their Class X Boards can't make these kind of investements? Rather a bizarre assumption, isn't it, that people who haven't studied past a certain level won't have the money to put into the market?

This reminds me of the story by Somerset Maugham (and for the life of me I can't recall the story's name). The janitor of a church, who has worked there since he was a teenager, is suddenly asked to leave by the new vicar simply because the latter has discovered that the janitor is uneducated. While walking home, the janitor tries to think of what he should tell his wife when he sees a tobacco shop and comes up with the bright idea of setting one up himself. It turns into a raging success, and over the next few years, he has a whole chain of stores and ends up a fairly wealthy man. The story ends with his bank manager advising him to invest his idle money somewhere to which he responds saying he can't since he can't read or write. The astonished bank manager says something to the effect of "if you've made so much money with knowing how to read or write what would you be doing if you could." "I'd be the janitor in St. Peter's Church."

There you go.

Update: The father very kindly pointed me to the link of the story - The Verger.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

From hibernation to the Half-Blood Prince

Well, at least Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince achieved something... it got me out of hibernation mode.

PVR was running "paid preview" shows of the movie tonight, a day before it officially releases in India. So of course, I went.

In a nutshell? Disappointing.

As people who have been following this blog since the beginning of time would know, I get all excited about the HP movies, but I also tend to go in for them with zero expectations. Now, the last two movies - Goblet of Fire and Order of the Phoenix - managed to impress me somewhat, primarily thanks to their climax scenes, which were fairly well made.

The sixth movie, however, failed in two major areas: a, way too much importance and screen time given to the silly teen love angles, and it was done really stupidly, which meant that all through the movie, I was groaning in exasperation at regular intervals. (I mean, Ginny tying Harry's shoelaces? What the hell was that?) B, the climax scene was really, really, really lame. And the ending was plain dumb.

Of the two added scenes, the first one, which became the opening to the movie, was fairly cool, and you could see why it was added. I had an impact. The second one, however, was poorly done, pointless, and added nothing to the story.

The characters: Emma Watson continues to annoy me, and is really too pretty to be playing Hermione. Her hair's not even bushy! Ron's role was reduced dramatically for some odd reason, which was a pity I thought, and totally unnecessary. Yet again, not enough of the Weasley twins. Lupin's and Tonks' romance was mentioned rather dismissively. And Michael Gambon just doesn't work as Dumbledore. And I didn't see the point of showing Fenrir Greyback if they weren't going to build on it - almost all the incidents talking about him were cut out.

Voldemort's backstory was cut short ruthlessly - only the two critical scenes were shown. Dumbledore tells Harry nothing about what the horcruxes are likely to be, so God alone knows what they'll do in the next two movies.

I'm currently rereading the series - backwards. On the fifth book right now; four more to go!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Things I have wanted to blog about... the past few months, but haven't:

  • Twitter
  • The Hindu Adoption Law
  • The Delhi Metro Construction
  • My travels
  • My hair
  • My dog
  • The fire in my house, five days after I commented on this post

Sunday, May 31, 2009


There was a girl I used to go to school with who I used to occasionally speak to because we were at the time both applying for colleges in the US. We weren't friends per se, and moved in very different circles, but our applications were grounds for conversation at the very least. She once mentioned to me she wanted to major in mathematics, and then become a professor in a university. She was quite bemused when I thought this was a very cool idea, because most apparently didn't think so.

Right after school, when I took the momentous decision to take up psychology, and follow the career path of becoming a psychologist/counsellor, I was advised against this by everyone. Literally. Family, friends, pretty much everyone who knew me told me I wasn't cut out for it and that I shouldn't do this.

Which is probably the reason I decided I will do this.

She, on the other hand, was the only person who didn’t say any such thing – mainly, I suspect, because she didn’t really know all that well. At the time, however, we had both laughed and talked about how we’ll both go down these paths and show the world we’re right.

However, as we all know, while studying for my counselling paper month before my final year exams, going through characteristics of a good counsellor made me realize that I really wasn’t cut out for it. It took me another two years to get convinced I should enter the field I am in right now, and I’m still not entirely show I know exactly what I do want in life.

She, I recently discovered, did major in math, but is now working in an investment firm somewhere.

Have you read the book Aparajito by Bibhutibhushan Banerjee?

No, you probably wouldn't have heard of this book. It's the sequel to Pather Panchali by the same author. I only know of these books because I love Satyajit Ray's Feluda stories, and while reading his biography I discovered how he had made a trilogy of movies based on these two books.

I read the book two years ago, and quite liked the book. It's a simple story, about a time none of us can probably relate to; after all, a scholarship of two rupees is, well, laughable these days.

But there are parts of it which I think I related to a great deal; particularly since these are things I've been wondering about some time now. When we're in school and college, many of us are full of dreams - to make it big in life, to change the world, to make a difference. Yet, how many of us actually see those dreams come true? We fall into the monotony of juggling our personal and professional lives, and that's all life becomes. Those dreams get buried somewhere, to be thoughts of rather wistfully on occasion, but buried away for the most part.

Apu, the protagonist of Aparajito, on the other hand, never gave up on these dreams. He never attained them, but the idealism of his adolescence never left him either.

How many of us can say that?

Sunday, April 05, 2009

The Big Read: Another meme

And so we have another meme.

The Big Read reckons that the average adult has only read 6 of the top 100 books they've printed.
1) Look at the list and bold those you have read.
2) Italicize those you intend to read.
3) Underline the books you LOVE.
4) Reprint this list on your own blog so we can try and track down these people who've read 6 and force books upon them ;-)


1 Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen (my first Austen. And my second favourite)
2 The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien (it took me three years to finish this. Mainly because I took a 2 years and 10 months break in the middle)
3 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte (ugh. I have no idea why I did this to myself)
4 Harry Potter series - JK Rowling (well, duh.)
5 To Kill a Mockingbird
6 The Bible
7 Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte (Technically, I haven’t read the whole thing. I think I gave up halfway through the last chapter and watched the ending on Star Movies.)
8 Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell
9 His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman
10 Great Expectations - Charles Dickens
11 Little Women - Louisa M Alcott
12 Tess of the D'Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy
13 Catch 22 - Joseph Heller
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare
15 Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier
16 The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien
17 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulks
18 Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger (I didn’t like this one much. Loved the protagonist’s character though.)
19 The Time Traveller's Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
20 Middlemarch - George Eliot
21 Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell (Hated this one.)
22 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald
23 Bleak House - Charles Dickens
24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy (Well I started it. By the second chapter, I had no idea which princess was being referred to and therefore gave up. Hey, I was 16)
25 The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
26 Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh
27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
29 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll
30 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame
31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
32 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens
33 Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis
34 Emma - Jane Austen
35 Persuasion - Jane Austen
36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - CS Lewis (why is this separate from #33? And I have seen the movie though.)
37 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini
38 Captain Corelli's Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres
39 Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
40 Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne
41 Animal Farm - George Orwell
42 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving
45 The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins
46 Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery
47 Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy
48 The Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Atwood
49 Lord of the Flies - William Golding
50 Atonement - Ian McEwan
51 Life of Pi - Yann Martel
52 Dune - Frank Herbert
53 Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons
54 Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen
55 A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth
56 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57 A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens
58 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
62 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
63 The Secret History - Donna Tartt
64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
65 Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
66 On The Road - Jack Kerouac
67 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy
68 Bridget Jones's Diary - Helen Fielding
69 Midnight's Children - Salman Rushdie
70 Moby Dick - Herman Melville
71 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens
72 Dracula - Bram Stoker
73 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett
74 Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson
75 Ulysses - James Joyce
76 The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath
77 Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome
78 Germinal - Emile Zola
79 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray
80 Possession - AS Byatt
81 A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens (the only Dickens I have ever been able to sit through)
82 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
83 The Color Purple - Alice Walker
84 The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro
85 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert
86 A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
87 Charlotte's Web - EB White
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90 The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton (it’s still a favourite! :D)
91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
92 The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery
93 The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks
94 Watership Down - Richard Adams (I can’t place this one. I haven’t read it, but why does it sound so familiar?)
95 A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole
96 A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute (A complete and all-time favourite. Read it if you haven’t!)
97 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas
98 Hamlet - William Shakespeare
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl
100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo

Well, 29 out of 100 isn't bad. Well above the average really.

Anyone who reads this blog and has a blog, you're tagged. And if I don't know you read this blog, then tell me so we can compare our lists! :)

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Utter darkness

I was gone for a week. One week with no access to any English newspapers, the Internet, television, the radio, or any inkling of what was happening in India. Sure, I spoke to the parents everyday, but the sharing of news there was limited to the family and events around home. 

Only on the last day was I told about the attack in Lahore on the police academy there. And on asking about what's happening here at home, I was told Varun Gandhi continues to hog the limelight. C'est tout.

The day after I got back, I read about the supposedly estimable L K Advani saying that Varun Gandhi reminds him of Vajpayee and and other leaders of yore. Pretty much confirming what any sane person has suspected all along - Varun Gandhi said those things mainly because he knows, and the BJP knows, that if he passes communal statements, gets the media's attention (and therefore the public's), he can win by a very comfortable margin. Divisive politics works in this country every bloody time.

And then there's the wonderful Sanjay Dutt. Who comes across as a bigger ass every time he opens his mouth. First it was the utterly annoying statement when he said "Women should not stick to their father's surname after marriage after marriage just for the sake of fashion. It will be a disrespect for their husbands if they do so." as well something about sisters never getting along with their brother's wife. (Do read that entire interview by the way - I would find it screamingly hilarious if I didn't want to hang upside down by his toes.) Then comes the supremely chauvinistic statement about his wife's decision making being limited to what gets cooked for dinner. And now I hear he's accusing the Congress of pretty much killing his father. I don't how much truth lies in the sob story he's spouting, and frankly I don't care. All I know is the guy's a bloody jackass. And I'm rather glad he can't contest elections.

The latest news is about Jagdish Tytler getting a clean chit from the CBI. Where the Sikh riots of 84 are concerned, I have only hearsay to go by. But from all accounts, they were no less the Gujarat carnage of 2002. And if this man had anything to do with them, then he's no less than Narendra Modi, and deserves to be punished for his crimes. And if the Congress is shielding him, then my last hope is really gone.

Because the way I see it, I don't think the Congress has done too great a job in the past five years. But tell me, what other option do we have? The BJP? Whose coming to power means every bit of Hindu fanaticism from the Rediff message boards coming into play in the streets of India? Or Mayawati, who will take every paisa left in the Stock Exchange (oh, I hear it crosses 10K after the G20 talks! Will it last?) ad use it as a mattress. Or our lady Mamata Banerjee, who refused to let Ratan Tata do to Singur what his family did to Jamshedpur, but promises to turn Kolkata into the new London?

I was in Ahmedabad a couple of weeks back, and yes, I was impressed with the roads and the infrastructure. So sure, I can see why people rave about what a brilliant administrator Narendra Modi is. And I can get why they say he's good for Gujarat, and probably good for India. From a development perspective.

But here's my thing: where do we draw the line between good for us in terms of what we get, and good, period? Between right, and convenient? Because he could maybe bring about change in terms of roads, and infrastructure, and lighting, and housing, and all of that, do we forget that even if he didn't encourage the 2002 massacres, as Tehelka would have us believe, he definitely stood by and watched it all happen?

Till today afternoon, to my mind, the Congress was the best of the worst. Our only hope amidst all the inept, self-serving goons who call themselves our politicians. But if they're shielding Tytler for the same things Sonia Gandhi called Modi a maut ka saudagar for, where do we turn?

Sorry for rambling so much. It's 1.30 AM. And I'm tired. I'm tired of wondering where my country is headed. I'm tired of seeing the news channels go mad about one brief conversation between Manmohan Singh and Barack Obama, like a little boy who's exhilarated at getting a smile from his favourite teacher. I'm tired of seeing the same politicians say the same things and proving yet again that we don't deserve such leaders.

I want one leader. Who actually means what he/she says. Who really does want to do some good, and is willing to do it, and is capable of doing it. I want one single, solitary ray of hope.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Femininity is wearing a dress? I don't think so!

I usually don't post responses to most of the blogs I read, but this one was so absurd, I simply had to. This guy is basically saying that it's great that men have now learned to cook and clean, but isn't too happy about how women can't take care of themselves anymore. But what pains him even more is the fact that women don't dress like "ladies" anymore. They're always in trousers, or in jeans, never in dresses.

Here's my response:

Honestly, I found this post extremely insensitive. Yes, the world has changed, and so have traditional gender roles. Men can now do domestic stuff and take care of themselves (more power to them!) and women are often hopeless around the house (I can't cook to save my life).

But to judge a person's femininity by the way she dresses is quite ridiculous. I don't wear skirts or dresses, because I don't find them comfortable. I prefer trousers and jeans any day. I'm Indian, so I do wear salwar kameezes very often, which is a "feminine" outfit, but again, more because they're comfortable. I usually don't enjoy wearing what considered in fashion either, because let's face it, they're not the most practical things.

Does that make me boring? Sure, a lot of my friends tell me so. Does it make me less of a woman or less "ladylike"? I refuse to believe so.

I've always believed people should dress for themselves, and what suits them. Not to cater to the whims of others, or what's "in", or what men like to ogle at.

Any thoughts?

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Wild Wild West

The current issue of Tehelka has an excellent point raised by a reader in the Bouquets and Brickbats section.

Daniela from Mumbai says:

YOU SQUEAL loud about the way ‘The West’ portrays India in Slumdog Millionaire. As a white woman, I feel embarrassed at how Bollywood and the Indian media portray the West. You may believe that India’s complexity surpasses the mental capabilities of westerners, while Bollywood has done an excellent job in portraying ‘The West’ to its own well-educated audience. Let’s see: white women enjoy wearing strips of red latex barely covering their pubic hair. White women want to be old Big B’s girlfriends and never wear more than underwear in his apartment. Most Australian women’s vocabulary does not extend beyond “Sorry?” but at least they wear hot pants to make up for their lack of intelligence. Also, in the West, male nurses are welcome to make advances to female patients in hospitals without ever earning a sexual harassment lawsuit. That is because the white woman really enjoys being fondled by Abhishek Bachchan, who — like most nurses — lives in a beach-front apartment. Drug dealers are Jamaican-hat-wearing white dimwits, and live close to brothels staffed with lusty white women, because each female tourist works the mattress for at least half of her Indian holiday. Perhaps this is why Indians ask me how much I charge for a pop, though I may be attired in full Indian dress, displaying my mangalsutra. Some of these Bollywood fantasies may exist in the West, but does that make them apt representations of an entire culture? And then again: does it matter? It reflects more on the Indian mind than the western, so why should people in the West bother? They don’t. Why do you? Your interest in the West barely outstretches white porn in Palika Bazaar and H1B Visas. I believe that Slumdog at least attempted to be somewhat interested in India, whereas Bollywood doesn’t go beyond Swiss Alps and the white woman because that is what audiences want. Danny Boyle has shown no malice toward India. I wonder sometimes whether the same can be said for Bollywood.

It's true, you know. I've always though Westerners are portrayed either as utter fools or ghastly villains in most Hindi movies, and I really don't see why.

I was watching Corporate last night (Why, I don't know; I have no particular high opinion of Madhur Bhandarkar's movies and why he gets so much hype is beyond me. Plus Corporate has got to be one of Kay Kay's worst performances) and there is this scene where the American investor is talking to the Finance Minister. Either the guy portraying that role was a really bad actor, or they just wanted him to sound like a blustering weirdo.

Look at Slumdog Millionaire, even. The scene in Agra where the American tourists express horror on seeing kids being beaten up, and are told, "This is the real India." To which the American dude responds, "I'll show what a real American is," and gives the kid a nice amount of cash. I mean, kya? What was that supposed to mean? What was the point of that utterly ridiculous dialogue?

Indians can be incredibly immature, especially in terms of what they find humorous. And since they do have this insatiable desire to get recognition for the rest of the world, they need to understand that all the great work they do, all the wonderful movies they make, are all likely to be of no use if we continue to portray Westerners in such poor light all the time.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

A night of horror

I wrote this post three years ago when a friend's dog was seriously ill. I saw the last half hour of Marley and Me the other day, and well, I howled all through the last ten minutes. However, it also prompted me to come finish this post which I had started two years ago but never got round to finishing.


01 April 2007

One of my biggest failings has always been that I collapse under pressure. I simply go to pieces and start raving and ranting about what needs to be done, rather than actually doing it. Two nights ago, however, I discovered that if someone I truly care about is in need, I can stay calm and do what needs to be done. Yes, I do need to take three or four deep breaths first, and my fingers tremble constantly while dialing the phone, but I can manage.

Have you ever been utterly helpless? Ever watched someone you love dearly thrash about in agony, while all you can do is look on in horror? I have.

I have a golden retriever. In my very humble and completely objective opinion, she is one of the prettiest golden retrievers in the world.

My practical exams got over the other day, and around 8 in the evening, I had just gone up to my room in the evening to start studying for the theory papers. I entered my room and heard some commotion downstairs. I came out to the landing outside my room and I saw the parents and the brother crowding around the princess. She was having a seizure.

My father was busy trying to put something between her mouth so she wouldn't bite her tongue. My mother was going on repeating "she's having a seizure, she's having a seizure", and my brother was saying "I know" to my mother while helping my father. I ran down and started dialing the vet's number, who of course, didn't pick up the phone.

The seizure ended within a couple of minutes, but soon after she had another one. Since the vet still wasn't taking my call, Baba and my brother put her in the car and drove down to the vet's place. Mamma and I stayed home, still frantically trying to get in touch with the vet.

They got back home a couple of hours later. The vet had seen her, said this tends to happen with golden retrievers for no identifiable reason, that we should keep a watch over her through the night, and bring her back if it happened again. Within an hour or so of their return, Kyra had another seizure, this time biting her tongue in the process.

By this time, it was nearly midnight, so Baba decided he and my brother would spend the night in my brother's room and keep Kyra with them, in case it happened again. Turned out, it did. Kyra paced from one end of the room to the other all night, bumping into furniture in the process, since her vision seemed to be impaired for some reson too.

In the morning, they took her to the vet again, but they couldn't discover what had caused it.


Over a period of twelve hours, she had six seizures that night. It's been two years, and she's never had such an episode since, touch wood.

It's been two years, but it's amazing how the emotions and terror I feel when I think of that night haven't changed one bit.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Only The Heart

I was going through some old emails, and came across this gem of a poem I had read and fallen in love with eight years ago.

Note from the person who had sent me this poem: This poem is from Only The Heart by a writer called Brian Caswell. It is about Vietnamese refugees during that war and the troubles that they had and their search for freedom. This poem is in the Prologue and it was written by a poet called Thahn Tran.

Only the river knows
How it feels to flow
How it feels
To roll and boil and tumble over falls.
And go
Where no man tells you
Where to walk
Where to stand
How to feel.
Only the river knows these things...
And only the prisoner knows
The dream of freedom on his tongue.
Sweet foretaste of the summer wind
That blows
Across the waving green of the young rice,
Across the unchained current of the distant stream
Between the singing strands
Of taut stretched barrier-wire,
To speak the future freely
In guarded whispers.
Only the prisoner knows these things...
But only the heart knows
The song that has no words
To limit harmony.
The song that scorns despair, and blends for melodies.
The crash of rolling breakers dying,
And the silence of sap,
Rising in the trunks of ancient trees,
And the laughter of the children,
And the crying,
And the savour/fear of unexploded dreams.
Only the heart knows these things.
Only the heart sings...

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

I was thinking...

It is very important in life to have someone with whom you can have the most random conversations.

What the moon is looking like on a particular night, or what makes the gol gappas in one shop better than the other.

What you think the ideal age to die is, or how incredible Omar Abdullah's speech in parliament was.

Someone you can sms in the middle of the night simply because you need your phone balance to be a round number.

It's good to have people with whom you can have such conversations.

Monday, February 02, 2009

One Book Meme

One book you’re currently reading: The Grand Sophy by Georgette Heyer
One book that changed your life: Princess by Jean P Sasson
One book you’d want on a deserted island: The Masqueraders by Georgette Heyer
One book you’ve read more than once: Prisoner of Zenda by Anhtony Hope
One book you’ve never been able to finish: Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë
One book that made you laugh: The Masqueraders by Georgette Heyer
One book that made you cry: Love Story by Erich Segal
One book you keep rereading: The Feluda series by Satyajit Ray
One book you’ve been meaning to read: The Kite Runner by Khalid Hosseini
One book you believe everyone should read: The Harry Potter series by J K Rowling!!!

Grab the nearest book. Open it to page 56. Find the fifth sentence:
"Mr Markam's reply was lost to Prudence, but she had seen the scowl on his face when he had first perceived her." From The Masqueraders by Georgette Heyer.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Going down

I don't like stairs much, y'know? Quite apart from my fear of escalators and heights, there's just something about stairs that I don't like. Especially the winding ones, or the ones that leave gaps between the steps. And then there's the fact that I am known to trip on stairs every once in a while.

I have always predicted that I will die by falling down some staircase and breaking my neck. This feeling has got worse in recent times. I rarely start down any staircase without feeling like I'm about keel over. And there's this cursed staircase in my house which doesn't have a banister, which I have to use fairly frequently - that one's the worst.

I wonder if I died by falling down the stairs in my last birth.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

I like...

Looking at clouds and trying to make shapes out of them.

Standing under a building when it rains at night and watching the rain through the lights.

Watching an ice tray fill.

Walking on the beach and collecting shells.

Smelling the earth after a shower of rain.

Snuggling under a blanket and watching a movie with the family.

Staying up till 5 in the morning chatting with friends.

Getting calls at midnight on my birthday from people who matter.

Having my foot being used as a pillow by my dog.

Going for a long drive with the family.

Catching the eye of a friend over a joke no one else gets and bursting into giggles.

Being greeted every evening when I get home by an over enthusiastic golden retriever whose tail won't stop wagging.

Going through old photo albums.

Having a good hair day.

This was easier than I thought it would be. And it made me feel good. :D

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

99 things: A meme

This should be fun.

Things you've already done: bold

Things you want to do: italicize
Things you haven't done and don't want to - leave in plain font

1. started your own blog
2. slept under the stars
3. played in a band
4. visited hawaii
5. watched a meteor shower
6. given more than you can afford to charity
7. been to disneyland/world
8. climbed a mountain
9. held a praying mantis
10. sang a solo
11. bungee jumped
12. visited paris
13. watched a lightning storm at sea
14. taught yourself an art from scratch
15. adopted a child
16. had food poisoning
17. walked to the top of the statue of liberty
18. grown your own vegetables
19. seen the mona lisa in france
20. slept on an overnight train
21. had a pillow fight
22. hitch hiked
23. taken a sick day when you’re not ill
24. built a snow fort
25. held a lamb
26. gone skinny dipping
27. run a marathon
28. ridden a gondola in venice
29. seen a total eclipse
30. watched a sunrise or sunset
31. hit a home run
32. been on a cruise
33. seen niagara falls in person
34. visited the birthplace of your ancestors
35. seen an amish community
36. taught yourself a new language
37. had enough money to be truly satisfied
38. seen the leaning tower of pisa in person
39. gone rock climbing
40. seen michelangelo's david in person
41. sung karaoke
42. seen old faithful geyser erupt
43. bought a stranger a meal in a restaurant
44. visited africa
45. walked on a beach by moonlight
46. been transported in an ambulance
47. had your portrait painted
48. gone deep sea fishing
49. seen the sistene chapel in person
50. been to the top of the eiffel tower in paris
51. gone scuba diving or snorkelling
52. kissed in the rain
53. played in the mud
54. gone to a drive-in theatre
55. been in a movie
56. visited the great wall of china
57. started a business
58. taken a martial arts class
59. visited russia
60. served at a soup kitchen
61. sold girl scout cookies.
62. gone whale watching
63. gotten flowers for no reason
64. donated blood
65. gone sky diving
66. visited a nazi concentration camp
67. bounced a cheque
68. flown in a helicopter
69. saved a favorite childhood toy
70. visited the lincoln memorial
71. eaten caviar
72. pieced a quilt
73. stood in times square
74. toured the everglades
75. been fired from a job
76. seen the changing of the guard in london
77. broken a bone
78. been on a speeding motorcycle
79. seen the grand canyon in person
80. published a book
81. visited the vatican
82. bought a brand new car
83. walked in jerusalem
84. had your picture in the newspaper
85. read the entire bible
86. visited the white house
87. killed and prepared an animal for eating
88. had chickenpox
89. saved someone’s life
90. sat on a jury
91. met someone famous
92. joined a book club
93. lost a loved one
94. had a baby
95. seen the alamo in person.
96. swum in the great salt lake.
97. been involved in a law suit
98. owned a cell phone
99. been stung by a bee

This would be more fun if I had the time to add my comments on each of these, but such is life.